Delta CEO Outlines Carrier’s Safety Guidelines

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has sent a letter to the carrier’s customer base, telling passengers that as the world starts to reopen for business the safety of travelers remains paramount.

“That’s why layers of protection are now in place at every touchpoint of your journey, from beginning to end,” Bastian wrote.

Bastian has been proactive in keeping customers apprised of what Delta has been doing to battle the coronavirus; this was his 11th piece of communication since the crisis began earlier this year.

Though airlines have somewhat relaxed their enforcement of passengers wearing a mask, Bastian nonetheless said the safety procedures start with check-in, where fliers will be required to wear a mask until they reach their destination. Delta employees will be wearing them as well, and the airline will provide a mask to passengers who ask for one if they do not have their own.

Surfaces are wiped down throughout the day, starting with kiosks and baggage stations. Plexiglass shields will be in place at Delta check-in and gate counters by the end of May, and customers will be encouraged to maintain a safe distance with decals at check-in, at the gate and on all Delta-owned jet bridges.

“At the gate, you’ll find gate areas and jet bridges disinfected with electrostatic spraying. Before you board, our teams follow an extensive cleaning checklist with authority to hold the flight for additional cleaning if they aren’t satisfied,” Bastian wrote. “This includes safely sanitizing each aircraft with electrostatic spraying before every flight and wiping down tray tables and seatback screens. Boarding will occur from back to front and be limited to 10 customers at a time to minimize your contact with others. You will receive snack bags with a sanitizing wipe at boarding on select flights to reduce onboard service touchpoints.”

More importantly, Bastian said Delta will maintain the integrity of social distancing and will cap capacity at 60 percent for each flight, including blocking the middle seats from use. The air on all aircraft is completely recirculated 10 to 30 times per hour with fresh, outside air or through industrial-grade HEPA filters with similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms and other highly sensitive environments. Announcements will also encourage passengers to take time when deplaning to create distance for those ahead to exit.

“We are exceeding all travel guidelines set by the U.S. Travel Association, and you have my commitment that we will consistently deliver,” the CEO wrote.

Bastian noted that Delta has processed more than $1.5 billion in cash refunds since January, including $182 million so far this month. He asked for patience as customer service representatives “continue to handle an enormous volume of calls each day.”

If you have travel booked through Sept. 30, 2020, or existing eCredits from flights March 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, there are no change fees to reschedule your trip through Sept. 30, 2022. In addition, tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020, can be changed without a change fee for a year from your date of purchase.

“While this crisis has made us distance ourselves, the isolation has brought a sense of togetherness as we check in on one another,” Bastian said. “I will continue to communicate with you and ask that you share any feedback you have. You can rest assured that we are taking every step to keep you safe throughout your journey when you are ready to fly with us again.”

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Dubai airport traffic will increase sharply once Covid-19 solution found, says Paul Griffiths

Since the virus hit, Dubai Airports has closed 2 terminals and 3 concourses, and nearly halved its workforce by ending and suspending service contracts with companies providing around 2,500 people

So far, 52,000 people have left Dubai on repatriation flights to India, the UK, the Netherlands, Iraq and the Philippines

The airport operator, which is owned by Dubai’s government but run on a commercial basis, isn’t likely to require state help or additional funds, the CEO said.

The head of the world’s busiest international air hub is confident that passengers will return to the skies in droves once they believe it’s safe. He’s just not sure when that will occur.

Activity has slowed to a trickle at Dubai International airport, which handled some 86.4 million passengers last year. Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said he expects a hockey stick-like resumption in traffic driven by pent-up demand, but only after there’s a lasting solution to the coronavirus pandemic that’s hammered air travel across the globe.

“Until there is the sort of proven level of confidence medically that people can safely travel without fear of contracting or spreading the virus, unfortunately the situation we find ourselves in will likely continue for some time,” Griffiths said in an interview. “Gradually we’ll start to see some confidence build,” he said, starting with countries that have gotten the spread of the virus under control.


In the meantime, Dubai International will have to make do running at about 30% of capacity, Griffiths said, even as long-distance heavyweight Emirates prepares to resume travel to nine destinations on May 21. The airport is implementing precautions like disinfection and social distancing, while looking for reliable, quick and easily administered coronavirus testing to help screen passengers, he said.

The travel industry is reeling after governments around the world blocked non-essential arrivals to reduce Covid-19 infections. Going forward, mandated quarantine periods and social-distancing measures will deter many travellers and keep airports operating at reduced capacity until a vaccine or other treatments are available, Griffiths said.

It could take as long as two years before demand returns to pre-Covid-19 levels, he estimated. Others take an even gloomier view. The International Air Transport Association, a trade group, doesn’t see travel globally recovering to last year’s levels until 2023 at the earliest.

The UK aims to impose a 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving by air from the end of May, while Iceland plans to test all airline passengers arriving at Keflavik Airport for coronavirus by June 15. Those who test negative will be spared a mandatory two-week period of isolation.

Seeking sweet spot

Since the virus hit, Dubai Airports has closed two terminals and three concourses, and nearly halved its workforce by ending and suspending service contracts with companies providing around 2,500 people.

The airport operator, which is owned by Dubai’s government but run on a commercial basis, isn’t likely to require state help or additional funds, the CEO said.

“We’re still trying to find that sweet spot between cost control and still being able to function and be ready for the recovery,” Griffiths said. “We’ve sized our infrastructure according to the operation that we have both now and what we foresee in the near future. What we are doing is putting plans in place to ensure we can recall our infrastructure.”

Currently, Emirates is flying through terminal 3 and half of concourse B, while budget carrier FlyDubai and foreign airlines are using terminal 2. As operations ramp up, some foreign carriers will be moved to terminal 3 “until we get to a point of volume and demand where that will justify opening more of the terminal capacity,” Griffiths said.

Traffic hub

So far, 52,000 people have left Dubai on repatriation flights to India, the UK, the Netherlands, Iraq and the Philippines, he said. Meanwhile, cargo flights are booming, with around 700 a week providing a lifeline for the city.

Dubai, which turned itself into a global air travel hub connecting 260 cities, is likely to emerge stronger, Griffiths said.

“If demand for air travel is lower in the future for a period of time” there will be fewer sustainable point-to-point routes, he said.

The beauty of the hub model, he said, is the ability to sustain routes to cities where there isn’t enough demand for direct flights.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Airlines award bonus points to spur bookings

U.S. carriers have begun offering bonus frequent flyer miles
to spur travel demand.

JetBlue on Thursday said members of its TrueBlue rewards
program can earn double the points for all travel that is booked by June 15.
Points will be doubled in all fare classes, and the bonus will be awarded even
for holiday bookings such as Thanksgiving. Travelers must provide their
TrueBlue number at the time of booking. 

Similarly, Southwest customers who sign up for a new
promotion will earn double the Rapid Reward points for all flights booked and
flown by Aug. 31. 

American, meanwhile, is in the midst of a seven-day
promotion that offers AAdvantage program members 500 bonus points for each
flight completed from July 1 through Dec. 31 up to 5,000 points. To be
eligible, customers must register for the promotion on the American website and
then book the flights by May 18.

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Boeing CEO Says at Least One Airline Will Fail Due to Pandemic

David Calhoun, the new CEO of Boeing, said on national television this morning that at least one airline could go under due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Calhoun, who took over his own troubled company in January, was asked by Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s Today show this morning “Do you think there might be a major U.S. carrier that just has to go out of business?”

Said Calhoun: “Yes, most likely.”

The CEO did not speculate on which airline would be most at risk to fold, but the entire industry is facing a crisis.

Demand for air travel is off 90 percent compared to last year, and virtually every U.S. airline has been forced to take grants and loans made available by the federal government as part of a stimulus package.

Calhoun also said he did not think air travel would rebound by the fall, as many had hoped.

Here is the full interview:

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Flydubai to continue focus on cargo operations

Dubai-based carrier is also helping schedule various repatriation flights

Flydubai has continued to operate and has moved more than 1,651,929kg of perishables, medical supplies, express courier and essential goods.

Dubai-based low-cost carrier Flydubai is focusing its efforts on cargo operations, while also assisting with the repatriation of citizens across the world.

Passenger flights from the UAE have been suspended from March 24 by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), as part of precautionary measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. That ban will not be lifted until June 4 at the earliest.

However, Flydubai has continued to operate and has moved more than 1,651,929kg of perishables, medical supplies, express courier and essential goods.

Flydubai Cargo operated 276 flights, to 26 countries, using six of the carrier’s Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft, allocated to operate as all-cargo flights.

Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at Flydubai, said: “Air cargo operations will continue to be our focus over the next few weeks. We have been working closely with our strategic partners enabling Flydubai to transport cargo seamlessly to where it is needed the most, while adhering to the safety standards set by the industry and the World Health Organisation (WHO).” 

The carrier has also obtained government approvals to operate 90 special repatriation flights over the past few weeks.

More than 12,532 passengers were able to return to their homes across 19 countries thanks to the efforts and collaboration of embassies and government authorities.

These repatriation flights operated to: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Somaliland, Sudan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Flydubai received over 187,000 enquiries about repatriation flights since March and has allocated a dedicated team to support with customer care.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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United Airlines names Brett Hart president

Brett Hart will be promoted to serve as the top deputy to
incoming CEO Scott Kirby. 

Hart, currently United’s chief administrative officer, will
take the position of president on May 20, the same day that Kirby’s title
changes from president to CEO under a succession plan announced in December.

Current CEO Oscar Munoz will transition to a one-year term
as United’s executive chairman. 

In a letter to employees, Kirby wrote that Hart would provide
a steady voice during the Covid-19 crisis. 

“More than ever, United needs — and as CEO I will need — an
experienced, level-headed strategist who can help us to continue to make smart
decisions and aggressively manage the crisis,” Kirby wrote. 

Hart joined United in 2010 as general counsel. He was the
carrier’s acting CEO for six months in 2015 and 2016 while Munoz recovered from
a heart attack and heart transplant.

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Southwest bringing back some international routes in June

Southwest will resume international flying on June 7, 17
days later than its previously planned resumption date of May 21.

The carrier will recommence international service by flying
to five destinations: Cancun and Los Cabos in Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica;
Nassau, Bahamas; and Havana. Southwest last flew internationally on March 23.

When the relaunch happens, it will be on eight routes.
Southwest will fly to Cancun from Houston Hobby, Denver and Baltimore. The
carrier will service Los Cabos from Houston Hobby and Denver. It will fly to
Montego Bay from Baltimore and Orlando. And it will service Havana from Tampa. 

Southwest said it will operate those routes through the
summer and fall.

Flights from Phoenix to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta will restart
on Oct. 8. The carrier’s remaining international network will be suspended
until at least Oct. 30.

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Delta Latam sign joint venture agreement

Delta Air Lines and Latam are moving forward with their partnership plans, having signed a trans-American joint venture agreement that will combine the carriers’ networks between North and South America, pending regulatory approval.

The agreement is the latest step in the carriers’ partnership, announced last September, which already has included codeshare agreements, reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and collocation at airports in New York and São Paulo. CEOs of both carriers said despite the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the aviation industry, the alliance still is a priority.

“While we remain focused on navigating the Covid-19 crisis and protecting the safety and well-being of our passengers and employees, we also have to look to the future to ensure the best possible customer experience and support the long-term sustainability of the group,” Latam CEO Roberto Alvo said in a statement.

Source: Business Travel News

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Airports Requiring Face Coverings for All Travelers, Visitors

Airports across the United States are beginning to require all passengers and visitors to wear face coverings to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The new policy went into effect at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, and Los Angeles International Airport will require masks for anyone entering an LAX facility starting Monday, May 11.

Most airlines already require passengers to wear face coverings at ticket counters, upon boarding and during their flight, with other carriers slated to enforce the precautionary measure in the days to come.

“Guests should bring a face covering with them so they can be worn throughout the airport journey,” Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said in a press release on Wednesday. “Similar to airline policies, guests at LAX are allowed to remove their masks for a short time in order to consume food or beverages, but must put their masks back on when they are finished eating.”

Anyone not wearing a mask will be asked to put one on. LAX is also encouraging travelers to wash or sanitize their hands frequently, stay at least six feet away from other people and avoid entering the airport if they are sick or symptomatic.

Acceptable face coverings include bandanas, scarves, t-shirts and other fabric that’s held in place over a person’s nose and mouth.

Face coverings will be required for anyone at LAX starting Monday, May 11. Face coverings can include bandanas, scarves, T-shirts or other fabric materials held in place. Please do your part to help save lives.

For now, many airports, including Baltimore-Washington International Airport, are recommending that travelers wear face coverings while in the terminal. However, that could change as face-covering policies become more commonplace.

“The use of face masks or coverings throughout the terminal is recommended for BWI Marshall Airport passengers and required for passengers patronizing airport restaurants and shops, as well as restaurant and shop workers,” according to BWI officials.

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Harris poll on Americans intentions to fly coronavirus

According to a new Harris survey, 48% of Americans say they
won’t be comfortable flying until the Covid-19 pandemic is over. The survey of
2,039 adults was conducted from May 1 to 3.

Harris also found that just 19% of respondents said their
opinion of airlines has improved during the pandemic, less than all other
industries it asked about except for real estate. 

The poll, however, did reveal some good news for airlines.
Forty-one percent of respondents said they miss flying. And 28% said that a combination
of mandatory mask policies and additional safety and sanitation measures would
make them feel more comfortable about flying. 

Among those who do plan to get back in the air in the next
three months, 41% are men while 26% are women. Forty percent of Gen Zs/Millennials
said they would fly during that time frame, compared with 37% of Gen X
respondents and 27% of baby boomers. 

Air travel in the U.S. has dropped approximately 95% due to
the pandemic.

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