KlasJet, an Avia Solutions Group private jet charter company, took on what it said was one of its “most demanding assignments” when it repatriated a group of Covid-19 positive workers from Ghana to South Korea. The mission lasted five days and required 10 flights—including aircraft repositioning and overfly permissions from 14 countries on three continents, crew positioning and safe accommodation, and Covid testing.
The Coronavirus impact on the aviation Industry
As business optimism improves and business aviation prepares for a post-pandemic rebound, lingering issues surrounding supply chain threaten to slow progress and hamper a full recovery, industry leaders agree.
Business optimism has reached levels not seen since the 2003 to 2007 timeframe, according to Rolland Vincent, JetNet iQ creator/director and president of Rolland Vincent Associates. Speaking during a recent National Air Transportation Association webinar, he added that economic signs were very encouraging and some forecasts suggest “rocketship-like” acceleration.
The latest data collected by the International Air Transport Association shows that more than 20 countries have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travelers, reflecting what IATA called data- and evidence-driven decision making. The association supports unrestricted access to travel for vaccinated travelers and quarantine-free travel for unvaccinated individuals cleared through free-of-charge Covid testing.
Business aviation traffic jumped dramatically, but not surprisingly, year-over-year (YOY) in April, reaching triple-digit-percentage increases in both the U.S. and Europe, even as it ebbed in both regions over March operations, according to just-released TraqPak data from aviation research specialist Argus International.
In a move that had been requested by general aviation organizations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has agreed to permit the use of Covid-19 home test kits as a means of complying with pre-departure testing requirements for passengers bound for the U.S.
With nearly 5,000 Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace employees in India, parent company Raytheon Technologies (RTX) is donating 1,000 oxygen concentrators through the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum as the country deals with a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
The aviation maintenance industry is showing signs of a post-pandemic recovery while concerns about a technician shortage are renewed, according to results of an Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) survey. The February-March survey of 116 U.S. companies representing 196 FAA repair stations showed a 15.6 percent year-over-year decline in workers, from 22,952 in January 2020 to 19,360 in January 2021.
NBAA praised a recent move by the U.S. State Department to permit international aircrew into the U.S. for the purposes of training, aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance. The State Department this month provided exceptions from Covid-19 restrictions affecting international travel from certain regions for individuals traveling on B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visas, or through the Visa Waiver Program, NBAA said.
The business aviation market is starting to rapidly take off, but looming talent shortages and supplier issues cast uncertainty on that recovery, business aviation experts said on Wednesday during a National Air Transportation Association webinar, “Air Charter Roundtable: Maximizing Fleet Utilization in a Complex Market.” NorthStar Group managing director Craig Picken noted how 2020 brought “mediocre” results, but mid-January “was like a light switch went on and all of the sudden it came back. For me, 2021 has been on fire. Everyone wants it and wants it now.”
This week, the CDC and FDA recommended a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine after reports surfaced of rare but serious blood clots in some recipients. These clots have occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and most typically between six and 13 days after vaccination. While rare—less than one case per million doses given—the pause in the use of the vaccine is prudent.
To date, the FAA has not changed its guidance for pilots on the use of the J&J vaccine. Likely it is simply waiting for the CDC and FDA to make final rulings, and since the J&J vaccine is not being administered presently, there is no urgent need for the FAA to revise its internal guidance just yet.
Certainly, nobody wants to be the unlucky person to experience a serious side effect. While we all must make risk/benefit decisions for everything we do in life, if we know of a serious risk we should try to mitigate it before proceeding with the activity. Hence, it is time to determine what the risk actually is with the J&J vaccine.
I remain a strong advocate for the efficacy of vaccinations in preventing serious complications of diseases. I also support this pause until it can be determined if it is indeed causing the noted blood clots and how to best treat them if they do occur.