Airlines, Airports and Airliners News -27 April to 3 May 2020

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein



GENÈVE AÉROPORT'S CENTENARY: PROGRAMME UPDATE



On the occasion of its centenary, Genève Aéroport had planned many events over the coming months. Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 sanitary crisis, the programme has been reduced and rescheduled. update on the situation.

On 11 October 1919, an avant-garde political act gave birth to Genève Aéroport, one of the oldest airport platforms in the Old Continent. One hundred years later, due to the Covid-19, the situation is strangely similar to that of the beginning of the century. Few planes apart from humanitarian repatriation flights, cargo flights, which supply our country with basic necessities and urgent medical flights. The sharp slowdown in air traffic - barely twenty flights a day and a few hundred passengers at the moment - is causing a sharp drop in aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues (shops, restaurants, car parks).

The virus, which is currently devastating the entire planet, has a direct impact on many activities. The events planned for the centenary are part of it. It was decided to cancel the Aviation Festival on 26 September and the farmer's brunch on 30 August. The Kraftwerk concert, organised by Antigel and initially scheduled for 19 May, is postponed. Genève Aéroport is in discussions with Antigel about its partnership concerning the concert's new date.

Other events have so far been postponed until the autumn, namely the conferences planned in collaboration with the University of Geneva. The ceremony to change the name of the Protocol Lounge to the Kofi Annan Area has also been postponed to a later date, as is the Tribute to the agreement signed in 1956, which ratified an exchange of territories between Switzerland and France in view of an extension of the only runway at Genève Aéroport. All these dates will be fixed and announced at a later date. The Freight Festival will also be postponed.

Two centennial events will now take place in 2021. The two major achievements for the airport and International Geneva will be inaugurated once the construction works have been completed, namely the East wing, which is intended primarily for wide-body aircraft and the new terrace, which will be open to the public next spring.

BOEING DREAMLIFTER TRANSPORTS 1.5M FACE MASKS FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE



Boeing [NYSE: BA] today completed another COVID-19 transport mission, using a Boeing Dreamlifter to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) from Hong Kong to the United States. Working in partnership with Prisma Health, Atlas Air Worldwide and Discommon Founder Neil Ferrier, the company transported 1.5 million medical-grade face masks bound for healthcare professionals at Prisma Health in South Carolina.

Discommon, the importer of record for the delivery, secured production of the PPE from trusted manufacturers in China and turned to Boeing to facilitate their transport to Prisma Health, the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. Boeing donated the cost of the mission transport, with Atlas Air operating the flights on behalf of Boeing.

The Dreamlifter, a converted Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter, flew from Hong Kong to Greenville, South Carolina, with the face masks in its lower lobe. Following the delivery, the Dreamlifter will return to its home base in North Charleston, South Carolina, and deliver 787 Dreamliner parts in support of the global aerospace supply chain.

Boeing continues to support local communities and the heroic healthcare professionals working tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19. Additional airlift transport missions with the Boeing Dreamlifter and ecoDemonstrator are planned in the future. Boeing is coordinating closely with U.S. government officials on how to best assist areas with the greatest need.

American Airlines Announces Enhanced Cleaning Procedures and New Personal Protective Equipment for Customers



American Airlines is updating and enhancing its cleaning procedures on board and will begin offering personal protective equipment to customers as it continues to prioritize customer and team member well-being in its response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Improvements to cleaning procedures will begin this week and will expand to every mainline and regional flight over time. Beginning in early May, American will build on its comprehensive cleaning program by expanding the cleaning procedures already used during longer stops to every mainline flight. This cleaning will use a disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and includes:

In customer areas, tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades and seatback screens. It also includes wiping door and overhead bin handles. In team member areas, enhanced galley cleaning, jumpseats and crew rest seats. The new enhancements add cockpit surfaces as well.

These measures build on new and expanded cleaning procedures American added in early March, including additional touchpoints in the cabin, increased provisioning of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for crew members, and expanded fogging with an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant in all public areas on aircraft. American is also expanding deeper cleanings and disinfection to all regional flights.

SECOND BOEING 777X TAKES FLIGHT



Boeing [NYSE: BA] today conducted a productive and successful first flight of the second 777X airplane. Designated WH002, this airplane is the second of four in a dedicated flight test fleet and will test handling characteristics and other aspects of airplane performance. Shown here: WH002, the second 777X airplane, takes off from Everett, Wash., on April 30, 2020.

Designated WH002, this airplane is the second of four in a dedicated flight test fleet and will test handling characteristics and other aspects of airplane performance. An array of equipment, sensors and monitoring devices throughout the cabin allows the onboard team to document and evaluate the airplane's response to test conditions in real time.

The 777X test plan lays out a comprehensive series of tests and conditions on the ground and in the air to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the design. To date, crews have flown the first airplane nearly 100 hours at a variety of flap settings, speeds, altitudes and system settings as part of the initial evaluation of the flight envelope. With initial airworthiness now demonstrated, the team can safely add personnel to monitor testing onboard instead of relying solely on a ground-based telemetry station, unlocking testing at greater distances.

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA ENTERS VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION



Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX: VAH) (Virgin Australia Group or Group) has entered voluntary administration to recapitalise the business and help ensure it emerges in a stronger financial position on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Group's Board of Directors has appointed Vaughan Strawbridge, John Greig, Sal Algeri and Richard Hughes of Deloitte as voluntary administrators of the company and a number of its subsidiaries. Velocity Frequent Flyer, while owned by the Group, is a separate company and is not in administration.

The decision comes as the Group has continued to seek financial assistance from a number of parties, including State and Federal Governments, to help it through the unprecedented crisis, however is yet to secure the required support.

Virgin Australia will continue to operate its scheduled international and domestic flights which are helping to transport essential workers, maintain important freight corridors, and return Australians home. The administrators will be supported by the Group's current management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Paul Scurrah and will work closely with team members, suppliers and partners throughout the process.

"In 20 years, the Virgin Australia Group has earned its place as part of the fabric of Australia's tourism industry. We employ more than 10,000 people and a further 6,000 indirectly, fly to 41 destinations including major cities and regional communities, have more than 10 million members of our Velocity loyalty program and contribute around $11 billion to the Australian economy every year," said Mr Scurrah.

"Australia needs a second airline and we are determined to keep flying. Virgin Australia will play a vital role in getting the Australian economy back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring the country has access to competitive and high-quality air travel."

Administrator, Vaughan Strawbridge, said: "Our intention is to undertake a process to restructure and re-finance the business and bring it out of administration as soon as possible.


BOEING TO RESUME 787 OPERATIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA



Boeing [NYSE: BA] will resume 787 operations at Boeing South Carolina (BSC), with most teammates returning on May 3 or May 4. The return includes all operations that were temporarily suspended on April 8 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Managers will contact each teammate returning to work with report date and shift information. Those who are not contacted should not return to the site until contacted by their manager to do so. Teammates who are able to work from home should continue to do so.

"The health and safety of our teammates, their families and our community is our shared priority," said Brad Zaback, Boeing South Carolina site leader and 787 vice president and general manager. "Our approach to resumption of operations ensures we honour that priority by ensuring personal protective equipment is readily available and that all necessary safety measures are in place to resume essential work for our customers and prioritize the health and safety of our team. We have also taken the necessary steps to ensure a steady supply base for our operations."

BSC has taken extra precautions and instituted comprehensive procedures to prepare the work environment and ensure the health and safety of teammates. Boeing will continue to monitor guidance on COVID-19, evaluate impact on company operations and adjust plans as the situation evolves.

MORE THAN 270,000 PASSENGERS INCLUDING 150,000 FRENCH NATIONALS REPATRIATED BY THE AIR FRANCE GROUP



The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 has resulted in the largest global repatriation operation ever seen. Hundreds of thousands of travellers wanted to return home as quickly as possible, presenting an unprecedented operational challenge in the face of numerous border and airspace closures.

Air France has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretary for Transport to identify and prioritize needs in the various countries, in conjunction with the embassies and Air France delegations around the world. An operational crisis unit operates 7 days a week to coordinate operations and obtain the necessary authorizations to maintain the regular flight schedule and set up special flights exclusively dedicated to repatriation operations. These operations have been complicated due to the numerous restrictions imposed on airlines, for example in terms of crew accommodation and by the lack of harmonization of procedures in the various countries.

150,000 French nationals were able to return home thanks to Air France and Transavia

Since 14 March 2020, Air France and Transavia have operated more than 1,800 flights from 132 airports in 82 countries, enabling the repatriation of more than 270,000 passengers, including 150,000 French nationals. In a severely deteriorated economic context and at a time when most aircraft had to leave Paris empty, Air France and Transavia have introduced special capped fares for repatriation passengers.

Air France's activity is now focused on operating a minimum flight schedule, equivalent to around 5% of the capacity usually available. This is designed, on the one hand, to preserve territorial continuity to major French cities and overseas territories, and, on the other hand, to maintain a lifeline with major European and international cities, enabling the transport of passengers and cargo.

Air France is also actively involved in the airlift between China and France for the transport of masks and medical equipment. 7 flights are operated every week using Boeing 777 cargo aircraft and Boeing 777s usually used for passenger transport and on board which equipment is carried in the holds and in the cabin.

SAS INITIATES PROCESSES TO REDUCE THE SIZE OF ITS FUTURE WORKFORCE DUE TO LOWER EXPECTED DEMAND FOR AIR TRAVEL



As a result of COVID-19, demand is expected to be significantly affected during the remainder of 2020 and it will take some years before demand returns to the levels experienced before the outbreak. Consequently, SAS needs to adapt the business to a lower demand environment. As a consequence, SAS will initiate processes to reduce the size of its future workforce by up to 5,000 full-time positions.

The COVID-19 outbreak has removed most of the demand for air travel and thereby the commercial basis for airlines. Currently, SAS is only operating a very limited domestic network in Norway and Sweden. Given the current restrictions, SAS expects limited activity in the important summer season. In addition, it will most likely take some years before demand returns to the levels seen before COVID-19. The workforce in SAS has notice periods with a mean of six months. The uncertainty regarding demand and the time it takes to adapt the organization means that SAS must act proactively. This gives SAS the flexibility to ramp-up the business quickly if demand returns, but also to take further actions if recovery takes longer than currently envisaged.

The potential reduction of the workforce by up to 5,000 full-time positions will be split with approximately 1,900 full-time positions in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway and 1,700 in Denmark. The processes will be implemented in accordance with the labour law practices in each respective country. During this process, SAS will actively engage with its unions and other stakeholders to seek solutions to reduce the number of actual layoffs across the Group, as well as other productivity enhancements.


KLM GRATEFUL FOR €2-€4 BILLION IN STATE AID PLEDGED BY DUTCH GOVERNMENT



The impact of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis on the entire airline sector, and consequently KLM, is unprecedented. Since the start of this crisis, numerous steps have been taken to tackle the situation head on and to preserve cash. On 9 April, Air France-KLM made it known that it would require additional liquidity in the third quarter of 2020.

Intensive talks have been taking place between the different parties, including between Air France-KLM and the French government and between the Dutch government and the KLM Group. This evening, the Air France-KLM Group and the French government announced that specific agreements have been reached regarding state aid for Air France-KLM. These agreements are still subject to approval from the European Commission. KLM is naturally delighted with this development, which is explained in more detail in the Air France-KLM press release.

The scale of the public interest in the route network KLM operates from Schiphol, last year led the Dutch government to acquire a 14% share in Air France-KLM. In the face of the Covid-19 crisis, the Dutch government has once more voiced its support for the KLM Group. The Dutch government and KLM are still discussing the details of the aid package and the conditions that will be attached. Dutch government ministers Hoekstra and Van Nieuwenhuizen explained the government's intentions at a press conference this evening. The aid package will come in the form of state guarantees and loans amounting to between two and four billion euros.

AEROFLOT GROUP ANNOUNCES OPERATING RESULTS FOR MARCH 2020



Aeroflot PJSC announced operating results for Aeroflot Group ("the Group") and Aeroflot - Russian Airlines ("the Company") for March and 3M 2020.

In 3M 2020, Aeroflot Group carried 11.2 million passengers, 12.3% down year-on-year. Aeroflot airline carried 6.9 million passengers; a year-on-year decrease of 18.0%. Group and Company RPKs decreased by 13.4% and 17.9% year-on-year, respectively. ASKs decrease by 5.1% year-on-year for the Group and by 6.6% year-on-year for the Company. The passenger load factor decreased by 6.9 p.p. year-on-year to 71.1% for Aeroflot Group and decreased by 9.1 p.p. to 66.7% for Aeroflot airline.

In March 2020, Aeroflot Group carried 3.0 million passengers, a year-on-year decrease of 34.3%. Aeroflot airline carried 1.8 million passengers; a year-on-year decrease of 41.4%.

Group and Company RPKs were down 37.4% and 43.6% year-on-year, respectively. ASKs decrease by 19.7% for Aeroflot Group and by 22.5% for Aeroflot airline.

Aeroflot Group's passenger load factor was 62.6%, representing a 17.7 percentage point decrease versus the same period a year earlier. The passenger load factor at Aeroflot - Russian Airlines decreased by 21.4 percentage points year-on-year to 57.4%.

In March 2020 there are no changes in the Aeroflot Group fleet. As of 31 March 2020, the Group fleet had 361 aircraft. As of 31 March 2020, the Company fleet had 247 aircraft.

The Group is currently optimising its capacities in light of the planned schedule. However, a dramatic decrease in demand led to low passenger load.


AIRBUS DEVELOPS SOLUTION FOR AIRLINES TO USE THEIR WIDEBODY AIRCRAFT FOR PURE CARGO OPERATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC



Airbus is developing a modification for A330 and A350 family aircraft which will enable airlines to install freight pallets directly onto the cabin floor seat tracks, after removal of the economy-class seats.

This solution will help with the airlines' own business continuity, and also alleviate the global shortage of 'belly-freight' air cargo capacity due to the widespread grounding of long-haul aircraft in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it helps the industry to address the high demand for humanitarian flights to transport large quantities of medical equipment and other supplies rapidly over large distances to where they are needed.

Compared with loading cargo onto seats, this Airbus solution facilitates easier and quicker loading and unloading operations, as well as reduced 'wear & tear' to the seats themselves. Other important benefits include the added security of robust fire protection, and the 9g load restraint capability to prevent anything from shifting in flight.

The modification is packaged for operators as an Airbus Service Bulletin (SB). Under this arrangement Airbus defines the engineering work scope and also manages the process for obtaining the one-time certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Its scope includes the removal of the seats & IFE (Inflight entertainment), installation of cargo pallets and associated safety equipment - and also the re-installation of the original passenger cabin elements for reverting back to passenger operations. The SB approach will also be valid beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.



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