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How Airlines Are Helping Tackle India’s COVID-19 Spike

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As India continues to fight a tsunami of new cases, airlines have stepped up to provide transport and logistics. From transporting healthcare workers for free to flying invaluable oxygen tanks, airlines have been flying internationally and domestically to boost medical supplies. Let’s find out more about how airlines are helping tackle India’s COVID-19 wave.

Airlines in India
Some airlines are flying special cargo services to bring in desperately needed medical supplies to the country. Photo: Getty Images

Oxygen

Currently, the most pressing need across India is a boost in oxygen supplies across the country. To facilitate this, airlines have begun flying special cargo flights to countries or companies offering or selling oxygen. Considering planes are the fastest way to move cargo, airlines have been stepping up.

SpiceXpress, the cargo arm of SpiceJet, transported 1,000 oxygen concentrators from Hong Kong yesterday, according to Mint. In addition to this flight, the carrier brought in another 800 from Hong Kong last week as well. The airline has plans to fly in as many as 20,000 oxygen concentrators from vendors across the globe as soon as possible due to the demand in India.

SpiceXpress SpiceJet Cargo Getty
SpiceJet’s health arm, SpiceHealth, is the company behind sourcing and ordering thousands of much-needed oxygen. Photo: Getty Images

In a statement, CEO Ajay Singh said,

“Considering the current situation across the country, our focus is to airlift as many oxygen concentrators, BiPAPs and other medical devices as possible to cater to the increasing demand. SpiceJet and SpiceHealth are collaborating actively to contribute in our country’s dedicated efforts to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Staff

With new emergency hospitals and emergency facilities being set up every day, airlines are offering to help fly frontline healthcare workers. Vistara is currently offering all doctors and nurses working for government organizations free tickets across India. Depending on seat availability, the healthcare workers can book any available flights when traveling for service. This includes a return flight once the duty is over.

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In addition to offering tickets, Vistara also plans to work with government hospitals and facilities to move cargo across its network. This includes any urgent medical equipment required and is subject to available space on each flight.

Vistara A321neo
Vistara has offered to fly doctors, nurses, and critical cargo for free for government organizations. Photo: Airbus

Currently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) remains the largest operator of medical supply flights. The IAF is flying in oxygen cylinders from Dubai, Singapore, Germany, and many other countries to cope with the surge.

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Vaccines

One of the sharpest tools to fight the pandemic has been vaccines. To this end, nearly every Indian airline has been flying COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Insitute’s Pune mega hub and from Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad. Currently, IndiGo has emerged as the largest vaccine transporter across the country, accounting for 36.5% of all vaccines flown as of April 12th.

IndiGo A320
IndiGo carries the most vaccines for distribution across India due to its large fleet and robust network. Photo: Getty Images

For now, India continues to add record levels for daily cases, further pressuring the buckling healthcare system. However, support from airlines and companies is proving crucial to saving as many lives as possible.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/how-airlines-are-helping-tackle-indias-covid-19-spike/

Aviation

Jazeera Airways Sees A Smaller Loss Than Last Year Despite COVID

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On May 10th, Jazeera Airways released its earnings figures for the first quarter of 2021. With the ongoing health crisis and tight travel restrictions imposed by the Kuwait government, the airline is still facing losses. However, when compared to the first quarter of 2020, the airline experienced a smaller loss. This was achieved by trimming the airline’s workforce and operations, as well as the absence of a total ban, as was experienced in Kuwait the year prior.

Jazeera Airways is a low-cost carrier that operates out of Kuwait. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

First-quarter earnings for 2021

Announcing its figures yesterday, Jazeera Airways posted an operating revenue of KD8.1 million ($26.92 million). 

When matching up operational revenue with operational expenses, the airline registered a net loss of KD5.2 million ($17.28 million). While not an insignificant figure, it does represent an improvement of 14% from the first quarter of 2020- which saw a net loss of KD6.0 million ($19.94 million). 

One big change from a year ago was the difference in travel restrictions and the airline’s ability to adapt. In March of 2020, with the health crisis just emerging, most airlines were caught off-guard. The Kuwaiti government imposed a complete ban on all commercial traffic, allowing only cargo operations and specially arranged repatriation services. This time around, Jazeera Airways has had the chance to right-size its workforce and its operations.

Additionally, Kuwait now has a slightly less restrictive flight policy. Rather than a blanket ban on all traffic, commercial flights from 35 countries are suspended at Kuwait International Airport. Since February 7th, 2021, the government has also imposed an arrival capacity of 1,000 Kuwaiti nationals per day.

Jazeera Airways operates an exclusively Airbus A320 fleet. Photo: Jazeera Airways

Passenger traffic numbers

The airline reports that the number of passengers flown during the quarter reached 104,116- which is down from 496,484 during the same period in 2020. This is due to ongoing restrictions at Kuwait International Airport (KWI).

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The airline’s load factor was 58.4%, while its yield increased by 105.2% to KD74.9 ($249). 

Jazeera Airways’ chairman credits some of its passenger traffic to connecting flights, as well as new destinations (with more on the way):

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“While restrictions continued at Kuwait International Airport during the quarter, Jazeera focused on connecting flights, targeting underserved segments of passengers within its network, which accounted for 28% of total passengers. The airline also launched two new destinations and acquired six new traffic rights as it prepares to launch new routes in the summer season. Overall, Jazeera acquired the largest market share at KWI during the month of March despite limited capacity.” -Marwan Boodai, Jazeera Airways Chairman

Jazeera Airways managed to grab a 25% market share of all passengers flown through Kuwait International Airport. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr 

Positive news during the first quarter

Indeed, the airline has had some positive news during the quarter. It launched two new routes to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “These routes serve a resilient demand for travel by expatriates in the region,” the airline states.

During the period, the airline also took delivery of its sixth Airbus A320neo aircraft. In total, four A320neos will be delivered over the course of 2021.

The airline expects restrictions at Kuwait International Airport to be lifted over the remainder of the year – particularly as vaccination rates improve.

The airline’s chairman concludes by saying that Jazeera is in a strong financial position with an experienced team. “The airline has a solid portfolio of travel rights, an efficient fleet, and a network that connects passengers from point to point,” he adds.

Have you flown with Jazeera Airways yet? Share your experience by leaving a comment.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/jazeera-airways-smaller-loss-q1-21/

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Oman Rejigs COVID Quarantine Rules For Arriving Passengers

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Also exempt are diplomats, health workers, and their families, as well as airline crew. However, people in these categories are subject to the procedures adopted upon entering  Oman.

With these measures, in combination with vaccination efforts, the Sultanate of Oman hopes to crush its daily case counts and bring them under control.

What do you think of these travel restrictions and requirements? Do you have plans to visit Oman soon? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/oman-arrivals-covid-rules/

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KLM Halves The Time Spent By Crew On Indian Layovers

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KLM is cutting the time its crew spends in India during layovers. Instead of spending 48 hours on the grounds, crews will turn around in 24 hours instead. The decision to halve the layover time comes as foreign airlines avoid leaving their crew in India due to the lack of healthcare infrastructure available.

KLM Boeing 777-306(ER) PH-BVS
KLM is one of many foreign airlines looking for a way to reduce or even skip layovers in India for their crews. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Half

According to the Times of India, KLM has halved the amount of time its crews spend in India on layovers. The carrier currently operates seven weekly passenger flights, four from New Delhi and three from Mumbai, and one weekly cargo-only service to Mumbai. From May 5th onwards, crews on all these routes will not spend more than 24 hours on the ground.

KLM has also shifted all layovers from the worst-hit capital of Delhi to Mumbai instead, keeping crew onboard during the connecting flight between the cities. Once they arrive in Mumbai, crews are directly escorted to a nearby hotel and cannot leave until the next flight. This enables crews to avoid undergoing an RT-PCR test in India.

KLM crew getty
KLM crews will not undergo a test upon arrival in India if they remain in their hotel. Photo: Getty Images

India is currently the global COVID-19 hotspot and poses a huge risk to anyone entering the country at this time. Some have said that crews are asking to be exempt from the RT-PCR requirements as they do not want to test positive in India and risk being quarantined for 14 days. Moreover, the lack of available medical facilities has also increased the risk for any crews being quarantined in India.

Not the only one

KLM is far from the only airline looking to reduce its staff’s time in the country. Lufthansa has chosen to avoid crew layovers in India altogether and instead set up a temporary crew base in Dubai. This means all crew changes on India inbound and outbound flights occur in Dubai, and no crew member has to leave the aircraft during turnarounds. However, this means all routes will require a stopover in the Middle East hub.

Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa Cargo, India Aid
Lufthansa is making a stop in Dubai on India-bound routes to change crews and avoid layovers in the country. Photo: Oliver Rösler via Lufthansa

Similarly, United has also stopped having its crew layover in India. Instead, the airline flies in a backup crew on the inbound flight, which takes over on the return leg. This came after Indian authorities asked a United crew to take an RT-PCR test on arrival, forcing them to fly out without any passengers instead of taking the tests.

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Restricted flights

While several airlines continue to fly services to India, the passengers who can travel has been greatly restricted. On KLM flights, which were recently banned also, only Dutch nationals and a handful of others are eligible to fly. Similarly, travel bans from the US, Germany, and others means there are few passengers on these flights.

Instead, many routes are operating due to the critical cargo they are carrying into India. This includes crucial medical supplies like oxygen concentrators, ventilators, masks, and many more.

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What do you think about KLM’s decision to reduce layover time? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/klm-india-layover-crew-time/

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Retired Air Marshal to head Lockhead Martin

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Retired Air Marshal Warren McDonald AO, CSC has been appointed to serve in Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand’s leadership team from 1 July
Retired Air Marshal Warren McDonald AO, CSC has been appointed to serve in Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand’s leadership team from 1 July.

Air Marshal (Ret’d) Warren McDonald has been appointed to replace Joe North as Lockheed Martin’s chief executive in Australia and New Zealand.

McDonald will serve in the business’ leadership team from 1 July, before assuming the senior role later this year. North will remain in the role in the interim to ease the transition.

Once assuming the role of chief executive, McDonald will report to Ray Piselli, vice president, international business, Lockheed Martin Global Business Development.

Piselli welcomed the new appointment, which he said would reinforce Lockheed Martin’s commitment to supporting the ADF’s strategic objectives.

“Warren’s service, including as Deputy Chief of Air Force and Chief of Joint Capabilities, will bring unique insights, experience and expertise as we support the customer to realise the vision for a fully integrated, networked defence force to achieve the military superiority necessary to meet challenges of the 21st century battlefield,” Piselli said.

“We are delighted to have Warren join the Lockheed Martin team and know that he is no stranger to Lockheed Martin capabilities first-hand, having seen operational service in Australia and overseas as well as flying in Lockheed Martin aircraft during his time as a RAAF pilot.”

Commenting on his appointment, McDonald, who served over 40 years in the RAAF, said he was looking forward to contributing to the modernisation of Australia’s defence capability amid growing regional threats.

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“Lockheed Martin is at the forefront of delivering state-of-the-art defence capabilities for Australia and across the region in the air, land, sea, space and cyber domains,” he said.

“I look forward to working with the team and partnering with the customer and industry to accelerate the development and deployment of world-leading sovereign capabilities for Australia in the 21st century challenges.”

Before rising through the ranks and serving as the inaugural Chief of Joint Capabilities, McDonald served as a pilot, logging over 5,000 hours in the P-3 Orion.

The new appointee’s rotational assignments included Squadron, Wing and Group appointments, a number of deployed commands, and a stint as Deputy Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force.

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Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/05/retired-air-marshal-to-head-lockhead-martin/

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