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JetBlue opens crewmember hotel at its University training campus
JetBlue has officially opened The Lodge at OSC (Orlando Support Center), a four-storey, 196-room hotel which will be home to more than 7,000 crewmembers who visit the JetBlue University training campus each year for new-hire orientation and recurrent training.
Developed by the architecture firm Gensler – creators of JetBlue's acclaimed JFK Terminal 5 – The Lodge at OSC includes a full-service restaurant and lounge, a tailfin-shaped pool, a fitness centre, softball field and outdoor fire pit.
JetBlue hopes The Lodge, which is being managed by Pyramid Hotel Group, will immerse crewmembers in the airline’s culture. Operating as a boutique hotel, it was designed to reinforce JetBlue's values.
“JetBlue's distinct culture literally starts from day one. Instead of ending collaboration as crewmembers disperse for the night, we can continue to build lasting relationships in our very own lodging facility,” explained Warren Christie, SVP safety, security and training for JetBlue. “With the Lodge we are investing in our most important asset – our people.”
The Lodge at OSC also represents JetBlue’s continued commitment to Orlando as one of its six focus cities. The airline currently employs nearly 1,400 crewmembers across the Orlando Support Center, JetBlue University, Orlando International Airport and its Orlando maintenance hangar. Over the next five years, the airline will welcome 500 new crewmembers to JetBlue to support its Orlando training and support centre needs.
JetBlue and Royal Air Maroc announce codeshare partnership
After becoming interline partners in 2012, JetBlue and Royal Air Maroc have filed an application with the US authorities to enter into a codeshare partnership.
Under the proposed codeshare agreement, Royal Air Maroc will place its airline code (AT) on JetBlue flights between New York JFK and 22 destinations in the US, including Boston (BOS), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), Tampa (TPA) and Washington Dulles (IAD).
JetBlue and Royal Air Maroc passengers will also be able to purchase easily a single ticket with seamless bag transfers via Casablanca (CMN) to Marrakesh and 15 other Moroccan destinations, as well as a further 24 destinations in West Africa.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Royal Air Maroc and offer our customers a great selection of destinations across Morocco, West Africa and the Middle East full of varied culture, cuisines and spectacular nature,” commented Scott Laurence, SVP airline planning, JetBlue.
Peter Simpson becomes new CEO of bmi regional
bmi regional has announced that Peter Simpson will succeed Cathal O’Connell as CEO, the latter having announced in early January his intention to leave pending the appointment of a replacement.
As managing director of the bmi Group in 2012, Simpson led the integration of the airline into British Airways and the subsequent transfer of bmi regional into independent ownership. His most recent role was director of BA Gatwick for British Airways.
Simpson has vast experience in the regional sector having been managing director at BA CityFlyer for five years. Prior to that he held senior management positions with BA Connect, British Regional Airlines Group PLC and Manx Airlines.
O’Connell had been CEO at bmi regional since 2012 and oversaw its transition from a wholly-owned subsidiary of bmi to an independent regional airline.
Nok Air swings from profit to loss in 2014
Nok Air has announced its financial results for 2014, with the company and its subsidiaries recording a net loss of Baht 471.7 million, a decline of more than 20% compared with the previous fiscal year.
Explaining the factors and events affecting the results, Nok Air noted that in 2014, low-fare airlines had to confront various challenges such as overcapacity resulting from the ongoing fleet expansion of several budget airlines as well as the entrance of new players, which it says “led to even more intense pricing wars”.
In 2014, the number of domestic flights operated by budget airlines rose as much as 18.6% over 2013, while the growth rate of domestic air passengers was merely 10.1%. In addition, the political unrest which continued from late 2013 into the first half of 2014 directly affected Thailand’s economic and tourism sectors also thus impacted the budget airline industry. Exchange rates and fluctuating Jet A-1 aircraft fuel prices were also critical factors affecting the airline’s operating costs.
Although Nok Air maintained its a high load factor of 81.3% during 2014, its revenue per available seat kilometre (RASK) was only Baht 2.26, down 14% from the previous year. The cost per available seat kilometre (CASK) was Baht 2.36, a drop of only 1.3%. In 2014, Nok Air on its own recorded a net loss of Baht 410.5 million, a drop of Baht 1,476.6 million from the Baht 1,066.1 million net profit it generated in 2013.
As mentioned, Nok Air and its subsidiaries recorded a net loss of Baht 471.7 million in 2014. Contributors to that results was a Baht 61.2 million loss in subsidiaries based on its shareholding ratio. The majority was from the loss in NokScoot Airlines due to its business being in the start-up phase.
In 2014, Nok Air and subsidiaries recorded Baht 2,460 million net cash used in operating activities; Baht 2,728 million net cash provided by investing activities; Baht 458 million net cash provided by financing activities and a Baht 7 million effect from exchange rate changes. As of 31 December 2014, Nok Air’s cash and cash equivalents totalled Baht 2,927 million.
Honeywell signs MoU with OneWeb to provide hardware for new IFC service
Honeywell Aerospace (Honeywell) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OneWeb Ltd (OneWeb) to provide both aircraft equipment and airtime services to bring the latter’s high speed internet – enabled by the planned construction of a 600 strong satellite constellation – to business, commercial and military aircraft.
With the constellation due to be operational in 2019 (four years’ time), OneWeb predicts its internet service will offer approximately 10 terabits per second of high-speed access to billions of people across the globe, even in the most remote areas. In terms of in-flight connectivity (IFC), Honeywell hopes that using its hardware and airtime services, OneWeb’s satcoms will provide aircraft with weather, navigation and health monitoring.
Honeywell is also working with OneWeb to explore in-orbit satellite equipment supply for the 600-plus satellite constellation. When launched, OneWeb's claims its constellation will be the largest telecommunications constellation in orbit, enabling more capacity with higher speed and lower latency than any satellite technology to date.
“At Honeywell, our goal is to expand in-flight connectivity through ambitious technology innovation,” explained Carl Esposito, vice president of marketing and product management, Honeywell Aerospace. “By leveraging OneWeb's satellite network, we can bring the benefits of connectivity to new customers, improving aircraft efficiency, safety, comfort and security.”
“Our mission is to enable affordable internet access for everyone,” commented OneWeb’s CEO, Greg Wyler. “By partnering with Honeywell, we can bring the benefits of affordable, low-latency broadband to business, commercial and military aircraft. We look forward to working with Honeywell, which has unparalleled expertise in aerospace connectivity, as a key partner in advancing global connectivity.”
OneWeb is supported by Virgin and Qualcomm.
Interjet takes options for up to 10 more SSJ100s
Although Interjet is already in possession of firm orders for 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100s from Superjet International, the airline has now confirmed options for an additional 10 aircraft valued at $350 million.
Of the original 30 orders, 12 SSJ100s are currently in service with Interjet, operating on routes between Mexico City and various Mexican and US destinations. The thirteenth SSJ100 has been already delivered and will join the Interjet fleet soon.
“We are delighted to add 10 aircraft to our SSJ100 fleet. The Superjet 100 is a really good product, we are very satisfied with its superior performance and the reduced operating costs. The SSJ100 was the right choice for Interjet’s fleet development. It is perfectly suitable for domestic mid-density routes as well as several short-haul international ones,” stated Interjet CEO, Jose Luis Garza.
Along with the order, and according to a SuperCare Agreement applied to the entire Interjet SSJ100 fleet, SuperJet International will provide the airline with a full assistance on training services and after-sales support.
VLM confirms significant delay of SSJ100 LR delivery
After initially planning delivery for April 2015, VLM Airlines has announced that its first long range Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100 LR) regional aircraft will not now enter service until the third quarter of 2016.
VLM signed a Letter of Intent with Ilyushin Finance Co. back in October 2014 to lease up to four SSJ100 LRs as well as taking a further purchase option on ten aircraft.
The delay will enable EASA to certify features which have been modified on the long-range variant of the SSJ100 to bring significant performance enhancements, including take-off and landing flaps settings. VLM chose the long-range aircraft to expand its scheduled route network.
Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines, remarked, “We have entered an exciting new phase of VLM’s growth, with new scheduled services linking Antwerp with Geneva and Hamburg, Rotterdam with Hamburg, and, from May onwards, Liège with Avignon, Nice, Bologna and Venice.
“The Superjet will be an excellent complement to VLM’s Fokker 50 fleet, and the long-range variant is best suited to our business model. While we are naturally looking forward to the new aircraft entering service, this mutually agreed delay will allow us to enjoy the Superjet’s full capability from the very first day of operation.”
Inmarsat to lead improved flight tracking trials in tandem with Australian aviation industry
Following the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) resolution on 6 February to adopt a new 15-minute tracking standard for commercial aircraft, Inmarsat has announced partnerships with Airservices Australia, Qantas and Virgin Australia to trial improved flight tracking services.
Inmarsat is working with these partners to develop the operational concept for the trial, using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) satellite technology in Australia’s oceanic regions. ADS-C provides air traffic controllers with a constantly updated surveillance picture of their airspace, thereby allowing safe and efficient oceanic operations.
Airservices Australia is the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to trial the ICAO standard, utilising Inmarsat’s ADS-C messaging service. So far, 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft are already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection, which is more than 90% of the world’s long haul commercial fleet.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, commented, “This is an important step in improving international airline safety and we are very pleased to be working with Airservices Australia and our industry partners to implement this enhanced flight tracking service.
“We applaud ICAO’s decision to announce the new tracking standard and believe that we are well placed to help implement the standard given our existing global satellite coverage and the timeframe proposed. Inmarsat’s heritage is in safety and we stand ready to coordinate normal and abnormal flight tracking services with the airlines and the ANSPs.”
Airbus increases A320 rate, adjusts A330 for NEO transition
From the first quarter 2017, Airbus will increase the production rate of its A320 family to 50 aircraft per month to match market demand.
“As an aircraft manufacturer, it is our role, for our employees, partners, customers and investors to anticipate market demands whilst delivering on orders and managing revenues,” claimed Didier Evrard, EVP programmes. “Given the success of the A320 family, both CEO and NEO, we work closely with our supply chain, assess our manufacturing capabilities and decide on the most appropriate rate.”
Airbus is also adjusting the A330 production rate to six a month from the first quarter of 2016 as it transitions towards the A330neo. “On widebodies we are adjusting A330 production in preparation for transition to NEO while in parallel the A350 XWB is on a steep ramp-up,” added Evrard.
Maiden flight of Bombardier CS300 completed
On 27 February, 2,000 Bombardier employees, board members, partners, suppliers and customers gathered at the company’s facility in Mirabel, Quebec to witness the first flight of the CS300 airliner, the larger member of the CSeries family designed for the 100- to 149-seat market segment.
The aircraft – bearing Canadian registration markings C-FFDK – departed Montreal-Mirabel International Airport at 11:00 EST and returned at 15:58 EST. It reached an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,500 metres) and a speed of 255 knots (470 km/h).
“Our CSeries aircraft programme is progressing well, with results from testing as expected or better. The CS300 airliner will now join the five CS100 aircraft flight test vehicles that have amassed more than 1,000 flight test hours to date,” commented Rob Dewar, VP CSeries Program. “We are confident the CS100 aircraft will be certified in the second half of 2015, followed closely by entry-into-service. The CS300 airliner is expected to follow about six months later.”
Captain Andris Litavniks was pilot-in-command, assisted by co-pilot Christophe Marchand and flight test engineers Anthony Dunne and Mark Metivet. Litavniks noted, “It's a pilot's aircraft and handled exactly as predicted by simulation. Pilots will find it easy to transition from the CS100 to the CS300 aircraft or vice versa, which will greatly reduce training costs for operators using both models.”
“It was a thrill to see the first CS300 aircraft take to the skies for the first time and I heartily congratulate our teams for this achievement. We continue to see increased interest from all over the world and as our performance targets are validated, we expect the enthusiasm for the CSeries family of aircraft to grow even more,” concluded Mike Arcamone, president, Bombardier Commerical Aircraft.
Inmarsat to trial improved flight tracking on commercial Australian flights
Following a resolution made by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on 6 February to adopt a new 15-minute tracking standard for commercial aircraft, Inmarsat has announced partnerships with Airservices Australia, Qantas and Virgin Australia to trial improved flight tracking services.
Inmarsat is working with these new partners to develop the operational concept for the trial, using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) satellite technology in Australia’s oceanic regions. ADS-C provides air traffic controllers with a constantly updated surveillance picture of their airspace, thereby allowing safe and efficient oceanic operations.
Airservices Australia is the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to trial the ICAO standard, utilising Inmarsat’s global flight tracking ADS-C messaging service. 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft are already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection, representing over 90% of the world’s long haul commercial fleet.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “This is an important step in improving international airline safety and we are very pleased to be working with Airservices Australia and our industry partners to implement this enhanced flight tracking service.
“We applaud ICAO’s decision to announce the new tracking standard and believe that we are well placed to help implement the standard given our existing global satellite coverage and the time-frame proposed. Inmarsat’s heritage is in safety and we stand ready to coordinate normal and abnormal flight tracking services with the airlines and the ANSPs.”
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.
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