Author Archives: TravelPulse.com Airlines & Airports Headlines

The 3 Biggest US Airlines Suspend Flights to Israel Amid Gaza Strip Bombings

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, the three biggest carriers in the U.S. have suspended flights to Israel amid escalating violence in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Israel’s offensive airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip yesterday, killing senior Hamas military figures and demolishing buildings that had housed Hamas facilities.ADVERTISINGMORE Airlines & Airports The Palestinian Islamic militant group responded with rockets fired at Israeli targets, including Tel Aviv’s main airport, Ben Gurion (TLV). Rocket fire continued throughout yesterday and into early this morning.According to The Associated Press, the current hostilities represent the worst Jewish-Arab violence seen inside Israel in decades.United Airlines has canceled flights out of Chicago, Newark and San Francisco through Saturday, May 15. A United spokesperson told AP News that the airline will allow customers booked on Tel Aviv flights now through May 25 to alter their itineraries without raising their fares.American Airlines canceled its daily departure from New York to Tel Aviv both yesterday and today, and offered to find flights for passengers on later dates. Delta has also canceled today’s flights from New York to Tel Aviv.Airline representatives said that the U.S. carriers were monitoring the situation to decide when it might be safe to resume flights.Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International was scheduled to launch cruises from Haifa, Israel, this summer. The start date was originally listed as sometime in May, but the company website appears to show the first cruise, a two-night sailing from Haifa to Limassol, Cyprus, as departing on June 2. There haven’t been any changes announced as of yet. “We are currently monitoring the situation in Israel,” according to a statement from Royal Caribbean Group spokesman Jonathon Fishman. Adblock test (Why?)

US Airlines Begin Boeing 737 MAX Repairs, Expect Swift Return to Service

Three major U.S. airlines stated today that they plan to quickly repair more than 60 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which were grounded in mid-April, due to a potential electrical problem that's tied to some critical systems.According to Reuters, Boeing sent the world’s 16 affected air carriers a service bulletin yesterday outlining how to address the production issue that’s currently affecting 109 airplanes in total.ADVERTISINGAs U.S. demand for air travel has lately begun to rebound, the American carriers relievedly received Boeing’s repair instructions, which should enable the aircraft’s return to service prior to the onset of a summer travel season that typically starts in late May. Trending Now This latest grounding of roughly one-quarter of the MAX fleet was announced on the heels of the aircraft model’s previous worldwide removal from service, which lasted for 20 months when a design flaw caused two fatal crashes to occur within six months of one another. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized the 737 MAX’ return to flying in November 2020 only after Boeing completed exhaustive repairs and provided updated pilot training to rectify the software issue.In signing off on yesterday’s service bulletins, the FAA noted that the plane’s present electrical problem hasn’t caused any in-service failures. Also on Wednesday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told U.S. lawmakers that the electrical defect would require a "pretty straightforward fix."The issue, found on 737 MAXs manufacturing since early 2019, is related to a backup power control unit inside the cockpit that’s secured with fasteners instead of rivets, thereby failing to provide a complete electrical grounding path. The issue was afterward identified in two other places aboard the flight deck: the pilots’ instrument panel and the rack where the control unit is stored.United Airlines’ spokesperson Leslie Scott said the airline expects its, "Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to return to service in the coming days, as we complete our inspection process and ensure those aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards."American Airlines announced that it would begin making the necessary repairs and anticipates that, "all affected aircraft will begin safely returning to service in the upcoming days.”With the greatest number of affected aircraft (32), Southwest Airlines said it estimates the work will take between two and three days per plane. Hoping to start work on the repairs within the next several days, the carrier forecasts it will take about three weeks to complete. Adblock test (Why?)

United Airlines Adding Alcoholic Beverages, Food Options to Longer Flights

United Airlines announced that customers on most flights over two hours would soon be able to purchase beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages.Starting on June 1, United will become the first major airline to sell White Claw Hard Seltzer onboard its aircraft, along with offering Breckenridge Brewery Juice Drop Hazy IPA, Michelob ULTRA, Stella Artois and Red, white and sparkling wine options.ADVERTISING Trending Now The airline is also introducing a revamped menu of for-purchase snacks and brand-new premium cabin meal options on most flights over 1,500 miles and hub-to-hub flights over 800 miles or more than two hours.“We know that having a wide variety of gourmet food and beverage options is important to our customers and we look forward to introducing these exciting, new options to enhance their flying experience,” United chief customer officer Toby Enqvist said. “Our new contactless payment technology enables us to safely introduce this new menu on select flights as we continue to see more customer return to flying.”In addition to offering three new snack boxes—Tapas Box, Takeoff Box and Recline Box—United is adding three a la carte snacks to its menu, including Tru Fru Banana Bites, Food Should Taste Good Chips & Salsa Box and GourmetNut Mega Omega Trail Mix.To help keep passengers safe as the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom, passengers will be able to purchase all of the new and existing offerings through the carrier’s new mobile wallet technology. Adblock test (Why?)

North American Airlines Achieve Record High Customer Satisfaction Amid COVID-19

Airlines have undoubtedly been hit hard as passenger volume plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year-plus but it isn't all bad news as the industry will begin its recovery with record-high customer satisfaction.According to the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction Study released Wednesday, passenger satisfaction rose 27 points to 819 on the 1,000-point scale year over year. The jump was driven by an incredible 47-point increase in customer satisfaction with cost and fees as most carriers issued travel waivers allowing passengers to change or cancel tickets without penalty.ADVERTISING Trending Now Passengers have also been pleased with the performance of flight crews during this challenging period, with satisfaction in that category increasing 26 points. According to J.D. Power, all North American airlines fared well in terms of customer feedback regarding their responses to the pandemic. Face mask requirements and other enhanced health and safety measures have been in place for more than a year now.Delta Air Lines ranks highest in customer satisfaction for the first time since 1995, earning a North American-leading score of 860. The carrier has ranked toward the top of several safety studies amid the pandemic and was the last to continue limiting capacity to keep middle seats open for physical distancing on every flight. Last year's top-ranked airline, budget-friendly Southwest Airlines (856) ranks second in passenger satisfaction in 2021, with Alaska Airlines (850) rounding out the top three.The North America Airline Satisfaction Study measures passenger satisfaction based on performance across eight different factors, including aircraft; baggage; boarding; check-in; cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services and reservation. The study of more than 2,300 passengers was fielded from August 2020 through March 2021."The airline industry adapted to the most unusual year by simplifying ticketing processes, waiving change fees and baggage fees which were key to persuading people to fly during the pandemic," J.D. Power travel intelligence lead Michael Taylor said in a statement. "Airline personnel rose to meet the challenges of a drastically altered travel environment. Maintaining that level of flexibility and recognition of individual passenger needs will be a strategic advantage for airlines that want to set themselves apart in passenger satisfaction as travel volumes start to recover." Adblock test (Why?)

US and UK Airline CEOs Call for Summit To Speed Restart of Transatlantic Travel

Chief executives of the U.S.’ and U.K.’s major airlines today conjointly wrote to representatives of the two national governments, calling for a summit to help hasten the return of Transatlantic travel."The airline industry needs adequate lead time to establish a plan for restarting air services, including scheduling aircraft and crews for these routes as well as for marketing and selling tickets," states the letter addressed to both the U.S. and U.K. transport secretaries, and signed by the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.ADVERTISING Trending Now Reuters reported that neither the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., nor the office of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg immediately responded to a request for comment.The U.S. government halted all non-essential travel from the U.K. back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a full-fledged pandemic, and the situation has remained unchanged for over a year. On the other side of the pond, the U.K. has just unveiled a plan for restarting foreign travel, set to go into effect on May 17. But, it’s currently classifying the U.S. as an “amber” country under the new traffic-light risk analysis system, making American travelers subject to a set of quarantine and testing requirements render the prospect of leisure travel less than appealing.Already, earlier this month, a coalition of U.S. and European aviation industry groups issued a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson petitioning the two leaders to fully reopen the U.S.-U.K. air travel market as early as the beginning of June, when the two chiefs are already scheduled to meet."Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and U.K. is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from COVID-19," the letter read. "The return of Transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year," it continued.Just yesterday, the U.S. State Department softened its travel advisory level for the U.K., bringing it down from a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” rating to a "Level 3: Reconsider Travel".The industry camp also opined that citizens of both the U.S. and U.K., "would benefit from the significant testing capability and the successful trials of digital applications to verify health credentials." On the American side, however, the U.S. government has already stated that it won’t require such so-called “vaccination passports” and hasn’t yet established any standards for helping U.S. travelers prove their vaccination status to foreign governments. Adblock test (Why?)

An Aviation Expert’s Insight Into the Future of Air Travel

Delta was the last commercial airline to end blocking off middle seats; its last flight that blocked seats flew on May 2, signaling an end to the practice, which was put in place as a safety measure against COVID-19.While blocking off middle seats was considered safer for transmission, the rise in vaccinations and lower daily positive rates in the U.S., combined with the fact that blocking seats was unsustainable for airlines to continue doing, were large factors in the airlines ending this practice.ADVERTISINGAccording to data from TradingPlatforms.com, the airline industry’s revenue dropped 47 percent because of the pandemic. Mother’s Day weekend, however, saw record numbers of people flying. May 9 alone recorded 1.7 million people flying, which was the highest number since the pandemic began. Trending Now As European countries like Croatia, Greece and France begin reopening to vaccinated travelers (or those who have tested negative for COVID-19, depending on the country’s requirements), airlines like Delta and United are adding more flights to these places, anticipating a strong push to travel internationally.Bryan Del Monte, President of The Aviation Agency, lends his expertise to what he believes is going to, or should, happen with the future of air travel moving forward.Vaccinations are key to getting air travel back to normal, but there’s a lot of discussion surrounding vaccine passports. Del Monte believes that changing the term ‘passport’ to ‘verification’ will get more people on board with the idea.“Words matter because they frame ideas and how people think about them. People say ‘passport’ and they envision people being denied going to the movies or the rest because of a vaccine identity card. However, this idea of asking people if they’re vaccinated, and how can they prove it, isn’t some radical thing. We do it all the time. We have medical records sent to places for a reason. We need to know who has been vaccinated in order to better contain the virus,” Del Monte explained.“Thus, I had the idea to call it ‘verification,’ because that’s what we’re really trying to do. It’s a term I believe should be adopted because of the political pushbuttons about the idea of ‘passport’ with the idea that it’s to control people. The idea of verification is more broad – are you vaccinated? We ask for verification all the time – when kids go to school, when you might participate on a school trip, when kids go to college, when you enlist in the military, etc. We ask for verification of vaccinations all the time in the interest of public health. We don’t call those activities a passport.” In April, Etihad Airlines started testing out IATA’s Travel Pass, while destinations like Hawaii and Japan considered their own vaccination passports or verification systems, and continue to do so. But what happens if everyone creates their own vaccine verification systems? Wouldn’t it be better to have just one?There’s no clear picture so far as to what will happen with potential vaccine verification systems, but Del Monte does stress the importance of the government in defining what the standards for air travel will look like within the U.S.“Air travel is ultimately regulated by the FAA and thus what constitutes safe flying is ultimately in the FAA’s lap. There will probably be some standards articulated sometime mid-summer. What I suspect we will hear is that those who are vaccinated can safely travel as long as they follow protocols of mask wearing and basic hygiene. Eventually we will have to find our way back to travel,” said Del Monte.The future of travel, and especially air travel, seems bright thanks to vaccinations, but how the world responds in terms of vaccine passports or verification is still to be determined. What we do know is that these systems will help open the world for travelers to explore. Adblock test (Why?)

Airlines Re-Set Pandemic-Era Travel Record Again

All you need to do is watch any local TV news broadcast from the weekend to see the touching, heartwarming videos of people, including small children, surprising their parents and grandparents for the first time in months.Maybe longer.ADVERTISING Trending Now And they did it by getting on a plane in record numbers. Mother’s Day Weekend proved to be quite fruitful for the aviation industry as a little more than 1.7 million people took to the air on Sunday, a pandemic-era record for travelers.That broke the record that was just set 48 hours earlier on Friday with just under 1.7 million, according to the Transportation Security Administration. It’s the highest number since March 2020, when travel was all but wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.The number of people being screened by the TSA at airports across the country was about 4,500 more on Sunday than on Friday.While that is still down 29 percent from the number of people who traveled by air on the same day in 2019, it nonetheless is an encouraging number given the context of the virus. At one point in April 2020, U.S. airlines were down to just five percent capacity – including some flights that took off with just one or two passengers on board. Adblock test (Why?)

Total 2020 Airline Revenue Drops Almost 50 Percent

Total revenue from all U.S. airlines fell almost 50 percent in 2020 compared to the year before, a dramatic decrease caused by the massive fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.According to data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, the total operating revenue of all domestic airlines in 2019 was $248 billion. That dropped to $130 billion in 2020, a 47 percent year-over-year decrease. At one point last year, flying capacity on all U.S. carriers dropped to just five percent. Even a year later the aviation industry still isn’t back to normal and is off about 40 percent.ADVERTISING Trending Now The 2020 figure was also the lowest recorded within the reporting period of 2004-2020.Airlines from the U.S. collectively registered a net loss of $24.6 billion in 2020, a 256 percent decrease from 2019 when US airlines registered a combined net profit of $15.71 billion.2020’s net loss was an even greater contraction than the one felt during the recession of 2008 when net loss was at $18.17 billion.All totaled, domestic carriers handled 60 percent fewer passengers last year compared to 2019. In 2019, U.S. airlines handed an estimated 926 million passengers, made up of 811 million domestic passengers and an estimated 115 million international passengers. In 2020? A stark difference, as the total number of passengers dropped by over 60 percent to just 369 million.Rex Pascual, editor at TradingPlatforns.com, said, “The airline industry was crippled by the pandemic despite the strong momentum that has been built over the last few years. More than a year after the virus took the global economy hostage, much uncertainty still remains about what the ‘new normal’ will look like and what it means for the future of air travel.” Adblock test (Why?)

US Airlines Increase Flights to European Countries Welcoming Vaccinated Americans

After more than a year of relative inactivity, it looks like U.S. air travel to Europe is starting to make its comeback—as evidenced by the fact that major U.S. carriers Delta and United Airlines are adding summer service to those European countries that are opening their borders to fully vaccinated or COVID-19 tested-negative Americans.The Continent is collectively doing its best to ensure that its travel sector can safely allow for foreign visitors when the 2021 summer season arrives. The European Union (E.U.) is already developing a shared digital vaccination certification to help facilitate cross-border travel within the 27-block, though this has yet to be released.ADVERTISING Trending Now European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also indicated she anticipates that fully vaccinated U.S. tourists will be welcomed in the E.U. sometime this summer. Certain E.U. members that are more dependent on foreign tourism markets to support their economies, like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Croatia, are especially eager to bring back visitors.With countries like Greece and France set to start lifting travel bans this month, it’s looking likely that Transatlantic flights will soon resume on an even larger scale. In fact, a new smarTours survey discovered that Europe is Americans’ most-desired destination for 2021.And, though the post-Brexit United Kingdom (U.K.) won’t align its own policies with E.U. regulations, it has lately established a roadmap for reopening to international travel, starting May 17. As things currently stand, U.S. travelers would need to fulfill pre- and post-travel testing requirements, plus complete a 10-day quarantine, in order to visit the U.K. Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo via SuppalakKlabdee / iStock / Getty Images Plus) New Routes: According to Business Insider, Delta Air Lines is set to debut new service between New York and Croatia, which opened to Americans in April, starting July 2. This will be Delta’s first-ever nonstop route to the Southeast European country. Service will consist of four-times-weekly departures from New York’s JFK Airport to Dubrovnik Airport (DBV), with return flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.United Airlines will launch its own service to Croatia on July 8, running thrice-weekly flights between Newark Liberty International Airport and Dubrovnik. Departures will run on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with return flights on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.Both Delta and United are also introducing routes to the other two prominent European nations welcoming American travelers: Iceland, which reopened to fully vaccinated foreign visitors on March 18; and Greece, opening to vaccinated or tested PCR-negative travelers on May 15. PHOTO: Acropolis in Athens in spring. (photo via sborisov / iStock / Getty Images Plus) United will start flying to Reykjavik, Iceland from Newark on June 3 and Chicago on July 1. Delta currently flies from New York to Reykjavik, and will also begin serving the Icelandic capital city from Boston on May 20 and Minneapolis on May 27.United is set to resume its routes from Newark to Athens on June 3 and start flying from Washington, D.C. to Athens on July 1. Delta will resume its route from New York to Athens on May 28 and initiate a new route between Atlanta and Athens on July 2. Adblock test (Why?)

United Facing Criticism for Accepting Aid but Outsourcing Jobs

United Airlines is facing scrutiny from some U.S. lawmakers after accepting federal aid in the last two rounds of stimulus but considering outsourcing catering jobs at five airports.The group of almost two dozen Congressmen and women want airlines to commit to keeping jobs and avoid outsourcing employment if they want a third round of federal payroll aid, according to Reuters News Agency.ADVERTISING Trending Now The members of Congress made the request to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, according to letters released by Unite Here, the union representing more than 2,500 workers whose jobs are at risk under United's proposal. "We respectfully request that any new PSP payments to United Airlines and other carriers make clear that any outsourcing of jobs while receiving PSP payments would violate the terms of the program," seven senators wrote in a May 4 letter to Yellen, who has authority over the terms of the aid.United has apparently solicited bids at five U.S. airports to outsource catering workers."Given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our business, United continues to explore ways to do things differently and become more efficient wherever we can," United spokeswoman Leigh Schramm said, adding that the outsourcing proposal is "part of that effort” but that no decisions have been made yet.United has received $7.7 billion in two previous coronavirus pandemic stimulus packages, designated what is known as the payroll support program (PSP) to keep employees staffed and paid.Reuters reported that United stands to receive another $2.8 billion under a third package set to run through Sept. 30. Adblock test (Why?)