Scenic Group says shipyard begins work on its second expedition ship

The Scenic Group said that construction on the Scenic Eclipse II has begun this week in Croatia with a steel-cutting ceremony for the second of five ships planned for the company’s oceangoing fleet.

Its sister ship, the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse, launched in August as the first expedition vessel to have its own fleet of two helicopters as well as a submarine.

Scenic said that as of now “work is being done on a situational basis” and that there is no set delivery or launch date at this point.

MKM Yachts, a new company wholly owned by the Scenic Group, is now in charge of construction of all of its ocean ships. The Scenic Eclipse was delayed more than a year due to multiple issues at Croatia’s Uljanik shipyard, including worker strikes, financial malfeasance, management turnover and frozen bank accounts, Scenic said. Last year, Scenic invested in Uljanik to help complete the ship. MKM Yachts said that under an agreement with the Croatian government it will operate its shipbuilding in a dedicated section of the existing Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka. 

Scenic has two other ships under construction: Emerald Waterways’ first ocean ship, the Emerald Azzurra, and the Emerald Luna, a river vessel. 

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Airline Investor Says Airlines May Need More Aid

Major airlines have accepted a share in the $25 billion Payroll Support Program to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, but according to longtime discount-airline investor Bill Franke, the airlines will need more government aid and health checks for travelers to get through the crisis.

Franke, founder and managing partner of private-equity firm Indigo Partners, which owns Frontier Airlines, believes a quick turnaround is unlikely, even after air travel resumes in full. Franke is also a major investor in three other budget carriers in Europe and Latin America.

“Revenue is depressed across those regions,” he said.

By accepting a portion of the $25 billion in government aid, the airlines have agreed that the government is included in the carriers’ decision making. Some of the government requirements include not furloughing or cutting the pay of nearly 750,000 airline workers through September 30 and deferring to the Department of Transportation to cut services to particular destinations. According to Franke, additional aid may be necessary.

Frontier Airlines, for example, will receive a share of the $25 billion package, but will also apply for a loan from a separate $25 billion pool of aid that Congress approved last month in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

“We’re going to face as much as a year or two of recovery,” Franke said, adding that it’s “pretty clear that there’s going to have to be additional aid to the sector” without signs of a rebound this Fall. Air travel in the U.S. alone has dropped more than 95 percent.

According to CNBC, Franke states that another problem airlines will face after the pandemic subsides is the public feeling safe to start traveling again.

“There will be an effort to convince the customer that it’s safe to travel,” he said. “There should be some process where everybody who gets on an airplane knows that every other passenger doesn’t have a fever.”

Airlines have already begun disinfecting aircraft, and many continue to uphold social-distancing policies by blocking off middle seats. Additionally, many airports are implementing passenger health checks and temperature screenings.

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IATA Now Says Coronavirus Could Cost Airlines $250 Billion

Less than three weeks after saying the airlines could lose $113 billion in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revised its estimates.

And it’s not good.

The industry advocate now says global passenger revenues could fall by $252 billion this year – 44 percent down from 2019’s figures.

“The airline industry faces its gravest crisis,” warned IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac. “Within a matter of a few weeks, our previous worst-case scenario is looking better than our latest estimates. But without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing. Airlines need $200 billion in liquidity support simply to make it through. Some governments have already stepped forward, but many more need to follow suit.”

de Juniac’s words came before the U.S. Senate came to an agreement to bail out American carriers with $58 billion in loans as part of a new stimulus package.

IATA said its $113 billion figure from earlier this month was an estimate “before countries around the world introduced sweeping travel restrictions that largely eliminated the international air travel market.” It said that the new $250 billion figure was based on “severe travel restrictions” lasting for up to three months, followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year.

While several governments have jumped in to help, United Kingdom Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the government would only step in to help airlines as “a last resort.”

“Despite the significant economic interventions we have put in place, we will not be able to protect every single job or save every single business,” Sunak said.

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