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.

Sun Country Airlines announces 16 new routes

Sun Country Airlines has announced the addition of 16 nonstop flights, adding nine airports to its growing network. The expansion includes nine nonstop routes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), two new nonstop routes from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and one additional nonstop route from San Antonio International Airport (SAT), Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Bradley International Airport (BDL).

The airline welcomes Bradley International Airport (BDL), John Wayne Airport (SNA), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), Fairbanks International Airport (FAI), Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) to its growing network.

In addition to the new routes, Sun Country also announced it is extending its current schedule through December 14, 2021. Sun Country customers now have access to more than 50 travel destinations and booking flexibility as they plan new travel and re-schedule any postponed vacations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Sun Country Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Sun Country Airlines aircraft slide show:

 

Andrew Levy to call his new budget airline “Avelo Airlines”

Andrew Levy, a former executive with Allegiant Air and United Airlines, is planning a no-frills, ultra low-cost airline for the United States, based on the Ryanair model.

Levy has registered the name of Avelo Airlines under the Houston Air Holdings, Inc. umbrella, the holding company behind the upstart airline.

The new airline previously acquired the AOA of XTRA Airways.

The new company registered the following logo:

 

Alaska Air Group reports fourth quarter 2020 and full-year results

Alaska Air Group has released its 4Q and 2020 financial results:

Financial Results:

  • Reported net loss for the fourth quarter and full year 2020 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $430 million, or $3.47 per diluted share, and $1.3 billion, or $10.59 per diluted share. These results compare to fourth quarter 2019 net income of $181 million, or $1.46 per diluted share, and full year 2019 net income of $769 million, or $6.19 per diluted share.
  • Reported adjusted net loss for the fourth quarter and full year 2020, excluding payroll support program wage offsets, special items, and mark-to-market fuel hedging adjustments, of $316 million, or $2.55 per diluted share, and $1.3 billion, or $10.17 per diluted share. These results compare to fourth quarter 2019 adjusted net income of $181 million, or $1.46 per diluted share, and full year 2019 adjusted net income of $798 million, or $6.42 per diluted share.
  • Reported adjusted net debt of $1.7 billion, flat from December 2019 despite a 59% decline in operating revenues for the year.
  • Reported a debt-to-capitalization ratio, including certain short-term borrowings, of 61%.
  • Held $3.3 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of Dec. 31, 2020.

Liquidity and Fleet Updates:

  • Accessed approximately $5 billion in new liquidity in 2020, including $1.2 billion raised in the capital markets and approximately $600 million in bank financing.
  • Reached an agreement with the U.S. Treasury in January 2021 to receive an extension of payroll support totaling $533 million, $266 million of which was received on Jan. 15, 2021.
  • Extended the period available to draw funds under the CARES Act loan program from March 26, 2021 to May 28, 2021.
  • Announced plans to expand the mainline fleet and restructure the existing aircraft purchase agreement with Boeing. In total, Air Group will take delivery of 68 737-9 MAX aircraft between 2021 and 2024, inclusive of 32 previous purchase commitments and 13 aircraft to be leased from Air Lease Corporation. https://twitter.com/AlaskaAir/status/1341466170688466945?s=20
  • Took delivery of Alaska’s first 737-9 MAX aircraft on January 24, 2021, which is expected to enter revenue service on March 1, 2021.
  • Permanently removed an additional 20 Airbus A320 aircraft from the fleet in the fourth quarter, resulting in 40 Airbus aircraft removed in 2020. A total of 31 Airbus aircraft remain in the operating fleet as of the end of the year.
  • Held $3.4 billion in cash and marketable securities as of Jan. 22, 2021, and total liquidity of $5.2 billion.

Operational and Guest Safety Updates

  • Announced seven new routes in the fourth quarter, including three “fun and sun” destinations connecting Anchorage to Las Vegas, Denver and San Francisco, and expanded service from Southern California to Austin and New York.
  • Eliminated change fees and extended the flexible travel policy for tickets purchased through March 31, 2021.
  • Implemented Next-Level Care initiative, which includes more than 100 measures designed to create a safe experience for guests and employees.
  • Named the safest U.S. airline by AirlineRatings.com in their annual Top 20 Safest Airline report.
  • Launched the West Coast International Alliance with American Airlines on Jan. 1, 2021, which will unlock new benefits for Alaska Mileage Plan members in the spring.
  • Partnered with healthcare providers to offer rapid and standardized COVID-19 testing for those guests traveling to destinations that require a negative result.
  • Received diamond level certification from the Airline Passenger Experience Association for the health and safety standards Alaska and Horizon Air implemented to keep guests safe throughout their journey.
  • Launched pre-clearance program for guests traveling to the Hawaiian Islands from the West Coast with an approved negative COVID-19 test.
  • Announced a partnership with Microsoft to use sustainable aviation fuel to offset the environmental impact of certain business air travel.
  • Announced oneworld benefits for elite Mileage Plan members, providing tier status in the global alliance to Alaska’s elite members, as the company works toward joining oneworld on March 31, 2021.

Alaska Air Group Inc. today reported a fourth quarter 2020 GAAP net loss of $430 million, or $3.47 per diluted share, compared to net income of $181 million, or $1.46 per diluted share in 2019. Excluding the impact of payroll support program wage offsets, special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported a fourth quarter adjusted net loss of $316 million, or $2.55 per diluted share, compared to adjusted net income of $181 million, or $1.46 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The company reported a full-year 2020 GAAP net loss of $1.3 billion, compared to net income of $769 million in the prior year. Excluding the impact of payroll support program wage offsets, special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported an adjusted net loss of $1.3 billion, or $10.17 per diluted share for 2020, compared to adjusted net income of $798 million, or $6.42 per diluted share in 2019.

“We are not out of the woods, but we are seeing signs of brighter days ahead,” said Air Group CEO Brad Tilden. “The people of Alaska and Horizon have really shown their grit over the past year, and the rest of the leadership team and I could not be more proud of them. We’re positioned to come out of this crisis with our balance sheet unimpaired and our competitive advantages intact, and both of these set us up for a strong future and a long runway for growth.”

 

Israel halts all air traffic to and from the country due to COVID-19

The Israeli Cabinet, on January 24, 2021 , approved the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Transportation Minister Miri Regev to halt flights to and from Israel:

1. A ban on incoming planes to Israel except for cargo flights, firefighting flights and flights for emergency medical evacuation

2. A temporary restriction on permits for operating Israeli airlines

3. A reduction in exceptions for departure by air to outside Israel so as to include the following cases only: Medical treatment, judicial proceedings to which the person is a party or must participate in, or the funeral of a close relative.

The Health Ministry Director General and the Transportation Ministry Director General are entitled to approve exceptional requests for departure abroad on humanitarian grounds or special personal need. The ban on departing by flight also applies to flights on private Israeli planes.

The regulations will take effect at 24:00 on Monday, January 25, 2021) in order to allow travelers, airlines and airports to prepare. The ban on the entry of foreign planes to Israel will not apply to flights that take off before the regulations take effect. The regulations will be in effect until January 31, 2021.

This measure affectively grounds most El Al Israel Airlines passenger flights.

Names of El Al aircraft:

 

REX becomes a new Boeing 737 operator, jet services to start on March 1

"Our heart is in the country"

REX – Regional Express Airlines is entering the competitive interstate domestic mainline market in Australia with six former Virgin Australia 176-seat Boeing 737-800NGs starting in March 2021.

 

REX jet services between Sydney and Melbourne will commence on March 1, 2021.

REX is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 60 SAAB 340 aircraft (pre-COVID) on 1,500 weekly flights to 59 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

The pictured VH-RQC was painted in Jakarta and arrived in Sydney on December 24, 2020 (below) to a water canyon salute.

In other news, the airline is also introducing new uniforms with this announcement:

As Rex’s inaugural domestic services between Sydney and Melbourne fast approach, Rex on January 23, 2021 unveiled its refreshed cabin crew uniforms. The new uniform retains the essence of Rex’s signature country hospitality but is presented in a classic yet elegant style. Rex’s National Flight Attendant Manager, Donna Griffith, said, “This fresh new look is intended to update Rex’s signature country hospitality. We have chosen a clean, fuss-free look that is simple yet elegant. Materials and cut have been carefully selected to provide comfort and practicality for my cabin crew.” “We are very proud that our uniforms are not designed by any famous designer. As with everything else we do in Rex, we have done everything in-house, from the design to the selection of material. This is who we are. This is what we do. This is why we are one of the most successful airlines in the world.”

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): REX (Regional Express Airlines) Boeing 737-8FE WL VH-RQC (msn 33797) SYD (John Adlard). Image: 952654.

REX Aircraft Photo Gallery:

REX Slide Show:

Alaska Airlines takes delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 9, N913AK

Alaska Airlines on January 24, 2021 took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 9 when the pictured N913AK (msn 44079, ln 7598) (top) relocated from the Boeing Delivery Center at Boeing Field (BFI) as flight “Alaska 9809” to nearby Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Later on January 25, 2021, Alaska Airlines issued this statement:

Alaska Airlines has accepted delivery of its first Boeing 737-9 MAX airplane, marking a new phase of modernizing the airline’s fleet in the coming years. Alaska pilots flew the aircraft on a short flight yesterday (January 24) from the Boeing Delivery Center at Boeing Field in Seattle to the company’s hangar at Sea-Tac International Airport with a small group of Alaska’s top leadership on board (below).

Alaska Airlines President Ben Minicucci takes in the view on board the airline’s delivery flight of its first Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft on Jan. 24, 2021.

Alaska’s first 737-9 is scheduled to enter passenger service on March 1, 2021 with daily roundtrip flights between Seattle/Tacoma and San Diego, and Seattle/Tacoma and Los Angeles. The airline’s second 737-9 is expected to enter service later in March.

Teams from across various divisions at Alaska will now follow a strict readiness timeline that guides the actions that must be taken before the start of passenger flights. The process – involving rigorous rounds of test flying, verifying and specific preparations – will take five weeks:

  • Maintenance technicians will undergo training to become even more acquainted with the new aircraft. They will receive at least 40 hours of “differences training,” which distinguishes the variations between the new MAX and the airline’s existing 737 NG fleet. Certain technicians will receive up to 40 additional hours of specialized training focused on the plane’s engines and avionics systems.
  • Alaska’s pilots will put the 737-9 through its paces, flying it more than 50 flight hours and roughly 19,000 miles around the country, including to Alaska and Hawaii. These “proving flights” are conducted to confirm our safety assessments and those of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and to ensure a full understanding of the plane’s capabilities in different climates and terrain.
  • Our pilots will receive eight hours of MAX-specific, computer-based training prior to flying the aircraft over the course of two days, which includes at least two hours of training in Alaska’s own certified, state-of-the-art MAX flight simulator. That’s where they fly several maneuvers specific to the aircraft and better understand the improvements that have been made to the plane.

Deliveries of Alaska’s 737-9 aircraft by Boeing will be flown with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which helps the aviation industry reduce CO2 emissions on a life-cycle basis. The SAF will be used on all MAX aircraft deliveries and will be supplied by Epic Fuels.

Alaska Airlines Capt. Chris Kipp inspects the engine of the airline’s first delivery of a Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft on Jan. 24, 2021.

Alaska announced a restructured order agreement with Boeing in December 2020 to receive a total of 68 737-9 MAX aircraft in the next four years, with options for an additional 52 planes. The airline is scheduled to receive 13 planes this year; 30 in 2022; 13 in 2023; and 12 in 2024. The agreement incorporates Alaska’s announcement last November to lease 13 737-9 aircraft as part of a separate transaction.

These 68 aircraft will largely replace Alaska’s Airbus fleet and move the airline substantially toward a single, mainline fleet that’s more efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly. The 737-9 will enhance the guest experience and support the company’s growth.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Joe G. Walker.

Skift: The Inside Story of How Alaska Airlines Went All-In on the Returning Boeing 737 MAX

Video:

Air North (Canada) retires its last HS.748, modifies its livery

On January 21, 2021 Air North operated its last Hawker-Siddeley HS.748 revenue flight with C-FCSE.

C-FCSE took off from Whitehorse International Airport (YXY) at 12:06 pm on January 21, 2021 as flight 4N190 bound for Edmonton and Thunder Bay, ON.

Air North made this announcement on social media:

On January 21, 2021 our Hawker Siddeley 748 C-FCSE made its final departure from Whitehorse. Congratulations to our talented team, past and present, who worked with this aircraft. The Hawker was a wonderful vehicle that served Yukon communities with pride.

In other news, Air North has modified its livery:

Answer: The titles are now larger and placed over the windows rather than above the windows.

Video:

Route Map:

Air North (Canada) aircraft photo gallery:

Air North (Canada) aircraft slide show:

Air Belgium suspends flights to the French West Indies until March 1, 2021

Air Belgium (2nd) has made this announcement:

The recent decisions of the Belgian government announced late on January 22, 2021 confirmed the travel ban, except for essential reasons. These new measures unfortunately force us to temporarily suspend our flights to and from the French West Indies from January 30 until  March 1, 2021.

Therefore, we would like to inform you of the following.

– Our flights scheduled from January 26th to 29th will be operated.

– Our passengers who were scheduled to travel on our routes between January 30 and  March 1 can of course postpone their trip free of charge to a later date and under the same conditions or be reimbursed (For a period of one year from the original planned travel date and within the same seasonality).

– Our flights are suspended from January 30 until March 1, 2021. Our passengers who have a scheduled return flight to Belgium or the French West Indies after January 30 will be redirected to another airline.

We would like to bring to your attention that from January 27 until March 1 travel for recreational/tourist purposes to/from Belgium is no longer permitted. Passengers must be able to justify their travel for an essential reason (https://centredecrise.be/…/le-comite-de-concertation-se-pro…).

In view of the number of people to be accommodated, we deal with changes individually and in order of priority based on the closest dates. We thank you for your understanding and patience.

Although the return to a settled situation is taking longer than we all hoped for, we remain optimistic and determined to resume our operations as soon as possible. We thank you again for your trust and wish you to stay healthy and enjoy the good times.

We look forward to seeing you soon,

The Air Belgium team

KLM develops a safe alternative testing protocol for crews

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued this statement:

After constructive consultations with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), KLM has developed a safe alternative testing protocol for crews leaving the airport in countries that are not on the governmental list of safe countries. This includes an alternative whereby, among other things, the rapid antigen test for this crew will be arranged at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol before departing from and after returning to the Netherlands. In addition, there are local safety guidelines at the destinations. The government has indicated that this protocol meets the requirements.

KLM has also implemented the flight ban from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America to the Netherlands as of 23 January. Cargo flights are excepted in the government measures.

For passengers traveling to Amsterdam from high-risk areas antigen tests are required by the Dutch government, in addition to the already existing PCR test requirement. The necessary procedures have also been put into effect. For a number of customers, the imposed 4-hour limit for this antigen test also causes practical problems, because not all airports in the world have antigen testing facilities. KLM helps customers where possible.

The operation to the limited set of safe countries remains unchanged.

Keeping flight operations running in a safe and responsible manner is and remains KLM’s priority, also since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020. This has enabled us to maintain essential travel, repatriation and the transport of necessary cargo so far. In addition, KLM has taken numerous measures on board, such as HEPA filters, facemasks and adjustment of the onboard service. The safety and health of our customers and staff have the highest priority for KLM. KLM also wants to continue to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, consultation remains necessary on effective and practicable appropriate measures for aviation, taking into account international agreements.

Pilots represented by Unifor Local 7378 have reached a tentative agreement with Sunwing Airlines

Unifor has issued this statement:

Pilots represented by Unifor Local 7378 have reached a tentative agreement with Sunwing Airlines.

“I applaud the leadership of Unifor 7378 for their grit and determination in fighting for a collective agreement that benefits our members during these challenging times,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Given all of our members are furloughed or inactive and the  industry is experiencing unprecedented losses while the federal government continues to hold back on any dedicated financial support for airline workers, it is truly remarkable that our bargaining team was able to achieve gains.”

The details of the tentative agreement will be presented to the members for ratification votes over the next two weeks.

“I am proud of our bargaining team for standing strong and defending our members as the global effects of the pandemic loomed significantly over this round of bargaining,” said Barret Armann, Local 7378 President. “Though we are experiencing what may be the worst time in history for air travel, our promise to get our members back to work is achieved in this contract.”

The Unifor 7378 Sunwing Pilot collective agreement expired on November 30, 2020.

Unifor represents 451 pilots at Sunwing Airlines Inc. who operate out of six bases across Canada- Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, Quebec City.