COVID-19 LIVE BLOG: March 26
With one in four people now locked down, business aviation is clearly heading into a downturn.
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A personal letter from the director general of the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authourity
“Dear Clients, Friends and Colleagues,
It is our aim to maintain our high standards of safety oversight of airworthiness and operations, whilst we continue to provide timely regulatory services.
As COVID-19 increasingly becomes a threat, we want to assure you that we are taking all possible precautions to protect both our staff and clients.
We recognise the need to respond effectively to the challenges created by emerging international restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
BCAA obligations and responsibilities continue to apply during this period and as such, we have now established alternative mechanisms to manage the risks presented, by those aspects of our work which cannot be completed as normal.
A strict travel policy for our employees is currently in place. We have cancelled meetings with large gatherings and implemented video and telephone conferencing for all other meetings, again to do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus.
This means that we will not be travelling for routine audits, assessments, training or participation at overseas meetings or conferences. BCAA takes the consequences of this virus and the risks to our community extremely seriously.
Safety is always our number one priority which includes our clients and staff. To do this we are making changes to the way we work, such as working from home for most staff.
We plan to follow our oversight programme as closely as we can, by continuing to access aircraft and organisations where conditions permit and via ‘remote’ audits where restrictions prevent access. These essentially follow the same procedure as for on-site audits except we will ask industry to send us documents, information and evidence of compliance which we will then review and discuss via telephone calls or electronic means. This has worked well for us in the past as a temporary measure and enables oversight and contact with our industry to continue.
Staff well-being and client service remain our priority and accordingly our protocols have an emphasis on efficient remote working. Most of our Inspectors, in Airworthiness and Operations, work remotely on a regular basis and are familiar with the practicalities of working from home.
We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 developments and adhering to guidelines and updates from the Bermuda Government and the World Health Organization. We have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place to address the challenges and unpredictability of the current situation. Our business continuity protocols have been tested to ensure that we can continue to operate as normally as possible with minimal interruption to our client services.”
Atlas Air Service sells Beechcraft King Air C90 GTi to the USA
Despite the global shutdown caused by Covid-19, German aircraft broker Atlas Air Service has sold a pre-owned Beechcraft King Air C90 GTi to an American customer.
The twin turboprop aircraft has a range of 2,334 kms and capactiy of 6-8 passengers. The jet was transferred last week by flying from Germany via Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada to Tampa in USA.
Albinati Aeronautics publishes chairman’s response to coronavirus outbreak
In a post on its LinkedIn page, Albinati Aeronautics posted a statement from its chairman Stefano Albinati on the company’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the statement, Albinati explains that all of the company’s employees follow local government rules on health and hygiene practices and that the firm takes the maximum care in disinfecting its aircraft fleet.
Air Partner answers questions about flying privately during the coronavirus crisis
Private jet charter company Air Partner has created a blog post with answers to the most common questions that come up about chartering an aircraft during the current coronavirus outbreak.
One of the biggest questions that it answers is whether it is safer to fly by private jet during this time.
You can read Air Partner’s answer to that and more, by clicking on this link.
Charter broker Chapman Freeborn sees surge in cargo charter requests
Global charter broker Chapman Freeborn reported a surge in cargo charter requests in the past 48 hours. These were for humanitarian cargo and medical supplies (typically N95 respirators) from China into Europe and Africa.
Chapman Freeborn’s European and African offices are working with their counterparts in China and Singapore to facilitate hundreds of tons of critical aid supplies into affected areas.
China is the world’s largest producer of medical face masks, with over 100 million manufactured per day. Freeborn said this had increased by around 500% since the beginning of the pandemic. These masks are being transported around the world to support the medical response.
Pierre Vanders, Chapman Freeborn cargo director, said: “We are all extremely busy with requests for urgent cargo leaving China. Not only our European and African offices but our offices in North America too.
“The biggest issue that we’re facing is capacity – there is a real shortage. However, we’ve managed to fix a number of immediate flights using cancellations.”
Freeborn’s sister company, Klasjet, recently completed a shipment of 20,000 masks and 240,000 gloves from China to Lithuania, onboard one of its VIP-config B737s.
Jet Aviation posts a video detailing its coronavirus response
In a video posted to Twitter, Jet Aviation talks through the precautions it is taking to protect its employees and aircraft from coronavirus.
In the video, the company says having tracked the coronavirus developments, it activated its emergency and business continuity plans in January so that it could formulate its response in all of the regions that it operates.
You can watch the full video by clicking below.
Learn about the measures Jet Aviation is taking in response to COVID-19 from Matt Feinstein, our Senior Director Quality, EHS & Security. Click to watch video#safetytogether #BizAv #businessaviation #aviation pic.twitter.com/mUvfDor0cS
— Jet Aviation (@jetaviation) March 26, 2020
Meridian has a two-layer approach to killing germs on serviced aircraft
Over on Twitter Meridian, the FBO company said that is taking a two-layer approach to killing germs on aircraft that it is servicing.
After thoroughly disinfecting the aircraft cabin, the Meridian team then apply a microbial barrier treatment.
Our in-house detailing team helps to protect travelers with a two-layered approach on serviced aircraft; the first is a full disinfection of cabin interiors, and the second is a microbial barrier treatment.
Take that germs! 😲#WeAreOpen #DetailingRocks #GermKill #WeGotThis pic.twitter.com/2aygntJdzU
— Meridian (@Meridian_Aero) March 26, 2020
Isle of Man closes borders to “Protect lives”
The Isle of Man will close its borders on Thursday (March 29th) evening, in a bid to “preserve life” on the British islands.
According to recent statistics, approximately 85,000 people live on the Island.
Despite its small size and being part of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man’s aircraft registry is one of the most popular business aircraft registries in the world, with almost 250 private jets currently on the register.
50% of Embraer’s employees in Brazil working remotely
Earlier this week, Embraer said that all of its Brazil-based employees, who could not work remotely, would be placed on paid leave until March 31st.
Of its 16,000 employees in Brazil, approximately 50% are working remotely. Only essential activities continue to be carried out at the company’s units across the country, the manufacturer said.
Embraer manufactures the fuselages for most of its executive jets in Brazil, then sends them to Melbourne Florida for completion. Outside Brazil, Embraer has approximately 2,500 employees at its units in the United States, Europe and Asia and has been conducting operations as directed by local authorities.
The company said its priority was the health and safety of its employees and will make further decisions to protect employees and reduce the impact on business.
“Aviation activity at near standstill as Europe becomes virus epicentre” says WINGX
Germany-based business aviation consultancy WINGX Advance says that now that Europe is the coronavirus epicentre, aviation activity is almost at a standstill.
“In the first week of this month, as the virus diffused across Europe, business aviation activity increased in several countries, reflecting the increasingly urgent demand for rescue and repatriation,” said Richard Koe, MD, WINGX Advance. “With Europe becoming the epicentre of the pandemic in the last 10 days, government suppression policies have eroded that demand more severely. So far this week, business aviation is operating at about 50% of normal frequency, which may indicate an ongoing resilience. This could be essential, with airline capacity shutting down and scheduled flights down by almost 80%.”
EBAA partners with Osprey for flight risk analysis
The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has joined forces with Osprey Flight Solutions to provide operators with real-time risk assessments for flights during the coronavirus outbreak.
As well as country-specific details on current coronavirus infection rates and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) operators will also be able to get up to date details on travel restrictions in each country.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the EBAA team has been working hard to provide a constant flow of updated operational information and safety guidance to our members,” said Robert Baltus, COO, EBAA.“We’re delighted to team up with Osprey Flight Solutions to enhance EBAA’s support capabilities and ensure that the business aviation sector can operate with the most up-to-date intelligence available in this crisis”.
You can click here to read the full release.
NBAA Welcomes Legislation Providing Covid-19 Relief
“The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed Senate passage of a $2 trillion stimulus bill that would grant relief to the nation’s aviation industry, including general aviation (GA), as it grapples with the staggering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by the Senate today; the House is expected to likewise approve the legislation, with the President’s signature to follow shortly thereafter.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen pointed to several provisions in the bill that will benefit the GA community, including business aviation. These include additional relief for airports through a $10 billion increase to Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding, with $100 million specially allocated to general aviation airports, in recognition of their critical importance to communities, particularly in times of crisis.
The bill also contains relief from the 7.5% air transportation federal excise tax for general aviation commercial operations, including FAR Part 135 flights, and suspension of the commercial fuel tax until Jan. 1, 2021. NBAA successfully worked to have these measures extended to all GA operators that pay such taxes.
In addition, the CARES Act provides loans and grants to passenger and cargo air carriers, including general aviation commercial operators, such as FAR Part 135 charter providers. For these commercial passenger operators and FAR Part 145 repair stations, $25 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees are available. An additional $25 billion in grants are available to these entities for the continuation of wage payments to workers. NBAA led a general aviation industry letter to lawmakers to ensure that general aviation commercial operators were eligible for these programs. Read NBAA’s letter in its entirety.
Additional loan programs for small and mid-size businesses are also made available under the measure, and while they are not specific to aviation, they may offer further assistance to the thousands of small and midsize aviation businesses in the industry.
“On balance, this bill is helpful for general aviation,” Bolen said. “The industry clearly made its voice heard in ensuring that the important provisions for general aviation airports, general aviation commercial operators and other small businesses were considered as this legislation was assembled, and we look forward to the bill’s passage into law.”
Magellan Jets’ CEO establishes Covid-19 task force
Private aviation company Magellan Jets has established a Covid-19 task force to focus on customer safety, as the Covid-19 virus continues to spread throughout North America.
Magellan Jets’ CEO, Joshua Hebert said in a communication to clients: “The safety, security and health of our clients is of the utmost importance to us. Magellan Jets has established a Covid-19 task force focused on the safety of customers 24/7. We are actively communicating with our operators to maintain top levels of safety and security for you and your loved ones.”
The Covid-19 threat shows how useful private planes can be when commercial aviation options are reduced or eliminated in response to emergencies, added Herbet. In fact, the global threat of the coronavirus’ spread could be regarded as “a catalyst” for the rise in demand for private aviation options and short-notice, on-demand charter. “Being on the front line, we’re seeing greater demand due to the inability of commercial airlines to deliver safety and service, culminating in a jump to private aviation.”
‘Being on the front line’
The Magellan Jets’ CEO said some businesses, which traditionally flew their executives on first-class on airlines, are now finding it safer and more economical to fly the same group of people on private aircraft.
Last week the company arranged several complex trips from the UK to the northeast of the US. “We anticipate that transcontinental requests such as this will continue to rise,” said Herbet. “Additionally, since commercial airlines are suspending their routes and operations, we are inevitably going to see a spike in requests for northeast to southeast travel, which has historically been one of our most popular routes.”
‘A spike in requests’
Magellan Jets, which is based in Quincy Massachusetts, is promoting domestic travel and providing clients with alternative spring break and summer destinations. Holiday destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to be popular destinations over the next few months alongside domestic travel. Read more about the company’s communication to clients here.
Meanwhile, the US Senate recently passed a $2trn (£1.7trn) Covid-19 disaster aid bill; representing the biggest economic boost in US history.
The US death toll from Covid-19 is estimated at about 1,000 people and there have been nearly 70,000 confirmed infections. Worldwide more than 21,000 people are estimated to have died from the virus.
Magellan Jets predicts US clients will prefer holiday destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean along domestic travel over the next few months.
Sino Jet donates medical equipment to hubei province
Hong Kong-based charter and management specialist Sino Jet said in a LinkedIn post that it has donated medical equipment to China’s Hubei province.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting everyone around the world. In an on-going effort, we at Sino Jet 華龍航空 are finding and actioning solutions to support communities in need.
This week Sino Jet has donated “Multifunction Mobile Medical Station” to the government of Hubei province. The self-contained units are capable of being deployed anywhere and serve as an emergency medical centre and quarantine ward to support those with urgent medical needs but unable to access medical resources.”
You can read the full LinkedIn post by clicking here.
Chinese students escaping the US on private jets
An article on Singapore-based news website The Straits Times, says that well off Chinese students studying in the US are scrambling to leave the country by private jets.
According to the article, some students have paid up to $23,000 for a seat on a Bombardier Global 6000 from Los Angeles to Shanghai.
You can read the full article by clicking here.
You can contact any of our journalists by clicking the initials at the end of each story. Alternatively, please use any of the links below:
AB – Alex Baldwin – [email protected]
AD – Alud Davies – [email protected]
AW – Alasdair Whyte – [email protected]
MS – Mike Stones – [email protected]
YK – Yuvan Kumar – [email protected]
YM – Yves Le Marquand – [email protected]