Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 25 April to 1 May 2022

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


ICAO-Qatar developing country scholarship programme for aviation professionals.

Ethiopian Airlines, UTD Aviation Solutions and AFRAA sign MoU to re-establish African Aviation Renaissance in MRO Services.

Dramatic increase in airport charges "damages recovery of air connectivity in the Netherlands".

Qatar Airways launches voluntary carbon offset programme for its corporate and trade clients.

Etihad publishes 2020-2021 sustainability report showcasing achievements of Greenliner programme.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines chooses Digital Alliance's Skywise Predictive Maintenance solution for its A320 family fleet.

Boeing enters 737 MAX MRO agreement with Spirit AeroSystems.

Air New Zealand resumes flights to more North American destinations.

WalletHub names Delta best US airline, most reliable.


An agreement has been reached between ICAO and the Government of the State of Qatar that will see the extension for a further three years of the ICAO-Qatar Developing Country Scholarship Programme. The programme aims to deliver training to aviation personnel globally to ensure the safety, efficiency and regularity of international civil aviation and alignment with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

The agreement was signed by ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar and Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) President H.E. Mohamed Faleh Al Hajri at a virtual signing ceremony held in Montréal and Doha.

Implemented through the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau, the programme will award scholarships to participants worldwide in areas of training jointly identified by ICAO and the Government of Qatar targeting developing countries most in need of assistance in those specific areas of training. ICAO will assist the Government of Qatar in identifying and recommending relevant subject matter experts and processing the nominations received jointly with the Government of Qatar.

"The signature of this Memorandum of Understanding renews the commitment made in 2018 by the State of Qatar to assist developing countries through this and other initiatives aimed at ensuring adherence to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices and continuous training," remarked Mr. Salazar. "This programme, administered by ICAO's Technical Cooperation Bureau, will have a significant impact towards achieving a sustainable global civil aviation system."

"The signing of this memorandum stems from our belief in the importance of our strategic partnership with ICAO and in commitment to its mission, goals and principles, in addition to its international initiatives aimed at further developing a safe and sustainable civil aviation sector throughout the world," stated Mr. Mohammed Faleh Al-Hajri. "This memorandum also aligns with Qatar's vision of focusing on human development and the importance of the human role in building a prosperous and developed society. This is indeed what it will contribute to by strengthening the human capabilities in developing countries to ensure the best implementation of all ICAO's standards and recommended practices."


Ethiopian Airlines MRO, UTD Aviation Solutions and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) have signed a tripartite MoU to work together on Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services in pursuance to the The Brown Condor Initiative (BCI). The signing ceremony took place at Ethiopian Airlines headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Brown Condor Initiative (BCI) is a joint initiative which was conceptualised in 2020 and officially launched by UTD Aviation Solutions and AFRAA in May 2021. The BCI project is aimed at providing a platform for AFRAA members with Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities to relieve USA MRO workforce crunch in terms of both facilities and manpower constraints, as well as support other airlines from USA in MRO services and aircraft spares.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé, AFRAA Secretary General stated: "This signing ceremony with Ethiopian Airlines is a significant milestone in the Brown Condor project. We express our appreciation to Ethiopian Airlines as the first African airline to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will operationalise the objectives of this robust Project."

"For 2 years, as part of the industry recovery measures at AFRAA, we have been working with partners to bring solutions to our members to reduce costs or increase revenues. We look forward to onboard other AFRAA airlines with EASA or FAA Certified MRO capabilities onto this project. Our joint efforts reflect a paradigm shift in the MRO industry." Mr Berthé added.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tassew on his part, said: Ethiopian MRO Services, as the largest MRO service provider in Africa, is continuously increasing its capacity and expanding its reach to customers in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. We are pleased to sign this MoU with UTD and AFRAA as it is in line with our plan to increase our market reach and build our presence in North America and tap into the big potential market in the region."

"The pandemic has exposed how delicate the aviation pipeline truly is. OEMs and MRO's have consistent demand for airframe checks and engine shop visits and a relatively predictable demand for new, repaired and used spares. Without a major paradigm shift, we will never find a solution. The African Aviation Renaissance is the paradigm shift needed for the solution to this crisis.

This Tripartite Agreement will correct the trajectory of the aviation comeback. "said Dahir Mohammed, President and CEO of UTD Aviation Solutions.

The MoU will forge collaboration between AFRAA member airlines' associated MROs with US Airlines, MROs, OEMS, distributors and other US civil aviation organisations companies. The management of the airline's MRO excess of spare parts inventory both locally and from USA shall be coordinated through a virtual consignment's platform.

The Brown Condor Initiative is code named after Colonel John C. Robinson, the first African American aviator who also participated in the Ethiopian victorious war against Italy. Colonel John C. Robinson was enlisted by the then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as a fighter pilot. He immediately began training young Ethiopians in the technical complexities of aviation, especially pilots in preparation for war. For his daring service amid Ethiopian skies, Robinson earned international renown as the "Brown Condor of Ethiopia." Through this unique joint initiative, UTD Aviation and AFRAA seek to re-establish African aviation renaissance in MRO services and aircraft spares.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that a proposed 37% increase in airport charges in the Netherlands risks significant damage to the recovery of air connectivity in the country.

Following a formal review in which IATA and several airlines participated, the regulator for airport charges at Schiphol, ACM, released a decision on 21 April which accepted the airport's position that due to losses incurred during the COVID-19 shutdown, it must raise airport charges by a cumulative 37% over the next three years.

Air travel has still not recovered from COVID-19, the greatest shock in aviation history. The impacts in the Netherlands were acute: at its height, COVID-19 caused passenger numbers to fall by more than 70%, at a cost of around 200,000 aviation-supported jobs. A gradual recovery is underway, but the foundations are weak.

IATA's Connectivity Index shows the Netherlands is still 35% below its 2019 peak. At this crucial time, for the benefit of the Netherlands as a whole, air connectivity should be supported. Unfortunately, ACM's decision puts the country's position as one of the most competitive European air transport hubs at risk.

The Dutch regulator's stance is in sharp contrast with the position taken by other independent regulators in the region, which are trying to fulfil their duties to protect the consumer.

In Spain, the regulator rejected the claims from the airport operator that it needed to recover its pandemic losses. The Spanish regulator calculated that the airport operator had sufficient cash reserves to cover the shortfall and that it would benefit from growing traffic in coming years - and it has frozen charges for the next three years.

Schiphol is in a similar situation and the regulator should be similarly robust. Pre-pandemic, Schiphol declared EUR 742 million of dividends over the 2015-19 period and it has several options to cover its losses. Schiphol can easily finance short-term losses without increasing costs to its customers.

"Schiphol airport and its regulator have completely failed to consider the exceptional circumstances that were created by COVID-19. The cost recovery system was never expected to operate in circumstances where demand would totally collapse for an extended period due to government- imposed travel restrictions. It cannot be reasonable to dump a 37% increase on airlines and their passengers. Nor is it sensible to put such costs onto air transport in the Netherlands at a time when other cost pressures, including rising environmental taxes, are already damaging the competitive position of Dutch aviation," said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA's Regional Vice President for Europe.


Qatar Airways has launched a voluntary carbon offset programme for corporate customers. This initiative will enable corporate and trade clients to offset their own carbon emissions via a dedicated web portal at any time before or after a flight.

The Qatar Airways voluntary carbon offset programme allows its corporate clients to offset or reduce the carbon emissions associated with their business travel, and empowers them to make sustainable choices. With this, companies work towards their sustainability goals while they collaborate with the global airline to advance their carbon neutrality goals.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "Building a long-term sustainable aviation industry requires coordinated efforts and businesses play an important role in building more environmentally friendly and more sustainable air travel. We are happy to provide an opportunity for our corporate clients to voluntarily offset the carbon footprint of corporate trips through recognised projects that help both communities and the environment and encourage them to make carbon offsetting part of their carbon management plan. This further supports the Qatar Airways Group's goal to strengthen our environmental sustainability efforts and enhances our leadership position in the aviation industry."

Built on a partnership with the International Air Transport Association's (IATA), the leading programme provides Qatar Airways' customers a customised environmental solution with the assurance that the credits bought to offset these emissions are from projects delivering independently verified carbon reductions, as well as wider environmental and social benefits. This new programme reaffirms our industry's ambition to reach our climate targets while we drive innovation and bring other social, environmental or economic benefits.

This new programme uses the IATA industry best practice for calculating CO2 emissions and it has been designed to simplify the process for our customers, offering them innovative solutions towards achieving their environmental commitments on climate change. Initial emissions will be offset with a leading renewable energy project with additional verified projects to be included in the near future.

Since 2020, the Qatar Airways' Voluntary Carbon Offsetting Programme has been contributing with the Fatanpur Wind Farm project located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, consisting of 54 wind turbines, which generate a combined output of 108 MW and avoids 210,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. The support for the Fatanpur project not only reduces global carbon emissions, it also provides employment opportunities; delivers improved education through providing materials and expertise to nearby schools and supports a mobile medical unit - enabling improved healthcare to the local community.

In November 2020, Qatar Airways announced the official launch of its voluntary carbon offset programme for passengers. Subsequently in November 2021, Qatar Airways Cargo, the freight division of Qatar Airways Group, also launched its new voluntary carbon offsetting programme for air cargo shipments, becoming the first cargo carrier to join the IATA CO2NNECT platform and the first airline in the world to make a carbon transaction through the IATA Aviation Carbon Exchange (ACE) via IATA Clearing House (ICH).

As one of the world's leading airline, Qatar Airways is committed in its efforts collaborate with the industry stakeholders to address carbon emissions and which will allow its customers to easily incorporate carbon-neutral business practices into their overall corporate strategy.


Etihad has released its Sustainability Report 2020-2021, outlining the impact the company has had on the environment and detailing its sustainability strategy, represented by the Etihad Greenliner and Sustainable50 programmes. The report demonstrates the potential advancements to be made in sustainable aviation by a wide range of initiatives, coordinated to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions intensity in its passenger fleet by 2025, cut 2019 net emissions by 50% by 2035 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: "Our sustainability report highlights our insistence on harnessing the opportunities that are available today and commits to continuing to find solutions for the future. Many partners joined us on this journey over the last two years and this report demonstrates the potential we have collectively, with an ambition to set the direction for 2022 and beyond.

"We need to be bold in facing this issue. We need to be decisive. There is no other way forward. That is why we have been insistent that we continue to focus on the question as a long-term strategic priority for our business, spearheaded by the Etihad Greenliner and Sustainabile50 programmes."

Etihad 2020-2021 sustainability highlights

Reduced total carbon emissions by 56% (due in part to reduced scheduled operations from pandemic impact)
Launched the world's most comprehensive industry-wide testing and innovation programme
Became the first airline to secure commercial finance based on verified compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations
Raised US$1.2 billion in the first sustainability-linked loan (SLL) tied to environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets in global aviation.
Partnered with Boeing, Safran and NASA for eight days of specialised testing to enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise as part of 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme
Operated five ecoFlights testing a range of operational efficiencies and onboard sustainability initiatives across its network
Tested and implemented world first operational efficiencies and technology solutions including Jeppesen Flite Deck Advisor, SATAVIA contrail avoidance, GE Engine Foam Wash, eTech logs and lightweight Unit Load Devices
Deployed 33 electric tractors with 37% of flights serviced by the new electric tractors
Restructured Etihad's fleet strategy to focus on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, with the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 as the backbone of its fleet
Launched the first aircraft carbon offset programme in the Middle East
Continued efforts for Wildlife, Conservation and Protection of Biodiversity and Animal Welfare
Set up the UAE Anti-Wildlife Tracking taskforce with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE and the Royal Foundation in the UK.
Announced Etihad Mangroves Forrest project to establish carbon absorbing forests in every country Etihad operates
Became official airline sponsor of the BGCI Global Biodiversity Standard


The Digital Alliance has welcomed SAS Scandinavian Airlines as its first customer for its Skywise Predictive Maintenance (SPM) solution. The new solution chosen by the airline is called "SPM Alliance" and will enhance the operations of its A320 Family fleet of around 70 aircraft.

This is the first solution from the Digital Alliance combining predictive maintenance algorithms from Airbus as OEM, Delta TechOps as an MRO and operational expert and GE Digital as software expert. It encompasses a wide scope of components for aircraft and engines produced by various manufacturers.

"SAS is proud to be the launch customer of SPM Alliance and we look forward to using its powerful analytics," said Marko Rudic, Head of Technical Operations at SAS. "Thanks to SPM Alliance, we will be able to pre-empt operational disruptions and accelerate maintenance decisions by predicting potential in-service issues across our large A320 Family fleet. This is the proactive approach to fleet technical management that SAS wants to take."

"As airlines are on the path to recovery, it is more important than ever to support them in saving costs and optimising their fleets' availability. This is precisely what SPM Alliance does: covering a wide scope of equipment, our new solution brings another dimension to predictive maintenance that will considerably reduce unplanned maintenance," said Lionel Rouby, SVP Digital Solutions, Airbus.

The Digital Alliance was initiated with Delta TechOps in 2019 and then strengthened in 2021 with the arrival of GE Digital; it aims at developing a portfolio of nose-to-tail and cross-fleet solutions that will harness each member's respective analytics capabilities expertise for airframes, systems and engines, to be accessed via a unified portal through the Skywise platform.


Boeing Global Services has announced a new agreement with Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. and its affiliates to combine aftermarket resources, expanding the MRO footprint in support of nacelle and flight control repairs for the global 737 MAX fleet. The agreement will enhance Boeing support for nacelle and flight control surface removals with a more robust MRO footprint while combining Boeing's industry-leading asset pool with the hands-on repair experience of Spirit AeroSystems.

"With this agreement,
Boeing Global Services is strategically positioned to assist all 737 MAX operators by providing lease and exchange programs to respond quickly to unforeseen events," said Mini Desai, vice president of Commercial Spares and Managed Parts, Boeing Global Services. "Our business serves our customer base beyond the sale of aircraft and now we can expand lease and exchange support for aerostructures with Spirit AeroSystems."

Spirit AeroSystems has extensive experience with the 737 MAX as the original production manufacturer of the fuselage, thrust reverser, slats and flaps. This will be the first pooling program Boeing has offered for these specific high value large structural parts. The offering was developed to expand Boeing's parts services options in response to customer needs.

"Spirit is thrilled to be selected by Boeing Global Services as its global partner for 737 MAX aerostructures repair, including Nacelles and Flight Control Services," said Kailash Krishnaswamy, senior vice president of Aftermarket Services for Spirit. "Over the last three years, we have expanded from a single MRO center in Wichita to five MRO centers on four hub continents, which will allow us to serve Boeing's global customers locally. This strategic partnership will allow us to provide customized, high-quality MRO solutions at industry leading turn-around times for our customers' 737 MAX nacelles and flight controls."


Air New Zealand has resumed its non-stop service to San Francisco and looks forward to resuming services to Honolulu on 4 July and to Houston on 7 July. This follows the airline recently announcing commencement of its new service between Auckland and New York, JFK from 17 September 2022 and the airline carrying passengers daily between Auckland and Los Angeles since March this year. Air New Zealand has also been flying three times a week to Vancouver since February.

The services to San Francisco will initially operate three times a week with state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, meaning that customers flying these routes will be able to enjoy the airline's uniquely kiwi Business Premier, Premium Economy and Economy Skycouch product offerings.

The configuration of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will service these routes offers more Premium seats than other Dreamliners in the airline's fleet.

"Recommencing services across our North America routes as the border reopens is another step towards the gradual resumption of flights to destinations across our international network," says Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty.

"Our North America network plays a key role in our Kia Mau Thrive strategy, so it's great to be able to reopen another important port into the region. San Francisco is a year-round destination for Kiwis and equally, an important departure point for Americans looking to visit New Zealand and Australia."

"With our strong partnership with United Airlines, our customers can fly daily to hundreds of domestic destinations across the USA. And with our Star Alliance and other alliances partners, we also offer multiple international connecting opportunities to Canada, UK and Europe."


Delta has been recognized as the best U.S. airline and most reliable airline for 2021 by the consumer website WalletHub. The rankings, announced Tuesday, determined that Delta had the lowest rate of cancellations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boardings among U.S. carriers.

WalletHub based its rankings on 2021 U.S. Transportation Department data on the nine largest U.S. airlines along with two regional carriers that report
to the agency. The data covered 16 key metrics across four major categories: baggage, departures and complaints; animal incidents; in-flight comfort, cost and safety.

"We have never strayed from our focus on safety and reliability and this award is a reflection of the unwavering commitment of our people to that focus," said John Laughter, E.V.P. and Chief of Operations. "Delta people are the best in the industry and we're proud to have their hard work recognized."

Delta is the most-awarded airline in the U.S. and has recently been recognized as the No. 1 U.S. airline by the Wall Street Journal, as well as the highest-rated airline on Fortune's list of Most Admired Airlines. Delta also received Cirium's Platinum Award for operational excellence, presented to an airline with outstanding performance considering the complexity of the airline's operation, volume of flights, diversity of its network and other key operational factors.

Besides aiming to lead the industry in reliability and on-time performance, key customer-focused initiatives in 2021 propelled Delta's brand loyalty and high customer satisfaction. The middle seat block through May 2021, the Delta CareStandard and a commitment to a sterling customer experience made Delta the airline of choice during what became a rapid year of recovery and rebuilding.

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