1,000th A330/A340 delivered

Airbus delivered its 1000th aircraft from the A330/A340 family.

July 30: Airbus delivered its 1000th aircraft from the A330/A340 family as it handed over an A330-300 to Thai Airways International (THAI) at a special ceremony in Toulouse.

Tom Williams, Airbus Executive Vice President Programmes, said “When the A330/A340 Family first entered service in 1993, it set a new standard in the mid-size wide-body market. We are extremely proud that the 1000th aircraft from this product is being delivered in the colours of THAI, which is one of Airbus’ longest standing customers and currently operates a fleet including both the A330 and the A340.”

THAI now has a fleet of 15 A330-300s, four A340-500s and six A340-600s. The airline also operates a fleet of 17 A300-600Rs on its regional network.

Airlines’ losses mount but Ryanair bucks the trend

A rash of half-year results shows airlines are struggling to cope with the financial recession, many posting significant losses.

July 31: A rash of half-year results shows airlines are struggling to cope with the financial recession, many posting significant losses.

Kingfisher Airlines reported an INR2.43 billion ($50 million) loss in its 2009 first quarter; Alitalia posted a loss of €273 million ($385.5 million) for the half-year; Air France KLM announced a €431 million loss for its first quarter, and Singapore Airlines, recorded a S$307.1 million ($212.6 million) loss.

In contrast, Ryanair reported a €123 million ($174.6 million) net profit for its first quarter ending June 30, reversing a €90.5 million loss for the same period in 2008. However, it warns that full-year net income will be at the lower end of its forecast of €200-€300 million. “Many of our competitors are guiding increased losses and declining traffic,” said Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary. “These quarterly results are distorted by a 42% reduction in fuel costs. Thanks to a 13% reduction in average fares, we grew traffic by 11%, which was a robust performance in a deep recession when many of our competitors were cutting flights, losing traffic and reporting increased losses.”

Meanwhile Ryanair is cutting its services at Dublin Airport by 20% in protest at the Irish Government’s introduction of a €10 ‘tourist tax’. “The high and rising costs at Dublin Airport, combined with an insanely stupid €10 tourist tax, are devastating tourism here in Ireland,” said O’Leary.

AW139 for the Caribbean

AgustaWestland announced that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has ordered four AW139 helicopters.

July 30: AgustaWestland announced that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has ordered four AW139 helicopters to equip its Air Guard (TTAG) for search and rescue, surface surveillance, law enforcement, drug interdiction and disaster relief operations.

A five year, $348 million contract will include training and logistical support and will be managed by a consortium involving AgustaWestland, Bristow Caribbean, FB Heliservices of UK and Helidex of USA. Operations will take place from Piarco International Airport and from offshore patrol vessels, working in conjunction with the Coast Guard.

Emirates becomes world’s largest 777 airline operator

Emirates received its 78th Boeing 777, a 300ER (Extended Range) model.

July 30: Emirates received its 78th Boeing 777, a 300ER (Extended Range) model, becoming the world’s largest operator of the 777. It is also the only airline to operate every model type, having received its first in 1996.

Emirates also has 28 Boeing 777s on order, valued at more than $7 billion at current list prices.

A350 for Ethiopia

EADS announced that Ethiopian Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 12 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

July 29: EADS announced that Ethiopian Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 12 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. It is the first Airbus order by the airline, which will operate the aircraft from its hub in Addis Ababa, linking Africa with Europe, the US and Asia.

Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 493 from 31 customers worldwide.

EADS remains positive in economic down-turn

EADS announced its half-year results and claimed it is “well positioned to face the crisis in the current phase of limited economic visibility.”

July 28: EADS announced its half-year results and claimed it is “well positioned to face the crisis in the current phase of limited economic visibility,” with earnings before interest and taxes of €888 million, an order book worth around €390 billion and a 6% drop in net profit to €378 million (from €403 million a year ago).

“Thanks to our robust business and our disciplined financial management, EADS is in good shape,” said Louis Gallois, Chief Executive Officer of EADS. “At the same time, challenges in new programmes remain and have to be addressed. We welcome the commitment of our A400M launch customers to the programme.” Customer for the A400M, OCCAR, and the launch nations recently reiterated their commitment to the programme at the Defence Ministers’ meeting in Le Castellet, France.

Airbus still hopes to capture 300 airliner orders in 2009, although by the end of June the order book stood at just 90. It expects to deliver 14 A380s in 2009.

16 dead in Tehran crash

An Ilyushin IL-62M belonging to Aria Air crashed on landing at Mashhad International Airport in Iran with the loss of 16 lives from the 153 people on board.

July 24: An Ilyushin IL-62M belonging to Aria Air crashed on landing at Mashhad International Airport in Iran with the loss of 16 lives from the 153 people on board.

Flight 1525 was a scheduled Iranian domestic flight from Tehran-Mehrabad Airport to Mashhad and according to Aviation Safety Network landed at high speed, running off the runway and colliding with a wall located ‘more than 1,100 meters from the runway’. Three passengers and 13 crewmembers are reported to have perished in the accident, among which were Aria Air Managing Director Mahdi Dadpay and his son. The Tehran Times reports that the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation suspended the flight certification licence of Aria Air until the accident investigation has been completed.

The aircraft involved is thought to be UP-I6208, which entered service with Interflug on 1 June 1989 registered DDR-SEY. After a number of operators in Russia and Kazakhstan it was leased to Aria Air in March 2009.

This was the second fatal crash in Iran in ten days, following the loss of the Caspian Airlines Tu-154M on July 16.

New 777 orders

Boeing announces two major orders for its 777.

July 28: Boeing announced two major orders for its 777. Turkish Airlines has ordered seven Boeing 777-300ERs (Extended Range) valued at $1.9 billion at current list prices, bringing its total 777-300ER order book to 12.

Ethiopian Airlines has ordered five Boeing 777-200LRs valued at $1.3 billion, becoming the first African carrier to order and operate the ultra-long-range 200LR model. The airline will use the 777-200LR to fly to new long-haul non-stop markets such as Washington and Beijing.

Ethiopian Airlines is currently an all-Boeing operator. With the exception of the 747, it has operated every heritage Boeing commercial aircraft since the 707.

787 ‘may not fly this year’

The Seattle Times reports that the structural flaw that delayed the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner may be more complex than originally described by the company, with the plane’s first flight ‘at least four to six months away’.

July 23: The Seattle Times reports that the structural flaw that delayed the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner may be more complex than originally described by the company, with the plane’s first flight ‘at least four to six months away’.

The paper says it has spoken to engineers at Boeing who say that it will take at least three to four months to install the necessary fix to the wing-to-body join, where de-lamination of the structure was experienced during static wing-bending testing.

The news comes as Boeing rolled out the fifth 787 Dreamliner flight test aircraft in a special Boeing livery, painted white with blue accents. The simplified paint scheme will be applied to the three remaining unpainted flight test aircraft (Nos. 3, 4 and 6). The modified livery, which saves time and expense compared to the full Boeing version, will remain on the aircraft until the flight test programme is completed and they are refurbished and delivered to customers. Boeing says it will release a new flight test programme for the test aircraft by the end of September.

Continental Airlines makes loss and sheds jobs

US-based Continental Airlines, the world’s fifth largest airline, reported a second quarter 2009 net loss of $213 million and the shedding of 1,700 management and clerical positions across the company.

July 21: US-based Continental Airlines, the world’s fifth largest airline, reported a second quarter 2009 net loss of $213 million and the shedding of 1,700 management and clerical positions across the company.

A big decline in business travellers was cited as one of the main reasons for the losses, together with the impact of the H1N1 virus reducing demand. The job losses are in addition to the previously-announced elimination of 500 reservation agent positions.

Larry Kellner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “While the decline appears to be bottoming out, it is doing so at low levels and we must take aggressive steps to increase revenue and reduce costs. The most difficult changes will be the employee reductions that we are forced to make throughout the company.”

Fleet changes will see the airline take delivery of seven Boeing 737 aircraft in the second half of 2009, with 29 Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft removed from service by January 2010.