Aviation Wrap: Singapore Airlines to cut thousands of jobs, Rex authorised for Qantas/Virgin collab + MORE

Los Angeles, USA - February 22, 2016: A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 with the registration 9V-SKS taking off at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the USA. The Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airliner. Singapore Airlines is the flag carrier airline of Singapore.

It’s been a heavy week in aviation news, but we’ve lightened the load for you here by compiling yet another comprehensive wrap.

Singapore Airlines Group to cut 4,300 positions across airlines

In awful news for the livelihoods of workers at Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, and Scoot, the carriers’ parent organisation has announced it will cut “around 4,300 positions” across its airlines.

The airline said the decision was taken in light of the long road to recovery for the global airline industry due to the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the urgent need for the group’s airlines to adapt to an uncertain future.

As previously indicated, the group expects to operate under 50 per cent of its capacity at the end of financial year 2020/21 versus pre-COVID-19 levels. Industry groups have also forecast that passenger traffic will not return to previous levels until around 2024.

Singapore Airlines said that after considering a recruitment freeze, natural attrition, and the take up of voluntary departure schemes, the potential number of staff impacted will be reduced to about 2,400 in Singapore and in overseas stations.

Rex welcomes authorisation to collaborate with Qantas, Virgin Australia

Regional Express has welcomed the decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to grant authorisation to collaborate with QantasLink and Virgin Australia on ten regional routes until 30 June 2021.

The 10 regional routes covered under the authorisation are:

  • Sydney to Wagga Wagga
  • Sydney to Dubbo
  • Sydney to Albury
  • Sydney to Armidale
  • Melbourne to Mildura
  • Adelaide to Port Lincoln
  • Adelaide to Whyalla
  • Adelaide to Kangaroo Island
  • Cairns to Townsville
  • Townsville to Mount Isa

The news comes as Rex flagged that it stands ready to service routes from which Virgin Australia has withdrawn services.

Previously, Virgin Australia said it would withdraw its services from Ayers Rock, Albury, Tamworth, Hervey Bay, Port Macquarie, Mildura and Cloncurry.

Emirates returns $ 1.9 billion to customers in refunds

Emirates has revealed that is has returned more than AED 5 billion ($1.87 billion) in COVID-19 related travel refunds to date. The airline said it was making strong and steady progress on its commitment to customers to complete pending refunds.

More than 1.4 million refunds requests have been completed since March, representing 90 per cent of the airline’s backlog. This includes all requests received from customers around the world up until the end of June, except for a few cases which require “further manual review”, the airline said.

Oneworld member airlines commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Oneworld member airlines have committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a move the group claimed would make it the first global airline alliance to unite behind a common target to achieve carbon neutrality.

The alliance’s 13 member airlines plan to achieve this target within the existing environmental framework previously agreed to by governments, including through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The airlines will develop their individual approaches to reach the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through various initiatives, including efficiency measures, investments in sustainable aviation fuels and more fuel-efficient aircraft, reduction of waste and single-use plastics, and carbon offsets among others.

Air New Zealand grounds 777 fleet until September 2021

Air New Zealand has announced its Boeing 777 fleet will be grounded until at least September 2021 due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, the airline grounded the majority of its seven 777-300 aircraft until the end of the 2020 calendar year. At the same time, the company also signalled it was unlikely to fly its eight 777-200 aircraft in the foreseeable future and began preparing to send these into long term storage overseas.

Four of Air New Zealand’s 777-300 aircraft will be stored in Victorville in the Californian desert, while the remaining three will stay in Auckland where they are able to be returned to service if required.

The airline’s 777-200 aircraft will be sent to long-term storage facilities in both Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California from later this month.

ANA to temporarily change services on select international routes

Based on changes to immigration control, recently instituted public health quarantine measures and passenger demand trends of each country due to the widespread impact of COVID-19, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has suspended or reduced flights for select routes in September.

Among the changes, services for Haneda to Houston will resume in October, while flights between Haneda and Sydney, Haneda and Paris, Narita and New York, and Narita and Mexico will be increased.

Currently, ANA operates a direct flight three times weekly from Sydney to Tokyo. This service will be increased from 1 October to five times weekly from Sydney to Tokyo.

However, the service from Tokyo to Sydney will remain the same at three times weekly.

The Narita to Honolulu route will also resume two round-trip services in October operated by Boeing 787-9, in order to meet the demands of passengers for studying or working purposes.

ACCC grants Qantas, China Eastern Airlines interim authorisation

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted Qantas and China Eastern Airlines interim authorisation for an extended Joint Coordination Agreement (JCA).

The decision will enable the carriers to continue to coordinate operations between Australia and mainland China until March 2022.

Finavia to pilot UVC technology to disinfect security control trays after each use

Finnish airport operator Finavia is preparing to pilot a UVC light technology project, with the aim of using the technology to disinfect control trays with UVC light to kill bacteria and viruses.

During the pilot project, equipment based on different technologies will be tested at a number of security control lines, and involves testing of a variety of different equipment in order to find the product that best suits the airport environment.

Meanwhile, the City of Vantaa opened a health information point at Helsinki Airport to provide health counselling to arriving passengers. In addition, a COVID-19 testing point has been established for arriving passengers who report symptoms resembling those of COVID-19.

Finnair has also reiterated that its book with confidence policy – which allows travellers to change their travel dates free of cost – runs until 31 May 2021.

Air France-KLM Group sign new agreement with Amadeus

The Air France-KLM Group and Amadeus have announced an innovative NDC distribution deal.

The agreement means that Air France-KLM NDC offers can be made available for travel agents through the Amadeus Travel Platform and its NDC-enabled solutions.

To access Air France-KLM content distributed via NDC, agents will need to sign bilateral agreements with Air France-KLM and Amadeus.

Over the last few years, Air France-KLM has been working with Amadeus to connect its NDC services to the Amadeus Travel Platform.

The prime booking flow of shop, order, pay has already been integrated, meaning pilot travel agents will be able to book via NDC through the platform in the fourth quarter of this year. The full integration with servicing capabilities is expected to complete in the first half of 2021.

Security checkpoints in five Delta hubs feature antimicrobial bins for travellers

Antimicrobial technology in airport security checkpoints is making the airport experience at select Delta hubs even safer.

In partnership with the Transportation Security Administration, Delta is rolling out bins made of innovative antimicrobial materials to automated screening lanes in Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia and New York-JFK throughout the month.

Delta will evaluate opportunities for expansion to other markets following the launch in these cities.

Inmarsat GX aviation broadband available on 100 Qatar Airways flights

Inmarsat, a world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, has announced that its award-winning GX Aviation inflight broadband is now available on 100 Qatar Airways aircraft, across the airline’s fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s.

Qatar Airways passengers receive one hour of free access to GX Aviation on equipped flights, with the ability to purchase full-flight access if more online time is needed. The service, marketed as ‘Super Wi-Fi’ by Qatar Airways, has been used by millions of the airline’s passengers since 2018, when it became GX Aviation’s launch customer in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Etihad partners with tech start-up to reduce food wastage on flights

Etihad Airways has partnered with Singapore-based food technology start-up Lumitics to trial the use of computer vision and machine learning to reduce food wastage on Etihad flights.

The partnership will see Etihad and Lumitics track unconsumed economy class meals from Etihad’s flights, with the collated data used to highlight food consumption and wastage patterns across the network.

Etihad said analysis of the results would help to reduce food waste, improve meal planning, and reduce operating costs.

Thai Airways granted approval for debt restructuring plan

Thai Airways International has been granted court approval for its debt restructuring plan, after the airline racked up debts as high as 350 billion baht ($15.3 billion).

The court also approved Thai Airways’ request to appoint EY Corporate Advisory Services Ltd. and the carrier’s board members as debt revamp planners.

According to Bloomberg, the airline plans to submit a debt plan to the court in the fourth quarter and aims to complete the restructuring process in five years.

Air Astana launches new direct flight to Frankfurt

Kazakhstan-based carrier Air Astana has announced it will introduce direct flights from Almaty to Frankfurt from 2 October 2020.

Initially twice-weekly services, the frequencies of flights will increase to three per week from 26 October, taking off on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and will be operated using the new Airbus A321LR (pictured).

An early-morning arrival in Frankfurt will provide connections across European and North American destinations operated by Air Astana’s codeshare partner, Lufthansa, from Terminal 1.

SITA shares informative Asia-Pacific webinar series

SITA has initiated a series of four Asia-Pacific focused webinars, with the first two now available for viewing, with details as follows:

Enabling the Low-Touch Airport

Create a safe and more efficient travel experience at the airports

  • Evolution of airports towards low-touch passenger processing
  • Adopting immediate addressable changes to longer-term game changers
  • Low-touch initiatives at airports in the region.

For more information, click here.

Border Solutions to Mitigate Public Health Risks

Enhancing borders to cope during the crisis and to accelerate recovery

  • Breaking down the current landscape – government regulations, industry standards and rates of adoption
  • What measures can we take at the borders to help prevent the spread of disease and improve public health
  • Use cases of implementations and practical solutions available to governments today.

For more information, click here.

Cathay Pacific Cargo launches ‘Mail in Cabin’

Cathay Pacific Cargo has stamped a small piece of mail history by launching ‘Mail in Cabin’ cargo solutions for Hong Kong Post (HKP).

Due to COVID-19, HKP has had to suspend a majority of its airmail services to destinations across the globe, including Australia.

Following regulatory approval from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Authority, Cathay Pacific Cargo is now able to carry air mail from Hong Kong to Australia in the cabin of its B777 Preighters, reducing the surface mail delivery time by sea from several weeks to a few days.

WA regional airline sees interest in local tourism and pilot training

Shine Aviation, based north of Perth in the coastal city of Geraldton, is experiencing continued demand for its services.

With the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Shine Aviation said it moved quickly to offer discounted scenic flight packages for travellers taking advantage of border closures, packages include scenic flights to the Abrolhos Islands, the Pink Lake, Murchison Gorge, and more.

“In the face of current market challenges, we have increased our focus on digital marketing, in particular social media, and recently incorporated public relations into the mix,” managing director John Gooch said.

“We offer a broad range of scenic flight packages to suit everyone’s needs. We have also discounted some packages to make some of our flight options more accessible and appealing to tourists.”

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