United is reportedly in talks for about 200 Boeing and Airbus planes

United Airlines is in talks to buy around 200 single-aisle jets in a multibillion-dollar revamp set to benefit both Boeing and Airbus, industry sources said. If confirmed, the deal could include over 100 of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 and several dozen larger Airbus A321neo jets, the sources said, asking not to be identified. The carrier is looking to upgrade its fleet at a time when travel is surging in the United States, according to Bloomberg News, which first reported the Boeing negotiations. That portion of the order could include 150 Max aircraft, it said. “We do not currently have a deal in place with Boeing or Airbus to purchase new aircraft and do not comment on speculative aircraft orders,” United spokesperson Luke Punzenberger said in response to the earlier report. In March, United ordered 25 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, as it prepares to replace aging jets and meet post-pandemic demand growth. A deal split between the 168-seat Boeing 737 Max 8 and the roughly 200-seat A321neo would deliver a broad boost to the aerospace sector as it clambers out of the Covid-19 crisis. It would bolster Boeing’s main cash cow, the Max 8, after a safety grounding while reinforcing a trend towards Airbus at the higher end of the busy single-aisle segment that threatens to alter the product line-up in their transatlantic duopoly.
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Apollo-rescued Aeromexico seeks an alternate lender

Grupo Aeromexico is talking to prospective lenders who could replace Apollo Global Management in its bankruptcy rescue, according to people familiar with the matter. Apollo funded a $1b rescue plan for the airline last year. Under the pact, it will be able to covert its loan into equity when the company reemerges from bankruptcy. The discussions, which are expected to continue into mid-June, are meant to gauge an accurate valuation of the company once it emerges from bankruptcy, one person said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. Apollo is aware of the move and has a “right of first refusal,” meaning it can choose whether or not to accept any offers to be replaced as a lender, one of the people said. If Apollo were to stay and convert its loans into equity, the new valuation would help determine the price at which it would do so, the person said. The $1b rescue plan for the struggling airline is divided into two tranches. Apollo led the financing for both, while minority bondholders were involved only in the first tranche, worth $200m. The bondholders also have an option to convert their loans into equity.
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Dutch court tracks BUK missile that downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

People charged with being involved in shooting down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 moved the BUK missile battery back to Russia, a Dutch court heard on Thursday. Judges have been examining the route taken by a ground-air missile system that destroyed a Boeing 777 on July 17 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch citizens. Investigators say the missile battery was deployed near the town of Pervomayski, which was controlled by Ukrainian separatists. Intercepted communications suggest a defence strategy was quickly drafted after the plane was shot down, according to which it was said to have been hit by a Ukrainian combat jet, which was then downed by the Russian missile battery. Russian nationals Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were charged with murder after the airliner was blown from the sky on a routine flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The missiles are believed to have come from the Russian army's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk, not far from the border with Ukraine. Pulatov, the only defendant to be represented at the trial, told his lawyers that references to a "BUK" system in the intercepted conversations was intended to fool enemy forces.
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Passenger fight leads to cell phone fire and causes flight to be rerouted

A flight from Texas to Florida was diverted after a fight between two passengers led to a cellphone catching fire. Officials say that during a dispute between the two passengers, who were traveling together, the cell phone got broken and began smouldering. Attendants on the Southwest flight grabbed it and were able to seal it inside a battery containment bag. The flight, which was travelling from Dallas Love Field to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, was diverted for landing at Pensacola International Airport. Both passengers were removed from the flight before it carried on its way without them. Southwest officials say that the diversion was because of the unruly behaviour and not the phone issue.
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Global airline body says 'travel pass' app to go live in weeks

The head of IATA said on Thursday a digital travel pass for COVID-19 test results and vaccine certifications would go live in the coming weeks following a testing phase. The mobile application, which has been tested by some airlines, was originally designed to facilitate passenger screening at the airport check-in and aircraft boarding stages. However, IATA says it has since modified the app for when passengers are also checked by immigration officers on arrival. "(The) feedback (has) been very positive. We expect to go live out of the testing mode in the next couple of weeks," International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Willie Walsh said. Around 60,000 people have been registered to test the system, he said.
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United forms venture-capital arm to advance clean-energy technology

United has formed an investment company called United Airlines Ventures, through which the carrier intends to invest in emerging clean-energy technologies. The airline will use its new “corporate venture fund”, which will have a $200m budget, to advance “sustainable concepts” that will help it reach a goal of making its operation carbon neutral by 2050, it said on 10 June. In addition, the fund will invest in “developments and innovative technologies that are expected to create value for customers and United’s operation”, it adds. “Through United Airlines Ventures, United will continue to forge a new path by accelerating the growth of small- to medium-sized companies with strong potential.” United’s vice-president of corporate development and investor relations Michael Leskinen will be president of United Ventures. The effort mirrors similar funds established by other airlines, such as the JetBlue Technology Ventures arm of JetBlue Airways. Companies view venture funds, being distinct from larger, more bureaucratic parents, as means of more effectively investing in new technologies.
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Vertical Aerospace to go public in $2.2b SPAC, gets American Airlines investment

Vertical Aerospace, an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) maker backed by investors such as American Airlines, will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal valued at $2.2b, the company said on Thursday. Vertical Aerospace said it has pre-orders for up to 1,000 eVTOL aircraft with launch customers Avolon and American Airlines, along with a pre-order option from Virgin Atlantic, all valued at up to $4b. “If you think about transportation strategically this is the next big frontier,” said Domhnal Slattery, CE of Avolon, the world’s third-largest aircraft leasing company. “Whether it is airlines operating this as an add-on product or ride sharing businesses in different jurisdictions, I think it is going to take a lot of different forms over time.” Investment in the zero-emission electric aircraft comes at a time when aviation companies are under mounting pressure from investors to help decarbonize the sector and boost their environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores. Analysts say a key question is how long it will take for the new electric aircraft to be certified by aviation authorities.
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Transat hits highest since March as it plans July 30 restart

Transat, the vacation operator that Air Canada tried to buy, will discontinue its nascent hotel division and increase its presence in Eastern Canada in an effort to restart its business and return to profit. The Montreal-based company will gradually resume operations starting July 30, it said Thursday. As part of its new strategy, it plans to seek partnerships with other carriers to expand its network, renegotiate some aircraft leases and real-estate contracts, and narrow its fleet to only two Airbus plane models. Transat shares roses as much as 4.9% to their highest level since March 16 before paring those gains. Transat sells vacation packages and flights to Canadians visiting sun-spot destinations in winter and European cities in summer. Airline operations have been suspended in Canada since Jan. 29 because of Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, revenue at Transat has all but vanished, dropping 99% from a year earlier in the quarter that ended April 30.
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CDC says US travelers can avoid wearing masks in outdoor transit hubs, ferries

The US CDC said Thursday it will no longer require travelers to wear masks in outdoor transit hubs and in outdoor spaces on ferries, buses and trolleys, due to the lower risk of coronavirus transmission outdoors. The change is the first in the CDC's transit mask policy announced in January and came after a lengthy review by the White House Office of Management and Budget's regulatory arm. The CDC said it made the change "because of the lower risk of transmission outdoors ... Masks are still required indoors on all forms of transportation" regardless of vaccination status. The change means people can take masks off outdoors while waiting for a train, in an outdoor courtyard of an airport or in open-air transit modes. The change came after the Biden administration held extensive discussions with transit unions and other groups. The administration is considering other modest changes to its indoor transit mask policies, including potentially allowing vaccinated airline workers to remove their masks in rooms not accessible to the public. The CDC in May said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places. In April, the Biden administration extended face mask requirements across all US transportation networks through Sept. 13 to address the spread of COVID-19.
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Ex-BA boss Walsh pours cold water on United Airlines supersonic jet plan

Supersonic jets do not have a place in the future, Willie Walsh, the former boss of British Airways, said, adding that he would not buy them if he still ran an airline as he dismissed a plan by United to bring them back. Supersonic passenger travel died out with the retirement of Concorde in 2003, but United said earlier in June it agreed to buy 15 ultra-fast jets from Boom Supersonic. “We’ll watch with interest but no, I wouldn’t be buying it,” Walsh told an airlines conference on Thursday. “I’m not convinced that supersonic transport is the right move going forward.” Walsh, who is now director general of global airlines body IATA, took the helm at BA a year before Concorde was grounded. “I have the nice position of having seen what the profitability of Concorde was before I joined British Airways.... It wasn’t a profitable operation,” he said.
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‘I’ve never seen such a dramatic swing and recovery’: Alaska Airlines CEO

Alaska Air Group expects to be profitable in Q3 of this year, as it benefits from what chief executive Ben Minicucci describes as a “dramatic recovery” in leisure travel. Minicucci says: “For the last three months we’ve seen a dramatic change, a dramatic recovery. We’ve pretty much seen leisure demand come back to 100% and in some cases well over 100% [of pre-pandemic levels].” Underpinning that improvement for the Seattle-based group – which largely serves domestic markets through Alaska Airlines and regional unit Horizon Air – is the USA’s relatively advanced Covid-19 vaccination programme. “Vaccinations have proven to be the catalyst… people are confident to come back,” he states. “It’s quite remarkable just how quickly it has come back. I was worried a little bit about volatility – [traffic] coming back and dipping again – but with infections staying low, deaths staying low and just the pace of vaccinations increasing, I think the travelling public after 12-15 months of being cooped up are saying, ’look, we want to get out’.” The carrier reported an adjusted loss before tax of $577m in the first quarter of 2021, but is expecting “to approach breakeven” in the second three months of the year, after what Minicucci describes as “a massive swing”.
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Loganair adds GBP1 to tickets for climate change projects

Loganair is to include a GBP1 charge on every ticket sold to invest in schemes aimed at tackling climate change. The airline's GreenSkies programme, which takes off next month, will see the "carbon offset charge" included. Loganair said the money would be invested in projects to remove the same amount of carbon from the environment as produced by its aircraft. The airline will also begin trials in Orkney of aircraft powered by hydrogen and renewable electricity. The announcements came as the airline committed to being fully carbon neutral by 2040. Funds raised through the GreenSkies charge will be invested in projects such as reforestation, and wind farms. Loganair CE Jonathan Hinkles said the entire transport industry had a "huge task" ahead to address and reduce emissions generated by travel. "The technology required to deliver zero-carbon regional flights is still under development and testing today, and these are programmes in which we're pleased to be taking an active role", he said. "Until they're ready for use more widely though, we'll be mitigating the carbon emissions from every Loganair flight through the new offset programme and taking all of the steps that we safely and reasonably can to reduce those carbon emissions in the first place."
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US: Short-staffed TSA asks its office workers to help out at checkpoints this summer

The TSA has asked some of its office workers to help security officers with a surge of summer travel at the nation's airports, a TSA official said Thursday. The ask, including to local administrative offices, comes in addition to a campaign aiming to hire 6,000 workers. The official said it has hired 3,100 transportation security officers -- the blue-shirted checkpoint employees -- so far this year. The official acknowledged the request for volunteers from its office ranks is outlined in an internal memo, which was first reported by The Washington Post. The official said offices "have been sending up volunteers throughout the week and they've been accepted to deploy." The official characterized the request as the sort the agency typically makes around busy travel periods, such as Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the past, airports and airlines have also offered their employees to help with non-security roles at checkpoints -- such as managing lines and organizing conveyor belt bins -- to make the screening process smoother. The agency is combating retention challenges it has grappled with for years, plus the stress of the pandemic. Although TSA jobs offer the stability of a federal job and other benefits like the ability to transfer airports when moving, a watchdog report in 2018 identified low pay and limited career progression as common reasons for quitting.
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South Africa set to unveil strategic equity partner for SAA

South Africa’s government is set to announce that it has found a strategic equity partner for state-owned carrier South African Airways, according to three people familiar with the matter. Details of the announcement are expected on Friday morning, the people said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t yet public. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was scheduled to brief the media on the matter Thursday, before postponing to the following day. The expected announcement comes about six weeks after the airline emerged from lengthy bankruptcy proceedings, having reduced its workforce by almost 80% and cut liabilities. The next challenge is to resume international flights, though South Africa remains cut off from much of the world due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
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BA puts thousands of staff back on furlough

British Airways has furloughed thousands of its staff, citing delays to travel as the reason behind its decision. The airline confirmed on Thursday that a large number of its workers - including management staff - have been put back onto the scheme. Workers were being brought off furlough ahead of the summer holiday period after the Government set May 17 as the date for the restart of international travel. However, no top holiday destinations are on the green list, meaning travellers returning from places such as France, Spain and Italy must quarantine at home for 10 days. A large number of BA staff were already on furlough before the latest furlough decision took place, it is understood. It comes as the Government is under pressure to reopen international travel. On Thursday, Theresa May attacked ministers, warning that Britain is “shut for business” because of travel restrictions that are “incomprehensible” in one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.
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‘Less accurate than a children’s comic’: Ryanair chief dismisses climate report

The leaders of Ryanair and Airlines for Europe (A4E) have criticised the findings of a report released earlier this week that says the airline industry has been engaged in “anti-climate lobbying”. “I don’t think we should give this report too much time or credibility,” says Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary during A4E’s annual Aviation Summit Thursday. “You’ll find more factual accuracy in a children’s comic than appeared in this rubbish yesterday,” he alleges. The report from UK-based think tank InfluenceMap claims that the airline sector is “lobbying against EU-level policies such as the sustainable aviation fuels blending mandate and the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), while also trying to weaken the international carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA”. At the same time, airlines have “initiated extensive, climate-focused PR campaigns to deflect growing concern from governments and the public over the sector’s climate footprint”, it alleges. InfluenceMap says its findings are based on “nearly 800 evidence pieces as well as dozens of documents obtained by Freedom of Information requests”.
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Airlines push for faster restart of trans-Atlantic travel

Airlines hit hard by Covid-19 sought swifter action to loosen restrictions on travel following pledges from the US and the UK to reopen lucrative trans-Atlantic links. Carriers welcomed an agreement by President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to create a joint task force to explore options for resuming flights, but are pushing for their administrations to go further than the tentative gesture. “Quickly is the key,” said Airlines for America. “We believe the science is already there.” Vaccinated people ought to be able to travel, added Luis Gallego, CEO of IAG. Given progress with rolling out inoculations in both countries, “we don’t see why they have to have restrictions between the US and the UK.” The North Atlantic corridor joining the US with Europe is the single most profitable corner of the global aviation market, filled with premium travelers paying extra for first-class and business-class seats. The connection pumps billions of dollars into the British and American economies and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to Drew Crawley, CCO of American Express Global Business Travel. “The continued closure of these vital routes for more than 400 days has been detrimental to economic recovery in both countries,” Crawley said.
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Air New Zealand to keep flying Norfolk Island

Air New Zealand has extended its agreement with the Australian government to operate flights to Norfolk Island until the end of August 2023. It comes after Qantas mounted a direct challenge to the Kiwi flag carrier by launching flights between the resort and Sydney and Brisbane earlier this year. That was for a period of three months beginning in March, and it’s not known yet whether Qantas’ service will be extended. Air New Zealand COO, Carrie Hurihanganui, said the airline will establish a temporary pilot and cabin crew base in Brisbane until 30 November to ensure potential disruptions to the travel bubble don’t affect the service. “Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight,” said Hurihanganui. “This unfortunately resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February. Having crew based in Australi"a will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again.
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Qatar Airways to resume flying UK and Irish citizens to London starting Friday

Qatar Airways wrote in a tweet on Thursday that it would resume flying British and Irish nationals and UK residents to London from Qatar and across their network starting on Friday. The Qatari flag carrier said “all arrivals will be subject to quarantine requirements”. Jon Wilks, the British ambassador to Qatar, wrote in a tweet that Qatar Airways will resume direct passenger flights to London’s Heathrow Airport and Edinburgh Airport for British, Irish nationals and those with residency rights in the UK.
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Air Montenegro launches scheduled flights

Successor carrier Air Montenegro has begun scheduled commercial flights today, launching with a service from Podgorica to Belgrade. Air Montenegro’s launch of scheduled flights comes less than six months after the collapse of Montenegro Airlines in late December 2020. The government first outlined plans for a successor carrier in early January after registering the new company. Air Montenegro CE Predrag Todorovic notes that the carrier was able to get airborne in three and a half months, having been established on 8 February. The launch of scheduled flights comes after the airline carried out its maiden flight at the start of June, a service carrying the Montenegrin national football team to Sarajevo. In addition to flights to the Serbian capital, the airline will serve the Slovenian capital Llubljana, Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Frankfurt from 15 July. Montenegro’s economic development minister Jakov Milatovic says: ”I am very pleased to attend today the first commercial flight of the new national airline Air Montenegro. With this, the Government fulfilled the promise given five months ago that Air Montenegro will take off before the main tourist season.”
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Japan bars Belarusian airlines from arrival over forced landing

The government said Thursday it has decided to ban planes operated by any Belarusian airline from landing in Japan after the Eastern European country forced a civilian plane to land and arrested a dissident journalist on board last month. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government will also advise Japanese airlines to avoid flying over Belarus, given the country’s action last month possibly violated the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The ban on arrivals by Belarusian planes is symbolic, as Japan and Belarus have no direct air connection. It follows a move by the European Union last week to ban Belarusian airlines from flying over the EU’s airspace or using its airports. “We strongly condemn the forced landing of a civilian aircraft and the arbitrary arrest of a specific passenger on board by the Belarusian authorities, and we demand the immediate release of the arrested journalist,” Kato said at a regular news conference. The Japanese move also came after the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations condemned the action by Belarus.
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Azerbaijan’s Silk Way East Airlines shuts down

Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Group has closed and will liquidate its Silk Way East Airlines unit, local news agencies reported on June 9 citing a statement circulated by the country’s State Tax Service. Creditors have been told they can submit any claims they have within a period of two months to the group’s address at Baku Airport. Silk Way Airlines incorporated the subsidiary in October 2016 but it remained merely a proposed cargo carrier within the group without launching operations, which have continued both at fellow subsidiary and cargo specialist Silk Way West Airlines and at the parent carrier. Silk Way Airlines continues as an operator of five Il-76TD freighters, and the group also includes business charter specialist SW Business Aviation.
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Iran still lying about crash, leaving air travel in country unsafe, Goodale says

The prime minister's special adviser on the downing of flight PS752 says as long as Iran refuses to tell the whole truth about the crash, the country's airspace remains unsafe. "Canada should, in my view, be raising this issue in every forum, (the International Civil Aviation Organization), in other agencies of the United Nations, through every channel and means to make sure that the world does not forget," Ralph Goodale said Thursday at the House of Commons transport committee. Goodale, a former Liberal cabinet minister, is now the Canadian high commissioner in the United Kingdom. But in 2020 he was appointed by PM Justin Trudeau as a special adviser to help guide Canada's response to the crash. He delivered a report last year critical of existing international rules for investigating plane crashes, which allow the country where the crash happens to lead the investigation, even in a situation like this where Iran was responsible for the crash. Iran, Goodale told the committee, has been evasive and misleading from day one. "The world needs to take this seriously," he said. "There is no reason for anyone to believe that the skies over Tehran are any safer today than they were in January of 2020."
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Kuwait’s Jazeera steps up to London Heathrow services

Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways is to open London Heathrow services from mid-June, two years after commencing operations at London Gatwick. The airline says it will operate its initial flight on 18 June, and serve the route from Kuwait weekly. Jazeera claims it will be the first low-cost airline from the Middle East region to fly non-stop to the primary UK hub. Frequency of the service will increase as pandemic-related travel restrictions ease, it adds. “Our new service to Heathrow airport enables Jazeera Airways to cater to popular demand for flights to and from London,” says CE Rohit Ramachandran. He says this demand includes interest from business passengers, tourists and students from the Gulf emirate. Jazeera’s reservations system indicates that the airline will use Airbus A320neo jets on the route.
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Crisis-hit EU airlines seek 'more balanced' passenger rights

European airlines said on Thursday they will seek to weaken passenger compensation and refund rights in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left the industry struggling to reimburse billions of euros in fares for grounded flights. Airlines for Europe said the so-called EU261 regulation had severely exacerbated the financial crisis for many airlines. "We're looking for a more balanced approach to consumer protection," Air France-KLM CE Ben Smith said, adding that the EU's passenger rights law was "one of the most punitive" in the world. EU rules grant consumers immediate cash refunds for cancelled flights, plus compensation for those scrapped with less than two weeks' notice or for delays of over three hours. Multibillion-euro refund bills exacerbated the cash crunch for many airlines early in the pandemic. "When events like mass cancellations get put in place this law is not flexible enough to handle such events," Smith said. The EC indicated it was not ready to consider any weakening of passenger rights. "We have always tried to strike the right balance between consumer protection and the protection of the tourism and transport industry," an EU official said. "The continued and improved protection of passenger rights is crucial to ensuring the necessary consumer trust in the transport sector."
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Air Mauritius administrators secure delay to creditor meeting

Administrators of Air Mauritius have secured a further postponement to the deadline for presenting a plan of reorganisation to the carrier’s creditors. In a stock market disclosure on 8 June, administrators Grant Thornton say they have gained supreme court clearance to hold the watershed meeting no later than 31 January 2022. The administrators Sattar Hajee Abdoula and Arvindsingh Gokhool had previously had until 30 June to present the plan, itself a postponement from an original deadline of December 2020. Grant Thornton says discussions are under way to finalise the “financial means” and the “structural reforms” to be implemented at the flag carrier. Abdoula says the administrators final proposals will depend “greatly on the support funding” that the future backers of Air Mauriritus are prepared to invest in the carrier. “Discussions were initiated and we hope that the necessary arbitrations will be made quickly,”, Abdoula adds.
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Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble remains on hold, to be reviewed in July

The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble will remain on hold even though the COVID-19 situation in Singapore has improved, the Ministry of Transport said Thursday. Authorities on both sides will review the situation in July before deciding on a launch date. The COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong has remained stable, with very few community cases in recent weeks, the ministry noted. “Both Singapore and Hong Kong remain strongly committed to launching the air travel bubble safely. We will continue to monitor the public health situation in both places closely,” MOT said. Both Singapore's Transport Minister S Iswaran and Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau have maintained "close contact", the ministry said, adding that they agreed that both sides would review the situation in early July, before making a decision on the target launch dates of flights under the air travel bubble. “An update will be provided at that point," said MOT. The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble was initially scheduled to be launched on Nov 22 last year, but it was deferred after a rise in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. During a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force on Thursday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said he did not think that Singapore had met the criteria for the resumption of the air travel bubble. “And even if we crossed the criteria for resumption … we are in a very cautious state,” Ong said in response to a question. “And so we probably don't want to rush. It’s important that at this state – embers are still there – we want to be quite cautious."
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Hong Kong Airlines goes to ‘critical survival mode’, flying only eight jets

Hong Kong Airlines will stand down its fleet of Airbus A320s until mid-2022 and operate a skeletal fleet of just eight A330s on cargo flights, as the embattled carrier enters what it calls “a critical survival mode”. The airline confirmed reports of a wide-ranging restructuring — its latest in more than a year — in a statement to FlightGlobal.
The latest round of restructuring, which HKA says is “imperative to transform…into a leaner and more efficient organisation”, will also see staff numbers cut further. HKA says it will ground all A320s for one year from July. Cirium fleets data indicates that the carrier has a fleet of 11 A320s, of which 10 are in storage. “In view of the low travel demand in the foreseeable year, our active fleet will comprise of around eight A330 aircraft to support our belly cargo operation and limited passenger services,” the carrier, partially owned by now-bankrupt Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, discloses.
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S'pore and Australia PMs agree to work towards a travel bubble, with students to pilot arrangement

Singapore and Australia will work towards an air travel bubble and both nations will lay the groundwork for resuming two-way travel in a safe and calibrated manner, said the prime ministers of both countries on Thursday. Both prime ministers expressed their hope that Singapore students in Australia would be the first to get the opportunity to travel from this arrangement so that they can continue their studies, which have been disrupted by Covid-19 travel restrictions. They also said that such a move involving students could be a good opportunity to test the systems, before widening such travel arrangements. They were speaking to reporters after PM Lee Hsien Loong met his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday at the Istana for the sixth Australia-Singapore Annual Leaders' Meeting. This is the first official visit by a foreign leader to Singapore since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Morrison's second stop after New Zealand last month. At a joint press conference after their meeting, Lee said they discussed the fight against Covid-19 and resuming travel between the two countries. "We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready," he said.
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Yemen Houthis gear up for Sanaa airport reopening, sources say

Yemen's Houthi administration has started renovating Sanaa airport, two industry sources said, as the group that controls most of northern Yemen prepares for a possible reopening of the facility under UN-led peace efforts. A Saudi Arabian-led coalition has controlled Yemen's air space since 2015, when the alliance intervened against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that ousted the internationally recognised government from the capital, Sanaa. The coalition's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it had agreed to reopen air space and allow the airport to resume regular operations. The industry sources said that construction work had begun in some parts of the airport, which has been closed since 2015 with the exception of UN flights. It has been targeted dozens of times by coalition air strikes over the last six years. The military alliance says the facility is used for arms smuggling, something the Houthis deny.
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SpaceX’s Starlink wants to provide internet to airplanes in the near future, VP says

SpaceX is “in talks with several” airlines to use its Starlink satellite internet network to provide travelers with inflight Wi-Fi, the leader of the company’s project said on Wednesday. “We have our own aviation product in development ... we’ve already done some demonstrations to date and [are] looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future,” SpaceX vice president Jonathan Hofeller said during a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit. Hofeller did not give a timeline for when Starlink will begin inflight services, saying that an announcement is coming “hopefully sooner rather than later.” Airlines work with satellite broadband providers for inflight Wi-Fi, with Viasat and Intelsat – the latter of which purchased Gogo’s commercial aviation business – two such companies that add connectivity on flights by airlines including Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and United. But, while existing services use satellites in distant orbits, Starlink satellites orbit closer to the Earth and could potentially boost the speeds that passengers see inflight. Hofeller added that Starlink “provides a global mesh,” so that “airlines are flying underneath that global mesh have connectivity anywhere they go.” “Passengers and customers want a great experience that [geosynchronous satellite] systems simply cannot provide,” Hofeller said.
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Flying taxis could poach passengers from planes, Avolon says

Airbus and Boeing watch out - one of the world’s largest aircraft owners says passenger planes could see their wings clipped by the rapid spread of flying taxi startups. Commercial air travel already faces competition from high-speed trains in parts of the world. But the head of Irish aircraft leasing firm Avolon said competition would shift skywards as it invested up to $2 billion in aerial shuttles. Avolon is among the launch customers for up to 1,000 electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVOTL) aircraft being developed by Britain’s Vertical Aerospace, which plans to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm. German air shuttle startup Lilium said in March it would float on the US stock market via a similar process. The deals reflect growing interest in battery-powered aircraft that can take off and land vertically, offering a new way for travellers to beat traffic and hop between cities. Vertical’s VA-X4 has a range of 120 miles but that could be extended further, Avolon CE Domhnal Slattery said late Thursday.
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