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Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Virgin Atlantic cuts workforce by over 30% to stave off bankruptcy

Having been unsuccessful in obtaining a government bailout beyond the standard furlough scheme for its employees, Virgin Atlantic has announced the loss of over 3,150 jobs, which equates to just over 30% of its workforce. The reduction will also mean that the carrier will be closing down all its operations from London Gatwick airport, putting that facility under even further financial pressure to survive.

A Gatwick spokesman said the airport remained “very optimistic about the long-term prospects of Gatwick airport and our resilience as a business.”. He added that Virgin Atlantic would retain its flight slots at the airport so could return when demand recovers. The airline flies mostly to holiday destinations, including St Lucia, Barbados, and Orlando, from Gatwick. The move by Virgin Atlantic comes hot on the heels of IAG’s announcement to cut 12,000 jobs at British Airways and 900 at Aer Lingus, Ryanair announcing the loss of 3,000 jobs and Rolls Royce’s aerospace sector planning up to 8,000 redundancies.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman made it clear the company did not anticipate passenger numbers will return to 2019 levels for at least three years. At its peak, Virgin Atlantic was responsible for 19% of transatlantic passenger numbers, operating 258 flights on a weekly basis, and 422 flights globally. The U.K.s Labour party is lobbying for a financial bailout for the airline industry and is urging the government to step in and help the ailing airline, despite its principal shareholder being a billionaire. The situation has not been helped by its 49% shareholder, America’s United Airlines’, having failed to provide any form of financial injection to date. On the other hand, climate change activists are keen for the government not to bail out airlines while they are still responsible for such massive carbon emissions.


IATA calls for passenger face covering and crew masks

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports the wearing of face coverings for passengers and masks for crew while on board aircraft as a critical part of a layered approach to biosecurity to be implemented temporarily when people return to traveling by air. IATA does not support mandating social distancing measures that would leave ‘middle seats’ empty.

Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. Mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk, while avoiding the dramatic cost increases to air travel that onboard social distancing measures would bring.

“The safety of passengers and crew is paramount. The aviation industry is working with governments to re-start flying when this can be done safely. Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. And we will take measures—such as the wearing of face coverings by passengers and masks by crew—to add extra layers of protection. We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting benefit,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.


Strong demand for temporary operational changes from passenger to cargo aircraft

Lufthansa Technik's new technical and engineering services for temporary operational changes from passenger to cargo aircraft have met with great interest in the aviation market. So far, the cabin modification experts of the company have received enquiries from more than 40 airlines. More than 15 projects for different aircraft types are already in the implementation phase. A special highlight is the support of the operational change of a first Airbus A380 of an undisclosed customer, with which Lufthansa Technik has now been awarded.

"Over the past days, we have received strong interest from different airlines regarding our passenger to freighter service capabilities," explained Henning Jochmann, Senior Director Aircraft Modification Base Maintenance at Lufthansa Technik. "As the work scope comprises much more than just taking out seats, you need engineering experts who know exactly what the challenges are and how to document the technical solutions correctly so that the aviation authorities agree. The current exemption and our solution for it can be transferred to our Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) at a later point of time without major adjustments. This means that anyone who opts for LHT's exceptional solution now can easily switch to the permanent STC solution later."

Lufthansa Technik is currently working flat out to obtain
STCs for all common aircraft types so that airlines all over the world can
quickly convert their passenger aircraft into auxiliary freighters.


AerCap reports US$276.8 million net income for first-quarter 2020

AerCap has reported that net income for the first quarter of 2020 increased by 18% to US$276.8 million, from US$234.2 million for the same period in 2019.

Basic lease rents were US$1,030.8 million for the first quarter, compared with US$1,075.3 million for the same period in 2019. Maintenance rents and other receipts were US$134.3 million, compared with US$86.8 million for the same period in 2019. Net gain on sale of assets for the first quarter of 2020 was US$58.4 million, relating to 12 aircraft sold for US$265 million, compared with US$21.5 million for the same period in 2019, relating to 19 aircraft sold for US$340 million. The increase was primarily due to the composition of asset sales.

As of March 31, 2020, AerCap's portfolio consisted of 1,372 aircraft that were owned, on order or managed. The average age of its owned fleet as of March 31, 2020 was 6.2 years (2.5 years for new technology aircraft, 11.5 years for current technology aircraft) and the average remaining contracted lease term was 7.5 years.


Pittsburgh International Airport to utilize autonomous robots with ultraviolet light technology

Pittsburgh International Airport is looking to the region’s vibrant tech community to help incorporate a new disinfecting strategy using ultraviolet light – on robots.

This partnership with Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics is the first step of an airport-wide strategy to deploy technology solutions and multi-layered cleaning processes to enhance the health and safety of the traveling public. The technology is designed to kill microbes in high-traffic areas, increasing cleanliness and helping to restore confidence in traveling.

PIT is the only airport in the United States with these specially equipped floor-cleaning machines, and airport officials look to incorporate UV disinfecting technology in additional ways, including the sterilizations of handrails on escalators and moving walkways, elevator buttons and other high-touch areas.

The pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry has been dramatic, with passenger traffic falling more than 90 percent as social distancing and stay-at-home orders remain in effect. As part of the
solution, PIT hopes to speed the industry’s rebound through technology solutions.


Avion Express appoints Vice President Commercial

Avion Express has named Dainius Staniulis as the new Vice President Commercial, as of May 1. Staniulis previously served the company as a Commercial Manager.

For the last two years, Staniulis was developing sales function in the company with a strong focus on strengthening clients’ portfolio and meeting customer’s needs. Having brought his expertise in sales working with multiple international businesses in the B2B sector, he has proved himself to be a valuable addition to the company’s management team. His vast experience of over 8 years in the international corporate banking sector contributed to the company’s success in securing the leading position in the market.

Eastern Airlines selects Thomas Global’s TFD-7000 series flight deck displays for Boeing 767 fleet upgrade

Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Eastern Airlines has chosen Thomas Global’s TFD-7000 Series plug-and-play LCD flight deck displays for its Boeing 767 fleet. Deliveries to Eastern Airlines are underway.

TFD-7000 Series displays offer a lighter, more reliable, and cost-effective replacement for legacy CRTs, with added functionality and capacity for current and emerging airspace requirements. Thomas Global’s innovative plug-and-play LCD technology enables installation on overnights or at the gate, with no flight or maintenance crew retraining required.

“The TFD-7000 Series is the optimum solution to modernize our 767 flight displays without major flight deck modifications, aircraft downtime or crew retraining,” said Eastern Airlines Vice President, Maintenance & Engineering, Eric Couvreur. “Further, the TFD-7000 provides a practical solution to our issues around CRT obsolescence, while achieving significantly greater display system reliability.”


SAS signs SEK 3.3 billion revolving credit facility agreement

SAS has signed a SEK 3.3 billion three-year revolving credit facility agreement, 90% guaranteed by the Swedish and Danish states.

Since the announcements from the Scandinavian governments on credit guarantees to airlines, SAS has worked with four Nordic banks as well as respective government agencies to clarify the criteria and terms for the guarantees. The guaranteed debt package, which has been approved by the European Commission, was implemented in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and is intended to support the airline’s liquidity and prepare for the recovery of its activities.

SAS ist still in dialogue with the Norwegian government to be able to access up to NOK 1.7 billion of additional state guaranteed funding


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Tamar Jorssen
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