To bring you more aviation news, Airinsight introduces News in Brief. During November, 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.
30 – Australia will extend a domestic aviation support scheme to February 2022, after the country opted to temporarily pause plans to further ease its border restrictions. The scheme, known as Tourism Aviation Network Support, would provide cheaper airfare for domestic air travel. It was first launched in March 2021 and saw several extensions. In a statement, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says the scheme has provided Australians “access to 800,000” half-priced airfares to 15 key tourism regions. He notes the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the aviation industry, with border closures and health safety measures limiting air travel. Since the start of the pandemic, the Australian government has provided “more than A$5.3 billion” in assistance to the country’s aviation sector. (Firdaus Hashim).
26 – Garuda Indonesia and Singapore Airlines (SIA) signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a wide-ranging commercial partnership. Similar to what SIA has with Malaysia Airlines, the relationship would cover the alignment of frequent flyer programs, joint marketing activities, and initiatives to promote inbound tourism into Indonesia. Both sides have also agreed to explore new opportunities in the air cargo segment, and cooperation in the MRO business. Both Garuda and SIA resumed their air connectivity partnership agreement on 1 October, covering flights from Singapore to London and points in Indonesia, and that Garuda will codeshare on SIA-operated flights to Mumbai on 1 January 2022. (Firdaus Hashim)
26 – Vietjet Air and Swiss MRO provider SR Technics have signed a memorandum of understanding valued at $150 million. The pact would see SR Technics provide MRO services to Vietjet’s CFM56-5B engines installed on the carrier’s Airbus A320 and A321 fleet at SR Technics’ facility at Zurich Airport. In addition to the engine MRO services, the pact would also cover technical and training services, component requirements, and repair, as well as the establishment of a new aviation training center through a joint venture between Vietjet air SR Technics. “I look forward to visiting the new aviation training center which will be built in Ho Chi Minh City in collaboration with our renowned Vietnamese partner,” says SR Technics’ chief executive Jean-Marc Lenz. (Firdaus Hashim)
24 – Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet resumed operating Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with a “special flight” conducted on 24 November between New Delhi and Gwalior. Chairman and managing director, Ajay Singh, was quoted in an Economic Times report that out of the 13 grounded 737 Max jets, two have undergone recertification, and the remaining 11 will complete recertification over a two-week period. The resumption of SpiceJet’s 737 Max operations comes three months after India’s directorate general of civil aviation issued an order permitting the aircraft to operate within India and to overfly the country. (Firdaus Hashim)
18 – Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines announced that both carriers are to resume their codeshare arrangement between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and to expand the codeshare to cover 15 Malaysian destinations starting 29 November, and nine European and African destinations on 1 January 2022. This builds on a wide-ranging commercial agreement signed by the two carriers in 2019, covering codeshare, coordinated flight schedules, joint fare products, aligning corporate programs, and potential tie-ups between their respective frequent flyer programs. The codeshare resumption and expansion comes after Singapore and Malaysia agreed to launch vaccinated travel lanes between the two countries on 29 November. (Firdaus Hashim)
17 – Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet has entered into a settlement agreement with Boeing on the 737 MAX aircraft. In a 17 November stock exchange disclosure, SpiceJet says “Boeing has agreed to provide certain accommodations and settle the outstanding claims related to the grounding of 737 MAX aircraft and its return to service.” While SpiceJet did not specify the “accommodations” or amount of claims that were settled with Boeing, this would allow the carrier to resume deliveries of the aircraft. SpiceJet’s website states it operates 13 737 MAX, while Boeing’s orders and deliveries page shows that up to 31 October 2021, the carrier has 129 737 MAX yet to be delivered. (Firdaus Hashim).
16 – Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled a new cabin product for its Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The aircraft will feature 154 seats: 10 full-flat business class seats manufactured by Thompson Aero Seating, and 144 economy class seats manufactured by Collins Aerospace. SIA says it has invested around S$ 230 million on the development, design, and installation of the new products, and that the aircraft will be deployed on short-haul and medium-haul services within Asia-Pacific. (Firdaus Hashim)
12 – Scoot, the low-cost arm of Singapore Airlines, will start flights to London’s Gatwick airport on 16 December, where it will operate a Singapore-Bangkok-London Gatwick service. The flights will be flown on a thrice-weekly basis with Boeing 787s. Scoot’s chief executive Campbell Wilson says the gradual reopening of international borders has given “new opportunities for airlines and travelers alike.” With quarantine-free travel now permitted between the United Kingdom and Thailand, Scoot will be the only low-cost operator between Bangkok and London. (Firdaus Hashim)
12 – Lufthansa has repaid the last €1.0 billion in state aid it received last year to help the airline survive the Covid-crisis. It said today that the last tranche of the so-called Participation 2 has been repaid to the Economic Stabilization Fund. In October, Lufthansa repaid €1.5 billion of Silent Participation 1. All undrawn funds have been canceled. Including another €1.0 billion loan repaid to investment bank KfW last February, the German carrier no longer has any obligations now to the government. It is the first European airline that has repaid all its Covid-aid, thanks to the quicker than expected recovery of air travel, notably leisure travel. Also, the German airline was successful in raising fresh funds on the capital markets. ESF has now to sell its fourteen percent minority share in Lufthansa no later than by October 2023.
12 – Airlines 4 Europe, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), and other stakeholders have called on world leaders at the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow to adopt Europe’s Destination 2050 decarbonization roadmap at next year’s ICAO annual general meeting. All member states have to decide here on a joint strategy to get aviation to net-zero in 2050, which includes the adoption of offsetting schemes like Corsia, a drastic ramp-up of the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), preparing for the introduction of synthetic fuels and hydrogen, while also making maximum use of improvements in air traffic management. Earlier this week, countries at COP26 formed a new International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition. The coalition should bring aviation emissions in line with the target to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius. At their AGM in Doha, the Arab Air Carriers Association called on Europe not to impose unilateral initiatives that contravene with ICAO’s strategy on emission reductions.
12 – Japanese low-cost and JAL subsidiary ZIPAIR will launch long-haul services between Tokyo Narita and Los Angeles from December 25. This also makes it the airline to initiate low-cost flying over the Trans-Pacific to the US. ZIPAIR currently operates five international routes in Asia and the Pacific, including Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, and Honolulu. Border closures and travel restrictions curtailed its plans and forced the airline to operate on domestic routes in Japan. The carrier plans to define a new standard in low-cost long-haul air travel, although numerous airlines have for various reasons failed to succeed. Tokyo-LA will be operated three times a week by Boeing 787-8.
08 – Sydney Airport has entered into a “Scheme Implementation Deed” with the Sydney Aviation Alliance (SAA) consortium, potentially paving the way for a takeover of one of Australia’s main gateways. The scheme will see shareholder UniSuper transfer its 15.01 percent stake in Sydney Airport to the parent company of the SAA consortium, while other shareholders will receive A$8.75 per share they owned. This values Sydney Airport at A$23.7 billion, higher than the A$15.7 billion figure when it first received an “unsolicited, indicative, conditional and non-binding proposal” in July 2021. Sydney Airport’s board has recommended shareholders to vote in favor of the deal at the upcoming meetings scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2022. (Firdaus Hashim)
08 – Vietnamese full-service operator Bamboo Airways has signed a memorandum of understanding with Safran on 3 November, in a deal potentially valued at €2 billion. The agreement would identify “potential opportunities” based on Bamboo’s order for up to 50 Airbus A321neos and 30 Boeing 787-9s, covering engines and aerospace equipment. Bamboo has expressed interest to install seats built by Safran on its aircraft, and will study the possibility of utilizing other interior equipment in the aircraft cabins, says Safran. Data from Fleets by AirInsight show that Bamboo, which began operations in January 2019, has 30 aircraft in its fleet, including Airbus A320neo family aircraft powered using CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines. (Firdaus Hashim)
04 – Turboprop maker ATR celebrated its 40th anniversary on November 4. This day in 1981, Aerospatiale of France and Aeritalia of Italy signed the agreement to develop a family of turboprop aircraft to improve regional connectivity. The first ATR 42 was delivered in December 1985. Since then, ATR has sold over 1.700 aircraft of the 42 and 72 model range, which have been continuously developed over the decades. The latest versions are the 72-600F freighter that was first ordered by FedEx, while in 2025, the 42-600S short take-off and landing version will enter service. In 2025, ATR will be prepared to fly on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels.
03 – AirAsia Group’s logistics arm, Teleport, unveiled its first dedicated Boeing 737-800 freighter on 3 November. The aircraft will be based in Bangkok and was acquired through a multi-year agreement with Thai cargo carrier K-Mile Asia. This also brings the number of aircraft Teleport has access for operations to 252 aircraft, which includes passenger aircraft operated by carriers under the AirAsia Group. Teleport’s chief executive Pete Chareonwongsak says the freighter addition will “accelerate” its shift from a pure air freight logistics provider to a multi-modal operator. (Firdaus Hashim)
03 – Boeing secured another contract for passenger to freighter conversions for the 767-300ER. Air Transport Group (ATSG) has contracted Boeing to convert four aircraft to 767-300BCF, bringing orders and commitments for the program over 100. ATSG already operates 59 767-300s and 32 -200s, dry-leasing them to companies like Amazon/Prime, DHL, Cargojet, Amerijet, Masair, and others. ATSG also has four 757-200s, three 767-200s, nine 767-300s, and three 777-200s for passenger use. In August, it secured slots at Elbe Flugzeugwerke in Dresden for the conversion of twenty Airbus A330s.
02 – Boeing also received an order for two new 777Fs this week from Danish logistics company Maersk. They will be operated by Maersk subsidiary Star Air as the first triple sevens in an all-767 fleet. The order is part of the company’s strategy to ramp up freighter capacity and broaden its network.
01 – Emirates has announced that it will scrap its first Airbus A380 in Dubai and recycle as many parts as possible. The aircraft is registered A6-EDA was is the first A380 delivered to the carrier in July 2008. She operated her first service to New York on August 1 that year and her last on March 8, 2020, from Singapore. Parting out and scrapping will be done by Falcon Aviation Recycling. Some parts of the 190 tons that will be removed will be offered for sale with the proceeds going to charity and the Emirates Airline Foundation. The iconic bar on the upper deck and other cabin features will be transformed into bespoke furniture.
While the first A380 in the fleet, EDA wasn’t the oldest one. That was EDF, a former Airbus test aircraft. This aircraft has also been retired, as are EDG, EDH, EDP, and back June 2020, EDB. Emirates is to take delivery of two more A380s before the end of the year, the last one likely on December 10.
01 – Six months after announcing the acquisition plan, lessor AerCap has completed the take over over rival GECAS. The new AerCap is now the biggest lessor in the world, with a managed and owned fleet of over 2.000 aircraft, 900 engines, and over 300 helicopters. “Completion of this transaction represents an important milestone for AerCap that will generate benefits for our customers, partners, employees, and investors for many years to come,” said Aengus Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of AerCap.
AerCap has acquired GECAS for $23 billion in cash and $1.0 billion in notes. General Electric retains a 46 percent share in the company.
01 – Air China reported an RMB 103.2 billion net loss for the first nine months of 2021. This is slightly worse compared to 2020 when the loss was RMB 101.1 billion. Operating revenues were RMB 574.6 billion, up from RMB 484.5 billion. For Q3, the net loss was RMB 35.3 billion. The airline group’s capacity by ATK grew by 15.2 percent year on year. While international capacity was 81.5 percent down in 2020, domestic grew by 28.6 percent and regional capacity by 45 percent. Cargo capacity grew by 20.7 percent and turnover by 29.8 percent. By the end of September, Air China has RMB 87.6 billion in cash and cash equivalents, down from 90 percent a year ago.
01 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) delivered not a single shipset of 777 and 787 components to Boeing in the second quarter of this year, it said on October 29. This compares to five and four 777 shipsets for the first and second quarter, respectively, and three and one for the 777-9. MHI delivered 14 787 shipsets in Q1 and five in Q2, reflecting the stark reduction in Dreamliner production as Boeing tries to solve quality issues. The lower deliveries impacted Mitsubishi‘s commercial aviation revenues, which dropped to ¥57.3 billion from ¥84.9 billion in Q3 2020. The order intake dropped to ¥57.4 billion from ¥72.9 billion. MHIRJ in Canada benefitted from the return to service and hence more maintenance work in the CRJ fleet. Thanks to fixed costs reductions, the aviation segment produced a ¥7.6 billion profit compared to ¥3.5 billion in Q1. Mitsubishi hasn’t given an update on the SpaceJet program, of which it said earlier this year that it might assess a restart later this fiscal year which runs until March.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.