JetBlue today revealed a sizable investment in the realization of hydrogen-powered flight. The US hybrid carrier’s technology venture subsidiary invested $20.5 million into Universal Hydrogen, which hopes to make hydrogen flight a reality.
Across the globe, airlines are acutely aware of their need to increase the sustainability of flight while cutting emissions. As such, many airlines have committed to net-carbon zero goals by 2050. However, many such technologies remain a long way off and will need significant investment now to really get off the ground. One avenue being explored by several unrelated parties is the possibility of hydrogen-powered flight.
JetBlue’s hydrogen investment
JetBlue today revealed the part that it is playing in securing the next generation of aircraft power. The airline invested $20,500,000 into Universal Hydrogen through one of its subsidiaries. But who is Universal Hydrogen? According to JetBlue, the company is seeking to build a fuel distribution network.
However, while traditional jet fuel relies on pipes, fuel trucks, and refillable fuel tanks, Universal Hydrogen has a different idea in mind. The company is seeking to create a process where newly produced hydrogen would be placed directly into modular capsules. These would then be transported to airports using existing freight networks. The empty hydrogen capsules would be replaced by full ones at the airport, like changing the batteries in your TV remote.
The company also wants to retrofit 40-60 regional aircraft to run on modular hydrogen. It hopes to fly the first commercial flight with such an aircraft in 2025 and even suggests that operating costs would eventually be cheaper than their kerosene-based siblings.
Commenting on the investment, Jim Lockheed, Investment Principal at JetBlue Technology Ventures, said,
“Our investment in Universal Hydrogen is highly aligned with JetBlue’s environmental objectives, and this partnership allows the airline a seat at the table in the fast-developing hydrogen for aviation sector and provides valuable insight into the options, progress, and viability of hydrogen to help decarbonize aircraft operations.”
A long way off?
As mentioned, Universal Hydrogen wants to begin operating commercial hydrogen-powered flights in just four years. However, some feel the technology may take quite a bit longer to be scaled up and rolled out across the board.
Speaking last week, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle suggested that it will take until 2050 for emission-free flight technologies such as hydrogen to really get off the ground. In the meantime, Doyle revealed that sustainable aviation fuels would be vital in reducing the industry’s environmental impact.
Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are another avenue being explored by JetBlue. In August last year, JetBlue revealed that it had become the first US airline to achieve carbon-neutral flying on all of its domestic flights, thanks in part to SAFs, but also through carbon offsetting.
What do you make of JetBlue’s investment in hydrogen-powered flight? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!
Air Europa Will Return To Miami & New York Next Month
Spanish airline Air Europa is all set to resume operations to both Miami and New York next month. Flights to Miami are scheduled to restart from June 12th, while flights to New York will resume two weeks later, on June 25th. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner will operate both routes.
As travel restrictions around the world loosen, we are seeing more and more routes reopen to regular commercial services. The latest to confirm the resumption of routes is Air Europa. The low-cost Spanish carrier is resuming routes from its Madrid base to two US destinations.
The first to resume will be flights to Miami operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from June 12th onwards. Shortly after, on June 25th, the airline will also resume operations to New York on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Both routes will be operated by the airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which reduces fuel consumption, carbon emissions and even cuts around 45 minutes off the flight time.
Other US destinations
Although the airline has only just announced the resumption of flights to Miami and New York, you can book flights to the more US on its website. The airline, based in Mallorca, advertises destinations in the US including, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington.
However, other airlines operate most of these flights thanks to codesharing agreements. Air Europa is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and has additional codesharing agreements with Etihad, Ethiopian, Air Serbia, and Turkish Airlines.
Not all of the routes to the US are currently operating due to low demand and travel restrictions. However, Air Europa clearly believes there is enough demand to restart transatlantic flights. Although some restrictions are still in place, global travel demand does appear to be increasing as the summer season approaches.
Steps to encourage passengers
Just as the airline is looking to increase connections to the US, it is also hoping to encourage people to feel comfortable traveling. Air Europa is working with Amadeus to launch a new digital feature called Traveler ID.
The in-app and online technology will allow travelers to check, track and record health documents. As entry requirements change, many people are unsure what documents they need to enter a country safely. This is even more prevalent as countries introduce loopholes to avoid quarantining.
Passengers traveling on Air Europa will be able to scan, upload, and present health documents during their trip. This ensures they are up to date with government requirements at all times. In a statement, Air Europa commented,
“Offering our passengers a connected and digital solution to facilitate their trip and instill the necessary peace of mind and confidence when getting on the plane is a priority for us. Thanks to Amadeus, Air Europa customers can now digitally comply with health regulations and can demonstrate this at any time during the trip”
Although the new tech isn’t available yet, it might be ready by the time direct flights to the US resume.
Would you be comfortable heading across the Atlantic just yet? Or would you prefer to stay closer to home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Environmental factors most important among ESG: Poll
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address climate change as part of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues of companies and businesses.
In a poll Verdict has conducted to assess which among the three ESG factors is most important as ranked by companies, a majority 45% voted environmental factors to be the most important, while 37% voted corporate governance and 18% voted social factors to be the most important.
Social factors was the second most important, according to 56% of the respondents, followed by corporate governance (23%) and environmental factors (21%).
Corporate governance was accorded the third rank by 40% of the respondents, followed by environmental factors (34%) and social factors (26%).
The analysis is based on 241 responses received from the readers of Verdict between 01 February and 12 April 2021.
Significance of ESG factors
The three ESG factors are usually interlinked, and equally drive sustainable performance of a company or business although at varying degrees. Investors are employing these non-monetary factors in their search for potential growth opportunities and material risks.
Each of the ESG factors have different material effect on a business or sector. Environmental factors, for example, are more important for the renewables sector, but not as important for the services sector.
Environmental issues have currently garnered much attention amid the coronavirus pandemic from a political and economic viewpoint. Climate change, global warming, and carbon emissions are quantifiable and can be easily reported by a company although social and governance factors are equally important to attract investors.
Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
Thai Airways has added four non-stops routes from Europe to Phuket – including from Heathrow – along with two from within Asia. The reason: the opening up of Phuket from July, which is set to be a testbed for the wider country. They’ll also be non-stop because they must be, at least for now.
Thai Airways has put on sale the following six routes, with the summer period coinciding with the low season in Thailand.
- Copenhagen-Phuket: once-weekly from July 2nd-September 24th using the A350-900
- Delhi-Phuket: twice-weekly July 2nd-September 26th; A350-900
- Frankfurt-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-October 1st; B777-300ER
- Hong Kong-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-September 24th; A350-900
- London Heathrow-Phuket: once-weekly July 3rd-September 25th; B777-300ER
- Paris CDG-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-September 24th; B777-300ER
In the recent past, Thai Airways has served Phuket non-stop from Copenhagen, Delhi, Frankfurt, and Hong Hong. Frankfurt, for example, began in November 2016 but became winter-seasonal in 2019, so its summer flights are a return to this flying. Copenhagen, meanwhile, has always been winter-only, until now.
Aircraft will route to and from Bangkok, with Phuket available non-stop only in one direction: to the island. This is because it is a requirement is to fly non-stop into Phuket, at least until connections over Bangkok are permitted once again. For example, Heathrow is scheduled as:
- Bangkok-Heathrow: 00:55-07:15
- Heathrow-Phuket: 12:30-06:10+1 (the next day)
- Phuket-Bangkok: 07:45-09:15
Why is it happening?
Thailand’s borders have remained closed for a long time, with a tentative reopening date of July 1st. This is likely to change further depending on the progress of Thailand’s third wave of coronavirus.
Vaccinations will be all-important to visiting Phuket, among various other requirements, with Phuket expected to lead the country’s recovery effort ahead of other areas. As is often the case with COVID, uncertainty surrounds the situation. In an article published on May 11th, The Points Guy pointed out that the quarantine-free agreement has been reversed.
Europe to Phuket
It’s no surprise that Thai Airways has chosen these six routes to Phuket. After all, most routes were served by the airline before the pandemic hit, showing how important they were to both the island and the carrier.
Indeed, across all airlines, passenger traffic to/from the four European destinations is strong, based on 2019 booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer.
- London: approximately 160,000 point-to-point round-trip passengers
- Frankfurt: 145,000
- Paris: 130,000
- Copenhagen: 66,000
TUI Airways will resume Gatwick-Phuket on a once-weekly basis from this October, while TUI Nordic is set to restart Copenhagen-Phuket from November.
London to Phuket
Thai Airways carried the most London to Phuket passengers in 2019, with about 53,000 estimated to have connected over Suvarnabhumi. It was the carrier’s largest transit market, with the rest of its top-10 being London to Ko Samui, Krabi, Auckland, Hanoi, Perth, Ho Chi Minh City, Bali, Melbourne, and Siem Reap.
The Gulf carriers have really grown in Phuket in recent years, with up to 45 weekly departures in 2019. It is therefore no surprise that they were also important in reaching Phuket, although Qatar and the UAE are now on the UK’s red list of countries.
Qatar Airways via Doha saw the second-highest number of London passengers, followed by Emirates via Dubai. Then it was:
- Singapore Airlines and SilkAir via Singapore
- Etihad Airways over Abu Dhabi
- Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur
- Air China over Beijing Capital
- Aeroflot via Moscow Sheremetyevo
Will you be traveling Thai Airways this year? Comment below!
British Airways increases frequencies for summer season
British Airways has announced that will be increasing frequencies across a number of European routes and plans to add more than 90,000 seats from Tuesday, May 11th. According to the UK flag carrier, the reason why there are more flights to the Canary Islands, Greece and Turkey, is mainly due to “the overwhelming interest” in summer sunshine holidays.
British Airways stated that it will be increasing flight on two routes to the Canary Islands, with prices starting from £49 each way for flights from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Lanzarote. The UK carrier will also be adding 26 additional weekly frequencies to a range of destinations including Corfu, Kos, Paphos, Rhodes, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Bodrum.
British Airways added that passengers can now book flights to the Canary Islands and Greece for travel between 21st June and 5th September, while passengers looking to fly to Bodrum in Turkey can still book, but will have to wait until July 18th.
In a company statement the Director of Networks and Alliances at British Airways, Neil Chernoff said “It’s clear Britons are hoping that their favourite destinations will be open by the time summer comes. We want to provide them with access to book seats to the places they love to help them getaway.”
In addition to adding extra frequencies throughout its European network, British Airways has also announced two new routes to its BA CityFlyer network. The regional airline will operate twice-weekly flights from both Edinburgh Airport (EDI) and London City Airport (LCY) to Guernsey Airport (GCI).
According to the UK carrier, it will operate these flights on Mondays and Friday, which will commence from June 25th. Commenting on the new routes, the Managing Director of BA CityFlyer, Tom Stoddart said that these new routes “will be popular this summer with customers looking for a UK getaway.”
British Airways also added that flights from Edinburgh will be operated by the airline’s Embraer E190 aircraft. and will cost around £78 return. However, the carrier only plans to operate these flights up until September 27th. According to a preliminary schedule seen by AeroNewsX, flight BA2343 will depart Edinburgh Airport at 15:40 on Monday and 12:40 on Fridays arriving in Guernsey at 17:15 and 14:15 respectively.
In terms of flights from London City Airport, British Airways flight BA3281 will depart on Mondays at 11:30 and on Friday at 08:30 with both flights landing at 12:35 on Mondays and 09:35 on Fridays. The UK airline concluded by stating that it also plans to offer return flights from London City Airport for around £90.
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