Compiled by Willie Bodenstein
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THIS WEEK IN AIRLINES, AIRPORTS AND AIRLINERS
Star Alliance celebrates 25th anniversary as the world's first and leading airline alliance.
Guidance to remove mask mandate a step towards normality.
Renewed cooperation key to delivering tomorrow's international civil aviation sector.
Barrows Hotel Enterprises develops new airport business hotel Lagos.
ITA Airways becomes first Italian A350 operator.
NAC - Embraer's first E-Jet P2F customer.
Aeroflot engages Accenture for IT review.
Norwegian limits losses and protects cash position in the first quarter.
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STAR ALLIANCE CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY AS THE WORLD'S FIRST AND LEADING AIRLINE ALLIANCE
Star Alliance and its 26-member carriers will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the world's first and leading global airline alliance on Saturday, May 14, 2022. This bold vision was established in 1997 based on a customer value proposition of global reach, worldwide recognition and seamless service. It continues today by leveraging technology to foster a harmonious experience for customers.
"We reflect on the successes of Star Alliance in uniting the leading global airlines, with an eye firmly focused on a future where the customer continues to be at the heart of our work and our global network," said Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance.
"I am very excited for the innovations led by Star Alliance and our members carriers as we aim to be the most digitally advanced airline alliance offering seamless travel experiences with a unique loyalty proposition. This year, we look forward to further developments in seamless connectivity - such as new digital and mobile innovations - and exciting industry-first offers that loyal customers of our member carriers will welcome," Goh added.
In conjunction with the anniversary milestone, Star Alliance and its member carriers will release exciting campaigns and customer innovations under the new brand tagline "Together. Better. Connected." The new brand tagline captures the intent of fostering better human connections through the Star Alliance global network coupled with digital seamless connectivity.
"We have defined the way the Earth connects for years, and now more than ever, is the time to enable technology to provide seamless journeys and delight the loyal customers of our member carriers," Mr. Goh said. "I am happy that "Together. Better. Connected." - our new tagline - reflects that earnestly and is also future- facing. It will motivate us to do better."
Among the key successes and future offerings upon which Star Alliance continues to innovate are:
To introduce a new partnership model that cements network leadership.
To be announced an industry-first co-branded credit card in a regional market that will offer loyalty customers of member airlines the opportunity to earn miles and points with spends.
Jointly adopted a sustainability statement with member carriers to commit to the industry goal of net-zero carbon emissions and consequent joint efforts on decarbonisation Star Alliance Biometrics, launched in 2020, is now available across four major airports - Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna - with Hamburg added in April 2022.
Expansion of the Digital Connection Service to augment the Star Alliance Connection Centres to aid connecting passengers at major airports and the airlines serving them. This service is currently available at London Heathrow and will expand to a key European hub soon.
Progressive ability to reserve seats and track baggage location on codeshare flights and multi-carrier journeys through the digital channels of member carriers.
Award-winning Star Alliance lounge in Los Angeles and other premium lounges in Amsterdam, Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Paris, with new options for paid access being progressively rolled out.
Collection and online redemption of points and miles for award flights and upgrades across the twenty-six member carriers Star Alliance innovations are underpinned by a robust and ever-evolving IT infrastructure that integrates the member carriers, coupled with more than 50 business practice standards and audit functions that place the customer at the centre of the travel experience. On that basis, the Alliance has repeatedly won several "Best Airline Alliance" awards including the notable World Travel Awards, Skytrax World Airline Awards and Air Transport Awards, which have recognised its positive contribution to the future of air travel.
GUIDANCE TO REMOVE MASK MANDATE A STEP TOWARDS NORMALITY
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed new guidance from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) removing its recommendation that masks should be required in-flight.
EASA's updated Aviation Health Safety Protocol, published on 11 May, calls for the mandatory mask rule to be relaxed where rules have been relaxed for other transport modes. This important shift reflects the high levels of vaccination, natural immunity levels and the removal of domestic restrictions in many European nations. The updated guidance also acknowledges the need to move from an emergency situation to a more sustainable mode of managing COVID-19.
"We welcome EASA's recommendation to relax the mask mandate, which is another important step along the road back to normality for air passengers. Travelers can look forward to freedom of choice on whether to wear a mask. And they can travel with confidence knowing that many features of the aircraft cabin, such as high frequency air exchange and high efficiency filters, make it one of the safest indoor environments," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.
Several jurisdictions still maintain mask requirements. That is a challenge for airlines and passengers flying between destinations with different requirements. "We believe that mask requirements on board aircraft should end when masks are no longer mandated in other parts of daily life, for example theatres, offices or on public transport. Although the European protocol comes into effect next week, there is no globally consistent approach to mask-wearing on board aircraft. Airlines must comply with the regulations applicable to the routes they are operating. The aircraft crew will know what rules apply and it is critical that passengers follow their instructions. We ask that all travellers be respectful of other people's decision to voluntarily wear masks even if it is not a requirement," said Walsh.
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ICAO RENEWED COOPERATION KEY TO DELIVERING TOMORROW'S INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION SECTOR
On 9 May 2022, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano delivered the opening keynote address at the Future of Aviation Forum, which was hosted in Riyadh by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Held at a pivotal moment for the global aviation sector, Saudi Arabia designed the Future Aviation Forum to bring leaders from across the aviation ecosystem to work together on resilience and modernization and to act as a global platform to collectively set an agenda for the future of the sector.
The President underscored in his introduction how the well-attended and high-level in-person event provided a "very positive sign that more optimistic and profitable horizons now lie ahead for global aviation."
He proceeded to identify several key priorities for the sector at present, including the basic financial viability of both the industry and regulators which oversee it, the increasingly urgent challenge to aggressively decrease and eliminate air transport emissions even as the world and its economic recovery now fundamentally relies on restored traffic growth as well as the resilience aviation needs to achieve to mitigate future pandemic events.
The President's two-day mission to Saudi Arabia also comprised a series of bilateral ministerial meetings at which many of the forum's topics were explored.
Discussions with the Minister of Transport of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Saleh Nasser Al-Jasser and Saudi Arabia's Director-General of Civil Aviation, H.E. Abdulaziz A. Al-Duailaj were followed by meetings with the Minister of Public Works of Guyana, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill; the Minister of Transportation of Libya, H.E Muhammad Salem Al-Shahoubi; the Minister of Transport of Mauretania, H.E. Ahmed Yedaly Moctar and the Minister of Transportation and Civil Aviation of the Maldives, H.E. .Aishath Nahula.
Additionally, the President met with Ms. Paola Tamburelli, the Director General of Civil Aviation of Argentina and the CEO of SITA, Mr. David Lavorel.
The President was accompanied and assisted throughout his mission to Saudi Arabia by ICAO's Regional Director for the Middle East, Mr. Mohamed Abubaker Farea.
BARROWS HOTEL ENTERPRISES DEVELOPS NEW AIRPORT BUSINESS HOTEL LAGOS
Barrows, the provider of hotel investment and advisory services for hotels in the Middle East and Africa, is developing a new 4-star International Airport Business Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.
Hotel Developer Barrows Hotel Enterprises acquired land in the immediate vicinity of Lagos Airport. It is strategically an important choice and very well located. Barrows will develop a modern new building specifically for an International 4-star classification, consisting of a hotel with 139 rooms and various amenities, said Chairman and CEO Erwin Jager.
The rooms will be spread over 4 floors and situated on a podium in which the other facilities, such as a restaurant, meeting facilities, business centre and sports facilities will be realized. Parking will be under the podium. The expected start of construction of this project is February 2023 and will be fully financed through the issuance of medium-term bonds. The project offers a perfect long-term solution for chains such as Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, Marriott or Hilton.
West Africa is growing strongly and in the coming decades, West Africa will develop more hotel resorts combined with new infrastructures which generate a high occupancy by new and existing visitors, jobs and new business opportunities.
Barrows Hotel Enterprises internationally manages over 10,000 hotel rooms in more than 10 countries. Barrows is specialised in the fast-growing hotel industry in the entire MENA Region including West Africa.
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ITA AIRWAYS BECOMES FIRST ITALIAN A350 OPERATOR
ITA Airways, Italy's new national carrier, has taken delivery of its first A350, becoming the 40th operator of the type. The aircraft, which is on lease from ALAFCO, landed for the first time in Italy at Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport last Wednesday evening.
ITA Airways' A350 cabin is configured in a two-class layout, with 334 seats comprising 33 full lie-flat bed Business and 301 Economy seats.
ITA Airways' A350 will start operations early June 2022 to serve the new intercontinental routes that the company will open in the summer season from Rome Fiumicino to Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.
In December 2021, the Italian carrier firmed up an order for 28 Airbus, including 18 Single Aisle (seven A220s, 11 A320neos) and 10 A330neos, the latest version of the most popular A330 widebody airliner. Moreover, ITA Airways has already leased more than 50 additional new generation Airbus aircraft, six of which are A350s, to complement their fleet modernisation.
The Airbus A350's clean-sheet design features state-of-the-art aerodynamics, fuselage and wings made of advanced materials, plus the most fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Together, these latest technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency and sustainability for ITA Airways, with a 25% reduction in fuel-burn and CO2 emissions compared to previous generation aircraft.
NAC - Embraer's first E-Jet P2F Customer
Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) is a launch lessor for the E-Jet P2F - Passenger-to-Freighter - program announced in March 2022. NAC, the world's largest regional aircraft lessor, will convert up to 10 of its fleet of E190s and E195s to freighter aircraft.
The E190F and E195F are perfectly sized for new revenue-generating opportunities. The E-Jet Freighters will have over 50% more volumetric capacity, three times the range of large cargo turboprops and up to 30% lower operating costs than narrowbodies.
The conversions will be completed at Embraer's facilities in Brazil. NAC's first P2F E-Jet is scheduled for delivery in 2024.
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AEROFLOT ENGAGES ACCENTURE FOR IT REVIEW
JSC "Aeroflot - Russian Airlines" and Accenture have announced that they have successfully completed a review of Aeroflot's information technology (IT) organization, processes and systems.
The project's key objective was to align Aeroflot's IT strategy with its overall business strategy, it was the next phase in an effort that began in 2003, with a focus on Aeroflot's infrastructure and organization. This second phase involved a capability assessment of major Aeroflot processes, business and application needs. It evaluated the progress Aeroflot has made since 2003 and recommended business applications and IT services, as well as IT investments that would deliver near term value to Aeroflot.
"This review allows us to evaluate the ability of our IT system to support our business," said Sergey Kiryushin, chief information officer of Aeroflot. "Given the dramatic marketplace changes of the last few years, this information will help us understand the key strategic and tactical tasks we must undertake to maintain our leadership position in the Russian market."
Aeroflot, whose goal is to become a world-class aircraft company, is seeking to improve its position in Russian civil aviation. Its IT strategy supports its alliances with other aircraft companies, its efforts to encourage travellers around the world to consider its flights and its drive to provide passengers with a high level of service.
NORWEGIAN LIMITS LOSSES AND PROTECTS CASH POSITION IN THE FIRST QUARTER
Norwegian reported its first quarter results of 2022. The results in the seasonally weakest quarter of the year were also impacted by the omicron virus and the war in Ukraine, resulting in an operating loss (EBIT) of NOK 849 million. The company has continued to safeguard its cash position at a high level, NOK 7.5 billion, demonstrating the ability to adjust to market demand and discipline in conserving liquidity.
In the first quarter of 2022, Norwegian had 2.2 million passengers, up from 0.2 million in the same period last year. Production (ASK) was 3.9 billion seat kilometres, while passenger traffic (RPK) was 3.0 billion seat kilometres. The load factor increased to 76.9 percent, up from 38.5 percent in the same period last year. Despite the strong growth in available seats and the high number of new routes through the quarter and into April, the company has maintained high load factor levels and has improved earnings.
"We have adapted to fluctuations in demand quickly and efficiently while we have also managed to protect our strong liquidity position even through a challenging period. The increase in bookings ahead of the summer season is significant and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board the close to 280 routes we have available. I am pleased to note that our corporate travellers are starting to return to air travel. We know they place high value on our attractive route network and strong on-time performance record," said Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian.
Punctuality, the share of flights departing on schedule was 88.1 percent in the first quarter of 2022, up from 87.8 percent in the previous quarter.
During the quarter, Norwegian announced an agreement to lease 10 new and fuel-efficient 737 MAX 8 aircraft with delivery in the spring of 2023. In addition, Norwegian is in the process of leasing an additional five 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which will bring the fleet to 85 aircraft by the summer 2023 season.
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