Sunday, December 4, 2016

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Spaceship Makes 1st Solo Glide Flight

Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo performed its first free flight Dec. 3, a glide test that begins the next phase in testing of the commercial suborbital spaceplane.

SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at about 9:50 a.m. EST (1450 GMT). The spaceplane separated from WhiteKnightTwo at 10:40 a.m. EST (1540 GMT), gliding back to a runway landing in Mojave 10 minutes later, according to updates provided by the company.

The glide flight, which Virgin Galactic declared a success, begins the next phase in testing of the long-delayed suborbital vehicle that is ultimately designed to carry space tourists and research payloads to an altitude of about 62 miles (100 kilometers), exposing them to several minutes of microgravity.

Virgin Galactic had planned to carry out the glide flight Nov. 1, but high winds led flight controllers to keep SpaceShipTwo attached to WhiteKnightTwo, turning the mission into the second "captive carry" test flight of the vehicle, after one in September. A second attempt, Nov. 3, was aborted because of an unspecified technical issue discovered prior to the planned release.

The vehicles took to the air again Nov. 30 on another captive carry flight. "As part of our ground & flight testing, we made a few tweaks to the vehicle," Virgin Galactic said in a tweet, which were tested on that flight. The company did not disclose the nature of the changes. 

The flight is the first in a series of glide flights to test the aerodynamic performance of the vehicle before moving ahead into powered flights. In an interview at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Oct. 13, Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses said the number of flights will depend on how long it takes to achieve a set of test objectives.

"There's 10 glide flights' worth of targets," he said. "We could do those in 8 flights, or might take 15, but we're not going into the next phase before we clear those."

Once completed, SpaceShipTwo will begin a set of powered test flights. The first SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Enterprise, was performing its fourth powered test flight when it crashed in October 2014, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injuring pilot Peter Siebold.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the vehicle broke up when Alsbury prematurely unlocked the vehicle's feathering mechanism, causing the tail section to rise up as the vehicle accelerated through Mach 1. The investigation criticized vehicle developer Scaled Composites for not taking steps to prevent such a premature unlocking and for creating a heavy workload for pilots of the vehicle.

The stand-down after the accident gave Virgin Galactic time to work on the vehicle's hybrid rocket motor, whose development had been troubled. "If the spaceship was ready, we could do a powered flight tomorrow," Moses said in October.

(Jeff Foust - SpaceNews)

President Obama's Parting Gift to Boeing: $31.2 Billion in Defense Contracts

Is this the thing that saves Boeing's defense business?

When Kuwait announced in April that it will be buying $9.1 billion worth of fighter jets from Airbus, that sounded like bad news for Boeing. For months, the Obama administration had been dragging its feet on approving a sale of Boeing's competing F/A-18 fighter jet to Kuwait. Ultimately, Kuwait chose to buy fighters from Airbus, which was quicker to approve the deal.

Or not.

Saved by the bell

Kuwait is a nation of just 3.4 million people. At a cost of roughly $2,700 per citizen, the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoons from Airbus represents a huge investment for the country. (Note: Airbus is the largest shareholder of the Eurofighter consortium that makes the Typhoon. BAE Systems owns a 33% stake in the consortium.) And yet, it seems Kuwait has not yet run out of money to spend.

Two weeks ago, in a rather surprising announcement, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of Kuwait's continued interest in buying F/A-18s from Boeing (apparently in addition to the Typhoons from Airbus). As explained in DSCA's notification, Kuwait intends to purchase 32 F/A-18E fighter jets and eight more advanced F/A-18F fighters from Boeing. Total cost: $10.1 billion.

Nor was this the only good news Boeing shareholders got last week.
Cast your eyes south

Simultaneous with the announcement of the Kuwait fighter deal, DSCA notified Congress of a second -- even bigger -- sale of Boeing fighter jets to the Middle East. Just a few hundred miles to the south of Kuwait likes the peninsular nation of Qatar, and the Qataris seem even more infatuated with Boeing planes.

According to DSCA, Qatar is seeking permission to purchase 72 F-15QA fighter jets from Boeing for the princely sum of $21.1 billion. That makes the total value of Boeing contracts being sought here $31.2 billion.

What it means for Boeing -- and its investors

It's hard to overestimate the importance of these defense deals to Boeing, now that the Obama administration has permitted them to proceed. (Congress has literally never rejected a foreign arms deal once the DSCA has given official notification).

From a sheer dollars-and-cents perspective, Boeing's military aircraft division earns 9.8% pre-tax profit margins on the planes it sells -- the second-highest profit margin of any Boeing division. Ultimately, the $31.2 billion in revenue flowing from the two deals named above should earn Boeing pre-tax profits well in excess of $3 billion, worth nearly 43% of all the profits that Boeing generated from all its businesses last year.

But the significance of these deals is even greater than that.

With demand for its fourth-generation fighter jets waning, Boeing had been planning to shut down production of its F-15s by 2019. F/A-18 production was likely to cease in 2017. Boeing Defense head Leanne Caret has been heard talking about how Boeing needed to "evolve" beyond fighter jets entirely, and refocus its efforts on building planes it can actually sell -- KC-46 Pegasus, and P-8A Poseidon's.

Thanks to these last-minute sales, though, Boeing's fighter jets business has a new lease on life.

Consider: Last year, Boeing produced and delivered 35 F/A-18 model aircraft to its customers around the world. At that build rate, the Kuwaiti deal will extend F/A-18 production by more than a year. Indeed, if Boeing can slow its production rate just a bit, the production line could operate even longer -- giving Boeing more time to find even more buyers, to extend its lifeline even further.

Meanwhile, Boeing's F/15 was already producing at the much slower rate of just 12 planes per year. Qatar's order for 72 new F-15s extends the lifespan of that model aircraft by six more years!

Turns out, thanks to these two last-minute contract wins, Boeing may not have to quit the defense business after all.

(Rich Smith - The Motley Fool)

20,000 people stranded at Chengdu airport over smog

(China Central Television (CCTV))

More than 20,000 people are stranded at an airport in Chengdu, China, as flights were grounded by heavy smog and fog, Chinese state-run media reported. Multiple flights to and from the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in central China were canceled or delayed, while many were forced to land at other airports, China's Xinhua news agency reported, calling it "the worst fog to hit the ... city in years."

Images from China Central Television (CCTV) showed weary passengers asleep in their airport seats and others eating instant pot noodles, while crates of luggage sat on the tarmac next to grounded planes. The airport's runway was closed for nearly 10 hours, an airport statement said, saying the conditions had disrupted the most flights and the highest number of passengers in years.

Chengdu's air quality was measured at 280, a level within the "very unhealthy" category, according to the World Air Quality Index.

Pollution levels in industrial cities south of the capital, Beijing, soared to levels as high as 875, considered extremely hazardous.

(Angela Dewan - CNN)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990(ER) (WL) (62682/6113) N265AK

Captured on a long final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) wearing the special "Honoring Those Who Serve" livery on December 3, 2016.

Photos by Michael Carter)

Ethiopian Boeing 787-8 (36111/258) ET-ASG

Taxies off Rwy 25L following her arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 30, 2016.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Polar Air Cargo Boeing 767-3YO(ER) (BDSF) (26207/503) N642GT

Climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 3, 2016.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines commences non-stop flights to Las Vegas

(Hainan Airlines)

A little glitz and a sampling of a Las Vegas Strip dance and acrobatic performance marked the arrival of the first direct commercial airline flight from mainland China to Las Vegas.

Area elected and tourism officials, a Hainan Airlines executive, and Luo Linquan, the consul general of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, attended a Friday ceremony welcoming the start of scheduled passenger service between Las Vegas and Beijing.

The three-times-a-week flights through McCarran International Airport take 13 hours going west and 12 hours going east on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Direct passenger air service comes as casino companies court Chinese nationals and Chinese-Americans on and off the Las Vegas Strip.

A performance by the cast of KÀ by Cirque du Soleil was part of the festivities.

(The Associated Press)

US Approves Norwegian Air License, Puts a Smile on Boeing’s Face

After a delay of nearly three years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday approved a license for Norwegian Air Shuttle’s Ireland-based unit to fly to and from the United States.

The airline already flies across the Atlantic and to other international destinations, but because Norway is not part of the European Union, Norwegian Air’s ability to expand depends on negotiations with every country from which it seeks a license. Gaining recognition for its Irish subsidiary as an EU member gives the airline the same rights as any other EU nation.

This is not a small thing from Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAX) or for its aircraft vendor, Boeing Co. NAX is a low-cost carrier that currently flies Boeing 737-800s exclusively. Boeing has delivered 79 of the planes to the airline since the first delivery in 2009, and NAX is one of Boeing’s top 10 customers measured by backlog of orders.

Boeing’s order book shows 21 more 737-800s still to be delivered and 108 737 MAXs on order for delivery beginning next year. Boeing has also delivered three 787-8s to NAX and has orders for 19 787-9s. That is a total of 148 new Boeing planes, before the U.S. licensing decision was announced.

NAX will be an early, if not the first, Boeing customer to fly the 737 MAX, and that includes transatlantic flights the airline now flies with the 787. The new planes could open new routes between smaller cities in the United States and Europe and threaten to cut into the revenues of legacy carriers United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. There is no question that NAX fares will undercut legacy carriers’ transatlantic fares.

The DOT’s decision was widely praised by consumer advocacy and travel and leisure groups and generally opposed by airline employee unions and U.S. legacy carriers. U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said:

The American travel community is ecstatic at the decision by the Obama administration to allow new service to U.S. cities by Norwegian Air International. If ever there were a trade policy that brings jobs to U.S. soil, this is it: [NAX] is flying and will buy more American-made planes, their passengers will spend money in American businesses, and American travelers will have more and cheaper options when they fly. This announcement is an unmistakable endorsement of competition, connectivity and Open Skies agreements, and a welcome repudiation of protectionist, anti-competitive policy making.

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson condemned the license approval:

This decision must be reversed immediately by the Obama administration. It is a betrayal to hundreds of thousands of aviation workers. The DOT decision overrides carefully negotiated worker rights and designs a new playbook that rolls out the red carpet for foreign corporation by trampling workers’ rights. This decision puts a rubber stamp of approval on the ‘flag of convenience model’ that destroyed over a hundred thousand U.S. shipping jobs. …
Congress must be prepared to act next week. President Obama must reverse this harmful decision and stand up for working people all across the country. We will not accept this. We will act. We will never stop. We will never accept abrogation of our rights.

No legacy carrier has yet commented on the license, but Southwest Airlines Co.’s Southwest Pilot’s Association (SWAPA) also condemned the license. Union President Jon Weaks said:

By approving [NAX]’s application despite it being in direct violation of Article 17 bis of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, the Obama Administration has unilaterally undermined every trade agreement the U.S. has ever signed – including the Open Skies agreements we have with more than 100 countries across the globe. In the process, President Obama and Secretary Foxx have turned their backs on the tens of thousands of American workers employed in the aviation industry.

To be clear, this decision gives a single foreign carrier an advantage unavailable to a single one of its competitors – including those in the U.S. Norwegian Air International will possess an unparalleled advantage over U.S. carriers if allowed to proceed with its Flag of Convenience scheme. This reckless decision sets a dangerous precedent in aviation and further underscores the unwillingness to ensure a level playing field for American workers when executing trade agreements that have been a hallmark of the Obama Administration.

The question now falls into the lap of President-Elect Donald Trump, who has positioned himself as a champion of maintaining U.S. jobs. SWAPA has called on Trump “to preserve a fair and level playing field for U.S. workers by denying [NAX] the Foreign Carrier Permit unjustly awarded by President Obama.”

The DOT explained its rationale in a statement cited by The Wall Street Journal:

Regardless of our appreciation of the public policy arguments raised by opponents, we have been advised that the law and our bilateral obligations leave us no avenue to reject this application.

There is no evidence, yet, that the NAX license will cost a single U.S. airline-industry job. The Norwegian carrier does, however, use contract crews hired by Asian staffing agencies to fly its Ireland-based routes. The airline has promised to use only EU and U.S. crews on transatlantic flights, but that has not been sufficient for U.S. and international labor unions.

Boeing on one side, legacy airlines and unions on the other. Welcome to the White House, President Trump.

(Paul Ausick - 24/7 Wall St.) 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6078) N6453

Operated by Hum Air 33 LLC, this lovely G650 is captured departing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 30, 2016.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Newly launched Cyprus Airways takes first A319

(Cyprus Airways)

A newly launched Cyprus Airways has taken delivery of its first Airbus A319 aircraft Dec. 1. The carrier, which expects to get an air operator’s certificate (AOC) before the end of 2016, is finalizing its route network and preparing to launch ticket sales.

The airline’s fleet will comprise A319 aircraft, which will fly to European and Middle East countries. The brand Cyprus Airways is used by Charlie Airlines, which won the right to work under the Cyprus name in July 2016. The 10-year brand deal was signed by the Cyprus government and Charlie Airlines.

Charlie Airlines was founded by Russia’s S7 Group co-owner Vladislav Filev, who told journalists in March 2016 the carrier would begin operations before the end of the year. According to carrier’s commercial director Natalya Popova, a new airline team has been formed from Cyprus and European aviation specialists.

Cyprus has been without a locally based airline since national flag carrier Cyprus Airways went out of business in January 2015 after a long period of decline.

At the beginning of February 2016, it was announced that new Cypriot low-cost carrier Cobalt planned to start operations at the end of March, once its AOC was finalized. Cobalt CEO Andrew Pyne also launched Russian low-cost carrier Avianova in 2009.

(Polina Montag-Girmes - ATWOnline News)

SAS Scandinavian Airlines executes leaseback on more aircraft

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has secured financing of five Airbus A320neos through a sale and leaseback agreement with Jackson Square Aviation.

The aircraft will be delivered between the end of this year and 2018. As the aircraft are delivered to the tri-national Scandinavian carrier, they will be sold to Jackson Square and then leased back on a long-term lease.

This latest agreement means SAS has now agreed on financing of seven Airbus A320neo from its order for 30 aircraft of the type. SAS has also agreed on letters of intent regarding the financing of a further 11 A320neos.

The move comes less than a month after another SAS deal for Airbus A319s and Boeing 737s as part of a refinancing package.

As part of the airline’s focus on optimizing its capital structure and reducing financing costs, it agreed to refinance two 737s and four A319s with a credit facility of $75 million from backers including Standard Chartered Bank and Norddeutsche Landesbank. The facility matures in January 2023.

The aircraft will be refinanced in the period until January 2018 and were previously financed through lease agreements.

As part of that transaction, SAS also entered into a sale and leaseback transaction with Standard Chartered for the first two Airbus A320neos delivered with CFM LEAP-1A engines during 2016, with a lease period of 10 years.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

Atlas Air to fly transpacific routes for Nippon Cargo Airlines

Purchase, New York-based air cargo operator Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings has contracted with Japan’s Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) to operate a Boeing 747-400 freighter for the Narita International Airport-based cargo carrier, the two companies announced Dec. 1.

Atlas Air said the agreement is initially for one aircraft to be flown on transpacific routes connecting Asia and the US; service is scheduled to begin in January 2017. Additional aircraft may be added to the agreement in the future, Atlas Air said.

“We look forward to providing [NCA] and its customers with [our] service and a platform for future expansion,” Atlas Air president and CEO William Flynn said.

“[As we] begin this strategic arrangement with Atlas Air … we look forward to having a long, mutually beneficial relationship,” NCA president and CEO Fukashi Sakamoto said.

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings is the parent company of Atlas Air, Southern Air Holdings and Titan Aviation Holdings, and is the majority shareholder of Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc.

Nippon Cargo operates a fleet of eight Boeing 747-8F and five 747-400F aircraft; the airline operated 684 flights in October 2016. From its hubs in Tokyo, Osaka and Kitakyushu, NCA flies directly to Amsterdam, Milan, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Anchorage, San Francisco and Los Angeles, with connections to Frankfurt, New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

What Could Go Wrong for Boeing Under a Trump Administration?

After every U.S. election, the losers very likely ask themselves, “Well, what’s the worst that could happen?” Should Boeing be asking itself that same question?

Boeing is the country’s largest manufacturing firm and its largest (by revenue) exporter of finished goods. During his campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump made trade a centerpiece of what he plans to change as soon as he takes office. He took particular aim at China, claiming that the United States and China are already in a trade war and that the United States should use what he called its “economic power” over China.

From Boeing’s point of view, there are significant dangers to the company’s business if Trump should make the wrong choices on trade. Between 2000 and 2015, Boeing delivered about 5,500 new commercial jets to foreign customers. That’s about 73% of all its deliveries during those years.

According to industry analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, the percentage of Boeing’s new airplanes that are exported has risen from about 54% in 2000 to 80% in 2015. Deliveries to U.S. airlines in that period fell by a 2.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Deliveries to non-U.S. operators and lessors grew by a 6% CAGR.

And while Boeing’s international customer base is important, Aboulafia also notes the “elaborate global supply chain networks” on which aircraft manufacturers depend for transfer of parts from all over the world.

As is almost always the case in any political undertaking, making the least amount of change and trumpeting it as a major win is probably the best outcome. If Trump leaves trade agreements and bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) as they are but takes a somewhat harder line in negotiations, Boeing may have to adapt but it won’t be seriously affected.

However, if a Trump administration imposes tariffs and other barriers to trade, especially targeted at China, Aboulafia believes this is “the greatest risk for Boeing.” Nearly 20% of the company’s 2015 deliveries were made to Chinese buyers, and a threatened 45% tariff on all Chinese imports would certainly provoke a response from China that would not be in Boeing’s best interests.

Trump has promised to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and at least to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new administration also could choose to ignore WTO rulings such as the one handed down recently in a dispute between Boeing and Airbus over illegal subsidies.

Since the November 8 election, the dollar has risen more than 10%, and that decreases the buying power of Boeing’s foreign customers. Another blow to Boeing would be the loss of the U.S. Export-Import Bank that already had been the target of conservative legislators as well as the president-elect.

One bright spot may be expected increases in defense spending under a Trump administration. That would certainly help, but Boeing’s 2015 revenues from its defense and space division totaled less than half its commercial jet revenues. Even the company’s planned expansion of its services business would not bring overall revenues if the worst outcome should be realized.

Boeing’s stock posted a new 52-week high of $152.11 on Tuesday, nearly a buck a share above the 12-month consensus price target of $151.22. The 52-week low is $102.10.

(Paul Ausick - 24/7 Wall St.)

Lockheed Martin begins T-50A flight operations

The T-50A operations follow an initial flight test conducted on Nov. 19.
(Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin has begun conducting flight operations with its T-50A training aircraft to test its capabilities.

The operations followed an initial flight test, which took place on Nov. 19, company officials announced in a press release.

The T-50A is the result of a collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Korea Airspace Industries, and is designed to train prospective pilots for more advanced fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II.

For combat training, the training aircraft incorporates air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, an avionics suite with electronic warfare capabilities, and a multi-mode radar. The configuration is based on South Korea's FA-50.

The aircraft is a follow-up to the legacy T-50, and has accumulated over 100,000 flight hours and trained more than 1,800 pilots.

(Ryan Maass - UPI)

United States Navy P-8A Poseidon (737-8FV) (44948/5903) 169007

The latest USN P-8A Poseidon is captured returning to Seattle Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) on November 29, 2016.

(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Atlas Air Boeing 767-375(ER) (25865/430) N631GT

This ex LAN machine (CC-CRG) is caught departing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 26, 2016 bound for Honolulu then onto Paya Lebar (QPG/WSAP), Singapore where it will be converted into a freighter eventually joining the Amazon Prime Air fleet as N1217A.

Built in 1992 (Boeing registration N6063S), this aircraft was scheduled to be delivered to Canadian Airlines International as C-GCAW but was not taken up by the carrier. It instead was delivered to the GPA Group Ltd as EI-CFR then immediately leased to China Southern Airlines as B-2561 with whom it served until October 1996.

The aircraft was then operated by the LAN Group until being retired on October 22, 2014 and stored at Marana-Pinal Airpark (MZJ/KMZJ) in Arizona. Atlas Air leased the aircraft on January 27, 2016 as N285CT then re-registered it to N631GT on April 5, 2016. 

(Photo by Hiroshi (Hal) Horiguchi)

How fuel may have played a role in Colombia air crash

A look at how fuel may have played a role in the crash of a charter flight approaching Medellin, Colombia, that killed all but six of the 77 people on board:

PRE-FLIGHT: Authorities have not released the flight plan for the jet operated by LaMia, a Bolivia-based charter company, but aviation experts say international regulations require enough extra fuel to fly at least 30 to 45 minutes to divert to another airport in case of emergency. Pilots also calculate the actual consumption of fuel during the flight and rarely get into a position that requires them to use reserves. The BAE 146 Avro RJ85 jet’s maximum range was 2,965 kilometers (1,600 nautical miles). That is just under the distance between Medellin and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where the plane took off at almost full capacity.

FLIGHT AND APPROACH: A BAE 146 Avro RJ85 holds about 21,000 pounds of fuel. It burns fuel at a rate of 4,500-5,000 pounds an hour. The flight was in the air for about 4 hours and 20 minutes when air traffic controllers in Medellin put it into a holding pattern because another flight had reported a suspected fuel leak and was given priority.

CRASH: In the final minutes of the LaMia flight, the pilot of the jet can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to a lack of fuel and a “total electric failure,” according to a leaked recording. The recording, obtained by several Colombian media outlets, seem to confirm the accounts of a surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby who overheard the frantic pleas from the doomed airliner. In addition, there was no explosion upon impact, pointing to a scarcity of fuel.

(Associated Press / The Seattle Times)

The world's shortest super jumbo flight

Emirates has launched the world's shortest scheduled service on an Airbus 380, flying between Dubai and Doha -- a distance of 379 kilometers (235 miles).
The outbound flight Thursday took one hour and 20 minutes including boarding and disembarking. It was even shorter on the return -- just 70 minutes.

The time in the air is around 40 minutes.

The airline says it launched the service so that customers flying to the capital of Qatar from New York or European cities via Dubai "can now enjoy a seamless A380 experience."

But they'll still have to change planes at the world's busiest international airport.

And first or business class customers won't have much time to enjoy their flat beds or the shower spas on board the double-decker. They may just manage to flick through the 2,500 channels available on wide screen TVs.

The round trip would cost about $230 in economy, $575 in business and $1,425 in first (or nearly $36 for every minute in the air).

The Airbus plane operates on 102 routes to around 50 destinations globally. It took 15 years to develop at a cost of $25 billion.

Emirates has 87 of the super jumbo jet in service and 55 more on order.

It also operates the longest non-stop flight on an A380 between Dubai and Auckland, New Zealand, with journey time of just over 17 hours.

(Zahraa Alkhalisi - CNNMoney)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Korean Air expands US presence, strengthens Delta partnership

Korean Air is aggressively expanding on the US west coast and strengthening its relationship with SkyTeam partner Delta Air Lines “to ensure the airline’s continued leadership in 2017 and beyond,” the Seoul-based carrier said in a statement.

Korean Air said it is increasing flights from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and creating a “massive network between the US and Asia through a blossoming partnership with Delta Air Lines.”

By June, Korean Air said it will operate nearly 50 flights a week from the west coast, including 19 from Los Angeles, 14 from San Francisco beginning in September, seven from Seattle, and five from Las Vegas.

“We’ve added flights and improved our schedules for fast and easy connections to Singapore, China, Vietnam, Japan and almost any destination in Southeast Asia,” Korean Air VP John Jackson said in a statement. “Korean Air is the largest non-Chinese airline operating in China and our connections from the US are outstanding.”

Korean Air also will be growing its Delta network, offering Delta customers easy access to more than 30 markets in Asia beyond Seoul, and Korean Air customers more than 150 markets in the Americas.

“Delta will be putting its code on our flight from Houston, San Francisco and dozens of destinations beyond Seoul served by Korean Air,” Jackson said.

He added that Korean Air has been “quietly building an impressive global network”—131 cities in 46 countries on six continents—and is poised to continue to build on that network in the future.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Aeroflot to cancel 787s in 3-way deal with Boeing and Russian lessor

Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, plans to cancel orders for Boeing 787s and will rely instead on the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 for long-haul flights.

The decision is expected to receive final approval at the airline’s shareholder meeting at the end of December. The rights to purchase the 22 787s will be transferred to Avia Capital Service, a leasing subsidiary of Russian government-owned industrial conglomerate Rostec, under an agreement among Aeroflot, Avia and Boeing.

Shareholder approval will allow Aeroflot to amend its 2007 contract with Boeing for the 787s.

Boeing will return Aeroflot’s advance payment of $43.7 million and receive the same amount from Avia.

Under the renewed schedule, the 787 deliveries to the lessor will be postponed by another two years. Avia is to get its first seven aircraft in 2019 followed by five each in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The new trilateral agreement should be signed before Jan. 1, 2017, or the initial contract between Aeroflot and Boeing will be just canceled.

Aeroflot ordered 18 787-8s and four 787-9s in 2007. A Russian industry source explained to ATW’s sister publication Aviation Daily that the reason for change is that it prefers to use larger 777-300ERs for long-haul routes. It now operates 15 out of its 16 ordered 777-300ERs in a three-class, 420-seat configuration.

Aeroflot also plans to change out its aging fleet of 22 Airbus A330s with the same number of new A350s. Its order includes 14 A350-900s with a 440-seat capacity and eight smaller A350-800s.

(Maxim Pyadushkin - ATWOnline News)