Southwest Airlines announces initial schedules for Chicago O’Hare and Colorado Springs

Southwest Airlines today published its initial flight schedules for both Chicago O’Hare International and Colorado Springs Municipal airports.

Chicago (O’Hare) service begins February 14, 2021
More than 35 years after landing at Chicago Midway International Airport, Southwest will expand its footprint in the Chicagoland area, adding complementing service from Chicago O’Hare International Airport starting Feb. 14, 2021. The carrier’s initial service will offer 20 departures daily from O’Hare:

  • $39 one-way nonstop between Chicago (O’Hare) and Nashville (four times daily);
  • $79 one-way nonstop between Chicago (O’Hare) and Baltimore/Washington (four times daily);
  • $89 one-way nonstop between Chicago (O’Hare) and Denver (six times daily);
  • $99 one-way nonstop between Chicago (O’Hare) and Dallas (Love Field) (four times daily); and
  • $109 one-way nonstop between Chicago (O’Hare) and Phoenix (twice daily).

The number of seats, days of week, and markets for these fares are limited. 

During its more than three-decades of service to Chicago, Southwest has grown to become Chicago Midway’s largest airline while also employing more than 4,800 People in the city.

Colorado Springs service begins March 11, 2021
Southwest will also launch service from its fourth destination in Colorado when it takes off from Colorado Springs Municipal Airport on March 11, 2021. The new service links the Pikes Peak region nonstop with up to 13 flights a day to destinations across Southwest’s growing network.

  • $29 one-way nonstop between Colorado Springs and Denver (four times daily);
  • $59 one-way nonstop between Colorado Springs and Las Vegas (twice daily);
  • $59 one-way nonstop between Colorado Springs and Phoenix (twice daily);
  • $69 one-way nonstop between Colorado Springs and Dallas (Love Field) (three times daily); and
  • $89 one-way nonstop between Colorado Springs and Chicago (Midway) (twice daily).

Silver Airways to launch service From Jacksonville to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood

Silver Airways has announced new safe, reliable and customer-focused service with nonstop twice-weekly flights from Jacksonville, Florida to each of Tampa and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.

Route Map:

 

easyJet sells and leases back nine Airbus A320 family aircraft to raise capital

easyJet issued this statement:

Following high levels of demand from the operating lease marketplace, easyJet  has engaged with a number of operating lessors to raise further liquidity, which will be used to further strengthen easyJet’s financial position. easyJet confirms the sale and leaseback of nine aircraft with two counter parties. The transactions generate total cash proceeds of $398.6 million (€337.3 million).

The first transaction was executed with Wilmington Trust SP Services (Dublin) Limited for the sale and leaseback of five Airbus A320 family aircraft. The aircraft will generate cash sales proceeds of $191.1m (approximately £146.5m), and are leased for an average term of 117 months, creating lease obligations of £123.7m. The assets had a net book value at the time of transaction of approximately £116.2m.

The second transaction was executed with Sky High 112 Leasing Company Limited for the sale and leaseback of four Airbus A320 family aircraft. The aircraft will generate cash sales proceeds of $207.5m (approximately £159.1m), and are leased back for an average of 116 months, creating lease obligations of £108.0m. The assets had a net book value at the time of transaction of approximately £140.2m.

Over the terms of the nine leases the average incremental net annual headline cost reflected in easyJet’s income statement will be c. £15 million, which is driven by increases in interest charges and depreciation.

Once these two transactions are completed, easyJet will retain 152 fully owned and unencumbered aircraft, representing approximately 44% of the fleet.

easyJet will continue to review its liquidity position on a regular basis and will continue to assess further funding options, including those that exist in the robust sale and leaseback market.

easyJet aircraft photo gallery:

 

World’s first Airbus A321P2F enters revenue service with QANTAS

ST Engineering, Airbus and their joint venture, Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) achieved a key milestone in their joint A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion program in September this year with the re-delivery of the ‘head of version’ to launch customer, Vallair. The Airbus A321 converted freighter, operated by QANTAS Airways for Australia Post, entered into service on October 27, 2020.

Both milestones marked the completion and ‘birth’ of the world’s first A321 converted freighter. EFW had received the original Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the A321P2F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in February this year, and the Validation STC from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in July. Operator specific enhancements were subsequently incorporated into the freighter and certified prior to its re-delivery.

 

The A321P2F is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main (up to 14 full container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions). With a generous payload-range capability that can above 28 metric tons (more than 61,800 lbs) over 2,300 nautical miles, the A321P2F is the ideal narrowbody freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations. The conversion features a large main cargo door which is hydraulically actuated and electrically locked, a Class E cargo compartment with full rigid 9g barrier for optimal protection between crew and cargo, and a redefined flight deck that includes supernumerary seats and a new lavatory.

The collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW is the only OEM solution for A321P2F in the market. EFW, which is leading the overall programme as well as marketing & sales efforts, has been seeing a keen interest in the solution, which is expected to further grow with the first A321P2F unit entering the market. To meet rising demand for dedicated freighter aircraft, ST Engineering and EFW are planning to set up additional modification sites in China, Germany and the U.S. by 2023 to ramp up conversion capacity to about 23 slots per year.

QANTAS to launch a new route between Sydney and Launceston

QANTAS Airways has announced it will launch a new route between Sydney and Launceston for the summer holidays following the easing of border restrictions between New South Wales and Tasmania.

Beginning December 4, 2020, QANTAS will operate three return services per week with its Boeing 717 aircraft, increasing to four return services from the following week onwards until February 1, 2021.

This will give travellers almost 900 additional seats on the route each week. The airline will look to add more flights beyond eight week period if there is demand. This is the first time the flying kangaroo has flown Launceston-Sydney since 2004.

With borders opening up, QANTAS will also restart flights between Hobart to Sydney, with 11 return services per week from November 6, 2020.

This announcement follows two other new routes the QANTAS Group has launched to Tasmania in response to demand – Brisbane-Hobart with QANTAS and Gold Coast-Hobart with Jetstar.

As a result of these additional flights, the QANTAS Group will offer more than 125,000 seats between Tasmania and the mainland in December, representing more than 10 percent of total published QANTAS Group domestic capacity for the month.

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

 

ACI Europe: Almost 200 European airports are facing insolvency in coming months

ACI EUROPE has warned of such fundamental risks to business continuity that an estimated 193 airports face insolvency in the coming months if passenger traffic does not start to recover by the year end. These airports between them facilitate 277 thousand jobs and €12.4 billion of European GDP.

The threat of airport closure means Europe faces the prospect of the collapse of a significant part of its air transport system – unless Governments step up to provide the required support. So far, few have done so.

Data published shows:

  • A year-on-year decrease of 73% in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports in September
  • The loss of an additional 172.5 million passengers in September bringing the total volume of lost passengers since January 2020 to 1.29 billion
  • As of mid-October, passenger traffic stood at 75% down from the same period last year, reaching an 80% decrease for airports in the EU/EEA/Switzerland/UK footprint – a clear downward trajectory
The permanence of severe restrictions to cross border travel into the Winter season has considerably worsened the traffic outlook, as reflected in ACI EUROPE’s latest forecast1. Many airlines have slashed their capacity plans for the reminder of the year and into 20212.
The airports facing insolvency are mainly regional airports which serve – and are integral to – local communities. The potential ripple-effect upon local employment and economies is clear. Financial support from Government will be crucial in averting rising geographic inequality and damaged social cohesion. At the same time, larger European airports and hubs are not immune from the critical financial risk. They have cut costs to the bone and have resorted to the financial markets to shore up balance sheets and build emergency war chests. This sudden increase in debt – an additional €16 billion for the top 20 European airports – is equivalent to nearly 60% of their revenues in a normal year. This, along with the fact that these airports had to make thousands of highly skilled workers redundant, clearly jeopardises their future.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said “In the midst of a second wave, ensuring safe air travel continues to be our primary concern. It’s crucial that we reduce the risks of importation and dissemination as much as possible. But surely we can do a much better job of reducing those risks by testing air passengers rather than with quarantines that cannot be enforced.”
“The figures published today paint a dramatically bleak picture. 8 months into the crisis, all of Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs. Governments’ current imposition of quarantines rather than testing is bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink with every day that passes.”

Kalitta Air to lease three 777-300ER SF aircraft

GECAS Cargo announced an agreement with Kalitta Air for three Boeing 777-300ERSF aircraft. With this agreement, Kalitta will be the first operator of the new passenger-to-freighter type, adding to their already sizable all-cargo fleet when these aircraft deliver in 2023.

Dubbed “The Big Twin,” the 777-300ERSF will be the largest ever twin-engine freighter. As announced a year ago, the conversion program is jointly funded by GECAS and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with GECAS delivering the prototype aircraft to undergo conversion in June of this year. Setting a new benchmark for cargo operators, The Big Twin will be powered by GE90 engines, the world’s most powerful in-service engine.

With twenty years of providing scheduled and on-demand charter service in the United States and around the world, Kalitta Air currently operates a fleet of more than three dozen cargo planes, including 747-400F, 767-300SF and 777F.

“Providing air express delivery all around the world for virtually any type of freight, the addition of these three 777-300ERSF freighters will help us meet the needs of our customers,” shared Conrad Kalitta, owner of Kalitta Air.

“We are delighted to continue our 15-year relationship with Kalitta Air and proud they’ve become the launch customer with the 777-300ERSF freighter for its future air cargo operations,” said Rich Greener, SVP and Manager Cargo of GECAS, adding “The 777-300ERSF shares extensive commonality with the production 777-200LRF. That’s a benefit to any operator looking to bring a new type into their fleet.”

The Big Twin will also offer 25% more capacity and it is anticipated that The Big Twin will achieve up to 21% lower fuel-burn per tonne than the current 4-engine freighters with the GE90. This was designed specifically for the longer-range Boeing 777 series, providing up to 115,000 lbs. of thrust. In addition to producing the sole-source engine for the 777 variants, GE Aviation will support MRO engine and power-by-the-hour services to ensure continued performance throughout the lifecycle of the converted freighters.

 

Harvard study: Flying presents lower risk of COVID-19 than grocery shopping, dining out

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

A new gate-to-gate study by scientists from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the most comprehensive research to date to conclude that the layered approach U.S. airlines, including Delta, have taken to protect customers and employees from COVID-19 means the risk of exposure during air travel is very low.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not confirmed a single case of COVID-19 transmission on a U.S. airplane.

Delta boarding“The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard aircraft [is] below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out,” the Harvard researchers concluded. “Implementing these layered risk mitigation strategies…requires passenger and airline compliance [but] will help to ensure that air travel is as safe or substantially safer than the routine activities people undertake during these times.”

The report concludes that the universal use of face masks, diligent cleaning protocols and advanced ventilation and filtration systems offer significant protection against COVID-19, lowering the risk of transmission on an aircraft to minimal levels.

Wearing of face masks by passengers and crew is essential

The study determined that the use of face masks was “the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 during air travel.”

Delta was one of the first airlines to require customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering across Delta touchpoints at airports and onboard the aircraft. It’s an extension of our safety commitment and enforcement is a responsibility we take seriously. We ask customers to acknowledge as part of the check-in process their willingness to wear a mask throughout travel. And we insist that customers who have an underlying condition that prevents them from wearing a mask complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process upon arrival at the airport.

Flight attendant cleaningDeep cleaning of high-touch aircraft surfaces disinfects, removes contamination

The report’s findings also support Delta’s extensive cleaning practices, including our industry-leading commitment to electrostatic spraying of high-touch surfaces using high-grade disinfectant between flights on a daily basis. The cabin interior on every Delta flight is thoroughly sanitized prior to boarding using electrostatic sprayers – including lavatories.

Delta flight attendants wipe down high-touch surfaces in lavatories frequently during each flight,   regularly making sure lavatories are clean, tidy, stocked with supplies and ready for customers. Using kits that include disinfectant spray, wipes and gloves, flight attendants ensure the thorough sanitization completed prior to boarding stays fresh.

Ventilation systems on passenger aircraft are highly effective at refreshing, filtering air

Harvard’s research team noted the “highly effective ventilation systems” on aircraft, which mitigate disease exposure by rapid and continuous filtering and exchange of cabin air. Keeping the air clean and safe during flight is one of the most foundational layers of protection Delta aims to provide to our customers and employees. Just as we have focused on ensuring clean air onboard by replacing our industrial-grade HEPA filters twice as often as recommended, we are also committed to ensuring clean air on the ground.

Delta GSE employee with air filterDelta is replacing the current air filtering systems that pump outside air into our jetbridges and parked aircraft with LEED Platinum MERV14 filters that result in a more than 40% reduction in air particles and cleaner air in those spaces during boarding and deplaning.

Layered risk-mitigation will ensure air travel remains as safe or safer than other routine activities

The study concluded it takes a “combination of layered infection control measures” to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. And Delta has provided layers of protection from check-in to baggage claim to deliver a new standard of cleanliness, more space – including blocking the selection of middle seats and limiting the number of customers per flight into January 2021 – and safer service and care for customers and employees alike.

Hawaiian Holdings loses $97.1 million in the third quarter, delays 787 Dreamliner deliveries

Hawaiian Holdings, Inc., parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., today reported its financial results for the third quarter of 2020.

Third Quarter 2020 – Key Financial Metrics

GAAP

YoY Change

Adjusted

YoY Change

Net Income

($97.1M)

($177.2M)

($172.7M)

($254.1M)

Diluted EPS

($2.11)

($3.81)

($3.76)

($5.48)

Pre-tax Margin

(189.0)%

(203.4) pts.

(321.4)%

(336) pts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and State of Hawai’i quarantines continued to have a dramatic effect on our business in the third quarter,” said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO.  “Despite these monumental challenges, my colleagues throughout the business have done an incredible job adapting to the evolving environment.  We have taken action to reduce expenses, preserve cash, bolster our liquidity and care for our guests, positioning us to begin the recovery process in earnest with the introduction of the State of Hawai’i’s pre-travel testing regime in the fourth quarter.”

Liquidity and Capital Resources

As of September 30, 2020, the Company had:

  • Unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $979 million
  • Outstanding debt and finance lease obligations of $1,299 million
  • Air traffic liability of $515 million

Third Quarter 2020

The State of Hawai’i was under mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all incoming travelers throughout the third quarter of 2020, and for neighbor island travel starting from August 11, 2020 and as a consequence, the Company operated an extremely limited schedule during the third quarter.

During the quarter, the Company implemented both permanent and extended voluntary leave programs with each of its workgroups, and prepared for involuntary reductions effective October 1, 2020.  In total, the Company reduced its workforce by approximately 2,400 employees, or more than 32 percent of all employees, of which almost 2,100 were through voluntary means.

To increase liquidity, the Company closed on approximately $421 million of new financing during the quarter, including:

  • Raising approximately $114 million through the sale and leaseback of two Airbus A321neo aircraft
  • Raising approximately $262 million through the issuance of Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates backed by two Airbus A330 aircraft and six Airbus A321neo aircraft
  • Drawing approximately $45 million of the $420 million available through the Economic Relief Program (“ERP”) loans offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”)

As of September 30, 2020, the Company has received $240.6 million in grants and $60.3 million in loans pursuant to the CARES Act Payroll Support Program (“PSP”), of which $38 million was received in the third quarter.

In October 2020, the Company executed an amendment with the U.S.Treasuryincreasing the total amount of the ERP loan from $420 million to $622 million, of which $577 million is undrawn; the Company has until March 2021 to determine how much of the remaining ERP funds to borrow.

Guest Experience

During the third quarter, the Company announced the following guest experience improvements:

  • Eliminated change fees on all domestic and international flights in order to provide guests with travel flexibility across its network
  • Launched a program to offer guests pre-travel COVID-19 testing through mail-in test kits and proprietary drive-through testing labs in select U.S. mainland gateways

In addition, the Company continued its enhanced cleaning procedures and revised guest-facing procedures as part of its health and safety program, which is aligned with current recommendations from leading public health authorities.

The Company currently has limited capacity to 70 percent on its flights through December 15, 2020.

Fourth Quarter 2020

The State of Hawai’i launched a pre-travel testing program for travelers entering the State on or after October 15, 2020.  Travelers who choose to participate in the program can bypass the State’s mandatory 14-day quarantine with proof of a negative COVID-19 test from one of the State’s approved testing partners.

The Company expects its fourth quarter 2020 capacity to be approximately 70 percent below the capacity flown during the same period last year.  As a significant portion of the Company’s costs are fixed, operating expenses are not expected to decline in proportion to the capacity decline.

In October 2020, the Company reached an agreement with Boeing to push back the timing of 787-9 deliveries under its purchase agreement for 10 aircraft.  The Company now expects to take delivery of 787-9 aircraft from 2022 to 2026 with its first aircraft to be delivered in September 2022.

 

Somon Air expands its fleet, resumes flights to Istanbul

Somon Air expands its fleet with the addition of a new Mi-8AMT helicopter, manufactured in Russia. The helicopter was produced at the Ulan-Ude Aviation manufactory of the Russian Helicopters holding. Mi-8AMT is distinguished by its reliability and versatility.

The helicopter is proven in a variety of weather conditions, such as high humidity, low temperatures, strong winds and fog. The Mi-8AMT helicopter is designed for passenger transportation, transportation of bulky cargo, and for search and rescue operations. The helicopter can carry up to 24 people, the pay load is up to 4 tons, the range is up to 800 km.


On the eve of the 96th anniversary of Tajikistan’s civil aviation, the first test flight in Tajikistan was performed by pilots and engineers of the manufactory from Dushanbe to GBAO and back. The technical capabilities of the helicopter were demonstrated in difficult mountain conditions, takeoffs and landings.

The Mi-8AMT is not the first helicopter in the Somon Air fleet. In October 2019, the airline received an Airbus H125 helicopter. Both helicopters were purchased with the aim of developing tourism in the country, popularizing nature, historical and cultural heritage of the Tajik people within the framework of the initiatives of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan. At the initiative of the Founder of Peace and National Unity — the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, the years of 2019 to 2021 have been announced for the development of villages, tourism and folk crafts. The Mi-8AMT helicopter, which is an excellent addition to the Somon Air fleet, will also contribute to the development of tourism and business aviation within the republic.

In other news, Somon Air resumed regular flights on the Dushanbe-Istanbul-Dushanbe route on October 8, 2020. Flights will be operated every Thursday. The departure time from Dushanbe is 06:00 local time, and from Istanbul at 10:45 local time.

Somon Air aircraft photo gallery: