United CE Oscar Munoz vows to board airline’s first 737 Max flight

Seeking to reassure travellers, United Airlines CE Oscar Munoz has promised to board his company’s first Boeing 737 Max jet to take flight once regulators clear the aircraft to fly again. Munoz made the promise after United’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. He said the company also will take steps to educate customers and employees about why United feels it’s safe to resume flights of the 737 Max. Boeing has said it completed its software fix for the anti-stall system implicated in 2 crashes in October and March. However, the company has not yet submitted final paperwork to regulators or scheduled a mandatory test flight with FAA. Acting FAA administrator Daniel Elwell repeated that his agency won’t lift the grounding of the Max until it is safe. He said people eventually will get back on the plane.
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Chile high court rejects LATAM route deal with American, BA and Iberia

Chile’s Supreme Court Thursday struck down a proposed deal on routes between carriers LATAM Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia, upending an agreement meant to reshape international air travel in Latin America. The decision comes more than 2years after the carriers announced their plans, termed a joint business agreement. At the time it was seen as a bold move to save costs, coordinate prices and run routes more efficiently, but also raised antitrust concerns. “We are in the presence of an agreement between competitors ... who individually each have relevant market shares and who would acquire a joint market power that would be hard to challenge in a post-deal scenario,” 4 judges wrote in their decision. LATAM said it was “surprised” by the decision and that it was a “step backward” for Chile.
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Investor group to consider Jet Airways rescue plan

India’s airline market remains in a state of flux as a group of potential investors considers what could be the last practical alternative for a revival of Jet Airways. The investors are reportedly preparing to hold meetings with a coalition of Jet creditors to discuss the viability of recapitalising the grounded airline. Some of the investors have been previously linked to efforts to bailout the airline, but their plans have become more credible as they have joined forces. The potential investment group includes Etihad Airways, the Hinduja Group, former Jet chairman Naresh Goyal and AdiGro Aviation, according to local media reports. Etihad and Goyal already own significant stakes in Jet. The coalition of bank creditors may also hold a stake. Etihad has said it is prepared to be a minority stakeholder in Jet as long as other investors can be found.
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Malaysian airline Firefly struggles to fill seats on flights to Seletar

Firefly, which resumed operations to Singapore April 21 after services were suspended in December over a bilateral air disagreement, is struggling to fill seats. The airline which has moved from Changi to the new Seletar Airport now operates 6 flights a day between Subang (near Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore, filling up only about 40% of all its seats. Before the suspension, an average of 65-70% of seats were filled, said Firefly's CE Philip See. He said the airline is now focused on winning back customers lost during the suspension. Firefly is also working with Changi Airport Group, travel agents and other industry partners to raise awareness of the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal which opened in October. "Some still think it's an old military airport," See said.
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To get Boeing 737 Max flying, global consensus will be hard

Boeing and the FAA want global consensus to get the 737 Max flying again. They may have to wait a while. Aviation regulators from around the world, who met in Fort Worth Thursday, are continuing to press the FAA for details on the fix to the anti-stall system, as well as the process for assessing the software, according to an FAA official. One big sticking point: whether to require that pilots undergo additional training on a flight simulator. If some regulators did require training, the condition would mean that the plane could be out of service in certain countries for months longer than expected. Boeing had recently outlined a target of late June to airlines. But the FAA has been more circumspect. “We can’t be driven by some arbitrary timeline,” Daniel Elwell, the acting FAA administrator, said Thursday
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Man who saved second-oldest airline drives it back to the brink

Avianca was a failing airline with 37 outdated planes when German Efromovich purchased it out of bankruptcy in 2004. Over 15 years the he built it into a regional powerhouse as Latin America’s second-largest carrier. But for all its success, the company is now back on a rocky foundation. Its stock price is down by almost 75% since it went public in 2011 and its bonds are trading in distressed territory amid concerns it will struggle to refinance debt. Avianca’s Q1 loss was the biggest since 2015. The man most responsible for the mess is the same who so recently was treated as a hero -- Efromovich. The self-made millionaire imperilled the airline’s future by last year offering up his 51.5% stake in Avianca as collateral on a loan from United Continental. His holding company BRW Aviation quickly breached terms of the contract.
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British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the country. BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan. Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the country, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors. "The final touches are coming together for the airline's return ahead of the first flight Sunday June 2," BA said. It will launch a 3-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said. At present, only loss-making Pakistan International Airlines flies directly from Pakistan to Britain.
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Intoxicated airline passenger faces 20-year sentence

A South Korea-bound Hawaiian Airlines passenger faces a maximum 20-year prison term after a drunken disaster in the skies. Kyong Chol Kim pleaded guilty and told a federal judge that he doesn't remember being put into flex cuffs after lunging at a flight attendant. He was charged on Monday with interfering with flight attendants and flight crew members. He faces a maximum 20-year prison term at sentencing in July. Under the terms of his plea agreement, however, the govt will recommend he be released at his sentencing date. Kim has been in custody since late February. He's not getting off lightly by any stretch; Hawaiian Airlines says it cost US$172,000 to return the aircraft to Honolulu and then to resume the flight for the presumably vexed remaining passengers. Hawaiian and the court will reveal his fine at sentencing.
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FAA tells UN panel it expects Boeing 737 MAX approval as early as late June - sources

US FAA representatives told members of the ICAO they expect approval of Boeing's 737 MAX jets to fly in the US as early as late June, 3 people with knowledge of the matter said, although there is no firm timetable for the move. FAA and Boeing representatives briefed members of the ICAO governing council in Montreal Thursday on efforts to return the plane to service. FAA officials who briefed the council said they expected the ungrounding would take place in the US as early as late June, but it was not clear when other countries would clear the flights, said of the sources. Canada and Europe said Wednesday they would bring back the grounded aircraft on their own terms.
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EVA Air seeks China overflight permits on European routes

EVA Air—which remains banned from flying over Mainland China—continues to wait for overflight permits for direct service from Taipei to Europe via China. As a result, the carrier is forced to operate longer routes between Taiwan and Europe via Russian airspace or Southern Asian routes. For political reasons, Taiwan has been restricted from using northern China’s airspace on flights to Europe. The carrier often must make detours and many flights to Europe must go farther south, depending on the season and wind conditions. EVA Air declined to mention operational costs for such long-haul flights. Europe is a relatively small part of EVA’s network, representing about 10% of the carrier’s business. “But it is strategically very important,” EVA GM-Austria and CEE Edward Ho said.
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Thomas Cook receives offer for northern European business

Thomas Cook said Thursday it received a bid for its northern European business from the private equity firm Triton Partners. The company confirmed that Triton had put forward a “highly preliminary and unsolicited indicative offer” for the Thomas Cook airline and tour operator business in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, which accounts for about 17% of the company’s revenues. The bid comes after a week in which Thomas Cook’s share price fell nearly 40% after it revealed a record GBP1.5b loss for the first half of the year and had its equity valued at zero by analysts from the investment bank Citi. Thomas Cook said it was looking at the offer from Triton alongside the sale of its profitable airline, which it announced in February as part of a company-wide restructuring process.
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US airlines expect Boeing 737 MAX jets need up to 150 hours of work before flying again

Once regulators approve Boeing's grounded 737 MAX jets for flight, each aircraft will likely require between 100 and 150 hours of preparation before flying, officials from the 3 US airlines that operate the MAX told Reuters. The estimate is the first indication of the time needed to bring the jets out of storage following a worldwide grounding in March. The preparations were discussed at a meeting between Boeing and MAX customers in Miami earlier this week, and include a list of items ranging from fluid changes and engine checks to uploading new 737 MAX software. The estimated time frame does not include pilot training, they said. Boeing said the company's maintenance and engineering teams have been working with customers to determine how to efficiently stage work once regulators approve the fleet's return to service.
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Spain’s Volotea grows 2018 profits on fine-tuning network, fleet

Volotea said it achieved a record operating profit in 2018 as it continues to expand in its niche sector. Volotea connects second- and third-tier European cities, cutting out major hubs and specialising in routes that are generally too thin to attract the major LCCs. The company said revenues rose 29% to E396.1m (US$441.6m) over 2017’s figure of E307.5m. Ticket revenues were up 28% at E258.4m and ancillary revenue up 31% at E137.7m. Operating profit (EBIT) was up 63% at E13.6m, compared to E8.3m in 2017. A company spokesman said that, as a privately owned company, Volotea was not obliged to provide a net profit figure, although records show that in 2017 a net figure of E11.2m was posted. The spokesman added the airline had produced a positive net profit figure since 2015.
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FAA issues special conditions for Boeing 777-9 fuel tanks

FAA, leveraging similar requirements issued more than a decade ago for the Boeing 787, has issued special conditions Boeing must follow to demonstrate the 777-9’s composite fuel tanks can withstand tire debris impact. The FAA requirements dictate that “tire-debris impact to any fuel tank or fuel-system component, located within 30 deg. to either side of wheel rotational planes, may not result in penetration or otherwise induce fuel-tank deformation, rupture (e.g., through propagation of pressure waves), or cracking sufficient to allow a hazardous fuel leak.” Testing must be done using a tire debris fragment that is 1% of the tire mass, and the fragment load must be “distributed over an area on the fuel tank surface equal to 1.5% of the total tire tread area,” FAA said.
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Faury defends Airbus forecasting after A380 disappointment

Airbus CE Guillaume Faury has defended the airframer’s forecast methodology, in the aftermath of the decision to terminate production of the A380. The airframer had conservatively estimated 20-year demand for nearly 1,300 high-capacity passenger aircraft in 2007, the year the A380 entered service, and was still putting the outlook for 450-seat jets at nearly 1,200 a decade later, despite poor A380 sales. Airbus disclosed in February that it would end production of the type in 2021 after Emirates – on which A380 production heavily depended – opted to cut back its order backlog, in favour of twinjets. Faury said: “Forecasts are a difficult job, especially when it comes to the future.” He says the airframer adjusts its global forecasting methods each year, examining the past in order to “take into account what we learn”.
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Amadeus begins powering next-gen airline selling via online agencies

Many airlines have unbundled plane tickets to sell a range of extras, such as early check-ins and Wi-Fi access, on their websites. But they’ve struggled to persuade travel agencies and tech vendors to sell their fares and extras in similar ways. But airlines now want online travel agencies to get with the program. Case in point is Travix, an online travel agency group owned by BCD. This month, consumers at all of Travix’s brands began seeing and booking air content powered by the modern technical standards airlines prefer. Content from 16 airlines have been integrated into the back-end within the computers at Amadeus. By the end of the year, Amadeus expects to release the first version of this API that online travel agencies can use to access what Travix has now.
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Officials fighting US measles outbreaks threaten to use rare air travel ban

Health officials in 5 states have warned people believed to be infected with measles and planning to travel that they could prevent them from getting on planes. Eight individuals agreed to cancel their flights after learning the officials could ask the federal govt to place them on a Do Not Board List managed by the CDC, said Martin Cetron, director of the agency’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, which tracks disease outbreaks. “The deterrent effect is huge,” he said. The US is experiencing a record number of measles cases this year – 880 cases have been reported in 24 states. The outbreaks are occurring because vaccination coverage globally and domestically is faltering. Global travel is playing an enormous role in spreading one of the most infectious pathogens from one location to the next.
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Airlines must comply with EASA pilot mental fitness rules in 2020

European airlines have until Q3 of 2020 to comply with EASA’s aircrew mental fitness regulations, which were introduced in the wake of the 2015 Germanwings pilot-suicide crash. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew an Airbus A320 into the French Alps in March 2015. That kicked off a regulatory response by the EU that resulted in new mental fitness regulations, spanning 3 key areas: psychological testing, pilot support and substance testing. Under the new rules, which were finalised by EASA in July 2018, all pilots working for European airlines must have access to a support program to help them to recognise, cope with and overcome problems that could affect their ability to operate safely. Under the new rules, pilots will also have undergo psychological screening at the start of their careers.
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Foreign airlines are cutting back on Australian flights, taking cheap airfares with them

Australians should prepare to pay higher international airfares, as airlines struggling with rising fuel costs cut their capacity on routes here for the first time in more than a decade. Airline flight schedules show the total number of seats being flown out of Australia are set to fall by about 1% from late October to late March. It will be the first time international summer capacity has fallen since 2005, and is a dramatic turnaround following years of rapid growth from overseas carriers. The "unheard of" retreat was primarily due to oil prices rising, up about 45% over the past 2 years, which made long-haul Australian services less viable, said Tony Webber, a consultant from Airline Intelligence and Research. CAPA said both domestic and international aviation had "ground to a halt", which would have "major ramifications for domestic and international tourism.
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