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On the Go – October 15, 2020

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October 15, 2020

Industry News – Click on the title to read the full article. Many of the sources below require a free registration to gain access to the article. If a paid registration is required, the individual source will be noted.

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DOD Study: Low Risk of COVID-19 Exposure on Aircraft (Source: Good Morning America)
A new study conducted by the Department of Defense in partnership with United Airlines evaluated the risk of COVID-19 exposure onboard an aircraft when masks are worn. Technicians ran 300 tests over six months with mannequins to reproduce breathing and coughing to determine how particles move within the cabin. The study concluded that when masks are worn, there is a 0.003% chance that particles from a passenger can enter the breathing space of passengers sitting next to them. Additionally, “99.99% of those particles left the interior of the aircraft within six minutes,” which “indicates that being on board an aircraft is the safest indoor public space, because of the unique configuration inside an aircraft that includes aggressive ventilation, lots of airflow,” United’s Josh Earnest said.

American Eases Path to Elite Frequent Flyer Status (Source: The Points Guy)
American Airlines is making it easier to qualify for elite frequent flyer status in 2021 by lowering requirements and counting activity in the fourth quarter of 2020 toward next year. “We realize this year has been challenging for our members, so we’re happy to provide more ways to achieve more rewards,” said AAdvantage President Rick Elieson.

Delta to Retire More Jets in Fleet Restructuring (Source: The Business Journals)
Delta Air Lines will retire an additional 150 Boeing jets and restructure its pending orders from Airbus. “The actions we are taking now to take care of our people, simplify our fleet, improve the customer experience and strengthen our brand will allow Delta to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery,” CEO Ed Bastian said.

American Moving to New Beijing Airport (Source: FreightWaves)
When American Airlines restarts passenger service to Beijing in late March, it will move its operations to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport. American will continue to operate cargo-only flights to Beijing Capital International Airport until then.

Southwest Partners With Sanford on Health Protocols (Source: TravelPulse)
Southwest Airlines has partnered with the Stanford University School of Medicine to provide recommendations on health and safety protocols, the airline announced in a blog post. “We look forward to working with Stanford Medicine as we continue utilizing a science-based approach to develop and bolster our operational policies and practices during the ongoing pandemic,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said.

Delta Air Lines Will Stop Blocking Middle Seats in First Half of Next Year (Source: Travelmarket Report)
On Delta Air Lines’ third quarter earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Ed Bastian said that Delta is anticipating ending its policy of blocking the middle seat on flights in the first half of 2021. Delta, which has kept the policy longer than most other airlines, will change its policy as consumer confidence in air travel returns and it is able to begin filling its planes once again.

Southwest Expands to Larger Airports in Chicago, Houston (Source: USA Today)
Southwest Airlines will begin service at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and Chicago’s O’Hare, while providing service at Midway and Hobby airports, where the airline currently serves the same cities. “It’s very common for us to serve multiple airports in the same city, we just had not been able to previously,” said Southwest chief commercial officer Andrew Watterson, but “extra aircraft, reduced activity in these airports” has made the expansion possible.

Airlines Restructuring And Rapid Testing Before Flights – What The New Normal For Aviation Could Look Like (Source: Channel News Asia)
After getting battered this year by COVID-19 travel restrictions, experts say the commercial aviation sector could look very different as it tries to build a post-pandemic future. “The global airline industry is facing an unprecedented crisis and airlines are in survival mode. Many airlines will not have the financial means to survive an indefinite shutdown that, for many, already exceeds a half-year,” International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Asia Pacific corporate communications assistant director Albert Tjoeng told CNA.


TSA Airport Screenings Hit Highest Count Since April (Source: TravelPulse)
The Transportation Security Administration screened 984,354 people at airports on Oct. 11, the highest number since April 14. However, that is still less than half the number screened on the same day in 2019, when 2.55 million people passed through TSA checkpoints.

General Interest

U.S. Officials Looking to Open New York-London Travel By Holidays (Source: Travelmarket Report)
U.S. officials are aiming to open travel between New York City and London with shortened traveler quarantine periods as soon as the holidays. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation are in the early stages of developing so-called “safe travel corridors” between the U.S. and certain international destinations, thanks to the growing availability of COVID-19 tests in the U.S.


Airports Become Test Grounds For Thermal Imaging (Source: Government Technology Online)
Airports have become the cutting-edge testing ground for technology like thermal imaging as they look for ways to provide an additional layer of protection. “We really wanted to take a proactive approach in making sure we were doing everything we can for our employees and passengers,” said Marissa Sanchez, interim assistant director at Dallas Love Field Airport.

Memphis Airport Renovations Stay on Schedule (Source: The Business Journals)
Memphis International Airport’s $245 million terminal improvement project remains on schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic. Exterior work is nearing completion and the project’s focus has shifted to finishing the interior and mechanical systems.


Edgy Hotel Zena Offers D.C. Visitors Rooms With A View (Source: WTOP-FM)
A large portrait of the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sets the tone for the newly opened Zena Hotel in Washington, D.C., the decor and programing of which promote female empowerment. “We know we’re pushing boundaries and might even make some people uncomfortable, and we’re OK with that.” says Jon Bortz, CEO of owner Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.

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