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News : Virgin Australia predicts 100% ownership of Tigerair Australia by end of 2014

Virgin Australia predicts 100% ownership of Tigerair Australia by end of 2014

Virgin Australia has announced plans to secure 100% ownership of Tigerair Australia, completing the takeover with the purchase of the remaining 40% of Tigerair Australia shares for A$1, by the end of 2014.

Full control of the airline will give Virgin Australia the brand rights to fly Tigerair Australia to a number of short-haul international destinations.
“This proposed transaction marks an important milestone for Tigerair Australia and forms part of the Virgin Australia Group’s Virgin Vision strategy to 2017,” commented John Borghetti, Virgin Australia’s CEO. “Given the ongoing subdued consumer demand in the Australian domestic market, the growth of the Tigerair Australia domestic fleet is likely to be reduced. Under this proposed transaction, we will benefit from the economies of scale and achieve profitability ahead of schedule by the end of 2016.”

Borghetti explained that so far, the joint venture has strengthened systems and processes, increased aircraft utilisation, established a Brisbane base and built on synergies across a range of areas and that the company intends to retain Tigerair Australia’s low-fares philosophy.

It is expected that Virgin Australia will consolidate Tigerair Australia’s financial results going forward as result of the transaction.
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News : Tbilisi, Georgia becomes Air Arabia’s 100th destination

Tbilisi, Georgia becomes Air Arabia’s 100th destination

From 28 October, Air Arabia will begin operating a twice-weekly service on Tuesdays and Fridays to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, from its hub at Sharjah International Airport.
“The beautiful city of Tbilisi is a tremendous addition to the Air Arabia network and we are confident the route will prove to be highly popular with leisure and business travellers alike,” commented Air Arabia’s CEO, Adel Ali. “We are delighted to be able to bring a value-for-money offering to customers in Georgia, while further extending Air Arabia’s exceptional coverage of destinations in the central region of the world.”
This year has also seen Air Arabia increase its network from Sharjah with new routes to Cairo in Egypt and Antalya in Turkey.

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News : Draft agreement to develop Transavia France completed

Draft agreement to develop Transavia France completed

Air France has worked with representative pilot unions to come up with a draft agreement for the development of Transavia France, which has been presented at the special board meeting of SNPL Air France ALPA (Air France’s main pilot union).
The agreement outlines that pilots flying for Transavia France will be employed under Transavia France’s operating and remuneration conditions to ensure the company’s competitiveness and its development as a complement to the Air France network. 
For Air France pilots who also begin flying for Transavia France, two co-existing contracts will be implemented, providing them with integrated career development, including a single seniority list.
Any future changes in working conditions and remuneration at Transavia France will seek the agreement of the SNPL Air France ALPA and SNPL Transavia, which was also involved in the dialogue leading to this first draft agreement.
The agreement will now be submitted to a referendum of SNPL Air France ALPA’s members in the hope of implementation in mid-November. 
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News : Aeroflot aims to have Dobrolet replacement operating by late October

Aeroflot aims to have Dobrolet replacement operating by late October

Although no official update has yet been made on Aeroflot’s website, Ria Novosti has reported that the Russian carrier plans to introduce a low-fare subsidiary, currently identified as ‘Byudzhetniy Perevozchik’ (Budget Carrier), to replace Dobrolet, Aeroflot’s previous subsidiary which ceased operations in August citing sanctions from the European Union after it began flights to Simferopol, Crimea in July.
The new airline is expected to fly from Moscow to Russian cities including Surgut, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Samara, Kazan, Volgograd, Belgorod, and Tyumen.
Ria Novosti claims that Byudzhetniy Perevozchik will begin operations in late October, with a fleet of four Boeing 737-800s.
Other civil aviation developments underway in Russia include increased production of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and the introduction of a long-haul, widebody airliner to be co-developed with China.
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News : Tigerair Singapore to ‘effectively’ become Singapore Airlines' subsidiary

Tigerair Singapore to ‘effectively’ become Singapore Airlines' subsidiary

In a continuation of its turnaround plan, Tigerair has revealed that Singapore Airlines (SIA) is going to significantly raise its stake in Tigerair Singapore from 40% to around 55% by converting its perpetual convertible capital securities (PCCS) holdings into shares.
Furthermore, Tigerair Singapore is also introducing 1.2 billion new ordinary shares (rights shares) at a discounted rate, to which SIA also plans to subscribe. Each rights share will be sold at S$0.20, representing a 39% reduction of the one-day volume weighted average price (VWAP) of S$0.33 per share on 16 October 2014.
Tigerair Singapore hopes the new rights shares will strengthen the airline’s balance sheet by up to S$234 million. These developments are expected to be completed by January 2015, but the introduction of the new rights shares are still subject to shareholder approval, which will be confirmed at a general meeting in the near future.  
Tigerair Group’s CEO, Lee Lik Hsin, remarked, “We are heartened by SIA’s support in this Rights Issue. We are already working closely with Scoot, and look forward to further collaboration with the rest of the SIA Group.” 
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News : MRJ makes its debut

MRJ makes its debut

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MITAC) has celebrated the roll-out of the first MRJ90 in a ceremony at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Komaki South Plant in Nagoya, Japan.

The ceremony was kept simple, but delightful, with the aircraft itself being, rightly, the star of the show. After local children introduced the event with a specially written song, Hideaki Omiya, chairman of the Board of MHI addressed the assembled guests and dignitaries.

Following his brief remarks, drummers provided the aural backdrop as the hangar doors were opened and, led by a host of the programme’s workforce, the aircraft was wheeled in and parked just in front of the leaders of the airlines which have made commitments to operate the aircraft (see banner above the aircraft on the heading photo), as well as many executives from prospective customers.

Dreams alone cannot run businesses,” Omiya commented on having the finished article. “This aircraft will fly to every corner of the world. And I’m proud to send it out there.”

Rick Leach, president and COO of Trans States Holdings (left with wife Mary) which has orders for 50 plus 50 options, noted that 10 years have passed since current sales director, Yugo Fukuhara, called and asked if he (Leach) would discuss an aircraft that MHI was planning. “So we talked and they listened. And each time they came back for more discussions we could see that they had incorporated some of our ideas,” he recalled.

“So to see the aircraft today, something we have grown with and looking as it does, is sensational,” Leach added.

Leach’s words reflected those given earlier in the day by Nobuo Kishi, chief engineer and head of engineering division, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MITAC), at a pre-ceremony briefing. He described how MHI had started initial studies and discussions in 2003 and had begun with a 30-seat jet in mind, but after listening to airlines, planned capacity rose to 50 and then 70-90 seats as that was where the market demand was.

With production still around two-and-a-half years away, Akihiko Ishikawa, general manager MRJ programme department, commercial aviation & transport systems, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), reported that the production line will be a moving line, but is still in its trial stage.

MHI chairman Omiya added that the aim is to get to 10 aircraft a month, but he refrained from giving any time scale to reach that figure.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Nagoya, Japan

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News : Sunrise Airways introduces new Haiti–Cuba service

Sunrise Airways introduces new Haiti–Cuba service

From 30 October, Sunrise Airways will operate its first regularly scheduled passenger flights to Cuba from its hub in Port-au-Prince (PAP), Haiti, on a 19-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft.
The new service, which will fly in and out of Santiago de Cuba Airport (SUC) twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays, marks a significant expansion in Sunrise’s Western Caribbean route network. 
Philippe Bayard, president of Sunrise Airways, commented, “There are strong cultural ties between Haiti and Santiago de Cuba stemming from the migration to the city that took place in the years following the Haitian revolution. From a cultural standpoint, Haiti and Santiago de Cuba have been joined at the hip for more than 200 years. Now, with our new flights, the two are closer than ever before.”
Connecting flights are also available at PAP to passengers travelling from either Cap Haitien or Santo Domingo, Dominica Republic. Previously, the Haitian carrier only offered charter flights between Port-au-Prince and Holguín in Cuba, a set-up which began a year ago in 2013.
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News : Darwin questions legality of Tyrolean operating domestic Swiss routes

Darwin questions legality of Tyrolean operating domestic Swiss routes

Following Swiss International Airlines’ recent announcement that it plans to use Tyrolean Airlines to operate routes between Lugano, Geneva and Zurich, Darwin Airline (operating under the Etihad Regional brand) has written to Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) to question the legality of the arrangement.
Both Swiss International Air Lines and Tyrolean Airways' parent, Austrian Airlines, are wholly owned subsidiaries of Germany's Lufthansa Aviation Group.
Darwin Airline’s CEO, Maurizio Merlo, explained, “In our letter to FOCA we have questioned the legal right of Tyrolean, as an Austrian-licensed airline, to operate domestic flights in Switzerland under the European Union–Swiss Air Transport Agreement, or under surviving conditions of the previous Swiss–Austrian bilateral air services agreement.”
Darwin Airline has operated the Zurich–Lugano route on a wet-lease for Swiss for ten years. However, when Darwin's announced a new commercial partnership and proposed minority equity participation by Etihad Airways, Swiss advised that it would sever all commercial links with Darwin.
“According to advice from the Regulator, it was not the agency's policy to permit a Swiss airline to use non-Swiss registered wet-lease capacity, other than on a temporary basis, if suitable Swiss-registered aircraft were available,” explained Merlo. “Darwin Airline’s serious concern is that Swiss International Air Lines may be able to use non-Swiss registered wet lease capacity to serve domestic destinations in a manner which could be inconsistent with Swiss International Air Lines' legal duty not to abuse its dominant position.”
Tyrolean plans to operate the Swiss routes with 76-seat Bombardier Q400s.
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News : Passengers are engaging with IFEC, says APEX survey

Passengers are engaging with IFEC, says APEX survey

APEX has published the results of its inaugural Global Passenger Experience Survey, which garnered responses from 1,500 fliers between the ages of 18 and 55+ from across 8 countries worldwide – USA, UK, China, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Australia and Brazil.
Looking at the results, those who thought the traditional seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) system was in decline will be forced to acknowledge evidence suggesting the contrary. The average time spent by passengers watching in-flight provided films or television amounted to 15% of their overall journey, in comparison with 9% spent watching films or TV on a personal electronic device (PED). 

The average passenger currently spends an even smaller 6% of their flight on social connectivity (email, messaging, facebook, twitter), ranking it 10th out of 12 in-flight activities which were covered. To give a further sense of perspective, passengers spent more time reading the in-flight magazine and conversing with fellow travellers (7%) than using social media.

However, APEX has deduced that passengers think in-flight connectivity is the number 1 area of improvement, so it’ll be interesting to see whether watching TV and films on PEDs and making broader use of in-flight Wi-Fi will begin to take up more of a passenger’s flight time as technology becomes more widely available.

The survey also showed that the opportunity for ancillary revenue from in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) amenities looked positive. When passengers were given eight different options for purchasing in-flight services before boarding, IFEC ranked fourth in terms of popularity. 8% of passengers said they’d consider paying for IFEC, after extra legroom, seat selection and food, beating checked bags, priority boarding and guaranteed overhead luggage space.

Furthermore, passengers who did purchase IFEC services seemed to be more satisfied with their overall flight than the average traveller, coming in at 77% and 76% satisfaction (having purchased inflight entertainment and connectivity respectively) against the average passenger satisfaction score of 73%. The only thing making passengers even more satisfied than paid-for IFEC was in-flight shopping – so there is such a thing as retail therapy, after all?

The gender breakdown surrounding IFEC usage was another compelling element of the survey. Firstly, males said they were more likely to purchase connectivity, whereas females were more likely to buy IFE. 

Overall, a marginally higher percentage of females were engaging in IFEC activities than men across the board, even when it came to in-flight gaming (whether through the seat-back or their phones etc.). It’s ironic, then, that males felt more satisfied with the IFEC services provided…Or not? 

There looked to be a trend across the survey which showed that the age groups, countries or genders using a certain service more frequently saw the most room for improvement in those areas. Take Brazil, for example. With 9% of Brazilian passengers engaging in social connectivity (compare that with Japanese passengers, of whom 1% said they used social media in-flight), Brazil was the country least satisfied with social connectivity services.   

In conclusion, there’s no doubt that the inaugural APEX Global Passenger Experience has provided the industry with some serious food for thought. Who knows, if airlines take notice, perhaps it won’t be long until we see female-focused in-flight games or simply more tiered subscription IFE content becoming available. Watch this space. 
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News : Duncan Aviation develops STC for Gogo’s UCS 5000 for Global Express operator

Duncan Aviation develops STC for Gogo’s UCS 5000 for Global Express operator

Following a request from a Bombardier Global Express operator, Duncan Aviation collaborated with Gogo Business Aviation to develop a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to integrate Gogo’s UCS 5000 system on Bombardier’s Global Express and 5000 aircraft.
“A customer of ours purchased a Global Express that didn’t have the level of Wi-Fi capabilities their old aircraft did,” explained Duncan Aviation’s avionics installations representative, Melissa Raddatz. “We sat down, discussed their options and they decided to take advantage of Gogo Business Aviation’s launch incentives and get the latest and greatest router/media server.”
Gogo’s UCS 5000 is an all-in-one smart router and media service, which manages and delivers connectivity, in-flight entertainment (IFE) and information services. Utilising the in-flight connectivity service, Gogo Biz, UCS 5000 supports Gogo Text & Talk, allowing passengers to use their mobiles in-flight. It also powers Gogo Vision, an IFE system providing a library of movies, TV episodes, news and destination weather.  There’s also the ability for passengers to engage in file sharing and monitor flight progress.
Jim Wheaton, systems engineer at Duncan Aviation, commented, “We had engineers and certification experts at both our Michigan and Nebraska facilities working around the clock on this STC to ensure that on ground testing day, everything worked the way Gogo Business Aviation intended it to.” 

The process began months before the aircraft was due to enter into service.
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News : Radixx to host PSS solutions for DiscoveryAir

Radixx to host PSS solutions for DiscoveryAir

After recently launching commercial air services on domestic routes between Abuja and Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s low-fare airline, DiscoveryAir, has been added to the roster of clients at Radixx International.
Radixx, which specialises in cloud-based reservation and distribution systems for airlines, already has a strong presence in the African aviation market. The company’s other clients include Dana Air (Nigeria), Federal Air (South Africa), FlyAfrica (South Africa), FlySafair (South Africa) Africa World Airlines (Ghana) and Starbow (Ghana).
“At Radixx, we use cutting-edge technology to create and host passenger service system (PSS) solutions that allow airlines of all business models, anywhere around the globe, to achieve maximum profitability. There is enormous opportunity for [low-fare airlines] in Africa to develop and expand within this market, and we aim to be a key driver of this evolution,” explained Ron Peri, Radixx International’s CEO.
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News : CemAir in multiyear full content agreement with Travelport

CemAir in multiyear full content agreement with Travelport

CemAir has selected Travelport as its preferred global distribution system (GDS), meaning Travelport-connected agents and passengers will benefit from special promotions and enhanced support.
Miles van der Molen, CemAir’s CEO, explained, “Travelport’s extensive, worldwide travel agency network complements our ambitious growth plans, making them a valued partner and an important distribution channel. We look forward to building a close working relationship with Travelport as we take our business activities to the next level.”   
CemAir also signed a full content agreement with the travel commerce platform, granting Travelport and its connected agents access to the full range of the South African regional carrier’s content, including web fares.
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News : Blue Air to add second Romanian destination from Liverpool

Blue Air to add second Romanian destination from Liverpool

Three months after announcing its inaugural service from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) to Bucharest, Romanian airline Blue Air has revealed plans for a second route from LJLA to the city of Bacau.
The decision has come before Blue Air’s flights are set to begin in December. “After the launch of the direct flights from Liverpool to Bucharest, the positive response was overwhelming and since then, the requests for flights to Bacau have increased,” remarked Blue Air’s general manager, Gheorghe Racaru. “After careful analysis of the market, we are pleased to announce Blue Air’s second route from Liverpool John Lennon Airport.”
Flights to Bacau are scheduled to operate twice weekly on a 162 seat Boeing 737-400 from 31 March 2015. The city is located in Moldavia, at the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, with attractions including the churches of northern Moldavia, which have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
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News : AIX AMERICAS 2014: Airlines are behind the power curve when it comes to retail

AIX AMERICAS 2014: Airlines are behind the power curve when it comes to retail

According to speakers during the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) Americas in Seattle, airlines are woefully behind the power curve in doing in-flight retail. 
When asked if airlines are mining data from the internet sites such as Facebook and Amazon to create the personalised experience they say they want to do, Novo IVC operations director, Jon Hall, said unequivocally, they are not. Nor are they mining their own data about passenger likes and dislikes on-board their own aircraft. 
“Merchandising is very mature on the ground but not in the air,” said Priti Arora, senior product line manager, systems, Thales In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity. “It is all about what the passenger expects and what they expect is the same experience in the air as on the ground. On-board retail has grown 15% in the past year to $31.5 billion and is projected to grow 18% to $46.2 billion this year.”
Arora noted passengers now are demanding self-serve systems which, for Walmart, saves $12 million per second and allows labour to be reassigned to enhance the customer experience. “That is a 7% revenue increase per labour hour and an additional 150 labour hours redeployed,” she said. “That means passengers can pre-order and flight attendants won’t be in the aisle to take and then deliver orders. Flight attendants could be redeployed to the passenger experience with a tremendous impact on customer satisfaction and efficiency.”
Passengers have already addressed the privacy issue by opting in to the personalisation of their buying and travel experiences. 
It is interesting that one of the prime airline retail vendors – GuestLogix – tapped a retailer to head its effort. Last year it hired former JC Penney executive Nancy Love as senior vice president of global marketing. That suggests airlines should look to the retail industry to head its in-flight sales operations. 
Love indicated that in 2010, airlines achieved $8 per passenger in ancillary revenue. Today, it is over $14 and projected to grow to $16.

“There is more opportunity to make that grow,” she said. “Passengers are buying seat upgrades, food, beverages, destination activities and airlines could entice passengers to buy on board by offering discounts that would shift the money spent with a hotel concierge and bring it on-board.” 
Love indicated that airlines could create much more revenue by creating a “walled garden,” an airline internet portal through which passengers can do their shopping.
Hall agreed and suggested airlines are not capitalising on the fact that, for the passenger, shopping on-board is part of the flying experience.

“There is so little done to get the passenger to buy on-board,” he said. “Passengers don’t even know it’s available. Airlines need to push out information about buying on-board, in-flight entertainment, ordering food. This would mean, if airlines make it part of the booking experience, they could have more accurate stocking and save significant weight. Additional revenues could be had from selling advertising to those trying to reach the captive passenger.”
Kathryn Creedy, reporter, Inflight /
Seattle, USA
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News : AIX AMERICAS 2014: Aircraft manufacturers focused on pax more than airlines

AIX AMERICAS 2014: Aircraft manufacturers focused on pax more than airlines

During one of the panel discussions at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) Americas in Seattle, airlines and aircraft manufacturers attempted to shed light on topics such as the current recline wars in the U.S.
Seat manufacturers such as Zodiac seem caught in the middle, having created what they say are more comfortable seats, even if they are narrower (which is a big complaint among passengers). 
Jim Cangiano, VP of sales and marketing at Recaro Aircraft Seating Americas, indicated that while seats used to look more comfortable, often they weren’t. He claimed that seats today are more ergonomically designed to accommodate passengers, saying that in reality the “fixed living space” of the seat hasn’t changed that much. 
Boeing’s regional director of passenger satisfaction and revenue, Kent Craver, seemed to agree, noting that the problem may not be seats are getting smaller, but passengers getting bigger. 
However, during the conference both Boeing, also represented by its director of brand and advertising, Jeff Robinson, and Airbus, represented by Paul Edwards, head of industrial design, remarked that passengers themselves were the ultimate customer, rather than airlines. 
Robinson said the aim now was to bring back the magic of flight. He explained, “Flight has become such a negative experience, in which you endure a flight. But when you think of your first flight it was magical. We want to bring that magical experience back. Our big question is what can we do to drive a different experience, to boost the entire industry; that the airlines can’t screw up. We need to design a passenger friendly fuselage, window treatments, altitude, to which an airline can then layer on their brand experience.”
Contributing to this is the new holistic approach to design, said VP of Zodiac Aerospace, Jean-Marie Daout. “Industry consolidation has allowed us to work more closely with component manufacturers and OEMs on the entire cabin experience. We can now integrate seats and lavs and the entire interior.” 
In describing their new philosophies, Airbus, Boeing and Zodiac used four words – customisation, revolutionary and customer centric. “We are looking for a way to dramatically and positively change the way the world flies,” said Robinson. “We are revolutionising the industry for the betterment of the passenger.”
Edwards agreed, “If you get it right for the consumer, you get it right.”
One wonders if Robinson’s caution about airlines screwing up the experience was aimed at the airlines’ focus on the front of the aircraft. Billions of dollars have been invested in making the business and first class experience more luxurious to justify the thousands of dollars needed to enter that rarified air. Seemingly lost is the economy passenger, which is where air rage occurs. 
There was a glimmer of hope for the huddled masses at the back, however. Mark Krolick, United’s director of marketing and product development, noted that for the past few years the battleground has been around business class, but today and into the future it will be around the economy plus sector. “We are seeing the tide turn from the premium to the economy, as businesses tell their travelers they won’t pay for business, but will pay for economy plus.”
Kathryn Creedy, reporter, Inflight /
Seattle, USA
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