Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Beijing-based carrier revealed the order in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It said the order is worth about $1.4 billion at list prices, but noted that it received "a significant price concession" from the manufacturer.
CA said the order would increase its capacity by 5%.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Negotiations on the early stage transition agreement have stalled over issues the pilots say would have little financial impact on the new airline, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said in a statement.
"This merger could be simple if the right path is chosen. Regrettably it appears the companies at this early juncture are headed down the wrong path," said Wendy Morse, chairman of the United pilots' union.
The airlines announced last month that UAL would buy Continental for USD$3.07 billion in an all-stock deal that would create the world's largest airline. They hope for US government approval of their merger by year's end.
The union was not specific about sticking points but said the companies' have not followed through on their promise to negotiate in good faith.
United and Continental would not comment on details of the discussions held this week in Denver. But the carriers said in separate statements they were confident a full contract could eventually be reached for all pilots.
Integrating union contracts can be one of the toughest aspects of an airline merger.
There is no timeframe for resuming discussions with union leaders representing about 5,000 pilots at Continental and 6,500 at United, a source familiar with the matter said.
Transition agreements include terms for how unions, in this case pilots, will work separately between the merger closure and the point at which the companies combine their employee groups.
This period can last a year or two after which a multi-year contract, or collective bargaining agreement, would come into force. That would also include new terms for wages and benefits.
The new airline expects to employ nearly 90,000 people with few cuts expected once the companies formally join forces, executives have said.
A smooth integration is crucial for the new United to achieve its projected annual cost savings of between USD$200 million and USD$300 million.
During the transition period, United pilots will continue to fly the planes and routes they do now as will their counterparts at Continental.
Key issues in transition agreements generally revolve around flight scheduling and job security, especially in the event of a financial downturn.
The pilot groups also have to negotiate a joint agreement governing seniority, which determines flight hours, schedules and certain compensation.
The pilots will get a board seat on the new carrier.
State-owned Rostechnologii and Boeing signed a "proposal acceptance" with an option for the sale of 15 additional planes to the Russian national airline Aeroflot, the White House said.
Obama announced what amounted to the agreement in principle at a joint news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He hailed it as an example of expanding bilateral trade and commerce 20 years after the end of the Cold War.
The sale of 50 Boeing single-aisle aircraft worth USD$4 billion "could add up to 44,000 new jobs in the American aerospace industry," Obama said. The deal was one of several signed at a US-Russia business summit coinciding with Medvedev's visit to the United States.
Boeing looks forward to finalizing an agreement, said Jim Proulx, a spokesman for Boeing's commercial aircraft arm in Seattle.
Rostechnologii plans to provide Russian airlines with planes that will help them grow their domestic and international operations alongside flag-carrier Aeroflot.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Royal Brunei Airlines commenced service with its first Boeing 777 to London via Dubai on Thursday, the national carrier yesterday said in a press release.
"RBA's B777 aircraft will greatly enhance our passengers' travel experience. The acquisition of the B777 aircraft is integral to RBA's development as the 777s will eventually replace the current six Boeing 767-300ER aircraft for long-haul flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to the United Kingdom, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand," Robert Yang, chief executive officer of RBA, said in the release.
The first aircraft was delivered on June 1 and has since then been used for pilot and cabin crew training, the airline said.
The remaining aircraft will be delivered by September, RBA said.
A check yesterday at the RBA booking website showed a return fare to London from Bandar Seri Begawan between August 1 and 15 would cost from $1,832.
Yang earlier said pricing for the route took into account an expected increase in travel in the coming year, and that airline prices follow the "supply and demand" economics of the industry.
He said that the next destination that will use the Boeing 777 jet is the airline's Australia route.
Captain Khalidkhan Hj Asmakhan, RBA's acting chief operations officer, earlier said the national airline is planning on expanding its flight personnel. "At the moment, we have some pilots specifically for the Boeing 777, but in the long run we might have to recruit more pilots, maybe some from in-house, some from overseas, because of the route structure of the planes," he said.
One of the features of the jet that the airline highlighted in its press release was the Economy Class cabin, which has 255 seats with a 33-inch seat pitch.
Other features include a new drinks menu, which includes lemongrass and pandan drinks, as well as mango and ginger chocolates served after dinner for the Business Class passengers.
With 30 seats in the Business Class section, the seats now can be inclined into a full-length bed, which comes with a duvet and a larger pillow, according to the press statement.
In terms of entertainment, all seats will be equipped with personal screens, which feature the airline entertainment system, called the SkyShow, which will offer passengers over 600 hours of entertainment options throughout their flight, including movies, television programmes, audio on-demand and a selection of video games.
Emirates A380-861 (c/n 009) A6-EDJ arrives at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL) sporting a commemorative sticker celebrating FIFA World Cup 2010, which is being held in South Africa.
The trigger for the move was a deal finalized Tuesday to lease four of Horizon's Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jets to Atlanta-based Atlantic Southeast Airlines.
With its fleet shrunk, the carrier will furlough 40 flight attendants and 40 mechanics on Aug. 22 and 40 pilots in early November, all according to seniority.
Horizon will close its bases at airports in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and in Flagstaff and Prescott, Ariz., and will no longer fly to those destinations.
Horizon has just over 600 pilots and 570 flight attendants, 70 percent of whom are based in Portland, the rest in Seattle. Most of its approximately 450 mechanics are in Portland.
The airline has been trying to get rid of its 70-seat CRJs since deciding in 2008 to shift its fleet to one aircraft type: the Bombardier Q400 turboprop, which is more economical to operate on shorter routes like those Horizon flies.
However, the economic downturn killed the market for used CRJs, and until this week Horizon had managed to offload only three out of 20 of them.
Horizon has eight Q400s on order from Bombardier, set for delivery in 2012 and 2013. But Dan Russo, Horizon's vice president of marketing, said even if four Q400s were immediately available to replace the CRJs, it would be "prudent" in the current economic climate to cut capacity instead.
"These cuts were reductions we had under consideration anyhow because the routes were not performing well," Russo said.
After leasing the four airplanes, Horizon's fleet will consist of 40 Q400s and the remaining 13 CRJs, which it is still actively marketing to other airlines.
Friday, June 18, 2010
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Sierra Pacific Airlines 737-2Y5/ADV (23038/949) N721S arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from Tucson International Airport (TUS/KTUS) as SPA712 at 0856 to pick-up a group of National Guardsmen bound for Minnesota. The aircraft then departed at 0956 bound for Minneapolis/St. Paul International (MSP/KMSP) again as SPA712.
Emirates airline, owned by the government of Dubai, is on a hiring binge with plans to bring on 3,000 cabin crew members and 700 pilots worldwide over the next 18 months, according to a company press release.
The airline touts its multi-cultural cabin crew, which includes 120 nationalities who speak more than 80 languages. Perks include "high-quality living arrangements, full medical care and state-of-the-art facilities in training and at work." Plus the cabin crew wears cool hats (pictured right).
Emirates plans four global recruitment sessions in the United States over the next month. None are in Southern California, but there is one near San Francisco International Airport next month:
June 19th: Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport
June 26th: Four Seasons Hotel, Houston
July 10th: Hotel Deca, Seattle
July 17th: San Mateo Marriott
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The first 787 test aircraft powered by GEnx-1B engines completed its first flight late Wednesday, landing at Boeing Field in Seattle at 6:29 p.m. local time following a 3 hr. 48 min. flight.
The aircraft is the fifth of six 787s in the Dreamliner flight test program. A second GEnx-1B-powered 787 will take flight before the end of July, Boeing said.
Capt. Mike Bryan, the Boeing pilot who helmed the flight, said, "The airplane handled just like I expected. It was just like every other 787 flight that I've flown in the last several months: Smooth, per plan and excellent."
Boeing said the aircraft, ZA005, "will be used to test the General Electric engine package and demonstrate that the changes made with the new engine do not change the airplane's handling characteristics."
GE Aviation GM-GEnx Program Tom Brisken said, "The GEnx engine program has been designing, developing and testing the engine for five years so [first flight was] a testament to the team's extraordinary efforts." The GEnx-2B engine has been in operation since February powering the 747-8 freighter that is in the midst of its flight test program.
GE said it has received about 1,300 orders for the GEnx including 800 -1Bs to power 787s. It is the fastest-selling commercial aircraft engine in the company's history.
(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The aircraft, featuring the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter image, is an element of a larger partnership between Orlando’s hometown airline and Universal Orlando Resort. This partnership includes joint promotions, exclusive offers and special getaways to the park. AirTran Airways serves more cities to Orlando than any other airline.
This morning at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB), C-17A 08-8199 (P-199) was delivered to the USAF. Following ceremonies the aircraft departed for it's new home McGuire AFB. In the above photo, the aircraft is seen returning to Long Beach following a pre-delivery test flight on June 3, 2010.
The Oasis Restaurant in the Riley Terminal will be open, but will not be able to serve their full menu until the gas line has been repaired which is anticipated later today.
The production rate increase is the second announced for the strong-selling, single-aisle plane this year. Boeing said in May that it would boost production to 34 per month from 31.5 per month, citing strong demand.
Boeing said the second production rate increase "acknowledges the anticipated long-term growth in this market segment."
"We've managed our current backlog efficiently, and increasing rate is the product of our comprehensive planning and preparation," said Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We will continue to monitor demand as we go forward."
Boeing and rival Airbus suffered a slump in orders in 2008 and 2009 amid an economic recession. Demand has improved as the economy recovers.
In March, Boeing said it would speed up planned output rates for two of its popular wide-body aircraft as demand resumed among airline customers.
Orders for Boeing's commercial aircraft output fell 61 percent to 263 in 2009, as air travel and freight transport slumped.
Monday, June 14, 2010
“Wireless internet access is one of the amenities most frequently requested by our passengers,” said Alan L. Murphy, Airport Director. “We’re happy to be able to provide this much-anticipated service at no cost to our passengers.”
FreeFi Networks is a premier provider of content and advertiser-supported internet access for the traveling public. Included among the large-scale installations currently powered by FreeFi Networks are Denver International Airport and Oakland International Airport.
“We are able to deliver a quality internet experience to business and leisure travelers while generating revenue for the airport,” said Richard Bogen, FreeFi’s managing director. “It's a win-win proposition for all involved.”
To log onto the network, a user accepts the terms of an “End User License,” watches a thirty-second ad and is then connected to the internet. Passengers wishing to access the free service should look for JWAFREEWIFI in their computer’s “available wireless networks” list. FreeFi Networks provides toll-free 24/7 technical support.
John Wayne Airport is currently undergoing a number of improvements to modernize the existing Thomas F. Riley Terminal while also adding a new Terminal C, more parking and even more passenger services and amenities. Learn more about the Airport Improvement Program at www.ocair.com/improvements.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Southwest Airlines Co. changes the way it flies, which is a major milestone in the push to modernize the nation's air travel system. For passengers, the last 20 minutes of a flight may feel more graceful as planes glide in without revving up engines repeatedly.
This past April 6, the airline changed out the cockpit software in two-thirds of its fleet, giving pilots different instruments and a new look to displays. The radical upgrade, which took three years of preparation and required retraining 6,000 pilots, will enable Southwest to fly precise satellite-based navigation approaches to airports. That should save fuel, cut noise and reduce delays.
That flip-the-switch change pushes airlines closer to a modern air-traffic control system. Using more-precise approaches to airports called Required Navigation Performance (RNP) routes, airplanes can shorten their flights. The paths laid out in the sky that planes use into and out of airports will be much narrower, removing overlap between different airports in congested cities.
Without the new technology, planes flying into Chicago's Midway Airport, for example, may have to wait for an opening in the line of planes taking off nearby from Chicago's O'Hare airport when winds are from the south because the routes overlap. Now, most of Southwest's planes won't have to wait. The same "decoupling" is planned for New York, Houston, Dallas and other major airline chokepoints.
"That's a huge step," said FAA Administrator Randolph Babbitt. Only a handful of airports have RNP procedures in place, but about 20 that Southwest flies to will have them by the end of the year. For passengers, RNP will be a different experience. Instead of lining up miles away from an airport to land and then stair-stepping down by descending and then powering up engines to level off over and over, airplanes will glide at idle almost all the way to touchdown. The descent will be continuous and quieter. Some turns will be tight close to airports. It will feel like the plane is swooping in at the last few minutes of flight instead of long, drawn-out approaches. Southwest is not the first airline to start flying RNP approaches-Alaska Air Group Inc.'s Alaska Airlines pioneered the technology, and several airlines have it turned on in some of their newest planes.
But Southwest is the biggest. The Dallas-based carrier, which operates more flights than any other carrier worldwide, is the first to commit to "Next Generation" technology fleet-wide, paying for cockpit upgrades itself. Airlines have been pushing Congress and the White House for federal funding to pay for new equipment required for the modernized air-traffic-control system; the issue is still undecided in Washington.
The technology means planes don't have to fly in straight lines for instrument landings using radio signals in low visibility; they can fly shorter, curved approaches in any weather conditions. Southwest believes it will get back its $175 million investment by shortening flights, saving fuel. If just one minute is shaved off every flight, on average, Southwest says it will recoup its investment. The airline hopes for even more savings. The FAA has to deliver by designing RNP routes and procedures, akin to building the highways for cars and trucks to use. After decades of delay in implementing satellite-based technology-including the kind of GPS many people have in their cars and phones-the FAA is moving faster to upgrade.
"We've left the drawing board. Now we're in implementation," said FAA's Mr. Babbitt. While the FAA is trying to design RNP procedures quickly and get air-traffic controllers trained in mixing RNP traffic with old-style procedures, progress may not be as fast as airlines want, he said.
Southwest worries that the FAA will simply lay new RNP procedures over existing routes, using the same long paths that planes fly today in order to avoid upsetting any neighborhoods underneath new flight paths. That would nullify any benefit from shorter routes that reduce fuel burn, emission and time or separating traffic from two airports. Designing new paths can mean environmental and noise impact and legal fights with neighborhoods worried about noise overhead, even though RNP approaches are quieter because engines are usually at idle.
"If the government only does overlays, then we have wasted $175 million," Mr. Martin said. One problem unique to RNP: the routes are so precise that if your home is under one, every plane passes overhead. With today's less precise routes, the path of jets is more diffuse so no one home gets every passing plane overhead.
The FAA is pushing airlines to modernize their equipment, even as the agency struggles to modernize its own gear, by adopting a strategy of best-equipped, best-served. So planes that can handle RNP approaches will get priority from air-traffic controllers over aircraft that aren't equipped at airports that have RNP in place. Today, it's first-come, first-serve regardless of equipment. The threat of being delayed behind better-equipped jets will serve as an incentive for airlines to quickly upgrade, the FAA says.
For Southwest, the technology push runs contrary to the airline's long-standing flying philosophy of keeping pilots alert and skilled by making them fly takeoffs and landings by hand rather than rely on autopilot computers. While RNP approaches can be flown by hand, the precision required means pilots often prefer having the autopilot fly the airplane.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, automation serves you well. You just want to make sure pilots can handle it when things get upset or the electronics goes catawampus," said one senior Southwest captain.
Southwest says it has still retained lots of hand-flying in its procedures to keep skills sharp. One example: Instead of using computer-driven systems for landings in very low visibility as most airlines do, Southwest has a military-like "head's up" screen-a piece of glass that folds down in front of the captain's eyes and displays navigation guidance-in its planes where the captain hand-flies even in the worst weather.
The airline's pilots union says its members resisted the change early on, but have been won over by the company's training program and the advantages of RNP and automation. "If done correctly, this can be safer. And it can help us get in and out of some places," said Jacob North, a Southwest first officer and communications chairman of the Southwest Pilots' Association.
Southwest put each of its pilots through a ground-school course on the new cockpit equipment and rewrote all of its flight procedures. The airline had to buy an additional flight simulator just to give pilots four hours each of cockpit flying for the RNP transition. (Pilots also received a software program to practice at home on personal computers.)
Beginning next year, the rest of Southwest's fleet-older Boeing 737-300s and 737-500s-will get completely new cockpits, basically moving them from analog to digital, from old-style round-dial gauges to modern multi-function displays. Instead of separate instruments to show air speed, altitude, heading, climb or descent rate and flight path, for example, modern cockpits have all that information in one display, making it easier for pilots to see all important data without scanning back and forth to multiple gauges. The newer cockpits in the airline's Boeing 737-700 fleet will be upgraded with a software change-screens that displayed one type of instruments simply display the new instruments with the April 6 changeover.
"We have rewritten every manual we have," said Southwest's Mr. Martin. "This is the most complicated project we've ever taken on."
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the aircraft was on final approach to land when the pilot indicated to air traffic control (ATC) that his engine was running rough. It appears that the engine failed as the aircraft was on a short final to Rwy 26L. The plane made a forced landing short of the runway in a field east of S. Haven Ave. A small brush fire started in the field, but it was quickly extinguished by the Fire Department
Saturday, June 12, 2010
According to the GDS timetable display, Air Canada will operate an Airbus A330-300 between Toronto - Lester B. Pearson International (Malton) Airport (YYZ/CYYZ) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) from July 1 to September 2. The Airbus will operate on Thursdays only as AC791/792, replacing the carries Boeing 767-300.
A new image for subsidiary Austral has also been revealed. The logo uses the same font as Aerolíneas Argentinas but is in red instead of blue. The livery is also similar, but features a red strip across an aircraft's fuselage. The new Austral livery will debut on the carrier’s first Embraer E-190 (pictured), which is scheduled to be delivered in the third quarter.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Peter Ingram, executive vice president and CFO of Hawaiian Airlines, said the addition of three new Airbus A330-200 aircraft to Hawaiian’s fleet this year is giving the company increased flexibility to expand its Las Vegas service.
“We’ve known for a long time how popular Las Vegas is with Maui residents, so we’re pleased to offer this new flight to address that demand,” said Ingram. “At the same time, we believe the convenience of this new nonstop service will boost visitor traffic to Maui, as Las Vegas is home to so many people with strong ties to the islands as well as a busy hub for flight connections on other carriers.”
“This is great news for our community,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “Our residents will enjoy flying direct to a favorite destination. Aside from being a fun vacation spot – many of our island families have relatives and friends in Las Vegas. This new service will make it more convenient for them to stay connected. I want to thank Hawaiian Airlines for expanding their flight service and bringing this welcomed addition to Maui.”
Hawaiian’s new Las Vegas nonstop flight is designed for the travel convenience of Maui residents. Flight #32 will depart Kahului Airport on Mondays and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. and arrive at McCarran International Airport at 4:35 p.m., giving enough time to enjoy a full evening in Las Vegas the first day.
Flight #31 will depart Las Vegas on Sundays and Wednesdays at 6:25 p.m. and arrive on Maui at 9:25 p.m., allowing for a full final vacation day in Las Vegas before arriving home in time to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
When Daylight Saving Time ends, the Las Vegas departure and arrival times will be approximately one hour earlier.
Hawaiian will serve the Maui-Las Vegas route with its wide-body Boeing 767-300 aircraft seating up to 264 passengers, resulting in more than 2,000 new air seats per month. Passengers will be treated to the hospitality of Hawaiian’s distinctive and award-winning “Hawaii Starts Here” onboard service, showcasing the culture, music, natural beauty, and people of Hawaii throughout the flight.
The Maui-Las Vegas flight is the third nonstop flight that Hawaiian is adding to its schedule this year between Maui and the U.S. mainland. This past weekend, Hawaiian launched its first-ever nonstop flights between Maui and Oakland, adding 24,000 new air seats for the peak summer season. On June 17, Hawaiian is re-introducing seasonal nonstop service between Maui and San Diego for the first time since 2008, providing an additional 18,000 air seats for the summer.
It launched Lome-based ASKY Airlines in January. CEO Girma Wake previously told ATWOnline that Ethiopian has a 25% stake in ASKY, which has a diverse ownership spread among individuals and institutions in 11 African countries. The carrier operates to 11 destinations and will take delivery of its third 737NG during the summer. "ASKY has become profitable already," Wake told ATWOnline this week on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Berlin.
He said ET is evaluating launching additional airlines in southern or northern Africa. "But first we want to [solidify] ASKY," he explained. He did not rule out investing in existing African carriers. "We are talking to [some airlines]," he revealed. A further possibility could be to join forces with another major African airline to launch a startup, he said. He also reiterated that ET would like to join Star Alliance.
ET operates 26 jet aircraft (including a freighter fleet of two 747Fs, two MD-11Fs and two 757-200Fs) and nine turboprops. "We take delivery of our first 777-200LR this autumn," Wake said. A total of five 777-200LRs will arrive through July 2011. It will take delivery of three 737-800s during the remainder of this year. He added that delivery of the carrier's first 787 is confirmed "for July 2011." It has 10 787s on order.
ET operates an extensive network, including 14 weekly flights to both China and India. Wake said it is considering new Asian destinations such as Malaysia and South Korea. It also is evaluating additional US routes including New York JFK, Atlanta or even a West Coast destination. It currently serves Washington Dulles.
He noted that ET faces stiff competition from non-African airlines within Africa. "Carriers like Emirates and Qatar are fighting like crazy across the continent," he said. "But so far there is business for everyone."
Wake expects ET to grow passenger traffic at the rate of 20% annually. Currently, 60%-70% of its passengers transfer through its Addis Ababa hub. It expects to transport around 3 million passengers this year, up from 2.8 million last year. Cargo remains an important part of its business, generating 18% of total revenue. He said it is considering operating 777 freighters "in the future."
RNP-SAAAR procedures use global positioning and inertial navigation reference systems to fly predetermined paths that have been loaded onto the aircraft’s flight management computer. Gulfstream received operational capability approval to fly RNP-SAAAR approaches to a minimum of RNP 0.3 in late 2007.
Separately, Gulfstream’s flight operations department has clinched FAA approval to use the future air navigation system (FANS) 1/A data link on its G450 aircraft. Gulfstream says it is the first large-cabin purpose-built business-jet manufacturer to receive such approval.
The ability to use FANS 1/A applies to G450 aircraft equipped with the enhanced navigation package that is available for the signature PlaneView flight deck featuring Honeywell Primus Epic avionics. The enhanced package adds controller-pilot data link communication (CPDLC) to automatic dependent surveillance – contract (ADS-C), completing the aircraft’s FANS 1/A capability.
“This approval reflects the tremendous effort we’ve made toward preparing Gulfstream aircraft for the next generation of air navigation,” says Gulfsream senior vice-president, programmes, engineering and test Pres Henne.
“Being able to offer ADS-C and CPDLC to our operators is important because they provide improved communications and operational efficiency. Our operators value that and we do, too.”
Test aircraft T1 (s/n 6001) continues to perform envelope expansion tests while T2 (s/n 6002) is focused on system functionality, including environmental controls and hydraulics. The fourth aircraft, dubbed P1 (first production aircraft), was expected to fly for the first time late last month.
P1 will receive a full interior at Gulfstream's facility in Savannah before returning to the flight line for interior for cabin systems testing. P2, the fifth certification program aircraft, will be used primarily for reduced vertical separation testing.
Gulfstream in May achieved a top cruise speed of M0.925 with T1, boosting confidence that the G650, when certifiedas specified, will be the fastest production business aircraft in the world. Cessna currently holds that title with the M0.92 Citation X.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Despite what he called a "terrible" 2009, with revenues off nearly 20 percent, Southwest managed a small profit for the full year, and has been profitable this year, with projections for an even better second half, he said in a luncheon speech to members of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
"It's easy for me to tell you that that the domestic airline industry is in much better shape now than it was a year ago," he said.
But challenges remain, Kelly added, even though Southwest now carries more domestic passengers daily than any other airline. "Business travel takes a huge hit in a recession and can take several years to recover," he said.
Even with the downturn, Nashville continues to be an important market for Southwest, Kelly said. The airline operates more than half of the daily flights at Nashville International Airport. The airline has almost 300 employees in Nashville, as well as several flight crews living in the area.
Southwest began service to Nashville with just eight daily flights in 1986, the same year Kelly joined the airline. Today, it has about 80 daily departures, airport spokeswoman Emily Richard said.
Even without the spreading BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that could curtail this summer's tourism business on many Florida beaches, Southwest took a gamble when it began daily flights from Nashville and three other cities to Panama City Beach, Fla., last month, Kelly said.
"That's a brand-spanking-new airport," he said. "To us, this is a huge risk."
But the flights have been nearly full, he said. "We rarely see that with a brand-new market."
Whether that will continue as the oil comes ashore remains to be seen, he said. "We're not predicting any effect (on Southwest's passenger loads), but we just don't know."
Fuel costs have more than tripled since 2005, which has forced Southwest and other airlines to raise fares.
He elicited a round of applause from the chamber crowd when he pledged that bags will continue to "fly free on Southwest," while competitors such as Dallas-area rival American Airlines charge up to $120 for two checked bags per round trip. "We chose not to pursue hidden fees … which we know that customers hate," Kelly said.
New planes will wait
The worst of the recession is over, at least for the airline industry, he said, and Southwest is thinking again about expanding, though it's not ready to add aircraft.
For now, Southwest will continue with its fleet of all 137-passenger Boeing 737 aircraft, although those planes are "a little long in the tooth now," Kelly said,
"We long for the next aircraft," he said, adding that it might be a new line of Boeing jets, but that no proposals for a new model have come yet from the Chicago-based manufacturer.
Whichever company makes the next generation of Southwest jets, the planes need to be more fuel-efficient, Kelly said. The airline also is looking at expanding its flights beyond the U.S. mainland, perhaps first into Canada and Mexico, and maybe to Hawaii, he said.
Southwest has never flown internationally but will begin an alliance with Mexico's Volaris Airlines later this year to offer Mexico flights on Volaris planes booked through the Southwest.com website, Kelly said.
By a vote of 823-544, workers approved a deal that improves employee healthcare and pension plans from a proposal overwhelmingly rejected by union members in early May, leading to the plant's first strike in more than 25 years.
Workers will begin returning to the sprawling C-17 production line next to Long Beach Airport today, with full production resuming within several days.
"The new contract recognizes our employees' ongoing contributions to our success while enhancing the company's ability to increase our competitiveness and keep the C-17 airlifter affordable so that we can win new work and extend the life of the production line in Long Beach," Boeing officials said in a statement.
Workers walked off the job May 11 in a dispute over healthcare and pension benefits affecting some 1,700 employees involved in production and assembly of the $200 million cargo jet.
The sprawling production line next to Long Beach Airport was quickly shuttered, though some 3,000 other non-union C-17 workers involved in sales, management, research and other departments have continued reporting to work.
After weeks of picketing and posturing, the two parties began meeting again June 3 after a federal mediator agreed to help negotiate a compromise. The new proposal extends the contract by 12 months while reducing employee healthcare contributions from the previous offer.
A company increase in pension benefits was also included in the revised contract, while pay increases and job-protection proposals have been left untouched.
Boeing offered a $4,000 lump-sum payment in lieu of a raise this year, with 3 percent annual wage increases in following years.
After unanimously urging members to reject the previous contract (the previous vote was 1,103 against the contract and 285 for it), nine of the union's 10 negotiators this time recommended approval, providing a boost to supporters of the plan on both sides.
Boeing employs nearly 5,000 people in Long Beach, with C-17 vendors and suppliers in 44 states supporting an estimated 30,000 more jobs.
C-17 production is officially expected to end by 2013, though the Indian media is reporting that Congress this week approved the sale of 10 C-17s to the Indian Air Force. As part of the deal, Boeing would also provide lifetime service and parts for India's jets - maintenance that would be performed at a Boeing warehouse near Spring Street and Redondo Avenue.
While the jet has been the workhorse of the United States Air Force since production began in the mid-1990 s, other countries have increasingly turned to Boeing's massive airlifter for military and humanitarian needs.
The United Kingdom, Qatar, Canada, Australia and the United Arab Emirates have purchased C-17s in recent years, and deals are reportedly being discussed for sales to Saudi Arabia, Japan, Pakistan and Denmark.
If foreign orders are secured in coming months, the Long Beach plant could remain in production well into the decade.
The first Arik Air A330-223 (c/n 1002) 5N-EIA is captured at London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) today. The aircraft was originally built for Air Comet but was not taken up due to the carriers demise and has been parked at both Toulouse-Blagnac (TLS/LFBO) and Chateauroux-Deols (Marcel Dassault) - (CHR/LFLX) during the past year.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The vote of confidence came as EADS prepared to show off the capabilities of its embattled A400M military transporter plane at the Berlin Air Show, and as it faces a simmering dispute with German military bosses over problems with two of its new helicopters.
Emirates' order would be worth USD$11.09 billion at a list price of USD$346.5 million per plane and brings the airline's total A380 order to 90 planes.
Emirates became Dubai's flagship company and one of the biggest contributors to the local economy after the property crisis devastated real estate firms. The government-owned group expects to earn USD$1.16 billion in 2010.
The carrier, which started in 1985 with two planes, has grown to rival the likes of Qantas and Singapore Airlines for passenger traffic between Europe and east Asia.
The order made for a splash start to the Berlin show, a biennial event that tends to be overshadowed by larger events and larger orders elsewhere.
It was big enough to attract the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even as she came under fire from the rest of the global aviation industry for proposing a new passenger tax.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Chicago-based aerospace company and the United Auto Workers Local 148, representing 1,700 workers at the military aircraft factory, struck the deal late Friday after two days of talks arranged by a federal mediator.
The union's rank-and-file are scheduled to vote on the proposed deal Wednesday. If approved, production could resume as early as the next day, said Local 148 President Stan Klemchuk.
"Boeing put together a good deal here," Klemchuk said. "One thing about negotiations: You don't get everything you want. But we're happy with what was offered."
The assembly line workers walked off their jobs May 11, after rejecting a labor contract they said imposed too many concessions, including a lower company contribution for pensions and higher medical copayments.
Under the new proposed five-year contract, workers would not get a raise this year, but would get a $4,000 lump sum payout. They would get a 3% raise each year over the remaining life of the contract. In addition, Boeing would increase its pension contribution by $2 to $81 a month for every year of service.
Also, employees would pay 13% of their medical costs in an HMO plan, down from 15% under the previous contract offer.
"We think both sides had to give a little to reach this tentative agreement," said Cindy Anderson, a Boeing spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, Boeing is facing the prospect of closing the plant soon because of slowing orders for the massive, four-engine military cargo plane.
Although the plane has been a workhorse for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, orders have been slowing. With no additional orders, the sprawling factory, adjacent to Long Beach Airport, could close in 2012.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
"We're pleased to bring yet another affordable and convenient way for our customers to get away," Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant president, said. "In 2006, we began serving San Joaquin Valley residents by offering nonstop flights to Las Vegas. We look forward to offering even more low-cost service to the community with our new flights to Long Beach."
"We are thrilled that Allegiant has selected the Stockton Metropolitan Airport as one of the airports to launch their new service to Long Beach," Carlos Villapudua, chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, said. "Allegiant's low fares and the high quality of their service, in addition to the ease and convenience of our airport, will be a winning combination for air travelers in our community."
The new flights will operate five times weekly between Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK) and Long Beach Airport (LGB) with service Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Flights will depart Stockton at 11:05 a.m. arriving in Long Beach at 12:20 p.m. Flights leaving Long Beach will depart at 1 p.m. arriving in Stockton at 2:15 p.m. (all flight times are local). Allegiant will utilize 150-seat, MD-80 series, jet aircraft on the route.