Airlines

Business • Economy
EasyJet is "hanging by a thread" due to Covid-19 pandemic, union official says
EasyJet is "hanging by a thread" due to Covid-19 pandemic, union official says
Credit: unsplash.com/Frederick Tubiermont

According to a union official, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has left the British low-cost airline group EasyJet "hanging by a thread".

"If easyJet don’t have a good summer and make money next summer, I suspect none of us will have a job this time next year," pilots’ union official Martin Entwisle said in a now leaked recording of an EasyJet staff conference call. Entwisle claimed the information was shared by the company’s chief financial officer, Andrew Findlay, who allegedly warned that the company's situation was "even worse than their worst fears."

"The easiest way to put it is: the company is hanging by a thread," Entwisl added.

EasyJet has denied that Entwisl's comments "reflect what EasyJet or its finance officer said."

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
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.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
German airline Condor to cut up to 1,000 jobs
Condor Airlines Airbus A320
Condor Airlines Airbus A320 Credit: Condorfan2205 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Condor's CEO, Ralf Teckentrup, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung the German airline will have to cut “between 650 and 1,000 jobs,” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company formerly owned by the Thomas Cook Group Plc is also planning a move to a smaller headquarters and save € 1 million per month.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Lufthansa to offer Covid-19 testing at Frankfurt and Munich airports
Lufthansa to offer Covid-19 testing at Frankfurt and Munich airports
Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz

Starting on early July Lufthansa plans to offer Covid-19 tests at airports in Frankfurt and Munich. An outsourced company will conduct the tests, and results will be available within four hours.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Austrian Airlines gets €450 million bailout
An Austrian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER departing JFK Airport
An Austrian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER departing JFK Airport Credit: Adam Moreira (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government announced today that it is granting Austrian Airlines €450 million bailout that will protect Vienna as a transit hub and safeguard carrier's jobs.

Ministers told during a press conference the structure of the bailout will be €300 million in loans by a banking consortium, 90% of which to be guaranteed by the government, and €150 million in direct grants.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Emirates and Etihad extend reduced pay until September
Emirates and Etihad extend reduced pay until September
Credit: N509FZ (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Emirates and Etihad Airways will extend the period of reduced pay for their staff until September as they try to preserve cash during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emirates Group, based in Dubai, said last week that it could reduce the number of employees by about 30% due to the economic impact of the global pandemic.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
United Airlines to close three international flight crew bases
Boeing 747-400 by United Airlines at Frankfurt Airport
Boeing 747-400 by United Airlines at Frankfurt Airport Credit: Jonekw13 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

United Airlines announced in an internal memo to crew it is closing its international bases for flight attendants in Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Tokyo effective October 1.

“This was certainly a very difficult decision to make, and we recognise that closing any base places a hardship on those who live near those locations,” John Slater, United’s Senior VP for Inflight Services, said in the memo.

The only international base the company will maintain is for London’s Heathrow Airport.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Delta to block middle seats until end of September
Delta 767 landing at Amsterdam Schiphol
Delta 767 landing at Amsterdam Schiphol Credit: Jan Rosolino

Delta Air Lines will continue to block the selection of middle seats and cap seating in every cabin through September 30.

Middle seats will be shown as unavailable during the booking process. On some smaller aircraft, some aisle seats will be blocked. Delta will also cap seating between 50% and 75%, depending on the cabin.

“Reducing the overall number of customers on every aircraft across the fleet is one of the most important steps we can take to ensure a safe experience for our customers and people,” Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, said in a statement this Wednesday.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Embraer in talks for a $600 million financing
Embraer 190
Embraer 190 Credit: Antônio Milena/ Agência Brasil

Planemaker Embraer is negotiating to obtain $600 million in credit lines led by Brazil’s state development bank BNDES. According to Brazilian government sources the deal should be closed in June and Bradesco, Santander, Itaú, Citibank, Morgan Stanley and Natixis will also be involved in the financing.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
LATAM Airlines files for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
LATAM Airlines Airbus departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport
LATAM Airlines Airbus departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport Credit: Adam Moreira (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Latin America's largest airline Latam Airlines says it is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to a slump in travel worldwide sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latam said the bankruptcy filing has the support of the Cueto and Amaro families, as well as large shareholder Qatar Airways.

The company said it had about $1.3 billion in cash on hand and its affiliates in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay were not included in the Chapter 11 filing.

LATAM Airlines' Brazilian affiliates are in discussions with the Brazilian government about the next steps and financial support for operations in the country.

Politics • European
Spain lifts ban on air and sea travels from Italy

Spain is lifting a ban on direct flights and ships from Italy imposed since March 11 to curb Covid-19 infections.

Travellers from Italy will have to comply with a two-week quarantine like other foreign visitors, while a state of emergency remains in place.