Compiled by Willie Bodenstein
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THIS WEEK IN AIRLINES, AIRPORTS AND AIRLINERS
Council President's Qatar bilateral focus on air navigation and environmental sustainability.
Kenya Airways and South African Airways customers to enjoy lounge access in both countries.
SAA confirms release of 2017-18 financial statements.
Mesfin Tasew appointed as New CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group.
Air Lease Corporation adds 32 Boeing 737 MAX Jets to its orderbook.
Cathay Pacific releases traffic figures for February 2022.
Royal Jordanian Airlines introduces new exclusive services in Iraq; signs strategic partnership agreement with the National Bank of Iraq.
Wizz Air introduces a new route from Vilnius to Split in Croatia.
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COUNCIL PRESIDENT'S QATAR BILATERALS FOCUS ON AIR NAVIGATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Within the framework of his mission to Doha, ICAO Council President Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano (left) conducted bilateral meetings with both the Amir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (right), and the Prime Minister of Qatar, H.E Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.
These meetings were supported by subsequent engagements with Qatar's Minister of Transport, H.E. Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and the Acting President of Qatar's Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Mohammed Faleh Al Hajri. Discussions focussed on the significance and future of ICAO's cooperation with Qatar, centered on both the implementation of the recent ICAO Council decision regarding the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) and on environmental sustainability of international civil aviation.
The implementation of Doha FIR decision calls for the encouragement of broader regional cooperation, while the technological and scientific innovations supporting a greener future for flight could greatly benefit from Qatar's expertise and resources in this area.
Within this context, the President of the Council visited the Qatar Science & Technology Park, where a variety of relevant research and development programmes were presented, along with a tour of the Qatar Air Traffic Control Centre, where detailed insights into the operations and outlook for the centre were provided.
KENYA AIRWAYS AND SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS CUSTOMERS TO ENJOY LOUNGE ACCESS IN BOTH COUNTRIES
Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airways (SAA) have announced a new lounge access agreement for its customers as part of the Strategic Framework Agreement (SPF) signed in November 2021.
The lounge access agreement will allow KQ business class customers to have exclusive access to the lounge services at the SAA ultra-modern Premium lounge located at O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
The lounge offers a tranquil and comfortable escape from the hustle and bustle of the airport to freshen up, have complimentary WI-FI access, entertainment and indulge in food and beverages.
Julius Thairu Kenya Airways Chief Commercial and Customer officer said, "One of the key objectives of the partnership between KQ and SAA is to create win-win outcomes for customers and deliver exceptional service with high levels of customer satisfaction. As air travel begins to pick up, we are seeing customers demanding a more seamless, personalized experience and we will continue working closely as equal partners to ensure that the experience is seamless at every tough point."
Simon Newton-Smith, Executive Commercial at SAA says. "The lounge access will be reciprocal for SAA customers flying to Nairobi which signals the benefits of the strategic partnership of both airlines."
KQ and SAA signed a Strategic Partnership Framework in November 2021 to work together to increase passenger traffic, cargo opportunities and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya, Africa and eventually form a Pan-African carrier.
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SAA CONFIRMS RELEASE OF 2017-18 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
SAA has confirmed the tabling of its audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2017/18 in Parliament this week. SAA stresses that the figures included therein are historical and are not indicative of the airline's current financial performance. The numbers reflected in the financial statements are as a result of business activities that took place under business conditions that existed at the time, more importantly under executive management and board that was in office then.
The statements for 2017/18 are being released three years later because at the time they were due to be released, auditors withheld their audit opinion due to the company's significant going concern risk at the time, which later resulted in the company being placed in business rescue. We are all aware that SAA was subsequently placed in business rescue effective 5 December 2019 and exited the business rescue process on 30 April 2021.
Three years on, SAA's entire operation has now been restructured with a reduced staff count and fleet size. This leaves the organisation better positioned for the future. South Africans should note that at the tail end of the business rescue, the current interim executives and interim board comprising of independent professionals were appointed to lead the organisation as it completed the restructuring, resumed flight operations and the shareholder embarked bringing on board a strategic equity partner.
Interim Chief Executive Officer, Mr Thomas Kgokolo says, "The conditions that led to the business rescue process cannot be repeated and the airline is confident that various measures put in place will prevent this happening." SAA resumed flying in late September 2021.
The release of the 2017/18 financial statements is just one step as the remaining three years financial statements will be released in future once the audit gets underway and completed through the Auditor General's Office.
MESFIN TASEW APPOINTED AS NEW CEO OF ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES GROUP
The Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group has announced the appointment of Mr. Mesfin Tasew Bekele as Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group, effective March 23, 2022. Mr Mesfin has been a successor to the former CEO of the Airline group, Tewolde GebreMariam, whose early retirement request due to health issues has been approved by the board.
Mr. Mesfin has 38 years of experience in airline management and operations in the areas of aircraft maintenance and engineering, procurement, information technology, flight operations, capability development, capacity building, development of corporate strategies, airline operation management and corporate leadership. He earned Master's in Business Administration (MBA) from Open University in the UK, MSc degree in Electrical Engineering specializing in Communications Engineering from Addis Ababa University and a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from Addis Ababa University.
The Board Chairman of the airline, Mr. Girma Wake said, "I would like to congratulate Mr Mesfin on his new appointment and I am fully confident about his capabilities. We believe that Mr Mesfin will lead the airline to an even greater success, keeping it on the right track that will see it grow through many generations to come. I urge the 17,000 employees of Ethiopian and the board members to stand with the new Group CEO to keep the airline flying high. We are also thankful for the remarkable contributions of the former Group CEO."
Mr Mesfin Tassew on his part said, "I am honoured and humbled to be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group which I have been serving for nearly four decades in various positions. My new role gives me the opportunity to carry on with the fast and profitable growth of our beloved airline and take it to the next level. I call on all my colleagues at Ethiopian to join hands and forge ahead for further success."
In the different capacities he served during his 38 years of service, Mr Mesfin has been a key player responsible for planning and execution of strategies that led the airline to shine in the African skies and beyond. He assumed responsibilities including, but not limited to, overall maintenance of Ethiopian fleet, capability and capacity development, leading the automation project of the Maintenance and Engineering Division and managing projects related to aircraft acquisition.
Mr. Mesfin has been serving as a Chief Executive Officer of ASKY Airlines since 2021 and has led the airline with a profitable growth strategy until the time of his new appointment. He has served as a Chief Operating Officer of Ethiopian Airlines from 2010 -2021 and successfully led the operation of the airline in an efficient and cost-effective way by optimizing processes and developing internal resources to cope up with the airline's growth strategy.
He was Vice President of Maintenance and Engineering from 2006 -2010; Chief Information Officer from 1998 - 2006; Manager of Planning and Automation, Maintenance and Engineering Division from 1995 - 1997; and Avionics Engineer and Supervisor Avionics Engineering Group from 1984 - 1994.
He took part in numerous local and international seminars in the aviation industry and general leadership. He received training in leadership and airlines operations management, aviation regulations and aircraft maintenance among others.
In 1984, Mr Mesfin was a gold medal award winner of Addis Ababa University Faculty of Technology as an Outstanding Graduate of the Year.
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AIR LEASE CORPORATION ADDS 32 BOEING 737 MAX JETS TO ITS ORDERBOOK
Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Air Lease Corp. (ALC) [NYSE:AL] have announced that the aircraft lessor is expanding its airplane portfolio with an order for 32 additional 737-8 and 737-9 jets. As the travel market recovers, ALC is increasing its 737 MAX family offering to meet airline demand for modern, fuel-efficient and sustainable operations.
"Following our memorandum of understanding with Boeing in February for these 32 737 MAX aircraft, we are pleased to announce the signing of this definitive purchase agreement. We believe that the economic and operating advantages of the 737 MAX will serve our airline customers well as they favour modern, fuel efficient aircraft," said John L. Plueger, Chief Executive Officer and President of Air Lease Corporation.
ALC continues to grow its investment in the 737 MAX family. In February the lessor added 18 737 MAXs to its portfolio. With the new order, ALC has 130 737 MAXs in its backlog.
With commonality and improved fuel efficiency, the 737 MAX family enables airlines to optimize their fleets across a broad range of missions while reducing fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 20% compared to the airplanes they replace. With the 737 MAX, ALC customers can choose airplanes that are optimized to suit multiple markets based on range and size while offering commonality for pilots and crew. The versatility of the 737 MAX family allows airlines to offer new and more direct routes for passengers and makes these airplanes highly popular among leasing and airline customers around the world.
"The 737 MAX family has already proved its value within ALC's narrow- body portfolio, providing operators with excellent fuel efficiency and flexibility across different networks," said Ihssane Mounir, Boeing senior vice president of Commercial Sales & Marketing. "The addition of more 737 MAXs, including 737-8s and 737-9s, will enable ALC to respond to accelerating market demand as air travel continues to recover."
CATHAY PACIFIC RELEASES TRAFFIC FIGURES FOR FEBRUARY 2022
Cathay Pacific has released its traffic figures for February 2022 that continued to reflect the airline's substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in Hong Kong and other markets amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Cathay Pacific carried a total of 31,253 passengers last month, an increase of 47.9% compared to February 2021 and a 98.9% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in February 2019. The month's revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 5.2% year-on-year and were down 99% versus February 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 33.8 percentage points to 47.6%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 69.4% year-on-year and decreased by 98.4% compared with February 2019 levels. In the first two months of 2022, the number of passengers carried increased by 8.6% against a 72.8% decrease in capacity and a 12.5% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2021.
The airline carried 65,126 tonnes of cargo last month, a decrease of 20.9% compared to February 2021 and a 50.4% decrease compared with the same period in 2019. The month's cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) decreased 53.3% year-on-year and were down 67.9% compared to February 2019. The cargo load factor increased by 0.9 percentage points to 80.5%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 53.8% year-on-year and was down by 75.8% versus February 2019. In the first two months of 2022, the tonnage decreased by 27.1% against a 59.1% drop in capacity and a 59.6% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2021.
Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said: "The operating environment for Cathay Pacific remains very challenging. Travel and operational restrictions in place in Hong Kong continued to constrain our ability to operate more passenger flight capacity in February and we operated below 2% of pre-COVID-19 levels, a reduction of about 28% compared with January 2022.
"We have remained as agile as possible, deploying passenger flight capacity to cater to last-minute demand, on top of ongoing traffic from the Chinese Mainland to long-haul destinations as well as post-Chinese New Year traffic from Hong Kong to the Chinese Mainland. We also saw some demand for flights to Australia, notably student traffic from the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong. As a result, we carried more passengers in February than we did in January. Load factor edged up to reach about 48%.
"We continue to operate a reduced long-haul cargo schedule in light of ongoing crew quarantine measures and in February, we operated around 25% of our pre-COVID-19 cargo flight capacity. Tightened requirements for cross-border trucking between the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong, as well as the surge in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, reduced demand from our home market. Furthermore, the anticipated market recovery from Asia to long-haul destinations was slower than expected post-Chinese New Year.
"In order to mitigate these headwinds, our teams focused on regional routes and we saw encouraging demand on these services. Of particular note was the demand for Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) shipments, which was strong throughout the month and continues to be so. As of the end of February, we have delivered over 13 million RAT kits to Hong Kong. We will continue to support the government's anti-pandemic efforts with the delivery of important medical supplies.
" Looking ahead in March, on the travel side we originally expected that the majority of passenger traffic would continue to come from our Chinese Mainland routes. However, stricter capacity restrictions have since been put in place by the Chinese Mainland authorities as part of their pandemic control measures. These, together with the current restrictions in Hong Kong, mean that we do not foresee significant signs of recovery in passenger travel demand in March.
"Regarding cargo, we are re-deploying freighters to North Asia and the Indian sub-continent to maximise opportunities within the region while our ability to operate long-haul services remains constrained. Nevertheless, we are continually looking to increase our long-haul cargo flight capacity where possible and we have resumed freighter services into Atlanta, Houston and Miami in the US. Our total Hong Kong export volumes will likely remain under pressure throughout the month. Despite this, overall demand from other markets is strengthening and we will look to capture as much of this opportunity as possible."
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ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES INTRODUCES NEW EXCLUSIVE SERVICES IN IRAQ; SIGNS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH THE NATIONAL BANK OF IRAQ
Being the largest foreign carrier covering major cities of Iraq, Royal Jordanian (RJ) serves five Iraqi cities with multiple flights to/from Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Najaf and Sulaymaniah, with over 30 frequencies per week.
Additionally, RJ will offer complimentary hotel accommodation in Amman to transit passengers who are traveling from Iraq via Amman to other worldwide RJ destinations in Europe, USA, Canada and the Arabian Gulf.
Royal Jordanian's Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf said: "We are committed to offer our passengers in Iraq the best connectivity with our global network via Amman to over 32 worldwide destinations. To cater for their needs, passengers will receive free visa and hotel accommodation for any connecting flight via Amman exceeding 8 hours."
In line with RJ's expansion plans in Iraq, the airline and the National Bank of Iraq (NBI) sealed an agreement to introduce the first co-branded credit card in Iraq under RJ's frequent flyer program "Royal Club". This co-branded credit card allows its holders the opportunity to earn additional miles on each payment when using the bank's credit card, while exchanging these miles against many rewards that the program offers ranging from flight tickets, upgrade on their travel booking class, extra baggage allowance and many other benefits.
Karim Makhlouf said: "In line with its five-year plan, RJ will double its fleet and expand its route network; it is also placing Iraq as a key market in its growth plan. For this end, we are signing different partnerships with Iraqi institutions, among which is our partnership with the National Bank of Iraq. We are delighted to cooperate with NBI and introduce the first co-branded credit card in Iraq."
He added that this partnership will increase Iraqi passengers' trust in RJ and making it the preferred carrier for traveling to Jordan and from there to the rest of the world.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Bank of Iraq Ayman Abu Dhaim said: "We are proud to conclude this partnership agreement with Royal Jordanian. It is our great pleasure to partner with the national carrier of Jordan, as it is the first, unique partnership taking place between a bank and an airline in Iraq, through which exclusive travel services and new benefits are offered to the bank's clients as well as providing an opportunity to attract new prospect clients."
Within the new exclusive partnership, RJ will be offering special discounts on its economy and business class tickets to NBI's customers when flying from Iraq to Jordan. NBI customers will enjoy 25% discount on their tickets when purchasing their tickets before April 15, 2022 and use these tickets to fly out of Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Sulaymaniah or Najaf to Amman between 6 May and 30 June 2022.
Furthermore, Royal Jordanian is for the first time offering all its passengers in Iraq special medical tourism packages in Jordan in collaboration with Al Abdali Medical Hospital, saving passengers who are seeking medical treatment or consultation the hassle of arranging their trips that can all be finalized through RJ sales offices in Iraq. These packages include preferential prices of RJ round-trip tickets, free- of-charge visa to Amman, meet and greet service at Queen Alia International Airport, hotel accommodation in a 5-star hotel, transfer from Queen Alia International Airport to the hotel and medical procedures at Al Abdali Hospital. Passengers paying for the packages using any of National Bank of Iraq credit or debit cards will get a 10% discount on the total package price with plans to offer future loan facilities.
WIZZ AIR INTRODUCES A NEW ROUTE FROM VILNIUS TO SPLIT IN CROATIA
"Wizz Air", Europe's fastest growing and most sustainable airline*, is introducing a new route from Vilnius to Split in Croatia. First flights will be taking off starting from June 13 and tickets can be purchased on the company's website
The stunning views and enchanting atmosphere every year attracts curious and holiday-ready tourists to Croatia from all around the world. The Dalmatian region is one of the most impressive in Croatia for its natural beauty, landscapes, crystal-clear beaches as well as its breath-taking cities. Split is especially popular with tourists for its historic sites, national parks, beaches in the city centre, cafés and restaurants serving local food and hospitality. The warmest region of Croatia invites travellers to enjoy the wonderful weather from early summer to late autumn.
"We are happy to offer our clients new destinations across Europe. The direct flight from Vilnius to the pearl of Croatia, Split, is perfect for a spring holiday with the whole family, - says Zsuzsa Trubek, Corporate Communications Manager at Wizz Air. - We are sure that Split will captivate even the most discerning holidaymakers. Split is a wonderful place for a family vacation, enticing with the essential attributes of good rest - the sun and the sea."
"Wizz Air" has recently updated and expanded its route map. The passengers from Vilnius can now travel to sunny Barcelona (Spain) and Athens (Greece), rich with historical treasures, also from Kaunas to Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands. For leisure or business travel, it will once again be possible to choose previously popular travel destinations to Belfast, the capital of the Northern Ireland, the southern Danish city of Billund, Doncaster in the north of England and Nice on the Mediterranean coast.
"Wizz Air" has also created a constantly updated WIZZ travel planning map so that passengers can see which destinations in the WIZZ network are available at any given time. It is also a source of information on applicable travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus.
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