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Ukraine Air Alliance Antonov An-12 crashes in Algeria, 7 killed

Ukraine Air Alliance An-12 UR-DWF (Grd) LGG (RBX)(LRW)

Ukraine Air Alliance (Kiev) Antonov An-12BK registered as UR-DWF (msn 8345802) (above) operating a cargo flight from Prestwick, Scotland to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea crashed on takeoff from Tamanrasset, Algeria yesterday (August 30) after making a fuel stop. All 7 crew members on board were reported to have died in the crash.

According to Wikipedia the airline was established on February 18, 1992 and started operations in 1993.

Read the full report from CNN: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Rainer Bexten/AirlinersGallery.com. UR-DWF is pictured at Liege before the crash.

 

 

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JOTA Aviation acquires its first BAe 146 for charters

JOTA Aviation (Southend) has acquired its first BAe 146. Previously the company operated King Air 90s for ad hoc passenger and cargo charter flights.

The new BAE 146-200 is pictured arriving at Southend from Manston. Manston is being closed.

This could well be the last commercial aircraft to depart from Manston unless the African DC-8 does fly out as per the photo of mine you kindly used.

This airliner was delivered to Pacific Southwest in 1985 as N364PS and was last operated by Flightline as G-OZRH and stored at Southend. It then became N880PA and flew to Manston in February 2013.

The aircraft has now been re-registered as G-SMLA (msn E2047) recently.

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. G-SMLA arrives at the Southend base.

Flydubai adds three more routes, reaches 80 destinations

Flydubai (Dubai) has announced the addition of three new east African routes, bringing the total number of destinations in the carrier’s network to 80. With the launch of flights in September 2014 to Bujumbura in Burundi, Entebbe in Uganda and Kigali in Rwanda, Flydubai will fly to nine destinations in Africa.

In addition to operating between Dubai and these three new cities, Flydubai has obtained the rights to carry passengers between Uganda and Burundi.

Rwanda and Burundi are home to some of the most biodiverse places. Filled with numerous volcanoes, nature reserves and the second deepest lake in the world, the two countries also have one third of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas and one third of Africa’s bird species. While tourism is the largest contributor to Rwanda and Burundi’s economies, Uganda is considered one of Africa’s most progressive economies and is emerging as one of the leading commercial centres within Africa.

Within Africa, Flydubai currently operates flights to Alexandria in Egypt, Khartoum and Port Sudan in Sudan, Juba in South Sudan, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa as well as Djibouti’s capital Djibouti.

Flydubai will operate seven flights a week between Entebbe and Dubai starting from September 28, 2014.

Flydubai will operate two flights a week between Bujumbura and Dubai via Entebbe starting from September 30, 2014.

Flydubai will operate two flights a week between Entebbe and Bujumbura starting from September 30, 2014.

Flydubai will operate three flights a week between Kigali and Dubai via Entebbe starting from September 27, 2014.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8KN A6-FDN (msn 40241) approaches the runway at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

Flydubai: AG Slide Show

Expanded route map: Flydubai 8.2014 Route Map

 

Flights MH 370 and MH 17 continue to impact Malaysia Airlines, second quarter loss grows

Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur) reported a larger second quarter net loss of RM307 million ($97.4 million) for the three months ended June 30, 2014.

The company continues to suffer as a result of the March 8, 2014 disappearance of flight MH 370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.

Here is the complete financial statement by the company:

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 in March 2014 continued to impact the airline’s second quarter financial results with Malaysia Airlines’ reporting a net loss of RM307 million for the three months ended June 30, 2014. Adding to the earlier loss of RM443 million in first quarter, the national carrier’s first half 2014 results stood at a loss of RM750 million, 65% more than the previous corresponding period in 2013.

For the three months ended June 2014, Group revenue fell 5% to RM3.59 billion compared to one year ago as a result of lower yield and seat factor following the MH 370 tragedy. The lower revenue coupled with a marginal 2% increase in cost, principally due to fuel cost for the quarter, resulted in a net loss After Tax of RM307 million after taking into consideration depreciation (RM223 million), finance costs (RM119 million) and unrealized forex gains (RM52 million).

Having lost substantial potential revenue from the popular MATTA Fair in early March and the decision by MAS to impose a deliberate advertising black-out in March and April due to the tragedy of MH 370, more aggressive marketing activities picked up in May and June.

The market responded positively to the Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF) held in May which saw sales increase 29% and higher than average daily sales compared to previous fairs that ran earlier in the year. MATTA Sabah, MATF Penang plus a greater push in all markets around the world further helped sales and restored confidence in MAS.

Seat factor which fell 9.5 points in May to 68.9% was seen to pick up in June to return to above the 80% levels again.

For the second quarter 2014, capacity rose 9% year-on-year based on improved aircraft utilization; however traffic remained the same year-on-year. Consequently, the airline’s seat factor recorded a fall of 6.7 points for the Quarter to 73.7% compared to 80.4% in the previous year. Malaysia Airlines carried 4.2 million passengers in the months of April to June 2014.

Fuel expenditure in second quarter 2014 rose 10% to RM1.53 billion compared with the previous corresponding period due to a rise in fuel price and weakening of the Ringgit against the US Dollar.

In an effort to reduce fuel costs and increase productivity, Malaysia Airlines brought forward the retirement of its older Boeing 737-400 fleet from end 2014 to mid-June. As at mid-August, the Group’s fleet comprised 127 aircraft. Of this, Malaysia Airlines’ operates 88 aircraft, which includes 54 Boeing 737-800s, 15 Airbus A330s and 6 Airbus A380s. The average age of the fleet for the Group as at June 30, 2014 is 5.28 years.

For the first half of 2014, total revenue fell 2%, however total expenditure grew 4%. Fuel costs, representing 43% of total expenditure, was 12% higher. Earnings before Interest, Taxation, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) stood at negative RM134 million for the first half of 2014 against a positive RM258 million in the same period one year ago. Depreciation charges (RM460 million) and finance costs (RM241 million) continued to remain high.

Despite increases in capacity and revenue as well as cost saving measures and productivity improvements, the Group has continued to report weak financial performance.

The weak financial performance has made Malaysia Airlines acutely aware of the need to restructure the Company’s operations, even prior to the double tragedies of MH 370 and MH 17. The occurrence of the two incidences within a short span of 4 months served to worsen the situation further.

“We operate in a harsh business environment of stiff competition from regional and global carriers and high operational costs. Coupled with the impact of the two tragedies which have damaged our brand, the need to restructure the Company was accelerated. The full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH 370 and MH 17 is expected to hit Malaysia Airlines in the second half of the year”, said Ahmad Jauhari.

“Our Company has had to undergo a thorough re-examination and re-evaluation in order to reposition ourselves as a stronger and more sustainable Malaysia Airlines for the future”, said Ahmad Jauhari.

On August 8, 2014, majority shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, announced its intention to take full ownership of Malaysia Airlines and delist it from Bursa Malaysia. If approved, it will put into action a plan to restructure the airline group towards returning it to profitability.

Yesterday (August 29) the airline issued this statement about the recovery plan for the national airline:

The Board of Malaysia Airlines welcomed the release by Khazanah Nasional Berhad (“Khazanah”), its majority shareholder, of “Rebuilding a National Icon: The MAS Recovery Plan” – a plan to facilitate the airline’s achievement of sustained profitability and competitiveness. It also acknowledged receipt of a letter from Khazanah relating to Khazanah’s planned investment in MAS to facilitate its delisting from the main market of Bursa Malaysia and restructuring, and the terms of such funding.

At its last Annual General meeting on June 25, Chairman of MAS, Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, and Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, made clear that even before the disappearance of MH370, radical change was already firmly on the Board’s agenda. The urgency for change, evident through our continued poor performance, was also accelerated by the loss of MH 17.

The publication of the Recovery Plan follows the formal request by Khazanah to the MAS Board of Directors to undertake a Selective Capital Reduction (“SCR”) exercise made on August 8, 2014. The SCR will be put to shareholders’ vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be convened in due course.

In parallel, MAS’ senior leaders have been engaging with almost 2,500 staff at multiple locations across the Group, to hear their views and concerns resulting from plans to take the Company private and restructure.

We, together with representatives of the employees’ unions, met this morning with Khazanah. We will continue this process of engagement with all parties including directly with employees and with representatives of the employees’ unions.

In the meantime, there will be no disruption to our current service. We will continue to fly, honor existing reservations, and plan future travel. The announcement on August 8 and this Plan will have no impact on the current fares we offer our customers and corporate accounts nor our membership in the oneworld alliance.

We are an award winning airline– including having won World’s Best Cabin Crew numerous times. It is our duty and honour to serve and we will continue to do so with pride and care.

In his foreword to the Recovery Plan, the Prime Minister called on Malaysia Airlines, all those who work with Malaysia’s national carrier and all Malaysians to play their part in ensuring today’s Plan becomes an enduring success. We look forward to playing our role and being a part of this effort to ensure that Malaysia Airlines becomes a profitable and sustainable national carrier of which all Malaysians can be truly proud.

Copyright Photo: Ole Simon/AirlinersGallery.com. Malaysia Airlines retired its last Boeing 737-400 in mid-June 2014. Boeing 737-4H6 9M-MMA (msn 26443) arrives in Singapore.

Malaysia Airlines: AG Slide Show

9 air takes delivery of its first Boeing 737-800, preparing to start operations

9 air (9air.com) (Nine Star Airways) (Guangzhou and Bangkok) as we previously reported is a new budget airline in China. On August 27 the new company took delivery of its first Boeing 737-800, the pictured 737-8GP B-1715 (msn 39819). The company hopes to launch scheduled passenger operations next month when a second aircraft is delivered.

According to Reuters, 9 Air finalized its order for 50 Boeing 737 jets, becoming the second Chinese carrier which operates an all-Boeing fleet.

The order includes a mix of Boeing Next-Generation 737 jets and 737 MAX aircraft.

9 air is owned by privately held Juneyao Airlines which is an Airbus A320 operator.

Nine Star Airways also intends to operate Airbus A320s from Bangkok.

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group/AirlinersGallery.com. B-1715 passes through Honolulu. B-1715 is one of three 737-800s leased from Transportation Partners (Lion Air) which are being leased in order to start operations.

 

Xiamen Air takes delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) and Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen Air) (Xiamen) yesterday (August 29) celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 787 Dreamliner.

With the delivery of its first 787-8, Xiamen Airlines becomes the third Chinese airline to operate the 787. The airline will use the 787 on long-haul routes from its Fujian province base to Europe, North America and Australia.

Formed in 1984 as China’s first joint venture between the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and a municipal government, Xiamen Airlines started services in 1985 with two Boeing 737-200s serving three cities. The carrier has grown into China’s sixth largest airline serving 218 domestic routes and 26 international and regional routes.

As part of Xiamen Airlines’ 12th five-year plan ending 2015, the carrier plans to grow its fleet to 150 airplanes, including six 787s. The 787 is the most advanced airplane in commercial aviation and will help Xiamen Airlines develop more point-to-point routes globally, while also establishing the airline as an emerging force in the commercial aviation market.

To support Xiamen Airlines’ 787, Boeing will provide a comprehensive suite of support and services that includes flight training, Airplane Health Management, electronic charts and navigation data, and Maintenance Performance Toolbox through its Commercial Aviation Services business.

Xiamen Airlines is China’s only all-Boeing carrier. In November 2013, the airline took delivery of its 100th Boeing airplane, a Next-Generation 737-800. Xiamen Airlines has a total of six 787s on order.

Copyright Photo: Bernie Leighton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 787-8 B-2768 (msn 41538) is pictured at Paine Field near Everett, WA.

Xiamen Air: AG Slide Show

American and Orbitz make up, all is good again

Orbitz Worldwide has announced that it had reached an agreement with American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) to continue to offer American Airlines and US Airways flights on all of its sites. Consumers should see all available flights immediately. All tickets previously purchased on Orbitz Worldwide sites remain valid.

“We are pleased that our long-standing relationship with American Airlines allowed us to quickly resolve business matters and that we continue to offer a broad range of options, including American Airlines
and US Airways flights, to the millions of shoppers who book travel on our global sites each day,” said Sam Fulton, president of Orbitz.com.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-323 ER N723AN (msn 33125) of American Airlines completes its final approach to the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

American Airlines (current): AG Slide Show

Alitalia to phase out the Air One brand on October 1

Air One (Milan-Malpensa) will disappear as an airline and a brand on October 1. Parent Alitalia (2nd) (Rome) has decided to streamline its operations under one name and will retire the Air One brand on this date.

Air One commenced operations on November 23, 1995. On January 13, 2009, Air One officially became part of Alitalia Group with the intent to merge the two airlines. Air One in the meantime was rebranded as Air One “Smart Carrier”, Alitalia’s lower-cost subsidiary, operating a fleet of nine Airbus A320-200s to 35 destinations in 12 countries.

All Air One routes from Catania, Palermo and Venice will cease to operate on September 30, 2014 while all remaining services from Milan (Malpensa), Verona and Pisa will be dropped on October 30, 2014.

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-216 EI-DSW (msn 3609) taxies at Amsterdam.

Air One: AG Slide Show

Alitalia (2nd): AG Slide Show

Air One logo

Current routes from Venice:

Air One 8.2014 Venice Route Map

 

 

Virgin Australia CEO: “The 2014 Financial Year has seen one of the most difficult operating environments in the history of Australian aviation”, loses $332.2 million in its fiscal year

Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (Virgin Australia Airlines) (Brisbane) reported a Statutory Loss after Tax of A$355.6 million ($332.2 million) including the impact of equity accounted investments. Financial performance for the 2014 Financial Year was impacted by the confluence of excess market capacity, weak consumer sentiment, continued economic uncertainty and the $51.6 million cost of the carbon tax.

Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti said: “The 2014 Financial Year has seen one of the most difficult operating environments in the history of Australian aviation.

“While the Virgin Australia Group performed well in attracting high yielding passengers and containing cost growth over the full year, underlying revenue performance was impacted by the challenging operating conditions.

“Notwithstanding these conditions, it was important for the Virgin Australia Group to complete the Game Change Program strategy and strengthen our balance sheet in order to deliver sustainable returns for shareholders over the long-term.

“Over the 2014 Financial Year, the Group further increased revenue from the Corporate and Government market segment, which now represents over 25 per cent of our domestic revenue, far exceeding our original goal of 20 per cent.

“Furthermore, our success in integrating the Skywest8 business has enabled us to significantly grow revenue from the Charter segment, increasing comparative revenue by around 30 per cent on the 2013 Financial Year. We have also positioned our loyalty program Velocity Frequent Flyer as a significant value driver for the Group, with the highest annual membership acquisition in the program’s history and a significant increase in member engagement.

“The Group’s cost program delivered a significant reduction in cost growth over the second half of the 2014 Financial Year, with growth in Cost per Available Seat Kilometre (Underlying CASK)9 including fuel and foreign exchange halving to approximately 2 per cent – a strong performance given we had lower capacity growth and we continue to invest in product and service initiatives for our customers.

“As a result of several major balance sheet initiatives executed during the year, the Virgin Australia Group finished the year with a total cash position of $783.8 million and an unrestricted cash position of $541.0 million.

“Virgin Australia also re-entered the Australian domestic budget market through the acquisition of a 60 per cent interest in Tigerair Australia at the beginning of the 2014 Financial Year. Over the last 12 months Virgin Australia has worked with Tiger Airways Holdings Limited and Tigerair Australia to overhaul revenue and accounting systems, develop the management team, improve asset utilisation and enhance the operational platform. Tigerair Australia’s performance needs to be viewed in the context of overall industry performance and weak consumer sentiment, particularly in the last quarter of the year, which has a more pronounced impact on low cost carriers. As a result of progress made during the 2014 Financial Year, and in particular marked increases in customer satisfaction, Tigerair Australia is now well positioned to benefit from a recovery in the domestic market when conditions improve.

“While the 2014 Financial Year has been an extremely tough year for the industry, I am confident that the Virgin Australia Group is in a strong strategic position going forward.

“This next period for us is about maximising the Group’s potential, by extracting value from the business and generating sustainable profitability”, Mr Borghetti said.

Financial and Operating Performance

“Total Group Revenue increased 7.1 per cent to $4,306.6 million on the 2013 Financial Year, including the additional revenue associated with the acquisition of Skywest. While revenue growth in the leisure and regional segments was subdued, this was partially offset by revenue growth in the Corporate and Government, Charter and Interline and Codeshare segments.

“Group Yield increased by 1.2 per cent, driven by a change in customer mix and improved access to global distribution channels following the introduction of the SabreSonic system in January 2013.

“The recently acquired Skywest business has now been fully integrated into the Virgin Australia platform and we are seeing positive performance from the Charter business which has increased its comparative revenue contribution by 30 per cent this financial year.

“International revenue increased 2.6 per cent compared to the 2013 Financial Year against the backdrop of strong competition and a particular weakness in the South East Asian market.

“As we outlined in February, Virgin Australia increased its focus on driving down costs during the second half of the 2014 Financial Year. Over the half, we implemented a number of major cost reduction initiatives including programs to reduce overall employment and procurement costs, as well as introducing a new Fuel Management System, targeting 2 per cent fuel efficiency savings by the end of Financial Year 2015.

“While there was a material increase in overall costs this year due to the full year impact of the Skywest acquisition in April 2013, Underlying CASK growth was well contained over the year, with a particularly strong performance in the second half.

“Virgin Australia incurred $117.3 million of restructuring costs11 during the 2014 Financial Year as a result of the balance sheet initiatives undertaken, the completion of strategic investments and the optimisation of the business platform. The business has also taken a restructuring provision for the exit of the two original Airbus A330 aircraft, as part of our program to reduce our future cost base through further fleet optimisation, and has booked an asset impairment charge of $56.9 million, driven predominantly by excess capacity and competitive pressure in the South East Asian market.

“We continued to exceed business efficiency project targets, delivering cumulative efficiency gains of more than $191 million and remain on track to deliver cumulative productivity gains of more than $400 million over the three years to 30 June 2015.

“With Virgin Australia’s major shareholders equity accounting their investments in Virgin Australia from 1 July 2014, it was appropriate for Virgin Australia to align its accounting policies with those of its shareholders and other industry participants. Consequently, a revised maintenance policy in relation to leased aircraft has been adopted which required a restatement of prior financial year results in the Appendix 4E. As a result of the adoption of this maintenance policy, there is an increase in the opening retained earnings and the equity of the business of $67.2 million.

“Virgin Australia operates a very successful Australian dollar designated hedging program, providing a large degree of short term certainty and longer term participation and protection. The program achieved effective fuel and foreign exchange rates during the 2014 Financial Year, delivering a result that was significantly favourable compared to spot prices.

“In order to reduce the volatility of reported financial performance attributed to the hedging program, Virgin Australia will adopt AASB 9 – Financial Instruments early, from 1 July 2014. As a result of the early adoption of this accounting standard, future statutory financial results going forward are expected to reflect reduced accounting ineffectiveness and deferral of time value of options until maturity for qualifying hedges. In the 2014 Financial Year, time value of options has been separately identified from the underlying results in anticipation of adopting this standard. The 2013 comparatives have been restated in the Financial Year 2014 ASX presentation to reflect this treatment.

“Virgin Australia acquired a 60 per cent interest in Tigerair Australia on July 8, 2013, with our share of equity-accounted losses for the 2014 Financial Year amounting to $46.1 million. Despite the challenging operating conditions, Tigerair Australia carried 500,000 more passengers than the previous year, with passenger numbers increasing to 3.3 million for the 2014 Financial Year.

“In terms of capacity growth, Virgin Australia recorded normalised growth of 0.112 per cent across the domestic network (excluding Tigerair Australia) for the 2014 Financial Year.

“Importantly, during the 2014 Financial Year, domestic Revenue Load Factors expanded 1.8 percentage points to 76.9 per cent, supported by a record 17.3 million customers choosing to fly with us.

“Virgin Australia is focused on delivering on time services for all of our customers and we have achieved an On Time Performance (OTP) of 84.0 per cent for the 2014 Financial Year, an increase of 2.9 percentage points compared to the prior corresponding period”, Mr Borghetti said.

Cash Position

“Virgin Australia paid down approximately $200 million in Gross Debt during the second half of the 2014 Financial Year and finished the year with a total cash balance of $783.8 million and an unrestricted cash balance of $541.0 million, up $203.3 million and $214.5 million respectively on 30 June 2013.

“We have significantly enhanced our balance sheet and liquidity through initiatives such as the issue of Enhanced Equipment Notes in October 2013, the Entitlement Offer in November 2013 and the sale and lease back of our Brisbane based office in May 2014. The proposed transaction with Velocity Frequent Flyer announced today will see a further boost to the liquidity position of the Group.

“Virgin Australia remains focused on maintaining a strong unrestricted cash balance and continues to review ways to utilise resources more efficiently”, Mr Borghetti said.

Game Change Program Strategy Update

“When we introduced the Game Change Program, it was a long-term strategy to reshape the airline and establish the Virgin Australia Group as a long-term player in all key segments of the Australian aviation market.

“Over the 2014 Financial Year, the Group focused on fast-tracking the completion of the Game Change Program and finished the strategy ahead of schedule.

“I am pleased to report that we have now increased our percentage of domestic revenue from the Corporate and Government market segment to more than 25 per cent, far exceeding our original strategic goal of 20 per cent. This is an enormous credit to all of our team members, who have worked tirelessly to ensure we could attract this important market segment.

“As a result of the important alliances we have forged and the implementation of SabreSonic, we have developed a comprehensive global virtual network and accessed growth markets around the world. In just a few years, the business has grown from offering around 150 destinations to more than 460 destinations and increased interline and codeshare traffic by more than 300 per cent.

“At the same time we have completed the important process of integrating and aligning the airline operations and brands, delivering and investing in one strong Virgin Australia brand that is recognised around the world.
“Under the Game Change Program, Velocity Frequent Flyer has gone from strength to strength, expanding its global network to over 460 destinations and offering competitive earn and redemption rates and unique member rewards. Over the last four years, the program has doubled membership numbers to 4.5 million and has built the widest retail offering of any program in Australia. Velocity has achieved a range of industry accolades, including recognition in five categories at the 2014 Freddie Awards, the highest achievement of any airline program at these global awards.

“Completing the transformation of the in-flight and on-the-ground experience under the Game Change Program has been a key focus for the business during the 2014 Financial Year, with significant enhancements to our lounge network, in-flight entertainment and catering”, Mr Borghetti said.

“It is thanks to the tireless efforts of every one of our team members that we have successfully implemented this strategy ahead of schedule in a challenging environment. We have transformed the business and our research indicates that we have now established Virgin Australia as the airline of choice14. Therefore we can confidently say that “The Game” has changed.

“I would like to thank all of our team members for their passion and dedication in delivering the strategy”, Mr Borghetti said.

Virgin Vision 2017

“Now that we have completed the Game Change Program, this next period for us is about maximising the Group’s potential, by extracting value from the business and generating sustainable profitability. To do this, we need to increase the growing customer loyalty to the Virgin Australia Group. That is what will assure our business of a stable future revenue stream and enable us to deliver sustainable profitability as the market recovers.

“A few years ago, many travellers were wedded to our competitor because they had no other viable alternative. The Game Change Program essentially created an indifference15 and helped to dislodge those travellers loyal to the incumbent airline group, so that they were happy to travel with either of us, whilst building a Virgin Australia loyalty base.

“Going forward, we no longer want to create an indifference for this group, we want to convert more of them to our loyalty base. Therefore, our Virgin Vision to 2017 is to become Australia’s favourite airline group.

“Over the next three years, the Virgin Australia Group will focus on six key areas: capitalising on growth business opportunities, driving yield enhancement, implementing a new cost program, optimising the balance sheet, setting a new standard in customer experience and developing our people to their full potential”, Mr Borghetti said.

Capitalizing on growth business opportunities

Velocity Frequent Flyer

“Velocity Frequent Flyer will be one of our key growth businesses, as we aim to build one of the world’s leading loyalty programs. Today’s announcement regarding a strategic transaction for Velocity Frequent Flyer is just the beginning. This transaction represents an opportunity to accelerate growth and value for Velocity and the Virgin Australia Group. Over the next three years we plan to grow membership to more than 7 million, further diversify Velocity’s partner mix, increase partner numbers and strengthen member engagement in both points earned and points redeemed.

Charter

“Charter also represents a significant opportunity for the Group to grow and diversify revenue. Our Charter business has had a very successful first year, delivering comparative revenue growth of around 30 per cent for the 2014 Financial Year, from a combination of new contracts, growth from existing clients and the launch of our first charter operations on the East Coast. This business continues to represent strong growth opportunities for the Group, and we expect it to deliver more than $200 million in revenue by 30 June 2017.

Freight

“In the 2015 Financial Year, we will launch a Freight division, which will leverage off our current Regular Passenger Transport and Charter capability. We expect the freight business to grow on a similar trajectory to our new charter business with revenue expected to treble to between $150 and $200 million over the next three years to 30 June 2017.

Tigerair Australia

“Our investment in Tigerair Austraia presents an important opportunity for the Group to participate in the growth of the budget market segment.

“The Tigerair business has undergone the first year of its transformation program, which sets out a clear path to profitability. The focus over the next three years will be on successfully executing this program, to achieve profitability in Financial Year 2017.

“This includes:

Further improving customer satisfaction – Customer experience is a major driver of revenue growth and will be a strong focus for Tigerair Australia, with significant progress already made during the 2014 Financial Year.
Driving incremental revenue growth – Tigerair Australia has implemented a number of revenue enhancing initiatives this year, including a new revenue management system. Further initiatives to help drive incremental revenue growth will be rolled out.

Delivering cost synergies – Tigerair Australia will implement a range of network, operational and financial synergies, building on the cost savings from synergies already delivered, including the launch of the Brisbane base, coordinated pricing and joint procurement of fuel purchases with Virgin Australia.

Develop an efficient operating platform and network footprint – Operational efficiency will be a continued focus. Tigerair has made a number of enhancements this year which will drive benefits, including launching a Brisbane base, securing a new more efficient maintenance provider in BAE systems and reaching agreement with Sydney Airport Corporation Limited about infrastructure constraints at Sydney Airport.

“We are committed to working with Tiger Airways Holdings Limited and Tigerair Australia to ensure the airline has the right network footprint, service standards and cost leadership, to deliver improved financial performance.

Drive yield enhancement

“In addition to capitalising on growth businesses, we will be focusing on other opportunities to drive yield enhancement. This includes increasing our target of Corporate and Government domestic revenue mix to around 30 per cent by 30 June 2017; increasing interline and codeshare revenue through strengthening and expansion of alliance partnerships and optimising our new PROS revenue management system to drive incremental revenue opportunities.

$1 billion cost program

“Importantly, cost will be a major focus over the next three years, building on the work of the Business Efficiency Project. Over the five years to 30 June 2017, the program will generate $1 billion in cumulative productivity gains and will centre on the following:

Enhancing procurement – individually and with alliance partners.

Improving productivity – including increased fuel efficiency, increased utilisation of the Boeing 737 fleet and the retirement of two 12 year old Airbus A330 aircraft; as well as bringing forward our Boeing 737 Max aircraft deliveries from 2019 to 2018.

Streamlining our operations – including the integration of Virgin Australia’s New Zealand operations into the rest of our international business and the consolidation of our long-haul international bases from three into two.
Optimise the balance sheet

“Going forward, optimizing the balance sheet will be central to maintaining a strong platform. The proposed transaction with Affinity Equity Partners and Velocity Frequent Flyer will improve the liquidity and gearing position of the Virgin Australia Group even further, providing additional flexibility and resilience as we execute on “Virgin Vision 2017”.

“As a result of this transaction, lease-adjusted balance sheet gearing will reduce by 8 per cent. The Group profit and loss impact from this transaction is expected to be neutral in the 2015 Financial Year. Over the next three years, we will continue to execute initiatives designed to improve liquidity, reduce debt and maintain a strong cash balance.

Set a new standard in customer experience

“The Virgin Australia Group will also maintain its strong focus on product and service and over the next three years, we will set a new standard in customer experience.

“While we cannot disclose all the initiatives for competitive reasons, they include: the introduction of Business Class on our Trans-Tasman and Fiji services from February 2015; the launch of our first Premium Exit at our Melbourne Airport lounge next month; the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art airport ground experience with the opening of our new terminal and lounge in Perth next year; and the upgrade of our Brisbane terminal and launch of our Darwin lounge in March next year.

“Furthermore, in the next few weeks, we will make a major announcement on our premium product offering.

Develop our people to their full potential

“Our people, and their willingness to go above and beyond for our customers and our shareholders, remains the Virgin Australia Group’s core differentiator in the market.

“We are committed to remaining the most attractive employer in the industry and, for that matter, one of the most desirable employers in Australia. It is our ability to attract, develop and retain the best talent, not just in the industry, but across Australia and beyond, that will see us succeed. Over the next three years, we will be rolling out a range of initiatives to continue to develop our people to their full potential.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our team members for their passion and dedication to delivering the Game Change Program strategy. We are privileged to have such a talented, devoted team and we are committed to supporting their development”, Mr Borghetti said.

Conclusion and Outlook

“The 2014 Financial Year was an extremely challenging year for the Virgin Australia Group and the Australian aviation industry as a whole.

“Given the uncertain economic environment we are unable to provide guidance for the 2015 Financial Year at this time and we will not be providing guidance on capacity growth going forward.

“However, the Virgin Vision to 2017 sets out a comprehensive plan of initiatives that will see us deliver a sustainable, profitable business over the long-term.

“While the current environment remains challenging, the Virgin Australia Group has significantly enhanced its strategic position over the last four years and is well placed to capitalise on market recovery”, Mr Borghetti said.

Copyright Photo: John Adlard/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 VH-XFE (msn 1319) taxies at Sydney.

Virgin Australia: AG Slide Show

Lufthansa Group reinstates flights to Erbil, Iraq

Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines) (Frankfurt) has resumed flight operations to Erbil in northern Iraq. Austrian Airlines put its daily flight from Vienna back on the schedule yesterday (August 28). Flight OS 829 departed at 10:15 a.m. Lufthansa flies from Frankfurt to Erbil twice a week. The first scheduled flight is LH 696 on Saturday, August 30 (departure time 10:10 a.m.). Both airlines had most recently suspended their flights to Erbil on August 8.

According to the group, “The northern Iraqi city lies outside of the conflict zone controlled by IS. According to the most recent assessments, the security situation allows for safe flight operations to Erbil. The Lufthansa Group will continue to avoid Iraqi airspace in transit traffic, for instance to Asia and the Middle East. Furthermore, Lufthansa continues to carefully monitor the development of the security situation in Iraq and is in close regular contact with the respective international and national security authorities. The safety of passengers and crews is the highest priority for the airlines of the Lufthansa Group.”

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Lufthansa operates an Airbus A319 on the route. Airbus A319-114 D-AILR (msn 723) arrives in Zurich.

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

Austrian Airlines: AG Slide Show

QANTAS loses a record $2.6 billion for its fiscal year, outlines its fleet plans

QANTAS Group (Jetstar Airways and QANTAS Airways) (Sydney) is changing its corporate organization in the wake of a large (record) financial loss of A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion) for its fiscal year. The company hopes to attract new foreign investors with these changes.

The main changes is the creation of a holding company that will manage separate domestic and international divisions.

The company also performed a major write down of the value of its aircraft due to currency fluctuations in the past when the aircraft were purchased.

The company issued this full financial report (all figures are in Australian dollars) and its fleet plans.

QANTAS Group has announced an Underlying Loss Before Tax of $646 million and a Statutory Loss After Tax of $2.8 billion for the 12 months ended 30 June 2014.

The Underlying PBT result was driven by the cumulative impact of two years of industry capacity growth ahead of demand, leading to a $566 million decline in FY14 revenue, and by record Australian dollar fuel costs of $4.5 billion – up $253 million from FY13.

In response, QANTAS is driving an earnings recovery and de-leveraging the Group’s balance sheet to shape a profitable future and build long-term shareholder value.

The $2 billion accelerated QANTAS Transformation program announced in February is permanently reducing costs and laying the foundations for sustainable growth in earnings.

Transformation benefits totalled $440 million in FY14, including $204 million of second-half benefits from the accelerated QANTAS Transformation program.

A further $900 million of accelerated transformation projects are in the implementation phase, with more than $600 million of benefits from these projects to be realised in FY15.

To date, projects equivalent to more than half the $2 billion target have been delivered or are underway.

Unit costs were reduced by 3 per cent over the year, accelerating from a 2 per cent reduction in the first half to a 4 per cent reduction in the second half.

QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce said the underlying result had been foreshadowed at the Group’s half-year announcement in February.

“There is no doubt today’s numbers are confronting, but they represent the year that is past,” Mr Joyce said.

“We have now come through the worst. With our accelerated QANTAS Transformation program we are already emerging as a leaner, more focused and more sustainable QANTAS Group.

“There is a clear and significant easing of both international and domestic capacity growth, which will stabilise the revenue environment.

“We expect a rapid improvement in the Group’s financial performance – and a return to Underlying PBT profit in the first half of FY15, subject to factors outside our control.”

Significant one-off costs associated with QANTAS Transformation are recognized in the statutory result, including restructuring and redundancies ($428 million) and primarily non-cash costs relating to early aircraft retirements ($394 million). Of the 5,000 redundancies announced in February, 2,500 have been implemented as at August 28.

At the same time as delivering cost reduction, the Group has taken action to adjust its capacity and network in response to shifts in demand and the competitive environment – while retaining flexibility to make further adjustments if required.

International competitor capacity growth is expected to be 2.4 per cent in the first half of FY15 and domestic market capacity growth is expected to be around 1 per cent, significantly below recent trends for both markets.

Financial Position

Group liquidity at June 30 was $3.6 billion, comprising $3 billion in cash – up around $600 million from the half-year – and $630 million in undrawn committed facilities. With operating cash flow of $1.1 billion, the Group was net free cash flow neutral in FY14.

The Group significantly extended its debt maturity profile through two landmark bond issuances totalling $700 million, with no major unsecured refinancing required before April 2016. Net debt including operating lease liability was reduced by $96 million.

Overall capital investment has been reduced to maximise net free cash flow for debt reduction, while the Group has maintained targeted investment in fleet, product and service to sustain brand and yield premiums for Qantas and Jetstar.

Capital investment was $874 million in FY14. Planned capital investment in FY15 has been reduced from $800 million to $700 million, with a forecast of $800m in FY16.

The Group’s average fleet age remains at a 20-year low of 7.7 years, with 35 per cent of the fleet debt-free. Thirty-one new debt-free aircraft have been added since FY10, including seven in FY14.

Outcome of Structural Review

QANTAS today also announced the outcomes of the structural review that commenced in December 2013.

The Group has identified, valued and will continue to assess opportunities to sell non-core assets such as airport terminals, property and land holdings. Any proceeds from such sales will be used to repay debt.

After detailed strategic and structural assessment of QANTAS Loyalty, the decision has been made to retain this highly valuable business within the existing Group structure. It was determined that there was insufficient justification for a partial sale. QANTAS Loyalty continues to offer major profitable growth opportunities.

No new Jetstar ventures will be established while the Group is focused on transformation. Substantial value exists across the Jetstar Group airlines, to be realised over time.

Since 2012, QANTAS’ international and domestic airlines have reported their financial performance as separate segments, to strengthen accountability and performance. Following the partial repeal of the QANTAS Sale Act, the Group will establish a new holding structure and corporate entity for QANTAS International. This decision will create the long term option for QANTAS International to attract external investment and participate in partnership opportunities in the international aviation market, with a view to achieving efficiencies and improved returns to shareholders.

Fleet write down

Under accounting standards, the decision to establish a new holding structure and corporate entity for QANTAS International requires a change to QANTAS’ Cash Generating Units (CGUs) for impairment testing. The previous ‘QANTAS Brands’ CGU has been split into four separate CGUs: QANTAS International, QANTAS Domestic, QANTAS Loyalty and QANTAS Freight.

After being tested on a standalone basis for the first time, the QANTAS International CGU requires a write down of $2.6 billion. The size of the write down is largely due to the historic cost of aircraft purchased with an average exchange rate from Australian dollars to U.S. dollars of $0.68.

This writedown is a non-cash charge, recognised in the statutory result, with no cash impact on the Group’s or QANTAS International’s operations. It is a writedown to the carrying value of aircraft that QANTAS has no intention to sell and intends to retain in its fleet.

Following the write down, the carrying value of QANTAS International aircraft will be more reflective of the current market value of the fleet, and future depreciation expense will be approximately $200 million per year lower as a result of this change.

CEO Comment

Mr Joyce said the Group’s priority now was to push forward with the accelerated QANTAS Transformation program after a positive start.

“After an extremely difficult period, we are focused on building momentum with our turnaround in FY15,” Mr Joyce said.

“Our cash balance and liquidity position is strong, and the Group’s overall financial performance is rapidly improving. We are removing costs to drive earnings growth. And the work we’ve done over recent years to renew our fleet and improve service has been recognised with a string of awards and record customer satisfaction.

“In February we made a deliberate choice to continue investing in core initiatives for customers in order to hold our competitive position, keep our brands strong and maintain a yield premium in a challenging market. As we transform our business at pace, our airlines are providing better service than ever.

“The structural decisions we announce today give the Group maximum scope to attract capital in a fiercely competitive international aviation market. Standing still while the world changes around us is not an option.

“With our structural review complete, we can move forward with certainty.”

Breakdown of Results

QANTAS Domestic

QANTAS Domestic reported Underlying EBIT of $30 million, down from $365 million in FY13.

Group Underlying EBIT, including QANTAS Domestic and Jetstar’s domestic operations, was just below $50 million.

The earnings deterioration in FY14 was a result of market capacity increases ahead of demand, weaker demand in the resources and government sectors, price pressure in all industries, unrecovered carbon tax costs and an unfavourable fuel cost of $68 million.

In this volatile market, QANTAS Domestic’s strategy of maintaining a capacity, frequency and product advantage over the competition saw it remain Australia’s premium carrier of choice.

The airline held an 80 per cent share of the domestic corporate travel market by revenue, including 48 new accounts, eight accounts won back from the competition, 10 accounts lost and 182 accounts renewed.

Comparable unit costs were reduced by 3 per cent as QANTAS Transformation benefits began to flow, helping close the cost gap with the competition.

Both customer satisfaction and customer advocacy were at record levels in FY14, helped by QANTAS Domestic’s consistently superior on-time performance.

QANTAS Domestic was Australia’s most punctual major domestic airline every month in FY14 and, as at June 2014, had led the competition for 18 straight months – a key factor in winning and retaining corporate accounts.

QANTAS International

QANTAS International reported an Underlying EBIT loss of $497 million, compared with a loss of $246 million in FY13.

The business delivered another strong year of cost reduction, cutting comparable unit costs by 4 per cent, and has now realised more than $400 million of transformation benefits over the past two financial years. However, these benefits were offset in FY14 by competitor capacity growth of 9.5 per cent – well above demand – and record fuel costs.

Fuel price and foreign exchange movements hit Qantas International hardest of any of the Group’s businesses, with an impact of $142 million.

Between FY09 and FY14, competitor capacity growth in the Australian international market was 44 per cent, compared with global growth of 29 per cent. Importantly for the Group’s outlook, capacity expansion is now slowing, with expectations for competitor growth of 2.4 per cent in the first half of FY15.

By optimizing its network and fleet, including the retirement of older Boeing 747s, QANTAS International is cutting unit costs while improving the travel experience for customers. Retiming the QF9/10 services to Dubai and London, for example, has freed up an A380 to operate on the popular Dallas/Fort Worth route and will lead to a significant increase in asset utilization.

Customer satisfaction reached record levels in FY14 and customer advocacy was a record for the year. New lounges were opened in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, while new and expanded codeshare agreements were struck with China Southern, LAN Airlines and Bangkok Airways.

These agreements complement the ground-breaking QANTAS-Emirates partnership launched in FY13. The Dubai route continues to receive the highest customer satisfaction anywhere on the QANTAS International network, with more than 2 million QANTAS customers having already travelled through the hub since the partnership was launched.

QANTAS International now offers its biggest ever global network, with 1,200 destinations available with Qantas and its partner airlines.

Jetstar Group

The Jetstar Group reported an Underlying EBIT loss of $116 million, down from Underlying EBIT of $138 million in FY13.

Controllable unit costs were reduced by 2 per cent. However, these gains were offset by an unfavourable fuel cost of $86 million, a yield decline of $113 million across the highly competitive South East Asian and Australian markets and an increase in associate start-up losses of $20 million. Total associate start-up losses in Asia were $70 million due primarily to the rapid expansion of Jetstar Japan as it consolidates its leading LCC position in the Japanese domestic market.

Jetstar’s domestic business in Australia remained profitable – as it has been every year since launch in 2004 – and continued to play its part in the Group’s successful two-brand strategy.

Customer satisfaction remains at record levels in Jetstar Airways’ domestic and international operations, helped by continued improvement in on-time-performance and the introduction of the Dreamliner on key international routes, including Bali, Phuket and Bangkok.

The Jetstar Group airlines in Asia, in which QANTAS is a minority investor, remain focused on distinct market priorities:

Growth at Jetstar Asia has been suspended in a very challenging Singapore market that saw capacity expand by 23 per cent in FY14, but the business made productivity gains, holds a substantial yield premium to its LCC competitors, and is ranked the nation’s leading LCC. Its performance is expected to improve as capacity growth moderates, with market correction already underway.

Jetstar Japan is Japan’s largest and fastest growing LCC, having carried over 5 million passengers since launch and opened a second domestic base in Osaka. The launch of operations from the second base is improving unit cost performance, as a result of increased asset utilisation from the 24-hour airport in Osaka. With LCCs still holding just 6 per cent of the Japanese domestic market, the business has significant growth potential.

Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific cut unit costs and increased customer advocacy in a high-growth market. The business has completed its recapitalisation, has begun international services and will expand its fleet from 7 to 10 aircraft by December 2014.

The Board and management of Jetstar Hong Kong continue to work with local regulators towards gaining approval to begin operations.

QANTAS Freight

QANTAS Freight reported Underlying EBIT of $24 million, compared with $36 million in FY13.

Earnings were lower as a result of the sale of Star Track Express in FY13, while global air cargo markets remained challenging. However, the integration of Australian air Express with Qantas Freight is now complete and full run-rate benefits began to flow in the second half of FY14.

Outlook

The Group expects a return to an Underlying Profit Before Tax in the first half of FY15, subject to factors outside its control.

This is based on the following expectations:

A target of $300 million of Qantas Transformation benefits to be realised in the first half.

A stabilising operating environment, as market capacity growth subsides.

First half fuel costs in line with the first half of FY14.

The repeal of the carbon tax.

Reduced depreciation costs compared with the first half of FY14.

Fleet Update:

The QANTAS Group provided an update on its fleet and network strategy for FY15 and beyond.

Since FY09, the Group has taken delivery of more than 140 aircraft and retired or returned leases for 80 aircraft, resulting in an average fleet age of 7.7 years – the youngest for two decades and significantly below the average in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific.

The Group’s focus now is on maximizing the advantages of this young, competitive fleet, and completing the retirement of older aircraft types.

QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce said the Group’s fleet strategy was based on clear, consistent principles:

Increasing fleet utilization in the international and domestic markets.

Putting the right aircraft on the right route.

Offering the best experience in every market for customers.

Realising the cost benefits of new-generation aircraft.

Fleet and Network Changes

Key fleet and network changes completed or announced during FY14 are as follows:

QANTAS International

A more than 5 per cent increase in asset utilization by QANTAS International, including the retime of Melbourne-Dubai-London services and allocation of an Airbus A380 to the Dallas/Fort Worth route from September 2014.

Gradual replacement of Boeing 747s with A330s on routes to Asia, with all Sydney-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore services to be operated by A330s by the end of September 2014.

Early retirement of four Boeing 747-400s, as the Group works towards the retirement of all non-reconfigured Boeing 747-400s by early 2016. This will leave nine, newer Boeing 747-400s fitted with A380-standard interiors.

Four Boeing 787-8s delivered to Jetstar, allowing the transfer of three A330-200s from Jetstar to QANTAS Domestic.

QANTAS Domestic

Planning for a reduction in average ‘turn time’ for QANTAS Domestic aircraft to increase utilization, to be implemented during FY15.

The announcement that all the Group’s Boeing 737-800s will be refurbished from mid-2015, expanding total Boeing 737-800 capacity by 3 per cent, along with improvements to inflight entertainment systems.

Retirement of all older Boeing 737-400s (completed in February 2014).

Early retirement of seven Boeing 767-300s, with all aircraft of this type to go by the end of 2014. Current fleet size is 10 aircraft.

More targeted use of QANTAS Domestic’s bigger A330-200s to reflect demand, with a focus on East-West routes to Perth and peak East Coast services.

All of Network Aviation’s seven Brasilia turboprop aircraft have been retired (effective August 2014).

Network aviation now has a single fleet of 12 Fokker F100 jets.

Fleet Renewal and Simplification

In FY14 the Group took delivery of 23 new aircraft, retired 19 older aircraft and returned eight leases.

Under current plans for FY15 the Group will receive 10 new aircraft, retire 18 aircraft and return two leases.

As a result of ongoing fleet retirements and simplification, the Group’s mainline fleet will be reduced from 11 different types in FY13 to seven different types in FY16.

Restructured Order Book

The Group announced in February that more than 50 aircraft on order would be deferred or sold to reflect more efficient fleet utilization and slower capacity growth.

In light of the more subdued domestic capacity outlook and shift to more efficient utilization of narrow-body aircraft:

Two QANTAS Boeing 737-800s, including one sourced from the domestic fleet and one from the trans-Tasman fleet, will be sold during FY15.

A decision has been taken not to renew the leases on two QANTAS Domestic A330-200s, meaning these aircraft will leave the fleet in the first half of FY16.

Five Airbus A320ceos on order for Jetstar Airways have been sold, reflecting the more subdued outlook for domestic capacity in FY15.

Two QANTAS Link Bombardier Q300s will be sold during FY15.

In addition:

Orders for 21 Airbus A320ceos have been deferred by four years and converted to orders for 21 of the more-fuel-efficient A320neos, meaning that the Group has orders for a total of 99 A320neos.

The Group has pushed back the first of its 50 Boeing 787 options and purchase rights from 2016 to 2017, in line with the completion of the accelerated QANTAS Transformation plan.

As previously announced, the Group has deferred the final eight Airbus A380s on order for QANTAS International, with an ongoing review of delivery dates to meet potential future requirements.

As previously announced, the Group has deferred the final three of 14 Boeing 787-8s on order for Jetstar.
The Group retains significant flexibility in arrangements with manufacturers and lessors should the competitive environment or capacity forecasts change substantially.

Copyright Photo: John Adlard/AirlinersGallery.com. QANTAS is now planning for an early retirement of seven Boeing 767-300s. All 767s will be gone by the end of 2014. The current 767-300 fleet size is 10 aircraft. Boeing 767-338 ER VH-OGD (msn 24407) arrives at the Sydney hub.

QANTAS Airways: AG Slide Show

Jetstar Airways (Australia): AG Slide Show

Frontier Airlines to expand in Cincinnati with five new destinations

Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) has announced it will expand its low fare service in the Cincinnati market to nine nonstop routes with the addition of five new destinations— Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Las Vegas, Nevada beginning on October 26 and Phoenix, Arizona and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Florida beginning on October 28.

Frontier Airlines will offer nine nonstop destinations from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Frontier also offers nonstop, low fare service to Cancun, Mexico; Denver, Colorado; Trenton, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C. Frontier began its unique brand of low-fare service from the Cincinnati market in May 2013.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 N949FR (msn 2857) with Emma, the Ermine, on the tail, touches down in Las Vegas.

Frontier Airlines:

Silk Way Airlines takes delivery of its first two Boeing 747-800F freighters

Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) and Silk Way Airlines (Baku, Azerbaijan) today (August 28) celebrated the delivery of the airline’s two 747-83QF freighters. The first airplane (4K-SW881, msn 44444) was delivered last week and the second airplane (4K-SW882, msn 44937) was delivered today (August 28).

To date, Boeing has delivered 49 747-8 Freighters.

Copyright Photo: Royal S. King/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 747-83QF VQ-BVC (4K-SW882) lands after a test flight at Paine Field near Everett, WA.

Silk Way Airlines: AG Slide Show

Lufthansa is facing a strike by its pilots tomorrow

Lufthansa (Frankfurt) has issued this statement today:

Lufthansa regrets the announcement of strike action by the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union (VC) for tomorrow (Friday). This morning – and therefore just a few hours before the start of talks that had been agreed for today – the union announced that there would be a strike at Germanwings if agreement wasn’t reached today (Thursday) on the issue of transitional benefits for pilots.

In a letter on Monday, Lufthansa had proposed today’s talks in order to resume negotiations and had prepared a suggestion on what form further negotiations should take. As per Lufthansa’s invitation, the aim of these talks would primarily have been to specify an orderly process and a timetable for further negotiations.

Dr Bettina Volkens, Chief Officer Human Resources and Legal at Deutsche Lufthansa AG, says: ‘We are very disappointed that we cannot avert strike action. The impression given is that the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union had already decided to strike. It is unrealistic to expect to reach agreement on a new model for sustainable transitional benefits in the course of a single day. The fact that an ultimatum for concluding a wage agreement was issued on the morning of negotiations – even though we made it clear that the talks would initially have to be about what form the further negotiation process should take – is very unusual and incomprehensible.’

Lufthansa and Germanwings will now be primarily focusing on limiting the impact of the strike. The strike action announced for Friday will coincide with the end of school holidays in Thuringia and Saxony. Dr Bettina Volkens says: ‘We will do everything to provide the best-possible service to Germanwings passengers and, if possible, to get them to their destination in spite of the strike.’

Prior to the strike, Lufthansa had already made an offer to the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union at the start of April concerning future early retirement from flight service and had therefore created a basis for further negotiations. This offer would provide all cockpit staff with the option of early retirement from flight service, including in the future.

In concrete terms, Lufthansa’s offer on transitional benefits provides for the following:

• For employees who have been working at Lufthansa since before 1 January 2014, Lufthansa will bear the costs of early retirement, including in the future. This means that employer-financed transitional benefits will be maintained for several decades.

• For employees who start or have started work at Lufthansa after 1 January 2014, it will still be possible to retire early from flight service. However, the costs of this will no longer be borne by Lufthansa, but rather by the employees. In the event of incapacity for flight service, a purely employer-financed insurance policy will still be included for all employees.

• The individual age for retiring from flight service will be raised, depending on the length of service, from 55 for more senior up to 60 for younger employees. The longer employees have already been in the company, the less affected they will be by the increase in the earliest possible individual retirement age. Employees who have been with the company for a very long time are not affected at all by the changes.

• Today, on average, cockpit crew leave Lufthansa German Airlines at the age of 59. In future, the average age for employer-financed retirement from flight service at Lufthansa German Airlines is intended to go up gradually over several years to 61. The average age of 61 reflects an overall trend in society towards a longer working life.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 747-830 D-ABYP (msn 37839) with the special 1500th Boeing 747 markings departs from Washington (Reagan).

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

JAL signs a Letter of Intent for 32 Mitsubishi Regional Jets

Japan-J-Air MRJ (JAL)(LR)

JAL-Japan Airlines  (Tokyo) and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to order thirty-two Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) aircraft, as the next-generation regional jet for the JAL Group. JAL plans to deploy the MRJ on domestic routes from 2021, operated by J-Air, the group’s 100% owned regional airline subsidiary.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has made steady progress on the development of the MRJ, Japan’s first passenger jet, which is scheduled first delivery in 2017. As a network carrier that also operates regional jets, the JAL aims to contribute to the birth of this passenger jet that Japan boasts to the world, by not just operating the MRJ, but also providing comprehensive support.

Equipped with newly-developed Geared Turbofan engine, the MRJ will achieve significantly lower operating costs than current regional jets. JAL will operate the MRJ as the core aircraft on its regional routes, and remains committed to improving products and service quality from the passengers’ point of view and developing more convenient networks. The MRJ will support JAL explore a new era of air travel.

Image: JAL.

JAL-Japan Airlines: AG Slide Show

ABX Air to return four Boeing 767-200F freighters to DHL

Air Transport Services Group, Inc. (Wilmington, Ohio) announced its airline subsidiary, ABX Air (Wilmington, Ohio), has received termination notices from DHL affecting four DHL-owned Boeing 767-200 freighter aircraft that ABX Air leases and operates within the U.S. under terms of the Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (CMI) agreement between the companies. DHL sought bids to operate the aircraft from other vendors earlier this year.

The notices are effective in late December 2014 for two aircraft, and in January 2015 for the two remaining aircraft. This reduction in CMI operations for DHL will likely reduce ATSG’s earnings from continuing operations by less than one cent per share in 2015. Excluding those four aircraft, ATSG currently operates 21 freighter aircraft over scheduled routes for DHL, including 17 Boeing 767s and four Boeing 757s.

Related to this announcement, Atlas Air announced it will expand its service for DHL Express’ North American route network using four additional Boeing 767-200 freighter aircraft owned by DHL. Atlas Air expects to start flying the first incremental aircraft in December 2014, and to operate all four by the end of January 2015.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. ABX Air’s Boeing 767-281 (F) N798AX (msn 23431) arrives in Miami in DHL colors.

ABX Air: AG Slide Show

DHL: AG Slide Show

Malaysia Airlines struggles to fill its seats

Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur) continues to be in a crisis mode. Based on some recent online photos showing many open seats on its flights, The Mirror is reporting the airline is dispatching flights with rows of empty seats as it struggles in the wake of two highly-reported accidents.

Meanwhile a restructuring plan for the beleaguered company is expected to be announced soon.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/AirlinersGallery.com. Both Airbus and Boeing could suffer if the airline is downsized. Malaysia has been loyal to both manufacturers. Brand new Boeing 737-8H6 9M-MSJ (msn 40152) passes through Honolulu on delivery.

Malaysia Airlines: AG Slide Show

The first delivery Airbus A350 is painted for Qatar Airways

Qatar A350-900 A7-ALA (06)(Grd)(Airbus)(LRW)

Qatar Airways (Doha), which will receive its first A350 XWB before the end of 2014, has ordered 80 of the wide body jetliner. The first delivery aircraft has now been painted at Toulouse.

Copyright Photos: Airbus. The first Qatar A350 is the pictured A350-941 registered as A7-ALA (msn 006).

Qatar Airways: AG Slide Show

Qatar A350-900 A7-ALA (06)(Nose)(Airbus)(LRW)

Aegean Airlines orders two more Airbus A320s

Aegean Airlines (Athens) has signed a firm contract with Airbus for two additional A320 (A320ceo) aircraft, adding to a previous order for five A320s aircraft placed in September 2007.

All aircraft will be equipped with Airbus “Sharklet” fuel saving wing tip devices and will be powered by IAE V2500 engines. The aircraft will also be the first A320s in Aegean’s fleet to feature the enhanced take-off weight capability of up to 78 tons, thus enabling the carrier to expand its route network with even longer range operations.

Aegean Airlines operates an all-Airbus single-aisle fleet of 36 Airbus A320 family aircraft including 17 directly purchased aircraft.

Copyright Photo: Arnd Wolf/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 SX-DGI (msn 3162) arrives in Munich with the special “Visit Greece” web address.

Aegean Airlines: AG Slide Show

Bombardier delivers the first 86-seat Q400 to Nok Air

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft (Montreal and Toronto) and Nok Air (Bangkok, Thailand) announced the delivery of the carrier’s first 86-seat Q400 NextGen turboprop at Bombardier’s facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where the aircraft is manufactured. The milestone aircraft, the first Q400 NextGen airliner to be delivered in the new extra capacity seating configuration, is part of Nok Air’s purchase agreement for up to eight Q400 NextGen airliners that was announced on November 19, 2013. Following the exercise of options and purchase rights, Nok Air has firm orders for six Q400 NextGen aircraft and retains two purchase rights from the original contract.

Nok Air means Bird Air is the Thai language.

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) C-GWKW (msn 4455) became HS-DQA on the hand over yesterday (August 27).

Nok Air: AG Slide Show

 

JAL to add 15 Embraer E170s and E190s for J-Air

Embraer S.A. has signed a firm order with JAL-Japan Airlines (Tokyo) for a total of 15 E-Jets comprising the E170 and the E190 jets models, as well as for an additional twelve E-Jets family options.

All aircraft will be operated by Japan Airlines’ wholly owned subsidiary, J-Air (Osaka-Itami Airport). This order is added to the existing 15 Embraer E170s that the airline currently flies. New deliveries of E-Jets are scheduled from 2015.

J-Air currently operates 176 daily flights across its network of 21 cities that include Osaka-Itami, Sapporo, Sendai, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, and Fukuoka.

Copyright Photo: Akira Uekawa/AirlinersGallery.com. Embraer ERJ 170-100ST JA218J (msn 17000314) completes its final approach at Tokyo (Haneda) in the old 2002 livery.

JAL-Japan Airlines: AG Slide Show

J-Air: AG Slide Show

China Eastern to unveil a new “color” scheme on its first Boeing 777-300 ER

Airline color schemes (also known as airline liveries) have been getting simpler (i.e. cheaper to maintain) for several years. It started with the “Europe White” style which removed the traditional fuselage cheat line and replaced it with a basic (boring) white fuselage with a tail design (less area to maintain).

Unless there is more to come, apparently China Eastern Airlines (Shanghai) will join this growing trend and has taken it a step further. The airline will only have its traditional fuselage titles and a simple (less colorful) tail logo. The traditional China Eastern cheat line will be retired adding to a growing list of airlines that have joined this club.

The new livery is seen for the first time on newly painted Boeing 777-39P ER B-2001 (msn 43269) (above) pictured arriving at Paine Field after being painted at Victorville, CA. B-2001 is the first Boeing 777-300 ER for the carrier and the airline felt it needed a new look for this new chapter in its history. It will replace the more colorful 1988 color scheme (below).

China Eastern will take delivery of its first 777-300 ER in late September and has 20 on order. It will become the third stretched Triple Seven operator in China following Air China and China Southern Airlines.

Top Copyright Photo: Bernie Leighton/AirlinersGallery.com.

China Eastern Airlines: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-89P B-5086 (msn 32800) at Beijing displays the 1988 color scheme.

Poll: what do you think?

Emirates SkyCargo arrives in Los Angeles

Emirates SkyCargo (Dubai), the freight division of Emirates has added Los Angeles to its network of freighter destinations across the United States, with the start of a weekly service to the city.

Los Angeles recently joined Chicago (O’Hare), Atlanta and Houston (Bush Intercontinental) in Emirates SkyCargo’s US freighter network.

Emirates SkyCargo uses a Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft on the route, which is capable of carrying 103 tonnes of cargo, and with its main deck door being the widest of any freighter aircraft, it’s able to uplift outsized cargo and carry larger consignments. The top exports from Los Angeles are mainly perishables ranging from fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, chilled and frozen meat and seafood, foodstuffs, as well as personal effects, construction equipment and electrical products, while top imports range from textiles, to perishables, electronics and personal effects.

In 2013, Emirates SkyCargo transported a total of 49 000 tons of cargo from the United States, equalling a 134 tons a day, while it carries more than 940 tons of cargo from the US to various points across the world each week. The top three exports from the US are machinery, construction equipment and electrical products and its three top imports are apparel, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.

The LAX flight is routed Dubai – Zaragoza – Mexico City – Los Angeles – Copenhagen – Dubai.

In other news, parent Emirates and Arik Air (Lagos) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop and expand their existing commercial relationship and explore further areas of co-operation.

Emirates and Arik Air currently have a one-way interline agreement, whereby Emirates passengers are connected throughout Nigeria and West Africa via Arik Air’s current domestic and regional network.
The MOU was signed by Adnan Kazim, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Planning, Aeropolitical and Industry Affairs, and Chris Ndlulue, Arik Air’s Managing Director, at Emirates Group Headquarters in Dubai.

Emirates and Arik Air will also explore other areas of cooperation for the future, including frequent flier programs, passenger and cargo handling.

Arik Air is the largest airline in Western and Central Africa and has developed and successfully operates an extensive domestic route network in Nigeria, and regionally across Western Africa from its twin hubs in Lagos and Abuja, and to Johannesburg in South Africa and intercontinentally to New York and to London from its Lagos hub.

Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft and Airbus A380s.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-1F1H A6-BFI (msn 25609) approaches Dubai.

Emirates: AG Slide Show

JetBlue’s CEO Dave Barger fires back at Wall Street analysts

JetBlue Airways‘ (New York) current CEO, Dave Barger, who succeeded founder David Neeleman, is facing a possible firing by the company’s board of directors. According to this article by Bloomberg Businessweek, Dave came out firing against the Wall Street analysts who have been calling for his ouster with this statement in an interview;

“You want to compare my track record to bankruptcies and layoffs?” asked Barger, referring to the Chapter 11 restructurings of Delta (DAL), United (UAL), and American (AAL) and the subsequent mergers that radically reshaped all three. “Go ahead. I’ll take that comparison.”

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

Profile on David Barger (from JetBlue Airways):

David Barger is our Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors. He joined our board in September 2001 and served as our President from August 1998-September 2007. Between 1998 and 2007, Mr. Barger also served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. From 1992 to 1998, Mr. Barger served in various management positions with Continental Airlines, including Vice President, Newark hub. He held various director level positions at Continental Airlines from 1988 to 1995. From 1982 to 1988, Mr. Barger served in various positions with New York Air, including Director of Stations. Mr. Barger attended the University of Michigan.

Top Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 N571JB (msn 2125) in the Blueberries motif lands at the focus city of Long Beach.

JetBlue Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Dave Barger.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger

Video: Dave Barger and Airlines of America calling for a national policy for airlines.

Atlas Air expands operations for DHL Express

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (New York) today (August 27) said that its Atlas Air, Inc. (New York) unit will provide expanded operating service for DHL Express’ North American route network using four additional Boeing 767-200 freighter aircraft owned by DHL. Atlas Air expects to start flying the first incremental aircraft in December 2014, and to operate all four by the end of January 2015.

The operation represents a continued expansion of Atlas Air’s non-asset-intensive CMI (Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) service solution, as well as its Boeing 767 platform. With the addition of the aircraft to Atlas Air’s operating certificate, the company’s fleet of Boeing 767s will increase to 15 aircraft, including nine operated for DHL in North America and two for DHL in the Asia-Pacific region.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Atlas Air also operates Boeing 767-300F freighters for DHL. Atlas Air’s Boeing 767-3JHF N644GT (msn 37810) dressed in DHL’s well-known yellow and red livery arrives in Tokyo (Narita).

DHL-Atlas Air: AG Slide Show

Atlas Air: AG Slide Show

American Airlines drops Orbitz in a fee dispute

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) has issued this statement:

American Airlines has withdrawn its fares from consumer websites powered by Orbitz, effective immediately. American Airlines Group has notified Orbitz it also will withdraw US Airways fares on September 1, 2014. Corporate clients that use Orbitz for Business to book travel are not affected by this change.

“We have worked tirelessly with Orbitz to reach a deal with the economics that allow us to keep costs low and compete with low-cost carriers,” said Scott Kirby, President – American Airlines. “While our fares are no longer on Orbitz, there are a multitude of other options available for our customers, including brick and mortar agencies, online travel agencies, and our own websites.”

American expects these changes will have minimal disruptions for its customers. Customers can continue to purchase tickets and all options for travel on American and US Airways through aa.com and usairways.com. American and US Airways fares are also available through reservations agents and other travel agencies.

Tickets already purchased through Orbitz websites remain valid for travel, but changes to reservations must be made through each airline’s reservations department.

Copyright Photo: Andi Hiltl/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-323 ER N350AN (msn 33089) lands in Zurich.

American Airlines: AG Slide Show

Royal Jordanian takes delivery of the first Boeing 787

Royal Jordanian Airlines (Amman) and Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) yesterday (August 26) celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 787 Dreamliner. The airplane will play a central role in the Amman-based airline’s strategic plan for fleet modernization. Royal Jordanian acquired this airplane through leasing company AerCap.

With this delivery, Royal Jordanian becomes only the second airline in the Middle East to operate the 787.

The airline will configure its Dreamliner to carry 24 passengers in business class and 246 in economy class.

To support Royal Jordanian’s Dreamliners, Boeing is providing a comprehensive suite of support and services through its Commercial Aviation Services business. Royal Jordanian has received flight and maintenance training and will be using Airplane Health Management, a diagnostic and predictive capability that evaluates airplane operations data while airplanes are in flight and notifies ground crews of potential maintenance issues; a Rotable Exchange Program that provides a dedicated pool of high-value, mission-critical parts and manages inventory at a reduced cost; and Maintenance Performance Toolbox, a digital real-time-information tool that enables quick resolution of airplane maintenance issues.

Royal Jordanian currently flies a network of over 50 global destinations and plans to deploy the Dreamliner on services to North American destinations as well as to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

To date, more than 180 Dreamliners have been delivered to 20 customers worldwide.

Copyright Photo: Royal S. King/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner JY-BAA (msn 37983) lands at Paine Field on a test flight.

Royal Jordanian: AG Slide Show

Norwegian Air International calls on the DOT to grant its application

Norwegian Air International (subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle) (Norwegian Long Haul) (Dublin) today (August 26) filed its reply to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) notice of August 4, 2014 requesting comments on the meeting between the U.S. Government and the European Commission. Norwegian Air International urges the Department to grant its application for an exemption and a foreign air carrier permit without further delay.

Norwegian Air International is joined by many supporters, who have also filed in support of its application, including the Irish Aviation Authority, U.S. Travel Association, American Society of Travel Agents, European Low Fares Airline Association, the Oakland, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport authorities, Federal Express, and Atlas Air. The American public deserves more choice and lower fare options for flights between the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. economy will benefit from the increased tourism, and Norwegian’s fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners—the largest of any European airline—represents thousands of jobs at Boeing and Boeing’s suppliers throughout the U.S.

In the Notice, the Department summarized the views of the European Commission that a party to the Open Skies Agreement cannot unilaterally deny an airline’s application based on the so-called “social dimension” article of the agreement. “The Commission’s position echoes what we have been saying from the beginning, and we trust that the clear views of the Commission answer once and for all our opponent’s objections in this regard,” said Asgeir Nyseth, CEO of Norwegian Air International. “We look forward to the Department approving our application so that we can enjoy the same rights afforded to every other European airline serving the U.S. market – rights guaranteed to us under the Open Skies Agreement.”

As described in its prior filings, Norwegian Air International promises to offer the American public competitive fares, award-winning service that is responsive to market preferences and demand, and increased service to previously-underserved markets. Norwegian Air International’s support for the U.S. aviation industry is evidenced by its multibillion-dollar commitment to Boeing, its hiring of hundreds of U.S.-based cabin crew, and its support for hundreds of jobs at U.S. airports and the communities it will serve. It will provide new competition for Americans flying to Europe in a market that is dominated by three immunized airline alliances that currently control nearly 90 percent of the market.

The public interest in promoting service authorized by the Open Skies Agreement strongly supports the grant of Norwegian Air International’s application. The grant of the application will enable the Department to protect the important opportunities made available to U.S. carriers by the European parties to the Open Skies Agreement. It will afford an airline of Ireland, one of America’s closest partners in Europe, access to route authority it fully deserves under the Open Skies Agreement.

Open Skies has succeeded beyond all expectations, and it has done so because America made a principled decision to focus on fostering competition and new opportunities, not on protecting the existing market shares of a small number of incumbent carriers that already dominate the market. Three former Secretaries of Transportation — Andrew Card, Norman Mineta, and Mary Peters — have confirmed that these guiding principles of breaking down barriers and increasing competition are the core values the U.S. has sought to promote in open skies agreements. “If the Department wishes to stay the successful course of Open Skies, and promote a pro-growth, pro-competition, pro-consumer policy, the Department should grant Norwegian Air International’s application without further delay,” Norwegian International stated in today’s filing.

Over six months after Norwegian Air International completed its application, and with a regulatory docket filled with hundreds of pages of pleadings, the Department must now make a decision. It is time to let Norwegian Air International fly, and give consumers the choice they deserve.

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. Norwegian Long Haul’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner EI-LNE (msn 34796) with Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on the tail holds short of the runway at London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW).

Norwegian: AG Slide Show

IAM files for mediation at Southwest Airlines

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has issued this statement against Southwest Airlines (Dallas):

After more than two years of direct talks with Southwest Airlines, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced it will file for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees contract negotiations in the airline industry.

“Southwest earned nearly a billion dollars last year, is on pace to report a larger profit for this year, has the most productive workforce in the airline industry and yet refuses to offer any real improvements,” said IAM District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “Management is hell-bent to move to a risky variable compensation system as opposed to offering guaranteed wage increases. It’s clear this is a numbers oriented airline instead of a people oriented airline.”

Coupled with Southwest’s deteriorating labor relations, the carrier’s operational performance has plummeted. The carrier has among the worst on-time arrival rate in the airline industry, it ranks among the bottom in mishandled baggage and hovers at the top of the airline industry in denied boardings.

“Southwest has merged its way to super-profits and is doing everything it can to stonewall its employees from sharing fairly in the success they’ve worked so hard to create,” continued Higginbotham. “This is greed, pure and simple and the IAM will not stand for it.”

If the IAM’s application for federal mediation is granted by the NMB, the agency then begins the process of attempting to resolve the differences between the parties via mediated discussions. If no agreement can be reached through mediation, the Railway Labor Act (RLA)—the federal law that governs collective bargaining in the airline industry—has several mechanisms to bring both sides together, including arbitration and a possible strike.

The IAM represents approximately 6,000 passenger service and reservation agents at the carrier and has never before had to utilize the NMB’s mediation services to achieve an agreement with Southwest.

The IAM represents over 100,000 workers in the airline and railroad sectors and is the largest transportation union in North America.

Meanwhile Southwest issued this statement about “listening” to its internal and external customers through a new “Listening Center”:

On August 26 Southwest Airlines unveiled a Listening Center devoted to engaging with Employees and Customers in real time. Located at Southwest Airlines Headquarters in Dallas, the Listening Center is the first of its kind in the domestic airline industry. It serves as the airline’s nerve center, integrating traditional media, social media, and operational data to allow various functions to move quickly and efficiently from insight to action.

The Listening Center is staffed seven days a week with Southwest Employees from the Customer Relations, Communication, and Marketing departments. The Employees are available around the clock to answer questions, engage with Customers, and share feedback across the organization to enhance the Customer experience.

“The Listening Center symbolizes our commitment to listening to our internal and external Customers, and taking that feedback to make smarter business decisions,” said Linda Rutherford, Vice President Communication & Outreach at Southwest Airlines. “As we continue to evolve as a social business, we’ll connect with our Employees and Customers in ways that are meaningful to them.”

The Listening Center works closely with Southwest’s Network Operations Control center (NOC), and has staffed a satellite Listening Center within the heart of the NOC to relay real-time feedback from Customers as operational challenges arise. The satellite Listening Center allows Employees on the Social Media Team to proactively communicate with Customers as operational updates become available.

“The best companies are innovating at the speed of the customer,” said Scott McCorkle, chief executive officer, Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. “Utilizing our technology, Southwest Airlines is connecting with their customers to deliver a phenomenal customer experience.”

Southwest Airlines is regarded as a pioneer in the social media space and has been recognized in many ways for embracing social technologies. The Nuts About Southwest Blog is a PR News Hall of Fame inductee, and many social media campaigns and Social Media Team members have been awarded best-in-class recognitions.

The Listening center was designed by Corgan and built by Structure Tone. The visualizations displayed within the facility are powered by Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud’s Radian6 Command Center and Crowd Reactive. The technology allows Southwest to quickly identify hot topics, influencers, trends, and consumer-generated media.

Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8H4 N8305E (msn 36683) touches down in Las Vgeas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

United Airlines to offer Newark-Sarasota/Bradenton flights this winter and spring

United Airlines (Chicago) will offer seasonal service to Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida (SRQ) this winter and spring from February 12 through May 15 from its Newark hub. The temporary route will be operated with 154-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft according to News 13. United currently serves SRQ with year-round daily service to Chicago (O’Hare).

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-824 N78509 (msn 31638) arrives in Toronto (Pearson).

United Airlines (current): AG Slide Show

PEOPLExpress is coming to Orlando on October 16

PEOPLExpress (Vision Airlines) 737-400 N745VA (14)(Apr)(Peoplexpress)(LRW)

PEOPLExpress Airlines (2nd) (Vision Airlines) (Newport News/Williamsburg) has announced new, nonstop service between Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and Orlando International Airport effective on October 16.

The popular Florida destination will be the eighth city served from its Newport News base and the first new city since PEOPLExpress announced its initial destinations in May.

PEOPLExpress launched service June 30 to Newark, New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh from Newport News and has since added West Palm Beach, Florida, and Atlanta. Service to New Orleans starts on August 28 with St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida, on August 29 to complete its initial growth.

Since its inaugural flights, PEOPLExpress has carried nearly 40,000 customers on more than 450 flights.

Service to Orlando begins on October 16 with flights on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Introductory fares start at $89 each way. Reservations are now open for the new route.

Copyright Photo: PEOPLExpress. Operated by Vision Airlines, Boeing 737-405 N745VA (msn 24271) is now being operated in PEOPLExpress (2nd) colors.

Expanded Route Map:

PEOPLExpress (2nd) 8.2014 Route Map

 

Frontier Airlines adds more routes from Chicago O’Hare and more service from Cleveland

Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) has announced it will again expand its flights from Chicago O’Hare to Phoenix, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah as well as between Memphis, Tennessee and Dallas/Ft.Worth, Texas effective October 26.

Frontier Airlines will now 12 cities from Chicago O’Hare and three destinations from Memphis International Airport.

Following is the schedule for Frontier’s new nonstop service (all effective October 26):

Chicago-O’Hare to Phoenix is daily with Airbus A320s

Chicago-O’Hare to Salt Lake is daily with A320s

Dallas/Ft. Worth to Memphis is operated except Saturdays with Airbus A319s

Additionally Frontier Airlines is again expanding its service to and from Cleveland with more flights to recently launched including Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona, Orlando, Florida and Fort Myers, Florida beginning on October 26.

Beginning October 26, service from Cleveland will increase as follows:

Las Vegas – increase from flights twice weekly to daily service

Phoenix – increase from twice weekly to four flights a week

Orlando – increase from daily flights to twelve times per a week

Fort Myers – increase from four flights per week to six times per week, and in December increase to daily service

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N204FR (msn 2325) with Freedom, the Bald Eagle, on the tail taxies at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Frontier Airlines: AG Slide Show

QANTAS’ passengers will be able to use personal electronic devices starting tomorrow

QANTAS Airways (Sydney) today issued this statement:

From tomorrow afternoon QANTAS customers will be able to use their personal electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and music players in flight mode, for the duration of each flight, providing uninterrupted access to work and entertainment.

QANTAS was approved to revise its personal electronic device policy by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority today following new guidance on the safe use of personal electronic devices inflight.

Advice for customers:

Devices can be used whether passengers are boarding via aerobridge or transiting across tarmac.

Once aircraft doors are closed for departure, devices will need to be in ‘flight mode’.

Customers are required to secure handheld devices by holding them or placing them in a seat pocket during taxi, take-off and landing. Larger items such as laptops will still need to be stowed.

Customers are still required to listen to all inflight safety briefings and comply with cabin crew instructions.

Mobile and smart phones will still not be able to be used to make calls or send texts from the air.

QANTAS plans to lift restrictions on electronic devices across the entire QANTAS Group for regional, domestic and international flights.

QANTAS Link and Jetstar Airways are in the final stages of preparing their submission to CASA for the extended use of personal electronic devices.

The changes to CASA’s ruling on personal electronic devices inflight follows an announcement by the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October last year that it would allow passengers to leave their electronic devices on through all phases of flight if individual airlines could prove that it did not interfere with the operation of the aircraft.

Experts from airlines, aircraft manufacturers, passenger groups, pilot associations, flight attendants, and mobile services have since been investigating the impact of personal electronic devices inflight.

Until today, devices in Australia were required to remain off until the seatbelt sign turned off, meaning passengers were unable to use them while the aircraft was taxiing to the runway or through much of the climb or descent.

In addition, QANTAS is working towards enabling customers to use their own devices to access 350 hours of on-demand entertainment from gate to gate on selected Domestic and International aircraft. Initially this functionality would encompass Apple devices including iPads and iPhones, followed by laptops and Android devices at a later stage.

Customers would only need to download a Q Streaming app to their device, or connect via their browser to the Q Streaming Inflight Entertainment network to access movies, TV shows and music. Qantas will continue to offer complimentary tablets for customers to access Q Streaming on a number of aircraft types.

The new policy will apply to all QANTAS Domestic and QANTAS International flights from 3:00pm tomorrow (August 26).

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-838 VH-VXS (msn 33725) prepares to taxi from the gate at Denpasar on the island of Bali, Indonesia.

QANTAS Airways: AG Slide Show

Pegasus Airlines slips into the red for the first half of 2014

Pegasus Airlines (flypgs.com) (Istanbul) slipped into the red, reporting a net loss of TL 17.9 million ($8.2 million) for the first half of 2014. This unfavorably compares to a net profit of TL 44.1 million ($20.2 million) for the same period a year ago.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Top Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com (others by Pegasus). Boeing 737-82R TC-CPG (msn 40880) approaches the runway at EuroAirport.

Pegasus logo

 

Pegasus 737-800 Tails (Pegasus)(LR)

Pegasus Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

Aeroflot to return to Tbilisi, Georgia

Aeroflot Russian Airlines (Moscow) on October 26 will resume service to Tbilisi, Georgia from Moscow (Sheremetyevo). The resumed route will be operated on a daily basis with Airbus A320 aircraft per Airline Route.

On the financial side, Aeroflot has reported on its first half results: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 VP-BWH (msn 2151) approaches the runway at London (Heathrow).

Aeroflot: AG Slide Show

 

EuroLOT to start four new routes from Warsaw

EuroLOT (eurolot.com) (Warsaw) will start four new routes from Warsaw on October 26; Chisinau, Cluj/Napoca (October 27), Stuttgart and Zagreb per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) SP-EQI (msn 4442) arrives in Zurich.

EuroLOT: AG Slide Show

eurolot.com logo

Routes from Warsaw:

EuroLOT 8.2014 WAW Route Map

 

BOC Aviation orders 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 30 Next-Generation 737-800s and two 777-300ERs

BOC Aviation logo

Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) announced today an order by BOC Aviation for 50 737 MAX 8s, 30 Next-Generation 737-800s and two 777-300ERs (Extended Range). The order, valued at $8.8 billion at list prices, is the largest in BOC Aviation’s 20-year history and part of the Singapore-based leasing company’s effort to grow its portfolio of fuel-efficient airplanes.

 

Swiss to drop the Zurich-Kiev route on October 1

Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich) will drop the Zurich-Kiev route on October 1. It currently operates five flights a week with Airbus A320 family aircraft.

The airline issued this short statement:

Swiss will be withdrawing its present Zurich-Kiev service with effect from October 1. The service is being terminated for economic reasons, as business on the route has failed to develop in line with expectations. The service was introduced in the 2013/14 winter schedules.

Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner/AirlinersGallery.com. Up-close action. Airbus A320-214 HB-JLT (msn 5518) with Sharklets touches down on the runway at the Zurich hub.

Swiss: AG Slide Show

LAN Airlines continues to expand Boeing 787 operations

LAN Airlines (Santiago) continues to expand its 247-seat Boeing 787 operations. As previously reported, daily Santiago-Miami service was inaugurated on August 9 as well as weekly 787 flights to Cancun and Punta Cana also on August 9.

Santiago-Mexico City 787 service will start now on December 11 (delayed from November 15) on alternating days.

Santiago-Sao Paulo (Guarulhos) flights start on October 1 (three days a week) and daily starting in November).

Finally daily Santiago-Los Angeles service starts on October 1.

The company continues to operate the 787 to Buenos Aires, Madrid and Frankfurt as well as New York (JFK).

In financial news, the LATAM Airlines Group reported a net loss of $58.9 million for the second quarter, reduced from a net loss of $329.8 million in the same quarter a year ago. According to the group, “results this quarter were negatively affected by reduced passenger and cargo demand during the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament held in Brazil, as well as by very week seed exports in the cargo business.”

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Nick Dean/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 787-8 CC-BBB (msn 38466) taxies at Paine Field near Everett before the hand over to the carrier.

LAN Airlines (Chile): AG Slide Show

 

Jay Selman’s An Inside Look: Farewell to 406

Guest Editor Jay Selman

Guest Editor Jay Selman

Farewell to 406

by Guest Editor Jay Selman

In over 50 years, I have lost count of how many airplane flights I have taken. I’ve flown on airliners, military airplanes, corporate jets, private aircraft, and helicopters. I’ve flown in just about every airliner from the Comet to the Concorde. I’ve flown from Greensboro, North Carolina to Winston-Salem, a 7-minute (maybe) hop, and I’ve flown from New York to Hong Kong. I’m saying this to say that I have taken some memorable flights, but the vast majority of the airplanes I’ve flown in don’t stick in my mind.

One flight that I do vividly remember occurred on September 15, 1988, when I flew on N406US (man 23876), from Boeing Field in Seattle to Greensboro, North Carolina. 406 was a Piedmont Airlines Boeing 737-401, just one of well over 12,000 737s that have been built or are on order. What made it special was the fact that it was the first 737-400 in the world to be delivered to a customer, and I was privileged to be on that delivery flight, 26 years ago.

Piedmont 737-400 N406US (88-1st 737-400)(Grd) BFI (JET)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jim “Jet” Thompson. Boeing 737-401 N406US is towed out at Boeing Field on a cloudy Seattle day with a special “First Boeing 737-400″ banner.

Piedmont was one of the early operators of the 737-300, a vastly-upgraded version of the venerable 737-200. Powered by a pair of CFM-56 engines, the 737-300 represented a tremendous advantage in terms of economy, power, and lowered noise levels inside and outside the cabin. The -300 was an immediate hit with airlines and passengers. A year after the first -300 entered service, Boeing offered the -400, featuring a 10-foot fuselage stretch over the -300. Needing a replacement for its fleet of aging 727-200s, Piedmont became the launch customer for the -400, with an initial order for 25. In 1987, USAir announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Piedmont. 20 737-400s of Piedmont’s original order were delivered, and USAir ordered an additional 35 of the type and, in all, the company eventually operated 55 737-400s.

By the time that 406, named the Thomas H Davis Pacemaker in honor of the founder of Piedmont Airlines, was ready to leave her nest in Seattle, Piedmont was heading toward a merger with USAir, and she was delivered in a hybrid color scheme of a bare metal fuselage and a Piedmont blue cheat line. As a useless bit of trivia, only four Piedmont 737-400s were delivered with a blue stripe: 406, 407, 408, and 409. The rest came on property with the red USAir cheat line.

Piedmont 737-400 N406US (88)(Ldg) CLT (JS)(LRW) 10.88

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. N406US wears the Piedmont metal transition livery as it lands in Charlotte.

Boeing did a nice job of catering the first-ever delivery of a -400, and there was cause for celebration. It was, indeed, an historic event. Yet, the mood among most of the Piedmont people was a bit subdued, as reality set in that the company we loved was on its way toward non-existence. William Howard had recently stepped down as President and CEO of Piedmont, and his replacement, Tom Schick, was onboard, along with a number of other airline dignitaries, most of whom were, for all practical purposes, in a lame-duck environment. 406 was even delivered with a USAir registration, rather than its originally-allocated N404P. While it was still an historic and exciting moment, there was not complete joy.

For me, the highlight of the entire flight was after we landed in Greensboro. As we came to a stop, I looked out the window and saw Piedmont founder Tom Davis himself standing at the bottom of the airstairs. Not only was he a legend, but also a true gentleman. He also had a gift for remembering faces and names, and as I reached the bottom of the steps, he shook my hand and, without hesitation, told me, “Jay, I expect to see some good pictures of our new plane from you.” (He got some!)

On August 5, 1989, Piedmont Airlines ceased to exist, as everything Piedmont became USAir. Altogether, USAir operated 55 out of the 482 737-400s that Boeing built. Still, I always found myself smiling when I would see 406. I knew she was special. Fast forward 25 years. Years ago, under the leadership of Stephen Wolfe and Rakesh Gangwal, US Airways (as the company had since rebranded itself) elected to hitch its wagon to the Airbus narrow-body product. Slowly but surely, 737s were being replaced with a mix of Airbus A319s, A320s, and A321s.

US Airways 737-400 Patches (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Metal patch on N406US.

During her time in service with Piedmont/USAir/US Airways, 406 served the company well. She was not involved with any significant incidents, although the number of patches on the fuselage suggests there may have been more than a couple of minor issues throughout her life. She did suffer some minor damage when a loading bridge came in contact with the pitot tubes and angle-of-attack indicator located just in front of the forward entry door. This was not an uncommon problem with the 737 Classics, and a loading bridge operator always has to take extra care with these model 737s. Altogether, seven different engines hung on each wing of 406, and a total of 17 auxiliary power units (APUs) were installed in the tail of 406, and over its lifetime, she underwent many B-Checks and C-Checks. These numbers are fairly consistent with the average maintenance activities of a 737 of this age. For the record, 406 was the first 737-400 to wear the final US Airways color scheme.

US Airways 737-400 N406US (05)(Apr) CLT (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. A nice flying portrait of N406US in the final (2005) US Airways color scheme.

Her last revenue flight occurred on August 1, when she arrived from Pittsburgh at Charlotte. Maintenance personnel worked on her for three days, getting 406 ready for her last flight. Finally, early in the morning of August 5, 25 years to the day of the Piedmont/USAir merger, 406 was ready for her last flight as a US Airways-operated trip.

US Airways 737-400 Data Plate (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The original Boeing data plate.

I met Captains Gene Thomas and Doug Christen, who were going to do the honors of flying “Cactus 9240” from Charlotte to Tucson, Arizona. Each of them had several thousand hours in the 737, and although both of them had plenty of seniority to hold positions on the company’s “big iron”, they elected to stay on the 737 until the very end because of their love of the aircraft. Captain Thomas retired shortly after ferrying 406 to Tucson, and Captain Christen has moved on to the Boeing 757/767. They both praised the 737 as being a real “pilot’s airplane”, and will miss flying them. They were both struck by the historic significance of both aircraft 406 and the date, August 5.

US Airways 737-400 N406US pilots for final flight (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Captains Gene Thomas and Doug Christen.

As the pilots cranked the engines, it felt a little strange sitting in Row 2 of an empty airplane. Brakes were released at 9:20 am local, and Captain Thomas guided 406 to the end of Runway 36C at Charlotte. A few minutes later, Cactus 9240 was given takeoff clearance. With no passengers or cargo onboard, we were airborne in around 3000 feet at 9:27 am. 406’s final flight had begun.

US Airways 737-400 Jay in cabin (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay in the empty cabin of N406US en route to the desert.

Since this flight was operated under Part 91 rules, the pilots were permitted to leave the door of the flight deck open, and I was able to enjoy a view not only of the cockpit, but the world beyond the cockpit windows. The pilots were kind enough to take time to explain to me a lot about what goes on behind those perpetually-closed doors. They both talked about their love for the 737. Along with both of them agreeing that it is a plane that pilots fly, rather than program, they both commented on the robustness of the 737 airframe. As one of them noted, “Quite a few of our old 737s have been converted to cargo carriers, and will continue to fly for quite a few years. How many A320s have been converted to freight dogs?”

US Airways 737-400 N406US cockpit (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The cockpit of N406US.

Unlike the nicely-catered delivery flight 26 years ago, I sat alone in 406’s cabin, eating a Jersey Mike’s sub that I brought along, and drinking a bottle of water that catering left onboard after stripping the interior of any equipment that could be used on other aircraft. It gave me a chance to wander around this historic airplane and savor this one last flight in her. Truth be told, I was probably one of handful of people who really appreciated the significance of 406, but that’s okay. I was given the chance to fly on her this one last time. I am not one who keeps a log of all the planes I have flown in, but I do know that I’d flown in 406 at least a dozen times over the years.

US Airways N406US final approach TUS (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The final “Final Approach” as US Airways for N406US.

Captain Thomas said that during her final flight, 406 performed flawlessly. She did not produce a single squawk during the flight, and every flight parameter was met or exceeded. Sooner than I would have wanted, we began our descent into Tucson, where we followed an Air Force KC-135 on visual approach to Runway 11L. Captain Thomas greased the lightly-laden 406 onto the runway at 10:09 am local time, and we then taxied back to the facilities of Ascent Aviation Services. Ascent is a premiere narrow body maintenance and storage center located at Tucson International Airport. Several ex-US Airways 737s are stored there, where they will either be readied for a new operator, or broken up and sold for parts. The fate of 406 is uncertain as of this writing. Captain Christen said that typically, a plane will sit for two or three months as their owners look for another operator. After a certain point, it will be scrapped. I would certainly like to see her fly again, as she has plenty of life left in her, but the fate of 406 has yet to be determined as of this writing.

US Airways 737-400 N406US aircraft in storage TUS (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Aircraft in storage at Ascent Aviation Services in Tucson awaiting their fates.

At 10:15 am, Captain Thomas shut down the engines of 406 for the last time as a US Airways flight. Over nearly 26 years, she had accumulated 69967.4 total flight hours, and 47032 cycles. We climbed down the airstairs, and posed for a couple of final pictures. And that was it. The Ascent technicians hooked 406 up to a tug and towed her to a spot in between two other 737s awaiting their fates. I took one last photo of an historic plane, and a special airliner to me, and then I hopped into a truck to take me to the terminal for my flights home. This had been one flight I won’t forget.

US Airways 737-400 N406US towed into position at TUS (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. N406US is pushed into its storage spot at Tucson (TUS) next to a Solaseed Air Boeing 737-400 which was just retired.

Boeing 737 Slide Show: AG Slide Show

US Airways: AG Slide Show

Solaseed Air to retire the last Boeing 737-400 on September 30

Solaseed Air (formerly SNA-Skynet Asia Airways) (Miyazaki) is planning to retire its last Boeing 737-400 on September 30, becoming an all Boeing 737-800 operator according to Airline Route. The 737-400 is currently being operated on the Tokyo (Haneda) to Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Oita routes.

Read more from ZipanguFlyer: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-4Y0 JA737E (msn 26069) taxies at Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) in Tokyo.

Solaseed Air: AG Slide Show

Solaseed Air Logo

Estonian Air narrows its first half loss to $6.6 million

Estonian Air (Tallinn) reported a first half net loss of €5 million ($6.6 million), down from a net loss of €6.1 million ($8.0 million) in the same period a year ago.

The airline issued this full financial statement:

Despite tougher competition Estonian Air improved its half year net result by 18%. In the first half of 2014, Estonian Air’s revenue amounted to EUR 32.9 million, which is 8% less compared to the same period last year but net result of the company improved by 18%, which amounted to EUR 5.0 million loss.

During the first six months, Estonian Air carried 260 thousand passengers, of which 251 thousand on regular flights. This is 8% less than in the same period last year but less than the decrease in roundtrips (10%) in the same period 2013.

“The result of the second quarter is on the same level as in the same period last year, but nevertheless we expected to see more positive results,” said Jan Palmér, CEO of Estonian Air. “During the second quarter Estonian Air has continued to perform in line with the restructuring plan, but in addition we must now intensify measures in response to harsher market. Competition in Tallinn airport has become tougher as new carriers have entered the market and we have been influenced by continuing uncertain situation in Ukraine resulting in lower passenger volumes on Kiev route and lower transit passengers volumes flying from Europe to Russia,” continued Palmér.

The pressure on airlines’ yield has increased in the whole Europe, forcing airlines to adapt to the changing market conditions. “In the first half of the year, the total number of passengers fell slightly behind our forecast. This is mainly due to less number of operated flights compared to last year, which is due to demanding market situation. However, in June and July we have seen the passenger volumes coming back. Positively surprising high demand for our summer offers and two more summer destinations helped us to turn the number of passengers into growth again,” added Palmer.

In addition to direct flights, Estonian Air is providing more than 280 destinations around the world together with partner airlines with minimum connecting time. For instance, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam airports act as important hubs for connecting flights around the whole world.

Estonian Air, Estonia’s national carrier, is the biggest operator at Tallinn Airport. The airline flies regular routes to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brussels, Oslo, Moscow, Munich, St Petersburg, Kiev, Vilnius, Trondheim and Bromma. In addition, from May to September, Estonian Air will fly to Nice and Split, from June to August to Paris and from June to 1st of November to Berlin. From December 2014 to March 2015, Estonian Air will add seasonal flights to Munich.

Copyright Photo: OSDU/AirlinersGallery.com. Embraer ERJ 170-100LR ES-AEA (msn 17000093) arrives in Moscow (Sheremetyevo).

Estonian Air: AG Slide Show

Air Dolomiti to start Bologna-Munich flights on December 8

Air Dolomiti (Lufthansa Group) has announced the start of Bologna-Munich operations from December 8, 2014. The route will be operated as an Air Dolomiti flight.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Air Dolomiti’s Embraer ERJ 190-200LR (ERJ 195) I-ADJM (msn 19000258) arrives in Zurich.

Air Dolomiti: AG Slide Show

Jet2 to add four new routes from Leeds/Bradford for the summer of 2015

Jet2 (Leeds/Bradford) has announced four new destinations for the summer of 2015 for Leeds/Bradford: Antalya, Kefalonia, Malta and Enfidha Airport in Tunisia starting on May 27, 2015..

The company is also adding new services from its key Northern airports; East Midlands, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

In other news, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have announced further expansion plans at Glasgow Airport, including new routes, an additional aircraft (the sixth at GLA) plus even more seats for summer 2015. The new routes include Prague – a brand new route for Glasgow airport – plus Antalya, Larnaca and Malta.

Copyright Photo: Karl Cornil/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-377 G-CELB (msn 23664) wears the special Yorkshire livery.

Jet2: AG Slide Show

Flybe to add two new routes to Amsterdam

Flybe (Exeter) has announced new year-round routes from Manchester and London City to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The airline will operate daily flights between Manchester and Amsterdam using 88-seat Embraer 175 jet aircraft from October 26, 2014.

Weekend flights are the order of the day from London City with the airline offering Saturday morning and Sunday evening flights on 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft, conveniently timed for weekend leisure travel from November 1.

The two new routes complement those already featured in Flybe’s existing 2014-15 Winter schedule to Amsterdam. It also enhances the airline’s debut schedule out of London City, adding to those routes already announced to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Embraer ERJ 170-200STD (ERJ 175) G-FBJC (msn 17000328) taxies at Amsterdam.

Flybe: AG Slide Show

Red Status: Update on the Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland

Iceland Volcano Status

From the Icelandic Met Office:

Two M5 earthquakes took place in Bárðarbunga caldera during the night:

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake occurred at 5 km depth just after midnight, at 00:09. Its origin was at the northern rim of the caldera. Another earthquake, magnitude about 5, occurred at 05:33 and originated at the southern rim. These are the strongest events measured since the onset of the seismic crisis at Bárðarbunga and the strongest since 1996 (the Gjálp eruption). The magnitude is already confirmed by the European EMSC network and the GEOFON network of GFZ Potsdam in Germany.

Probably, earthquakes near the Bárðarbunga caldera are a consequence of adjustment to changes in pressure because of the flow of magma from under the caldera into the dyke which stretches to Dyngjujökull, more than 25 km away.

Great seismic activity is also near the intrusive dyke in Dyngjujökull. The activity is concentrated at the section which advanced northwards yesterday morning. Analysis shows that the origin of the quakes, there, has migrated a little towards north. Their depth is mainly in the range of 8-13 km. The largest earthquake in the Dyngjujökull area was 3.5 at 04:39.

No signs of tremor, indicative of eruption, were detected during the night.

Map: Icelandic Met Office.

Ryanair launches daily Dublin-Brussels flights, wants to acquire Cyprus Airways

Ryanair (Dublin) on August 21 launched new daily Dublin-Brussels (Zaventem) service (three roundtrips daily) as part of an extended Dublin winter 2014 schedule, with nine new routes and increased flights on 21 existing routes to/from Dublin Airport. This new Brussels Zaventem route complements Ryanair’s existing Dublin-Charleroi (near Brussels) route.

The nine new routes from Dublin are to Basel, Brussels (Zaventem), Bucharest, Cologne, Glasgow, Lisbon, Marrakesh, Nice and Prague.

In other news, Ryanair will soon be in talks with the government of Cyprus about a possible takeover of loss-making Cyprus Airways (Larnaca) according to this report by Reuters. Ryanair believes it can turn around the failing carrier. Nearly 20 companies have submitted non-binding expressions of interest about Cyprus Airways.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8AS EI-DHN (msn 33577) touches down at EuroAirport near Basel.

Ryanair: AG Slide Show

VivaAerobus to add two new routes to Houston

VivaAerobus (Monterrey) has announced it will add two new routes to Houston (Bush Intercontinental) from Cancun (starting on December 3) and Guadalajara (starting on November 20) per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Paul Doyle/AirlinersGallery.com. Ex-Livingston Airbus A320-232 EI-ERH (msn 2157) arrives in Dublin before the delivery to the Mexican carrier.

VivaAerobus: AG Slide Show

Route Map:

VivaAerobus 8.2014 Route Map

AeroMexico restores the Monterrey-Houston route on November 3

AeroMexico (Mexico City) is resuming two routes from Monterrey on November 3; to both Torreon and Houston. The Monterrey-Houston route was last operated in January 2011 per Airline Route.

In other news, AeroMexico previously announced a fourth weekly flight between Merida and Miami effective on November 8. This new service will operate on Saturdays and, as the current three frequencies, will be operated with a 99-seat Embraer 190.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. AeroMexico Connect‘s (Aerolitoral) Embraer ERJ 190-100LR XA-ACJ (msn 19000531) arrives in Los Angeles.

AeroMexico: AG Slide Show

AeroMexico Connect: AG Slide Show

United Airlines to drop the Newark-Edmonton route on October 25

United Airlines (Chicago) will end the Newark-Edmonton route on October 25. The Airbus A320 nonstop route was inaugurated on May 13, 2013.

The route was not meeting the airline’s expectations.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 N423UA (msn 504) arrives in Las Vegas.

United Airlines (current): AG Slide Show

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