Monthly Archives: June 2020

Finnair announces re-opening of Helsinki Schengen lounge, onboard service changes and launch of passenger “Clean Kit” as part of ongoing ramp-up measures

Finnair has made this announcement:

During the spring, Finnair has made numerous changes to its services at the airport to support the health of customers and employees at the airport and onboard. As air traffic gradually recovers, Finnair will increase its service by opening the Finnair Lounge in the Schengen area and expanding the in-flight catering service.

“Travelling can feel different than before, with changes in services and new types of procedures in place, such as the mandatory use of a mask on our flights. However, we are delighted to be able to bring back familiar elements of our valued customer service while still taking good care of the hygiene and safety of our customers and staff,” says Karim Al-Soufi, Vice President of Customer Experience at Finnair.

Finnair Lounge opens its doors on the Schengen area

Finnair Lounge at Helsinki Airport’s Schengen area opens to customers as of July 1, 2020. The lounge is open from 6 am until 10 am and from 2 pm until 8 pm with a limited selection of Food and Beverages. The lounge services will be operated with reduced capacity and extra cleaning to support high hygiene standards.   Also customers who are going on a non-Schengen flight and are eligible for lounge access may use the lounge in the Schengen area. Finnair’s lounges on the airport’s non-Schengen area will remain closed.

In-flight service will expand in July-August

In July-August, in Finland and on the shortest routes in Europe, such as Stockholm’s Arlanda, we serve coffee and tea, juice and water in economy class. On longer European flights we serve also biscuit or a sandwich, depending on the length of the route. On long-haul flights, our service returns closer to normal in both economy and business classes. However, the range of special meals and alcoholic beverages is still limited.

New “Clean Kit” for customers 

In addition to stepped up cleaning measures and regular disinfections onboard aircraft, for added reassurance, Finnair will launch a new “Clean Kit” that will be distributed to all passengers from the beginning of July. The kit contains hand sanitiser, surface wipes, an information leaflet and is packaged within an envelope that acts as a waste container.

The kit has a special sustainable focus and features artwork by Finnish artist Reeta Ek. The paper product has been sourced using sustainable Finnish forestry fibres and the hand sanitiser has been supplied by Kyrö distillery, who is perhaps best known for their award-winning gin. Kyrö pivoted to providing hand sanitiser to the healthcare industry when the pandemic first started.

The wearing of masks by all passengers and crew will continue to be mandatory throughout the entire journey (except when dining). Passengers are asked to prepare enough masks for their journey though a limited supply is available onboard if required in exceptional circumstances. In line with the focus on sustainability, these masks have been sourced and manufactured within Finland.

Temporary reduction in the size of hand luggage 

Finnair temporarily changes the permitted size of hand luggage. The new dimensions of hand luggage are 55x40x23cm (old dimension 56x45x25cm). Economy class tickets includes one hand luggage and a small personal item with dimensions of 40x30x15cm. The total weight of hand luggage and personal belongings may not exceed 8 kg. Business class tickets includes two hand luggage and one personal item, such as a handbag, with a total weight of up to 10 kg.

Delta engages Mayo Clinic experts to advise on making travel even safer

Delta Air Lines and Mayo Clinic, a global leader in serious and complex medical care, are deepening their relationship to provide additional safety and COVID-19 infection control measures for customers and employees. The collaboration is another significant step in Delta’s efforts to build upon its foundation of care and cleanliness, known as the Delta CareStandard, to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 during travel.

“There’s nothing more important than the health and safety of our people and our customers. As we continue adjusting our business to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, there’s no organization in the world better equipped than the Mayo Clinic to act as Delta’s medical advisor,” said Ed Bastian, CEO – Delta Air Lines. “The role Mayo will play in testing our employees and advising on safety practices at airports and work spaces will help deliver the additional layers of protection needed to safeguard our customers and employees.”

The Delta CareStandard layers of protection, along with other measures that protect employees, in part contributed to a significant decrease in the number of employees testing positive for COVID-19 between April and May. Since May, the number of employees testing positive is well below the national average. Delta is working closely with expert advisors at Mayo Clinic to review, enhance and continuously improve health and safety protocols.

“The health and safety of employees and customers continues to be our priority during this time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic’s expertise in infection prevention and control, as well as our research on COVID-19, provides us with expert insight to support Delta through advisory services, helping to implement best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Delta Air Lines will consult with Mayo Clinic on the following:

  • COVID-19 Testing for Full Delta Workforce – As one of the first Fortune 100 companies to embark on COVID-19 testing for its entire workforce, Delta views testing as a critical step in protecting the health and safety of employees and customers. Mayo Clinic Laboratories has designed Delta’s employee testing program, assisted in administering diagnostic and serology tests, and will analyze the findings to determine broader trends. Based on the findings, Mayo Clinic will provide recommendations to Delta’s existing policies and procedures, perform workforce risk assessments and review re-testing programs for the ongoing safety of Delta people.
  • Establish an Integrated Advisory Council – Comprised of professionals from both organizations, this executive team will meet frequently to review and assess Delta’s health and safety policies and procedures. Mayo Clinic will also provide Delta with ongoing clinical guidance to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced safety measures for employees. This council will be co-led by Rob Kight, senior vice president of Human Relations at Delta, and Henry Ting, M.D., chief value officer at Mayo Clinic, and William Morice II, M.D., Ph.D., president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories.
  • Customer Health Consulting – Working closely with Delta’s Customer Experience team under the guidance of Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer, Mayo Clinic will review and provide guidance on current customer-facing protocols and safeguards in place, and provide counsel on how to enhance these measures for optimal results. In addition, Mayo Clinic will advise Delta on best practices for customers regarding COVID-19 prevention, including the use of effective personal protective equipment, and guidance on how Delta can continue to provide a safe and clean travel experience.

“Satisfaction scores among Delta travelers have been at an all-time high during the pandemic, but as more customers return to travel, we understand they’ll need even greater assurances that Delta experiences are safe,” says Lentsch. “This is a journey with no finish line – and we know that more than three quarters of customers, when asked, share that regular employee testing will help boost their confidence in travel. This is the foundation upon which we will innovate and redefine future travel experiences that ensure we are delivering the safe experiences our customers expect and deserve.”

“Mayo Clinic has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing innovations in molecular and antibody testing, therapies including convalescent plasma, and protocols and procedures to protect our staff and patients from the spread of infection,” says Dr. Ting. “We look forward to collaborating with Delta by using advanced analytics and ongoing testing innovations to help their passengers travel as safely as possible.”

Air Canada discontinues service on 30 domestic regional routes and closes eight stations in Canada

Air Canada said today that it is indefinitely suspending service on 30 domestic regional routes and closing eight stations at regional airports in Canada. 

These structural changes to Air Canada’s domestic regional network are being made as a result of continuing weak demand for both business and leisure travel due to COVID-19 and provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures, which are diminishing prospects for a near-to-mid-term recovery.

As the company has previously reported, Air Canada expects the industry’s recovery will take a minimum of three years. As a consequence, other changes to its network and schedule, as well as further service suspensions, will be considered over the coming weeks as the airline takes steps to decisively reduce its overall cost structure and cash burn rate.

A full list of route suspensions and station closures is below.

As a result of COVID-19, Air Canada reported a net loss of $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2020, including a net cash-burn in March of $688 million. The carrier has undertaken a range of structural changes including significant cost savings and liquidity measures, of which today’s announced service suspensions form part. Other measures include:

  • A workforce reduction of approximately 20,000 employees, representing more than 50 per cent of its staff, achieved through layoffs, severances, early retirements and special leaves;
  • A company-wide Cost Reduction and Capital Deferral Program, that has to date identified around $1.1 billion in savings;
  • A reduction of its system-wide capacity by approximately 85 per cent in the second quarter compared to last year’s second quarter and an expected third quarter capacity reduction of at least 75% from the third quarter of 2019;
  • The permanent removal of 79 aircraft from its mainline and Rouge fleets;
  • And raising approximatively $5.5 billion in liquidity since March 13, 2020, through a series of debt, aircraft and equity financings.

Further initiatives are being considered.

Route Suspensions

The following routes will be suspended indefinitely as per applicable regulatory notice requirements. Affected customers will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including alternative routings where available.

Maritimes/Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Deer Lake-Goose Bay;
  • Deer LakeSt. John’s;
  • FrederictonHalifax;
  • FrederictonOttawa;
  • MonctonHalifax;
  • Saint JohnHalifax;
  • CharlottetownHalifax;
  • MonctonOttawa;
  • Gander-Goose Bay;
  • GanderSt. John’s;
  • BathurstMontreal;
  • Wabush-Goose Bay;
  • WabushSept-Iles;
  • Goose Bay-St. John’s.

Quebec/Ontario:

  • Baie ComeauMontreal;
  • Baie Comeau-Mont Joli;
  • Gaspé-Iles de la Madeleine;
  • Gaspé-Quebec City;
  • Sept-Iles-Quebec City;
  • Val d’OrMontreal;
  • Mont JoliMontreal;
  • Rouyn-NorandaVal d’Or;
  • KingstonToronto;
  • LondonOttawa;
  • North BayToronto
  • WindsorMontreal

Western Canada:

  • ReginaWinnipeg;
  • ReginaSaskatoon;
  • ReginaOttawa;
  • SaskatoonOttawa.

Station Closures

The following are the Regional Airports where Air Canada is closing its stations:

  • Bathurst (New Brunswick)
  • Wabush (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Gaspé (Quebec)
  • Baie Comeau (Quebec)
  • Mont Joli (Quebec)
  • Val d’Or (Quebec)
  • Kingston (Ontario)
  • North Bay (Ontario)

Austrian Airlines will offer more flights starting in July

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

• Palma de Mallorca added to the flight schedule
• Resumption of service to Zadar
• More flight connections to Dubrovnik, Split, Thessaloniki and Nice

Austrian Airlines is further expanding its summer flight schedule. As of July, a charter flight will be operated once a week to Palma de Mallorca, always on a Saturday. Fans of Croatia will be pleased with the resumption of flights to Zadar. Starting in July, Austria’s national airline will fly to Croatia’s coastal city every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Moreover, Austrian Airlines is doubling the number of flights to Dubrovnik and Split to up to six connections per week. As of July, there will also be one daily flight to Thessaloniki (instead of four each week). Flight service to Nice will be expanded from four to five weekly flights. As a result, passengers aiming to spend their summer holidays on the beach have a large selection of flights to choose from. In addition to Mallorca, destinations on the Croatian coast and the Côte d’Azur, Austrian Airlines will also offer various flight connections to Greek holiday islands such as Karpathos, Kos, Rhodes, Santorini or Zakynthos.

“The lifting of many travel restrictions within Europe, a recent example being Spain, enables us to expand our offering correspondingly”, says Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto. “Naturally, the respective local safety regulations must continue to be observed, for example with respect to wearing masks. Otherwise there is nothing which stands in the way of enjoying a summer holiday on the beach”, he adds.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Brussels Airlines expands its flight offer in September and October

Brussels Airlines launches its flight schedule for September and October, offering more destinations and extra frequencies on both leisure and corporate routes. During these months, the Belgian airline will operate 45% of its normal schedule with 27 aircraft. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, the relaunch of Brussels Airlines’ long-haul operations – originally planned for June 22, 2020 has been delayed until August 2020.

Adapted to the market demand and ongoing travel restrictions, the new Brussels Airlines network for September and October includes a range of holiday destinations as well as corporate ones. The airline adds frequencies to the already relaunched destinations and adds the following destinations to its network map:

Medium-haul:

  • Basel
  • Birmingham
  • Bologna
  • Edinburgh
  • Goteborg
  • Milan Linate
  • Warshaw

Long-haul:

  • Freetown (August)

Following the extension of travel restrictions outside of Europe, the relaunch of the Belgian airline’s long-haul operations has been delayed and is now planned for August and remains subject to governmental approval. On top of the long-haul destinations that were planned to launch as communicated in May, the airline also aims to add Freetown to its network in August.

While the market demand for air travel slowly increases, the airline recognizes the uncertainty that passengers experience these days. Brussels Airlines guests can therefore continue to count on extra flexibility for rebooking. If passengers are unable to travel or prefer to change their travel plans, they can enjoy a free rebooking to a later date before December 31, 2021 and even change their destination. Guests do not need to contact Brussels Airlines immediately as they have the time until January 31, 2021 to let the airline know on what date and where to they want to travel.

 

Airbus concludes ATTOL with fully autonomous flight tests

Airbus made this announcement:

Following an extensive two-year flight test programme, Airbus has successfully concluded its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) project.

In completing this project, Airbus has achieved autonomous taxiing, take-off and landing of a commercial aircraft through fully automatic vision-based flight tests using on-board image recognition technology – a world-first in aviation.

In total, over 500 test flights were conducted. Approximately 450 of those flights were dedicated to gathering raw video data, to support and fine tune algorithms, while a series of six test flights, each one including five take-offs and landings per run, were used to test autonomous flight capabilities.

The ATTOL project was initiated by Airbus to explore how autonomous technologies, including the use of machine learning algorithms and automated tools for data labelling, processing and model generation, could help pilots focus less on aircraft operations and more on strategic decision-making and mission management. Airbus is now able to analyse the potential of these technologies for enhancing future aircraft operations, all the while improving aircraft safety, ensuring today’s unprecedented levels are maintained.

Airbus will continue research into the application of autonomous technologies alongside other innovations in areas such as materials, alternative propulsion systems and connectivity. By leveraging these opportunities, Airbus is opening up possibilities for creating new business models that will transform how aircraft are developed, manufactured, flown, powered and serviced.

The rapid development and demonstration of ATTOL’s capabilities was made possible due to a cross-divisional, cross-functional, global team comprising of Airbus engineering and technology teams, Airbus Defence and Space, Acubed (Project Wayfinder), Airbus China and ONERA under the leadership of Airbus UpNext.

Denmark and Sweden save SAS with a rescue package

Denmark and Sweden are extending a life line of 9 billion kroner ($929 million) as part of a rescue package to save Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) from bankruptcy following the airline’s extensive losses due to COVID-19.

As a result, Denmark (14.2%) and Sweden (14.8%) are increasing their shares in the flag carrier.

Meanwhile layoffs continue with 1,900 jobs lost in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway and almost 1,600 in Denmark.

SAS aircraft photo gallery:

LIAT remains grounded until July 15 but will now be liquidated and replaced

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Brown, has announced plans to liquidate the regional carrier LIAT according to Caribbean National Weekly.

According to the Prime Minister, the current LIAT will be replaced with a much leaner LIAT that will retain the LIAT brand.

Previously the airline had made this announcement:

LIAT‘s commercial passenger services will remain suspended until July 15, 2020, due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Julie Reifer-Jones noted that while territories have begun to announce reopening dates, there are extended quarantine restrictions and protocols which are impacting the demand for travel. The CEO noted that the airline’s Management and Board of Directors will continue to monitor the situation and will review the decision in July as more information becomes available.

Passengers booked during the extended period of suspension will automatically have their bookings cancelled and will receive full airline credit for future travel. Passengers will be able to rebook as soon as the airline announces the resumption of passenger services.

Mrs. Reifer-Jones also advised that the airline was open to working with regional governments to repatriate citizens who were stranded across the region while its commercial services are suspended.

The airline acknowledged that while the extension was extremely difficult, it was necessary as the airline works towards a feasible restart. The CEO reassured that LIAT is still committed to keeping the region connected.

LIAT Aircraft photo gallery:

Route Map:

Major U.S. airlines announce additional health requirements

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, announced that its member carriers are voluntarily implementing temporary health acknowledgment policies and procedures for passenger travel as an additional level of mitigation to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Health acknowledgments are another important way passengers can “fly smart” and do their part to help prevent the spread.

Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will require passengers to complete a simple health acknowledgment during the check-in process. Health acknowledgements typically cover three primary areas:

  • Face Coverings – assurance that passengers will bring a face covering and wear it at the airport, on the jet bridge and onboard the aircraft;
  • Symptoms – assurance that the passenger is not experiencing a temperature (38C/100.4F or higher), coughing, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle pain and/or sore throat; and
  • Exposure – assurance that the passenger has not had close contact with someone who tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Health acknowledgments encourage passengers to make an evaluation of their own health prior to travel. Passengers who fail or refuse to complete the health acknowledgment may be deemed unfit to travel and each carrier will resolve the matter in accordance with its own policies. This measure is expected to remain in place throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“Health assessments prior to air travel are just one more important measure in our multi-layered approach to help mitigate the transmission of COVID to passengers and employees,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “We want passengers to know that this is another change they should expect the next time they fly.”

A4A’s member carriers are also vigorously enforcing face covering requirements, as well as enhancing cleaning protocols and adjusting policies to limit onboard interaction.

U.S. airlines also encourage the traveling public to follow all CDC recommendations – including frequent hand-washing – for their protection as well as that of others.

Porter Airlines announces new restart date of August 31

Porter Airlines is modifying its return-to-service date in light of ongoing government travel restrictions. The new restart date is August 31, instead of the previously-announced target of July 29.

“Our ability to successfully relaunch service is directly tied to the lifting of travel restrictions,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines. “We believe it is getting closer to a time when people can travel more freely and are optimistic that key border closures and mandatory quarantines will begin easing, so that we can recommence operations.”

Details on Porter’s new Healthy Flights program, designed to keep both passengers and team members safe, will be shared in the coming weeks.

To provide flexibility and give travellers peace of mind when purchasing for future travel, Porter is waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked between today and Aug. 31. This also applies to Porter Escapes vacation packages.

Porter temporarily suspended operations as of March 21, due to increasingly-restrictive government travel limitations associated with COVID-19.