American chief executive Parker welcomes CARES act

In a video shared with team members, American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker discusses how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act is expected to shape the response to Covid-19.

The US$2 trillion package is currently being prepared by congress, and is expected to include up to US$65 billion in relief for airlines.

Find out more below:

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Redundancies at Virgin Voyages following launch delay

Virgin Voyages has begun laying off staff following the postponement of its first sailing.

Scarlet Lady, the first vessel from the brand, was expected to launch on April 1st.

However, this has now been delated until August 7th at the earliest in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the delay, Virgin Voyages has been forced to make a number of redundancies.

A statement explained: “When Virgin Voyages was founded nearly seven years ago, we never dreamed the world and our industry would be facing the type of challenges we all are today.

“These are especially hard times for hospitality and travel.

“We have strong stakeholders who are completely behind us and supportive of Virgin Voyages, but there is a need to make some tough decisions in the interim.”

The statement added: “Our goal right now is to take care of our crew as much as we’re able to despite the global challenges, as Virgin has always been a people-first brand.

“Until we set sail, we wish health and wellbeing to all and we look forward to when we can travel together again.”

The news comes despite assurances from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson that layoffs would be avoided wherever possible.

Commenting on the delayed launch, Branson added: “We want to assure you that we have absolutely no health issues aboard our ship and have elevated protocols in place as we continue to put your well-being first.

“This is a once in a lifetime launch and a once in a lifetime customer experience, and we will do it together when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves.

“To expand on our commitment to fostering the best environment for our Sailors, Virgin Voyages is working with relevant parties to research new technologies that will help to expedite health screenings and make people feel safe.

“Developments are ongoing, and the hope is to identify this opportunity over the course of the next month.”

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Singapore Airlines to ground all but nine planes

Singapore Airlines will cut capacity by 96 per cent until the end of April.

The decision comes following the further tightening of border controls around the world to stem the Covid-19 outbreak.

This will result in the grounding of around 138 Singapore Airlines and SilkAir aircraft, out of a total fleet of 147.

The company described the situation as “the greatest challenge that the Singapore Airlines Group has faced in its existence”.

The group’s low-cost unit, Scoot, will also suspend most of its network, resulting in the grounding of 47 of its fleet of 49 aircraft.

The group diversified its network and set up Scoot to spread its risks and cater to a wide range of passenger and market segments.

However, without a domestic segment, the group’s airlines become more vulnerable when international markets increasingly restrict the free movement of people or ban air travel altogether.

Singapore Airlines said it was is unclear when the it would be able to begin to resume normal services, given the uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted.

The company added it was actively taking steps to build up its liquidity, and to reduce capital expenditure and operating costs.

These include potential deferred payments for planes, while salary cuts have also been agreed for management and directors.

Given the worsening situation, Singapore Airlines added unions have been engaged on the additional cost-cutting measures that are needed warned steps “will be taken imminently”.

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Etihad Airways to ground all flights from midnight

Etihad Airways will temporarily suspend all flights to, from, and via Abu Dhabi following a decision by the national emergency crisis and disaster management authority.

The decision has been made in an attempt to limit the spread of the Covid-19.

The suspension of flights to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport will commence at midnight.

It will last for an initial 14 days, subject to further directives by the relevant authorities.

Cargo and emergency evacuation flights are exempt and will continue.

Tony Douglas, group chief executive, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “These are unprecedented times and unprecedented decisions are being made by governments, authorities and companies, including Etihad, to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to help minimise its effects around the world.

“As the national airline, we stand in full support of the UAE government’s decision, and are confident that we’re well prepared to weather the commercial and operational impact this suspension will have on our services.”

Douglas earlier sought to reassure passengers Etihad would be able to ensure the crisis.

The airline said it would announce the resumption of services through its usual channels once restrictions are lifted.

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