Lufthansa ends Ju 52 passenger flights

Lufthansa is terminating passenger flights with its Junkers Ju 52 in an effort to reduce financial losses associated with operation of the historic trimotor. The airline has until now subsidised its vintage aircraft foundation, Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Stiftung, with a single-digit million euro sum every year. This allowed the 83-year-old aircraft to be used for seasonal sightseeing flights with fare-paying passengers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Lufthansa says that it had no prospect of operating the Ju 52 in an economically viable manner and is thus evaluating "alternative" options. While continuing to fly the 16-seat aircraft for flypasts at air shows and other public events is an option, the airline says "a decision has not yet been made".
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Intoxicated passenger suspected after Aeroflot 'hijack'

Aeroflot is describing an incident on board a Moscow-bound flight as an attempted hijacking, following the diversion of the aircraft to Khanty-Mansiysk. Russia’s federal Investigative Committee states that its Ural division has opened a criminal case on the matter, listing the incident as an “aircraft hijacking involving the threat of violence”. It states that a male passenger, who was intoxicated and claiming to have a weapon, tried to break into the cockpit and demanded that the aircraft change course. The Boeing 737-800 had departed Surgut shortly before 15:00 Jan 22. Some 45min into the flight the aircraft’s captain took the decision to divert to Khanty-Mansiysk where it landed at about 16:15. The attacker, says the Investigative Committee, has been arrested and identified as a resident of Surgut.
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Qantas chief to meet with Perth Airport amid bitter fee feud

Qantas CE Alan Joyce will meet with Perth Airport chairman Nev Power to discuss the airport fee dispute that has been raging publicly since December. Joyce is in Perth this week to discuss the furore around aeronautical fees, which resulted in the airport taking the airline to the WA Supreme Court to recoup more than A$11m in unpaid fees in the 6 months to Dec 2018. The previous fee schedule expired June 30, 2018. The airport started charging Qantas proposed rates and claims the airline has only paid $16.5m of $27.8m billed. The dispute resulted in a public spat between the two entities with Qantas criticising the amount of profit the airport was reaping in a submission to a Productivity Commission inquiry into Australian airport fees.
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EasyJet says drop in airfares will accelerate

EasyJet said a decline in ticket prices is accelerating amid a fare war prompted by overcapacity across the European airline industry. The airline said Tuesday that revenue per seat will drop by mid-to-high single digit percentage points in the fiscal Q2 through March, at constant currencies. That’s after a 4.2% drop in the Q1. Demand remains strong, with Q1 revenue up 14%, aided by a jump in spending on add-ons such as pre-booked seats, while forward sales are “robust” despite uncertainty around Brexit. But fares are taking a pummelling, especially in Berlin, where a base opened after the collapse of Air Berlin will post a loss in 2019. Ryanair set the tone last week with a second profit warning in 3 1/2 months as winter fares fell 3 times faster than predicted.
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US: Newark among airports with longest MLK wait times amid shutdown

The nation’s airport security force continues struggling to find enough workers, creating longer-than-normal wait times at some of the busiest US airports over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The TSA screened 2.18m people Monday, the close of the 3-day holiday weekend, and 4 airports had wait times that exceeded 30 minutes, according to the agency. Airports including Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota; Newark, New Jersey; Seattle and Baltimore have had repeated issues during the weekend. Monday, 7.5% of TSA screeners failed to show up for work, the agency said. That figure was down from Sunday’s 10% absentee rate, but remains well above norms and has been increasing on average. “Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations,” the agency said.
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South African Airways suspends Blantyre services on safety findings

South African Airways has suspended its 3X-weekly service to Blantyre, Malawi, after the South African aviation regulator found what it described as serious safety risks at Blantyre Chileka International. Blantyre is the second city of the small southern African state. The airline initially suspended flights Jan 18 and said Jan 22 the suspension would continue at least through Jan 23. Following a base inspection of SAA’s Blantyre operations, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said it had found defects that potentially put lives at risk. “The finding raised against the national carrier primarily relates to the inadequacy of aviation infrastructure facilities and related emergency support services offered at Chileka International, one of the two Malawian bases utilised by SAA,” SACAA said.
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EasyJet calls itself ‘very well prepared’ for Brexit

EasyJet remains upbeat on the effect of Brexit despite the ongoing lack of clarity on the terms of the country’s exit from the EU in less than 70 days. In a call with analysts, EasyJet executives characterised the airline as “very well prepared” for Brexit and likely “better prepared than anyone else that is out there,” according to EasyJet CE Johan Lundgren. The airline, which has registered 130 aircraft on its Austrian AOC, pledged it has made “good progress” in ensuring access to a spare parts pool in the EU27 and in transferring crew licenses, both of which it expects to complete by March 29. To comply with EU rules, EasyJet has increased its EU/European Economic Area shareholdings (excluding the UK) to around 49%. That brings it close to the 50.1% threshold it needs for recognition by the EU.
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US: Reports of drone disrupt flights at Newark Airport

Flights in and out of New Jersey Newark Liberty International were disrupted Tuesday night after reports of a drone flying near Teterboro Airport. Initially, the FAA said there were reports of 2 drones. Later, they said there were 2 reports of 1 drone. The reports came from the flight crew of a Southwest flight and of a United flight. An FAA spokesman said that the agency stopped flights at the airport after the initial report over the smaller regional airport some 15 miles away. Both airports serve the greater metro New York City area. The drone was reportedly flying at 3,500 feet and has since cleared the airspace over the airport, the spokesman said. Flights have since resumed, the FAA and the airport said.
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EasyJet puts figure on Gatwick drone disruption cost

EasyJet has put the cost of the London Gatwick drone disruption at around GBP10m (US$13m), although overall flight cancellations for the airline fell in Q1. London Gatwick was closed for more than a day during December following the sighting of drones in the vicinity, with a substantial impact on EasyJet, which has its largest base at the airport. EasyJet says the incident affected around 82,000 passengers and over 400 cancelled flights. In its Q1 figures, for the 3 months ending Dec 31, it puts the revenue impact at GBP5m. But EasyJet adds that the cost of the drone situation, which includes customer welfare expenses, amounted to GBP10m. “There has been a one-off cost impact from this incident but underlying cost progress is in line with expectations,” says CE Johan Lundgren.
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US: Aviation unions warn govt shutdown will likely cause mass flight cancelations soon

On the 31st day of the partial govt shutdown, representatives of two major aviation unions warned that mass flight cancelations could soon occur if the shutdown continues to drag on. Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, outlined the shutdown’s consequences on the country’s aviation system. “And as this starts to crumble and unravel, we’re going to see mass flight cancelations, we’re going to see a system that completely unravels and falls apart,” she said. “This is going to have a massive economic impact”. A spokesperson for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association echoed the same sentiment, saying the aviation industry, already under pressure and understaffed, could soon see staffers walking off the job.
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Spirit Airlines sees decision by mid-year on adding smaller jets

Spirit Airlines is targeting a decision by the middle of the year on its next order of single-aisle jets as the carrier prepares its expansion plans over the next 5 years. The airline is talking to each of the major manufacturers, Airbus, Boeing. and Embraer, CFO Scott Haralson said Tuesday. The order size will depend on pricing, though the carrier is trying to secure enough aircraft to tide it over at least through 2022. Spirit has been expanding its network connecting smaller and midsize cities to popular tourist destinations. The airline already has plans to expand its fleet of Airbus A320-family planes to 177 by the end of 2021. Haralson said the airline was weighing the viability of adding a new aircraft type with a different cockpit design to the fleet, despite the increased operational complexity.
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Chinese city Fuzhou offers subsidies on new international routes

The eastern Chinese city of Fuzhou is offering the country’s airlines subsidies of at least CNY300,000 (US$44,000) per flight on new routes to most North America destinations as part of a broad effort to support carriers using its airport. Services on new intercontinental routes to nearer destinations will be eligible for subsidies of at least CNY200,000 per flight, according to a policy document for 2019 the city released Jan 15. Like other Chinese cities, Fuzhou is willing to help pay for additional direct domestic flights to economically important destinations—in this case, CNY30,000 per flight to Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The subsidy of at least CNY300,000 per flight is available for new intercontinental routes of more than 10,000 km, which excludes Australian and European destinations except Spain.
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E-cigarette batteries ignite luggage prior to Air Transat flight

Electronic cigarette batteries have caused another baggage fire involving a Canadian airliner, news that comes days after Canadian investigators determined that similar batteries caused an inflight fire in 2018. The latest fire involved Air Transat flight 443, on an Airbus A321 operating from Cancun to Vancouver Jan 12. During the baggage loading process in Cancun, "brown smoke could be seen coming" from one piece of luggage, according to a preliminary aviation incident report released by the TSB of Canada. The fire burned through the luggage, it adds. "The suitcase was taken away from the gate area and sprayed with a portable fire extinguisher," says the report. "It was determined that the fire and smoke was caused by electronic cigarette batteries that were overheating."
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Lion Air voice recorder until final report: Indonesian official

Indonesian authorities do not plan to provide a public update on the contents of a cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air jet that crashed, killing 189 people, until a final report is released in August or September, an official said Tuesday. The Oct 29 crash was the world's first of a Boeing 737 MAX jet and the deadliest of 2018. The contents of the jet's second black box, which were recovered from the Java Sea north of the capital, Jakarta, Jan 14, could provide a detailed account of the last actions of the pilots. The recording needs to be filtered first due to "background sounds" hindering the transcription, said the chief of the transportation safety committee. Under international rules, a final crash report is due within 12 months if that is possible.
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Alaska Airlines postpones new service as shutdown continues

Alaska Airlines has postponed by 3 weeks its plan to begin service from a new terminal at Paine Field north of Seattle, Washington state, because FAA employees responsible for approving the service are furloughed by the ongoing US govt shutdown. Plans call for Alaska Air Group sister carrier Horizon Air to operate 18 daily nonstop flights between the airport and 8 West Coast cities, using Embraer E175 regional jets. The operation will initiate scheduled commercial service from PAE, which also is home to Boeing’s Everett widebody manufacturing plant. While an environmental assessment by the agency continues, FAA certification and oversight personnel needed to grant final govt approvals of the service from a new 30,000-sq-ft. terminal building are not available, Alaska Airlines said.
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