Here’s all the latest news from the world of commercial aviation, wrapped up courtesy of Travel Weekly.
Western Sydney Airport gets new CEO
In a joint release with Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann, the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge revealed the new CEO for Western Sydney Airport (WSA Co).
Simon Hickey, who spent 11 years with Qantas in several roles, has been appointed to the lead role for the next five years.
Hickey has more than 30 years’ experience in commercial, aviation, and construction roles, including executive roles at Qantas and Lendlease.
Minister Cormann and Minister Tudge welcomed the WSA Co board’s decision to appoint Hickey.
Minister Tudge also thanked Graham Millett for his time as inaugural CEO of WSA Co.
WSA Co is a government-owned company, through which the Australian federal government has invested $5.3 billion to deliver Sydney’s second full-service airport.
Qatar Executive introduces private jet travel program
Qatar Executive is introducing a new and exclusive Diamond Agreement, which enables customers to pre-purchase flight time at fixed-hourly rates on long-range and ultra-long-range private jets.
The Diamond Agreement is tailored to the individual customer’s needs and requirements, offering what Qatar describes as “a truly unique flying experience” and unrivalled service.
To join this program, customers purchase a minimum of 50 hours’ flight time, without any associated membership fees. The all-inclusive and fixed-hourly rates cover both flight hours and taxi time.
Designed to simplify private jet travel, pre-purchased Diamond Agreement hours have no minimum annual usage and no maximum carry-over, making the program unrivalled in terms of its flexibility, Qatar said.
The airline’s customers are also offered guaranteed availability for reservations booked from just 72 hours in advance.
The news comes as parent-company Qatar Airways announced it is grounding its fleet of Airbus A380s, citing concerns the aircraft is not commercially or environmentally justifiable in the current market.
Instead, the airline is focusing on operating its full fleet of Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft for both passenger and cargo flights.
Benchmark figures identified that Qatar Airways’ fleet of A350 aircraft consumed 20 tonnes of CO2 less per block hour on certain routes compared to the A380, making them a more sustainable choice.
It comes as the airline prepares to resume Guangzhou scheduled passenger services with an initial one weekly flight starting from 26 July.
Emirates announces A380s’ return to the skies
On the flip-side, Emirates has announced it plans to deploy its A380 on a daily Amsterdam service, and will add a second daily A380 service to London Heathrow starting from 1 August.
This announcement follows the Emirates A380’s return to the skies on Wednesday, last week, with EK001 to London Heathrow taking off from Dubai International airport at 7:45am (local time), and EK073 at 8:20am, carrying commercial passengers for the first time since March.
Emirates has also resumed flights to Tehran (from 17 July), and is preparing to resume flights to Guangzhou (from 25 July), Addis Ababa (from 1 August), and Oslo (from 4 August).
This will take the airline’s passenger network to 62 destinations in August, offering customers around the world more convenient connections to Dubai, and via Dubai.
The news comes in the wake of Emirates operating a repatriation flight to Bangkok from Sydney on 19 July to assist Thai nationals, in addition to residents of the nation who are stranded in Australia, to get home.
Sydney Airport traffic down 95 per cent in June
Sydney Airport’s latest traffic performance data reveals the beleaguered airport continues to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.
Total passenger traffic in June 2020 was 172,000 passengers, down 94.9 per cent on the prior corresponding period (PCP).
At least 32,000 international passengers passed through Sydney Airport in June, down 97.6 per cent on the PCP.
Domestic passengers totalled 140,000 for the month, down 93.3 per cent on the PCP.
While domestic passengers noticeably increased in June when compared with April and May, Sydney Airport expects to continue to see significant reductions in passenger traffic for as long as domestic and international travel restrictions persist.
Heathrow unveils further measures to keep the UK’s front door COVID-secure
Heathrow airport has unveiled further measures that reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 at the airport.
The UK’s biggest front door and only hub airport has adopted what it describes as an “extensive array” of technology to protect passengers and colleagues, as the country readjusts to life post-lockdown.
The airport is set to use several pioneering technologies, including UV cleaning robots which use UV rays to kill viruses and bacteria quickly and efficiently at night.
UV handrail technology is being fitted to escalators to ensure continuous disinfection of the moving handrails. While self-cleaning anti-viral wraps are being fitted to security trays, lift buttons, trolley and door handles, aiming to provide long-lasting protection from COVID-19.
The wraps work by coating high-touch surfaces in a material with long-lasting anti-viral protection.
Virgin Atlantic agrees to $2.2 billion rescue plan
Virgin Atlantic has agreed to a rescue deal with shareholders and creditors worth £1.2 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) to secure its future beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Australian Associated Press, the private-only deal removes the need for government support that had previously been sought by founder Richard Branson.
The agreement is expected to be completed towards the end of the northern summer and be spread across the next 18 months.
It also begins the process of Virgin Atlantic’s restructuring plan, which is based on a five-year business plan.
With the support of shareholders Virgin Group and Delta, new private investors and existing creditors, it paves the way for the airline to rebuild its balance sheet and return to profitability from 2022, Virgin said in a statement.
Delta reports multi-billion-dollar pre-tax loss for June quarter
Delta Air Lines has reported financial results for the June quarter 2020, which reveal the airline suffered a pre-tax loss of US$3.9 billion ($5.5 billion) over the period on a more than $11 billion ($15.6 billion) decline in revenue over last year.
Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said the loss illustrates the “truly staggering impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business.
“In the face of this challenge, our people have acted quickly and decisively to protect our customers and our company, reducing our average daily cash burn by more than 70 percent since late March to $27 million in the month of June,” he said.
“Given the combined effects of the pandemic and associated financial impact on the global economy, we continue to believe that it will be more than two years before we see a sustainable recovery.
“In this difficult environment, the strengths that are core to Delta’s business – our people, our brand, our network and our operational reliability – guide every decision we make, differentiating Delta with our customers and positioning us to succeed when demand returns.”
The adjusted pre-tax loss excludes US$3.2 billion ($4.5 billion) of items directly related to the impact of COVID-19 and the company’s response, including fleet-related restructuring charges, write-downs related to certain of Delta’s equity investments, and the benefit of the CARES Act grant recognised in the quarter.
Australians can now travel through Hong Kong with Finnair
Travellers from Australia who are authorised to leave the country can now travel with Finnair through Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
The Qantas lounge in HKG is still currently closed and the Plaza Premium First Lounge is not expected to re-open until 30 September 2020.
However, Finnair’s Business Class passengers will be able to use the Plaza Premium Lounge located near Gate 1 during this period.
Meanwhile, Finnair has also announced changes to its fee structure for new bookings made through its Agent Helpdesk.
As of 31 July 2020, Finnair will charge $50 for ticket purchases, $100 for Oneworld products, and $85 for partially refundable tickets, among other measures.
Sunshine Coast boosted by debut of direct flights from Cairns
Sunshine Coast Airport has spread its wings to the north for the first time ever, officially welcoming its inaugural Alliance Airlines service from Cairns on Friday, last week.
The new three-per-week service provides a key connection between two of Queensland’s high-value tourist locations in line with the current push for domestic travel.
Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie said the connection would have long-term benefits for the region.
“It’s anticipated this service will facilitate around 40,000 passengers every year and inject $2.8 million of tourism spend into our region, undoubtedly providing welcome relief for local operators,” said Mr Brodie.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the announcement was a direct result of $15 million in funding from the Palaszczuk government to secure direct flights to Queensland destinations and support the economic recovery of the tourism industry.
Singapore Airlines capacity down 94 per cent in June
In June 2020, the demand for air travel continued to be severely impacted as border controls and travel restrictions remained in place around the world.
Singapore Airlines’ group passenger capacity (measured in available seat kilometres) was down by 95.1 per cent year-on-year.
Overall passenger carriage (measured in revenue passenger-kilometres) was lower by 99.3 per cent, resulting in a group passenger load factor of 12.2 per cent – a decline of 74.0 percentage points year-on-year.
SIA’s capacity was 94 per cent lower compared to last year’s, with only a skeletal network in operation connecting Singapore to 24 metro cities.
Passenger carriage declined 99.1 per cent, resulting in a passenger load factor of 12.4 per cent.
Featured image source: Flickr/Qatar Executive