Sunday, 10 January 2021

Blade and Ross Aviation to form strategic alliance

Blade and Ross Aviation to work together to mutually develop plans for a vertiport in Westchester and to offer Blade services at Ross Aviation locations in Massachusetts and California

     

BLADE Urban Air Mobility and Ross Aviation have entered into a strategic alliance to speed up the roll-out of urban air mobility services in the regions where Ross Aviation and Blade operations overlap. 

In December of 2020, Experience Investment Corporation agreed to merge with Blade, which will create the only publicly traded urban air mobility platform in the United States.

Ross Aviation has its headquarters in Denver and is dedicated to soaring higher in the flight hospitality services they provide. The firm currently operates 17 fixed base operations (FBOs) under the Ross Aviation, Rectrix Aviation, Alaska Aerofuel, Island Air and Great Circle Aviation Services banners. 

Airbus delivers 34% fewer aircraft during 2020 - A total of 566 aircraft including 38 A220s and 4 A380s






Despite the global pandemic and the downturn in the aviation industry the European planemaker Airbus still managed to deliver 566 aircraft during 2020, just 34% fewer than in 2019.

It also managed to record a total of 383 new aircraft orders, 268 net orders in all market segments.  There were 64 new orders for the A220, 296 orders were received for A320 family of jets. In the widebody sector, Airbus gained 23 new orders including two A330s and 21 A350s. After 115 cancellations by the end of 2020, Airbus’ backlog stood at 7,184 aircraft.

“Working hand-in-hand with our customers allowed us to navigate a difficult year. The Airbus teams, customers and suppliers truly pulled together in the face of adversity to deliver this result. We also thank our partners and governments for their strong support to the sector,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer. “Based on our 2020 deliveries we are cautiously optimistic as we look into 2021, although challenges and uncertainties remain high in the short term.”

Korea Grand Sale 2021, The culture & tourism festival for visitors is being held online

Festival starts on 14th January and runs for 46 days



The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the Minister Park Yang-woo and the Visit Korea Committee - VKC will host a culture & tourism festival for foreigners 'Korea Grand Sale 2021' from January 14 to February 28 - online.

Korea Grand Sale is a festival of shopping, culture, and tourism that provides attractive tourism contents and shopping benefits to attract foreign tourists during the off-season of tourism in winter. This festival will be specially held online in 2021 due to the COVID-19 situation.

Korea Grand Sale 2021 offers a variety of programs: Online Cultural Tours Around Korea wherein people can experience and purchase Korean cultural content in a contactless way; Special Online Shopping Mall Event wherein discounts are offered for items of K-beauty, K-food, and K-fashion, which are popular among foreign tourists; Korean Tourism Products Pre-purchase Promotion which offers discounts on tourism products to encourage foreign tourists to visit Korea when the COVID-19 era comes to an end; and Share Your Korea, a social media campaign with a hashtag designed to promote foreigners to participate on social media as well as on the Internet.

The Korea Grand Sale 2021 will be opened with the online concert of K-pop idol singer ‘OH MY GIRL’ for 46 days from Jan. 14.



This video might tempt you still further to venture to Korea (when travel restrictions allow)





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Airbus signs multi-satellite contract with Intelsat for OneSat flexible satellites

           

                                  Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network. The contract was signed on 31 December 2020.
 
The satellites will be based on Airbus’ OneSat product line, the latest generation of fully flexible, in orbit reconfigurable, Software Defined Satellites (SDS). OneSat is designed to deliver the optimal balance between performance, flexibility and competitive cost per bit, while maintaining Airbus’ unrivalled product reliability.
 
Airbus will deliver an end-to-end fully integrated solution, including design and manufacture of the satellites. The highly capable ground segment software components, when fully integrated into Intelsat’s next-generation software defined network ecosystem and advanced digital suite will allow dynamic operation of end-to-end satellite resources. The two next generation SD satellites will be delivered in 2023.
 

British Airways and Chef Tom Kerridge team up for new economy catering

British Airways is teaming up with British Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kerridge, for a number of speciality gourmet food items, including pies and sandwiches, to pre-purchase for the airline’s Euro Traveller economy passengers.  
 

The dishes designed by Tom Kerridge have been created with a special focus on British provenance. 

These include:

Warm Steak & Ale Pie £4.50
The Ham Hock & Smoked Cheddar Sandwich £4.10
The Spiced Cauliflower Tortilla Wrap (Vegan) £4.20
The Chicken, Bacon and Celery Brioche £4.50
The Brie Ploughman’s Sandwich (Vegetarian) £4.20

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Post Brexit things you need to know about travelling to Europe


After years of negotiations, some bitterness, a touch of resentment, a few verbal attacks, blockades and recriminations, the UK Government and EU negotiators have agreed on a Brexit trade as of 01 January 2021.  Here are some key things you need to know about travelling to Europe now.

You do not need a visa to visit Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,  Switzerland and most European Union country for short touristic trips, but your passport will need to have at least six months validity left on in and have been issued within the last ten years. More details below.

Your European Health Insurance Card will continue to be valid until its expiry date, except for visits to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. If you don't have one already you can apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card - GHIC.

The GHIC entitles you to free or reduced-cost state-provided healthcare where treatment becomes medically necessary during a temporary visit - like a holiday, to the EU.  It may help to get necessary healthcare in some non-EU countries. Check GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages for more details

Whilst the card is free the medical treatment may not be,  the card gives you access to treatment at the same cost as residents of the country you are visiting. Therefore, in countries that have charges for state healthcare, you will need to pay them and you will not be able to claim the money back.  The bottom line regarding the GHIC is that yes it can help greatly in emergency situations and essential medical treatment it is not a valid alternative to travel insurance, so ideally you should get comprehensive travel insurance which includes repatriation for any trip overseas.  

Apply for a GHIC here. 

You can travel to any Schengen area countries (most of the EU as well as  Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,  Switzerland) for tourist purposes without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. Different rules apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries do not count towards the 90-day total.

WestJet takes aim at the government over COVID testing regime by slashing flights and standing down staff

The Canadian airline WestJet announced today that in response to the Federal Government's newly introduced inbound COVID-19 testing regime it would be slashing flights and standing down up to 1000 staff members.

The airline will remove approximately 30 % of its currently planned February and March capacity from the schedule,  down 80% from last year. WestJet will also reduce domestic operations by 160 flights. Because of this reduction in capacity, the equivalent of 1,000 employees from across the group will be laid off through a combination of furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves and reduced hours. WestJet said there will also be a hiring freeze implemented and refused to say how many staff would be laid off perminately.

Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 Missing

Photo GM FIKRI IZZUDIN NOOR

A Boeing 737 belonging to Sriwijaya Air with 62 people onboard is missing and believed to have crashed into the sea shortly after departing the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta.

According to various sources, the aircraft disappeared from radar around four minutes into the flight from Jakarta to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.   Flightradar24.com indicates the jet dropped more than 3,000m (10,000ft) in less than a minute and according to the BBC witnesses 'said they had seen and heard at least one explosion'.

The last contact with the jet was made at 14:40 local time according to the transport ministry who also advised that a rescue mission was already underway. 




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Passenger Demand Recovery Grinds to a Halt in November

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the recovery in passenger demand which had been slowing since the Northern hemisphere’s summer travel season, came to a halt in November 2020.

International passenger demand in November was 88.3% below November 2019.

 
Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 70.3% compared to November 2019, virtually unchanged from the 70.6% year-to-year decline recorded in October. November capacity was 58.6% below previous year levels and load factor fell 23.0 percentage points to 58.0%, which was a record low for the month.
 
International passenger demand in November was 88.3% below November 2019, slightly worse than the 87.6% year-to-year decline recorded in October. Capacity fell 77.4% below previous year levels, and load factor dropped 38.7 percentage points to 41.5%. Europe was the main driver of the weakness as new lockdowns weighed on travel demand.  
 
Recovery in domestic demand, which had been the relative bright spot, also stalled, with November domestic traffic down 41.0% compared to the prior year (it stood at 41.1% below the previous year’s level in October). Capacity was 27.1% down on 2019 levels and the load factor dropped 15.7 percentage points to 66.6%. 

Airbus delivered 566 aircraft during 2020


Despite the global pandemic and the downturn in the aviation industry the European planemaker Airbus still managed to deliver 566 aircraft during 2020, just 34% fewer than in 2019.

It also managed to record a total of 383 new aircraft orders, 268 net orders in all market segments.  There were 64 new orders for the A220, 296 orders were received for A320 family of jets. In the widebody sector, Airbus gained 23 new orders including two A330s and 21 A350s. After 115 cancellations by the end of 2020, Airbus’ backlog stood at 7,184 aircraft.

“Working hand-in-hand with our customers allowed us to navigate a difficult year. The Airbus teams, customers and suppliers truly pulled together in the face of adversity to deliver this result. We also thank our partners and governments for their strong support to the sector,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer. “Based on our 2020 deliveries we are cautiously optimistic as we look into 2021, although challenges and uncertainties remain high in the short term.”

Friday, 8 January 2021

Air Cargo Demand Improves in November, Capacity Remains Constrained

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets in November showing that freight volumes improved compared to October, but remain depressed compared to 2019. Capacity remains constrained from the loss of available belly cargo space as passenger aircraft remain parked.  
 
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs*), was 6.6% below previous-year levels in November (-7.7% for international operations). This was on par with the 6.2 % year-on-year drop in October. The year-on-year decline is skewed as November 2019 had a boost in demand from the waning US-China trade war.
 
Seasonally adjusted demand (SA CTKs) continued to improve, increasing 1.6% month-on-month in November. This was a slight improvement over the monthly growth rate of 1.1% in October. Current month-on-month gains indicate that SA CTKs will return to 2019 levels around March or April 2021.
 

Alaska Airlines to expand Southern Californian flights this spring.


This coming spring Alaska Airlines will introduce two new routes to Southern California from Austin and New York.  The airline will daily flights on Embraer E175s between Los Angeles and Austin from 18th March. From 20th May Alaska will increase it to three daily flights between the two cities.


On April 4th Alaska Airlines will start a route from New York JFK to San Diego on a daily basis with Boeing 737 aircraft. 

New Routes

Start Date

City Pair

Frequency

Aircraft

  March 18, 2021

Los Angeles – Austin

Daily

E175

May 20, 2021

Los Angeles – Austin

3x Daily

E175

April 4, 2021

San Diego – New York JFK  

Daily

737



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Norwegian could only fly 9 aircraft in December.......only 88.5% of those flights went on time.


The troubled European airline Norwegian operated a limited domestic schedule during December on just nine aircraft which carried under 130,000 passengers. 

These were disappointing results especially considering it included the peak Christmas holiday period where travel increases dramatically. The average load factor on those few flights going was down 31% on last years figures to just over half - 52.3%.   Equally disappointing is that even with so few flights operating (down 95.6%) it could only get 88.5% of those departing on time.

Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: "The pandemic continues to have a negative impact on our business as it has had since March 2020. At the beginning of last year, Norwegian was headed for a positive result in 2020, instead 2020 has been a very challenging year and we now find ourselves fighting for survival. Despite low demand in December, Christmas bookings were positive, and we have succeeded in adapting our operations to the current situation. Our goal is to be a financially strong and competitive airline, with a new financial structure, a rightsized fleet and improved customer offering."

Schram also said the airline was thankful for the support of staff and passengers during the last year and promised the airline would "be ready to meet the competition for customers after the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 has been a tough year, but we will continue to fight and come out of this crisis as a stronger Norwegian"




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Wizz Air A320neo damaged in ground collision

Photo trojmiasto.pl
A new Airbus A320neo of Wizz Air has been damaged in a ground collision with a water truck at an airport in Poland.

The aircraft was being made ready to operate a flight from Gdansk to Stockholm on Thursday when the incident happened. No passengers were on the aircraft at the time of the collision and the airports emergency responders were on scene rapidly. 

A full investigation is underway and an airport spokesperson said "There were no passengers on board. Although the effects of the collision can look dangerous, nothing happened to the driver. The carrier substituted another aircraft, which flew to Sweden with a slight delay."




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RAF Chinook makes emergency landing in a field.

An RAF Chinook helicopter made an unscheduled emergency landing in a field in the Wantage area on Tuesday after a mechanical fault developed.

The helicopter, part of the fleet from 28 Squadron at RAF Benson was on normal operations when it developed a fault. The crew decided to land in a field as a precaution, however, due to a large amount of rain in recent days and the aircraft's weight, it helicopter sank a little into the mud. 

The RAF deployed a team of engineers to the site to assess the mechanical issue, which has now been rectified.  Yet it is the soft ground that is making extractions difficult, so a tri-Service team of specialists is now working hard to safely remove the aircraft from the mud.

You might have thought the helicopter could simply be dug out from its soft muddy bed and flown home to its base, but that's not the case. The RAF said:  "The risk of damage to the aircraft from this course of action has been assessed as significant and alternative options are being explored, including potentially lifting it from the mud with a crane. We hope to have the aircraft home by the end of the week."

Officials also said they were extremely thankful to the landowners over their understanding and for the support they have offered the team guarding the aircraft during some very cold nights.

The sight and the inability of being able to dig it out does somewhat tarnish the reputation of being able to go anywhere and do anything that many in the forces ascribe to the Chinook.





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Qatar Airways flights back over Saudi Arabian airspace

Qatar Airways operated a flight QR1365 around 2045 on Thursday 7th January from its home base in Doha to Johannesburg, which is not unusual, except this flight flew through Saudi Arabian air space for the first time in many months.

This new flight routing was only made possible are a thaw in relations between Qatar and its near neighbours. The Saudi foreign minister has confirmed his country and its three Arab allies have agreed to reinstate full ties with Qatar.  The Gulf Leaders met earlier this week for the annual Gulf Cooperation Council conference, during which they sighed a special “solidarity and stability” agreement.  

Saudi Arabia also opened its land border with Qatar earlier this week after closing them around three and a half years ago when the diplomatic disagreement escalated dramatically. Saudi leaders joined forces with Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE to halt all trade and diplomatic relations wich included a total blockade of Qatar and forced the airline to operate flights outside of the airspace belonging to those four other nations.

Egypt signed a reconciliation deal with Qatar on Tuesday 5th along with the other nations in a move which has been welcomed by other key players in the region, including Iran and Jordan.

The normalising of relations will give Qatar Airways a massive boost as it will now be able to shorten then flight duration of many flights. It will also be able to reintroduce other destinations that had to be put on hold during the long blockade. 
 


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1000th charter flight for IAG cargo.


IAG Cargo ended 2020 with the departure of its 1000th charter flight since March last year.

The new charter flights were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and utilise aircraft from the Group that would, in normal times, not be available. This offering continues to be managed by a dedicated, specialist team and as we enter 2021, the bespoke service continues to play an essential role in keeping vital supplies moving around the world.  

The 1000th flight from London Heathrow to Los Angeles Airport was on a B777-200 and included a large shipment of e-commerce goods, reflecting the acceleration in growth of online retail, which continues into 2021.  

$2.5 BILLION Boeing to pay to settle criminal charges over the 737 MAX conspiracy

Photo Sky News
The US planemaker Boeing has agreed to pay $2.5billion that's approximately £1.8 billion in settlement of criminal charges that it concealed information from safety officials over the design and systems of its 737 Max aircraft.


The US Justice Department contested the manufacturer chose "profit over candour" and willfully impeding oversight of the aircraft which were involved in two deadly crashes, killing more than 360 people. They said Boeing had hidden information about changes to the aircraft's automated flight control system, known as MCAS, which led to those crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Chasing the dollar over safety meant pilot training manuals didn't have information on MCAS in them, a system that overrode pilot commands based on faulty data, forcing the planes to nosedive shortly after take-off.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Wyndham destinations acquires Travel + Leisure brand for $100 million....


Wyndham Destinations has confirmed today that it has acquired the Travel + Leisure brand from the Meredith Corporation for $100 million. 

This mega-deal includes all related assets from Meredith Corporation, combining the travel company’s portfolio of resort, membership, and lifestyle travel brands with the world’s most trusted travel lifestyle content curator and its travel clubs. This acquisition will accelerate Wyndham Destinations’ strategic plan to build on its leading position as the world’s largest vacation club and exchange company and expand into new leisure travel and licensing markets.

“We acquired Travel + Leisure, including access to its global audience of 35 million loyal followers across multiple platforms and nearly 60,000 club members, because it matches our passion and purpose to put the world on vacation. Over the past 18 months, we have laid the foundation to expand our footprint beyond our core vacation ownership business, and today we add one of the most trusted and influential brands in travel through the acquisition of Travel + Leisure,” said Michael D. Brown, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Destinations.

£550m F-35 missile contract signed

A £550 million contract for new surface-attack missiles will secure hundreds of UK jobs and provide unrivalled lethality for the UK’s F-35B Lightning jets, Defence Minister Jeremy Quin announced today.

Known as SPEAR3, the next-generation missile can travel long distances at high-subsonic speed and over the next decade will become the Lightning’s primary air-to-ground weapon.

At 1.8 metres long, the missile system has a range of more than 140-kilometres and, powered by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea, day or night, to overpower enemy air defence systems, while the pilot and aircraft remains a safe distance away. 

Its ability to attack moving targets will enhance the UK’s future combat air capability and provide immense lethal capability to the Queen Elizabeth class carrier strike group.

Just 14,500 people flew with Icelandair in December, down 95%

Icelandair's passenger numbers continue to be affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  Current travel restrictions at the Icelandic borders have heavily affected travel demand to and from Iceland over the past months. 

The total number of Icelandair’s passengers in December was around 14,500 decreasing by 95% from December 2019. The number of passengers both to and from Iceland was around 7,000. The number of via passengers in December was insignificant. The load factor on Icelandair’s flights was 40.3% compared to 80.7% in December 2019. The total capacity was 92% less than in December 2019. On-time performance was 86% compared to 80% in December 2019.

The number of passengers on domestic flights was around 10,200 in December, decreasing by 43% from the year before. The total capacity was down by 36%. The load factor was 61% compared with 69.8% in December 2019.

Global Unmanned Helicopters Market - 2020 to 2028

Helicopters have among the highest rates of crashes as compared to other aircraft including aeroplanes, balloons and blimps. Although the fatality rate is relatively low, economic loss in helicopter crash is significantly high. Subsequently, unmanned helicopters have been developed in order to operate in critical operations posing danger to human life. 

Unmanned helicopters are unmanned systems designed to operate without any human operator onboard. These are equipped with artificial intelligence system along with a combination of sensors and autonomous control systems. This helps these helicopters to operate and navigate by themselves safely even in harsh environments having numerous obstacles.

Flexjet introduces complementary health nucleus 100+ premiere diagnostics screening

Flexjet,  one of the leading fractional private jet travel providers has introduced and invited its owners to receive complimentary, data-driven whole-genome sequencing screenings from the Health Nucleus 100+ programme. 

The goal is to help Flexjet Owners learn how they can live longer with a greater quality of life. This comprehensive, data-driven assessment from Flexjet’s brand partner, Health Nucleus, also includes whole-body MRI and advanced blood biomarker analysis, all of which can provide a complete picture of health and health risks early, when they are most treatable.

ASN accident statistics show a need for more work on runway excursions and conflict zones

The international airline industry in 2020 suffered eight fatal accidents resulting in 314 fatalities, both of which are below the industry’s five-year average, according to statistics released today by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Included in the 2020 totals are two events in which airliners were inadvertently shot down, killing 182 passengers and crew.


Eight fatal accidents are the fewest on record for a full year. The safest year in aviation history was 2017 with 10 fatal accidents and 44 lives lost.

The global COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the aviation industry in 2020, causing a significant drop in the number of flights operated. Industry studies suggest that worldwide air traffic in 2020 was about half of that in 2019. Just over 19 million flights were operated last year, which is about the same number as were flown in 1999, when ASN registered 43 fatal accidents resulting in 689 fatalities.

WestJet is bringing back 737 MAX passenger flights from 21st January.

The Canadian airline WestJet announced on Wednesday that it would be reintroducing the troubled twin-jet Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to passenger flights from 21st January - despite the aircraft still not being allowed to operate in Canada.

The airline's plans follow an announcement from Transport Canada (TC) on December 17, 2020, where TC safety experts validated the aircraft design changes and outlined requirements for Canadian carriers.

"As we continue working with Transport Canada on the additional Canadian requirements, our first MAX will be ready to return safely to service as of January 21," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "While we don't have final confirmation on when TC will open Canadian airspace to the 737 MAX aircraft, in the interest of transparency we are sharing our intent to fly once this confirmation is received."