Monthly Archives: November 2020

Hageland Aviation Services is acquired, Rambler Air is launched

Ascent Global Logistics (the owner of USA Jet Airlines) has announced the acquisition of Alaska-based Hageland Aviation Services, LLC (Ravn Connect) and the launch of Rambler Air, LLC, a new air service provider focused on safe, reliable travel within Alaska. Rambler will serve commuter flights as well as passenger and cargo charters. Service is expected to launch in early 2021 with eight Piper Chieftain Navajos and two Beechcraft 1900Ds. Rambler Air will be headquartered in Anchorage at Lake Hood.

“Rambler Air will provide a much-needed service to Alaskan communities and businesses,” said Tom Stenglein, President and CEO of Ascent Global Logistics. “We enter Alaska with more than four decades of running USA Jet, a 121 and 135 certified airline, in the lower 48 states. We look forward to bringing our track record of safety, operational excellence and reliable service to Alaska.”

Rambler Air is an expansion of Ascent’s Arctic On-Demand service launched earlier this year. Arctic On-Demand is an Alaska-focused air charter brokerage for both cargo and passengers. Covering even the most remote Alaskan locations, Arctic On-Demand delivers pricing visibility across a network of asset-based air cargo and passenger carriers.

Alaska’s economy relies on air services more than any state in the lower 48, making it perfect for Ascent’s proprietary air charter bid-board technology, which powers Arctic On-Demand,” said Chris Jamroz, Executive Chairman of Ascent. “Now supported by our launch of Rambler Air and our acquisition of Hageland Aviation, Ascent will have one of the most comprehensive and customer-focused air offerings in Alaska. This is the first acquisition for Ascent as a stand-alone company, and we hope to make many more like this.”

“With the impact of COVID-19, potential capacity in Alaska air service is down 45 percent. Rambler Air will be a critical part of the solution in meeting future demand of the Alaskan market,” said Rebecca Clark, Managing Director for Arctic On-Demand.

“We are planning on creating up to 45 professional aviation jobs in Alaska,” said newly-appointed Director of Operations of Rambler Air, Luke Hickerson. “We have assembled a team of Alaska’s best in aviation with a passion for serving the unique transportation needs of our state. This is a market we are investing in for the long haul.”

Preparing for a Vaccine: American cargo operations conducting trial flights from Miami to South America

American Airlines made this announcement:

The American Airlines Cargo team is preparing for its critical role in transporting the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine once approved. In mid-November, American’s cargo operation began conducting trial flights, in conjunction with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, from Miami to South America on its Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The trial flights stimulate the conditions required for the COVID-19 vaccine to stress test the thermal packaging and operational handling process that will ultimately ensure it remains stable as it moves across the globe.

While the situation will be unique, the task is not new to American — the airline’s cargo operation has been shipping life-saving medicine for more than eight decades. Since the beginning of the pandemic, American has been transporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits and pharmaceuticals to help battle the coronavirus. As a recognized expert in cold chain logistics, American has been involved in transporting components for Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials, including quickly and safely carrying test vaccines and specimens to research facilities around the world.

“A COVID vaccine is essential for everyone’s health and well-being and for our nation’s recovery.” said American Airlines Cargo President Jessica Tyler. “The American Airlines team is working collaboratively with cargo, pharmaceutical and federal partners so we are ready to safely and quickly transport an approved vaccine. Despite the significant challenges the airline industry is facing, we’re working night and day to put our greatest strengths to use during this time of need — our network, our aircraft and our incredible team.”

Many vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, need special handling to keep a consistently cold temperature throughout their journey. American has an established network of facilities and team members who specialize in temperature-critical shipments and are familiar with handling the variety of requirements that different pharmaceuticals may need.

This level of expert care has earned American the International Air Transport Association’s prestigious Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) certification. The CEIV certification is given to air carriers and players in the air cargo supply chain that have established the tools, procedures and staffing to ensure life sciences products are properly handled and arrive at their destination with full efficacy.

Vaccine shipments can be sent in “active containers” with built-in temperature controls that regulate and monitor shipments during transport, or “passive containers” that are cooled with cold packs or dry ice in an enclosed system designed to keep the product cold for the life of its journey.

American’s global network of temperature-controlled facilities provide a variety of climate types for short-term pharmaceutical storage and expert handling while the vaccines are in the airline’s care. From the time a shipment arrives at the airline’s facility, it is tracked throughout its journey on the ground and from American’s Cargo Control Center, located within the airline’s Integrated Operations Control in Fort Worth.

In 2019, Cargo operations began an overhaul of IT infrastructure to ensure better tracking and management of shipments and enable enhanced proactive monitoring capabilities to troubleshoot for potential issues before they occur. Between these technology enhancements and American’s experts on the ground, all cargo shipped on American flights, including sensitive life sciences products, is closely tracked.

The preparations taking place are part of American’s ongoing commitment to its customers to do all it can to keep the world’s goods moving in a difficult year. The commercial aviation industry, like many, has been hit hard by the pandemic. According to Airlines for America, airline passenger volumes are down 50% and U.S. carriers have one-third of their fleet idled due to weak demand. In response, the airline launched cargo-only flying in March to help continue to move food, medical supplies and other essential goods.

Photo Below: A Boeing 777-200 aircraft with containers ready to be loaded in the cargo compartment at Miami International Airport. American’s cargo operation has recently used this type of aircraft and cargo containers for its trial flights from Miami to South America in preparation for transporting the COVID-19 vaccine once approved.

A Boeing 777-200 aircraft with containers ready to be loaded in the cargo compartment at Miami International Airport. American’s cargo operation has recently used this type of aircraft and cargo containers for its trial flights from Miami to South America in preparation for transporting the COVID-19 vaccine once approved.

A Boeing 777-200 aircraft with containers ready to be loaded in the cargo compartment at Miami International Airport. American’s cargo operation has recently used this type of aircraft and cargo containers for its trial flights from Miami to South America in preparation for transporting the COVID-19 vaccine once approved.

QANTAS to outsource around 2,000 ground handling jobs at 10 airports

QANTAS Airways has made this announcement:

QANTAS has notified around 2,000 employees that it will move to outsource ground handling operations at 10 airports across Australia as it works to recover from the COVID crisis.

In August, the airline announced its reasons for needing to restructure its ground handling operations, which includes baggage handling and aircraft cleaning, and commenced a review of external bids from specialist ground handlers and in-house bids from employees and their representatives.

The bids were required to meet the following objectives:

  • Reducing the overall cost of ground handling operations (as QANTAS anticipated it could save approximately $100 million annually, based on pre-COVID levels of flying, through the use of third-party providers)
  • Avoiding large spending on ground handling equipment such as aircraft tugs and baggage loaders ($80 million over five years)
  • Better matching our ground handling services, and their cost, with fluctuating levels of demand.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) submitted a bid on behalf of employees in accordance with terms in the enterprise agreement. Teams from some individual airports submitted local proposals. Unfortunately, none of these bids met the objectives.

QANTAS granted three separate extensions to the original deadline for the bid following requests by the TWU, doubling the total period to 12 weeks.

Their resulting national bid was, by their own admission, ‘theoretical’ with no roadmap of how projected cost savings would be achieved. For instance, the proposal resulted in 1 million surplus labour hours – or around 900 roles – but no details on how to deal with that surplus.  It also did not meet the objectives relating to capital expenditure on ground services equipment nor matching the ground handling services (and their cost) to fluctuating levels of demand.

While proposals from employees at various ports did include detailed plans that would save around $18 million, there remained a significant gap compared to what was offered by third party providers.

A number of external bidders, some of whom already provide these services at 55 airports across Australia, were able to meet all of the objectives, including reducing annual costs by approximately $103 million. The preferred bidders are being notified today and, subject to consultation and finalising contract terms, transition is intended to occur in the first quarter of 2021.

As required under its enterprise agreement, QANTAS will now consult with its ground handling employees and their representatives on the next steps. Affected employees will be entitled to a redundancy package and given support to transition to new jobs outside the business. It’s expected that there will be a range of opportunities for some impacted team members with suppliers in the sector as travel demand gradually recovers.

Jetstar has already transitioned its ground handling operations at six airports to external suppliers – a decision that was announced at the same time QANTAS announced its review process.

In August, we also announced a separate proposal to outsource crew bus services in-and-around Sydney Airport, potentially affecting around 50 employees. This review process is ongoing with a decision expected before the end of the year.

This announcement follows a $2.7 billion statutory loss for the Group in FY20 due to COVID-19 and associated border restrictions. Further significant losses are projected in FY21 due to a drop of revenue in excess of $10 billion. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the QANTAS Group has taken on in excess of $1.5 billion in additional debt.

This announcement unfortunately brings job losses across the Group as a result of the COVID crisis and associated border closures to around 8,500 of its 29,000 pre-COVID workforce.

Comments from Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David:

“This is another tough day for QANTAS, particularly for our ground handling teams and their families. We thank every one of them for their professionalism and contribution over the years supporting our customers and operations.

“Unfortunately, COVID has turned aviation upside down. Airlines around the world are having to make dramatic decisions in order to survive and the damage will take years to repair.

“While there has been some good news recently with domestic borders, international travel isn’t expected to return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2024. We have a massive job ahead of us to repay debt and we know our competitors are aggressively cutting costs to emerge leaner.

“The TWU’s in-house bid claimed that significant savings could be made but it failed to outline sufficient practical detail on how this might be achieved, despite us requesting this information multiple times throughout the process. Even with the involvement of a large accounting firm, the bid falls well short of what the specialist external providers were able to come up with.

“We have used these specialist ground handlers at many Australian airports for decades and they’ve proven they can deliver a safe and reliable service more efficiently than it’s currently done in-house. This isn’t a reflection on our people but it is a reflection of economies of scale and the urgent need we have because of COVID to unlock these efficiencies.”

 

QANTAS RESPONSE TO THE TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION’S CLAIMS

 

UNION CLAIM – These specialist ground handlers are unsafe.

FACT – This is not true and ignores the fact they have been safely supporting Qantas’ operations (as well as other airlines) at airports around the country, in some cases for decades. Outsourced ground handlers are required to abide by Qantas Group policies and procedures. The data shows that external ground handlers are no less safe and in some cases their safety performance is better. Take aircraft loading, which is a core part of what ground handlers do. An average of 0.4 aircraft damage events per 1000 flights for outsourced operations compared with 0.8 for Qantas staffed airports.

UNION CLAIM – The in-house bid process is a sham process.

FACT – The TWU requested that this process be added to the enterprise bargaining agreement back in 2012 and it has been approved by the union and employees in two subsequent agreements. At the request of the TWU, the deadline for the bid was extended on three separate occasions, allowing a total period of over 12 weeks.

Over the past three months we have provided the TWU with access to extensive data, met with them on nine occasions and thoroughly considered and costed their proposals. 23 employees were released on full pay to prepare the in-house bid.

Extracts from 2012 Workplace Determination:

[68] The TWU seeks the insertion of what is described as “the ACTU Protocol” – a revised version of a protocol dealing with contracting out and outsourcing developed first in 1996.


[69] The TWU contends that the key feature of the clause is the requirement to provide an opportunity for employees to prepare an in-house bid to demonstrate that savings can be generated without outsourcing.

UNION CLAIM – This is really about lowering workers’ wages and conditions.

FACT – This is not true. This has never been about employee terms and conditions – it is about overall efficiencies. Specialist ground handlers charge on a ‘per aircraft turn’ basis, which costs us around 40 per cent less than doing the work in house. This is due to their economies of scale and the fact that they can spread overheads and equipment costs over the many airlines they serve.

UNION CLAIM – QANTAS has violated the intent of the JobKeeper scheme, and abused taxpayers money. They should pay it back.

FACT – The lion’s share of Government support we’ve received has been through JobKeeper, which has been a lifeline for our employees who were stood down. We have fully complied with the spirit and purpose of JobKeeper – including recognising when jobs aren’t coming back and making those jobs redundant.

The rest of the government support was used to maintain critical domestic and international air services – which in turn generated paid work for our people.

The TWU’s demand that QANTAS pay back government support such as JobKeeper would require us to claw it back from their members – which makes no sense.

In June, while the majority of our employees were receiving JobKeeper, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was obvious that jobs would have to go: “These jobs have been lost because of the coronavirus. This is the COVID-19 recession. And for a business like QANTAS, that is about flying planes around the world, when you can’t do that, that has an obvious impact.”

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

QANTAS to recommence direct flights from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast

QANTAS Airways has made this announcement:

QANTAS will recommence direct flights from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast following the announcement of the border opening between Queensland and Victoria.

From December 17, 2020, the flying kangaroo will operate a daily service with passengers arriving on the Sunshine Coast at lunchtime.

The seasonal service will run to January 31, 2021 and will be the first time in three years that Qantas has flown on the route. The flights will be operated by a two-class Boeing 717 aircraft, offering more than 1500 seats each week. The airline will look to extend the service if there is strong demand.

Photo: QANTAS Link.

QANTAS will also restart flights from Sydney to Maroochydore on December 1, 2020 with five services a week, increasing to daily flights from December 18, 2020. Jetstar will also recommence services to Maroochydore operating up 44 flights a week from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

QANTAS also last week launched a new route between Sunshine Coast and Canberra, operating three times per week – the first time QANTAS landed in the Sunshine Coast since March.

The Aviation Recovery Fund has so far supported 18 services to get back into the air to generate more than $66.1 million in overnight visitor spending for regional Queensland economies and support 536 jobs.

 

Condor adds back the Dominican Republic and the Maldives

Condor Flugdienst has made this announcement:

Germany’s most popular leisure airline is once again flying to the Dominican Republic and the Maldives: From December 18, 2020, Condor will take off from Frankfurt three times a week to Punta Cana and once a week to Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo.

The Maldives will also be included in the program again with two weekly flights from Frankfurt. The connections to the Canary Islands will be increased: From Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich, Condor will take vacationers to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Tenerife and Madeira.

Protective measures during the flight

On board all Condor flights, mouth-nose protection is mandatory for guests and the cabin crew. In addition, service and also boarding and disembarkation processes are adapted in accordance with the regulations. Customers are requested to use the online check-in. This ensures maximum protection during the entire journey. On site, guests are asked to behave prudently and in accordance with hygiene regulations throughout their stay and to take into account the entry requirements of the respective destination and the regulations on their return to Germany.

Connections from Frankfurt, from December 18, 2020

Varadero: Tuesday, Friday, Saturday

Punta Cana: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday

Santo Domingo: Sunday

Maledives: Monday, Saturday

Condor aircraft photo gallery:

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Air Canada provides update on cargo business, will convert 767-300ERs to freighters

Air Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Berry as Vice President, Cargo effective January 1, 2021.  Mr. Berry will be based at Air Canada’s Montreal headquarters, and will report directly to Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Air Canada today also provided an update on its cargo business and the next steps in its strategic plan as the airline continues to adapt rapidly to evolving market opportunities. To date, Air Canada has operated more than 3,500 all-cargo flights globally, and the airline is now finalizing plans to convert several of its owned Boeing 767-300ER aircraft to freighters to fully participate in global cargo commercial opportunities.

The carrier has successfully concluded collective agreement amendment with its pilots represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA), for contractual changes to enable Air Canada to competitively operate dedicated cargo aircraft in the cargo marketplace, which have now been ratified by the Air Canada pilots.

Mr. Berry comes to Air Canada from Alaska Airlines’ wholly owned subsidiary McGee Air Services, where he was President with oversight for all aspects of aviation services ground handling, aircraft grooming, airport mobility services, check-in and gate services. From 2012 until June 2019, he led Alaska Airlines’ cargo business, with direct responsibility for all aspects of cargo operations and compliance including revenue growth.  Prior to joining Alaska Airlines, he held operational positions with increasing responsibility at other air cargo handlers and operators.

Mr. Berry holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster Schoolof Business, in addition to earning a Bachelor’s degree in Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management from Central Washington University, and an Associate’s degree in Business and Commerce from South Seattle College.

Volga-Dnepr grounds its 8 Antonov An-124s

According to The LoadStar Volga-Dnepr has decided to “put safety first” and made the decision to ground its eight Antonov An-124s, following a recent incident at Novosibirsk.

On November 13, 2020 the airline issued this statement about the recent incident:

Volga-Dnepr’s An-124-100 ramp freighter aircraft has made an emergency landing in Tolmachevo Airport (Novosibirsk, Russia). The captain took the decision to return to the airport of departure due to technical issues and the plane rolled off the runway upon landing. No crew members were injured.

The plane was operating a charter flight from Seoul (South Korea) to Vienna (Austria) with a tech stop in Novosibirsk (Russia) with 84 tons of automotive spare parts. The airlines’ technical support crew with essential equipment immediately flew to Novosibirsk to evaluate and rectify any consequences.

After the emergency landing, all crew members were examined by medical personnel and most importantly none were injured. At the moment we are cooperating with the aviation authorities and Novosibirsk airport with respect to this event and will thoroughly analyze the situation accordingly’, – highlighted Igor Aksenov, General Director of Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

"25 Years" logo

Above Copyright Photo: Volga-Dnepr Airlines Antonov An-124-100 RA-82081 (msn 9773052062165) (25 Years) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 947725.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines aircraft slide show:

TUI to sell Corsair to a consortium of investors

Corsair International has made this announcement (translated from French):

An agreement was signed between Corsair, the State and a consortium of investors, presenting a collective financing solution allowing Corsair to overcome the crisis and ensure the sustainability of its activity.

 

The transaction should be finalized by the end of the year after approval by the Commercial Court of Créteil. This agreement, which provides for a global financial contribution of nearly 300 million euros, should allow Corsair, in the context of the unprecedented crisis affecting the air transport sector, to restructure and develop by implementing a strategic project. ambitious, in line with its positioning as a major player in overseas services.

 

The State thus confirms its desire to support French air transport, to preserve employment in a sector particularly affected by the crisis and to maintain a sufficient number of players on overseas services.

 

As part of this transaction, Intro Aviation and the TUI group will sell their entire stake in the capital of Corsair.

 

The consortium of investors, which becomes 100% shareholder, will play a decisive role in the success of Corsair.

 

On the initiative of two entrepreneurs, Eric Kourry and Patrick Vial-Collet, a consortium was quickly formed, bringing together entrepreneurs, particularly from the tourism and hotel sectors, based in the West Indies, Reunion Island and Guyana, as well as as local authorities.

 

Fully aware of the essential role of air transport for the economic and tourist development of the overseas departments and regions (DROM), the consortium acquires all of Corsair’s capital in order to support it in a restructuring project and development, and thus allow the maintenance of a sufficient number of actors on the services of the DROM.

 

Thanks to the very strong local footprint of its members, the consortium will very quickly help strengthen Corsair’s position in the Domian markets. Indeed, significant synergies in support of the development of the company could be implemented, notably with additional business contributions.

 

Corsair now has the means to weather the crisis and pursue the implementation of its strategic plan.

 

The financial support provided for in the framework of the protocol gives Corsair a solid financial basis to ensure its sustainability. With a global financial contribution of nearly 300 million euros to strengthen the company’s equity and cash flow, Corsair can continue to manage the crisis with confidence, continue to improve its level of competitiveness and prepare to seize all opportunities at the time of recovery.

 

The approach to reducing fixed costs has already made it possible to obtain very significant results. The signing of new open-ended agreements replacing the 134 pre-existing agreements and uses, in addition to cost reductions, will simplify operations and improve performance. The social partners have mobilized to bring the new agreements to fruition as soon as possible, in a responsible approach and committed to a sustainable business project.

 

Corsair can now continue with the implementation of the strategic project to become THE overseas company The fleet renewal and modernization project already underway is confirmed, with 5 A330-900 NEOs on firm orders. Thus, 3 NEOs will join the fleet in April, May and June 2021. The 4th NEO should be delivered in December 2021. Corsair will therefore operate a fleet of 9 aircraft from December 2021. In June 2022, the 5th NEO will replace the last A330-200 still present in the fleet which will then be considerably younger with an average age of 5 years.

 

The performance in terms of environmental protection will be significantly improved, thanks to a new engine for the NEOs, which reduces carbon emissions and noise pollution. Aware of its social and environmental responsibility, Corsair is thus rapidly modernizing its fleet and contributing to the energy transition of air transport.

 

In order to develop its position as an overseas airline, Corsair will concentrate on services from the overseas territories. In addition to strengthening the current services (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Mauritius, Abidjan and Montreal), an expansion of the network is planned with the opening of new destinations including Mayotte from December 11, 2020.

 

Corsair International aircraft photo gallery:

Air France is tripling capacity on domestic network for the holiday season

Air France made this announcement:

 

Air France is making sure its customers can travel in mainland France and the overseas territories during the holiday season.

During this period, Air France will be tripling capacity on its domestic network compared to the current capacity during lockdown, reaching up to 55% of the flight schedule operated during the same period in 2019.

This increase in frequencies will concern services on departure from Paris as well as inter-regional routes, with the resumption of Air France routes suspended since lockdown, such as Bordeaux-Marseille, Bordeaux-Nice, Lille-Marseille, Lille-Toulouse, Lille-Nice, Lyon-Biarritz, Paris-Charles de Gaulle-Biarritz, Paris-Charles de Gaulle-Rennes, Paris-Orly-Pau, Rennes-Toulouse, Strasbourg-Toulouse and Strasbourg-Nice.

From December 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021, Air France will also operate 13 seasonal domestic routes: Biarritz-Nice, Bordeaux-Lille, Brest-Toulon, Caen-Marseille, Caen-Nice, Strasbourg-Marseille, Strasbourg-Biarritz, Strasbourg-Brest, Strasbourg-Pau, Rennes-Marseille, Rennes-Nice, Paris CDG-Ajaccio and Paris CDG-Bastia.

Capacity to the overseas territories will also be increased on departure from Paris-Orly to Cayenne, Pointe-à-Pitre, Fort-de-France and Saint-Denis de La Réunion. As of 14 December, Air France will operate flights to Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, in addition to the services from Paris-Orly, providing connections to the entire Air France network.

Before planning a trip, Air France strongly encourages its customers to familiarize themselves with the current formalities, particularly with regard to COVID tests, by consulting the airfrance.traveldoc.aero website. Air France reminds that the presentation of a negative COVID test is currently mandatory for all travel to the French Overseas Territories.

As the safety of its customers and staff is its absolute priority, Air France is maintaining the Air France Protect health & hygiene measures, with reinforced cleaning of aircraft before each flight, temperature checks during board on flight to certain destinations, and the compulsory wearing of masks throughout the flight.

To ensure its customers travel in complete peace of mind, Air France is offering fully flexible fares, with the possibility of postponing or cancelling their trip at no extra charge for any reason, and without having to provide proof.*

 

* For all Air France flights until 31 March 2021:
–    Modifications: possibility of changing the date and/or destination of your ticket regardless of the fare conditions until the day of departure of the 1st flight.  If the price of the new ticket is higher, the fare difference will be charged to the customer.
–    Refunds: possibility of requesting a ticket refund up to the day of departure of the 1st flight. If the fare conditions of your ticket do not allow a refund, a credit voucher valid for one year will be issued, the refund of which can be requested at any time.