|From: TimF||3/21/2022 12:46:05 PM|
|‘Grand Theft Aero’: Russia’s $10bn plane grab signals losses for lessors|
Lengthy battle with insurers looms after Moscow signs law allowing jets owned by leasing groups to be re-registered
Three days after the invasion of Ukraine, a Boeing 737 — operated by Russia’s Pobeda but owned by Dublin-based Avolon — was impounded after landing in Istanbul.
The plane’s seizure came as European sanctions on Russia’s aviation sector prompted a global scramble among overseas leasing groups to recover more than 500 aircraft, worth an estimated $10bn, that were stuck in the country.
But it was among the last to be repossessed, after the Kremlin moved to block such efforts last week by signing a new law allowing foreign jets to be re-registered in Russia.
“The Russian government is playing a game of what I call ‘Grand Theft Aero’,” said Paul Jebely, global head of asset finance at law firm Withers.
Russia’s actions could force the world’s largest leasing companies to write off billions of dollars worth of assets, raising the prospect of lengthy battles with insurers over who should foot the bill.
Rating agencies have warned that the lost income from the leases has increased risks to bondholders in deals backed by the aircraft.
Moscow has flouted decades-old international treaties that provided security to lessors operating in more risky jurisdictions and helped underpin a boom in international travel.
“This is the worst-case scenario, where a country unilaterally takes control of an aircraft’s register,” said Phil Seymour, president of aviation consultancy IBA. “It has never really been contemplated. There will be repercussions in terms of aircraft lease agreements.”
Some industry executives have insisted that it was too early to write off the chances of these planes flying internationally again. Others, however, believe the chances are slim.
“From a planning perspective, we should assume that those aeroplanes are gone for all intents and purposes,” one executive said.
Dublin: the world’s aircraft leasing capitalThe crisis has sent shockwaves through the aviation finance industry of Ireland, which is home to 14 of the world’s top 15 lessors, including market leader AerCap.
Irish lessors manage more than €100bn in assets, 22 per cent of global aircraft and more than 40 per cent of those that are leased, according to IDA Ireland, the country’s investment promotion agency...
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: TimF who wrote (1704)||3/21/2022 2:12:55 PM|
|From: Art Bechhoefer|
|One possibly effective solution to this "Grand Theft Aero" is to deny landing rights to any Russian registered aircraft attempting to land outside Russia. Russian owned or leased aircraft already are limited in purchasing spare parts. So much for Aeroflot and any other similar state financed airlines.|
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Glenn Petersen||3/24/2022 2:09:38 AM|
|Airlines ask Biden to drop mask mandate and testing requirements for travelers|
BY KRIS VAN CLEAVE
MARCH 23, 2022 / 7:15 PM / CBS NEWS
The CEOs of the nation's largest airlines are asking the Biden administration to drop the federal mask mandate on airplanes, along with the pre-departure testing requirement for international travelers. Although COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have fallen sharply in the last two months and restrictions are being lifted across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month extended its mass transit mask mandate by 30 days, until mid-April, and masking guidelines for airlines remain in place.
"Now is the time for the administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment," the CEOs of 10 U.S.-based passenger and cargo airlines, including Delta, American and United, wrote in a letter to President Biden.
The letter states that while the airlines and their employees supported the federal mask mandate when it was first implemented, especially because it did away with the possibility for airline-by-airline rules in the early days of the pandemic, they now feel it is no longer necessary.
"The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19," the letter states. "Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that 'COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.'"
While initially popular with employees, over the past two years flight attendants and gate agents in particular have taken the brunt of flyer frustration over the masking rules. Despite fewer flyers than pre-pandemic levels, cases of disruptive passengers have soared over the last two years. Airlines last year banned thousands of passengers due to unruly behavior.
"It is critical to recognize that the burden of enforcing both the mask and predeparture testing requirements has fallen on our employees for two years now," the letter read. "This is not a function they are trained to perform and subjects them to daily challenges by frustrated customers. This in turn takes a toll on their own well-being."
Citing the planes' onboard air filtration systems as well as the nation's high level of immunity thanks to vaccines and prior infection and the CDC's most recent guidance indicating that 99% of the U.S. population live in areas of low or medium transmission and therefor no longer needs to wear masks indoors, the carriers argue it is time to wind down masking rules for them as well.
The letter noted that masks could also still be worn voluntarily, even if the mandate is removed. "The effectiveness and availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to wear them gives passengers the ability to further protect themselves if they choose to do so," the letter read.
Delta Air Lines, in its own separate statement, also stressed that passengers would not be barred from wearing face masks. "N95 and KN95 masks that were previously unavailable are now widely available for personal protection as are vaccinations and other medical advancements for those who choose them," the carrier wrote.
The carriers also ask Mr. Biden to lift the pre-departure testing for international travelers. They argue such measures are ineffective, citing The World Health Organization, which determined in January that "the failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time." WHO did note, however, that preventative measures such as masking and testing "should be based on risk assessments."
"The United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada have recognized this reality and lifted travel restrictions," the letter states. "The U.S. inconsistency with these practices creates a competitive disadvantage for U.S. travel and tourism by placing an additional cost and burden on travel to the U.S. Further, many outbound travelers are not willing to risk being stranded overseas."
Following a massive surge fueled by the Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are at their lowest since last summer. Meanwhile, cases in the U.K. are rising again as restrictions are lifted and the Omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads. But the case numbers are nowhere near their Omicron peak, and former FDA commissioner and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told " Face the Nation" on Sunday that there is evidence the U.K. has already seen the peak of BA.2 infections.
"I think we're going to continue to see low levels of infection through the summer," Gottlieb predicted. "But before we get there, we're probably going to see some tick-up of infection like the Europeans are seeing right now, maybe not as pronounced."
Airlines ask Biden to drop mask mandate and testing requirements for travelers - CBS News
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Sam||3/25/2022 11:27:17 PM|
|Corporate travel: The return of the road-warrior|
|The Economist March 25, 2022 08:00:00 PM ET|
The business trip is back. Business travel as you knew it is not
SHARP ATTIRE and a purposeful stride. The left-hand turn on the plane away from the cheap seats. Skipping the in-flight film to refine a presentation. Over the past two pandemic years these obvious giveaways of the globetrotting executive became a rare sight. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a trade body, worldwide spending on flights, hotels, car hire, restaurants and other expensable services fell from $1.4trn in 2019 to $660bn in 2020 as a result of covid-19 lockdowns and tough limits on cross-border movement.
Despite fresh disruptions, from coronavirus outbreaks and a tragic plane crash in China to Russia's war in Ukraine, many places are relaxing travel restrictions. America and Europe are mostly open for business. On March 21stHong Kong said it would admit vaccinated arrivals from nine countries, including America and Britain, from April 1st and relax onerous hotel-quarantine requirements. Business travellers are once again visible at airports, on aeroplanes and in hotels. The GBTA expects corporate travel to rebound sharply this year and return to its pre-pandemic peak by 2024 (see chart 1).
That is a relief to full-service airlines, which counted on business travellers for 30% of revenues and a higher proportion of profits, and big global hotel chains, which earned two-thirds of their sales from executive guests. For corporate road-warriors the news is more mixed. Remaining covid-19 measures, readjusted travel budgets, changing work patterns, heightened risk awareness by companies and individuals: all are changing business travel in profound ways. Some of the changes will make travelling for work a more pleasant experience. Others will not.
Throwing your laptop, mini-toiletries and clothes into a wheelie bag used to be a pretty universal corporate ritual. Henceforth whether or not you do will depend more on whom you work for, your role, where you are going and the purpose of your trip. Scott Davies, boss of the Institute of Travel Management, another industry body, explains that overall travel budgets used to be set annually, often against broad commercial objectives. As they are rebuilt after the covid lull, he expects many trips to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Many marginal jaunts won't clear the hurdle (see chart 2), especially as companies get serious about reducing their carbon footprints, which swell with every air mile.
Some trips will be quick to return. Indeed, even at the height of the pandemic essential business travel continued; managing and maintaining remote oil wells, large infrastructure or factories far from the head office is impossible over the internet. The share of travel spending by manufacturing, utilities or construction firms edged up from 48% in 2019 to 51% in 2020, according to the GBTA. Companies for which face-to-face client meetings are desirable to maintain relationships and vital to drum up new business, such as finance and professional-services firms, have been swift to get workers back on the road. Anecdotal evidence suggests that as soon as one company heard that a competitor was out pressing the flesh (or at least bumping fists) it followed suit.
If you do pack that suitcase, your destination is likelier to be domestic. As with leisure travel, long-haul trips for work are recovering more slowly. A poll of over 450 companies by the GBTA in February found that two in three had restarted domestic trips but fewer than one in three had done so for cross-border journeys.
Domestic trips in America, which accounted for nine in ten American corporate excursions in 2019, according to Bernstein, a broker, will increasingly go ahead. So will short-haul hops between European cities, which in 2018 made up two-thirds of EU business trips. Until the latest covid flare-ups the same looked true for flying in China, where business-travel spending fell by far less than the global average in 2020 and was recently forecast to grow by double the global average in 2021 (though Chinese borders remain impregnable to most outsiders).
Your fellow passengers will disproportionately work for smaller companies. American Airlines reckons that travellers from smaller firms are back to 80% of their pre-covid numbers. The comparable figure for big firms is 40%. One reason is that small businesses mostly send people on those popular domestic routes. Another is that they may be a bit more relaxed about their workers' wellbeing. Vik Krishnan of McKinsey, a consultancy, says that the pandemic has prompted travel managers at big companies to feel a heightened sense of their duty of care to employees.
Fight for flight
Getting a trip approved is, then, getting harder than before. A recent survey of 170 North American corporate-travel managers by Morgan Stanley, a bank, shows that budgets in 2022 are expected to be 31% below the level of 2019. In the short run approval may get harder still. On March 15thEd Bastian, chief executive of Delta Air Lines, told the Financial Times that the war-induced spike in the oil price "will no question" raise ticket prices on both domestic and international routes. Other airline bosses doubtless have similar designs.
Even if your supervisor signs off on your trip, you will find it harder to plan. The world's airlines are running at around two-thirds of their pre-covid capacity. That means less choice on times and fewer direct flights, notes Richard Clarke of Bernstein. The problem is not confined to flying. The scrapping of the 5.40am Eurostar train from London to Paris forces executives to arrive the night before in order to strike that morning deal over a croissant and café au lait.
Once on the road, the experience isn't what it used to be, either. With many executive lounges yet to reopen, the weary manager must seek refuge at a noisy restaurant--or worse, since plenty of eateries, too, remain shut, on a bench in the concourse within earshot of a disaffected infant. At many airports you will also still need to wear a mask. Although London'sHeathrow and a few other airports have lifted mask requirements, America's federal mask mandate has been extended until at least April 18th. In the past year the Transportation Security Administration has fined nearly 1,000 unmasked travellers, so you ignore the rule at your peril (and good luck expensing that fine).
On board the plane you may find yourself in economy class more often, and not merely because of the rising air fares. Some climate-conscious airlines are already reconfiguring planes with fewer business-class seats (whose emissions per occupant are three times those of an economy seat). CEOs of large companies will be sad to hear that first-class seats, which are even dirtier, may disappear for good.
In the air, expect to be served by cabin crew draped in personal protective equipment (especially in Asia, which remains more concerned than the West about hygiene). You, too, must keep your mask on, unless you are consuming food or drink (of the non-alcoholic variety on American Airlines, which will only restart in-flight booze sales in mid-April). At least hot meals are back; as recently as last month even first-class passengers on American and Delta had to do without such sustenance on domestic flights.
Over the longer term, the news for the itinerant executive isn't all bad. The introduction of touchless technology and online check-in for flights and hotels should speed up travel a little (at least once pandemic paperwork such as passenger-locator forms and vaccine certificates no longer needs verifying). With many planes sitting idly on the tarmac as a result of covid-related cancellations, some airlines used the opportunity to spruce them up. Australia'sQantas has, for example, modernised its fleet of A380 superjumbos by installing comfier seats for premium passengers. Singapore Airlines has updated the cabins on some of its short-haul fleet.
The few who get to hitch a ride on a corporate jet are also becoming a bit less select. Business-jet traffic has recovered much more swiftly than commercial aviation. According to WINGX, a consultancy, January was the busiest month ever, with the number of flights 15% higher than in January 2019. In a survey by Morgan Stanley, 11% of respondents said their firms would be more liberal with the use of business jets in 2022 than they were in 2021.
Chronic jet-lag may become a thing of the past. With long-haul travel still constricted, firms are reportedly opting to send executives on fewer trips that stretch to more days. Unseemly displays of corporate machismo, such as flying half way across the world for one short meeting, may never return, no doubt pleasing everyone concerned.
And many of those longer trips are combining work and play. Morgan Stanley sees evidence at American hotel chains that Thursdays and Sundays are becoming more popular with guests, suggesting that some workers may be moving trips towards the start of the week or its end, to blend work with pleasure. Such trips have become common enough to earn an ugly moniker, "bleisure". Danny Finkel of Trip Actions, a firm which helps others manage business travel, says this could appeal to those who approve expenses, too: weekend flights are often much cheaper, offsetting the cost of extra nights at a hotel.
Perhaps the best news for the bedraggled business traveller is that some trips simply won't happen. Jarrod Castle of UBS, a bank, notes that 40% of business trips are to meet clients and another 40% involve internal meetings. Conferences, exhibitions and the like make up the rest. He reckons that perhaps half of the intra-company jaunts, especially for training or get-togethers between non- C-suite executives, are expendable. That means a fifth fewer trips overall. No grumbling there.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Sam||4/5/2022 7:50:35 PM|
|I did not expect this! JetBlue puts in a competing bid for Spirit!|
JetBlue Airways is competing with Frontier Group Holdings to buy ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines, making an unsolicited all-cash bid of $33 per share, or $3.6 billion.
Frontier announced plans in February to buy Spirit for $2.9 billion in cash and stock, and become the nation's fifth-largest airline.
JetBlue said its offer is better for Spirit investors, coming in 37% higher than the value of Frontier's proposal. But Frontiers' proposal would let Spirit's shareholders keep a 48.5% stake in the merged carrier. Spirit said its board would weigh JetBlue's offer.
Frontier Chairman William Franke, who helped transform both Spirit and Frontier into ultra-discount carriers, has spent years hoping to merge them. Spirit and Frontier, known for rock-bottom fares, have said merging would bring low- cost flights to underserved markets in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.
A Frontier spokesperson told Barron's that its deal would deliver "$1 billion in annual savings for consumers and offer even more ultra-low fares to more places nationwide, creating America's most competitive ultra-low fare airline."
The Justice Department last year sued to block JetBlue's partnership with American Airlines, saying it would reduce competition, limit options for customers, and lead to higher fares. Frontier on Tuesday pointed to JetBlue's " significant" East Coast overlap with Spirit.
Any merger would be scrutinized by regulators, who have increased their antitrust enforcement. Some Democratic lawmakers have argued against a Spirit-Frontier merger to antitrust and transportation officials, saying it would hurt consumers by reducing competition.
Write to Janet H. Cho at email@example.com
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Sam||4/13/2022 5:24:33 PM|
|Helped by Delta earnings, airline ETF JETS flies 5%|
Apr. 13, 2022 3:46 PM ET ETF Series Solutions - U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS) DAL, AAL, LUV By: Jason Capul, SA News
Airline-focused exchange traded fund U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSEARCA: JETS) went wheels up on Wednesday, with the investment vehicle jumping 5.3% by the final hour of trading. The advance came as the ETF's third-largest holding Delta ( DAL) +6.3% reported strong quarterly numbers.
Meanwhile, management said the airline had the highest bookings ever over a five-week period. Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Yahoo Finance: "Over the last five weeks we’ve experienced the highest level of sales and booking activity at any time in our history." Bastian added, “I think it’s going to be a very strong summer travel period for us going forward."
JETS, with its $3.31B assets under management, also got a jolt from another top-holding American Airlines Group ( AAL), which gained 10.3%. At the same time, Southwest Airlines ( LUV) rose 7.4%.
From a weighting stance, JETS holds a 10.59% position in American Airlines, a 10.23% weighting in Delta, and Southwest with a 9.44% weighting.
JETS offers investors access to 54 aviation stocks and sports a 0.69% expense ratio.
Looking longer-term, the airline ETF is +1.2% YTD, making a massive recovery in recent weeks. As early March, the fund was down as much as 20.9%.
In related airline news, a federal mask mandate that was going to expire on April 18th has been extended through May 3rd, the CDC said.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|