Airlines, Airports and Airliners 6 JUNE 2024

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This Week in Airliner, Airports and Airlines

DOT secures nearly $1 billion in refunds to airline passengers through new enforcement actions.
SAA reaches amicable settlement with US Aviation Authorities on delayed refunds for COVID period passenger tickets.
Ethiopian Airlines launches freetown route explore Freetown with Ethiopian new services via Ouagadougou.
ICAO and Uganda sign agreement to boost aviation development.
IATA Timatic AutoCheck to enhance seamless travel experience for Star Alliance Customers.
ICAO-Advancing strategic priorities for aviation in the Middle East Region.
IATA Launches FueIIS: Advanced Fuel Efficiency Analytics Solution.
Accidents and Incidents
Bonus Video - SAF Museum Pretoria Open Day 02.03.2024 Part 2 Statics and Displays

Airlines, Airports and Airliners News


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced enforcement actions against Lufthansa, South African Airways, and KLM Royal Dutch Airways for extreme delays in providing more than $900 million in refunds owed to passengers due to flights cancelled or significantly changed in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the consent orders, the three airlines are required to provide timely refunds to passengers when owed and to pay a civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury. The enforcement actions are part of DOT's ongoing work to ensure passengers are treated fairly by airlines, which has already resulted in the largest airline fines in the Department's history and nearly $4 billion returned to passengers in refunds and reimbursements.

"When a flight is cancelled or significantly changed, you shouldn't have to fight with the airline to get their money back-and we're holding airlines accountable when they fail to give passengers the refunds that they're owed," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Today's actions further demonstrate that passenger rights remain a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration-and we are using all of our tools to improve air travel for everyone."

In addition to the more than $900 million in refunds airlines have paid back, the Department announced today that it is assessing a total of $2.5 million in civil penalties against three airlines for extreme delays in providing refunds. A majority of the assessed fines will be collected in the form of payments to the U.S. Treasury, with the remainder credited on the basis of payments to passengers beyond the legal requirement.

The required refunds to passengers and the assessed penalties against airlines are: 

Lufthansa - $775 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty
KLM - $113.3 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty
South African Airways - $15.2 million in required refunds paid and a $300,000 penalty

Last month, DOT announced two final rules that require airlines to provide automatic cash refunds to passengers when owed and to protect consumers from costly surprise airline fees. These rules will significantly expand consumer protections in air travel, provide passengers an easier pathway to refunds when owed, and save consumers more than half a billion dollars every year in hidden and surprise junk fees. Provisions of the final rule on airline refund were fortified through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 (Public Law 118-63) that President Biden signed into law on May 16, 2024.


In May 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection ("US-DOT") imposed a civil claim against South African Airways (SAA) on behalf of passengers complaining about delayed refunds on their tickets purchased to and from the United States for flights that were cancelled during the Covid grounding of airline operation. SAA was one of several global airlines that faced the same penalty.

SAA is pleased that it has reached an amicable settlement with the U.S. Department of Transportation) on the matter. From the original penalty claim amount, SAA has accepted the settled imposition of a civil penalty of US$300 000 (roughly R5,4million) to void protracted litigation. The penalty will be paid to the US Treasury in tranches over 540 days of the issuance date of the consent order.

SAA cancelled or significantly changed the flights due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. SAA's situation was exacerbated by the fact that the company went into administration by Business Rescue Practitioners in December 2019.

In its continuous engagements with the US-DOT, SAA has always contended that notwithstanding the challenges of Business Rescue and the COVID-19 pandemic, SAA took extraordinary steps during 2019-2022 to process refunds for passengers whose flights were cancelled or significantly delayed by the airline, not only in the USA but throughout SAA's markets.

Between April 2021 and March 2023 SAA has paid around R2.2 billion in Covid period unflown tickets refunds.

"We are pleased that this matter has now been finalised. The intention of the parties was always to find an amicable way of closing this case. We look forward to normalising relations with our customers in the US and welcoming them aboard SAA when we resume flights to the Americas in the future," said Koekie Mbeki, SAA's Chief Legal Counsel.

Kitplanes for Africa


Ethiopian Airlines, the largest network operating airline in Africa, is pleased to announce the commencement of its thrice weekly passenger services to Freetown, Sierra Leone via Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso starting today, 31st of May 2024. This new route marks yet another milestone in the airline's extensive network expansion endeavour, connecting more African countries and providing travellers with convenient and efficient travel options.

The new thrice weekly services to Freetown will be operated using the modern and environmentally friendly Boeing 787-800 aircraft, offering passengers comfortable and enjoyable flight experience. The B787 is equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, including spacious seats, personal entertainment systems, and onboard Wi-Fi, ensuring a pleasant journey for all passengers.

Regarding the commencement of the new route Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew said: "We are pleased to add Freetown to our growing list of global destinations. As we take to the skies, we are proud to be part of the journey that will connect Freetown to the world, and we look forward to welcoming passengers from around the globe to this incredible destination. This new service will not only enhance connectivity for business and leisure travellers but also contribute to the economic growth of both Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso."

Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean in the western side of Africa and the largest city in Sierra Leone, a country known for its natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Ethiopian Airlines is committed to providing its customers with a seamless and efficient travel experience, and the addition of Freetown to its fast-growing global network is a testament to this commitment. Ethiopian is pleased to have welcomed passengers on board its inaugural flight to Freetown and providing them with its renowned Ethiopian hospitality.


The safe, secure, and sustainable development of Uganda's aviation sector will be supported by a new capacity development and implementation agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The signing ceremony was attended by Mr. Fred Bamwesigye, Director General of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) (centre-right); Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar, Secretary General of ICAO (centre-left); Ms. Mary Hellen Wenene, the Corporation Secretary of the UCAA; and Mr. Jorge Vargas, ICAO's Director of Capacity Building and Implementation. Members of the Board of the UCAA were also present.

Under this Management Services Agreement (MSA), ICAO will provide Uganda with a comprehensive portfolio of implementation support products and services, including access to ICAO's expert roster, project management, and customized training packages. This collaboration will focus on helping Uganda heighten its application of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), policies, and plans.

The first initiative under the agreement will be the development of a new National Air Navigation Plan for Uganda. This strategic framework will guide the development and implementation of air navigation services and infrastructure in Uganda over the next 15 years, ensuring alignment with international aviation standards. The plan aims to bolster the safety, efficiency, and capacity of Uganda's air navigation system.

"ICAO is committed to supporting our Member States in their efforts to develop safe, secure, and sustainable aviation sectors," Mr. Salazar said. "This agreement with Uganda represents a significant step forward in our shared goal of fostering the growth of aviation in Africa."

"Uganda recognizes the crucial role aviation plays in our economic development and connectivity," Mr. Bamwesigye remarked. "By partnering with ICAO and leveraging their expertise, we are confident that we can elevate our aviation sector to new heights and provide better services to our citizens and visitors."

The signing of this agreement represents a significant milestone in the cooperation between ICAO and Uganda, assuring that as Uganda continues to develop its aviation sector, ICAO will provide instrumental support to ensure progress is in alignment with global standards, plans and strategies.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Star Alliance have agreed to enhance their long-standing relationship in the field of travel compliance solutions, with the Alliance adopting Timatic AutoCheck, the next generation travel documentation and verification system which supports contactless travel for its 26 member airlines.

Timatic AutoCheck offers a streamlined and interactive experience enabling travellers, airlines and travel professionals to easily access accurate and clearly worded immigration information. The entire document checking process has been automated with tailored instructions for each passenger.

With passenger traffic set to double by 2040, optimizing and enhancing airport processes will need to continue. Verifying passengers' travel documentation is one of the more time-consuming tasks which will benefit from further automation. Timatic AutoCheck will play an essential role in supporting the transition towards contactless travel. Star Alliance expects to have the travel documents of over 340 million travellers checked via Timatic AutoCheck on an annual basis.

"Star Alliance is dedicated to enhancing the customer experience. We are delighted to partner with IATA for the Timatic AutoCheck platform, which we believe will not only boost operational efficiency for our member airlines but also significantly improve the customers' airport experience. As travellers increasingly prioritize seamless journeys with minimum hassle, our adoption of the Timatic platform is a significant step in the right direction", said Theo Panagiotoulias, CEO, Star Alliance.

"Timatic AutoCheck represents a further milestone in the pursuit of efficiency and convenience within the travel industry. By effortlessly navigating travel regulations, passengers can embark on their journeys with confidence and peace of mind. We are delighted that Star Alliance has chosen to continue our long-standing partnership and keep entrusting IATA Timatic as the source and tool for document compliance check", said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

IATA's most recent Global Passenger Survey (GPS) revealed that complex visa requirements deter travellers who want a convenient, digital online visa process. Moreover, many are willing to share their travel document information for faster airport immigration procedures.

36% of travellers said they have been discouraged from traveling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 49% of travellers, 19% cited costs and 8% privacy concerns.
Where visas are required, 66% of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport.
87% of travellers indicated they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process, representing an increase from the 83% reported in 2022.

"Taking advantage of travellers' willingness to use online processes and share information in advance, Timatic AutoCheck enables airlines, ground handlers, departure control systems and travel agents a customer-friendly online solution, through which travelers can check that they comply with all immigration requirements before setting off to the airport," said Walsh.


The seventh meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation in the Middle East Region (DGCA-MID/7), which took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 19 to 20 May 2024, concluded with a shared commitment to advance strategic priorities for aviation in the region. The meeting, generously hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, brought together the leadership of the region's air transport regulators, along with high-level representatives from international and regional organizations and industry partners, to discuss key initiatives and collaborative efforts aimed at ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for aviation in the Middle East.

In his opening remarks, the President of the ICAO Council Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in addressing the challenges facing the aviation industry, stating, "The Middle East region has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of global challenges. By working together and leveraging our collective strengths, we can ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for aviation in the region and beyond."

Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar outlined the Organization's current strategic objectives and priority focus areas in his keynote address. Highlighting the need for collaborative efforts to achieve the Long-Term Global Aspirational Goal (LTAG) of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, noting the importance of sustainable aviation fuels, new technologies, and operational improvements.

Mr. Salazar stressed the importance of collaboration, stating, "Significantly strengthening our collective commitment, both politically and financially, to the programmes and workstreams within each of these focus areas will directly enable us to drive meaningful, tangible progress in the Middle East region and beyond."

Other priorities discussed included measures to bolster aviation cybersecurity, implement the ICAO Trust Framework, strengthen regional crisis preparedness, facilitate the integration of new airspace entrants, and continue the evolution of ICAO's Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) and Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP).

ICAO 01Mr. Mohamed Abubaker Farea, ICAO Regional Director for the Middle East, underscored the vital role of regional cooperation: "The ICAO MID Regional Office plays a pivotal role in delivering assistance to States and coordinating crisis response. We deeply appreciate the voluntary contributions and implementation support provided by States under the No Country Left Behind initiative, which is crucial to ensuring that all countries in the region can benefit from the growth and development of the aviation sector."

Mr. Salazar joined the President of the Council in congratulating the Middle East Region for the initiative to develop the MID Region Air Transport Strategic Plan 2025-2040, which was endorsed by this meeting.

ICAO senior leaders also commended the spirit of cooperation and respect for safety prioritization exemplified by the rapid addressing of several Air Traffic Management (ATM) operational challenges through the MID Contingency Coordination Teams (CCTs), and the support provided to States for the development and update of their ATM Contingency Plans.

To guide the aviation sector through an era of unparalleled innovation and mounting climate pressures, ICAO is putting the final touches on a visionary Strategic Plan for 2026-2050 and Business Plan for 2026-2028. These blueprints will be essential to ensuring the organization is fit for purpose to support the safe, secure and sustainable growth of air transport in the Middle East and globally, building upon the strong foundation of its 80-year history.

Mr. Abubaker Farea emphasized the significance of the DGCA-MID/7 meeting outcomes in shaping ICAO's strategic direction, especially as preparations begin for the 42nd ICAO Assembly next year.

The meeting concluded with a shared commitment among all participants to work together towards ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for aviation in the Middle East and around the world, carrying forward the legacy of ICAO's 80 years of service to the global aviation community.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the launch of IATA FuelIS, an advanced analytics solution to optimize airline fuel consumption, using aggregated and anonymized flight and fuel data.

"IATA FuelIS is a robust analytical tool for airlines to make both strategic and operational decisions to optimize fuel consumption, reduce fuel costs, and improve environmental performance. By enabling airlines to benchmark their fuel performance against aggregated industry data, airlines can understand where they excel and where they need to take action," said Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President Operations, Safety and Security.

Key Features of FuelIS Include:

Fleet Fuel Efficiency Assessment: The fuel efficiency of various aircraft types for different regions and times can be analyzed by comparing fuel burn per Operational Tonne-Kilometer (OTK) with industry averages. Airport Benchmarking Analysis: Fuel quantity at landing can be measured for aircraft. This can be benchmarked against the aggregated fuel quantities of all other airlines landing at the same airport.

OEMs can also use IATA FuelIS to gauge the fuel efficiency of their aircraft or engines against industry averages, gaining valuable insights into specific markets, regions, countries, and fleet types based on real operational data and helping their customers to use their products effectively.

IATA FuelIS uses data from the IATA Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) system. This data is sourced from the Flight Data eXchange (FDX) program which now comprises fuel data from 215 airlines worldwide, sufficient to ensure the highest level of accuracy in the insights that can be derived.

Fuel currently represents nearly a third of the operational expenses of an airline. Since 2005, IATA has worked with airlines to identify fuel saving opportunities. IATA FuelIS will further support this goal.

Kenya, Kisumu Airport (KIS/HKKI): Kenya Airways flight KQ670, a Boeing 737-8HX, became immobilized on runway 24 after suffering a bird strike on landing at Kisumu Airport (KIS).The bird strike affected the aircraft steering components.

Netherlands, Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport (AMS/EHAM): Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources. During pushback for flight KL1341 Schiphol - Billund, an airport employee on the platform committed suicide by jumping into one of the aircraft engines. The passengers of the aircraft were evacuated, no injuries were reported among passengers or crew.

Japan, Tokyo/Narita International Airport (NRT/RJAA): Polar Air Cargo PAC/PO752 from Tokyo/Narita, Japan to Los Angeles, USA, a Boeing 777-F, suffered No.2 engine fire just after take-off from runway 34L of Narita at 10:16 LT. Fire was observed emitting from the right engine on the ground. The flight crew declared emergency at 10:18 LT, and made a safe landing back to Narita at 11:25 LT after some circling for fuel dump. No personal injuries among four crew. The post flight inspection revealed a hole of aft lower engine. JTSB launched a serious incident investigation. The runway 34L was closed for a short time after landing of the flight for inspection, and 12 other flights delayed for 33 minutes in maximum.

New Zeeland, Christchurch International Airport (CHC/NZCH: Jetstar flight JQ225, an Airbus A320-232, veered off runway 02 after landing at Christchurch International Airport (CHC). A Jetstar spokesperson said the plane had "a steering issue" after it had landed causing it to "veer off the runway at a low speed".

Russia, near Mineralnye Vody: Airbus A319 (RA-73215) operated scheduled flight SDM6563 from St. Petersburg to Sochi. There were 126 passengers on board. During the flight, the pilots again discovered a kerosene leak from the engine. For this reason, the crew decided to make an emergency landing in Mineralnye Vody (MRV/URMM). After a safe landing, technical personnel began inspecting the aircraft. This is the third case of fuel leakage on this aircraft in six days.

SAF Museum Pretoria Open Day 02.03.2024 Part 2 Statics and Displays

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