Airlines, Airports and Airliners 25 May 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This Week in Airlines, Airports and Airliners

ICAO formalizes new implementation support agreement with Libya.

Statement on the end of COVID as an international public health emergency.

ISAGO -15 Years of advancing aviation safety.

Philippine Airlines selects A350-1000 for future long-haul fleet.

Embraer displays the E195-E2 at LIMA Malaysia 2023.

Air transport industry turns to digitalization as baggage mishandling rates virtually double amid growing passenger volumes.

Robust growth in passenger volume continues at HKIA in April.

BER records 1.9 million passengers in April.

Worldwide incidents and accidents

Bonus Video - Piper Malibu to Matsieng, Botswana.


A new implementation support agreement has been formalized with Libya which aims to heighten the application of the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in the State.

It was signed by ICAO Secretary General, Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar (pictured left), and the Minister of Transport of Libya, Mr. Mohammed Salem AlShoobi, on 10 May 2023.

Undertaken in close coordination with the ICAO Middle East Regional Office, the signing of the Management Service Agreement (MSA) marks the first of such agreement with Libya. It will see ICAO make available its portfolio of implementation support products and services, such as provision of expertise, project management, training packages and procurement, to support Libya in its aviation upgrade activities, in line with the implementation support services offered by ICAO.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) responded to a statement from the Director General of the World Health Organization at the conclusion of the 15th meeting of the International Health Regulations, in which he declared that COVID was no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

IATA Deputy Director-General Conrad Clifford said: "It is good news that the WHO has formally recognized that COVID no longer represents a public health emergency of international concern. Recent decisions, for example by the Chinese and US governments to relax the last remaining COVID restrictions on travel, are evidence that the world is doing its best to get back to normal. But it is important that we never forget what a terrible disaster the pandemic has been. Most of all it was a tragedy for families that lost loved ones, but it has also been an economic and social disaster on a scale and with consequences that still remain to be properly understood. That is why it is so important to learn the lessons of this pandemic to make sure that we are better prepared to manage future health emergencies with much less destruction of lives and livelihoods.

IATA From a travel perspective, we know that the lack of scientific basis, consistency or clear communication of the restrictions brought in by governments meant that many of them had little impact on the spread of the virus, but exacerbated the misery caused to millions of people who could no longer visit their families or pursue their business. And for aviation, that meant millions of jobs at risk and global air connectivity set back by years. Therefore, it is important governments heed the lessons from COVID - what worked, and what didn't work. Decisions taken during the next global public health emergency should be consistent, grounded in science, risk-assessed, and well communicated.

Equally, recognizing the vital role that aviation has played in ensuring the movement of vaccines, medicines, equipment and medical professionals, governments should make all efforts to maintain global air connectivity and supply chains and to designate aviation personnel as key workers rather than being subject to harsh quarantine restrictions.

Better preparedness will require more effective collaboration, for example between governments and industry and between aviation and health sectors. IATA is committed to working with global partners, including the WHO and ICAO, to implement new best practices and guidance, and ensure a more resilient and successful approach to managing and safeguarding public health and wellbeing in future years."


The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) has been advancing aviation safety for the last 15 years. ISAGO is an industry program for the global oversight of ground handling service providers (GHSPs). It is based on the IATA's Ground Operations Manual (IGOM) standards. Since its launch in May 2008, over 3,000 audits have been conducted worldwide, making it the industry global standard for ground handling service providers (GHSPs).

"Over the past 15 years, ISAGO has matured and evolved to become a centre of excellence for safety auditing in ground handling. With 195 organizations onboard it is now the driving force in improving ramp safety, reducing ground damage and enabling standardized and sustainable operations. It also plays a role in mitigating the billions of dollars of damage to aircraft and equipment that happens each year and helps airlines to allocate resources efficiently. More and more governments and airports now recognize ISAGO as part of their safety oversight programs," said Monika Mejstrikova, IATA's Director of Ground Operations.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) and dnata Dubai were the world's first ISAGO-accredited ground handling service providers and have maintained their ISAGO registration for 15 years. Both companies acknowledge the positive impact of ISAGO in their operations.

"ISAGO plays a vital role in enhancing aviation safety levels - in particular, by standardizing many different safety standards and recommended practices and minimizing the potential risks in ground handling around the world. It is an invaluable resource and significant safety driver for all parties," said Wilson Kwong, Hactl's Chief Executive.

The ISAGO Registry now includes 195 GHSPs that provide services at 324 accredited stations in 206 airports around the world. Over 100 ISAGO airline members have instant access to the ISAGO Registry, where they can access nearly 500 different ISAGO audit reports and drive more efficient oversight of outsourced ground handling services including risk, cost and audit reduction.

"ISAGO has been an integral part of our journey towards continuous improvement, and we are proud to have achieved this significant milestone. The positive impact that ISAGO has brought to our operations cannot be overstated, and we remain fully committed to upholding its rigorous standards," said Jaffar Dawood, dnata Senior Vice President Airport Operations UAE, Middle East, and Africa.

Future Proofing ISAGO
ISAGO is constantly evolving to reduce duplicate audits and drive greater standardization of ground handling processes worldwide. And to drive further simplification of audit processes and to ensure GHSPs' readiness for the ISAGO audit, IATA launched the free Operational Portal to help GHSPs and airlines to perform a gap analysis between their ground operational procedures and IGOM. The tool helps to identify operational variations with the intention to reduce them and standardize procedures according to IGOM. In addition, a new checklist is being developed that mirrors IGOM and Airport Handling manual requirements, allowing for remote documentation validation through the Operational Portal. "We remain committed to evolving ISAGO," said Mejstrikova.


Philippine Airlines (PAL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for the purchase of nine A350-1000s. Under the Philippine carrier's Ultra Long Haul Fleet project, the A350-1000 will be operated on non-stop services from Manila to North America, including to the East Coast of the US and Canada.

The new aircraft will join two A350-900s already in service at the airline and currently flying to destinations in North America, Asia and Australia. As with the A350-900, the PAL A350-1000s will be configured in a premium layout with separate Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class cabins.

Captain Stanley K. Ng, President and Chief Operating Officer of Philippine Airlines, said that the range of the A350-1000 would enable the airline to fly non-stop transpacific and transpolar routes in both directions all year. These will include some of the longest commercial flights in the world, such as those linking the Philippines with New York and Toronto. With an expanded A350 fleet, PAL will have the ability to once again provide a direct link from the Philippines to Europe.

"The A350-1000 combines greater range capability with the higher capacity we need to serve future demand. It's the perfect aircraft to enable PAL to meet its expansion plans in a sustainable way, while offering passengers the highest levels of onboard comfort. We are committed to offering our passengers the best possible travel experience, and these state-of-the-art aircraft will enable us to do just that as we carry out our mission to connect the world, and grow trade and tourism."

Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, said: "Flying passengers farther and in greater comfort, the A350 brings a step-change in fuel efficiency and an immediate significant contribution to reduced emissions. These are the attributes that have made the A350 the choice of leading airlines worldwide. We look forward to working closely with our long-standing customer Philippine Airlines as it moves forward with its long-haul fleet modernisation programme."

The A350 is the world's most modern and efficient widebody aircraft and has set new standards for intercontinental travel. It offers the longest-range capability of any commercial airliner in production today and is capable of flying 8,700 nautical miles or 16,100 kilometres non-stop.

At the end of April 2023, the A350 Family had won 928 firm orders from 54 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful wide-body aircraft ever. Some 530 aircraft are currently in the fleets of 40 airlines, flying primarily on long haul routes.

Philippine Airlines operates various Airbus types on its full-service network. In addition to the A350 on long-haul intercontinental routes, PAL flies A330-300s on services to the Middle East, Australia and various points in Asia. The Philippine flag carrier also operates a fleet of A320 and A321 single aisle aircraft on its extensive domestic and regional network out of hubs in Manila and Cebu.


Embraer's E195-E2, the world's most efficient and quietest single-aisle aircraft, will be on display at the 16th edition of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) starting 23 May 2023.

The E195-E2 is the newest and most environmentally friendly aircraft in its class and is operated by airlines such as KLM, Azul (Brazil), and most recently, Porter Airlines of Canada. With a capacity of up to 146 passengers, the E195-E2, which entered into service as recently as 2019, is part of the advanced E2 family that is shaping the regional market with its sustainable technologies, superior cabin comfort, excellent economics and optimal range. The aircraft has a range of 2,600nm, the equivalent of about seven hours of flight.

"We're proud to display the E195-E2 at LIMA 2023 - the latest commercial aircraft in the industry to enter into service and the largest member of our E-Jet family," said Raul Villaron, Vice President, Asia Pacific for Embraer Commercial Aviation. "The modern cabin interior with Embraer's signature two by two seating is popular with passengers wishing to avoid the dreaded middle seat. The economics and performance of the aircraft offer airlines a compelling solution to grow their regional networks and establish new routes while lowering fuel and noise emissions."

In early July 2022, Embraer and Pratt & Whitney successfully tested a E195-E2 aircraft on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). With 100% SAF, the 25% reduction in emissions achieved by the E2 over the first-generation E-Jets can be increased up to an impressive 85%. The E195-E2 also demonstrated its steep approach capability by landing and taking off at London's iconic City Airport (LCY) just after the Farnborough Airshow last year.


Airlines and airports are facing a surge in baggage mishandling rates amidst the growing number of passengers, with the number of mishandled bags almost doubling from 2021 to 2022 to 7.6 bags per thousand passengers, according to SITA's 2023 Baggage IT Insights report released today.

The shortage of skilled staff, resumption of international travel, and congestion at airports has made it challenging to manage bags and ensure their smooth handling at airports - particularly during peak travel periods. The overall increase in mishandling is forcing the industry to focus on digitalization and automation, with technology investments that deliver greater automation and self-service being a top priority.

Delayed bags accounted for 80% of all mishandled bags in 2022, lost and stolen bags increased to 7%, and damaged and pilfered bags decreased to 13%.

The surge in the mishandling rate comes after more than a decade of reduction in mishandled baggage. Significant process improvements helped the mishandling rate per thousand passengers fall by 59.7% between 2007 and 2021. However, given the pressure of staff shortages on operations post-COVID, the 2022 mishandling rate of 7.6 bags per thousand passengers represents a 75% increase from 2021.

Transfer bags have historically accounted for the majority of mishandled bags. This was no different in 2022, with a one-percentage point increase from 2021, pushing the proportion of bags delayed at transfer to 42%. This increase is attributed to the resurgence of international and long-haul travel, leading to loading errors and greater transfer mishandling rates. The failure to load bags accounted for 18% of all mishandled bags in 2022, representing a 3% decrease from the previous year. Loading errors more than doubled compared to the previous year, accounting for 9% of all delayed bags in 2022, stemming from operational strains on baggage systems.

David Lavorel, CEO, SITA said: "After a decade where the mishandling rate more than halved between 2007 and 2021, it is disheartening to see this rate climbing again. As an industry, we need to work hard to ensure passengers are once again confident to check in their bags. We at SITA are working directly with airlines and airports to help solve key pain points in the baggage journey through smart automation, tracking, and digital platforms."

Investing in real-time baggage status information has become a key priority for airlines, with 57% of airlines providing their staff with mobile access to real-time baggage status information. This figure is expected to increase significantly to 84% by 2025, and 67% of airlines plan to offer real-time baggage status information directly to passengers, marking a substantial improvement from 25% today.

SITA has developed the WorldTracer Auto Reflight system in direct response to the high mishandling rates observed at transfer. This solution automatically identifies bags what are not likely to make their planned connecting flight and rebooks them on the next possible flight using the existing bag tag - all while keeping the passenger informed.

SITA estimates that automation of re-flight operations could save the industry up to $30 million per year. Lufthansa and SITA's recent partnership using the technology aims to digitalize the manual re-flight process, and the results of their Proof of Concept suggest that they can automatically re-flight as much as 70% of Lufthansa's mishandled bags at Munich Airport.


Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) recently published the air traffic figures of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for April 2023. During the month, HKIA handled 3.1 million passengers, marking a year-on-year surge of around 24 times. Compared to the same month last year, flight movements more than doubled to 21,545, while cargo throughput declined by 7.7% to 347,000 tonnes.

All passenger segments experienced significant growth in April, especially Hong Kong residents. Traffic to and from Southeast Asia, Mainland China, and Japan recorded the most significant increases.

Cargo volume remained impacted by global economic uncertainties. Overall cargo volume declined in April, with import cargo decreasing by 24% compared to the same month last year. Traffic to and from key trading regions in Southeast Asia and Taiwan saw the most significant decreases during the month.

Over the first four months of the year, the airport handled 10.1 million passengers, an increase of around 26 times compared to the same period in 2022. Flight movements increased by 83.1% year-on-year to 74,200, while cargo volume dropped by 6.7% to 1.3 million tonnes.

On a 12-month rolling basis, passenger volume increased year-on-year by more than nine times to 15.4 million, while flight movements rose 19.3% to 172,395. Cargo throughput saw a decrease of 16.4% to 4.1 million tonnes.

Steven Yiu, Executive Director, Airport Operations of AAHK, said, "Following the resumption of normal travel, passenger volume and flight at HKIA have been picking up gradually. In April, on average the airport handled over 100,000 passengers and 700 flights per day respectively, representing 50% and 60% of pre-pandemic levels. We are excited that air traffic continues to increase, and we look forward to welcoming more travellers to Hong Kong or making use of our wide network for transferring to different destinations."

To meet rising demand, airlines operating at HKIA have been expanding their networks by adding more destinations, such as those in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, and increasing the frequency of services. New flight routes have been also launched, including a direct service between Urumqi and Hong Kong.


First big wave of travel in 2023 for the Easter holidays
The past month was marked by the year's first major wave of travel. Around 1.9 million passengers passed through Berlin Brandenburg Airport in April 2023. Around 1.1 million of these passengers used BER during the Easter holidays alone.

Overall, the slight increase in passengers compared to the previous month of March with almost 1.7 million passengers shows that the desire to travel continues unabated and that the more than 140 destinations offered by the airlines remain popular during the summer flight season.

Last year, Willy Brandt Airport recorded around 1.8 million passengers in April. Before the corona pandemic, in April 2019, the number of passengers at the former Tegel and Schönefeld Airport was 3.1 million.

A total of 14,630 aircraft took off and landed at BER last April, which is roughly the same as the figures for the previous year. In April 2019, around 24,580 flights were recorded in the capital region.

During the past month, a total of around 2,432 tons of air freight were loaded at BER, about as many tons as in April 2022 and around 90 tons less than in April 2019.

Canada, 80 nm ENE of Montreal, QC: Lufthansa flight LH474, an Airbus A350-900 had begun its descent into CYUL when the crew noted a high temperature message in the yellow system hydraulic fluid. The pumps automatically shut down. An emergency was declared and the gear was gravity-extended. The aircraft landed safely and was able to exit the runway on its own power and proceed to the gate.

Japan, near Sapporo/Okadama Air Field: An ATR 42-600 of Hokkido Air System, operating flight NTH/JL2726 from Memanbetsu, was on the final approach to runway 14 of Sapporo/Okadama Air Field when the pilots' noticed skyrockets at a park located at just short of the runway threshold. The flight crew made a go-around (at 425 feet or less altitude, according to the flghtradar24 record). When policemen rushed into the park, they found no person there. However, skyrockets were also observed at another park under the short final of runway 32. Policemen met young people who have finished playing fireworks at the second park at 21:20 LT. Fireworks were forbidden at both parks. The flight made a safe landing at 21:33 LT with one and half hours of delay. No personal injuries were reported.

Iran, Shiraz Airport: Oman Air flight WY2435, a Boeing 737-900ER, sustained damage after encountering debris during landing on runway 29L at Shiraz, Iran. The aircraft was repaired and resumed service the following day.

India, near Kamakhyanagar: Air India flight AI302, a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, encountered severe turbulence. Seven passengers reported minor sprains. The cabin crew administered first aid with the assistance of a doctor and a nurse travelling as passengers. ADS-B data suggests this occurred near Kamakhyanagar, India. The aircraft was making a weather avoidance manoeuvre during which brief vertical speed variations were recorded.

Switzerland, NE of Geneva: EasyJet UK flight U21517, an Airbus A320-214, returned to land back at Geneva Airport after smoke was observed emanating from one of the overhead bins shortly after take-off. The aircraft made a safe landing 17 minutes after take-off.

Brazil, Janeiro-Santos Dumont Airport: An Azul Airbus A320-253NX was parked at the gate at Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont Airport when a pyrotechnic balloon floated across the airport and descended onto the aircraft. The balloon deflated and the fireworks ignited. The airport ARFF teams immediately intervened and extinguished the burning balloon without damaging its surroundings.

Piper Malibu to Matsieng, Botswana

Aviation Economy
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