Friday, May 29, 2015

Global Express parade at Long Beach Airport

On May 27, 2015, two Bombardier Global Express's visited Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) both departing just minutes apart. Both were new airframes for me as well so this visit made it even more special for me. 
Global Express XRS (c/n 9215) N18WF rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30.

Global Express (c/n 9128) N613WF just about to rotate off Rwy 30.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

BizAir Shuttle to commence daily service between Carsbad and LAX June 18th!

Well lets see if this one gets off the ground and most importantly survives! I certainly hope so!

Michael Carter

(Editor - Aero Pacific Flightlines) 


BizAir Shuttle will operate Embraer ERJ-135(LR) (c/n 145388) N234BZ which was previously operated by American Eagle as N736DT. 
Flight Schedule

DepartArriveDeparture TimeArrival TimeDays
Carlsbad (CLD)Los Angeles (LAX)6:00 AM
9:00 AM
2:49 PM
5:41 PM
4:30 PM
6:52 AM
9:46 AM
3:35 PM
6:27 PM
5:16 PM
F, Sa, Sun
F, Sa
Los Angeles (LAX)Carlsbad (CLD)7:35 AM
10:30 AM
4:17 PM
7:09 PM
6:00 PM
8:23 AM
11:18 AM
5:05 PM
7:57 PM
6:46 PM
F, Sa, Sun
F, Sa
Coming Soon
Carlsbad (CLD)
Las Vegas (LAS)
10:35 AM
12:35 PM
11:35 AM
1:35 PM
F, Sa, Sun
Coming Soon
Las Vegas (LAS)
Carlsbad (CLD)
12:35 PM
2:35 PM
1:40 PM
3:35 PM
F, Sa, Sun

Looking for a buyer: Skymark A380s sit on Airbus tarmac in Toulouse

Two A380's once destined for Skymark Airlines, now sit waiting for a new customer at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France.

Taking in the Toulouse sunshine, and clearly not going anywhere soon, is this pair of Airbus A380s which were originally bound for Japan and Tokyo-based low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines, which defaulted on its payments for six A380s early this year and filed for bankruptcy protection.

I’m in Toulouse today for Airbus’ annual Innovation Day briefing for journalists and the event is taking place in the company’s A380 VIP center. With me is ATW correspondent Kurt Hofmann, who took these photos of the A380s sitting just outside the building.

In happier times, Skymark Airlines first A380 takes to the skies on her maiden flight.

Skymark was de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in March; it struggled, and ultimately failed, to make its business model work against Japan’s fiercely-competitive LCC market.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has agreed to buy up to 20% of Skymark, but the current restructuring plan has been rejected by two of Skymark’s largest creditors, Airbus and lessor Intrepid Aviation.

In the foreground of these photos you will also see an A380 built for British Airways, one of 12 that BA ordered and which it is now operating on routes such as London Heathrow to Washington Dulles and Singapore. Happier times for that A380, at least.

(Karen Walker - ATW Editors Blog)

New Chinese cargo carrier Ningxia Cargo Airlines gets green light

Ningxia Cargo Airlines has received approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China for its launch.

The specific timetable for its formal launch remains to be decided. According to the regulator, the Yinchuan-based carrier has a registered capital of CNY120 million ($19.5 million). Shan’xi Tongyang Investment Management Company made an investment of CNY63.6 million to hold a 53% stake, while Xi’an Huijie Industrial and Trade Company invested CNY52.8 million for a 44% stake.

Shan’xi International Air Cargo Company, Chongda International Agency and Shan’xi Xiangyu Logistics hold the remaining 3% stake.

The new venture is expected to initially fly three Boeing 737-300 aircraft leased from Zhejiang Loong Airlines.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Irish parliament approves Aer Lingus share sale

Aer Lingus Airbus A330-202 (c/n 397) EI-DAA "St. Keeva" captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 20, 2008.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The lower house of the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann, has given the Irish government the green light to sell its stake in Aer Lingus to International Airlines Group (IAG).
On Tuesday, IAG announced that it had won Irish government support for its €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) Aer Lingus takeover proposal, however this remained subject to the Dáil Éireann approving the general principles of the deal.

The Dáil Éireann gave its clearance on Wednesday in a move that was welcomed by IAG. However, IAG noted that the still deal hinges on other items, including agreement from 29.8% Aer Lingus shareholder Ryanair.

IAG has been courting Aer Lingus since last December, culminating in the current takeover proposal of €2.55 ($2.78) per share. To succeed, the offer—which will not be increased—must be backed by at least 90% of Aer Lingus’ shareholders, meaning Ryanair’s buy-in will be pivotal.

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington said: “Aer Lingus will reap the commercial and strategic benefits of being part of the much larger and globally diverse IAG Group as a member of the oneworld alliance of 17 airlines that together carry over 500 million passengers.”

He said the sale of shares to IAG would increase growth and enhance gateway access to Europe and North America. “This in turn will lead to an increase in jobs at Aer Lingus, in support of activities and the tourism sector and, importantly, will strengthen connectivity to and from Ireland.”

Other carriers have expressed concern should the takeover of Aer Lingus be completed by IAG, parent of Iberia, Vueling and British Airways. They are worried about the loss of competition on Dublin-London LHR, the world’s second busiest market.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Indian Ocean airlines unite in Vanilla Alliance initiative

The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) airlines will sign a cooperation agreement on June 18 establishing the ‘Vanilla Alliance’ aimed at improving air services between IOC member states and international connectivity to the region.

The Vanilla Alliance will be made up of Air Austral (Reunion), Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, and the Ministry of Transport of the Union of Comoros (until the appointment of a carrier in that country).

The airlines have agreed to “jointly defend their common interests and enhance international connectivity [to, from, and within the] islands while taking care to preserve the attractiveness of passenger fares.”

Air Austral CEO Marie-Joseph Malé, who is also president of the IOC Airline Committee, said that the IOC-led initiative represented "a major turning point for regional air transport."

In parallel, the civil aviation authorities of the IOC member states are, through the IOC civil aviation committee, exploring the possibility of establishing a shared regulatory framework, as well as strengthening government competency in areas such as training and safety.

The Vanilla Alliance idea stemmed from an international symposium on air transport in the Indian Ocean region hosted by the IOC in May 2013. Following that symposium, the IOC published a report in January last year called ‘Indianocéania's Wings’ which demonstrated the measurable and sustainable added value of a coordinated approach to air transport.

(Anne Paylor - ATWOnline News)

Airbus debates new A320 output hike, suffers test glitch

United Airlines Airbus A320-232 (c/n 504) N423UA climbs from Rwy 1L during north traffic operations at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on January 29, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Airbus is leaning towards a new hike in production of its A320 jet, raising the stakes in a battle with Boeing to translate record orders into tangible deliveries, but has yet to decide on the risks of handling unprecedented volumes.

Europe's largest aerospace firm indicated the chances were rising that it would increase production targets again just months after setting an output goal of 50 medium-haul aircraft a month by early 2017, compared with 42 a month now.

The debate is the latest evidence of a prolonged up-cycle in the aerospace industry as demand soars from new players in emerging markets and established airlines renew older fleets.

But a decision on whether to increase output again depends mainly on whether suppliers can keep pace with the challenges of producing a 150-seat jetliner every few hours, just as other civil aerospace firms are ramping up volumes worldwide.

At a media briefing on Thursday, company officials conveyed different levels of urgency about the decision, which would only follow a thorough analysis of several tiers of suppliers.

Sales chief John Leahy said likely demand already exceeded the plane-maker's existing production goal of 50 planes a month and the market could absorb over 60, possibly as many as 63. He expected Airbus to take a decision this year.

But chief operating officer Tom Williams said there were still "hot spots" in the supply chain and that he would not be "boxed in" to setting a deadline for the decision.

He said that supply chain risks were by definition increasing as the industry tackles ever greater volumes.
Medium-haul planes are significant sources of cash for both Airbus and Boeing. Aviation market sources see scope for several hundred more orders at next month's Paris Airshow.

If agreed, the next Airbus output hike could take place from 2018, putting pressure on Boeing to follow suit.

Demand has been boosted by the transition to new fuel-saving models of both the A320 and rival 737.

Airbus said a glitch with a small part in new Pratt & Whitney engines had disrupted A320neo flight testing.

The setback is unlikely to delay first delivery, due at end-2015, but requires some parts to be replaced, it said.

Airbus sounded marginally more optimistic than before on the larger A330, another cash cow for the company.

It had spooked investors last year with plans to cut A330 production to 6 a month from a planned level of 9 as it waits for development of a new revamped version.

In January, it did not rule out taking this down further but Williams and others said they now felt comfortable with the target of six due to a number of sales in the pipeline.

Airbus meanwhile said it had still not decided whether to improve its even larger but slow-selling A380 with new engines as requested by Dubai's Emirates, which has expressed interest in up to 200 of the planes if Airbus decides to build them.

But it began to address one of the problems overshadowing such a decision: what to do about a surge of second-hand A380s that might come onto the market when those revamped A380neo models replace earlier A380s already in the Emirates fleet.

Bregier and strategy chief Kiran Rao said there could be a future for second-hand superjumbos among long-haul, low-cost carriers due to what would by then be much lower costs.

Such a plane could help them open new markets, they said.

Critics say wide-body jets have proved risky for low-cost carriers that demand flexible operations and quick turnarounds, and that the 544-seat A380 could prove even more challenging.

Airbus says its flexibility has been under-estimated.

(Tim Hepher - Reuters)

Budget airlines could save the Airbus A380 superjumbo

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841 (c/n 045) 9V-SKJ departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 22, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

In the 10 years since the mammoth Airbus A380 first took the air, the superjumbo has not become the game-changing aircraft the company had originally hoped it would be.

Although Airbus has taken 317 orders for the jet, the company has struggled to expand its customer base past the dozen or so airlines that currently operate the airplane.
And nearly half of those orders are by a single airline — Emirates.

Now the company has to contend with a new problem.

What happens to the early production A380s as they head towards the end of their leases?

According to Robert Wall of the Wall Street Journal, Airbus believes the solution to this problem is budget long-haul airlines.
Kiran Rao, head of strategy at Airbus's commercial plane making division, told the Journal that a likely destination for second hand superjumbos is airlines looking to fly high volume of passengers in a low-cost setup. 

For these airlines, Airbus would pack the double-decker with 600-650 seats in a two-class setup, with an ideal flying distance of 6-8 hours. In more extreme situations, the company can even set the plane up to handle as many as 800 passengers. 

According to the Airbus executive, the target region for this strategy is in the Asia-Pacific market, where low-cost carriers are currently using smaller wide-body airliners, such as the Airbus A330.

So how much demand is there for a sardine-setup superjumbo — "high density" seating, in industry parlance? Rao believes there is room in the market for 40-50 of these second-hand A380s. 

Thus, Airbus may be able to accomplish two objectives with this strategy — find homes for used A380s and expand the plane's customer base. 

But as airlines seek to make their fleets smaller, more flexible, and more fuel efficient, do 600-plus seats jumbo's make business sense?


Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-4Q8 (26326/1043) G-VHOT "Tubular Belle" taxies towards a Rwy 8R departure at Miami International Airport (MIA/KMIA) on April 11, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

For example, Virgin Atlantic is in the process of dumping its fleet for fuel-guzzling, 4-engined Airbus A340s in favor of Boeing's new fuel-sipping 787-9 Dreamliner. However, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger recently told Business Insider in an interview that the airline plans on keeping its fleet of Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets, which are packed with as many as 450 seats.

Why? Because according to Kreeger, the cost per seat makes it financially feasible for the airline. Although, the aging Boeing 747-400 can be quite thirsty for fuel, the high number of seats brings down the average cost per seat associated with operating the plane.
This seems to be the play that Airbus wants to make with its off-lease A380s.

The question is, will carriers bite? Currently, low-cost long-haul carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scoot operate using smaller twin-engined Boeing 777 and 787 jets.

Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 787-8 (35305/112) EI-LNB "Thor Heyerdahl" on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 15, 2014.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Instead of making money by flying around a lot of people, airlines such as Norwegian seek to maximize the long range and fuel efficiency of their 787 "Dreamliners." In fact, Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos told Business Insider last year that the airline's long-haul business couldn't really exist without the efficient nature of planes, such as the Dreamliner.

At the end of the day, the size, and cost of the A380 will always limit the number of airlines and routes where it will be able to thrive — regardless of layout. However, a move towards the low-cost/lots-of-passengers market may be the trick to finding new homes for big old birds. 

(Benjamin Zhang - Yahoo News / Business Insider)

Eastern Air Lines rises from the deregulation ashes and flies again

(Eastern Air Lines)
Eastern Air Lines took to the skies for the first time in 24 years on Wednesday, operating a charter flight from Miami to Havana and back. The Florida-based carrier, one of America’s iconic airlines for more than 60 years before it went bankrupt in 1991, is back -- at least in name.
This new Eastern is a startup that acquired the intellectual property of the old airline, including its name, logo and even its slogans, and it’s hoping to make a big splash in the Miami and Latin America markets.
For now, Eastern has partnered with HavanaAir Charters LLC to operate twice-daily charter flights to Havana and weekly flights to Camagüey and Santa Clara, Cuba, from Miami. But CEO Ed Wegel has his sights set on much more: getting off the ground as a scheduled commercial passenger carrier with a focus on Latin America.
"We will always have a charter division, but we will begin to move into schedule operations in 12 months,” Wegel told reporters. “This will happen once we conclude another round of equity raising.”
But can Eastern compete in an already crowded market dominated by the likes of American Airlines and JetBlue, the biggest U.S. carriers to Latin America? Many experts believe it’s going to be an uphill battle for the airline that may have a legacy name but will face all the challenges of a startup in a brutal industry that’s known more for failures than success stories.
“It’s a very difficult, unforgiving business, and it’s left a long line of carnage behind it,” said Brian Foley, an airline industry analyst in Sparta, New Jersey.
And the competition Eastern will face in the market it intends to focus on -- Latin America and the Caribbean -- is especially fierce. Behemoth American Airlines, the biggest airline in the world, serves some 80 destinations in 18 countries throughout Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and many out of Miami.
JetBlue also has a strong network of flights from Florida to the Caribbean. Competing with these established players is going to require Eastern to offer passengers something they don’t already get.
“It’s going to be a very tough road for them,” said airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research. “You can’t say that they will have unfettered access to customers and take off into a bright blue sky. The reality is that they’re starting up in one of American Airlines’ largest and most important international hubs.”
American Airlines President Scott Kirby has been vocal in recent months about American’s imperative to protect its hubs. “He’s said the airline will not lose passengers to other carriers based on price, mostly referring to their hub in Dallas," said Harteveldt. "But I interpret that to apply to any airline that’s serving a route competitive with American. It will respond in some way by lowering its fares.”
In all likelihood, established competitors will undercut the prices of new entrants for as long as they need to to freeze out those newcomers. “American is established, and they can make up for the losses that that takes in this market,” said Foley.
In order to nab new passengers, Eastern will have to define itself for customers.
“What is its distinct value proposition? What will make someone who flies American or JetBlue choose Eastern?” said John Thomas, managing director and head of aviation at L.E.K. Consulting, a global consulting firm. “You have a group of people loyal to JetBlue, others to American, and they rely heavily both on travel within the U.S., but also a deep South American network. It’s a big market, but big markets aren’t necessarily the most attractive ones for startups.”
Wegel told that Eastern is not positioning itself as a low-cost carrier. Currently, its one aircraft -- a Boeing 737-800 previously owned by Kenya Airways -- is configured with 16 first-class and 129 coach seats. But this approach will require Eastern to set itself apart from the legacy carriers, and it’s too early to tell how the airline might do that.
“If they have right mix of network, price and product, they may be able to win customers' hearts,” added Harteveldt.
And Foley says that the airline’s slow approach into the industry may work in its favor. “I like that they’re being very pragmatic, starting with one plane on a charter route. And using a preowned plane, in this slow, measured approach, keeps capital costs down. Hopefully that will enable them to manage their cash flow.”
The airline expects to add four 737s to its fleet by September and also has 10 737 MAX planes on order for delivery by the end of 2022. At least two of the upcoming additional 737s will be leased -- a good strategy for a startup, said Foley.
“If things are rough, you can hand the keys back to the leasing company. There’s a penalty, of course, but you won’t be stuck with it,” said Foley, who added that starting with a charter operation to Cuba is a good way to ease into the industry. “It’s a way to establish a track record, get your operations up to snuff, before you take a bigger bite and try to be a scheduled airline.”
And what of the old name, one that’s probably most recognizable to baby boomers who remember Eastern Air Lines from its heyday? The brand recognition likely helps in some cases, but it could also backfire.
“The challenge is that when Eastern shut down, it was a failing airline. It had a terrible reputation for poor on-time performance, dirty planes, unhappy employees,” said Harteveldt. “So there’s a risk.”
But CEO Wegel, who started his career with the original Eastern Air Lines in 1985, is optimistic, as he told the Miami Herald in January. “Combine a modern airplane with a legacy airline name on the side and suddenly you’ve got a very credible product."
   - International Business Times) 

Southwest Airlines continues growth despite competitor concerns

Last week, when Jim Cramer spoke with American Airlines' top exec on "Mad Money," he had no idea that the interview would send the entire airline group plummeting the next day. Whoops!

That was exactly what happened when Cramer spoke with American's CEO Doug Parker, who shared his concerns regarding the large amount of capacity being added into the industry by his competitors.

Why was he worried? Because excess capacity means bloody competition in the airline industry.

"Some airlines are talking about 8 or 10 percent growth rates. They can't believe they have that kind of demand growth, so what they must believe is that at these economics they can fly more than they used to fly. Look, I don't think that's right," Parker said.

Previously, Cramer stayed away from the airline stocks and would not touch them with a 10-foot pole because the competition merely led to endless price wars and bankruptcies. However, a few years ago a wave of merges and acquisitions took place, finally allowing airline companies to earn a consistent flow of money.
But if airlines are now adding too much capacity, Cramer thinks this means the airlines could be reverting back to the old days of fierce competition. He suspects this is the reason why the group has been crushed in the past week and half.

Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines

Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines
(Jason Janik - Bloomberg / Getty Images)
On the same day of the American Airlines interview, Southwest Airlines CFO Tammy Romo confirmed that her airline's capacity would increase by 7 or 8 percent this year. This sent the stock down 9 percent in a single session and it has gone lower since.
Do investors need to be worried about increased capacity, or is this an overreaction to the news? To find out, Cramer spoke with Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
"Our competitors are always complaining about Southwest, and we're just going to continue to focus on running a great airline… So our plans have not changed," Kelly said.
The CEO confirmed that the company will stand by its plan to increase seats in 2015, though he stated that almost everyone in the industry is planning to add more seats than Southwest.
"We are very sensitive to what our investors think about capacity growth at Southwest Airlines, and I acknowledge that is something that they are concerned about. It is obvious here over the last week," Kelly added.
In his perspective, it seemed as though before last week everyone was fine with the company's plan to add capacity and he considers that plan to be sensible. He plans to grow the company in the long-term to be a low cost provider, but does not think it can grow any faster than GDP.
Looking at the fleet growth over the past four years, Kelly pointed out that it has literally been flat as is the available seat-mile growth.
"Our available seat-mile growth will be a little bit more than our seat growth, but it will be around 7 percent for this year; and likewise we will manage aggressively to the low end of that range for next year. Much of the growth in 2016 is simply carryover from 2015," he added.

Boeing confident on Leap and 737 Max performance promises

Boeing's top salesman is confident the CFM International Leap-1B will meet its performance targets, ensuring that the 737 Max will satisfy all the promises made to customers about the re-engined twinjet's efficiency.

CFM engine partner General Electric began the Leap-1B flight-test programme on its 747 flying testbed on 29 April at the company's operations centre in Victorville, California. The 5h 30min sortie launched a year-long programme to complete certification in 2016, when the first 737 Max is scheduled to fly.

Amid industry speculation that the -1B engine is behind on fuel-burn targets, Boeing's senior vice-president for global sales and marketing John Wojick tells Flightglobal that CFM "is absolutely tracking to their plan" on the Leap-1B, which exclusively powers the 737 Max.

"We're confident that they're going to be very, very successful in meeting the commitments they made to us, and obviously we'll be able to meet our commitments to our customers on the fuel-burn improvement," he says.

"In fact, we're hopeful we'll be able to exceed them," adds Wojick.

The Leap-1B features ceramic matrix composite materials in the stage 2 turbine shroud and a fuel nozzle disc produced using additive layer manufacturing. It is expected to deliver a 14% fuel-efficiency improvement over the CFM56-powered 737NG.

"Results to date are right in line with what we predicted and where we wanted this engine to be," says Allen Paxson, executive vice-president, CFM International.

The 737 Max is scheduled to enter service in the third quarter of 2017 with launch operator Southwest Airlines.

CFM launched flight testing of the Leap-1C for the Comac C919 in October 2014. Four months later, the GE-Snecma joint venture confirmed that flight testing of the Leap-1A engine for the Airbus A320neo had begun.

(Max Kingsley-Jones - Flightglobal News)

Delta takes delivery of first higher-weight A330-300

Delta Air Lines has taken delivery of the first higher-weight Airbus A330-300 (c/n 1627) N822NW, as part of its fleet renewal program.

The aircraft will replace ageing Boeing 747-400s Boeing and 767-300ERs in the Atlanta-based carrier's fleet, the airline says. The 242t A330-300 is 15% to 25% more fuel efficient than the Boeing wide-bodies.

asset image

Delta will take delivery of nine more higher-weight A330-300s through 2017. It will operate the aircraft on both transatlantic and transpacific routes.

“Delta's addition of this Airbus A330-300 reflects our continued strategy of making prudent investments in our fleet that enhance our customer experience and operational reliability," says Ed Bastian, president of Delta, in a statement.

The higher-weight A330-300 includes new aerodynamics, an optional center fuel tank, an extended range of 6,100nm and a 2% improvement in fuel consumption over existing A330s, says Airbus.

Delta has equipped the aircraft with General Electric CF6-80E1 engines.

The airline is configuring the A330-300s with 293 seats, including 34 lie-flat business class seats, 32 extra legroom economy seats and 227 economy seats. The aircraft also has satellite-based wi-fi and streaming inflight entertainment.

Delta will take delivery of three more higher-weight A330-300s this year, the Ascend Fleets database shows. It has firm orders for 25 re-engined A330-900s and 25 A350-900s, in addition to the nine A330-300s.

(Edward Russell - Flightglobal News)

Singapore Airlines unveils special "Independence" livery on A380

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled a special livery to mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence.

The carrier will have two Airbus A380s featuring a large Singapore flag-themed design on the fuselage. This livery is one of the many initiatives it has to mark the country’s independence, and it will remain on the two aircraft until the end of the year, says SIA.

asset image
(Singapore Airlines)

Singapore Airlines’ success is closely tied to the success of Singapore. What better way to celebrate SG50 than by proudly flying the national flag around the world on the world’s largest aircraft,” adds SIA’s chief executive Goh Choon Phong.

(Firdaus Hashim - Flightglobal News)

Gulfstream says G150 future must "play out"

Gulfstream executives stopped short of fully committing to the midsize market sector for the long-term, as the 10-year-old G150 now faces two new rivals with no replacement yet identified.

The G150 and the G280 are both based on products that Gulfstream inherited from the acquisition of Israel’s Galaxy Aerospace in 2001.

Gulfstream G150 (c/n 209) N501RP rests in the afternoon summer sun at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on August 18, 2008.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

“We’re definitely committed long-term in the G280,” incoming Gulfstream president Mark Burns tells Flightglobal in an interview. “The G150 [situation] will have to play out.”

The mid-sized G150 entered service in 2005 with a wing borrowed from the G100, a widened fuselage, uprated Honeywell TFE731 engines and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics.

The G150 previously competed against aircraft such as the Cessna Citation Sovereign and Bombardier Learjet 60XR, but now faces new alternatives in the fly-by-wire Embraer Legacy 500 and Cessna Citation Latitude.

Gulfstream introduced the heavily updated, super mid-size G280 in 2012.

Compared to the G280 market, sales of the G150 have been “slower”, says
Scott Neal, Gulfstream’s senior vice-president of worldwide sales and marketing.

“That [sector of the market] seemed to take the hardest hit,” adds Neal, referring to the 2008 financial crisis. Deliveries of large cabin aircraft continued to grow through the crisis, but sales of light and mid-sized jets have struggled to recover.

Last January, Bombardier cited continuing weakness in the midsize segment as the reason for putting development of the Learjet 85 on an indefinite pause.

Gulfstream does not break out sales totals between the G150 and G280, but reports deliveries as a group to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Since the G280 was introduced in 2012, overall deliveries for both models increased from 11 to 23 in 2013 and 33 in 2014.

By comparison overall sales of Gulfstream’s three largest products now in production – the G450, G550 and G650 – rose from 83 in 2012 to 121 in 2013 before falling slightly to 117 last year.

IAI continues to assemble the G150 and G280 aircraft at its factory near the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV/LLBG). The green aircraft are then ferried to a Gulfstream completion center at Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL) in Dallas, Texas.

(Stephen Trimble - Flightglobal News)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Alaska Airlines was 'shocked' when Delta partnership unraveled

Brad Tilden was poised and calm Thursday when discussing the future of Seattle's hometown airline. But things weren't always so relaxed for the Alaska Air Group CEO.
Alaska Air Group faced a perilous situation last year when the company’s longtime partnership with Delta Air Lines came to a screeching halt.
“At first we were just sort of shocked, you know, that the thing seemed to be unraveling,” Tilden said Thursday at a Puget Sound Business Journal Live event.
Alaska Airlines had been longtime partners with Northwest Airlines and Delta, and continued to be partners when the two larger airlines merged.
That camaraderie ended last year when Delta began expanding its own flights to Asia out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA/KSEA). Delta's expansion across-the-board in Seattle reduced its reliance on Alaska flights.
Internally, it was a major issue for Alaska's leadership team. Executives disagreed on the best way to move forward.
“I would say we did flap around on that for awhile before we sort of came to peace with exactly what our mentality was, what our mindset about the competition was and how we were going to respond,” Tilden said.
The airline has stuck to the original plan it landed on: Control yourself, don’t try to control anyone else.
“Competition is part of life in America," Tilden said. "You can sort of begrudge it if you want to, but our viewpoint is that this has made this the greatest economy in the world and we’re going to use this competition to make Alaska the greatest airline in the world.”
The competition with Delta, and other airlines, will result in a stronger Alaska, Tilden said.
Delta and Alaska are engaged in a heated battle for passengers and the biggest share of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Sea-Tac is Alaska’s home base, and Delta has made the airport its West Coast international hub.
Delta pumped up the competition Wednesday when it added hyper-local flights out of Sea-Tac.
The two companies downplay animosity between them, but its clear the battle over Sea-Tac is in full force. Alaska operates four times more flights out of Sea-Tac than Delta, but Delta’s presence is growing much faster.
(Rachel Lerman - Puget Sound Business Journal)          

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Fight Against Etihad, American Airlines May Stand Alone

Of all the wealthy Persian Gulf airlines, Etihad is the most hated. If it were an NFL quarterback, it’d be Tom Brady. Beautiful, award winning, and with the benefit of a supermodel pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the city that owns the airline.
Lumped together with its rival Emirates Airlines in Dubai and Qatar Airways in Doha, the three gulf carriers are the death knell to the American fliers dominating the friendly skies. At least that is what American Airlines, Delta and United want the Department of Transportation to think.
Despite being the market leaders in international travel, the big-three airlines claim the U.A.E. and Qatar-based airlines are stealing their thunder. In terms of service, they sure are. But in terms of passenger traffic and market share, the American airlines still rule. That has not stopped them from trying to get the DoT to tweak the Open Skies rules in their favor.
They argue that while their home markets are open to competition from Etihad, Etihad’s market is not open to them. They have a point…try finding a Delta flight parked in Abu Dhabi. Etihad is as dominant a fixture there as Delta in Atlanta.
Yet, as the big-three try to convince the government to do away with some benefits such as Export-Import Bank loans and allowing them to open up hubs at U.S. airports, judging by the comments received by the DoT, Etihad has more fans than foes.
Tom Noonan, CEO of Visit Baltimore, was one of the people to write to the DoT in favor of the Gulf carriers. He wrote:
Visit Baltimore believes strongly that Open Skies agreements should be preserved.By providing more  competition and increased capacity and choices in the air travel market, these agreements benefit  individual consumers, the entire travel industry and America’s economy through visitor spending, tax generation and job creation.
 They are essential to ensure continued growth in international travel to and from the U.S. including destinations like Baltimore. … An important factor driving recent increases in overall inbound international travel has been the increased competition from new service and new entrants into the American market from places like India, theMiddle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
 Targeting these centers of global aviation and airlines like Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways puts the entire Open Skies framework at risk. We need these carriers to help bring travelers to Baltimore and destinations throughout the country for business and leisure purposes. I urge you not to limit the Gulf carriers’ access to the U.S. Preserve Open Skies.”
American airline rivals also chimed in. The British Airways’ parent company, the International Airlines Group, said it supported Open Skies rules as is.
Competition is a fact of life for all our businesses; we believe that embracing it offers IAG the greatest opportunities to deliver profitable growth and shareholder value over the long term.
 This includes markets where IAG competes successfully – i.e. profitably – with all three major Gulf carriers. British Airways has faced direct competition from Emirates for over 25 years.”
Open Skies agreements were designed to expand international passenger and cargo flights to the U.S. The agreements do this by eliminating government interference in the commercial decisions of air carriers.
The Tom Brady of foreign airlines has also made the tiny United Arab Emirates an important destination for American businesses.
Trade between the U.S. and the U.A.E. are on the rise over the last five years. The U.A.E. is now America’s largest export market in the Middle East, beating Washington’s favorite nation Israel.
Most of this is big ticket airport communications and satellite equipment from places like Raytheon, military items like aircraft, and security x-ray equipment for the new port being built in Abu Dhabi. Direct Abu-Dhabi flights from Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago and Houston make this much easier.
U.S. exports and foreign direct investment there rose from $3.6 billion in 2004 to $24.6 billion in 2013.
Moreover, despite claims by the U.S. airlines, the market for air travel from the U.S. to the Indian Sub-Continent has expanded significantly from 2009 to 2014 with U.S. airlines and their European partners actually flying 223,000 more passengers during that period. Etihad acquired Jet Airways in India two years ago. However, passengers flying to Mumbai can leave the U.S., stop over in Abu Dhabi, and then fly to Mumbai. On the return, they can clear customs in Abu Dhabi instead of in the U.S.
A report by Edgeworth Economics showed that routes where Etihad competes with the big three and their global alliance partners actually carried more passengers, despite having lost market share on certain routes due to increased competition.
Passenger numbers rose by 18% and market share fell 4.4% for fights between the U.S. and India between 2009 and 2014 when Etihad started traveling there. First and business class passenger volume from the U.S. to India rose 27%.
Kevin Knight, chief strategy officer at Etihad, called American airlines “arrogant” for trying to do away with current Open Skies regulations.
“The claims made by the three U. S. carriers that Etihad Airways and other Gulf carriers are damaging their business and taking ’their’ passengers, are not only false, but also arrogant,” he said. “They do not ‘own’ these passengers, nor do they do have a right to them.”
Etihad said it will file its response with the DoT this week.
(Kenneth Rapoza - Forbes)

Troubled Malaysia Airlines to be completely revamped: new CEO

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6(ER) (29065/329) 9M-MRL climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 18, 2013. The carrier has since ceased LAX operations as of April 30, 2015.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Loss-making Malaysia Airlines is set to undergo a complete overhaul as it is restructured into a new company, with a rebranding that will be unveiled next week and changes planned to its fleet and network strategies.

Christoph Mueller, who joined from Irish national carrier Aer Lingus, said in his first ever interview since taking over as chief executive on May 1 that the new company will be like a "start-up."

A new name and livery are on the cards for Malaysia Airlines (MAS), sources told Reuters.

"I'm hired to run the new company entirely on commercial terms and there's very little margin for error," Mueller told Reuters at the downtown Kuala Lumpur office of Malaysian state investor Khazanah, which took MAS private late last year as part of a 6 billion ringgit ($1.66 billion) restructuring.

"It's not a continuation of the old company in a new disguise, everything is new," said Mueller, who helped turn around carriers such as Aer Lingus, Belgium’s Sabena, and Germany's Lufthansa.

Khazanah said on Monday that the chairman of audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Malaysia has been appointed to oversee the move of MAS' assets and liabilities to a new company, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, which is due to start operating by September.

The airline, which has seen successive years of losses, suffered huge damage to its brand after flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared in March last year, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.

In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, and all 298 aboard were killed.

Apart from the brand, analysts say that the key to a revival will be the management's ability to reduce costs, deploy capacity more efficiently, create a profitable network that leverages on Kuala Lumpur's position as a regional hub, and partnerships with other airlines.


MAS, in the past, was also hindered by disagreements between the management and the unions, which opposed job cuts. The government also interfered in the day-to-day running of the airline, and commercial contracts were often awarded to suppliers with political connections.

MAS has announced plans to lay off about a third of its 20,000 work-force, expected in the coming week, and will also shrink its capacity this year.

Mueller confirmed that the carrier has been trying to sell two of its A380s and will likely have fewer planes overall, but added that the new company will keep all of its current types of aircraft including the Airbus A330s, Boeing 777-200s and 737-800s.

Competition has been intense at home, where low-cost carrier AirAsia has taken much of the short-haul market from MAS and affiliate AirAsia X has provided stiff competition in the medium and long-haul markets.

The airline's costs are 20 percent above its rivals and Mueller said it will take 3 years to close that gap and return to profitability.

"We are not without our weapons. It's doable, and it depends on the vigor in which we pursue the cost reduction," he said.

(Siva Govindasamy & Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah - Business Insider / Reuters)

Southwest Rushes Woman Home to Son in Coma

Southwest Airlines went above and beyond the call of duty to rush a woman home to her ill son earlier this month.
Right before her flight took off from Chicago to Columbus, Southwest Airline employees found passenger Peggy Uhle to alert her to upsetting news. 
According to local news reports from the CBS station 21 News in Harrisburg customer service representatives told Ms. Uhle to call her husband. Her phone had been switched off while she was on the plane. Her husband informed her that their 24-year-old son was in a coma in Denver.
A spokesperson for Southwest informed 21 News that the airline rebooked her on a new flight home directly to Denver free of charge.
“The gate attendant already knew the situation and had booked me on a direct flight to Denver that was leaving the next two hours,” Uhle told the travel blog
Uhle went on to explain the airline’s kindness. “They offered a private waiting area, rerouted my luggage, allowed me to board first, and packed a lunch for when I got off the plane in Denver. My luggage was delivered to where I was staying, and I even received a call from Southwest asking how my son was doing.
Southwest never asked for payment for the Denver flight, luggage delivery or anything else,” she concluded. “The care that I was shown is second to none. We have always liked Southwest Airlines and now we can’t say enough good things about them.”
Her son is currently recovering from a traumatic brain condition.
(Jo Piazza - Yahoo Travel News)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

When Ford Pintos Fly: The Bizarre Story of Henry Smolinski and His Flying Ford

When Ford Pintos Fly: The Bizarre Story of Henry Smolinski and His Flying Ford
(Doug Duncan)
People give their lives for many reasons. Some die for their country, others for their faith. Every so often, however, we hear of people who give their lives for less noble ideals. Take Henry Smolinski for example. He died while trying to make his dream of a flying Ford Pinto come true.
Smolinski was born in 1933. He attended the Northrup Institute of Technology, where he studied aeronautical engineering. Afterwards he worked at North American aviation as a structural engineer, where he helped to develop new jet aircraft designs. In 1959 he accepted a position at Rocketdyne, where he pioneered work in the firm’s missile and aerospace programs.
Smolinski might have gone on to enjoy a noted career and a happy retirement, had he not developed an interest in building the world’s first flying car. To that end, he founded a company called Advanced Vehicle Engineers in Van Nuys, California in 1971.
Smolinski, along with a friend named Hal Blake, wanted to build sturdy, lightweight airframes that drivers could bolt to their cars. He imagined motorists flying the automobile/airplane combos to a distant airfield, unbolting the wings and propeller, and completing their journey by car.
Flying Ford Pinto 2
(Doug Duncan)
By itself, this ambition seems not only sane but admirable. After all, who doesn’t want a vehicle that can traverse both highways and airways? Many inventors have dreamt of building such a machine. So we can’t fault Smolinski for wanting to achieve this goal.
We can, however, question the way in which they went about it. For starters, the automobile he chose for his prototype was the Ford Pinto, known more for its explosive qualities than for its mechanical quality. For the aeronautical portion of the vehicle, Blake and Smolinski disassembled a Cessna Skymaster, removing the front engine and cabin and bolting the rest of the assembly to the Pinto.
To control the plane while in flight, the duo developed a set of adapters that would allow the driver/pilot to control the ailerons by turning the steering wheel, while using the pedals to control the rudder. They modified the Pinto’s dashboard, giving it an airspeed gauge, a directional gyroscope, a radio navigational equipment, and an altimeter.
The idea of a flying Pinto was fodder for newspapers of the time, giving Smolinski ample opportunities for press conferences. At one such meeting, a group of skeptical engineers posed some concerns about the project’s viability. Smolinski reportedly responded by saying, “Look, we know there are problems with our idea. But we’re confident we have the answers.” He chose to name his unlikely craft the Mizar, after a star in the Big Dipper.
(Doug Duncan)
 In 1973 the Mizar, piloted by Charles “Red” Jennise, took off from a California airfield. At first all went well. Then the mounting struts for the right wing failed. Jennise realized that turning stresses would probably destroy the craft were he to turn it around. So he reduced power while flying straight ahead, landing unhurt in a field of beans several miles away. Unable to remove the Cessna attachments, he drove the vehicle, wings and all, back to the airport.
 Blake and Smolinski went back to the drawing board, and by September 1973 they were ready to test a modified version of the Mizar. On the 11th of that month the pair took off from Ventura County Airport; Jennise was unavailable to pilot the craft on that day.
 Mac Grisham, the airport manager, was alarmed to see the vehicle take off without his prior approval. He ran to the control tower to radio Blake and Smolinski. Before he could reach his destination, however, he heard the airfield’s crash horn go off. He turned to see a pillar of black smoke rising from the spot where the Mizar should’ve been. Emergency responders raced to the scene of the accident, where they found what was left of Blake and Smolinski.
Later investigation revealed that the Mizar suffered from faulty welding and loose parts. Also, its combined weight was well over recommended safety limits for the Cessna engine that was used.
 Smolinski’s death ended his dream of an airborne Pinto, and the Mizar took its place in the annals of oddball aviation history.
 (Bill Wilson - Bold Ride)