Airlines, Airports and Airliners News -18 to 24 May 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein



AIRLINK ADVISES OF RESOLUTION OF TICKET RE-ISSUE AND RE-ACCOMMODATION OF SAA TICKETS ISSUED ON AIRLINK FLIGHTS



Airlink advises that it has reached agreement with South African Airways (in business rescue) for the re-accommodation of SAA tickets issued from 6 December 2019 for travel on Airlink flights. In terms of the agreement, Airlink will re issue and re accommodate SAA (083) tickets issued on Airlink SA8 flights on Airlink (749) tickets for travel on future Airlink 4Z flights.

Airlink's ticketing team will manage the re issue and re accommodation process. "This process is time consuming and we thank our travel partners and customers for their patience while our team of ticketing agents processes the ticket re-accommodation and re-issuing said Rodger Foster", MD and CEO.

Once tickets have been re-accommodated and re-issued, Airlink customers will be able to contact Airlink's customer care team to arrange their re-booking in accordance with Airlink's published policy. It is important for Airlink customers to be aware that in terms of Airlink's (now discontinued) franchise relationship with SAA, ticket sale revenue resides with SAA for all 083 SA8 tickets until such time as the flight liability has been fulfilled. The re-accommodation agreement will allow the transfer of the ticket sale revenue together with liability for service delivery to Airlink. Therefore, until the re accommodations have been affected, Airlink cannot arrange re-bookings as the ticket sale revenue is in SAA's possession.

Regrettably the re-accommodation solution does not apply to tickets purchased prior to 6 December 2019. Airlink customers holding SAA tickets purchased before 6 December 2019 should refer to SAA 's business rescue practitioners, Mr. Les Matuson and Mr. Siviwe Dongwana, for further guidance.

Re-accommodation of 083 tickets issued from 6 December 2019 on Airlink SA8 flights will begin immediately and will endure for the next few weeks on condition that Airlink receives from SAA the ticket revenue associated with the re-accommodated tickets bearing in mind that SAA remains in the uncertain situation of being in business rescue.

Airlink apologizes to their valued customers and travel trade partners for the inconvenience of the prolonged wait in reaching this positive outcome. Airlink regrets the inconvenience to customers who purchased SAA tickets prior to 6 December 2019 on Airlink flights.

COMAIR BUSINESS RESCUE PRACTITIONERS OUTLINE PROCESS, PROSPECTS



Comair's business rescue practitioners held the first formal meetings with creditors and employees after the company entered business rescue. The business rescue practitioners, Shaun Collyer and Richard Ferguson, covered the procedural aspects of the business rescue process, the reasons why Comair had entered business rescue and the prospects of rescuing it.

Collyer said Comair had reported a half-year loss of R564 million for H1 2020. This included R790 million that was unrecoverable after SAA entered business rescue in early December 2019. The money was for outstanding payments still owed on a R1.1 billion settlement of a Competition Commission complaint.

He went on to explain that as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, Comair had been unable to operate any scheduled passenger flights since 26 March 2020 and consequently had not been able to earn revenue. When the government subsequently announced that the lockdown would be lifted in phases, and domestic flights would only resume in phase 2, Comair "had no choice" but to file for business rescue.

He said it was important to distinguish between factual and commercial insolvency. Comair was not factually insolvent. It has R7.42 billion in assets on its balance sheet compared to liabilities of R5,48 billion. Rather it was financially distressed because there was insufficient cash to pay ongoing costs and obligations and, with its flights grounded for an uncertain period, no opportunity to generate revenue.

Ferguson explained that in terms of the Companies Act, the business rescue practitioners' role was to take full control of the company and investigate whether there was a reasonable prospect of rescuing it. They would then prepare a plan in consultation with affected persons; who include creditors, shareholders registered trade unions and employees. If approved and adopted, they would then implement the plan.

Collyer said the practitioners believed there were reasonable prospects for Comair to be rescued through business rescue proceedings, for the following reasons:

Assets exceed liabilities;
Comair is a critical infrastructure asset for South Africa; It is competitively well placed, having enjoyed a 39% market share for domestic travel and; There is immense goodwill and a longstanding reputation in the travel community and with the public and customers.

He added that the successful rescue of Comair's business would depend on the support of all stakeholders, and this would include post-commencement finance.

The next step in the business rescue process is the formation of a creditors' committee and an employee representatives' committee respectively.

Creditors wishing to submit claims can download claim forms from www.comair.co.za/business-rescue/creditor-claims

The business rescue plan will probably be published on 9 June 2020. The vote to approve the final plan is expected on 24 June.

CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL AND KING SHAKA INTERNATIONAL COME OUT ON TOP IN 2020 WORLD AIRPORT AWARDS



Airports Company South Africa's airports serving Cape Town and Durban have been named Africa's best in the 2020 Skytrax World Airport Awards.

Air travellers voted Cape Town International Airport the Best Airport in Africa. This is the fifth consecutive year that Cape Town International Airport secured this award and the airport has over the past several years been recognised on multiple occasions in the awards.

King Shaka International Airport in Durban, which marked its 10th birthday on 1 May, won this year's award for Best Regional Airport in Africa and Best Airport Staff in Africa serving 5 to10 million passengers.

This is the tenth time that the airport has secured this accolade and the second consecutive year and the third time in four years that has come out on top in the service category. Cape Town International Airport was runner-up in the staff service category.

The World Airport Awards are the most prestigious accolades for the airport industry, voted by customers in the largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey.

The World Airport Awards are regarded as the quality benchmark for the world airport industry, assessing customer service and facilities across over 550 airports around the world. The survey and awards are independent of any airport control or input and are based on the World Airport Survey questionnaires completed by over 100 nationalities of airport customers during the six-month survey period. The survey evaluated the customer experience across airport service and product key performance indicators from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration through to departure at the gate.

AIR FRANCE IS PROGRESSIVELY INCREASING ITS FLIGHT SCHEDULE



Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, Air France has been adapting its network and flight schedule in real-time in line with travel restrictions and demand. Since end-March and at the present time, Air France is operating between 3 and 5% of its usual schedule, with a focus on maintaining a service to the French regions and links with key destinations in Europe and worldwide, to both transport passengers and goods. In this capacity, Air France currently serves 43 destinations.

Between now and the end of June and subject to travel restrictions being lifted, Air France plans to gradually resume its flights, with a gradual increase in the number of frequencies and destinations, especially to/from metropolitan France, the French Overseas Departments and Europe.

This flight schedule will be equivalent to 15% of the capacities usually deployed at this time of year and will be operated by 75 aircraft in the Air France fleet, which comprises 224 aircraft.

To assist its customers as traffic picks up again, Air France regularly adapts its flight schedule and updates it daily across all distribution channels. As of 18 May 2020, the flight schedule is up to date until 30 June 2020.

This updated flight schedule implies the cancellation of bookings for flights that will not be operated. Commercial measures available for consultation on airfrance.com and at all points of sale allow concerned customers to reschedule or cancel their trip at no extra cost.

Prior to travelling, Air France encourages its customers to contact the competent authorities for information on the formalities for entering and residing in their countries of destination and transit, as these are likely to have been modified following the COVID-19 epidemic.

Air France reminds that wearing a face mask is compulsory on all its flights and that temperature checks have been implemented on departure of each flight

NEW BEGINNING - AIRBALTIC STARTS SEVERAL ROUTES FROM RIGA AND TALLINN



airBaltic green tails are back to the skies. After a decision from the Government of Latvia to enable international passenger traffic between Baltic states and receiving all of the necessary permissions, on May 18 airBaltic will resume daily direct flights from Riga to Tallinn and Vilnius. Necessary permissions allow airBaltic to resume direct flights from Tallinn to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and as of May 25 to Vilnius.

Martin Gauss, CEO of airBaltic: "We provide the best connectivity to and from the Baltics. Now we return with a clear target to maintain our position in the region. By focusing on an all-Airbus A220-300 fleet, we are well positioned for the restart. Until the crisis began, we were the strongest carrier in Tallinn, providing the best connectivity to our Estonian passengers. Now we return with a clear target to maintain our position in Estonia and the Baltics. By focusing on an all-Airbus A220-300 fleet, we are well positioned for the restart in Tallinn."

Full schedule and tickets for the flights are available on the airBaltic website. In addition, a temporary offer for all new airBaltic reservations made by May 31, 2020 is available, offering passengers to rebook them free of charge to a new date. Only one date change is permitted.

DELTA'S 777 AIRCRAFT TO RETIRE BY END OF 2020, SIMPLIFYING WIDEBODY FLEET AMID COVID-19



Delta plans to retire its 18 widebody Boeing 777s by the end of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The retirement will accelerate the airline's strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet, while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.

"We're making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis," said Gil West, Delta's Chief Operating Officer. "The 777 has been a reliable part of Delta's success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time."

Last month, Delta announced plans to accelerate the retirement of the MD-88 and MD-90 fleets to June. Since the onset of the COVID-19 situation, Delta has reacted quickly by parking aircraft and considering early aircraft retirements to reduce operational complexity and cost. To date, the airline has parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft to adjust capacity to match reduced customer demand.

The Boeing 777-200 first entered the fleet in 1999 and grew to 18 aircraft, including 10 of the long-range 777-200LR variant, which arrived in 2008. At the time, aircraft was uniquely positioned to fly non-stop between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, Los Angeles to Sydney and other distant destinations.

Delta will continue flying its fleet of long-haul next generation Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they will replace.

Despite a reduction in international passenger travel, the 777 fleet has been the workhorse of Delta's cargo, mail and U.S. citizen repatriation operations amid the pandemic. Since late April, the widebody jet has flown dozens of trips from Chicago and Los Angeles to Frankfurt to deliver mail to U.S. military troops abroad; operated between the U.S. and Asia to deliver thousands of pounds of critical, life-saving supplies to aid in the COVID-19 response; and carried thousands of U.S. citizens back to the U.S. from Sydney, Mumbai, Manila and other cities around the world.

DE HAVILLAND CANADA LAUNCHES SIMPLIFIED PACKAGE FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS FOR DASH 8-100/200 AND DASH 8-300



De Havilland Canada announced that Transport Canada has approved the conversion of Dash 8-100/200 and Dash 8-300 aircraft into Simplified Package Freighters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 748 Air Services (K) Ltd, a well-known provider of passenger and cargo services to humanitarian, natural resources and government sectors in Africa, has ordered the Service Bulletin and conversion kits for their four Dash 8-100 aircraft and globally, will be the first operator for the Dash 8-100 Simplified Package Freighter. 748 Air Services (K) Ltd has also ordered the Simplified Package Freighter Service Bulletin and conversion kits for their three Dash 8-400 aircraft.

Headquartered at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, 748 Air Services (K) Ltd distinguishes itself as an innovative and solution-oriented company that effectively responds to demands presented within the industry.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with many challenges including broad government mandates that restrict the movements of both passengers and cargo for an indefinite duration. Movement has been limited to humanitarian cargo only. We have responded with Air Cargo solutions to support the humanitarian, natural resources and government sectors, who will benefit from the conversion of our four Dash 8-100 aircraft and three of our Dash 8-400 (Q400) aircraft into Simplified Package Freighters. We are extremely grateful to De Havilland Canada and Transport Canada for providing these solutions quickly," said Moses Mwangi, Managing Director, 748 Air Services (K) Ltd.

"We're delighted to announce 748 Air Services (K) Ltd as the first customer for the Dash 8-100 Simplified Package Freighter and thank them for their order which also includes conversion kits for their three Dash 8-400 aircraft. We commend them as they reconfigure some aircraft in their fleet to continue their excellent work delivering essential passenger and cargo services in the eastern and central regions of Africa," said Todd Young, Chief Operating Officer, De Havilland Canada. "De Havilland Canada continues to be highly focused on providing solutions to our operators as they seek mechanisms to redeploy their fleets in response to COVID-19. It is gratifying to know that we are succeeding in creating opportunities for our operators in these challenging times."

Approved by Transport Canada, De Havilland Canada's Service Bulletins allow Dash 8-100/200, Dash 8-300 and Dash 8-400 aircraft to be quickly converted into Simplified Package Freighters by the removal of seats and seat track covers in the passenger cabins. The converted Dash 8-100/200, Dash 8-300 and Dash 8-400 aircraft provide total potential cargo capacities of up to 6,500 lb, up to 9,625 lb and up to 17,960 lb respectively.

GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT IN AIRBALTIC WILL RETURN MULTIPLE TIMES FOR LATVIA



Martin Gauss CEO of airBaltic presented and shared the experience on how airBaltic is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, how the new business strategy looks and what the future holds for Baltic economies.

airBaltic had a well-developed crisis plan for various economic and operational crisis of the company. By analysing the COVID-19 spread and impact in other markets before the outbreak reached the Baltics, the airBaltic team was able to work on different scenarios in order to prepare for the upcoming crisis. Since February 28, an action group COVID-19AG was established at the company, which regularly evaluated the latest situation and took the necessary measures.

It foresees a reduced fleet for the upcoming years, initially resuming operations with 22 Airbus A220-300 single type fleet. The new plan takes into account the reduced capacity for the years 2020-2022, while at the same time foresees return to growth with up to 50 Airbus A220-300 aircraft after 2023.During the crisis we at airBaltic have set priorities for going forward - Stay, Revise and Grow - each stage consists of the top tasks to support airBaltic's future development.

QANTAS GROUP ANNOUNCES 'FLY WELL' TO PREPARE FOR TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS EASING



Qantas and Jetstar will roll out a series of wellbeing improvements to give peace-of-mind in preparation for domestic travel restrictions easing. The 'Fly Well' program brings together a number of temporary measures already in use by the Qantas Group, including on repatriation flights from virus hot-spots and represents a combination of best-practice medical advice and feedback from customers.

Rolling out from 12 June, the key measures at each point of the journey will be:

Pre-flight

Information sent to all customers before they fly, so they know what to expect. Contactless check-in (via online/app) and self-serve bag drop strongly encouraged, including use of Q Bag Tags. Hand sanitising stations at departure gates.

Temporary changes to Qantas Lounges, including increased physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced disinfection of surfaces and adjustments to food and drink service.

Working with airports on other safeguards in the terminal, including regular disinfection of security screening points and installing hygiene screens at airline customer service desks, wherever practical.

On board

Masks provided to all passengers on each flight - while not mandatory from a safety point of view, they are recommended to be worn in the interests of everyone's peace-of-mind.

Enhanced cleaning of aircraft with a disinfectant effective against Coronaviruses, with a focus on high contact areas - seats, seatbelts, overhead lockers, air vents and toilets. Sanitising wipes given to all passengers to wipe down seat belts, trays and armrests themselves, if preferred. Simplified service and catering to minimise touchpoints for crew and passengers. Passengers asked to limit movement around cabin, once seated. Sequenced boarding and disembarkation to minimise crowding.

In addition, the air conditioning systems of all Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9% of all particles including viruses. Air inside the cabin is refreshed on average every five minutes during flight.

All airline employees are required to follow strict personal hygiene protocols, for the benefit of themselves and others.

All passengers are encouraged to download the Australian Government's COVIDSafe app as part of improving the ability of health authorities to contain the spread of Coronavirus. In-line with public health advice, anyone with cold and flu like symptoms should stay at home.

LUFTHANSA GROUP SIGNIFICANTLY EXPANDS SERVICE WITH JUNE FLIGHT SCHEDULE



Over 106 German and European destinations and over 20 long-haul destinations soon to be available again. With the June flight schedule, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group are significantly expanding their services compared with the previous week's operation. Lufthansa, SWISS and Eurowings are again adding numerous leisure and summer destinations to their flight schedules in June, as well as more long-haul destinations.

With over 106 destinations in Germany and Europe and more than 20 intercontinental destinations, the range of flights on offer for all travellers will be greatly expanded by the end of June. The first batch of flights will be available for reservation in the booking systems today, 14 May.

By the end of June, the Lufthansa Group airlines plan to offer around 1,800 weekly roundtrips to more than 130 destinations worldwide.

"With the June flight schedule, we are making an important contribution to the revitalisation of the aviation infrastructure. It is an essential part of the German and European economic power. People want to and can travel again, whether on holiday or for business reasons. That's why we will continue to expand our offer step by step in the coming months and connect Europe with each other and Europe with the world," says Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board of German Lufthansa AG.

Lufthansa's additional flights that are resuming in the first half of June, in Germany and Europe, are from Frankfurt, Hanover, Majorca, Sofia, Prague, Billund, Nice, Manchester, Budapest, Dublin, Riga, Krakow, Bucharest and Kiev. From Munich, it is Münster/Osnabrück, Sylt, Rostock, Vienna, Zurich, Brussels and Majorca.

In the first half of June, the flight schedule also includes 19 long-haul destinations, fourteen more than in May. In total, Lufthansa, SWISS and Eurowings will thus be offering more than 70 weekly frequencies overseas until mid-June, almost four times as many as in May. Further resumption of Lufthansa long-haul flights is planned for the second half of June.

Lufthansa's long-haul resumption of flights from Frankfurt in detail (subject to possible travel restrictions):

Toronto, Mexico City, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, Bahrain, Johannesburg, Dubai and Mumbai. The destinations Newark/New York, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Bangkok will continue to be offered.

Lufthansa's long-haul return flights from Munich in detail (subject to possible travel restrictions): Chicago, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv.

All destinations can be booked on lufthansa.com.

The flight schedules of the Lufthansa Group airlines are closely coordinated, thus enabling reliable connectivity to European and intercontinental destinations once again.

Austrian Airlines has decided to extend the suspension of regular flight operations for a further week, from 31 May to 7 June. A resumption of service in June is being considered.

SWISS is planning to resume services to various destinations in the Mediterranean region, and other major European centres such as Paris, Brussels and Moscow will also be added to the programme.

In its long-haul operations, SWISS will again offer its passengers new intercontinental direct services in June, in addition to its three weekly services to New York / Newark (USA). The Swiss carrier plans to offer flights from Zurich to New York JFK, Chicago, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.

Eurowings had already announced last week that it would be expanding its basic program at the airports of Düsseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Hamburg and Stuttgart and gradually adding 15 further destinations within Europe from May onwards. With flights to Spain, Greece, Portugal and Croatia, the focus is on destinations in the Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the island of Mallorca will again be offered from several German Eurowings gateways

Brussels Airlines plans to resume its flight operations with a reduced network offer as from 15 June

When planning their trip, customers should consider the current entry and quarantine regulations of the respective destinations. Throughout the entire trip, restrictions may be imposed due to stricter hygiene and security regulations, for example due to longer waiting times at airport security checkpoints. The catering services on board will also remain restricted until further notice.

In addition, passengers will continue to be asked to wear a nose-and-mouth cover on board during the entire journey.

CANCUN AND MADRID: AEROLINEAS ADDS NEW SPECIAL FLIGHTS



Aerolíneas Argentinas announced two new special flights from Cancun and with Madrid. The flight that operated on May 22 from Cancun returned to the country with 243 Argentine people while the flight that will be operated on May 28 to Madrid will carry more than 100 Spanish residents in the outbound segment and will reach the country early in the morning on May 30 with 243 Argentine people.

For the domestic network, in turn, flights were confirmed between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia for May 20, 23, 27 and 30 as well as between Ushuaia and Cordoba for May 25 and June 1. Said flights are operated upon request of the provincial government of Tierra del Fuego and their purpose is to secure connectivity between the continent and the insular province.

The company has requested all of its passengers to comply with the health protocols in place and to wear a mandatory surgical mask or a face mask at all times upon arrival at the airport.

In the aggregate, 82 special flights have been scheduled by Aerolíneas Argentinas since March 18, when regular international operations were suspended. In these flights, the Company has brought around 22,000 Argentine citizens back home. More than 2,000 foreign residents have also returned to their countries of residence since this possibility was authorized in some of the flights.

Regarding the special flights to Shanghai with the purpose of bringing medical supplies to fight the COVID-19, the 11th flight to Shanghai -of 17 flights that the company has scheduled- departed yesterday. Up to now, more than 140 tons of health supplies have been brought to the country in Aerolíneas Argentinas flights.



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