Friday, November 21, 2014

Long Beach Airport welcomes new Director Bryant L. Francis

Photo of Bryant L. Francis
City Manager Pat West today named Bryant L. Francis, C.M., an aviation expert with over 18 years of industry experience, as Director of Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB). Mr. Francis' appointment will be effective January 5, 2015.

"Mr. Francis is a dedicated, accomplished professional who will provide strong leadership and strategic planning for Long Beach Airport," Mr. West said. “He will reach out and work collaboratively with all stakeholders, including the community, tenants and our commercial and general aviation partners.”

Mr. Francis has served as Director of Airports for the Shreveport Airport Authority in Louisiana since 2012. Previously he was Deputy Director, Properties & Business Development of the Boise Airport in Idaho; Director, Aviation Real Estate for the Wayne County Airport Authority in Detroit, Michigan; Deputy Director of Aviation – Marketing, Communications and Air Service Development for Palm Springs International Airport in California; and Airport Operations Representative for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I am passionate about aviation, am committed to fostering positive relationships, and will ensure that Long Beach Airport provides the absolute best service possible to its travelers and to all our business and community partners,” commented Mr. Francis.

Mr. Francis’ responsibilities will include oversight of all airport operations, finances and leases, the Airport Noise Ordinance, community outreach, environmental matters and capital improvements.

LGB has won numerous awards, and the Long Beach Airport Area Complex is a major economic development resource, supporting 43,000 jobs and generating more than $11 billion into the regional economy.

Mr. Francis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and is a Certified Member (C.M.) of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).  He is currently a member of the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) Board of Directors as well as Chair of the AAAE Diversity Committee.

Mr. Francis is replacing Mario Rodriguez, who resigned as Director in May 2014 to accept a position as Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

(Long Beach Airport Press Release)

Long Beach Airport wins Helen Putnam Award

On Tuesday, November 18, the Long Beach City Council was presented with the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence in Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation by the League of California Cities for the new concourse at Long Beach Airport, which provides a unique and innovative space for travelers and serves as an ideal gateway to the City.

"Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the City, the community, and airport tenants, Long Beach Airport is known internationally as an outstanding airport," said Mayor Robert Garcia. “With the receipt of the Helen Putnam award, our Airport is now an even greater source of pride for our City.

”The concourse blends LGB's rich history with a contemporary sensibility and maintains its reputation as the beloved hometown airport. Designed to sustain LGB’s convenience, new features include a consolidated security screening area, spacious boarding lounges, and an expanded food and beverage program with favorite local restaurants.

Councilwoman Stacy Mungo accepted the award on behalf of the City in September at the League of California Cities Annual Conference. “I am proud of Long Beach and our airport team for earning this prestigious award.

The modernization of Long Beach Airport is an example of what local government can accomplish when the community and City work together,” Councilwoman Mungo said. “I hope every resident will consider Long Beach for the travel and share their experience and impressions of our fresh, functional terminal with their friends and neighbors."

The concourse features a resort-like atmosphere that allows travelers the ability to relax in an open atrium, or enjoy spacious seating areas flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer expansive views of the airfield and spectacular sunsets.

"The new concourse provides a roomier, more secured area for TSA inspectors to perform pre-boarding inspections while continuing to offer ease of use by the traveling public,” said Reginald Harrison, Acting Airport Director.

Modern conveniences include an iPad tablet bar where people can check email or order food to be delivered to their seat, USB plug-ins and electrical outlets conveniently placed among the seating areas to recharge electronic devices, and free Wi-Fi throughout the airport. The League of California Cities noted LGB’s ease of use, while accommodating nearly 3 million annual passengers.

About Long Beach Airport

Long Beach Airport (LGB), located in Long Beach, CA, was founded in 1923, making it the oldest municipally owned airport in California. Throughout its 91-year history, LGB has been a source of substantial economic activity and business opportunities, as well as a leader in maintaining a sustainable, environmentally responsible operation.

LGB hosts four airlines offering non-stop service to several U.S. cities and serving nearly 3 million commercial airline passengers annually while supporting a healthy general aviation community with approximately 300,000 annual operations. For more news, pictures, videos and announcements of what's happening, "Like" us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @LBAirport.

About the Helen Putnam Award

Established in 1982 by the League of California Cities, the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by California's 482 cities. These winning cities have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, contributions which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services.

(Long Beach Airport Press Release)

U.S. Navy F/A-18E "Super Hornet" 166789

U.S. Navy F/A-18E "Super Hornet" (c/n E135) 166789 of the VX-9 "Vampires" arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) just before sunset this evening.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 N708SW

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 (27842/2) N708SW is captured at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) sporting the carriers new livery.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

U.S. Marine Corp AH-12 "Viper"

U.S. Marine Corp. Bell AH-12 "Viper" (449) 168000 QT 612 HMLAT-303  performing touch and go's at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) this morning on Rwy 20L.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The problem with the Boeing 777, everyone wants one!

New airplane technology almost always trumps the old. The planes that are built today burn less fuel and need less maintenance than their predecessors. If you manufacture airplanes, however, this truism presents a tricky problem: How do you keep selling an older model after you announce its successor (PDF) as the latest and greatest thing to ever have reached the skies?

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.

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 good news is that the 777-300ER has had really strong pricing, so that gives you some cushion” for discounting, says Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia. “The bad news is: I have no idea where any demand would come from.”

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 were a big factor, and Delta’s decision underscores the market’s lack of interest in a plane that is awaiting replacement. “It’s just reached the end of its life,” says Scott Hamilton, editor of the aviation website Leeham News and Comment. “Why would you buy an airplane that you might take delivery of in 2017 or 2018 or 2019 when you have the brand-new model coming in 2020?”

Boeing says it can bridge the production gap from the old 777 to the 777X, its next-generation replacement, by netting as few as 40 orders per year. So far this year 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. In July, All Nippon Airways finalized an order for six of the older planes.

Boeing clearly believes it can meet its goal. “We expect demand for the 777 to remain healthy through the end of this decade,” Boeing Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said last month during an earnings call.

There are two likely ways Boeing could try to fill the interval until the new aircraft arrives: turn out fewer than eight 777s each month and offer steep discounts to buyers. The company vows to continue the current pace of making 100 777s per year, although many observers are skeptical. “There is nobody in the marketplace that I have talked to who believes that posture and frankly, if you talk privately to anybody inside Boeing,” says Hamilton, “they don’t believe it either.”

Discounting, on the other hand, is almost certainly on the table for the 777 sales team. The big question is whether Boeing will be able to cobble together enough small orders, even with strategic price cuts, to keep the 777 viable for an additional five years.

(Justin Bachman - BloombergBusinessWeek)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gulfstream delivers the 100th G650

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6100) N650AB captured at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on November 20, 2014.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced that it has manufactured the 100th G650. The ultra-long-range business jet was delivered to a customer on Nov. 14, 2014. 
“The production of the 100th G650 is a testament to the demand for this amazing aircraft,” said Larry Flynn, president, Gulfstream. “It truly set a new world standard for performance, range, speed, safety and comfort when it entered into service in December 2012. The completion of the 100th aircraft also speaks volumes about the skilled employees who build these planes.”

The G650 was announced on March 13, 2008, and took its first flight on November 25, 2009. The aircraft was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration on September 7, 2012, and by the European Aviation Safety Agency on December 21, 2012.

The aircraft can fly near the speed of sound, with a maximum speed of Mach 0.925. It has a range of 6,000 nautical miles/11,112 kilometers at Mach 0.90 or 7,000 nm/12,964 km at Mach 0.85. It can connect passengers nonstop from London to Los Angeles and Beijing to New York.

(Gulfstream Aerospace)

“Since it entered service, the G650 has proven it is a performance leader,” said Scott Neal, senior vice president, Worldwide Sales and Marketing, Gulfstream.

“The G650 has claimed 42 speed records and secured an around-the-world speed record. It’s more fuel-efficient than many other aircraft, offers customers one of the most comfortable cabin experiences and is equipped with industry-leading safety features.”

The G650 has the largest business-jet cabin and provides passengers with wider seats, more aisle room and the ability to control the cabin entertainment, temperature and lighting with a smart device, such as an iPhone® or iPod®.

The large windows, quiet cabin and low cabin altitude improve comfort and reduce fatigue. Passengers have the ability to work, connect to the Internet or relax before arriving at their destination.

The G650 features the PlaneView II cockpit, which includes standard state-of-the-art Enhanced Vision System (EVS) II and the Gulfstream Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD). EVS provides pilots with real-time images of the aircraft’s surroundings and greatly improves situational awareness in low-visibility conditions.

In zero-visibility conditions, pilots can rely on SV-PFD to understand the position of the aircraft in relation to the runway, terrain or obstacles. Gulfstream was the first to implement these safety technologies in business jets.
The G650 is certified in 12 countries and has more than 33,500 flight hours.

Gulfstream recently delivered the first fully outfitted G650ER to a customer. It shares the same cabin, avionics and systems as its sister ship, the G650.

The G650ER travels farther at faster speeds than any other business jet on the market. At Mach 0.85, it can carry passengers 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers, and at Mach 0.90, 6,400 nm/11,853 km.

Current G650 owners and order-holders can upgrade their G650 to a G650ER.

(Gulfstream Aerospace)

Boeing continues ecoDemonstrator flights with 787-8

Boeing 787-8 (40693/4) N7874 captured at Victorville- Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) on June 16, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Boeing has launched the latest round of ecoDemonstrator testing using a 787-8 flight test aircraft loaded with 25 new technologies.

The aircraft, with serial number ZA004, completed first test flight on 17 November.

It carries new software developed under NASA’s airborne spacing for terminal arrival routes programme. The wings are layered with new icephobic coatings. The flight test instrumentation is connected wirelessly to save weight.

Instrument landing systems are loaded with new “Type D” protocols for airports equipped with a ground-based augmentation system to smooth landings, especially in poor weather. The outer wing panels also are using new access doors made from composite material recycled from the 787 production system.

"The ecoDemonstrator is focused on technologies that can improve airlines' gate-to-gate efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise," says Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Ray Conner.

The same 787-8 completed a previous round of flight tests as the ecoDemonstrator on an oxide-oxide ceramic matrix composite exhaust nozzle. The results of those tests, which focused on reducing weight and noise, are still being evaluated, Boeing says.

Boeing plans to return ZA004 to the 787 flight test programme early next year. A 757 will then become the next ecoDemonstrator aircraft.

Boeing launched the ecoDemonstrator programme in 2011 using a 737-800 loaned from American Airlines.

It has tested a wide variety of new technologies, including the advanced technology winglet that will be introduced with the 737 Max.

The ecoDemonstrator also has evaluated new technology that has yet to enter a development programme, such as an adaptive trailing edge panel on a wing and a variable area fan nozzle for the engines.

(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News)

No long range plans for 737-9 MAX

Boeing Co has no plans to extend the range of its forthcoming 737 MAX 9 jetliner in response to Airbus Group's move to offer a long-range version of its competing A321 aircraft, a senior Boeing executive said on Thursday.

"We are very happy with where the MAX 9 sits and feel the competition is simply doing things to catch up with it," Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in an interview.
Last month, Airbus said it would add fuel tanks to the A321neo to increase its range, targeting a market niche left open by the out-of-production Boeing 757. Airbus said the plane's range would be about 100 nautical miles more than that of the 757-200W.

The market for these single-aisle aircraft is crucial for both companies, as it will account for nearly 70 percent of new aircraft deliveries worth some $2.5 trillion over the next 20 years, according to Boeing's estimates.

Airbus recently said demand for the larger A321 model is prompting it to start its production on U.S. soil with that model instead of the A320 as originally planned.

Some airlines have been "upgauging" to larger jets to lower per-seat costs. The 321 seats about 185 passengers in a two-class configuration, compared with 150 for the A320.

Boeing said it sees the single-aisle market centered around planes with 160 seats in a two-class configuration, about the size of the 737 MAX 8. The larger MAX 9 carries about 180 passengers in two classes.

Tinseth said Boeing can already put an additional fuel tank on the 737 MAX 9. But the company does not see a business case in making an extended-range version of the plane.

"Anything that you look at in that market segment to increase the range of that airplane, I think it would come with small returns," he said.

Boeing's chief executive officer, Jim McNerney, said earlier this month that the company would bring out a 737 MAX replacement around 2030, with a new fuselage, wings and engines. That plane will also address the gap left by the 757.

(Alwyn Scott - Reuters)

Southwest Airlines pokes jab at Jetblues new bag check fees

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 (32533/2294) N280WN "Penguin One" rolls for takeoff on Rwy 19R at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on September 7, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)  

Southwest Airlines in a blog Wednesday touted its new status as the only domestic carrier not to charge a fee for checked baggage, after JetBlue Airways said it would begin charging.

Southwest carries more passengers from Chicago than any other airline.

Did you hear the news today? Feeling a bit blue, perhaps, at the thought of yet another bag fee out there?" wrote Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Bob Jordan.

"Don't fear — Southwest Airlines has your back, and your bag — and you can take great comfort in knowing that bags fly free for all at! Today, we stand alone as the only domestic airline that can say that."

JetBlue Airways announced Wednesday that it will charge certain customers for their first checked bag, yielding to pressure from analysts who criticized the airline for not adding fees in step with other carriers.

At a presentation to investors Wednesday, JetBlue discussed its three new fare families, including a discount class that does not come with a free checked bag. The airline estimates this will reap about $65 million in 2015 and about $200 million total within several years.

The New York-based airline also said it will add more seats to its fleet of Airbus A320 planes while maintaining leg room for passengers.

Jordan wrote that Southwest doesn't charge for the first two checked bags because "our customers hate those fees. For us, we think it's pretty logical that if you're going on a trip, you just might want to pack some clothes in a bag to take along with you."

(Gregory Karp - Chicago Tribune)

Oslo Airport to become worlds first hub airport to have regular supply of biofuel

A trio of European airlines has signed an agreement for a regular supply of biofuel at Oslo Airport, which will next year become the world’s first hub airport to receive regular deliveries of biofuel.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Germany’s Lufthansa Group (which includes Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Oslo Airport operator Avinor have all signed agreements with Statoil Aviation to supply 2.5 million liters of biofuel over a 12-month period to the refueling facility at Oslo Airport.

Consisting of a 50% biofuel mix, this equates to around 3,000 flights between Oslo and Bergen and makes Oslo the first major airport in the world to offer a regular supply of biofuel as part of daily operations from March 2015. It is also the first time that sustainable biojet fuel will be used in the airport’s hydrant system.

SAS and budget carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle last week conducted the first biofuel flights in Norway, operating scheduled flights to Oslo from Trondheim and Bergen, respectively, with a 48% mix of biofuel.
SAS said it has reduced its total CO2 emissions by around 13% since 2005, and said it is the only airline in Scandinavia with an all-next-generation jet aircraft fleet. From next year, the airline will begin rolling out even more energy efficient short- and long-haul aircraft, namely the Airbus A330 Enhanced and A320neo, followed by the A350.

SAS said it aimed to use synthetic fuel on an increasingly regular basis in the next few years, and expected biofuel to become competitive with the fossil fuel alternative. For this to happen, the airline said, “a general environment and tax policy will be required from governments, based on aviation being a form of internationally competitive public transport with thin profit margins.”

While initial biofuel deliveries at Oslo will probably come from used cooking oil, major players in the Norwegian power and forestry industries are now exploring the possibility of forest-based large-scale production of biofuel for aviation in the course of a few short years.

Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen said: “It’s not out of the question that we in Norway could achieve large-scale production of sustainable aviation biofuel at a competitive price in 2020.”

There are currently two industrial Norwegian initiatives for production of biofuel and both are looking into the possibility of producing both bio-diesel, for the heavy transport sector, and bio-jet fuel for aviation. It is anticipated that a single biofuel plant would be able to produce enough biojet fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Norwegian aviation by 10%-15%.

Not only could biofuel production reduce Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it could also increase value creation from the country’s forests.  This would, Avinor pointed out, be an “important step towards a sustainable industry in Norway and a shift towards the renewable zero discharge society.”

Marius Holm, head of the environmental foundation ZERO, said: “This is a good start towards developing a market for aviation bio-fuel. The fact that Avinor is contributing to making Oslo Airport the first hub in the world where all airlines have the opportunity to use bio-fuel illustrates that a green change is possible.

At the same time, it's important that the authorities step up with policy instruments that promote greater use of biofuel in aviation.”

(Anne Paylor - ATWOnline News)

American Airlines and its pilots continue to battle over new contract

American Airlines Boeing 777-223(ER) (29578/185) N770AN departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 11, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

American Airlines and its pilots, represented by the Allied Pilots Association (APA), remain locked in talks over a new contract proposed by management last week and a union counterproposal, with each side claiming that its version is in the pilots’ best interest.
Management’s original proposal included a scope rule change that would have added five seats to 70-seat regional jets, but that has been dropped.  American and the union remain in talks on other issues with the contract, including duty days, but the main sticking point is on compensation. 

The proposed contract does away with profit sharing, which CEO Doug Parker has gone on the record as saying is an “inefficient” way to pay airline employees. Instead, management is offering what it says is an 18% pay increase over Delta Air Lines’ pilot compensation—the standard by which both APA and American are measuring pilot pay—plus a 3% annual raise through 2019, a person familiar with the talks said. 

The union disputes these figures. Instead, APA said the 18% premium applies only to one band of pilots, while in fact for 60% of its members—Boeing 737-800 captains—the absence of profit sharing makes the pay premium over Delta only 1%.

Hourly compensation proposed by American management is higher than that for Delta pilots, but without profit sharing American’s pilots would be paid less than Delta’s, APA president Keith Wilson said in a message to union members. For this year, APA estimates Delta’s profit sharing for pilots to be 15% over base pay, Wilson said.

In lieu of profit sharing, APA has countered with a 10% premium over Delta pilot pay. Talks on this point are continuing this week. “The good news is, we’re talking,” an APA spokesman said.

Unlike traditional labor talks regulated by the National Mediation Board and the Railway Labor Act, the contracts currently being negotiated are part of the continuing effort to create a joint collective bargaining agreement to merge the American and US Airways contracts.

The two sides had set a Nov. 15 deadline for the deal to go to binding arbitration if an agreement could not be reached, but the deadline has slipped as management and union talks continue.

If the two sides cannot reach a deal this week, the matter goes to binding arbitration, the terms of which were set out a memorandum of understanding (MOU) before the merger was finalized last year.

Any contract that emerges from arbitration is expected to be cost-neutral, according to the terms of the MOU, which means pilot compensation will be roughly an average of Delta and United Airlines pilot pay.

However, the union warns there will be a cost in goodwill if the contract goes to arbitration.

“There will be a cost to the culture we have tried so hard to foster by going to arbitration,” the APA spokesman said.

The contract talks with the pilots are the latest labor travail to beset American. Last week, Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) members narrowly rejected the contract proposal hammered out by management and APFA leadership. That contract now goes to binding arbitration, expected to begin next month.

Parker, then CEO of US Airways, made engaging American’s labor groups a hallmark of his team’s merger proposal in 2012, and the unions’ involvement in merger negotiations are thought to have eased the deal’s approval.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - ATWONline News)

The FAA issues airworthiness directive for 777 operators

China Cargo Airlines Boeing 777-F6N (37714/869) B-2078 captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 19, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

A new airworthiness directive issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration requires Boeing 777 operators to inspect and potentially replace the aircraft's dual pitch rate sensors (PRS).

The directive, which applies to 777-200LRs, -300s, -300ERs and 777 freighters, comes in response to reports received by the agency of dual failures of the sensors.

When both sensors fail, the aircraft's primary flight computer transitions from primary to secondary mode, which causes the autopilot to disengage, says the directive, made public by the US Office of the Federal Register on 19 November.

"We are issuing this AD to prevent a dual PRS failure that could cause an automatic disengagement of the autopilot and autoland," says the DOT's directive.

Losing both autopilot and autoland can be dangerous, particularly if it "occurs at low altitude and the flight crew is unable to safely assume control and execute a go-around or manual landing", adds the document.

The directive will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow and becomes effective 35 days later. It will require US operators to inspect, within 60 months, all four PRS on their 777s to determine the sensors' part number. Then, prior to further flight, operators must replace any PRS with part number 402875-05-01, says the directive.

DOT estimates airlines will spend $170 to inspect each aircraft and $340 to swap parts.

The new requirements come roughly 16 months after a Boeing 777 operated by Asiana crash in San Francisco after the pilots failed to understand complexities of the autopilot systems.

The National Transportation Safety Board pegged crew failures as the ultimate cause, but added that the pilot falsely assumed that the autothrottle was maintaining speed.

The aircraft's speed deteriorated when the autothrottle transitioned to "hold" mode while the flight computer was in "flight-level change mode", a configuration under which the autothrottle does not maintain speed.

(Jon Hemmerdinger - FlightGlobal News)

Norwegian CEO blasts U.S. opponents

Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjørn Kjos told a Washington DC audience Thursday that Irish labor laws played no role in the decision to base long-haul subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) in Ireland.

“It has nothing to do with labor costs,” Kjos told the International Aviation Club. “I didn’t even look at the labor laws in Ireland when I was setting up [NAI].”

Veering away from his prepared text, Kjos gave a spirited and free-wheeling defense of NAI’s application to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign carrier permit to serve the US from the European Union. The application has been pending since February and faces opposition from US airline unions and US and European mainline carriers. Kjos said NAI will offer Americans low fares on transatlantic flights, bring Asian tourists to the US and create jobs in the US.

“You shouldn’t be fighting [NAI],” Kjos said. “We are providing low fares to Americans and we fly [US manufactured Boeing 787] Dreamliners.”

He said Norwegian would continue to aggressively push for DOT to approve NAI’s application. “We know how to fight back against slanderous campaigns,” Kjos said, adding that “it costs us a fortune for every day we don’t get approval.”

He said DOT is going against US economic interests by not approving NAI’s application. Once NAI gains regulatory clearance, it will “need many more [Boeing] aircraft and hire more crews at [New York] JFK. We will need to set up crew bases in Los Angeles.”

Kjos pushed back hard against claims that NAI would be unsafe, saying Norwegian 787 pilots average 13,000 hours of flight time. “We have probably the most experienced crew in the world,” he said. “Are they unsafe?” He added that “Irish [safety] inspectors are very skilled inspectors” and follow all European Union (EU) flight safety regulations.

Kjos reiterated that NAI is based in Ireland because Norway is too isolated to serve as the base for a global long-haul network. “I can’t run an operation with 787s from Oslo,” he said. “That is why I need an EU license. We need a foothold in the EU. I need access to all the cities in Europe. [With an EU base], I can fly Americans cheap to China, to Singapore, to Africa. I can fly Asians to the United States.”

Kjos said US pilots “have nothing to fear” from NAI and US airlines shouldn’t shy away from competition on transatlantic routes. “Competition is the brand-mark of the US,” he said. “That’s why you’re the best nation in the world. So start competing, I say to everyone trying to stop us.”

He added, “I promise you one thing: We will give you low fares across the Atlantic. Right now [the transatlantic market] is dominated by the three alliances. And guess who is trying to stop us.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Cathay Pacific Airways to stay with full-service long-haul model

Cathay Pacific Airways Boeing 777-367(ER) (36161/818) B-KPL departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 20, 2012 sporting the carriers "OneWorld" livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Cathay Pacific Airways doubts the low-cost, long-haul business model is sustainable over the long term and does not intend to change its full-service model to compete with the proliferation of LCCs in the Asian market.
Cathay Pacific COO Rupert Hogg spoke about evolving airline strategies in the Asian market as a panelist at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) 58th Assembly of Presidents in Tokyo Wednesday.

In August, Cathay has reported a first-half net profit of HK$347 million ($45 million), up dramatically from a net income of HK$24 million in the year-ago period. The Hong Kong-based carrier said the much-improved results were due to the robust growth of passenger demand, especially on long-haul routes.

Hogg noted Wednesday that it was really no longer valid to talk in terms of LCCs because there was so much blending of services, with many so-called LCCs in Asia now providing long-haul services on widebody aircraft with two cabins. This makes them different from how LCCs developed in Europe and North America, he said.

In other differences, he said that Asian LCCs are not creating new markets, as European LCCs like Ryanair and easyJet did. “In this area, there are no LCC routes that were not already served by full-service airlines,” Hogg said.

Where there are differences, especially on long-haul routes, is that full-service carriers typically offer higher frequencies between key city pairs.

“We will continue to serve Singapore nine or 10 times a day with widebody aircraft. We won’t change our model,” Hogg said. “The demand is there but it’s how are you going to accommodate it.

We are not convinced that in the long term the [LCC] model is right for us. We will keep working on making sure our model is right; that’s what works for us.”

(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)

British Airways and UK Met Office join forces for volcanic ash monitoring project

British Airways Boeing 747-436 (25406/895) G-BNLU seen at Victorville-Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) on November 8, 2014.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

British Airways (BA) has started a year-long volcanic ash monitoring project in partnership with the UK Met Office and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

A prototype of the ZEUS ash detection device, developed by the Met Office and NERC, has been fitted on a BA Boeing 747 and will monitor small amounts of ash in the atmosphere. This will then be matched up with flight data—including weather conditions, speed, altitude and location—to build up a picture of volcanic ash distribution. 

The first raft of data, collected from a flight between London and Johannesburg, has already been sent to the Met Office for analysis. “ZEUS has the potential to provide a clearer picture of ash distribution and could be used to inform decision making-processes in the event of future volcanic eruptions,” BA captain Dean Plumb said.

ZEUS was initially trialed on the NERC/Met Office’s dedicated research aircraft, before being fitted to a Flybe Bombardier Q400 in 2012.

Met Office head of natural hazards Ian Lisk said the project is a "great result of cross-industry collaboration, including British Airways, Flybe, NERC and the Met Office.  While further development is still required, we are delighted with progress with this prototype volcanic ash sensor to date and the findings we have so far received from the tests are very promising.”

ZEUS uses measurements of static as a tool to detect ash, after a pilot in a research aircraft noticed his hair stood on end when low levels of volcanic ash were present.

Likewise, BA’s fellow UK-carrier easyJet has been working with partners to trial AVOID ash detection technology.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) to switch International growth to Tokyo Narita Airport

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 777-381(ER) (28281/488) JA731A climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 17, 2013 sporting the carriers "Star Alliance" livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) expects to switch its international growth focus to Tokyo Narita International Airport in 2015 following a dramatic expansion at Haneda Airport this year.
New slots awards at Haneda allowed ANA to build an international hub operation at that airport, which is the closest to downtown Tokyo. However, there are currently no plans for further slot awards at Haneda, so growth there will be limited.

Next year’s expansion will be primarily from Narita, ANA CEO Osamu Shinobe told ATW at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines conference in Tokyo. The airline is still making its route plans for next year, but international capacity may grow by about 10%, Shinobe said. In contrast, domestic growth will likely remain relatively flat.

The North American market is likely to be one area of growth, despite the high levels of service already on these routes. A priority will be improving links to alliance partner United Airlines’ US hubs, Shinobe said. This could comprise new routes, or additional frequencies. The same applies to Europe, where ANA would like to take greater advantage of the Lufthansa network.

ANA wants to capture more of the traffic flow between the US and Asia by using Narita as an international connecting hub. Most of its European flights are concentrated at Haneda, because few passengers from Europe connect to Asia via Japan.

The airline’s international capacity was up 22% year-on-year for the six months through September, which is ANA’s fiscal first half. This was mostly due to the slot expansion at Haneda. Traffic grew slightly more slowly, rising 19% year-on-year.

Shinobe said the capacity and traffic growth is in line with the carrier’s plans. Demand and capacity increases have been well matched, considering the rapid growth, he said. Inbound travel demand has been growing quickly, particularly from Asia as the Japanese government relaxes visa restrictions for certain countries—a process that is likely to continue.

Long-haul, low-cost carriers (LCCs) are increasing their presence in Asia, but they have little effect on the Japanese market so far, Shinobe noted. However, the short-haul LCC sector is growing rapidly in Japan, and Shinobe said ANA will have to adjust its thinking to this new reality.

However, LCCs still only account for less than 10% of the domestic market—far lower than in the US, Europe or Southeast Asia—so the carrier has some leeway to decide its response. Two of the new LCCs in Japan are partly or wholly owned by ANA, so the group will benefit from new demand that is being created by the LCCs.

There has been limited cannibalization of mainline traffic so far, although this could change in the future, Shinobe said.

(Adrian Schofield - ATWOnline News)

Boeing eyes more wide-body from Japanese carriers

Despite the recent spate of large widebody aircraft orders by Japanese carriers, there are still opportunities for new contracts with these airlines, according to a senior Boeing executive.
Japan Airlines ordered about 30 Airbus A350s in 2013 with options for 25 more, while earlier this year All Nippon Airways (ANA) ordered 20 777Xs and added to its 787-9 backlog. These deals will cover the long-term replacement of much of their large 777 fleets.

However, “if you look at the installed fleet [in Japan], it still has more replacement to come,” Boeing SVP-sales & marketing for Northeast Asia Ihssane Mounir said. For example, JAL’s A350 orders will not be adequate to replace its 777-300ERs in the long term, Mounir said. So the eventual -300ER replacement “remains an open campaign,” he stated at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines annual meeting in Tokyo.

ANA is rapidly expanding its international network, and will probably want to top up its existing commitments at some point, Mounir said. Continuing growth in the international market will mean both carriers will probably need to increase their order books.

The Japanese airline market will have to find equilibrium between an emerging low-cost carrier (LCC) sector and mainline carriers, Mounir noted. If trends in other global regions are followed, LCCs may eventually take over a much larger slice of the domestic market, leaving the full-service legacy carriers to focus on long-haul routes. This could be the catalyst for further widebody orders.

Big orders in the Japanese market tend to come in cycles, and it is hard to predict when the next cycle will be, Mounir said. Boeing is not involved in any widebody aircraft negotiations in Japan at the moment, “but we’re keeping our eyes open.”

Regarding the broader Asia-Pacific market, Mounir said worries about over-supply of capacity in the long term are largely exaggerated. Many people in the industry are still underestimating the potential demand from a rapidly growing middle class in Asia, particularly in China.

But while orders in the Asia-Pacific region are not excessive in aggregate, Mounir conceded that the concentration of orders in some specific markets could cause some concern. However, he believes the market will balance out as aircraft capacity is drawn to areas of untapped demand. If further liberalization occurs to facilitate that process, then the current level of orders will be inadequate compared to what could be needed.

(Adrian Schofield - ATWOnline News)

Money, Money, Money.........MONEY! The new JetBlue

JetBlue Airways appeared to suggest to a gathering of investors Wednesday that they now come first, and that you, the passenger, come second.
Remember the JetBlue promise — “You above all” — and its “Customer Bill of Rights,” which were supposed to express the low-cost carrier’s commitment to “bring humanity back to air travel”? And its pledge that it wanted to allow you to “pack freely,” which explained why a first checked bag was free? Those bromides may soon disappear, like so much lost luggage.
JetBlue said that, as part of a plan aimed at improving financial results, it will increase the number of seats in its A320 aircraft by 10% and introduce baggage fees for certain fare bundle options.
Basically, your first bag will still be free, but only if you pay up for that right.
“We believe the plan laid out today benefits our three key stakeholders,” said President Robin Hayes. “It delivers improved, sustainable profitability to our investors, the best travel experience for our customers, and ensures a strong, healthy company for our crewmembers.”
The company even provided a graphic to show investors what it is that now makes its world go round:
                         JetBlue Airways
Investors appeared pleased with JetBlue’s new promise The stock was up 4.6% in midday trade.
What may frustrate customers is that it isn’t so obvious why JetBlue felt it necessary to change its focus. If the company were struggling to combat rising fuel costs and a slowing economy, or the stock was down in the dumps, that would be a different story.
But the stock has been handily outperforming its peers and the broader market for most of this year, while jet-fuel prices are falling. That would suggest the company is doing it just because the new management — JetBlue announced in September a CEO succession plan — feels it can.

A JetBlue spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker downgraded the stock to neutral from overweight last week, because recent share-price outperformance, which he said he didn’t believe was based on sheer fundamental strength, had decelerated.

Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker upgraded the stock in August, on expectations that JetBlue would address investor worries by shifting its philosophy to focus on improving the bottom line. At the time, the analyst said she believed “the revenue benefit to the company would probably trump any customer pushback.”

In the latest customer-satisfaction rankings by J.D. Power in May, JetBlue posted the highest score overall for a 10th consecutive year.

Time will tell what winning over investors will do for that ranking.

(Tomi Kilgore - Market Watch)

Southwest Airlines pilots ask for mediation in contract talks

The union representing pilots at Southwest Airlines has asked federal mediators to help break a two-year stalemate in contract negotiations.

Southwest said that it had been optimistic about an agreement, but that the union ended negotiations and filed for mediation.

Southwest has had relatively few labor conflicts over the years, but as the airline's growth has slowed, pilots have complained about a lack of advancement opportunities and stagnant compensation.

On Thursday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association said that it had asked for help from the National Mediation Board.

Southwest Airlines Co. earned $946 million in the first nine months of this year, up 75 percent from the same period last year on higher revenue and lower fuel spending.

Company shares fell 8 cents to $39.19 Thursday.

(Associated Press)