Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 7 to 13 Feb 2022

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


New Pearl Lounge Opens at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Zambia.

Ethiopian Airlines' B737 MAX Returns to the Skies with Government Officials, Boeing and Airline's Executives Onboard.

Hamad International Airport welcomes RwandAir's direct flights from Kigali to Doha.

Time to end US pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers.

Latest digital air cargo innovation will accelerate global recovery.

MC-21-300 Aircraft to be Tested Under Low Sub-Zero Outdoor Temperatures in Yakutia.

Cathay Pacific publishes traffic figures for December 2021, releases update on 2021 performance and 2022 outlook.

Boeing buys two million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel for its commercial operations.

Etihad Airways awarded IATA Environmental Assessment stage 2 accreditation.

Air Canada Turning Red Disney and Pixar's all new film set in Toronto.


National Aviation Services (NAS) ( and NAC2000 Corporation recently launched their Pearl Lounge at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) in Lusaka, Zambia. The lounge located at the new terminal is part of Zambia Airports Corporation Limited's (ZACL) efforts to upgrade international airports in the country. Last June, ZACL awarded a five-year tender to NAS and NAC2000 to build and operate an exclusive departure lounge catering to passengers travelling out from Lusaka. The 588 square meter Pearl Lounge includes comfortable seating, food and beverages, free Wi-Fi access as well as a children's play area among other facilities.

All international flights out of Lusaka will fly from the new terminal at KKIA, which opened in August 2021. This includes leading international airlines including Air France - KLM in partnership with Kenya Airways, Airlink, Air Tanzania, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Proflight Zambia, Qatar, Rwanda Air and South African Airlines. Zambia Airways, the recently relaunched national carrier is operating from this airport and other airlines are also expected to open routes into Zambia.

Guy Michel Yazbek, Group Director, Lounges & Meet and Assist Services at NAS highlighted "We are excited to be working with the ZACL and the Ministry of Transport and Logistics in Zambia. The launch of our new Pearl Lounge is significant. Not only because it is located at the largest airport in Zambia but also because we won this tender in the middle of a global pandemic when the aviation industry was on a downturn. The KKIA airport serves as a hub for domestic and international flights and the new lounge is the perfect space for passengers to relax and unwind or catch up on last minute work before they fly. We would like to take this opportunity to thank ZACL for the confidence and trust invested in the NAS and NAC2000 partnership. We also would like to emphasize on NAS' commitment to Zambia and our willingness to expand our participation in the Zambian aviation industry."

National Aviation Services (NAS), a leading airport services provider in emerging markets partners with NAC2000 Corporation, a key ground services company in Zambia to operate this Pearl Lounge. The new Pearl Lounge is one of over 50 lounges operated by NAS across its network in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. NAS's extended portfolio of services includes comprehensive ground handling, cargo management, technology solutions and training among others, currently serving over 100 airline customers across more than 60 airports.

Jonathan Lewis, Managing Director of NAC2000 Corporation added, "We as NAC2000 are honoured to share participation in this joint venture with NAS and to work with ZACL to deliver world class lounge service and hospitality through the Pearl Lounge at the new terminal facility at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport."

NAC2000 Corporation, a Zambian company serves all the international airports supporting airlines as well as ad hoc operators for the last 20 years. It is the only ISAGO registered and certified ground services provider in Zambia and offers warehousing and cold storage while continuing to evolve and become an industry leader in the service of support logistics relating to the movement of cargo and passengers.


Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's largest and the leading Aviation Group, has returned its B737 MAX back to the skies with the airline's board chairman and executives, Boeing executives, ministers, ambassadors, government officials, journalists and customers onboard the first flight.

Commenting on the return of the B737 MAX to service, Ethiopian Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said, "Safety is the top most priority at Ethiopian Airlines and it guides every decision we make and all actions we take. It is in line with this guiding principle that we are now returning the B737 MAX to service not only after the recertification by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), EASA of Europe, Transport Canada, CAAC, ECAA and other regulatory bodies but also after the fleet type's return to service by 36 airlines around the world. In line with our initially stated commitment to become among the last airlines to return the B737 MAX, we have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous recertification process and we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians and cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet. The airline's confidence is further showcased by flying the top executives and the board chairman and other top government officials on the first flight."

The B737 MAX has accumulated more than 349,000 commercial flights and close to 900,000 total flight hours since the resumption of its operation a year ago. Ethiopian Airlines always follows rigorous and comprehensive processes to ensure that every plane in the sky is safe. The airline always prioritizes passengers' safety and is confident that its customers will enjoy the onboard safety and comfort that it has been known for.

Ethiopian Airlines has four B737 MAX in its fleet and 25 on order, some of which it will take delivery of in 2022.


Hamad International Airport (HIA) welcomes new direct flights from Rwanda to Qatar, facilitated by the codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and RwandAir. The agreement between both national carriers offers global travellers greater choice, comfort, and connectivity provided at HIA - the World's Best Airport.

Connecting more of Africa to the world, this newest addition allows passengers from Qatar's airport to seamlessly travel to more than 25 destinations across Africa, Europe and Asia. Qatar Airways passengers can take advantage of the partnership and choose from three weekly flights on by using their Qatar Airways Qmiles.

HIA offers global travellers convenient connectivity through its strategic location, with 80% of the world's population able to connect with the World's Best Airport through 6-hour flights.

Additionally, HIA delivers a mosaic of cultural, retail and hospitality offerings encompassed in a secure and efficient airport experience.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "As the world's preferred gateway to Qatar and beyond, HIA has successfully continued to deliver safe operations to both global airlines and passengers alike. We welcome RwandAir as the latest addition to the airlines served at HIA; an illustrative accomplishment for the expansion of RwandAir's routes, and the recovery of travel through Qatar's airport."

Yvonne Makolo, RwandAir CEO said: "RwandAir is proud to partner with HIA and Qatar Airways, which will act as a catalyst to continue our recovery and demonstrates our commitment to enhance the travelling experience for our customers.

"It will provide greater connections through HIA to Qatar and to destinations around the world on Qatar Airways, to dramatically boost the choice of routes for our customers from Kigali."

The agreement is also born out of commitment to passenger well-being and safety. Earlier this year, RwandAir became the first airline to achieve the Diamond Standard of Safety Airline Passenger Experience Association's (APEX) Health Safety Powered by SimpliFlying audit.

Focused on offering safety and comfort in its airport experience, HIA has also continually adapted to changing travel and health requirements and implemented innovative technologies to ensure a protected travel journey to its passengers.

These efforts led to Hamad International Airport's rank as the Best Airport in the World at Skytrax's 2021 World Airport Awards. Qatar's airport was also chosen as the "Best Airport in the Middle East," "Best Airport 25 to 35 million Passengers", "Best Airport Staff in the Middle East," in Skytrax's customer surveys, and was further recognised for its "COVID-19 Airport Excellence" during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in partnership with Airlines for America (A4A) and 28 US and international aviation and travel and tourism stakeholder groups, urged the US government to remove the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated air travellers flying to the US.

The vaccinated traveller population adds no additional risks to the domestic US population. Increased immunity levels, the pervasiveness of COVID-19 in all 50 US states, rising vaccination rates and new therapeutics, all point to removing the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers.

"The experience of Omicron has made it clear that travel restrictions have little to no impact in terms of preventing its spread. Moreover, as Omicron is already broadly present across the US, fully vaccinated travellers bring no extra risk to the local population. International travellers should face no additional screening requirements than what is applied to domestic travel. In fact, at this stage of the pandemic, travel should be managed in the same way as access to shopping malls, restaurants or offices," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

More than 74.3 million people -- meaning at least 22% of the US population -- have had COVID-19 and that is almost certainly an undercount owing to asymptomatic infections and limited testing early in the pandemic. When combined with an adult population that is 74% fully vaccinated, it is clear that the US is developing very high levels of population immunity.

The organizations also noted that the EU has recommended that its member states remove COVID-19 travel restrictions for travel within the EU while the United Kingdom has announced the removal of COVID-19 pre-departure testing for vaccinated air travellers to enter the country. The UK concluded that the cost to both passengers and airlines of the testing mandate could no longer be justified as there was no evidence the regime protected the population from COVID-19.

Recent research by Oxera and Edge Health in Italy, Finland and the UK all support the conclusion that travel measures do little to control the spread of COVID-19 when it is already broadly present in the local population. The studies found that, if implemented at a very early stage, travel restrictions may at best delay the peak of a new wave by a few days and marginally reduce the number of cases.

Furthermore, IATA's most recent air traveller survey showed that 62% of respondents support removing a testing requirement for those who are fully vaccinated.

"Removing the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers will greatly support the recovery of travel and aviation in the US and globally without increasing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in the US population. There is no use in closing the barn door after the horse has bolted," said Walsh.


ICAO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have completed new digital air cargo technical specifications guidance that will help to accelerate the transition towards safer and more resilient supply chains, while making important contributions to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

The digital innovations will permit the air transport sector to transition away from long-standing paper-based documents used to facilitate the movement of global air freight, promoting a contactless air cargo environment and greater cross-border trade resilience in the face of future pandemic threats.

In line with the recommendations of the ICAO Council's Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), the specifications will help reduce physical contact among international trade and transport professionals and in so doing, better protect the fluidity of cross-border trade and international transport operations from pandemic-related restrictions.

"The latest innovations reflect ICAO's integrated, collaborative and multilateral approach to transport policies encompassing air cargo and mail supply chains which will play an important part in addressing both current and future pandemic risks," highlighted ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar. "It's our expectation that they will help address the tremendous double strain now being placed on global supply chains, whether by the COVID-19 pandemic itself, or the incredible surge in international e-commerce which has accompanied it."

"The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the value of harmonized approaches to ensure resilient transport connectivity across all modes and this has further underscored the critical role of accelerated digitalization. I am proud of the contribution of the practical tools developed with the support of UNECE's United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). UNECE looks forward to building on this successful cooperation with ICAO for seamless multimodal transport and trade to drive countries' sustainable socioeconomic recovery efforts", said UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova.

ICAO's collaboration with UNECE on supply chain digitalization is an outcome of the Joint Statement on the Contribution of International Trade and Supply Chains to a Sustainable Socioeconomic Recovery in COVID-19 Times, which was signed by eight UN agencies in September 2020.

These latest results will see digital specifications replacing the formerly paper-based Air Waybill (AWB), Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD), and the Consignment Security Declaration (CSD). These in turn form part of a broader suite of deliverables for multimodal transport data sharing, applicable to air, road, rail, maritime and inland water transport.

The specifications and supporting materials are available free of charge to regulators, businesses and other interested stakeholders through the UNDA COVID-19 Trade and Transport Project website. The ICAO and the UNECE will now turn their focus to assisting countries with implementing them.


The MC-21-300 prototype aircraft manufactured by Irkut Corporation (a member of Rostec's United Aircraft Corporation) flew from Zhukovsky (Moscow Region) to Yakutsk for testing under sub-zero outside temperatures.

A group of specialists from Irkut Corporation and Yakovlev Design Bureau, headed by Andrei Boginsky, Irkut CEO, came to Yakutsk to organize and perform trials of the MC-21-300.

"The flight is the first one to combine two factors: the distance to the destination point from Zhukovsky and the proof of serviceability of all aircraft systems for a comfortable long flight with many passengers onboard. The number of transported specialists exceeded 70 people. They will perform testing to expand the aircraft's ability to operate under outdoor temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius. This is a follow-up to the hard work that was carried out last year and resulted in obtaining a type certificate for the MC-21-300. We will have to run a series of tests to expand the certificate and hand over its first mass-produced airplanes to the Rossiya airlines for operation by the end of this year," said Andrei Boginsky, Director General of PJSC Irkut Corporation.

Daniil Brenerman, Managing Director of the Yakovlev Design Bureau, reported that the MC-21-300 flight from Zhukovsky to Yakutsk proceeded without any problems. "It will take approximately three weeks to conduct ground and flight tests in Yakutia, depending on the air temperature in the region. Each test phase is preceded by cooling of the aircraft and in the evening and at night it will be in the open parking lot for 12 hours. The Yakutsk Airport and Yakutia Airlines provide organizational and technical support for the tests," he added.

The aircraft is operated by Oleg Mutovin and Andrey Voropaev, first class test pilots of the Yakovlev Design Bureau.

Tests of the MC-21-300 aircraft will be performed as part of the extension of the type certificate which currently allows its operation at outside air temperatures near the ground of minus 30 degrees Celsius. Previously, the aircraft systems were successfully tested on stands under temperature conditions of up to minus 55 degrees Celsius.

The Irkut Corporation delegation will also have working meetings with officials from the Administration of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Yakutia Airlines to discuss the operation of the corporation's civil aircraft in the region.


Cathay Pacific has released its traffic figures for December 2021 together with an update on its performance in the year ending 31 December 2021, which continued to reflect the airline's substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Hong Kong and other markets amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Traffic figures for December 2021
Cathay Pacific carried a total of 92,219 passengers in December 2021, an increase of 130.6% compared to December 2020, but a 96.9% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in December 2019. The month's revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 156.5% year-on-year, but were down 95.1% versus December 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 18.2 percentage points to 36.6%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 28.6%, but remained 88.6% down on December 2019 levels. In the full year of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 84.5% against a 61.8% decrease in capacity and a 79.5% decrease in RPKs, as compared to 2020.

The airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 12% compared to December 2020, but a 24.1% decrease compared with the same period in 2019. The month's cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) rose 11.7% year-on-year, but were down 14.7% compared to December 2019. The cargo load factor increased by 4 percentage points to 84.3%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was up by 6.5% year-on-year, but was down 32.9% versus December 2019. In the full year of 2021, the tonnage increased by 0.1% against a 10.9% drop in capacity and a 1.1% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to 2020.

2021 full-year performance
Based on a preliminary review of the unaudited consolidated management accounts of the Cathay Pacific Group for the year ended 31 December 2021 and the information currently available to the Board of Directors of Cathay Pacific, the Group is expected to record a consolidated loss attributable to shareholders of approximately HK$5.6-6.1 billion. While the expected loss is substantial, it compares favourably to the attributable loss to shareholders of HK$21.6 billion for the year ended 31 December 2020. The improvement was primarily driven by strong cargo demand, high cargo yield and load factors, together with continued focus on effective cash and cost management. In addition, the full-year 2020 result included the recognition of one-off items such as impairment charges and restructuring, which were significantly reduced in 2021.

Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said: "Passenger travel remained extremely subdued throughout 2021, as a result of ongoing travel restrictions and strict quarantine requirements. We flew 717,059 passengers during 2021, getting people home, reuniting many of them with family and helping students travel to and from school or university overseas. This compares to the 4.6 million passengers that we flew in 2020 and 35.2 million passengers that we flew in 2019.

"While passenger travel continued to be acutely affected, cargo demand was strong throughout the year. We carried approximately 1.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2021, which compares to around 1.3 million tonnes in 2020 and 2 million tonnes in 2019. Throughout 2021, we deployed all available capacity to meet the consistently high demand, achieving strong yield and high load factors and transporting a wide range of goods including daily necessities, fresh produce, electrical items and pharmaceutical products.

"Despite quarantine restrictions and operational challenges, Cathay Pacific surpassed the milestone of 120 million COVID-19 vaccines carried in 2021. We carried more than 13.3 million doses in a single day. As a group, our airlines have carried more than 165 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccines around the world since the pandemic began.

"Having worked hard to tackle the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, taken decisive actions to create a more focused, efficient and competitive business and responded to strong cargo demand, we have reduced operating cash burn from the HK$2.5-3.0 billion range in the first half of 2020 down to marginally cash generative in the second half of 2021."


Boeing [NYSE:BA] has announced a supply agreement for two million gallons (7.5 million litres) of blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) with EPIC Fuels to power its commercial airplanes operations in Washington state and South Carolina through 2022. The agreement is the largest announced SAF procurement by an airframer and further demonstrates Boeing's commitment to decarbonizing aviation.

"SAF is a safe, proven, immediate solution that will help achieve our industry's long-term commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050," says Sheila Remes, Boeing vice president of Environmental Sustainability. "Boeing has been a pioneer in making sustainable aviation fuels a reality. Through this agreement we will reduce our carbon footprint and have SAF available for customer deliveries as well as our own operations."

Sustainably produced jet fuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 80% over the fuel's life cycle with the potential to reach 100% in the future, is widely recognized as offering the most immediate and greatest potential to decarbonize aviation over the next 20 to 30 years. Made from several feedstocks, sustainable aviation fuel is certified for commercial use and can be blended with traditional jet fuel without modifications to airplanes, engines or fuelling infrastructure. Approximately a year ago, Boeing committed to deliver its commercial airplanes capable and certified to fly on 100% SAF by 2030.

The purchase agreement with EPIC Fuels includes a SAF product made from inedible agricultural waste, blending 30% neat SAF with 70% conventional jet fuel. The purchase will enable broader use of SAF for Boeing commercial production, test, ferry, Dreamlifter and customer flights at facilities in Everett, Renton and Seattle in Washington state and North Charleston, South Carolina. EPIC Fuels will also continue to supply customized blends from 50/50% up to 100% SAF for the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program, which accelerates innovation by taking promising technologies out of the lab and testing them in the air to solve real-world challenges for airlines and passengers. SAF is currently approved for a 50/50 blend with conventional jet fuel for commercial flights.

"Our focus on environmental stewardship and safety is well known in the industry." expressed Kyle O'Leary, VP and COO of EPIC Fuels, an independent aviation fuel supplier with primary operations throughout the U.S. and Canada. "EPIC and Boeing have been partners for decades and we are honoured to be a part of this procurement. Working together, we are making sustainability more attainable for our customers."

The purchase builds on Boeing's long-term industry leadership and investment to develop SAF around the world, partnering with airlines, fuel companies, governments and research institutions to expand SAF supply and reduce its cost. Boeing began SAF test flights in 2008, helped gain approval for commercial use in 2011 and enabled airplane delivery flights with SAF starting in 2012. The 2018 Boeing ecoDemonstrator conducted the industry's first 100 percent SAF commercial airplane test flight on a 777 Freighter in partnership with FedEx. In 2019, Boeing began offering customers the option to power commercial delivery flights with SAF to demonstrate commitment to reducing CO2 and further spur the use of cleaner fuels.


Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has successfully completed IATA Environmental Assessment stage 2 and received accreditation in four key operational areas: facilities management, flight operations, Etihad technical division and Etihad Catering Services.

The IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) programme is a blueprint for airlines to achieve sustainability in all air and ground operations. It is an evaluation system designed to independently assess and improve the environmental management of an airline. Stage 2 represents the highest level of IEnvA compliance and requires an airline to demonstrate ongoing environmental performance improvement.

Etihad, which has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and halving its 2019 emission levels by 2035, is one of only nine airlines globally to complete stage 2 of the assessment.

Mariam Al Qubaisi, Head of Sustainability and Excellence Division, Etihad Airways, said: "Our world is becoming more environmentally conscious by the day. Etihad is proud to play a major part in reducing the carbon impact of the aviation industry, in the UAE and around the world. We have recorded many great achievements, from our first ecoFlight from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane in 2019, to the recent launch of our Sustainability-focused loyalty programme, Conscious Choices, to reward guests for making sustainable choices when they travel and in their everyday life."

Over the last two years, despite the challenges of Covid-19, Etihad has introduced significant CO2 reduction initiatives under its Greenliner sustainability programme. This includes adopting thousands of mangroves, using sustainable fuels, reducing contrails, flying optimised flight paths, operating electric vehicles and working with partners who share its vision for cleaner skies.


Air Canada has unveiled an aircraft with a themed livery and other surprises for its customers in celebration of the highly anticipated release of Disney and Pixar's Turning Red, an animated film that is set in Toronto and directed by Academy Award™ winner and Canadian Domee Shi.

Air Canada will be promoting the film Turning Red through a themed livery that will fly across the country on a Canadian built Airbus A220. (CNW Group/Air Canada)

"As Canada's largest airline and the country's flag carrier, our collaboration with Disney and Pixar for Turning Red, directed by award-winning Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Canadian talent and bring the best of Canada to the world," said Andy Shibata, Vice-President, Brand at Air Canada. "We wanted customers of all ages to be able to enjoy the special livery and be a part of the excitement around this very special Canadian moment."

"I'm absolutely stoked about this collaboration with Air Canada," said Domee Shi. "I made Turning Red a love letter to Toronto and everything Canadian and now to see the film celebrated on the airline that literally brought my family and me over from China when I was little is especially meaningful to me. I cannot wait for Canadian audiences and people around the world to see the film and hopefully fall in love with Canada just like I have."

Disney and Pixar's Turning Red introduces Meilin Lee, a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, is never far from her daughter-an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren't enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she "poofs" into a giant red panda! Turning Red will premiere exclusively on Disney+ across Canada on March 11, 2022.

Air Canada will be promoting the film through a themed livery that will fly across the country on a Canadian built Airbus A220. You can watch a video of the characters coming to life on our aircraft here (hyperlink).

The airline is also launching Air Canada's Contest Celebrating the Release of Disney and Pixar's Turning Red, offering five prize packages, each featuring a trip for four people to Toronto to attend the Canadian premiere special event of the film on March 8.

Starting this month, passengers onboard Air Canada aircraft will enjoy a special Turning Red­ video, inspired by the film's trailer. On select aircraft, passengers can discover director Domee Shi's favourite places in Toronto by exploring Air Canada's seatback city guide and on aircraft destined for Toronto, an animated landscape of the city will be featured on seatback screens as passengers board.

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