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Tag Archives: Airbus

Tigerair Taiwan to start operations on September 26

Tigerair (Taiwan) A320-200 WL B-50001 (13)(Grd)(Tigerair)(LRW)

Tigerair Taiwan (Taipei-Taoyuan) will launch scheduled passengers operations from Taipei (Taoyuan) to Singapore on September 26 with Airbus A320s according to Sydney Morning Herald. The new low-fare airline is a joint venture between China Airlines (Taipei) (90%) and Tigerair (Singapore) (10%). The new airline hopes to grow the fleet to 12 aircraft in the next three years.

Read the full story: CLICK HERE

Tigerair (Taiwan) logo (large)

Copyright Photos: Tigerair Taiwan. The first Airbus A320 is the pictured A320-232 B-50001 (msn 6187) delivered on August 28.

Tigerair (Taiwan) A320-200 WL B-50001 (13)(Tail)(Tigerair)(LRW)

Tigerair (Taiwan) A320 crew (Tigerair)(LRW)

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Air Serbia remains confident it can be profitable by the end of 2014

Air Serbia (formerly Jat Airways) (Belgrade) reported its first half financial results showing growth in revenue, passengers and cargo following the investment by Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi), new Airbus aircraft and a brand overhaul. The airline is now confident it will be profitable by the end of 2014. Air Serbia has issued this first half financial statement:

Air Serbia, the national airline of the Republic of Serbia, has reported strong improvement in total revenue for the first half of 2014, with revenues increasing by 82 per cent to EUR102 million, compared to EUR 56 million for the same period in 2013.

A total of 944,000 passengers travelled with the airline between January and June this year, almost 70 per cent more than the same period last year.

Air Serbia Cargo also performed significantly better in H1 2014, carrying 907 tonnes of freight, a 65 per cent increase on H1 2013. Cargo revenue grew by 32 per cent, an important and burgeoning service for Air Serbia.

Air Serbia’s passenger carrying capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs), was 1,588 million by the end of first half of 2014, an increase of 85 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Since Air Serbia’s launch on 26 October 2013, the airline has inducted 9 Airbus aircraft, with two Airbus A320 aircraft delivered in the second quarter of 2014. This has resulted in the average age of the jet fleet being reduced from 25 years to 10 years.

Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, said: “The results are very pleasing and demonstrate how effectively the Air Serbia team is working to deliver on the strategy of sustainable growth. We are on track to deliver a profitable, strong airline by the end of the current financial year, in line with the commitment of our shareholders, the Government of Serbia and Etihad Airways.We expect to maintain the momentum for the second half of 2014, as we continue to reconnect the Balkan region and new markets, through a combination of direct flights, as well as expanding our codeshare partnerships. There is no doubt that we are bringing choice, convenience and comfort to travellers”, Mr Kondić said.

The fast-paced growth of Air Serbia’s regional route network to 38 destinations by the end of June 2014, one new and four expanded codeshare partnerships and a more modern and reliable fleet, are the key factors driving growth in passenger numbers and cargo volumes.

In the first half of the year, Air Serbia launched 11 new routes. In addition, codeshare agreements with Etihad Airways and airberlin have been expanded to include the holiday destinations of Colombo in Sri Lanka and Palma de Mallorca in Spain. The codeshare agreement with Romanian national airline Tarom was also expanded to include Chisinau, Moldova.

Furthermore, the Air Serbia’s codeshare agreement with Etihad Regional, signed on July 1, 2014, has now introduced the attractive Swiss destinations of Geneva and Lugano to travellers.

The growth of Air Serbia is also creating a significant number of new jobs for Serbian nationals. In the first half of 2014, the airline grew its workforce by 300 new professionals. Investing in the future, Air Serbia is planning to relaunch its cadet pilot scheme.

Elsewhere, 10 young graduates are currently attending a graduate management program in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways and will, upon successful completion, join operating divisions across Air Serbia.
The technical department of Air Serbia has employed 44 engineers and technicians to establish the line maintenance facility at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport.

Mr Kondić said Air Serbia needed more good people to join the team. “We have a number of vacancies and I encourage Serbian nationals to visit our website. We are a Serbian company that can offer rewarding career opportunities for the right people.”

Mr Kondić said that while the operational and network improvements of Air Serbia over the past six months were very important, he was proud that Air Serbia was able to make a significant contribution to Serbia’s humanitarian effort during the recent floods which devastated the country.

During the floods in May, Air Serbia transported a total of 154 tons of humanitarian aid (with a service value of approximately EUR 170,000), in the belly-hold capacity of its aircraft to Belgrade and also to Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 YU-APH (msn 2645) arrives in Zurich.

Air Serbia: AG Slide Show

Alitalia to phase out the Air One brand on October 1

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

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

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

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

Air One: AG Slide Show

Alitalia (2nd): AG Slide Show

Air One logo

Current routes from Venice:

Air One 8.2014 Venice Route Map

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial and Operating Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Position

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

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

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

Game Change Program Strategy Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virgin Vision 2017

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

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

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

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

Capitalizing on growth business opportunities

Velocity Frequent Flyer

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

Charter

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

Freight

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

Tigerair Australia

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

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

“This includes:

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

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

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

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

Drive yield enhancement

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

$1 billion cost program

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

Enhancing procurement – individually and with alliance partners.

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

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

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

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

Set a new standard in customer experience

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

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

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

Develop our people to their full potential

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

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

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

Conclusion and Outlook

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

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

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

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

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

Virgin Australia: AG Slide Show

Lufthansa Group reinstates flights to Erbil, Iraq

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

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

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

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

Austrian Airlines: AG Slide Show

Frontier Airlines to expand in Cincinnati with five new destinations

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

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

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

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

Frontier Airlines:

The first delivery Airbus A350 is painted for Qatar Airways

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

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

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

Qatar Airways: AG Slide Show

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

Aegean Airlines orders two more Airbus A320s

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

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

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

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

Aegean Airlines: AG Slide Show

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

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

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

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

Profile on David Barger (from JetBlue Airways):

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

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

JetBlue Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Dave Barger.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas – increase from flights twice weekly to daily service

Phoenix – increase from twice weekly to four flights a week

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

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

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

Frontier Airlines: AG Slide Show

Aeroflot to return to Tbilisi, Georgia

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

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

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

Aeroflot: AG Slide Show

 

Swiss to drop the Zurich-Kiev route on October 1

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

The airline issued this short statement:

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

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

Swiss: AG Slide Show

VivaAerobus to add two new routes to Houston

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

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

VivaAerobus: AG Slide Show

Route Map:

VivaAerobus 8.2014 Route Map

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

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

The route was not meeting the airline’s expectations.

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

United Airlines (current): AG Slide Show

Germania to create a Swiss subsidiary to fly for Hotelplan

Germania Fluggesellschaft (Berlin) will create a new Swiss subsidiary to be based in Zurich. Operations will commence in March 2015 with one Airbus A319 for tour operator Hotelplan according to Aero.de.  The new unnamed subsidiary is currently going through the AOC process as a Swiss airline.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 D-ASTZ (msn 3019) departs from the lunar landscape of Tenerife Sur in the the Canary Islands.

Germania: AG Slide Show

Airberlin returns to the black, posts a 2Q net profit of $11.4 million, will work closer with Alitalia

Airberlin (airberlin.com) (Berlin) reported a net profit of €8.6 million ($11.4 million) for the second quarter, reversing a net loss of €38 million ($50.4 million) for the same quarter a year ago.

The company issued this full report:

In a difficult market environment, Airberlin achieved a slightly improved operating result (EBIT) in the second quarter of the year with turnover up by 2,9% to 1,146.4 million euros. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Airberlin was able to improve EBIT (Earnings before Interest and Tax) to -6.9 million euros from -8.1 million euros in the previous year. Taking into account other operating income of 4.8 million euros (previous year 39.2 million euros) the annual comparison on operating level shows an improvement of more than 35 million euros. Net profit was with 8.6 million euros, an increase of 46.6 million euros on the previous year (-38.0 million euros).

In particular, Airberlin was able to increase the yield by 3.0% to 120.52 euros (previous year 116.97 euros). Offering increased by 2.9% flights and 3.5% available seat kilometers (ASK). In line with market conditions, load factor was with 82.4%, 1.3% percentage points below that of the same quarter the previous year. However, higher yield revenue per available seat kilometer (RASK) was nearly stable with 7.16 cents (previous year 7.20 cents).

The cost reduction initiatives launched under Turbine last year are on track and are also showing effects in the second quarter. Year on year, airberlin managed to lower the costs per available seat kilometre excluding fuel (CASK) by 2.8% to 5.50 cents (previous year 5.66 cents). Including fuel, CASK fell by 3.7% to 7.24 cents (previous year 7.51 cents). The cost reduction was achieved despite a rise of 8.3% in expenditure for aviation tax, as well as an increase in personnel cost of 13.9% driven by wage increases and one-off costs.

A high level of liquidity

Following a successful recapitalization program, Airberlin has liquid assets in the amount of 600 million euros cash on hand and nearly 300 million undrawn cash facilities available. Compared to year-end 2013, available cash increased by 378 million euros. Following the injection of the subordinated perpetual convertible bonds equity, increased by nearly 130 million euros compared to the end of the first quarter 2014 and stood at -270 million euros at the end of the second quarter. As a reporting date under IFRS, the equity capital has no effect on the financial operation of the company.

Airberlin’s partnerships with Etihad Airways and its network partners and oneworld® have developed very well in the second quarter. The number of passengers on the shared route network with Etihad Airways continued to grow at 7% in the first half year, with approximately 270,000 guests in absolute numbers. Additional routes from Stuttgart, Berlin and Vienna will contribute to future growth. Also the number of passengers on codeshares within the oneworld alliance rose by 7% in the first half year.

First elements of restructuring program announced

When presenting the results for Q2 2014, Airberlin’s CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said: “We were able to improve the net result and our operating result is looking better than it did a year ago, but this is not sufficient. We are determined to restructure Airberlin to ensure the airline moves back to a sustainable profitability within three years. Over the last few months we have been intensively working on the restructuring program. After diligently weighing and validating all of our options in the past months, we decided that airberlin will continue to serve the three core segments, namely Europe, touristic and long haul. We substantially change the way we do business and the way we serve our market. We are able to share some first elements today.”

First elements of the program include:

Focused network:

Airberlin will focus on the largest travel markets in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) as well as Palma de Mallorca and connect these high volume routes with high frequencies in point-to-point traffic. The new network design will lead to a more stable operation throughout the year, reducing the effects of traditional high seasonality. The more focussed network design could equate to a capacity reduction in the region of 10% and will lead to a significantly more efficient operation.

Closer cooperation: closer cooperation with Etihad Airways and its network partners: Airberlin and Etihad Airways are in a process of exploiting synergy potentials in all areas in a win-win-situation for both airlines and other network partners. As a next important step Airberlin is in a process of putting together a framework for a close bilateral cooperation with Alitalia, subject to regulatory approvals.
Narrow body fleet harmonization: In order to achieve a more efficient operation airberlin will strive for narrow body jet fleet harmonization in its entire network.

Streamlining operating platforms: Airberlin is in a process of streamlining and restructuring the operational platforms it uses (AOCs). In line with network adjustments, it intends to reduce its fleet by approximately 10 aircraft. Combined with the new network approach this will enable us to eliminate underperforming elements of our business.

Close down of crew stations: Airberlin has decided and agreed after negotiations to close down five of its smaller crew bases, which will result in higher efficiency and productivity of crew resources. This measure affects the work location of pilots. This does not mean that these airports are not served by Airberlin anymore.

Enhanced commercial capabilities: Airberlin will drive commercial effectiveness with state-of-the-art commercial capabilities by optimizing our overall market approach. This includes a dedicated distribution approach in the segments we serve including our tour operator business.

Copyright Photo: Bjoern Schmitt/AirlinersGallery.com. Airberlin and the official marketing organization for the United States of America, Brand USA, are strengthening their collaboration and jointly unveiled this Airbus A320-214 registered as D-ABNB (man 5246) with this special USA livery at Dusseldorf Airport.

For Airberlin, the USA is a strategically important core market. Airberlin flies nonstop from Germany to five destinations in the USA and this summer has also increased the frequency of five different routes. There is now a daily flight from Berlin (Tegel) to Chicago (O’Hare) and the connection between the German capital and New York (JFK) has been topped up by three flights to make ten weekly connections. From Dusseldorf, Airberlin also offers ten flights a week to the Big Apple, as it did last summer. This summer there are also flights four times a week from Berlin and daily from Dusseldorf to Miami, as well as several times a week from the North Rhine Westphalian capital to Fort Myers and Los Angeles. Recently there were celebrations to mark 20 years of the connection (previously by LTU) between Dusseldorf and Fort Myers: Airberlin is the only airline to serve this destination nonstop from Europe. There are feeder flights to Berlin and Dusseldorf from numerous German and European cities. In the USA, Airberlin also offers its flight guests around 60 additional destinations through the codeshare agreement with oneworld® partner American Airlines.

Airberlin: AG Slide Show

 

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

 

Yeti Air International to relaunch as Himalaya Airlines on October 28

Yeti Air International (Kathamandu), a subsidiary of the Yeti Airlines Group, has been reformed as a new joint venture between Tibet Airlines (Lhasa, Tibet) (49 percent) and Yeti World Investment and HIF Aviation Investment according to The Economic Times. This time the airline will operate as Himalaya Airlines.

Himalaya Airlines will launch operations on October 28 on the Kathamndu-Lhasa route with leased Airbus A320 Family aircraft.

The airline will literally fly “on top of the world”.

Tibet Airlines started operations on July 26, 2011 and is 31 percent owned by Air China.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Gerd Beilfuss/AirlinersGallery.com. Tibet Airlines will likely be the operator of the aircraft for the new joint venture. Airbus A319-115 D-AVYH (man 4766) became B-6436 on delivery.

Tibet Airlines:

Frontier Airlines to start bi-weekly Trenton-Nassau flights on November 20

Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) will start the first international route from Trenton, New Jersey. The airline will launch twice-weekly service from TTN to Nassau in the Bahamas starting on November 20. The new route will be operated on Thursdays and Sundays on 138-seat Airbus A319s. The announcement was made by the airport.

Copyright Photo: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-111 N902FR (msn 1515) departs from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU).

Frontier Airlines: AG Slide Show

Allegiant announces five new routes to Florida

Allegiant Air (Las Vegas) has announced new, nonstop jet service on five new Florida routes, including one route each to Punta Gorda and Sanford (near Orlando) and three to St. Petersburg/Clearwater (Tampa Bay).

New routes announced include:

Nonstop service to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) from:

Belleville, Illinois – begins November 19, 2014
Bloomington, Illinois – begins November 21, 2014
Concord, North Carolina (near Charlotte) – begins November 13, 2014

Nonstop service to Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) from:

Peoria, Illinois – begins November 14, 2014

Nonstop service to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) from:

Huntington, West Virginia – begins Nov. 20, 2014

Allegiant differs in many ways from other U.S. airlines. The company is focused on low-cost, nonstop leisure travel, providing customers with low base fares while giving passengers the option to pay for the amenities they want, like luggage, seat assignments and priority boarding, without including the cost of things they don’t need in the price of the ticket.

Allegiant’s innovative business model has allowed it to grow from one airplane and one route 15 years ago, to offering access to low-cost, nonstop travel in more than 90 communities nationwide. This year, Allegiant has inaugurated service on 16 new routes to popular U.S. vacation destinations. Additionally, the company recently announced its 46th consecutive quarter of profitable operation while keeping its average one-way fare under $100.

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. The Airbus A319s and A320s are based at Sanford. Former easyJet Switzerland Airbus A319-112 HB-JZN (man 2387) became N302NV with Allegiant.

Allegiant: AG Slide Show

Routes from Sanford. Allegiant operates nonstop routes to SFB from small underserved markets from the eastern half of the United States to the vacation Orlando area destination.

Allegiant logo-1 (large)

Allegiant 8.2014 SFB Route Map

Is AirAsia considering an investment in Skymark Airlines?

Skymark Airlines (Tokyo-Haneda) has been retrenching. Besides the cancellation of its Airbus A380 order by Airbus, the low-fare carrier has also announced it will leave Tokyo Narita and concentrate its flights at Tokyo (Haneda). Now according to ZipanguFlyer, there may be a new development:

“On August 19, the Nikkei Shimbun reported that the AirAsia Group has started considering an investment in ailing Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY), including a possible takeover. It said that the Malaysian LCC, a very important customer for Airbus, is also talking with the European manufacturer to reduce the penalties they are seeking with Skymark for the canceled Airbus A380 order.”

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

AirAsia is currently working with new Japanese partners to launch the second version of AirAsia (Japan) next year. If this report is correct and it is consummated, it would probably be the end of Skymark Airlines and Boeing would lose a loyal Japanese customer.

Stay tuned.

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group. Boeing 737-81D JA73NN (man 39422) passes through Honolulu on its delivery flight.

Skymark Airlines: AG Slide Show

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:

Finnair slips into the red with a 2Q net loss of $32 million, faces an uncertain economic outlook

Finnair (Helsinki) reported a second quarter net loss of €23.9 million ($32.0 million), completely reversed from a €18.1 million net profit ($24.2 million) in the same quarter a year ago. Additionally Finnair could be severely impacted on its Asian routes if Russia implements airspace restrictions for European carriers on its trans-Siberian routes.

Here is the full report:

Finnair Group interim report January 1 – 30 June 30, 2014

Finnair Plc. Interim report 15 August 2014 at 09:30 EET

April–June 2014

Turnover declined by 7.2% to 565.7 million euros (609.7).

The operational result was -19.6 million euros (7.5).

Net cash flow from operating activities stood at 69.2 million euros (101.2), and cash flow from investments totalled -92.2 million euros (-46.5). The cash flow from investments includes aircraft sale and leaseback arrangements implemented during the review period as well as advance payments for the first A350 aircraft.

Unit cost per available seat kilometre excluding fuel, (CASK excl. fuel), decreased by 2.4 per cent from the previous year’s level.

Unit revenue per available seat kilometre (RASK) fell by 5.8%.

Finnair updates its guidance and estimates its turnover in 2014 to be significantly lower than in 2013 and its 2014 operational result to show a significant loss.

CEO Pekka Vauramo:

The second quarter of 2014 was difficult. Finnair’s turnover declined by 7.2 per cent year-on-year to 565.7 million euros. The factors affecting the decrease in turnover included a substantial decline in unit revenue, the loss of external turnover resulting from the restructuring of aviation services, and the weak development of tour operator Aurinkomatkat Suntours. The impact of the weak economic prospects in Finland on domestic demand and intensified international competition, particularly in long-haul traffic, had a negative effect on our unit revenue. The appreciation of the euro against our other primary revenue currencies continued to weaken our unit revenue from passenger traffic. The challenging operating environment has also been reflected in the revenue development of other airlines.

Our passenger load factors in April–June improved year-on-year, and at the same time we made progress with our cost reduction program. I am pleased that our cost reduction targets and market-based approach have been met with understanding also among our personnel, and that we were able to reach agreement on the necessary cost reductions with some of our personnel groups. However, these positive steps were not sufficient to compensate for the drop in revenue, and our operational result declined to a substantial loss at 19.6 million euros in a quarter traditionally strong for Finnair.

Achieving the cost reductions we are pursuing and reaching market level costs in all cost categories is absolutely essential in this financial situation. Finnair is very committed to achieving a competitive cost level and structure.

Outlook

Outlook on August 15, 2014:

The ongoing uncertain economic outlook in Europe and Asia is contributing to weak consumer demand in our main markets. Air traffic is expected to grow moderately in 2014. Finnair, however, will not be able to benefit from that growth without progress in its cost reduction program and its target cost structure in place.

Finnair estimates its turnover in 2014 to be significantly lower than in 2013. Fuel costs are expected to remain high. Due to delays in the personnel cost reduction negotiations and the unfavourable market conditions driving the decline in unit revenue, Finnair estimates that its 2014 operational result will show a significant loss.

Copyright Photo: Karl Cornil/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A321-231 WL OH-LZK (msn 5961) arrives at Rome (Fiumicino).

Finnair: AG Slide Show

Air Canada launches an enhanced Preferred Seats program

Air Canada (Montreal) has launched an enhanced Preferred Seats program that offers customers the choice of more seats with additional legroom aboard its North American flights while also making it easier to book a Preferred Seat through multiple channels, including the web, airport kiosks and mobile devices. Details on Preferred Seats are available at http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/traveller/seatselection/preferredseats.html.

Preferred Seats typically provide 35 inches (88.9 cm) of legroom compared to standard Economy seats that offer between 31 and 33 inches (78.74 cm – 83.82 cm). Given their popularity since the option to purchase them was first introduced in 2009, Air Canada recently completed a reconfiguration of its narrow-body aircraft to add more Preferred Seats fleetwide in its Economy Cabin. For example, on its 97-seat Embraer 190 aircraft it has increased the number of Preferred Seats to 24 from eight, while on its 146-seat Airbus A320 aircraft the number has been increased to 36 from 16. Seat charts showing Preferred Seat locations on Air Canada aircraft are available at http://www.aircanada.com/en/about/fleet/index.html. Preferred Seats are also available on Air Canada mainline wide-body aircraft and Embraer 175 aircraft operated by SkyRegional for Air Canada Express.

Customers can further personalize their travel by selecting a Preferred Seat for individual legs of their journey or entire trip through a simplified process at the time of booking or at any time prior to boarding on http://www.aircanada.com. Air Canada is also expanding its kiosk and mobile functions for booking Preferred Seats up until time of boarding that will be available starting at the end of August. The cost for Preferred Seats starts at $20 per flight segment for a Tango fare and varies with the length of each flight leg and a customer’s Altitude frequent flier status.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-211 C-FKOJ (msn 330) arrives in Anchorage.

Air Canada: AG Slide Show

Planely Speaking: Power Shift; Gulf Carriers Threat to Alliance Airlines

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

Power Shift; Gulf Carriers Threat to Alliance Airlines

By Aaron Newman

There are not many days that go by without seeing news come from the Middle East’s emergent airlines. Emirates Airline (Dubai), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) and Qatar Airways (Doha) have been populating the headlines with large aircraft orders, launching new routes, new state-of-the art airports, and lavish onboard improvements. These three airlines have made established legacy carriers across the globe uneasy as they present a real threat to the established airlines bottom line. Alliance airlines like British Airways, KLM-Air France, Lufthansa, American and United have long dominated trans-oceanic high-yielding business markets. Are these industry mainstays slowly losing their grip?

Emergence of Gulf CarriersGulf Carriers - Come fly with us

Rapid economic development of Persian Gulf countries in the 1970’s and 80’s were due largely in part of the discovery of vast oil and gas reserves and the growth of OPEC. This caused large amounts of capital to flow into these small Gulf nations. Over time, small oil nations began looking for ways to diversify their country’s portfolio in a fear that oil reserves will eventually run out. These three state owned airlines are now an integral part of their countries respective economies. Qatar Airways for example, claims to count for 11% of the state’s GDP. Supported by friendly regulatory environments, government spending on airport infrastructures, and new, reliable long-haul aircraft, these carriers have transitioned from small regional airlines to global mainstays in a decade’s time.

 

 

Keys to Success

Access to cheap capital; the Gulf States have access to large cash reserves from oil and gas resources. This enables Persian Gulf nations to finance rapid growth, and offers support with airport development and infrastructure.

Graph Source: wsj.comGulf Carriers Taking Off

Regional competition; the Gulf airlines cooperate on many issues but also vigorously compete with each other, creating the need for efficient operations and continual product development to attract new customers.

Geography; the Middle East is ideally placed to link major global population centers. It sits at a cross-road between Europe, Africa and Asia.

Emerging market demand; demand from emerging markets is rising fast as a rapidly growing middle class has the time and money to consider travelling by air for leisure and business. The Gulf is located between the mature economies of Europe and the emerging markets of South East Asia, India, China and Africa.

A New Formidable Opponent

The Gulf airlines have combined home markets of only 7.5 million people, and so must rely on connecting passengers with a hub and spoke system. European airlines have been particularly hard hit by this, watching their natural customers travel on Gulf carriers instead of the country’s national carrier. Christoph Franz, former CEO of Lufthansa Group, highlights the challenging future of his prior company on a new Emirates route from Lisbon to Dubai saying , “we are talking about passengers who until now were primarily attracted by flights from Lisbon to Munich, in order to go on to Asian destinations. At least part of them are not flying via Germany anymore,” he says. “In the beginning we were talking about a competitive threat on paper – now we are talking about reality in our markets” (ft.com).

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Etihad Airways Airbus A340-642 A6-EHF (msn 837) departs from London’s Heathrow Airport.

In a June warning to its investors, Lufthansa cautioned the possibility of downward revisions to the airlines earnings outlook. Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne cited pricing pressure from the Gulf carriers’ expansion into Europe as a major contributing factor. Gulf airlines, which are adding capacity in major European cities such as Paris and London, are also ramping up service in secondary cities like Barcelona and Hamburg. This means that they’re grabbing market share from the European carriers not only at their hubs, but also at their spokes.

Competing on American SoilGulf carriers - Average Age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gulf three now send nearly 120 large, new planes weekly to a growing number of American cities (WSJ.com). Though the United States and Canada are geographically better positioned than their European counterparts, the Gulf carriers still pose a credible threat. Airlines and governments in North America have been fighting back where they can. In Canada, the government has limited the number of planes that Etihad, Emirates and Qatar can land at its airports–a move to protect Air Canada, and its partner Lufthansa.

Graph Source: Emirates.

“Essentially, these are not airlines—they’re governments,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “They have the ability to gain advantages in markets because profitability doesn’t matter.” He said the U.S. government should revisit its air treaties with other nations to ensure there is “equity” in commerce (wsj.com). Many industry analysts say U.S. opposition has slight chance of slowing down the Gulf carriers in the deregulated era. Washington is unlikely to alienate its Mideast allies, and Boeing, the U.S.’s biggest exporter, gets 10 percent of its wide-body orders from the Gulf carriers.

Looking Into the Future

With a backlog of more than 500 wide body aircraft orders, do not expect these airlines growth to subside. According to a recent report by Credit Suisse, Etihad Airways, Emirates, and Qatar Airways will increase the number of seats offered on their Europe-to-Asia flights between 8 and 18 percent a year between now and 2020 (thefinancialist.com). I believe you will continue to see these airlines enter more secondary markets to grab market share from legacy carriers. I envision cities like Chengdu, Sapporo, Brasilia, and Charlotte N.C. as cities that Gulf carriers will have their eyes on for future growth. With new airports and new aircraft, growth is inevitable; at this point it is not a matter of if Gulf carriers will continue to grow, but it appears to be a matter of when and where.

What can European, Southeast Asian and North American airlines do in response to the new threat to their long-haul business? Airlines must first cut costs. This is critical, particularly for European airlines to remain competitive. For example, Lufthansa needs to reduce costs on flights to Southeast Asia by 40 percent to stay competitive. Another example, according to Credit Suisse, Air France and IAG (British Airways Parent Company) has 30 percent higher unit costs on flights to Southeast Asia than some Asian competitors, Turkish Airlines, and Emirates (thefinancialist.com). Secondly, airlines could reduce route competition and shelter revenue by developing mutual partnerships with the Gulf carriers.  These relationships would make it easier for both Eurasian and North American carriers to get more customers into the Middle East, India and developing nations in Africa with little investment required. As the saying goes; if you can’t beat em,’ join em.’

Emirates: AG Slide Show

Etihad Airways: AG Slide Show

Qatar Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Stefan Sjogren/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A380-861 A6-EDJ (msn 009) of Emirates arrives at London (Heathrow).

 

V Air to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2014

V Air logo explanation (V Air)(LRW)

V Air (Taipei) intends to launch low-fare services from Taipei in the last quarter of 2014. The first route will be between Taipei (Taoyuan) and Bangkok (Don Mueang) according to Want China Times with A321-200s leased from its parent, TransAsia Airways (Taipei).

The airline’s fleet will consist at first of three A321 aircraft and will be expanded by two additional aircraft each year.

V Air A321-200 WL (14) model (V Air)(LRW)

A model of the A321 in the bear color scheme.

According to the airline, The bear was chosen by the public in January to represent the airline, the smiling bear embodies all of the elements of “positive energy” needed by a new company entering the market: voyage, vision, vitality, and victory.

Images: V Air.

V Air bear

Cathay Pacific’s first half net profit rises to $44.7 million, will retire its Airbus A340s by the end of 2017

Cathay Pacific Airways (Hong Kong) reported a first half net profit of HK $347 million ($44.7 million), up from a net income of HK $24 million ($3.1 million) in the same period a year ago.

The airline issued this first half report:

The Cathay Pacific Group reported an attributable profit of HK $347 million (all amounts in Hong Kong dollars) for the first six months of 2014. This compares to a profit of HK $24 million in the first half of 2013. Earnings per share were HK 8.8 cents compared to earnings per share of HK 0.6 cents for the corresponding period in the previous year. Turnover for the period rose by 4.6% to HK $50,840 million.

A number of factors had a significant negative impact on the Group’s business in the first six months of 2014. The principal adverse factors were reduced passenger yield, continued weakness and over-capacity in the air cargo market, the continued high fuel price and a weak performance from an associated company, Air China.

Fuel remains the Group’s most significant cost. In the first half of 2014 fuel costs increased by 5.2% compared to the same period in 2013. Fuel accounted for 37.9% of total operating costs, which represents a 0.9 percentage point decrease compared with the corresponding period in 2013. In the first half of 2014, hedging activities resulted in a gain of HK $1,024 million. A significant amount of this gain is unrealised. Cathay Pacific continues to increase fuel efficiency by modernising its fleet. It is also focused on controlling costs.

The Group’s passenger revenue in the first six months of 2014 increased by 4.4% to HK $36,520 million compared to the same period in 2013. Capacity increased by 5.3% as a result of the introduction of new routes (to Doha and Newark) and increased frequencies on existing long-haul routes. The load factor increased by 2.3 percentage points to 83.6%, but the increase in passenger numbers was at the expense of yield, which fell by 3.5% to HK 66.6 cents. Passenger demand was strong in all classes of travel on long-haul routes. Demand on regional routes was generally robust, although strong competition put downward pressure on yield and demand was weak on certain Southeast Asian routes.

The Group’s cargo revenue for the first half of 2014 was HK $11,663 million, a rise of 3.4% compared to the same period in the previous year. Yield for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair decreased by 6.9% to HK $2.17. Capacity increased by 10.8%, while the load factor rose by 0.8 percentage points to 63.2%. Over-capacity in the industry remains a major concern and has made it difficult to increase rates. The airlines continued to manage capacity in line with demand in the first half of 2014. More cargo was carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft, reflecting increased use of Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft. Its new cargo terminal in Hong Kong is operating smoothly and now provides services for airlines outside the Cathay Pacific Group.

The Cathay Pacific Group continues to modernize its fleet. In the first six months of 2014 it took delivery of five new aircraft: two Boeing 777-300 ERs, two Airbus A330-300s, and (for Dragonair) one Airbus A321-200. Two Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft were retired during the period. As part of agreements entered into with The Boeing Company in 2013 the airline is selling its six Boeing 747-400F freighters back to The Boeing Company. Four of these freighters are now parked and all six will have left the fleet by 2016. In the first half of 2014, we planned the accelerated retirement of 11 Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Four of these aircraft will be retired by the end of 2015 and the remaining seven will be retired by the end of 2017. At June 30, 2014 it had 90 aircraft on order for delivery by 2024. In the second half of 2014, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair will take delivery of 11 new aircraft. Two of them were delivered in July and two of them were scheduled to be delivered in August. Four Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft will be retired, two of them were retired in August.

Cathay Pacific introduced passenger services to Doha and Newark in March and has announced the introduction of services to Manchester and Zurich from December 2014 and March 2015 respectively. Flights were added on the Chicago, Los Angeles and Osaka routes. The airline stopped flying to Abu Dhabi, Karachi and Jeddah but improved its schedules on other Middle Eastern routes. Dragonair started flying to Denpasar-Bali and Penang and increased services on a number of other routes. For cargo, Cathay Pacific tagged Mexico City onto its Guadalajara cargo service and increased it from two to three flights per week. It began flying freighters to Columbus in the United States in March. It will add Calgary in Canada to the network in October.

New Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats have been installed in all Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300 ER and long-haul Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Installation of new Regional Business Class seats is almost complete. The update of First Class seats in Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft will be finished by March 2015. New Business and Economy Class seats had been installed in 23 Dragonair aircraft by the end of June. The first Dragonair aircraft to be fitted with new First Class seats entered service in February.

The Group (which accounts for its share of Air China’s results three months in arrear) recorded a loss from Air China in the first half of 2014. Air China’s results were adversely affected by a difficult operating environment and substantial foreign exchange losses caused by the depreciation of the Renminbi. In June, Cathay Pacific announced a substantial injection of capital and loans into Air China Cargo by its shareholders. This injection is to provide funds to assist the carrier to renew its fleet and improve the performance of its main cargo business.

Cathay Pacific Chairman John Slosar said: “The operating environment for the Cathay Pacific Group – and the aviation industry as a whole – remains challenging. We face significant competition in our passenger business. This makes it difficult to maintain yields. The air cargo business remains problematic because of excess capacity. Intense competition similarly puts pressure on yield. On the plus side, we continue to strengthen our passenger network and the connections available through Hong Kong. The high quality of our products and services increases our attractiveness to passengers. We expect our new freighter fleet and new cargo terminal to allow us to compete successfully in the air cargo market in the long term.

We expect business to be better in the second half of 2014. Our financial position remains strong and will enable us, despite the current difficult trading conditions, to maintain the quality of our products and services and to continue with our long-term strategic investment in the business. As always, we remain committed to strengthening the world class aviation hub in our home, Hong Kong. Finally, we are particularly pleased that in July, Cathay Pacific was named the World’s Best Airline in the annual World Airline Awards run by Skytrax. This is the fourth time we have received this award, which is decided by public voting.”

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. As the report indicates, Cathay Pacific is accelerating the retirement of its older Boeing 747-400F freighters and the pictured Airbus A340-300s. In the first half of 2014, Cathay Pacific accelerated retirement of its 11 Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Four of these aircraft will be retired by the end of 2015 and the remaining seven will be retired by the end of 2017. Airbus A340-313 B-HXL (man 381) completes its final approach to London (Heathrow).

Cathay Pacific: AG Slide Show

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

Virgin America to expand its schedule from Dallas Love Field on April 29, 2015

Virgin America (San Francisco) has announces that it will expand its schedule out of Dallas Love Field (DAL) to include four daily nonstop round trips to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by adding one new daily nonstop in each of these markets as of April 29, 2015. This expansion is in addition to the four daily nonstop round trip flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) that will begin on October 28, 2014 and the three daily nonstop roundtrip flights to Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles that begin on October 13, 2014. The new flights will take Virgin America to sixteen departures per day from Love Field. The airline will be the only carrier at Love Field to offer three classes of service (including a First Class cabin and a Main Cabin Select premium economy service) as well as WiFi, in-seat power outlets, confirmed seating and touch-screen seatback entertainment to every guest.

The airline also announced that it will extend its popular second daily roundtrip flight between San Francisco and Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) that it started in July 2014 as part of the airline’s core schedule.

Beginning April 29, 2015, Virgin America’s flight schedule from Dallas Love Field is as follows (frequencies announced today indicated in bold):

Virgin America 8.2014 DAL Schedule

Virgin America’s current network of destinations includes Austin, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth (ends October 13, 2014), Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Cabos, Newark, New York (JFK), Orlando, Palm Springs (seasonal), Philadelphia (suspends October 6, 2014), Portland, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA). Later this fall, the carrier will launch service from Dallas Love Field (October 13, 2014) and New York’s LaGuardia Airport (October 28, 2014).

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N634VA (msn 3359) arrives at New York (JFK).

Virgin America: AG Slide Show

 

Spirit Airlines moves up the start dates of five new routes

Spirit Airlines (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood) will take delivery of some of its Airbus A320 “Fit Fleet (TM)” planes sooner than originally planned and has moved up the start date for daily flights in five routes.

The new Airbus A320 planes will arrive this fall and will be added to Spirit’s current fleet of 58 Airbus aircraft.

Here’s the summary of the changes:
Route New Start Date Original Start Date Frequency
—————————————————————————-
Atlanta – Chicago/O’Hare will now start October 24, 2014 instead of November 2, 2014 operates Daily
—————————————————————————-
Atlanta – Detroit October 24, 2014 November 2, 2014 Daily
—————————————————————————-
Chicago – New Orleans October 30, 2014 November 6, 2014 Daily
—————————————————————————-
Detroit – New Orleans October 30, 2014 November 6, 2014 Daily
—————————————————————————-
Boston – West Palm Beach* November 14, 2014 November 21, 2014 Daily
—————————————————————————-
* = seasonal service

In addition to these new routes, Spirit recently added/will add service
on the following new routes between August and December this year:
Route Service Start Date Frequency
——————————————————————-
Ft. Lauderdale – New Orleans August 1, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Houston/Bush – New Orleans August 1, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Atlanta – Houston/Bush August 1, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Kansas City – Chicago/O’Hare August 7, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Kansas City – Dallas/Ft. Worth August 7, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Kansas City – Detroit August 7, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Kansas City – Las Vegas August 7, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Kansas City – Houston/Bush August 8, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Ft. Lauderdale – Houston/Bush September 3, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Houston/Bush – San Diego September 3, 2014 Daily
——————————————————————-
Latrobe/Pittsburgh – Ft. Myers December 18, 2014 Tue/Thu/Sun
——————————————————————-
Latrobe/Pittsburgh – Tampa December 19, 2014 Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat
——————————————————————-

Copyright Photo: Dave Campbell/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 N601NK (msn 4206) taxies to runway 09L at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Spirit Airlines: AG Slide Show

Monarch Airlines to leave East Midlands in April 2015

Monarch Airlines (London-Luton) has announced that it will cease flying from its base at East Midlands Airport by the end of April 2015.

The decision to close the base is part of a strategic review under the leadership of Andrew Swaffield, who was recently appointed Chief Executive of The Monarch Group. Through a review of its network strategy, the airline is focussing on offering customers greater flight frequency and more sociable departure times to short-haul European destinations from its main UK bases. These changes are already reflected in Monarch’s summer 2015 schedule.

The change is part of the next phase in Monarch’s transformation to become a scheduled European low-cost carrier. Monarch aims to complete the transition in advance of the arrival of its new narrow-bodied aircraft fleet of thirty Boeing 737 MAX 8s, announced last month, which are expected to start entering service in 2018.

Monarch’s base at Birmingham is the nearest alternative for customers used to flying with the airline from East Midlands Airport and is only 37 road miles away. Monarch has recently launched its schedule for summer 2015 from Birmingham.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A321-231 G-OZBG (msn 1941) taxies at Palma de Mallorca (PMI).

Monarch Airlines: AG Slide Show

Airbus completes its round-the-world A350 test flight

Airbus (Toulouse) has issued this statement about the series of worldwide test flights for its new A350-900:

The world’s newest widebody airliner, the Airbus A350-900, has successfully completed a series of Route Proving trials, receiving an enthusiastic welcome at each of the 14 cities it has visited over the past three weeks. At the technical Route Proving the aircraft must demonstrate its readiness for airline operations on a global scale. This last series of trials is required for Type Certification, which is expected in Q3 this year.

The A350 XWB completed its Route Proving after landing in Toulouse, France on August 13th (17:00 UTC) coming from Helsinki, Finland. The exercise took the flight test aircraft, msn 005, across the globe on an impressive 20-day trip flying over the North Pole, each ocean and stopping at 14 major international airports world-wide. During its World Tour, the aircraft flew approximately 81,700 nm /151,300 km in some 180 flight hours, with all flights performing on schedule. The aircraft was operated by Airbus flight crews as well as Qatar flight crews on the route from Doha to Perth, Moscow and Helsinki. The Airworthiness Authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency also participated and flew the aircraft on two legs.

A major highlight was the trip from Johannesburg Tambo International Airport, located at 5,558 feet (1,694m) above sea level, to Sydney, demonstrating the A350’s excellent performance at high altitude airports. The flights from Johannesburg to Sydney and Auckland to Santiago de Chile demonstrated also its capability to fly ultra-long-haul routes or Extended range Twin Operations (ETOPS).

“The aircraft has performed remarkably well confirming the high level of maturity that it has been demonstrating all the way during our development and certification tests. We are set for the Type Certification in the coming weeks, as planned”, said Fernando Alonso, Senior Vice President Flight & Integration Tests, and added: “I truly believe that the aircraft is fit to enter into service and perform to the expectations of our Customers.”

The technical Route Proving commenced on July 24th in Toulouse/France and comprised the following destinations: Frankfurt, Singapore and Hong-Kong. On the third trip, the aircraft visited Johannesburg, Sydney, followed by Auckland, Santiago de Chile and Sao Paulo. The fourth and final journey included Perth followed by Doha, Moscow and Helsinki.

At each destination, the A350 XWB performed as expected and on schedule. Checks were made on standard maintenance as well as typical airport operations and compatibility. The automatic landing capability of the A350 XWB was also successfully demonstrated during a local flight performed at Johannesburg.

The A350 XWB is the latest addition to the market-leading Airbus Widebody product line. Offering its customers a 25% reduction in fuel-burn, the all-new mid-size long-range A350 XWB Family comprises three versions from 276 to 369 seats. The A350 has carbon fibre fuselage and wings and sets new standards in terms of passenger experience, operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. At the end of June 2014, the A350 XWB had won 742 orders from 38 customers worldwide.

Copyright Photo: Eurospot. Airbus A350-941 F-WWYB (msn 005) arrives back at Toulouse.

Finnair unveils its Airbus A350-900 cabin design

Finnair A350-900 (10)(Flt)(Airbus)(LRW)

Finnair (Helsinki) is one of the first customers to unveil its new cabin design for its new Airbus A350s which are on order. The company has issued this statement and photos:

As the European launch customer of the next-generation Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide body) aircraft (above), Finnair has completed the cabin design of its new flagship longhaul product due to enter service next year. Created by top Helsinki firm dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, also the designer of Finnair’s new Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport, the A350’s bright and spacious cabin features large panoramic view windows and comfortable seating arrangements in both classes. Gradual changes in dynamic ambient LED lighting ease customers into a relaxing flight experience and help create a calming and fresh atmosphere. All Finnair A350s will also be equipped with Wi-Fi for greater passenger enjoyment and connectivity.

“We have worked hard to create a special customer experience onboard the new A350XWB aircraft and are proud to bring Finnish design to Finnair’s passengers,” says designer Vertti Kivi. “Our Space Alive concept means dynamic lighting, colours and moods to suit the time of day, destination or season. For example, when descending in the East the aircraft can be awash in warm orange tones, or surface interiors may glow in fresh blue hues when arriving in Helsinki.”

The Airbus A350 also features an advanced pure air filtration system that changes the air in the cabin every two to three minutes. Draft-free air management, adjustable multiple temperature zones and a lower cabin pressure also enhance the well-being of passengers and crew.

Finnair A350 Business Class Cabin (Finnair)(LRW)

Business Class.

The 297-seat configuration includes 46 seats in Business Class in a 1+2+1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access to all Business Class passengers. The Zodiac Cirrus III seats convert to fully flat beds, while a 16-inch touch-screen inflight entertainment system comes programmed with films, TV shows, music and other digital content on demand in numerous languages. Seats in Business Class also come equipped with AC and USB power outlets.

Finnair A350 Business Class seat (Finnair)(LRW)

Zodiac Cirrus III wide and long full-flat bed seat.

The Economy Class cabin features comfortable Zodiac Z300 slim-line seats with a 31-inch seat pitch in a 3+3+3 layout. At the front of the Economy Class cabin are 43 Economy Comfort seats, with comfier headrests, high-quality headphones and four extra inches of leg room. All seats in Economy include an 11-inch touch screen inflight entertainment system and USB power outlets.

Finnair A350 Economy Class seat (Finnair)(LRW)

Economy Class Zodiac Z300 slim-line seat with 6″ recline.

“Since Finnair’s founding in 1923, we have had a long history of operations using the most advanced aircraft available,” says Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo. “As the first European operator of the A350 we are proud to carry forward this tradition on behalf of our passengers, whose safety and comfort remain our first priority.”

Finnair plans to begin operating its first A350s in the second half of next year, initially serving Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing, with Hong Kong and Singapore A350 service to be added in 2016. Finnair has 11 firm orders and 8 options for A350 aircraft, which will form the backbone of the company’s long-haul fleet and drive expansion plans.

The eco-smart design of the A350 also brings more than 25 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and operating cost over the previous generation of aircraft in its class, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of Finnair and its passengers.

Copyright Images: Finnair.

Finnair: AG Slide Show

Virgin America’s flight attendants vote to be represented by the TWU

Virgin America (San Francisco) flight attendants have voted to represented by the TWU. The TWU issued this statement:

A majority of flight attendants at Virgin America has voted in favor of union representation by the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), the federal National Mediation Board reported today. This is the first work group at the airline to vote for a union. TWU received 430 votes, 58 percent of those voting, compared with 307 who voted against forming a union. The election was conducted between July 16 and August 13 by telephone and Internet and 828 Inflight Team Members (ITMs) were eligible to vote.

“We’re excited about what this election means for Inflight Team Members,” said Adam Croteau, a Los Angeles-based ITM, a term the airline uses to describe its flight attendants. “We ran a very positive campaign and we believe that we can make positive changes at the airline by giving flight attendants a voice.”

Many ITMs at Virgin America were drawn to the Transport Workers Union because of TWU’s success in bargaining contracts for 11,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines.

“Part of Southwest Airline’s success is due to the airline’s flight attendants, all of whom are TWU members. Having a union behind them gives Southwest flight attendants the comfort and freedom to do their jobs well,” said Armando Fierros, a Los Angeles-based ITM. “TWU also fosters autonomy for its local unions, unlike some labor organizations. We want to run our own union and create a union culture that is uniquely suited to meet the needs of ITMs employed at this award-winning airline.”

“Virgin America bills itself as an ‘upscale’ airline and prides itself on that service that ‘team members’ offer,” said TWU’s International Executive Vice President John Samuelsen, who attended the vote count at the National Mediation Board in Washington, DC with a group of Virgin flight attendants, “With this vote, flight attendants will have a say on how to further improve Virgin along with their own work lives. This is a chance to make the airline better for both customers and workers.”

In July, the privately held company filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Only yesterday, Virgin America Inc. reported that its second-quarter profit and revenue increased, largely due to the airline filling more seats.

“We want to see Virgin America prosper,” said TWU International President Harry Lombardo. “As the airline grows and becomes an increasingly profitable and larger public company, we also want our members to be recognized for their contribution to the airline’s success. We will now focus on gaining a contract that’s fair for our new members.”

Negotiations for a first contract will begin in the fall.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 N525VA (msn 3324) approaches the runway at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Virgin America:

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

 

UPS pilots want cargo pilots to be included in Part 117 regulations due to crew fatigue

UPS Airlines’ (United Parcel Service) (Atlanta and Louisville) pilots, represented through the Independent Pilots Association, have issued this statement concerning the current regulations excluding cargo pilots from Federal crew rest standards:

On the eve of the first anniversary of the fatal crash of United Parcel Service Flight 1354, UPS pilots are calling for an end to the carve-out of all-cargo airline operators from FAR Part 117, the new pilot rest and operating rules enacted by Congress. On August 14, 2013, at 4:47 AM CDT, UPS Flight 1354 crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, killing Captain Cerea Beal, Jr. and First Officer Shanda Fanning.

“What we didn’t know then, but suspected, was the role fatigue played in this accident,” said Captain Robert Travis, President of the Independent Pilots Association. “Once the Cockpit Voice Recorder transcripts were released there was no doubt. Cerea and Shanda told us on the CVR* that they were fatigued and wanted one level of safety in commercial aviation.”

Part 117, which became effective for passenger carriers on January 4, is the first major revision of pilot flight and duty limits and rest requirements in 60 years. This new rule is science-based and designed to mitigate fatigue among commercial pilots. Disturbingly, all-cargo airlines are carved out of Part 117 for “political” reasons, as noted last week by the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon, Dr. James Fraser.

“This carve-out puts our nation’s entire aviation system at risk,” said Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “A tired pilot is a tired pilot, regardless of the plane he or she may be flying. By excluding cargo pilots from Part 117, the FAA is failing to adhere to its mission of making safety the first priority in aviation. If the FAA believes even one life lost in an accident is too many, the principle should also apply to cargo pilots.”

From the moment the FAA announced the cargo carve-out, the IPA has fought to reverse it. This includes suing the FAA.

“We had no choice but to lead this fight,” said Travis. “The crash of UPS Flight 1354 has intensified our efforts. Tragically, Capt. Beal said to our Scheduling Committee Chairman just before the fatal flight, ‘these schedules over the past several years are killing me.’ We owe it to Cerea and Shanda, their families and every pilot, whether flying passengers or packages, to end this dangerous exclusion. As we mark this difficult anniversary, I call on the FAA to end the cargo carve-out and apply one level of safety to all commercial aviation.”

Copyright Photo: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A300F4-622R N155UP (msn 841) crashed on August 14, 2013 while on approach from the north to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham, Alabama. The crew was operating cargo flight 5X 1354 from the Louisville hub to Birmingham. N155UP is pictured on the cargo ramp at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport before the tragic accident.

UPS:

Vistara is selected as the name for the Tata-Singapore joint venture

Vistara A319 (Vistara)

Vistara is the name of the new joint venture airline that wants to start premium service in October in India. The joint venture is between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Sons.

Vistara has leased 20 Airbus A320 Family aircraft, including seven A320neo aircraft, to be added to the fleet over the next five years. The airline will take delivery of its first aircraft in September and will have a fleet of five by the end of the year.

The name Vistara in Sanskrit means limitless expanse.

Tata is also involved in a joint venture with AirAsia with the start of AirAsia India.

Read the full article from Bloomberg Businessweek: CLICK HERE

Image: Vistara.

Virgin America reports second quarter net income of $37 million

Virgin America (San Francisco) today reported its financial results for the second quarter of 2014 with operating income of $47.1 million and net income of $37.0 million. The airline posted an operating margin of 11.8 percent – a 4.4 point improvement over the second quarter of 2013, driven largely by a 7.8 percent growth in revenue per available seat mile (RASM) over the prior year period.

Second Quarter 2014 Financial Highlights

Operating Revenue: Total operating revenue of $398.8 million, an increase of 6.1 percent over the second quarter of 2013.

Revenue per Available Seat Mile (RASM): RASM increased 7.8 percent compared to the second quarter of 2013, to 12.46 cents. Year-over-year RASM growth was driven by a 5.0 percent increase in yield and a 1.2 point increase in load factor.

Cost per Available Seat Mile (CASM): Total CASM increased 2.7 percent compared to the second quarter of 2013, to 10.99 cents. CASM excluding fuel costs for the quarter increased 3.9 percent year-over-year, to 6.87 cents, primarily due to higher labor and airport costs.

Operating Income: Second quarter of 2014 operating income increased by 69.1 percent over the second quarter of 2013 to $47.1 million with an operating margin improvement of 4.4 points year-over-year.

Net Income: Net income for the quarter increased fourfold year-over-year, from $8.8 million to $37.0 million. Virgin America’s year-to-date net income improved by $52.2 million from a net loss of $37.5 million for the six months ended June 30, 2013 to net income of $14.6 million for the six months ended June 30, 2014, an improvement of 7.5 margin points.

Capacity: Available seat miles (ASMs) for the second quarter of 2014 decreased 1.6 percent year-over-year. The airline ended the quarter with 53 Airbus A320-family aircraft.
Liquidity: Unrestricted cash was $180.0 million as of June 30, 2014.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Virgin America now has 53 Airbus A319s and A320s. Airbus A320-214 N840VA (msn 4616) completes its final approach to the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

Virgin America: 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

Air Malta secures its new AOC from EASA

Air Malta (Luqa) has secured its new Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from EASA. All European carriers are expected to procure their new EASA AOC by October 28, 2014. The airline issued this statement

Air Malta is proud to be the first Maltese Operator out of more than 20 operators holding an Air Operators Certificate (AOC), to have successfully completed the transition to the new European Regulations. The national airline has subsequently been issued with a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AOC in July 2014 from the Civil Aviation Directorate of Transport Malta.

The airline had to follow Commission Regulation (EU) No. 965 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations particularly those requirements for Commercial Air Transport.

The extensive process for applying and obtaining regulatory approval involved a gap analysis between the current and new legislation. In order to comply with the new Regulations and transition to an EASA AOC, Air Malta was required to perform a thorough review of all policies and procedures.

One of the main changes in the new legislation involves having a Safety Management System (SMS), which replaces the current Accident Prevention and Flight Safety Program. Air Malta introduced SMS over last winter, and in the process changed its safety processes and held appropriate SMS training for its entire workforce. SMS is a powerful tool in enhancing safety within an airline.

On presentation of the Air Operators Certificate (AOC), Louis Giordimaina, Air Malta’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Once again, our national airline has demonstrated to be the leader in the industry on our Islands and this is due to our experienced human resources in the area.”

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 9H-AEG (msn 2113) arrives in Zurich.

Air Malta: AG Slide Show

Singapore Airlines to bring the Airbus A380 to Auckland

Singapore Airlines (Singapore) will introduce the Airbus A380 on the Singapore-Auckland, New Zealand route on October 27 per Airline Route. The flight will operate daily.

Copyright Photo: Andi Hiltl/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A380-841 9V-SKJ (msn 045) lands in Zurich.

Singapore Airlines:

Iberia’s new Airbus A321 basketball world championship logo jet

Iberia (Madrid) is promoting the basketball world championship to be played in Spain this month.

The aircraft involved is Airbus A321-213 EC-JLI (msn 2563).

Video: Iberia.

Iberia: AG Slide Show

JetBlue’s flight 704 to New York has a rejected takeoff at San Juan due to an engine fire

JetBlue Airways (New York) has issued this statement:

Flight 704 SJU – JFK (Airbus A321)

186 Customers and 6 Crew

On August 9, flight 704 SJU-JFK had a rejected takeoff at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. We are currently investigating the cause. Customers and Crew were evacuated via slide. No major injuries were reported.

Customers were given the option to be re-accommodated on Flight 8104 SJU – JFK.

From CNN: “A JetBlue Airways flight departing from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was evacuated Saturday evening after one of its engines caught fire, according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement”.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

The aircraft involved is Airbus A321-231 N903JB (msn 5783), delivered new on October 7, 2013.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com.

JetBlue Airways: AG Slide Show

Gulf Air to start a new route to Moscow on October 28

Gulf Air (Bahrain) has announced the launch of nonstop services to Moscow from October 28, 2014. The airline will operate four flights per week to Domodedovo International Airport – 42 kilometers (26 miles) south-southeast from the center of Moscow and the city’s largest airport in terms of passenger and cargo traffic.

This route announcement follows Gulf Air’s recent commencement of services to a number of destinations including Sialkot in Pakistan, Tehran in Iran and the Greek capital, Athens, this year.

Gulf Air flights to Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration of 14 Falcon Gold seats and 96 seats in Economy.

Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 A9C-AF (msn 4158) arrives in Dubai.

Gulf Air Aircraft Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Wizz Air adds more routes from Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw

Wizz Air (Budapest) has announced further expansion in Riga. The airline will deploy a second Airbus A320 aircraft at Riga Airport from April 22, 2015 adding 3 new services: Hamburg Lübeck, Stavanger and Liverpool will be operated twice weekly, each. The airline has also increased frequencies on some of its most popular routes in the summer 2015 season. The London Luton service will be operated 11 times per week, while the service to Doncaster Sheffield will increase to 3 weekly flights also from April 22, 2015.

With these 3 new services Wizz Air is now offering a total of 11 routes to 6 countries from Riga.

Additionally Wizz Air has announced further expansion of its low fare route network in Lithuania. From April 22, 2015 the airline will start operating flights from Vilnius to Frankfurt (Hahn) three times a week, Belfast and Malmo twice a week, each. Frequencies on existing services will also increase in the summer 2015 season. Routes from Vilnius to Dortmund and Stavanger will be operated 4 times per week, while services to Doncaster Sheffield, Bergen and Sandefjord will increase to 3 weekly flights from April 22, 2015.

With the latest addition to the network, Wizz Air now offers 19 routes to 12 countries from Vilnius, bringing the total seat capacity in 2015 to over 1 million seats.

Finally, Wizz Air has announced further expansion in Warsaw Chopin. From January 17, 2015 the airline will launch two new winter services to ski destinations, connecting Warsaw with Verona and Turin with one flight per week. The airline will also deploy a fifth Airbus A320 aircraft adding 6 new services from March 29, 2015. Four weekly flights will operate from Warsaw to Dortmund, two weekly flights to Larnaca and Lisbon and weekly services to Alicante, Catania and Malta. The airline has also increased frequencies on some of its most popular routes from Warsaw in the summer 2015 season. London Luton, Brussels Charleroi, Milan Bergamo, Budapest, Paris Beauvais, Eindhoven, Glasgow and Liverpool will be operated with more weekly flights than before starting on March 29, 2015.

With these 8 new services Wizz Air is now offering a total of 30 routes to 16 countries from Warsaw Chopin Airport. This announcement follows earlier growth in the Polish regions of Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan, Szczecin and Warsaw Chopin where Wizz Air has increased services in a bid to bring more of its low fare services to all Polish consumers.

Lisbon, the latest, 100th addition to Wizz Air’s destination map is the capital of Portugal and one of the oldest cities in the world, older than London, Paris and Rome.

In August 2014 Wizz Air celebrates the 10th anniversary of operations from the Polish capital. In the past 10 years a total of 9 million passengers chose the airline’s low fares and great services in Warsaw. With the addition of the fifth Airbus A320 aircraft, Wizz Air’s investment rises to above $400 million (US) and the base grows to close to 200 employees.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-233 HA-LPF (msn 1834) lands in Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg.

Wizz Air Aircraft Slide Show: CLICK HERE

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

Delta continues to drop routes from Memphis

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) is continuing to drop routes from the former Northwest Airlines hub at Memphis, TN. The carrier will drop its MEM routes to both Austin and Denver in September according to The Daily News in Memphis. For MEM passengers, Delta will continue to funnel traffic to its large Atlanta hub.

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-114 N346NB (msn 1796) taxies to the runway at Memphis International Airport (MEM).

Delta Air Lines (current): AG Slide Show

Spirit Airlines and its flight attendants reach a tentative agreement for a new contract

Spirit Airlines‘ (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood) flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), announced a tentative agreement with management on a new contract. According to the union,  the agreement “includes immediate economic improvements, as well as protection of industry-leading healthcare and key quality of life provisions. The agreement, reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board (NMB), would cover the nearly 1,400 flight attendants and more as the airline continues to grow.”

Terms of the agreement were unanimously approved by AFA’s Spirit Airlines leadership, will now be sent to the membership for ratification. The leadership unanimously recommends a vote in favor of the agreement. Voting instructions will be mailed on September 10 and the results of electronic balloting will be announced immediately following the vote close on October 1 at Noon Eastern Time. Full details of the tentative agreement will not be made public until the Spirit AFA membership has had an opportunity to review the terms.

According to the union, “This deal follows the overwhelming rejection of an earlier management offer by the union’s membership. The union re-tooled its proposals based on the members’ feedback following that earlier vote, incorporated changes to reflect that membership input and pressed management for substantial economic improvements. AFA credited the NMB’s Senior Mediator Pat Sims and Mediator Mike Tosi with guiding the negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

Spirit Airlines issued this statement:

Spirit Airlines and its flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), announced that they reached a tentative agreement for a five-year contract. The tentative agreement, which is subject to ratification by the flight attendant membership, planned for fourth quarter 2014, was unanimously supported by the union’s leadership. The agreement was reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board.

“We’re very pleased to have agreed on a tentative agreement that recognizes the contributions of our flight attendants, who play a key role in providing safe, reliable, friendly service to our customers,” said John Bendoraitis, Spirit’s Chief Operating Officer. “I want to thank the National Mediation Board, AFA leadership and the negotiating committees for helping us reach a mutually favorable agreement. We look forward to continuing our close working relationship with our AFA partners and Spirit flight attendants.”

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 N611NK (msn 4996) lands at Baltimore/Washington (BWI).

Spirit Airlines: AG Slide Show

Frontier Airlines announces 10 new routes

Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) today announced it will expand its network with 10 new routes to warm and sunny destinations from Trenton, Washington, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver.

Following is the schedule for Frontier’s new nonstop service:

Denver-West Palm Beach (starts October 26) (4 days a week) A319

Washington (Dulles) – West Palm Beach (starts November 21) (4 days a week) A320

Washington (Dulles) – Cancun (starts November 22) (weekly) A320

St. Louis – Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood (starts January 8) (3 days a week) A319

St. Louis – Orlando (starts December 21) (3 days a week) A319

Milwaukee- Orlando (starts January 7) (3 days a week) A320

Milwaukee- Ft. Myers (starts January 8) (3 days a week) A320

Chicago (O’Hare) – Orlando (starts December 20) (daily) A320

Atlanta – Orlando (starts December 14) (5 days a week) A319

Trenton – West Palm Beach (starts November 21) (3 days a week) A319

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N208FR (msn 4562) with Charlie, the cougar, arrives at Washington (Reagan National).

Frontier Airlines: AG Slide Show

Updated Route Map:

Frontier (2nd) 8.2014 Route Map

 

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