The U.S. departments of State, Transportation and Commerce are reviewing allegations that three Middle Eastern carriers
are receiving an unfair competitive edge via government subsidies and benefits. A coalition that includes American Airlines,
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have asked the U.S. government to review its
Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates after compiling a
detailing $42 billion in what they called subsidies and unfair
benefits to Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. The three Gulf carriers
the U.S. carriers' claims. In a joint statement, the three U.S. agencies indicated
that they on Monday would begin accepting public comments on the matter, noting
that they "take
seriously the concerns raised in the report and [are] interested in receiving
insights and feedback from stakeholders before any decisions are made regarding
what action, if any, should be taken."
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has upgraded India's aviation safety assessment rating to Category 1,
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Wednesday. The rating gives Indian carriers the green light to add flights to the United States and to codeshare with U.S. carriers. FAA in 2012 downgraded India's rating to Category 2 after an audit revealed deficiencies in its civil aviation regulatory body, but a recent reassessment showed the nation was compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, according to FAA.
The number of international air passengers traveling in premium classes worldwide in January increased by a "weak" 2.6 percent year over year,
according to the International Air Transport Association. IATA noted the "growth trend in premium international travel has flattened over the past several months," citing a "gradual slowdown in improvements in business confidence" in the second half of 2014, "with economic conditions in the eurozone and China deteriorating." Yet, IATA indicated the latest data suggested "signs of a pickup in business confidence in the eurozone and U.S., which could help ease some of the downward pressure on business-related international air travel." The largest percentage growth in January premium traffic occurred on Middle East-Far East (12.3 percent), Mid Atlantic (11 percent) and Europe-Middle East (10.2 percent) routes. Premium traffic on the heavily traveled North Atlantic, which connects North America and Europe, rose 3.7 percent year over year in January. International economy traffic, meanwhile, was up 3.8 percent year over year in January, according to IATA data.
The global jet accident rate in 2014 reached an all-time low, although the number of passenger fatalities for the year was above average, the International Air Transport Association reported on Monday.
In 2014, the global commercial aviation industry had an accident rate, defined as an accident in which the aircraft was damaged beyond repair, of about one per 4.4 million flights, compared with one per 2.4 million flights the year prior. However, fatalities in 2014 totaled 641, compared with 210 in 2013 and a five-year average of 517, according to IATA. The fatality count for 2014 includes the 239 passengers and crewmembers aboard the still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but not those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over the Ukraine in July; the latter event was not classified as an accident.
Lufthansa will introduce a three-tier fare structure for European international routes and domestic Germany routes, the carrier announced this week.
The structure, available for sale this summer for service beginning in the fall, will include the Light fare, which has no checked baggage allowance and no rebooking and does not let travelers select seats until 23 hours before departure; the Classic fare, which allows one free checked bag, rebooking for a fee and seat selection upon booking; and the Flex fare, which allows rebooking and is refundable for a fee. By the third quarter of this year, Lufthansa also plans to complete a €1.5 billion retrofit of its long-haul aircraft fleet, and its Premium Economy class by year-end will be available on all intercontinental flights, according to the carrier.
Airberlin during the next two years will add a discounted pricing tier for short- and medium-haul flights as part of its turnaround plan.
The carrier announced on Thursday that as of May 5, those flights will include a low-cost JustFly fare that allows for no checked bags. Airberlin also plans to introduce Airberlin Business Benefits, a brand specific to business travel offerings that will include a corporate product allowing for change-fee waivers in certain fare classes. It also will add a corporate rate plan and a booking platform for corporate travelers. In addition, the carrier in May will begin putting together several customer advisory boards, which will include corporate clients and travel agencies.