Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 7 to 13 June 2021

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein



TAKATSO CONSORTIUM AND SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT PARTNER TO RELAUNCH SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS



Following the announcement by the Honourable Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, the Takatso Consortium has expressed its delight and commitment in being selected as the Preferred Strategic Equity Partner (SEP) for South African Airways (SAA).

The Consortium comprises Harith General Partners, a leading pan African investor in African infrastructure, and aviation group Global Aviation. The partnership between the Consortium and the SA Government aims to build an iconic national brand and a sustainable, world-class pan African airline.

Harith co-founder and Consortium Chair Tshepo Mahloele said the Consortium has the experience, expertise, and capital to transform SAA into a substantial operating business in its own right.

"The partnership represents a robust, exciting South African-bred solution. Harith, as owners of Lanseria International Airport, has significant experience in the transport infrastructure and aviation sectors. We have deployed more than a billion dollars into a portfolio of critical infrastructure assets across the African continent that support regional economies."

"Global's operating model is unique, highly efficient and fit for purpose for a newly launched airline. The Consortium has empowerment at its heart and a unique blend of skills and experience," he said.

Takatso CEO, former Comair Co-CEO and recently co-founder of Global's airline LIFT, Gidon Novick said he was confident that SAA could be built into an efficient, customer obsessed and innovative airline that serves as a catalyst for growth in the South African economy, particularly
tourism.

"COVID has created a unique set of circumstances for the industry. There are incredible skills and talent available right here in South Africa as well as an abundance of low-priced aircraft available globally - both critical ingredients for a successful airline, Transformation will be core to SAA, including accelerated training and promotion of qualified black pilots and a broadbased employee incentive scheme," he said.

The Takatso Consortium will own 51% of the airline and the Department of Public Enterprises 49%. The intention is to list the airline in the future as one way of addressing future funding requirements and to enable all South Africans to take part in its success.

A due diligence exercise will now get under way. Once completed, further details will be outlined on key issues such as the route network rollout, fleet selection, leadership team, transformation, brand relaunch, technology, SAA's subsidiaries, global partnerships and Voyager.

AIRLINK LAUNCHES JOHANNESBURG-ENTEBBE
SERVICE



Airlink, the independent Southern African regional airline, will add another new route to its expanding intra-Africa network in the coming weeks with the launch of its Johannesburg-Entebbe service. Flights on the route will operate four times a week from 19 July 2021, connecting with Airlink's domestic and regional network to and from various Southern African destinations.

"Entebbe, which is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, serves Kampala, which is Uganda's economic and trading hub, but also an important gateway to the Eastern Africa economic community and the Great Lakes region, which represents a significant market. Our flights will enable and strengthen closer relations and activity between the Southern and Eastern Africa blocs and will also make it possible for tourists to explore and experience the diverse and rich array of travel experiences of both regions," explains Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

"With our modern fleet and strict compliance with bio-safety measures, Airlink is able to provide safe air travel and support the revival of tourism and economic activity, which are vital for creating and sustaining jobs and livelihoods in Uganda and South Africa," he added.

Airlink's great value for money 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, comfort with generous leg room and a choice of aisle or window seat (our flights do not have middle seats). Customers also have the freedom to book business class on this route and enjoy Airlink's intra-continental Business Class service available on the state-of-the-art Embraer E-jet, The cabin offers six business class seats, generous pitch with plenty legroom and wide seats arranged in a two-plus-one abreast configuration. Onboard business class service on these flights includes complimentary meals and beverages, a 30kg check-in luggage allowance, priority boarding and lounge access at selected airports.

AIRLINK IMPORTANT NOTE FOR TRAVELLERS TO ZAMBIA

Airlink, the independent Southern African regional airline, advises travellers to Zambia that new restrictions have been introduced, which may affect their travel plans.

With immediate effect, all travellers must test negative for COVID-19 in a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure to Zambia. Travellers will be required to present the negative test result certificate upon check-in for their flight to Zambia. Children younger than five years are exempt from this requirement.

Travellers are also required to complete a Travel Health Questionnaire and present it upon arrival, where they will also be screened. The Traveller Health Questionnaire form is available on www.flyairlink.com on the Plan Your Travel - COVID-19 Travel Update page.

Zambia's Port Health authorities are performing additional swab tests on all non-vaccinated travellers before they are permitted to leave the airports. The authorities will contact any travellers who test positive for COVID-19 and may require affected travellers to self-isolate or be confined to quarantine for 14 days.

"Airlink supports all efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and with our own stringent application of globally-recommended health security measures, we have successfully demonstrated to health authorities and our customers that air travel on Airlink flights is safe. Similarly, we have helped countries take full advantage of the catalytic benefits that air connectivity offers for the recovery and growth of their economies," said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

IATA-AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS MUST NOT SUFFER FROM POLITICAL INTERFERENCE



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to maintain the critical separation between politics and aviation safety issues.

The call followed the latest development in events following the incident when Ryanair FR4978 was intercepted over Belarus Airspace and forced to land in Minsk. On 2 June EASA replaced its recommendation (Safety Information Bulletin) for European airlines to carefully assess the risk of flying in Belarus airspace with a blanket prohibition (Safety Directive) on European aircraft entering Belarus airspace.

"Aviation safety must never be politicized. IATA condemned the actions of the Belarus government and called for an independent investigation. Banning European aircraft from using Belarusian airspace with a Safety Directive is also a politicization of aviation safety. This is a retrograde and disappointing development. EASA should rescind its prohibition and allow airlines to manage safety as they do each and every day-with their normal operational risk assessments.

"Two wrongs do not make a right. Politics should never interfere with the safe operation of aircraft and politicians should never use aviation safety as a cover to pursue political or diplomatic agendas," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

Background

On 23 May 2021, Ryanair flight FR4978, while overflying Belarus en-route from Athens to its final destination, Vilnius, was made to divert and land in Minsk by Belarusian authorities.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, EASA issued a Safety Information Bulletin advising airlines to avoid operations in Belarusian airspace. This did not ban European aircraft from using the airspace but required any airline that continued to do so to satisfy themselves that the safety of the aircraft, passengers and crew was not at risk. IATA supported this measure as a proportionate response to the actions of the Government of Belarus.

Several airlines have continued to use Belarusian airspace. IATA supports their decision to do so.

On 27 May 2021, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation into the Belarus incident which IATA fully supports.

On 2 June, after consulting with the EASA Member States and the European Commission, EASA issued a Safety Directive which effectively bans airlines from using Belarusian airspace. IATA does not support this action as it, in effect, politicizes air safety.

ONEWORLD, SKYTEAM AND STAR ALLIANCE URGE UNIVERSAL TRAVEL STANDARDS



To facilitate the safe restart of international travel and restore the value contributed by travel and tourism to the world's economy, the three global airline alliances oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are calling on G7 governments, at their upcoming leadership summit on June 11-13, to agree on a common set of travel and health standards to enable the safe reopening of borders.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the travel and tourism sector, which has long been a key contributor to many economies. A recent estimate by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) showed that international tourism declined by around 80% in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, tourism contributed more than 4% of GDP for the average OECD country, with the World Travel and Tourism Council estimating up to 174 million jobs at risk globally.

In unison, the CEOs of the three global alliances - Kristin Colvile at SkyTeam, Rob Gurney for oneworld, and Jeffrey Goh of Star Alliance - said: "International air travel and tourism are vital to the global economy. With considerable data now available to support government decisions in managing risks, decisive action from G7 members to open borders and support clear, consistent and data-driven measures, would remove uncertainty, particularly around testing and quarantine."

While vaccination programs offer hope in some markets, varying - and often fast-changing - rules and procedures across countries and at different airport hubs, continue to create confusion and stress for customers and disrupt travel. To provide much-needed clarity, the alliances - which collectively represent almost two-thirds of global air capacity prior to COVID-19 - urge G7 governments to lead the world in aligning to the following travel measures to reconnect travellers with the world, safely and securely:

Fully vaccinated passengers should be exempt from quarantine. COVID-19 testing should be easily accessible, affordable and consistent. Connecting passengers at airports should not be subject to additional testing or quarantine restrictions at the point of transfer if remaining in the transit zone.

Further, the three global airline alliances support IATA's call for governments to adopt digital processes to manage travel health credentials including vaccine and test certificates, and for G7 member states to agree to common requirements and standards for health credentials as set out by the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization.

"Vaccination will have a key role in the restart of international air travel and tourism. We strongly advocate for governments to accept accredited vaccination as a safe and appropriate reason to avoid quarantines. In the meantime, while we wait for the global population to be substantially vaccinated, it is important to have robust and consistent testing protocols, along with interoperable digital solutions developed to facilitate the customer journey," said the three alliance CEOs.

UNITED ADDING SUPERSONIC SPEEDS WITH NEW AGREEMENT TO BUY AIRCRAFT FROM BOOM SUPERSONIC



United Airlines has announced a commercial agreement with Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic to add aircraft to its global fleet as well as a cooperative sustainability initiative - a move that facilitates a leap forward in returning supersonic speeds to aviation.

Under the terms of the agreement, United will purchase 15 of Boom's 'Overture' airliners, once Overture meets United's demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery. Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.

"United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today's advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes. Boom's vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry's most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travellers access to a stellar flight experience," United CEO Scott Kirby said. "Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we'll be able to do that on an even greater scale."

Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 - twice the speed of today's fastest airliners - Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time. Among the many future potential routes for United are Newark to London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours. Overture will also be designed with features such as in-seat entertainment screens, ample personal space and contactless technology. Working with Boom is another component of United's strategy to invest in innovative technologies that will build a more sustainable future of air travel.

"The world's first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world," said Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder and CEO. "United and Boom share a common purpose-to unite the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations."

ICAO CO2 STANDARDS USED FOR LATEST EASA AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION



Aircraft CO2 emissions standards adopted through ICAO have been applied by EASA for its latest type certificate issuance - for the new Airbus A330-941neo.

The new standards were adopted by countries through ICAO in 2017 and they became applicable globally as of January 2020.

"These ICAO requirements are designed to assure that the latest CO2 reduction technologies are included in all new aircraft type designs, a critical priority with respect to further reducing the impact of aviation on the global climate," emphasized ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu.

EASA's application of the new ICAO provisions assures the aircraft is compliant with the latest and most stringent environmental standards, addressing the full spectrum of aircraft impacts on the environment and the climate. The new requirements will also help to track the environmental gains achieved by the new aircraft and the benefits accrued via specific technology evolutions.

"The remarkable milestone this standard represents was only achievable thanks to the cooperation and strong support of our Member States, other international organizations and industry," commented ICAO's Deputy Director for Environmental protection, Jane Hupe.

ROLLS-ROYCE STARTS TESTING MOST POWERFUL HYBRID-ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEM IN AEROSPACE



Rolls-Royce has started testing the first elements of the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in aerospace at a newly-renovated testbed.

The tests are part of the 2.5 megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator programme for future regional aircraft.

Rolls-Royce has begun testing the AE2100 engine element and specialist controls and thermal management system, supported by a system integration generator at their Testbed 108 in Bristol, UK.

Later this year, a fully operational generator and a 3,000-volt power electronics system, currently completing testing at our facility in Trondheim, Norway, will be brought together to start full PGS1 system testing. The generator can be used either for hybrid-electric propulsion systems or as part of a "more-electric" system for larger aircraft.

PGS1 forms an important element of our sustainability strategy, which includes developing innovative electrical power and propulsion systems, as well as further improving gas turbine performance and promoting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels.

Alan Newby, Director Aerospace Technology and Future Programmes, Rolls-Royce, said: "This is an important milestone for us all at Rolls-Royce. We are bringing together a system that promises to be truly ground-breaking in the world of aviation. We know that in a post COVID-19 world, people will want to connect but do so more sustainably. Electrification offers a new way to power short-haul aircraft and we want to be at the forefront of pioneering this technology.

"Our PGS1 tests will lead the way in finding out what this new generation of hybrid-electric propulsion system is capable of delivering. For example, our generator is about the size of a beer keg but it needs to produce enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes and do so continuously. By doing these tests, we will be able to validate our digital modelling and find out precisely what is physically and technically possible."

LONDON CITY AIRPORT RECEIVES CAA AND PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND ACCREDITATION FOR NEW HEALTH MEASURES



As international travel ramps up from UK airports ahead of the summer, the health and safety measures in place at London City Airport have been formally approved as Covid-secure by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Public Health England (PHE), in line with the CART Take-Off guidelines set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

During a rigorous two-day assessment, which included a full audit of the passenger journey for both departure and arrival, CAA and PHE officials saw first-hand the range of health measures that the airport has put in place, including enhanced hygiene measures, support services to staff and processes to ensure passengers can move quickly, and safely, through the airport, while still delivering a great customer experience.

With the airport expected to offer flights to over 30 UK and European destinations this summer, the assessment also looked at London City's preparedness for a significant increase in passenger numbers.

To facilitate this, the airport's onsite testing centre will be expanded and offer all relevant tests for key international travel markets, with passengers able to pre-book £66 PCR tests for departure and arrival and same-day result LAMP tests available for £76.

MUNICH AIRPORT'S VIPWING CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY AND REOPENING



Exactly ten years ago - on June 1, 2011 - the VipWing at Munich Airport opened its doors for the first time to travellers who appreciate special service and exclusive attention. Due to the pandemic, the VIP Terminal had to remain closed for the past few months. As of today, the VipWing can welcome back its guests from all over the world in accordance with the current hygiene regulations.

With its light-flooded, spacious rooms, the exclusive VipWing has a total area of 1,700 square meters. Paying guests can take advantage of the offer regardless of their airline or booking class. The VIP service package includes, among other things, complete baggage and customs clearance, passport control and a limousine service between the VIP Terminal and the aircraft. Multilingual personal assistants provide all-round support and organize all flight-related processes such as immigration formalities, check-in, baggage handling, tax refunds and customs clearance, while guests relax in the VipWing.

The offering includes access to the open-air beer garden, the buffet, the bar service, spacious shower facilities, an elegant cigar lounge and an interfaith prayer room. Private suites with spectacular views of the apron, bedroom suites and fully equipped conference suites can be added.

With its Bavarian charm and a unique design, the VipWing has convinced thousands of guests from all over the world through the years. To date, more than 250,000 visitors from numerous countries have made use of the service offered.

FIRST A350 DELIVERY TO NEW AIRLINE WORLD2FLY



World2fly, the new long-haul airline recently founded by the Spanish hotel company Iberostar, has taken delivery of the first of two A350-900s on lease from Air Lease Corporation (NYSE: AL), becoming the latest operator of the world's most efficient large widebody aircraft.

The airline, based on the Balearic island of Mallorca, will operate the two leased A350-900 aircraft on long-haul routes from Madrid to leisure destinations, such as Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), Cancun (Mexico) and La Habana (Cuba).

World2fly's A350-900s feature a modern and highly-comfortable single-class cabin layout with 432 seats. Passengers will enjoy more personal space, wide seats and absolute well-being on board and appreciate the latest-generation in-flight entertainment and connectivity. The A350 Airspace cabin is the quietest of any twin-aisle aircraft and offers passengers and crew the best flying experience. The Airbus A350's clean-sheet design features state-of-the-art aerodynamics, a carbon-fibre fuselage and wings, plus the most fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Together, these latest technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency and sustainability for World2fly, with a 25% reduction in fuel-burn and CO2 emissions compared to previous generation twin-aisle aircraft.

By the end of May 2021, the A350 Family had received 915 orders from 49 customers, making it the reference large widebody family for the next decades.

CATHAY PACIFIC WELCOMES THE EXTENSION OF HK$7.8 BILLION BRIDGE LOAN FROM THE HONG KONG SAR GOVERNMENT



Cathay Pacific welcomes the Hong Kong SAR government's agreement to extend the drawdown period of the HK$7.8 billion loan facility for 12 months. This arrangement extends the drawdown period of the facility to 8 June 2022. The bridge loan facility was provided to the airline as part of the HK$39 billion recapitalisation announced on 9 June 2020 to help the airline withstand the industry-wide downturn.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said: "We greatly appreciate the government's confidence in the airline and its long-term prospects despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic. We have not drawn down the facility over the past 12 months as we have been adopting a suite of measures to preserve cash. We are thankful for the government's decision to extend the drawdown period, which provides us with more flexibility to manage our liquidity position."

The group's liquidity balance remains at a healthy level of more than HK$28 billion as at 31 December 2020. Additionally, we have successfully raised HK$6.74 billion from a convertible bond issue in February, and US$650 million under the Medium Term Note programme last month.

Mr Tang added: "We continue to be able to raise debt financing in the capital markets. This reflects the investing community's confidence in our prospects as a leading airline. As we look to the future, it is critically important that we continue to remain agile, focus on prudent cash management and explore capital financing opportunities as they arise. As travel demand gradually resumes, we remain absolutely confident in the long-term future of Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong as an international aviation hub."

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