Tag Archives: Airbus

Air Canada upgrades the premium cabin on the rouge Airbus A319s, opts out of the 2014 pension funding regulations

Air Canada Rouge logo

Air Canada (Montreal) has announced a number of product upgrades to benefit customers on its leisure airline, Air Canada rouge (Toronto).

The premium cabin in Air Canada rouge’s fleet of 20 Airbus A319 aircraft will be converted by mid-June 2015 from its current 3×3 seating configuration with a blocked middle seat to two side-by-side Business Class seats in a 2×2 configuration. This new seating provides customers more personal space and generous legroom as well as full power charging capacity with a 110-volt power plug and a high-powered USB port at every seat. Additional customer convenience features include a centre console and pop-out cocktail tray between the two seats and a coat hook at every seat.

Air Canada rouge will also increase carry-on space throughout its Airbus A319 fleet by 30 per cent with the installation of new overhead bin doors – dubbed “pillow doors” because of their curved shape – which allow carry-on items to be stowed more efficiently. The installation takes place this summer.

In addition to the upgrades on its Airbus A319 aircraft, Air Canada rouge is also enhancing its in-flight entertainment system on all Airbus A319 and Boeing 767 aircraft. Air Canada rouge is one of the first airlines in North America to offer a streaming in-flight entertainment system. This system, called player, is available complimentary to customers that have downloaded the free app onto their own laptops or mobile Apple® and Android® devices. Air Canada rouge also provides an Apple iPad® rental program onboard that is now renting out lightweight iPad Air 2® tablets that have been upgraded to feature dozens of the latest Hollywood new releases and popular iPad games for one and two players. iPad rentals are complimentary in the Premium rouge cabin.

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline serving more than 190 destinations on five continents. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2014 served more than 38 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 64 Canadian cities, 52 destinations in the United States and 78 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,321 airports in 193 countries. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax that ranked Air Canada in a worldwide survey of more than 18 million airline passengers as Best Airline in North America in 2014 for the fifth consecutive year. For more information, please visit: http://www.aircanada.com follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.

Air Canada rouge is Air Canada’s leisure airline. Together with Air Canada Vacations, Air Canada rouge offers competitively-priced travel to 50 exciting leisure destinations on 68 routes in Europe, Mexico, the U.S., the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Canada.

Air Canada rouge began operating July 1, 2013 with a start-up fleet of two Airbus 319 aircraft and two Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft. Air Canada rouge currently operates a total of 31 aircraft including 20 Airbus 319 and 11 Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft.

Air Canada logo-1

In other news, Air Canada has announced that it has elected to opt out of the Air Canada Pension Plan Funding Regulations, 2014 (the “2014 Regulations”), effective immediately. The 2014 Regulations became effective on January 1, 2014 and under their terms, Air Canada was required to make solvency deficit payments of $200 million per year, on average, over a seven-year period. The agreement entered into in connection with these regulations contained several restrictions, including a prohibition on dividends and share repurchases; however it allowed Air Canada to opt out at any time.

Air Canada has elected to opt out of the 2014 Regulations as following a detailed risk assessment, it believes the funding risk associated with the solvency of its pension plans has largely been eliminated. The committed deficit funding contributions over the next six years of approximately $1.1 billion under the 2014 Regulations may be redeployed to further improve the competitive position of Air Canada and create substantial value for shareholders and employees.

The overall risk profile of the pension plans, given the successful execution of a new investment policy and risk mitigation strategy introduced in 2009, is significantly lower. This is the result of and reflected in the following:

75 per cent of Air Canada’s pension liabilities are now immunized with duration-matched fixed income products, significantly reducing the interest rate risk associated with all pension plans. Air Canada may continue to increase immunization levels, subject to favourable market conditions.

Air Canada utilizes an overall risk measurement called “surplus risk”, measuring the potential variability of the plan assets and liabilities over the period of one year. This surplus risk has been reduced by approximately 50 per cent since 2009, a reflection of a more conservative asset mix policy.

The aggregate solvency surplus as at May 20, 2015, based on management estimates, is $1.2 billion, 82 per cent above the $660 million surplus level at January 1, 2015, and 13.5 times greater than the $89 million surplus level as at January 1, 2014.

As part of its due diligence and risk mitigation strategy, Air Canada, with the assistance of its professional actuaries, simulated 1,000 different economic scenarios on the current plan asset mix to determine what combination of economic factors would have to occur to cause Air Canada to contribute an aggregate of more than $1.2 billion to its pension plans under normal funding rules, over the next six years. Air Canada also simulated the past three economic crises (the 2009 financial crisis, the 2001-2002 technology crises and the 1970 oil crisis) to assess the effect each would have on the pension plan assets. None of those three economic crises would result in payments exceeding an aggregate amount of $1.2 billion over the next six years. With respect to the 1,000 economic scenarios, less than 2 per cent would result in payments of over $1.2 billion; however, none of these scenarios has ever actually occurred.

Three years ago, Air Canada’s domestic registered pension plans had a significant pension solvency deficit of $4.2 billion. The $5.4 billion improvement in the pension solvency position to the May 20, 2015 estimated surplus of $1.2 billion is a reflection of top quartile investment returns given the new investment strategy introduced in 2009 which created over $3.5 billion in value, negotiated pension benefit amendments which reduced the deficit by approximately $1.0 billion, and past service cash contributions by Air Canada of approximately $900 million over the past six years, which when added to the $1.0 billion contributed in current service costs represents a total contribution by Air Canada of $1.9 billion since 2009 to its Canadian registered pension plans.

In addition, the pension share trust created in 2009 as part of an earlier pension arrangement, and held in trust for the benefit of the airline’s Canadian employees and retirees, is currently valued at approximately $220 million. The trust provides that proceeds of any sale of the trust shares will be retained and applied to reduce future deficits, if any should materialize.

Under normal funding rules, Air Canada will make pension solvency payments of approximately $90 million in 2015 versus the $200 million it would have had to contribute under the 2014 Regulations, saving $110 million. Based on the solvency surplus as at January 1, 2015 of $660 million, and assuming similar market conditions to the current environment and given its immunization strategy, Air Canada expects its pension solvency payments in 2016 to be zero, saving $200 million in that year alone.

Copyright Photo: Steve Bailey/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-114 C-FYNS (msn 572) of Air Canada rouge arrives at Vancouver.

Air Canada rouge aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

 

Spirit Airlines to operate between Los Angeles and Oakland

Spirit Less Money More Go logo

Spirit Airlines (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood) announced today it will add new nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Oakland International Airport (OAK),
beginning on November 12, 2015.

Spirit continues its build-up at LAX. This new service will consist of two daily nonstop flights, with a morning and evening flight each way. With this new service, Spirit will operate nonstop flights to 13 destinations from Los Angeles, including Atlanta (starting on August 20, 2015); Baltimore/Washington, DC (starting July 9, 2015), Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Houston, KansasCity (starting July 9, 2015), Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Oakland (starting November 12, 2015).

From Oakland, Spirit will operate nonstop to five destinations, including Chicago (O’Hare), Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston (seasonal), Las Vegas, and Los Angeles (starting November 12, 2015).

Copyright Photo below: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-132 N502NK (msn 2433) prepares to land in Las Vegas.

Spirit Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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Volaris to expand into Costa Rica

Volaris logo-1

Volaris (Mexico City) has announced their expansion into the Costa Rica market with the launch of two new flights from Cancun, Quintana Roo and Guadalajara, Jalisco to Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, starting on September 10 with two flights per week.

Volaris is expanding its presence to Costa Rica as part of the carrier’s international growth plans, seeking to increase the country’s connectivity to Mexico’s most important cities as well the US market. Volaris CEO, Enrique Beltranena said: “We are extremely proud to announce flights to Costa Rica, a destination special not only as a natural and adventure tourism location, but also for their history and cultural heritage”.

“Two new services plus our innovative business framework make visiting Costa Rica easier than ever for our Customers in Mexico”, Beltranena added.

Separately, Costa Rica Minister of Tourism, Mauricio Ventura said, “Mexico is Latin America’s top issuing market for tourism by air, which is why Volaris’ bet strengthens the work we’ve done towards attracting more airlines and opening our markets by increasing the number of seats available to the destination and becoming a complement to traditional offerings with an option that provides good service at an affordable price,” the official said. “This also introduces an element of competitiveness in terms of fares to Costa Rica.”

To date, Volaris is the airline with the widest route network servicing Mexico and the US. The carrier has transported nearly 50 million passengers since it started operating in 2006, and this number continues on the rise as a result of more than 240 daily flights operated to 61 leading destinations, including 38 in Mexico and 23 internationally.

For those interested in the new service, flight schedules, including dates and times of operation, are announced as follows:

San Jose, Costa Rica – Guadalajara, Jalisco
(Effective September 10. Thursday and Sunday)

Departing Guadalajara, Jalisco at 7:20 hrs., arriving San Jose, Costa Rica at 9:55 hrs.
Departing San Jose, Costa Rica at 19:05 hrs., arriving Guadalajara, Jalisco at 23:30 hrs.
San Jose, Costa Rica- Cancun, Quintana Roo
(Effective September 10. Thursday and Sunday)

Departing San Jose, Costa Rica at 11:25 hrs., arriving Cancun, Quintana Roo at 14:40 hrs.
Departing Cancun, Quintana Roo at 16:15 hrs., arriving San Jose, Costa Rica at 17:35 hrs.

Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. Volaris Airbus A319-133 XA-VOE (msn 3069) (Erick) arrives in Las Vegas.

Volaris aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Malaysia Airlines is placed into receivership, operations continue

Malaysia Airlines (Malaysian Airline System Berhad-MAS) (Kuala Lumpur) today (May 25) was placed into receivership as the company transitions to a new company (Malaysia Airlines Berhad-MAB). The transfer of assets will occur on September 1, 2015. The restructuring could result in the loss of a significant number of jobs as the national carrier downsizes under its 12-point MAS Recovery Plan.

The airline issued two statements:

Malaysia logo-1

The first statement:

Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sole shareholder of Malaysian Airline System Berhad (MAS), today (May 25) announced the appointment of Dato’ Mohammad Faiz Azmi as Administrator for MAS, effective May 25, 2015.

The appointment of the Administrator will facilitate the transfer of selected assets and liabilities from MAS to the new company Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), effectively by September 1, 2015. MAS continues to operate throughout the period up to and including August 31, 2015, after which MAB will operate the business of the airline from September 1, 2015 onwards.
The appointment is a voluntary undertaking by Khazanah and is made pursuant to the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015 (MAS Act), which was passed by both houses of the Malaysian Parliament last year. The MAS Act provides for an effective, efficient and seamless means to transition the business, property, rights, liabilities and affairs of MAS to MAB.
The transition from MAS to MAB is a key component of the 12-point MAS Recovery Plan, which was announced on August 29, 2014, to restructure the national carrier and set it on a path towards sustainable profitability. The MRP also includes conditional investment funding by Khazanah of up to RM6 billion, disbursed on a staggered basis and subject to the fulfillment of strict conditions.

The second statement:

Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive Officer of Malaysian Airline System Berhad (MAS) and CEO-designate of the new airline, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), assures customers that MAS operations continue as normal with the appointment of the Administrator.

Mueller states, “I assure you our operations are very much business as usual. All MAS flights, schedules, and reservations continue to operate as normal. We remain committed to serving you with our world-class Malaysian Hospitality, and look forward to welcoming you on board Malaysia Airlines.”

“This appointment does not affect our daily operations or existing reservations. You can continue to make reservations in full confidence that our flights and schedules are operating as normal, that tickets sold will be honored, and that our Enrich frequent flyer program continues with Miles and status preserved”, Mueller added.

Today, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) announced the voluntary appointment of an Administrator for MAS. This appointment reflects the continuing and considerable effort to September 1, 2015, when MAB becomes operational with a new business model and a new management team, led by Mueller.

The appointment by Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign fund and the sole shareholder of MAS, is backed by the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015 (MAS Act) enacted by the Government of Malaysia. Under the MAS Act, the Administrator plays a critical role to facilitating the transfer of selected assets and liabilities to MAB, which will replace MAS as Malaysia’s new national carrier.

Copyright Photo below: SPA/AirlinersGallery.com. The Airbus A380 are likely to be sold with the restructuring. Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380-841 9M-MNF (msn 114) (100th A380 logo) climbs away from London (Heathrow).

Malaysia Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Qatar Airways introduces the new Airbus A350-900

New video from Qatar Airways: Airbus and Qatar Airways have collaborated to design and develop the A350 XWB. We are proud to be the first to fly the world’s newest aircraft and look forward to welcoming you on-board this aircraft. It’s truly ahead of the curve.

Qatar Airways to bring the Airbus A350-900 to Munich

Qatar Airways (Doha) has announced it will add the new Airbus A350-900 on the Doha – Munich daily route starting on October 1. The airline issued this statement:

Qatar Airways logo

Qatar Airways, the Global Launch Customer of the A350 XWB, has announced the expansion of its A350 services to Germany, with the new state-of-the-art aircraft being deployed on its Doha-Munich route.

Commencing October 1, 2015, the Doha-based airline will be launching the A350 XWB to Munich alongside its existing Boeing 787 Dreamliner service on one of the two double-daily flights to Munich.

Beginning November 1, 2015, the second daily flight to Munich will also be operated with the world’s newest wide-body aircraft, the A350 XWB, further strengthening the airline’s position in Germany as a world-class airline providing passengers with an exclusive premium travel experience.

Qatar Airways introduced its first and second commercial A350 XWB flights to the German market with flights to Frankfurt in January and March this year. The airline has also recently launched its third A350 aircraft to Singapore and will add its fourth and fifth aircraft with all three daily flights to Singapore scheduled to be operated with the A350 XWB by mid-August, 2015.

Qatar Airways’ A350s feature 283 seats – with 36 seats in Business Class in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring 80” inch fully flat horizontal beds – and a 247 seating capacity in Economy Class in a 3-3-3 layout. All seats in Business Class have a direct aisle access with 17” HD in-flight entertainment screens. Economy Class features 10.6” in-flight entertainment screens and more space for passengers in window seats, thanks to a vertical side wall panel design.

Qatar Airways currently has three Airbus A350-900 XWB in its fleet of aircraft, with 77 more on order, and is the only airline in the world to operate every family of Airbus’ modern airline portfolio. The airline, which has been serving Munich since 1998, currently operates 14 flights each week between Munich and the airline’s Doha base, Hamad International Airport, from which it flies to 146 key leisure and business destinations worldwide.

Video above: A trip report on the Airbus A350-900 from Doha to Frankfurt.

Copyright Photo below: Eurospot/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A350-941 F-WZFA became A7-ALA (msn 006) on the handover.

Qatar Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Video below: Sam Chui. Airbus A350 inaugural flight.

 

Air France to resume services to Freetown, Sierra Leone

Air France logo

Air France (Paris) on June 30, 2015, is resuming services to Freetown with three weekly frequencies from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Flights will be operated by Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 208 seats: 40 in the Business cabin, 21 in Premium Economy and 147 in Economy.

In other news, Air France will close its Toulouse, Nice and Marseille pilot bases by October which will result in the reassignment of approximately 200 pilots to Paris according a report by Midi-Pyrenees.

Read the full report (in French): CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo below: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-203 F-GZCI (msn 502) approaches the runway at New York (JFK).

Air France aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show