Categories
Transport

Airlines Asked to Issue Refunds Following Bailout

Following Congress’ approval of a $25 billion bailout for struggling U.S. airlines, several senators have come forward urging 11 major airlines to issue full cash refunds to customers after canceling their flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least nine Democratic senators are urging more airlines to refund their customers, including Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Sheldon Whitehouse and Bob Casey. A majority of U.S. airlines are simply waiving cancelation fees rather than offering cash refunds.

“Americans need money now to pay for basic necessities, not temporary credits towards future travel,” the senators wrote.

American Airlines issued a response, claiming its “comprehensive travel waivers we’ve put in place are designed to meet the full range of our customers’ needs.” Other airlines such as Southwest Airlines Co, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have yet to respond.

According to MSN, hundreds of thousands of flights have been canceled by U.S. airlines within the past few weeks. Southwest claimed that 40 percent of flights will be cut from May 3 to June 5, with other carriers such and American, United, Delta and Alaska Airlines cutting over 60 percent of their flights.

While there is little demand for commercial flights in the U.S., the U.S. State Department is working with major airlines to help nearly 50,000 American citizens still abroad who may be in need of rescue flights in order to return home.

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Transport

Airlines mull temporary service consolidation coronavirus

U.S. airlines are considering jointly consolidating services
during the Covid-19 crisis, according to a CNBC report. 

Under the $58 billion airline stimulus package that became
law on Friday, carriers that accept grants or federally guaranteed loans must
continue flying to each destination that they serve unless they receive Transportation
Department permission to do otherwise.

Consolidating operations to smaller markets could serve as a
workaround to that requirement. 

“Does it make sense for more than one of us to be flying to
a city when there are only a few seats filled on each plane,” CNBC quoted one
anonymous airline executive as saying. “It may make more sense to maintain
service to that city but to put all passengers on one plane.”

CNBC added that it spoke with executives of “multiple
airlines” about the concept, though those executives said the idea had not yet
been formally presented to the Transportation Department. 

The department didn’t offer a specific view on the concept
in a statement Monday. 

“This is an important issue and the department supports the
intent of maintaining a national network of air service to communities across
the country,” a DOT spokesperson said. 
We will have further guidance about how this will be accomplished in the
days to come.”

U.S. airlines have dramatically pared back schedules but are
nevertheless flying nearly empty planes. In a letter to employees Friday,
United CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby said they expect April load
factor fall into the teens or even single digits, even with a capacity cut of
more than 60%. 

On March 29, the Transportation Security Administration
screened 180,000 passengers and crew members, compared with 2.5 million on the
same date last year. ARC reported an 88.5% year-over-year drop in the number of
tickets issued for the week ending March 29. 

According CNBC, if airlines were to jointly consolidate
service, they would continue to separately sell tickets for city pairs on which
they now compete. However, instead of three carriers flying New York
LaGuardia-St. Louis, for example, every passenger would be funneled onto a
single flight. Such an arrangement would require the completion of complicated
commercial agreements. 

The trade group Airlines for America declined to comment on
the topic Monday. United, Delta, Southwest and American either didn’t respond
to a request for comment or declined to comment. 

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Transport

Southwest Airlines Offers Voluntary Leave in Lieu of Stimulus Package

With the COVID-19 pandemic stunting travel, some airlines have been receiving private funding packages to keep afloat. However, Southwest Airlines has recently offered voluntary leave with partial pay to flight attendants, despite the U.S. Senate approving a $50 billion stimulus package for the industry this past Wednesday.

By accepting federal aid, airlines must agree to several conditions, which include restrictions on dividends and share buybacks, requirements to keep employment levels stable through September and limits on executive pay. Two national unions believe that Southwest may reject any stimulus package due to these conditions.

The airline offered flight attendants voluntary paid time off for May and June at “50 percent of the minimum line value.” While the offer protects benefits, flight attendants would still need to complete paid training requirements.

Southwest flight attendants have been advised by Transport Workers Union Local 556 not to accept voluntary leave, as the congressional approval could guarantee full pay through any upcoming travel bans.

“The company created this emergency time off program blindly, quickly, and with complete disregard for what is being negotiated and approved by Congress,” TWU Local 556 said in a letter to members. “Southwest Airlines also claims that they ‘retain the right to reject government funding and the strings that come with it.’”

According to the Dallas Morning News, Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly spent weeks in Washington advocating for the stimulus package, confident that the bill will help the airline avoid layoffs. However, Southwest has made little mention of the bill since senators closed the deal over the weekend.

In the version of the bill passed by the Senate Wednesday night, airlines would receive $25 billion in loans and $25 billion in grants for “the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.”

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Categories
Travel

Covid 19 Coronavirus: Ryanair hikes reebooking fees while closing help lines

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As Ryanair grounds its European airfleet and mothballs its customer service lines, customers say they are being gouged to rebook cancelled flights.

The airline has been accused of charging passengers more to rebook flights than buy new ones.

In some cases the airline was charging $160 for changing cancelled fares, in spite of a promise of “fee-free” cancellations.

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Categories
Destinations

Philippine Airlines says no more flight suspension between Dubai-Manila

Ryanair has announced it is likely to ground “most, if not all” flights sooner than expected, and it will be before the end of the month.

Europe’s biggest budget airline originally said it would be forced to cancel most services in April and May, but has now confirmed that schedules could be pared down to nothing by 24 March.

From this date, Ryanair says it expects that the vast majority if not all of Ryanair Group flights will be grounded, barring a very small number of flights to maintain essential connectivity, mostly between the UK and Ireland. 

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The carrier added that between 18-24 March, it would be cutting 80 per cent of flights.

Customers who are affected by the changes will be notified of their options, which include rebooking minus the usual fee, or a full refund.

Ryanair has asked that travellers do not contact its call centres as they are “overloaded” dealing with customer queries.

Details of the severely reduced schedule can be found on the Travel Advisory page on the Ryanair.com website.

The move is partly in response to the UK government’s announcement this week that it is advising against all but essential international travel in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most EU Governments have also imposed strict travel bans and restrictions in the last week.

Ryanair said it would continue to stay in close contact with the foreign ministries of all EU governments on the repatriation of EU citizens, and would, where possible, operate rescue flights to get people home.

The airline said in a statement: “Ryanair sincerely regrets all disruptions caused by this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. 

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

1/20

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

“The safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority and we will continue to comply with all WHO and EASA guidelines, as well as all Government travel restrictions which have been imposed over recent days to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All our thoughts and prayers are with our people and our customers and their families as we work our way through this crisis.”

Dubai: The Philippine flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), will continue its flights between Dubai and Manila despite earlier announcement of operational disruption as part of the Philippine government’s implementation of “enhanced community quarantine.”

Agnes Pagaduan, PAL country manager-UAE, told Gulf News on Wednesday daily flights between Dubai and Manila “will continue as scheduled.”

Earlier, the PAL office in Manila announced suspension of operation from March 20 until April 12 after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon – with around 58M people or 59 per cent of the entire Filipino population – under “enhanced community quarantine”. The deadly disease has so far affected 202 people and claimed 17 lives in the Philippines.

Pagaduan said the revised announcement came after the Philippine Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IAFT-EID) has lifted the ban on international flights coming in and out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Philippines’ main gateway

IAFT-EID said: “all persons, regardless of nationality, except for Filipino tourists, may now fly out of the country at any time.”

“Inbound international passengers are allowed entry, subject to strict immigration and quarantine protocols,” it added.

It was also agreed that medical certificates of good health should be validated by their respective embassies for passengers from Italy and Iran.

Sweeper flights for foreign nationals to bring them to airports will be allowed to continue operations.

Meanwhile, only one person is allowed to bring a passenger to the airport and he/she must depart immediately after dropping off the passenger. The driver should carry with him/her a copy of the airline ticket of the passenger as proof of conveyance.

IAFT-EID also advised affected passengers to wait for official word or contact their respective air carriers on resumption of their flights.

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Categories
Destinations

Hawaiian Airlines reducing Japan flights

Hawaiian Airlines is reducing flights between Hawaii and Japan during most of April in response to reduced demand due to the Covid-19 virus, the company announced in a statement.

From March 28 to April 29, the three-times-weekly service from Kona International Airport to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and the four-times-weekly route between Honolulu and Haneda will be suspended.

At the same time, Hawaiian will launch an additional daily nonstop service between Honolulu and Haneda.

The Honolulu-Haneda route begins with an inaugural flight on March 28. It will depart Honolulu at 12:30 p.m., with a scheduled 5:10 p.m. arrival at Haneda the following day. The return flight departs Haneda at 8:15 p.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 8:10 a.m. the same day.

Once the changes take place, Hawaiian’s Japan-Hawaii network of 35 weekly flights will include three daily nonstop flights connecting Honolulu and Tokyo, two flights to Haneda and one to Narita International Airport. The airline also offers service between Honolulu and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, Fukuoka Airport and Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport.

The airline also said in the statement that it is assisting guests impacted by its schedule changes with alternative flights or refunds, and it is also providing flexibility for guests concerned about potential changes to their travel plans due to Covid-19 and who may need to make alternative arrangements.

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Categories
Travel

American Airlines sets fare caps after flight prices soar amid Europe coronavirus travel ban




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    Coronavirus outbreak causing travel industry to pivot, airlines cut back on flights
    As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, travelers are becoming fearful of flying leading major airlines to cut their flights and change their policies.
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Travel

Airlines are burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying empty 'ghost' planes so they can keep their flight slots during the coronavirus outbreak



a flock of seagulls flying in the air

  • Airlines are running empty ‘ghost’ flights during the coronavirus due to European rules forcing operators to use their allocated flights or lose their slots.
  • The rules are leading some airlines to waste thousands of metric tons of jet fuel flying empty planes in and out of Europe.
  • Demand for flights is collapsing worldwide with airline industry groups warning that the coronavirus crisis could wipe up to $113 billion off the value of the industry.
  • The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to flight regulators demanding the ‘use it or lose it’ rules be suspended to stop the spread of ghost flights.

Airlines are wasting thousands of gallons of jet fuel running empty ‘ghost’ planes during the Coronavirus outbreak, due to European rules forcing operators to lose their flight slots if they keep their planes on the grounds.

Demand for flights has collapsed across the globe amid growing fears of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, under existing European rules airlines operating out of the continent must continue to run 80% of their allocated slots or risk losing them to a competitor.

This has led to some operators flying empty planes in and out of European countries at huge costs, the Times of London newspaper reported.

On Thursday the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to the independent airport coordinator asking for the rules to be suspended during the crisis to prevent further unnecessary environmental and economic damage.

“I am particularly concerned that, in order to satisfy the 80/20 rule, airlines may be forced to fly aircraft at very low load factors, or even empty, in order to retain their slots,” Shapps wrote to Airport Co-ordination Ltd (ACL).

“Such a scenario is not acceptable. It is not in the industry’s, the passengers’ or the environment’s interest and must be avoided.”

ACL has already suspended the rule for flights to and from Hong Kong and mainland China. However, the rules remain in place for all other flights.

On Thursday UK airline Flybe went into administration with one airline trade group estimating that the crisis could wipe $113 billion off the value of the industry worldwide.

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Categories
Travel

Coronavirus: Airlines offer flexibility to anxious passengers

As the coronavirus outbreak has spread, global travel has become a topic of concern. Airlines have responded by suspending travel to various destinations through the early year, and many large conferences and gatherings around the world have been cancelled altogether amid a steady rise in new infections.

To help quell travellers’ worries, airlines have begun changing their policies to create flexibility in bookings. If you’re planning — or have already scheduled — a trip for the near future, here are your options.

Jetstar

The budget carrier has opened up some flexibility to passengers travelling via areas affected by the virus. Passengers with flights departing between January 24 and March 31, who no longer wish to travel, are invited to rebook onto a future Jetstar service or cancel their tickets for a full refund. Cancellation and rebooking fees will not be charged. Although Jetstar does not operate flights to mainland China from Australia or New Zealand, Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Japan have itineraries that connect via that country.

Air New Zealand

Passengers with tickets on suspended flights to – or via – mainland China can claim a full refund or defer travel for up to 12 months. You should contact the airline directly if the ticket was issued by Air New Zealand (the ticket number will begin with 086). For tickets issued by other providers, passengers are told to contact their original booking agent.
The airline also says that online check in may not be available for international flights, due to extra health screenings, and passengers should allow extra time at airports.

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Categories
Travel

Seat recline debate: Passenger’s laptop smashed

A passenger aboard a US domestic flight has lashed out online after his laptop was broken when the person seated in front of him reclined their seat.

Pat Cassidy has written a piece on Barstool Sports about his experience as well as several Tweets and images of what unfolded on the Delta flight from Austin to Los Angeles.

“There was a time when I had a working laptop, but that was a long time ago, before the selfish b**tard in 13A decided to fully recline his seat and castrate my livelihood,” he wrote.

Cassidy explained he was editing photos on his laptop, which was sitting on the tray table, but when the person in front suddenly reclined, his computer screen “folded like a taco”.

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