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Lufthansa to offer Economy 'Light' fare on North American routes

Lufthansa will introduce an Economy “Light” fare on transatlantic routes this summer, the German airlines group said Tuesday, following a similar move by rival BA in an effort to compete with low-cost carriers. The new cheaper fare, which Lufthansa has been testing on some routes between Scandinavia and North America since October, allows passengers on airlines Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines to bring only carry-on luggage on their trip, it said. For an additional fee, they can add check-in luggage or request a seat reservation.
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MH370 search director disagrees with pilot ditch theory

The director of a seabed hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Tuesday disagreed with a new book's conclusion that the pilot likely flew the plane beyond the search area to deliberately sink it in unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau believes the airliner mostly likely ran out of fuel and crashed after flying far off course en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It believes all 239 passengers and crew on board were likely long dead inside a depressurized cabin and cockpit. Search director Peter Foley, who coordinated the search on Malaysia's behalf, was quizzed by a Senate committee on theories in Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance's new book "MH370: Mystery Solved." The book argues that two wing flaps found on islands off Africa in 2015 and 2016 point to pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah performing a controlled ditching outside the 120,000 square km that were scoured by sonar in a A$198m search that ended in January last year. It says Shah's aim was to keep the plane largely intact so it would disappear as completely as possible in the remote southern ocean. Foley, who said he has read the book, pointed to evidence that the plane was not under anyone's control when it hit the water. He said analysis of the satellite transmissions of the flight's final moments showed the jet was in a fast and accelerating descent at the end. Debris from within the plane's interior found washed up on the west coast of the Indian Ocean suggested significant energy on impact, Foley said. "If it was being controlled at the end, it wasn't very successfully being controlled," Foley said. "The flaps weren't deployed," he added.
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Cuba plane crash death toll rises to 111, Mexico suspends lease company

The death toll in one of Cuba’s worst air disasters rose to 111 on Monday while Mexico suspended the operations of the Mexican company that had leased the 39-year old Boeing 737 to Cuba’s flagship airline. Grettel Landrove, a 23-year old Cuban student died in a Havana hospital from “severe traumatic lesions”, Cuban state-run media reported. Two Cuban women remained in critical condition due to burns and other trauma, with a high risk of complications, media reports said. The airliner crashed shortly after takeoff on a domestic flight from Havana to the eastern city of Holguin on Friday in one of Cuba’s worst air disasters. The plane was a Boeing 737 built in 1979 and leased to Cuba’s flagship carrier Cubana by a little-known Mexican company Damojh. Mexico’s civil aviation authority said on Monday it had temporarily suspended Damojh’s operations while it made sure the firm adhered to regulations and gathered information to help investigators find the cause of the crash. Damojh, which owned three 737s before the accident, has been suspended twice before during regulatory compliance reviews, the authority said.
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Argentina weighs five airlines' plans for new Falklands flights: minister

Argentina and Britain are analysing five South American airlines’ proposals for new flights between the Falkland Islands and Argentina, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said on Tuesday. Two of the carriers are based in Chile, two in Brazil and one in Uruguay, Faurie said in a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, without naming them. LATAM Airlines operates the only flight to the Falkland Islands from South America, once a week from Chile. Once a month the flight stops in Rio Gallegos, Argentina. The new flights would originate outside Argentina, with a stopover in the country. A decision on the new flights will be made in coming months, Faurie said. “I certainly intend to be among the first passengers,” Johnson said. Argentina and Britain have been seeking better ties in recent years despite competing sovereignty claims to the British-held islands 500 kilometers off Argentina’s coast. Johnson’s visit for a G20 meeting was the first by a British foreign secretary to Argentina in 22 years.
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United is offering high-paying customers their own airport terminal

How badly does United want high-paying travelers? It's offering them access to a private terminal. Business-class travelers will have access to the Private Suite, a new private terminal in Los Angeles International Airport, avoiding the masses in one of the busiest air hubs in the country. Those premium-class passengers will be driven from the terminal to the tarmac to their planes in a BMW 7-Series sedan. A staff of eight is assigned to each booking, United said. The partnership is United's latest attempt to fill the front of its planes as it works to revamp the business-class product it now calls Polaris. United and other competitors such as American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are also building plusher lounges for these top-paying customers in hubs around the country. "I think this is a very smart move on United's part to compete," said Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel-industry consulting firm Atmosphere Research Group. Because it's in Los Angeles, the airline may be going after VIP travellers in the entertainment industry, who value privacy, Harteveldt added.
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Norwegian Air rises sharply on report of renewed IAG interest

Shares in Norwegian Air soared Tuesday as investors reacted to a report of renewed interest in the budget carrier from BA-owner IAG . Norwegian’s share price rose 11% in early trade to 278 crowns in Oslo after Spanish newspaper Expansion on Monday said IAG is preparing to bid 330 crowns per share for the Oslo-listed airline, citing unnamed sources. “What we can say, is that it’s business as usual for us, we’re expanding rapidly and sales are good. We can’t comment on the ownership situation,” said Tore Oestby, Norwegian Air’s Executive VP for Strategic Development. “Our crystal clear focus is on the purely operational, and to work on costs and efficiencies,” he added. IAG last month disclosed it had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian, but the budget carrier later said it had rejected two takeover proposals.
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AirAsia X reports four-fold quarter one profit jump, record high revenue

Malaysia’s long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X logged a four-fold jump in quarterly profit Tuesday, courtesy of higher passenger volume and shrinking costs. Net profit for the January-March quarter rose to 41.5m ringgit (US$10.47m) from 10.3m a year earlier while revenue rose 7.2% to a record 1.3b. AirAsia X saw an increase in passenger volume of 13% which the carrier attributed mainly to new routes started since mid-2017. Moving capacity from some Australian routes to flights to the North Asian market also helped. AirAsia X said its cost per unit fell 2% year mainly due to the ringgit strengthening against the dollar. Its average fuel price rose 33% to $88 per barrel, the airline said. Excluding fuel, it cut its costs per unit by 10%. “The company recognizes the challenges posed by the recent hike in fuel prices, and best mitigative efforts are being put forth through the boost in ancillary and capacity numbers,” the airline said in a bourse filing. AirAsia X maintained an unchanged load factor of 84% while expanding capacity by 14%. It carried 1.59m passengers in the quarter.
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World: Airlines caving to Beijing despite White House protest

Global airlines are obeying Beijing's demands to refer to Taiwan explicitly as a part of China, despite the White House's call this month to stand firm against such "Orwellian nonsense." The AP found 20 carriers, including Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa, that now refer to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers Chinese territory, as a part of China on their global websites. There are just three days left for dozens of foreign airlines to decide whether to comply with Beijing's orders, or face consequences that could cripple their China business, including legal sanctions. Many have already sided with Beijing. The spread of "Taiwan, China" on the drop-down menus and maps of airline websites represents another victory for China's President Xi Jinping and his ruling Communist Party's nationalistic effort to force foreign companies to conform to their geopolitical vision, even in operations outside of China. Critics say China's incremental push to leverage its economic power to forge new international norms — in this case regarding Taiwan's status — creates worrying precedents. Story has more details.
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Smoke forces evacuation of plane at Newark Airport

A smoking engine forced the evacuation of a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport. United said that when Flight 2160 from San Francisco landed at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, the air traffic control tower notified the crew that smoke was seen coming from one of the engines. Passengers exited the plane onto the taxiway and were bused by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey responders to the terminal. Port Authority police said a hydraulic fuel leak is suspected as a cause for the smoke. A few hours later, a Delta Airlines flight bound for Atlanta returned to the airport with an engine issue. A Delta spokeswoman says the plane was towed to the gate and passengers were accommodated on other flights.
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BA leases out surplus ex-Monarch Gatwick slots

UK carrier BA has confirmed that it is leasing out some of the summer 2018 London Gatwick slots that it acquired from defunct UK leisure carrier Monarch Airlines, because it was unable to use them all. BA parent company IAG announced that it was acquiring Monarch Airline’s London Gatwick slot portfolio in November 2017, primarily for use by BA. A BA spokesman said the extra slots have enabled the airline to operate its biggest schedule from Gatwick in more than a decade, but not all the slots could be used. Under the ‘use it or lose it’ rule, slots must be operated, or they will be returned to the slot administrators for reallocation. “Given the very tight timescales involved it has not been possible to use all of the new slots in the first summer season. While we assess our future growth plans to make maximum use of the additional slots for the years ahead, we have leased out a small number of them, which is a very common industry practice at busy airports,” he said.
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