General Industry

Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Airline, Aviation And Travel News

By Dave Simpson
Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Airline, Aviation And Travel News

Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of airline, aviation and travel news.

Wizz Air CEO Says Business Class Flying Bad For Environment

The boss of Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air attacked the sustainability credentials of traditional airlines like Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, saying business class flying was bad for the environment.

The carbon emissions of airlines has been thrown into the spotlight since travel restarted after the pandemic and as worries over climate change grow.

Wizz Air's Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi told the CAPA industry conference online that there was no place for business class on short-haul flights.

"Why do we have to fly business class, especially on short haul? A business passenger occupies a lot more space therefore the environmental footprint of your passenger is much greater," he said on Wednesday November 10.


The comments came as world leaders gathered on Wednesday at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, where a number of announcements related to the greening of transportation were expected.

They also opened a new front in the battle between newer low-cost carriers and older more traditional airlines over tackling the environmental burden.

Legacy airline leaders including Lufthansa's boss Carsten Spohr have criticised low-cost carriers for offering what they describe as unrealistically low fares to stimulate travel at the expense of the environment.

Budget airlines like Wizz only offer one class of flying, while full-service airlines like Lufthansa offer different classes with more space for those willing to pay more.

Varadi said sustainability meant change in future: "I think that will require some of the airlines to fundamentally rethink how they are doing business and their business approach."


British low cost airline easyJet said it planned to present further details of its net-zero roadmap in the coming months after committing to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

British Airways-owner IAG agreed to purchase 220,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Velocys over 10 years, as part of its goal of using 10% SAF by 2030.








IATA Says Airlines Likely To Beat Interim Sustainable-Fuel Goal

Airlines will likely beat an interim industry goal of around 5% sustainable aviation fuel consumption by 2030 so long as energy companies boost production, the head of a global airline industry association of airlines said on Wednesday November 10.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents nearly 300 airlines, last month released its strategy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including a progressive increase in sustainable aviation fuel use.

Under the plan, airlines have committed to significantly increasing the use of bio-based fuel from 2% of fuel consumption in 2025 to 65% in 2050, including a stepping stone of 5% in 2030.


Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised sustainable aviation fuel targets as "pathetic".

But IATA Director General Willie Walsh said he expected airlines would beat their interim 2030 target of 5.2%, citing some airlines who have set out higher goals.

"Probably it stems from his view that we should be able to do better, we should be more ambitious, and generally I think we will," Walsh said in reference to Johnson's comments.

His remarks coincided with a transport debate at the United Nations' climate conference in Glasgow.

The aviation industry, which accounts for some 3% of global carbon emissions, is considered one of the toughest sectors to tackle due to a lack of alternative technologies to jet-fuelled engines. It plans to bridge the gap with bio-based fuels.


Walsh said there was "no question" airlines would be using sustainable fuel today if it were as available as conventional jet fuel, and urged oil companies to increase production.

"There's no point mandating airlines to use it when it isn't there for us to use."

He cautioned that passengers would have to accept that high usage of sustainable fuel will mean higher fares so long as it is sold by oil companies at a premium to conventional jet fuel.

Produced from waste cooking oil, plants and animal fats, sustainable aviation fuel could cut up to 80% of aviation emissions, Shell has said.

Walsh also said on Wednesday November 10 high oil prices could delay airlines' efforts to restore balance sheets that have been impacted by the pandemic.

Airlines Chief Says High Oil Prices To Delay Debt Reduction

High oil prices could delay efforts by airlines to restore balance sheets weakened by the pandemic, but the lifeline of bookings made well in advance is picking up as markets reopen.

Crude prices have risen 66% so far this year as economies exit lockdown and supplies remain tight.

"I think it's going to be tougher, but I don't see that airlines can avoid that. They will have to strengthen their balance sheets," Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told Reuters.

"For some airlines it will take time, and a higher oil price probably does slow down the recovery period," he said.

Airlines are grappling with $651 billion in debt, up $220 billion since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to IATA, which represents almost 300 carriers.

Labour shortages are also a concern and represent a real risk for the first time in decades, Walsh added.

Gaps range from pilots to ramp workers, he said, adding one airline had been forced to increase hourly pay by more than 50%.

On the positive side, forward bookings are increasing and stretch up to a year ahead as travel restrictions are lifted. That marks a respite for airlines recently forced to rely on last-minute bookings as travellers waited for new COVID rules.

"It hasn't returned to the same pattern, but people are now confident in saying 'I am going to start booking for next summer and beyond'," Walsh said in an interview.

Bookings snapped back on the crucial transatlantic market when the United States announced the lifting of COVID-related travel restrictions, which led to a reopening from Monday November 8.

"It is very clear that when restrictions are removed or relaxed, there is an immediate response - and it is immediate: the transatlantic spike was almost to the second," Walsh said.

Walsh, a veteran of the world's biggest international travel market as the former boss of British Airways and its parent IAG , said the bounce-back in U.S.-bound transatlantic travel would prompt carriers to offer significant extra seats.

But he played down the risk of the airline industry lurching into an economically damaging Atlantic capacity war.

"I don’t think they will suffer economically because what you have seen is fantastic demand," Walsh said, adding demand had proved robust between 2011 and its 2019 pre-crisis peak.

"I expect when we look back on this period we will see a very significant uptick in travel across the Atlantic from Europe," he added.

Still, airlines worldwide must cope with the costs of bringing planes out of storage or accepting new ones and in some cases hiring to be able to take advantage of the rebound, making the start of the recovery a risky time for the industry.

"For many the risk is still ahead," Walsh said.

American Airlines Pilot Union Rejects Holiday Pay Proposal - Memo

American Airlines pilot union has rejected the company's offer of as much as double pay for working during the holidays, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters on Wednesday November 10.

The U.S. airline on Tuesday November 9 offered bonuses and higher pay of up to 300% to all employees working during the holidays.

With its latest offer, American Airlines was trying to prevent more disruptions after it had to cancel over 2,300 flights earlier this month due to weather and staffing-led disruptions.

U.S. airlines have been scrambling to hire more pilots and flight attendants as they prepare to fly more people after the country opened its borders to vaccinated foreigners.

In a memo to pilots, American Airlines said it was disappointed with the Allied Pilots Association's decision and would continue to work with the union.

The union said its board unanimously rejected American Airlines' offer, preferring to seek "meaningful permanent improvements in a new collective bargaining agreement".

Pilots would have been eligible for a premium pay of 50% over normal hourly pay for flying on 19 peak days during November and December, American executives Kimball Stone and Chip Long said in the memo.

Pilots could have also picked up double pay for open holiday trips not assigned to a pilot.

Shares of American were down 1.5% in early trade on Wednesday November 10.

Airlines Aim For Climate Neutral Travel Take-Off, Here's How

Launching a 300-ton plane full of people into the sky and propelling it at 500 miles (805 km) an hour requires a lot of energy. So, taking off without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will take some doing.

The airline industry, responsible for nearly 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, has pledged to hit net zero by 2050 to help curb global warming.

But with travel demand likely to add to the 100,000 or so flights daily, some worry they could struggle with that goal.

Airlines say they are optimistic. Here are some of the strategies they are looking at:

The airline industry believes its quickest path to net-zero is replacing jet fuel with “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) made from renewable sources, such as plants or used cooking oil.

In theory, SAF can cut flight emissions by around 80%, depending on how it is made.

But SAF is not widely available because of cost. The United States and other countries are considering subsidies to bring prices down and supplies up. In the meantime, some airlines are blending small amounts into their fuel.

There are other concerns, including whether planes can run properly on pure SAF, as opposed to a mix. Engines designed for petroleum-based fuel rely on its oily qualities to lubricate internal parts and protect gaskets and seals. It is unclear if SAF offers that effect on its own.

Boeing is studying the issue and has committed to ensuring its planes are certified for 100% SAF by 2030.

Even if SAF can replace petroleum fuel completely, it still only reduces emissions by 80% at best.

The rest could be written off with carbon offsets - financial instruments that allow an emitter to pay someone else to cut emissions.

Offset credits are generated by investing in clean energy projects, planting trees, or supporting other types of efforts that keep emissions from the atmosphere. Airlines and other industries are already making these investments.

But scientific uncertainty as well as a lack of transparency and international quality standards mean it is impossible to be sure those using offsets are cutting the promised emissions.

Negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow are trying to solve the issue by agreeing on standards for government-run carbon markets, which would likely then inform rules for voluntary ones. But delegates are not sure a deal can be struck.

United Airlines has shunned carbon offsets, which its CEO Scott Kirby calls the "the height of greenwashing".

Instead, UA is betting on direct air capture (DAC), a technology still in development that would suck carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere and store it underground.

The U.S. airline is a "small minority" partner in 1PointFive Inc's project in Texas, which hopes to become the world's first commercial direct air capture facility with a capacity to remove one million tons of CO2 from the air annually.

The technology has yet to be proven up to scale. And it's expensive, costing hundreds of dollars to capture just one ton of CO2. Several previous carbon capture and storage (CCS) efforts have failed.

Kirby said he thinks the 1PointFive project will work, but isn't sure if it will be a cost-effective option.

Other options being studied include whether battery capacity can be scaled up to power planes, and whether hydrogen fuel made with renewable power can be produced in the quantities needed.

The technologies are still far from commercial use, with batteries heavy and hydrogen fuel still unproven in planes.

Rolls-Royce held a 15-minute test flight of a small electric plane in September, calling it a "milestone on the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation".

The engine-maker said it expects a market for electric "flying taxis" for short distances within a few years, while longer flights would probably need other technologies.

As for hydrogen, Airbus says it will develop the world's first commercial aircraft fuelled by the gas by 2035.

UN Climate Summit Lands Pledges To Slash Emissions From Cars, Planes And Ships

Automakers, airlines and governments unveiled a raft of pledges at the U.N. climate summit on Wednesday November 10 to slash greenhouse gas emissions from global transport, albeit with some conspicuous absences.

Driving, flying and shipping contribute nearly a quarter of the world’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions, making transport a valuable target in the effort to fight climate change.

U.S. car makers Ford and General Motors and Germany's Daimler were among a group that committed to phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2040, accelerating a shift towards electric motors from the internal combustion engines that they pioneered over a century ago. The world's second most populous country, India, joined the pledge.

But in a sign of the challenges of shifting to zero emissions, the world's top two car makers, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG, did not sign up. Nor did China, the United States and Germany, all major vehicle markets.

Volkswagen has committed to having a CO2-neutral fleet globally by 2050.

Toyota has been making petroleum/electric hybrid vehicles for more than two decades, but its plans to roll out pure electric vehicles are more modest than those of Ford or GM.

Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace Germany said the absence of the major economies and producers was "gravely concerning". The European Union executive proposed to the 27 member states, including Germany, in July that they ban the sale of combustion vehicles from 2035, but the plan has yet to be signed off.

A transition to electric vehicles requires billions of dollars of investment in charging infrastructure, and adds to the load on grids already struggling with creaking infrastructure and the transition to renewables such as wind and solar power.

In some places, they could also be more polluting than combustion models. In Poland and Kosovo, for instance, they generate more carbon emissions than petroleum engines because the local grids are so reliant on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, according to the consultancy Radiant Energy Group.

Major U.S. airlines, meanwhile, are joining an effort to speed the development and use of so-called sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to decrease emissions in air transport.

SAF is made from renewable sources such as plants and used cooking oil and can reduce emissions by as much as 80%, but is more expensive than petroleum-based jet fuel, and not available in the large quantities required.

Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and's aviation unit Amazon Air are among the companies joining the effort to help drive greater SAF production, price cuts and technological advances.

On Tuesday November 9, the United States said that it was setting a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its aviation sector by 2050, in line with a global pledge to do so by the International Air Transport Association.

IATA's director general, Willie Walsh, said he expected airlines to beat an interim goal of meeting 5.2% of their needs with sustainable fuel by 2030, provided that energy companies increased their output.

Air travel accounts for nearly 3% of global emissions, a figure that researchers say could grow rapidly as demand for flights increases.

Environmental groups have expressed concern that potential emissions cuts from SAF are overstated, and have been pressing for measures to reduce air travel or develop zero-emissions technology for planes, currently a distant prospect.

Nineteen countries including Britain and the United States, meanwhile, said they had agreed to establish half a dozen "green shipping corridors" with zero emissions by 2050.

The declaration did not specify how that would be achieved, saying only that it would require partnerships between ports and operators to accelerate the decarbonisation of the sector and its fuel supply.

About 90% of the world's traded goods travel by sea, and shipping also accounts for about 3% of global emissions.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the declaration "a big step forward ... for collective action".

He said that the United States was urging the International Maritime Organisation to adopt a goal of zero emissions for all international shipping by 2050.

U.S. Airlines And Amazon Join Push To Reduce Aircraft Emissions

Major U.S. airlines and's aviation unit are joining an effort to speed development and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to decrease emissions in air transport.

The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) said Amazon Air, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines are joining the effort, which includes major corporate airline customers, to help drive greater SAF production, price cuts and technological advancements.

The Environmental Defense Fund and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) launched the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) in April with companies including Boeing, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Netflix to support increased market demand for SAFs.

At the climate talks in Glasgow, RMI managing director Bryan Fisher said aviation emissions would be equivalent to the sixth largest country's total emissions. Fisher said SAF is "almost largely 100%" of the solution through 2030 "and still a very large part" through 2050 but SAF is just 0.1% of jet fuel consumed today.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will represent the United States as a coalition of countries led by Britain are expected to announce the "International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration," Reuters reported, citing sources.

Buttigieg on Wednesday November 10 praised SABA and cited "the importance of partnerships between the public and private sector" in cutting aviation emissions.

On Tuesday November 9, the United States said it was setting a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. aviation sector by 2050.

The White House said in September it was targeting 20% lower aviation emissions by 2030. Major U.S. airlines backed a voluntary industry target of three billion gallons of SAF use in 2030.

Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, said the new "Aviators Group" within SABA is "focused on tangible steps, at scale, to accelerate progress."

SABA also said Facebook parent Meta is joining.

"Making sustainable travel a reality will require extensive investment in low-carbon technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel by our entire industry,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.

Nearly 2.5% of global emissions are a result of air travel.

Boeing To Compensate Victims In Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX Crash

Boeing Co agreed on Wednesday November 10 to acknowledge liability for compensatory damages in lawsuits filed by families of the 157 people killed in the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

As a result of the agreement between Boeing and the families, lawyers for the victims will not seek punitive damages and Boeing will not challenge the lawsuits being filed in Illinois.

"Boeing is committed to ensuring that all families who lost loved ones in the accidents are fully and fairly compensated for their loss," the planemaker said in a statement on Wednesday. "By accepting responsibility, Boeing’s agreement with the families allows the parties to focus their efforts on determining the appropriate compensation for each family."

Lawyers for the victims noted in a statement that Boeing admitted under the agreement "that the 737 MAX had an unsafe condition, and that it will not attempt to blame anyone else" for the crash.

"This is a significant milestone for the families in their pursuit of justice against Boeing, as it will ensure they are all treated equitably and eligible to recover full damages under Illinois law while creating a pathway for them to proceed to a final resolution, whether through settlements or trial," the lawyers said.

They added the compensation "will serve to hold Boeing fully accountable for the deaths of the 157 people who perished."

A judge has set a hearing for Tuesday November 16 on the agreement.

Boeing's best-selling plane was grounded for 20 months after 346 people died in two 737 MAX crashes - in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia in 2019. The plane returned to service after Boeing made significant software and training improvements.

The crashes already have cost Boeing some $20 billion. In January, Boeing agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice including $2.5 billion in fines and compensation stemming from the 737 MAX crashes, including the Lion Air crash in October 2018.

In an interview, U.S. consumer activist Ralph Nader criticized the deal since it will prevent lawyers from questioning current and former Boeing senior executives and pursuing the punitive damage claims. Nader’s niece was among 157 victims.

Under the deal with Boeing, the victims' families also agreed to dismiss claims against Rosemount Aerospace, a company that made sensors for the 737 MAX, and Raytheon Technologies Corp's Rockwell Collins, the parent of Rosemount and a key supplier for the MAX.

ANA Chief Urges Japan To Boost Travel During COVID-19 Lull

Japan's biggest airline, ANA Holdings, has asked the government to ease curbs on overseas visitors, and seeks a revival of domestic tourism subsidies to spur travel as pandemic infections fall, its chief executive said on Thursday November 11.

Coronavirus immigration curbs in Japan have led to a drop of about 95% in the number of passengers on international flights, but daily infections have dropped to fewer than 200 this month, from an August peak of more than 20,000.

"When we are able to make money we should be allowed to," Shinya Katanozaka, chief executive of the carrier that has had seven consecutive quarters of losses, told Reuters in an interview.

"It will give us the strength to weather things in the future."

Last December, as COVID-19 infections began to rise, Japan halted a programme of subsidies for hotels and travel tickets that had helped ANA and rival Japan Airlines Co. boost passenger numbers on domestic flights.

The government could resume travel subsidies as soon as next month and ease entry limits for overseas visitors to 3,500 a day, Katanozaka said.

Last month, ANA increased its operating loss forecast for the year to March 31 more than four times, to 125 billion yen ($1.11 billion), and said it would cut worker headcount by a fifth over five years.

Etihad Strategy Focussed On Fleet Of Boeing 787, Airbus A350s, CEO Says

Etihad Airways' Chief Executive Tony Douglas said on Thursday November 11 the Abu Dhabi carrier's strategy was now focussed around its fleet of Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners jets.

Tony Douglas was speaking on panel at a gathering of Arab airline in the Qatar capital Doha.

Russia's Aeroflot Responds To Sanctions Report, Denies Flying Migrants To Belarus

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot on Thursday November 11 denied any involvement in organising mass transportation of migrants to Belarus, responding to a news report that it could face EU sanctions over the crisis on the Belarus-Poland border.

"The information about Aeroflot's participation or assistance in the organisation of mass transportation of migrants to the territory of the Republic of Belarus is untrue," the company said in a statement.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday November 10 that the EU was discussing targeting Aeroflot as part of a new sanctions package.

Aeroflot shares were down 1.5% by 0922 GMT on Thursday November 11.

"Information about the threat of imposing sanctions may have a material negative impact on the operating and financial activities of the company, and its capitalization," the airline said.

"Aeroflot intends to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders in all possible legal ways, including the right to defend the interests of the company in court."

Singapore Airlines' Q2 Loss Narrows On Cost Cuts, Air Travel Pick-Up

Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) said on Thursday November 11 market conditions were improving after it reported a narrower second-quarter loss due to cost-cutting efforts, record cargo revenue and an improvement in passenger numbers from a low base.

The net loss of S$427.6 million ($315.6 million) for the three months to Sept. 30 was down from a record S$2.34 billion loss a year earlier, when COVID restrictions hammered air travel and the airline took large impairment charges on older planes.

It posted a net profit of S$94.5 million in the September quarter of 2019.

Revenue doubled in the second quarter to S$1.53 billion due to strong cargo demand and a four-fold rise in passenger numbers from a very low base.

The airline said monthly operating cashflows were near breakeven levels and it expected passenger capacity to reach 43% of pre-pandemic levels by December, serving half of its previous destinations.

In September, passenger capacity reached around 32% of pre-pandemic levels, though on average it filled only 20% of the seats on its planes.

Singapore has recently opened vaccinated travel lanes without quarantine with more than a dozen countries including Britain, the United States, Germany, Australia and South Korea.

Neighbouring Malaysia will be added to the list from Nov. 29, allowing for more flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, one of the world's busiest international routes before the pandemic.

The airline will restart Singapore-London flights on its flagship Airbus SE A380 super-jumbos on Nov. 18 and will fly them to Sydney from Dec. 1.

SIA, like Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd , has no domestic market and has been hard-hit by border closures.

Singapore has capped daily arrivals for the vaccinated travel lanes, meaning the allowable traffic is in the single-digit percentages of pre-pandemic passenger numbers.

But it is an encouraging sign for travel in the Asia-Pacific region, which had had some of the world's toughest border controls during the pandemic.

SIA's management team held a results briefing for analysts and media on Friday November 12.

Green Investors Say Transportation Pledges Hinge On Tech Advances

Environmentally minded investors praised carbon-cutting pledges by major transportation companies and governments announced at the U.N. climate summit on Wednesday November 10 but said the goals could be pipe dreams without big advances in technologies like vehicle batteries and aviation fuel.

"It is an important commitment but it has to be accompanied by the commitment of resources to fund the transition and create products," said Anthony Sassine, senior investment strategist for KraneShares. Its funds include the Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF focused on electric vehicles.

For instance, Sassine noted major U.S. carmakers Ford and General Motors do not yet have electric versions of their best-selling pickup trucks on the market.

Still, both companies were among those signing on to a raft of pledges at summit in Glasgow, Scotland to slash greenhouse gas emissions from global transportation.

Companies agreed to work toward making all new cars and vans zero-emission by 2035 or sooner in leading markets, and to promote the development and use of sustainable aviation fuels, among other things.

Marcela Pinilla, director of sustainable investing for Zevin Asset Management, said both areas will require more development.

For instance Zevin owns shares of shipper United Parcel Service, whose aircraft would need more access to sustainable fuel currently in limited supply. Rivals like Fedex Corp face similar restrictions, she said, as do airlines.

"Packaged transit companies are in the same sustainability conundrum that passenger airlines are in," she said.

Lauren Compere, managing director at Boston Common Asset Management, praised the pledges but will watch how companies back them in areas like research & development spending.

"Companies will struggle to achieve these commitments" unless they collaborate on technology and receive government help on regulations and infrastructure spending, she said.

The pledges mark just part of the broad agenda of tasks facing the U.N. conference, amid criticism governments aren't moving quickly enough.

Driving, flying and shipping contribute nearly a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions from fuel consumption, according to watchdog International Energy Agency. Obstacles to cutting emissions include growing demand for same-day deliveries and consumer preferences for heavier vehicles, the agency said.

Tony Tursich and Jim Madden, who co-head the Calamos Investments Sustainable Equity Team, said companies that did not sign the pledge should not necessarily be discounted, since Volkswagen AG, for one, still spends heavily on electric vehicles. Key to the automaker efforts will be other investments in things like public charging stations, they said via e-mail.

"Without these investments, the municipal and corporate commitments...cannot be met," they said.

Sudhir Roc-Sennett, Head of ESG for Vontobel Quality Growth, said many of the pledges on Wednesday came from consumer-facing brands like rideshare company Uber Technologies Inc and homegoods maker Unilelver PLC looking to show support for addressing climate change, a popular cause.

"The public has a great awareness of climate change and they're frightened of it. So it makes sense that Uber and others would want to offer electric vehicle" and similar products, Roc-Sennett said.


Ariana Afghan Airlines Begins Flights From Kabul To Islamabad

Ariana Afghan Airlines is beginning regular twice-weekly services from Kabul to Islamabad, the state-owned operator said on Thursday November 11, joining Kam Air which has begun flying five times a week between the two cities.

Ariana, which began regular services to Dubai this week, will operate flights between Kabul and Islamabad on Thursdays and Mondays, charging $400 from Kabul and $100 from Islamabad.

Earlier this week, privately owned Kam Air started services five times a week to Islamabad as international air traffic gradually reopens following the Taliban's seizure of power in Kabul in August.

The announcement from Ariana came as the Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was visiting Islamabad for talks that are expected to cover issues including aviation links between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Some charter services have been flying to Kabul since the Taliban takeover but normally scheduled commercial flights had been suspended.

With an economy in deep crisis and continuing concerns about Afghanistan's future under the Taliban, there has been huge demand from people wishing to leave Afghanistan, made worse by repeated problems at land border crossings into Pakistan.

Pakistan International Airlines suspended its charter service to Kabul from Islamabad last month, citing interference from Taliban authorities, who had warned the airline it should cut its ticket prices.

Qatar Airways Says Profitable, To Keep Expanding

Qatar Airways is profitable and plans to keep expanding, Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said on Thursday November 11.

It plans to return to a pre-crisis network of 180 destinations and then resume prior expansion, he told a news conference. The airline says it has over 140 destinations now.

However, Qatar Airways has been "damaged" by the grounding of some A350 jets in a dispute with Airbus, he said after a meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organization in Doha. The airline said in August it had taken 13 A350s out of service because of problems with the surface of the fuselage.

U.S. Vacations In Cuba Still Come With Hangovers From Trump's Sanctions

Cuba opens its borders next week signalling new opportunity for pandemic-weary travellers and the island's tourism industry, but for U.S. citizens getting there requires jumping through hoops like never before, according to the heads of eight U.S. tour agencies.

U.S. President Donald Trump ended cruise ship dockings, reduced flights to Havana and eliminated them altogether to the outlying provinces. His administration declared most hotels, bus and other Cuban tour services off limits because they were owned by the military, and made financial transactions more difficult in general, measures that remain in place under President Joe Biden.

"U.S. obstacles are the most significant in our more than 22 years of doing business in Cuba," said Michael Zuccato, head of Cuba Travel Services.

Tensions between Washington and Havana are on the rise ahead of protests planned by dissidents on the island for Nov. 15, the same day Cuba reopens its borders to international visitors.

"The challenges seem endless right now. Between Trump, the pandemic and now Biden," said Mayra Alonso, president of Marazul Tours. She said walking the tightrope between U.S. and Cuban regulations "keeps it interesting."

Zuccato, like the others, said booking hotels and transferring funds to the Caribbean island in particular had become major headaches for those planning trips to Cuba from the United States.

Many tour operators had hoped that Biden would make good on campaign promises and reduce hurdles to visiting the Caribbean island, a popular destination that boasts a rich culture, white sand beaches and historic buildings.

"U.S. sanctions increased by Trump and maintained by the Biden administration are a great disappointment," Collin Laverty, head of Cuban Educational Travel, said.

Rising political tensions between the long-term rivals ahead of next week's planned protests do not help, the tour operators said.

Despite the escalating rhetoric, Cuba, which depends on tourism, continues to welcome all U.S. citizens to vacation on the island, Transportation Minister Eduardo Rodriguez told reporters last week.

"Today the United States has four weekly flights to Havana, and we have increased this to 147 per week, including 77 to Havana," he said.

U.S. airlines have announced more flights to Havana beginning next week, with an eye toward Cuban-Americans traveling home over the holidays.

The Biden administration has given no indication it plans to allow flights to the provinces, however.

Tom Popper, founder and former president of insightCuba and CEO of 82° West Consultants, a Cuba business consulting firm, said despite strict travel restrictions to the neighbouring island nation, Americans can still go there legally.

"Typically, the U.S. market sees Cuba as a binary choice: either they are permitted to travel to Cuba or they are not, which depends on the most recent actions by the sitting U.S. president," he said.

Popper explained travel to Cuba is allowed under 12 categories including the Support for the Cuban People category, used by most travellers – journalistic activities, and visiting relatives.

He said many tour operators and travel advisers design trips that are compliant with U.S. regulations.

Travel boomed during the detente begun by former U.S. President Barack Obama who loosened restrictions and even took his own family there during an historic visit in 2016.

The Trump administration reversed Obama's measures and added new restrictions, and then Cuba closed its borders during much of the pandemic.

During 2018 and 2019, some 500,000 Cuban Americans visited their homeland each year, according to the Cuban government.

Travel by non-Cuban Americans, however, plunged from 498,538 in 2018 when the Trump administration began to impose new sanctions to just 58,147 in 2020 when pandemic lockdowns began, the government said.

Boeing May Win Order For Up To 80 737 Max Jets From India's Akasa - Bloomberg News

Boeing Co may win an order as early as this weekend for about 70 to 80 737 MAX jets from Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala's startup Akasa Air, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday November 11, citing people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced during the Dubai Airshow, which begins on Nov. 14, the report said.

News of the potential order comes after Indian authorities in August cleared Boeing's best-selling jet to fly, ending its regulatory grounding in a key travel market for planemakers.

Reuters had reported in September that Boeing was close to winning an order for some 70 to 100 737 MAX jets from Akasa, pending separate talks on a long-term engine service deal.

Akasa is set to launch the country's latest ultra-low cost carrier after securing initial clearance from India's civil aviation ministry last month.

Boeing shares were up 1.1% in afternoon trading on Thursday November 12.

"We always seek opportunities and talk with current and potential customers about how we can best support their fleet and operational needs," Boeing said in a statement.

Akasa did not respond to a request for comment.

Unified Approach Needed To Deal With COVID-19, Says AirAsia Group CEO

Governments around the world need to look at unified approaches to managing COVID-19, the Group Chief Executive of Malaysian budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd Tony Fernandes said at the APEC CEO Summit.

Fernandes said leaders in the Asia-Pacific region were being "over-sensitive" with COVID-19 and needed to be braver and more standardised in dealing with the pandemic.



Singapore Airlines Has 79% Of Fleet Ready To Use On Any Demand Increase

Singapore Airlines Ltd has 79% of its fleet and the vast majority of pilots and cabin crew active so that it can quickly capitalise on any increase in demand, the airline's chief executive said on Friday November 12.

"We have 92% of pilots and 86% of cabin crew now back with us," he told analysts and media. "At the level we are operating now, which is 37% of pre-COVID capacity, going up to 43% in December, we are quite comfortable with this return rate."

The airline said on Thursday November 11 market conditions were improving after it reported a narrower second-quarter loss due to cost-cutting efforts, record cargo revenue and an improvement in passenger numbers from a low base.

Singapore has recently opened vaccinated travel lanes without quarantine with more than a dozen countries including Britain, the United States, Germany, Australia and South Korea.

"A China opening is not likely to happen at the moment, but we are ready to capitalise on any other opportunities that come our way," Goh said.

Neighbouring Malaysia will be added to the list from Nov. 29, allowing for more flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, one of the world's busiest international routes before the pandemic.

Singapore has capped daily arrivals for the vaccinated travel lanes, meaning the allowable traffic is in the single-digit percentages of pre-pandemic passenger numbers.

But it is an encouraging sign for travel in the Asia-Pacific region, which had had some of the world's toughest border controls during the pandemic.

Malaysia's AirAsia X Creditors Agree Restructuring, Airbus Orders Cut

AirAsia X (AAX) creditors have agreed to a restructuring that will pay just 0.5% of debt owed and end its existing contracts, the Malaysian long-haul low-cost airline said on Friday November 15.

The airline has also reached a deal with its largest creditor, Airbus to reduce a multi-billion dollar order for 78 A330neo widebody planes and 30 A321XLR narrowbodies. AAX had been Airbus' biggest customer for the A330neo.

AAX now plans to take 15 A330neos and 20 A321XLRs, an airline spokesperson said.

"We confirm that we have agreed to reduce the airline's outstanding orders," an Airbus spokesperson said. "This is another example of how we have worked with customers to adapt to the impact of the pandemic."

AAX said 99% of creditors across three groups had voted in favour of its plan to restructure 33.65 billion ringgit ($8.1 billion) of liabilities to avoid liquidation.

Around half was owed to Airbus for terminating airplane orders, a 127-page explanatory statement for the creditors meeting seen by Reuters showed.

AAX said the results will be presented for court approval in the coming weeks after which it will start a recapitalisation, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

The airline said its cost base will be significantly below that of regional competitors after the restructuring.

AAX shares closed 25% higher on Friday November 12.

Last month, the airline warned of liquidation if creditors did not agree to the plan, which will be followed by a 500 million ringgit equity raising.

It is one of many carriers in the Asia-Pacific region to have entered a court-overseen debt restructuring to survive the pandemic. Others include Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Australia, Thai Airways and Philippine Airlines.

The first class of AAX creditors included airports, financial institutions and maintenance providers, the explanatory statement shows.

The second class included engine suppliers, lessors, trade creditors, travel agents and passengers, the document said, while Airbus was in the third class by itself.

AAX also said it was in negotiations with lessors of 29 planes and certain other creditors on commercial terms for continued or future business relationships.

The 0.5% of debt owed to each creditor will be paid from operating cash flow one year after the restructuring goes into effect, the airline said in the document.

AAX also proposed that if it were to garner more than 300 million ringgit in annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, lease rentals and restructuring costs during its 2023-2026 financial years, all creditors except Airbus would be entitled to 20% of those earnings.

Turkish Airlines Agrees To Limit Migrant Flights To Belarus, EU Says

Turkish Airlines, one of the main international carriers flying to Minsk, has agreed to suspend one-way ticket sales for Middle Eastern migrants seeking to reach Europe via Belarus, the European Union's executive said on Friday November 15.

Iraqi Airlines has also said it will not fly to Minsk, the Commission said, after top EU officials began talks with Iraq, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Turkey to try to stop migrants being encouraged by Belarus to come to the EU.

"These contacts are already showing fruit," a Commission spokesperson said. "Iraqi Airlines has confirmed that it will not resume flights to Minsk, and Turkish Airlines will also suspend sales of one way tickets to Minsk from Turkey."

According to the official Twitter account of the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority, a decision was taken to resolve "the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus."

It said the decision to deny tickets and boarding was "until further notice."

The EU has been in talks with international carriers such as Turkish Airlines to urge them to suspend one-way tickets to Minsk, from where the bloc says migrants are transported to the Polish border as means to pressure the EU.

Belarus denies any wrongdoing.

Brussels and Minsk have been at loggerheads since the EU imposed sanctions in response to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's crackdown on protesters.

A Commission official said on Friday November 15 that there would be more sanctions against Minsk next week.

German Ministries Welcome Lufthansa's Early Bailout Aid Repayment

Germany's finance and economy ministries on Friday November 12 welcomed the early repayment by flag carrier Lufthansa of bailout aid it received during the coronavirus crisis.

The news showed Germany's federal government made the right decision when it helped Europe's largest airline group during the most difficult situation in its history, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told a news conference.

"The whole thing faced a lot of criticism at the time. Many believed the government would never see the funds again. In the end, Lufthansa would become a state company," Altmaier said.

"All of these fears, I would like to make this very clear again today, have not materialised. Lufthansa made an effort. It used the state money to get through the most difficult months of the pandemic," he said.

Lufthansa Group was saved from bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic by Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium with 9 billion euros ($10.30 billion) in financial support approved by the European Commission in June 2020.

Lufthansa only drew 3.8 billion euros out of that amount and on Friday, it said it had repaid the last 1 billion euros.

"It shows it was important and right for the state to help the company through difficult times and thereby secure thousands of jobs," Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is on course to become Germany's next chancellor, said in a statement.

Rising demand for travel, downsizing and the return of the market's confidence in the airline helped it repay the loans faster than expected, Lufthansa said.

"On behalf of all Lufthansa employees, I would like to thank the German government and the German taxpayers," said Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.

The ministries said the country's pandemic stabilisation fund's remaining stake of approximately 14% in Lufthansa would be sold by October 2023 at the latest.

Europe Becomes COVID-19's Epicentre Again, Some Countries Look At Fresh Curbs

Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.

Europe accounts for more than half of the average 7-day infections globally and about half of latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally, the highest levels since April last year when the virus was at its initial peak in Italy.

Governments and companies are worried the prolonged pandemic will derail a fragile economic recovery. Countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic are taking or planning measures to curb the spread.

Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a three-week partial lockdown from Saturday, Western Europe's first since the summer. "The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere," Rutte said in an address on Friday evening.

The fresh concerns over what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described on Friday as "storm clouds" over Europe come as successful inoculation campaigns have plateaued ahead of the winter months and flu season.

About 65% of the population of the European Economic Area (EEA) - which includes the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - have received two doses, according to EU data, but the pace has slowed in recent months.

Take-up in southern European countries is around 80%, but hesitancy has hampered rollout in central and eastern Europe and Russia, leading to outbreaks that could overwhelm healthcare.

Germany, France and the Netherlands are also experiencing a surge in infections, showing the challenge even for governments with high acceptance rates.

To be sure, hospitalisations and deaths are much lower than a year ago and big variations by country in use of vaccines and boosters as well as measures like social distancing make it hard to draw conclusions for the whole region.

But a combination of low vaccine take-up in some parts, waning immunity among those inoculated early and complacency about masks and distancing as governments relaxed curbs over the summer are likely to blame, virologists and public health experts told Reuters.

"If there's one thing to learn from this it's not to take your eye off the ball," said Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School in the UK.

The World Health Organization's report for the week to Nov. 7 showed that Europe, including Russia, was the only region to record a rise in cases, up 7%, while other areas reported declines or stable trends.

Similarly, it reported a 10% increase in deaths, while other regions reported declines.

The measures coming into force in the Netherlands include restaurants and shops ordered to close early and spectators barred from sporting events.

Germany will reintroduce free COVID-19 tests from Saturday, acting health minister Jens Spahn said on Friday. A draft law in Germany would allow for measures such as compulsory face masks and social distancing in public spaces to continue to be enforced until next March.

Austria's government is likely to decide on Sunday to impose a lockdown on people who are not vaccinated, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday.

Most EU countries are deploying extra shots to the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, but expanding vaccination to more of the population should be a priority to avoid steps like lockdown, scientists said.

"The real urgency is to widen the pool of vaccinated people as much as possible," said Carlo Federico Perno, head of microbiology and immunology diagnostics at Rome's Bambino Gesù Hospital.

The EU's medicines regulator is also evaluating the use of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine in 5 to 11-year-olds.

Norway will offer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to everyone aged 18 and older and will give municipalities the option of using digital "corona passes", the government said on Friday. Norway has so far given a third dose only to those aged 65 and older.

From Dec. 1, Italy will also offer the third dose to people over 40.

"This (outbreak) will probably make the EU look at booster doses and say 'we do need them pronto'," said Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton.

Still struggling to ramp up shots, central and eastern European governments have had to take drastic action.

Latvia, one of the least vaccinated countries in the EU, imposed a four-week lockdown in mid-October. Its parliament voted on Friday November 12 to ban lawmakers who refuse vaccination from voting on legislature and participating in discussions.

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia have also tightened restrictions.

Vaccines alone are not the silver bullet to defeat the pandemic in the long term, virologists say.

Several pointed to Israel as an example of good practice: in addition to inoculations, it has reinforced mask wearing and introduced vaccine passports after cases spiked a few months ago.

Measures such as spacing, masks and vaccine mandates for indoor venues are essential, said Antonella Viola, professor of immunology at Italy's University of Padua.

Air Arabia Nears Decision On Major Jet Engine Order - CEO

Middle East low-cost carrier Air Arabia is in talks with engine makers Pratt & Whitney and its current supplier CFM International for a major jet engine order, with a decision to be made by early 2022, its chief executive said.

General Electric and Safran joint-venture CFM is competing against Raytheon-owned Pratt & Whitney to sell around 240-250 engines for 120 Airbus A320neo jets that the airline ordered at the Dubai Airshow two years ago.

Speaking on the eve of this year's event, Air Arabia Chief Executive Adel Ali told Reuters a decision would probably be made within three to four months, although he hoped an engine type could be selected before the end of the year.

"The discussions have been going on for about six months."

CFM is the current engine supplier to the United Arab Emirates-headquartered airline, which operates a fully-owned carrier from UAE's Sharjah and a joint venture from Abu Dhabi.

Air Arabia is due to meet the engine makers at this week's Dubai Airshow, Ali said, although discussions are expected to continue after the five-day aerospace industry event.

The 2019 order for 120 mostly A320neo aircraft but also A321neo and A321XLR variants is more than double its current fleet of about 60 aircraft, with deliveries starting in 2024.

Air Arabia also has joint ventures operating in Egypt and Morocco, and Ali said its recently joint ventures in Pakistan and Armenia would likely start operating the second quarter.


Syria's Cham Wings Airlines Suspends Flights To Minsk Airport

Cham Wings Airlines, a private Syrian airline, has suspended flights to Belarus' Minsk airport due to tensions on the Belarusian-Polish border, the company said in a statement to Reuters on Saturday November 13.

"Since the majority of Cham Wings passengers flying to Minsk are of Syrian nationality ... Cham Wings Airlines has taken the decision to suspend its flights to Minsk National Airport effective today Saturday 13 November," the company added.

Airbus Shaves 20-Year Demand Forecast, Sees Faster Replacements

Airbus shaved its forecast for total commercial airplane demand by 0.5% compared with pre-pandemic projections on Saturday November 13, offset by a brighter outlook for freighters as jetmakers fight for inaugural sales of new cargo planes.

Airbus updated the widely watched forecast on the eve of the Dubai Airshow, where a battered aviation industry is reeling from the loss of two years' growth to COVID-19, while outlining its latest environmental plans amid growing climate pressure.

Airbus said it expected a market total of 39,020 jetliner deliveries in the next 20 years, fractionally lower than the 39,213 it predicted two years ago in its last rolling forecast.

The estimate for small planes like the best-selling A320 was essentially flat at 29,690 units, but the outlook for long-haul jets that traditionally dominate the region fell 3.1%.

The view echoes that of Boeing which in September cut its 20-year delivery forecast by 1% compared to 2019. That tempered greater pessimism seen from Boeing as the crisis peaked in 2020.

Airbus issued slightly weaker forecasts for medium jets - a key battleground that includes its longest-range narrrow-body jet, the A321XLR. Its sales have been causing a headache for Boeing at the top end of its recently troubled 737 MAX range.

After two years of COVID-related travel restrictions, Airbus slashed its forecast for average annual growth in passenger traffic over 20 years to 3.9% from 4.3% in pre-pandemic 2019.

Traffic and airline profits set the pace for plane orders.

"We have lost effectively two years of traffic growth because of the pandemic," Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said.

However, Airbus raised its 20-year delivery forecast for freighters by 2.9% to 880 units and predicted an order soon for a new A350 freighter. Boeing said it is in advanced discussions with potential buyers for its new 777X freighter.

Airbus said a rising share of total airplane deliveries would be to replace jets already in the market rather than to facilitate the recently curbed growth plans of many airlines.

That emphasis reflects expectations that airlines will retire less efficient jets earlier following COVID-19, but also addresses a sensitive point for the industry as some environmental groups target what they see as over-expansion.

Airbus said 39% of deliveries would replace older planes with higher emissions, compared with 36% in an earlier forecast.

Faster retirements worry some suppliers and lessors who fear the economically useful life of jets will fall, forcing them to miss out on service revenues or push up depreciation costs.

Scherer dismissed suppliers' criticism of Airbus' plans to raise output in coming years, saying this would not flood the market but would instead modernise fleets and curb emissions.

COP26 In The Final Hours Of Climate Negotiations

Delegates worked overtime on Saturday November 13 to reach a final deal at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow. Reuters reporters were on the ground delivering the latest updates, scenes and insights during the final hours. All times local (GMT).

8:15 p.m.

After a last-minute drama over the words phase "down" or "out" regarding coal use, the talks ended with a global agreement that aimed to keep alive hopes of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and so maintain a realistic chance of saving the world from catastrophic climate change.

Mixed reviews over the deal rolled in.

“Whether COP26 was a success will only be known some time down the road. The test will be whether Glasgow marks the transition from promises made on paper to turning those promises into reality," said Kaveh Guilanpour, Vice President of International Strategies at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.


7:40 p.m.

COP26 President Alok Sharma looked like he was about to cry.

India's environment minister Bhupender Yadav interrupted the adoption process for the Glasgow pact before it had barely begun, proposing new language in the deal that would request governments "phase down" coal use, rather than phase it out.

Several countries expressed disappointment but said they would still support the deal to ensure the negotiations do not collapse in failure.

Sharma apologized to the plenary for the way the process was handled and choked up as he spoke.


7:23 p.m.

COP26 President Alok Sharma opened the formal plenary. "It is now decision time."


7:04 p.m.

We have a deal. According to China, that is.

Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua gave Reuters the thumbs up when asked on the plenary floor if the Glasgow pact was going to pass. Then he said "we have a deal" through his translator.

He did have a critique, though.

"The voice of developing countries hasn’t been heard enough," he said through his translator.


6:51 p.m.

Samuel Adeoye Adejuwon, a technical adviser on Nigeria's delegation, said his country was aligned with India in its opposition to strong language targeting fossil fuels in the Glasgow pact.

"This argument is about special circumstances. You cannot ask us to phase out the process of development," he told Reuters as delegates milled about on the plenary floor.

He said that the U.S. discussion with China and India about coal was an attempt to find common ground.


6:42 p.m.

Observers at the U.N. climate talks got a bit nervous when representatives of the United States and the EU went into a meeting with their counterparts from China and India to discuss some of the deal's language around phasing out coal.

They came out of the meeting about 30 minutes later.

The meeting, confirmed to Reuters by a member of the Indian delegation, suggested last-minute negotiations were underway as the UK conference hosts pressed urgently for an accord.

Immediately before the meeting, U.S. special envoy John Kerry was overheard by Reuters telling his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua "You’re supposed to be phasing out coal over the next 20 years, you just signed an agreement with us."


5:36 p.m.

"We will reconvene very, very shortly," COP26 President Alok Sharma said, after country delegations finished up their speeches.

Once they reconvene, a vote on the deal is likely.


4:40 p.m.

The United States could see not everyone was happy about the draft deal in front of the U.N. talks in Glasgow.

"If it is a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable," U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry told the plenary. "This has been, I think, a good negotiation."

He spoke after a series of poor and island nations expressed disappointment the draft did not do more to support them.

Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna put it bluntly: “It will be too late for the Maldives.”

India's environment and climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, earlier also blasted the draft deal, saying he disagreed with language requesting countries unwind fossil fuel subsidies.

"How can anyone expect that developing countries can make promises about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when developing countries have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication?" he said.

4:08 p.m.

Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told the plenary her country did not like the deal because of how it dealt with rules governing global carbon markets, but would live with it anyway. "We are concerned that we are leaving this COP with everybody feeling more than a little unhappy," she said.

Lee White, Gabon's Minister of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment, meanwhile, told the plenary he had some unfinished business, regardless of the passage of a deal.

"Before I leave, I need some more reassurance from our developed country partners - and note that I don't say donors - before boarding the electric train leaving the Glasgow COP."


3:58 p.m.

"It's not perfect."

That was the common refrain from poor and small island nations commenting to the plenary about the draft climate deal. Each of them said, however, they would support it.

The low-lying island countries and small economy blocs had been pushing hard for more money from rich nations to help them deal with everything from transitioning to clean energy to recovering from climate-driven disasters.

Marshall Islands climate envoy Tina Stege said the existing deal did not go far enough to do that, but marked progress, and that she would back it because she could not go home to her island with nothing.


3:52 p.m.

Tuvalu's climate envoy Seve Paeniu held up a photo of his three grandchildren and told the plenary he has been thinking of what he can tell them upon his return to the low-lying island nation: "Glasgow has made a promise to secure their future," he said. "That will be the best Christmas gift I could bring back to them."


3:44 p.m.

EU climate chief Frans Timmermans drew a rousing round of applause for his comments to the plenary, in which he asked countries to unite around the deal for the sake of "our children, our grandchildren."

"They will not forgive us if we fail them today," he said.

He opened his comments by saying the conference risked "stumbling in this marathon" a few steps before the finish if country delegations demanded new changes to the texts.


3:30 p.m.

In a potentially positive sign, China negotiator Zhao Yingmin told the plenary that the current draft of the deal is not perfect but that his team has no intention to reopen it.

Representatives of Tanzania and Guinea, meanwhile, said they were disappointed that the draft did not do more to ensure poor, climate-vulnerable nations like theirs were getting adequate financial help to deal with global warming issues.


3:12 p.m.

COP26 President Alok Sharma opened up an informal plenary to take stock of the latest proposals, saying the conference had reached the "moment of truth for the planet, for our children, for our grandchildren".

While differences on the final deal remained, Sharma appeared to be saying time was up on negotiations and that an accord needed to be finalized.


2:40 p.m.

In the minutes before the official plenary was set to start, U.S. special envoy John Kerry stood with his counterpart from China, Xie Zhenhua, holding a paper and going over it line by line together.

Days earlier, the two men surprised the summit with a U.S.-China joint declaration in which China agreed to ramp up its ambition to fight climate change by phasing down coal use, curbing methane and protecting forests.


2:30 p.m.

As negotiators met behind closed doors to try to overcome last-minute hurdles to a deal, delegates from three countries said they had no idea what was going on.

"I don’t know, man, it’s chaos,” said one negotiator about the last minute friction over a deal.

China’s No. 2 negotiator Zhao Yingmin, while entering his country’s offices, said he had no updates.

Nearby, representatives from Brazil could be seen entering a meeting of the G77 group of developing countries.


1:45 p.m.

After an hour and 45 minutes, Sharma finally came back up to the microphone to announce a slightly different schedule: everyone can be excused, but please return at 2:30 p.m. when the official plenary will begin. The delay was to allow parties to finalize some of their negotiations, he said.

He also insisted: there will be a deal this afternoon.


1:06 p.m.

COP26 President Alok Sharma, who was in the plenary room on time at noon, tried twice to get delegates from other nations to sit down. An hour later, he was still unsuccessful. Large huddles of discussions persisted on one side of the stage. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was working the room, going from group to group.


12:30 p.m.

Delegates were anxious for updates on the negotiations, but were taking the delays in their stride.

"Well, it's classic that the COP goes over time, so no surprise whatsoever," said Axel Michaelowa, an advisor to the Honduras delegation.

In the cafeteria, views were mixed on what the delays meant for the final deal - did they suggest a strong accord that keeps 1.5C within reach, or a soft one that doesn't?

"I think the fact that they didn't close it at 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock last night shows that they might be committed to a sort of deal that works for everybody," said Emily Wright, a representative from Save the Children International.

Naja Moretro, the head of the Norwegian Church Aid Youth Organisation, had a different view: "The texts have been getting weaker and weaker when it comes to clear language."


12:02 p.m.

Danish Climate Minister Dan Jorgensen, heading into the summit's plenary room, explained his support for language in a final deal pushing for a phase-out of coal.

"I think it's fair to say that this isn't about shaming those countries (reliant on fossil fuels)," he said.

He said the text should acknowledge that some countries need help to move away from coal. "So this is why I said one improvement in the text is that it now also refers to 'just transition'," he said.


11:35 a.m.

Nellie Dokie, 37, has been taking a two-hour trip each way to the conference center to work as a chef. She has been preparing meals for VIPs and delegates and finally stepped out into the main conference area to check out the scene.

Dokie lives in Glasgow but is from Liberia.

"I want to be a part of history. I played a small part," she said.


11:20 a.m.

U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry appeared to be in a cheery mood. "It's a beautiful day in Scotland," he said, walking alongside his top negotiators Sue Biniaz, Jonathan Pershing and Trigg Talley as reporters trailed him through the hallway.

It was unclear if his assessment was fueled by the state of negotiations at the conference, or the unusually sunny weather in Glasgow.


11:02 a.m.

The action shifted over the last 24 hours to "bilateral" meeting rooms scattered around the conference site. Delegates huddled in windowless rooms guarded by security. They were reviewing the draft text ahead of the noon stocktaking session.


8:53 a.m.

A dozen Greenpeace staffers sat together in the COP26 conference halls, hunched over laptops and with some sitting on the floor, as they prepared a new statement on the latest draft revisions.

Spanish Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera was seen rushing from her delegation's office, as the UK COP26 Presidency dropped what many hope is the final draft of an overall Glasgow agreement.

Technical crews were boxing up flat-screen displays and carrying them out of meeting rooms, as they continued taking down parts of the venue.


8:21 a.m.

After tense overnight deliberations, delegates were poised for the release of another draft agreement.

The delegation pavilions, where countries had showcased their climate-friendly initiatives, were all dismantled, but coffee stands were still serving.

Civil society groups who have been closely watching the deliberations were scouring documents released in the early morning for clues about what might go into the final deal.



9:30 p.m.

The UK hosts of the conference issued a statement confirming there will be no deal tonight.

"I envisage formal plenary meetings in the afternoon to adopt decisions and close the session on Saturday," Alok Sharma, the UK summit president said in a statement.

Delegations and the media appeared to be headed back to their hotels for some rest before what promises to be a long day tomorrow.


8:40 p.m.

The COP26 conference halls grew quiet with small groups of negotiators, including a dozen or so EU delegates, moving along the halls to and from meetings.

This "shuttle diplomacy," as diplomats shuttle between rooms, is how most of the work gets done in the final hours of climate negotiations, Felipe De Leon Denegri, Costa Rica's carbon markets negotiator, told Reuters.

But this year may be particularly quiet as much of the shuttling is now done over the messaging app WhatsApp, he said.

"One of the perhaps weird things about COP in the 21st century is that shuttle diplomacy sometimes happens on WhatsApp," De Leon said.

He said the pandemic and increasingly common virtual work probably means more exchanges than ever are being held on the Facebook-owned app.

"It's not that people aren't working, it's that they are working through their phone and they don't seem to be moving anywhere."


8:15 p.m.

Tuvalu's Finance Minister Seve Paeniu, head of the island nation's delegation, said he was up most of last night negotiating the part of the draft agreement dealing with "loss and damage". Low-lying Tuvalu and other vulnerable countries dealing with impacts from climate change want rich countries responsible for most emissions to pay up. He said his team is working to push the United States and Australia to support a "standalone" loss and damage fund.

More broadly, he said he will not be satisfied leaving Glasgow without a strong collective agreement that can keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C. "We do not see sufficient commitment made by countries to reduce emissions to achieve that 1.5 degree target," he said. "In terms of adaptation, there is insufficient focus on additional financing."

Former UK Labour Party leader Ed Miliband stopped in the hallway to compliment Paeniu on a speech he gave earlier.


7:38 p.m.

The delegation offices at the summit complex are mainly quiet. Two of China's leading negotiators were seen milling about in their office, while not far away a pair of U.S. negotiators walked down the hall with sandwiches. All expectations were for a very long night as several major differences around ratcheting up emissions cuts pledges and how to deal with carbon markets and funding for poor countries remained.

China Satisfied With Boeing 737 MAX Changes, Seeks Industry Feedback - Document

China's aviation regulator has told airlines it is satisfied that design changes Boeing Co proposed for its 737 MAX plane could resolve safety problems, in a sign it is closer to lifting a more than two-year flight ban in Chinese skies.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) invited airlines to give feedback on a proposed airworthiness directive for the 737 MAX by Nov. 26, according to an undated notice seen by Reuters.

The directive outlines specific procedures for pilots to perform in case of problems similar to those that emerged in two deadly crashes before the plane's grounding in March 2019. It also lists all the systems that must be functioning in order for the plane to be dispatched.

A return to the skies in China, the world's biggest aircraft market, would be a major boon to Boeing. Broker Jefferies said in September an announcement would be worth a 5% boost to the stock price.

The United States and Europe last year sought industry feedback on similar proposed directives before ultimately approving the return of the 737 MAX.

CAAC's notice said after a comprehensive review of the changes Boeing proposed, including to the design of the aviation control software and display system, it assessed the changes could remove the unsafe situations that led to the crashes.

The agency did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the notice. A Boeing spokesperson said the airline continued to work with regulators around the world to return the 737 MAX to service.

The aerospace giant has said the 737 MAX performed a successful test flight for CAAC in August.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said last month the company was working toward gaining Chinese approvals by the end of the year for the 737 MAX to fly, with deliveries expected to resume in the first quarter of 2022.

Around a third of about 370 undelivered 737 MAX airplanes in storage are for Chinese customers, Boeing said last month.

Before the 737 MAX was grounded, Boeing was selling one-quarter of the planes it built annually to Chinese buyers, its largest customer.

Other Asia-Pacific countries - including Singapore, Malaysia, India, Japan, Australia and Fiji - have already approved the return of the 737 MAX.

Beyond safety concerns, Boeing's sales in China have been hobbled by U.S.-China trade tensions, with Washington accusing Beijing of blocking purchases of Boeing planes by its domestic airlines.

Gulf's Oman Air Seeking Further Government Aid, Targets 2024 Break-Even

Oman Air is seeking additional financial assistance from the government and will raise more debt as it recovers from the pandemic, with a target of breaking even in 2024, its chief executive said.

The state-owned Gulf carrier has received government aid during the pandemic but further state support was needed to help cover next year's operational costs, Abdulaziz Al Raisi told Reuters.

He did not disclose how much support had been received so far, or how much more the airline needed.

Al Raisi, who took over as CEO in 2018 after serving in the role in an acting basis, also said the airline has raised debt against non-core aviation assets like hotels, and planned to raise more to cover operational costs.

He said that while the loss-making airline was still receiving government aid, support was at lower levels than in past years.

Oman, among the weakest countries financially in the oil-rich region, has introduced austerity measures over the past year as it looks to contain state deficits and ballooning debt.

The airline had laid off 15% to 20% of its 5,800 staff during the pandemic, Al Raisi said, though the workforce will be expanded as operations ramp in response to passenger demand.

Oman Air was currently operating about 40% of its fleet, he said, with that to increase to 60% to 70% in the first quarter.

The airline, which according to its website has a wide- and narrow-body fleet of 40 jets, expects to return to pre-pandemic passenger traffic of 9.5 million a year by 2023, by which time it also expects to have rebuilt its network of 52 destinations.

Jetmakers Push Freighters As Industry Gathers In Dubai

Boeing said on Saturday November 13 it was in advanced talks to sell a cargo version of its future 777X jetliner jet while Airbus predicted an A350 freighter deal soon, as aerospace giants eye a post-pandemic boom in e-commerce.

Boeing also indicated it was nearing the end of production snags on the 787 Dreamliner, but reiterated the timing of any return to normal deliveries depended on talks with regulators.

"We are in pretty advanced discussions with a number of customers. The (777X freighter) looks good from a design standpoint and a requirements standpoint," Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, said.

The U.S. planemaker is poised to launch what it says would be the world's largest and most capable new freighter, while European rival Airbus is seeking buyers for an A350 cargo version that it describes as lighter and more efficient.

Airbus expects to announce a launch order for the A350 freighter "soon," Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told a separate news conference on the eve of the Dubai Airshow, the first significant industry gathering since the pandemic.

"I am quite happy with the market response around the world and in the region to the A350 freighter," he added.

The 777X freighter is expected to be based on the smaller of two versions of the 777X family, known as the 777-8.

It had been expected to be launched only after the 777-8 passenger version, but Mounir said it could jump ahead of the 777-8, whose sales have lagged the main 777-9 variant.

Boeing is sticking to plans to deliver the 777-9 in 2023, Mounir said. The president of Dubai's Emirates, the biggest customer for the 777X, has sharply criticised Boeing for around three years of delays and a lack of certainty on delivery dates.

Qatar Airways has said publicly it is in talks with Boeing over the possible purchase of a 777X freighter, while FedEx is widely seen as another early contender. Airbus hopes to land an A350 cargo deal with Singapore Airlines.

Freighter traffic has increased as passenger jets that usually carry goods in the hold were grounded by the pandemic.

Mounir and Scherer, sales chiefs for the world's two largest planemakers, both said a market recovery was under way, though doubts remain over demand for the largest wide-body jetliners.

Boeing is meanwhile approaching the resumption of deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, after suspending them to deal with production flaws, and engaging with Chinese regulators over the re-certification of the 737 MAX in China, Mounir said.

But he stressed that Boeing would not pre-empt U.S. or Chinese regulators, who make final decisions on timing.

The 787 has been beset by production problems that have halted deliveries since May. In July, the Federal Aviation Administration said some 787s had a manufacturing quality issue.

Analysts say Boeing continues to tread a fine line between completing work it says it has itself identified on the 787, a vital alternative source of cash to the still recovering 737 MAX, and leaving the last word on timing to regulators.

Boeing said last month it had a "clear line of sight" to resuming deliveries but that the Federal Aviation Administration would make the ultimate decision.

"We remain committed to taking the time to ensure each airplane meets our rigorous engineering specifications. We are conducting inspections and rework and engaging in detailed, transparent discussions with our regulators, customers and suppliers," Mounir told Reuters in an emailed statement.

"While we never want to disappoint or cause delays for our customers, quality and safety always come first."

The 737 MAX was cleared by major Western regulators late last year after an almost two-year safety grounding, but China has yet to allow it back to service.

China's aviation regulator has told airlines it is satisfied that design changes Boeing proposed for its 737 MAX plane could resolve safety problems, in a sign it is closer to lifting a more than two-year flight ban..

Mounir told reporters Boeing would comply with requirements from U.S. or international regulators.

EU To Broaden Belarus Sanctions On Monday - Borrell

EU foreign ministers will widen sanctions on Belarus on Monday November 15 to include airlines and travel agencies thought to involved in bringing migrants to the bloc's border, the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

The EU has accused Belarus of encouraging migrants to come to its territory and pushing thousands of them to cross into Poland and other neighbouring EU states in retaliation for sanctions  already imposed on Minsk.

Two diplomats said on Thursday November 11 the EU is considering imposing sanctions on Belarus' main airport in a bid to make it more difficult for airlines to bring in migrants.

The bloc's foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday.

"We will give the green light to extending the legal framework of our sanctions against Belarus so that it can be applied to everyone who participates in smuggling migrants to this country," Borrell told French weekend newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

He added that executives at airlines and travel agencies could be hit with travel bans and asset freezes in the European Union. Some 30 Belarus government officials thought to be involved in the crisis could also be targeted with sanctions, Borrell said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, already under international sanctions for cracking down on protests, has threatened to retaliate against any new measures, including by shutting down the transit of natural gas via Belarus.

Juggernauts Grab Spotlight From Jumbos At Dubai Airshow

The nuts and bolts of post-pandemic trade loomed over the first major aerospace event since the coronavirus crisis on Sunday November 14, as planemakers touted new freighters plans at the Dubai Airshow.

Plane giants Airbus and Boeing are hoping to launch the West's first all-new flying juggernauts in 25 years as e-commerce gets a boost from the global pandemic.

Airbus, without a buyer after launching a freighter version of its A350 jet in the summer, was knocking on the door of one the industry's go-to patrons for new plane launches, Steven Udvar-Hazy's Air Lease Corp, industry sources said.

And for best-selling small passenger planes, the founder of Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air was also seen ready to hand Airbus an order in Dubai, four years after taking part in a group of airlines striking a record deal at the same event.

Reuters reported in September that Wizz was in negotiations with Airbus over the purchase of at least 100 more jets.

Air Lease is expected to be among early customers for a long-haul A350 freighter alongside an unspecified cargo firm, industry publication The Air Current reported.

Airbus declined comment at the opening of the Dubai Airshow on Sunday, the first day of the Middle East industry event. Wizz and Air Lease were not immediately available for comment.

An A350 freighter would go up against a proposed cargo version of Boeing's 777X passenger series, a twin-engined successor to the soon-to-be-halted 747.

Boeing has not launched the cargo variant but analysts say it is widely expected to do soon as it negotiates with potential buyers including major cargo player Qatar Airways.

Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, who is locked in a dispute with Airbus over the quality of A350 passenger planes, said in June Qatar was in discussions over a possible 777X freighter.

Freighters have replaced jumbo passenger jets in typical dealmaking at the showcase event, as the industry looks to put on a brave face after losing two years of passenger growth to the global drop in travel caused by COVID-19.

In contrast to the passenger market, air freight is booming as consumers increasingly shop online while global supply chain constraints have limited the amount of cargo that can be moved.

Converted passenger jets are also riding the freight boom. Reykjavik-headquartered lessor Icelease announced an order for 11 Boeing 737-800 converted freighters on Sunday.

Chief Operating Officer Magnus Stephensen said demand for freighters would continue to expand even as passenger jets grounded by the pandemic return to the skies, putting currently unused capacity in their cargo holds back into the market.

"The COVID pandemic has changed the cargo environment for good," he said. "E-commerce has entirely changed the outlook."

Military officials also gathered as diplomats say Gulf states and neighbours are questioning Washington's commitment to the region following a pull-out from Afghanistan.

Washington is the key security partner for the six Gulf Arab countries that include Saudi Arabia and the UAE, though European states have sought to increase their influence.

U.S. Lieutenant General Gregory Guillot, the top American air force general in the Middle East, said on Saturday the U.S. was committed to the region but that "size and presence could adjust" at times depending on what was happening elsewhere.

Israel has a public presence at the show for the first time after establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE last year.

Russia is due to present its Sukhoi Su-75 "Checkmate" fighter, a competitor to the U.S. F-35 that the UAE is buying as part of a deal with Washington following the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Emirati deal has slowed as U.S. senators seek more control of arms deals, including assurances that weapons sales to Middle East countries won't undermine Israeli security.

Saudia To Order Wide-Body Jets To Fuel Growth, CEO Says

Saudi Arabian Airlines is planning to place a wide-body aircraft order next year to fuel rapid international expansion plans that will see it and a subsidiary flying to 200 mostly foreign destinations by 2030, Chief Executive Ibrahim Koshy told Reuters on Sunday November 14.

The airline, also known as Saudia, expects to carry 85 million passengers a year by the end of the decade, up from 35 million prior to the pandemic, he said at the Dubai Airshow.

The state owned carrier flew to 90 destinations, including 28 domestic, before the pandemic.

Saudia In Talks With Airbus, Boeing For Wide-Body Jets, CEO Says

Saudi Arabian Airlines is in talks with Airbus and Boeing for a wide-body jet order, with a decision expected next year, its chief executive said on Sunday November 14.

The state-owned carrier, also known as Saudia, is planning to expand rapidly over the next eight years as part of a government strategy to transform the kingdom into a transport hub.

"It's a good size fleet order that will have to be placed," Chief Executive Ibrahim Koshy told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow, without disclosing how many aircraft it would order.

"It's something that will take place. Definitely in 2022."

The order would help fuel network expansion to 135 mostly international destinations by 2030, up from 90 in 2019 which included 28 destinations in Saudi Arabia, he said.

It would later post orders to replace older aircraft and expand its narrow body fleet, while some aircraft types will be removed to simplify the fleet, Koshy said.

Saudia is expanding ahead of a planned launch of a new state-owned airline to based in the capital, Riyadh.

"The growth that is taking place in the country actually justifies a second carrier coming in as a full service airline."

Koshy said Saudia would focus on developing a hub in Jeddah once the new airline starts operations, and would see it operate to 200 combined destinations with its low-cost unit by 2030.

Saudia has forecast significant expansion in Asia Pacific and the Americas, carrying a combined 85 million passengers a year with its unit by 2030, up from 35 million in 2019, he said.

Saudia, one of the Middle East’s oldest airlines, could return to profitability by 2024, at which time it expects to return to pre-pandemic passenger traffic, Koshy said.

Indigo Partners Spearheads Order For 255 Airbus Jets

Veteran budget-airlines investor Bill Franke handed Europe's Airbus a multi-billion-dollar order for 255 single-aisle A321neo passenger jets on Sunday November 14, betting on a quick snapback in tourist travel after the pandemic.

Watched by the pioneer of basic fares and optional charges, Airbus signed deals with Wizz Air, Frontier Airlines, JetSMART and Volaris at the Dubai Airshow following joint negotiations coordinated by Franke's private equity firm Indigo Partners.

Airbus declined to give a value for the order after scrapping list prices in 2019. Based on the last published prices, the deal would be worth some $32 billion but market experts say discounts for such deals can reach well over 50%.

"It is our view that the market will go through a recovery and there will be a return to travel," Franke told Reuters.

The order includes 102 planes for Europe's Wizz Air and 91 for the U.S.-based Frontier Airlines, as well as 39 and 23 for Volaris and JetSMART respectively.

Franke's move on day one of the Dubai Airshow marks an injection of confidence after a steep downturn caused by COVID-19, delegates said, focusing on "ultra-low-cost" carriers that are expected to emerge with stronger finances than rivals.

The soft-spoken financier used the combined purchasing power of four airlines in which his firm has stakes to negotiate the best deal from Airbus - just as he had done with a 430-plane blockbuster order for the same carriers at Dubai in 2017.

Indigo Partners handled broad negotiations with Airbus, while carriers discussed detailed points, Franke told Reuters.

"I am kind of the price delivery guy," he said.

The new deal includes 27 of Airbus' largest single-aisle jet, the A321XLR, for Wizz Air, which plans to base them at UK and Abu Dhabi bases, Wizz's Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi said.

Planes from the overall order will be delivered mainly in the second half of the decade, Airbus said.

Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said the order would contribute to Airbus' production goals. It plans to increase output to 64 such jets a month in 2023 from around 40 now but has run into opposition from suppliers and leasing firms over tentative proposals to raise this to as high as 75.

Heads of the four airlines in Dubai and connected by video said the new aircraft would help them meet environmental goals by reducing emissions per passenger, compared to smaller and older planes. Some environmental groups have criticised low-cost carriers over outright emissions, due to the number of flights.

Varadi, who once joked that he disliked attending air shows because he ended up spending money on new airplanes, confirmed the scope for striking deals under an announcement deadline.

"I don't get overly excited by air shows," he told Reuters. "But it seems to be a pretty good platform for announcements and pushing transactions through."

Dubai Airport Sees Faster Recovery In Passenger Demand

Dubai's state airport operator is optimistic demand for international travel is recovering faster than expected, upwardly revising on Monday November 15 its outlook for Dubai airport.

Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told Reuters that 28 million passengers were now expected to pass through Dubai International this year, up from its most recent forecast of between 26 million and 27 million passengers, and that it was more bullish on 2022.

"We are looking at the forecast for 2022. It was previously about 56 million. Presumably it's going to get closer to 60 million once we have redone the numbers," he said at the Duabi Airshow.

The airport is the world's busiest for international travel and also the hub of Dubai state-owned airline Emirates.

The operator on Monday November 15 said 20.7 million passengers had passed through the airport in the year to October, of which half was in the four months between July and October.

Griffiths said the airport had recovered 80% of its origin and destination traffic, though transit traffic was at 20%, and that more airlines were flying there than before the pandemic.

The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on the airline industry as countries shut borders and enforced lockdowns and curfews.

But Griffiths said he believed governments in countries with high vaccination rates would not return to lockdowns if COVID-19 cases spiked, and instead was worried if he had enough staff.

The airport could see record arrivals into Dubai between now and the end of the year, he said at the Dubai Airshow.

"There is some concern about the resourcing but our teams are working very hard to minimise any disruption and ensure the arrival and departure process goes as smoothly as it possibly can."

The airport, which expects to return to pre-pandemic passenger travel in 2024, handled 25.9 million passengers in 2020 and 86.4 million in 2019.

Belarus Must Be A "No-Fly Zone" For Migrant Flights, Lithuania Says

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called on Monday November 15 for all Belarusian airports to be off limits for airlines potentially carrying would-be migrants, also offering to help with repatriations from Belarus back to the Middle East.

"We need to make Minsk airport a no-fly zone," he told reporters as he arrived for an EU foreign ministers meeting.

American Airlines Bets On Non-Stop Travel Demand As It Relaunches India Flights

American Airlines relaunched flights to India this week, nearly a decade after stopping them, looking to capitalise on growing demand for non-stop travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, a senior executive of the airline told Reuters.

With travel demand bouncing back at home, American Airlines wants to expand its international network and India was "one of the biggest untapped markets" for it, said Tom Lattig, managing director of EMEA sales.

"A lot of customers really want to fly non-stop, particularly as we've come through the pandemic. We know there is huge demand for travel between India and the United States so there is an opportunity right now in the middle of the pandemic to come back," Lattig said in an interview in New Delhi.

American Airlines, which suspended services to India in 2012, started flying between New Delhi and New York on the weekend and will add flights between India's tech city of Bengaluru and Seattle in March.

If it succeeds with those two routes, it will add services to India's financial capital of Mumbai, Lattig said.

The expansion would also depend on the availability of aircraft as it awaits deliveries of wide-body aircraft from Boeing, he said.

"There are more opportunities than we actually have aircraft for," Lattig said.

The U.S. carrier is already flying 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity at home and has even deployed widebody planes on some routes, Lattig said.

Demand from Europe and Britain was also strong, especially after the United States opened its borders last week, and demand from Mexico and parts of Latin America had exceeded 2019 levels, he said.

But the airline had yet to see any meaningful recovery in Asia, where it is flying less than 25% of pre-pandemic capacity, Lattig said, adding that the slow rate of vaccinations in the region was partly to blame.

Most of the current demand globally is from those visiting friends and family or for leisure. Lattig expected it would be the end of 2023 before corporate travel recovers to 2019 levels, with Asia being the slowest region to bounce back.

Lattig said as American Airlines looks to establish a presence in India, it was banking on its service and a four-class cabin to better compete with rivals like Air India, which was acquired by India's Tata Group, and United Airlines - both offering direct flights to the United States.

The airline will also leverage its partnership with U.S. low-cost carrier JetBlue and code share with India's biggest airline - budget carrier IndiGo - to feed its network by connecting travellers from multiple cities.

"We're going be the newcomer and we are going to be aggressive about establishing a place for ourselves," Lattig said.

FACTBOX-Countries Making COVID-19 Vaccines Mandatory

Governments have been making COVID-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups, pushed by a sharp upturn in infections caused by the Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccinations.

A growing number of countries are also making shots compulsory for public servants and other workers.

Here are some countries' vaccine mandates, listed according to categories of people affected:


** INDONESIA made inoculations mandatory in February, warning that anyone who refused to be vaccinated could be fined or denied social assistance or government services.

** MICRONESIA, a small South Pacific island nation, mandated in July that its adult population be inoculated.

** TURKMENISTAN has made vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over.


** CANADA in October said it would place unvaccinated federal employees on unpaid leave and require COVID-19 shots for air, train and ship passengers. It will also require all its 338 lawmakers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to work on Nov. 22.

** COSTA RICA in September mandated all state workers to be vaccinated.

** DENMARK on Nov. 12 proposed to fast-track legislation, which is likely to be passed into law in November, allowing workplaces to mandate a digital "corona pass" for employees

** EGYPT will mandate public sector workers to either be vaccinated or take a weekly coronavirus test to be allowed to work in government buildings after Nov. 15.

** FIJI introduced a "no jab, no job" policy in August, with unvaccinated public servants forced to go on leave and subsequently dismissed if still unvaccinated by November. Employees at private firms could also face fines and companies could be forced to stop operations over vaccine refusals.

** HUNGARY said in October it would require employees at state institutions to be vaccinated. It had already made COVID shots mandatory for healthcare workers.

** ITALY made COVID-19 health passes mandatory for all workers in October. Workers unable to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection would be suspended without pay and face a fine if they try to keep working.

** LATVIA on Nov. 12 banned lawmakers who refuse COVID-19 vaccine from voting and docked their pay.. On Nov. 4 it allowed businesses to fire workers who refuse to either get a vaccine or transfer to remote work.

** RUSSIA's capital Moscow ordered all workers with public-facing roles to be vaccinated in June, giving companies a month to ensure at least 60% of staff had received first doses, while St. Petersburg on Nov. 9 ordered mandatory vaccination for people over 60 and those with chronic illnesses.

** SAUDI ARABIA in May mandated that all public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace get vaccinated. People must also be vaccinated in order to enter any government, private, or educational establishment.

** TUNISIA in October mandated officials, employees and visitors to show a card proving inoculation to access public and private administrations. Unvaccinated employees would be suspended from their job until they are able to present the pass.

** TURKEY began demanding negative COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination for some sectors in August, including teachers and domestic travel employees.

** UKRAINE in October made vaccinations compulsory for public sector employees including teachers. The unvaccinated face restrictions on access to restaurants, sports and other public events.

On Nov. 11, it proposed expanding the list of occupations for compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations to cover medical personnel and municipal employees.

** UNITED STATES President Joe Biden on Sept. 10 ordered all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated. A mandate that private-sector workers be vaccinated or tested weekly will be enforced from Jan. 4.


** AUSTRALIA in late June made vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.

** BRITAIN in October made it mandatory for care home staff in England to be vaccinated. Health workers in England will have to be inoculated by April 1.

** FRANCE required all healthcare and care home workers, home aids and urgent care technicians to have had at least their first shot by Sept. 15; around 3,000 workers were suspended for failing to comply.

** GREECE made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff in July and healthcare workers in September.

** NEW ZEALAND said in October it would require teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors to be fully vaccinated.


** Western Australia will require all employees working in mining, oil and gas exploration to have their first dose by Dec. 1 and to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 1.

** CHINA's capital Beijing is demanding a vaccine booster shot for key workers on construction sites, including cooks, security guards and cleaning personnel.

** PHILIPPINES will require in-office workers and employees in public transportation services to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested frequently from Dec. 1, the president's office said on Nov. 12.

** KAZAKHSTAN introduced mandatory vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20.


** AUSTRIA placed millions of people not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in lockdown as of Nov. 15.. It had already banned the unvaccinated from places including restaurants, hotels, theatres and ski lifts.

** BULGARIA as of Oct. 21 made a COVID-19 "health pass" mandatory for people visiting public venues such as cafes, hotels, concert halls, museums and swimming pools.

** CZECH REPUBLIC on Oct. 20 said it would require restaurants and clubs to check COVID certificates showing a person's vaccination or testing status.

** DENMARK requires a pass when visiting indoor bars, restaurants and other public places.

** FRANCE will require those aged 65 and above to present proof of a booster shot from mid-December for health passes that give access to restaurants, trains and planes to remain valid.

** LEBANON limited entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibody tests.

** MOROCCO introduced a vaccine pass on Oct. 21 for access to all government buildings, as well as spaces such as cafes, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and transportation.

** NETHERLANDS introduced in September a health pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

** ROMANIA made health passes mandatory for entry to most public venues from Oct. 25.

** Many Russian regions that have emerged from a workplace shutdown now require people to present proof of vaccination or earlier infection when visiting cafes, restaurants or shopping centres.

** SWITZERLAND requires people entering bars, restaurants and fitness centres to show a COVID-status certificate providing proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test result.

EU Agrees Legal Basis For New Belarus Sanctions

European Union foreign ministers signed off on Monday November 15 on changes to the bloc's sanctions framework, preparing the way for a new round of sanctions on Belarus, according to an EU statement.

"The Council today amended its sanctions regime in view of the situation at the EU's border with Belarus, so as to be able to respond to the instrumentalisation of human beings carried out by the Belarus regime for political purposes," the statement said.

Reuters reported the formal agreement for the legal change, agreed by EU envoys, on Nov. 10.

Emirates Airline President Says Carrier Returned To Profitability In October - Al Arabiya

Emirates airline chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said on Monday November 15 that the Dubai state-owned airline returned to profitability in October, Al Arabiya TV reported.

He added that the carrier's focus remains on increasing passenger numbers through Dubai airports.

He also said that there is currently no need for any financial support from the Dubai government and that tapping the sukuk market is an option if needed.

U.S. Judge OKs Boeing Agreement To Settle Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX Crash Claims

A U.S. judge on Monday November 15 approved Boeing Co's agreement to acknowledge liability for compensatory damages in lawsuits filed by families of the 157 people killed in the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash.

As a result of the agreement filed last week between Boeing and the families, lawyers for the victims will not seek punitive damages and Boeing will not challenge the lawsuits being filed in Illinois.

Boeing said last week it was "committed to ensuring that all families who lost loved ones in the accidents are fully and fairly compensated for their loss."

Lawyers for the victims noted in a statement last week that Boeing admitted under the agreement "that the 737 MAX had an unsafe condition, and that it will not attempt to blame anyone else" for the crash.

All further planned depositions with former and senior Boeing executives were canceled as a condition of the settlement.

Boeing's best-selling plane was grounded for 20 months after 346 people died in two 737 MAX crashes - in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia in 2019. The plane was returned to service after Boeing made significant software and training improvements.

The crashes already have cost Boeing some $20 billion. In January, Boeing agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice including $2.5 billion in fines and compensation stemming from the 737 MAX crashes, including the Lion Air crash in October 2018.

Under the deal with Boeing, the victims' families also agreed to dismiss claims against Rosemount Aerospace, a company that made sensors for the 737 MAX, and Raytheon Technologies Corp's Rockwell Collins, the parent of Rosemount and a key supplier for the MAX.

Freighters To The Fore As Planemakers Bet On Trade Flows

A pandemic-driven boom in air cargo is providing an auspicious backdrop for Airbus and Boeing to launch new large freighters, but longer-term trends - particularly the strength of the global economic rebound - will determine whether either succeeds.

Airbus bagged its first deal for the freighter version of its A350 jetliner at the Dubai Airshow on Monday November 15 - a model the European group hopes will break Boeing's long-held dominance of the market to fly goods.

Boeing, meantime, is working on a potential freighter variant of its 777X model, though has yet to announce a launch, with possible buyers including major cargo player Qatar Airways.

After losing two years of air passenger growth to the pandemic, the freighter market has been a rare bright spot for planemakers, as a boom in online shopping, supply chain disruptions, and a drop in passenger plane flights - which often also carry cargo in their holds - has stoked demand.

But there are big risks associated with new models, which would only be delivered in the second half of the decade.

These include a rapid recovery in passenger flights, companies shifting to source more goods closer to home, and a growing number of passenger jets being converted to freighters.

There is also huge uncertainty over the strength of the economic recovery from the pandemic and the future of global trade, which was in a slump before the pandemic due to U.S.-China trade tensions that have not been resolved.

"It's not a risk-free decision," said Stuart Rubin, managing director aviation at consulting firm ICF of Airbus and Boeing's freighter plans.

Neither company has disclosed the cost of developing the new models.

The shortage of passenger plane belly capacity during the pandemic sent freight rates soaring, delayed retirements of older models like MD-11s and had lessors rushing to convert older unwanted passenger planes into carrying freight.

"Freight-wise, everyone with a plane could make money at the moment," said Frederic Horst, managing director of Cargo Facts Consulting. "We're seeing a lot of weird things going on that you wouldn't normally see. You're seeing 737 narrowbody freighters flying Europe to Asia."

Large widebody freighters like the proposed A350 and 777X usually carry denser, trade-linked products like auto parts, semiconductors and pharmaceuticals on long-haul routes from Asia to North America and Europe.

Converted passenger planes instead carry lighter, more voluminous cargo such as e-commerce packages.

Cargo companies like FedEx and major airlines such as Korean Air Lines and Lufthansa have also benefited from unprecedented disruptions to supply chains and soaring container shipping rates during the health crisis.

Air transport last month was around four to six times as expensive as sea freight, versus 12 to 15 times normally, said Tom Sanderson, director of product marketing at Boeing.

There are grounds for thinking some of the pandemic-driven boosts to air freight will continue.

Airbus, for example, forecasts the e-commerce market will grow 4.7% per year over the next 20 years, compared with 2.7% for general cargo.

"If you get a good price, ordering freighters in the current market is not really audacious," said independent industry adviser Bertrand Grabowski.

In the depths of the pandemic last year, Boeing, which controls 90% of the freighter market, forecast the global large widebody cargo fleet would rise to 850 planes in 2039 from 610 in 2019 due to growth in demand.

Environmental trends are also working in favour of new, more fuel-efficient freighters.

Boeing's soon-to-be-discontinued 747-8, as well as the 777F and 767F, cannot be produced after 2027 due to new environmental standards unless product changes are made.

Boeing has said it may apply for exemptions to the rules as one of several options under consideration for freight plans.

Yet, analysts say there are also signs some of the pandemic benefits for air freight are starting to fade.

Container rates have begun to fall as supply chain disruptions have eased and some companies bring production closer to home to avoid future shocks.

European fashion companies are shifting manufacturing from China to places like Portugal, Turkey and North Africa, said Marco Bloemen, cargo advisory lead at Accenture's Seabury Consulting.

The burgeoning market to convert 777 passenger planes into freighters - such as the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and AerCap 777-300ER programme set to produce its first freighter next year - could also limit demand for new models.

While the converted planes will not be able to carry denser cargo as effectively as their newly built counterparts, they can ride the boom in e-commerce, said ICF's Rubin.

Emirates on Monday November 15 signed a deal with IAI to convert four 777-300ERs into freighters, citing its ability to carry high volumes of e-commerce as the key factor. The airline also ordered two more factory built 777 freighters.

Singapore Airlines Expects To Resume 737 MAX Flights This Year, Says Exec

Singapore Airlines Ltd expects to resume Boeing Co 737 MAX flights before the end of the year, a senior executive said on Tuesday November 16, in a positive sign for the model's return in Asia.

The city-state's aviation regulator approved 737 MAX flights in September, more than two years after they were grounded following two deadly crashes.

But Singapore Airlines has not returned them to service yet because it needs the green light from other countries to fly the 737 MAX in their airspace and land the plane.

"We certainly hope it will be as soon as possible," Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President Commercial Lee Lik Hsin told reporters of the planned return. "We definitely expect that it will be before this year is out."

India, Malaysia, Australia and Japan are among other Asian countries that have approved the plane's return to service, while China and Indonesia are among those that have not.

China's aviation regulator, however, has told airlines it is satisfied that design changes could resolve safety problems, Reuters reported on Sunday November 14, signalling it is closer to lifting the ban.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said last month the company was working toward gaining Chinese approvals by the end of the year.

Singapore Airlines has six 737 MAX planes in its fleet and another 31 on order to be used for flights around Asia.

The initial six planes were previously flown by regional brand SilkAir, which has since been folded into the more premium parent airline.

Singapore Airlines unveiled on Tuesday November 16 new lie-flat seats in the 737 MAX business class - a rarity for a narrowbody plane - as part of a S$230 million ($169.94 million) investment in cabin products.

It has also installed in-flight entertainment systems in economy class, helping to distinguish the experience from low-cost arm Scoot.

All 37 planes will feature the new product, Lee said.

Singapore Airlines said on Friday it expected to receive eight more 737 MAX planes by March 31, 2022, though only one of them would enter service by that date.

Emirates Says It Could Be Listed In Dubai, CNBC Arabiya Reports

Emirates airline Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said on Monday it was possible to list the state-linked carrier or its subsidiaries on the Dubai exchange, CNBC Arabiya TV reported.

He said such a decision would have to come from the Dubai Securities and Exchange Higher Committee chaired by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.

The Dubai government earlier this month announced that it plans to list 10 state-linked companies as part of a goal to boost stock market activity.

Emirates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The listing plans are aimed at making Dubai a more competitive market compared with bigger bourses in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Abu Dhabi that are attracting larger listings and strong liquidity.

Speculation over the potential listing of Emirates, Dubai's flagship carrier, has been going on for over a decade.

In 2007, al-Maktoum had said Emirates intended to go public. At the time, the airline's President Tim Clark said an IPO by the company should value it between $20 billion and $30 billion.

Emirates got a further 2.5 billion dirhams ($681 million) in state support in the first half of the year, the airline said earlier this month, as it announced first-half losses had halved.

The airline posted a loss of 5.8 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) for the April-September period, down from a 12.6 billion-dirham loss it reported for the same period last year.

Emirates Says Boeing 777X Talks "Work In Progress"

Emirates has made progress in talks with Boeing on the Dubai airline's concerns over delays to the 777X jetliner but does not yet know when it will receive an aircraft it considers vital to its future growth, its president said on Tuesday November 16.

"It is work in progress; we are moving on it. I think we will probably watch very carefully how the process of certification goes over the next couple of years and then we will firm up what the delivery positions will be," Tim Clark told reporters.

Clark struck a softer tone after sharply criticising Boeing and calling for "another grown-up conversation" with the planemaker at an industry event last month.

But he warned against any further surprises or "torpedoes" on the timing of the twin-engined jumbo, which is running at least two-and-a-half years behind its original schedule.

"We are not moving away from that airplane at all; it is just a question of when are we going to get it," he said on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow Tuesday.

"Boeing are hopeful they will get it certified in July 2023. We will have to see how that works out. Maybe we will get more visibility in the next 9 months or a year."

Kuwait Budget Carrier Jazeera Places 28 Jet Airbus Order

Kuwaiti low cost carrier Jazeera Airways placed a multi-billion dollar order with European planemaker Airbus for 28 single aisle A320neo family passenger jets on Tuesday November 16.

The preliminary agreement for 20 A320neo and 8 A321neo aircraft was made on the third day of the Dubai Airshow, the largest in-person aerospace industry event since before the pandemic.

Jazeera Chief Executive Rohit Ramachandran told reporters the new aircraft, due to be delivered from 2026, would help reduce emissions by replacing older A320 models and also power expansion plans including in Europe and the Middle East.

"We would like to take deliveries sooner. We understand the supply chain constraints with Airbus," he said, adding that he was enthusiastic and hopeful jets would arrive sooner.

Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said the planemaker would look to identify any opportunities to speed up deliveries if possible.

The order was worth $3.4 billion at list prices, Jazeera said later in a stock market filing, though its common for airlines to receive large discounts on orders.

The deal includes options to buy a further five jets.

Reuters had reported earlier on Tuesday November 16 that Jazeera was close to handing Airbus an order for A320neos at the airshow.

The order was posted after years of deliberations by the Kuwaiti airline which as recently as Nov. 1 said it was in talks with Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing.

"We believe now we are through with what we consider to be the worst of the effects of the pandemic and we need to now be decisive," Ramachandran said.


Planemakers Eye Further Deals At Dubai Airshow

Global aerospace firms at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday November 16 sought to build on signs of a tentative recovery from a global pandemic that has shattered the industry's profits, while talking up efforts to address concerns over climate change.

After major orders for narrowbody jets and a new freighter earlier this week, Airbus secured a tentative deal for up to 30 A320neo narrowbody jets from Kuwait's Jazeera Airways.

Both airlines and suppliers have seized on signs of an industry recovery in Dubai, using the deadline of air show publicity to try to win last-minute concessions on new deals.

Confirming a Reuters report, Nigerian carrier Ibom Air, owned by the Akwa Ibom state government, signed up for 10 A220s.

Tentative or firm orders for jets neared the 400 mark led by Airbus, but were mainly restricted to narrowbody models that are in highest demand from low-cost carriers like Europe's Wizz Air. "I believe this is a sign of recovery. The second half of the decade when most of these aircraft will be delivered is a long time from now, so it is reasonable to expect that at that point traffic will exceed pre-COVID levels," said independent aviation adviser Bertrand Grabowski.

"It is also reasonable to expect that those who emerge from the crisis with lower costs and higher efficiency will win."

A major question marks hangs over demand in Asia, previously the engine of new jetliner demand, executives said, while some fretted over the concentration of orders among a few names.

The deal between Airbus and Kuwait's Jazeera comes after the airline's chairman, Marwan Boodai, told Reuters this month the budget carrier was aiming to buy jets worth up to $2 billion.

Indian startup Akasa Air, backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, was expected to finalise an order for around 70 Boeing 737 MAX jets, in a move that will help the U.S. planemaker regain lost ground in a fast-growing market.

Boeing is also relying on the order to lend fresh support for MAX which remains grounded in China following an almost two-year safety ban that was lifted in the West late last year.

Akasa said last month it expected to start flying next year after getting initial regulator clearance to launch the country's latest ultra-low-cost carrier.

Reuters reported in September that Boeing was close to winning an order for 70-100 jets from Akasa, pending separate talks on a long-term engine service deal.

Demand for wide-body jets underpinning the big Gulf travel hubs like Dubai and Doha, whose carrier Qatar Airways is absent from this year's show, remains thinner as international travel has been the slowest to pick up following the COVID downturn.

"Once we see the relaxation of borders, entry requirements and all the other paraphernalia with people travelling these days...then you will see the bounceback in the countries that we are now flying to," said Emirates president, Tim Clark.

The Emirates executive urged Boeing to give firm dates for its delayed 777X, saying certification uncertainty had upended the carrier's growth plans. Boeing had no immediate comment.

Emirates is the largest customer for the previous version of 777 and the Airbus A380 superjumbo. Airbus has stopped producing the world's largest passenger jet because of slow sales.

Clark, who has been among the biggest champions for the A380, predicted the double-decker would prove its mettle when travel recovers from the COVID-19 crisis. Some other industry leaders predicted a move towards smaller and more flexible jets.

But as supply chain problems bite manufacturing worldwide, Clark said Airbus had not so far been able to give a date for "even the last" A380 delivery which had been due mid-December.

He also noted labour shortages were impacting the industry.

An Airbus spokesman said, "All deliveries are agreed with the customer and it is the customer's privilege to announce them."

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.