The Dutch government designated the United States a “very high-risk” nation after a surge in new Omicron cases. The United States was added to the Netherlands‘ list of “very high-risk” countries yesterday, alongside Afghanistan, Haiti, Jordan, Somalia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Under restrictions implemented last week, those arriving from very high-risk countries “must self-quarantine for 10 days, even if they have proof of vaccination or proof of recovery,” meaning that COVID-19 self-isolation period is now required for all new US arrivals, and even fully vaccinated travelers arriving from the United States will now have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the Netherlands. The self-isolation period can be reduced if a traveler tests negative for coronavirus halfway through the quarantine. Travelers aged 12 and over will also have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on entry to the Netherlands. The new restrictions are significant due to the fact that they apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers alike, with some studies suggesting certain COVID-19 vaccines fare worse against Omicron than against previous strains. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the US has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths worldwide, at 52 million and 800,000 respectively, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It has also registered the most cases globally over the past seven days, at 1,600,000 – nearly three times as many as the runner-up, the UK, which had 600,000.
Global full-service aircraft lessor Aviation Capital Group (ACG), wholly owned by Tokyo Century Corporation, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for 20 A220s and a firm contract for 40 A320neo Family aircraft, of which five are A321XLRs. “We are delighted to expand our portfolio with additional A220 and A320neo Family aircraft. These highly advanced aircraft will enhance ACG’s strategic objective to offer our airline customers the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft available,” said Thomas Baker, CEO and President of ACG. “The order is another gratifying endorsement of our single aisle products by one of the world’s premier aircraft asset managers, ACG and the Tokyo Century Group. It also forcefully confirms the A220 as a growingly desirable aircraft and investment in the commercial aviation landscape. We congratulate and thank ACG for its decision to select both the A220 and A320neo Families,” said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International. 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 PW1500G geared turbofan engines. Featuring a 50% reduced noise footprint and up to 25% lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft, as well as around 50% lower NOx emissions than industry standards, the A220 is a great aircraft for regional as well as long distance routes operations. The A320neo Family is the most successful commercial aircraft family ever and displays a 99,7% operational reliability rate. The A320neo Family incorporates the latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, while offering unmatched comfort in all classes as well as Airbus’ 18-inch-wide seats in economy as standard. The A320neo Family provides operators with at least a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The A321XLR version provides a further range extension to 4,700nm. This gives the A321XLR a flight time of up to 11 hours, with passengers benefitting throughout the trip from Airbus’ award-winning Airspace interior, which brings the latest cabin technology to the A320 Family. With this order ACG is supporting the recently launched multi-million-dollar ESG fund initiative by Airbus that will contribute towards investment into sustainable aviation development projects.
The 2021 Gay Travel Awards has released its list of official winners. This year has been another challenging one for travelers. With the pandemic ebbing and flowing across the globe and the uncertainty related to the latest Omicron variant, many are restricted from traveling or waiting for a safer time. The Gay Travel Awards affords everyone a moment to focus on the industry’s best as a prologue to getting back out there. The Gay Travel Awards support and promote LGBTQ+ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select destinations, properties, events, influencers, and other organizations that exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness and hospitality excellence. These distinguished winners lead by example and inspire other inclusive companies and brands. Every year, especially now, The Gay Travel Awards offer something to look forward to, while inspiring future travel. The Gay Travel Awards are akin to The Oscars for LGBTQ+ travelers. Returning for its sophomore year, “The Gay Travel Influencers” category consists of creators who inspire travel with their inclusive spirit, a drive for diversity, and a desire to change the world for the better. The 2021 Gay Travel Awards Winners by category appear alphabetically below:
Prague Airport remains a safe place for travel as confirmed by the ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) Certificate, re-assigned to Prague Airport for a high level of protective measures implemented, which ensures increased safety of passengers flying through Prague. The Certificate appreciates the fact that the set standards meet the requirements of international organizations in the aviation industry. “The airport has repeatedly demonstrated an admirable continuation of its efforts to provide a safe airport experience for all travelers which is in line with the recommended health measures established in the ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force Recommendations,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World Director General, stated in the reaccreditation letter. Prague Airport has maintained its accreditation for the next 12 months. The measures implemented have been in place since the spring of 2019, applied by Prague Airport as one of the first entities in the Czech Republic. “To obtain the Certificate, it was necessary, for example, to present information on all set measures and processes, including detailed records of cleaning and disinfection schedule, draft an overview of changes in passenger check-in procedures as well as share specific steps aimed at protecting the health of airport employees. In this regard, we have introduced our own sophisticated system for tracing contacts in the workplace. Therefore, I am immensely happy that the set protection measures work, eliminate health risks for travel and thus increase the safety of flying from Prague,” Jiří Pos, Chairman of the Prague Airport Board of Directors, said. Departure and arrival heck-in is performed under strict hygienic conditions. All passengers and visitors are obliged to wear FFP2 class respirators while inside the airport, to maintain a safe distance, and to pay thorough attention to hand hygiene and disinfection. For this purpose, over 300 disinfection tanks are located throughout the airport. Since June last year, a commercial test point has been run in cooperation with an external laboratory, where passengers can get COVID-19 tested before departure or after arrival. The airport is also subject to increased disinfection and cleaning of all busy areas, including passenger gates. “We inform passengers about the set measures in a number of ways, including airport announcements, repeated at regular intervals, alongside information signs located throughout the airport, and floor stickers in places where queues may form,” Daniel Otta, Customer Experience Manager, added. ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) is an official certification program that is open to all member airports of this organization worldwide. Under the program, the ACI evaluates airports according to individual criteria and thus assesses their set protective measures and other tools they use in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Obtaining the accreditation then confirms that the airport is well prepared and that passengers can fly safely and with ease from the certified airports. At the same time, thanks to this accreditation, hygiene standards are being implemented throughout the aviation industry with the goal to increase the safety of travel, boost the confidence of passengers in accredited airports, and fuel the demand for air travel. Airports Council International (ACI) is a global industry association that brings together approximately 1960 airports in a total of 176 countries. It was founded in 1991 and aims to promote cooperation among members and other partners in the field of air transport.
Delta Air Lines turned back a flight from Seattle to Shanghai, that was already halfway to China, after new pandemic-related cleaning rules at Shanghai Pudong International Airport forced the US carrier abruptly halt service to one of two major airports in Shanghai that handles mostly international flights. That recent midair reversal reportedly left quite a few Delta Air Lines‘ passengers stranded with expiring COVID-19 tests and visas. The new Shanghai Pudong International Airport‘s mandates “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” the airline said in a statement issued today. The second-largest US air carrier didn’t elaborate on what the rule changes were or why it was necessary to call back a flight that had already been in the air for about six hours. As of now, Delta Air Lines has canceled its Seattle-Shanghai flights through at least Thursday. The aborted flight was reportedly entering Russian airspace last week when it made a U-turn and headed back towards Seattle. It was due to land in Seoul for a crew change before continuing on to Shanghai. While a Delta spokesperson said the rule change was made after the flight left Seattle, Chinese media outlets report that Shanghai Pudong officials denied any recent change to entry requirements. Without naming Delta Air Lines, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco said yesterday that many US flights to China had been delayed or canceled in recent days and claimed it lodged a complaint with the carrier that called back a flight midway. Taiwanese airline EVA Air has suspended flights from Kaohsiung and Taipei to Shanghai Pudong Airport until February 3, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA). EVA Air cited new requirements for disinfecting inbound planes more thoroughly, which it said were implemented on Friday. The new rules would cause return flights to Taiwan to be delayed by up to five hours, an EVA official said. China has significantly tightened travel restrictions in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on February 4.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) keeps insisting that the quality of supplied air on board an aircraft is much better than most indoor environments, therefore aircraft cabin remains a very low-risk environment for contracting COVID-19, even though the new Omicron strain of the virus appears to be more transmissible than other variants in all environments. According to IATA, factors that contribute to the very low risks include aircraft design characteristics (direction of airflow, rate of air exchange and filtration), the forward orientation of passengers while seated, well-enforced masking, and enhanced sanitary measures. Other cabin features including the mandatory usage of masks on board and the requirements around tests and/or vaccination certificates, make the risk of contracting COVID-19 to be very low, IATA claims. Public health authorities have not suggested further measures for indoor environments as a result of Omicron; and IATA’s advice for travelers, including correctly wearing masks, is also unchanged. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines founded in 1945. IATA has been described as a cartel since, in addition to setting technical standards for airlines, IATA also organized tariff conferences that served as a forum for price fixing. Consisting of 290 airlines (2016), primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total available seat miles air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Canada in the city of Montréal, with executive offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
Global airlines canceled over 2,000 Christmas Eve flights worldwide, with more than 500 of them being US flights. US carriers canceled hundreds of flights across the United States on Christmas Eve due to COVID-19 staff shortages, stranding thousands of travelers at the airports nationwide, while forcing others to cancel holiday travel altogether. The disruptions come after airline executives said they expect some of the busiest days since the coronavirus pandemic began over the Christmas and New Year holidays, despite the surge in COVID-10 infections, driven by the new Omicron strain. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” Chicago-based United Airlines said in a statement yesterday. “As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” the carrier added. United Airlines canceled over 170 domestic flights today, about 9% of its schedule, according to media reports. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines reported that it has canceled 90 domestic flights. According to Delta, prior to this decision its teams “have exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying.” This follows a call to US authorities by Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who asked to cut quarantine for fully vaccinated people to five days from the current 10. As a reason for his request, he cited COVID-related staff shortages. Earlier, JetBlue addressed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with similar requests. According to an American Automobile Association forecast, more than 109 million people – almost 34% more than in 2020 – “will travel 50 miles or more as they hit the road, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town” between December 23 and January 2. Out of these 109 million, 6.4 million are going to travel by air.
A spokesperson for the European Commission announced today that starting next year, all visitors from the United Kingdom will have to pay €7 ($7.92) visa fee to enter Schengen EU nations. The executive branch of the European Union confirmed today that the British travelers will be charged the visa fee, in line with the bloc’s existing scheme for non-EU nations and will have to pre-register their details before being allowed to enter EU. The European Travel and Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS) currently allows residents of 61 non-EU countries to enter the Schengen zone with pre-authorization. Rather than needing a visa, the scheme charges a levy, which permits holders to stay in, and travel around, Schengen-signatory EU states for up to 90 days. From late 2022, as part of post-Brexit arrangements, the UK will be added to ETIAS, covering all Schengen area nations as well as a number of non-Schengen ‘micro-states’ such as Vatican City. The ETIAS scheme was first unveiled by the EU in 2016, as part of an effort to bolster security by allowing immigration officials to track visitors through the bloc, while not needing to impose a laborious visa scheme when traveling between member states. When it was introduced, then-President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker praised the scheme as improving the management of EU borders, helping to decrease crime and terrorism, and reinforcing the bloc’s visa liberalization policy.
As the year comes to a close, Milan Bergamo Airport has welcomed its sixth new airline for 2021 marking the arrival of HiSky to the Italian gateway’s roll call. Celebrating three inaugural flights this week, the Moldovan low-cost carrier (LCC) will link the Lombardy region to historic and economic centers of Romania and Moldova. While facing no direct competition on flights to Baia Mare and Târgu Mureş (both launched 20 December), arrival on the Chisinau market on 24 December will give the HiSky an immediate 32% share of services to the Moldovan capital. Operating twice-weekly links to each destination, the LCC will add more than 56,000 departing seats from Milan Bergamo during 2022, significantly boosting the airport’s network. Commenting on the development, Giacomo Cattaneo, Director of Commercial Aviation, SACBO says: “This year has been another of hardships for everyone but I’m more than proud to have been able to see so many new airlines join our portfolio, it feels an appropriate end to 2021 to welcome our sixth new carrier, HiSky, in the run up to the festive season.” Cattaneo adds: “Milan Bergamo already supports flights to Bacâu, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Craiova, Iasi, and Bucharest Otopeni in Romania, so it is great that we can now offer two further destinations to what is a growing market for us, while the additional services to Chisinau will support the growing demand from our customers to visit the most prosperous locality in Moldova.” In addition to celebrating new routes, Milan Bergamo also marked the inauguration of the airport’s new airside terminal, now complete with the addition of six boarding gates, baggage carousels and added retail offerings. While the new infrastructure was opened to passengers last month, last week saw Bergamo ministers and officials, and representatives from SACBO observe the investment the airport has made to improve passenger experience.
Continued interest in aircraft maintenance at Prague Airport has been confirmed as Czech Airlines Technics (CSAT) signed a new contract with another major customer. CSAT management has entered into a base maintenance agreement with Austrian Airlines. Based on successful tender, won by CSAT, the company will perform overhauls of a total of 13 Airbus A320 family aircraft. Despite several operational changes by air carriers, lessors, and other aircraft operators in connection with the resumption of operations post the pandemic, over 100 projects were successfully completed last season. “Pursuing the course of our long-term strategy, we confirm further co-operation with an important aircraft base maintenance customer. Last year, we won several new clients, and we continue to work for our long-term partners from airlines and leasing companies this year. Following that, our hangar capacity is fully booked for the ongoing base maintenance season,” Pavel Haleš, Chairman of the Czech Airlines Technics Board of Directors, said. Based on the latest agreement concluded with Austrian Airlines, CSAT will provide Airbus A320 family narrow-body aircraft base maintenance using one of its production lines in Hangar F. Its team will perform a total of six overhauls this season. During the following year, seven more aircraft will arrive in Prague for the planned checks. “We build on our 2019 co-operation with the Austrian national carrier, member of the Lufthansa Group, which will continue thanks to the new long-term agreement at least until 2023. We value the fact that Austrian Airlines has chosen Czech Airlines Technics and our services once again,” Pavel Haleš added. “To ensure that our aircraft always complies with the highest standards on safety and security we focus on long standing, regional cooperation with trusted partners. We are pleased to be able to renew our agreement with Czech Airlines Techniques for another two years,” said Francesco Sciortino, Austrian Airlines’ Chief Operational Officer. Last season, Czech Airlines Technics completed over 100 base maintenance overhauls of Boeing 737, Airbus A320 Family and ATR aircraft. Concurrently, CSAT successfully performed first maintenance jobs on Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A321neo. The company received approvals to perform maintenance checks of both most modern narrow-body aircraft types from the Czech Civil Aviation Authority in the first half of 2021. Finnair, Transavia Airlines, Neos and Austrian Airlines are among the most important Czech Airlines Technics clients in the base maintenance division long-term. In 2021, a team of CSAT mechanics also worked on projects for LOT Polish Airlines, Swedish airline Novair and other clients comprising leasing companies and representatives from both the government and private sectors.
The office of the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement today, announcing that the United States would be added to Israel’s ‘red list’ of countries, making America off-limits to Israeli travelers. The decision to add US to Israeli ‘no fly’ list, prohibiting citizens from visiting the country followed a meeting of the cabinet on Sunday and will come into effect at midnight on Tuesday (10pm GMT), according to the statement. Israelis needing to travel to the United States will have to apply for and receive a special permission for their trip. The United States was not the only new addition to Israeli ‘red list.’ Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey were all added to the no-fly roster on Monday, following recommendations from the Ministry of Health. There are now more than 50 countries on Israel‘s ‘red list’ to which Israelis cannot travel due to fears about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Addressing the Israelis in a televised speech, Bennett said Israel, through tough border restrictions, had bought time to prepare against the new variant. However, he predicted a surge of infections in the coming weeks. To date, Israel has registered 134 confirmed Omicron cases and another 307 suspected cases. According to the Health Ministry, 167 were symptomatic. The Omicron variant has driven a new surge of infections, even in the countries where vaccination levels are high.
French bee, the low-cost, long-haul airline (Groupe Dubreuil member) based in France, has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000, on lease from Air Lease Corporation, to join its fleet and make the airline an all-A350 fleet operator. The aircraft is the first of two A350-1000s to be operated by French bee on route from Paris to Saint Denis de La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. The Airbus A350-1000s will complement the four A350-900 aircraft already in the French bee fleet, providing the airline with unrivalled operational flexibility and eco-efficient solutions for its network. The aircraft features 480 seats in a two-class layout (40 premium class and 440 economy class), providing all the comfort and amenities of Airbus’ Airspace cabin, including state-of-the-art, in-flight passenger entertainment (IFE) and full WiFi connectivity throughout the cabin. The A350 cabin is also the quietest of any twin-aisle aircraft. The A350-1000, Airbus’ largest widebody in the twin-engine category, features the latest aerodynamic design, a carbon fiber fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines, allowing the airline to fly long-haul destinations up to 16,000 km (8,700nm). Together, these elements translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency with 25% less fuel burn and CO2 emissions and 50% reduction in noise. Simultaneously, the Dubreuil group also takes delivery of another A350-1000 on lease from Air Lease Corporation intended for Air Caraïbes, bringing the number of Airbus aircraft in the group’s fleet to 15. At the end of November 2021, the A350 Family had received 913 firm orders from 49 customers worldwide.
Southwest Airlines Co. today announced two Leadership promotions within the Technology Department to replace recently vacated roles, with both effective Jan. 1, 2022. Kayce Ford is promoted to Vice President of Enterprise Management. Ford most recently served as Senior Director, Customer Support & Services/Customer Relations (CS&S/CR) in the Technology Department. In her new role, Ford will be responsible for managing the business relationships and integration of Business and Technology strategy for Finance, People & Communications, Supply Chain, Internal Audit, and Corporate Strategy. Ford joined Southwest Airlines in 2017 as Director of CS&S/CR and Customer. Prior to joining Southwest, Ford worked in both Management and Technology Consulting at Accenture for over 18 years. Ford is a graduate of Baylor University. Marty Garza is promoted to Vice President of Operations Technology. Garza most recently served as Senior Director, Aircraft Operations in the Technology Department. In his new role, Garza will be responsible for delivering high-value business capabilities to the Operation while maintaining the overall health of the carrier’s operational Technology platforms. Garza joined Southwest Airlines in 1998 as part of the Technology Department’s inaugural college hire program and spent over a decade as a Software Engineer developing custom solutions for the Finance department. In 2012, Garza was promoted to Leadership where he played a significant role in delivering several strategic initiatives including the launch of international service, and the replacement of the Company’s legacy reservation system, among others. He holds a Bachelor of Administration in Finance degree from Southern Methodist University.
Following the successful relaunch of Transavia’s services to Paris in October, yesterday saw Budapest Airport once again be linked to Lyon by the Air France-KLM group airline. Operating a seasonal service, the low-cost carrier will offer twice-weekly flights to France’s third largest city between 16 December 2021 and 2 January 2022 – perfect for the French traveler wishing to visit the famous Budapest Christmas markets or those from Hungary with a desire to see the French Alps during the winter season. Balázs Bogáts, Head of Airline Development, Budapest Airport, says: “We are very happy to welcome further connections to vital European cities on our route map. Transavia’s link to Lyon is another step towards our goal of reconnection and redevelopment, our ambition to once again offer a rich variety of destinations to our customers.” “We are delighted to be able to offer the possibility for the Lyoneses to discover the Hungarian capital. This service will also allow Hungarian travelers to enjoy their Christmas vacations in Lyon and its region while at the same time benefit from a quality low-cost offer,“ Nicolas Hénin, CCO, Transavia France. Transavia Airlines C.V., trading as Transavia and formerly branded as transavia.com, is a Dutch low-cost airline and a wholly owned subsidiary of KLM and therefore part of the Air France–KLM group. Its main base is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and it has other bases at Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Eindhoven Airport.
The WestJet Group expressed strong opposition to the travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada. The targeted advice is not based on science and data and significantly undermines aviation’s proven safety record in response to COVID-19. These measures are a setback in Canada’s progress and its successful transition from relying on blanket advisories and policies. “Air travel is the most tested and protected consumer activity in Canada, every person traveling internationally is tested on average twice throughout their travel journey,” said Harry Taylor, WestJet President and CEO. “As the only fully-vaccinated air travel sector in the world, WestJet is calling on the government to publicly share the travel related COVID-19 data that has been used to re-impose the advisory and advice targeted towards fully-vaccinated Canadians and the travel and tourism industry.” International travel standards and policies should be harmonized, yet Canada’s travel measures remain firmly out of step with border policies enacted across the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. New advisory contradicts WHO’s guidance that states blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of COVID-19 and adversely affect lives and livelihoods. The Government of Canada should continue to focus on vaccinations and testing, as the pathway for safe and fully vaccinated international air travel must be preserved. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we have safely flown more than seven million guests and air travel has been commended for its commitment to safety. Fully vaccinated Canadians should not be singled-out for choosing to take part in a safe activity,” continued Taylor. “Travel bans, restrictions and blanket advisories are devastating to the continued economic recovery of our country and place tens of thousands of recently recalled Canadian travel and tourism jobs at risk. We are very concerned the announcement will create unnecessary disruption and chaos in advance of the holiday travel season.” Since the onset of the pandemic, The WestJet Group has responded to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all. The airline has implemented its own measures in response to the pandemic including a zero-tolerance mask policy, enhancing health and safety measures, suspending sun flights and implementing the airline’s mandatory vaccination policy for employees and air travelers.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd (AVIC) released the latest market outlook today, forecasting that China’s general aircraft fleet will reach 45,000 by 2040. According to AVIC report, China‘s general aviation market is maintaining a healthy growth. The country’s general aviation fleet will include 10,000 civil helicopters and the others will be fixed-wing general aircraft, said the China Market Outlook for General Aircraft (2021-2040) released by the Aviation Industry Development Research Center of China under the AVIC, the country’s leading aircraft maker. Demands from pilot training, entertainment and low-altitude tourism will sustain the Chinese general aviation market to grow. Light helicopter and ultralight helicopters are forecast to be the most popular market segments in the Chinese civil helicopter market, accounting for 76.9 percent of China‘s civil helicopter fleet, said the AVIC market outlook. Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd (AVIC), a state-owned Chinese group of aerospace companies based in Beijing, is a major player on the global market. With its over 100 branches and 27 subsidiaries, AVIC is a Fortune 500 company and one of China‘s ten largest industrial corporations.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced today that British tourists will be banned from entering France in an attempt to slow the spread of the more contagious Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus. Paris has said that applying tougher rules on people traveling from the United Kingdom would give France more time to prepare for the forthcoming new wave of COVID-19 infections. France will prohibit all travel from the UK if there is a compelling reason for it, Paris said in a statement. Travel for the purpose of tourism and business from the UK to France will be banned for now. “We are going to put in place more drastic controls at the border with the UK,” Attal said in an interview with French BFMTV. New restrictions, to be unveiled by the prime minister’s office later on Thursday, will include reducing the age of a valid PCR test from 48 hours to 24 hours for those arriving from the UK. The change will come into force from Saturday regardless of vaccination status. The move comes after Britain recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day on Wednesday, although it is worth noting that testing capacity was greatly reduced during the first wave of the virus in 2020. Increasing COVID-19 cases in the UK have been partially blamed on the arrival of the Omicron variant, which is already rampant in Britain. British Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed on Thursday that haulers would be exempt from the French restrictions.
According to Chinese civil aviation industry’s official data, released on Wednesday, China‘s airline sector has experienced another significant slump in transport volume in November, 2021. Barely 21.53 million passenger trips were made by air in November of 2021, marking an astonishing decrease of 51.5 percent from a year ago, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced at a press conference today. The number of air trips last November amounts to only about 40.6 percent of that recorded in the same period in 2019, said the Chinese civil aviation regulator. According to CAAC data, the volume of mail and cargo transported by air carriers stood at about 606,000 tons in November, 2021 – down 10.2 percent year on year. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), formerly the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, is the aviation authority under the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China. It oversees civil aviation and investigates aviation accidents and incidents. As the aviation authority responsible for China, it concludes civil aviation agreements with other aviation authorities, including those of the Special administrative regions of China which are categorized as “special domestic”. It directly operated its own airline, China’s aviation monopoly, until 1988. The agency is headquartered in Dongcheng District, Beijing. The CAAC does not share the responsibility of managing China’s airspace with the Central Military Commission under the regulations in the Civil Aviation Law of the People’s Republic of China.
Qatar Airways marks a new milestone by resuming its pre-pandemic in-flight dining experience on its London and Paris routes, once again offering the full personalized services that the airline is renowned for around the world. Passengers in First and Business Class will no longer be offered meals on a serving tray, instead the food service will follow the fine-dining etiquette, where the silverware and chinaware will be presented elegantly on crisp white linen complete with candle light; the perfect setting at 40,000 feet. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The past year and a half has been a challenging period for the aviation industry; however, we grew stronger and became more resilient as time went by. Today, we are happy to mark a new chapter that brings us a step closer to the recovery of the pandemic. Passengers will now be able to further enjoy Qatar Airways’ world-renowned in-flight services onboard our flights between Doha, London and Paris with more destinations to follow.” Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar Airways has applied rigorous additional health and safety measures on board its flights in an effort to minimize contact between crew and passengers. In Economy Class service, meals and cutlery were all served sealed as usual. First and Business Class meals were served covered on a tray instead of a table layup, and the cutlery roll was offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service. Qatar Airways also introduced single-use menu cards and sealed refreshing wipes during this time. All social areas including the lounge onboard the aircraft were closed adhering to social distancing measures, but will now reopen for premium passengers to access. With a continued increase in passenger demand and flight capacity across the global network, Qatar Airways currently operates five daily flights to London Heathrow (LHR) and three daily flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft. The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to change their travel dates or destination as required.
Pan Am Flight Academy announced the expansion of their facilities to a new, and innovative facility located in the heart of Miami. Though Pan Am Academy will continue operations in its original location, adjacent to Miami International Airport, they are expected to move the operations team and eight (8) simulators to the new 67,654 SQFT, one story, state of the art facility in the first quarter of 2022. The 22 simulator bays in the new facility, coupled with Pan Am’s existing bays will increase total simulator bay capacity to 36 full flight simulators. Pan Am currently operates 20 simulators between its three Miami locations. Pan Am Flight Academy has operated in Miami since 1980 and today is one of the leading providers of aviation training for national and international airlines and aviation professionals. “This is one of many of our major investments in the company”, said Jeff Portanova, President of Pan Am Flight Academy. “The new facility translates into a high-quality service for our clients and operations team, an expansion of our growing business and an investment in cutting edge technology for all of our equipment and programs,” Portanova added. This year, 2021, has been a busy one for Pan Am Flight Academy. In March, it announced the upgrade of a second Boeing – 777, Level D, full motion flight simulator to embody the popular B777-200ER. Another announcement made mid-year was the acquisition of two additional B767-200 simulators, a B757-200 full flight simulator and an A757 flight training device. “This new facility is sure to complement and support our clients’ needs. We look forward to this new chapter in Pan Am´s history,” Portanova concluded. Pan Am Flight Academy is a commercial aviation training organization. As the only surviving division of the original Pan American World Airways, Pan Am Flight Academy can trace its instruction heritage to the earliest days of airline flight training. In 1980 Pan Am American World Airways opened its Flight Academy in Miami, Florida and is still the base of operations.
Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said that today’s double bombing at the airport in the city of Cucuta was a terrorist attack. Two police officers were killed in two explosions that struck Camilo Daza International Airport, in the capital of the northeastern Norte de Santander Department, on Tuesday morning. The first explosion happened early in the day as the alleged perpetrator tried to get the bomb onto the airport grounds by climbing over a fence. The device is believed to have detonated prematurely, killing the suspect. “In the morning, at 05:45 local time (13:45 local time) a man carrying an explosive device tried to get through the airport’s gate. At that moment, the bomb went off. The man died. He was a bandit, who had terrorist intent against one of the airport’s facilities,” Colombia’s Defence Minister Diego Molano said on the radio. The second device went off an hour later when the bomb squad arrived on site and started searching the area. It was reportedly hidden in a bag, with the explosion killing two officers. Numerous flights have been suspended after two explosions. “We reject the cowardly terrorist attack that occurred in the city of Cucuta,” Duque wrote on Twitter, adding that the military and police were doing everything to track down those responsible.
United Airlines and Virgin Australia Group announced today a new partnership that will enhance the travel experience between Australia and the Americas. This partnership will add more benefits for both MileagePlus and Velocity Frequent Flyer members as well as access to more one-stop connections to cities across the United States, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. The agreement, which is subject to government approval, is set to roll out starting in early 2022. Australia has always been a key part of United’s network as demonstrated by United Airlines being the only carrier to maintain passenger service between the U.S. and Australia throughout the pandemic. In addition, United offers more flights to Australia than any other U.S. carrier and now extends its presence by adding Virgin Australia Group’s comprehensive network. “The United States and Australia share a special bond and I’m especially proud that United was the only airline to maintain a vital link between these two countries throughout the pandemic,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “Looking ahead, Virgin Australia is the perfect partner for United. Our partnership provides considerable commercial value for both airlines and a shared commitment to offer the best travel experience for our customers.” United Airlines currently offers daily direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, while other services including flights from Houston and direct services to Melbourne are expected to resume later in 2022. Under this new partnership, United’s customers will now have access to top Australian destinations including Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
This was the week (6 – 9 December) that ILTM, the world’s leading luxury travel event portfolio celebrated the 20th edition of ILTM Cannes. The global flagship event for the ILTM Portfolio brought together luxury travel professionals from 73 countries with over 1300 luxury travel suppliers from across the world for a week of dedicated one-to-one meetings – over 50,000 in total – as well as an extensive program of networking events. With high level safety precautions in place, the event was a successful live reunion for industry professionals from around the world, as well as catalyst for new business connections in luxury travel. ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore commented the success of the week’s events:“We are so proud of the role ILTM 2021 has played in giving the global luxury travel industry the live event so desperately needed. The love of travel is still as real as it ever was – so many reunions, so many introductions and so many real human connections with so much emotion.” Over 1300 luxury travel brands, experiences, destinations, and suppliers enjoyed a week of building and renewing connections with international travel planners, curators and agencies once again, taking full benefit of the pre-scheduled, one-to-one appointments. ILTM brings together the full breadth of luxury travel experiences from hidden gems to industry’s most celebrated and established brands – a catalyst for professionals and brands to form and renew rewarding relationships and discover new business opportunities. Jack Ezon, Founder of Embark Beyond led the praises: “This has been THE most impactful ILTM since its creation – a true impetus for our whole industry to forge forward and move together towards continued success.” Haisley Smith of InterNova Travel Group also commented: “This week at ILTM has allowed us to reconnect with the world – each appointment, working lunch and dinner has been defined by a feeling of pure joy so huge kudos to ILTM for the planning and logistics to ensure that everyone felt safe and secure throughout.”
The government of Russian Federation announced that foreigner visitors from nine African countries and Hong Kong are completely banned from entering Russia due to the spread of the COVID-9 virus. A decree announcing new travel restrictions, was signed by Russian Prime Minister and published today. New Russian government’s ruling effectively cancels all earlier exceptions for the diplomatic passport holders, travelers on business visa, and some other categories of visitors. According to the decree, the countries effected are “Botswana, Zimbabwe, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Eswatini, the Republic of South Africa.” Earlier, Russia’s anti-coronavirus crisis center reported that the entry of foreigners residing in Hong Kong or in some African countries would be ‘restricted’ due to the spread of the new strain of the infection. On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant identified in South Africa as a “Variant of Concern” and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. In its statement, the WHO noted that “this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.” The epicenter of the spread of the Omicron strain is southern Africa. The highest number of those infected with it has been detected in South Africa. The new strain has since been recorded in over 50 countries.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Association of South African Travel Agencies (ASATA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) and World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA), collectively representing the hundreds of thousands of people who work at travel agencies and related businesses around the world, call on government leaders globally to expedite the lifting of all country- and region-specific travel bans. When elected officials make public policy decisions in the interest of public health, those governments have an obligation to provide financial resources to those industries and individuals most affected by their decisions. Closing borders and implementing new restrictions affects untold millions of employees in the travel and tourism industry. It also is putting already vulnerable businesses at further risk from ever recovering, while government revenues continue to be eroded due to the loss of economic activity from the industry, which represents one in every ten jobs globally according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Recent and more stringent border closures have severely impacted already-complex international travel. We collectively call on global government leaders to follow the best available science when determining border measures, including testing and prohibitions. Many countries follow strong biosecurity protocols, including masking, social distancing, and vaccination requirements. The addition of new border measures has significant economic impacts on travel and tourism businesses that may not add additional community protection. It is critical that government policy is guided by science, not political pressure or the desire to be seen as “doing something” since these measures have significant, sometimes irreversible impact on businesses and jobs. We implore governments to take responsibility for their actions by sustaining travel reliant businesses until such time as they lift restrictions and normal travel patterns re-emerge. Thus far, government responses to this economic factor have been uneven at best. We highlight the fact that, in response to its Covid restrictions Canada has pledged support for travel-reliant businesses in that country through May of 2022, and urge other global leaders to follow their lead. The World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks: “In general, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions…Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact.” This is line with the most recent European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) authoritative and science-based analysis, confirming that travel restrictions generally have no effective impact on the spread of the virus in Europe.
The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority issued an air operator’s certificate (AOC) to Norse Atlantic Airways. The new airline is on track to start transatlantic flights in spring 2022. “We would like to thank Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority for a constructive and professional process. We are now one important step closer to launching our attractive and affordable flights between Europe and the U.S. in spring next year,” said CEO and founder Bjørn Tore Larsen of Norse. “We’ve had a good and constructive dialogue with Norse throughout the process of issuing a Norwegian AOC. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to a continued fruitful relationship going forward,” said Director General of the Civil Aviation Authorities of Norway, Lars E. de Lange Kobberstad. An AOC is the approval granted by a national aviation authority to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public. “I would also like to commend my colleagues at Norse for their outstanding efforts getting the important AOC in place,” Bjørn Tore Larsen added. Norse plans to start commercial operation in spring 2022 and the first flights will depart from Oslo to selected cities in the U.S. Norse Atlantic Airways is a new airline that will offer affordable fares on long-haul flights, primarily between Europe and the United States. The company was founded by CEO and major shareholder Bjørn Tore Larsen in March 2021. Norse has a fleet of 15 modern, fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly Boeing 787 Dreamliners that will serve destinations including New York, Florida, Paris, London and Oslo, among others. First flights are expected to take off in spring 2022.
Marisa Fotieo, a teacher from Chicago, IL, was on her way to Europe for a vacation when she suddenly developed a sore throat midflight somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, aboard Icelandair plane. Fotieo, who brought several COVID-19 rapid testing kits with her on the flight, went to the plane’s lavatory and used one of them, only to find out that she was COVID-19-positive. The woman immediately notified the flight attendant of her conditions, but there weren’t enough empty seats on the plane to properly isolate her. Fotieo, who feared she might infect other passengers then asked if she could “just stay in the bathroom for the rest of the flight.” She had to self-isolate in an airplane’s lavatory for four hours, until the aircraft landed in Reykjavik Airport. “I can’t believe I spent four hours in that bathroom, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” the woman said. After the Icelandair flight landed in Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik, the woman was placed in the Red Cross Humanitarian Hotel, with her ten-day quarantine currently in progress. However, she said she had been feeling well and planned to leave in a few days. Fotieo’s father and brother, who were on the same Icelandair flight, have both tested negative for the virus and could continue their journey to Switzerland.
According to the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism (ICT), Costa Rica received 151,701 stopovers in November 2021, 51.5% more than the 100,102 stopovers received in October 2021. Costa Rica closed its borders to international arrivals as of March 19th, 2020, and reopened to international tourists arriving by air as of November 2020. It reopened its land borders in April 2021. Costa Rica consequently received 37,573 stopovers in November 2020. The 151,701 stopovers received in November 2021 were 61.8% of the 245,643 stopovers received in November 2019. Costa Rica received 86,348 stopovers from the USA in November, 56.9% of the overall total, and 10,434 stopovers from Central America. The volume of stopovers increased by 20.6% in the first eleven months of 2021, growing from 936,938 stopovers in the first eleven months of 2020 to 1,130,377 stopovers in the first eleven months of 2021. The 1,130,377 stopover visitors were 40.2% of the 2,812,086 stopovers received in the first eleven months of 2019. The number of stopovers from the USA increased by 91.9% in the first eleven months of 2021, from 389,115 stopovers in 2020 to 746,575 in 2021 while the number from Central America declined by 67.2%, falling from 195,717 in the first eleven months of 2020 to 64,140 in the same eleven months of 2021. The share of visitors from the USA grew from 41.5% in the first eleven months of 2020 to 66.0% in the first eleven months of 2021.
Stuttgart Airport is to achieve its 2050 climate target ten years earlier. This was decided by the management and supervisory board of Stuttgart Airport. The state airport plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to an absolute minimum by 2040 in order to contribute to achieving the state’s climate targets. To reach the ambitious new goal, the airport has adapted its original Climate and Energy Master Plan 2050. The required climate actions must now be implemented much quicker to reach so-called net greenhouse gas neutrality as early as 2040. Winfried Hermann, Minister of Transport of the State of Baden-Württemberg and chairman of Stuttgart Airport’s supervisory board: ‘With the fairport strategy, the airport has already been taking responsibility for climate protection for many years and is consistently implementing the strategy, for example by electrifying the apron fleet or through landing fees. In its coalition agreement, the state government declared that it wants to develop Stuttgart Airport into Germany’s first climate-neutral airport – the STRzero. We are working together on this with great commitment.’ Walter Schoefer, spokesman of Stuttgart Airport’s management board: ‘Our contribution to the energy transition should be substantial and really make a difference. We will therefore avoid or reduce almost all our emissions. Only the small remainder is to be brought to net zero through carbon neutralization.’ The holistic carbon concept covers the areas of energy efficiency and generation, smart grids, as well as mobility and transport. According to the calculations, the most important lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving the ambitious climate target is to consistently upgrade the energy performance of operational buildings through refurbishments. This includes the airport terminals in particular. Some of them are over 30 years old. Among other actions, Stuttgart Airport plans to expand solar energy plants on the entire airport campus and to install further charging infrastructure. In comparison to total emissions of air traffic, airport operations are only responsible for a small share. For this reason, Stuttgart Airport is supporting the transformation process of air traffic toward zero emission flights, for instance through research funding.
Ethiopian Airlines announced on Monday that it is finally bringing troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft back to service after the 2019 crash that killed 157 people. Boeing’s best-selling, single-aisle 737 MAX airplane was grounded worldwide after two separate crashes just six months apart, which killed 346 people. In 2019, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX bound for Kenya, crashed six minutes after takeoff from the capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 passengers and crew. It was the second Boeing 737 MAX disaster in six months, after a Lion Air jet crashed in October 2018 in Indonesia, killing 189 people. Investigators identified faults in the sensors and new flight control software that had not been explained to pilots. In today’s statement, the airline said that it was satisfied with the aircraft’s safety, and it is planning to resume flying Boeing 737 MAX planes in February of next year. “Safety is our topmost priority… and it guides every decision we make and all actions we take,” Ethiopian Airlines‘ chairman, Tewolde Gebremariam, said in a statement. “We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous rectification process… our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet,” he added. Boeing 737 MAX returned to service in late 2020, with airlines around the world taking deliveries of the aircraft.
Blaming it on the staff shortages caused by the lightning spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron strain, global airlines have canceled over 4,500 domestic and international flights worldwide during the peak Christmas weekend. US airports accounted for more than a quarter of all flight cancelations, with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines being among the worst hit. According to the latest global data, 2,380 flights were called and another 11,163 delayed globally worldwide on Christmas Eve. There were 2,388 cancelations and 2,579 delays as of the Christmas Day’ afternoon. Another 747 flights scheduled for Sunday have been canceled as well. The majority of the cancelations came from five airlines, with China Eastern forced to call off more than 1,200 journeys over the weekend. Meanwhile, Air China, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue, and Lion Air have reported large numbers of canceled flights. There were 688 flights canceled across the US on Friday, and another 980 have been canceled so far over the peak travel weekend. German carrier Lufthansa said on Friday that it was canceling 12 transatlantic flights over the holiday period due to a “massive rise” in pilots calling in sick, and despite arranging for a “large buffer” of additional staff for the period. The last-minute travel chaos added to the frustration for passengers looking to celebrate with their families over the holidays after pandemic precautions severely impacted Christmas in 2020. According to figures released by the American Automobile Association earlier this month, airlines were expected to see an 184% increase in traffic between December 23 and January 2 from 2020. The US Transportation Security Administration expected to screen nearly 30 million people between December 20 and January 3.
The White House announced today that the United States will lift its travel restrictions on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi that were imposed last month following the discovery of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant. Last Tuesday, President Biden said he was “considering reversing” the travel restrictions, telling reporters “I’m going to talk with my team in the next couple of days.” The restrictions will be lifted on New Year’s Eve. US travel ban that effectively banned almost all non-U.S. citizens, who had recently been in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, was heavily criticized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and southern African leaders as ineffective and severely damaging to local economies. Other countries, including the UK, imposed similar travel bans on southern African countries in the wake of the first detection of the Omicron strain. The United Kingdom lifted its travel restrictions last week, due to community transmission of the new COVID-19 variant within the country. Senior US administration official said that the temporary travel ban “served its purpose,” adding that “it bought time to understand the science, it gave time to analyze the variant.” According to the White House spokesman Kevin Munoz, the CDC ultimately recommended lifting the restrictions because of progress US health experts have made in understanding the Omicron strain, and because of how much the new COVID-19 variant has spread across the world. Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus is now also spreading rapidly throughout the United States. While breakthrough infections among vaccinated people have become common, they have rarely led to severe illness or hospitalization, but a huge majority of those being hospitalized are unvaccinated. The lightning-fast spread of the new COVID-19 strain, along with more people gathering indoors during winter, has led to a major infection spike. The seven-day rolling average for US COVID-19 cases climbed past 160,000 this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s more than double the average in late November.
Turkish authorities announced that they have detained a Lebanon-based US diplomat for allegedly selling a passport to a Syrian national who then attempted to use it to board a plane from Turkey to Germany. The Istanbul Security Directorate issued a statement today, confirming the arrest of an American who is an employee of the US Consulate in Lebanon’s capital Beirut. The arrest was made after an incident at Istanbul Airport when a Syrian national tried to board a plane to Germany using someone else’s passport. The passport belonged to a US diplomat based in Beirut, Lebanon. The police noted in their statement that security camera footage showed the American meeting with the Syrian national in the airport and exchanging clothes. It is believed the passport was handed over during the meeting. Police searched the American and found $10,000 in an envelope and a passport in his name, according to the security directorate statement. He was remanded in custody while the Syrian national, who is facing charges of forgery, was released pending trial. While foreign diplomats frequently have immunity from prosecution in the country they are posted to, the American was accredited as a diplomat in Lebanon, not Turkey, and therefore may face punishment.
South African Airways (SAA) has informed travel advisors in the U.S. and Canada that the airline is continuing to process ticket refunds through the Refund Accounting Department in their North America Regional Office for customers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To make the process more efficient, travel advisors have been asked to forward any refund requests for wholly unused or partially used tickets issued in the USA via email to: [email protected] or [email protected] for review or processing. For SAA tickets issued in Canada or Mexico, the refund can be processed through the BSP Link and will be reviewed and processed by SAA. If a travel advisor or consumer has previously submitted a ticket refund to SAA it is not necessary to resend the request, as it has been received and will be reviewed by the Refund Accounting Department, as soon as possible. “Due to the volume of refund requests that have been received over the past 18 months, our staff is working diligently to review and process these requests in a timely manner,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president for South African Airways in North America. “Throughout the business rescue process, our upmost desire is to continue our commitment to provide duty of care to our valued customers, whose travel plans were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of SAA flights. We extend our sincere apologies to our valued travel advisors and customers for the delay and inconvenience in handling ticket refunds and greatly appreciate their patience and understanding as we worked through the process during our business rescue,” added Neuman. South African Airways has offered one of the airline industry’s most generous programs for rebooking travel that was impacted by cancelled flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SAA Flexible Travel Policy allows customers to apply the value of their original ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for travel on SAA issued by March 31, 2023. If the original traveler no longer wishes to travel, they can apply for a refund or designate an alternative traveler to utilize the ticket for future travel.
Qatar Airways released the following statement today regarding issuing legal proceedings against Airbus in the Technology and Construction Division of The High Court in London: “Qatar Airways has today issued legal proceedings against Airbus in the Technology and Construction division of the High Court in London. We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft. Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts. Qatar Airways currently have 21 A350 aircraft grounded by the condition and the legal proceedings have been commenced to ensure that Airbus will now address our legitimate concerns without further delay. We strongly believe that Airbus must undertake a thorough investigation of this condition to conclusively establish its full root cause. Without a proper understanding of the root cause of the condition, it is not possible for Qatar Airways to establish whether any proposed repair solution will rectify the underlying condition. Qatar Airways number one priority remains the safety of its passengers and crew.”
Airbus has firmed up an order for the purchase of four A350F freighter aircraft with the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics. This order will bring CMA CGM’s total Airbus fleet to nine aircraft, including four A330-200F and one A330-200 to be converted into a freighter. The A350F is based on the world’s most modern long-range leader, the A350. The aircraft features a large main deck cargo door and a fuselage length optimized for cargo operations. Over 70% of the airframe is made of advanced materials resulting in a 30t lighter take-off weight, generating an at least 20% lower fuel burn over its current closest competitor. With a 109t payload capability (+3t payload/ 11% more volume than its competition), the A350F serves all cargo markets (Express, general cargo, special cargo…) and is in the large freighter category the only new generation freighter aircraft ready for the enhanced 2027 ICAO CO₂ emissions standards. Airbus SE is a European multinational aerospace corporation. Airbus designs, manufactures and sells civil and military aerospace products worldwide and manufactures aircraft in Europe and various countries outside Europe.
According to Boeing’s chief engineer, Greg Hyslop, American airspace giant will be moving its production to the virtual reality realm within next two years. Boeing’s “factory of the future” will include immersive 3D engineering designs, interactive robots and mechanics scattered worldwide but linked by HoloLens headsets. Boeing will build and link virtual 3D “digital twin” replicas of its new aircraft and the production system in order to run simulations. A “digital thread” will incorporate all information about the aircraft from the start, including airline requirements, parts specifications and certification documents. Boeing plans to invest $15 billion into its production evolution. “It’s about strengthening engineering. We are talking about changing the way we work across the entire company,” Hyslop said. According to chief engineer, over 70% of quality issues at Boeing can be traced back to design issues and dumping aging paper-based practices could be the basis of positive change. “You will get speed, you will get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when issues occur,” Hyslop said. Boeing expects a new aircraft based on the renovated production approach to hit the market in four to five years. “When the quality from the supply base is better, when the airplane build goes together more smoothly, when you minimize rework, the financial performance will follow from that,” the engineer added. Although some critics are suspicious about Boeing’s potential digital revolution, insiders say it is high time for the company to step up efforts to improve quality and safety after its recent misfortunes. Earlier this month, the aircraft manufacturer appeared to have recovered its major markets after the 737 MAX crisis, which saw the company’s most popular plane universally banned from taking to the skies after two deadly accidents in late 2018 and early 2019. In a big win for the company, China cleared Boeing 737 MAX planes to return to flying, with technical upgrades. The EU did the same earlier this year, while the US, Brazil, Panama and Mexico greenlighted the aircraft in late 2020. Yet, amid the crisis, many airlines switched to aircraft from Boeing’s major rival Airbus, with some still uneager to welcome Boeing back. Most recently, Australian national airline Qantas Airways picked Airbus as its preferred supplier to replace its domestic – largely Boeing – fleet.
A total of 79 deals (mergers & acquisitions (M&A), private equity, and venture financing) were announced in the global travel and tourism sector during November, which is an increase of 9.7% over the 72 deals announced in October. Deal activity in the travel and tourism sector further improved in November following the trend of previous months and this is the third consecutive month of growth in deal activity in the sector. However, the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 virus may dent deal-making sentiments in the coming months. Deal activity increased in several key markets such as the US, the UK, India and China during November compared to the previous month. However, markets such as Australia, Japan and South Korea witnessed decline in deal activity. The announcement of M&A deals increased by 30% during November compared to the previous month. However, venture financing and private equity deals volume decreased by 9.5% and 27.3%, respectively.
Major changes in the top management of the Lufthansa Group were announced today. Jens Ritter, currently a Member of the Executive Board and COO of Eurowings, will become the new CEO of Lufthansa Airlines on 1 April 2022 and will succeed Klaus Froese. Klaus Froese is handing over his post after more than six years on the Executive Board of Lufthansa Airlines, most recently as CEO. Going forward, he will fly for Lufthansa as a captain, piloting the new Boeing 787 that arrives next year. Jens Ritter (48) started his flying career in 2000 after studying aerospace and training as an Airbus A320 pilot with Lufthansa. In 2008, he switched to the Airbus A330/340 as a long-haul pilot. In 2014, he was trained as a captain on the Airbus A320. Jens Ritter took on his first management role in 2005 in the ‘A380 Onboard IT’ project. Later, he held various management positions. In 2014, he took over as Head of Operations Efficiency and Strategy at Lufthansa. In parallel, he led a project for the standardization of Group-wide flight operations processes in Lufthansa Group. Between 2016 and 2020, Jens Ritter was responsible for the operations of Austrian Airlines as Accountable Manager. As Chief Operating Officer (COO), he was part of the extended Executive Board of Austrian Airlines. He has been Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board at Eurowings since April 2021. Annette Mann, currently Head of Corporate Responsibility at Lufthansa Group, will become the new CEO of Austrian Airlines as of 1 March 2022. Annette Mann succeeds Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech, who is leaving the company with immediate effect at his own request. Dietmar Focke, currently Head of Engine Services at Lufthansa Technik, is moving to the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo and will be responsible for Operations and Human Resources as of 1 March 2022. He succeeds Harald Gloy, who is leaving the company at his own request. Dr. Jörg Beißel, Head of Corporate Controlling at the Lufthansa Group, will assume the position of CFO of Lufthansa Airlines as of 1 April 2022. He succeeds Patrick Staudacher, who will not extend his contract at Lufthansa at his own request and will leave the company at the end of April. Frank Bauer, currently a Member of the Executive Board at Eurowings and responsible for Finance and HR, will be responsible for the corporate controlling of Lufthansa Group as of 1 April 2022. The areas of Human Resources and Finance on the Eurowings Executive Board will be taken over by Kai Duve as of 1 February 2022. Kai Duve is currently head of the Frankfurt cabin crews division of Lufthansa Airlines. Benedikt Schneider, currently responsible for the Executive Office of the Chief Human Resources and Legal Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG will succeed Kai Duve, also as of 1 February 2022. Wilken Bormann, currently Head of Lufthansa Group Finance, will assume responsibility for Finance and Human Resources* on the LSG Group Executive Board as of 1 March 2022. He succeeds Dr. Kristin Neumann, who is leaving the company at her own request at the end of February. “Filling these top management positions is another important step in our transformation. We are continuing on our course with undiminished speed and are strengthening our position among the leading global airline groups. I am pleased that we were able to fill all positions from within Lufthansa Group – it confirms our successful personnel and leadership development,” said Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Swoop this week launched two new inaugural flights from Edmonton International Airport with the start of nonstop service to Palm Springs, California today and to Orlando (Sanford), Florida on December 17. The airline’s twice weekly non-stop service to Palm Springs operates on Mondays and Thursdays, while flights between Edmonton and Orlando (Sanford) will operate weekly on Fridays. In light of the Level 3 travel advisory being re-issued by the Government of Canada, Swoop, as part of the WestJet Group, is advocating for the preservation of the measures in place for fully vaccinated international air travel. “Since the onset of the pandemic, air travel has become the most tested and protected consumer activity in Canada,” said Charles Duncan, President of Swoop. “With travelers being tested an average of twice throughout their international journey and as the only fully-vaccinated air travel sector in the world, we believe that vaccinations and testing are the right path forward for safe international air travel.” Throughout the pandemic, Swoop has safely flown more than 800,000 travelers, maintaining critical access to affordable air travel for Canadians and prioritizing safety above all with a zero-tolerance mask policy and mandatory vaccinations requirements for both employees and air travelers.
Qatar Airways announced the return of its nonstop flights between Doha, Qatar and Sofia Airport (SOF) in Bulgaria, effective 16 December 2021. This flight resumption provides greater choice and seamless connectivity for Bulgarians and international travelers via Hamad International Airport (HIA). The nonstop service is operated by Qatar Airways’ Airbus A320 featuring 12 seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The resumption of Qatar Airways’ non-stop flights between Doha and Sofia is a testament to both strong demand and our deep commitment to Bulgaria, as we continue to celebrate the airline’s 10-year anniversary of proudly serving the country. These nonstop flights provide Bulgarians with a superior choice to experience the more than 140 destinations that we fly to around the world via the World’s Best Airport, Hamad International Airport. Whether visiting the Middle East for business or enjoying a vacation in the Maldives, Seychelles or Tanzania, our valued Bulgarian passengers can rely on Qatar Airways to deliver an unforgettable five-star travel experience with the highest possible level of health and safety standards.” “At the same time, Qatar Airways’ reinstated nonstop flights will make it even easier for travelers from around the world to visit Bulgaria – a truly unique country that has something to offer for everyone. With Qatar Airways’ seamless connectivity, our passengers can more readily experience Bulgaria’s breathtaking nature, ancient culture, healing mineral water springs, stunning ski slopes and the magnificent Black Sea shore.” Mr. Rossen Dimitrov, Chief Officer Customer Experience for Qatar Airways, said: “Bulgarians and international travelers alike can expect nothing but the best when they travel on Qatar Airways’ reinstated non-stop flights between Doha and Sofia. Our industry-leading customer experience continues to be recognized as world-class for the excellence we deliver on each and every flight. The award-winning service that has earned Qatar Airways the accolade of Airline of the Year by Skytrax is delivered by a cosmopolitan flight and cabin crew, including Bulgarian nationals who have a strong tradition of serving the airline, and we look forward to welcoming our passengers onboard these newly reinstated non-stop flights.” Sofia Airport’s Chief Executive Officer Jesus Caballero said: “Today is a very special day because of the resumption of Qatar Airways’ non-stop flights between Sofia and Doha. This route to the Best Airport of the year, Hamad International Airport, will provide the opportunity for Sofia Airport passengers to travel to over 140 attractive destinations. Our partnership with Qatar Airways increases air connectivity for the benefit of business and tourism travelers. Visitors from Doha can explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Sofia and Bulgaria in four seasons with connecting flights from Sofia to the seaside cities of Varna and Bourgas.”
US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske announced, during a media briefing, that the agency has confiscated more guns at US airports in 2021 than in any other year since its creation two decades ago. “It’s an all-time high,” Pekoske noted. “The reason? I think there’s just more firearm carriage in the country. That’s the best answer I can give you.” The previous annual record high was 4,432 guns confiscated in 2019, but in 2021, TSA seized a whopping 5,674 firearms at US airport security checkpoints. The numbers peaked in November during a time of increased air travel ahead of Thanksgiving. TSA officers screened almost 21 million travelers during the 10-day holiday period and expect the next peak to come during Christmas. Airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston showed the highest detection rates. The majority of the confiscated firearms – about 85% – were loaded when they were found by officers. TSA rules allow guns to be carried only if they are unloaded and in checked baggage. People flouting firearms rules face hefty fines of as much as $13,910 in case of repeat violators and may be referred to local law enforcement for criminal prosecution, Pekoske warned. “It’s a pretty costly mistake to make,” TSA Administrator said. The TSA was created in response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks as part of the Department of Homeland Security. It is mostly concerned with providing security to airports and passenger airlines in the US, though other modes of transportation are also in its purview.
An American Airlines flight attendant is calling on the company’s top executive to make fundamental changes in how the airline handles cases involving employees who, like her, are sexually assaulted in the course of their employment at American. In her letter to American Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker, Kimberly Goesling also informed the airline of her intent to retire, following a flying career that spanned more than 30 years. Her lawsuit against the airline, including accusations of sexual assault and retaliation, is set for trial January 24. “I shouldn’t be the one who has to leave,” Ms. Goesling writes. “It should be you that left long before now, you and every other manager and individual at American who played a role in making the company’s response to my sexual assault yet another attack on me and my family.” In the letter, Ms. Goesling calls on the airline and its management to live up to its own standards, which encourage employees to speak up if they suspect illegal or unethical conduct. She also suggests the airline provide additional training for managers dealing with sexual assault victims so that they will no longer ask – as they did in her case – what the victim was wearing when attacked. “I think Kimberly feels an obligation to the women and men who will remain behind at the airline,” says attorney Robert Miller of Miller Bryant LLP, who represents Ms. Goesling. “Her hope is that, in writing this letter, she can create change at the airline because they certainly seem to need it.” Ms. Goesling’s lawsuit alleges she was attacked while in Germany by a celebrity chef whom American Airlines hired without conducting a background check. Evidence in the case shows the airline continued to employ him even after it learned of prior allegations against him for alcohol abuse and inappropriate sexual conduct. When she reported the attack to the airline, managers promised to pay Ms. Goesling for treatment and allow her time away from work shifts, as needed. They did neither, instead removing her from her coveted position on the airline’s recruitment team, according to the lawsuit.
The ACJ TwoTwenty launched just over a year ago, completed its first flight from the Mirabel airport on 14 December 2021. The production test flight was performed by Christophe Marchand and Adam Mason as Test Pilots and supported by Romuald Scheling as Flight Test Engineer. Pan Am Flight Academy new facility The aircraft will be delivered to Comlux in the coming weeks and then outfitted with a VVIP cabin by COMLUX in Indianapolis, USA after the delivery. Comlux has been selected as an exclusive outfitting partner for the first 15 ACJ TwoTwenty aircraft. ACJ220 or “TwoTwenty” is Airbus‘ private jet variant of the popular A220-100 airliner. The $81 million jet can house six living areas including a full shower and king-size bed while seating 18. The ACJ TwoTwenty is a new value proposition to business aviation buyers. The innovative solution combines intercontinental range enabling the aircraft to fly up to 5,650 nm/10,500 km (over 12 flight hours), unmatched personal space providing comfort for each passenger with 73m2/785 ft2 of floor space. The ACJ TwoTwenty is the only business jet featuring six wide VIP living areas, of around 12m2/130 ft2 each and is at a price point of a ULR bizjet. Equipped with a signature flexible cabin catalogue, this fully completed aircraft is ideal for private and business jet users. Some 200 Airbus corporate jets are in service worldwide, flying on every continent, including Antarctica.
Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital city of Accra announced that it will start fining the airlines $3,500 for every passenger who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. New rule at Ghana’s main international airport goes into effect today and follows the country’s health ministry’s directive to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all people entering the country. New regulations also come after the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced a €75 million ($85 million) investment loan to support Ghana’s battle against the pandemic. “Ghana has taken significant steps to manage the impact of COVID-19 and to unlock long-term investment,” EIB President Werner Hoyer said in a statement yesterday. Ghana broadened its vaccination program earlier this month ahead of a planned enforcement of the vaccine mandate for certain groups in January. This will cover government employees, health workers and students. Authorities also plan enlist more health workers to double the daily inoculation rate from the current 140,000. According to most recent data, only 5% of Ghana’s 30 million population have been vaccinated so far. Ghana’s health service reported last week that COVID-19 cases recorded at Kotoka International Airport accounted for about 60% of total infections in the country. Ghana is one of West Africa’s largest economies and a leading exporter of cocoa, gold and oil.
After joining the world’s leading airlines in The International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s resolution to achieve “Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050”, Pegasus Airlines has set its interim target for 2030 to reinforce its commitment. Managing its operations and activities under a ‘sustainable environment’ approach, Pegasus aims to reduce flight-related carbon (CO2) emissions per unit passenger kilometer (RPK) by 20% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. In a statement upon the announcement, Pegasus Airlines CEO Mehmet T. Nane said: “As Pegasus Airlines, we have set our interim target for 2030 to reinforce our commitment to achieving “Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050”. We are restructuring all our operations and activities in line with this goal. Within the framework of our fleet transformation strategy, we foresee that we will reduce our emissions by increasing the number of our more fuel-efficient NEO model aircraft. As we manage all our operations and activities under a ‘sustainable environment’ approach, we will continue to work tirelessly towards our goal to become the greenest airline in Turkey and surrounding region.” Pegasus’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions Pegasus Airlines, whose efforts focus on reducing emissions at source by implementing operational improvements such as operating a younger fleet, purchasing low-emission aircraft models, reducing aircraft weight and route optimization, publishes its carbon footprint on a monthly basis on the investor relations website, within the framework of its transparency principle. Pegasus’ medium-term objectives focus on continuing the transformation of its fleet and supporting carbon offsetting projects; and in the long term, using Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), new technology aircraft and carbon capture technologies.
Ready to start planning that long-awaited, much-deserved vacation or trip to Europe and destinations beyond? Alaska Airlines and our fellow oneworld member airlines – including American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia – are ready to take you there this summer with new nonstop international flights from our West Coast hubs and airports. British Airways announced today it will begin nonstop service from Portland to London Heathrow five days a week starting on June 3, 2022. The flight becomes the sixth British Airways service to London from a key Alaska market on the West Coast joining Los Angeles; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, California; and Seattle. Finnair announced last week its new nonstop flight between Seattle and Helsinki that’s scheduled for service three days a week beginning June 1. Finnair’s nonstop to Seattle joins its existing service to the Finnish capital from Los Angeles. Finnair will also increase its Los Angeles-Stockholm service to four nonstop flights a week beginning May 1. By summer 2022, Alaska’s oneworld partners will offer more than 100 nonstop flights every week from the West Coast to Europe including nonstop service to London, Madrid, Barcelona, Stockholm and Helsinki. Once in Europe, journeys can continue throughout the Continent and other parts of the world with convenient connections through our partners’ hubs. “By deepening our partnerships with oneworld alliance members, we’re providing exciting travel opportunities to Europe and beyond,” said Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances at Alaska Airlines. “Our guests will love the 100 weekly nonstop flights between our West Coast gateway airports and major European cities, enjoying oneworld benefits along the way.” “Since joining oneworld in March, Alaska Airlines has positioned oneworld as the leading alliance on the West Coast,” said Rob Gurney, oneworld CEO. “With the new oneworld member airline flights to Europe and extensive connections at Alaska’s hubs, the possibilities are endless for customers planning that long-awaited trip to Europe.” oneworld flights between the U.S. West Coast and Europe for summer 2022: oneworld PartnerCity PairFrequencyAmerican AirlinesLos Angeles – London Heathrow2x DailySeattle – London HeathrowDailyBritish AirwaysLos Angeles – London Heathrow2x DailySan Diego – London HeathrowDailySan Francisco – London Heathrow2x DailySan Jose, CA – London Heathrow5x WeeklySeattle – London Heathrow2x DailyPortland – London Heathrow5x WeeklyFinnairLos Angeles – Helsinki3x WeeklyLos Angeles – Stockholm4x WeeklySeattle – Helsinki3x WeeklyIberiaLos Angeles – Barcelona4x WeeklyLos Angeles – Madrid5x WeeklySan Francisco – Barcelona4x Weekly
Heathrow warns that new Government-imposed travel restrictions further dampen passenger confidence as demand down by 60% on pre-pandemic levels, despite the US reopening earlier in the month. High level of cancelations by business travelers concerned about being trapped overseas because of pre-departure testing shows the potential harm to the economy of travel restrictions. Heathrow urges Ministers to reduce restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so and to allow UK nationals from red list countries to isolate at home so that they can be reunited with loved ones for Christmas. If the Government signals that aviation could restart soon, that will give employers at Heathrow the confidence to start recruiting and training thousands of people from the local community ahead of next summer. Heathrow forecasts a slow start to 2022, finishing next year with around 45 million passengers – only just over half of the airport’s pre-pandemic levels. This aligns closely with the forecast published by the CAA in its Initial Proposals, and that of the airlines’ international trade body, IATA, which predicts global passenger numbers in 2022 will be about 60% of 2019 levels. Heathrow does not expect that international travel will recover to 2019 levels until at least all travel restrictions (including testing) are removed from all the markets that we serve, at both ends of the route, and there is no risk of new restrictions, such as quarantine, being imposed. This is likely to be several years away. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “By allowing Brits to isolate at home, Ministers can make sure they are reunited with their loved ones this Christmas. It would send a strong signal that restrictions on travel will be removed as soon as safely possible to give passengers the confidence to book for 2022, opening up thousands of new jobs for local people at Heathrow. Let’s reunite families for Christmas.”
US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that is has concluded its probe into the Blue Origin commercial spaceflight company. According to US federal regulator, it has found ‘no specific safety issues’ with Amazon mogul’s space firm and would not be taking any action against it. Last September, just two months after Bezos made a spaceflight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket system, numerous concerns were raised and made public by the Blue Origin staff. Twenty current and former employees of the Blue Origin accused the company of a slew of wrongdoings, from sexism in the workplace to environmental damage, to ignoring safety standards. “We have seen a pattern of decision-making that often prioritizes execution speed and cost reduction over the appropriate resourcing to ensure quality,” the disgruntled employees wrote, prompting the FAA to launch a review of the Blue Origin’s safety record. At the time of the complaint, Blue Origin said that it stood “by our safety record and believe that New Shepard is the safest space vehicle ever designed or built.” Furthermore, Blue Origin spokesperson said that Alexandra Abrams, the principal author of the complaint, had been fired two years ago “after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.”
Colombia is closing this year with new direct routes coming from various countries. Just during the first week of December, the Latin American country has received, for the first-time, new flights arriving from Chile to Medellín with JetSMART; from Panama City to Armenia (Quindío) with Copa Airlines and from Miami to San Andrés Islands through American Airlines. Currently, Colombia has over 1.000 weekly international air frequencies, with 24 airlines connecting with 25 countries. That means over 172,000 seats available per week! Canada is no exception. As a matter of fact, within the last few days, the air connectivity with this north American country has increased tremendously. On Dec. 2nd, Air Canada launched its new flight from Montreal to Bogotá and Avianca, Colombia’s main carrier, launched a new Toronto–Bogotá route on Dec 3rd. Air Canada has also been operating Toronto–Bogotá since July and Air Transat is coming back with its seasonal flight from Montreal and Toronto to Cartagena in the upcoming week. With these new flights, Colombia is, approximately, six hours away from Toronto and Montreal. These routes open a door of new opportunities for Canadians —and all international travelers for that matter— to discover the country’s uniqueness and its six tourist regions. Colombia is the most biodiverse country per square meter in the world and, having into account that the country is considerably smaller than the province of Quebec and just a bit larger than Ontario, this is relevant because it allows foreigners to experience various ecosystems in the span of a few days. In fact, you can go from snow peaked mountains to crystal clear Caribbean waters in a single day! For, Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, the agency in charge of promoting trade, investment, and tourism, it is only a matter of time before Colombia becomes Canada’s number one destination in South America. “The new routes to Colombia are an important step towards the recovery of our tourism industry. These flights also open up the possibility for new business opportunities that will allow us to keep positioning Colombia as a strategic trade ally for Canada and other countries as well,” she concluded.