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LATEST NEWS

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

IATA makes progress on Travel Pass to help reopen international borders

The International Air Transport Association has announced it is moving forward with the impending introduction of its Travel Pass. This final development phase will ultimately enable countries to open up their borders to international travelers which are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital health pass will support the safe opening of these borders and the IATA Travel Pass will manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing and vaccine information between governments, laboratories, airlines, and travelers. IATA is calling for systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travelers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.

It must also support airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel, laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognized by governments, and travelers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.

“Today borders are double locked. Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

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Alaska Airlines further modernizes fleet with 13 new leased 737-9 MAX aircraft

Alaska Airlines has released that it will sell ten Airbus A320s to Air Lease Corporation, and subsequently lease 13 new Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft from them. The 13 737-9 MAX aircraft will be delivered from fourth quarter 2021 through 2022. Alaska will lease the A320s back from Air Lease for a short period of time after the transaction closes.

The 13 leased aircraft are in addition to the 32 MAX Alaska currently has on order with Boeing – five of which are expected to be flying by summer 2021. Alaska will begin flying the 737-9 MAX in March 2021.

After permanently parking all A319s and some A320s earlier this summer, this deal leaves Alaska Airlines with 39 A320s in the operating fleet along with 10 A321neos.

Alexandre de Juniac to step down as IATA Director General and CEO

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO will step down from his role at the Association effective March 31, 2021.

De Juniac made known his intention to step down from the Association several months ago which enabled a search process to facilitate a smooth leadership transition. The IATA Board of Governors will recommend to the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 24, 2020 the appointment of Willie Walsh, former CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) to become IATA’s eighth Director General from April 1, 2021.

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CDB Aviation brings next generation A330 P2F freighter to market

CDB Aviation, a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing (CDB Leasing), has announced a new partnership with Germany-based EFW GmbH (EFW) to conduct the Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) conversion of two Airbus A330-300 aircraft in 2021.

The A330-300 P2F conversion program marks CDB Aviation’s first entry into freighter conversion, advancing the lessor’s strategic efforts to deliver ever-more customized fleet solutions to customers, while tapping the long-term growth potential of the medium widebody freighter market. The A330 P2Fs are part of the existing fleet of 228 aircraft, in addition to the lessor’s further commitments for 150 in-demand, next-generation technology aircraft.

“We are seeing an increasing interest from our customers for medium-sized freighters, as they look to take advantage of record-high freighter utilization, rapidly growing e-commerce demand, and higher cargo yields,” elaborated CDB Aviation Chief Executive Officer Patrick Hannigan. “We look forward to working with EFW on converting our highly efficient A330-300 aircraft into the next generation of medium widebody freighters that our customers can use to meet the burgeoning international and regional air freight demand.”

The medium widebody freighter segment is today comprized of over 600 aircraft, served primarily by aging twin-jet aircraft, such as the Boeing 767F and Airbus A300F, which have an average age of 22 years. The A330-300 P2F will bring next generation technology and efficiency to this segment. With growing express cargo demand and declining cargo densities, the A330-300 P2F offers more volumetric space than older freighters in this category, in line with what cargo operators and freight forwarders are seeking.

Rolls-Royce officially opens latest customer support facility in Savannah, Georgia, USA

Rolls-Royce has officially opened its latest customer support facility in Savannah, Georgia, USA. The new 62,000 ft² (5,800 m²) Savannah Customer Service Center is adjacent to the new Gulfstream Service Center East and is scheduled to be fully operational by end of this year. It will house an on-site customer support office, an on wing services repair facility, a powerplant completion center, and a warehouse all under one roof.

The investment will create additional highly-skilled jobs over the next years, increasing the total number of the company's employees supporting Gulfstream and its customers.

The new service center was named the Rolls-Royce Raines Building, in honour of local aviation pioneer Hazel Jane Raines. Raines was Georgia’s First Lady of Aviation, a strong advocate for women’s rights and an inspiring trailblazer for women in aviation. 

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Americans return to the skies for Thanksgiving

Research undertaken by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics firm, reveals that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse in aviation, many Americans are planning a last-minute return to the skies this Thanksgiving, travelling to be with their families at home or taking a break in the sunshine or on the slopes.

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys explained: “The COVID-19 crisis has decimated international air travel and badly damaged domestic air travel. In the past three weeks, we have seen the pace of bookings decelerate and that correlates with the third wave of the virus. However, there are a couple of highly resilient periods, Christmas and Thanksgiving, where bookings have not slowed down and are relatively much stronger than they are for the rest of the year. Flight tickets issued in the week commencing 8th November, for travel over the Thanksgiving period (departures from 19th – 25th November) surged to 74.5% of last year’s volumes.  

In a ranking of major US domestic destinations this Thanksgiving (ie: destinations with at least 1.0% share of domestic flight bookings), many of the most resilient are family holiday hotspots. In order of resilience benchmarked against 2019, Fort Myers in Florida leads the list; as of 14th November, bookings for travel over the Thanksgiving period (departures from 19th – 25th November), were 11.9% behind last year’s levels. It is followed by another sunshine destination, Tampa, where bookings are 14.2% behind. The next three most resilient places are popular for skiing, Salt Lake City Utah, 23.5% behind, Phoenix Arizona, 30.0% behind, which is driving distance from the Arizona Snow Bowl and Denver, Colorado, 32.1% behind. The next five cities in descending order of resilience are: Miami, 33.5% behind; Orlando, the home of several iconic theme parks, 33.9% behind; Kahului, 35.4% behind; Dallas, 38.6% behind; and Las Vegas, 40.6% behind.

Olivier Ponti concluded: “Whilst hardly anybody is travelling on business, the encouraging news for the travel industry is that people don’t want to drop what they usually do for Thanksgiving and are keen to travel. As going abroad is much more of a hassle owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions; we are seeing a greater proportion of Thanksgiving bookings being domestic, 91% this year, compared to 79% last year. There is even room for a little more optimism, because with booking trends being increasingly last-minute, numbers will likely climb further this week.”

Jet Aviation delivers first fan case modification on Falcon 7X PW307A engine

Jet Aviation has delivered the first fan case modification on a Falcon 7X in Basel. The company has received MRO authorization from Pratt & Whitney to modify fan cases on PW307A and PW307D engines installed on Falcon 7X and Falcon 8X aircraft and has since completed a dozen on-wing fan case modifications.

The fan case modification involved exchanging the engine ducts to prevent or repair delamination. Jet Aviation provided the service as part of a scheduled airframe maintenance C-inspection.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, the engine manufacturer of the PW307 A/D engines installed on Dassault Falcon 7/8X aircraft, has since issued a Service Bulletin (PW300-72-47246) for all of its PW307 A/D engines, enabling on-wing modifications.

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ExxonMobil signs contract for two Airbus H145 helicopters

ExxonMobil has signed a contract for two Airbus H145 helicopters to support the PNG (Papua New Guinea) LNG (liquefied natural gas) project in Papua New Guinea.

The new H145 model with a five-blade, bearingless main rotor provides a 150 kg increase in useful load.

The aircraft will be based at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant (HGCP) in Hela Province of the PNG Highlands, and will be used to transport personnel and equipment in support of PNG LNG project operations.

In addition to its reliability and superior economics, the new H145’s “hot and high” performance was critical to its selection for use in an environment requiring routine operations at an altitude of 5,400 ft in temperatures up to 35ºC.

The sale is the first by Airbus Helicopters to ExxonMobil and the first order in the oil and gas sector for the new H145 in the Asia Pacific region.
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Tamar Jorssen
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