Monthly Archives: May 2018

Air France signs agreements with its pilots

Air France Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner F-HRBB (msn 42495) CDG (Manuel Negrerie). Image: 938121.

Air France management and the representative pilot union, SNPL, have signed several agreements:

  • Two agreements to improve Air France’s flight safety management system, which had been proposed several weeks ago;
  • Another one extending the specific agreement on Boeing 787 instructors, which is essential to train pilots on this new type of aircraft;

Since May 1, 2018, Air France has been forced to ground its 6th Boeing 787 following the pilot unions’ refusal to sign the extension of the specific Boeing 787 instructor agreement. It was incomprehensible to link subjects unrelated to the activity of this aircraft with the instructor agreement.

Air France is pleased that the agreement that it had been proposing for several months concerning the Boeing 787 has finally been signed, putting an end to a prejudicial situation for customers and employees. The negative effects resulting from the absence of an agreement and the suspended operation of a Boeing 787 will still be felt in the coming weeks, as the time lost in pilot training cannot be made up for instantly.

This latest-generation aircraft is one of the best tools in Air France’s growth strategy. Ensuring its operation is a priority for the company’s management.

Copyright Photo: Air France Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner F-HRBB (msn 42495) CDG (Manuel Negrerie). Image: 938121.

Air France aircraft slide show:

Air New Zealand boosts business flights to and from Palmy

Air New Zealand will operate an additional 12 one-way business timed services per week between Palmerston North and Auckland from mid-August.

The new service will depart Auckland for Palmerston North at 5:50 pm Sunday-Friday, with a return service from Palmerston North to Auckland departing at 7:25 am Monday-Saturday.

The new schedule will take effect from August 13, 2018.


Singapore Airlines to offer the world’s longest nonstop flight to Newark

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will launch the world’s longest commercial flights in October, with non-stop services between Singapore and New York using the new Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra-long-range).

Flights are to be launched on October 11, 2018, to Newark Liberty International Airport. The route will initially be served three times a week, departing Singapore on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Daily operations will commence from October 18, 2018 after an additional A350-900ULR aircraft enters service.

SIA is the world’s first customer for the new A350-900ULR, with seven on firm order with Airbus. The aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout, with 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy Class seats. Tickets will be made available for sale progressively across the various booking channels, starting from tomorrow.

Flights will cover a distance of approximately 9,000nm (16,700km), and traveling time will be up to 18hrs 45min. Singapore Airlines served the Singapore-Newark route until 2013, when services were suspended after the aircraft used at the time, Airbus A340-500s, were returned to Airbus.

The A350-900ULR will offer customers a more comfortable travelling experience with features such as higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body and lighting designed to reduce jetlag. Its carbon composite airframe also allows for improved air quality due to a more optimised cabin altitude and humidity levels.

The second Airbus A350 for Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines currently has 21 A350-900s in its fleet, with 46 more on order including seven of the ULR variant. The first A350-900ULR is due for delivery in September, with all seven due for delivery by the end of the year.

Above Copyright Photo: Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941 F-WZFY (9V-SMB) (msn 030) TLS (Eurospot). Image: 932494.

Singapore Airlines currently serves New York JFK, daily via Frankfurt. Other US destinations include Houston (five times weekly via Manchester), Los Angeles (daily via Seoul and daily via Tokyo), and San Francisco (daily non-stop from Singapore as well as daily via Hong Kong).


Nonstop Singapore-Los Angeles flights are also planned with the A350-900ULR, details of which will be announced at a later date.

Flight Schedules 

Northern Summer (to October 27, 2018)

Flight Number Days of Operation Time of Departure Time of Arrival
SQ22 Singapore-Newark Daily 2335 0600 (+1)
SQ21 Newark-Singapore Daily 1045 1730 (+1)


Northern Winter (October 28, 2018 to March 30, 2019)

Flight Number Days of Operation Time of Departure Time of Arrival
SQ22 Singapore-Newark Daily 0040 0530
SQ21 Newark-Singapore Daily 0945 1715 (+1)

*All times local.  Flight schedule is subject to daylight savings, slots and requlatory approvals.

Top Copyright Photo: Eurospot. Pictured on April 23, 2018 during the take off on the first flight, the first Airbus A350 ULR, A350-941 F-WZNY (msn 216)  will become 9V-SGE for SIA. The special titles were later removed and the aircraft repainted.

Singapore aircraft slide show:


airBaltic to operate charter flights for Tez Tour Latvija

airBaltic Boeing 737-36Q WL YL-BBX (msn 30334) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 939039.

airBaltic in cooperation with the international tour operator Tez Tour Latvija on May 27, 2018, launched new charter flights connecting Riga with Peloponnese (Araxos Airport) in Greece, but this week on June 3 will start operations on new route from Riga to Marche (Ancona) in Italy.

During the summer season 2018 airBaltic and Tez Tour Latvija continues to offer charter flights also between Riga and Antalya (Turkey) – up to 5 times per week, Heraklion (Greece) – two times per week and one weekly flight to Burgas (Bulgaria). 

In total, Tez Tour and airBaltic have planned to carry out more than 300 charter flights from April to October for the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Throughout the summer season Tez Tour will offer tours on scheduled airBaltic flights to Rhodes (Greece), Catania (Italy), Barcelona and Mallorca (Spain).

Copyright Photo: airBaltic Boeing 737-36Q WL YL-BBX (msn 30334) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 939039.

airBaltic aircraft slide show:

United Airlines announces $8 million to boost eight hub communities

United Airlines announced today a total of $8 million in grants to help address pressing issues identified by local leadership in each of its hub market communities – Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark/New York and Washington, D.C. The announcement represents United’s commitment to invest in and lift up the communities where many of its customers and employees live and work.

In its inaugural announcement today in Chicago, United shared that it will work with the nonprofit Year Up to help close the “Opportunity Divide.” This grant for $1 million to Year Up in Chicago will enable the organization to provide hundreds of additional motivated and talented young adults in Chicago with in-demand technical and professional skills training, hands-on corporate internship experience at top companies including United, college credits and support necessary to achieve upward economic mobility and access to meaningful careers in just one year.

United’s investment in Year Up Chicago is expected to grow the program’s reach by 25 percent while also contributing to launching a second campus in connection with Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and the City of Chicago.

“Connecting our customers to the moments that matter most goes well beyond getting them from point A to point B,” said Oscar Munoz, United’s chief executive officer. “We have the opportunity to make lasting, measurable change. We are proud to do our part to help our home here in Chicago and are excited to share more with each of our hub communities over the coming weeks.”

“Here in Cook County, more than 94,000 young adults are out of work and out of school, disconnected from the economic mainstream,” said Jack Crowe, Year Up Chicago’s executive director. “With United Airlines’ help, Year Up Chicago will be able to accelerate its expansion, strengthening our communities and Chicago as a whole.”

Following today’s announcement, United will be joining local community and city leadership in all of its domestic hub markets over the coming weeks to announce additional community grants. In each community, United worked with city leadership to identify a unique area of critical needs in the city as part of its larger efforts to lift up communities in crisis.

Throughout these four-year grants, United will work hand-in-hand with local organizations and engage with city and community leadership to create profound, sustainable advancements. Future announcements will include grant recipients in New York/New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Denver; Los Angeles and San Francisco.

El Al announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2018, will retire the Boeing 767s

To be replaced with Boeing 787s, will be replaced in late 2018

El Al Israel Airlines reported an 11% increase in revenues to USD $464 million in the first quarter of 2018; a 2.5% increase in the number of passengers; an increase in load factor to approx. 83.8%; and a 4.3% increase in yield.

Alongside this, the Company recorded an increase of 15% in operating expenses, attributable primarily to the growth in operations; an increase in fuel expenses totaling approx. USD 23 million, mainly due to the increase in fuel price; an increase of approx. USD 7 million in payroll expenses following the erosion of the US dollar against the New Israeli Shekel; and an increase in minimum wage.

Net loss for the quarter amounted to USD $44 million.

Due to the complex reality faced by the Israeli aviation industry, particularly vis-à-vis low cost carriers, and in view of the challenges awaiting the Company in the near future, including intensifying competition and increase in fuel prices, EL AL management has resolved to take a number of measures to adjust its activities to these challenges:

Deepening the implementation of a business efficiency plan across the Company, including reducing expenses and increasing revenues.

Changing the compensation model for agents in Israel and abroad – The company adapts the trend prevailing among most of the world’s leading airlines, by changing the compensation model between airlines and travel agents, and will move to a new model in which no base commission will be paid to agents, which currently stands at 5% in Israel and a variable percentage in countries where it operates, as of June 1st 2019.

As part of the Company’s decision to accelerate the optimization process of all wide-body aircraft and in order to enhance customer service and becoming more efficient with the renewal of the Dreamliner fleet, the Company is currently engaged in scheduling the early removal 767 fleet from service by the end of 2018 instead of 2020.

Due to the early removal from service of one aircraft of the 767 fleet that was damaged at Ben Gurion Airport, it was decided to postpone the launch of the San Francisco route to the second quarter of 2019.

In April 2018 the Company started selling flight tickets to destinations in Europe based on the new model, which allows Economy Class passengers to choose from three types of flight product packages at various prices, tailored to their needs. This model allows the Company to more efficiently compete with all players in the market, in particular low-cost airlines.

  • Operating revenues amounted in the first quarter of 2018 to approx. USD 464 million, compared to USD 418 million in the first quarter of 2017, reflecting an increase of approx. 11%.
  • The increase in revenues was primarily attributable to an improvement in a number of significant items:
    • The number of tier segments increased in the first quarter of 2017 by approx. 2.5% compare to last year; available seats per kilometer (ASK) increased by approx. 3.1%; the Company’s operations in RPK terms (revenue passengers per kilometer) grew by approx. 3.3%; the Company’s operations in terms of flight hours increased by approx. 2.7%
    • Aircraft load factor stood at approx. 83.8%, compared to 83.6% at the first quarter of 2017;
    • Average yield per RPK increased by approx. 4.3% compared to the first quarter of 2017.
  • El Al market share of traffic at Ben Gurion Airport amounted to approx. 27.9%. In the first quarter of 2018, the Company recorded an increase of 2.5% in the number of passengers flown by the Company, with passenger traffic at Ben Gurion Airport increasing by higher rate of 19%.
  • Loss before tax for the first quarter of 2018 amounted to approx. USD 57 million, compared to a loss before tax of approx. USD 39 million in the first quarter of 2017.
  • Net loss for the first quarter of 2018 was approx. USD 44 million, compared to a net loss of approx. USD 30 million in the first quarter of 2017.
  • The increase in loss is due primarily to the increase in jet fuel costs as a result of an increase of 25% in jet fuel price and an increase in payroll expenses following the erosion of the US dollar against the New Israeli Shekel.
  • Cash flow from operating activities in the first quarter of 2018 amounted to approx. USD 14 million compared to approx. USD 77 million in the first quarter of 2017. The difference in cash flows was due primarily to the increase in net loss and a payment of approx. USD 22 million to the tax authorities in respect of an audit of assessments, the expense for which was recorded in the previous year.
  • EBITDA amounted to USD -14 million (loss), compared to USD 30 million in the first quarter of 2017.
  • EBITDAR amounted to USD 14 million, Compared to USD 30 million in the first quarter of 2017.
  • The Company’s cash balance as of March 31, 2018 totaled approx. USD 243 million.
  • The Company’s equity as of March 31, 2018 totaled approx. USD 273 million.

EL AL’s CEO, Gonen Usishkin, announced today as follows:

“During the first quarter of 2018, EL AL recorded an 11% growth in its revenues compared to the first quarter of 2017. The Company increased its volume of operations, notwithstanding the numerous challenges arising from the Open Sky policy and the intensifying competition posed by foreign airlines, in particular low-cost carriers, and successfully improved its yield by about 4%.

“However, the Company reported an increase in expenses, attributable mainly to the rise in fuel price and changes in exchange rates, thus, at the bottom line, it completed the first quarter, a quarter that is typically characterized by seasonal weakness, with a net loss of approx. USD 44 million.

“In view of the changing reality and growing competition, as well as the increase in fuel prices, changes in exchange rates and regulatory restrictions, EL AL is currently in the midst of an accelerated optimization process, both in terms of its scope and the speed of its implementation. Within this framework, we announced a number of significant steps and more decisions are expected to be made in major areas which has an efficiency potential. The program is comprehensive and reviews all fields of activity and business areas, with the aim of increasing revenues and considerably reducing expenses in order to establish a coherent path for improving results, through a multi-year process.

“The Company is currently in the process of receiving the Dreamliner aircrafts. To date, we have received 4 airplanes and about to receive 3 more airplanes by the end of 2018 .The aircrafts acceptance program is properly implemented in compliance with prescribed schedules, and the Company continues to take all necessary steps required by the program. The demand for seats on the Dreamliner aircrafts is impressive and it certainly meets our expectations regarding the revenues from each service department as planned.”

Dganit Palti, El Al’s CFO, announced today as follows:

“Three of the five Dreamliner aircrafts that the Company is about to be equipped in 2018 will be owned by the Company. One of them was received in March and the other two will be delivered in June and August. The Company is currently working to expand the sources of financing for the aircraft, and is currently raising from a number of international financial entities long-term loans at attractive interest rates and at high financing rates.

“The Company also first contracted LOI with investors from Japan, which specialize in financing an equity tranche to aircrafts for airlines companies around the world, to finance the equity tranche to the aircraft expected in June, under comfortable conditions.

“The Company completed the first quarter of 2018 with cash and deposits balances of USD 243 million, indicating its financial stability.”

Copyright Photo: El Al is now planning to retire the last Boeing 767-300 at the end of 2018. El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 767-3Y0 ER 4X-EAP (msn 24953) LHR (SPA). Image: 924583.

El Al aircraft slide show:

Finnair opens a new year-round route to Hanover for summer 2019 and increases capacity to Dubai for winter 2018-2019

Finnair Airbus A350-941 OH-LWB (msn 019) (Oneworld) LHR (Keith Burton). Image: 939094.

Finnair made this announcement:

Continuing with its growth in the German market, Finnair will be launching a new route to Hanover, Germany, next summer. The new route will start on April 29, 2019 with five weekly frequencies and will become a daily and year-round frequency as of June 1, 2019. Hanover is one of Northern Germany’s largest cities and hosts several important fair and trade events throughout the calendar year. Hanover will be Finnair’s seventh destination in Germany. Finnair flies year-round to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart.

Additional capacity is also being added for the 2019 summer season on some popular European routes. Finnair will add four weekly frequencies to Barcelona from the beginning of June until the end of the summer season. An additional frequency will be added to Reykjavik, making it a daily destination for the entire summer season. In addition, an additional daily frequency will be added to Warsaw on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Finnair is also adding capacity on its Helsinki-Dubai route for the upcoming winter 2018 season. One weekly frequency will be added which means Finnair will now fly seven weekly frequencies to Dubai. In addition, two of the weekly frequencies will now be operated with a A350, instead of a narrow-body aircraft.

Copyright Photo: Finnair Airbus A350-941 OH-LWB (msn 019) (Oneworld) LHR (Keith Burton). Image: 939094.

Finnair aircraft slide show: