QANTAS and Jetstar prepare to resume international flights in October

QANTAS Airways has made this announcement:

  • Flights to most international destinations to now resume late October 2021
  • Trans-Tasman flying to ramp up from July 2021
  • New flexibility for international bookings, with unlimited flight date changes

QANTAS Airways and Jetstar Airways are now planning to restart regular international passenger flights to most destinations from October 31, 2021 – a four month extension from the previous estimate of July, which had been in place since mid-2020.

The date change aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.

Capacity will be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying. International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024.

The Group remains in close consultation with the Federal Government around the reopening of international borders and will keep customers updated if further adjustments are required.

QANTAS is assessing the use of digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel. The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialled on the airline’s international repatriation flights.

QANTAS network

QANTAS is planning to resume flights to 22 of its 25 pre-COVID international destinations including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from October 31, 2021.

QANTAS won’t initially resume direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but remains committed to flying to these three destinations. In the meantime, customers will be able to fly to these destinations under codeshare or oneworld arrangements with partner airlines.

Jetstar network

Jetstar plans to resume flights to all of its 13 international destinations. Frequencies will be adjusted in line with the projected recovery of international flying.

Trans-Tasman

QANTAS and Jetstar are planning for a significant increase in flights to and from New Zealand from July 1, 2021.

The Group has the ability to respond to travel bubbles that may open.

  • Underlying Loss Before Tax: $1.03 billion
  • Statutory Loss Before Tax: $1.47 billion
  • $6.9 billion revenue impact from COVID-19 crisis in HY21 (down 75%)
  • Underlying operating cash flow: $1.05 billion
  • Total liquidity of $4.2 billion, providing capital for restructuring and buffer against uncertainty
  • Domestic airlines generating positive underlying cash flow
  • Losses in Qantas International offset by record Qantas Freight performance
  • Continued strong cash generation by Qantas Loyalty
  • Restructuring program on track to deliver $0.6 billion in cost benefits in FY21
  • International flying now aiming to restart end-October 2021

The Qantas Group has continued to navigate the impacts of the COVID crisis as it positions the company for recovery and balance sheet repair.

In the six month period – which covered Victoria’s extended lockdown and nationwide border closures – the Group managed to limit a $6.9 billion drop in revenue into a $1.03 billion Underlying Loss Before Tax.

The Group generated Underlying EBITDA of $86 million, reflecting the fundamental resilience of the portfolio.

The Group’s Statutory Loss Before Tax was $1.47 billion. This included further redundancy and restructuring costs of $284 million (in addition to the $642 million provided for in FY20) and a further $71 million write down of the A380 fleet in-line with its Australian dollar market value.

CEO COMMENTS                                                                                          

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “These figures are stark but not surprising.

“During the half we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began. Virtually all of our international flying and 70 per cent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue.

“Despite the huge challenges, these results show the Group’s underlying strength.

“When we had the opportunity to fly domestically, we saw significant pent up travel demand and generated positive cash flow.

“Qantas Loyalty still had significant income because the program has evolved to the stage where the vast majority of points are earned from activity on the ground. Qantas Freight had a record result and has been a natural hedge to the lack of international passenger flying, which has created a shortage of cargo space globally.

“These factors couldn’t overcome the massive impact of this crisis, but they have softened it.

We’ve maintained a high level of liquidity because we were quick to cut costs and because we’ve been able to raise debt and equity. This gives us the breathing room to deal with the levels of uncertainty we’re still facing, and funding for the restructuring that will ultimately speed up our recovery.

“Our priorities remain the safety of everyone who travels with us, getting as many of our people back to work as possible and generating positive cash flow to repair our balance sheet.

“The COVID vaccine rollout in Australia will take time, but the fact it’s underway gives us more certainty. More certainty that domestic borders can stay open because frontline and quarantine workers will be vaccinated in a matter of weeks. And more certainty that international borders can open when the nationwide rollout is effectively complete by the end of October.”

GROUP DOMESTIC

The Group’s domestic flying operations across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar generated positive underlying cashflow despite a circa 70 per cent decline in both revenue and capacity.

Underlying EBITDA was positive $71 million, with depreciation and amortization taking this to an EBIT loss of $407 million.

Improved planning processes have allowed rapid network and schedule changes that minimize exposure to sudden border closures and maximize revenue opportunities within a patchwork of restrictions. Twenty-three new domestic routes were announced in response to changing demand patterns as people looked for opportunities to travel within Australia. More new routes are planned in the second half.

Continued demand from the resources sector provided strong cashflow, with four additional Airbus A320s moved to Western Australia to support growth.

Broader restructuring will deliver significant and ongoing unit cost improvements across Qantas and Jetstar, with further cost reductions to be realized in the second half.

The Group’s domestic market share rose to around 70 per cent, helped by the addition of more than 20 large corporate accounts as well as growth in small-to-medium enterprises choosing Qantas in particular.

Both Qantas and Jetstar saw extremely strong leisure demand during periods when travel restrictions eased. Jetstar saw a trebling of bookings in November, with more than 250,000 bookings during sale activity.

GROUP INTERNATIONAL AND FREIGHT

Continued border closures meant international operations remained largely grounded throughout the first half, resulting in an Underlying EBITDA loss of $86 million for Group International, with depreciation and amortization taking this loss to $549 million. This was mostly driven by the cost of carrying the assets in these businesses but partly offset by a record performance by Qantas Freight.

The lack of passenger flights has created a temporary global shortage of space for cargo at a time when e-commerce is also surging – which Qantas Freight has been able to capitalize on. While this will ease when more international passenger services resume, much of the increased demand for e-commerce is expected to continue.

Qantas Freight received its first of three Airbus A321 freighters in October, taking its total operational fleet to 19. In addition, some of the Group’s passenger A330s and 787s are being used for freight-only operations.

Repatriation services operated on behalf of the Australian Government, plus flights to New Zealand as part of a one-way bubble arrangement, meant the Qantas Group operated 8 per cent of its pre-COVID flying – providing important operational readiness for the eventual opening of borders.

Jetstar airlines in Asia had their own COVID-related impacts, which couldn’t be softened to the same extent as Australian-based parts of the Group. In response, cash outflows and fleet sizes are being reduced, including six A320 aircraft from Jetstar Japan that will be relocated to the Australian domestic market given opportunities locally for cash positive flying.

QANTAS LOYALTY

Qantas Loyalty generated a strong cash contribution of $454 million despite limitations on travel redemptions and a 10 per cent decline in total credit card spending on Qantas Points Earning Credit Cards – two of its main revenue drivers.

Underlying Earnings Before Interest and Tax were $125 million (down 29 per cent versus pre-COVID).

Loyalty’s performance showed the benefits of diversifying the program in recent years, as well as high levels of engagement from members continuing to earn points on the ground.

Qantas health insurance grew in a generally static market and an expansion into home insurance was launched in December 2020. Shifts in consumer behavior during lockdown saw record revenue for Qantas Wine (up 74 per cent) and the Qantas Rewards Store (up 41 per cent).

Frequent Flyers continue to prioritize using their points for travel, with record levels of redemptions for flights (up 2.5 times) when domestic travel restrictions eased in November. A further spike is expected once international travel resumes, which will also drive earnings.

Qantas Loyalty signed multi-year deals with three of the major banks, including a significant expansion with Commonwealth Bank to be rolled out later this calendar year. A new and much broader partnership with Accor will also launch in mid-2021.

LOOKING AFTER CUSTOMERS

Looking after customers remains core, with a focus on creating COVID-safe environments across Qantas and Jetstar and offering high levels of flexibility to help offset uncertainty on borders. Recent initiatives and improvements include:

  • Fly Well – using technology to minimize physical contact at airports; social distancing in lounges; providing masks and sanitizing wipes on board; and enhanced cleaning throughout. (The allied Work Well program applies COVID-safe principles for employees in both frontline and office-based roles.)
  • Fly Flexible – offering unlimited date changes on all Qantas domestic and international fares through to at least February 2022, removing the biggest barrier to booking while border uncertainty persists.
  • Rewarding loyalty – a further 12 month status retain offer for Frequent Flyers; offering status match to high-tier members of other airline programs; and increasing the number of reward seats on domestic flights by 50 per cent.
  • Better value – extending complimentary drinks service on all Qantas domestic flights, in addition to existing inclusions like free Wi-Fi on 737s; eligible customers have access to 35 domestic lounges compared to the main competitor’s seven; Jetstar domestic fares as low as $19.
  • Extension of flight vouchers – Qantas has extended credit vouchers to enable travel until 31 December 2023 on domestic or international flights, with Jetstar doing the same for vouchers issued due to COVID-19 disruptions.
Jetstar Airways aircraft slide show:

Swiss takes off with Confiserie Sprüngli

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is extending its ‘SWISS Saveurs’ food and beverage concept for Economy Class travellers which has already proved such a success in Geneva to its short- and medium-haul services from and to Zurich from the end of March. In doing so, SWISS will be working exclusively with Confiserie Sprüngli, the long-established and internationally renowned Swiss family firm, whose recipes will be used for all the fresh items on the SWISS Saveurs menu. In compiling its new range of for-purchase inflight snacks and drinks, SWISS is putting a firm emphasis on offering a wider selection of items, on freshness and quality, on regional accents and on sustainable packagings. The new food concept will also bring other reputed Swiss brands on board along with smaller local suppliers. And SWISS will further be offering its own new mineral water from the Glarus Alps, which will be distributed to all travelers free of charge.

In introducing its SWISS Saveurs inflight culinary concept for short- and medium-haul Economy Class travelers from and to Zurich from 30 March onwards, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is embarking on an exclusive new partnership with Confiserie Sprüngli, the internationally renowned Swiss company which is now in the hands of the sixth generation of its original founding family. Established in 1836, Confiserie Sprüngli has long been a byword for Swiss chocolate tradition and for products of outstanding quality and freshness made with natural ingredients. In this unique collaboration, all the fresh items on the new SWISS Saveurs menu such as muesli, salads, sandwiches and sweet pastries will be prepared using recipes of this Zurich-based traditional Swiss company.

“We are delighted to have teamed up with such an internationally renowned yet locally based partner with such a long tradition and such a focus on culinary excellence for this collaboration, which will enable us to offer a wide range of fresh top-quality snacks to our Economy Class customers, too,” says SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour. “We’ll be breaking new ground here with our packagings as well, where we’ll be using sustainable materials wherever we possibly can.”

 

The new Sprüngli products will be available on short- and medium-haul services from and to Zurich from 30 March and on services from and to Geneva from 28 April. SWISS Saveurs will be offered on flights of 50 minutes or more duration. The new menu extends to Bircher muesli, a pretzel with air-dried beef, a vegetable brioche and Sprüngli’s famous Luxemburgerli mini-macaroons. The prices per item range from CHF 7.50 for a Bircher muesli or a sandwich to CHF 18.50 for a freshly prepared hot meal (on longer flights). The product range will be updated every three to six months. SWISS’s tried-and-trusted Business Class concept for its short- and medium-haul services remains unchanged.

Sustainability is a further key consideration with the new fresh products. Most SWISS Saveurs items will be packaged in PaperWise material, which is made from agricultural waste using only renewable energy, and is thus entirely carbon-neutral. Those items that cannot yet be offered in PaperWise packaging will be packed in FSC-certificated cardboard or kraft paper. Production of the new fresh items will also be more closely tailored to customer demand, which will help to minimize food waste.

Further Swiss classics and new discoveries

To provide its inflight guests with an even broader range of for-purchase SWISS Saveurs items, SWISS will be supplementing its new exclusive fresh Sprüngli products with further Swiss classics such as Ragusa, Kägi Fret, Zweifel chips and Caotina hot chocolate. And there’ll be smaller Swiss producers to discover, too: the coffee will come from the small Zurich-based miró manufactura de café roastery, which sources all its beans solely from fair-trade suppliers; and the beverages range will include a gin from Turicum of Zurich and WhiteFrontier craft beer from Martigny in Canton Valais.

The snacks and drinks will be priced between CHF 3 and CHF 12. And the full range of SWISS Saveurs items can be viewed on swiss.com. SWISS will continue to offer all its inflight guests its popular SWISS Chocolates, along with a complimentary bottle of water.

Exclusive ‘SWISS Altitude 1150’ mineral water for every inflight guest

Together with SWISS Saveurs, SWISS is also launching a new mineral water together with its water supplier RAMSEIER Suisse AG that is produced exclusively for the airline in Switzerland’s Glarus Alps: ‘SWISS Altitude 1150’, a name inspired by the source spring’s elevation at 1,150 metres above sea level. The new mineral water will be served only on SWISS flights, and will be distributed to all passengers free of charge in a recyclable bottle in an unmistakable SWISS design. In a first step, SWISS Altitude 1150 will be provided on SWISS’s short- and medium-haul services, with the offer then gradually extended throughout the SWISS long-haul network.

Swiss aircraft photo gallery:

Swiss aircraft slide show:

Icelandair lands in Antarctica

Icelandair made this announcement on social media:

We usually fly closer to home, near the Arctic Circle, but this flight was even cooler: Today, an Icelandair Boeing 767-300 landed at the Norwegian research station Troll in Antarctica. The charter flight is to pick up the research center’s scientists and fly them home to Norway.

The journey has involved a lot of planning due to the unique conditions (e.g. a landing strip on ice), and involves 6 pilots, 13 crew and 1 flight engineer. They’re all on their way back to the northern part of the globe, and we look forward to sharing more of their adventures in Antarctica with you next week – because snow, ice and wind are truly our elements.

Icelandair aircraft photo gallery:

Icelandair aircraft slide show:

COVID-19 heavily influences Norwegian’s January traffic figures

Norwegian Air’s traffic figures for January are heavily influenced by lower demand caused by continued travel restrictions across Europe.

In January, 74,224 customers flew with Norwegian, a decrease of 96 percent compared to the same period last year. The capacity (ASK) was down 98 percent, and the total passenger traffic (RPK) was down by 99 percent. The load factor was 35.9 percent, down 45 percentage points.

Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: “The pandemic continues to have a negative impact on our business as travel restrictions remain. We are doing everything in our power to come out of the examinership as a stronger, more competitive airline and we look forward to welcoming more customers on board as travel restrictions are lifted.”

Norwegian operated eight aircraft on average in January, mainly on domestic routes in Norway. The company operated 96.8 percent of its scheduled flights in January, whereof 90.4 percent departed on time.

In other news, Norwegian also reported its fourth quarter results. As expected, the results were heavily impacted by COVID-19 and travel restrictions in all markets. The net loss was NOK 16.6 billion, including impairment of NOK 12.8 billion. The operating expenses before leasing and depreciation were reduced by 82 percent compared to the same quarter last year. In 2020, the company reduced net interest-bearing debt by NOK 18 billon. The examinership process in Ireland and the reconstruction process in Norway that were initiated in the fourth quarter are on track.

The pandemic continues to have a negative impact on the aviation industry. Demand was severely affected by changing travel restrictions and the continued spread of COVID-19 across Norwegian’s key markets. Out of a current fleet of 131 aircraft, an average of 15 were operational during the fourth quarter, mainly on domestic routes in Norway. Norwegian carried 574,000 customers, a decrease of 92 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Production capacity (ASK) was down 96 percent and passenger traffic (RPK) decreased by 97 percent. The load factor was 52.4 percent, a decrease of 32.5 percentage points compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: “2020 was an exceptionally difficult year for the aviation industry and for Norwegian. Consequently, the fourth quarter results are as expected. Unfortunately, many of our employees are furloughed or have lost their jobs, partly due to the company’s decision to cease long-haul operations. Despite the difficulties the pandemic has caused, there is a great fighting spirit and engagement within the company, and together we will build new Norwegian when we exit the reconstruction processes. Now, we are doing everything we can to emerge as a more financially secure and competitive airline with an improved customer offering, and as soon as Europe begins to reopen, we will be ready to welcome more customers on board.”

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Norwegian entered an examinership process in Ireland and a reconstruction process in Norway. Both processes are progressing as planned and are on track. The purpose of the processes is to reduce debt, reduce the size of the fleet and make the company financially attractive to secure new capital. Norwegian targets to reduce its debt significantly to around NOK 20 billion and to raise NOK 4 – 5 billion in new capital. In 2020, the company reduced net interest-bearing debt by NOK 18 billon, mainly through conversion to equity. Going forward, Norwegian will focus on a strong and profitable Nordic and European network. The company plans to serve these markets with approximately 50 narrow body aircraft in 2021. However, the ramp-up is dependent on the development of the pandemic, travel restrictions and government advice in key markets.

Norwegian operated 90.1 percent of its scheduled flights in the fourth quarter, whereof 94.1 percent departed on time.

Norwegian aircraft photo gallery:

Norwegian aircraft slide show:

Austrian Airlines to fly again to Montreal and New York JFK, sells 3 Boeing 767-300s

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

Destinations

• As of May, Austrian Airlines expands its long-haul service
• Montreal and New York JFK back on offer
• “Our long-haul services are back on a slight climb”, says CCO Michael Trestl

Austrian Airlines is expanding its long-haul services in the upcoming summer flight schedule. From May, Austria’s home carrier will once again be flying three times a week to Montreal and New York JFK. As Newark was already in service up to now, the total number of flights to New York will increase to eight connections per week as of May.

“With five destinations in North America and three in Asia, including Tokyo and Bangkok, our long-haul services are back on a slight climb this summer. Unfortunately, however, we are still a long way from reaching cruising altitude. We hope that a rapid increase in the vaccination rate and a corresponding relaxation of travel restrictions will give us a further boost in the future”, says Austrian Airlines CCO Michael Trestl.

Austrian Airlines was already able to announce an increase in its summer flight schedule last week. From the end of March, various destinations will be resumed, including Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Florence. Hanover will be served by Austrian Airlines again for the first time since 2009. In addition, numerous vacation destinations are back on offer, for example in Greece, Italy and Spain. In the intercontinental route network, Amman, Bangkok, Chicago and Tokyo are back in the flight schedule.
In other news, Austrian Airlines has found a buyer for the three long-haul aircraft that were up for sale. The Boeing 767-300ER aircraft will go to the US company MonoCoque Diversified Interests. The purchase agreement has already been signed. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price. The first aircraft, registered OE-LAT, will leave Vienna at the beginning of March for Pinal Airpark, Arizona. The aircraft is currently undergoing all the necessary preparations for the handover. The next transfer flight is scheduled for May with the Boeing 767 registered OE-LAX.

At an average of 28.5 years, the three B767s sold are among the oldest aircraft in the Austrian Airlines fleet. The remaining three B767s are between 20 and 22 years of age. After the completed handover, Austrian Airlines will continue to have nine long-haul jets at its disposal, which will connect Austria with destinations around the globe – from the USA to the Far East. In detail, these are six Boeing 777s with over 300 seats and three Boeing 767s with over 200 seats.

Until the beginning of 2022, 28 aircraft will leave the fleet of Austria’s home carrier: In addition to the aforementioned three Boeing 767-300ERs, 18 Dash turboprops (below) and seven Airbus A319 jets (above) will be handed over. Ten turboprops have already left Vienna, with the remaining eight to follow soon. This means that the fleet will consist of around 60 aircraft by the beginning of 2022. As mainly smaller aircraft will be retired, this corresponds to a capacity reduction of around 20 percent.
Finally, Austrian Airlines operated its 100th cargo flight with this announcement:

• Milestone flight celebrated with special livery
• More than 2,000 tons of relief supplies transported from Asia to Austria and Germany
• Partnership to be expanded through additional cargo flights

The need for relief supplies in the form of protective gloves, masks and suits as well as rapid antigen tests has continued uninterruptedly since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. For this reason, Austrian Airlines has established an airlift to Asia since March 2020 on behalf of the air cargo experts time:matters, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Cargo, in order to directly transport urgently needed protective materials to Vienna, Frankfurt or Linz. In doing so, the Austrian Airlines team worked particularly closely with the local branch office of time:matters in Vienna at all times. More than 2,000 tons of relief supplies could be brought to Europe on some 100 flights from Xiamen, Shanghai and Penang. Austrian Airlines’ Boeing B767 and 777 aircraft with built in seats were deployed on these flights as well as the B777 “Prachter”. This German word represents a mixture of the words normally used for passenger aircraft and cargo planes. The passenger seats on these jets are temporarily removed in order to increase cargo volumes.

Boeing 777-200 (OE-LPA) takes off with special livery to commemorate the 100th flight
On the occasion of the 100th cargo flight jointly operated by Austrian Airlines and time:matters, the converted Boeing 777 cargo aircraft of the Austrian flag carrier was given a special livery over the last few days by the experts at Austrian Technik. The tail section of the aircraft now displays the time:matters logo as well as lettering to point out the anniversary flight taking off from Vienna and heading to Penang. The aircraft will return to Vienna again on February 28, 2021 carrying urgently needed relief supplies.
Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:
Austrian Airlines aircraft slide show:

IAG reports a 2020 loss of €6,923 million

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) on February 26, 2021 presented Group consolidated results for the year to December 31, 2020.

COVID-19 situation and management actions:

• Passenger capacity in quarter 4 was 26.6 per cent of 2019 and for the full year was 33.5 per cent of 2019 and continues to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, together with government restrictions and quarantine requirements

• Current passenger capacity plans for quarter 1, 2021 are for around 20 per cent of 2019 capacity, but remain uncertain and subject to review

• 969 cargo-only flights operated in quarter 4 • Additional funding of €3.4 billion secured in quarter 4, including £2.0 billion commitment from UK Export Finance finalized in February 2021 and $1.0 billion EETC for British Airways, $0.2 billion sales and leaseback transactions for Iberia and €150 million for Aer Lingus backed by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), with €0.8 billion bridge financing facilities repaid

• 2020 capex reduced by €2.3 billion, from plans at the start of the year, to €1.9 billion, with €0.5 billion due to seven aircraft deliveries delayed from Q4-20 into 2021; 2021 capex expected to be lower than 2020

• British Airways reached agreement to defer €495 million of pension contributions due between September 2020 and October 2021

• British Airways reached agreement in principle over restructuring plans for cargo employees, following agreement with the other main British Airways employee groups earlier in 2020 • Group continues to focus on cost reduction, increasing the variability of its cost-base and liquidity initiatives

IAG period highlights on results:

• Fourth quarter operating loss €1,471 million (2019: operating profit €93 million), and operating loss before exceptional items €1,165 million (2019: operating profit before exceptional items €765 million)

• Operating loss for the year to December 31, 2020 €7,426 million (2019: operating profit €2,613 million), and operating loss before exceptional items €4,365 million (2019: operating profit before exceptional items €3,285 million)

• Exceptional charge before tax in the year to December 31, 2020 of €3,061 million on discontinuance of fuel and foreign exchange hedge accounting, impairment of fleet and restructuring costs; exceptional charge before tax for quarter 4 €306 million

• Loss after tax and exceptional items for the year to December 31, 2020 €6,923 million (2019: profit €1,715 million) and loss after tax before exceptional items: €4,325 million (2019: profit before exceptional items €2,387 million)

• Cash of €5,917 million at December 31, 2020 down €766 million on December 31, 2019. Committed and undrawn general and aircraft facilities were €2.14 billion, bringing total liquidity to €8.1 billion. Including €2.2 billion proceeds from the UK Export Finance (UKEF) gives total pro-forma liquidity of €10.3 billion.

Luis Gallego, IAG’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “In 2020, we’re reporting an operating loss of €4,365 million before exceptional items compared to an operating profit of €3,285 million in 2019. Total operating losses including exceptional items relating to fuel and currency hedges, early fleet retirement plus restructuring costs came to €7,426 million.

“Our results reflect the serious impact that COVID-19 has had on our business. We have taken effective action to preserve cash, boost liquidity and reduce our cost base. Despite this crisis, our liquidity remains strong. At 31 December, the Group’s liquidity was €10.3 billion including a successful €2.7 billion capital increase and £2 billion loan commitment from UKEF. This is higher than at the start of the pandemic.

“In 2020, our capacity decreased by 66.5 per cent while our non-fuel costs went down 37.1 per cent thanks to the extraordinary effort across our business. The Group continues to reduce its cost base and increase the proportion of variable costs to better match market demand. We’re transforming our business to ensure we emerge in a stronger competitive position.

“IAG Cargo’s turnover increased by almost €200 million to €1.3 billion. Cargo helped to make longhaul passenger flights viable. In addition, we operated 4,003 cargo-only flights in the year.

“I would like to thank our employees across the Group for their remarkable commitment, resilience and flexibility through this crisis. They have adapted quickly to new ways of working and made big sacrifices in terms of salary and working time. Our people have played a central role in all we have achieved during these challenging times.

“The aviation industry stands with governments in putting public health at the top of the agenda. Getting people traveling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right.

“We know there is pent-up demand for travel and people want to fly. Vaccinations are progressing well and global infections are going in the right direction. We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely.”

American Airlines not denying possible UFO spotting, says: ‘Talk to the FBI’

From Fox News, by Paul Best

American Airlines not denying possible UFO spotting, says: ‘Talk to the FBI’

From NBC News:

American Airlines pilot reports seeing ‘long, cylindrical object’ fly over plane

Note: Flight AA 2292 on February 21, 2021 was operated by Airbus A320 N647AW.

Delta and LATAM receive final approval in Brazil for Joint Venture agreement

Delta Air Lines also made this announcement:

  • More and improved travel options, shorter connection times and new routes between North America and Brazil will be just some of the benefits for customers.
  • The Joint Venture agreement has also been authorized in Uruguay while the application process continues in the U.S., Chile and other jurisdictions.

Delta Air Lines and LATAM have received final approval, without conditions, of their commercial agreement (“trans-American Joint Venture agreement” or “JVA”) by the Brazilian competition authority – the Administrative Council for Economic Defense – after initial approval was granted in September 2020. The JVA seeks to enhance the route networks served by both airlines, delivering a seamless travel experience between North and South America. The Delta-LATAM agreement has also been approved in Uruguay while the application process continues in other countries, including Chile.

“This final approval in Brazil furthers our mission to provide customers in this important market with the world-class travel experience and options they deserve,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Moving forward, we will continue working with LATAM to unlock more benefits for our customers and create the premier airline alliance of the Americas.”

LATAM Airlines Group CEO Roberto Alvo added, “This ruling  reinforces the benefits of this type of agreement for travelers and enables us to advance in our commitment to delivering greater and better connectivity between South America and the world.”

The ratification by the Brazilian authority supports the work of both airlines to deliver a broader and more competitive network of benefits for their customers that will include, among others:

  • Code-share agreements between Delta and certain subsidiaries of the LATAM group, which allow the purchase of tickets to a larger network of destinations.
  • Members of the Delta SkyMiles and LATAM Pass programs can redeem points / miles on both airlines, accessing more than 435 destinations around the world.
  • Shared terminals and faster connections at Terminal 4 of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and at Terminal 3 of São Paulo’s Guarulhos Airport.
  • Reciprocal lounge access: Customers can access 35 Delta Sky Club lounges in the United States and five LATAM VIP lounges in South America.

Delta and Deloitte commit to reducing carbon emissions via sustainable fuel agreement

Delta Air Lines made this announcement:

  • Agreement represents carbon dioxide emissions reduction of approximately 1,000 metric tons and supports a future of more sustainable business travel
  • Deloitte professionals to fly more sustainably through purchase of sustainable fuel facilitated by Delta

Delta and Deloitte are one step closer to sustainable business travel, thanks to a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) agreement covering a portion of Deloitte’s business travel.

Deloitte is one of Delta’s first corporate customers to purchase SAF facilitated by Delta. It is part of the airline’s longstanding commitment to work with customers to reach collective goals for the greater good of our planet.

“Delta’s continued focus on sustainability, especially during a pandemic that has severely impacted its business, speaks volumes,” said Joe Ucuzoglu, Deloitte’s U.S. CEO. “By collaborating with Delta to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuel, Deloitte is proud to positively impact our carbon footprint while investing in a more sustainable future.”

By using SAF, the agreement represents a lifecycle emissions reduction of approximately 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to carbon sequestered by 1,306 acres of U.S. forests or 756 football fields in one year.

“We must work together toward a more sustainable, healthy future. This collaboration with Deloitte is one example of how companies can work together to meet goals we are equally passionate about,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Sustainability is core to who we are, and it is important to our corporate customers for whom air travel is a significant part of their carbon footprint.”

In the year since Delta announced its $1 billion commitment to carbon neutrality from March 2020 onward, the company remains focused on carbon reduction and removal and stakeholder engagement in an effort to ensure its operations are more sustainable. The collaboration with Deloitte represents one of the first of what the airline hopes will be many significant achievements for both areas.

To power its SAF agreement with Deloitte, Delta entered into a separate SAF supply agreement with Neste, a leading producer of low emission, renewable fuel for aircraft.  Neste’s SAF is made from sustainably sourced, renewable waste and residue materials, and it is a drop-in fuel that offers an immediate way to directly reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Once taking delivery of the SAF, Delta will be able to offer sustainable air travel solutions to Deloitte and other corporate customers.

SAF is an important lever to reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions from aviation fuel, up to 80 percent when used in pure form compared to fossil jet fuel, and has great potential to scale. Collaborations like this, between Delta and Deloitte, further support SAF development and represent the growing demand for innovations in clean fuel technologies.

“This is just the beginning. We are grateful for Deloitte and our corporate customers and partners joining us on this important journey,” said Bastian. “Together, we will make a difference for generations to come.”

JetBlue takes delivery of its first Airbus A321neo featuring reimagined Mint® for North American flying

 

JetBlue Airways today announced it has formally taken delivery of its first Airbus A321neo (new engine option) aircraft configured with the airline’s reimagined premium Mint® experience and an all-new onboard layout, featuring comfort and connectivity perks that set the airline apart from other U.S. carriers. The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at JetBlue’s home at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) tonight from the Airbus production facility in Hamburg, Germany.

 

Photo: Business Wire. Travelers can spot the A321neo with Mint by its unique “Ribbons” tailfin. The design features three blues from the airline’s brand palette and is the first tailfin inspired by so-called “Op Art” – as in optical art – using simple shapes to create the illusion of three dimensions and movement.

JetBlue’s A321neo with Mint features 16 Mint suites – including two Mint Studios™ – and 144 core seats. It will first operate on select flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this summer. Today’s delivery – tail N2105J named “NEO Mintality” – brings JetBlue’s total fleet count to 270 aircraft, is the airline’s 16th A321neo and the first of this aircraft type to feature Mint.

“With so much excitement around JetBlue’s London plans, we’re delighted to also introduce our fabulous, all-new transatlantic Mint suites to customers on select flights within the U.S.,” said Jayne O’Brien, head of marketing and loyalty, JetBlue. “Our reimagined Mint and award-winning core experience, combined with the superior economics of the A321neo aircraft, will position JetBlue to compete effectively and add relevance to our customers in Mint markets.”

All Suites, All the Time
The first major design overhaul of Mint – designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates – will debut on select flights between New York and Los Angeles this summer.

  • We made every Mint seat a suite: JetBlue’s reimagined Mint will offer more privacy with 16 aisle-access suites. Every inch of space anticipates customer needs, with features including a tilting 17-inch Thales AVANT seatback screen, wireless charging capabilities, an integrated phone ledge for multitasking, and easy-to-reach in-seat power, as well as laptop, shoe and handbag stowage. JetBlue is the first carrier to outfit its aircraft with Thompson Aero Seating’s VantageSOLO seat, the company’s revolutionary single aisle seating solution with a herringbone configuration developed and designed specifically for narrow-body aircraft and further customized for JetBlue.
  • Mint Studio is the pinnacle of space and privacy: The all-new Mint Studio – conceptualized by Acumen and developed in partnership with AIM Altitude – is JetBlue’s latest game-changing innovation, offering the most space in a premium experience from any U.S. airline (a). Each aircraft will have two Mint Studios in the first row, providing ample room for working or relaxing, and featuring a 22-inch tilting Thales AVANT seatback screen, an extra side table for added productivity, and a guest seat that can accommodate an additional Mint customer during flight at cruising altitude. When reclined, customers can kick back and relax on the largest lie-flat bed of any U.S. carrier (b).
  • Our proprietary seat design is truly a bed in the sky: JetBlue tapped Tuft & Needle – the innovative mattress company that pioneered the bed-in-a-box trend – to shape the entire Mint sleep experience onboard. Engineered for comfort, every Mint seat is layered with Tuft & Needle’s proprietary T&N Adaptive® foam and a breathable cover to create a cool and comfortable sleep experience unlike anything in the sky. The seat complements additional sleep amenities developed in partnership with the brand, including a convertible blanket with a built-in foot pocket, a memory foam lined pillow with a pillowcase, and a snooze kit with a matching eye mask and earplugs.

Core and So Much More
JetBlue’s core experience on the A321neo – with the most legroom in coach (c) – features the Collins Meridian seat, customized around customer feedback and featuring a number of design elements with comfort and convenience in mind.

  • 144 seats with a width of 18.4 inches, the widest available for the A321neo aircraft.
  • Seven rows of Even More Space® seating, all located in the forward area of the core experience, based on customer feedback.
  • 10.1 inch, 1080P high definition screen at every seat.
  • Easy-to-reach in-seat power, featuring AC and USB ports.
  • Enhanced cushion comfort and adjustable headrests.
  • Contoured seatback design at knee level creating additional living space.
  • Custom designed seatback storage.

Connected Customers
JetBlue will build on its reputation as an industry leader in inflight entertainment options with Thales AVANT and ViaSat-2 connectivity. With this system, JetBlue will offer every customer aboard the A321neo with expanded and personalized entertainment choices in nearly every region the airline flies (d). With JetBlue, all customers have the ability to connect an unlimited number of devices and stream, surf, or chat during the entire flight, from gate to gate.

  • 100+ channels of DIRECTV®, hundreds of movies, full seasons of binge-worthy TV shows, and custom seatback games.
  • Picture-in-picture function.
  • Enhanced, 3D flight map offering multiple ways to track time to destination.
  • Personal handheld device pairing capabilities for use as a remote or gaming controller.
  • Expanded Fly-Fi® connectivity, providing coverage to nearly the entire JetBlue network.

Design Details
JetBlue is also maximizing the A321neo’s ultra-modern design to create an elevated customer experience throughout the interior. Every aspect of the aircraft has been meticulously customized to create a perfect environment to deliver JetBlue’s award-winning service.

  • Refreshed onboard Pantry® with a mini-fridge and drawers full of complimentary snacks.
  • Spacious overhead bins for additional carry-on bag capacity.
  • Custom LED mood lighting designed to provide a more soothing inflight experience with lighting scenarios that change with time of day or phase of flight.
  • Four full-size lavatories featuring subway tile patterns – a nod to JetBlue being New York’s Hometown Airline®.
  • Custom-designed front and rear wall panel featuring unique and modern patterns.
  • Heated floors in front galley area for added crewmember comfort, a first for JetBlue.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery:

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