Monthly Archives: August 2020

American also drops change fees

American Airlines made this announcement:

  • No more change fees. Change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying on Premium Cabin fares and most Main Cabin fares will be eliminated.
  • Fly standby for free. All customers will have the ability to fly standby on earlier flights for the same destination on the same day at no charge starting Oct. 1, 2020.
  • More to Basic Economy. Basic Economy fares now come with the ability to tailor your travel experience including upgrades, Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats, priority boarding and same-day flight changes.
  • Same AAdvantage® benefits during your journey, no matter the fare. AAdvantage® elite members will be able to apply their current travel benefits on all tickets, including when purchasing a Basic Economy fare.

 

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) is making travel easier and less complicated for customers. These new customer-friendly initiatives give travelers even more flexibility when they travel on American.

“In a world that’s constantly changing, American is resolute to our purpose of caring for customers at all points of their travel journey,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. “American is offering more flexibility and ease than ever before, should travel plans change. By eliminating change fees, giving customers an opportunity to get where they want to go faster with free same-day standby on earlier flights and providing access to upgrades and seats for all fare types, we’re giving customers the freedom to make their own choices when traveling with American.”

No more change fees

Effective immediately, American will eliminate all change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international flying.

No change fee applies with the following locations and cabins:

You’re flying to… And you’re flying in…
  • Any of the 50 U.S. states
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Main Cabin (except Basic Economy)
  • Premium Economy
  • Business Class
  • First Class

American will also allow customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their travel plans prior to the scheduled travel. Although customers will have to pay the fare difference for a new flight, customers will not lose their ticket value if the new flight is less expensive. For example, if a customer paid $500 for their flight and change to a flight that costs $300, American will give the customer a $200 voucher to use for a future trip.

The new change fee policy applies to AAdvantage® award tickets as well.

Fly standby on the same day for free

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all customers will have the ability to stand by on flights on the same day as their original departure for the same destination at no charge. This flexibility extends to domestic and international travel, regardless of the ticket purchased.

More to Basic Economy

American is enhancing Basic Economy fares, keeping the same competitive low price, but now allowing customers to purchase products to enhance their travel experience. Customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets on Oct. 1, 2020, and beyond will be able to purchase:

  • Upgrades
  • Priority boarding
  • Preferred/Main Cabin Extra seats
  • Same-day confirmed flight changes

As a reminder, American allows one personal item and one carry-on item for customers traveling on a Basic Economy ticket.

Same AAdvantage® benefits during your journey, no matter the fare

Later this fall, members who have achieved Elite status with the AAdvantage® program will receive the benefits they’re accustomed to no matter the ticket they purchase. In addition to enjoying Priority Access/Preferred Boarding, our elite members who purchase a Basic Economy fare will now be able to access their:

  • Upgrade privileges.
  • Elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats.
  • Same-day confirmed flight change benefit.

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, miles or segments toward future status.

Giving customers additional flexibility the rest of the year

In addition, American is also providing customers additional flexibility by extending its offer to waive change fees for customers booking tickets for any new travel purchased by Dec. 31, 2020. This offer applies to tickets that meet the following criteria.

  • Any First, Business, Premium Economy, Main Cabin, or Basic Economy ticket purchased on or before Dec. 31, 2020, for future travel will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, and fare rules may apply depending on the ticket.
  • All AAdvantage® award tickets are included in this offer.
  • Customers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities as part of this offer.

Delta also eliminates change fees

Delta Air Lines made this announcement:

At Delta’s Investor Day in December 2019, the airline shared its intent to overhaul its change fee structure, delivering the flexibility and simplicity customers are looking for. Since then, Delta has put its full focus into taking care of customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including implementing a waiver to eliminate change fees in March 2020. Delta is now doubling down on its mission to make it easier for customers to book, change or cancel their travel plans by making this policy permanent for tickets purchased for travel within the U.S.

“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space and care to our customers,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We want our customers to book and travel with peace of mind, knowing that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of flexibility they expect.”

The elimination of change fees is effective immediately and includes tickets purchased for travel within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands in Delta’s First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin, with the exception of Basic Economy tickets.

Additionally, Delta will extend its waiver on change fees for newly purchased flights, including international flights and Basic Economy fares, through the end of the year and will extend its expiration on travel credits through December 2022 for tickets booked before April 17, 2020.

Other steps Delta has taken to deliver flexibility and a superior experience to customers include:

  • Blocking middle seats through Jan 6, 2021, ensuring more space for safer travel, on all flights and including for Basic Economy customers
  • Giving customers industry-leading flexibility to plan, re-book and travel,  Delta has provided more than $2.6 billion in cash refunds in 2020
  • Delta was the first airline to Extend Medallion Status through 2021, and offer extensions for Delta Sky Club Memberships and more
  • Offering a 24-hour risk free cancellation policy when customers purchase a new ticket
  • Empowering our employees to use situational flexibility when customers need it most

As customers consider future travel, Delta’s multi-layered approach to their health and safety ensures peace of mind throughout the travel journey. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Sanitizing all aircraft with electrostatic spraying before departure and extensive pre-flight disinfection of high-touch points throughout the aircraft interior.
  • Using state-of-the-art air circulation systems with HEPA filters that extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses.
  • Requiring face masks throughout the airport, in Delta Sky Clubs and on board the aircraft

Boeing to ground 8 787 Dreamliners due to manufacturing problems

Boeing issued this short statement:

“Boeing has identified two distinct manufacturing issues in the join of certain 787 aftbody fuselage sections, which, in combination, result in a condition that does not meet our design standards,”

Eight of the 787 Dreamliners will be grounded for inspection and repair of how parts of the fuselage were joined together.

Reuters: Wizz Air to cut flights as Hungary closes borders to foreigners

From Reuters:

“Wizz Air will sharply reduce weekly flights to and from Hungary from Sept. 7, the airline said, after the government announced it would ban the entry of foreigners to try to rein in the coronavirus outbreak.

Hungary announced on Friday that it would close its borders to foreigners from Sept. 1 to curb a rise in infections and Hungarians returning from abroad will have to go into quarantine.

Wizz Air said in a statement that it would operate 32 flights per week between Sept. 7 and 30, down from around 126 flights in the Sept. 1-6 period.”

Reuters: Emirates got $2 billion injection from Dubai government

From Reuters:

“Emirates airline has received 7.3 billion dirhams ($2 billion) from the government of Dubai as it faces a cash crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a bond prospectus seen by Reuters shows.

Aviation has been one of the worst-hit industries during the pandemic and Emirates has cut thousands of jobs as it tries to manage the crisis, sources have said.

The government provided 7.3 billion dirhams to the airline it owns after Dubai’s crown prince in March promised equity to Emirates to see it through the crisis, the prospectus shows.

No such injection has been publicly announced by the government or the airline.

The details were disclosed in a prospectus for a potential bond issuance by the Dubai government.”

Spirit Airlines and ALPA agree to a job-preserving program to eliminate pilot furloughs

ALPA made this announcement:

Spirit Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl. (ALPA), recently reached an agreement with management to save hundreds of the airline’s pilots from furlough. Nearly half of the more than 2,500 Spirit pilots have agreed to temporarily work fewer hours each month to prevent 800 pilots from being furloughed beginning October 1.

“At a time where airlines struggle to keep pace with the ever-changing demand for air travel and airline crews struggle to keep themselves and their families healthy, Spirit Airlines pilots and management worked together to reach an agreement that mitigates the remaining furloughs planned for October 2020. Effective immediately, the 600 planned furloughs have been canceled,” said Capt. Scott Vallach, chairman of ALPA’s Spirit Airlines Master Executive Council.

More than 11,000 airline pilots in the United States have already received notices of potential furlough. Currently, dozens of other ALPA pilot groups are exploring various furlough mitigation plans to preserve as many jobs as possible until the industry recovers.

“I’m extremely proud of the willingness of our pilots to help each other and ensure that no Spirit pilot goes without a paycheck. I also want to thank Spirit management for partnering with us to sit down and find a path that helps our airline survive while keeping all of our pilots employed,” Vallach added.

United Airlines permanently eliminates change fees

United Airlines has made this announcement:

The only thing constant is change and at United Airlines, some of the fees associated with changes related to flying are gone for good. The carrier announced today that it is permanently getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately. And starting on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, a first among U.S. carriers, while MileagePlus Premier members can confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.

United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types issued after March 3, 2020 and is valid for domestic and international travel. With these improvements, no U.S. airline gives their customers more flexibility when booking – and changing – their travel plans than United Airlines.

The new change fee policy applies to all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.

Additionally, United is giving customers more flexibility to change their flights on the day of their travel so they can head home if a meeting ends earlier or enjoy a few more hours on vacation. With the ability to list for same-day standby for free, customers will now have an option to take a different flight with the same origin and destination airports as their original itinerary if space is available at departure. This enhanced option will be available to all customers for travel within the U.S. and to and from international destinations beginning on January 1, 2021. Customers who want to switch flights will be able to add themselves to the standby list through United’s award-winning mobile app, on united.com or at the airport no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure on international flights.

The carrier is also improving the travel experience for its MileagePlus members including waiving all redeposit fees on award travel for flights changed or cancelled more than 30 days before departure and allowing all MileagePlus Premier members to confirm a different flight on the day of their travel. As a way to thank MileagePlus Premier members for their loyalty, beginning January 1, 2021, all Premier members will be able to confirm a seat for free on a different flight with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket. This expanded option will allow MileagePlus Silver members and above to confirm a new seat in the same ticket fare class if space is available. Earlier this year, United announced that it will extend status for MileagePlus Premier and Global Services members through January 2022. United also reduced thresholds for Premier qualification by 50 percent for each status level, to make reaching an even higher status tier easier.

Avianca Holdings S.A. to receive debtor-in-possession financing and Government of Colombia financing commitment

Avianca Holdings S.A. today issued a statement regarding the Company’s expected debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing, following the announcement by the Republic of Colombia’s Ministerio de Hacienda y Credito Público (the Finance Ministry) that the management committee of the country’s Fondo de Mitigación de Emergencias (“FOME”, the Emergency Mitigation Fund) had approved the government’s participation in Avianca’s DIP financing, through a commitment of up to US$370 million in the proposed loan structure, side by side with private market investors. Avianca commented as follows:

We are pleased that the Government of the Republic of Colombia will participate in the Company’s DIP financing and express our gratitude for the confidence and support this commitment demonstrates.

As we previously disclosed on August 13, 2020, Avianca’s DIP loan financing is expected to consist of two tranches that include approximately US$1.2 billion of new funds as part of a US$ 2.0 billion overall financing facility (including rollups of existing debt and purchase consideration) which will allow the Company to finance its operations during the pendency of its Chapter 11 reorganization. In addition to the Colombian government committing to participate in the DIP loan -by providing approximately 30% of the new funds, or 20% of the total DIP financing- we are also very pleased with the positive reception the DIP loan structure has received from third-party institutional investors that, along with existing lenders, are expected to provide a substantial majority of the DIP loan financing.

Based upon the substantial indications of interest received to date, we are confident in our ability to complete the syndication process and finalize documentation within the next week.  We look forward to filing shortly thereafter a motion to approve the financing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which motion will set forth our full DIP financing package, with approval expected during the month of September. The DIP loan, which will be 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) will contain certain conditions precedent to be satisfied prior to drawing those funds.

Air France to increase service to the French Caribbean

Air France has issued this statement:

Air France is increasing its service to the French Caribbean. Starting from December 21, 2020 and for the remainder of the winter season, the company will operate flights between Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) and Fort-de-France (Martinique) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, in addition to its frequencies on departure from Paris-Orly. In total, up to three flights will be operated daily between Paris and each of the two islands.

Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France will thus be connected to the two Air France hubs, giving customers connecting opportunities throughout the company’s short, medium and long-haul network.

Flight schedule as from December 21, 2020.

  • To/from Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe): 21 weekly direct flights:
    • 17 weekly direct flights to Paris-Orly
    • 4 weekly direct flights to Paris-Charles de Gaulle on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
  • To/from Fort-de-France (Martinique): 19 weekly direct flights:
    • 16 weekly direct flights to Paris-Orly
    • 3 weekly direct flights to Paris-Charles de Gaulle on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays

Flights will be operated by Boeing 777 equipped with Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.

Omni Air Boeing 767-300ER suffers a landing gear incident at Bucharest

Omni Air International Boeing 767-300, registered as N423AX, operating as flight OY703 from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bucharest, Romania on August 28 with 49 passengers and 15 crew suffered a left main gear collapse on the roll out.

The aircraft skidded down the runway and all passengers and crew members were evacuated with the emergency chutes. No injuries were reported.

Video:

Omni Air aircraft photo gallery: