Air Canada to resume flights to Israel in April

Air Canada said on Thursday it plans to resume flights to Israel in April, after cancelling services to Tel Aviv following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel. United Airlines last week said it would resume direct U.S. flights to Israel early next month, becoming the first American carrier to do so since the conflict began. "We are finalizing the logistics at this point for a potential resumption in April," Air Canada said. United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines had all suspended U.S. service to Israel in October following the attack. Restarting U.S. carrier flights to Tel Aviv signals a potential turning point for travel to Israel, after tourism dried up on security fears following the Hamas rampage and subsequent Israel bombardment of Gaza.
Read more...

Air France, IAG caution on capacity growth as peak travel looms

Air France-KLM and IAG cautioned that some capacity growth may slow this year as geopolitical tensions deter the flying public and corporate travel remains below pre-pandemic levels, suggesting an uneven recovery as the European aviation industry heads into the busiest season of the year. Shares of Air France-KLM fell as much as 9.9% in Paris, their biggest intraday drop since mid November, after the Franco-Dutch group reported earnings. IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, also dipped shortly after the open, before recouping losses in mid-morning trading and gaining as much as 1.2%. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which reports earnings next week, also declined. Air France-KLM has been particularly hard hit by the fallout from conflicts in the Middle East and parts of Africa. The company said traffic to Egypt and Jordan on its Transavia budget airline had “dried up,” while avoiding some flight paths over western Africa is driving up the fuel bill. IAG, which also reported earnings on Thursday, said trans-Atlantic travel in the last few months was hurt by the Israel-Hamas conflict, and that capacity to the crucial US market won’t grow as much this year. For 2024, Air France-KLM predicted capacity growth of about 5%, while IAG is targeting 7%. The Franco-Dutch airline group fell short of its goal for that metric last year by reaching 93% of 2019 capacity, compared with its guidance of about 95%. The company’s target for 2024 is also lower than estimates by Deutsche Bank AG, which expected 11% growth for this year. While traffic has come back from the pandemic in the past few years, particularly with a boom in more expensive leisure travel, airlines have had to grapple with new challenges like circumnavigating conflict zones and a slower-than-expected rebound in corporate travel. Some airlines have also had to contend with longer maintenance cycles of their aircraft amid a shortage in parts and slower deliveries of new models as Airbus and Boeing struggle to produce their bestselling models at a faster pace.
Read more...

American Airlines plane forced to land 250 miles into flight due to crack in windshield

American Airlines passengers were left stuck in Boston after their flight was forced to land just 250 miles into its journey after a crack was discovered in the windshield. The flight, which was on its way to Spain, was 250 miles from the coast of Massachusetts over the Atlantic Ocean when it was forced to divert. Massachusetts State Police said flight 94, a Boeing 777, was less than two hours into the journey after taking off from New York City‘s JFK Airport at 7:28pm, when an Alert 2 emergency was declared due to a crack in the windshield in the cockpit. An Alert 2 is declared when the flight is experiencing “major difficulties” or when a “difficult or crash landing may be expected”, according to the FAA. The flight landed safely at 10:14pm at Logan International Airport, according to the airline, who said in a statement that the diversion was down to a “maintenance issue”. The aircraft was taken for an inspection by American Airlines crew. No one was hurt in the incident. The airline said passengers will be taken to Madrid on a replacement jet on Thursday afternoon. The carrier said in a statement: “The flight landed safely and the aircraft was taken out of service to be inspected by our maintenance team. Customers will re-depart for [Madrid] tomorrow on a replacement aircraft. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans and apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”
Read more...

Aer Lingus: Plane had serious incident during Belfast landing - report

An Aer Lingus flight to Belfast had a serious incident during landing when it suffered a partial electrical systems failure, a report has found. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said a number of systems dropped off-line, including some needed for landing. The pilots experienced "natural effects of startle and surprise... without a specified procedure to follow", investigators said. The plane was carrying 32 passengers and four crew. Emerald Airlines, exclusive operator of Aer Lingus Regional services, said the flight had "experienced an unforeseen technical difficulty" during its approach and had landed safely at Belfast City Airport. The ATR 72-600 began 19 September 2022 with a flight from Belfast City Airport to Leeds Bradford Airport. While approaching Leeds Bradford, a master caution message appeared very briefly. The message reappeared after touchdown. The flight commander discussed the fault with an engineer who advised "the underlying cause could be difficult to establish". "Therefore, given the transient, asymptomatic nature of the master cautions and the absence of company engineering support in Leeds, they agreed the crew would operate the aircraft back to Belfast for company engineers to investigate further," the report stated. The same master caution message occurred on the return flight to Belfast before "multiple failures appeared on the engine warning display" during descent. Story has more.
Read more...

US proposes new rules to ease flying for travelers in wheelchairs

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it was proposing new regulations for how airlines must treat passengers in wheelchairs, an effort aimed at improving air travel for people with disabilities. Under the proposal, damaging or delaying the return of a wheelchair would be an automatic violation of an existing federal law that bars airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities. The Transportation Department said that change would make it easier for the agency to penalize airlines for mishandling wheelchairs. The proposed regulations would also require more robust training for workers who physically assist disabled passengers or handle their wheelchairs. “There are millions of Americans with disabilities who do not travel by plane because of inadequate airline practices and inadequate government regulation, but now we are setting out to change that,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “This new rule would change the way airlines operate to ensure that travelers using wheelchairs can travel safely and with dignity.” For people in wheelchairs, flying can be difficult and uncomfortable, and airline mishaps can make for an even more agonizing experience. More than 11,000 wheelchairs and scooters were mishandled by airlines last year, according to data reported to the Transportation Department. The proposed regulations add to earlier moves by the Biden administration intended to improve the flying experience for disabled travelers. In 2022, the Transportation Department published a bill of rights for airline passengers with disabilities. Last year, the agency finalized new regulations to require more commercial aircraft to have accessible bathrooms. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former Army helicopter pilot who uses a wheelchair after losing both her legs in the Iraq war, noted that airlines had previously fought unsuccessfully against a rule that requires them to disclose the number of wheelchairs and scooters they mishandle. Ms. Duckworth said that since airlines began reporting those numbers several years ago, she had noticed improvements at airports around the country.
Read more...

Lufthansa's costly labour disputes threaten 2024 profit goals

Lufthansa will likely miss its 2024 profit margin goal as the German airline seeks to agree new, higher pay deals to end prolonged strikes, which have forced it to cancel thousands of flights, analysts and investors say. The carrier's shares have been among the best performers compared with rival European flag carriers, Air France-KLM and IAG, as the region's travel industry has recovered from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic which shut borders and grounded planes around the world in 2020. In 2021, the German group presented an ambitious plan to return to profit, including a target for adjusted earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins of at least 8% and adjusted return on capital employed (ROCE) of at least 10% in 2024. But many airlines have struggled with recruitment efforts as staff from baggage handlers to cabin crew have left the sector. Spiralling energy and food costs have also fuelled inflation. As a result, carriers have agreed big pay rises in recent years to attract workers. Lufthansa's ongoing labour disputes and service disruptions have put those profit-margin goals in jeopardy. Adjusted EBIT margins will fall to 6.9% this year from an estimated 7.4% in 2023, according to a company-provided analyst poll. The airline may lower that target when it releases 2023 results on March 7.
Read more...

Smoke reported inside American Airlines plane cabin at New York's LaGuardia Airport

Smoke was reported inside the cabin of an American Airlines plane that arrived at New York City's LaGuardia Airport from Chicago Thursday morning. The Fire Department of New York said it received a "report of smoke in [a] cabin airbus" shortly after 9:30 a.m. Thursday from LaGuardia's main terminal. American Airlines said "possible odor" was reported in the cabin of Flight 2084 as it was taxiing to the gate. "Customers deplaned normally and the aircraft was taken out of service to be inspected by our maintenance team," said the airline. "Safety is our top priority and we appreciate our team members for their professionalism.” Fire teams and EMS personnel responded to the incident, which was "controlled," said the fire department. No injuries were reported, said FDNY, and the matter will be handled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Port Authority said "Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) arrived on scene to assess the situation, and the FAA to investigate."
Read more...

Ryanair boss labels Irish ministers ‘dunces’ over Dublin Airport passenger cap

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has launched a fresh broadside against Irish Transport Minister Eamon Ryan as he blamed a passenger cap at Dublin Airport for blocking the airline’s growth. O’Leary said Ryan and his Green Party colleague Catherine Martin, the Minister for Tourism, are “dunces” who should leave politics if they do not act to remove the cap. Ryanair said while it expects to grow traffic at Ireland’s regional airports in Cork, Shannon and Knock, it cannot expand in Dublin due to a limit of 32m passengers per year. The company said the cap limits its plan to grow its Irish traffic by 50% by 2030. The airline’s CE told a press conference on Thursday that Ryan had failed to deliver on the National Aviation Policy of enhancing Ireland’s connectivity, fostering growth in aviation, and maximising the contribution of aviation to national development. O’Leary, one of Ireland’s wealthiest businessmen, posed for photos holding cut-outs of the two ministers wearing green dunce caps. Ryan has previously said the airline chief has become “personally abusive” in his comments. Asked on Thursday if he feels the latest media stunt is abusive, Mr O’Leary said it is intended to be “humorous”. He said: “I can’t imagine when I’ve ever been personally abusive. I’ve said he’s incompetent. I don’t think that’s personally abusive, it’s a statement of fact. I think calling him a dunce is fair, but if he’s that thin-skinned or that upset by personal abuse, I have two suggestions: One, do something useful and lift the cap. Or two, maybe politics isn’t for you, if you can’t handle the occasional barb from some loudmouth like me.”
Read more...

EU may exempt islands from proposed jet fuel tax until 2032

European Union countries are negotiating exemptions for a proposed EU-wide tax on polluting aviation fuel for islands, in a move that could benefit countries such as Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Spain and Greece, a draft document showed.
The European Commission proposed an overhaul of energy tax rules in 2021 to make them more climate-friendly, including by gradually introducing taxes on fuels for flights within the 27-nation bloc, which currently escape EU-wide levies. A compromise proposal, seen by Reuters and drafted by Belgium which holds the EU's rotating presidency, showed countries are now negotiating softer rules for islands - both island nations and countries including island territories - reliant on aviation and shipping for transport and trade. The draft compromise would exempt islands from the jet fuel tax until 2032. For other countries, a minimum EU tax rate would apply from 2028, and gradually increase, while EU member states would also have the option to introduce their own national levies immediately after the policy is adopted. The changes aim to win support from island nations that have expressed concerns the policy would hit their economies particularly hard. Islands would also receive some exemptions from EU minimum tax rates on shipping, under the draft compromise. Changing EU tax policy is fiendishly difficult because it requires unanimous approval from all EU countries - meaning any one government can block it. Exempting islands could, however, hamper the policy's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more...

British Airways owner IAG posts record profits on leisure travel boom

British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has revealed record annual profits after cashing in on resurgent travel demand, including from leisure travellers booking premium economy, and business class seats. Underlying operating profits at the group, which also includes Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, more than doubled to GBP3b for 2023, higher than its previous pre-pandemic peak in 2019. CE Luis Gallego shrugged off the impact of the recession in the UK on demand, saying it “continues to be very strong, particularly in leisure”. “We don’t see any weakness in the market,” he added. However, the group admitted poor performance from BA at its London Heathrow hub, where only 60% of flights departed or arrived within 15 minutes of schedule during 2023. “As a result, significant resources have been invested to drive better performance and some early initiatives are now starting to deliver improvement,” IAG said in its results presentation. Business travel has been slow to bounce back, but has been offset by leisure travellers booking premium seats, it said. Capacity for the final three months of 2023 was at 98.6% of the levels seen before the pandemic struck in 2019, with full-year capacity at 95.7% of those levels. It expects to grow overall capacity by around 7% in 2024. Gallego said: “In 2023, IAG more than doubled its operating margin and profits compared to 2022… recovering capacity to close to pre-Covid 19 levels in most of its core markets.”
Read more...

Boeing needs to make changes, Emirates president says

American planemaker Boeing needs to make changes, Emirates President Tim Clark said on Thursday, as it faces regulatory scrutiny following the blowout of a panel on one of the airline's MAX 9 jets during a flight on Jan. 5. "They really need to do this. Whether this means a change in the governance model, I don't know. When you change the governance model, it invariably involves changing the people around the old governance model," Clark told journalists in London. He repeated comments that Boeing is in a "last-chance saloon" and that there would be no tolerance for further issues from the planemaker.
Read more...

Dubai wants to build the biggest airport in the world. Here’s how that’s going

A little more than 10 years ago, in October 2013, a Wizz Air A320 arriving from Budapest made headlines by becoming the first commercial passenger flight ever to touch down at Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central (DWC). This brand new “greenfield” airport some 20 miles southwest of downtown Dubai was designed to become, in a not-so-distant future, the world’s largest and busiest. The vision was – and still is – for a futuristic mega-hub, ensuring that the emirate’s role as a major node of the global economy doesn’t run into capacity problems anytime soon. Dubai Airports, the airport authority that manages both Dubai International (DXB) and the new airport, promises that when Al Maktoum International is finished, it‘ll be able to handle more than 160m passengers per year as well as 12m tonnes of freight. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly 63m more travelers than the world’s current busiest airport, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International, handled in 2022 and nearly 100m more than Dubai International. DXB, let’s not forget, is already the world’s busiest airport outside of the US and Dubai’s main international gateway. However, a decade and a pandemic after that initial passenger flight, and a full 13 years since it first opened for cargo operations, Dubai’s newest airport is still very much a work in progress. DWC has found a role as a center for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul – “MRO” in industry parlance. It also hosts a number of air cargo operators (including Emirates Cargo, the freight subsidiary of the UAE flag carrier) and handles executive jets and some charter flights. Scheduled passenger services, however, are limited to those provided by a handful of low-cost carriers that operate services mostly to Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Story goes into details.
Read more...

IAG likely to be warned by EU on Air Europa deal, sources say

British Airways owner IAG is likely to be hit with an EU antitrust warning over its E400m bid to buy out Air Europa, suggesting regulators want IAG to beef up its offer of remedies, people familiar with the matter said.
IAG, which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia, submitted proposed concessions on Feb. 23 in a bid to address competition concerns but did not provide details. The European Commission in January said the deal may reduce competition on Spanish domestic routes to the Balearic and Canary islands, and on short-haul routes between Madrid and the main cities in Europe, Israel, Morocco, Britain and Switzerland. The EU competition enforcer also cited concerns over long-haul routes between Madrid and North and South America. Both the Commission and IAG declined to comment. The company can still avoid the watchdog's so-called statement of objections, or charge sheet, by adding more remedies in the coming days. IAG's remedies are similar to those in the Korean Air-Asiana deal, where the South Korean carriers ceded slots and traffic rights as well as access to planes, bowing to a demand from the EU enforcer, one of the sources said. IAG and Air Europa scrapped a previous deal in 2021 after EU regulators indicated their remedies were insufficient to alleviate the competition concerns.
Read more...

Asia-Pacific airlines enjoyed strong January: AAPA

Asia-Pacific airlines had a good start of the year in January, with international passenger and cargo businesses improving year on year. Airlines in the region carried 27m international passengers in January, up 49.4% year on year, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. “The year started on a positive note for Asia Pacific airlines, as both international air passenger and cargo markets saw robust growth, supported by the timing of the Lunar New Year festive period,” says AAPA director general Subhas Menon. “Travel demand was boosted by a rise in leisure travellers, while cargo markets benefitted from heightened demand for air shipments ahead of the festive period.” International RPKs jumped 48.3% year on year, as ASKs rose 51.3%. Load factors dropped 1.6 percentage points to 79.9%. International FTKs rose 22.5% as FATKs rose 25.8%, with freight load factors falling 1.6 percentage points to 57.5%. “The upcoming year looks broadly positive for Asian carriers, given the renewed optimism on the global economic outlook,” says Menon. “However, as capacity restoration progresses, airlines face intensifying competition. In addition, the cost environment remains challenging, as inflationary pressures continue to be felt amid ongoing supply chain issues. Nevertheless, airlines remain pro-active in seeking new growth opportunities, while maintaining the highest safety and customer service standards.”
Read more...

How a British Airways comeback may offer hope for legacy airlines

It has been a while since British Airways boasted it was the “world’s favourite airline”. Even before the pandemic, the carrier, owned by IAG, battled reputational problems following years of cost cuts, plus other issues such as a big data breach. A recent survey by the consumer group Which? ranked the UK’s flag carrier among the worst airlines for customer satisfaction. Yet full-year results on Thursday from its parent company, where BA accounts for about half of revenues, point to something of a comeback. IAG more than doubled operating profits in 2023 to a record E3.5b. The post-pandemic travel boom continues. Notably, wealthier holidaymakers who are willing to pay higher prices to fly in premium cabins helped to push IAG’s passenger unit revenue up 8.2% year on year, even though corporate travel is yet to recover. Why then does IAG have such a lowly valuation? It trades on a forward price earnings multiple of just over 4 times, lagging pre-pandemic levels and well below European budget rivals such as easyJet on 8.3 times. The weakness reflects continued suspicion of legacy airlines. Markets are anticipating a “substantial” earnings drop, notes Liberum’s Gerald Khoo. There are several good reasons, though, to suggest some of that scepticism is overdone. For a start, there is evidence across a number of flag carriers that “premium leisure travel” could be a sustaining trend. IAG is investing in BA’s offering to take advantage. At rival Air France-KLM, the load factor in premium cabins was higher in every quarter of 2023 than in 2019.  IAG’s bookings, at 92% for Q1 and 62% for the first half of 2024, are also ahead compared with the same time last year. It is not awaiting big aircraft deliveries that will constrain capacity growth this year — something raised by European short-haul rivals, such as Ryanair. True, non-fuel costs will rise as IAG invests in upgrading lounges, improving its BA call centre and better food. Capital expenditure between 2024 and 2026 is expected to average E4.5b versus E3.5b in 2023, as the group also expects new aircraft deliveries in 2025 and 2026. 
Read more...

El Al defies impact of Gaza conflict to post Q4 and full-year profits

Israeli flag-carrier El Al has fended off the impact of the Gaza conflict, posting a full-year pre-tax profit of $125m, and a net of $117m, after experiencing a strong Q4. El Al generated full-year revenues of $2.5b, a rise of 26%, while operating expenses only increased by 19% to $2.23b. While the Gaza conflict triggered a substantial reduction in passenger traffic, El Al says it benefited from decisions by foreign airlines to suspend services to Tel Aviv and its own ability to adjust its network. As a result, it states, the carrier experienced “increased demand” for flights which exceeded its early estimates and which – combined with other factors – had a “positive effect” on its Q4 results. El Al turned in a 21% rise in Q4 revenues to $678m and a net profit of nearly $40m. It says the positive trend has continued into Q1 this year. The airline points out that, after the outbreak of the conflict, it managed to add extra passenger and cargo services despite the drafting of “hundreds” of its personnel as reservists. El Al adjusted its route network, ceasing flights over Omani airspace and to certain destinations, including Istanbul, Marrakech and Sharm el-Shaikh, and bringing forward termination of seasonal services to Marseille, Nice and Tokyo.
Read more...

Hong Kong airport’s three-runway system ready by year-end, amid talk of ‘new aviation hinterland’

Hong Kong international airport’s (HKIA) Three-Runway System is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year, allowing the airport to tap into what it calls “a new aviation hinterland”. Announcing his government’s annual budget, Hong Kong financial secretary Paul Chan says countries that are part of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt-and-Road’ global infrastructure investment initiative will be a key focus in the near-term, with HKIA looking into “strengthening aviation services between Hong Kong and related countries”. HKIA’s Three-Runway System expansion project comprises the construction of a third runway, as well as a second passenger terminal. Chan, speaking on 28 February, underscores Hong Kong’s importance as an aviation hub, especially for the Greater Bay Area (short for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area). “[Our] vision is to transform HKIA into an Airport City integrating commerce, conventions and exhibitions, tourism, lifestyle, logistics and more, shaping it into a world-class landmark,” says Chan. HKIA will look into opportunities in the Greater Bay Area for cargo and logistics. For instance, Hong Kong is working to develop a sea-air intermodel cargo shipment mode with the Chinese city of Dongguan, where the HKIA Logistics Park is sited.
Read more...

Japan Airlines starts drone service in remote islands for disaster relief

Japan Airlines Co. has kicked off an unmanned drone service to deliver goods and medical supplies in a remote part of Japan that’s prone to heavy rains and landslides. The carrier is working with local authorities in Setouchi town, a tiny inlet in Japan’s southwest that’s home to 8,000 residents. A FAZER R G2 drone will be deployed by Amami Island Drones Co. for the work, JAL said Thursday. People living in the area normally rely on ships for their daily logistic needs. But those vessels are often stranded by rough waves and have to cancel their scheduled runs. The average age of residents in Setouchi town is 53. While JAL has been conducting various drone experiments at different locations, this is its first commercial service for disaster relief and prescient for a nation that’s prone to weather-related catastrophes. “There used to be a lag in grasping the situation when a natural calamity hit the town but with this service, local authorities will know sooner,” a JAL spokesperson said. Similar initiatives are underway elsewhere in Asia. Cross-border drone delivery services between Malaysia and Singapore, for example, may start for critical deliveries such as medical supplies and perishable food, local media reported earlier this month.
Read more...

El Al CEO says airline still in talks with Airbus, Boeing on planes

El Al Israel Airlines remains in negotiations to buy short-haul aircraft from both Boeing and Airbus, CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia said on Thursday. Israel's Gaza war has delayed the decision but one will be made this year, she said on the sidelines of the airline's earnings presentation. "We understand we need to make a decision," she told Reuters. "There are a lot of issues with the supply chain and the fact that we are in a war a little bit delayed our discussions, mainly because they were not eager to come to Israel." "It's 50-50%" between the two aircraft makers, she added.
Read more...

The Dutch government has spent $180M dealing with the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight in 2014

The Dutch government has spent more than E166m dealing with the aftermath of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014, from repatriating victims’ bodies to investigating and prosecuting some of those involved in the downing, according to an official report Thursday. The Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, using a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by separatist rebels. All 298 passengers and crew were killed, including 196 Dutch citizens. A Dutch court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian in 2022 of involvement in the downing of MH17 and sentenced them to life imprisonment. They were tried in absentia and have not been detained to serve their sentences. The court ruled that the missile and its launcher were driven into Ukraine from a military base in Russia and the launcher returned to Russia afterward. The trial and the massive investigation that preceded it cost a total of more than E87m, according to the Netherlands Court of Audit, which calculated costs through the end of 2022. The total does not include about E16.5m that the Dutch government paid to next of kin last year as an advance on compensation that the Dutch court ordered the three men convicted in the downing of MH17 to pay. “This compensation should ultimately be paid by the perpetrators, but it is open to question whether they will,” the report said.
Read more...

Yet another Pakistan Airlines flight attendant vanishes during Toronto layover

A flight attendant working for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) left her uniform and a brief thank-you note to her employer in a Toronto hotel room before disappearing, the website India Today reported this week. It’s at least the second time this year such an incident has happened, and the tenth time in the last two years. According to the news site, PIA crew member Maryam Raza arrived in Toronto on a flight from Islamabad on Monday but didn’t report for duty on her return flight to Karachi the next day. A search of her hotel room turned up a note saying “Thank you, PIA,” along with her uniform. Maryam’s disappearance comes just a month after PIA flight attendant Faiza Mukhtar’s similar disappearance. Mukhtar, who was scheduled to fly back to Karachi a day after landing in Toronto, “did not board the flight and disappeared,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan told the website TheMediaLine. The disappearances are something of an embarrassing trend for the airline, which has been battling financial and credibility losses in recent years. Last November, Pakistan-based Ary News reported that two flight attendants had “slipped away” after arriving on flight PK-772 from Islamabad to Toronto. Crew members named Khalid and Fida did not show up for their return flight. Similar cases involved crew named Muntazir in July, and Ijaz and Ramzan, both in October 2022. In all, there have been at least 10 missing crew over the past two years, but other disappearances go back to at least 2018.
Read more...

Cathay’s budget carrier holding back tickets on plane delays

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s budget carrier HK Express is holding back “a small percentage” of tickets from sale as it deals with the prospect of new plane delivery delays, CEO Jeanette Mao said. “It’s not good for sales because it leaves a shorter lead time for the booking window,” Mao said in an interview on the sidelines of the Aviation Festival Asia conference in Singapore on Thursday. “Only when there are more assurances then we release to the system for sale.” Hong Kong’s only low-cost carrier is trying to manage the twin effects of a Pratt & Whitney engine grounding that will impact 10 of its jets, while aircraft delivery delays plague the industry. Nevertheless, the budget unit of Cathay has rebounded to around 140% of pre-Covid flight volumes as of February and should be at 170% by year-end. The airline’s expansion is key to helping Cathay meet its target of returning to pre-Covid levels around the end of 2024. As part of its expansion push, HK Express has added new routes this year to Beijing Daxing and Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport. It’s current route network is 70% Northeast Asia, 5% China and 25% Southeast Asia. In the longer term, the carrier wants to be more balanced and diversified, meaning raising flights to China and Southeast Asia to one-third each, Mao said. Load-factors look healthy for Easter and the northern hemisphere summer travel season, and fares should face “gradual” downward pressure as more airlines re-enter or boost capacity to Hong Kong, she said.
Read more...

AirAsia operator makes first annual profit since COVID pandemic

Capital A, the parent of budget airline AirAsia, reported on Thursday its first full-year profit since the COVID-19 pandemic struck four years ago thanks to strong travel and freight demand. Capital A recorded a net profit of 507.6m ringgit ($107m) for the year ended in December, swinging from a loss of 3.3b ringgit in the previous year, it said. Revenue jumped by 129% year on year to 14.8b ringgit in 2023. The figure is also 25% higher than in 2019 despite the company operating only 80% of the fleet it was using in the pre-pandemic year. Tony Fernandes, CE of Capital A and co-founder of AirAsia, said the group has emerged "stronger and more resilient than ever," helped by its diversified business model. Bo Lingam, the CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, painted a positive outlook for 2024 and set a target of achieving 90% of pre-pandemic capacity for units AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Indonesia and AirAsia Philippines. "We aim to bolster our capacity on routes to China and India, taking advantage of the robust demand while also putting strategic emphasis on other high-yield routes," Lingam said. AirAsia Aviation Group recorded a passenger load of 88% in 2023, an increase of five percentage points year on year. The regional airlines carried nearly 57m passengers in 2023, reaching 77% of the pre-pandemic level. Revenue for 2023 surged 143% to 13.5b ringgit from 2022. Lingam said he expected further upside in ancillary income and a fall in fuel prices. Capital A's subsidiary logistics business, Teleport, posted a 56% year-on-year rise in revenue to 730.9m ringgit, driven by a 275% annual rise in the volume of e-commerce parcels it delivered. Cargo volume also rose 88% in 2023 from a year ago. Teleport's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to 20m ringgit in 2023, from an EBITDA loss of 26.9m ringgit in 2022.
Read more...