Delta announced 3 new routes to Panama in its latest network expansion

Touring Delta Air Lines' new terminal at LaGuardia Airport  - Delta Hard Hat Tour 2021
Touring Delta Air Lines’ new terminal at LaGuardia Airport.

  • Delta Air Lines is launching three new routes and one additional frequency to Panama City, Panama this winter.
  • The expansion will mark Delta’s highest number of flights to the country since it started service there in 1998.
  • Delta’s flight from Orlando will be the carrier’s only international route out of the central Florida city.

Delta Air Lines is focusing on Panama City, Panama in its latest network expansion, announcing three all-new nonstop routes to the Central American country on Friday.

Delta is launching three new routes to Panama City in December from Los Angeles, Orlando, and New York, expanding its operation in the country to 13 weekly flights, which is an 80% increase in capacity since 2019, according to the airline. In addition to new routes, the airline is also adding a second Saturday-only frequency from its hub in Atlanta, set to begin on December 18. According to Delta, this winter will mark the highest number of flights to Panama since beginning service there in 1998.

“From its breathtaking beaches and vibrant culture to its competitive economy in Latin America, Panama is a highly sought destination for business and leisure travelers alike,” said Luciano Macagno, Delta’s managing director – Latin America, Caribbean, and South Florida. “With our new direct flights from our L.A. and JFK hubs that offer significant U.S. connectivity, as well as the demand from the local Orlando community, we’re looking forward to introducing Delta’s signature hospitality and exceptional onboard experience to more customers planning their next trip.”

The launch of these routes indicates Delta sees strong business and leisure demand to the country, which has had a good recovery since the pandemic. According to Cirium data for October, airlines are operating 83% of the flights offered to Panama during the same time in 2019. Tourism in Panama spiked over the summer, with over 50,000 visitors in June 2021, according to CEIC data, compared to the 30,000 in May. However, this is still well below 2019 levels which saw over 120,000 tourists.

Delta will face strong competition from Panama’s national carrier Copa Airlines, which has its “Hub of the Americas” in Panama City. Last month, the airline joined the government in promoting tourism in the country, including launching its “Panama Stopover” and “Panama Irresistible” programs, according to Spanish aviation media outlet Aviaci Online.

The stopover initiative, which was done with the support of the Tourism Promotion Fund, known as PROMTUR, offers travelers the option to add a multi-day stop in Panama City to their reservation at no additional cost.

“One of the main objectives of PROMTUR Panama is to generate demand for international travelers through strategic alliances, and programs such as the Panama Stopover, align our efforts to position the country as a tourist destination in an attractive way for the thousands of tourists who travel through Copa Airlines,” said PROMTUR’s general director Fernando Fondevila.

Meanwhile, the company’s “Panama Irresistible” program offers discounts to Panama from dozens of cities in its network, including Los Angeles and Orlando, according to Aviaci Online.

Here’s a closer look at Delta’s new routes to Panama.

Between Orlando and Panama City, Panama

City skyline and Lake Eola at Orlando in Florida
Orlando, Florida

Delta will launch Saturday-only flights between Orlando and Panama City on December 18 using a Boeing 737-900 aircraft, which can carry 180 passengers. The outbound will depart Orlando at 10:30 a.m. and land in Panama City at 1:50 p.m., with the return leaving at 3:20 p.m. and arriving at 6:40 p.m. The route will be the airline’s only international flight out of Orlando and will face competition from Copa Airlines.

Between Los Angeles and Panama City, Panama

los angeles skyline
Los Angeles, California

Delta will launch once-daily flights between Los Angeles and Panama City on December 18 using a Boeing 757 aircraft, which can carry 199 passengers. The outbound flight will operate on Saturdays and depart Los Angeles at 8:50 p.m. and land in Panama City at 5:45 a.m. the next day. The return will operate on Sundays and leave at 8:05 a.m. and arrive at 11:15 a.m. Delta will compete with Copa Airlines on the route.

Between New York’s JFK International Airport and Panama City, Panama

Buildings in Manhattan as seen from the tall One Vanderbilt building against a blue sky.
New York City, New York

Delta will launch thrice-weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between New York-JFK and Panama City on December 20 using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which can carry 160 passengers. Frequencies will increase to four times weekly on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in March 2022. The outbound will depart New York in the morning and the return will leave Panama City in the afternoon. Copa Airlines will be Delta’s only competitor.

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New airline ITA has officially taken over for Alitalia – see the full history of Italy’s troubled flag carrier

ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery
ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery

  • Government-owned Alitalia ceased operations on October 15, marking the end of its 74-year era.
  • Alitalia has been replaced by ITA Airways, a brand new airline that will not be responsible for the old carrier’s debt.
  • ITA plans to buy 28 Airbus jets, create a new aircraft livery, and launch a new loyalty program.

Alitalia has officially ceased operations and handed the baton to newcomer ITA Airways, which stands for Italian Air Transport.

Italy’s national carrier Alitalia has had a rocky past full of financial struggles, employee strikes, and other damaging events, forcing it to make the decision to cease operations on October 15 after 74 years of service. The airline stopped the sale of tickets in August and has committed to refunding all passengers who were booked on flights after October 14.

On Thursday, the airline flew its final flight from Cagliari, Italy to Rome, according to FlightAware, officially sealing the fate of Alitalia. On Friday, the country’s new flag carrier ITA took its place with a new livery, airplanes, and network, flying its first route from Milan Linate Airport to Bari International Airport in southern Italy.

Here’s a look at Alitalia’s storied past and the plan of its successor.

Alitalia as a brand began in 1946, one year after World War II ended, first flying in 1947 within Italy and quickly expanding to other European countries and even opening intercontinental routes to South America.

Alitalia DC-3
Passengers disembarking from an Alitalia Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

The full name of the airline was Italian International Airlines, a joint effort between the United Kingdom through British European Airways – a precursor to British Airways – and the Italian government.

British European Airways Vickers Viscount
A British European Airways Vickers Viscount.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

True to its name, Alitalia flew its first with Italian aircraft produced by now-defunct manufacturers in aerospace including Fiat and Savoia-Marchetti.

Alitalia Fiat G-12
An Alitalia Fiat G-12.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Following a merger with Italy’s other airline, aptly named Italian Airlines or Linee Aeree Italiane, in 1957, Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane became Italy’s top carrier.

LAI Douglas DC-3
A Linee Aeree Italiane Douglas DC-3.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Armed with a sizeable fleet of 37 aircraft including the four-engine Douglas DC-6 and Corvair 340, the airline was ranked 12 in the world for international carriers.

Alitalia
Passengers disembarking an Alitalia aircraft.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

As Europe returned to normalcy following the war, so did Italy and the 1960s became a pivotal decade for both the country and its airline as the 1960 Summer Olympics would be held in Rome.

Alitalia Roma 1960
An Alitalia poster highlighting the upcoming Olympic Games in Rome.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

The year saw Alitalia carry over one million passengers, introduce jets into its fleet, and move to a new home at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Rome Fiumicino Airport 1961
Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport in 1961.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Alitalia entered the jet age with a mix of European and American aircraft such as the Sud Caravelle SE210…

Alitalia Sud Caravelle
An Alitalia Sud Caravelle.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

And the Douglas DC-8.

Alitalia DC-8
An Alitalia DC-8.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

American aircraft largely comprised the airline’s fleet once settled into the jet age with a short-haul fleet featuring the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and later the McDonnell Douglas MD-80…

Alitalia MD-80
An Alitalia MD-80.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Complemented by a similarly American-dominated long-haul fleet consisting of aircraft such as the Boeing 747.

Alitalia Boeing 747 Pope John Paul II
An Alitalia Boeing 747 chartered by Pope John Paul II.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

The arrival of the 747 was a seminal moment for Alitalia and it was the first aircraft to wear the airline’s famed green, white, and red livery with an “A” shape on the tail.

Alitalia tail
Alitalia’s red and green “A” tail design.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Alitalia was the first European airline to transition fully into the jet age and continued the switch with more wide-body aircraft such as the Airbus A300.

Alitalia Airbus A300
An Alitalia Airbus A300.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Other aircraft that would join the Alitalia jet fleet included the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, McDonnell Douglas DC-10…

Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-11
An Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-11.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

And Boeing 767-300ER for long-haul flights.

Alitalia Boeing 767-300ER
An Alitalia Boeing 767-300ER.

Source: Boeing and Alitalia

Alitalia even had uniforms designed by Georgio Armani, who also contributed to aircraft interior designs.

Georgio Armani
Italian designer Georgio Armani.

Source: Alitalia

The airline’s short-haul fleet later included a European favorite, the Airbus A320 family.

FILE PHOTO: An Alitalia Airbus A320-200 airplane comes in to land at Fiumicino airport in Rome, Italy October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
An Alitalia Airbus A320 airplane approaches to land at Fiumicino airport in Rome

Source: Boeing

As Italy’s national airline, Alitalia was also known for flying the Pope with the papal plane using the flight number AZ4000, better known as Shepherd One

Alitalia Pope Shepard One
An Alitalia plane chartered by the Pope.

Source: Telegraph

Despite rising traffic throughout its history with Italy being a popular European tourist and leisure destination, the airline struggled with profitability.

Alitalia
Alitalia check-in desks at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

As a state-owned airline, Alitalia could always depend on the government to keep it flying, until the European Union stepped in and forbade financial support in 2006.

Alitalia Airbus A330
An Alitalia Airbus A330.

Source: New York Times

The 2000s then saw serious discussion into Alitalia’s future with the Italian government wanting to sell its stake in the airline. The airline was opened for bidders in 2007 but yielded no results.

Alitalia
A crow flying passed an Alitalia plane.

Source: New York Times

Air France-KLM Group, the parent company of Air France and KLM as well as several smaller European airlines, then offered to buy the struggling airline but couldn’t get labor unions on board and the deal collapsed.

Alitalia/Air France-KLM
Alitalia and Air France-KLM Group signage.

Source: Reuters

The Italian government, not wanting to lose its flag carrier, continued to prop up its airline via emergency loans in violation of European Union rules.

European Commission, Union, Brussels, flag
The European Commission in Brussels.

Source: European Union

The third attempt in two years to sell the airline came after the Air France-KLM Group deal collapsed with an investors group forming the Compagnia Aerea Italiana to purchase the airline, despite heavy pushback from labor unions.

Alitalia Boeing 777
An Alitalia Boeing 777.

Source: Reuters

This Alitalia began operations in 2009, with Air France-KLM soon coming back into the picture taking a 25% stake from CAI.

Air France/Alitalia Joint Venture
Alitalia meeting with Air France, Delta, and KLM executives.

Source: Financial Times

The new airline quickly began differentiating itself from its former self, leasing aircraft instead of purchasing them with the fleet consisting of the Airbus A330 family…

Alitalia Airbus A330
An Alitalia Airbus A330.

Source: FlightGlobal

And Boeing 777 family comprising the airline’s long-haul fleet.

Alitalia Boeing 777
An Alitalia Boeing 777.

Source: FlightGlobal

It wasn’t long before Alitalia was plagued with issues ranging from union strikes to underperforming subsidiaries and even a sting operation that saw Alitalia employees arrested for theft, according to contemporaneous news reports.

Alitalia strike
Alitalia workers protesting at Fiumicino Airport.

Source: New York Times and BBC

With bankruptcy looming in 2013, Alitalia secured another bailout with help from the government that highlighted the need for restructuring.

Alitalia Airbus A320
An Alitalia Airbus A320.

Source: New York Times

Alitalia saw a new investor in 2015, Eithad Airways, which would take a 49% stake in the airline and Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana became Alitalia – Societa Aerea Italiana.

Alitalia/Etihad
Alitalia and Etihad celebrating a new partnership.

Source: Alitalia

With a new investor in tow, Alitalia began cost-cutting measures but facing a backlash from employees due to planned job cuts, the airline began bankruptcy proceedings and the government announced Alitalia would be auctioned.

Alitalia and Etihad
Alitalia and Etihad’s merger livery.

Source: Reuters

Meanwhile, another airline was positioning itself to become the new Italian flag carrier, the aptly named Air Italy.

Air Italy Airbus A330 200
An Air Italy Airbus A330-200.

Rebranded from Meridiana, a regional Italian airline, Air Italy was jointly owned by private company Alisarda and Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777
A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR.

The airline chose Milan as its main hub ceding Rome to Alitalia. Long-haul flights from Milan to New York began in June 2018, with expansion to Asia happening soon after.

Air Italy Marco Rigotti
Air Italy’s inaugural ceremony for Milan-New York flights.

Affected by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max and without the Italian government as a benefactor, Air Italy closed up shop in early 2020, giving back full control of Italy to Alitalia.

Alitalia Airbus A320
An Alitalia Airbus A320.

While Air Italy was getting its start, the Italian government would once again seek outside investors with European, North American, and Asian airlines expressing interest in Alitalia.

Alitalia aircraft
Alitalia aircraft in Italy.

Among those interested were UK low-cost carrier EasyJet…

FILE PHOTO: EasyJet airplanes are pictured at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo
EasyJet airplanes are pictured at Tegel airport in Berlin.

Source: Bloomberg

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair…

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair commercial passenger jet takes off in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo
A Ryanair commercial passenger jet takes off in Blagnac near Toulouse.

Source: The Guardian

The Lufthansa Group…

Lufthansa airplanes are seen parked on the tarmac during a strike of cabin crew union (UFO) at Frankfurt airport, Germany November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
Strike of Germany’s cabin crew union UFO at Frankfurt airport.

Source: CNBC

Delta Air Lines…

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200.

Source: Bloomberg

And China Eastern Airlines…

china eastern airlines airplane
A China Eastern Airlines Airbus A320.

Source: Reuters

As well as Italian railway group Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.

Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane
A Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane train.

Source: Reuters

One after the other, the airlines dropped their interest, and ultimately, the Italian government re-nationalized the airline on March 17 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alitalia coronavirus.
Alitalia was re-nationalized amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Reuters

 

Despite bailouts from the state, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown of Italy took the ultimate toll on Alitalia, forcing it to make the decision to close the airline and launch a new one.

Alitalia aircraft in the Frankfurt airport
Alitalia aircraft at the Frankfurt airport

Source: The Local

On August 25, the airline stopped selling tickets and announced on its website that it would be offering free flight changes or refunds for passengers booked on Alitalia flights after October 14.

People at Alitalia check in counter
People at Alitalia check in counter

Source: The Local

When the airline ceased operations, its successor, Italia Transporto Aereo, took its place. Alitalia’s last flight flew from Cagliari, Italy to Rome on October 14, and ITA launched operations with a flight from Milan to Bari, Italy on October 15.

ITA app and logo
ITA app and logo

Source: AeroTime

Talks between the European Commission and Italy over Alitalia and ITA began in March 2021, with Rome designating 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) to establish the new flag carrier.

ITA signage at Catania airport
ITA signage at Catania airport

Source: Reuters

Initially, ITA was slated to begin operations in April 2021, but lengthy discussions between Italy and the European Commission delayed its launch.

Flags outside European Commission building in Brussels
Flags outside European Commission building in Brussels

Source: Reuters

Part of the negotiations focused on confirming ITA’s independence of Alitalia to ensure it did not inherit the billions of debt the old carrier owed to the state.

Alitalia Airbus A319
Alitalia Airbus A319

Source: Reuters

Talks also included asking ITA to forfeit half of Alitalia’s slots at Milan Linate Airport, which the airline was unwilling to do.

Alitalia aircraft sit at Milan Linate airport
Alitalia aircraft sit at Milan Linate airport

Source: Reuters

ITA determined giving up that many slots at Linarte would be too big of a loss and proposed forfeiting slots at Rome Fiumicino Airport as a compromise.

Alitalia check in counter Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino airport
Alitalia check in counter Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino airport

Source: Reuters

At the end of the discussions, negotiators agreed to allow ITA to keep 85% of slots at Linate and 43% at Fiumicino.

Green ribbon barrier with the ITA airline logo inside the Leonardo da Vinci airport
Green ribbon barrier with the ITA airline logo inside the Leonardo da Vinci airport

Source: Reuters

Also under negotiation was Alitalia’s brand and its loyalty program, MilleMiglia. The European Commission said ITA would have to give up both.

Alitalia Airbus A320
Alitalia Airbus A320

Source: Reuters

Under European Commission rules, MilleMiglia cannot be bought by ITA and must be put out for public tender, meaning another airline or entity outside the aviation industry can purchase the program. There are an estimated five million MilleMiglia miles that customers have not been able to use.

Customer checking into an Alitalia flight
Customer checking into an Alitalia flight

Source: EuroNews

However, ITA was able to bid on Alitalia’s brand, which it did the day before its launch. The airline bought the Alitalia name for €90 million ($104 million), though ITA executives say they don’t plan on replacing the ITA name.

Alitalia aircraft
Alitalia aircraft

Source: Reuters

ITA began operations on October 15, the day after Alitalia’s last flight. The new airline secured €700 million ($830 million) in funding earlier this year, which helped it purchase some of Alitalia’s assets.

Alitalia employees with new livery in 2015
Alitalia employees with new livery in 2015

Source: Reuters

The successor acquired 52 of Alitalia’s aircraft, seven being wide-bodies, and has plans to purchase and lease new ones, the first of which will enter the fleet in early 2022.

Alitalia Boeing 777
Alitalia Boeing 777

Source: Reuters

By 2025, the airline expects to have 105 aircraft in its fleet and earn over 3.3 billion euros in revenue.

ITA logo with Alitalia aircraft passing in front
ITA logo with Alitalia aircraft

Source: ReutersAirways Magazine

Moreover, ITA plans to renew its fleet with next-generation aircraft, which is expected to make up 77% of its fleet in four years. According to ITA, the aircraft will reduce CO2 emissions by 750 thousand pounds from 2021 to 2025.

Milan Linate Airport
Milan Linate Airport

Source: Airways Magazine, ITA Airways

The 31 new-generation planes, which include short, medium, and long-haul aircraft, will be leased by Air Lease Corporation.

Airbus A320neo
Airbus A320neo

Source: Airways Magazine

Meanwhile, 28 new Airbus jets, including ten Airbus A330neos, seven Airbus A220 family aircraft, and 11 Airbus A320neo family jets, will be purchased.

Airbus A220
Airbus A220

Source: Airways Magazine

As part of a carbon-reducing project, the first 10 flights to depart Rome on October 15 will use sustainable aviation fuels made by Italian energy company Eni. The project will contribute to the EU’s “Fit for 55” proposal, which strives to reduce carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Eni headquarters in Rome
Eni headquarters in Rome

Source: Airways Magazine

ITA introduced a new livery on launch day, which includes a light blue paint scheme representing unity, cohesion, and pride of the nation, as well as homage to Italy’s national sports team, which wears sky blue during competitions. On the tail will be the Italian tricolor of red, white, and green.

ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery
ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery

Source: Airways Magazine

In regards to its network, the carrier launched with 59 routes to 44 destinations. ITA plans to increase its routes to 74 in 2022 and 89 by 2025, while destinations are expected to increase to 58 in 2022 and 74 by 2025.

ITA logo
ITA logo

Source: Airways Magazine

ITA will focus its operation out of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and Milan Linate Airport, establishing itself as a “reference airline” for both business and leisure travelers.

Rome Fiumicino Airport

Source: Airways Magazine

The carrier also plans to target the North American market, with flights from Rome to New York launching on November 4.

Buildings in Manhattan as seen from the tall One Vanderbilt building against a blue sky.

Source: CNN

As for the over 11,000 Alitalia workers, 70% were hired to work for ITA, which has 2,800 employees. 30% of that came from outside Alitalia. The company plans to add 1,000 new jobs in 2022 and reach 5,750 employees by 2025.

Alitalia staff at Milan Linate
Alitalia staff at Milan Linate

Source: Reuters, Airways Magazine

ITA plans to improve upon Alitalia’s services, including incentivizing good customer service by attaching employee salary with customer satisfaction.

Alitalia staff
Alitalia staff

Source: CNN

ITA has set up a loyalty program called Volare, effective October 15, which is split into four levels: smart, plus, premium, and executive. Customers can use accrued points for any flight in ITA’s system.

ITA app
ITA app

Source: Airways Magazine

According to ITA executives, the company plans to join a major international alliance, though it has not stated which one it prefers. Alitalia was aligned with the SkyTeam alliance, which is comprised of carriers like Delta, Air France, and KLM.

Alitalia Embraer 190LR SkyTeam livery
Alitalia Embraer 190LR SkyTeam livery

Source: CNN, Reuters

However, ITA chairman Alfredo Altavilla said it was open to all options. “ITA can’t be a stand-alone carrier forever,” he said.

Alitalia Boeing 767 SkyTeam livery
Alitalia Boeing 767 SkyTeam livery

Source: Reuters

While it is the end of an era with the closing of Alitalia, there are high hopes for its successor. “ITA Airways has been created to intercept the recovery of air traffic in the coming years on the strength of the foundations of its strategy: sustainability, digitalization, customer focus, and innovations,” said ITA CEO Fabio Lazzerini.

Alitalia plane with ITA logo
Alitalia plane with ITA logo

Source: Airways Magazine

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Pakistani airline says it will stop flying to Kabul due to Taliban interference just a few weeks after restarting flights

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul
Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul

  • Pakistan International Airlines has halted operations in Kabul due to Taliban “heavy-handed” interference.
  • The carrier accused the Taliban of intimidating staff and making last-minute arbitrary rule changes.
  • PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said operating in Afghanistan was “impossible” due to high insurance premiums.

Pakistan International Airlines suspended operations into Kabul Airport on Thursday, citing Taliban “heavy-handed” interference, including arbitrary rule changes and staff intimidation, as the reason, according to Reuters.

Pakistan International Airlines has halted operations into Kabul on Thursday after the Taliban sent a letter to it and Kam Air demanding they lower ticket prices to levels before the takeover of the Western-backed Afghan government, according to Reuters. The suspension comes just a month after the airline resumed flights to the Afghan capital on September 13. PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan told CNN the decision to return “was taken on purely humanitarian grounds, and on the strong insistence of friendly organizations.”

According to Reuters, ticket prices have skyrocketed since PIA resumed operations in Kabul, with the airline charging as much as $2,500 to fly to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Before the Taliban takeover, the same route sold for $120 to $150. Reuters reported that in a statement sent to PIA, the Afghan transport ministry threatened to stop flights into Kabul unless the airline adjusted their prices “to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate.”

PIA said the Taliban’s ruling thumb has made conditions unworkable, explaining commanders were “changing regulations and flight permissions at the last moments or deciding at a whim rather than meeting international regulations,” reported CNN. The airline has also accused the Taliban of cutting half of the passengers from one flight this week as they were checking in, according to CNN, causing chaos for travelers and costing PIA half a million dollars.

“This resulted in 176 people, fleeing for their lives, being sent back home by the airline officials, causing nearly half a million-dollar loss to the airline due to higher insurance costs,” the airline said.

Khan told CNN that operating flights into Kabul was “impossible” because “it is still considered a war zone by aircraft insurance companies,” which charge excessively high premiums up to $400,000 per flight, according to Reuters.

Khan said PIA will revisit the operation in Kabul “if the situation on the ground improves and [becomes] more conducive for international operations.”

Last month, the new Taliban government asked international carriers to resume operations in Afghanistan, promising “full cooperation.” However, PIA said commanders have shown “highly intimidating behavior” towards staff. The airline cited one instance in which a representative from the company was “held up at gunpoint for hours when he left the Pakistan embassy compound” because the Taliban thought he was “aiding and abetting” refugees trying to escape Afghanistan.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A global airline is no longer requiring passengers to wear face masks on some flights

SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
A SAS Scandinavian Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 XWB.

  • Scandinavian Airlines will no longer require face masks on flights within Scandinavia.
  • Flights outside of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway will still have mask requirements.
  • Sweden, where Scandinavian Airlines has its headquarters, has taken a no-lockdown pandemic approach.

Scandinavian Airlines, also known as SAS, will no longer require passengers to wear face masks on flights within the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

“Due to the opening of societies and general recommendations from authorities in Scandinavia, SAS is from 18 October 2021, removing the requirement for mandatory use of face masks on flights within Scandinavia,” the airline said on its website.

The flag carrier of the three Nordic nations is the largest global carrier to scrap the pandemic-era health safety policy for all passengers. Airlines around the world adopted the measure in the early months of the pandemic to stop the onboard spread of COVID-19.

Qatar Airways experimented with allowing business class passengers to only wear face masks at their discretion, as Insider reported in July 2020, but now requires all passengers to wear a face mask.

Travelers on SAS flights not within Scandinavia, however, will still have to wear masks as the airline says it will follow European Union Aviation Safety Agency recommendations for face masks on non-intra-Scandinavian flights.

“However, SAS will be following recommendations from EASA regarding mandatory use of face masks on other SAS flights, operating outside Denmark, Norway, and Sweden,” the airline also said.

Flights to non-European destinations including the US will still also keep existing face mask requirements. “SAS maintains the requirement to use face masks onboard flights to other European and intercontinental destinations until further notice,” the airline said.

Scandinavian Airlines’ home country of Sweden has faced the largest number of COVID-19 cases out of any other Nordic country. A total of 1,160,453 cases have been reported in Sweden, according to the World Health Organization, which is more than the cumulative cases of Denmark and Norway combined.

Sweden’s no-lockdown approach to COVID-19 was widely criticized but the country’s chief epidemiologist has hailed the approach as a success with lower excess mortality rates than some other European countries that chose lockdowns, as Insider’s Dr. Marianne Guenot reported.

Reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in Sweden have been on the decline following a recent spike that peaked in early September, according to World Health Organization data. Norway experienced a similar spike in late August that is similarly receding.

Denmark, however, has seen an increase in reported COVID-19 cases since late September that has not drastically subsided. Daily cases on October 11, the most recent data point the World Health Organization has listed, shows 2,484 cases but says the data for that date might be incomplete.

In terms of vaccinations, Reuters data shows that Sweden has administered 14,103,587 doses, or enough to vaccinate 68.6% of its population, while Norway has administered 7,890,409 doses, or enough to vaccinate 73.8% of its population. Denmark leads the pack with 8,811,494 doses administered, or enough to have 75.7% of its population vaccinated.

Scandinavian Airlines’ policy also applies to unvaccinated flyers.

In the US, air travelers are set to be wearing face masks into 2022. The Transportation Security Administration under President Joe Biden in August extended the country’s face mask requirement onboard airplanes through January 18, 2022, after two extensions early in 2021.

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Porsche is selling more electric Taycans than its flagship sports car

2021 Porsche Taycan._4
The 2021 Porsche Taycan.

  • The Porsche Taycan EV is starting to outsell the brand’s iconic 911.
  • During the first nine months of 2021, Porsche sold several hundred more Taycans than 911s.
  • The Taycan is in its second year of production. The 911 has been around for nearly 60 years.

In only its second full year in production, Porsche’s first electric model is starting to outsell its longtime flagship sports car, the 911.

It’s the latest sign that electric vehicles, which have made up a tiny fraction of global vehicle sales for years, are gaining traction.

Porsche sold 28,640 Taycans worldwide during the first nine months of 2021, the company said Friday. It delivered 27,972 911s over that period. The Taycan is also outpacing the 911 in the US, selling 1,861 units compared with the 911’s 1,621.

Porsche launched the Taycan in 2019 as a high-powered, four-door sport sedan that competes with the Tesla Model S. In early 2021, Porsche added a new base version of the Taycan that costs $82,700. It recently introduced a roomier, station-wagon variant called the Taycan Cross Turismo. The Cross Turismo rides a bit higher than the regular Taycan so owners can take it on dirt roads and gravel paths.

Porsche, a brand under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, wants at least 80%of the vehicles it sells to be either fully electric or hybrid by 2030. A battery-powered version of its popular Macan SUV is due in 2023, but don’t expect an electric 911 anytime soon.

CEO Oliver Blume, told reporters in March that the 911 will be the last Porsche to go electric, if it ever does.

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Port traffic in Southeast Asia is the worst its been in over 6 months – and could create even more chaos for US supply chains

FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at Yantian port in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at Yantian port in Shenzhen

  • Some of the world’s largest ports in Asia are facing major backlogs.
  • Hong Kong and Shenzhen were forced to suspend operations this week due to Typhoon Kompasu.
  • Delays will tack weeks on to shipments that already take double the usual travel time from Asia.

Two of Asia’s largest ports are facing their highest backlog in over six months, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Ports in Shenzhen and Hong Kong – key thoroughfares for tech products that connect South China to the rest of the world – had 271 ships at the locations on Friday. The ports had 109 ships waiting off the coast to enter the port, a jump from the 67 ships waiting to dock the day before.

The congestion will likely take several weeks to ease, adding to a host of disruptions in the global supply chain. It currently takes about 73 days, or 83% longer than pre-pandemic times, for goods to travel from Asia to their final destination in the US, according to data from Freightos. If the pace does not increase, goods that have not yet left China will not reach the US in time for the holiday season.

Port of Shenzhen, the third largest port in the world
Port of Shenzhen, the third largest port in the world

Some of the largest ports in the US are facing similar issues as the supply chain struggles to overcome COVID-19 shutdowns while consumer demand booms. Ports in Southern California, the main passageway for imports from China, are at near-record capacity, with ships waiting as long as five weeks before they can dock and unload.

The congestion in the Asian ports will only add to the turnaround time. Cargo ships wait weeks on both ends of their journey to be unloaded, further exacerbating a global shortage of shipping containers.

On Tuesday, the ports were forced to suspend operations as Typhoon Kompasu passed through the South China Sea, leaving 1 person dead and 21 injured in Hong Kong, according to state-side media outlets. The tropical storm has since made landfall in Vietnam, disrupting shipping processes in Haiphong, one of the country’s largest ports.

As of Friday, port operations in Shenzhen and Hong Kong have mostly returned to normal, but the temporary closures have set shippers even further back at a time when the ports were already facing backlogs. James Teo, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said the congestion at the two ports would likely extend into February.

Experts have warned that the shipping crisis will continue well into 2023. The White House has taken some steps to address the backlogs in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, but executives have told shoppers that the holiday shopping season will be impacted by the shipping delays as shortages and price hikes abound.

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A European cruise line has canceled its 2022 around the world cruise due to an ‘unavailability of ports’

The MSC Magnifica by a port in Auckland in 2019
The MSC Magnifica in Auckland in 2019.

  • MSC Cruises has canceled its 2022 world cruise and will instead sail two global cruises in 2023.
  • The cruise line attributed the cancellation to the “current unavailability of ports.”
  • MSC says it’s an issue regarding pandemic-related restrictions at ports.

MSC Cruises has canceled its 2022 world cruise due to the “current unavailability of ports” and will instead sail two global cruises in 2023, the company said in a press release on Wednesday.

“It would not have been possible to carry [the 2022 world cruise] out due to there being too many ports still facing restrictions as a result of the pandemic,” the company said. MSC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to elaborate on said “restrictions,” but ports around the world are currently facing congestion issues amid persistent and crippling supply chain delays.

To address the ongoing demand for world cruises, MSC- which is owned by logistics and shipping group MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company – has moved its 2022 global cruise to the following year aboard the MSC Magnifica. This sailing will then accompany MSC’s sold-out 2023 world cruise aboard the MSC Poesia, which first went on sale in 2020.

The two global cruises on the Magnifica and Poesia will sail with different itineraries, the former with the same plans as the initial 2022 world cruise. The ships will begin embarkation from January 4 through 7 in four European cities. And from there, the cruises will sail on different paths.

Passengers who were initially set to sail on the 2022 world cruise will receive priority booking for the new 2023 world cruise aboard the Magnifica. Guests who move their now-canceled cruise to 2023 can also book a free sailing between January 1 and May 3, 2022.

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Southwest’s ‘spider web-like’ route map is why flights as far as California were canceled due to weather in Florida – here’s how it works

Southwest Airlines
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 aircraft.

  • Southwest Airlines’ cancellations have affected travelers across the US, not just in Florida.
  • The reason goes back to Southwest’s “point-to-point” route network that differs from other airlines.
  • A flight between two cities in California can be impacted by bad weather in Florida, for example.

The worst of Southwest Airlines’ Columbus Day weekend meltdown appears to be over as cancellations are dwindling. As of Thursday morning, only 30 flights have been canceled for the day, according to flight tracking company FlightAware, down from thousands in the combined days prior.

But the weekend’s events have left some flyers in regions as far as the West Coast wondering why their flights were canceled when bad weather and air traffic control issues in Florida were to initially blame. The reason traces back to how Southwest schedules flights across its nationwide route network that differs from many of its competitors.

“Southwest operates a very complex spider web-like point-to-point route network,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. “A flight, let’s say, from Florida to California may make multiple stops along the way, like a proverbial puddle jumper.”

The point-to-point strategy has proved effective in allowing the airline to serve a greater number of US cities without having to contract regional airlines, as is the default of the major airlines when serving low-demand markets. Meltdowns like the one experienced over Columbus Day weekend are few and far between.

Major carriers including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines alternatively operate what’s known as a “hub-and-spoke” route network. Each airline has a handful of hubs across the US from where flights will usually arrive or depart.

Most Delta Air Lines flights, for example, will start or end in either New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, or Raleigh, North Carolina.

Southwest, while having bases at airports across the US, will send aircraft hopscotching across the country and to its international destinations. Examples of its point-to-point routes include Sacramento, California to Ontario, California; Raleigh to Tampa, Florida; and Long Island, New York to West Palm Beach, Florida.

“If there is bad weather in Florida and a flight is canceled, it can cascade down that flight and affect flights between points that are hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away from where the bad weather took place,” Harteveldt said.

Southwest also offers “one-stop, no plane change” flights where passengers on through flights can stay on board the aircraft during these intermediary stops. New cleaning procedures during the pandemic, however, require passengers to disembark.

However, the network strategy can fall apart during periods of “irregular operations,” such s bad weather, if not promptly corrected, as evidenced by the weekend’s events. And that could leave customers flying between San Francisco and Los Angeles, for example, without an aircraft.

“What is clear is: Southwest does not have a good set of strategies to anticipate, manage and recover from weather disruptions and other causes of irregular operations,” Harteveldt said. “Southwest knew that there was bad weather that would hit the central US last week, they knew that there was going to be bad weather in Florida. They should have been able to make arrangements for those events, perhaps pre-canceling flights.”

Southwest told Insider that the event was exacerbated by the conservative approach to staffing that resulted from the pandemic.

“Going forward, we’re continually assessing our operational plan with staffing in mind,” a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. “We’re continuing to aggressively hire; we’ve reduced our planned flying through this lens in the past and we won’t hesitate to do it again. We want to give our people maximum flexibility to recover during these wider-scale disruptions.”

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Moody’s warns of ‘dark clouds ahead’ for the global supply chain as 77% of the world’s largest ports face backlogs

port of la congestion ships
Container ships wait off the coast of the congested ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on September 29, 2021.

  • Moody Analytics warned on Monday that there is no easy fix for the supply-chain crisis.
  • Data shows 77% of major world ports have seen an uptick in turnaround time this year.
  • Record backlogs in Southern California ports are the most significant port delays in the world.

Historic delays and product shortages are threatening to topple an already tense global supply chain.

On Monday, Moody Analytics warned that the disruptions “will get worse before they get better,” citing delays at key US ports, as well as the national labor shortage.

The credit rating agency said there are “dark clouds ahead” for the global supply chain as there is no clear solution to work out kinks between subsections of the supply chain around the world. In particular, Moody’s identified the “weakest link” in the supply chain as an alarming shortage of truck drivers – a problem that has left shipping yards swamped with shipping containers and caused equipment shortages.

“As the global economic recovery continues to gather steam, what is increasingly apparent is how it will be stymied by supply-chain disruptions that are now showing up at every corner,” it said.

The supply-chain crisis has caused shortages of everything from food and household goods to computer chips, cars, furniture, and electronics. Automakers have repeatedly slashed production goals, while companies like Nike have warned customers products will be harder to find over the holiday season due to the bottlenecks.

Apple may also cut production goals for its iPhone 13, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets agree with Moody’s concerns. In a report this month, the bank analyzed the 22 most influential ports in the world and gauges how long it takes for cargo ships to enter and unload.

They found that 77% of ports have experienced above-average wait times this year. Of the 22 ports, the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach (which are often accounted for as a single port due to their proximity) had the most inefficient wait times of any other top port in the world.

Several tractor trailers wait to depart a port with shipping containers stacked behind them

The turnaround time for a container in the ports nearly doubled in 2021 as compared to averages seen in 2017 through 2019. Turnaround time jumped from 3.6 days to 6.4 days – nearly five days longer than several ports in Asia which operate 24/7.

On Wednesday, the White House announced the Southern California ports would move toward 24/7 operations and the dock workers were working to extend their hours, but Mike Tran, RBC’s managing director for digital intelligence strategy, told Insider extended hours alone will not be enough to solve the issue.

RBC’s data found that the most significant difficulty at Long Beach and Los Angeles ports was the lack of foot traffic which remains 28% below pre-pandemic levels, despite a 30% increase in the goods going through the ports.

“The issue is non-linear,” Tran told Insider. “It’s not just about getting people to work or extending hours. The issue has spread throughout the entire supply chain, each leg of the journey is delayed.”

Outside of port delays and worker shortages, backlogs at warehouses and railroads also add to the delays, which have caused equipment shortages of key items including shipping containers and chassis.

Earlier this month, Gene Seroka, executive director of Port Los Angeles said the issue will not be solved until everyone within the supply chain gets “on the same page” – a near-impossible proposition, considering warehouses and trucking companies are fractured into a multitude of small to mid-sized companies.

The White House also announced on Wednesday that some major chains, including Walmart will extend their working hours to help ease the shipping crisis.

Do you work in the supply chain? Reach out to the reporter from a non-work email at gkay@insider.com

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Southwest Airlines is sending vouchers of up to $250 to passengers stranded by the recent flight chaos, a report says

Southwest flight takes off from Vegas
Southwest said it canceled the flights because of a combination of severe weather and air traffic control issues.

  • Southwest Airlines is issuing vouchers to passengers whose flights were canceled, USA Today reported.
  • Vouchers ranged from $100 to $250, the publication reported. These were on top of refunds.
  • Southwest canceled thousands of flights last weekend because of weather and air traffic control problems.

Southwest Airlines has been handing out vouchers of up to $250 to passengers who were stranded when it canceled more than 3,000 flights last weekend, USA Today first reported.

The airline started emailing affected passengers on Wednesday evening, saying that it would send vouchers, the publication reported.

“We’re so sorry for the disappointment this disruption caused and want a chance to make it up to you,” Southwest said in an email to a customer viewed by USA Today. The airline told the customer it would give them a $100 voucher, per USA Today.

Passengers told USA Today their vouchers had varied between $100 and $250. Passengers who had frequent flyer status or who were persistent in asking for a voucher or reimbursement appeared to get higher-value vouchers, USA Today reported.

The vouchers are in addition to flight refunds, which airlines are mandated to pay when they cancel flights and rebooking options either aren’t available or are rejected by customers.

A Southwest spokesperson told the publication that affected passengers should automatically get their voucher but that it “might be slower than usual due to the number of customers we are processing.”

Passengers told USA Today that in some cases they had to fork out for flights with alternative airlines and extra accommodation after their Southwest flights were canceled. Twitter users made similar remarks, and some said that the Southwest vouchers didn’t cover the extra expenses.

The spokesperson said that Southwest reviewed each case individually, and took into account the length of the delay, the quality of accommodation available, and flight cancellations when determining how much the vouchers would be worth.

Southwest did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Southwest previously said it canceled the flights because of a combination of severe weather and problems with air traffic control. Both the company’s pilots union and the Federal Aviation Administration disputed reports that it had canceled the flights because of staff protests over its vaccine mandate.

The airline is requiring its more than 54,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 24, though staff can apply for disability, medical, and religious exemptions.

Separately, United Airlines said that 232 of its employees were being fired for not complying with its vaccine mandate.

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