End of Month News Stories

Mature businessman sitting and reading newspaper while waiting for boarding in airport

Bigger summer schedule by Ryanair

Read with great interest the latest Ryanair statement in which the company announced a big increase on their flights for the coming summer. The programme will mainly concentrate on the airline’s Dublin operations with accompanying increases on investment and jobs. According to the company this is their biggest ever schedule. It will contain more flights to sunny destination like Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and to popular Mediterranean islands. In addition, the extension of the plan provides the Irish public with a greater choice on destinations. At the same time, the wider schedule expected to bring into the country plenty of tourism and visitors. 

The timing of the announcement is important as a number of countries look to come out from the different restrictions. For example, England has already published changes to international travel rules to ease travel for everyone. These changes apply from the 11th of February, giving travellers better accessibility to overseas flying and holidays abroad. For many stakeholders and businesses the general feeling is a positive one while overall there is an optimistic sensation for the future of aviation. Despite that the new year started slowly, industry sources believe that the growth for air transport will come by the second half of the year.  

Ongoing dispute – Order cancelled

A dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways dominated the aviation industry’s headlines for the past few days. The major aircraft manufacturer has announced the cancellation of the $6bn contract with Qatar Airways for 50 new A321neo aircraft. The ongoing dispute between the two companies was regarding surface degradation and paint related aspects.  

With such cancellation, Qatar Airways are likely to find themselves under pressure. The new aircraft are essential to the airline. While Qatar prepares to host the world cup in 2022 the airline is now looking to expand its operational schedule. According to media sources Qatar Airways is already in a legal battle with Airbus and is suing the company for $600 million. The reports indicate that Qatar Airways’ claim is for compensation over erosion of paint and lighting protection. This dispute has not closed yet. More legal proceedings expected in April.

Request for relaxation of travel restrictions

I consider the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) announcement for the easing of travel restrictions as very pleasing news. IATA urges governments to remove all travel related barriers – including the testing and quarantine aspects – mainly as Covid 19 appears to evolve to an endemic stage.   

According to Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, “…the current situation of travel restrictions is a mess…”. This view aligns with the Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO High Level Conference stating one vision for aviation recovery. Everyone is dealing with one issue yet, the existing different solutions by countries exasperate the situation. Similarly, there is no universal recognition for all vaccines on the WHO list. This generates additional problems for aviation.

For me, the aviation sector should now focus on how to produce simple and practical conditions, pertinent to air travel. Aviation passengers and activities are currently discriminated against other sectors and consumer groups. This inequality has to come to an end. A more balanced approach is essential as we learn to live with the virus in the future.   

Author: Nikolas Koukos

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