Norwegian joins suspension of Boeing 737 Max 8 flights

By General News

Norwegian announced today that it has suspended flights of its Boeing 737 Max 8s until further notice. The airline remains in conversation with Boeing and various aviation authorities and will follow their instructions and recommendations.

Norwegian has more than 110 Boeing 737-800 aircraft in its fleet, which are not affected by this temporary suspension.

Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting chief operating officer said: “In response to the temporary suspension of the Boeing 737 MAX operations by multiple aviation authorities we have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type, until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities.”

Norwegian has 18 Boeing 737 Max 8 in its fleet today but has a total of order of 110 for the type.

QAZAQ AIR signs up for Rusada’s ENVISION

By General News

QAZAQ AIR, the newest regional Kazah airline has signed up with Rusada’s maintenance management software, ENVISION.

The airline has carried more than 80,000 passengers since its launch in 2015 on its fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops. The airline flies to destinations across Kazakhstan including Astan, Atyrau, Uralsk, Aktau and Zhezkazgan.

Rusada will now work closely with the airline to deliver a seamless transition to the ENVISION network, allowing the carrier to focus on the daily running of the airline.

John Wainwright, technical director at QAZAQ AIR said:

“We are delighted to be working with the Rusada team and eager to go live with ENVISION. Being a web-based solution means the software is truly devise-agnostic, and this is crucial for us as we look to transition to a state of digital MRO.

“We’re looking to add two additional Q400’s to our fleet in the coming months, so I’m glad we will have a sophisticated technology platform in place to support our continued growth.”

Editors Comment – Persistence and Precautions

By General News

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

The recent press release from ATR stating that they are optimistic about selling their ATR72-600s in China certainly makes for some positive vibes within the turboprop airliner community. Whether the complex negotiations and mountain of paperwork that needs to be overcome when dealing with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, in order to obtain an operating certification, is completed anytime soon remains to be seen. The Franco-Italian design will be up against China’s own MA60 and MA600 turboprop, along with government officials that encourage domestic airlines to buy Chinese aircraft. It’s a tough battle ahead but the success of the ATR72-600 series, coupled with the steady stream of improvements that’s been introduced to the fleet including cockpit LCD screens and Thales-made avionics and a revised high-density seating layout make this short-haul regional airliner hard to ignore for China’s vast domestic air network.

The tragic events on Sunday with the loss of 157 people when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed shortly after take-off sent shockwaves across the industry and was the second involving Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft. The reaction by the 54 operators flying the Boeing type has been cautious, with a growing list of airlines temporarily grounding their 737 Max 8s as a precautionary measure, as an investigation into the cause of the accident begins with the full cooperation of Boeing representatives. Other airlines continue to operate the type such as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and a Norwegian Airlines representative stated: “We are in close dialogue with Boeing and follow their and the aviation authorities’ instructions and recommendations.” This later changed, with the airline suspending flights with its Boeing 737 Max 8s, following recommendations by European aviation authorities.

At times like this the airline community sets asides its differences and acts as one, providing assistance, support and advice to all those affected by such tragedies, it’s a time when the people matter, and profit making is set aside.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Regional airports in Japan seeking promotion

By General News

A delegation from Japan’s National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) is seeking to raise the profile of Japan’s smaller regional airports.

“These airports have small budgets, so we want to promote them by bringing them under the JNTO umbrella,” said Yuri Nishiyama of JNTO’s global projects section while recently attending Routes Asia in Cebu. “Additionally, the Japanese government is setting a target of 40 million visitors by 2020 and 60 million by 2040. Since the capacity at the major hubs is becoming full, the only way to meet the target is to bring tourists through these smaller airports.”

Without revealing too many details, Nishiyama said Thailand is seeing a massive growth, with 1.1 million inbound visitors in 2018 and 14.7% growth year on year, followed by the Philippines with around 504,000 visitors, an 18.8% yearly increase. Traffic from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia has steady increased. JNTO has a special budget that is allocated to these six Southeast Asian markets for ‘aggressive marketing.’

Global projects section deputy manager for the JNTO, Daisuke Kobayashi said the organisation had noticed the region was seeking a need for Japan’s Hokkaido region because of the snowy climate not found anywhere else in southeast Asia. “Hokkaido was often second only to Tokyo in terms of traffic and can experience more traffic than Tokyo in certain seasons,” said Kobayashi.

Novoair seeks narrowbodies

By General News

Novoair, the only private airline in Bangladesh is considering increasing its fleet and range by adding narrowbody jet aircraft to the turboprops it currently operates.

The airline currently operates six ATR 72-500 turboprops on domestic and short-haul international routes from its main hub in Dhaka. The carrier is currently in negotiations to add another ATR 72s, a Novoair executive said who was attending the recent MRO Southeast Asia conference.

The airline is also interested in buying at least two narrowbodies. The airline has not decided whether it would select the Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s. However, the executive added that the national carrier Biman Bangladesh already operates 737s, so logistic support could be easier if this type was chosen.

Novoair currently flies to seven domestic destinations and has one international route from Dhaka to Kilkata. Adding narrowbody aircraft would likely allow Novoair to serve other international destinations such as Bangkok. Novoair conducts its own line maintenance but outsources C checks.

ATR remains optimistic

By General News

Despite China’s airline operator’s reluctance to purchase foreign turboprop airliners for its domestic routes, ATR the Franco-Italian turboprop manufacturer is confident that it can overcome any difficulties with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for ATR 72-600 operating certification. Previously, China had chosen an earlier version of the ATR 72.

“Operators of the ATR 72-600 will use the aircraft to serve remote parts of the country, especially those in the mountainous regions,” said ATR head of Asia-Pacific region Christophe Potocki.

ATR, in a partnership with Airbus and Leonardo are working on a system to provide pilots with enhanced vision in poor weather which is seen as critical to the deal with China.

Foreign turboprop sales in China have to compete alongside the country’s high-speed rail network which links most of the major cities and industrial sites. The rail network is highly competitive in travel time, scheduling and prices. But, the rail network struggles in the mountainous regions of China.

Additional complications to any kind of sale is that the government encourages its own airlines to buy Chinese aircraft. The Aviation Corporation of China produce the MA60 and MA600 turboprop airliners and is developing the MA700.

LARA aircraft on the runway

ZIPAIR it is!

By General News

A press conference at Japan Airlines headquarters today, confirmed the name of Japan’s first medium to long-haul LCC as ZIPAIR.

With the registration now official the company will be established as ZIPAIR Tokyo Ltd., as of 8 March. The new carrier will begin its first schedule services in the summer of 2020.

The brand name is intended to incorporate the idea of travelling to various zip codes, while aiming to create a calculated travel experience that brings originality and ingenuity of the Japanese culture. The word Tokyo was added to the airline’s name as it will be based there.

Amadeus gets spicy!

By General News

Amadeus and SpiceJet, an Indian LCC, have announced a new distribution agreement that gives Amadeus’ global network of travel sellers access to the airline’s range of fares and prices through the Amadeus Travel Platform.

This new opportunity allows passengers to choose how, where and when to buy tickets in order to meet their specific needs. The distribution deal means that it’s now possible to compare value instead of just price during the process.

This is the first time that SpiceJet has worked with a distribution partner. By connecting travellers through the world’s largest community of travel retailers and buyers, the airline will now be able to showcase its products on a global scale, gain access to new markets and partners. This will significantly grow its customer base. Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of SpiceJet said: “I am delighted to announce our new partnership with Amadeus which will help SpiceJet reach new customers both within and outside India.” Echoing his comments was, Cyril Tetaz, executive vice president, Airlines, Amadeus, Asia Pacific: “With our partnership including distribution and IT solutions, we are very proud to support SpiceJet in its growth in India and beyond.”

SpiceJet is India’s second biggest budget carrier operating, around 516 daily flights to 59 destinations, which includes eight international destinations. The airline will soon start flying to Jeddah, which will be its ninth international destination.

Amadeus’ solutions connect travellers through its network of travel agents, search engines, tour operators, airlines, airports, hotels, cars and railways.

Nepal’s Saurya Airlines back in the air

By General News

Saurya Airlines is set to resume operating its schedule service today, following a significant grounding period due to its inability to settle the debt it owed to its Kathmandu airport operator.

The airline’s total debt to the airport amounts to US$355,000, of which it has already settled US$45,000. The airport operator has given the airline two months to settle the outstanding amount, although airline executives have pledged to settle it within one month.

Due to the airline’s inability to settle its accounts, the airport halted all its flight on 6 December 2018.

Saurya Airlines operates a pair of CRJ-200s on a domestic network covering, as of March 2019, Siddharthangar and Biratnagar. Prior to the grounding, the airline also flew to Nepalgunj, Dhangarhi, Rajbiraj and Bharatpur.

Despite the recent setback the airline intends to add three turboprops to its fleet next year. After it had been grounded in December, Saurya Airlines was purchased by India’s Kuber Group for a reported US$5.6 million.


First A321neo for Wizz Air

By General News

Wizz Air received its first Airbus A321neo in Hamburg on 7 March. The new generation of Airbus A321neo aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney GTF engines and features the widest single-aisle cabin with 239 seats in a single class configuration and offers the airline maximum flexibility, fuel efficiency and low operating costs.

Wizz Air operates a fleet of 108 Airbus A321 and A320 aircraft across Europe and has placed an order for 256 A321neo and A320neo aircraft, making it the largest Airbus customer worldwide for the type.

The A320neo and its derivative aircraft incorporate the latest technologies, including new generation engines capable of delivering 20 per cent fuel cost savings. The aircraft also offers significant environmental benefits with nearly a 50 per cent reduction in noise footprint compared to previous generations of aircraft.

Speaking at the handover ceremony today, József Váradi, Wizz chief executive officer said: “Today we approach the beginning of a new era in Wizz Air’s history. We are proud to welcome our first GTF-powered A321neo aircraft to our growing fleet – the first aircraft from the world’s largest single Airbus order. We are convinced the A321neo will be a game-changer aircraft for Wizz, as we continue to grow at an industry-leading rate and expand our market reach across and beyond Europe.”

Also attending the ceremony was Rick Deurloo, senior vice president of sales, marketing and customer support at Pratt & Whitney he stated: “We truly appreciate the trust that Wizz Air has placed in our engines, and the strong relationship we have built together since the airline’s inception. We are honoured to celebrate this special milestone and confident that our industry leading technology will provide Wizz Air with fuel savings and environment benefits for many years to come.”