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Juruterbang Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Kapten Hamdan Che Ismail dam Kapten Samsurin merupakan antara orang penting di sebalik ketibaan vaksin pertama Covid-19 kerana bertanggungjawab menerbangkan pesawat penumpang Airbus A330-300 ke Malaysia pagi tadii.

Kedua juruterbang tersebut menerbangkan pesawat berkenaan yang membawa kumpulan pertama vaksin Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech membabitkan 312,390 dos ke Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) jam 10 pagi tadi.

Sementara itu, Kapten Hamdan berkata, beliau amat terharu kerana dipilih menjadi sebahagian daripada sejarah negara pada hari ini.

"Saya berbangga kerana diberi kepercayaan untuk menerbangkan pesawat yang membawa kumpulan pertama vaksin Covid-19 sekali gus menjadi sebahagian daripada detik bersejarah yang ditunggu rakyat Malaysia," katanya.

Hamdan berkata, beliau dimaklumkan mengenai tugasan penting berkenaan oleh pihak atasan pada minggu lalu.

"Dalam penerbangan ini, saya dibantu Kapten Mohd Samsurin Mohd Mustafa bersama dua anak kapal, seorang juruteknik serta seorang 'senior manager' MasKargo sebelum berlepas dari KLIA ke Singapura jam 6 pagi tadi.

"Kami tiba di Singapura jam 7 pagi sebelum kerja-kerja pemindahan vaksin ke dalam pesawat dan berlepas dari negara berkenaan jam 9 pagi tadi," katanya ketika dihubungi Harian Metro, hari ini.

Hamdan yang berasal dari Tumpat, Kelantan berkata, tiada persiapan khusus dilakukannya untuk menerbangkan pesawat berkenaan, hari ini.

"Penerbangan ini sama sahaja seperti penerbangan lain. Namun, ada sedikit rasa bimbang ketika menerbangkan pesawat ini tadi kerana vaksin berkenaan mempunyai jangka hayat tersendiri serta suhu perlu sentiasa dipastikan pada paras rendah.

"Bagaimanapun, saya tidak terlalu memikirkan perkara itu memandangkan jarak penerbangan ini adalah dekat selain jumlah vaksin yang dibawa bukan jumlah besar," katanya.

Menurutnya, beliau berasa gembira kerana menjadi sebahagian daripada pihak yang terbabit dalam penghantaran kumpulan pertama vaksin terbabit.

"Saya anggap tugasan ini sebagai peluang untuk saya memberikan sumbangan dalam peristiwa bersejarah ini.

"Ia sekali gus membolehkan saya merasai perasaan membawa sesuatu yang berharga kepada seluruh rakyat Malaysia," katanya.

Vaksin Pfizer-BioNTech itu diterbangkan menggunakan pesawat Airbus 330-300 dikendalikan MABkargo Sdn Bhd (MASKargo) dari kilang Pfizer di Belgium, dengan penerbangan membawa vaksin itu berlepas dari Puurs dan transit di Lapangan Terbang Leipzig Halle, Jerman.

Kedatangan vaksin tersebut diyakini akan membuka lembaran baru di negara dengan penganalisis meramalkan kegiatan ekonomi akan kembali pulih pada pertengahan tahun ini.

Sementara itu, Malaysia mengekalkan polisi memberi dua dos vaksin Covid-19 bagi menambah keberkesanan dan mereka yang menerima suntikan itu akan diberi pasport khas.
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Malaysia's national carrier Malaysia Airlines and the long-haul unit of AirAsia Group, AirAsia X, have both cut staff members and announced restructuring plans. - Pix CNA

Airlines in Malaysia could take three years to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on the outbreak in the country and abroad, the transport ministry said.

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said earlier this week that in the Malaysian Aviation Commission's (MAVCOM) revised projections for passenger traffic this year, it expects passenger numbers to shrink as much as 75.6 per cent to 26.6 million, compared with the 109.2 million passengers recorded in 2019.

Airlines industries are expected to need a period of three years to fully recover the situation from the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, subject to the of the outbreak in the country and abroad," Wee said in a written parliamentary reply as reportyer by Channel News Asia

Airlines globally have taken a hit from the pandemic as governments shut borders and grounded flights to contain the spread of the virus.

MAVCOM first revised lower its 2020 passenger traffic forecast in June, expecting a contraction of as much as 50.3 per cent, to 54.3 million passengers.

Wee said passenger demand had fallen from 280,321 a day in January to 59,378 a day in September, adding that the ministry continued to work with the Tourism Ministry and airlines to increase the public's confidence to use aviation services to revive the domestic tourism sector.

For international tourism, he said the ministry "welcomes the government's efforts to implement the concept of travel bubbles to some countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Japan".

Malaysia's national carrier Malaysia Airlines and the long-haul unit of AirAsia Group, AirAsia X, have both cut staff members and announced restructuring plans.

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If you bought the RM399 AirAsia Unlimited pass for domestic travel within Malaysia, here’s some good news for you. 

The low-cost carrier has announced that it’s extending the travel period for the unlimited pass from 31st March to 30th June 2021.

According to AirAsia, the extension is meant to provide customers a chance to get the most value from their unlimited pass when interstate travel is permitted. 

Due to the current movement control order, interstate travel is not allowed until further notice. All states except for certain areas of Sarawak are placed under MCO until 4th February 2021.

Apart from the Unlimited Pass Cuti-Cuti Malaysia, AirAsia had earlier extended the travel period for RM499 AirAsia X Unlimited Pass until 30th June 2021. 

There’s no further extension yet for the international pass and realistically, it looks like international tourism will be put on hold for an extended period of time based on the global situation. 

Singapore has recently announced that it will suspend reciprocal green lane arrangements with several countries including Malaysia starting from 1st February due to the surge of new COVID-19 cases worldwide.

With COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide, proof of vaccination may soon be made a requirement for international travel.

The move to require COVID-19 jabs was suggested by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has also shared the same view.

 To speed up verification process, Singapore Airlines has started trials of a digital health verification solution where COVID-19 test results and vaccination status of passengers can be checked quickly via QR code.

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AirAsia Teleport center KLIA2 - Pix NSTP

Teleport Commerce Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the logistics venture of AirAsia digital, has been granted as a forwarding agent by the Malaysian Customs Department.

Teleport is now able to digitally enable customs clearance for any shipper or recipient for its bulk or e-commerce delivery services.

Utilising technology that was built to replace the traditional manual processes of competitors, Teleport can now provide Customs Department with accurate, fast and reliable declarations on all types of shipment.

They can also advise shippers and recipients with regards to customs requirements for cross border shipments as Teleport acts as a digital forwarder between customers and the Malaysian Customs Department.

Teleport digital forwarding manager Chen Wei Kiat said the company is excited to be providing customers with a revolutionary customs clearance experience.

"What this means is lower cost and faster delivery for customers from anywhere in Southeast Asia as Teleport services will be end-to-end.

"We are also digitalising the process by using technology for the whole import and export experience to be seamless for both the shipper and recipients. Our technology is built in-house as we aim to be a digital logistics solution provider," he said in a statement today.

Founded in 2018, Teleport is a venture under AirAsia Digital, building out the cargo and logistics ambitions for AirAsia.
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An American Airlines passenger jet glides in under the moon as it lands at LaGuardia airport in New York, New York, August 28, 2012. - Pix Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

American Airlines Group Inc and Southwest Airlines Co posted their biggest-ever annual losses on Thursday and indicated a need for additional government aid as the industry continues to reel from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. airlines expect demand to improve this year as vaccines become more widely distributed but have warned that the strength of any rebound will depend on the pace of vaccine rollouts and the easing of travel restrictions.

JetBlue Airways, which also posted a quarterly loss on Thursday, said a recovery will be directly linked to a decline in COVID-19 case counts.

Still, the shares of those three airlines surged in early trading, boosted by a retail trading frenzy that pushed stock of American - which is the most heavily shorted airline stock - up as much as 32% after the carrier was mentioned on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum.

American posted an $8.9 billion annual loss, its biggest on record, though its adjusted quarterly net loss of $3.86 per share was better than analysts’ expectations for a loss of $4.11 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Total operating revenue fell to $4.03 billion from $11.31 billion but topped analysts’ expectations of $3.88 billion.

Southwest reported an annual loss of $3.1 billion, its first annual loss since 1972, and said it was facing stalled demand in January and February, driven by high levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

So far the U.S. vaccine rollout has been patchy and a string of European countries is discouraging travel and implementing more travel curbs in an attempt to contain the spread of new infections.

The United States on Tuesday began requiring negative COVID-19 tests for people entering the country from abroad, including U.S. citizens, a move that airlines said triggered a decline in bookings, even as they continue to view testing as a necessary strategy to reopen travel over the longer term.

The U.S. government has discussed mandatory COVID-19 testing for travelers on domestic flights, but American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker said such testing would be difficult. - Reuters
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Acting US defense secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore two years ago. (Reuters pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will resume hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit this year after it was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers and the city state’s government said.

This year’s event is scheduled to be held on June 4 to June 6.

A spokesman for organiser International Institute for Strategic Studies declined to comment on the expected format or number of attendees.

“The Shangri-La Dialogue will resume this year, as more effective safety measures are in place and vaccinations ongoing,” Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a social media post.

The event has typically attracted top level military officials, diplomats and weapons makers from around the globe since its launch in 2002.

A preliminary meeting to discuss defence and security issues ahead of the summit started on Monday, with local delegates meeting at a downtown hotel and others joining virtually.

Singapore is also aiming to host the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in late May after it was moved from its usual home in the Swiss ski resort of Davos over virus safety fears. - Reuters
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SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines Ltd has set up pre-departure coronavirus tests for passengers through its booking platforms as part of efforts to revive travel demand destroyed by the pandemic.

People flying from Singapore as well as those travelling to the city-state from Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia can take tests at clinics and get results within 36 hours.

If negative, they can be used for travel, according to a statement from Collinson Group, which is working with Singapore Airlines on the programme.

The trial service began Tuesday and is due to run until mid-March. Collinson said it has performed more than 90,000 Covid-19 tests for travellers in partnership with airlines and several UK airports, including London Heathrow.

“Our partnership with Singapore Airlines helps to enable the safe reopening of key routes for travellers and is another step forward in our aim to achieve the long-term, safe return of global travel,” Collinson Asia Pacific President Todd Handcock said in the statement.

“To restore confidence in travel, the implementation of safe and robust testing protocols remains key.”

Like other carriers, Singapore Airlines has been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly so as it doesn’t have a domestic market to fall back on while border restrictions eviscerate international travel.

Its passenger numbers slumped 82% in 2020. The airline started marketing its first-ever dollar bond last week to shore up its cash position. - Bloomberg
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Malaysia Airlines and all subsidiaries under MAG will not be impacted by the ongoing restructuring. - Foto FMT KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), the parent company of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, has successfully obtained approval from a UK court to proceed with a major component of its debt restructuring, following the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry globally. In a statement, MAG said its aircraft leasing subsidiary, MAB Leasing Ltd (MABL), had on Dec 23 last year, issued a Practice Statement Letter to certain groups of its creditors notifying them of the company’s intention to file a scheme of arrangement under Part 26 of the UK Companies Act 2006. The convening hearing was then held as scheduled on Jan 20, 2021, and the Court has approved MABL to convene a meeting of creditors to consider the proposed scheme. The outcome of the meetings will be reported back to the court at the sanction hearing set for Feb 22, 2021. - BERNAMA