Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying

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Harvard study finds ventilation systems on planes filter out 99% of airborne viruses
Harvard study finds ventilation systems on planes filter out 99% of airborne viruses
Credit: unsplash.com / Alev Takil

A study by Harvard University found that the ventilation systems on planes filter out 99% of airborne viruses and "effectively counters the proximity travelers are subject to during flights." Thus the risk of contracting Covid-19 on airplanes is lower than in a grocery store if precautions are being followed, including wearing masks and screening passengers for symptoms.

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Deutsche Bahn extends train routes between German metropolises
Deutsche Bahn extends train routes between German metropolises
Credit: unsplash.com / Yannes Kiefer

Deutsche Bahn has published its new timetable, which comes into effect on the 13th of December. The company intends to offer 13,000 additional seats by the end of the year by expanding its train fleet. Among other things, the long-distance trains will then run between Hamburg and Berlin at 30-minute intervals. From June 13, 2021, the railroad plans to deploy its XXL-ICE with 918 seats on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Basel-Zurich-Chur route for the first time.

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SpaceX and Pentagon sign contract to jointly develop rocket that is able to ship weapons around the world
SpaceX and Pentagon sign contract to jointly develop rocket that is able to ship weapons around the world
Credit: unsplash.com / Tim Mossholder

A new military contract has been signed by SpaceX and the Pentagon with the goal to develop a new rocket. Using a specialized rocket that is able to land after the flight, the Pentagon would be able to move "the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour".

The first tests are expected to begin in 2021.

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KLM flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam searched after bomb threat
A KLM Boeing 737
A KLM Boeing 737 Credit: Julian Herzog (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters reports that the Saturday KLM flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam (KL1376) was evacuated before just before the departure on after a bomb threat was received, which later appeared to have been a false alarm.

KLM informed that passengers and crew have been taken off-board of the Boeing 737 and are safe, the flight will departure now on Sunday

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Dutch minister in doubt of Air France-KLM's future without more cost cuts
Dutch minister in doubt of Air France-KLM's future without more cost cuts
Credit: Nabil Molinari (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Dutch Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said Sunday Air France-KLM needs to lower its costs to survive its current crisis. Air France-KLM stated last month that it was losing 10 million euros per day due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In an interview with the Dutch public television, Hoekstra said, "The survival of Air France-KLM is not a given, They will have to address their cost base even as things stand now. And suppose this situation lasts until the end of next year, then they will have to cut even deeper."

Back in July, French and Dutch governments loaned a total of €10.4 billion, and in return, KLM has said it would reduce its staff by 20%, and Air France would reduce 16% of its workforce, through 2022.

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Lufthansa has 1.2 million outstanding applications for Covid-19 related ticket refunds
Lufthansa has 1.2 million outstanding applications for Covid-19 related ticket refunds
Credit: unsplash.com/Kevin Hackert

AUA parent Lufthansa is making progress with the reimbursement of cancelled tickets from the Corona crisis. In the current year, the group has now returned 2.5 billion euros to 5.6 million customers, the group announced on Friday. However, this still leaves 1.2 million applications open, with a volume of around 600 million euros.

In the past seven days, 20,000 cases were settled daily, according to the company. If things had continued at the same pace without new cancellations, the applications would have been cleared in 60 days. The Group had announced that it would settle the cases from the first half of the year by the end of August.

According to EU law, airlines are obliged to refund the ticket price within seven days if they initiate cancellations. Following the collapse of air traffic in March, Lufthansa switched off automatic refund processes and insisted on individual case reviews.

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Air India plane breaks into two after landing in Kerala
Boeing 737 that crashed in Calicut
Boeing 737 that crashed in Calicut Credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (Public Domain)

The Air India Express plane from Dubai crashed in the southern city of Calicut in Kerala. The Boeing-737 plane had 191 passengers and crew on board when it crashed under heavy rain on Friday, police said.

At least fifteen people including both pilots died in the crash. Most onboard have been evacuated and at least 50 injured, including 15 in serious condition, have been taken to hospital, authorities said.

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Italy threatens to ban Ryanair over Covid-19 compliance
Boeing 737 Ryanair
Boeing 737 Ryanair Credit: Dylan Agbagni (Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

ENAC, the Italian air transport regulator, has threatened to suspend Ryanair from flying to Italy over what it claims were "repeated violation of anti-Covid-19 health measures drafted by the Italian government".

Ryanair said in a statement that ENAC’s assertions were "factually incorrect" and that the company "complies fully with the measures set out by the Italian government."

Italian rules require passengers to maintain distance from others unless other precautions are taken including controlled boarding and disembarkation to avoid close contact, temperature tests and the wearing of face masks.

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Embraer reports commercial aviation revenue down by 82%
KLM Embraer 190
KLM Embraer 190 Credit: Dylan Agbagni (Public Domain)

Embraer announced Wednesday that its commercial aviation revenue had fallen by 82% to $109 million in the second quarter because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company had a net loss of $315 million in the quarter.

The company also stated that 50% of its aircraft orders have been deferred to 2022, but despite having no cancelled orders, Embraer cautioned that long deferrals would make 2021 difficult.

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EVA Air will have a Hello Kitty-themed flight to nowhere on August 8
EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER with Hello Kitty painting
EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER with Hello Kitty painting Credit: Jeffhuang0627 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

EVA Air announced Monday it will be celebrating Father’s Day, August 8 in Taiwan, by selling tickets to a Hello Kitty flight to nowhere. The company is looking for innovative ways to get in the air again despite travel restrictions to other countries.

The Hello Kitty-themed plane will take off from Taipei Taoyuan Airport and will land three hours later back at the same location.

During the flight, guests onboard will be treated to a special amenity kit filled with gifts, and be given the chance to purchase Hello Kitty duty-free items at a steep discount. The company also announced passengers would be served a meal designed by Michelin three-star chef Motokazu Nakamura.

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Airbus to reduce production of A350
Airbus A350
Airbus A350 Credit: wallycacsabre (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Airbus announced Thursday that it will reduce the production of the A350 aircraft to only five units per month, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the company's second-quarter results. Airbus had already reduced the A350 production from 9.5 to 6 planes per month in April.

The company is cutting up to 15,000 jobs to deal with the crisis, which it expects to hold output down by 40% for some two years compared with pre-crisis levels.

CEO Guillaume Faury stated, “We believe it is going to be a long and slow recovery,”.

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Boeing to end production of the 747 in 2022
Boeing 747-400 Dreamliner
Boeing 747-400 Dreamliner Credit: Brian (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Boeing CEO, Dave Calhoun, has announced Wednesday the company will end production of the 747 in 2022. Boeing will keep producing the aircraft at a rate of one every two months until the programme ends, with the US president’s Air Force One expected to be one of the last deliveries.

According to analysts, the end of the 747 programme has been hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put Boeing’s customers under even greater pressure and forced them to re-evaluate the usage of planes that rely on hundreds of passengers to be profitable.

Qantas, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Lufthansa already decided for the retirement of their 747 fleets.

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Germany: Berlin airports begins mass Covid-19 testing
Berlin Tegel Airport
Berlin Tegel Airport Credit: Matti Blume (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Berlin airports began large scale and free Covid-19 testing on Wednesday. The Berlin Brandenburg Airport Company (FBB), the Charité and the Berlin Senate planned that returnees from high-risk areas could be tested as soon as they land on the German capital.

Passengers with a negative coronavirus test result will not be required to go into the 14 days domestic quarantine.

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Delta Airlines CEO states that over 100 passengers have been banned over mask requirement
Delta Airlines CEO states that over 100 passengers have been banned over mask requirement
Credit: Delta News Hub (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The CEO of Delta Airlines ED Bastian has stated in an interview with NBC News that as Covid-19 measures all planes are getting sanitized, booked to only 60 percent of their capacity and all passengers and employees are required to wear masks on the planes at all times.

He also stated that over 100 people have been banned from flying over refusing to wear a mask. People that claim to have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are required to talk to a Doctor from the University of Pittsburg Medical Center in order to assess if the condition indeed prevents passengers from wearing a mask on the airplane.

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Boeing 737 MAX not expected to fly before October
Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing 737 MAX Credit: Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Reuters report that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is unlikely to unground the Boeing 737 MAX before sometime in October. The aircraft was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal accidents that killed 346 people.

Boeing has said it expects to resume deliveries of the 737 MAX before September 30 following regulatory approval.

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British Airways retires entire 747 fleet
British Airways BOAC liveried aircraft
British Airways BOAC liveried aircraft Credit: British Airways

British Airways (BA) will retire its entire Boeing 747 fleet with immediate effect after the downturn in travel sparked by the Covid-19 outbreak. The company, the world’s largest operator of the 747, had initially planned to retire the last of its 747 on 2024.

BA said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.".

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Senegal: International flights resumed
Check-In area at Aéroport international Blaise Diagne, Senegal
Check-In area at Aéroport international Blaise Diagne, Senegal Credit: Jjm2311 / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Senegal resumed international flights on July 15th. Air traffic had been on hold for almost four months. Travelling passengers have to produce a negative Coronavirus test that's not older than seven days.

Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, General Director of Public Health: "‘Today, to come to Senegal, we demand strict compliance with border measures, namely the wearing of masks. Everybody wears a mask, you have the physical distance, even at the seats where you rest. We have alcohol-based gels everywhere, even at the ATMs."

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Delta loses $5.7 billion in second quarter, cuts number of planned flights in half
Delta loses $5.7 billion in second quarter, cuts number of planned flights in half
Credit: unsplash.com/Miguel Ángel Sanz

Covid-19 is taking its toll on the airline industry. Delta is reporting a 88 percent decline in revenue, which contributes to a $5.7b net loss in the second quarter of 2020. The sharp decline forces the airline to cut the number of planned daily flights for next month in half, adding only 500 instead of the planned 1,000.

“Demand has stalled as the virus has grown, particularly down here in the South, across the Sun Belt, coupled with the quarantine measures that are going in place in many of the Northern states,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC.

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Air New Zealand halts new bookings on request of Government
Air New Zealand plane at Auckland Airport
Air New Zealand plane at Auckland Airport Credit: unsplash.com/Will Waters

Air New Zealand is limiting capacities on international inbound flights to "help ensure the country is able to provide quarantine accommodation for inbound passengers." In its recently issued press release, the airline also announced a temporary hold on new bookings following a request from the New Zealand Government and that affected customers would be contacted. Domestic and outbound flights are not affected by these restrictions.

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Union seeks Embraer's Board ouster after failed Boeing deal
E190 airplane from Embraer
E190 airplane from Embraer Credit: Antônio Milena/ Agência Brasil

The Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos e Região, the workers' union representing employees of Embraer, filed a lawsuit on Friday seeking to dismiss the company’s board after the $4.2 billion failed merger with Boeing.

"Embraer has been treated merely as a market issue. This is a strategic company for the country and can't be at the mercy of shareholders' interests. It is necessary to hold the Administrative Council responsible for the crimes that are being committed against this national patrimony and its workers ", states union director Herbert Claros.

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Ryanair to challenge TAP bailout in courts
Ryanair to challenge TAP bailout in courts
Credit: Marc Najera

Ryanair announced Friday it would go to European courts to challenge the latest Portuguese government’s investment in TAP. The government reached a deal with private shareholders of TAP to increase its state in the company to 72.5%.

Before the bailout, the Portuguese state had 50% of TAP and Atlantic Gateway, owned by Brazilian-American aviation businessman David Neeleman and Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa, had 45% of the airline, which suffered heavy losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Alitalia to resume international flights from Milan
Alitalia to resume international flights from Milan
Credit: ERIC SALARD (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Alitalia on Wednesday resumed international flights from Milan Malpensa airport to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London, as Italy gradually reopens its airports to foreign travellers and scraps restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

Also, during this month, the company will start flying to a dozen domestic destinations from Milan Malpensa.

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Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs as pandemic causes plunge in demand
Airbus A380
Airbus A380 Credit: unsplash.com/G-R Mottez

In a statement released on Tuesday, Airbus announced it would be cutting around 15,000 jobs over the next twelve months as the company experiences a plunge in demand for new aircraft. The European Aerospace corporation has production facilities in Spain, the UK and Germany and employs over 134,000 people globally.

"Airbus is grateful for the government support that has enabled the company to limit these necessary adaptation measures," the statement read. "However with air traffic not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures to reflect the post Covid-19 industry outlook."

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Boeing 737 MAX certification flight tests to begin Monday
Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing 737 MAX Credit: Aka The Beav (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Pilots and test crew members from the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing aim to kick off Monday a certification test campaign for the 737 Max on Monday, expected to last at least three days.

The 737 Max has been grounded since March 2019, two crashes - a Lion Air flight and an Ethiopian Airlines flight - within five months of each other involving a faulty flight control system, known as MCAS.

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Lufthansa shareholders approve €9 billion bailout
Planes parked in Frankfurt
Planes parked in Frankfurt Credit: Oliver Roesler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Lufthansa shareholders voted in favour of a €9 billion bailout from the German government on Thursday, following a tense week in which Heinz Hermann, the company's most significant shareholder, threatened to block the deal.

"We have no more money," Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley told shareholders. "We are living from the reserves we set aside. Without support, bankruptcy looms in the next few days."

Ryanair announced it plans to challenge the deal through European courts.

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More than 30% of civilian pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses
PIA international airoplane
PIA international airoplane Credit: Shadman Samee (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Pakistan's aviation minister, revealed 262 pilots in the country paid someone else to take the pilot license exam on their behalf. Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its domestic airlines, including the country's flagship PIA.

Khan said that pilots holding fake licenses or degrees, working in any airline, will be grounded immediately.

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EasyJet raises $520 million in share sale
Airbus A320 of EasyJet
Airbus A320 of EasyJet Credit: MercerMJ (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

EasyJet raised about $520 million in a share sale, almost 15% of its existing share base, to enable the company to survive for many more months even if air travel does recover in a slower pace than predicted.

The company has said it does not expect passenger demand to come back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 and is planning to cut up to 4,500 jobs.

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London City Airport reopens and resumes commercial air travel
Airplane approaching London City Airport
Airplane approaching London City Airport Credit: unsplash.com/Daniel Klein

London City Airport is reopening after having stopped all private and commercial flights on March 25. The airport will focus on domestic flights first, with the first plane departing to the Isle of Man on Sunday. Flights to European cities are expected in the coming weeks.

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American Airlines bans passenger over refusal to wear mask

A spokesperson for American Airlines has announced that a man was banned from flying with the airline after the person refused to wear a facemask and was kicked off the plane. This has been the first enforcement of the new rule after American Airlines had announced it. The airline stated that the person had ignored requests by the crew, offered a later flight and then later banned after the incident had been reviewed. The ban will be lifted when American Airlines decides to lift the mask requirement alltogether at some point in the future.

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Swedish and Danish governments to rescue SAS airline
SAS plane at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, Sweden
SAS plane at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, Sweden Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz

The Scandinavian airline SAS presented on June 15 a recapitalisation plan estimated in $1.3 billion. The company's two principal shareholders Sweden, with a 14.8% stake in the carrier, and Denmark, with a 14.2% share, are expected to inject capital to help the airline face the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The aim of the plan is to ensure that SAS is fully funded and that shareholders’ equity will be at levels reported before the COVID-19 pandemic when anticipated business volumes return to pre-corona levels in 2022,” SAS said in a statement.