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JetBlue to introduce Baltimore–Fort Lauderdale service
JetBlue has announced it intends to begin operating a twice daily service between Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) from November, with seats going on sale once the airline’s November schedule has been released.
“Since beginning Baltimore flights in 2009, JetBlue has become the preferred option for travellers between BWI and Boston,” commented Scott Laurence, JetBlue's SVP airline planning. “We're expanding upon our successful foundation at BWI for customers travelling to Florida.”
The airline claims the new service will give Maryland and Washington residents a convenient way to travel to South Florida's premier leisure destinations and connect on to JetBlue's network throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America.
JetBlue also serves the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood region with flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International Airports (IAD).
Cobham SATCOM partners with Iridium Communications on NextGen broadband satellites
Iridium Communications has selected Cobham SATCOM as manufacturing partner for its ‘Iridium Certus’ broadband – a new generation of satellite services based on the forthcoming Iridium NEXT constellation – alongside Rockwell Collins, L-3 and International Communications Group (ICG).
The Iridium NEXT constellation will consist of 66 low-Earth orbit inter-connected satellites which, along with the current Iridium constellation, will cover 100% of the globe including the Polar Regions. Cobham SATCOM plans to use a new line of Iridium Certus terminals grow its L-band portfolio which supports cabin and cockpit communication systems for aircraft.
Iridium Communications claims Iridium NEXT’s mesh architecture will be less susceptible to the inclement weather and interference that impacts other systems. The company also predicts Iridium Certus will eventually offer speeds as high as 1.4 Mbps, more than ten times faster than the current Iridium OpenPort broadband service.
“We are delighted to become an official Iridium Certus manufacturing partner and look forward to being part of the massive opportunities that these new services will introduce for satcom users and service providers,” said senior vice president of Cobham SATCOM, Paul Jona. “The inherent advantages of the Iridium NEXT constellation and our expertise in L-band product development allow us to offer innovative communications solutions, providing our diverse customer base in the aeronautical and maritime markets access to the full suite of compelling Iridium Certus services.”
Bryan Hartin, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Iridium, said, “We are excited to be working with Cobham SATCOM, a recognized leader developing game-changing products in aeronautical and maritime markets, and look forward to supporting the next-generation of safety services that result from this partnership. Our selection of Cobham SATCOM demonstrates our long-term strategy to offer superior communications platforms while staying true to our wholesale model – working with our partners as the best way to address growing, diverse markets.”
The Iridium Certus broadband service is expected to be available in Q4 2016. At first, it will be delivered via a hybrid constellation consisting of both current Iridium satellites and new Iridium NEXT satellites until the Iridium NEXT constellation is fully deployed in 2017, when its full capabilities will be available.
JAL to enhance IFEC offering from March
Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced plans for a range of improvements to its in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) services in line with its new slogan, ‘embrace new challenges,’ which is aimed at benefitting both domestic and international passengers.
Since the carrier introduced in-flight Wi-Fi in 2012, it has only been available on Boeing 777-300ERs. From March onwards, Japan Airlines’ paid for Sky Wi-Fi service will also be available on its Boeing 767-300ERs and Boeing 787-8s (which operate on Europe, North America and long-haul Asia routes).
Nine Boeing 767-300ERs and three Boeing 787-8s are due to be equipped with Sky Wi-Fi by the end of 2015, but JAL plans to expand these numbers further in 2016.
Sky Wi-Fi costs $10.15 for one hour and $18.80 for the duration of the entire flight, unless passengers pay by a JAL card, JAL USA card or JAL SPDB credit card, in which case a small discount applies.
JAL is also increasing its free in-flight Wi-Fi video service on domestic routes, offering passengers the opportunity to view up to ten free programmes on personal electronic devices with wireless LAN capability.
Then, from April, JAL’s SKY MANGA programming will be available on its Boeing 787s, with up to ten English versions available to complement the original Japanese, in an attempt to introduce more travellers to the culture of Japanese manga.
April will also see JAL provide passengers with the latest Hollywood and Japanese movies and TV dramas on international routes.
Finally, the carrier is updating the digital books element of its IFE system to showcase haiku (Japanese poetry) written by children from 34 countries and regions around the world in both Japanese and English.
Rex launches Bamaga–Cairns service
Regional Express (Rex) and the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) report that they have developed a beneficial working arrangement that will see Rex launch a new Regular Public Transport (RPT) air service between NPA airport (Bamaga) and Cairns, with the new service to begin on 30 March, subject to regulatory approval.
Cairns-based Rex Queensland State manager Steve Jones commented, "Rex announced on 14 January this year that it was prepared to fill the void left by the collapse of Skytrans and invited interested Cape communities to express their interests. [This] announcement sees Rex providing the Northern Peninsula Area with certainty of a reliable world-class regional air service many years into the future.
“The Rex Board has moved very quickly to approve the commencement of services between Bamaga airport and Cairns due to NPARC’s willingness to forge a mutually beneficial partnership with Rex to ensure the sustainability of a safe, reliable and reasonably priced air service for the region,” Jones noted. “Subsequently, Rex took delivery of an aircraft at the end of January to prepare for services commencing late March.
"The Rex Board is open to exploring similar air services with other like-minded councils in the Cape Peninsula," he added.
CFM’s orders and production at all-time high
During 2014, CFM logged orders for 4,244 engines, compared with 2,723 engines in 2013, marking the highest levels of new engine orders in the company’s history.
CFM’s 2014 orders included 1,527 CFM56 engines (for commercial, military and spares) and 2,717 LEAP engines, valued at more than $50 billion at list price.
Furthermore, CFM reports that it is achieving historic production rates for the CFM56 product line. It delivered 1,560 CFM56 engines in 2014, compared with 1,502 in 2013.
Jean-Paul Ebanga, president and CEO of CFM International, averred, “In the same year that we celebrated our 40th anniversary, we also booked orders and production levels unheard of in this industry. However, we understand that none of this would be possible without the continued confidence from our airline and airframer customers and our commitment to earning that trust every day never waivers. Gerhard Neumann and Rene Ravaud had an incredible vision for this company, but I am certain that even they could not have foreseen what it would eventually become.”
Virgin America first to deploy new Sabre personalisation solutions
Virgin America has announced it will implement Sabre’s trio of new personalisation solutions – Customer Data Hub, Customer Experience Manager and Dynamic Retailer – which together source insights on customers from multiple touchpoints to promote ancillary revenue growth by creating personal offers.
“We wanted technology that would help us better understand our guests' needs, focus on their individual priorities, and create an experience they can't get with any other airline," commented Virgin America’s president and CEO, David Cush. “These new solutions give us invaluable insights into our guests to create tailored experiences that drive loyalty, and support our mission to make flying good again.”
Sabre’s new solutions have been designed to bridge the gap between passenger perceptions of an airline's customer service and the efforts of that airline to create a differentiated customer experience. The divide was highlighted in a survey commissioned by Sabre in which 81% of airline executives said they believe airline customer experience has improved, while 66% of travellers said they believe airline experience has been unchanged or become worse.
“Airline customers today expect more and more from carriers, and Sabre has identified ways airlines can improve the customer experience using established technologies that are already working in other service industries," added Hugh Jones, president of Sabre Airline Solutions. “Sabre's data-driven personalisation vision further enhances reservations and airline retailing systems, giving airlines the ability to understand their customers at an individual level and deliver personalised products and services that customers most value.”
CityJet CEO departs
Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO of Dublin-based CityJet, has stepped down from the post with immediate effect.
Ourmières-Widener has led the carrier since 2010, moving across at the time from a US-based vice-president position within the Air France-KLM Group, which owned CityJet at that time. She continued in the role during the transition of ownership to the INTRO Aviation Group on 1 May 2014.
Ourmières-Widener has also served as a vice-president of the European Regions Airlines Association (ERA).
The news follows the departure in late 2014 of deputy chief executive and CFO Michael Collins.
No statement by either CityJet or INTRO Avitiona has been made regarding a successor.
Volaris reports net profits for both 4th quarter and full year 2014
Volaris has published its financial results for the fourth quarter (4Q14) and full year 2014 (FY2014) with net income of Ps.703 million and Ps.605 million for the respective periods.
The 4Q14 net margin of 17.8% was an improvement of 20.9 percentage points over 4Q13, while for FY2014 net margin was 4.3% for the full year, a net margin improvement of 2.3 pp.
The airline’s total operating revenues were Ps.3,958 million and Ps.14,037 million for 4Q14 and FY2014, respectively, increases of 24.3% and 8.0% year-over-year, respectively.
Total operating revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased to Ps.130.5 cents and Ps.118.7 cents 4Q14 and FY2014 respectively, an increase of 20.7% and a decrease of 0.5% year over year, respectively.
Operating expenses per available seat mile (CASM) increased 1.5% and 0.5% for 4Q14 and FY2014, year-over-year, respectively, reaching Ps.116.4 cents and Ps.116.9 cents. CASM expressed in US cents decreased 9.9% and 10.7% for 4Q14 and FY2014, year over year, respectively. CASM excluding fuel expressed in US dollars reached US4.9¢ for the full year 2014.
Adjusted EBITDAR for the fourth quarter was Ps.1,239 million, a 156.1% increase year-over-year with an adjusted EBITDAR margin of 31.3%, a margin increase of 16.1 pp. Adjusted EBITDAR for the full year was Ps.3,081 million, a 9.8% increase year-over-year with an adjusted EBITDAR margin of 22.0%, a margin increase of 0.4 pp.
During 4Q14 the net increase of cash and cash equivalents was Ps.342 million mainly driven by the resources provided by operating activities of Ps.470 million. Unrestricted cash and cash equivalents was Ps.2,265 million, representing 16% of last twelve month revenues.
Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena commented, "The network adjustments and non-ticket revenue growth strategy together with a continuous focus on cost control produced fourth quarter adjusted EBITDAR, operating, and net margin expansions. We continue to see improvement in the market environment as industry capacity discipline drives a stronger fare environment. We also foresee potential benefits in 2015 from lower fuel costs and the continuation of non-ticket revenue growth."
Volaris noted the effect of exchange rate volatility with the Mexican peso depreciating 6.2% year-over-year against the US dollar, as the exchange rate devalued from an average of Ps.13.03 pesos per US dollar in 4Q13 to Ps.13.84 pesos per US dollar during 4Q14.
Meanwhile, the average economic fuel cost per gallon decreased 10.4% year-over-year in 4Q14, reaching Ps.35.6 ($2.4) per gallon.
In the fourth quarter Volaris experienced pressures in US dollar denominated costs such as aircraft rents, international airport costs, and maintenance expenses. However, Volaris managed to offset most of these increases with efficiencies in salaries and benefits costs and landing, takeoff and navigation expenses.
As of 31 December 2014, the Volaris fleet comprised 50 aircraft (32 A320s and 18 A319s), with an average age of 4 years. The airline expects to end 2015 with 55 aircraft, including its first two A321s in the second quarter of 2015.
As of 31 December 2014, Volaris had Ps.2,265 million in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, representing 16% of the last twelve months’ revenues. The company recorded negative net debt (or a positive net cash position) of Ps.1,017 million and total equity was Ps.4,470 million.
American named as major partner for seven new CRJ900s at Mesa
American Airlines has chosen Mesa Airlines to operate seven new Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen aircraft – the order for which was announced on 5 February – for a 10-year term under the American Eagle brand.
The seven aircraft will bring the total number of CRJ900s operated by the company to 64.
“As the CRJ900 launch customer in 2001 and one of the world’s largest CRJ900 operators, we are extremely pleased to add these brand new CRJ900 NextGen aircraft to our fleet,” said Mesa chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein. “We are proud of our long-time partnership with American, spanning more than 20 years. We look forward to continuing to provide reliable and cost-effective regional jet service for American’s customers with the advanced technology and fuel efficiency provided by this aircraft.”
Mesa will take delivery of the additional aircraft from the Bombardier factory beginning in July, with all aircraft received by September 2015.
Mike Lotz, president and chief financial officer at Mesa, added, “We would also like to thank our 2,500 hard-working and dedicated employees for their contribution to our success. Working together, Mesa is once again one of the largest and fastest growing regional airlines in the world.”
These seven CRJ900s will be operated in a 76-seat two-class configuration with 12 First Class, 36 Main Cabin Extra and 28 Main Cabin all-leather seats and inflight WiFi.
Allegiant purchases two more A320s
Allegiant Travel Company has entered into an agreement to purchase two additional Airbus A320s currently operated by Philippine Airlines.
The aircraft are scheduled to enter Allegiant’s fleet toward the end of 2015 along with two Airbus A319s, taking the company’s capital expenditure for 2015 to approximately $230 million. These aircraft are in addition to a deal in which Allegiant is buying six A319s from Cebu Pacific Air.
“We continue to be successful in finding high quality, used aircraft to support our future growth,” explained Jude Bricker, SVP planning at Allegiant. “These A320s will have 177 seats in the same configuration as our current A320s. As with our other aircraft transactions, we are able to purchase these aircraft for cash. Our strong balance sheet allows us to both find aircraft to support future growth and return cash to shareholders through our previously announced recurring dividend and continuation of our existing share repurchase programme.”
Visa Checkout online payments give Virgin America another ‘first’
Virgin America has become the first US airline to launch Visa Checkout, described as a “simple and speedy new way to process online payments”.
Visa Checkout is designed to make online shopping as easy as a physical card 'swipe'; after signing up once. The system removes the need to enter card details during the online checkout process wherever consumers see the Visa Checkout button.
Visa Checkout is available when booking Virgin America flights across all devices. Its adoption follows the re-design of Virgin America's website in 2014.
"Just like our unique and tech-forward aircraft cabins, our new website represents a major departure from the typical airline experience," explained Virgin America chief marketing officer Luanne Calvert. "We are excited to elevate our guests' web experience even further with the launch of Visa Checkout, bringing the simplicity and speed of the 'swipe' into the online world so our guests can breeze through checkout in just a few clicks, from any device."
Travellers new to Visa Checkout can enroll through the booking path on Virgin America's website. Visa Checkout accepts any debit or credit card, including the Virgin America Visa Signature Credit Card and the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card. Once enrolled, shoppers simply provide their username and password to complete the payment process, without ever having to leave Virgin America's website.
VLM to launch four new routes from Liège
VLM Airlines has revealed plans to introduce its first scheduled flights from Liège, Belgium, to four new destinations from 1 May: Avignon (France), Nice (France), Bologna (Italy) and Venice (Italy).
The carrier will operate five return flights each week (including Saturdays and Sundays) to Nice and Venice and four return flights to Avignon and Bologna (also including Saturdays and Sundays) with all routes flown by Fokker 50 aircraft.
Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines, stated, “With these new scheduled flights, we are focusing on both leisure and business travellers. These new destinations not only appeal to tourists but are also important business centres in their respective regions.
“With the launch of these routes, VLM Airlines now offers a broad range of scheduled flights. Our Antwerp–Geneva route launched last month is already proving successful, and earlier this week we also unveiled routes connecting Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg. With the addition of the Liège routes, VLM Airlines now serves nine destinations in five countries.”
Transavia moves towards paperless cabin with ‘Connected Crew’
From April, Transavia crewmembers will begin using MI Airline’s ‘Connected Crew’ tablet solution, a sales module, document distribution system and passenger insight device integrated into one app, enabling the move towards a paperless cabin.
The sales module – equipped with a catalogue, shopping cart, and offline PCI-DSS compliant or certified EMV payment solutions – communicates with other onboard tablets, creating a constant updated sales overview for each flight attendant.
The ‘Crew Productivity’ module is an FAA compliant forms engine for distributing manuals, briefing documents and safety information. It can be connected with various airline document management systems and supports PDF, HTML, images and video.
In terms of passenger insight, ‘Connected Crew’ creates the opportunity to distribute CRM-enriched passenger name record (PNR) information to the crew securely. It also offers pre-order distribution, passenger profiling and passenger intelligence.
MI Airline has also confirmed that its AirFi Box will be deployed fleet-wide to support the cabin crew. Classified as a T-PED (Transmitting Personal Electronic Device), the AirFi Box offers multiplayer games, product catalogues, in-flight ordering, (miles) payment capabilities using ‘Connected Crew’, digital magazines and newspapers, surveys, group chat, high value targeted advertising, destination information, and basic flight information.
Although the in-flight entertainment capabilities of the AirFi Box won’t initially be available to Transavia’s passengers, MI Airline claims the airline may introduce this element of the product later on in 2015.
Republic Airways Holdings reports financial results for 4Q14 and FY2014
Republic Airways Holdings has released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) and the full year ended 31 December 2014 (FY2014), showing a FY2014 pre-tax income (excluding special items) of $120.2 million, up $17.7 million (nearly 15%) on the previous year.
During 4Q14, Republic extended the service terms of aircraft under its fixed-fee capacity purchase agreements with US Airways and Delta Air Lines as well as agreeing to operate an additional nine E170 aircraft for Delta. For this period, Republic’s pre-tax income (excluding special items) was $32.1 million, an 8.4% increase in comparison to 4Q13.
Although on a GAAP basis – including special items – Republic’s FY2014 pre-tax income was $85.2 million, its 4Q14 pre-tax loss was $1.4 million. “We took some significant steps in 2014 in our effort to simplify and streamline our business,” commented CEO of Republic Airways Holdings, Bryan Bedford. “While this simplification strategy results in near-term transition expenses, such as the fleet impairment charge we took this quarter, the actions that we’ve taken in 2014 and that we intend to take in 2015 are key to the future success of our airline.”
Overall during 2014, Republic’s operational fleet decreased from 258 to 244. The company took delivery of 22 Embraer 175s, permanently parked 15 ERJ 140s, temporarily parked 13 ERJ 145s, sold two E190s and leased three ERJ 145s and three E190s.
On 1 January, 2015, Republic completed its transfer of all Chautauqua Airlines operations onto the Shuttle America operating certificate, and hopes to sell the remaining Chautauqua Airlines entity and related assets during the first half of 2015.
MAEL granted Part M Subpart G approval by EASA
Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited (MAEL) has been issued with a Part M Subpart G approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for its work as a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO).
As a result of its Part M approval, MAEL’s engineering team are now qualified to carry out tasks including continuing airworthiness oversight, maintenance planning, approved maintenance programme development, engine and APU trend monitoring and reporting, defect analysis, maintenance control and planning, structures and repair support, scheduled maintenance, check pack compilation and OEM interface support.
Engineering and maintenance director at MAEL, Keith Earnden, explained, “Monarch Aircraft Engineering is more than an MRO and with our expertise we are able to carry out a full suite of Part M management services for aircraft operators globally. We recognise the significant cost to operators of maintaining an airworthiness management infrastructure and can create a service package to specifically support the operator’s needs.”
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