In today’s update, passenger numbers plunge at Heathrow, Aerospace Wales and OAG warn that recovery from pandemic will take “years,” Wizz Air is to shed one fifth of its workforce, while Etihad and Emirates take steps to add more routes to their roster.


Passenger numbers plunge 90 per cent at Heathrow

London Heathrow Airport, traditionally been the busiest airport in Europe, has forecast that passenger demand numbers are set to plunge by more than 90 per cent this month.

The airport has confirmed that passenger numbers were down 52 per cent in March compared with the same period last year as travel restrictions came into force. Many of the journeys made in March were by Britons returning home from abroad.

The airport is now only using one of its two runways, as flights continue for cargo.


Aerospace Wales says industry will take “years” to recover

Aerospace Wales has said the road to recovery for the Welsh aerospace sector back to pre-coronavirus levels was likely to take “years.”

Around 23,000 people are employed within 160 businesses in Wales. John Whalley, of Aerospace Wales, told the BBC: “There will be a recovery but it may be a couple of years to get back to where we were a couple of weeks ago.”

He added that his forecast was based on his experience of the reduction in flights following the SARS pandemic and the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.

“This is steeper and longer but I think air travel will recover,” he said. “Maybe some businesses will go for more video conferencing but overall people will want to travel. The big concern is when we come through this crisis, we reset and restart – what will the world be like?”


Emirates expands flight schedule

Emirates is to add services to Jakarta, Manila, Taipei, Chicago, Tunis, Algiers and Kabul from Thursday (April 16) for citizens of the destination countries who meet entry requirements.

Emirates restarted outbound flights to London Heathrow, four times a week, and thrice weekly to Frankfurt last week. The carrier has also announced the recommencement of operations from Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport.


Etihad adds repatriation flights and additional cargo routes

Etihad has announced the launch of additional “special” flights to Brussels, Dublin, London Heathrow, Tokyo Narita and Zurich between April 14 to 22 which will enable passengers stranded in the UAE to return to their home countries.

The new routes are in addition to flights it is operating to Amsterdam, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta between April 8 to 21. The return sectors will enable the airline to repatriate UAE citizens and bring fresh produce back to Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Cargo has announced five additional routes using Etihad Airways passenger aircraft. The services will use bellyhold capacity on a mix of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft and will fly to Melbourne, Chennai, Kerala, Karachi and Amsterdam. The new routes follow the recent launch of passenger freighter flights to 10 destinations.

OAG says shoots of recovery are at least a month away

Analysis by global travel data provider OAG says with cuts in the global airline industry’s capacity cuts now reaching their lowest point, it will be more than a month before the start of the recovery.

OAG reports that global carriers have removed about 5 million seats of capacity, including a 26 per cent week-over-week capacity reduction by US carriers. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines over the past week.

Cuts this past week are well below the four-week average of about 58 million seats per week reported by OAG, with increasingly little left to cut. Western Europe, the Southwest Pacific and Lower South America all are operating at 90 per cent lower capacity levels than they were in January. The analysis reports 200 airlines which have paused passenger operations altogether, including Turkish Airlines, Air Asia, Ryanair and EasyJet.

Over the next week, airlines likely will continue cuts, reducing available seats to below the 30 million level – compared with nearly 110 million available in January.

OAG analyst John Grant said this will be the point from which capacity begins to recover: “For many airlines, the middle to end of May appears the latest thinking in terms of bringing back some capacity, but the situation remains extremely fluid.”


Wizz Air to shed one fifth of its workforce

Wizz Air has announced around 1,000 redundancies, amounting to the loss of around one fifth of its workforce.

The carrier said the job cuts were needed as it was operating at 3 per cent of pre-coronavirus capacity. The salaries of pilots, cabin crew and office staff will also be cut by 14 per cent on average with the chief executive, board and senior staff taking a 22 per cent cut.