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Hong Kong Airlines to continue operations after receiving cash injectionFollowing the ultimatum issued by the government to Hong Kong Airlines to find a cash injection to pay its employees by 7 December or risk losing its operating license, the airline has found the sufficient capital to continue operations.

While it hasn’t become public knowledge of where the cash has come from, many believe it is through its owners Hainan Group, which secured a loan of 4.4 billion HKD ($560 million), just days before the government’s deadline.

Hong Kong Airlines Chairman Hou Wei released a statement on Wednesday (4 December) saying the airline would be receiving a cash injection that would be sufficient to keep it running under the terms set by the government.

The statement said: “Following urgent consultations, an initial cash injection plan has been drawn up. Outstanding salary to staff will be paid on 5 December 2019 and our services will gradually resume to normal as soon as the funds arrive.”

HNA owns 24 airlines including Hainan, Beijing Capital Airlines and stakes in TAP Air Portugal and Virgin Australia.

Earlier this week, the group sold its majority stake in West Air to a Chongqing-government backed equity firm in a bid to cover overheads.

Chongqing Yufu Assets Management Group boosted its stake in the carrier from 14% to as much as 70%. HNA had previously held 84% of the airline.

The loan for Hainan Group, which has seen its net debt almost double in the past three years, will consist of a syndicate of eight banks which have signed a joint credit agreement with each lending $71 million.

Media outlet Yicai Global has reported that the lenders include two major policy banks, China Development Bank and China Exim Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and five of the country’s other largest commercial banks. HNA, its founder Chen Feng and CEO Tan Xiangdong will stand as guarantors.

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Model MSN YoM TFHs/TFCs Engines CC OL/A/S AD
E190-100IGW 19000111 2007 36500-17800 CF34-10E51 PAX OL/S 200430
E190-100IGW 19000118 2007 37500-18200 CF34-10E5A1 PAX OL/S 200531
737-300 28669 1997 CFM56-3C1 PAX S IMM
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Model ESN L/E/S AD
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CFM56-3C1 858302 L IMM
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Airline News

Lufthansa Group set to offer extra routes in summer 2020

The Lufthansa Group is set to offer a range of extra long-haul destinations from Düsseldorf in the summer of 2020.

Lufthansa is set to fly six times a week to New York/Newark (EWR) – from 4 May 2020 to 23 October 2020.

The airline is also set to serve New York Airport John-F.-Kennedy (JFK) three times a week from 27 April. In the period between 1 June and 13 September, Lufthansa will increase the frequency to six departures per week.

Lufthansa is set to fly to Miami (MIA) three times a week – Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In the period from 3 June to 5 September, another flight on Sunday will supplement the service to Miami.

Fort Myers (RSW) will also be served three times a week in the 2020 summer timetable – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The airline will also connect the Caribbean destination of Punta Cana (PUJ) three times a week – Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

In addition, Lufthansa Group continues to connect Düsseldorf with the Caribbean destination of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

The flights are operated in cooperation with Eurowings, which uses a fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft with 283 seats.

Loganair to axe jobs with closure of Norwich base

Loganair has announced proposals to close its operating base at Norwich Airport, meaning the loss of jobs.

The airline will continue to operate from Norwich to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Jersey, using aircraft and crews from its Scottish bases from February onwards.

Formal consultation discussions commenced this week with the airline’s 44-strong team of pilots, cabin crew and engineers at the base, with the aim of minimising redundancies by offering positions in other parts of the Loganair network should the proposal go ahead.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “It’s with sincere regret and a heavy heart that we have to outline proposals to close our operating base at Norwich. It’s a hugely disappointing outcome following the tremendous hard work earlier in the year to transition our Norwich crews and engineers to the Embraer jet fleet.

“Formal consultation discussions will commence this week with our Norwich staff. We will be working to minimise redundancies through offering deployments at alternative bases and we hope that these colleagues will stay with us, but it is recognised that some members of the team may not be able to take up such offers and thus sadly some redundancies are likely.”

Hinkles said that a major reason for the Norwich closure decision had been a lack of improvement in passenger numbers on the route to Manchester following the introduction of Embraer jets earlier this year, and that the route was no longer viable. Should the plan go ahead, it will mean the Norwich-Manchester route will close on January 5.

Hinkles emphasised that there were no current plans to evaluate the future of other Loganair bases, and that redundancy proposals related solely to Norwich-based team members.

He said: “It is beyond disappointing that we have arrived at this decision, but the financial implications left us with little choice.”

“However, we  are pleased that we are still able to operate the very successful Jersey service for summer 2020 but do recognise customers will be disappointed that we are unable  to start the new Newquay service as planned for next year.”

Hinkles added that attempts had been made at renegotiation with suppliers, including Norwich Airport, but that the financial gap in the Norwich operation was at a level that such negotiations could not reasonably be expected to bridge.

Wizz Air adds A321; expands international routes

Romania’s Wizz Air is introducing one new Airbus A321 aircraft as it continues to expand its fleet.

The new aircraft will enter the Wizz fleet in July 2020, and will increase the local Bucharest fleet to a total of 13.

From July 2020, Wizz Air will also launch two new routes from Bucharest to Prague, in Czech Republic and Seville, in Spain.

Transavia France set to add 14 new routes in 2020

The low-cost carrier subsidiary of Air France, Transavia France has unveiled its first 14 destinations out of Montpellier.

As of the 3rd of April 2020, Transavia’s two aircraft based at Montpellier airport will propose flights to 14 new destinations, including 13 exclusive ones

In Portugal, Lisbon will gain three weekly flights, from 5 April 2020 and two Faro weekly flights, from 4 April 2020.

In Spain, Madrid will gain three weekly flights, from 5 April 2020. Two weekly flights to Seville from 5 April 2020; and two weekly flights to Palma, from 5 April 2020.

In Greece, the airline is introducing two weekly flights to Athens from 4 April 2020; and two weekly flights to Heraklion in Crete, from 3 April 2020.

In Italy, Rome will gain two weekly flights from 5 April 2020; and Palermo will add two weekly flights from 3 April 2020.

Morocco is set to gain two weekly flights to Marrakech, from 13 June 2020, two weekly flights to Agadir, from 20 June 2020; and Oujda will gain two weekly flights, from 27 June 2020.

Finally, Tunisia will gain three weekly flights to Tunis, from 5 April 2020; and two weekly flights to Djerba, from 13 June 2020.

Nathalie Stubler, CEO of Transavia France, said: “We were impressed by the warm welcome we received when we announced the opening of the Montpellier base. We were eager to unveil these first destinations from Montpellier.”

Finance News

Icelandair enters $35 million loan agreement with CIT Bank

Icelandair has entered into a secured $35 million loan agreement with CIT Bank which is part of a refinancing due to the redemption of bonds issued by the company earlier this year.

The maturity date of the loan will be based on a five-year term.

Skyports raises £5.35 million in Series A funding

Drone delivery operator Skyports has raised £5.35 million in Series A funding.

Jointly led by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) and Groupe ADP, the round also includes significant new investment from Levitate Capital following their seed investment in the company in January 2018.

This capital allows Skyports to continue its programme of acquiring sites for passenger and cargo vertiports in cities around the world, including Singapore and Los Angeles, the company said.

Skyports says the funding also allows plans to further develop its drone delivery business. Building on its acquisition of multiple drone platforms to suit operations in urban and rural environments, Skyports will expand the team for full commercialisation of its delivery services.

“We are delighted to welcome strategic investors with a long-term vision for the company,” said Duncan Walker, chief executive officer of Skyports. “Our investors bring expertise in mobility, infrastructure and airport operations. Their significant balance sheets and strong leadership in their respective markets allow Skyports to consolidate its leading position in the industry in these early stages and through to permanent commercial operations in multiple markets.”

DBDV and Groupe ADP will take seats on the Skyports board. Skyports has the option for a second close in the Series A round in the near future.

Maintenance News

JPB Système announces new Smart Washer solution in bid to improve MRO efficiency

France-based, JPB Système has announced the proof-of-concept release of Smart Washer, a sealing technology designed to improve efficiencies within maintenance, repair and operations by enabling touchless and wireless measurement of bolt axial load.

The company says it also anticipates that the solution will improve safety by providing more accurate measurements while reducing wear caused by the need to manually check each fastener is tightened sufficiently – further improving cost efficiencies.

Importantly, Smart Washer is expected to significantly increase the efficiency of assembly and maintenance operations by reducing the need to manually check the torque level of every single traditional bolt. Instead, in just a few seconds engineers can be quickly alerted to those specific fasteners that are either too tight or too loose and attend to them accordingly.

Further accelerating the adoption of smart technologies in manufacturing environments and beyond, the accompanying mobile app will ensure overall management by enabling the real-time monitoring and full traceability of each SMART WASHER unit.

Jonathan Beaumel, mechanical design engineer at JPB Système, commented: “Smart Washer is a perfect example of the way in which JPB Système works closely with its customers to understand their exacting manufacturing issues and deliver efficiency-enhancing solutions that directly meet these challenges.

“We consider Smart Washer as a game-changing sealing solution that fulfils the needs of aerospace suppliers – as well as other manufacturing industries – particularly those harsh environments where ensuring the correct tightening of bolts is critical. Indeed, it offers huge potential across operations ranging from aircraft and helicopter manufacturing, to key energy sectors like nuclear, as well as the gas and oil industries.”

Smart Washer is expected to be commercially available in Q3/2020.

Technology News

Airbus reveals November 2019 orders

Airbus marked another month of high-volume bookings with new orders logged for 222 commercial aircraft in November, covering the A320neo Family, A330neo and A350 XWB members of its product line.

The November orders bring the overall number booked by the company to more than 20,000.

During November, a total of 77 single-aisle and widebody aircraft were delivered to customers.

The new business encompasses announcements during the 2019 Dubai Airshow, including Air Arabia’s firm order for 120 single-aisle A320 Family aircraft, comprising 73 A320neo, 27 A321neo and 20 A321XLR extra-long-range versions.

Also in the spotlight at Dubai was Emirates Airline’s purchase agreement for 50 widebody A350-900s; along with a firm order from flynas, Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost airline, for 10 A321XLRs.

Other widebody order bookings during November involved 16 A330-900 versions of the A330neo for Cebu Pacific, 10 A330-900s for CIT Leasing, and four A330neo aircraft in the A330-800 configuration for an unidentified customer. Completing the month’s new business was easyJet’s order for 12 additional A320neo aircraft.

Commercial activity in November raised the total number of aircraft orders won by Airbus since its creation to 20,058.

Deliveries in November were composed of 56 A320 Family (55 NEO versions and one CEO aircraft), 11 A350 XWBs in both the A350-900 and A350-1000 configurations, five A330s (four NEOs and one CEO), four A220s and one A380.

Among the month’s notable deliveries were the first A350-900s received by Fiji Airways (through DAE Capital) and Scandinavian carrier SAS; along with the first A320neo to Air Corsica, leased from ICBC Leasing; and an A321neo to Air Asia.

Taking the latest orders, deliveries and cancellations into account, Airbus’ backlog of aircraft remaining to be delivered as of 30 November stood at 7,570. This total was comprised of 6,193 A320 Family aircraft, 628 A350 XWBs, 432 A220s, 306 A330s, and 11 A380s.

People News

Trenchard Aviation Group appoints sales & marketing director

Trenchard Aviation Group has appointed Neil Watkins to group sales & marketing director.

The primary focus of his new role will be the development of a single sales strategy for the entire Group – comprising Aero Technics, Airbase, Servecorp, and Reheat International – and the growth of both revenue and margins.

Watkins will continue to hold his current responsibilities for the oversight of Reheat International, part of the Trenchard Aviation Group and a leading provider of galley, lavatory, cabin and cockpit security equipment, maintenance and repair.

Mark Faulkner, CEO of Trenchard Aviation Group, commented: “Trenchard has made great progress in recent years and has a strong platform on which to build its next phase of growth.

“Neil’s appointment forms part of this expansion and I have every confidence that we will benefit greatly from his extensive market knowledge and sales experience.”

Airbus makes appointments for communications leadership team

Airbus has announced a raft of new appointments in its newly-created communications & corporate affairs function, which will go live on 1 January 2020.

The new communications leadership team will work together to ensure business proximity, reinforcing audience centricity and growing digital, editorial and visual content capabilities.

Maggie Bergsma, currently head of communications for ATR, is appointed head of communications commercial aircraft. In the new communications leadership team she will join Yves Barillé, head of communications helicopters, and Dirk Erat, head of communications defence & space.

Philipp Encz is appointed head of creative core, a newly-created role in which he will lead Airbus’ creative content teams and oversee group-wide internal and external communication activities. Encz joins from Siemens where he acted as head of financial and corporate media relations. He will work closely with Bergsma, Barillé and Erat to ensure proximity and coordination with the company’s three main businesses.

Encz, Bergsma, Barillé and Erat will report directly to Julie Kitcher – executive vice-president communications & corporate affairs and member of the Airbus executive committee.

Finally, Guillaume Steuer is appointed head of external communications, reporting to Encz and managing Airbus’ media relations, web and social media activities.

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Leasing News 

Flydubai announces wet-lease agreement with Smartwings

A wet-lease agreement has been finalised between Flydubai and Smartwings for four Boeing 737-800s.

The agreement between Flydubai and the Czech Republic-based airline will run from 14 December to 25 January 2020.

Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said: “The continued grounding of our MAX aircraft has had a significant impact on our operations with a 30% reduction of our flying schedule … these four additional aircraft will enable more passengers to have more travel options during the holiday season.”

The agreement comes as a result of the prolonged grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX.

Technology News 

CAE and Emirates extend partnership on Boeing 777X training suites

CAE and Emirates have announced the sale of two Boeing 777X full-flight simulators and associated training suites of the CAE XR Series models.

The carrier also has options for four additional training suites.

With orders of 126 Boeing 777X aircraft, Emirates has become the biggest customer of the new upgraded 777 aircraft.

Nick Leontidis, CAE’s group president, civil aviation training solutions, said: “CAE is honoured to support Emirates’ pilot training program as the airline readies for the entry-into-service of its new Boeing 777X fleet.

“We have been partners with Emirates for more than 25 years, and this latest program selection serves as a testament to the value CAE brings to its key airline partners.’’

CAE has won four out of five airline training programs for the new Boeing 777X aircraft.

Emirates’ first brand-new Boeing 777X FFS will be delivered by the beginning of 2021.

Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer for Emirates Airlines, said: “As we begin plans to integrate the Boeing 777X into our fleet over the course of the next two years, we are pleased to once again work with our longstanding partner CAE to provide our flight deck crew with best-in-class training technology,

“We want to ensure our flight deck crew are prepared to operate the B777X variants as they enter operation, and combined with CAE’s track record of execution and innovation, I am confident we will benefit from the best training equipment available.’’

CAE announced in 2017, the sale of the world’s first airline-operated Boeing 777X FFS to Lufthansa Aviation Training. In 2018, CAE sold three Boeing 777X FFSs to Qatar Airways and most recently CAE sold a Boeing 777X FFS to an undisclosed Asian airline.

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Airline News 

Delta and Aeromexico set to continue partnership in 2020

Delta and Aeromexico are set to continue their collaborative investments across the two airlines in 2020.

Under the agreement, the two airlines will align its booking process with the ability to view the product offerings with real-time availability and pricing, as well as choose seats.

The two airlines will also share passenger information to provide service request consistency with aligned unaccompanied minor and special assistance policies, as well as agreed procedures for animals travelling in the cabin.

A joint operations control centre in Mexico City Airport will also provide operational excellence and improved service recovery.

“The two airlines are dedicated to a world-class customer experience and we’ve eliminated 83% of the service differences between us, ensuring consistency in processes and services – which is key to a stress-free connection experience,” said Jeff Moomaw, Delta’s managing director – alliance experience. “Our joint customers can now purchase tickets for our branded products in all our booking channels, reserve their seats, take advantage of free messaging onboard as well as see alignment on checked and hand luggage policies.”

Leasing News 

NAC delivers one ATR 42-500, to MAP on lease

Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) is pleased to confirm that it has delivered one ATR 42-500 to Manaus Aerotaxi Participações (MAP) on lease.

MAP says it intend to use the aircraft for an oil and gas contract they were awarded with earlier this year.

NAC has said it is “delighted to welcome MAP as a new customer.”

Finance News

ACG assigned Baa2 rating by Moody’s

Aviation Capital Group (ACG) has been assigned issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings of Baa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s highlighted in its press release that the Baa2 rating reflects ACG’s long history of profitable operations in commercial aircraft leasing, high quality fleet composition, diverse funding sources and effective liquidity management.

Khanh T. Tran, president and CEO of ACG, said: “Having worked with Moody’s on the aviation leasing industry and ACG since the early 2000s, we have found them to be well informed, with keen insights and intelligent in their views about our industry.

“We are elated to have a Moody’s rating that reflects the financial strength, soundness and security that is ACG.”

Maintenance News

Jet Parts Engineering receives FAA approval on 18 new PMA parts

PMA parts supplier Jet Parts Engineering (JPE) has received FAA approval on 18 new PMA parts.

The most recent additions to JPE’s extensive offerings include interior seat track covers that apply across a broad range of Boeing aircraft, thrust reverser seals for the ERJ platform, anti-collision position lenses and hardware, along with various other parts.

Regulatory News

Fortune Aviation Services forecasts a downturn in commercial aircraft markets

Fortune Aviation Services has forecasted a downturn in commercial aircraft markets will take place in 2020.

A combination of a surplus of narrowbodies and slower growth means it will be a difficult 2020 for stakeholders in the commercial aviation market, including airlines, forecasts Fortune Aviation Services.

The firm said: “While the 737 MAX grounding has mitigated this temporarily, the combination of its return to service and unrealistic narrowbody production rates will disrupt the supply/demand balance further.”

People News 

United Airlines set to introduce a new CEO in May 2020

United Airlines has announced that current chief executive officer Oscar Munoz will transition to the role of executive chairman of the board of directors of United Airlines Holdings, commencing in May 2020.

Current president J. Scott Kirby will succeed Munoz as chief executive officer.

“With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader,” Munoz said. “One of my goals as CEO was to put in place a successful leadership transition for United Airlines. I brought Scott to United three years ago, and I am confident that there is no one in the world better equipped to lead United to even greater heights.

“It has been the honour of my career to lead the 95,000 dedicated professionals who serve United’s customers every day. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Scott in the months ahead and supporting the company’s ongoing success in my new role.”

Kirby was recruited to United Airlines by Munoz in August 2016, after a three-decade career in the commercial airline business. His appointment reflects a commitment from Munoz and the board to preserve leadership continuity and demonstrates confidence in the airline’s strategy and current trajectory.

“When I joined United as CEO, I laid out ambitious goals to build a new spirit of United by regaining the trust of our employees and customers – and I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” Munoz said. “Along with the successful implementation of the plan our team laid out in January 2018, United’s operational and financial performance isn’t just better – it’s better than ever. By instilling a culture of ‘proof not promise,’ we have transformed United even faster than we expected and there’s an incredible sense of excitement about the future.”

Kirby, a highly-regarded industry leader, has played a pivotal role in enabling United’s cultural transformation and successfully executing the company’s strategic growth plan, United said.

“I am honoured to be named the next CEO of United and to succeed Oscar, whose leadership has been truly transformational for United Airlines,” Kirby said. “I look forward to working with Oscar, the Board, our established leadership team and every United employee as we drive forward our proven strategy and focus on being the airline customers choose to fly and return to time and again.”

Munoz will serve as executive chairman for a one-year term and will continue to work closely with Kirby, the board and the United team in shaping United’s employee and customer-centric culture. He will also lead the company’s Board and continue to engage on behalf of United with a range of external stakeholders.

As part of this transition, United’s current Chairman, Jane Garvey, will retire from the board in May 2020 after more than a decade of exceptional service, including serving as Chairman since May 2018. At the request of the Board, Garvey agreed to remain in her role for a year beyond the board’s mandatory retirement age.

The company also announced that Ted Philip will become lead independent director following the 2020 annual meeting of shareholders. Philip joined the board in July 2016 and chairs the nominating/governance committee. He also currently serves on the board of directors of Hasbro, and BRP Inc.

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Airline News

Jetstar issues response to AFAP strike action

Jetstar has issued a response to strike action by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) saying it is “deeply disappointing” that the AFAP is threatening this action around the holiday season.

The AFAP is demanding the equivalent of a 15% pay increase in the first year.

Jetstar has said that the union’s demands would put significant pressure on the low fares our customers rely on and force us to review its investment in new aircraft, new technology and new destinations.

A statement from Jetstar said: “Our captains earn on average over $300,000 a year and we are offering a 3% annual increase.

“This is 40% above Australia’s annual wage growth and consistent with our position across the Qantas and Jetstar Groups.

“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our pilots do every day, but not any cost.

“Strong arm tactics from the AFAP will not change our position on this.

“We will do everything we can to protect the travel plans of our customers and minimise the disruption to their journeys.

“However, customers may face delays and cancelled flights if the union choose to take industrial action.”

Jetstar says it is important to note that less than half its total ground crew voted to take action, and that it also offered this work group a 3% annual wage increase.

China Airlines selects Pratt & Whitney to power 30 A321neo

China Airlines says it has selected the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine to power an order of up to 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

The order includes 25 firm A321neo aircraft with purchase options for an additional five aircraft, leased aircraft from ALC and CALC.

Su-Chien Hsieh, chairman of China Airlines, said: “We are confident that the Pratt & Whitney GTF engines will provide our airline with the reduced noise, environmental consciousness, and fuel efficiencies we look for to support our operation to various destinations in the future.”

Finance News

Tokyo Century acquires remaining stake in ACG

Aircraft asset manager Aviation Capital Group (ACG) has announced that Tokyo Century Corporation has acquired the remaining interest in ACG.

In 2017, Tokyo Century acquired a 20% membership interest in ACG, and later expanded ownership to 24.5%. The completion of this transaction, first announced on September 9, 2019, results in Tokyo Century now owning 100% of ACG.

Khanh T. Tran, ACG’s CEO, said: “On behalf of everyone at ACG, we are all elated, energized and empowered that we are entrusted by Tokyo Century as their aviation platform.”

Technology News

Vietjet enhances safety management with Ideagen

Vietjet Air is to enhance aviation safety management with software from Ideagen.

Coruson, Ideagen’s enterprise cloud-based software, will be implemented as an organisation-wide safety, reporting and risk management solution.

The software will provide Vietjet Air – which carries out 400 flights daily – with safety performance oversight across its operations, delivering detailed performance data to quickly highlight potential safety weaknesses and risks, such as those linked to pilot fatigue or aircraft incidents.

Coruson will strengthen the airline’s safety culture through functionality such as smart forms, GEO tagging and a mobile app for detailed reporting.

Steven Cespedes, Ideagen’s head of aviation, said: “We are delighted to have secured this project with VietJet, who joins an ever-expanding list of clients benefiting from our Coruson software across the aviation industry.

“This project will enable the team at VietJet to enhance their safety, quality, and risk management processes and we are confident that our software will not only meet but exceed their requirements for safety, security, quality, and risk management now, and in the future.”