04 July, 2024

Europe’s Airspace is creaking at the seams. Urgent action required to improve flight punctuality

On-time performance of flights in Europe dramatically deteriorated during the last week of June and continues to struggle despite the best efforts of airlines. Reduced ATC capacity and inadequate coordination between ANSPs, Eurocontrol’s Network Manager and airlines has made the effects of a recent spate of bad weather worse than necessary.

A4E members alone suffered just under 900,000 minutes worth of delay from 26-30 June affecting over 36,000 flights.* This represents an average of over 5,000 delayed flights a day or over 200 delayed flights an hour, affecting approximately six million passengers. ATC related delays accounted for nearly one quarter of these delays.

ATC services in Europe continue to underperform as confirmed by the recently released Performance Review Report (PRR) from Eurocontrol. This showed that over a quarter of flights did not arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time in 2023. En-route Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) delays in 2023 were also the second highest over the past 20 years and beat the figure for 2019 which had a higher level of air traffic.

Alaska Airlines honours US military with newest aircraft livery

As the USA celebrates Independence Day, Alaska Airlines has unveiled its latest livery as a tribute to service members past and present. 

In partnership with Boeing, the airline was proud to unveil the specially designed “Honoring Those Who Serve” aircraft. The design, which is almost identical to three other jets, features a new patriotic paint scheme with symbolic imagery representing all six branches of the US Armed Forces: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Space Force.

From its star-spangled design to the heartfelt message emblazoned on its side, this aircraft is a flying tribute to the courage and dedication of those who serve today, and those who served in the past. 

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Airbus awarded German Armed Forces prime contract for military communications satellite system

Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has awarded Airbus the SATCOMBw 3 prime contract for the next generation secure military satellite system which includes geostationary satellites as well as ground segment, launch and operation for 15 years. The spacecraft are due to be deployed before the end of the decade and the contract value amounts to €2.1 billion.

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “After the success of the SATCOMBw Stage 2 programme, which we have been delivering since 2009, this latest contract reinforces our strategic partnership with the Bundeswehr, providing them with a greatly enhanced secure milsatcom capability that is future proofed into the 2040s. At a time when Western democracies are challenged and where the European institutional space ecosystem is struggling, we are excited and grateful to develop and build this leading-edge system. Long term partnerships are crucial to guaranteeing essential sovereignty and capability, and protecting our armed forces in the increasingly unstable geo-political environment.”

The contract covers the design, integration, test and in orbit delivery of two new Airbus built military GEO telecommunications satellites which are the successor communications satellites to COMSATBw 1B and 2B. It also includes upgrading of the existing ground segment to operate the new satellites as well as operational services for 15 years, with the possibility of extension.

Flying into summer....Widerøe's June performance.

Widerøe's June performance has just been released which show the carrier, now taken over by the budget airline Norwegian, operated the month with a 6% lower capacity compared to last year. However, at the same time, it was a 4% capacity increase from May 2024. June ended with a load factor of 77% in total and sales of summer holiday tickets have been good in the weeks leading up to July. On the tender routes, passenger growth continues as a result of halved maximum prices, and June ended up with an increase of 22% compared to last year.  

A lightning strike has turned out to cause problems for one of the jets, which in turn contributed to a demanding start to operations during the holiday trip this year. Regularity ended up at 97.2% and punctuality at 88.9 percent. The sea fog has spread over Finnmark, but otherwise the weather has mostly been cooperative in June. 

June was another good month. The number of passengers grew by six percent. A total of 346,747 passengers chose to fly with Widerøe in June. This is also an increase of six per cent compared to last year. Production was four per cent lower than last year, but the load factor still saw an increase of five percentage points, a total of 72 per cent. Both our holiday/leisure travellers and our business customers are contributing to this increase.

Tore Jenssen took over the helm as CEO of Widerøe recently, heading the regional airline that employs around 3500. Jenssen comes to Widerøe from the position of fleet manager at Norwegian and chairman of the board of Widerøe. His aviation background stretches back to 2007 when he joined Norwegian. Jenssen has held roles as CEO & Accountable Manager of Norwegian Air International (NAI) and COO of both Norwegian's asset company and the Norwegian Group.

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Norwegian group had 2.6 million passengers in June

In June, Norwegian had 2,245,735 passengers while Widerøe had 346,747 passengers, totalling 2,592,482 for the group. This represents an 11 percent increase in passengers since last June for Norwegian and a 6 percent increase for Widerøe. The group revises its profit outlook for 2024 downwards and provides an updated unit cost forecast.

“I am pleased about the double-digit percentage increase in passengers travelling with Norwegian compared to June last year, as well as the positive passenger figures for Widerøe. Primarily due to a significant capacity increase on longer flights, Norwegian experienced a slight decrease in yield and load factor. We are excited to continue serving a growing number of customers as they embark on their summer holidays,” said Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian.

The capacity (ASK) was 3,706 million seat kilometres, up 18 percent from the same period last year. Actual passenger traffic (RPK) was 3,126 million seat kilometres, an increase of 16 percent from June 2023. Load factor has improved compared to April and May, while being down 1 percentage point from June 2023. In June, Norwegian operated with a regularity, meaning share of scheduled flights taking place, of 99.4 percent. The punctuality, meaning share of flights departing within 15 minutes of scheduled time, was 75.0 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from June last year. However, 96 percent of all flights arrived within 60 minutes of scheduled arrival time. The airline operated an average of 86 aircraft.
Expansion in the North

Latest update from Avolon....

Avolon is a leading global aviation finance company connecting capital with customers to drive the transformation of aviation and the economic and social benefits of global travel. Working with 142 airlines in 63 countries, Avolon has an owned, managed, and committed fleet of 1,029 aircraft, as of 30 June 2024.

During quarter two of 2024, the company delivered 15 new aircraft and transitioned 10 aircraft to a total of 16 customers.  Sold 6 aircraft and entered into letters of intent for the sale of a further 17 aircraft. The company also placed 23 aircraft from its orderbook, and executed 15 lease transactions comprising new aircraft leases, follow-on leases and lease extensions.

Avolon added 4 new customers to its list, giving a total of 142 airline customers operating in 63 countries; and, ended the quarter with an owned and managed fleet of 582 aircraft, with total orders and commitments for 447 fuel-efficient, new technology aircraft.

Financing Highlights included:

Raised US$2.5 billion of unsecured debt capital, comprised of:
US$1.0 billion senior unsecured notes due 2029,
US$1.05 billion unsecured term loans due 2027, and,
US$450 million upsize in unsecured revolved credit facility.

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Rūta Dabašinskaitė-Vitkė Appointed New CFO of PLAY airlines

      PLAY Airlines has appointed Rūta Dabašinskaitė-Vitkė as its new Chief Financial Officer. With 15 years of experience in finance and 10 years in general management, Rūta will join the company in August.  

Rūta holds an MBA degree and has served as the CFO for Bluebird Nordic from 2021 to 2024, with headquarters in both Vilnius, Lithuania, and Reykjavík, Iceland. Prior to that, she was the CEO of TD Baltic UAB, one of the largest distributors of IT products in the Baltics.  

"I am truly grateful for the opportunity to lead PLAY's financial team. PLAY has made immense progress over the past couple of years, and I am excited to join the team and assist in their development. I know that my experience in finance and the aviation industry will be very useful to PLAY," said Rūta.  

"Hiring Rūta is a great acquisition for us. She brings a wealth of experience from the international aviation industry which will be a significant advantage. She is a fantastic addition to our strong management team, and our financial team will be in great hands and benefit from her leadership," said Einar Örn Ólafsson, CEO of PLAY airlines. 

ATSG signed lease deal for Two 767-300 Freighter aircraft to My Freighter

Air Transport Services Group, Inc. announced that its subsidiary Airborne Global Leasing has signed leased agreements for two additional Boeing 767-300 converted freighter aircraft to My Freighter Cargo Airlines of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The addition of these two aircraft will expand the airline's ATSG-leased fleet to five 767-300 freighters.

“ATSG continues to expand its international leasing network,” said Mike Berger, chief executive officer of ATSG. “This commitment for additional capacity increases the global reach of our fleet, serving emerging e-commerce markets. Tashkent, Uzbekistan is a great location to meet the growing need for geographical capacity. This is another example of how ATSG partners with great companies like My Freighter to facilitate trade across the globe.”

My Freighter provides cargo air charter services in Uzbekistan and the Central Asian region focusing on delivering seamless and efficient logistics solutions that link major trade hubs, thereby contributing to economic growth throughout that region.

Mesa to defer trainees and furlough 12 pilots.....

Mesa Air Group announced the furlough of 12 pilots and training deferrals for 41 pilot trainees, effective July 12, 2024. These actions are the result of significantly reduced attrition among Mesa’s active pilot workforce. The Company currently anticipates this will save approximately $750,000 per month in operating expenses.

“Over the last two years, attrition at Mesa often exceeded 25 pilots per month due to the pilot shortage created by the FAA’s implementation of the ‘1,500-hour rule’,” said Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa Chairman and CEO. “As a result, we undertook significant efforts to increase our pilot hiring, including our Mesa Pilot Development (MPD) program. However, attrition has fallen more precipitously than expected at Mesa in the past few months, in part due to the slowdown or cessation of hiring across most airlines. In addition, we believe the industry-wide pipeline will continue to improve as pilots previously denied the opportunity to fly commercially due to the lack of 1,500 hours finally achieve requisite flight time.

“While we deeply regret these actions, we expect reduced attrition and a more stable pilot force will enable us to increase our Embraer-175 block hours with United,” continued Ornstein. “Based on our current outlook, we anticipate starting to recall pilots by the end of the year. Additionally, once our pilot pipeline has recalibrated, we will resume hiring pilot trainees based on anticipated attrition levels.”


CDB Aviation leases two new 737 MAX 8 jets to TAROM

CDB Aviation has confirmed the signing of lease agreements for two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with a new customer, Romanian flag air carrier TAROM.

The two MAX aircraft, leased from CDB Aviation’s direct orderbook with Boeing, will support TAROM’s fleet modernization process, which is aimed to result in a standardized fleet and allow for a significant reduction in costs. The aircraft will be configured with 189 seats and scheduled to be delivered to the airline between December 2025 and January 2026.

“We look forward to forging a strong relationship with our newest European customer and one of the region’s oldest airlines, TAROM. Since its inception seven decades ago, TAROM is currently the longest operating airline of Romania, having played a central role in advancing the country’s aviation industry and its regional connectivity. With these MAX aircraft, TAROM will be able to continue to enhance its market position, while building one of the youngest fleets in the region,” commented Jie Chen, CDB Aviation’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We are thrilled to partner with CDB Aviation in our ongoing plans to modernize TAROM’s fleet, and the role of these two new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft is to help us enhance operational efficiency and provide our passengers with a superior flying experience. We value CDB Aviation’s expertise and support for this investment, an important part of our company's development plan, in which the fleet update is a key element in bringing about a better commercial performance and growth outlook, and we are looking forward to introducing them in our regular flight planning,” commented Costin Iordache, TAROM’s Chief Executive Officer.

TAROM Romanian Air Transport was established in 1954 and operates under the authority of the Ministry of Transport, being a member of the SkyTeam Alliance since June 25, 2010. The Romanian flag carrier owns a fleet of 18 aircraft and has in its portfolio a number of 70 destinations operated with its own aircrafts or served by its code share partners. 

Stellantis invests additional $55 million In Archer following recent flight test milestone

Stellantis and Archer Aviation Inc. have confirmed Archer has received an additional $55 million investment from Stellantis under the companies’ strategic funding agreement following the achievement of its transition flight test milestone last month.

This latest investment builds on Stellantis’ series of open market purchases of 8.3 million shares of Archer’s stock in March of this year that was previously announced. During 2023, Stellantis invested $110 million in Archer through a combination of open market stock purchases and investments under the companies’ strategic funding agreement.

Archer remains on track to complete construction of its high-volume manufacturing facility in Georgia later this year. This first phase of the build out is a ~350,000 square foot facility on an ~100 acre site designed to support production of up to 650 aircraft annually, which would make it one of the largest manufacturing facilities by volume in the aircraft industry. Archer’s goal with this facility remains to establish a factory that can support its planned commercial ramp up by leveraging the expertise of Stellantis as its contract manufacturer.

“Few things rival the excitement of seeing a dream take flight. I applaud the innovation, expertise and hard work of the engineering and manufacturing teams from Stellantis and Archer,” said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO. “With this additional investment in Archer, we remain on course for a future where freedom of mobility extends beyond today’s roads.”

Condor prioritizes digital cargo growth, partnering with cargo . one

Condor, Germany’s most popular leisure airline, has entered a new expanded partnership with cargo.one to make its entire global network available on the market leading digital procurement platform. The airline is now working closely with cargo . one to target thousands of freight forwarders across cargo . one’s vast footprint of markets. Condor will work with cargo.one experts to bolster digital sales efforts in key forwarding markets such as Europe and USA.  

With almost 70 years of air cargo experience and a world-famous bold livery, Condor is a key carrier in the DACH aviation sector. Utilizing belly capacity from a fleet of more than 50 aircraft and ground facilities in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Zurich, Condor offers capacity to over 100 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Indian Ocean, North America and the Caribbean. Condor’s cargo operations benefit from its growing fleet of ultra modern and fuel efficient Airbus A330neo wide body aircraft. 

Partnership means Condor’s entire global network will be available for instant digital booking on cargo.one

Condor and cargo.one teams closely collaborate to enrich offer quality and boost digital adoption rates

cargo.one will help Condor to maximize belly capacity digital sales for its super-efficient Airbus long-haul fleet 

Airbus built, Copernicus Sentinel-2C climate satellite heading for launch site

Spacecraft to reach launch site on board sail-assisted Canopée ship

After road transport from Airbus in Friedrichshafen to Bremen on 2 July, the Airbus-built Sentinel-2C satellite, the third Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite, is about to be shipped to the European spaceport in French Guiana. The container has been loaded today onto the iconic Canopée, the first sail-assisted cargo ship designed specifically to transport Ariane 6 rocket components from European ports to the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, where it will arrive in approximately two weeks.

"About half of the data used to assess and monitor the impact of climate change on Earth is actually delivered by satellites," said Marc Steckling, Head of Earth Observation, Science and Exploration at Airbus. "The Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites have provided valuable climate information to scientists since 2015 and Sentinel-2C will ensure continuity. Additionally, they have also made monitoring marine litter from space a reality, a significant achievement considering how critical this issue has become."

Data collected by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites is being used to monitor land use and change, soil sealing, land management, agriculture, forestry, natural disasters (floods, forest fires, landslides, volcanic eruptions and erosion) and to support humanitarian aid missions. Environmental monitoring, which provides information on the pollution of lakes and coastal waters, is also part of these activities, as is the monitoring of glaciers, ice and snow.

The Sentinel-2 mission contributes to the management of food security by providing information for the agricultural sector. Copernicus Sentinel-2, with its multispectral instrument, is the first optical Earth observation mission of its kind to include three bands in the "red edge", which provide key information on vegetation conditions. The satellite is designed to provide images that can be used to distinguish between different crop types, as well as data on numerous plant indices such as leaf area index, leaf chlorophyll content and leaf water content - all of which are essential for accurately monitoring plant growth.

03 July, 2024

easyJet announces year-round connection from London Gatwick to Menorca

easyJet will be extending its summer route from Menorca to London Gatwick to operate throughout the winter as well, taking it to a year-round service.  

The airline says this will offer an additional 16,000 seats throughout the winter with flights set to launch on 6 November 2024, operating twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This comes at a time when there is a juxtaposition between the holiday demand increasing and local opposition to more tourism.

Javier Gándara, General Director of easyJet in Southern Europe, said:  "We are delighted to announce that our route between Menorca and London Gatwick will now operate all year round. This extension to the winter season not only underlines our commitment to sustained growth in Spain, but also demonstrates our dedication to the local community in Menorca.

At easyJet, we understand the importance of international connectivity and are proud to contribute to the island's strategy of year-round connectivity to London and beyond."

Airbus H160 helicopter enters into service in the U.S. with PHI Aviation

Airbus has delivered the first H160 in the U.S. to PHI, marking the beginning of H160 operations in the country. This is the first of the initial four H160 helicopters that  PHI will operate for offshore transportation in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prior to beginning commercial operations, the helicopter will be used in a route-proving programme designed to demonstrate the H160’s capabilities in the demanding offshore environment. This will help facilitate a smooth entry into service, ensuring the operator and final customer are familiar with the aircraft’s advanced technology and safety features.

“This is an exciting milestone for our teams and partners,” said Scott McCarty, CEO of PHI Group. “The H160 represents a new era for PHI, enhancing our commitment to safety, quality and efficiency for our operations in the Gulf of Mexico. We are proud to officially welcome this next-generation aircraft into our fleet as we kick off route-proving. Congratulations to everyone who helped make this achievement possible!”