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  • The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN body responsible for aviation, has agreed to ease airlines’ obligations to offset their emissions growth until at least 2023. The decision postpones the date airlines have to start paying for carbon credits to offset a portion of their climate impact.
  • Hawaiian Airlines will resume flights to Pago Pago, American Samoa on August 5. However international flights are subject to border restrictions and to change based on COVID-19 containment.
  • Air France plans to introduce a third weekly flight from Paris to Papeete from early August. Air Tahiti Nui has now resumed its Paris service however Air New Zealand says at this stage, its Papeete flights are suspended until 24 October.
  • Meanwhile Air Tahiti has reversed a decision to cut its network, and for now says it will continue to fly to all 46 destinations on its route map. It had earlier said it would fly to just 20 destinations. The government will provide a US$4 million subsidy for those routes which normally rely on the tourist trade.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands (CAASI) building at the Henderson Airport in East Honiara burnt to the ground early July. At the time of printing, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication & Civil Aviation Moses Virovolomo said the cause of the fire was unknown, although there were signs the compound fence had been cut. The office regulates the safety, compliance, security at the airport.
  • Fiji Airways is recruiting for up to 30 “customer wellness champions”. The new roles require people with medical qualifications. The airline says it is part of its preparations to resume flights under strict health and medical conditions. The officers will lead the airline’s medical response on the ground and in the air. Fiji Airways has laid off 758 people due to COVID19.
  • Taiwan-based airline, EVA Airways may operate twice-weekly flights between Taiwan and Palau. Taiwan’s transport ministry is reviewing EVA’s application, although a launch date will depend on how the epidemic unfolds and real market demand. It is anticipated Palau’s COVID-free status will be a big drawcard for Taiwanese travellers.
  • Eight Pacific civil aviation authorities have participated in an expert airport runway safety training webinar organised by the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO). The training was designed to prepare the authorities and airports for mandatory International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) runway condition reporting requirements, ahead of a worldwide implementation deadline of 5 Nov 2020.
  • Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States have completed certification flights for the Boeing 737 MAX. Over three days, FAA test pilots, and engineers, evaluated Boeing’s proposed changes in connection with the automated flight control system on the aircraft. The FAA still needs to issue airworthiness certificates and approve training programs related to the aircraft before it can fly again. Fiji Airways was flying two 737 Max before grounding them in March 2019 following fatal accidents involving the same model in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
  • Air Terminal Services (Fiji) PTE Ltd has advertised 106 positions, just a week after terminating the contracts of 285 workers. ATS human resources manager Richard Donaldson had stated the company would introduce a daily fixed-term employment contract. The Federated Airlines Staff Association unsuccessfully sought an injunction against the workers’ termination, with the court saying the ATS exercised its contractual and statutory rights by giving two weeks’ notice of termination.
  • Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands will receive a share of airport safety and infrastructure grants the US Federal Government is awarding through the Federal Aviation Administration. The funds are earmarked to improve infrastructure and strengthen safety measures.
  • Qantas’ international services will not return until mid-2021 says CEO Alan Joyce. The Australian carrier has laid off 20% (some 6000 people) of its workforce and grounded most of its international fleet.
  • Mount Hagen, PNG-based MAF is preparing to fly to rural airstrips in the country once they are surveyed and given safety clearance. All passengers will need to wear masks (2000 of which have been sewn and supplied to the airline) and will have their temperatures checked before boarding and after disembarking from MAF planes.
  • Labasa airport in Fiji’s north is undergoing upgrading and maintenance work so domestic carrier Fiji Link has cancelled all flights in and out of the destination until August 4. Passengers can change their bookings to fly to Savusavu airport as an alternative.

The Shipping News

  • Kiribati will receive a US$12 million grant to help improve the safety and resilience of inter-island transport in the western Gilbert Group. In 2018 the MV Butiraoi sank on its voyage from Nonouti in the Gilberts to the capital. 88 people died. Now the Asian Development Program and World Bank are funding navigation aids and infrastructure, including jetties, boat ramps and shelters.
  • Matson has christened a second Kanaloa Class container/roll-on, roll off ship. The Matsonia will operate on Matson’s Pacific routes and will help “drive substantial economic benefits in and opportunities in communities around the Pacific” says the company.
  • Tonga’s first Joint Maritime Coordination Centre has been launched, providing a central coordination point for all maritime operations within Tongan waters. It has been outfitted with equipment worth $75,000 pa’anga (US$32,457)  from His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF), Customs, Fisheries and Police.
  • Port Denarau Marina has reduced its operations as a result of the pandemic. In a notice to shareholders, the Marina says all capital projects have been put on hold, but that the PDM Board is confident it can sustain minimal operations for several months without having to extend any existing financing. PDM will consider a 50% reduction in rent for all commercial operations on a month-to-month basis. Boatyard, fuel and private vessel operations continue on a limited basis.
  • Cook Islands ship owners will not have to pay any registration fees this year or next. The Ship Owners’ Association has agreed to subsidise the registration fees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We hope that this small gesture will ease some of the financial burden, during these trying and most uncertain times,” Chief Executive Eleanor Roi said.

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  • International Civil Aviation Organisation Secretary General Dr Fang Liuhas says regional cooperation will be critical to air transport recovery post COVID-19. “For your recoveries to be truly successful, your goal should be to assure not only your State’s local recovery, but also the recoveries of your neighbours and their neighbours,” Dr Liuhas told the Pacific Islands Directors General of Civil Aviation meeting. She cautioned countries against going-it-alone, noting that “if a common set of goals is not established among all the stakeholders being negatively impacted by COVID-19, the strength we normally derive from our diversity could quickly devolve into unhelpful duplication and inefficiencies.”
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts airlines to lose $84.3 billion in 2020, with a net profit margin of -20 per cent. Revenues will fall 50%, down to $419 billion from the $838 billion seen in 2019. Next year, losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion. “Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation,” IATA says.
  • The future of Cook Islands government subsidies for Air New Zealand are under scrutiny reports the Cook Islands News. The government “underwrites” Air New Zealand’s return flights to Rarotonga at the cost of US$7.7 million annually. Since the COVID-19 shutdown these payments have been suspended. The original arrangement was to be in place until 2022.  Flights to Los Angeles and Sydney are also part of the deal.
  • Real Tonga Airlines is on the brink of bankruptcy says Tonga’s finance minister, Tevita Lavermaau. The airline owes lease fees for two aircraft provided by China to service domestic routes, as well as landing fees to the government. Minister Lavemaau claims the airline has been operating at a loss since it was established seven years ago. Owner Tevita Palu has asked for more support, telling Matangi Tonga that the government’s declaration that it would set up another airline is “ridiculous”.
  • Air Kiribati has resumed domestic flights, but using only its Twin Otter aircraft. The airline says all islands will be serviced by this flight.

For more transport news, get the June edition of Islands Business.