Aviation Wrap: Qantas’ $72m achievement, new solar farm to power all Melbourne Airport terminals + MORE

Melbourne, Australia - September 24, 2011: Qantas Boeing 737-476 VH-TJK departing Melbourne International Airport.

This week’s Aviation Wrap can be compared to an Airbus A380 at full capacity, meaning it’s jam-packed full of news and updates.

Qantas completes $71.7m share purchase plan

The Qantas Group has advised the Australian Securities Exchange of the completion of its non-underwritten share purchase plan (SPP), raising $71.7 million.

This follows Qantas’ approximately $1,360 million underwritten placement to institutional investors, which was successfully completed on 1 July 2020.

As distinct from the underwritten placement, the timing of the SPP coincided with a series of tightened border restrictions across Australian states and territories, sparked by a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne and small clusters elsewhere.

The SPP closed on 5 August 2020, after Qantas received valid applications totalling $71.7 million from 8,660 eligible shareholders.

While the Qantas Group’s recovery plan anticipates some uncertainty associated with the pandemic, the group said the timing of these events and their implications for travel demand had an obvious impact on the Qantas share price.

It also impacted the take-up of the share purchase plan offer by eligible shareholders, the group said.

New solar farm to power all Melbourne Airport terminals

Image source: iStock/Katharina13

In good green news, a new solar farm at Melbourne Airport is set to have the capability to produce enough renewable energy to power all four of the airport’s passenger terminals, when it is turned on in January 2021.

The project is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Australia, with Melbourne Airport set to generate 17 gigawatt hours of electricity per annum, equal to nearly 15 per cent of the airport’s annual electricity consumption.

Construction of the solar farm is expected to be complete by the end of September and be operational in January 2021.

Sydney Airport launches $2 billion equity raising

Sydney Airport has announced a fully underwritten pro-rata accelerated renounceable entitlement offer, with retail rights trading, to raise $2 billion; a move that would “substantially” reduce the airport’s debt.

Moreover, the entitlement offer also comes in a bid by Sydney Airport to maintain its strong investment-grade credit rating.

The news comes as Sydney Airport posted a $53.6 million loss for the first six months of 2020.

Passenger volumes for the half-year were materially impacted by the COVID-19 related traffic restrictions, implemented progressively from February 2020.

Sydney Airport welcomed 9.4 million passengers over the six-month period – a 56.6 per cent decline on the prior corresponding half-year.

Alliance posts positive financials

Alliance Aviation Services posted a $27 million profit in FY20 – 18.9 per cent on the previous financial year.

Total revenue from operations was up 7.8 per cent to $298.6 million, with total flying hours for the year remaining steady at 37,620 hours.

Alaska Airlines bars maskless travellers from flying

As part of continuing efforts to keep guests and employees safe, Alaska Airlines has announced all guests must always wear a cloth mask or face covering when at the airport or onboard Alaska aircraft.

Effective 7 August, all Alaska guests aged two-years-old and older are now required to wear a cloth mask or face covering over their nose and mouth – with no exceptions.

If a guest is unwilling or unable to wear a mask for any reason while at the airport, they will not be permitted to travel.

If a guest refuses to wear a mask after boarding their flight, they will be suspended from future travel.

Airbus revenue down 39 per cent in first half of 2020

Airbus has posted its financial results for the first half of 2020, revealing a 39 per cent drop in revenue from €30.9 billion in the first half of 2019 to €18.9 billion (in the first half of 2020).

Reflecting the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbus reported a €945 million loss in adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), versus EBIT of €2.5 billion in the first half of 2019.

Furthermore, the aircraft manufacturer reported a net income/loss of €1.9 billion for the first half of 2020, a significant drop from its €1.2 billion net position in the first half of 2019.

Virgin Galactic unveils Mach 3 aircraft design for high-speed travel

Image source: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Holdings has announced the first stage design scope for the build of its high-speed aircraft design, and the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.

The basic parameters of Virgin’s initial high-speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have capacity for nine to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet.

It would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements.

The aircraft design also aims to help lead the way toward use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel. Baselining sustainable technologies and techniques into the aircraft design early on is expected to also act as a catalyst to adoption in the rest of the aviation community.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic unveiled second-quarter 2020 financial results, revealing a net loss of US$63 million ($88.1 million), compared to a US$60 million ($83.9 million) net loss in the first quarter of 2020.

IAG and American Express extend global partnership

In great news for fans of the partnership, International Airlines Group (IAG) and American Express have announced that they have signed a multi-year renewal extending its global commercial partnership.

Under the agreements, American Express will make a payment to IAG Loyalty of approximately £750 million ($1.37 billion).

A significant part of this figure is a pre-purchase of Avios points, which American Express will utilise in the UK and worldwide for its British Airways co-branded cards and membership rewards program.

Urgent need to extend JobKeeper to Dnata workers: TWU Victoria/Tasmania

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) Victoria and Tasmania is urgently calling on the federal government to extend the JobKeeper scheme to Dnata workers.

This comes after an announcement from the Commenwealth, which will see JobKeeper extended to over 500,000 Victorians.

According to the TWU, thousands of Dnata workers have again been left out of the JobKeeper scheme for the entirety of this pandemic due to their employer being a foreign-owned company.

Dnata workers are Australian workers, all of who pay taxes to the Australian government – many of which have been Australian taxpayers for over 20 years, the TWU said.

Etihad reports strong start to 2020, with second quarter heavily impacted by COVID-19

Etihad Airways has provided details of its half-year 2020 performance, which saw a strong start to the year, with the airline progressing well ahead of its transformation plan targets.

This included its best monthly results to date for February, prior to the impact of COVID-19, the subsequent closure of international borders, and the suspension of flights to and from the UAE from 24 March.

Etihad carried 3.5 million passengers in half-year 2020 (compared to 8.2 million for the same period, last year), a reduction of 58 per cent from the same period in 2019. Average seat load factor was 71 per cent.

Core operating loss for this period increased by US$172 million to US$758 million (compared to US$586 million in 2019), driven by a 38 per cent drop in revenues, which stood at US$ 17 billion – a US$1 billion drop in revenue from 2019.

This was partially offset by a 27 per cent reduction in direct operating costs to US$1.9 billion (versus US$2.7 billion for the same period, last year), and a 21 per cent reduction in general and administrative expenses to US$400 million (compared to US$500 million the same period, last year).

These were both driven by management cost containment initiatives and reduced operations, Etihad said.

While Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) reduced by 53 per cent to 23.69 billion (a reduction from 50.35 billion posted for first-half 2019).

Skyscanner adds airline safety information to ease traveller anxiety

Skyscanner has launched new airline safety ratings to help restore confidence among travellers looking to book flights, as international travel restrictions are eased and updated.

Powered by AirlineRatings.com in an exclusive global partnership with Skyscanner, the ratings score airlines based on their health and safety policies in the wake of COVID-19.

Travellers will be able to see individual airline scores for each of the following measures:

  • Face masks mandatory.
  • Plane deep cleaned daily.
  • Flight crew wearing PPE.
  • Passenger sanitation packs provided.
  • Changes to food service.

Skyscanner launched the ratings based on in-depth customer insights relating to flight safety concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A June survey of more than 850 travellers highlighted that airlines’ approach to passenger and crew wellbeing was the most important element to help reduce traveller anxiety and inform flight selection, followed by health screening processes and enhanced cabin cleaning processes.

Qatar Airways becomes only international airline to service five major Australian cities

As of 16 August 2020, Adelaide become Qatar Airways’ fifth destination in Australia to resume flights, making the airline the only international carrier currently servicing five major cities in Australia.

Resumption of Adelaide services will see Qatar Airways operate a total of 23 weekly passenger flights and two weekly freighter flights to Australia, supporting repatriation and Australian exporters.

Emirates to deploy its flagship A380 to Guangzhou

Image source: supplied

As of 8 August 2020, Emirates has begun deploying its iconic A380 aircraft to Guangzhou.

The airline has also restarted its A380 operations to Amsterdam and Cairo, and introduced a second daily A380 service to London Heathrow, serving market demand and offering customers more travel options.

Emirates has so far resumed A380 services to five cities and it will gradually expand the deployment of this popular aircraft in line with demand and operational approvals. The Emirates A380 experience remains highly sought after by travellers for its spacious and comfortable cabins.

Customers can currently fly the Emirates A380 daily to Amsterdam, four times a week to Cairo, twice daily to London Heathrow, once daily to Paris, and once weekly to Guangzhou.

Sabre renews distribution agreement with Air New Zealand, United Airlines

Sabre has renewed its distribution agreements with Air New Zealand and United Airlines.

Under the renewed agreement with the Kiwi national carrier, Sabre will continue to distribute global Air New Zealand content to hundreds of thousands of travel agents and thousands of corporations globally through its extensive travel marketplace.

The agreement also includes an opt-in content program in New Zealand and Australia, which provides agencies with access to Air New Zealand’s preferential content through the Sabre marketplace.

While Sabre’s renewed agreement with United will support the companies’ existing collaboration on NDC.

The technology provider has also secured another scalp, with Royal Air Philippines selecting Sabre as its preferred distribution partner.

British Airways extends flexible booking policy

British Airways is extending its ‘Book with Confidence’ policy for customers booking flights and holidays throughout September 2020, to cover journeys for a whole year, up to 31 August 2021.

The policy allows customers to change the dates and destination of their booking without incurring a change fee, or to cancel their booking and receive a voucher for use at a later date.

Connexus Travel issues first commercial Aeronology tickets online

Gloria Slethaug, chief executive of Connexus Travel, has announced the successful live issuance of online airline tickets through the ticketing application developed by Aeronology, Connexus Travel’s new travel technology partner.

“The first tickets were two first-class return tickets to London – the fare codes were quite complicated and what would normally take between 15 to 20 minutes to issue by an experienced travel consultant only took seconds to shop, book and issue,” Slethaug said.

“Since COVID our industry needs to be more productive and introduce internal systems that make our travel advisors focus on service and not just process. When you think about it to do that transaction with the ‘old normal’ was 15 minutes, and now the new normal is seconds.”

Image source: iStock/Ryan Fletcher

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