Monthly Archives: June 2012

Darwin promotes its hometown of Lugano

Darwin Airline (Lugano) has added large “Lugano” titles to this SAAB 2000 registered HB-IYD (msn 059) to promote its hometown.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton. HB-IYD taxies at Geneva in the new look.

Darwin Airline: 

United to launch nonstop Newark-Istanbul flights tomorrow

United Airlines (Chicago) introduces its first-ever service to Turkey this weekend with the launch of daily nonstop service between Newark Liberty International Airport and Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, beginning tomorrow (July 1).

Flight UA 904 is scheduled to depart Newark Liberty daily at 7:27 p.m. (1927) and arrive in Istanbul at 12:20 p.m. (1220) the next day. The return flight, UA 905, is scheduled to depart Istanbul daily at 1:55 p.m. (1355) and arrive in Newark at 6:02 p.m. (1802) the same day (all times local). Flying times are nine hours, 53 minutes eastbound and 11 hours, seven minutes westbound.

Initially, the service will operate with a three-cabin Boeing 767-300 aircraft, featuring a total of 183 seats – six in United Global First, 26 in United BusinessFirst and 151 in United Economy, including 67 Economy Plus seats. Later this summer, United plans to fly this route with its newly-configured Boeing 767-300, which features 30 seats in United BusinessFirst, 49 in Economy Plus and 135 in Economy. Customers traveling in BusinessFirst in this enhanced aircraft will enjoy flat-bed seats, a 15.4″ touchscreen monitor delivering on-demand inflight audio/video content, electrical and USB outlets, an iPod jack and a five-course meal with fine wines. Customers in Economy Plus will benefit from more legroom and more recline than Economy seats. Each Economy Plus and Economy seat in this upgraded aircraft features a 9″ touchscreen on-demand inflight entertainment system, and all Economy rows have access to electrical outlets.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough.

United Airlines: 

Piedmont Airlines’ fleet and passenger service employees ratify the contract

Piedmont Airlines (2nd) (subsidiary of US Airways) (US Airways Express) (Salisbury) fleet and passenger service employees have voted to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement previously announced on May 31. The new four and a half year agreement was ratified by Piedmont Airlines’ more than 3,000 employees who are represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

US Airways Express-Piedmont Airlines: 

Unsecured creditors give American until December 27 to work out their own reorganization plan

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth)’ unsecured creditors are giving AMR some space and time to work out their own reorganization plan. This time period will keep US Airways (Phoenix) away (for now) if the bankruptcy court grants this motion to AMR management.

The company has issued this short statement:

“AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, yesterday (June 29) announced that the Company and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (UCC) have agreed to jointly request that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York extend exclusivity for AMR to file its Plan of Reorganization to December 27, 2012.”

US Airways and the unions have not yet commented on this statement. Stay tuned.

Copyright Photo: Luimer Cordero.

American: 

FedEx Express plans to acquire 19 additional Boeing 767-300F freighters and convert four 777 freighters

FedEx Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of FedEx Corporation (Memphis), today (June 29) agreed to purchase 19 additional Boeing 767-300F freighters from The Boeing Company to continue to improve the efficiency and technology of the FedEx air fleet.

As part of the agreement, Boeing has agreed to convert four Boeing 777 freighters — two in fiscal 2016 and two in fiscal 2017 — to 767 equivalent purchase value. FedEx Express currently operates 19 long-range 777 freighters and now is committed to purchase an additional 24 777s.

The 19 767s will be delivered from fiscal 2015 to 2019 and replace current McDonnell Douglas MD-10Fs and A310-200 freighters. The impact to capital spending in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014 is immaterial, and estimated fiscal 2013 capital spending remains at $3.9 billion. The 767s are substantially more fuel efficient and reliable than the aircraft they will replace.

The 767s will provide similar capacity as the MD-10s, with an approximate 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency and a reduction in unit operating costs of more than 20 percent. They also increase efficiency by sharing spare parts, tooling and flight simulators with the Boeing 757-200s which are part of the FedEx air fleet.

Today’s action is in addition to a FedEx Express agreement with Boeing announced in December 2011 to purchase 27 new 767s for delivery between fiscal 2014 and 2018 and delay delivery of a number of 777s.

In June, FedEx announced the permanent retirement from service of 18 Airbus A310 aircraft and 26 related engines, as well as six McDonnell Douglas MD-10 aircraft and 17 related engines, bringing the total to 50 aircraft to be retired by the end of fiscal 2013.

Image: Boeing.

FedEx: 

Middle East Airlines (MEA) joins the SkyTeam Alliance

Middle East Airlines-MEA (Air Liban) (Beirut) yesterday (June 28) was welcomed into SkyTeam, the global airline alliance. MEA becomes the 17th member. The flag carrier of Lebanon, MEA becomes SkyTeam’s second Middle Eastern member, offering customers from the region access to an extensive global network.

MEA flies to 30 international destinations throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe. MEA’s membership of SkyTeam makes it easier for customers to travel to and from Lebanon, whether it’s for business or leisure. This especially benefits the large Lebanese communities living in the US, Canada and Brazil, who will be able to connect via the major hubs Paris CDG and Rome. Beirut is served by SkyTeam members Alitalia, Air France, Aeroflot, Saudia and TAROM, providing additional connections via their hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

China has become an increasingly important trade partner for the Middle East. With members China Airlines, China Eastern and China Southern, the SkyTeam network opens up increased opportunities for commerce in the Greater China Region.

Copyright Photo: Wingnut.

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MEA: 

Air Nigeria is in turmoil

Air Nigeria (Lagos) on April 21 was temporarily grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) due to safety concerns, except for its London (Gatwick) service.

The airline issued the following statement:

“Air Nigeria wishes to inform that the scheduled Lagos – London – Lagos flight operation is not affected by the temporary suspension directive of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Passengers are therefore encouraged to proceed with their confirmed itinerary while intending customers can make their reservations through all our sales channels.

We however wish to apologize for all the inconvenience that the temporary suspension of our domestic and regional flights by the NCAA will bring on our passengers.

Air Nigeria is committed to offering safe and secure flight operations at all times as just recently it was given a clean bill of health by the regulatory agency after a safety audit of its operations. We will continue to liaise with the relevant agencies to ensure that the suspension order is lifted as soon as possible.”

Due to safety concerns raised by the safety audit, the airline subsequently issued this statement:

“Air Nigeria affirms that ever since the inception of its flight operations, it operates in strict compliance with safety regulations and has at no time compromised on standards as it has consistently submitted to internationally recognised audit exercises. Air Nigeria is the first Nigerian airline and the only carrier in West Africa to pass three consecutive IATA Operational Safety Audit program (IOSA) in the last five years.

The IOSA audit program employs internationally recognized quality audit principles and the consecutive successes recorded by Air Nigeria in the last five years have clearly showed a demonstration of commitment to safety standards by engaging internationally accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of airline are at par with other global airlines.

With an established track record of offering safe and secure means of transport in the last seven years without any accident, Air Nigeria affirms of its continuous compliance with all laid down operational and maintenance regulations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Air Nigeria was just recently given a clean bill of health after a successful safety audit of its fleet of aircraft and flight operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and has at no time found deficient in the discharge of offering safe air services to passengers.

The airline presently runs a Safety Management System (SMS) under the guidance of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and it is the only Nigerian airline and one of the few airlines in Africa currently implementing this system. Under this SMS scheme, pilots and engineers perform their day-to-day professionally responsibilities in line with prescribed standards without management interference.

Sensational reports and claims that are being circulated in the media that allege management’s interference to force pilots and engineers to operate “unserviceable aircraft” are fabricated propagandas by those groups that felt ‘threatened’ by the successful turn-around of Air Nigeria over the last two years, which recently culminated with the successful launch of long haul operations.

It is very sad that those “threatened groups” tried to exploit the recent unfortunate air crash to blackmail and sabotage Air Nigeria which has unquestionable world class safety standards for the last seven years.

In the face of all the daunting challenges, we at Air Nigeria, have kept faith and our creed is to continually offer safe and secure services at all times. The airline is cooperating with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to ensure that the issues relating to the temporary suspension of the domestic and regional flight operations are resolved to ensure that passengers continue to enjoy the services of the airline.

The scheduled Lagos – London – Lagos flight operation is not affected by the temporary suspension directive of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and passengers are therefore encouraged to proceed with their confirmed itinerary while intending customers can make their reservations through all our sales channels.

Air Nigeria is one of the fastest growing airlines in West Africa that has since inception distinguished itself and won several laurels in recognition of its outstanding contributions towards development of the Nigerian aviation industry. The airline was in 2010 named the “Airline of the Year” at the Nigeria Aviation Awards (NIGAV) while it also clinched the “Best Security Conscious Airline in West and Central Africa” for its strict adherence to prescribed aviation safety standards.”

The airline was reacting to local media reports that it fired 12 engineers and pilots with connections to the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

Read the full report from the Nigerian Tribune: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Malcolm Nason.

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Air Malta gets another chance to survive, the European Commission approves its restructuring plan

Air Malta (2nd) (Malta) is getting another chance to survive. The European Commission has approved the carrier’s reorganization plan which also involves a $164.8 million loan from the Maltese government to turn the airline around.

Read the full report from The Malta Independent: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner.

Air Malta: 

Czech Airlines slips into the red for 2011

Czech Airlines-CSA (Prague) went into the red in 2011 with a pre-tax loss of $11.8 million. The airline blamed the loss on aircraft commitments and higher fuel costs.

The airline issued the following statement:

“The second year of Czech Airline’s three-year restructuring plan was marked primarily by the continued reorganisation of the company, transformations in its transport network model, and cost optimisation. Last year the airline was impacted by financial leasing obligations for aircraft ordered in the past, and a significant increase in fuel costs. Last year Czech Airlines transferred its subsidiaries Czech Airlines Handling, CSA Services, and HOLIDAYS Czech Airlines to Czech Aeroholding. The money that the airline obtained through these transactions was used to pay instalments on aircraft. This means that Czech Airlines invested nearly a billion crowns into its future assets last year. The airline finished the 2011 financial year with an aggregate loss of CZK 241 million.

Phase two of Czech Airline’s on-going restructuring influenced the airline’s financial results for last year. Czech Airlines continued its human resources optimisation and the optimisation of its sales and transport networks, with corresponding gradual changes in its fleet structure. “Last year Czech Airlines managed to reduce its personnel costs by nearly one third, year on year, and in terms of its fleet size, it is returning to a state that corresponds to the transport network and market potential of a small local market. The structural changes in the transport network unfortunately did not have enough time to fully manifest themselves in last year’s financial results, whether in terms of revenue or costs,” explains Philippe Moreels, Chairman of the Management Board and President of Czech Airlines, adding: “Financial obligations for aircraft ordered in the past had an adverse impact on our financial results. Last year alone Czech Airlines had to invest nearly a billion crowns that it obtained from the sale of assets into new aircraft.”

A significant increase in the price of aircraft fuel also had an adverse impact on the airline’s finances last year. In spite of the planned decrease in aircraft movements by nearly one fifth last year, Czech Airlines noted a nearly 40% year-on-year increase in fuel costs. “The same trend was manifest in the first four months of this year. Although on the revenue side, certain other positive effects of the gradual transformation of the transport and sales network are beginning to show, the increase in fuel costs has nearly eliminated them, at least in the first four months of the year. In its last, third year of restructuring, Czech Airlines will therefore focus even more on reducing its costs, primarily fixed costs, and will also enhance some of its modern pro-revenue projects,” concludes Philippe Moreels.”

Item 2011 (in CZK ‘000) 2010 (in CZK ‘000)
Total revenue 16 905 211 21 518 307
Sales of fixed assets and material 876 271 2 694 502
Total costs 17 146 567 21 442 148
Equity 108 226 376 367
Share capital 5 235 510 5 235 510
Profit/loss before tax -241 356 76 159

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton.

Czech Airlines: 

Southwest Airlines previews live TV inflight on five Boeing 737s

Southwest Airlines (Dallas), in conjunction with Row 44, is taking the next step in wireless inflight entertainment with a preview of live TV on five of the carrier’s aircraft, with plans to expand to 20 aircraft by mid-July.  Customers on these select planes will now have the option to purchase live TV consisting of seven sports and news channels, and view on their personal devices.

Flight Attendants will notify the Southwest Customers who are onboard a TV-enabled WiFi aircraft. Those interested in using the TV service during this preview period will have the opportunity to log on to the service through the WiFi portal via their personal WiFi-enabled device (tablets, laptops, WiFi-enabled smart phones, etc).  Live TV is offered as a separate charge from WiFi, so Customers do not have to purchase WiFi to purchase live TV.  The airline will evaluate different price points from $3 to $8 throughout the trial period, with instructions on how to access live TV available via a link on the Southwest Airlines WiFi portal.

Southwest Airlines will offer seven live TV channels on these five aircraft so that Customers can stay abreast of the latest news or sports scores while flying at 35,000 feet:

  • NBC Sports
  • MLB live games from MLB.com
  • NFL Network
  • CNBC
  • MSNBC
  • Fox News
  • Fox Business News

The Row 44 system not only supports this new feature, but it was created with live TV in mind. Customers who are watching TV are accessing a separate portion of the bandwidth specifically dedicated for that use. Both live TV and WiFi usage will be monitored to determine if they perform together seamlessly, and if successful, live TV will be available to all WiFi-enabled planes by the end of the year.

Southwest Airlines maintains the world’s largest satellite-based WiFi fleet with more than 250 connected aircraft and plans to equip the entirety of their Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s (70 percent of its total fleet) by mid-2013. Row 44 offers Southwest Airlines the ability to be flexible as the airline’s needs evolve, and the satellite-based technology ensures that Customers’ access to WiFi and live TV will be uninterrupted during near-International flights over water.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Note the Row 44 embedded device on the top of this aircraft – a quick visual way to denote WiFi-equipped WN aircraft.

Southwest: