Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of the latest airline and aviation news from around the world.
Pakistan's Lakson Group And Air Arabia To Start New Low-Cost Airline
Pakistan's Lakson Group and Middle Eastern budget carrier Air Arabia have said that they will launch a low-cost airline serving domestic and international routes from Pakistan.
The new carrier, Fly Jinnah, will operate as a joint venture between the pair, they said in a statement, adopting the low-cost model operated by Air Arabia.
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The statement said the new airline would help Pakistan’s travel and tourism sector and contribute to the country’s economic growth and job creation.
Air Arabia operates from Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, and has similar joint ventures in Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Morocco and Armenia. Its shares are listed on the Dubai Financial Market.
The airline has been pushing ahead to expand in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak last year as low-cost carriers bet on a post-COVID-19 pandemic surge in travel.
British Airways Considers Gatwick-Based Independent Short-Haul Airline
British Airways (BA) has said that it is considering setting up a new independent subsidiary for its short-haul operations at London's Gatwick airport.
The airline, owned by Anglo-Spanish group International Airlines Group (IAG), said that the new unit would also be branded British Airways and would offer the same standard of service.
BA said last month that it was evaluating operations at the airport, London's second biggest after Heathrow, which is its main hub.
"We believe that our proposals for an independent subsidiary will enable us to both maintain the British Airways customer experience and be competitive in this environment," it said.
BA said its operations at Gatwick had not been profitable for a decade, including in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
It has struggled to compete with low-cost carriers such as EasyJet at the airport. Creating a independent subsidiary would enable BA to lower its cost base, such as staffing bills.
It is not currently operating any short-haul flights from Gatwick because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
"Whilst we want to restart flying short-haul from Gatwick, we will only do this if we have a competitive and sustainable operating cost base," it said.
BA, which is discussing the proposals with its unions, said it was also evaluating alternatives for its Gatwick slots.
Rival Ryanair delivered a downbeat assessment of the proposals, with chief executive Michael O'Leary questioning BA's choice of Gatwick as a hub.
"If you were going to open up a low-cost carrier, the one airport in London you wouldn't go to would be Gatwick," he said, adding it was London's second most expensive.
American Airlines To End Pandemic Leave For Unvaccinated Staff
American Airlines has said that it will not provide special leave from next month to unvaccinated employees who have to quarantine due to COVID-19.
Unvaccinated workers will have to use their sick time or medical leave if they miss work due to the disease, it said.
"Given there is an FDA-approved vaccine, pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide their vaccination card to us," the carrier said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.
The move comes after United Airlines Inc last month became the first US carrier to require vaccinations for all domestic employees.
Separately, Alaska Air has said that it has stopped special pay for unvaccinated employee absences due to COVID-19 infection or exposure to a suspect.
The airline has mandated vaccination for all new hires and will pay $200 to employees who provide proof of vaccination.
Philippine Airlines Files For Chapter 11 In US
Philippine Airlines has said that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States which will allow the airline to restructure and reorganize its finances impacted by COVID-19 crisis.
The proposed restructure plan which was filed in the Southern District of New York and needs court approval will allow the airline to consensually reduce its fleet capacity by 25% and aims to cut $2 billion in borrowings, the company said.
The restructuring plans also includes $505 million in long-term debt equity and debt financing from the airline's majority shareholder and $150 million of additional debt financing from new investors, the company said.
PAL Holdings the listed parent company and PAL Express are not included in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company added.
Rolls-Royce and Lufthansa Technik are among the largest unsecured creditors in the company, according to the court filing.
Ongoing trade creditors and suppliers are expected to be unimpaired by the restructuring plan, the company said.
In June, PAL Holdings said that it was in the final stages of putting together a debt restructuring plan for the flag carrier to help through the crisis.
New Boeing 787 Dreamliners May Not Be Delivered Until Late October
Boeing Co's delivery of 787 Dreamliners will likely remain halted until at least late October as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rejected the company's recent proposal to inspect them, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The FAA confirmed on July 12 that some undelivered Boeing 787s have a new manufacturing quality issue the company needs to fix before shipment.
Airlines pay most of the purchase price upon delivery.
Boeing met with FAA on August 2 to persuade the agency to approve an inspection method that would speed deliveries with targeted checks rather than nose-to-tail teardowns, the newspaper said.
The regulators flagged internal company disagreements over the aircraft sample size, and repeated that Boeing's employee group that acts as an in-house regulator needs to concur with the company's proposals, the report added.
An FAA spokesman said the agency continues to engage with Boeing and will not sign off on the inspections "until our safety experts are satisfied."
Boeing's 737 MAX and 787 have been afflicted by electrical defects and other issues since late last year, and it only resumed deliveries of the 787 in March after a five-month hiatus.
A Boeing spokesperson said the company was committed to providing full transparency with regulators and working with the FAA through the rigorous process to resume 787 deliveries.
Singapore To Allow Boeing 737 MAX To Return To Service
Singapore's aviation regulator has said that it will approve the return to service of the Boeing Co 737 MAX more than two years after the plane was grounded, becoming the latest country in the Asia Pacific region to do so.
The approval is based on operators including Singapore Airlines Ltd complying with airworthiness directives and additional flight crew training requirements, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement.
Singapore grounded the 737 MAX in March 2019 following two fatal crashes. The approval for its return comes months after the model returned to service in the United States and Europe, and follows more recent lifting of grounding orders in other countries, including Australia, Fiji, Japan, India and Malaysia.
China is the biggest market in the region that has yet to approve the return of the 737 MAX, though Boeing last month conducted test flights in the country.
Singapore Airlines has six of the planes and it plans to take delivery of another eight in the financial year ending March 31, 2022, the carrier said in a presentation in May.
Singapore Airlines said on Monday September 6 that it would continue to work closely with CAAS and other relevant regulators in the coming weeks to meet the requirements to return its 737 MAX planes to service. Further details on its 737 MAX operations will be announced at a later date, the airline added.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.