Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 7 to 13 Sept 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


United Airlines announced plans to expand its global route network with a new, nonstop daily service between South Africa and the United States. Starting in Spring 2021, the airline will become the only U.S. airline to operate between Johannesburg and New York/Newark. Together with the airline's existing seasonal three times weekly service between Cape Town and New York/Newark, United will offer more nonstop services from South Africa than any other U.S carrier.

"This new nonstop service will strengthen our international route network and provide our customers from South Africa with even greater travel choice and the possibility to connect via our New York/Newark hub to destinations across the Americas," said Marcel Fuchs, United's Managing Director International Sales. "Connecting Johannesburg to New York will open up new opportunities for both business and leisure travellers and help our customers in South Africa reconnect with friends and family around the world."

Located just 14 miles from Manhattan, Newark Liberty International Airport offers the fastest surface transfer journeys to many parts of the city, including the AirTrain service to New York Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, with a journey time of less than 30 minutes.

The new route is subject to government approval and tickets will be available for purchase on and the United app in the coming weeks.

United has served South Africa since 2019. In addition to the new service from Johannesburg to New York/Newark, United offers its customers from South Africa a seasonal three times weekly nonstop service from Cape Town to New York/Newark. Flights are conveniently timed to connect at United's New York/Newark hub with an extensive network of services to destinations throughout the Americas.

United's new service from Johannesburg to New York/Newark will be operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The revolutionary design of the Dreamliner offers customers many features for increased comfort, such as large windows, spacious overhead storage and modern LED lighting to simulate a full day, helping passengers adjust their internal clock on the trans-Atlantic flight. In addition, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and smoother ride help customers feel rested on arrival.


Air Mauritius is currently under voluntary administration. Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the Mauritian national carrier wishes to give itself the necessary breathing space and set the conducive conditions for restructuring opportunities in order to stay afloat. Sattar Hajee Abdoula, FCA and Arvindsingh K. Gokhool, FCCA have been appointed as voluntary administrators.

"At the outset, it is important to highlight that Air Mauritius has not filed for bankruptcy. Our objectives as Administrators are to safeguard the interests of the company and more importantly, reengineer its activities so that it can take off again once this crisis is over", says Sattar Hajee Abdoula.

"The national airline is a key player of the Mauritian economy and is part and parcel of its history. Air Mauritius is, in addition, a source of pride for the people of Mauritius and there is no doubt that as a country, we are all affected by this news. In such difficult times, it is essential that we get down to work without delay, along with all the partners of this industry to implement the measures deemed necessary to save the national airline", says Sattar Hajee Abdoula.

The administrators are currently working with the Management to ensure that Air Mauritius continues to operate and plan the phased resumption of operations. Air Mauritius will maintain planned humanitarian flights for the repatriation of stranded passengers, including Mauritian nationals, as well as for the carriage of important medical supplies.

The new flexible booking policies that have been published on the company's website are still valid for customers who have booked tickets or who are holders of vouchers for future travel. However, customers need to know that resumption of operations is subject to favourable evolution of the covid-19 situation and the lifting of travel restrictions by the authorities.


Ethiopian Airlines Group, the largest aviation group in Africa is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed a new passenger terminal at its hub Addis Ababa Bole International Airport with emphasis on Bio Security and Bio Safety measures.

The new terminal has check-in hall with sixty check-in counters, thirty self-check-in kiosks, ten self-bag drop/SBD/, sixteen immigration counters with more e-gate provisions, sixteen central security screening areas for departing passengers are the new faces of the airport. In addition, it has three contact gates for wide body aircraft along with ten remote contact gates with people mover - travellator, escalator and panoramic lifts. It will house thirty-two arrival immigration counters with eight e-gate provisions at the mezzanine floor level.

Regarding the expanded infrastructure, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines remarked, "I am very pleased to witness the realization of a brand-new terminal at our Hub. While Addis Ababa Bole International Airport has overtaken Dubai to become the largest gateway to Africa last year, the new terminal will play a key role in cementing that position. What makes the new terminal unique is that it's the first terminal in the world to be completed after Covid-19. It was designed, not re-purposed, with Bio safety and Bio security in mind. I'm sure our esteemed customers will highly appreciate that. "

Aviation infrastructure expansion is one of the core pillars of Ethiopian's Vision 2025. Ethiopian is continuously working on expanding airport facilities. The features of the new airport play a key role in protecting passengers' and employees' safety as airport experience becomes contactless.


Emirates has announced it will resume passenger services to Lagos (7 September) and Abuja (9 September) in Nigeria. The resumption of flights to both Nigerian cities takes Emirates' African network to 13 destinations, as the airline works hard to help its customers travel safely and confidently, implementing industry-leading health and safety measures at all points of the travel journey.

Flights to Lagos will operate four times a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Flights to/from Abuja will operate as a daily service. Tickets are open for booking on or via travel agents.

Passengers travelling from both cities in Nigeria to the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific can enjoy safe and convenient connections via Dubai, and customers can stop over or travel to Dubai as the city has re-opened for international business and leisure visitors.

Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving to Dubai (and the UAE), including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from.


Virgin Atlantic has announced the completion of the £1.2bn private-only solvent recapitalisation of the airline and holiday business. Its restructuring plan has now been sanctioned by the English High Court under Part 26A of the UK Companies Act 2006, and formally recognised in the US court. This final step in the legal process paves the way for the Company to continue its efforts to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis a sustainably profitable airline.

Achieving this significant milestone puts Virgin Atlantic in a position to rebuild its balance sheet, restore customer confidence and welcome passengers back to the skies, safely, as soon as they are ready to travel. However, the devastating impact of Covid-19 on global aviation continues unabated and the airline must take further steps to ensure survival.

The solvent recapitalisation is a major step forward in securing the future of Virgin Atlantic

Now the restructuring plan has been formally sanctioned by the UK court and given full force and effect in the US, the airline will implement its Restructuring Plan with the support of Virgin Group and Delta, existing creditors and new private investors, keeping Virgin Atlantic flying and providing essential competition and connectivity to customers.

The plan delivers a refinancing package worth c.£1.2bn over the next 18 months in addition to the self-help measures already taken: £280m in cost savings per year, £880m reduction in fleet capex in the next five years.

Shareholders Virgin Group and Delta are providing c.£600m in support over the life of the plan, including a £200m investment from Virgin Group and the deferral of c.£400m of shareholder payments such as brand fees and Joint Venture related costs.

The airline continues to have the support of credit card acquirers (Merchant Service Providers) Lloyd's Cardnet, First Data and American Express.

Davidson Kempner Capital Management, a global institutional investment management firm, is providing £170m of secured financing and the airline's largest creditors and suppliers are contributing an additional £450m by way of deferrals


Ryanair also released its Aug 'Rate My Flight' customer experience scores, which show 91% of nearly 90,000 respondents rated their flight 'Excellent/Very Good/Good', with high ratings for crew friendliness (94%), onboard service (92%), range of food & drink (85%), and boarding (88%).

Ryanair's Dara Brady said: "Ryanair Group Airlines carried 7m customers in August and we are pleased that over 97% of our flights arrived on-time.

We're delighted that 91% of customers surveyed (nearly 90k), who have been flying with our new health and safety guidelines, rated their Ryanair flight in August as 'Excellent/Very Good /Good' using Ryanair's Rate My Flight feature, which allows all customers to provide real-time reviews of their flights via the Ryanair app and email. We welcome this feedback, which encourages us to continuously improve our customer service.

This is particularly important feedback during these times of Covid, when we are regularly assessing the effectiveness of our new health and safety measures and as we continue to work with our people to ensure our guidelines are followed."


Just over 516,000 passengers travelled through Dublin Airport in August, an 85% decline compared to the same month last year, as COVID-19 continued to have a very significant impact on traffic numbers.

Passenger volumes to and from continental Europe fell by 80%, as more than 374,000 people travelled to and from European destinations last month.

UK traffic declined by 89% compared to last August, as 105,000 passengers travelled to and from Britain during the month.

Passenger volumes to and from North America decreased by 95%, as just over than 25,400 passengers travelled on transatlantic routes during August.

Other international passenger traffic to the Middle East fell by 93%, with just over 8,000 passengers travelling last month. The number of passengers on domestic routes fell by 69%, as just over 3,800 people took domestic flights in August.

Just over 6.2 million passengers have travelled through Dublin Airport between January and August, a 72% decrease compared to the same period last year.

The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in 16.1 million fewer passengers using Dublin Airport so far this year.


Aeroflot in September will resume international flights to the Dubai, Cairo and Malé (Maldives).

Flights to Cairo will resume from 9 September on the following schedule: Flight SU400 Sheremetyevo-Cairo on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Return flight SU401 Cairo-Sheremetyevo on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Flights to Malé will resume from 10 September on the following schedule: Flight SU0322 Sheremetyevo-Malé on Thursdays and Sundays. Return flight SU0323 Malé- Sheremetyevo on Fridays and Sundays.

Flights to Dubai will resume from 11 September on the following schedule: Flight SU0522 Sheremetyevo-Dubai on Fridays and Saturdays in September, and on Fridays and Sundays in October. Return flight SU0523 Dubai-Sheremetyevo on Saturdays and Sundays. The frequency of flights is subject to change as Aeroflot's international flight schedule is restored.


China Airlines is continuing to assess travel demand as well as national border restrictions and quarantine policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from September, passenger services will resume for Northeast Asian routes such as Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya. More flights will also be added to Tokyo (NRT) and Seoul (ICN) routes.

In October, flight frequency will be increased for Southeast Asian destinations including Bangkok, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Manila, Phnom Penh and Yangon. Daily passenger services will also operate on the Taipei (Taoyuan)-Jakarta route.

On North American routes, flight frequency is being increased in response to travel demand for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and New York. On European routes, services will be available for Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London (LHR). Passenger services are available for Oceania routes such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Flights on routes such as Hong Kong, Shanghai (PVG), Beijing, Xiamen and Chengdu are also available.


As part of its preparations for the ramp up of passenger flights, Dubai Airports has announced a strategic partnership with OSN, the region's leading entertainment provider, to give passengers at Dubai International (DXB) complimentary access to OSN's new streaming app.

As the top ranked international airport welcomes customers back through its doors following the resumption of scheduled services, the partnership has been developed to provide premium and exclusive entertainment to travellers on their journey through DXB.

Eugene Barry, Executive Vice President of Commercial at Dubai Airports said of the partnership; "We are responding to the changing behaviour and expectations of our customers, and the demand for quality, exclusive digital content is a trend that we see growing in importance. We are delighted to partner with one of the region's most popular online entertainment providers and are excited to offer OSN's new digital platform to our travellers. The OSN streaming app, now available to all DXB customers, continues to build on the capabilities of our popular WOW-Fi platform, and further strengthens our commitment to deliver a unique customer experience at DXB."

The streaming service provides exclusive access to original content from DISNEY+, HBO, Universal, and many other major Hollywood studios in addition to Arabic and documentaries.

OSN's enviable streaming library also boasts thousands of hours of universally acclaimed blockbuster movies, trending series, box-sets, kids' content, award winning documentaries and more. Travellers will be able to connect to OSN's new streaming app through a link on the DXB super-fast WOW-FI and will have complimentary access for 24 hours.

"DXB is the busiest international airport in the world and we are thrilled to be offering world-class entertainment on our OSN streaming service to every traveller passing through the airport. We saw a great strategic fit in this partnership, reflecting our mutual commitment to excellence, growth and bigger reach across the Middle East and North Africa," said Zahra Zayat, Senior Vice President, Telco & OTT at OSN. "Travel and content consumption complement one another, and through this collaboration, we will be able to provide travellers with access to premium content and showcase our platform. If you are one of those who arrive at the airport early, or if you're looking to pass the time in transit, be sure that you will find plenty of options to choose from through our OSN streaming app."

The service, in addition to DXB's extensive dining, retail and leisure offerings further reinforces the airport's position as the world's leading airport for international passengers.

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