Compiled by Willie Bodenstein
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THIS WEEK IN AIRLINES, AIRPORTS AND AIRLINERS
Pre-departure testing requirements for air travellers to the U.S. lifted effective 12 June 2022
Strong international traffic propels continuing air travel recovery.
Airbus and Kansai Airports partner to study the use of hydrogen in the decarbonisation of the aviation sector in Japan.
Aeromexico, IATA, and Boeing promote the use of SAF during the Summit of The Americas.
Qatar Airways touches down in Santorini, Greece.
CAAS, Singapore Airlines and Temasek to launch sustainable aviation fuel credits in July 2022.
Etihad Airways wins at the Apex Passenger Choice Awards 2022.
KLM Unveils new cabin class: Premium Comfort.
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PRE-DEPARTURE TESTING REQUIREMENTS FOR AIR TRAVELERS TO THE U.S. LIFTED EFFECTIVE 12 JUNE 2022
The CDC order from December 2, 2021, requiring persons aged two and above to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States, is rescinded, effective June 12, 2022, at 12:01AM ET. This means that starting at 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, air passengers will not need to get tested and show a negative COVID-19 test result or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the United States regardless of vaccination status or citizenship.
Of note, CDC's Order requiring proof of vaccination for non-citizen, non-immigrants to travel to the United States is still in effect. For more information see Requirement for Proof of COVID-19Vaccintation for Air Passengers on CDC's website. Please see the CDC website for further information.
The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travellers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you do travel, follow all CDC recommendations before, during, and after travel.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order, which took effect November 8, 2021, requiring all non-immigrant, non-citizen air travellers to the United States to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States remains in effect. Travelers should review the CDC website on international travel for additional information.
STRONG INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC PROPELS CONTINUING AIR TRAVEL RECOVERY
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that air travel resumed its strong recovery trend in April, despite the war in Ukraine and travel restrictions in China. This was driven primarily by international demand.
Total demand for air travel in April 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was up 78.7% compared to April 2021 and slightly ahead of March 2022's 76.0% year-over-year increase.
April domestic air travel was down 1.0% compared to the year-ago period, a reversal from the 10.6% demand rise in March. This was driven entirely by continuing strict travel restrictions in China, where domestic traffic was down 80.8% year-to-year. Overall, April domestic traffic was down 25.8% versus April 2019.
International RPKs rose 331.9% versus April 2021, an acceleration over the 289.9% rise in March 2022 compared to a year ago. Several route areas are actually above pre-pandemic levels, including Europe - Central America, Middle East - North America and North America - Central America. April 2022 international RPKs were down 43.4% compared to the same month in 2019.
"With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities. April data is cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel. The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognize this success soon and take its own steps towards normality," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.
International Passenger Markets
European carriers' April international traffic rose 480.0% versus April 2021, substantially up over the 434.3% increase in March 2022 versus the same month in 2021. Capacity rose 233.5% and load factor climbed 33.7 percentage points to 79.4%.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their April international traffic climb 290.8% compared to April 2021, significantly improved on the 197.2% gain registered in March 2022 versus March 2021. Capacity rose 88.6% and the load factor was up 34.6 percentage points to 66.8%, still the lowest among regions.
Middle Eastern airlines had a 265.0% demand rise in April compared to April 2021, bettering the 252.7% increase in March 2022, versus the same month in 2021. April capacity rose 101.0% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 32.2 percentage points to 71.7%.
North American carriers' April traffic rose 230.2% versus the 2021 period, slightly above the 227.9% rise in March 2022 compared to March 2021. Capacity rose 98.5%, and load factor climbed 31.6 percentage points to 79.3%.
Latin American airlines experienced a 263.2% rise in April traffic, compared to the same month in 2021, exceeding the 241.2% rise in March 2022 over March 2021. April capacity rose 189.1% and load factor increased 16.8 percentage points to 82.3%, which easily was the highest load factor among the regions for the 19th consecutive month.
African airlines' traffic rose 116.2% in April 2022 versus a year ago, an acceleration over the 93.3% year-over-year increase recorded in March 2022. April 2022 capacity was up 65.7% and load factor climbed 15.7 percentage points to 67.3%.
Australia's domestic demand rose 47.5% compared to April 2021, an improvement over the 36.5% rise in March traffic, owing to the lifting of travel restrictions and rising consumer confidence.
Japan likewise saw monthly gains, with domestic RPKs up 57.0% year-over-year, up from a 46.5% rise in March 2022 compared to March 2021.
2022 vs 2019
Total April passenger demand was down 37.2% compared to the same month in 2019, which is an improvement compared to the 41.3% decline for March 2022 versus March 2019.
The Bottom Line
"With the northern summer travel season now upon us, two things are clear: two-years of border restrictions have not weakened the desire for the freedom to travel. Where it is permitted, demand rapidly is returning to pre-COVID levels. However, it is also evident that the failings in how governments managed the pandemic have continued into the recovery. With governments making U-turns and policy changes there was uncertainty until the last minute, leaving little time to restart an industry that was largely dormant for two years. It is no wonder that we are seeing operational delays in some locations. In those few locations where these problems are recurring, solutions need to be found so passengers can travel with confidence.
"In less than two weeks, leaders of the global aviation community will gather in Doha at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit. This year's AGM will take place as a wholly in-person event for the first time since 2019. It should send a strong signal that it is time for governments to lift any remaining restrictions and requirements and prepare for an enthusiastic response by consumers who are voting with their feet for a full restoration of their right to travel," said Walsh.
AIRBUS AND KANSAI AIRPORTS PARTNER TO STUDY THE USE OF HYDROGEN IN THE DECARBONISATION OF THE AVIATION SECTOR IN JAPAN
Airbus and Kansai Airports have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the use of hydrogen at three of the Group's airports in Japan (Kansai International Airport, Osaka International Airport, and Kobe Airport).
Through this partnership, Airbus and Kansai Airports will jointly prepare a roadmap to address challenges and define an advocacy plan for hydrogen needs. Both parties would lead the study into the development of infrastructure for the use of hydrogen in the aviation sector.
Each partner will leverage their complementary expertise to help define the potential opportunities that hydrogen can offer in support of the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. Airbus will provide aircraft characteristics, fleet energy usage, and insight on hydrogen-powered aircraft for ground operations. Kansai Airports will study the infrastructure required at the airports for the introduction of hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.
"We are very pleased to have Kansai Airports, one of Japan's major airport groups, on board," said Stéphane Ginoux, Head of North Asia region for Airbus and President of Airbus Japan. "Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission technologies as it can be created from renewable energy and does not produce emissions. Renewable hydrogen will help decarbonise not only aircraft but also all airport-associated ground transport."
"We have set a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for the three airports we operate, and this partnership with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus will help us reach this goal," said Yoshiyuki Yamaya, Representative Director and CEO of Kansai Airports. Benoit Rulleau, Representative Director and Co-CEO, added, "We are glad to extend here in Japan the joint efforts between Airbus and our shareholder VINCI Airports, leading the introduction of hydrogen in airports, to decarbonize air transport. Japan boasts a very active environment in the field of hydrogen development."
Airbus is already working in partnership with airports around the world including the MoU with VINCI Airports, to lead the scale-up of hydrogen use in the aviation industry. This MoU with Kansai Airports is the first one Airbus has signed with an airport operator in Japan and follows the one signed with Kawasaki Heavy Industries last month to work together towards the realisation of a hydrogen society in Japan.
AEROMEXICO, IATA, AND BOEING PROMOTE THE USE OF SAF
DURING THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
During the Summit of the Americas, Aeromexico joined the initiative led by Boeing and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to promote the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), as part of the global industry's commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, of which Aeromexico is a part.
The airline acquired 6,500 litres of SAF to operate the AM647 flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City on June 5. The flight reduced almost 3.7 tons of CO2, equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road for a day.
It was the first time Aeromexico had used SAF on one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which is one of the most eco-friendly aircraft as it reduces noise outside the cabin by up to 60% compared to other aircraft and CO2 emissions by up to 25%.
In 2010, Aeromexico was a pioneer in the use of SAF in Mexico and later became the first airline in Latin America to carry out long-haul flights with said fuel. The company is part of the World Economic Forum's Clean Skies for Tomorrow initiative to make 10% of the aviation fuel SAF by 2030.
In this framework, there were two roundtables to discuss the path that the industry must follow to reach the goal of net-zero emissions, and the relevance of creating public policies in the region that allow the effective commercialisation and transition to the use of SAF.
SAF is a type of fuel made from non-edible plants, agricultural, forestry, municipal, or industrial plant waste, among other things. It reduces carbon emissions by up to 80% during its life cycle, so its use represents a more immediate possibility to diminish CO2 emissions. Other benefits are that it can be mixed with petroleum-based fuel without requiring any modifications to aircraft, engines, or fuelling infrastructure.
In alliance with Boeing, seven airlines from around the world joined this initiative acquiring a total of 379 thousand litres of SAF for commercial flights that took off at Los Angeles Airport during the Summit, which reduced more than 214 tons of CO2, equivalent to nearly 29,500 cars being off the road for one day.
QATAR AIRWAYS TOUCHES DOWN IN SANTORINI, GREECE
As the holiday season gets under way, Qatar Airways is making it easier for customers to enjoy the Greek Isles with the launch of its new service to Santorini (JTR), and the resumption of flights to Mykonos (JMK).
The first flight from Doha to Santorini on Tuesday 07 June, was operated by an A320 aircraft featuring 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy Class and was welcomed by Senior Executives from Fraport Greece as the aircraft landed at Santorini International Airport for the first time.
The airline marked the occasion by creating a bespoke in-flight food menu, designed to embrace traditional Greek cuisine, with specially decorated cutlery bands for all passengers, and an illustrated menu card for Business Class customers. Passengers were also gifted celebratory cupcakes to mark the occasion.
The inaugural flight from Doha was operated by Qatari Captain Abdulaziz Al Kaabi and Greek Captain Andrew Evlambides, in honour of the first flight to Santorini. The island destination joins Athens and Mykonos to become the third Greek gateway to be served by the national carrier of the State of Qatar.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "The Greek Isles are a leading tourist destination and an important market for Qatar Airways. There is high interest from across our network for flights to Santorini, specifically in the leisure segment. We are committed to offering our passengers as many seamless one-stop connection choices as possible. I am sure visitors from the Middle East, Asia, Australia and the Americas will be pleased to have Santorini served by our airline."
Mr. Alexander Zinell, CEO Fraport Greece said: "We feel honoured that Qatar Airways' has included Santorini in its network and expanding its presence at the Fraport Greece operated airports. Greece offers to the world some truly iconic holiday destinations and Qatar Airways now makes Santorini accessible from numerous new markets via its Doha hub. The 5-star Qatar Airways product is a perfect match to outstanding Santorini. The travel experience has been further upgraded as our brand-new Santorini Airport Terminal is now completed. We will continue to work with Qatar Airways and partners offering highly efficient airport operations and passenger experience worthy of the Santorini brand name."
Seasonal flights to Mykonos resumed on 03 June, with four weekly flights, and flights to Athens have increased to a double daily service, offering greater choice for business and leisure passengers alike.
With the three weekly flights to Santorini, passengers can now enjoy seamless connectivity to over 150 destinations across the airline's extensive global network via the best airport in the world, Hamad International Airport, connecting with popular destinations across the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Enhanced connectivity means customers can leave Australia on Friday night and arrive in Santorini by Saturday afternoon.
Santorini, famous for its distinctive blue and white architecture and known as Thira, is one of the jewels of the Aegean Sea and it's popular with visitors looking for wonderful cuisine and hospitality set against the backdrop of some of the most famous views in the world.
Qatar Airways continues to apply its flexible booking policy that offers unlimited changes to travel dates and destinations, and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued for travel completed by 30 September 2022.
Passengers flying to and from Santorini will also benefit from Qatar Airways' generous baggage allowances which provides for up to 35kg in Economy class and 40kg with an additional two pieces of hand luggage in Business Class.
CAAS, SINGAPORE AIRLINES AND TEMASEK TO LAUNCH SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL CREDITS IN JULY 2022
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Singapore Airlines (SIA), and Temasek will launch the sale of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) credits in July 2022. The sale of the SAF credits is part of a CAAS-SIA-Temasek pilot announced in November 2021 to advance the use of SAF in Singapore.
A total of 1,000 SAF credits will be available for sale. These are generated from the 1,000 tonnes of neat SAF which are blended, delivered, and uplifted from Singapore Changi Airport, and are expected to cut carbon dioxide emission by 2,500 tonnes. Every credit purchased will help to reduce 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The launch of the SAF credits provides customers including corporate and individual travellers, as well as freight forwarders an avenue to do their part for the environment, and reduce their carbon footprint. By purchasing these credits, they can also help to stimulate demand for SAF, support the development of the nascent SAF industry, and advance the adoption of SAF for aviation sustainability.
The SAF credits will be registered as part of a pilot project within the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)1 Book & Claim System to ensure that the SAF credit transactions are conducted in a trusted and transparent manner, with no double counting of credits. The Book & Claim System is enabled by the RSB which is one of the global leaders in sustainability certification standards.
SIA's corporate customers and freight forwarders can purchase the SAF credits directly from SIA, mitigating carbon emissions related to their flights. Freight forwarders can in turn also sell the credits to their downstream clients to reduce carbon emissions from their business operations.
From the fourth quarter of 2022, all SIA customers will be able to purchase a mix of SAF credits and carbon offsets, as part of the SIA Group Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme. SIA will also partner Climate Impact X (CIX), a global exchange for quality carbon credits, to introduce a bundled portfolio consisting of SAF credits and carbon credits. The product will be designed to meet corporate demand for SAF while balancing affordability.
ETIHAD AIRWAYS WINS AT THE APEX PASSENGER CHOICE AWARDS 2022
Etihad Airways has been recognised in the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) Passenger Choice Awards in a glittering awards ceremony in Dublin, Ireland last night. The UAE's national airline took home the 2022 Passenger Choice Award® for Best Entertainment in the Middle East.
On Etihad's E-BOX entertainment offering, guests will find over 200 movies, more than 350 TV shows, 15 radio channels and 800 albums in a variety of genres and languages. Video and audio content is supplemented with a wide variety of games as well as seven channels of Live TV featuring global news channels and sport.
On the airline's newest A350 aircraft, the latest features include wireless charging in Business class and Bluetooth headset pairing throughout the aircraft. The new flight map technology also features a fun and interactive children's mode, where young travellers can explore the world with animated dinosaur friends.
APEX once again partnered with TripIt® from Concur®, the world's highest-rated travel-organising app, to gather anonymous passenger feedback based on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights for the honour. For the 2022 Awards, nearly one million flights were rated by passengers across more than 600 airlines from around the world using a five-star scale. On the same screen, passengers were given the opportunity to provide anonymous ratings in five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. The single screen rating allows airline passengers to easily rate their flight in less than 15 seconds.
Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand and Marketing said: "We're consistently investing in the Etihad experience and we're proud our inflight entertainment has been recognised in the APEX awards based on genuine passenger feedback. The content on Etihad's E-BOX is hand-curated to cater to the wide demographic Etihad flies across its global network. On our newest fleet, Wi-Fi connectivity and other innovations like Bluetooth headset pairing and wireless device charging complement this leading entertainment offering."
KLM UNVEILS NEW CABIN CLASS: PREMIUM COMFORT
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines presented its new Premium Comfort Class, an intermediate cabin offering more space, luxury, service options, comfort and privacy than Economy Class, at lower prices than World Business Class. The new Premium Comfort Class allows KLM to more closely meet the needs and wishes of leisure and business travellers.
Premium Comfort is an entirely new inflight class with its own cabin, offering a new type of seat as well as distinctive service and catering concepts. Depending on the aircraft type, the capacity of Premium Comfort Class will vary from 21 to 28 seats, which will be wider than standard seats, offering more legroom, a larger screen and a footrest. Premium Comfort seats can also recline further than Economy Class seats. The reconfiguration of aircraft cabins will be carried out by specialists at KLM Engineering & Maintenance at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
"We have great expectations for this new Premium Comfort Class, based on extensive market research. The new class will meet the wishes of business passengers as well as leisure travellers, strengthening KLM's standing as a global network carrier offering an appealing and varied range: World Business Class, Premium Comfort and Economy Class. It also reaffirms our partnership with Delta Air Lines, Air France and Virgin Atlantic on North Atlantic routes, where we can now combine all products on all routes." Boet Kreiken, executive vice president of KLM Customer Experience.
Premium Comfort also has a distinctive catering concept. On intercontinental services, one or two hot meals will be served, depending on the duration of the flight. There will always be a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian dishes. After the meal, passengers will be offered coffee, tea, liqueur and ice cream. A variety of snacks and cocktails will also be served between meals, which will be largely selected from those that were previously popular in World Business Class.
Lightweight and reusable
The new seats in Premium Comfort Class were designed by Collins Aerospace together with specialists at KLM Customer Experience. Apart from their elegant design and comfort features, the seats are also lighter than previous designs. Similar care was taken in selecting catering materials for Premium Comfort. They are either reusable (special cutlery, bowls and plates made of lightweight polypropylene) and those that are not reusable are made of recycled PEF. All materials were carefully assessed in terms of circularity and weight, without detracting from aesthetic features.
The Premium Comfort Class experience will start at the airport, where passengers will have more flexible baggage arrangements and SkyPriority privileges, including preferential check-in and boarding.
The first aircraft equipped with Premium Comfort Class will operate on routes to North America. It is anticipated that passengers will be able to book Premium Comfort to a growing range of destinations from the end of the July 2022.
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