Editor’s Comment: Rover’s Return

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I’ve touched on the subject of European Legislation EU261 in the past on LARA’s digital newsletter; thinking (and hoping) that just maybe a bit of common sense will come into play.

It’s concerning the compensation that regional airlines and LCCs have to pay to its passengers if their flight is cancelled at short notice, delayed by more than three hours, or they’re denied boarding through no fault of their own, even if these situations are out of the control of the airline.

Perhaps, I thought, the suits, who it appears know very little about how regional or LCCs operate, may have read my earlier gripe and thought: “Ah yes, we’ll need to look at that ruling.”

Sadly, it appears they haven’t, as the situation got even more stupid this week. Regional carrier Danish Air Transport (DAT) was instructed to pay compensation to Jack the dog, for a delay of several hours to his flight. Now, don’t go assuming “Jack the dog” is some movie pirate, a DJ or a reality TV star, he’s actually a real tail-wagging dog. Which is probably wagging that much more, following the likelihood he’ll get reimbursed his €27 for his ticket, due to the technical delay his flight suffered. Jack’s owners have already received their €250 each for the delay. But it now appears under the European ruling, “anything with a pulse” can claim money back if their flight is delayed.

We’ve heard so much over the years, particularly in the United Kingdom, of idiotic rulings stemming from the European Union as to how things should be run within the bloc. From the height of our streetlights through to the shape of our bananas, the latter must not have “malformations and abnormal curvature” or “children under eight cannot blow up balloons”. By all accounts it’s one of the reasons that Brexit happened, as the UK wanted rid of such silly controls.

But regardless of funny fruit and uninflated balloons, connectivity across Europe needs to be maintained by air. If not simply for business growth. Perhaps it’s time those that brought in EU261 wake-up, smell their EU-approved coffee, and start assisting regional and LCCs for the better. There’s only so many that can be forced into bankruptcy due to this ridiculous ruling.

As for Jack, spend the lot on bones and dog treats!

 

I’d also like to take this opportunity to pass on my thanks to Kimberley Young, our Senior Reporter at HMG, who leaves us this week to take her journalistic skills into a new field. From my first day on LARA, nothing was too much trouble for Kimberley, who patiently and kindly answered my barrage of “what, where and how do I” questions. The office just won’t be the same, but go and excel, you’ll do great out there Kimmy.

 

 

Star Air

Star Air to connect Indore and Kishangarh

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Regional Indian airline, Star Air, has announced plans to launch services between Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Kishangarh (Ajmer – Rajasthan) from 16 March 2020 as part of its regional connectivity aims.

The two destinations do not currently have a direct connection, and according to the airline travel time between the two points will be reduced from 10 hours to just a one hour flight.

“Star Air is the first airline that is going to fulfill the aspirations of millions of people, by starting the first-ever direct flight services between Indore and Kishangarh,” said Shrenik Ghodawat, MD Star Air. Rajasthan will be the seventh Indian state where Star Air will provide its services under the national Regional Connectivity – UDAN scheme.

Due to passenger demand, the airline will also launch services between Belagavi (in Karnataka) and Kishangarh (Ajmer) with one stop via Indore from 16 March.

Ghodawat explained: “For many decades, people of Belagavi, Karnataka also aspired to get the benefits of affordable and swift transportation services to Kishangarh (Ajmer).”

There is also no direct service between Belagavi and Kishangarh and at a distance of almost 1550 kilometres, the airline suggests travellers spend more than a day travelling between the two destinations by bus or train.

“Once this route starts, people can travel between Belagavi and Kishangarh in just three hours,” the airline suggests.

The new services are expected to help boost tourism as Kishangarh, close to Ajmer, is a key tourist destination in India.

GoJet expands fleet of CRJ550s

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GoJet Airlines has announced the addition of 20 new aircraft to its Bombardier CRJ-550 fleet. This follows the airline’s 10-year agreement with United Airlines to operate an original 54 CRJ-550 aircraft.

Deliveries are expected to begin in the summer of 2020, bringing GoJet’s total CRJ-550 fleet count to 74 by 2021. The aircraft is designed for business and leisure flying and has “revolutionised the regional flying experience with enhancements unavailable on other regional jets,” the airline commented.

This extended fleet will serve flights to Washington Dulles and Newark from Cleveland and continue routes to its Florida destinations; Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Orlando and Tampa from the Ohio city.

GoJet and United Airlines launched the first CRJ-550 service in October 2019 from Chicago and recently began to operate from United’s hub in New York/Newark. There are plans to extend operations from its Washington Dulles hub also. 

“United’s decision to add more of these aircraft so quickly after the initial product launch is indicative of their long-term commitment to both the CRJ-550 platform and to GoJet,” commented Rick Leach, President and Chief Executive Officer of GoJet Airlines.

Spirit Airlines Announces $11 Million Operati..

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Spirit Airlines has announced its plan to move more than 240 members from its Operational Control Centre (OCC) in Miramar, Florida, to a facility in Williamson County, Tennessee.

The OCC controls flight operations across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean, where they are responsible for flight dispatch, crew scheduling, maintenance control, aircraft routing, air traffic coordination and guest solutions. The airline aims to improve network resiliency and reduce the risk of hurricane and tropical storm risk by relocating members of the OCC, which is expected to be completed by 2021. 

This project will bring 240 positions to the Greater Nashville area, with the potential to add 100 more over the next five years. Additionally, over 700 of Spirit’s members based in Miramar, will move into the airlines’ new headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, scheduled to open in 2022. An additional 225 positions will be opened to support the airline’s expansion of operations. 

“We are committed to our South Florida community, and Florida’s Hometown Airline will continue to create new jobs by supporting our international network and fleetwide training needs from our Broward County home. At the same time, we look forward to building on our plans for future expansion and protecting our growing 24/7 operation by starting this new chapter in Nashville.” – Ted Christie, President and CEO of Spirit Airlines.

“We are honoured that Spirit Airlines has chosen Tennessee as the home of its Operations Control Center and are appreciative of the company’s investment and commitment to bring nearly 350 new jobs in Williamson County,” stated TNECD Commissioner, Bob Rolfe. 

The OCC move comes as Spirit aims to increase its all-Airbus fleet over the next five years. An order of 100 Airbus A320neo family aircraft is to be carried out through till 2027. 

Egyptair A320neo

EGYPTAIR receives first Airbus A320neo from A..

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AerCap has delivered the first of 15 A320neo family aircraft on lease to EGYPTAIR in a delivery that will make the airline the first to use this aircraft type in mainland Africa.

This aircraft will initially be used exclusively on outward flights from Cairo International Airport but will later be used in many European destinations from 1 March such as; Berlin, Geneva and Paris, three frequently visited cities that will be within the network.

EGYPTAIR has another incoming order from AerCap for eight Boeing 787-9s which demonstrates their strong partnership, the airline suggests. Captain Ahmed Adel, Chairman of EGYPTAIR Holding Company, described AerCap as “a strategic partner that we recognise and hold in high regard.”

“We are very pleased to deliver to EGYPTAIR their first A320neo and to be a part of their fleet modernisation plan,” said Aengus Kelly, CEO of AerCap. He added, “We wish the Egyptair team every success as they continue their journey to achieve their sustainable growth ambitions with the addition of the most modern, fuel-efficient aircraft.”

SkyJet receives ATR 72-500 from Elix Aviation

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The Philippines-based SkyJet Airlines has received one ATR 72-500 on lease from Elix Aviation Capital, with plans to add a further two to its fleet. 

The delivery will support SkyJet’s expansion to increase its connectivity throughout the Philippine islands, expecting to benefit the tourism industry. The delivery comes as the airline relaunches its daily flights to Siargao island. 

It will be the first turboprop for SkyJet. Prior to this delivery, SkyJet’s fleet was made of three BAe 146-200s which the airline will continue to use given the large cargo capacity. The airline will use the turboprops to launch frequent domestic flights, connecting to underserved destinations.

Elix has been named as a launch lessor of the new ‘STOL’ version of ATR aircraft, which it says demonstrates its commitment to innovative projects to improve the complete flight experience.

ATR Avation and US-Bangla signing

US-Bangla Airlines’ to welcome two ATR 72-6..

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Aircraft manufacturer ATR has announced that Singapore-based Avation PLC has purchased two ATR 72-600 aircraft, converting two purchase rights into firm orders.

The aircraft will be leased to Bangladeshi airline US-Bangla with the aim of supporting the growing economy. Increasing its fleet means that the airline can offer higher frequency on particular trunk routes for both domestic and regional flights.

Since introducing its first ATR, the airline has seen positive market response on its domestic network, with Mohammed Abdullah Al Mamun, Managing Director of US-Bangla commenting: “Regional connectivity is essential in Bangladesh and the region. We are delighted that we can offer our passengers the chance to access new opportunities throughout the country.”

Stefano Bortoli, Chief Executive Office of ATR, commented, “US-Bangla are continuing to increase their fleet size, showing the unrivalled performance of the ATR in providing regional connectivity throughout Bangladesh.”

US-Bangla uses its regional fleet to connect all of Bangladesh. Executive Chairman of Avation, Jeff Chatfield, commented: “We are glad to foster our partnership with US-Bangla and see them expand their regional footprint and develop connectivity in Bangladesh.”

The companies have highlighted the value of regional connectivity suggesting a 10% increase in regional flights can lead to a 6% increase in regional GDP and 8% growth in foreign direct investment. 

Regional Express

Rex subsidiary Pel-Air wins NSW air ambulance..

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Regional Express (Rex) announced on 13 February that the New South Wales Ambulance and Pel-Air
have entered into a contract to provide Fixed Wing Patient Transport Services to NSW
Ambulance. The contract has a 10-year operational phase beginning in January 2022. It will
involve supplying five fixed-wing aircraft, pilots and engineering support to enable the
aerial transport of NSW Ambulance medical personnel and patients throughout
regional communities. Pel-Air was awarded a similar contract with Ambulance Victoria in December 2009, and this contract was extended last year until 2023.
Pel-Air Chairman the Honorable John Sharp AM said that Pel-Air is both proud and humbled to
have been selected by the NSW Government to carry out this contract.
“We are honoured to be supporting NSW Ambulance in providing this critical service to the
NSW community,” he said.
“This award is a clear recognition of Pel-Air’s undisputed ability to provide safe, reliable and
high-quality aeromedical services on fixed-wing aircraft at the most competitive prices. We
solemnly commit to the NSW Government that we will spare no efforts in achieving the
satisfaction levels which Ambulance Victoria has experienced for the last decade.”

Regional Express
LARA aircraft on the runway

A4A voice concern over potential tax increase..

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Airlines for America, the trade organisation representing US carriers, has urged Congress to oppose the proposed increases in tax on air travel that are included in the President’s FY2021 budget request.

The group suggest the proposed aviation taxes and fees would potentially cost passengers an additional $2.7 billion per year. This is in addition to the $26 billion passengers paid in 2019, the organisation said.

The proposed taxes are aimed at many security elements such as TSA Passenger Security, Customs Users and Immigration Users. The TSA Passenger Security fee is proposed to increase by 18% in 2021 and then an additional 25% in FY2022, which A4A suggest would increase taxes on passengers by an estimated $618 million in FY2021.

The Customs Inspection User Fee is proposed to increase by 34%, while the Immigration Inspection User Fee by 29%.

The group suggested the tax increases could “jeopardise” the choice, access and affordability currently offered to consumers, adding: “Nearly 90 percent of Americans have flown on an airline some time in their lives, and 42 percent of them have family incomes under $75,000, according to a recent A4A survey.”

“Increasing taxes in any form would burden families with higher costs to fly, curtail job growth and limit air service options to small and rural communities,” the group added.

A4A has also called on Congress to end the practice of diverting security fee funds. Suggesting that “since 2014, approximately $1.3 billion per year in TSA fees has been diverted away from its intended purpose, which is to pay for aviation security screening.”

Airlines for America told LARA in a statement: “We are in the age of accessible air travel. US airlines transport 2.4 million passengers each and every day and travellers continue to take to the skies in record numbers due in large part to historically low airfares. Raising taxes would be bad for travellers, bad for families and bad for the American economy.

“It is unnecessary to burden travellers with tax hikes when approximately $1.3 billion per year in security fees have been diverted to pay for deficit reduction and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund has a multi-billion dollar reserve balance.”

The President’s 2021 budget proposal would also grant $14.2 billion to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including $37 million for targeted investments to improve the administration’s ability to respond to industry innovation, safety and accountability. This includes $30 million to improve aviation oversight following the recommendations following the Boeing 737 MAX review.

Tianjin picks up the tools again

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Following a brief shutdown due the to outbreak of the coronavirus, the Airbus production line in Tianjin, China, which focuses on A320 restarted operations today. Airbus China division stated that it had been authorised by the Chinese government to “gradually increase production, whilst implementing all the necessary health and safety measures for employees, which remains the top priority.”

The aircraft manufacturer said that it was “constantly evaluating the situation and monitoring any potential knock-on effects to production and deliveries and will try to mitigate via alternative plans where necessary.”

Located in southern China, Tiajin makes six A320 aircraft each month, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the global production of the single-aisle aircraft family.