Wednesday, August 25, 2010

China plane crash claims 42 lives

China plane crash claims 42 lives

As many as 42 passengers have been killed in a plane crash in the north-eastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang.
According to reports from Chinese state media, the Henan Airlines operated aircraft overshot the runway at Yichun City airport with 91 people on board.
Three of the survivors remain in intensive care in local hospitals, added the state news agency Xinhua.
The Air Embraer 190 aircraft, travelling from Harbin, the provincial capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, broke into two on landing at 22:10 local time last night.
While the cause of the accident has yet to be established, officials investigating the incident confirmed the flight recorder had been recovered.
The pilot is also believed to be among the survivors. However, he is presently unable to assist investigators due to his injuries.
China Central Television (CCTV) has broadcast accounts from survivors of the disaster.
One male survivor explained: “The plane really started to jolt in a scary way - the plane jolted five or six times very strongly.”
Henan Airlines is operated by Air China. Both airlines have suspended all flights following the incident.
Improving Safety
The accident is the first fatal airline crash on Chinese soil for six years and comes against a background of improving safety in the country.
In 2004 a China Eastern Airlines operated Bombardier CRJ-200 crashed into a frozen lake in Inner Mongolia shortly after takeoff, killing 53 people onboard.
Air travel in China has increase by nearly 300 per cent over the past decade, with airlines seeking to modernise fleets to meet international standards.
In a statement planemaker Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA said: “Embraer has made a team of specialists available, and they are already on their way to the site, to support Chinese authorities in the accident investigation.”
The crash is the first fatal accident involving the Brazilian company’s E-Jet family of narrow body aircraft.
Air China, the world’s largest airline by market value, fell 2.2 per cent to 11.39 yuan in Shanghai trading earlier today.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Passengers stranded following San Andres crash

Passengers stranded following San Andres crash

As many as 3,000 international passengers are stranded on the Colombian island of San Andres following a plane crash earlier this week.

A single fatality was reported following the crash landing of an Aerovías de Integración Regional ( airline Boeing 737-700 on Monday.

Over 120 passengers and five crew were able to walk away from the wreckage following the incident, which is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike.

However, three people injured in the crash - a German, a Colombian woman, and an 11-year-old Colombian girl - remain in the intensive care unit of a Bogota hospital.

Aires president Francisco Mendez confirmed United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are presently in San Andres examining the crash site alongside local authorities.

As a result, virtually all aviation traffic from the island has been suspended.

“The full reopening of the runway and the airport will only occur once the investigation teams give the go ahead to remove the crashed aircraft,” said a spokesperson for Colombian Civil Aviation Authority Aerocivil.

At present only small aircraft and a private ambulance plane are allowed to take off from the airport.

Local officials confirmed both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the crash site.

Aires successfully underwent a routine safety audit in July.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Virgin Blue axes New Zealand

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Pacific Blue, a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue, is axing its New Zealand domestic operations after suffering from years of heavy losses. It will redeploy planes and staff on transtasman services to Australia.

The cost of flying within New Zealand is also expected to spike, with Air New Zealand and Jet Star now the only two remaining domestic carriers.

Pacific Blue will redeploy its 737 aircraft in New Zealand to trans-Tasman and Asian routes. Its long-haul offshoot, V Australia, will also stop flying to Fiji, and instead switch Pacific Blue’s 737s to this leisure route.

The decision to pull Pacific Blue out of New Zealand has been tipped for more than 18 months as margins have been squeezed ever tighter. Last year, Jetstar replaced its parent, Qantas, on domestic routes.

Virgin Blue’s chief executive, John Borghetti, said that Pacific Blue was continually draining money in New Zealand because three airlines were competing for travellers in a country of just 4 million people.

He declined to put a definitive figure on the losses, but said they had been in the tens of millions since it began there about three years ago. ‘‘The prospects of it turning a profit are not good so there really is no point continuing,’’ he said.

Borghetti also insisted that Virgin Blue’s proposed tie-up with Air New Zealand on trans-Tasman services was not related to its decision to withdraw from New Zealand.

Virgin Blue said it would boost its workforce in New Zealand by 100 to 550 over the next six months to service flights across the Tasman and to the Pacific islands.
However union claims that jobs would be lost, and that any new crews would lower wages.

Borghetti said the move was just the first phase of the network review, and he did not rule out the airline flying to other destinations such as Tokyo. Pacific Blue will increase flights over the coming months between Australia and Phuket, Bali and three New Zealand cities.

V Australia’s flights between Sydney and Los Angeles will also be increased to daily services from December, and it will operate an extra weekly service from Melbourne to Johannesburg, LA and Phuket.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canadian airlines rebound in second quarter

Canadian airlines rebound in second quarter

Air Canada and WestJet have reported an improvement in their financial performance for the second quarter of financial 2010, as both are boosted by demand for business travel.

Air Canada – the largest airline in the country – recorded a net loss of C$72 million for the three month period. However, this was down from a loss of C$193 for the same period in 2009.

Passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM), an industry performance benchmark, also increase by 6.6 per cent.

“While there remains much work to do, over the past 15 months, we have met many of the objectives we set out to achieve - namely to build adequate liquidity and achieve strong revenue management and better cost control while expanding our international network,” said Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu.

Passenger revenues at the flag-carrier increased by $256 million, or 12 per cent, from the second quarter of 2009 due to an 8.7 per cent growth in traffic and a 3.3 per cent improvement in yield, the airline confirmed.

A 5.3 per cent increase in capacity growth recorded over the period was driven by demand for international and US transborder flying.

“Asian and European markets in which we added capacity are performing well, led by our Pacific routes which recorded a 37 per cent increase in revenue from the previous year’s quarter on strong traffic and yield growth,” added Mr. Rovinescu.

Air Canada also outlined plans to double its capacity between Toronto and China this autumn with introduction of daily flights year-round to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

The closure of European airspace in mid-April due to volcanic ash reduced Air Canada’s operating income by about C$20 million.

Following the release of the results, Air Canada’s shares ebbed four Canadian cents to C$2.26 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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An improving picture was also reported by rival WestJet, which said net earnings increased 129.7 per cent from $9.2 million in the second quarter of 2009 to $21 for the same period of 2010.

The Calgary-based airline – which has remained profitable throughout the recession - earned C$21 million, or 14 Canadian cents a share, up from C$9.2 million, or seven Canadian cents, a year earlier.

“We are pleased to deliver our 21st consecutive quarter of profitability,” said WestJet president Gregg Saretsky.

RASM at the airline was up by four per cent to 12.80 cents.

Despite the optimism, WestJet is deferring the delivery of three aircraft from 2011 and 2012, until to 2017. As a result the airline will now be taking delivery of six aircraft in 2011 and five aircraft in 2012.

“Economic uncertainty has caused us to re-think our short-term capacity plan,” explained added Mr Saretsky.

“We have worked closely with our valued partner Boeing to further enhance our fleet plan flexibility.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Struggling Mexicana suspends ticket sales

Struggling Mexicana suspends ticket sales

Mexicana de Aviacion has indefinitely suspended ticket sales as it struggles to restructure its debts.

The airline – the largest in Mexico – confirmed it had begun bankruptcy proceedings in Mexico City and New York earlier this week, but insisted it would continue to operate as normal.

However, ticket sales were suspended at 18:00 local time (23:00 BST) last night.

The latest development does not affect the subsidiary Click and Link airlines, which fly routes inside Mexico.

Mexicana insisted it would continue to operate all flights for passengers who hold existing tickets.

“The decision affects only Companía Mexicana de Aviación ticket sales,” explained a statement.

“MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink are independent carriers and will therefore continue to sell and operate domestic flights as normal through all traditional channels.”

The airline also confirmed negations with employees and creditors were “ongoing” with hope of a “positive outcome”.


Mexicana operates roughly 220 daily flights, almost all of them to foreign destinations. However, it remains unclear which will operate following a decision to cancel a number of departures – particularly those to the United States – over the weekend.

An average of 22,000 passengers fly with the airline each day.

Employees have continued to demonstrate proposed job cuts at the airline, with more than 200 pilots and 100 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers union gathering outside Mexicana’s headquarters yesterday.

Many regard the position of chairman, Gaston Azcarraga, as untenable, while there is also anger at proposed pay cuts.

Mexicana has suggested pay cuts of 41 per cent for pilots and 39 percent for flight attendants may be needed, along with a 40 percent reduction in employee numbers, in order keep the company afloat.

The 89-year-old airline has a debt of close to 10 billion pesos ($796 million), and has been hard hit Mexico’s deep recession and a flu outbreak last year.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New low-cost carrier for south-east Asia

New low-cost carrier for south-east Asia

Passengers in south-east Asia are set to see a new carrier take to the skies early next year following a deal between Thai Airways and Tiger Airways.

The airlines have agreed to form a new low-fare carrier – called Thai Tiger – targeting travellers in the region.

In a joint statement to Singapore Exchange, it was confirmed Thai Airways, majority owned by Thailand’s ministry of finance, will take a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, while Tiger will own the rest.

Thai Airways will hold three seats and the chairmanship of the Thai Tiger board of directors, while Tiger will hold two seats.

As a major shareholder in Tiger, Singapore Airlines will also play a role.

The new airline will be positioned to fight the growing competition from Qantas owned Jetstar.

“We believe this move will provide revenue opportunities for Thai Airways and allow it to be more competitive in the region with the anticipated growth in the low-cost market as a result of continued Asean air liberalisation policies, which we expect will lead to growth in air travel in the Asian market,” explained Piyasvasti Amranand, president of Thai Airways.

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The new airline – to be based in Bangkok - is expected to start operations in the first quarter of 2011.

Thai Tiger will operate international and domestic flights, offering short-haul, point-to-point services within a five-hour flying radius of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in the Thai capital Bangkok.

The companies said low-cost carriers will likely benefit from air liberalisation policies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, expected by 2015.

Further information on the corporate structure of the airline is expected to be confirmed closer to launch.

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

BA sinks deeper into the red

BA sinks deeper into the red

After losing £1 billion over the past two years, British Airways has sunk further into the red with a £164 million loss for the last quarter. The flag carrier cited the cabin crew strikes and volcanic ash cloud for costing it an estimated £250 million.

However BA painted a more optimistic outlook, saying that “while some economic experts are flagging the risk of a ‘double-dip’ recession, the steady recovery continues.”

Chief executive Willie Walsh said the airline had seen an improved operating performance despite the disruptions and that BA expects to break even this year after two years of losses. Operating losses narrowed to £72m from £94m in 2009.

Walsh said he saw “positive underlying trends in both cargo and passenger traffic”.

Cabin crew have taken 22 days of industrial action since March and further walkouts could take place from September as the unrest lingers on.

With the threat of cabin crew strikes still lingering, Walsh signalled there will be no let up in his effort to change BA.

“Introducing permanent structural change across the airline remains our priority,” he told reporters.

The results came as it emerged that BA cabin crew was planning a 12 days of Christmas strike action.

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Staff are said to want a repeat of the action threatened last year, which was only prevented when a High Court ruled against it.

Walsh said he believed the ‘final’ offer rejected by Unite members earlier this month still formed the basis of a resolution to the dispute. But he also added that he was confident of running 100 per cent of long-haul flights if there was more industrial action.

“We continue to train volunteer cabin crew and that programme is going very well. I am looking forward to hearing what the trade union has to say in light of the poor turnout in the last ballot.

“I want to reach a resolution but we are preparing for further industrial action. I am confident we will operate 100 per cent of our long- haul services and we are looking at the short-haul programme.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stelios escalates row with easyJet

Stelios escalates row with easyJet

Just hours after releasing financial results suggesting the airline had weathered the economic storm, easyJet has hit turbulence with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The Luton-based airline confirmed yesterday revenue rose by more than five per cent in the three months to June, despite the volcanic ash cloud costing it £65 million.

Despite this performance, the airline has been plagued with punctuality issues during the summer season, resulting in a withering attack from the flamboyant owner.

In a letter addressed to easyJet chairman Sir Michael Rake, Stelios has threatened to withdraw the ‘easy’ brand from the airline as concerns over increases in cancellations and poor punctuality at Gatwick persist.

Branding the company an “operational mess”, the founder – still the largest single shareholder in the organisation – issued a cure notice, threatening to withdraw the brand in 90 days if services did not improve.

Stelios Letter

In his letter, Sir Stelios said: “The result of the operational mess that the company is in is that it has too few staff to meet the number of flights it has sold.

“This leads not just to delays but a serious increase in cancellations, seemingly many at the last minute.

“This is extremely detrimental to the goodwill and reputation of the airline and the brand in particular.

“Many years of carefully building goodwill is being eroded in a matter of months.

“As the owner of this brand I cannot stand by and let this happen.

“This is why I have served a cure notice demanding easyJet improve its punctuality and cancellation performance.”


However, easyJet has reacted to the claims by stating Stelios does not have the right to renegotiate the brand licence agreement over punctuality.

“EasyJet is advised that the brand licence does not impose or create any contractual obligation regarding on time performance and consequently easyGroup has no right to terminate the brand licence,” the airline said in a statement.

However, the airline has admitted to staff shortages, with incoming chief executive Carolyn McCall, who has been in the job for three weeks, focusing her attention on alleviating the concerns.

A shortage of pilots has been cited as a key reason for delays, with easyJet laying off a number of pilots during the depths of the economic crisis and failing to react to the unexpectedly busy summer.

Easyjet said cabin crew headcount has increased to 3,580 for the week ending July 12th compared with 3,321 in the same week in 2009 after a recruitment drive over the spring, while pilot numbers have jumped to 1,793 compared to 1,677 a year earlier.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Soaring demand sends Singapore Airlines back to black

Soaring demand sends Singapore Airlines back to black

Singapore Airlines, the world’s second largest airline by market value, has posted stronger than expected quarterly profits on the back of resurgent passenger and freight demand.

SIA registered a first-quarter profit of SG$253m (US$184.7m) for the three months between April and June, comfortably ahead of analyst expectations and compared with a loss of SG$307m for the same period a year ago.

The recovery came despite the volcanic ash cloud that forced the widespread closure of European airspace in April. SIA put the losses due to the crisis at SG$50m.

Passenger numbers rose by 5.5 percent in the quarter, while the amount of cargo space filled rose from 60.6 percent a year ago to 65 percent. Revenue rose to SG$3.47 billion for the quarter from SG$2.87 billion a year earlier, whilst expenditure nudged up from SG$3.22 billion from SG$3.19 billion.

Singapore Airlines flew 4 million passengers last quarter, up from 3.8 million a year earlier.

SIA said the rebound would continue till at least the end of the year.

SIA said in a statement: “Advance bookings indicate that the year-on-year recovery in passenger carriage and yields evident in the quarter to June will hold up for the rest of 2010.”

Singapore Airlines was voted “World’s Leading Airline” at the 2008 World Travel Awards.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

BAA staff threatens strike chaos

BAA staff threatens strike chaos

Millions of airline passengers could face severe disruption at the UK’s largest airports during the August bank holiday weekend after the Unite trade union announced a strike ballot at BAA.

More than 6,000 workers, including firemen, security guards and engineers, are to vote on whether to strike over a pay dispute. The ballot closes on 12 August, which could lead to a walk-out on the August Bank Holiday weekend, one of the busiest periods in the travel calendar.

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The owner of Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports is embroiled in a pay dispute with Britain’s largest trade union

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Unite, which represents nearly two-thirds of BAA’s workforce, is confident of industrial action after a 1 percent pay increase was rejected in a consultative ballot by nine out of 10 members, paving the way for a formal ballot.

BAA is the UK’s largest airport owner and its terminals handle more than 300,000 passengers per day.

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It has admitted that it would be unable to operate if the staff do go on strike, and would be forced to shut Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

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The row centres on what Unite, which is also the union behind the BA cabin crew strike, described as a paltry one per cent offer from BAA following a pay freeze last year.

Brian Boyd, Unite’s aviation officer, described BAA’s offer as “measly” and “nothing short of confrontational”.

A spokesman for BAA said its offer was “reasonable” at a time when aviation was seeing a decline in the number of passengers.

“Last year, staff accepted a pay freeze, their generosity helped the company, BAA has returned the favour with no bonus and a one per cent pay offer when inflation is currently five per cent. Over 6000 BAA staff will now begin receiving ballot papers asking them if they are prepared to take strike action.”

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The transport secretary, Philip Hammond, said: “We have recently seen the disruption industrial action can cause at our airports, and another strike now is the last thing passengers need. I strongly urge both sides to find a resolution to this dispute so that passengers can enjoy their summer holidays free from the stress and concern that a major strike would bring.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Japan Airlines Shifts to New Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi

Japan Airlines Shifts to New Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi

Japan Airlines (JAL) will relocate its flight operations from Terminal 2 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, to the airport’s newest Terminal 3.

In Terminal 3, JAL customers can check in for their flights at a dedicated JAL check-in island located conveniently near the security screeners and from mid-August*, eligible JAL passengers may also access the lounge of India’s leading domestic carrier - Kingfisher. Kingfisher is slated to join in 2011, the world’s leading quality airline alliance oneworld, of which JAL is also a member. The lounge, designed in hues of red, offers wireless LAN connections, shower facilities and a business center among other amenities. JAL’s top tier frequent flyers who are entitled to use the lounge, may also bring one accompanying passenger each.
*Information of an interim lounge that will be used before the completion of the relocation will be provided to passengers.

The construction of the ultra-modern Terminal 3, a befitting symbol of India’s swift and vast economic growth and expansion, was completed within 37 months and boasts the use of state-of-the-art technologies. An outstanding facility among airports in Asia, its function as a strategic hub in South Asia is highly anticipated. The 120-acre terminal, in which several Indian carriers are also scheduled to commence domestic operations from August 27*2, will enable passengers to smoothly transfer between international and domestic flights. In addition, it is an excellent gateway for passengers traveling from the east of Asia to the Middle East.

Japan Airlines operates 3 weekly flights direct from Tokyo, Narita to New Delhi using a Boeing 777-200 configured with the award-winning JAL Shell Flat Seat in Executive class and JAL Sky Shell Seat in Premium Economy.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Revitalised aviation soars at Farnborough

Revitalised aviation soars at Farnborough

Aviation commentators are predicting an end to the global economic slump as aircraft orders continue to accumulate at the Farnborough International Air Show.

The show – which is scheduled to continue into the weekend – has already seen Boeing walk away with 103 orders for new aircraft, with a total value of over $10 billion.

A resurgent Airbus has also performed well, with the European manufacturer recording 130 contracts with total list prices of $13 billion.

In addition, the European company announced $15 billion of pledges, compared to $4 billion at American rival Boeing.


John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer said: “Before the Farnborough Air Show we already had 131 orders [for 2010], and we predicted by the end of the week we would double that.

“Indeed, the commitments which we have already received here bring our total firm orders this year already to over 260 aircraft.”

Mr Leahy went to add Airbus now expected to meet its target of 400 aircraft sales this year.

Firm Airbus orders at the show came from General Electric’s GECAS for 60 A320s worth around $4.9 billion; from Air Lease Corporation for 51 A320 Family aircraft worth $4.4 billion; from Aeroflot for 11 A330-300s worth $2.3 billion; from Garuda Indonesia for six A330-200s worth $1.2 billion; and from Germania for five A319s worth $372 million.


Airbus aircraft at the Farnborough International Air Show


RBS Aviation Capital was among the largest customers for Boeing, with the group placing an order for 43 Boeing next-generation 737-800 aircraft, valued at approximately $3.3 billion.

American Airlines also exercised an option on a further 35 of the aircraft as part of an ongoing fleet renewal programme.

Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner also made its public debut at the show, following over two years of delays.

The aircraft is now expected to be delivered to airlines – with Japan’s All Nippon first in the line – at the start of 2011.


Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner made its first public appearance at the show

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Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA also scooped 37 contracts worth $1.4 billion for its regional jets.

The bulk of the orders were placed by British carrier Flybe, together with pre-orders for an additional 34 planes valued at $1.3 billion.

The Brazilian air force also stepped in, placing making a future purchase of 28 KC-390 aircraft at the air show.

“The Brazilian Air Force has been Embraer’s most important strategic partner since the company was founded in 1969,” said Embraer executive vice president for the defence market Orlando José Ferreira Neto.

“This announcement reinforces Embraer´s motivation and commitment to conceive a state of-the-art product that should exceed FAB requirements and overall market expectations.”

Bombardier also presented 23 firm orders for its business jets and turboprops during the event - valued at $1 billion

However, the Canadian company announced no regional jet contracts and failed to secure Qatar Airways as a buyer for the CSeries.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Farnborough orders top $25 billion

Farnborough orders top $25 billion

The tally of plane orders by the close of third day of the Farnborough Airshow has passed the $25 billion mark, as a resurgent commercial aviation sector offset severe cut backs to government defence expenditure.

Though the show remains a long way off the record-breaking $88.7 billion of bookings announced at Farnborough in 2008, sales are well above the $7 billion placed at last summer’s sister airshow in Paris.

Airbus enjoyed the bulk of today’s bookings, including Thai Airways making a commitment to buy seven A330-300s worth around $1.5 billion, as well as sales to Berlin-based Germania, which signed a contract for five Airbus A319s.

Indonesian flag carrier Garuda has purchased of six long-range A330-200s, worth $1.1 billion at catalogue prices, to expand its new premium service “to more international destinations in a profitable and efficient way.”

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Boeing’s sales included Air Austral ordering two long-range 777-200s, worth $501 million at catalog prices. Qatar Airways had ordered two 777-200LRs for the same price.

Qatar also revealed that it was taking earlier delivery of Boeing’s 787 jetliner to meet increased demand.

“Air travel demand is continuing to rise in the Middle East and it is becoming clear that international demand is returning as the global economy shows signs of recovery,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Bombardier picked up an order for seven Q400 turboprop airliners from Qantas Airways, worth $218 million at list prices.

New leasing company Air Lease Corp. has so far signed the biggest deals, dividing orders for 115 planes worth $8.6 billion between Boeing, Airbus and French-Italian regional turboprop manufacturer ATR.

More than 1,000 exhibitors from 38 countries have signed up for Farnborough, with delegations from Egypt, Taiwan and Morocco attending for the first time. Organizers also cited stronger interest from major players China and Russia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dozens injured as United flights hits severe turbulence

Dozens injured as United flights hits severe turbulence

A United Airlines jet had to be diverted yesterday after 26 passengers and four crew were injured – one critically – when the plane hit severe turbulence.

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The United Flight 967, which had taken off from Washington D.C. and was bound for Los Angeles, hit a huge pocket of turbulence in the skies over Kansas.

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The turbulence, described as a “huge up and down”, threw one passenger flying into the ceiling, and another into the side of the cabin so violently that she left a crack above the window, passengers said.

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A number of other passengers were badly bruised and left with whiplash, and the place was diverted to Denver International Airport so that the injured could be given emergency treatment.

The U.S. Federal Administrative Service confirmed that 26 passengers and four crew members were injured. Spokesman Ian Gregor one person was critically hurt, but he released no further details.

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He added that inspectors found “no obvious damage” to the diverted plane’s exterior, and found nothing wrong during a preliminary look at the plane’s interior.

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However the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be looking more closely.

Flight 967 was flying over Kansas at an altitude of about 34,000ft when it hit the heavy turbulence. It was carrying 255 passengers and ten crew members.

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One passenger Kaoma Bechaz, a 19-year-old Australian, described the turbulence as “just one huge up and down” to the Denver Post newspaper.

She also saw the head of the woman sitting next to her hit the side of the cabin, leaving a crack above the window, and a girl across the aisle flew into the air and hit the ceiling. But Bechaz said she wasn’t thrown around because her seat belt was tight.

United was working to find flights for the uninjured passengers last night. Airline spokesman Michael Trevino told the Denver Post that a special United flight took off for Los Angeles at 9:30pm carrying many passengers from the diverted plane.

Last night’s turbulence incident was the third this year for United. In February, about 20 people were injured when a plane encountered heavy turbulence midway through a 13-hour trip from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo.

In May, 10 people suffered injuries, including broken bones, on a United flight that hit severe turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean on its way from London to Los Angeles. The Boeing 777 was diverted to Montreal.

Farnborough orders top $25 billion

Farnborough orders top $25 billion

The tally of plane orders by the close of third day of the Farnborough Airshow has passed the $25 billion mark, as a resurgent commercial aviation sector offset severe cut backs to government defence expenditure.

Though the show remains a long way off the record-breaking $88.7 billion of bookings announced at Farnborough in 2008, sales are well above the $7 billion placed at last summer’s sister airshow in Paris.

Airbus enjoyed the bulk of today’s bookings, including Thai Airways making a commitment to buy seven A330-300s worth around $1.5 billion, as well as sales to Berlin-based Germania, which signed a contract for five Airbus A319s.

Indonesian flag carrier Garuda has purchased of six long-range A330-200s, worth $1.1 billion at catalogue prices, to expand its new premium service “to more international destinations in a profitable and efficient way.”

Boeing’s sales included Air Austral ordering two long-range 777-200s, worth $501 million at catalog prices. Qatar Airways had ordered two 777-200LRs for the same price.

Qatar also revealed that it was taking earlier delivery of Boeing’s 787 jetliner to meet increased demand.

“Air travel demand is continuing to rise in the Middle East and it is becoming clear that international demand is returning as the global economy shows signs of recovery,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Bombardier picked up an order for seven Q400 turboprop airliners from Qantas Airways, worth $218 million at list prices.

New leasing company Air Lease Corp. has so far signed the biggest deals, dividing orders for 115 planes worth $8.6 billion between Boeing, Airbus and French-Italian regional turboprop manufacturer ATR.

More than 1,000 exhibitors from 38 countries have signed up for Farnborough, with delegations from Egypt, Taiwan and Morocco attending for the first time. Organizers also cited stronger interest from major players China and Russia.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Boeing and Airbus do battle at Farnborough

Boeing and Airbus do battle at Farnborough

Arch rivals Airbus and Boeing are locked in a battle for orders at this week’s Farnborough Airshow, as the airline industry lifts off again after a two-year slump.

With Boeing displaying its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner for the first time in Europe, the two plane makers will also be going out of their way to prove they have the right strategy for the future of air travel.

Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial division expects “quite a number of orders” but declined to give an exact figure. The Seattle-based manufacturer has already raised its internal order forecast this year, he confirmed.

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has announced an order for 30 Boeing 777-300ERs at the show today. Eighteen of these were previously attributed to an unidentified customer on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website.

“The market is coming back, we’re seeing airlines being profitable, some of them for the first time in a few years,” Mr Albaugh said. “People who haven’t been in the market for a while are coming back.”

Boeing is also expecting a “healthy increase” in orders for the Dreamliner. It currently has 860 on order from customers in 56 countries, worth almost £100bn. These include the launch customer, All Nippon Airways, with 55 orders, Qantas has ordered 50 787s for its budget subsidiary Jetstar.

ILFC, which leases aircraft to airlines worldwide, is the largest customer with a total order of 74 orders.

Russia is reportedly pressing Boeing to deliver 787s to the state-run airline Aeroflot in time for the 2014 Olympics.

Over in the Airbus camp, John Leahy, chief operating officer, is aiming to double the 131 orders it has received so far in 2010 during the week of the show, with lucrative first and business-class passengers returning to the skies. “Traffic is back both in the front of the aircraft and in the back.”

Like Boeing, the bulk of growth will come from the faster-growing economies of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, leaving the US, Europe and Japan to share a smaller proportion of sales.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ryanair apologies to Stelios for “Pinocchio” ads

Ryanair apologies to Stelios for “Pinocchio” ads

easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has accepted undisclosed libel damages over advertisements by Ryanair that accused him of lying. The Irish carrier ran adverts depicting Stelios as Pinocchio, suggesting he was lying about easyJet’s punctuality, and has since published grovelling apology adverts in two broadsheets.

Sir Stelios brought proceedings in London’s High Court over the adverts which appeared the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph and on Ryanair’s website in January and February.

The adverts concerned the flight on-time statistics of easyJet, which had not been published on the airline’s website for 37 weeks.

The two budget airlines have often used knocking ads in an effort to steal market from each other.

Ryanair has also apologised unreservedly to Sir Stelios for including his photograph, and referring to him personally in four adverts.

Ryanair, which creates its ads in-house, has issued the apology in today’s The Guardian and Daily Telegraph, which also includes a photograph of a smiling Stelios.

In The Guardian, the apology states: “Michael O’Leary and Ryanair unreservedly apologise to Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannous, for including his photograph in an advert which ran in The Guardian on 20th and 29th January 2010.

“That advert featured a picture of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannous and referred to him as ‘easyJet’s- Mr Late Again’ and called on ‘Stelios… to stop hiding the truth’ about easyJet’s flight delays and resume publishing weekly details of easyJet’s on-time performance.”

It goes on to state O’Leary and Ryanair will not publish the ad again, and refers to the fact that they have “agreed to pay him [Stelios] damages and legal costs in settlements of his libel claim.”

The final line of the ad states it accepts that Stelios “is not in any way responsible for easyJet’s management’s continuing failure to publish weekly details of their on-time stats.

The Irish carrier claims the adverts were published to draw attention to its rival’s failure to publish weekly details of their on-time performance.

Michael O’Leary said: “We are happy to apologise to Stelios for including his photograph and referring to him personally in the advert about easyJet’s missing weekly punctuality stats, and since he was not responsible for easyJet’s decision to stop publishing these on-time statistics, I think it is only fair and reasonable that we say ‘sorry’ and pay him damages and his legal costs, rather than waste Court time on this issue.”

“Today’s settlement won’t detract from or end Ryanair’s campaign to expose easyJet’s failure to publish its weekly on-time statistics for the last 52 weeks. Ryanair believes they have been hiding these details since May 2009, because they know they can’t compete with Ryanair’s punctuality, just the same way easyJet can’t compete with our pricing either,” he added.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Unite threatens strike action at BAA

Unite threatens strike action at BAA

With the threat of strike action at British Airways seemingly receding, Unite has confirmed it is to open a new front against the perceived injustices in aviation industry with a strike ballot at airport operator BAA.

Following months of negotiations the trade union argues it has been left with no choice but to ballot members of prospective industrial action in a dispute over pay.

BAA has offered staff a one per cent pay rise, with an additional half per cent increase following changes to sick pay.

BAA staff accepted a pay freeze in 2009.

However, the disagreement centres on a dispute over a bonus payment to staff.

During the previous round of pay negotiations, BAA agreed to pay staff a bonus if it met its £1.2 billion EBITDA target.

The airport operator – which runs London Heathrow airport and a number of other properties in the UK – therefore declined to pay the bonus.

Unite argues the bonus should be paid, as BAA fell only three per cent short of the target.

“BAA staff have already accepted a pay freeze in 2009 to help the company, but they are not prepared to accept such a paltry offer this year,” said Unite’s national officer for civil aviation, Brendan Gold.

“We will therefore go into this ballot with strong resolve and a determination to demonstrate to BAA that its staff deserve better treatment than they are currently getting.”

The union will now ballot 6,185 staff - including security staff, engineers, and fire-fighters - at BAA airports including.

The strike ballot will open on Friday July 23rd and will close on August 12th.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ryanair reprimanded over “misleading” ads

Ryanair reprimanded over “misleading” ads

Ryanair has received another ticking off for advertising fares with a number of hidden charges.

Following a complaint from easyJet, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that two newspaper adverts offering £10 one-way fares, but with small print detailing a number of restrictions and hidden charges, were “likely to mislead”.

The complaint concerned £10 one-way fares to Gothenburg and Dusseldorf. The small print said that the offer was subject to availability and excluded fees and charges.

easyJet challenged the availability of the fares and queried if they included taxes, charges and check-in fees or were misleading because the ad did not state the relevant travel dates.

Ryanair responded to the ASA by claiming that more than 10,000 seats were available to Gothenburg and more than 22,000 seats were on offer to Dusseldorf.

The airline said there was no requirement to include in adverts the specific travel dates for offers.

However the ASA ruled in its report that readers were likely to believe the £10 deal was a fixed price, rather than for specific dates.

The ASA said: “Because we considered that consumers would understand ‘£10 one way’ to mean that all flights to Gothenburg and Dusseldorf-Weeze were available at £10, and because we had not seen evidence to support that claim, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead.”

Ryanair did not comment on the ruling, but instead attacked easyJet, claiming in a statement: “It’s funny that easyJet are such sticklers for detail when they refuse to publish their punctuality statistics.”

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Ryanair and easyJet have clashed several times over claims made in adverts.
In 2008, the ASA referred Ryanair to the OFT for “persistent failure to abide by the Code of Advertising Practice”.

Ryanair retorted by complaining to the OFT about what it said were the ASA’s “bias and unfair procedures”.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EU approves AA-BA-Iberia tie-up

EU approves AA-BA-Iberia tie-up

The European Commission has cleared for take-off the three-way transatlantic tie-up between American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.

The EU Commission said it would grant the airlines immunity from European anti-trust laws that prevent businesses from co-ordinating prices and schedules.

Under the plan, the airlines would share costs, but surrender four transatlantic take-off and landing slots.

However the merger still requires final approval from US Department of Transport.

The airlines are expected to start working together from the autumn, subject to US approval.

“We await the DOT’s final decision, but welcome this important and vital step forward,” said BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

Virgin Atlantic has fiercely opposed the tie-up, describing it as a “monster monopoly”. Its boss, Sir Richard Branson, said consumers would lose out.

“We have fought this monster monopoly for the past 13 years and are still resolute in our belief that this decision is shameful and consumers will suffer greatly as a result of this deal,” he said.

In a further blow to Virgin, EU regulators have also approved BA’s merger with Iberia in a deal that will create Europe’s third-largest carrier, and help both carriers cut costs.

The new company will be called International Airlines Group, but the BA and Iberia brands will continue to operate as normal.

The European Commission said it did not have any anti-competition concerns over the merger because the enlarged airline would continue to face competition from rivals, even on routes such as London-Madrid and London-Barcelona.

When the merger was confirmed, BA said the group would operate 419 aircraft, flying to more than 200 destinations, and carry a total of 62 million passengers a year.

India Travel

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dreamliner finally ready for public bow

Dreamliner finally ready for public bow
The oft delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner will make its public debut at the Farnborough International Airshow the manufacturer has confirmed.
Delays – caused by supply chain problems, strikes and software development issues – have pushed the aircraft two years behind schedule, with Boeing losing an estimated $2.5 billion as a result.
While the initial roll out took place as planned on July 8th 2007 the project has since been beset by delays.
However, the American firm is now ready to present the aircraft.
The 787 flight-test airplane, ZA003, will touch down at Farnborough on the morning of Sunday, July 18th and will remain on static display through mid-day July 20th.
The plane will be open for tours on a scheduled basis July 19th and 20th, with Boeing using the aircraft to test and certify seats, galleys and associated cabin safety and comfort systems.
“We’ve chosen Farnborough as a venue for spotlighting the breakthrough capabilities and innovations of both our commercial airplanes and our defence, space and security businesses,” said Tom Downey, senior vice president, Boeing Communications.
“We look forward to an optimistic mood this year as industry leaders meet amid signs of economic recovery.”
Defence Technology
Boeing also will feature an extensive display of new, advanced unmanned systems and technologies at the show.
Daily flying demonstration will showcase the capabilities of the advanced, combat-proven, multi-role F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter, while the company and its customers will also display several other systems, including the air show debut of the 737-based Peace Eagle airborne early warning and control platform for the Turkish Air Force.
Visitors can also expected to see the C-17 Globemaster III military transport; the F-15E Eagle fighter jet; and the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter.
In addition, Qatar Airways will display its newest Boeing 777-300ER.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Walsh guarantees all BA flights

Walsh guarantees all BA flights

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has said the airline will be able to offer all departures in the event of a further strike by the Unite union.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr Walsh said the days when union leaders could hold airlines to ransom were “gone”.

He added: “If in case of a strike 100 per cent of flights will, as we believe, be guaranteed, British Airways will not only not lose money - it will end up saving.”

Unite has outlined its intention to ballot members in order to seek a mandate for further industrial action.

However, the union last month postponed the vote in order to put the latest British Airways offer to members. This ballot began on Tuesday 6th July and is expected to last some weeks.

Some 22 days at British Airways have been disrupted by strike action at the British flag-carrier in 2010.

Mr Walsh explained the airline had already cut labour costs by 45 per cent over the past year, saving the airline £65 million annually.

Combating previous strikes, the airline has retrained staff from other areas of the airline to serve as cabin crew, while simultaneously chartering reserve jets and booking seats with rival airlines.

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Air Iran hit by new EU aviation blacklist

Air Iran has seen the European Union expand operating restrictions against its activities in the latest aviation blacklist.

With the airline already making headlines this week following reports European airports were refusing to refuel Air Iran aircraft, the EU was quick to deny recent UN sanctions were the motivation behind the latest move.

“We deal purely with safety requirements,” explained a transport commission spokesperson, “our controls focus entirely on safety, nothing else”.

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Under the terms of the latest EU advice Air Iran’s fleet of Airbus A-320 and Boeing B-727 and B-747 aircraft have been banned from operations in European airspace.

In total 23 of the carrier’s 62 aircraft are now prohibited from operations in the EU.

EU vice-president Siim Kallas explained: “We cannot afford to compromise on air safety.

“Where we have evidence that air carriers are not performing safe operations or where regulators fail in their obligation to enforce safety standards, we must act to guarantee safe skies for our citizens when they travel.”

With this – the fourteenth update to the list - the carrier Blue Wing Airlines from Surinam has been included on the list of airlines totally banned from operations in European airspace.

The decision is the consequence of a series of accidents suffered by the airline and serious deficiencies revealed during ramp inspections of its aircraft, officials explained.

However, the commission recognised the improvements in oversight exercised by the competent authorities of Indonesia, with Metro Batavia and Indonesia Air Asia removed from the EU list as a result.

The latest developments mean a total of four airlines - Ariana Afghan Airlines from Afghanistan, Blue Wing, Siem reap Airways International from Cambodia and Silverback Cargo Freighters from Rwanda – are now banned from European airspace.

In addition, all carriers from 17 countries – 278 companies in total – are also banned.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Regulators rule out Ryanair’s standing-room only flights

European safety regulators have ruled out changing regulations for at least two years that would have allowed Ryanair to introduce standing room on its aircraft.

European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) regulations currently state: “A seat (or berth for a non-ambulant person) must be provided for each occupant who has reached his or her second birthday.”

Officials have said that these rules would have to be rewritten if airlines were to allow passenger to stand.

“This idea [of Ryanair’s] is unprecedented and unlikely to be certified in the near future,” said a spokesman for Easa.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority added that Easa’s safety requirements include rules on restraint during take-off and landing; restraint during periods of turbulence; the “crashworthiness” of airline seats; and evacuation and flammability issues.

Ryanair itself admits the idea – as well as one to charge for using inflight toilets – was in the “very early stages”. It first mooted the plans a few months ago when it was in talks with Boeing over a new order for planes. The order didn’t come off, said a spokesman for the airline, but it is now in talks with the aircraft manufacturer over the idea again.

O’Leary said safety testing for vertical seating will take place next year. The introduction of a £1 fee to use the toilet will fund the plan

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Ryanair hopes to phase in the perches on commuter flights, such as Dublin to London, of up to an hour long before expanding them to all aircraft.

“We are aiming at starting safety testing in about 12 months with a view to going into service with the new arrangements in about 18 months to two years’ time,” he said.

“We think this would work well on our winter services so would hope to eventually introduce it for a winter timetable.”

Ryanair defended itself against accusations that the two ideas are nothing more than an attempt to seek publicity.

Meanwhile, the airline yesterday raised its prices by increasing the price of check-in luggage for the next two months, from £15 to £20.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Iberia and BA formalise merger structure

Iberia and BA formalise merger structure

British Airways and Iberia have formally agreed upon their corporate structure partnership, in the latest sign that the merger of the two carriers is on schedule for completion by this December.

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The two flag carriers have signed off on a 91-page merger plan document before filing it with Spain’s stock market regulator.

The latest step in the drawn-out process, which began two years ago, follows the signing of a definitive merger agreement in April this year.

Under the structure, both national flag carriers will preserve their respective brands and international flying rights. However they will share a combined fleet of over 400 aircraft and will carry some 58m passengers a year to 200 destinations.

Iberia has confirmed its existing assets and liabilities would be placed in an operating subsidiary called Iberia Operadora.

The main company would then be merged with BA Holdco SA, BA’s new Spanish vehicle, and with International Consolidated Airlines Group (AIG), which will be the holding group for the merger, reports the Financial Times. Shares in AIG would then be exchanged for existing stock in BA.

The document states that Iberia’s right to withdraw from the merger agreement if the final agreement between BA and the trustees of its pension funds “is challenged by the UK pensions regulator or is not satisfactory in the reasonable opinion of Iberia because it implies a materially detrimental modification of the economic premises of the merger.”

The airlines said in the filing that they expected “to present the transaction for shareholder approval in November 2010, with completion expected ... one month later”.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Axe falls on Ryanair’s UK services

Axe falls on Ryanair’s UK services

Ryanair is cutting its UK capacity by 16 percent next winter, equating to 2 million fewer passengers, as it shift operations to its European bases to take advantage of cheaper air passenger duty.

The axe falls across all its British bases, apart from Edinburgh and Leeds Bradford.

Stansted is particularly hard hit with 135 fewer weekly flights, or 17 percent.

European bases in line for a boost include Malaga, where 44 routes were launched last week.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary blamed the UK cuts on high airport charges and aviation taxes.

He said: “The UK’s tourist tax and BAA’s high airport charges are damaging UK tourism and the British economy generally.”

“Independent capacity analysis shows that growth has returned to the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish markets after their governments scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges, in some cases to zero, in order to stimulate tourism and jobs.”

In November, APD is scheduled to rise from £11 to £12 on short-haul flights, from £45 to £60 on flights between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, from £50 to £75 on flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, and from £55 to £85 on flights over 6,000 miles, under plans put in place by the previous Labour government.

In last week’s emergency budget, the coalition government plans to explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a “per passenger” to a “per plane” duty.

APD has already risen by up to 325 per cent since 2006, and leading figures from the aviation industry claim that further increases will hit families hardest and lead to a decline in both inbound and outbound travel, whilst do little to address the environmental crisis.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

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Friday, June 25, 2010

British Airways launches recruitment drive

British Airways launches recruitment drive

British Airways has launched a recruitment drive in an attempt to lower costs at London Heathrow Airport.

With the Unite union also threatening to ballot cabin crew over potential industrial action, British Airways will also look to mitigate the impact of any future strikes.

Branding current crew costs at Heathrow “way out of line” with competitors, British Airways outlined plans to recruit crew to form a separate fleet from those presently operating at the airport.

Officials at the airline hope to take on approximately 1,250 new staff in the first year, with the employees comprising 40 per cent of the total within a decade.

Commenting on the decision a British Airways spokesperson said: “We have suffered back-to-back record financial losses and need to continue making permanent changes to our cost base to ensure our long-term survival.

“It is common knowledge our Heathrow cabin crew costs are way out of line with our competitors and much more than our cabin crew costs at Gatwick.

“We can no longer afford this cost difference.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

IATA attacks German departure tax

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has added its voice to the chorus of disapproval following the announcement of a new departure tax by the German government.

Environmental concerns are being loosely cited by German officials as the motivation for the new tax.

Already branded a “black day” for aviation by Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber, the IATA has called the decision “short-sighted” and “irresponsible”.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani highlighted three major concerns with the German proposal, saying: “It is the wrong measure at the wrong time; and it ignores the lessons learned from the failure of a similar tax in the Netherlands.”

At present few details have been established, but German chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed the new departure tax would contribute €1 billion this year to proposed budget savings of €80 billion in the period to 2014.

The tax is expected to be repealed in 2012, when airlines will be forced to buy permits to offset their carbon emissions.

Wrong Time, Wrong Measure

Mr Mayrhuber explained: “Climate change is a global issue. The solution requires a global approach, not uncoordinated regional taxes.

“What will this do for the environment? Absolutely nothing.”

He continued: “Airlines have an important role in driving economic growth, particularly as we struggle to recover from the recession.

“This is not the time to burden the aviation industry with more taxes.”

European GDP growth is expected to be 0.9 per cent this year—the lowest among the world’s major regions.

Finally, Mr Mayrhuber accused the German government of failing to learn the lessons of the past, citing a decision by the Dutch government raise €300 million with a similar tax.

The overall impact of the scheme cost the Dutch economy €1.2 billion in lost business claims the IATA, while also failing as an environmental measure, sending travellers across the border to start their journey from more tax-sensible regimes.

United Kingdom

The IATA has also been critical of Air Passenger Duty in the United Kingdom.

Chairman Antony Tyler recently told delegates at the annual WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Beijing the governments around the world could no longer use aviation as a “cash cow”.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Record losses at British Airways

British Airways has recorded a record financial loss of £531 million for 2010.

A fall in revenue, industrial action and disruption caused by volcanic ash all pushed losses beyond the 2009 figure of a £401 million loss.

The figure is the worst since the airline was privatised in 1987, but lower than analyst predictions of a £600 million loss.

Revenues at BA were down £1 billion on the previous year, BA said, though the airline managed to cut costs by nearly £990 million - with £600m in savings coming from lower fuel costs.

“Despite a £1 billion drop in revenue during the year, our determined efforts on cost control mean costs have reduced at a comparable level and our operating loss is virtually the same as in the previous year,” said BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

“To be in the midst of the biggest economic downturn in 60 years and produce the same operating figure as last year shows the hard work that has been put into steering our business through the recession.”

Strikes Loom

The annual report comes ahead of further strike action at British Airways.

The Appeal Court yesterday overturned a BA injunction banning the Unite union from pursuing industrial action.

The decision means up to 15 days of strike action could now resume as early as next week.

Strikes to date have cost the airline £43 million, with cabin crew walking out earlier this year in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Mr Walsh used the results to criticise the ongoing dispute: “Returning the business to profitability requires permanent change across the company and it’s disappointing that our cabin crew union fails to recognise that.

“Structural change has been achieved in many parts of the business and our engineers and pilots have voted for permanent change.

Disruption caused by airspace closures due to volcanic ash is also likely to have hit BA financially, but losses were not singled out by the airline.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

American Airlines launches new Manchester to New York flight

American Airlines launches new Manchester to New York flight

Today, American Airlines, a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, inaugurated its new Summer seasonal nonstop service between Manchester and New York JFK and brought a little flavour of the Big Apple to the Northwest in the process.

Passengers departing on the first flight were treated at the gate to a glass of bubbly while also being entertained and helped into that New York state of mind with the presence of a living Statue of Liberty. A ribbon cutting officially opened the new flight before passengers were given a special commemorative gift in what appeared to complete the celebrations before the flight made its scheduled departure. As part of a final farewell to the special flight, however, a New York taxi then led out the Boeing 757 aircraft from its stand to the runway and to the excitement of all who were watching.

Speaking at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3 this morning, Graham Bell, Director of Sales UK & Ireland, American Airlines, commented: ““We are delighted to be launching a second daily flight from Manchester to the US. American has been flying between Manchester and the US for nearly 25 years, which serves to demonstrate how committed we are to our Manchester operations and also gives us the distinction of being the airport’s longest continuously serving carrier to the US. We very much appreciate the region’s support which has enabled us to offer this new service and we believe the new service will prove just as popular as our existing Chicago route.”

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New ash flight rules set to come into force

New ash flight rules set to come into force

New measures developed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are due to come into force today in an effort to reduce disruption caused by volcanic ash.

Following “positive” talks between airlines, regulators, and aircraft and engine manufacturers, the CAA has developed a new Time Limited Zone (TLZ), allowing aircraft to fly through higher volumes of ash for shorter periods.

Based on new research, aircraft and engine manufacturers have agreed it is safe to allow operations in the new zone for a limited time, reducing the need for full air space closures.

To operate in the new zone airlines need to present the CAA with a safety case that includes the agreement of their aircraft and engine manufacturers.

UK airline Flybe is the first to achieve this and will therefore be able to use the new zone from midday today.

CAA Criticism

While all UK airspace is presently open, the CAA has come into strong criticism from airlines following the repeated closure of UK airspace in April and May.

British Airways’ chief executive Willie Walsh earlier branded closures “a gross over-reaction” to a “very minor” risk.

Virgin Atlantic president Sir Richard Branson called the closure of Manchester airport on Sunday “beyond a joke”, while Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said reliance on “outdated, inappropriate and imaginary” computer-generated volcano concentration charts is “ridiculous”.

New Measures

Announcing the change CAA chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: “Unprecedented situations require new measures and the challenge faced should not be underestimated.

“Firstly because the standard default procedure for aircraft that encounter ash, to avoid it completely, doesn’t work in our congested airspace.

“Secondly, the world’s top scientists tell us that we must not simply assume the effects of this volcano will be the same as others elsewhere.

“Its proximity to the UK, the length of time it is continuously erupting and the weather patterns are all exceptional features.”

The introduction of the TLZ is based on measurements collected from test flights through the current ash cloud over the past month, as well as on data and evidence compiled and analysed from previous volcanic ash incidents combined with additional analysis from manufacturers.

Operations in the newly established zone may be subject to time limits and increased maintenance practices.

The new Zone’s area will be established using Met Office forecasts, and will be approved by the CAA before operations are allowed within it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Government calls emergency meeting to avert BA strike

Government calls emergency meeting to avert BA strike

British Airways is in court seeking an injunction to stop the latest strikes by its cabin staff. Meanwhile BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh says he does not expect to make an agreement with unions in time to prevent the first strike going ahead.

The airline is arguing that the latest strikes are illegal because Unite did not follow the rules in balloting its members over strike action earlier this year. In particular, the airline says that Unite failed to follow the correct procedures in notifying its members of the result of the ballot.

BA successfully won an injunction against the planned Christmas strikes in December last year.

A Unite spokesman said the union would “vigorously defend our ballot”.

“We have already responded to the company, and notified them that we have fully complied with the law,” he said.

The UK government has also made a last-minute intervention in the long-running British Airways dispute with cabin crew, calling BA’s chief executive and union leaders for an emergency meeting today.

Ahead of the meeting, the new Transport Secretary, Phil Hammond, said: “This strike is extremely bad news for passengers, British Airways and its employees.”

“I understand how difficult it can be when people’s jobs have to change, but a prolonged series of strikes will weaken the company and put those jobs at risk.

“I urge both parties to resolve their dispute to avoid disruption to passengers and safeguard the future of British Airways.”

BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, said that he would consider taking on new cabin crew once the latest strike was over to ensure “100 percent service” in case of another dispute.

Walsh said he expected 70 percent of flights to run during the series of strikes.

“Resolution is always possible,” Mr Walsh said. He said that “in the end cabin crew will vote with their feet” and continue returning to work in large numbers.

BA is also reporting its annual results this week and is expected to reveal record losses of up to £600m. This would come on top of a £401m pre-tax loss last year.

The figures will not include losses from the volcanic ash crisis, which will be in the following year’s results.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ash cloud forces closure of Heathrow and Gatwick

Ash cloud forces closure of Heathrow and Gatwick

Heathrow and Gatwick have become the latest airports to be closed amid fresh fears about volcanic ash from Iceland.

The Civil Aviation Authority has decided to shut the two key London airports from 1am Monday as a safety precaution.

It follows a day of closures throughout the North and Midlands, rendering much of the UK a no-fly zone.

A no-fly zone was first put in place above parts of Northern Ireland on Sunday and the Civil Aviation Authority later extended the closures, with Manchester, Liverpool,
East Midlands and Glasgow Prestwick, all shut from 1pm.

Air traffic control service Nats tonight said that more airports would be forced to close.

A spokesman said: ‘For the period 1900 Sunday until 0100 Monday, London’s main airports will still be clear of the no-fly zone imposed by the CAA due to the high density volcanic ash cloud.

‘The ash cloud continues to change shape and move further south to just north of Oxford during this period.

‘This brings Birmingham and Norwich inside the no-fly zone in addition to those airports already affected.

‘The northerly extent of the no-fly zone in England now includes Teesside, stopping just short of Newcastle, and tracking north west in a line just north of Carlisle, which remains in the no-fly zone.

‘Airports inside the no-fly zone in England and Wales now include Teesside, Humberside, Leeds Bradford, Blackpool, Ronaldsway, Caernarfon, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Doncaster, Norwich, Birmingham and East Midlands.

‘In Scotland the no-fly zone includes the Western Isles, Campbeltown, Prestwick and Oban.

‘All airports in Northern Ireland remain inside the no-fly zone during this period.’
Flights in and out of Dublin are also grounded until at least 9am tomorrow and other Irish airports have also been closed by the cloud.

Although they are currently outside the no-fly zone, it’s thought Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted in the South could be affected over the next three days.
Forecasters say the cloud is expected to be lying over London by Tuesday but should have drifted out of UK airspace by Wednesday.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vast profits at Emirates despite turbulence
The Dubai-based Emirates Group has reported record profits for financial 2009-10, despite the global economic slowdown.

In a difficult market, the group’s net profits for the financial year ended March 31st 2010 increased 248 per cent to US$ 1.1 billion.

Revenue at the group – which comprises of Emirates Airline, Dnata and subsidiary companies - remained stable at US$ 12.4 billion, reflecting lower passenger and cargo yields offset by increased traffic.

The Group profit margin improved to 9.1 per cent from 2.6 per cent a year earlier.

At a news conference earlier today group chief executive, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said: “It has been an exceptional year of continued profitability against a backdrop of the worst global recession in generations.

“The first half of the financial year however, was extremely challenging as the world continued to grapple with the economic crisis.

“Our pioneering spirit and ability to adapt in adverse conditions helped us to push through this harsh economic climate with an extremely strong performance in the latter part of the year.”

Some 27.5 million passengers flew with Emirates over the financial year, up by 4.7 million when compared to the previous year. Further, Dnata’s international ground handling operations spread to 20 airports in nine countries.

“Time and time again Emirates has weathered adversity. We have operated through regional conflict, SARS, the Asian economic collapse and most recently the global recession,” added Sheikh Ahmed
“The increase in passenger numbers is attributable not only to our position at the centre of the new Silk Road between East and West, but also to our commitment in increasing our network and service standards, during a time where many competitors were doing the opposite.”

Emirates Airline’s revenues remained stable at $US 11.8 billion, an increase of 0.4 per cent from the previous year. Airline profits of US$ 964 million marked an increase of 416 per cent over 2008-09’s profits of US$ 187 million.

Profits were assisted by a significant fall in the cost of aviation fuel during the year.

The airline launched passenger services to three new destinations – Durban, Luanda and Tokyo – in financial 2009-10 and increased frequencies onto existing routes in high-demand markets.


Joining what is a growing market, Emirates confirmed earlier this month it will begin flights to Delhi in July – one of six new routes planned for this year.

The airline explained the decision to add Baghdad flights was made because of signs Iraq is stabilising more than seven years after the 2003 US-led invasion.

The flights are also a possible sign of increased Arab investment in Iraq’s oil and commercial sectors.

Earlier this month, FlyDubai and Qatar Airways said they are considering adding routes to Iraq, while in April Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways began Baghdad service.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BA to operate at least half of services through strikes

BA to operate at least half of services through strikes

British Airways plans to run at least half its flights from Heathrow Airport during the cabin crew walk-out next week.

The UK flag carrier has also made arrangements with more than 50 other carriers to allow their customers disrupted by the five-day strike to rebook.

BA says it plans to run 60 per cent of long-haul and 50 per cent of short-haul flights from Heathrow during the strike.

Cabin crew union Unite says it is planning four strikes of five days each, with just one day between. This could lead to disrupting services for over three weeks.
BA said it plans to fly more than 60,000 customers each day of the strikes next week, adding that Gatwick and London City airports will not be affected by the industrial action.

The airline said it is still available to hold further talks with Unite but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule to allow sufficient time for alternative travel arrangements to be made.

Willie Walsh, BA’s chief executive, told The Telegraph: “Unite’s leaders have deliberately targeted the busy half-term holidays to cause as much disruption as possible for hard-working families looking to spend some well-earned time away.

“We are confident that many crew will ignore Unite’s pointless strike call and support the efforts of the airline to keep our customers flying.

“As the new Government starts addressing the enormous economic challenges facing the country, it is sad that Unite’s priority is to seek to damage Britain’s links with the world.”

“We remain absolutely determined to resolve the dispute and our door remains open to Unite, day or night. It is not too late for Unite to call off this action and protect its members’ job security.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Unite announce further strike dates at BA

Unite announce further strike dates at BA

The Unite union has confirmed 20 further days of industrial action at British Airways in a dramatic escalation in its ongoing battle with the airline.

Following the “overwhelming” rejection of the company’s latest pay offer by cabin crew in a ballot last week, Unite confirmed dates for four strike periods in May and June.

The first strike will take place on May 18th-22nd inclusive, followed by strikes beginning on May 24th, May 30th and June 5th.

Each strike will last for five days.

Unite’s joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: “Passengers and investors alike will be dismayed that British Airways’ management rejected an approach by the union over the weekend, after their offer had been comprehensively turned down by their own employees.

“Cabin crew are left with no choice but to take further strike action.

“There can be no industrial peace without meaningful negotiations and while management victimises trade unionists and uses disciplinary procedures in a witch-hunt”

“The seven days notice period is sufficient time for BA management to do the sensible thing and reopen meaningful negotiations.”

Unite is also intending to hold a further industrial action ballot of BA cabin crew over issues which have arisen from the company’s conduct during the dispute.

British Airways

In a statement British Airways responded: “We are disappointed that Unite, the trade union for British Airways cabin crew, has announced that it intends to take further strike action.

“We are currently considering our response so we can minimise any disruption during this strike period.”

Contingency plans during the last strike saw the majority of the airline’s short-haul services depart as normal, while a number of long-haul services were also able to operate.

Details of the latest pay deal were not given by British Airways.

However, Unite said BA had failed to restore the travel perks it withdrew from staff involved in the previous strikes in March.

Those stoppages grounded hundreds of flights and cost BA an estimated £45m.

Reports have suggested this change in focus – away from pay and conditions and toward mitigation of damage caused by previous strikes – may offer British Airways an avenue to legally challenge the latest action.

British Airways price-fixing trial collapses

British Airways price-fixing trial collapses

The trial of three former British Airways employees and one current member of staff over allegations of price-fixing has collapsed at Southwark Crown Court.

Prosecuting QC Richard Latham told the judge he would offer “no evidence” in the trial, after questions were raised over the prosecution’s case on Friday.

Addressing the court Mr Justice Owen suggested he had considered “whether the manifest failures on the part of the prosecution are such as to render a fair trial impossible”.

The four have been on trail since April.

BA’s head of sales Andrew Crawley, ex-commercial director Martin George, ex-communications head Iain Burns and ex-UK and Irish Republic sales chief Alan Burnett all denied the allegations.

Mr George and Mr Burns resigned from BA in 2006, while Mr Burnett retired in the same year.

Mr Crawley remains in his role.

Virgin Atlantic

The charges relate to price-fixing over a period of 18 months between July 1st 2004, and April 20th 2006, when fuel surcharges rose from £5 to £60 for a typical long-haul return ticket.

The court had earlier heard the four defendants agreed with each other and sources at Virgin Atlantic “to make and implement agreements which would lead, and which in fact did lead, to price-fixing”.

However, the court was told on Monday the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) had failed to disclose information to the defence.

The undisclosed material includes e-mails sent or received by Paul Moore, one of the former employees of Virgin Atlantic Airways, whose evidence the jury was due to start hearing today.

It is believed the material suggested Virgin Atlantic had increased fuel surcharges without consulting British Airways.

Defending of the accused executives William Boyce QC, argued had this e-mail come to light earlier the case may never have come to court.

The four defendants were acquitted by the jury.