Monthly Archives: March 2019

Former Delta executive nominated to head the FAA

AOPA issued this statement:

The White House announced today that longtime Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson is its nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Pending Senate confirmation, Dickson will succeed Dan Elwell, who has been serving as acting administrator for the past 14 months, following Michael Huerta’s retirement from the agency.


Dickson was with Delta for 27 years, retiring in 2018 as senior vice president of global flight operations. During his tenure with the airline, he was responsible for training, technical support, and regulatory compliance for more than 13,000 pilots. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and flew F-15s during his military career.


News of Dickson’s nomination has generated positive feedback from industry officials and stakeholders, including AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. Baker worked alongside Dickson on the NextGen Advisory Committee, which has been instrumental in prioritizing air traffic control modernization initiatives.


In the past, Dickson has been outspoken against ATC privatization, calling it “reckless” as it would disrupt the progress of NextGen implementation.


Baker commented, “Steve Dickson is a solid choice to lead the FAA.  His in-depth knowledge of our aviation system, keen awareness of general aviation as well as the challenges before us make him the right choice to lead the agency.  I am hopeful the Senate will move to confirm Mr. Dickson as quickly as possible.”


“We also commend Acting Administrator Dan Elwell for his unwavering commitment and dedication to serving the nation, the FAA, and the aviation industry. He’s done a great job in that role,” added Baker.


As FAA administrator, Dickson will guide a $17.5 billion dollar budget and oversee 47,000 employees. Should he be confirmed by the Senate, Dickson would serve a five-year term.


Ethiopian Airlines to launch a new route to Istanbul

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best.

Ethiopian Airlines  has announced that it has finalized all preparations to launch a direct thrice weekly flight to Istanbul, Turkey as of April 1, 2019.

The flight to Istanbul will be dispatched as per the schedule below:

Flight Number



Departure Airport

Departure time


Arrival Airport


Arrival Time

Sub fleet

ET 0720






ET 738

ET 0721






ET 738

Photo: Ethiopian Airlines.

Istanbul marks Ethiopian’s 19th destination in Europe. Ethiopian is currently serving 119 international destinations across five continents with young aircraft with average fleet age of five years. It will also bring the number of passenger flights the airline operates to European cities to 57 per week.

Air Canada updates its schedule following the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSJJ (msn 61217) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945958.

Air Canada said today that it has adjusted its schedule through to April 30 to cover 98 percent of its planned flying following Transport Canada’s closure of Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations. In compliance with the safety notice, Air Canada has grounded its 24 737 MAX aircraft and Boeing has advised that deliveries of its 737 MAX are currently suspended. Air Canada was expecting six new aircraft in March and April.

Air Canada is now updating its May schedule to further optimize its fleet and re-accommodate customers. Because the timeline for the return to service of the 737 MAX is unknown, for planning purposes and to provide customers certainty for booking and travel, Air Canada intends to remove 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019. 

“The Boeing 737 MAX accounted for six percent of Air Canada’s total flying, but there is a domino effect from removing the 737s from our fleet that impacts the schedule and ultimately will impact some customers. We have been working very hard to minimize that impact,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

“To bring certainty to our schedule for our customers when booking and travelling, we are revising our schedule until July and we have taken several steps to continue delivering substantially all of our planned capacity through our global network.

“Customers who have travel plans between now and July can be reassured that we will keep them informed every step of the way as we revise our schedule. We have a deep global network and many partner airlines to provide solutions so serving our customers and minimizing any disruption is our first priority. We remain committed to delivering the same safe, reliable transportation customers expect from Air Canada. Customers can continue to book and travel on Air Canada with full confidence,” said Ms. Guillemette.

Among the measures taken by Air Canada:


To mitigate the impact, Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on 737 MAX routes. This includes flying routes with similar-sized or larger aircraft. To help provide this replacement flying, the carrier has extended leases for aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet.

Air Canada is also accelerating the in-take of recently acquired Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Airlines into its fleet and has hired other carriers to provide immediate extra capacity. For example, Air Transat has been chartered on a temporary basis to operate one daily frequency between Vancouver and Montreal beginning March 20 until March 31. In addition, Air Canada has leased an aircraft from Air Transat from April 1 to April 30 in order to operate the Montreal to Cancun route.

Schedule Changes

The airline has implemented a number of route changes to date, either changing operating times or substituting larger aircraft with fewer frequencies on routes operated more frequently by smaller aircraft. In some cases, it has deployed Air Canada Rouge aircraft to serve mainline routes. The airline is also currently finalizing a new routing for the return leg of its TorontoDelhi service, which continues to be impacted by the closure of Pakistani airspace. This flight will remain nonstop between Toronto and Delhi but now stop in Vancouver rather than Copenhagen on the return leg.

Route Suspensions

In a small number of cases, Air Canada has temporarily suspended until further notice service on certain 737 MAX routes where alternative aircraft are not presently available. This includes flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London Heathrow, for which it is re-accommodating customers over its Toronto and Montreal hubs. Air Canada remains committed to these routes and will resume service as soon as possible. It also includes seasonal flights from Vancouver to Kona, Lihue and Calgary-Palm Springs, with customers re-accommodated on other routings.

Customer Information

As changes are finalized in the flight schedule, customers whose flight times or flight numbers have changed can expect to receive an email detailing their updated itinerary. This information is also available in My Bookings on the Air Canada app or Air Canada website. Customers are advised, whether they have booked directly through Air Canada or not, to ensure their contact information is on their booking to facilitate communication of any flight changes.

Air Canada has put in place a flexible rebooking policy with full fee waiver and a refund option for affected customers. Customers originally scheduled to travel on a 737 MAX can call Air Canada at 1-833-354-5963 for information within 72 hours of their planned flight. Customers who have booked flights through a Travel Agent should contact them for immediate assistance.

Air Canada has a fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, which have been in operation since 2017. Air Canada has a total fleet of 400 aircraft (including 24 737 MAX), comprising Air Canada mainline, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express aircraft.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSJJ (msn 61217) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945958.

Air Canada aircraft slide show:


Planning for the un-planned: Diversions allow Air Canada ground staff in St. John’s a chance to shine

Air Canada issued this story of diversions at St. John’s:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain from the flight deck. One of our passengers has become seriously ill and we will be diverting to St. John’s so we can get him the appropriate medical attention. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the health of our passengers is a top priority.”

Diversions happen for a number of reasons, but the most urgent ones are almost always the ones where someone’s life hangs in the balance.

“Through teamwork and in keeping safety first, always, our employees rise to every occasion to take care of customers and get these flights back in the air to resume their journey,” said Al Read, Vice President, Airports – North America. “While some of these diversions can be complex, our teams handle them with the compassion you would expect from Canadians. We cannot leave people stranded.”

The St. John’s Airport is the easternmost facility for Air Canada that can handle diversions, and in 2018 took care of 23, including airlines like Air France, KLM, Iberia, Norwegian Air, Delta, American Airlines, United and Tui fly.

“A requirement to land aircraft immediately happens frequently and we handle them with professionalism, care and class,” Al Read said.

Late last year, a diversion from one of our Star Alliance partners dealing with a medical emergency on board resulted in an unexpected stay in St. John’s, Nfld. for more than 250 people who were on board a Lufthansa Airbus A330 travelling from Montreal to Munich.

During a diversion, “We always have to do the right thing because people’s lives are at stake or at risk,” said David Walker, Manager of Station Operations for Air Canada at St. John’s Airport. “When an aircraft comes in that is not scheduled to come in, it’s also very costly for any airline. Diversions can be for many reasons, the unruly passenger, illness, mechanical aircraft problems.”

The flight landed at just past 2 am local time, and by the time the emergency was sorted out, the flight crew was over its duty time and the flight could not proceed. That’s when the team in St. John’s jumped into action to take care of the 243 passengers and 12 crew.

However, with hotel rooms limited in St. John’s, passengers were given the choice to go on a bus tour of the city or remain at the airport. Seniors and families were placed in hotel rooms as they became available, and one family decided it wanted to take the kids to a park to play, so our team put them in a taxi that took them to various city parks.

The diversion is an unscheduled stopover and passengers don’t really want to be at that destination.

“So, it’s a very delicate situation where you have to deal with passengers on an individual basis, make them feel comfortable, make them feel safe and make them feel cared for. And then you have to deal with families that are dealing with a difficult time or a tragedy,” David Walker said.

The flight re-departed around 9:30 p.m. after being cleaned, catered and refuelled for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

The services rendered by our teams so impressed Lufthansa, that the Head of Ground Operations Lufthansa Group in North America’s East Coast, Peter Köser, sent a letter of recognition that reads, in part:

“On behalf of the Lufthansa management and our customers I want to thank you very much for the extraordinary support you and your team rendered last week in St. John’s. We appreciated very much that you organized a city tour, provided catering and opened the lounge as no hotels were available for our customers. Our customer service department did not register one negative customer comment, which is absolutely unusual for a diversion like this,” Köser wrote.

While flight crews have basic first aid training and will seek out a medical professional on board who can use the aircraft’s medical kit, getting a passenger on the ground as quickly as possible is still the best option.

When that happens, our ground crews are ready to jump into action, as the Lufthansa example demonstrates. Our dedicated ground crews across the country step up when a diversion occurs to not only ensure that our scheduled operations are unaffected, but that the passengers and crews of the diverted aircraft are looked after with empathy and compassion.

Finnair to open a new route to Trondheim in cooperation with Wideroe, adds flights to Tromso

Wideroe (Widerøe's Flyveselskap AS) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) LN-WDK (msn 4337) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 944735.

Finnair continues to expand its network in the Nordics and opens a new year-round route to Trondheim in Norway in June 2019. Finnair also adds flights to another popular destination, Tromso, in Norway.

Trondheim is Norway’s third largest city, known for its breathtaking scenery. It offers excellent opportunities for nature activities such as hiking or hunting for Northern Lights, as well as a vibrant restaurant scene.

The route will be operated by Norwegian regional airline Wideroe five days a week, with a Bombardier Q400 aircraft, and the flights are sold and marketed by Finnair.

Finnair also adds flights to Tromso in Norway, in collaboration with Wideroe, and as of June 4, will offer flights between Tromso and Helsinki three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, year-round. Tromso is situated 350 kilometers north of the Arctic circle, and is famous for its artic nature, the northern lights and a wide variety of outdoor activities ranging from hiking to whale watching.

Top Copyright photo: Wideroe (Widerøe’s Flyveselskap AS) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) LN-WDK (msn 4337) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 944735.

Wider aircraft slide show:


Swoop announces a new route to Las Vegas

Swoop has announced new service between Kelowna, BC and Las Vegas, NV. The twice weekly service from Kelowna International Airport (YLW) to McCarran International Airport (LAS) begins June 27, 2019 through October 26, 2019.

Flights are now available for booking through to October 26, 2019

Service Between Service starts Service Offered Frequency
Kelowna to Las Vegas June 27, 2019 Thursday & Sunday 2x weekly

Swoop announced its arrival to Kelowna International Airport in January of this year when it introduced flights between Kelowna and Winnipeg three-times-a-week beginning May 24, 2019, as part of its summer schedule.

Photos: Swoop.

WDL Aviation welcomes its first Embraer in Cologne

Cologne-based airline WDL Aviation has received the first of four Embraer E190 aircraft. The twin-jet jet landed at Cologne/Bonn Airport and was received by the management.The machine came from the USA with the transfer number N914AZ. In Germany, the jet is flown with the registration D-ACJJ.

With the flotation of the E190 aircraft, the WDL is also creating new jobs. The company recruits captains, co-pilots and flight attendants. WDL, which belongs to the Berlin-based Zeitfracht Group and is based at Cologne/Bonn Airport, is aiming to expand its team in the coming months in order to keep pace with continuing growth.

Walter Böhnke, managing director of WDL, emphasizes: “We are pleased about the continuing growth of our company. We offer our employees attractive jobs and the opportunity to help shape the promising future of our company”.

WDL Aviation is one of Europe’s leading providers of aircraft leasing services for regional jets.The new E-190 aircraft complement the existing fleet of six BAe 146 jets. The company also offers partial services such as aircraft rental, crew, maintenance and various complete solutions.

Photo: WDL Aviation.