Categories
Transport

IATA says government assistance to airlines 'vital' amid Covid-19

According to IATA, the impact of the coronavirus on the UAE’s aviation sector could lead to a loss of $17.7bn in economic contribution

Air carriers in the Middle East may lose as much as $19 billion as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – representing a revenue drop of 32 percent compared to 2019 – making the need for government action and financial relief ‘urgent’, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

According to IATA, the impact of the coronavirus in the UAE could lead to 23.8 million fewer passengers for the country’s airlines, resulting in $5.36 billion in lost revenue, risking 287,863 jobs and $17.7 billion in contribution to the UAE’s economy.

In neighboring Saudi Arabia, Covid-19 may lead to 26.7 million fewer passengers, resulting in $5.61 billion in revenue loss, risking 217,570 jobs and $13.6 billion in contribution to Saudi Arabia’s economy.

To minimize these losses, IATA believes it is “vital” that governments step in to provide relief, as the UAE has already vowed to.

IATA is specifically calling for direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market, as well as tax relief.

“The air transport industry is an economic engine, supporting up to 8.6 million jobs across Africa and the Middle East and $186 billion in GDP. Every job created in the aviation industry supports another 24 jobs in the wider economy,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.

“Governments must recognize the vital importance of the air transport industry, and that support is urgently needed. Airlines are fighting for survival in every corner of the world,” he added.

IATA is calling for a relief package of measures to ensure air cargo operations, financial relief on airport and air traffic control charges and taxes, and ensuring the rapid and accurate publishing of aeronautical information to help airlines.

In a statement, Al Bakri praised the UAE and Saudi Arabia – among a number of other countries – for agreeing a full-season waiver to the slot use rule.

“But there is more to do on the regulatory front. Governments need to recognize that we are in a crisis,” he added.

Digital magazine: Read the latest edition of Arabian Business online

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Despite Bailout Provisions, Airline Workers Getting Hours and Pay Cut

When President Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, provisions were written into the stimulus package that specifically prohibited airlines – recipients of $58 billion in grants and loans – from reducing their respective workforces for six months until Sept. 30, 2020.

Apparently, that might not include reducing hours and pay.

In an in-depth story by David Slotnick of Business Insider, airline employees at major US carriers including Delta, United, American and Southwest are slowly learning that they might not receive their usual full salaries.

With demand for air travel drastically reduced in the wake of the coronavirus global pandemic – the Transportation Security Administration reported that only 185,000 passengers flew on U.S. airlines on Saturday, March 28 compared to 2.1 million a year ago – carriers are trimming hours, and therefore pay, for some employees.

Business Insider obtained two leaked memos from Delta CEO Ed Bastian written to employees outlining the plan.

Days before the signing of the stimulus package, Bastian wrote that “Given the large proportion of the fleet and schedule that we’ve been forced to pull down, there is substantially less work at present for our people to do. With that in mind, it is our responsibility to protect Delta, and we are taking additional temporary steps to preserve cash to help us through this crisis.”

After the President signed the bill into law on March 27, Bastian sent another memo on the same day saying that cuts would still be coming – even though $29 billion of the bailout came in the form of grants that were supposed to protect job security.

The bill, he wrote, was just “one of several steps that we have outlined over the past two weeks designed to protect jobs and our airline. Those include the cash raised in the financial markets; salary reductions for officers and directors; voluntary leaves; reduction in work hours as we substantially downsize our operation; and expense reductions that come from consolidating airport facilities, closing many Delta Sky Clubs, deferring nonessential maintenance and pausing all nonessential capital projects.”

“I know that a temporary reduction in work hours as we shrink the operation is difficult,” Bastian added. “But at Delta we’ve always shared our success, and we stand together to face our challenges as well. This shared sacrifice protects everyone’s jobs and helps ensure that we’ll keep climbing, together, when the crisis passes and we begin our recovery.”

One Delta employee told Business Insider that the reduction in hours was mandatory. Unlike at other airlines, most of Delta’s employees are not represented by collective bargaining agreements, and consequently do not have minimum work-hour entitlements.

At United Airlines, Business Insider noted that with the reduction in flights, pilots and flight attendants who are normally only paid for their time in the air will see a 25-to-30 percent reduction in hours and pay. A United executive told the media outlet that flight attendants will be paid for the minimum number of monthly work hours they’re entitled to receive under their union contract.

According to an official from the Association of Flight Attendants union, that means 71-78 hours depending on how each flight attendant’s schedule is normally structured when they normally work 85-110 flight hours.

TravelPulse reached out to a couple of pilots for their experience. One works for Delta, the other for United.

Both wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussion, but each confirmed their hours and pay are being cut in April.

“I’m just sitting at home waiting to see how it shakes out right now, but it doesn’t look good,” the Delta pilot said.

The United pilot called it a “bad situation.” But he did confirm he accepted a pay cut knowing it meant his fellow colleagues wouldn’t completely lose their jobs.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Coronavirus: Flydubai staff to take three-month pay cut

Flydubai spokesperson said decision offers ‘stability at a time of uncertainty’

The Dubai-based low-cost carrier grounded all passenger flights earlier this month following orders from the UAE Government aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Staff at Flydubai are set to take a three-month pay cut from April.

The Dubai-based low-cost carrier grounded all passenger flights earlier this month following orders from the UAE Government aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The ban, enforced from March 24, is in place for 14 days, although it could be extended further.

A spokesperson for the airline said the impact of Covid-19 has had a “significant impact” on the company.

“The airline has had to adapt to this fast-evolving situation and to protect employment has taken the decision to reduce the salaries of employees for a three-month period from April 2020,” the Flydubai spokesperson said.

“This decision has not been taken lightly. It has been made to offer some stability at a time of uncertainty and to minimise the impact on all its employees when the normal pattern of life has been disrupted.”

Measures have been taken by the airline to avoid employees at a lower grade from being impacted. There is no change to employees’ benefits, the airline said.

“These measures have been taken by the senior management team with a heavy heart but with the aim of retaining our employees and ensuring we are in the best possible place when our regular schedule resumes,” the Flydubai spokesperson added.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines worldwide could lose $252 billion in revenue this year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Dubai's RTA waives parking fees for 2 weeks amid Covid-19 outbreak

The initiative is designed to support the public during the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s work from home initiative

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced that paid and multi-story parking throughout Dubai will be free of charge for a two-week period starting on March 31 as part of its initiatives to help alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

. @rta_dubai announces that paid and multi storey parking in Dubai will be free of charge for two weeks from tomorrow Tuesday 31 March up to Monday 13 April 2020. #Dubai— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) March 30, 2020

According to the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, the initiative “supports the public during the period of preventative measures against Covid-19 and the national disinfection programme of the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Ministry of Interior.”

“It also supports the government’s remote work initiative and its directives to citizens and residents to stay home.”

The move was immediately praised by local residents.

Thanks @rtadubai, this will really helps resident of Dubai.— muhammad khaiz (@mkhaiz999) March 30, 2020

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Qantas secures new funding as coronavirus battle continues

Qantas has completed a new round of debt funding, securing $1.05 billion in additional liquidity to strengthen its position as it manages through the Coronavirus outbreak.

This debt has been secured against part of the group’s fleet of unencumbered aircraft, which were bought with cash in recent years.

The loan has a tenure of up to ten years at an interest rate of 2.75 per cent.

This funding increases the group’s available cash balance to $2.95 billion with an additional $1 billion undrawn facility remaining available.

The group’s net debt position remains at the “low end” of its target range, at $5.1 billion, with no major debt maturities until June next year.

In line with the rest of the Qantas debt book, the new funding contains no financial covenants.

With a further $3.5 billion in unencumbered assets, the Qantas Group retains flexibility to increase its cash balance as a prudent measure in the current climate, a statement added.

As previously announced, various steps have been taken to significantly reduce activity levels and costs given the dramatic revenue impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the related travel restrictions on Jetstar and Qantas passenger services.

The carrier earlier confirmed swingeing cuts to services and staffing.

Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce, said: “Over the past few years we’ve significantly strengthened our balance sheet and we’re now able to draw on that strength under what are exceptional circumstances.

“Everything we’re doing at the moment is focused on guaranteeing the long-term future of the national carrier, including making sure our people have jobs to return to when we have work for them again.”

Coronavirus

For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Private jet bookings spike during coronavirus crisis

Driven in part by the relatively spacious confines of
private aircraft, some private jet charter companies reported spikes in
inquiries and bookings as the Covid-19 virus began to all but halt the travel
industry during the first half of this month. The relative safety of the small
planes was a driving factor. 

“We’re seeing a huge difference in the amount of inquiries
that are coming and in the types of clients that are making requests and the
types of flights we are organizing,” Richard Zaher, CEO of Washington,
D.C.-based Paramount Business Jets, said during a mid-March interview. 

Similarly, Europe’s GlobeAir said that over three weeks in
late February and early March, it saw a 27% year-over-year increase in
bookings.

The company asserted that private jets have just 1/30th the
exposure touchpoints to the coronavirus as a typical commercial flight.

While the specifics of that figure can surely be debated,
the relatively uncrowded confines of private jets, as well as the relatively
uncrowded terminals they operate from, inarguably add to their appeal during a
time when the White House has advised against gatherings of more than 10 people
and states and cities have implemented bans to that effect.

In a survey released March 20, Private Jet Card Comparisons,
a website and buyers guide that tracks the private jet for-hire industry, found
that 33% of private jet users still expected private flying to increase
compared to last year, while 37% anticipate a decrease. Notably, 46% of
respondents said they were most likely to use a private jet in the next three
to four months in order to relocate a family member. In addition, 35% said they
would use a private jet for critical business trips. The survey was comprised
of 90 people who flew an average of 111 private jet hours in 2019, according to
Private Jet Card Comparisons editor-in-chief Doug Gollan.

Zaher said that Paramount received a 300% jump in calls
immediately after the European travel ban was announced on March 11. Many of
those inquirers gave up after learning of the cost. And cancellations have also
increased because of the Covid-19 virus.

Still, he said business through the first half of March was
up 25% to 30% year-over-year.

Many of the customers are new and a lot of them are elderly.

“All of it is directly related to the coronavirus and the
fear around coronavirus and the fears in flying in a commercial airliners,”
Zaher said.

Like commercial airlines, private jet companies have rolled
out more rigorous cleaning regimens due to Covid-19. For example, Omaha-based
JetLinx has begun touting its use of the Bioprotectus System. The system,
JetLinx says, “encompasses an array of EPA registered and FDA compliant
technologies that disinfect and inhibit the growth and spread of problematic
bacteria, fungi, algae, mold and viruses.”

Private jet company customers often join jet card programs,
which typically lock in prices for a year and ease the booking and cancellation
processes.

JetLinx last week rolled out a 90-day jet card membership
program.

That shorter program, said CEO Jamie Walker, “ is just one
more way we are making our services available to those who are not part of our
program but need a flight solution that safeguards their health and provides
guaranteed mobility during this time of uncertainty.”  

Gollan said that the cost of renting a six-seat private jet
typically starts at around $5,000 per hour for a one-way flight. Roundtrip
rates are less expensive.

“For travel agents who have wealthy clients that they know
have the budget, a jet card makes it an easy way for them to travel,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Airbus uses test aircraft to ferry medical supplies amid coronavirus outbreak

A weekend flight transported 2 million masks from China to Europe, where they will be donated to French and Spanish authorities

Airbus has begun using its test aircraft to obtain large quantities of medical supplies from suppliers in China.

European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus is expected to partially resume production and assembly work at its facilities in France and Spain and is using its test aircraft to ferry medical supplies around the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company has announced.

On Monday, March 23, work is likely to resume at its facilities following healthy and safety checks by French and Spanish authorities that led to a four-day suspension of production and assembly activities.

In a statement, Airbus said that it now focused on supporting those in health, emergency and public services that rely on its aircraft, helicopters, satellites and services to accomplish their missions.

Additionally, the company has begun using its test aircraft to obtain large quantities of medical supplies from suppliers in China.

A flight over the weekend, for example, used a test A330-800 aircraft to transport approximately 2 million masks from China to Europe, the bulk of which will be donated to Spanish and French authorities.

More flights are planned for the coming days.

“Health and safety is our number one priority at Airbus so the work stations at our sites in France and Spain will only re-open if they meet the required standards,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “At the same time we are doing all we can to support those on the frontline to fight the coronavirus and limit its spread.”

In February, the Airbus final assembly line in Tianjin, China re-opened after a temporary stoppage caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Private jet bookings spike during coronavirus crisis

Driven in part by the relatively spacious confines of
private aircraft, some private jet charter companies reported spikes in
inquiries and bookings as the Covid-19 virus began to all but halt the travel
industry during the first half of this month. The relative safety of the small
planes was a driving factor. 

“We’re seeing a huge difference in the amount of inquiries
that are coming and in the types of clients that are making requests and the
types of flights we are organizing,” Richard Zaher, CEO of Washington,
D.C.-based Paramount Business Jets, said during a mid-March interview. 

Similarly, Europe’s GlobeAir said that over three weeks in
late February and early March, it saw a 27% year-over-year increase in
bookings.

The company asserted that private jets have just 1/30th the
exposure touchpoints to the coronavirus as a typical commercial flight.

While the specifics of that figure can surely be debated,
the relatively uncrowded confines of private jets, as well as the relatively
uncrowded terminals they operate from, inarguably add to their appeal during a
time when the White House has advised against gatherings of more than 10 people
and states and cities have implemented bans to that effect.

In a survey released March 20, Private Jet Card Comparisons,
a website and buyers guide that tracks the private jet for-hire industry, found
that 33% of private jet users still expected private flying to increase
compared to last year, while 37% anticipate a decrease. Notably, 46% of
respondents said they were most likely to use a private jet in the next three
to four months in order to relocate a family member. In addition, 35% said they
would use a private jet for critical business trips. The survey was comprised
of 90 people who flew an average of 111 private jet hours in 2019, according to
Private Jet Card Comparisons editor-in-chief Doug Gollan.

Zaher said that Paramount received a 300% jump in calls
immediately after the European travel ban was announced on March 11. Many of
those inquirers gave up after learning of the cost. And cancellations have also
increased because of the Covid-19 virus.

Still, he said business through the first half of March was
up 25% to 30% year-over-year.

Many of the customers are new and a lot of them are elderly.

“All of it is directly related to the coronavirus and the
fear around coronavirus and the fears in flying in a commercial airliners,”
Zaher said.

Like commercial airlines, private jet companies have rolled
out more rigorous cleaning regimens due to Covid-19. For example, Omaha-based
JetLinx has begun touting its use of the Bioprotectus System. The system,
JetLinx says, “encompasses an array of EPA registered and FDA compliant
technologies that disinfect and inhibit the growth and spread of problematic
bacteria, fungi, algae, mold and viruses.”

Private jet company customers often join jet card programs,
which typically lock in prices for a year and ease the booking and cancellation
processes.

JetLinx last week rolled out a 90-day jet card membership
program.

That shorter program, said CEO Jamie Walker, “ is just one
more way we are making our services available to those who are not part of our
program but need a flight solution that safeguards their health and provides
guaranteed mobility during this time of uncertainty.”  

Gollan said that the cost of renting a six-seat private jet
typically starts at around $5,000 per hour for a one-way flight. Roundtrip
rates are less expensive.

“For travel agents who have wealthy clients that they know
have the budget, a jet card makes it an easy way for them to travel,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Emirates reverses decision to suspend all passenger flights

Emirates will continue to fly to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, the United States and Canada

Emirates will continue to fly to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, the United States and Canada.

Dubai carrier Emirates reversed on Sunday its decision to suspend all passenger flights, shortly after it said it would halt operations from March 25 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The airline said it “received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers” and will continue to operate passenger flights to 13 destinations, down from its usual 159.

Emirates will continue to fly to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, the United States and Canada.

The announcement was made just hours after a previous statement said the carrier “will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations” by March 25.

“We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services,” said the airline’s chairman and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

The United Arab Emirates on Friday announced its first two deaths from the Covid-19 disease, having reported 153 infections so far, of which 38 people have recovered.

Maktoum said that, until January this year, the Emirates Group was “doing well” against current financial year targets, but “Covid-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past six weeks”.

“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.

Emirates also announced it will reduce the basic salaries of a majority of employees by between 25 and 50 percent for three months, but will not cut jobs.

“Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut, as we want to protect our workforce,” Maktoum said. “We want to avoid cutting jobs.”

Gulf countries have imposed various restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the air transport sector.

The UAE has stopped granting visas on arrival and forbidden foreigners who are legal residents but are outside the country from returning.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Emirates airline to suspend most passenger flights from March 25

Emirates will continue to operate flights to the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada

Emirates will continue to operate flights to airports in the UK, like Heathrow. The group’s airfield services firm Dnata will also significantly reduce its operations, including temporary closure of operations at some international locations where demand is low.

Emirates airline will suspend most of its passenger flights by March 25, but retain its cargo operations, the airline announced today.

The airline earlier announced that all flights would be suspended, but following requests from governments and customers regarding the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights a number of select countries until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand

Emirates will continue to operate flights to: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada. As the situation remains dynamic, Emirates said travellers should check flight status on its website emirates.com.

The group’s airfield services firm Dnata will also significantly reduce its operations, including temporary closure of operations at some international locations where demand is low.

The impact for staff is a basic salary reduction for majority of employees for three months –  but the airline insisted is will not cut jobs.

Emirates airline said since the outbreak of Covid-19, it has aimed to maintain passenger flights for as long as feasible to help travellers return home, amidst an increasing number of travel bans, restrictions, and country lockdowns across the world.

The airline said its international air cargo links will remain in place, deploying its fleet of 11 Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods – including medical supplies – across the world.

Unprecedented crisis

“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group.

“This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint. Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets. But COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past 6 weeks.”

He said, as a global airline, Emirates could not “viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns”.

“By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services,” he added.

Sheikh Ahmed said the group has a “strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity”, which meant that it could survive through a prolonged period of reduced flight schedules.

Cost reduction measures

The Emirates Group said it has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs, including:

  • Postponing or cancelling discretionary expenditure
  • A freeze on all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work
  • Working with suppliers to find cost savings and efficiency
  • Encouraging employees to take paid or unpaid leave in light of reduced flying capacity

Salary

The majority of employees in Emirates Group will have a temporary reduction in salary for the next three months, ranging from 25% to 50%. Emirates said employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time. Junior level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction.

The airline revealed that Presidents of Emirates and Dnata – Sir Tim Clark and Gary Chapman – will take a 100% basic salary cut for three months

“Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut as we want to protect our workforce and keep our talented and skilled people, as much as possible,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

“We want to avoid cutting jobs. When demand picks up again, we also want to be able to quickly ramp up and resume services for our customers.”

Source: Read Full Article