Unsure which airlines are ensuring flexible travel? Get up to date with Travel Weekly’s Aviation Wrap.
AirHelp publishes COVID-19 info page
Air passenger rights advocate AirHelp has published an information page relating to flight disruption compensation eligibility due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Among the main entitlements due to passengers if their flight is cancelled because of COVID-19 is that they are entitled to a full refund of their tickets or an alternative flight (when flights are rescheduled).
In addition, if a traveller is stranded at an airport as a result of a cancellation, they are entitled to care, which includes meals and refreshments, access to communication and accommodation when necessary.
For more information on air passenger rights, click here.
Major work begins on Western Sydney Airport project
More than 200 earthmoving machines are rolling onto the Western Sydney Airport site as the next phase of work begins on one of the largest earthmoving challenges in Australian history.
Western Sydney Airport executive general manager – Airport Infrastructure Jim Tragotsalos said it will see around 25 million cubic metres of earth moved to make way for construction of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport terminal, runway, roads and rail.
Since initial earthworks marked the start of work to build Western Sydney International in September 2018, around 1 million worker hours have been racked up on the project and 1.8 million cubic metres of earth moved around the site.
Initial earthworks also involved realigning 1.6 kilometers of Badgerys Creek Road, which will become one of the gateways to the Airport when it opens in 2026.
LATAM to reduce operations by 70 per cent
Following new border closures of various countries and the subsequent drop in travel demand, LATAM Airlines Group S.A. and its subsidiaries will reduce their capacity by 70 per cent, equivalent to a 90 per cent decrease in international operations and 40 per cent in national flights.
All passengers with affected national or international flights can reschedule their flights until 31 December 2020, at no additional cost.
LATAM’s customer service channels are currently receiving high numbers of enquiries. To be able to focus on passengers with the most pressing requirements, LATAM has requested customers do not call more than 72 hours prior to their flight.
‘Book Fiji Right Now’ with Fiji Airways
Fiji Airways has launched its ‘Book Fiji Right Now’ campaign, with all-inclusive holiday packages to the South Pacific going for as little as $699.00 for a four-night stay.
Family packages start at just $1,799 for two adults and two children, with prices inclusive of airfares and taxes, accommodation, breakfast, return airport transfers and add ons.
Travellers can book with peace of mind as these packages allow for completely free change of dates until 31 December 2020. The packages are available for purchase until 24 March 2020.
In addition, Fiji Airways is increasing economy class checked baggage allowance from 23kg to 30kg. All passengers can now enjoy an extra 7kg of checked baggage for all Fiji Airways flights.
Air New Zealand update on Tasman route capacity
Air New Zealand is significantly reducing capacity on its Tasman routes as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on travel demand.
These changes follow a previous announcement of capacity reductions and will take effect from 30 March through to 30 June 2020. These dates may change if demand reduces further.
Overall, Tasman capacity will reduce by 80 percent over this period.
The following outlines the capacity changes on Tasman routes:
- Wellington to Sydney: Reduced to two return services per week
- Christchurch to Sydney: Reduced to two return services per week
- Auckland to Sydney: Reduced to seven return services per week
- Auckland to Brisbane: Reduced to five return services per week
- Auckland to Melbourne: Reduced to seven return services per week.
All other Tasman routes have been suspended from 30 March to 30 June, including:
- Auckland–Sunshine Coast
Singapore Airlines offers fee waiver and flexible rebooking for all customers
Singapore Airlines is waiving all rebooking fees for tickets issued on or before 15 March 2020, for travel up to 31 May 2020, with immediate effect.
Customers can cancel their existing flight itineraries, retain the value of their tickets and rebook their travel later, when they are able to firm up their new travel plans.
The new flight itinerary should be completed by 31 March 2021.
This new policy will allow customers the flexibility to defer their travel plans and applies to all bookings for travel up to 31 May 2020. All rebooking fees will be waived, although a fare difference may apply for the new itinerary.
SIA will continue to review its waiver policy and retains the flexibility to extend the cut-off date of 31 May 2020 as it assesses the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on global air travel in the coming weeks.
Emirates to implement thermal screening and suspend flights to Italy
Emirates has implemented thermal screening measures for all passengers travelling on US flights departing from Dubai International Airport.
Thermal scanners will be placed at departure gates for all US gateways, starting with EK 231 to Washington Dulles International Airport. If a passenger is found to have a higher than normal temperature, they will undergo further testing.
This is in addition to the thermal screenings done for all passengers on arrival as they pass through customs.
In addition, Emirates has suspended its flights between Dubai and Italy, with the final flight operating on 15th of March. The airline is working with the relevant authorities to monitor the developments closely as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Malaysia Airlines announces ‘Ultimate Flexibility’ ticket change policy
Malaysia Airlines has announced its ‘Ultimate Flexibility’ ticket change policy to passengers who may wish to make new bookings or have done so prior.
Malaysia Airlines is offering the following flexibility options globally: unlimited date changes free of charge, flexibility of destination changes however fare and tax differences apply, and flexibility in “GO SHOW” for earlier or later flights on the same day of departure on the same route for travel from 13 March to 31 May 2020.
Virgin’s credit rating gets downgraded
In an S&P Global Ratings research update shared on the Australian Securities Exchange, Virgin Australia’s credit rating has been lowered to a ‘B-’ from ‘B+’. The related issue ratings on the airline’s debt has also been lowered to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’, with all ratings on CreditWatch given negative implications – recovery ratings on the debt remain unchanged at ‘5’.
S&P Global Ratings said it lowered its ratings of Virgin Australia to reflect the former’s view that “rapidly deteriorating industry conditions” connected with the impacts of COVID-19 are spreading from the international to the Australian market.
ForwardKeys concludes landmark agreement with IATA and ARC
Travel analytics company ForwardKeys has concluded a “landmark” agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) to include their global ticketing data in its portfolio of products and data services.
Through this agreement, ForwardKeys will now provide global air travel data that leverages the world’s most comprehensive air transaction dataset from ARC and IATA.
The new relationship will help ForwardKeys expand its current product offerings across customer segments in the tourism industry.
Boeing, Airbus dented by coronavirus impacts
Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing face a drop in planned deliveries as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on airlines, Reuters reported.
Up to 20 of Airbus’ A321 jets were reportedly parked at its Hamburg, Germany facility. While one industry source told Reuters finished 787 Dreamliners were sitting at Boeing’s plant in South Carolina, a key program that has already been hit by slower sales in a diminishing widebody market.
Boeing shares have fallen as much as 20.5 per cent, while Airbus closed down 7.2 per cent after losing as much as 24 per cent of its value at one stage.
Featured image: iStock.com/YakobchukOlena