Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another New C-17A takes to the Skies

C-17A 07-7182 (P-182) holds short of Rwy 30 prior to departing on its second pre-delivery test flight. (Photo by Michael Carter)
Returns to Long Beach following a successfull second pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

C-17A 07-7182 (P-182) made her maiden flight yesterday 12/17/08 which was a rather blustery day with wind and rain. The C-17A is destined for Charleston Air Force Base and will follow sister C-17A 07-7181 (P-181) which was deliverd last week.

Fed Ex Reports 2nd Quarter Income

MD-10-10(F) N571FE (47830/323) climbs from Rwy 25L at LAX on a gorgeous morning.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

FedEx reported net income of $493 million for its fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 30, up 3% compared to $479 million in the year-ago period, and announced it is initiating "broad cost reduction actions" to contend with a "decline in shipping trends" and "very difficult" economic conditions. The company implemented a hiring freeze, a 7.5%-10% salary reduction for senior executives and a 5% pay cut for salaried personnel exempt from labor contracts. Chairman, President and CEO Frederick Smith said his salary would be lowered by 20%.

Additionally, matching 401(k) contributions will be suspended for a year from Feb. 1, an unspecified number of jobs will be eliminated in the Freight and Office units and there will be discretionary spending cuts. All told, FedEx expects to reduce expenses by $200 million for the remainder of FY09 and by another $600 million for FY10.

Smith cited "some of the worst economic conditions in the company's 35-year history," and CFO Alan Graf said that despite expected new business in the domestic market owing to DHL's US pullout, "significant uncertainty exists in the global economy." Nevertheless, the steep drop in fuel prices during the fiscal second quarter prevented an earnings decline. Revenue rose 1% to $9.54 billion while expenses increased 1% to $8.75 billion and operating income was flat at $784 million.

The FedEx Express airline unit posted a 1% increase in revenue to $6.1 billion and a 2% lift in operating income to $540 million in the quarter. International Priority package revenue, highly dependent on air operations, grew 1% owing to higher fuel surcharges but average daily IP package volume lowered 7%. US domestic express package volume declined 8%.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Virgin America Opens Doors at LAX Terminal 3

Virgin America, the California based airline that is reinventing domestic travel, is celebrating the move to its beautifully designed new location at Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Terminal 3, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and champagne toast for guests and airport leadership.

Virgin America partnered with the airport and Los Angeles-based architects Rivers & Christian (with Lundberg Design of San Francisco) to create a chic and modern new ticket counter and boarding experience that reflects the carrier’s innovative and environmentally-sensitive design sensibilities, with a nod to the airport’s original early-1960s architecture.

“As a California-based carrier known for bringing style back to domestic flying, it was a pleasure to partner with a forward-looking airport and design team to reinvent the typical domestic airport experience – especially as we continue to grow our footprint at LAX,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Our new face at LAX is a nod to the airport’s glamorous past, with all of the upscale, tech-savvy amenities that today’s travelers expect.”

The move allows Virgin America to strengthen and expand its long-term footprint at LAX, and brings the Virgin-Branded airlines at LAX in closer proximity. V-Australia’s much anticipated new service will arrive at Terminal 3 in the spring of 2009. The dramatic redesign of the Virgin America and V-Australia counters is part of ongoing expansion and renovation plans at LAX.
“We’re committed to making forward-looking investments that will modernize and expand one of the world’s busiest airports,” said Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports Gina Marie Lindsey. “By partnering with Virgin America to create a seamless, next generation gateway for travelers to and from LAX, we’re connecting Virgin’s guests to the airport’s stylish past and its bright and growing future.”

Virgin America has welcomed more than 1.2 million travelers through LAX since its August 2007 launch, and continues to expand its footprint in Los Angeles, most recently with the announcement of service from LAX to Boston Logan International Airport beginning on Feb. 12, 2009.

Virgin America offers innovative amenities that appeal to today’s tech-savvy business and leisure travelers , including power outlets and the touch-screen Red™ entertainment platform at every seat. Red allows guests to control their own experience, with a food menu, 25 on-demand films, seat-to-seat chat, and a play-list of thousands of MP3s, videogames, and live television. Already launched on two aircraft, by the second quarter of 2009 the carrier will be the first U.S. airline to offer in-flight internet service fleetwide .

(LAWA - Public Affairs)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zest Air A320 passes through Long Beach

New Philippine start-up Zest Air took delivery of it's first A320-232 (cn 2141) RP-C8897 on Friday 12/12/2008. The ex jetBlue aircraft N581JB "100 Blue" began it's positioning flight to the Philippines at Marana (MZJ) where it received it's new livery by making a fuel stop at Long Beach Airport (LGB) before continuing on to Hilo, Hawaii (ITO/PHTO). The aircraft arrived in Long Beach at approximatly 1640 PST parking at Toyota's AirFlite facilities. Once fueled the aircraft departed Long Beach at approximately 1810 PST.

Thanks to Dan Brownlee for the above information and heads up that the aircraft was headed to LGB.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Aloha Air Cargo Passes through Oakland (OAK)

Aloha Air Cargo 737-2X6/ADV(F) N841AL (23123/1042) made a pit stop in Oakland (OAK), California for fuel on December 4th as she made her way home to Hawaii after receiving this striking new livery in Brownsville (BRO), Texas.
(Photo by Mark Durbin)

Marine Corps F/A-18 Super Hornet Crashes into San Diego Neighborhood

A disabled Miramar-based fighter jet crashed and exploded in flames in a University City-area neighborhood moments after the pilot safely ejected Monday, killing three people on the ground with one other unaccounted for, authorities reported.

The F/A-18D Hornet plunged to the ground near Cather Avenue and Huggins Street, about a mile northwest of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, just before noon, according to San Diego police and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot, who had been on a training flight over the ocean and was heading toward the military base when the accident occurred, parachuted into an overgrown area near University City High School, landing in a tree. Medics took him to Balboa Naval Hospital for an evaluation.

The crash and resulting blaze destroyed two homes and sent a thick column of black smoke into the sky, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Emergency crews found the remains of three people, whose identities were not immediately known, in the scorched rubble of one of the gutted houses. One other resident of that home remained unaccounted for in the mid-afternoon. "My heart goes out to the family of the victims and to the community of University City," Mayor Jerry Sanders said during a briefing near the crash site.

Military officials said some kind of equipment malfunction forced the pilot to eject. "We don't know exactly what was the cause of the problem he was having, and... we will be conducting a thorough safety investigation to find that out," Marine Corps Col. Chris O'Conner told reporters. Several witnesses reported hearing several loud popping sounds -- apparently the ejection mechanisms of the pilot's seat and the unoccupied second seat -- just before the jet went down.

Fire Capt. Randy Strick said crews responding to the three-alarm fire arrived to see "an aircraft engine in the middle of the street." Police shut down several streets in the neighborhood as crews doused the blaze and investigators began cataloguing evidence at the crash scene.
It took firefighters about 30 minutes to extinguish the flames.

Steve Diamond, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who witnessed the crash, said he went to the spot where he saw the pilot parachuting toward earth to see if the serviceman needed any assistance. "He was behind a house, in a tree," Diamond said. "I helped him out. He was in good condition. He had a cell phone and called his command."

In the moments leading up to the crash, the jet was flying "low and slow, approaching from the west, not a normal approach," he said. Diamond, 53, said he and the lieutenant who ejected from the plane discussed what had gone wrong with the craft. Diamond declined to disclose what the pilot said, other than that it involved a mechanical problem.

Cather Avenue resident Nora Bhes described the alarming noises caused by the plane crash. "It sounded like a thunderstorm with a real screech at the end of it," she said. "Then I heard loud pops like gunfire. And that's what I thought it was." Ilene Schroers lives on Huggins Street, about a block from the crash site. She initially thought the jarring sound of the jet hitting the ground "was a trash truck crashing. It was such a big noise." Schroers said she then looked out a window, saw neighbors running and called 911.

Sandy Huffaker, a freelance photographer who lives about a mile from where the aircraft went down, heard an unusual sound and went outside just in time to see pilot eject from the aircraft.
"Just bam -- he shot out about 25 feet in the air," he said.

(San Diego 10News)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mokulele Airlines becomes Alaska Airlines Mileage Partner

Hawai‘i-based Mokulele Airlines and Seattle-based Alaska Airlines announced today that Mokulele will be the newest airline partner to join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Mokulele offers daily inter-island service from Honolulu, Kapalua, Kona, Lana‘i, Lihu‘e and Moloka‘i. Beginning in early 2009, Mokulele will also offer service to Kahalui, Maui, and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Under the partnership, Mileage Plan members will earn 500 miles for each segment flown on Mokulele, beginning on Dec. 15. Award redemption on Mokulele will be available in early 2009.

"Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the best frequent flier programs in the industry, with opportunities to earn and redeem miles on 15 different airline partners," said Bill Boyer, Jr., president/CEO of Mokulele Airlines. "Those who travel frequently know the importance of frequent flier miles. With the addition of Alaska Airlines, our customers in Hawai‘i will have several airline options to help make air travel rewarding and affordable."

"Alaska Airlines prides itself on its ability to provide frequent fliers with some of the best mileage rewards in the world, and we are excited that our members will soon be able to earn and redeem their miles for travel within the islands of Hawai'i," said Gregg Saretsky, executive vice president, flight and marketing for Alaska Airlines. "We're delighted to welcome residents of Hawai'i to the Mileage Plan and invite them to start earning valuable Mileage Plan miles whenever they fly between the islands on Mokulele Airlines."

To launch the new partnership, Mileage Plan members can earn double miles for travel on Mokulele (1,000 miles per segment) from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, 2009. More information about this offer and joining Mileage Plan is available at Other Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partners include American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Era Aviation, Horizon Air, KLM, Korean Air, LAN, Northwest Airlines, PenAir and Qantas.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was named "Program of the Year" at InsideFlyer magazine's 20th annual Freddie Awards, the most prestigious consumer-generated honors in the travel industry. Mileage Plan offers additional opportunities to earn miles through an extensive network of partners, including the Alaska Airlines Visa credit and debit cards, Mileage Plan Shopping, Mileage Plan Dining, Safeway, and more than 30 hotel and car rental partners worldwide.

About Alaska Airlines and sister carrier Horizon Air together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Traditional Network Carriers (tie)" in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 North America Airline Satisfaction StudySM. For reservations, visit For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at

About Mokulele AirlinesMokulele Airlines is a locally owned and operated inter-island airline based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i. Founded in 1998 as Mokulele Flight Service Inc., it was acquired by current CEO Bill Boyer in 2005. Today, the airline is a scheduled U.S. carrier with commuter services and now jet service operated by Republic Airways. Mokulele also offers volcano tour flights as well as inter-island cargo service. Mokulele Airlines currently has a fleet of two Embraer E170 jets with one arriving in December, a fourth arriving in March and options for two more in summer 2009. Mokulele Airlines has seven 208B Cessna Grand Caravans, including a dedicated freighter, and operates 85 daily departures to seven cities in Hawai‘i.

(Alaska Airlines)

Friday, December 5, 2008

ABX Air / DHL Ceases Long Beach Service

AirBorne Express 767-281(PC) N791AX (23141/108) ex JA8239 arrives in Long Beach still wearing the basic ANA livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
ABX Air 767-281(PC) N792AX (23142/110) ex JA8240, taxies at Pheonix (PHX) sporting the carriers 25th Anniversary livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
AirBorne Express 767-281(PC) N785AX (23018/84) ex JA8487
arrives in Long Beach on a lovely afternoon.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Airborne Express / ABX Air is ceasing it's Long Beach (LGB) operation today. The departure of ABX407 a Boeing 767-200(PC) to Airborne Airpark Airport (KILN) at 7:38pm PST was the final departure from Long Beach Airport. The carrier has operated into Long Beach for many years beginning with DC-8-63's and ending with the Boeing 767-200(PC).
Sun Country 737-8Q8 N809SY (30683/1669) caught
on short final to Rwy 1R at Las Vegas on November 7th.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Sun Country Airlines received US Bankruptcy Court approval for a line of credit that will allow it to restore employees to full pay and meet other financial obligations. The Minneapolis-based carrier, which is working its way through Chapter 11 restructuring (ATWOnline, Oct. 20), was paying workers just 70% of their salaries. SCA did not reveal the origin of the debtor-in-possession financing, but news reports named Elite Landings, another subsidiary of SCA parent Petters Group Worldwide.

(Air Transport World / ATWOnline)

Dornier 328-300jet makes visit to Long Beach

Dornier 328-300jet N429FJ taxies on "delta" towards a
Rwy 30 departure. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Dornier 328-300jet N429FJ (cn 3194) operated by Ulimate Leasing LLC was caught departing Long Beach (LGB) at 2:12PM PST for an unknown destination.

New G550 Sports Company Livery

G550 N550GA (cn 5211) is towed to the mid-field run-up area for engine runs.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
G550 N622GA (cn 5222) suns itself in the late afternoon sun
at Long Beach.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G550 N550GA (cn 5211) has emerged from the paint shop sporting the corporate Gulfstream 550 livery. The company is reported to have made a deal with the aircrafts owner enabling it to use the new G550 as a demostrator aircraft for a year. The undisclosed owner will have the aircraft returned with a new livery and custom interior at a substancially lower cost.

Also at Gulfstreams Long Beach facility, the latest new G550 arrival N622GA (cn 5222) was caught basking in the SoCal sun this afternoon.

New C-17A Performs Test Flight

C-17A 07-7181 (P-181) is caught arriving in Long Beach
on a lovely afternoon.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

C-17A 07-7181 (P-181) performed a pre-delivery test flight this afternoon. The new aircraft destined for Charleston Air Force Base returned to Long Beach at 1400hrs following an aprroximately 2 1/2 hour flight. The aircraft made it's first flight on 12/03/08.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mexican Airline Market should be consolidated

Mexicana A320-231 N361DA (cn 361) taxies at San Francisco (SFO).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Mexicana CEO Manuel Borja, who saw his company's takeover bid for rival Aeromexico rejected by Mexican authorities last year (ATWOnline, Oct. 19), said he remains a "firm believer that the Mexican market should become consolidated." Speaking at last week's ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Cancun, Borja said he was in favor of competition but only among airlines "that have differentiating points." He said Mexico needs "different models in the market.

Actual competition comes from offering different products and different solutions according to the different needs of our customers. One national airline or trunk airline, two low-cost airlines, complemented by regional airlines, is an example." He said there is "nothing coming" regarding an MX/AM merger but that he believes "consolidation is unavoidable in the coming years." He said six Mexican carriers have gone bankrupt recently, including Alma de Mexico this month.

(Air Transport World / ATWOline)

Virgin America to have inflight Internet

Virgin America A320-214 (cn 3465) "an airplane named desire"
poses at San Francisco International (SFO).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Virgin America launched Aircell's Gogo inflight Internet on Nov. 22 via an air-to-ground video during a YouTube Live user event in San Francisco. A segment of the show was streamed to audiences on the ground and online from an altitude of 10,688 m. VS is on course to become the first US airline to offer fleetwide inflight Internet. Target is set for the second quarter of 2009.

(Air Transport World / ATWOnline)

New G550 arrives in Long Beach

G550 N221GA (cn 5221) arrives in Long Beach
from Savannah, Georgia touching down at 0853.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
G550 N517GA (cn 5217) holds short of Rwy 30 as it prepares to depart for Brunswick, Georgia (KBQK). It was off the deck at 0937.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ameristar DC-9-15C visits Long Beach (LGB)

Taxies on "Delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure.
Rolls on Rwy 30 for takeoff.

Rotates from Rwy 30.

Positive climb, gear up!
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Ameristar DC-9-15RC N784TW (47014/141) arrived at Long Beach Airport on Sunday afternoon November 23rd, departing Tuesday afternoon the 25th at 13:36.

The aircraft which has a long history, was originaly delivered to Continental Airlines as N8906 on 07/23/1967. Over the years it has seen service with Air Canada (C-FTOR), Air Florida (N70AF), Emerald Airlines (N70AF), All Star Airlines (N70AF), Purolator Courier (561PC), Emery Worldwide (N561PC), Kitty Hawk Aircargo (N561PC), Reliant Airlines (N923R), and finally it's current owner Ameristar.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Russian Heavy Visits Long Beach (LGB)

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Volga-Denpr Airlines AN-124-100 Ruslan RA-82074 (cn 9773051459142) arrived in Long Beach (LGB) this morning from Calgary, Canada operating as VDA9464. On board was a rocket motor going to Boeings Sea Launch program.

FAA Orders Immediate Inspections On Boeing 737NGs

Aeromexico 737-852 EI-DRB (35115/2070) departs Las Vegas (LAS) on a lovely afternoon. (Photo by Michael Carter)

US FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive late Tuesday requiring inspection of all 737NG center wing tank fuel pump autoshutoff wiring systems within 48 hr., warning that "incorrect wiring" could lead to "localized overheating of parts inside the fuel pump [that] could produce an ignition source inside the fuel tank."

The agency said it received a report of "failure of the left-hand fuel pump of the center wing tank to shut off after being selected 'off' by the flightcrew during flight" on a 737-700 and subsequently the failure was found on two additional 737NGs.

According to the AD, "Information indicates that the autoshutoff system appears to function normally; however, when the flightcrew manually turns off the CWT pump switches, that action turns off the right-hand pump, but re-energizes the left-hand pump due to incorrect wiring. The low-pressure lights turn off, incorrectly indicating. . .that power to both pumps has been removed." Consequently, pilots could be unaware that the left-hand fuel pump is still running, potentially causing overheating and ignition.

FAA is requiring airlines that operate 737NGs that have the autoshutoff system for center wing fuel pumps to verify that "the wiring is correctly installed" as well as to conduct a "functional test of the autoshutoff system." Carriers are required to take applicable corrective actions and to report both positive and negative findings to Boeing.

The agency noted that the left-hand fuel pump of the CWT "may be deactivated" for up to 10 days if the required tests cannot be conducted within 48 hr.

"The inspection report that is required by this AD will enable the manufacturer to obtain better insight into the nature, cause and extent of the failure. . .and eventually to develop final action to address the unsafe condition," FAA said, adding that it may issue a further rulemaking as more information becomes available.

(Air Transport World / ATWOnline)

LAX A380 Flights Doing Well

Qantas A380-841 VH-OQA (cn 014) "Nancy Bird Walton"
taxies at LAX. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Qantas's A380 flights into Los Angeles International are going well, Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsay said yesterday in Washington. "We can handle the A380 now," she told the International Aviation Club. However, LAX has made certain adjustments owing to the size of the aircraft: "We do basically shut down [other] operations to have a takeoff or landing of the A380," she said, adding that each arriving and departing A380 flight also receives a ground escort to and from the gate.

Commenting on LAWA's massive capital investment program at LAX, Lindsay, who took over in 2007, said the program "is necessary even if we don't get one more passenger because the place is falling apart," a victim of "decades of historical inaction," encompassing "constant planning, no maintenance and no facilities projects." A $2 billion upgrade of the international terminal was announced earlier this week.

(Air Transport World / ATWOline)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Southwest Airlines Pilots Union does not Support New Codeshare Agreements

Southwest Airlines Pilots' Assn. President Carl Kuwitzky last week told union members that he "cannot support" the carrier's new codeshare agreements with Mexico's Volaris and Canada's WestJet. In a letter obtained by the Dallas Morning News, he said that the alliances have "the potential to severely affect the career of all pilots on our seniority list." Regarding Volaris in particular (ATWOnline, Nov. 11), he claimed that SWA "is risking brand dilution by association with an unknown carrier."

Kuwitzky referenced SWA's partnership with defunct ATA Airlines, writing that it "resulted in numerous customer service and operational problems that reflected poorly on Southwest Airlines." He claimed that SWAPA pilots "could do some transborder flying and completely control our brand image" and that "overwhelming membership feedback" indicated that the codeshares are a "significant thorn in the side of our members" as SWA cuts capacity

(Air Transport World / ATWOnline)

Southwest Airlines to Buy ATA for New York La Gaurdia Slots

Southwest Airlines 737-3K2 N345SA arrives in Las Vegas (LAS).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines Co. plans to buy ATA Airlines so it can obtain the bankrupt carrier's operating slots at New York LaGuardia Airport, the airline confirmed Tuesday evening.
Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said the airline intends to start service out of LaGuardia, assuming the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis approves Southwest's bid of $7.5 million.
"We're working with ATA Airlines with the conditions and terms of the bid," Ms. Harbin said. "The intent is not to operate ATA Airlines. The intent is to allow Southwest Airlines to acquire the LaGuardia slots."

The deal, first reported by Bloomberg News, would give Southwest the control of 14 takeoff and landing slots, sufficient to operate seven round-trip flights a day. While Southwest has operated on Long Island out of Islip, N.Y., since 1999, it has bypassed the three major New York-area airports, LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark. Its strategy has long been to avoid congested airports like the New York facilities and to fly to secondary airports where operating costs and air traffic control problems would be less. However, as it has begun to run out of those types of airports and markets to enter, Southwest has turned its eye to markets it previously avoided.

Southwest chairman and chief executive Gary Kelly recently announced plans to launch flights in March to Minneapolis-St. Paul, a connecting hub for Northwest Airlines Inc. In the last two years, it has re-entered the highly competitive San Francisco market and Denver. Now, Ms. Harbin said, Southwest officials think it is time to enter LaGuardia. "We've matured to the point where we can contemplate it," Ms. Harbin said. "Gary has said several times that if there are prudent opportunities out there, we should be looking at them. This is certainly one." Ms. Harbin stressed that although Southwest has legally offered to buy ATA Airlines, it is doing so only to gain control of ATA's LaGuardia's slots. "We're being very clear that it doesn't include any aircraft, facilities or employees of ATA," she said.

In bankruptcy

Southwest had once competed heavily against ATA out of Chicago Midway. But after ATA filed for bankruptcy its first time, Southwest worked out a deal in 2004 to buy gates and other facilities at Midway and to share passengers with ATA, including having ATA carry Southwest customers from Chicago to LaGuardia. ATA exited bankruptcy in 2006. But after months of mounting losses, the carrier filed for bankruptcy again earlier this year and ceased operations. It already had stopped service to New York, and its grounding also left Southwest without any way to get its customers to Hawaii. Southwest's bid, which was filed Tuesday evening by ATA, will be taken up in hearings scheduled for Friday and Dec. 2 in the Indianapolis court.

In its request for approval of the deal, ATA told the bankruptcy court Tuesday that the FAA had been talking for months about whether ATA could retain control of the slots it was no longer using, since the federal government has proposed redistributing some of the landing and takeoff rights at the New York airports. "The FAA indicated during those discussions that it would only recognize the continuation of the operating authorities through a sale of the company," ATA said in its filing.

Only bidder

ATA said it leases 12 of the LaGuardia slots to AirTran Airways Inc., as well as two at Washington National. Although 13 parties had expressed interest in bidding, ATA said in its filing that Southwest wound up being the only bidder. ATA attorneys and Southwest officials met for five hours Nov. 10 in Dallas. "As part of that negotiation session, the debtor was successful in getting Southwest to increase materially the purchase price for the business and also negotiated the exclusion of the debtor's slot rights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport from the assets comprising the business," ATA said. The documents indicate that ATA and Southwest expect the deal to close March 2.

(Dallas Morning News)

Limited Market for Aging and Retired Aircraft

American Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., stung by fuel costs and a drop in traffic, face a new challenge: what to do with planes valued at $2 billion now idled or set to be grounded through 2009.

With virtually no U.S. buyers for the 276 mostly older, less-efficient jets, the carriers are shopping the aircraft in emerging markets such as Russia while prices tumble and frozen debt markets damp sales, analysts and marketers say.

``People are sitting on the fence for three to six months waiting to see what happens with the price of fuel and the credit fallout,'' said Francis Otto, a manager at industry data firm OAGback Aviation Solutions in New Haven, Connecticut. ``You're going to have, at least in the short term, a hesitation on the part of any potential lessees or purchasers.'' The lack of buyers leaves three of the biggest U.S. airlines saddled with storage expenses and, at American and Continental, lease payments on jets they're no longer flying. Some models may fetch as little as half what they did in 2007, said Douglas Runte, a Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst in New York.

That adds to the strain on carriers with collective losses of $2.32 billion over the past four quarters, excluding special items. Writedowns for the values of some of the jets this year totaled almost $1.2 billion for Continental, American parent AMR Corp. and Chicago-based UAL Corp., owner of United.

``Many of the older aircraft now being grounded will never fly again,'' Ray Neidl, an analyst at Calyon Securities in New York, said in a note after a Calyon-sponsored conference today on aviation leasing. The planes likely will be used for parts ``regardless of where fuel prices go.'' Delays Over Financing Continental said last month that credit snags for 3 unnamed buyers delayed the sale of 20 Boeing Co. 737-500 jets. The fourth-largest U.S. airline said it's holding cash deposits and would be entitled to damages should the deals collapse. ``We have been actively selling our 737-500s to airlines predominantly based in Russia,'' said Julie King, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Continental, which is shedding 67 of its 737s by the end of 2009.

Other models being pulled from U.S. fleets include
Airbus SAS A300s; four-engine Boeing 747s, which predate the new generation of twin-engine jumbo jets; and Boeing MD-80s that American is replacing with new 737s burning 25 percent less fuel. `No Demand' ``There really is no demand for them here,'' Anders Hebrand, president of SkyWorks Leasing LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut, said in an interview.

Age and operating costs helped shape airlines' decisions on which aircraft to unload as jet fuel surged 53 percent this year through July. While fuel is down by more than half since then, traffic is now sliding, off as much as 7.6 percent at United. Any unsold aircraft will be parked. Those still under purchase agreements or on leases that can't be terminated early will continue to drain cash. ``The fact that you have an asset that you're paying for, that you're not using, is a cost,'' said Marc Wilson, director of safety, quality and asset management at MBA, a Washington- based aviation consulting group.

Preparing a plane for short-term storage costs as much as $20,000, and as much as $25,000 a year after that to keep it in marketable condition, said Jack Keating, president of Evergreen Maintenance Center Inc. in Marana, Arizona. Returning a jet to service may run as much as $1.2 million, which is almost a third of Runte's $4 million estimated value for American's MD-80s.

Likely Destinations

The likeliest markets for the planes include Africa, South America, Indonesia and Turkey, airlines and analysts said. United hired
AAR Corp., an aircraft and equipment marketer based in Wood Dale, Illinois, to find buyers for its 737s, focusing on non-U.S. operators. The third-biggest U.S. airline is grounding all 94 of its 737s, along with six 747s. Three 737s have been sold, Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said last month.

American may have to find overseas buyers for its A300- 600s, which aren't flown by other U.S. airlines. Future lease payments and termination charges will total $140 million once the last of the 34 planes is retired by the end of 2009, according to American, the second-biggest U.S. carrier. Those jets average almost 19 years of age, about the same as the MD-80s, and are among American's oldest, according to the Ascend Online Fleets database. The other Boeings at the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline are an average of 12 years old.

A spokesman, Andy Backover, declined to comment on possible buyers, saying American hasn't decided on the fate of the A300s or the 30 MD-80s being parked by next year. American's fleet of 287 MD-80s is the world's biggest. ``MD-80s are going to be extremely difficult to place,'' said Piper Jaffray's Runte. ``Their age and, more importantly, fuel consumption, just makes them very unattractive.''


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

jetBlue Pilots file to Orgnize

Pilots at JetBlue Airways Corp. have filed a petition to establish an independent union, becoming the first group of employees at the Forest Hills-based discount carrier to organize. JetBlue is the largest carrier in the nation without any organized labor groups. In an announcement on its Web site Wednesday night, the JetBlue Pilots Association said it has filed papers with the National Mediation Board for the right to bargain for 2,000 workers. Michael Sorbie, a JetBlue captain, said in a statement that the union would provide carrier protection for the airline's pilots. "We have complete faith in our current company leadership and believe that this will be a cooperative effort," Sorbie's statement said. "As our airline matures, we want to ensure that the career expectations of our pilots will remain intact regardless of organizational changes."

Sorbie could not immediately be reached for comment, and JetBlue officials were unavailable early Thursday morning. But Bloomberg News quoted JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin as saying "We believe a direct relationship with the company is in our pilots' best interest. "JetBlue, the largest operator at Kennedy Airport, began operations in 2000. It has about 9,398 employees.

The JetBlue Pilots Association said it had notified company executives and directors before filing the petition. "We welcome the opportunity to communicate concerns through a voice that is supported by the lawful process of the Railway Labor Act," the pilots' association said. "This process also provides a stability and cost certainty that will be beneficial to our company as we grow into the future.""Our desire to seek formal recognition underscores our need to have a relationship based not only on the benevolence of a leadership team that could transition at any time, but on a relationship where there exists a means to resolve our private discourses under the support of legal process," Sorbie said.

The association said that the National Mediation Board soon will begin the steps toward a request for an election and representation authorization. JetBlue Pilots Association leaders are proposing an independent organization and are not seeking association with any third party national union.Like all other airlines, JetBlue has struggled with soaring fuel costs and intense industry competition. It has so far avoided attempts by employees to unionize. In 2006, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers failed to organize baggage handlers.

(Newsday Inc.)

U.S. to Require Manifests for Bizjets

Pfizer Inc. Gulfstream G-V N77CP (cn 565) arrives in
Long Beach on a lovely afternoon.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Operators of international private plane flights to and from the United States will be required to electronically provide full advance manifests of their passengers and crew an hour before departure, the US Department of Homeland Security said on Monday.

The rule is aimed at closing a security gap by making private aircraft comply with similar notification rules required of commercial airlines, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in announcing the rule. "We're placing considerable emphasis on raising security in the general aviation sector," Chertoff said.

Also on Monday Chertoff signed an agreement with Ireland under which commercial and private passenger flights to the United States from Shannon and Dublin airports can receive full pre-clearance screening before departure, streamlining passenger entry into the United States.The department said airline passengers who have undergone the pre-clearance screening can have their checked luggage automatically transferred to domestic or international connecting flights.

Private aircraft flying through Ireland will be able to use the pre-clearance procedures to any US airport without having to stop at a pre-designated airport customs clearance. The prescreening operations are expected to start at Shannon in 2009 and Dublin in 2010, the department said.


Monday, November 17, 2008

LAX Moderization Plan Unveiled

For the third time in less than a decade, a Los Angeles mayor and airport leaders on Monday unveiled a grand architectural plan for the expansion and modernization of Los Angeles International Airport, which has not been significantly remodeled since 1984.City officials say the projects, which include a major face-lift for the Tom Bradley International Terminal, are critically needed to enhance the travel experience for passengers and preserve one of the region's main economic engines.

"Today marks a milestone in our effort to modernize the hub of the region's air transportation system and restore it to the premier international gateway the airlines need and the City of Angels deserves," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.The plan's architectural models and renderings were unveiled during a ceremony at the airport's Flight Path Learning Center attended by airline executives, elected officials and business leaders.The conceptual plans were designed by Fentress Associates, a Denver-based architectural firm perhaps best known in this country for its work on the national museum of the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., and Denver International Airport, which has a peaked roof that evokes the image of the Rocky Mountains.

Using the region's natural landscape as inspiration, Curt Fentress said, the concepts for LAX capture the city's sense of place. The sloping roof lines of the glass-and-steel terminals, for example, are evocative of breaking waves at the beach."We want to change LAX into L.A. wow," Fentress said.Highlighted on Monday were conceptual plans for the Bradley terminal, a cross-field taxiway, a midfield concourse for domestic and international flights and a passenger processing facility immediately across from the Bradley.According to the dramatic renderings, the Bradley and midfield concourse will be linked by a soaring sky bridge over the cross-field taxiway, giving passengers panoramic views of the ocean, mountains and city skyline.Airport officials say they expect to finish the projects by 2013 at a cost of $5 billion to $6 billion, though that could go substantially higher.

The centerpiece of the modernization and its highest priority is the overhaul of the Bradley, including the reconstruction of two concourses, new gates on the west to accommodate large commercial aircraft (such as the Airbus A-380) and a central hall offering shopping, restaurants and lounges.Gina Marie Lindsey, director of Los Angeles World Airports, estimated that the taxiway and Bradley improvements will cost roughly $2 billion, though she acknowledged they could go higher depending on the final design. Some estimates have been as high as $4 billion.

Lindsey said the gates on the north side of the Bradley terminal should be finished by January 2012, while those on the south side should be completed by September of that year."We are one step closer to making L.A. the home of a world-class international airport," said Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn. "We haven't done anything at this airport since 1984."The modernization plan does face substantial hurdles, including declining passenger volumes. Airlines, which have been dramatically cutting service, are increasingly concerned about airports' raising their fees to help finance improvements. The nation's credit crisis also has made it difficult for major airports to pay for new terminals and runways.In the most recent example, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been unable to sell $600 million in municipal bonds for a new terminal.

At LAX, the number of passengers is projected to fall below 55 million next year, down at least 13 million since 2000.Lindsey said the airport will finance the modernization with higher landing fees, bonds, revenue from airport concessions and seed money from a portion of $850 million in bonds sold by LAWA earlier this year. She said she was confident LAWA can afford the projects.But Frank Clark, executive director of LAXTEC, an organization that represents international airlines at LAX, said the projects need to be cost-effective and that LAWA must settle its protracted dispute with the airlines over rental rates."It's a good vision. You just can't have a substandard experience as a passenger," Clark said of the conceptual plans. "But we remain concerned about costs."Assuming the Bradley improvements run $2 billion, the cost for each of the 12 new gates is about $167 million, high for gate construction today, according to aviation consultants.

The last major remodeling of LAX occurred just before Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics. The Bradley terminal was built along with an elevated roadway to serve departing passengers. Over the years, passengers have given low ratings to the facility in consumer surveys.The first major renovation and modernization plan was proposed during Mayor Richard Riordan's administration. Plans revealed in 2000 called for accommodating up to 100 million passengers a year.

Four years later, Mayor James K. Hahn unveiled an $11-billion plan that included a ground transportation center outside the airport boundaries and a tram system to get travelers to and from the airport. Lawsuits and opposition from elected officials and community activists stalled both plans.

(Los Angeles Times)

Burbank Opposes Van Nuys Noisier Aircraft Phaseout Project

BURBANK, Calif., November 3, 2008 — The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, owner and operator of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, voted today to go on record opposing the “Van Nuys Airport Noisier Aircraft Phaseout Project,” the subject of a draft Environmental Impact Report currently out for public comment from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

The Authority will instead support any efforts by Van Nuys Airport for a nighttime curfew identical to the curfew being proposed for Bob Hope Airport. “It is clear that LAWA is trying to do an end run around the federal requirement for a thorough study and benefit-cost analysis of any new airport access restriction.

The Authority firmly believes that LAWA’s attempt to ban daytime operations of noisier Stage 2 jets at Van Nuys without completing such a study of the costs is improper, circumvents federal law, and merely transfers daytime noise from Los Angeles residents living near Van Nuys Airport to Los Angeles and Burbank residents that live near Bob Hope Airport,” said Airport Authority President Bill Wiggins.

“We believe that Bob Hope Airport is already meeting its obligations under the letter and spirit
of the law to accommodate noisier Stage 2 private jets still remaining in the national fleet, and Van Nuys Airport should continue to do so as well. However, what does make sense for both airports and their neighbors is a curfew at night, and we’ll back Van Nuys 100 percent if it follows the rules that apply to all airports and pursues that restriction. Pursuing a ban on all Stage 2 jets at this time makes it much more difficult to obtain FAA approval of a meaningful nighttime curfew,” Wiggins added.

The Authority adopted a resolution that authorizes airport staff to submit comments on the Van
Nuys draft EIR challenging the report’s assumptions regarding the number of Stage 2 aircraft that would be shifted to Burbank and other nearby airports. The Authority questions the draft EIR assumptions that 82 percent of these noisier jets that currently use Van Nuys Airport will disappear or install expensive “hush-kits” by the year 2016, and that 34 percent of the remaining Stage 2 jets will shift their operations to Camarillo.

“The Authority is convinced that this is a dramatic overestimation and that most jets diverted
from Van Nuys would end up at Burbank because Camarillo is not near the Burbank-centered
entertainment industry, which is a large part of the current business jet demand at both Van Nuys Airport and Bob Hope Airport,” Wiggins noted. Camarillo currently services only about 7 percent of the combined general aviation jet traffic for the three airports.

Bob Hope Airport has been conducting a Part 161 Study, as required by federal law, to gain FAA
approval of a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. The effort has taken eight years and cost over $6 million. During the public outreach for this study, extensive comments were received from hundreds of Burbank and Los Angeles residents that overwhelmingly indicated that they gave the highest priority to implementation of “meaningful nighttime noise relief.” Accordingly, the Authority has sought FAA approval of a full curfew as its highest priority for noise abatement.

Earlier this year during the public comment period for the Authority’s study, LAWA contested
the proposed nighttime curfew at Bob Hope Airport on the grounds that no Stage 3 newer generation jet operations from Burbank should be shifted to Van Nuys Airport.
“Because all residents in the Valley deserve the benefits of nighttime noise relief, the Authority
went on record to support efforts by Van Nuys Airport to impose a nighttime curfew identical to the curfew proposed at Bob Hope Airport, provided that LAWA follows the strict procedures outlined in federal law to seek FAA approvals,” Wiggins said.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Tinker Bell One" at Orange County (SNA)

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Last week, Southwest partnered with Disney to celebrate the release of the new Tinker Bell DVD and Blu-Ray with a Tinker Bell plane tour. “Tinker Bell One” dons a special decal that will fly around the Southwest system—powered by pixie dust, of course—until the end of November.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alaska Airlines to begin Long Beach - Portland route

Alaska Airlines 737-790 N649As (30663/1386)
caught on short final to Rwy 19R at
John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines will commence new service between Long Beach (LGB) and Portland (PDX) beginning on February 8, 2009. The carrier will use 737-700's on the route which will complete directly with jetBlues flights. It had been thought that Horizon would operate the route with Q400's using some of the available commuter slots at Long Beach Airport.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interesting Bizjet visitors at Long Beach

G550 HL7799 (cn 5028) on short final to Rwy 30.
(Photo by Douglas Kerr)
BD700 Global Express XRS OE-LXR (cn 9235) departs Long Beach on a lovely afternoon.
(Photo by Douglas Kerr)

November 6th while I was in Las Vegas for the Nellis AFB Show, two very interesting bizjets were photographed and spotted at Long Beach Airport (LGB) by API staffer Douglas Kerr. Gulfstream G-IV HL7799 and Global Express OE-LXR.

C-17A 07-7180 takes to the sky

Taxies on delta towards a Rwy 30 departure.
(Photo by Douglas Kerr)

Arrives back in Long Beach following a successful first pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Douglas Kerr)

C-17A 07-7180 (P-180) the last aircraft of the original Air Force order took to the skies for it's first flight on November 6th. The aircraft is destined for Charleston Air Force Base following it's delivery.

Helicopter Gathering at Long Beach Airport (LGB)

Kern County Sheriff Bell UH-1H N597E (cn 70-16291)
departs following the festivities.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Bell 212 N212VC (cn 30693) operated by the
Ventura County Fire Department heads for home.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

L.A. County Fire Department brought in
Sikorsky S-70A N190LA (cn 702479).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The Long Beach Police Department aviation facilities at Long Beach Airport (LGB), played host to local Police, Fire and TV helicopter crews this afternoon by putting on a big outdoor BBQ.

The event saw the arrival of approximately 60 helicopters representing Police departments from the Kern County Sheriffs, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Pasadena PD, Newport Beach PD, Huntington Beach PD, and San Diego PD. Los County Fire Department and Ventura County Fire Department were also on had with their big choppers along with local TV crews from KTLA5, KCAL9 and FOX11.

ABX Air has uncertain future

Airborne Express (ABX Air) 767-281(PC) (22786/54) arrives in Long Beach on a lovely afternoon. The carrier which has operated into LGB for years originally using Douglas DC-8-63's may disappear from the skies above Long Beach as soon as late January 2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

ABX Air, which handles packages for DHL Express in the United States, faces 6,000 or so layoffs and an uncertain financial future after the German shipping company decided it would pull out of the domestic US market.

The DHL contract generates almost three-quarters of sales for parent company Air Transport Services Group, worth about USD$280 million in the second quarter.
Deutsche Post's decision on Monday to pull its DHL Express unit means that ABX Air will likely have to lay off most of its 7,000 or so employees."A substantial majority of our employees dedicated to DHL's domestic package network will not be required by DHL after January 2009," the company said in a statement on Monday.

ABX Air may yet handle DHL's international business in the United States, a spokesman for Air Transport Services said, but that would depend on whether DHL agrees on a plan to use rival United Parcel Service to handle its US packages instead.

ABX Air and Air Transport Services are still assessing the impact of DHL's move on their business, the spokesman added, and will likely release their delayed quarterly financial report later this week.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

jetBlue celebrates opening of Terminal 5 at JFK

jetBlue A320-232 N746JB (cn 3622) "Some Like It Blue" is the first aircraft to sport the special "Terminal 5" commemorative livery arrives in Long Beach.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Terminal 5 (T5) officially opened at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on October 22. T5 was once the home of Trans World Airlines (TWA) and is famous for it's unique design. jetBlue will now call T5 home and has painted the first of 5 aircraft with commemorative markings.