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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