Airline Forum 2020:Virtual exchange accelerates the transformation to the “New Normal” of aviation

One of the largest airline IT conferences gathers representatives of 70 airlines | Despite the challenges faced by the airline industry, Lufthansa Systems presents cutting-edge innovations and welcomes new customers.

Around 500 users will come together today at the 13th edition of the Airline Forum, the airline IT user conference organized by Lufthansa Systems. The Airline Forum unites around 70 airlines from all over the world who successfully use the ground operations solutions and commercial solutions from Lufthansa Systems. This year’s installment of the Airline Forum entitled “Transforming into the ‘New Normal’” will see the user community meet in a fully virtual format for the first time in the event’s long-standing history. Coming together on a digital platform, the participants will learn about the latest developments in the portfolio offered by the airline IT specialist that will help airlines to navigate through the crisis and return to the skies.

The use of modern technologies and a solid data basis will be key for the industry to get back on track after the global standstill of air passenger traffic. Data analyses, machine learning algorithms, other artificial intelligence (AI) methods and cloud solutions will enable airlines to make better and faster decisions in a constantly changing market environment. At the Airline Forum, Lufthansa Systems presents its latest innovations that enable airlines to transform their business to this “New Normal”. Faced with the need to optimize capacity utilization and recover from the economic downturn, industry players will benefit from the latest developments such as the optimizers for hub restructuring in network planning and scheduling, the enhanced functionalities for easier interaction between crew members in NetLine/Crew and the New Demand Indicators (NDI) Dashboard.

Due to the challenges arising in the wake of the global pandemic, airlines now more than ever appreciate the benefit of such innovative solutions. “Despite the difficulties faced by the industry, we were able to attract several new external customers recently and are particularly proud to welcome Air Transat, the Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), NEOS and Pegasus Airlines at the Airline Forum,” said Olivier Krueger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “The first-hand feedback provided by our airline customers at the conference will contribute directly to the continual improvement of our solutions, which is why the close exchange with our user community is vital for a sustainable recovery and the successful future of our industry.”

This years’ edition of the Airline Forum features a high-profile keynote speech and a broad range of expert-led sessions covering all topics that move airlines most in the current situation. Olivier Krueger and Dr. Thomas Wittmann, both CEOs of Lufthansa Systems, will kick-off the event with their opening remarks, and they are pleased to welcome Dr. Roland Schütz, EVP and CIO Lufthansa Group Airlines and Digital Initiatives, as keynote speaker. In his presentation, he will provide insights into the role played by IT in times of COVID-19. Attendees can choose their own individual program from eight product tracks and 48 product sessions. Dedicated breakout sessions will help create an informal environment, where all participants have the opportunity to connect with product experts and users from other airlines.

On the path to recovery: digital event formats drive customer dialogue in the “New Normal”

The pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digital ways of engaging that reduce the number of in-person events and facilitate remote exchange with customers. Responding to the need for social distancing while enabling close customer interaction, Lufthansa Systems launched an online conference series back in April. Called “Let’s talk about IT”, this conference series features Lufthansa Systems experts openly sharing their expertise to support airlines in adapting to the new circumstances faster and more efficiently. After eight editions, the virtual events season continued with the Lido User Group Conference 2020, an industry-leading flight operations solutions user conference, which took place virtually with more than 380 attendees from 110 airlines.

“We are delighted to see so many of our customers participate in our virtual events. Even though the format is different, these events continue to deliver tangible benefits for our customers,” said Dr. Thomas Wittmann, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “Meeting industry colleagues and exchanging ideas has always been an important foundation of our business – whether in-person or on a digital platform. In these turbulent times, we are doing our best to facilitate remote interaction, maintaining a close dialogue with our customers and preparing them for the full restart of the airline business.”


FlightAware

FlightAware announced that United Airlines has integrated its predictive data tool into the airline’s operational toolset to help decrease the instance of preventable delays; reduce missed passenger connections; and help prevent flight cancellations. FlightAware operates the world’s largest flight tracking and data platform, fusing thousands of data sources around the world to provide the most accurate and comprehensive flight tracking intelligence. Over half of all estimated arrival time (ETA) predictions for U.S.-based airlines are now powered by FlightAware data.

“It is more important than ever that United operates at the highest levels of efficiency to ensure our customers have a seamless travel experience,” said David Kensick, Managing Director of Network Operations Control, United Airlines. “By leveraging data from FlightAware, we are further able to accurately time our operations to provide reliable service and minimize any disruptions to our schedule.” United will utilize FlightAware’s data throughout its operations, including the United.com website, the United mobile app, gate displays and in all internal operational systems. Predictive data will also be used in United’s Connection Saver tool, which automatically scans flights for customers who are making tight connections to determine if the connecting flight can be held without inconveniencing other customers. With the new fully integrated solution, United will further increase its ETA accuracy and consistency. FlightAware receives data from air traffic control systems, ground stations and satellite networks across the globe. This data is combined with FlightAware’s proprietary AI models and algorithms to provide the most comprehensive flight tracking solutions to airlines. “We’re proud to offer a level of accuracy in our predictions that will enhance operational capabilities at United, and help improve the travel experience,” said Daniel Baker, FlightAware CEO.(FlightAware.com)


GOGO

Gogo Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has adopted a Section 382 Rights Plan (the “Plan”) to preserve and protect Gogo’s ability to utilize its large net operating loss carryforwards (“NOLs”) and other tax assets.

As of December 31, 2019, Gogo had approximately $580 million of federal tax NOLs, $430 million of state tax NOLs and $196 million in federal interest expense carryforwards which could be used in certain circumstances to reduce its future tax liability. The purpose of the Plan is to protect Gogo’s ability to use these tax assets, which would be substantially limited if Gogo experienced an “ownership change” as defined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code. In general, an ownership change would occur if one or more of Gogo’s shareholders who are deemed to be owners of 5 percent or more of its shares under Section 382 collectively increase their aggregate ownership of Gogo’s shares by 50 percentage points or more (measured over a rolling three-year period). Under the Plan, Gogo is issuing one Right for each share of its common stock outstanding at the close of business on October 2, 2020. Shareholders are not required to take any action to receive the Rights. Gogo intends to submit the Plan to a vote of its stockholders at its 2021 annual meeting. The Plan will expire on the day following the certification of the voting results for Gogo’s 2021 annual meeting, unless Gogo stockholders ratify the Plan at or prior to such meeting, in which case the Plan will continue in effect until September 23, 2023, unless terminated earlier in accordance with its terms.


IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for the development and deployment of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic COVID-19 testing for all passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine measures in order to re-establish global air connectivity. IATA will work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and with health authorities to implement this solution quickly.

International travel is 92% down on 2019 levels. Over half a year has passed since global connectivity was destroyed as countries closed their borders to fight COVID-19. Some governments have cautiously re-opened borders since then, but there has been limited uptake because either quarantine measures make travel impractical or the frequent changes in COVID-19 measures make planning impossible. The economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments. The human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry—on which at least 65.5 million jobs depend—collapses before the pandemic ends. And the amount of government support needed to avert such a collapse is rising. Already lost revenues are expected to exceed $400 billion and the industry was set to post a record net loss of over $80 billion in 2020 under a more optimistic rebound scenario than has actually unfolded.

IATA’s public opinion research revealed strong support for COVID-19 testing in the travel process. Some 65% of travelers surveyed agreed that quarantine should not be required if a person tests negative for COVID-19.

Passengers’ support for testing is evident in the following survey results:

  • 84% agreed that testing should be required of all travelers
  • 88% agreed that they are willing to undergo testing as part of the travel process

In addition to opening borders, public opinion research also indicated that testing will help to rebuild passenger confidence in aviation. Survey respondents identified the implementation of COVID-19 screening measures for all passengers as effective in making them feel safe, second only to mask-wearing. And, the availability of rapid COVID-19 testing is among the top three signals that travelers will look to for reassurance that travel is safe (along with the availability of a vaccine or a treatment for COVID-19).

IATA’s call is to develop a test that meets the criteria of speed, accuracy, affordability and ease of use and that could be administered systematically under the authority of governments following agreed international standards. IATA is pursuing this position through ICAO, which is leading efforts to develop and implement global standards for the safe operation of international air services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The evolution of COVID-19 testing is progressing rapidly on all parameters—speed, accuracy, affordability, ease of use and scalability. Deployable solutions are expected in the coming weeks. “By calling for the establishment of a global approach to COVID-19 testing for all passengers before departure we are sending a clear signal of aviation’s needs. In the meantime, we are gaining practical knowledge from the testing programs that already exist as part of the various travel bubble or travel corridor initiatives around the world. We must continue with these valuable programs which move us in the right direction by building testing experience, facilitating essential travel and demonstrating testing effectiveness,” said de Juniac. COVID-19 testing before departure is the preferred option as it will create a “clean” environment throughout the travel process. Testing on arrival dents passenger confidence with the potential for quarantine at destination in the event of a positive result.
There will be many practical challenges to integrating testing into the travel process establishing the protocols to safely manage large-scale testing across all industry stakeholders. “The ICAO process is critical to aligning governments to a single global standard that can be efficiently implemented and globally recognized. Airlines, airports, equipment manufacturers and governments will then need to work in total alignment so that we can get this done quickly. Each day that the industry is grounded risks more job losses and economic hardship,” said de Juniac.

IATA does not see COVID-19 testing becoming a permanent fixture in the air travel experience, but it will likely be needed into the medium-term for air travel to re-establish itself. “Many see the development of a vaccine as the panacea for the pandemic. It will certainly be an important step, but even after an effective vaccine is globally recognized, ramping up production and distribution is likely to take many months. Testing will be a much-needed interim solution,” said de Juniac.


Other News

Geneva, Switzerland | June 9, 2020–The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its financial outlook for the global air transport industry showing that airlines are expected to lose $84.3 billion in 2020 for a net profit margin of -20.1%. Revenues will fall 50% to $419 billion from $838 billion in 2019. In 2021, losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion.

“Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation. On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. In total that’s a loss of $84.3 billion. It means that—based on an estimate of 2.2 billion passengers this year—airlines will lose $37.54 per passenger. That’s why government financial relief was and remains crucial as airlines burn through cash,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Provided there is not a second and more damaging wave of COVID-19, the worst of the collapse in traffic is likely behind us. A key to the recovery is universal implementation of the re-start measures agreed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to keep passengers and crew safe. And, with the help of effective contact tracing, these measures should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine measures. That’s an important part of the economic recovery because about 10% of the world’s GDP is from tourism and much of that depends on air travel. Getting people safely flying again will be a powerful economic boost,” said de Juniac.

2020 Main Forecast Drivers:

Passenger demand evaporated as international borders closed and countries locked down to prevent the spread of the virus. This is the biggest driver of industry losses. At the low point in April, global air travel was roughly 95% below 2019 levels. There are indications that traffic is slowly improving. Nonetheless, traffic levels (in Revenue Passenger Kilometer) for 2020 are expected to fall by 54.7% compared to 2019. Passenger numbers will roughly halve to 2.25 billion, approximately equal to 2006 levels. Capacity, however, cannot be adjusted quickly enough with a 40.4% decline expected for the year.

Passenger revenues are expected to fall to $241 billion (down from $612 billion in 2019). This is greater than the fall in demand, reflecting an expected 18% fall in passenger yields as airlines try to encourage people to fly again through price stimulation. Load factors are expected to average 62.7% for 2020, some 20 percentage points below the record high of 82.5% achieved in 2019.

Costs are not falling as fast as demandTotal expenses of $517 billion are 34.9% below 2019 levels but revenues will see a 50% drop. Non-fuel unit costs will rise sharply by 14.1%, as fixed costs are spread over fewer passengers. Lower utilization of aircraft and seats as a result of restrictions will also add to rising costs.

Fuel prices offer some relief. In 2019 jet fuel averaged $77/barrel whereas the forecast average for 2020 is $36.8. Fuel is expected to account for 15% of overall costs (compared to 23.7% in 2019).

Cargo is the one bright spot. Compared to 2019, overall freight tonnes carried are expected to drop by 10.3 million tonnes to 51 million tonnes. However, a severe shortage in cargo capacity due to the unavailability of belly cargo on (grounded) passenger aircraft is expected to push rates up by some 30% for the year. Cargo revenues will reach a near-record $110.8 billion in 2020 (up from $102.4 billion in 2019). As a portion of industry revenues, cargo will contribute approximately 26%–up from 12% in 2019.

2020 Regional Performance

All regions will post losses in 2020. The crisis has taken on a similar dimension in all parts of the world with capacity cuts lagging about 10-15 percentage points or more behind the over-50% fall in demand.







Reduced Losses in 2021

With open borders and rising demand in 2021, the industry is expected to cut its losses to $15.8 billion for a net profit margin of -2.6%. Airlines will be in recovery mode but still well below pre-crisis levels (2019) on many performance measures:

  • Total passenger numbers are expected to rebound to 3.38 billion (roughly 2014 levels when there were 3.33 billion travelers), which is well below the 4.54 billion travelers in 2019.
  • Overall revenues are expected to be $598 billion which would be a 42% improvement in 2020, but still 29% below 2019’s $838 billion.
  • Unit costs are expected to fall as fixed costs are spread across more passengers than in 2020. But the continued virus control measures will limit the gains by reducing aircraft utilization rates.
  • Cargo’s enlarged footprint in the air transport industry will remain. Cargo revenues will reach a record $138 billion (a 25% increase on 2020). That is about 23% of total industry revenues, roughly double its historical share. Air cargo demand is expected to be strong as businesses restock at the start of the economic upturn, while a slow return of the passenger fleet will limit the growth of cargo capacity, and keep cargo yields steady at 2020 levels.
  • Jet fuel prices are expected to rise to an average of $51.8 per barrel for the year, as global economic activity and oil demand rises. While that will add some cost pressure on airlines, the price per barrel is similar to 2016 ($52.1) and will still be the lowest since 2004 ($49.7).

“Airlines will still be financially fragile in 2021. Passenger revenues will be more than one-third smaller than in 2019. And airlines are expected to lose about $5 for every passenger carried. The cut in losses will come from re-opened borders leading to increased volumes of travelers. Strong cargo operations and comparatively low fuel prices will also give the industry a boost. Competition among airlines will no doubt be even more intense. That will translate into strong incentives for travelers to take to the skies again. The challenge for 2022 will be turning reduced losses of 2021 into the profits that airlines will need to pay off their debts from this terrible crisis,” said de Juniac.

A Challenging Recovery

Although losses will be significantly reduced in 2021 from 2020 levels, the industry’s recovery is expected to be long and challenging. Some factors include:

  • Debt Levels: Airlines entered 2020 in relatively good financial shape. After a decade of profits, debt levels were relatively low ($430 billion, roughly half annual revenues). Vital financial relief measures by governments have kept airlines from going bankrupt but have ballooned debt by $120 billion to $550 billion which is about 92% of expected revenues in 2021. Further relief measures should be focused on helping airlines to generate more working capital and stimulating demand rather than further expanding debt.
  • Operational efficiencies: The global measures agreed for the industry re-start, for the period that they are implemented, will significantly change operational parameters. For example, physical distancing during embarkation/disembarking, more deep cleaning, and increased cabin check will all add time to operations which will decrease overall aircraft utilization.
  • Recession: The depth and duration of the recession to come will significantly impact business and consumer confidence. Pent-up demand is likely to drive an initial uptick in travel numbers but sustaining that is likely to require price stimulus and that will put pressure on profits.
  • Confidence: Travel patterns are likely to shift. The gradual opening up of air travel is likely to be progressive, starting with domestic markets, followed by regional and, lastly, international. Research suggests that some 60% of travelers will be eager to recommence travel within a few months of the pandemic coming under control. The same research also indicates that an even greater percentage of potential travelers until their personal financial situation stabilizes (69%) or if quarantine measures are in place (over 80%).

“People will want to fly again, provided they have confidence in their personal financial situation and the measures taken to keep travelers safe. There is no tried and true playbook for a recovery from COVID-19 but the ICAO Takeoff re-start plan outlines globally harmonized measures agreed by health and industry experts. It is important that the industry and governments follow it so that travelers will have the maximum reassurance about their safety. That will be a good start. And depending on how the pandemic evolves, knowledge of the virus deepens, or science improves, industry and governments will be better prepared for a globally coordinated response. That includes the potential removal of measures when it is safe. That will give airlines some breathing room to rebuild demand and repair damaged balance sheets,” said de Juniac.

There may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as there are signs that the aviation industry has seen the bottom of the crisis and started the slow recovery. Readers will see a report from IATA reflecting this uptick. We also note in Other News an article from the New York Times that talks about when epidemiologists will be willing to undertake 18 everyday activities, including flying. – definitely worth the read!


IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that demand for air services is beginning to recover after hitting bottom in April. Passenger demand in April (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), plunged 94.3% compared to April 2019, as the COVID-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down domestic and international air travel. This is a rate of decline never seen in the history of IATA’s traffic series, which dates back to 1990. More recently, figures show that daily flight totals rose 30% between the low point on 21 April and 27 May. This is primarily in domestic operations and off of a very low base (5.7% of 2019 demand). While this uptick is not significant to the global dimension of the air transport industry, it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence. In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of re-establishing connectivity.

“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time—possibly years—to mature,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA calculated that by the first week of April, governments in 75% of the markets tracked by IATA completely banned entry, while an additional 19% had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals. The initial flight increases have been concentrated in domestic markets. Data from late May show that flight levels in Republic of Korea, China and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22-28% lower than a year earlier . Searches for air travel on Google also were up 25% by the end of May compared to the April low, although that’s a rise from a very low base and still 60% lower than at the start of the year.
“For aviation, April was our cruelest month. Governments had to take drastic action to slow the pandemic. But that has come with the economic cost of a traumatic global recession. Airlines will be key to the economic recovery. It is vital that the aviation industry is ready with bio-safety measures that passengers and air transport workers have confidence in. That’s why the speedy implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) global guidelines for safely re-starting aviation is the top priority,” said de Juniac.


SITA

SITA has made several changes to its executive management team responsible for SITA’s product portfolios. These appointments come at crucial juncture as the air transport industry begins the difficult task of restarting operations after a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 crisis.

David Lavorel, previously CEO of SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, has been appointed to head SITA AT AIRPORTS AND BORDERS, SITA’s airport and border solution portfolio. A key focus in 2020 will be to support SITA’s airline and airport customers to implement smart solutions to accommodate new passenger processes required to ensure the health and safety of travelers and employees. SITA is well placed to support the re-engineering of the passenger journey and to manage rapidly changing requirements at the border with the delivery of new solutions such as SITA’s cloud-based, open API platform, SITA Flex.

David will replace Matthys Serfontein, who will be retiring from SITA after 13 years. Sébastien Fabre, previously VP Airline & Airports Portfolio, will replace David to head SITA FOR AIRCRAFT. As airlines globally begin to resume flights, they will increasingly turn to SITA FOR AIRCRAFT to deliver new operational efficiencies such as faster turnarounds while extracting the full benefit of modern connected aircraft.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SITA, said: “Ensuring strong leadership of our key business areas is especially important as we look to support the industry as it begins to return to the skies. After more than a decade proving themselves highly capable of driving innovation while ensuring continued customer satisfaction, Sébastien and David are perfectly placed to steer the business through the new challenges and deliver solutions that help support the industry’s recovery.”
The new appointments came into effect from June 1, 2020.


Airbus

Airbus’ 2020 gross orders by May 31st totaled 365 aircraft and net orders stood at 299 aircraft. The Company registered zero cancellations in May and no new orders. During the month, 24 deliveries were achieved from the A220, A320 and A350 XWB aircraft families. Business in May brings the overall total orders logged by Airbus since its creation to 20,407 commercial aircraft, which includes 642 A220s, 15,572 A320 Family aircraft, 1,819 A330s, 930 A350 XWBs, and 251 A380s. In May, Airbus delivered two A220-300 to Air Canada and 18 A320 Family aircraft including the first A320neo to Wizz Air. For Airbus widebody aircraft, four A350 XWBs were provided in both A350-900 and A350-1000 configurations. Airbus’ backlog of aircraft remaining to be delivered as of 31st May stood at 7,621, comprising 527 A220s, 6,199 A320 Family aircraft (including 6,139 A320neo Family), 322 A330s (including 287 A330neo family), 564 A350 XWBs and nine A380s.

More News from the company: Airbus named Anand Stanley as President Airbus Asia-Pacific, effective 1 July 2020. Based in Singapore, Anand Stanley will lead the strategy and future positioning of Airbus and its divisions across the region. In this role he will have responsibility for commercial aircraft sales and customer affairs, group-wide government affairs, industrial and joint venture partnerships, as well as the local operations at Airbus sites across the region. Anand Stanley reports to Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International, and will work closely with the Heads of Region for the Airbus Helicopters and Defence and Space divisions who are co-located at the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore.

Anand Stanley joined Airbus in 2018 as President & Managing Director of Airbus India, where he has overseen the Airbus business development and advanced the company’s position with key stakeholders, including customers, government agencies and industry partners. Prior to joining Airbus, Anand Stanley held senior positions in the civil aerospace, defence and helicopter markets, as well as in strategic management and M&A planning, having worked with the Linde Group, UTC, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. Over his career he has worked extensively internationally, with more than two decades of involvement in Asia and the Pacific region.

“Anand has brought a wealth of experience to Airbus and managed the company’s operations in India with very positive results,” said Christian Scherer. “His proven track record makes him the right choice to lead Airbus in the key Asia-Pacific market. We know that we can count on Anand to focus on supporting our customers in these most challenging times, while developing further our position as the leading partner for the aerospace sector in the region.”

Anand Stanley has an MBA from the University of Virginia-Darden in the US, a Bachelors of Engineering from Andhra University, as well as a postgraduate degree from IMI-Delhi.Anand Stanley succeeds Patrick de Castelbajac, who is leaving Airbus.

“On behalf of all of us at Airbus, I would like to thank my friend Patrick for his contribution and strong engagement during his years with Airbus and wish him all the very best in his personal and professional future,” added Christian Scherer.


Boeing

The Boeing Order Book at the end of April placed some 4,633 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on order, with some 387 delivered to date.


Other News

Montreal | April 27, 2020– The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on regulators to take urgent action to help civil aviation operate seamlessly and safely between states during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to help facilitate the restart when the virus is contained. Specifically, IATA asked states to take the following immediate steps:

  • Work with the aviation industry to find temporary measures to ensure that licenses and certificates critical to managing aviation safety are extended to remain valid;
  • File their temporary measures with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO);
  • Recognize the measures of other states that are filed with ICAO.

Many aviation regulators around the globe have already taken the necessary steps to provide airlines and licensed crew with the required flexibility, such as extensions to the validity periods for licenses, ratings and certificates, so operational capabilities can be maintained. However, to be effective, these measures must be filed with ICAO so that they can be visible to and recognized by counterpart states. Without mutual recognition, airlines are faced with uncertainty over whether they might be restricted by the states whose territory they enter.

‘’Safety is always the top priority. We therefore commend ICAO for their swift action to facilitate the sharing of states’ temporary regulatory extensions, making it easier for states to extend their mutual recognition,’’ said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Safety and Flight Operations.

At present, many of the world’s aviation regulators are not able to perform their standard administration of various licenses, as their operations have also been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. In order not to further impede global aviation, ICAO has established the COVID-19 Contingency Related Differences (CCRD) system. This enables all states to record any differences to their standard policies and to make a clear statement that they accept other states’ differences through a new form.  This will ensure safe continuity of flights between countries in a harmonized, documented process.

Geneva | April 7, 2020– The International Air Transport Association has released  new analysis showing that some 25 million jobs are at risk of disappearing with plummeting demand for air travel amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Globally, the livelihoods of some 65.5 million people are dependent on the aviation industry, including sectors such as travel and tourism. Among these are 2.7 million airlines jobs. In a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, IATA research calculates that 25 million jobs in aviation and related sectors are endangered across the world:

  • 11.2 million jobs in Asia-Pacific
  • 5.6 million jobs in Europe
  • 2.9 million jobs in Latin America
  • 2.0 million jobs in North America
  • 2.0 million jobs in Africa
  • 0.9 million jobs in the Middle East

In the same scenario, airlines are expected to see full year passenger revenues fall by $252 billion (-44%) in 2020 compared to 2019. The second quarter is the most critical with demand falling 70% at its worst point, and airlines burning through $61 billion in cash.

Airlines are calling on governments to provide immediate financial aid to help airlines to remain viable businesses able to lead the recovery when the pandemic is contained. Specifically, IATA calls for:

  • Direct financial support
  • Loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market
  • Tax relief

“There are no words to adequately describe the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry. And the economic pain will be shared by 25 million people who work in jobs dependent upon airlines. Airlines must be viable businesses so that they can lead the recovery when the pandemic is contained. A lifeline to the airlines now is critical,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Looking Ahead: Re-booting the Industry

Alongside vital financial relief, the industry will also need careful planning and coordination to ensure that airlines are ready when the pandemic is contained.

“We have never shuttered the industry on this scale before. Consequently, we have no experience in starting it up. It will be complicated. At the practical level, we will need contingencies for licenses and certifications that have expired. We will have to adapt operations and processes to avoid reinfections via imported cases. And we must find a predictable and efficient approach to managing travel restrictions which need to be lifted before we can get back to work. These are just some of the major tasks that are ahead of us. And to be successful, industry and government must be aligned and working together,” said de Juniac.

IATA is scoping a comprehensive approach to re-booting the industry when governments and public health authorities allow. A multi-stakeholder approach will be essential. One initial step is a series of virtual meetings—or summits—on a regional basis, bringing together governments and industry stakeholders. The main objectives will be:

  • Understanding what is needed to re-open closed borders, and
  • Agreeing solutions that can be operationalized and scaled efficiently

“We are not expecting to re-start the same industry that we closed a few weeks ago. Airlines will still connect the world. And we will do that through a variety of business models. But the industry processes will need to adapt. We must get on with this work quickly. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made after 9.11 when many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way. We ended up with a mess of measures that we are still sorting out today. The 25 million people whose jobs are at risk by this crisis will depend on an efficient re-start of the industry,” said de Juniac.

Summit dates are being confirmed in the expectation of a start before the end of April.

Geneva | April 2, 2020–The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for February 2020 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell 14.1% compared to February 2019. This was the steepest decline in traffic since 9.11 and reflected collapsing domestic travel in China and sharply falling international demand to/from and within the Asia-Pacific region, owing to the spreading COVID-19 virus and government-imposed travel restrictions. February capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) fell 8.7% as airlines scrambled to trim capacity in line with plunging traffic, and load factor fell 4.8 percentage points to 75.9%.

“Airlines were hit by a sledgehammer called COVID-19 in February. Borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. And the impact on aviation has left airlines with little to do except cut costs and take emergency measures in an attempt to survive in these extraordinary circumstances. The 14.1% global fall in demand is severe, but for carriers in Asia-Pacific the drop was 41%. And it has only grown worse. Without a doubt this is the biggest crisis that the industry has ever faced,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

February international passenger demand fell 10.1% compared to February 2019, the worst outcome since the 2003 SARS outbreak and a reversal from the 2.6% traffic increase recorded in January. Europe and Middle East were the only regions to see a year-over-year traffic rise. Capacity fell 5.0%, and load factor plunged 4.2 percentage points to 75.3%.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic plummeted 30.4% compared to the year-ago period, steeply reversing a 3.0% gain recorded in January. Capacity fell 16.9% and load factor collapsed to 67.9%, a 13.2-percentage point drop compared to February 2019.

European carriers’ February demand was virtually flat compared to a year ago (+0.2%), the region’s weakest performance in a decade. The slowdown was driven by routes to/from Asia, where the growth rate slowed by 25 percentage points in February, versus January. Demand  in markets within Europe performed solidly despite some initial flight suspensions on the routes to/from Italy. However, March data will reflect the impact of the spread of the virus across Europe and the related disruptions to travel. February capacity rose 0.7%, and load factor slipped 0.4 percentage point to 82.0%, which was the highest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 1.6% traffic increase in February, a slowdown from the 5.3% year-over-year growth reported in January largely owing to a slowdown on Middle East-Asia-Pacific routes. Capacity increased by 1.3%, and load factor edged up 0.2 percentage point to 72.6%. 

North American carriers had a 2.8% traffic decline in February, reversing a 2.9% gain in January, as international entry restrictions hit home and volumes on Asia-North America routes plunged 30%. Capacity fell 1.5%, and load factor dropped 1.0 percentage point to 77.7%.

Latin American airlines experienced a 0.4% demand drop in February compared to the same month last year. This actually was an improvement over the 3.5% decline recorded in January. However, the spread of the virus and resulting travel restrictions will be reflected in March results. Capacity also fell 0.4% and load factor was flat compared to February 2019 at 81.3%.

African airlines’ traffic slipped 1.1% in February, versus a 5.6% traffic increase recorded in January and the weakest outcome since 2015. The decline was driven by around a 35% year-on-year traffic fall in the Africa-Asia market. Capacity rose 4.8%, however, and load factor sagged 3.9 percentage points to 65.7%, lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Demand for domestic travel dropped 20.9% in February compared to February 2019, as Chinese domestic market collapsed in the face of the government lockdown. Domestic capacity fell 15.1% and load factor dropped 5.6 percentage points to 77.0%.

Chinese airlines’ domestic traffic fell 83.6% in February, the worst outcome since IATA began tracking the market in 2000. With the easing of some restrictions on internal travel in March, domestic demand is showing some tentative signs of improvement.

US airlines enjoyed one of their strongest months in February, as domestic traffic jumped 10.1%. Demand fell  toward the end of the month, however, with the full impact of COVID-19 expected to show in March results.

The Bottom Line

“This is aviation’s darkest hour and it is difficult to see a sunrise ahead unless governments do more to support the industry through this unprecedented global crisis. We are grateful to those that have stepped up with relief measures, but many more need to do so. Our most recent analysis shows that airlines may burn through $61 billion of their cash reserves during the second quarter ending 30 June 2020. This includes $35 billion in sold-but-unused tickets as a result of massive flight cancellations owing to government-imposed travel restrictions. We welcome the actions of those regulators who have relaxed rules so as to permit airlines to issue travel vouchers in lieu of refunds for unused tickets; and we urge others to do the same. Air transport will play a much-needed role in supporting the inevitable recovery. But without additional government action today, the industry will not be in a position to help when skies are brighter tomorrow,” said de Juniac.

Read the full report for February 2020 (pdf)

Geneva | March 2, 2020–The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is contacting aviation regulators worldwide to request that the rules governing use of airport slots be suspended immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus).

Around 43% of all passengers depart from over 200 slot coordinated airports worldwide. At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season. In exceptional circumstances, regulators can relax this requirement. The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on air traffic.  Airlines are experiencing serious declines in demand. Including:

  • A carrier experiencing a 26% reduction across their entire operation in comparison to last year
  • A hub carrier reporting bookings to Italy down 108% as bookings collapse to zero and refunds grow
  • Many carriers reporting 50% no-shows across several markets
  • Future bookings are softening and carriers are reacting with measures such as crew being given unpaid leave, freezing of pay increases, and plans for aircraft to be grounded.

Given these extraordinary circumstances as a result of the public health emergency, the collective view of the airline industry is that the application of the 80% rule during the upcoming season is inappropriate. Flexibility is needed for airlines to adjust their schedules according to extraordinary demand developments.

Regulators have already been waiving the slot rules on a rolling basis during the COVID-19 crisis primarily for operations to China and Hong Kong SAR. However, given the recent further outbreaks this is no longer contained to the Asia markets.  Without certainty that these waivers will continue for the summer season (or winter season in the Southern hemisphere), airlines are unable to plan ahead sufficiently to ensure efficient rostering of crew or deployment of aircraft.

Suspending the requirement for the entire season (to October 2020) will mean that airlines can respond to market conditions with appropriate capacity levels, avoiding any need to run empty services in order to maintain slots. Aircraft can be reallocated to other routes or parked, crew can have certainty on their schedules.

“IATA research has shown that traffic has collapsed on key Asian routes and that this is rippling throughout the air transport network globally, even between countries without major outbreaks of COVID-19. There are precedents for previous suspension of the slot use rules and we believe the circumstances again calls for a suspension to be granted.  We are calling for regulators worldwide to help the industry plan for today’s emergency, and the future recovery of the network, by suspending the slot use rules on a temporary basis,“ said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“The world is facing a huge challenge to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while enabling the global economy to continue functioning. Airlines are on the front line of that challenge and it’s essential that the regulatory community work with us to ensure airlines are able to operate in the most sustainable manner, both economically and environmentally, to alleviate the worst impacts of the crisis,” he said.

  • JetBlue trialing Collins Aerospace biometric self-boarding gates at JFK
  • Passengers can now use SelfPass facial scan technology to streamline the boarding process.

Annapolis, Maryland |March 26, 2019–JetBlue is advancing the boarding process at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) with SelfPass — a biometric facial scanning process implemented by Collins Aerospace, in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Passengers using SelfPass, with fully integrated self-boarding gates, may board international flights through one gate in Terminal 5 and experience a more streamlined process. Boarding is performed in a matter of seconds and eliminates the need to present traditional boarding and identification documents.

With SelfPass, there is no pre-registration required. Air travelers simply step up to the camera for a facial match against their travel document — such as CBP photos previously loaded in the system — then proceed to board the aircraft.

“Biometric solutions are the future when it comes to improving the passenger experience at the airport, and JetBlue is playing a crucial role to make this transformation a reality,” said Christopher Forrest, vice president of Global Airport Systems for Collins Aerospace. “Not only are we reducing the amount of time it takes a passenger to move through the airport, but we’re also adding a heightened level of security.”

“The innovative use of biometrics for customer processing is driving the aviation industry forward and aligns with IATA’s One ID concept,” said Ian Deason, senior vice president of customer experience for JetBlue. “By working together with Collins Aerospace, we’re bringing JetBlue customers a personal, helpful and simple experience each time they fly.”

SelfPass doesn’t just benefit the passenger. It enables airports and airlines to implement and grow their biometric capabilities at various touchpoints by being uniquely scalable and hardware independent. By implementing a more efficient boarding process, airlines can improve on-time departures and increase passenger satisfaction.

SkyLights today released a report for airline customer experience managers addressing the current opportunities and obstacles Virtual Reality In-Flight Entertainment (VR IFE) presents to airlines.

Paris, France | June 6, 2018–SkyLights today released a special report for airline customer experience managers entitled “Virtual Reality IFE : Opportunities & Obstacles Addressed”. The paper, which has been published to coincide with IATA’s first ‘Aviation Virtual & Augmented Reality Summit’ in Geneva, aims to further the industry’s understanding of VR IFE as it stands today by exploring the opportunities it offers, as well as the obstacles and respective solutions for implementation.

72% of passengers are willing to adopt VR IFE over other IFE systems, according to an independent survey referenced in the paper. This figure is particularly pronounced among millennials and frequent flyers, at 75% and 80% respectively. With this in mind, the report argues VR IFE can enable airlines to ‘stand out from the crowd and secure a sustainable competitive advantage in the midst of increased competition and increasingly empowered consumers’.

“Leveraging VR as IFE makes a lot of sense on long-haul flights. It offers a remarkable customer experience that makes time fly and creates a feeling of space and privacy onboard.”, said Laurence Fornari, SkyLights’ Head of Sales and Marketing.

In exploring the obstacles of VR IFE highlighted in Gogo’s 2015 white paper ‘Head Mounted Displays for In-Flight Entertainment’, SkyLights’ study explains the solutions that are currently in place and the fast-paced progress that has been made in the field. It concludes that, thanks to advancements made in VR technology and content over the last three years, VR is now ready to deploy in-flight.

“There are two common objections to VR IFE. The first is VR sickness, which is resolved by offering a fixed-screen, cinematic experience, or carefully curating the increasingly abundant VR films that are suitable to view in-flight. At SkyLights, we do both. The second obstacle is passenger safety, which can be circumvented by enabling the cabin crew to pause VR headsets to make an announcement.”, said Rateb Zaouk, SkyLights’ Head of Operations.

While, in the short term, it is unlikely VR IFE will replace seatback screens on long-haul flights, the report explains the advantages of offering VR as an additional service to add value and differentiate the customer journey. Similarly, it suggests VR IFE and W-IFE can be combined for a low cost/high value entertainment offering.

Topics covered in the white paper include:

  • VR within the IFE ecosystem
  • Airline use cases
  • VR IFE content types
  • Opportunities for airlines
  • Obstacles to bringing VR IFE onboard

The report can be downloaded for free at;

http://www.skylights.aero/white-paper-vr-inflight-entertainment/

Geneva, Switzerland | April 19, 2018– Airlines around the world have once again improved the rate of baggage delivery, this is according to the SITA 2018 Baggage Report  published today. This continues the improvement trend of more than a decade which has seen baggage mishandling drop by 70% since 2007. This is the 14th year that SITA has issued its report and it marks 2018 as a turning point for the global air transport industry as airlines increasingly adopt baggage tracking technologies.

SITA’s report details how baggage management is changing globally and airline passengers can expect to see major differences over the next two years. Services like real-time notifications and fast self-service bag drop will be more commonplace and 2018 is the year that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Resolution 753 comes into effect which will see the industry increase baggage tracking.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SITA, said: “Over the last decade, we have seen significant improvements in bag management as airlines have taken advantage of technology. Now with IATA’s drive for 100% bag tracking, technology adoption will rise further. End-to-end tracking produces data which reveals where improvements can be made in operational processes. While we won’t see a sudden change in 2018, it is a real turning point for the industry as airlines begin to unlock the value of the tracking data for the 4.65 billion bags they carry.”

The growth in passenger numbers globally puts considerable pressure on the industry’s baggage systems and processes. With the rise to more than 4 billion passengers in 2017, the airlines did well to reduce the rate of mishandled bags. In fact, at 5.57 per thousand passengers it was the lowest level ever recorded. Despite the improvement, mishandled bags cost the industry an estimated $2.3 billion in 2017 so there is considerable scope for cost savings from airline investments in end-to-end bag tracking.

SITA’s Baggage Report includes examples of how airlines, including Aeroflot, Alitalia, Bahamasair, Delta and Qatar, are using innovative and proven technologies to improve bag management and tracking. One case study outlines how the airline Bahamasair went from scanning bag tag labels on a “bingo” card to full Resolution 753 tracking in Miami and Nassau airports inside seven days. This included the full ability to share tracking data in real-time via SITA’s BagJourney service. This initiative will deliver benefits to the airline in the way of improved passenger service and cost savings.

SITA provides IT and communications to the air transport industry and is the only single-source vendor covering all areas of baggage management from data capture to management and sharing using the latest technology. SITA has been the recognized leader in bag tracking and tracing for more than 25 years with its systems in every major airport in the world. SITA BagJourney is the world’s first community-based baggage tracking system that provides an end-to-end view of the baggage journey using data from multiple sources. Today, SITA is leading the baggage community by providing technology and professional services to help airlines track baggage and unlock the value of the vast amounts of tracking data that will be produced.

For further details, download SITA’s full report.

Gogo Conducts First Successful Test Flight on its Next Generation ATG Network

Gogo, the leading global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, announced it has conducted its first successful test flight and has begun the nationwide rollout of its new regional Air-to-Ground (ATG) inflight network.

The next generation ATG network combined with Gogo’s proprietary aero antenna, in-cabin network and software platform will bring up to 30 times more bandwidth to an aircraft than our original ATG solution.  Once the network upgrades are complete, Gogo will have a North American ATG solution that will deliver performance on the aircraft that is comparable to Gogo’s 2Ku global satellite solution.

Gogo’s next generation ATG network will have peak network capacity of more than 100 Gbps.  When combined with Gogo’s global satellite network, Gogo will have the highest capacity network ever built that’s dedicated to serving aviation.

“Our networks and inflight connectivity solutions are dedicated to serving aviation and today we are delivering more bandwidth to deliver a better passenger experience and support our aviation partners’ operations,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO.

Our next generation ATG network utilizes unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4GHz spectrum band as well as the licensed spectrum from Gogo’s original ATG network to provide greater bandwidth and reliability.  It also leverages Gogo’s existing ATG network backhaul and infrastructure of more than 250 cell towers.  On the aircraft, Gogo has developed a proprietary new antenna and modem that will produce peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps per aircraft.

The solution will be ideal for business aviation aircraft, commercial regional jets and select mainline aircraft operating in the U.S. For business aviation aircraft, this service will be available as an upgrade to aircraft already equipped with Gogo’s Avance L5 connectivity solution.  For commercial aviation, any aircraft outfitted with equipment designed to leverage Gogo’s first generation ATG network will simply need to be outfitted with a new modem and blade antenna to take advantage of the new service.  The network will be available in 2018.


Panasonic News from APEX:

During APEX in September Panasonic (PAC) announced a multi aircraft deal with Interjet for IFEC; a partnership with Tascent to co-develop biometric solutions in airports and on planes; a 15-channel TV lineup for US routes; and a new Vice President of Operations: Adri Ruiter. On top of these announcements the company for the first time ever, announced a review/forecast of their financial performance for 2017: $2.5 billion. They stated that they have over three years of backlog and that their business is healthy and tracking in line with the IFEC industry in general. David Bruner during the press briefing stated that since the April 2017 AIX press review they have  achieved the following:  IFE – 626 (397 linefit); IFC – 185 (85 linefit); PTS – 50+ active customers with 65% on a total care package. David Bruner continued by saying that eX3 and eX1 represent 60% of their total IFE sales, and that roughly 70+% of connected aircraft are forecast to include television. “The number of linefit aircraft is important,” said David Bruner. “Panasonic is on every single aircraft program, on every OEM.” Panasonic’s objective is to build a long term sustainable business, and linefit is of paramount importance to this goal.  They have a focus on the IFC market space and firmly believe that, at the time of the presentation, they are the only IFEC company with global regulatory approval. In conjunction with their global business scale, a commitment to growing their order book, and a focus on symbiotic relationships that are beneficial to both the airline and PAC, Panasonic states that they are in a position to, not only sustain, but grow their business.  They also presented their industry fleet forecast through 2025 and they are predicting: 11,218 narrow body aircraft from Boeing and Airbus; 2,959 wide bodies from Boeing and Airbus, and 2,154  from Bombardier and Embraer. Interestingly, PAC is forecasting that by 2023 90% of all wide bodies will be equipped withh IFC; as will 65% of narrow bodies. They also stated that PAC anticipates 10,000 aircraft to be committed to Panasonic by 2025! Why so confident? Perhaps a good portion of their confidence comes from their plans and dedication to network upgrades, as well as, the flexible/scale-able approach of the nEXT IFEC system. “There will always be a frequency shortage and we will be adaptive,” said Bruner. The company is growing their capacity to 8Ghz in 2018, with availability on 99.8% of airline routes. They are deploying XTS to meet airline needs and growth; as well as, rolling out new modem technology to dramatically improve performance. The new modem will be rolled out in North America in 2017, featuring 3 teleports, 4 satellites, and 12 transponders. Globally, the target roll out date is January 1, 2018 with 12 teleports and 16 satellites. PAC will be adding a large amount of High Throughput Satellites in March/April of 2018 – both over the Pacific and North America.  These factors, in conjunction with their dedication to improve their network and support infrastructure may well keep Panasonic in the cat-bird seat moving forward.


Astronics Acquires Telefonix Inc.

Astronics Corporation, a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Telefonix Inc. and a related company, Product Development Technologies, LLC, (together as “Telefonix PDT”) for approximately $104 million in cash, funded with Astronics’ senior revolving credit facility. The acquisition is expected to close by year end, and is subject to typical closing conditions, including a review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Telefonix PDT, located in Waukegan and Lake Zurich, Illinois, designs and manufactures advanced in-flight entertainment and connectivity equipment, as well as providing industry leading design consultancy services for the global aerospace industry. The company’s products include wireless access points, file servers, content loaders, passenger control units and cord reels, as well as engineering services for its customers.


Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom demonstrate European Aviation Network satellite and ground integration in flight 

 Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, and Deutsche Telekom, the leading integrated telecommunications company, have successfully completed the first flight trials to test both the satellite and complementary ground network for their European Aviation Network (EAN) service.

EAN is the world’s first dedicated aviation solution to combine space and ground based components to deliver robust, ultra-lightweight, high-speed inflight broadband to airlines. The recent flights demonstrated that EAN meets its design performance in practice; a significant milestone for the project consortium, as well as European airlines and their passengers.

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom conducted the evaluation with partners Cobham, Thales and Nokia using a CESSNA 550 Citation II provided by Dutch company NLR. The aircraft was flown across Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, covering approximately 5,000 km of European airspace, to test integration of the Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminals. Further flight trials are scheduled over the coming weeks.

Inmarsat’s EAN satellite, which completed its in-orbit tests last month after being launched by Arianespace, works seamlessly with a complementary network of around 300 LTE-based ground stations, operated by Deutsche Telekom, using an Advanced Integrated Services Manager (AISM) platform. International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes world-renowned airline brands such as British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service.


First A320neo assembled in Tianjin delivered to Air Asia

AirAsia has taken delivery of the first A320neo assembled at the Airbus Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA) at a dedicated ceremony in Tianjin, China. The aircraft, powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, seats comfortably 186 passengers and is equipped with the innovative Space-Flex cabin.

AirAsia is the largest airline customer of the A320 Family with orders for 578 aircraft. These include 404 A320neo Family aircraft.

Aireen Omar, AirAsia Berhad Chief Executive Officer said: “We are very proud to receive the first Airbus A320neo fully assembled in Tianjin, China and we would like to congratulate Airbus for achieving yet another milestone. This is also a milestone for us at AirAsia; we connect 19 cities with 59 routes into Greater China and have flown over 40 million passengers in and out of China since April 2005, making us China’s largest foreign airline by capacity. We are certainly proud to have this historic aircraft as part of our fleet. “

The FALA in Tianjin, inaugurated in 2008 became the third single-aisle aircraft final assembly line location of Airbus worldwide, following Toulouse and Hamburg. It was also the first Airbus Final Assembly Line outside Europe. Today, some 340 aircraft have been assembled and delivered from Tianjin, China.

The A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver at least 15 percent fuel savings at delivery and 20 percent by 2020. With more than 5,200 orders received from 95 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 percent share of the market.


Boeing Reports Third-Quarter Results; Raises Cash Flow and EPS Guidance

  • Revenue of $24.3 billion, including a record 202 commercial aircraft deliveries
  • GAAP EPS of $3.06 and core EPS (non-GAAP)* of $2.72 on solid execution
  • Strong operating cash flow of $3.4 billion; repurchased 11 million shares for $2.5 billion
  • Backlog remains robust at $474 billion, including nearly 5,700 aircraft in commercial airplane orders
  • Cash flow and EPS guidance raised; segment guidance updated

Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines celebrated the delivery of the carrier’s first Boeing 787-9. Ethiopian is leasing the Dreamliner through an agreement with AerCap.

Ethiopian’s newest 787 touched down in Addis Ababa following a non-stop 8,354 mile (13,444 km) delivery flight from Boeing’s Everett, Wash., facility. Ethiopian becomes the first carrier in Africa to operate the 787-9 and extends a tradition of setting aviation milestones. Ethiopian became Africa’s first carrier to fly the 787-8 in 2012, and similarly introduced the 777-200LR (Longer Ran


More:

THALES
Thales and Japan Airlines welcome the entry into service of the Boeing 787-9 newly configured aircraft equipped with AVANT In-Flight Entertainment system. The new JAL Sky Suite 787-9 cabin on the airline’s Tokyo Narita to Kuala Lumpur route debuted this summer. Japan Airlines is a long-term, valued Thales customer who is the first Asian airline to choose AVANT on the Boeing 787 series. AVANT offers a state-of-the-art Android-based IFE solution with customizable passenger experience and an extensive selection of features and applications. The Boeing 787-9 aircraft, equipped with AVANT, utilizes the latest Magic VI system which includes Audio and Video On Demand (AVOD), games and applications customized to JAL – On-Boarding Shopping, Meal Order and Sky Manga, eBook application. Magic VI offers in total 300 movies, videos and music programs for passengers to enjoy right at their fingertips. The newly configured aircraft has 52 business class, 35 premium economy class and 116 economy class seats. Japan Airlines’ decision to use AVANT on Boeing 787-9 line-fit fleet testifies the utmost satisfaction the system brings to their passengers. The airline also operates Thales IFE systems on their Boeing 767, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 aircraft, flying across domestic and international routes. Noted Dominique Giannoni, CEO, Thales InFlyt Experience: “Japan Airlines and Thales have developed a close partnership based on mutual respect and trust for one another. With the advanced technology of our IFE systems onboard the newly configured JAL B787-9 Dreamliner passengers will enjoy an engaging and memorable travel experience.”

Panasonic
Panasonic Avionics today announces the appointment of David Bartlett as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Bartlett will be responsible for the continued development of Panasonic Avionics’ technology roadmap, harnessing his extensive experience in software and the Internet of Things. He previously served as CTO of GE Aviation and was most recently the CTO of Current by GE. GE Aviation is a leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems. Current, powered by GE, blends LED lighting and solar solutions with networked sensors and software to make cities and buildings energy efficient and smart. Noted Mark Jennings, Chief Operating Officer, Panasonic Avionics Corporation said: “We are delighted to welcome David to our team. For over 30 years, Panasonic Avionics has been the leader in delivering new and innovative inflight entertainment and connectivity services to the world’s leading airlines. We believe that David’s background in IoT, mobility, and security will ensure that we maintain a leadership position as we deliver our next-generation digital cabin solutions to our airline customers.” Over the course of his career, Bartlett also held several management positions at IBM including Director of IBM Europe Software Development Lab, and Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Africa Support and Services. He led IBM’s Autonomic Computing program strategy at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. As IBM’s Vice President of Smarter Physical Infrastructure, he led digital projects in transportation, smart grid, and smart buildings where he was named one of the ‘top 15 people in the world to watch’ in intelligent buildings. David Bartlett, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “I am thrilled to join this forward-thinking and innovative technology business in the aerospace sector. Panasonic’s technological solutions have been supporting airlines and delighting their passengers for many years. The road ahead is exciting and full of enormous opportunities to safely and securely deliver a premium experience.”

Inmarsat
Inmarsat has obtained a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for GX Aviation retrofit installations on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft. The milestone follows an announcement in June that Qatar Airways will be the first Middle Eastern megacarrier to offer GX Aviation to passengers onboard more than 130 of its flagship aircraft. The STC confirms approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the GX Aviation terminal installation, wiring and placement of Wireless Access Points and servers on-board the aircraft. GX Aviation has already been equipped as linefit and is awaiting system activation on Qatar Airways’ latest Airbus A350s, and following the STC approval, installations have now begun on a retrofit basis across the airline’s Boeing 777 fleet. The retrofits will be undertaken by Qatar Airways maintenance teams during scheduled maintenance windows. GX Aviation is the world’s first global, high-throughput satellite (HTS) service from a single operator. Its unique architecture allows airline passengers to browse the internet, stream videos and check social media uninterrupted, with an on-board connectivity experience on par with mobile broadband services available on the ground. The next-generation service is expected to go live on Qatar Airways aircraft later this year, following an inflight test campaign across Qatar Airways’ global flight routes. Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “This is the first STC to be attained and managed solely by our team at Inmarsat, and taking this momentous step with one of the world’s leading carriers has strengthened our position as a key player in the inflight connectivity market.” He continued: “With GX Aviation already equipped on Qatar Airways’ latest Airbus A350s, the first Boeing 777 retrofit installation already complete and several more underway, we are now gearing up to launch GX Aviation across the flagship fleet. We’re looking forward to seeing Qatar Airways’ passengers experience consistent, reliable and high-speed Wi-Fi in the sky when the service goes live later this year.” Several of Inmarsat’s industry partners will play key roles in the project with Qatar Airways. The fleet will use Inmarsat’s Advanced Integrated Services Manager (AISM); Honeywell Aerospace’s high-speed JetWave terminals will allow aircraft to connect to the GX Aviation network; and EAD Aerospace will provide their unique SUMS (SATCOM Universal Mounting System) installation solution and the associated engineering package.

SITA
SITA today announced that Jacques Demaël has joined the organization as SVP Strategy & Business Support. Reporting directly to CEO Barbara Dalibard, Demaël will be based in Geneva, Switzerland. Working together with the CEO and the Executive Team, Demaël will drive SITA’s overall strategy as well as several key strategic initiatives. He will be responsible for leading a transformation program to align the organization, processes and skills to support SITA’s ambitions and will help define the organization’s technology and innovation roadmap. Prior to this Jacques had a long career at France Telecom/Orange, holding various executive roles in both consumer and business markets, in London, Paris and Geneva.

GOGO
A new era in business aviation has begun. Gogo Business Aviation (NASDAQ: GOGO), the leading provider of broadband connectivity products and services for business aviation, has received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) and Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) from the FAA for its new dual-directional antennas which will be used with the Gogo AVANCETM L5 system (formerly known as the Gogo Biz 4G LRU). Gogo AVANCE L5 connects to the Gogo Biz 4G network delivering faster speeds and enhanced network capacity enabling a more robust experience for activities such as live streaming video and audio, on-demand movies, personal smartphone use, real-time data for cockpit apps, and remote diagnostics and support while in flight. Gogo AVANCE is an innovative approach that combines Gogo’s advanced hardware and software technology to create a fully integrated, aviation-grade inflight connectivity and entertainment platform. The platform enables connected aviation technologies, services and applications like never before. Gogo AVANCE is the heart of the company’s new suite of platform-based products: beginning with its Smart Cabin systems – SCS Elite and SCE Media, which launched in July – followed by the Gogo AVANCE L5 hardware. Created specifically for the business aviation market, the Gogo Biz 4G network is built on Gogo’s existing ground network of more than 250 towers and fiber backhaul, which has provided connectivity for hundreds of thousands of flight hours aboard thousands of business and commercial aircraft. The AVANCE L5 equipment package will incorporate dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi service and a host of other features – all from a single box. Gogo AVANCE L5 is future-ready, providing an upgrade path to Gogo’s Next Gen network, scheduled to launch in 2018. The Next Gen network will use a proprietary modem, a new beam-forming antenna and unlicensed spectrum to produce speeds up to 100 Mbps. It will utilize LTE technology and leverage Gogo’s existing North American network and infrastructure.


MORE

APEX Long Beach:

  • Astronics: Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems (AES), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace industry, offers system solutions, products and services designed to keep passengers productive and entertained. Click here for information about two products they will be highlighting at APEX. (Editor’s Note: Click on the link because there a couple of products we have not seen before!)
  • Spafax: Are you attending APEX EXPO in Long Beach? Spafax invites you to visit them at Booth 619 to learn more about their latest products and services.
  • Boeing (Thank You!): The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] is committing $1 million from the Boeing Charitable Trust to assist with disaster relief across Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the company announced today. The contributions will be directed through the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. “Our thoughts are with all our neighbors and teammates throughout Texas who are dealing with the unprecedented impact from Hurricane Harvey,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. “The American Red Cross is the most effective organization to put this contribution to work as it quickly brings recovery and relief efforts to those residents hardest hit by this devastating storm.” Disaster relief efforts in the region align with Boeing’s ongoing commitment to the communities where the company has a presence. Boeing employs close to 4,000 people in Texas and supports an estimated 39,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state. Boeing is active and engaged in Texas communities, contributing more than $3.2 million in charitable contributions in 2016.
  • If there is to be a fee for picking up, and dropping off, passengers at airports, where is it going to end?
  • The next big US airport destinations might be in Iowa, and this is why.
  • Oh Boy: Qatar Airways CEO To Become Chairman Of IATA – One Mile at a Time
  • A big hurrah for Southwest Airlines as they flew stranded travelers out of Huston Texas (storm country) for Free! Everybody, fly Southwest Airlines as a thank you!!!  We note that the Huston Airport is now closed

2017 Air Transport IT Summit – Barcelona, Spain | May 24, 2017– SITA, the IT specialist that is transforming air travel through technology, today rolled out several community innovation demos with an eye toward the future at this year’s Air Transport IT Summit. These forward-looking innovations are part of SITA’s 2016 multi-million investment across five main focus areas to explore new solutions to some of the air transport industry’s most pressing challenges.

The five areas are; new baggage tracking capabilities to meet IATA’s Resolution 753; identity management to enable secure and rapid passenger flow through airports; the facilitation of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC); an industry-wide disruption warning system; and enhancing cyber security across the industry.

Demos shocased included the innovative WorldTracer Ground Delivery Baggage Tracking App which allows airlines to track delayed bags until they reach their final destination and Travel Identity of the Future, a new approach to identity management to enable secure and rapid passenger flow through airports. The multi-million dollar community innovation investment is over and above SITA’s continued investment in new products. It is aimed at looking further into the future of promising technologies or new ways of doing things that could have a big impact and significant benefit to the air transport community.

In addition, SITA announced seven new member benefits to enhance nine offers made available in 2015. The offers, exclusive to SITA’s 400 plus members, consist of free trials and preferential contract terms for services. These include SITA’s Mobile Boarding Pass API, which gives airlines flexibility to easily create and distribute mobile boarding passes and SITA’s sophisticated baggage services BagConnect and WorldTracer Tablet. Members can also benefit from free consultancy services for SITA’s cloud services and Horizon solutions along with preferential terms for messaging services SITATEXT Online and the new MessageIntelligence Archive.

Jappe Blaauw, President of the SITA Council, said: “SITA is a member-driven organization and these offers are designed to offer value and support in the areas that we know our 400 plus members are interested such as improved baggage management, driving the adoption of mobile self-service and taking advantage of cloud services. These exclusive offers will allow our members to quickly evaluate and adopt new and efficient technologies across the air transport industry.”

The Air Transport IT Summit, which is attended by more than 400 air transport industry professionals, also provides SITA with the opportunity to recognize its valued members. Working with its air transport industry partners to define next-generation technology for more than 65 years, SITA recognized numerous milestone members including 60 years of partnership with Air Serbia, Middle East Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines and Qantas Airways. And 50 years of partnership with Adria Airways, Arabian Airlines, Libyan Airlines, Meridiana Fly, Saudi Arabian Airlines and United Airlines.

Airline industry improves baggage handling further as industry readies for June 2018 deadline

Geneva | May 4, 2017– Baggage management by the world’s airlines improved again in 2016 as the industry focuses on technology investments and prepares for a step-change in handling by June 2018. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, released today, the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers in 2016, down 12.25% from the previous year and the lowest ever recorded.

This is good news for the rising number of passengers, which last year hit an all-time high of 3.77 billion. Since 2007, the rate of mishandled baggage has fallen 70% due to investment in technologies and process improvements by the world’s airlines and airports. Over the coming 18 months, this is expected to improve even further. IATA members, the majority of the world’s airlines, have adopted a resolution requiring every piece of checked baggage to be tracked along its journey by June 2018.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Air Travel Solutions, said: “It is frustrating for passengers and airlines when bags go missing but the days of not knowing where your bag is will soon to be a thing of the past. We are on the brink of a new era in airline baggage management because the world’s airlines are committing to track baggage throughout its journey. This requires data capture, management and sharing across airlines, airports and ground handlers giving a better view of where each piece of luggage is at every stage. At SITA we are providing several tracking innovations that will allow the air transport community to scale up their tracking capabilities without massive capital investments.”

The IATA Resolution 753 is coming into force in June 2018 and from then every bag must be tracked and recorded at four mandatory points – at check-in; aircraft loading; at transfer between carriers; and on arrival as the bag is delivered back to the passenger. When this is in place airlines will be able to share the information with their passengers and code share partners allowing them to track their bag, just like a parcel. Having this information means passengers will stay informed and all parties involved in their journey can take action if flights are disrupted and their bags are delayed.

A critical pinch-point in the bag handling process is when passengers and their luggage need to move from one aircraft to another, or from one carrier to another. Bags have a higher risk of being mishandled at this time, particularly if connections are tight. In 2016, close to half (47%) of delayed bags were in the process of being transferred. Introducing mandatory tracking at this point of the process will provide real-time data that can be used to avoid delays.

Mishandled baggage negatively affects both the passenger experience and the airline’s finances and SITA’s report shows that the financial costs remain high despite the 12.25% drop in the mishandled rate. SITA reports that the global bill for recovering and reuniting passengers with their bags was in the order of US$2.1 billion in 2016.

Gutlin added: “We are using technology to transform baggage management which will improve both the passenger experience and help to reduce the cost to the airlines. To be successful we need to cooperate and collaborate across the industry and challenge ourselves to find new ways of working and sharing data to upgrade the experience for air travelers and to improve operations.”

SITA provides IT and communications to the air transport industry and is the only single-source vendor covering all areas of baggage management from data capture to management and sharing using the latest technology. SITA has been the recognized leader in bag tracking and tracing for over 20 years with its systems in every major airport in the world. SITA WorldTracer is sponsored by IATA as the industry baggage tracing service of choice. SITA BagJourney is the world’s first community-based baggage tracking system that provides an end-to-end view of the baggage journey using data from multiple sources. Today SITA is leading the baggage community by providing technology and professional services to help the industry meet the IATA June 2018 deadline.

San Jose | May 3, 2017– Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA: SJO), Costa Rica’s busiest airport, has selected SITA, the global IT provider to the air transport industry, to implement its ground-breaking control center technology solution. SITA ControlBridge will provide AERIS Holdings, the airport operator, with a centralized and integrated view of everything happening at the airport, from security to boarding gates, and from ground handling to facilities management. Importantly, it enables airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM) with all stakeholders.

SJO is one of the top airports in Central and Latin America and AERIS has an intensive investment program to deliver innovation and technology to strengthen its position. SITA ControlBridge plays an integral role in providing the technologythat enables the airport to coordinate, monitor and control all airport operations centrally and break down silos among the various departments and stakeholders operating at the airport.

Rafael Mencia, CEO of AERIS, said: “ControlBridge enables us to integrate and optimize operations across the entire airport into a single command center. It incorporates data from every stakeholder operating at the airport, providing a complete view of everything, all the time. This will give us much more flexibility in managing day-to-day airport operations, optimized resource management, quicker decision making and enhanced emergency response capabilities. Ultimately, it means we’ll be able to provide a better passenger experience.”

Mencia continued: “SITA was the obvious choice for this project because of its global expertize not only in the technology but also the operations and processes at an airport. As we implement ControlBridge, SITA’s broad and practical experience will be invaluable.”

As part of the project, SITA will also update the airport’s CCTV infrastructure and integrate it into the control center, along with radio communications. SITA’s dedicated delivery team will procure, install, configure, and test the ControlBridge components before it goes live in October.

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President for Latin America, said: “This implementation of SITA ControlBridge will provide SJO an integrated command and control capability across what are traditionally standalone functions. This includes airport operations, physical security, engineering and facilities management, baggage handling, emergency response, the airport IT service desk and more. It is a significant move by AERIS to provide Costa Rica with a modern airport that helps improve the country’s competitiveness.”

SITA’s ControlBridge solution provides fit-for-purpose airport control center technology that facilitates enhanced functionality for airports of any size and with nearly any budget. To keep both implementation and maintenance costs to a minimum SITA uses common off-the-shelf hardware where possible. Combined with SITA’s unique in-depth knowledge of integrating data from diverse sources, SITA ControlBridge is the most comprehensive and cost-effective airport integrated control center technology solution available today.

March 24, 2017 —APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for immediate government-approved security solutions for the airline electronics ban announced this week by the United States and United Kingdom. IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week impacted by the electronics ban.  By APEX load-factor calculations, this translates into more than three million affected airline passengers per year. With airline and government coordination, APEX believes that solutions may be rapidly implemented by airlines to further increase security and allow personal electronics on-board.

“The U.S. and U.K. this week pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights.  When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution.” APEX CEO Joe Leader stated. “Chemical detection machines utilized worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airline passengers and safety.”

APEX believes that without viable solutions provided to airlines, the electronics ban may spread well beyond the intended scope. Since the existing security scope includes individuals with travel privileges to the U.S. and U.K., these same individuals could connect via other airports where on-board personal electronics are not banned.

“Every threat placed against global air carriers has been met with viable solutions,” said Leader. “We now globally screen every checked bag, carefully scan all carry-ons, restrict liquids, conduct body-scans, and regularly conduct chemical analysis checks on items. When passengers connect internationally, they are frequently scanned again. Placing items into the cargo hold does not fully address the issue with a passenger-centric solution.”

In APEX’s global survey released last year, airline passengers frequently bring their personal electronics devices on-board aircraft for use in-flight:
 43% of worldwide airline passengers bring a tablet device on-board with 70% of these passengers using their tablet device in-flight;
 38% of worldwide airline passengers bring a laptop computer on-board with 42% of these passengers using their laptop in-flight; and
 22% of worldwide airline passengers bring e-Readers on-board with 77% of these passengers using their e-Reader in-flight.

APEX has directly engaged key U.S. and U.K. government officials on a solutions-oriented approach to make aircraft more secure and prevent the spread of the electronics ban. Until an aligned security solution has been developed by the U.S. and U.K. governments, APEX encourages full compliance of the ban by airlines, airports, and passengers.

From personalizing the travel experience to big data, improved efficiency and new dynamic distribution standards – Lufthansa Systems supports airlines on every level of digital transformation

Raunheim, Germany | February 16, 2017– Everyone is talking about digitalization. Many companies are wondering how to future-proof themselves in the digital world. Lufthansa Systems turned this vision into reality a long time ago. For years, the aviation IT specialist has been advising and supporting airlines in their digital transformation, demonstrating what sustainable airline processes can look like and helping customers implement concrete projects.

“The core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future. For example, we have spent over 15 years helping airlines work toward a paperless flight deck,” said Olivier Krüger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are offering new solutions and expanding our consulting unit in response to growing demand in the market. In keeping with this, we are continually enhancing our digital expertise so we can develop innovative solutions for the entire cosmos of an airline and its passengers – with data analytics, personalization, mobility and new developments such as eye tracking and dynamic navigation maps.”

The spectrum includes solutions and consulting services for improving the efficiency and differentiation of all aspects of an airline as well as for optimizing the entire travel chain for passengers.

Personalized Air Travel Services: Personalized solutions aim to enhance the passenger travel experience. New digital and individual services and apps, which can be used before, during and after a flight, ensure that passengers are addressed directly and personally. BoardConnect is one example. This digital platform enables passengers to access wireless inflight entertainment on their own smartphones and tablets, while offering additional functionalities for flight deck and cabin crews – with or without an Internet connection. The new inTime app is another example. It calculates how much time passengers will need to reach their gate punctually from their current location. Both the traffic situation outside the airport and the waiting times at check-in and security are taken into account here. The timings are based on (anonymized) data from real passengers, so the app gets more intelligent over time.

Dynamic Distribution Management: Dynamic distribution management makes it possible for airlines to increase their revenues by offering ticket and service packages directly to travelers. The New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is promoting this development and significantly affecting the distribution structures of airlines. Together with partners, Lufthansa Systems provides solutions for the entire NDC process, including offer and order management, dynamic pricing, and billing with the Sirax/RA revenue accounting solution. Airlines benefit from improved customer loyalty through more individualized offers, with lower distribution costs and higher revenues.

Safe & Efficient Flight Operations: Optimization and efficiency in all aspects of flight operations are the crucial aspects here. Simplified processes, improved routes, reduced fuel consumption and shorter handling times (including for crews and maintenance work) not only generate considerable savings potential, they also increase flight safety. For example, the digital navigation maps of the Lido/Navigation product line are becoming more and more dynamic. In the near future, they will be able to seamlessly display all flight processes from gate to gate. With an on-board Internet connection, additional smart functions in the maps can show information that is relevant to specific situations during a flight. This increases the pilots’ situational awareness.

Reliable Air Travel Experience: New developments in the field of flight operations revolve around passengers and their positive travel experience. If disruptions or delays do occur, these solutions aim to minimize the negative effects on passengers and communicate changes in a transparent way. This is essential to an airline’s success. The successful NetLine/Ops ++ operations control solution helps here with its innovative eye-tracking feature. Employees in an operations control center sometimes have to monitor six screens showing current flights and information about potential disturbances. Analyzing the eye movements of operations controllers with the help of eye-tracking technology ensures that no important warnings or disruption notifications are overlooked.

“In light of the growing importance of digital solutions in the aviation industry – including in the areas of data sharing, analytics and prediction – we founded a company last year called zeroG,” said Lufthansa Systems CEO Stefan Auerbach. “zeroG is a consulting firm with the character of a start-up which can respond quickly and flexibly to changes in the market. With their expertise in IT and aviation, our zeroG consultants support digitalization projects inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group.”

The attached infographic provides an overview of current digitalization projects and innovative solutions. Excerpts can be provided upon request. An animated version of the infographic for digital use can be found on YouTube. (Copyright: Lufthansa Systems)

More information about Lufthansa Systems’ digitalization expertise is available online: www.lhsystems.com or on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/LHsystems

Well, well, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in it’s our 25th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft business; albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, personal preference, and airline profit-making. According to IATA, in 2015 U.S. airlines raked in a profit of $25.6 billion, a 241% increase from 2014. The drop in oil prices meant big savings for the industry. Airlines spent nearly $27 billion on fuel in 2015, 38% less than in 2014. The results from 2016 are yet to be compiled and it will be interesting to see how they have fluctuated.

This year (2017) looks interesting and potentially problematic for the following reasons: fuel price increases, growth of airline fees, and a large increase in delivered aircraft. In fact, IATA predicts a reduced profitability ($29 Billion) based on slower GDP and rising costs. The folks at Aviation Week are predicting a downturn as well: “After years of high profitability, the airline industry appears to be entering its next potential downturn. The International Air Transport Association is predicting much reduced profits for 2017 in most markets as airlines are no longer benefiting from lower oil prices and overcapacity increasingly becomes a problem in many segments.”

From the other side of the equation, the IATA predictions include a 5.1% increase in tourism (we have a hard time with this one because of all the political madness in the world) and the airlines will take delivery of approximately 1,700 new jetliners. New planes means new IFEC and this is good for our team. Furthermore, this obviously does not include IFEC retrofits which will increase as a result of data hungry passengers and crew. Although, focus shifts from entertainment to data connectivity demand may be in the offing. As noted almost everywhere, passengers carry-on devices, whether it is for entertainment and/or communication, is resulting in another competing growth area for IFEC, which may negatively effect some seatback entertainment growth as passenger device purchases technically outpace anything that an airline can provide. However, we do note that upper class big screens win out in the front of the plane since no one carries anything onboard with a screen over 15 inches, or so.We should also note that in-seat power is probably a related growth item and folks in this arena have seen, and will continue to see, a lot of action.

Now, lets look at what we predicted last year in the IFEC related world for 2016. We don’t want to blow our horn because a lot of our observations came from a ton of research time on the Internet –  we just did a good job of compiling the information:

A) Messaging

Last year we wrote: While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive. Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.

On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!”

We saw this one coming! Messaging just keeps growing and as the messaging options grow, so do the users. One of the best newer ones is SMS. Sending email to SMS is free for the sender, but the recipient is subject to the standard delivery charges. Only the first 160 characters of an email message can be delivered to a phone, and only 160 characters can be sent from a phone. Text-enabled fixed-line handsets are required to receive messages in text format.

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website. In Asia WeChat is the big one while Android has HelloSMS, TextraSMS, and on and on. Further, the phone companies have a batch of their own connectivity applications. Face it, we are text message junkies and there seems to be no end because of our devices and lifestyle.

B) Audio

We noted in January of 2016, From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, (audio) streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ crowd that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.” 

For sure, this audio solution has been replaced by video streaming requirements on our personal devices. While we have no data but our own usage, we find that if we want audio (music) on a flight, we use our portable devices. A good example is taking place on phones – the latest iPhone we obtained with 128 Gigabytes, streamed, stored audio and video are no problem. Live information like news is another story. However, we should note that with the increase of Wi-Fi, and potentially Bluetooth (and possibly optical), things in 2017 will certainly get better. With more bandwidth for storage, and increased ground connectivity, programming will expand so that even with portable stored content, more video entertainment and news will be appealing. We should note that we have heard that some low cost airlines plan no seatback entertainment but rather are relying on customers to use their personal devices for airline streamed audio and video.

C) Bags/Baggage

Last January we wrote: Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up.” 

As it turns out, the airlines have been doing much better. SITA states: “2015 saw total airline passengers rise 7% from 3.3 to 3.5 billion and mishandled bags drop from 24.1 to 23.1 million, a 10% improvement with the extra passengers taken into account, costing airlines a total of US$2.3 billion. Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” While the data has not been available for 2016 it looks like the airlines are on a downward trend for lost bags. SITA says: “Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” With the advent of electronic and passive tagging, things should only improve.

To be continued next week.

Publishers’ Note: We plan to publish your predictions on Jan. 17 so feel free to send us your IFEC predictions as well. Just tell us if you want IFExpress to attribute your words to you or not. PLW/TJW 

  • RFID technology will significantly reduce mishandled baggage rates

Dubai | October 19,2016– The global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, can enable the air transport industry to save more than US$3 billion over the next seven years.

Global IT provider SITA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the highly accurate tracking rates of RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25% by 2022, mainly through efficient tracking. The SITA/IATA Business Case released today at the IATA World Passenger Symposium taking place in Dubai, outlines how this will provide a major saving for airlines and deliver more certainty for passengers.

In particular, RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another, one of the key areas identified by SITA and IATA where the technology could help improve baggage handling rates. RFID technology will ensure that airports, airlines and ground handlers are able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey and ensure the right bag is loaded onto the correct flight. The technology also supports IATA’s Resolution 753 that requires by 2018 airlines keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish.

The deployment of RFID would build on the already significant savings delivered by the smart use of technology for baggage management. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, technology has helped reduce the number of mishandled bags by 50% from a record 46.9 million mishandled bags in 2007, saving the industry US$ 22.4 billion. This improvement comes despite a sharp rise in passenger numbers over the same period.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “The airline industry is on the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking. Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations at IATA said: “Over the past few years we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations. This has included trials and of course the Delta Air Lines implementation. The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry has prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99 percent success rate for tracking bags, helping further reduce the number of mishandled bags.

David Hosford, manager of baggage performance strategy at Delta Air Lines said: “We are investing in RFID to further improve our baggage handling rates and improve the customer experience. RFID technology provides us with more data and more precise tracking information throughout the baggage journey.”

The SITA/IATA business case shows that the improvements in handling rates do not come at a great cost. RFID capabilities can be deployed for as little US$0.1 per passenger on average while generating expected savings of more than US$0.2 per passenger. With some big airlines and airports already introducing RFID technology, combined with the fact that it is compatible with existing barcode technology, adoption of RFID across all airports could provide a positive return for airlines, both in cost savings and passenger satisfaction.

SITA’s and IATA’s assumptions are based on RFID being deployed in 722 airports (representing 95% of passenger numbers globally) over a six-year period between 2016 and 2021 while the savings are calculated over seven years to 2022. The figures for 2016 take into account the RFID infrastructure already deployed or about to be deployed at multiple induction points on the baggage journey.

SITA’s research into RFID and baggage tracking is part of its ongoing investment in research for the benefit of the entire air transport community. Baggage tracking is one of the five community research programs that SITA has launched to address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. The others are identity management; the facilitation of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC); an industry-wide disruption warning system; and enhancing cybersecurity across the industry.

  • Passenger experience improvements the goal for airport’s trial

Melbourne | June 7, 2016– Melbourne Airport continues to improve passenger services with a recent trial that has included self-service boarding with global travel technology provider SITA. The airport is focusing on using technology in new ways to improve processes to make the journey smoother for its passengers and the airlines that serve them.

Melbourne Airport’s passenger improvements are underpinned by SITA’s common-use platform, which has successfully delivered self-service check-in kiosks and automated bag drop throughout the airport. The self-boarding gates are the next step in delivering a highly efficient self-service passenger experience and reducing the cost of operations for the airlines using the airport. This is one of the six areas of a passenger’s airport journey in IATA’s Fast Travel program which aims to save the industry up to US$2 billion annually.

Over a three-month period, SITA worked with the airport to analyze the potential improvements that self-boarding gates can provide. Together, SITA and Melbourne Airport have implemented a self-boarding gate in T2 International which allows passengers to simply scan their boarding pass to gain access to the aircraft. Speed of processing, passenger perception and accuracy will be measured as the airport evaluates the benefits that self-service boarding offers passengers, airlines and Melbourne Airport.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “SITA is committed to our technology partnership with Melbourne Airport which allows us to explore the potential benefits of services and plan the ideal solution implementation with the airport team. Moving forward, we are exploring how technology and innovative services can further improve the passenger experience and operations at Melbourne Airport.”

Initial results of the self-boarding trial are positive with passengers showing strong interest and approval of boarding the aircraft by scanning their own boarding pass. The final results will now be analyzed by the SITA and Melbourne Airport teams.

This initiative is part of the overall airport development to enhance the experience for the 30 international airlines and more than 32 million passengers who currently use it.

“As Melbourne Airport focuses on optimizing the efficient use of assets, technology and innovation play an increasing role in providing better customer service,” Melbourne Airport Executive Planning Michael Jarvis said.

“Working closely with expert vendors and service providers, like SITA, facilitates the testing of world-class solutions at Melbourne Airport and allows our passengers to be among the first to experience leading-edge technology that will improve their experience.”

Passenger numbers are expected to double to 60 million by 2030.

  • New check-in kiosks part of airport’s drive to implement IATA’s Fast Travel Initiative

Manama | May 3, 2016– In a drive to improve the passenger experience and deliver increased flexibility to its airlines, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) will this year introduce SITA’s self-service check-in kiosks across Bahrain International Airport.

SITA will install and manage six new AirportConnect® S4 Kiosks at the airport, with four kiosks to be introduced in the economy check-in area and two in the first and business class check-in area. The new S4 kiosks provide a vastly improved passenger experience with large 19-inch multi-touch screens.

Along with the new kiosks, SITA will provide its AirportHub™ shared connectivity platform, enabling airlines to migrate their back offices from legacy or direct connections systems to a cloud-based communication link.

Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, Chief Executive Officer of BAC commented: “This project is the first step towards the company’s vision of implementing IATA Fast Travel Initiative which will significantly enhance the passenger experience at Bahrain International Airport. This initiative will offer benefits of self-service check-in to passengers to facilitate the passenger journey.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “Kiosks have proven to be an extremely versatile interface for a wide range of airport functions and services. Having worked with airlines, airports and governments around the globe has allowed us to develop kiosk products across all touch points in the airport journey and SITA has already delivered more than 10,000 kiosks to airports and airlines globally.”

  • Airline IT specialist and JR Technologies jointly provide NDC-based demo system for programming event

Raunheim | October 16, 2015– Lufthansa Systems today announced that it is supporting the “THack” hackathon taking place this weekend in Hamburg. In cooperation with JR Technologies, the airline IT specialist is providing a demo system based on IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard which will give developers the data base they need for their tools. The programming event is being organized by IATA and Tnooz in advance of the IATA World Passenger Symposium (October 20-22).

The new IATA standard known as NDC should give consumers the same purchasing experience regardless of where or with whom they book their trip. At the hackathon, around 100 developers from a variety of backgrounds – the travel industry, advertising and marketing, SaaS, mobile solutions and social media – will be able to work alone or in a team to develop ideas for such systems. The goal is to create prototypes, business software tools or new user experiences for airline shopping and other travel services over the course of two days. Attractive prizes await the winners.

Lufthansa Systems and JR Technologies have developed a demo system so that the hackers can tinker and program under realistic conditions. The system simulates two fictional airlines, including route networks, booking options and dynamic pricing – all in accordance with the NDC standard, of course. Lufthansa Systems anonymized real data for this system, making the demo experience as realistic as possible.

“As the biggest provider of innovative IT solutions for the aviation industry, Lufthansa Systems has a variety of products in its portfolio whose functions are significantly affected by the new NDC standard – such as in the fields of revenue management, pricing and revenue accounting. We are getting involved early on in the development of new solutions so that we can be at the forefront of trends and innovations in this area and offer our customers a competitive advantage,” said Stephan Würll, an NDC expert at Lufthansa Systems.

This week, entertainment and connectivity news looked like a shotgun blast of scattered stories, and we had a hard time picking a lead story! So instead of picking one to feature as our Hot Topic we thought it might be better, or at least different, to grasp the whole mess laid out by subject area. You choose what to read!


Meetings

APEX
The future of technology is up in the air, literally. APEX EXPO is 35,000 feet above all other industry trade shows when it comes to bringing you the latest in inflight technology and connectivity! Join the industry Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Portland Oregon for the passenger experience industry’s most comprehensive trade show, including a day of world-class speakers and sessions devoted to technological issues and the future of the passenger experience, among other exciting topics!

  • Leo Mondale, President, Aviation for Inmarsat, will delve into business models built around “future-proof” technologies that won’t be obsolete in a few years
  • Craig Proud, SVP Platform for GuestLogix, will discuss onboard payment technologies – Apple Pay, MasterCard Paypass, Visa PayWave and more – that are seamless and satisfying for passengers
  • Jim Costello, Chief Technology Officer for Telefonix, Inc. will cover the challenges and potential solutions for developing IFEC that stays relevant in a rapidly evolving market

IATA
The 138th Slot Conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global trade association for the airline industry, will be held in Hamburg from 21 to 23 June 2016. Following the World Passenger Symposium in 2015, this will be the second event of this renowned umbrella organisation to be hosted in Hamburg – thereby confirming Hamburg’s important role in the international aviation industry. Around 600 experts from the aviation industry are expected to attend the biggest of the IATA events, which will take place at the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg.


Aviation


Airline


IFE Specific

Connectivity:


Wi-Fi Specific

Beacons:

Wi-Fi Aware:

 Satcom:


FlightDeck

  • BOSE develops new features for A20 Aviation Headsets Among other them; the A20’s can now stream warnings and advisories thru apps via Bluetooth connectivity.

Cabin


Airframe Manufacturers

Airbus:

Boeing:


Security

  • Looks like Kontron is focusing on secure connectivity inflight
  • You are going to hear a lot more about the Hacking Team (company) in the future, but for now, Wi-Fi Hacking Drones are the subject here. Coming your way soon.
  • It’s about time!
  • And finally, in case you wondering if this last link has anything to do with IFEC —  it does not. Would you like to guess how many recorded Internet security attacks there were yesterday? Eleven? One hundred and eleven? Eleven thousand… how about 11,059,744! Numbers like this really put the scale of potential aviation hack worries into perspective. You can see a threat intelligence map in realtime here.

Editor’s Note: This week’s rectangle has very little to do with IFE – we just wanted you to see the terrific Boeing Paint job!

  • Mishandled bag rate falls 61% in seven years with technology investment

Geneva | March 26, 2015– The air transport industry has cut the rate of mishandled bags by 61.3% globally since 2007, creating US$18 billion in total estimated cost savings, according to air transport IT specialist, SITA. The SITA 2015 Baggage Report released today showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007. This decline comes despite a significant rise in passenger numbers over the same time period, peaking at 3.3 billion passengers in 2014.

Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: “This improvement in baggage handling over the past seven years is largely a result of strong technology investment and innovation in baggage systems automation and processes. However, rising passenger numbers will continue to place pressure on baggage infrastructure and processes, so the industry cannot afford to become complacent. With IATA forecasting continued passenger growth of around 7% in 2015, all industry partners will need to continue to invest, collaborate and focus on baggage management.”

From 2013 to 2014, global passenger numbers rose 5.5%, and aircraft load factors increased globally to 79.7%. This increased pressure on existing systems nudged the rate of bag mishandling up in 2014 to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, from its all-time low of 6.96 the previous year. More than 80% of the mishandled bags in 2014 were delayed, with transfers between connecting flights the leading cause of late delivery. In 2014, mishandled transfer bags accounted for 49% of all delayed bags or 11.81 million bags; however, the majority of bags were reunited with passengers within one to two days.

Airlines and airports are continuing to invest in new technology to optimize passenger and baggage processing, including self bag tagging, self bag drop, systems automation and bag ticketing. According to SITA’s 2014 Airport IT Trends Survey, baggage processing and management ranked among airports’ top investment priorities, with investments in self-service processes, such as kiosk and bag-drop technology leading the way. Over the next three years, 59% of airports said they would invest in major self-service programs, as passengers increasingly express a desire to have more control over their journeys, including their baggage.

By 2017, around 69% of airlines said they would provide passengers with real-time updates on the location of their bags, with 66% looking to provide these updates via smartphone apps. In addition, both airlines and airports are looking for new ways to enable passengers to file missing bag reports themselves. Around 18% of airlines already offer passengers the ability to report missing bags via self-service kiosks and 10% via smartphone apps; by 2017, nearly two-thirds of airlines expect to offer these services.

Baggage tracking is set to improve further in coming years as a result of IATA Resolution 753: Baggage Tracking. The resolution, which goes into effect in 2018, requires IATA members to “maintain an accurate inventory of baggage by monitoring the acquisition and delivery of baggage.” For example, BagJourney, SITA’s end-to-end baggage tracking solution for the air transport community, provides a cost-efficient and accurate method of tracking passengers’ bags anywhere along their journey from check-in to the destination airport. It can also enable passengers to access information on the location of their bags at any time when the airline provides this service and passengers subscribe to it.

SITA has led the air transport industry in providing baggage tracking and tracing solutions for the air transport community more than 20 years. Today, more than 200 airports and 500 airlines worldwide use its baggage management solutions. By facilitating communications between airlines and local baggage handling and reconciliation systems, SITA helps ensure that bags reach their correct destination. Its proprietary BagMessage system delivers more than 2.5 billion messages between airline departure control systems and automated baggage systems annually. And more than 2,800 airport locations use WorldTracer®, SITA’s system which traces mishandled bags globally.

For further details download SITA’s full report – 2015 Baggage Report

  • SITA to Provide Messaging for Operations, Partner Communications and Air Traffic Control

Almaty, Kazakhstan | August 12, 2014– Air Astana has selected air transport communications and IT specialist, SITA, to provide messaging for operations, communications with partners and advanced datalink for air traffic control. The deal comes as Kazakhstan’s flag carrier prepares for future growth, following a 13.5 percent traffic increase in 2013.

In recent years, Air Astana has expanded rapidly across the CIS and Central Asian regions, becoming the travel provider of choice for many passengers flying to and from the region. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Kazakhstan’s international passenger traffic is growing at 9% annually, making it the second fastest-growing market in the world.[1]

Chamindra Lenawa, Vice President IT & eBusiness, Air Astana, said: “As Air Astana continues its growth, it is important that we have the right infrastructure in place. We use SITA because it offers excellent service quality and global coverage. Most importantly, because SITA is owned and operated by the air transport industry, the SITA team understands and responds to our needs very well.”

Dmitry Krasnov, SITA Vice President of Russia and CIS, said: “We are delighted to help support Air Astana’s expansion in this rapidly growing region. In addition, we are committed to ensuring that both Air Astana and the region have the IT and communications services they need, including developing our VHF and satellite communications network for cockpit datalink applications.”

SITA Type B Messaging underpins every operational aspect of air transport, from commercial and flight operations to ground support, baggage and cargo handling, passenger services, booking availability and aircraft maintenance. SITA operates the largest messaging network, directly connecting to over 2,400 members of the air transport community, switching over 100 million messages every day.

SITA’s AIRCOM Cockpit Datalink applications provide enhanced visibility and management of aircraft communications links and ACARS message content. They also provide operational information during flights, increasing the total benefit of ACARS investment. For example, in addition to the air traffic management datalink, Air Astana is using SITA’s Flight Management System Wind Uplink. This provides key data to the aircraft flight management system for in-flight re-analysis of weather conditions on the route ahead and can deliver savings in the region of 100Kg of fuel per flight in normal conditions. SITA will also provide the relevant back-office network optimization services for both solutions.

SITA is constantly developing its VHF coverage to support the AIRCOM Cockpit Datalink applications. It already has VHF Ground Stations at both Almaty and Astana airports, and will soon have them at Aktau and Atyrau airports, providing the most comprehensive network in the Kazakhstan.