Branson AirExpress expands its route map in cooperation with Orange Air

Orange Air DC-9-82 N918AV (white)(Grd) SFB (Orange Air)(LRW)

Branson AirExpress (Branson, Missouri) has announced on social media it is expanding its relationship with Orange Air (Sanford) and their McDonnell Douglas DC-9-83 (MD-83) aircraft (above). The company is introducing four new routes on May 1, flown by Orange Air (all operated three days a week): Branson-Cincinnati, Branson-New Orleans, New Orleans-Cancun and Sanford (near Orlando)-Cancun.

Branson AirExpress-Orange Air logo (large)

The DC-9-83 will operate in this sequence and then return: Sanford-Cancun-New Orleans-Branson-Cincinatti.

Above Photo: Orange Air.

Route Map:

Branson AirExpress 2.2015 Route Map (LRW)

United Airlines introduces a new premium cabin menu on select United Express flights

United Airlines (Chicago) will introduce new premium-cabin dining service on United Express flights beginning next week, featuring freshly prepared entrees served on chinaware and expanded meal-service times for United First and United Business customers on regional flights.

The airline continues:

These dining improvements are part of United’s previously announced multi-million-dollar investment in in-flight food service.

The new meal service will be introduced in phases by aircraft type, with the new menus available on United Express North America flights operated with Embraer E170 (above) and E175 aircraft beginning March 1, and on Bombardier CRJ700 and Q400 aircraft beginning in April.

More Choices, More Often

New breakfast, lunch and dinner menus designed by United’s team of chefs will be offered on flights of more than two hours and twenty minutes.

Breakfast flights may include a fresh fruit plate served with cereal, creamy Greek yogurt and breakfast bread.

Lunch and dinner will feature two freshly-prepared entree choices that may include an artisanal pretzel roll filled with tangy barbecue chicken and coleslaw paired with a tri-color quinoa side salad; or ginger and garlic marinated beef with pickled vegetables and crisp edamame, served with Asian sesame dressing and a side of fresh fruit. Flight attendants will serve signature triple chocolate chunk cookies as dessert on lunch and dinner flights.

Other highlights include:

On flights of less than one hour, gourmet biscotti will be served on early morning flights and a premium fruit and nut snack mix will be served on later flights.

On flights between one hour and two hours and twenty minutes, flight attendants will offer light refreshments that include a selection of premium snacks and fresh fruit.

The airline is also adding light refreshments to flights departing between 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and after 8 p.m.

United Express premium food service (United)(LRW)

Photo Above: United Airlines. The barbeque chicken and coleslaw sandwich.

United Express Inflight Entertainment

The airline is continuing improvements to the United Express inflight experience by outfitting more than 200 E175, E170 and CRJ700 regional jets with Gogo’s ATG-4 advanced air-to-ground Wi-Fi product. By mid-2015, United expects to complete installation on these aircraft.

Additionally, the company will begin providing Personal Device Entertainment on these regional jets this year, offering customers hundreds of complimentary movies and television shows to view on their Apple iOS and Android devices using United’s mobile app, as well as on laptop computers.

Eco-Skies Recycling Program Expanded to United Express Flights

In mid-January, United Express carriers began recycling on board E175 aircraft, furthering United’s Eco-Skies commitment to operating sustainably and responsibly. These E175 flights originate from Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.

These flights follow the same recycling program currently in place on United’s mainline fleet, using United Eco-Skies recycling bags for recycling paper, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and the carrier’s new hot beverage cups. The hot beverage cups – introduced in 2014 and boarded on all E175 flights – are recyclable and made in the United States from 50 percent recycled materials.

Top Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Shuttle America’s Embraer ERJ 170-100SE N639RW (msn 17000057) taxies at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) hub.

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Republic Airways Holdings reports net income of $64.3 million for 2014

Republic Airways Holdings Inc. (Republic Airlines and Shuttle America) (Indianapolis) has reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2014. The company reported net income of $64.3 million for 2014, a significant increase from its  net income of $26.7 million in 2013.

As planned, Chautauqua Airlines ended operations on December 31, 2014 and was rolled into Shuttle America as previously reported.

The company issued this report:

Republic Airways Holdings logo

Republic’s pre-tax income excluding special items, for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $32.1 million, an 8.4 percent increase over the fourth quarter or 2013. Republic’s adjusted income from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $19.8 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, and its adjusted pre-tax margin was 9.3 percent.

For the full year of 2014, Republic’s pre-tax income, excluding special items, was $120.2 million, a $17.7 million increase over 2013. Republic’s adjusted income from continuing operations for 2014 was $73.4 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, with an adjusted pre-tax margin of 8.7 percent.

On a GAAP basis, including special items, Republic’s fourth quarter 2014 pre-tax loss was $1.4 million, pre-tax margin was -0.4 percent and income from continuing operations was $11.7 million, or $0.23 per diluted share. On a GAAP basis, including special items, Republic’s 2014 pre-tax income was $85.2 million, pre-tax margin was 6.2 percent and income from continuing operations was $64.3 million, or $1.24 per diluted share.

On January 1, 2015, Republic completed its consolidation of all Chautauqua Airlines operations onto the Shuttle America operating certificate. All operating aircraft and related employees are now transferred to Shuttle America’s operation. Republic hopes to sell the remaining Chautauqua Airlines entity and related assets during the first half of 2015.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, Republic extended the service terms of aircraft under its fixed-fee capacity purchase agreements with US Airways, Inc. and Delta Air Lines, Inc. Republic also agreed to operate an additional nine E170 aircraft for Delta Air Lines, Inc.

“We took some significant steps in 2014 in our effort to simplify and streamline our business,” said Republic Airways Holdings Chairman, President and CEO Bryan Bedford. “While this simplification strategy results in near-term transition expenses, such as the fleet impairment charge we took this quarter, the actions that we’ve taken in 2014 and that we intend to take in 2015 are key to the future success of our airline.”

The impairment and other charges in 2014 were due to impairment and other charges on owned E140 aircraft which were abandoned of $19.9 million; owned E190 aircraft which are in the process of being sold of $14.4 million; owned Q400 aircraft which are scheduled to come out of service in the third quarter of 2016 of $13.3 million, and a loss on sale of E190 aircraft of $5.8 million. The 2013 impairment charges of $21.2 million related to owned E190 aircraft and the write-off of maintenance deposits on leased E190 aircraft.

Fleet Highlights

During 2014, our operational fleet decreased from 258 to 244. The company took delivery of 22 E175 aircraft, permanently parked 15 E140 aircraft, temporarily parked 13 E145 aircraft, sold two E190 aircraft and leased three E145 aircraft and three E190 aircraft.

During 2014, we took delivery of 22 E175 aircraft and removed 28 small regional jets.

In December 2014, we completed the sale of two E190 aircraft and executed an agreement to sell three other E190 aircraft. The sale of these five aircraft will leave us with two owned E190 aircraft and three leased E190 aircraft that are expected to be removed from fixed-fee charter service in August of 2015. We expect to return the three leased aircraft to the lessor in 2015 and the remaining two aircraft are under a firm sales agreement.

Balance Sheet and Liquidity

The Company’s total cash balance decreased $55.1 million to $245.6 million as of Dec. 31, 2014, compared to Dec. 31, 2013. Restricted cash decreased $2.3 million, to $21.7 million, from Dec. 31, 2013, due to the escrow requirements under our fixed-fee charter agreements. The Company’s unrestricted cash balance decreased $52.8 million, to $223.9 million, from Dec. 31, 2013, due primarily to equity investments in new aircraft and the redemption of the $22.3 million and $26.5 million convertible notes on April 7, 2014, and Oct. 28, 2014, respectively. The Company also purchased 212,881 shares of its common stock on the open market, during the third quarter of 2014 for total consideration of $2.1 million. A consolidated balance sheet and summary cash flow statement have been included in the tables section of this release.

The Company’s debt increased to $2.34 billion as of Dec. 31, 2014, compared to $2.17 billion at Dec. 31, 2013, primarily related to the financing of 22, new E175 aircraft purchased for our American Airlines fixed-fee agreement. As of Dec. 31, 2014, approximately 98 percent of our debt is at a fixed interest rate. The Company has significant long-term lease obligations for aircraft that are classified as operating leases and are not reflected as liabilities on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet. At a 6 percent discount factor, the present value of these lease obligations was approximately $0.48 billion and $0.59 billion as of Dec. 31, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2013, respectively.

Corporate Information

Republic Airways Holdings Inc., based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is an airline holding company that owns Republic Airlines, Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines, collectively “the airlines.” As of Dec. 31, 2014, the airlines operated a combined fleet of about 245 aircraft and offered scheduled passenger service on more than 1,300 flights daily to approximately 100 cities in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean through fixed-fee flights operated under our major airline partner brands, including American Eagle, Delta Connection, United Express, and US Airways Express. The Company currently employs about 6,500 aviation professionals.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. During 2014 Republic took delivery of 22 Embraer E175 aircraft. Republic Airlines’ Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N415YX (msn 17000378) arrives in Washington (Reagan National).

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Fiji Airways announces its highest ever operating profit for 2014

Air Pacific Ltd, trading as the Fiji Airways Group (Fiji Airways) (Nadi), has announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014. Mr. Nalin Patel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Air Pacifc Ltd., trading as Fiji Airways said the airline and its consolidated group (Fiji Airways Group) made record operating profits. The Group comprises of Fiji Airways, Fiji’s National Airline, its subsidiaries Fiji Link & Pacific Call Comm Ltd, and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island, Nadi. Fiji Airways reported another record breaking year in terms of revenue and passenger numbers.

Fiji Airways reported a profit before income tax of $65.2 million compared to a profit before income tax of $8.3 million for the nine-month period ended December 31, 2013.

Air Pacific Ltd (the Group) reported a profit before income tax of $60.8 million compared to a profit before income tax of $14.2 million for nine-month period ended December 31, 2013.
On a net basis, Fiji Airways reported an after tax profit of $55.6m and the Group reported an after tax profit of $52.9m (versus after tax profits of $8.7m and $14.5m respectively for the nine-month period ended 31st December 2013.

These results are more than two times better than the best operating profit achieved in the history of APL back in 2005.

“The airline is already prepared for a busy year ahead, with the addition of a Boeing 737-800 and a new Airbus A330-300 to its fleet, the launch of new routes (Nadi-Wellington) and increased frequencies to key destinations. It is also assessing a new long-haul route in Asia. Our guests can also look forward to further enhancements to our on-board offering, as well as further enhanced customer service at its airports and new Reservations Centre.”

In other news, Fiji Airways is planning to commence a new nonstop route linking Fiji with the  Solomon Islands, with Saturday only Nadi – Honiara flights with Boeing 737-700 aircraft from April 4 per Airline Route. The airline currently operates once-a-week flight on the Nadi – Port Vila – Honiara route on Tuesdays.

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8X2 DQ-FJH (msn 29969) taxies at Sydney.

Fiji Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Route Map:

Fiji Airways logo

Fiji Airways 2.2015 Route Map

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Delta to upgrade its in-flight Wi-Fi service and expand coverage

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) will upgrade the in-flight Wi-Fi service its customers experience with broadband speeds and expanded coverage. The upgrades will extend Wi-Fi access beyond the shores of the North America for customers traveling between the U. S. and Latin America or the Caribbean. Gogo will begin updating Delta’s long-haul domestic aircraft currently using air-to-ground technology with satellite-based technology starting in 2016.

In addition, Delta will support Gogo’s efforts to develop the industry’s newest technology with Gogo’s next generation air-to-ground service for its short-haul aircraft, which will feature faster connection at broadband speeds. Today’s announcement is the latest step Delta is taking to improve the travel experience and continue leading the industry with innovative technology solutions for its customers.

Delta Air Lines WiFi Infographic

Satellite-based 2Ku upgrades

More than 250 of Delta’s aircraft on long-haul domestic, Latin American and Caribbean routes will have access to Wi-Fi when they fly over water or outside existing air-to-ground service areas with the upgrades to 2Ku. The satellite-based system will be installed on:

Boeing 757-300 aircraft
Boeing 757-200 aircraft (above)
Boeing 737-900ER aircraft
Boeing 737-800 aircraft
Airbus A319 aircraft

2Ku service will also be offered on Delta’s Airbus A321 aircraft when they enter the Delta’s fleet beginning in 2016.

Air-to-ground technology improvements

Short-haul domestic aircraft in Delta’s fleet with air-to-ground systems will be upgraded with Gogo’s next generation air-to-ground technology as it becomes available. Delta’s Boeing 717-200, MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft are slated to get the system and will also offer significantly upgraded speeds.

International Wi-Fi

Delta has completed installation of Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on more than one-third of its international fleet and will be 85 percent complete by the end of 2015. In mid-2016, its entire international fleet, including all of its Boeing 777, 767, 747, Airbus A330 and transoceanic Boeing 757 aircraft operating on long-haul routes will offer Wi-Fi. The addition of in-flight Internet on nearly 150 aircraft will expand the number of Delta’s aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi to approximately 1,000 to offer customers the most global Wi-Fi access of any carrier. 2Ku service will be offered on Airbus A330-900neo and A350-900 aircraft when they enter the Delta fleet.

Delta Studio

Customers can access free and paid streaming entertainment options through Delta Studio on any of Delta’s Wi-Fi-equipped domestic flights using their own portable electronic devices. With expanded connectivity options, Delta Studio will be available on Caribbean and Latin American routes operated by domestic aircraft. Delta Studio was introduced in 2014 and features a new customer portal with improved navigation for accessing entertainment options. Customers in First Class and Economy Comfort receive complimentary access to premium content while customers in the Economy have access to a wide selection of complimentary entertainment.

Delta already operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi-equipped fleet, with more than 3,500 Internet connected flights daily, including its entire fleet of 620 domestic mainline aircraft. More than 940 Delta aircraft, including all Delta Connection two-class regional jets and more than 35 percent of its international fleet are equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi service offering more than 370,000 customers per day access while in the air.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 757-232 N695DL (msn 29727) departs from Los Angeles International Airport.

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Bombardier’s new CS300 is scheduled for its first flight tomorrow

Bombardier-CS300-(Grd)-YMX-(Bombardier)(LRW)

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft (Montreal) confirmed, pending optimal weather conditions, the CS300 aircraft’s first flight is expected to occur on February 26, 2015. The first flight follows last week’s receipt of the Transport Canada flight permit that allowed the first CS300 flight test vehicle to join the flight test program and the successful high speed taxi runs conducted earlier this week.

Update: Bombardier later issued this statement: Due to weather conditions in Mirabel, Québec, the first flight of the CS300 flight test vehicle will not take place on February 26, 2015.

Photo: Bombardier.

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Air France Airbus A380 passengers stranded in Manchester for nearly 7 hours

Air France (Paris) on Saturday (February 21) diverted its flight AF 007 from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) to Manchester. The prestigious flight was operated with an Airbus A380. The 460 people aboard the Air France flight were diverted to Manchester at 11.30 am (1130), but were not allowed off the Super Jumbo until around 6 pm (1800) on the same day.

It all started in New York, where passengers’ tempers were already being tried after flight AF 007 had been delayed from taking off by around four hours at New York while the aircraft had to be de-iced.

But once the aircraft entered UK airspace, the few hundred people were begging to get off.

The 4 hour delay meant that the flight crew would have exceeded their allowance of flying hours, so the captain decided to take a sommeil (pardon my French) in my beloved Manchester. At the time, Manchester was experiencing torrential rain, I might add.

The aircraft touched down at 11:30 am (UK time) and that is where it happened. Six and a half hours on the grounded plane with reported no food or water.

Air France had originally told passengers it would send a new crew to fly the plane onto its destination. However, while pre-flight checks were being carried out a technical fault was then discovered in the cabin. The airline then said it would fly three extra planes (two Airbus A318s and an A320) over to collect the passengers, but these relief aircraft took hours to arrive. After being eventually let off the double decker A380, passengers were taken to a waiting room near departures, where they say around 50 burgers were provided.

You can already imagine the tweets and statuses by the passengers. With the common denominators being “awful experience” and “worst flight of my life”.

The story that really shocks me is of a woman who’s destination was actually Manchester, but almost wasn’t allowed to end her journey prematurely.

She had been due to get a connecting flight back to Manchester from Paris – but refused to get on the later service and went home without her luggage.

The woman, who lives in south Manchester, told the Manchester Evening News: “They wouldn’t let us off the plane – I kept saying ‘I only live down the road, please can you let me off?

“But there were other people on there flying to all over Europe from Paris. There was no food whatsoever. There were kids who hadn’t eaten since leaving New York the previous day who had had no food.

“There was a lot of frustration on the flight, people were getting quite annoyed. Eventually, about 6 pm they let us off into a secluded area near departures and 50 Burger King burgers were sent down.”

“About 13 of us who live in the UK refused to get on the later flight to Paris so eventually they let us go, but our bags had to go on the original plane and I am still waiting to get my luggage back.”

Manchester Airport did not comment.

Air France said in a statement it “understands well the exasperation of its customers in this situation”.

Read more from The Telegraph: CLICK HERE

Assistant Editor Oliver Wilcock reports from Manchester.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Formerly with the special 80 Ans/Years logo, Airbus A380-861 F-HPJI (msn 115) no longer wears the special logo.

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