India’s Aviation Minister Gives The Okay For Domestic Flights

India’s aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has announced today that domestic flights will resume in India sooner than…

India’s Aviation Minister Gives The Okay For Domestic Flights

India’s aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has announced today that domestic flights will resume in India sooner than expected. Previously slated to remain grounded until May 31st, flights will now be allowed to begin on Monday, May 25th. Airlines await further guidance on operational procedures from the Indian government.

Great news for India as domestic flights will resume on Monday. Photo: Getty Images

Domestic flights begin from Monday

India’s aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has taken to Twitter today to announce the resumption of domestic flights across the nation. He noted that the flights would begin in what he calls a “calibrated manner” from next Monday, May 25th.

This will make it two months to the day since domestic flights ceased, with all aviation barring repatriation and cargo flights grounded on March 25th. This will come as a huge positive for Indian airlines, all of whom have been struggling under the weight of their grounded fleets and furloughed staff.

Singh Puri stated that airports and airlines would be informed prior to Monday about the resumption of flights, and that the ministry would issue standard operating procedures (SOPs). It was previously thought that flights would , but it appears certain relaxations are being allowed early.

Although there is no word yet on international flights, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Airlines will be breathing a sigh of relief. Photo: IndiGo

Which flights will start first?

Previously, it was thought domestic Indian flights would first begin to areas given the ‘green zone’ allocation, signaling a low level of coronavirus infections. However, with many of the nation’s major centers, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, still classified as ‘red zones,’ the practicality of following this procedure was questioned by airlines.

It is thought that now a green light from some state governments will allow flights to be operated, even from red zone areas. However, not all state governments are in support of the resumption of flights so soon.

Air India 747 Getty
Not all states are comfortable with the resumption. Photo: Getty Images

West Bengal, in particular, had previously raised concerns around the resumption of flight operations, citing problems with allowing people from highly impacted COVID-19 areas to enter their borders. Other states, too, have voiced similar worries, but Puri has said it was not up to individual states to decide on the move.

Puri further said that it might take two to three days before Indian airlines are able to open for bookings. However, with today’s announcement, we could see tickets for sale on these flights before the end of the week.

What about the passenger experience?

While the full guidelines are yet to be issued by the ministry, passengers can expect both airlines and airports to be on high alert to control the spread of the virus. The Economic Times of India speculates that measures could involve thermal scanning of passengers, restrictions on checked baggage, earlier check-in times, and social distancing at the airport. An insider told the publication,

“A lot of points are being discussed and there are inputs being given by all stakeholders, including airport operators and security agencies. The aviation ministry in consultation with the health ministry will come up a set of guidelines soon. We are very clear that we want to entirely discourage cabin baggage and advice passengers to carry just one luggage item. More the luggage, the higher are the chances of contamination.”

India covid airlines
PPE, including masks or perhaps even shields, is likely to be compulsory. Photo: Getty Images

The Economic Times further says that passengers will be required to arrive more than two hours before departure and that Delhi airport already has a system set up for UV disinfection of baggage. Along with Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad airports, Delhi is setting up thermal screening counters, both at departure and arrival gates.

Undoubtedly there will be enhanced disinfection of aircraft and likely onboard measures such as mandatory mask-wearing or even face shields. At this stage, nothing is guaranteed, but airlines will be able to advise passengers further once the ministry guidance is issued.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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JetBlue’s New Airbus A220 Fleet – Where Will The Planes Fly?

JetBlue’s first Airbus A220 will be delivered in the second half of 2020. Despite the current crisis facing…

JetBlue’s New Airbus A220 Fleet – Where Will The Planes Fly?

JetBlue’s first Airbus A220 will be delivered in the second half of 2020. Despite the current crisis facing the industry, the low-cost legend remains positive about its new acquisition. We take a look at what we can expect from the JetBlue A220, and where it’s likely to fly.

JetBlue will take its first A220 in 2020, but where will it fly? Photo: Airbus

JetBlue’s first A220 edges a step closer

With the opening of Airbus’ new A220 assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, comes a step forward in the timeline to JetBlue’s first A220 delivery. The low-cost carrier will become the second airline to take delivery of a US-built A220, after Delta receives its own in the third quarter of 2020.

The JetBlue A220 order was made back in the summer of 2018. The airline ordered 60 of the larger A220-300s with options for a further 60. While it retains the ability to downsize to the -200 variant, as yet, the carrier has remained committed to the largest of the type.

Airbus A220-300 in-flight
JetBlue’s order is for the larger A220-300. Photo: Airbus

Earlier this year, JetBlue firmed up a deal with Viasat for full inflight connectivity across the entire incoming A220 fleet. It’s also picked Thales AVANT IFE, remaining firm on its commitment to offer seatback screens across its entire fleet. But the question remains, where will they fly?

Where will JetBlue fly the A220?

While JetBlue has an extensive network, most of which could be adequately served by the A220, its order of the type had a specific goal in mind – to replace its fleet of Embraer jets. JetBlue operates 60 ERJ-190s on many short- and medium-haul routes, but the larger A220-300s won’t just operate on these. In fact, the airline plans to use them for transcontinental routes too.

In a statement following their initial order of the type, the airline said,

JetBlue plans to phase in the A220-300 as a replacement for JetBlue’s existing fleet of 60 Embraer E190 aircraft. The aircraft’s range and seating capacity will add flexibility to JetBlue’s network strategy as it targets growth in its focus cities, including options to schedule it for transcontinental flying. The aircraft also opens the door to new markets and routes that would have been unprofitable with JetBlue’s existing fleet.

JetBlue Boston
The first A220s will likely be based at JetBlue’s hub in Boston. Photo: JetBlue

Previously, COO Joanna Geraghty hinted that the A220s would begin life in the airline’s Boston hub. This was reinforced by Andrea Lusso, director of route planning at JetBlue, who told Routesonline last year,

Our A220s will naturally have a heavy presence in Boston as it’s one of our biggest E190 footprints today. But the aircraft can do a lot more than the E190 can, which is part of the reasons why we ordered it. We will be able to fly longer stages with a higher utilisation. So you can expect to see us go further within the continent and touch more places.”

This strongly suggests that the A220 will be used not only to replace E190 routes but also to expand across the Americas. With its launch of Guadeloupe service from JFK last year, and a new interlining agreement with Mexico’s Interjet, the airline has its sights firmly set on expansion. The A220 will undoubtedly provide the fuel for that fire.


How will the crisis affect these plans?

Although the situation facing airlines right now may have changed JetBlue’s original plans for the A220, CEO Robin Hayes sees the acquisition of the jet as a positive. At the recent earnings call, he said,

“When we think about demand and what’s going to come back, we’re running scenarios for different segments, different geographies … where we think that we know it’s going to take some time to come back and where we have markets that have … multiple frequencies a day. Those markets may be actually better served with a less frequency for a period of time, and an airplane like A220 could be really helpful for that in actually helping us serve it more profitably.”

Airbus A220
The smaller, more efficient A220 could prove essential in the airline’s COVID recovery. Photo: Airbus

This suggests that some high-frequency routes, even those currently using the larger A320 family aircraft, could see an early deployment of the A220. Boston to Washington is one that comes to mind, with the A220 providing higher efficiency and lower capacity than the A320, something that will be beneficial as demand slowly recovers.

We’ve already seen just how valuable the A220 has been as an aircraft type during the pandemic. Even in the worst weeks for capacity loss, almost half the A220 fleet has remained flying worldwide. This smaller, more efficient aircraft could well prove to be instrumental in leading airlines like JetBlue out of the crisis.

Still excited

Despite all the challenges, JetBlue remains focused on the future. The airline confirmed to Simple Flying last week that it still aimed to begin service to London in 2021, and had previously said at its results presentation that it would not be deferring deliveries of the A220 either. Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest said he believed it was essential to stay positive, saying,

“We don’t want to be turned deaf, we’re going through this crisis. When we come out of the other side of this, we continue to be excited about the A220s and the benefits that can bring to JetBlue.”

Are you excited to see the A220 enter service with JetBlue too? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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