Saudia’s own A320

Saudia has taken delivery of its first directly-bought A320 from Airbus.

October 28: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) took delivery of its first directly-bought A320 from Airbus at a delivery ceremony in Toulouse. Earlier in October, it took delivery of a leased A320, becoming the latest operator of the type.

Saudia has bought 22 A320s, the contract placed in December 2007 being the first time in more than two decades that the carrier had placed an order with Airbus. The airline’s A320 fleet will peak at 50 as 28 other aircraft will be leased.

New national carrier for Senegal

The government of the Republic of Senegal has decided to form a new national carrier

October 30: Following the liquidation of Air Senegal International on April 24, the government of the Republic of Senegal has decided to form a new national carrier. The new airline will be known as Senegal Airlines and be based in Dakar.

Senior State Minister Karim Wade said “Senegal Airlines is a company of great national importance. The government will retain a small stake in it, but this is a private sector company that will be driven by the market it will serve. As such, it will have to be one of the leading airlines in Africa, offering the finest onboard service to all the destinations it will eventually serve, in order to beat the competition and become a profitable carrier of choice”.

Details of the airline’s fleet will be unveiled at the Dubai Air Show over November 15-19, but flight operations are expected to begin early in 2010. Air Senegal International previously operated four Boeing 737-700s and a single Dash-8 Q300.

Air France gets its first A380

Air France has taken delivery of its first A380.

October 30: Air France has taken delivery of its first A380, the twentieth to be delivered by Airbus. The aircraft was handed over at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

Air France is the first European airline to operate the aircraft on scheduled services. “Each A380 will enable Air France to save 12 to 15 million Euros a year, which, in today’s depressed economic climate, provides the Company with the means to withstand the crisis,” said Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, Chief Executive Officer of Air France KLM. The airline has ordered 12 A380s.

The first A380 will start its commercial service on November 20 on the Paris – New York – Paris route.

Rolls-Royce to power Virgin

Rolls-Royce has won a $720m order to supply Trent 700 engines for ten Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330s.

October 30: British aerospace company Rolls-Royce has won an order worth approximately $720m to supply Trent 700 engines for ten Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 aircraft ordered in June.

Virgin will be buying six of the A330s direct from Airbus and leasing four from AerCap, with deliveries commencing in 2011.

Continental joins Star Alliance

Continental Airlines has become the 25th member of the Star Alliance partnership.

October 27: Continental Airlines has become the 25th member of the Star Alliance partnership, and at the same time the first major airline to ‘jump’ from one global alliance to another. It was previously a member of SkyTeam, which it joined on September 13, 2004.

“Bringing Continental Airlines into Star Alliance has been a truly unique experience,” said Jaan Albrecht, Chief Executive Officer for Star Alliance. “This is the first time an airline has moved directly from one alliance to another and I would like to thank all those involved in ensuring a smooth switch.”

Continental’s membership adds three hubs to Star Alliance in North America – New York/Newark, Houston and Cleveland.

BA cabin staff to vote on strike action

British Airways (BA) cabin crew are to hold a ballot on potential strike action.

October 27: ATWOnline reports that British Airways (BA) cabin crew are to hold a ballot on potential strike action. BA wants to implement changes to the cabin crews’ terms and conditions and lose 3,700 jobs by March 31, 2010.

The workers’ union Unite plans to ballot its 14,000 cabin crewmembers soon with any strike action planned for early November. The report says BA is “extremely disappointed” by the union’s decision to ballot. “We have put together a package of changes, which despite the unprecedented financial circumstances facing the company, not only protects current cabin crew but also offers many new benefits,” the airline said.

Heathrow worker receives award

Demetrios Geniris, a Service Team Leader at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1, has been honoured for the lives he saved whilst going about his normal day.

October 26: Demetrios Geniris, a Service Team Leader at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1, was honoured for the lives he saved whilst going about his normal day. At the National Lifesaver Defibrillator Awards Dinner at the Royal College of Physicians in London, Professor Douglas Chamberlain CBE, presented the award.

Two lives have been saved by Demetrios; first, a 50-year old German man was resuscitated using an Automated External Defibrillator and second, a Margate man who suffered a cardiac arrest when realising his passport had been stolen. “The feeling you get when you know someone has been saved is absolutely fantastic, you feel like you are bouncing off the walls and you cant stop smiling,” said Demetrios.

Dulles expands arrivals capacity

Washington Dulles International Airport’s expanded arrivals terminal has opened.

October 26: Washington Dulles International Airport’s expanded arrivals terminal opened, doubling the size of the original hall.

It’s the first of a three-phase expansion plan for the arrivals building that will eventually take it from 136,000 square feet (sq/ft) to 340,000 sq/ft. The arrivals hall now has an open mezzanine level, more natural light, and includes a new docking station for the airport’s mobile lounge vehicle transportation system as well as two VIP Customs Processing Lounges.

International travel through Dulles has dramatically increased since 1991, from 1.4 million passengers to 6.2 million in 2008. The hall can now process 2,500 passengers an hour, up from 1,400 in the original arrivals building, constructed in 1991. Former processing space will now be devoted to expanding the baggage claim area.

Construction for phase 2 is already underway with completion planned for next year – phase 3 will restore the original international arrivals building.

Birmingham’s new pier officially opens

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent has opened Birmingham International Airport’s new £50 million International Pier.

October 23: His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent opened Birmingham International Airport’s new £50 million International Pier which replaces the original built in 1984.

Built in just 14 months, this represents the airport operator’s single biggest investment in the last 20 years. A three-storey construction, the new pier provides air-bridged parking for seven wide-bodied aircraft and has enough space to serve 13 smaller ones at any given time. Departures are accommodated on the top level, arrivals on the middle level with airlines’ offices and those of handling agents based on the ground floor.

The Duke unveiled a commemorative plaque and was given a photograph of his mother, Princess Marina Duchess of Kent, opening the airport’s original terminal in Elmdon in 1939.

Iberia’s restructuring plan

Spanish airline Iberia has announced plans to restructure.

October 22: Spanish airline Iberia has announced plans to restructure “to address the dramatic [financial] situation now faced by the airline” according to a recent press release.

Called ‘Plan 2012’, the airline will create a new short-haul carrier for its domestic routes in 2011 based at Madrid Airport, while the parent company will concentrate on long-haul flights.

Iberia’s Chief Operating Officer, Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, described the current situation as unsustainable; “The airline industry has never experienced such a dramatic situation. It is essential for us to use imaginative means to transform Iberia into a sound and viable project,” he said.

Other cost-cutting measures will include a wage freeze until 2012; an early retirement plan for all cabin attendants over 55 and 200 further job cuts.