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Germany




Lufthansa Plunges To €1.5bn Loss


Lufthansa Sees Revenue Drop 80%, No Full Recovery Until 2024




 

Ghana


Fact-Check: Government NOT Reopening Borders Or Airports Next Week


A social media post claims the Minister for Aviation in an interview said the government is considering the reopening of borders and airports to human traffic next week.


The Aviation Minister did not grant the said interview. His office has further debunked the claim.


Full Text


Following the Coronavirus pandemic and its related impact, President Nana Addo Dankwa Addo Akufo-Addo in April announced a three-week partial lockdown of Accra and Kumasi associated with the closure of the country’s borders and other entry points in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.


However, on May 1, 2020, the president announced an extension of the border closure to May 31, 2020. Now, there is an indefinite closure of the country’s borders to international and human traffic as a result of the persistent spread of the coronavirus pandemic.


In his 14th address to the nation, President Akufo-Addo declared a further easing of COVID-19 induced restrictions indicating a path towards returning to normalcy in order to revive social and economic livelihood.


“Life cannot be put on hold indefinitely, and Ghana cannot remain in a never-ending crisis management situation. That is why we have been putting measures in place to gradually restore some normalcy in our social and economic lives, as we learn to cope with the reality of the virus,” Mr Akufo-Addo noted.


Although the president revealed that Ghana’s borders will remain closed until further notice, a special dispensation was granted to Ghanaian nationals who seek to return home from abroad. Such persons will be made to undergo mandatory quarantine.


The newly-issued orders also allowed for re-opening of some tourist centres and open-air drinking spots as well as the easing of restrictions for domestic flights and transportation services.


A Facebook post, however, claims the Minister for Aviation, Joseph Kofi Kowah Addah, said the government is considering reopening borders next week.


The post also claimed that the Minister said this while speaking on Accra based radio station JoyFM.


The claim was posted on Facebook by a user; “JM BA Kwadwo” and has since been shared on other social media platforms.


Verification


When contacted, the Public Relations Officer at the aviation ministry, Madeleine Insaidoo, said Minister Adda did not grant any interview or issued a press release announcing the reopening of the country’s borders.


Mrs Insaidoo labelled the claim as false and urged the public to disregard it.


“There’s not going to be any reopening of borders as of yet as it has been claimed on Facebook and the minister [Joseph Kofi Adda] has not granted an interview to that effect either, so these claims that are going around are indeed false. We are going to issue a statement to that effect soon,” she said.


The official Facebook account of the ministry of aviation later published a circular debunking the claims that Ghana’s border entry points will be reopened next week.


“The Ministry wishes to inform the general public that the above news item is false and that at no point in time, has Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister for Aviation, stated this in any interview or press release. So, it should be disregarded,” the circular read.


CONCLUSION: The Facebook post’s claim should, therefore, be viewed as twisting of information to misinform the general public. We, therefore, find the claim to be false and urge people to disregard it.


Source: GhanaWeb.com


 

India


BA To Operate Multiple Weekly Flights Between India And London From August 17

In a press release, the airline said it will operate five flights a week from Delhi and Mumbai to Heathrow airport in London.


British Airways said on Friday it will operate multiple weekly relief flights between four Indian cities and London from August 17 as per a bilateral arrangement signed with the Indian government.


In a press release, the airline said it will operate five flights a week from Delhi and Mumbai to Heathrow airport in London.


There will be four flights per week from Heathrow airport to Hyderabad and Bangalore, it added.


"British Airways will be able to take all customers eligible under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs nonstop to London and beyond on British Airways' current flight network," it stated.


Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic.


However, since July, the Indian government has formed bilateral 'air bubbles' with some countries including the USA, the UK, France and Germany under which airlines of both the countries can operate international passenger flights.


On board, all cabin crew will wear PPE and a new food service has been introduced which reduces the number of interactions required with customers, the airline said in the press release.


By: PTI


Air India Express Flight From Dubai Crashes At Kozhikode



An Air India Express flight from Dubai carrying 191 people skidded off a wet runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport in Kerala on Friday evening and crashed into a ravine, breaking into two and leaving 17 people, including the two pilots, dead and several critically injured.


The incident involving a Boeing 737 jetliner occurred at 7.41pm and several injured passengers were immediately evacuated to hospital, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. It did not specify the number of casualties, but Kerala health minister K.K. Shailaja said at least 17 people had died. Junior external affairs minister V. Muraleedharan said the pilot and the first officer were among the dead.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was pained by the accident. “My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected," Modi said in a tweet.


“The @FlywithIX flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 persons on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft into a slope before breaking up into two pieces. We are in touch with local authorities," civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a statement. He said relief teams from Air India and Airports Authority of India were being immediately dispatched from Delhi and Mumbai. All efforts are being made to help passengers. A formal enquiry will be conducted by Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, Puri said. The crash occurred amid heavy monsoon rains in the southern coastal state where visibility at the airport was about 2000 ft, according to a Union government official.


The flight was operated by Captain Deepak Vasanth Sathe and first officer Akhilesh Kumar and it was repatriating passengers from Dubai as part of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission in the wake of the pandemic. The budget airline, a subsidiary of flag carrier Air India Ltd, had four cabin crew—Shilpa Katare, Akshay Pal Singh, Lalit Kumar and Abhik Biswas, according to the declaration document by the airline, before the flight commenced.

“A total of 189 had booked tickets. But 184 boarded including 10 kids, 128 men and 46 women," Muraleedharan said.


The aviation ministry said there were 10 infants. Officials have been ordered to take necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted shortly after the incident.


Officials deployed airport taxis and private vehicles from the neighbourhood to rush the injured to hospitals. Kerala health minister K.K. Shailaja said the reports she received from the Kozhikode Medical College suggested that people who reached there were really critical.

The tragic accident invoked memories of a similar incident last year when an Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the Mangalore airport runway.


The Boeing aircraft performed a ‘go around’ the airport twice before it attempted to land at the airport which was witnessing heavy rains since Friday morning.


The Kozhikode airport is a tabletop airport, which is difficult to navigate during heavy rains and adverse weather. A tabletop airport is one where the runway is on the top of a plateau or hill with one or both ends adjacent to a steep elevation, which drops into a gorge.


The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had in July last year raised significant safety concerns regarding Airports Authority of India operated Kozhikode airport. According to the regulator, the runway could be dangerous for landings during heavy rains. A DGCA spokesperson was not immediately available for comments.


Spokespersons at Air India Express and Airport Authority of India, which operates the Kozhikode airport, were not immediately available for comment.


By: Nidheesh M.K. and Rhik Kundu


Boeing 737 craft operated by Air India crash lands in Southern India: AFP


 

Industry News


Africa’s Airspace After COVID-19



In the recent history of aviation, only one event has changed the airline industry as much as Covid-19. After terrorists flew two hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one into a Pennsylvania field in 2001, security standards were irreversibly changed to meet the growing threat. 


Prior to 9/11, boarding a plane had been relatively simple with few checks applied to passengers.


While the pandemic shows no sign of abating, a fundamental shift is again on the horizon, this time relating to health and safety.


The question for African airlines is how these changes might affect the economic viability of already unprofitable carriers and how quickly they can adapt to the new world. 

New Measures 

The good news for aviation executives is that recommendations to restart the industry from the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) do not demand that airlines carry fewer passengers.


Most of the ICAO’s guidelines – which cover airports and aircraft – include relatively simple measures like personal protective equipment for staff, cleaning aircraft cabins, changing the boarding process, limiting access to toilets and minimising the interaction between staff and passengers.


Advice around physical distancing on board remains vague, merely stating that airlines should assign seats for adequate physical distancing between passengers.


“We are not talking about billions of dollars being poured into R&D,” says Linden Burns, managing director of communications firm Plane Talking. “It’s the everyday practice of good hygiene. Wash your hands with sanitiser, encourage people who are not feeling well not to travel. They’ll be an initial period of inconvenience where we will get used to it, but pretty soon some of these things will become part of our daily routine.” 


Though passengers may feel uncomfortable with a lack of social distancing, the loss of a middle seat has potentially ruinous effects on profitability, which has sparked industry lobbying for busier planes. 


Aside from renovating airports with health infrastructure like handwash stations, the operational costs may not change significantly if the ICAO recommendations become the industry standard. However, complications may arise if health measures are not standardised and unified across all jurisdictions. 


“One of the concerns voiced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is that after 9/11 there wasn’t one approach that could be applied worldwide,” says Burns. 


“We had every local authority, every national authority and in some cases the airport on its own dreaming up their own safety measures and enforcing them. And 19 years later there is a complete patchwork of security measures.” 


Ultimately, however, each administration will decide whether the ICAO recommendations should be adopted or not. If the rules are deemed insufficiently robust, or the resumption of flying leads to an uptick in cases, things may change.


A tougher line taken towards on-board social distancing or universal passenger testing by a significant destination country could change the calculation for global airlines.


Guidelines from the European Union Safety Aviation Agency in May define physical distancing as 1.5m and urge physical distancing on planes where possible. 

Travel Bubbles

Confusion around new rules could present problems for African airlines that struggle to gain landing rights in many international destinations. 


Though African operators can meet ICAO requirements, the possibility of unilateral restrictions could complicate their access to other jurisdictions.


This also applies to the growing industry phenomenon of “travel bubbles” or “air corridors”, bilateral agreements that facilitate air travel between two countries that are beginning to take shape around the world. 


For example, the UK and Portugal are expected to form one such agreement, allowing British holidaymakers to visit Portuguese beaches over the summer months.


New Zealand and Australia discussed a travel bubble in the early stages of the pandemic but it has yet to formally materialise. 


The worry is that foreign regulators will be slow to prioritise bilateral agreements with African countries and that pervasive stereotypes – or a lack of confidence in the governments’ testing ability or healthcare response – will deter policymakers from allowing citizens to visit the continent.


This could have a devastating impact on countries which rely on tourism as a key source of foreign exchange, reinforcing the need for African governments to bring the virus under control. 


Even if flights are allowed to resume, passengers will have to trust in a country’s response before they board.


After declaring that Tanzania was virus-free, President John Magufuli opened his country’s airspace to international flights.


But amid reports of thousands of undiagnosed cases, very few tourists have decided to visit. Without a significant uptick, Air Tanzania, which has been undergoing a revival since Magufuli came to power in 2015, faces a bleak future.


“Even if individual governments lift travel restrictions, that doesn’t mean that the appetite or the regulation on the other side will catch up,” says Indigo Ellis, head of Africa at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy. 

Regional Travel

As long-haul travel looks to bear the brunt of the pandemic, regional operators that are less exposed to the international market will likely bounce back quicker than larger counterparts.

One interesting example of an airline that has not been as severely affected by the pandemic – aside from Ethiopian Airlines – is Uganda Airlines (UA). Also seeking a revival from an earlier form of the airline, UA has only been operational since last October when it completed delivery of four short-haul Bombardier CRJ900ERs.


In January 2020, it operated flights to six countries throughout the East Africa region but soon after grounded its fleet following the onset of COVID-19.


The lack of market exposure and the newness of the fleet means that UA has lost less in revenue and must pay fewer overheads to maintain the aircraft. The government also completed its capital allocation for the airline before the pandemic which is a bonus.

“The fact that we have stopped flying means we haven’t spent the capital we have received for this year, so it has been pushed forward,” says Cornwell Muleya, the airline’s CEO. “In the short term, from a liquidity point of view, we don’t need a bailout. The capitalisation should be sufficient.”


While some airlines are scaling back orders, the delivery of two Airbus A330-800neos is scheduled for the end of the year, he confirms.


However, rather than use these long-haul aircraft for flights to London, Dubai and China – as was the intention – the CEO will likely redirect the airplanes to West Africa and Southern Africa, where he sees greater demand in the medium-term.


Consolidation within the African market is perhaps the only Covid-19 advantage for domestic carriers. They should be able to clinch market share from foreign competitors like Emirates and Turkish Airlines which are also under financial duress.


Yet this will require greater regional cooperation from African airlines and Covid-19 may have regressed efforts towards a liberalised airspace enshrined in the African Union’s Single African Air Transport Market.


Most analysts also believe that foreign carriers remain bullish about the African market, and M&A activity will continue with the purchase of a stake in RwandAir by Qatar Airways setting the recent standard.


“Africa has most of the fastest growing economies in the world, it is a huge untapped market,” says Chiedza Madzima, head of operational risk at Fitch Solutions, a credit intelligence firm.


“I think the story is compelling enough and those airlines that are big enough will continue to invest in Africa.” – African Business


By: Tom Collins

Source: southerntimesafrica.com


 

Morocco


Covid-19: The Moroccan Airspace Will Remain Closed Until 10 September


The Moroccan airspace will remain closed until 10 September, according to Le360 from informed sources. This decision, which will soon be made official, does not affect special flights to and from the Kingdom of Morocco.


Moroccans planning to go on holiday abroad and foreign tourists planning to sunbathe on the Kingdom’s beaches should reconsider their plans.


According to Le360, the Moroccan Airspace will remain closed until 10 September 1 month more than was previously planned, and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) of the Ministry of Equipment and Transport will soon issue a NOTAM (A notice to airmen) in this direction.


This decision, Le360 explains, is in line with the extension of the health emergency to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and bring it under control.  The Moroccan space will be closed for another 1 month.


However, this decision does not affect the special flights dedicated to Moroccans stranded abroad and to foreign residents in the Kingdom. These special flights will continue to be operated by three airlines, namely Royal Air Maroc, Air France, and Air Arabia.


By: Mary Moore


 

Nigeria



FG To Reopen Nigerian Airspace to International Flights in Weeks


Buhari Plans to Reopen Nigerian Airspace to International Flights


The Federal Government has said it would reopen the nation’s airspace to international flights in few weeks.


Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.


The Airspace was closed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. However, with economies gradually reopening despite lack of a viable vaccine for the ravaging coronavirus, President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has decided to join other global nations and reopen the Nigerian airspace to international flight operations.


This was after Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace announced it would be letting go 70 pilots due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the airline financial position.


Also, earlier this week Bristow Helicopter announced it would let go about 100 pilots and engineers as it can no longer support them financially. This series of sacks in the aviation sector likely prompted the Federal Government to reconsider its position on airspace lockdown.


Sirika said, “So we really want to open. But we can’t open alone, for within the space where we operate we’ve got all kinds of people there in the airports.


“We’ve got immigration, police, Customs, civil defense, port health, etc, and so the PTF has set up a technical committee to come up with a date when everybody will be happy to start.

The minister added, “So we will open as soon as all of us are happy to open. And I want to adopt what the coordinator has said; it will be in weeks rather than in months.


Sirika, however, urged Nigerians not to blame officials for the current situation in the aviation sector.


He said, “On the question about the reopening of the airports, I will like to use this medium to reiterate and to be consistent with what we’ve been saying. I want people to understand that this is not purely an aviation function.


“It also has to do with our health and is so huge that it made Mr. President in his wisdom to set up the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. This is in the interest of the nation.


By: Samed Olukoya


As Pandemic Forces Layoffs in Aviation Sector


It was predicted. Industry stakeholders knew that without earning revenues for months, airlines would not have operational funds to maintain the pre-COVID-19 status when they resume service.


That was why insightful governments provided bailouts and palliatives to their airlines. The economic meltdown occasioned by Coronavirus lockdown was global and aviation was the most affected.


But despite the bailout, airlines are forced to streamline their operations because, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as far as COVID-19 still continues to be a threat, passenger traffic would be low for a long time; until vaccine is developed and distributed to the ends of the world so that everyone could access it.


All major carriers in the world have laid off personnel, engaged in salary cuts and some have applied for bankruptcy.


Nigerians were agitated on Monday when the country’s biggest carrier, Air Peace confirmed that it laid off 69 pilots in the process of restructuring the company for post-COVID-19 operations, stressing that the most important thing was to ensure the survival of the airline so that it could still engage those laid off today in future.


“This decision was taken for the greater good of the company and its almost 3000 workforce, the affected pilots inclusive. The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organisations, insurance companies, banks and other creditors hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.


“The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out internal restructuring of their costs. Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period.


“Therefore, we decided to review the salaries bein