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United plane lands after engine-overheat warning

United says a flight from Costa Rica to Houston was cut short by an engine-overheating warning. Airline spokeswoman Erin Benson says the two-engine Boeing 737 circled to burn fuel, then returned Monday to the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica. She says the plane was over normal landing weight, so fire crews stood by at the airport. A reporter among the 165 passengers tweeted that it was a frightening experience. Aviation-safety consultant John Cox says Boeing 737s can't dump fuel but are designed to land slightly overweight. He says it sounds like the United crew did everything right, including throttling back and returning to Costa Rica on one engine. Benson says the passengers will get compensation and fly to Houston Tuesday.
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Alitalia prepares for special administration after rescue plan rejected

Alitalia is preparing for special administration proceedings after workers rejected its latest rescue plan, making it impossible for the loss-making Italian airline to secure funds to keep its aircraft flying. Workers on Monday rejected a plan to cut jobs and salaries, betting the government will be asked to call in an administrator to draft an alternative rescue plan. Alitalia has been bailed out by Italy and private investors repeatedly over the years but Italy's industry minister on Tuesday ruled out nationalisation and public funds for the carrier. The airline, 49%-owned by Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, has made a profit only a few times in its 70-year history and, with around 12,500 employees, is losing at least E500,000 a day. The airline said after a board meeting it would "start preparing the procedures provided by law" and a person close to the company said the board would seek shareholder approval to request the appointment of a special administrator. "It is not an option but a must," the person said, adding, "The board ... can only do what it has to do." The administrator would assess whether Alitalia can be overhauled or should be wound up, before preparing industrial and financial plans for a rapid revamp, either as a standalone company or through a partial or total sale. If all else fails, it could trigger liquidation. Alitalia's flight operations remain unchanged for now, the company said in a statement.
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JetBlue delays some jet deliveries, swaps Airbus models

JetBlue Airways said it was postponing delivery of 13 aircraft scheduled for 2019 and 2020, and had swapped its 2018 Airbus order of A321neos to 11 A321ceos, which have an earlier engine design. In its Q1 earnings call, JetBlue said it was deferring eight aircraft from 2019 to 2023 and five aircraft from 2020 to 2024. Deliveries of Pratt & Whitney engines have been disrupted by various technical problems, forcing Airbus to replace some A320neo jets with the earlier model to keep production lines flowing smoothly. It has made extra copies of the earlier type available for airlines that want them. Differences in fuel performance are less obvious when planes fly shorter routes. One expert said as many as 72 of the new Pratt engines have been taken off the wings of A320neo aircraft for inspection or repairs since entering service.
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US: States alarmed by laser strikes on aircraft are passing laws

Michigan State Police pilot Jerry King was flying his state plane back to the Lansing airport after a mission when he saw a green pulsing light in the night sky. Suddenly, he was blinded by a bright flash, much like staring into a camera flashbulb as it goes off, and he was unable to see for several seconds. “It’ll seem like 10,” King said. “If you lose control of the aircraft, that’s it. It’s not like a co-pilot’s going to take over.” The cockpit of the single-engine plane was hit by a laser beam directed by someone on the ground. Such incidents once happened occasionally to pilots, as laser devices became commonly available to amateur astronomers, construction engineers and others, but now are reported at least 7,000 times a year. Michigan is poised to join a growing list of states enacting new laws to combat increasingly frequent laser attacks and put those responsible in prison. Twenty-two states now have passed such laws, most in the last few years. The Michigan legislation was approved unanimously by the Senate Tuesday and could be referred to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature as early as next week. It would make “lasing” an aircraft or train a felony punishable by five years in prison. Though there have been no known air crashes caused by laser strikes, some pilots have been injured, and authorities are alarmed by the danger of pilots temporarily blinded as they are landing or taking off at airports. King sustained a flash burn in his left eye, requiring a trip to an ophthalmologist and a course of eye drops.
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Officials seek to ban city travel on United after dragging

Officials in a Massachusetts city are trying to ban employees from using public funds to fly on United after a passenger was dragged off a flight in Chicago. The Boston Globe reports the Cambridge City Council passed a proposal Monday asking the city manager to ban official city travel on the airline so long as there are alternative options. United came under fire when a video showed airport police drag a passenger down the aisle and off a plane this month after he refused to give up his seat to make room for an airline employee. United CEO Oscar Munoz has since apologized. Council members say United "does not reflect Cambridge's values." The airline says it no longer allows crew members to displace passengers who are already seated.
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How a piece of paper may seal the fate of Alitalia

Antonio Amoroso, an Italian transport union official, emerged from a building at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport this week holding a piece of paper that could seal the collapse of Alitalia, the country’s flag carrier. On it was a handwritten tally of votes from the airline’s nearly 12,000 employees, showing that they had overwhelmingly rejected a deal mediated by the government nearly two weeks ago to cut salaries and jobs in exchange for a new cash injection from private investors to save Alitalia.  “The Arabised Alitalia has failed,” said Amoroso, referring to the 2014 agreement which made Etihad, the UAE-based carrier, a 49% shareholder in the company. “We are asking the government to reopen talks to find a different solution,” he added. Amoroso is betting that overwhelming political pressure will lead Rome to proceed to another taxpayer bailout of the Italian airline, which has been around since 1947.  For decades, successive Italian governments have propped up Alitalia as a matter of national pride and political survival, ploughing an estimated E7b into it since the 1970s despite the fact that it rarely turned an annual profit. At each critical juncture, the sequence has been familiar: mounting concerns about the financial viability of the airline, halfhearted or botched restructuring and privatisation plans, management shake-ups, strikes by angry employees and last-ditch rescue talks.  But this time may be different. The Italian government, led by centre-left prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, has ruled out the nationalisation of Alitalia, and warned that Monday’s vote was its last chance for survival. On Tuesday, Alitalia’s board said that the airline’s recapitalisation was now “impossible”, convening a shareholder meeting for April 27 to pave the way for the airline to go into administration. This means it will either be wound down or sold. 
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Emirates CEO says US laptop carry-on ban still puzzles him

The chairman and CEO of Dubai's long-haul carrier Emirates said Tuesday he "can't dig into somebody's mind" to understand why the US instituted a ban on laptops and other personal electronics in carry-on luggage from 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries. However, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said he believes US President Donald Trump is a businessman who "wouldn't want to affect American business" in his decisions. Sheikh Ahmed's careful phrasing mirrored that of his rival, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker, the day before at the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai. The exhibition last year featured a stand by the luxury hotel chain bearing the new American president's name, but this year the company apparently decided not to take part. Sheikh Ahmed didn't mince words, however, when describing what he thought after watching the video of a United Express passenger being forced off a flight. "Those people who dealt with it, they should be more professional," he said. "That is something that should not be acceptable." Sheikh Ahmed also acknowledged the challenges facing the global aviation industry, saying Emirates was considering so-called premium economy seats, planned on launching a new first-class "product" this year and was looking at other measures.
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US: No Plans to expand airline laptop ban to UK airports

A US aviation security agency said there are “no imminent” plans to add the UK or other nations to airports where passengers are banned from carrying electronic devices in the cabin on flights bound for American cities. The UK’s Times and Guardian had reported that US officials notified the UK they were considering such a move, citing unnamed Whitehall officials. “There are no imminent changes to the electronics ban,” US Transportation Security Administration spokesman Michael England said. “However, we are continuously assessing security directives based on intelligence and will make changes when necessary to keep travelers safe.” Starting March 21, the TSA prohibited passengers boarding flights to the US in 10 Middle East airports from carrying devices larger than mobile phones in the cabin. They must be stowed in checked bags.
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United investigates giant bunny death

United is investigating the death of a giant rabbit which was being transported on one of its planes. The 90cm-long bunny, called Simon, was found dead in the cargo hold when the flight arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport from London Heathrow. Reports in UK media say the continental giant rabbit was being delivered to a new "celebrity" owner. United, which has has a torrid few weeks of bad publicity, said it was "saddened" by Simon's death. Animals dying on planes is rare but not unheard of. US DoT figures show that in 2015, the most recent data available, US airlines reported 35 animal deaths. Of those, 14 deaths were on United flights, with further nine creatures injured. Across the year, United carried 97, 156 animals, meaning there were 2.37 incidents for every 10,000 animals transported during the period. That was the highest rate seen any US airline, according to the data.
In a statement sent to the BBC, United said: "We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United and our PetSafe team. "We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter."
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Aeroflot workers are told passengers want attractive flight crews

By Russian standards, the news conference on Tuesday was unusual: an airing of grievances by two female flight attendants who had taken the rare step of suing Aeroflot, the country’s flag carrier, for age and sex discrimination. The event took a bizarre twist, however, as two men defending the airline interrupted the proceedings to upbraid the two employees, talking about one’s breast size, and undercutting repeated assertions from Aeroflot that it had not discriminated by arguing that attractive flight staff were important for business. Both sides focused on what they said was a move by Aeroflot in 2016 to enforce weight guidelines for its cabin staff, suggesting that women fit into a maximum clothing size of 48, equivalent to a 14 in the United States. Men were allowed somewhat more weight, according to an independent union representative. The two women, Evgeniya V. Magurina and Irina N. Ierusalimskaya, who sued separately, said they were barred from international flights, losing a significant chunk of their potential paychecks, because their clothing sizes were larger. (Magurina said hers is 52.) Magurina told the news conference that she wanted to know why her “professional success” was tied to her clothing size. The two women — one of whom had worked for the airline for 26 years — lost their initial court cases and had called the news conference to announce they would appeal.
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