Thai Airways, Alaska, AirFrance, quarantines

Thai Airways

Thai Airways faces a serious crisis. Yesterday accountants refused point blank to sign of its accounts for the first half of 2020, saying its losses of US$861 million were so great it lacked the cash liquidity to remain viable.

The airlines shares were immediately suspended on the stock exchange to prevent panic selling and their becoming worthless.

The airline is already in what amounts to bankruptcy protection, which was supposed to have allowed it to restructure. Quite what it’s options are now remains to be seen, but will almost certainly depend on the government doing something to prop it up.

The only alternative is actual bankruptcy and closure, and Thailand would be deeply reluctant to see its national airline fail.


AirFrance

AirFrance is to start the process of refocusing it’s Domestic operations for the short term, as it looks to completely end all but a tiny handful of internal flights by 2024.

Part of its deal with the government for the bailout it received was that all domestic flights should cease as soon as possible and no later than 2024. Exceptions are only where a rail journey exceeds three hours or a road journey (if no rail journey is available as an alternative) exceeds three hours.

Those rules effectively rule out everywhere in mainland France. The French TGV high speed rail system is so widespread that nowhere is more than 4 hours from Paris. Few places are more than an hours drive from an access point to a TGV station.

The only real European domestic area that cannot connect by road and rail is the Island of Corsica in the Mediterranean.

That will permit flights from regional airports like Nice, Toulouse and Lyon, as well as Paris, but the number of flights will be small and could mostly be operated by A319’s.

AirFrance will almost certainly take out a leaf from KLM’s playbook, where KLM started selling train tickets to its nearest short haul destinations instead of flying.

RyanAir and easyJet were quick to say they would offer domestic flights in France, but the government rapidly killed that off by applying it to all airlines.

AirFrance was already dropping the regional Hop! branding to a sub-label, but looks set to end it completely now.


Alaska

Alaska Airlines is looking to establish September as a key point in returning to service, with 50% of its 2019 flights operating.

It expects to have the largest operating network into and out of Seattle, with plans to continue to expand operations.

The ongoing problem is the levels of uncertainty – passengers are still showing extreme nervousness about flying as the Trump administration does absolutely nothing to mitigate Covid19’s spread, leaving it to individual states to manage in a haphazard and unscientific manner in several cases.

Delta said yesterday that all airlines now banned masks with vents and that 193 passengers had been placed on a banned list for life for not wearing face masks.


Quarantines need to end and be replaced with certification and testing

European governments are being asked to rapidly replace blanket quarantines with effective rapid testing and certification, so that 14 day quarantines like those introduced today by the U.K. on returnees from France, Malta and the Netherlands, can be prevented.

Airlines are already facing upheavals in schedules and demand, then the need for refunds, as these quarantines become imposed, usually with little more than 36 hours notice.

The bans also take no notice of the facts that many Covid outbreaks are in small areas and not always national, so many travellers are perfectly safe.

Airport rapid testing, or pre-certified medical travel approvals would go a long way to restoring safe and reliable travel.