“Gary has served the Kenai Peninsula community to the best of his ability for decades,” he said in a post on Facebook. “Greg Bell was a dedicated Christian, family man and community member. I have flown with Greg and never felt to be in better, more safety-focused hands while in the air. We are reeling from the loss in our community. Please keep the Knopp and Bell families in your prayers.”
Bell is listed as an owner of High Adventure Air Charter. The business offers fishing, hunting and sightseeing trips. The company Friday declined to comment, but said it’s cooperating with the investigation.
Legislators mourned Knopp’s sudden death on Friday.
They described the lawmaker as a hard worker, a one-of-a-kind leader and a true Alaskan who will be missed by many.
“More than a legislator, Gary Knopp was a husband, father, son, brother, grandfather, and friend. He will be tremendously missed,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage.
Cathay Pacific Will Cut 8,500 Jobs and Close Cathay Dragon Carrier
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2 billion ($283.9 million).
Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.
“The actions we have announced today, however unpalatable, are absolutely necessary to bring cash burn down to more sustainable levels,” Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy told reporters.
Cathay shares jumped almost 7% in early trade and were 3% higher at 0545 GMT, with broker Jefferies saying the announcement removed a key overhang on the stock.
Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have already announced similarly large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.
Cathay, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.
After receiving a $5 billion rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review.
The airline said it was bleeding HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by HK$500 million a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.
BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.
“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.
Cathay will postpone the delivery of its 21 Boeing Co 777-9 jets on order beyond 2025, Healy said.
Exit the Dragon
The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand.
Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong that deterred mainland travellers.
Plans to merge Cathay Dragon into Cathay’s main brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told Reuters in May.
Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes in Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.
Healy said there would be “substantial savings” from combining Cathay Dragon’s narrowbody fleet with Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet and focusing on marketing of a single premium brand.
In the short-term, the closure of the Cathay Dragon brand will result in it being unable to carry cargo to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, and it will only send dedicated freighters to Xiamen, Chengdu and Hanoi, it told cargo customers in a memo, indicating the routes were cut for now.
Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.
In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1% compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6%.
Cathay shares have fallen 41% since the start of January.
The airline’s share register is dominated by Swire Pacific Ltd, Air China Ltd, Qatar Airways and the Hong Kong government, with only a 12% free float.
($1 = 7.7500 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Photo Credit: Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific. The carrier announced it was cutting thousands of jobs and its regional Cathay Dragon carrier. Cathay Pacific
Ethiopian Airlines Lands 5 Week Shanghai Flight Ban
Beginning October 26th, Ethiopian Airlines must suspend its operations to Shanghai for a full five weeks. Fifteen passengers on one of the carrier’s flights tested positive for COVID-19, which violates China’s “circuit breaker” regulation. Most of the infected people seem to have had their pre-departure tests done at the same facility.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has hit Ethiopian Airlines with a five-week suspension of operations. The East African carrier is banned from flying its route from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport to Shanghai’s Pudong for five weeks beginning October 26th.
Fifteen passengers on the same flight
The ban is a result of as many as 15 passengers from Flight ET684 on October 6th testing positive for coronavirus. Five of them showed positive results immediately upon arrival and were quarantined at the airport. Another ten tested positive a week later, on October 13th.
China requires all international travelers to have a negative PCR test done no later than 48 hours before departure. Somewhat ironically, the people who tested positive on Ethiopian’s October 6th flight had received their pre-departure test certificates from Silk Road General Hospital, a Chinese-owned COVID-19 testing center in Addis Ababa.
No longer accepting certain certificates
As a result, Ethiopian says it will no longer accept passengers on board with COVID-19 tests done at Silk Road General Hospital,
“We are discussing the matter with Chinese authorities to restore our operation. Meanwhile, we are informing our passengers not to test with the above-mentioned hospital since we have suspended the acceptance of PCR test results from this hospital,” the airline said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
The CAAC’s rules state that if any passenger from an incoming international flight tests positive for COVID-19, it bans the airline from operating flights into China for a week. If more than ten passengers test positive, then the CAAC extends the ban to four weeks.
This is not the first suspension for Ethiopian’s Addis Ababa to Shanghai service. The CAAC prohibited the airline from operating the route for a week from August 31st after five passengers tested positive on an earlier flight.
Not the only airline with a lengthy ban
Ethiopian is also not the only carrier suspended for five weeks by the CAAC. Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot will also not be able to operate its Moscow to Shanghai service for four weeks starting on October 26th. The decision was prompted after 11 passengers tested positive on Flight SU208 on October 9th.
The lengthy flight ban follows a previous suspension of one week, which started on October 19th, after eight passengers from an October 2nd flight tested positive.
Several other airlines have had to pause operations to Shanghai since the CAAC implemented the “circuit breaker” rule on June 4th. In August, Etihad received a one-week suspension for its flights from Abu Dhabi.
One month later, China Eastern suspended its flights from Manila in the Philippines to Shanghai. Two passengers on the service were found to wilfully have tampered with their test results, changing them from positive to negative, to be able to fly.
What do you think of China’s regulations? Is it an effective way of keeping imported cases out of the country? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Flybe Comeback Planned for Spring 2021
Flybe entered administration on 5 March 2020. All its flights were grounded and the UK airline stopped trading with immediate effect. At the height of its operations, Flybe was responsible for around 40% of all regional flights in the UK. In particular the links with KLM long haul flights departing from Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. There is now a glimmer of hope that Flybe could take-off again in 2021.
Why Flybe Went into Administration
For over a year Flybe had battled to survive. In February 2019 Thyme Opco (an investment firm owned by hedge fund Cyrus Capital) in a consortium with Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group (owner of Southend Airport) took control of Flybe. But this rescue attempt failed. Flybe was already struggling due to intense competition from other budget airlines, a weak pound and Brexit.
In January the airline appealed to the UK Government for help. It was allowed to defer air passenger duty but discussions relating to a loan failed. Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary led the opposition to a government funding package. He referred to it as a billionaires’ bailout due to Virgin’s Richard Branson’s part-ownership of Flybe.
The dramatic reduction in passenger numbers due to COVID-19 meant survival became impossible and in March it went into administration with EY. But the administrators continued to look for a way to rescue the airline. Now, a former shareholder could be about to agree to a rescue deal.
What Makes a Revival of Flybe Possible?
Crucial to any rescue of Flybe was the retention of the airline’s licence and its slots. EY has won a legal battle to keep the carrier’s operating licence. However, slots may be a problem. IAG, the parent company of British Airways took over Flybe’s slots at Heathrow when the airline ceased operations. The administrators challenged their right to these slots. And the European Commission granted them grandfathering rights on 4 August.
Thyme Opco, acting alone, has reached a deal with the administrators of Flybe. It has acquired the airline’s remaining assets, including its intellectual property, stock and equipment. Their spokesperson is optimistic that the airline will re-commence operations in the spring. He went on to say: “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to relaunch Flybe. The airline is not only a well-known UK brand, but it was also the largest regional air carrier in the EU, so while we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country’s economy.”
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