Author Archives: Bruce Drum

About Bruce Drum

I have started the ultimate digital photo library of the fascinating world of airliners and airlines. The goal is to have the complete history of all airlines and the various aircraft operated. I have been photographing airplanes since 1965. Join us in this adventure.

Allegiant Air announces a new aircraft base in Grand Rapids, MI

Allegiant Air Airbus A319-111 N312NV (msn 2289) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945204.

Allegiant Air has announced plans to establish a two-aircraft base at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Allegiant’s growth plans in the state include creating at least 66 new, high-wage jobs.  As part of today’s presentation, the company also announced service to two new cities – Nashville, Tennesseeand Savannah, Georgia.

Today, Allegiant serves 11 nonstop routes from the state of Michigan, including flights from Grand Rapids and Flint.

New seasonal service from Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) announced today includes:

Nashville, Tennessee via Nashville International Airport (BNA) – beginning June 6, 2019 Savannah, Georgia via Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) – beginning June 7, 2019

Allegiant began operating at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in 2009 and with today’s announcement now offers nine nonstop routes – to Las Vegas; Mesa, Arizona; to five cities in Florida: St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Punta Gorda, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Sanford and Sarasota/Bradenton; and seasonal service to Nashville and Savannah beginning in June.

Allegiant currently carries more than 300,000 annual passengers through Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids will become the airline’s 16th aircraft base, which will allow Allegiant to expand its service to and from the city, offer more new nonstop routes in the future, and further connect Grand Rapids businesses, residents and visitors to destinations around the world.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Allegiant Air Airbus A319-111 N312NV (msn 2289) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945204.

Allegiant Air aircraft slide show:




Malaysia Airlines reinstates Kochi, India

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-8H6 WL 9M-MXE (msn 40132) DPS (Pascal Simon). Image: 943656.

Malaysia Airlines has announced its return to Kochi with its inaugural flight on March 31, 2019.

The airline will be flying daily Kochi via MH108, serviced by the Boeing 737-800, which will depart Kuala Lumpur at 10.40 pm and arrive Kochi at 12.01 am the following day. The return flight, MH109 will depart Kochi at 1 am and will arrive Kuala Lumpur at 7.50 am the same day.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-8H6 WL 9M-MXE (msn 40132) DPS (Pascal Simon). Image: 943656.

Malaysia Airlines aircraft slide show:



Tajik Air ceases all operations, Somon Air takes over some routes

Tajik Air Boeing 737-522 LY-AWG (msn 26700) DME (OSDU). Image: 904550.

Tajik Air (Dushanbe) on January 14, 2019 ceased all operations after failing to deal with its increasing financial problems.

Top Copyright Photo: Tajik Air Boeing 737-522 LY-AWG (msn 26700) DME (OSDU). Image: 904550.

Tajik Air at the end was operating a Boeing 737-300, a Boeing 757-200 (below) and a Boeing 767-300.

Above Photo: Ercan Karakas.

Competitor Somon Air announced it had taken over the Dushanbe – Moscow (Domodedovo) route on January 3, 2019.

Somon Air released this statement:

Due to suspension of Tajik Air flights on some routes, starting from January 3, 2019 Somon Air began to carry out flights on the route Dushanbe – Moscow (Domodedovo) – Dushanbe, earlier operated by Tajik Air. Thus, in addition to its morning flights to Domodedovo Airport (departure from Dushanbe – 8:00 local time) Somon Air will also operate night flights to Domodedovo (departure from Dushanbe – 20:00). Arrival time at Domodedovo Airport – 22:25, departure time from Moscow is 00:10; arrival to Dushanbe is at 06:10 local time). All flights will be carried out on Boeing 737-800 and -900 aircraft.

Let us remind that Somon Air also operates flights to Zhukovski Airport three times a week – on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Departure from Dushanbe is at 14:30 local time.

Additionally, in the future Somon Air is planning to operate other flights being carried out by Tajik Air – from Dushanbe to Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Surgut and Samara; from Khujand to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Surgut, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg; from Kulob to Moscow, as well as from Bokhtar to Moscow, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.

Delta reports fourth quarter and 2018 financial results

Delta Air Lines today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2018.

Highlights of those results, including both GAAP and adjusted metrics, are below and incorporated here.

Adjusted pre-tax income for the fourth quarter 2018 was $1.2 billion driven by over $700 million of revenue growth, allowing the company to fully recapture the $508 million increase in adjusted fuel expense and produce an 11 percent adjusted pre-tax margin.  Adjusted earnings per share increased by 42 percent year over year to $1.30.

For the full year, adjusted pre-tax income was $5.1 billion, a $137 million decrease relative to 2017 as the company overcame approximately 90 percent of the $2 billion increase in fuel expense.  Full year adjusted earnings per share were $5.65, up 19 percent compared to the prior year as the company recognized benefits from tax reform and a four percent lower share count.

“2018 was a successful year for Delta with record operational reliability, increasing customer satisfaction, and solid financial results in the face of higher fuel costs.  Delta people are the foundation of our success and I am honored to recognize their efforts with $1.3 billion in profit sharing for 2018,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.  “As we move into 2019, we expect to drive double-digit earnings growth through higher revenues, maintaining a cost trajectory below inflation, and the modest benefit from lower fuel costs.  Margin expansion is a business imperative and we remain confident in our full-year earnings guidance of $6 to $7 per share.”

Revenue Environment

Delta’s adjusted operating revenue of $10.7 billion for the December quarter improved 7.5 percent, or $747 million versus the prior year.  Total unit revenues excluding refinery sales (TRASM, adjusted) increased 3.2 percent during the period driven by healthy leisure and corporate demand offsetting an approximately 0.5 point headwind from unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

For the full year, adjusted operating revenue grew to nearly $44 billion, up eight percent versus prior year on an increasingly diverse revenue base, with 52 percent of revenues from premium products and non-ticket sources.  Premium product ticket revenues increased 14 percent along with double-digit percentage increases from cargo, loyalty, and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul revenue.

“Delta’s strong brand momentum was evident across the business with positive unit revenue growth in all geographic entities for the full year, a record revenue premium to the industry, and double-digit revenue growth from premium products and non-ticket sources,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s president.  “Our first quarter adjusted unit revenue growth is expected to be flat to up two percent including impacts from the timing of Easter, increasing currency headwinds, and the ongoing government shutdown.”

March Quarter 2019 Guidance

For the March quarter, Delta expects to deliver four to six percent total adjusted revenue growth and non-fuel unit cost growth below inflation.


Cost Performance

Total adjusted operating expenses for the December quarter increased $803 million versus the prior year quarter, with more than half of the increase driven by higher fuel prices and profit sharing.

CASM-Ex was down 0.5 percent for the December quarter 2018 compared to the prior year period, the strongest cost performance for the year.  For the full year, CASM-Ex increased 1.4 percent, marking an important inflection in the company’s cost trajectory with increasing benefits from efficiency initiatives, Delta’s fleet transformation and strong performance from operating units.

Adjusted fuel expense increased $508 million, or 27 percent, relative to December quarter 2017.  Delta’s adjusted fuel price per gallon for the December quarter was $2.42 which includes a 16 cent headwind from the Monroe refinery and inventory pre-purchases.  For the full year, adjusted fuel expense increased $2.1 billion, or 29 percent versus prior year.

Adjusted non-operating expense for the quarter improved by $258 million versus the prior year, driven primarily by pension expense favorability and the DAL Global Services transaction (see below for more detail).  For the full year, adjusted non-operating expense improved by $360 million versus the prior year.

“In 2018, we successfully returned to our long-term target of keeping non-fuel unit cost growth below two percent, with December quarter non-fuel unit costs declining 0.5 percent,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief financial officer. “With solid momentum from our fleet transformation and One Delta efforts, we have confidence in our path to one percent non-fuel unit cost growth in 2019.”

Cash Flow and Shareholder Returns

Delta generated $1.3 billion of adjusted operating cash flow and $45 million of free cash flow during the quarter.  For the full year, Delta generated $6.9 billion of adjusted operating cash flow and $2.3 billion of free cash flow.

The company invested $4.7 billion into the business in 2018 including $1.3 billion in the December quarter.

This enabled delivery of 68 new aircraft in 2018, including five Airbus A350s and four Airbus A220s (below).  The company’s ongoing fleet transformation is driving higher customer satisfaction, premium seat growth, and improved cost efficiency.

Third Airbus A220, delivered on December 8, 2018

Above Copyright Photo: Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-100 (CS100 BD-500-1A10) N103DU (msn 50022) DFW (Brian Peters). Image: 944925.

Delta aircraft slide show (Airbus):

During the December quarter, Delta returned $563 million to shareholders, comprised of $325 million of share repurchases and $238 million in dividends.  For the full year, Delta returned $2.5 billion to shareholders, comprised of $1.6 billion of share repurchases and $909 million in dividends.

Strategic Highlights

In 2018, Delta achieved a number of milestones across its five key strategic pillars.

Culture and People

• Received the Glassdoor Employee’s Choice Award for the fourth consecutive year, based entirely on input provided by employees, reiterating the importance of the Delta culture.

• Announced sustainability improvements including removal of a variety of single-use plastic items from Delta’s aircraft and clubs, eliminating more than 300,000 pounds in plastic waste annually.

• Contributed over $50 million to the communities we serve as part of Delta’s commitment to give back at least 1% of net profits to charitable organizations.

Operational Reliability

• Delivered 143 days of zero system cancellations across the combined mainline and Delta Connection operations on a full year basis, up from 90 days in 2017.

• Achieved industry-leading operational performance with mainline on-time performance (A14) of 85.7 percent for the year; and top legacy carrier baggage performance as measured in the latest Department of Transportation report.

• Recognized by FlightGlobal as the ‘Most On-time North American Mainline Airline,’ ‘Most On-time North American Network Airline,’ and ‘Most On-time International Mainline Airline.’

Network and Partnerships

• Continued Delta’s global and domestic expansion with the announcement of new routes in the December quarter including Boston-Edinburgh, Boston-Lisbon, Minneapolis/St. Paul-Mexico City, and Minneapolis/St. Paul-Shanghai, pending governmental approvals.

Customer Experience and Loyalty

• Debuted the first U.S. biometric airport terminal at the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal in Atlanta, allowing customers flying direct to an international destination on Delta, Aeromexico, Air France-KLM, or Virgin Atlantic Airways to use facial recognition technology from curb to gate.

• Ranked as the No. 1 U.S. airline by the corporate travel community in the Business Travel News Airline Survey for a historic eighth consecutive year, sweeping all 10 categories.

• Experienced double-digit growth in co-brand spend, helping drive $3.4 billion of incremental value from Delta’s American Express relationship for the full year.  New card acquisitions reached 1 million for the second year in a row and Delta expanded new SkyMiles Members by a record number in one year.

Investment Grade Balance Sheet

• Established a long-term leverage ratio target of 1.5x to 2.5x adjusted debt to EBITDAR, which should allow Delta to maintain investment grade ratings through a business cycle.  At year end 2018, Delta achieved a 1.9x adjusted debt to EBITDAR ratio.

DAL Global Services Transaction

On December 21, 2018, Delta completed a transaction combining DAL Global Services (DGS) with a subsidiary of Argenbright Holdings.  Delta retained a 49 percent equity stake in the combined company.  As a result of the transaction, Delta recognized an approximately $90 million gain in non-operating expense in the December quarter.

For the full year 2018, DGS operations contributed four cents to Delta’s earnings per share, after adjusting for profit sharing.  In 2019, Delta will recognize 49 percent of the combined entity’s income in operating expense.  The year over year impact on earnings, margins, and non-fuel unit costs are expected to be immaterial.  For guidance purposes, DGS revenues will be excluded in year-over-year calculations for unit and total revenue to reflect core revenue trends in the business.  In 2018, DGS contributed approximately $60 million in revenue per quarter.

Lease Accounting

In the December quarter, Delta early adopted the new lease accounting standard.  The new standard requires leases to be recorded on the balance sheet as lease liabilities with corresponding right-of-use assets.  The effects of the new standard will be reflected as of January 1, 2018 by recasting prior quarters in the company’s 2018 Form 10-K.  This adoption resulted in the recognition of approximately $6 billion in incremental lease liabilities and right-of-use assets on the balance sheet.

In addition, the adoption increased full year 2018 pre-tax income by approximately $50 million after adjusting for profit sharing, a six cent impact to full year earnings per share.  The impact on the December quarter was immaterial and there is no year over year impact on 2019.

December Quarter and Full Year Results

Adjusted results were primarily impacted by unrealized gains/losses on investments.


British Airways to retire Boeing 747-400 G-BNLK

British Airways Boeing 747-436 G-BNLK (msn 24053) LHR (SPA). Image: 945271.

British Airways is retiring the second Boeing 747-400 from the “Final 36”. The pictured G-BNLK is being ferried to St. Athan after 28 years of faithful service.

G-BNLK was delivered to BA on May 25, 1990.

BA is expected to retire the last Boeing 747 in February 2024. 18 are being replaced with new Airbus A350-1000s. Half of the remaining 747 fleet is expected to be retired by 2021.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by BA): British Airways Boeing 747-436 G-BNLK (msn 24053) LHR (SPA). Image: 945271.

British Airways aircraft slide show (current):

British Airways aircraft slide show (historic):

Below Copyright Photo: British Airways Boeing 747-436 G-BNLK (msn 24053) (interim livery) (Bruce Drum Collection). Image: 944843.

1997 interim livery

Bottom Copyright Photo: British Airways Boeing 747-436 G-BNLK (msn 24053) (Water Dreaming) LHR (SPA). Image: 945270.

BA's 1997 "Ngapa Jukurrpa - Water Dreaming" livery


Mango Airlines to install Split Scimitar® winglets on its Boeing 737-800 fleet

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that South Africa’s Mango Airlines has ordered its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology for its Boeing Next Generation 737-800 fleet.

Mango Airlines plans to perform the first installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets in February at South African Airways Technical facility.

The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets.  The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Mango’s annual fuel requirements by more than 155,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 390 tons per aircraft per year.

Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program APB has taken orders and options for more than 2,000 systems, and nearly 1,200 aircraft are now operating with the technology.  APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 9.1 billion gallons to-date thereby saving over 96 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company.

Mango Airlines SOC Ltd, trading as Mango, is a state-owned South African low-cost airline based at OR Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg, South Africa and a subsidiary of South African Airways.

Air France announces 4 new summer destinations

Air France Airbus A320-214 WL F-HEPK (msn 8127) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 942276.

Air France has made this announcement:

For the upcoming peak summer season, in July and August, Air France will for the first time be operating flights to Heraklion (Crete, Greece), Palermo (Sicily, Italy), Olbia* (Sardinia, Italy) and Split (Croatia) on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

4 new destinations on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle for the 2019 summer season

Copyright Photo: Yannick Delamarre.

4 destinations in continuation of the 2018 summer season on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Air France is extending and intensifying the frequency of its flights to Cagliari*, Dubrovnik, Ibiza and Bari from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, already operated in 2018. In addition, these four destinations will be served every weekend during the 2019 summer season.

The Greek city of Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is the ideal starting point to discover this sunny island. The island, with its whitewashed houses, beautiful sandy and pebble beaches and exceptional flora is an ode to hedonism.

The bright sunlight of Palermo

For centuries, many different cultures – including Roman, Arab, Punic and Norman – have shaped Palermo. From this mosaic of cultures was born a city with a harmonious and baroque portrait. Palaces, churches and buildings with Arabic-Norman architecture imbued with baroque style will delight aesthetes and history lovers alike. Palermo is a city whose beauty is uncontested. You can walk through its streets as if you were walking through a poem. The rugged coast offers many sun-drenched beaches with turquoise waters.

The happy city of Olbia

Olbia, which means “happiness” in Greek, is the starting point in Sardinia, its turquoise waters and unspoiled scenery. Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, is an island tossed around by Phoenician, Roman, Genoese and Spanish cultures, among others. This land, whose geography varies from the hills where you can hear Sardinian shepherds whistling, to the coasts lined with turquoise waters, is certainly one of our most stunning destinations.

The beaches and palaces of Split

With sandy beaches and turquoise waters, a historic centre with sumptuous monuments and a port to sail to the beautiful islands of Dalmatia, Split is an ideal holiday destination. Croatia’s second largest city, located on the coast, is a delight for all beach lovers. The city is also home to a rich cultural and architectural heritage. It is home to the Diocletian Palace, an imposing monument dating back to the Roman Empire and inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

*flights operated by HOP! Air France
**compared to the 2018 summer season

Top Copyright Photo: Air France Airbus A320-214 WL F-HEPK (msn 8127) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 942276.

Air France aircraft slide show: