Monthly Archives: January 2019

Contour Airlines selects Santa Barbara as focus city

Contour Airlines announced today that it has selected Santa Barbara, CA as a focus city and will begin new service between Santa Barbara and Sacramento, CA on April 16, 2019.

The carrier will also increase the number of flights from Santa Barbara to Oakland and Las Vegas to two daily round-trips (except Saturdays) beginning May 15, 2019.

Contour Airlines aircraft at Santa Barbara Airport

Flights will be operated by Embraer ERJ 135 regional jets featuring 30 leather seats with 36″ of legroom in every row.

Qatar Airways Converts 10 of its 50 Airbus A321neo on order to the longer range Airbus A321LR

Qatar Airways has announced that it will convert 10 of its 50 Airbus A321neo on order to the Airbus A321LR (long range) variant of the A320 family.

The A321LR is a type of A321neo, which has extra fuel tanks as well as a higher maximum take-off weight to give the aircraft additional range. Qatar Airways will use the A321LR to connect Doha to new growing markets where today demand is not sufficient for wide body aircraft or where current narrow bodies (A320/A321) are unable to reach. Alternatively, the new aircraft will be adopted to provide additional frequencies on existing Qatar Airways routes, giving our loyal passengers more choice and flexibility when they travel.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We have reassessed the requirements of our fleet and determined that the A321LR will bring the additional capability and range to our existing portfolio of aircraft types that we require to successfully support our global route expansion. Based on this analysis we have agreed with Airbus that we will convert 10 of our 50 A321neo on order to the longer range A321LR, the first of which will be delivered in 2020.”

The A321LR, the latest member of the market leading A320neo family, is able to fly longer routes of up to 4,000 nm (7,400 km). The A321LR provides additional operational flexibility as it has the longest range of any single aisle airliner, making it ideally suited to transatlantic routes and enabling airlines to tap into new long-haul markets which were not previously accessible to single aisle aircraft. In general, the A321LR can carry up to 206 passengers in a typical two-class layout, or up to 244 passengers in a single-class configuration on intraregional flights, offering each passenger the possibility to carry up to three bags.

This aircraft is improved with a maximum take-off weight of 97 tons compared to 93.5 tons for a standard A321neo, with structural reinforcements at the wing and centre wing box, and the option of adding a third fuel tank in the cargo compartment, depending on the needs of the operator. This aircraft is also characterised by its passenger comfort, its significant endurance, its cabin layout adaptability, its per-seat operational costs, which are 30 per cent lower than those of the nearest competitor, and all this with excellent environmental performance.

Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft to a network of around 160 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

Image: Airbus.

Will Air France close out the Hop! brand?

Hop! For Air France Embraer ERJ 170-100STD F-HBXI (msn 17000310) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 939604.

Air France-KLM’s newly appointed CEO Benjamin Smith has expressed disdain for the Hop! brand, similar to the Joon brand, which is being phased out.

The Hop! subsidary is now likely to be phased out too with a new working name that incorporates the Air France main brand.

Hop! is the brand name of the regional flights operated by subsidiaries of Air France. Its flights are operated by Airlinair, Brit Air and Régional under the Hop! brand.

Smith has stated that the Hop! brand leads to confusion for the passengers who may be connecting to an Air France flight.

Top Copyright Photo: Hop! For Air France Embraer ERJ 170-100STD F-HBXI (msn 17000310) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 939604.

Hop! aircraft slide show:

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United Airlines now offers customers free live TV

"One Hundred"

United Airlines has made this announcement:

Just in time for the Big Game, United Airlines has announced that effective immediately more than 100 channels of live television will now be free on 211 Boeing 737 United aircraft equipped with seat back TV, making viewing easy gate-to-gate. In addition to offering free live DIRECTV at more than 30,000 seats, United customers also have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows available on personal devices through the airline’s collection on the United app – offering customers thousands of hours of programming in total.

“This year, we will be introducing a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience for all our customers,” said United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist. “Offering free entertainment, whether it’s on seat back TV or on personal devices, is one example of how we are placing our customers at the heart of what we do and helping them to relax and enjoy their flights.”

“We’re pleased that United is offering customers complimentary access to live TV on more than 200 of its aircraft so customers can feel like they’re sitting in their own living rooms enjoying DIRECTV,” said Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer, AT&T Business. “Whether they want to tune into their favorite primetime show or their favorite sports team, United customers won’t miss a moment with free DIRECTV programming.”

Personal Device Entertainment

Over the last year, United has also expanded its personal device entertainment product to aircraft that previously only offered DIRECTV, providing an option for customers to use their phones, tablets or laptops to access a library of more than 280 complimentary movies and TV shows.

Accessibility

Additionally, United has made improvements in its entertainment options for customers with hearing and mobility issues through its Accessible Entertainment menu category available on seat back on-demand systems. Accessible Entertainment offers customers entertainment options by grouping titles that are either audio descriptive or closed captioned under one menu. United currently offers more than 20 audio descriptive movies and TV shows and more than 50 with English closed captioning. Select DIRECTV channels also include closed captioning, subject to programming availability.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by United): United Airlines Boeing 737-924 ER SSWL N69818 (msn 42177) (One Hundred) LAX (Ron Monroe). Image: 945503.

United aircraft slide show (Boeing):

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Delta and Virgin Atlantic launch self-service bag drop at London-Heathrow

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic are launching 18 self-service bag-drop units at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, saving customers valuable time at the airport through the use of intuitive technology.

Available on all Delta- and Virgin Atlantic-operated flights to the United States, the new self-service units have been rolled out following successful testing at London Heathrow. Through intuitive, easy-to-use technology, customers can drop their bags in under two minutes, giving them more time to enjoy Terminal 3’s lounges or many retail and restaurant outlets.

To take advantage of the new machines, customers need to check-in via one of Delta’s self-service channels and follow these simple steps:

  • Scan their mobile or printed boarding pass
  • Place their bag on the bag belt
  • Print their bag tag and attach it to the bag
  • Send the bag for loading

Bags are then accepted into the system and screened as they would be during the traditional bag drop process at the counter.

“The new machines are another way that Delta and Virgin Atlantic are working together to ease the journey through our London hub,” said Corneel Koster, Delta’s S.V.P. of Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. “With a quick and easy bag-drop experience, customers can choose how they enjoy that extra time before they fly.”

For further peace of mind, the self-service units support Delta’s pioneering RFID bag tracking technology by issuing RFID chipped bag tags. These synch to the Fly Delta app so customers can track their checked bags in real time.

Hayley Parker, Vice President of Airports at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We’re always looking at ways to improve the customer journey, and self-service bag drop is another example of how we’re making things easier for our customers. This new technology enables customers to breeze through the airport, while ensuring our team are still on hand to deliver personalised service and answer queries at all times.”

Alaska CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

From the Alaska Airlines blog. Written by Brad Tilden, CEO.

This trip was the first of many for our leaders at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air for the coming year. Called “Leader Immersion,” our managing directors and up will spend a week in the operation. It’s kind of an “Undercover Boss,” without the disguise, as one of our employees said.

The Great Land is beautiful, even in January. The low temperatures create a beautiful frost on the trees and there is something really wonderful and peaceful about the mornings here, (where it is currently staying dark until around 10 a.m.). I was in Anchorage, Alaska for a week in early January on the suggestion of one of our employees, who challenged me to job shadow – walking in our frontline employees’ shoes. It sounded like a good idea to me.

Anchorage

My week started with my flight from Seattle to Anchorage. The Seattle-based flight crew – Shannon Novito, Angela Bolton, Kris McCloskey and Kimberly Sagmoen (pictured above) – were awesome. I had a great time visiting with them, interacting with our guests onboard, and serving a beverage or two. I sat on the flight deck for the last 40 minutes of the flight and was impressed with the expert airmanship of Captain John Lien and First Officer Levi Breidenbach who navigated us into Anchorage amidst a low blanket of fog.

brad anchorage CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I spent the next several hours in the Anchorage airport learning from Kiana Baluyut, a designated trainer customer service agent. Kiana was extremely patient with me, even when she had to explain the same entries and transactions many times. She taught me how to check-in, scan and tag bags, and deal with special service requests. It was wonderful getting to meet so many of our guests while at the ticket counter.

Dutch Harbor

The next day, I was off to Dutch Harbor on PenAir, one of our commuter partners. Alaska Airlines provides scheduled service to 20 cities in the state of Alaska, the majority of which have populations of under 10,000 people. And we provide jet service in many cases, several times a day! This is something that truly makes us unique as an airline.

Ramp & cargo operations

file1 20 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

When I got back to Anchorage, I headed over to the ramp operations center. This important team schedules airport operations, such as baggage and cargo connections and manages the departure coordination process. Niki McDade is a fantastic departure coordinator. Here, she helped me work Flight 155 from Anchorage to Nome and Kotzebue.

brad cargo 1 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I spent the bulk of Wednesday in our Anchorage cargo operation, an experience I can only describe as humbling. There was an amazing sense of teamwork among our folks there, and a clear focus on our customers who live in small villages in the state of Alaska. Here I am with my coach for the day: Jacob Scanlan.

Maintenance & Engineering

attach r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Later that night, I began the night shift with our Maintenance & Engineering team, and with our Stores team (who provide all the aircraft parts). It is amazing to see maintenance technicians start their shift. There isn’t a lot of talking, but hangar doors start opening, bells are going off, tugs are getting hooked up to airplanes. It’s great teamwork and a finely tuned operation. I was able to observe Sig Sigurdson, Tom Genziano and Marc Sheldon conducting a borescope inspection on one of our aircraft engines.

brad ramp r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Thursday, I joined our ramp team. In the photo above, I am sending Flight 80 off with Jose Inga, Bill Trivett, Mike Freeman, Josephine Calderra, Eric Henry and Todd Seitz. Below, Josephine and I loading bags in the aircraft belly. I want to thank Eric, my ramp coach for the day, the entire Anchorage ramp service agent team who were very kind and welcoming and who tolerated all of my questions and mistakes.

brad ramp 2 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Red Dog Mine

img 0589 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I then flew out to Red Dog Mine to see our operation in the Arctic. It was a clear day and Alaska’s natural beauty really came through. The photo above is of Runway 3 at Red Dog, on our approach.

Terminal & baggage services

My last day was working in the terminal and in baggage services. In the photo below, I am working with Mary Graham as control agent on flight 96. And then I had a great flight home with an awesome crew.

brad csa 1 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I find myself smiling from ear to ear as I recount my visit.  I have a deep sense of gratitude. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have the best employees in the industry, and it was uplifting to spend more time with them. Like many of our employees, I came into the airline business because I love aviation, I love Alaska Airlines, I love being around our people and our guests. This was the perfect way to start a new year.

SAS to offset the flight carbon footprint of EuroBonus members

Scandinavian Airlines-SAS has issued this statement:

Effective February 1, 2019, SAS is going to offset the flight carbon footprint of all tickets booked using a EuroBonus number.

This is part of an ambitious program by SAS to reduce climate changing emissions, that also includes more energy efficient aircraft and the increased use of biofuels.

By including carbon offset for its EuroBonus program members, 40 percent of SAS’ passenger-related carbon dioxide emissions will be offset. SAS already offsets all youth tickets and its own business travel within the company. EuroBonus is the most popular loyalty travel and experiences program in Scandinavia with 5.6 million members.

“Our most loyal customers and frequent flyers share our wish for more sustainable travel. Our customers who fly to, from and within Scandinavia should be aware that SAS strives to reduce our carbon footprint on a daily basis,” says Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO, SAS.

SAS contribution to offsetting emissions is based on statistics and will be calculated by Natural Capital Partners, and that helps its clients with emission reducing mechanisms in different projects.

“Carbon dioxide compensation is one of several environment and sustainability initiatives being pursued by SAS and is something we now do as we have done all we can to reduce our climate impact with the aid of current technology,” says Lars Andersen Resare, Head of Sustainability at SAS.

During the year, SAS will make it even easier for customers to reduce their carbon footprint by offering opportunities to upgrade to biofuel when purchasing tickets. SAS has set a target of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by the year 2030, when SAS intends to use biofuel corresponding to total fuel consumption for all SAS domestic flights within Scandinavia.

Allegiant announces its financial results, will add 17 additional Airbus aircraft

Ex EI-DSD, delivered on January 11, 2018

Allegiant Travel Company (Allegiant Air) has reported the following financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2018, as well as comparisons to the prior year:

Three Months Ended
December 31,
Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Unaudited 2018 2017 Change 2018 2017 Change
Total operating revenue (millions) $ 412.1 $ 379.2 8.7 % $ 1,667.4 $ 1,511.2 10.3 %
Operating income (millions) 63.1 26.8 135.7 243.5 230.6 5.6
Net income (millions) 41.4 83.4 (50.4 ) 161.8 198.1 (18.3 )
Diluted earnings per share $ 2.56 $ 5.18 (50.6 ) $ 10.00 $ 12.13 (17.6 )

“I’m happy to report we had our 64th consecutive profitable quarter,” stated Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., chairman and CEO of Allegiant Travel Company. “The past 18 to 24 months have been challenging as we pushed through a successful onetime changeover to an all Airbus fleet. This was a major undertaking by our team. During this period we sustained a number of one-time transition costs but still maintained among industry leading operating margins on our airline activity of 15.3 percent despite a 27 percent increase in the cost per gallon of fuel in 2018.

“And these returns were accomplished despite the added challenges of our fleet transition years. I couldn’t be more pleased with where we find ourselves today as we look forward to 2019 and beyond. We are also pleased with our EPS-based reporting approach which we started in 2018. You will see our estimates for 2019 below.

“Finally, my hat is off to our team. They not only rose up to the logistical challenge of the fleet changeover during the past 18 months, but at the same time continued to elevate our operational performance and customer service standards across the board.”

Highlights

  • Currently 431 routes
       o Nearly 75 percent no competition – 90 percent of new 2018 routes no competition
    o Have identified an additional 600 routes for possible growth
  • 2019 expect higher EBITDA
    o Revenue improvement from higher number of incremental seats
    o Greater efficiencies in labor and fuel consumption
    o Higher aircraft reliability will enable more flights during peak days
    o Higher number of charter opportunities versus the MD-80
  • 2018 improvement in operations
    o Controllable completion – 99.7 percent, among best in industry
    o Improved operations – over $10 million in cost savings
    o On time arrival 77 percent, up nearly four percentage points over 2017
  • Co-brand credit card
    o Active accounts increased by approximately 60 percent versus 2017
    o Signed marketing agreement with Minor League Baseball participating clubs
  • 2019 high yield bond refinancing
    o $450 million term loan
    o Five year duration
    o Expected to close in early February

Shareholder returns

  • 2018 shareholder returns
    o Returned $45 million in dividends in 2018
    o Will pay dividends of $0.70 per share on March 14, 2019 to shareholders of record as of March 1, 2019
    o $100 million in share repurchase authority

2019 outlook

  • Aircraft
    o Expect to add seventeen Airbus aircraft by the end of the year
    o Have now terminated forward capital leases for eight aircraft due to extensive delivery delays
  • Scheduled and system ASM growth
    o First quarter expected to grow between four and six percent vs last year
    o Expect first quarter ASM growth to be the lowest of the year
    o Expect second quarter ASM growth to be the highest of the year due to later Easter
  • Sunseeker Resort financing
    o Expect $175 million of the estimated $420 millionSunseeker Resort construction cost
    o Provided by a well-known institutional asset manager
    o 2/3 of the loan is expected to be non-recourse to Allegiant Travel Company
    o Expect financing to close by the end of the first quarter 2019
Aircraft fleet plan by end of period
Aircraft – (seats per AC) YE18 1Q19 2Q19 3Q19 YE19
A319 (156 seats) 32 37 37 38 38
A320 (177/186 seats) 44 46 51 53 55
Total 76 83 88 91 93

Aircraft listed in table above include only in-service aircraft and future aircraft under contract (subject to change)

Previously the company announced 16 new routes and plans to establish a two-aircraft base at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The company also announced service to two new cities – Nashville, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia.

Above Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Allegiant Air Airbus A320-216 N273NV (msn 3076) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945314.

Allegiant aircraft slide show:

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Delta de-icing: Keeping flights moving safely amid winter weather, cold temps

Delta Air Lines issued this report:

Delta’s de-ice teams are prepped and ready to keep planes moving safely in cities across the eastern U.S., Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions while a cold front continues pushing east.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the airline canceled approximately 200 flights – with the majority through Atlanta, where a mixed precipitation was anticipated mid-day. Delta does not anticipate any further flight disruptions at the airline’s largest hub in Atlanta, though a waiver remains in effect through Friday.

While the potential for snow in Atlanta diminished through the day Tuesday, cities from the Great Lakes region, mid-Atlantic and up into the Northeast still have opportunity to see extreme temperatures and frozen or mixed precipitation through Wednesday. Delta anticipates normal operations with no planned flight schedule adjustments thanks to the millions Delta invested in de-icing operations, including additional equipment, technology and year-round training for employees across Delta’s network.

Video: CLICK HERE

Taking care of our employees during extreme temperatures

Safety is always Delta’s top priority, which is why the airline is taking proper steps for employees in the Upper Midwest, where cities are facing the coldest temperatures in a generation.

Delta has been preparing for winter weather across the system for months – especially for employees working outside by gathering hand warmers and extra uniform layers, and offering frequent breaks and hydration stations.

Employees who provide ground handling services who are exposed to the elements have been equipped with a number of personal protective equipment aimed at ensuring their safety. This is the first winter that uniformed employees are sporting the innovative new Zac Posen uniforms designed for sub-zero temperatures with safety and comfort in mind. Uniform pieces include winter hats, insulated gloves, three-layered winter jackets and more to help employees stay warm during the plunging temps.