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Let vaccinated ignore lockdowns, says Canberra CEO

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A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER taxiing at Canberra Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron has said vaccinated Australians should be able to ignore lockdowns and closed borders as an incentive to take up the jab.

“Vaccination rates are not going to increase unless they explain what the benefits are,” he said.

Byron’s intervention came amid reports Australians are choosing not to become inoculated due to fears over the safety of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and low levels of the virus in the community.

As well as preventing deaths and hospitalisations, evidence suggests vaccines can also stop those infected with COVID from passing it onto others – leading some to argue aviation can’t return to normal until most of the population has been inoculated.

“If you’ve had a vaccine, why would state border quarantine rules apply to you?” Byron told The Canberra Times.

“We accept that (following an outbreak) if you’ve been in a close contact site like a restaurant where there’s been a positive case, there will be restrictions.

“But the indiscriminate way that returning travellers from city lockdown places are put into home isolation — you ought to be exempt from that if you’ve had a vaccination.”

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Byron was referring to the practice of passengers returning from ‘hotspot’ locations but then being asked to isolate at home even if they’re in another state.

Last week, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was a “70 to 80 per cent” drop in health workers turning up for appointments since links were made between the jab and blood clots.

The fears led the Australian government to change its policy so that it would prioritise administering the Pfizer vaccine to under 50s rather than the Oxford vaccine that the country has in far greater supply.

Qantas’ chief executive has repeatedly insisted Qantas’ policy is that international travellers must be vaccinated.

In December he said, “Our position on this is clear. We have a duty of care to our people and our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement for travel on our international services.

“There will be some exceptions for people who can’t – for medical reasons – take vaccines. And our flights to New Zealand will probably be exempt given their success at controlling COVID as well, just as domestic flights will be exempt.

“I acknowledge some people are opposed to vaccines in-principle. We respect that. But in return, we ask everyone who travels on Qantas and Jetstar to respect our safety protocols – which will include a COVID vaccine for international flights, at least until the pandemic is under control overseas.”

Qantas also revealed this month that border closures resulting from the Northern Beaches COVID cluster at Christmas cost the airline $400 million in lost earnings.

The outbreak in Sydney caused large areas of the city to go into a snap lockdown in December and January, which caused all other states and territories to impose travel restrictions.

The timing was particularly problematic given airlines only weeks before chalked up record sales due to most borders opening up for the first time in months.

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Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/04/let-vaccinated-ignore-lockdowns-says-canberra-ceo/

Aviation

REX to take on QANTAS with low fares and a larger Boeing 737-800 fleet

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REX (Regional Express Airlines) Boeing 737-8FE WL VH-RQC (msn 33797) SYD (John Adlard). Image: 952671.

REX issued this guidance:

Rex wishes to update the market on the trading conditions of its operations in this Financial Year (FY).

On the regional market front, the overall demand is back to 60% of pre-COVID levels but the recovery is uneven across the States. In Queensland for example, demand has exceeded preCOVID levels with our capacity back to 100% of what it was. Western Australia is also recovering very strongly and is approaching pre-COVID levels.

Rex is cautiously expanding its regional network in an effort to stimulate demand. We are keeping our capacity growth about 5% ahead of demand growth. Rex’s regional capacity is therefore 35% of what it was pre-COVID.

Rex has embarked on an aggressive expansion on new regional routes. Rex started operations in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie on March 28, 2021. These two large regional cities were monopolized by Qantas. Combined the two centers had about 40% of the number of passengers in Rex’s entire regional network.

Rex will also soon be announcing entry into other Qantas monopoly ports.

With the cessation of JobKeeper and the huge reduction in government assistance from April onwards, Rex’s regional operations appear to be slightly loss-making at the current demand levels. Rex is hopeful that demand will increase in the months ahead to return the regional operations to profitability.

Rex has also successfully launched five domestic routes since March and plans to launch more as it hopes to augment its jet fleet from the six Boeing 737-800NGs currently to 10 by the end of the year.

Rex’s entry into the domestic market has been predictably met by typical Qantas predatory behavior of capacity dumping.

Rex is determined to stand its ground and has introduced neverseen-before full service fares of $39 between Sydney and Melbourne.

Rex’s cash position has improved exponentially. Without counting the cash injection of $50 million from the convertible note issued to PAG (out of a maximum of $150 million), Rex’s unencumbered cash reserves increased by 1,000% compared to March 2020 due to the very strong advanced bookings on its five new domestic and two new regional routes. Rex expects this to improve further as more routes are introduced.

Rex believes that it will finish the FY 2021 with a breakeven situation. Rex is one of the rare airlines in the world able to achieve this incredible outcome during the pandemic whilst at the same time funding the expansion of the business into the domestic airline market.

Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 60 Saab 340 and six Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to 61 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

In addition to the airline Rex, the Rex Group comprises wholly owned subsidiaries Pel-Air Aviation (air freight, aeromedical and charter operator) and the two pilot academies, Australian Airline Pilot Academy in Wagga Wagga and Ballarat.

REX Route Map:

Top Copyright Photo: REX (Regional Express Airlines) Boeing 737-8FE WL VH-RQC (msn 33797) SYD (John Adlard). Image: 952671.

REX aircraft slide show:

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/05/10/rex-to-take-on-qantas-with-low-fares-and-a-larger-boeing-737-800-fleet/

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Germany Set To Replace Its P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft With The P-8A Poseidon

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P-8 Poseidon for Germany
A file photo of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon releasing flares over the sea. (Photo: NAVAIR)

The selection of the P-8 Poseidon emerged during a parliamentary interrogation after the United States approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of five aircraft to Germany.

The Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (BMVg), the German Federal Ministry of Defence, is looking to the Boeing P-8A Poseidon as the temporary replacement for its ageing fleet of Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, according to Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn.

Silberhorn, as quoted by the German newspaper Behoerden Spiegel, answered to questions from Bundestag members, on behalf of the Federal Minister of Defence, about the proposals from Boeing and France.

Answering about Boeing’s proposal, which would make Germany the third operator of the P-8A in the European continent, the Poseidon was described as an equal replacement for the Orion:

“The capabilities of Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon weapon system basically correspond to those of the P-3C Orion. Only the P-8A Poseidon weapon system could ensure a seamless and timely capability transition if a Foreign Military Sales contract were concluded before the summer break in 2021. The possibility of operation for an interim period in the overall system of the Bundeswehr using the existing infrastructure of the base in Nordholz would be given.”

The U.S. Department of State has already approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of five P-8 Poseidons to Germany in March 2021, for an estimated total cost of 1.77 billion USD. According to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the German Government requested, together with the five P-8As, the Multifunctional Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS JTRS 5), Northrop Grumman’s LN-251 Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS), Wescam MX-20 EO/IR (Electro-Optical/InfraRed) imaging systems, AN/ AAQ-2(V) I Acoustic System, AN/APY-10 radar, ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures, AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Counter Measures and NexGen Missile Warning Sensors.

The 1.77B USD estimated price is however provisional, as Germany has not yet officially selected the P-8 and signed the contract with Boeing. Also, the acquisition program has not yet been approved by the Bundestag. The DSCA notification highlighted that this sale would allow an easy transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A, allowing the sustainment of the German Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years, which contrasts the German claim that this will be only a temporary replacement until the new Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) is ready to be introduced in service.

The other proposal was submitted by France, with an offer for four Atlantique 2 (ATL2) aircraft, the modernized variant of the Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic. Answering about this proposal, Silberhorn said to the Bundestag:

“The number and the expected readiness of the aircraft on offer will foreseeably not be able to cover the requirements of potential future operational commitments as well as the needs for crew regeneration and for conducting training and reconnaissance flights.”

P-8 for Germany
A German P-3C Orion flies over the area of ​​operation during the EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta in the in 2019. (Photo: Bundeswehr / Sascha Linkemeyer)

Last month, Naval News was able to obtain confirmation about this proposal from a French Armed Forces spokesperson, who offered some more details:

“To allow Germany to continue to have a maritime patrol aviation capability between the withdrawal from service of its current P-3C Orion aircraft and the arrival of the new maritime patrol aircraft that will be developed under the MAWS (Maritime Airborne Warfare System) program, France is proposing four refurbished Atlantique 2 (ATL2) aircraft. Depending on Germany’s needs, the four aircraft can be sold once the renovation to std6 has been taken over by the Germans. The four planes will be at the latest aircraft standard (standard 6), which successfully passed the initial operational capability milestone of the French Navy in 2020. They will have a range of high-tech equipment enabling them to carry out efficient maritime patrol missions. The proposal includes training for the implementation of the devices and their maintenance. As the French offer is based on operational cooperation, ongoing discussions are taking place both between the respective naval headquarters and between the defense ministries.”

As a side note, the German Navy has already operated the Atlantic in the past between 1963 and 2005, with 20 aircraft delivered and some converted to perform SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) missions. The ATL2 was considered as a replacement, but ultimately the choice went to ex-Dutch P-3 Orions. Eight Orions are still in service, however half of them are inoperable “due to damage that cannot be repaired economically”. Out of those four aircraft, according to the government, only two aircraft will probably still be usable from 2023. According to Cirium fleets data mentioned by FlightGlobal, the German Orions have an average age 37.8 years.

Initially, the P-3C was supposed to be retired in 2035, when MAWS is expected to be ready for service. The German Federal Ministry of Defence, however, ended in June 2020 the modernization plan of the Orion because of “costs and technical difficulties”, beginning a market survey to avoid an unacceptable and taking into account all interactions with the Franco-German MAWS program.

The MAWS cooperation was announced during the 2018 ILA airshow in Berlin, when the two countries signed a letter of intent to jointly develop the next generation maritime patrol aircraft. The candidate aircraft, which was unveiled at Euronaval 2018, is the Airbus A320M3A (Modular Multi-Mission Aircraft) in its MPA variant, developed from the commercial A320, and specifically the relatively new A320neo (new engine option) variant.

The A320M3A, according to Airbus, is designed to fulfill a range of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) roles, particularly maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare, with the possibility to be outfitted with modular roll-on/roll-off payloads for airlift missions. The advantages mentioned by the producer are the low operational and life-cycle costs, the high reliability and the worldwide supply chain proven by the baseline aircraft in commercial service. The concept is similar to what Boeing is doing with the 737NG (Next Generation), which evolved notably in the P-8A Poseidon and the E-7A Wedgetail.

Among the modifications, the aircraft is expected to incorporate a new glass cockpit and digital fly-by-wire flight control system to provide safe and efficient flight performance, large bubble observation windows on both sides of the fuselage for visual observation and internal weapon bay. The ASW variant of the aircraft will be armed with up to eight torpedoes and an unspecified number of sonobuoys to detect, localise, identify, track and eventually engage hostile underwater targets.

Additionally, the A320M3A will receive a self-protection system and EO/IR sensors beneath the nose, a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) under the fuselage and a magnetic anomaly detector mounted behind the tail, as well as secure communication systems. Other mission-specific roll-on/roll-off payloads carried by the aircraft include a C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) suite, a SIGINT system, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), an acoustic system and a surface search radar.

The selection of the P-8A Poseidon is not an isolated “surprise” acquisition program in Germany. Last year, the German Air Force decided to replace part of its Tornado fleet with about 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 E/A-18G Growlers to replace the nuclear capability of the Tornado IDS and the Electronic Warfare (EW) capability of the Tornado ECR, respectively. The choice was due to the faster integration of the B-61 nuclear bomb on the American-made aircraft, which forced a change in the initial plan to replace the entire Tornado fleet with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

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Source: https://theaviationist.com/2021/05/10/p-8-germany/

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Ryanair announces more flights to Portugal after making the Green List

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Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava - Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

Ryanair has announced even more flights to Portugal, with over 175,000 extra seats from May 17, 2021 as the country makes it onto the UK’s green listed destinations.

Route Departing Flights Per Week
Stansted Faro 17 (+16)
Lisbon 14 (+11)
Porto 14 (+11)
Manchester Faro 14 (+12)
Lisbon 4 (+4)
Porto 3 (+3)
Birmingham Faro 3 (+3)
Leeds Faro 3 (+3)
Bournemouth Faro 3 (+3)
Bristol Faro 3 (+3)
East Midlands Faro 3 (+3)
Liverpool Faro 3 (+3)

Ryanair’s Director of Marketing, Dara Brady, said:

“We are very pleased to announce 175,000 extra seats to Portugal on the back of the UK’s green list. With quarantine-free travel now permitted to the likes of Faro, Lisbon and Porto, even more flights have been added to our UK schedule in order to meet the demand from our customers.

The UK Summer 2021 schedule comprises 480 destinations, having recently launched 26 new routes and with more to be added as restrictions relax throughout Europe over the summer months. UK families can book a well-earned summer holiday safe in the knowledge that if their plans change, they can move their travel dates up to two times with a zero-change fee up until the end of October 2021.

Top Copyright Photo: Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava – Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

Ryanair aircraft slide show:

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/05/10/ryanair-announces-more-flights-to-portugal-after-making-the-green-list/

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Ryanair announces more flights to Portugal after making the Green List

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Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava - Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

Ryanair has announced even more flights to Portugal, with over 175,000 extra seats from May 17, 2021 as the country makes it onto the UK’s green listed destinations.

Route Departing Flights Per Week
Stansted Faro 17 (+16)
Lisbon 14 (+11)
Porto 14 (+11)
Manchester Faro 14 (+12)
Lisbon 4 (+4)
Porto 3 (+3)
Birmingham Faro 3 (+3)
Leeds Faro 3 (+3)
Bournemouth Faro 3 (+3)
Bristol Faro 3 (+3)
East Midlands Faro 3 (+3)
Liverpool Faro 3 (+3)

Ryanair’s Director of Marketing, Dara Brady, said:

“We are very pleased to announce 175,000 extra seats to Portugal on the back of the UK’s green list. With quarantine-free travel now permitted to the likes of Faro, Lisbon and Porto, even more flights have been added to our UK schedule in order to meet the demand from our customers.

The UK Summer 2021 schedule comprises 480 destinations, having recently launched 26 new routes and with more to be added as restrictions relax throughout Europe over the summer months. UK families can book a well-earned summer holiday safe in the knowledge that if their plans change, they can move their travel dates up to two times with a zero-change fee up until the end of October 2021.

Top Copyright Photo: Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava – Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

Ryanair aircraft slide show:

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/05/10/ryanair-announces-more-flights-to-portugal-after-making-the-green-list/

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