Sunday, 31 May 2020

Importance of trust, transparency to airline satisfaction grows as the industry faces pandemic worries

North American airlines were headed into 2020 with some of the highest customer satisfaction scores ever recorded, thanks to heavy investment in newer aircraft, better in-flight services and improved customer service. Then COVID-19 hit. According to the J.D. Power 2020 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,SM released today, many of the core values that drove standout passenger experiences in the pre-pandemic environment will be even more important as the industry plots its recovery. Specifically, the industry will need to focus on restoring confidence, while continuing to improve on the operational side.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

SKAL INTERNATIONAL supports Travel Agencies / Tour Operators and Airline Passengers Through Challenges Amid COVID-19

SKAL INTERNATIONAL supports Travel Agencies / Tour Operators and Airline Passengers Through Challenges Amid COVID-19

The International Skal Council, advising body of Skal International Executive Board, established a committee to work on guiding and advocating for the restructuring in the Travel Industry

On May 27th 2020, The International Skal Council, advising body of Skal International Executive Board, with representatives of from over 50 countries on board, has established a committee to work on guiding and advocating for the restructuring in the Travel Industry. The goal of the committee is to work on strategies on how to protect and guide Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, who are extensively impacted negatively due to COVID-19.

DB Schenker Contracts with New York City to Deliver Critical Medical Supplies in the Fight Against Covid-19

DB Schenker using Icelandair aircraft is transporting tons of personal protective equipment from China to New York City via charter flights delivering supplies to special Covid-19 distribution centres in the city.

DB Schenker announced this week it has contracted with The City of New York to transport and deliver much needed personal protective equipment for health care workers in local area hospitals and elderly nursing homes. The cargo, which consists of personal protective equipment such as medical goggles, gloves and gowns, is being picked up in several locations throughout China, transported to the U.S. on direct charter flights, and delivered to special Covid-19 distribution centres in the city.

“Global logistics is playing a vital role ensuring critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment gets to where it needs to be as quickly as possible,” said Hessel Verhage, CEO, DB Schenker Americas. “As a company, DB Schenker is committed to providing urgently needed air freight capacity to expand the global supply network in the fight against Covid-19.”

Austrian Airlines....the way back to flight.....but how safe is flying?

Austrian Airlines to Resume Flight Operations on 15 June
Photo Austrian Airlines/Markus Setznagel

After a grounding lasting almost 90 days, Austrian Airlines is getting ready to get its aircraft back into the skies.  The company, part of the pan European Lufthansa Group, has set the date of 15th June to begin scheduled operations again, albeit with a limited timetable. 

Included in the first wave of reintroduced flights, will be services to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels all from its home base of Vienna. A full list of destinations being offered by the carrier is shown below,  along with more routes Austrian will operate from the week after as it slowly builds up schedules. 

In the initial phase, due to the low estimated demand, the airline will primarily deploy the smaller aircraft in its fleet, such as Embraer 195 and Bombardier Dash 8. “We all are pleased that Austrian Airlines is finally flying again. I would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding. And of course, I would like to thank our employees who stood firm in their commitment to our Austrian Airlines during these last few months”, says CCO Andreas Otto. “We will also resume long-haul flight service as soon as we have sufficient feeder traffic on short- and medium-haul routes. This could already be the case in July”, he added.

But, How safe is flying? How clean are Austrian Airlines aircraft? And how do you best protect yourself?

United's boss Scott Kirby sends message to staff regarding leadership moves.

The United Airlines boss Scott Kirby (pictured left) sent a message to the airline's almost 100,000 staff regarding some new changes in the leadership profile of the US mega-carrier.

Chief Operations Officer (COO) Greg Hart will be stepping away from the company soon and in the meantime will focus his attention on critical medium and long term issues - trying to make the carrier a world leader in innovation regarding safety, hygiene, and operating efficiency. He will also be looking at the core structure of cost including labour costs, hinting at a whole raft of job losses on the way for the airline.

The full message to staff is below.

Sheremetyevo Airport helps urgent supplies of medical equipment and doctors travel to Russian regions in desperate need of support during current crisis

Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport quickly facilitated the dispatch of multidisciplinary teams of physicians on Wednesday 27th May, to combat coronavirus infection in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Dagestan and the Zabaikalye Territory, along with medication, personal protective equipment and medical equipment.   

The physicians will spend about two weeks in those regions of the Russian Federation. Four teams of six people each were sent to North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan and the Zabaikalye Territory. They included highly professional medical doctors and nurses who had been fighting COVID-19 for several months in Moscow, as well as pulmonologists, infectious disease specialists, ICU anesthesiologists, radiologists and ICU nurses.

Each team is led by a surgeon with experience in the treatment process and in working at hospitals that have been repurposed for the treatment of coronavirus.

United Turns Old Uniforms Into Masks for Employees

United Airlines upcycles employee uniforms into 7,500 face coverings for airport operations workers on the front line at San Francisco International

The US mega carrier United Airlines delivered 7,500 face coverings over the past week to front line employees at San Francisco International Airport and the airline's San Francisco Maintenance Base that were made from 12,284 pounds of uniforms United upcycled. United worked with an upcycling partner, Looptworks to produce masks that would supplement the supply of face coverings that the airline already provides all employees and customers. 

United recently rolled out new Carhartt Company Gear for its 28,000 Technical Operations, Ramp Service and Catering Operations employees and originally planned to turn the surplus of older garments into carpet padding and insulation fibre. The company changed course last month to align with the latest guidance from the Centres for Disease Control's (CDC) to wear face masks in public when social distancing is not possible.

"This was an opportunity to do something extra for our employees to keep them safe while also staying true to our commitment to be one of the most sustainable airlines in the world," said Janet Lamkin, United Airlines SVP and President, California. "Recycling these unused uniforms into masks is a natural extension of our broader effort to overhaul our cleaning, social distancing and mitigation measures to ensure we're doing everything possible to keep our employees and our customers safe."

AirAsia India opens bookings for travel

AirAsia India has opened up reservations for travel to 21 destinations across its network. as domestic travel across the country starts to resume. 

All AirAsia aircraft are fitted with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arresters) filtration systems which are said to filter around 99.99% of dust particles and airborne contaminants such as viruses and bacteria, ensuring the highest possible quality of cabin air. The airline says these HEPA filters offer a performance level similar to those used in hospital operating theatres, although it does depend on how well they are maintained and changed to their overall effectiveness.  AirAsia India will also be introducing regular disinfection procedures, with agents using cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting products approved by the Public Health Authority and aircraft manufacturer to keep the interiors clean.

Sunil Bhaskaran, MD & CEO, AirAsia India said: “We are appreciative of the government working collaboratively with all stakeholders to define the new protocols to help open up domestic flying in a calibrated manner keeping the health and safety of passengers and the airline crew in focus. The new SOPs and guidelines will pave the way for ensuring and instilling a sense of confidence amongst passengers. The precautions taken and preparedness displayed by the airlines and airport operators cohesively will reinstate air travel as the safest and fastest mode of transportation. As an airline, with its pillars standing firmly on the foundation of ‘Being Guest Obsessed’ and ‘Safety Always’, we will continue to incorporate measures on these underlying principles in all facets of our business.”

Ryanair's Austrian operation Lauda shuts down Vienna base

Laudamotion the Austrian sideline carrier of Ryanair confirmed on Friday that it would be it was closing down its Vienna base following a row with unions over pay and conditions.  The airline has already relocated many aircraft to other bases for storage during the pandemic. The move was part of the blackmail ploy by Ryanair's boss Michael O’Leary who had previously threatened the Lauda staff unless they agreed to a significant pay cut he was close its home base and bring in Ryanair crew and planes. 

Whilst the Vida union said it was aware everyone had to "make a contribution in times of crisis, however, the contracts Lauda was offering would push the income of employees that work full time and in shifts to below the “poverty threshold” was “out of proportion.”

A Lauda spokesperson confirmed the shut-down would see over 370 people lose their jobs and the airline would keep its bases in Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Palma. Some of the airline's aircraft have been transferred to Duesseldorf,  London Stansted and Palma de Mallorca.

There has been much speculation in the local media that Ryanair was about to pull the plug on the whole Lauda operation, especially after news broke that the airline group had refused to pay the May salaries around 200 staff in Germany after the local office rejected proposals on reduced working hours.

The Lauda spokesperson claims this was purely an "organisational problem." and it was "working very hard to pay out the wages.".

One can only wonder what Niki Lauda, who had a long history of treating employees with consideration, respect and above all, fairness, would have thought of an airline bearing his name would think of the way the staff are being treated. 

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Finnair holds AGM and agrees €63,000 wage for Chairperson of the Board

Finnair held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday at the firms Vantaa headquarters with 238 shareholders representing 85 314 604 shares and votes.€
Up first was the approval of the airline's accounts, and news there would be no dividend for the financial year 2019. Next up the meeting approved the salary package for board members:
Remuneration of the Board of Directors
In accordance with the proposal of Finnair’s largest shareholder, the State of Finland, the AGM resolved that the following annual remuneration shall be paid to the members of the Board of Directors:
  • Chairperson 63,000 euros;
  • Vice Chairperson 32,700 euros;
  • Chairpersons of the Audit Committee and the People and Remuneration Committee 32,700 euros, where these individuals are neither the Chairperson nor the Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors; and
  • other members 30,300 euros.
The AGM resolved that each member’s fee for a meeting of the Board of Directors or its Committee is 600 euros when the meeting takes place in the member’s country of residence and 2,400 euros for other meetings. For meetings held via conference calls the fee is 600 euros.
The Board members shall be reimbursed for reasonable travel and representation expenses in accordance with the company’s general expenses policy. In addition, the Board members and their spouses will have a limited right to discounted travel on the company’s flights in accordance with the company’s discount ticket policy regarding the Board of Directors.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Half of Finnair customers planning leisure trips by air, flights within Europe first choice

As the Helsinki based Finnair prepares to ramp up its operations, with focus on continuing to connect Europe and Asia, the airline asked its customers how they feel about travelling by air again.

Over 3 000 Finnair Plus Loyalty program customers responded to Finnair’s customer survey, including all tier levels. Half of the respondents were already thinking about leisure trips by air, and almost nine out of ten customers surveyed by Finnair said they expected to fly at least once within the next year.

“We expect air travel to start gradually recovering from July onwards, and our customer survey supports this – customers are clearly looking forward to future travels”, says Ole Orvér, Finnair Chief Commercial Officer. “We start operating to some 40 European and Asian destinations in July and will gradually increase frequencies and routes as demand recovers.”

50% of customers planning leisure trips by air

According to the survey, half of the respondents were eager to travel by air for leisure, while 36% had a neutral attitude towards air travel for leisure. Almost 90% of customers expect to fly at least once over the next 12 months.

Travel restrictions were – quite naturally – the largest concern for travel: 77 % mentioned removing travel restrictions to be a prerequisite for their air travel. Many European countries are easing or removing travel restrictions during the summer.

Pakistan to resume outbound international flights as Coronavirus COVID-19 spreads

Pakistan will allow outbound international flights to resume from Saturday, an aviation official said, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday’s announcement came on the day the South Asian nation reported the largest one-day spread of the infection, with 2,636 cases and 57 deaths in the last 24 hours. Pakistan has recorded a total of 64,028 cases.

“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Senior Joint Secretary at the Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement, adding that flights would be allowed from Saturday.

Constant Aviation Completes Industry-Leading 17th 7,500-Cycle Inspection of the Challenger 300 Series, World’s Most Popular Super Midsized Aircraft

Constant Aviation completes its 17th 7,500-cycle inspection, the most comprehensive for the Bombardier Challenger 300 series
The Challenger 300 series is the world’s top-selling super midsized aircraft, with almost 800 delivered since 2004 and many reaching this critical mid-life milestone
Constant Aviation has completed more of these inspections than any MRO in the world, generating efficiencies in the process
Constant Aviation has completed its 17th 7,500-cycle inspection of the Bombardier Challenger 300, more than any other MRO in the world. With nearly 800 Challenger 300 series aircraft having been delivered worldwide since 2004i, making it the world’s top-selling super midsized aircraft, many are reaching 7,500 flight cycles, an important midlife milestone. Constant Aviation’s experience makes it the only MRO capable of performing this comprehensive inspection and maintenance process with maximum efficiency and minimum aircraft downtime.

“There have been fewer than 20 7,500-cycle inspections completed worldwide to date, so, with 17 of them performed by us, our experience and expertise are unmatched,” said Constant Aviation CEO David Davies. “With every inspection, we have gained knowledge and found ways to make the process more efficient. As more Challenger 300s come due for this inspection and maintenance process, Constant Aviation is in the best position to do the work and return aircraft to service with as little downtime as possible.”