Aviation Wrap: Etihad showcases ‘Greenliner’ aircraft, Rex secures funding + MORE

Here’s all the latest news from the commercial aviation world, courtesy of your pals at Travel Weekly.

Etihad continues initiatives to cut carbon emissions

Etihad has continued to progress its sustainability agenda by testing a range of initiatives during the wind-down and suspension of its scheduled passenger services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline has also highlighted some of its continuing activities in a new video released today to mark Earth Day 2020, with a look at its revolutionary ‘Greenliner’ aircraft.


Regional Express scores Commonwealth funding

Regional Express (Rex) has signed a Commonwealth grant agreement under the COVID-19 Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program announced by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Michael McCormack.

Under the program, regional airline carriers will be aided to maintain a minimal weekly schedule to regional and remote ports. The RANS program will provide funding for up to six months, with an initial approval for six weeks.

Under the grant agreement, Rex will receive funding to operate one to two return services a week to most destinations on its network.

Thus far, 38 of the regional carrier’s weekly services have been approved.

However, under revised guidelines released by the federal government in mid-April, Rex hopes to secure funding for 76 weekly services.

Emirates to increase customer refund capability

Emirates A380 approaches Zurich Airport (iStock.com/Jetlinerimages)

Emirates is gearing up to handle 150,000 refunds per month, and aims to clear its backlog by early August. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirates processed an average of 35,000 refund request per month.

Customers who wish to request travel vouchers or refunds can easily do so by an online form on Emirates’ website, or by contacting their travel agent for assistance.

Emirates offers three options to its customers affected by flight cancellations and travel restrictions:

  1. Simply keep their existing ticket for up to 24 months, and call to reschedule their flight when they are ready to fly. Emirates has extended this option to apply to any ticket booked on or before 30 June 2020, for travel on or before 30 November 2020
  2. Exchange the unused portion of their tickets for a travel voucher equivalent to the amount paid for their original booking. The travel voucher can be utilised for any Emirates product or service, with no change fees, providing customers more flexibility to reschedule when they are ready to travel again
  3. Refunds. Customers who have opted to keep their ticket or opted for a travel voucher can still apply for a refund if they are unable to travel. There will be no refund penalties.

Air New Zealand revises international network

Air New Zealand will not resume operation of its suspended Auckland to Buenos Aires and Los Angeles to London routes due to the deep impact of COVID-19 on forward travel demand.

The airline has also taken the decision to postpone the commencement of its non-stop Auckland to New York service from 29 October 2020 until late 2021 at the earliest.

Along with 95 percent of its international flying, Air New Zealand’s Buenos Aires and Los Angeles to London routes are currently suspended through to 30 June due to government travel bans and low demand.

Last year, the airline announced its plan to exit the Los Angeles to London route in October 2020 and in March brought forward the closure of its London cabin crew base.

Revised opening date for new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport

The Sunshine Coast Council has advised a new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport is now due to open on 14 June 2020, subject to weather and the impacts of COVID-19.

Any such disruptions to the program may mean the June date will not be met and programming will have to be reviewed.

Sunshine Coast Airport’s head of corporate relations, Ayllie White, said the existing Runway 18/36 and existing flight paths would remain active and in use until the new runway is operational.

Inmarsat and APEX join forces to connect aviation industry with online broadcast event

Mobile satellite communications company Immarsat has joined forces with the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) to connect the aviation industry during the most “challenging time in its history”, the COVID-19 pandemic.

A unique online broadcast event, to be held on 29 April, will bring together aviation leaders, experts and analysts to debate the critical questions facing the industry today and looking ahead to the challenges the entire aviation sector will face.

The event is open for all. To register your interest, click here.

Lufthansa Airbus A350s landing twice daily with protective equipment from China

To do its part in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Lufthansa is currently operating two daily flights carrying protective equipment from China to Munich Airport with Airbus A350 long-range jetliners.

Under normal circumstances, Lufthansa’s A350 fleet carries passengers to intercontinental destinations in North and South America and in Asia. The special daily cargo flights from Beijing and Shanghai are mainly loaded with masks urgently needed in the Bavarian capital.

Employees of Munich Airport’s ground handling subsidiary, AeroGround, are unloading the arriving aircraft. The cargo is then transported to its final destinations by freight forwarding companies contracted by the federal government.

Former Kenya Airways’ MD joins IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the appointment of Sebastian Mikosz as its senior vice president for member and external relations, effective 1 June 2020.

Mikosz joins after most recently serving as Kenya Airways’ group managing director (2017 to 2019), during which time he occupied a role on IATA’s board of governors. Prior to that, he was the CEO of LOT Polish Airlines (2009 to 2011 and 2013 to 2015) and the CEO of Poland’s largest online travel agency, the eSKY Group (2015 to 2017).

At IATA, Mikosz will lead the organization’s global advocacy activities and aero-political policy development, along with managing the association’s strategic relationships.

Solomon Airlines to operate passenger flight from Honiara

Solomon Airlines is set to operate a one-off commercial flight on Thursday, 30 April, following consultation with the Solomon Islands government and foreign High Commissions, including Australia and New Zealand.

Flight IE4710, an Airbus A320, will fly from Brisbane to Honiara as a cargo-only service on 29 April, then depart Honiara International Airport a day later – returning Solomon Islands-based passengers to Australia, or to transit in Sydney and Brisbane onto international destinations.


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Travel Agents

AFTA updates campaign encouraging members to contact local MPs

Want to give your local MP a piece of your mind but don’t want to get kicked out of their office for shouting profanities? Click here.