UK bans Russian airlines from selling airport slots
May 20, 2022
The UK government has announced additional sanctions against Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya, aimed at preventing them from selling the airport slots they hold. The government says that under the new measures the three Russian carriers will not be able to sell their "unused, lucrative" UK landing slots – the value of which is estimated at £50 million ($62 million). "We've already closed our airspace to Russian airlines," states UK foreign secretary Liz Truss. "Today, we're making sure they can't cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports. Every economic sanction reinforces our clear message to Putin – we will not stop until Ukraine prevails." Data from UK airport slot co-ordinator ACL's website shows that Aeroflot holds 35 weekly slot-pairs at Heathrow. Ural Airlines has one slot pair a week at the UK hub. Rossiya doesn't hold any Heathrow slots but holds a daily slot-pair at London Gatwick. Without designation Aeroflot would retain the rights to those slots and be able to trade them with other airlines. Although Aeroflot is not currently using the slots, under the current restrictions they have been granted "justified non-use" which contributes to the 70% usage requirement for them to retain the slots. As a result of these economic resources being frozen, ACL should not facilitate the trading of any slots which the airlines hold. ACL cannot allocate slots to sanctioned airlines for future seasons nor can it continue granting alleviation for cancellations made by Russian carriers in the current summer 2022 season. Slots for which Russian airlines currently hold historic rights will be returned to the slot pool for re-allocation to other airlines. Independent consultant Edmond Rose estimates that in normal times Aeroflot's slots would be worth £40-55 million. The ACL website shows that there have been no leasing or trading of slots by the Russian carriers since 2018. The three carriers have been prevented from operating into UK airspace since the invasion of Ukraine, a move reciprocated by Russian authorities in relation to British Airways' Moscow flights. The Russian airlines are subject to asset freezes, and former Aeroflot chief executive Mikhail Igorevich Poluboyarinov was personally sanctioned by the UK in March.

​Thai AirAsia X files for rehabilitation process
May 20, 2022
Thai AirAsia X on 17 May filed for a rehabilitation process with the Thai Central Bankruptcy Court and has begun preparations to initiate it. The carrier intends to revamp its administration process and restructure debts, delivering greater efficiency and a solid platform for robust future growth after weathering the Covid-19 pandemic, it says in a statement today. The process will have no impact on passengers as operations will continue as usual and Thai AirAsia X prepares to reintroduce flights to South Korea and Japan from June 2022 onwards, it adds. Moreover, there will be no impact or any effect on Thai AirAsia and Asia Aviation, which are separate entities with discrete operations and routes. Once the Thai Central Bankruptcy Court grants its order for Thai AirAsia X to enter into the rehabilitation process, the carrier will draft a rehabilitation plan and bolster its liquidity to ensure it operates at full capacity. Progress on the airline's rehabilitation process will be reported periodically. Chief executive Patima Jeerapaet states: "Thai AirAsia X also has further plans for expansion and will be adding flight frequencies and new routes in line with demand."

China Eastern crash possibly due to intentional action: report
May 19, 2022
The China Eastern Airlines MU5735 crash in March may have been caused by intentional action, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with US officials' preliminary assessment of the fatal incident. Data from a recovered flight recorder suggests inputs to the controls pushed the flight into a near-vertical descent at extreme speed, the 17 May article states. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which in April led a team to China to support official investigations into the crash, has referred questions to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). NTSB says: "The NTSB has assisted the Civil Aviation Administration of China with their investigation of the China Eastern 737 crash. The NTSB doesn’t comment on investigations led by other authorities. All information related to that investigation will be released by the CAAC." The China Eastern Boeing 737-800 was en route from Kunming to Guangzhou when it crashed into the mountains at Wuzhou, Guangxi province on 21 March. None of the 123 passengers and nine crew members survived. The aircraft bore registration B-1791, MSN 41474, and was delivered new to China Eastern Airlines in June 2015. The cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders were subsequently recovered and found to be badly damaged. Per ICAO's requirements, CAAC released a preliminary report on 20 April, 30 days from the incident. According to CAAC's report, the aircraft took off at 13:16 from Kunming and reached cruising altitude of 8,900m (29,200ft) at 13:27, which was maintained when it entered Guangzhou's air traffic control area at 14:17. About three minutes later, Guangzhou's air traffic controllers issued a warning at 14:20:55 that the aircraft was deviating from the assigned altitude but received no response from the crew. The aircraft eventually lost contact and its last known radar signal at 14:21:40 stated an altitude of 3,380m, ground speed 1,010km/h. CAAC said in the preliminary report: "Investigations revealed that the qualifications of the flight crew, cabin crew, and maintenance personnel met requirements. The aircraft's airworthiness certificate was valid and maintenance checks were completed on schedule." The regulator stated that none of the cargo onboard had been declared as dangerous goods, and there were no forecasts of bad weather. Before the aircraft deviated from the cruising altitude, radio communications between the crew and air traffic controllers showed no abnormality.


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