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Qatar Airways suspends passenger uplift from five African countries

Qatar airways

Qatar Airways has suspended passenger uplift from five African countries over the new Omicron variant outbreak but flights will continue to take travelers and cargo into those countries.

Qatar Airways says it is monitoring the situation in Southern Africa very closely and working with the World Health Organisation.

On its Twitter page Qatar Airways said: With immediate effect, Qatar Airways will no longer be operating flights from five South African countries – Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant. We continue to review the situation as information is available from the WHO.

Thus there will be no passengers from these nations at Qatar Airways hub Hamad International Airport in Doha.

The World Health Organization announced Friday that its Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) assessed the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. and found that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

It said that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.”

The new variant has been named Omicron.

CNN reports that besides South Africa, the newly identified variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Belgium.
CNN said that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a “high to very high” risk the new variant will spread in Europe.
A number of studies are underway, and WHO will update member states and the public as needed, the WHO statement said.
Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told CNN that the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast, and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”
CNN said that Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, warned that variant was “acting differently,” however, and it “looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”
Numerous countries, including Australia, are now rolling out bans on travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and Seychelles.

 

Emirates suspends flights to three African nations over Omicron

Emirates
The A380 is popular with passengers. Photo: Emirates

Emirates has suspended all flights to three African nations over the Omicron outbreak.

An Emirates spokesperson told AirlineRatings.com:  “Emirates is temporarily suspending passenger operations to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, from 27 November 2021 until further notice, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

“The health and safety of our customers and our people is always our top priority. We continue to monitor the situation, take advice and directives from the relevant health and government authorities, and hope to restore services as soon as the situation allows us to.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to affected customers whom our teams are working hard to contact and assist. We urge passengers to check emirates.com for the latest flight information and travel requirements.”

The World Health Organization announced Friday that its Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) assessed the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. and found that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

It said that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.”

The new variant has been named Omicron.

CNN reports that besides South Africa, the newly identified variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Belgium.
CNN said that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a “high to very high” risk the new variant will spread in Europe.
A number of studies are underway, and WHO will update member states and the public as needed, the WHO statement said.
Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told CNN that the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast, and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”
CNN said that Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, warned that variant was “acting differently,” however, and it “looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”
Numerous countries, including Australia, are now rolling out bans on travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and Seychelles.

Omicron creates border bans for many African nations

Omicron
Image: US Food and Drug Administration.

All EU countries, the Uk and US, and now Australia are closing their borders to nine Africa countries over the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The World Health Organization announced Friday that its Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) assessed the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. and found that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

It said that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.”

The new variant has been named Omicron.

CNN reports that besides South Africa, the newly identified variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Belgium.
CNN said that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a “high to very high” risk the new variant will spread in Europe.
A number of studies are underway, and WHO will update member states and the public as needed, the WHO statement said.
Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told CNN that the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast, and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”
CNN said that Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, warned that variant was “acting differently,” however, and it “looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”
Numerous countries, including Australia, are now rolling out bans on travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and Seychelles.
In Australia, the government has done a 180-degree backflip from saying it wasn’t a problem on Friday to imposing bans on Saturday.

Singapore adds more countries to its Vaccinated Travel Lanes

Singapore

Singapore Airlines Group has welcomed the addition of more countries to Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangements.

These are:

  • Thailand (from December 14, 2021)
  • Cambodia, Fiji, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Turkey (from December 16, 2021).

The airline said it will be adding Bangkok and Phuket to its VTL network from December 14, 2021, Phnom Penh, Male, Colombo, and Istanbul from December 16, and Siem Reap from December 17, 2021.

SIA does not fly to Fiji.

READ: What we have learned so far from the revolutionary tracking of MH370

READ: Virgin Australia adds seven 737s and brings back all staff

Flights are open now for booking and are indicated as VTL flights on the airline’s booking system.

SIA has industry-leading health and safety measures in place and the details can be found here

Qantas launches world first green FF initiative

qantas
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce with Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth

Qantas Frequent Flyers has launched a world-first Green Tier to its program to reward members who make sustainable choices at home and when they travel.

To be rolled out next year the Green tier will sit alongside existing flying tiers and is designed to educate, encourage and reward the airline’s 13 million frequent flyers for everything from offsetting their flights, staying in eco-hotels, walking to work, and installing solar panels at home.

To achieve what will be become a prestigious level members will need to complete at least five sustainable activities across six areas – flying, travel, lifestyle, sustainable purchases, reducing impact and giving back – each year.

The reward will be bonus Qantas Points or status credits.

Qantas says that the initiative has been driven by feedback from frequent flyers, with research showing almost two-thirds want to be more aware of their impact on the environment and would like support in their efforts to be more sustainable.

The airline said that while the program will not officially start until early next year, from today frequent flyers who offset their flights, home and car, install solar panels or make a contribution towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef will see these actions go towards meeting their sustainability target as part of attaining Green tier status.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said sustainability was set to become a core part of the Frequent Flyer program and of the national carrier’s approach more broadly.

“Our customers are concerned about climate change and so are we. There’s a lot of action we’re taking as an airline to reduce our emissions and that means we have the framework to help our customers offset and take other steps to reduce their own footprint.

“This new Green tier is a way of encouraging and recognizing those who want to do their part by offering Qantas Points or status credits, which we know helps shape customer choices.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve used points to reward members for taking positive action in their own lives.

“We’ve seen it work when we’ve provided points for walking through our wellbeing app, while the vaccination reward has been taken up by more than 600,000 members already.

“Offsetting is one of the main ways Australia can reduce its net emissions in the short to medium term until new low emission technology becomes available.

“As an airline, we’re looking at structural changes to reduce our greenhouse gases, including investment in more efficient aircraft that can cut emissions by 15 percent and using sustainable aviation fuel that typically cuts it by up to 80 percent.

“In Europe and the United States, there’s a growing sustainable aviation fuel sector that proves the potential for Australia to create one of its own. We’re having conversations with the rest of the industry and governments on how we kickstart that. In the meantime, we are finalizing our first significant purchase of sustainable aviation fuel.”

These new initiatives for frequent flyers are an extension of the Qantas Group’s commitment to taking action on climate change and achieving net zero emissions from its own operations by 2050. Qantas was only the second airline in the world to commit to net-zero emissions, back in 2019.

The Group is currently developing a pathway towards interim 2030 targets and will provide a significant update early next year.

 

 

 

Understanding Boeing’s 787 door and structural issues

787
Boeing's 787 production line at Everett, near Seattle.

New York-based analyst Bernstein has provided clarity around the 787’s door and fuselage issues in a new report, “Boeing: 787 restop – How serious is the new fuselage problem?”

Bernstein said that “the [new] issues were widely reported, and confirmed by Boeing, that the company is addressing structural nonconformities around three aft fuselage doors in the 787 and it is slowing from an already reduced production rate of 2/month.

“The newly addressed issue had been identified roughly one year ago when 787 fuselages were opened and other nonconformities were found. The company is now going to repair the areas surrounding the aft doors. But, this means again taking out a large section of the interior on airplanes where the other repairs had been completed.”

Bernstein says that the “issue in each case was that the surface of the composite material was specified in certification to be smooth within 5/1000 inches for each of these interfaces.

“But, in many cases, the roughness exceeded the 5/1000 inch tolerance, in some
cases by a negligible amount (e.g. 7/1000) and in others by a more significant amount (e.g. 30/1000). Our understanding is that by now more than half of all of the 100 stored airplanes have been through these inspections and repairs.”

READ: What we have learned so far from the revolutionary tracking of MH370

READ: Virgin Australia adds 7 737s and bring back all staff

According to the company says Bernstein, “the aft fuselage door issue was identified as a watch item back when the other fuselage nonconformities were found. But, these aft fuselage door issues were not seen as rising to the level where repairs would be
necessary. That view has changed as the process continues. Boeing has now decided it should address these door surround nonconformities as well.”

It estimates that only 10-20 airplanes have had those inspections and repairs completed and it expects deliveries to restart in the first quarter of next year.

Bernstein says what it finds “most disturbing around this event is the lack of transparency. In October 2020, management said that the 787 problems had been addressed and that a large number of airplanes would be delivered in Q4 (Sept to Dec 21).

“As we found, the problems were much more extensive. The fact that senior management was unaware of the extent of 787 issues at Q3 earnings was a substantial problem for us.”

The forward pressure bulkhead and MPS part issues then appeared as a surprise. The fact that this new aft fuselage door issue is now considered important enough to address when it could have been done earlier in the process with the other fuselage actions, adds to our concern over management visibility into operational performance,” Bernstein warned.

Bernstein notes that “there have long been fundamental cultural issues at Boeing regarding management visibility”……and “when serious operational issues arise, as we see today, it is not easy for senior management to resolve them.”

But in an upbeat note, Bernstein says “the 787 remains a hugely popular airplane among airlines and we expect it will remain so. At the past week’s ISTAT Aircraft
Finance Conference in Austin, we heard lessor customers anxious to get these airplanes approved – even to the point of saying that the FAA has just gone too far in its scrutiny.”

It adds “so, the 787 will be back and we expect few cancellations. Our greatest concern, however, is what this new issue indicates about management’s ability to have needed
visibility well into the organization and the risk that we see more events like this in the future.”

 

Airline Ratings Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas talks 777X and border openings

geoffrey Thomas

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas has appeared on Skynews Australia to discuss the Boeing 777X that stunned the crowds at the recent Dubai Air Show.

He also discussed the travel bubbles from Australia.

READ: What we have learned so far from the revolutionary tracking of MH370

READ: Virgin Australia adds 7 737s and bring back all staff

About Geoffrey Thomas;

Geoffrey Thomas is a world-renowned multi-award-winning writer, author, and commentator who has taken a holistic view of the aviation industry for more than 50 years.

Geoffrey has an outstanding reputation with the media, public, aviation personnel, and government officials while being an outspoken no-nonsense but fair critic of many aspects of airline management, technological issues related to aviation, and those related to safety and the environment.

Geoffrey retired as Chief Editor of the airline management journal Air Transport World in January 2012 to develop Airline Ratings.com. Geoffrey was previously SE-Asian Contributing Editor for Aviation Week and Space Technology.

In all, he has won 43 international and national aerospace awards for his work including being a four-time winner of the prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society (RAS) Aerospace Journalist of the Year twice each in the ‘Systems and Technology’ and ‘Business’ categories. He was also crowned overall winner in 2009.

Geoffrey has also been named the Australasian Aviation Journalist of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2011. He now judges the competition and is also President of the Australasian Aviation Press Club.

In 2018 Geoffrey was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Aviation Media Awards held at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London and in 2020 a Decade of Excellence Award at the Singapore Air Show.

Geoffrey is also the Aviation Editor for The West Australian newspaper and a regular commentator on Australian and New Zealand TV and radio, including the aviation commentator on Channel 7’s top rating Sunrise program, Australia’s most-watched national morning show. He is also seen on CNN, the BBC, and SkyNews. He has been published in Australian Aviation, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age.

He has also appeared in six documentary series.

Geoffrey Thomas has co-written eleven books with Christine Forbes Smith and has delivered guest lectures at the University of Southern California and Curtin University in Western Australia.

Four of Geoffrey’s articles on airline safety have been described as seminal by the Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California Najmedim Meshkati. Professor Meshkati teaches at the world’s longest-running aviation course, the USC’s renowned 61-year old Aviation Safety Program.

 

 

Air New Zealand welcomes phased reopening which starts January 17, 2022

New Zealand
An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9.

Air New Zealand has welcomed the news that from January 17, 2022, New Zealanders will be able to travel to and from Australia, and from February 14, 2022 Kiwis can return home or explore the rest of the world.

And from April 30, 2022, the airline will be saying Kia ora to all visitors who meet the government’s requirements for travel.

Air New Zealand said that “in line with the government’s requirements, all customers will need to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure and must complete seven days home isolation upon arrival into New Zealand

“Today’s announcement signals the beginning of the return to international travel. This is incredibly exciting news for New Zealanders at home and overseas and we can’t wait to welcome our customers back on board,” Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said.

READ: What we have learned so far from the revolutionary tracking of MH370

READ: Virgin Australia adds 7 737s and brings back all staff

“We’ve kept our operation ready for this, so look forward to seeing the tens of thousands of Kiwis who’ll be making plans to board our aircraft soon.”

“A date for travel is the certainty that Air New Zealand has been waiting for, and while it would have been nice to reunite friends and families this side of Christmas, customers will now have the confidence to plan reunions and holidays into the New Year.

Ms Geraghty said the airline is hopeful the plans to reopen the border to all customers globally can be brought forward.

“We can be ready before late April to fly visitors from around the globe and we’re hoping New Zealand’s success with vaccinations will see that decision reviewed and brought forward in the new year.”

Following the New Zealand Government’s announcement, Air New Zealand will be readjusting its schedule to reflect today’s border reopening plan for both trans-Tasman travel, and the rest of the world.

The airline said that quarantine-free ‘green’ flights from Australia and New Zealand from 1 – 16 January will be canceled, and customers will be accommodated on other services or have their fares placed into credit.

The airline continues to operate a reduced schedule of flights into Sydney and Melbourne and ‘red fights’ from Australia into New Zealand for those with MIQ spots.

Customers are encouraged to use the airline’s self-service options to adjust their booking or place their fares into credit.

Those wanting to book to travel can do so via the Air New Zealand website where customers with credits can also use them as a form of payment.

The airline said it will release more detail around its schedule soon, including when it will restart flying to key destinations like Los Angeles, Fiji, and Honolulu.  Customers are encouraged to continue to check the Air New Zealand Travel Alerts page for updates.

Following the airline’s recent announcement, from February 1 all passengers traveling on Air New Zealand’s international network will be required to show proof of full vaccination.

 

Qatar Airways award winning Qsuite the ultimate in privacy

Qatar airways

In passenger comfort, there are milestones that redefine the industry and take it on a new flight path and Qatar Airways’ Qsuite has been such a major turning point.

Pan American introduced economy class in the 1950s, Malaysia Singapore Airlines introduced entertainment in the late 60s, Pan American introduced the jumbo jet in the 1970s, Qantas added business class in 1979, and EVA Air premium economy in the early 90s.

Then there were evolutionary not revolutionary changes with business class seats morphing into sloping beds then finally flatbeds. Next, the flatbeds in sets of two went through another change emerging as a single cocoon in various shapes.

Qatar Airways’ Qsuite was three years in development and has brought a new level of luxury to Business Class.

Qsuite is a revolution, not an evolution because business class turns into First-Class and redefines the expectations of business travelers.

READ: Qatar Airways Airline of the Year 2021

Passengers have the flexibility to transform their space from a private suite to a social area with “paired rear and forward-facing suites”, which take cabin innovation to an entirely new level.

The interior is designed with the airline’s signature colors of burgundy and grey, enhanced with elegant and warm rose gold detailing which drip opulence and class.

A media panel comes with an all-access power port, with USB, HDMI and NFC capabilities for passenger convenience.

But the main event is the sliding door, although there is plenty of privacy with it open because the Qsuite
is offset with the one across the aisle.

However, with the door closed you have the additional separation from other passengers, a consideration in this COVID world.

The door is simple to operate, although there are instructions for its removal in an emergency.

For total privacy, you just need to press the DND button and the flight attendant will leave you in peace.

 

And talking of peace the flatbed is excellent and ensures good sleep. You get two pillows – large and small – plus a cozy blanket.

For long-haul night flights and all ultra-long-haul flights, there is a bespoke turndown service complete with pillows, a quilted mattress, duvet, slippers, and sleepwear to further enhance passengers’ quality of sleep.

Qatar Qsuite

For those who find sleep a bit of a challenge or those who just want to catch up on all those must-see movies, Qatar Airways’ In-Flight Entertainment. Qatar Airways has more than 4,000 options all told with over 300 movies and the content is high-resolution.

The Qsuite is dominated by a giant, 21.5-inch high-definition touch screen that is both crisp and responsive.

Control is a touch screen or via a controller and a neat feature is the moving map which can be placed in a picture-in-picture window so you can keep an eye on a feature that may be coming up that you want to photograph.

The system is simple and intuitive when using the touchscreen to navigate the big selection of games, music, and information and there are also outside cameras that can be selected.

Qatar Airways has also rolled out “Super Wi-Fi”’ that can reach speeds topping 50 megabits per second, a feat that would make it better than many homes’ broadband services.

The Qsuite is available on the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

Not surprisingly the Qsuite has won over the judges at Skytrax and AirlineRatings.com – the world’s leading rating agencies.

It was named World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat, with the premium cabin being voted World’s Best Business Class by the 2021 Skytrax World Airline Awards for the fifth year in succession.

AirlineRatings.com voted the Qsuite the Best Business Class every year since it was introduced and voted Qatar Airways the World’s Best Airline for 2021.

Business Class

Qatar Airways has also won multiple awards for its in-flight service and catering from both Skytrax and Airlineratings.com.

Skytrax also voted Qatar Airways World’s Best Airline for 2021 – the sixth time the airline has won Skytrax’s award.

Very important in this COVID-19 era passengers booking with Qatar Airways have guaranteed booking flexibility while Qatar Airways was the first airline and hub airport to gain Skytrax’s 5-Star ratings for COVID-19 safety.

Qatar Airways also achieved the highest seven-star COVID-19 safety ranking from Airlineratings.com, which uses a different system to Skytrax.

As the Australian and New Zealand, international borders reopen, Qatar Airways continues to offer reliable travel options to over 140 destinations worldwide.

Learn More

Air New Zealand cancels 1000 flights over border uncertainty

air New Zealand
Photo: Steve Creedy

Continued border uncertainty between New Zealand and Australia has forced Air New Zealand to cancel more than 1000 flights through to December 31, 2021.

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said that “now, due to recent statements by the New Zealand Government that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to re-commence this year, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to change our schedule.”

“This will be particularly tough news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas. I appreciate how difficult this news will be, but our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand Government.”

READ: Qatar Airways adds more flights to Australia

The airline estimates around 1000 flights will need to be canceled, with around 20,000 customers expected to be impacted.

“Customers have already begun moving their bookings into credit and we’re acting now to give customers as much certainty as possible, so they can make alternative plans.

“We appreciate this latest news means some customers will have to wait longer before reuniting with loved ones. We’re continuing to do everything we can to get them home safely as quickly as possible,” Ms Geraghty said.

Air New Zealand’s schedule beyond December 31, remains in place until it receives an update from the New Zealand Government.

The airline continues to operate a reduced schedule of flights into Sydney and Melbourne and ‘red flights’ from Australia into New Zealand for those with MIQ spots.

Impacted customers can opt to hold their fare in credit for travel at another date or receive a refund if they have purchased a refundable ticket.

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