Monthly Archives: March 2022

Etihad Airways unveils new ‘Sustainable50’ Airbus A350-1000 on inaugural flight to Paris

Etihad Airways today unveiled its new Airbus A350-1000, registration A6-XWB, on a special inaugural commercial flight from Abu Dhabi to Paris. The aircraft is the first A350 to be operated by a UAE airline, and the first of five A350s set to join Etihad’s fleet over the coming months.

The first flight departed Abu Dhabi for Paris Charles de Gaulle at 7.30am with a delegation including diplomatic dignitaries, Etihad and Airbus representatives, media, trade partners and other VIPs.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The Airbus A350 is an absolutely incredible aircraft, and we are proud to introduce it into the Etihad Airways network today. Our teams have worked closely together to craft a product and travel proposition that will ensure every journey with Etihad is a choice well made – both for our guests and for the planet. With highly efficient fuel consumption and CO2 savings, the A350 will support our goals to reduce carbon emissions and deliver an unmatched flight experience for our guests.”

Sustainability50

The aircraft, named Sustainability50, carries a unique livery in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the federation of the UAE and Etihad’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. It will join the airline’s industry-leading sustainability drive as part of a program aimed at decarbonizing aviation.

Formed as a partnership between Etihad, Airbus and Rolls Royce in 2021, the Sustainability50 program will see Etihad’s A350s used as flying testbeds of new initiatives, procedures and technologies to reduce carbon emissions, building on the learnings derived from Etihad’s similar Greenliner program for the Boeing B787 aircraft type.

The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered Airbus A350 is one of the most efficient aircraft types in the world, with 25% less fuel burn and CO2 emissions than previous-generation twin aisle aircraft.

Etihad recently established a formal framework with Airbus to collaborate on sustainability across a number of areas including the promotion and commercialization of sustainable aviation fuel, waste and weight management, and the development of data-driven analysis.

Network

The airline’s new A350-1000s will be deployed on a number of short to mid-range routes in Q2, including Mumbai and Delhi, before being introduced on ultra-long-haul operations to Chicago and New York from July.

Guest Experience

The aircraft features Etihad’s newest cabin interior which is inspired by Abu Dhabi and is both more efficient and sustainable in design. Etihad is renowned for high-quality aircraft, and the A350 is filled with thoughtful design details providing exceptional comfort and enhanced privacy.

Etihad’s signature lighting design is inspired by the shadows cast by Abu Dhabi’s palm trees. The cabin lighting emulates natural ambient light and is designed to enhance the guest experience, provide an optimum environment for sleeping and reduce the effects of jetlag. The Airbus A350 also offers the quietest cabin experience for a wide-body aircraft.

Another feature to help reduce light pollution, and therefore jetlag, is the new dark-mode interface on the E-BOX inflight entertainment system. Mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity is also available throughout the aircraft.

Etihad’s ‘Little VIP’ younger guests will enjoy the newly launched Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi themed family-friendly flying experience and a special feature on this aircraft is the new interactive flight map feature which means children can explore the maps with the help of some Jurassic-age friends.

Business class

The elevated Business class is home to 44 Business Studios with sliding doors that provide a high level of privacy to each suite. Every seat faces forward with direct aisle access. The Business class seat, with a width of over 20”, converts into a fully-flat bed of 79” in length, and features ample storage for convenience.

Noise-cancelling headphones and an 18.5” TV screen provide a cinematic experience to enjoy Etihad’s extensive inflight entertainment offering. The Business seats cleverly feature a built-in wireless charging dock and Bluetooth headphone pairing.

Business class guests can choose from a carefully curated à la carte menu, and guests on longer flights can enjoy Etihad’s signature ‘dine anytime’ service.

Economy class

Etihad’s spacious Economy cabin is configured with 327 smart seats in a 3-3-3 arrangement, of which 45 ‘Economy Space’ seats have been enhanced with an additional 4 inches of legroom. The Crystal Cabin Award-winning seats were selected after extensive customer trials by Etihad and based on their comfort and sustainability credentials. The seats feature Etihad’s signature supportive headrest, USB charging and Bluetooth headphone pairing, as well as a 13.3” inch screen to enjoy Etihad’s award-winning inflight entertainment system.

Guests receive blankets and pillows for additional comfort and amenity kits on longer flights, as well as enjoying complimentary dining and beverages served by Etihad’s award-winning cabin crew.

SmartLynx Airlines to expand its fleet to around 60 aircraft this summer

Airline Color Scheme - Introduced 2008

SmartLynx Airlines has made this announcement:

This week, Latvia’s oldest operating carrier SmartLynx Airlines marks its 30th anniversary. In the summer season, the airline plans to have about 60 airplanes, becoming the largest air fleet operator in the Baltic states.

Presently, SmartLynx Airlines operates 33 airplanes, in April three more will be delivered, and the other 22 will be delivered gradually by the end of the summer season. The company’s fleet consists of Airbus A320 (25), A330-300 (6), and A321 (4) aircraft. There are two other Airbus A321F air cargo jets, and in April the company will receive the first Boeing 737 MAX.

“We expect that in relation to the fleet size, this year we will be ahead the world’s largest names in aviation, but we will be able to speak about it in more detail when we have received all the aircraft. The experience obtained during the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis helped us to continue sustainable development so that we could mark our 30th anniversary with a record-high number of airplanes. As our fleet is expanding, the number of our employees is also increasing – we have already 300 employees in our Riga office, and by the end of the year we plan to fill in 40 more vacancies. We hope to see our next anniversary as the largest Latvian employer in aviation,” said SmartLynx Airlines head Zygimantas Surintas.

Developing new business directions during crisis

The pandemic is called the most severe crisis in the aviation history, however, despite the sudden strike, SmartLynx Airlines during this time has not only managed to maintain its operations, but also develop new business directions. The air cargo fleet has been expanded significantly, and air cargo transportation will be one of the company’s main strategic directions also in the future. The airline announced on opening fleet service centre SmartLynx Technik in Riga and Tallinn. Meanwhile, two geographically significant players – Royal Air Maroc in Morocco and Air Peace in Nigeria were added to the client portfolio for full-service ACMI aircraft lease services.

The company’s subsidiary SmartLynx Malta announced on a significant step, signing a partnership agreement with DHL Express, providing that the two recently refurbished cargo jets Airbus A321-200 will join the DHL European air fleet. The company during the pandemic has managed to keep and maintain cooperation with the largest partners from the pre-pandemic period, such as EasyJet, TUI and Jet2.

Development plans not only in Europe, but also in other continents

As the company’s head says, the main strategic direction of SmartLynx Airlines will be to strengthen the airline’s leading position as a trustworthy passenger and air cargo carrier not only in Europe, but also in other continents.

At present, the main business share of SmartLynx Airlines is organization of passenger charter flights to different resorts and special destinations. A large business share is related with leasing the company’s jets, services and staff to those airlines who wish to expand their range of services.

SmartLynx Airlines long-term clients include easyJet, TUI, Jet2. Recently such companies as DHL, Qatar Airways, Air Peace, Royal Air Morocco, and others have joined the client portfolio.

Routes from Riga:

Routes from Tallinn:

Top Copyright Photo: SmartLynx Airlines Estonia Airbus A320-232 ES-SAM (msn 1896) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 927299.

SmartLynx Airlines aircraft slide show:

SmartLynx Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Swiss marks its 20th anniversary, starts a new route to Bologna

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its foundation this year. The first-ever SWISS flight was performed from Basel to Zurich on 31 March 2002. The airline has been keeping Switzerland connected with the world ever since, bringing people together and making a vital contribution to promoting the country as an attractive place to visit and do business. “If it weren’t for the great loyalty of our customers, the strong commitment of our employees in the air and on the ground, our fruitful collaborations with our airport partners and our suppliers and – not least – the firm support that we have received from the Swiss people, the Swiss political world and the banks, including in the present pandemic times, SWISS would simply not be one of the leading airlines today,” says company CEO Dieter Vranckx. “We have all achieved so much together. And I would like to say a sincere thank-you to everyone who has given us such strong and solid support over the past 20 years, and has helped us ensure that SWISS will continue to fly the Swiss cross with pride and with gratitude all over the globe.”

An eventful history

SWISS’s early years, following its creation on the foundations of Crossair and of Swissair’s flight operations, were marked by rigorous restructurings and uncertainties over its continued viability. An initially oversized aircraft fleet had to be substantially downscaled, together with the original workforce, before the new company could generate profits from its flight operations. The new SWISS also lacked the critical mass required to survive alone in the fiercely competitive air travel market. Such critical mass was secured in 2005, however, through the company’s integration into the Lufthansa Group. From then on, SWISS was able to benefit from the group’s strength and synergies, and achieved its financial turnaround as early as the following year.

The next SWISS milestone was also in 2006, when the company joined Star Alliance, the world’s biggest airline grouping. One year later Delhi became the first new intercontinental destination to be added to the SWISS route network since the airline’s foundation. It was followed by Shanghai (2008), San Francisco (2010), Beijing (2012) and Singapore (2013), all key points for Switzerland and all served with non-stop flights. Two further long-haul destinations – Washington and Osaka – were due to be added in 2020, but had such plans shelved by the coronavirus pandemic.

SWISS today serves 92 destinations from its Zurich hub and 46 points from Geneva. It carries more passengers and cargo than any Swiss airline has ever transported in the past. And together with its sister airline Edelweiss, which also joined the Lufthansa Group in 2008, the company is very well positioned in the premium business and leisure air travel segments.

Billions of investments in a premium product and an advanced aircraft fleet

SWISS’s takeoff into a new era was mirrored in 2011 by its adoption of a new corporate brand. Over the following decade some CHF 8 billion was invested in acquiring the most advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft, in substantially expanding its destination portfolio from Zurich and Geneva and in further enhancing its premium product in the form of new lounges and aircraft cabins. At the same time, SWISS was compelled to end its flight operations in Basel in 2015, after a changed market environment and difficult political parameters had blighted prospects and perspectives in the premium travel segment. Just one year later, though, came one of the biggest highlights in the company’s 20-year history to date: the addition to the SWISS fleet of the world’s first highly economical Airbus A220 (which was then known as the Bombardier C Series). The same year saw the delivery of SWISS’s first Boeing 777-300ER, its long-haul flagship, twelve of which are now in service.

SWISS will continue to promote such investments in sustainability and in its product in the years ahead. The company has set itself the two objectives of halving its carbon dioxide emissions from their 2019 level by 2030 and of making its operations carbon-neutral by 2050. “Sustainability is one of our key strategic pillars,” explains CEO Vranckx. “Over the past 20 years we have reduced our carbon dioxide emissions per passenger-kilometre by around 30 per cent. We continue to work on improving our fuel efficiency; and, among other endeavours, we are also lobbying strongly for the development and market introduction of sustainable aviation fuel, to help us achieve our ambitious ecological objectives.” SWISS will also have welcomed 25 state-of-the-art Airbus A320/321neos into its fleet by the end of 2025. These highly advanced aircraft emit some 20 per cent less carbon dioxide than their predecessor models.

Airline of Switzerland: mission accomplished

The crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic has further confirmed the vital importance of having an ‘Airline of Switzerland’ or a Swiss-based hub carrier. SWISS, together with its sister airline Edelweiss, performed a total of 86 flights under the biggest repatriation programme ever conducted by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to bring stranded travellers back home. Between the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and February 2022, SWISS’s Swiss WorldCargo airfreight division also performed no fewer than 2,650 all-cargo flights that transported over 69,300 tonnes of cargo and provided Switzerland besides many with urgently-needed medical supplies such as facemasks and vaccines.

In the 20 years since its foundation SWISS has performed 2.8 million flights of an aggregate distance of 3.8 billion kilometres, or 95,000 times around the world. These flights have transported just under 266 million passengers – about 40 times the population of Switzerland – and 5.6 million tonnes of cargo, the equivalent in weight of some 560 Eiffel Towers.

Twenty aircraft namings and many more anniversary activities planned

SWISS is marking its 20th anniversary with a wide range of activities and attractive offers. The latter will be launched with a 48-hour sale from 2 April in which customers can take advantage of attractive fares throughout the European network. In addition, 20 of SWISS’s advanced Airbus A220 aircraft will be formally named after Swiss tourist resorts between now and year-end. The naming ceremonies will be held in selected locations throughout Switzerland, on a “We’ll come to you” basis.

Further anniversary attractions include a special jubilee video (above) that captures the landmark moments in SWISS’s 20-year history to date. SWISS travelers will be able to immerse themselves in the SWISS story, too: from July to September, passengers will be offered a special edition of the inflight SWISS Magazine providing intriguing insights into the fascinating SWISS world of the past two decades along with our travel specialists’ favorite destinations. Also planned is a big 20th anniversary competition offering various attractive prizes.

In other news, SWISS inaugurated our new Zurich-Bologna route, Bologna Airport being the 4th new destination in the summer timetable. SWISS connects the two cities with four weekly flights as of today.

Eurowings Discover starts its summer schedule, now flies to Victoria Falls

Eurowings Discover Airbus A330-203 D-AXGF (msn 616) FRA (Rainer Bexten). Image: 955382.

Eurowings Discover has made this announcement:

With the start of the summer flight schedule last Sunday, March 27, Eurowings Discover has added a number of attractive leisure destinations to its flight schedule.

For the first time, the young leisure airline also took off this week from its Munich hub to three long-haul destinations: Las Vegas, Punta Cana and Cancún. From now on, travelers can look forward to two weekly flights to each of these three dream destinations.

From Frankfurt, the young Lufthansa Group airline will fly to Panama City for the first time. The nonstop flight is offered three times a week from Frankfurt – all year round. This makes Eurowings Discover the only airline to offer a year-round direct connection between Germany and Panama City.

Two flights took off on Monday, March 28, bound for North America, to Las Vegas in the state of Nevada and to Fort Myers in Florida. From now on, there will be four flights a week from Frankfurt to Las Vegas, and three flights a week to Fort Myers all year round. Eurowings Discover offers the only direct connection between Germany and Fort Myers.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is another very special destination in the flight schedule from Frankfurt. Three flights a week will fly passengers to Victoria Falls until mid-November, with a short stopover in Windhoek, Namibia. Eurowings Discover is the first European airline ever to offer direct flights to Victoria Falls.

In the course of this summer, more long-haul flights from Frankfurt will be added to the flight plan, including Malé (April 23), Calgary (May 23), Salt Lake City (May 23), Kilimanjaro (June 6), Halifax (June 13) and Anchorage (June 13). The airline is also expanding its short- and medium-haul program to North Africa, the Canary Islands, the Greek islands, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey.

Top Copyright Photo: Eurowings Discover Airbus A330-203 D-AXGF (msn 616) FRA (Rainer Bexten). Image: 955382.

Eurowings Discover aircraft slide show:

Eurowings Discover aircraft photo gallery:

European airlines CEOs call for urgent action on key aviation policies to assist aviation’s recovery and support continued decarbonization efforts

Airlines for Europe issued this statement:

Two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Europe, and five weeks after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, A4E CEOs are navigating back-to-back crises and have called on European policy makers to take urgent action on key legislative proposals that would strengthen airlines’ recovery prospects, protect and accelerate decarbonisation efforts and help rebuild passenger connectivity.

European aviation remains one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2020-2021, A4E airlines lost over 500m passengers compared to 2019, and some experienced staff cuts (-150,000 employees) due to the pandemic. According to the latest IATA forecast, Europe’s airlines are not expected to post a profit until 2023, or 2024 at the earliest. A thriving and economically viable aviation sector in Europe is a key enabler for other industries’ recovery, including tourism.

With fuel representing up to 35% of airlines’ operating costs, and energy prices expected to remain high until at least 2023, EU aviation policies must reflect the “new reality” airlines in Europe are facing. Despite strong pent-up demand among Europeans to travel again, record oil and carbon prices 1 combined with lengthy detours around Russian airspace will weaken competition between European and non-European carriers for flights to/from Asia.

Key policies must be re-assessed and swiftly updated to help airlines mitigate rising costs on multiple fronts and operate more efficiently. For example, more cost-efficient air navigation services for flights within Europe could be realized along with an up to 10% reduction in CO2 emissions by implementing the Single European Sky, which remains in trilogue negotiations between the European Council, the European Parliament and European Commission.

Without appropriate mitigation measures, future energy and climate policies will erode airlines’ competitiveness and lead to carbon leakage.

CEOs reiterated their commitment to reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and support European carbon reduction targets — but stressed the need for global climate action and pricing support measures to level the playing field.  A4E CEOs want global uniform regulation, including a global carbon price for aviation which would stimulate low carbon technology development — as well as using the system of ETS allowances to support the uptake of sustainable fuels.

“Europe can become a global leader in decarbonising aviation. But achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 should not erode the competitiveness of European airlines nor lead to carbon leakage”, said Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Group CEO and A4E’s 2022 Chair. “To be successful, policies must be designed to avoid distorting competition between European stakeholders within the single aviation market — as well as between European and non-European airlines”, Spohr added.

The long overdue reform of EU air passenger rights rules (EU261) will ensure better information for passengers, reduce complexity, and incentivise airlines to minimize the impact of flight disruptions. For example, a list of so-called ‘extraordinary circumstances’ will help passengers know when they can claim compensation. As key issues are not defined in the current legislation, the total cost of European airlines’ compliance to EU261 has risen from €1.6 bn in 2011 to €5.3 bn in 2018. 2 It is vital that EU261 is streamlined and made future-proof should aviation be affected by another crisis like COVID-19.

ANA today retires the Star Wars BB8 special livery on JA789A

Special livery retired on March 31, 2022

ANA – All Nippon Airways made this announcement:

On March 31, 20222, the BB8™ ANA JET will take off on its last flight.

“The Force will be with you, always…”

Top Copyright Photo: ANA (All Nippon Airways) Boeing 777-381 ER JA789A (msn 40687) (Star Wars – BB-8) NRT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 957174.

ANA aircraft slide show:

ANA aircraft photo gallery:

Level returns to Los Angeles and San Francisco from Barcelona

Airline Color Scheme - Introduced 2017

Starting this week, LEVEL, IAG’s low-cost long-haul airline, connects Los Angeles with Barcelona and resumes its direct San Francisco–Barcelona route as part of its Summer 2022 Program.

LEVEL is the only airline that offers a direct connection from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Barcelona. The route from Los Angeles, the airline’s highlight for this summer season, will initially operate with three frequencies a week, on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and, as of June 1, an additional frequency will be added on Wednesdays, taking the total up to four. The route from San Francisco resumes with four weekly frequencies, including operations on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

This low-cost company is characterized by offering tailor-made customer experiences with very affordable prices. In fact, both routes to Barcelona are on sale from $479 round trip from Los Angeles and from $509 round trip from San Francisco.

The routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of four routes that LEVEL will operate in the United States during this 2022 summer season. In addition to Los Angeles and San Francisco, LEVEL is also flying to Barcelona from New York and a Boston–Barcelona route will be added on May 1.

Moreover, the airline’s codeshare with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines links the city of Barcelona with the US market thanks to the connecting reservations to and from destinations offered by those airlines. Thus, this codeshare provides the destinations of American Airlines and Alaska Airlines with a greater number of connections to Barcelona and other Spanish and European destinations through the network of Vueling, IAG’s low-cost short/medium-haul airline.

LEVEL will offer more than 11,000 weekly seats on its routes to the United States, which is more than double what it offered in 2019, before the pandemic.

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan destination in Spain. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the art of Gaudí, the city offers its visitors a vast array of culture, history, and spectacular beaches for fun or just relaxing. The city is also well known for its rich gastronomy, with restaurants for every taste.

Route details

Frequency Departure airport Departure time Arrival airport Arrival time
Monday, Wednesday*, Thursday, and Saturday BCN 14:00 LAX 18:10
Monday, Wednesday*, Thursday, and Saturday LAX 19:55 BCN 16:40 +1
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday BCN 14:00 SFO 18:10
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday SFO 20:10 BCN 17:00 +1

* From June 1, a fourth additional frequency is added to the Los AngelesBarcelona route.

To enter Spain, it is necessary to be vaccinated and present a Covid-19 vaccination certificate. Tourists can have two doses if no more than 270 days have passed since the date of the last vaccination, or three doses if more than 14 days have passed since the third vaccination.

If the established vaccination requirements are not met, a negative COVID-19 test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain or an antigen test carried out no more than 24 hours prior to arrival can be presented instead. It is also essential to fill out the Spain Travel Health form and obtain the QR code, vaccinated or not.

Top Copyright Photo: Level (Spain) Airbus A330-202 EC-MOU (msn 1777) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 938159.

Level aircraft slide show:

Level aircraft photo gallery:

ASL orders up to 20 additional 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters

Dublin-headquartered ASL Aviation Holdings (ASL) and Boeing today announced an order for up to 20 additional 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF). The agreement is for 10 firm orders and 10 purchase rights.

This is ASL’s second order for the 737-800BCF and including options, will bring the organization’s total 737-800BCF orders and commitments with Boeing to 40 aircraft. The aircraft will be converted by Boeing at approved MRO sites including STAECO in Jinan, China and at Boeing’s London Gatwick MRO facility in the United Kingdom.

The 737-800BCF carries more payload – up to 23.9 tonnes (52,800 lbs.) – and flies farther – 2,025 nautical miles (3,750 km) compared to 737 Classic freighters.