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Biman Bangladesh Airlines Adopts Comprehensive Suite of Sabre Solutions

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines Adopts Comprehensive Suite of Sabre Solutions - AIRLINEHUB.com - TRAVELINDEXDhaka, Bangladesh, September 10, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Bangladesh’s national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines will leverage Sabre’s Passenger Service System (PSS) and Global Distribution System (GDS) as well as a broad range of additional Sabre technology solutions to support recovery and future growth in a competitive market. Sabre Corporation, a leading software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, today announced a new strategic partnership with Bangladesh’s national flag carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines (Biman).

Under the new agreement, Biman will adopt the SabreSonic Passenger Service System (PSS) to power digital transformation, drive revenue growth and improve the passenger experience. Biman has also selected a further set of Sabre solutions as well as renewing its global distribution agreement with Sabre to help meet the demands of modern-day travellers, ensure availability across all points of sale, maximize customer acquisition, leverage its loyalty program and stimulate demand as industry recovery gains momentum.

“We’re thrilled to embark on a new relationship with Sabre during this critical time for the travel industry,” said Dr Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, Managing Director and CEO, Biman. “It is more important now than ever that we have agile and advanced solutions to empower us to improve operational efficiencies, boost revenue as we move into recovery, and to create a differentiated brand experience in the competitive Bangladeshi market and beyond. We look forward to flying our nation’s bi-coloured flag domestically, regionally and internationally as borders re-open, with support from Sabre’s robust technology.”

The Sabre Commercial Platform, the platform within which SabreSonic PSS is housed, is positioned to help empower airlines to drive revenue maximization and a differentiated brand experience. It meets airlines where they are and takes them where they want to go through flexible, open, and intelligent technology, delivering end-to-end personalized retailing from commercial optimization through order fulfilment; enabling enhanced travel experiences for the airline’s customers and helping the airline to increase revenue opportunities.

SabreSonic PSS is designed to automate and streamline sales and reservations processes, helping airlines maximize revenue opportunities, save costs, enhance inventory revenue optimization, extend their reach through partnerships and maximize efficiency and effectiveness of airline offerings. This latest deal further expands Sabre’s global PSS footprint, with the company having announced SabreSonic PSS wins, during its most recent earnings call, expected to bring more than 40 million incremental passengers boarded to the platform.

As well as Sabre’s comprehensive, passenger-centric PSS, Dhaka-headquartered Biman will also be utilizing Sabre’s:

Global Distribution System (GDS) in a long-term renewal agreement to distribute its fares and offers to hundreds of thousands of travel agents worldwide;

Departure Control Suite to help Biman deliver a seamless and efficient airport experience with a robust solution for passenger reaccommodation. The suite will help in enabling a true walk-through experience at the airport through automation and self-service capabilities.

SabreSonic Digital Experience a highly-extensible user interface framework that provides access to robust, end-to-end retail capabilities, enabling shop and book, ancillaries, payments and fulfilment all through self-service capabilities, helping the airline to develop a fully-responsive and configurable eCommerce website and mobile app in-line with Biman’s digital transformation.

SabreSonic CSS Digital Workspace with flexible mobile-ready workflows designed to improve agent productivity and enable them to deliver personalized customer service at the airport and call centre.

SabreSonic Direct Connect Platform to deliver a suite of shopping, booking, and fulfilment web services as well as a GUI to their travel agency or third-party partners, helping the airline deliver omni-channel travel experiences through capabilities that are built once, deployed many times

Sabre Application Programming Interface (API) Hub which provides a portfolio of comprehensive APIs that support a broad range of the Sabre Commercial Platform functionality, enabling speed-to-market and control over distribution across all channels.

Data and Analytics/ Business Intelligence which delivers a layer of connected enterprise data by providing Biman with meaningful data and actionable intelligence for the entire airline enterprise; and

Loyalty Management System to enable Biman to recognize, track and reward their most loyal customers across all touchpoints during their journeys, providing an improved customer experience and increased customer loyalty that results in repeat revenue and increased share of wallet.

“We know how difficult the current climate continues to be for the airline, and wider travel industry said Rakesh Narayanan, Vice President, Regional General Manager, Asia Pacific, Travel Solutions, Airline Sales. “However, we also know that our travel partners are seizing this opportunity to take a fresh look at their technology strategy to ensure they are in a position of competitive strength going forward. We’re delighted to be partnering Biman on their digital transformation journey with a comprehensive suite of Sabre retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions.”

Mohammed Salahuddin-General Manager-Marketing, Biman Bangladesh Airlines added: “We are delighted to work together with leading global airline solution provider, Sabre, that allow Biman to access all the services we require through one single platform, supporting us on our digital transformation journey and enabling Biman to be more competitive in the local, regional and international airline markets.”

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

A VOLUNTEER’S 9/11 MEMORIES

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“I saw the flight attendants in the galley crying. Then the pilot came on the intercom and said, ‘New York and Washington are under attack. All hell has broken loose, we’re going to Canada’.”

This is how a passenger on a Continental flight from London to New York said she learned about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Two hours later this flight landed at Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) and was immediately surrounded by armed police with dogs. For the next nine-to-14 hours passengers sat cut off from the world on the runway at a place they didn’t know. In that pre-digital, pre-social-media era diverted travellers were unable to access news or reach family and friends.

When North American airspace suddenly closed, 17 airports across Canada became the fallback destination for 255 US-bound flights and their 44,000 passengers and crew. That time of day is when most European flights are approaching North American airspace. The flights closest to North America landed at Halifax, Gander and St. John’s. Other airports, like Sydney, which has a shorter runway, were the go-to destination for domestic flights. Halifax received 42 aircraft, carrying over 8,400 passengers and crew.

The flights arrived in quick order. YHZ’s long-time Customer Relations Manager Kelly Martin told me their first job was developing a plan for parking this many aircraft. All of their emergency planning never anticipated so many arrivals. Once parked they had to figure out security and services for the aircraft and passengers and animals which were in the luggage holds.

Early in the evening of September 11th, my then 77-year-old mother, who was a long-time Red Cross volunteer received a call asking for help with Operation Grounded. I was skeptical about what anyone in the comfort and safety of our rural Nova Scotia valley could do with events unfolding in other time zones, but joined her to make sure she didn’t kill herself volunteering. That evening, we were part of a six-person Valley team crammed into a red van which drove across Nova Scotia from our hometown near the Bay of Fundy to the Red Cross Citadel in downtown Halifax. The building was pandemonium. The hallways were filled with people and boxes of personal care items ready to rush and be rushed to wherever needed. Every desk seemed encircled by people, like dozens of mini-command centres. It was movement and voices and ringing telephones and hands waiving papers at whoever would snatch it and run. I imagined this was what the 1929 stock market crash looked like.

Shortly after our arrival our group was assigned to open the Dartmouth High School as a reception centre for passengers on an Alitalia 747.

We drove through the empty streets of Halifax, across the MacDonald Bridge spanning Halifax Harbour and to the school in a fraction of the normal drive time. A truck from the military was already there, unloading cots and converting the gymnasium into a quasi-dormitory. A team from the phone company were on ladders inside, installing a phone bank so passengers, when they arrived, could call anywhere in the world for free. Caterers delivered hot, cold and kosher foods. DHS students opened up the computer lab and, working with custodians, dragged and pushed big screen TVs into the cafeteria so when diverted passengers arrived they could see what had happened.

Before any of the passengers arrived, city and suburban residents began showing up demanding to take home stranded passengers. The passengers weren’t yet here, but Nova Scotians were ready. They told us they cleaned their guest rooms, pulled rec room sofa beds open, and/or sent the kids to stay with neighbours or grandparents so they had room for these strangers. Everyone felt it was important that these uninvited guests knew they had a friend.

At this point we had had about 13 hours of repeatedly watching planes fly into the Twin Towers and seeing crowds of New Yorkers running screaming through the streets.

When the diverted passengers arrived our first task was to process them. We had half a dozen tables lined up on the gym’s stage. Passengers filed on stage, not to receive a graduation certificate, but to provide the International Red Cross with basic information: name, address, nationality, any medical conditions, travel details and permission to share with anyone searching for them. Somewhere, some group compiled this information so frantic family, friends and colleagues around the world could learn the fate of their loved ones.

Many of these passengers because of the news blackout while on the aircraft and language issue had little-to-no information about why they were in Halifax, wherever that was, and not New York. I can remember some of the volunteers trying to bridge the communication gap by a type of hand-puppetry mimicking aircraft crashing into buildings. I don’t know if the bewilderment on faces was for the poor acting or the actual events.

In the cafeteria I saw one 50-something New Yorker tightly gripping her sides as she rocked back and forth, staring at the TV. She couldn’t stop watching the planes fly into the towers. Eventually we learned she lived five blocks from the Twin Towers and what was on television was basically the view from her living room window. She was so traumatized by these images she couldn’t be alone. We discretely arranged for another woman to accompany her to the washroom and stay at her side through the night.

Members of the clergy – ministers, priests, a rabbi – also came by, walking the walk of the basic tenant of all faiths, ‘do unto others …’

Just before dawn our group of volunteers handed over the school and visitors to another Red Cross team and returned to our homes in the Annapolis Valley. We arrived home at 6:30 am. At 8:30 am, with flights still grounded we were asked to go to Camp Aldershot, a militia base outside Kentville, which had been an important training camp for WWI & II and was now pressed into service as a reception centre for 1,500 diverted travellers.

At Aldershot, like most host venues, medical teams were on-site, to check passengers who were not feeling well. Those who didn’t have their meds were provided with free prescriptions. Some were transferred to hospital for more detailed diagnostic tests and treatment, and their doctors informed.

Volunteers came to the camp offering tours of the area. Local women delivered food, offered laundry services and took people shopping. I overheard one young woman telling a new-found friend among her fellow passengers, “This woman, a complete stranger, took me shopping for underwear!” “Nooooo!” said her suddenly jealous friend. “YES! Can you imagine some stranger at home taking you shopping for panties!?!” “You are so lucky.”

One who wasn’t so lucky was the young mother who suffered a miscarriage due to the stress.

It was only when I saw Michael Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, I learned people were told not to remove anything larger than a purse from an aircraft. On the ground at the time, volunteers didn’t know this. We didn’t know that the slow de-planning (up to 14 hours) was because all flight manifests were being checked for more terrorists, and luggage, cargo and aircraft were searched for weapons and bombs. Consequently, we had thousands of people without basics like toothbrush, toothpaste and comb. That said, the evening before I was astonished by one of the Alitalia passengers who had somehow managed to bring all of her luggage with her. She sat crying by the steps to the gymnasium stage, surrounded by every size and model of luggage Louis Vuitton made.

In response to these personal needs CFB Greenwood, the main air force base in Eastern Canada and 20-minute drive away, sent truckloads of towels and linens to Aldershot. Stores, like Sobeys, Lawton’s Drugs, Zellers, donated personal care items. My role was that of a quartermaster, doling out toothbrushes, towels, combs, soap, shampoo and condition. Sometimes I had to be harsh and explain if you got shampoo you couldn’t have conditioner, that needed to go to someone without shampoo. Early on it was a challenge for some people to accept leaving the shampoo and conditioner in shower stalls so others could share them.

What at first seemed like an abhorrent sharing scheme to some quickly caught on. 9/11 taught me there is a weird practically to disaster. People have greater patience and empathy if they can shower and brush their teeth.

One of the more amusing incidents at Aldershot was the woman who told me she woke up that first night to find a man crawling across the floor of her room. He immediately identified himself as a soldier, apologized for startling her and explained since she was given his bed he just wanted his wallet from the nightstand.

On the second and third days when the stress and forced sharing of items like shampoo and conditioner got to a couple of people an American businessman on a one-day London-to-New York business trip said, “You should put up a sign asking for donations. Let them know you’re volunteers, that this is donated stuff. They think the airlines or government are paying for this. They’re not used to kindness of this scale.” Whether they were used to this level of kindness it was there in abundance.

In a way, it was like a delayed returning of the favour for the way Boston came to Nova Scotia’s aid after the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Being able to do something for these traumatized passengers was a way of coping with the sense of helpless I/we got from watching the news coverage.

Halifax YHZ September 11, 2001

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

THE MAN IN THE MASK: Tips, observations, and complaints from my first pandemic trip

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The Air Canada captain said he was “pleased” to be flying with passengers again. And the passengers, me included, were certainly happy to comply, though with the new stress of pandemic-era travel, getting there is not quite half the fun. So, here is my view from the ground, and the air, on my first trip since COVID changed the world.

Let me first say that travel now has a “wild west” feel amid a complex and constantly changing series of tests, vaccination forms, and other protocols that vary from destination to destination and airline to airline. As such, please note that the observations here are mainly limited to my home country (Canada), airline provider (Air Canada), and destination (Switzerland).

My travels took place Aug. 27 to Sept. 02 as part of the Air Canada Race 2021, a fabulous event that also welcomed over three dozen travel agents, plus media and trip host personnel. And it should also be noted, in the words of lead Air Canada Race organizer Edna Ray, that Switzerland was perfectly suited for the FAM because it is “a great destination where everything works phenomenally.”

Here then is my story:

BEFORE LEAVING HOME

ArriveCan

All Canadians (and all travellers) travelling internationally are required to have the ArriveCAN app, which can be uploaded at any time before arrival back in Canada. It is fairly straightforward and takes about 10 minutes to load and fill out – but importantly, cannot be completed until within 72 hours of returning, meaning it must be done in destination, not in advance.

• The app worked on my phone, but not on my older iPad (lap- or desktops are reportedly fine).

• Internet/Wifi connections are obviously necessary to complete the form and proficiency with uploading/downloading, etc., is helpful.

• Proof of vaccination (both doses!) must be uploaded into the app; proof of molecular COVID test DOES NOT. The latter, apparently needs only to be uploaded the first time, though the government warns that the latest version of the app should always be used.

• Instructions for using the app can be found online and several helpful YouTube videos exist to give walkthroughs

• Tip: Download, print-screen or take photos of both vaccination dose confirmations on your device in advance, but also carry several printed copies of each.

Destination planning

Switzerland does not require a pre-arrival COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated Canadians. However, two pre-arrival forms, one for contact tracing, needed to be completed in advance. It is imperative to check individual arrival protocols for countries being visited (including transit).

Insurance

Some destinations require that travellers possess some form of COVID coverage before allowing entry. Even if they don’t – it’s a good idea. My research into coverage options (I checked Manulife and Allianz) revealed that regular travel insurance generally would cover catching COVID in destination if hospitalization is required (i.e. medical emergency), but NOT costs of quarantine if one tests positive and is simply unable or not allowed to travel. Supplementary coverage must be purchased for the latter. In my case, the supplement COVID policy amounted to about $5/day for $150/day coverage up to $2,100 total. Neither regular nor supplement insurance covers COVID test costs.

Masks

Air Canada currently accepts cloth masks (but word is that will soon change) for boarding and during the flight, but many airlines now require medical (non-valve) masks. It is imperative that travellers check specific airline requirements in advance.

• Air Canada handed out extra disposable masks in flight (along with the headsets).

• Observation: Chatty neighbours are now largely a thing of the past.

EN ROUTE

Airport

We departed from YYZ, which was busy for an overnight flight. Physical check-in (recommended, even if done in advance online and/or travelling only with carry-on) was slower than previous as agents are required to scrutinize relevant documents (such as vaccination certificates). Customs configurations at Pearson have also changed requiring extra time.

• Tip: Arrive earlier than usual (the airline’s three-hour suggestion is suitable).

Outbound

Easy-peasy. The flight was medium full with plenty of open middle seats (not required) and a few open rows in the back of the bus.

Onboard

Masks are required throughout the flight except while eating or drinking; seats cannot be changed due to contact tracing protocols.

Arrival

This was Switzerland: arrival was organized and quick. Customs agents verified the required entry forms, which I had chosen to print, but also had the email verification as back-up.

Me (middle- red lanyard) in Basel, Switzerland

IN DESTINATION

In Switzerland, masks are required in any indoor setting (except while eating and drinking). Everyone seems to comply without complaint (as it should be). In outdoor settings, most people take their mask off.

The dreaded COVID test

Canadians, including fully vaccinated, must complete a molecular (PCR) test within 72 hours of one’s flight departure time. Ensuring that one has an appointment in place that can provide the test is a critical requirement in planning one’s itinerary. You will be denied boarding without proof of a negative test. Antigen tests are not valid.

Air Canada: Being hosted by the airline, we lucked out as the trialists in a program that will be rolled out by AC in the coming weeks: In partnership with Switch Health, passengers will be able to purchase a COVID test kit that can be self-administered, thereby eliminating the need to find a local lab in destination. Various levels (and corresponding prices) of the kit will be available, with the “diamond” version including a live video appointment with a Canadian nurse to oversee the test procedure. Results from this version are available in about 30 minutes. (Sounds incredible, and it is!) An antigen test kit (for US flights) will also be introduced for sale (reportedly in multiple units priced at about $30/test I’m told).

• Test results: Once a negative test result is received, whatever the source, a copy must be downloaded to be shown upon arrival in Canada and uploaded to Air Canada during the check-in procedure. (I did so through the airline’s app, others on a laptop; again, technical proficiency is helpful).

• Tip: Registering for Air Canada’s Canada-based test required producing a Canadian health card number, something some travellers may not have. If not carrying the card, take a photo of it for reference. Also, be sure the test is taken strictly within the 72-time window, not before.

• Complaint: Notwithstanding the exorbitant cost of an incredibly inconvenient test 72 hours before travelling, that still leaves three days for the traveller to encounter someone with COVID. A better solution, in my opinion, would be a pre- check-in antigen test. While the latter is deemed not as accurate as a PCR test, it would surely outweigh having an unaccounted-for 72-window between test and flight.

HOMEWARD BOUND

Zurich airport (where everything works “phenomenally”) was extremely busy on the afternoon of our departure, though exceedingly calm at the Air Canada check-in. Except for everyone wearing masks, you’d never know this was the middle of a pandemic. From check-in to gate was only 30 minutes.

• Check-in: Beyond usual boarding procedures, we were required to show email proof of approval from Air Canada after checking in online (with proof of negative COVID test uploaded into the app); proof of vaccination (a copy of EACH dose; it should be noted for outbound travel that mixed doses may not qualify for entry into a country), and a verification code sent via email by ArriveCAN after the online form was completed.

• Tip: That’s four proofs required throughout the travel process:
• ArriveCAN code (including two vaccination certifications)
• vax certifications (electronic and printed copies of both doses)
• negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of travel to Canada
• Air Canada approval (sent via email) of health documents after online check-in.

BOARDING

Here’s where the fun really starts. Having checked in at the terminal and shown all the aforementioned documentation, I received (unbeknownst to me, until later) a red sticker on the back of my passport and special stamp on my boarding card. These important markers indicated that my docs were approved and I was good to go when called to board. In-transit passengers, without those markers, however, were required to visit a kiosk beside the gate (lengthy line) for verification. This notable safety measure resulted in several passengers (without the proper documents) being denied boarding and a slight departure delay as their luggage was off-loaded.

• Tip: Airport bar hounds might note that general boarding started about an hour before departure to accommodate the more involved protocols.

ONBOARD

The flight home was similar to the flight away, with the exception that this one was packed – in this case with passengers from India connecting through Qatar, suggesting an alternate route for travellers while Canada continues to bar flights from the country.

• Observation: Perhaps more people are trying to get into Canada than to leave it at the moment.

• Air Canada takes its mask policy seriously. Though I witnessed no dissent, passengers were warned mid-flight that failure to observe the mandate would lead to arrest upon arrival.

• Tip: Don’t doddle getting to the gate if your docs have not been checked; overhead bin space is also at a premium (some pax had carry-on bags taken away as checked luggage).

HOME SWEET HOME

Tales of deplaning and customs chaos are becoming legend – passengers stuck on planes for hours awaiting clearance, then hours queued in customs. On the other hand, a friend arriving from Iceland recently was out of Pearson in only 45 minutes after landing. In our case, we were warned of a customs logjam that would delay our exit from the plane; sitting in Row 22 (mid-plane), I waited about 45 minutes to exit, the time mitigated a little by orderly row-by-row disembarkation ahead of me (preceded by plane-wide passengers with connections).

Customs was also quicker than advertised: with my Nexus, I marched straight through with ease, while the non-Nexus maze appeared no worse than usual. The only difference was having to show my vaccination statements (both) and negative COVID test to a customs agent, who did not ask for my ArriveCan code (though presumably it was “in the system.”)

• Lastly: Arrivals exiting the customs hall after picking up luggage are subject to be selected for random testing. A quick check of the back of my passport (for the red sticker, I assume), saw me through with a smile.

WAS IT WORTH IT?

Yes – it was good to be on the road again, and, like a long plane ride, the new annoying protocols were quickly forgotten. Plus, travel restrictions and protocols will undoubtedly continue to evolve and become more efficient, easing the travel stress further. After all, 18 months ago, we couldn’t travel at all.

In the longer term, due to 9/11 and its aftermath, we have become accustomed to travelling without liquids, eating with plastic utensils, sending shoes through the x-ray machine, and wearing clean underwear in case our pants fall down when we remove our belts. We adapt.

At the same time, fingers crossed, this too shall pass.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

AIR CANADA BACK AT BILLY BISHOP: Rouge also returns to skies

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Starting today, Air Canada is back at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ). The resumption of service at the island airport features five daily return flights to Montreal. Service to Toronto Island will be operated by Air Canada Jazz with a De Havilland Dash 8-400 featuring a complimentary snack and drink.

“We are pleased to restart our operations at Billy Bishop airport and offer our customers the choice to fly in and out of Toronto Island, which is popular among business travellers for its proximity to the city centre and its ability to connect travellers to our global network through Montreal,” said Mark Galardo, Sr. VP, Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada.

Galardo added that the airline will expand daily service as more traffic returns.

Air Canada’s schedule is also subject to the COVID-19 trajectory and government restrictions.

Air Canada offers its customers complimentary shuttle bus service between downtown and Toronto City Airport. The shuttle brings travellers to and from the west entrance of The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, located at the corner of Front and York streets, directly across from Union Station.

Rouge flight attendants are sporting a new look

Rouge

Meanwhile, Air Canada Rouge also resumed service yesterday with flights operating between Toronto and Las Vegas, Orlando, and Regina, with other destinations being introduced in September to include including Cancun and Tampa.

“Air Canada Rouge remains integral to Air Canada’s overall strategy. As we emerge from the pandemic, we anticipate increased demand for vacation travel and from customers flying to enjoy overdue visits with family and friends,” said Jon Turner, VP Inflight Services and President, Rouge Operations, at Air Canada.

Air Canada Rouge also provided a sneak peek of the cabin interior that will be available on nine Airbus A321 aircraft of the 39-aircraft Rouge Fleet, with the first entering service later this fall.

The nine aircraft feature a new contemporary interior design with Rouge brand accents and will be configured with leather seats, with 30-inch seat pitch in the Economy cabin. The A321 Rouge aircraft also offer upgraded personal power options, including USB-C ports, and a convenient personal electronic device holder integrated into the seatback.

With the resumption of Air Canada Rouge service, which had been suspended since spring 2021, customers will also find product and design enhancements onboard all aircraft, including:

• Upgraded streaming entertainment – customers no longer need to use an app to stream content; customers can now stream hours of television and movies available on a complimentary basis directly to their own device via their web browser, or their complimentary, sanitized iPad in Premium Rouge.

• Refreshed uniforms – Rouge flight attendants will be sporting a new uniform featuring many pieces of the award-winning Air Canada mainline uniform, accented with new neckwear and brevets to represent the Rouge brand.

All Air Canada Rouge flights are operated with narrow-body Airbus aircraft offering high-speed Wi-Fi (available for purchase) and a choice of Premium Rouge and Economy services. Customers travelling in the Premium Rouge cabin will be offered a complimentary bar and beverage service, and a complimentary meal on flights over two hours, or a snack on flights of shorter duration.

All flights are operated using the Air Canada CleanCare+ suite of biosafety measures.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA July Passenger Traffic Boost – Well Below Pre-COVID Levels

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IATA July Passenger Traffic Boost – Well Below Pre-COVID Levels - AIRLINEHUB.com - TRAVELINDEXGeneva, Switzerland, September 6, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that both international and domestic travel demand showed significant momentum in July 2021 compared to June, but demand remained far below pre-pandemic levels. Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets.

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to July 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.1% compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60% below June 2019 levels.
  • International passenger demand in July was 73.6% below July 2019, bettering the 80.9% decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago. All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international RPKs (July traffic data from Africa was not available).
  • Total domestic demand was down 15.6% versus pre-crisis levels (July 2019), compared to the 22.1% decline recorded in June over June 2019. Russia posted the best result for another month, with RPKs up 28.9% vs. July 2019.

“July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Domestic traffic was back to 85% of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes. The problem is border control measures. Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines. People traveled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets. A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

International Passenger Markets

  • European carriers saw their July international traffic decline 64.2% versus July 2019, significantly bettering the 77.0% decrease in June compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity dropped 53.8% and load factor fell 19.9 percentage points to 69.0%.
  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ July international traffic fell 94.2% compared to July 2019, barely improved over the 94.7% drop registered in June 2021 versus June 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures. Capacity dropped 86.0% and the load factor was down 48.2 percentage points to 34.3%, by far the lowest among regions.
  • Middle Eastern airlines posted a 74.5% demand drop in July compared to July 2019, surpassing the 79.2% decrease in June, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 59.5%, and load factor deteriorated 30.1 percentage points to 51.3%.
  • North American carriers’ July demand fell 62.1% compared to the 2019 period, much improved on the 69.4% decline in June versus two years ago. Capacity sank 52.0%, and load factor dipped 18.6 percentage points to 69.3%.
  • Latin American airlines saw a 66.3% drop in July traffic, compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 69.8% decline in June compared to June 2019. July capacity fell 60.5% and load factor dropped 12.6 percentage points to 72.9%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month.
  • Australia’s domestic traffic sank further from a 51.4% decline in June versus the same month in 2019, to a 75.4% decline in July versus two years ago, amid stricter domestic lockdowns in response to a spike in the Delta variant.
  • US domestic traffic continued to recover in July, and was down just 7.7% compared to July 2019, improved from a 14.0% decline in June versus June 2019.

The Bottom Line
“As the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season draws to a close it is clear that too many governments missed the opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to managing their borders. The growing number of fully vaccinated travelers and the prevalence of testing provided the chance to restore international connectivity and bring much needed relief to economies that are heavily reliant on travel and tourism. Instead, governments continued to behave as if it was the summer of 2020. Economies and the labor force will pay the price for decisions that were made not based on science, but on political expediency. Governments have rightly urged their populations to be vaccinated; now governments need to have confidence in the benefits of vaccinations—including the freedom to travel,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

FAA BANS VIRGIN GALACTIC LAUNCHES: Investigates mishap on Branson trip

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The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that Virgin Galactic cannot launch anyone into space again until an investigation is complete into a mishap that occurred during July’s flight with founder Richard Branson. The ban came as Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch three Italian researchers to the edge of space in a few weeks.

The FAA said the rocketship carrying Branson and five Virgin Galactic employees veered off course during its descent back to its runway in the New Mexico desert on July 11. The deviation put the ship outside the air traffic control clearance area.

The FAA is overseeing the probe; it’s responsible for protecting the public during commercial launches and reentries. Crew safety, on the other hand, is outside its jurisdiction. Virgin Galactic insisted Thursday that Branson and everyone else on board were never in any added danger.

“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the FAA said in a statement.

Virgin Galactic acknowledged the space plane dropped below the protected airspace for one minute and 41 seconds. The spacecraft’s free-flying portion of the up-and-down flight lasted about 15 minutes and reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometers).

Virgin Galactic said high-altitude wind caused the change in flight path and insisted the two pilots “responded appropriately.” In a statement, the company said the flight was “a safe and successful test flight that adhered to our flight procedures and training protocols.”

In another statement Thursday, Virgin Galactic added that “at no time did the ship travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public.” Virgin Galactic operates out of Spaceport America in the southern New Mexico desert.

“We take this seriously and are currently addressing the causes of the issue and determining how to prevent this from occurring on future missions,” the company said.

Branson ended up beating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon as well as rocket company Blue Origin into space by nine days. Bezos launched July 20 with three others from West Texas.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are vying to sell seats to tourists, scientists and anyone else looking to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic’s rocketship is launched from an airplane, while Blue Origin’s capsule is hoisted by a reusable New Shepard rocket.

Virgin Galactic is aiming for late September or early October for its next flight, with two Italian Air Force officers, an engineer for the National Research Council of Italy, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor and the rocketship’s two pilots. It will be the company’s first launch where researchers accompany their own experiments. The company plans to start flying ticket holders next year.

Blue Origin has yet to announce a date for its next passenger flight, other than to say it will be soon.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Qatar Airways Plans New Distribution Agreement with Sabre with NDC

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Qatar Airways Plans New Distribution Agreement with Sabre with NDC

Doha, State of Qatar, September 3, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX /Sabre Corporation, the leading software and technology company that powers the global travel industry, and Qatar Airways, the award-winning international airline, are now finalizing a new distribution deal that will provide long-term access to the airline’s content through the Sabre travel marketplace.

For a comprehensive travel guide on Qatar and the FIFA World Cup 2022, go to VisitMacao.org

Qatar Airways intends to strengthen its partnership with Sabre to take advantage of Sabre’s global reach and leading position in corporate travel for the distribution of Qatar Airways’ products to travelers worldwide. Implementation work is starting to enable unique NDC offers created by Qatar Airways to be distributed through Sabre’s new distribution capability (NDC), which provides a consistent end-to-end workflow that integrates within well-established agency operations.

“A new approach to retailing is required in order to respond to the personalized service and enhanced flexibility that travelers expect,” said Roshan Mendis, Chief Commercial Officer, Sabre Travel Solutions. “Sabre is committed to supporting Qatar Airways in enhancing its retailing capabilities by enabling the airline to distribute personalized offers through our marketplace to corporations and travel agencies around the world. Collaboration will be crucial in travel’s recovery, so I’m proud that we are now finalizing a long-term, sustainable agreement with Qatar Airways that is beneficial for all parties in the travel ecosystem.”

Sabre’s technology enables Qatar Airways to effectively market and sell its expansive roster of fares globally through the Sabre marketplace. Reaching a network of more than 425,000 travel agents, it is one of the world’s largest marketplaces, processing over US $120 billion in estimated travel spend.

Thierry Antinori, Chief Commercial Officer, Qatar Airways, said: “Working collaboratively is pivotal to our reputation as a trusted and reliable business partner for both customers flying Qatar Airways, and the travel agencies that serve them. As international travel recovers, the landscape has become extremely complex, and we don’t want to add additional obstacles such as surcharges, restrictions or inefficient technical solutions, as we deploy new NDC-based product offerings.

For a comprehensive travel guide on Qatar and the FIFA World Cup 2022, go to VisitMacao.org

“We are therefore focused on providing a consistent shopping experience through all channels, to meet the expectations of our travelers and promote the success of our agency partners. With Sabre, we see great potential to shape the future of modern airline retailing.”

Operating consistent schedules through the pandemic, Qatar Airways’ network has now rebuilt to more than 140 destinations. This management approach has seen the airline receive accolades from trade partners, media, and industry awards, including Airline of the Year 2021 from Airline Ratings, while its home airport, Hamad International in Doha was recently crowned Best Airport in the World.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

JULY SEES PASSENGER TRAFFIC BOOST: Numbers still well below pre-COVID levels

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that both international and domestic travel demand showed significant momentum in July 2021 compared to June, but demand remained far below pre-pandemic levels. Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets.

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to July 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

Total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.1% compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60% below June 2019 levels. International passenger demand in July was 73.6% below July 2019, bettering the 80.9% decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago. All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international RPKs (July traffic data from Africa was not available). Total domestic demand was down 15.6% versus pre-crisis levels (July 2019), compared to the 22.1% decline recorded in June over June 2019. Russia posted the best result for another month, with RPKs up 28.9% vs. July 2019.

International Passenger Markets

European carriers saw their July international traffic decline 64.2% versus July 2019, significantly bettering the 77.0% decrease in June compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity dropped 53.8% and load factor fell 19.9 percentage points to 69.0%.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ July international traffic fell 94.2% compared to July 2019, barely improved over the 94.7% drop registered in June 2021 versus June 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures. Capacity dropped 86.0% and the load factor was down 48.2 percentage points to 34.3%, by far the lowest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 74.5% demand drop in July compared to July 2019, surpassing the 79.2% decrease in June, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 59.5%, and load factor deteriorated 30.1 percentage points to 51.3%.

North American carriers’ July demand fell 62.1% compared to the 2019 period, much improved on the 69.4% decline in June versus two years ago. Capacity sank 52.0%, and load factor dipped 18.6 percentage points to 69.3%.

Latin American airlines saw a 66.3% drop in July traffic, compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 69.8% decline in June compared to June 2019. July capacity fell 60.5% and load factor dropped 12.6 percentage points to 72.9%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Australia’s domestic traffic sank further from a 51.4% decline in June versus the same month in 2019, to a 75.4% decline in July versus two years ago, amid stricter domestic lockdowns in response to a spike in the Delta variant.

US domestic traffic continued to recover in July, and was down just 7.7% compared to July 2019, improved from a 14.0% decline in June versus June 2019.

The Bottom Line

“As the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season draws to a close it is clear that too many governments missed the opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to managing their borders. The growing number of fully vaccinated travelers and the prevalence of testing provided the chance to restore international connectivity and bring much needed relief to economies that are heavily reliant on travel and tourism. Instead, governments continued to behave as if it was the summer of 2020. Economies and the labor force will pay the price for decisions that were made not based on science, but on political expediency. Governments have rightly urged their populations to be vaccinated; now governments need to have confidence in the benefits of vaccinations—including the freedom to travel,” said Walsh.

View the full July Air Passenger Market Analysis (including 2021 vs. 2020 comparisons)

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA: Blocked Airline Funds Could Slow Recovery

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IATA: Blocked Airline Funds Could Slow Recovery

Geneva, Switzerland, August 21, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate close to nearly $1 billion in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.

“Governments are preventing nearly $1 billion of airline revenues from being repatriated. This contravenes international conventions and could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Airlines will not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations. That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritize ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently. Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Approximately $963 million in airline funds are being blocked from repatriation in nearly 20 countries. Four countries: Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million), account for over 60% of this total, although there has been positive progress in reducing blocked funds in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe of late.

“We encourage governments to work with industry to resolve the issues that are preventing airlines from repatriating funds. This will enable aviation to provide the connectivity needed to sustain jobs and energize economies as they recover from COVID-19,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA Calls on States to Follow WHO Guidance on Cross-Border Travel

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IATA Calls on States to Follow WHO Guidance on Cross-Border Travel

Geneva, Switzerland, August 16, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on states to follow new guidance on travel from the World Health Organization (WHO). The guidance recommends a “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel. It will be presented to the WHO COVID-19 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Thursday 15 July.

Specifically, WHO recommended that governments:

  • Do not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit
  • Remove measures such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travelers who are fully vaccinated or have had a confirmed previous COVID-19 infection within the past six months
  • Ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally. The WHO recommends rRT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose.
  • Only implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travelers “on a risk-based manner” with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary.

“These commonsense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimizing the chance of importing COVID-19. As WHO notes—and as the latest UK testing data proves—international travelers are not a high-risk group in terms of COVID-19. Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the UK since February, only 1.4% were positive for COVID-19. It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making process for re-opening borders,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

WHO also called on states to communicate “in a timely and adequate manner” any changes to international health-related measures and requirements. “Consumers face a maze of confusing, uncoordinated and fast-changing border entry rules that discourage them from traveling, causing economic hardship across those employed in the travel and tourism sector. According to our latest passenger survey, 70% of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” said Walsh.

Additionally, WHO encouraged states to look at bilateral, multilateral, and regional agreements, particularly among neighboring counties, “with the aim of facilitating the recovery of key socioeconomic activities” including tourism, for which international travel plays a vital role.

“The pandemic has put more than 46 million jobs, normally supported by aviation, at risk. By incorporating these latest WHO recommendations into their border opening strategies, states can begin to reverse the economic damage of the past 18 months and put the world on the road to recovery,“ said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News