COVID-19 Live Blog: April 1
With people in many of the core business jet markets stuck in their homes, business aviation flights have fallen dramatically. Here is the main news around the world on April 1.
We have just held a fascinating Town Hall with more than 450 participants – including speakers from Hong Kong, Dubai, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the US.
Corporate Jet Investor: Town Hall Meeting One: Wednesday April 1, 2020: Around the World in 60 minutes
We have just finished our first Town Hall. More than 450 senior industry leaders took part.
Luxaviation reminds us that Covid-19 crisis will pass
Luxaviation has produced an inspiring video reminding us that Covid-19 will not be around for ever.
Release: NATA, NBAA Highlight Unique Challenges for General Aviation Businesses in Applying for CARES Act Relief
Washington, DC, April 1, 2020 – Today the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, seeking additional guidance on the loan and grant provisions for air carriers, including certain general aviation operators, enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The letter requests that the Treasury Department consider the unique scale and business operations of general aviation air carriers and fixed based operators (FBOs) when developing guidance on the loan and grant programs. Under the CARES Act, general aviation businesses and FBOs that are contractors to the scheduled airlines are eligible to apply for payroll support grants and loans.
However, the initial guidance issued by the Treasury Department presents challenges for general aviation businesses, as certain requirements were structured for the scheduled airlines. In their letter, NATA and NBAA requested that the secretary provide additional guidance and flexibility for the general aviation community while protecting taxpayer dollars.
The letter emphasizes the critical role of general aviation in connecting communities at thousands of airports not served by the scheduled airlines. The industry serves 5,000 airports across the nation, transporting time-sensitive equipment and medical personnel, air ambulance flights, and dozens of other critical missions as the country responds to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“NATA and our industry partners are grateful to Congress, the Treasury Department, and the agencies for working swiftly and cooperatively with us to address the needs of our members, who not only provide important services every day, but are uniquely positioned to assist in these times of great need. We are pleased they heard our request to include Part 135 and other general aviation businesses in the CARES Act,” stated NATA President and CEO Timothy Obitts.
“NBAA worked hard to advocate for general aviation air carriers during the development of the CARES Act, and we are pleased that our industry has the potential to access these loan and grant programs. We encourage the Treasury Department to carefully consider the unique challenges our members face in applying for these programs as further guidance is developed,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
The associations also expressed support for a recent order by the Department of Transportation to better define air service requirements for companies receiving assistance under the CARES Act. They also asked the Treasury department to consider that most NATA and NBAA members are not publicly traded companies, have limited liquidity, and are not required to report operating metrics as described in the initial guidance.
For more information, view the NBAA resource: Key Provisions for General Aviation Businesses in the CARES Act.
Argus TRAQPak predicts US business jet flights down by 27.8% in March
Argus TRAQPak data shows that US business aircraft flights were down just 0.2% in February. But is predicting a drop of 27.8% in March.
Air Partner: “global private jets industry is operating at reduced levels”
Air Partner, one of the world’s largest air charter brokers, has had a busy start to 2020 organising large evacuation flights. It is also optimistic about cargo charter flights in the next few months as companies restore supply chains.
But it is more downbeat on its private jet division. In a statement to shareholders it said:
“The global private jets industry is operating at reduced levels. This is mirrored in our own customer activity, albeit with the US holding up better, reflecting the size and depth of the market and its customers’ habits. JetCard use has slowed in line with the industry.”
Air Partner, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is now starting a major cost-cutting plan – including all directors taking a 20% pay cut. It has £6.5m in cash (not including ,customer deposits and JetCard cash). It also has a £1.5m overdraft and a £13m revolving credit facility – which is already drawn down by £11.5m.
In response to the statement, Greg Poulton, an equity analyst at N+1 Singer wrote:
“The Group has had a strong start to FY21, with both February and March delivering profits well ahead of both budget and the prior year. The current indication is that the Group has delivered around £2.4m of underlying PBT in these months. Management’s expectation is that business will now slow as the pandemic continues to restrict aviation activity globally, though the order book for April is encouraging. We are reassured by today’s update and management has reiterated its confidence that Air Partner is effectively positioned to cope with the challenges and uncertainty posed by COVID-19.”
As well as charter Also also owns a number of consulting businesses including Baines Simmons which runs technical inspections for the Isle of Man Aircraft Registry.
Helicopter operations praised in UK government’s Covid-19 briefing
The role of helicopters in combating Britain’s Covid-19 outbreak was praised by Michael Gove, UK minister for the Cabinet Office, in yesterday’s (March 31st) government briefing on the global coronavirus pandemic.
The minister acknowledged the contribution of helicopter crews from both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy in responding to calls for emergency flights from National Health Service (NHS) Trusts.
“We wanted to extend our gratitude to the military and their efforts to combat the coronavirus,” said the minister. “Three RAF Puma helicopters are now stationed at Kinloss Barracks [in Scotland]. These Pumas are working closely with a Chinook and Wildcat Helicopter based at North Yorkshire to meet requests for assistance from NHS trusts. A second helicopter facility covers the Midlands.” Read more about helicopters battling the Covid-19 crisis here.
Additionally, the minister applauded the efforts of industry consortia in developing masks and ventilators for the NHS. This includes an aviation consortium led by Airbus.
“Orders have been placed by consortia, led by Ford, Airbus, the Formula 1 Racing team, GKN Aerospace and Rolls Royce, and Dyson,” said Gove. “And starting this weekend, the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS for next week.”
UK minister Michael Gove praised military helicopter crews fighting Covid-19.
Covid-19: Europe’s leading airlines have self-help options to survive industry’s cash crunch
Europe’s largest airlines have important self-help options open to them to help stave off the liquidity crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic despite the spectre of mass bankruptcy hanging over the industry and calls for urgent government assistance.
Scope Ratings says the longer-term challenge for surviving airlines is that they will be operating in a much changed and less favourable economic environment than before the crisis: a smaller travel and tourism market with less buoyant growth.
“The Covid-19 crisis is proving a severe test of airline strategy in recent years, with the industry divided between airlines which pursued conservative financial policies, keeping cash on hand as much as possible, and those which favoured returning cash to shareholders through
dividends and share buybacks and/or borrowing to expand fleets aggressively,” says Werner Stäblein, analyst at Scope.“Airlines’ cost structures also vary considerably, particularly when it comes to owning aircraft outright or leasing them” says Azza Chammem, analyst at Scope.
Companies which have preferred to own their own aircraft to maximise operating flexibility – such as easyJet PLC, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Ryanair PLC – are looking relatively resilient as they did during the global financial crisis. These three carriers, together with Air France-KLM SA and British Airways-parent IAG PLC, have a more than 50% share of the European air-travel market.
However, even these carriers’ balance sheets are under intense pressure. The airlines have suspended most, if not all, of their passenger operations. Lufthansa – downgraded to BBB- from BBB (31 March) and under review for a possible further downgrade – has grounded90% of its passenger fleet. Easyjet has grounded its entire fleet.Grounding aircraft enables airlines to lower operating expenses quickly as does putting staff on furlough. Some costs are currently “semi-fixed,” helped by governments’ introduction of short-term working schemes, effectively providing airlines – and other companies – relief from personnel costs.
“Airlines have two other important ways of preserving liquidity,” says Stäblein.
One is active management of liabilities from “unused flight documents”. Flight tickets, ordinarily paid in advance of the flight, may have to be refunded if the booked flight is cancelled. To retain this cash, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, for instance, have offered generous rebooking options and issued rebooking vouchers.
“These measures should not be underestimated: Lufthansa had EUR 4.0bn of liabilities under unused flight documents at the end of 2019 versus total gross financial debt reported of EUR 6.8bn of which EUR 6.1bn were long-term financial obligations,” says Stäblein.
The second is scaling back of plans to modernise or expand fleets of passenger aircraft.
“Airbus and Boeing were set to deliver around 430 aircraft in Europe this year – assuming no extended grounding of the US plane maker’s B737MAX aircraft over safety concerns but it now looks unlikely many of those deliveries will be made,” says Chammem. Lufthansa, for example, plans to “drastically” reduce its EUR 3.0bn capital-spending budget for 2020.
Europe’s leading airlines will survive the crisis, partly through cash-conservation measures like these, but will have to adjust their growth ambitions and day-to-day business to a much less dynamic future business environment.
“The airline industry is a ‘GDP-multiplier’ industry,” says Stäblein. Historically, global air passenger traffic recovered from short-term and long-term shocks, maintaining a long-term growth trend of about 1.5x-2.0x GDP growth. Substantial declines in real cost of air travel, in turn a reflection of the fiercely competitive nature of the industry, have supported this secular growth. “The GDP-effect will very likely work in the opposite direction in a prolonged global economic downturn,” says Stäblein.
“What makes matters worse is the importance of travel and tourism as a key contributor to GDP worldwide,” says Chammem. Travel and tourism contributed about USD 9tr to global GDP in 2019, up from USD 5.8tr in 2007 before the global financial crisis and equivalent to more than 10% of global GDP.
Frost & Sullivan experts present the market impact of COVID19: How to Respond, Reset and Rebound
Santa Clara, Calif. – April 1, 2020 – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy has business leaders in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. Decision-makers in companies and governments are struggling to understand the new challenges and determine what course of action needs to be taken. Frost & Sullivan has mobilised its global resources to help. We are providing our clients with comprehensive scenario-based analyses on the global economy and key markets to help you survive the current crisis, re-evaluate your business strategies, and get back on a trajectory of growth.
Frost & Sullivan invites you to join Mark Simoncelli and Aroop Zutshi, industry and strategy experts, for the Growth Opportunity Briefing “Market Impact of COVID-19—How to Respond, Reset, and Rebound,” on April 9 at 11 a.m. EST. They will address how to rapidly prepare your people, processes, systems, and business plans to effectively face the new hurdles and opportunities presented by the crisis. Additionally, they will advise how to survive and prevail to achieve stability and long-term growth in your business.
For more information and to register for the webinar, please visit: http://frost.ly/41p
Key benefits of attending this webinar:
- Understand the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy.
- Identify what industries are most affected and how that should modify your business strategies.
- Find out the market scenarios you need to be aware of as you start making realistic changes to your strategy.
- Discover the best practices and recommendations for leading through the crisis.
- Identify approaches for resetting and repositioning your business for stability and growth.
- Determine if growth opportunities still exist in the market, what they are, and how your organization can leverage them.
The event will also be recorded and available on demand at http://frost.ly/1ti.