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Shareholder takes aim at Flair airline’s expansion plan

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From Business in Vancouver – link to source story

Flair shareholder claims company’s plans rammed through without approval, potentially putting operating licence at risk

July 9, 2021

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A shareholder in Flair Airlines Ltd. is taking the low-cost carrier to court, claiming it’s wrongfully withholding key information about a significant expansion of the company’s fleet of aircraft announced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prescott Strategic Investments LP by its general partner Prescott Strategic Investments Ltd. filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on June 18, naming Flair and Florida-based 777 Partners LLC, a “significant creditor” of the aviation firm, as respondents. Prescott, run by Canadian aviation industry veterans Jim Scott and Jerry Presley, claims in the court filing that the dispute was spurred by Flair’s management deciding to “aggressively expand its operations during a global pandemic” by signing leases on 13 new Boeing 737-8 airplanes with a subsidiary controlled by 777 Partners, also a Flair shareholder. 

According to the petition, Flair’s fleet of three Boeing 737s was mostly grounded from September 2020 to April 2021, with the airline using only one for its Vancouver-Edmonton-Toronto route and its Vancouver-Calgary-Toronto route during that time. Prescott owns just under 68% of the airline’s voting shares, and had taken over the company’s management in 2018.

“Shortly after taking over management of Flair, Prescott’s partners became aware that Flair required an immediate infusion of funds in order to pay down a line of credit,” the petition states, a situation which saw 777 Partners sign on as an investor after being approached by Flair. The airline currently owes 777 Partners $140 million, most of which is at an 18% interest rate.

Prescott claims that the COVID-19 outbreak saw Canadian air travel drop by around 90% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers, causing other airlines such as WestJet (TSX:WJA) and Air Canada (TSX:AC) to scale back or halt expansion plans including cancelling orders for their new Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-8s.

But Flair went the opposite way, announcing in January 2021 that it was leasing more than a dozen new planes for new routes at five Canadian airports, an announcement that “caused serious concerns for Prescott.” Flair hadn’t sought shareholder approval as required for the leases and expansion plans, Prescott claims.

“Because Flair had already begun selling tickets connected to the expanded services, Flair’s position was entrenched and any after-the-fact vote by shareholders would be futile,” the petition states.

Moreover, the company didn’t get approval for the leases from the Canadian Transportation Agency, raising “significant concern” about whether the leases would put the company under control of 777 Partners, which could lead to a finding that it wasn’t “controlled in fact” by Canadians as required by the Canada Transportation Act. Such a finding could strip the aviation firm of its licence to operate in Canada, Prescott claims. Meanwhile, directors of 777 Partners have allegedly threatened to call in Flair’s debt and put it into receivership if it doesn’t proceed with the leases and expansion plans, which Prescott claims are not in Flair’s best interest.

The petition seeks declarations that Flair’s affairs are “being conducted in a manner that is oppressive” to Prescott, and an order for Flair and 777 Partners to buy Prescott’s shares for $0.85 per share.

The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court, and Flair and 777 Partners had not filed responses by press time.

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Source: https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/shareholder-takes-aim-at-flair-airlines-expansion-plan/

Aviation

Alitalia Cargo lifts 1 million vaccine doses from Italy to El Salvador

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Alitalia Boeing 777 cargo flight landed in San Salvador, El Salvador at 1:55 pm on July 26, 2021 with one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China.

Alitalia flight number AZ9460 operated by Boeing 777-243ER EI-DDH. It returned as AZ9461 the following day to Milan Malpensa.

A few weeks ago Alitalia Cargo operated a similar cargo flight from Milan Malpensa to Port of Spain for delivery vaccines to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

Marco Finelli reporting from Italy.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/alitalia-cargo-lifts-1-million-vaccine-doses-from-italy-to-el-salvador/

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ITA – Italia Trasporto Aereo Shareholders’ meeting approves capital increase of €700 million

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The Shareholders’ Meeting of ITA, which met on July 28, approved a capital increase of €700 million, as proposed by the Board of Directors of the company.

This resolution follows the approval, by the Board of Directors on July 15th, of the 2021-2025 Business Plan lines and the completion of the ongoing approval process by the European Commission on the basis of the “Comfort Letter” issued by the Commission on the same July 15th.

The Chairman of ITA, Alfredo Altavilla, said: “Today is another important milestone in the process that will see the start of operations of the new airline on October 15th. With the just approved capital increase, the public shareholder confirms the solidity of the project from a private investor’s point of view. The following step will be the immediate beginning of negotiations with Alitalia under Extraordinary Administration for the acquisition of the “Aviation” sector, pending the tender for the sale of the Alitalia brand that we hope will take place as soon as possible.

More on the new airline:

ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo) will be operational from October 15, 2021, flying a fleet of 52 aircraft that will grow to 105 by the end of 2025, as envisaged in the 2021-2025 business plan approved by the Board of Directors of the newly established company destined to take over from Alitalia. The plan also provides for the ‘discontinuity’ requested by the European Commission during negotiations with the Italian Government over the past few months. ITA will be able to acquire, through direct negotiation with Alitalia, the assets to manage the flight sector, the so-called ‘aviation’ branch. The Alitalia brand will be sold through a public tender, issued and managed by Alitalia, in which ITA itself will participate, as it believes that the brand is an essential element for the plan. ‘Ground Handling’ and ‘Maintenance’ activities will also be contracted through a public tender.

ITA will initially operate with a fleet of 52 aircraft. By 2022, it will grow to 78 aircraft and, from 2022 onwards, new-generation aircraft will be gradually added to the fleet. By the end of 2025, the number of aircraft will rise to 105. Over the plan period, ITA plans to rely on a single strategic partner for aircraft, and discussions are underway with the main partners. All employees will be hired under a new employment contract. The ‘Aviation’ branch is expected to employ 2.750-2.950 people, rising to 5.550-5.700 by 2025. In the event that ITA is awarded contracts for the ‘Ground Handling’ and ‘Maintenance’ activities, 2.650-2.700 and 1.100-1.250 staff are expected to be employed respectively.

ITA’s plan has been approved, forecasting a turnover that will reach  3.329 million euros in 2025, with an economic result of 209 million euros and an operational break-even to be reached by third quarter 2023.

At first, the airline will fly to 45 destinations with 61 routes, growing to 74 destinations and 89 routes by 2025. As for long-haul routes, ITA will initially provide connections to New York, Tokyo, Boston and Miami, but new routes to São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Washington and Los Angeles are expected to be added in the summer 2022. From Fiumicino (Rome) and Linate (Milan) airports there will be connections to the main EU destinations. During the shareholders’ meeting scheduled for July, it will be decided on an initial capital increase of 700 million euros.

ITA’s executive chairman Alfredo Altavilla stated: “The approval of ITA’s business plan by the European Commission and the confirmation of compliance with the MEOP, which certifies the soundness of the project in terms of private investment by the public shareholder, is an important result that paves the way for the launch of ITA. Now, within 90 days, we should complete the transition leading to the take-off of the first aircraft on 15 October. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Italian Government and our representatives in Brussels for the teamwork that made it possible to achieve this important result after months of negotiations, and which we trust will continue in the months to come”.

The CEO and managing director of ITA, Fabio Lazzerini, said: “I am particularly satisfied with the acknowledgement of the industrial and financial solidity underlying the approval of the Plan. A plan which, starting from the customer and its needs, will place ITA among the best companies in Europe in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability, while guaranteeing connectivity to businesses, tourists and citizens. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the ITA team for the enthusiastic and total commitment with which they have worked during these challenging months, and to the institutions and stakeholders in the sector (ENAC, ENAV, the airport system) for the openness and trust they are showing us. Now we face the great challenge of launching a successful airline in three months. A challenge to which we will devote all our energy.”

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/ita-italia-trasporto-aereo-shareholders-meeting-approves-capital-increase-of-e700-million/

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Etihad rolls out IATA Travel Pass to seven cities following successful trials

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Etihad Airways has issued this statement:

Following successful trials, Etihad Airways has expanded IATA Travel Pass on flights between Abu Dhabi and seven destinations across its network as it continues to implement digital solutions to simplify the travel experience in the wake of the pandemic.

IATA Travel Pass is available for guests on all Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok, Barcelona, Geneva, Madrid, Milan, New York and Singapore and offers the convenience of a one-stop platform for managing COVID-19 documentation.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The feedback from the IATA Travel Pass trial has been positive, with Etihad’s guests appreciating its ease-of-use and data security. Etihad is pleased to now make IATA Travel Pass available on flights to and from seven major global cities, providing more guests with the option of simplifying their journey and airport experience.”

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, said: “Etihad’s decision to expand IATA Travel Pass based on positive customer feedback is a strong endorsement of the solution. IATA Travel pass was designed to provide a one-stop-shop solution for travelers to safely and efficiently manage their COVID-19 documentation and generate an ‘OK to Travel’ which airlines can trust. It’s great to see the app in use facilitating the restart of international travel.”

Etihad Airways was one of the first airlines globally to begin testing IATA Travel Pass in April 2021 in support of a global, standardized solution for travelers to validate their documents and navigate COVID-19 travel requirements.

To access the IATA Travel Pass, guests simply need to download the IATA Travel Pass app for Android or iOS, where they can add their Etihad Airways travel itinerary, view their travel requirements and securely share their PCR test results.

The IATA Travel Pass app also includes functionality to upload vaccination certificates, opening up opportunities for travel where vaccination is a requirement. Currently the app is able to accept EU Digital Covid Certificates issued by all 27 member states of the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein as well as vaccine certificates from Singapore and Qatar. As vaccines continue to roll out globally, more and more travelers around the world will be able to upload their government issued COVID vaccine certificates to facilitate seamless travel.

The airline is continuing to work closely with IATA to progressively roll out the digital travel pass to more cities across its route network.

More information including the installation instructions and list of participating IATA Travel Pass clinics in the UAE and worldwide can be found on etihad.com/iatatravelpass.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/etihad-rolls-out-iata-travel-pass-to-seven-cities-following-successful-trials/

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Contour Airlines to expand in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh

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Contour Airlines has announced it will launch service to Milwaukee from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh starting on October 12.

Additionally the carrier will launch flights from Indianapolis to both Pittsburgh and Nashville.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/contour-airlines-to-expand-in-indianapolis-milwaukee-and-pittsburgh/

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