This week’s LARA countdown video content

By General News

LARA COUNTDOWN provides a convenient summary of our top 5 recent headlines for our followers. Check out this week’s video which looks at Cobalt Air becoming an IATA member, China Southern Airlines’ debut A321neo, Ryanair’s recent Glasgow International base closure plans, a new partnership between HK Express and Dohop, and TrueNoord’s fistful of E190s for Cityhopper:


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Loganair launching Glasgow to Derry link

By General News

Regional carrier Loganair is launching a Glasgow to Derry service following Ryanair’s recent decision to discontinue the route.

The Scottish airline is to launch the Glasgow to Derry air service on 28 October, the day after Ryanair’s service ceases.

Operating five days a week, Loganair will use a 33-seat Saab 340 aircraft on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a larger, 50-capacity Saab 2000 aircraft used for Sunday evening services.

Jonathan Hinkles, managing director at Loganair, said this route has always been popular, “given the close connections between the residents of the two cities.” He added: “We’re delighted to be returning to a route which we first initiated all those years ago, while also ensuring its continuation following Ryanair’s recent announcement. We very much hope that our decision to secure the future of this air link will be of keen interest to those with family ties and football affiliations, as well as people with business in the two regions.”

Loganair first served Derry in Northern Ireland in April 1979, becoming the first airline to operate to City of Derry Airport at the time.

Francois Bourienne, Glasgow Airport commercial director, said “We are thrilled our long-standing airline partner Loganair has made the decision to step in to operate a regular service to Derry.” Bourienne added that the Northern Irish city is a “consistently-popular destination with our passengers.”

Derry will become Loganair’s 12th destination from Glasgow in Scotland. The airline added Guernsey and Donegal to its Glasgow network this year and will resume non-stop flights in May from the city to Bergen in Norway for a second summer season.

Pegasus reveals rising PAX and financial figures

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Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines has confirmed rising passenger numbers and a strong growth in turnover, while also continuing its planned expansion and modernisation of its fleet.

The carrier, which late last year exercised an option within an existing 100-aircraft order placed in 2012 with Airbus for 25 A321neos, said related to the new additions to its fleet that it was “thus making headway in its efforts to expand its fleet and flight network.”

It now has 75 aircraft in its operational fleet and says 10 new aircraft will be added this year, with the first of these delivered last month.

In its financial results for 2017, Pegasus said it increased its passenger numbers by 15.2% last year to 27.82 million, while growing its turnover by 44% to 5.3 billion Turkish Lira (£1 billion). It’s annual net profit for 2017 was TL 501 million (£95 million).

Of its 27.82 million passengers, 16.89 million were on routes within Turkey and 10.45 million on its international routes. The carrier’s PAX numbers on routes within Turkey rose by 10.5% compared to the previous year, while numbers on its international routes grew by 21.7% year-on-year.

For this year, said CEO Mehmet T. Nane, the operator wants to increase its PAX numbers and capacity by between 11 and 13%.

2017 saw a cautious recovery in the aviation sector, he said, adding that “since last year, we have been saying that we predict real growth will begin in 2018. The positive trends in the sector and our own company confirm our beliefs. The figures show that we are heading in the right direction. The civil aviation sector is in a much better position generally and has managed to shake off the negative impact of the past few years.”


Lufthansa Technik takes LEAP with CFM

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CFM International and Lufthansa Technik (LT) have sealed an agreement that will see the latter provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support for CFM’s LEAP-1A engines.

The completed CFM Branded Service Agreement (CBSA) means LT becomes part of the MRO network for the engines. “It is a real pleasure to welcome a provider of the calibre of Lufthansa Technik to the LEAP MRO network,” said Gaël Méheust, president and CEO of CFM International. “We have a very long, very successful relationship with them through the CFM56 product line.” The new agreement, he added, would that their relationship “to a whole new level.”

“The LEAP engine represents the next generation of aircraft engines with state-of-the-art technology,” said Bernhard Krüger-Sprengel, vice-president, engine services at LT.

CFM International is the 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.


Volaris passenger figures soar in February

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The ultra-low fare airline Volaris transported a total of 1.3 million passengers during February 2018, an increase of 11.8% year-on-year.

Year-to-date Volaris has transported over 2.7 million passengers, an increase of 4% compared to the equivalent period last year. The airline reported a network load factor for February of 82.4%, an increase of 2.2% year-on-year.

The carrier which serves Mexico, the United States and Central America, reported an increased total capacity for February 2018 measured in Available Seat Miles (ASMs) of 11.2% over the comparative period.

Total demand during the month, measured in Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) increased 14.2% year-on-year, reaching 1.2 billion. Domestic RPM saw an increase of 15.9% from February 2017.

Volaris is also launching a new international route, from Salvador, El Salvador to Cancun, Quintana Roo. The twice-weekly flights, starting 29 March, will expand connectivity to and from Central America with the Riviera Maya and help to promote tourism between the two destinations. This is Volaris’ third direct route from a Central American country to the beaches of Cancun.

Wizz Air plans to expand Vienna operations

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Wizz Air is to expand its Vienna operations with the deployment of two additional Airbus A321 at Vienna Airport by March 2019, growing its annual capacity to over two million seats on sale.

After the establishment of the Vienna base with three aircraft this coming June, the airline will deploy the two additional aircraft for a total of five based aircraft by March 2019, allowing Wizz to further diversify and expand its Vienna network.

The base establishment and expansion of operations represent a total investment of over $570 million, creating more than 200 direct jobs with Wizz Air.

Wizz Air’s service from Austria will include nine new routes from Vienna to Nice in France, Reykjavik in Iceland, Catania and Milan in Italy, Lisbon in Portugal, Madrid in Spain, Malmo and Stockholm Skavsta in Sweden, and Kharkiv in Ukraine. The newest services will commence in February and March 2019.

George Michalopoulos, chief commercial officer at Wizz Air, said: “Today’s announcement once again underlines our strong commitment to the Vienna market and Austria as a whole. After the opening of our Vienna base this June, in just nine months we’ll expand our operations to five based aircraft with a local team with more than 200 direct employees, while growing our low-fare network to 27 routes.”

Michalopoulos went on to say: “Offering nearly half million seats on sale in 2018 and over two million in 2019 we are creating new opportunities for Austrian customers to visit some of the most beautiful cities and regions in Europe.”

The airline said the expansion of operations will also contribute to the local economy, supporting jobs in the aviation, transportation, hospitality and tourism industries.

“The fact that Wizz Air is already expanding its operations at Vienna Airport and will increase the number of aircraft stationed at its Vienna base by two to a total of five underlines the competitiveness of Vienna Airport as a competitive aviation hub and high-performance gateway,” said Julian Jäger, joint CEO and COO of Vienna Airport. “Thanks to the expanded base as well as the additional flight connections, Wizz Air has provided added growth impetus to Vienna Airport and passengers will be offered an even broader range of travel options when flying out of Vienna.”

Icelandair receives first Boeing 737 MAX

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Icelandair has received its first Boeing 737 MAX as part of the airline’s ongoing expansion and fleet renewal, with the carrier to further enhance its trans-Atlantic operations.

The MAX is joining the airline’s fleet of B757 and B767 aircraft serving destinations in North America and Europe. Icelandair placed an order for 16 737 MAXs five years ago, including MAX 8s and MAX 9s. Both offer a range of up to 3,515 nautical miles (6,510 km) to help airlines open new profitable routes.

Björgólfur Jóhannsson, president and CEO of the Iceland flag carrier, described the delivery of the new aircraft as a “milestone” which marked the start of the renewal of its fleet.


Chinese debut for A321neo

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China Southern Airlines has received its first Airbus A321neo, the first Chinese airline to do so.

Irish leasing company AerCap confirmed delivery of the first aircraft type into China for the Guangzhou-based carrier, which already has 303 Airbus aircraft in its fleet (121 A320ceo, 99 A321ceo, seven A320neo and five A380s).

The airline was also the first operator in China of the A320neo, and has eight Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-engined A321neos on order from lessor AerCap, all due for delivery before the end of the year.

Quartet of A320-200s leased in India and China

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Four Airbus A320-200s have been leased out to airlines in India and China, with all the aircraft to be operating before the end of the year.

Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation confirmed the placement of two A320-200s with India’s IndiGo, powered by IAE V2527-engines, with both scheduled to deliver in the third quarter of the year.

Low-fare carrier IndiGo is a new customer for the lessor, with ALC’s executive vice-president Kishore Korde saying: “IndiGo has become the benchmark that many other leading low-cost airlines measure themselves against. India is a very high growth airline market and ALC is pleased to contribute to the dynamic development of airline expansion in India with these aircraft placements.”

IndiGo has a fleet of more than 150 Airbus A320 family aircraft, as well as three ATR turboprops.

The other pair of A320-200s have been leased by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Ltd. to China’s Air Guilin, a full-service airline which began operations mid-2016 using an A319. DAE’s leasing division, DAE Capital, has already delivered the first to the airline. The second will be delivered to the carrier, based at Guilin Liangjiang airport in Guanxi Autonomous Region, before the end of this month.

Both aircraft are equipped with CFM 56-5B4/3 PIP engines. The new aircraft will help the airline as it looks to capitalise on the country’s fast-growing domestic demand for leisure and business air travel. It currently operates four Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, and is a joint venture between the Guilin Municipal Government and the HNA Group.


TrueNoord’s fistful of E190s for Cityhopper

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Regional aircraft lessor TrueNoord recently closed a term loan financing facility with Nord/LB Norddeutsche Landesbank (Nord/LB) for five Embraer E190 aircraft it bought from BOC Aviation with leases attached earlier this year.

The five E190s operated regionally by KLM Cityhopper represent a significant investment for TrueNoord, it says, and heralds the start of this year’s “highly targeted programme for their fleet under lease.” It anticipates that by the end of this month its portfolio will stand at 22 aircraft. Pillsbury acted as legal advisers for TrueNoord throughout the transaction.

All five aircraft from the BOC Aviation purchase are operated in support of KLM’s European network, and TrueNoord says this is set to accelerate its acquisitions in the regional aviation sector.

Anne-Bart Tieleman, CEO, said that working with financiers like Nord/LB on the acquisition of young aircraft with long remaining leases operated by triple ‘A’ carriers such as KLM was “an important part of our strategy moving forward. We are currently concluding a number of transactions for predominantly young to new assets that will be utilised by regional carriers worldwide.”

Expressing confidence in the regional aircraft leasing sector, he added ahead of next week’s ISTAT Americas conference in San Diego that “we see a regional sector in The Americas that has abundant opportunities. We already have some Embraer E190s flying with AeroMexico as part of our globally diversified fleet of regional aircraft and we will be expanding the penetration of our assets further throughout the region as we move through 2018.”

In the past year TrueNoord’s business model has been recognised by leading investors with both BlackRock and Aberdeen Asset Management coming on board together with the cornerstone investor, Bregal Freshstream.

Graham Lees, head of sales at BOC Aviation, commented that this was the second major transaction for Embraer E190s that it had successfully concluded with TrueNoord in the past 12 months for airlines in Europe, Asia and South America. “Their professional handling of aircraft transactions with leases attached ensures smooth operational continuity for airlines in competitive regional markets,” he said.