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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

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Azul to introduce the new Airbus A330 on domestic routes

Azul A330-200 PR-AIV (14-Brazilian flag)(Nose)(Azul)(LR)

Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras (Campinas-Viracopos) as previously reported, has filed with the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) for its approval for flights to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) and Orlando (MCO). If approved, FLL service will start on December 1 and MCO service on December 15 with its new Airbus A330-200s.

In the meantime, the carrier will start operating the new type on domestic routes from Campinas to Brasilia, Manaus, Recife and Rio de Janeiro (Galeao), also subject to approval by ANAC. The new type will be operated on domestic routes from September 1 through November 30.

Copyright Photo: Azul. Airbus A330-243 PR-AIV (msn 532) is painted in the special Brazilian flag motif and was delivered on August 20, 2014 from AerCap. The wide body airliner has previously been operated by MEA (F-OMEC), Gulf Air (A9C-KI) and Turkish Airlines (TC-JNY).

Azul: AG Slide Show

AirAsia X’s second quarter net loss widens to $40.6 million

AirAsia X (AirAsia.com) (Kuala Lumpur) reported a second quarter net loss of MYR 128.9 million ($40.6 million), an increase from the MYR 32.3 million net loss ($10.1 million) for the same period a year ago.

The long-haul low-cost carrier issued this full report through its parent:

AirAsia X Berhad, the long-haul low-cost airline affiliate of the AirAsia Group reported its financial results for the Second Quarter (“2Q14”) and the First Half-Year ended June 30, 2014.

On the back of its strategy of capacity and network expansion to strengthen its market leadership, the Company recorded revenue of RM 671.6 million for 2Q14, a year-on-year growth of 36.7%, and cumulative revenue of RM 1.42 billion in 1H14, a 38.5% y-o-y growth compared to the previous corresponding period.

This increase was underpinned by the significant growth in Available-Seat-Kilometre (“ASK”) capacity that was introduced in the second-half of 2013, recording a y-o-y growth of 47% to 6.26 billion in 2Q14 and a y-o-y growth of 53% to 12.48 billion in 1H14. Passenger traffic volume in Revenue-Passenger-Kilometer (“RPK”) grew by 44% in 2Q14 to 5.04 billion and by 53.3% to 10.38 billion in 1H14, resulting in a passenger load factor of 80.4% in 2Q14 and 83.1% in 1H14. Consistently delivering load factor performance above 80% demonstrates the ability to keep stimulating new travel and tourism demand to fill up the new capacity added. This solidifies AAX’s position as the market leader in passengers carried to its core markets in Australia and North Asia, as well as its position as the global market leader in the long-haul LCC space.

The capacity expansion into new cities in its core markets, such as Nagoya, Xian, and Chongqing, as well as additional frequencies to cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Taipei, Seoul, and Tokyo have increased its Fly-Thru connectivity and attracted new passenger traffic flow that now uses KLIA2 as a regional aviation hub. Notably, the Company has approximately tripled its market share of passengers travelling between North Asia and Australia on a one-stop service, generating a significant new customer base this year compared to the previous year.
The Company continues to operate a higher number of flights for charters and wet-leases, with total revenues from this segment growing from RM33.0 million in 1H13 to RM148.6 million in 1H14. These flights are not captured in the ASK and RPK tabulations as they are unscheduled flights. Ancillary revenue grew by 48.2% y-o-y to RM290.8 million in 1H14, compared to RM196.3 million in the previous period, resulting in an ancillary revenue per passenger of RM138.50 from the 2.1 million passengers carried. Cargo segment contributed RM59.3 million for 1H14, and increase of 43.8% y-o-y from the previous corresponding period. Two A330-300 aircraft were leased to Thai AirAsia X (“TAAX”), its affiliate, generating RM25.3 million in lease income revenue in 1H14. TAAX commenced daily flights to Seoul since June 17, 2014 and will operate flights to Tokyo-Narita and Osaka from its hub in Bangkok from September 2014.

The resultant unit-revenue yield, as measured by Revenue-per-Available-Seat-Kilometre (“RASK”) was 10.79 sen in 2Q14, a -7% y-o-y decline, and 11.44 sen in 1H14, a -10% y-o-y decline. The rate of decline in RASK has been steadily improving from -15.1% in 4Q13 and -12.4% in 1Q14. Based on forward sales to-date and barring any unforeseen macro-factors, the Company expects RASK to resume positive growth in the second-half of this year, as the capacity expansion last year matures and the rate of capacity growth progressively slows down. Although the RASK yields have declined this year from 2013, they remain higher than the RASK yields recorded in 2010, 2011, and 2012, signalling overall route network portfolio maturity. The Company continues to target a positive growth in RASK for the full year of 2014 from 2013.

Operating expenses increased 61.5% y-o-y from RM986.3 million to RM1,593.1 million in 1H14. Although unit-cost as measured in Cost-per-Available-Seat-Kilometre (“CASK”) increased 4.6% y-o-y to 12.69 sen, CASK-excluding fuel declined -2.6% y-o-y to 6.35 sen. CASK in US cents declined -1.4% to 3.89 cents, due to the effect of the US dollar-Malaysian Ringgit currency movement, as a majority of costs, especially fuel, aircraft and engineering expenses, are denominated in US dollars. CASK excluding fuel in US cents dropped -8.5% to 1.94 cents. Average fuel price increased from US$127/barrel in 2Q13 to US$130/barrel in 2Q14. Controllable items such as staff costs, sales and marketing expenses, fell -13% y-o-y from cost controls and productivity improvements achieved from having larger operating scale.
Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, Amortisation and Rental (“EBITDAR”) dropped from RM183.5 million to RM53.5 million, while Earnings Before Interest and Tax (“EBIT”) dropped from RM46.0 million to –RM168.5 million. AAX recorded a Loss After Tax (“LAT”) of –RM140.1 million for 1H14 compared to a Profit After Tax of RM17.9 million in the first-half of 2013.

The Company continues to maintain positive operating cash flow in 2Q14 of +RM81.2 million, and +RM212.8 million for 1H14. Net Cash Flow was also positive at +RM12.8 million in 2Q14, as there were no capital expenditure incurred from financing aircraft on-balance sheet (the additional aircraft was on operating lease), no material new pre-delivery-payment financing for future aircraft, and no further capital investments in Associates. The Company expects to maintain positive operating cashflow and positive net cash flow for the full year, on the back on an expected stronger performance in the second-half of 2014.

Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X said, “Although our capacity expansion has put short-term pressure on earnings performance, the long-term strategic advantages are very compelling. We now have our strongest route network, with multiple cities in each of our markets, and strong frequencies that lead to convenient transfer connections. As we now have achieved overall market leadership, we have stablised our network, with quarter-on-quarter ASK growth slowing down to single-digit rates. Coupled with our position as the lowest unit-cost airline operator and leveraging on the strength of the AirAsia global brand and customer base, we have an unrivalled strong position for the future.”

“As we approach the end of the year after twelve months since we added a lot of new capacity in 4Q13, we expect RASK yields to return to positive growth and reach the levels recorded before the expansion. This in turn will return us back to profitability, particularly as global fuel prices are expected to soften, while Asian currencies are expected to stabilise. We are already seeing yields catch up in Taipei, the first route to have a doubling of capacity to twice-weekly services that commenced in July 2013.”

“Thai AirAsia X has been off on a great start, achieving a record 88% average passenger load factor in its first 3 months of operations on its inaugural Bangkok-Seoul route. The investments in international associates gives us more room for further growth and strengthens our market position in each of our destinations as customers have multiple direct flight options to choose from.”

“The 50 next-generation A330-900neo aircraft ordered will give us a huge lead over other players in this space, and ensure that we can fully realize our growth potential from the two new hubs that we have invested in, as well as other future hubs once the opportunity materialises”, concluded Azran.

Copyright Photo: Guillaume Besnard/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343 F-WWYY (msn 1131) became 9M-XXG on delivery.

AirAsia X: AG Slide Show

AirAsia and AirAsia X routes from Kuala Lumpur:

AirAsia-AirAsia X Kuala Lumpur 8.2014 Route Map

 

The Sunday Times: Monarch Airlines to cut more than 1,000 jobs, shrink the fleet to reduce its losses and find a new investor

Monarch Airlines (London-Luton and London-Gatwick) is at a critical stage in its nearly 47 years of existence. According to this article by The Sunday Times, Monarch will cut over 1,000 jobs, reduce the fleet from 42 aircraft to 30 in order to reduce losses. Long-haul flights will be dropped. The airline had previously announced it would drop charter flights and concentrate on scheduled flights. Seabury Capital is also leading the search for new investors.

A lingering question shadowing the company is its pension obligation.

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

Monarch service banner

Monarch Airlines talks about its history on its website:

The Group, as its exists today, came together in 1968 when Monarch Airlines was formed under the same ownership as Cosmos Holidays and Monarch Aircraft Engineering, following their establishment in 1961 and 1967 respectively.

Monarch Airlines was created to respond to the expanding charter holiday industry and demand for faster travel. In its early days Monarch operated with just two aircraft, but in the early 1970s the airline began to meet the requirements of an evolving travel market by committing to an all-jet fleet and by 1972 was carrying 500,000 passengers per annum.

The advent of mass market independent travel saw Monarch launch its scheduled division with increased routes in 1985. The Airbus A330 was added to the fleet in 1999 featuring new Premium cabin and a range of upgraded passenger benefits, followed in 2001 by the launch of Monarch’s first online booking tool. By 2007 online reservations had grown to over 90% of total bookings.

Monarch Airlines is now one of the leading scheduled carriers at its key bases at London Gatwick, across the Midlands and the north of England. Its current 30 aircraft fleet provides an annual capacity of seven million seats from six UK bases to destinations around the Mediterranean, the Canaries and to ski destinations in winter. The Airline also offers capacity to tour operators both through its scheduled and operations and traditional charter activities, where it continues with selected long-haul flying.

Monarch.co.uk logo

Monarch Airlines has always adapted to changing conditions in the marketplace:

Monarch Timeline

On the Monarch blog, in this article written by Hannah Sardar, the author interviews Commercial Revenue and Network Manager – Marjan Schöke, on how the company puts together its schedule (Monarch just announced it was dropping East Midlands as we previously reported). Here is the article which is very insightful:

My name is Hannah and I work in the social media team for Monarch. We have had a few questions about how Monarch put together a flight schedule and why we have delayed the schedule for our Summer 15 flights. So, I’ve gone straight to the man who knows, our Commercial Revenue & Network Manager – Marjan Schöke to get his insight and find out how we create a network schedule. Who better to answer your questions?

Marjan Schoke

Marjan Schoke

So Marjan, I am going to start with a broad question! In a nutshell what is the process for setting up a flights schedule?

Well, in a nutshell proves a bit tricky. Creating a flight schedule is not single process but the result of a lengthy and continuous analysis. Let me try to give you some insight into the complexity of the creation of a schedule. Marjan

The basis is the overall strategy of the company. It defines what market segments we serve, what aircraft type we are using and so on. So for a specific period we have a picture of where we want to head with our network and how many aircraft we have available for implementing this defined strategy.

As a first step in creating a schedule we evaluate many different variables including; customer demand, market trends, the economy and passenger flows in order to evaluate the future profitability of a route. In addition many inputs from operations and maintenance have to be taken into account.

We evaluate market trends in detail. One question that needs to be answered is how the economic development for next year will influence the booking and travel patterns of our customers. For instance are they taking longer or shorter breaks? How taking short breaks? And of course we need to gain an understanding what the hotel availability is for certain destinations. All of this combined enables us to forecast market growth for the coming season. Keeping in mind the competition we then define how often we want to fly each route; we then decide on the aircraft to be used for a specific flight. This gives us the information we need to create our flights schedule.

A question I’ve always wanted to know is; do all airlines work the same way when releasing a schedule? Some airlines are before and some are after Monarch, can you please tell us why?

I would not be able to confirm how all airlines plan their schedules but I can say that in my opinion, the overall process is the same for each airline. However, the way the market analysis is done will differ for each airline, also pending what customer group they are serving. Doing research for business travellers is different from research on holiday-makers.

Why is the flights schedule for summer 2015 being released in stages this year?

There are a lot of changes going on within the company. We have new management and there are many people like me who have recently joined the company. A lot of new know-how and innovative processes are brought into the company. For example in my team we have adjusted our internal processes and we are putting much more time towards listening to feedback from customers or researching travel behaviour.

Our aim is to release a stable schedule that avoids as far as possible changes a few months or even weeks before the flights. We want to avoid rescheduling flights as customer feedback states this is really frustrating for them.

So, it’s taking longer because we are doing it once and doing it right. We have had a much closer look at each individual route, spent a lot of time on making the departure times more sociable with the ultimate objective being to give flexibility and value to all our customers.

We have already released four bases – Luton, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester and may still add flights to these bases over the coming months however the review is on-going for Leeds Bradford. The schedule for summer 2015 will offer our customers a better service with more frequent flights to some of our most popular destinations, better weekend flight times & flexibility to book a short break or a mid or longer length holiday.

When is the best time to buy cheap flights – now, when flights have just been released… or later, when there’s a deal or promotion?

It’s always best to book as soon as you can. It is an obvious statement but, we have a fixed amount of seats available on each aircraft on each flight. The fuller the aircraft gets for a specific flight the higher the price will be. So, when no seats have been booked soon after the flight goes on sale; customers will generally get the best price. It is the objective of my team and I to fill those seats, whereas closer to the time of departure we have fewer seats available and this may increase the price.

We’ve been asked about why our flight departure and arrival timings are different this year to previous years, how would you reply to this?

We look closely at internal data, data from external sources and we gain an understanding from our own customers about which departure times suit them best and which routes they prefer. An example of this: we know that on certain routes most passengers prefer to fly back in the evening so they’ve had a full day on the beach and then they fly home. Of course this varies by route.

This is a good opportunity to explain about “airport slots” to answer this properly. A slot is the right to depart or land at a specific time at an airport. Some airports like London Gatwick are very busy as most airlines want to depart or land at similar times (the customer preferences are quite often very similar).

There is a worldwide rule that manages the arrival and departure slots.

Other alterations to our schedule are required due to slight changes in the legislation concerning cabin crew duty working times. A Monarch crew that start later in the day can for example fly longer than a crew that gets up very early in the morning and of course we need abide by the working rules set for our crew.

So, based on that answer, how do airports decide which airline gets which slot? That sounds really difficult!

Well yes it can be quite challenging at some airports. This is a lengthy process that is followed worldwide by all airlines and all slot coordinated airports. The rules are created and implemented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and each country has a slot coordinator who is in charge of administering all the slots for the specific countries airports.

All airlines apply for the slots they require and then the initial slots are given to the airline. Whereas if an airline has flown consistently in the last season it is given the same timings (they call this a grandfather right) as before to try and give continuity.

This is why I explained sometimes we fly the exact same flight time.

However, it is possible for airlines to swap flight slots or request different times. Airlines then start to adjust their schedule once they feel confident about their slots. About two months before the summer season starts the airlines hand back all slots they don’t require and of course then a final swapping and adjustment to the schedule is completed.

Did you know? An airline is only given slot confirmation 2- 3 months before the winter or summer schedule begins. This is why sometimes we have to alter some schedule times – but this is typically within 30 minutes of the original timing. We also estimate the likely outcome of this slot allocation process so that our customers can book their holiday with more than 3 months’ notice.

Why do you decide to operate flights very early in the morning or very late at night?

An aircraft is very expensive and of course we need to utilize it as much as we can. Just to fly one flight per day within Europe “does not pay” for the aircraft.

This means we have to find the right balance between a lot of flying per day and the preferences of our customers. To find the right balance we speak to customers and research travel preferences. For example we have found that many people prefer to set off early to get the whole day at their holiday destination and this goes for coming back too.

If we depart too late in the morning we can only fly one flight per day which restricts customer choice and require us to increase the price for that flight much higher.

Why do we fly different types of planes to different locations, why aren’t they all the same?

We currently use a mix of aircraft ranging from the Airbus A320 with 174 seats to the Airbus A330 with 358 seats. Some aircraft have a longer range than others. Our A330 is being used for long-haul flying, whereas the A320 is better used within Europe. On airports where we have slot restriction – meaning we have only limited rights to take off or land at the ideal time – and very high demand for a route we might decide to use the larger aircraft. In addition; we create the schedule in a way that we can swap aircraft sizes between routes. This enables us to fly more of our customers to very popular destinations when demand is high.

If Monarch wanted to launch a new route, how does that work?

Well as I am sure you can image, a new route has to be researched well. Starting a daily flight within Europe can be very expensive. We need to be convinced that enough passengers will fly on the new route and will find it enjoyable for a holiday. We factor in “running costs” from an airline point of view including; fuel costs, the crew , the aircraft, government and airport taxes and also hotel prices when the customers arrive.

Monarch 8.2014 Map

Where do Monarch fly to? Which destinations?

Where can I fly to with Monarch?

Of course we have a look at how many passengers travel to this destination already and what the destination can offer to our customers. One example is our decision to fly to Salzburg in the winter months as a Ski destination. It offers a wide variety of ski and winter experiences has a very good infrastructure and at the same time is an interesting city destinations.

Can you please tell us why are some routes released before others?

After the schedule is approved it is exported to the Monarch sales-system and put on sale for our customers to purchase. Sometimes we decide not to put every flight on sale as we are still waiting on confirmation of airport-slots. In some instances we also wait and see whether certain destinations are booked much better than anticipated. We can then have more flights to popular destinations.

Why do some UK airports have more flights than others?

This is due to different customer demand being different from the regions. Our customer profile and preferences are very different across the UK bases we travel from.

What’s the most interesting part of the process for you Marjan? Is it quite challenging?

I’d say the most interesting part is that each individual route does has its own “personality” and typical customer which I find fascinating. My team and I like exploring this”personality” through analysing data.

And while doing so you look outside the window and see a Monarch aircraft taking off… it is a fantastic feeling to know that onboard that aircraft are customers jetting off to start their short-break weekend or holiday. This is quite rewarding.

When I first started at Monarch in March this year, I thought that the travel behaviour of customers would be the same from all the UK bases we fly from but actually in reality it’s different. Birmingham has different types of customers than those who travel in London – even if the flights from the two airports go to the same destination.

What is the most common customer misconception in your mind, about how flight schedules are put together?

Understandably our customers have their specific flight on their mind when thinking of schedules and ask why I cannot put flights at certain times in the day. Unfortunately it is not always that easy. Our customers rarely know how much complexity there is in the airline industry – though I am a big fan to make it less complex!

Hopefully I have given you some general insights just how complex it is when putting together a flight schedule.

It’s easier to think about a single aircraft taking one flight out and one flight back but we need to be strategic about how we move those aircraft around and make sure we are flying to and from the places our customers want to go and we need to do this for all 42 aircraft in the fleet!

Having the overview over the flow of an aircraft (and even the whole fleet) is one of the most interesting things in aviation as every aspect of an airline comes together. My colleagues and I absolutely love our jobs, as you can probably guess! I hope that helps explain everything for you and our customers.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve learnt just how complex putting together an airline schedule is, thanks so much for you time.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. With the long-range routes being cut, Monarch’s two 374-seat Airbus A330-200s will be dropped from the fleet. The last three Boeing 757-200s are also being retired from the fleet at the end of the summer season 2014. Airbus A330-243 G-SMAN (man 261) taxies at Geneva.

Monarch Airlines: AG Slide Show

Monarch Video:

Azul to fly to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood starting on December 1 and Orlando on December 15

Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras (Campinas-Viracopos) has filed with the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) for its approval for flights to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) and Orlando (MCO). If approved, FLL service will start on December 1 and MCO service on December 15 with its new Airbus A330-200s.

Schedule:

Azul FLL MCO 8.2014 Schedule

Copyright Photo: Rodrigo Cozzato/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 EI-FEL (msn 527) is pictured at Belo Horizonte (CNF).

Azul: AG Slide Show

Hawaiian to fly between San Francisco and Kahului, Maui

Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu) has announced it will offer nonstop service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Kahului Airport (OGG) beginning November 20, 2014.

The nonstop service between San Francisco and Maui will begin with flights four times a week from November 20, 2014 before moving into daily service beginning December 17, 2014. The new daily service will add a total of more than 210,000 seats to both San Francisco and Maui travel markets per year, and will be operated by Hawaiian Airlines’ wide-body, twin-aisle Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which seats 294 passengers, with 18 in First Class and 276 in the Main Cabin.

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 N395HA (msn 1469) departs from the Honolulu base.

Hawaiian Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr outlines his plans for the new low-cost, long-haul subsidiary

Lufthansa‘s (Frankfurt) CEO Carsten Spohr has outlined his plans for a new unnamed low-fare long-range subsidiary to Reuters. The new subsidiary would initially operate either with seven Boeing 767-300s or Airbus A330s. If successful, he would quickly upgrade to newer Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s (Lufthansa does not have any 787s on order).

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

In other news, the Lufthansa Group has issued this statement concerning Erbil in northern Iraq:

Following a reassessment of the security situation in Iraq, the Lufthansa Group continues to suspend its flights to Erbil until further notice.

Affected by this decision are flights by Austrian Airlines, which usually offers daily services to the city in Iraq from Vienna, as well as flights by Lufthansa, which operates to Erbil from Frankfurt twice a week.

On the financial side, the Lufthansa Group reported a first half net loss of €79 million ($106 million), reduced from a net loss of €203 million in the same period a year ago.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343 D-AIKN (msn 922) arrives in New York (JFK).

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

Alitalia and Etihad Airways finalize their €1,758 million deal

Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) and Alitalia (2nd) (Rome) today announced that they have signed the transaction implementation agreement which will result in a €1,758 million ($2.36 billion) investment to build a reinvigorated Alitalia as a competitive, sustainably profitable business.

The recapitalized Italian national airline will now be able to invest in a comprehensive strategic business plan which will see new long-haul routes from Rome and Milan, a revitalized brand, and a greater focus on Italian tourism and trade promotion. Italian travellers will be able to benefit from a wider choice of destinations while new global connections will boost inbound tourism.

Etihad Airways’ investment of €560 million will be provided through a combination of equity injections, asset purchases and other financing facilities and funding arrangements to re-structure the airline’s balance sheet. This is to be complemented by a further equity investment of €300 million from existing core Alitalia shareholders, including Intesa San Paolo (€88m), Poste Italiane (€75m), UniCredit (€63.5m), Atlantia (€51m), IMMSI (€10m), Pirelli (€10m) and Gavio (€2.5m).

Additionally, up to €598 million in financial restructuring of short and medium term debt has been provided by financial institutions and existing bank shareholders. €300 million of new loan facilities have also been extended by Italian financial institutions.

Etihad Airways will take a 49 per cent shareholding in Alitalia, for an investment of €387.5 million. Its total investment also includes €112.5 million to acquire a 75 per cent interest in Alitalia Loyalty Spa, which operates MilleMiglia, the airline’s frequent flier programme, and the purchase by Etihad Airways of five pairs of slots at London’s Heathrow Airport valued at €60 million. The slot pairs will be leased back to Alitalia on an arm’s length basis. The transaction is due to be completed on 31 December 2014.

Completion of the equity investment remains subject to completion by Alitalia and its key private and public stakeholders of certain conditions precedent and is also subject to final regulatory approvals.

Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said: “For Etihad Airways, this is a strategic, long-term commercial investment. On completion, we are committed, with the other shareholders, to build a reinvigorated Alitalia as a competitive, sustainable and profitable business that can operate successfully in the global air travel market.

“We believe in Alitalia. It is great brand with enormous potential. With the right level of capitalization and a strong, strategic business plan, we have confidence the airline can be turned around and repositioned as a premium global airline once again.

“Alitalia is the perfect ambassador for Italy and all that it represents. As we revitalise the brand, the airline will increasingly embody all that we recognise as quintessentially Italian – the history, culture, food and fashion. It must be an airline of which Italians can be proud.

“However ultimately it has to work as a business and the goal is for sustainable profitability from 2017.”

Mr Hogan said he recognized that many steps had been taken by current Alitalia shareholders, management and workers to stabilise the business ahead of new investment.

“Alitalia can succeed and it can grow again but it needs to build from solid foundations. We have made it clear from the start that our entire investment should be focused on supporting the implementation of the new business plan, which will see this goal come to fruition.

“The winners from this successful strategy will be Italian and international travellers, who will see better service, new routes and greater competitive choice; Alitalia’s employees, who can look forward to a brighter future over the long term, in a business which will grow again; and the Italian people, who can be proud once again of their national airline.

“There is a long road ahead, first to complete the transaction and then to deliver this new vision. Today marks a critical step on that journey and we are proud to take our place as a strategic investor in the new Alitalia.”Gabriele Del Torchio, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said: “This is an excellent outcome for Alitalia. We have had to take some tough decisions in a very robust negotiation process but we have achieved the consensus we require to create the right shape and size for Alitalia in the future.

“This investment will provide financial stability and enable us to position Alitalia, and the travel and tourism industry in Italy, for long-term growth.

“And for this important result I’d like to thank all the Alitalia staff – men and women, managers and workers, pilots, crew and office staff – who have worked with passion and commitment for our new launch. The transition to a sustainable and profitable Alitalia has required tough decisions but we all share the conviction that this new beginning, oriented towards growth, will bring new opportunities for everyone.”

The comprehensive business plan provides for the revitalization of Alitalia’s brand, to embody all the things for which Italy is renowned – food, fashion, culture and lifestyle – in a ‘Made in Italy’ premium service concept and guest experience.

This will be accompanied by the implementation of measures to drive increased inbound tourism into Italy and to support the country’s economic growth.

While maintaining the relevance of short-haul routes, the proposed network plan focuses on the profitable growth of long-haul flying from both Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa. This will include flights to new destinations, increased frequency in certain existing markets and an enhanced network to Abu Dhabi to capitalise on growing traffic between Italy and the UAE, and provide Alitalia’s passengers with seamless connectivity to Etihad Airways’ global network.

Starting from Winter 2014, Alitalia will increase frequency between Rome Fiumicino and Abu Dhabi from five per week to a daily service, and commence a new daily service between Milan Malpensa and Abu Dhabi. This flying will complement Etihad Airways’ existing daily services on these markets and open up a range of new connecting opportunities for passengers of both airlines.

From Summer 2015, Alitalia will also begin to implement connections between other Italian cities and Abu Dhabi, with plans for direct flights from markets such as Venice, Catania and Bologna.

Rome Fiumicino will emerge as a larger European intercontinental hub, with up to five new routes over the next four years, while long-haul flights from Milan Malpensa will more than double to 25 flights a week by 2018. Alitalia’s widebody fleet is planned to grow by a third, while its narrowbody fleet will be rightsized to meet the requirements of the new network plan.

Members of the MilleMiglia frequent flier program will be able to ‘earn and burn’ on Etihad Airways and partner airlines, with future integration of the programmes planned.

While network integration and optimization will deliver top-line revenue growth for Alitalia, the cost synergies inherent in the partnership will provide substantial opportunities. These include streamlined hub operations, and joint procurement in the areas of aircraft, engines, maintenance-repair-operations, training, catering, ground-handling and fuel. The partnership will also pave the way for the redesigning and automating processes and working arrangements in line with best practice, and the adoption of leading IT platforms.

To better serve the Italian cargo market, which is the third largest in Europe, Alitalia’s cargo business will be relaunched and expanded, with the establishment of a centre of excellence in Northern Italy, investment in handling capabilities at Italian airports, and the optimization of an integrated cargo network.

James Hogan said: “Italy is a hugely important market for Etihad Airways, from both trade and tourism points of view. The UAE is Italy’s top trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, and is home to more than 10,000 Italian citizens and 300 Italian companies.

“The possibilities when we knit together our network with those of our existing equity partners, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus, and of course our strategic codeshare partner, KLM-Air France, will provide the most compelling customer offering.”

Etihad Airways currently operates daily services from Abu Dhabi to Rome and Milan, which complement Alitalia’s five flights a week from Rome to Abu Dhabi. The two airlines also codeshare to a total of 31 other destinations.

Video: Watch the press conference:

Copyright Photo: Karl Cornil/AirlinersGallery.com. Alitalia is very likely to receive a brand overhaul including a new aircraft livery. Airbus A330-202 EI-EJO (msn 1327) arrives back at the Rome (Fiumicino) hub painted in the updated 2006 livery.

Alitalia (2nd): AG Slide Show

Etihad Airways: AG Slide Show

Will Russia restrict European airlines from overflying Siberia?

According to Reuters, “Russia may restrict or ban European airlines from flying over Siberia on busy Asian routes, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, following Western sanctions which have grounded one Russian carrier (Dobrolet) and a billionaire’s private jet.

The Russian business daily Vedomosti quoted unnamed sources as saying the foreign and transport ministries were discussing possible action which might force EU airlines into long and costly detours and put them at a disadvantage to Asian rivals.”

Aeroflot Russian Airlines (Moscow) receives around $300 million in revenue every year due to overflight fees by European Union carriers.

If this happens, will there be further retaliation against Aeroflot and other Russian carriers? Can Russia afford the loss of revenue?

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Read the analysis from Bloomberg Businessweek: CLICK HERE

Top Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Can Aeroflot afford this loss of revenue and possible further restrictions in Europe? Boeing 777-3M0 ER VP-BGF (msn 41686) arrives in New York (JFK).

Aeroflot: AG Slide Show

Finnair: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. If Siberian overflights are banned by Russia, one of the potentially most impacted European carriers could be Finnair which has expanded its route network to Asia through its modern and efficient Helsinki hub. For Finnair, avoiding Russian airspace could be a major and expensive challenge.

 

Some airlines including the Lufthansa Group, QANTAS and Royal Jordanian are temporarily avoiding Iraqi airspace

Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa) (Frankfurt) is not flying over Iraq through today. The Group issued this statement:

After renewed consultation, the Lufthansa Group has decided effective immediately not to fly over Iraq until and including Sunday. This includes flights to Erbil in northern Iraq for this time period. Normally, Lufthansa flies twice weekly to Erbil and Austrian Airlines operates a daily flight. The company is also in regular and close contact with the responsible security authorities in Iraq regarding flight safety. Based on our own evaluations there is currently no danger in flying over Iraq or for Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines flights to the north Iraq city of Erbil. Nevertheless and as a precautionary measure the Lufthansa Group has decided to avoid Iraqi air space effective immediately and including Sunday. The reason for this is that the background of the decision made by some aviation authorities is not clear yet and needs a comprehensive evaluation. With this step the company carries the growing uncertainty of customers and crew members that results from the different evaluations of aviation officials. Lufthansa regrets the resulting inconvenience for its customers. However, the safety and security of its passengers is the highest priority of the company. The changed flight routes apply to all group airlines. In addition to Lufthansa, this includes Lufthansa Cargo, Austrian Airlines and Swiss. By avoiding Iraqi air space flight times will not significantly increase.

Meanwhile QANTAS Airways issued this statement about Iraqi airspace:

Qantas has closely monitored the issue of flight paths over conflict zones, particularly in light of the MH 17 tragedy, with safety our first priority.

We have no new information that alters our safety assessment of flying over Iraq, especially given the altitudes we maintain over this region.

However, given the various restrictions imposed by different governments in the past 24 hours, including by the United States’ FAA, QANTAS temporarily rerouted its flights within the Middle East to avoid Iraqi airspace. This change will apply until further information becomes available.

The flight path adjustment applies to services between Dubai and London, and is not expected to significantly increase flight times on this route.

We will continue to assess this situation and make any further amends we think are prudent.

In addition, Royal Jordanian suspended all flights to Baghdad for at least 24 hours on security grounds yesterday according to Reuters.

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343 D-AIKE (msn 636) departs from Toronto (Pearson).

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

Iberia to add Airbus A330-200s and A350-900s to replace the A340s

Iberia A350-900 (13)(Flt)(IAG)(LRW)

Iberia (Iberia) will be getting new additional long-range aircraft to replace its older Airbus A340s. Parent IAG has made this announcement:

International Airlines Group (IAG) is converting eight Airbus A350-900 aircraft options into firm orders and securing eight A330-200 aircraft for Iberia.

These aircraft will replace 16 Airbus A340 family aircraft in Iberia’s long-haul fleet and will be delivered between 2015 and 2020.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “Iberia has taken significant steps to restructure its business and the progress made so far means that we can bring new longhaul aircraft into the airline’s fleet. These orders demonstrate our commitment to make Iberia competitive.

“Both aircraft will provide cost efficiencies and environmental benefits, enabling Iberia to replace its long haul fleet with modern and fuel efficient aircraft. The new technology and improved aerodynamics will lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat by 18 per cent, as well as providing both noise and NOx performance advantages.

“Retaining an all Airbus long-haul fleet will also generate cost savings in maintenance and crewing”.

IAG secured commercial terms for the A350 aircraft as part of the Group long-haul order announced in April 2013.

The eight A330 aircraft will be obtained either by converting existing options from the 2011 Airbus order or from the operating lease market, depending on financial and delivery terms.

Image: Airbus/IAG.

Iberia:

Gulf Air adds its first retrofitted Airbus A330-200

Gulf Air (Bahrain) received its first retrofitted Airbus A330-200 aircraft at Bahrain International Airport today (July 23), arriving from Canada. The plane is newly configured for a total of 214 seats in a two-class configuration of 30 Falcon Gold Class and 184 Economy seats with significant enhancements across both cabins.

Gulf Air A330-200 Cabin (Gulf Air)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Gulf Air.

The revamped A330 product introduces fully-flat bed seats in the airline’s Falcon Gold Class, upgraded seats in Economy Class and a state-of-the-art in-flight-entertainment system throughout, and was designed specifically for Gulf Air, integrating features based on passenger feedback.

Realized by three key partners: Avianor, Zodiac Aerospace and BE, the aircraft’s new Falcon Gold seats convert into fully-flat beds measuring 1.90 meters in length guaranteeing a comfortable night’s sleep. The Falcon Gold seats offer more personal space between seats than the airline’s previous A330 business class product, allowing passengers to sit back and relax in a 22-inch wide armchair that converts easily into the passenger’s desired position. The new Economy Class seats offer passengers the very latest in comfort: a greater recline to compliment an 18-inch seat-width and an adjustable head and foot rest that allows greater passenger relaxation.

All seats in Gulf Air’s upgraded A330 aircraft include an integrated Audio-Video on Demand (AVOD) feature, an individual touch screen (15-inch in Falcon Gold class and 9-inch in Economy) in every seat and high quality headphones. A suite of movies, video and audio titles in several languages are on offer, in addition to games. A USB port is available in every seat to allow passengers to easily charge electronic devices.

Gulf Air’s second retrofitted A330 is scheduled to arrive in early August while the carrier’s A330 fleet retrofit is scheduled to be completed by the last quarter of 2014.

Gulf Air’s A330 aircraft are used primarily on London and Bangkok routes.

Top Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 A9C-KJ (msn 992) taxies at Zurich.

Gulf Air: AG Slide Show

Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330-200 is hit by a rocket and burns at Tripoli, other airliners damaged, others flee Libya

Afriqiyah A330-200 Fire Tripoli (Grd)(Mohanid Elghadi)(LR)

Afriqiyah Airways (Tripoli) has lost a relatively new Airbus A330-200 (5A-ONF) at its Tripoli base after a rocket reportedly hit the parked A330 at the gate and the empty airliner quickly burned. There are now photos showing the destruction.

According to Malta Today, “Several Grad rocket struck the airport late on Monday, July 14 destroying 90% of the planes parked there, including a $250 million Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330.”

The fighting by the two militia groups to control the the airport after a cease fire failed to hold continues today. The undamaged airliners and crews are being flown out of the country.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, “The weeklong fight over the airport is being waged by a powerful militia from the western city of Zintan, which controls the facility, and Islamist-led militias, including fighters from Misrata, east of Tripoli. The clashes resumed early Sunday (July 20) after cease-fire efforts failed.”

Read the full story from Malta Today: CLICK HERE

Read the full story from the Ottawa Citizen: CLICK HERE

Twitter photos by Mohanid Elghadi. Read his full report: CLICK HERE

Afriqiyah logo

Afriqiyah Airways: AG Slide Show

Afriqiyah A330-200 Fire Tripoli (Grd-1)(Mohanid Elghadi)(LR)

Fiji Airways Group’s operating profit jumps to $9.3 million for the first half

Fiji Airways Group (Fiji Airways and Fiji Link) (Suva, Fiji) reported its unaudited interim results for the first half of 2014, announcing a massive increase in operating profits compared with the corresponding period last year. The Group, legally known as Air Pacific Limited, comprises of Fiji Airways (Fiji’s National Airline), its subsidiary Fiji Link and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island. The Group recorded an underlying operating profit of $17.2 million FJD ($9.3 million US) from January 1 to June 30, 2014.

Stefan Pichler, Managing Director and CEO attributed the strong performance to higher load factors, more efficient cost management, streamlined management structures and a highly motivated staff.

Fiji Airways’ load factor increased by 10 percent in the first six months.

Copyright Photo: Colin Hunter/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 DQ-FJV (msn 1465) touches down in Auckland.

Fiji Airways Slide Show: CLICK HERE

US Airways and Finnair launch their codeshare agreement

US Airways (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth) yesterday (July 16) launched its codeshare agreement with trans-Atlantic joint business partner Finnair (Helsinki), further enhancing its relationship with the fellow oneworld alliance member and providing customers increased access to Helsinki and beyond. Customers can now book tickets for codeshare flights for travel beginning July 24.

Through the codeshare, customers can now book Finnair flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Helsinki Airport (HEL) and beyond. The codeshare will extend to additional Finnair flights from Helsinki, providing customers more access to 11 destinations including Brussels, Oslo, Stockholm and Zurich.

Finnair customers will now have more options when traveling from Europe to the United States on US Airways-operated flights to Charlotte and Philadelphia. Customers can also book travel on US Airways-operated flights beyond JFK to Phoenix.

As part of this relationship, Dividend Miles and Finnair Plus frequent flyer programs are able to earn and redeem miles on flights operated by the other carrier, providing another valuable benefit to customers. In addition, customers will now be able to earn miles when traveling on codeshare flights operated by the other airline.

US Airways joined the Atlantic joint business with British Airways, Iberia and Finnair as an affiliate member earlier this year, and will remain as such until it fully integrates with American Airlines.

Top Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. US Airways’ Airbus A319-132 N822AW (msn 1410) in the special Nevada “Battle Born” state livery lands in Las Vegas.

US Airways: AG Slide Show

Finnair: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Finnair’s Airbus A330-302 OH-LTT (msn 1088) completes its final approach to the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

Transaero Airlines signs Letter of Intent for 8 Airbus A330ceo and 12 A330neo aircraft

Transaero A330-900neo (03)(Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)

Transaero Airlines (Moscow) has turned again to Airbus to expand and modernize its fleet. The second largest Russian carrier has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Airbus for 20 A330 aircraft (8 A330ceo and 12 A330neo). This agreement makes Transaero an important launch customer and the first European airline to commit to the A330neo. The A330s will allow Transaero to continue the massive fleet modernization program and to boost its medium and long-haul domestic and international network.

Transaero Airlines launched services in November 1991, and currently serves more than 200 routes all over the world. Transaero will begin operating its first Airbus aircraft (A321) in 2015. In 2011 Transaero Airlines signed a contact with Airbus for eight A320neo and in 2012 became the first Russian customer for the A380, ordering four aircraft, the first of which will enter into service at the end of 2015.

Image: Airbus.

Transaero Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirAsia X signs a MOU for 50 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft

AirAsia X A330-900 (09)(Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)

AirAsia X (AirAsia.com) (Kuala Lumpur) has signed a Memorandum of Understand (MOU) with Airbus for 50 A330-900neo aircraft. The agreement sees the airline become a launch customer for the latest version of the best-selling widebody. AirAsia X will also be one of the first operators of the aircraft, with deliveries to the carrier scheduled to begin in 2018.

Image: Airbus.

AirAsia X: AG Slide Show

Avolon signs a MOU for 15 Airbus A330neo aircraft

Avolon A330-900neo (Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)_edited-1

Avolon (Dublin), the global aircraft leasing firm, has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for 15 of Airbus’ newly launched A330neo aircraft. Avolon becomes a launch customer for the A330neo. The commitment was signed today at the Farnborough International Airshow 2014 by Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, John Higgins, Avolon President and Chief Commercial Officer and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

The A330-800neo and the A330-900neo are two new members of the Airbus Widebody Family launched in July 2014 with first deliveries scheduled to start in Q4 2017. The A330neo incorporates latest generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features. Benefitting from the excellent economics, versatility and high reliability of the A330, the A330neo reduces fuel consumption by 14% per seat, making it the most cost efficient, medium range Widebody aircraft on the market. In addition to greater fuel savings, A330neo operators will also benefit from a range increase of up to 400 nautical miles and all the operational commonality advantages of the Airbus Family.

Image: Airbus.

CIT commits to order 15 A330neo and 5 A321ceo aircraft

CIT Aerospace A330-900 (Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)

CIT Group Inc. (CIT Aerospace) has announced a commitment to order 15 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft and five A321ceo aircraft, becoming a launch customer for the new A330neo. The Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow by Jeff Knittel, President of CIT Transportation & International Finance and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President & CEO. CIT will announce its engines selection for the A321 aircraft at a later date.

The A330-800neo and the A330-900neo are two new members of the Airbus Widebody Family launched in July 2014 with first deliveries scheduled to start in Q4 2017. The A330neo incorporates latest generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features. Benefitting from the unbeatable economics, versatility and high reliability of the A330, the A330neo reduces fuel consumption by 14% per seat, making it the most cost efficient, medium range Widebody aircraft on the market. In addition to greater fuel savings, A330neo operators will also benefit from a range increase of up to 400 nautical miles and of course all the operational commonality advantages of the Airbus Family.

Image: Airbus.

Emirates is coming to Budapest on October 27

Emirates (Dubai) will commence services to Hungary from October this year with a daily flight to the capital of Budapest.

Starting on October 27, Emirates will offer 278 seats per day on the Dubai-Budapest route, operating a wide-body A330-200 aircraft in a two class configuration.

The Airbus A330-200 will offer 27 seats in Business Class and 251 Economy Class seats.

Flight EK 111 will depart Dubai at 0820 and will arrive at Budapest Airport at 1135. The return flight, EK 112 will depart at 1505 and will arrive at Dubai International Airport at 2330.

Besides Budapest, Emirates is launching two other destinations to Europe: Oslo on September 2 and Brussels on September 5.

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 A6-EAH (msn 409) is pictured on the final approach to the runway at London (Heathrow).

Emirates: AG Slide Show

 

Air Lease Corporation orders 25 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft

Air Lease A330-900neo (Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)

Air Lease Corporation (ALC) (Los Angeles) has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 25 A330-900neo aircraft, becoming the first launch customer for the new Airbus Widebody. ALC simultaneously announced a firm order for 60 A321neo aircraft. The contact was signed today at the Farnborough International Airshow by Steven F. Udvar-Házy, Air Lease Corporation’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

Including today’s order, ALC’s total orders and commitments for Airbus aircraft reaches 225, of which 200 are firm orders (50 A320ceo Family, 110 A320neo Family, 15 A330 Family, 25 A350 XWB Family) plus the MoU for 25 A330neo’s. ALC will announce engine selections for the 60 A321neo aircraft at a later date.

Image: Airbus.

Etihad Airways to launch nonstop Abu Dhabi-Hong Kong flights on June 15, 2015 and five other destinations

Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) has announced the launch of a four times per week service between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong starting on June 15, 2015.

The new flights will complement the existing services offered by Etihad Airways’ codeshare and network partner, Air Seychelles, ensuring a daily frequency between the two cities, and bringing the combined number of weekly seats offered on the route to 3,620.

Hong Kong will become Etihad Airways’ seventh destination in Northeast Asia and its fourth destination in China joining Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.

Etihad Airways will operate a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, configured to carry 262 passengers, with 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class, offering a total of 2,096 seats per week.

The airline has also announced five other new routes for the first half of 2015, starting with Kolkata on February 15, Madrid on March 29, Entebbe on May 1, Edinburgh on June 8 and Algiers on June 17.

Copyright Photo: Andi Hiltl/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 A6-EYD (msn 658) taxies at Zurich with the special promotional “Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2014 Formula 1″ markings.

Etihad Airways: AG Slide Show

US Airways to add a second daily Charlotte-London Heathrow flight

US Airways (American Airlines Group) (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth) is adding a second daily flight from its Charlotte hub to London (Heathrow) starting on September 13. The second flight will be operated with Airbus A330-200 equipment according to The Charlotte Observer. The second flight was made possible by the acquisition of the arrival and departure slots purchased from Cyprus Airways (Larnaca).

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: David Neal/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 N283AY (msn 1076) departs from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) hub.

US Airways: AG Slide Show

Etihad Airways agrees to take a 49% equity share in struggling Alitalia

Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) has agreed to take a 49 percent share of struggling Alitalia (2nd) (Rome).

The two airlines issued this short statement:

Alitalia and Etihad Airways today (June 25) confirmed that they have agreed the principal terms and conditions of a proposed transaction whereby Etihad Airways will acquire a 49 percent equity stake in Alitalia.

The airlines will now move to finalize the transactional documents, that will include the agreed upon conditions, as soon as possible. The conclusion of the investment is subject to final regulatory approvals.

Alitalia will become the latest equity partner airline for Etihad Airways. Are there more partnerships coming, especially in Europe?

 

Etihad Equity Partner Airlines

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Alitalia’s Airbus A330-202 EI-EJG (msn 1123) in the special promotional Calabria livery prepares to touch down in Toronto (Pearson).

Alitalia (2nd): AG Slide Show

Etihad Airways: AG Slide Show

Garuda Indonesia restores the Jakarta-Tokyo Haneda route

Garuda Indonesia (Jakarta) on June 15, 2014 officially restored the Jakarta – Tokyo (Haneda) route to meet market demand and broaden its flight network.

For Garuda Indonesia, the occasion signifies an important moment in history as its echoes the airline’s first flight from Indonesia to Japan on March 13, 1962 which departed from the old Kemayoran Airport in Jakarta for Haneda Airport in Tokyo via Hong Kong, using a Lockheed 188 Electra.

The Jakarta – Haneda daily flight schedule departs from Jakarta at 13.05 (Local Time) and arrives in Haneda at 22.35 (Local Time). On the return flight, GA 875 departs from Haneda at 00.30 (Local Time) and arrives in Jakarta at 06.00 WIB. To serve the restored Jakarta-Haneda service, Garuda Indonesia operates the Airbus A330-300 on the route that features a two class layout; business class with a seat capacity of 36 passengers and economy class for 215 passengers.

With the opening of the Jakarta – Haneda direct service, Garuda Indonesia currently serves 39 weekly flights to Japan, including the Jakarta – Osaka (Kansai), Denpasar – Osaka (Kansai), Jakarta – Tokyo (Narita), Denpasar – Tokyo (Narita), Denpasar – Tokyo (Haneda), and Jakarta – Tokyo (Haneda).

Through the codeshare agreement with ANA-All Nippon Airways, Garuda Indonesia passengers will be able to fly with ANA to various large cities in Japan, such as Fukuoka, Saporro and Okinawa.

In addition, the opening of the Jakarta – Haneda service will offer Garuda Indonesia passengers the choice to continue their journey to Los Angeles and Seattle/Tacoma with Garuda Indonesia and Delta Airlines codesharing flights.

The launching of the Jakarta – Haneda direct service is part of the airline’s “network” expansion program, especially in the international sector, following Garuda Indonesia’s official entry into the “SkyTeam” global alliance.

As a SkyTeam member, Garuda Indonesia can now expand its service network to 1,064 destination cities in 178 countries that are served by SkyTeam member airlines, which constitutes more than 90% of the world’s air traffic, with up to 15 thousand flights per day.

In line with Garuda Indonesia’s continuous expansion through the airline’s “Quantum Leap 2011-2015″ long-term program, in 2014, Garuda Indonesia plans to purchase as many as 27 new airplanes, consisting of two Boeing 777-300s, four Airbus A330s, twelve Boeing 737-800s, three Bombardier CRJs, and six ATR 72-600s.

Copyright Photo: Nik French/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-341 PK-GPD (msn 144) taxies across the tarmac at Tokyo’s Narita International Aport (NRT) in the special Liverpool Football Club “You’ll Never Walk Alone” color scheme.

Garuda Indonesia: AG Slide Show

 

Air Seychelles continues its turnaround with the help of Etihad Airways

Air Seychelles (Mahe) has issued this first quarter financial statement. Previously the airline in April announced its second profitable year in a row. Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) controls 40 percent of its stock and has been very helpful in its turnaround. Its turnaround continues in the first quarter:

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, has recorded strong 2014 first quarter results with a 38.2 per cent increase in passenger numbers to 95,372, compared to the same period in 2013 (69,009 passengers).

Passenger numbers on Air Seychelles’ international network increased 77.3 per cent to 58,971, a result of more traffic between the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi, Mauritius, Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

A 66 per cent increase in revenue was attributable to improved connectivity with codeshare partner, Etihad Airways’ global network, and enhanced cargo services.

Cargo tonnage for the period rose 126.8 per cent to 1,602 tonnes, driven by strong demand from Paris, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg, enhancements to Air Seychelles’ on-ground cargo handling capability in Mahé, and the launch of Seychelles domestic cargo services.

Manoj Papa, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: “Our first quarter passenger and cargo performance indicates that we are delivering on our mandate to support the Seychelles economy both through tourism and trade.

“We remain committed to meeting these objectives in the months and years ahead, by building depth and scale into our network, organically and through partnerships, taking delivery of new aircraft, hiring more Seychellois, and bringing more guests and trade to the Seychelles.

“Air Seychelles will continue to focus on operational efficiencies, while maintaining a commitment to our guests to offer value, convenience and comfort, and being their airline of choice in the Indian Ocean region.”

At the end of the first quarter of 2014, Air Seychelles’ combined passenger and cargo network stood at five destinations in the Seychelles, Africa, Europe and Asia. The airline also has codeshare partnerships with Airberlin, Cathay Pacific Airways, Etihad Airways, and South African Airways, extending its network to 39 cities around the world.

Read the full report from the Seychelles News Agency: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Rainer Bexten/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 A6-EYY (msn 751) on lease from Etihad Airways arrives in Johannesburg.

Air Seychelles: AG Slide Show

Skymark Airlines inaugurates Airbus A330 service, delays the introduction of the Airbus A380

Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY) yesterday (June 14) inaugurated Airbus A330 services with flight BC 003 from Tokyo (Haneda) to Fukuoka with Airbus A330-343 JA330B (msn 1491).

Read the full story from ZipanguFlyer: CLICK HERE

In other news, Skymark has delayed the introduction of its new Airbus A380 up to six months due to cabin interior issues according to ZipanguFlyer.

Read the full story from ZipanguFlyer: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Olivier Gregoire/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343 F-WWKH (msn 1483) became JA330A on delivery on February 27, 2014.

Skymark: AG Slide Show

Hainan Airlines to fly to Paris from Hangzhou and Xian

Hainan Airlines (Haikou and Beijing) will open a new route to Paris (CDG) from Hangzhou via Xian on September 3. The new route will be operated with Airbus A330-200s according to Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Karl Cornil/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 B-6088 (msn 906) climbs away from the runway at Brussels.

Hainan Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

Alitalia CEO: 2,200 jobs could be cut due to the Etihad Airways alliance

Alitalia’s (2nd) (Rome) CEO stated upwards of 2,200 jobs could be cut as a result of a planned alliance with Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) as reported today by the La Repubblica newspaper and this report by Reuters. The report also states Etihad Airways is not flexible on this amount of job cuts.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. A lingering question is Alitalia’s role in the SkyTeam alliance when Etihad Airways makes its investment in the flag carrier. Will it leave the alliance? Airbus A330-202 EI-DIR (msn 272) in the SkyTeam motif arrives at Toronto (Pearson).

Alitalia: AG Slide Show

Arik Air to fly to Dubai starting on July 28

Arik Wings-arikair.com A330-200 EI-EWH (5N-JIC)(06)(Grd) DUB (MNS)(LRW)

Arik Air (Arik Wings of Nigeria) (Lagos) will spread its wings again on July 28 when it launches a new route from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The new extension will be operated five days a week with its Airbus A330-200s.

Copyright Photo: Malcolm Nason. Airbus A330-223 EI-EWH became 5N-JIC (msn 891) with Arik Air.

Arik Air: AG Slide Show

Lufthansa to resume Munich-Miami service on December 2

Lufthansa (Frankfurt) will resume the Munich-Miami winter seasonal route on December 2 and will be operated until April 30, 2015. The restored route will be operated with Airbus A330-300 aircraft per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343X D-AIKC (msn 579) touches down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

 

Azul to fly to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Orlando and New York JFK

Azul A330-200 (Azul)(LR)

Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras (Sao Paulo-Campinas) has announced the first three routes it will fly its new Airbus A330-200s to the United States.

Azul plans to start the Campinas (Viracopos) to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) and also to Orlando (MCO) in December 2014 and a route to New York (JFK) in July of next year according to Panrotas.

Azul was founded by David Neeleman, who also founded JetBlue Airways. Today, with almost 18% of the domestic market share, Azul has established itself as the third largest airline in Brazil.  Together, Azul and TRIP have at their disposal 121 aircraft and operate over 840 daily flights to 100 destinations.

Images: As previously reported, Azul will operate at least one Airbus A330-200 in this special Brazilian flag design.

Azul: AG Slide Show

Azul logo

Route Map:

Azul 6.2014 Route Map

 

Delta and Garuda Indonesia to codeshare

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) and Garuda Indonesia (Jakarta) announced a new codesharing agreement to place the Garuda code on Delta operated flights from Tokyo (Haneda) International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The flights will be conveniently timed to connect Garuda Indonesia’s flights between Jakarta and Tokyo-Haneda, offering both airlines’ customers one-stop travel between Indonesia and the U.S.

The codeshare flights are pending final government approvals and are targeted to be available for purchase in July 2014.

The Delta codeshare flights will be operated with Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft.

Garuda Indonesia will operate its Airbus A330-300 for the Jakarta – Tokyo Haneda route.

Top Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-332 ER N194DN (msn 28451) departs from Los Angeles International Airport.

Delta Air Lines (current): AG Slide Show

Garuda Indonesia: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-341 PK-GPE (msn 148) taxies at Baltimore/Washington.

Etihad Airways issues a statement concerning an equity investment in Alitalia, arrives in Zurich

Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) yesterday (June 1) confirmed that it will forward a letter detailing the conditions precedent and the criteria for a proposed equity investment by Etihad Airways that have been negotiated with Alitalia (2nd) (Rome) and its stakeholders over the past months.

The Italian Government appreciates the strategic importance of this transaction and looks favorably at the Etihad Airways – Alitalia partnership.

Upon confirmation by the Board of Alitalia and its stakeholders of their acceptance of these terms, the airlines will proceed to final documentation in order to complete the proposed transaction, in line with EU and other regulatory requirements.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said: “We are delighted to be able to move forward with this process and look forward to the successful conclusion of the proposed transaction with Alitalia.

“An equity investment in Alitalia will be beneficial not only for the both airlines, but, more importantly, it will give more choice and broader travel opportunities to business and leisure travellers into and out of Italy.”

Gabriele Del Torchio, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said: “This is an excellent outcome for Alitalia. This investment will provide financial stability and confirms Alitalia’s key strategic role as an infrastructure player in the travel and tourism industry in Italy for long-term growth.”

Roberto Colaninno, President of Alitalia, said: “We are delighted to move forward with Etihad Airways providing Alitalia with an ideal strategic partner enhancing the Company’s long term growth perspectives.”

In other news, also on June 1, Etihad Airways’ Flight EY 073 was met with the customary water cannon welcome as it touched down on schedule at Zürich Airport, marking the start of the airline’s new daily nonstop service between Zürich and Abu Dhabi.

The new Etihad Airways service builds upon the airline’s existing daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Geneva launched on June 5, 2004, bringing to 14 the number of flights linking Zürich and Geneva to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, each week.

The new Zürich – Abu Dhabi route is served by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft configured with 8 seats in First Class, 32 in Business Class and 191 in Economy Class.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-343X A6-AFA (msn 1071) in the special “Visit Abu Dhabi” c odor scheme is pictured arriving on a regular flight in Geneva.

Etihad Airways: AG Slide Show

Alitalia (2nd:): AG Slide Show

Iberia paints its Airbus A330-302 EC-LYF for the FIFA World Cup

Iberia A330-300 EC-LYF (14-FIFA World Cup)(Flt)(Iberia)(LRW)

Iberia (Madrid) in advance of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, has painted its Airbus A330-302 EC-LYF (msn 1437) in this special livery. The A330 will transport the Spanish team and soccer fans to Brazil.

The inscription across the aircraft translates as “carry the illusion of an entire country”.

Image: Iberia.

Iberia: AG Slide Show

Video: The painting of EC-LYF:

SAS unveils its new long-haul upgraded cabins

Scandinavian Airlines-SAS (Stockholm) is updating the interiors of its long haul fleet with new seats, new entertainment system and WiFi access. SAS has now released the first images of the new cabin.

According to the carrier, “seven SAS Airbus A330/A340s are having cabin upgrades. The interior design is ultra modern with greater cabin comfort in the shape of new seats in all classes. To make flights even more comfortable, a new on-demand entertainment system with HD large screens is being installed along with WiFi access”.

The airline continues:

“The materials and color scheme in the new cabins have been chosen to create a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. The seating in SAS Go and SAS Plus is designed with good storage to create extra space. All seats in SAS Business have direct access to aisles and can be folded flat for maximum comfort. The bedding comes from Hästens, the oldest bed manufacturer in Sweden, to ensure that passengers enjoy a high class sleeping experience.

The first plane with the new cabin is expected to go into service in early 2015 and the majority of the SAS long haul fleet will have the new interior within 12 months. SAS currently flies long haul to New York, Chicago (O’Hare), Washington (Dulles), San Francisco, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo (Narita) and Houston (from August 2014).

In June 2013, SAS announced that its entire long haul fleet would be renewed in the next few years. Certain aircraft in the current fleet would be upgraded and joined by new aircraft that would come into service from fall 2015. The changes are as follows:

- Cabin upgrade on seven Airbus A330/A340s
– Four new Airbus A330-300s to be delivered in 2015 and 2016
– Eight Airbus A350-900s to be delivered from 2018 onwards with an option on an additional six

About the new cabins:

WiFi access available in all classes.

Scandinavian-SAS Go Cabin (SAS)(LRW)

The SAS Go Cabin

SAS Go (above)

Seat configuration: 2-4-2
Pitch: 31″/32″
On-demand entertainment system with 9″ HD screens
One power outlet per pair of seats plus individual USB port.

Scandinavian-SAS Go seat (SAS)(LRW)

The SAS Go seat (above)

Scandinavian-SAS Plus seat (SAS)(LRW)

SAS Plus seat (above)

Seat configuration: 2-3-2
Pitch: 37″/38″
On-demand entertainment system with 12″ HD screens
Individual power outlet and USB port.

Scandinavian-SAS Business Class cabin (SAS)(LRW)

SAS Business cabin (above)

SAS Business

Seat configuration: 1-2-1
Direct access to aisle from all seats
Fully flat seats minimum 196 cm length
Massage seats
On-demand entertainment system with 15″ HD screens
Individual power outlet and USB port.

Scandinavian-SAS Business Class seat (SAS)(LRW)

SAS Business seat (above)

Scandinavian-SAS Business Class Sleeper (SAS)(LRW)

SAS Business seat as a sleeper (above)

Top Copyright Photos: Stefan Sjogren/AirlinersGallery.com (all others by SAS). Airbus A330-343X LN-RKH (msn 497) lands at the Stockholm (Arlanda) hub.

Scandinavian Airlines-SAS: AG Slide Show

Azul unveils the special flag livery for its new Airbus A330s

Azul A330-200 (Azul)(LR)

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (Sao Paulo-Viracopas) has unveiled the planned special livery for its new Airbus A330s which will start flying to the United States in 2015.

The first two Airbus A330s for Azul will be two former Gulf Air A330-243 aircraft (msn 527 and 532) which will be leased from ILFC.

Image: Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras.

Azul: AG Slide Show

Delta and Virgin Atlantic unveil a new schedule between London Heathrow and Atlanta and Los Angeles, Virgin Atlantic to fly to Atlanta

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (London) will transfer operations for nonstop flights connecting London-Heathrow to both Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport this winter, offering more choices for the airlines’ customers on key routes across the Atlantic.

Effective October 26, 2014, Delta will begin operating one of two daily Heathrow-Los Angeles flights currently operated by Virgin Atlantic. This new Delta service will mark the airline’s first nonstop flight between Los Angeles and London Heathrow and is Delta’s seventh nonstop destination between London and the United States. Virgin Atlantic will begin operating one of Delta’s three daily flights between Heathrow and Atlanta. The two airlines will codeshare on each other’s operated services, allowing Delta and Virgin customers seamless access to the expanded network.

This announcement also shows how the partnership, which launched on January 1, 2014, is increasing the network of each carrier. Virgin Atlantic will have access to Delta’s Atlanta hub, the busiest airport in the world, for the first time, providing expansive and unprecedented access for Virgin Atlantic customers to connect to points throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The airline will now be able to offer more than 100 additional international and domestic connections to its customers. This brings the total number of connections available through the partnership to more than 200.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic’s new winter 2014 schedule between Heathrow and Los Angeles and Atlanta:

Virgin Atlantic-Delta ATL LAX schedule

Combined, the two airlines operate a total of 32 peak daily nonstop flights between North America and the U.K., including 24 flights between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations. Delta recently co-located its New York, Boston and Seattle routes into Terminal 3 – Virgin Atlantic’s home at Heathrow Airport. This move provided additional choice and flexibility to customers while reducing onward transit times.

Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate two daily services to Los Angeles and Delta will continue to fly three daily services to Atlanta, until October 26, 2014.

Delta will continue to operate its Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul services from London Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

Virgin Atlantic will operate its Atlanta flight from Heathrow Terminal 3.

Copyright Photo: Luimer Cordero/AirlinersGallery.com. Virgin Atlantic is coming to Atlanta. Airbus A330-343X G-VKSS (msn 1201) is pictured arriving in Miami.

Delta Air Lines: AG Slide Show

Virgin Atlantic: AG Slide Show

 

A second US Airways flight diverts to Ireland due to flight attendant illness

US Airways (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth) had a second European flight divert yesterday (May 19) due to flight attendant illness. This incident follows the previous incident on May 10. Both flights originated in Venice, Italy.

Flight US 715 with an Airbus A330-200 with 238 passengers and 12 crew members from Venice to the Philadelphia hub was forced to divert to Ireland again after five flight attendants and this time a passenger felt ill according to this report by CNN.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Nik French/AirlinersGallery.com.  Airbus A330-243 N280AY (msn 1022) departs from Manchester.

US Airways: AG Slide Show

 

Air Seychelles to resume services to Paris on July 2

Air Seychelles (Mahe) has announced it will resume flights to Paris (CDG) on July 2, 2014.

The flag carrier will operate two weekly roundtrips from the Seychelles to Paris via Abu Dhabi, with Air Seychelles deploying its brightly-colored Airbus A330-200 aircraft (above) on the route, offering 18 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy Class.

Partner Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) will also place its EY code on the flights.

Copyright Photo: Rainer Bexten/AirlinersGallery.com. Leased from Etihad Airways, Airbus A330-243 A6-EYY (msn 751) completes its final approach into Johannesburg (JNB).

Air Seychelles: AG Slide Show

KLM operates the longest biofuel flight of an Airbus aircraft

KLM A330-200 PH-AOM (02-Leader in biofuel)(Grd)(Airbus)(LRW)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam) Airbus A330-200 operating flight KL 767 has commenced the longest commercial flight with sustainable jet fuels ever performed by an Airbus aircraft. The aircraft took off with a 20% blend of sustainable fuel made of used cooking oil, for a 10 hour flight from Schiphol airport to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.

Airbus’ major role in this test is to collect data before, during and after the flight (engine fuel system, engine performance analysis etc.) to provide insights into the use of non-petroleum based fuels compared to traditional fuels.

This flight is the first of a series of around 20 long-haul commercial flights using an Airbus aircraft in the context of the European initiative called ITAKA (Initiative Towards sustAinable Kerosene for Aviation) which aims to speed up the commercialisation of aviation biofuels in Europe.

Funded by the European Union, ITAKA is a collaborative project aiming to produce sustainable aviation fuel and to test its use in existing systems and normal flight operations in Europe with KLM. The project will also link supply and demand by establishing relationships among feedstock growers and producers, biofuel producers, distributors and airlines.

“As the leading aircraft manufacturer, our participation in the ITAKA initiative with KLM using an A330-200 – the most fuel efficient aircraft in its category – is key to our role as a catalyst in the commercialisation of sustainable jet fuels. We are very happy to have the full support of the European Union in the ITAKA project, supporting the aviation industry’s initiative to develop sustainable biofuels for aviation,” said Andrea Debbané, Airbus Vice President of Environment Affairs.

Airbus is involved in major European funded projects contributing significantly to reducing the environmental footprint of aviation, including the Single European Sky (SES) and SESAR for the modernisation of the European Air Traffic Management System and CleanSky, a programme which aims to accelerate technological breakthrough developments and shorten the time to market for new and more environmentally efficient solutions tested on full-scale demonstrators.

Copyright Photo: Airbus. KLM’s A330-203 PH-AOM 9msn 1161) wears special “Leader in biofuel” markings for the historic trip to Aruba.

KLM: AG Slide Show

Nine US Airways flight attendants become ill, flight diverts to Dublin

US Airways (Phoenix) flight 715 en route from Venice to Philadelphia was forced to divert to Dublin yesterday (May 10) after nine flight attendants on board became ill, according to CNN.

The flight attendants complained of “nausea, running eyes and dizziness” according to US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr.

185 passengers were on board the Airbus A330-200. The pilots and passengers did not report any ill feelings.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 N281AY (msn 1041) rotates from the runway at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) hub.

US Airways: AG Slide Show

Edelweiss to upgrade its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet, arrives in Las Vegas

Edelweiss Air (Zurich) starting in June 2014, and according to the airline “the Edelweiss long-haul aircraft will undergo refurbishing to significantly improve the cabin. Edelweiss Business class will be equipped with lie-flat seats and a new in-flight entertainment system including sixteen inch screens. Furthermore, Edelweiss will be introducing Economy Max that will offer passengers fifteen centimeters more legroom and many other amenities to ensure a comfortable flight. Edelweiss Economy class will also receive a makeover with new seats and a new in-flight entertainment system that includes touch screens.”

Edelweiss A330 Business Class (Edelweiss)(LRW)

The new business class on Edelweiss Air (Edelweiss Air).

 

The Swiss carrier started weekly flights (on Mondays) from Zurich to Las Vegas on May 5 and also new flights to Havana, Cuba on May 8.

Edelweiss LAS Inaugural from ZRH (Edelweiss)(LRW)

Showgirls send the Edelweiss Air passengers on their way from Zurich to Las Vegas (Edelweiss Air).

Top Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner/AirlinersGallery.com (all others by Edelweiss Air). Airbus A330-223 HB-IQI (msn 291) taxies at the Zurich base.

Edelweiss logo

Edelweiss Air: AG Slide Show

US Airways and British Airways start their codeshare partnership today

US Airways (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth), part of American Airlines Group, today announced the launch of its codeshare agreement with trans-Atlantic joint business partner and fellow oneworld® member British Airways (London), further enhancing its relationship with the British carrier. Beginning today, customers can book tickets on codeshare flights for travel beginning on May 14.

Launched in a phased approach, the codeshare will initially cover nearly all of the two carriers’ trans-Atlantic flights. Customers will now have access to British Airways flights to London from 21 destinations in the United States, and British Airways will place its code on US Airways flights to Charlotte and Philadelphia from 17 destinations throughout Europe.

The remaining flights in the codeshare will be implemented in phases and will include British Airways routes from London to more than 70 destinations throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and US Airways flights to nearly 40 destinations in North America and the Caribbean. Customers can expect to have access to all codeshare flights by the end of this summer.

US Airways expects in the coming weeks to begin implementing codeshare agreements with the other member airlines in the trans-Atlantic joint business, Iberia and Finnair, providing customers easy access to the joint venture’s combined global network.

As part of the joint business relationship, members of the US Airways Dividend Miles and British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer programs are able to earn and redeem miles on flights operated by the other carrier, providing another valuable benefit to customers. In addition, customers will be able to earn miles when traveling on codeshare flights operated by the other airline.

US Airways joined the joint venture as an affiliate member earlier this year, and will remain as such until it fully integrates with American Airlines as part of their merger to create the largest airline in the world.

Top Copyright Photo: Rodrigo Cozzato/AirlinersGallery.com. US Airways’ Airbus A330-243 N288AY (msn 1441) arrives in Sao Paulo (Guarulhos).

US Airways: AG Slide Show

British Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-336 ER G-STBA (msn 40542) beautifully climbs away from the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport hub.

 

Thomas Cook Airlines to operate long-haul flights from London’s Stansted Airport

Thomas Cook Airlines (UK) (Manchester) has announced that for the summer schedule of 2015, it will operate long-haul flights from London’s Stansted Airport to Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas, becoming the only airline to offer a long haul program from the airport.

Last year, Thomas Cook Airlines announced that from this June it will operate two aircraft from Stansted  Airport – using the larger Airbus A321 aircraft replacing the existing Airbus A320 – bringing an increased amount of flights and holidays which are now on sale for holidaymakers from the East and South East of England to a range of new destinations.

With the long-haul flights on a larger Airbus A330, the additional flights in 2015 will begin on the weekend of Friday, July 17, 2015 with two flights a week to Orlando and one per week to both Cancun and Las Vegas – and continue up until August 17, 2015.

In other news, the airline also announced that for the summer of 2015, it will operate a weekly flight to Las Vegas from Glasgow Airport following a series of one-off flights to the U.S. in recent summers. Operating each Monday with the Airbus A330 fleet, the new flights in 2015 will begin on Monday 4 May 4, 2015 and continue until October 31, 2015.

Previously the airline announced new Airbus A330 routes from Manchester to both New York (JFK) and Miami.

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 G-OJMC (msn 456) approaches the runway at London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW).

Thomas Cook Airlines (UK): AG Slide Show

Thomas Cook (UK) Sunny Heart logo

 

TAM Airlines is coming to Canada

TAM Airlines (TAM Linhas Aereas) (Sao Paulo) has been granted authority by the Agencia Nacional de Aviacio Civil (ANAC) of Brazil seven weekly frequencies for conducting mixed air services between Canada and Brazil.

The route is unspecified but it is most likely Sao Paulo-Toronto in competition with Air Canada.

Copyright Photo: Wingnut/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-203 PT-MVK (msn 486) of TAM taxies across the tarmac at London’s Heathrow Airport.

TAM Aircraft Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Thomas Cook Airlines to add new routes from Manchester to Miami and New York

Thomas Cook Airlines (UK) (Manchester) is returning and will commence scheduled passenger services at Miami International Airport (MIA) effective on May 3, 2015. Thomas Cook plans on operating twice-weekly nonstops between Manchester and MIA utilizing Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The new route is seasonal and is expected to be operated for eight months.

The airline is also starting three times a week service from Manchester to New York (JFK) starting also in May.

The airline currently operates from Manchester to Orlando and Las Vegas.

Copyright Photo: Arnd Wolf/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 G-OMYT (msn 301) with the new Thomas Cook Group “Sunny Heart” logo on the tail arrives in Munich.

The new Thomas Cook Group “Sunny Heart” logo:

Thomas Cook Group logo

Thomas Cook Airlines (UK): AG Slide Show

Virgin Atlantic reduces its full-year loss to $85.7 million for 2013

Virgin Atlantic Ltd (VAL) Group (Virgin Atlantic Airways) (London) reported its financial results for the calendar year ending December 31, 2013. The results demonstrate strong progress towards the airline’s target to return to profitability by the end of this year, with a pre-tax loss of £51 million ($85.7 million). The airline set out a two year recovery program at the start of 2013 and the improved financial performance in the first year was largely driven by an increased revenue performance and greater operational efficiencies.

These results are based on Virgin Atlantic’s new financial reporting period which now aligns with the calendar year. As a result of the change in financial year, the Group is also disclosing statements to cover a 10 month period for March to December 2013, which show a £7 million pre-tax profit.

Calendar year ending December 31, 2013 Group Performance (pro forma figures given are for the calendar year to aid comparison.)

A Group pre-tax loss over 12 months of £51 million, an improvement of 50% on the calendar year ending December 2012 (£102 million pre-tax loss). The pre-tax result over 10 months was a £7 million profit.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Craig Kreeger has committed to returning the airline to profit by the end of 2014 and has set out a clearly defined strategy to transform the financial performance of the business.

Craig Kreeger said:

“The Group has made good progress in 2013 towards our target of a return to profitability by the end of this year. We have implemented a programme of measures which put in place firm foundations for future success and our results to this point show that we are delivering against our plan.

“Our strategy has been to focus on network, alliances and managing our cost base in a way which has not impacted on the customer. For example, use of a new fuel management system delivered savings of £8m in a single year.

“We have also increased our revenues and passenger numbers, which is the result of both a committed workforce providing exceptional customer service and a loyal customer base with high advocacy. We’re thrilled with the response we’re seeing from our customers.”

The period covered in the accounts published today was a significant one for Virgin Atlantic. During the year it received approval for its Joint Venture with Delta Air Lines and launched a code share agreement with the US carrier. The partnership will deliver significant customer and commercial benefits and allow both airlines to compete more effectively in the transatlantic market.

A new domestic short haul operation, Virgin Atlantic Little Red, was launched to reinstate competition on three routes which had previously been subject to a monopoly – between London Heathrow and Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Manchester – and give renewed choice for connections to the long haul network.

It was also the first full year in which all 10 of the airline’s twin-engine A330 fleet were in operation. These aircraft delivered significant fuel savings leading to an average 6% less fuel being consumed on each flight when compared with the previous year.

Virgin Atlantic has further key developments planned for this year as it celebrates its 30th year of flying and challenging the status quo. The joint venture with Delta Air Lines is now in place, giving passengers more options to fly than ever before: including 9 flights a day from London Heathrow to New York and onward connections with Delta to 84 US destinations. The first in a fleet of 16 Boeing 787-9 ‘Dreamliners’ will arrive from the autumn, an aircraft which is expected to deliver a step-change for the business and allow the retirement of older four engine aircraft.

There will be noticeable improvements for passengers, with an industry-leading new service training program for staff, and technological improvements such as a wifi roll-out and expanded use of personal electronic devices throughout each flight. Virgin Atlantic recently became the first airline to trial wearable technology with Google Glass, and will shortly rollout a new uniform, designed by Vivienne Westwood, to showcase our customer facing teams in a sharp and colourful way.

Craig Kreeger continued:

“Going forward, the impact from our Delta relationship which greatly enhances our revenue opportunities in the US, improving result from Little Red services and improvements in selling activity, supported by a strong focus on managing the cost base and on fuel efficiency gains, mean we are confident that we will deliver on our target and return to profitability.

“We are building a sustainable and profitable airline for the future and it is an exciting time for our company.”

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Virgin Atlantic is basing its financial recovery around the pictured Airbus A330-300 and the upcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Airbus A330-343X G-VGBR (msn 1329) arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Virgin Atlantic: AG Slide Show

 

David Neeleman to bring Azul to the United States with Airbus A330-200s and new A350-900s

Azul A330-200 and A350-900 (Azul)(LR)

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S. A. (Azul Brazilian Airlines) (Sao Paulo), founded by David Neeleman of JetBlue Airways (New York) and Morris Air (Salt Lake City), is coming back to the United States (in a way).

The fast growing airline has ordered a new fleet of Airbus A330-200 and A350-900 aircraft for daily service
to and from United States gateways.

Azul expects to debut its first international flights by early 2015. The U.S. flights will be served from Azul’s brand new $1.5 billion terminal at Sao Paulo (Campinas), strategically located 50 minutes from downtown Sao Paulo.

Campinas is Brazil’s largest airline hub offering connections to 104 domestic cities. Azul’s U.S. gateways will be announced later this year.

Routes from Campinas Airport:

Azul 4.2014 Campinas Airport (Azul)(LR)

Azul will operate the new international routes with a fleet of 11 wide-body Airbus aircraft. The airline has ordered five Airbus A350-900 with deliveries beginning in early 2017. In addition, six Airbus A330-200 will be used to launch service in early 2015. The new aircraft will be leased from ILFC and will be equipped with Rolls-Royce engines. Azul’s fleet currently comprises of 80 Embraer and 56 ATR aircraft.

With less than six years of operations, Azul already has flown more than 85 million customers and changed the face of air travel in the Brazilian market since its first flight, on December 15, 2008.

The foundation of the airline was built around the Brazilian made Embraer E-jet. From that foundation, Azul has expanded to 880 daily flights, which represents one-third of Brazil’s daily departures. The airline currently operates a fleet of 136 aircraft and employs more than 10.000 people.

Azul: AG Slide Show

 

Hawaiian launches its new route to Beijing today

Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu) reached a new milestone today as it launched three-times weekly nonstop service to Beijing, the latest addition to its expanded international network and first mainland China destination.

Hawaiian Airlines launched inaugural service between Honolulu and Beijing, the airlines first destination in mainland China.

The departure of Flight HA 897 was preceded by festivities at the boarding gate at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) that included Hawaiian music and hula, a Chinese cultural fan dance performance by Phoenix Dance Chamber (below), a traditional Hawaiian blessing and presentation of lei to more than 200 passengers boarding the inaugural flight.

Hawaiian Airlines Service Launch

Remarks were given by Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines executive vice president and chief commercial officer; Mike McCartney, Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) president and chief executive officer; and Vice-Consul General Lixin Bian and Assistant Consul General Shousheng Zhao, both of the Consulate General of People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles.

Hawaiian Airlines’ new nonstop service between Honolulu and Beijing will add nearly 50,000 seats to both travel markets. According to HTA, the state’s official tourism agency, Hawai’i welcomed more than 132,000 visitors from China in 2013, and projects an increase of 37 percent in 2014. In addition, the China market is the highest spending visitor market with an average of $397 per person per day spending.

Starting today, Hawaiian Airlines operates three flights a week between Honolulu and Beijing using a 294-seat A330-200 aircraft. Flight HA 897 departs HNL at 12:01 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, crosses the international dateline, and lands at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) at 5:55 a.m. the following day.

Return flight HA 898 departs Beijing at 1:05 a.m. every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, crosses the international dateline, and arrives in Honolulu at 4:40 p.m. the previous day (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday).

As a full-service leisure carrier, Hawaiian Airlines provides all of its passengers between Beijing and Hawai’i with complimentary meals, drinks and blankets, as well as selected in-seat video entertainment on its A330 aircraft.

Top Copyright Photo: Wingnut/AirlinersGallery.com (all others by Hawaiian Airlines). This dramatic image shows Hawaiian’s Airbus A330-243 N384HA (msn 1259) lifting off the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

Hawaiian Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

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