ANA will install its innovative hands-free toilet door system on 21 planes, with the first coming into use on May 1st. The system allows passengers to open and close the door with minimal contact, a growing requirement on flights. Let’s find out more about this latest innovation in onboard hygiene.
ANA first began testing the hands-free bathroom door in August as a way to reduce passenger touchpoints. After nearly nine months, the system is set to go into regular use on 21 ANA aircraft. The system will be added on 11 Boeing 787-8s, two 787-9s, and eight 777-200s. All these planes will fly on domestic routes, limiting the rollout for now.
So how does it work? The system works by allowing passengers to use their elbows and wrists to operate the bathroom door. The lock can easily be opened due to the larger knob compared to standard doors, while the handle can easily be pushed by the elbow. Overall, the system reduces door touchpoints substantially.
The airline decided to install these newly designed handles after feedback from passengers during the test run. Considering the need to reduce touchpoints across the cabin in general, bathrooms are a key focus area.
The new system can be found on some widebody domestic routes in Japan starting May 1st. However, ANA is also planning a larger rollout for all of its aircraft across international and domestic routes. In a statement, Shinichi Inoue, Senior Executive Vice President, Customer Experience Management & Planning, said,
“Guided by the principles of ANA Care Promise, we have continued to invest in the development and implementation of innovative technologies because the health and safety of passengers and our staff is the top priority…The hands-free lavatory door is the latest example of us putting this principle into practice as we look for ways to make the travel experience safer and more convenient.”
Here to stay
While vaccines will slowly return travel to normalcy in the coming years, many safety features are here to stay. Some airlines have announced that thorough cleaning processes will remain even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat (although it’s to be seen if most airlines follow up on that).
Similarly, ANA’s new hands-free lavatory door will remain in use for years to come, well after COVID (hopefully). Indeed, the virus has brought airline hygiene and cleanliness to the fore, with passengers becoming increasingly sensitive to protocols. However, better hygiene is always a good thing and will help prevent the transmission of other diseases too.
For now, passengers flying with ANA will be happy to know that there is one less touchpoint to deal with while flying.
What do you think about ANA’s latest implementation? Let us know in the comments!
Qantas Future Small Plane: The Embraer E2 Family Vs Airbus A220
With Qantas planning to replace its aging fleet of Fokker jets and Boeing 717s, aircraft manufacturers are competing for the lucrative order. Boeing lacks a plane in the regional jet space. But Airbus has the A220, and Embraer has its E2 jets. For Qantas, it looks like being a run-off between these two plane makers.
Passenger capacity one metric to compare the planes
While it’s not just about passenger capacity, it is one way to measure how the Embraer and Airbus offering stack up.
Qantas’ Boeing 717s seat between 110 and 125 passengers. Its Fokker 100s seat 100 passengers. Qantas uses these planes on skinnier trunk routes, regional routes, fly-in-fly-out routes, and charter work. The planes, especially the Fokkers, can fly into some pretty challenging airstrips.
Embraer has three jets in its E2 family, ranging from the 80-90 seat E175-E2 to the 135-145 seat E195-E2. Airbus offers the A220-100 and A220-300. The A220-100 seats between 100-135 passengers and the bigger A220-300 can seat between 120-150 passengers.
Other all-important factors in the choice include final price, range, robustness, operating costs, maintenance costs, and green credentials.
Airbus gets in early to line-up potential order from Qantas
The Airbus A220 is popular in North American and Europe but has not yet gained significant sales traction in the Asia-Pacific region. But that has not stopped Airbus from touting the plane throughout the region. In October 2019, Airbus sent an A220-300 on a seven-country Asia-Pacific showcase tour.
That tour included a pitstop in Sydney and a demonstration flight that included Qantas CEO Alan Joyce among the passengers.
“To me, it looks like a very good aircraft,” Mr Joyce said at the time. “I think passengers would love it.”
The A220-100 might be a better fit for Qantas. Its passenger capacity better matches that of the existing Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s. The Airbus A220-100 has a range of 6.390 kilometers, comfortably covering the entire Australian continent and reaching into much of southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific.
Embraer’s E2 jet cannot be ruled out
While Airbus gets a lot of the attention in the race to snare the Qantas order, you cannot rule out Embraer. Speaking to the Perth branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society this week, Paulo Dias, Asia-Pacific Sales Director for Embraer Commercial Aircraft, said that while the A220 was an admirable plane, Embraers E2 jets had some distinct advantages that made it an ideal choice for Qantas.
“I think the A220 is a great airplane,” he said. “I think one of the benefits of the E2s would be the lower operating costs. That’s what this machine was made for – lower fuels burn, it’s a greener machine, and of course, maintenance costs.
“Designing an aircraft is all about trade offs. You can’t have everything. For this aircraft (the E2) we have optimized economics. It’s got the best fuel burn and maintenance costs hands down.
“Anyone looking at these aircraft would quickly recognise the E2’s profit potential compared to other platforms out there.”
Is Airbus a better for Qantas?
Qantas is continually chasing profits, making Paulo Dias’ comments a gentle but perfect pitch to Qantas. But the E175-E2 may be too small for Qantas requirements, noting one of the aircraft types Qantas wants to replace is the 110-125 seat Boeing 717. The next plane up, the 135-145 seat E190-E2 may be too big to take over routes now served by the 100 seat Fokker 100s.
Would Qantas consider splitting its order between two aircraft types – the E175-E2 and E90-ED2, taking some of both? Or does the A220-100 hit the happy middle ground for Qantas? As Paulo Dias notes, they are all excellent planes offering solid cost efficiencies and good environmental credentials. Qantas is expected to announce an order to begin to replace its Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s within the next 12 months Many might argue Embraer will have to put in a lot of legwork to snare this lucrative order from Qantas.
COVID-19: Air Canada extends flight ban from India to June 22
By Eric Stober, Global News | May 13, 2021
Air Canada has extended the flight ban from India to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the federal government has not announced the same.
“We have further extended the suspension of our flights from India until June 22,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
“We did this in anticipation of the existing suspension on flights between the two countries being extended.”
The flight ban from India and Pakistan was originally announced by the federal government April 22 and was set for 30 days. Air Canada does not operate flights to or from Pakistan.
Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Allison St. Jean said in a statement that the ministry is monitoring the COVID-19 situation in India and Pakistan closely and will determine next steps based on “evidence and advice of public health experts.” She did not confirm whether the federal government will extend its ban.
“Any recent decisions announced by Air Canada are operational and made on their own accord,” St. Jean said.
COVID-19: India struggles to vaccinate citizens amid supply shortage
The ban was initially set to protect Canada from the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly in India.
Canada has not identified the variant as a “variant of concern” (VOC) yet but instead as a “variant of interest” — although the U.K. and the World Health Organization recently labelled it a VOC.
Canada’s ban does not affect cargo flights and only applies to direct flights. Travellers from India can still enter the country indirectly, but they must present a negative COVID-19 test before departing for Canada.
The India variant has already been detected in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
India is still grappling with the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Deaths in the country from the virus recently passed a quarter million, while nearly 400,000 new cases are reported daily.
At the time the federal government first announced the ban, half of air travellers arriving in Canada that had tested positive for COVID-19 had come from India, even though only one-fifth of flights were from the country, according to Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
However, since the ban, it has been revealed that 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases from all Canadian air travel came from domestic flights, according to federal data.
There are currently no federal bans on domestic flight travel.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for additional travel measures, such as a mandatory quarantine from entering the country via land.
— With files from Reuters, David Lao, Saba Aziz, Rachel Gilmore and Amanda Connelly
Edmonton Airport, JOIN & IAC sign MoU
By Yasmin Turner – May 13, 2021
NTT, Edmonton International Airport (EIA) and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN), with support from the Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC), announced today that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly develop smart transportation projects.
The MOU includes plans to deploy a Smart Solutions pilot to deliver a digital on demand bus service in and around EIA’s Airport City. This pilot will leverage a data-driven approach to improve the commuter experience and generate behaviour insights for future solutions.
EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport and serves 8.2 million passengers per year with non-stop service to 50 destinations worldwide.
“Thanks to our collaboration with NTT and JOIN, we will be able to deliver smart transportation services and solutions related to on-demand service and Mobility as a Service (MaaS),” said Tom Ruth, president & CEO, Edmonton International Airport.
“Enhancing passenger experience and improving social, environmental, and economic impacts are some of EIA’s strategic initiatives that we believe will be accelerated by this partnership with NTT and JOIN.”
By leveraging NTT Smart Solutions, the initial phase of the pilot will focus on on-demand ride-hailing, flexible bus routing, scheduling and occupancy. Passengers will benefit from improved booking options with online booking via a mobile app and web portal.
The service will allow for a near door-to-door service with bus routes and schedules adjusting in real-time to best suit commuter convenience. Drivers will access a dedicated driver application providing route guidance between virtual stops while enabling them to manage trips.
Occupancy information will be calculated for administrators to manage the operation in real-time and predicted occupancy would provide insights into the number of riders expected at select virtual stops in the future.
The on-demand bus solution will be managed by a centralised Smart Transit Central System that will allocate a shuttle to pick up passengers from their requested locations and then take them to their destinations via the best route calculated in real-time.
Exchange Income Corporation Maintains Record of Consistently Solid Performance One Year into Pandemic
Net Debt Remains Lower than Q1 2020
WINNIPEG, MB, May 13, 2021 /CNW/ – Exchange Income Corporation (TSX: EIF) (“EIC” or the “Corporation”) a diversified, acquisition-oriented company focused on opportunities in the aviation, aerospace and manufacturing sectors, reported its financial results for the three-months ending March 31, 2021. All amounts are in Canadian currency.
Q1 Financial Highlights
- Generated Revenue of $301 million, a decrease of $6 million or 2% compared to $307 million in the prior period
- Consolidated EBITDA of $64 million, an increase of $7 million or 12% from $57 million in the prior period
- Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures rebounded near pre-pandemic levels, producing $20 million or $0.55 per share compared to $2 million or $0.07 per share in the prior period
- Adjusted Net Earnings of $11 million or $0.30 per share compared to $2 million or $0.06 per share in the prior period
- Trailing Twelve Month Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures payout ratio improved to 62% from 68% at March 31, 2020
Mike Pyle, CEO of EIC, commented, “The leadership teams at our subsidiaries have done a remarkable job over the past year. Through their dedication, ingenuity and resolve, they have successfully met the many challenges posed by the pandemic including protecting their customers and employees, dealing with sudden, dramatic shifts in business volumes, delivering essential, frontline services to our remote, northern communities and providing essential products to our customers. Throughout all of this, the management teams have never lost their focus on the business, as evidenced by this past quarter’s results. For evidence of this, you need only to look at our Trailing Twelve Month Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures payout ratio which, at 62%, is lower than it was a year ago.”
Selected Financial Highlights
(all amounts in thousands except % and share data)
|per share (basic)||$0.20||($0.15)|
|Adjusted Net Earnings2||$10,551||$2,058||+413%|
|per share (basic)||$0.30||$0.06||+400%|
|Trailing Twelve Month Adjusted Net Earnings Payout Ratio (basic)||145%||82%|
|Free Cash Flow3||$41,642||$38,749||+7%|
|per share (basic)||$1.17||$1.12||+4%|
|Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures4||$19,578||$2,299||+752%|
|per share (basic)||$0.55||$0.07||+686%|
|Trailing Twelve Month Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures Payout Ratio (basic)||62%||68%|
|1 EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization, other non-cash items such as gains or losses recognized on the fair value of contingent consideration items, asset impairment and restructuring costs, and any unusual non-operating one-time items such as acquisition costs. EBITDA is not a defined performance measure under International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”), but it is used by management to assess the performance of the Corporation and its segments.|
|2 Adjusted Net Earnings is defined as Net Earnings adjusted for acquisition costs, amortization of intangible assets, interest accretion on acquisition contingent consideration and non-recurring items. Adjusted Net Earnings is a performance measure, along with Free Cash Flow less Maintenance Capital Expenditures, which the Corporation uses to assess cash flow available for distribution to shareholders.|
|3 Free Cash Flow is a performance measure used by management and investors to analyze the cash generated from operations before the seasonal impact of changes in working capital items or other unusual items. Free Cash Flow for the period is equal to cash flow from operating activities as defined by IFRS, adjusted for changes in non-cash working capital, acquisition costs, principal payments on right of use lease liabilities and any unusual non-operating one-time items.|
|4 Maintenance Capital Expenditures is not an IFRS measure. Capital expenditures are characterized as either Maintenance or Growth Capital Expenditures. Maintenance Capital Expenditures are those required to maintain the operations of the Corporation at its current level.|
Review of Q1 Financial Results
Revenue generated by the Corporation during the first quarter was $301 million, a decrease of $6 million or 2% from the comparative period. Revenue in the Aerospace & Aviation segment decreased by $17 million while revenue in the Manufacturing segment increased by $11 million. COVID-19 impacted revenues for the entire quarter this year as opposed to the first quarter of 2020, which experienced strong revenues in the first two months before the onset of the pandemic in March. Decreased demand for travel has been the single biggest factor impacting the Aerospace & Aviation segment revenue, reducing passenger volumes in our airlines and cutting the need for Regional One’s parts and service and leasing businesses. Notably, the overall industry has improved from its lows and travel in certain jurisdictions has started to resume, and Regional One experienced a sequential improvement compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 from parts sales and lease revenue. These reductions compared to the prior period were partially offset by improvements in cargo, charter, rotary EMS and aerospace revenue, including greater on-demand ISR aircraft utilization. The increase in Manufacturing segment revenue is mainly attributable to the acquisition of WIS in the third quarter of 2020.
EBITDA generated by the Corporation during the first quarter was $64 million compared to $57 million in the comparative period, an increase of 12%. EBITDA in the Aerospace & Aviation segment was up $4 million compared to the prior period. While scheduled passenger operations continued to feel the impact of COVID-19, strong cargo, charter and rotary wing operations, and improvements in the aerospace operations, helped mitigate these reductions. Provincial’s aerospace operations benefitted from contract price and scope escalators and increased on-demand ISR aircraft utilization. Additionally, cost reduction measures through scheduled frequency reductions, labour rationalization and various other strategies that took some time to implement in 2020 were meaningfully realized in the first quarter of 2021. Regional One’s EBITDA was directly impacted by the reduction in revenue. EBITDA in the Manufacturing segment also increased by $4 million. EBITDA at Quest was higher than the prior period reflecting the acquisition of WIS in the third quarter of 2020 with no comparative in the first quarter of 2020. The balance of the segment collectively also experienced an increase in EBITDA.
Carmele Peter, EIC’s President, stated, “There have been numerous challenges for our teams this quarter. Flight operations have had to react to changing vaccine rollout strategies and regions coming into and out of restrictions. Manufacturing facilities have experienced delays and inefficiencies as health restrictions change and we manage health and safety protocols to keep our employees safe. In addition, required employee absenteeism has provided an additional challenge for management. Quest even had to deal with a March snowstorm that caused production interruptions at its Texas facility for several days. Throughout all of this, our teams have made thoughtful decisions that protect our employees and customers while also providing the best path forward for the business.”
Darryl Bergman, CFO of EIC, also noted. “The last year has been a challenge for companies around the globe and the airline industry is one of the most severely impacted industries. These past twelve months have proven that, with EIC’s unique collection of well-managed companies in niche businesses, we are not a typical aviation company. During this time, we have remained extremely active, fully investing in Maintenance and Growth Capital Expenditures, acquiring companies and continuing to pay our monthly dividend while also reducing our debt, net of cash. Clearly, investors also see the value of the business model, as evidenced by the success of our $80 million bought deal share offering subsequent to the end of the quarter. Finally, I am pleased to announce that Richard Wowryk, formerly EIC’s Corporate Controller, has been promoted to the position of EIC’s Chief Accounting Officer.”
“We are beginning to see positive signs across our existing businesses,” continued Mr. Pyle. “The pace of vaccine distribution in Canada is accelerating and the US has already vaccinated a substantial portion of its population. We can now envision a time in the not-too-distant future when life returns to something that looks more normal. At EIC, we have a proven track record of successfully growing our business through accretive acquisitions, and we need to be ready to move when we identify opportunities. This thinking underpins the recent completion of our $80 million bought deal public offering of common shares. We expect to grow, and our acquisition team is actively assessing potential opportunities. We also understand the imperative of maintaining a strong balance sheet. This infusion of liquidity will help us meet both objectives.”
Mr. Pyle concluded by saying, “So, while management is maintaining our caution in the face of a pandemic that continues to prove unpredictable in domestic and international markets, EIC is also extremely confident moving forward. Our business model has met the tests of the last year and has demonstrated its inherent resiliency. We’re seeing the early signs of recovery and pent-up demand across our businesses, we have secured the additional liquidity we need to take advantage of imminent opportunities, and we have a demonstrated ability to complete accretive acquisitions that build our enterprise.”
About Exchange Income Corporation
Exchange Income Corporation is a diversified acquisition-oriented company, focused in two sectors: aerospace & aviation services and equipment, and manufacturing. The Corporation uses a disciplined acquisition strategy to identify already profitable, well-established companies that have strong management teams, generate steady cash flow, operate in niche markets and have opportunities for organic growth. For more information on the Corporation, please visit www.ExchangeIncomeCorp.ca.
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