New Omicron travel bans are threatening air travel recovery Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel continued in October 2021 with broad-based improvements in both domestic and international markets.
It also warned that the imposition of travel bans by governments, against the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), could threaten the sector’s recovery. 
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to October 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
Total demand for air travel in October 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 49.4% compared to October 2019. This was improved over the 53.3% fall recorded in September 2021, compared to two years earlier.
Domestic markets were down 21.6% compared to October 2019, bettering the 24.2% decline recorded in September versus September 2019.
International passenger demand in October was 65.5% below October 2019, compared to a 69.0% decline for September versus the 2019 period, with all regions showing improvement.
​​​​“October’s traffic performance reinforces that people will travel when they are permitted to. Unfortunately, government responses to the emergence of the Omicron variant are putting at risk the global connectivity it has taken so long to rebuild,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

New Calgary to London Heathrow flights on WestJet now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

WestJet today announced route details for its new nonstop service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), from the airline’s largest, global hub, Calgary International Airport.
The new route provides access to London’s largest airport with close and rapid access to important destinations in London. Flights between the two global hubs are set to operate four-times weekly, beginning March 26, 2022.
Details of WestJet’s service between Calgary and Heathrow:
RouteFrequencyStart DateCalgary – HeathrowTuesday, Wednesday, Friday, SaturdayMarch 26 – October 28, 2022Heathrow – CalgaryWednesday, Thursday, Saturday, SundayMarch 27 – October 29, 2022
“As the airline with the most flights from Alberta, this is an important recovery milestone as we forge new connections between Canada and one of the world’s most sought-after global hubs,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “We continue to strengthen our network, offering more options for business and leisure travelers and these investments will expedite our industry’s recovery while ensuring Western Canada builds back from the pandemic more connected than ever before.”
As confidence in business and leisure travel continues to rise, WestJet‘s newest route will operate this spring on the airline’s 787 Dreamliner. WestJet’s 787 service features the airline’s Business Cabin including lie-flat pods, dining on demand and elevated Premium and Economy Cabin options.
“We are committed to the expansion of our global hub in Calgary and supporting the recovery of many sectors who rely on travel and tourism,” continued Weatherill. “As the airline with the most non-stop European destinations from YYC, we are looking forward to guests benefitting from more options and increased connectivity for travel between Canada and the UK.”
With the addition of Heathrow to WestJet‘s network this spring, WestJet will connect Calgary to 77 non-stop destinations throughout the year.  WestJet will also continue to offer non-stop flights between Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax to London, Gatwick.

Omicron: New Threat or Nothing Significant? Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Indications are that future hotel bookings, meetings, and other hotel-related activity will be impacted by the presumed expectation of future travel impediments, whether self-imposed, company-imposed or government-mandated, according to HotStats.
October data, which had only Delta to deal with, saw a striking resurgence in the Middle East, bolstered by Expo 2020 in Dubai, a 182-day World Expo that began at the beginning of October and runs through March.
Other global regions were not able to replicate the success of Dubai and the broader Middle East. In the US, major indices were still down double digits in October 2021 v. October 2019.
Since a rapid uptick in occupancy from the beginning of the year through the summer, hitting an apex in July, occupancy in the US has since more or less flatlined, a signal that the leisure boom could not be sustained at the same levels prior.
After Austria reinstituted a lockdown on November 22, it has extended it until December 11, becoming the first EU country to take such a measure in the face of the COVID-19 surge.
Portugal reintroduced tighter restrictions, making face masks mandatory and mandating a digital certificate proving vaccination or recovery from COVID in order to enter restaurants, movie theaters and hotels.
As Asia-Pacific continues to piece together its comeback, it, too, is tightening borders in response to the Omicron specter. Japan this week announced the country would bar foreign arrivals, only weeks after easing restrictions for visa holders, including short-term business travelers and international students. And the Philippines has barred arrivals from seven European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
What about flights?
On the other hand, as many travel experts ponder whether the new Omicron variant will crash holiday travel plans, a recent survey by Medjet (run in mid-November, sent out to an email opt-in base of over 60,000 travelers), showed that prior surges and variants didn’t have travelers rushing to cancel plans. The airline also announced, as of close of business yesterday, the highest November overall sales in the company’s almost 30-year history.
As of November 15, over 84% of the airline’s members who responded had future travel plans in place. 90% reported planning to take a domestic trip in the next nine months (65% within the next three months), and 70% expected to take an international trip within the next nine months (24% within the next three months). While 51% of them reported that previous variants and spikes had affected their future travel plans, only 25% of respondents reported having actually canceled because of them.
Additional findings included:
•             51% said previous variants and spikes had already affected future travel plans (27% answered “no,” 23% weren’t sure yet).
•             45% said becoming infected with COVID-19 and variants was of concern, while 55% listed other illnesses, injuries or safety threats their top concern.
•             Of those concerned about COVID, only 42% were worried about testing positive and not being able to return; 58% were more concerned about being hospitalized for COVID while away from home.
•             Business travel was still way (way) down, with only 2% responding that their next trip would be for business.
•             70% intend to travel with family, 14% with friends, 14% solo.
As a reminder, the current US Omicron restrictions only apply to foreign nationals. For US citizens and visa holders returning to the US, the re-entry requirements are still the same: a negative COVID viral test no more than 3 days prior to return flight for fully vaccinated passengers, no more than 1 day for unvaccinated passengers. More information on requirements, and definitions of “fully vaccinated” can be found on the CDC website.   

Avianca Airline Sees a Brand New Day: Steps Out of Bankruptcy Aviation Feature, Aviation News

After entering Chapter 11 on May 10, 2020, the company successfully achieved agreements with its creditors, raised fresh investments of $1.7 billion, and obtained approval for its plan of reorganization, emerging with a solid balance sheet, significantly reduced debt, and over $1 billion in liquidity.
Avianca has revamped its business model to be significantly more efficient, reaffirming its commitment to providing reliable and on-time service, combining a value proposition that includes the best attributes of low-cost airlines, while retaining key differentiators that allow it to be the most convenient travel alternative for millions of passengers in Latin America and the world. 
Looking ahead, Avianca will continue to strengthen its value proposition, adjusting its products and services to the needs of its customers.
As per the approved plan of reorganization, the new shareholders will invest in Avianca Group International Limited, a new holding company, which will be domiciled in the United Kingdom and will consolidate the group’s investments in all of its subsidiaries (including Aerovias del Continente Americano, its Colombian subsidiary, and TACA International, its Central American operation). The prior holding company, Avianca Holdings was domiciled in Panama.

ITA Airways firms up order for 28 new Airbus aircraft Aviation Feature, Aviation News

ITA Airways firms up order for 28 new Airbus aircraft 1

ITA Airways, Italy’s new national carrier, has firmed up an order with Airbus for 28 aircraft, including seven A220s, 11 A320neos and 10 A330neos, the latest version of the most popular A330 widebody airliner. The order confirms the Memorandum of Understanding announced on 30th September 2021. In addition, the airline will pursue its plans to lease A350s to complement its fleet modernization.

“Today the strategic partnership with Airbus takes an important step forward with the finalization of the order we announced last September. In addition to this agreement, possibilities for further collaboration have emerged, in particular regarding technological developments in the aviation sector and digitalization, where Airbus is the market leader. All this is part of the actions to achieve our environmental sustainability objectives, ” said Alfredo Altavilla, Executive President of ITA Airways.
“We are very proud to partner with ITA Airways in building its long-term future with the most efficient, latest technology Airbus aircraft. This agreement supports ITA Airways business objectives to develop its network in Europe and internationally in the most sustainable way,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International.
These new Airbus aircraft will expand the initial ITA Airways fleet with a new generation aircraft with better environmental performance, equipped with latest technologies and state-of-the-art cabins to guarantee maximum operational efficiencies for the airline and the best comfort to travelers.
The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market and brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation geared turbofan engines. With a range of up to 3,450 nm (6,390 km), the A220 gives airlines added operational flexibility. The A220 delivers up to 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat compared to previous generation aircraft, and 50% lower NOx emissions than industry standards. In addition, the aircraft noise footprint is reduced by 50% compared to previous generation aircraft – making the A220 a good neighbor around airports.
The A320neo Family is the most successful aircraft family ever and displays 99,7% operational reliability rate. The A320neo provides operators with 20% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – The A320neo Family incorporates the latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices. The Airbus’ A320neo Family offers unmatched comfort in all classes and Airbus’ 18-inch wide seats in economy as standard.
The Airbus A330neo is a true new-generation aircraft, building on features popular for the A330 Family and developed for the latest technology A350. Equipped with a compelling Airspace cabin, the A330neo offers a unique passenger experience with the latest-generation in-flight entertainment systems and connectivity. Powered by the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and featuring a new wing with increased span and A350-inspired winglets, the A330neo also provides an unprecedented level of efficiency – with 25% lower fuel-burn per seat than previous-generation competitors. Thanks to its tailored mid-sized capacity and its excellent range versatility, the A330neo is considered the ideal aircraft to support operators in their post-COVID-19 recovery.

Fraport and TAV win tender for new Antalya Airport concession Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Placing the highest total bid of 7.25 billion euros, Fraport AG and its partner TAV Airports Holding won today’s auction for the new concession to operate Antalya Airport (AYT), the gateway to the Turkish Riviera. A percentage of 25% of the bidding price is payable up front within 90 days after closing of the concession contract. The existing concession for Antalya Airport – managed by the Fraport and TAV joint venture – expires at the end of 2026. 
The agreement for the new concession is expected to be signed within the first quarter of 2022, pending approval of the Turkish competition and airport authorities. Fraport-TAV’s mandate as the concessionnaire will include operations of the passenger terminals and other “landside” infrastructure, such as retail areas, public parking, and passenger screening. The operational period for the new 25-year concession will begin in early 2027 (after expiration of the existing contract).
Under the agreement, infrastructure projects will have to be completed before the operational period of the new concession begins. These projects include the expansion of Terminal 2 and the domestic terminal, as well as creating new facilities for VIP/CIP passengers.
Commenting on the successful bid for the new AYT concession, Fraport AG’s CEO Dr. Stefan Schulte said: “We delivered a convincing bid backed by our many years of successfully operating and developing Antalya Airport as one of the world’s premier tourism hubs. Together with our partner TAV, we look forward to continuing this dedication to customer service, innovation and operational excellence in the decades to come.”
Fraport AG has been active in Antalya for more than two decades. Since 1999, Fraport has successfully secured Antalya’s position as one of the leading tourist gateways in the Mediterranean region for visitors from across Europe and around the world. With numerous airlines and an extensive route network, AYT has become Turkey’s second busiest airport outside of Istanbul. 
In 2019, Antalya Airport reached an all-time record of more than 35 million passengers. Due to the global pandemic, traffic dropped by nearly 73 percent year-on-year in 2020 to about 9.7 million travelers. However, traffic started rebounding in 2021 – particularly since the summer – to about 20 million passengers for the January-to-October period.

Tourists from Poland: Seychelles is almost ready for a new market! Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Tourism Seychelles conducted its first physical event in Poland since the outbreak of the pandemic last week, as it enticed travel professionals to sell the Seychelles islands again, especially now that the market will benefit with a direct flight soon.
The big news of the evening event held for Warsaw was the announcement of the introduction of a planned the twice-weekly direct flight between Warsaw and Mahe Island. It was planned to start on January 15, 2022 but is on hold due to the emerging new COVID strain.
Once ready the new flight will be operated by local airline Air Seychelles which was represented at the event by its GSA team, AIRLINES GSA in Poland who assisted the Tourism Seychelles team in organizing this event. “We strive to offer the Polish travelers the best flight options and fly them to one of the most beautiful destinations,” Mr. Radoslaw Grabski from TAL Aviation – AIRLINES GSA said.
Telling the 60 travel agents and tour at the start of the evening event that Seychelles was counting on their support towards the reactivation of travel to the destination, the Tourism Department’s Director-General for Destination Marketing, Mrs. Bernadette Willemin, welcomed the announcement of the Air Seychelles flights to Warsaw, saying it would give a big boost to the market and help grow.
“It is today evident that Seychelles remains one of the most popular and sought-after destinations in the world. We remain optimistic that things can only get better for Seychelles and for the Polish market,” Mrs. Willemin said. She noted that since the re-opening of the border in March, the destination has seen a steady uptick of tourists from the Polish market and that for week 45 of the year, it proudly occupied the 5th position in the Top 10 best-performing markets leaderboard for Seychelles.
More on Seychelles Tourism visit

New flights from Bangkok to Phnom Penh on Bangkok Airways Aviation Feature, Aviation News

PG 931 flight was warmly welcomed by Cambodia’s distinguished guests which included H.E. Sao Wathana, Director of Phnom Penh International Airport (State Secretary) and Personal Advisor to H.E. Dr Minister (5th from right) and Mr. Mayoon Udom, Station Manager of Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited (4th from left). 
The resumed services between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) are operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, starting with four flights per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) and will be increased to a daily flight from 16 December 2021 – 26 March 2022. The outbound flight PG931 departs Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi International airport) at 08.50hrs. and arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport at 10.05hrs. The inbound flight PG932 leaves Phnom Penh International airport at 10.55hrs. and arrives in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi International airport) at 12.10hrs. 
Bangkok Airways strictly follows precautionary measures against the COVID-19, including disinfecting and cleaning key areas such as check-in counters and passenger lounges. The airline’s precaution and prevention plans follow the standards and guidelines of the Department of Disease Control, the Ministry of Public Health, and The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).  

Russian tourists trapped in South Africa after new flight ban Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Russian government banned flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Swaziland, Tanzania and Hong Kong last week, in the wake of discovery of new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
By now, it is widely believed though, that Omicron strain of the coronavirus may have already been brought to Russia by tourists returning from Egypt, a claim that Russian health authorities deny.
In the meantime, hundreds of Russian holidaymakers have been trapped in South Africa, unable to return home due to an almost universal ban on flights out of the region.
According to Russian state-run news agency, up to 1,500 Russian citizens may still be in South Africa after Moscow abruptly halted all passenger flights to and from there over new COVID-19 strain fears.
Russia’s Consulate General in Cape Town said it was trying to work out some alternative options for the evacuation of the Russian citizens, possibly involving assistance from European and other foreign airlines. 
According to the consulate’s Telegram channel, up to 15 Russians will be able to fly home on a charter flight around December 1.
“According to early information, the repatriation flight with the support of Ethiopian Airlines will be carried out on December 3 on the Cape Town-Addis Ababa-Moscow route,” the consulate also advised. The airfare on this commercial flight will depend on the number of passengers booked.
According to some news sources, ‘several dozen’ Russian nationals have in recent days left South Africa for other countries on the continent, from where they can try to continue their journey back home.
Airlines that continue to fly from South Africa have increased their fares, due to surging demand, while European Union-based carriers deny boarding to non-EU citizens.

33 countries announce new travel bans and restrictions Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The newly discovered Omicron strain of the coronavirus has forced many states to urgently close their borders to some or all foreign arrivals.
In an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Omicron variant into their territories, 33 countries around the world have announced outright travel bans or enhanced travel restrictions of various degrees by now.
The degree of border control severity varies from country to country, with China, Israel, Morocco and Japan closing their borders entirely, while other states only tightening COVID-19 testing protocols at the border.
Complete Foreign Arrivals Bans
China – China already had stringent border controls in place, with only citizens and resident permit holders allowed into the country.
Israel – Israel banned foreigners from entering the country for 14 days. Israeli citizens will be able to come back to the country but will need to quarantine, even if fully vaccinated.
Japan – Japan closed its borders to non-citizens for one month, this includes foreign exchange students and those travelling for business.
Morocco – Morocco canceled all incoming flights for two weeks.

First new case of COVID-19 Omicron strain confirmed in Japan Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The government of Japan announced today that a man in his 30s, who tested positive for coronavirus at the Narita International Airport, upon his arrival from Namibia on Sunday, was indeed infected with the dreaded new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
This is the first officially confirmed case on the Omicron strain infection in the country.
According to the health ministry officials, the man had no symptoms when being at Narita International Airport but developed a fever on Monday, while two family members traveling with him have tested negative and are quarantined at a government-designated facility.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with cabinet members including Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto to discuss how the government will respond to the detection of the Omicron strain in Japan, which has seen a decline in COVID-19 cases.
Yesterday, Kishida announced that the government will in principle ban the entry of all foreign nationals. He pledged to act quickly on concerns over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Ban on foreign arrivals started on Tuesday and will last for about one month, during which Japanese citizens and foreigners with resident status returning from high-risk areas are required to quarantine for up to 10 days in a government-designated facility.
Japan has already taken such stricter measures on people who have recently been to any of the nine African countries – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Japan will also suspend the recent easing of entry restrictions beginning November 8, which has allowed vaccinated business travelers to have a shorter quarantine period and started to accept entry applications from students and technical interns on the condition that their host organization agrees to take the responsibility of monitoring their movement.
Starting on Wednesday, the country will also set its daily cap for arrivals at 3,500, down from 5,000. Returning Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be required to isolate for two weeks regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated.
Yesterday, 82 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded across Japan, a low figure being likely a result of a drop in testings over the weekend. The previous wave of infections caused by the Delta variant in summer saw a peak at more than 25,000 daily cases.

New flight from Doha to Tashkent on Qatar Airways Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Qatar Airways will add Tashkent, Uzbekistan to its global network with twice weekly flights. The first flight from Doha to Tashkent will take off on 17 January 2022, operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, featuring 12 seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class.
The new service will enable passengers flying to and from Tashkent to enjoy seamless connectivity to over 140 destinations, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and the U.S., via Hamad International Airport in Doha.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We see tremendous growth potentials in Central Asia and this new service to Tashkent will serve to boost trade opportunities and attract tourists wanting to discover this beautiful destination. Passengers from Tashkent will now have access to more than 140 destinations when travelling with the World’s Best Airline via the World’s Best Airport, Hamad International Airport.”
Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan lying at the core of the ancient Silk Road, will become Qatar Airways’ newest destination in 2022 and the latest addition to its network in Asia. It is the largest city in Central Asia, offering visitors panoramic views, varied cuisine and plenty of places to see and discover.
Flight Schedule
Doha – Tashkent (All times in local)
Monday and Friday
Doha (DOH) to Tashkent (TAS)         QR377            Departs: 18:55            Arrives: 00:30 +1
Tuesday and Saturday
Tashkent (TAS) to Doha (DOH)         QR378            Departs: 01:50            Arrives: 04:00

Airbus: New 100% sustainable-fuels emissions study shows early promise Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Initial findings from a world-first study of the impact of 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both engines of a commercial jet have provided promising early results.
The ECLIF3 study, involving Airbus, Rolls-Royce, German research center DLR and SAF producer Neste, marks the first time 100% SAF has been measured simultaneously on both engines of a commercial passenger aircraft – an Airbus A350 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.
In-flight emissions tests and associated ground testing on the ECLIF3 program began earlier this year and have recently resumed. The interdisciplinary team, which also includes researchers from the National Research Council of Canada and The University of Manchester, plans to publish its results in academic journals towards the end of next year and 2023.
Findings from the study will support efforts currently underway at Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure the aviation sector is ready for the large-scale use of SAF as part of the wider initiative to decarbonize the industry. Aircraft are currently only allowed to operate on a 50% blend of SAF and conventional jet fuel, but both companies support the drive to certify 100% SAF use.
In April, the A350 flew three flights over the Mediterranean Sea pursued by a DLR Falcon chaser plane to compare in-flight emissions of both kerosene and Neste’s hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) sustainable fuel. The team also carried out compliance tests using 100% SAF and no operational issues were experienced.
In-flight emission tests using 100% SAF and a HEFA/Jet A-1 fuel blend resumed this month, while ground-based emissions testing to quantify the benefits of SAF on local air quality were also performed. The research team found SAF releases fewer particulates than conventional kerosene at all tested engine operating conditions, which points to the potential for reduced climate impact and improvement in air quality around airports.
In addition, SAF has lower density but higher energy content per kilogram of fuel compared to conventional kerosene, which brings some aircraft fuel-efficiency advantages due to lower fuel burn and less fuel mass to board to achieve the same mission. Detailed analysis by the team is on-going.
“Engines and fuel systems can be tested on the ground but the only way to gather the full set of emissions data necessary for this program to be successful is to fly an aircraft in real conditions,” said Steven Le Moing, New Energy Program Manager at Airbus. “In-flight testing of the A350 offers the advantage of characterizing direct and indirect engine emissions, including particulates from behind an aircraft at high altitude.”
Simon Burr, Rolls-Royce Director of Product Development and Technology, Civil Aerospace, said: “This research adds to tests we’ve already carried out on our engines, both on the ground and in the air, which have found no engineering obstacle to our engines running on 100% SAF. If we are to truly decarbonize long-haul air travel, then 100% SAF is a critical element and we are committed to supporting its certification for service.”
The DLR Falcon chaser aircraft is equipped with multiple probes to measure emissions at cruise level down to a distance of only 100 meters from the A350 and feed them into scientific instrumentation for analysis.
“SAF has been shown to have a significantly lower carbon footprint over its life cycle compared to conventional jet fuel and now we are seeing it is advantageous in reducing non-CO2 effects too,” said Markus Fischer, DLR’s Divisional Board Member for Aeronautics. “Tests such as these are continuing to develop our understanding of 100% SAF, its use in flight and we are seeing positive signs for its potential in climate mitigation. We look forward to studying the data from the second series of ECLIF3 flights, which restarted with a first chase flight above the Mediterranean earlier this month.”
In 2015, DLR performed the ECLIF1 campaign, investigating alternative fuels with its Falcon and A320 ATRA research aircraft. These investigations continued in 2018 with the ECLIF2 campaign which saw the A320 ATRA flying with a mixture of standard jet fuel and up to 50% HEFA. This research showed the advantageous emission performance of fuel mixtures up to 50% SAF and paved the way for the 100% SAF test flights for ECLIF3.

Airlines: The Best and The Worst Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Delta Airlines is named as the best US domestic airline, while Ana All Nippon is named the best international airline in the world, in new research.
The 5 best domestic airlines in the USA
RankAirlineArrivals on Time (July 2021)Complaints Jan-June 2021Staff Service (/5)Meals (/5)Seat Comfort (/5)Inflight Entertainment (/5)Maximum Baggage Allowance (kg)Airline Index Score /101Delta AirLines86.7%494333323.08.92Hawaiian Airlines87.7%115333222.58.53Horizon Airlines83.5%17433122.58.44Alaska Airlines77.5%211333223.08.15JetBlue65.1%665333322.57.7
Taking the top spot is Delta, scoring highly as it has the second-highest percentage of arrivals on time (86.7%) and a relatively low number of complaints, 494 from January to June of 2021.
Coming in second is Hawaiian Airlines. Based in Honolulu, it is the tenth-largest commercial airline in the US. Despite coming second overall, it is the most punctual airline with 87.7% of flights leaving on time. However, it is let down by the lack of inflight entertainment, only scoring two out of five.
The 5 best international airlines around the world
RankAirlineComplaints Jan-June 2021Staff Service (/5)Meals (/5)Seat Comfort (/5)Inflight Entertainment (/5)Maximum Baggage Allowance (kg)Airline Index Score /101Ana All Nippon Airways345444239.62Singapore Airlines234444309.53Korean Air Lines214444239.24Japan Air Lines Company454444239.25Qatar Airways2674444259.0
Based in Tokyo, Ana All Nippon Airways is the largest airline in Japan by both revenue and passenger numbers. It ranks the highest in customer-rated staff service, the only airline in our list to score full marks in our airline index for this factor. It also has a relatively low number of complaints at 34.
Singapore Airlines ranks number two due to its high baggage allowance of 30 kilos, a low number of complaints (23), and high seat comfort, having won awards for their aircraft seating. Singapore Airlines scores four out of five for every category in our index, so it’s no surprise this carrier comes second in our ranking as the best international carrier.
The 5 worst international airlines around the world
RankAirlineComplaints Jan-June 2021Staff Service (/5)Meals (/5)Seat Comfort (/5)Inflight Entertainment (/5)Maximum Baggage Allowance (kg)Airline Index Score /101Viva Air Colombia121111203.42VivaAerobusS272111153.63Volaris Airlines3792221104.04Ryanair33322104.25Interjet4902221254.6
The low-cost airline Viva Air Colombia is named the worst airline in the world. This carrier scores one out of five in our index for meals, seat comfort, and inflight entertainment due to the fact that few amenities are offered to customers free of charge. Although it did receive the lowest number of complaints overall.
Based at Monterrey International Airport in Mexico, VivaAerobus Airline carries passengers internally as well as operates international flights to cities in the US. It scores one out of five in our index for both inflight entertainment and meals and two out of five for staff service.  
The full report can be seen here.

Uganda Airlines New Inflight Menu: Grasshoppers? Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Embarrassed at the reactions that went viral on social media which took to poking fun at Ugandans came the veiled statement whereby, while rebuking the errant passenger, the airline also suggested adding the local delicacy Nsenene (long-horned grasshoppers) on their menu for regional and international flights.
“We have picked lessons from the incident. Some of our customers enjoy Nsenene,” an airline statement read. “We are considering adding Nsenene, a local Ugandan delicacy, on our menu for regional and international flights on request. This addition of Nsenene shall bring the Ugandan culture to the world. The move will boost tourism marketing and the livelihood of people in the grasshopper value chain going forward.”
Uganda Airlines, however, warned against reoccurrences of such conduct onboard, warning that exposing passengers to such unruly market experience onboard shall result in the passenger being offloaded without further consideration.
The Uganda Airlines Public Relations Manager, Shakira Rahim, said in a televised interview on NTV that the airline shall question the said passenger upon his return to send a signal to passengers who conduct themselves in a unpalatable manner onboard. She defended the crew whom she said had tried to refrain the gentleman to give room for embarking passengers. “You can never do that on an international flight, because there are passengers onboard who are going to continue their journey elsewhere. Food that has not gone through our standard and quality checks is not allowed onboard; that is the issue, and that is the standard,” Rahim said. 
Commenting on the same, Public Affairs Manager of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Vianney Lugya, said: “Grasshoppers are not among the list of prohibited items. It is, therefore, not a security matter that grasshoppers ended up on an aircraft. The only issue to be looked into is how the passenger conducted themselves on an aircraft. The only circumstance that is looked into is if the country where the aircraft is proceeding to prohibits that item.”
A furious Minister of Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala, under whose docket the airline falls, did not mince his words at cracking the whip by ordering disciplinary action on the staff who were on duty at the time of the incident. Wamala tweeted: “About the video making rounds on social media of someone vending Nsenene aboard @UG_Airlines, I have spoken to the leadership of the airline to take action against the staff who were in charge when this happened.” General Wamala has presided over the airline since his appointment in 2019, and the last thing he would tolerate is blemish on the airline.
eTN has since learned that Paul Mubiru, the trader in question, despite making a public apology, has  been arrested when immigration officers at the arrivals section at Entebbe International Airport swung into action upon his return from Dubai today, November 19,, 2021 at 11:49 am. He was detained at the airport police station and is awaiting charges. Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), to which he belongs, has also weighed in on the matter by vowing to punish Mubiru who is also a purchasing agent on behalf of several city traders.
For some, Mubiru may be seen as a hero judging by the passengers – mainly Ugandan traders that ply the Dubai route for trade – including a couple of Chinese passengers who partook in purchasing the delicacy. To others, he is a villain worthy of contempt for embarrassing the nation. To them, such manners are a preside of ground passengers on public buses where preaching and trading in items
from soft drinks, remedies for potency, hypertension, and diabetes all in one, are commonly dispensed by traditional or self-proclaimed doctors with no inhibitions whatsoever.
Mubiru may well be vindicated by history if the airline makes good on their promise to add those delicious critters to their inflight specials.

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New Guyana to Barbados flights on interCaribbean Aviation Feature, Aviation News

InterCaribbean Airways announced services from Georgetown (GEO), Guyana to Barbados (BGI), with connecting flights to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVD), Antigua (ANU), Grenada (GND), Dominica (DOM), and St Lucia (SLU). 
An onward flight via Barbados to Antigua, will continue to Providenciales and connect onwards to Havana, Cuba.
With these new routes and well-timed flights that connect to onward flights to the United Kingdom, the USA, and Canada, we look forward to welcoming customers from across the world.
interCaribbean expects to connect Georgetown to additional Caribbean points in the very near future to deliver on a truly connected Caribbean with interCaribbean Airways.
Flights are scheduled to begin operations on December 17, 2021 in time for the holiday season with 12 weekly flights planned to operate between Georgetown and Barbados.
Minister of Public Works, Juan A. Edghill welcomed the airline to the Guyana market at a ceremony hosted at Dukes Lodge in Georgetown on November 5, 2021. Minister Edghill said there is insufficient connectivity between Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean, and the Guyana government is therefore pleased with the additional airline joining its friendly skies.
In announcing the service at a launch event in Georgetown attended by Ministers, Diplomats based in Guyana, and members of the business community. According to Mr. Gardiner, “With the open-for-business efforts of this government, we were able to put everything in place, and we are here to make the announcement, and make the service a reality from December 17.”

Qatar Airways gears up for FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The first ever FIFA Arab Cup will take place in Qatar from 30 November to 18 December, with Qatar Airways as the Official Airline Partner of the tournament.
With 16 participating nations, fans can now look forward to the tournament. The qualifying countries have been drawn in four groups: Group A: Qatar, Iraq, Oman and Bahrain; Group B: Tunisia, UAE, Syri­­­­a and Mauritania; Group C: Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine and Group D: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “With less than a year to go until the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, this tournament will be the perfect test run for us as Official Airline and Official Partner of FIFA to prepare for the big stage. As this will be the first ever FIFA Arab Cup, Qatar will showcase the best of pan-Arab football. We want to provide a seamless primary touchpoint for fans, players, coaching staff and officials during their journey and stay here so that they can enjoy the best tournament possible.”
As FIFA’s Official Partner, Qatar Airways has sponsored mega events including the 2019 and 2020 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, and will sponsor the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Qatar Airways also sponsors some of the world’s biggest football clubs including Al Sadd SC, Boca Juniors, FC Bayern München, K.A.S. Eupen, and Paris Saint-Germain.
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 connect to a destination of their choice.

New flights from Antigua to Barbados and Providenciales on interCaribbean Airways now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

InterCaribbean Airways has been serving Antigua from Tortola since 2015 with up to double daily flights with AM and PM departures, connecting to Europe and USA/Canada bound flights as well as connection Antigua with onward flights to 8 other onward cities.
Now, interCaribbean Airways is pleased to announce new Antigua service with two new nonstop Jet service (ERJ145) destinations, connecting Antigua (ANU) with Barbados (BGI) with an initial two weekly flights, as well as nonstop service from Antigua (ANU) to Providenciales (PLS).
The Barbados flight continues immediately onwards to newly announced Georgetown (GEO), Guyana with 2 hours of flying and a short transit time. The same connection point in Barbados offers onward also to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVD), St Lucia (SLU) and Grenada (GND).
For the first time the Eastern Caribbean can now experience jet service between Antigua and Barbados, and onwards to Georgetown, making this the fast flight connection in the region.
New nonstop service to Providenciales (PLS), Turks and Caicos Islands, offers an immediate onward connection to Havana (HAV), Cuba as well as Nassau (NAS), Bahamas, and Kingston (KIN), Jamaica. Travelers can now jet between Antigua and Havana in less than 4 hours of flying time giving the fastest connection the market has seen.
Schedule Antigua- Barbados-Antigua
Flight JY 797 departs Antigua 2.30pm arrives Barbados 3.35pm (Wednesday and Saturday)
Flight JY 792 departs Barbados 12.10pm, arrives Antigua 1.15pm
Schedule Antigua-Providenciales-Antigua
Flight JY 794 departs Antigua 1.45pm arrives Providenciales 2.45pm* (Wednesday and Saturday)
Flight JY 795 departs Providenciales 10.30am, arrives Antigua 1.30*pm
* 1-hour time difference in winter between Antigua and Providenciales
Flights are scheduled to begin operations from the week of December 17, 2021 in time for the holiday season and making Antigua more connected with the region than ever before.

WestJet Group announces new interim President and CEO Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The WestJet Group today announced that Harry Taylor has officially assumed the role of interim President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The WestJet group announced Taylor as the interim President and CEO on September 15, 2021, following news of Ed Sims retirement announced on June 9, 2021.
“I am honored to take on the interim role of CEO at this pivotal time for the WestJet Group, and am focused on our relentless commitment to safety above all while ensuring continuity for our recovery, as we rebuild our airlines for our guests and our people,” said Harry Taylor, interim President and CEO.
“By the end of the year, we will return our entire fleet to service for the peak holiday travel season, connecting loved ones and fulfilling long awaited vacations plans. I look forward to leading our organization through this crucial phase of our recovery, while we continue our search for a permanent CEO.” 
“I am extremely pleased Harry has agreed to take on this interim role,” said the WestJet Group Board Chair Chris Burley. “Our global search for a permanent CEO continues, and on behalf of WestJet and the board, we are grateful Harry has stepped up to help us through this critical transition.”
Harry Taylor joined WestJet in 2015 as Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). During this time, he led the airline’s inaugural U.S. bond issue, negotiated the purchase of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing MAX aircraft, and was instrumental in the sale of WestJet to Onex. Through the pandemic, Harry led the Finance team in managing WestJet’s liquidity to ensure sustainability with little to no revenue coming in.
“I want to thank Ed for his contributions to WestJet’s strategy and growth initiatives over the past four years,” said Chris Burley, Chairman of WestJet’s board of directors. “Ed has led WestJet through the worst crisis in aviation history and will see us through to the end of 2021. We owe our relative strength and stability in no small measure to Ed’s leadership and steady hand. On a personal note, we’re pleased that Ed will be able to rejoin his family in New Zealand at the end of the year.” 

Tour operator schauinsland-reisen secures the travel tech competence of Airxelerate Aviation News

Tour operator schauinsland-reisen secures the travel tech competence of Airxelerate 2

The Berlin-based travel tech start-up Airxelerate expands its group of investors and wins tour operator schauinsland-reisen as a new investor. The company assembles unique tech experience in air and leisure distribution.  German tour operator schauinsland-reisen is investing in the Berlin-based travel tech provider Airxelerate. Schauinsland-reisen thus secures access to the company’s innovative software solutions, which

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WestJet names new Executive VP and Chief Loyalty Officer Aviation Feature, Aviation News

WestJet today announced the appointment of Karl Schuster, as the airline’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer (CLO). Schuster will join the WestJet executive leadership team in early 2022, following the completion of the immigration process.   
Schuster has over 19 years of loyalty experience, including six years as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Velocity Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia’s loyalty program. During his time at Virgin Australia, Schuster grew Velocity to be one of the largest loyalty programs in Australia, significantly increasing their annual revenue; increasing membership subscribers to 10 million, from their previous 5.3 million members; and growing partnerships with noteworthy brands across the country. Prior to his time at Velocity, Schuster lead multi-year loyalty programs for Qantas, British Airways and Malaysia Airlines and provided consulting advice to a diverse range of airlines in his nearly 15 years at Aimia Inc.
“Karl has an impressive history of driving exponential growth for a diverse range of loyalty programs and delivering results through innovation and strategy,” said Harry Taylor, WestJet Interim President and CEO. “We are looking forward to welcoming Karl to WestJet; his breadth of experience will elevate WestJet’s loyalty program to new heights.” 
The CLO is a newly created role for the airline, responsible for the execution of growing WestJet‘s loyalty program, products, services and partnerships through innovation and leadership. 
“As WestJet transitions from recovery to expansion, the airline is making significant investments in its already successful loyalty program, and I am thrilled to be joining the team at such a pivotal moment in time,” said Schuster. “As WestJet builds back stronger, there is incredible runway in front of WestJet Rewards and we will be working to bring guests more benefits and privileges through exciting and innovative loyalty enhancements. I am pleased to be joining WestJet’s high performing loyalty team alongside d’Arcy Monaghan, WestJet Vice-President, Loyalty Programs and I look forward to working with him and the team to take our program to new heights.” 

Ethiopian Airlines and IDC set to launch new Zambia Airways Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest aviation group in Africa, is pleased to announce that it has finalized preparations for the launch of Zambia’s National Carrier in a joint venture with Industrial Development Corporation Limited (IDC). Ethiopian has 45 percent stake in the joint venture while Industrial Development Corporation Limited (IDC) retains 55 percent, the shareholders have contributed USD30 million in capital towards the establishment of the airline.
The new Zambia Airways (ZN) is to join African sky with its initial domestic flight from Lusaka to Ndola on December 1, 2021 and it will operate at a frequency of six and five times a week to Ndola and Livingstone, respectively. Other domestic routes to Mfuwe and Solwezi will follow before introducing regional destinations, to Johannesburg and Harare, to its network within the first quarter of 2022.
Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines remarked: “Thestrategic equity partnership in the launching of Zambia’s national carrier is part ofour Vision 2025 multiple hub strategy in Africa. Ethiopian is committed to itsgrowth plan in collaboration with African carriers and the new Zambia Airwayswill serve as a strong hub in Central and Southern Africa availing domestic,regional and eventually international air connectivity for passengers and cargo tothe major destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, which will enhancethe socioeconomic integration and tourism industry in Zambia and the region.”
Through its multiple hubs strategy in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines currently operates hubs in Lomé (Togo) with ASKY Airlines, Malawian in Lilongwe (Malawi), Tchadia in N’Djamena (Chad) and Ethiopian Mozambique in Maputo (Mozambique) while having the already acquired stakes in Guinea’s and Democratic Republic of Congo’s national carriers.

A couple fleeing new Dutch quarantine arrested on flight to Spain Aviation Feature, Aviation News

A dramatic incident unfolded at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on board a flight that was set to depart for Spain at around 6pm on Sunday.
Just as the plane was about to take off, Dutch military police boarded the aircraft and removed a married couple who fled a quarantine hotel for suspected COVID-19 Omicron strain carriers in the Netherlands.
The identities of the detained couple were not released, and it is unclear whether they were infected or just being held in quarantine as a precaution. The military turned them over to health officials to be sent to another quarantine facility.
The Netherlands is on high alert after over a dozen cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant were discovered among airline passengers – before all 27 EU member states agreed to temporarily ban travel from seven southern African nations on Friday.
All recent arrivals into the Netherlands from South Africa, as well as from Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have been required to be tested and quarantined until their results are known, even if they are vaccinated.
Some 61 out of a total of 624 passengers tested positive for COVID-19, so the Dutch National Institute for Health (RIVM) warned that “the new variant may be found in more test samples.”
“We will control whether they keep to those rules,” Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge declared on Sunday, just hours before the escape attempt.

Qatar Airways Immediately Stops Flights from Five African Countries Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The airline will, however, continue to accept passengers for travel into these countries in-line with current restrictions.
Qatar Airways destinations stopped at these destinations due to the Omicron variant:
Luanda (LAD), Angola
Maputo (MPM), Mozambique
Johannesburg (JNB), South Africa
Capetown (CPT), South Africa
Durban (DUR), South Africa
Lusaka (LUN), Zambia
Harare (HRE), Zimbabwe
These restrictions will remain in place until further guidance is received from the World Health Organization (WHO). The situation will remain under review on a daily basis as new information becomes available.

New COVID-19 Omicron strain is in UK, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Czech Republic now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

United Kingdom has registered its first two cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 a day after the first case of the strain, which scientists suspect could be much more contagious, was recorded in Europe.
Today, a spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Health announced that a woman returning from vacation in Egypt had tested positive for what is believed to be the novel variant of COVID-19. He added that the sample is being studied further, with official confirmation expected by Sunday morning.
Belgian and German authorities are also officially confirming Omicron’s advent on the European continent.
Coinciding with that report from the Czech Republic, Kai Klose, the social affairs and integration minister in Germany’s Hesse region, tweeted that the “Omicron variant has, with a very high degree of likelihood, already arrived in Germany.” Klose revealed that “multiple mutations typical of Omicron were found in a person coming from South Africa” on Friday night. The individual was placed in quarantine pending the complete sequencing of the virus found in their sample.
Authorities in the Netherlands were facing a large number of suspected Omicron cases on Friday, when 61 people arriving in Amsterdam from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19. The travelers were taken from the airport to a nearby hotel and isolated there. The Dutch Health Ministry said samples are being studied “as quickly as possible [to see] whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.”
Earlier that day, the Dutch government banned all air travel from South Africa where the new strain was first detected. Passengers on the last two flights coming in from there had to spend hours on the runway, waiting to be tested.
Belgium has the dubious distinction of being the first nation in Europe to have officially confirmed a case of Omicron. The country’s health minister, Frank Vandenbroucke, announced on Thursday that the infected patient is an unvaccinated person who tested positive for COVID-19 on November 22. According to Belgium’s chief virologist, Mark Van Ranst, the holidaymaker had earlier returned from Egypt.
Yesterday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned there was still “considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of the Omicron variant.” The EU health authorities classed the strain as a “high to very high” risk.
That same day, all 27 EU member states agreed to temporarily halt air travel from seven southern African nations. The UK, US and Canada have also imposed similar restrictions.

Jamaica Announces New Air Services from Stockholm to Montego Bay Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, said: “We are delighted with VING’s decision to resume direct flights to Jamaica next winter. We are encouraged by the tour operator’s trust in our destination, and their charter service will significantly increase Swedish visitors, who usually stay on the island for 14 nights. He continued, ‘since reopening our borders last summer, our destination has continued to welcome visitors safely and seamlessly. We are prepared and resilient and have been meticulous in our preparations for visitors in the post-COVID-19 world. Jamaica’s tourism sector continues to lead the recovery efforts for the island’s economy, and I am pleased to report that we are making steady progress towards recovering stronger.”
Donovan White, Director of Tourism, agreed: “It is safe to say that tourism is steadily rebounding and the demand for Jamaica is high. We are very pleased that tour operators such as VING believe in destination Jamaica and we look forward to welcoming their passengers, to enjoy a truly unforgettable Jamaican experience in an environment which is safe, seamless and secure.”
Claes Pellvik, Nordic Head of Communication, Nordic Leisure Travel Group, said: “Nordic Leisure Travel Group is happy to come back to Jamaica again with non-stop flights Stockholm-Montego Bay for the upcoming winter season 22/23, especially since our previous customer feedback has always been excellent for our Jamaica program. What is new is that we will operate our brand-new Airbus A330-900neo from our own Sunclass Airlines. This state-of-the-art aircraft will reduce CO2 emissions by -23%, and at the same time enhance the passenger experience. We see Jamaica as being a perfectly positioned destination for the future with its focus on well-being, a vast selection of interesting activities and culture to explore, and a fantastic hotel product on offer.”
Jamaica has been welcoming back Swedish visitors since borders reopened in June 2020. All travelers aged 12 and over need to show proof of a negative antigen test performed by an accredited lab within three days of travelling. Home tests are not accepted. Travelers also need to complete a simple travel authorization form before they arrive, which is accessible through 
Jamaica’s extensive health and safety protocols, developed in conjunction with authorities across the health and tourism sectors, were among the first to receive the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels recognition.

Iberia Advance Passenger Information Through New Partnership Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Iberia and Kyte – the aviation sector technology company that offers a white label API to airlines as a SaaS – have today announced the signing of an agreement.
The Kyte API is a modern and easy to implement tool that allows travel industry distributors to connect directly to all of the inventory of the Spanish airline and access its products in an agile, easy and efficient way.
This agreement forms part of the mission of Kyte to offer advanced sales technology in the retail channel to airlines and, at the same time, help them to transform the way in which they fix prices and distribute their products to clients, both through the direct and indirect channels. 
Alice Ferrari, CEO of Kyte comments: “We are very proud to be one of the first providers of an API to an airline leader such as Iberia.
“Our objective is to help airlines to realise their vision to modernize all of the reservation experience. We offer to airlines new and easy to use tools that are designed to meet the current expectations for online sales. All of this without compromising the level of sophistication necessary to manage the complexity and security needs that the aviation industry demands.
“Our intention is to develop a strong and long-term relationship with Iberia and see how they take advantage of the great opportunities that NDC offers.”
Miguel Henales, Digital Business Director of Iberia, adds: “The pandemic restrictions have increased consumer expectations and accelerated digital tendencies. Thanks to the technology of NDC we can greater satisfy the needs of clients and offer them an optimum service at the time of reserving and then managing their trip.
“Our final objective is to attract more partners to our NDC channel, offering a modern connection like the Kyte API that allows a better distribution of our product.”

IATA: 12-month validity of EU COVID Certificate would protect tourism recovery Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for caution in response to a European Commission Recommendation that the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) should only remain valid for up to nine months after the second vaccination dose, unless a booster jab is administered.
“The EU DCC is a great success in driving a common continent-wide approach to managing the COVID-19 health crisis and in facilitating the freedom of people to travel again. It underpins a fragile recovery in the travel and tourism sector. And it is critical that any changes to it have a joined-up approach that recognizes the impact of divergent policies by individual member states and promotes further harmonization across Europe,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe.
Booster Shots
The critical issue is vaccine validity and the requirement for booster shots. As the immunity afforded by vaccination wears off, booster jabs are being increasingly offered to extend and strengthen people’s immune response. However, if booster shots are mandated to maintain the validity of the DCC, it is vital that states harmonize their approach to the length of time allowed between the point of full vaccination and administering the additional dose. The nine months proposed by the Commission could be insufficient. It would be better to delay this requirement until all states are offering booster jabs to all citizens, and for a twelve-month validity to give more time for people to access a booster dose, considering the differing national vaccination approaches being taken. 
“The proposal to manage limitations on the validity of the DCC creates many potential problems. People who received the vaccine before March, including many health workers, will need to have accessed a booster by 11 January or may be unable to travel. Will EU states agree on a standardized time period? How will the requirement be harmonized with the many states that have developed COVID passes that are reciprocally recognized by the EU? Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said booster shots should be prioritized for vulnerable groups that have not had a first dose, let alone a booster. Worldwide, the vaccine program still has a long way to go in many developing states and the focus should be on ensuring vaccine equity. Given that the majority of air travelers are not in the most vulnerable groups, allowing a twelve-month time period before a booster is needed would be a more practical approach for travelers and a fairer approach for vaccine equity,” said Schvartzman. 
Vaccine Recognition
A further element of concern is the Commission’s recommendation that travelers vaccinated with a non-EU approved vaccine should present a negative pre-departure PCR test. This will discourage travel from many parts of the world where infection rates are low, but the population have been vaccinated by WHO-approved vaccines which have yet to gain regulatory approval in the EU.
“Governments should prioritize policies that are simple, predictable and practical in order to ensure passengers regain confidence to travel and airlines confidence to reopen routes. The European Centre for Disease Control is explicit in its latest risk report that travel restrictions are unlikely to have any major impact on the timing or intensity of local epidemics. We appreciate that authorities must remain vigilant, but discriminating among vaccines that have been approved by the WHO is a waste of resources and an unnecessary barrier to people’s freedom to travel,” said Schvartzman.

Cathay Pacific cancels flights after crews snub new quarantine rules Aviation Feature, Aviation News

As Hong Kong is pursuing a ‘COVID-zero’ strategy in a push to reopen its border with mainland China, one of Asia’s largest airlines and Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific has been eager to assist the city authorities with this move.
Cathay Pacific asked its cabin crews and pilots to volunteer for a ‘closed-loop’ system in December. This involved working for three weeks in a row, staying in Hong Kong only briefly, before a two-week quarantine on their return.
However, the company appears to have had too few volunteers to operate this schedule as many want to be home for Christmas.
Cathay Pacific was forced to cancel some of its passenger flights to Hong Kong after most of its crews refused to follow the carrier’s quarantine rules.
Due to the crews’ snub, Cathay Pacific was forced to convert about one-third of its flights to freight instead of passenger transportation.
“The operational and travel restrictions that remain in place continue to constrain our ability to operate flights as planned. We are consolidating our passenger flight schedule for December 2021, including canceling a number of flights to Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific said.
The airline will arrange alternative bookings on remaining passenger flights to accommodate clients whose flights were canceled.
Despite Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regulations, COVID-19 cases keep reappearing, with three Cathay Pacific cargo pilots recently testing positive after arriving from Frankfurt.
Two cases of the new southern African COVID-19 variant, which has already caused several EU states to reintroduce travel restrictions, have also been found in travelers under quarantine, Hong Kong’s Department of Health announced on Friday.

More countries halt international flights over new COVID-19 variant Aviation Feature, Aviation News

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen, today, urgently called for all air travel to and from countries with reported cases of the new COVID-19 strain to be canceled until government and health officials have a better understanding of the risk the new virus variant poses.
Denmark, Morocco, the Philippines and Spain have become the latest nations to impose travel restrictions on all non-essential travel to South Africa and neighboring states, joining the growing list of countries with curbs over ‘super mutant’ COVID-19 strain.
The European Union’s announcement came after Denmark and Spain joined other European nations in limiting travel to the region, while, internationally, Morocco and the Philippines took similar steps to restrict movement to a group of countries deemed at risk.
Germany has declared South Africa a “virus variant area,” the country’s health minister Jens Spahn wrote on Twitter. It means “airlines will only be allowed to transport Germans” from the country.
All arrivals would be required to quarantine for 14 days, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered, Spahn added.
The Dutch authorities made a similar move, announcing a ban on flights from South Africa to the Netherlands from midnight.
Italy and Czech Republic were also quick to follow other European nations in imposing restrictions. 
Rome has banned entry to all arrivals from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. Prague has also said that non-nationals who recently visited South Africa won’t be allowed into Czechia.
Later in the day, France said that it was suspending flights from southern Africa for at least 48 hours, with Health Minister Olivier Veran announcing that all those who recently arrived from the region are going to be tested and monitored closely.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex revealed that talks among EU leaders on how to respond to the new strain, which so far hasn’t been diagnosed on the continent, are going to take place “over the next hours”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the large number of mutations in the newly-discovered variant raises serious concerns over how it will impact diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccinations.
The UK also restricted air travel to and from South Africa and its neighbors, with the country’s Health Security Agency saying that “this is the worst variant we have seen so far.”
Countries beyond Europe have also been worried about the new variant, with Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Bahrain imposing restrictions on travelers from the southern Africa region.
Israel also placed a ban on arrivals from southern Africa but then expanded that ‘red zone’ to almost the whole continent, only excluding some north-African nations.

Israel bans visitors from seven countries in southern Africa Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced today that South Africa and six other African countries have been added to Israel’s list of ‘red’ countries.
The expansion of the ‘red’ list was necessary due to the detection by South African scientists of a new COVID-19 variant in the southern Africa region, according to the PM’s Office.
The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference in South Africa.
Following a meeting, held by Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett, seven African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – were included in the list of “red” countries, or countries that Israelis are not allowed travelling to, unless they receive special permission from Israel’s health ministry.
Israelis returning home from those countries would be required to spend between 7-14 days in a quarantine hotel after arrival.
Visitors from these African countries will not be allowed to enter Israel as well, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Israel has recorded 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,000 dead since the pandemic began.
According to the country’s Health Ministry, only 57% of Israel‘s population of 9.4 million is fully vaccinated.

New EU rule will ban unvaccinated visitors from outside the bloc Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union, issued a proposal today, recommending that all UE member-countries only allow in vaccinated, recovered, or essential travelers (like truck drivers) from outside of the European bloc, as of March 2022.
Prospective visitors would need to prove that they were last vaccinated no more than nine months before entry, a move that essentially makes booster shots mandatory for most travelers.
Under proposed new rules, visitors would need a booster shot every nine months.
The EU currently recommends that member states allow in travelers from a list of just over 20 countries with “a good epidemiological situation.” Travelers from these locations ​​– which include Canada, New Zealand, and the UAE – are allowed into the EU with either a vaccine certificate, proof of recovery, or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Under the new rules, this list would be done away with, and individual travelers allowed in based on their vaccination or recovery status alone.
Currently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen. Russia’s Sputnik-V is under review by the agency, as are shots by Sanofi-GSK and China’s Sinopharm. 
Under the new proposal, the European Union would grant entry to travelers vaccinated with shots approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), but not the EMA. This would clear anyone jabbed with SInopharm, Sinovac, and two Indian-made vaccines to enter, as long as they provide a negative test result as well as proof of vaccination.
The Commission’s proposal will need to be cleared by the European Council, and if passed it will apply to every EU country except Ireland, which is not a member of the border-free Schengen Area.
About 67% of EU citizens are currently vaccinated against COVID-19, though individual countries have seen different uptake rates.
However, even in Ireland, which has the highest vaccination rate in the bloc at 93%, weekly new cases of the virus have tripled since the beginning of October, and the Irish government is considering fresh restrictions on daily life.
“It is evident that the pandemic is not yet over,” European Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Thursday, adding that “the travel rules need to take into account this volatile situation.”

WestJet is testing new touchless Trusted Boarding option Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Yesterday, WestJet, together with TELUS, trialed Trusted Boarding, a touchless process that uses safe and secure facial verification technology to verify travelers’ identity prior to boarding a flight. The trial was the first-of-its-kind in Canada and took place at the YYC Calgary International Airport. 
“The travel experience is evolving to include many touchless processes and WestJet is innovating to ensure our guests’ travel journey improves to become more seamless and efficient, while prioritizing safety above all,” said Stuart McDonald, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer. “The Trusted Boarding trial is a union between technology and WestJet that would in the future help our agents and our guests with contactless document validation.” 
WestJet‘s Trusted Boarding trial demonstrated that the responsible use of biometric boarding technology provides sufficient document validation and prevents non-authorized individuals from boarding an aircraft. Trial guests boarded WestJet flight 8901 through facial verification with their digital identity wallet on Embross’ Canadian made biometric hardware and boarding application at Gate 88. The trial marked the first step towards the implementation of the technology as WestJet works with the Government of Canada to seek full approval for its use as a safe and secure alternative for future WestJet boarding at Canadian airports. 
“As air travel gradually reopens, the passenger experience continues to evolve. Our groundbreaking, built in Canada solution allows travelers to enjoy a secure, touchless identity verification experience, while ensuring they are able to maintain control of their personal data,” said Ibrahim Gedeon, Chief Technology Officer, TELUS. “This level of control establishes and increases consumer trust by addressing privacy, security, and ethical data risks from the start, while providing transparency to customers.”
Trusted Boarding supports a more digital Canada using Canadian innovation. It employs a self-sovereign identity ecosystem (the creation of unique, private and secure connections between two trusted parties) through a TELUS-provisioned digital identity wallet in a smartphone application for IOS and Android. It provides contactless document validation, where a facial verification scan is matched with a traveler’s documentation that has been uploaded to the app prior to boarding. Importantly, the app ensures users retain control of their personal information at all times, meaning they can securely share their verified personal credentials and revoke access when the data is no longer needed.
The identity platform was developed by one37 and document integrity validation is provided by Oaro, ensuring the solution follows all data protection and privacy regulations covered under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

East African Community launches new intra-regional tourism drive Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The East African Community (EAC) has launched the EAC Regional and Domestic Tourism Media Campaign set to publicize national and regional tourist attraction sites and services, aiming to stimulate and develop intra-regional travel.
Launched this week, the “Tembea Nyumbani”, or “Visit Home” campaign seeks to attract East African citizens to travel in their own countries, then around the region, in an effort to revive domestic and regional tourism across the East African region, amid the COVID -19 pandemic.
The campaign is set to run for three weeks, from December 1, 2021. It is part of implementation of the EAC Tourism Marketing Strategy and EAC Recovery Plan supported by German Development Agency, GIZ.
EAC Secretariat launched the campaign at its headquarters in Northern Tanzania tourist city of Arusha.
Tourism contributes significantly to the economies of EAC Partner States and pre-pandemic, contributed 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 17% export earnings and 7% in jobs creation.
COVID-19 pandemic saw the sector affected negatively with international tourism arrivals in East Africa dropping by about 67.7%, to an estimated 2.25 million arrivals in 2020 compared to 6.98 million in 2019.
EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki had encouraged tourism private sector players to extend affordable packages to East Africans so as to entice them into taking advantage of the holiday offers available during the upcoming festive season.
“With preferential entry fees and rates now extended to EAC citizens, it is timely for East Africans to explore the diverse cultures, take on adventure safaris and visit exotic beaches amongst other opportunities the region has to offer”, Dr. Mathuki said during the media launch held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha mid-this week.
Dr. Mathuki further noted that EAC has developed an EAC Pass that integrates and validates COVID-19 tests and vaccination certificates for EAC Partner States to ease travel across the region.
The Tembea Nyumbani campaign is being undertaken by the EAC in collaboration with the East African Tourism Platform that represents the tourism businesses across the region. 
Through the campaign, hoteliers and other tourism service providers are being encouraged to promote affordable packages to the EAC citizens.
On his part, EAC Director in charge of Productive Sectors, Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana noted that the EAC is making strides in ensuring the Single Tourist Visa is adopted by all EAC Partner States.
“The Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management during their Extra-ordinary meeting held in July this year had recommended that the Secretariat to convene a multisectoral meeting comprising key sectors such as Tourism and Wildlife, Immigration and Security to develop a framework for introduction of the Single Tourist Visa by all the Partner States,” he said.
Mr. Havugimana noted that the meeting will be convened in early 2022, adding that once fully adopted the Visa will ease travel by foreign tourists across the entire region.
Further, EAC Principal Tourism Officer, Mr. Simon Kiarie, noted that EAC projects that with aggressive tourism efforts both at the regional and national levels; the region will be able to receive about 4 million tourists in next year. 
“The tourism sector’s recovery has been on an upward trajectory and we expect that by the year 2024, we will receive about 7 million tourists compared to 2.25 million tourists recorded in 2020”, he noted.

Flights from Almaty to New Delhi on Air Astana now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Air Astana will resume flights from Almaty to New Delhi, the capital of India, on 16th December 2021, with three services a week operated by Airbus A320 aircraft.
Departure from Almaty on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays is scheduled for 07:50 and arrival in New Delhi at 11:10, with return flight at 12:20 and arrival in Almaty at 16:40. All times local, with a flight time of 3 hours and 50 minutes in each direction.
Air Astana offers convenient connections for passengers travelling from Kyiv, Bishkek, Istanbul, Tbilisi and Baku.
Travel Information / Entry Requirements
All passengers travelling to New Delhi including children need to fill in New Delhi airport online form. Passengers over 5 years of age additionally need to upload results of PCR test with a negative result obtained within 72 hours before arrival. Prior to boarding on departure and again after arrival, passengers will undergo a thermometric test procedure. In the case of any symptoms of coronavirus being detected, passengers will be sent to a medical facility.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated passengers are required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and repeat it at the end of a seven-day home quarantine period. Fully vaccinated passengers are exempted from PCR test on arrival and from home quarantine.
Air Astana
Air Astana is the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, based in Almaty. It operates scheduled, domestic and international services on 64 routes from its main hub, Almaty International Airport, and from its secondary hub, Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport.

La Réunion Gets Up to Speed on Seychelles Ahead of Air Austral New Flight Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Heads of product and directors of the island’s travel trade companies came together for refresher training sessions on the destination’s selling points, COVID-19 health entry requirements, stay conditions for travelers, as well as a brief on product developments within the destination since the re-opening of the Seychelles border. The sessions, conducted by Bernadette Honore, Tourism Seychelles’ Senior Marketing Executive in La Réunion, aimed to build up momentum and interest among the French department’s travel trade decision makers as well as building up confidence in the destination ahead of the flights to Seychelles next month.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have been continuously updating travel trade professionals on the destination, especially in regard to the COVID-19 health regulations and stay conditions for travelers.  Having a one-to-one contact with La Réunion travel trade’s decision makers helps to rebuild the relationships, which our business entails, and mostly importantly, to instill their confidence to sell. Travel trade professionals are key partners in increasing airline load factors. Gaining their commitment to restart sales to Seychelles at this point in time is crucial for the destination and a rebound of visitor traffic from La Réunion to Seychelles,” said Ms. Honore.
Air Austral representatives were also present during the two sessions, showcasing the airline’s new fleet of aircraft assigned to regional routes including Seychelles and encouraging the professionals present to push sales to the Seychelles.
Both sessions were animated with questions, especially about the health and entry requirements and stay conditions for travelers.
At the end of the sessions, La Réunion’s travel trade professionals expressed their satisfaction with having received adequate information to not only pass on to their clientèle, but most importantly, give them the reassurance to travel to Seychelles.
The training sessions are part of marketing activities organized by Tourism Seychelles in Réunion. Televised spots will also be aired. The resumption of flights on December 19 will also provide opportunities for residents of the sister Vanilla Island to travel to Seychelles to join cruise vessels sailing within the archipelago’s waters and to explore the Inner and Outer Islands.
To note that 5,791 visitors from La Réunion visited the Seychelles in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

NASA aviation tech to save time for airport passengers Aviation Feature, Aviation News

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visited Orlando International Airport in Florida Wednesday and met with aviation leaders to discuss implementing aircraft flight scheduling technology developed by the agency that will soon improve dependability for passengers – which is especially important during peak travel times like the Thanksgiving holiday. 
In September, the technology that was tested during NASA’s Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Large airports across the country – including Orlando International – will soon implement the technology. Nelson discussed the technology transfer with Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown.
“NASA’s partnership with the FAA is constantly delivering for the American people, improving the efficiency of the commercial airline industry for the environment and passengers across the country,” Nelson said. “Our flight scheduling technology, which makes it possible for personnel to better coordinate the movements of aircraft while they’re at the airport, will soon help ensure more passengers get off the ground and home for the holidays faster and more efficiently than ever before.”
NASA and the FAA completed nearly four years of surface operations research and testing to calculate gate pushbacks through time-based metering at busy hub airports, so that planes can roll directly to the runway to take off and avoid excessive taxi and hold times, reducing fuel use, emissions, and passenger delays. 
“As we deploy this software, the travel experience gets better for passengers all the while aviation’s emissions decrease. It’s a win-win,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “NASA remains a critical partner in the FAA’s efforts to build a sustainable aviation system.”
The FAA plans to deploy NASA’s surface metering technology initially to 27 airports, including Orlando International, as part of a larger investment in airport surface management technology called the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) program. Improved efficiency and shifting departure wait time from the taxiway to the gate saves fuel, reduces emissions, and gives airlines and passengers more flexibility in the period prior to leaving the gate.  
“The anticipated rollout of the updated TFDM in 2023 aligns with our projections for returning to pre-pandemic passenger traffic the same year,” Brown said. “These updates should result in a smoother experience for the traveling public and enhance ‘The Orlando Experience’ we strive to offer every day at our world-class airport.”
NASA’s ATD-2 team first put their aircraft scheduling technology to the test with real-world users in September 2017 at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. By September 2021, the integrated arrival and departure system (IADS) tools had saved more than 1 million gallons of jet fuel. Those savings were made possible by reducing jet engine run time, which also decreases maintenance costs and saved airlines an estimated nearly $1.4 million in flight crew costs. Overall, passengers were spared 933 hours in flight delays and saved an estimated $4.5 million in value of time.

New mission to defend Earth launched by NASA and SpaceX Aviation Feature, Aviation News

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Just one part of NASA‘s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.
DART will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it – a method of deflection called kinetic impact. The test will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered. LICIACube, a CubeSat riding with DART provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), will be released prior to DART’s impact to capture images of the impact and the resulting cloud of ejected matter. Roughly four years after DART’s impact, ESA’s (European Space Agency) Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both asteroids, with particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and a precise determination of Dimorphos’ mass.
“DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “In addition to all the ways NASA studies our universe and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.”
At 2:17 a.m., DART separated from the second stage of the rocket. Minutes later, mission operators received the first spacecraft telemetry data and started the process of orienting the spacecraft to a safe position for deploying its solar arrays. About two hours later, the spacecraft completed the successful unfurling of its two, 28-foot-long, roll-out solar arrays. They will power both the spacecraft and NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster – Commercial ion engine, one of several technologies being tested on DART for future application on space missions.

Singapore and India Reach New Agreement on Flights Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Singapore’s VTL with India will start with six designated flights daily from Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai. Applications for vaccinated travel passes for short term and long-term pass holders from India will start from November 29. “Taking such a step-in time of Covid prevalence is indeed a bold move which will not only strengthen the relations between the two countries but will also work as a revival of tourism sector. I strongly feel that more commercial flights are needed to revive inbound tourism to India,” she further quoted.
Airlines can also operate non-VTL flights between the two countries, although passengers on non-VTL flights will be subjected to the prevailing public health requirements. “We at TAAI have been in constant dialogue with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India. The opening of the skies for international commercial passenger routes highlighting our concerns on ease of doing business,” commented Jay Bhatia, Vice President, TAAI.
Taking positive efforts, TAAI Southern Region in association with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) organized a travel webinar earlier this year in July which witnessed a large participation. “Such productive decisions are always welcomed by tourism sector and travel associations as the good part of the economy is dependent on travel and tourism. Economy everywhere needs a good revival especially after Covid trauma,” said Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon Secretary General, TAAI.
“Travel agents continue to be acknowledged as one stop solutions for customers, guiding and professionally managing all aspects of domestic and/or international travel which now includes complying with Covid requirements of departing and arriving at destinations,” said Shreeram Patel, Hon Treasurer, TAAI as he also extended his thanks to the authorities of both the countries.

Australia is reopening to fully vaccinated South Korean visitors Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Tourism Australia is excited to be welcoming back travelers from South Korea to Australia, following today’s announcement that Australia is reopening its borders to quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated South Korean citizens from 1 December.
The announcement is part of Australia‘s phased re-opening to international travel and builds on quarantine free travel arrangement with Singapore, which came into effect on 21 November.
“The announcement today enabling fully vaccinated travelers from South Korea to travel to Australia from 1 December is an exciting and significant next step in rebuilding international visitation from this key tourism market,” Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said.
“Australia has long been a popular outbound destination for travelers from South Korea, with 280,000 travelling to our country pre-COVID, and we are really excited that we will have the opportunity to welcome visitors from this important travel market once again.
“With the reopening of travel from South Korea, Tourism Australia will soon be kicking off dedicated marketing activity to urge travelers to come and enjoy all the incredible tourism experiences that await them in Australia,” Ms Harrison said.

Former GE executive named CEO of Unical Aviation Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Unical Aviation Inc. announced today it has appointed Sharon Green as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, effective December 1.
Ms. Green will replace Platinum Equity Managing Director Dori Konig, who is serving as Unical‘s interim CEO. Platinum Equity acquired Unical in August.
“This appointment is another important step in commitment to invest in Unical’s success and further strengthen its position in the global aerospace aftermarket,” said Mr. Konig. “Sharon is a proven leader who knows the industry and its customers, and has an exceptional track record for generating results. Her unique combination of management skill and sector expertise make her the ideal fit for Unical‘s next chapter of growth.”
Most recently, Ms. Green served as Chief Executive Officer for GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) Materials business, a premier distributor of airframe and engine components. Ms. Green joined GE in 2007 and went on to serve as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at GECAS. She previously served as Chief Financial Officer for The Memphis Group.
“I’m thrilled to join Unical at such an exciting time for the company and the industry,” said Ms. Green. “Unical has a well-deserved reputation as a trusted partner to aviation customers around the world. As air passenger traffic continues to rebound and the air cargo market continues to grow, Unical has an extraordinary opportunity to build on its success and reach even greater heights.”
Founded in 1990 and headquartered in City of Industry, CA, Unical Aviation Inc. has more than 350 employees and supplies aircraft parts and components to over 2,100 aviation customers around the globe through a network of dedicated facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia.
With more than 85 million parts and over 1.3 million unique airframe and engine part numbers in stock, Unical is one of the largest suppliers of new and used serviceable material for the global aerospace industry. The company sources, re-certifies and resells aircraft parts to commercial airlines, cargo operators, aircraft lessors, and aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) businesses. Unical is vertically integrated with its repair stations, providing a competitive advantage with quick to market service.
Ms. Green earned a Bachelor of Accountancy from University of Mississippi and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Christian Brothers University.

Simplicity, predictability and practicality keys to restoring global mobility now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to adopt simple, predictable and practical measures to safely and efficiently facilitate the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open.
Specifically, IATA urged governments to focus on three key areas:
Simplified health protocolsDigital solutions to process health credentialsCOVID-19 measures proportionate to risk levels with a continuous review process
The industry’s vision to address the complexity is outlined in the newly released policy paper: From Restart to Recovery: A Blueprint for Simplifying Travel. 
“As governments are establishing processes to re-open borders, in line with what they agreed in the Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO High Level Conference of COVID-19, the Blueprint will help them with good practices and practical considerations. Over the next months we need to move from individual border openings to the restoration of a global air transport network that can reconnect communities and facilitate economic recovery,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Deputy Director General.
The Blueprint aims to facilitate the efficient ramping-up of global connectivity. “We must have processes in place to safely and efficiently manage the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open. With over 18 months of pandemic operational experience and traveler feedback we know that a laser-focus on simplicity, predictability and practicality is essential. That is not the reality today. Over 100,000 COVID-19 related measures have been implemented by governments worldwide. This complexity is a barrier to global mobility that is exacerbated by the inconsistencies these measures have created among states,” said Clifford.
Focus Areas
Simplified health protocols: The aim must be protocols that are simple, consistent, and predictable. 
Key recommendations include:
Remove all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine.Enable quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.
These recommendations are supported by public opinion research of travelers which revealed that:
80% believe that vaccinated people should be able to travel freely81% believe that testing before travel is an acceptable alternative to vaccination73% believe that quarantine is not necessary for vaccinated travelers

47 Flights in One Day for Montego Bay Aviation Feature, Aviation News

He noted that since the reopening of Jamaica’s borders to international travel in June 2020, “this is the highest number of visitors to arrive at the Sangster International Airport in any single day since COVID-19 devastated the tourism industry worldwide and grounded international flights.”
Minister Bartlett said airlines have been showing renewed interest in flying to Jamaica and last week, in the wake of the Government lifting some COVID-related restrictions for visitors, the numbers have been rising steadily.
“We are not yet into the traditional high season but there is an eagerness by travelers to get away from their restricted environments of the past 18 months and the fact that Jamaica has not lost its appeal, we are seeing the bookings moving upwards at a welcome rate,” the tourism minister said.
Regarding airlines, new gateways to Jamaica are being added to the existing slate. Since the beginning of November, Jamaica has welcomed United States (US)-based Frontier Airlines, which commenced flights from Atlanta, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida; Eurowings Discover coming out of Frankfurt, Germany; American Airlines’ new service out of Philadelphia; and the return of Air Transat out of Canada.
Meanwhile, Regional Director of Tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Odette Dyer noted there is growing interest among travel agents about Jamaica’s preparedness in the wake of COVID-19. “We had some large familiarization groups last week, coinciding with several on-island activities, including the Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am in Montego Bay, so they were able to leave knowing that we are fully prepared,” she said.

Flights from Guatemala City to Mérida on TAG Airlines now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Within the framework of the 45th edition of the Tianguis Turístico México 2021, the Guatemalan company TAG Airlines announced its new air route that will connect Guatemala City with Mérida, Yucatán, in a direct flight that will begin operations in the first quarter of 2022 with four weekly frequencies and attractive competitive rates.
“We appreciate the trust of the authorities of the state of Yucatan, and TAG Airlines have the objective of advancing in the strengthening of air connectivity with all the states that make up the Maya World region, and Yucatan is, without a doubt, a strategic destination,” said Julio Gamero, CEO of TAG Airlines.
In the company of Marcela Toriello, President of the Board of Directors of TAG Airlines, Gamero said: “today we will endorse tag airlines’ commitment to promoting the development of the aviation and tourism industry, which are two important engines for the economic growth of our towns, while thanking mayor Renan Barrera for his role as facilitator of this new route.”
The governor of the State of Yucatan, Mauricio Vila, celebrated the upcoming start of operations of TAG Airlines in the state, and said that the joint work will result in the Yucatan and Guatemala doing well.
He stressed that this new air route will contribute to strengthening the ties of unity between the two peoples, as well as the economic development of the Mayan World region.
For his part, the mayor of Mérida, Renan Barrera Concha, said that the arrival of TAG Airlines in the Yucatecan capital is one of the good news that the sector expected, especially within the framework of the Tianguis Turístico Mérida 2021. He said that air connectivity will undoubtedly encourage the development of tourism and business.
Yucatan offers the leisure and business traveler important attractions, among which the cosmopolitan city of Merida, the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza (considered one of the wonders of the world), Valladolid, Izamal, in addition to its great cultural, natural and gastronomic wealth. Meanwhile, Guatemala, as the heart of the Mayan world, offers a wide diversity of cultural and commercial attractions, and represents the main gateway to the Central American region.
TAG Airlines is a 100 percent Guatemalan company that for 50 years has maintained a firm commitment to air connectivity and development.
It currently operates 27 daily flights in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Mexico, with a modern fleet of more than 20 aircraft.
TAG Airlines recently began operations in Mexico, with air routes connecting Guatemala City with Cancun and Tapachula, as well as the route between Cancun and the city of Flores, in the Petén region.

Air Canada adding extra capacity into Vancouver Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Air Canada announced today that it has significantly increased cargo capacity into and out of Vancouver between November 21 and 30 from its hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary as it works to ensure that the vital economic supply chain links in British Columbia are maintained following the impacts of last week’s flooding. In total, Air Canada is adding 586 tons of cargo capacity, representing 3,223 cubic meters to support B.C.’s economic supply chain and the needs of its communities. The additional capacity is equivalent in weight to approximately 860 adult moose.
“The economic supply chain is vital, and to help support the urgent transport of goods into and out of British Columbia, we have increased capacity to our YVR hub by using the flexibility of Air Canada‘s fleet to reschedule 28 passenger flights from narrow-body aircraft to be operated with wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 777, and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. These changes will allow an additional 282 tons of goods to be moved across the country on our scheduled passenger flights,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo, at Air Canada.
“Additionally, Air Canada Cargo will operate an additional 13 all-cargo flights between our Toronto, Montreal and Calgary cargo hubs and YVR using widebody aircraft, providing approximately 304 tons of additional capacity. These aircraft will help move mail and perishables such as seafood, as well as automotive parts and other industrial goods,” concluded Mr. Berry.
Air Canada is also working with its regional partner Jazz Aviation to provide additional regional cargo capacity by temporarily converting an Air Canada Express De Havilland Dash 8-400 from its normal passenger configuration into a special freighter configuration. This Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter operated by Jazz can carry a total of 18,000 lbs. (8,165 kg) of cargo and will be deployed to transport critical goods, as well as consumer and industrial goods and will be in service as early as this week.
Last week, as the impact of the devastating floods became apparent, Air Canada quickly added capacity to the Air Canada Cargo network by substituting larger widebody aircraft on 14 passenger flights into Vancouver.
In addition to the extra cargo capacity, Air Canada had also increased the number of seats available for customers in Kelowna and Kamloops since November 17, adding approximately 1,500 seats into both communities by utilizing larger aircraft on routes. This enabled people affected by the highway closures to fly into and out from these airports, and through the cargo capacity of these passenger aircraft, also allowed for the important transport of emergency medical supplies into these regions.
Air Canada continues to monitor the situation in British Columbia very closely and will adjust its passenger and cargo schedule accordingly.

Vietnam reopens Phu Quoc island to fully vaccinated foreign tourists Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Vietnam’s holiday island of Phu Quoc welcomed more than 200 fully vaccinated tourists from South Korea today.
South Korean visitors are the first foreign tourists to Vietnam since the country shut its borders closed almost two years ago to stop the spread of the coronavirus infections.
Vietnam closed its borders in March of 2020, shortly after confirming its first reported COVID-19 infection case.
Since then, Vietnam allowed only several international flights a week with foreign experts, diplomats and returning Vietnamese nationals.
Those international arrivals must undergo a 14-day quarantine in designated hotels or government-run facilities.
Today, the fully vaccinated South Korean tourists were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, and once the negative results are returned, they can enjoy all tourist activities on the island without a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
South Korean visitors will be able to freely enjoy sightseeing, shopping and entertainment events that require vaccine certificates.
According to Vietnam’s Health Ministry, all staff members working in the island’s service facilities and 99% of Phu Quoc’s adult residents have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
The island is also planning to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17 next month.
Vietnam is the latest country in Asia to join Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in reopening their borders to fully vaccinated foreign visitors.
Thailand was the first has started to allow the limited number of fully vaccinated foreign visitors to Phuket island before expanding to other areas, including Bangkok, starting from November 1.
The Indonesian tourist island of Bali opened to arrivals last month with some restrictions including testing and a five-day hotel quarantine.
Malaysia opened up Langkawi island under a pilot ‘COVID-19 bubble’ program.

South African Airlines new flight schedule: Changes, additions and cancellation Aviation Feature, Aviation News

 After careful appraisal of ongoing passenger volumes, SAA is adjusting its flight schedules to accommodate passenger requirements. 
The airline will remove from the schedule its daily return service to Maputo in Mozambique. The decision is effective from December 1, 2021, and passengers holding tickets will be accommodated on codeshare flights operated by Mozambique Airlines, TM (LAM). 
SAA’s Interim Executive Commercial Simon Newton-Smith says, “When SAA resumed operations at the end of September, we committed to constantly monitor passenger volumes and revenue on all routes. Demand on this service has not met expectations and for the time being, this change is in line with our strategy of being a transparent management and fiscally responsible.” 
Newton-Smith says taking upon two new routes, to Lagos in Nigeria and Mauritius has been encouraging and new services to other destinations are also being considered for 2022. 
Other adjustments being made for the December ’21 and January ’22 holiday season, are due to the expected slow demand on traditionally non-travel days, as customers spend their time with families and friends. 
Return flights to Accra in Ghana have been adjusted and will not operate on 25th December 2021 and 1st January 2022. Kinshasa, DRC flights have been adjusted and will not operate on 24th December 2021 and 31st December 2021. All Passengers will be accommodated on the next available SAA flights. 
SAA had operated 4 days a week to Lusaka from September to 30 November 2021. SAA had scheduled additional frequencies to fly 7 days a week from December, however further adjustments were made to the schedule to operate 5 days a week from the 1st of December. Affected passengers will be accommodated on the next available SAA flights. 
Notes Newton-Smith, “No airline likes to cancel flights but we are committed to success and sustainability of our airline, whilst we meet our valued customer requirements. We apologize to customers for any inconvenience and full assistance will be provided to all customers holding an SAA ticket on flights that are withdrawn from the schedule. 
Customers should refer to issuing offices for assistance.” Passengers who no longer wish to travel may cancel their booking and are able to receive a full refund (inclusive of taxes) or opt for the credit voucher which will be offered to the original form of payment. 
Newton-Smith says customers who have booked through a travel agent should contact them directly and if tickets were brought online or through the SAA call center customers can contact SAA Trade Support via e-mail at [email protected] Customers who booked through an overseas SAA call center should contact their local SAA office. 

Safe Ethiopian Airlines Operation on the Edge? Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Africans will never forget the crash of Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia and how the Western media rushed to blame Ethiopian pilots! Today Boeing is confirmed to be the guilty party, and the tone in the media has changed.
Today the United States is warning pilots about Addis Ababa International Airport to be unsafe because of the TPLF TerroristGroup firepower! No armed group can march into Addis Ababa! There is no armed group able to do so.
This and many other messages are flooding social media channels. The fact remains the United States is warning pilots that planes operating at one of Africa’s busiest airports could be “directly or indirectly exposed to ground weapons fire and/or surface-to-air missiles” as Ethiopia’s war nears the capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopians are at the edge due to the United States warnings and America’s warning for Americans to leave the country.
The message is: Don’t use Ethiopian Airlines. Tweets say the aim is for America to cripple the Ethiopian economy. This is undeclared war by the USA!!!
The Federal Aviation Administration advisory issued Wednesday cites the “ongoing clashes” between Ethiopian forces and fighters from the northern Tigray region, which have killed thousands of people in a year of the war. The U.S. this week urged its citizens in Ethiopia to “leave now,” saying there should be no expectation of an Afghanistan-style evacuation.
Diplomatic efforts to stop the fighting have met resistance, but Kenya’s president told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday that Ethiopia’s prime minister in a meeting on Sunday gave the impression he was ready to consider several proposals to ease tensions and reduce violence, a senior State Department official said.
In the meantime tweets from Ethiopia are demanding for the US to stop scaring people, claiming Addis Ababa is safe.
Other tweets are suggesting for the Addis Ababa-based African Union to pack up and move to another African country.
African Tourism Board Chairman Cuthbert Ncube said: “I flew on Ethiopian through Addis Ababa several times in the last few days and met with airline officials.” There is no imminent danger, and Ethiopian Airlines’ leadership should be trusted in their decision to operate the airline safely.” “I hope a further escalation of the civil conflict can be avoided”

Johannesburg to Lagos flights on South African Airways now Aviation Feature, Aviation News

Starting on December 12, 2021, South African Airways (SAA) will add another important continental route to its network with a three-times a week flight fromJohannesburg to Lagos in Nigeria. SAA has been flying to Nigeria for the past 23 years and the resumption of the service is a welcome addition to its growing network on the African continent.
“This specific destination takes SAA into one of the biggest travel markets in Africa and we’re delighted that we are again able to resume operations, providing a link between Africa’s two biggest economies,” said Thomas Kgokolo, Interim CEO of South African Airways. The relaunch of service between Johannesburg and Lagos is part of SAA’s gradual growth strategy, having resumed full operations in September on the domestic South Africa and regional Africa routes.
“Our intention is to continue to develop our route network driven by passenger demand and revenue potential. We are constantly evaluating opportunities in the local, regional and international markets,” adds Kgokolo.
Not only does the new Johannesburg-Lagos route function as a key commercial and economic link between the two countries but will also service the burgeoning tourism market in both countries. SAA will continue in partnership with South African Tourism to promote the country in Nigeria with the expectation that it will generate more visitors now that international pandemic travel restrictions are being revised.

New flight from San Jose to Palm Springs on Alaska Airlines Aviation Feature, Aviation News

As of today, travelers can enjoy year-round, nonstop service between Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) and Palm Springs international Airport (PSP), thanks to  Alaska Airlines.
The daily flights depart Mineta San José at 8:10 a.m., arriving in Palm Springs just before 9:30 a.m., daily. For those in Palm Springs, the daily flight to San José departs at 10:10 a.m.
“Nonstop service to Palm Springs has been a top-requested route for several years,” said John Aitken, SJC Director of Aviation. “This link between Silicon Valley and Coachella Valley is an incredibly exciting sign of recovery, and both regions will benefit from the convenient, daily service.”
“Securing nonstop service to San José has been a priority for Palm Springs International Airport,” said Ulises Aguirre, Executive Director of Aviation for the City of Palm Springs. “San José, along with the rest of Bay Area, is a top destination for residents and businesses in the Coachella Valley and we’re thankful to Alaska Airlines for connecting PSP to SJC.”
The 80-minute flight operates aboard an Embraer 175 aircraft, with 76 seats; 12 in business and 64 in economy.
Launch of service kicks off the busy Thanksgiving holiday period, which begins today, with Mineta San José International expecting 400,000 travelers through next weekend.