European governments have failed in their approach to tackling the COVID-19 crisis and should completely rethink their strategy on aviation, the CEO of Wizz Air has told Routes Reconnected.

Europe has failed in its approach to tackling the COVID-19 crisis and should completely rethink its strategy on aviation, the CEO of Wizz Air has told Routes Reconnected.

Speaking on the third day of the event, József Váradi said that governments “have not done anything good” for the industry since the outbreak, either in terms of their approaches to restrictions or airline financing.

“Europe, which is supposed to be a fairly well-defined way of cooperating between countries, has failed miserably on everything,” Váradi said. “We are operating to 46 countries and for over eight months I cannot find two countries that have applied the same measures.

“I think it is a miserable failure of governments and it’s a miserable failure of politics. It’s a miserable failure of the whole system.”

In addition, Váradi said, the “various political agendas” have been leading governments’ responses, rather than tackling the health crisis.

“Measures like closing borders or putting people into quarantines just because they were flying from one place to another have nothing to do with a pandemic; these are political measures,” Váradi said.

“What is the difference between someone flying domestically and that person is not subject to any of measures, but someone crossing the border would be? This is just politics.”

Váradi also claimed that government’s financial support for airlines is being misused because those carriers will not be able to focus on restructuring to become more efficient post-COVID.

He predicted that governments owning equity in carriers will lead to “long-term distortion” in the market and could come with higher charges as they seek to recoup their investment.

“All this money that has been put into the airline industry is simply a waste of money,” he said. “It’s not going to achieve pretty much anything other than keeping a few airlines alive, but these airlines will not be better coming out of the process.”

“They are protecting employment, because the government is requesting this, but this is actually conserving inefficiencies in the system.

“They are not renewing their fleets; actually they will be flying an ageing fleet in the future, much less efficient, much more costly. So you will see long term structural issues here.”

Photo credit: Wizz Air

 

(c) 2020 –  Routes Reconnected.

The Hub & Spoke structure will be key to Aviation’s recovery, KLM CEO says

Pieter Elbers believes the hub-and-spoke model will be crucial to the restoration of long-haul passenger traffic.

Speaking during a keynote interview as part of the Routes Reconnected conference program, he dismissed the suggestion that a rethink of the hub-and-spoke model might be necessary, believing that connecting traffic will return strongly once COVID-19 vaccines are available and passenger confidence returns.

Elbers explained that pre-pandemic point-to-point services to secondary long-haul markets would likely prove uneconomical over the coming years.

“Looking at the long-haul side, a lot of the thinner routes between midsize European cities and midsize US cities were established over the past few years—which were good economic years with solid demand,” he said.

“Obviously with the step back we are taking now, those routes can no longer sustain direct flights. Traffic is therefore going to be channelled through hubs. Within Europe it may be a bit different… but I believe that hub and spoke will lead that recovery trajectory.”

Elbers said that KLM operated between 60 and 70 long-haul destinations before the coronavirus outbreak and has resumed about 70%, including restarting services from its Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) hub to Chengdu (CTU) and Beijing Capital (PEK) in China.

He added that the SkyTeam alliance member would “fly wherever we can fly” when it comes to rebuilding its long-haul network—although some routes remain cargo-only, and flight frequencies would remain lower for some time.

Across KLM’s European network, the carrier served 80 to 90 destinations before the COVID-19 crisis and has restored about 90% of those destinations. However, capacity remains around 40 to 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

Although Elbers admitted that KLM is braced for “a pretty cold winter,” he said there has been cause for optimism in recent weeks given the positive news about coronavirus vaccines.

“We need to see how the Christmas break goes,” he said. “Clearly it will be very slow and very weak compared to pre-COVID, but at least it will be better than we had in November. I hope that after Christmas we can start building on the momentum we will see in the next couple of weeks.”

Elbers added that KLM plans to “step up capacity” on its long-haul network, mostly to places where the airline can connect to the networks of its partners. He also explained that the carrier’s approach to network planning would be “more agile, quicker and with more trial and error” than before the crisis began.

Photo credit: KLM

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released public opinion research showing the willingness to travel being tempered by concerns over the risks of catching COVID-19 during air travel. The industry’s re-start plans address passenger’s main concerns.

Concerns for Travel During COVID-19

Travelers are taking precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 with 77% saying that they are washing their hands more frequently, 71% avoiding large meetings and 67% having worn a facemask in public. Some 58% of those surveyed said that they have avoided air travel, with 33% suggesting that they will avoid travel in future as a continued measure to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.

Travelers identified their top three concerns as follows:

At the airport:
1. Being in a crowded bus/train on the way to the aircraft (59%)
2. Queuing at check-in/security/border control or boarding (42%)
3. Using airport restrooms/toilet facilities (38%)
On board Aircraft
1. Sitting next to someone who might be infected (65%)
2. Using restrooms/toilet facilities (42%)
3. Breathing the air on the plane (37%)

When asked to rank the top three measures that would make them feel safer:

– 37% cited COVID-19 screening at departure airports

– 34% agreed with mandatory wearing of facemasks

– 33% noted social distancing measures on aircraft

Passengers themselves displayed a willingness to play a role in keeping flying safe by:

  1. Undergoing temperature checks (43%)
  2. Wearing a mask during travel (42%)
  3. Checking-in online to minimize interactions at the airport (40%)
  4. Taking a COVID-19 test prior to travel (39%)
  5. Sanitizing their seating area (38%).

“People are clearly concerned about COVID-19 when traveling. But they are also reassured by the practical measures being introduced by governments and the industry under the Take-off guidance developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These include mask-wearing, the introduction of contactless technology in travel processes and screening measures. This tells us that we are on the right track to restoring confidence in travel. But it will take time. To have maximum effect, it is critical that governments deploy these measures globally,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The survey also pointed to some key issues in restoring confidence where the industry will need to communicate the facts more effectively. Travelers’ top on board concerns include:

Cabin air quality: Travelers have not made up their minds about cabin air quality. While 57% of travelers believed that air quality is dangerous, 55% also responded that they understood that it was as clean as the air in a hospital operating theatre. The quality of air in modern aircraft is, in fact, far better than most other enclosed environments. It is exchanged with fresh air every 2-3 minutes, whereas the air in most office buildings is exchanged 2-3 times per hour. Moreover, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters capture well over 99.999% of germs, including the Coronavirus.

Social distancing: Governments advise to wear a mask (or face covering) when social distancing is not possible, as is the case with public transport. This aligns with the expert ICAO Take-off guidance. Additionally, while passengers are sitting in close proximity on board, the cabin air flow is from ceiling to floor. This limits the potential spread of viruses or germs backwards or forwards in the cabin. There are several other natural barriers to the transmission of the virus on board, including the forward orientation of passengers (limiting face-to-face interaction), seatbacks that limit transmission from row-to-row, and the limited movement of passengers in the cabin.

There is no requirement for social distancing measures on board the aircraft from highly respected aviation authorities such as the US Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency or ICAO.

“It is no secret that passengers have concerns about the risk of transmission onboard. They should be reassured by the many built-in anti-virus features of the air flow system and forward-facing seating arrangements. On top of this, screening before flight and facial coverings are among the extra layers of protection that are being implemented by industry and governments on the advice of ICAO and the World Health Organization. No environment is risk free, but few environments are as controlled as the aircraft cabin. And we need to make sure that travelers understand that,” said de Juniac.

No Quick Solution

While nearly half of those surveyed (45%) indicated the they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding, this is a significant drop from the 61% recorded in the April survey. Overall, the survey results demonstrate that people have not lost their taste for travel, but there are blockers to returning to pre-crisis levels of travel:

  • A majority of travelers surveyed plan to return to travel to see family and friends (57%), to vacation (56%) or to do business (55%) as soon as possible after the pandemic subsides.
  • But, 66% said that they would travel less for leisure and business in the post-pandemic world.
  • And 64% indicated that they would postpone travel until economic factors improved (personal and broader).

“This crisis could have a very long shadow. Passengers are telling us that it will take time before they return to their old travel habits. Many airlines are not planning for demand to return to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024. Numerous governments have responded with financial lifelines and other relief measures at the height of the crisis. As some parts of the world are starting the long road to recovery, it is critical that governments stay engaged. Continued relief measures like alleviation from use-it-or-lose it slot rules, reduced taxes or cost reduction measures will be critical for some time to come,” said de Juniac.

One of the biggest blockers to industry recovery is quarantine. Some 85% of travelers reported concern for being quarantined while traveling, a similar level of concern to those reporting general concern for catching the virus when traveling (84%). And, among the measures that travelers were willing to take in adapting to travel during or after the pandemic, only 17% reported that they were will willing to undergo quarantine.

“Quarantine is a demand killer. Keeping borders closed prolongs the pain by causing economic hardship well beyond airlines. If governments want to re-start their tourism sectors, alternative risk-based measures are needed. Many are built into the ICAO Take-off guidelines, like health screening before departure to discourage symptomatic people from traveling. Airlines are helping this effort with flexible rebooking policies. In these last days we have seen the UK and the EU announce risk-based calculations for opening their borders. And other countries have chosen testing options. Where there is a will to open up, there are ways to do it responsibly,” said de Juniac.

The Survey

The 11-country survey, which was conducted during the first week of June 2020, assessed traveler concerns during the pandemic and the potential timelines for their return to travel. This is the third wave of the survey, with previous waves conducted at the end of February and the beginning of April. All those surveyed had taken at least one flight since July 2019.

For more information:

Corporate Communications

Tel: +41 22 770 2967

Email: corpcomms@iata.org

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 290 airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic.
  • You can follow us at https://twitter.com/iata for announcements, policy positions, and other useful industry information.

Etihad is set to add 15 new cities to its flight schedule from Thursday, July 16, meaning it will fly to 40 destinations across the globe next month.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

The airline will operate inbound and outbound flights to several new destinations across Europe, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

Flights to seven destinations in India make up part of the new flight schedule published on the airline’s website. This includes services to Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. To Europe, the airline is adding flights to five cities, including Manchester, Munich and Istanbul.

Regionally, Etihad will begin flying to Amman in Jordan and Cairo, Egypt. The UAE’s national airline is also set to resume flights from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives. This coincides with tourism reopening in the Indian Ocean archipelago on Wednesday, July 15.

“From 16 July, subject to the lifting of international restrictions and the reopening of individual markets, Etihad Airways plans to expand its current network to cover over 40 global destinations. These will include major gateways in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia,” confirmed an Etihad spokesperson.

Etihad will resume flights to these destinations from Thursday, July 16:

  • Amman   
  • Cairo
  • Dusseldorf
  • Istanbul
  • Manchester
  • Munich
  • Belgrade
  • Bengaluru
  • Kozhikode
  • Mumbai
  • Chennai
  • Hyderabad
  • Kochi
  • Delhi
  • Male

Negative test needed to enter Abu Dhabi airport from other emirates

The new schedule means that Etihad will now be flying to 40 cities worldwide: all routes have received approval from the UAE government.

Passengers are reminded to check the latest travel advice and regulations before booking a flight.

“All travellers must ensure that they meet the required entry, health and quarantine regulations set by the UAE authorities, and those at their destination,” said an Etihad spokesperson.

People flying into Abu Dhabi must have a valid UAE resident visa and ICA approval number before they can book travel.

Etihad’s website originally stated that passengers travelling to Abu Dhabi International Airport from Dubai or other emirates would not need a Covid-19 test to reach the airport. This advice has since been updated and all travellers now need a negative test before they can cross the Abu Dhabi border. “If you are travelling between emirates to reach the airport, you must prove that you have tested negative for Covid-19 within the past 48 hours,” confirmed Etihad.

Online check-in resumes

Etihad has also resumed its online check-in services. Travellers can use this service to check in and select a seat up to 30 hours ahead of a flight.

Some seats will appear unavailable to allow Etihad to follow social distancing guidelines. Travellers can also request seats upon arrival at the airport: check-in at the airport opens three hours ahead of flight times.

Previously, Etihad had suspended online check-in to allow staff to allocate seats to ensure social distancing on flights.

Emirates has recently reopened routes to 48 cities across the world and low-cost carrier Flydubai is taking bookings for flights to 24 destinations.

In this pre-travel checklist, we break down the separate Dubai and federal rules and how to exit or enter the UAE

Summer travel is set to soar as pupils finish school, federal travel restrictions are eased and tourists prepare to return to Dubai.

Whether you’re a UAE resident looking to travel abroad or a visitor flying in, there is an important checklist to tick off before you set out.

It is crucial to understand that Dubai, which has its own crisis authority and immigration service, has different rules than the rest of the country.

You should make sure you have researched both the UAE’s travel rules and those of your destination to ensure you aren’t caught out.

Here’s your pre-departure checklist:

I’m a Dubai resident travelling abroad this summer

– Before you book your flight, you should apply to Dubai’s immigration service, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, for permission to return. You will be given a file number which must be entered on your visa. You don’t technically need this to leave the country – but you will need it to return. For peace of mind, you should apply before you go. If you are travelling abroad for more than 30 days, you must apply once you’re abroad and well before your return flight.

– If you are flying with Emirates Airline, you need a GDRFA number to book your outward-bound journey. Other airlines do not require this.

– As a Dubai visa-holder you are not required by the emirate’s government or airlines to be tested for Covid before you fly. This is the main difference between Dubai and federal rules, outlined by the crisis authority Ncema.

– Despite this, many Dubai residents are paying the Dh370 cost of being tested as a precaution before they fly. “People do not want to be stopped at the airport with a positive test, so more patients are arriving for voluntary testing because they now want to travel,” Dr Sukhant Bagdia, a pulmonologist at NMC Royal Hospital, told The National this week.

– If you live in Dubai but work on a visa from another emirate, you must follow federal rules, which include getting approval from the ICA/Tawajudi system, and which is explained below.

– When you land in Dubai you will be tested at the airport and must quarantine at home until you get the results, which take up to two or three days. You do not have to self-isolate for 14 days unless your test result is positive.

I’m a tourist visiting Dubai from July 7

– You should take a PCR nasal swab test up to four days before your flight to Dubai, in a hospital or private clinic in your home country. Make sure you take the results to Dubai with you. If the test is valid and recognized, and you have no symptoms, you will not be tested in Dubai or quarantined.

– There is a list of clinics in more than 100 cities that are recognised by the UAE authorities. If you cannot find one, you can contact your airline for advice.

– If it is not possible to be tested before you travel, medics at Dubai airport will screen you when you land. In this case, you would need to take an airport taxi straight to your hotel and quarantine in your room until the results arrive, which can take up to two or three days. Visitors staying with family should isolate in a separate room with an en suite bathroom, where possible.

– Children of all ages must be tested.

I’m an Abu Dhabi or Northern Emirates resident travelling abroad this summer

– You must to apply to the federal government’s ICA/Tawajudi system for permission to travel abroad. This is a similar process to the GDRFA system but you cannot leave the country without it.

– You must test negative before you set out for Abu Dhabi or other UAE airports. “Without the valid negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of take-off, individuals will not be permitted to board the aircraft,” Ncema said in its most recent update.

Relatively few outbound flights are running at the moment but Etihad and other airlines plan to expand operations this month.

– Once in your home country or destination, you will need to be tested before you return to the Emirates. You can do so by visiting one of the clinics listed here, and should plan this well ahead of your trip. This is an important difference with Dubai’s system, which does not require this.

– On your return, you must present your negative test before you board the aircraft home to the UAE. On arrival, you must quarantine for 14 days – even if your test was negative – as a precaution.

– Regular inbound flights for tourists and visitors are not yet flying in to Abu Dhabi or Sharjah, among other emirates.

I’m an Abu Dhabi resident. Can I fly from Dubai?

– You can, but as a non-Dubai visa holder you should apply for ICA/Tawajudi approval before you leave. Even if your airline or the airport does not ask for this, you should apply before you go. Last month the government said about 200,000 people with UAE visas or residency were outside the country when the borders closed on March 19. It would be unwise to travel abroad without approval to return.

Contact tracing and health forms

– Whether you’re a resident or tourist, you can expect to fill out a health declaration form stating you feel healthy, and that you and your insurance will bear the costs of any Covid-19 treatment should you become ill.

– You must also download the government’s Al Hosn tracing app, which will deliver your test results and can help officials trace anyone you’ve been in contact with if you are later found to have the virus.

Travel and health insurance

– You should look carefully at your travel and health insurance, which can cost as little as Dh60 and is provided automatically with some bank accounts. If you or a relative tests positive for Covid-19 while abroad, you may need an extended stay in a hotel or apartment and have to rebook your flights. More importantly, you should ensure your family is well covered should you need potentially expensive hospital treatment.

It is worth looking at international health plans, which typically cover an extensive range of treatment around the world, but tend to be more expensive and require you to sign up for months or a year. Insurance companies such as Axa and Aetna, among others, provide such services.

Published on  23 June by Sébastien Fabre , Head of SITA FOR AIRCRAFT

Sébastien Fabre, who is heading SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, explains why the flexibility, adaptability and automation offered through digitalization will be central to airlines’ post-COVID-19 strategies.

Our global air transport industry is grappling with one of the single biggest challenges it has ever faced: how to recover from an historic decline in air travel, caused by COVID-19.

While we’re seeing travel restrictions starting to ease, and the ATI beginning to remobilize, no-one knows exactly what the next few months will bring.

What is clear, however, is that the industry will need to be able to adapt to a new – and changeable – operating environment; one that requires operators to keep passengers feeling safe and reassured, keep flights to time, and meet sustainability targets – all on a tightened budget.

Digitalization is vital here. Airlines and other businesses are going to need the flexibility, adaptability and automation offered by digital transformation to ride out the pandemic’s fall-out, adjust their business models and succeed into the future. To help them do it, they’ll need the right mix of solutions and expertise on their side.

Digitalizing to adapt to the needs of the future

Many airlines are facing restart with a scaled back and more scattered workforce. They are also weighing up a lot of big unknowns: which routes should be reopened and when, depending on country restrictions? How many passengers will return, and how quickly? Which aircraft should fly or be grounded? And what size flight and cabin crew will they need to serve them?

Airlines are facing all these questions, while knowing the rules could change from one day to the next.

Digitalizing technologies and innovations enable enhanced air/ground connectivity, communications and operational efficacy, and pool the latest real-time information, to support informed and timely decision-making. These prime resources help airlines flex and adapt to changing needs. While ideally being fast and simple to deploy, and intuitive to use, digital tools can also streamline routine tasks through automation to minimize workload.

Such solutions are very much the remit of SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, SITA’s connected aircraft domain of expertise.

Digitalizing to work smarter and leaner

We have developed a suite of connected applications and services, and technological capabilities that help airlines work in this more flexible, adaptive, automated and collaborative way.

They help bring enhanced operational and cost-effectiveness, while giving greater visibility over the ‘live’ nose-to-tail operation – whether that’s around situational weather events or restrictions, identifying the least cost-routing channels available for ACARS messaging, the status of passenger, cargo and aircraft health, or fueling requirements.

With our crew applications, airlines can ensure passenger safety and satisfaction onboard, while alleviating paper-based processes to make flights more sustainable.

Our cabin connectivity solutions, meanwhile, give passengers the low-touch autonomy they desire, enabling them to use their own devices to surf, stream, and pay and verify, contact-free.

And, for all our solutions and services, we strive to work closely with customers to develop flexible business models that can readily adapt to reflect needs as they change.

We’re here to help you through

In my new role heading SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, I am proud to play a part in advancing the flexible, agile solutions that can support our customers through this challenging time. We’re 100% dedicated to this industry and its success – and are here to help it navigate the right path to recovery.

As of 15 June 2020, Emirates has begun operating flights to 30 cities across the globe after drastically reducing services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the middle-east airline which has become a global hub, “Your safety has always been our highest priority. As routes slowly open and we take to the skies once more, it’s important you feel reassured and confident about your well being when you fly with us”.

Find out about the measures Emirates airline are taking to protect you at every step of your journey.

Before You Fly

From 1 July, we’ll restart our Chauffeur-drive service to and from the airport in Dubai and in the current destinations we fly to.

Your driver will be wearing a mask and gloves, and you will need to wear a mask when you enter the vehicle. You may also need to wear gloves depending on the regulations in your destination. We can offer these if you don’t have your own, and we also have hand sanitiser in the car.

To keep a safe distance between our driver and passengers, you will need to sit in the back seats and we’re limiting the number of people in each car.

The car is completely cleaned and disinfected from the start of every driver’s duty. And the interior is sanitised after every trip, including buckles, handles, buttons, switches and blinds.

Check-in

When you enter Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai you’ll need to wear a face mask. You don’t have to wear gloves, but it is recommended.

Only people who are travelling can enter the airport, unless you have a disability and need assistance to travel.

You’ll pass through a fever detection scanner that looks similar to the metal detectors at airport security. Then we’ll give you a complimentary travel hygiene kit containing gloves, a face mask, antibacterial wipes and a hand sanitiser.

Our check-in desks have been fitted with protective antimicrobial screens. And we’ve added spacing stickers on the floor to help everyone maintain a safe distance in the queue.

Make sure you pack everything into your checked-in bags. Cabin baggage is currently restricted to a laptop bag, handbag, briefcase, or baby items only.

Boarding

At the boarding gate, we’ve introduced measures to maintain social distancing in our seating areas, and dots on the floor help everyone to keep a safe distance in the queues approaching the gate.

Our team will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) as they welcome you on the flight. We’re boarding the aircraft in smaller groups from the last row to the first, and our boarding gate areas are deep cleaned once everyone is on the flight.

You will need to keep your mask on at all times in the airport, during boarding and on board.

 

 

On your flight

When you arrive on board, all our cabin crew will be in full personal protective equipment (PPE). You will need to wear your mask at all times throughout the flight, except when eating or drinking. Depending on the regulations in your destination you may also need to wear gloves or other PPE.

If you’re flying into Dubai, we’ll give you a hygiene kit on board containing a mask, gloves, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.

It’s our top priority to maintain strict levels of hygiene on board. So we’ve currently modified some of our services. You can check all our current services here.

We’re taking every precaution to mitigate

the contact in the cabin, including closing our social areas. We’re following all the guidance from the health and aviation authorities along with our additional safety measures to reduce the risk of infection on board. This includes our modified services, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, and ensuring everyone wears PPE.Throughout the flight, the air in our modern aircraft cabins is cleaned with advanced HEPA air filters as powerful as the ones used in hospitals. They remove 99.97% of viruses and eliminate dust, allergens and germs from the cabin air. The air is fully renewed every two to three minutes.

Our lavatories are frequently disinfected. And if the flight is longer than 1 hour 30 minutes, we’re adding an extra member of our cabin crew dedicated to cleaning the lavatories. After every trip, all our aircraft go through an enhanced cleaning and disinfection process.

Connecting in Dubai

If you have a connecting flight in Dubai, you will need to keep your mask on through the airport. You don’t have to wear gloves, but it is recommended. You’ll pass through a fever detection scanner before you enter the connections area.

All our transfer desks have been fitted with protective antimicrobial screens and all the airport teams will be in personal protective equipment (PPE). Stickers on the floor help everyone to keep a safe distance in queues, and we’ve spaced the seats in our waiting areas. We’ll give you a travel hygiene kit at the connections desk if you need one.

Regulations in your destination

We monitor the latest health developments, and regularly review and enhance our measures.

Check the specific safety measures in place in your destination so you can prepare for your journey. Find out what the requirements are on board and the health checks you can expect at the airport.

Check the safety measures in your destination