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.
Gogo set to achieve record number of connected aircraft in 2015
In-flight connectivity provider Gogo has announced hopes to complete installation on more than half of its backlog of over 1,000 commercial aircraft by the end of this year, a target which could see the company reaching a record number of aircraft installs in 2015.
Bringing 500 additional commercial aircraft online by the end of 2015 would bring the total number of commercial aircraft equipped with Gogo’s connectivity service to more than 2,600. The company states the majority of these 500 aircraft will come from recently announced domestic regional jet installs and certain international fleet wins. Gogo expects that around a quarter of its installs this year will be on international aircraft.
As well as connecting new aircraft, 2015 will also see Gogo upgrading previously installed systems to its next generation ATG-4 technology, which the company claims triples peak speeds to the aircraft and brings more capacity to the sky. Although more than a third of the aircraft on which ATG was installed have now been upgraded to ATG-4, Gogo wants to bring that number up to around half the commercial fleet operating in the US, or more than 1,000 aircraft, by the end of 2015.
Michael Small, Gogo’s CEO, stated, “Operationally, what the talented group at Gogo has accomplished and is set to accomplish in 2015 is unprecedented in this industry and continues to amaze me. We are excited about where we are going in terms of bringing new aircraft online and adding significantly more capacity to the network.”
Alaska to offer rentable Microsoft tablets as IFE
From 1 February, passengers flying long-haul with Alaska Airlines (Alaska) will be able to rent Microsoft tablets equipped with in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) including television programmes, XBOX games, music, digital magazines, and in-flight internet access on Wi-Fi equipped flights.
The tablets will continue to be offered at no charge to First Class passengers and members of Alaska’s frequent flyer programme, whilst the new price of the tablets for passengers in other classes will be between US$8-10.
In addition, the airline has also extended its complimentary premium IFE for passenger’s personal electronic devices. The airline was due to start charging for its new ‘Alaska Beyond’ IFE offering at the end of January, but now all content, including premium movies and TV shows, will be free until the end of March.
Starting April 1, passengers can still access a wide selection of complimentary content across more than 100 titles, with prices for premium movies and TV shows starting at US$1.99.
Halle Hutchison, Alaska's managing director of brand marketing, commented, “Our customers tell us they love our new, free, in-flight entertainment service, and we're listening. We're excited to continue offering our premium content – like mainstream movies and TV – to reward customers for trying out Alaska Beyond Entertainment.”
Comedy rules on Hawaiian Air’s North American routes
Whilst reviewing its passenger’s in-flight data purchases for the 2014 year, Hawaiian Air (Hawaiian) discovered that four of the five most-watched films on routes to and from North America fell under the comedy genre.
The airline has revealed findings showing that ‘The Other Woman,’ a comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, not only topped the most-watched list on Hawaiian’s North American flights, but has also been the most-watched film overall since the carrier launched its in-flight entertainment programming.
‘Lone Survivor’ starring Mark Wahlberg was the only action film to be included in the top 5 most-watched films on North American routes, ranking second after ‘The other Woman’. The three remaining most watched films are the comedies ‘Ride Along’, ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘22 Jump Street’.
Interestingly, Hawaiian has stated that regardless of the market or the flight being inbound or outbound, these titles ranked the same among passengers.
The airline also notes that when studying the whole of Hawaiian’s network, the top 5 most-watched films differ entirely, with heavily promoted blockbuster titles dominating the list. The most-watched film across the entire Hawaiian Air network for 2014 was ‘Maleficent’, followed by ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,’ ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and ‘Gravity.’
SkyMall’s parent company files for bankruptcy
Xhibit Corp, which owns subsidiary SkyMall LLC – producers of the SkyMall in-flight catalogue – has filed for bankruptcy.
Scott Wiley, CFO and Acting CEO of Xhibit, stated, “We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic ‘SkyMall’ brand find a home to continue to operate as SkyMall has for the last 25 years.”
The debtors intend to promptly seek the necessary relief from the Bankruptcy Court to pay certain claims of employees as well as other claims to allow their business to continue under the direction of the debtors as “debtors-in-possession” under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court, and in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and the orders of the Bankruptcy Court.
The debtors also intend to seek approval from the Bankruptcy Court for a sale process to sell the SkyMall online retail business and substantially all other assets. The debtors have engaged CohnReznick Capital Market Securities, LLC to advise regarding the sale, subject to approval of the Bankruptcy Court.
Transavia reveals new airline branding
Transavia has unveiled its branding which it believes embodies the airline’s commitment to becoming Europe’s leading carrier in hospitality – in the air and online – as well as its appeal to both business and leisure travellers.
The branding, which was a collaborative project between two Dutch agencies – Mirabeau, a Netherlands’ digital marketing agency and design firm Studio Dumbar – led by Transavia’s chief marketing officer, Roy Scheerder, will be rolled out gradually. The new livery is already visible on Transavia’s new Boeing aircraft, and a new e-portal is scheduled to go live this summer.
With the majority of tickets sold online, Transavia claims 70% of its audience experience the brand digitally. For this reason, the re-brand was an integrated process combining company strategy, e-commerce and brand design. The result is a new e-commerce platform designed to enable Transavia to radically increase ancillary sales, improve the look-to-book conversion and reduce operational costs.
Furthermore, pre-tested in five European countries, the livery still features a logo showing the letter ‘t’ in a round shape and the company colour remains green, but now the underbelly of each plane will feature a different selection of custom-designed icons which Transavia thinks will communicate across cultures and languages (pictured). Finally, the livery also shows the word ‘Welcome’ written in all the languages of the countries served by Transavia next to the aircraft’s entrance.
Transavia operates from six home bases in The Netherlands and France, with its main bases in Amsterdam (Schiphol) and Paris (Orly), but aims to continue expanding the number of cities it serves in Europe.
easyJet releases trading statement for first quarter FY15
A trading statement covering the quarter ending 31 December 2014 – the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year (1Q15) – has revealed easyJet’s passenger numbers increased by 4.1% to 14.9 million in comparison with 1Q14, resulting in a load factor increase of 1.0 percentage point to 89.7% over the same respective periods.
easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall explained, “We enjoyed a strong October across the network – particularly on UK leisure flights to beach destinations and on French domestic routes where we continued to build passenger numbers after a busy September.”
The airline’s total revenue grew by £34 million to £931 million and revenue per seat grew by 0.8% on a reported basis to £56.16 per seat (or 3.7% at constant currency), which the airline said was due to disciplined allocation of capital across the network, revenue management, digital initiatives and growth in business passenger revenue.
McCall continued, “We further strengthened our network in the quarter adding around 500,000 seats, the majority of which are from airports where easyJet has a number one or number two position. This, combined with our new TV ads aimed at business travellers, enabled easyJet to sell record numbers of seats to business travellers in the first quarter.”
The airline confirmed that the seats flown during 1Q15 grew by 2.9% from 1Q14 to 16.6 million.
The full year cost per seat is expected to be up by 2% (in line with guidance) because of increases in charges at regulated airports (mainly in Germany and Italy), crew costs associated with building a resilient operation ahead of base openings, the phasing of marketing expenditure on the business traveller punctuality campaign and an increase in maintenance costs associated with the planned ageing of the fleet.
Despite this, McCall is confident. “easyJet is well positioned to continue to deliver returns and growth to shareholders,” she declared.
With first half bookings in line with last year, the airline expects to report a first half loss before tax of between £10 million and £30 million assuming normal levels of disruption, compared with the £53 million loss reported in the first half of the last fiscal year.
Liebherr Aerospace to overhaul E190 landing gears for TAME
TAME EP Linea Aerea del Ecuador has selected Liebherr Aerospace to overhaul the landing gear systems of its Embraer 190s.
TAME’s E190s were reaching the time between overhaul, which had been set at 20,000 flight cycles (or 10 calendar years) by its Maintenance Review Board. Liebherr is the OEM and system integrator for E190 landing gear systems and will provide the airline with exchange gear sets for the aircraft.
Liebherr noted that after such a large number of cycles, the overhauls will provide the company with valuable insight into the operating performance of the E190 landing gear system, allowing it to further enhance the engineering and logistics for the large volume of overhauls of this system due in the near future.
The gears are being serviced at the company’s Saline site in Michigan, USA, and will be rotated into Liebherr’s Global Access Pool and will be used in the future to support customers that place orders for overhauls with Liebherr.
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