Aviation News in Brief 11 May 2020

BOC Aviation, Southwest Airlines, Scoot, Vietjet, Air Astana, Emirates, Cathay Pacific

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An artist's rendering of once bustling airline routes in Asia-Pacific. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

BOC Aviation signs deal with Southwest Airlines: BOC Aviation said it has signed a purchase-and-leaseback agreement with Southwest Airlines for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. All 10 aircraft are powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines. Robert Martin, managing director and CEO of BOC Aviation, said: “We are delighted to be working with Southwest Airlines once again, building on a long-term relationship that dates back to 2008. This is the sixth major aircraft investment that we have announced this year, which reflects our company’s ability to provide innovative financing solutions for large-volume transactions and our commitment as a global partner to our airline customers.”

BOC AviationScoot adds precautions on aircraft: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has issued a set of directives on additional precautionary COVID-19 measures for Singapore carriers, effective 10 May, meaning airlines like Scoot will implement additional COVID-19 precautions for passengers, including the requirement for all passengers to wear masks on-board flights and submit a health declaration form prior to check-in. Temperature screening will also be conducted at check-in. All Scoot operating crew already undergo pre-flight temperature taking, are required to monitor their health, and must wear the appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) while on duty. All Scoot flights currently operate with limited in-flight service and, where possible, passengers are seated to ensure safe distancing. To limit baggage on board and facilitate security clearance and boarding, Scoot will only allow up to 3kg of cabin baggage on board. The remaining cabin baggage will need to be checked-in at no additional cost.

hr-asia-hr-asia-names-vietjet-as-a-best-company-to-work-for-in-asiaVietjet announces audited financial statement for 2019: Vietjet Aviation said its 2019 financial figures show the airline’s flight network increased by 24 percent with total number of transported passengers reaching 25 million, an increase of 28 percent year on year. The group audited business results of 2019 shows its total revenue of VND41,252 billion (US$1.76 billion) and VND3,868 billion in profit before tax, increasing by 22 percent and 27 percent respectively compared to 2018. The airline received seven aircraft in 2019 while the number for 2018 was 16 aircraft. Consequently, the audited revenue from aircraft sales and leaseback activity stood at VND9,350 billion. As a result, Vietjet’s consolidated pre-tax revenue and profit in 2019 were at VND50,602 billion and VND4,569 billion respectively. At the end of the year, Vietjet operated 78 aircraft with the average age of 2.75 years. Its load factor remained at 87 percent. The company said it has expanded its cargo business.

Air Astana resumes flights to regional centres in Kazakhstan: Air Astana will resume scheduled flights from Almaty and Nur-Sultan to regional centres across Kazakhstan following the end of the national state of emergency on 11 May 2020. Services to Aktobe and Kyzylorda  from Almaty and Nur-Sultan will re-start on 12 and 13 May respectively, while flights to Oskemen from Almaty and Nur-Sultan will restart on 13 and 14 May respectively. All flights will be operated by Airbus A320/A321 and Embraer E190-E2 aircraft. Flights to more cities across the country will resume as soon as local airports re-open.

BOC AviationEmirates reports profit drop: Emirates Group said it went to the bond market to raise money following a 28 percent drop in full-year profit due to the impact of COVID-19 on March earnings. The company said in a statement its net income for the year fell to 1.7 billion dirhams (US$463 million) from 2.3 billion dirhams year ago. Revenue dropped to 104 billion dirhams, impacted by the Dubai airport runway closure in the first quarter and the pandemic in the fourth quarter. Emirates Group raised US$1.2 billion in financing in the first quarter to deal with the strain the pandemic is putting on cash flows and plans to tap the bank market for further liquidity in the first fiscal quarter of 2020-21 that started in April.

Cathay looking at cutting pilot jobs: The South China Morning Post is reporting that the Cathay Pacific Group may cut pilot jobs as part of its “structural change” review ahead of contract talks in around two weeks. The airline, like every other airline, has made major cuts to its capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The newspaper reported that Alex McGowan, the general manager of aircrew, said in a memo to the company’s 4,100 cockpit crew the airline’s priority “is to preserve pilots’ jobs where we can”. Cathay has said upcoming discussions with the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, representing unionised pilots, would involve “challenging conversations”. The contents of the memo referenced the job losses caused by the company’s previous restructurings, and a lower-cost pilot contract, suggesting one approach the airline might take in talks. Some pilots who previously switched to the cheaper contract took an approximate 50-60 percent cut to total pay, which includes housing and other allowances.

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Asian Aviation
Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.

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