Aviation Wrap: Etihad to resume Melbourne-London service, Rex enters trading halt + MORE

Are you hungry for updates from the world’s airlines? Enjoy Travel Weekly’s aviation buffet without the risk of catching COVID-19.

Etihad to resume regular Melbourne-London service

Etihad Airways has announced it will operate a regular scheduled service from Melbourne to London via Abu Dhabi from 15 May 2020.

The airline will also introduce services from London to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi from 21 May.

Flights feature business and economy cabins, and the airline plans to maintain this link until it fully resumes its previous double daily connection between the two cities.

Rex enters trading halt

Regional Express (Rex) has paused trading on the Australian Securities Exchange pending a further announcement.

The airline will remain in a trading halt “until the earlier of the commencement of normal trading on Thursday 14 May 2020 or when the announcement is released to the market”.

Air New Zealand to add domestic flights

Air New Zealand will operate to the majority of its domestic airports when the nation enters alert level two of its coronavirus recovery plan.

CEO Greg Foran said the airline plans to operate around 20 per cent of its usual domestic capacity compared to pre-COVID-19 levels during alert level two.

“Alert level two will see the return of flying to the likes of Queenstown, Invercargill and Blenheim in the South Island; and Rotorua, Gisborne, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Whangarei, and Kerikeri in the north,” he said.

“This comes on top of current flights to support essential service travel between Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Napier, as well as between Wellington-Christchurch, Wellington-Nelson and Christchurch-Dunedin.”

COVID-19 detection trials to land at Heathrow

Heathrow Airport is set to trial technologies and processes which could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports.

The aim of the collective measures being trialled is to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 while travelling.

Concepts under review as part of the Heathrow trials include UV sanitation, facial recognition thermal screening technology, and contact-free security screening equipment.

ACCC authorises British Airways and Qatar Airways coordination

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a determination granting authorisation to British Airways (BA) and Qatar Airways to coordinate air passenger services on routes between Australia and the UK/Europe for five years.

The routes are between four Australian cities and the UK/Europe, and operate via Doha. The Australia-Doha leg of the routes is currently serviced by Qatar Airways, but not BA (except through code share relationships with Qantas and/or Qatar Airways).

Emirates achieves 32nd straight profit result

The Emirates Group has announced its 32nd consecutive year of profit against a drop in revenue, mainly attributed to reduced operations during the planned DXB runway closure in the first quarter, and the impact of flight and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the fourth quarter.

Released yesterday in its 2019-20 annual report, Emirates posted a profit of AED1.7 billion ($717 million) for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 – down 28 per cent from last year – while the airline’s revenue fell five per cent to AED 104.0 billion ($44 billion).

Solomon Airlines extends international flight suspension

Following its announcement on 23 March scheduled international passenger flights will be suspended until 31 May 2020, Solomon Airlines has extended the suspension a further seven weeks until 15 July.

The Solomon Islands government also recently confirmed its progress in building in-country COVID-19 capabilities, with the expectation that Solomon Airlines will be operating repatriation flights to the sovereign state once these are approved.

Delta and LATAM sign trans-American JV agreement

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group have signed a trans-American joint venture agreement that, once regulatory approvals where required are granted, will combine the carriers’ route networks between North and South America.

The agreement marks the latest milestone in the Delta-LATAM tie-up since the partnership came about in September 2019. 

Air France makes face masks compulsory

In line with French instructions making the wearing of a mask compulsory on public transport, Air France is now asking customers to wear a mask throughout their journey.

Customers will be notified of this via all communication channels (email, SMS and websites) prior to their departure and will be asked to ensure they possess one or more masks for their trip.

Air France will also progressively implement temperature checks on departure from all its flights. These systematic checks will be carried out with contactless infrared thermometers.

A body temperature below 38 degrees Celsius will be required to travel. Customers whose temperature is higher than this may be denied boarding and their reservation will be changed at no extra charge on a flight at a later date.

Southwest Airlines now on Travelport GDS

For the first time in its 50-year history, Southwest Airlines is participating in the GDS world with full content available for agency bookings in Travelport.

In addition, Southwest will settle tickets booked via the new GDS processes through the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).

Cebu Pacific intensifies sanitation protocols for flight restart

Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific will implement new sanitation protocols and intensify preventive measures, as it prepares for the resumption of commercial passenger operations following quarantine restrictions caused by COVID-19.

All pilots and cabin crew will undergo rapid antibody tests before they are assigned to operate flights. Furthermore, all operating crew and ground staff will don personal protective equipment while on duty.

Cleaning and disinfection procedures have been ramped-up for all Cebu Pacific facilities and equipment such as self-check-in kiosks, check-in and bag drop counters, and shuttle buses.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers will be provided for all passengers and staff at the airport and inside the aircraft.

Singapore Airlines supports SA exporters with cargo flights

The first of six Singapore Airlines passenger aircraft carrying cargo only departed Adelaide last Wednesday supported by the federal government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism.

The Airbus A350-900 aircraft took off just after 9:40am local time carrying more than 30 tonnes of chilled seafood, tuna, lamb, chicken, and eggs, as well as wine, cosmetics, mining equipment, commercial flavours, cider, and a range of other consolidated items.

The cargo shipments made their way to Singapore before being distributed and transported to Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Vietnam, and the US.

Airbus embarks on disruptive biotechnology solutions for aviation security operations

Airbus and Koniku Inc. have made a significant step forward in the co-development of a solution for aircraft and airport security operations by extending research activities to include biological hazard detection capabilities, as well as chemical and explosive threats.

The disruptive biotechnology solution, which was originally focused on the contactless and automated detection, tracking and location of chemicals and explosives on board aircraft and in airports, is now being adapted in light of the COVID-19 crisis to include the identification of biological hazards.

Based on the power of odour detection and quantification found in nature, the technical solution uses genetically engineered odourant receptors that produce an alarm signal when they come into contact with the molecular compounds of the hazard or threat that they have been programmed to detect.

Air Canada offers sneak peek of new loyalty program

Air Canada has introduced two new Aeroplan features in advance of the re-launch of its loyalty program later this year.

Members can now buy or gift miles at any time and can now use Aeroplan Miles to bid on cabin seating upgrades on Air Canada flights.

American Airlines begins cargo-only flights between Australia and the US

American Airlines has expanded its cargo-only operation this month to provide 126 weekly flights to 15 cities in the Asia Pacific, Europe and the Caribbean.

From today, American will operate weekly cargo-only flights between Sydney and Los Angeles with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

These flights will help transport life-saving medical supplies and materials between the US and Australia, including personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals. Other essential goods include electrical machinery, mail, fresh fruit, vegetables, and beef and fish.


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