ARC NEWS
​Qatar Airways enters codeshare pact with Airlink
June 28, 2022
Qatar Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with South Africa's Airlink, following the collapse earlier this month of the Middle Eastern carrier's previous codeshare partner in the country, Comair. Oneworld member Qatar Airways says the codeshare agreement covers 45 destinations in 13 countries and increases its footprint in Southern Africa through improved access to destinations including Port Elizabeth, Hoedspruit, Skukuza and George in South Africa as well as cities in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. A codeshare deal with Dubai-based Emirates was struck by Airlink earlier this month. Its chief executive Rodger Foster said in a LinkedIn post on 9 June that other local airlines would quickly fill the gap left by Comair, which is being liquidated after failing to secure enough capital to enable it to restart flights. Airlink's codeshare with Qatar Airways will begin on 6 July, subject to regulatory approval. Qatar Airways operates 21 weekly flights from Doha to Johannesburg, where Airlink is based, as well as 10 to Cape Town and four to Durban. "We have boosted our presence in the African market by adding eight new destinations since the start of the pandemic and fostering partnerships such as this dynamic agreement with Airlink, which will greatly enhance our offering to our customers and support travel and trade," states Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker.


Airbus to build SAF plant in Hamburg with partners
June 27, 2022
Airbus and Siemens are partnering with energy companies Sasol and Uniper to establish a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Hamburg, Germany. Operations at the facility are scheduled to start in 2026, and in its initial configuration it will have capacity to supply 10,000t of power-to-liquid (PtL) kerosene per annum, says the local industrial cluster Hamburg Aviation. It adds that the production volume equates to a fifth of the power-to-liquid SAF required under the first stage of a German government plan to gradually mandate SAF blends from 2026. Emirates has indicated interest in using SAF from the plant. Vice-president of international, government and environment affairs Will Lofberg states that the airline is "strongly supportive of this initiative to develop environmentally and economically sustainable power-to-liquid fuel", adding: "The launch of the 'Green Fuels Hamburg' project is a major milestone towards scaling up the production of this type of sustainable aviation fuel." The government of Hamburg – one of Germany's 16 federated states – is supporting the project. The city's airport operator and technical university are additional partners in the effort. The facility will include an electrolysis plant to produce green hydrogen with electricity from offshore wind power. Hydrogen will subsequently be converted with carbon dioxide to synthetic SAF via the Fischer-Tropsch process, Hamburg Aviation says. Citing the importance of hydrogen as future aviation fuel alongside SAF, the head of Airbus's local plant Andre Walter states that the new SAF facility will make "an important contribution to the ramp-up of PtL production in Germany, and could become a technology export hit". He adds that most flights of the airframer's Beluga transport from its Finkenwerder site are being operated with a 18% blended SAF. Hamburg's senator for economic affairs and innovation Michael Westhagemann states: "The market ramp-up of hydrogen is one of the most important projects in northern German economic and energy policy, and is of immense importance for the whole of Germany." On 22 June, South Africa's Sasol and the German airframer Deutsche Aircraft disclosed a memorandum of understanding to joint forces in advancing technology for hydrogen-based PtL production of SAF. Deutsche Aircraft is developing an updated, stretched version of the Dornier 328 turboprop.


​Air Canada takes steps to ease disruption amid high demand
June 27, 2022
Air Canada has unveiled a number of initiatives aimed at easing airport congestion as it deals with ongoing strong demand for air travel coupled with lower staffing levels. The measures, announced after a 23 June meeting between the airline, Canada's federal transport minister and other aviation stakeholders, include increasing minimum connection times by 30min for new bookings, and rescheduling or cancelling peak-time flights out of Toronto and Montreal. "As all businesses worldwide are finding, restarting after Covid is an extremely complex task and we deeply appreciate our customers' understanding and patience during these often-frustrating times," states Air Canada chief executive Michael Rousseau. The Star Alliance carrier says it plans to operate "below its pre-pandemic capacity as the industry stabilises", with 80% of its June 2019 schedule running this month. Air Canada has 32,000 employees – down from 33,000 prior to the pandemic – and is in the process of recruiting more staff members. In addition to recalling "virtually all available employees", it has hired more than 2,000 front-line airport employees and 774 call-centre staff over the last six months, and is offering overtime as well as "drawing upon recently retired employees with special expertise". To make things run more smoothly while staffing levels are ramped back up, Air Canada has introduced new self-service reaccommodation tools which allow passengers with delayed or cancelled flights to rebook or request a refund through its mobile app or website. It has also introduced a "goodwill policy" enabling passengers travelling through Toronto Pearson airport to increase their connection times at no cost, while the minimum connection times on all new bookings from Toronto and Montreal have been increased by half an hour. The airline says it has rescheduled or cancelled some peak-time flights from Toronto and Montreal in order to "conserve resources and reduce stress on third-party service providers by smoothing passenger flows". Air Canada says it has also redeployed aircraft from its Jetz charter fleet to help move delayed baggage, and has reassigned employees from other bases to help out in specific airports. "The airline continues to evaluate other measures to enhance the functioning and stability of the air transport system and is committed to working with its partners on further improvements," adds Air Canada.


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