Airbus are looking to the future

By General News

Airbus have revealed a model of their blended wing aircraft at the Singapore 2020 Air Show.

“Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus. He added, “This technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry.”

This new design aims to increase fuel economy, consuming over 20% less fuel in comparison to current single-aisle aircraft. It intends to have a reduction in emissions, noise and cost to operate compared to an equally advanced conventional transport aircraft.

Airbus are using their capabilities in engineering and manufacturing to potentially achieve a significant development in the future air travel experience. This new aircraft design will feature high-lift wings and a wide body to create lift and minimise drag. Tests are expected to continue until mid-2020 but there is currently no timeline for the designs to enter service.

Collins Aerospace announces facility expansions in Fort Worth, Spokane and Pueblo

By Featured

Collins Aerospace Systems has announced its plan to invest in the developments of landing system facilities in Fort Worth, Spokane and Pueblo.

An increase in the demand for wheels, brakes and landing gear has led to a growth in the company’s Landing Systems business. The investment will lead to the creation of more than 100 jobs. In Forth Worth, it plans to provide MRO support for numerous Embraer ERJ 135/145 operators including Envoy. The new location “will be better positioned to support these customers’ needs.”

In Spokane, Washington, there are plans in the process to expand the current carbon brake manufacturing facility by 50%, creating 50 new jobs. 2021 will see the expansion of three more buildings.

A similar expansion in Pueblo, Colorado will also provide the community with work, adding 40,000 square feet to the existing site. This project began in 2015 and is due to be completed next year.

The new wheel and brake maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Fort Worth will be combined with the current landing gear operations run by Collins Aerospace. These adaptions are expected to bring the company closer to airline customers in the region.

“We are committed to investing in our business to better serve our customers,” commented Ajay Mahajan, VP, Landing Systems at Collins Aerospace.

Norwegian baggage allowance

Norwegian introduces new baggage policy

By General News

Norwegian has introduced a new hand luggage policy aiming to make boarding smoother for passengers and ensuring flights depart on time.

“Norwegian’s business model is based on giving our customers freedom of choice and that is also the basis of this new policy,” said Cecilie Nybø Carlsen, VP Product Management at Norwegian. “It’s important for us that everyone has a good travel experience when they fly Norwegian. It is a common misperception that there is enough room in the cabin for all passengers to bring an overhead cabin bag. However, most of our aircraft carry 186 passengers and has space for around 80 overhead cabin bags. Now, with the new policy in place, our goal is that boarding will be smoother for our passengers, we can avoid spending time rearranging carry-on baggage in the overhead lockers and help ensure that our aircraft depart on time.”

All passengers can travel with a bag that can be stored under the seat in front of them, however, under the new policy passengers who opt for the LowFare tickets can only bring the ‘underseat’ bag and would need to purchase an overhead cabin bag, add checked baggage or select a different ticket type. The airline has increased the size allowance for the underseat bag and it can weigh 10 kilos.

Passengers with a LowFare+ ticket can bring one overhead cabin bag (in addition to the underseat carry-on) with a maximum weight of 10 kilos. If the cabin is full, passengers with a LowFare+ ticket will have their hand baggage checked at the gate free of charge – if passengers wish to secure space in the overhead lockers they can opt for Priority Boarding. Passengers with this ticket type can also bring a checked bag with a maximum weight of 23 kilos.

Finally, passengers with a Flex, Premium or PremiumFlex ticket can bring an overhead cabin bag and ‘underseat’ bag at a maximum combined weight of 15 kilos, as well as two checked bags with a maximum weight of 23 kilos each.

Carlsen said: “All customers, regardless of ticket type, can bring one underseat bag to be stored under the seat in front of them. If customers don’t need any additional hand baggage, they can choose our LowFare ticket at no additional costs. Those who wish to bring an additional overhead cabin bag can do so at a small cost prior to departure or choose a different ticket type when booking their ticket.”

PAL Dash 8-400

TrueNoord leases two Dash 8-400 aircraft to PAL

By General News

TrueNoord is leasing two new Dash 8-400 aircraft to Philippine Airlines on long-term operating lease agreements.

The aircraft mark the first Dash 8-400 aircraft manufactured by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada to enter service in TrueNoord’s portfolio and has been financed within the new $360 million warehouse facility which was announced last October and is underwritten by Citibank, Société Générale and Royal Bank of Canada.

The Dash 8-400 aircraft will enter PAL’s commercial service in February and be based at Clark International Airport flying domestic routes throughout the Philippine archipelago of over 7,600 islands.

PAL President and COO Gilbert Santa Maria said: “These brand-new Dash 8-400s join our fleet at a time of flourishing passenger demand for affordable flights across our domestic network, and even on cross-border routes to Malaysia and Indonesia. We look forward to exploring the exciting opportunities that these aircraft will bring in terms of passenger comfort and operational efficiency.  We anticipate a long and successful co-operation with TrueNoord and De Havilland Canada.”

Anne-Bart Tieleman, CEO, TrueNoord commented: “The Dash 8-400 aircraft is known as the “network builder” due to its short take-off and landing capabilities and efficient regional operations, so it was the perfect choice for Philippine Airlines to service their expanding route network and increasing passenger demand for regional connectivity.

“We are keen to broaden our options within the turboprop segment of our fleet and these Dash 8-400 aircraft bring our total up to sixteen out of a fleet comprising 47 aircraft including Embraer and Bombardier regional jets.”

Airbus adding A321 production capabilities in Toulouse

By General News

Airbus has taken the decision to create new A321 production capabilities at its site in Toulouse, aiming to provide more flexibility for the aircraft production, while keeping the overall single-aisle industrial capacity in Toulouse flat.

By mid-2022 the current A380 Lagardère facility in Toulouse will accommodate a digitally-enabled A321 line, which Airbus said would be a “step to modernise the A320 production system in Toulouse.” Currently the only European Final Assembly Line to assemble A321s is at Airbus’ Hamburg site. The aircraft is also being assembled and delivered from Mobile, Alabama, USA.

“We are enjoying an unprecedented high demand for our winning A320neo Family and especially its A321 Long Range (LR) and Xtra Long Range (XLR) derivatives,” said Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus Chief Operating Officer. “In order to optimize the industrial flow, we have decided to increase our global A321 production capacity and flexibility as well as to establish a next generation Final Assembly Line in Toulouse.”

The company said Toulouse was selected for several reasons, such as competitiveness, time to market, investment cost, available floor space and resources.

Flybe

Reasons to be cheerful?

By General News

In the past week regional aviation has seen both highs and lows – highlighting just how challenging a sector this can be as well as the opportunities to be optimistic.

In the UK, regional airline Flybe (soon to become Virgin Connect) faced uncertainty as it tried to secure a future. The airline negotiated a rescue deal with the government and shareholders, with Lucien Farrell, chairman of Connect Airways, commenting on the recognition of the “importance of Flybe to communities and businesses across the UK”.

The government also confirmed it would be reviewing Air Passenger Duty (APD) “to ensure regional connectivity is strengthened while meeting the UK’s climate change commitments to meet net zero by 2050.” The UK’s APD is the highest European aviation tax for both short-haul and long-haul flights.

The rescue deal was criticised by several industry executives, however, including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary who called for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to “extend the APD eco tax ‘holiday’ given to Flybe, to all of its UK airline competitors.”

He said the bailout is “in breach of both Competition and State Aid laws,” and argued that the Flybe model is not viable: “because it cannot compete with lower fare services from UK regional airports on domestic and EU routes provided by Ryanair, easyJet, BA and others; and it cannot compete with lower cost road and rail alternatives on many smaller UK domestic routes.”

Despite this, we can be sure the announcement that Flybe will continue to operate as normal would have been welcome news to its 2,400+ employees.

Elsewhere, airlines have been showing their dedication to enhancing regional connectivity, as low-fare leisure carrier Allegiant announced its largest service expansion in company history. Most of the 44 new routes announced by the airline are non-competitive, with no other airline providing service between those airports.

Meanwhile in north Germany, Lübeck Airport is anticipating the return of scheduled services later in 2020 as it prepares to launch a new regional airline, Lübeck Air. The airline will use an ATR 72-500 to connect the city to Munich and Stuttgart.

Scheduled services at the airport ceased in 2016 and so the launch of Lübeck Air will bring commercial services to the airport once again.

The LARA team will be making some journeys of its own this week to attend Airfinance Journal Dublin. Please get in touch if you would like to arrange a meeting or keep an eye out for our team at the show!

Flair Airlines reveals fleet expansion plans

By General News

Flair Airlines, the Canada-based low-cost airline, has revealed its plans to expand its fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to support service expansion.

The airline currently operates a fleet of seven Boeing 737s serving eight cities across Canada and intends to expand both frequency and the reach of its services. Flair commented in a statement: “This step is almost complete, which the remaining critical step being the fleet renewal and expansion plan.”

Having transitioned from a charter operator to a scheduled low-cost airline in 2017, the airline saw nearly one million passengers in 2019 and so to meet the growing demand it announced it is seeking expressions of interest from lessors with available Boeing 737 aircraft for delivery in early 2020.

“Canada has one of the highest costs for air travel in the world and that’s a problem Flair intends to fix,” the airline commented. “Flair has caused significant passenger growth in Canada and fare reductions of up to 40% on the routes it serves.”

Lübeck Air will connect north Germany

By General News

Lübeck in north Germany will soon see a new regional airline as Lübeck Air prepares to launch scheduled services connecting the city to Munich and Stuttgart.

Launching in June 2020, the airline has been established by Lübeck Airport and will provide regular nonstop services to Munich and Stuttgart from June.

Flights will be operated with an ATR 72-500 turboprop, which the company suggests has “proven itself for regional traffic.”

“We are creating an offer that many people don’t even know anymore,” chief pilot Tobias Oberschäfer commented. Each ticket includes a piece of baggage and hand luggage, a small meal onboard and a seat pitch of 89cm.

“As the Lübeck Air plane surprises with seating for only 60 passengers – all of them window or aisle seats,” he continued.

The airline will be located at Lübeck Airport, a privately owned airport which is currently going through the process of a terminal modernisation project with construction of an extension hoped to be finished in June. The terminal will be extended with a new waiting area and baggage claim while the old terminal has received a new look and will accomodate shops and check-in gates as well as offices and a restaurant with a large viewing terrace.

“With its own railway station and located at the junction of the A1 and A20 motorways, the airport’s connections are already excellent,” commented airport manager Jürgen Friedel. “Daily non-stop connections to the south of Germany will be a useful addition to the range offered by tour operators from this summer.”

JetBlue refines services and plans for new routes

By Featured

JetBlue has announced a reshuffle of services, expanding services at airports including Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and Nashville International Airport while reducing flights on others, including ending service at Oakland International Airport.

Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning, JetBlue commented: “With new destinations on tap for 2020, more flights in our best performing markets and tactical adjustments to maximize the success of our fleet and network, we enter a new decade from a strong position that sets us up for success in the years ahead.

“We continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our focus cities and allocate flying so we can offer better schedules and high-demand destinations for our customers.”

The airline is expanding service at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport with flights to and from the east coast. New nonstop service from New York-JFK and Boston Logan International Airport will operate on a summer and winter seasonal schedule starting in June. New York flights will operate three times weekly, up to daily at various times throughout the seasons, while Boston flights will operate twice weekly.

“Our relationship with JetBlue started back in 2011 with initial discussions and visits with their team to gauge interest in the BZN market and we’ve kept in contact with them over the years as our market grew,” said Scott Humphrey, deputy airport director, BZN. “JetBlue introduced seasonal service from Bozeman to Long Beach, California in 2018, and the success of that service has given JetBlue the insight and confidence in our market to add these two new East Coast seasonal flights.”

JetBlue is also adding service from a third focus city to Nashville International Airport with new nonstop flights between Music City and New York-JFK with flights operating twice daily starting 28 April 2020. Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp president and CEO Butch Spyridon welcomed the service and said: “New York has become our number three market for visitation, and the direct service gives us an opportunity to grow one of the largest and best markets in the country.”

The airline has also announced flights to the Central American city Guatemala City, marking its 25th country served. Flights to La Aurora International Airport start 1 June 2020 with nonstop flights operating daily from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In order to enable the route expansions and new destinations, the airline will redeploy aircraft, adding flights to some existing routes and reducing flights on those that it says aren’t meeting expectations.

From 29 April 2020, JetBlue will end service at Oakland International Airport where it currently serves New York-JFK, Boston and Long Beach. The airline is also reducing or eliminating flights on “half a dozen short-haul routes” in Long Beach, while adding flights from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Meanwhile in Cuba, the airline said “changes to the regulatory landscape have affected travel trends to the island” and to best meet demand, JetBlue will adjust schedules to maintain up to three daily flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale and revise to once weekly service on Saturdays from New York-JFK.

EasyJet forms partnership with Etihad Airways

By Featured

easyJet has formed a partnership with Etihad Airways through the easyJet worldwide website, connecting the airlines’ networks and opening new travel possibilities for travel between Europe, Africa, the Azores and the UAE.

Rachel Smith, easyJet’s Head of Commercial Partnerships said: “We’re excited to announce our partnership with Etihad Airways, which opens up Abu Dhabi as a destination to our passengers and more of Europe to Etihad. Through smart self-connections and strategic partnerships, we continue to extend the reach of the worldwide by easyJet network offering more value and more routes to more customers.”

The partnership follows the rollout of easyJet’s programme with flight comparison search engine, Dohop, which powers the easyJet worldwide website connecting its European network with long-haul flights. For Etihad this has been achieved using the New Distribution Capability platform providing technical capability for new partnerships previously not possible. The partnership with easyJet and Dohop is Etihad’s first use of this technology.

Ali Saleh, Etihad Airways Vice President Alliances and Partnerships, said: “This new collaboration between two great brands is a logical leap forward for both our companies. easyJet is a perfect launch partner for us in Europe, allowing us to reliably increase the breadth of our continental reach to and from Abu Dhabi, as we enhance ways of connecting directly with more airlines and travel partners around the world.

“The ability to provide end-to-end booking capabilities through our NDC platform will provide customers with ‘one stop’ solutions for seamless travel with partners, whether legacy or low-cost, through Etihad’s global gateways.”