Airlines Face ‘Deepest Crisis Ever ’ Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

 

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, the head of the trade group representing the world’s airlines, the International Air Transport Association has described losses in the industry as “its deepest crisis ever.”

According reports, commercial flights have stopped an analysis have shown that there have been series of sequential and precipitous declines in flights in four key regions.

From March 24 to March 30, FlightAware tracked about 280,000 flights, down almost 500,000 from the same week a year earlier.

In late March, the International Air Transport Association estimated lost revenue from the coronavirus will exceed $250 billion in 2020 and urged governments to offer immediate financial support to the industry.

The transport association said today’s crisis is far worse and more widespread than after 9/11, when U.S. airlines lost approximately $19.6 billion in revenue in 2001-2002. After the terrorist attacks, the U.S. government provided $15 billion to airlines in compensation and loan guarantees.

“Airlines are desperately trying to survive in the most difficult times imaginable,” said Alexandre de Juniac, head of the IATA.

“We have the people and the experience to see this through. But, to be perfectly frank, we don’t have the money.”

Travel Restrictions
Because of travel restrictions enacted by governments around the world, the number of airlines grounding most or all of their fleets has grown rapidly over the past few weeks.

In the Middle East, major carriers including Emirates, Flydubai and Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s state airline, suspended all passenger flights.

Israel’s El Al slashed its flight schedule, and Turkish Airlines suspended all international flights on March 27.

In Asia, Singapore Airlines grounded most of its fleet on March 23 after the city-state banned all short-term visitors, and Qantas suspended international flights until at least May after the Australian government banned the arrival of non-citizens and non-residents.

Europe’s Aviation Industry Crisis
In Europe, passenger data from the region’s Airports Council International reveals an even deeper industry crisis than air traffic statistics indicate.

As of March 22, the number of passengers traveling into and out of European airports had declined by 88%, or 5.2 million fewer daily travellers compared to a year earlier.

In Italy, containment efforts to staunch the spread of the virus triggered a rapid drop. There, data shows a 98% decline in passenger travel, or 440,000 fewer daily passengers compared to the same time last year.

Budget airlines Ryanair and easyJet grounded most of their fleets in late March.

The number of passengers arriving to and departing from British airports has also declined, though at a slower pace than elsewhere in Europe. As of March 22, data shows passenger traffic down 82% from the same time last year.

One reason for the difference: The UK was originally exempt from the U.S. travel ban on foreign nationals who had recently visited China, Iran and a group of 14 European countries, said Michael Stanton-Geddes, head of economics at ACI-Europe.

The exemption “temporarily protected a lot of transatlantic traffic,” he said. “People getting from Europe to the U.S. had to go through London.”

As of mid-March, some vacationers were still leaving the UK for European destinations. On March 14, Jet2 turned around flights bound for Spain after the airline cancelled all flights to the mainland.

In China, air traffic is starting to pick back up after two months of severe travel restrictions. The country saw a half million fewer flights during the same two-month period compared to the same period a year ago.

VON
Turkish Airlines Assures Of Double. Efforts To Prioritize Safety Measures To Minimize Spread Of COVID 19

Turkish Airlines as committed to the wellbeing of its passengers, crew members and the entire public has assured the that efforts would be doubled to prioritize safety measures to minimize the effects and spread of COVID 19.

In line with the guidelines of both local and international civil aviation authorities, all Turkish Airlines planes are disinfected with substances approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and aircraft manufacturers.

All surfaces passengers come in contact with, go through extensive cleaning processes by a dedicated special hygiene team.

“We have taken extra measures since the beginning of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic to minimize both its effects and spreading. Our foremost priority being the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew members”, a statement on the airline’s Website reads.

At the point of passenger boarding, crew members monitor passengers while welcoming them on board and throughout the flight. In the case of a passenger showing symptoms of the disease, the passenger in question undergoes a medical check with the directives of the host country’s health authority. During flights, the cabin air is repetitively purified with hospital-grade High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. The filtration system constantly disinfects the air of any harmful substance in the air during flights. All passengers are also required to complete the passenger self-reporting form distributed by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Items such as forks, spoons, glasses and plates used during meals, are also disinfected asides the regular washing routine. All fabrics and devices used onboard, go through an extensive cleaning process and are replaced with fresh sets for each flight. Since the epidemic, the Airline has increased the number of face masks, disposable gloves, sanitizers, and other disinfectants on its fleet of aircraft.

The statement also revealed that the airline prioritizes travel safety and is unwaveringly committed to working with local and international authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

The airline’s statement reads “As the airline that always puts the travel security at the forefront, Turkish Airlines will continue to monitor the latest developments on the situation with the national and international health authorities and take appropriate precautions. As the World Health Organization declared the potential risk of the virus, we have been acting per the recommendations and instructions of the World Health Organization, IATA, and related national and international authorities since the first week of January 2020.”

In regards to flight schedules affected by the outbreak, the airline is determined to compensate customers. The statement read: “We would like to inform our passengers that due to the lowered load factors caused by the suspension of other routes, several of our flights to/from Nigeria will be undergoing cancellations in March. Passengers with tickets to the canceled flights will be able to refund or change their tickets free of charge until the end of May if they start the process until March/April depending on the route.”

“For detailed information about the updated flight schedule please visit www.turkishairlines.com, contact the international call centre at +90 212 444 0849, and Nigerian call centre at +234 1 277 22 30-32, or visit any Turkish Airlines sales office.” The statement concluded.

FAAN Suspends National Aviation Conference

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN, has suspended the National Aviation Conference earlier scheduled for 1st to 4th April 2020, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
A statement signed by the General Manager of the agency, Henrietta Yakubu, said that this was necessary
due to the need to adhere to safety precautions in the face of the Corona virus presently spreading across nations globally.
She said that the The World Health Organization recently declared COVID 19 a global pandemic and advised that as much as possible, individuals and organizations should avoid clustered gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus, and it is necessary to notifies stakeholders and the general public.
She said a new date for the conference will be announced as soon as possible, and that the Authority regrets any inconvenience this postponement might have caused the public.
Inclement Weather, Reason for Flights Diversion-NAMA

The frequent diversion of flights to neighbouring countries by foreign airlines has been attributed to  inclement weather and company minimas of affected airlines, according to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The airspace management agency in a statement said such diversions are in the interest of safety.
Foreign carriers for quite some time had declined landing at the Lagos airports due to poor visibility which fluctuates. The carriers refuse to take risks of landing in inclement weather by obeying their company’s standards for flight operations in such situations.
Reports indicate that visibility is very poor in some airports affecting landing or take-off that have caused flight delays or outright cancellations.
Nigerian airlines, others recorded demand increase in 2019 – IATA

Image result for IATANigerian airlines and their counterparts across Africa recorded a five per cent demand increase in 2019,   the International Air Transport Association, has said.

According to the IATA, the airlines recorded a capacity increase of 4.5 per cent while load factor went up by 0.3 percentage point to 71.3 per cent.

The association stated in its full-year global passenger traffic results for 2019 that Africa led all regions with the five per cent demand increase, which was, however, down from the 6.3 per cent growth recorded in 2018.

It added that airlines in the region benefitted from a generally supportive economic backdrop in 2019 as well as increases in air transport connectivity.

The IATA stated that globally, demand rose by 4.2 per cent compared to the full year of 2018.

The IATA report noted that the 2019 result was a slowdown compared to 2018’s annual growth of 7.3 per cent and marked the first year since the global financial crisis in 2009 with passenger demand below the long-term trend of around 5.5 per cent annual growth.

“Full-year 2019 capacity climbed 3.4 per cent, and the load factor rose 0.7 percentage point to a record high of 82.6 per cent. The previous high was 81.9 per cent set in 2018,” the IATA said.

“December 2019 revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs increased 4.5 per cent against the same month in 2018. That was an improvement over the 3.3 per cent annual growth recorded in November, primarily due to solid demand in North America,” the association added.

The IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre de Juniac, said airlines did well to maintain steady growth in 2019 in the face of a number of challenges.

“A softer economic backdrop, weak global trade activity, and political and geopolitical tensions took their toll on demand,” he said.

According to de Junaic, astute capacity management and the effects of the 737 MAX grounding contributed to another record load factor, helping the industry to manage through weaker demand and improving environmental performance.

Coronavirus: Quarantine agency intensifies screenings at Nigerian airports

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The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service on Wednesday said it had increased veterinary checks at airports in a bid to forestall the entry of the deadly coronavirus into the country.

It said the agency was collaborating with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to ensure that there was no gap or breach in the veterinary quarantine front at the airports.

The agency disclosed this in a notice on the outbreak of the virus, which was made available to our correspondent by the Head of Media, Communications and Strategies, Gozie Nwodo.

It described the coronavirus as an equal opportunity danger to human life and the agricultural sector.

It stated that a single case of introduction of the virus would have potentially broad and prolific ramifications.

The agency said, “Bearing in mind the zoonotic nature of the 2019 coronavirus, the NAQS is collaborating with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to ensure that there is no gap or breach on the veterinary quarantine front at the airports.

“FAAN has issued a travel advisory admonishing passengers to submit themselves to standard quarantine formalities.”

It added, “As the single point of command for all agricultural quarantine activities in Nigeria, NAQS is obligated to buffer the nation from the potential introduction of this high-risk virus. The stakes are high. Therefore, officers are on their professional guard.”

It noted that consequently, all NAQS officers stationed at all ports of entry had heightened their alertness to make certain that procedural quarantine inspection was performed stringently, diligently and rigorously.

“There can be no exception or exemption. The general public is therefore advised to report any case related to the above to quarantine posts in their locality or the agriculture department in their local government council,” the agency stated.

Alternatively, it said the public could reach the agency directly, adding that the NAQS was positive that the sense of duty of its officers would remain an impenetrable bulwark against any threat to the nation’s agricultural economy, safety and the environment.

FG upgrades Enugu airport navigational facilities

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Ahead of the completion of ongoing repair work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the Federal Government says it has upgraded navigational facilities at the airport.

The airport was closed in August 2019 for repairs.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency said on Monday that as the build-up to the reopening of the airport in April, it had installed a new Category 2 Instrument Landing System and Distance Measuring Equipment to replace the old system which was installed in 2003.

The agency said a successful site acceptance test on the equipment had also been conducted by its engineers in Enugu in preparation for its calibration in the coming days.

The agency stated that in a bid to address communication blind spots in the Lagos South-East corridor, it had installed a Very Small Aperture Terminal for satellite communication at the airport.

“This satellite communication node has further been integrated into the national satellite communication network which is linked to the African Indian Ocean SATCOM Network,” the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said.

“Also linked to VSAT is the newly installed Remote Control Air-Ground Very High Frequency radio communication system, ensuring that Enugu now has an extended VHF coverage on 127.3MHz frequency for Lagos South-East sector,” he added.

Akinkuotu said the radio communication along the Lagos South-East sector had improved tremendously.

According to him, the installation of the VHF radio in Enugu is significant as the city is strategically located to accommodate over six routes, both local and international.

“Enugu being on a higher latitude can cover Manfe entry/exit reporting point in Cameroun for international flights like Ethiopian, Rwanda Airlines and Kenya Airways and South Africa Airways,”Akinkuotu said.

He added that the new installation had provided Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network link that would enhance effective data communication for transmission of flight plans, Notice to Airmen and aeronautical communication messages.

Akinkuotu said it would also provide effective coordination between Enugu tower and Lagos Area Control Centre through the Air Traffic Services and Direct Speech for departing and arriving traffic ahead of time.

FG acquires training simulator for aviation college

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The Federal Government has acquired one training simulator and six aircraft for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, within the last two days.

The Minister of Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, announced on Twitter on Sunday, through his handle, @hadisirika, that he had received a Boeing 737 training simulator for the college.

The minister tweeted, “In Montreal Canada, we received Boeing 737 full motion flight training simulator for NCAT Zaria. Ready for shipment in March.

“This will increase NCAT’s capability, save forex and reduce cost incurred by our airlines. A well trained, proficient pilot is number one key to safety.”

Sirika had on Friday tweeted that he had received six new state-of-the-earth aircraft for NCAT from Austria.

The minister said the six aircraft would be delivered in the next three weeks.

The Rector of NCAT, Capt. Mohammed Abdulsalam, last year said the college had placed orders for some aircraft to enhance training of pilots.

The World’s Safest And Most Punctual Airlines Are In The Asia-Pacific Region

Qantas Airways was named the safest airline in the world on a Top 20 list published by AirlineRatings.com, followed by Air New Zealand and Taiwan’s Eva Airways. Singapore Airlines was sixth, Cathay Pacific Airways ninth and Virgin Australia Holdings 10th.

AirlineRatings.com said it takes into account factors including audits by governing and industry bodies, crash and serious incident record, profitability and fleet age.

Separately, the Aviation Safety Network said earlier this week that the number of fatal aviation accidents in 2019 rose above the five-year average to 20, with more than half occurring in North America.

In a separate survey by OAG Aviation Worldwide, Garuda Indonesia was crowned 2019’s most punctual carrier. Panama’s Copa Airlines ranked second among airlines arriving or departing within 15 minutes of scheduled times. Japan’s Skymark Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Latam Airlines Group rounded out the top five. Among major US carriers, Delta Air Lines was the only one to make it into the top 20.

The number of global air passengers will double to 8.2 billion by 2037 thanks to economic growth and a swelling middle class, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). More than half of those fliers will come from the Asia-Pacific region, led by demand from countries like China and India. About 4.7 billion people are expected to travel this year, 4% more than in 2019, IATA said in December.

Among mega airports ranked by OAG – those catering to more than 30 million airline seats – Moscow Sheremetyevo topped the list for the best on-time performance last year. The ranking is based on the proportion of flights at each airport that arrive and leave within 15 minutes of scheduled times.

In contrast to the poor showing of its airlines, US airports were top performers for punctuality. Six of the top 10 on-time airports were American, with Atlanta ranking fourth. Seattle came in fifth and Los Angeles seventh. John F. Kennedy airport entered the top 10, while Bangkok and Amsterdam dropped out.

African Airlines Take Advantage of Open Sky Treaty

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had projected that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), simply known as Open Sky for Africa will enhance air connectivity in the continent, bridge the gaps where travelers would have to travel to Europe while connecting flights from one African destination to another.

IATA also said SAATM would stimulate trade and tourism among African nations and would generate estimated $1.3 billion in additional spending. These projections were made in January 2018, when the treaty was unveiled with sensitisation workshop in Lagos, Nigeria.

Today, that forecast is beginning to unfold as reality. In December 2019, Air Senegal flagged off its direct flight to Accra, Ghana from Dakar; TAAG Angola Airlines marked its inaugural direct flight to Lagos from Luanda and the most audacious was the inaugural flight of Cabo Verde Airlines (formerly Cape Verde).

What is audacious about Cabo Verde Airlines is that it does not just want to airlift travelers from Lagos to its hub in Sal, with its rich tourism sites; it wants to take Nigerian travelers farther to other destinations in Europe, the United States and Americas in one full bouquet.

Travel expert and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko, had predicted after studying Cabo Verde’s operational strategies, that the airline would dominate West and Central Africa in few years. His assuredness was derived from his wealth of experience and the fact that the beauty of Cape Verde Island would prove irresistible to Nigerian travelers who would now be connecting their flights to savour the beauties of that destination.

Cape Verde or Cabo Verde is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. Cabo Verde Airlines has its operational base in the Island of Sal, one of the 10 Islands that formed the country, while its capital is Praia.

The airline had its flight on December 11, 2019, after a rigorous marketing campaign, which sensitised Nigerians about the coming of the Island of Sal based carrier.

The country manager of Cabo Verde Airlines, Tariye Orianzi, said the airline wants to benefit from Cabo Verde’s privileged location, which is right between the Americas, Africa and Europe, to create powerful connection options within the shortest possible time. She said the airline is looking at the Icelandair model, which transformed Iceland, a small country in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, into a major gateway.

Orianzi said the major advantage the airline has is its geographical location – where other airlines spend over 20 hours flying from Nigeria to the US for instance, Cabo Air will take 13 hours 35 minutes.

“From Cabo Verde it is easy to connect four continents (Africa, Europe, South America and North America) in the shortest possible time when compared to other airlines. Further, Cabo Verde Airlines stopover option allows passengers to stay in Cabo Verde (which is a huge tourist destination) up to seven days with no additional costs on airline tickets, before flying to their destination.

“This is also a huge advantage. Aside from Lagos, we recently launched new routes, namely Washington D. C. and Porto Alegre, in Brazil, widening the options for our passengers. From Lagos to Washington D. C. on Cabo Verde Airlines, one will take 13 hours 25mins including the layover in Sal, Cabo Verde. The next shortest duration by other airlines is 20h 25mins.”

Many Nigerians, who attended the airline’s inaugural flight dinner at the Lagos airport, told THISDAY that the airline would do well because it is pragmatic and earthy and has also studied the attitude of the Nigerian traveller who wants to be recognised and respected.

Orianzi said Cabo Verde plans to interline with domestic operators. That would obviously warm the airline to the heart of domestic carriers and this would be a new beginning, since the failed romance between Delta Air Lines and the defunct Virgin Nigeria Airways.

“We need to partner with local airlines to feed traffic from the other major cities such as Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano,” Orianzi said.
The President of Saber West Africa and also the President of Aviation Round Table (ART), a think-tank body in the industry, Dr Gabrial Gbenga Olowo, said the advantage of taking that Cabo Verde route was that it links up immediately to South America and the southern parts of the USA, remarking that this would stimulate a lot of commercial payload between Nigeria and those continents.

He added that travelling to those places has been very cumbersome in the past.
Cabo Verde success would also be a good incentive to other African carriers, including Nigerian airlines that SAATM would provide a springboard for success; as predicted by IATA.