Porter Aviation Holdings sells Toronto City Airport terminal
Porter Airlines’ parent company, Porter Aviation Holdings Inc. (PAHI), has completed the sale of its passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) to Nieuport Aviation Infrastructure Partners GP (Nieuport Aviation), a consortium of Canadian and international infrastructure equity investors.
“Nieuport Aviation is a seasoned airport operator that will deliver exceptional service at the terminal and help build on the existing overall superior travel experience for passengers,” said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of PAHI. “We will work closely with its management team over the next few months to ensure a seamless transition. This transaction further strengthens our core business with Porter Airlines and positions the company for continuing growth and success.”
PAHI operated terminal facilities at BBTCA through its subsidiary, City Centre Terminal Corporation (CCTC), which constructed the terminal in 2010. Porter Airlines will maintain and enhance its service at the airport in coming years.
Nieuport Aviation comprises InstarAGF Asset Management Inc. (InstarAGF), Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited, Partners Group, and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
BBTCA is the ninth busiest airport in Canada, serving 2.4 million passengers in 2014. The airport generates approximately $1.9 billion in total annual economic impact and supports approximately 5,700 direct and indirect jobs.
The sale price of the terminal remains undisclosed.
easyJet to launch Liverpool–Zante route for summer 2015
With a new once-weekly Thursday service beginning between Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) and Zante from 23 April, easyJet will operate 30 routes in total from LJLA as part of its 2015 summer schedule.
Zante, also often known as Zakynthos, is the most southerly of the Ionian Islands. Ali Gayward, easyJet’s commercial manager for the UK, remarked, “We’re delighted to be adding Zakynthos to easyJet’s range of destinations from Liverpool. This announcement today highlights our commitment to providing affordable routes to summer destinations from Liverpool and we’re pleased to be able to strengthen our route network.
“Our Greek routes are proving extremely popular for those who wish to get some easy and affordable summer sun, and we’re sure that this new route will be no exception,” Gayward added.
Singapore-based LFAs join KrisFlyer FFP
Scoot and Tigerair have become programme partners of Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer programme (FFP) KrisFlyer, allowing members increased options when redeeming rewards from April 2015.
“We are very pleased to be bringing Scoot and Tigerair into the KrisFlyer family and to offer our members more ways to use their miles,” said Singapore Airlines’ SVP of marketing planning, Lee Wen Fen. “Scoot and Tigerair are already important parts of the SIA Group’s portfolio of airlines. Including them as KrisFlyer partners is a natural development and will help us live up to our promise to constantly offer more benefits to our members.”
The carriers also plan to offer KrisFlyer members the option to earn KrisFlyer miles on Scoot and Tigerair by the end of this year.
Group CEO of Tigerair, Lee Lik Hsin, commented, “We are excited to welcome KrisFlyer members to fly with Tigerair to our wide network of destinations in Asia. Our growth over the last decade is made possible only with the support of our passengers, of whom many are frequent flyers. We are hence delighted to participate in the KrisFlyer programme.”
Wizz Air to move Gdansk flights due to runway works
Between 13 and 14 June 2015, Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport is undergoing planned runway works, which means Wizz Air has opted to run a reduced flight schedule from Bydgoszcz Airport between these dates.
To minimise inconvenience, Wizz Air is providing buses between both airports. Bydgoszcz Airport is approximately a 2 hour road journey from Gdansk.
Wizz Air has also pointed out that the last three flights on Friday 12 June will return to Bydgoszcz for the night and similarly, the first three flights on Monday 15 June will also depart from Bydgoszcz.
airBaltic to introduce two new services from Tallinn
As part of its 2015 summer schedule, airBaltic is launching direct routes between Tallinn and Berlin and Tallinn and Vienna.
Both new services will operate four times weekly using Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, with the Talinn–Berlin service launching on 6 May and the Tallinn-Vienna service beginning on 7 May.
The Vienna route is part of airBaltic’s codeshare agreement with Austrian Airlines. “We are delighted to be announcing our third direct route to Vienna,” remarked Martin Gauss, airBaltic’s CEO.
Talking about the new Berlin route, Gauss continued. “In addition to our existing Tallinn–Paris route launched last year, travellers from Tallinn will be able to benefit from a new direct connection to the heart of Europe and onwards to the south, which we can offer together with our codeshare partner Air Berlin.”
Wizz Air confirms 20th base in Kosice, Slovakia
Wizz Air plans to open its 20th operating base in Kosice, Slovakia, on 14 September 2015 with a new Airbus A320 based there.
The A320 will fly on two new routes, Kosice–Doncaster Sheffield and Kosice–Milan Bergamo, which represents a 50% year-on-year capacity at Kosice. In total, Wizz Air will offer 11 weekly flights on 3 routes from Kosice, hoping its expansion in Slovakia will fuel the local job market in the aviation and tourism sectors.
József Váradi, Wizz Air’s CEO, commented, “This announcement underlines Wizz Air’s commitment to Slovakia. We started our operations in Slovakia just 18 months ago and have already carried over 130,000 passengers on our Kosice and Poprad routes. Slovakia will be the 12th country in which we have established base operations. We look forward to bringing more low fares and attractive routes to Slovakian consumers and their visitors.”
Qantas to test Samsung’s VR headsets for IFE
Qantas has partnered with Samsung Electronics Australia (Samsung) to trial the latter’s Gear virtual reality (VR) headsets in its international first lounges at Sydney and Melbourne airports from mid-February, as well as in first class cabins as in-flight entertainment (IFE) on select A380 services from mid-March.
Olivia Wirth, Qantas’ executive of brand, marketing and corporate affairs, stated, “Whether the user wants a virtual tour of our new Los Angeles First Lounge or to experience an A380 landing from the tarmac, this technology gives us a completely new way to connect with our customers.
“From an IFE perspective, it’s an industry first. Qantas is committed to being at the forefront of innovation to give our passengers the very best and latest in-flight experiences, like accessing the virtual worlds of their favourite Hollywood blockbusters from the comfort of their seat 40,000 feet above the ground.”
The trial of the Samsung Gear VR headsets will run for three months to assess customer feedback on how this kind of VR offering might add to their overall travel experience on long-haul flights.
Alongside allowing passengers to watch films in a 360 degree style interactive format, Qantas is planning to use the Samsung Gear VR headsets to promote certain destinations. Tourism NT is the first tourism group to partner with Qantas on content creation, with a special 3D experience from Kakadu National Park.
Qantas is also working closely with production company Jaunt to develop and produce other live-action content including destination footage.
Southwest opts for McMurdo’s Kannad ELTs
Southwest Airlines is to implement Kannad Survival Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) from France’s McMurdo Group across its fleet of 636 Boeing 737s.
The ELTs, provided by McMurdo’s aviation partner Aviall Services, enable first responders to locate the aircraft as soon as possible and potentially save more lives, as their signal from an ELT or distress beacon is relayed via satellite to mission control and rescue coordination centres. McMurdo’s Kannad ELTs are already used by airlines such as British Airways and China Airlines.
“For over 25 years, Kannad has provided aircraft manufacturers and airlines with high-performing and highly reliable search and rescue technologies providing redundant transmission and GPS,” stated Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of McMurdo. “We are proud to be the search and rescue ELT provider entrusted with providing critical, timely location identification of Southwest's aircraft in the event of an emergency.”
The ELTs are removable from the aircraft and are stowed to facilitate usage by crewmembers in emergency situations.
Thierry Casale becomes ATR’s SVP programs
In a newly-created role of SVP programs at ATR, Thierry Casale is to take charge of supervising, coordinating and setting priorities in all serial developments and fleet-in-service activities to anticipate and meet customers’ expectations.
Casale, who moves to SVP programs from his previous role at ATR as SVP operations, will lead programme management, engineering, production (final assembly line, delivery), programme quality and supply chain activities. He reports to ATR's chief executive officer Patrick de Castelbajac, and will sit on the Executive Committee.
After graduating from ESTACA (France) in aeronautical engineering in 1991, Casale joined EADS Sogerma in Bordeaux, where, in 1998, he became director of maintenance for Airbus aircraft. By 2004, he was appointed VP industrial operations, managing MRO activities for aircraft and components; cabin completion for VIP aircraft; and industrial support for the EADS Sogerma plants of Bordeaux and Toulouse, leading a team of 600 people.
He joined ATR in 2005 as VP industry, in charge of the new aircraft assembly line and industrial support for the second-hand aircraft market.
Tigerair reports 3QFY15 financial results
Tiger Airways Holdings has reported a profit after tax of S$2.2 million for the third quarter of this financial year (3QFY15, which ended on 31 December 2014), a turnaround from a loss after tax of S$118.5 million recorded in the corresponding quarter of prior year (3QFY14).
Group CEO of Tigerair, Lee Lik Hsin, explained, “We had to make some difficult decisions in the turnaround process. Though we are not out of the woods yet, we are encouraged by the improving financial results. We are also heartened by strong shareholders’ support of our rights issue.”
The total revenue for the quarter improved by 5.9% to S$182.3 million, while total expenses contracted by 1.5% to S$178.2 million year-on-year. This resulted in an operating profit of S$4.1 million, compared with an operating loss of S$8.8 million a year ago.
Tigerair claims the improved performance reflects the success of the Group’s initiatives to focus on its Singapore operations in its execution of turnaround plan, as it was achieved due to a stronger yield (+4.9%), a load factor which increased by 6.2 percentage points, and a capacity decrease of 5.7%.
In terms of the Group’s future plans, it will continue to drive improvements in operating performance through strategic alliances with Scoot and with the rest of the Singapore Airlines Group.
Aeromexico Connect to operate new Monterrey–Miami service
From 26 March, Aeromexico will begin a new nonstop daily service between Monterrey International Airport in Mexico and Miami, Florida, USA, using a 76-seat Embraer 170 operated by Aeromexico Connect.
“The launch of operations from Monterrey to Miami is an integral part of the plan to strengthen our second largest hub in Mexico during 2015,” commented Anko van der Werff, Aeromexico’s chief revenue officer. “Miami will thus become our ninth international destination served by this airport, making us the number one choice for customers requiring a quick and easy connection to the United States from cities such as Aguascalientes, Bajio-Leon, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Puebla, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Tampico and Toluca.”
JAL converts LoI for 32 MRJs to firm order
Japan Airlines has signed a definitive purchase agreement for 32 MRJs from Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, which will be operated by J-Air, the JAL Group’s 100% owned regional airline subsidiary.
The firm purchase order follows the signing of an initial Letter of Intent (LoI) back in August 2014. Including these 32 aircraft, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet has received a total of 407 orders (consisting of 223 firm, 160 option and 24 purchase rights).
Deliveries to JAL are scheduled to commence in 2021. “As a network carrier that also operates regional jets, we are contributing to the birth of Japan’s first passenger jet,” stated JAL’s president, Yoshiharu Ueki.
New airline training partnership announced between CTC Aviation and EPST
European Pilot Selection and Training (EPST), which is based in the Netherlands, has selected UK-based CTC Aviation as its partner of choice to deliver training and placement services for its Europilot programme.
“Having worked with EPST in the pioneering days of their Europilot programme in the late 1990s, we are absolutely delighted to once again be working with a partner organisation that shares our core values of quality and innovation in airline pilot training coupled with a genuine commitment to excellence,” remarked CCO of CTC Aviation, Anthony Petteford.
After demonstrating suitability for EPST’s Europilot programme in Maarsen, students will undertake 6-months of ATPL theory training and examinations with CTC Aviation in Southampton. They will then commence CPL flight training on Garmin 1000 equipped Diamond DA40NG and DA42NG aircraft and simulators at CTC Aviation’s newest training centre in Phoenix Goodyear, Arizona, before then returning to the UK to complete instrument rating training in Bournemouth.
The multi-pilot Airline Jet Foundation Training Course (AJFC), which includes multi-crew co-operation training (MCC), will be completed at EPST’s training centre in Maarsen in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, as part of this new agreement, EPST will work in partnership with CTC Aviation’s dedicated airline resourcing team to facilitate airline placement opportunities for the Europilot graduates. Aircraft type rating training will be carried out either by EPST, CTC Aviation or an employer airline.
‘In-flight Wi-Fi took off worldwide’ in 2014, says Routehappy
As the result of an enhancement to its in-flight Wi-Fi data, Routehappy – a product differentiation platform for air travel – has been able to analyse the global state of Wi-Fi, branding 2014 as ‘the year in-flight Wi-Fi took off worldwide.’
The company has now introduced the ability to identify flights based on both the chance of them including in-flight Wi-Fi (‘some’, ‘good’, or ‘very good’, based on fleet-wide rollouts) and the Wi-Fi type (‘good’, ‘better’, or ‘best’, based on underlying technology offered) alongside its scores and happiness factors for a range of in-flight amenities.
Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said that their research into in-flight Wi-Fi capabilities among airlines worldwide is the most extensive study that has been conducted.
Its newest report reveals that the US is steaming ahead in terms of in-flight connectivity. Although 52 airlines worldwide offer in-flight Wi-Fi in most regions of the globe, U.S. airlines offer ‘some’ chance of Wi-Fi on 66% of their flights across their entire network, whilst non-U.S. airlines offer ‘some’ chance of Wi-Fi on just 15% (and even then that’s only on international flights). This averages out to fliers having ‘some’ chance of Wi-Fi on 24% of flights worldwide.
But it’s only in the last 18 months that US airlines have started seeing a dramatic improvement. Take United Airlines (United), for example. Back in July 2013, United offered ‘some’ chance of in-flight Wi-Fi on 518 U.S. domestic flights. Today that figure has nearly trebled to 1445, which is a 179% increase. Now, United also has the most international planes with in-flight Wi-Fi and offers what Routehappy categorises as ‘best’ Wi-Fi (the most technical systems available, capable of streaming video).
Routehappy claims the ‘best’ – or highest bandwidth system – is currently available on nearly 1% of U.S. flights, with JetBlue being the only other airline live with ‘best’ available Wi-Fi. However, it predicts the number of flights offering improved Wi-Fi services will continue to increase with the rapid adoption of faster, satellite-based technology. For example, airlines are now upgrading from Gogo ATG to Gogo ATG-4 on hundreds of aircraft. As reported by Inflight-Online.com, you can read about Gogo’s 2015 aircraft installation plans here.
Icelandair and Norwegian are leading the charge across the rest of the globe, offering a ‘very good’ chance of in-flight connectivity on over 80% of their international flight miles.
“Wi-Fi is one of the most sought after, new amenities flyers want to access on their flights, and there has been significant investment by airlines since our last report,” Albert explains. “Coverage is starting to be meaningful on flights worldwide, along with a wide variety of speeds, coverage availability, and pricing models, including free of charge. The industry needs a trustworthy source of truth for in-flight Wi-Fi offerings. Routehappy has decided to make it a focus area, and is pleased to have greatly enhanced our Wi-Fi data in our Scores & Happiness Factors API to benefit users of our customer sites.”
You can see the full infographic detailing Routehappy’s latest Wi-Fi insights here.
Neil Thomas becomes engineering director of STG Aerospace
Cabin lighting specialist STG Aerospace has appointed Neil Thomas (pictured) as its new engineering director.
A graduate in electronic engineering, as well as a chartered engineer and chartered manager, Thomas specialises in leading multi-disciplinary engineering teams and providing customers with technical interfaces (including STC documentation and support).
Thomas’ previous roles have included a stint as sales engineering manager at Page Aerospace, where he gained experience of cabin ceiling and sidewall fluorescent systems, LED-based accent lighting and exit signs.
During the ten years he spent with Pascall Electronics, Thomas dealt with power supplies for in-flight entertainment and fileservers on commercial aircraft. He also expanded the business to enable in-flight mobile phone and Wi-Fi use.
Finally, Thomas has worked in the passenger interface and seating environment where, due to the visibility of seat products to the airline and passenger, the quality and consistency of the LED backlighting, alongside its luminance and colour match to other parts around it, is critical.
“We’re delighted that Neil has joined STG Aerospace. His background, experience and skills will be a significant asset to us as we continue to pioneer new lighting technologies and build on our position as a key player in the aircraft cabin lighting market,” says Nigel Duncan, CEO of STG Aerospace.
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