Thursday, November 23, 2017

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7L9(WL) (28009/224) N7816B

Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 23, 2017 wearing a special livery promoting the new Pixar movie "Coco."

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-346(ER) (32421/429) JA731J

Captured on short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) sporting special "PGA Champions" markings on November 23, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Boeing starts assembling first Max 7

Boeing has started final assembly of the third and smallest variant in the re-engined 737 Max family.

The first Max 7 flight-test aircraft is now loaded into a final-assembly position inside Boeing's single-aisle production centre in Renton, Washington, the airframer confirmed in a Twitter posting on 22 November.

Final assembly begins after a completed fuselage arrives from Spirit AeroSystems. Boeing manufactures the wings for the 737 Max in a building adjacent to the final assembly hangars in Renton. CFM International ships Leap-1B engines which are installed at the end of the final assembly process.

The 737-7 – with 138-153 seats in a two-class layout – enters final assembly three years after Boeing achieved a similar milestone with the 162-189-seat Max 8. That variant entered service in May.

In December 2016, Boeing started final assembly of the first 178-193-seat Max 9, which is on track to enter service next year. The airframer is also designing the 188-204-seat Max 10.

Though the smallest of the four major Max variants, the 737-7 has the longest range: 3,825nm (7,080km).

(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News) 

China's Okay Airways orders five Boeing Dreamliners for $1.4 bn

Boeing and China's first privately owned airline, Okay Airways, have finalized a $1.4-billion order for five Dreamliner jets, the two companies said on Thursday.

The purchase of the five 787-9 long-haul aircraft by the Beijing-based airline was signed off in the United States on Wednesday and announced on Thursday via the companies' official accounts on Chinese microblogging site, Weibo.

Okay Airways currently has a fleet of 26 single-corridor Boeing 737 planes, which fly to 70 destinations in China and elsewhere in Asia.

The Chinese company had signed a preliminary agreement to buy the planes back in June, when it has also made a firm order for 15 medium-sized 737 MAX planes at a catalogue price of $1.8 billion.

"We are committed to investing in our aircraft fleet in order to keep growing ahead of the market and enhancing our customers' flying experience," said Okay Airways president Li Zongling, according to China's official news agency Xinhua.

He added that the order would strengthen the airline's plans to expand into the long-haul market.

Chinese companies are on the whole profiting from the country's spectacular rate of aviation expansion, fueled by a growing middle class and a rapidly developing tourism industry.

But competition on international routes is becoming more intense, with China's three airlines -- Air China, China Southern and China Eastern -- fighting it out to lead the sector.

(AFP / Yahoo Business News)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Air China suspends flights to North Korea

Air China has suspended flights to North Korea, further limiting the secretive state's links with the outside world, but the company said Wednesday it was a business decision.

The suspension comes shortly after US President Donald Trump visited Beijing and pressed his counterpart Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

China sent a special envoy, Song Tao, to the North last week but his four-day trip ended with no direct statement on the crisis, after Pyongyang's series of nuclear and missile tests triggered global alarm.

Air China said in a statement to AFP that it cancelled the Beijing to Pyongyang flight route because the "operational situation is not ideal".

"Market conditions will determine the resumption of the flight route," the statement said.

Air China last cancelled flights to North Korea in April, citing low customer demand, but resumed them soon after.

China has denied any political motives behind its flag carrier's suspension of the route.

"The airliners just work out their own operation plans based on the state of operation and the market," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Tuesday when asked about the apparent move.

Passengers flying from Beijing to North Korea are now left with just three regularly scheduled flights each week, on the North Korean state airline Air Koryo.

Air Koryo also operates flights from the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to Pyongyang, though it halted flights from the Chinese border city of Dandong earlier this year.

Beijing is Pyongyang's only major ally and biggest trade partner, though in August China said it would abide by new UN sanctions which heavily curtail the North's exports of its most profitable goods.

The US on Tuesday unveiled new sanctions targeting North Korean shipping and Chinese traders doing business with Pyongyang, again raising the pressure on the pariah state to abandon its nuclear program.

China's foreign ministry rejected the sanctions on Chinese firms as "wrong", stressing that Beijing has enforced UN measures curbing trade with Pyongyang.

(AFP World News)

DOT cancels AOC for Eastern Air Lines

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has canceled Eastern Air Lines’ air operator’s certificate (AOC), thus bringing to close a long-running—and some say, quixotic—attempt to revive a name storied in aviation history.

DOT, in an order dated Nov. 20, said it would “cancel the certificate authority issued to Eastern Air Lines Group Inc., authorizing it to engage in interstate and foreign charter air transportation of persons, property and mail.”

Eastern on Nov. 13 notified DOT that it would it voluntarily surrender its operating certificate to the FAA and that “[the carrier] did not object to the [DOT] canceling its economic authority.”

The order took immediate effect—although Eastern, or any interested party, has 10 days to petition DOT.

The department awarded the revived Eastern economic authority on April 28, 2015. DOT expanded the certificate to allow Miami-based Eastern to fly foreign charter operations in May 2015. Eastern operated charters between Miami and Havana, Cuba, and planned scheduled service to other points in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2016, Eastern applied for some of the 20 daily scheduled frequencies between Miami and Havana made available by the US-Cuba bilateral air services agreement. DOT denied Eastern’s application, arguing that it had not established a record of service at the time.

The carrier leased Boeing 737s and had orders for 10 737-8s scheduled for delivery beginning in 2020. Eastern also ordered 20 Mitsubishi MRJs; these were scheduled for delivery in 2019.

The carrier made the news in 2016, when a charter flight carrying then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (the 2016 Republican vice presidential candidate), overran the runway at New York LaGuardia Airport. On Oct. 27, 2016, the Boeing 737-700 skidded off the runway during wet and overcast conditions, and was stopped by the arresting material at the end of the runway. No injuries were reported.

Eastern ceased operations Sept. 7. The original Eastern Air Lines operated from 1926-91 and was one of the original “Big Four” US carriers. Since 1991, a number of attempts to revive the brand have failed.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

Will lie-flat seats become standard on US transcon flights?

Lie-flat business-class seats have become the standard for long-haul international flying. Delta Air Lines, in fact, has concluded that lie-flat alone is no longer good enough; just launched Delta Airbus A350-900 Detroit-Tokyo Narita service debuts Delta One business-class seats with sliding doors to create privacy compartments. This mirrors long-haul business-class service offered by a number of Asian and Middle East airlines.

What about the domestic market? Delta has just added lie-flat seats on at least one daily flight on six more domestic routes. By May 2018, 10 Delta domestic routes will offer lie-flat seating.

Could lie-flat become the standard on US transcontinental service and on domestic flights to Hawaii from the US midwest and east coast?

Increasingly, Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines are offering lie-flat seats in domestic business class (or, in the parlance US airlines use, domestic “first class”) on transcontinental flights. JetBlue Airways’ lie-flat Mint product continues to grow and perform well; Mint-configured Airbus A321s now make up the majority of JetBlue’s transcon capacity.

There are still a lot of transcon flights without lie-flat seats. For example, if next summer you are looking to fly from New York to Las Vegas in comfort, Delta will offer lie-flat seats on just one of its five daily flights on the route. But on routes like New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco, lie-flat offerings are becoming pretty ubiquitous.

The move to transcon lie-flat seating in business class comes as Delta and American also re-introduce economy-class meals at no extra fee on select cross-country flights.

US airlines are correcting one of their big customer service miscues of the past (driven, in part, by terrible financial performances): treating all domestic flights the same. US carriers are now conceding that a 1-2-hour flight up and down a coast or over a portion of the country is simply not the same as a 5-hour transcontinental flight.

The service offered on the long-distance transcon flight has to be closer to what the carriers are offering on international flights than to service on a domestic short-hop. Consistent profitability gives US airlines the opportunity to offer a much better product across the board, and an overdue transcontinental customer service arms race between US carriers appears to be on.

(Aaron Karp - AirKarp)

Hainan Airlines launches China’s first intercontinental biofuel flight

A Hainan Airlines Boeing 787-8 has completed China’s first intercontinental passenger flight with sustainable fuel produced from waste cooking oil from restaurants in China by Sinopec.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Hainan Airlines flight 497 flew from Beijing to Chicago O’Hare International Airport Nov. 21 after flying more than 11,000 km (6,835 miles).

The biofuel flight was part of a cooperation project on green aviation between China and the US.

In 2015, the Haikou-based carrier launched China’s first biofuel passenger flight on domestic routes operated by a Boeing 737-800. In 2011, Air China operated the first biofuel test flight using a Boeing 747-400 powered partially with jatropha-based fuel.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa expands 747 use on Frankfurt-Berlin route

Lufthansa will expand Boeing 747-400 operations between Frankfurt and Berlin Tegel airports, citing high demand on the domestic route since the closure of bankrupt airberlin.

On Nov. 1, Lufthansa launched 747-400 operations and will add 28 747 flights to Berlin in the first three weeks of December.

“From an economic point of view, this exceptional measure does not pay off, but in difficult times it creates additional capacity on this important route and offers many more travel options to many guests,” Lufthansa executive board member-hub management Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.

Lufthansa operates up to 16 daily flights on the route, making it the German carrier’s most-flown sector in the network.

Hohmeister said the Berlin Tegel infrastructure is not ideal for 747-400s properly; however, Lufthansa and airport employees are doing a “fantastic job” in handling the widebody.

In total, Lufthansa will operate 90 747-400 flights in November and December, transporting more than 350 passengers on each flight.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

SF Airlines wins bid for two Boeing 747 freighters

Shenzhen-based SF Airlines purchased two Boeing 747 freighters for CNY320 million ($48 million) via an online auction conducted by China’s e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding.

The aircraft were formerly operated by the insolvent Jade Cargo International, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

Alibaba had put three 747Fs up for sale—two are parked at Shanghai Pudong Airport and the third one is at Shenzhen Bao’an Airport. However, Alibaba didn’t specify which two aircraft SF Airlines purchased.

SF Airlines, China’s biggest express delivery carrier, was launched in 2009 and operates 40 freighters, comprising Boeing767/757/737 aircraft as of August 2017.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Boeing appoints former 777X engineer to NMA leadership team

In a further indication of growing preparations for the expected launch of the new mid-market airplane (NMA) in 2018, Boeing has appointed former 777X chief project engineer Terry Beezhold to an unspecified senior leadership role on the embryonic small twin-aisle program.

Beezhold’s move comes less than two months after Boeing formally established the NMA project office and named 787 veteran Mark Jenks as vice president and general manager. Although falling short of a formal program launch, the setting up of the project office gave notice that Boeing moved “one step closer to a decision on a NMA and also serve as a vehicle to evolve how we design and build airplanes,” according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister.

Initially emerging as a potential successor to the 757, the NMA has morphed over the past two years into a twin-aisle design targeted at a much broader, all-new market estimated at over 4,000 units.

At the recent Paris Air Show, Boeing outlined plans for an aircraft with all-composite fuselage and wings, which would seat 220–270 passengers and fly ranges of as much as 5,200 nm. If launched, the NMA will enter service in 2025.

The appointment of Beezhold, first reported by CNN, is also viewed as particularly significant because of his close association with an earlier role, prior to the 777X, that focused on building aircraft affordably through common tools and processes across different programs. The proposed NMA will be a widebody design, but in order to meet the business case for marketing to a broader set of operators, it will only be offered if Boeing can build it at a cost more typical of a single-aisle design.

Beezhold, formerly 787 airplane level integration team lead before being appointed in 2011 to the newly created role of vice president of processes, tools and affordability, was specifically responsible for cutting the non-recurring costs for future aircraft product developments. At the time, these included the 737 and what would later become the MAX, as well as the “Advanced 777,” which in 2013 was launched as the 777X. Beezhold’s responsibilities also included ensuring all Boeing Commercial Airplanes computing processes and tools supported the entry into service for the 747-8 freighter, and Intercontinental and 787, as well as enabling the planned rate increases for the 737, 767 and 777 programs.

(Guy Norris - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)

EasyJet grows on rivals’ decline, but net profit drops 30%

UK LCC easyJet has posted a sharp 30% net profit decline for the full year ended Sept. 30, dropping to €305 million ($403.5 million), although revenue and traffic were boosted by European consolidation.

Outgoing easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall described the full-year results as a robust performance during a difficult year, which saw German carrier airberlin and UK leisure airline Monarch Airlines suspend operations and Italian flag carrier Alitalia enter administration.

“What you can see is capacity shaking out even more, with the weak players becoming weaker and the strong players becoming stronger,” McCall said, speaking on the airline’s results call. “Any capacity reduction created by anybody is a benefit.”

McCall said there was no doubt that easyJet had gained from capacity coming out of the market, particularly in the case of Monarch.

Irish LCC Ryanair also canceled thousands of flights because of a crewing error, but the positive impact of Ryanair’s difficulties was minimal because Ryanair and easyJet only overlap on 8% of their networks. “From what you read in the newspapers, you’d think we were head-to-head everywhere; we’re not,” McCall said.

During the 12 month-period, easyJet carried a record 80.2 million passengers, up 9.7% year-on-year. Paired with 8.5% capacity growth, this pushed easyJet’s average load factor up by a point to a high of 92.6%.

Revenue rose 8.1% at £5.04 billion, fueled in part by 17.8% growth in ancillaries, but revenue per seat dipped 0.4% to £58.23—or 4.5% at constant currency—because of excess capacity and fierce competition.

The strong traffic and revenue performance was marred by a £101 million currency hit, pushing pre-tax profit down 17.3% to £408 million and net profit down 30.2% to €305 million.

Total costs increased by £500 million to £4.7 billion and cost-per-seat ex-fuel increased 7.7% to £41.27, or 0.9% at constant currency.

EasyJet has set up an Austrian air operator’s certificate (AOC) as a Brexit contingency plan, because 30% of its flying is within EU member states. McCall said 12 aircraft have already been transitioned to Vienna-headquartered easyJet Europe and, over the next 18 months, easyJet plans to move a total of 100 aircraft across. Setting up the AOC cost easyJet £2 million in the 2016-17 financial year and is expected to total up to £10 million over three years.

The LCC is also acquiring some of the assets of German leisure carrier airberlin and is still in the running for Italian network airline Alitalia.

“We now have a huge amount of positive momentum to allow the airline to grow its profit,” McCall said. “We have a unique combination that no other airline can match.”

Amid all this activity, McCall will step down on Nov. 30, handing over to Johan Lundgren, who was previously TUI Group deputy CEO.

When asked whether it was a bad time to leave, McCall replied: “This is probably the easiest we’ve had it in a long time. We chose to do airberlin and we have massively reduced the risks of Brexit—all we need now is a bilateral between the UK and Europe. A lot of things a CEO has to deal with are external. Because we’ve taken control, there are plates spinning, but they’re manageable plates. You have to leave when things are on the up and easyJet very much on the up. It’s the best time to leave the company; it’s in good hands.”

EasyJet plans to grow capacity by around 6% for the 2018 financial year, excluding the airberlin transaction.

Revenue trends are positive, because of market consolidation, and easyJet is now anticipating low- to mid-single digit revenue per seat growth at constant currency in the first quarter and first half.

In 2018, easyJet expects to cut its cost-per-seat by around 2%, excluding the impact of airberlin costs, although the figure will rise by up to 1% ex-fuel and at constant currency.

EasyJet operated 279 Airbus A320 family aircraft as of Sept. 30. The LCC has a further 143 aircraft on order, with 36 scheduled to arrive in 2018, 21 in 2019, 23 in 2020, 35 in 2021 and 28 in 2022.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Aerolíneas Argentinas set to receive Latin America’s first 737 MAX 8

Rendering of Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Aerolíneas Argentinas livery.

CEO Mario Dell’Acqua said Aerolíneas Argentinas will take delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 Nov. 29. The aircraft will make its first commercial flight Dec. 1.

“It is a great honor to be the first Latin American airline to fly the MAX,” Dell’Acqua told ATW on the sidelines of the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Buenos Aires Nov. 20. “Having the MAX will allow us not only to improve our costs but also to potentially serve routes to the Caribbean with the MAX that we now serve with widebody aircraft, due to its improved autonomy.”

Buenos Aires-based Aerolíneas will receive an additional MAX 8 in December. Three more will be delivered in 2018 and a total of 12 will arrive by 2020, Dell’Acqua said. The airline intends to continue operating its 737-800s.

According to the airline’s fleet plan, Aerolíneas will end 2017 with 12 Airbus widebody A330/A340 aircraft, 41 Boeing 737 aircraft, including 39 737NGs and two new 737 MAX 8s, as well as 26 Embraer E190s that operate on Aerolíneas’ regional subsidiary Austral.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Airbus A350-1000 gains EASA & FAA certifications


The Airbus A350-1000 has gained both EASA and FAA type certifications, the manufacturer announced Tuesday.

Type certification of the widebody Nov. 21 came almost one year after the aircraft’s first flight.

Airbus expects to deliver the first A350-1000 to launch customer and operator Qatar Airways before the end of this year. The first aircraft is in the final assembly line and will be transferred to the flight line in early December.

The A350-1000 test program comprised 1,600 hours and involved three aircraft. Around 150 flight hours were dedicated to route proving in an operating environment typical for airlines.

Airbus A350 chief engineer Alain de Zotti said all performance targets were met or exceeded. The aircraft also remained within its weight specification, unlike early versions of the A350-900, the first A350 variant to enter service.

Airbus has 169 firm orders from 11 customers for the -1000. There are 681 orders for the smaller A350-900, 122 of which had been delivered by the end of October.

(Jens Flottau - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)

Arab Carriers organization condemns US tax proposal

A US legislative proposal to tax certain foreign airlines—and which seems to target the major Gulf carriers—is a dangerous move, the head of the Arab Air Carriers’ Organization (AACO) warned Tuesday.

The amendment has been latched to the US tax bill that has been passed by the House of Representatives, but has still to be passed by the Senate. The bill, however, is being pushed through at speed as the White House is keen to see tax reform, one of its key campaign pillars, enacted by the end of the year.

Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican in Delta Air Lines’ home state of Georgia, added language in November to Senate finance committee chairman Orrin Hatch’s tax bill that would lead to the Gulf carriers being subject to US taxes.

Current US tax laws provide reciprocal exemption for gross income derived by foreign airlines. Under the Isakson proposal, that exemption would no longer apply if two conditions exist: The foreign airline is headquartered in a country that does not have an income tax treaty with the US and American passenger airlines operate fewer than two arrivals and departures per week to that foreign country.

Those conditions would encompass the UAE, home of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Dubai-based Emirates Airline, and Qatar, home of Qatar Airways.

Those three Gulf carriers have been in the crosshairs of a campaign led by Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines, to curtail their growth in the US market. The US carriers allege that the Gulf carriers operate with the support of large government subsidies that contravene the US Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. The Gulf carriers strongly deny the subsidy allegations.

At the opening session of the AACO AGM in Sharjah Nov. 21, AACO Secretary General Abdul Wahab Teffaha raised the tax amendment issue after a presentation by IATA SVP Africa & Middle East Muhammad Al Bakri.

Teffaha asked Al Bakri to relay AACO’s concerns to IATA.

Describing the aviation tax proposal as “an extremely bad turn of events,” Teffaha said the dangers were twofold: it would suppress demand for travel and it could proliferate.

“This will hurt global aviation in a major way like nothing else,” Teffaha said. “There is a real danger it will suppress aviation and it will be bad for the consumer. And there is also the danger of proliferation; I am afraid that many countries will see what the US is doing and will follow suit.”

Teffaha told ATW that the US should also be cautious about the likelihood of reciprocal taxation on its carriers, especially by Latin American countries where similar conditions apply.

If the US tax bill does get passed with the aviation amendment, it would be effective for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

Some countries have full-fledged tax conventions with the US to ensure reciprocal tax exemptions. Other countries have reciprocal non-taxation agreements with the US that are not on the same level as tax treaties, but which have the same effect. The Isakson language targets the UAE and Qatar, which have the latter, and where there are fewer than two weekly arrivals and departures by US carriers.

But while the amendment seems to target the three Gulf carriers, it would immediately have a broader impact because it would also encompass the airlines of countries that include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Malaysia and more.

“This is really bad public policy with potential ramifications for other US industries. If you set a precedent of using reciprocal tax exemptions as a competitive weapon, there surely are other countries and foreign competitors in a range of industries that will be intrigued by the prospect of applying that precedent to competitive US companies in a variety of sectors, not to mention foreign state treasuries that would like the extra revenue,” an industry source told ATW.

American, Delta, United and US airline labor groups have spent millions of dollars in their campaign against the Gulf carriers. In 2015 alone, tax filings show, The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, which represents the airlines and a coalition of unions, spent $6.1 million.

(Karen Walker - ATWOnlin News)

Boeing, Royal Jordanian ink 5-year training plan

Boeing and Royal Jordanian Airlines have signed a five-year strategic training agreement to help train the airline’s Boeing 787 pilots.

The agreement, announced at the Dubai Air Show, will see Royal Jordanian pilots undergo type-rating and recurrent training at Boeing Global Services’London Gatwick training campus.

“To attract a new generation of pilots, we need to inspire them and train them in new ways, and Boeing is at the forefront of developing innovative training methods,” Royal Jordanian president & CEO Stefan Pichler said.

Over the next 20 years, Boeing projects a global demand for more than 1.2 million pilots and technicians with more than 10% of that driven by the Middle East. Boeing provides commercial flight training at eight campuses around the world.

Royal Jordanian flies seven Boeing 787-8s as the long-haul component of its fleet.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

Nigeria considers establishing national airline for the 3rd time

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari admitted he is under “tremendous” pressure to establish a national airline due to both patriotic and economic reasons.

Speaking at the State House, Abuja on November 20, 2017, the Nigerian President said the idea of reviving the national carrier has a lot of public support. According to him, the idea is primarily driven by patriotic feelings, but makes economic sense as well, since Nigeria has the needed resources, such as pilots or engineers.

Despite being personally in favor of the idea, Buhari also noted that prior doing that “Nigerians need to know how we lost the one we had before,” according to the Independent Newspapers Nigeria.

If the idea to create a new airline goes through, this will be the third attempt of Nigeria establishing a national carrier. The first national carrier - Nigeria Airways - was founded in 1958 under the name WAAC Nigeria, and lived for 45 years before ceasing operations in 2003. A year later, the attempt to revive the national carrier came into force, with the establishment of Air Nigeria in 2004. The second airline lived for less than a decade, ceasing its operations in September 2012.

(AeroTime News)

Russian Tu-160M2 to take off for debut flight in February 2018


On November 16, 2017, Russia presented its new Tu-160M2 Blackjack long-range super bomber. The aircraft was rolled out at the S.P. Gorbunov assembly facility in Kazan, in southwest Russia. According to the manufacturer, aerospace and defense company Tupolev, the plane is scheduled to make its first test flight in February 2018.

The Tu-160M2 is an upgrade to the Tu-160M and original Tu-160 aircraft. The new aircraft is sharing with Tu-160M the same avionics, sensors, displays, communications systems, and operating software, the Jane's Defense Weekly informs.The only comparable difference between the Tu-160M and the Tu-160M2 is the new Kuznetsov NK-32-2 turbofan – an afterburning 3-spool low bypass turbofan jet engine, which is the largest and most powerful engine ever fitted on a combat aircraft.

Also, the Russian Deputy Minister Dmitry Rogozin claimed that the Tu-160M2 has new radio-electronic equipment onboard, RIA Novosti reports.

According to the country's Ministry of Defense, the serial production of the Tu-160M2 will begin in 2023. The Russian Air Force, which has 16 Tu-160 aircraft in its fleet, is planning to acquire at least 50 Tu-160M2s, TASS informs.

Tu-160, codenamed Blackjack by NATO, is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed in the 1970s. It is the largest and the fastest military supersonic fighter currently in use and also the heaviest combat aircraft in the world, called White Swan among the pilots.

The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s. The Tu-160M modernization program has begun with the first updated Tu-160M aircraft delivered in December 2014. Russia's Defense Ministry decided to resume the production of Tu-160 bombers in the upgraded version of the Tu-160M2 in 2015.

(AeroTime News)

Private jets may be free from paying taxes for management service

On November 14, 2017, the US Senate Republicans released changes to their tax bill, proposing exempting excise taxes on the management fees of private planes.

The bill ensures that private jets under management companies that handle storage and upkeep do not face the same taxes as commercial airlines, aviation tax attorney Troy Rolf told The Wall Street Journal.

As for now, a 7.5% „ticket“ tax is imposed on each commercial air travel in the US. Until several years ago, owners of private aircraft using planes for personal or business travel were free from this type of tax. However, they paid management companies for aircraft assistance.

In 2012, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Chief Counsel Advice which said that private jet owners should also pay a 7.5% tax. According to the organization, a management company provides all of the essential elements necessary for air transportation and the owner “relinquishes possession, command, and control to the management company.” Thus, according to the IRS, the management company was required to collect the appropriate federal excise tax from the aircraft owner and remit it to the IRS. In 2013, the IRS suspended its attempts to collect the tax, faced opposition from the aviation industry.

The main Senate bill on the taxation of private jets was proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown. Jennifer Donohue, a spokeswoman for the Senator, told the Wall Street Journal that “this provision in no way cuts taxes for private jet owners, but simply clarifies what the law already says—that service companies made up of mechanics and service workers do not pay ticket taxes, because they don’t sell tickets.”

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, exempt payments are the amounts paid by an aircraft owner for management services. They include “support activities related to the aircraft itself, such as its storage, maintenance, and fueling, and those related to its operation, such as the hiring and training of pilots and crew, as well as administrative services such as scheduling, flight planning, weather forecasting, obtaining insurance, and establishing and complying with safety standards.”

Following the Republican bill, on November 15, 2017, the US National Air Transportation Association released an official statement which says that “tax reform legislation has a long way to go, but this is an important step and small aviation businesses are appreciative of the inclusion of this provision, which provides them the tax certainty they have long sought. ”

According to the JCT letter issued in 2016, it is estimated that the exempting owners or leasers of private aircraft from paying taxes on the costs related to the maintenance of the jets will reduce federal fiscal year budget receipts by less than $500,000 for the period 2017-2026.

(AeroTime News)

Delta-Korean Air JV cleared by US DOT; awaits South Korean approval

(Delta Airlines)

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved the Delta Air Lines-Korean Air transpacific joint venture (JV).

“The DOT approval reflects the consumer benefits that will be created by the new joint venture,” Atlanta-based Delta said in a statement. “The two carriers will deepen their relationship, offering customers in the US and Asia an enhanced and expanded flight network as well as more compelling travel options.”

The SkyTeam members are still awaiting approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. It is unclear how long that approval will take; it is believed to be the first time airlines have sought such an arrangement in South Korea.

The antitrust-immunized JV will enable the carriers to share costs and revenue on flights between the US and South Korea.

“The joint venture will create a combined network serving more than 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia, providing customers of both airlines with more travel choices than ever before,” Delta said. “The joint venture will provide both airlines with the expanded scale and scope to offer new alternatives to customers. The two airlines will also expand codeshare flights on transpacific routes.”

Delta launched daily Boeing 777-200ER flights between Atlanta and Seoul Incheon in June 2017 and expanded its codesharing with Korean Air, which already operated daily Seoul Incheon-Atlanta 777-300ER flights. Korean Air operates flights to 10 US destinations.

When initiated, the Delta-Korean Air JV will be the fourth international JV in which Delta is involved. It launched an antitrust-immunized transborder JV with Aeromexico in May 2017 and is part of two antitrust-immunized transatlantic JVs: one with Air France-KLM and Alitalia and another with Virgin Atlantic. 

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Neeleman acquires 32% stake in Aigle Azur

Aigle Azur A320
(Photo: Rob Finlayson)

French investment firm Weaving Group has sold its 32% shareholding in French carrier Aigle Azur to Brazilian-American entrepreneur David Neeleman.

“Weaving Group sold its minority shareholding in Aigle Azur to David Gary Neeleman, a specialist in air transport,” Weaving Group confirmed in a statement.

Privately owned Aigle Azur has been running since 1946 and today serves destinations in Algeria, Germany Lebanon, Mali, Portugal, Russia and Senegal. The airline handles around 2 million passengers annually and operates a fleet of Airbus A319s and A320s.

Weaving Group, which was previously known as GoFast, acquired its shareholding in 2001, when Aigle Azur operated just one aircraft.

In 2010, Weaving opened discussions to sell part of its stake in Aigle Azur, leading to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group buying into the airline in 2012. HNA Group currently owns 48% of Aigle Azur, with the remaining 20% held by LU Azur.

Weaving president Meziane Idjerouidene said the 16-year shareholding had been a success, but the group was looking to dispose of the shares to a new shareholder who is familiar with the industry and could “write a new page” in Aigle Azur’s history. “These conditions are now met,” he said.

Neeleman, a known figure in the airline industry, has founded a number of airlines, including Westjet, JetBlue and Azul.

Aigle Azur recently named serial airline entrepreneur Frantz Yvelin as president and CEO, the executive who founded all-business airline L’Avion that was ultimately sold to British Airways.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Qantas to trial first biofuel flight to US in 2018

Qantas plans to operate its first biofuel trial flight between the US and Australia next year, and the carrier is also supporting the development of biofuel production in Australia.

The trial flight will be on a Boeing 787-9 on the Los Angeles-Melbourne route in early 2018, in collaboration with World Fuel Services and AltAir Fuels. The trial will use a blend of 30% biofuel and 70% jet fuel. So far this is the only trial flight planned by Qantas for 2018.

The biofuel for this flight will be derived from an industrial type of mustard seed known as brassica carinata. Qantas has previously operated biofuel trial flights on domestic routes, although for those it used biofuel derived from used cooking oil with a 50% blend.

Qantas announced a new partnership Nov. 18 with Canadian-based company Agrisoma, which is a producer of carinata-based biofuel. The airline and Agrisoma intend to work with Australian farmers to help develop the crop there.

The airline said the long-term goal of the Agrisoma partnership is to have 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) of carinata grown, which could yield more than 200 million liters (52.8 million gal.) of jet biofuel per year. This would potentially provide enough for a biorefinery for aviation fuel in Australia.

By helping develop the feedstock supply chain, Qantas hopes to support the business case of a local refinery that can process carinata and other similar feedstocks. Export markets for the seed oil will allow the development of the business in Australia while the partnership works with governments and refiners to develop a local refining and supply capability.

The University of Queensland has already trialed carinata crops in Queensland and South Australia in conjunction with Agrisoma. These trials were successful and will be scaled up in 2018, the university said. Agrisoma already has commercial biofuel operations in the US, South America and Europe.

(Adrian Schofield - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

Avolon finalizes order for 75 Boeing 737 MAXs

Dublin-based lessor Avolon has finalized a firm order for 55 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 20 MAX 10s, plus options for 20 MAX 8s, valued at nearly $11 billion at list prices.

The order, which was originally announced as a memorandum of understanding at the 2017 Paris Air Show, was announced as firm by Boeing on Nov. 20.

“This is the largest single order that we have placed with Boeing to date and underscores the scale of our ambition and the strength of our business. We have experienced strong interest in our initial MAX orders and this incremental order reflects this demand,” Avolon CEO Dómhnal Slattery said.

Avolon has an owned, managed and committed fleet of 915 aircraft as of Sept. 30, 2017 – including over 140 737 MAXs – ranking it among the three largest aircraft lessors.

To date, the 737 MAX has accumulated more than 4,000 total orders from 92 customers.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

TUI Group to sell Corsair

Corsair Boeing 747-400
(Photo: Rob Finlayson)

TUI Group plans to sell French leisure airline Corsair International, a source told ATW. According to the French newspaper La Tribune, Rothschild Investment bank has been assigned to find a potential buyer.

TUI Group is a travel and tourism company headquartered in Hannover, Germany.

Including Corsair, TUI Group owns six airlines, five of which were rebranded in 2015: TUIfly (Germany), the UK-based Thomson Airways (which was recently renamed TUI Airways), ArkeFly (Netherlands), Jetairfly (Brussels) and TUIfly Nordic (Sweden).

However, the source told ATW that Cosair’s fleet and business model no longer fits in the TUI Group and that five of its airlines “operate a majority of harmonized Boeing aircraft fleets—for example, 737, 787s” while Corsair operates three aging Boeing 747-400s and four Airbus A330-200/300s.

Two years ago, TUI tried to sell Corsair to Canada-based Air Transat, “but unfortunately the deal was not successful,” the source said.

“We will keep all the AOCs [of its five remaining airlines], but the brands are all unified. Corsair operates to a lot of [French] overseas departments, a complete different business model that no longer fits in TUI’s core business,” the source said.

Corsair operates from Paris Orly to a variety of long-haul destinations across Africa, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. The airline has around 1,200 employees and carries 1.2 million passengers per year.

This fall, Corsair teamed up with UK-based LCC easyJet and joined the new booking platform, Worldwide by easyJet. 

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

DOT opens frequency allocation proceeding for Havana flights

Alaska Airlines’ decision to drop its daily Los Angeles-Havana flight has prompted the Department of Transportation (DOT) to start a frequency allocation proceeding for flights to Cuba’s capital from the US.

Alaska Airlines last week cited low demand for dropping the flight and said it would reallocate the aircraft to markets with higher demand. The carrier launched the flights in January 2017 and plans to end them in January 2018. Alaska Airlines will rebook passengers to other airlines or offer a refund.

The Trump administration earlier this month ended so-called “people-to-people” visits to Cuba. US travelers to Cuba must meet the criteria for one of several categories of State Department-approved visitors, including religious, family and sporting or cultural visits.

After the Obama administration loosened some of the rules in 2016, individual travelers used the people-to-people category for personal trips.

Alaska Airlines said 80% of its passengers on the Los Angeles-Havana flight were on people-to-people visits. “Travel is about making connections, and we were honored to have played a role in helping people make personal connections by traveling between the US and Cuba,” Alaska Airlines CCO Andrew Harrison said. “We continually evaluate every route we fly to ensure we have the right number of seats to match the number of people who want to go there.”

DOT reopened a frequency allocation proceeding in response to Alaska Airlines’ decision to drop the service. By the bilateral air services treaty signed between the US and Cuba, US carriers have the right to 20 daily roundtrips to Havana. When the frequencies became available in 2016, US carriers scrambled to secure what they thought would be the most lucrative of the Cuba rights.

However, because there had been no air service between the two countries since the early 1960s, no good data existed to guide US airlines, industry analysts said at the time. Since the flights were allocated in 2016, three carriers, including Alaska Airlines, pulled out of Havana service, making a total of four daily frequencies to Havana. (A fourth carrier, Silver Airways, did not serve Havana but decided to drop its flights to several secondary Cuban markets.)

Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, New York-based JetBlue Airways, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Chicago-based United Airlines continue serving Havana from several cities in the US.

Airlines interested in the frequencies vacated by Alaska Airlines, Frontier and Spirit have until Dec. 8 to submit new applications, DOT said.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

Guillaume Halleux named as acting chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways

Guillaume Halleux, acting chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways Cargo has named Guillaume Halleux as acting chief officer cargo, following the decision by former cargo boss Ulrich Ogiermann to leave the Middle East airline and return to Europe.

Halleux's previous role was as vice president cargo Asia Pacific at Qatar Airways, based in Singapore.

Halleux was quoted in the role of acting chief officer cargo after the Doha based carrier announced that it has launched a weekly direct Airbus A330 freighter service to Yangon, Myanmar, serving the country's fashion garment and pharma industries.

The Doha-Yangon-Doha freighter will provide more than 60 tonnes of cargo capacity each way.

Halleux said: “We are delighted to launch our eighth freighter destination for 2017, in line with our strategic expansion to our network and fleet.

"Since the country’s liberalisation, Myanmar has had the fastest-growing economy in the ASEAN region, and foreign investment in local trade has seen tremendous growth.

"We are extremely proud to be the first international airline to serve this emerging market with scheduled freighter service as we aspire to become the premier air cargo service provider in the region.”

In a statement, the airline said that Myanmar’s airfreight export and import tonnages have risen by 87% and 58% in since 2014.

It continued: "Qatar Airways Cargo currently offers belly capacity on the airline’s daily passenger flights to Yangon. The addition of dedicated freighter service will provide additional capacity to support Myanmar’s thriving garment exports, as well as other major commodities, including fresh produce and food products.

"Ready-made garments are the chief exports destined mainly for Europe and the United States via a seamless stopover at the cargo carrier’s state-of-the-art Doha hub. The new service will also facilitate the transit of pharmaceutical imports from Europe to Myanmar through its established QR Pharma solution."

Qatar Airways currently faces an air space embargo by its Middle East neighbours, imposed from June 2017.

Qatar Airways Cargo recently welcomed its first Boeing 747-8F and its thirteenth Boeing 777F as part of its strategic expansion plan to offer its customers scheduled and charter freighter services with a young and modern fleet.


Emirates SkyCargo targets e-commerce with CommerCity deal

Emirates SkyCargo will target e-commerce traffic through a new deal it has signed with free zone Dubai CommerCity.

The two partners said they will work together to develop new solutions for the global e-commerce sector to help retailers save time and money, although details on what form these solutions will take were not revealed.

Emirates’ Divisional Vice President, Cargo, Nabil Sultan said: “Every day Emirates SkyCargo transports a large volume of e-commerce shipments as part of our mail or general cargo offerings.

"We are progressing to the next step where we cooperate more closely with e-retailers with the ultimate aim of getting products to customers even more quickly and cost effectively.

“Dubai CommerCity, with its focus on e-commerce, can be an ideal platform for us to develop and roll out new solutions as well as technology that can be used to improve the speed, efficiency and safety of e-commerce shipments."

Mohammed Al Zarooni, director general, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority added: “The co-operation between Emirates SkyCargo and Dubai CommerCity will enable us to strengthen Dubai's position as a global hub for e-commerce operations and provide a value-added logistics experience, which in turn, can drive the growth of both parties."


Lufthansa Cargo signs up for eight more years with Fraport

Lufthansa Cargo and Fraport Ground Services have signed a contract to extend their ground handling deal at Frankfurt Airport.

The agreement has a term of eight years and runs from January 2018 to December 2025 and covers aircraft ground handling, particularly the loading and unloading of all freighter aircraft belonging to Lufthansa Cargo.

Transportation of cargo to and from the aircraft on the airport grounds is also part of the agreement.

“We are very pleased that Lufthansa Cargo has decided to continue its successful collaboration with Fraport Ground Services.

"The agreement underlines the close and longstanding relationship between Fraport and our partner and customer Lufthansa Cargo here at Frankfurt Airport,” said Michael Müller, member of the executive board and executive director of labour relations for Fraport, at the signing of the agreement.

“For Lufthansa Cargo, the signing of the new agreement for ground services signifies a continuation of the successful system partnership with Fraport in this area for many decades.

"It also ensures the reliable and high-quality ground-handling of our freighter fleet at Frankfurt Airport as we move into the future,” added Sören Stark, board member operations at Lufthansa Cargo.

The Lufthansa Cargo fleet consists of Boeing B777 and MD-11 aircraft. Lufthansa Cargo has the highest cargo volumes of all airlines at Frankfurt Airport.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Boeing's '797' takes a big step toward becoming reality

The aerospace giant has named one of its top engineers to a leadership team responsible for the formation of what is likely to become its first all-new airliner since the 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing has moved company veteran and 777X chief project engineer Terry Beezhold to the new '797' team, the company confirmed. Boeing has not yet assigned roles for members of the team.

Boeing hasn't yet given the green light to build the small twin-aisle airplane, which will seat between 225 and 270, though the company in September formally created a program office to oversee the possible development. Beezhold is the second executive Boeing has publicly named to the team. The other is the program office's vice president. The jet is dryly called the New Mid-Market Airplane, but has already been dubbed the Boeing '797' by prospective customers.

The airplane would be larger than Boeing's biggest single-aisle 737 Max jets, but would not have the flying endurance of its 787 Dreamliner. Airlines want to relieve congestion on busy routes currently flown with smaller jets.

Analysts estimate the '797' project will cost between $10 billion and $15 billion to develop and the plane wouldn't be ready until 2024 or 2025.

Beezhold is a long-time company veteran who in 2011 was in charge of developing new tools and processes to significantly reduce the cost of designing and manufacturing airliners. That work was put into action developing the 777X, which is manufactured using significantly more automation than previous Boeing airliners.

(Jon Ostrower - CNN Money)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Okay, California Pacific Airlines ready again

FAA-certified, but start dates out of Carlsbad airport uncertain (psst, April)

Ninety-six-year-old Rancho Santa Fe millionaire Ted Vallas held a meeting of the stockholders and supporters of his-yet-to fly California Pacific Airlines on November 16. His announcement was the first piece of good news since 2013 for the proposed Carlsbad-based airline.

Vallas, along with chief operating officer Paul Hook, announced that CPAir has purchased a 58-year-old airline, currently flying as SkyValue Airways. The small airline flies scheduled flights out of Denver to small Midwestern towns. The company also operates a large charter jet service based in Kennesaw, Georgia, for numerous NCAA college teams, Major League Soccer, and NASCAR’s Joe Gibbs Racing Team.

With a smile on his face, Hook stated, “California Pacific Airlines is now a fully FAA-certified scheduled air carrier.”

“It’s a turn-key operation,” said Vallas of the acquisition. “We could fly today if we wanted to.”

CPAir expects to be “wheels up” out of Carlsbad’s McClellan–Palomar Airport by April 2018, flying to six airports: Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Cabo San Lucas, with up to 15 flights per day.

Vallas, who has funded most of the startup cost himself, said he will be spending $500,000 on promotion for the airline and Carlsbad airport. SkyValue Airways’ president and CEO, Darrell Richardson, who will remain in that position under CPAir, said his airline already has a relationship with volume discounters such as Kayak, Priceline, and Travelocity — a shortcoming of other startup airlines that had attempted to establish service out of Carlsbad.

Since 2007, Vallas has been working on an airline modeled after the old San Diego–based Pacific Southwest Airlines (acquired by USAir in 1988). “We’re not a feeder airline,” said Vallas. “We’ll fly people to destinations and then fly them back home.”

“North San Diego County has more population now than when PSA flew,” said Vallas. “These four-star hotels, the new FedEx buildings, and all the new corporate industrial [buildings near the airport] have been built because I was going to start this airline.”

Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce president Ted Owen confirmed during the meeting that the city has approved the building of 1.8 million square feet of office industrial space in the past 12 months.

The County of San Diego’s Jessica Northrup, communications officer for land use and environmental concerns, confirmed that on November 14, “The county received an application from CPAir and is currently reviewing it to determine if it is complete.” Last year, the straw that seemed to break the airline’s back was after several failed attempts at FAA certifications, having to furlough all employees, and turn the planes back to the leaseholder, the county canceled its previous agreements with CPAir.

Previously, county officials have cautioned the airline from making starting-date predictions. “The time it takes from when an application is accepted to when an agreement may be issued depends on the applicant’s scope of the planned services in the application,” e-mailed Northrup. CPAir’s projected operation, if accomplished, will be the largest commercial airline operation the airport has ever had.

The company has obtained five Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets, with options to purchase two longer range Embraer ERJ 170s. The 50-seat jets will be reduced to 44 seats to allow for more passenger comfort. “These jets fly faster than a 737, and they’re perfect for getting up and down quickly. Even the restrooms are larger than a 757’s,” said Hook.

As for Vallas, who turns 97 in March, “I’m cutting back [as leader of the airline] to play more golf, allowing others to take over. Besides, I’m now heavily involved in a big real estate project.”

(Ken Harrison - San Diego Reader)

Friday, November 17, 2017

World Atlantic Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (49345/1371) N804WA "Zairah"

Top two photos capture the aircraft's arrival at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Thursday November 16, then it's departure on November 17, as it takes the Chapman College football team to Texas for a game.

This aircraft was originally delivered to American Airlines as N563AA on June 5, 1987.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cathay to roll out wi-fi on 777, A330 fleets

Cathay Pacific Group will introduce high-speed wi-fi to its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 fleets from mid-2018.

This follows the introduction of the service on Cathay's Airbus A350-900 fleet. The Hong Kong carrier will adopt Gogo's 2Ku satellite-based broadband inflight connectivity technology.

"We envisage that by 2020, all of our wide-body aircraft will have inflight connectivity capabilities. This will open up a wealth of opportunities for us to provide more innovative experiences for our customers," says Cathay's chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo.

"Our goal is to allow our customers to be connected anytime and anywhere – and this agreement with Gogo is a huge step in enabling us to deliver this."

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Cathay has 70 777s and 37 A330s in its fleet, while regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon has 24 A330s.

(Mavis Toh - FlightGlobal News)

Embraer Lowers Cabin Altitude for Legacy 450/500

Embraer Executive Jets has announced a lower cabin altitude for its midsize Legacy 450 and 500 to further enhance passenger comfort and reduce fatigue. “The cabin altitude of these two aircraft is…among the lowest on the market, but the maximum cabin altitude has been further reduced to a best-in-class 5,800 feet,” the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer said yesterday at the 2017 Dubai Airshow.

The current maximum cabin altitude of the fly-by-wire twinjets is 6,000 feet at 45,000 feet. Embraer is now increasing the cabin pressurization differential from 9.3 psi to 9.73 psi to reduce the maximum cabin altitude to 5,800 feet.

Deliveries of Legacy 450s and 500s with new the cabin altitude enhancement will start in the first quarter, when the upgrade also becomes available to the in-service fleet.

(Chad Trautvetter - AINOnline News)

Bombardier To Ramp Up Hiring for Global 7000 Production

Bombardier Business Aircraft has started to hire more workers as it ramps up production of its flagship Global 7000.
(Photo: Bombardier)

Bombardier Aerospace has quietly started to hire more workers in Montreal and Toronto as the Canadian aircraft manufacturer begins to ramp up production of its new Global 7000. There are eight customer airplanes already in production at Bombardier’s Toronto factory. Global 7000 completions will be done at the company’s facilities in Montreal.

The OEM currently has about 50 open positions related to Global 7000 production and completions listed on its website, but sources cited by news agency Reuters said they expect the company to hire nearly 1,000 people to assemble and outfit the ultra-long-range jets over the next 18 months. An announcement about the stepped-up hiring plans for Global 7000 manufacturing could come as early as tomorrow, according to Reuters’ sources.

“We will confirm our long-term hiring plans in the coming days,” a Bombardier spokesman told AIN. “With the Global 7000 aircraft transitioning from the development phase to production, operations are ramping up on track to meet entry-into-service in [late] 2018.”

Global 7000 production is already sold out through 2021, Bombardier Business Aircraft president David Coleal said last month at the NBAA convention.

(Chad Trautvetter - AINOnline News)

Air Senegal commits to two A330neos

Rendering of A330neo in Air Senegal livery

Air Senegal has signed an MOU for two Airbus A330neo aircraft, making the national carrier of Senegal the first airline in Africa to select new re-engined A330 version.

The agreement was announced at the Dubai Air Show in the presence of Maimouna Ndoye Seck, Minister of Air transport and Development of Airport Infrastructure, Senegal.

Air Senegal will launch operations in 2018; the airline plans to use the A330neo to develop its medium- and long-haul network.

Air Senegal CEO Philippe Bohn said, “Aviation is a catalyst for economic development and this purchase demonstrates Senegal’s ambitions for economic growth in line with the country’s strategy to accelerate progress towards emergence. The A330neo has proven itself to be the right aircraft, combining low operating costs, long-range flying capability and high levels of comfort.” 

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Hurricane-related charters, ACMI revenues lift Cargojet 3Q profits

A surge in Caribbean hurricane-related ad hoc charters, combined with ACMI revenue related to the April opening of a new US route, lifted Canadian scheduled air freight carrier Cargojet’s third-quarter net profit to C$5.6 million ($4.5 million), reversed from its C$3.9 million net loss in 3Q 2016.

Cargojet operations include domestic air cargo services for a number of international airlines between points in Canada that connect such airlines’ gateways to Canada. The company also provides dedicated aircraft to customers on an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) basis operating between points in Canada and the US, as well as scheduled international air cargo routes between Canada and Colombia, Mexico and Peru; a scheduled weekly flight between Canada and Frankfurt, Germany; and 5X-weekly air cargo service between Newark, New Jersey and Hamilton, Bermuda. The airline also provides specialty charter service across North America to the Caribbean and Europe.

On April 23, Cargojet began operating a new scheduled ACMI route between Canada and the US under a three-year contract. Under this contract, Cargojet operates 6X-weekly flights with a dedicated 767-300 aircraft.

The carrier’s 11% year-over-year (YOY) rise to C$89.4 million in revenue during the quarter was driven by increases in core overnight revenues, ACMI revenues, all-in charter revenues and fuel surcharges and other cost pass-through revenues.

Cargojet’s third-quarter expenses were up 8% YOY to C$64.7 million, attributable primarily to increases in fuel costs, aircraft depreciation and rising maintenance expenses.

“The company experienced growth over all revenue streams [during 3Q 2016, and] … anticipates that revenues will continue to sustain growth [with] the continued development and strengthening of its relationships with existing customers and establishing new relationships with national and international carriers to establish new ACMI routes to the US and south America and ad hoc charters,” Cargojet management said in a statement Nov. 13.

As of Sept. 30, Cargojet’s in-service fleet totaled 20 aircraft, comprised of five finance-leased and three owned Boeing 767-300s; one 767-200 under operating lease; four owned and two finance-leased 757-200s; three owned 727-200s and two Challenger 601s converted for cargo operations.

Cargojet said its exclusive ACMI agreement with Air Canada to fly twice-weekly to Mexico, twice-weekly to South America and once-weekly to Europe will expire Dec. 31, which coincides with the expiration of Air Canada’s agreement with pilots regarding Cargojet flying. Cargojet expects to replace these flights and approximately C$9 million in annual gross revenues by “operating directly for its ACMI and interline partners on similar routes, as demand for this service remains strong,” the company said. “Cargojet and Air Canada will continue to work together to build upon their strong commercial cooperation and will continue exploring synergies in the marketplace.”

Additionally, Cargojet expects to retire its remaining 727-200s before the end of 2019 because of regulatory requirements that will prevent the aircraft from being flown in North America.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Dunkerley to retire after 15-year run

(Hawaiian Airlines)

Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Mark Dunkerley will retire and be replaced by EVP and CCO Peter Ingram, effective March 1, 2018, ending a 15-year run in which Dunkerley transformed the Honolulu-based carrier.

Dunkerley, born in England and educated in the US, joined Hawaiian as president and COO at the end of 2002 after having served as COO of Brussels-based Sabena Airlines. His first order of business was guiding the then-struggling Hawaiian through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization that lasted for more than two years.

As recently as 2010, Hawaiian flew almost entirely among the Hawaiian Islands and between Hawaii and the US west coast, operating a fleet of aging Boeing 767s on its US west coast routes.

It now flies to Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Seoul, Beijing, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane and New York JFK, among other destinations (Honolulu-JFK is the longest domestic flight in the US). Airbus A330s make up the backbone of its long-haul fleet, and it has just taken delivery of its first A321neo.

Since December 2002, when Dunkerley joined the carrier, Hawaiian has doubled annual passengers flown to 11 million.

“This has been a heart-wrenching decision,” Dunkerley said in a statement announcing his departure.

Ingram, a Canadian, came aboard as CFO in November 2005, shortly after the carrier’s emergence from Chapter 11, having just spent three years as American Eagle Airlines’ CFO.

“Peter Ingram has been an important part of Hawaiian Airlines’ growth and success for the past 12 years, and we are confident in his deep knowledge of the airline, the industry and the community,” Hawaiian board chairman Lawrence Hershfield said. Ingram became CCO in 2011, overseeing marketing, sales, revenue management, network planning, loyalty programs and cargo.

In a 2015 interview in Honolulu, Ingram told ATW that he and Dunkerley spent a lot of time during the previous decade defining the carrier for the investment community. “We are leisure-oriented, so managing our cost structure is important, but we provide amenities that you wouldn’t see on a low-cost carrier,” he said. “So we developed this term ‘destination carrier’ because what we’re about is serving Hawaii, serving all the travel needs of people visiting here, people coming from other places. And we’ve really turned that into a defining description of what we are as an airline that is distinct from those standard models that you see elsewhere.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

LATAM cargo revenues in first rise for four years, but yields edge down

LATAM Airlines Group saw third quarter 2017 airfreight revenues rise by 2.5% to $272.2m, the first cargo revenue increase in four years.

The revenue rise in the three months ending September was driven by a 3.5% increase in cargo traffic, although cargo yields “declined slightly” by 1.0% over same period prior year. LATAM Cargo is South America’s biggest cargo airline.

Said a LATAM spokesperson: “Imports from North America and Europe to Brazil, continue to show improvement year-over-year, driven by major imports of electronics and spare parts, as a result of a more stable market conditions in the country as well as the appreciation of the Brazilian Real.

“Also, imports to Chile and Argentina started to recover during the quarter, as well as export markets from Peru, namely asparagus.”

As a result, cargo revenues per available tonne km (ATKs) improved by 8.2% as compared to the same quarter 2016, “continuing with the recovery trend we had during the first quarter of this year, after 19 consecutive quarters of revenue per ATK decline, as we have managed to adjust our capacity”.

In the third quarter, cargo capacity in ATKs declined 5.3%, which included a 15.3% reduction of freighter operations, resulting in a load factor of 54.2%, an improvement of 4.6 percentage points over 2016.

In terms of its freighter fleet, LATAM said that it will receive a Boeing 767-300F back from sub-leasing and will convert a Boeing 767-300 passenger aircraft into a freighter.

It added: “Also, two Boeing 777-300F are leaving our fleet during 2018 instead of 2017 as published in the previous plan.”

LATAM Airlines Group offers air services to around 140 destinations in 25 countries, and is present in six domestic markets in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, in addition to its international operations in Latin America, Europe, the US, the Caribbean, Oceania and Africa.

LATAM Airlines Group (formerly LAN Airlines) comprises subsidiaries in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador as well as LATAM Cargo.


AEI to convert three more MD-83S freighters for Mexico's Aeronaves

Aeronautical Engineers, Inc. (AEI) has signed a contract to provide Mexico-based Aeronaves with three additional MD-83S freighter conversions.

The first MD-83 aircraft will commence modification on December 11, followed by the second

MD-83 in February of 2018 and then a third MD-83 in late April, 2018.
All the AEI MD-83SF modifications will be performed by Commercial Jet’s Miami, Florida facility.
Last week, AEI delivered an MD-83SF to Aeronaves, which represents the largest overall operator of AEI’s MD-80SF series freighters.

Including this order, Aeronaves will operate a total of ten AEI MD-80SF series freighters.

Additionally, Aeronaves currently has two AEI CRJ 200SF undergoing conversion at Commercial Jet’s Dothan, Alabama facility.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

UAE picks C295 for airlift renewal

The United Arab Emirates air force is to update its medium transport capabilities, with a new fleet of Airbus Defence & Space C295s to enter service from late next year.

Announced at the Dubai air show on 15 November, the deal will deliver five of the twin-turboprop aircraft from the fourth quarter of 2018, Airbus says.

"The aircraft will serve with the UAE air force, replacing the existing CN235s still in operation," the company says.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows the service as currently using six of the earlier-generation type, with these assets aged between 23 and 24 years.

Airbus says its latest contract has boosted total sales of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127-powered C295 to 203 units, including 51 ordered by operators in the Middle East and North Africa region.

(Craig Hoyle - FlightGlobal News)

EgyptAir to lease six 787-9s from AerCap

EgyptAir has become the latest operator to commit to the Boeing 787-9, with the signing of a deal to lease six of the type from AerCap.

The aircraft, expected to come from AerCap’s existing backlog of 787 orders, will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The deal was disclosed in a joint announcement by the airline, lessor and manufacturer at the Dubai air show.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the lessor has 54 787-9s on order, but there is no indication when the aircraft bound for EgyptAir will be delivered.

"The 787 Dreamliner has built a reputation for reliability, operational efficiency and passenger comfort," says EgyptAir Holding Company chairman and chief executive Safwat Musallam. "We look forward to the 787 becoming an integral part of EgyptAir’s fleet as we progress our modernization and network expansion plans."

Fleets Analyzer shows that the Star Alliance carrier has 54 aircraft in operation, comprised of Airbus A320 family jets, A330s, 737-800s and 777s. It also has a solitary A330-300 on order.

(Ellis Taylor - FlightGlobal News) 

Flydubai orders 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in $27 billion deal

Flydubai signing ceremony.

Dubai-based flydubai signed a landmark agreement for 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with a list price value of $27 billion, at the Dubai Air Show.

According to Boeing, the deal represents the largest-ever single-aisle jet order—by number of aircraft and total value—from a Middle East carrier.

The transaction includes a commitment for 175 MAX aircraft, plus purchase rights for 50 more. When finalized, the manufacturer said the purchase “promises to sustain tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Boeing’s US factories and network of suppliers.”

This new deal surpasses the flydubai's previous record order of 75 MAXs and 11 Next-Generation 737-800s, which was signed at the 2013 Dubai Air Show.

Flydubai chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said Boeing’s airplanes have provided “a foundation for the success of our business model, providing us with the operational flexibility and range to build a network of 95 destinations in 44 countries. Understanding the demand for travel across our network, our innovative approach to our cabin design and developing a product unique to our market has allowed us to exceed our passengers' expectations in their flying experience.”

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

CDB Aviation orders 90 A320neos

CDB Aviation Lease Finance, a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co., confirmed an order for 90 Airbus A320neo family aircraft during the 2017 Dubai Air Show.

The lessor said its order book now comprises a total of 90 A320neo family aircraft, including 32 A321neo and 58 A320neos.

According to CDB Aviation, the agreement was reached in two steps: an original purchase agreement signed in 2014 for 45 A320neo family aircraft, which remained undisclosed to date; and the firming up of an MOU for an additional 30 A320neo and 15 A321neo aircraft announced at the Paris Air Show in June 2017.

“By confirming today’s order for 90 A320neos, we have doubled our overall order position for the aircraft family,” CDB Aviation president and CEO Peter Chang said. “CDB Aviation is now well positioned with a leading order book for the latest technology narrow-body aircraft to realize our aggressive fleet growth plan and further strengthen our ability to serve airline customers around the world with narrow-body fleet requirements.” 

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Airbus lands massive order for 430 A320neo-family aircraft

Rendering of A320neo in Frontier Airlines’ livery. Under the latest order Wizz Air will take 72 A320neos, and 74 A321neos; Frontier will have 100 A320neos and 34 A321neos; JetSMART, 56 A320neos and 14 A321neos; while Volaris will acquire 46 A320neos and 34 A321neos.

Airbus signed an MOU Nov. 15 for 430 A320neo-family aircraft, to be split between the four airlines in Arizona-based private equity and venture capital firm Indigo Partners’ portfolio. The order, once firmed, will be worth $49.5 billion at list prices.

The aircraft will be split between ULCCs Frontier Airlines (US), JetSMART (Chile), Volaris (Mexico) and Wizz Air (Hungary) after final purchase agreements between Airbus and the four airlines have been concluded.

The MOU more than doubles the 427 orders for the A320 family previously placed by the four carriers.

The new commitment, comprising 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos, was announced at the Dubai Air Show by Indigo Partners managing partner Bill Franke and Airbus COO-customers John Leahy. When added to existing Airbus A320 family orders, the new agreement will make Indigo Partners one of the largest customers by order number in the world for the Airbus single-aisle aircraft family.

Under the latest order Wizz Air will take 72 A320neos, and 74 A321neos; Frontier will have 100 A320neos and 34 A321neos; JetSMART, 56 A320neos and 14 A321neos; while Volaris will acquire 46 A320neos and 34 A321neos.

The huge order lessens the disappointment in the Airbus camp at the lack so far this week at the air show of a hoped-for order for additional A380s from the type’s largest customer, Emirates Airline.

“This significant commitment for 430 additional aircraft underscores our optimistic view of the growth potential of our family of low-cost airlines, as well as our confidence in the A320neo family as a platform for that growth,” Franke said. He added that engine choices for the aircraft would be made at a later date.

“Indigo Partners have been a tremendous customer and supporter of the Airbus single-aisle fleet for many years,” Leahy noted. “An order for 430 aircraft is remarkable, but it’s particularly gratifying to all of us at Airbus when it comes from a group of airline professionals who know our products as well as the folks at Indigo Partners do.” 

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

L-410 crashes in Russia’s Khabarovsk region

Shared on social media via Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network

A Khabarovsk Airlines Let L-410 crashed in Russia’s Khabarovsk region Nov. 15, Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) reported.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Transport, the aircraft was en route from Khabarovsk to Nelkan and crashed while landing. Two crew members and four out of five passengers were killed; a young child survived, RIA Novosti agency reported. The aircraft is heavily damaged, IAC said.

The L-410 is a twin turboprop commuter with a capacity up to 17/19 passengers. It is manufactured by Kunovice-based Czech Aircraft Industries. In 2008, Russia’s industrial holding company, Ural Mining and Metallurgical Co. (UMMC), acquired 51% of Aircraft Industries. In 2013, UMMC became the 100% owner.

Last year, it was announced the Russian government would invest in assembling the revived Let L-410 in the Ural region.

Khabarovsk Airlines carried 51,530 passengers from January-September 2017, down 0.3% year-over-year.

(Polina Montag-Girmes - ATWOnline News)