To bring you more aviation news, Airinsight introduces News in Brief. During December, we compile a rolling story by date with news that is sometimes too small for a deep analysis but still interesting enough not to be missed.
22 – American Airlines has adopted a tax benefit preservation plan that will help it preserve the value of its net operating losses and other tax attributes. The airline says in a media statement that cumulative net operating loss carryforwards exceed $16.5 billion. Under US tax law, the company is entitled to use these losses to reduce future income tax liabilities. As part of the plan, American’s Board of Directors has also declared a dividend of one preferred stock purchase right, payable from January 5.
22 – Wizz Air has acquired fifteen slot pairs at London Gatwick. The slots were owned by Norwegian Air but the carrier has no plans to use the slots itself. Wizz has been eying the slots, as they allow the ultra-low-cost carrier to continue its growth at London’s second airport. Wizz says it will expand its Gatwick-based fleet by four to five Airbus A321neo’s next spring and launch ”a host of new loc-cost routes.” The airline hasn’t communicated how much it has paid for the slot pairs but London slots are renowned for being very expensive.
22 – The Irkut MC-21-300 has been flying across Russia in the past weeks for route proving flights, which are part of the final phase of certification. United Aircraft Corporation said that twelve flights have been logged, but another one from Moscow was seen on Flightradar24 earlier today. All flights had passengers onboard to simulate as realistically as possible how the new airliner will perform in commercial service. The average flight duration was six hours. Irkut said earlier that it hoped to get Russian certification before the end of this year. Aeroflot-subsidiary Rossiya will become the launch operator of the MC-21, likely in August.
21 – The European Commission has approved a €45 million equity investment from the Latvian government in airBaltic. This is only half of the €90 million that the government planned to invest in the Baltic airline in August as compensation for losses resulting from the Covid-crisis. Brussels will decide later on the remaining €45 million. CEO Martin Gauss is happy with the approval, which he sees as a confirmation that airBaltic has suffered from an exceptional occurrence that justifies government support. airBaltic plans to repay the millions when it will sell shares through a public offering. airBaltic announced on December 14 that it will open a base in Tampere in Finland in May 2022.
20 – Norwegian start-up Norse Atlantic Airways took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. The aircraft is on lease from BOC Aviation and arrived from the paint shop in Warsaw in Oslo, where it got a special welcome. The aircraft is the first of twelve 787-9s and three -8s, leased from BOC and AerCap. Coming spring, the airline plans to launch long-haul low-cost services to the US. Norse had hoped to start this quarter but as uncertainties over the pandemic continue will pick a moment when it thinks will suit it best.
20 – easyjet and Rolls-Royce will start a two-year study on industry-wide sustainability solutions in aviation. The airline and engine maker will explore alternative energy and power solutions and their application on aircraft. This includes (hybrid)electric and hydrogen options. The study will commence in January. The partnership is one of many that easyjet has created over the past years. The UK low-cost supports the development of a hybrid-electric short-haul airliner from Wright Electric, works with Airbus on the ZEROe project to develop a hydrogen airliner, and also participates in the FlyZero hydrogen project of the UK government. Rolls-Royce is working on hybrid-electric motors, which it already has demonstrated on the ACCEL. The OEM has an agreement with Norwegian airline Wideroe to develop electric motors for its regional fleet. It is also exploring hydrogen as a future fuel on the UltraFan program, Chief Technology Officer Paul Stein told AirInsight last month.
20 – Qatar Airways says it has become the first airline to trade carbon emission reduction units using IATA’s Aviation Carbon Exchange (ACE). ACE is a centralized marketplace where airlines can exchange emission rights with airlines and other aviation stakeholders. Through the IATA Clearing House, the airline participates in the worldwide CORSIA offsetting program agreed by the ICAO member states. Qatar voluntarily participates in CORSIA, which is a tool to get the aviation industry to net-zero emissions in 2050.
16 – British Airways and Qatar Airways have announced an extension of their Joint Business agreement. The two airlines will offer customers enhanced access to their networks across the world. The extension is subject to regulatory approval, which they expect to receive in the first half of 2022. The announcement follows the resumption of the London Gatwick-Doha service last week for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. The service was jointly operated by a British Airways Boeing 777-200ER.
16 – ATR has received approval from EASA to extend the intervals between Type C maintenance from 5.000 to 8.000 flight hours for all types. This will benefit customers, as longer intervals mean that they can save on maintenance costs. Extending the flight hour regime means that each aircraft is available for three extra days over a one-year period, says David Brigante, Senior Vice President of Customer Support and Services.
15 – The European Commission has extended a waiver of its original slot rules for the summer of 2022, albeit of a revised model. The original slot rule says that airlines need to use 80 percent of their slots at EU airports or risk losing them in the next year. Because of the Covid-crisis, airlines have been unable to meet this requirement. In the past year, Brussels relaxed the rule and introduced a 50/50 split for most of the year. Between March 28 and October 29, 2022, a 64/36 percent rule will apply. Although traffic recovered to some 70 percent of 2019 levels this summer and is expected to recover to even 89 percent in 2022, the European Commission requires the use of 64 percent of the slots without losing historical rights.
EU Commissioner Adina Valean is aware of worries about the effects that the Omicron mutation might have on air travel, so she said that the EC will monitor the situation closely. IATA Director-General Willie Walsh has welcomed the decision, but added: “Until demand growth stabilizes, it is essential slot rules are restored gradually and continue to maintain provisions for reasonable exceptions when conditions change.”
14 – US low-cost Spirit Airlines has taken delivery of its 50th Airbus A320neo produced in Mobile (Alabama). The milestone was the reason for a small event on December 14. The airline has another 100 A320neo’s with Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofans on order with options on fifty more as it continues its growth and renewal plans. The carrier also announced the lease of twenty neo’s in October in an arrangement with SMBC Aviation Capital plus another twenty from AerCap.
14 – The first Airbus ACJ TwoTwenty made her first flight today out of Mirabel. After more tests, the aircraft will be delivered to Comlux for cabin outfitting at its Indianapolis site. This is expected to take most of 2022, so delivery to the first customer will happen in early 2023. During Dubai Airshow, Airbus and Comlux announced that the first aircraft has been bought by Kabir Mulchandani, the CEO of FIVE Hotels. He plans to use the aircraft for private use as well as flying guests to his hotels. Comlux has a contract to outfit the cabin of the first fifteen ACJ TwoTwenties.
07 – 777 Partners, the investment company that owns Flair and Australian start-up Bonza, has ordered another thirty Boeing MAX 8s as well as an unspecified number of MAX 8-200s. The order, which according to Boeing is the fourth from 777 Partners this year, brings total orders for the Miami-based company to 68 MAX. It announced an order for 24 aircraft plus purchase right for sixty in March. Adding the thirty announced today makes 54 while the orders for the remaining fourteen aircraft in the backlog haven’t been communicated before.
07 – Doug Parker will retire as CEO of American Airlines on March 31, the airline has announced. While Parker will stay on as Chairman of the Board, the airline will be run on a daily basis by Robert Isom. Parker has been AA’s CEO for twenty years. “At American, Doug has overseen unprecedented investment in our team and our product and set the standard for servant leadership, tirelessly championing our people and establishing an accessible and inclusive culture”, independent director John Cahill says in a statement.
Isom has been President of American since 2016, knowing the airline and the industry inside out.
07 – Boeing will add additional capacity to its Boeing Converted Freighter program in China. Together with STAECO, it will add two 737-800BCF conversion lines at STAECO’s Jinan site next year. The first line should be operational in the first quarter, the second around mid-year. This brings the total capacity for 737-800BCFs to seven lines worldwide. In November, Boeing announced that it would open three new lines in 2022 and 2023 in the UK and in Canada. This followed on earlier announcements on capacity expansion at COOPESA in Costa Rica and with GAMECO in Guangzhou. The OEM expects demand for some 1.720 freighter conversions in the next twenty years. Ihssane Mounir, Vice President of Commercial Marketing and Sales, said in Dubai that e-commerce is the big driver behind the demand. But even in 2019, so before the pandemic, demand for 737 conversions was higher than capacity.
04 – CFM has announced a number of contracts with Saudia Airlines and low-cost carrier flynas. During a state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudia signed an agreement for 149 LEAP-1A engines to power the carrier’s 30 Airbus A320neo’s and 35 A321neo’s on order. The agreement includes spares and rate-per-flight-hour services for the new aircraft and for 20 leased A320neo’s. Also covered is Saudia’s LCC flyadeal. Flynas signed a RPFH-agreement for 80 A320neo aircraft.
01 – ITA Airways has confirmed its Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus signed on September 30 for 28 aircraft. The direct order is for seven A220s, eleven A320neo-family aircraft, and ten A330neo’s. The successor to Alitalia has a separate agreement with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) for 31 Airbus aircraft, including fifteen A220s, two A320neo’s, nine A321neo’s, and five A330-900s. The airline is looking for opportunities to lease A350s as well. ITA Executive President Alfredo Altavilla said that since signing the MoU, “possibilities for further collaboration have emerged, in particular regarding technological developments in the aviation sector and digitalization, where Airbus is the market leader. All this is part of the actions to achieve our environmental sustainability objectives. “
01 – A new French start-up has unveiled plans to enter the eVTOL market in 2025. Ascendance Flight Technologies has presented the ATEA, a five-seater aircraft with a range of 400 kilometers. The ‘fan-in-wing’ concept uses modular hybrid Sterna engines developed by the company itself, with a configuration of eight rotors for lift and two for the cruise. Ascendance has worked on the concept for three years and has done trials on four prototypes. The company was formed in 2018 by an all-French team that has worked on previous electric aircraft, including the E-FAN of Airbus.