Author Archives: Harry Johnson

Thousands stuck at airports after US airlines cancel hundreds of flights Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

US lifts travel ban on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

Post-Brexit UK visitors will now have to pay €7 to enter EU Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

US diplomat arrested in Turkey for selling passport to Syrian national Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

HiSky sixth new airline for Milan Bergamo Airport in 2021 Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

South African Airways clarifies ticket refund process Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

Czech Airlines Technics signs new agreement with Austrian Airlines Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

Qatar Airways takes Airbus to the High Court in London Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.”

Israel announces new US travel ban Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

Airbus firms up order for four new A350F freighters Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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. 

French bee takes delivery of new Airbus A350-1000 Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.

Boeing moving its production to the virtual reality realm Aviation Feature, Aviation News

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.