Author Archives: Bruce Drum

About Bruce Drum

I have started the ultimate digital photo library of the fascinating world of airliners and airlines. The goal is to have the complete history of all airlines and the various aircraft operated. I have been photographing airplanes since 1965. Join us in this adventure.

SkyWest to receive $233 million through a Payroll Support Program extension under 2021 Appropriations Act

SkyWest, Inc. has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary SkyWest Airlines has entered into a Payroll Support Program Extension Agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department to receive a total of approximately $233 million under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. SkyWest received half of the $233 million today and expects to receive the second half in February 2021. In consideration for the funding, approximately $40 million will be in the form of a ten-year, low interest unsecured term loan, and SkyWest will issue to the U.S. Treasury Department warrants to purchase approximately 98,815 shares of SkyWest common stock at a strike price of $40.41.

The funds received under this Payroll Support Program will be used to pay for the wages, salaries and benefits of thousands of SkyWest Airlines employees. This Program includes certain restrictions similar to the original Payroll Support Program, including limitations on involuntary terminations and furloughs through March 31, 2021, restrictions on the payment of dividends and the repurchase of shares through March 31, 2022, the recall of involuntarily terminated or furloughed employees after Sept. 30 with pay from Dec. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, and certain limitations on executive compensation through October 1, 2022.

Additionally, SkyWest also announced that SkyWest Airlines has entered into an amendment to its Loan and Guaranty Agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department extending the deadline pursuant to which SkyWest Airlines may borrow under the $725 million facility from March 26, 2021 to May 28, 2021. The other terms of the Loan and Guaranty Agreement were not amended and remain in effect.

Federal Aviation Administration adopts stricter unruly passenger policy

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson has signed an order (PDF) directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents.

The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol.

“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Administrator Dickson said.

Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties. Effective immediately, however, the FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members. This policy will be in effect through March 30, 2021.

Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment. This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crew members’ safety functions.

The FAA has initiated more than 1,300 enforcement actions against unruly passengers during the past 10 years, including recent cases for allegedly interfering with and assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to wear masks.

While the FAA does not have regulatory authority over aviation security or no-fly lists, the agency works closely with federal law enforcement and national security partners on any reported security threats that may impact aviation safety.

Watch a video message from Administrator Dickson:

Loganair increases Isle of Man services

Loganair has announced its Summer 2021 schedule from the Isle of Man – stepping up services on existing routes, restoring routes suspended during the pandemic and adding three completely new ones.

The airline – which has maintained the Isle of Man’s only passenger air services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – is responding to demands from customers keen to plan and book ahead for summer travel, in anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines enabling air travel to take place safely and widely once again.

Services to London Heathrow, which started on December 1, 202 as Loganair’s first permanently scheduled service to the UK’s biggest airport after it secured runway slots for the IOM, will increase to double daily flights from March 28, 2021.

Flights to Manchester will increase to two daily from April 1, 2021 and from July 1, 2021 services to Manchester and Liverpool will have a further increase in flight frequency, with Manchester stepping up to four per day and Liverpool to three per day.

Birmingham services, cancelled last year following the demise of previous operator Flybe, will re-start on April 1, 2021 with a four- times a week service which then increases to daily from  May 22, 2021.    Edinburgh services will re-start with three flights each week from April, building to four from May 25, 2021.

New routes from the Isle of Man are to Southampton, with three fights a week from May 26 – ideal for onward connections to the Channel Islands with Loganair’s partner airline Blue Islands, and for those meeting cruise sailings; to Belfast City four times a week from April 1 increasing to six times weekly from May 24; and a seasonal non-stop service linking the Isle of Man with Jersey, flying every Saturday from May 22 until late September.

Loganair is also planning to increase the numbers of seats available across all routes by introducing larger ATR 72 turboprop aircraft, which can carry up to 70 people per flight.  The airline, now the UK’s largest regional operator, employs pilots and cabin crew based in the Isle of Man, and contracts the maintenance of its aircraft to local company M&A Technical Services, which is based at Ronaldsway Airport.

Loganair aircraft photo gallery:

Loganair aircraft slide show:

Air France is awarded 4-star “COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating” by Skytrax

Air France has made this announcement:

Delta reports a GAAP pre-tax loss of $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter

Delta Air Lines today reported financial results for the December quarter and full year 2020 and provided its outlook for the March quarter 2021.  Highlights of the fourth quarter and full year 2020 results, including both GAAP and adjusted metrics, are on page five and are incorporated here.

“Our December quarter results capped the toughest year in Delta’s history.  I want to thank the Delta people who have risen to the occasion, focusing on delivering results for all of our stakeholders by putting our customers at the center of our recovery,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.  “While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation.”

Fourth Quarter Financial Results 

  • Adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.1 billion excludes nearly $1 billion of items directly related to the impact of, and our response to, COVID-19, including charges associated with employee pay and benefit changes, which were offset by the benefit of the CARES Act payroll support program (PSP) grant recognized in the quarter
  • Adjusted operating revenue of $3.5 billion declined 69 percent on 62 percent lower sellable capacity (see Note A) versus the prior year period
  • Total operating expense, which includes $930 million of items described above, decreased $5.2 billion over prior year period.  Adjusted for those items and third-party refinery sales, total operating expense decreased $4.6 billion or 47 percent in the December quarter compared to the prior year period, driven by lower capacity- and revenue-related expenses and strong cost management across the business
  • During the December quarter cash burn (see Note B) averaged $12 million per day, marking an approximate 90 percent reduction in cash burn since late March
  • At the end of 2020, the company had $16.7 billion in liquidity, including cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and undrawn revolving credit facilities

Full Year 2020 Financial Results 

  • Adjusted pre-tax loss of $9.0 billion excludes a net of $6.6 billion of items primarily related to the impact of, and our response to, COVID-19
  • Adjusted operating revenue of $15.9 billion declined 66 percent on 61 percent lower sellable capacity versus the prior year
  • Total operating expense, which includes $4.3 billion of COVID- related and other items, decreased $10.8 billion over prior year.  Adjusted for those items and third-party refinery sales, total operating expense decreased $16.0 billion or 40 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year

Norwegian closes its long-haul network, Gatwick jobs at stake, will focus on Europe and 737s

Norwegian has made a major decision to shut down its long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliner network and concentrate on short-haul operations from Europe with this announcement:

Norwegian’s Board of Directors has outlined a simplified business structure and dedicated short haul route network. With this plan, Norwegian can build a robust and solid company that will attract investors and continue to serve new and existing customers.

Norwegian has long been recognized as an industry leader in low cost travel, winning numerous awards. The company will build on this foundation, focusing on its core Nordics business, operating a European short haul network with narrow body aircraft. The airline will continue to meet its customers’ needs by offering competitive fares across a broad range of domestic routes in Norway, across the Nordics and to key European destinations.

“Our short haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model,” said Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian.

The current plan is to serve these markets with around 50 narrow body aircraft in operation in 2021 and to increase that number to around 70 narrow body aircraft in 2022. Furthermore, Norwegian targets to reduce its debt significantly to around NOK 20 billion and to raise NOK 4 – 5 billion in new capital through a combination of a rights issue to current shareholders, a private placement and a hybrid instrument. The company has received concrete interest in participation in the private placement. Norwegian has recently reinitiated a dialogue with the Norwegian government about possible state participation based on the new business plan.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the entire aviation industry. Travel restrictions and changing government advice continue to negatively influence demand for long haul travel, and Norwegian’s entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since March 2020. Future demand remains highly uncertain. Under these circumstances a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue. The consequence of this decision is that the board of directors of the legal entities employing primarily long haul staff in Italy, France, the UK and the US have contacted insolvency practitioners. Norwegian will continue to assess profitable opportunities as the world adapts and recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

Customers with bookings affected by the future changes in our route network will be contacted directly and will be refunded. The examinership and reconstruction processes undertaken in Ireland and Norway will continue as planned, and the plan presented today is subject to approval by the Examiner and Reconstructor, support from the creditors and subsequently court approval.

Norwegian Air Shuttle aircraft photo gallery:

Norwegian Air Shuttle aircraft slide show:

CDC expands negative COVID-19 test requirement to all air passengers entering the United States

The CDC issued this statement:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States.  Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.

Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants.  With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.

Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections. Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes.

Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”

This order was signed by the CDC Director on January 12, 2021 and will become effective on January 26, 2021.

Congo Airways orders two Embraer E195-E2s

Embraer made this announcement:

Just six months after their first E2 order, Congo Airways has placed a firm order for two E195-E2 jets. This is in addition to their existing two aircraft order for the smaller E190-E2. The four aircraft deal has a total value of USD 272 million at current list prices. This new firm order will be included in Embraer’s 2020 fourth quarter backlog.

Cathay Pacific Cargo develops solution for vaccine distribution

Cathay Pacific Airways made this announcement:

Cathay Pacific Cargo has built on its many years of experience in transporting pharmaceutical shipments to develop a vaccine solution specifically for the fast and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.

Cathay Pacific Director Cargo Tom Owen said: “With our 20 dedicated freighters and cargo bellies of passenger aircraft supporting our extensive freighter network, we stand ready to assist with what will be the biggest humanitarian response to a situation involving civil aviation that anyone has ever seen.”

Ultra Track

Cathay Pacific Cargo is progressively rolling out Ultra Track as a key part of the vaccine solution. The next-generation track-and-trace system monitors information including temperature, GPS location, and humidity, using low-energy Bluetooth readers. This gives shippers and forwarders near real time visibility, and ensures vaccines will remain within their transportation temperature ranges.

Operations Control Center

In addition, shipments using Ultra Track will also be monitored by the newly established Operations Control Centre. Based in Hong Kong, and staffed by dedicated cargo professionals 24/7, the team can instruct ramp and cargo terminal staff to take proactive steps to ensure the various storage requirements of vaccines are maintained.

Owen said: “Ultra Track will allow forwarders to monitor the condition of their vaccine shipments in near real time. It will be progressively rolled out through the first quarter of this year, and we will be offering the service free of charge for any COVID-19 vaccine shipments.”

CEIV Pharma accreditation

The combined approach follows on from an airport-wide recertification of IATA’s CEIV Pharma accreditation (the internationally recognized quality-assurance scheme for pharmaceutical shipments) at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific Cargo, the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal managed by Cathay Pacific Services Limited (CPSL) and ground-handling subsidiary Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS) have all been re-certified, offering a complete level of quality assurance at every stage of the import and tran-shipment journey.

Airport Authority Hong Kong General Manager Aviation Logistics Alaina Shum said: “Hong Kong International Airport advocates and supports the airport community in its CEIV Pharma recertification, which helps to cement its status as the world’s leading and busiest cargo airport.”

The Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is being expanded to offer more temperature controlled capacity. While it is currently able to temporarily hold and transit 6.6 million doses of vaccine a day, there is more to come. Cathay Pacific Cargo’s Owen says: “We have just expanded so that it can handle more than seven million doses, and there will be more cold storage coming online soon. This new cold room storage will be able to handle a further 1.6 million doses.”

“With the vaccine being so valuable and in such limited supply, it’s critical that we get it right at every stage of the journey. We are confident about meeting the challenge, and we stand ready to play our part.”

To read more about Cathay Pacific Cargo’s vaccine-handling capabilities, please click here.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathay Pacific Cargo has been operating a full freighter schedule using its fleet of 14 Boeing 747-8F freighters and six 747-400ERFs (Extended Range Freighter). It has also operated thousands of pairs of cargo-only passenger flights, some with cargo loaded in the passenger cabins, and chartered hundreds of pairs of flights from its all-cargo subsidiary Air Hong Kong to add additional air freight capacity.

Former "Hong Kong Trader" special livery

Above Copyright Photo: Cathay Pacific Airways Cargo Boeing 747-867F B-LJA (msn 39238) ANC (Michael B. Ing). Image: 951742.

Cathay Pacific aircraft slide show:

Jet2 suspends all operations until at least March 25, 2021

Jet2 (Jet2 Holidays has announced it will suspend all operations until at least March 25, 2021 with announcement:

Previously the airline has announced a major expansion for the summer season inclluding 29 destinations from Bristol:

Jet2.com aircraft photo gallery:

Jet2.com aircraft slide show:

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