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Air India sale process to be completed before year-end

The govt plans to wrap up the disinvestment in Air India before end of the year and the preference is veering towards a “domestic buyer" for the debt-laden airline. The Union Cabinet gave an in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment in Air India in June and a panel of ministers headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley is now devising the strategy for executing the sale. “We will complete the process before the year-end. There is no choice but to privatise it,“ a govt source said. While no final decision has been taken, the source said the preference so far is for a “domestic buyer.“ Some foreign companies including airlines have informally expressed interest in buying Air India. Experts say it would be a difficult task to undertake a stake sale in the airline in the run up to 2019 general elections.
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Delta jets clip 2 planes, truck in 24 hours at NY JFK

Delta Air Lines planes were involved in 3 wingtip collisions in separate low-speed accidents over 2 days at NY JFK, leaving one man injured. The NTSB said Thursday that it is investigating the accidents, indicating that they may be more serious than usual or that there may be a pattern. The first accident occurred Aug 15, when a Boeing 737 operated by Delta and an American Airlines Boeing 757 each were taxiing out for departure. The Delta plane’s left wing touched the American jet’s tail. The next day, a JFK ground crew was directing a Delta CRJ regional aircraft in a terminal ramp area when its left wing touched the right wing of a second Delta CRJ plane that was parked at the gate. An hour later, the left wingtip of a Delta MD-88 aircraft touched a flatbed truck as it was turning into a ramp area.
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Air Berlin aims for asset sales to at least two buyers: CE

Air Berlin aims to strike deals to sell assets to 2 or more buyers by the end of September, before a govt loan keeping its planes in the air runs out, its CE said. The group is in talks with a total of 3 aviation firms, including Lufthansa, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Thomas Winkelmann as saying Thursday. All three are “reputable in terms of their finances, sufficiently large to offer Air Berlin a secure future and are interested in keeping Germany as a base of operations”, he said. According to Winkelmann, the negotiations also include assets of Air Berlin unit Niki, which Etihad had agreed to buy for E300m (US$354m) earlier this year. Lufthansa has confirmed it is in talks to take over parts of Air Berlin’s business, while a source has said EasyJet was also part of the negotiations.
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Many Germans think Ryanair to blame over Air Berlin deal

Ryanair is furious at being excluded from the Air Berlin carve-up – but many Germans think it only has itself to blame. Unlike EasyJet, Ryanair has earned itself a poor reputation in Germany as a loud bully that is no stranger to the courts. There was a long legal battle over flights to “Frankfurt-Hahn” airport, 130km from Frankfurt, and raids over claims it was skimping on social contributions with pseudo self-employed pilots. And while German passengers love a bargain more than most, there is a growing awareness that budget travel can often come at a cost. So when Ryanair joined a campaign to retain Berlin’s second airport, which it doesn’t service, mayor Michael Müller savaged them for pushing an “aggressive” business model, at the cost of local authorities, that was “not based on sustainability”.
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The incredible shrinking airline seat

There are many reasons to despise flying, from delays, to fees, to overzealous TSA staff. But shrinking seats and the pain, claustrophobia, and rage they can trigger are arguably the biggest justification for airline loathing. The modern seat, with its power to pack more customers onto any given plane, is at the very heart of the industry’s 21st century economics. Slimmer seats and less legroom between rows has enabled “cabin densification” across domestic and international fleets. There are limits, however, even beyond physical constraints. Regulators mandate a certain ratio of attendants to seats, and carriers want to keep labour costs down. Still, the trend has clearly been moving toward scrunching you. Soon, however, that squeeze-play may come to an end.
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FAA changes San Francisco landing rules after close call

Federal officials have issued new rules for night-time landings and control-tower staffing at San Francisco International after an Air Canada jet nearly struck planes on the ground last month. The new procedures will apply when a runway parallel to a plane's designated runway is closed, as it was July 7, possibly contributing to the Air Canada pilots' confusion. When an adjacent runway is shut down at night, air traffic controllers will no longer let pilots make so-called visual approaches to land. Instead, they must use instrument landing systems or satellite-based systems to line up for the correct runway. The FAA said Thursday that the agency also will require 2 controllers in the airport tower during busy late-night periods. Only 1 controller was working during the Air Canada incident.
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Korean Air sees steep drop in China traffic in Q2

After receiving its third Boeing 787-9 in July, Korean Air launched 3X-weekly service between Incheon-Madrid and 4X-weekly service between Incheon-Beijing in early August. With the Madrid route, Korean Air looks to build on the 18% year-over-year increase in European passenger revenue the airline saw in Q2. The Beijing route, however, flies in the face of declines in China passenger revenue (down 26% YOY) and China traffic (down 27% YOY). In Q2 2017, Korean Air reported a KRW200b net loss (US$174.9m), narrowed somewhat from a KRW251b net loss in the year-ago quarter. A deepening of net foreign currency related losses and interest expenses cut in to the company’s Q2 KRW173b operating profit by KRW419b during the quarter.
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Airline investor Woehrl interested in Air Berlin

Airline entrepreneur Hans Rudolf Woehrl is interested in insolvent Air Berlin, a spokeswoman for his company INTRO-Verwaltungss said, responding to a media report saying he was planning a bid. She said it was the only way to avoid creating a German monopoly. Lufthansa is the sole major player remaining. German magazine Capital earlier reported that Woehrl was thinking of teaming up with other investors to make a takeover offer for Air Berlin, citing people familiar with the matter. "INTRO already declared its interest years ago to take a majority stake in the Air Berlin group jointly with additional investors. This interest still exists," the spokeswoman said, adding other investors were involved. "We think Air Berlin is meaningful only as a whole, because that is the only way to prevent a monopoly at the expense of passengers in Germany."
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Spring builds domestic capacity out of second tier bases

Spring Airlines increased capacity by 30.7% in the first half of the year, as it added 7 Airbus A320s to its fleet. The majority of the added capacity went to its domestic network, which saw ASKs rise 43.6%. Capacity on services to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau meanwhile climbed 16.1%, while international capacity received a 10.9% boost. In its first half financials, the carrier says that the majority of its domestic capacity increase went to its second tier bases at Shenyang, Shijiazhuang and Yangzhou. This is since there are slot constraints at its main bases of Shanghai Pudong and Hongqiao International airports, as well as in Shenzhen. Spring added that it stopped poor-yield domestic services out of some second and third tier cities during the period. RPKs on its domestic services rose 41.9% during the 6 months.
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Boeing, Global Eagle to partner on 737 MAX connectivity

Boeing has selected connectivity provider Global Eagle Entertainment to supply its Airconnect 3.0 inflight Wi-Fi system as a line-fit option for the 737 MAX. Installation will begin this fall. Further discussions are ongoing between the two companies about offering line-fit installation on other aircraft types as well. Global Eagle said its Airconnect 3.0 system—which flies on 865 aircraft—is an integrated broadband connectivity platform that “provides airlines, advertisers and passengers a clean, customisable portal on all smartphones, tablets and laptops to surf the web, send emails and text, watch TV and movies, play games and more. It is fully customisable with a modular user interface, providing airlines the flexibility to offer passengers a personalised easy-to-use experience.”
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