Braathens Regional Airlines takes a break

By Featured

Swedish-based Braarhens Regional Airlines has announced that it is suspending all of its flights from 6 April 2020 until June. Although attempting to continue operations, new government guidelines have created a significant reduction in passengers.

The airline has been gradually reducing its network, terminating several regional routes on 23 March including connections from Stockholm Bromma to Ronneby, Kristianstad and Halmstad. However, with unnecessary travel now discouraged, the Braathen decided to cut its network further.

The airline commented that “We at [Braathens Regional Airlines] have done everything we can to maintain our air traffic for Sweden and for our customers. In the past week, we have struggled with only a few flights, but due to the Government’s and the Public Health Authority’s strong call for the Swedish population not to travel inland, we do not have any customers left who fly with us and therefore need to further adapt our traffic to the new conditions”.

easyJet founder fears for airline’s future

By General News

EasyJet founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has voiced his concern of the airline’s financial difficulty, caused by the current drop in travel demand.

Haji-Ioannou believes that “the airline could run out of money as soon as August if drastic steps are not taken soon.” In order to benefit easyJet’s position, he expressed the want to cancel its forthcoming order of 108 Airbus aircraft as a move to ease its financial concerns. The order is worth an estimated £4.5billion but is “jeopardising the future of the airline”.

The founder also states that easyJet should look to reduce its fleet from 350 to 250 to reduce costs, as well as removing directors. However, the airline’s CEO, Johan Lundgren indicated that there is a possibility of gaining financial support from the UK government, although it would “not need loans” if the Airbus order can be cancelled.

Southwest flies empty aircraft

By General News

Southwest Airlines undertook 56 flights last week without any passengers.

Due to the COVID-19 repercussions, Southwest has had to reduce its flights to an absolute minimum as the airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike Van de Ven commented “We expect our flying to be reduced by roughly 50 percent over the next couple of months – and we will likely need to do more.”

Van de Ven stated that the airline is operating with very few passengers, only continuing air travel when it is critical to move around cargo with government aid which has been provided to airlines.

Ryanair has also operated “ghost flights” with a spokesperson of the airline stating that “to ensure our aircraft are serviceable for both passenger repatriation flights and essential flights for the transportation of urgent medical supplies, some of our crew and aircraft must remain available and serviceable.”

Bamboo Airways operates rescue flights

By Featured

Vietnamese airline, Bamboo Airways has flown to Lithuania for the first time to operate a repatriation flight for Europeans from Vietnam and Thailand.

Due to the current crisis affecting the aviation industry, many foreigners stranded from their home countries, so a number of carriers have been drafted to bring their citizens back. Bamboo Airways utilised a Boeing 737, flying from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and stopping at Bangkok (BKK) in order to pick up more passengers who needed transport back to Europe.

The airline also operated a flight to Prague – its first European flight – to repatriate European nationals as well as transporting those stuck in Vietnam to their home countries.

Precautions were implemented throughout these flights including disinfecting the entire aircraft before to ensure it was as safe as possible. Passengers were provided with compulsory facemasks and had to undergo health checks, requiring s medical declaration before departure.

Wizz Air remains strong

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Wizz Air has showed no indication of postponing its Airbus delivery for this year, despite the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many carriers have been pushing back deliveries of their new aircraft due to the downturn within the aviation industry. However, despite its 90% reduction in capacity, Wizz Air is anticipating the arrival of 15 new aircraft as an attempt to gain a stronger position when global demand picks up again.

Additionally, whilst several airlines have been asking the government for financial support, Wizz Air expects that is will have enough reserves to last the summer or longer.

Wizz Air is “confident in a strong return to operations once restrictions are lifted and demand returns.”József Váradi, Chief Executive Officer of the airline anticipates that about 80% of its capacity will be in service by 2021, looking to add services to areas that struggling airlines may have lost out.


Loganair serves as air ambulance

By Featured

Loganair has converted two of its aircraft in order to operate as air ambulances to undertake sorties in transporting coronavirus patients in Scotland.

With an increasing number of people requiring hospital care, many facilities are full to capacity, which has led them to transfer some patients to less crowded sites. However, the process of transferring patients is complex.

Therefore, Scottish regional airline, Loganair has been renovating their regular DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft into an air ambulance in order to make the necessary transfers with as reduced risk as possible. The adaptions are in compliance with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and provide additional space and provisions so that essential care can be administered. The airline plans to carry one patient per flight in Epishuttle isolation pods which ensures the safety of the health workers.

Loganair expects to use more aircraft in the future that have the capability to carry two COVID-19 patients. It is working on converting its Saab 340 with the intention of deploying this in early April. This aircraft is much larger in comparison to the Twin Otter, so will be able to transfer two cases over a greater distance, which will  include the Highlands and Scottish Islands.

The airline commented that the effort to make this project happen has been incredible before saying “We will support the Scottish Ambulance Service, the NHS and the island communities who rely on Loganair for their lifeline air services if and when our assistance is needed.”

Wizz Air supports America

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Since 1 April 2020, Wizz Air has flown several domestic flights in the United States as a part of a series of repatriation flights.

Although the US does not receive a regular service from Wizz Air, the airline was “incredibly important” in order to get passengers home.

The airline used a new Airbus A321neo aircraft to perform these flights including a trip between New York and Los Angeles, and Chicago and Miami. Using this specific aircraft has meant that Wizz Air has to stop at Iceland during the transatlantic flight, but it has been revealed that this provides the opportunity to pick up more passengers who are in need of transport home.

With the current impact of the coronavirus on the aviation industry, it is unlikely that Wizz Air can expand its service into the United States in the near future.

Ryanair operates ghost flights

By Featured

Ryanair has been operating ghost flights in order to prove that their aircraft are still flying, operating short trips but as an empty aircraft.

Many airlines have decided to ground their fleets, but the Irish low-cost carrier has continued to fly their aircraft every four days to maintain operational availability. If an aircraft is grounded for a significant amount of time, they are required to go through checks before returning to service making it unavailable for longer.

Therefore, Ryanair has chosen to fly most of its grounded fleet for a short amount of time in order to avoid these checks, taking off and then immediately returning in most cases.

With Ryanair claiming to be the greenest airline in Europe, this decision has questioned the airlines impact on the environment. Despite having only emitting 69g of CO2 per passenger per kilometre, these ghost flights are still producing carbon dioxide.

An airline spokesperson stated that “in order to ensure our aircraft are serviceable for both passenger repatriation flights and essential flights for the transportation of urgent medical supplies, some of our crew and aircraft must remain available and serviceable in line with Boeing requirements and EASA regulations.”

The airline does not expect to operate the majority of its flights until June at the earliest which could mean a consequence of two months of aircraft emissions without passengers.

REX axes routes

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Regional airline, Regional Express has a declared that current global events have impacted services in Queensland.

REX operated regulated regional routes in south-eastern Australia, under contract to the Queensland government but is to cease flights on 1 April 2020. It had served as a vital service to those who are situated outside the major cities and do not have the access to larger airports, allowing them to reach destinations such as Townsville, Winton, St George and Julia Creek.

The airline announced that it “has no choice but to declare a Force Majeure event for the contract and suspend all services on Queensland regulated routes indefinitely until it has the ability to service the contract in a commercially viable manner.”

Over the past few weeks, REX has reduced its network and requested financial aid from the Australian government in a bid to stay afloat. However, the airline has now had to close the routes regulated by the Government, to ensure a minimum level of passenger services to isolated destinations.

Last week, Australian regional airlines including REX received USD185 million in funds from the government with the aim to keep them running during this uncertain time. REX Chairman, John Sharp stated that “this meaningful assistance package not only seeks to keep essential air services going, but also tries to prevent the existing regional aviation providers from collapsing.”

Wizz Air to the rescue

By Featured

Wizz Air has successfully delivered 11 tons of medical equipment from Shanghai to Budapest following a request from the Hungarian Government.

The Hungarian Government expects to use Wizz Air for additional flights in order to deliver additional medical supplies such as PPE wear and testing kits to Hungary, aiming to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The coronavirus has had a significant impact on Wizz Air, causing a huge reduction in passenger demand and the suspension of flights to Georgia, Albania, Poland and Montenegro.

CEO of Wizz Air, József Váradi stated “In these tough times, we are doing everything we can to play our part in the fight against the outbreak. I would like to express my gratitude to all the government officials and my colleagues at Wizz Air who took part in this special mission, working tirelessly to gain the required permits and bringing home the equipment so efficiently.”