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.

Delta is blocking middle seats, pausing automatic advance upgrades and more to enable social distancing

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

In the latest move to ensure we’re keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta is taking steps to help customers and employees practice social distancing on the ground and in the air in keeping with current health-expert recommendations.

Protecting our customers 

Starting April 13 through May 31, the following temporary changes will go into effect to further promote a safe flying experience:

  • We are blocking middle seats in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select across all flights. When booking your future seat selection via the Fly Delta App or online, middle seats will be shown as unavailable.
  • We are reducing the number of customers on each flight.
  • We are pausing automatic, advance Medallion Complimentary Upgrades. These will now be processed at the gate – still in priority order – to allow gate agents to determine how to best seat customers while considering social distancing and aircraft weight-and-balance restrictions.
  • Customers who want to practice social distancing can explore options via the Fly Delta App or at delta.com. Customers who prefer to be seated directly next to travel companions and family members or needing additional assistance should contact Reservations ahead of travel or talk to a Delta agent upon arriving at the gate.

In addition to transforming cleanliness across aircraft and airports to deliver our new Delta Clean standard for the long term, Delta people have already taken the following steps over the last few weeks to help customers practice social distancing:

  • Streamlining food and beverage service on board all U.S. domestic and international flights to decrease touch points between customers and crew.
  • Boarding customers 10 at a time, reminding them to add extra space as they board, and working with customers to find a new seat within their cabin if needed and as space allows.
  • Connecting with customers onboard after the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet, to help them find a new seat while complying with weight-and-balance restrictions.
  • Extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel with us for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room for changes.

Safety requires that customers sit close to their assigned seat 

An aircraft’s safe operation requires a balanced distribution of weight inside the cabin. To balance needs of aircraft weight and balance with the desire of customers to practice social distancing, customers will need to be seated within the same class of service and within three rows (in front or behind) of their assigned seat.

Protecting Delta people 

Keeping our people safe helps keep our customers safe. That’s why we continue to take steps to encourage social distancing, when possible, and we remain in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and local health organizations to make necessary adjustments across our business. Customers will notice some of these steps.

A few of the ways we’re taking care of our people include:

  • Offering paid protection for employees who meet the CDC’s criteria of being at higher risk for severe illness so they can stay home from work without worry.
  • Encouraging Delta people to wear a personal cloth face covering or mask at work in accordance to CDC recommendation, as well as providing face masks to employees interacting with ill customers, using sources that will not impact the critical needs of healthcare workers.
  • Encouraging employees without operational critical roles to work from home.
  • Expanding temperature screenings to locations across our system to protect employees in Delta workplaces.
  • Temporarily blocking seats around jump seats, where flight attendants are often seated, to allow additional distance between crew members. This is in addition to seating crew members in the cabin to allow for social distancing on transoceanic flights and where jump seats are located side-by-side on select aircraft, effective by April 15.
  • Providing hand sanitizer in work stations and lounges, offering sanitizing wipes and gloves on board and cleaning flight decks daily as part of an enhanced flight deck cleaning program.
  • Using the same electrostatic spraying – or “fogging” – that we use across our aircraft to administer a safe, high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant that is highly effective against many communicable diseases, including coronaviruses, at all Reservations & Customer Engagement Centers by April 11.
  • Developing workstations to help Delta TechOps teams with operationally critical roles practice social distancing, as well as assigning specific airport areas to limit social contact and help avoid meetings in jet bridges and other areas where people gather.
  • Providing our Airport Customer Service team with protective gloves and masks, along with readily available hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces in high-traffic customer and employee areas.  

Delta aircraft photo gallery:

JetBlue consolidates operations in five metro areas

JetBlue Airways today announced it will temporarily consolidate operations in five major metropolitan areas in the U.S between April 15 and June 10. The revised schedules are aimed at reducing excess flying during a time of unprecedented low demand for air travel while maintaining a critical level of service across the airline’s network for those who absolutely must fly.

“We face new challenges every day and can’t hesitate to take the steps necessary to reduce our costs amidst dramatically falling demand so we can emerge from this unprecedented time as a strong company for our customers and crewmembers,” said Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning, JetBlue.

Effective April 15 through June 10, JetBlue will consolidate its operations in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C. with flights operating at one or two airports in each metro area.

Consolidated Service

Temporary Suspension

Typical daily departures

Planned average daily departures for April

 Boston

Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)

T. F. Green International Airport (PVD)

180

28

 Los Angeles

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Long Beach Airport (LGB)

Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), Ontario International Airport (ONT)

44

5

 New York

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Westchester County Airport (HPN), Stewart International Airport (SWF)

215

30

 San Francisco

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

San Jose International Airport (SJC)

19

2

 Washington

Washington National Airport (DCA)

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

34

5

JetBlue also intends to file an exemption request with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to temporarily suspend flying at other airports where the airline typically operates only a handful of daily flights and where current demand does not support JetBlue service.

As previously announced, JetBlue has reduced flying network-wide by 80% per day in April. Customers whose flights have been canceled will be notified via email by the airline’s Customer Support team for rebooking options on other JetBlue flights or the choice of a refund or JetBlue credit for future travel.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery:

Air Canada announces its intention to adopt the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for the benefit of its 36,000 Canadian-based employees

Air Canada made this announcement:

On March 30, 2020, as part of an overall cost reduction program, Air Canada announced that its workforce in Canada will be temporarily reduced by approximately 50 per cent, or 16,500 jobs, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the imposition of global travel restrictions.

On April 1, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) in order to help employers keep and/or return Canadian-based employees to payrolls for the Program Term of March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020 in response to challenges posed by COVID-19. Details of the CEWS are still outstanding, but are intended to generally reimburse employers suffering revenue declines exceeding 30 per cent, which is the case for Air Canada. As a result of the crisis, Air Canada has abruptly reduced its seat capacity by 85 to 90 per cent and is incurring significant revenue losses. Any near-term recovery is reliant on the lifting of domestic and international travel restrictions and return of passenger traffic.

Following an analysis of publicly available information on the CEWS, discussions with Department of Finance officials on certain questions of interpretation, and subject to its adoption into law substantially as announced, Air Canada intends to adopt the CEWS for the benefit of its 36,000 Canadian-based employee workforce. Air Canada’s intention to adopt the CEWS has also received the support of all of its Canadian-based unions: ACPA, CALDA, CUPE, IAMAW and Unifor.

As Air Canada (including subsidiaries Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Vacations) has suffered a drop in consolidated revenues of more than 30 per cent and expects to continue to do so for the Program Term, it will apply for the CEWS retroactively to March 15, 2020 and retain or return affected employees to its payroll for the Program Term.

In addition to the temporary workforce reductions, other measures implemented by Air Canada include:

  • A company-wide cost reduction and capital deferral program, now estimated to be at least $750 million for the year, increased from the previous target of $500 million.
  • Drawing down operating lines of credit of approximately $1 billion, to provide additional liquidity.
  • Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Michael Rousseau, Air Canada’s Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer, have agreed to forgo 100 per cent of their salary. Senior Executives will forgo between 25 per cent to 50 per cent of their salary while members of Air Canada’s Board of Directors have agreed to a 25 per cent reduction. All other Air Canada managers will have their salaries reduced 10 per cent for the entire second quarter.
  • Air Canada suspended its share repurchase program in early March 2020.

“The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is an extremely important program to help employees and employers during this time of crisis, and as one of Canada’s largest employers most affected by COVID-19, we want to acknowledge the leadership of the Government of Canada in introducing it,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada.

“While our seat capacity and operations have decreased by more than 90 per cent overnight, we are trying to keep as many of our employees as possible during the crisis and this measure will certainly help. Depending on wage levels, many furloughed employees will get a somewhat higher amount under CEWS than they would otherwise receive from Employment Insurance payments plus they will maintain their health insurance and other benefits and stay more connected to our company during the Program Period. Once the crisis passes and passenger demand increases, we look forward to returning as many employees as possible to active status as we resume normal operations,” concluded Mr. Rovinescu.

Air Canada aircraft photo gallery:

The quiet end of Germanwings

The Germanwings brand will again return to the history bin. The second version of Germanwings is being finally dismantled and will be shut down as a cost-saving measure.

On April 7, 2020, the Lufthansa Group announced a series of measures to deal with the loss of demand due to coronavirus crisis that included the shutting down of Germanwings (2nd).

As previously reported, Lufthansa Group issued this short statement:

“In addition, the implementation of Eurowings objective of bundling flight operations into only one unit, which was defined before the crisis, will now be accelerated. Germanwings flight operations will be discontinued.”

The subsidiary lost its 4U airline code in March 2018 as it adopted the Eurowings EW code.

In 2019 the parent stated the Germanwings AOC would also be abandoned.

Germanwings has been operating for Eurowings under the Eurowings brand with 15 Airbus A319s.

The airline has been kept on life support due to different collective labor agreements. Employees at Eurowings make less money than Germanwings employees. The fate of the Germanwings employees is still not clear at this time.

The brand never really recovered from the tragic crash of D-AIPX on March 24, 2015.

Above Copyright Photo: Rainer Bexten. Eurowings and one Germanwings (and others) parked at Dusseldorf.

Germanwings aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines prepares operations for time after the coronavirus crisis, does not expect things to return to normal for three years

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

Demand of 25-50% expected for summer 2020
Conversations on further support package underway
Controlled start-up and realignment are being prepared

Due to local and global travel restrictions, Austrian Airlines last week extended the suspension of regular flight operations until May 3, 2020. The approximately 7,000 employees are currently on short-time work. The Austrian Federal Government announced that complete freedom to travel cannot be expected to come back soon.

Austrian Airlines currently assumes that it will have 25-50% of the demand in summer 2020 compared to 2019. Austrian also anticipates a significant reduction in demand for 2021 and the “pre-corona level” will probably not be reached until 2023 at the earliest. Accordingly, the red-white-red airline is preparing for a reorientation and adaptation of the company to the changed travel behavior.

Conversations are already ongoing with the Austrian government, the owner Lufthansa and the social partners in order to prepare the new start after the crisis.

Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech commented: “The world we will be flying into will be a different one. People will travel again, but the economy, tourism and passenger needs will have changed after the coronavirus crisis. We will align our company to master this challenge.”

This realignment includes a reduction in the size of the fleet and consistent restructuring. The extent to which this will take place has not yet been finally defined and also depends on the further development of the crisis. “Our goal remains to maintain as many flight connections and as many jobs as possible”, says the Austrian CEO.

Austrian Airlines intends to continue operating the Vienna hub with its short, medium and long-haul routes: “We will do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal. That’s why the motto we set at the beginning of the crisis remains valid: The current shutdown is not a ‘Good Bye’ but a ‘See you later’”, adds CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Wizz Air suspends flight from Romania to the United Kingdom

Wizz Air has made this announcement:

Wizz Air has announced on April 5 that has suspended its routes between Romania and Great Britain, Switzerland and The Netherlands starting from the April 5 until the April 18. The measure is due to new travel restrictions imposed by Romanian authorities on all flights from Romania to these countries in the efforts to limit the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the restrictions from Romania and all over Europe, the routes to Belgium, Austria, Spain, France and Germany remain suspended until the April 30.