Airlines, Airports and Airliners News -5 April 2020 to 12 April

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


Following the engagements with various embassies and in consultation with the relevant government departments, SAA has agreed to provide repatriation charter flights to various international destinations.

The first of these chartered flights will be for the repatriation of German citizens to their home country. The BRPs have confirmed that negotiations are ongoing with other governments for the repatriation of their citizens.

SAA will operate the charter services subject to the health and safety provisions contained in the regulations and other relevant provisions during the lockdown. To address the health and safety concerns of both passengers and crew and in compliance with the lockdown regulations, we wish to point out the following:

These flights are commercial in nature to deal with the thousands of passengers who could not be accommodated as a consequence of the immediate lockdown. These flights are not for the transportation of individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are not medical evacuation flights.

Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 will not be allowed on any of these flights. All passengers would be subject to the screening protocols prior to departure as required by the South African authorities and SAA's policies. Any passengers that presents flu-like symptoms will not be allowed on any of these flights.


In compliance with the President's call for a nationwide 21-day lockdown, Mango Airlines will be suspending all flights from 27 March up to and including 19 April 2020. Provided the lockdown works as intended, we will resume flying on Monday, 20 April 2020.

Guests who have bookings and intend to change their existing bookings to fly before 27 March 2020 or intend booking with Mango for travel from 20 April until 30 April 2020 will still be able to change their flight dates. Mango will waive the change fees applicable when making this date change. Please go online, or contact us for assistance.

Guests who are unable or unwilling to make use of our once-off booking change offering, we will be issuing vouchers equal to the value of the fare and all applicable taxes. Mango has now extended the validity period for these vouchers to 24 months from the date of issue. The voucher will take up to 7 working days to be issued. For all voucher requests, Guests will be required to email

These are extraordinary times which require never-before-implemented extraordinary measures. We call for all South Africans to adhere to the 21-day lockdown, maintain good hygiene and social distancing. Together, we will get through this and once again return to the skies to get our Guests where they need to be.


Investigators have found incorrectly-sized components on the landing-gear assembly of an Icelandair Boeing 757-200 which suffered a main landing-gear collapse at Reykjavik earlier this year.

Icelandic investigation authority RNSA has recommended specific safety checks on four aircraft serviced by Landing Gear Technologies, to ensure that parts which have undergone undersizing work still mate properly.

Examination of the 757 showed that the side strut of the landing gear had detached from the shock strut. The two are connected by a swivel. RNSA says threads in the swivel twice underwent undersising, during maintenance work in 2008 and 2019. This reduction in the diameter of the swivel threads was permitted but required a special undersized nut to be manufactured.

Investigators' initial measurements, however, showed the nut from the landing-gear was "too large" for the undersized swivel threads, says RNSA.

Investigators found the main gear side strut detached from the shock strut

Flight FI529, operated by the 20-year old TF-FIA, had been arriving from Berlin on 7 February.

Cockpit-voice recordings show the crew was "not aware of any problems" before the landing and flight-data recorder information revealed no abnormal loading during touchdown. The flare was normal and the jet initially touched down on its right, then left, main landing-gear. But as the nose was de-rotating an "abnormal sound" was heard and the jet listed to the right, its right-hand engine striking the runway before the nose-gear made contact.

Investigators found that the swivel nut and an associated washer were missing from the immediate scene and were located near the aircraft's touchdown point. A locking bolt for the nut was also found to have sheared.

Full analysis work on the swivel and nut has been delayed by US travel restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, but RNSA has made interim safety recommendations to Icelandair and its associate operator Cabo Verde Airlines regarding landing-gear checks. Landing Gear Technologies has yet to comment on RNSA's preliminary findings.


Hundreds of airline employees have tested positive for coronavirus. Now, union leaders for Southwest and American airlines are demanding the companies do more to protect their crews.

"Flight attendants are in a high-risk position while providing the essential service of travel. Our risk factors seem to be increasing. This is unacceptable," said Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, the union of Southwest Airlines flight attendants. The union represents more than 17,000 flight attendants.

Last month, Montgomery said she sent a list of demands to Southwest Airlines including masks and gloves for flight attendants, social distancing on board and thermal scanning in airports.

Out of more than 60,000 employees, Southwest said "far less than 1%" -- or 600 -- have contracted coronavirus.

"The safety and well-being of Southwest's Employees and Customers is our uncompromising priority, and Southwest continues to implement measures to maintain our aircraft cabins, airport locations, and work centres to the highest standards, while following all CDC guidelines, during this unprecedented time," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, based in Euless, said it's been told about 100 American Airlines flight attendants have tested positive for COVID-19. The APFA represents 28,000 flight attendants.

APFA President Julie Hedrick released the following statement. "APFA has been pushing the company since January to be proactive in their approach to COVID-19 and the associated dangers. We have consistently advocated for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of our Flight Attendants to be available on every aircraft, for social distancing between passengers and crew jump seats, for thermal scanning in the airports and to receive immediate notification of flight attendants who have tested positive for the virus. Flight attendants are aviation's first responders who are transporting medical personnel and supplies into COVID-19 hotspots and they need to be treated and protected as such."

American Airlines also released a statement. "We are in regular communication with the CDC and follow their guidance for essential workers - which includes commercial air travel - who may have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Our guidance to all team members is to regularly monitor themselves for symptoms - even if they don't think they've been exposed - and to not come to work if they are not feeling well."


An Airbus flight test crew has just completed its latest mission with an A350-1000 test aircraft. This is the third of such missions between Europe and China. The aircraft returned to France with a cargo of 4 million face masks on Sunday 5 April. The large majority of which will be donated to governments of the Airbus home countries, namely France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Since mid-March, the previous two missions were performed by an A330-800 and an A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Airbus also deployed an A400M and its Beluga fleet to transport shipments of masks between its European sites, in France, Germany, the UK and Spain.

Airbus is deploying its employees, their expertise and know-how and leveraging technology in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, for example in designing and manufacturing ventilators and 3D printed visors which are critical resources for hospitals.

The company is partnering with other organisations in unprecedented ways to achieve this goal as fast as possible.


Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun issued the following letter to employees today outlining the company's voluntary plan to respond to current market conditions.

Across Boeing, we're focused on keeping one another and our communities safe as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches every corner of the globe. Our first priority is and will continue to be protecting the health and safety of our people, their families and the stakeholders we touch. We're assessing and enhancing the safety of every one of our sites on a daily basis.

We're also doing everything we can to protect the future of our business. That means continuing to deliver for our commercial and services customers, even as their own businesses slow to a trickle. It means working hard to meet commitments to our defence and space customers. And it means maintaining the stability of our supply chain so we're ready to ramp up again when the pandemic is over.

Most importantly, it means doing everything possible to keep this team intact. We can't get back to regular operations again after the crisis if we don't have the people and skills to make that happen.

But one thing is already clear: It will take time for the aerospace industry to recover from the crisis. When the world emerges from the pandemic, the size of the commercial market and the types of products and services our customers want and need will likely be different. We will need to balance the supply and demand accordingly as the industry goes through the recovery process for years to come.

In the meantime, I promised I would be very transparent with you. We're in uncharted waters. We're taking actions - including offering this VLO plan - based on what we know today. They will bridge us to recovery as long as we're not confronted with more unexpected challenges. I can't predict with certainty what the next few months will bring, but I can commit to being honest about what's happening and doing everything we can to protect our people and our business through this crisis.

We'll continue to deliver on commercial, defence and space, and services programs. We'll continue to drive the safe return to service of the 737 MAX. We'll continue to keep programs going wherever we can do so virtually and with confidence that we can keep you safe and healthy. And I will continue to be supremely confident that Boeing will not just emerge from the crisis but thrive again as the leader of our industry.


American Airlines First Officer Cyndi Dawson helped launch the DFW chapter of 100 Vets Who Give A Damn (100 Vets) in 2016. "We raise money to give to a variety of different charities all over the nation," Cyndi said. "We have given to help our veterans and their families mentally, physically and emotionally."

When American's Military and Veteran Initiatives (MVI) team reached out and said it was planning to deliver care packages to soldiers, 100 Vets wanted to help. American also recruited food and monetary donations from the Robert Irvine Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation to get the job done.

"Our aircraft and crews are carrying life-giving supplies and medical equipment to those on the front line," Cyndi said. "Our care packages are part of these supplies. American crews and planes are transporting these boxes full of goodies for our men and women returning home."

After they get back from their deployment locations, U.S. troops are sent into a mandatory 14-day quarantine, plus a one- to two-week demobilization period, before they can go back home to their loved ones. This can be understandably hard after spending so much time away from home, which is why American wanted to find a way to help make the transition easier.

A snack package may seem like a small gift, but it meant the world for a soldier who just returned to the United States after spending nine months in Afghanistan. The COVID-19 quarantine may be keeping him stuck inside, but the gift made him feel closer to community

Members of the military have made many sacrifices to keep the country safe, and American considers it an honour and privilege to be able to give back to them.


McCarran International Airport is working to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis while remaining open as a provider of essential air transportation services. As passenger activity has declined, McCarran officials are continually evaluating the airport's infrastructure and operations to identify ways to maximize efficiencies and implement cost-savings measures. With this in mind, the Department of Aviation has reduced its on-site workforce and is consolidating operations.

The following areas will close effective today until further notice: B Concourse - All gates, retail and concessions, C Annex Security Checkpoint, E Concourse, Level 2: Secured Side - All gates, retail and concessions.

Terminal 3 remains open with limited services during the closure of the E Concourse. Passengers will still be able to access airline ticketing and check-in, the TSA Checkpoint and Baggage Claim. Any flight previously scheduled to depart from the E Concourse will shift to the D Concourse. Signage is in place to direct travellers at Terminal 3 to use the Red Line tram to the D Concourse once they have cleared the security checkpoint.

The A Concourse remains accessible via the A/B Checkpoint, while the C Concourse is accessible by the C/D Checkpoint. The closure of the B Concourse restricts the ability of passengers to move between the A Concourse and C Concourse without exiting the secure area.

By reducing the operational areas of the airport, McCarran's custodial team will be able to prioritize sanitation and increase the frequency of cleaning while conserving valuable resources and supplies. This also allows McCarran to do its part to flatten the curve and practice social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus by reducing the number of employees required to be physically present in their respective workspaces.


Berlin's airports are recording a drastic slump in passenger numbers. In March, a decline in passengers of 64.7 percent was recorded at Tegel and Schönefeld for the whole month. However, the number of passengers has continued to fall significantly over the last few days. Air traffic around the world has almost completely broken down due to the global corona pandemic.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: "The impacts of the corona crisis on air traffic have got worse from week to week in March. The decline is currently at around 95 percent, and that is at all German airports. Unfortunately, the current situation is not expected to improve in the coming weeks. The pandemic has virtually paralysed passenger flights. A recovery is not expected for several months."

693,451 passengers were still being handled in March at Tegel Airport. That is a minus of 64.8 percent. Schönefeld had 341,429 passengers, which is 64.6 percent fewer than in the same month last year.

Flight movements fell less significantly than passenger numbers. A total of 12,979 aircraft took off and landed at both airports in March 2020, 46.5 percent fewer than in March 2019. This was 8,578 aircraft at Tegel, 46.9 percent fewer than in the same period last year. 4,401 aircraft took off and landed (minus 45.7 percent) at Schönefeld.

The airports in the capital region handled a total of 5,567,225 passengers in the first quarter of 2020, which is 29.4 percent less than in the first quarter of 2019.

Freight transport at Berlin's airports in March declined only slightly by 16.7 percent to 2,321 tonnes (TXL 1,201.8 tonnes, SXF 1,119.2 tonnes).


Due to the health contingency and supporting the continuity of economies and businesses, Aeromexico will use part of its grounded fleet for cargo-only through its airfreight division, Aeromexico Cargo. The first charter flight will take off from Mexico City to Frankfurt operated with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft shipping 15 tons of cargo.

At this time, air freight is essential for shipping supplies, medicines, medical equipment, food and other products. The service is operated as a charter, meaning on demand and for shipping perishable products, live animals, high-value goods, technology and medicines, among others.

Domestically, Aeromexico can transport cargo to 41 airports, and abroad, to the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and, Europe.

The Boeing 787-9 on with which this first service will operate is one of the most modern aircraft in the world and friendly to the environment. This equipment emits compared to other aircraft, 57% less noise pollution during take-off and landing and 20% less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The airline also has its fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to perform similar services.


Aeroflot will continue to operate special flights to repatriate Russian citizens from foreign countries after 27 March 2020 and until such time as a decision is taken to cease these flights. Flights are operating on the basis of bilateral agreements and are charter flights.

Only Russian citizens and other specified categories of citizens the entry into Russia for whom is not prohibited under Russian Federation Government directives shall be allowed to board flights from international destinations bound for Russia.

Passengers planning to travel from a foreign country and transit via Russia on to another destination will not be permitted to fly.

Due to the limited time frame for which the special charter flights will operate, Aeroflot requests that all Russian citizens who would like to return to Russia before the flights cease should contact Russian consulates.


As part of the implementation of the decisions of the Operational Headquarters of the Government of the Russian Federation on the prevention of the importation and spread of new coronavirus infection, the Decree of the Mayor of Moscow and the Decree of the Governor of the Moscow Region on additional restrictive measures of the following measures were implemented at Sheremetyevo International Airport:

In order to maintain social distance (at least 1.5 m) in places of possible passenger congestion, bright floor markings are applied (including on the check-in line, in the pre-flight inspection zone, passport control zone, baggage claim area;

Terminal D at Sheremetyevo Airport temporarily closes. This measure was taken due to the reduction in passenger traffic and the introduction of additional restrictions in the field of international air transportation.

Domestic flights of Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines, Ikar, Nordwind Airlines. Severstal, and Ural Airlines are transferred from Terminal D to Terminal B. Starting April 1, all international flights will be serviced at Terminal F. All passengers arriving at Terminal F will be subject to a triple medical control procedure.

The implementation of the measures necessary to combat the spread of coronavirus infection in the Russian Federation in accordance with the instructions and recommendations of state bodies and medical institutions.

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