Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 14 to 20 September 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein



AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA STATEMENT ON LEVEL 1 AND INTERNATIONAL FLYING



The Airports Company South Africa welcomes the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa about the gradual lifting of restrictions on international flights under Alert Level 1 from 1 October.

As has been the practice since March this year, we will be guided by specific regulations and directives from the Department of Transport and the regulating body, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) as they are published in the coming days.

Our three international airports, OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town are ready to facilitate cross border travel and will continue to adhere to the measures and protocols that have been in place for domestic travel over the past few months.

Airports Company South Africa urges travellers to be absolutely certain of their eligibility to fly and that they are in possession of valid visas to enter or re-enter South Africa before booking flights. In particular, travellers are asked to download the Covid Alert South Africa mobile app and must comply with the following requirements:

• On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure;
• All travellers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to have Covid-19 test; and
• Where necessary, travellers will need to enter mandatory quarantine facilities at their own cost;

People wishing to travel across borders should monitor our ACSA website for airports and airlines operating during Level 1 and the airline web sites for availability of flights. We expect the number of international passengers to grow gradually, as this is an important step on the road to recovery.

We greatly look forward to once again welcoming international visitors to our International Airports and to South Africa,

QATAR AIRWAYS RESUMES FOUR WEEKLY FLIGHTS TO LAGOS, NIGERIA



Qatar Airways is pleased to announce the resumption of four weekly flights to Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) Lagos, Nigeria. The four times weekly service to Africa's largest city will be operated by Qatar Airways' state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class. With the addition of Lagos, Qatar Airways' network in Africa will expand to ten destinations with 44 weekly flights to the continent including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Tunis and Zanzibar.

Qatar Airways passengers travelling from Lagos can enjoy more flexible travel options with seamless connections via the most connected and Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport. The airline currently operates over 650 weekly flights to more than 85 destinations across the globe including 27 destinations in Asia-Pacific, 32 in Europe and nine in North America, such as Guangzhou, Houston, Kuala Lumpur, London and New York.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "We are delighted to resume flights to Lagos and further expand our network in Africa. We know the Nigerian diaspora is spread across the globe and we are thankful to the Nigerian Government for their support in helping us to reunite family and friends with their loved ones. With our mixed fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft, we are able to resume Lagos services with the right sized aircraft that will enable us to respond quickly to passenger demand and increase frequencies, offering our passengers more flexibility to travel when they want.

"With 44 weekly flights to 10 destinations across Africa and plans for further resumptions in line with the easing of entry restrictions, we are committed to supporting the recovery of international tourism across the continent while also maintaining vital supply chains to support African businesses."

According to the latest IATA data, Qatar Airways has become the largest international carrier since April offering more global connectivity than any other airline to help take people home. This enabled the airline to accumulate unmatched experience in carrying passengers safely and reliably and uniquely positioned the airline to effectively rebuild its network. The carrier has stringently implemented the most advanced safety and hygiene measures on board its aircraft and in Hamad International Airport.

URGENT RESCUE PLAN FOR UK AIR TRANSPORT NEEDED



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) outlined the need for an urgent rescue plan for UK aviation, in the face of an imminent unemployment catastrophe.

The United Kingdom is experiencing an unprecedented air transport crisis which threatens to put more than 820,000 people out of work across the entire UK economy and further damage the recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown. The damage has been exacerbated by government policies, particularly the imposition of quarantine measures which kill demand for air travel. Without immediate action, the UK will fall behind international partners and will quickly lose its coveted position as the 3rd biggest global aviation market.

In order to resume air connectivity and save thousands of jobs, the UK government must set out a rescue plan for UK aviation. IATA proposes a four-point plan to outline a roadmap for lifting quarantine measures and create a short-term boost to demand:

A testing regime, to unlock travel from high-risk countries, a review of the infection threshold for quarantine that is fully transparent and aligned with international partners, a suspension of Air Passenger Duty to kick-start demand and extending the furlough scheme for the air transport sector until border restrictions are lifted and the industry has a chance to recover.

Aviation directly sustained more than 1.5 million jobs in the UK economy in 2019. The economic impact of the collapse in air traffic is estimated to be 733,000 lost jobs and GBP51.4 billion in GDP across the UK economy. If border restrictions and quarantine continue until the end of the year, an additional 87,000 jobs and GBP4.6 billion of GDP will also be lost. Failure to find alternatives to quarantine and the stop-start-stop approach to opening and closing destinations will see these economic impacts continue to increase in 2021. The UK will also lose its third place in the international table, a place it may never recover.

Alongside replacing quarantine with testing, measures to stimulate demand and support airlines will help to mitigate further job losses. Suspension of APD would stimulate demand. Extending the "cliff-edge" end of the furlough scheme for sectors which are recognized to be disproportionately hit by COVID-19 restrictions - such as air travel - would also buy time for the industry to recover and hold on to jobs.

AIR NEW ZEALAND GROUNDS 777 FLEET UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2021



Air New Zealand has grounded its Boeing 777 fleet until at least September 2021 due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. In May, the airline grounded the majority of its seven 777-300 aircraft until the end of the 2020 calendar year. At the same time the company also signalled it was unlikely to fly its eight 777-200 aircraft in the foreseeable future and began preparing to send these into long term storage overseas.

Four of Air New Zealand's 777-300 aircraft will be stored in Victorville in the Californian desert, while the remaining three will stay in Auckland where they are able to be returned to service if required. The airline's 777-200 aircraft will be sent to long-term storage facilities in both Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California from later this month.

The North American locations were chosen for their arid conditions and existing storage facilities which will ensure aircraft are kept in a condition that will enable them to be returned to service within six to eight weeks if required.

Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui says the recovery of the airline's international network post-COVID-19 is now looking to be slower than initially thought.

"The recent resurgence of cases in New Zealand is a reminder that this is a highly volatile situation. We are not anticipating a return to any 777 flying until September 2021 at the earliest, which is why we have made the decision to ground the fleet until at least this time next year."

The 777s are the largest aircraft in Air New Zealand's fleet and have operated the majority of the airline's long-haul routes over the past 15 years. The airline's international schedule will be operated by the more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, along with A320s and A320/21neos for trans-Tasman and Pacific Island routes.

HOMAGE TO THE OKTOBERFEST: LUFTHANSA TRACHTENCREW TAKES OFF AGAIN THIS YEAR



Even if the Munich Oktoberfest cannot take place as usual this year, Lufthansa is holding on to the beautiful tradition of the Trachtencrew flights. As a tribute to the world-famous folk festival, eleven flight attendants will take off for New York/Newark on 22 September with the A350. At the same time, passengers on board of Lufthansa CityLine can experience the traditional costume crews on numerous European flights. From 21 to 25 September the flights will take passengers from Munich to Copenhagen, Helsinki, Manchester, Berlin and Vienna and to the holiday destinations Santorini and Sylt.

The tradition of Trachtencrew flights is as long as it is successful at Lufthansa. The first flights in traditional costume took place as early as 1957, and even back then, they were already fascinating Lufthansa passengers all over the world. In 2006 the idea was taken up again and the maiden flight went - as well as this year - to New York. Since then, the Lufthansa Trachtencrew has been heading to 25 destinations from China to Japan, India and the USA, as well as destinations all over Europe.

The Dirndl of the Lufthansa long-haul crews was created by the Munich costume designer Angermaier: The flight attendants' Wiesn-Dirndl is dark blue with a silver-grey apron; the men wear short leather pants with a dark blue vest in the fabric of the Dirndl.

It has also been a long-standing tradition for Lufthansa's passenger service staff in Terminal 2 to welcome passengers in Dirndl and traditional costume suits during the Wiesn season.

NORWEGIAN AUGUST 2020 TRAFFIC FIGURES HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND DROP IN DEMAND



Norwegian's traffic figures for August are heavily influenced by the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent travel restrictions and drop in demand. In August, capacity was 94% lower than last year, while the flights that were operated had a load factor of 62.1%.

From July 1 Norwegian reopened 76 routes and put an additional 15 aircraft into service, throughout the summer frequencies and routes were adjusted in accordance with variations in passenger demand linked to changing government travel restrictions and advice.

Compared to the same period last year total capacity (ASK) decreased by 94 percent while total passenger traffic (RPK) decreased by 96 percent. Load factor was 62.1 percent, down 27.9 percentage points. The total number of customers carried in August was 313,316 a decrease of 91 percent.

Further details relating to the operational environment going forward and the latest financial update can be viewed in the Group's H1 results released on 28th August.

Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: "Passenger demand continues to be rapidly impacted by changing government travel restrictions across different markets. We are continuously adapting our network to adjust to these changes as necessary to ensure that we keep vital air routes open and concentrate supply in line with demand. The prolonged crisis that has impacted every part of the aviation industry continues to create uncertainty in all markets making the need for a long-term liquidity support package even more critical to protect tourism, jobs and international trade."

BULGARIA AIR WITH NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR FLIGHTS BETWEEN SOFIA AND MOSCOW



Bulgaria Air passengers can take advantage of new travel opportunities between Sofia and Moscow. Thanks to the expanded partnership of the national carrier of Bulgaria with the Russian airline Aeroflot, passengers can now get from Sofia to Moscow and back by transfer through London.

Thus, despite the direct flights between Bulgaria and Russia temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bulgaria Air gives everyone who needs to travel in this direction the opportunity to do so.

The flights have convenient connections through London and are operated 5 times a week - every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The price of the plane tickets includes both hand luggage up to 10 kg and checked baggage up to 23 kg.

CANADIAN GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO CONSIDER SAFE OPTIONS AND REOPEN BORDERS



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urges the Canadian government to support the COVID-19 testing initiatives of Air Canada and Westjet as a means to safely reopen Canada to international and domestic travel without the need for blanket quarantine measures. International traffic to Canada has plummeted since quarantine measures were introduced in March 2020.

''There are alternatives to the quarantine measures currently in place that can both keep Canadians safe as well as revive the economy. The ICAO multi-layered approach (Take-off guidance) is one. The work that Air Canada and WestJet are doing on testing adds another dimension. It is critical that the Government of Canada acts on these before the economic and social damages become permanent and the public health consequences of mass unemployment become even more apparent,'' said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.

IATA estimates that revenues generated by airlines with service to/from/within Canada could fall by C$22.6 billion (70%) relative to 2019. That puts at risk nearly 410,500 Canadian jobs and some C$39 billion of Canada's GDP, which is generated by aviation directly and indirectly as well as by aviation-related tourism. Air transport in Canada directly and indirectly supports some 633,000 jobs. In total, 3.2% of the country's GDP is supported by the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air.

UNITED ADDS ANTIMICROBIAL SPRAY TO ALREADY EXTENSIVE CABIN-CLEANING MEASURES



United Airlines today announced that it is adding Zoono Microbe Shield, an EPA registered antimicrobial coating that forms a long-lasting bond with surfaces and inhibits the growth of microbes, to the airline's already rigorous safety and cleaning procedures. United is currently applying the coating each week on more than 30 aircraft to seats, tray tables, armrests, overhead bins, lavatories and crew stations and expects to add this latest measure to its entire mainline and express fleet before the end of the year.

The antimicrobial coating, created by Zoono Group Limited, a New Zealand Company and distributed in the USA by MicroSonic Solutions, will serve as an added layer of protection that complements the airline's existing, daily electrostatic spraying regimen before departing flights.

"This long-lasting, antimicrobial spray adds an extra level of protection on our aircraft to help better protect our employees and customers," said Toby Enqvist, United's Chief Customer Officer. "As part of our layered approach to safety, antimicrobials are an effective complement to our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration system, mandatory mask policy for customers and daily electrostatic spraying. We've overhauled our policies and procedures and continue to implement new, innovative solutions that deliver a safer onboard experience."

The Zoono Microbe Shield works by bonding to surfaces and creating a protective layer that resembles microscopic pins once dry which rupture cell walls and membranes when microbes come in contact with them. The chemical is classified by the EPA as Category IV, which is the lowest level of toxicity. During an aircraft's deep cleanings, United will use the NovaRover which is designed to apply a super fine mist of the antimicrobial that coats all surfaces in a 12-foot radius with a single spray. United will apply the antimicrobial to aircraft overnight every seven days using electrostatic sprayers to refresh and fortify the protective layer, while continuing to electrostatic spray disinfectant to the aircraft cabin before almost every departure.

BRITISH AIRWAYS DOUBLES UP IN PAKISTAN WITH DIRECT FLIGHTS TO LAHORE



British Airways has today announced it will begin flying from Heathrow to Lahore, Pakistan, four times a week from 12 October 2020.

The 'City of Gardens', Lahore, is known for its rich culture and will be the second city in Pakistan that British Airways will operate to, following the relaunch of services to Islamabad.

Flights will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 departing from Heathrow Terminal 5, landing into Lahore's International Airport.

Neil Chernoff, British Airways' Director of Network and Alliances, said "We are delighted be starting direct flights to Lahore, connecting London with Pakistan's two biggest cities, following the relaunch of our services to Islamabad.

Our new flights will give us the opportunity to open up more of Pakistan to travellers from the UK, so they can experience its delights and rich culture. We also think this will be hugely popular with the British Pakistani community, giving them more convenient options to visit family and friends.

For those customers flying to or from Lahore, our flights have also been conveniently timed to allow seamless connections with flights serving the United States and Canada."

BOEING, ETIHAD AIRWAYS AND WORLD ENERGY LIFT SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL TO THE NEXT LEVEL ON ECODEMONSTRATOR PROGRAMME



Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Etihad Airways concluded testing on the aerospace company's 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme last week with a cross-country flight using a 50/50 blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel.

Flying from Seattle to Boeing's manufacturing site in South Carolina, Etihad's newest 787-10 Dreamliner used the maximum sustainable fuel blend permitted for commercial aviation. The transcontinental flight also demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centres to communicate simultaneously and optimize routing.

Boeing's ecoDemonstrator programme takes promising technologies out of the lab and tests them in the air to accelerate innovation. This year's program evaluated four projects to reduce emissions and noise and enhance the safety and health of passengers and crew. All of the 787-10 test flights used a blend of traditional jet fuel and sustainable fuel produced from inedible agricultural wastes to minimize emissions, with the final flight operating at the maximum 50/50 commercial blend.

The fuel from World Energy and supplied to Boeing by EPIC Fuels has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to reduce carbon emissions by more than 75% over the fuel's life cycle.

The partnership between Boeing and Etihad Airways represents a longstanding collaboration to make flying more sustainable. The two companies were among the founding partners that created the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium in 2010. Based at Khalifa University near Abu Dhabi, the pilot project for a unique desert ecosystem produces sustainable fuel from plants that grow in the desert, irrigated by coastal seawater. Etihad used the initial batch of fuel from the pilot project in January 2019 on a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.

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