This review was revised 18 October
* items include readers letters
1 FEBRUARY 2010
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AER ARANN has come to an arrangement to operate 12 routes from Dublin and Cork under an Aer Lingus franchise, as already predicted by AERBT. The sectors will include current Aer Lingus and Aer Arann services as well as three new ones. The services will be branded as “Aer Lingus Regional” and operated using Aer Arann ATR 72-500 aircraft and crew. All franchise flights will be sold and distributed through www.aerlingus.com. Aer Arann will assume full operational and commercial responsibility for the services covered by the franchise agreement with Aer Lingus receiving a franchise fee in recognition for providing its brand and product suite to Aer Arann. The new agreement significantly increases Aer Lingus presence in the Ireland – UK market with new services to Ireland from Blackpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster/Sheffield, Durham, Edinburgh and Glasgow in addition to new seasonal services from Cork to Jersey in the Channel Islands and La Rochelle in France. www.AerLingus.com
AIRBUS has increased the list price of all its aircraft by an average of 5.8% although the numbers are somewhat hypothetical as every leasing company, bank and actual airline will negotiate a deal with the manufacturer depending on the kit required and delivery date. Airbus says that the price increase is the first since January 2008, and applies for all new aircraft ordered from the beginning of January 2010. Airbus notes that even with record aircraft deliveries and impressive orders in recent years, the continuing strength of the €uro against the US Dollar and the ongoing financial challenges ahead have forced the company to take action. An Airbus A318 to a fairly standard specification is priced at US$62.5m and an A380 at $346.3. Place an order now for a A350-800 XWB and its yours for US$225.2m. www.airbus.com
BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) and its oneworld business partners are in talks with European regulators about giving up slots at London's Heathrow Airport to win anti-trust immunity for their alliance, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday (29 January). A US spokesman for BA confirmed that the airline is in discussions with the European Commission regarding its application for anti-trust immunity, but could not elaborate on the specific details of the current discussions. "British Airways is very hopeful that we won't have to give up any slots," said John Lampl. BA, American Airlines and Iberia, oneworld members, need approval from European and American regulators to operate certain routes across the Atlantic. BA has always been adamant in the past that it would not give up slots at Heathrow noting that both Air France and Lufthansa have larger percentages of slots at their home airports. www.ba.com
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES is to increase its flight schedule between Heathrow and its New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport, during 2010. The airline will add a fourth daily early evening (departs18:40 arrives 21:40 – all times local) service in March and a fifth flight in October (08:40/12:05), bringing the total number of Continental daily departures from Heathrow to seven, including its twice-daily service to Houston. From June all Heathrow flights will feature the new flat bed BusinessFirst, the latest upgrade of its award winning Business Class cabin. Newark, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, has a direct rail service to Penn Station near Times Square and also is ideal for the New Jersey Turnpike. www.continental.com
BUSINESS TRAVEL MARKET (BTM) has confirmed over 50 exhibitors booked to date at its second annual event, including Accor, British Airways, Eurostar, Kingfisher, Sabre and Wyndham Hotel Group. The Institute of Travel & Meetings (ITM) has become a partner and will be devising a stream of five conference sessions themed ‘Innovation’ that will be open to all attendees, free of charge, on 16 and 17 June at London’s ExCeL. ITM joins the Hotel Booking Agents’ Association (HBAA) and Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) who are both in the second year of their respective agreements. Each is creating its own stream of content for the only industry conference that is open, free of charge to both buyers and suppliers. ITM is also hosting a breakfast briefing on the first day of Business Travel Market 2010. www.businesstravelmarket.co.uk
ILFC (International Lease Finance Corporation) is not for sale according to a report in the London Financial Times. Owner, insurance group AIG, now US government controlled after a bailout, has decided against a sale of its aircraft leasing unit after concluding it would not reap a big enough profit from the divestment of one of its crown jewels. The world’s largest aircraft leasing company was co-founded in 1973 by Hungarian uprising refugee Steven Udvar-Hazy. It has been part of AIG since 1990, has a portfolio of around 1,000 aircraft, and is a major customer of both Airbus and Boeing. Udyar-Hazy, who stepped down as Chairman in December, is reported to be ready to sever ties with the company where he is still CEO. www.ilfc.com
GUILD OF TRAVEL MANAGEMENT COMPANIES new Chief Executive Anne Godfrey, very proudly from Glasgow, led the launch of its first ever Business Travel Manifesto last week. Held at the Institute of Civil Engineers, Westminster, it was attended by senior transport spokespeople from both political parties, and the House of Lords, as well as member companies. The briefing heard the results compiled from a survey of 1,250 business travellers. Whilst a high speed rail network was called for there was much criticism of train (and airport) terminals and the lack of wireless and power points. Low cost airlines were used by 20% of those surveyed. On-day rail travel was criticised for its high cost. www.gtmc.org
Following initial scepticism the inaugural Bahrain International Airshow, held at the Sakhir air base, has proved to be a resounding success for the aviation industry as a whole and for the Kingdom of Bahrain. The show was organised by Farnborough International Ltd.
The site adjoins Bahrain’s Grand Prix racetrack the 3.36 mile circuit currently being extended to four miles in time for the opening race of the F1 season on Sunday 14 March.
The aerospace event hosted 40 participating companies, 94 aircraft and visiting delegations from 25 countries. Early indications suggest that deals worth somewhere in the region of US$1bn were signed at the event with the attending companies from all over the world and 30,000 visiting the public and trade areas over the three days.
Amongst the major deals announced at the show were Yemenia’s (Yemen’s national carrier) for ten Airbus A320s, as reported in AERBT last week; Bahrain’s purchase of nine Blackhawk-M helicopters from US manufacturer, Sikorsky; Gulf Air’s preliminary agreement to lease two Embraer 170 jets; Selex’s award of US$15m contract by the Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority for a primary surveillance radar and two Mode-S secondary surveillance radars at Bahrain International Airport.
Boeing’s announced that it expects to deliver 1,700 aircraft in the next 20 years to the Middle East whilst on the Airbus front the huge hangar certainly helped found rumours of a Bahrain order for a pair of VIP Airbus A380.
Switzerland-based Comlux Aviation Group and Saudi-based Maz Aviation reached a partnership agreement to set up a new Bahrain-based aircharter service.
Comlux and MAZ will base two of their Airbus aircraft, an A318 Elite and ACJ, in the region as a first phase, and by the end of this year an Airbus A320 Prestige will be added to the new company fleet when Comlux takes delivery on it.
''A presence in the Middle East is strategic to our VIP aircraft operations in Fly Comlux division. This joint initiative between MAZ and Comlux follows our agreement for Saudi charter sales and represents a new step for our development into the Middle East,'' President of Comlux Group, Richard Gaona said.
Chairman of MAZ Aviation, Mohammed Al Zeer, said that the partnership was part of an effort to provide close support and services to their clients in the Middle East.
The UK’s Aerospace Defence and Security organisation, A|D|S (formerly known as the SBAC), announced it has chosen Bahrain to act as the central hub for the Middle East. Gulf Aviation Academy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, was launched and will play a key role in the development of Bahrain's air transport training and infrastructure.
Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee, HH Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa said:
“We are delighted by the results of the first Bahrain International Airshow. The show brought manufacturers and users under the same roof enabling them to do business effectively and uniquely, reflecting Bahrain's status as a regional centre for transport and trade. The strong presence of the leading aerospace and defence manufacturers signalled the inaugural show’s success and reflected Bahrain’s status as a pioneer in the aerospace industry in the Middle East. The airshow is a welcome boost to Bahrain’s economy and to its profile as a business centre in the region.”
Sir Roger Bone has been President of Boeing UK since 2005. Fluent in French, Swedish, Russian and Portuguese, Sir Roger has worked around the globe. Prior to serving as British Ambassador in Brazil and Sweden, he was Political Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington DC. He was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and served as a Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary (Francis Pym and then Sir Geoffrey Howe) between 1982 and 1984. He was an Assistant Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office between 1991 and 1995.
“Boeing is a world leader in aerospace and has been for 75 years. What is possibly not completely apparent, and something we are very proud of, is that Boeing is truly international, the products completed in our US factories the results of collaboration from partners all over the globe.
Britain has been to the forefront of this partnership and I say to UK industry and research, get out and sell yourself around the world. Boeing is happy to demonstrate the results of co-operation, much of which goes back many years. Typically Boeing has been Rolls-Royce powered since the start of the jet age.
The development of the 787 Dreamliner has been a 24/7 international programme. When a Rolls-Royce Dreamliner takes to the skies around 25% of the value of the aircraft is British.
But that is just the tip of a British iceberg, if I can use that word, although the largest in pure monetary value. Whilst Boeing has many long established relationships with the UK's aerospace industry, it is through the 787 programme that pioneering new systems and technologies have been developed with the vital contribution of partners here. The scientific and industrial capability that has been applied to the Dreamliner spans a broad range of technologies including aerodynamics, composites, control surfaces, electronics, machining, fuel systems and simulation.
Whilst Rolls-Royce lead with the engines for the Dreamliner it is companies such as Goodrich in Wolverhampton, that produce vital parts. The nacelle thrust reverser actuation system and the engine maintenance door opening system for the aircraft is an example. It is unique in that it is the first commercial system to operate with a 5,000psi hydraulic supply and it is also the fastest moving commercial thrust reverser actuation system ever produced. Elements of the fuel system are being manufactured by Eaton Aerospace in Bournemouth and Claverham near Bristol.
GKN and Ultra electronics are responsible for the wing ice protection system at Luton and Greenford. The highly innovative arrangement works by embedding electro-thermal heater mats into the surface to be protected. This is the first time that such technology has been deployed on a commercial aircraft.
QinetiQ in Farnborough has played a key role in the aerodynamic performance of the 787. Stability, control and noise characteristic tests made an important contribution to aerodynamic design. The long-term partnership between Boeing and QinetiQ safeguards jobs in Farnborough and sustains one of only three large-scale pressurised wind tunnels in the world.
B/E Aerospace in Newry is one of the selected Business Class seat suppliers and Ipeco in Southend is providing flight deck seating.
Boeing Training and Flight Services facility in Crawley will be the European flight and maintenance training centre to the Dreamliner. The simulators are being built a short distance from Boeing in Crawley by Thales UK.
Significant weight savings for 787 come from Messier-Dowty and a new Titanium alloy. The 787 landing gear benefits from new materials forming processes developed by the AMRC and further benefits in supply chain have spread across the UK to companies such as Corus in Sheffield. The actuation systems for the nose and main gear systems are also being produced by GE Aviation.
One key attribute of the 787 will be the superior ride quality that stems from its gust suppression system. Important to this system are the control surfaces of which the high lift actuation system is being manufactured in Wolverhampton. Its primary function is to deploy the flap and slat to provide additional lift during take off and landing phases of aircraft operations.
In Cheltenham, GE Aviation Systems Division has developed the common core system that acts like the aeroplane's central nervous system. This system alone will save thousands of pounds in weight.
In the world of research Britain has been to the forefront in supporting Boeing’s
efforts led by the Universities of Cranfield, Cambridge, and by no means least, Sheffield.
Some may recall many years ago an exodus of engineers from the then de Havilland to Seattle. Times have moved on. The Brits stay in Britain but are still a very important part of the Boeing infrastructure. My plea is “tell the world what you are doing.” Boeing is more than pleased to substantiate your efforts."
Sir Roger Bone
AIR ASIA X, the long haul arm of Malaysian budget carrier, used the Singapore Low Cost Airlines Asia conference last week to announce the introduction of fully-flat beds on its fleet of long haul Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. Introduced on the Kuala Lumpur to Australia’s Gold Coast service, by mid year the new product should also be offered on the London services too. 12 lie-flat seats with 60 inch pitch in a 2 x 2 x 2 layout, two rows of six, replace 28 premium seats at 38 inch seat pitch. The offering will not include in-seat entertainment, said by the airline to be “a bit over-rated” stating that “people carry their own entertainment now”. However power sockets will enabling passengers to plug in their PSPs, I-phones or other electronic devices are provided as are portable DVD players. A full report on the Singapore Low Cost Airlines Asia conference will appear next week. www.airasia.com
IATA has reported airline figures that show the largest ever post-war decline in both passenger and freight numbers. Passenger demand for the full year was down 3.5% with an average load factor of 75.6%. Freight showed a full-year drop of 10.1%. In fact the December figures were a little more encouraging with the overall international demand improving 4.5% compared to December 2008, with a load factor of 77.6%. While this is an 8.4% demand improvement from the February 2009 low point, it is still 3.4% below the early 2008 peak. For the full December traffic results see www.iata.org/pressroom
ETHIOPIA suffered an airline disaster on the evening of Sunday 21 January, a Boeing 737-800 of the country’s national airline went into the sea during a severe rainstorm just after take-off from Beirut. There were no survivors. The fight data recorders have been located at a depth of approximately 1300m. At least 32 bodies have been recovered from the area by the search teams who include Lebanese naval personnel, members of the UN Interim Force in the Lebanon, the USS Ramage and a Cypriot vessel that has sonar equipment on board. The aircraft was originally owned by Ryanair. www.ethiopianairlines.com
COVENTRY AIRPORT has a potential purchaser. Closed just before Christmas due to the insolvency of the leaseholder, West Midlands International Airport Ltd, several companies were known to be considering a bid for the airport whose tenants include Air Atlantique Classic Flight and cargo airline West Atlantic. ADP, a Swiss concern ultimately owned by a subsidiary of Westcore Properties, a leading commercial real estate and public infrastructure investment company headquartered in San Diego (USA), is now undertaking “due diligence” with a 15 March target date. The freehold of the airport is held by Coventry City Council, whilst most of the site comes under the jurisdiction of Warwickshire Country Council. www.coventryairport.co.uk
FLYBE, which is 15% owned by British Airways, made a profit of £12.8m (2007/08: £35.4m) in the year until 31 March2009. It was a fine achievement in a 12 months which included the height of the global downturn in the world’s financial markets, the spike in oil prices and the onset of global economic recession. Turnover grew 6.8% to £572.4m and passenger volume was a record breaking 7.3m. Most interesting was a growth of ancillary revenue by 30% including income from advanced seat assignment and financial services. It was the first year of Loganair operating under the Flybe brand and also saw the integration of the BA Connect business, realising substantive synergies in overhead and maintenance rationalisation, while enjoying the full economic benefits of substituting 50-seat jets with Flybe’s preferred 78-seat Q400 product. No indication was made regarding Flybe’s known interest in an IPO but in a statement the airline points out that no new aircraft need to be financed until 2011. www.flybe.com
LONDON VISITORS, and for that matter Londoners too, should be aware that the whole transport system is undergoing a major refurbishment which will not be actually fully complete until Crossrail is opened in 2017. Transport for London (TfT) publishes a regular update on weekend closures. This now comes out ten days in advance and is worthwhile looking at if you are planning to travel on a Saturday or Sunday within the Metropolis. For the coming weekend neither the Docklands Light Railway nor London Tramlink has any planned work. The Bakerloo line will be suspended on Sunday between Queen's Park and Harrow & Wealdstone due to Network Rail engineering work. Replacement buses will operate, calling at Queen's Park, Kensal Green, Willesden Junction, Harlesden, Stonebridge Park, Wembley Central, North Wembley, South Kenton, Kenton, Harrow & Wealdstone. The Circle Line is completely suspended all weekend due to track replacement work. Passengers should use alternative Underground or local bus services. Also suspended is the District Line between Tower Hill and Upminster due to signalling and track replacement work. www.tfl.gov.uk
WHEELTUG, with partner Co-Operative Industries, says that it has successfully completed an Electrical Load Measurement (ELM) development test on a Boeing B737NG. The tests confirm sufficient power is available to operate the front nose wheel located electric drive system. There had been some industry speculation about whether the current B737NG APU could provide adequate electrical capacity during taxi to maintain normal aeroplane ground speed and operations. It uses power from the aircraft onboard Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The resulting improvements in efficiency, flexibility, fuel savings and reduced maintenance yield savings is projected to be in the order of US$500,000 per aircraft per year. WheelTug and Delta Air Lines entered into an agreement in 2007 in which the airline is assisting WheelTug in developing the system as the launch customer for the 737NG kit. www.wheeltug.gi
A father, who worked away from home all week, always made a special effort with his family at the weekends. Every Sunday morning he would take his young daughter out for a drive in the car.
One particular Sunday however, he was so full of cold that he really didn't feel like driving at all. Luckily, his wife came to the rescue and decided that for this week she would drive.
They returned just before lunch and the little girl ran upstairs to see her father.
"Well," the father asked, "did you enjoy your ride with mummy?"
"Oh yes Daddy," she replied, "and do you know what... we didn't see a single bastard!"
AERBT has won the “Conservatives for International Travel – Advocate of the Year” for what the lobby group describes “with one of the best travel news digests on the web. The information, content and comment provided by AERBT is second to none, being user-friendly, informative and interesting, added to a steadfast and non-nonsense approach to supporting the travel industry”. AERBT is in exalted company with Boris Johnson taking “Politician of the Year”, London City “UK Airport of the Year” award and Air New Zealand the “Foreign Airline of the Year” honour. http://c-fit.org.uk/news/35
AIR NEW ZEALAND is to offer flat beds in Economy on its new fleet of Boeing 777-300ER, which is being rolled out this November. The so-called “Skycouch” is made up of three standard seats that can be changed into a single, horizontal space by removing arm rests and covering over the footwell, although the seats just recline the normal 15 degrees. Dubbed “Cuddle Class”, it is being pitched at couples and families with young children. Passengers would need to buy the three seats together, and pay the full price for two economy seats and half price for the third. www.airnewzealand.com
ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA), which is the lead airline for the Boeing 787, says it will receive its first aircraft during the October-December quarter, with another seven by the end of the fiscal year 31 March 2011. Out go three Boeing 747-400s, two 767-300ERs, one Airbus A320-200 and one Boeing 737-500 replaced by four Boeing 777-300ERs, five 767-300ERs, two 767-300BCFs, five 767-800s and one Bombardier Q400 turboprop. New during 2010 are a daily Tokyo Narita – Munich service using Boeing 777-300ERs from 1 July, and twice-daily Tokyo Haneda – Taipei Songshan from 31 October using 767-300ERs. In terms of capacity, domestic ASKs will fall 3.7% from the previous fiscal year, while international capacity will increase 11.2%. Cargo capacity will rise 21.1%, says the airline. www.ana.co.jp
BOEING celebrated the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner and continued excellent progress of the aircraft with a reception for its suppliers and associates at the Royal Aeronautical Society headquarters last week. The prestigious building, just by the Intercontinental in London’s Park Lane, offered a fine platform for UK President Sir Roger Bone to thank all the British companies involved in the project. Introduced by Sir Roger a number of suppliers made presentations including Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, Cranfield University, and perhaps most interesting of all Sheffield University’s AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre), a partnership of companies and now a world leader in the aerospace supply chain. www.amrc.co.uk www.rolls-royce.com/civil www.gknaerospace.com www.cranfield.ac.uk/aerospace
DELTA AIR LINES intends to invest US$1bn over the next three years on a wide range of measures designed "to improve the customer experience in the air and on the ground," including new Business Class seats on 90 Boeing wide bodies. Called "the most significant investment we have made in our customers in more than a decade," by CEO Richard Anderson, the upgrade will be anchored by installation of new lie-flat seats in the BusinessElite cabins on 14 767-400ERs, 52 767-300ERs, 16 747-400s and eight 777-200ERs. In a long statement the airline did not mention the order for 18 787s inherited in its acquisition of Northwest Airlines. A First Class cabin will be added to 66 CRJ700s operated by Delta Connection affiliates SkyWest Airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Comair, bringing to 219 the number of regional aircraft offering the product. www.delta.com
HIGHLAND AIRWAYS, the Inverness based regional operator, has put out a statement explaining that the company has been facing difficult trading, most recently exacerbated by the severe winter, and resultant reduced flying and reduced income. As well as charter work for the oil industry and some of the countries leading industrial companies the airline undertakes PSO (public service obligations) services to the Outer Hebrides from Inverness, from Oban, and the Cardiff to Anglesey airlink. Having closed its internet booking facility and only taking bookings on the day (a very honourable step – editor) , it is now accepting reservations on all scheduled flights until the end of February. Bookings beyond that point are not currently open, but will be released as soon as possible. The company says that it recognises the requirement of a new partner to stabilise its position and allow it to develop into the future and is making good progress in that respect. www.highlandairways.co.uk
STANSTED has today (1 February) a new lounge specially designed for passengers departing on Ryanair international flights. No 1 Traveller (Background Aviation Ltd) is already established at Stansted Airport in the former facility of Maxjet in Satellite 1 and also at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal on the mezzanine level by Frankie & Benny's. Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport New York has a facility too. The Stansted lounge, which costs £17.50 per visit, has a bistro, fully-tended bar andand what the company calls " business support facilities" – printing, fax and scanning facilities are available. It also offers free UK landline calls, free wi-fi internet access, newspapers, magazines, board games and televisions to watch. The lounge is located opposite Gate 49 on Satellite 3. www.No1Traveller.com
JOHN POINTER has died at the age of 78. Whilst his name will be known to a younger generation as a PR man acting for amongst others Mexicana, Middle East Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Sabena, it will be for Interline News, which quickly became Air & Business Travel News (ABTN), that he will be best known. In the days of the printed media the fortnightly paper was a must for what was going on in the industry, and for jobs. John started as a local paper journalist and joined the fledgling TTG in the early sixties. A spell in New York prompted him to become a journalist/publisher, together with his wife Dorothy. John sold ABTN in 1990 it then being purchased by Malcolm Ginsberg in 1993. Always a fountain of knowledge, and active in spite of a quad heart bypass, he will be sadly missed. Our condolences to his wife Dorothy, his daughter Victoria and granddaughters Emma and Sophie.