Thursday, August 30, 2012

Third Qatar Air Force C-17A now on flight ramp at Long Beach

The 3rd C-17A for the Qatar Emiri Air Force A7-MAC was spotted and photographed on the flight ramp at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) August 28, 2012. 
(Photo by Michael Carter)

G550 (c/n 5393) N593GA is captured arriving at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on August 28, 2012 following an early morning flight from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV).
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

G550 (c/n 5378) N578GA tbr RA-10203 taxies to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on August 28, 2012 for departure to Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) for onward delivery to its new Russian owner.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
G550 (c/n 5092) VP-CVI rolls on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) for take-off bound for San Jose, California (SJC/KSJC) on August 29, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Air China H1 earnings in "free-fall" compared to last years H1 report

Air China (CA) has reported a first-half net profit of CNY945 million ($149 million), down 76.7% over a net income of CNY4.056 billion for the year-ago period, mainly due to weak cargo demand and high fuel prices.

The Beijing-based carrier also cited the global economic downturn, slowdown of market demand and increased market competition for the decline.

Operating revenue rose 3.82% to CNY47.33 billion against a 7.6% increase in operating expenses to CNY44.75 billion. Fuel costs were up 9.6% to CNY17.81 billion year-over-year.

Passenger boardings increased 3.26% to 34.8 million. The average load factor was 80.04%, down 0.71 points. RPKs grew 4.8% to 62.34 billion while ASKs increased 5.72%.

Cargo traffic volume declined 5.63% to 664,600 tonnes. RFTKs dropped 5.67% to 2.26 billion against a decrease of 1.29% in AFTKs to 3.98 billion.

In the first half, CA took delivery of 23 aircraft and phased out 14 units. As of June 30, the carrier’s fleet was 441 aircraft.

“Looking into the second half of this year, fuel prices will continue to impact the financial performance of airline industry. And fluctuation of exchange rates will also bring some uncertainties to us. For these reasons, we will maintain stable operations and seize marketing opportunities as well as deepen cooperation with Cathay Pacific Airways to achieve a better performance,” CA chairman Wang Changshun said in a statement.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

US Airways puts discussions with AMR unions on hold

US Airways (US) has agreed to cease union negotiations over terms of a potential merger with American Airlines (AA), the US Airline Pilots Assn. (USAPA) said.

“Yesterday we reported to you that the US Airways board of directors had approved the signing of [a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)] agreement with [American Airlines parent] AMR,” USAPA said.
“That report was incorrect. US Airways has in fact been asked by AMR, as a sign of good faith, to cease union negotiations and behave as if the NDA has already been signed. US Airways has agreed to honor that request.”

As a result of the agreement, negotiations between US, USAPA, and Allied Pilots Assn. (APA) scheduled for this week in Dallas/Fort Worth have been canceled and there is no date set for resuming those negotiations, a USAPA spokesperson told ATW.

A vote on the memorandum of understanding with US will still be submitted to the membership of USAPA Sept. 21. An NDA would allow AA and US to exchange confidential and sensitive information while discussing possible merger terms.

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)

Air New Zealand back in the black

Air New Zealand reported a return to profit in the second half of the year on Thursday and said it expected to more than double earnings for 2013 as passenger numbers pick up.

Lower fuel and maintenance costs pushed net profit after tax to NZD$33 million in the six months to June 30, bouncing back from a loss of NZD$17 million a year ago.

The airline's performance was in contrast to Australian rival Qantas, which last week reported a net loss for the first time in 17 years due to its international division.

"They're certainly in a much better position than Qantas and Virgin in Australia. They're dealing with fuel costs quite well... and it's very positive guidance," said Mark Whittaker, portfolio manager at Milford Asset Management.

The airline said growth in international passenger numbers was held back by weak demand in Europe and Japan, but it maintained domestic passengers in the aftermath of the Rugby World Cup in September-October.

Normalized profit before tax, which excludes fluctuations in fuel hedging, rose to NZD$91 million for the year from NZD$75 million a year ago. The airline said it was targeting strong growth.

"Despite the uncertain global economy, assuming our current forecast of market demand and fuel prices at current elevated levels, we expect to deliver a more than 100 percent improvement in normalized earnings before taxation in the 2013 financial year," Chairman John Palmer said in a statement.

The company declared a final dividend of 3.5 cents per share, compared with 2.5 cents last year.

An improvement in domestic passenger yield boosted revenue, while a rise in passenger and cargo loads helped to raise fuel efficiency of the airline's fleet, helping its bottom line.

Air New Zealand reported an annual net profit after tax of NZD$71 million (USD$56.9 million) down from NZD$81 million a year ago.

Weakness in the European and Japanese travel markets, along with a doubling in the price of jet fuel in the past three years have pressured Air New Zealand's bottom line.

It boosted its annual profit improvement target to NZD$250 million by 2015, from NZD$195 million stated six months ago.

The carrier has a near 20 percent stake in Australian carrier Virgin Australia, with whom it has a commercial alliance, to combat aggressive competition from Qantas and its low cost offshoot Jetstar on routes between the two countries.

Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe is leaving at the end of the year and will be replaced by the current group manager international, Christopher Luxon.

Air New Zealand is one of five state owned assets, in which the New Zealand government is planning to sell minority stakes to raise up to NZD$7 billion so it can return to a budget surplus by 2015.

However, the government has said Air NZ will likely be one of the last sales and will be dependent on market conditions.


Last SAS MD-87 service planned for September 1, 2012

Sadly, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) plans to operate its last MD-87 service on September 1, 2012. SAS has been a loyal Douglas operator for many years having operated the DC-3 (C-47), DC-4, DC-6B, DC-7C,
DC-8-32/33/55/62/62CF/63/63PF, DC-9-21/32/33F/41/51, DC-10-30,
MD-81/82/83/87 and the MD-90-30.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) MD-87 (53336/1953) OY-KHU arrives at Manchester International (Ringway) (MAN/EGCC) on August 30, 2012 sporting special "Denmark UEFA EURO 2012 National Team" markings.
(Photos by Nike French)

Frequent flier awards points can now be used on space flights!

With most frequent flier programs, participants get free flights, access to airport lounges, and free upgrades on their rental cars. But Virgin Airlines just announced that whoever accumulates the most frequent flier points over the next year will get a free trip to space.

Richard Branson's space tourism company Virgin Galactic, which has been planning sub-orbital flights to space since 2004, appears to be ready to start taking space tourists just outside of Earth's atmosphere.

From now until August 7, 2013, Virgin is offering frequent fliers the chance to upgrade to "Galactic" status. Whoever accumulates the most points by that date will win a free flight aboard the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane. The second-place winner will get a free zero-gravity flight aboard a modified airplane here on Earth.

More than 500 people have placed deposits for the $200,000 trip aboard SpaceShipTwo since 2005. Although Virgin has successfully tested the vehicle, it still hasn't flown any tourists to space.

The SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry six passengers, and it's launched midair from another "carrier" airplane. The Federal Aviation Administration has given the company the go-ahead to test SpaceShipTwo in "powered flight" by the end of the year. It has already successfully completed "gliding" tests.

Virgin isn't the only company working on sub-orbital flights. Virginia-based Space Adventures has been planning hour-long trips to 62 miles above the earth's surface at a price of just over $100,000.

(Jason Koebler - US News and World Report)

CFO Laura Wright announces retirement from Southwest Airlines

Laura Wright, who replaced Gary Kelly as chief financial officer in 2004 when Kelly took over as chief executive officer at Southwest Airlines, plans to retire as of Sept. 20, the company said Thursday.

Wright. a 22-year Southwest employee, will be succeeded as CFO and senior vice president of finance by Tammy Romo, currently Southwest’s senior vice president of planning.

“We have an able successor already in place with Tammy, and an amazing finance leadership team that won’t miss a beat,” Wright said in the announcement. “I have a long list of things I’m anxious to tend to, including more time with family. With Gary’s leadership and the strategies in place, I leave with confidence regarding the bright future of this great company.”

“Laura has played a key role in the strong financial positioning of Southwest Airlines during the most challenging and difficult times our industry has ever faced,” said Kelly, Southwest’s CEO, chairman and president. “She has been a leader who is respected throughout our company, our industry and the financial community.”

He added: “Although I will personally miss Laura, I am respectful and understanding of her decision. I am also exceedingly pleased that Southwest has the demonstrated depth of management talent and leadership capability that will enable our shareholders, employees and customers to continue to be proud to be a part of the ongoing Southwest Airlines story of success.”

The airline said Wright will remain with Southwest through the end of the year to help with the transition. Of Romo, Kelly said, “We are fortunate to have a deep and knowledgeable leadership bench. Tammy is an excellent choice based on her strong accounting and technical background, outstanding strategic planning capabilities, and deep knowledge of our Company and overall corporate finance strategy.”

Here’s the summary of Romo’s background from the press release:
She joined Southwest in 1991 as Manager of Financial Reporting and has previously served as Director of Investor Relations, Vice President – Treasurer, Vice President – Controller, and Vice President of Financial Planning. Prior to joining Southwest, Romo was an audit manager at Coopers & Lybrand, LLP.
And here’s Wright’s bio from Southwest:
Senior Vice President Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Southwest Airlines Co. since July 15, 2004. Previous positions at Southwest: Vice President Finance and Treasurer (June 19, 2001-July 15, 2004); Treasurer (September 1, 1998-June 18, 2001); Assistant Treasurer (May 1995 to September 1998); Director Corporate Finance (October 1990 to May 1995); and Director Corporate Taxation (January 1988 to October 1990). Prior to joining Southwest, was a Tax Manager with Arthur Young & Company in Dallas, Texas.
(TMaxon - Dallas Morning News)

New Southwest Airlines 737-8H4 takes to the skies

The latest Southwest Airlines 737-8H4 (36686/4163) N8320J is captured arriving back at Seattle-Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) on Monday August 27, 2012 following a pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Lufthansa flight attendents prepare to strike on August 31

Lufthansa passengers face widespread flight disruption from Friday after cabin crew representatives said they would start a series of strikes over pay and cost-cutting measures at Germany's largest airline.

The UFO union, which represents around two thirds of Lufthansa's 19,000 cabin crew, would not say on Thursday which locations will be targeted or give the exact timing of strikes, saying only it would give six hours' notice.

The strikes come as Lufthansa cuts jobs and implements a three-year cost-cutting initiative to boost margins and finance investment in planes in the face of a weakening economy, high fuel costs and increased competition from low-cost carriers.

Lufthansa, which operates around 1,850 flights daily mostly from Frankfurt and Munich, needs to generate more profit to pay for EUR€17 billion (USD$21 billion) of more fuel-efficient aircraft on order.

Lufthansa and the UFO union have been negotiating for 13 months, with the union demanding a 5 percent pay rise and guarantees that Lufthansa will not outsource jobs and use more temporary workers, as it already has done in Berlin.

Talks broke down on Tuesday, and while Lufthansa has called for further negotiations, it maintains that cabin crew must contribute to the cost-cutting.

"It may well be that this industrial action could continue for a very long time," UFO said on its website.

UFO said the first wave of strikes would cover certain airports, rather than nationwide action. It has previously mentioned Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich as likely candidates.

"We do not want to give Lufthansa the opportunity to prepare for the strike by getting replacement crews ready," UFO head Nicoley Baublies told reporters.

Lufthansa has previously said it would seek to keep disruptions to a minimum by using cabin crew who were not part of the union and by drafting staff from other units.

A spokesman for the airline said it had several strategies to mitigate the impact of striking staff and would prioritize long-haul flights.

Lufthansa estimates a nationwide strike on a busy day would cost it millions of euros. Analysts have said costs could be kept to around EUR€5 million a day if flight cancellations were kept to a few hundred.


China inks deal with Airbus for 50 aircraft

China signed an agreement with Germany for 50 Airbus planes worth up to USD$4 billion during Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Beijing on Thursday.

It was the first significant order since a dispute between Beijing and Europe over emissions trading. The dispute had interrupted earlier deals worth up to USD$14 billion.

China's ICBC Leasing and Airbus signed the deal for 50 Airbus A320-family planes and another agreement about Airbus plane assembling in China, state news agency Xinhua said.

Xinhua put the value of the deal at USD$3.5 billion but at published list prices, the deal could be worth more than USD$4 billion.

China regularly orders aircraft in large batches timed to coincide with high-level contacts with US or European leaders, but the deal fell short of European expectations of a 100-plane order circulating on the eve of Merkel's trip.

Airbus insisted it was satisfied with the deal.

"In the current economic environment every deal is a good deal. What counts is: aviation is and remains a growth industry, with Asia and China being significant drivers," a company spokesman said.

Officials said Airbus and Chinese authorities had also signed a USD$1.6 billion framework deal to extend an Airbus A320 assembly line at Tianjin near Beijing.

Merkel is due to visit Tianjin where Airbus has just finished assembling the 100th passenger jet from parts shipped from Europe, under an agreement that runs out in 2016.

Short-range aircraft such as the A320 have been spared any fallout from a recent row between China and the European Union over airline emissions as China seeks to meet domestic demand and promote skills required for its own fledgling aircraft industry.

China continues however to block the purchase of about 35 larger Airbus aircraft to protest against EU plans to enforce a carbon reduction scheme that opposing nations deem unfair.

Airbus estimates China will need 4,270 new passenger and cargo aircraft in the next 20 years, dominated by narrow-body aircraft like the A320 or its rival Boeing's 737.

China aims to enter the jet market's largest segment with its Comac C919 airliner from 2016, but is expected to remain a significant importer of Western aircraft for decades.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Delta Air Lines oil refinery moves closer to restart-up

Delta Air Lines' new US refinery is receiving crude oil in its tanks ahead of the restart of some of its units after the holiday weekend, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

The 185,000 bpd Trainer, Pennsylvania refinery was bought by Delta on June 22, 2012, the nation's first purchase of an oil refinery by an airline was done to allow more control over fuel costs.


Air China launches new subsidiary, Air China Inner Mongolia Limited

Air China (CA) has launched a new subsidiary in Inner Mongolia as it expands in the North China market. Operations will begin at the end of the year.

The new venture, Air China Inner Mongolia Limited, has a registered capital of CNY1 billion ($159 million), in which CA holds an 80% stake while the local government of Inner Mongolia holds a 20% stake.

The Hohhot-based carrier will operate a fleet of four aircraft, comprising two Boeing 737-300s and two Boeing 737-700s, initially on domestic routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou and other Chinese cities. It plans to open more regional routes inside the Inner Mongolia region, which industry analysts predict will compete with Hainan Airlines’ (HU) subsidiary Tianjin Airlines, which is expanding its regional route network in Inner Mongolia region.

CA has seven subsidiaries, comprising Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Tibet Air, Kunming Airlines, Beijing Airlines, Dalian Airlines and Henan Airlines. China Eastern Airlines also has a Yunnan subsidiary while China Southern Airlines has a Chongqing subsidiary. HU has a Yunnan subsidiary and Beijing-based Capital Airlines.

Industry analysts point out that subsidiaries enable China’s domestic carriers to receive cash support and enjoy favorable policies from different local governments.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Qantas cancels order for 35 Boeing 787-9 aircraft

Citing lower international growth requirements in an “uncertain global context,” Qantas (QF) has canceled firm commitments for 35 Boeing 787-9s and posted its first full-year loss since 1995.

QF will retain 50 787-9 options and purchase rights, available for delivery from 2016. The Australian carrier said there were no changes to its order for 15 787-8s, the first of which is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2013.

The 787-9 cancellations will reduce capital expenditure by $8.5 billion.
QF posted a net loss of A$244 million ($255 million) for the financial year ended June 30, compared with a net profit of A$249 million for the previous year. QF International lost A$450 million, while QF Domestic and low-cost carrier subsidiary Jetstar Domestic delivered a combined profit of more than $600 million.

Joyce attributed the losses to a combination of a record fuel costs, up $645 million—an 18% hike—to $4.3 billion; $194 million incurred because of a prolonged industrial dispute last year; and costs of $376 million associated with a transformation plan aimed at turning around the company’s international business.

But Joyce added that the company was on track to make its international business profitable by 2014 as envisioned in a five-year transformation plan that started in August 2011 and which aims to cut costs by A$300 million a year.
“Our domestic position is pre-eminent and our domestic earnings outperformed the previous year. We have the two most profitable airlines in Australia,” Joyce said.

"We have 12 A380s in service across our long-haul network and the reconfiguration of nine 747s will be complete by late 2012,” CEO Alan Joyce said. “Boeing 737-800s will continue to enter the Qantas Domestic fleet as part of the Group’s existing fleet plan, while Airbus A330s will transfer from Jetstar as 787s are delivered. And Jetstar’s domestic and pan-Asian fleet requirements will be met over the long-term by our existing A320 order book and the arrival of 787-8s.”

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Global Express 5000 BD-700-1A11 (c/n 9206) N343DF operated by Parkview Aviation LLC is captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on August 23, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Woman makes round trip to Lahore, Pakistan as she sleeps through aircrafts stop in Paris

A Frenchwoman endured an 18-hour journey from the Pakistani city of Lahore to Paris and back again after sleeping through her plane's stop in the French capital, officials said on Wednesday.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are investigating how ground crew failed to notice the woman during the plane's two-hour stopover at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

The woman, named as Patrice Christine Ahmed, who is married to a Pakistani, left Lahore at noon on Tuesday to fly to Paris via Milan, but did not wake up to get off the plane, airline spokesman Sultan Hasan told AFP.

The woman did not mention her mistake to cabin crew and the matter only came to light when she was stopped by immigration officials on arrival back in Lahore on Wednesday morning -- after a 12,000-kilometre (7700-mile) round trip.

Hasan said PIA were investigating the incident and the French subcontractor responsible for passenger handling in Paris.

"We have put questions to this French firm also about the incident but it is also the responsibility of the passenger to disembark at the destination," he said.

"It is a passenger's responsibility to check about the destination and disembark when the plane arrives at the particular airport."

PIA later arranged to send the woman back to Paris with another airline because none of its own flights were available, but said that the party responsible for the negligence will pay for the extra ticket.

"It depends who is at fault. If it is a mistake by the local firm, they will pay and if the woman herself is responsible than she will have to bear the cost," Hasan said.

(Yahoo News)

Controller confusion lead to close call between AA 777 and 2 C-17A's

US investigators have detailed the confused co-ordination between air traffic controllers that led to a close encounter between an American Airlines Boeing 777 and a pair of US Air Force Boeing C-17s off the New York coast.

The 777 pilots received three resolution advisories from their collision-avoidance system, two ordering a descent and the third demanding a climb, after air traffic control efforts to separate the three aircraft failed.

After a refuelling operation with a McDonnell Douglas KC-10, the westbound C-17s were cleared to descend to 21,000ft (6,400m). Shortly beforehand, the controller had also taken a radar hand-off of the 777, but could not contact its crew because the pilots had not been told to change radio frequency from 128.3MHz.

Before the hand-off the 777, heading southeast, had been cleared to climb to 23,000ft. Unable to reach the 777 himself, the controller sought to halt the climb by asking the 777's previous controller - now busy with a separate flightplan verification - to stop the jet at 20,000ft.

But this request, relayed via an assistant, went unheeded for 46s, and the controller instead ordered the C-17s to turn right in an attempt to increase horizontal separation. He also told the C-17s to stop descending at 22,000ft.

The 777's previous controller, still in radio contact with the jet, overheard the discussion about the C-17s' altitude and mistakenly identified 22,000ft as the height at which to stop the 777's climb.
As a result he ordered the 777 to maintain 22,000ft and also instructed it to turn right as a traffic-avoidance measure.

The C-17s' collision-avoidance systems were operating in "traffic-advisory only" mode, as required by US Air Force multi-ship formation rules, and did not deviate from their altitude, while the 777 crew received three resolution advisories in succession, the third reversing a previously ordered descent.

One of the pilots of the lead C-17 told the controller that it had come "within approximately 2,000ft" of the 777, as the two crossed at the same altitude. The 777 crew transmitted: "That guy passed us now, and that was not good." Radar data indicates the horizontal distance was only 2,300ft and there was no vertical separation. The second C-17 was 500ft to the right and 4,000ft behind the lead.

The controller handling the 777's communications told the crew: "I apologise, I am not working that other airplane." He told the National Transportation Safety Board that the plan to separate the aircraft "was not clearly conveyed to him" and that he was "just guessing what the [other] controller was doing with the [C-17s]", without understanding the "urgency" of the situation.

In a factual disclosure, issued in August, the NTSB attributes the 21 January 2011 encounter, which occurred 88nm (163km) southeast of New York, to a "misunderstanding" between the controllers.

            (David Kaminski-Morrow - Flightglobal News)

Israeli Defense Force considers lease of up to 22 V-22 "Osprey"

Faced with insufficient resources to fund the purchase of Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are instead considering leasing six to eight of the aircraft for the Israeli air force.

Last year the service identified an operational requirement for the V-22, following an evaluation of the type at US Marine Corps facilities in the USA. The IAF had hoped to buy "a number" of tiltrotors for "special operations".

However, the inclusion of funds for the V-22 acquisition in the new multi-year plan for the IDF has been put on ice, thanks to a row between Israel's defence and finance ministries over the defence budget.

A source on 21 August indicated that the IDF still believes there is a requirement for the V-22, and will look at other possible acquisition methods.

        (Arie Egozi - Flightglobal News)

LAN scheduled to take delivery of its first 787 on August 31, 2012

Latin American airline group LAN will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on 31 August, becoming the fourth operator of the aircraft and the first in South America.

The aircraft (CC-BBA) completed final assembly in July and will be unveiled in a ceremony at Boeing's Everett, Washington, facilities on 30 August. It will depart on a flight to Santiago on 31 August at about 17:00 local time and arrive in the Chilean capital on 1 September at about 09:00, says LAN.

LAN, which recently completed a merger with Brazil's TAM to form LATAM Airlines group, has 32 787s on order. Of these, 22 are -8s while the remaining 10 are the larger 787-9s. All 32 aircraft will have Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

LATAM's chief executive Enrique Cueto said that the first LAN 787 route will likely be to Los Angeles or Buenos Aires, and that the airline aims to operate the aircraft to Europe eventually, during an interview with Flightglobal in June. Madrid, Frankfurt and Lima are among the other destinations that the airline plans to operate the new aircraft to.

LAN's 787 order will be delivered during the next 10 years, and represents a $3.5 billion investment for the airline. Its first 787-8 is configured in two classes, with 217 seats in economy and 30 in business.

The Latin American carrier will be the first in the region to operate the 787 and the fourth airline to take delivery of the aircraft. All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines have taken delivery of the type, with Ethiopian receiving its first on 14 August.

            (Ghim-Lay Yeo - Flightglobal News)

United announces 787 routes

United Airlines will fly its Boeing 787-8s to Amsterdam, Lagos, London Heathrow, Shanghai and Tokyo Narita beginning 4 December.

The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier will fly its 787s between Houston Intercontinental and Amsterdam daily from 4 December to 29 March 2013, Los Angeles and Tokyo daily from 3 January 2013, Houston and Lagos five-times per week from 7 January 2013, Houston and London daily from 4 February 2013 to 29 March 2013, and Los Angeles and Shanghai daily from 30 March 2013, according to an employee bulletin today. It operates all of the routes on other aircraft currently.

The airline will begin previously announced daily service between Denver and Tokyo on 31 March 2013.

"The 787 is the right aircraft for these routes because of its many passenger-friendly amenities and superior operating economics," says Greg Hart, senior vice president of network at United, in the bulletin.

United says that it will fly the 787 within the USA before international flights begin, in the bulletin.
The airline has 50 787-8s on order with delivery of the first (N20904) due before the end of September. Boeing will deliver six of the type to United by the end of the year, according to the Flightglobal Ascend database.

The first test flight of United's first 787 occurred on 19 August.

(Edward Russel - Flightglobal News)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flight Attendants at American Airlines accept new contract

Flight attendants at American Airlines on Sunday accepted the company's last and final contract offer, a decision that will help the bankrupt carrier in its bid to cut labor costs.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a statement that the vote was 59.52 percent in favor of the offer. It said 92.8 percent of the 13,544 eligible voters cast ballots.

The approval by the flight attendants eliminates the need for American parent AMR Corp to attempt to void those contracts and impose stricter labor terms. Union-represented ground workers have already approved new contracts with concessions.

AMR Corp spokesman, Bruce Hicks, said in a statement that the vote is an important step in the company's restructuring.

"We know this was not an easy decision for our flight attendants and we are very pleased with the choice they made," Hicks said.

The flight attendants' vote leaves pilots, who soundly rejected a tentative contract earlier this month, as American's only major work group that has not reached consensual deals with givebacks.

AMR has said it needs to save $1.06 billion in overall labor costs per year, and about $842 million from its unions.

The flight attendants' union said in its statement on the vote that it "will now continue our strong and concise message that we have zero confidence in this management team."

American renewed a request to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on Friday seeking to terminate its existing collective bargaining agreements with the Allied Pilots Association union and impose more draconian terms. That move followed an August 15 ruling by U.S. Judge Sean Lane denying American's original motion in part because it would give the carrier unrestricted ability to temporarily lay off pilots and engage in code-sharing.

Pilots voted down American's final contract offer by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent on August 8. Should the bankruptcy court permit American to scrap the pilots' current contract, the carrier would still need to negotiate a long-term deal.

Resolving labor issues would allow American Airlines to shift focus to its planned emergence from bankruptcy and whether it will do so alone or as part of a merger. Last month, the carrier began sending non-disclosure agreements to potential merger partners.

American has started reviewing potential mergers, including a deal with US Airways Group, to determine whether merging with another carrier would offer greater value than emerging as a standalone carrier.

Leaders of the airline's flight attendants' union had urged members to accept AMR's offer. AMR's creditors committee had also weighed in last week, urging the unions to reach consensual contracts rather than be left at the mercy of abrogated deals the court could permit.


Qantas pilots grounded following cockpit disagreement

QANTAS has stood down two pilots who had a heated argument in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 jumbo on the tarmac at Dallas' international airport.

Just weeks after Qantas stood down a captain for returning a positive alcohol reading, it has emerged that another captain and a second officer on a 747-400 had an argument over the take-off calculations they should be punching into the passenger jet's computer system.

Qantas has launched an investigation into the dispute between the pilots, who have been told they cannot fly. The incident occurred last Tuesday night (US time) as a major thunderstorm was rolling across Dallas, causing severe congestion at the airport.

Because the pilots were already close to exceeding their 20-hour duty limits due to delays caused by the thunderstorms, Qantas' flight operations managers decided to keep the plane on the ground overnight at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The managers were later informed of the argument between the pilots and stood them down. It meant the airline had to bring in replacement pilots to fly QF8 back to Sydney via Brisbane the next day.

The 747-400 jumbo, which can carry about 320 passengers on the ultra-long-haul route across the Pacific, had been due to arrive in Brisbane at 5am on Thursday but did not touch down until 18 hours later.

A Qantas spokesman confirmed yesterday that a captain and a second officer had been withheld from service while an investigation was under way.

But he said the flight was late arriving in Brisbane because of the delays caused by the thunderstorms, not the altercation between the two pilots.

"Qantas flight QF8 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Brisbane on 14 August was delayed overnight as a result of severe thunderstorms in the Dallas area,'' he said.

The 13,816-kilometre route is one of the longest non-stop routes in the world and the longest flown by 747 jumbos.

(Matt O'Sullivan - WAToday)

Friday, August 17, 2012

American Airlines creditors urge union employees to agree to new labor contracts

The creditors’ committee of American Airlines (AA) parent AMR Corp. issued a stark warning to AA pilots and other unionized employees of the carrier and regional affiliate American Eagle to “promptly” reach consensual agreements with management on new labor contracts.

The creditors’ committee, in a lengthy statement issued after its labor subcommittee met Thursday, said AA and Eagle workers “should not misinterpret” the decision by a US bankruptcy judge to deny AA’s request to terminate its labor contract with its pilots.

“Contrary to initial press reports, the court upheld [AA’s] motion in its entirety, except for two specific contract proposals relating to codesharing and pilot furloughs,” the committee stated. “These proposals have already been modified by the company in the recent [tentative] agreement voted on by American’s pilots [rejected 61%-39%] and the committee believes that the court will promptly sustain the company’s position when the court considers the company’s revised motion [expected to contain language similar to the tentative agreement] in early September.”

The committee emphasized it has “concluded that there is no additional economic value beyond the current company offers that can be provided to the company’s labor organizations without endangering AMR’s reorganization and the rights and economic interests of nonunion creditors and parties in interest. Accordingly, the committee … will oppose any new efforts to transfer additional economic value from general unsecured creditors to American’s unionized employees.”

It noted the pilots and other work groups are being offered equity stakes in the company, but warned that continuing to reject management’s offers will likely result in no equity for the workers. “The committee will not support equity stakes or claims for any labor organization that does not ratify a collective bargaining agreement nor will the committee support any further economic value to labor organizations beyond the current proposals,” it said.

Early next month, the court is expected to consider and rule on AA’s revised request to abrogate the labor contract for its 10,000 pilots if no consensual accord has been reached.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa Cargo to take delivery of first 777F in fall of 2013

Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) will take delivery of the first of five GE 90-powered Boeing 777 freighters in the fall of 2013, followed by two in 2014 and two in 2015.

LHC will decide if it will convert the five options over the next several weeks. “To have [aircraft] options gives us flexibility,” LHC executive board member-operations Karl-Rudolf Rupprecht told ATW in Frankfurt. It is unclear if LHC will use the 777s for fleet expansion or replacement of its 19 MD-11 aircraft.

LHC and its AeroLogic joint venture [with DHL Express] operate eight 777Fs. “The 777F saves 17% fuel compared to an MD-11. If we operate 19 777s, the fleet needs the same amount of fuel for 11 months compared to 19 MD-11Fs in 12 months,” Rupprecht said.

The Lufthansa Group uses 10 million tons of Jet A1 kerosene annually. LHC said it has reduced fuel burn by 4% since 2005, or 1.9 tons per flight.

LHC is targeting a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 and a 50% reduction in net CO2 emissions by 2050.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

AviancaTaca triples 2012 2Q profit

AviancaTaca Holdings reported a second-quarter net profit of COP$8.8 billion ($4.9 million), more than triple its year-ago profit.

The company said the second-quarter results “reflect the impact of adjustments in maintenance cost estimates and changes in the valuation methodology applied to frequent flyer miles.”

Second-quarter operating revenue was COP$1.8 trillion ($1 billion), up 12.9%.

RPKs grew 11.6%, while ASKs increased 9.6% as a result of the ongoing operating strategy of consolidating four main hubs respectively in Bogotá, Lima, San Salvador and San José.

Five new routes and 19 new flights were added to the network in the period, while the company added one Airbus A319 and one A320 to the fleet. One Boeing 757 was removed from service. Load factor remained flat at 77.7% year-over-year.

First-half net income was COP$71.6 billion and operating income grew 19.3% to COP$126.2 billion.
Chairman Roberto Kriete told ATW in June that the merger of Colombia’s Avianca (AV) and El Salvador’s Grupo TACA (TA) into AviancaTaca created higher-than-expected synergies and by the middle of next year, it will complete the 100% target of synergies.

AV and TA joined Star Alliance in June.

(Edvaldo Pereira Lima - ATWOnline News)

F-15 pilots want updated displays as USAF proceeds with F-15C & E upgrades

The US Air Force is planning a host of upgrades for its fleet of Boeing F-15Cs and F-15Es, but pilots say that without upgraded displays, they will not be able to take full advantage of those enhanced systems.

On the two-seat multirole F-15E Strike Eagle, the air force is planning to add the new Raytheon APG-82(V)1 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, a new advanced display core processor II (ADCP II) mission computer, a new electronic warfare system dubbed the Eagle passive/active warning and survivability system (EPAWSS), a digital video recorder, Mode 5 identification friend or foe (IFF), and a joint helmet mounted cueing system (JHMCS) for the front seat, says a senior air force official at the F-15 system program office (SPO) at Robins AFB, Georgia. The aircraft will also receive a series of software block updates.


The air force plans to furnish the single-seat F-15C air superiority fighter fleet with a similar upgrade. The F-15C is already receiving the Raytheon APG-63(V) 3 AESA, but it will also receive the ADCP II, EPAWSS, Mode 5 IFF, a new flight data recorder, a satellite communications (SATCOM) radio, and a new digital video recorder, the F-15 SPO official says. The F-15 will also receive a series of software block updates.

Pilots applaud the improved sensors, but point out that without a major overhaul to the aircraft's displays, they will not be able to take full advantage of those new systems. "Those look like great upgrades. The part I see that is lacking is in the displays," says one highly experienced former F-15 pilot. "You have these phenomenal subsystems, but if you can't provide [sensor data] in a meaningful way to the operator, it doesn't matter."

The radar display on the F-15C is particularly problematic. "The F-15C has a phenomenal radar, but the info is displayed on a tiny four by four [inch] scope," the pilot says. Even the F-15E, which has a much more modern glass cockpit, will not be able to fully utilize the information generated by the new sensors without further modernization.

The USAF is not currently considering adding, for example, the large area display or decoupled cockpits that Boeing is offering to international F-15E customers. "However, we continue to look for opportunities to leverage to meet the warfighter's needs," the F-15 SPO official says.

The APG-82 development effort for the F-15E is continuing, the F-15 SPO official says. The new radar marries the AESA antenna from the APG-63(V) 3 with the backend electronics from the Boeing F/A-18E/F's Raytheon APG-79 AESA radar-currently in service with the US Navy. "Operational testing will start in March 2013," the official says. "The first production installation is scheduled for early fiscal year 2014."

Meanwhile, the air force has started planning for the development and integration of the EPAWSS. The service hopes to award an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015, the official says.

To take better advantage of the new radar and electronic warfare systems, and also to enable further upgrades, the F-15 must integrate the ADCP II computer. The air force hopes to start development of the ADCP II with a "Milestone B" decision in November 2012, the F-15 SPO official says. The first F-15E installation is planned for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016 while the F-15C will receive the new computer in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.

The USAF also hopes to add an infrared search and track (IRST) capability to the F-15C, which could significantly boost the air-to-air capability of the venerable air superiority fighter. "The IRST program will restart in fiscal year 2015," the official says. But "the F-15E will not receive the IRST" because it is not primarily tasked with air-to-air missions.


Further modernization is a foregone conclusion as both versions of the F-15 are expected to remain in USAF service into the 2030s. Fortunately for the air force, the F-15 airframe is robust and should be able serve well into the future, the F-15 SPO official says.

"There is currently no projected requirement for a major structural mod program. Numerous structural improvements have been incorporated throughout the life of both F-15C and E models," he says. "Many parts have been redesigned to eliminate structural issues identified during service."

One of the unique features of the F 15 is that "it has very robust programmed depot maintenance (PDM) which includes a complete wing overhaul." The aircraft's structure will continue to be sustained through this PDM process, the F-15 SPO official says.

But the USAF is also working to increase the F-15's service life though structural testing.

"Previous F-15E full scale testing successfully demonstrated 16,000 flight hours of operational usage with no catastrophic failures or evidence of life limiting fatigue issues. The current fleet average is approximately 9,000 hours," the official says. "A contract for additional testing was awarded in [fiscal year 2010] to recertify the F-15E structure for service to 2035 based on current/projected flying hours and usage severity." Testing in the Strike Eagle should be completed by September 2015.

F-15C full scale testing has already demonstrated 18,000 flight hours of operational usage "with no catastrophic failures or evidence of life limiting fatigue issues. The current fleet average is approximately 8,600 hours," the F-15 SPO official says. The air force awarded a contract for additional testing on the jet in fiscal year 2009 to recertify the F-15C's structure to push its service life out to 2030. That is "based on current/projected flying hours and usage severity," the official says.

Testing on the F-15C should be complete by September 2014.

         (Dave Majumdar - Flight Global News)

Photo of the Day / Northwest Cargo 747-222B(SF) N646NW

Northwest Cargo 747-222B(SF) (23737/675) N646NW is caught just off the deck at Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC/PANC) in Anchorage, Alaska on May 1, 2009.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

American Airlines still hopes to void pilots contract

The parent of American Airlines on Friday renewed its push to void its collective bargaining agreement with its pilots' union, two days after a federal bankruptcy judge rejected an earlier effort.

US Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane in Manhattan, who oversees the Chapter 11 proceedings of American Airlines' parent AMR, had objected to what he called the carrier's proposed "unfettered discretion" under its earlier proposal to temporarily lay off pilots and engage in code-sharing.

AMR said its revised plan addresses these concerns by retaining current contractual limits on furloughs/layoffs, and setting restrictions on the ability of the airline to enter code-sharing relationships.

"We believe both of those changes properly address the court's concern," and will help AMR "keep moving forward to achieve the savings and flexibility needed for our successful restructuring," AMR spokesman Bruce Hicks said in a statement.

Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said that group will review the changes.
A hearing on the revised plan is scheduled for September 4.

Lane's decision on Wednesday was unexpected, and set back AMR in its effort to save more than USD$1 billion a year in staff costs, including USD$315 million from the pilots union.

The new code-sharing proposal would let AMR enter new relationships with other US carriers and their regional partners, subject to limits based on seating and distance flown.

It also would allow restricted code-sharing relationships with Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
"American has taken heed of the court's decision as to the deficiencies of its previously open-ended domestic code-sharing proposal and has made a revised proposal that imposes real limits," Todd Duffield, a lawyer for AMR, said in a filing.

AMR's creditors committee has supported the carrier's bid to abandon union contracts, and has said it would not be difficult for the carrier to address the judge's concerns.

Lane on Wednesday also said "significant" concessions from the pilots were needed before AMR could emerge from Chapter 11, though he rejected an argument by unions that AMR must consider a merger with smaller rival US Airways.

The pilots' union had last week overwhelmingly rejected AMR's best and final contract offer.
AMR's flight attendants union is scheduled on Sunday to finish voting on their own final contract offer from management.

The carrier has already reached consensual terms with the Transport Workers Union, which represents ground workers.


As the saying goes "Ass, Grass, or Cash - no-one rides for free" as Air France crew asks passengers for gas money

The crew of an Air France plane that was re-routed via Damascus on Wednesday asked passengers how much cash they could stump up after Syrian authorities refused credit card payment to refuel the aircraft.

Ultimately it found an alternative arrangement, it said.

The plane that was headed for Beirut on Wednesday night was diverted due to civil unrest in the Lebanese capital and sought to go to Amman, but it was forced to land in Syria due to lack of fuel.

Air France stopped its flights to Damascus in March as fighting in the country escalated, and relations between France and Syria have collapsed since Paris demanded that President Bashar al-Assad step down.

"Because of the terrible relations between the two countries and the situation in Syria, the passengers were really worried about landing there," a friend of one of the passengers, who asked not to be identified, told reporters.

On landing the local airport authorities said they could not accept a credit card payment and would only take cash, an Air France spokeswoman said.

"As a precaution and in anticipation, the crew asked how much money the passengers had in cash to pay to fill up with fuel," the airline spokeswoman said.

She said the airline was eventually able to pay the bill without taking money from passengers, but she declined to say how it had paid or how much the fuel stop cost.

The plane, which had departed from Paris, took off two hours after landing in Damascus for an overnight stop in Cyprus. It was due to arrive in Beirut on Thursday evening.

The European Union has imposed a series on sanctions on Syria, including a ban on the Syrian national airline that will prevent the flag carrier landing at EU airports, although it will still be able to fly over EU countries and make emergency stops.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius arrived in Beirut on Thursday evening as part of a three-day trip to the region to garner support ahead of a ministerial meeting on Syria in August at the United Nations. France currently chairs the UN Security Council.


Air Berlin to sell eight aircraft in effort to reduce debt

Air Berlin (AB) will sell eight narrowbody aircraft to increase its core capital, enhance liquidity reserves and reduce debt by €300 million ($369.2 million) by year end, it said Wednesday.

The carrier expects to improve its full-year target from €200 million to €230 million in savings from its cost-cutting Shape & Size program.

By the end of June, AB reduced its fleet to 152 from 165 in the year-ago period. By year end, its fleet will be reduced to 144 aircraft.

High fuel prices resulted in a second-quarter net loss of €66.2 million, worsened from €43.9 million year-over-year. Revenue increased 1.7% to €1.13 billion.

CEO Hartmut Mehdorn confirmed that AB aims to return to an operating profit in 2013.

The carrier fears that yet another delay in the opening of Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BER) will further affect its yearly financial performance.

Several German media outlets report the latest opening date of March 2013 is unlikely to be met and delays could go into the summer or even fall of next year. BER was originally supposed to open in November 2011.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Court sides with pilots in AA contract dispute, for now!

American Airlines (AA) was unexpectedly rebuked Wednesday by a US bankruptcy judge, who declined to reject AA’s labor contract with its pilots. The airline, however, expressed confidence that changes can be made to its request to the court that will enable the pilots’ contract to be rejected and new labor rules imposed.

AA’s 10,000 pilots, represented by the Allied Pilots Assn. (APA), last week voted down a tentative agreement that had been reached with AA management on a new collective bargaining agreement, setting the stage for the court to rule on a labor contract containing work rules AA has said are untenable going forward.

Both AA and APA expected the court to reject the contract, but US bankruptcy judge Sean Lane ruled that AA had not made the case, particularly in regard to having the ability to furlough pilots and re-write scope clauses to have greater flexibility in regional airline contracts.

He did concede that changes to the pilots’ contract are necessary and said AA can resubmit a new, revised request to throw out the contract. The judge “ultimately concluded that only two narrowly defined elements of the company’s proposal require modification,” AA spokesperson Bruce Hicks said in an emailed statement. “We will adjust those elements … Even regarding the two items on which the court found that American had exceeded what was necessary, Judge Lane agreed that the status quo was untenable.

He concluded that American needs a significant increase in codesharing and latitude to furlough, but he believed that our proposals on both need to be modified.”

New APA president Keith Wilson said in a message to AA pilots that “management has overreached in their desire to extract more concessions than are warranted to support their reorganization plan in this bankruptcy … Clearly management went well beyond what is the industry standard for bankruptcy contracts, and the judge recognized this in his decision.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Gulfstream G280 and G650 fly towards final FAA certification

Gulfstream Aerospace’s two newest aircraft–the super-midsize G280 and wide-cabin G650–are both on final approach to receive their respective FAA certification, the company announced yesterday.

FAA pilots have finished all the scheduled flying required for the G650 certification program, and the EASA test team has completed the flight testing required for its validation of FAA type certification. The G650 received FAA provisional certification in November and is in the process of completing final certification tests with the FAA to allow entry-into-service later this year.

These include field performance tests, evaluating the aircraft’s performance in natural icing conditions and conducting function and reliability testing. As of July 31, the test fleet had logged more than 3,800 hours on more than 1,160 sorties. Meanwhile, the G280 is rapidly closing in on its entry into service.

All certification flying has been completed for the new super-midsize jet, which received provisional type certificates from the FAA in March and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel in December. Gulfstream characterizes the remaining process for approval as just a paperwork exercise.

As of July 31, the three flight-test G280s had logged more than 2,000 hours on more than 740 flights. The fatigue test article has completed more than 17,000 of 40,000 cycles planned.

(Aviation International News)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photo of the Day / Polar Air Cargo 747-46NF N450PA "Spirit of Long Beach"

Polar Air Cargo 747-46NF (30808/1257) N450PA "Spirit of Long Beach" captured at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 16, 2000 following its delivery flight from Boeing's Paine Field (PAE/KPAE). This was only the second time that a Boeing 747 has been on the ground at Long Beach Airport, the first being a Flying Tigers 747 which diverted from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) in the early 1970's.

(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Ethiopian Airlines evaluating 737 MAX

Ethiopian Airlines is evaluating the Boeing 737 Max as it charts out an ambitious growth plan to triple its fleet by 2025.

The carrier aims to operate 120 aircraft by 2025 under its current strategic plan, says airline chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam.

Ethiopian received its 49th aircraft, its first Boeing 787-8, from Boeing in Seattle on 14 August.
The airline currently operates 12 737 Next Generation aircraft and is awaiting delivery of seven more 737-800s. It will make a decision on a new narrowbody order after these deliveries are complete in 2014.

Ethiopian is also considering the Airbus A320neo family for its future narrowbody fleet, says GebreMariam. "Since we are committed to the 737, the Max makes more sense," he adds.

The airline will take delivery of 14 aircraft during its current fiscal year, which ends 30 June 2013: five 787s, five Bombardier Q400s, two Boeing 777 freighters and two 737-800s.

          (Ghim-Lay Yeo - Flight Global News)

Japan Airlines plans cabin retro-fit on 777-300/ER fleet

Japan Airlines (JAL) will retrofit its Boeing 777-300ER fleet and some of its Boeing 767-300ERs with a new cabin product.

The Oneworld alliance member's 13 Boeing 777-300ERs will be retrofitted with eight first class seats, 49 business seats, 40 premium economy seats and 135 economy seats, says JAL's spokeswoman.

It hopes to commence the retrofitting works "soon", she adds.

Japan Airlines (JAL) 777-346/ER (36129/816) JA742J climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 15, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The retrofitted aircraft will first be deployed on its Tokyo Narita-London Heathrow route from January 2013, before being extended to other destinations like New York.

The airline also plans to retrofit an unspecified number of dual-class configuration 767-300ERs. It will introduce full-flat business class seats first, before retrofitting its economy class seats from October 2013.

JAL's spokeswoman was unable to confirm when the retrofit programme will be completed.

Contour Aerospace will supply the first class seats. This section of the aircraft is being redesigned and will retain the "best qualities" of JAL's existing Suite seat, says the airline. The seats will feature 23in (584mm) personal television screens, larger than the existing 19in screens.

B/E Aerospace will provide the full-flat business class seats. All of them will have unobstructed aisle access. These seats will also have greater privacy, says JAL. They will include 23in television screens, a significant increase from the existing 15.4in screens.

Sicma Aero Seat has been contracted to work on the premium economy seats, which retains a fixed backrest feature that allows for sufficient legroom even when the passenger in front reclines, says the airline.

The seat pitch has been widened by approximately 4in for more legroom, while the 12.1in television screens will be larger than the existing 9in ones.

Zim Flugsitz will supply the economy class seats, which will have a wider seat pitch of 2-3in as a result of the slimmer seat-back design.

"Extensive research and planning have gone into the selection of these new products, and with other upcoming services to be rolled out, we hope to deliver our promise to offer our customers excellence in safety and quality, and to express our gratitude for their support as we endeavour to re-establish ourselves as a leading air transport company that can continuously serve travellers," Takahisa Hatakeyama, JAL's vice-president for product and service strategy development, said in a statement.

The airline has no plans to retrofit its Boeing 737-800 or Embraer 170 aircraft with the new seats, adds the spokeswoman.

            (Firdaus Hashim - Flight Global News)

Hong Kong Airlines fleet renewal plans face uncertain future

Hong Kong Airlines (HX) is considering canceling its order for 10 Airbus A380s according to AFP, amid ongoing Chinese government protests against the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme tax (EU ETS).

"There are no firm decisions at this point. It will depend on how the business and the external environment evolves in the future," an HX spokesman told AFP. Despite the possible cancellation, the spokesperson told AFP that HX would eventually have an “all Airbus” fleet.

Consequently, it is also considering delaying delivery of six Boeing 777Fs, originally slated for delivery in 2013 and 2014, to “after”2015, according to Reuters, and replace five 787-800s and two 737-300Fs with A330s and A320s this year.

The carrier earlier this month said it would cease service between Hong Kong and London Gatwick from Sept. 10, to focus on a regional Asia-Pacific model following a review of its European strategy due to the weak economic outlook.

The announcement came on the heels of a Hong Kong Civil Aviation Dept. ruling to freeze HX’s fleet expansion plans due to safety concerns surrounding its rapid fleet expansion.

The A380 order, placed in January, is valued at about $3.8 billion at list prices and was scheduled for first delivery in 2015.

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)

United Airlines officially unveils its first 787 "Dreamliner"

United Airlines 787. Courtesy, UA
United Airlines (UA) has unveiled its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner after being rolled out of the paint hangar at Boeing’s Everett, Wash., facility.
UA is the North American launch customer for the Dreamliner and expects to take delivery of its first 787 in September. The airline has firm orders for 50 787s, for delivery by 2019.
United Airlines 787 interior. Courtesy, UA
The aircraft cabin is configured with 36 seats in business/first, 72 seats in economy plus and 111 seats in economy.

(ATWOnline News)