Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 19 to 25 July 2021

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) together with local airline, Airlink, supermarket chain, Shoprite and global law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) are joining forces to provide vital relief, supplies and support in cleaning up Pietermaritzburg after the looting and civil unrest that has devastated the city and surrounding communities over the past week.

Together they will provide and safely transport over 2,000 food packages and provisions to people who are currently without any food after shops in the city and surrounds were pillaged. A team of 85 volunteers from Airlink and HSF will fly to Pietermaritzburg on Sunday - Nelson Mandela International Day - where Santaco-affiliated minibus taxis will ferry them to those areas in most need of support. Relief supplies and food packages were donated by Airlink, HSF, their respective staff and matched with generous contributions from Shoprite.

"Airlink has a long association with Pietermaritzburg. Many people and enterprises in the area rely on our services for their business and private travel. Besides supporting the clean-up and delivering vital provisions, Airlink, together with Santaco, Shoprite and HSF felt it was important to demonstrate how, by joining hands, it is possible to honour the values promoted by Nelson Mandela by repairing community trust, restoring civil society and rebuilding the local economy," explained Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

Santaco spokesperson, Sifiso Shangase said; "in the spirit of Nelson Mandela Day we can help to bridge and heal the ruptures to the social fabric in our region and neighbourhoods, especially where fear and insecurity saw some communities seek retribution by attacking their neighbours."

"At this time of crisis, it is important that we all stand and work together towards a common purpose as South Africans do best - not just in addressing the immediate crisis, but in laying the foundation for a more sustainable and equitable society where the rule of law is respected alongside our constitutional rights, including the dignity and well-being of every citizen," said HSF Senior Associate, Tatum Govender.

Airlink has been flying urgently-needed medicine and other supplies to the city since its airport was reopened on Wednesday. It has also helped a number of people stranded in Pietermaritzburg return to their homes in other parts of the country after the main freeway out of the city was closed. Airlink is also supporting wider relief efforts, which has included the transportation of more than 50 tons of relief for Durban and Johannesburg.


Addressing Africa's aviation leaders last week, most notably through her opening of the 2021 AFI Aviation Week, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu highlighted the tremendous potential future for aviation in Africa that could be achieved through the realization of regional commitments and underscored the critical role aviation should play in States' pandemic recovery planning.

Over recent years, overall safety confidence and performance in the AFI region has improved in tandem with a dramatic decrease in the number Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs), from seven in 2015 to just one in 2021.

Assistance provided to States by ICAO Regional Office Safety Teams (ROST) through the AFI Plan, coupled with partner support provided to various states, played a big part in achieving this result, with many AFI Plan support activities have provided even since the advent of the pandemic. Nonetheless, the AFI Region's EI average is still below the global average and continues to fall short of the 60% EI target set by the Abuja Declaration (2012), highlighting the importance of maintaining current momentum on the AFI Plan work programme.

Similarly, continued improvement and effective coordination under the AFI SECFAL Plan is being achieved, in particular with respect to ongoing virtual support to State-specific projects, the conduct of limited scope USAP CMA audits, the promotion of ICAO's Year of Security Culture (YOSC) workshops, the delivery of AVSEC and FAL implementation packs (iPacks) and the coordination of courses and seminars.

Building on this momentum, the Secretary General highlighted that air transport growth rates in Africa were among the fastest in the world prior to COVID-19, noting however that "we must also recognize together that recent results could have been much more robust if not for persisting regulatory barriers, financial constraints and the slow pace of air transport liberalization here."

ICAO is assisting African States in more effectively addressing ICAO's policies and guidance on the economic regulation of international air transport, in collaboration with a variety of regional multilateral organizations. A high degree of priority has been assigned to the implementation of Assembly Resolution A40-9 - the Consolidated statement of continuing ICAO policies in the air transport field, and the relevant outcomes of the Sixth ICAO Air Transport Conference.

"In order for ICAO economic policies and guidance to be suitably customized to the African context, we must first ensure due alignment among the Lomé Declaration on air cargo development in Africa, the Antananarivo Declaration on sustainable air transport development in Africa and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as outlined in the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD)," Dr. Liu remarked, noting that the implementation of the two declarations is currently being monitored by ICAO through State Air Transport Action Plans (SATAPs), and via activities conducted in accordance with Recommendation 10 of the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).

The CART Recommendations provide significant guidance to the region's aviation leaders as they address the fact that air transport performance in Africa declined by 58% in 2020 compared to 2019, with 78 million fewer passengers flying last year.

For this reason, the Secretary General stressed the importance of the implementation of the CART Recommendations by states as part of their recovery strategy, along with the proper consideration and adoption of the latest medical and scientific developments. She highlighted in particular the critical importance of massive vaccination of the population to spur public confidence and stimulate travel, particularly in Africa, where vaccination rates are very low. On this point, Dr. Liu, encouraged African States to attend and contribute to ICAO's High-Level Conference on COVID-19, which will take place in October 2021 under the theme "One Vision for Aviation Recovery, Resilience and Sustainability beyond the Global Pandemic." The event is expected to generate global consensus on a multilateral approach, encourage strong political momentum and result in heightened commitment among states towards the safe and sustainable recovery of aviation from the COVID-19 crisis.


According to the African Airlines Association's (AFRAA) report, Ethiopian has been ranked first by passenger and cargo traffic in 2020. Ethiopian carried 500 thousand tons of freight and 5.5 million passengers through its main hub, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, "We are honoured to continue our leadership even during the Global Pandemic Crisis which has devastated the aviation industry. This is a manifestation of our resilience and agility. We are excited about the role we played in the fight against the pandemic by continuing our much-needed air connectivity within Africa and with the rest of the world without any flight suspension. We are saving lives through air transport of medical supplies and vaccines."

Ethiopian Airlines topped the list with the highest passenger traffic transported through Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. A total of 5.5 million passengers have been transported through the airport. Of this traffic, Ethiopian transported 5.2 million passengers and the remaining passengers were transported by other airlines. The cargo terminal has handled more than 500 thousand tons of freight during the year 2020.

Ethiopia also topped the list in the most connected countries in Africa due to Ethiopian Airlines' large number of direct flights within the continent.


RwandAir has become the first - and only - Sub-Saharan African airline to launch a loyalty partnership with Qatar Airways. The two carriers have joined forces to offer RwandAir Dream Miles and Qatar Airways Privilege Club loyalty members access to each other's destinations with the opportunity to 'earn and burn' points across their reciprocal route networks.

Under the new deal, RwandAir Dream Miles members will be able to fly to more than 140 Qatar Airways destinations using miles earned by flights bought through RwandAir.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club members will have the ability to earn miles on RwandAir's flights, both within Africa and on long-haul routes, to destinations such as New York and London.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, said: "RwandAir is incredibly proud to be the first Sub-Saharan African airline to enter into partnership with Qatar Airways Privilege Club.

"Customer loyalty is of huge importance to both RwandAir and Qatar Airways. We both strive to put the customer experience first and give recognition to our most frequent fliers.

"Now RwandAir Dream Miles customers will be able to earn and burn points to give them access to flights across Qatar Airways' extensive route network, with the same reciprocal benefits to Qatar Airways Privilege Club members.

"We believe this initiative is a major step forward to greater cooperation between Africa's most ambitious airline and one of the world's most prestigious international carriers and we look forward to further enhancing the benefits of our Dream Miles members.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive H.E. Mr Akbar Al Baker said: "Our partnership with RwandAir opens up a world of possibilities for the customers of both airlines, allowing them to discover exciting destinations. Members of Privilege Club and Dream Miles can enjoy significant benefits including world class travel experiences on our strong complementary networks.

Since RwandAir launched its Dream Miles loyalty programme in 2011 it has grown in popularity and become a favourite of the airline's frequent fliers.

The Dream Miles programme has four tiers of membership, with Emerald forming the entry level, entitling members to a free ticket using award miles, eligibility for a flight upgrade, as well as last minute cabin upgrades and up to 40kgs excess baggage using award miles.

In addition, Silver tier members, who have earned 25,000 'Tier Miles' or taken 20 flights in a year, are entitled to an additional 10kg of checked-in baggage, can earn 25% bonus miles on all RwandAir flights and be given priority on the waitlist.

Gold tier members, who have earned 50,000 miles or taken 40 flights a year, enjoy a wide range of benefits, including 50% bonus miles on all RwandAir flights and 15kg extra checked baggage allowance.

They can also receive a free ticket and complimentary upgrade to the higher cabin using miles, as well as priority check-in, baggage tagging, Business Class lounge access and high priority on the waitlist.

RwandAir's most highly-valued frequent flyers can benefit from Diamond tier status in reward for earning 100,000 miles or taking 60 flights a year.

Benefits include 100% bonus miles on all RwandAir flights, an additional 23kg of checked baggage and one free upgrade to Business Class per year when travelling in the Economy cabin.


This week Eindhoven Airport welcomed a new airline; Royal Air Maroc will fly twice a week between Eindhoven and Nador in Morocco this summer. Eindhoven Airport is thus welcoming another national airline. With its Nador destination, Royal Air Maroc focuses mainly on travellers visiting family and friends. This also applies to Air Arabia, which announced earlier this year that it would start flying between Eindhoven and Nador. Royal Air Maroc flights to Nador will be carried out on Thursdays and Saturdays with an Airbus A321 (220 seats).

Visiting family and friends in Morocco was not possible for a long time because the borders were closed due to the corona pandemic. Morocco reopened the borders to travellers from abroad on June 15 this year. As a result, it is again possible to visit relatives in Morocco this coming summer vacation.

The Turkish community can also spend this summer with family and friends who came to Turkey by plane. The Turkish airline SunExpress offers flights between Eindhoven and the city of Izmir since the end of June. The flights are carried out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Corendon flies on Tuesdays between Eindhoven and the Turkish city of Kayseri. The metropolis Istanbul can also be reached from Eindhoven. Pegasus flies to Istanbul's Sabiha Gökcen airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In addition to business passengers, Pegasus is aiming for tourist visitors and travellers visiting family or friends with its connection to the metropolis.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that based on its latest passenger survey conducted in May, most air travellers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near-term. However, a majority are also frustrated with the "hassle factor" around COVID-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs.

The survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world shows that 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and 65% agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room.

Among those who have travelled since June 2020, 86% felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures: 89% believe protective measures are well implemented and 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures.

Passengers strongly support mask wearing onboard (83%) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86%), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.

"Air travellers recognize and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don't want the measures to become permanent. In the meantime, we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019 and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

At the same time, participants admit that they struggle with the COVID-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel: 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand, 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle and 89% agreed governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications.

"These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart. Almost two thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark almost 85% expect to be back to travel. To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation," said Walsh.

Almost nine out of ten respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87% support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75% say they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data. "IATA Travel Pass enables travellers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return," said Walsh.


Cathay Pacific continues to demonstrate the viability of digital health passes by successfully conducting two live flight trials involving volunteer customers travelling between Hong Kong and Singapore using The Commons Project's CommonPass app earlier this month. The adoption of digital health passes involving both COVID-19 testing and vaccination records will enable customers to fly with convenience and confidence, laying the groundwork for hassle-free international air travel.

Cathay Pacific is the first airline to complete a trial with CommonPass involving both testing and vaccination records on an end-to-end, round-trip journey. It is also the first airline in Asia Pacific to trial the use of official vaccination records with customers in a live flight environment.

The volunteer customers used their personal vaccination and/or pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test records to create digital health passes using the CommonPass app. Customers on Cathay Pacific flight CX691, which departed from Hong Kong to Singapore on 6 July, used the Hong Kong SAR Government's vaccine code (generated using the iAM Smart app). Meanwhile, those on Cathay Pacific flight CX690, which departed from Singapore to Hong Kong on 15 July, used Singapore's HealthCerts PCR test result. The platform interpreted and validated these records against the travel rules for the customers' itineraries and produced a digital health pass that showed their eligibility to travel.

Initial customer feedback during the trials indicated that CommonPass was easy to install and simple to use, with the vast majority saying they would be willing to use digital health passes in future. The longer-term objective is for digital health passes to replace the need for customers to carry multiple paper-based records when travelling.

The trials were organised in collaboration with The Commons Project and the Airport Authority Hong Kong. These also follow the successful completion of digital health pass trials in March this year and October last year.

General Manager Customer Experience and Design Vivian Lo said: "We have been continuously striving to provide a seamless experience for our customers while they are travelling in a complex world of border-entry requirements and health certifications. We believe the use of digital health passes can significantly alleviate travel uncertainties, while providing greater reassurance and confidence to our customers.

"These trials will pave the way for the reopening of our international flight routes, while the collaboration with our trial partners has enabled us to demonstrate to our industry peers and the border authorities the functionality of digital health passes using testing and vaccination records authorised by the authorities."

The Commons Project Executive Chairman Jennifer Zhu Scott said: "Vaccination records have become critical to safely reopening international travel. As our trusted partner from day one, Cathay Pacific has once again been a pioneer by being the first airline to successfully complete two-way trials during which customers used CommonPass to generate a digital health pass with their testing and vaccination records from local official registries.

"The Cathay Pacific team's deep industry expertise, resilience and innovative spirit adds tremendous value to The Commons Project's global effort in facilitating safe reopening by empowering individuals to control and manage their health data. We look forward to collaborating with Cathay Pacific further to benefit the airline's customers around the world."

Since early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathay Pacific has been researching ways to make travel easier and more accessible. We are proud to have been involved with The Commons Project for the past 15 months in the design and development of the CommonPass app.

In addition to its work with CommonPass, Cathay Pacific is a member of the IATA Travel Pass User Group.


The online travel and lifestyle platform said Delta topped rankings in reliability and travel experience and noted its consistent scores across all categories that pushed it to the top.

As people seek to rediscover the joy of travel and seek connections in the wake of the COVID-19, they have more reason to be confident in their decision to fly with Delta. A study by The Points Guy finds that Delta offers the best overall experience for fliers for the third year running.

The Points Guy's airline ranking assesses reliability, experience, loyalty and costs and reach. The online travel and lifestyle platform said Delta topped rankings in reliability and travel experience and noted its consistent scores across all categories that pushed it to the top.

"The data showed that the carrier offers consistent, high-quality performance - from its reliability to the in-flight experience to its SkyMiles loyalty program," Nick Ewen, Senior Editor at the Points Guy, said in a news release. "As the travel industry continues to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, Delta is well-positioned to capitalize on the rebound."

"This is another incredible acknowledgment of the professionalism, care and humanity Delta people continue to deliver as we recover from a tremendously challenging period for travel," said Allison Ausband, Delta's E.V.P. and Chief Customer Experience Officer. "The people at Delta - in every division, in every city in our network - are powering our rebound by putting our customers first at every step throughout the journey and running an operation that leads the industry in all key metrics. As the recovery gains momentum, we're making investments to strengthen our competitive advantage, further differentiate our brand and warmly welcome our customers as they return to the skies."

The Points Guy's editorial team reviewed published airline policies and real-time reports between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 in its data-focused analysis. The Points Guy's ranking follows Delta earning the No. 1 spot in the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction Survey, which highlighted the power of Delta's people to provide meaningful experiences for travellers.


flyadeal, the low-cost Jeddah-based airline owned by Saudi Arabian Airlines, has taken delivery of a brand new A320neo, the first out of 30 to be delivered in the next 3 years. The aircraft is the first out of 65 A320neo family aircraft ordered by Saudi Arabian Airline at the Paris Airshow 2019 and will join flyadeal's all Airbus fleet.

Powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, the A320neo will offer flyadeal outstanding operational, economic and environmental performance.

flyadeal's A320neo is configured with 186 seats in a comfortable all economy class layout. Passengers onboard the aircraft will benefit from the widest cabin of any single-aisle aircraft in the sky, as well as the latest cabin feature offering optimum passenger comfort.

The A320neo is the ideal aircraft for flyadeal to grow and expand its domestic and regional network. Demonstrating the operational flexibility of the A320neo, the aircraft will allow the airline to efficiently enhance its operations to additional networks and foster closer links with countries across the region and beyond.

The A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines, Sharklets and aerodynamics, which together deliver 20% in fuel savings and CO2 reduction compared to previous generation Airbus aircraft. The A320neo Family has received more than 7,400 orders from over 120 customers.


Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Brussels Airlines, airBaltic and Ethiopian Airlines to move this week after successful launches from, TUI and Singapore. The flagship facility opened to its first customers last week, with flights initially being operated by, TUI and then Singapore Airlines.

After the success of these operations - and as travel restrictions ease from 19th July - the Northern gateway has confirmed the next wave of airlines that will start flying from the new state-of-the-art T2.

A series of new shops, bars and restaurants have also opened their doors for the first time, with details below. The Terminal Two extension opened to the public on 14th July with as the first airline. This was swiftly followed by TUI operating from there on 15th July. Singapore Airlines followed next, moving over on Saturday, the next airlines to move will be Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Brussels Airlines on 20th July. airBaltic will then go over on 21st July, followed by Ethiopian Airlines on 22nd July.

airBaltic is a new carrier at Manchester Airport as it started services to Riga in Latvia earlier this month. Singapore Airlines has flown from Manchester Airport for more than 30 years and will once again connect the North to the Far East and beyond through the excellent onward connectivity at the carrier's Changi Airport.

Passengers travelling with these airlines from the dates above should now use Terminal Two. If anyone has Manchester Airport car park or lounge bookings, these will be moved across and customers notified accordingly.

As summer progresses and international travel restrictions ease, further airlines will move across and they will be communicated appropriately. Passengers can also keep an eye on the airport's social media channels for the latest advice, guidance and information.

As well as offering the latest innovations in travel to enhance the customer experience, the new Terminal Two also offers a range of exciting shops, bars and restaurants. With options to suit every taste and budget, passengers will be spoilt for choice.

Initially only a handful of units have opened, in line with current passenger numbers. These include popular Manchester brands such as Archie's and the Amber Alehouse, in partnership with Se7en Brothers, in addition to well-known high street names including Pret-a-Manger and Costa Coffee.

On Wednesday, M&S will open its new store in Terminal Two Arrivals, with Accessorize's outlet in Departures also due to open to customers on Thursday. The remaining units will open as more airlines move across as passenger numbers increase. For more information on what will be available see here (hyperlink).

In addition to the bars and restaurants, passengers can also enjoy Manchester Airport's two lounges - Escape and 1903. The lounges have a combined capacity of 400 passengers and are located on the upper level of the enlarged terminal. They are accessed from the main departure lounge and both benefit from floor to ceiling windows, providing panoramic views over the airfield.


Airbus has delivered the first A350 from its widebody completion & delivery centre in Tianjin (C&DC), China, taking additional steps in the expansion of its global footprint and long-term strategic partnership with China.

The A350-900 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines, the largest Airbus operator in Asia and second largest in the world. At the end of June 2021, China Eastern Airlines operated an Airbus fleet of 413 aircraft, including 349 A320 Family aircraft, 55 A330 Family aircraft and nine A350 aircraft.

"I'm proud that Airbus successfully extended the capability of the widebody C&DC in Tianjin to the A350, the latest new generation aircraft, at such a difficult time of global aviation," said George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Airbus China CEO. "This is a new milestone in the long-term cooperation between China and Airbus, which further demonstrates Airbus' commitment to the country. Congratulations to China Eastern Airlines, our long-term strategic partner, for receiving the first A350 delivered from China and I appreciate their trust in Airbus and in our products as always."

Located at the same site as the Airbus Tianjin A320 Family Final Assembly Line and the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre, the widebody C&DC covers the aircraft completion activities, including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production flight test, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery.

The centre was inaugurated in September 2017 with its capability on A330s. Then, during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China in 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding on the Further Development of Industrial Cooperation was signed in Beijing by He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer, announcing the C&DC would extend its capability to A350 aircraft.

The A350 features the latest aerodynamic design, a carbon-fibre fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these features translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions. The A350's 'Airspace by Airbus' cabin is the quietest of any widebody aircraft and offers passengers and crews the most modern in-flight products for the most comfortable flying experience.

At the end of June 2021, the A350 Family had received 915 firm orders from 49 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.


Emirates has taken off to Miami, marking the airline's first passenger flight to the coastal metropolis, its second point in Florida and the airline's first new destination launched since the pandemic.

The new four times a week service to Miami takes Emirates' US network to 12 destinations on over 10 flights a day. The airline is operating over 60% of its pre-pandemic capacity to the United States and continues to expand its presence in line with increasing passenger traffic. The new service to Miami will also serve as a gateway to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands. In the other direction, travellers will be able to connect to the Emirates network of more than 120 destinations.

In addition to Miami, Emirates has re-started flights to Nice, Mexico City, Phuket, Lyon, Mauritius and Malta in July.

Commanding the Miami flight was Captain Abdulla Alhammadi, Captain John Brosnan, First Officer Stuart Clay Jr, and First Officer Carlos Montero Corral.

The aircraft utilised for the inaugural flight was Emirates' Boeing 777 Gamechanger, featuring the airline's highly popular First Class private suites. Emirates will then operate its three-class Boeing 777-300ER on the route, featuring eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie flat seats in Business Class and 304 spacious seats in Economy Class for the four times a week service.

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