Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NokScoot unveils new livery

Thai long-haul, low-cost carrier NokScoot has unveiled the first Boeing 777-200 painted in its distinct livery.
 
The white and yellow fuselage is similar to 49% shareholder Scoot’s livery on its own 777s, while the distinct NokScoot logo is featured on the tailfin. It also bears the ‘beak’ motif found on Nok Air’s 737s.
 
The Thai budget carrier also owns a 49% stake in NokScoot, with the remaining 2% held by a company established by Nok's management.

asset image
(Image NokScoot)

“The design not only represents our spirit of adventure and exploration, but it also reflects who we are. Our fun, cheerfulness and friendliness will be present both in the air and on the ground at all airports,” says NokScoot chief executive Piya Yodmani.

asset image
(Image NokScoot)

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that the Rolls-Royce Trent 884-powered aircraft was built in 2001, and was purchased earlier this year from Singapore Airlines.

NokScoot secured its air operator’s certificate on 30 October, and plans to launch services to Japan during the first quarter of 2015. It is based at Bangkok Don Mueang International airport.

(Ellis Taylor - FlightGlobal News)

Alaska Airlines announces Milwaukee service

Alaska Airlines announced its entry into Milwaukee Tuesday morning through an expansion that is adding three new destinations from the airline's Northwest hubs.

The expansion is through a partnership with SkyWest Airlines and will allow Seattle-based Alaska to begin offering daily nonstop flights between Seattle and Milwaukee starting July 1, 2015. It also will be adding flights between Seattle and Oklahoma City and between Portland, Ore., and St. Louis.

The only other nonstop Milwaukee-to-Seattle flight is offered by Southwest Airlines.

Alaska's trips will be flown on new Embraer E175 jets featuring 12 seats in first class and 64 in coach. One-way introductory fares on the new routes have been set at $119.

"The E175 is new for the Alaska brand and fills a specific need to serve 'long, thin routes' -- destinations that are too distant for our regional aircraft, but currently don't have enough customer demand to fill a mainline jet," said Andrew Harrison, senior vice president of planning and revenue management for Alaska Airlines, in a news release.

The Utah-based SkyWest has purchased seven E175 aircraft to fly on behalf of Alaska under a capacity purchase agreement. The first three aircraft will arrive in summer 2015, and the remaining four will be delivered in early 2016.

(Rob Gebelhoff - Milwaukee Business Journal)

Ethiopian takes delivery of fourth B777 freighter

Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet expansion continues, with Africa's largest cargo operator taking delivery of its fourth 777F last week, 777-F60 (42032/1252) ET-ARI.
 
The acquisition of the latest pair of 777 freighters (the third was delivered last month) has been financed in part through a $41.4m loan from ING Capital.
 
The arrival of a new generation freighter will add further capacity and flexibility to a route network that serves 24 destinations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Ethiopian is still the only African operator of the 777 freighter.
 
(AirCargo News)

 

US and Mexico open the door to new crossborder routes

A new civil aviation agreement between the US and Mexico, due to come into force from January 2016, could see major new cross-border opportunities emerge for cargo carriers.

The agreement includes “unlimited market access for US and Mexican air carriers, improved intermodal rights, pricing flexibility, and other important commercial rights,” according to a statement from the US Department of Transportation.
 
Negotiated and agreed as a key element of the US-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, the agreement is set to see, for the first time, both cargo and passenger airlines having commercial freedom to fly between any city in Mexico and any city in the US.

Cargo airlines, in particular, will have expanded opportunities to provide service to new destinations that are not available under the current agreement.

“Travellers, shippers, airlines, and the economies of both countries will benefit from competitive pricing and more convenient air service,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

(AirCargo News)

Asiana set to take delivery of first 747-8F

Asiana will take delivery of the first of five Boeing 747-8 freighters set to join the South Korean operator’s fleet.
 
The aircraft, initially destined for Atlas Air in an order that was not taken up, is being leased from China's ICBC Financial Leasing Co.
 
Asiana currently operate Boeing 747-400Fs (plus a single 767-300F) on routes encompassing Asia, Europe and North America.
 
(AirCargo News) 

FAA may require fix for 787 proximity sensors

LAN 787-8 (42224/205) CC-BBH arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 22, 2014.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration proposed requiring a fix for Boeing's 787-8 Dreamliner on Wednesday, a move prompted by "numerous reports of failures of proximity sensors" on the high-tech plane's wings.

A sensor failure could cause the plane to go off the runway while landing on a short runway or in adverse weather, the FAA said in a proposed airworthiness directive scheduled to be published on Friday.

The directive, if adopted, would affect 15 planes registered in the United States, the FAA said. FAA actions are often followed by non-U.S. airlines. Through the end of October, Boeing has delivered 197 787-8s worldwide.

"We have received numerous reports of failures of the proximity sensor within the slat skew detection mechanism assembly (DMA) leading to slats up landing events," the FAA said.

"It was determined that the failed sensors had broken magnet wires due to stresses induced by thermal expansion and contraction of an epoxy applied around them," the agency added.

The new rule would require 787-8 operators to replace the slat skew detection mechanism assembly within two years of the date the directive takes effect. The cost is estimated at $935 per plane.
 
Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company had advised airlines in March about the problem, in a service bulletin, the FAA said. The FAA action would make action mandatory.

(Alwyn Scott - Reuters)

188 House members urge Norwegian Air rejection

A bipartisan group of 188 lawmakers is urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject Norwegian Airlines’ bid to increase flights to airports in the U.S. and Europe. 

Norwegian Air is attempting to gain access to airports that are covered under the U.S. and European Union’s Open Skies agreement by registering its airplanes in Ireland, which is a member of the EU. 

The Scandinavian company has said it will be able to offer transatlantic flights for as low as $150 each way if its effort is approved by the Department of Transportation, where it has been pending for most of the year.

However, a group of 188 lawmakers signed a letter this week to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx urging him to reject the Norwegian Air (NAI) bid because they said it would be unfair to U.S. airlines that register their airplanes domestically and abide by strict federal aviation rules.
 
“We urge DOT to deny NAI's pending application for a foreign air carrier permit,” the lawmakers wrote. “We remain concerned that granting NAI's application for a foreign air carrier permit would not be in the public interest and would unfairly put domestic airlines at a competitive disadvantage.

We also reiterate our belief that the business model of NAI does not comply with the provisions of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.”

The letter, which was spearheaded by Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), comes ahead of a scheduled meeting between transportation officials in the Obama administration and their counterparts from the European Union about the controversial Norwegian Air bid this week. 

Labor unions that represent pilots and flight attendants that work for U.S.-based airlines have campaigned vocally against the Norwegian Air “Open Skies” application for nearly a year, arguing the company is only able to offer lower ticket prices for international flights because it skirts labor laws that are normally applied to air carriers.

The airline’s CEO, Bjorn Kjos, said in a speech in Washington last week that opponents of his company’s plans were painting a false picture of its operations.
 
“It’s a Boeing. It’s the same crew. It’s the same pilots and they’re definitely not unsafe,” Kjos said of the planes Norwegian Air would fly to the U.S. if its “Open Skies” application is approved.

Norwegian Air currently flies planes that are registered in its home country to airports in New York, California and Florida under a subsidy company that is known as Norwegian Air Shuttle. The company argues the low-cost business model for his company's main airline requires access to more "Open Skies" airports in Europe, which also requires U.S. approval as part of the original agreement, to provide more route flexibility in its flight network. 

Norwegian Air has been trying to get approval for a full foreign carrier permit by registering its airplanes in Ireland instead of in its home country, which has riled members of the U.S. aviation industry because they argue that Irish aviation regulations are more lax than other EU nations.

Critics of Norwegian Air's bid already won a victory from the Obama administration when the DOT ruled in September that the company did not qualify for an exemption that allows foreign carriers who are seeking access to U.S. airports under the Open Skies agreement to begin providing flights while their full applications are still being review by federal regulators.

The lawmakers who wrote to Foxx this week said the DOT should press forward now with a full rejection of Norwegian Air, noting that the Republican-led House has already passed legislation intended to prevent maneuvers like the company is attempting now. 

“That initial decision by DOT was critically important to the U.S. aviation industry and its hundreds of thousands of employees who strive to compete on a level playing field,” the letter said. 

“As you know, in June, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment that would require the DOT to ensure that any foreign air operators' applications follow the terms of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement and U.S. law,” the lawmakers continued.

“That amendment was driven by the belief that NAI's flag-of-convenience business model does not comply with U.S. and international law, and would be detrimental to the future of the U.S. aviation industry, aviation workers and our national economy.”

(Keith Laing- The Hill) 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Boeing begins final assembly of first 787-9 at South Carolina facility

Boeing has started final assembly of the 787-9 Dreamliner at its South Carolina facility. The team began joining large fuselage sections of the newest 787 Nov. 22 on schedule, according to a Boeing statement.  

The North Charleston, South Carolina, site joins Boeing’s Everett final assembly in Washington state, which began 787-9 production in May 2013. United Airlines will take delivery of the first South Carolina-built 787-9.

(Linda Blachly 0 ATWOnline News)

Avianca looks at 160 narrowbody aircraft order

Avianca Holdings plans to order more than 160 narrowbody aircraft by the end of the year, chairman Germán Efromovich told ATW in Abu Dhabi.
                                                                       
“We have not yet decided which manufacturer to go with,” Efromovich said, adding the decision is between Airbus and Boeing. “This is a delicate process,” he said, confirming the order will be “all together more than 160 narrowbody aircraft.” He said it would be a long-term order for deliveries around 2024. He added, “80% of these aircraft will be for replacement.”

Avianca is expecting to take delivery of the first of 15 Boeing 787-8s next month. “The first 787-8 is sitting in Seattle, waiting for certification and was originally expected in 2010,” he said.

Efromovich said he is also studying the larger variant 787-9 and did not rule out the possibility of swapping out some of the -8s for -9s.

Avianca Holdings has around 75 new aircraft in its current orderbook, which comprises 15 787-8s, 10 Airbus A350s and 50 A320 family aircraft, according to Efromovich.

Avianca Brazil, which was scheduled to launch long-haul flights this year, has postponed flights until “next year,” Efromovich said.

“Brazil is a growing market and there is a demand for long haul. The delay is more comfortable in terms of planning this more safely. There were elections [in Brazil] recently and the dollar is going up.”

Avianca Brazil’s first routes will be Orlando and Miami, Florida. European routes are being planned for later on.

According to Efromovich, Avianca Brazil will start with four Airbus A330s, which will increase as necessary. “In 2018, this could be up to 10 Airbus A350s,” he said.

Efromovich is studying routes to Asia from Latin America, “but not for next year. China or Japan could be some spots we would operate [Boeing] 787s through Los Angeles,” he explained.

As of Sept. 30, Avianca’s fleet comprised 180 aircraft—165 of which are currently operational—including:

58 A320s (27 on operating lease); 36 A319s (17 on operating lease); 12 Embraer E-190s (two on operating lease); 11 ATR-72s; 11 A330s (10 on operating lease); 10 A318s (all on operating lease); 10 Cessna Grand Caravans; nine ATR-42s (five on operating lease); eight A-321s (six on operating lease); five A330 freighters; five Fokker 100s; three Boeing 767 freighters (one on operating lease) and two Fokker 50s.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Frontier Airlines orders A321ceos

Colorado-based Frontier Airlines has placed its first Airbus A321 order, inking a deal for nine of the type to join its all-Airbus fleet.

The order takes Frontier to a backlog of 89 Airbus aircraft, including 80 A320neos. Airbus said the carrier has not yet announced its engine selection or seating configuration for the A321s.

Frontier began its transition to an all-Airbus fleet when it took delivery of its first Airbus aircraft in 2001. The Airbus single-aisle family has allowed the airline to expand its route network while minimizing operating costs.

Frontier Airlines CEO David Siegel said, “We continue to come back for more A320 family aircraft because they fulfill our mission of providing low fares through low operating costs. The A321 is a natural fit with our unique brand of low fares.”

Frontier Airlines currently flies a fleet of 35 A319ceos and 20 A320ceos.

(Victoria Moores  - ATWOnline News)

Rude air passengers fuel holiday frustrations

As millions of travelers take to the sky this week during the year's busiest travel period, hassles and frustration stem not only from airport crowds and inefficient airlines but from rude passengers, who are uninformed — or unconcerned — with in-flight manners, according to recent surveys.

And it's not all about the reclining seat controversy that grabbed so much attention this summer when several flights had to be diverted because of onboard air rage incidents concerning reclining seats invading the personal space of the passenger behind.

Beefs about reclining seats ranked sixth, according to a list of 10 "Flying Faux Pas" by travel app TripIt.

The top gripe was other travelers being rude to airline crew and staff, and to airport security personnel. Undisciplined children who misbehave or disturb others ranked second, followed by seatmates who hog space, and loud-talkers.

This Thanksgiving holiday period, nearly 25 million passengers are expected to travel on U.S. airlines, up 1.5 percent over last year, according to airline industry group Airlines for America.

O'Hare International Airport is expected to be the third-most-traveled airport, after airports in Atlanta and Los Angeles. The busiest travel day during the holiday — and for the year — will be the Sunday after Thanksgiving as many travelers return from holiday visits.

The survey found other air travel offenses were:

•People blocking the baggage claim area.

•People bringing stinky food on the plane.

•Travelers who hog the carry-on bin.

•Those who rush off the plane instead of waiting for passengers in front to exit.

•People who block aisles during a flight.

"Knowing the behaviors that are the biggest turnoffs to travelers can make everyone's experience better during the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday, and year-round," TripIt says.

TripIt conducted the survey in September among 400 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Of course, airlines and airports contribute to hassles too.

In a separate survey by flier-advocacy group Travelers' Voice, passengers said the most frustrating aspect of air travel was the fees — for checked bags, seat assignments and other services that used to be included in the price of an airline ticket.

Flight delays and cancellations came in second, with the overall cost of flying ranking third.

Tops on passengers' wish list was increasing the amount of legroom between airplane seats and the size of the seat itself.

The biggest onboard frustrations, according to the Traveler's Voice survey, stemmed from sitting in front of a young child who frequently kicks and pushes your seatback. Sitting near a crying baby came in second, followed by sitting in the same airplane row as a snoring adult.

That survey was conducted Oct. 16-19.

(Gregory Karp - Chicago Tribune)

A successor to the 777......really?

Boeing needs no introduction. The aerospace giant has been supplying airplanes for both commercial and defense purposes for a very long time. The company's market penetration is by far the largest in its line of business. The company is known for its innovation and its revolutionizing aircrafts.

Recently, though, the company has seemed to put this in question. For a company known to develop the latest and most up-to-date aircraft and related technologies, sticking to supplying the same old model of 777 aircraft after having announced its successor seems strange. This has more to do with the fact that planes that are built today burn less fuel and need less maintenance than their predecessors.

Boeing faces that issue with its 777, a jumbo jet that has become a well-liked staple of global airline fleets over the past 15 years. The 777 sales problem drew a fresh spotlight this week, when Delta Air Lines announced an order for 50 twin-aisle jets from Airbus, split between the A350 and A330neo models, to replace Delta's aged 747 and 767-300 fleets. Boeing's focus on the 777 is understandable.

With a list price of $330 million, the 777-300ER accounts for virtually all of the remaining 777 order book-making it a key component of Boeing's profitability. The Delta deal is driven in no small part by the lower prices and faster delivery speeds Airbus was able to offer the airline.

But the older 777s Boeing pitched for use at Delta's Seattle hub and on its trans-Atlantic routes was a big factor, and Delta's decision underscores the market's lack of interest in a plane that is awaiting replacement.

The Production Gap Issue:

Boeing has promised to bridge the production gap from the old 777 to the 777X, its next-generation replacement, by netting as few as 40 orders per year. The order scenario so far this year is that Boeing has taken 55 orders for the 777, including a deal announced on Thursday to sell 10 to Kuwait Airways.

The new order is worth $3.3 billion at list price, but Kuwait Airways probably negotiated a discount in excess of 50 percent, given both Boeing's need to move 777s and the price breaks manufacturers typically offer customers.

The industry experts feel that the aero-giant can fulfill the gap requirement either by turning out fewer than eight 777s each month or by offering steep discounts to buyers. The current rat of 100 crafts a year has the analysts skeptical about the company's promise.

Available Options:

The company's ground-breaking 787 Dreamliner, which recently clocked over 490,000 hours in service with 21 airline operators since its service entry in November 2011, is another option the company has. The company's fixation with 777 seems pretty irrational when the option of 787 is available.

The analysts feel if the company replaces the production of 777 with 787 for a year, there might be an unbelievable surge in the company's profits. The long-range, midsized, wide-body jet consumes at least 20% lesser fuel compared with similar jets.

With seat capacity ranging between 242 and 323 across the three models -- 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10 -- Boeing claims the plane offers about 10% lower cash seat mile cost. The craze of this plane was such that it attracted a highest bid of $34,000 for a seat in the maiden commercial flight in October 2011.

Now, would someone show the company reason to give up its fixation with the 777? The company badly needs a reality check.

In October 2013, Boeing had lifted its 787 deferred cost projection from $20 billion to $25 billion on account of increased spending to launch the 787-10 and related plans to augment capacity at its factory in North Charleston in 2014 and 2015.

However, in the latest quarter, Boeing reported that the Dreamliner's deferred cost has shot up by $947 million and gone past $25 billion to $25.2 billion. In spite of the ongoing problems, the company's order book remained strong for the quarter.

The pay-out too has been decent. It waits to be seen though, how the company goes about fulfilling its promise. As for the investors, they can always expect good returns from the company.

(GuruFocus)

Southwest Airlines in battle with TWU 555 and ground operations employees

Transport Workers Union Local 555 plans to picket Tuesday at Dallas Love Field by highlighting the fact that Southwest Airlines has more reports of lost or damaged bags than any other U.S. carrier.
It also is taking out a hard-hitting ad in USA Today that attacks Southwest chairman and chief executive officer Gary Kelly, accusing him of putting profit ahead of people and service.

“In our industry, it’s all about the customers,” Local 555 president Charles Cerf said in the union’s notice. “We can’t stand idly by while management makes bad decisions that drive away passengers. If people keep losing bags on Southwest, they’ll vote with their wallets and select other carriers – and that threatens the livelihood of our members.”

While the union doesn’t point it out, Southwest also carries the most passengers of any carrier.
Here are some factoids from U.S. Department of Transportation’s consumer service reports:

– Southwest has carried more passengers than any other U.S. airline since 2005.

– Southwest has received more bag reports – damaged, lost or other unhappy results with passenger bags – than any other U.S. airline every year since 2006. Just about every month, it has more reports than any other carrier.

– Southwest’s position relative to other carriers has gotten worse since 2008 when other airlines began charging for checked bags, causing more of their customers to use carry-on bags rather than checking their luggage.

– Between 1998 and 2010, its rate of bag reports was worse than the industry average only once – in 2001. Since 2011, Southwest’s rate has been worse than the industry average for three of four years.

– Through September, the 2014 rate is 4.27 bag complaints per 1,000 passengers, or 10th out of 14 U.S. carriers. That compares to the 1998-2013 average of 4.10 reports per 1,000 passengers.

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King issued this response:

“Although it’s a common practice, informational picketing does not change the Company’s approach to negotiations. We continue to share the Union’s sense of urgency to secure a fair agreement. Reaching the right deal for both Employees and the Company remains a top priority; and it must be one that is fair to all Employees, enables the Company to grow, and protects our position as a low-cost leader in the industry.
 
“We have a renewed focus and effort on improving baggage delivery and over the past few months, we’ve seen a steady decline in our mishandled baggage rate. In October, we proudly delivered approximately 99.5 percent of our bags correctly and we continue to see improvements.
 
“Regarding the number of bag carried, the packing habits of Southwest passengers haven’t changed. Customers continue to pack the same number of bags since the “Bags Fly Free” campaign was initiated in 2008. What the campaign has done is attract more Customers to Southwest, improving the bottom line. At the same time, the number of bags carried on other airlines has decreased, which improves their overall DOT ranking.
 
“As the number of Southwest Customers increase, we continue to hire in response to that growth. Over the last three years, the annual number of bags handled per Ramp Agent has steadily declined, not increased.”
 
Back to original item:

TWU is taking out an ad in Tuesday’s USA Today with the message “Help me… I’m Lost.” In TWU’s release, Cerf noted that Southwest is operating bigger airplanes — 143-seat and 175-seat Boeing 737s rather than the 122-seat and 137-seat 737s of the past.

“Quite simply, under the leadership of Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines places profit ahead of people and a quality product. The airline now flies larger planes packed with more bags than ever before but doesn’t hire additional baggage handlers and in the past four years, hasn’t provided a raise to half of its ground workers,” its ad says.

While the ad says Southwest was “historically known for rarely losing luggage,” the carrier has ranked in the bottom half – the worse half – of the industry for eight of the past 17 years. It has finished first only once.

“With more suitcases, larger planes, tighter schedules and an overworked ground crew, it is sadly no surprise that we’re losing more bags than anybody else. That means delays for all Southwest customers – even those who don’t check their baggage,” Cerf said.

Contract talks between Southwest and Local 555 started in July 2011. The union had picketed in March 2013 and focused its criticism then on Southwest’s efforts to use more temporary labor during high-demand periods.

Cerf was one of 10 union presidents to sign a June letter in which they criticized the poor morale at the carrier and urged management to reach new contracts with their labor groups.

Below, we have some charts of Southwest’s position relative to the industry.

First, here is Southwest’s ranking on total bag reports (complaints) and on total passengers carried.

YearReportsPassengers
199854
199953
200043
200122
200232
200332
200432
200531
200611
200711
200811
200911
201011
201111
201211
201311
201411

Next, here is Southwest’s rate of bag reports per 1,000 passengers compared to that of all carriers tracked by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

YearSouthwestIndustryDifference
19984.535.20-0.67
19994.225.08-0.86
20005.005.29-0.29
20014.774.550.22
20023.523.84-0.32
20033.354.19-0.84
20043.354.91-1.56
20054.256.04-1.79
20065.346.73-1.39
20075.877.03-1.16
20084.575.26-0.69
20093.433.91-0.48
20103.473.51-0.04
20113.653.390.26
20123.083.09-0.01
20133.723.220.50
20144.273.710.56

(Terry Maxon - Dallas Morning News)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Copa Holdings 3Q net income drops 47.6% on Venezuela capacity cuts

Copa Airlines 737-8V3 (36550/3114) HP-1537CMP arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 25, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Copa Holdings, parent company of Panama-based Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia, reported third-quarter net income of $66 million, down 47.6% year-over-year, compared to the company’s $126 million net in the year-ago September quarter.

Total revenue for the quarter was $663.7 million, down 2% year-over-year as expenses came to $552.6 million, up 4.3%; the company’s operating income totaled %111.1 million, down 24.7% year-over-year from $147.5 million in the third quarter of 2013.

Third-quarter yield fell 7.7% year-over-year to 15.9 cents as RASM dropped 9.9% to 12.5 cents though CASM improved to 10.4 cents (falling 4.1% year-over-year). CASM excluding-fuel was also down, dropping 5.7% year-over-year to 6.4 cents. Copa’s third-quarter fuel expenses were $212.6 million, up 7.3% year-over-year (a result of a 7.2% increase in gallons consumed during the quarter, Copa said).

Copa said the quarter’s lower passenger revenue yields were driven largely by the carrier’s 50% reduction of capacity in Venezuela, as well as the stipulation that ticket sales in Venezuela must be sold in bolivars, as opposed to US dollars.

As of Sept. 30, Copa Holdings reportedly has $520.7 million in funds subject to exchange controls in Venezuela still pending repatriation.

Consolidated traffic during the third-quarter was up 6.3% year-over-year to 4.04 billion RPMs on an 8.7% capacity increase to 5.3 billion ASMs, resulting in a quarterly passenger load factor of 76.3%, down 1.8 points year-over-year. Copa’s consolidated passengers-carried during the third-quarter was 1.9 million, down 3.5% from the year-ago quarter.

In a Nov. 20 quarterly results conference call with analysts, Copa announced its intention to launch Copa’s own customer loyalty program in July 2015. Until then, United MileagePlus will continue as the company’s frequent flyer program. Additional details about Copa’s new loyalty program will come in March 2015.

Copa Airlines [Panama] took delivery of three Boeing 737-800s during the quarter, bringing Copa Holdings’ consolidated fleet, as of Sept. 30, to 96 aircraft.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News) 

Emirates first A380 completes first 3C check

Emirates A380-861 (c/n 011) A6-EDA arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) as "UAE7223 Super" on August 5, 2008 as it operates a demonstration flight to the airport.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Emirates Engineering has completed a 3C check, the largest maintenance check on any aircraft, on the first A380 delivered to Emirates Airline. The Dubai-based carrier received the A380 (registration EDA-Echo Delta Alpha) in June 2008.

Emirates said in a statement the major overhaul has restored the carrier’s first A380 to near pristine condition. In a round-the-clock operation, which took 55 days, two teams of highly specialized engineers stripped the entire interior of the double-decker aircraft to the bare metal hull, inspected and overhauled every single part, and then reassembled the components.

“The entire check is meticulously planned with no room for delays. Grounding an aircraft for such a long time is a tremendous expense,” Emirates VP-base engineering Colin Disspain said.

“Here in Dubai we operate aircraft under some of the world’s toughest conditions, including soaring temperatures and a sandy environment. This requires Emirates to increase maintenance standards to this specific situation. For example, parts often need to be exchanged instead of just cleaned in order to achieve our high level of quality and precision,” Disspain said.

Echo Delta Alpha had flown 20 million km, the equivalent of almost 27 return trips to the moon. It has completed more than 3,000 takeoffs and landings, carrying over 1.2 million passengers. The check was completed with a rigorous test flight before being put back into regular service.

Emirates operates a fleet of 232 aircraft, including 55 A380s—the world’s biggest fleet of the type. To date, Emirates’ A380 fleet has carried 27.5 million revenue passengers, made over 68,800 trips and covered more than 405 million km.

Its Dubai-Los Angeles route is the world’s longest commercial A380 flight in operation, and its Dubai-Kuwait route is the world’s shortest.

By the end of this year, the number of destinations served by an Emirates A380 will increase to 33, with the addition of San Francisco service from Dec. 1 and Houston service from Dec. 3.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOline News)

Air China, Air New Zealand to form alliance

Air China 777-39L (38671/1032) B-2032 departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on February 12/2013 sporting the carriers "Star Alliance" livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Air China and Air Zealand announced they have signed a statement of intent that will pave the way for a strategic alliance on services between China and New Zealand.

The proposed alliance between the two national flag carriers and Star Alliance partners would see Air China operate a new direct Beijing-Auckland service in addition to Air New Zealand’s existing Shanghai-Auckland service. The alliance remains subject to regulatory approval.

An alliance between the carriers would bring better network connections in both China and New Zealand and increased frequency of flights.

Air China CEO Song Zhiyong said alliances and partnerships are an important way to expand its international network. “In the past three years, we have witnessed double-digit annual growth in the number of Chinese outbound tourists.

New Zealand is one of the most important markets for outbound travel from China and Air China is confident about the promising future of this market, particularly considering the airline's close ties with Air New Zealand, an innovative airline full of vitality and dynamism.”

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said a deeper bilateral agreement between the two airlines would help facilitate both business and tourism links between the two countries.

“China is New Zealand’s second largest inbound visitor market and we expect interest in visiting New Zealand to continue to grow amongst Chinese travelers. However, China remains a challenging market for us to operate to. Working with a strong, well-respected home market carrier like Air China would give us a huge opportunity to convert this potential growth, while jointly offering the additional capacity to support it.”

The airlines will continue discussions and hope to reach an agreement early next year that can be filed for regulatory approval.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

ANA seeks clearance for cargo JV with United Airlines

All Nippon Airways (ANA Cargo) 767-381F (33509/937) JA602F climbs from Rwy 7R at Anchorage-Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC/PANC) on September 27, 2007.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) is seeking permission to form a transpacific cargo joint venture (JV) with its Star Alliance partner United Airlines.

ANA filed its antitrust application to the Japanese transport ministry MLIT on Friday, with the aim of creating “a more efficient and comprehensive” transpacific cargo network.

In a stock market disclosure, ANA said the two carriers are looking to “jointly manage transpacific air cargo business activities including scheduling, pricing and sales.”

It said the JV, which needs Japanese and US clearance, would be the first of its kind between the US and Asia, delivering “substantial service benefits,” greater choice and enabling the partners to compete more effectively with other airlines.

“United Airlines and ANA are members of Star Alliance, and this cargo joint venture will expand the relationship they have established on passenger service to the area of cargo service to further increase customer benefits,” ANA said.

The Japanese carrier already has passenger joint ventures in place with United Airlines (transpacific), Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines (Japan-Europe).

The move forms part of ANA’s cargo expansion. It recently created a new ANA Cargo business unit to manage its freight activities and fleet of 10 Boeing 767 freighters, which operate from its Okinawa cargo hub.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Chinese Aerospace Still Behind in Fulfilling Big Ambitions

China's Comac group has yet to complete certification of the delayed ARJ21 regional airliner even as it struggles to overcome delays on its larger C919 program.
(Photo by Guillaume Lecompte-Boinet)

The recent "Airshow China" in Zhuhai left visitors with little doubt about the scope of China’s ambitions in the aerospace sector. In addition to the three new airliners under development by the country’s state-controlled airframers—the C919 narrow-body, and ARJ21 and MA700 regional airliners—multiple programs for new general aviation aircraft and helicopters have gotten underway.

China’s leading OEM, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), projected a high profile at the show, but once again seemed unwilling to provide clear updates on the timelines for several of its delayed programs.

“China wants to re-create Airbus’s success against Boeing,” commented Jean-Luc Doublet, vice president of the Chinese subsidiary of aerospace group Safran. It serves as a major partner in the C919 (providing engines and electrical power), which carries a shipset value of approximately $14 million.
 
Nonetheless, the C919 has fallen some two years behind schedule, and Comac now projects a first flight towards the end of 2015. But the programs major partners have indicated that a more realistic target would be the first half of 2016, followed by service entry in 2018. “It is normal for there to be delays but we are confident,” said Jacques Salvat, director of customer support in China for Zodiac Aerospace. The French manufacturer provides systems such as oxygen and water distribution.
 
According to Comac, it intends to achieve a production rate of between 50 to 150 aircraft per year for the C919, which it views as a rival to Boeing’s new 737 Max and the Airbus A320neo.
 
One of the key questions for the C919 centers on how it will achieve certification. Effectively, the Chinese have used the smaller ARJ21 to prepare the path, but that program is already running six years late. Comac still insists it can achieve initial certification of the regional jet by the end of 2014 and achieve service entry with China’s Chengdu Airlines early in 2015.
 
“The C919 is the airplane for [Comac] to conquer the Chinese market [now dominated by Western-built airliners], and the ARJ21 is the aircraft being used to prepare for this conquest,” commented Nicolas Bonleux, sales director with Liebherr Aerospace, which serves as a supplier to both programs.
 
In the twin turboprop sector, the 90-seat MA700—a larger derivative of the existing MA600 modelalso is running late. Its developers now project service entry no earlier than 2019, some two years later than the initial 2017 target. Nonetheless, Western companies carry a vested interest in that program too.
 
During Airshow China, X’ian Aircraft Industrial Corporation (part of the Avic group) gave Safran subsidiary Labinal Power Systems a contract to provide the MA700’s main and auxiliary electrical generation systems. Also at the show, Safran and Avic announced the creation of a 50:50 joint venture to develop new turboprop technology.
 
In Zhuhai, the Chinese also shed some light on a planned wide-body airliner development, provisionally dubbed the C929. Comac would develop the airplane through a joint venture with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
 
Early specifications include a maximum takeoff weight of between 250 and 300 metric tons (550,000 to 660,000 pounds) and plans call for three versions carrying between 280 and 350 passengers with a range of up to 6,500 nm. Approximately 50 percent of the airframe would consists of composite materials.
 
The discussions and assessments of the business case, industrial potential, technology transfer, et cetera, are ongoing at this point,” UAC chief executive Mikhail Pogosyan told journalists during Airshow China, but how the partners would structure the joint venture remains a big question. “I don't think the Russia-China alliance will work in the long run,” said an executive with a Western supplier, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
In his view, the Russian industry cannot offer its prospective partner enough in the way of production efficiency. Nonetheless, in theory, the partners would base the joint venture in China, leaving UAC responsible for the design and production of the wings and Comac and Avic the fuselage in Shanghai, where the C919 now undergoes assembly.
 
A Western company would provide the C929’s 80,000-pound-thrust engines. During a presentation in Zhuhai, Comac indicated that it can produce approximately 1,000 C929s and achieve a first flight in 2021 ahead of certification in 2025.
 
(Guillaume Lecompte-Boinet - AINOnline News)

Airbus wins Delta Air Lines order by default it seems

(Airbus)

Boeing attributes the loss of a 50-aircraft Delta Air Lines order announced on 20 November to a lack of available delivery slots.

“Boeing competed for the order with the 787-9, but we did not have enough 787 positions available in the timeframe that met Delta’s requirement,” Boeing says in a statement.

Delta instead ordered 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 A330-900s, with deliveries beginning in 2017 for the former and 2019 for the latter.

The Flightglobal Ascend fleet database shows 132 overall 787 delivery positions claimed in 2017, leaving only 12 available production slots at planned production rates.

The same database anticipates 113 deliveries of the A350-900 in 2017.

Airbus announced the signing of the deal as a “massive endorsement” for the company’s widebody portfolio, offering two aircraft types in the same class optimised for different roles.

(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News)

Azul reveals more international flight details

Brazil’s Azul has unveiled more details of its product on its new international flights, which begin on 1 December to the USA.
 
The airline will begin service from Viracopos-Campinas to Fort Lauderdale from 1 December and Orlando from 15 December with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Azul will initially offer 272 seats on its A330-200, comprising 24 seats in a “business light” cabin with a 2-2-2 configuration and 248 in economy in a 2-4-2 layout. This configuration is set to change next year, however.

The airline has said previously it plans to reconfigure the A330s from March 2015, after the peak travel season tapers off.

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(Azul)

The airline will offer a full-service product on its international flights, with meals and amenity kits in both business and economy class. Passengers will also get access to snack bars through the flights, and in-flight entertainment in the form of movies and music.

Azul will eventually operate seven A330-200s and five A350-900s on its international flights. It has so far received three of the A330s.

The airline told Flightglobal previously that when reconfigured, five of the seven A330s will have a high density layout of 271 seats while the remaining will have 242 seats.

(Ghim-Lay Yeo - FlightGlobal News)