November 11, 2020

Singapore & Hong Kong Finalize Plans for World’s First Travel Bubble

Hong Kong and Singapore will launch the world’s first true travel bubble on November 22. The bubble will replace travelers having to endure required quarantine. Proof of a negative test will allow for hassle-free and quarantine-free travel for all visitors, regardless of the reason for travel.

Both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will operate several weekly flights — upping that to daily beginning December 7 — that are a part of the new bubble. Up to 200 passengers will be permitted on each flight that is considered in the bubble, and no connecting passengers will be allowed. Travelers must have been in Hong Kong or Singapore for at least 14 days before departure.

Application to travel in the quarantine-free bubble must be made seven days prior to departure. It requires a negative test to be taken within 72 hours of departure. Should travelers fall ill while away from home, they would be personally responsible for the cost of any medical treatment in addition to extended accommodations. They will also be showered with shame at no extra charge.

Alaska Wins DOT Approval For Foreign Carrier Stopovers

The State of Alaska has won approval from the federal government to allow stopovers by foreign airlines carrying passengers en route to the rest of the United States. The state has had DOT permission to do so for cargo since 1996 but just received permission to apply the same rule for human cargo passenger flights.

What it means in reality is that an airline operating from Asia can stop in Anchorage or Fairbanks and let passengers off and then pick them up days later to transport them to their eventual destination — if the passengers so choose. They can operate a hub that would carry travelers between Asia and the other 49 states, opening up more short-haul options for Asian airlines to feed their flights into Anchorage. What the airlines cannot do is violate cabotage , meaning the foreign airline could not sell and transport passengers solely between two U.S. destinations. 

Passengers arriving in Alaska on the foreign carrier would of course still clear U.S. Customs & Immigration upon arrival in Alaska since that would be their first stop in the country. It remains to be seen if any airline would dare try to implement this plan. We’d bet not.

Rex Moves Closer to Full-Service, Confirms Business Class Offering

Rex, the regional carrier in Australia that is expanding to full-service in an attempt to challenge Qantas & the carcass of Virgin Australia, confirmed on Wednesday that it will offer a business class offering on-board its newly-acquired aircraft.

The airline secured its new Boeing 737 fleet from Virgin Australia’s creditors during VA’s administration earlier this summer at deeply discounted prices. Speculation was rampant Down Under as to whether or not the airline would keep the business class seats on the planes or retrofit to an all-economy fleet which we’re told is all those Aussies deserve anyway.

Rex did confirm that it would offer the premium class in order to up its offering to compete with Qantas on the bloodbath that is Australia’s triangle routes between Melbourne, Sydney, & Brisbane. 

In addition to the premium class, Rex is also planning to ramp up its route network, with service to every capital city across Australia, using a network of 40 jets. Rex will have six aircraft in its fleet by April when Brisbane will join the route network. It then hopes to have 40 by 2022 providing a wide-network of flights all over the continent.

Cathay Pilots & Cabin Crew Agree to Lower Wages

An overwhelming majority of pilots and flight attendants at Cathay Pacific have agreed to reduced wages in exchange for the airline guaranteeing no further job cuts.

98.5% of pilots and 91.6% of cabin crew agreed to the new contracts which will allow the airline to reduce significant cost as it attempts to remain operating while the pandemic rages on. For the small number who declined the new offer the airline told them don’t let the door hit you on the way out offered what it described as a generous severance package that includes any unpaid leave taken in 2020.

The new contracts cut salaries and benefits by anywhere from 20% to 60% per employee but will save their jobs. The savings allow Cathay to reduce its monthly cash burn by $65 million. The airline has committed to not seeking any further bailouts or job cuts through 2022. 

Pakistani-Based Airlines Face Worldwide Ban

The more things change…the more Pakistan has fake pilots. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is exploring banning all Pakistani-based airlines and their pilots from operating to or in any of the 188 countries the that are members of the organization.

This time, the ire of ICAO (say that ten times fast) is not just directed at Pakistan International Airlines, the official airline of Cranky Daily. The UN-based organization also has set its sights on Airblue and SereneAir, the two other international airlines in Pakistan for perhaps being…a little loose with their pilot certifications as well.

Shockingly, ICAO has determined that the issue with shady and fake licenses for pilots in the country goes beyond just the pilots terminated by PIA earlier in the summer. PIA had completed an “investigation,” announcing that the problem had been snuffed out and eradicated. To the surprise of many no one, that does not appear to be the case.

If ICAO’s ban is finalized, Pakistani airlines would be restricted to domestic routes only. PIA operated to 23 international destinations prior to the pandemic and its subsequent ban from operating in the EU.

Airline Potpourri

  • Air Asia posted a $66 million lost in Q3, and the airline plans to operate 96% of its 2019 Q4 schedule during Q4 2020.
  • easyJet has completed a sale and leaseback on 11 of its A320 aircraft to two different lessors to raise $170 million in cash.
  • Embraer posted a loss of $148 million in Q3.
  • Iberia Express will operate a limited, holiday-only service from Newcastle (NCL) to Madrid, Lanzarote (ACE), and Gran Canaria (LPA). The flights will be full of drunk holiday-goers and will operate from December 26 through January 3.
  • Jeju Air is set to receive $170 million in aid from the Korean government.
  • Jet2 is opening a base at Bristol Airport (BRS), it’s 10th UK base.
  • Qantas plans to re-open most of its domestic lounges by December 2.
  • Qatar is resuming service and increasing frequencies to nine destinations in the next month including Chicago (9x-weekly service beginning November 15), Miami (2x-weekly service beginning November 14), and New York/JFK (2x-daily service beginning November 14).

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

I had a very happy childhood. My siblings used to put me in tires and roll me down the hill on our street. Those were Goodyears.