Airbus A320 almost shot down over Syria

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An Airbus A320 belonging to Syrian operator Cham Wings was forced to make an emergency landing due to Israeli airstrikes in Syria. The airliner inadvertently flew into the envelope of Syrian air defences as they were firing at the Israeli strike aircraft. The Airbus wasn’t hit in the incident and landed safely at Khmeimim Air Base near Damascus.

A Russian defence spokesperson accused the Israeli jets of using the A320 as a ‘shield’, stating “Israel’s general staff’s military operation in used a passenger jet as cover or to block the fire by Syrian missile systems is becoming a typical trait of the Israeli Air Force.

“Tel Aviv is perfectly aware of civilian flight routes and air activity around Damascus day and night, and such reckless missions prove that Israeli strategists could not care less about possible civilian casualties.”

The Russian defence ministry praised the quick actions of ATC in Damascus for getting the airliner out of harm’s way.

Contour ERJ-135

Contour Airlines to open new aircraft base in Indianapolis

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Contour Airlines has announced plans to establish an aircraft base at the Indianapolis International Airport, aiming to launch operations from the airport on 10 June 2020.

The airline plans to purchase additional ERJ-135/145 aircraft and is investing in the new base, which will initially house two of the regional jets.

Chief Executive Officer of Contour, Matt Chaifetz, called Indiana “a natural fit” for the growth of the regional airline.

The airline plans to create up to 55 new jobs in central Indiana by the end of 2023 in order to support its growth.

Contour also plans to launch three new domestic routes, with a daily air service connecting Indiana to Nashville International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, and Pittsburgh International Airport.

The addition of these routes will bring the total connectivity available at the airport to a record-high of 53 nonstop destinations as the airline plans to make Indianapolis its second focus city.

Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority executive director called Contour’s investment a “win-win all the way round” adding: “Travellers have been demanding drive-market destinations, and we’ve been working for years to bring these to Indy and expand both business and leisure nonstop connectivity regionally. Jobs, a new record-breaking number of nonstop flights, and further proof you can get there from here! That’s a win for everybody.”

With these new routes, Contour will serve 20 routes in 10 states and Indianapolis will become the airline’s second focus city after Santa Barbara, California.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Corporate Flight Management, Inc. dba Contour Airlines up to $1.5 million in the form of a Minimum Revenue Guarantee, meaning the company only earns it if it does not meet its minimum revenue targets for the routes. The IEDC also offered the company up to $550,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. The corporation highlighted that the incentives are performance-based.

Pegasus Boeing 737 breaks into three upon landing

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A Boeing 737-800 belonging to Pegasus Airlines has skidded off runway and broken into three pieces at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. Turkey’s transport minister has stated that their were no fatalities, although a number of people have been seriously injured. This was later revised with three people being pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident is thought to have been caused by a heavy landing due to the wet weather.

The majority of those on board were Turkish, but local media have quoted the airline’s records as saying there were 22 foreign passengers from 12 other countries.

Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said authorities had not yet been able to speak to the pilots, who were believed to have been injured in the accident.

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.”