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Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Lilium to launch first US Vertiport at Lake Nona, Orlando

Munich-based Lilium, which specializes in all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has announced it is to partner with the Tavistock Development Company (Tavistock) and the city of Orlando, Florida, to create  a Vertiport, the first hub location for a high-speed electric air mobility network in the USA.

The location has been chosen because of its centrality in Florida giving access to 20 million Floridians who live within a 186-mile radius of the Vertiport, approximately one hour of flight time for the eVTOL aircraft on a single charge.

Commenting on the ground-breaking partnership, Dr. Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium said: “We are thrilled to partner with Tavistock and build the first stretch of Florida’s high-speed electric transportation network with Central Florida at its core. It shows that regional high-speed air mobility can be built by private initiative and give communities such as Lake Nona, which can also serve Orlando and arrivals from its international airport, the ability to determine themselves whether they want a link into a high-speed transportation network.”

Described as the “Future of Cities” by Fortune Magazine, Lake Nona provides an unmatched location contiguous to the Orlando International Airport, the origination site of more than half of the region’s 75 million annual visitors, with a strong economy and infrastructure ready to support the US launch of electric air mobility.

Orlando’s aerotropolis is highlighted by the international airport and robust aviation companies and services, including several within Lake Nona, which is home to BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support and SimCom Aviation Training who recently announced the creation of its new global headquarters that will train approximately 10,000 pilots each year.

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Lufthansa and ver.di agree on crisis package ​​​​​​​of more than €200 million

Lufthansa and the ver.di union have agreed on an initial crisis package on November 10, after intensive negotiations. The measures, with a volume of more than €200 million, will help to overcome the economic effects of the crisis.

They mainly apply to the ground staff of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Lufthansa Technik AG and Lufthansa Cargo AG. This means that in addition to short-time work, the 24,000-ground staff are now also making an important contribution to overcome the serious consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The savings will already take immediate effect through the cancellation of the Christmas bonus for 2020. It has also been agreed that the Christmas and vacation bonuses for 2021, including supplements, will be waived. In addition to this, short-time work will be continued consistently and the top-up of short-time working compensation will be reduced from 90 to 87% for 2021. In total, this will enable personnel cost savings of up to 50% in 2021, depending on the total hours worked.

In return, Lufthansa will be offering employment protection for the year 2021 as well as partial retirement and voluntary redundancy programs. Talks on long-term reductions in labor costs for the time after January 1, 2022, when the short time working compensation no longer applies, will be continued. Negotiations on the reconciliation of interests will resume soon with the Central Works Council of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

The agreements that have been reached still require the approval of ver.di members.

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oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance support globally harmonized approach to health testing

The three global airline alliances, oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, are in full support of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) second-phase Council on Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) report released on November 10. Together, they urge governments to implement the report guidelines for passenger testing protocols, as well as the adoption of digital health pass technology, so air travel may safely resume.

Government-imposed travel and entry restrictions continue to significantly impact global travel demand. Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing has emerged as an important part of an end-to-end solution to enable the safe restart of international travel by potentially reducing the reliance on the blunt instrument of blanket quarantines.

“We welcome the publication of the updated CART report which, among other things, calls for the serious consideration of screening and testing as a means for easing travel and border restrictions, and reviving the travel and tourism industry and the global economy,” said Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh. “A robust protocol for testing will also provide further evidence to demonstrate that air travel is not a material cause for infections and will pave the way for a framework of trust to be established between countries.”

On behalf of their 58 member airlines, representing over 60% of world airline capacity and carrying over 1.87 billion passengers annually prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the three alliances are calling for a harmonized approach to testing that will form the foundation of a trust framework, as recommended by the ICAO guidelines.

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Boeing secures more than US$800 million in Middle East training and support contracts

Boeing has acknowledged three foreign military sales contracts with the U.S. Air Force for training services and support in the Middle East valued at more than US$800 million.

The first previously unannounced contract was awarded in 2019 and will support the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) with F-15QA program management, maintenance and aircrew training valued at US$240 million over a five-year contract period.

Boeing also received a separate not-to-exceed US$68 million contract to provide maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during their pre-delivery training for the F-15QA aircraft, which will commence early next year. The QEAF will send pilots and weapon system operators to the U.S., where the aircrews will learn how to independently operate the F-15QA ahead of receiving their new aircraft. Training will include in-person instruction, simulation events and flying operations and will be held near Boeing’s F-15 production facility in the U.S. through mid-2021.

Following this, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, through 2024.

A third contract awarded in November and valued at more than US$500 million will provide the QEAF with in-country spares and logistics support once the aircraft are delivered to Qatar.

Alaska Air Group announces leadership succession plan

Alaska Air Group's board of directors has released that Brad Tilden will retire as Chief Executive Officer on March 31, 2021, and Ben Minicucci, president of Alaska Airlines and a member of the Alaska Air Group board, will succeed him. Tilden will continue to serve as Alaska's board chair.

"This announcement is the culmination of a multi-year succession planning process," said Patricia Bedient, Alaska Air Group lead independent director. "The board has complete confidence in Ben's ability to lead Alaska to great success in the years to come. We are also grateful to Brad for his outstanding leadership during his eight years as CEO. With Ben as CEO and Brad continuing as chair, Alaska's future is bright."

During Minicucci's 16-year career with Alaska, he has contributed in various roles of increasing responsibility. In 2016, he became president of Alaska Airlines and he was also named CEO of Virgin America upon Alaska's acquisition of the airline. From 2009-2016, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer where he directed the implementation of a customer service guiding framework which empowers employees to deliver personal and kind-hearted experiences to guests. He also held the role of Vice President of Seattle operations (2007-2009) where he dramatically increased Alaska's on-time performance and reliability. Minicucci joined Alaska in 2004 as Staff Vice President of Maintenance.

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Aruba becomes first Caribbean Nation to partner with JetBlue on entry testing

JetBlue has announced that Aruba is the first Caribbean nation to partner with the airline for seamless entry testing through JetBlue’s testing partner, Vault. The decision by Aruba to begin accepting the convenient PCR test facilitated by Vault’s technology platform for JetBlue customers arriving on the island was made after assessing the supervised testing process. It also comes as a result of the airline’s initiative to work with destination regions to promote safer travel with easy testing. JetBlue and Aruba are equally dedicated to helping keep those working and traveling safe while providing viable options for those who want or need to travel, including those seeking to vacation.

Aruba has required negative COVID-19 PCR test results since reopening to visitors, all in order to protect travelers and residents and allow them to enjoy the beauty of the island and contribute to the tourism industry that drives the Aruban economy. The supervised at-home test facilitated by Vault’s platform is the first and only saliva-based test accepted for entry of JetBlue customers by Aruban authorities. The test option with Vault provides convenience, quick turnaround, and accuracy. Vault facilitates all testing conducted by its collaborating laboratory. JetBlue customers receive a dedicated customer support phone line through the process.

Remco Steenbergen appointed as new Chief Financial Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG

The Supervisory Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG has appointed Remco Steenbergen as a new member of the company’s Executive Board. Remco Steenbergen will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer effective January 1, 2021. His contract will run until 31 December 2023.

After the resignation of Ulrik Svensson and Thorsten Dirks, Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, took over the responsibilities of the CFO on an interim basis. With the appointment of Remco Steenbergen, the Finance division will be re-established. It will include controlling and risk management, corporate finance, accounting and balance sheets, taxes, purchasing, and mergers and acquisitions.

Most recently, Steenbergen was Chief Financial Officer of Barry Callebaut Group based in Zurich, Switzerland. Prior to this, the Dutch citizen worked at Philips and at KPMG.

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Airbus signs contract for 38 Eurofighters with Germany

Airbus has signed a contract to deliver 38 new Eurofighter aircraft to the German Air Force. This makes Germany the largest ordering nation in Europe's biggest defense program. The order, also known by its project name Quadriga, covers the delivery of 30 single-seater and 8 twin-seater Eurofighters. Three of the aircraft will be equipped with additional test installations as Instrumented Test Aircraft for the further development of the Eurofighter program.

The renewed order from Germany secures production until 2030 and comes at a strategically important time for the program. In addition to an expected Eurofighter order from Spain to replace its legacy F-18s, procurement decisions in Switzerland and Finland are imminent in 2021.

The variant offered in Switzerland corresponds to the configuration of the German Quadriga order. The equipment includes the world's latest electronic radar, future-proof hardware and software and unlimited multi-role capability for engaging air and ground targets.
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