Editor’s Comment: Laying foundations

LARA’s Kimberley Young provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

It is well acknowledged that in order to build a strong structure you first need to form solid foundations, and this week several companies have been discussing the investments they hope will form the base on which to propel them further forward.

The low-fare airline Eurowings is close to completing a project to integrate 77 aircraft, formerly owned by Air Berlin, into its fleet – in a project the airline’s CEO Thorsten Dirks has called “unprecedented in European aviation.”

The aircraft were previously in-service for Air Berlin and were sold-off or leased out by the respective owners following the airline’s bankruptcy in 2017.

Eurowings has been integrating the formerly owned aircraft over the past nine months, and Dirks stressed that by adding this capacity, Eurowings has expanded its position in the European air traffic market. The CEO also thanked those involved in making “a very challenging project successful.”

The project has presented some challenges; back in July the Lufthansa Group’s results for the first-half of 2018 revealed that the expense of integrating the aircraft formerly operated by Air Berlin into Eurowings’ fleet had impacted the Group earnings for the period. Eurowings specficially raised its total first half-year revenues, but saw a decline in adjusted earnings before income tax for the period, which it largely attributed to the one-off effects of the integration, “particularly to the higher technical, charter and leasing costs incurred to achieve the capacity expansion required within such a short time.”

Commenting on the investment into expanding Eurowings’ capacity, Dirks said: “In years to come, anyone looking back on 2018 will see that this was the year in which Eurowings laid the foundations for a successful future.”

In order to integrate all 77 aircraft into the Eurowings fleet, the project involved 15 tonnes of paper (documents) checked by the Federal Aviation Office. Ten tonnes of paint were needed to repaint the aircraft in their new livery, while 12,000 hours of work was invested in the aircraft by the technology department to prepare them for use in the Eurowings route network.

Meanwhile, Ryanair announced an investment of $200 million at London Luton airport with two new based aircraft for its winter 2018 schedule and added six new routes.

This takes Ryanair’s based aircraft at the airport up to six, with Ryanair’s CCO David O’Brien commenting: “We will deliver six exciting new routes to Spain, Greece, Italy and Ireland and have added more flights to Vilnius, as we increase our schedule to 107 weekly flights, carrying 2.2m annual customers to/from London Luton.”

In MRO, KLM UK Engineering has signed a long-term heavy maintenance contract with Alliance Airlines to support the airline with its Fokker 70/100 aircraft. Lee Schofield, chief executive officer of Alliance Airlines said the carrier was pleased to form the arrangement, adding: “We will be operating Fokker 70/100 for at least the next ten years and the maintenance support provided by KLM UK Engineering will assist us greatly during this time’.

Time will tell if these investments will provide the strong foundations needed to flourish and withstand the bumps ahead.

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