easyJet grounds fleet

By General News

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet without a return  to service date announced.

Normally, the airline serves 159 airports across 1,051 routes. However, many operations had already been halted last week, only running vital or rescue flights to bring stranded nationals back home.

The airline commented that the decision was made due to “unprecedented travel restrictions” imposed due to the virus pandemic, stating that “we will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as and when requested.”

Not only have connections been affected but also the staff with cabin crew being furloughed for the foreseeable future with no known date of working again. The airline’s boss, John Lundgren said that he was “working tirelessly” to ensure the airline would be “well positioned to overcome the challenges of the coronavirus.”

Despite the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicting an “apocalypse” in the aviation sector, easyJet has stated that it did not need a bailout: “to support recovery in the future, we believe that further actions will be needed such as a temporary removal of Aviation Passenger Duty and Air Traffic Control Charges.”


Regional Australian airline receive rescue deal

By General News

The Australian regional aviation sector has received a $300 million aid from the federal government in order to help keep services running to the remote areas.

Despite a fall in passenger numbers, the industry has highlighted the necessity to keep connections running. However, it fears that services such as tourist operators and flying schools would become “fragile” due to the pandemic’s hit on the economy and would struggle to survive.

Regional centres such as Wagga Wagga in NSW required the freight and medical supplies that the airline provided, even if there was a reduction in passengers. The funding is to focus on passenger and aero-medical services across 138 regional communities with the potential of an additional $100m to underwrite regional aviation companies to prevent “imminent collapse”.

Airline Rex was expecting to halt its operations and stand down 90% of its staff. With this federal aid, the airline can keep flying to almost all of its 59 destinations at regular service standards.

Chairman, Jim Davis stated that although regional services provide vital links to many communities, the implementation of border closures and a drop in passenger demand has left air service operators close to closing.

The action of the governments funding is expected to save “essential regional air services [that] would have been lost forever.”

HMG Aerospace publishes its INFOCUS product for 2020

By Featured

INFOCUS by HMG Aerospace is an annual series which puts the latest developments across key sectors within the commercial and civil aviation industry under the microscope. It was developed in response to a call for a greater level of comment, analysis and review from audiences spanning the HMG Aerospace portfolio. By zeroing in on a single topic, HMG’s expert editorial team is able to deliver a product which delves deep beneath the headlines, offering key insights and intelligent predictions.

So what will you find inside INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020? As we are witnessing around the world with the COVID-19 outbreak, the global aviation community faces numerous challenges every single day and these aren’t just limited to disease outbreaks. Geopolitical posturing, cyberattacks, mechanical faults, disruptive passengers, data breaches and airspace protection are additional risks that continually threaten to disrupt the aviation sector. However, despite these threats, air transport remains the safest form of travel with security at the heart of the industry’s concerns.

INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 looks at how airlines, airports and the rotorcraft community, as well as suppliers and industry associations, are rising to these challenges by exploring different sectors including safety and surveillance, airspace protection, training, passenger and baggage screening and cyber security. From guiding you through the typical attack surface of a model IFEC system to assessing the challenge of meeting the rapidly increasing growth in training needs, INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 offers a comprehensive insight into a constantly evolving industry sector.  View it Online, or Download it as a PDF.

South African Airways

South African Airways struggles to survive

By Featured
South African Airways

Since LARA’s report on South African Airways on 19 March, the airline has asked the South African government for a third extension to gain more time to revitalise itself.

The airline has struggled financially for the past few months with issues with management, aircraft and competition from rivals. This led to it being placed under the care of a business rescue firm run by Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana in 2019.

However, the partners have had to request a further extension from the Government for their turnaround plan as they faced issues with union disputes and withheld funds. The severe impact of the coronavirus lockdown has led to minimal travel options for the airline and a decrease in passenger demand.

South African Airways has had to restrict its regional African routes as well as international connections, forcing most services to be grounded. Currently, it only operates domestic shuttle routes between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In order to rescue the airline, it may have to make significant staff cuts and ground a sizeable percentage of its fleet.

Southwest cancels a quarter of flights

By General News

Southwest Airlines has announced it will be cancelling 1,000 flights from 22 March 2020 through until 14 April.

Due to a severe drop in travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline will be cut about a quarter of its flight and operate a revised schedule through until 5 June. The routes that are cancelled will be targeted on routes where there are multiple daily frequencies, allowing customers more options to change and rebook. Similarly, the cuts will affect the less demanded flights to disrupt fewer travellers.

Each day will see different schedules so the airline is following a fluid nature of cancellations. Included in the suspended flights will be all international services, responding to the travel restrictions implanted by many countries.

EasyJet awaits Airbus order threat

By Featured

EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou stated that the airline needs to cancel orders for new Airbus aircraft, believing that it should operate a fleet of 250 aircraft rather than its current 344.

Haji-Ioannou shared that in order to survive the coronavirus repercussions, then EasyJet’s fleet size needs to reduce by a quarter; “the number of aircraft in the fleet and the number of aircraft an airline buys from Airbus is critical.”

In November 2019, easyJet placed an order for 12 A320neos valued at $1.37 billion. The prospect of cancelling the order would mean that the airline faces large financial penalties from its only aircraft supplier.

With many airlines dealing with travel bans in attempt to stop the COVID-19, they are worried that they may go out of business. Such restrictions have led easyJet to ground most of its fleet and operating minimum flights.

Haji-Ioannou has reflected on this and argued that a smaller fleet of 250 aircraft would be better for the airline; with a fleet this size in 2015, easyJet had its most profitable year. He commented, “With the overall economy going into recession now, there is no way these 100 incremental aircraft will make any profit in the next 5-7 years. They will just lose more money by having them.”

It is expected that as a short and long-term consequence of the coronavirus, people will be travelling less which could cause the surviving airlines to reduce their fleet size to ensure profits.

Ryanair grounds flights until June

By Featured

Low-cost airline Ryanair has announced that it does not expect to operate flights through April and May due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The airline grounded the majority of its flights from 24 March but has offered aircraft to EU governments in aid of passengers who are stranded or are struggling to come home. Dependent on the governments advice, Ryanair will be suspending connections otherwise.

Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary commented, “As Europe’s borders become congested or closed, it’s vital Ryanair plays its part to keep vital medicines and food supplies moving.”

“At this time, no one knows how long this [COVID-19] shutdown will last. Rest assured that we and the 18,000 aviation professionals in the Ryanair Group of airlines will do everything we can to support our governments, our people, and our customers during these unprecedented times.”

Wizz Air

European regional airlines fight for a future

By Featured

Regional airline easyJet has highlighted the importance of access to liquidity as being the determining factor for the future of aviation. According to CAPA analysis, Wizz Air and Ryanair are the leading European airlines for liquidity balances.

EasyJet commented on the current challenges by stating that “European aviation faces a precarious future and there is no guarantee that the European airlines, along with all the benefits it brings for people, the economy and business, will survive what could be a long-term travel freeze and the risks of a slow recovery.”

Low-cost carriers Wizz Air and Ryanair have liquidity at 48% and 47% of revenue. On 16 March 2020, Ryanair stated that it was receiving a negative impact from the UK Government’s restrictions which has meant that most of its fleet will become grounded over the following days. It expects to decrease its seat capacity by 80% by April and reduce its costs to improve cash flow.

Facing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, many airlines across the continent have suspended operations by 75% to 90%, but some European governments have indicated that they will support airline companies throughout the crisis.

EasyJet has undertaken a mass of cancellations which are to continue and could result in the majority of its fleet becoming grounded. Additionally, it is cost cutting to prevent non-critical expenditure and calling on government support for liquidity.

The airline’s CEO, Johan Lundgren, commented that “co-ordinated government backing will be required to ensure that the [aviation] industry survives.”

Wizz Air

US could be without regional air travel

By Featured

Delta and American Airlines, two regional airlines that fly for United, have announced that they will be halting operations in the next few weeks due to continued repercussions of the coronavirus.

Compass Airlines, flying Delta Connection operations, and Trans States Airlines who operates for United Express will both stop their supporting flights from April 1.

This could be the first of many airline closures as the Regional Airline Association predicts that more suspensions will be issued and the airline bailout bill will not be able to aid small carriers “and the sector could be wiped out by the crisis”.

Delta utilises smaller jets to small and mid-size cities such as Bakersfield, California, State College, Pennsylvania, and Battle Creek, Michigan. Additionally, cities such as Tallahassee, Florida and Eugene, Oregon get almost all their service from regional carriers.

Compass Airlines, who was operating for Delta, has experienced a major capacity reduction “without the ability to fly even minimally viable schedules,” commented Trans States spokesperson, Cartiay McCoy. The COVID-19 pandemic as led to a reduction to air travel which has only increased the issues for regional carriers and airlines.

Regional airlines served 159 million passengers in 2019 on more than 10,000 daily flights which equals to about 40% of the total of US flights. Faye Malarkey Black, CEO of the Regional Airline Association commented, “When there’s a downturn, the smaller communities are the ones that lose service first.”

South Africa Express

South African Express grounded for good?

By Featured
South Africa Express

Regional airline, South African Express, has suspended all operations with no announcement of when they will commence again.

A halt to operations comes due to the airlines poor financial position as well as the repercussions of COVID-19. Whilst the postponement of flights came with immediate effect on 18 March, there was no given end date, placing all non-critical SA Express staff on compulsory leave and grounding its fleet of 19 aircraft. It has meant passengers who had booked to fly will be provided alternative services although the airline has not stated the specific measures it will take to do so.

The airline stated that it will “utilise this period to review its current network and streamline operations for improved efficiency.”

Although it can be debated that the virus outbreak was the breaking point for the airline, SA Express had accumulated losses estimated at around $71m over the last decade. After receiving a government bailout and going into business rescue at the order of the high court, “there have been questions raised over the future of the airline”.