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Abu Dhabi’s Terminal A Signals New Era Of Aviation

In line with the UAE’s sustainability aspirations and targets, the building features energy-efficient lighting, advanced Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems and has incorporated sustainable materials in its construction…reports Asian Lite News

Abu Dhabi Airports has announced the forthcoming opening of its state-of-the-art new terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Known as Midfield Terminal Building during the construction phase, ‘Terminal A’ is scheduled to begin operations in early November 2023.

The opening will mark a significant milestone for the emirate that has the potential to transform the local aviation ecosystem, strengthen Abu Dhabi’s growing reputation as a destination of choice for travellers, and further boost its position as a global hub for trade and business.

Covering 742,000 square meters of built-up area, Terminal A is among the largest airport terminals in the world and will significantly increase Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger and cargo capacity. Once operational, the new terminal will accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year, be able to process 11,000 travellers per hour and operate 79 aircraft at any given time.

The imposing and memorable architecture of Terminal A has won international design awards and adds an architectural landmark to Abu Dhabi’s cityscape. Blending modern, lightweight aesthetics with functional brilliance, the building’s glass exterior maximises natural light while creating a monumental civic space inside the terminal.

In line with the UAE’s sustainability aspirations and targets, the building features energy-efficient lighting, advanced Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems and has incorporated sustainable materials in its construction.

As a major step towards realising Abu Dhabi Airports’ commitment to limiting its operational carbon footprint, a fully integrated solar photovoltaic system has been installed on the roof of Terminal A’s car park, which currently powers a three-megawatt (MW) plant that is saving nearly 5,300t of CO₂ annually.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “As Abu Dhabi’s new gateway to the world, Terminal A is an embodiment of Abu Dhabi Airports’ commitment to support the emirate’s sustainable economic development. The opening of the facility, which is on par with the largest and grandest on our planet, turns over a new page in Abu Dhabi’s 55-year aviation history.”

Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Interim CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “Terminal A exemplifies our commitment to excellence and offering exceptional services that meet the evolving priorities of today’s travellers. Through leveraging the latest technologies, Abu Dhabi’s reimagined airport experience will offer a seamless passenger journey, fostering connectivity, interactions, business, trade and tourism, all of which are essential elements in strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position on the world stage.”

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Business UAE News

MEBAA Show to reassess dynamics of aviation industry

The MEBAA Show will bring a refreshed focus on in-person networking for the business aviation industry, with the aim of generating return on investment (ROI) for exhibitors…reports Asian Lite News

MEBAA Show 2022 is set to showcase the significant growth being experienced in business aviation, private jet, and the charter flight markets across the Middle East and Africa region. With its new and unique features, the event will reassess the dynamics of the industry, offer a new perspective and will be host to a range of opportunities aimed at bringing the region’s business and private aviation community together again.

2021 was marked as the busiest year for global business jet activity, the Middle East region alone showing some of the strongest growth in business jet demands, notably from the United Arab Emirates, which was up by 73% compared to 2019. The business aviation market in the Middle East maintained its growth momentum in 2022, with flights up by 47% in May, in comparison with same period in 2019.[1]

Mohammed Al Husary, Co-Owner, Founder and Executive President of UAS International Trip Support added: “Industry opportunities lie in delivering increased value to our clients, and this means increased efficiency. This is an operator’s number one priority.  The air charter and cargo markets are looking particularly promising going forward and, as always, pandemic, political unrest, or otherwise, clients continue to demand the efficiency, speed, and safety that business aviation provides.”

A host of new features planned at MEBAA Show include Biz Av Talks which will be an interactive gathering for sharing knowledge and expertise with industry leaders and specialists. The sessions on the show floor are designed to provide practical insights and advice on how the private aviation supply chain can overcome challenges and meet the demands of the future.

Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, Founding and Executive Chairman of MEBAA, said: “We are placing a major focus on networking, industry trend debates and engagement in the upcoming edition of the MEBAA Show. This is key for building partnerships and exchanging knowledge and expertise. The show will help contribute to the rapid growth of the business aviation industry and we are delighted to see great interest from major business aviation companies in MEBAA Show 2022, who will join hands to take the business aviation sector to the next level.” 

Paras Dhamecha, Managing Director, Empire Aviation Group added: “Business aviation is all about people, so we are looking forward to meeting our customers, partners and friends across the industry, face to face, to drive the industry forward. The future of the sector looks very positive across the Middle East and international markets as the industry evolves and develops quickly. We are well positioned to support business aviation in the region and beyond, from our base in Dubai.”

The MEBAA Show will bring a refreshed focus on in-person networking for the business aviation industry, with the aim of generating return on investment (ROI) for exhibitors. Today’s exhibitors value quality over quantity and the Show will provide a dedicated platform for world-class companies within the business aviation sector to showcase the latest innovation.

Attendees can expect to see the launch of new features and activations across the show floor to ensure interactivity and engagement. Some of the new show features include the Future Focus Zone where the future of business aviation will be on display, and a dedicated VIP Programme will ensure VIP attendees get an experience they are accustomed to including a dedicated registration and exclusive access to the luxurious VIP lounge. Other features include a host of private meeting suites, digital café, White Bar and outdoor entertainment feature areas, which will deliver a festival feel in December. The newly launched AI-powered MEBAA Connect application will facilitate business connections between exhibitors and visitors. In addition, the Operators’ Lounge will be dedicated to supporting networking with select regional and international operators.

The MEBAA Show, the Middle East’s leading business aviation platform, is set to return from 6 – 8 December 2022 at Dubai World Central (DWC) Airport, Dubai Airshow site.

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Business India News

India to recover pandemic battered aviation industry

Chowdhury pointed out that advance bookings for the upcoming summer season have also seen an encouraging trend driven by an expected revival in the hospitality and tourism industry…reports Rohit Vaid

The reinstatement of regular international flight operations is expected to boost the pandemic battered civil aviation industry in India.

On Sunday, scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India were restarted.

The Centre has allowed over 3,200 flights per week from India during this year’s summer schedule which commenced on Sunday.

Besides, the restart of regular international services brings more options and lower prices for passengers.

Industry experts say that the present juncture might be the opportune moment for India’s airline industry to gain international market share.

At present, foreign carriers ferry more Indians to overseas destinations than the homegrown airlines.

“The resumption of regular international flights after a hiatus of 2 years is set to give a booster shot to the domestic airline companies who have seen a prolonged disruption to their operations,” said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research.

“While risks of additional Covid waves will remain, the likelihood of the same impacting economic activities including passenger transportation in a severe manner is gradually on a decline, given the high vaccination coverage and the increased immunity.”

Chowdhury pointed out that advance bookings for the upcoming summer season have also seen an encouraging trend driven by an expected revival in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Lately, the domestic air passenger traffic has seen a sequential pickup.

In February 2022, the traffic grew by 19 per cent over January 2022 due to a rapid drop in Omicron cases, although the volumes were still significantly lower than the pre-Covid levels.

“Domestic travel has been increasing rapidly in the past few months,” said Ashish Chhawchharia, Partner & National Head — Restructuring Services at Grant Thornton Bharat.

“As international travel resumes, a huge boost to the travel and tourism industry will be felt across the hospitality, F&B and retail sector. In the near future, fleet size, airports and routes, maintenance, cargo, FTOs and drones are going to expand exponentially, to meet the demand.”

Furthermore, pent-up demand for international wanderlust is expected to keep seats full for airlines.

Moreover, even the fuel used on the international routes is far cheaper than the one consumed for domestic operations.

“‘Go Big’ is the theme for international travel this year. The industry is seeing a strong desire for grand getaways fuelled by pent-up demand and limited international travel options in the last two years,” said Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder & Group CPTO, ixigo.

“We are also seeing a trend of travellers now eager to book long-haul destinations with international borders reopening and relaxation of rules across the globe.”

As per ixigo, significant uptick has been seen in travel search queries for popular international destinations like Australia, Sri Lanka, US & UK.

“Travel search queries from India for Australian cities like Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney have jumped 15-20 per cent this month,” Kumar said.

In addition to airlines, other segments like airports and the hospitality are expected to reap the benefits out of the reinstatement.

“After missing international summer travel for two consecutive years and the country recording the lowest cases of all time, passengers have shown keen interest in leisure travel over the last couple of months,” a CSMIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai) spokesperson said.

“With international travel soon resuming, we anticipate passenger footfall crossing pre-pandemic numbers with nearly 700 flight movements daily in the summer of 2022.”

India had banned the operation of international flights on March 23, 2020 to contain and control the spread of Covid-19.

Flight restrictions, however, were later eased under the air bubble arrangement with certain countries.

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India News Travel

Aviation ministry eases Covid rules for air travel

Also in the same period, a total of 6,77,218 tests were conducted across the country. India has so far conducted over 78.42 crore cumulative tests…reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has eased the COVID-19-related regulations for air travel in the wake of the recent drop in number of cases in the country.

The Ministry stated that cabin crew members need not wear PPE kit, airlines need not keep three seats vacant on international flights for medical emergencies and security personnel at airports can resume pat-down search of passengers.

The relaxation has been given to facilitate “smooth conduct of air operations”, the ministry’s order, dated March 21, stated.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), in its order, said that the restriction of keeping three seats vacant on international flights for handling medical emergencies related to COVID-19 stands removed.

“Airlines may carry a few additional PPE protective gears, sanitiser and N-95 masks, to handle any respiratory infections related to cases on air, for passengers as well as the crew,” the MoCA noted.

It said it had allowed full domestic flight operations from October 18, 2021, and has now decided to recommence scheduled international flight operations from March 27, 2022, “in view of the declining COVID-19 cases, high level of vaccinations and prevailing COVID-19 situation”.

The requirement of complete PPE kit for crew member stands removed, the MoCA stated.

Meanwhile, India reported 1,778 fresh Covid cases, marginally higher than the previous days’ count of 1,581 in a span of 24 hours. In the same period 62 deaths were recorded taking the total number to 5,16,605, said the Union Health ministry on Wednesday morning.

Following a continuous downward trend, India’s active caseload further declined to 23,087 on Wednesday, constituting 0.05 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

A total of 2,542 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours and the cumulative tally of recovered patients since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 4,24,73,057. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.75 per cent.

Also in the same period, a total of 6,77,218 tests were conducted across the country. India has so far conducted over 78.42 crore cumulative tests.

There has been a sustained fall in the weekly and daily positivity rates too. Weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 0.36 per cent and the daily positivity rate is also reported to be 0.26 per cent.

On the vaccination front, India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 181.89 crore as per the provisional reports till 7 a.m. Wednesday. This has been achieved through 2,14,87,809 sessions. Over 52 lakh adolescents have been administered with the first dose of Covid vaccine since the beginning of the inoculation drive for 12 to 14 age group, said the ministry.

More than 16.97 crore balance and unutilised Covid vaccine doses are still available with the states and union territories to be administered, according to the health ministry as of Wednesday morning.

ALSO READ-Finally, all Covid travel curbs to be removed  

-Top News Abu Dhabi UAE News

Abu Dhabi to develop M-E’s first Waste-to-Sustainable Aviation Fuel plant

The plant will significantly contribute to the UAE’s actions on Climate Change…reports Asian Lite News

Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre (Tadweer) signed a Joint Project Development Agreement (JPDA) with Etihad Airways to facilitate the development of the first Waste-to-Sustainable Aviation Fuel (WtF) plant in the Middle East Region on the occasion of Dubai Air Show 2021.

Abu Dhabi

Upon completion, the plant will have the potential to transform up to 4 million tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) every year into Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), according to a press release issued on Monday.

The SAF produced from the WtF plant in Abu Dhabi would be compliant to International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) standards for decarbonisation of the aviation sector. The plant will help Abu Dhabi to divert 75 percent of municipal waste away from landfills.

This plant will significantly contribute to the UAE’s actions on Climate Change. The UAE is the host of 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28).

The Waste-to-SAF plant is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by about 1 million tonnes annually – equivalent to the removal of more than 200,000 cars from the road.

DR. SALEM AL KAABI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, TADWEER: “This agreement is aligned with Tadweer’s continued efforts to divert waste from landfills and harness technological innovations that are commercially viable to address the challenges posed by the treatment of large volume of waste. In working closely with our partners, Tadweer is proud to steer Abu Dhabi’s sustainability agenda through the implementation of an integrated, world-class waste management system that ensures a cleaner and more sustainable environment for present and future generations.”

“This collaboration between Tadweer and Etihad Airways reinforces Abu Dhabi’s, and the broader UAE’s, commitment to net-zero targets that puts UAE on a credible path to zero out emissions by mid-century. We look forward to capitalising on further opportunities that utilise the most efficient waste-management technologies and drive our nation’s clean development ambitions,” Dr. Salem added.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said, “To truly make sustainability a reality in aviation we need to look at the biggest contributing factor, fuel, where sustainable aviation fuel is required to meet the net zero target. Through this agreement, four million tonnes of waste will be converted into 140 million gallons of SAF, representing a significant portion of our annual fuel requirement. Today’s collaboration between Tadweer and Etihad Airways is just the first step towards a much broader engagement within Abu Dhabi to create a hub for producing SAF and synfuels.”

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Abu Dhabi’s waste to SAF facility will make the Emirate of Abu Dhabi the leader in the Middle East region to process municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste, to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel and be on the world map of SAF producers meeting the highest specifications and standards adopted globally.

The proposed WtF plant would be developed through joint procurement by Tadweer and Etihad Airways. Etihad airways would be entering into a long-term SAF offtake agreement and Tadweer as the provider of feedstock waste under a long-term waste supply agreement. Private sector participants would be invited to submit proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facilities, which will use advanced commercially proven technology to convert municipal solid waste into Sustainable Aviation Fuel, said the press release.

Arab News News UAE News

First five-bladed H145 arrives in the Middle East

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first five-bladed H145 to Milestone Aviation and Al-Sharqiya Aviation…reports Asian Lite News

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first five-bladed H145 to Milestone Aviation and Al-Sharqiya Aviation, which will operate the helicopter in the Sultanate of Oman for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) missions. It is the first five-bladed H145 in the Middle East region. With the new helicopter, Al-Sharqiya Aviation will further expand its service offering providing reliable onshore and offshore passenger transport and Emergency Medical Services throughout the Sultanate of Oman.

First five-bladed H145 arrives in the Middle East

“AL-Sharqiya Aviation is very proud to be the first operator of the five-bladed H145 variant in the Middle East. The on-time arrival of the helicopter was critical to deliver for our customers and we thank Airbus and Milestone for their support,” said Tariq Al Barwani, CEO of AL-Sharqiya Aviation.

CLAIRE BRUGIRARD, VICE PRESIDENT COMMERCIAL AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST, MILESTONE: “We are extremely grateful for the confidence that ASA has in the Milestone team, and for the hard work by the Airbus team to ensure the timely delivery of the aircraft. We wish ASA all the success with this brand new five-bladed H145 and look forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future.”

“We’re honored that the H145 will enter into service for HEMS missions in Oman soon”, said Axel Humpert, Head of the H145 programme at Airbus Helicopters. “Especially the excellent hot & high performance and the increased useful load the new five-bladed version offers make it the perfect choice for those missions in the Middle East.”

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The new version of Airbus’ best-selling H145 light twin-engine helicopter was unveiled at Heli-Expo 2019 in Atlanta in March. This latest upgrade adds a new, innovative five-bladed rotor to the multi-mission H145, increasing the useful load of the helicopter by 150 kg. The simplicity of the new bearingless main rotor design will also ease maintenance operations, further improving the benchmark serviceability and reliability of the H145, while improving ride comfort for both passengers and crew. The helicopter’s high-mounted tail boom and wide opening clamshell doors facilitate access to the H145’s spacious cabin.

Today, Airbus has more than 1,515 H145 Family helicopters in service around the world, logging a total of more than six million flight hours. For EMS alone, there are more than 470 helicopters of the H145 family conducting air rescue missions worldwide.

Arab News News PAKISTAN

Airblue receives its firstA321neo aircraft

Airblue Limited, the private Islamabad-based airline, has taken delivery of its first A321neo aircraft…reports Asian Lite News

Airblue Limited, the private Islamabad-based airline, has taken delivery of its first A321neo aircraft. It marks an important step in Pakistan’s aviation journey, making Airblue the first operator of an Airbus neo aircraft in the country. The airline currently operates an all Airbus fleet of nine A320 Family aircraft.

Airblue receives its firstA321neo aircraft

Airblue’s A321neo, on lease from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) is equipped with CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines. Currently Airblue operates domestic flights to Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Multan and to international destinations in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The A321neo will enable the airline to further expand its network.

The highly-fuel-efficient A321neo will help reduce Airblue’s operating costs and will offer exceptional technical, economic and environmental performance by incorporating the latest engines, aerodynamic advances and cabin innovations.

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Airblue’s A321neo is configured with 235 seats in an all economy class cabin. Passengers on-board the aircraft will benefit from the widest cabin of any single-aisle aircraft, stand-alone Off Seat Power Supply system and Wireless Content Distribution (WCD).

The A320neo Family offers airlines more options for configuring the generous floor space offered by its A321neo, allowing more flexibility and thus increasing the total number of available seats. These new cabin options, along with the A320 Family commonality and its new engine options, will allow Airblue to further enhance its operations, routes, and market share.  

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Post-Covid Challenges of Global Aviation

In Asia Pacific, airlines have fared the worst in the world according to latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) data released in June. The region experienced the steepest traffic decline for the ninth consecutive month, with capacity down 86.3 per cent, a report by Anwesha Bhaumik

As global aviation prepares for a post-Covid rebound, a new report from aviation insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) highlights some of the unique challenges airlines and airports face in restarting operations, ranging from “rusty” pilots to insect infestations.

The report also identifies a number of ways in which Covid-19 is reshaping the sector, driving long-term changes in fleet composition, flight routes and passenger demand.

“The grounding of worldwide fleets during the pandemic was an unprecedented event for the aviation industry,” Dave Warfel, a Regional Head of Aviation at AGCS, told IANS over e-mail.

“Airlines have worked tirelessly to maintain their fleets and train their crews during this long period of inactivity and, as insurers, we take a keen interest in working with them to understand their plans to return to service.

“Challenges will no doubt emerge as the industry readies for takeoff again. Although it is hard to predict in exactly what shape the aviation industry will return, one thing is for certain – it will have changed,” Warfel said.

In Asia Pacific, airlines have fared the worst in the world according to latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) data released in June.

The region experienced the steepest traffic decline for the ninth consecutive month, with capacity down 86.3 per cent.

Singapore Airlines is facing its second consecutive annual loss amounting to a net loss of 4.3 billion as of March 2021, largely because unlikely other countries it does not have domestic travel.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Malaysian Air Asia Group and Thai Airways are in bankruptcy courts to negotiate time to restructure their debts.

The AGCS reports flags the following challenges facing global aviation:

“Rusty” pilots and the return of sightseeing flights

Earlier this year, dozens of pilots reported making mistakes, such as taking multiple attempts to land, to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, with many citing rustiness as a factor on returning to the skies.

In September 2020, an Indonesian flight veered off the runway during landing as the pilots had did not have the opportunity to fly an aircraft in months. Airlines (and other operators) are well aware of the potential for pilot “rustiness” and continue to take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.

Major airlines have developed different training programs for pilots re-entering service, depending on the length of absence.

“At a time of such unprecedented activity, it is comforting to know that the risk management processes that made airline travel safer than any form of travel prior to the pandemic will continue to drive an unparalleled travel safety environment in the post Covid-19 world,” says Warfel.

However, the return of sightseeing flights in tourism destinations could lead to an uptick in risk for smaller leisure aircraft, including helicopters, particularly if there is an influx of new pilots unfamiliar with the routes and terrain. There have already been a number of fatal accidents involving sightseeing flights in recent years

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“Air rage” incidents on the rise

Unruly behaviour of airplane passengers is increasingly a concern, particularly in the US. In a typical year there are around 150 reports of passenger disruption on aircraft.

By June, there had been 3,000 according to the Federal Aviation Administration – the majority involving passengers refusing to wear a mask. The report notes that unruly passengers may later claim they were discriminated against by the airline in these cases even when in the wrong – a trend insurers need to stay on top of.

This trend, however was not a concern in Asia as countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have imposed a blanket requirement for everyone to wear masks as long as they are in public and not only for air travel.

Perils from parked fleets

Although a large proportion of the world’s airline fleet have been, and are still, parked during Covid-19, loss exposures do not disappear. They change. Parked fleets are exposed to weather events.

In Asia, the challenge lies in aircrafts being exposed to extreme weather events particularly in countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines that are prone to strong storms. The risk lies in moving groups of aircrafts without causing damage.

The risk of shunting or ground incidents also increases, which can bring costly claims. There were a number of collisions at the start of the pandemic as operators transferred aircraft to storage facilities. More are likely when aircraft are moved again ahead of reuse.

Aircraft in storage typically undergo regular maintenance to ensure they are ready to return. However, never has the industry seen so many aircraft temporarily put out of service and the report notes that smaller airlines may face significant challenges when reactivating fleets, given it will be an unprecedented process.

Pilot shortage brings risks

Odd as it may seem given the impact of Covid-19, the global aviation industry faces a pilot shortage in the mid to long-term. The tremendous increase in air travel pre-pandemic, annual air passenger growth in China alone was 10 per cent plus a year from 2011, meant pilot demand was already outstripping supply.

More than a quarter of a million are required over the coming decade. Moreover, the pandemic has forced many airline companies to lay off pilots as seen in Cathay Pacific cutting 600 pilots to ease its financial burden.

“In less regulated countries, shortages can lead to pilots operating commercial aircraft with limited qualifications and low overall flying time,” says Warfel.

“Pilot fatigue is also a known risk among existing pilots that must be properly managed. Fortunately, there is a lot of industry expertise and resources available to assist airlines in building proper fatigue management systems.”

Some airlines are building their own pilot pipelines by establishing flight schools. Given the nature of training, flying schools are prone to accidents and claims are becoming more expensive with rising values of aircraft and increased activity. Landing accidents are most common, but insurers have also seen total losses.

New generation aircraft bring safety improvements but higher costs

A number of airlines have shrunk their fleets or retired aircraft over the past year, as the pandemic hastens a generational shift to smaller aircraft, given the anticipated reduced number of passengers on aircraft in the short-term future.

“Newer generation aircraft bring safety and efficiency benefits,” says Axel von Frowein, a Regional Head of Aviation at AGCS.

“However, new materials such as composites, titanium and alloys are more expensive to repair, resulting in higher claims costs.”

Robust performance by air cargo and trend will continue

Although passenger travel has been devastated by the pandemic, other aviation sectors have performed more robustly, such as cargo operators.

In April, Asia Pacific reported its best month for international air cargo since the pandemic began, thanks to rising business confidence, e-commerce and congestion at sea ports, while Latin America to North America freighter capacity grew by almost a third in May compared to the same two week period in 2019. The report expects air cargo to continue to perform strongly.

A Singaporean low-cost airline, Scoot has re-configured their regular passenger cabins to allow aircrafts to carry extra cargo, while Singapore Airlines continues to capture more vaccination shipments as production ramps up and the demand for exports increase.

Business travel – boom or bust?

Pre-Covid-19 business travel traffic amounted to $1.5 trillion a year or around 1.7 per cent of global GDP. With many airlines dialling back expectations in the short-term, the report asks whether those days are over.

New ways of collaboration, such as video calls, proved to be effective and more companies are aiming to reduce business travel to improve their carbon footprint. Therefore, while there will be initial surge once lockdowns end, many airlines are preparing for a long-term paradigm shift in travelling, with business travel expected to be slow to pick up.

However, what speaks for a possible uptick is that some areas of business aviation have proven resilient during the pandemic. Companies that had aircraft continued to use them while many that had never purchased or chartered an aircraft before did so for the first time. Many charter companies thrived.

New routes grows in Europe, Asia- Pacific

Over 1,400 new air routes are scheduled for 2021, more than double those added in 2016, driven by Europe (over 600) and Asia Pacific (over 500), with regional airports set to be the main beneficiaries. Growth in China’s domestic market alone has seen over 200 new routes added, almost the same as the US.

China has one of the largest domestic tourism markets in the world. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism estimated there will be more than four billion trips made across China in 2021, a market worth just over USD$500 billion. The demand for domestic alternatives, possibly exceeding pre-pandemic levels is not surprising, especially as China is home to 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

“This development reflects the desire of some airlines to experiment in uncertain times, particularly smaller ones,” says von Frowein.

“New routes means less congested airspace and congestion at airports which can have a positive impact on risks such as ground handling incidents. However, flying new routes can bring a heightened risk environment.”

Insect infestations affect instrument accuracy

There have been a number of reports of unreliable airspeed and altitude readings during the first flight(s) after some aircraft have left storage. In many cases, the problem was traced back to undetected insect nests inside the aircraft’s pitot tubes, pressure-sensitive sensors that feed data to an avionics computer. Such incidents have led to rejected takeoffs and turn back events. Contamination risk increases if storage procedures are not followed.

Covid-19 claims impact

The AGCS report also notes the aviation industry has seen relatively few claims directly related to the pandemic to date. In a small number of liability notifications, passengers have sued airlines for cancellations/disruptions.

“Covid-19 has not been a direct driver of aviation claims over the past year,” says Cristina Schoen, Global Head of Aviation Claims at AGCS.

“As a result of the significant reduction in commercial airline travel during the pandemic we saw fewer attritional claims than we would during a typical year.

“However, the insurance sector was not immune to larger losses during the course of the pandemic, with different regions seeing tragic accidents, emergency landings and hull losses to name a few. As air travel begins to return to pre-pandemic levels we expect claims volume to rise accordingly.”

AGCS analysis of more than 46,000 aviation insurance claims from 2016 to year-end 2020 worth more than 14.5 billion euros ($17.3 billion) shows collision/crash incidents account for over half the value of all claims. Other expensive causes of loss include faulty workmanship/maintenance and machinery breakdown.

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