Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 11 to 17 October 2021

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein



FLYMORE CLUB IS A GAME CHANGING NEW OFFER FROM FLYSAFAIR



Low-cost carrier FlySafair has done a lot to change the domestic air travel landscape in South Africa and it's set to do it all again with the launch of its subscription programme: the FlyMore Club. By joining this club, members will receive an allocation of flights to use each month - effectively offering regular travellers a fixed low price.

"Customers have been asking us for a way to reward regular travellers for a while and the traditional models just don't work, especially not in the low-cost environment. We feel confident that we've innovated a unique solution here that customers will love," says Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair.

Members sign up to the club for a minimum of twelve months. Three packages are available that offer customers different monthly flight allocations:

R800pm for either two one-way flights, or one return trip a month
R2 400pm for either six one-way flights, or three return trips a month
R4 000pm for either ten one-way flights, or five return trips a month
Members then redeem their monthly flights on the FlySafair website and only pay airport taxes when booking.

"This means that we are effectively able to offer members something like a 'flight-hailing' service at a cost saving of up to 84%* per flight. Given that the flight allocation is already awarded, users can literally book their seats on the way to the airport, which means avoiding all the complexities of change fees and fare difference charges."

FlySafair has been disrupting the local air travel market since it launched in 2014 with super low airfares and an unbundled product offering, giving customers the choice to save by opting out of checked luggage. The innovation continued when they were the first to launch priority boarding, mobile check-in agents, WhatsApp boarding passes and customer support.

"We recognise that the customer experience is central to our success and while we've always focused on the basics, like being on time, it's also key that we keep innovating to improve the air travel experience for our customers."

FlyMore Club members are required to use their monthly flight allocation for travel within the month it is allocated and flights can be booked on any of FlySafair's 26 domestic routes.

"We see FlyMore appealing to a number of customers including regular commuters, business travellers, people with holiday homes, folks in long-distance relationships and even children with separated parents."

"The pandemic has taught us that we need to be resilient, but as we recover, we also need to seek out new ways to be innovative and remain competitive," says Gordon. "During the last year we've launched our app, all-inclusive holidays and now the FlyMore Club. We will continue to identify and explore opportunities that best serve our customers and crew."

AIRLINK TO RESUME POLOKWANE FLIGHTS



Airlink, the independent regional airline, will resume scheduled air services to and from Polokwane from the 18th October 2021.

Services were disrupted earlier this year to enable the Polokwane Airport to upgrade its emergency services to comply with civil aviation regulatory requirements.

"The Johannesburg-Polokwane route is important for business travellers and plays a crucial role in supporting Limpopo's economy. We are looking forward to resuming our regular flights, which we will serve up to three times a day," said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

Flights to and from Polokwane are timed to provide travellers with convenient connections with Airlink's domestic and regional flights through its Johannesburg hub at O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Airlink's modern and efficient Embraer ERJ jets will be used to operate the Polokwane service.

SAA RESUMES SERVICES TO MAURITIUS FROM NOVEMBER 2021



SAA continues to rebuild its network with the resumption of service to Maurtius from November 21st, 2021. Flights will initially operate twice weekly on Wednesdays and Sundays, departing Johannesburg OR Tambo International (ORTIA) at 09h45 with return flights departing Mauritius at 16h35.

SAA Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo says, "Part of our growth strategy is to identify routes where there is demand and which can be profitable to the carrier. The resumption of services to Mauritius meets both those criteria. Furthermore, the country has strong ties with South Africa and is both a popular tourism and business destination. We are confident that the ticket up-take will be strong, particularly as the summer season approaches."

SAA is now approaching its first full month of operations with local flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town and regionally to Accra, Kinshasa, Harare and Lusaka. Daily Maputo service begins in December 2021.

Kgokolo says the route strategy is constantly being monitored and evaluated in line with the carrier's post-business rescue strategy of sustainability and profitability. "This is a sensible practice that is adopted by airlines the world over given the tough operating climate the industry finds itself in. Depending on the take up to current destinations and where there is future demand, we will add and subtract routes."

Kgokolo says SAA is delighted to be resuming services to Mauritius, which in the past has been both popular and profitable. The flying time to and from the country is around four hours.

ETHIOPIAN INKS PARTNERSHIP WITH ACCESSRAIL TO PROVIDE INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION



Ethiopian Airlines has signed Codeshare and Interline Agreement with AccessRail to widen connectivity options for its passengers destined to Western Europe, United Kingdom, Scandinavian, Japan and Canada. The agreement avails AccesRails' wide rail destinations to passengers of Ethiopian Airlines through seamless connectivity with all journey segments contained on a single Ethiopian Airlines ticket.

Regarding the partnership, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, "I am glad that we have entered into such a monumental agreement with AccessRail, the world's leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions. Each year, we are growing in terms of customer service excellence through collaboration with key partners across the globe. As rail travel is becoming popular, especially when traveling regionally or locally, our collaboration with the worlds renowned flight and rail connection provider helps our customers access extra convenience and better connectivity options. In view of expanding our service to markets where Ethiopian has no direct operations to, our partnership with rail services is a great strategic move in enhancing our customer service. I hope the success of the partnership between AccesRail and Ethiopian would be felt throughout our customers."

Ethiopian Airlines has further developed its air-rail strategy by partnering with the world's leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions, AccesRail (9B). This new partnership provides Ethiopian Airlines with the ability to expand its network of destinations and to feed ET flights in both interline and codeshare format. In addition, this partnership will offer agents as well as consumers' new options to book Ethiopian Airlines journeys which include surface sectors via a single process and workflow thus enabling Ethiopian Airlines to extend its value proposition and offer greater content options.

Andrew Popescu, Vice President Business Development, AccesRail, said: "We are excited about our Ethiopian-AccesRail intermodal cooperation which will enable Ethiopian Airlines to offer an important amount of entirely new destinations all over the world to their passengers. Ethiopian Airlines have embraced at a global level the concept of network expansion through air-rail partnership and we are thrilled to help make this strategic vision into a reality."

Intermodality is becoming a growing part of airline network planning and demand for the service is also increasing with the inception of high-speed rail services. AccesRail is the world's leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions that specializes in intermodal travel and GDS distribution for passenger railways.

IATA FRUSTRATION WITH TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS GROWS



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that air travellers are increasingly frustrated with the COVID-19 travel restrictions. A survey commissioned by IATA of 4,700 respondents in 11 markets in September demonstrated confidence that the risks of COVID-19 can be effectively managed and that the freedom to travel should be restored.

67% of respondents felt that most country borders should be opened now, up 12 percentage-points from the June 2021 survey.
64% of respondents felt that border closures are unnecessary and have not been effective in containing the virus (up 11 percentage points from June 2021).
73% responded that their quality of life is suffering as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions (up 6 percentage points from June 2021).
"People are increasingly frustrated with the COVID-19 travel restrictions and even more have seen their quality of life suffer as a result. They don't see the necessity of travel restrictions to control the virus. And they have missed too many family moments, personal development opportunities and business priorities. In short, they miss the freedom of flying and want it restored. The message they are sending to governments is: COVID-19 is not going to disappear, so we must establish a way to manage its risks while living and traveling normally," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

Support grows for testing or vaccination to replace quarantine

The biggest deterrent to air travel continues to be quarantine measures. 84% of respondents indicated that they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at their destination. A growing proportion of respondents support the removal of quarantine if:

A person has tested negative for COVID-19 (73% in September compared to 67% in June)
A person has been vaccinated (71% in September compared to 68% in June).
With the vaccination rates globally increasing, 80% of respondents agree that vaccinated people should be able to travel freely by air. However, there were strong views against making vaccination a condition for air travel. About two-thirds felt it is morally wrong to restrict travel only to those who have been vaccinated. Over 80% of respondents believe that testing before air travel should be an alternative for people without access to vaccination.

While 85% are willing to be tested if required in the travel process, several issues remain:

75% of respondents indicated that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel
80% believe that governments should bear the cost of testing
77% see the inconvenience of testing as a barrier to travel
"There is a message here for governments. People are willing to be tested to travel. But they don't like the cost or the inconvenience. Both can be addressed by governments. The reliability of rapid antigen tests is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Broader acceptance of antigen testing by governments would reduce inconvenience and cost-costs that the WHO's International Health Regulations stipulate should be borne by governments. It is also clear that while people accept testing and other measures such as mask-wearing as necessary, they want to return to more normal ways of travel when it is safe to do so," said Walsh.

High confidence with travel experience, struggling with COVID-19 rules

Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86% felt safe on board the flight owing to the COVID-19 measures.

87% believed protective measures are well implemented
88% felt airline personnel are doing a good job in enforcing COVID-19 rules
There is also strong support for wearing masks, with 87% of respondents agreeing that doing so will prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With more markets starting to open to travel, an area that needs to be addressed is the COVID-related travel rules and requirements.

73% of those who have travelled since June 2020 found it challenging to understand what rules applied for a trip (up from 70% in June)
73% felt the COVID-19 paperwork was challenging to arrange (also up from 70% in June)
"People want to travel. 86% expect to be traveling within six months of the crisis ending. With COVID-19 becoming endemic, vaccines being widely available and therapeutics improving rapidly, we are quickly approaching that point in time. People also tell us that they are confident to travel. But what those who have travelled are telling us is that the rules are too complex and the paperwork too onerous. To secure the recovery governments need to simplify processes, restore the freedom to travel and adopt digital solutions to issue and manage travel health credentials," said Walsh.


AIR BELGIUM TAKES DELIVERY OF ITS FIRST A330NEO



Air Belgium, the full-service international destination carrier headquartered in Mont-Saint-Guibert in Belgium, has taken delivery of the first of two A330-900.

The aircraft is configured with 286 seats in a three-class layout (30 comfortable lie-flat business class, 21 premium-class and 235 economy-class seats). The aircraft is furnished with the Airbus Airspace cabin. All seats are equipped with the latest-generation, in-flight entertainment system, on-board WIFI and mood lighting.

Thanks to the A330neo's latest technologies, Air Belgium will benefit from cost-effective and eco-efficient aircraft solutions, while providing passengers with the best comfort standards in the quietest cabins in its class. In addition, lower noise and emissions compared to previous-generation aircraft make the A330neo a friendlier airport neighbour.

Air Belgium will deploy the aircraft on routes connecting Brussels to long-haul destinations.
The Belgian carrier currently operates an all-Airbus widebody fleet comprising A330-200F and A340-300; the A340s will be gradually replaced by the A330neos.

The A330neo Family is the new-generation A330; it builds on the proven economics, versatility and reliability of the A330 Family, while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by about 25 per cent-per-seat compared to previous-generation, competitor aircraft and offers an unrivalled range capability. The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce's latest-generation Trent 7000 engines and features a new wing with increased span and composite winglets for better, fuel-beating aerodynamics.

With an order book of more than 1,800 aircraft from 126 customers at the end of September 2021, the A330 remains the most popular widebody family aircraft of all time.

QATAR AIRWAYS AND RWANDAIR SEAL MILESTONE CODESHARE AGREEMENT



Qatar Airways and RwandAir have signed a comprehensive codeshare agreement to offer travellers more choice, enhanced service and greater connectivity to more than 65 destinations across Africa and the rest of the world. As part of the deal, the Rwandan flag carrier will also launch new non-stop flights between their Kigali hub and Doha from December.

The agreement benefits travellers from across the globe who fly with both airlines, which expands each carrier's route network. Passengers can enjoy the simplicity of purchasing connecting flights on both airlines using one seamless reservation system, that simplifies ticketing, check-in, boarding and baggage-check processes for the entire journey.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said "We share a very close and collaborative bond with Rwanda and welcome RwandAir's new non-stop service between Kigali and our home in Doha. With this comprehensive codeshare agreement, we are committed to deliver greater choice and connectivity to our customers in Africa and around the world. The new partnership will help position Qatar Airways in the region and complement our African expansion strategy. As we brace ourselves to meet significantly increased demand for long-awaited travel, I see dynamic partnerships like this one helping to steer travel, tourism and trade firmly on the path to recovery."

RwandAir Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Yvonne Makolo, said: "This is a major milestone for RwandAir and marks the beginning of an exciting new journey with Qatar Airways. We are also immensely proud to welcome Doha to our route network, connecting customers with Qatar's hub and further expanding their flight map.

"This codeshare agreement will give our customers significantly more choice and flexibility, allowing RwandAir to strengthen its global presence and build on its strong and loyal African customer base.

As we continue to grow out of the pandemic, this partnership represents yet another extremely important step on our recovery runway and we hope to deliver more commitments like this to our customers in the very near future."

The new codeshare partnership will enable customers to book attractive offers across different continents like the U.S., Europe and Asia and enable customers to fly to different cities like New York, Washington D.C., Dallas and Los Angeles, London, Zurich and Madrid, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The agreement will further increase Qatar Airways' footprint in Africa, with access to destinations such as Bujumbura, Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.

Additionally, the airlines recently announced loyalty partnerships giving RwandAir Dream Miles and Qatar Airways Privilege Club loyalty members access to each other's destinations with the opportunity to accrue and redeem miles across their reciprocal route networks. Customers will also have access to the airlines' airport lounges at their hubs in Doha and Kigali.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to change their travel dates or destination as required.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the 'Airline of the Year' at the 2021 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named 'World's Best Business Class', 'World's Best Business Class Airline Lounge', 'World's Best Business Class Airline Seat', 'World's Best Business Class Onboard Catering' and 'Best Airline in the Middle East'. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having now won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and now 2021). The airline's hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), was recently recognised as the 'Best Airport in the World 2021', by the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.

In addition to this, Qatar Airways has become the first global airline to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of HIA as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers across the world that the airline's health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented on board and at HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.qatarairways.com/safety.

CATHAY PACIFIC WELCOMES THE GOVERNMENT'S CONFIDENCE IN AND COMMITMENT TO THE HONG KONG AVIATION HUB



Cathay Pacific welcomes the Hong Kong SAR Government's confidence in and commitment to Hong Kong's status as a leading international aviation hub, as outlined in the 2021 Policy Address given by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government, Carrie Lam.

Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said: "Cathay Pacific has proudly been the home airline of Hong Kong for 75 years, during which time we have seen and contributed significantly to the development of our home city into a leading international aviation and logistics hub. We share the confidence of the government and the Chief Executive that this status can be consolidated and enhanced, leveraging on Hong Kong's geographical advantage, managerial expertise and extensive talent pool.

"We look forward to the commissioning next year of the third runway and the full completion of the third runway system in 2024, which will greatly expand the capacity and competitiveness of Hong Kong International Airport. The various passenger experience and high-end logistics projects that the Airport Authority of Hong Kong is undertaking will also further enhance the efficiency and capabilities of our hub. "

Cathay Pacific welcomes the many initiatives to strengthen the connectivity between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, which will greatly benefit the aviation industry across the wider region. In particular, the airline supports the planned establishment of a high-end aviation industrial cluster in Zhuhai as well as the Hong Kong International Aviation Academy's efforts to help nurture aviation-related talents for Hong Kong, Zhuhai and the Greater Bay Area.

Mr Tang added: "Hong Kong has an unrivalled position in the Greater Bay Area, a region that presents wonderful opportunity for the Hong Kong aviation hub and Hong Kong in general and which will be the growth engine for the world economy over the next few decades.

"Easier access to a wider catchment area means there is huge potential to grow the Hong Kong hub. The expanded connectivity to and from the burgeoning Greater Bay Area directly from Hong Kong presents the city with enormous growth opportunities."

DELTA AIR LINES ANNOUNCES SEPTEMBER QUARTER 2021 PROFIT



Delta Air Lines reported financial results for the September quarter 2021 and provided its outlook for the December quarter 2021. Highlights of the September quarter 2021 results, including both GAAP and adjusted metrics, are on page six of the full press release.

"Our September quarter marked an important milestone in our recovery, with our first quarterly profit since the start of the pandemic," CEO Ed Bastian said. "Our revenues reached two-thirds of 2019 levels thanks to the industry-leading operational performance our people delivered through a busy summer, once again showing why they are the best in the business."

"While demand continues to improve, the recent rise in fuel prices will pressure our ability to remain profitable for the December quarter. As the recovery progresses, I am confident in our path to sustained profitability as we continue to provide best-in-class service to our customers, strengthen preference for our brand, while creating a simpler, more efficient airline."

SEPTEMBER QUARTER FINANCIAL AND OPERATING RESULTS
Adjusted pre-tax income of $216 million excludes a $1.3 billion net benefit related to the second payroll support program extension (PSP3) partially offset by debt extinguishment charges and mark-to-market adjustments on our investments

Adjusted operating revenue of $8.3 billion, which excludes refinery sales, was 66 percent recovered versus September quarter 2019 on capacity that was 71 percent restored. Sequentially versus the June quarter 2021, adjusted operating revenue improved by $1.9 billion, or 30 percent, on an 11 percent increase in capacity

Total operating expense, which includes the remaining $1.8 billion of benefit related to PSP3, decreased $3.5 billion compared to the September quarter 2019. Adjusted for the benefit related to PSP3 and costs from third-party refinery sales, total operating expense decreased $2.6 billion or 25 percent in the September quarter 2021 versus the comparable 2019 period.

AEROFLOT NAMED BEST AIRLINE IN EASTERN EUROPE FOR NINTH TIME AT THE 2021 SKYTRAX WORLD AIRLINE AWARDS



Aeroflot has again been recognized as the Best Airline in Eastern Europe at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Aeroflot scooped the title for the eighth time in a row and for the ninth time overall.

Known as the Oscars of the aviation world, the World Airline Awards are handed out annually by Skytrax, the leading global authority on airline and airport service quality. Ratings are based on the world's largest passenger satisfaction survey.

Due to the pandemic-induced long-lasting crisis in global aviation the online survey operated for almost two years: from September 2019 to July 2021. Over 100 customer nationalities participated in the survey, with more than 13 million eligible entries counted. Online voting was available in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Russian. More than 350 airlines were featured in the customer survey.

Mikhail Poluboyarinov, CEO of Aeroflot said: "Amid the difficult situation in global aviation confirming our consistently high status at the Skytrax World Airline Awards is a great honour and a sign of the airline's strong rebound in the global market. Despite the challenges, we maintain our position as a key player in the macroregion, deliver premium-level service and ensure flight safety during the pandemic. Our passengers have recognised our efforts. We thank those who choose Aeroflot for their flights in Russia and all over the world."

Commenting on the Award, Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said: "Aeroflot continues its success in being named the Best Airline in Eastern Europe and performed well in the overall global ranking once again being ranked in the top 25 airlines worldwide and No 4 in Europe. Aeroflot has positioned itself as a preferred passenger's choice, not only in Russia and East Europe but as a major player in the overall European market."

ROYAL JORDANIAN AND IATA PARTNER TO IMPLEMENT IATA'S TRAVEL PASS



Royal Jordanian signed an agreement with IATA to start implementing the IATA Travel Pass in a phased rollout across the RJ network, joining Emirates, Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, Jetstar, Qantas and Qatar Airways.

The announcement was made on the side-lines of the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting held in Boston, held between Oct. 3-5. Royal Jordanian CEO Samer Majali and IATA's Director General Willie Walsh signed the agreement on Oct. 5.

IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app that can receive and verify a range of COVID-19 test results and digital vaccine certificates. The app offers a safe and secure way for travellers to check the requirements for their journey, receive test results and scan their vaccine certificates, verify that these meet the destination and transit requirements and share these effortlessly with health officials and airlines prior to departure.

Majali said: "RJ is pleased to partner with IATA to implement the Travel Pass solution with the objective of delivering smooth and contactless journeys for RJ travellers by reducing queuing time and congestion upon document checks. This will be to the benefit of all stakeholders: passengers, airlines, airports and governments."

The application is expected to play a key role in the recovery of the aviation industry from the impact of COVID-19. A digitalized solution to manage the paperwork of COVID-19 travel health credentials will support a return to travel when borders reopen. With many governments relying on airlines for COVID-19 document checking, this will be critical in avoiding queues and congestion at check-in as travel ramps up.

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