Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Qantas named most polluting airline across Pacific Ocean

Qantas has been identified as the most polluting airline to fly across the Pacific Ocean to North America.

A report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) analyzed 20 carriers and concluded that the Australian airline was 64 percent less fuel efficient than the top performers, All Nippon Airways and Hainan.
Source: ICCT
Fuel efficiency of 20 airlines on transpacific passenger routes, 2016

The report said Qantas recorded poor fuel efficiency because it used older, fuel-intensive aircraft, carried a low amount of freight (therefore making it less efficient) and also had relatively low numbers of passengers on each plane.

In a statement Tuesday, Qantas Head of Fuel and Environment Alan Milne said the airline ranked poorly because "we use larger aircraft, fly very long distances and have premium cabins that naturally have fewer people on board."

Milne added that the airline's Sydney to Dallas route, as one of the longest in the world, had a magnifying effect on emissions because at take-off there was so much fuel to carry

Qantas was the only airline in the list to have the Airbus A380 as its most prevalent aircraft on transpacific routes. The carrier said it is committed to lowering emissions and would soon be switching old 747's for Boeing's more fuel-efficient Dreamliner range.

The report highlighted that China's Hainan Airlines and Japan's ANA topped the fuel efficiency table using different strategies.

It said Hainan relied on its modern fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft while ANA maintained efficiency by carrying more payload, especially freight. ICCT said almost half of the variance among the 20 airlines was due to the amount of freight being carried on each flight.

In 2015, the ICCT compared the efficiency of 20 major airlines operating in the transatlantic market. Using a slightly different methodology, that report found British Airways to be the most polluting airline crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

(David Reid - CNBC)

Why is the world's largest passenger plane facing the scrap heap?

Airbus has confirmed it is preparing to end production of the world’s largest passenger plane after receiving no new orders in two years.

The A380 was launched to much fanfare in 2005 with commentators declaring it the future of aviation. But just 13 later, and with only 222 units delivered, the entire project is on the brink.

Airbus says it must build at least six of the planes each year to keep the program running, and had been banking on a new order in November from its biggest customer, Emirates. However, the Dubai carrier chose to purchase 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners instead.

Yesterday John Leahy, Airbus’s sales director, admitted that only Emirates could save the superjumbo. “We are still talking to Emirates, but honestly, they are probably the only one to have the ability right now... to take a minimum of six per year for a period of eight to 10 years,” he said.

“If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates there is no choice but to shut down the program.”

Emirates bought 50 A380s in 2013, but since then Airbus has only received one more order for the model, when Japan’s ANA bought three jets in January 2016.

What went wrong for the A380?

The jet has been widely praised by passengers for offering a smooth and comfortable flying experience, but the economics of operating it have proved off-putting for airlines. Simply put, every service needs to run at close to full capacity for carriers to make money.

Airlines are instead opting to buy medium-sized planes, such as the Dreamliner, the A320neo, which launched in 2016, and the A350, introduced in 2015.

At a glance - The Airbus A380

Independent air transport consultant John Strickland told the Telegraph: “The A380 is a well regarded aircraft by airlines which operate it and by customers flying on it. Generally, however, twin-engine aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777 reduce the financial risks involved with filling capacity and operating costs.”

Last year Singapore Airlines, the A380’s first customer, started putting its superjumbos into storage, while in November an Irish aircraft leasing company said it was considering creating its own airline because it couldn’t find anyone to borrow its A380s.

Which airline owns the most A380s?

Emirates, by a long way. With a fleet of 100, it's one of the few carriers able to get the maximum value out of the four-engine A380, and has made it the core of its long-haul fleet. Other airlines have ordered them in far smaller quantities: British Airways, for example, has 12 of them in its fleet of 270 aircraft.

How many orders are outstanding?

Production rate of the aircraft is falling fast, from 30 a year in 2014 to 15 in 2017, 12 this year, and eight next year. “We will deliver 12 aircraft as planned in 2018,” said Airbus’s chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier. “The challenge will be to maintain at least this level in the years to come.”

Can new markets save the A380?

Airbus had been hoping Chinese airlines would help revive the superjumbo. China will be the world’s biggest air travel market by 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association. But John Leahy’s comments this week would suggest these hopes are fading.

Besides, China has spent the last decade developing its own plane manufacturer: Comac. Its first purpose is to reduce the reliance on Boeing and Airbus planes on China's domestic air network - but the Far East's rising super-power also has ambitions to take its investment in aviation beyond its borders.

What’s the next biggest passenger plane?

Hypothetically, should every single A380, capable of carrying 853 passengers in a single class, be grounded, the Boeing 747-800 would become the largest passenger aircraft in the world, capable of carrying 700 passengers in a single class. 

Is the 747 falling from favor?

Correct. Last month United waved goodbye to its final 747 with a farewell flight from San Francisco to Honolulu (recreating the route of its first 747 service in 1970). Not one US carrier now flies the iconic Boeing aircraft, which – after almost 50 years of tireless service – is gradually disappearing from our skies.

Even it’s biggest customer, British Airways, is phasing it out of its fleet. It currently has 36 jumbo jets, according to the website, but a further 34 have already been placed in storage and it has said the model will be gone from its hangars by 2024.

Where are all the Boeing 747s?

Demand for the 747, which has been tweaked and upgraded many times since its first flight in 1969, has dried up. No new orders were received last year and it is expected that Boeing will be forced to call time on the jumbo jet before long.

Since 1969 Boeing has produced more than 1,500 747s. But around two-thirds of these have now been scrapped, written off, or placed in storage at one of the world’s aircraft graveyards.

(Oliver Smith - The Telegraph / Yahoo Business News) 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Those four-digit flight designations? Their days may be numbered

American’s Flight 1776 to Philadelphia? Hilarious.

Southwest’s Flight 1492 to Columbus, Ohio? Clever.

Alaska’s Flight 2738 to Portland? Not a side-splitter, but I don’t blame Alaska.

But I do worry about all three of them and their peers because the airlines are facing a problem.

Their numbers’ numbers are up.

If you need a break from worrying about nuclear war and how tax reform is going to affect your business, ponder flight numbers. I’ve added it to my list of things to worry about in 2018, and I keep hearing Frank Sinatra crooning “There may be trouble ahead,” from Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

A reader asked recently about flight numbers, and like anything that has to do with airlines, you ask a simple question and you won’t get a simple answer.

That’s not a knock on airlines, but a commentary on the enormous challenges of and changes in the industry. Unfortunately, there’s a price to be paid.

Assigning flight numbers “used to be an art, believe it or not,” said Brett Snyder, president of, which deals with all manner of airline questions, and, which offers air travel assistance.

There is beauty in simplicity. Several flights are the numeral 1, including American Airlines’ flight from New York’s JFK to LAX, which leaves at 8 a.m. and arrives just before noon. It’s a longtime route and has a certain prestige to it.

It also has a blot on its history. American’s Flight 1 crashed in 1962, killing all aboard. American did not retire that number, although many airlines do after an accident. Asiana Airlines, for instance, changed the Flight 214 number assigned to the Seoul-San Francisco route after a July 2013 crash at SFO in which three people were killed and scores injured.

American and United retired the flight numbers of the planes downed in the 9/11 attacks, although United accidentally reactivated them because of a system glitch (and then deactivated them).

On a whimsical note, airlines sometimes do the numeric version of wordplay, Snyder said. Besides Philly and Columbus, you’ll sometimes find flights to Vegas with a 711 flight number (Spirit has had one). You may find a 415 (JetBlue and Southwest) for flights to San Francisco (its area code) or a 66 for a JetBlue flight from JFK to Albuquerque (presumably for Route 66, never mind St. Louis, Joplin, Mo., Oklahoma City….)

Eight is considered a lucky number in some Asian cultures, so flights to that part of the world may use that figure.

But what’s happening with most flight numbers is far from amusing. Because of mergers and growth in the airline industry, it’s running out of numbers.

That’s because flight numbers cannot be larger than four digits.

Why not just make them bigger, like adding extra letters or digits to a license plate?

Easy for us to say, not so easy for airlines to do, Snyder said. Airline computer systems are hard-coded for no more than four digits. And that means the number of available numbers is finite.

When you tell people there are 10,000 flights a day, “most people think…10,000 is a lot for any given day,” Snyder said. “It’s not.”

Factor in that numbers are used only once a day and some numbers aren’t used at all, including 13 and, yes, 666 and….“We’re running out of numbers!” Southwest explains in a post called “The Science Behind the Numbers.”

“To start with, the numero uno industrywide-rule is that no flight number can contain more than four digits, meaning we only have up to flight number 9999 to work with,” Southwest writes.

“(No airline can use five-digit flight numbers! While this has been debated in the industry for years, the level of effort to make the change from four to five digits would be huge, and even the level of technology change to add alpha characters to published flight numbers would be gargantuan…although it would be fun to ‘name’ flights—‘Now boarding, Southwest Airlines Flight FRED to Los Angeles.’)”

Somehow, I just can’t imagine WN FRED. (WN is Southwest’s two-letter code. Many of those codes make sense — AA for American and BA for British Airways — but some do not.)

The numbers are becoming so scarce that one of the identifying factors of flight numbers — eastern and northern destinations were usually even numbered and western and southern were odd — are generally not used that way these days, Southwest noted in its post.

Some airlines with “there and back” flights use the same number going and coming in order to conserve.

Eventually, the numbers will be expanded, but it will be difficult and hugely expensive, Snyder said, and we know who will end up paying for that, don't we?

We can blame the people who failed to imagine the future, starting with Irish-born physicist Lord Kelvin who supposedly said in 1895 that “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

Now the only thing that seems impossible is finding numbers to designate where all these routes go. It may be time to just face the music and dance.

(Catharine Hamm - Los Angeles Times)

India to Split Flag Carrier Into Four Parts Ahead of Sale

India will break up its debt-burdened flag carrier into four separate companies and offer to sell at least 51 percent in each of them as part of a disinvestment proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The core airline business comprising Air India and Air India Express -- the low-cost overseas arm -- will be offered as one company, and the process will be completed by the end of 2018, Junior Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha said in an interview Monday. Its regional arm, ground handling, and engineering operations will also be sold separately in the same process.

A successful sale of Air India -- with $7.9 billion in debt, five subsidiaries and a joint venture, and a combined workforce of 27,000 -- is crucial for Modi, who wants to showcase his credentials as a reformist attempting to steer the state away from running businesses. The airline, which is surviving on a taxpayer-funded bailout, has strained government finances for decades, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said last year that money spent on Air India could have been used for education.

Unlocking Growth

“The aviation sector is a very fast growing sector, with really exciting opportunities for all participants, so we felt all of this will unlock growth and competitiveness of Air India group,” Sinha said. “We expect it to be a very bright future for its employees.”

Sinha declined to name potential bidders but said management control will be retained by local investors. The government altered foreign investment rules last week, allowing foreign airlines to own as much as 49 percent of Air India. Investors’ interest will be sought by end of this month with details on Air India’s core and non-core debt and assets, he added.

The government will add most of the non-core debt owed by the carrier to its own balance sheet, while borrowings linked to core operations will be retained by the unit on offer, Sinha said. A so-called special purpose vehicle will hold the unsustainable debt of the airline and the government is making "every effort" to protect employees.

Air India has been unprofitable since its 2007 merger with state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines Ltd. The company made an operating profit of about 1 billion rupees ($15.7 million) in the year through March 2016, primarily due to a slump in oil prices. It still posted a net loss of 38.4 billion rupees, according to the government.

$63 Billion Investment

India, the world’s fastest growing major aviation market, may not sustain the current 15-20 percent growth in the long term, but will expand at about 12 percent annually. To handle the surge in passengers, the country will need investments of as much as 4 trillion rupees to expand and build new airports over the next decade-and-a-half, with the bulk of it coming from the private sector.

Carriers in India, including market leader IndiGo, are set to order more than 1,000 planes as they look to tap an emerging middle class with disposable income to fly for the first time, according to Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation. However, capacity constraints at the main airports in New Delhi and Mumbai mean there are hardly any landing and parking slots available.

The government is in the process of implementing new airports in these two cities and, in the short-term, improving infrastructure at nearby airports to handle some of that growth.

“As of now, we have very significant expansion plans underway. We’ve looked at the top 30 airports in the country,” Sinha said. “We now have a very clear roadmap for the next 15-20 years as to what we have to do."

(Anurag Kotoky - Bloomberg Business News)

Airbus admits it will have to stop making its A380 if there's no new deal with Emirates

Airbus has admitted that unless it can find more buyers for its A380 superjumbo, the program may have to end.

The European planemaker has said it will build 12 A380s in 2018 and a further eight in 2019. Airbus said the minimum annual number it is prepared to build each year is six.

The main customer for the world's largest commercial jet is the Middle Eastern carrier Emirates, who took delivery of their 100th A380 during 2017.

Speaking via webcast Monday, Airbus sales chief John Leahy said negotiations for Emirates to buy more of the superjumbo were ongoing."We are still talking to Emirates and quite honestly they are probably the only one in the marketplace who can take a minimum of six A380s a year for a period of eight to 10 years," he said."If we can't work out a deal with Emirates I think there is no choice but to shut down the program," Leahy added.

Leahy said he believed the A380 would come back into fashion as air traffic was doubling every 15 years and bigger planes would be needed to satisfy demand.Airbus has increased the average list prices of its aircraft by two percent across the product line, effective from January 1st 2018. The new average list price for an A380 is $445.6 million.

Also on Monday, the European planemaker said that a spree of selling in the final weeks of 2017 had helped it surge past Boeing to win the annual commercial jet orders race.

(David Reid - CNBC)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pentagon awards contract to Gulfstream for service on C-20, C-37

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Gulfstream Aerospace a contract for two different twin-engine, turbofan aircraft used for transporting high-ranking government and Defense Department officials.

The terms of the agreement were announced Thursday by the Department of Defense, awarding Gulfstream Aerospace with a deal not-to-exceed more than $118.2 million.

The contract modifies a previous award under the terms of a firm-fixed-price contract with a five-year option period in support of the C-37 and C-20 aircraft, which aims to provide uninterrupted contractor support and logistics for the aircraft.

The C-37 and C-20 are both twin-engine, turbofan aircraft, sporting engines made by BMW and Rolls Royce, and have the same 20-person passenger capacity. The C-20 cost around $37 million, while the C-37 comes in at about $36 million.

The aircraft will support the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, according to the Pentagon.

Work on the contract will occur in the United States, as well as in Germany and Italy.

More than $38.4 million will be obligated to Gulfstream Aerospace at the time of award from combined fund accounts of the U.S. armed forces.

(James LaPorta - United Press International)

Once-soaring Mexican discount airline Interjet is now in a stall

Interjet Airbus A320-214(WL) (c/n 7784) XA-UNO arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on September 22, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

In cavernous jet hangars in and around Mexico City, Interjet has a secret.

Four of the Mexican airline’s Sukhoi Superjet 100s — out of a fleet of 22 — have been grounded for at least five months because of engine maintenance delays. The Russian-made aircraft, which average just 4 years old, are now being cannibalized, an industry term for when a plane is slowly scrapped for parts to keep other jets running.

A grounded plane is a wasted plane, and Interjet’s offline aircraft are symbolic of an airline that’s veered off course. Once one of Mexico’s hopefuls to bring a new era of competition to the industry, Interjet has muddled along with a questionable strategy while more nimble rivals have appeared on the scene. Now, the stranded Sukhoi Superjets are adding to concerns about whether ABC Aerolineas, the company’s formal name, will ever thrive.

“There are doubts about the viability of the business,” said Carlos Ozores, an air-transport specialist at ICF, a consulting and technology services company based in Virginia. “The only way for an airline to make money is to keep flying.”

Interjet confirmed the grounded aircraft but said it’s in good financial shape. The parked-plane situation can be traced back to a decision Chief Executive Officer Jose Luis Garza made half a decade ago when he agreed to buy the little-known and largely untested Sukhoi Superjets, which are backed by Italy’s Leonardo SpA and Russia’s Sukhoi. The engines are made by France’s Safran SA and a Russian partner.

JSC Sukhoi doesn’t have a single maintenance facility in the Americas. Airbus SE, which services the rest of Interjet’s fleet, operates three. That’s important because planes need regular and meticulous upkeep. It’s like driving a Hummer in a land of Volkswagens. For a time you’ll be fine, but once the vehicle requires so much as a tune-up, finding the parts and the labor to fix it will be tricky and costly.

“The supply chain with this aircraft has been a process,” Garza said from his office overlooking the Mexico City airport. “But we’re getting to where we want to be with them.” To ease maintenance problems, a $7-million consignment stock is being set up this year with Sukhoi parts, he said.

“The decision to buy them was a technical and economical one,” he said, calling the deal an “extraordinary acquisition agreement” the company wouldn’t have gotten from Brazilian maker Embraer SA.

Interjet made a splash as Mexico’s first airline for the budget-conscious flier when it was founded in 2005 by the Aleman family, the son and grandson of a former Mexico president. The company’s regional focus and deeply discounted ticket prices quickly turned it into the No. 2 airline by passengers as of 2011. But in the years that followed, the carrier hit turbulent skies, causing the company’s overall market share to stagnate while ultra-low-cost rival Controladora Vuela Compania de Aviacion, known as Volaris, has seen its stake soar.

“It’ll be hard for it to survive without a change of strategy,” Ozores said. “It’s hard operating in the middle.”

The middle that Ozores is referring to is the point between being a low-cost carrier and a full-service one. Interjet’s original economic model has slowly morphed into a sort of hybrid, so that these days, the carrier is trying to compete on price and service — and falling short on both fronts.

Garza says Interjet has focused its growth strategy on international routes since 2014, almost doubling its share of foreign flights to and from Mexico to about 21% as of November, from 11% in 2014. The airline began flying to John Wayne Airport in Orange County in 2012, but dropped the service two years later. It began serving Los Angeles International Airport in 2016.

While that expansion has helped boost the company’s dollar income — a boon for companies battered by a local currency that’s lost a third of its value in five years — Interjet has paid a heavy price to compete with its bigger rivals.

Interjet freebies such as snacks and checked luggage put its costs on par with full-service rivals such as Grupo Aeromexico SAB. It also boasts of comfortable leg room, adapting the seating configuration on its Airbus aircraft so that its planes fly an average 13% below capacity. Despite those perks, Interjet’s image is still solidly stuck in the domain of budget carriers. However, its prices are sometimes more than double those of Volaris, which started operations in 2006.

“We’re told we’re leaving money on the table,” Garza said. “Does that mean we should overbook flights and start charging for everything? We don’t think so.”

Meanwhile, Interjet’s debt leverage — Bloomberg estimates net debt is 7.1 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent — tops Aeromexico’s ratio of 5.1 or Volaris’ 5.2 times. Said Michael Duff, director at data researcher rhe Airline Analyst: “A relatively high financial risk is how I’d categorize them.”

It’s for that reason that keeping a constant eye on costs is so crucial. For low-cost carriers, that usually means limiting fleets to a single aircraft to save on maintenance-training costs. But Interjet’s 22 Superjet 100 planes coexist with its 50 Airbus A320 jetliners as well as six Airbus A321 aircraft.

“The most important defining characteristic of a low-cost carrier is an airline that’s able to keep costs low, whatever way they manage to do it,” said Triant Flouris, an International Air Transport Assn. flight instructor and academic at the Hellenic American University in Greece.

It was about a year ago that Garza’s decision to bet on the Sukhoi Superjet first came back to haunt him in a big way. In December 2016 — peak travel season for holiday fliers — the Russian aviation authority warned of a defect in a part that helps the aircraft fly straight in the air. After Interjet inspected its own planes, it grounded half its Sukhoi Superjet fleet and was forced to cancel 25 flights, Garza said at the time.

Although the planes were back in service by the following month, the damage was done. Some consumers began a social media campaign to pressure Mexico’s consumer watchdog to ban Interjet from flying the planes ever again, although nothing came of the requests.

“The Superjet hasn’t become very popular outside of Russia,” Flouris said. “Most of the airlines that I’ve seen flying this jet are closer to Russia.”

The 2012 Sukhoi Superjet purchase was the best choice for Interjet given Mexico City’s temperatures, altitudes and the routes they were intended to cover, Garza said. It was a bold bet on Russia’s first major passenger aircraft since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The single-aisle aircraft sold for about a half of the price of comparable jets from Brazil’s Embraer or Canada’s Bombardier Inc.

JSC Sukhoi did not respond to requests for comment.

Interjet has some financial challenges to overcome in the meantime. Financial reports show maintenance costs are rising faster than other expenses, and they now top what Aeromexico pays to keep its planes running, Duff said. Aircraft-leasing firms have boosted deposit requirements for the airline, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson said, adding that “lessors are probably paying close attention to their operations.” Out of its 78-aircraft fleet, the company owns 30 and leases the rest.

A cash injection of 3.2 billion pesos put forth by the Aleman family last year helped the company pay down most of its short-term liabilities. “We paid down short-term debt because that’s what had analysts worried,” Garza said.

Mexico’s government has reason to be worried. The nation took a major blow when Mexicana de Aviacion SA filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2010. Mexicana’s chairman was charged with embezzlement (the charges were later dropped), and hundreds of pilots and flight attendants saw large chunks of their pension funds shrink. Mexico’s aviation market, meanwhile, lost one of its biggest players, opening the void that Interjet, Volaris and Aeromexico would ultimately fill.

(Andrea Navarro - Bloomberg)

F-14 Tomcat: The Navy Fighter It Wishes It Could Bring Back from the Dead

(United States Navy)

The Navy’s F/A-XX program could be used to fill the service’s air superiority gap—which has essentially been left open since the F-14’s retirement and the demise of the NATF and A/F-X programs. But the problem is that the Navy is pursuing the F/A-XX as a multirole Super Hornet replacement rather than an air superiority-oriented machine. “The danger in its development is that it suboptimizes the fighter role in the quest for a hybrid fighter/attack jet,” the Hudson Institute report notes. “This would leave the Joint Force without a carrier-based sixth generation air superiority fighter.”

While the requirement for a carrier-based long-range strike capability is a frequent subject of discussion around Washington, the U.S. Navy’s need for improved air superiority capabilities is often neglected.

The service has not had a dedicated air-to-air combat aircraft since it retired the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in 2006. But even the Tomcat was adapted into a strike aircraft during its last years in service after the Soviet threat evaporated. Now, as new threats to the carrier emerge and adversaries start to field new fighters that can challenge the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), attention is starting to shift back to this oft-neglected Navy mission—especially in the Western Pacific.

“Another type of new aircraft required is an air superiority fighter,” states a recent Hudson Institute report titled Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict, which is written by The National Interest contributors Seth Cropsey, Bryan McGrath and Timothy A. Walton. “Given the projection of the Joint Force’s increased demand for carrier-based fighter support, this capability is critical.”

The report notes that both the Super Hornet and the F-35C are severely challenged by new enemy fifth-generation fighter aircraft such as the Russian-built Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA and Chengdu J-20. Indeed, certain current adversary aircraft like the Russian Su-30SM, Su-35S and the Chinese J-11D and J-15 pose a serious threat to the Super Hornet fleet. It’s a view that shared by many industry officials, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and even U.S. Marine Corps aviators. “Both F/A-18E/Fs and F-35Cs will face significant deficiencies against supercruising, long-range, high-altitude, stealthy, large missile capacity adversary aircraft, such as the T-50, J-20, and follow-on aircraft,” the authors note. “These aircraft will be capable of effectively engaging current and projected U.S. carrier aircraft and penetrating defenses to engage high value units, such as AEW aircraft, ASW aircraft, and tankers. Already, the F/A-18E/F faces a severe speed disadvantage against Chinese J-11 aircraft, which can fire longer range missiles at a higher kinematic advantage outside of the range of U.S. AIM-120 missiles.”

Nor does the F-35C—which suffers from severely reduced acceleration compared to even the less than stellar performance of other JSF variants—help matters. “Similarly, the F-35C is optimized as an attack fighter, resulting in a medium-altitude flight profile, and its current ability to only carry two AIM- 120 missiles internally [until Block 3] limits its capability under complex electromagnetic conditions,” the authors wrote. “As an interim measure, the Navy and Air Force should significantly accelerate the F-35C’s Block 5 upgrade to enable the aircraft to carry six AIM-120 missiles internally.”

The F-35C was never designed to be an air superiority fighter. Indeed, naval planners in the mid-1990s wanted the JSF to be a strike-oriented aircraft with only a 6.5G airframe load limit with very limited air-to-air capability, according to one retired U.S. Navy official. Indeed, some naval planners at the time had discussed retiring the F-14 in favor of keeping the Grumman A-6 Intruder in service. During this period, many officials believed air combat to be a relic of the past in the post-Cold War era. They anticipated most future conflicts to be air-to-ground oriented in those years immediately following the Soviet collapse. Together with a lack of funding, that’s probably why the Navy never proceeded with its Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF) or A/F-X follow-on program.

The Navy’s F/A-XX program could be used to fill the service’s air superiority gap—which has essentially been left open since the F-14’s retirement and the demise of the NATF and A/F-X programs. But the problem is that the Navy is pursuing the F/A-XX as a multirole Super Hornet replacement rather than an air superiority-oriented machine. “The danger in its development is that it suboptimizes the fighter role in the quest for a hybrid fighter/attack jet,” the Hudson Institute report notes. “This would leave the Joint Force without a carrier-based sixth generation air superiority fighter.”

As the Navy’s current director of air warfare, Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, has stated in the past, the authors also note that such “an aircraft could feature large passive and active sensor arrays, relatively high cruising speed (albeit not necessarily acceleration), could hold a large internal weapons bay capable of launching numerous missiles, and could have space to adopt future technologies, such as HPM [high-powered microwaves] and lasers. This air superiority asset would contribute to Outer Air Battle integrated air and missile defense requirements and would be capable of countering enemy weapons, aircraft, and sensor and targeting nodes at a distance.”

Outer Air Battle, of course, refers to a Navy concept from the 1980s to fend off a concerted attack by hordes of Soviet Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bombers, Oscar-class (Project 949A Antey) nuclear-powered guided missile submarines and surface action groups lead by warships like the Kirov-class nuclear-powered battlecruisers—as now deputy defense secretary Bob Work [he was the CEO of the Center for a New American Security at the time] described to me in 2013. These Soviet assets would have launched their arsenals of anti-ship cruise missiles from multiple points of the compass.

As Work described it, the Navy was relatively confident it could sink the Oscars and surface ships before they could launch their missiles. They were far less confident about their ability to take out the Tu-22Ms before they could get into launch position. The Tomcats, under Outer Air Battle, would try to “kill the archers”—the Backfires—before they could shoot and attempt to eliminate any cruise missiles that they launched. But, Work notes, no one knows how well it would have worked during a shooting war with the Soviet Union—and it’s a good thing we never got to find out. But with China’s emerging anti-access/area denial strategy, the threat is back.

While the F/A-XX and the Air Force’s F-X are in their infancy, it has become clear that they will be different aircraft designs that will probably share common technologies. The Navy does seem to be focusing on a more defensive F-14 like concept while the Air Force is looking for a more offensively oriented air superiority platform that could replace the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. “As you'll see over the coming years, the differences between the primary mission and the likely threats will drive significant differences between the F/A-XX and F-X programs as well as legacy systems like the F-22 and F-35,” one senior defense official told me.

(Dave Majumdar - The National Interest)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Official Final Day For Virgin America Flights

(Virgin America)

Tomorrow marks a milestone in the world of aviation. Fourteen years after its founding, and over a decade since it began operations, Virgin America will no longer be flying.

That’s not to say you will stop seeing Virgin America planes in the air and at the airport. Rather, January 11, 2018, marks the day when Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will begin operating under a single operating certificate. That means Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will be considered as a single airline by the FAA. Virgin America flights will cease using the callsign “Redwood,” and the airline’s pilots will switch to the callsign “Alaska” instead.

On the consumer side of things, April 24 will be the last day fliers can book flights on Virgin America’s site. Starting on April 25, customers will be redirected to Alaska’s site, and all flights will be booked as Alaska ones.

We will likely see Virgin America planes with their signature red-and-white paint jobs on tarmacs for some time to come, though, as it will take at least several months for all the newly merged airline’s jets to be decorated with Alaska’s livery.

Virgin America Airbus A321-253N (c/n 7999) N925VA on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 27, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

However, Airline Geeks reports that a new Virgin America Airbus A321neo aircraft with the tail number N925VA left the factory on December 2 and has already been painted with Alaska colors as well as a tagline reading “Most West Coast” in a nod to the airline’s robust West Coast route network. The Virgin America brand will likely cease to exist altogether sometime in 2019 as Alaska folds Virgin’s fleet and workforce into its own.

Lest you feel the loss of Virgin America’s signature offbeat brand of cool too keenly, though, Alaska does plan on preserving some of the airline’s customer-friendly touches. Alaska has said it plans to keep offering a library of free entertainment for passengers to access on their own personal devices. The airline will roll out high-speed satellite-based WiFi to the entire fleet beginning later in 2018 with completion of the project by the end of 2019.

Alaska will increase the number of first-class seats on former Virgin aircraft from eight to 12, and will install new Premium Class economy seats with extra legroom on former Virgin planes. Passengers in the main cabin and first class will also be able to pre-select and pre-pay meals on some flights.

As for Virgin’s hallmark purple-lit interiors, Alaska’s rebranding includes retrofitting both its own jets and Virgin’s with blue mood lighting inspired by a “West Coast vibe.” The airline has also commissioned new crew uniforms from Seattle-based designer Luly Yang.

Alaska's new interiors will be inspired by a "West Coast vibe."
(Alaska Airlines)

On the ground, Alaska will expand its lounges in its hubs of Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, and will open new lounges in San Francisco and at New York JFK, former Virgin hubs.

These developments have been a long time coming. Alaska announced its acquisition of Virgin America back in December 2016 for $2.6 billion. Since then, the airlines have taken steps to merge their frequent-flier programs and some of their operations. The merger made Alaska the fifth-largest airline in the U.S., operating over 1,200 daily flights to over 120 destinations across North America.

(Eric Rosen - Forbes)

United Pilot Leader Wins New Term, Backs United Execs and Scoffs at Other Airlines' $1,000 Bonuses

United Airlines Pilots Union Chairman Todd Insler
(Photo: United)

The chairman of United Airlines' pilots union, unanimously re-elected Tuesday in a rare display of labor unity, voiced support for the airline’s management team and said he will focus on benefit improvements in ongoing contract talks.

Todd Insler, 49, was elected to his second consecutive two-year term in a 19-0 vote by the master executive council of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, as were the council’s three other top offices. Their terms begin March 1.

Insler also retains a seat on United’s board of directors. United has about 12,500 pilots.

The re-election comes as the two parties have started talks on a contract that becomes amendable Jan. 1, 2019, with United seemingly on a positive path even though it has trailed peers American and Delta in margin performance and, during 2017, in share price performance.

In early afternoon trading Wednesday, United shares were up nearly 7% after the carrier said fourth quarter unit revenue will be flat, exceeding earlier guidance towards an approximately 2% decline.

President Scott Kirby and Chief Financial Officer Andrew Levy “have said we ought to be the highest paid pilots in the industry, and we are,” said Insler, Newark-based Boeing 757/767 captain. “In order to be able to hire the best people, we have to be able to [further] differentiate ourselves. We think the best way to do that is to have the best benefit package.”

During the United bankruptcy, which lasted three years and ended in 2006, United pilots lost a defined benefit pension plan and other benefits. “The rug was pulled out from under us,” Insler said. “We had a decade of stagnation. We saved this company and now we need to claw back to where we were.”

Insler said pilot negotiators are particularly focused on restoring benefits and protecting scope contract provision, especially given that key United hubs – Chicago, Dulles, Newark, San Francisco – are located in higher tax regions where the value of higher salaries is diminished by the recently passed tax bill.

On Jan. 3, American became the first airline to roll out $1,000 bonuses for all employees. Southwest and JetBlue soon followed. Insler reiterated that benefit improvements are more welcome because they are not taxed in the same way.

“United got a huge tax break over the next few years [due to reduction of corporate income tax] and that money needs to be invested in employees,” Insler said. ““Putting $1,000 in my hand is great -- but put it into medical, dental and retirement.”

Insler said he believes in the management team headed by CEO Oscar Munoz.

He said the team has had to make up for damage done by predecessor teams headed by Glenn Tilton, who kept the company in bankruptcy for three years while he searched for a merger partner, and then by Jeff Smisek.

Insler, who became a United pilot in 1995 (He earlier spent a year as an intern at the Denver flight training center), said Munoz is the best CEO he has worked for.

“We have disagreements,” he said of Munoz. “But what he did was provide leadership when there was a leadership gap. He provided a long-term vision and acknowledged the importance of the employees.

“His predecessor [Smisek] decimated the company and {Tilton] walked out of here with more money than Oprah," he said.

Insler said Kirby is trying to rebuild an airline that for years had eschewed domestic route growth.

“We were really mismanaged by our previous leaders,” he said. “United’s answer was to shrink while everybody else doubled down and grew. Wall Street is short-sighted and doesn’t like growth, but we are on a long-term mission.”

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

First BelugaXL rolls out as work begins on second


Airbus has commenced work on a second BelugaXL transport following finalization of structural assembly on the initial aircraft.

The airframer has rolled out the first example of the XL – which is based on the A330 – following installation of the main freight door.

Airbus says the second A330 airframe for Beluga modification has arrived in Toulouse for integration.

It expects to cut two months from the assembly process by taking advantage of experience gained from the first aircraft.

Airbus has yet to attach the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines to the initial airframe. The manufacturer says it expects to fly the twin-jet by mid-2018.

"Transforming an existing product into a super transporter is not a simple task," says BelugaXL program chief Bertrand George.


The aircraft's systems are to undergo a series of bench tests in Toulouse and Hamburg while simulated flight loading will be carried out on copies of specific joints at the interface of the upper and lower fuselage.

"Data from these tests will be used to clear the aircraft for flight and, later on, to attain type certification,” says George.

Airbus is to produce five BelugaXL transports, which are 6m longer than the A300-600STs which the new type will replace.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - FlightGlobal News) 

Boeing delivers 763 aircraft in 2017, looks to raise production rates

Boeing delivered 763 commercial aircraft in 2017, led by placements of 529 single-aisle 737s—including 74 re-engined MAX variants—and received 912 net orders, valued at nearly $135 billion at list prices.

Boeing claimed an industry record for its 2017 deliveries and has now out-delivered its main competitor Airbus for six years running, according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP-marketing Randy Tinseth. The company met its 2017 delivery guidance “spot on,” Tinseth said.

“It was not a year without its challenges … we went through a production increase of the 767, we moved up our production rates on the 737 and we delivered our first 737 MAX in the middle of the year,” Tinseth said.

The manufacturer’s backlog of unfilled orders stands at 5,864 aircraft as of Dec. 30, 2017, equal to about seven years of production.

Orders in 2017 were “led by the strength in the single-aisle market, a strength that we saw with the launch of the MAX 10, but it was also a very big year in terms of what we able to do in the wide-body sector,” Tinseth said. “[We had] close to 200 gross orders on the wide-bodies, with orders for 747s, 767s, 777s and 787s. It was a very deep market, a broad market, with orders from 71 customers.”

Tinseth described 2017 as a very good year for its customers, citing a world economy growing in excess of 3%, a passenger market growing 7% to 7.5% and the eighth consecutive year of market growth at/above long-term trend, as well as traffic growth exceeding capacity growth.

“Which means that as load factors continue to go up, our customers are increasing the utilization of their aircraft,” Tinseth said. “They’re becoming more efficient and effective with their fleets, which is always a good sign.”

Additionally, Tinseth cited the 9%-9.5% resurgence of the air cargo market in 2017 as well as ongoing airline profitability, quoting IATA’s forecast of about $34 billion in airlines’ profit for 2017.

“To put that in perspective, it’s the eighth year in a row where our industry has generated overall profit, which I believe is a record,” Tinseth said. “If you take a look at the profitability of the airline industry, in the last three years we’ve generated more profit than the 30 years prior to that combined.”

For 2018, Tinseth said the company is expecting GDP growth to be above long-term trend again, growing at about 3%; passenger traffic is expected to continue to grow above trend, between 5.5%-6%; and the cargo market will grow at approximately 5%. Tinseth said IATA is forecasting airlines profitability in 2018—based on continued moderate fuel prices as well as a strong revenue picture—to be about $38 billion.

“Our customers, because of their profitability, are positioned to finance and buy aircraft, which is good. We’re also seeing continued growth above long-term trends … all of that puts upward pressure on our rates as we go through time,” Tinseth said. “And as a result, we’ve made the decision on 737s to go up in rate this year, today we’re building at 47 737s/month, that goes to 52 aircraft/month later this year and 57 airplanes/month next year. The strength that we’ve seen especially in the order base around the 787 gave us confidence last year to increase our rates above the existing rates that we’re building today of 12 per month. We will go to 14 a month in 2019.”

Boeing is also looking to open its completion and delivery center in Zhoushan, China in 2018, located in Zhejiang province in eastern China.

“We’ll continue to see strong opportunities in China. It’s a market, frankly, that is underserved … I’m not talking a couple airplanes—I’m talking hundreds of airplanes,” Tinseth said. “Over the past five years, especially with airplanes like the 787 and 777 coming to market there, we’ve seen very strong growth in terms of long-range international service. It’s become a very important market for the 787. Soon we will be delivering our first airplanes out of that completion center. That helps us as we go up in rate. We’ll be able to take some of the work that had been done in Seattle, that will go to China and frankly it will enable us to go at higher and higher rates at our existing facilities in Renton.”

Additional focus in 2018 will center on the bridge from the 777 to the 777X.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work around the 777, especially -300 ERs and -200 LRs as well as 777 freighters to insure that we have a successful transition between the 777 and the 777X. We made a great deal of headway on that bridge last year,” Tinseth said. “We’re in a very good position both in 2018 and 2019 and then 2020 comes the 777X. We’re going to be focused on both models this year. We’re now in excess of 300 orders on the 777X. We’re well positioned there, but we have more work to do. In 2018-2019, we’ll be focusing more on the 777X and putting the bridge behind us, and that’s our future.” 

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Chinese carriers took delivery of 424 aircraft in 2017

Chinese carriers introduced 424 aircraft—407 passenger aircraft and 17 freighters—in 2017, expanding their total fleet to 3,261 aircraft (3,118 passenger aircraft and 143 freighters) at year-end.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, China’s three largest carriers by fleet size were:

China Southern Airlines, operated 545 aircraft and took delivery of 50.

China Eastern, which operated 487 aircraft and introduced 54.

Air China, which operated 387 aircraft and introduced 32.

Narrow-body aircraft accounted for 81.5% of China’s airlines’ total fleet.

Air China became the first Chinese carrier to take delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX in November 2017, followed by 20 MAX aircraft delivered to Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and China Eastern subsidiary Shanghai Airlines in November and December 2017.

In addition, Air China, China Southern, Tianjin Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and West Air introduced a total of 18 Airbus A320neos in 2017.

Domestic airlines took delivery of 57 wide-body aircraft, comprising seven Boeing 777-300ERs; 18 Boeing 787-9s and 32 A330s, expanding Chinese carriers’ total wide-body fleet to 353 aircraft, which was dominated (60%) by A330 family aircraft as of Dec. 31, 2017.

In 2017, seven Chinese carriers introduced 17 freighters, which increased domestic airlines’ total freighter fleet to 143 aircraft (51 Boeing 737Fs and 30 Boeing 757Fs)

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News) 

Turkish Airlines adds to B777F fleet with new order

Turkish Airlines has ordered a further three Boeing 777F aircraft following delivery of its first two of the series last year.

Boeing this morning confirmed that the Istanbul-hubbed airline had placed the order, which was initially announced on the carrier's investor relations website on December 29.

The airline said the aircraft would be delivered this year.

"These freighter orders will surely contribute to our significant target for establishing a young and efficient cargo fleet," said M. İlker Aycı, chairman of the board and the executive committee of Turkish Airlines.

"The new aircraft will be delivered this year and will provide us with additional flexibility to serve more destinations while we continue to develop our global freight service."

According to its third quarter report, prior to the delivery of the first two B777Fs, The Turkish Airlines freighter fleet stood at nine A330-200Fs on financial lease and six wet leased aircraft, although it does not reveal what these aircraft are.

Boeing said the new B777Fs would help Turkish increase operational flexibility.

"The B777 Freighter is the largest and most capable twin-engine freighter in the world today," said Marty Bentrott, senior vice president of sales, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Central Asia and Africa, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We're pleased world-class customers like Turkish Airlines recognize the value of the 777 Freighter's long range and large payload capability."

The B777F is the world's longest-range twin-engine freighter and can fly just over 9,000km with a full payload of 112 tons.

"The airplane's range capability translates into significant savings for airlines: fewer stops and associated landing fees, less congestion at transfer hubs, lower cargo handling costs and shorter cargo delivery time," Boeing added.


JetBlue Delays Fleet Update as Boeing, Airbus Target Small Jets

JetBlue Airways has delayed a decision on updating its fleet of regional jets as it watches a brewing rivalry between Boeing and Airbus to gain sway in the market for smaller planes.

The carrier had hoped to decide by the end of last year whether to keep its 60 Embraer E190s. But an Airbus agreement to take control of Bombardier Inc.’s C Series program and Boeing discussions about a possible deal with Embraer introduced too many unknowns, said JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest.

“It’d be short-sighted of us to progress with something definitive in this landscape that’s evolving,” he said in an interview. “If we leave money on the table because we rushed in during this changing landscape -- I don’t want to get into a position where we regret any decision.”

JetBlue is debating whether to keep the 100-seat E190s or replace them with an updated version from Brazil’s Embraer. The New York-based carrier might also switch to Bombardier’s smaller C Series jet, or order lower-capacity planes from Airbus. In addition to the E190s, JetBlue operates 130 A320s and 53 A321s made by the French planemaker. The carrier also is still considering whether to buy a longer-range Airbus jet.

The airline began a review of its fleet and aircraft investment plans early last year, assessing the profit margin produced by each plane and how it meets JetBlue’s needs. The evaluation dovetails with an effort to cut as much as $300 million from spending by 2020.

Late Stages

JetBlue had been in the latter stages of its E190 evaluation but hadn’t made a decision, Priest said, when Airbus said it would acquire a majority stake in Bombardier’s C Series program. The October agreement would provide Airbus with the Canadian company’s 108-160 seat narrow-body aircraft to compete with Boeing’s 737 workhorse. The deal added urgency to negotiations between Chicago-based Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

JetBlue’s fleet evaluation continues and the timing of a decision on the E190s will be linked to what happens in the market, Priest said. “But I don’t feel paralyzed or handcuffed by it,” he said.

JetBlue is also still evaluating whether to buy a new, longer-range Airbus jet, the A321 LR, Priest said. The aircraft would allow the carrier to fly across the Atlantic to Europe, expanding an international network that currently focuses on the Caribbean, Latin America and northern South America.

JetBlue can decide on the A321LR at any time, although Airbus requires a two-year notice for delivery. If the airline wants the LR, it probably would convert some existing A321neo orders.

(Mary Schlangenstein - Bloomberb Business)

Abu Dhabi's Etihad appoints former JetBlue exec as group CFO

Etihad Airways has hired former JetBlue executive Mark Powers as group chief financial officer, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said on Tuesday.

Long-serving Group CFO James Rigney left the troubled airline along with CEO James Hogan in July.

Powers will join Etihad this month, the airline said in a statement.

He was CFO at JetBlue from 2011 until 2016, having joined the New York-headquartered airline as treasurer in 2006.

JetBlue has been critical of attempts by American Airlines , Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines to restrict the growth of Etihad and other Gulf carriers over accusations they receive unfair state subsidies. The Gulf carriers have denied the subsidy claims.

Powers will head the finances of Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) which oversees Etihad Airways, engineering, airport, travel services units, and its investments in other carriers.

"The Etihad Aviation Group Board believes Mark and the wider finance team will play a pivotal role in helping to guide Etihad onto the next stage of its development," said Group CEO Tony Douglas, who joined the airline this month.

Etihad reported a $1.9 billion loss for 2016, its first since 2010. Like fellow Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways, it has had to battle overcapacity, security concerns and a drop in regional business travel in recent years.

Etihad cut, or announced it was dropping, several routes last year including to U.S. cities San Francisco and Dallas.

On Monday, Etihad signed an aviation security pact with Emirates, the first such cooperation agreement between the two UAE-based rivals.

Etihad has also been hampered by stakes it has bought in more than half a dozen airlines.

Key investments Air Berlin and Italy's Alitalia both entered administration last year.

Etihad has sold its holding in Swiss-based regional airline Darwin but still has stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia, and India's Jet Airways .

Powers takes over from Ricky Thirion who held the position in an acting capacity since July 1. Thirion will resume his role as group treasurer, Etihad said. 

(Stanley Carvalho and Alexander Cornwell - Reuters)

Airbus Lifts Narrow-Body Output in China, Explores A380 Pact

Airbus will accelerate production of the A320 workhorse model in China to six a month by 2020 as the European planemaker seeks to meet global demand while pursuing more orders in Asia’s largest economy.

The narrow-body build rate at the Tianjin plant east of Beijing will increase from the current four planes a month, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said Tuesday during a visit to China with a trade delegation led by French President Emmanuel Macron. The tour failed to produce any new orders.

A French official separately confirmed that discussions are underway about an Airbus partnership with China on the A380 superjumbo, while saying nothing is yet ready for signing. The Toulouse-based company could hand over some interiors and finishing work if Beijing agrees to buy more of the slow-selling double-deckers, a person with knowledge of the discussions said Monday.

Airbus also agreed to expand its engineering capabilities and supply-chain in China, and to deepen cooperation on technical innovation. The Tianjin final assembly line, which opened in 2008 and has built more than 350 A320-series aircraft, will initially move to five planes a month by early 2019.
Order Blank

Group-wide, Airbus aims to produce 60 A320s a month by 2020, up from an average of 44 last year, across production lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Mobile, Alabama, as well as China. Boosting output from Tianjin would better reflect the importance of local demand, with the factory building 50 planes in 2017 but China taking delivery a quarter of Airbus’s global total of about 700.

The absence of new aircraft orders during Macron’s trip will come as a disappointment for Airbus, though China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Ltd. has agreed to buy 75 airliners with a combined list price of at least $8 billion in the past two weeks,and during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Berlin in July the company secured commitments worth $22 billion.

While rival Boeing Co. trumpeted a $37 billion mega-sale to China following President Donald Trump’s first visit to the country in November, most of those aircraft turned out to be from previously announcement deals.

Airbus is meanwhile moving the president of its commercial aviation business in China, Eric Chen, to the role of chairman, people familiar with the matter said. He’ll be succeeded by George Xu in the post, which includes responsibility for sales, industrial partnerships and government affairs, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the plans aren’t yet public.

(Bloomberg Business)

Hawaiian Airlines to Add Daily Long Beach-Honolulu Service

This is the official press release issued by Hawaiian Airlines yesterday! So looking forward to this flight!

Michael Carter
Editor - Aero Pacific Flightlines _____________________________________________________________

Hawaiian Airlines today announced it will begin daily non-stop flights between Long Beach (LGB) and Honolulu (HNL) in the summer, offering Southern California travelers another convenient option for direct service to Hawaii. The new route, being inaugurated May 31 out of Honolulu on Hawaiian’s new Airbus A321neo aircraft, complements the carrier’s popular daily flights at nearby Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“Long Beach is a perfect gateway for travelers in Los Angeles and Orange County to ease into their Hawaiian vacation,” said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “We look forward to welcoming our guests onboard, where they will enjoy our award-winning Hawaiian hospitality in the comfort of our newest aircraft.”

Starting June 1, Hawaiian’s Flight 69 will depart Long Beach at 8:30 a.m. and arrive in Honolulu at 11:40 a.m., giving travelers the afternoon to explore O‘ahu or connect to a neighbor island. The return flight, HA 70, departs Honolulu at 12:30 p.m. and arrives in Long Beach at 9 p.m.

Hawaiian, Hawai‘i’s largest and longest-serving carrier, is deploying a new fleet of narrow-body A321neo aircraft to provide U.S. West Coast guests non-stop flights to more islands. The airline today is celebrating its first scheduled A321neo flight, between Kahului (OGG) on Maui and Oakland (OAK), as it prepares for service between Portland (PDX) and OGG on Jan. 18, followed by flights between OAK and Līhu‘e (LIH) on Kaua‘i on April 11, and Los Angeles (LAX)-Kona (KOA) on the Island of Hawai‘i in the summer.

The highly efficient, mid-range A321neo aircraft complement Hawaiian’s fleet of wide-body aircraft currently used for service between Hawai‘i and 11 U.S. gateway cities, along with 10 international destinations. Hawaiian’s 189-passenger A321neo includes 16 luxurious leather recliners in First Class, 44 Extra Comfort premium economy seats, and 129 Economy seats. In addition to Hawaiian’s warm hospitality, including complimentary meals, guests will enjoy wireless streaming in-flight entertainment, access to USB outlets, and additional overhead stowage space.

About Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian® has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past 13 years (2004-2016) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure have placed Hawaiian among the top of all domestic airlines serving Hawai‘i.

Now in its 89th year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawai‘i’s biggest and longest-serving airline. Hawaiian offers non-stop service to Hawai‘i from more U.S. gateway cities (11) than any other airline, along with service from Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 170 jet flights daily between the Hawaiian Islands, with a total of more than 250 daily flights system-wide.

(Hawaiian Airlines)

Monday, January 8, 2018

EL Al to end UP budget brand; names new CEO

El Al Israel Airlines has confirmed it will discontinue its UP budget brand as the company revises its European market business to implement a new economy fare-structure system on European El Al mainline flights. The new product sale to Europe will launch April 30 on departing flights from Oct. 15.

In addition, the Israeli flag carrier named former pilot and current VP-commercial Gonen Usishkin as its new CEO, replacing David Maimon who announced in November he would step down after four years in the job, Reuters reported, adding that Usishkin will take up his new position in the coming weeks following a transition period.

UP began operations in March 2014 with four Boeing 737-800s on flights from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport to Berlin Schoenefeld (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Larnaca (Cyprus), Budapest (Hungary) and Kiev Boryspil (Ukraine).

El Al said that by 2019 the former UP 737-800s cabins will be upgraded with modernized business and economy seats; the onboard Wi-Fi system will also be improved.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Alitalia to select bidder soon

Alitalia Boeing 777-243(ER) (32858/425) I-DISU ""Madanna di Campiguo / Alberto Nassetti" on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 24, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alitalia’s special administrators are set to choose the successful bidder with whom they want to begin exclusive negotiations about the bankrupt airline’s future within days, Italy’s economic development minister said.

Carlo Calenda told Italian radio station Radio Capital that the administrators who have been running the airline since the Italian flag carrer filed for bankruptcy in May—70 years after its first flight—hope to choose the best among the three offers still on the table by the end of this week or early next week.

Talks would focus on job-cut plans, strategy and connections for the Italian market, he said.

Italian media reported Lufthansa was the favorite, ahead of offers from UK LCC easyJet and Cerberus Capital Management.

In October, Italy’s government increased its funding for Alitalia and pushed back the deadline for the sale from November to April, after it emerged that Lufthansa had submitted an offer.

The German group said at the time it wanted to establish a restructured “New Alitalia,” and was interested in parts of the global network traffic and European and domestic point-to-point business. That deal is thought to be worth around €500 million ($598 million) and to involve major job cuts.

Lufthansa abandoned its plan to buy German leisure carrier and airberlin subsidiary NIKI in December over European Union competition concerns.

(Helen Massy-Beresford - Aviation Week/ ATWOnline News)