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US Airlines Join UK Partners In Calling For A Travel Corridor

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A consortium of airlines and airline industry players has written to senior government figures in both the UK and USA calling for an expedited travel corridor. With vaccination rollouts well underway in both countries, airlines want to ease travel restrictions on the normally busy transatlantic travel corridor.

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A consortium of airlines is calling on the UK and US Governments to ease transatlantic travel restrictions. Photo: London Heathrow Airport

“Air travel is a critical enabler of trade between our countries that was worth US$273 billion or £196 billion in 2019,” said the letter to US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.

Airlines join forces to call for travel corridor reopening

Signatories to the May 11 letter were key airlines on both sides of the Atlantic, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and industry group Airlines for America.

“Public health must guide the reopening of international air travel, and we are confident that the aviation industry possesses the right tools, based on data and science, to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel,” the letter said.

In a rare joining of forces between airlines that are normally arch-rivals, the CEOs who signed the letter proposed a summit to explore how to safely and swiftly re-open the critical travel corridor.

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United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is one of the signatories to the May 11 letter. Photo: United Airlines

The transatlantic travel corridor matters more to UK airlines

Arguably, the transatlantic corridor matters more to UK carriers than US carriers.  In 2019, more than 23% of passengers moving through London Heathrow Airport were coming on or off transatlantic flights. The number one route was the London Heathrow – New York JFK run.

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But it isn’t all about New York. In 2019, British Airways operated approximately 30 routes into the USA. Most departed from London Heathrow. In 2019, North America accounted for around half of Virgin Atlantic’s flights and nearly three-quarters of the airline’s ASK capacity.

Generally, United States-based carriers have more diversified international networks, but the transatlantic runs to the UK still account for a significant share of their network capacity. The routes take on additional importance given the demand from premium passengers and the rich revenue streams those passengers provide.

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“Safely reopening borders between the US and UK is essential for the continued economic recovery of both nations,” the letter says.

“Returning travelers to the skies is essential to securing future investment in the world’s most dynamic enterprises.”

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Transatlantic routes matter because they are premium traffic heavy and a rich source of revenue for airlines. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Airlines propose a summit with US & UK Governments

The letter notes that by early May, 42% of the adult population in the US have been fully vaccinated. 27% of the UK population have been fully vaccinated, and 62% have received at least one dose. The airlines hail the success of the vaccination rollout and say this can serve as a roadmap for safely reopening the transatlantic flight corridor.

“This success can serve as the foundation for the US and UK to lead the world by demonstrating how to safely reopen the travel corridor.”

The proposed summit, led by the UK and US governments, would look at how to re-open the travel corridor that aligns with public health objectives. But the airlines warn time is of the essence.

“The airline industry needs adequate lead time to establish a plan for restarting air services, including scheduling aircraft and crews for those routes as well as marketing and selling tickets.”

“We believe your joint leadership at a summit with us prior to the G7 Summit would allow for a robust discussion to ensure the timely return of air travel to the people and economies of our respective countries.”

At the time of publication, neither Pete Buttigieg nor Grant Shapps have agreed to the summit or commented on the letter.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/us-airlines-uk-travel-corridor/

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Allegiant Wants To Hire 184 Pilots In The Coming Months

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In good news for pilots, Las Vegas-based Allegiant plans to boost its pilot numbers by 184 this northern summer. With nearly 1,000 pilots currently flying for Allegiant, that’s around a 19% increase.

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Allegianyis hiring 184 new pilots as travel demand rebounds. Photo: Denver International Airport

“These new pilots will be a welcome addition to our current roster of exceptional flight crew members,” says Allegiant executive Tracy Tulle. “Their hiring really marks an exciting part of our five-year growth plan, which includes onboarding new pilots and flight attendants, as well as adding aircraft to our fleet, and new bases, cities, and routes to our network.”

Allegiant bounces back

Like airlines everywhere, Allegiant felt the pinch in 2020. In the second quarter of 2020, capacity and departures were down about 50% from the same period in 2019. Mid-2020, Allegiant was warning pilots furloughs were inevitable. Tranches of federal funding helped saved the day regarding involuntary job losses. However, substantial numbers of Allegiant employees, pilots, and otherwise, went onto extended periods of leave while Allegiant attempted to navigate the travel downturn.

But this year, Allegiant has come roaring back. “I could not be more bullish on our outlook,” said Allegiant’s President and CEO, Maurice Gallagher Jnr, in April. “Going forward, our full-year, 2021 capacity should exceed 2019 capacity levels.

“We would not be in the favorable position we are today without the continued efforts of the 4,000 employees throughout our network. Their hard work has been integral to successfully navigate the most difficult year in the industry’s history.”

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Allegiant flights are now exceeding 2019 levels. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

More flights mean more work for pilots

The rebound in passenger demand across the United States is driven by the leisure and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) segments. These are the types of passengers Allegiant’s low-cost business model has traditionally targeted. That has put Allegiant in a good position to benefit from the rebound.

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Across March, Allegiant flew slightly fewer passengers than it did in March 2019 – 1,095,572 in March 2021 versus 1,484,326 in March 2019. But Allegiant flew more flights this March than it did in March 2019 – 11,710 departures against 10,297 departures in March 2019.

That means load factors in March 2021 were much lower than in March 2019, but from a pilot’s perspective, more Allegiant flights taking off means more work. Allegiant says they were the first domestic airline to restore flight numbers to 2019 levels. The airline says the first intake of new pilots will be in July, with further intakes continuing through to 2022.

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Most Allegiant pilots get home each night. Photo: Denver International Airport6

Allegiant’s business models make the airline an employer of choice

According to Geir Bjoran, Allegiant’s chief pilot, the airline’s out-and-back business model is unique in the industry. The airline operates an all-Airbus fleet of A319s and A320s, flying more than 580 routes to 129 cities. The aircraft are assigned to one of the airline’s 20 bases across the United States, where pilots and other crew members live.

“Because our flights are point-to-point, with no layovers or connecting flights, our crew members end most workdays back at their home base,” says Geir Bjoran. The chief pilot argues getting back home most nights, combined with decent salaries, makes flying for Allegiant a career sweet spot for many pilots.

Allegiant is not the only United States-based airline keen to increase its pilot numbers. The big United States carriers, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines are all busy rehiring pilots. The trend is extending through the industry to smaller operators and low-cost airlines like Allegiant.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/allegiant-hires-new-pilots/

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Canada’s airports respond to the release of details on federal airport aid

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While these measures, announced five months ago and detailed today are welcome, the government must be prepared to take further action to preserve the integrity of Canada’s airports.

OTTAWA, ON May 11, 2021,  The Canadian Airports Council, representing over 100 airports and 90 percent of aviation traffic in Canada, welcomed today’s details on federal government aid for airports announced in the November 2020 Fall Economic Statement, but warned that the government must be prepared to take further action, given the severity of the third wave and the continued impact of protracted air travel restrictions and increased health and safety measures on airports’ operations and revenues.

From the start of the pandemic, Canada’s airports have worked to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, repatriate Canadians, and deliver medical equipment, professionals and vaccines to fight this disease.

Today’s announcements included details on three previously announced measures: the Airport Critical Infrastructure Program (ACIP) which will provide $490 million over five years to financially assist Canada’s larger airports with investments in critical infrastructure-related to safety, security or connectivity;  the Airport Relief Fund (ARF) which provides $65 million in financial relief to targeted Canadian airports to help maintain operations, as well as a one-time funding top-up of $186 million over two years for the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP).

“It is good to see federal government commitments made in the Fall Economic Statement being fulfilled, with funds flowing to airports soon. Unfortunately, the situation is worse than it was when these measures were announced five months ago, with our entire aviation network – from the largest to smallest commercial airports in Canada – compromised by the protracted suppression of passenger traffic to just about 10% of pre-pandemic levels,” said CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch.

“As our airports await engagement with the federal government on a restart plan, the situation for Canada’s air transport sector will deteriorate even further, and more engagement by the federal government on the long term viability and competitiveness of our sector will be needed for Canada’s air sector to fully support recovery in our tourism sector and economy.”

To support airports of all sizes, the Canadian Airports Council has also asked government to waive – not defer – for the period of recovery, airport rent remitted to government by 22 of Canada’s airports and to provide financial support or interest free loans when necessary. In 2020 and 2021 alone, Canada’s airports anticipate a revenue loss of $5.5 billion which is required to be funded by additional debt of $2.8 billion.

The Canadian Airports Council has, and will continue, to engage government and industry partners to plan for a safe restart of air travel that ensures Canada emerges from the pandemic ready to support demand and economic recovery when the time is right.

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Source: https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/05/11/canadas-airports-respond-to-the-release-of-details-on-federal-airport-aid/

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