Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 23 Nov to 2 Dec 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


In just a few days' time, Airlink, the privately-owned and independent regional airline, will reconnect South Africa with Tanzania when it launches its first scheduled passenger flights between Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam on 01 December 2020.

"Airlink is excited looking forward to re-establishing direct services between the two countries - and flying our brand-new colours - on what will be our newest route. Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg share very special historical, political and economically vital commercial bonds as gateways for trade, commerce, business travel and tourism in Tanzania and South Africa," said Airlink CEO, Rodger Foster.

The two countries have been without direct air connectivity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and imposition of travel restrictions, which are currently being relaxed.

The new services to and from Dar es Salaam will provide travellers with seamless connectivity onto Airlink's new direct flights linking Johannesburg with Cape Town and with Durban. Connections are also available to Airlink's other South African destinations, such as Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein and others. Airlink is rebuilding and expanding its network with the resumption and addition of services to destinations throughout the SADC region, all reachable with Airlink connections via its hub at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Airlink's great value for money Economy Class fares include a 20kg free economy class checked in luggage allowance plus a 15kg sporting equipment allowance. Onboard, our customers are treated to a complimentary light meal, refreshments, generous leg room and a choice of aisle or window seat (our flights do not have middle seats).

Airlink's intra-continental Business Class service is available on selected flights operated by our state-of-the-art Embraer E-jets, with wide seats arranged in a two plus one abreast configuration with plenty of legroom between each row. Our service on these flights includes complimentary meals and beverages, a 30kg check-in luggage allowance and priority boarding.


From 9 December, Comair plans to begin serving all the domestic British Airways' routes it previously operated. Regional services will be reintroduced as it ramps up to full operations over the next few months.

"With reservations for the British Airways' flights open we're now able to offer bookings on a considerably expanded schedule. As well as giving customers the choice of booking on either of our airline brands and a greater range of competitive fares, they now also have the option of booking in business class," says Glenn Orsmond, representing the Comair Rescue Consortium.

The reintroduction of British Airways' (operated by Comair) flights will also see the reopening of the popular, award-winning SLOW lounges. Initially the domestic lounges at King Shaka International, Cape Town International and OR Tambo International will open. The other lounges will reopen as the flight schedule expands.

Comair introduced the British Airways' brand to domestic and regional routes in South and Southern Africa in 1996 when it signed a franchise agreement with the UK's largest carrier. It has been British Airways' most successful franchise.

"British Airways' ongoing support is a huge vote of confidence in the future of Comair," says Orsmond.

Discovery Vitality has also resumed its agreement with as has FNB's eBucks rewards programme arrangement with Comair.

Orsmond says that Comair will initially operate a fleet of fifteen aircraft across both airline brands gradually increasing as the remainder of the fleet returns to service over the next few months.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data revealing that the COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on international connectivity, shaking up the rankings of the world's most connected cities.

London, the world's number one most connected city in September 2019, has seen a 67% decline in connectivity. By September 2020, it had fallen to number eight. Shanghai is now the top ranked city for connectivity with the top four most connected cities all in China-Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. New York (-66% fall in connectivity), Tokyo (-65%), Bangkok (-81%), Hong Kong (-81%) and Seoul (-69%) have all exited the top ten.

The study reveals that cities with large numbers of domestic connections now dominate, showing the extent to which international connectivity has been shut down.

"The dramatic shift in the connectivity rankings demonstrates the scale at which the world's connectivity has been re-ordered over the last months. But the important point is that rankings did not shift because of any improvement in connectivity. That declined overall in all markets. The rankings shifted because the scale of the decline was greater for some cities than others. There are no winners, just some players that suffered fewer injuries. In a short period of time we have undone a century of progress in bringing people together and connecting markets. The message we must take from this study is the urgent need to re-build the global air transport network," said Sebastian Mikosz, IATA's Senior Vice President for Member External Relations.

IATA's 76th Annual General Meeting called on governments to safely re-open borders using testing. "The systematic testing of travellers is the immediate solution to rebuilding the connectivity that we have lost. The technology exists. The guidelines for implementation have been developed. Now we need to implement, before the damage to the global air transport network becomes irreparable," said Mikosz.

Air transport is a major engine of the global economy. In normal times some 88 million jobs and $3.5 trillion in GDP is supported by aviation. More than half of this employment and economic value is at risk from the collapse in global air travel demand. "Governments must realize that there are major consequences for peoples' lives and livelihoods. At least 46 million jobs supported by air transport are in peril. And the strength of the economic recovery from COVID-19 will be severely compromised without the support of a functioning air transport network," said Mikosz.

IATA's air connectivity index measures how well connected a country's cities are to other cities around the world, which is critical for trade, tourism, investment and other economic flows. It is a composite measure reflecting the number of?seats flown to?the destinations served from a country's major airports and?the economic importance of those?destinations.

Africa suffered a 93% decline in connectivity. Ethiopia managed to buck the trend. During the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, Ethiopia maintained connections with 88 international destinations. Many aviation markets reliant on tourism, such as Egypt, South Africa and Morocco, were particularly severely impacted.

Asia-Pacific saw a 76% decline in connectivity. Stronger domestic aviation markets, such as China, Japan and South Korea performed better among the most connected countries in the region. Despite the relatively large domestic aviation market, Thailand was severely impacted perhaps because of the country's high reliance on international tourism.

Europe experienced a 93% fall in connectivity. European countries saw significant declines across most markets, although Russian connectivity has held up better than Western European countries.

Middle East countries saw connectivity decline by 88%. With the exception of Qatar, connectivity levels reduced by more than 85% for the five most connected countries in the region. Despite border closures, Qatar allowed passengers to transit between flights. It was also an important hub for air cargo.

North American connectivity declined 73%. Canada's connectivity (-85% decline) was hit more heavily than the United States (-72%). In part, this reflects the large domestic aviation market in the United States, which despite a significant passenger decline, has continued to support connectivity.

Latin America suffered a 91% collapse in connectivity. Mexico and Chile performed relatively better than the other most connected countries, perhaps due to the timing of domestic lockdowns in these countries and how strictly they were enforced.


On 17 November 1995, the GE90 entered service on the Boeing 777, powering a British Airways flight between London and Dubai. The GE90 engine has been among the most reliable in the industry with a world class dispatch reliability rate of 99.97 percent. In July, the engine family surpassed 100 million flight hours.

"We are excited to celebrate another GE90 milestone and would like to congratulate everyone involved in the engine's success," said Mike Kauffman, GE Aviation's GE90 program general manager. "We continue to deliver these extremely reliable engines and our dedicated product support team will maintain the GE90 for many years to come, providing maximum value throughout its lifecycle."

GE has delivered more than 2,800 GE90 -94B and upgraded -115B engines to 70 operators around the world. The engine family powers all Boeing 777 models and is the exclusive powerplant on the 777-300ER, -200LR, and 777F.

The GE90 engine faces some of the toughest demands daily on a high-thrust commercial jet engine. Despite this, the engine has achieved the lowest maintenance burden to date through service bulletin terminating action acceleration and analytics-based field programs.

Its architecture and mechanical design have influenced every GE and CFM turbofan over the last 20 years, from the popular GEnx and record-selling CFM LEAP engine to the Passport for corporate jets and the next generation GE9X engine for the Boeing 777X.


American Airlines is giving customers complete flexibility when they travel on American. Customers can also book tickets through reservations with no service charge.

"We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American," said American's Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. "By eliminating change fees, we're giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel."

Effective immediately, American will eliminate change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin (except Basic Economy) tickets for all long-haul international flying when travel originates in North or South America. This new policy matches American's previous announcement to get rid of change fees on most domestic and short-haul international flying.

As a reminder, American allows customers to keep the full value of eligible tickets if they change their travel plans prior to their scheduled travel. Although customers will have to pay the fare difference for a new flight, customers will not lose their ticket value if the new flight is less expensive.

Customers will no longer pay a service charge when booking a ticket through reservations. The service charge had been waived during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but will be eliminated going forward.

American is dedicated to providing customers flexibility during this uncertain time. Recently, the airline removed reinstatement fees on award tickets and began offering customers free same-day standby on earlier flights. And AAdvantage members who have achieved Elite status now receive the benefits, such as upgrades, Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seating and same day flight changes, that they have earned no matter what ticket they purchase.


Acting together within the ACFA (Air Cargo France Association), the entire Cargo community at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Europe's leading airport for air freight activities, is rallying round massively to prepare for the supply and distribution of future Covid-19 vaccines, once these have been approved and are ready to be delivered.

ACFA, a professional association bringing together all cargo operators at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (airport platform, freight forwarders, handlers, express operators and airlines) as well as the French state services (delegation of the Prefecture of Police for the safety and security of Paris airports, Directorate General of Customs and Excise, French Civil Aviation Authority) has already begun studying and working on identifying the main actions to be implemented to ensure that the airport will play an exemplary role in the supply and distribution of future Covid-19 vaccines.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, freight and logistics players at Paris-Charles de Gaulle have been actively committed to ensuring the continuity of cargo activity and the transport of foodstuff and essential goods for the country's economy: medical equipment and materials, food products, components and spare parts for industries.

Over the past years, several major operators in Cargo city at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport have received CEIV Pharma (Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators) certification, which has become the international standard in the transportation of pharmaceutical products and especially vaccines.

ACFA is currently working on new areas for improvement in order to increase the airport's level of performance in managing vaccine flows, with two main watchwords: speed and safety.

Speed: to minimize transit time of vaccines at the airport. In this context, discussions are mainly focused on customs clearance procedures and on the overall reduction of vaccine transit time between road trucks and planes; Safety: operations are carried out by pharmaceutical product logistics specialists who have developed a long-standing and worldwide expertise.

Thanks to their GDP (Good Distribution Practices) certifications issued by the European Medicines Agency or PHARMA CEIV (Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators) issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport's operators guarantee safe treatment that complies with the highest standards in the pharmaceutical sector.

With more than 3,500 sq. m of warehouses dedicated to the storage of heat-sensitive products between +2 癮nd +8 (Celsius), Paris-Charles de Gaulle offers state-of-the-art facilities that guarantee optimal storage, even if some vaccines could be transported by planes in specific and autonomous containers or packaging allowing temperature to be kept at -70 or even -80 Celsius degree, for a period of up to ten days.


Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance, has completed development of an interoperable biometric identity and identification platform that will significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer programme customers of Star Alliance member airlines.

The Star Alliance Biometrics platform advances the vision of Star Alliance member airlines of delivering a seamless customer journey, while strengthening loyalty value proposition within its travel ecosystem.

Lufthansa Group (LHG) airlines, Lufthansa (a founding member of Star Alliance) and SWISS will be the first to use Star Alliance Biometrics for selected flights starting in November. Specific infrastructure is being installed at hub airports Frankfurt and Munich, reaping operational benefits at both locations.

Members of the Lufthansa and SWISS Miles & More Frequent Flyer Program who opt-in to biometrics will be able to pass through both security access and boarding gates in a touchless manner, an important health and hygiene safety measure in times of COVID-19.

In keeping with the requirement to wear masks in the airport terminal, it is not required to remove the mask for the biometric identity check. The identification process works for passengers wearing masks.

The Star Alliance Biometrics service is built upon NEC Corporation's NEC I:Delight biometric and identity management platform software. The secure service is available at no cost to customers of the Miles & More program who have consented to share their biometric data with stakeholders of their choice during travel.


Delta will continue delivering on its industry-leading commitment to provide more space for customers as the only U.S. airline blocking middle seats for flights departing now through March 30, 2021.

As more medical experts agree on the safety of air travel thanks to the multiple layers of protection provided under the Delta CareStandard, blocking seats into spring 2021 provides added confidence and reassurance for customers booking future travel plans.

"Several independent studies have validated the effectiveness of the Delta CareStandard's multi-layered protection, like advanced ventilation and an extensive cleaning regimen, which together significantly reduce the risk of flight-related transmission," said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer. "However, we recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind. We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us."

The health and safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority. The Delta CareStandard encompasses more than 100 protective measures, such as sanitizing every flight, a comprehensive employee COVID testing program, and the use of industrial-grade HEPA filters that extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses.


Emirates has re-launched its Dubai Connect offer which gives customers transiting through its hub a complimentary hotel stay in Dubai. The offer is available to customers booked in all classes with a best connection time that exceeds 10 hours. Dubai Connect ensures that travelling through Emirates' hub is seamless despite the altered flight schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emirates now serves over 90 destinations across six continents across the globe, connecting customers to key destinations across Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Australasia with one convenient stop in Dubai.

With Dubai Connect, Emirates passengers will receive a complimentary night's stay in a 4 or 5-star hotel, ground transfers to and from the airport, meals at the hotel as well as UAE visa on arrival where required. The service aims to provide customers whose best connection time is between 10 and 24 hours, a more convenient travel journey.

Emirates ensures all its customers are well catered for. Those who qualify for Dubai Connect but are unable to leave the airport, will be given access to the Emirates Dubai Connect airport lounge to unwind and relax.

Customers with new or existing bookings, travelling from 1 December 2020 are eligible for the offer. Terms and conditions apply, for more information visit: Dubai Connect.

Dubai is open to visitors and Dubai Connect lets them explore the bustling city on the way to their final destination at no additional cost. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage attractions to world class hospitality and leisure facilities, Dubai has something to offer at any time of day and for any type of traveller.

Fly better on Emirates and enjoy over 4,500 channels of entertainment on ice - the airline's award-winning inflight entertainment system. Passengers across all classes will enjoy regionally inspired meals and complimentary beverages. The airline provides generous baggage allowance; Economy Class passengers can enjoy up to 35 kgs, while Business Class passengers can enjoy up to 40 kgs and First Class passengers can enjoy up to 50 kgs.

Dubai Connect is part of Emirates' continued investment in product and service to provide an unmatched travel experience. In the last month, the airline has introduced other services including self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at Dubai International Airport and onboard enhancements for a more seamless journey.


Qatar Airways, Official Partner and the Official Airline of FIFA, today unveiled a specially-branded Boeing 777 aircraft painted in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM livery, to mark two years to go until the tournament kicks off on 21 November 2022.

The bespoke aircraft, which features distinctive FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM branding, was hand-painted to commemorate the airline's partnership with FIFA. More aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet will feature the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM livery and will visit several destinations in the network.

The Boeing 777-300ER will enter service on 21 November operating flights QR095 and QR096 between Doha and Zurich. The inaugural route of the bespoke aircraft further reiterates the airline's commitment to the FIFA partnership by flying to the home of FIFA in Switzerland on this significant date.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "We are tremendously excited to celebrate our partnership with FIFA and Qatar's status as host of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM by introducing this unique aircraft to our fleet. As Official Partner and Official Airline of FIFA, we can feel the excitement building with two years to go until we will welcome the world to our beautiful country.

"Qatar's readiness to host FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM is evident all around us. At Qatar Airways, our network recently expanded to 100 destinations, and will further grow to more than 125 destinations by March 2021, with an increasing frequency enabling our passengers to travel when they want across the globe, safely and reliably. At Hamad International Airport, Official Airport Partner for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, preparations for the expected traffic growth are well underway. The airport expansion project will increase capacity to more than 58 million passengers annually by 2022."

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications, Ms. Salam Al Shawa, added: "Qatar Airways is proud to continue its journey supporting FIFA tournaments and with FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM now just two years away, we are especially excited to reveal this beautiful aircraft."

Qatar Airways, in partnership with Qatar Airways Holidays, will soon launch bespoke travel packages to visit Qatar for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM.


Aeroflot PJSC (Moscow Exchange ticker: AFLT) announced operating results for Aeroflot Group ("the Group") and Aeroflot - Russian Airlines ("the Company") for October and 10M 2020[1].

In 10M 2020, Aeroflot Group carried 25.8 million passengers, 50.3% down year-on-year. Aeroflot airline carried 12.7 million passengers, a year-on-year decrease of 59.8%.

Group and Company RPKs decreased by 55.6% and 63.7% year-on-year, respectively. ASKs decreased by 50.2% year-on-year for the Group and by 56.6% year-on-year for the Company. The passenger load factor decreased by 9.0 p.p. year-on-year to 73.8% for Aeroflot Group and decreased by 13.1 p.p. to 67.1% for Aeroflot airline.

In October 2020, Aeroflot Group carried 2.7 million passengers, a year-on-year decrease of 47.1%. Aeroflot airline carried 1.1 million passengers, a year-on-year decrease of 65.8%.

Group and Company RPKs were down 58.2% and 72.6% year-on-year, respectively. ASKs decreased by 55.6% for Aeroflot Group and by 68.8% for Aeroflot airline. Aeroflot Group's passenger load factor was 78.0%, representing a 4.7 percentage point decrease versus the same period a year earlier. The passenger load factor at Aeroflot - Russian Airlines decreased by 9.7 percentage points year-on-year to 70.2%.

In October 2020, Aeroflot Group continued to restore its domestic traffic volumes and partially restore international flights. In addition to flights to Turkey, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, due to regulatory approval, flights to Seoul (South Korea) and Belgrade (Serbia) were added with limited frequency. In November, flights to Tokyo (Japan) have also resumed with limited frequency.

There were no changes in Aeroflot Group fleet in October 2020. As of 31 October 2020, Group and Company fleet had 357 and 244 aircraft, respectively.


The Star Alliance Lounge Los Angeles received the accolade as North America's Leading Airport Lounge in this year's World Travel Awards. The annual distinction is based on a worldwide poll of qualified executives working within travel and tourism and the consumer travel buyer.

Recognition of the Star Alliance branded lounge at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International Terminal is becoming a regular occurrence, with the Air New Zealand operated facility having won continuous awards as World's Best Airline Alliance Lounge as well.

"We are honoured to receive this award," says Star Alliance Vice President Customer Experience Christian Draeger. "It is a recognition of the very high design and customer service standards that we deliver with our eight branded lounges around the world and I would like to extend my thanks to our customers and industry partners for their continued trust in our product."

Graham Cooke, Founder, World Travel Awards, said "the World Travel Awards 2020 programme received a record number of votes cast by the public. This shows that the appetite for travel and tourism has never been stronger and bodes well for the industry's future as the global recovery begins."

Mr. Draeger added, "As the demand of air travel returns, we can assure customers that when our branded lounges re-open, they will ascribe to the highest health and hygiene safety standards. Customers will be able to enjoy premium services in a safe and exclusive environment."

Besides Los Angeles (LAX), Star Alliance offered branded lounges in Amsterdam (AMS), Buenos Aires (EZE), Nagoya (NGO), Paris (CDG), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Rome (FCO) and S鉶 Paulo (GRU).


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the Boeing 737 MAX, giving the approval to all airlines, including Alaska, to begin the process of bringing the aircraft back into service. Our first aircraft, a MAX 9 model, is currently scheduled for delivery in early 2021 and will begin passenger service in March 2021.

Before the MAX is added to our fleet, our team of pilots, maintenance technicians and safety experts will put the plane through its paces - flying more than 19,000 miles and over 50 flight hours to test the aircraft. We will activate our training programs and make sure our employees are ready. We've been closely testing, verifying and implementing all the necessary processes to ensure the MAX aircraft meets our high safety standards.

At Alaska, safety is always priority number one. If an aircraft is not safe, we won't fly it.

There is nothing more important than the safety of everyone on board every aircraft we fly. Safety is everything. "This indicates a link to an external site that may not follow the same accessibility or privacy policies as Alaska Airlines. By selecting a partner link you agree to share your data with these sites."

When we talk about safety, we mean it. Each of our?employees?is empowered?to stop?any part of our operation if something isn't right. We call it "Ready,?SAFE,?Go."?Before we do anything, we take a moment to check whether everyone is ready, we make sure we're being safe and only then do we go.

Alaska manages safety through our Safety Management System (SMS). We were the first major U.S. airline to receive FAA validation and acceptance of our SMS in 2016, even before it became required in 2018. It helps us focus on safety - every day. Rather than rely on a separate "safety manager" or "safety department," our SMS empowers employees at all levels to participate in it and improve the process.

Alaska?will fly the Boeing 737 MAX only after?our own assessments, verifications and internal reviews?determine that?the aircraft?is?safe throughout our network for our guests and our crews. Teams from divisions all across Alaska are working on the entry into service requirements for the MAX.?

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