Thursday, September 27, 2018

jetBlue Airbus A320-232 (c/n 3811) N779JB "Bluericua"

Dedicated to Puerto Rico, jetBlues latest special liveried aircraft arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon (September 27) lighting up the sky with this absolutely gorgeous blue airplane,

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Southwest Is the Latest Airline to Add Free Messaging on Flights

Southwest Airlines is now offering free in-flight messaging to passengers, USA Today reported. So the next time you need to send a message to friends or family while you’re in the air, you no longer have to have that internal debate as to whether it's worth paying for the in-flight Wi-Fi.

Passengers can of course still purchase Wi-Fi on Southwest flights; the price is $8 for the duration of the flight for web browsing, email, and social media (but not video streaming).

At the moment, the free messaging is not available on all Southwest flights. If your flight does not offer the complimentary service, there is a charge of $2 per day, per device. Messaging on Southwest works with WhatsApp, Viber and iMessage, but not SMS messages. To see if free messaging is available on your flight, you can check Southwest's in-flight entertainment portal, according to CNBC.

Other airlines, like Delta, Alaska Airlines, and United also offer free messaging, though services vary across carriers. Free messaging is typically only available on flights with Wi-Fi, and may or may not include certain apps.

(Andrea Romano - Travel+Leisure) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

jetBlue Airbus A320-232 (c/n 2970) N648JB "Hasta La Vista"

This is the second aircraft to sport the "jetBlue Vacations" livery. She is captured taxiing to then rolling for takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) bound for Salt Lake City (SLC/KSLC) on September 25, 2018.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Singapore Airlines welcomes first A350-941(ULR) into its fleet

Launch customer Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A350-941(ULR) (c/n 222) 9V-SGA on September 22, the first of seven the carrier has on order. The aircraft will be placed into service Oct. 11 operating nonstop service between Singapore Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS) and New York Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR/KEWR), the world’s longest route, average flying time 18 hr. 45 min.

The aircraft has a range of approximately 9,700 nautical miles and is configured in a two-class layout, consisting of 67 business and 94 premium-economy seats.

Following Newark, Singapore Airlines will commence service on two additional nonstop transpacific routes to Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) and San Francisco (SFO/KSFO).

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said the A350-941(ULR) will “bring more convenience and comfort to our customers and will enable us to operate ultra-long-range flights in a commercially viable manner. It will help us boost our network competitiveness and further grow the Singapore hub.”

At present, only two carriers are operating the A350-941 on scheduled services into Los Angeles (Delta Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines) so we are very much looking forward to seeing this aircraft here in Los Angeles!

(Michal Carter - Editor, Aero Pacific Flightlines)

India’s SpiceJet takes Bombardier’s first 90-seat Q400

Indian LCC SpiceJet has taken delivery of the first 90-seat version of Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop, the manufacturer said Sept. 21.

The entry of the extra-capacity aircraft into commercial service is a milestone for Bombardier’s Q400 program and gives the Canadian manufacturer a needed boost since the July turnover of the CSeries jet program to Airbus. The 90-seat version of the Q400 was certified by Transport Canada in early August.

SpiceJet is the launch customer for the 90-seat Q400, having firmed an order in September 2017 for 25 of the type, with options for an additional 25.

SpiceJet’s order remains Bombardier’s largest single booking for Q400 aircraft to date, valued at $1.7 billion total. The 90-seat version offers 15% more passenger capacity, and a 15% reduction of seat costs, compared to the standard 78-seat configuration, according to Bombardier Commercial Aircraft SVP-commercial Colin Bole.

“The 90-seat option demonstrates the increased profitability potential this unique turboprop has to offer,” Bole said, an opinion seconded by SpiceJet chairman and MD Ajay Singh. “The additional seats and performance improvements will result in substantial reduction in unit costs,” Singh said. “[With it] we will be able to address our market needs in the regional space.”

Additional improvements for the Q400 include an in-progress 2,000-lb. payload increase, as well as an expansion of the Q400’s A and C check maintenance intervals from 600 to 800 hours and 6,000 to 8,000 hours, respectively.

Bombardier is looking to develop a trend among some carriers—like Ethiopian Airlines and Canada’s WestJet—to work the Q400 into mainline schedules, leveraging the aircraft’s 360-kt maximum cruise speed on routes that cannot support mainline narrowbodies, or on routes that require more frequency instead of higher-capacity aircraft.

“There’s been a change in the Q400 marketplace in the last few years,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft VP & head of marketing Patrick Baudis said in May. “Airlines were operating turboprops in isolation mode, which doesn’t take advantage of the Q400’s capabilities. Now, some are fully integrating the Q400 operations into a jet operation. That changes the dynamic.”

The expanded Q400 gained a second customer in recent weeks, as China’s CIB Leasing converted half of its standing order for 10 CRJ900 jets to five 90-seat Q400s in early September.

In its most recent Q series program status report, from June 30, Bombardier reported a backlog of 56 Q400s, for customers including Angola’s Air Connection Express, South Africa’s CemAir, Canadian aerial firefighting company Conair, Ethiopian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Kazakhstan regional carrier Qazaq Air and SpiceJet.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

KLM cuts two African routes to add Las Vegas service

Dutch SkyTeam carrier KLM will stop services to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia from summer 2019, freeing up capacity for 3X-weekly flights between Amsterdam and Las Vegas.

“In order to open Las Vegas as a new destination, changes had to be made to KLM’s network. KLM was forced to revise its portfolio of destinations sooner than expected partly because of Schiphol’s slot restrictions.

From March 29, 2019, KLM will stop flying to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia. While the Freetown/Monrovia route launched in 2017 would have previously been given more time to grow in terms of performance, KLM is now compelled to deploy its fleet and slots differently,” KLM said, announcing the cuts.

Air France will continue to operate a direct service to Freetown from Paris Charles de Gaulle.

In place of the two West African links, KLM is adding 2X-weekly Las Vegas from June 6, 2019, building to 3X-weekly on July 2, 2019.

“Las Vegas will become KLM’s 18th North Atlantic destination,” KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers said.

He added the new route will increase access to US west-coast connecting flights.

The route will be served by 294-seat Boeing 787-9s, with 30 seats in world business class, 45 in economy comfort and 219 in economy.

“The new KLM flights will extend Air France-KLM’s transatlantic network and strengthen its joint venture portfolio with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines,” KLM said.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Airbus Mobile delivers first biofuel-powered A321 to JetBlue


Airbus sent JetBlue Airways’ latest A321ceo off on its delivery flight Sept. 19 from Mobile, Alabama, with 15.5% renewable jet fuel onboard, continuing a trend the manufacturer started with its Toulouse delivery flights two years ago.

The JetBlue delivery and four others slated for the rest of the year will help Airbus determine what its next steps are for expanding its biofuel-supply options at Mobile. The manufacturer expects to offer the option to more Mobile customers as well as to align itself with Southeastern US biofuel suppliers in other way.

“It is an opportunity to work closely with local stakeholders to scale-up production and the commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels in the region,” Airbus New Energies head Frederic Eychenne said. “We are actively seeking ideas to leverage Airbus’ strategy into opportunities for new economic development in Alabama.” Air BP supplies Airbus with the biofuel—a hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuel based on used cooking oil—for its Mobile operations.

The flight marked the first time a JetBlue aircraft was powered using biofuel, but the airline has grand plans. In 2016, it cut a 10-year deal with biofuels provider SG Preston to supply the carrier with HEFA-based fuel. Deliveries are slated to start next year.

New York-based JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes indicated the carrier’s work with Airbus could expand beyond customer-acceptance and delivery flights.

“Our goal is to serve as a market-maker for renewable jet fuel, creating demand and therefore supporting supply,” Hayes said. “We’re working closely with Airbus to set up infrastructure for more options in the southeast region.”

Airbus’ customer-delivery flights using biofuel were launched based on an idea from Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific in 2015. The program was up and running a year later and is now available to any Toulouse delivery customer. Airbus plans to expand the biofuel-delivery option to its Hamburg production site soon.

(Sean Broderick - Aviation Week)

Vista Global acquires XOJET

Thomas Flohr’s Vista Global has acquired XOJET, the third largest US business jet charter operator by flight hours.

Vista Global says that the acquisition of XOJET will allow it to expand further in the US. It launched VistaJet in America in September 2013.

“The journey started when I first saw an opportunity in the fragmented and inconsistent offering across the industry. Vista Global’s mission is to provide customer-centric solutions for every segment of business aviation and today’s announcement is a major step in that direction,” said Thomas Flohr, Vista Global founder and chairman. “This acquisition is the perfect addition to our global business. XOJET’s strength in North America and its reputation for offering great value perfectly complement VistaJet and the other businesses in the group.”

XOJET’s largest shareholders were TPG, one of the world’s most-successful aviation investors, and Mubadalla, the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi. Although TPG was the largest shareholder, Mubadalla financed the fleet and held significant amounts of XOJET debt.

XOJET will continue to operate independently, under a new joint venture company, with control and leadership remaining in US hands to meet airline ownership regulations. The carrier has a fleet of 44 business jets, which includes 27 Cessna Citation Xs.

Corporate Jet Investor understands that 10 companies were originally interested in acquiring the company, with a final round of bidding including three companies. Shareholders first held talks during the 2017 NBAA convention.

“I am incredibly proud to be making today’s announcement which will see our company become part of a fantastic family of brands.” said Bradley Stewart, chairman & CEO, XOJET. “Becoming part of Vista Global will enable XOJET to achieve our dream of becoming a truly global business, providing us with the very best technology and infrastructure. I believe that Vista Global and XOJET are fundamentally aligned in our commitment to serving clients. I am looking forward to working with the Vista Global team and its companies in the future.”

The price has not been announced with the deal expected to close during the third quarter of 2018.

Jefferies was the financial advisor to Vista Global, with Latham & Watkins legal advisors. Perella Weinberg Partners advised XOJET.

ARGUS says that XOJET flew 46,739 flight hours in the first six months of 2018. GAMA Aviation (which operates for itself and for Wheels Up) flew 72,885 hours followed by Executive Jet Management with 58,305 hours.

(Alud Davies - Editor-at-large Corporate Jet Investor)

Monday, September 10, 2018

JetBlue's founder explains why his new airline bought the $300 million Airbus jet that others don't want


The Airbus A330neo is expected to enter service later this year with launch customer TAP Air Portugal.

Airbus has struggled to find buyers for the next-generation variant of its workhorse A330 airliner.

TAP co-owner and JetBlue founder David Neeleman told Business Insider that the plane's price, performance, and cockpit commonality with other Airbus products sealed the deal for the A330neo.

The Airbus A330-900neo lists for $296.4 million.

The Airbus A330neo is Europe's answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Like the Dreamliner, it's a ready-made replacement for the aging Boeing 767 and older Airbus models likes the A330ceo and A340. But unlike the Boeing 787, the A330neo has not had the sales success of its US rival with just 224 orders on the books. In comparison, Boeing has taken nearly 1,400 orders for the Dreamliner.

Launched in 2014, the A330neo is a next-generation development of the airframer's long-time workhorse A330ceo wide-body twinjet. However, the A330neo has been beset by delays concerning its Rolls-Royce engines and overshadowed by its flashier carbon composite sibling, the A350XWB.

This fall, the Airbus A330-900neo is finally expected to enter service this fall with launch customer TAP Air Portugal.

So why has Portugal's national airline gone with the A330neo instead of the A350 or Boeing Dreamliner?

(David Slotnick - Business Insider)

According to the TAP's co-owner and serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, it came down to the company's familiarity with Airbus, how well the A330neo fit with its route network, and finally price.

"We were already kind of with Airbus so it's harder to make the switch," the JetBlue founder told us in a recent interview.

TAP currently operates an all-Airbus fleet headlined by the A320 family and the A330ceo.

"Airbus is really good at cockpit commonality, so when we go to train a pilot between an A320 and an A330, it's a pretty easy step up," he added.

That effectively put the Boeing Dreamliner out of contention. But what about the A350?

"The A350 is a good airplane, but it's kind of too much airplane for us," Neeleman said. "One of the advantages of the A350 is its range. You can go 16 or 17 hours on and we didn't need that range."

Many of the A350's customers find the plane's nearly 10,000-mile range to be invaluable for ultra-long-haul routes connecting Asia with Europe and North America. However, TAP's route network is designed to connect Portugal with North America and the country's former colonies. For example, TAP's non-stop service between Lisbon, Portugal, and Sao Paulo, Brazil is one of the airline's bread and butter routes. It's also one of its longest routes at just over 10 hours while covering around 5,000 miles. Thus, the A330-900neo's 8,300 miles range will more than suffice.

And then there's the issue of money.

The A330-900neo lists for $296.4 million while the comparable A350-900 costs $21 million per plane.

"We actually had an order for 12 A350s, but we needed more airplanes," Neeleman said.

According to Neeleman, the A330neo boasted all of the fuel-saving features of the A350, including next-generation engines, new avionics, and optimized aerodynamics, but comes at a much lower price.

"It kind of did everything we needed based on the money we had to spend so we ended up going with the A330neo," he said.

In 2015, TAP replaced the A350 order with a deal for 14 A330neos.

The A330neo has netted 224 orders from airlines around the world headlined by Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X as its largest customer with 66 on order. The A330neo's only US airline customer is Delta with 25 orders on the books.

Earlier this year, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines both canceled Airbus orders in favor of the Boeing Dreamliner. Hawaiian's defection to the Boeing camp is particularly painful for Airbus because it was the last airline with orders for the smaller variant of the A330neo, the A330-800neo.

According to Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, the A330neo's lack of sale was one of the reasons why the carrier opted to go with the Boeing.

"Unfortunately, the A330-800 has not proved to be as popular in the marketplace," Ingram said in an interview with Business Insider earlier this year. "But for us, it doesn't make sense to remain committed to an airplane that had the risk of not being sufficiently accepted in the marketplace in the future."

(Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)

Boeing rolls out its first 777X widebody, but it will never fly


Boeing has built and rolled out its first 777X wide-body from its factory in Everett last week, but it will never actually fly.

Instead, the first of the Chicago-based jet maker's largest and most advanced airplane ever built will undergo 12 months of "static" testing and verification of load-bearing parts in its airframe and wings.

The first test aircraft, featuring wings made by its new automated composite wing center, will be followed by four more 777Xs being produced for full Boeing flight testing.

The sixth jet produced by the line will be used for structures fatigue testing, Boeing Vice President of Global Brand Marketing Jerry Verghes said on his LinkedIn page.

"It's an exciting time for us and for the passengers of our customers — All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore — as the world's longest (252 feet) and widest (235 feet) commercial jet airplane comes to life," Verghes wrote.

The 777X was introduced at the Dubai Airshow in 2013. It has since garnered 326 orders.

Boeing said last summer it is on schedule to deliver the first 406-seat 777X in 2020.

Cowen aerospace analyst Cai von Rumohr said in a recent report that Boeing's 777X spending will increase this year and next as it prepares for flight tests and delivery of the aircraft to the first customers.

"777X/777 cash drain will increase in 2019 but should be comfortably outweighed by potential plus swings elsewhere," von Rumohr said, adding that higher revenues should be generated by increased 737 and 787 passenger jet production, in addition to higher 767 Freighter production.

Boeing says the 777X aircraft's windows will be 30 percent larger than those on rival Airbus A350 jets and sit higher on the fuselage.

The 777X will also be the first commercial airplane with touchscreen technology in the cockpit. Folding wingtips will allow it to use wide-body gates at major airports, despite its larger size.

Boeing gave its most devoted aviation enthusiasts a tour of the new 777X aircraft in a video available online.

"The static tests really represent the home stretch of our program," Boeing 777X program test leader Doreen Bingo said in that video.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Skechers USA Inc. Bombardier Challenger 604 (CL-600-2B16) (c/n 5482) N581TS

Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 6, 2018.
(Photo by Michael Carter)