JetBlue plans to add four nonstop routes from Hartford’s Bradley International Airport

JetBlue Airways today announced it is expanding service in Hartford, Conn., with four new nonstop routes between Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Los Angeles (LAX), Las Vegas (LAS), San Francisco (SFO) and Cancún, Mexico (CUN)*. These routes are part of JetBlue’s strategy to add routes with high potential for leisure demand, and will set the airline up to be the largest carrier in Connecticut by 2021.

Last week, Connecticut simplified its travel advisory enabling all travelers visiting or returning to the state to provide a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours prior to or upon arrival to avoid the state’s 14-day quarantine.

JetBlue has built a sizeable presence in Hartford with up to 12 flights per day pre-pandemic and has been instrumental in adding new routes and lowering fares for state residents. When the routes launch in the coming months, JetBlue will have the most nonstop destinations from Bradley International Airport of any carrier.

Service between Bradley International Airport (BDL) and:

Cancún, Mexico (CUN)*

Launching November 19, 2020

Los Angeles (LAX)

Launching December 18, 2020

Las Vegas (LAS)

Launching December 18, 2020

San Francisco (SFO)

Launching December 18, 2020

The announcement for new Connecticut routes comes shortly after the airline revealed a lineup of two dozen all-new nonstop destinations, plus expanded Mint service in Newark and Los Angeles. Each route plays to JetBlue’s strengths in the airline’s focus cities, in Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean or on cross-country – or transcontinental – flying. Every market has been identified as one in which JetBlue anticipates increasing demand for leisure travel.

In anticipation of these recent network additions, JetBlue is readying some aircraft that have been temporarily parked. The airline is dedicated to remaining flexible, continuing to assess the airline’s network and allowing market demand to determine how long a particular route continues to operate.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery:

 

European Commission proposes a single European sky for ATC

European Commission has made this announcement:

Today (September 22), the European Commission is proposing an upgrade of the Single European Sky regulatory framework which comes on the heels of the European Green Deal. The objective is to modernise the management of European airspace and to establish more sustainable and efficient flightpaths. This can reduce up to 10% of air transport emissions.

The proposal comes as the sharp drop in air traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic calls for greater resilience of our air traffic management, by making it  easier to adapt traffic capacities to demand.

Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, declared: “Planes are sometimes zig-zagging between different blocks of airspace, increasing delays and fuel consumed. An efficient air traffic management system means more direct routes and less energy used, leading to less emissions and lower costs for our airlines. Today’s proposal to revise the Single European Sky will not only help cut aviation emissions by up to 10% from a better management of flight paths, but also stimulate digital innovation by opening up the market for data services in the sector. With the new proposed rules we help our aviation sector advancing on the dual green  and digital transitions.

Not adapting air traffic control capacities would result in additional costs, delays and CO2 emissions. In 2019, delays alone cost the EU €6 billion, and led to 11.6 million tonnes (Mt) of excess CO2. Meanwhile, obliging pilots to fly in congested airspace rather than taking a direct flight path entails unnecessary CO2 emissions, and the same is the case when airlines are taking longer routes to avoid charging zones with higher rates.

The European Green Deal, but also new technological developments such as wider use of drones, have put digitalisation and decarbonisation of transport at the very heart of EU aviation policy. However, curbing emissions remains a major challenge for aviation. The Single European Sky therefore paves the way for a European airspace that is used optimally and embraces modern technologies. It ensures collaborative network management that allows airspace users to fly environmentally-optimal routes. And it will allow digital services which do not necessarily require the presence of local infrastructure.

To secure safe and cost-effective air traffic management services, the Commission proposes actions such as:

  • strengthening the European network and its management to avoid congestion and suboptimal flight routes;
  • promoting a European market for data services needed for a better air traffic management;
  • streamlining the economic regulation of air traffic services provided on behalf of Member States to stimulate greater sustainability and resilience;
  • boosting better coordination for the definition, development and deployment of innovative solutions.

Next Steps

The current proposal will be submitted to the Council and the Parliament for deliberations, which  the Commission hopes will be concluded without delay.

Subsequently, after final adoption of the proposal, implementing and delegated acts will need to be prepared with experts to address more detailed and technical matters.

Background

The Single European Sky initiative was launched in 2004 to reduce fragmentation of the airspace over Europe, and to improve the performance of air traffic management in terms of safety, capacity, cost-efficiency and the environment. A proposal for a revision of the Single European Sky (SES 2+) was put forward by the Commission in 2013, but negotiations have been stalled in Council since 2015. In 2019, a Wise Person’s Group, composed of 15 experts in the field, was set up to assess the current situation and future needs for air traffic management in the EU, which resulted in several recommendations. The Commission then amended its 2013 text, introducing new measures, and drafted a separate proposal to amend the EASA Basic Regulation.

Lufthansa to make further fleet and personnel cuts

Lufthansa has made this announcement:

The outlook for international air traffic has significantly worsened in recent weeks. With the summer travel season coming to an end, passenger and booking figures are declining again, after slight signs of recovery were still evident in July and August. In view of these developments, the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG approved the third package within the Group-wide “ReNew” restructuring program today and informed the Supervisory Board accordingly.

In detail, the Executive Board adopted the following resolutions:

  • The capacity outlook for the passenger airlines will be significantly revised; the previous assumption that an average production level of 50 percent of the previous year’s value would be reached in the fourth quarter of the year no longer seems realistic. If the current trend continues, the available seat kilometres will probably only be in a range between 20 and 30 percent, compared to the previous year.
  • The medium term fleet planning will be adjusted and currently foresees  a permanent, Group-wide capacity reduction of 150 aircraft by the middle of this decade (starting point is the Group fleet including wet-leased aircraft).
  • In addition to the fleet changes already communicated, the following decisions have been made: After six Airbus A380s were finally taken out of service in the spring, the remaining eight A380s and ten A340-600s, which were previously intended for flight service, will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning. These aircraft will only be reactivated in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery. In addition, the remaining seven Airbus A340-600s will be permanently decommissioned.
  • Copyright Photo Above: Marcelo F. De Biasi.
  • The fleet decisions mentioned above will result in a further impairment of up to EUR 1.1 billion. The amount is expected to be accounted for in the third quarter of the current year.
  • The previously announced personnel surplus amounting to 22,000 full-time positions will increase as a result of the decisions taken in regards to the third package within the restructuring program. The change in permanent staffing levels within flight operations will be further adjusted in regards to market development. The compensation and reduction of personnel surplus will be discussed with the responsible employee representatives.
  • Irrespective of the negotiations on reconciliations of interests and social plans for redundancies within the Lufthansa Group, the Executive Board’s objective remains agreeing on crisis packages with the collective bargaining partners that limit the number of necessary redundancies.
  • Despite the worsened outlook, the revised financial planning intends to further reduce cash outflows through strict cost management. The outflow of liquidity is to be reduced from currently around EUR 500 million per month to an average of EUR 400 million per month in winter 2020/21. The previously communicated Group target of returning to positive operating cash flows during 2021 is being reinforced.
  • A streamlined management structure with a 20 percent reduction of management positions is to be implemented in the first quarter of 2021. To simplify and clearly define responsibilities, the functional process organization (matrix) will be focused on core functions of Lufthansa Group Airlines. For all other areas, a new management model with clearly assigned responsibilities (decentralized or centralized, depending on the process) will be introduced.
  • The administrative office space will be reviewed worldwide and reduced by 30 percent in Germany.

In the Executive Board’s assessment, the continuing high level of uncertainty in global air traffic makes short-term adjustments to the current market situation unavoidable for the foreseeable future.  The Board considers the expansion of corona tests prior to departure an essential prerequisite for the resumption of global mobility. Consistent testing is possible, increases safety for travelers and is a better alternative than changing inconsistent entry and quarantine regulations.

Lufthansa aircraft photo gallery:

Air New Zealand grounds Boeing 777 fleet until September 2021

Air New Zealand made this announcement:

In May 2020 the airline grounded the majority of its seven Boeing 777-300 aircraft until the end of the 2020 calendar year. At the same time the company also signalled it was unlikely to fly its eight 777-200 aircraft in the foreseeable future and began preparing to send these into long term storage overseas.

Four of Air New Zealand’s 777-300 aircraft will be stored in Victorville in the Californian desert, while the remaining three will stay in Auckland where they are able to be returned to service if required. The airline’s 777-200 aircraft will be sent to long-term storage facilities in both Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California from later this month.

The North American locations were chosen for their arid conditions and existing storage facilities which will ensure aircraft are kept in a condition that will enable them to be returned to service within six to eight weeks if required.

Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui says the recovery of the airline’s international network post-COVID-19 is now looking to be slower than initially thought.

“The recent resurgence of cases in New Zealand is a reminder that this is a highly volatile situation. We are not anticipating a return to any 777 flying until September 2021 at the earliest, which is why we have made the decision to ground the fleet until at least this time next year.”

The 777s are the largest aircraft in Air New Zealand’s fleet and have operated the majority of the airline’s long haul routes over the past 15 years. The airline’s international schedule will be operated by the more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, along with A320s and A320/21neos for trans-Tasman and Pacific Island routes.

Air New Zealand aircraft photo gallery:

Helsinki Airport to use COVID-19 sniffing dogs

Finavia has made this announcement:

COVID-19 dogs will soon start working at Helsinki Airport. The dogs’ sensitive noses are expected to speed up the process of identifying those infected with COVID-19. The city of Vantaa believes that the dogs will be an efficient method of ensuring health and safety at airports.

“The pilot that will be kicked off on Tuesday is unique and a world first. No other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19. We are pleased with the city of Vantaa’s initiative. This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19,” says Airport Director Ulla Lettijeff from Finavia.

Detecting COVID-19 is easy for dogs and results have been encouraging. According to preliminary tests conducted by a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki, dogs are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty. They can also identify the virus days before the symptoms have even started. This is something that laboratory tests fail to do.

Dogs are also able to identify covid-19 from a much smaller sample than the PCR tests used by health care professionals. The difference is massive, as a dog only needs 10-100 molecules to identify the virus, whereas test equipment requires 18,000,000.

The Helsinki Airport COVID-19 dogs are trained by Wise Nose. Nose Academy, the research group’s start-up company, is running the operation at the airport. In the future, customs dogs might replace the current operatives. Official COVID-19 testing with trained dogs can only begin once a corresponding legislative amendment has been passed.

“We are working with Finnish Customs to prepare for a potential scenario where it takes charge of the operation,” says Susanna Paavilainen, CEO of Suomen hajuerottelu – WiseNose Ry, and research coordinator of University of Helsinki’s DogRisk research group.

Taking a COVID-19 dog test at Helsinki Airport will not include direct contact with the dog. Instead, the dog will perform its work in a separate booth. Those taking the test will swipe their skin with a test wipe and drop it into a cup, which is then given to the dog. This also protects the dog’s handler from infections. All the tests are processed anonymously.

If the test result is positive, the passenger will be directed to a health information point maintained by the city of Vantaa, which is located at the airport.

Koronakoira Kössi on rodultaan vinttikoiramix ja kykenee tunnistamaan koronaviruksen nopeasti näytteistä.

COVID-19 dog Kössi learned to detect COVID-19 in seven minutes from samples.

In the future, four dogs will work at the airport during a shift. The duration of each shift depends on the dogs. A total of 10 are being trained for the job.

“Dogs need to rest from time to time. While two dogs are working, the other two are on a break. The service is mainly intended for passengers arriving from outside the country,” Paavilainen says.

Almost all of the dogs have done scent detection before. How long it takes to learn to identify COVID-19 depends on the dog’s background. One of the dogs that will soon work at Helsinki Airport is an 8-year-old greyhound mix called Kössi, who learned to identify the scent in just seven minutes.

“Not all dogs can do it as they operate in different ways. Kössi has a lot of experience from identifying biological samples.”

Avianca Holdings S.A. files motion for approval for approximately $2.0 Billion in Debtor-in-Possession financing

Avianca Holdings S.A. has  announced that it has secured commitments for debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing totaling just over US$2.0 billion and has filed a motion to approve the financing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The DIP financing – inclusive of rollups of existing debt and purchase loan consideration – is expected to be approximately US$2.0 billion, consisting of a US$1.27 billion Tranche A senior loan and a US$722 million Tranche B subordinated loan. The DIP financing includes approximately US$1.217 billion of new funds consisting of US$ 881 million in Tranche A and US$ 336 million in Tranche B.

On August 28, 2020, as part of syndicating the Tranche A DIP loan, the Company entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement (“RSA”) with an ad hoc group of holders representing a majority of Avianca’s 2023 senior secured notes who will provide US$ 290 million in new funds (inclusive of US$ 63 million of backstop) and roll up US$ 220 million of their existing notes into Tranche A.

US$240 million of the Tranche A financing has been structured as a backstop commitment, to allow for the eventual participation of one or more governments.

The US$722 million Tranche B DIP loan includes US$336 million of new money financing, as well as a rollup of approximately US$386 million of secured convertible debt issued in December 2019 and January 2020 (the “Existing Convertible Debt”). The new money financing was provided by certain of the Existing Convertible Debt lenders, including Kingsland Holdings S.A, as well as third-party investors; certain other Existing Convertible Debt lenders, including United Airlines, participated solely in the Tranche B loan rollup by refinancing their Existing Convertible Debt.

The DIP loans are secured by Avianca’s key assets (including the Company’s ownership stakes in its LifeMiles and cargo subsidiaries, as well as by its key brands and cash accounts). Both tranches are secured by a lien on all available collateral, with Tranche B subordinated in right of repayment to Tranche A. The collateral pool for these DIP financings was recently substantially increased via a series of agreements previously announced by Avianca.

The financing is subject to U.S. Court approval, with a hearing scheduled for October 5, 2020, and other customary conditions.

Avianca aircraft photo gallery:

AeroMexico reaches agreement with lessors

Grupo Aeroméxico, S.A.B. de C.V. has announced that the Company received approval by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York to modify the majority of its existing aircraft equipment leases into power by the hour agreements (“PBH Agreements”) that will substantially reduce Aeromexico’s monthly aircraft and engine costs for the duration of the PBH period. PBH Agreements allow for Aeromexico to reset monthly lease costs based on utilization of the equipment at today’s market rates, with significant monthly savings, when compared to Aeromexico’s original contracted rates.  Such PBH Agreements were entered into between Aeromexico and 27 different leasing companies covering 82 aircraft and 14 spare engines.

Andrés Conesa, Aeromexico´s CEO said: “This is a significant milestone in Aeromexico’s restructuring process, which paves the way to negotiate long-term agreements with our leasing company  and financing partners on the aircraft equipment that makes sense to retain in our strategic fleet”.

Aeromexico will continue pursuing, in an orderly manner, the voluntary process of financial restructuring under the Chapter 11 process, while continuing to operate and offer services to its customers and contracting from its suppliers the goods and services required for operations. The Company will continue to use the advantages of the Chapter 11 proceeding to strengthen its financial position and liquidity, protect and preserve operations and assets, and implement the necessary adjustments to manage the impact of COVID-19.

AeroMexico aircraft photo gallery:

Cathay Pacific Airways launches 12-week cargo service to Pittsburgh

Cathay Pacific Airways today launched a temporary expansion of its operations in the Americas, with a 12-week cargo service linking Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) with Southeast Asia, to supplement the airline’s existing network of 19 cargo stations throughout the Americas, including East Coast cargo services to Boston, Newark, and Washington, Dulles, and a dedicated freighter port at New York (JFK). The first arrival touched down in Pittsburgh today at 10:30am local time, carrying consumer goods from Asia.

The temporary service  will originate in Ho Chi Minh (SGN), stopping at Cathay Pacific’s Cargo Terminal at Hong Kong International Airport, landing in PIT every Monday and Thursday until November 26, 2020.

Notably, flight CX8800 will be operated by a reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft instead of Cathay Pacific’s go-to ultra-long-haul freighter, the Boeing 747-8, of which there are currently 14 in its fleet.

In an effort to introduce additional cargo capacity where possible and help support global supply chains, Cathay Pacific reconfigured two Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft into ‘preighters,’ with seats removed in the Economy and Premium Economy cabins to enable the airline to carry 12 tons of additional cargo under extra safety and security measures.

Cargo is currently the stronger performer for Cathay Pacific, operating over 436 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights and carrying over 102,122 tons of cargo and mail in August 2020.

Alaska Airlines advances its ‘sun and snow’ strategy with additional wintertime routes

Alaska Airlines has made this announcement:

Alaska Airlines announced today five new routes that will better connect Los Angeles International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport to key West Coast markets and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. From fun in the (warm) sun to bright (cool) days in the mountains, the airline is ready to take travelers to locations near and far.

Alaska will begin daily nonstop service on December 17 between Los Angeles and Cancun, Mexico, and Reno, Nevada. Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular getaways, and Reno is the gateway to Lake Tahoe and its endless possibilities. These additions build on Alaska’s leading intra-West and transborder route network from Los Angeles. On the same date, the airline is adding daily nonstop service between Palm Springs and Boise, Reno and San Jose, California.

Start Date City Pair Frequency Aircraft
Dec. 17 – April 12, 2021  Los Angeles – Cancun Daily 737
Dec. 17, 2020 Los Angeles – Reno Daily E175
Dec. 17 – April 12, 2021 Palm Springs – Boise Daily E175
Dec. 17 – April 12, 2021 Palm Springs – Reno Sun, Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat E175
Dec. 17, 2020 Palm Springs – San Jose, Calif. 2x Daily E175

The daily flights between Los Angeles-Reno and Palm Springs-San Jose will be year-round. The flights between Los Angeles-Cancun, Palm Springs-Boise and Palm Springs-Reno are part of the airline’s seasonal schedule from Dec. 17 through April 12, 2021.

Alaska is also increasing the frequency of service on certain routes from Los Angeles starting December 17:

  • Guadalajara increases to two daily flights
  • Salt Lake City increases to two daily flights
  • Boise increases from one to three daily flights

The newly added service at Los Angeles builds on recent additional routes to cites across the West for a total of 14 new routes this year alone. In July, Alaska announced seven new routes from Los Angeles to further connect its guests between Southern California and key markets around the country, including the first nonstop service from the West Coast to Fort Myers/Naples, Florida, which begins Nov. 20.

Just in time for fall travel, Alaska is also extending physical distancing on board by limiting the number of guests and blocking middle seats through Nov. 30, 2020. Alaska is also extending its flexible travel policy for all new ticket purchases, including Saver fares, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Airbus reveals new zero-emission concept aircraft

Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter service by 2035. These concepts each represent a different approach to achieving zero-emission flight, exploring various technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations in order to support the Company’s ambition of leading the way in the decarbonisation of the entire aviation industry.

All of these concepts rely on hydrogen as a primary power source – an option which Airbus believes holds exceptional promise as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace and many other industries to meet their climate-neutral targets.

“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen. The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO. “I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”

The three concepts – all codenamed “ZEROe” – for a first climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft include:

 

A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.

 

 

 

A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.

 

A “blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout.

“These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035,” said Guillaume Faury. “The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem. Together with the support from government and industrial partners we can rise up to this challenge to scale-up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.”

In order to tackle these challenges, airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations. Support from governments will be key to meet these ambitious objectives with increased funding for research & technology, digitalisation, and mechanisms that encourage the use of sustainable fuels and the renewal of aircraft fleets to allow airlines to retire older, less environmentally friendly aircraft earlier.

Note to editors: To evaluate and validate these new concept aircraft and assess whether they could be matured into viable future products, Airbus will be focusing its efforts on a number of technological pathways. Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering and Glenn Llewellyn, VP Head of Zero Emission Aircraft, will reveal Airbus’ technology roadmap for 2020-2025 at 14:00 CEST, 21 September 2020 during a virtual event on Airbus social media channels.