#TimeForTravel: Middle East aviation boost as Dubai-Saudi flights resume

Middle East USA World

While “a crisis like no other” (in the words of the International Monetary Fund) rages, it is important to identify and highlight the sectors of the aviation, tourism and travel retail business that are beginning more rapidly to recover.

In this column, we bring you regular updates about how airports, airlines, travel retailers and brands are investing in that recovery, and how various stakeholders are shaping up for the new normal. Please send your contributions to Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com.

“Every opening is a victory and should be celebrated as such” – Martin Moodie

“COVID-19 has decimated air travel and incapacitated one of our lungs, but the Singapore heart – our determination, dynamism and enterprise – is still pumping strong. Changi Airport will one day be full again, SIA planes will once again soar. This is our collective mission in the coming months and years ahead.” – Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung 

In a big boost to aviation in the Middle East, flights have resumed between Dubai and multiple cities in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia was the second largest destination country for DXB by passenger volume in 2019, at 6.3 million. Saudi Arabian national carrier Saudia resumed services on Sunday, September 20, with a total of five daily flights from DXB to Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, while more services by other carriers are planned over the coming days and weeks.

The resumption of travel coincides with the 90th Saudi Arabian National Day (Photo: Saudia)

South Africa

South Africa will open to international flights from 1 October, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week. Initially flights will be limited to the main international airports of Johannesburg OR Tambo, Durban King Shaka and Cape Town.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) welcomed the announcement. It said: “Our three international airports, OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town are ready to facilitate cross-border travel and will continue to adhere to the measures and protocols that have been in place for domestic travel over the past few months.” Travellers will be urged to download the Covid Alert South Africa mobile app and must comply with the following requirements:

  • On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure;
  • All travellers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to have Covid-19 test; and
  • Where necessary, travellers will need to enter mandatory quarantine facilities at their own cost.

ACSA added: “We expect the number of international passengers to grow gradually, as this is an important step on the road to recovery. We greatly look forward to once again welcoming international visitors to our International Airports and to South Africa.”


Qatar Airways will operate four weekly flights to Accra, Ghana via Lagos from 29 September 2020, Accra becomes the fourth new destination launched by the national carrier of the State of Qatar since the start of the pandemic.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to be launching flights to the capital of Ghana, one of the fastest growing economies in the region famed for its local hospitality and highly sought after agricultural exports. We first announced our intention to launch flights to Accra in January 2020 and while the pandemic has slightly delayed these plans, it has not stopped us from fulfilling our commitment to passengers in Ghana and around the world.

“With the strong Ghanaian diaspora especially in Europe, the UK and US we are thankful to the Ghanaian Government for their support in helping us to launch these flights providing an opportunity to reunite family and friends with their loved ones. We look forward to working closely with our partners in Ghana to steadily grow this route and support the recovery of tourism and trade in the region.”

By mid-October, Qatar Airways will operate 46 weekly flights to 14 destinations in Africa, including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Entebbe, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Seychelles, Tunis, Windhoek and Zanzibar.


In a boost to many US airports (and their business partners) the US government is easing restrictions on many arriving international travellers from today. Authorities have removed the requirement for flights carrying passengers from certain states to land at one of 15 designated airports. Since March, these have included those from, or with a recent presence in, China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the UK, Ireland and Brazil. These travellers were also subject to enhanced entry health screening.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: “The new, more effective strategy focuses on the continuum of travel and the individual passenger, including pre-departure and post-arrival education, efforts to develop a potential testing framework with international partners, and illness response. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more effectively protects the health of the American public.”

The moves means that international flights can resume to and from many airports. Philadelphia International – which was not named as a “funnelling airport” in March – is among those that can now restart transatlantic traffic.

Airport CEO Chellie Cameron said: “Pre-COVID-19, the international transatlantic travel demand that passed through the airport generated approximately US$2 billion to the local economy per year. We know that it will take some time to reach that amount again, but American Airlines has committed to restoring PHL as its transatlantic hub and our foreign flag airline partners want a pathway to resume flights.

“PHL and its stakeholders are facing multimillion dollar budget deficits due to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry. Funnelling status alone does not solve our financial troubles and further relief funding for the airport is still a necessity. However, being able to accept international flights will help us recover faster and may save jobs that were on the verge of elimination.”


Xi’an Airport continued to lead recovery within the Fraport Group portfolio of airports in August. The Chinese airport served 3.6 million passengers, down by -18.7% year-on-year but a performance that underlined the rebound in Chinese domestic traffic over recent months. As passenger traffic in Russia has picked up, St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport recovered to post a deficit of -31.4% year-on-year to 1.5 million in August.

Fraport Group’s home airport, Frankfurt, served 1.5 million travellers, down by -78.2% on a year ago. This meant that the fall was below -80% for the first time since March. However, quarantine regulations introduced by the German government for all travellers returning from high-risk areas curbed this positive trend in the first week of September, when traffic fell by -80.7%.

Among other group airports, Ljubljana Airport welcomed 28,024 passengers in the month, down -86.7% year-on-year. In Brazil, the airports of Fortaleza and Porto Alegre registered a combined traffic drop of -77.1% to 300,240 passengers. At Lima Airport, traffic fell by -95.4% to 101,866 passengers, as a result of widespread travel restrictions.

Fraport’s 14 Greek regional airports served 2.4 million passengers in August, representing a -55.5% decrease compared to the same month last year. The Bulgarian Twin Star airports of Burgas and Varna saw combined traffic plunge by -77.1% to 287,769 passengers. Antalya Airport in Turkey received about 1.7 million passengers – a decline of 68.8%.


Amman Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) resumed international operations on 8 September, with flight activity increasing since. It followed approval by the Government of Jordan for Airport International Group to reopen.

Fly Jordan, Jordan Aviation, Turkish Airlines and flydubai have now recommenced their activities at QAIA, carrying passengers from Istanbul during the first two days, with flights arriving from Istanbul and Dubai later today.

Positive news from Jordan as Queen Alia International reopens


Emirates will resume passenger flights to Moscow Domodedovo Airport with two flights a week, starting on 11 September. The resumption of flights to Moscow will take the airline’s expanding network in Europe to 26 cities.

Emirates has been gradually restoring its network connectivity worldwide. The addition of Moscow will take the global network to 85 cities in September.


Oman will open to international flights from 1 October, Oman Airports and the Civil Aviation Authority have confirmed. Muscat International currently offers regional flights to selected destinations for Omani residents.

An Oman Airports statement said: “Within the framework of travel procedures issued by the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19 and recommendations by the Civil Aviation Authority, we would like to inform our valued passengers that the air traffic for international flights resume starting from Thursday, October 1st , 2020.”


Three more airlines have recently resumed passenger flights at Miami International, bringing the  total number of carriers to 19. Virgin Atlantic restarted its London service three times a week on 18 August, followed by Aerolineas Argentinas returning on 3 September to and from Buenos Aires three times a week. On 4 September Copa Airlines began two weekly flights from Panama City. Flights with each airline are subject to travel restrictions by the US and the respective governments of each destination.

The airline relaunches followed others in early August. Volaris began serving Guadalajara again on 2 August, Air Europa resumed weekly service from Madrid on 3 August and SWISS returned on 4 August with two weekly flights from Zurich.

Thirteen other airlines either never stopped flying or resumed scheduled service at Miami previously: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, LATAM Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines.


United Airlines plans to resume service in October to 14 international destinations including Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima and Panama City. It will also increase frequency between New York/Newark and Tel Aviv and resuming three-times weekly services between Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv. Service will also be boosted to Cancun, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico from Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York/Newark and Washington, D.C.

United Airlines said that it plans to fly 40% of its full schedule in October compared to October last year. That compares to 34% of the domestic and international schedule combined in September.

Domestically, United plans to fly 46% of its previous year schedule in October (38% in September). This includes the renewal of eight routes to Hawaii, pending approval of the state’s pre-arrival COVID testing programme.

Internationally, United expects to fly 33% of its schedule compared to October 2019, which is up compared to the 29% schedule it plans in September.

“We continue to be data-driven and realistic in our approach to rebuilding our network,” said Ankit Gupta, United Vice President of Domestic Network Planning. “Because October is typically a slower month for leisure travel, we’re adjusting our schedules to reflect these seasonal changes in customer demand while resuming service or adding capacity on routes where we’re seeing increased customer demand for travel.”


Qatar Airways will resume four weekly flights to Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos from 10 September. The move follows the opening of Nigeria’s two major airports – Lagos and Abuja – for international flights from 6 September, as reported below.

The four times weekly service to Africa’s largest city will be operated by Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner. With the addition of Lagos, Qatar Airways’ network in Africa will expand to ten destinations with 44 weekly flights to the continent including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Tunis and Zanzibar.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to resume flights to Lagos and further expand our network in Africa. We know the Nigerian diaspora is spread across the globe and we are thankful to the Nigerian Government for their support in helping us to reunite family and friends with their loved ones. With our mixed fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft, we are able to resume Lagos services with the right sized aircraft that will enable us to respond quickly to passenger demand and increase frequencies, offering our passengers more flexibility to travel when they want.

“With 44 weekly flights to ten destinations across Africa and plans for further resumptions in line with the easing of entry restrictions, we are committed to supporting the recovery of international tourism across the continent while also maintaining vital supply chains to support African businesses.”

Qatar Airways currently operates over 650 weekly flights to more than 85 destinations across the globe including 27 destinations in Asia Pacific, 32 in Europe and nine in North America.


International flights to and from Lagos and Abuja airports resumed at the weekend, a move that comes as encouraging news for travel and travel retail. A Middle East Airlines flight from Beirut was the first to touch down at Lagos Airport on Saturday.

As reported, Nigeria has restricted access to airlines from states that currently permit Nigerian travellers. Those permitted to operate include Middle East Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir, Virgin Atlantic, Air Cote-d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

Air France, KLM, Royal Air Maroc and Lufthansa are among those that remain barred, mainly because Nigerians with tourist visas are not allowed enter their home countries.


Carnival Corporation brand Costa Cruises resumed sailings yesterday (6 September), and will be followed by sister company Aida Cruises, which begins services on 1 November. The move is highly encouraging for the cruiseline and maritime retail sector. Full story here.

New Zealand/Singapore

From 10 September, two Singapore Airlines flights a week will land at Christchurch Airport, then a third from 10 October.

“This will help get more South Island produce to premium markets across the world, as well as helping approved repatriating passengers get home,” said Christchurch International Airport.

Christchurch International Airport, gateway to New Zealand’s beautiful South Island (as described on The Moodie Blog, the airport was lit up in green on Friday 4 September to mark the ten-year anniversary of the first of two terrible earthquakes to strike the city six months apart in 2010 and 2011)

Singapore has allowed general travel to Brunei and New Zealand since 1 September. It has also relaxed border controls for visitors from Brunei and New Zealand, given that they have remained in those countries 14 days prior to arriving in Singapore.



Passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport continues to recover sowly, with a -73.6% year-on-year decrease for July, a slight improvement from the -79.5% decline in June.

Domestic traffic continues its slow recovery but international traffic remains neglible. Source: Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (click to enlarge)


In a boost to travel (and travel retail) in Uruguay, American Airlines aims to resume flights from Miami International to Montevideo Carrasco International on 5 November. This is over a month ahead of the previously planned schedule, and was brought forward against the backdrop of the improving health situation in Uruguay, said Montevideo Airport and American in a statement.

The initial schedule will feature two flights a week. Direct travel to and from the US was halted in March, though connections have been available, mainly through Brazil.

Corporación América Uruguay CEO Diego Arrosa said: “We welcome the resumption of American Airlines flights with joy. It is a clear recognition of the great work that is being done at national level in the management of the pandemic and reaffirms that air transport has health guarantees for the safety of all.

“It is a source of pride that our country once again has direct air connectivity for passengers with the US.”

American Airlines’ Regional Manager for the Southern Cone Gonzalo Schames said: “We are very excited about our return to Uruguay in November with two weekly flights between Montevideo and Miami At American we have a strong focus on the wellbeing and safety of our customers and our team, which is why we are working closely with health experts and government authorities to continue to strengthen and expand our cleaning and safety protocols. We want our clients to feel safe when travelling with us and we hope to welcome them in Montevideo soon.”


Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi has encouraged further reopening of the Australian domestic aviation market, saying that “airports and airlines provide a highly controllable, point-to-point environment complete with existing track and trace mechanisms via our domestic airline partners”. In a statement today, he said that the approach to managing the COVID-19 crisis must balance the needs of public health and the wider economy. He acknowledged though that the opening of Australia’s international border “looks a way off”.

Strambi said: “The aviation sector in Australia and around the world was the canary in the coal mine for COVID-19 The closure of our borders to international travel was the first decisive move to limit the spread of COVID-19 into our community.

“Victoria’s crisis aside, Australia has been remarkably successful in achieving the goal of suppression. So successful in fact, that elimination has appeared tantalisingly within reach. So far however, pursuing such a strategy has proved elusive.

“We must plan to live sustainably with the virus. We cannot be sure when or if a vaccine will be available. We can’t even be sure how many among our community will access it once it arrives. It’s hardly a foundation for economic recovery.

“No one should interpret this as putting the economy before health. We need to recognise it is not a binary choice and respect how interrelated these two priorities really are.”

“Our domestic aviation should be recognised as a process which can be tightly managed, supporting tracking and tracing and facilitating safe environments,” says Lyell Strambi

He said that the state of Victoria, although not ready to open up to the rest of the nation yet, is making progress through its recently imposed lockdown, offering some hope for the future.

“Before COVID, six of the ten busiest domestic air routes in Australia originated in Melbourne. Around 40% of the domestic fleet passed through Melbourne before lunch every weekday. And around a quarter of the country’s GDP was being generated by the Victorian economy.

“The issues currently faced by Victoria are creating a drag on the whole country, so we really are all in this together.

“The Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol, informed by health advice from the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) and endorsed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, provides a clear and credible plan to safely resume domestic aviation.

“Our domestic aviation should be recognised as a process which can be tightly managed, supporting tracking and tracing and facilitating safe environments. Aviation is an essential part of reopening the nation safely.

“With reliable data demonstrating that we are now past the peak, we need to look over the horizon to what comes next. At present, Australia’s national businesses are working on a state-by-state basis, adapting to the local COVID situation and restrictions. It must be a nightmare. We need to be joined up. Our island nation can’t afford to be a collection of states isolated from one another.

“How do we open the economy in a managed and planned way? And importantly, how do we adopt a truly national approach to coming out of this crisis?

“We must learn the lessons of Victoria’s quarantine experience and double down on rapid contact tracing and other critical elements of the response.

“NSW has led the nation in demonstrating how the suppression strategy can work. It hasn’t been perfect. It can’t be. But the speed with which NSW has been able to identify outbreaks, track and trace cases and get them under control is a case study in how we can manage the health risk and maintain a functioning economy.

“Notably, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been clear and consistent that her state’s borders will not be up a minute longer than necessary. My hope is that as soon as Victoria can bring its outbreak to similar levels of control, these two great states can lead the nation on our long road of our economic recovery.

“Planning needs to start yesterday. There is not a moment to lose. Again, it’s not health or economy, we must strive for both. This should be the aim.”

Singapore/South Korea

Singapore and South Korea have agreed to permit essential business travel between the two states, a move that they said will “help restore connectivity and support economic recovery”.

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan struck the agreement with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Kang Kyung-wha on 2 September 2020, with a plan to launch a ‘fast lane’ for travel between the countries from 4 September.

Eligible travellers will have to abide by the prevailing public health measures in the respective countries, such as health safeguards in the form of pre-departure and post-arrival testing as well as the need to adhere to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in the receiving country.

The Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association said the move was welcome news for travel retail and aviation.

Singapore has so far struck similar agreements with China, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brunei.


The Chinese government has given permission for direct flights to Beijing from eight countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Canada – to resume. The news was reported by state-owned agency Xinhua. More will follow after an initial test period, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The first flight came from Phnom Penh today, and was operated by Air China.

Priority will be given to flights from countries with a low risk of cross-border infection, said officials. Passengers will have to produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding any Beijing-bound flights.

The number of passengers on direct international flights will be capped at around 500 per day during the initial period, a figure that could double if it is deemed a success.


Qatar Airways has said that by mid-September it will be operating over 650 weekly flights to more than 85 destinations. It claims the number of global destinations it now has on offer is higher than any other airline.

The Qatari flag carrier has communicated the following summary of new flight activity for this month:

  • Houston (three weekly flights started 2 September increasing to four weekly from 15 September)
  • Kathmandu (one weekly flight starting 5 September)
  • Mogadishu (three weekly flights starting 6 September)
  • Philadelphia (three weekly flights starting 16 September)
  • Sialkot (three weekly flights started 1 September)

The airline has also increased frequencies to the following destinations:

  • Ankara (increased to daily from 1 September)
  • Baghdad (increasing to 11 weekly flights from 3 September)
  • Basra (increased to daily flights from 2 September)
  • Djibouti (increasing to six weekly flights from 6 September)
  • Erbil (increasing to 11 weekly flights from 3 September)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (increasing to daily flights from 15 September)
  • London Heathrow (increased to four daily flights from 1 September)
  • New York JFK (increased to double daily flights from 1 September)
  • Sulaymaniyah (increased to daily flights from 2 September)


Jordanian Duty Free Shops is now selling goods to local Jordanians through its Amman downtown store after striking an agreement with the Ministry of Finance and Customs. The store is located on Abdali Boulevard.

The company explained that it can open the store and offer goods to residents subject to local taxes

It said: “This step aims to provide an opportunity for the Jordanian public to benefit from this extraordinary marketing potential without competing with the local market, in response to the high stock of products [available] due to the border closure. It also aims to contribute to the fight against illicit trade and smuggling of some goods that are currently traded in the local market.”


The popular domestic air route from Gold Coast to Cairns resumed today, connecting Queensland’s leading visitor destinations. While international travel to and from Australia is suspended, state governments are helping airports and airlines to kickstart flying on some domestic services.

Gold Coast Airport COO Marion Charlton said: “The resumption of this popular service will take us from 11 to 19 services per week. That is still a long way off the 55 flights per day that we were facilitating pre-COVID-19, but it is a welcome step on the road to recovery.

A welcome step: The new service boosts Gold Coast flight numbers, though these remain well off pre-crisis levels

“This service will reconnect the Gold Coast with tropical Far North Queensland – the state’s two powerhouse tourism destinations. It will grow from eight return flights this week to 11 return flights by the end of September, in time for the school holidays. With the recommencement of this service, we are confident more Queenslanders will embrace the opportunity to explore both destinations.”

Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said demand for intra-Queensland travel was strong. “Queenslanders have one of the biggest and most diverse backyards to explore in all of Australia, and we’re pleased to reconnect more family, friends and holiday makers as a result of the return of these services,” he said.

“We currently operate five intra-Queensland routes and are confident the relaunch of our low fares services between the Gold Coast and Cairns will further stimulate local tourism, support small businesses and boost the state economy. The resumption of services also means more of our people are flying, which is great news too.”

Cairns Airport said last month that the Cairns-Brisbane service was now the busiest in the country, with airlines boosting capacity from intrastate and selected interstate destinations.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said there was pent up demand for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region, with Cairns the number one region in Australia for Google travel searches.

“Bookings have picked up for some properties with Fitzroy Island Resort reporting strong forward bookings after losing a lot of business when the New South Wales border closed.

“Hotels with campaigns in market have experienced better mid-week occupancies and report a younger demographic enjoying the getaways and min breaks.”

Brisbane to Townsville, and Brisbane to Mackay (all within Queensland) are now the second and third busiest routes nationally.


Ghana will reopen to international flights from 1 September, President Nana Akufo-Addo has confirmed. In a televised address on Sunday, he said: “I am glad to announce that Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday, September 1, 2020. This decision has been communicated to international airlines across the world.” Land and sea borders will remain closed until further notice.

Arriving air travellers must possess a negative COVID-19 test from their country of origin, conducted within 72 hours before travel. Passengers will also undergo a test on arrival, with results available within 30 minutes, according to the President.


Qatar Airways will resume flights three times a week to Mogadishu, Somalia from 6 September, as it continues to extend its African network. The service will be a tagged flight to its existing operations to Djibouti which resumed last month.

The resumption will see Qatar Airways network in Africa expand to nine destinations. With the addition of Mogadishu, the airline will operate 40 weekly flights to the continent across nine destinations including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Nairobi, Tunis and Zanzibar.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker said: “We are delighted to resume flights to the capital of Somalia. Mogadishu is considered to be the most populous city in Somalia and with our flights, passengers will be able to enjoy Qatar Airways wide network via our home and hub, Hamad International Airport.

“Qatar Airways remains committed to providing global connectivity to markets across Africa through the launch of new destinations along with the rapid resumption of services suspended due to the pandemic. We look forward to welcoming our passengers back onboard to explore our growing network in Africa.”


Emirates is to further extend its international network from 1 September when it resumes passenger flights to Bangkok.

Thailand is taking a phased approach to allowing international visitors, with a limited number of travellers from selected categories currently permitted. The Tourism Authority of Thailand said last week that the government hoped to open Phuket to international tourism from 1 October. The reopening will be a pilot for the rest of the country.

In other Emirates news, the airline will begin flying again to Lusaka, Zambia with two weekly flights from 4 September. This broadens Emirates’ each into Africa with nine destinations served. As reported earlier this week, Emirates will resume passenger services to Conakry, Guinea and Dakar, Senegal from 3 September.

These latest moves will extend Emirates’ global network via Dubai to 79 cities from next month.


In its interim results briefing today, Malaysia Airport said that over half of all overseas carriers had resumed service at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), its largest location. 24 out of 42 foreign airlines have begun flights again, it noted, led by Qatar Airways, which is now flying 14 times a week from KLIA.

The AirAsia Group, a key national partner, plans to resume international service from late Q3, said the airport company. The Malaysia Aviation Group (Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASWings) are operating at around 50% of 2019 frequencies, with international schedules to pick up from September.

Another key partner, Malindo Air, is also at around 50% of previous schedules, and started flights to Singapore last week. Further international services will follow.

In Turkey, where the company runs Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen International Airport, domestic flights have resumed and are now at around 80% of 2019 levels. International flights are at 50% of last year’s levels, said the airports group. More details in the chart attached.

The latest picture for flight resumptions at KLIA (click to enlarge)


Dublin Airport has issued its latest update on the planned restart of flights for key airline partners.

Already flying again with limited service are Aegean, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air France, Air Moldova, American Airlines, British Airways, Croatia Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Etihad, Finnair, FlyOne, Iberia, KLM, Lauda Air, LOT, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Qatar Airways, SAS, Stobart Air, SWISS, TAP, TUI, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and Vueling.

Aeroflot is schedule to resume flights from 21 October, Blue Islands from 26 October and Eastern Airways from 28 August. Eurowings, HiSky, Icelandair, Norwegian and Transavia are set to resume flights in September with dates to be confirmed.


Travel analytics company ForwardKeys has predicted that domestic air travel in China will reach full recovery by the start of September.

The market has been recovering steadily in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. In the second week of August, domestic arrivals at Chinese airports reached 86% of 2019 levels and bookings (issued air tickets) hit 98%, with most for travel in mid to late August.

Full story here.


Plaza Premium Group recently opened its London Heathrow Terminal 2 and 5 lounges, with an enhanced set of hygiene protocols to safeguard the health and wellbeing of guests and staff members. The lounges are now open to the company’s latest airline partners, including Etihad, Finnair, Virgin Atlantic, Vistara and SkyTeam Alliance members. Plaza Premium Lounge at Terminal 5 will also host Qatar Airways’ Privilege Cardholders.

A very modern kind of welcome for guests at Plaza Premium Heathrow

Plaza Premium is operating its lounges under its ‘We Care for your Wellbeing’ principles. Protocols include frequent sanitisation of surfaces, provision of hand sanitisers, social distancing, tailored food services manned by staff and pre-packaged food items at self-serve counters to minimise human contact.

Guests visiting Plaza Premium Lounges will also be invited to join app-based Smart Traveller, Plaza Premium Group’s Global Airport Reward Programme, via downloading for free on Apple Store and Google Play.


Emirates will resume passenger services to Conakry, Guinea and Dakar, Senegal from 3 September, as it rebuilds its international network. This takes the total number of cities served by Emirates in Africa to eight. The additions will boost Emirates’ growing network to 77 cities via Dubai.


Delta Air Lines is enhancing schedules across its international network in Winter 2020-2021 and Summer 2021.

In September, Delta (subject to government approval) will resume flights from/to:

  • Atlanta – Lagos
  • Boston – London-Heathrow
  • New York-JFK – Accra
  • New York-JFK – Barcelona
  • New York-JFK – Madrid
  • New York-JFK – Rome

In October, Delta plans to add:

  • New York-JFK – Brussels
  • New York-JFK – Dublin
  • New York-JFK – Frankfurt
  • New York-JFK – Zurich
  • Seattle – Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Service between Boston and Paris will return in November.

From next Summer, Delta will expand its hub-to-hub flying between the US and Europe, offering nonstop daily service to Amsterdam, Paris and London-Heathrow from Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New York-JFK and Minneapolis. From Seattle and Salt Lake City, customers will have nonstop daily access to Amsterdam and Paris. Delta’s LAX hub will offer nonstop service to Paris. This expansion also marks a restart of trans-Atlantic service for LA, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

Additionally, Delta will add back service to Paris from Cincinnati and Raleigh-Durham, as well as service to Amsterdam from Portland.

Delta Air Lines is also planning ahead for enhanced routes to and from Asia Pacific.

In April 2021, Delta plans to return to service between Minneapolis and Incheon International in South Korea. Currently, Delta customers can fly with partner Korean Air from Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle to Incheon and connect to over 70 destinations throughout Asia.

By Summer 2021, Delta will offer service from seven US cities to Tokyo Haneda. Currently, the airline offers up to 14 weekly flights across its Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle gateways. Beginning in December this year, Delta plans to add up to four times weekly services between Haneda and Honolulu.

Between the US and China, Delta said it was “working closely with governments in both countries to increase service in response to high demand”. Currently, Delta operates four weekly flights to Shanghai from Detroit and Seattle. Subject to approval, the airline plans to increase service between these destinations. In Summer 2021, Delta hopes to operate daily service between Shanghai and Detroit, Seattle and Los Angeles, plus daily service connecting Seattle with Beijing Daxing Airport, subject to government approval.

To Australia, Delta plans to maintain a minimum of three-times weekly service between Los Angeles and Sydney before resuming daily service in 2021.


KLM will resume flights to Hangzhou this week, the airline’s second destination in China to reopen following travel restrictions that were imposed in February. The carrier began flying to Shanghai again on 21 July. Initially the Hangzhou service will operate once a week.


Nigeria will reopen airports to limited international flights from Saturday 29 August, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika has confirmed.

The move, which will begin with services from Lagos and Abuja, is a potentially huge boost to Nigerian travel and tourism, and to other airports (and their travel retailers) that rely on Nigerian travellers. Protocols and procedures to manage the restart of international flights will be put in place, said Minister Sirika. It follows the reopening of most Nigerian airports for domestic services.


Dufry has re-opened its World Duty Free arrivals store at Birmingham International Airport, which had been closed since 24 March.

It follows the opening of the main World Duty Free departures store on 1 July.

Birmingham Airport Dufry Group General Manager David Smith said: “Great job from everyone involved in the re-launch and wonderful to see the store trading again.”

The World Duty Free team prepare to welcome customers to the re-opened arrivals store


Singapore will allow general travel to Brunei and New Zealand beginning September 1. It is also relaxing border controls for visitors from Brunei and New Zealand, given that they have remained in those countries 14 days prior to arriving in Singapore.

Under the new regulations, arriving passengers no longer need to self-isolate for fourteen days and instead must undergo a COVID-10 test upon arrival at the airport. They will also need to apply for an Air Travel Pass and only be allowed to enter the country upon receiving a negative test result.

In a comment to leading local news outlet The Straits Times, Education Minister and Multi-Ministry COVID-19 Task Force Co-Chair Lawrence Wong said: “We know that some places have been able to control the infection effectively, and the risk of importation is low. Our assessment is that there is no need for a stay-home notice requirement for travellers from these low risk places, and a Covid-19 test will be sufficient.”

In another important move, Singapore has also reduced the stay-at-home notice period for visitors from Australia (excluding travellers from Victoria), Macau, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia from 14 days to seven days.

Click on image to read full article

19 August


Qatar Airways continues to lead from the front as one of the most proactive airlines in getting air traffic moving again. It has communicated a summary of new destinations that have recently been added to its roster, and flights that have increased in frequency.

Recently resumed destinations include:

  • Adelaide (two-weekly flights started 16 August)
  • Auckland (three-weekly flights via Brisbane starting 18 August)
  • Houston (three-weekly flights starting 2 September increasing to four-weekly from 15 September)
  • Kigali (three-weekly flights started 3 August)
  • London Gatwick (daily flights starting 20 August)
  • Nairobi (double daily flights started 3 August)
  • Philadelphia (three-weekly flights starting 16 September)
  • Sialkot (three-weekly flights starting 1 September)

Leading from the front: The Qatari flag carrier has been regularly announcing the re-opening and increased frequency of routes

Flights with recently increased frequencies include:

  • Ankara (increasing to daily from 1 September, subject to regulatory approvals)
  • Cebu (increased to daily from 12 August) Clark (increased to six-weekly from 12 August)
  • Dhaka (increasing to five-weekly from 23 August)
  • Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore (increased to double daily from 10 August)
  • Istanbul SAW (increasing to 11 weekly from 20 Aug then triple daily from 1 September, subject to regulatory approvals)
  • Jakarta (increased to double daily from 17 August)
  • Kuala Lumpur (increased to double daily from 17 August) Los Angeles (increased to daily from 12 August)
  • New York JFK (increasing to double daily from 1 September)

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Since the onset of the pandemic Qatar Airways network has never fallen below 30 destinations with continuous services to five continents. Our airline has led the industry in offering passengers more choices and greater flexibility so they can plan and book travel with confidence. We have also implemented the most advanced safety and hygiene measures onboard including becoming the first airline to require passengers to wear face shields in addition to face coverings.

“With our investment in one of the youngest, most fuel-efficient long haul fleets, strategic network management and the Best Airport in the Middle East, we have been able to quickly and effectively rebuild our network to more than 550 weekly flights to over 85 destinations across six continents. As the global recovery continues, Qatar Airways will remain focused on its fundamental mission of carrying passengers across the globe safely and reliably.”


Important news from Singapore as The Straits Times reports that transit passengers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will now be able to transit at Changi Airport via Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group’’s flights. The news comes one week after the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore approved SIA’s application to fly in transit passengers from Vietnam and Cambodia. Click on the image to read the full article.


Positive news out of the UAE as local media Gulf News reports that passenger capacity on UAE airlines is now at 40-50%-plus as the carriers restore more routes.

Gulf News said that booking enquiries had “shot up” after the UAE authorities said that an approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) will no longer be required for residents returning to the country. Additionally, the report said, Dubai is seeing benefits from allowing foreign visitors from 7 July onwards.

There is demand for flight seats to “every country from every country”, Mohammed Shah, Manager at Dubai-based Regal Tours, told Gulf News. “The kind of business I had in recent weeks, I haven’t had in years.”

“We are seeing it for all the flights,” added Javed Siddiqui, Branch Manager at Al Rais Travel. “Emirates and Etihad flights headed to Australia are packed as they are the only two airlines serving the region, while India-bound flights, operating under pacts with the government, are gaining momentum. A lot of people have been calling.”

Click on icon for full article.

South Africa

O.R. Tambo International Airport is welcoming back domestic passengers after the South African government activated lockdown Level 2 COVID-19 status. It opens up travel through the airport for the first time since the end of March.

Level 2 status means that travel has ‘safe’ status and people only have to adhere to minimal social distancing. It also means restaurants, bars and pubs can re-open. The airport did however stress that extensive health and safety measures are in operation and there is rigorous monitoring of compliance with regulations in place.

O.R. Tambo International Airport General Manager Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana said: “The entire airport community is preparing to welcome more passengers as people start to make bookings for leisure travel.

“The opening up of domestic air travel will have a positive impact on not only the airport but also the entire aviation sector. As with business air travel, we anticipate a gradual increase in demand at first.”

Traffic is on move again at O.R. Tambo International Airport with rigorous safety regulations in place


Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) is reconnecting Bengaluru to 14 international destinations.

13 airlines will operate international flights under Air Bubble, Vande Bharat Mission and Repatriation programmes

The destinations connected directly from BLR Airport include Abu Dhabi (Etihad, GoAir & Air India Express), Amsterdam (KLM Royal Dutch), Dubai (Emirates, Indigo, GoAir, Air India Express & Vistara), Doha (Indigo & Qatar Airways), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Kuwait (Air India & Indigo), Kuala Lumpur (Air India Express & Malaysian Airlines), London (Air India & British Airways), Muscat (Air India Express), Narita (Air India), Paris (KLM Royal Dutch), Riyadh (Indigo) and Singapore (Air India Express). BLR Airport will connect to San Francisco via Kochi (Air India).


From London Luton Airport Head Of Commercial Development Mark Jennings comes this image of Frankie & Benny’s – a key F&B offer at the airport – swinging back into business.

“Congratulations to the team at TRG for the pace and professionalism in reopening Frankie & Benny’s this morning,” writes Mark on LinkedIn.


“Slow and steady improvement”. That’s how Greater Orlando Aviation Authority described its latest passenger traffic figures amid evidence of an encouraging uptick in demand.

Passenger numbers at Orlando International Airport in June were down -79.5% year-on-year but the more relevant indicator in the COVID-19 recovery context is the month-on-month comparison, up 12 points from May’s negative -91.5%.

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chief Executive Officer Phil Brown said, “As we monitor the gradual increase in traffic volumes we are cautiously optimistic that the public is more confident travelling to Orlando and realises the extent to which we are providing a safe and healthy environment for their benefit.”

For entries before 18 August click here.