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Bombardier cuts staff
Aviation Sector Is Broke - Minister laments impact of Covid19 on airport revenues, investment
Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda says the aviation sector is “broke” as loan repayments and expansion projects grind to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“With Covid-19, everyone is broke, the Aviation Sector is broke plus every other aspect of the economy. Before this pandemic, Ghana was doing remarkably well.
“Some of our passenger numbers went up from about 2.6 million to about three million. When we ended last year, we had over 3 million passengers.
“What we were confronted with before Covid-19 in terms of investments and the servicing of those investments we are not in the best position to pay off those loans quickly and embark on other expansion projects,” he revealed.
The aviation sector continues to reel from the impact of the coronavirus.
Here in Ghana, the cancellation of international flights and closure of the Kotoka International Airport has left the Aviation sector down with losses.
Setting Ghana’s aviation sector up for international repute and competition has been at the forefront of the Akufo-Addo led administration.
Already, many gains have been made with the Kotoka International Airport placed first in a 2019 ranking by the Airports Council International.
The Year of Return initiatives skyrocketed passenger numbers to about five million as at the end of 2019.
Beyond the $275 million investment in Kotoka Airport, the Kumasi, Tamale, and Sunyani airports are also benefiting from major improvements to infrastructure. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has reversed gains made by the Aviation Sector as travel restrictions spread countrywide.
This development has let the management of Ghana’s aviation sector consider several strategic forms of partnerships.
But there have been suspicions that the Aviation Ministry seeks to privatize the Ghana Airport Company under the pretext of seeking a strategic partner – these the aviation minister, Joseph Kofi Adda has debunked.
“ Neither the Ministry nor the GACL has yet formally started any process of engagement on the subject matter with any stakeholder or partner. We, therefore, wish to note that the false information on the sale of the Kotoka International Airport being circulated in the media/social media is the work of mischievous and malicious elements to pitch the staff of GACL and the general public against government to achieve their diabolical agenda and erode the successes chalked in the Aviation Sector for the last three years”.
Meanwhile, the Aviation Ministry has hinted at opening investigations into the leakage of documents and board room conversations that have led to recent suspicions of the privatization of the Kotoka International Airport to a Turkish Firm.
These suspicions have seen workers of the Airport Company Limited agitate against the supposed sale.
So far, the sector minister, Joseph Kofi Adda has maintained under no circumstances will the Kotoka International Airport be sold.
“We have undertaken an investigation and identified some people who were the cause of the leakage. Some have confessed they have given some documents out from the ministry to the Airport Company.
“The latest one that we saw was this concept paper and executive approval that went from the board level to workers that shouldn’t have gone and we have identified those behind that.
“Usually, such people get fired, suspended, or interdicted,” he told Joy Business.
Workers of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) had embarked on a demonstration to register their displeasure over the government’s alleged plan to privatize the company.
These workers claimed the Aviation Ministry intends to hand over the company to a Turkish investor, stating they cannot allow that to happen.
Sector minister, Joseph Kofi Ada, has denounced all these allegations stating “no agreement whatsoever has been reached with the Turkish firm”.
Urging the public to disregard the reports, sector Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda said the government was, however, deliberating with stakeholders including the GACL a proposed Strategic Partnership Arrangement to improve service delivery and expansion of infrastructure at the Airport.
A 2018 ministry of finance report showed that the Ghana Airport Company Limited collected revenue of ȼ475.56 million through airport taxes alone. This was a more than 35% increase from the previous year.
The reduction in flights and visitors caused by the pandemic will reduce revenue from airplane landing fees, fees for using Ghana’s airspace, and other charges such as the passenger safety charge.
In effect, this dip has already all the value chain of the travel sector with hotels laying off workers and various tourist sites closing down.
Authorities await AAI’s approval for construction at Halwara Airport
Airlines struggle to fill seats in June as travel demand remains muted
The country's airlines carried 1.98 million passengers during June, down from 12.03 million passengers during the same period in the previous year
The passenger load factor of major scheduled commercial airlines stood between 54% and 68%
Indian airlines operated up to fourth of their capacity in June, as the surge in covid-19 cases and restrictions imposed by states led to muted travel demand.
Indian carriers flew 1.98 million passengers during the month, down from 12.03 million in the year-ago period, monthly data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released on Friday showed.
The passenger load factor of major scheduled commercial airlines stood between 54% and 68%, which showed that carriers could fill up to two-thirds of the total seats. In June 2019, the passenger load factor stood at 81-94%.
Load factor, or passenger load factor, is an aviation industry metric that measures an airline’s passenger-carrying capacity.
India’s largest airline IndiGo registered a 52.8% market share in June, reporting 60.7% load factor. The airline carried 1.04 million passengers during the month. SpiceJet, which has a market share of 16.8%, registered 68% load factor in June, ferrying 0.33 million passengers. Air India’s domestic operations registered 56.5% load factor during the month with a market share of 12.2%. The national carrier ferried 0.24 million people in June.
Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, reported a load factor of 56.6% and 5.6% market share, while AirAsia India, a Tata Sons-AirAsia Berhad venture, reported a 56.5% load factor and a 7.1% market share in June. GoAir, which is controlled by the Wadia Group, reported a 57.9% load factor and a 4.5% market share. Vistara carried 112,000 passengers. AirAsia India 140,000, while GoAir ferried 89,000 people.
“Passengers carried by domestic airlines during the January-June period were 35.18 million as against 70.66 million in the corresponding period of the previous year, thereby registering an annual growth of -50.22% and monthly growth of -83.50%," DGCA said.
In June, Vistara cancelled 16.50% of its flights, while the overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines stood at 3.03%.
By: Rhik Kundu
Corona clips airlines’ wings
Airlines in Southern Africa have seen revenue plunging 60 percent and passenger statistics tumbling 58 percent in the four since most countries in the region went into lockdown as a new coronavirus control measure.
According to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), the picture is gloomy for the global aviation industry, with millions of jobs on the line and billions in earnings wiped away.
For a sector that even in the best of times has struggled to break even, prospects are particularly grim for African aviation which has for long braved high taxes and landing fees, costly imported fuel, and limited intra-continental business.
According to IATA, it is not only Southern African aviation that has been pummelled. Airlines in East Africa have lost 56 percent of flight revenue and 53 percent of passengers. In West Africa the losses have been quantified as 63 percent in revenue and 58 percent in passengers; while the sector in North Africa has lost 58 percent of revenue and 56 percent of passengers.
IATA vice-president (Africa and the Middle East) Muhamad Albakri recently told CNBC Africa that: “We don’t expect most Airlines in Africa to survive such kind of loses as we are experiencing.
“… The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating all cover the world but particularly for the African continent where the demand for passengers has fallen by an average of 58 percent in 2020 compared to the same period last year.
“Airlines (will) post a US$2 billion loss because of a drastic decrease in passenger numbers and an additional US$6 billion from passenger revenue; that is something that has never been seen before.”
Prior to COVID-19, says IATA, African aviation was already operating at a loss with governments forking out big subsidies to keep national flag-carriers airborne.
Last week, Namibia’s government said it would pump more than US$400 million into the state-owned Air Namibia, coupled with a rigorous restructuring exercise.
Namibia’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, told The Southern Times that: “The issue of Air Namibia is under the auspices of the Cabinet Committee on Treasury and we are currently in the process of consulting various stakeholders.”
Elsewhere, Kenyan Airways is reportedly in the process of laying off employees. The airline, which - along with South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines – is a major carrier in Africa, has resumed some domestic flights and repatriations of people stranded by COVID-19.
South African Airways recently sought a bailout of more than US$70 million to sustain operations.
Air Zimbabwe, which was operating two long-haul craft before the pandemic, is in financial turbulence and a protracted effort to restructure it is yet to bear fruit.
By: Tiri Masawi
RwandAir makes changes ahead of resuming flights
Rwanda’s National carrier, RwandAir prepares to resume flights on August 1 with changes aimed to improve the safety of passengers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline will be making adjustments on a number of inflight aspects to reduce physical contact and chances of reductions of contracting the virus.
According to Gobena Mikael, Chief Commercial Officer of RwandAir, the resumption will be characterized by adjustment to improve both passenger and crew safety, he said while speaking at a webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on the East African Aviation sector convened by the East African Business Council.
The move is also aimed at ensuring passenger confidence in flights following weeks of halted operations.
Elimination of inflight reading material is among the changes Mikael noted to avoid physical contact.
Mikael stated that “for airline meals and snacks services, there is going to be a significant amendment from regular service to serving bottled drinks and packed snacks consequently reducing contacts between crew and passengers.”
While this might be considered as reduction of level of service, it is geared at improving the safety of the crew and passengers during flights, he noted.
RwandAir will adopt a lunch box type hot meal as opposed to the regular dinner, lunch and drinks services.
“For materials such as headsets, duvets, headrests they will be sanitized and resealed. At the end of the trip, we will take them out and put new ones. Every seat belt, tray, and everything that is touched we have devised mechanisms to sanitize and clean them,” he said.
“We have everything in place at the moment, temperature checks, social distancing measures and signs, desk shields and visors, everyone is required to wear a mask, gowns for the crew,” he added.
There being widespread fears that the cost of tickets will go up, Mikael noted that as opposed to costs going up, they are likely to go down with increased competition and confidence building.
“The costs will go down, how can we expect to encourage people and bring confidence? We have to look at our customers as if they are in power, they don’t have to travel, and they have to feel safe,” he said.
The airline will introduce bonus mileage, flexible pricing and refunds without charge among other things to draw customers.
On regional airlines survival and recovery, he said that the region’s airlines have to work together in multiple aspects such as cooperation and sharing information to make sure they can stay ahead of the pandemic and to avoid having to halt operations in the event confirmed cases increase.
With closer collaboration, he said that the regional airlines will be able to learn patterns of the ailment and curb it without much interruption to operations.
The same cooperation, he said will serve the purpose in avoiding the onslaught of smaller regional airlines by major global airlines.
As opposed to protectionism, he proposed competition on the basis of aspects such as quality and delivery.
By: Nyawira Mwangi
3 airlines to resume flights to Seychelles after country re-opens Aug. 1
Three international airlines will resume flights to Seychelles after the country re-opens for commercial traffic beginning of August, a top government official said on Thursday.
The finance minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, made the announcement in a presentation on the economy to media houses chaired by President Danny Faure.
"Etihad Airways will be doing two flights per week -- on Mondays and Fridays. Ethiopian Airlines will also make two flights a week. Both these two airlines will resume their Seychelles operations when the country re-opens its borders," said Loustau-Lalanne.
He added that Swiss airline Edelweiss has expressed its intentions to fly to Seychelles as from September this year.
The Seychelles' national carrier, Air Seychelles, will be flying to Dubai twice a week also starting from August 1.
Meanwhile, the German government has retracted its decision to allow its citizens to travel to Seychelles after the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Ninety-one seafarers from the Spanish tuna fishing fleet operating in Seychelles tested positive for COVID-19 out of whom as of Tuesday 24 had recovered. The archipelago in the western Indian Ocean has 73 active cases -- 67 seafarers and six Seychellois.
The President told the media that the decision of the government of Germany can be reviewed.
The finance minister said that the German airline Condor has tentatively set December as the month to resume its weekly flight to Seychelles.
Other main tourism markets of Seychelles -- France, Italy and England -- have all been badly affected by COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown has resulted in a drastic drop in overseas travel. France's government has already given the green light to its citizen to travel to Seychelles.
For the reopening of the Seychelles to commercial passenger flights on Aug. 1, a series of strict guidelines by the Public Health Authority has been set for all tourism establishment operators. These tourism businesses must be in conformity with those guidelines to be granted permission to welcome visitors to their premises.
Already five big hotels in the southwest of Mahe, the main island will welcome around 400 visitors from the United Arab Emirates next week for a six-week stay in Seychelles.
By: Seychelles News Agency
Sierra Leone issues COVID-19 air travel protocol as commercial flights resume
Authorities in Sierra Leone will reopen the country’s international Lungi Airport next Wednesday, 22 July 2020, after four months of closure due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
last week, president Bio announced that details of safety measures for passengers arriving at and leaving Lungi airport will be published by the government. And today, the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, Sierra Leone Airports Authority and the National COVID19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) have issued the following safety and public health guidelines for all arriving and departing passengers at and from the Freetown International Airport.
1. All passengers shall produce a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result issued no longer than 72hrs before departure at point of origin.
2. At the check-in desk at the airport of embarkation, passengers are required to display travelers’ authorisation to Sierra Leone, received through the Government of Sierra Leone travel portal (www.travel.gov.sl). The travel authorization consists of:
• Negative PCR COVID-19 test result issued no longer than 72 hours before departure, • Pre-departure public health passenger locator form
• Proof of payment for COVID-19 testing on arrival, paid through the online platform
3. Health officials will collect temperature, basic health screening data, and seat number on arrival.
4. All passengers shall be subjected to a mandatory COVID-19 test upon arrival:
• Passengers will simultaneously have a PCR test swab and an RDT test on arrival.
• If the RDT screening is negative, passengers are allowed to depart from the airport and observe public health protocols (mandatory proper mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing) while awaiting their PCR test result.
• If the RDT screening if positive, passengers will be isolated at a hotel in Lungi while awaiting their PCR test result. Note, the cost of the accommodation at the hotel shall be borne by the passenger.
• For all test results, the PCR result supersedes the RDT result.
• PCR results will be disseminated via the local contact number confirmed by the passenger on arrival.
5. All children under 2 years shall be exempted from pre-departure and arrival PCR test requirements.
6. Airline crew are exempted from the pre-departure and arrival PCR test requirements and should follow airline policy for testing. Airline crew must adhere to public health protocols.
7. Two temperature screenings will be conducted by Port Health Services. If temperature is 37.5 degrees Celsius or above, passenger will be taken aside for further observation.
8. All passengers shall go through a walk-through disinfectant channel/Infrared temperature scanner at the entrance of the arrival hall.
9. All passengers with machine-readable passports shall go through the Immigration E-gate system. Passengers with Emergency Travel Certificates or non-machine-readable passports shall go through the Immigration booth.
10. At the Baggage Reclaim section passengers shall maintain social distancing and observe all public health protocols, including proper use of face mask at all times.
11. All passengers will be directed to a Reception Lounge while awaiting their COVID-19 test.
12. Passengers with a negative RDT screening test are cleared to proceed to their destination, while awaiting their PCR result and adhering to public health protocols. PCR test results (available in no more than 48 hours) will be distributed via the contact confirmed on arrival.
13. If a passenger’s PCR test is positive, s/he will be contacted by public health authorities and taken to an appropriate treatment centre.
14. Passengers sitting near a positive case on the plane will be considered primary contacts. Self-quarantine and monitoring by public health officials will be required.
15. All passengers are strictly advised to observe all public health protocols (proper and constant use of face mask, hand washing/sanitizing, observing social distancing) as directed by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation / NaCOVERC.
16. The same protocols shall apply to all VIP passengers.
1. All passengers are subjected to a mandatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID19 test with a negative result issued no longer than 72hrs before departure at the Freetown International Airport. Cost for this test will be borne by the passenger.
• Passengers will use the Government of Sierra Leone Travel Portal to request their pre-departure test, to pay for the test, and for scheduling sample collection.
• Passengers with negative PCR results will receive e-confirmation and certificates ahead of travel. Physical copies can be collected at the airport at a designated desk.
• Passengers with positive PCR results will not be permitted to travel and must follow public health protocols for isolation and contact tracing. They will be re-tested after seven days.
• Passengers who have entered Sierra Leone within five days shall be exempted from the mandatory additional test on departure.
• All children under 2 years shall be exempted from PCR test requirements.
2. On arrival at the airport, passengers shall be directed to a reception area to avoid congestion and ensure social distancing during the check-in process.
3. All passengers are encouraged to complete their check-in online before arriving at the airport.
4. All departing passengers shall go through the thermal screening/disinfectant channel at the airport’s departure entrance.
5. All departing passengers shall have their passport/travelling document verified before proceeding to the check-in counter.
6. Departing passengers shall proceed to the check-in counter for baggage drop and collection of their boarding pass. While at the check-in counter, they are mandated to produce their COVID-19 PCR negative test certificate or e-certificate issued within past 72 hours.
7. Departing passengers shall proceed to the immigration services for onward travel authorization via the e-gate or immigration booth.
8. All departing passengers shall go through security screening before proceeding to the departure hall.
9. All departing passengers shall proceed to the waiting lounge where social distancing, proper use of face mask and other health protocols shall be strictly observed.
10. All passengers shall proceed to the final screening and verification point prior to boarding the aircraft.
11. Boarding procedures shall be in accordance with the approved SOPs of the respective airlines.
12. All passengers are strictly advised to observe all public health protocols (proper use of face mask, hand washing/sanitizing, observe social distancing) as directed by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation / NACOVERC.
13. The same protocols shall apply to all VIP passengers.
By: Abdul Rashid Thomas
Defiant SAA board failed to act in interest of the airline
The former board of SAA failed to act in the interests of the failed airline when it approved a R1.8 billion multi-year contract with Swissport SA for ground handling services, the Commission into State Capture heard of Friday.
The revelation was part of evidence relating to the auditing of financial statements of the airline which is now in business rescue after years of financial mismanagement of poor governance.
Swissport started rendering services to SAA eight years ago with no contract ever being signed, according to earlier evidence by the witnesses. The partnership was later extended to run from March 2016 to March 2021, in a process that had been found to be in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
When asked about the board's conduct, PwC auditor Pule Mothibe who signed off an SAA audit opinion on 30 September 2016 conceded that it did not act in the best interest of the company when approving the Swissport contract.
PwC audited SAA's books for five years between 2012 and 2017, at times in conjunction with Nkonki Inc. A report on the Swissport contract had flagged that it had not been concluded through competitive bidding and failed to comply with regulations.
Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr wanted Mothibe to explain if the board's defiance of the instruction by the government was not in breach trust or their fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of SAA.
"That is defiance... I am not sure if it is necessarily a breach of trust, but defiance," he said.
Dudu Myeni was chairperson of the SAA board at the time, a position she held between December 2012 and October 2017. Myeni has since been declared a delinquent director after a legal battle mounted by Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).
The organisation claimed SAA under Myeni’s tenure as chairperson raked up losses amounting to R16.8 billion.
Hofmeyr emphasised that the board of directors of state-owned entities were expected to act in the best interest of the companies and not betray the trust bestowed on them, prompting Mothibe to agree that by not heeding the instructions of National Treasury and the dti, they failed to act in the best interest of SAA.
Hofmeyer also pointed at the Auditor General's 2017 report had identified 80 out of 96 SAA contracts as not compliant with with regulations and 62 of them constituted irregular expenditure.
SAA was placed into business rescue in December 2019 after years of losses and state bailouts. Its creditors have voted to proceed with a business rescue plan to cut staff and provide billions more in funding and a new airline is expected to be formed to replace the embattled entity.
By: Sibongile Khumalo
Qatar Cargo appoints Menzies Aviation as Heathrow ground handler
Qatar Airways Cargo has appointed Menzies Aviation to handle airfreight from the carrier’s passenger and freighter aircraft, as well as providing cargo transportation to and from aircraft, at London Heathrow Airport.
The companies said that partnership is part of a joint approach to develop Qatar Cargo’s global network handling partnership programme.
From September 1, Menzies Aviation will provide Qatar Cargo with more than 7,000 sq m of warehouse space for the handling of passenger and freighter cargo at Heathrow.
Qatar Airways Cargo will also benefit from a reception area and operations office, as well as office space and a gym for its employees.
In addition, Menzies Aviation said it is enhancing its delivery and collection process for the forwarding and trucking community as part of the agreement. It also plans to invest in handling facilities for pharma and temperature-sensitive cargo.
Guillaume Halleux, chief officer of cargo at Qatar Airways, commented: “We are glad to appoint Menzies Aviation as our ground handling partner in London Heathrow. We share the same values of customer-centricity and service excellence and believe this partnership will enable us to offer smooth and seamless handling for all types of cargo, especially pharmaceuticals and temperature-controlled freight.”
Robert Fordree, Menzies Aviation executive vice president, cargo, added: “We are delighted that Qatar Airways Cargo has appointed Menzies as its new handler.
“This award is the result of a close-working relationship in a number of global locations which has enabled us to develop a deep understanding of the cargo carrier’s requirements. It shows our renewed focus on our global cargo business and a clear strategy to partner with global carriers at multiple locations is beginning to deliver results.”
By: Rachelle Harry
Aer Lingus linked with seven new routes from Belfast City Airport
AER Lingus has been linked with seven former Flybe routes at Belfast City Airport.
The collapse of Flybe in early March took with it around 80 per cent of all flights at the east Belfast airport.
Some of the 14 routes vacated by the regional carrier have already been snapped up by Scottish airline Loganair, Eastern Airways and British Airways’ subsidiary City Flyer.
But a glitch on the Aer Lingus website suggests the Irish airline could be set to take on the bulk of the remaining routes.
Aer Lingus currently operates a number of regional routes in Ireland and Britain flown by Stobart Air.
Seven new routes from Belfast City Airport to former Flybe destinations in Britain appeared on the Aer Lingus online booking system for a number of hours on Thursday.
The routes, which were quickly removed, included flights to Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, East Midlands, Glasgow and Exeter.
The flights were all listed as fully booked. Aviation insiders said such practice is often typical for airlines preparing to introduce new routes.
Asked about it plans for Belfast City Airport, a spokesperson for the airline said: “It is Aer Lingus policy not to comment on online speculation regarding potential changes to our route network.”
Aer Lingus and fellow IAG airline British Airways currently operates the Belfast City Airport to Heathrow route on a joint basis.
It’s the airline’s only active route in the north after recently cutting services from Belfast City to Faro and Malaga earlier this year.
It’s a far cry from 2007 when Aer Lingus announced it would set up its first hub outside Dublin at Belfast International Airport. Initially launched with eight routes, it soon expanded to 14 destinations.
But the carrier later switched its focus to Gatwick, stripping back the Aldergrove operation.
Aer Lingus eventually moved from Belfast International to Belfast City Airport in October 2012, a major coup for the latter at the time.
The introduction of the new routes at Belfast City Airport would come as a surprise in the current climate for the industry.
But the seven routes listed on the Aer Lingus website were among the most popular operated by Flybe in Belfast.
By: Ryan McAleer
International Airlines Group (IAG) notes recent media speculation regarding the possibility of IAG undertaking an equity raise.
As detailed in its Q1 financial results announcement on 7 May, going into the crisis IAG had a strong balance sheet and liquidity with cash and undrawn facilities at 30 April of €10 billion. IAG has taken appropriate actions to strengthen its balance sheet and boost its liquidity position. This includes the announcement earlier today that IAG has extended its global commercial partnership with American Express and will receive a payment of approximately £750 million.
The Group is evaluating the merits of a rights issue of up to €2.75 billion that would further strengthen IAG's balance sheet. No decision has been made as to whether or when to proceed with a rights issue.
A further announcement will be made as appropriate.
Source: British Airways
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