Ryanair to order more 737 MAX aircraft?

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Ryanair is due to announce another big order for the Boeing 737 MAX. This time for the larger -10 model, as opposed to the airline’s exclusive -200.

The airline is one of Boeing’s largest customers and the is seeking to gain some leverage with the aircraft manufacturer for future aircraft orders. According to Reuters, the group’s chief Michael O’Leary revealed the Ryanair Group is in talks with Boeing for an undisclosed number of aircraft. Currently the airline has an open order for 135 examples of the 737 MAX 200 of which it has received none.

O’Leary stated: “We are already in discussions with Boeing. We have an offer on the table for an order for new MAX 10s, which is a 230-seat aircraft.”

He further added: “TO be fair to them [Boeing] I don’t think the new management team is in a position to be able to talk to us about a new order. We understand that, but we have an offer in and we expect at be at the head of the queue.”

The airline wishes to leverage its position in order to receive a favourable deal on any potential order for the MAX 10, seeking a good price and a delivery date as soon as possible.”

But, nothing can be agreed to before the MAX is back in the skies.

Wright Electric aircraft in easyJet colours

Wright Electric begins engine development project for 186-seater

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Wright Electric has marked a new milestone as it begins the engine development programme for its 186-seat electric aircraft, Wright 1.

Wright is engineering electrical systems at a megawatt scale necessary for commercial flight of its 186-seat electric aircraft, building a 1.5MW electrical motor and inverter at 3 kilovolts that will form the powerplant of the aircraft.

“Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186 seat electric planes systems to market,” said Jeffrey Engler, CEO of Wright Electric. “Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine programme is the next step in making our mission a reality.”

Ground tests of the motor are intended to take place in 2021 and flight tests in 2023. The company demonstrated a preview of its motor and fan at an event in New York City on 30 January.

The company is in discussions with BAE Systems relating to flight controls and energy management systems, with Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, Vice President and General Manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems commenting: “We are discussing collaboration opportunities with Wright Electric on the development of flight controls and energy management systems for its electric aircraft. Our new development builds on decades of experience in both domains, as we strive to shape the future of flight.”

Wright will also be conducting aerodynamic tests on its fuselage, which will inform the propulsion design. The company expects entry of service of its flagship Wright 1 in 2030.

A number of government agencies in the United States are aiding research by providing funding into electric aviation.

easyJet is partnered with the manufacturer, supporting its mission to produce all-electric short-haul aircraft. easyJet’s CEO, Johan Lundgren called the programme development a “crucial step” for Wright Electric towards the introduction of commercial electric aircraft, adding: “Battery technology is advancing at pace with numerous US government agencies now funding research into electric aviation– all of these developments help us to more clearly see a future of more sustainable operations.

“We know it is important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible – our carbon offsetting programme has been positively received by our customers and we have now offset more than nine million passenger journeys – but we are clear this is an interim solution until new technologies become available and we can see more clearly than ever a future that is not exclusively reliable on jet fuel,” he added.

Scandinavian Airlines Ireland

Scandinavian Airlines Ireland implements OpenAirlines’ SkyBreathe

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Scandinavian Airlines Ireland, an Irish subsidiary of SAS, has implemented OpenAirlines’ SkyBreathe solution to save fuel and to reduce CO2 emissions as part of its commitment to sustainable development.

“As part of SAS Group, SAS Ireland has many initiatives in motion to lower its CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts,” said Eoin O’Malley, Flight Operations Manager at SAS Ireland. “To go further, we needed to have a better understanding of our fuel consumption, that’s why we selected SkyBreathe. The software will be a great asset to help us achieve our goals.”

SkyBreathe Fuel Efficiency uses Big Data Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to automatically analyse data points from flight recorders. By combining them with data from the actual flight conditions (payload, weather conditions, flight path, ATC constraints, etc), the software identifies the most relevant saving opportunities.

“We are thrilled to have been selected by SAS Ireland to further reduce their fuel consumption. There is an important pressure on airlines to increase profitability while reducing their carbon impact. By using SkyBreathe, our customers reduce their first cost driver by 2 to 5%, while allowing them to become a leader in environmental excellence” explains Alexandre Feray, CEO of OpenAirlines.

VietJet launches Hanoi to Bali flight

VietJet launches service between Hanoi and Bali

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Vietjet has commenced its new route linking Hanoi in Vietnam with Bali island in Indonesia, marking the first direct route departing from Vietnam’s capital city to Bali.

The route is also the airlines second service to the Indonesian holiday destination following the launch of its Ho Chi Minh City – Bali route in May 2019.

“We are proud to be the first airline to operate direct flights between Hanoi and Bali,” commented, Chairwoman of Vietjet’s Board of Directors Nguyen Thanh Ha.The new route operated from the second day of the Lunar New Year will meet the New Year’s travel demand of the locals and international travelers with less travel time and cost. Not only connecting the two most attractive cultural tourism destinations in Asia, the Hanoi – Bali route will also further promote cooperation between the countries in ASEAN.”

Launched on 26 January, the route will be operated with daily return services.

Already this year the airline has inaugurated two international services connecting Can Tho with Taipei and Seoul – the capital cities of Taiwan and South Korea; as well as a route connecting Da Lat in Vientam’s Central Highlands with Seoul.

The airline has also recently announced five new routes between Vietnam and Japan set to commence in 2020. The routes will connect Nagoya, Fukuoka and Kagoshima to Vietnam’s three largest international hubs.

LOT Polish Airlines owner acquires Condor

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The Polish Aviation Group (PGL), owner of LOT Polish Airlines had purchased German carrier Condor. Previously, owned by the Thomas Cook Group, Condor survived the collapse of the travel group in September 2019.

Within the last few weeks, several Condor’s aircraft have lost the big yellow heart on their tails, which was the trademark logo of Thomas Cook. It was replaced with Condor’s bird tail insignia. When Thomas Cook collapsed, the German subsidiary was granted a loan by the German government. This allowed the carrier to continue operating in the interim period. With, LOT Polish Airlines purchasing the carrier, the news was announced in Frankfurt on 24 January.

The purchase of Condor will mean the German carrier can repay the bridging loan it was granted by the German government last year. The transaction for purchasing Condor is expected to be completed in April, subject to all the necessary approvals

PGL’s CEO, Rafał Milczarski, says that the Condor if a perfect match to the Polish Aviation Group’s strategy. Additionally, it seems that Condor will keep its branding. He commented,

“The purchase secures the future of Condor and thus offers its employees, customers and partners stability and a great perspective. We want to further develop the traditional Condor brand in Germany and introduce it to other European markets.”

The deal has been welcomed by the German cabin crew union the UFO. We’ve seen a lot of negativity coming from the UFO recently. The union’s Chairperson, Sylvia De la Cruz, stated:

“After the extreme uncertainty for Condor in recent months, it is a very good news is that now a buyer is found.”

JetBlue refines services and plans for new routes

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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

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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.”

Allegiant announces its largest service expansion

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Low-fare leisure carrier Allegiant has announced its largest ever service expansion, driven primarily by routes connecting underserved cities to popular destinations.

The airline has announced 44 new nonstop routes, including 14 routes to three new cities: Chicago, Boston and Houston. Most of the routes are non-competitive, with no other airline providing service between those airports.

“There is a lot of leisure demand for cities that are regional destinations, and this route expansion will address some of that need,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant vice president of planning and revenue. “Also, this growth is about Allegiant being true to our mission as a company. We’re increasing the number of low-cost, affordable travel options for people who may otherwise be priced out of air travel.”

New seasonal routes to Boston Logan International Airport include services from Grand Rapids, Michigan (Gerald R. Ford Airport) from 7 May; Asheville, North Carolina (Asheville Regional Airport) and Knoxville, Tennessee (McGhee Tyson Airport) from 8 May, as well as Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Florida on 14 May.

The new seasonal routes from William P. Hobby Airport include services from Knoxville, Tennessee beginning 21 May; Asheville, North Carolina from 22 May; Savannah, Georgia (Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport) from 28 May and Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida from 5 June.

Chicago Midway International Airport will gain six new seasonal routes meanwhile, with the first (to Allentown, Pennsylvania) beginning 14 May.

United Airlines orders Airbus A321XLRs

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United Airlines has announced an order for 50 Airbus A321XLR to replace its fleet of aging Boeing 757s. This announcement is a significant blow to Boeing’s proposed twin-aisle NMA, a project which the aircraft manufacturer has mentioned little since the 737 MAX crisis.

The airline has stated that it has not ruled out an NMA order for when Boeing is likely to have the aircraft ready, but the XLR deal certainly supports Airbus’s argument that its aircraft can serve many, if not most of the market’s Boeing’s new NMA would serve.

United expects to take its first A321XLR in 2024 and start flying between Europe and North America with the new narrowbodies the following year, which is around the same time Boeing originally targeted operations of the NMA to begin.

United is now the second airline to choose the longest-range version of the A32neo family.During the summer American Airlines placed an order for 20 XLRs and converted delivery positions on 30 A321neos to the new jet.

Aeroflot Superjet Captain Charged

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Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet pilot Denis Evdokimov has been formally charged by the Investigative Committee of Russia (RIC) over his actions in the May 5 crash of Sukhoi SSJ100 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. The authorities accuse the captain of infringement of flight procedures and manuals, resulting in excessive vertical speeds during final approach and too high an AoA at touchdown and the initial portion of the ground run. This caused the aircraft to bounce as it decelerated along the airport’s main runway. The investigation, led by Ivan Sibul, concluded the pilot’s lack of professionalism led to the airplane catching fire, resulting in the loss of the US$23 million aircraft and the death of 41 passengers.

In November the RIC called Evdokimov to its offices in order to read the charges to him, which names him as the only person guilty of causing suffering to the other 77 people on board, including copilot Maxim Kuznestsov. Evdokimov refuses to acknowledge his guilt. During lightning strikes, the Superjet developed several technical malfunctions with its avionics and fly-by-wire flight controls, which caused a switch to direct control mode. The pilot said the aircraft became unstable in flight and difficult to control and did not respond to side-stick movements. As for the fire inside the fuselage, Evdokimov said that the flames erupted after the cabin crew opened the Superjet’s doors for evacuation.

In response to the new developments, Moscow’s media highlighted the rather short period in which the RIC compiled their case and the resulting judgment. Similar cases have taken years, not months to reach such a stage. Reports also note that the RIC invited the pilot to read the charges against him ahead of the official publication of final crash report by the Interstate Aviation Committee. This document has yet to be released.