To bring you more aviation news, Airinsight introduces News in Brief. During October, 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.
18 – The parent company of Philippine Airlines (PAL) is set to receive nearly 12.8 billion pesos in “fresh and additional” capital injection through a private placement made by Buona Sorte Holdings (BSH), a company linked to the carrier’s owner and major shareholder, business tycoon Lucio Tan. This would be in the form of BSH subscribing to shares issued by PAL’s parent company, PAL Holdings. The move comes more than two weeks after the Southern District of New York bankruptcy court approved “on a final basis” the ability to access debtor-in-possession financing worth $505 million, comprising two tranches of multi-draw term loans. (by Firdaus Hashim).
15 – Eighteen months later than originally planned, All Nippon Airways (ANA)has taken delivery of its third and final Airbus A380. The carrier hopes to operate all of its A380s to Honolulu again when the US reopens after the popular holiday destination with Japanese travelers was off-limits since the start of the pandemic. Only this August, ANA occasionally operated the doubledeckers to Hawaii. The third A380, painted with sea turtles like the other two but in a vibrant orange livery, was contractually delivered to the airline on October 30, 2020. ANA preferred to keep her with Airbus in Toulouse for almost an entire year.
14 – Spirit Airlines has concluded another agreement for the lease of more Airbus A32neo’s. This time it concluded an agreement with SMBC Aviation Capital for twenty aircraft. Of these, fourteen are part of a sale and leaseback when they are delivered to Spirit between November this year and September 2022. The remaining six A320neo’s are direct placements from SMBC’s order book with Airbus for delivery from September 2022 to February 2023.
On October 7, Spirit announced an agreement with AerCap to lease twenty A320neo-family aircraft for delivery in 2022 until 2024. The aircraft will cater to the airline’s growth plans. By June 30, Spirit had firm orders for 124 Airbus aircraft, including the A319neo, A320neo, and A321neo for delivery through 2027. It planned to take delivery of four more aircraft this year to bring the neo-fleet to 43. For 2022, seventeen deliveries were scheduled but this will change following the latest announcements.
14 – United Airlines announced a significant expansion of its Transatlantic network from spring 2022, claiming it to be even “the largest Transatlantic expansion in our history.” The carrier says it will add Amman (Jordan), Bergen (Norway), The Azores (Portugal), Tenerife, and Palma de Mallorca (Spain) to the schedule, becoming the only North American airline to offer these destinations. Berlin, Munich, Dublin, Milan, and Rome will get extra frequencies. Frankfurt, Zurich, and Nice in Europe, plus Tokyo Haneda (Japan) and Bangalore (India) are set to return on United’s network, having been suspended during the pandemic. Dates are subject to confirmation as the routes first need government approval.
12 – UK airline easyjet expects to reduce its headline loss before tax from the originally forecasted £1.175 billion to between £1.135 and 1.175 billion, it said in a trading update. During the September quarter, which is its fourth and final in its financial year 2021, headline losses were halved compared to last year and generated positive cash flow. The carrier operated at 58 percent capacity. but is expected to increase to 70 percent for the current Q1 of FY22. Thanks to the successful £1.2 billion rights issue, easyjet has reduced its net debt from £2.0 billion to £0.9 billion in Q3. The airline has £4.4 billion in liquidity.
11 – Following the successful completion of a €2.162 billion capital increase on October 6, Lufthansa has immediately repaid €1.5 billion to Germany’s Economic Stabilization Fund under the Silent Participation I scheme. The repayment was originally planned for 2023, but the German carrier succeeded in raising the extra capital with its shareholders. Through a subscription right, Lufthansa placed almost 588 million new shares, corresponding to a subscription rate of 98.36 percent, at a price of €3.58. Some 9.8 million shares have not been sold and will be sold to institutional investors. The subscription period ended on October 5. Lufthansa announced the capital increase on September 19. It will use the proceeds to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce its debts. The airline wants to have repaid most of the aid from the June 2020 stabilization measures by 2023. Another €1.0 billion from the Silent Participation II scheme will be repaid before the end of this year and terminate the unused part of SP I.
08 – Air Belgium has taken delivery of the first of two Airbus A330-900s. The airline will operate the aircraft on its long-haul network, which from October 15 will include Mauritius. Air Belgium announced the purchase of the two leased A330neo’s in July. Over time, they will replace two older A340-300s. The aircraft has a three-class cabin with 286 seats, 30 Business Class, 21 Premium (Economy) Class, and 235 Economy Class.
05 – UK leisure airline Jet2 has firmed up its order with Airbus for A321neo’s. It has ordered another fifteen A321neo’s for delivery between 2026 and 2029. The carrier placed a firm order for 36 A321neo’s in August, selecting the Airbus over the Boeing MAX. For years, Jet2 has been a loyal Boeing customer. The carrier holds purchase rights for another 19 aircraft to eventually grow its neo-fleet to seventy aircraft.
05 – Rolls-Royce has announced it has appointed a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). From November 2, Grazia Vittadini had been appointed to succeed Paul Stein, who will step down from the job in the first quarter of next year after almost twelve years. Until July, Vittadini has been CTO at Airbus. In this position, she has played a key role in determining Airbus’ sustainability strategy that was presented in September 2020. This strategy centers around the use of hydrogen as the main fuel for aviation. After stepping down as CTO, Vittadini has continued to work for Airbus and will leave at the end of October.
CEO Warren East said in a media statement that Vittadini “brings with her extensive expertise in the emerging and disruptive technologies that will help us on our journey to net-zero and further expand our digital innovation. She also has many years of experience working with our fundamental technologies and has a deep understanding of the safety-critical systems which are at the core of our product portfolio.”
Paul Stein has been involved in many of the technology programs within Rolls-Royce, including UltraFan and various electric projects. He will remain with the company as chairman of the venture that specializes in small modular reactors.
In the same statement, Rolls-Royce confirms that its Chief People Officer, Harry Holt, will become Chief Operating Officer at Vertical Aerospace. Vertical is developing the VX-4A eVTOL vehicle.
05 – Speaking of engines, GKN Aerospace has announced it will take on a leading role in the development of the Electric Fan Thruster project, EleFanT for short. Together with the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology. In its new facility in Trollhattan, GKN will develop fan technology for use in smaller regional aircraft. “The project will study aerodynamic design, performance, noise, and manufacturing technology for a nested fan powered by electricity, either from batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, or even more conventional hybrid propulsion solutions.” GKN says that a nested fan has benefits on safety, noise, and engine installation. The project already started in July and complements other studies at GKN, like H2GEAR and H2JET, which look at hydrogen propulsion.
03 – Qantas and Emirates will extend their close partnership by another five years until March 2028, both airlines announced on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Boston. The partnership offers passengers the benefits of the combined network of both airlines, with each airline offering some fifty destinations that without the partnership would not be accessible this easily. Passengers can also benefit from each other’s loyalty programs. According to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, some thirteen million passengers have benefitted from the partnership that was established in March 2013, when two Airbus A380s did a spectacular flypast over Sydney Harbor.
During the first five years, Qantas rerouted all its European flights via Dubai. At the first extension in 2018, the carrier opted to abandon Dubai and fly either directly or via Singapore again, re-establishing the Kangaroo Route. As both airlines coordinate pricing, schedules, sales, and marketing, the new extension needs approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The partnership can be extended for another five years in 2028.
03 – Delta Airlines will strengthen its hub at Boston Logan International Airport and will offer five new destinations from Summer 2022. These include international services to Tel Aviv and Athens from May 26/27 and flights to Baltimore, Denver, and San Diego in the US from July 11. These routes will be served with the Airbus A330. The national network will see the doubling of services with the A220 to at least twenty routes.
Delta also said that it will base its first Airbus A321neo’s at Boston Logan next spring when the carrier takes delivery of the type. The A321neo will operate on transcontinental routes, offering passengers the option to book the new First Class seats on US routes. Following an incremental order in August, Delta has now 155 A321neo’s on order.
03 – Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has confirmed that his airline will lease four ex-Philippine Airlines Airbus A350s. On the sidelines of the IATA AGM, he said that the aircraft will enter service in early 2022. They will be sourced from lessors Avolon, Goshawk, and SMBC. One of the aircraft is already in Frankfurt since August. Lufthansa has said before that it will expand its A350-fleet and take on more leased aircraft to lower its capital expenditures. The German carrier also has 25 Boeing 787-9s on order. If it will take delivery of the first before the end of this year depends on the situation at Boeing, which hopes to resume Dreamliner deliveries by the end of October. Deliveries were suspended in May over a new quality issue concerning tiny gaps between the forward pressure bulkhead and forward fuselage. On October 2, Lufthansa operated the first A350 service between Munich and Dubai.
03 – Delta Airlines nor Lufthansa has plans to participate financially in Italy’s new airline ITA, the CEO’s of both airlines said in Boston during two separate media briefings. However, both airlines are interested in a partnership or alliance with ITA and have had discussions with the carrier’s management about this. As reported by AirInsight in June, Delta and Lufthansa have offered ITA a partnership. In the case of Delta, this would mean that ITA would join the SkyTeam Alliance, whereas the option through Lufthansa would see it join the Star Alliance of which Alitalia has been a member. Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr repeated that Italy is a key market for his Group. Regulations preclude that foreign investors can buy into ITA until 2024.