Monday, December 11, 2017

The Trump effect could give Boeing an edge over Airbus in the fight for Delta's big jet deal

Boeing may have gained an edge over Airbus as the jet makers battle for a Delta Air Lines order of up to 100 single-aisle jets, thanks to the Trump effect, an aerospace analyst said Monday.

Veteran Bainbridge Island aerospace watcher Scott Hamilton said the Boeing's 737 Max and the Airbus A320neo are almost identical in terms of economics and performance.

"Those I’ve talked to in the market think that on the merits, the choice between Airbus and Boeing is a coin toss. But throw in Trump’s Buy America and the C Factor (Boeing filing a trade complaint against Delta after it bought Bombardier CSeries regional jets), those I’ve talked to think Boeing is more likely to get the nod than Airbus," Hamilton wrote in a commentary on his Leeham News website.

"When it comes to Boeing vs Airbus in Washington (D.C.), and especially the White House, Boeing has the advantage," Hamilton suggested.

Another political factor that could influence the decision in Boeing's favor is Delta’s potential concern were it to buy Airbus about a customer backlash in the Seattle area, home of Boeing Commercial Airplanes' biggest factories, Hamilton wrote.

Boeing makes the 737 jets in Renton, and winning the Delta order would be a huge victory for Boeing and its supply chain in the region while creating positive sentiment toward Delta as it expands in Seattle.

"Delta is building a hub here in competition with Alaska Airlines, a heretofore exclusive operator of Boeing aircraft," Hamilton wrote. "Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America, an Airbus operator, muddies these waters for now. "

Hamilton said he's overlooked one important consideration in the American-or-European jet decision: "the Trump administration’s Buy America push."

"One can just imagine if Delta buys Airbus. Notwithstanding the fact that many (or maybe all) of the A320neos might be assembled at the Mobile plant in deep-red Alabama that loves Donald Trump, Boeing has remarkably and successfully kissed up to Trump and massaged his ego to no end," Hamilton wrote.

"Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg didn’t take a strong stand about Trump’s Charlottesville remarks basically endorsing white supremacists. Several CEOs on Trump’s Business Council quit in protest. Not Muilenburg," Hamilton wrote.

Another aerospace analyst said the industry consensus is Airbus still has the upper hand in the Delta order battle, except for the politics wild card.

"With the entire Bombardier-Boeing clash ... Delta does have the leverage to acquire Boeing jets at high discounts," Dhierin Bechai of Aero Analysis in Rotterdam said in an interview.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of aerospace analysis at the Teal Group, said the competition is "very hard to handicap."

"Boeing is at a political disadvantage due to the trade complaint against Delta's Bombardier CSeries order," he said. "On the other hand, that would make a Max win that much more impressive."

With Delta as the only U.S. major airline that hasn't yet specified its next-generation single-aisle jet, there's lots of business at stake for Boeing and Airbus in the decision.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the Puget Sound Business Journal earlier this year that he hoped to settle the jet question before 2018. Delta's board of directors meets this week to consider the order. Hamilton said the purchase could be announced by Friday.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Airbus may cut A380 production to six planes a year

Airbus is exploring plans to cut A380 superjumbo production to as low as six aircraft per year as it battles to make the world's largest airliner commercially viable beyond the end of the decade, industry sources said.

Squeezed by smaller but efficient twin-engined jets, Airbus has announced plans to lower A380 output to 12 aircraft in 2018 and eight in 2019, down from an annual peak of 30, as it holds out for what it believes will be a recovery in demand.

But plans to maintain that rate are in doubt as Airbus seeks to finalise an order for 36 new aircraft from Emirates.

Industry analysts say ongoing negotiations with Emirates will be decisive for the future of the A380 aircraft, which recently marked its 10th anniversary in operation.

Airbus, which has delivered 14 A380s so far this year, has told some suppliers it is studying eventually reducing production to six a year, industry sources said.

The timing of the move was not immediately clear.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on production beyond the company's previous announcements.

Emirates, which held off signing an order for an estimated 36 aircraft at last month's Dubai Airshow, wants guarantees Airbus will produce the A380 for 10 years and has expressed confidence it will be able to meet the conditions.

Industry sources say Airbus appears comfortable giving the undertaking, ensuring production remains open until 2028, though there are questions over the support of suppliers.

Reducing output to six a year would help to bridge that period and support key second-hand values while Airbus looks for other buyers, but could keep the programme in the red for at least part of the period.

Airbus shares extended losses and were down 2.16 percent at 1601 GMT.

Airbus broke even on the A380 for the first time in 2015, when it delivered 27 aircraft. After a clampdown on costs it has said the A380 can break even at around 20 a year and Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier has said he is pushing the breakeven level as low as possible to sustain low production.

The company said in October that any losses triggered by lower A380 production would have little financial impact.

Finance Director Harald Wilhelm also told analysts that A380 deliveries were protected by the existing backlog until 2019.

Singapore Airlines, the first airline to fly the double-decker jet, is due on Wednesday to take delivery of the first A380 featuring a new cabin, following an $850 million investment.

(Tim Hepher - Reuters)

Southwest passenger threatens to 'kill everybody' on plane after being caught smoking

A Southwest Airlines pilot was forced to declare an emergency on Saturday after a passenger repeatedly told a flight attendant she would “kill everybody" on the plane.

The trouble started after the female passenger disabled a smoke detector aboard Southwest Flight 2943 from Portland, Ore., to Sacramento, and proceeded to smoke onboard, Southwest confirmed to Fox News. After she was caught, the woman created a “disturbance” which was captured on video by a fellow passenger.

“I have a destination for this, I have a destination for myself, and I need to go there,” the woman can be heard saying in footage provided to KOIN 6.

"I swear, if you … land, I will kill everybody on this [expletive deleted] plane,” she shouted. “I will kill everybody on this [expletive deleted] plane!”

A man can then be seen stepping into the frame to confront the irate passenger.

The woman, who was later identified as 24-year-old Valerie Curbelo of Sandy, Ore., was physically restrained for the remainder of the flight, according to KOVR, although Southwest has not confirmed those details.

“Our Crew in command of Flight 2943 traveling from Portland on Saturday afternoon safely landed on-time in Sacramento following an inflight disturbance,” said Southwest in a statement. “Our reports from Flight Attendants indicate a customer violated federal laws by both smoking onboard an aircraft and by tampering with a smoke detector in an aircraft restroom. Our Crew enforced the regulation and that was followed by the passenger outburst.”

“The safety of our Crew and Passengers is our top priority and we take all threats seriously. The pilots declared an emergency to receive priority handling from air traffic controllers, and our crew handled the situation onboard until the plane landed and local authorities stepped in.”

Curbelo is currently booked in the Sacramento county jail for making criminal threats, KOVR adds. She cited “anxiety” as the reason she lit up a cigarette aboard the flight.

(Michael Bartiromo - Fox News)

Why Hawaiian Airlines' Response to Southwest Is a Huge Mistake (and One You Should Avoid)

Never use this strategy when your startup is facing a lower priced competitor
The CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Mark Dunkerley, announced this past Tuesday that Hawaiian Airlines is considering a basic economy class--a no-frills ticket for a very low price--fares as a response to the looming threat of Southwest Airlines entering the Hawaii market.

At face value you can see why lower prices might be a reasonable response to an airline famous for its lower fares--but it actually reveals a poor mindset about competition. The best way to face your competition is to focus on your category superconsumers--the highest profit, highest passion customers in your category--to figure out a way to grow the pie, not shrink it.

This may seem obvious, but many companies and startups don't realize their growth strategy is predicated on stealing shares with lower prices or similar products--which often ends up losing money in the end. There are three specific lessons Hawaiian Airlines should have followed--and are critical for all startups to get right:

1. Never lower price if it shrinks the category.

I've researched Nielsen data across 75 categories and found that when categories grow, one percent of brands capture 80 percent of category growth. Trying to grow in a declining category is extremely difficult, so startups should avoid any actions that might shrink the pie.

There are only a few very specific conditions when lowering price can be a good idea--for example, if you can credibly be the lowest-cost provider for a sustained period of time. For Hawaiian Airlines, this might be possible--but I wouldn't want to get into a price war with Southwest Airlines.

I've seen a good number of startups base their entire strategy and reason for existing by offering a disruptively lower price. You have to be more than just a lower price for the long haul. In my experience, only about 10-20 percent of consumers in a category buy just on price. Most consumers care about benefits, too.

2. Focus on increasing benefits, while holding prices constant.

The far better way to respond to a lower priced competitor is to add benefits.

Early on, Keurig faced a conundrum about an extremely popular accessory called "my K-cup" which allowed consumers to bypass the branded K-cups and fill them with their own coffee. It turns out that the availability of "my K-cup" made the entire ecosystem far more popular--it sent a message to consumers that Keurig cared about them.

Most people just wanted the option to make their own coffee, but in practice rarely did so. It was a win-win.

Hawaiian Airlines has a lot of options. The company could "Groupon" a ton of impulse activities like restaurants, surf lessons, or other fun experiences that fiercely compete for tourist dollars. It could upgrade and expand its lounge options for long layovers. It could create refreshment stations at the gate to start the paradise experience earlier for tourists (and extend the vacation just a little bit longer for those leaving).

Startups must remember that the value equation is a function of both price and benefits. Give equal, if not more, time to benefits. Don't just focus on price.

3. Ask your superconsumers what must be true to raise prices.

As I write in my book (which is about superconsumers), these high-passion and high-profit consumers exist in every category--including airlines. These consumers are more than willing to pay more or buy more because they love the category, but if you offer them something they really value.

For Hawaiian Airlines it could be local business travelers who go back and forth across the islands. Maybe they're locals or regular visitors who want a subscription service where they're guaranteed a first-class seat.
Maybe they're tourists who want a multi-month pass for the duration of their stay to travel an unlimited amount on seats that are available. Maybe they're homesick ex-locals like me visiting family, who want a Costco-like club membership that locks in preferred pricing reserved for a kama'aina (literal translation is "friend of the island").

Every startup can find superconsumers in the category they compete in. A disruption from a lower priced competitor might be the perfect time to introduce a new pricing innovation that increases prices via an entirely new offer.

(Eddie Yoon Founder, EDDIEWOULDGROW / Inc.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

GermanWings McDonnell Douglas MD-95-30 (Boeing 717-2CM) (55060/5026) EC-HNZ "Espalmador"

GermanWings leased the aircraft from Aerolineas Baleares - AeBal (Spanair Link) from October 30, 2004 to March 27, 2005. It is captured on November 4, 2004 at Cote D'azur International Airport (NCE/LFMN), France.

(Photo by JC Giraud / Bernie Bianconi Slide Collection)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Boeing delivers widebodies to Middle Eastern airlines and wins a 747 order

Boeing delivered two wide-body jets to Middle Eastern airlines and won a 747 order this week, generating some cash for the fourth quarter.

Chicago-based Boeing delivered a 787-9 Dreamliner to Oman Air and a 777 freighter to Turkish Airlines.

Boeing capped off the week by snaring a new order for the $387 million double-decker 747 from an unidentified buyer totaling 4 aircraft , according to its orders and deliveries website.

The new jumbo jet order means more work for the Everett 747 manufacturing line, which Boeing said last year it might shut down.

Airlines pay most of a new jet's price when they receive the aircraft, but also pay deposits when ordering.

"The delivery of our first 777 freighter is a milestone event in our cargo business," Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board İlker Aycı said in a news release.

The Everett-made 777 freighter is based on the 777-200LR (longer range) passenger airplane. It has a $327.5 million list price and can fly 4,900 nautical miles with a payload of 112 tons.

"We're sure that this significant delivery, which will bring great value to our rapidly growing cargo operations, will also enable us to further compete, expand and reach new short- and long-range destinations from our hub in Istanbul," Ayci said.

Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines' cargo operation has increased its freighter destinations from 55 to 73 in 2017 and increased cargo by 29 percent to about one million tons, Ayci said.

Turkish Airlines carries over 60 million passengers a year, with direct flights to 300 destinations in 120 countries.

Boeing also delivered another Dreamliner to Gulf carrier Oman Air. That stretch 787-9 has a list price of $270.9 million.

Oman's Ambassador to the U.S., Hunaina Sultan Al Mughairy, traveled on the jet's inaugural flight from the South Carolina Dreamliner plant to Muscat on Dec. 6, according to an Oman Air news release.

The new jet has 288 seats, including 30 flat-bed business class suites designed by BE Aerospace, and 258 economy seats.

It has a state-of-the-art Thales Integrated In-Flight Entertainment System designed and developed specifically for Oman Air.

With this latest Dreamliner, Oman Air said it operates a fleet of seven Boeing 787 jets. The new jet will be used to fly passengers on Oman Air’s European and Far-Eastern routes, the airline said.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ethiopian Boeing 787-8 (34748/167) ET-AOT "Walia Ibex"

Seen on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 24, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

KLM Boeing 747-406(M) (30454/1258) PH-BFW "Shanghai / City of Shanghai"

Captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 7, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Boeing comfortable with pace of 777X sales

Boeing is comfortable with the relatively slower sales of the 777X series this year given the state of the large aircraft market.

Speaking to reporters in a briefing on the development of the new wide-body, vice-president and general manager 777X program Eric Lindblad says that the 340 orders from seven customers for the new jets thus far shows strong confidence in the program.

“It’s interesting, when you compare where we were at with the 777-300ER at the same reference point in development of that aircraft, the number of orders for the -300ER was 69. I think actually there is a lot of confidence in the 777X,” he says.

This year, the only 777X order announced was from Singapore Airlines, which placed a firm order for 20 777-9s.

Lindblad says the slow sales are more a reflection of the market, which has moved away from larger aircraft for the time being.

“I expect things to improve as customers need more lift and backfilling some of their fleet plans that they’ve got today. So I feel confident about what’s in front of us,” he adds.

The 414-seat 777-9 is a development of the hugely successful 777-300ER. The smaller -8 variant, with a nominal range of 8,700nm, is aimed at the long-range market.

This means that the -8 will take on the market segment covered by the 777-200LR, which has not enjoyed as much sales success as its larger sibling.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that there are presently orders for 53 777-8s from three operators, while 58 -200LRs are in service with 13 operators.

Despite that poor precedent, Lindblad says that the 777-8 should be able to achieve greater success.

“I anticipate that it will have a greater customer base than what you see with the -200LR. We also expect that the -9 will be our top seller,” he says.

The 777-9 will offer a 20% seat-mile cost advantage over the 777-300ER, or around 12% compared to the rival Airbus A350-1000, he adds.

The first three 777-9s are in various stages of manufacturing, with first flight of the type expected in 2019, and entry into service in early 2020.

(Ellis Taylor - FlightGlobal News)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Boeing focused on 777-8 tweaks to meet Qantas requirement

Boeing is focusing on tweaks it may be able to make to the 777-8 to meet Qantas’s requirement for an aircraft that can fly nonstop from Australia’s east coast to Europe.

Boeing’s vice-president and general manager of the 777X program Eric Lindblad says the 777-8 is the right platform for the Australian carrier, but admits that the manufacturer will have to tweak it to meet the expectation of carrying a full passenger load on nonstop services from Sydney to London and New York.

“Today we have more work to do to make that the right airplane to do that given the Qantas requirements. We also believe that it’s pretty dang close,” he tells reporters in a conference call.

Boeing’s 777X chief project engineer Michael Teal adds that it is looking at ways to achieve additional range from the -8, which is nominally set at 8,700m based on a 352-tonne maximum take-off weight.

“If you look at the exact airplane that we have on paper today - which is not a firm configuration - it falls short of all of their desires, but exceeds many of their desires,” he says.

One option is to increase the MTOW of the aircraft, which would allow it to carry more fuel in the enlarged wing. Teal says however that this would mean some trade-off in the aircraft’s available payload.

“We’ve got to work with them to find what that range balance is,” he adds.

Qantas threw down the gauntlet to Airbus and Boeing in August asking them for an aircraft that would be able to operate nonstop from Australia’s east coast to Europe and the US west coast with a full passenger load.

Airbus is expected to pitch its A350-90ULR to meet the mission requirements, but is also likely to require some modifications to meet Qantas’s needs.

The carrier is looking to launch the extended long-haul flights in 2022-23. More recently, chief executive Alan Joyce has said that the airline could place an order for that aircraft in 2019.

While refusing to talk about timelines on a potential order, Teal was confident that it could accommodate Qantas’s delivery schedule.

“Given the conversations we have had with Qantas, I think our schedule that we have in place today would support the offer we have with Qantas,” he says.

(Ellis Taylor FlightGlobal News)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6285) N685GD tbr N709DS

This absolutely gorgeous aircraft destined for Steven A. Ballmer is captured on a very short final to Rwy 12 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon (December 4, 2017) following a pre-delivery test flight.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6044) N829JV

Operated by RB Aircraft Leasing LLC, this early build G650 arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) following a short flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 4, 2017,

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6304) N604GA

The latest G650 from the factory at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) , arrived on December 3, 2017 as "GLF18."
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Hawaiian using new Airbus A321neos to expand in San Diego

Hawaiian Airlines will add new non-stop service between San Diego and Kahului on the island of Maui.

Hawaiian will fly the route with its brand new Airbus A321neo narrow-body jets, offering one daily round-trip flight starting May 1. Kahului will be Hawaiian's second route from San Diego. It already flies to its main hub in Honolulu.

Hawaiian also is turning to its new A321neos to help it increase its summertime schedule on two existing routes. Hawaiian’s San Francisco-Honolulu service will get an extra flight from May 25 through July 31 while its service between Oakland and Kona on the “Big Island” of Hawaii will feature an additional flight from May 26 through Sept. 2.

Elsewhere, Hawaiian is adding an extra summertime flight on its Honolulu-Tokyo Narita and (Aug. 1-Sept. 30) and Los Angeles-Kahului (June 1-Aug. 31) routes. Those extra flights will be on Airbus A330 wide-body jets.

“We are delighted to offer travelers more options to visit our islands next summer,” Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

Ingram is set to take over as the company's CEO in March,when current CEO Mark Dunkerley retires.

Hawaiian took delivery of its initial Airbus A321neo in November, the first of 18 the carrier has on order. Hawaiian's A321neos seat 189 passengers, including 16 in business class seats and 45 in an extra-legroom economy section. The remaining 128 are standard coach-class seats.

The A321neo arrived to Hawaiian amid great fanfare. The A321neo is a next-generation update to Airbus’ popular A320 family of narrow-body jets, with the “neo” stemming from “new engine option.” The updated narrow-body aircraft is more efficient than preceding models, allowing carriers to fly the new version farther distances at normal passenger and cargo levels.

With that, Hawaiian has pledged that the A321neo will help it open new long routes between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast. Hawaiian also is counting on its new A321s to help it phase out its aging Boeing 767 wide-bodies.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the A321neo into regularly scheduled service for Hawaiian now appears as though it will come nearly a month earlier than expected.

Hawaiian originally said its A321neos would first begin flying paying passengers Jan. 8. That was to come as Hawaiian began to slot the A321neos into service on its existing route between Oakland and Kahului.

Now, FlightGlobal reports Hawaiian plans to begin using the A32neos on Dec. 19, deploying them on existing intra-Hawaii routes. Those routes – Honolulu-Maui, Honolulu-Kona and Honolulu-Lihue (Kauai) – are intended to be “crew familiarization" flights that give workers a chance to learn the new aircraft ahead of a broader roll-out.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

How the Boeing jet no one wanted became the plane airlines scour the planet for!

Delta Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-95-30 (Boeing 717-2BD) N953AT rolls for takeoff on Rwy 25R at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS) on December 14, 2016.
 (Photo by Michael Carter)

**The Boeing 717-200 went out of production in 2006.

**Only 156 of the planes have been built.

**A decade later, the airlines that operate the 717 want more of them.


On May 23, 2006, Boeing delivered the last two 717-200 jetliners to customers at its Long Beach, California factory. It marked to the end of a program filled with promise but that had ultimately failed to capture the interest of airlines. Even Boeing's well-oiled sales operation could only manage to muster up 156 orders for the little 100-seat, short-haul-airliner.

Currently, the 717 is operated primarily by four airlines; Delta, Hawaiian, Qantas, and Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea. With 91 of the planes in its fleet, Delta is the by far the type's largest operator.

Incredibly, a decade after being axed from Boeing's lineup, airlines are scouring the planet looking for available Boeing 717s.

"These guys keep begging me to give them more 717s," Dinesh Keskar, Boeing's senior vice president of sales for the Asia Pacific and India, told Business Insider. "But that era over and it's not going to happen."

So how did a plane Boeing couldn't sell become an aircraft that airlines can't get enough of?

The difficult life of the 717

Well, there are several reasons, but first some background. Even though the 717 carries both the Boeing name and company's signature 7X7 naming scheme, it's not actually a Boeing. Rub on that Boeing logo with a brillo pad and some soapy water and you'll soon find the words McDonnell Douglas imprinted on the plane.

In 1997, Boeing acquired its long-time rival McDonnell Douglas for $13 billion. At the time, McDonnell Douglas produced the MD-11 widebody and the MD-80/90 narrow-body. Soon after the merger, Boeing phased out all of MD's commercial airliners. But, it spared a new variant of the iconic DC-9 airliner called the MD-95 that was set to enter service in 1999. (The MD-80/90 were also variants of the DC-9.)
To make it fit better into the Boeing's portfolio of products, the MD-95 was rebranded the 717-200.

However, that wasn't enough to convince to convince airlines to buy in.

Even though it carried the Boeing name, it was still a plane designed and engineered by a different company with differing thinking and philosophies. Thus, the 717 was an orphan that didn't belong to any of Boeings product families.

"We have the 737MAX 7,-8,-9, and -10. We have a family," Keskar said. "You talk to others and they'll tell you that family has a lot of value."

For airlines, there's great financial incentive to have aircraft of varying sizes and roles being operated by the same crew and serviced by the same maintenance teams using the same spare parts. There's a whole of synergy there.

Even though the McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80/MD-90 still served as the backbone of many major US airlines like American, Northwest, and Delta, none of the big boys would take the bate. In fact, when American acquired Trans World Airlines in 2001, it sold off all of its 717s.

During the turbulent days of the early 2000s, the airline industry was reeling from the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and spiking fuel prices. Which means many of the 717's potential customers were either in no financial position to buy any planes or were dumping its aging MD fleet in favor of more fuel-efficient planes like the Boeing 737NG or the Airbus A320.

Interestingly, the people who did buy the plane loves them.

"They're brilliant aircraft. Anyone who has them wants more of them," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told Business Insider.

And Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley echoed those sentiments.

"It's great little secret. For what we do here in Hawaii, there's no better aircraft built today or even on the drawing board."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian also praised the 717 for its durability and reliability during a recent interview with Business Insider.

The rebirth of the 100-seat airliner


As with many things in life, what is old is new again. As the airline industry recovered, demand for air travel boomed while investors ratcheted up the pressure to lower unit costs. The solution; upgauging to bigger planes.

As a result, Boeing and Airbus both neglected the 100-150 seat market in favor of bigger, pricier, and higher margin models.

While this was happening, another little phenomenon happened in the airline industry, the regional jet. During the 2000s, Bombardier's CRJ and Embraer ERJ made their presence felt in a big way by offering small 50-70 seat regional jets that allowed airlines and their regional partners to serve routes traditionally operated by turboprops with jets.

"Back in 2009 we had over 500 small aircraft," Bastian said. "The CRJ-200 was our predominant fleet type."

Over time, airlines began to upgauge their regional jets with mainline aircraft. That's where the 717 jumps back into the picture.

With around 100-130 seats, the 717 is the perfect size aircraft to take over for regional jets. In fact, Boeing used to market the 717 as the "Full-size airplane for the regional market."

"The 717 is very much about how do we get out of the regional jets," Bastian said. "Customers hated the small regional jets, our employees hated them because they looked at it as an outsourcing of their jobs, and our [investors] hated them because they're fuel inefficient and their ownership costs were escalating."

"Even the regional operators didn't the like them cause they are losing money on it because we had the contracts screwed down pretty low," Bastian added.

With the addition of AirTran Airways' fleet of 88 717s following the low-cost carrier's acquisition by Southwest, Delta was able to drop 200 regional jets from its fleet.

Unfortunately, for Delta or anyone else looking to their hands on a batch of 717s, they are pretty hard to come by. Delta currently operates roughly 60% of all 717s ever made while Qantas and Hawaiian, the second and third largest operators, have no plans to relinquish their planes anytime soon. And while Volotea's said that they will replace their 17 717s with Airbus A319s, there still aren't that many of the 100-seaters out there.

Since discontinuing 717, Boeing has also stopped selling the smallest variant of the 737, the 737-600. As a result, the company has abandoned the 100-150 seat market.

That's where a plane like the Bombardier C Series, now under Airbus control, comes into the picture. The CS100 is of a similar size to the Boeing 717, but much greater range and fuel efficiency.

According to Bastian, Delta's long-term plan is to eventually replace the airline's older 717s with the 75 CS100 jets it has on order.

Two decades after it first flew, the Boeing 717-200 is still going strong. Even though Boeing didn't sell many of them, those that did buy the 717 can't get enough of them. That's a sign of a great plane.

(Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Boeing, LOT Polish Airlines Celebrate Delivery of 737 MAX

LOT Polish Airlines first 737-8 Max (64067/6681) SP-LVA which also happens to be the first MAX for Airline Leasing Corp (ALC) departs Seattle Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) as "PoleLot 9737" on her delivery flight December 1, 2017. 
(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Poland's flag-carrier is the first in Central & East Europe to fly the new 737 airplane

Boeing and LOT Polish Airlines celebrated the delivery of the first 737 MAX for the carrier, ushering the new and improved 737 airplane into the central and east Europe market. The jet is also the first MAX placed by leading airplane lessor Air Lease Corporation.

LOT, the Polish flag carrier, plans to take delivery of additional MAX airplanes as part of its strategy to profitably grow its airline.

"We are proud to be one of the first carriers in the world with the state-of-the-art Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in our short- and middle-haul fleet," said Rafal Milczarski, chief executive officer, LOT Polish Airlines. "We are already one of the fastest growing European airlines and I am certain that this big step forward will help us achieve our goals of increasing our operational effectiveness and improving our service.

With the most modern Boeing 787 Dreamliners and brand new 737 MAX we are the most comfortable airline for our customers, more cost efficient and last, but not least, friendlier to the environment. Thanks to the cooperation with our partners, LOT is again one step ahead to set the tone for shaping the future of aviation industry in our region."

The 737 MAX delivers the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market by incorporating the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, the Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays, and other improvements. The efficiency gains helped make the MAX the fastest selling airplane in Boeing history with more than 4,000 orders to date from 92 customers worldwide.

"We are very pleased to announce this first 737 MAX lease placement with LOT, which is the first of six new 737 MAX 8s on long-term lease to the airline. The MAX 8 offers new efficiencies and an enhanced passenger experience that will better serve LOT's growing route networks," said Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, Air Lease Corporation's Executive Chairman. ALC has 129 more 737 MAX airplanes on order.

"LOT has been a valued customer for decades and we are delighted that it has become one of the first operators of the MAX in Europe," said Monty Oliver, vice-president Europe Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The 737 MAX will provide LOT unmatched efficiency, range, reliability and operating costs all while continuing to provide a premium on-board experience for its passengers."

Apart from the six 737 MAX 8s, LOT plans to expand its fleet of super-efficient and passenger-pleasing Dreamliners by adding four more 787-9s by the end of 2019.

The airline is using the new airplanes to grow its network. Since 2016, LOT has announced the launch of 42 routes, including long-haul service from Warsaw to Los Angeles, Newark and Kraków to Chicago. In May 2018, LOT will launch connections from Warsaw to Singapore as well as from Budapest to New York City and Chicago

(Daniel Mosely - European Communications Boeing Commercial Airplanes)

Delta adds stops to final 747 tour

Delta Airlines Boeing 747-451(23821/742) N666US arrives at Los Angele International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 18, 2017 operating an NFL charter flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Delta Air Lines has added stops in Los Angeles and Paine Field near Seattle to the farewell tour for its final Boeing 747.

The 747-400 will fly from Detroit to Paine Field then on to Seattle Tacoma International airport on 18 December, as well as stop at Los Angeles International airport on 20 December, the Atlanta-based carrier says today.

The new stops are in addition to the Detroit-Seattle, Seattle-Atlanta and Atlanta-Minneapolis/St Paul flights from 18-20 December that were previously announced. The flights are only open to booking by employees and members of Delta's frequent flier program.

Delta is the last remaining scheduled passenger operator of the 747 in the USA, following United Airlines last revenue flight between San Francisco and Honolulu on 7 November.

The SkyTeam Alliance carrier will operate its last regularly scheduled 747 flight from Seoul Incheon to Detroit on 17 December.

Delta inherited its 747s from Northwest Airlines when the carriers merged in 2009. It previously operated the 747-100 from 1970 to 1977.

(Edward Russell - FlightGlobal News)

Niki Lauda still interested in NIKI if Lufthansa deal is blocked

Niki Lauda
(NL Holding)

Niki Lauda, ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of Austria-based airberlin subsidiary NIKI, confirmed his ongoing interest in partnering with UK-based Thomas Cook Group and its German leisure airline subsidiary Condor to bid for NIKI.

The Lufthansa Group has reached an agreement to take over NIKI, but the European Commission (EC) is seriously considering blocking that transaction over competition concerns. If the Lufthansa-NIKI deal is disallowed by regulators, Lauda and Thomas Cook Group could revive their bid for NIKI.

“Yes, our interest is there,” Lauda told ATW in Vienna. “I’m very interested and waiting to see what the European Commission does.”

Reuters reported Dec. 1 the EC, which is concerned about Lufthansa’s dominance as a result of the NIKI-takeover, has extended its deadline for a decision on the deal from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21.

Lufthansa has offered concessions to allay competition concerns, according to Reuters.

Lauda has long criticized the dominance of the Lufthansa Group in Austria. That dominance would become even more troubling if NIKI is integrated into Lufthansa’s LCC subsidiary Eurowings, Lauda said.

“If NIKI becomes part of Eurowings, the market share of the Lufthansa Group at Vienna in the morning peak-hours on routes to Germany and Switzerland will grow to 95%,” an industry source in Austria said.

“We, as the Lufthansa Group, are investing millions of euros into NIKI to keep their operations going” until the takeover closes and are eager to see the deal cleared, a Lufthansa Group executive told ATW.

Theo Thanner, the head of Austria's competition authority, said the EC is well aware that if the deal between Lufthansa and NIKI is blocked, more than 800 jobs at NIKI would be in jeopardy.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

US court orders Atlas Air Worldwide pilots to halt work slowdown

A US federal court has granted Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings’ request for a preliminary injunction against its pilots. The Purchase, New York-based cargo operator had accused the pilots of its Atlas Air, Polar Air and Southern Air subsidiaries of an intentional work slowdown amidst ongoing contract negotiations.

In the court ruling, federal judge Randolph Moss of Washington DC ordered the pilots represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) to cease “encouraging, permitting, calling, engaging in, or continuing any strike, work stoppage, sick out, concerted refusal to volunteer for or to accept work assignments (including, without limitation, open time flights), [or] slowdown.”

Further, the ruling said the injunction will remain in effect until the expiration of the 30-day “cooling-off” period following termination of contract mediation talks by the National Mediation Board, if the situation comes to that.

Daniel Wells, the president of the local IBT chapter in Purchase representing Atlas pilots, said the union disagreed with the judge’s decision and will appeal it swiftly.

Atlas said the court’s decision requires the IBT “to meets its obligations under the Railway Labor Act and stop its illegal and intentional work slowdown.” In the company’s third-quarter financial results conference call, Atlas president and CEO Bill Flynn said Atlas Air and Polar Air had seen a significant increase in sick and fatigue calls by pilots near the time of departure. The company posted a $24.2 million net loss for the third quarter.

IBT Atlas executive council chairman Robert Kirchner responded at the time by saying the company had grown too fast and could not keep pace in terms of pilot hiring. Inadequate pilot pay has also been a factor, Kirchner indicated, causing many pilots to depart the company. IBT said 216 pilots have left Atlas Air since the start of 2017, a 65% surge compared to all of 2016. Additionally, IBT has argued there are legitimate fatigue and health issues among Atlas pilots as the company’s operations are allegedly stretched to, among other growth initiatives, meet commitments to fly 20 Boeing 767-300 freighters for e-commerce giant Amazon by the end of 2018.

Flynn has rejected the notion that Atlas does not have enough pilots.

“[Atlas] pilots remain dedicated to shining a light on the serious staffing and operational challenges at the Atlas Air Worldwide airlines,” IBT’s Wells said. “After years of chronic mismanagement and intensifying pilot shortages, the fundamentals of our operation are crumbling every day, putting the success of our carriers and commitments to customers like DHL and Amazon at risk.”

Wells said the pilots will comply with the judge’s orders, “but it won’t solve the immense problems we face, and we are committed as ever to getting our airlines back on track.”

Atlas said it is continuing to negotiate with the IBT for a joint contract for Atlas and Southern Air crewmembers in connection with the carriers’ merger. Atlas completed its acquisition of Cincinnati-based Southern Air in April 2016.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Norwegian Air Shuttle Is Flying On a Wing and a Prayer

Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal helped Argentina dump England's soccer team out of the World Cup in 1986. Three decades later, divine Argentine assistance might be needed by another colorful adventurer: Bjorn Kjos, the boss and co-founder of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

Kjos has plenty on his plate running a European budget carrier and adding cheap services across the Atlantic. Undaunted, he's setting up a low-cost airline in Argentina to boot. Norwegian is targeting $4.3 billion of investment in the country over the next decade and plans direct international flights between Buenos Aires and destinations such as Los Angeles and New York, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

Norwegian's balance sheet is weak enough already and management attention is stretched thin. The ratio of lease-adjusted net debt to Ebitda and aircraft rent expense is about 10 times, compared to a European peer average of about 3 times, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data.

In business, it's said there's no opportunity without risk, but Kjos seems especially fond of throwing caution to the wind. Investors who've held on despite a 37 percent stock price decline this year, will continue praying that he knows what he's doing.

It's easy to see why Kjos finds Argentina appealing. Until recently, state-run Aerolineas Argentinas held a virtual monopoly, meaning fares there are comparatively high. Without a budget option, plenty of people take the bus or train despite the long distances. Norwegian should be able to stimulate new demand in Argentina, as Wizz Air Holdings Plc has done in eastern Europe.

Norwegian has regulatory approval for more than 150 Argentinian routes, meaning it will need up to 70 aircraft eventually. It will start off with fewer than that, of course. Though it will probably lease most of those planes, Norwegian's Argentinian adventure isn't free. One reason investors have taken fright this year is because margins have been squeezed by the high cost of starting new intercontinental services. Norwegian has to hire and train staff.

There's no guarantee the Argentina unit won't face similar operational or regulatory pressures. While the local economy has exited recession, consumer price inflation is still expected to be about 25 percent this year.

Then there's competition. Norwegian's long-haul services from the U.S. to Europe have already spawned low-cost imitators. There's a risk of the same happening in Argentina. Avianca Holdings SA is targeting the country, as is startup Flybondi. JetSmart, owned by investor Bill Franke's Indigo Partners, is setting up in neighboring Chile and recently ordered scores of Airbus jets.

Norwegian can ill afford another fare battle. The company wants to expand its fleet by about two-thirds by 2019, yet it's already highly leveraged and had only $700 million of cash and equivalents at the end of September.

Ryanair Holdings Plc boss Michael O'Leary has asserted that Norwegian isn't "long for this world," a comment that needs to be treated with appropriate skepticism (Norwegian has pinched some Ryanair pilots). Kjos has proven adept at tapping new sources of aircraft finance. Even so, his globe-spanning ambitions do depend on a wing and a prayer.

(Chris Bryant - Bloomberg) 

Boeing Dreamliner's Lithium-Ion Battery Fails On United Flight To Paris

A United Airlines Boeing 787 experienced a lithium-ion battery failure on approach to Charles de Gaulle Airport on November 13. United Flight 915 was at the end of a seven-hour flight from Washington's Dulles Airport when pilots received a warning that the main battery was overheating. United spokesman Charles Hobart confirmed the event, which was first reported by the Aviation Herald.

On landing, technicians discovered the battery “venting fluid,” with fluid dripping from the forward vent relief system, the titanium box and pipes Boeing installed after the airplane was grounded in 2013.

Hobart would not answer other questions but the Aviation Herald reported the airplane was in Paris for four days and brought to Denver, where it remained on the ground for another two days before returning to service.

Paul Bergman, a spokesman for Boeing said "the plane experienced a fault with a single cell," adding that it was not a safety of flight issue.

This is not the first Dreamliner battery to go haywire in the three and a half years since the plane was released from its four-month, fleet-wide safety grounding by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013. That came after battery malfunctions on two Japanese-operated 787s within two weeks of each other destroyed the breadbox sized batteries and the area in which they sat, prompting three safety investigations.

The Dreamliner was only allowed back in the air in April 2013, when Boeing got approval to move the batteries into a housing designed to contain the toxic fumes and high temperature fire that occur when a lithium-ion battery goes into thermal runaway.

The housing did not change the characteristics of the battery and this most recent event on a United flight is a clear sign that it still flies with an undiagnosed and unresolved problem.

In January 2014, a battery cell on another Japan Airlines 787 vented as the plane sat on the ground at Narita Airport. Later that year in October, a Qatar Airways 787 was forced to divert because of a battery malfunction. And while I was told there were two other diversions resulting from batteries going bad in flight in the first 18 months after the plane began flying again, neither Boeing nor the FAA would provide details.

When I asked again today if Boeing would provide a list of battery failures since the resumption of 787 flights, Bergman declined. "More than 2.7 billion revenue miles have been flown by the approximately six hundred 787 Dreamliners currently in service," he said in an email.

Battery failures on those 600 airplanes are only knowable to Boeing because the FAA previously said it does not require notification; not from Boeing not from the Dreamliner's operators because the titanium housing removes the safety threat from thermal runaways.

Battery experts disagree. After the Qatar diversion, Jeff Dahn, a physics professor at Canada's Dalhousie University told me that battery failures are an indication of a problem within the cells.

“Normally they will do nothing unless they are being mechanically abused or electrically abused. Since they are in the box, they are probably not being mechanically abused, so there is something going on with those cells.”

Now that Dreamliner battery failures have been deemed "non-reportable" by aviation safety authorities, it is impossible gauge the size or the scope of the problem and that's how some folks seem to want it. The question is "why?"

(Christine Negroni - Forbes)

Mitsubishi reportedly at risk of losing MRJ order; rejected Boeing proposal may have helped new jet

Mitsubishi Aircraft is at risk of losing a deal for 40 of the roughly 450 Mitsubishi Regional Jets lined up for sale so far due to the shifting landscape among U.S. regional airlines, a Japanese news agency reports.

The company took orders for 40 MRJs (including options) in 2014 from Eastern Airlines.

Eastern was one of the top U.S. carriers in the U.S. before ceasing operations in 1991. The airline returned in 2009 but was acquired in June this year by Swift Air, which announced plans to increase its fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft from 13 to about 18 but was silent on the MRJ order.

The MRJ order is now likely to be cancelled, the NIkei Asian Review reported late Thursday.

"No comment," Phoenix-based Swift Air LLC CEO Jeff Conry emailed Friday.

MRJ spokesman Jeff Dronen did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Mitsubishi Aircraft USA is conducting extensive flight tests of the MRJ in Moses Lake, in Eastern Washington state. The MRJ is the first-ever Japanese passenger jet.

The MRJ failed to win a single order at this summer's Paris Air Show. A series of delays has pushed back the MRJ's delivery date no fewer than five times in recent years. It won't fly passengers before 2020.

Nikkei reported that the MRJ's development might have gone far more smoothly if Mitsubishi Aircraft had made a key decision differently seven years ago, Nikei reported, citing an unidentified former Mitsubishi employee on the development team who said a Boeing executive proposed using the Boeing 737 cockpit for the MRJ.

The 737 cockpit is used in more than 9,000 aircraft around the world as of 2017 and would significantly reduced MRJ costs for training pilots and mechanics, which may have made customers more likely to buy the new jet.

Mitsubishi executives rejected the proposal, the former employee said: "They insisted on developing everything themselves."

Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokesman Paul Bergman declined to comment.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gulfsream G650 (c/n 6285) N685GD tbr N709DS

Returns to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF9" following a pre-delivery test flight on November 30, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Airbus Says Pitching A350 Long Range Plane for Sydney-London Non-Stop Flights

Airbus talks with Qantas Airways about a plane that can fly 20 hours non-stop from Sydney to London are centered around the A350-900ULR rather than reviving a shorter A350 variant, an executive at the manufacturer said on Thursday.

The comments by Airbus's Iain Grant, head of sales for the Pacific region, could quash industry speculation the European planemaker may revive the smaller A350-800, which had been put on ice after poor sales.

Qantas had publicly challenged Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing Co in August to boost the range of the A350 and 777X models to allow it to complete "the last frontier" of commercial flying by 2022.

The speculation about the A350-800 revival arose after Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told industry publication Flightglobal this week that Airbus was "saying they may" consider a shorter-fuselage variant if the A350-900ULR (ultra long range) could not meet mission requirements.

Airbus's Grant, however, said at a media briefing on Thursday that talks with Qantas remained about the A350-900ULR, the same variant that Singapore Airlines will receive next year to restart non-stop Singapore-New York flights.

"We are bringing in our A350-900ULR which is going to do the Sydney-London mission and we are very comfortable with that and we will continue to work with them to meet their requirements," he said of the Qantas challenge.

A non-stop Sydney-London route that is three hours shorter than current flights involving stops would allow Qantas to charge a premium and differentiate its product from the around two dozen other airlines plying the so-called Kangaroo route with stop-offs in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

In a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Monday, Joyce said both manufacturers had reacted positively, but the ability to fly the aircraft with a full commercial load remained a stretch. Qantas has said 300 seats would be ideal to give it the highest possible revenue and fleet flexibility.

"The aircraft can do it today, both the 777 and the A350, but we believe it can't do it with full payload," he said, according to an audio recording posted on the organization's website. "We do believe that more work is needed on both aircraft to get it there."

Joyce in August said the airline expected to evaluate the A350 and 777X for 12 months before issuing a formal tender for an order, with the number of aircraft having not yet been decided.

A Qantas spokesman declined to comment further.

(Jamie Freed - Reuters)

A350-1000 features automated rapid-descent capability

Airbus has incorporated an automatic emergency descent function into the newly-certified A350-1000, which it intends to introduce into the smaller -900.

The function is designed to simplify a rapid descent to a safe altitude.

A350 chief engineer Alain de Zotti says the -1000 will be able to "slightly deviate" from the flight plan, if the system is activated, and leave its cruise altitude.

As well as executing the high-speed maneuver the aircraft will automatically notify air traffic control of the action.

FlightGlobal exclusively revealed in 2009 that an emergency descent feature was being considered for the A350, which would automatically initiate an unaided descent if the crew failed to respond to a cautionary alert – possibly indicating incapacitation from depressurization.

This had been conceived as a method of allowing the aircraft to descend to around 10,000ft, the typical safety altitude in the event of loss of cabin pressure.

Full details of the system's development on the A350-1000 have yet to become clear but de Zotti says it is amounts to an avionics software adaptation to "support" an emergency descent.

He indicates that its activation involves a push-and-pull input in order to "make sure you don't make a mistake".

Airbus is already intending similarly to offer the system on the A350-900 and de Zotti says it can be retrofitted to the in-service fleet.

De Zotti says the European Aviation Safety Agency's certification of the -1000 will provide other opportunities to enhance the A350 with "additional capability".

He says that, over the course of testing, the airframer has "identified some margins", in systems such as the landing-gear. While the analysis is not finalised, de Zotti states that Airbus should be able "soon" to provide enhancements to the -1000.

De Zotti declines to elaborate, but Airbus has previously pointed to a increased-weight A350-1000 with a maximum take-off weight of 311t, some 3t higher than the current aircraft.

The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines have performed well during the certification campaign, he says.

"Our challenge was to work in parallel with the testing on the ground," adds de Zotti, ensuring that any ground-work findings could be smoothly addressed by the flight-testing schedule in order to keep the certification on track.

The XWB-97 is a higher-thrust engine than that originally conceived for the A350-1000, because the aircraft underwent a redesign in 2011 to appeal to customers seeking improved performance.

EASA's type certificate for the -1000 lists the engines as offering net take-off thrust of 97,000lb (431kN) and maximum continuous thrust of 83,100lb.

The extended twin-engined operations (ETOPS) capability of the -1000 has still to be confirmed.

De Zotti says the certification campaign has undertaken ETOPS-related activity, such as long-range flights and engine shutdown tests, and that the aircraft will enter service with "some" ETOPS capability, while work progresses on expanding the limits.

EASA certified the A350-900 on 30 September 2014 and subsequently approved the variant for 180min and beyond-180min ETOPS two week later on 14 October.

Qatar Airways is set to take delivery of the first A350-1000 before the end of this year.

De Zotti says the -1000 is an "elegant and very efficient aircraft" and EASA certification marks a "special day" for the development team, adding: "It's not something that happens very often."

(David Kaminski-Morrow - FlightGlobal News)

New budget carrier Level expands to NYC, Boston with $149 flights to Europe

This image, provided by the International Airlines Group (IAG), shows the paint scheme planned for the company's start-up budget airline: Level.
(Photo: International Airlines Group (IAG))

Level, the long-haul budget airline launched by British Airways’ parent company, will make Paris its second European base. At the same time, British Airways' said it will pull the plug on its higher-end OpenSkies brand that had offered New York flights from Paris.

At Level, the carrier will add non-stop flights from Paris Orly Airport to both Newark Liberty and Montreal, offering fares as low as $149 each way. In addition to the New York and Montreal routes, Level will fly from Paris Orly to the French Caribbean destinations of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Level also announced it will begin flying to Boston from its existing hub in Barcelona, also with fares starting at $149 each way.

Level’s North American flights will be flown on Airbus A330-200 aircraft that seat 293 passengers in standard coach and 21 in premium economy. Level's four weekly Newark flights begin Sept. 4 while three weekly flights from Montreal start July 2. The Boston-Barcelona service begins March 28, with a maximum of three weekly flights during the peak summer schedule.

The new routes mark the first expansion of Level, a standalone budget unit launched in June by the International Airlines Group (IAG) that counts British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling among its holdings.

“LEVEL’s Barcelona operation has been an incredible success,” IAG CEO Willie Walsh said in a statement. IAG uses all capital letters in its branding for Level.

“Customers love it and LEVEL will be profitable this year,” Walsh added. “Barcelona was always a first step and today we’re delighted to launch flights from our second European city with four exciting new routes from Paris.”

IAG is looking to Level to help it compete with a new wave of upstart European low-cost carriers – notably Norwegian Air, which has expanded with great speed in the U.S. market. Norwegian has added dozens of new routes between Europe and the USA, including some from London – the key market for IAG’s British Airways. Norwegian’s fares on its routes from the U.S. Northeast have occasionally dropped below $70 one way for flights to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

But the growth of Level in Paris also appears to spell the end of British Airways’ OpenSkies unit that currently offers flights between Paris and New York on planes configured mostly with business-class and premium-economy seating. OpenSkies’ Boeing 757 and 767 planes include only a few rows of standard coach seating.

Now, IAG has announced the attempt to operate an airline skewed toward higher-end seating will end by the third quarter of 2018.

“The OpenSkies brand will cease to operate at the end of next summer and all its staff will operate LEVEL flights,” IAG said in its statement.

As for IAG's battle against Norwegian, press reports out this week suggest the company is closing to securing a number of landing slots that now-defunct Monarch Airlines held at London's Gatwick Airport. Gatwick has become one of Norwegian's busiest hubs, including for flights to the United States.

With those slots, analysts suggested IAG could choose to strengthen Level as it continues to push back against Norwegian.

“To date (IAG) has been taking the fight to Norwegian at Gatwick using its BA brand... Level could offer an alternative brand in this battle,” the Ireland-based analyst firm Goodbody said in a research note quoted by Reuters.

“IAG would be substantially strengthening its hand by further segmenting its offering on North Atlantic routes out of Gatwick, with this seen as potentially posing a serious challenge to Norwegian long-haul ambitions," the note added.

The discontinuation of OpenSkies' flights from JFK also raises the prospects of what British Airways might do with its slots there.

For now, "it’s too early to say," an IAG spokeswoman said when asked what British Airways might do with them. For now, OpenSkies JFK flights will continue through summer 2018.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

FedEx is buying up to 100 new flying delivery trucks

(Textron Aviation)

FedEx is keen on Cessna's newest small plane.

Cessna on Tuesday unveiled an all-new design for a small freighter and passenger aircraft, dubbed the SkyCourier.

FedEx Express has agreed to buy 50 of the flying delivery trucks, adding roughly one per month for four years, and holds options for 50 more. The global delivery company is rapidly modernizing its fleet of small planes to stay ahead of competitors like Amazon, which are trying to fly and deliver more orders themselves.

FedEx, whose planes crisscross the globe with your packages, operates one of the largest aircraft fleets on the planet.

But its enormous freight aircraft can't pickup and deliver in every community, so the company uses a feeder network of smaller planes to get parcels closer to their final destination, where they can be delivered by ground transportation.

With a top speed of 200 knots (230 miles per hour), the SkyCourier will be able to haul 6,000 pounds of cargo as far as 900 nautical miles. That range would enable FedEx to fly packages from its main hub in Memphis to locations as far off as North Dakota, New Mexico, Connecticut or even the Caribbean.

While the design is all new, the SkyCourier isn't the most high-tech plane around.

Cessna is using long-proven engines and non-computerized pilot controls to keep development costs down. And the aircraft gets by without some of the standard features of larger planes like retractable landing gear. That saves weight and allows the aircraft to operate in more rugged conditions.

The body of the plane is designed to fit three specially shaped containers that will slot directly into the belly of larger freight airliner to speed up airport connections.

The SkyCourier will fly first as a freighter, but the aircraft also comes in a model designed to carry up to 19 passengers and two crew.

The new planes be delivered to FedEx starting in mid-2020.

Cessna, which is a unit of Textron, didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

(Jon Ostrower - CNN Money) 

Air Canada keeps up U.S. push with six new routes, three new cities

Air Canada is pushing ahead with its aggressive U.S. expansion, announcing six Air Canada Express routes and three new destinations.

The cities being added to Air Canada’s route map are Omaha, Providence and Sacramento. Air Canada will connect Omaha and Providence to its Toronto hub while Sacramento will be served from the company’s hub in Vancouver. (Scroll down for full schedule details)

The three other routes included in Air Canada’s announcement are San Francisco-Edmonton; Montreal-Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Montreal-Pittsburgh.

From San Francisco (SFO), the Edmonton flights will give Air Canada a total of five destinations. It already flies from SFO to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. From both BWI and Pittsburgh, Montreal will augment existing Air Canada service to Toronto Pearson.

"We continue to strategically expand our already extensive North American trans-border network to offer the only services from Canada to Sacramento, Omaha, Providence, and flights from additional Canadian airports to Baltimore, Pittsburgh and San Francisco," Benjamin Smith, Air Canada’s president for passenger airlines, said in a statement.

"As the largest foreign carrier serving the USA, we are pleased to offer customers even more non-stop travel choices between Canada and the US, as well as the ability to conveniently connect onward through our extensive global network at our Canadian hubs on North America's Best Airline as rated by Skytrax,” Smith added.

The new U.S. routes come as Air Canada is becoming increasingly global in its ambitions. Since 2015, Air Canada has announced dozens of new routes to international destinations such as Algiers, Algeria; Berlin; Bucharest, Romania; Prague; Casablanca, Morocco; Mumbai; Brisbane, Australia; Zagreb, Croatia; and Marseille, France, among others.

But Air Canada’s most aggressive expansion during that time may have come on routes to the United States. A series of expansions during the past two years has greatly expanded the carrier's presence here, which the airline is counting on to help feed its burgeoning overseas schedules from its Canadian hubs.

“To many of our customers in the United States, we’re this little secret that nobody knows about; this airline north of the border that actually flies internationally,” Air Canada’s Smith told Today in the Sky earlier this year. “If you want to go to Europe or Asia, you’ve got to fly over Canada if you’re originating or ending in the U.S. That puts us in a very privileged position to offer connections.”

Scroll down for the launch and schedule details for the six new routes announced Wednesday (Nov. 29):

Baltimore/Washington-Montreal: Begins May 17, year-round service. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

Omaha-Toronto Pearson: Begins May 1, year-round service. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

Pittsburgh-Montreal: Begins May 17, year-round service. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

Providence-Toronto Pearson: Begins May 17, seasonal for the summer schedule. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

San Francisco-Edmonton: Begins May 1, year-round service. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on a mix of 75-seat Bombardier CRJ 700 and 76-seat Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft.

Sacramento-Vancouver: Begins May 17, year-round service. One daily round-trip flight will be operated by Air Canada Express on a mix of 75-seat Bombardier CRJ 700 and 76-seat Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

Monday, November 27, 2017

South African carriers Airlink, FlySafair reach merger agreement

A FlySafair Boeing 737-800.

Johannesburg-based Airlink, the largest regional airline in southern Africa, and Cape Town-based Safair, parent of LCC FlySafair, have entered into a merger agreement under which Safair will be acquired by Airlink.

Safair is wholly owned by Dublin-based ASL Aviation Holdings, which will become a minority shareholder in Airlink following the merger.

Airlink, FlySafair and Safair’s other businesses, including humanitarian aid and cargo flights, will retain their brands, aircraft fleets and management teams after the merger, which the companies said would not result in any job losses. The two companies will submit their merger plan to South Africa’s Competition Commission Nov. 28 for approval and anticipate a decision during the 2018 first quarter.

Airlink CEO Rodger Foster said in a statement that the merger is being pursued to take advantage of “opportunities to reduce our combined costs, position ourselves for growth while at the same time increasing connectivity.” He added: “Our combined networks will enable us to connect 37 destinations in nine southern African and Indian Ocean countries and St. Helena. This will stimulate and enable trade, tourism, economic growth and social development in those markets we serve.”

Safair CEO Elmar Conradie said the merger “will create economies of scale that will enable both airlines to share costs, optimize assets and remove systems duplications.”

Airlink operates a fleet of nearly 60 aircraft including Embraer E190s, Avro RJ85s, ERJ 135LRs, Jetstream 4100s and Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX aircraft. Earlier this year it took delivery of an E190, the first of 13 E190/E170s it has on order; those E-Jets will eventually replace all of the carrier’s 12 Avro RJ85s.

FlySafair operates a fleet of 11 aircraft, a combination of Boeing 737-400s and 737-800s.

Much of Airlink’s business is providing feeder traffic to South African Airways (SAA), which owns a 2.96% stake in the regional carrier. “The Safair purchase will not affect Airlink’s existing SAA franchise partnership, which continues to deliver traffic and business to SAA and Airlink,” according to a joint Airlink/Safair statement announcing the merger.

The companies said additional details of the merger will be released after the Competition Commission makes a decision on the proposed transaction.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa unveils first details of new business class

Lufthansa mockup of new business cabin, to be rolled out from 2020.

Lufthansa has given initial information about its new business class that will roll out from 2020, beginning with its new Boeing 777Xs.

Lufthansa ordered 34 777-9Xs in September, 2013, with deliveries anticipated between 2020 and 2025.

The Star Alliance carrier said the new seat will offer a lie-flat bed that extends up to 86.6 inches (220cm) and a design that allows passengers to sleep on their sides. It also offers greater personal privacy, more storage compartments and workspace, and a configuration that will give all business-class passengers direct access to the aisle.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Plane leasing company forced to start own airline because nobody wants its A380s


An Irish aircraft leasing company is creating its own airline because it can’t find anyone to borrow its A380 superjumbos.

Dublin-based Amedeo counts eight A380s among its fleet, and has a further 20 on order from Airbus, but such is the lack of interest in the world’s largest passenger plane that it has been unable to renew its leases, or find new customers, despite months of negotiations.

So it has come up with a novel solution: launching its own A380-only airline. According to Mark Lapidus, Amedeo’s chief executive, the new airline’s business model will see it offer seats to existing carriers, or to potential non-traditional arrivals such as Airbnb. Passengers would buy their ticket through another company, while Amedeo would operate the flight, using its own cabin crew but tailoring the service to suit the client.

“Joint ventures and codeshares are making passengers feel accustomed to buying tickets with one [airline] but flying with another,” Mr Lapidus told The Financial Times. He added that Amedeo would apply for an air operator’s licence next year.

The growing collection of low-cost airlines offering long-haul flights, such as Norwegian, WOW Air, Level and Air Asia X, would be obvious targets for Amedeo. Mr Lapidus said it was in early discussion with a number of possible customers, including non-aviation firms like Airbnb who are looking for a simple way to enter the market.

The 18 most important aircraft of all time

In January, Mr Lapidus said the A380 needed “disruptive” airlines to secure its future, citing Norwegian, and suggested that the model was a natural fit for budget airlines willing to squeeze in more economy class seats. While the A380 is certified to carry up to 868 people, most operators use a two- or three-class seating configuration which means it carries far fewer in practice. On some flights, Emirates, for example, carries 399 economy class passengers, 76 in business class and 14 in first class, for a total of just 489.

“When the A380 is properly configured with 600 to 700 seats it beats the economics in terms of unit costs of anything flying,” he said at the time.

In numbers | Who operates all the A380s?

Whether the proposal can save the A380 remains to be seen. The model hasn’t won a new customer in two years and at the Dubai Airshow earlier this month, Emirates, its biggest client, backtracked on an expected order for 38 of the superjumbos (it bought 40 Boeing 787-10s instead). Just days later Singapore Airlines grounded and stored one of its A380s after just 10 years of use.

(Oliver Smith - The Telegraph)

Rumor: Airbus’ John Leahy to be replaced by Rolls-Royce head?

According to an unofficial account, the retiring Airbus commercial aircraft salesman John Leahy is to be replaced by Eric Schulz, the head of civil engines division at Rolls-Royce, Reuters reports.

The initial announcement on Leahy’s retirement, which is foreseen in January 2018, pointed to Kiran Rao, Airbus’ executive VP of strategy and marketing, to be the successor of the retiring sales legend. However, now it appears that there are more players in the field, as Reuters reports Leahy’s successor to be chosen between two names – the head of Rolls-Royce division Eric Schulz and Christian Scherer, an executive at ATR. Despite Scherer’s ties to Tom Enders, Airbus CEO, Schulz is currently seen as the more likely option.

During his career at Airbus, Leahy amassed deals for more than $1 trillion. The sixty-six-year-old joined the aircraft manufacturer in 1985 and was appointed as the company’s chief commercial officer in 1994. At his position, Leahy outlasted five Airbus CEOs and seven sales chiefs from rival Boeing.

Often called one of the industry’s most prolific salespeople, Leahy significantly contributed to the increase of the company’s market share. When appointed as the sales chief, he set the goal of 50% market sales, which the company achieved in 2000. In the beginning of his term in 1994, Airbus’ market share was 18%.

Leahy was also a key player in the launch of the A320neo (New Engine Option) family, which has become the fastest selling aircraft program in aviation history. He was also instrumental in the launch of the A350 XWB family as well as the A330neo.

Leahy holds an MBA from Syracuse University with a concentration in Finance and Transportation Management and a BA from Fordham University with a dual major in Communications and Philosophy. He is also a licensed multi-engine commercial pilot and a former flight instructor.

(AeroTime News)

Russia may produce MC-21, SSJ100 aircraft abroad

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade is considering the possibility of a partial transfer of the MC-21 and SSJ100 aircraft production abroad, if there is a larger order for these types of planes, RNS informs. The Russian Ministry stated that it will not disclose the details of possible deals with another state until it reaches agreements with potential aircraft customers.

“The partial localization of aircraft production or the establishment of an extensive competence in aircraft maintenance in another country may be an attractive offer when there is a need for a large number of aircraft in this country, ” the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported.

As for now, the Russian government is working on the promotion of Russian civil aircraft to those markets where there is a demand for them.

The Irkut MC-21 is a Russian single-aisle twinjet airliner with a capacity of 132–163 passengers in two classes produced by Irkut Corporation. The first MC-21-300 aircraft took off in May 2017. As for now, it had 175 orders.

During theWings of the Future aviation forum on November 1, 2017, Vice-President of Irkut Corporation for marketing and external relations Kirill Budaev confirmed that Irkut Corporation is planning to produce 1000 MC-21 planes until 2037 as “there's a completely clear trend that passenger capacity is increasing over the next 20 years.”

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a fly-by-wire twin-engine regional jet. The aircraft was designed by the Russian manufacturer Sukhoi and has a capacity to accommodate 98 passengers. Its maiden flight was conducted in May 2008. In April 2011, the Superjet 100 took its first commercial passenger flight from Yerevan to Moscow.

(AeroTime News)