Coronavirus opens new route for Qatar Airways
March 27, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has opened a new route for Qatar Airways, which will operate flights to Brisbane for the first time and increase services to Australia to help people get home. The Doha-based carrier said on 26 March it will add 48,000 seats from 29 March and use larger aircraft like the Airbus A380 on these routes. Doha is one of the few transit options left for people wishing to get to and from Australia and New Zealand after many countries moved to tighten border restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Qatar will fly daily from Doha to Brisbane using a Boeing 777-300ER, twice daily to Perth with an A380 and 777-300ER, and twice daily to Melbourne with an A350-1000 and 777-300ER. The carrier will fly three times a day to Sydney using an A350 and 777-300ER. Previously, Qatar only flew to Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. “We know there are many people who want to be with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker states. “We are thankful to the Australian government, airports and staff for their support in helping us to add additional flights to get people home, and in particular, to bring flights to Brisbane.” He adds that Qatar Airways is working with governments around the world and will add or reinstate more flights where it can. It currently operates around 150 daily flights to over 70 cities worldwide, he says. The British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Laura Clarke says in an email to British nationals stuck in New Zealand that Qatar Airways has also added additional flights from Auckland to the UK via Doha. Singapore Airlines has also agreed to operate a one-off flight on the Auckland-Singapore-London route on Sunday, Clarke writes in the email. As Singapore is currently closed to transit passengers, travellers will have to remain on the flight.

Source: Cirium

US Senate offers $78b in aid to airlines, workers, contractors
March 26, 2020
A government aid package currently making its way through the US Congress calls for loans and payroll support for airlines and aviation industry workers of $78 billion altogether, but links the assistance to strict conditions regarding executive pay, stock buybacks, dividends and requirements to maintain employee levels through the third quarter of the year. According to a Senate official familiar with the $2 trillion draft bill, the legislation as it stands on 25 March includes loans to passenger airlines and related businesses ($25 billion), cargo airlines ($4 billion) and business “critical to maintaining national security” ($17 billion). Aside from loans, the Senate seeks to provide ”payroll support” to the tune of another $29 billion for passenger and cargo airlines, and $3 billion for contractors like baggage handlers and catering workers. This money must be used for wages, benefits and health care, the official adds. Additional details about the payroll assistance remain unknown, though they would come with “government warrants”. The airline industry had been pushing lawmakers to provide payroll help in the form of grants, which would not need repayment. The aid would help prop up an industry whose demand had fallen sharply practically overnight after the coronavirus spread into an international pandemic. The text of the bill as it currently stands sets conditions for this assistance, which include preventing airlines from furloughing employees until the end of September, putting a stop to stock buybacks and dividends until September 2021, and limits executive pay to $3 million per year, while forbidding ”golden parachutes” - large sums of money offered as severance pay if executives leave the company. Should assisted companies violate the terms of the agreement, the government has written a clause into the bill that would allow it to claw back the support, the official says. Exact details and language in the legislation are still being hammered out behind closed doors, but the Senate is expected to vote on the bill later in the day, before it goes to the House of Representatives for a vote there, and, ultimately, is signed into law by President Donald Trump. Airlines have been heavily criticised for their past perceived behaviour of putting shareholders and investors ahead of their employees. While Republicans focused on getting help to the airlines so they could maintain their business and start up quickly again when the pandemic subsides, Democrats pushed for provisions that would protect workers and contractors affected by the sharp and sudden drop-off in business. “Some 80 to 90% of passenger load has disappeared,” says Dick Durban, a Senator from Illinois, the home state of Chicago-based United Airlines as well as the headquarters of Boeing. “Employees have asked for help, and we are prepared to do that. But I do believe accountability and transparency are necessary.” “I wished that we would have gotten more requirements on the airline industry on the grant section of this bill,” Senator Maria Cantwell says. Cantwell is one of two senators from Washington state, where Boeing has numerous factories and one of the US hotspots for the virus. “I will continue to fight for the aviation supply chain so that when we come out of the crisis that the US is well positioned to return to building Americas single largest export.” Earlier this week, Boeing closed its Seattle-area factories for 14 days, and told suppliers to hold shipments for those factories. Meantime, airlines are beginning to extend their change waivers in anticipation that the sector may be affected and aircraft grounded longer than previously expected. American Airlines says on 25 March that its change fee waivers will be in effect for flgihts booked through 15 April, also for its non-refundable fares.

Source: Cirium

Embraer manufactures ventilator parts
March 26, 2020
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer has begun manufacturing parts for ventilators in an effort to support the country’s medical industry as the coronavirus pandemic grips all corners of the globe. Embraer says on 25 March it has also begun working with a Sao Paolo hospital to provide technical support for air filter systems and air quality control that could turn regular hospital wards into intensive care units. The work is taking place at the company’s headquarters facility in San Jose dos Campos. “The actions, developed jointly with Embraer’s supply chain, include the manufacturing of parts for the ventilator and respirator industry, the replacement of imported components for ventilators, the development of high-efficiency filtration systems for transforming regular hospital beds into intensive care beds and studies for the development of simple, robust and portable respirators aimed at rapid implementation and availability,” the manufacturer says. The company adds the filters used in air conditioning systems on aircraft can be modified to be used by clinics and hospitals, helping meet immediate health care needs. "The global health care system is facing an unprecedented scenario, and Embraer plans to apply its capacity during this moment of global collaboration and demand for effective and short-term solutions,” Embraer says. According to the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, more than 466,000 people have been infected by the virus worldwide, resulting in more than 21,000 deaths in 173 countries. Brazil reports 2,433 cases, with 57 deaths.

Source: Cirium


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