American Airlines introduces temporary reductions to in-flight catering

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American Airlines is reducing flight attendant-customer interaction and maximising space between customers on aircraft as it responds further to coronavirus (COVID-19).

 To further provide for social distancing and minimal contact between flight attendants and customers, American will offer limited food and beverage options from 27 March through 30 April. The reduced service will be based on flight length and destination. Full service will resume once the COVID-19 situation has stabilised. American is exploring and expects to make bottled water and snacks available at the gate in the near future.

For all flights shorter than 2,200 miles (typically less than 4 1/2 hours), alcohol will not be available in Main Cabin, but will be available on request in first class. Beverages will be available on request and limited to water, canned beverages or juice. No snacks or food for purchase will be served and meals will not be offered in first class.

For all flights longer than 2,200 miles (typically more than 4 1/2 hours), including transcontinental and flights to Hawaii alcohol will not be served in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra except on long-haul international flights. Alcohol will be available in first class and other Main Cabin beverages will be served as usual.

No snacks or food for purchase will be served. Main Cabin meals will be served on long-haul international flights. First and business class meals will be served on one tray versus in courses.

American will also suspend pre-departure beverage service on all flights.

“Our flight attendants spend the most time with our customers and play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of our customers,” said Jill Surdek, Senior Vice President of Flight Service. “As a result of working with our flight attendant team and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, we are taking these necessary steps today and will continue to update our policies in response to guidance from the CDC.”

ACA Fabio Gamba

ASA & ACA call for urgent action to prevent collapse of aviation industry

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ACA Fabio Gamba

Fabio Gamba, Director General of Airline Catering Association (ACA) & Airport Services Association (ASA) has written to all EU-27 Ministries of Transport/Depts of Civil Aviation and Finance urging financial support for its members to mitigate the effects COVID-19, which he called the “biggest and most challenging crisis ever faced by our industry.”

ASA and ACA represent ground handlers and airline caterers, with a workforce of around 400,000 and 150,000 employees respectively throughout the world. Some 180,000 workers are based in the EU.

Gamba stressed that, “Members won’t be able to continue their operations throughout the crisis and will very soon have to resort to extreme measures, such as mass lay-offs and unpaid leaves.”

He emphasised that, “this period of disruption is leading to a cash-flow crisis which poses a direct threat to our very survival. Our industry operates a low-margin model. We are generally paid on a per-service basis or tonnage, so where flights are grounded, our provision is cancelled, and our revenue cut off. Our main overheads are our labour force (70% of expenditure). We have already been forced to pursue aggressive headcount reduction in recent weeks and days, which we deeply regret.

“Looking forward, the more staff we lay off, the greater the challenge we will face in servicing the bounce-back and economic recovery once this crisis is over. On average we estimate it takes around three months to hire, train and badge new staff, and there is very low transferability between stations. There is therefore a strong business interest in maintaining the existing workforce. Any relief measures Governments propose to the industry are welcome. But these measures shouldn’t solely consider the airlines in isolation.”

Highlighting the interconnected nature of the industry, Gamba wrote, “It cannot be taken for granted that any support provided to airlines will necessarily trickle down to the rest of the value chain, including ourselves. In concrete terms, the support we are desperately looking for is ensuring cashflow to allow us to maintain as much of our existing workforce as possible during this period.

He asked for Ministers to:

  1. Take over the social costs incumbent to employers at least until September 2020;
  2. Defer tax payments until 2021;
  3. Provide access to an emergency fund which we can use to continue to pay salaries;
  4. Provide a guarantee to banks and financial institutions so that they maintain financing of the aviation sector, and ours in particular.
Dr Joe Leader

APEX/IFSA call for financial support for entire supply chain

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Dr Joe Leader

APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) has reiterated its call for financial support of the global airline industry.

It is backing a proposal from A4A for US$50 billion in US airline support alongside the $150 billion proposed by IATA and proposing that four out of every five dollars of global government support should go directly to airlines with the remaining one dollar held for airline suppliers. For the US alone, an additional $12.5 billion will be required by airline suppliers to successfully weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Both the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) are encouraging members to contact their US senators and US representatives directly, preferably by phone, to push the case for relief for airline suppliers and vendors.

In a letter to the US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, APEX and IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader wrote:

“As you continue efforts to assist the airline industry, we respectfully request that relief also be provided specifically for airline suppliers and vendors which are a fully integrated part of the airline industry. These include airline caterers, food suppliers, systems manufacturers and installers, connectivity companies, and content distributors, to name a few. These companies and their thousands of employees already are bearing a severe financial burden due to the government- and business-imposed restrictions to air travel, and that burden grows daily…. The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated.”

Luxaviation CEO Hansen

Luxaviation launches solidarity initiative for business aviation industry

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Luxaviation CEO Hansen

The European Business Aviation Solidarity Initiative (EBASI), a solidarity endeavour which puts the administrative, financial and procurement resources of Luxaviation Group at the service of smaller and operators and fellow contenders during the crisis, has been launched.

During the next three months and starting with immediate, Luxaviation Group will support the European aviation industry by sharing some of its expertise in procurement, purchasing power and finance resources to operators for free, helping smaller or fellow business aviation companies to concentrate on their core business.

Patrick Hansen, CEO of Luxaviation Group said: “As a major group we have to take our responsibility towards our clients, partners and the industry in general. We build our business on resources that smaller operators are lacking during lockdown. This initiative allows them to focus their limited resources on keeping their clients and assets safe, which is paramount to keep the industry as healthy as possible.”

The EBASI initiative shall allow any participating jet operator, to enjoy where possible the same pricing that Luxaviation Group gets from suppliers as well as to take advantage of the Luxaviation Group’s payment terms. It also provides operators with the possibility to get access to all documents required to be sent to authorities and other agencies alike to reduce costs.

“We also invite EBAA to join the EBASI initiative,” said Hansen, “With the financial support of EBAA a ‘guarantee fund’ could be set up and CAA, Eurocontrol and various European Institutions could make sure that the rescue funds are flowing. In case EBAA was ready and on-board the initiative, we would be very much inclined to put EBASI under their supervision or coordination.”

Luxaviation Group also invites suppliers and larger operators that might not have been contacted to join the solidarity initiative. The Group’s initiative focuses currently on Europe but might be extended to other parts of the world.

Operators interested in the initiative get in touch with Chief Operations Officer, Joao Casimiro or Group President of Wholesale, Christophe Lapierre at ebasi@luxaviation.com