Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hawaiian Airlines CEO says DOT decision to let Delta keep Haneda reveals pro-business travel bias

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley said Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to allow Delta Air Lines to retain its slot at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport was indicative of a bias favoring business travelers over leisure travel and tourism.

Hawaiian Airlines, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings Inc., had filed an application in January for daily service between Haneda and Kona Airport on the Big Island.

The DOT decision to allow Delta Air Lines continue to operate its Haneda route from Seattle — after the airline had cut back on its winter service to the route instead of the daily flights it had agreed to when it won the slot in 2013 — was “tremendously disappointing” for Hawaiian Airlines, Dunkerely said.

“Sadly, by dismissing Hawaiian’s proposed Kona route as just simply being additive to the routes already serving Hawaii, the DOT has once more failed to appreciate the geography of the 50th state,” Dunkerley said in a statement. “Kona and Honolulu are separate markets, separate communities and indeed are located on separate islands.”

Dunkerley also took a swipe at a perceived bias by regulators against Hawaii’s No. 1 industry, tourism.

“The tentative ruling also reveals a long-held institutional bias among decision makers favoring the interests of U.S. business travelers over those of U.S. travel-related businesses and travelers in general,” he said.

The DOT’s decision hinges on Delta increasing the frequency on the Haneda-Seattle route to daily, year-round flights. If the airline fails to maintain that schedule, the DOT will turn the Haneda slot over to American Airlines.

Hawaiian already operates daily flights between Haneda and Honolulu International Airport.

“Hawaiian is the only airline to have operated Haneda service continuously and successfully since the slot rights were granted,” Dunkerley said.

Dunkerley noted that Hawaiian’s proposed route would have provided more seats and would have resulted in more travelers flying between Japan and the United States that the proposed routes for Delta or American.

“Kona is the largest unserved market in this proceeding, and Hawaiian’s proposed route would have generated more economic benefit than that offered by either Delta or American,” Dunkerley said.
“None of these facts are in dispute by the DOT.”

Delta said in a statement that it had resumed its service between Seattle and Haneda “after a temporary seasonal suspension” but that it would now year-round nonstop flights to Haneda from Seattle.

(Janis L. Magin - Pacific Business News)

Friday, March 27, 2015

ANA finalizes order for three Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners

Japan's All Nippon Airways has ordered three 787-10 Dreamliners, becoming the first airline in Asia to operate all three versions of the high-tech jetliner, Boeing said Friday.

The new 787-10 is the largest of the Dreamliner family, capable of carrying 323 passengers up to 13,000 kilometers (8,078 miles), a distance that represents more than 90 percent of the world's twin-aisle routes, according to the US aerospace giant.

"We are honored to play such an important role in ANA's continued success as they look to expand their fleet to include the entire family of 787 Dreamliners," said Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive, in a statement.

The ANA order is valued at roughly $900 million at list prices. The airline had announced its commitment to buy the aircraft in January.

ANA currently operates the world's largest 787 fleet with 34 Dreamliners, built with lightweight composite components that helped to lower fuel consumption. The largest Japanese airline was the launch customer for the Dreamliner, which entered service in October 2011.

According to Boeing, the 787-10 will be 25 to 30 percent more efficient than the airplanes it replaces.

Boeing has a net orders total of four 787s, according to a company update this week. In 2014, Boeing booked a net 65 orders for the Dreamliner, down from 183 orders in 2013.

(Yahoo Business News)

JetBlue Pilot sues airline for not ensuring he was fit to fly

A JetBlue Airways Corp. pilot whose erratic behavior forced the diversion of a flight from New York to Las Vegas in 2012 sued the airline for $14.9 million, claiming it shouldn’t have allowed him to fly.
Clayton Osbon, 52, filed his suit three days after the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, which has raised concerns about pilots’ mentally stability.

Authorities said they believe Flight 9525’s co-pilot intentionally steered the Airbus A320 into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 passengers and crew.

Osbon claims in his complaint that a “complex partial brain seizure” caused him to run down the plane’s aisle, screaming about religion and terrorist attacks before he was restrained by passengers. He said JetBlue’s failure to ground him before the flight caused him public embarrassment and the loss of his career and reputation.

“JetBlue failed to make any effort to ensure that Captain Osbon was fit to fly despite clear evidence and warning signs that he required immediate medical attention,” according to a complaint filed Friday in Manhattan federal court.

Osbon was found not guilty by reason of insanity of a charge of interfering with a flight crew. A psychologist said he suffered from a “severe mental disease or defect” at the time of the flight.

‘Heroic Actions’

“We stand behind the heroic actions of the crew, who followed well-established safety and security procedures both before and during the flight,” said Morgan Johnston, a spokesman for New York-based JetBlue.
Osbon said that because of the seizure, he missed a preflight crew meeting, failed to answer his mobile phone and arrived for work disoriented and disheveled.

“Captain Osbon’s uniform, appearance and demeanor clearly demonstrated that something was wrong and that he was not fit to fly,” according to the complaint.

Osbon claimed JetBlue violated his employment contract and was negligent in failing to ensure he was fit for duty before Flight 191, from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.
JetBlue’s failure to land the plane sooner “unnecessarily endangered the lives of Captain Osbon, the crew and the 135 passengers,” he said.
Osbon said in the complaint that he was unaware before the flight that he had brain damage from a childhood injury.
The seizure “severely impaired his ability to perform basic activities, caused him to hallucinate and caused extreme feelings of paranoia and religious fervor,” he said.

(Bob Van Voris - Bloomberg Business)

A look at All Nippon Airways' 12-year turbulent relationship with Boeing's Dreamliner

All Nippon Airways, the airline that more than any other has been wedded to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, renewed its vows on Friday.

By finalizing an order for three 787-10s, the largest of the three 787 models, All Nippon cemented its commitment to the Dreamliner, and will become the first Asian airline to operate all three models of the plane. United Airlines and British Airways also have ordered all three models.

All Nippon operates 34 Dreamliners, the largest fleet of 787s in the world, and so far has signed firm orders for a total of 83 of the planes.

The relationship between All Nippon Airways and Boeing has been tested and strained during the long and often-painful development of the 787, going back long before the first strand of carbon fiber was applied.

Back in 2003, when the aircraft was still called the 7E7, All Nippon top executives came close to upending Boeing’s plans to build the aircraft from carbon composites when they balked at becoming the launch customer.

Back in 2006, All Nippon leaders expressed doubt that the carbon composite hull fuselage could stand up to the rigors of airport usage. Boeing sales people finally solved this issue by bringing an 18-square-foot section of the fuselage to All Nippon headquarters in Tokyo, where ANA executives fruitlessly tried to destroy it with sledge hammers and steel punches.

But the problems hardly stopped then, because All Nippon had to wait three years more than it expected to receive its first 787s, a delay that Boeing only somewhat mollified by selling them some less-desirable 767s at bargain prices.

Boeing delivered the very first 787 to ANA on Sept. 26, 2011 to great fanfare, but the aircraft was overweight, and the outside ceremony was deluged by rain.

In a remarkably candid and public statement, ANA president and CEO Shinichiro Ito politely told the press his displeasure.

“Weight is much heavier than later-coming delivery,” he said. “For those aircraft, we will take the option to use those aircraft for domestic short-haul operations.”

The problems didn’t stop, and ANA by February 2013, had to ground its entire fleet of Dreamliners– which, by then, was the largest in the world – for three months as Boeing worked through its problems with overheating lithium ion batteries.

But unlike competitor Japan Airlines, which bolted from the Boeing fold and ordered 31 Airbus A350s in October 2013, ANA hasn’t left Boeing’s side.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner, who has shown understanding of Japanese culture and who went to Tokyo to publicly apologize for the battery problems, expressed appreciation for the new order.

"We truly appreciate ANA’s confidence in the 787,” Conner said in a statement. “And this order further demonstrates our decades-long partnership with ANA.”

(Steve Wilhelm - The Puget Sound Business Journal)

Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson to get 787-8 "Dreamliner"

Boeing 787-83Q ZA002 (40691/2) N787EX smokes the mains as she arrives back at Seattle-Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) on May 6, 2010.
(Photo by Michael Carter)  

Boeing has found a home for the second of three 787 Dreamliners that are too heavy and out-of-norm to sell: The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson.

The 787-8 aircraft, No. ZA002, (pictured above) which means second in production, flew into Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Thursday.

The company gave its third Dreamliner to the Museum of Flight in Seattle in November.

The plane that went to the Pima museum is completely operable, and was in fact part of the flight test fleet that Boeing used to certify the 787 for the FAA.

But as one of the very first aircraft in production, it bore the brunt of the changes and additions that Boeing had to do to the first aircraft because of design issues and problems with early parts like fasteners.

“In some cases, test airplanes have been used commercially after testing is complete,” said Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman. “Boeing announced in August 2009 that the first three 787s used in the 787-8 flight test program (known as ZA001, ZA002 and ZA003) had no commercial value and their costs would be recorded as research and development expense.”

With a list price of $218 million, this is just one piece of the billions of dollars in unexpected expenses Boeing incurred as it worked to get 787 production under control.

Seattle-area aerospace analyst Michel Merluzeau, of Frost and Sullivan, was philosophic, calling ZA002 a “prototype aircraft.”

‘“That’s the nature of flight testing,” he said. “You find things, and that’s the way it goes.”

The Dreamliner is painted in All Nippon Airways colors, which Boeing Vice President of Sales Randy Tinseth, in a 2009 blog post, called a “tribute” to the model’s Japanese launch customer.

ZA002, one of six aircraft in the test program, was used for ground testing, as well as tests in flight.

The Pima Air & Space Museum has a collection of more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft.

(Steve Wilhelm - The Puget Sound Business Journal)

Boeing stores two American Airlines 787's at Victorville due to seat shortage

Boeing Co. is temporarily storing two new 787 Dreamliner jets in California’s Mojave Desert, usually a resting place for decrepit aircraft, as it works through a seat shortage that has caused production hiccups since late 2014.

The measure is intended to help Chicago-based Boeing speed Dreamliner deliveries to American Airlines and resolve snarls caused by late-arriving premium seats from France’s Zodiac Aerospace. Seat makers are struggling to keep pace with surging airline demand for luxury berths as costly as Ferraris.

For Boeing and Airbus Group, on-time lie-flat seats are crucial because they can require extensive rewiring, ductwork changes and reinforced cabin floors. When deliveries run late, plane-makers may be forced to remove fittings such as galleys and lavatories so the berths can be installed, said Gary Weissel, managing officer with Tronos Aviation Consulting Inc.

“There is frustration,” Weissel said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. As plane-makers boost output to work through a record order backlog and airlines refurbish older jets, “you have this huge volume of seats required.”

Boeing’s parked 787s were to have been the third and fourth for American Airlines Group Inc., said Matt Miller, a spokesman for the carrier. Since the jets are still awaiting the Zodiac seats, they will need the same laborious retrofits that delayed the handover of American’s first two 787s to early 2015 from late last year.

“It’s slow, it’s a real problem,” American Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said last week in Washington after a U.S. Chamber of Commerce speech. “We can all complain about seat manufacturers, but we can’t fly the airplanes without proper seats. It is really disappointing.”

One of the jets is stored in arid Victorville, California, and “the other will be down there shortly,” Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Airlines and lessors often use storage yards in Arizona and California’s Mojave Desert to park older planes in reserve or for parts, because the low humidity lessens corrosion.

Boeing also sent 787s to Victorville temporarily for flight tests and repairs while resolving production setbacks that contributed to a three-year delay in the plane’s 2011 commercial debut, said Uresh Sheth, who tracks Dreamliner output on his AllThings787 blog. The jets being stored for American left the factory on Nov. 24 and Dec. 23, Sheth said Friday in an e-mail.

To lessen the disruption for Fort Worth, Texas-based American, Boeing decided to set aside the mostly completed jets for now and focus on 787s later in the production schedule that could be delivered without major rework, Miller said.

Boeing is flight-testing a 787 for American that Miller expects to be delivered within weeks, and loading premium berths onto another Dreamliner for the carrier as the jet is assembled in the plane-maker’s wide-body factory in Everett, Washington.

The two stored jets will eventually be flown back to the Seattle-area plant when ample seats arrive, Miller said. He said American doesn’t expect the juggled deliveries to affect the 787’s planned early June debut on overseas routes. American, the world’s largest airline, is taking 42 Dreamliners for its wide-body fleet.

First-class cabin seats typically cost $150,000 to $300,000, Weissel said, for their blend of custom cabinets, in-flight entertainment, massage motors and cushioning to protect passengers in a crash. “These are incredibly complicated machines,” he said.

The lingering seat shortages are creating headaches for Boeing and Airbus as the plane-makers work to increase production of the 787 and Airbus’s A350. Those jetliners, the first to incorporate carbon composites in their hulls, are popular with carriers for their fuel-savings and with passengers for higher cabin humidity that lessens the effects of jet lag.

The Dreamliner has been the most affected by delays at Plaisir, France-based Zodiac as seat orders overwhelmed the company’s engineering resources, CEO Olivier Zarrouati said during a March 19 earnings call.

“The best sell is obviously and most significantly impacted -- the 787, for instance,” Zarrouati said. “And basically delays follow a similar pattern to our sales pattern.”

Boeing has sent about 150 employees to Zodiac’s plants to help resolve seat manufacturing and delivery issues, said Howard Rubel, a New York-based analyst with Jefferies LLC. He described the setbacks as “temporary” and expects fixes to be completed by May.
“We have a plan with Zodiac and we’re currently working together on improving that,” Pat Shanahan, Boeing’s senior vice president for airplane programs, said by e-mail. “Between the Boeing personnel on site and Zodiac’s own team, progress is being made.”

(Julie Johnsson - Bloomberg)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Airlines’ net profit up nearly 21% in 2014

Spring Airlines Airbus A320-214 (c/n 4331) B-6705 taxies at Hong Kong International (Chek Lap Kok) (HKG/VHHH) on February 27, 2015.
(Photo by Robbie Shaw)

Spring Airlines reported a net profit of CNY884.2 million ($144 million) in 2014, up 20.8% over a net income of CNY732.2 million in 2013.

Full-year operating revenue jumped 11.6% to CNY7.32 billion while operating expenses rose 9.3% to CNY6.24 billion.

The Shanghai-based low-cost carrier credited lower fuel prices and domestic market growth as the main reason for the improved performance.

Passenger boarding's increased 8.5% to 11.5 million with an average load factor of 93%.

Spring, which has an all-Airbus A320 fleet, took delivery of seven of the type last year, expanding its fleet to 46.

Looking forward, Spring plans to introduce 14 more A320s and expand its fleet to 60 at the end of 2015 and to 100 by 2018.The carrier is targeting 3.6 million passengers in 2015.

Spring predicts China’s economic growth will continue, which will enable it to continually expand.  It plans to add Shenzhen as another hub in the South China to further explore the international market in Japan, Korea and other northeast Asian countries this year.

However, carrier warns that “challenges still remain, which include possible slowdown of domestic economic growth, fluctuation of fuel price, pilots shortage, and increasingly fierce competition from other domestic peers and high-speed rail.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Delta, Virgin Atlantic expand transatlantic partnership

Delta Airlines 747-451 (23719/696) N661US arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 5, 2009 following a transpacific flight from Japan.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways have expanded their transatlantic partnership, with the introduction of six new daily services.

From this weekend, the two airlines begin their summer schedule, offering up to 39 return transatlantic flights a day between the UK and 15 destinations across North America. The joint schedule includes 10 daily flights between London Heathrow and New York, now with eight daily departures to New York-JFK and two departures to Newark.

Virgin Atlantic is launching a second daily service between Heathrow and Los Angeles (LAX). Combined with the Delta service launched in October 2014, the partnership will offer 3X-daily flights from London to LAX and expects to carry close to 400,000 annual passengers on the route.

Also launching this weekend is a seasonal second daily Virgin Atlantic service between Heathrow and Atlanta, and a second service between Heathrow and San Francisco that will operate 5X-weekly over the summer.

Further joint venture services be introduced later in the summer include a new daily Delta service between London Heathrow and Philadelphia starting April 27; a new daily Delta service between Manchester and New York-JFK from May 22; and a new daily Virgin Atlantic service between Heathrow and Detroit starting June 1.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Possible slowdown in air cargo as Europe, Asian economies falter

Air freight volumes worldwide were up 3% year-over-year (YOY) in January, as approximately 5.5 million metric tonnes of cargo were shipped by air in January—a YOY increase of approximately 160,000 metric tonnes from January 2014, according to Airports Council International (ACI).

“Despite the existing perseverance in international trade volumes, particularly for a portion of 2014, weakness in [the] major economies [of Russia, Europe, Japan and China] may translate into bad news for the air freight market in the coming months, particularly at the major freight hubs,” ACI economics director Rafael Echevarne said. “We should continue to monitor the on-going growth in air freight with cautious optimism.”

Air freight shipping in domestic markets worldwide was up 1.1% YOY in January, to approximately 1.7 million metric tonnes shipped; international air freight tonnage in January increased 3.9% YOY, to approximately 3.8 million metric tonnes shipped. 

Overall, Middle East airports had the largest January increase in air freight volume, rising 9.6% YOY, an increase of approximately 32,000 metric tonnes (all international air freight) over January 2014. Air freight in Africa also picked up in January, rising 6.8% YOY, an increase of approximately 2,400 metric tonnes over January 2014.

The Asia-Pacific region had a 3.7% YOY increase, up approximately 77,000 metric tonnes YOY. Air freight volumes in North America grew 3.1% YOY, up approximately 50,000 metric tonnes YOY. European air freight volumes slipped 0.5% YOY in January, down approximately 5,800 metric tonnes YOY.

Global air passenger traffic grew 4.5% YOY in January, as ACI’s member-airports calculated approximately 345 million departing and arriving passengers in January—an increase of approximately 15 million passengers over January 2014.

Middle East airports continued to exhibit the greatest statistical passenger growth of all world regions. In January, passenger numbers were up 11% YOY as approximately 1.4 million more passengers YOY (all international flights) used the region’s airports.

Latin America-Caribbean region airports also saw strong growth in January, with overall passenger traffic rising 7.1% YOY, or approximately 2 million more passengers YOY. Asia Pacific region passenger traffic grew 4.4% YOY (approximately 4.6 million passengers YOY); European passenger traffic was up 4.8% YOY (approximately 4 million passengers YOY); North American passenger traffic increased 2.6% YOY (approximately 2.4 million passengers YOY).

ACI’s Echevarne noted “heterogeneity” of growth in key emerging aviation markets. “While there is slowed growth in passenger traffic in China and Russia, India is now catching up to these two countries,” Echevarne said. “In January alone Indian traffic grew by over 18% … the combination of a move toward a more liberalized market for aviation coupled with stronger economic fundamentals has helped to awaken the Bengal tiger.”ACI’s 1,850 member-airports account for approximately 60% of the world’s total air passenger traffic and 70% of the world’s total air freight traffic.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Allegiant seeks to explain business model to customers

Allegiant Air MD-82 (49423/1283) N891GA rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on March 11, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

As it expands to larger cities, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, Allegiant Air is trying to improve how it communicates its business model to customers to make it more “transparent.”
Las Vegas-based Allegiant’s model has long been known by its core customers in tiny American cities, such as Grand Forks, North Dakota and Owensboro, Kentucky. But they have continued to book the airline partly because it has been the most convenient and reasonably priced option in markets with limited air service. In larger cities, however, customers typically have more options. 
“We have been very open that we want to do a better job of making sure that our customers know what they are buying before they buy it,” Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said. “We want them to know what to expect before they get to the airport.”
The strategy is similar to what Spirit Airlines is trying to accomplish with its “bare fares” advertising campaign. Both Spirit and Allegiant are seeking to realign customer expectations so passengers aren’t surprised at the no-frills product. To a lesser extent, Frontier Airlines is also trying to communicate its new model, though the carrier has had more trouble than its competitors, in part because it was known for its first 20 years as a customer-centric airline. 
One advantage Allegiant has over other ultra-low-cost carriers is that it rarely flies head-to-head against full-service network carriers. Frontier and Spirit often operate between two thick markets, trying to skim some low-yield traffic, so they must spend more time persuading customers why they might prefer a la carte pricing. But often, even from larger cities, Allegiant is the only carrier flying its routes, giving it a major advantage.
“You run the risk of a hub-and-spoke carrier in those markets underpricing you, but it will be via a hub connection,” aviation consultant George Hamlin said. “There is a perception of value for a nonstop product. Plus, they have a cost advantage to begin with.”
Allegiant would lose that edge if it expands into more major hub airports, such as Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare or New York LaGuardia. But despite the airline’s recent growth—it will pick up 10 used Airbus 320-family aircraft this year—Wheeler said adding those markets is not in the immediate plans. 
“They are not things we are looking at seriously right now,” she said. “But I’m not saying it is off the table. We are a ‘never, say never’ group around here.” 
(Brian Sumers - ATWOnline News)

Breaking News - Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines announces plans to order 30 Boeing 787-9 "Dreamliners"

Hainan Airlines Co Ltd, China's fourth-largest airline in fleet size, said on Wednesday it plans to order 30 Boeing Co 787-9 airplanes, valued at $7.7 billion at list prices.

The order would boost Boeing's 787 program backlog to 855 planes, and represents the biggest order this year for the jet.

The 787 is Boeing's most high-tech plane, with a carbon-composite fuselage and improved fuel efficiency. The 787-9 is a stretched version introduced last year that seats 280 passengers and has a range of 8,300 nautical miles.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Alwyn Scott  - Reuters)

Qatar Airways Cargo announces new LAX service

Qatar Airways Cargo will launch a freighter service to Los Angeles, US, from April 4.

The twice-weekly Boeing 777 freighter service will become QAC’s fourth US destination alongside Houston, Chicago and Atlanta.

The new addition will provide 100 tonnes of cargo capacity per flight, leaving Doha on Wednesdays and Saturdays via Luxembourg and Mexico to Los Angeles International Airport.

The LAX freighter will add to the current US destinations served by QA, including New York, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas and Miami.

Los Angeles International Airport is a major cargo hub serving California, the world’s 16th largest economy.

Los Angeles ranks fifth in the US in terms of air cargo volumes processed. In 2014, LAX handled over two million tonnes of air cargo worth more than $91.6bn.

QA uplifted over 49,000 tonnes of airfreight from the US market in 2014 and it will continue to be a key growth market for QAC, with the market predicted to add more than one million tonnes of freight before 2018.

Ulrich Ogiermann, QA Chief Officer Cargo, said: “We are proud to announce our fourth freighter destination in the US, further strengthening QAC’s worldwide airfreight network.

“Los Angeles is a significant global cargo hub, which is reflected by the increasing airfreight volumes at Los Angeles Airport. With the new destination, we are able to offer our customers capacity and five-star service into and out of this key cargo destination in the US.”

QAC’s freighter to LAX will extend trading opportunities between Southern California and the Middle East.

Gina Marie Lindsey, Executive Director, Los Angeles World Airports, said: “The new service will provide Southern California businesses with more choices to ship between the West Coast, the Gulf/Middle East and beyond. 

(The Peninsula - Qatar)

Airbus A380, the Big Star at Dubai Airport, Faces a Pivotal Year

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841 (c/n 45) 9V-SKJ climbs from Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 11, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

A new report said the Airbus A380, the airplane that landed in the middle of the controversy involving the Gulf airlines, is entering a pivotal year.
That's because the airplane's principal buyer, Emirates President Tim Clark, is calling for an updated, more efficient, re-engined version, an A380neo. Clark wants seat costs to decline by 10%."Sales continue to be slow for the A380 and the backlog is shrinking." wrote aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton in the report.

"(But) with all the talk of an A380neo, Airbus faces a conundrum. With sales already dried up, discussion of the neo puts potential customers on the sidelines, waiting for a decision." The report, titled "To neo or not to neo, that is the question for Airbus and the A380," appeared in a recent edition of Hamilton's weekly publication Leeham News and Comment. 

It came at a time when the Gulf airlines are embroiled in controversy after a report compiled for American, Delta and United laid out how the governments of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest emirates, have provided about $39 billion in subsidies to the airlines -- Qatar Airways, the flag carrier of Qatar; and Etihad Airways and Emirates, flag carriers of the UAE.  Meanwhile, the operators of Dubai International said Monday that in 2014, the airport had more A380 operations than anyplace else. Dubai International had 15,098 A380 flights to 39 destinations around the world during 2014, up from 10,608 flights to 26 destinations in 2013, according to the airport's 2014 yearbook, which was published Monday.
"A380 flights were operated by both Emirates Airlines, the world's biggest operator of the double-decker aircraft, and Qantas," the report said.
Emirates and Qantas have a code-share agreement and also share revenue. Dubai International has the world's first A380 facility constructed specifically for the aircraft.  The next busiest A380 airport was London Heathrow with 5,434 A380 flights to 11 cities, followed by Singapore's Changi airport with 5,398 A380 flights to 18 destinations, the airport said. The A380, the world's largest commercial aircraft, typically provides seating for about 500 passengers.

It has long been the subject of broad disagreement over whether Airbus should ever have attempted such a project. Since it began flying in 2007, Airbus has delivered just 153 aircraft, including 58 to Emirates, which has ordered 140 in total.
During a media conference last week, Clark was asked about frequent charges that Emirates sticks A380s on routes where they provide more capacity than markets can absorb, such as Dubai-Dallas and Milan-JFK, which will get an Emirates A380 in June.
"The 380s are probably the most successful aircraft in our fleet," Clark said. "They are hugely profitable, full all of the time," he said, noting that they typically fly with load factors in the high 80s (percent) and low 90s, on routes where "demand is there for seat capacity."
Milan-JFK is a particularly controversial route. It is discussed in detail in the big three U.S. airlines' 55-page report. Emirates launched service in October 2013, when the route already had four daily non-stop flights by Alitalia, American, Delta and United (to Newark). Fares fell. Bookings rose.
"The excess capacity on the route has driven U.S. carriers' margins to a level that is well below the industry cost of capital," the report said. "(This) will eventually force one or more U.S. carrier to exit the route."  Airbus is expected to decide this year whether to offer an A380neo. "The business case is not completed on the neo," John Leahy, chief operating officer-customers for Airbus, told Hamilton. "I don't want to get into details. One of the things we'd be looking at would be in excess of 10% fuel burn reduction."

For the moment, Airbus faces the same problem both it and Boeing face when customers begin to anticipate a newer, more efficient version of an existing aircraft.  Airbus saw "a stall in orders for the A320 while waiting for a neo decision (and) Boeing saw a similar slow-down in 737 sales until a decision came," Hamilton said. Once the decisions were made, sales resumed, he said, but "as for the wide-body A330, sales of what's now called the A330ceo haven't recovered and Airbus has announced it will lower production rates on the A330 to six a month in 2016."

As for Boeing, it "is officially mum about the prospect of an A380neo, other than its long-time skepticism over the viability of the program," Hamilton wrote.

"Privately, some Boeing officials can hardly withhold their glee at the prospect of Airbus proceeding with the neo," he said. "Such an effort will tie up money and resources, diverting both from other projects, they believe."

(Ted Reed - The Street)

Martinair Cargo fleet revamp affects 330 jobs

Air France-KLM freight airline Martinair Cargo has confirmed plans to drastically scale back its fleet to four Boeing 747 freighters by June 2016, affecting 330 jobs.

Last year Air France-KLM performed a review of its loss-making cargo operations, ending in a decision to phase out five Martinair MD-11 freighters as it strives to hit cargo breakeven by 2017. In summer 2014, Martinair operated 14 aircraft.

“Both KLM and Martinair Cargo have discussed the consequences of this decision with the works councils. The decision to scale back the full-freighter fleet has been taken to restore the division’s financial health. The decision will affect more than 330 employees,” KLM said in a statement.

The fleet changes will impact around 170 ground staff in the Netherlands, 50 abroad and 110 cockpit crew members. However, under the original plan, KLM warned that up to 400 staff could have been affected.

“The company will do its utmost to reassign ground staff within the KLM Group using existing instruments, the scope of which may be extended to include voluntary redundancy. This will take place in close consultation with the unions and will only apply to employees working in areas where a staff surplus arises,” KLM said.

KLM added that a number of pilots have opted to transfer to leisure carrier Transavia, although it is unable to offer pilots the same salaries they were receiving at Martinair.

“Negotiations between Martinair Cargo and the unions are ongoing and are based on the existing collective labor agreement (CLA). However, the possibility of compulsory redundancies cannot be excluded,” it said.

From 2016, Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo will operate two Boeing 777Fs from Paris Charles De Gaulle and four Boeing 747-400s from Amsterdam Schiphol, supported by KLM’s 15 Boeing 747 Combis.

“Cargo remains a core business for the Air France-KLM Group. It generates income of €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) per year and contributes around €1 billion a year to the passenger network. It goes without saying that pulling out of the cargo business is out of the question,” KLM said.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

US airlines endorse ATC privatization

American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker told Congress that US airlines favor moving US air traffic control (ATC) to “a commercialized, non-profit type governance structure.”

During testimony Tuesday at a House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on ATC reform, Parker, speaking on behalf of Airlines for America (A4A), said FAA is structurally ill-suited to operating ATC and suggested ATC management should be moved out from under the agency’s umbrella. ATC is “a commercial function that is run through a political organization and that creates all sorts of problems,” Parker told lawmakers. “If we ran our airlines the way ATC is run, we wouldn’t make decisions to invest in our future.”

Parker’s endorsement of an independent, partially privatized entity to run ATC appeared to receive a receptive audience among lawmakers and other ATC stakeholders, and also was backed by former FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) COO David Grizzle.

“Based on my experience and the failed half-measures of the past, I believe that our only solution is one that entrusts politically unencumbered air traffic governance and stewardship to individuals who understand and value the needs of the users, employees and passengers of the system and who have a continuing interest in and appreciation for this critical operation,” Grizzle told lawmakers. He called for “a not-for-profit [ATC] entity that has no stockholders, but is controlled by its board of directors, independent of the federal government except for safety oversight and appeal of rates and charges.”

While saying any FAA structural changes would need to be “carefully examined,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NACTA) union president Paul Rinaldi did not outright object to a potential partial privatization of ATC, noting that the “lack of a predictable, stable funding stream” for ATC—inherent in ATC being managed by an agency that is funded as part of the annual Congressional appropriations process—needed to be addressed in FAA reauthorization legislation set to be taken up by Congress later this year.

Pointing to NAV Canada—the private, non-profit entity that runs Canadian ATC—Rinaldi said, “The Canadian structure is very intriguing. I’m not ashamed to say I’m envious [of the more modern equipment Canadian controllers have]. There are a lot of things in Canada I find intriguing, but my number one concern is, is [the Canadian model] scalable” to the larger US National Airspace System (NAS)?

Parker emphasized that safety oversight would remain an FAA function. “Let us be clear that under any and all scenarios, first and foremost, the FAA must retain the role as a safety regulator,” he said.
“Indeed, while we believe the FAA is already doing a commendable job in this capacity, a structure that allows them to focus solely on regulation and oversight has the potential to make the agency even more effective and efficient.”

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) noted FAA’s sluggish implementation of the satellite-based NextGen ATC system and said “the only answer” to fixing air traffic management in the US “is transformational reform that will ensure that our ATC service provider operates like a business, with no degradation in safety levels.”

Shuster added, “In the past 20 years, 50 countries have successfully separated their ATC service from the aviation safety regulator. They’ve taken different approaches, but with similar results: ATC systems have been modernized, safety levels have been either maintained or improved, service quality has been improved in most cases, and costs have been generally reduced … Given the size and complexity of our [NAS], we need to look at lessons learned and the best attributes from other countries and apply them here.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Labor board approves election date for Boeing South Carolina workers

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has approved an April 22 election date for the more than 3,000 workers at Boeing’s 787 production facility in South Carolina to vote on unionization, according to a statement by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

“This is an important step on the road to a collective bargaining agreement for workers at Boeing South Carolina [BSC],” IAM lead organizer Mike Evans said. “This is a chance for Boeing workers and their families to substantially improve their careers and communities. The law provides for a free and fair election without intimidation or harassment and we intend to ensure it is conducted accordingly.”

Boeing builds 787-8s and 787-9s, the first two variants of the Dreamliner that are in service, at both its facilities in Everett, Washington and South Carolina and will continue to do so. Final assembly of the first 787-10, which will be 18 ft. (5.5 m) longer than the 787-9, is scheduled for 2017 exclusively in North Charleston.

Boeing had said in an earlier statement that it “firmly believes that a union is not in the best interest of Boeing South Carolina teammates and their families, their communities, and the state of South Carolina, especially after years of the IAM insulting the abilities of Boeing South Carolina teammates and fighting against BSC’s success.”

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Love Is in the Air for Couple on Alaska Airlines Flight

Brandy Hollenbeck was serving coffee at 34,000 feet when her boyfriend began speaking.

The Alaska Airlines flight attendant was working on a flight from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska -- and she had no idea what her boyfriend Eric Greener had planned.

According to the airline, Greener hid in the flight deck jump seat, before making his mid-air engagement announcement. The flight’s other attendants were in on the secret. Greener began by discussing his mother’s conversation about a “wonderful” flight attendant. Greener said he later saw Hollenbeck eating a cheeseburger.

“And all I could think, folks, was, 'My gosh -- a flight attendant that’s got the courage to eat a cheeseburger in the terminal is a woman to know,'” he said over the plane’s public address system, as passengers watched and listened.

Hollenbeck eventually figured out what was happening, and Greener emerged. The couple kissed, she said yes, and he slipped a ring on her finger -- a romantic, happy moment at 34,000 feet.

(Dan Good - ABC News)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD)

I made an unplanned visit to San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD) what used to be known as Norton Air Force Base yesterday, March 21 2015.
A nice surprise for me was an EVA Air Cargo MD-11F which I didn't know was there.
I also saw a KLM MD-11 but could not get a registration so I do not know her identity but it could be PH-KCC (48557/569) "Marie Curie" which was spotted there on June 23, 2014. 
There are also two sister EVA Air 747-45EM's parked side by side which was also a nice surprise.
Check out the below photos for more information and enjoy!

EVA Air Cargo MD-11F (48789/633) B-16112 ex N90178 was delivered to the carrier on July 29, 1999.
EVA Air Boeing 747-45EM Combi (28093/1077) B-16409 (foreground) was delivered on May 1, 1996 as N409EV and Boeing 747-45EM Combi (28092/1076) B-16408 (behind) was delivered on April 17, 1996 as N408EV. Both were recently removed from service and now rest together in retirement awaiting their final fate.
Boeing 737-2H4/ADV (23054/989) N737AJ owned by Ajeton Inc. sadly sits in the SoCal sun minus engines and her future unknown. She was originally delivered to Southwest Airlines as N95SW on May 25, 1983 and served her entire career with the carrier until being retired on January 17, 2005 the last -200 to be retired from the Southwest fleet.
Having been and still currently an Operations Agent with Southwest Airlines during the past twenty years, I worked this aircraft numerous times at LAX and flew on her as well several times so this aircraft has a special place in my heart and it was truly awesome to come across her during my visit to SBD.
Boeing 737-2W3/ADV (22628/820) VP-CBA was delivered to NOGA Import a private jet service on December 15, 1981 as N180RN were it operated until being re-possessed in March 1985.
The aircraft then found its way to the United Arab Emirates and served as a government aircraft registered as A6-ESH and A6-ESJ during its time in the Emirate.
On April 13, 2000 Sky Aviation bought the aircraft and re-registered it as VP-CSA. Today the aircraft is operated by a very private owner, a very lucky owner I must say.
Boeing 727-223/ADV (21374/1280) was delivered to American Airlines on August 2, 1977 as N869AA and served with the carrier until being retired in March 2002 and stored at Mojave Airport (MHV/KMHV) in the California desert.
It was bought by KCP Leasing & Services LLC on November 20, 2002 and moved to its current location here at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD). On October 15, 2003 it was bought by Phoenix Fuel Corporation and as you can see the aircraft remains at SBD with an unknown future.
Sure wish I had the money to buy and make her airworthy again it would be a total blast to own a 727-200!
Boeing 727-227/ADV (20613/929) N415BN (left) still wears her Sky One livery and does not look into bad of shape. She was delivered to Braniff Airways on March 14, 1973 as N415BN. On February 20, 1981, American Airlines bought the aircraft and re-registered it to N720AA. It served with American Airlines until its retirement in May 2002 and stored at Mojave Airport (MHV/KMHV).
She too was bought KCP Leasing & Services LLC and moved to San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD) in February 2003. On August 10, 2004 the aircraft was bought by Ermes Holdings LLC and operated in the lovely Sky One livery in 2005. She had been parked at Victorville (VCV) following he collapse of Sky One but at some point made her way back to SBD were she sits today.
Boeing 727-227/ADV (20734/965) N727AA (right) was originally delivered to Braniff Airways as N421BN on August 21, 1973. On January 22, 1981 American Airlines bought the aircraft with whom it served until its retirement in March 2002 and stored at Mojave Airport (MHV/KMHV). Bought by KCP Leasing & Services LLC, the aircraft was moved to San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD) were she remains today.
A group shot of the south ramp, were you can see the above mentioned 737-200's along with Boeing 727-21 (19260/412) VP-BAP a privately owned aircraft. It was delivered to Pan American World Airways as N358PA "Clipper David Crockett" on May 21, 1967 with whom she served until being sold to International Executive Aircraft on September 9, 1981 and re-registered N727SG.
The aircraft has been a corporate aircraft ever since, operating for several different corporations over the years, Beneficial Finance Leasing Company, Funair Corporation as N727LA. The aircraft was WFU and stored in Tel Aviv, Israel in February 2002. Malibu Consulting Corporation bought the aircraft on August 9, 2004 and re-registered it to N727GP.
Another very private owner, it appears that it is kept in immaculate condition and she soldiers on today 48 years later, you won't see any Airbuses doing that! 
Behind the 727-21 is MD-83 (49789/1642) N789BV operated Dugan Kinetics NV LLC and sporting EP-80 titles. The DAC aircraft was delivered from Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) to BWIA International as 9Y-THX "Sunjet Anguilla" later BWIA West Indies Airways on October 20, 1989. It served with the carrier until WFU and stored at Lake City, Florida in March 2004. On June 1, 2004 she was bought by Airplanes IAL received her current registration.
Finally in the rear is Boeing 747SP-27 (21929/447) N747A operated by Fry's Electronics Inc. Originally delivered to Braniff Airways as N606BN on May 30, 1980, the aircraft has also operated with Pan American World Airways as N529PA "Clipper America," United Airlines as N150UA and Oman Royal Flight As A40-SP.
Seeing a 747SP these days is a very rare sight but a very welcome one.
Hope you enjoyed the photos and the information. 

Japan Airlines brings 787-8 to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX)

Japan Airlines commenced daily 787-8 service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) and Osaka-Kansai International (KIX/RJBB) on March 20, 2015 making them the fourth operator of the type to serve Los Angeles behind United Airlines, LAN, and Norwegian Air Shuttle.  
Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 (34839/84) JA829J is captured on short final to Rwy 24R on March 22, 2015.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Schedule through September  

March 20, 2015 - March 28

Flight NumberDays of OperationAircraftDep. TimeArr. Time
JL060Daily787Osaka(Kansai) 15:20Los Angeles 09:20
JL069Daily787Los Angeles 11:20Osaka(Kansai) 15:50+1
March 29, 2015 - June 30, October 1, 2015 - October 24(planning)

Flight NumberDays of OperationAircraftDep. TimeArr. Time
JL060Daily787Osaka(Kansai) 17:30Los Angeles 11:50
JL069Daily787Los Angeles 13:50Osaka(Kansai) 18:20+1
July 1, 2015 - September 30(planning)

Flight NumberDays of OperationAircraftDep. TimeArr. Time
JL060Daily787Osaka(Kansai) 17:30Los Angeles 12:20
JL069Daily787Los Angeles 14:10Osaka(Kansai) 18:20+1

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-346(ER) JA734J

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-346(ER) (32433/527) JA734J on finals to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 22, 2015 sporting special "SKY ECO - Harmony with Nature / United Nations Decade of BioDiversity" markings.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990 N453AS

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990 (36354/4747) N453AS arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 22, 2015 sporting revised "Go Russell" markings by changing the style and adding "Nonstop Dedication" on the portside (Captain side) of the aircraft and "Champions Never Rest" on the starboard (F/O) side of the aircraft.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Charter flights brace for change as scheduled service to Cuba nears

For years, Vivian Mannerud has had an unusual message for young employees interested in working for her Cuba travel company, Airline Brokers Co.
“I say go back to college. There is no future in this business,” said Mannerud, CEO of the Hialeah-based agency. “Don’t think of this as a career because this could end tomorrow.”

At the moment, Mannerud’s business — arranging trips to Cuba for VIP travelers and booking traditional passengers on flights with charter flight operators — is bustling since President Barack Obama announced a plan to normalize diplomatic relations and ease travel restrictions in December.
Tourism is still prohibited; Americans born outside Cuba who want to travel there individually are required to declare that they fit into one of 12 approved categories, such as scholarly research or people-to-people programs. Still, agencies that organize legal trips say demand has skyrocketed since January, when rules changed to allow travelers to visit on a general rather than specific license.

That boom may be short-lived for the eight companies, most Miami-based, that until now have been the only U.S. agents for booking flights to the island. In the not-too-distant future, the airways likely will include competition from carriers like American and JetBlue. In preparation, some traditional suppliers are seeking to beef up other parts of their business, while others are looking at potential partnerships with major airlines or exploring destinations beyond Cuba.

No matter what, most experts agree the companies that have made Cuba travel their bread and butter will have to change course.

“They’ll disappear. There will be no need for charters,” predicted attorney Peter Quinter, chair of the customs and international trade law group at GrayRobinson in Miami. “It’ll be a while before that happens.”

Quinter said his best guess is that a final agreement could be reached by the end of 2015 with service starting the following year.

Before that scenario becomes reality, officials with the U.S. and Cuba must hammer out a bilateral agreement that will determine the amount of air service that both sides are prepared to allow.
Experts anticipate scheduled service would be eased in.

“You wouldn’t suddenly get a situation where the floodgates would open and any airline could fly from the U.S. to Cuba and vice versa,” said John Grant, executive vice president for data and market intelligence at OAG, a provider of data and analysis to the aviation industry. “I think it would be a controlled expansion of services between the two markets.”

He said that other government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security would also need to make sure international airports in Cuba conformed to the appropriate standards, as would be required for any new destination.

Since Cuba already has service from Canada, Europe and other Caribbean destinations, Grant said he believes all those standards are likely met.

“As to where the Cuba-U.S. air service agreement is at this moment in time, I have no idea because I can’t get into the White House,” Grant said.

The work has started, but it’s far from over. A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson said the two countries held talks on civil aviation in Washington, D.C. on March 2 and 3 to “explore opportunities to expand our civil aviation relationship as the two countries move toward normalizing diplomatic relations.”

“The government-to-government discussions covered economic, safety, and security issues related to civil aviation,” the spokesperson said. “The next steps are still to be determined.”

Grant said he expects that airlines are already weighing in to let governments know the amount of service they want to offer and what kind of agreement they hope to see. If a final agreement called for a limited number of flights, the two countries would have to decide which airlines would be allowed to fly.

Some aviation experts have questioned why governments and airlines would rush to establish scheduled service when Cuba’s infrastructure is struggling to keep up with demand. The island saw more than 3 million visitors in 2014, mostly Canadian tourists. But there are only about 63,000 rooms to accommodate visitors at hotels, motels, hostels and serviced apartments, according to statistics from Cuba.

“In terms of it being ready for prime time, Cuba is 10 years away at best,” said Michael Boyd, president of aviation consultancy Boyd Group International in Evergreen, Colo.

Boyd said several factors make Cuba a likely dud for scheduled air service: the lack of business travel to Cuba, rules that still prohibit tourism for Americans, constraints on Cubans traveling outside the country and a weak economy on the island.

“There is no potential for regularly scheduled air service,” Boyd predicted. “You’ll fly empty. The problem is there’s no demand.”

Still, major airlines, some of which already lease aircraft to charter companies for Cuba flights, have expressed their interest in operating their own service to the island.

United Airlines said in January that it plans to serve Cuba from hubs in Newark and Houston once it receives government approval.

American Airlines and its regional carrier Envoy will offer almost 1,200 charter flights to Cuba this year through partnerships with charter companies, a spokeswoman said. With its large Miami hub and enormous presence in the Caribbean and Latin America, the airline is monitoring changes to the Cuba travel policy “and will follow the laws and policies of the U.S. government, and the host governments of the countries we serve,” according to spokeswoman Martha Pantín.

“When legally allowed to do so, we will offer our customers scheduled service to Havana and other destinations in Cuba,” Pantín said.

JetBlue, which operated 173 flights to Havana and Santa Clara last year through charter partnerships, also hopes to operate scheduled service when possible.

“While we’re not selling our flights to the customer, we have customers coming back and forth to Cuba every week on JetBlue airplanes,” said Dave Clark, the airline’s vice president of network planning. “They’re getting the whole JetBlue experience.”

The airline has publicly said it is interested in serving Cuba once legally allowed.

“We believe there is demand for regular service, especially for JetBlue since we are the largest carrier to the Caribbean with focus cities in New York and Florida where there is a significant Cuban population,” spokesman Doug McGraw said in an email. “It continues to be difficult for U.S. airlines to gauge specific demand levels since there is no scheduled service today and government regulations limit travel, but we anticipate that demand would ramp up over time as flights become available.”

With the existing agreement dormant for more than 50 years, only non-scheduled flights — or charters — have been allowed to operate, and just a handful of companies have provided the service.

Many have operations in Miami, including Marazul Charters, ABC Charters, Xael Charters, Gulfstream Air Charter, Island Travel & Tours and Havana Air.

Mannerud’s company also operated charter flights until a couple years ago when her office was firebombed and Cuba suspended landing rights for the business in 2012.

Grant, of OAG, said the emergence of scheduled service will disrupt that corner of the travel industry.

“The customer will have a choice and the market price will be dictated by the price of the service,” he said. “The one thing the charter carriers will have at their advantage, for at least an initial period of time, is that they will have developed relationships with the traveling communities and the groups of travel organizations who are flying from the U.S. to Cuba. They’ll have a working relationship — but that’s not to say JetBlue and American can’t replicate that pretty quickly.”

Some charter companies are refocusing their efforts. Bill Hauf, president of Island Travel & Tours with offices in Tampa and Miami, said the company is now flying to Freeport in the Bahamas and plans to start offering flights to South America in mid-April.

“We are diversifying,” he said.

The operator will also keep working with niche markets such as university groups that want to travel to Cuba as well as specialty tours.

For now, Island Travel & Tours operates six roundtrip flights a week from Miami to Havana with plans to start service from Baltimore in June and another U.S. city later.

“We’re trying to do some different things and fly from different locations,” Hauf said.

Havana Air Co. added a flight from Key West to its schedule earlier this month; president and chief operating officer Mark Elias said the company has seen a “substantial” increase in passengers for services that include 14 flights a week on a Boeing 737-400 to three Cuban cities. The company uses a Havana Air-branded aircraft operated by Las Vegas-based Vision Airlines.

In an email, Elias said Havana Air will continue to use wide-body aircraft and is open to reaching interline agreements with major carriers in the future and possibly adding more destinations with the potential of those agreements.

“We will continue to run our operation as we do today, and as charter companies around the world do alongside of scheduled service,” Elias wrote.

Bob Guild, vice president of Marazul Charters, said he expects charter flights to still be needed once scheduled service begins.

“Even with regularly scheduled flights, which we’re looking forward to, there will still be a need for groups that want their own schedule,” he said. “And then it could supplement the regularly scheduled flights during high season.”

But the company, which has operations in Miami and New Jersey, is also making plans for all of its divisions, which include charter flights as well as sending people to Cuba as part of legally allowed programs.

“We have big discussions on how we’re going to rebrand ourselves within this new world of Cuba travel reflecting our strengths and history and contacts that we have so that we can provide the best programs as possible compared to anyone in the country for people-to-people groups, academic groups, professional research, events,” Guild said. “And that’s where we see our niche.”

As for Mannerud, she said her VIP customers will still want her to arrange for travel on private planes. She expects to continue to book day-to-day customers on other operators, and might eventually make it possible for people to book flights through her web page.

Mannerud said she has been approached by three major carriers to be their booking agent once scheduled service is allowed to make sure they are in compliance with current rules on who can travel. But she sees the real future potential not in the air but at sea: She recently applied for a ferry permit with an eye toward the cargo potential.

She said she expects other companies in her line of work to also be thinking about their next steps.
“I think that any charter company that is doing the day-to-day charters and is not prepared has done so out of ignorance, because everybody knew this day was coming,” she said. “Sooner or later, this day was coming.”

Taking the long route
Most U.S. travelers fly to Cuba on charter air carriers, but aviation industry data and analysis provider OAG breaks down the data on alternate routes:

18,021 passengers traveled between the U.S. and Cuba via points outside the country in 2014.

77 percent of those travelers started or ended their trip in Miami, followed by much smaller numbers in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and others.

To get to Cuba, 53 percent of passengers went through Nassau on Bahamasair, followed by 24 percent through Grand Cayman on Cayman Airways. Other entry points included Tocumen International Airport in Panama, Toronto Pearson International Airport and airports in Mexico City and Cancun.

(Source - OAG)
Airlift to Cuba
There were 7.2 million airline seats to and from Cuba in 2014 globally, a 6 percent increase compared to 2013.

Scheduled seat capacity grew by 14 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in 2012.

Last year, one in three seats was heading to or from Canada, a market that grew by 253 percent between 2010 and 2014.

(Source - OAG)

(Hannah Sampson - Miami Herald)