Gol places international recovery on back burner
January 07, 2022
Brazil's Gol expects international flights to contribute about 8% of ASK capacity in 2022, about half the network share pre-pandemic. "We're going to be more of a follower [when it comes to the return of international operations] given the volatility and restrictions that can apply to international destinations," Gol's finance chief Richard Lark said today during an investor presentation in Singapore. This means a "much smaller contribution to EBITDA" from international operations, compared to 15% of ASKs pre-Covid-19, contributing 10% of total revenues and about 5% of EBITDA. Meanwhile on the domestic front, the airline's revenues had in December exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since March 2020, at 9.8% above the corresponding month. This was driven primarily by VFR traffic and Lark says that Gol's large corporate sales reached around 80% of 2019 levels. Gol had conveyed in its November earnings call expectations for a recovery at the end of the first quarter of 2022. This lag in corporate travel, however, has pushed the timeline out to the second half of the 2022, Lark says. Gol expects to recover the remaining 20% of its corporate travel segment "over the next few months". The airline will focus its business network on point-to-point and shuttle flights for clients in industries that have shown the least recovery so far, including the finance sector, Lark says. "We do expect that Gol's utilisation will return to our normalised levels of around 12h a day in the second half."

​5G delay will 'substantially reduce' flight disruptions: Biden
January 06, 2022
US president Joe Biden expects that the decision to postpone activation of 5G telecommunication networks in the USA by two weeks will, in addition to ensuring "no disruptions" to flights during the pause, deliver a "substantial" reduction in related delays after 19 January. Wireless providers AT&T and Verizon agreed late on 3 January to push back the planned 5 January 5G C-band deployment by a fortnight, following concerns that it could interfere with radio altimeters on board aircraft. The providers have offered to implement a set of mitigations similar to measures used in some European operating environments for a period of six months around 50 US airports. The US Federal Aviation Administration has said it believes these mitigations "could substantially reduce the disruptions to air operations" – a sentiment that was echoed by President Biden in a 4 January statement. "This agreement [to delay 5G activation by two weeks] ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks, and puts us on track to substantially reduce disruptions to air operations when AT&T and Verizon launch 5G on January 19th," states the president. Airlines for America chief executive Nicholas Calio has welcomed the delay and the proposed mitigations, and says the US airline association "will continue to work with all stakeholders to help ensure that new 5G service can co-exist with aviation safely".

​UK to remove Omicron-related testing requirements
January 06, 2022
The UK government is axing the additional testing requirements put in place in November 2021 to slow the spread of Omicron to the country. "We're removing the temporary extra testing measures we introduced last year at the border to slow cases of Omicron coming to the UK," transport secretary Grant Shapps has posted on Twitter. "Now Omicron is the dominant variant and is widespread in the UK, these measures are no longer proportionate." Fully vaccinated passengers arriving in the country will, from 04:00 on 7 January, no longer be required to take a pre-departure test, and will not have to self-isolate whilst awaiting post-arrival testing results. In addition, fully vaccinated people who arrive after 04:00 on 9 January will be required only to take a lateral-flow test, rather than a PCR one. "By reducing testing requirements for fully vaxxed passengers to just a lateral flow post-arrival, we're supporting the safe reopening of international travel," says Shapps. The government's move follows calls earlier in the day from the UK airline industry and Manchester Airports Group to roll back testing requirements for arriving passengers. In a joint statement, MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and his counterpart at lobby group Airlines UK highlighted that as far back as 8 December health secretary Sajid Javid had acknowledged that the weakening in restrictions' value once Omicron became dominant in the country. They said research conducted for them by Oxera and Edge Heath "clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK". MAG said in December that it had seen an immediate hit to traffic because of Omicron and the late-November tightening of travel restrictions in response to the spread of the variant.


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