Airlines are gearing up for a potentially hot and profitable summer of transatlantic travel as more Americans and Europeans become fully vaccinated and are making their travel plans after being cooped up for over a year.
Following the news that Americans may be welcome in Europe if they’re vaccinated, searches for flights to Europe increased by 19 percent at Chicago-based United Airlines, an airline spokesperson said.
United is planning to resume direct flights from its bases in Newark, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Reykjavik and a few other European cities between May and July, the United spokesperson said
There is strong demand for markets open to U.S. travelers, and the Atlanta-based carrier is resuming service to Iceland this weekend and Athens next month, a spokesperson said.
Across the Atlantic, Virgin Atlantic is seeing customers book overseas trips starting in the second quarter, but the airline notes that with the uncertainty of restrictions that can change. “We are seeing demand for families traveling to the theme parks in Orlando in the summer and we have some great offers for early bird bookings for resorts, including Walt Disney World Orlando,” said Virgin Atlantic spokesperson Anna Cathpole. As an alternative to European vacations, Virgin Atlantic also is seeing an increase in bookings to Barbados and Israel, Cathpole added.
Confidence in travel seems to be returning. But the catch — at least for the European opening — is that Americans traveling to their borders must be vaccinated. And that can be a problem for people who are unable to be vaccinated for health reasons or because they choose not to get vaccinated, said Perry Flint, a spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The freedom to travel must not be restricted to only those who have access to vaccinations. Vaccines are not the only way to safely re-open borders. Government risk-models should also include Covid-19 testing,” said Willie Walsh, the new director general of IATA.
While not every airline is participating in IATA’s Travel Pass, all the airlines Skift spoke to have ways for airlines to upload the required pandemic-related information, either on the airline app or through partnerships with other health-travel passports. One such example is VeriFly, which verifies passengers’ identity and Covid-19 test results, among other capabilities.
“Equally critical will be clear, simple and secure digital processes for vaccination certificates. The IATA Travel Pass can help industry governments manage and verify vaccination status, as it does with testing certificates,” Walsh said. “But we are still awaiting the development of globally recognized standards for digital vaccine certificates.”
The problem with paper vaccine certificates is they are impossible to upload into the IATA Travel Pass unless they are digitized or have a QR code, said IATA’s Flint. That can potentially result in a problem for airlines as more European countries open, because passengers will have to provide vaccination proof in person and won’t be able to check-in online, he said.
“If you have to show that certificate in person — physically — that’s going to create problems at your departure airport because you and everyone else who’s going to that country with one of those certificates,” said IATA’s Flint. “And when you get to the other side, you have to repeat the process by showing it to border control agent. That’s really not going to be a fun experience.”
Flint acknowledges IATA continues working with governments to find a solution to make the return of international travel smoother and safer.
407 Squadron defends Canada for 80 years
From Comox Valley Record – link to source story – thanks to CW
The Comox-based squadron celebrating special anniversary
ERIN HALUSCHAK | 7 May 2021
A 407 Squadron crew returns from an anti-submarine patrol during the Second World War. It was here their aggressive reputation earned them the moniker “The Demons.” Canadian Forces photo/submitted
Eighty years ago, 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron was created with many responsibilities and different aircraft, but one principle has stayed the same: no matter the mission, the crews of 407 Squadron always get the job done.
Stood up on May 8, 1941 at RAF Thorney Island in England as a Coastal Strike squadron, it was tasked with attacking Axis shipping while flying the Lockheed Hudson bomber. It was in this role that the squadron earned its nickname “Demons” for its aggressive and unrelenting low-level bombing runs, destroying or damaging an estimated 500,000 tons of enemy supplies.
In 1943, it was changed to a general reconnaissance squadron and tasked to protect allied shipping from the menacing wolf packs of German U-boats, flying the behemoth Vickers Wellington bomber. Until the end of the Second World War, the “Demons” wreaked havoc on the U-boats, sinking four and damaging seven, thus helping to keep the vital supply lines from North America safe. It was here during the Battle of the Atlantic that the “Demons” lived up to their name.
The squadron was disbanded on June 4, 1945 following the end of the war but reactivated on July 1, 1952 in its current home of Comox as 407 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron.
Flying the Avro Lancaster Mark 10 MR, its primary mission was anti-submarine warfare along with search-and-rescue and national sovereignty patrols. In 1958 the “Demons” traded in the Lancaster for the CP-122 Neptune, an aircraft specifically designed for anti-submarine warfare.
In 1968, they traded the Neptune for the CP-107 Argus, a Canadian-made aircraft with improved sensors and endurance. This allowed the squadron to begin patrolling the vast expanses of the Canadian Arctic. In 1974, a 407 crew flew a maritime patrol from Comox to the Aleutian Islands and back at a time of 31 hours and six minutes, setting a world record for the longest un-refueled flight and putting 407 Squadron in the history books once again.
On June 11, 1981 the “Demons,” now designated as maritime patrol squadron, entered the era of computerized warfare and took possession of its current workhorse, the CP-140 Aurora. A combination of Lockheed’s P-3 Orion and S-3 Viking aircrafts, the Aurora brought with it state-of-the-art reconnaissance, surveillance and anti-submarine capabilities. This made 407 Squadron one of the most versatile squadrons in the Canadian Armed Forces, able to conduct a multitude of missions like anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search-and-rescue, sovereignty patrols, maritime interdiction, assistance to law enforcement and overland reconnaissance.
The squadron routinely works with allied and partner nations as well as other Canadian departments like DFO, the RCMP, the Coast Guard, Transport Canada and NORAD.
Some of its current operations include counter-narcotics enforcement off Central and South America, sanctions enforcement around North Korea, searching for illegal and unregulated fishing in the Pacific Ocean, counter-smuggling patrols in the western Indian Ocean, search and rescue missions at home, enforcing sovereignty along Canada’s west and north coasts, and tracking submarines all around the world.
From the North Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Afghanistan and Iraq to the Indian Ocean and East China Sea, the “Demons” are the eyes and ears of Canada’s military and after 80 years, they still get the job done.
– Capt. Ian Paone/Canadian Forces
United Airlines Uses The Crisis To Diversify Latin American Network
Latin America has been a strong performer through the recovery. With the big three US airlines and smaller peers heavily contesting the geography, passengers have no dearth of options when it comes to choosing a flight itinerary. Sensing an opportunity, United Airlines has used the crisis to diversify its Latin America network.
United has diversified its Latin America network
Speaking on the airline’s first-quarter earnings call, Andrew Nocelle, Chief Commercial Officer at United, discussed the carrier’s international network. While long-haul demand has been largely depressed, Latin America has proven strong for the airline, as he stated:
“As we look forward to our capacity levels in most parts in near-Latin America are now above 2019 levels. Wherever we look in Latin America or Europe, where access is permitted, we see leisure demand in 2019 levels or greater.
One bright performer has been Mexico. Mr. Nocelle stated that, after the US announced it would institute a mandatory testing requirement for inbound international travelers, United feared a drop in travel demand for Mexico. So, the carrier cut capacity, expecting the reduction. However, the airline was wrong and had to go back and add capacity to the market again.
Latin America is also a realm of new opportunities for United. Mr. Nocella discussed how the airline was responding to travel demand for Latin America:
“This summer, we’re planning to be at our 2019 levels already and there’s very few parts of our airline where we’re at that level. We have a great Latin American franchise. However, it’s been historically very Houston-centric and we’ve taken the opportunity in the recent months and going forward to diversify that portfolio to now include more out of Los Angeles, Washington and New York and our intention is to keep that.”
United’s Latin America expansion
This month, United is operating more flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America than it did in May of 2019. Much of this came from both resumptions in existing Latin American routes and new additions to the carrier’s route network.
This includes a significant expansion from hubs like Denver, Los Angeles, and San San Francisco to points in Central America, such as Belize and Costa Rica. Washington D.C. received additional service to the Caribbean, as did Newark, which United uses as its New York City gateway.
United has also brought back much of its long-haul international flying. This includes returning flights to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago, among other cities. Note that not all of those flights are operating with the same pre-crisis frequencies.
Improving Latin American revenue
In the first quarter of 2021, United took in $392 million in revenue from Latin America, as defined by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Delta took in $381 million, while American Airlines received $482 million in revenue from Latin America.
In the first quarter of 2019, United took in $975 million in revenue from Latin America. Delta received $964 million in revenue from the region. American Airlines, historically a powerful player in Latin America, took in a whopping $1.4 billion in revenue from Latin America.
Now that Delta Air Lines has a partnership with LATAM, that airline will be a much larger force to contend with in Latin America. With partners in Copa, Azul, and Avianca, United has also been a growing force in the region. However, it has maintained a relatively limited network there, funneling most passengers through Houston.
American has a robust Latin American network, with flights running to several countries out of Dallas and Miami. After rebuilding its network and gaining new partnerships, other hubs like New York and Charlotte are also seeing increased services to points south of the US.
All of this indicates that United believes it needs to diversify to compete more effectively. Much of the added new routes out of other hubs like Denver, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Newark are short- and medium-haul flights to points in Central America and the Caribbean. Many countries in these regions have been open for Americans since mid-to-late 2020, which is why United has pointed more of its planes there.
Ultimately, diversifying its hub network to Latin America means more itineraries that the airline can offer and compete against its network peers in the region whether all of these new routes are still around when Europe, Australia, and Asia open up remains to be seen.
Do you think United made the right choice in diversifying its Latin American route network? Let us know in the comments!
The Shaunavon Airport to Receive Provincial Funding
By Penny Schreiner | 6 May 2021
The Shaunavon Airport will receive CAP funding. Photo by Penny Schreiner
Recently the Government of Saskatchewan announced that they would be investing $1.5 million in the Community Airport Partnership Program.
This funding provides improvements to 19 community airports across the province, and Shaunavon is one of those communities that will be receiving funding for work at their airport.
The Town of Shaunavon will receive $3,500 in funding for replacement of an airport beacon light.
Shaunavon Mayor, Kyle Bennett, said, “Ya, we’ve got an existing beacon. It’s a high powered light bulb , so they need replaced every so often. And, with this grant from the government we’re able to save our ratepayers 3500 bucks by replacing this through this program.”
Bennett adds that they are hoping to replace the beacon light as soon as possible.
Since 2007, more than $10.5 million has been invested in Saskatchewan’s community airports. When coupled with 50-50 matching community contributions, the CAP Program has generated more then $21 million in airport improvements.
A total of 38 different communities have benefited since the program began.
Airline industry group wants Ottawa to follow U.K.’s lead, help bring in restart plan
BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | May 7, 2021
OTTAWA — An industry group is calling on Ottawa to follow the United Kingdom’s lead and help bring in a restart plan for Canada’s airline sector.
Mike McNaney, president and chief executive officer of the National Airlines Council of Canada, says the U.K. has announced that starting May 17 it will allow travel to and from a select list of countries.
He says travellers from those destinations will not need to quarantine upon entering the U.K.
McNaney says the initial list of countries announced Friday will expand over time as the public health situation improves.
He says it is time for the federal government to work with the industry in Canada to develop a similar plan.
Travel restrictions introduced through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have been catastrophic for the airline sector, as passenger numbers and profits plummeted and tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs.
“In the midst of the pandemic in February, the British government recognized the critical need to plan for the eventual safe reopening of international travel, and began working with its aviation sector to develop a restart process,” McNaney said Friday in a release.
“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have lost their jobs in the aviation and travel sector, and the scores of communities that have lost service, it is critical that the federal government now follow the U.K. example and work immediately with industry to develop a restart plan.”
McNaney said the Canadian aviation sector has called on the federal government for months to develop a safe restart strategy that outlines the rules that must be met to begin addressing border and travel restrictions.
He said the strategy should use a science-based approach that sets out how Canada will deal with vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers, how quarantine and testing measures will be adjusted, and how it will ensure appropriate electronic capture of health data to facilitate international travel.
Last month before the new federal budget was tabled, McNaney said the council hoped the budget would include a safe aviation restart strategy that included testing and contract tracing but would avoid mandatory vaccine passports.
The council represents large national and international passenger air carriers including Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021
The Canadian Press
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