The immediate challenge for airlines as the world starts to move again is to get aircraft fixed and services running at pace, according to a presenter at the recent CAPA Live virtual event.
Javid Malik, chief operating officer at Air Asia Berhad says ‘everyone is trying to get their aircraft, that have been mothballed, back into the air.’
A Qatar Airways Airbus A380 took to the skies for the first time in more than 18 months earlier this week, positioning the aircraft from Doha International Airport (DIA) to Hamad International Airport (HIA) after the airline reluctantly brought the fleet back into operation due to ongoing capacity shortage.
It is anticipated that at least five of the airline’s 10 A380s will be brought back into service on a temporary basis over the coming weeks to support fleet capacity on key winter routes, including London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris (CDG), from 15 December 2021.
SITA will make its Digital Travel Declaration solution – which allows passengers to share required travel and health documentation with governments ahead of travel – available to governments free of charge globally. The company says this is aimed at addressing the challenge of submitting and verifying health documentation which remains a major impediment to the recovery of the global travel industry.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a moderate rebound in air travel in September 2021 compared to August’s performance. This was driven by recovery in domestic markets, in particular China, where some travel curbs were lifted following the Covid-19 outbreaks in August. International demand slipped slightly compared to the previous month.
Total demand for air travel in September 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 53.4% compared to September 2019. This was up from August, when demand was 56.0% below August 2019 levels.
Demand from Kiwis for private jet travel to Australia – particularly on a one way basis – is ‘going through the roof’, according to Christchurch-headquartered GCH Aviation.
The company’s group marketing manager, Caroline Blanchfield says that as the eastern states of Australia open up New Zealanders are heading across the Tasman for work, to relocate with permanent jobs or to resume life there.
With limited commercial capacity, as well as a desire to stay in their own bubble, people who can afford it are increasingly attracted do the private jet option.
Airlines have had a week of positivity as more markets relax their Covid-19 restrictions and start to look forward to reopening their hotel doors, says OAG’s chief analyst John Grant.
However he says that airlines are increasingly cautious of adding capacity back too quickly, despite the market positivity, especially through the coming winter season.
The aviation sector’s road to recovery is not likely to be dialled back as nations and states begin to make it clear they are prepared to live with Covid-19 and reconnect, says Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas.
Speaking at Flight Centre Corporate’s virtual event, Illuminate, yesterday Joyce outlined immediate and post Christmas plans for the airline.
‘We are in a different space than we were six months ago. Our largest (most populated) states are opening up, while still having protections.’
The key to Australia’s newest airline will be where it flies to – concentrating on domestic routes that are not currently operated.
Founder and CEO of Bonza, Tim Jordan, told CAPA Live this week that where there is a double up Bonza will be there to stimulate the low cost model without interfering with an existing carrier’s offering.
The Australian Government’s latest announcement on reopening is a is a step forward, but more can still be done,’ according to Philip Goh, International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s ) regional vice president for Asia Pacific.
‘The announcement of the November timeline and the removal of the international arrival caps are positive steps forward.
‘The reduction of quarantine period and introduction of home quarantine for vaccinated Australians are also steps in the right direction. We welcome the use of rapid antigen tests for international travel.’
Fiji Airports is ramping up its Nadi International Airport operations in expectation and anticipation of the re-opening of Fiji’s borders.
Fiji Airports acting CEO, Isei Tudreu says as an airport it is encouraging to see airlines taking bookings for a Fiji holiday in December.
Local GOL representative, Discover the World, advises the airline has recently partnered with Avolon, a leasing company, and committed to purchase or lease up to 250 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) flying taxis.
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New research from ForwardKeys shows that international flights to European destinations in July and August reached 39.9% of pre-pandemic levels. This is significantly better than last year (which was 26.6%), when the Covid-19 pandemic caused widespread lockdowns; and vaccines were not yet approved.
However, the picture was mixed, with some destinations doing considerably better than others. Also, the outlook is not improving, as bookings slowed towards the end of the summer period.
European airlines are set to face a tough winter due to the ongoing pandemic and travel confidence likely remaining suppressed. Low fares will be key to stimulating demand as travel restrictions are likely to continue, says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
Gus Gardner, associate travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, says that during what is traditionally the offseason in Europe, the pandemic is likely to make operating conditions difficult.
New Zealand could see its air connectivity ‘withering on the vine’ next year if we can’t project a clear plan soon on how we plan to open up safely to the world, says Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers.
He says there is also an urgent need for Government support to keep many of the hundreds of workers who werere-employed when the trans-Tasman bubble opened kept in jobs through to the end of the year.
‘As the Northern Hemisphere opens up with flights around Europe and North America, and between the two, some of our members are reporting increasing pressure from network planners to take aircraft onto these routes. That’s starting to happen.’
Aviation intelligence specialist OAG says vaccination rates alone are ‘not a guide to how easy international air travel is’. The company’s research shows government policy is a ‘much more important determinant of airline recovery’.
OAG has sorted countries into four categories based on the proportion of the population that is vaccinated and the level of international capacity operatings.
Enviro-tech company CarbonClick has two new airport partnerships in its mission toward reducing the impact of air travel on climate change. CarbonClick is working with airports around the world to enable travellers
to balance the carbon footprint of their flights.
Rako Science has set-up a new sample collection site at the Auckland International Airport terminal.
This comes as Rako Science chief science officer, Dr Stephen Grice announces a new set of features for Rako’s pre-departure Covid-19 PCR saliva travel certificate. The first change is to replace UTC and add NZST into the certificate but to continue to also reference UTC/GMT.
The second change is to add a QR code that can be scanned by customs and immigration authorities to go to the Rako Science verification website so they can check the authenticity of each individual travel certificate.
Just released airline industry statistics have confirmed what we already know – 2020 was the worst year on record for the industry.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) publication with performance figures for 2020 demonstrating the devastating effects on global air transport during that year of the Covid-19 crisis.
Evidence over the past 18 months that New Zealanders are keen and willing to travel when they can will encourage airlines to keep faith with the market, delegates at the Tourism Export Council (TEC) NZ conference in New Plymouth heard recently.
Scott Tasker, general manager aeronautical commercial at Auckland Airport, says airlines are aware that New Zealand was a profitable route pre-Covid and could be again. On top of that surveys show that New Zealand is a hugely desirable destination for overseas markets.
However, he also warns that the country will not remain on people’s ‘bucket lists’ forever and that airlines will obviously shift operations to routes where borders open – especially if there is no clear pathway to the future provided by New Zealand authorities.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports passenger demand performance for June 2021 showed a slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets. Demand remains significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions.
Total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 60.1% compared to June 2019. That was a small improvement over the 62.9% decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019.
International passenger demand in June was 80.9% below June 2019, an improvement from the 85.4% decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to the slightly higher demand.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has branded the European Commission’s (EC) decision to set the winter slot use threshold at 50% as ‘out of touch with reality’. It argues that the EC had ignored the advice and evidence presented by EU member states and the airline industry, which had made the case for a much lower threshold.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that both international and domestic travel demand showed marginal improvements in May 2021, compared to the prior month. However it adds that recovery in international traffic in particular continues to be stymied by extensive government travel restrictions.
‘Refund uncertainty’ is having a major impact on traveller’s confidence and bookings in 2021, according to a recent study by Amadeus.
The survey of 5000 travellers across the world shows that 81% of respondents feel the increased risk of cancellations due to the pandemic is a barrier to booking travel this year, with refund uncertainty (46%) and the inconvenience of the refund process (38%) topping concerns when a flight is cancelled.
Moves by Spain, France and other European states to carefully open borders are a step in the right direction, but restoring global connectivity requires far more than regional or individual state initiatives, according to the International Air Transport Association.
The G20 has endorsed a data-driven approach to managing the risks of Covid-19 while re-opening borders.
‘Connectivity needs countries at both ends of the journey to be open. Many of the world’s largest air travel markets, such Australia, China, the UK, Japan, and Canada remain essentially closed with no clear plans to guide a reopening,’ says Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.
‘Data should help these and other countries to introduce targeted policies that keep populations safe while moving towards a normality in a world with Covid-19 for some time to come,’
France, Spain's steps welcomed
IATA has welcomed the relaxation of Covid-19 border measures for vaccinated passengers, and the broader use of affordable antigen testing adopted by Spain and France last week.
However, the association says this is tempered by ongoing disappointment at the failure to implement harmonised measures across Europe and deep frustration at the lack of coordination among governments worldwide for a data-driven risk-managed approach to re-establishing the freedom to travel.
Spain has opened its borders to most vaccinated travelers from around the world and allowed EU travelers to enter the country with a negative antigen test. Passengers from low-risk countries (including the UK) can enter without any restrictions.
From 9 June France opened to vaccinated travellers from all but those countries assessed as high risk. Vaccinated travelers from medium-risk countries will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 antigen or PCR test, and unvaccinated people must still self-isolate for seven days.
‘It’s encouraging to see more European countries taking steps to reopen borders,’ says Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. ‘They recognise the opportunity created by vaccination and are making travel more affordable with the use of antigen testing. But this approach is not universal across the continent. Many European states have yet to significantly relax borders at all. This fragmentation should be replaced with a unified approach that is consistent with the recommendations of the EU to which they belong. People, businesses and economies would all benefit from greater alignment across Europe in relaxing measures and restoring the freedom to travel.’
Global air passenger numbers are expected to recover to 88% of pre-Covid-19 levels in 2022, according to a long term forecast released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Tourism Economics. This follows what is likely to be a 52% recovery in 2021.
The organisations predict the damage of the Covid-19 crisis will be felt for years to come but say people have retained their desire and need to travel.
The report notes that consumers have accumulated savings in the lockdowns, in some cases exceeding 10% of GDP. Vaccination rates in developed countries (with the notable exception of Japan) should exceed 50% of the population by the third quarter of 2021.
Air Chathams has seen an immediate increase in demand with the opening of quarantine free borders with Australia and the Cook Islands, says Duane Emeny, the airline’s chief operating officer.
‘Kiwis connecting domestically onto international flights was always a huge market for us. We lost half our market when borders closed.’
Emeny says this traffic is definitely returning, with the biggest pick-up from Whakatane to Auckland, followed closely by travellers from Wanganui.
Air Chathams remains committed to its Norfolk Island service despite a hiccup last week when complications around the legislative process delayed the planned first post-Covid flight from Auckland.
Duane Emeny, chief operating officer at 3C, says the service will now resume 10 June.
‘The positive side is that because of the pent up demand we’ll now be utilising the larger ATR 72 for the service. We will then revert back to the SAAB 340 once a week with the plan to build to two flights a week.’
Three quarters (75%) of the surveyed business travellers say they would be willing to pay more to keep the middle seat open when they fly, according to a survey from global property and casualty insurance company Chubb. At the same time, more than two-thirds (69%) say they expect company travel budgets will be trimmed in a post-Covid world to reduce expenses.
At a global level, 84% of business travellers say they cannot wait to travel again without fear of getting Covid-19. Four out of five have personally missed business travel – an even larger share (87%) said they miss leisure travel.
Viva Expeditions is promoting Antarctica day flights from Australia on a Qantas Dreamliner (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane).
Managing director, Rachel Williams says this is a great way to experience and appreciate the sheer size of Antarctica in a day. ‘Weather permitting we’ll hope to reduce the flying altitude to approximately 20,000 feet to give improved viewing of some areas. The South Pole flight will spend significantly longer over Antarctica, mostly at cruising altitude as we aim to reach the South Pole.
Qantas and Jetstar are set to operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman
The carriers will restart flying to all pre-Covid destinations in New Zealand when the two-way trans-Tasman bubble opens later this month.
Air New Zealand will trial the digital Travel Pass app developed by International Air Transport Association (IATA) on its Auckland-Sydney route in April. The carrier's chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull says the goal is to enable customers to seamlessly manage their digital travel documentation throughout their travel experience.
Hawaiian Airlines remains keen to return to New Zealand and Australia, but accepts that they may be two of the last international markets to open up, this week’s CAPA Live webinar event heard.
HA’s chief executive Peter Ingram points out that the airline has been flying to Japan and Korea from Hawaii ‘to a certain degree’ for several months.
‘That started with all-cargo flights, with enough demand to justify the costs of operating and allowed us, as the pre-travel testing regime has come into place in Hawaii, to open up to passenger demand with a low hurdle for what incremental costs we need to cover that.’
Seven features of the ‘unrecognisable’ airline industry structure that will appear in the post-Covid world have been identified by CAPA – Centre for Aviation founder and chairman emeritus Peter Harbison.
1. Airline revenue streams, already rapidly evolving, will change greatly;
It is surprising how few airlines went out of business in an ‘unimaginably dreadful year, where international capacity fell to around one tenth of its previous level and many domestic operations fared only slightly better,’ according to CAPA – Centre for Aviation founder and chairman emeritus, Peter Harbison.
However Harbison warns that despite the story of survival we could be fast approaching the ‘tipping point.’
Auckland Airport has joined with industry partners and medical experts in supporting the development of a risk-based border model.
Published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, the peer-reviewed research evaluates the risk posed by passengers from countries with different prevalence of Covid-19 travelling to New Zealand.
It proposes a multi-layer, risk-mitigation approach in support of New Zealand’s elimination strategy by exploring the impact of a more tailored approach that matches different levels of traveller risk.
Airlines are calling for an extension of support packages from government following the Prime Minister’s forecast of keeping the border closed until the latter part of 2021.
New Zealand is at severe risk of losing what few international air links it has left, says Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ).
The Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) is supporting the implementation of pre-departure tests.
Airlines have quickly actioned predeparture testing for Covid-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Now airlines flying to New Zealand will work with the New Zealand Government to ensure the same testing protocols are in place for other destinations by 25 January.
The Walshe Group has been appointed general sales agent to represent Lufthansa Group airlines in New Zealand effective 1 March 2021. The Walshe Group managing director, Jacqui Walshe, will be responsible for the growth of Lufthansa Group airlines in New Zealand.
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Malaysia Airlines will continue to promote its enhanced economy fares to the trade into 2021 and is expecting the flexible options to resonate with consumers as borders safely open for post pandemic travel.
Giles Gilbert, regional manager for Malaysia Airlines Australia and New Zealand says travellers have been increasingly seeking choice and flexibility when they plan their journeys and this can only accelerate as people return to the skies.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data revealing that the Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on international connectivity, shaking up the rankings of the world’s most connected cities.
London, the world’s number one most connected city in September 2019, has seen a 67% decline in connectivity. By September 2020, it had fallen to number eight. New York (-66% fall in
Malaysia Airlines has introduced MH Group Portal in New Zealand and Australia in line with the company’s digitalisation strategy.
‘Malaysia Airlines is continually looking for ways to simplify the booking process for agents in this region.’ says Giles Gilbert, regional manager for Malaysia Airlines Australia and New Zealand.
‘The end to end automation process from quoting fares to ticketing will provide agents a seamless experience when organising a trip for 10 passengers and more. This direct booking process
The impact of Covid-19 on airports ‘has hastened trends of change that were already in motion before the pandemic’, according to Foster + Partners architect and senior partner Antoinette Nassopoulos-Erickson.
This includes advancing the implementation of biometrics and contactless technologies at airports, she told the audience at a recent CAPA - Centre for Aviation Masterclass event
Most consumers are open to air travel and overall fear levels about catching Covid-19 while flying are ‘tepid’, according to research by a global analytics and data company.
OAG surveyed 4000 global users of its flightview app and found that 69% intend to fly internationally within the next six months, while 79% have plans for domestic travel.
Australia’s moves to allow flights from New Zealand from 16 October, to New South Wales and Northern Territory where Covid is considered sufficiently under control, has delighted the New Zealand Aviation Coalition (NZAC).
The airline industry has plenty of disruption still to come and desperately needs restructuring, a high level virtual conference heard this week.
In his introduction to the 2020 Aviation Summit, CAPA Centre of Aviation chairman emeritus, Peter Harbison, said that the industry has seen about a 60% drop in passenger numbers globally during the crisis.
Despite QF’s ultra-long haul flights, dubbed Project Sunrise, currently being shelved, Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce predicts that when borders open it will be the type of service to resonate even more with passengers.
‘There is likely to be a stronger business case for flights like Sydney / Melbourne to London or New York, without the necessity to stop anywhere on the way.’
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is appealing to all travellers to wear face covering during the travel journey for the safety of all passengers and crew during COVID-19.
Wearing face coverings is a key recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) guidance for safe operations during the pandemic, as developed jointly with the World Health Organization and governments.
Singapore Airlines is increasing scheduled passenger services to Christchurch and Auckland.
From 10 September 2020, Singapore to Christchurch will increase to two times weekly, with an additional flight operated on Thursday; then from 6 October 2020, Singapore to Christchurch will operate three times weekly with the third flight operating on Tuesday. The re-instatement of these
The risk of catching Covid-19 while travelling by air should not be compared with travelling on a public bus, according Justin Tighe-Umbers, co-chair of the New Zealand Aviation Coalition (NZAC).
'Every time we go into Alert Level 2 or higher, two thirds of the domestic network gets taken out,' Tighe-Umbers says. 'That's the knock on effect of having to keep 30% to 50% of seats empty depending on the aircraft type. The problem lies with the Ministry of Health's requirement for physical distancing on aircraft under Level 2.
'That requirement reduces the number of flights as airlines respond. In simple terms, it means not as many ticket paying passengers are covering the cost of each flight. Airlines can not be expected to fly where they can't cover costs.'
He says measures like hygiene protocols, aircrew wearing protective equipment, restrictive food and beverage services, limiting the use of toilets to certain areas of the aircraft and the mandatory use of face masks by passengers all help prevent transmission.
'Modern aircraft are also one of the most controlled environments that people could experience. Air is exchanged with fresh air from outside every two or three minutes on most aircraft. That is 20 to 30 times more frequently than most office buildings.'
Tighe-Umbers says while the government obviously recognises people want to travel regionally and there are economic benefits from that, it also needs to recognise physical distancing on aircraft imposes heavy costs.
Social distancing broad brush 'won't work'
Air Chathams is warning that the government announcement on the requirement to social distance passengers will ultimately make air travel more expensive, particularly on smaller regional aircraft, whilst piling 'more commercial pain' on airlines already hurting after emerging from the first lockdown.
'It is impossible for government to administer a broad brush requirement to socially distance and believe it will be effective on a multitude of different aircraft types, especially when separation of passengers during boarding and deplaning at many regional ports can not be achieved,' says Air Chathams chief operating officer, Duane Emeny.
Malaysia Airlines retains its confidence in the New Zealand market’s medium to long term future, despite the challenging times the travel industry finds itself in, says Giles Gilbert, the airline’s regional manager for Australia and New Zealand.
Gilbert points out that Malaysia Airlines actually increased its sales force by two in the Auckland office in February and those staff remain with the airline, although it has obviously been difficult for them to get
Despite a significant percentage of the population fearing that they have a high chance of catching Covid-19 if they fly, and media coverage that often seems to promote this fear, actual evidence and recorded instances appear to indicate the opposite.
The Covid crisis could have a ‘very long shadow’ when it comes to flying and travel in general, according to global research by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). ‘Passengers are telling us that it will take time before they return to their old travel habits,’ says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Qantas has released a three-year strategy to guide recovery and return to growth in the changed market.
The airline says around 100 aircraft will be grounded for up to 12 months, some for longer. There will also be job losses and extended stand downs to manage a long period of reduced flying, especially internationally.