Airlines, Airports and Airliners News - 11 to 17 May 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


Titan Airways have recently operated a charter on behalf of the UK Government to the remote island and British overseas territory of St Helena. The flight which was operated by an Airbus A318 via Accra and Ascension Island was the first Airbus to ever land at St Helena airport. On board were medical staff and 2.5 tonnes of essential medical supplies for the island.

St Helena is a Category C airport requiring specific crew training and regulatory approval due to the known wind shear issues which can be encountered on approach to the airfield. Titan Airways also carried out further training while in St Helena.


Air Mauritius has resumed commercial cargo operations to and from some designated destinations. After a first flight to Paris, on Friday 01 May, a second one was planned for next Friday, 08 May. As from next week, Air Mauritius is considering twice weekly commercial cargo flights on the Paris route, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Cargo services will be adapted as demand evolves. Humanitarian flights for the repatriation of stranded passengers and the transportation of medical supplies are also maintained.

On the other hand, all commercial passenger flights, including those on the Rodrigues route, will remain suspended until 01 June 2020. Commercial operations were suspended from 29 March 2020 following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed in most countries on the Air Mauritius network.


Passenger numbers were down 97% in April with the airport supporting essential travel for just 200,000 people in the entire month - the same number it would typically serve in just one day. Many of those passengers were on board the 218 charted repatriation flights that landed at Heathrow. Demand is expected to remain weak until governments lift lockdowns.

A total of 1,788 cargo only flights operated from Heathrow in April, helping to bring in critical supplies of PPE. The busiest day was 30th April, with 95 dedicated cargo movements - 14 times the usual daily average pre-COVID. Even so, cargo volumes at Britain's biggest port were down over 60%.

The airport supports Government's aim of avoiding a second wave of infection, even though the 14-day quarantine plan will effectively close borders temporarily. It is likely that few passenger flights will operate and even less people will travel until the quarantine is lifted.

Without long haul passenger flights, there will be very limited trade as 40% of UK exports and inward supply chain travels in the cargo holds of passenger planes from Heathrow. Until people can fly freely again, industries in all corners of the country will remain stagnant.


European low-cost carrier Wizz Air has announced five new routes from Abu Dhabi, which are set to launch later this year.

The budget airline will connect the UAE capital with Budapest and Bucharest from June and with Cluj-Napoca, Katowice and Sofia from September, subject to aviation activity resuming amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

Shareef Al Hashmi, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: "These new routes positively reflect the industry's resilience and its capability to continue pushing forward with bold plans that will stimulate consumer demand and the sustained recovery of the aviation market."

The services will be the first direct routes between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and Budapest, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Katowice and Sofia adding an almost 220,000 seat capacity to the airline's Abu Dhabi network per year.

The new routes come as Wizz Air's planned Abu-Dhabi-based joint venture carrier - Wizz Air Abu Dhabi - is expected to start flying this year.


As air travel at Tampa International Airport has slowed to a trickle, there's one area where activity is still bustling - and even speeding up: TPA's construction sites.

TPA is pushing forward with roughly $150 million in essential projects, helping to prepare the Airport for rapid future growth and ensure passengers enjoy the same world-class experience for decades to come.

"With fewer guests in the terminal and on our campus, we're able to get ahead and speed up work on critical elements to significantly reduce passenger impact down the road," said Al Illustrato, TPA's Executive Vice President of Facilities.

Overall, TPA has sped up work on eight different projects, including everything from widening the main entrance and exit road, to modernizing restrooms and adding new express curbsides.

Some of these project elements - which involve disruptive road closures or service impacts - are being completed weeks - if not months - ahead of schedule. Under normal circumstances, due to high passenger numbers, much of the construction work would need to take place overnight in relatively short windows to minimize the impact on travellers. Now, with far fewer guests, the work is taking place during the day and crews are able to work for longer periods of time.

"As we always say, 'We're an Airport first.' We're tremendously pleased to speed this work up, where possible, to minimize the inconvenience to our guests," said Illustrato.

These projects also directly support numerous local companies, creating construction jobs at a time of great economic uncertainty.


The Emirates Group announced its 32nd consecutive year of profit, against a drop in revenue mainly attributed to reduced operations during the planned DXB runway closure in the first quarter and the impact of flight and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the fourth quarter.

In its 2019-20 Annual Report, the Emirates Group posted a profit of AED 1.7 billion (US$ 456 million) for the financial year ended 31 March 2020, down 28% from last year. The Group's revenue reached AED 104.0 billion (US$ 28.3 billion), a decline of 5% over last year's results. The group's cash balance was AED 25.6 billion (US$ 7.0 billion), up 15% from last year mainly due to a strong business performance up to February 2020 and lower fuel cost compared to previous year.

Due to the unprecedented business environment from the ongoing pandemic, and to protect the Group's liquidity position, the Group has not declared a dividend for this financial year after last year's dividend of AED 500 million (US$ 136 million) to the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

In 2019-20, the Group collectively invested AED 11.7 billion (US$ 3.2 billion) in new aircraft and equipment, the acquisition of companies, modern facilities, the latest technologies and employee initiatives, a decrease following last year's record investment spend of AED 14.6 billion (US$ 3.9 billion). It also continued to invest resources towards supporting communities, environmental initiatives, as well as incubator programmes that nurture talent and innovation to support future industry growth.

At the 2019 Dubai Air Show in November, Emirates placed a US$ 16 billion order for 50 A350 XWBs, and a US$ 8.8 billion order for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. With first deliveries expected in 2023, these new aircraft will add to Emirates' current fleet mix, and provide deployment flexibility within its long-haul hub model. In line with Emirates' long-standing strategy to operate a modern and efficient fleet, these new aircraft will also keep its fleet age well below the industry average.


Boeing [NYSE: BA] completed another set of COVID-19 airlift missions, deploying three Dreamlifter aircraft to transport more than 150,000 protective eye goggles and face shields from China to the United States. Boeing worked in partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to deliver the personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care professionals in the MUSC system.

The MUSC Health team will use the PPE as they support the revitalization of the economy and ramp-up COVID-19 community outreach efforts, including diagnostic testing and antibody testing, across South Carolina. MUSC Health, under the guidance of the South Carolina Legislature and in partnership with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), has established mobile screening and collection sites in rural and underserved areas.

The mobile setup allows health care providers to rotate sites, reaching people experiencing barriers to health care access for COVID-19 screening. Rural and underserved communities have experienced disparities in access to COVID-19 screening, testing, prevention and treatment in South Carolina and across the U.S.

Similar to previous airlift missions flown by the Dreamlifter - a converted Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter - the medical cargo was transported in the lower lobe of all three aircraft, while 787 component parts were flown in the main deck cargo hold. Boeing donated the cost of the mission transport, with Atlas Air operating the flights on behalf of Boeing. Boeing has scheduled additional flights, to deliver a total of 400,000 units of PPE to MUSC, in the near future.

Boeing continues to support local communities and the heroic health care professionals working tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19. Boeing is coordinating closely with U.S. government officials on how to best assist areas with the greatest need.


SSJ100 aircraft has successfully completed test flights and proved the performance capability of ATN system in real conditions in Europe. The installation of this system today is relevant primarily for the operators flying to EU countries is a mandatory requirement of the European aviation authorities for flight operations in various European countries above FL285.

Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) is a system of automatic data exchange between the aircraft and the ground-based air traffic control services. It simplifies the pilot's control of the aircraft; it works through a secure communication channel and provides communication between the air traffic controller and a specific aircraft. The principle of standardized queries used by ATN allows a reduction in the time of information exchange between the aircraft and the controllers, reduces the risk of message loss, misunderstanding between the pilot and the ground services in the event of interference.

"ATN system is a novelty in the design of SSJ100. ATN will be installed as one of the main aircraft systems on all newly manufactured SSJ100 aircraft. The aircraft in operation rework will be optional and made on the customer's request under the Service Bulletins," said Andrei Nedosekin, Deputy General Director for Design.

SSJ100 aircraft has successfully completed the tests in the airspace of the Russian Federation and the EU. Finland was chosen for the test flights to the EU, where the ATN service closest to Zhukovsky is located.


Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) is applying the latest disinfection technologies, including disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating and autonomous cleaning robots at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to protect passengers and airport staff from COVID-19 infection.

HKIA is the world's first airport where "CLeanTech", a full-body disinfection channel facility, is trialled in live operation. Persons using the facility will have a temperature check before entering an enclosed channel for the 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedures. The interior surface of the channel is equipped with antimicrobial coating which can remotely kill virus and bacteria on human bodies and clothing by using the technologies of photocatalyst and "nano needles". Sanitizing spray is also applied for instant disinfection. The channel is kept under negative pressure to prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment. Currently, the facility is designated for use by staff who take part in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers.

Meanwhile, the AA is conducting a pilot test of applying antimicrobial coating at all passenger facilities. An invisible coating to destroy germs, bacteria and viruses is applied to high-touch surfaces in the terminal, including handles and seats of Automated People Movers and passenger buses, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, toilets, seating area in the terminal, baggage trolleys, elevator buttons, and more. After completion of the trial in May, the AA will consider implementing it as a long-term disinfection measure.

Autonomous cleaning robots are also deployed to ensure thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities in HKIA. Intelligent Sterilization Robot, equipped with ultra violet light sterilizer and air sterilizer, is deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building. The robot can move around autonomously and sterilize up to 99.99% of bacteria in its vicinity, including both the air and object surfaces in just 10 minutes.

Steven Yiu, Deputy Director, Service Delivery of the AA, said, "The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority. Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work."


The extremely negative impact of the coronavirus crisis on the company's financials and the ongoing very low demand for air travel has urged Brussels Airlines to take substantial and indispensable measures to guarantee the survival of the company. To grant a future for Brussels Airlines, the carrier needs to structurally reduce its costs to a competitive level. In addition, to overcome the present unprecedented crisis, the company asks for support from both its shareholders, Lufthansa and the Belgian government.

Within its turnaround plan, Brussels Airlines is structurally tackling its cost structure and optimize its network by cutting marginally profitable and unprofitable routes, resulting in a fleet reduction of 30%. The overall size of the company, and as a consequence of its workforce, will be 25% smaller.

As a socially responsible employer, Brussels Airlines will work together with its social partners to reduce the number of forced dismissals to an absolute minimum. The company is confident that with its turnaround plan it will be able to safeguard 75% of its employment and grow again in a profitable way as soon as the demand for air travel has recovered to a new normal, which is expected as of 2023.

Achieving structural profitability is essential to secure the company's future and new investments, while also being able to protect itself against possible new headwinds.


SAS has introduced a range of measures aimed at meeting new demands in the workplace to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The safety of passengers and employees always comes first for SAS. Studies show that an extremely small number of infections can be traced to air travel and SAS is working continuously to ensure this remains the case.

SAS has introduced several measures during the corona crisis to limit the spread of the virus throughout your journey; from booking your ticket until arrival.

From May 18 to Aug 31 it is mandatory for all travellers from the age of 6 years to wear face masks from boarding to disembarkation on all SAS flights. All aircraft are cleaned and disinfected in accordance with new procedures adapted to the extraordinary situation. New boarding procedures ensure that the best possible distance is maintained on board. Passengers with seats at the rear of the aircraft board first, to avoid having to pass other passengers. All non-essential loose items have been removed - such as magazines in the seat pockets, pillows, blankets and trays. No food service will be available on board to reduce contact between passengers and crew. Hand luggage is limited to one item per passenger.

The travel restrictions will continue to have a major impact on the aviation industry, but SAS is prepared for the fact that more and more people need to fly.

"The measures aimed to prevent the spread of coronavirus together with clean and dry air onboard makes flying a safe means of transportation. Many people in Scandinavia are completely dependent on SAS and air travel. They can rest assured we are taking all aspects concerning health and safety extremely seriously," says VP Safety and Security Mattias Hedrén at SAS.

SAS is monitoring developments carefully and working closely with national and international authorities and experts to ensure the best possible transition from the corona crisis to a more normal situation.


As the foremost airline taking people home, Qatar Airways will now support healthcare workers to take a well-deserved break. Qatar Airways will give away 100,000 free tickets to frontline healthcare professionals to say thank you for their heroic work looking after people during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

By maintaining 24/7 operations in recent months, including the provision of over 100 charter flights, Qatar Airways' mission to repatriate over one million people has received widespread praise and thanks from passengers and governments as the foremost airline taking people home. Given the airline's work at the frontline of global efforts to repatriate stranded passengers, it now seeks to recognise and reward the world's frontline healthcare workers.

The giveaway will open at 00.01 AM on 12 May and close at 23:59 on 18 May (Doha time). Healthcare professionals can register for this exclusive offer at by submitting a form to receive a unique promotion code, offered on a first come, first served basis.

Healthcare professionals from every country in the world will be eligible for tickets. To ensure the application process is fair and transparent, each country will receive a daily allocation of tickets, depending on its population size, staggered over a seven day period from 12 to 18 May. The daily allocation will be released at 00:01 AM Doha time throughout the campaign period.

Healthcare professionals that receive the promotion code can book up to two complimentary Economy Class return tickets on Qatar Airways operated flights - one for themselves and one for a companion - to anywhere on the airline's global network. Tickets must be booked before 26 November, with travel valid until 10 December 2020. The tickets will be fully flexible, with an unlimited number of destination or date changes allowed without any fees. Fare and surcharges will be waived on tickets although airport taxes apply.

As a further gesture of appreciation, healthcare professionals will be offered additionally a voucher with 35% discount to redeem at Qatar Duty Free retail outlets at the airline's state-of-the-art hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, valid for use up to 31 December 2020.

* This offer is only available for QR operated flights. Eligible healthcare professions are limited to: Doctor, Medical practitioner, nurse, paramedic, pharmacist, lab technician and clinical researcher. A valid employer ID must be presented at the airport at the point of check in.

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