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LATEST NEWS

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

American carriers ramp-up safety measures as travelers start returning to the skies

Both JetBlue and United Airlines have announced new safety measures that will be put in place for passengers using their airlines in a bid to restore confidence in air travel.

With the re-opening if U.S. states, an increase in domestic travel is anticipated and green shoots of a recovery from a pandemic which has seen global air travel decimated, sprouting, there is likely to be a spike in air travel numbers over the extended U.S. holiday weekend and Memorial Day on Monday.

Though U.S. airlines have drastically cut their schedules and number of operational flights, there are reports that some flights have been operating at 70% capacity. However, a number of recent social media posts, which have gone ‘viral’, showing overcrowded planes and little sign of any ‘social distancing’ – a practice that is admittedly difficult to perform in such an enclosed space and the cabin of an aircraft – have had a further negative effect.

JetBlue has made it clear that it will ‘block’ a number of seats on all domestic flights up until July 6, crew members’ temperatures will be checked, and cabins will be disinfected between flights through the use of electrostatic fogging. United Airlines has vowed to cap capacity at 60% up to the end of June, while Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, has also confirmed the carrier will also limit capacity to 60% or below.

European air and health regulators have now issued new guidelines for safe air travel, though these do not require any temperature checks. The guidelines recommend the wearing of masks and barring people who are neither traveling nor working from entering airport terminals, except in rare cases.

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Universal Avionics restructures executive team

Universal Avionics (UA) has announced the restructuring of its executive team with Gil Rivnai appointed as Vice President of Engineering and Marc Bouliane’s previous role as Vice President of Business Development expanded to include Marketing and Services.

“We are focused on uniting, extracting synergies, and leveraging our competencies throughout the entire organization,” said Dror Yahav, UA Chief Executive Officer. “The restructuring of our executive team was an important step in our effort to align the organization to achieve more innovation, product designs, and overall efficiency,” he added.

UA also announced the departure of Dan Reida, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Support.

Virgin Orbit makes inflight connection with Panasonic Avionics

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) has been selected by Virgin Orbit to provide inflight connectivity for its airborne rocket launch platform.

Panasonic’s latest generation high speed inflight connectivity system has been installed on Cosmic Girl, the modified Boeing 747-400 that serves as the carrier aircraft for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system. Virgin Orbit is currently undergoing final rehearsals for an orbital launch demonstration expected soon.

The inflight connectivity service will enable Virgin Orbit to monitor the health of the launch system over land and sea. The high bandwidth capacity of Panasonic’s connectivity network will ensure Virgin Orbit’s mission control center can quickly and easily communicate with the rocket prior to launch.

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easyJet starts flying again from June 15

easyJet will resume some flights on June 15. Services will be operating from London Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Belfast, and Isle of Manin the UK. In addition, flying will resume in France from Nice, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon and Lille, as well as from Geneva in Switzerland, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain.

Flying will principally be on domestic routes alongside a minimal number of international routes. The airline expects to increase flying as customer demand continues to build and restrictions are relaxed. During the lockdown period the fleet has been grounded the aircraft have been maintained in a flight ready condition to enable the airline to resume flights quickly at the right time.

A new range of additional measures will be in place to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of all customers and crew onboard. These include enhanced aircraft disinfection for easyJet aircraft; customers, cabin and ground crew will be required to wear masks; there will also initially be no food service onboard flights, all of which operate on a short-haul network.

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ACI and IATA outline roadmap for aviation industry restart

Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have called on governments to ensure any new measures introduced for airports and airlines in the wake of
COVID-19 are supported by scientific evidence and are consistent across the world.

The aviation sector has been brought to a standstill and a balanced and effective restart and recovery depends on collaboration among the key participants in the global aviation ecosystem.

ACI and IATA have jointly issued a paper laying out a pathway for restarting the aviation industry - Safely Restarting Aviation - ACI and IATA Joint Approach. Airlines and airports have cooperated to build a roadmap for resuming operations which reassures the travelling public that health and safety
remain the overall priorities.

The joint approach proposes a layered approach of measures across the entire passenger journey to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at airports and onboard aircraft, and to prevent aviation becoming a meaningful source of international re-infection. Such measures should be globally consistent and subject to continued review, improvement, and removal when no longer required, to ensure an even recovery.

ACI and IATA are both central members the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) being led by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). CART enables the collaboration - among governments and between governments and industry -that is vital to
ensure the harmonization and consistency of measures that are essential to restoring air connectivity and passenger confidence in air travel.

“Airports and airlines have come together with ICAO and the wider aviation industry to address the biggest challenge ever faced by commercial aviation in restarting a global industry while continuing to
halt the spread of COVID-19,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “There is currently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel but we believe a globally-consistent, outcome-based approach represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel.”

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JetBlue continues commitment to blocking middle seats in new ‘Safety from the Ground Up’ program

JetBlue will extend through the July 4 holiday its commitment to seat distancing by blocking middle seats in rows where parties are not traveling together. The policy, part of the airline’s multi-layered “Safety from the Ground Up” program, comes as the airline is also set to roll out temperature monitoring for its flight and inflight crewmembers and electrostatic aircraft fogging in June.

As part of its “more space, fewer touchpoints” focus, JetBlue’s seat distancing policy gives customers peace of mind that they will not be seated directly next to someone they don’t know. Middle seats will be blocked on its Airbus aircraft, and on its smaller Embraer 190 aircraft, JetBlue will block aisle seats. The airline does allow customers traveling together to sit in middle and aisle seats.

Even with blocked seats, it’s challenging to maintain six feet of distance between everyone onboard and that’s why JetBlue requires face coverings for customers. JetBlue will keep the seat distancing program in place through at least July 6.
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