This year, the airline industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a tough year in aviation and many things have changed. One particularly interesting change that has occurred this year is the change in the food service of airlines. Food has been a key part of the flying experience, and this article will explore the ways the novel coronavirus has impacted this experience.
On short-haul flights, most airlines are continuing their normal service with prepackaged snacks and beverages, if they were offered in the first place. Budget airlines continue to require money for these options, but some airlines may not even offer food options on these short-haul flights. Beverage options are more limited than pre-pandemic services, and instead of receiving a cup with a poured beverage, passengers receive the entire can or bottle. Some airlines may not even offer any beverage options and only have water available.
On medium-haul flights, airlines are providing a similar service to short-haul flights with snacks and a beverage. However, passengers on medium haul flights may receive more rounds of snacks than short-haul flights. This service is pretty standard for medium-haul flights, but it does come with the same restrictions listed above in short-haul flights. For safety reasons, many airline snack services now come in a plastic bag, containing the food item, napkins, and some form of a disinfectant such as hand sanitizer. This type of snack bag is what generally comes with airline food services during this pandemic.
For long-haul flights, almost all airlines have removed hot meal services, or made them exclusive to premium passengers in business or first class. Most meal services for main cabin passengers in long-haul flights have unfortunately been replaced with cold meals or standard snacks and beverages, similar to those in medium and short haul flights. However, snack services on long-haul flights are usually more deluxe and have more varied options than those on short and medium haul flights. Beverage options are also more various on long-haul flights. On several airlines, even first class and premium passengers may receive snacks for food service, but with more amount and value. For first class and other premium passengers who are travelling with an airline that provides hot meals, the food they receive is not as glamorous as it used to be, and the options are fairly limited. Among airline food services amid this pandemic, hot meals should be considered a luxury service.
Overall, COVID-19 has greatly downgraded the value of airline food services during this pandemic, but in the end, it is reasonable for airlines to implement these food changes since unsanitary eating methods can increase the spread of the virus. Changes to food services should be taken seriously since they are for the safety of passengers. Some airlines are even choosing to not provide any food services on their flights for this reason. As the risk of the pandemic decreases, some airlines are already starting to resume their original services, and hopefully, in the near future, passengers can experience a full recovery of the food service of airline industries.
Stawski, B. (2020, October 29). Here’s what food and drinks the major U.S. airlines are currently serving. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://thepointsguy.com/news/inflight-service-resuming/
Jelisa Castrodale May 20, & Castrodale, J. (2020, May 20). How Airline Food Is Changing During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.foodandwine.com/news/airline-food-safety-measures-coronavirus
- Cover Image is credited to Singapore Airlines
Cathay Pacific Chair and CEO report results from 2022, and expected recovery levels for this year
In a press conference attended by Aviation for Aviators, Top executives at Cathay pacific reported on the company’s growth and recovery during the year before answering questions from the media. In the opening statement provided by the company’s chair, Patrick Healy, he talked about the recovery levels expected from the airline in the year, and the profits from the previous year.
The Company’s results
When talking about the year of 2022, Patrick Healy said “Our airlines and subsidiaries reported an attributable profit of 2.3 Billion dollars in the second half of 2022.” This indicates recovery at the airline, as this is reportedly the first time the company has made a profit since 2019. This matches many other airlines in the time period, as the industry begins to take back the areas which it has lost due to the pandemic. When talking about profits at Cathay Pacific, this not only includes the main area of the airline, but also their Cargo and Low cost airlines and firms as well. The Pandemic was particularly damaging to many of the airlines in East Asia, as China’s COVID regulations were harsh, and in some areas, are still being lifted. This is important because in most cases, China has the largest group of tourists travelling with east Asian airlines, and so for them to have harsh regulations would drastically decrease passenger numbers.
In terms of recovery this year, Healy Stated “By the end of March, as a group, we will be operating approximately 50% pre-pandemic flight capacity”, a figure which some might view to be low compared to others. However, when talking about recovery in terms of destinations, Healy said that they would be “Serving more than 70 destinations.” The Chair then continued to say that these numbers should be increasing by the end of the year. However these are still not close enough to the levels they were before the pandemic, as would be expected with most airlines.
How is Cathay Pacific ensuring that their fleet is as environmentally friendly as possible?
In answer to a question about the environment asked by Aviation for Aviators, Cathay Pacific’s CEO, Ronald Lam, Said: “Being a leader in sustainability is a very important part of our strategy moving forwards, and in fact we have announced our commitment for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; as well as usage of 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030. We have been making plans and implementing actions to make this happen. So, for example, last year, we launched the first ever corporate sustainable aviation fuel program in Asia which is joined by a number of partners from different sectors. We are very encouraged by their participation. We have also signed up with a number of different parties sourcing for SAF for the future. We have an investment in a company called Fulcrum in the US in which they have offered to supply us with a good quality of sustainable aviation fuel for the future. And also we have signed up another company called Amadeus with uptake of SAF in the future. So we are working to us building more SAF supply to reach our 2030 target in the coming years. So that’s one main area, working on the SAF. Another Area, We will continue to upgrade our aircraft to new generation aircraft. From this year onward, we still have 48 firm aircraft orders that will be delivered. And each of those aircraft will provide up to 15-20% fuel efficiency and therefore lower carbon emissions compared to their counterparts in the older generation. So those are the two main focuses that we have on sustainability. “
In Simple terms, Cathay Pacific is making a commitment to the environment, in particular with the use of Sustainable Aviation fuel, that is, fuel which emits no negative impact on the environment. They also are trying to keep their fleet modern and efficient, to ensure that the least amount of damage is made.
In Conclusion, Cathay Pacific are making significant advancements in the way that they are recovering from the Pandemic and the damage which it has caused to the aviation industry. In terms of recovery, whilst progress may be slow, this is something expected of the airline as many others are going through similar things at the same time. With regards to environmental impact, Cathay Pacific is making commitments to make its aviation cleaner, with a new fleet and sustainable aviation fuel developments on the way.
Please Note: All information was taken from Cathay Pacific’s March 8th 2023 Press conference.
Cover Image credit: NPR
Why flying empty makes sense at the moment
With the current spreading Omicron variant, many airlines have announced a reduced network for the upcoming weeks. Instead of slow growth, we see yet another fallback and the recovery of the industry seems still far away. In these times it seems logical to avoid any unnecessary costs, yet still Lufthansa (despite cancelling 33’000 flights in January and February) will fly more than 18000 flights empty. These flights are not for maintenance reasons, nor for aircraft positioning, nor for pilot training reasons or full with cargo. The reason lies within an absurd rule of the European Union regarding airport slots.
What are airport slots?
In simple words: An airport slot is a time window when an airline is allowed to land and depart at any airport. As airport capacities (before COVID19) were limited, also the number of slots per time window was limited and the slots were a crucial instrument for any airline. Slots were seeing a high demand and good slots were difficult to get, as the “old” airlines had priority (“grandfather rights”), when the slots were distributed twice a year at an IATA conference. Any airline was keeping their slots unless they did not want them anymore. The only criteria were that they had used the slot in 80% or more in the last period.
How is it now?
When COVID19 started to affect our globe, it was clear that this 80% rule will not be met by any airline, as the industry collapsed. As an exemption, this criteria was not active and airlines could reapply for their slots, even though they had not used them a lot (slot waiver rule). This was done for the schedules of summer 2020 and winter 2020/2021. For the winter of 2021/2022, the European Union has once more reduced the value by 80%. This time 50% of all flights have to be operated to qualify for the grandfather rights. With the current situation, these flights could not be operated as demand is too low. To keep the rights for the slots, airlines now will fly empty to just use their slots at different airports.
The slots are a crucial way to harmonize the global aviation network. It is of utmost importance that they are handled with a global view to match all needs. However; in a situation such as the pandemic we are in, criteria must be changed to not put the additional (unnecessary) cost to the airlines – not to forget the environmental aspect of these flights.
- https://www.reisereporter.de/artikel/12071-fliegen-trotz-corona-schuetzen-schleier-aus-luft-passagiere-kuenftig (Cover Image)
Thousands of pilots were forced into quarantine in Hong Kong
Over the past 2 months, hundreds of pilots have been forced into three-week long quarantine periods in Hong Kong’s Penny’s Bay facility. The rooms consisted of converted shipping containers and people staying there were allowed no outdoor time. Pilots in the quarantine have come from a variety of airlines, like British Airways and Cathay Pacific.
A huge number of Cathay Pacific staff was forced into three-week quarantine after coming into contact with a COVID carrier in Frankfurt, Germany. Even though the crew’s PCR tests were negative, they were considered “potential close contacts”. The rooms were simple, with a bed and a bathroom, not much else. Hong Kong has imposed a strict testing and isolation regime to keep on track with China’s policies, but this is causing many pilots to isolate themselves when returning from abroad.
The spread of the new Omicron variant is causing travel to be restricted a lot, and more and more pilots and crew are having to isolate. When pilots and crew first arrive in Hong Kong, they do a PCR test and wait for it. Those who are negative are told to isolate themselves at home. They are then told to “avoid unnecessary contact” for a further 18 days. If pilots test positive or are marked as close contacts, they are sent to the facility for 21 days. Family members are often sent to quarantine too.
Air crew flying into Hong Kong also have to follow these rules, with crews from airlines such as KLM and British airways having to isolate. Luckily, a group of Hong Kong citizens has come to the rescue, providing supplies to people undergoing quarantine. These supplies often include food, as the food in Penny’s Bay is almost like something you might find in economy class on an airplane. This food is estimated to cost around 30 HK$, equivalent to £3 in the UK.
Many pilots have been released before the end of their proposed quarantine, but that doesn’t mean that all have gone. People continue to be sent to Penny’s Bay and other facilities around Honk Kong, even though the city remains with very few coronavirus cases. For now, all we can say is that one of the largest aviation hubs is likely to stop having crews fly there in many cases.
- @flywitheva on Instagram
- bloomberg.com (Cover Image)
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