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May 24, 2021



Today's Top Stories


Ryanair Aircraft Forced to Divert to Minsk, Belarus

A Ryanair flight between Greece and Lithuania was escorted to Belarus by a fighter jet yesterday due to an alleged bomb scare. No explosives were found, but journalist Roman Protasevich was escorted off the flight and detained before the aircraft was allowed to continue its journey. Belta, the state-owned news agency in Belarus, said the country’s president Alexander Lukashenko ordered the plane to land in the nation’s capital, Minsk, and approved the dispatch of the fighter jet. ICAO said the forced landing could be "in contravention of the Chicago Convention," which sets out rules on airspace and aircraft safety.

BBC | Related Belarus KGB believed to be on plane forced to land in Minsk, says Ryanair CEO – The Guardian



United Sweepstake Encourages Vaccinations, American Expands VeriFLY Use

US-based Mileage Plus members can enter United’s "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstake to win free flights for a year by uploading their vaccination records to the carrier's Travel-Ready Center via its website or mobile app. "We're proud to do our part to incentivize people to get their shot," said United’s CEO, Scott Kirby. Elsewhere, American Airlines passengers traveling to the Bahamas, El Salvador or Guatemala can use the VeriFLY app to validate their vaccination certificates. All three destinations are open to vaccinated visitors with no testing requirements. 

United | Related American Airlines expands Verifly app for vaccination documentation – Travel Weekly



FAA Plans to Downgrade Mexico’s Aviation Safety Rating

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is allegedly preparing to downgrade Mexico’s aviation safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2. The FAA said downgrades mean a country’s aviation authority is deficient in areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping and inspection procedures. As a result, Mexican carriers will no longer be allowed to add new US flights to their networks, and any marketing agreements with US carriers will face new limitations. In 2010, the FAA downgraded Mexico to Category 2, but restored its top rating approximately four months later. 

CNBC | Related Mexico’s Interjet Approves Entering Bankruptcy Proceedings – Simple Flying



Industry Leaders Take Stock of Air Travel’s Recovery

The opening session at FTE APEX Virtual Expo tomorrow will see BBC Global News presenter Zeinab Badawi host a panel discussion exploring the steps that need to be taken to ensure a strong recovery for air travel from COVID-19. From vaccine inequity to digital health passports and the collaboration between airlines and airports at "granular level," APEX Media highlights the key points of conversation between oneworld CEO Rob Gurney, APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader, and Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director general at ACI World. 

APEX Media | Related Register for FTE APEX Virtual Expo



JetBlue Partners with The Gotham to Showcase Student Films

For the second year running, JetBlue will feature five winning films from The Gotham’s Student Short Film Showcase on a dedicated channel within its in-flight entertainment system. Elizabeth Windram, JetBlue’s VP Marketing, commented, “We are excited to continue to offer a runway for the next generation of student filmmakers, and provide our customers with ... in-flight entertainment that includes not only the latest blockbusters but also up-and-coming student films that make our entertainment curated and something you won’t find anywhere else.” The films will be available from June 1. 

The Gotham | Related Southwest Airlines partners with Sundance Film Festival – Inflight Online



Virgin Galactic Completes First Human Spaceflight from Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic has completed its third spaceflight, which also marked the first from Spaceport America in New Mexico. VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve, and reached space at an altitude of 55.45 miles. The flight collected data that will be used in two final verification reports required as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license. Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic’s CEO, said, “I am incredibly proud of our talented team for making the dream of private space travel a reality.”  




Delta Creates Exclusive IPA with SweetWater Brewing Company

Delta has partnered with Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Company to reimagine the latter’s H.A.Z.Y. IPA so it can be enjoyed at 35,000 feet. The resulting beverage, Elevated H.A.Z.Y. IPA, features more hops for an added punch of citrus that helps overcome the ways smell and taste are subdued by altitude and humidity. It will be available to passengers on domestic US flights in time for Memorial Day weekend. “We know how a taste of something out of the ordinary – something created just for that moment – can elevate the journey,” said Mike Crowley, Delta’s VP Onboard Service Operations.

Delta | Related Four Pillars Has Teamed Up with Qantas On a New Aussie Gin That Celebrates the Airline's Centenary – Concrete Playground





An All Nippon Airways Boeing 737 at Tokyo Haneda Airport. Captured by @keisuke7g.

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Association News

Exclusive Turkish Airlines Interview to Take Place at FTE APEX Virtual Expo

During FTE APEX Virtual EXPO, APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader is to host an exclusive interview with M. İlker Aycı, Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee at Turkish Airlines. The interview will see Aycı share his perspective on the aviation industry's recovery from COVID-19 and Turkish Airlines' future ambitions in line with the event’s theme, "Relaunching Global Air Transport." Register now. 


> Quote of the Day

“The adage “plan for the worst and prepare for the best” is certainly relevant.”

Rob Gurney, oneworld
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Until tomorrow



The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) encompasses a network of airlines, businesses and professionals that are committed to providing a world-class airline experience for passengers around the globe. Every day, APEX members are improving every aspect of the airline experience, from designing, building and installing seating, entertainment and communications systems on commercial aircraft, to airport lounges and in-flight dining. Visit apex.aero for more information. APEX is professionally managed by Kellen Company, the premier global association management firm with offices and representation in the United States, Europe, China, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.


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