Air Canada sets booking policy for cargo-only passenger aircraft

Modesto Morganelli
Marzo 27, 2020

Governments stepped up efforts today to help airlines hammered by a virus-induced travel slump, with the United States offering US$58 billion (RM251 billion) in aid, Singapore promising to keep its carrier aloft, and Australia easing competition rules.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents the airline industry, said that red tape is holding up medical and other emergency supplies needed to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.

"Travel restrictions and evaporating demand mean that, aside from cargo, there is nearly no passenger business", he said.

Airlines are scrambling to meet the gap between cargo demand and available lift by all means possible, including re-introducing freighter services and using passenger aircraft for cargo operations.

FILE PHOTO: Aircrafts of Air France Airlines are seen on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy-en-France following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France March 24, 2020.

Faced with tumbling passenger revenues, many airlines including three major US carriers have begun chartering out wide-bodied jets for use on cargo-only missions.

"Although we have announced very significant temporary capacity reductions and our passenger flights are largely dedicated to bringing Canadians home, Air Canada's aircraft and our expertise in handling cargo are valuable assets that we can use to move medical supplies and other essential goods to keep the world economy going".

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday evening passed an industry aid package, half in the form of grants to cover some 750,000 employees' paychecks.

Those receiving funds can not lay off employees before Sept 30 or change collective bargaining pacts.

The invoice has restrictions on inventory buybacks, dividends, and government payments, and permits the federal government to take fairness, warrants, or different compensation as a part of the rescue package deal.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote to approve the measure on Friday and President Donald Trump has promised to sign it into law.

IATA estimates the COVID-19 crisis will reduce passenger demand in Asia-Pacific by 37% this year compared to 2019, with a revenue loss of $88 billion. But this has not stopped carriers from putting staff on leave and grounding planes.

Virgin Australia plans to completely lower greater than 1,000 jobs among the many eight, 000 employees who have already been stood down.

The passenger travel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with Australia's Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd on Thursday announcing plans to cut 6,000 travel agent roles globally, either temporarily or permanently.

In a move unthinkable under normal conditions, Australia's competition regulator said it would allow Virgin, Qantas Airways and Regional Express to coordinate flight schedules and share revenue on 10 regional routes.

The government had only asked Air India to convert its passenger planes to cargo, which the national carrier feels is unviable.

United Airways Holdings mentioned capability would drop by 68% in April, and Alaska Air Group stated it could lower its schedule by 70% in April and May. American Airlines suspended its dividend, drew down a $400 million credit score line, and secured an extra mortgage.

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