International Airlines Group (IAG) has named its new low-cost long-haul carrier LEVEL. The airline will launch in June with flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. It will fly two new Airbus A330s configured with 293 seats in Economy and 21 in Premium Economy. Initially the airline will operate with flight and cabin crew supplied by Iberia.
Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive, said: “LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world’s largest airline groups behind it.
“LEVEL will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.
“Barcelona is Vueling’s home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling’s extensive European network onto LEVEL’s long-haul flights.
“This is just the start. We’re really excited about the opportunities for expansion and we plan to bring LEVEL to other European destinations”.
Customers flying in Premium Economy will enjoy complimentary checked luggage, meals and seat selection. Those travelling in Economy will be able to purchase these extra services while high speed internet will be offered to all passengers with prices starting at €8.99. Travellers will also be able to earn and redeem Avios – the loyalty currency for IAG’s airlines.
Flights to LA begin on June 1 operating twice weekly while Oakland will launch the following day and be flown three times per week. Services to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic will be flown twice weekly from June 10 with Buenos Aires coming online on June 17 with three flights per week.
Airbus has delivered Iran Air’s first A330-243, EP-IJA (c/n 1540). The jet was originally built for Avianca Brasil but never entered service with the carrier and had been stored at Teruel, Spain.
Iran Air’s A330-200 is configured with a two-class cabin layout with 32 seats in Business Class and 206 in Economy. It is the first of 54 widebody jets included in the carrier’s 100-airframe order placed in December 2016.
Record deliveries and a strong order intake marked a robust 2016 for Airbus. At the company’s annual year-end briefing it revealed it had delivered 688 aircraft to 82 customers, a new record. This is 53 more than the previous record of 635 set in 2015. The single-aisle A320 Family accounted for 85% of the total with 545 deliveries (including 68 A320neos). Over 40% of Airbus’ total deliveries were for the A321 model. In the widebody market, Airbus handed over 66 A330s, 49 A350 XWB (one short of the manufacturer’s target) and 28 A380s.
Meanwhile, it achieved 731 net orders from 51 customers, split between 607 single-aisle and 124 widebody aircraft. At the end of 2016, Airbus’ overall backlog stood at 6,874 aircraft valued at $1,018bn at list prices.
Fabrice Brégier, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and Chief Operating Officer of Airbus, remarked: “We have delivered on our objectives in a challenging environment, proving our ramp-up readiness for the future.” He went on to highlight some of the notable milestones the company achieved during 2016 including the delivery of Airbus’ 10,000th aeroplane and the first flight of the A350-1000. It also commenced deliveries of both engine variants of the A320neo, while the Pratt & Whitney powered A321neo was certified and the first US-assembled aircraft were delivered from its final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
Looking forward to 2017 the European manufacturer revealed it has raised the average list prices for its aircraft by 1% across its entire commercial product line, effective from January 1. It says the increase has been calculated per its standard escalation formula that considers the prices of materials and commodities.
John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft remarked: “Our new 2017 pricing affirms the value of Airbus’s modern comprehensive and fuel-efficient aircraft family. The price increase also reflects our customers’ satisfaction with the winning combination of performance, operating economics and passenger experience.”
Agreement has been reached between Iran Air and Airbus over a firm order for 100 aircraft. The deal includes 46 A320 Family, 38 A330 Family and 16 A350 jets and follows an initial commitment signed last January.
“Iran Air considers this agreement an important step towards a stronger international presence in civil aviation. We hope this success signals to the world that the commercial goals of Iran and its counterparts are better achieved with international cooperation and collaboration”, said Farhad Parvaresh, Iran Air Chairman and CEO.
The Tehran-based airline’s initial commitment also included a requirement for 12 A380s, but the super jumbo has been axed from the final deal.
Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO, said: “This is a landmark agreement not only because it paves the way for Iran Air’s fleet renewal. Our overall accord includes pilot training, airport operations and air traffic management so this agreement is also a significant first step in the overall modernisation of Iran’s commercial aviation sector.”
The European manufacturer says the agreement is subject to US Government Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) export licences, required for products containing 10% or more US technology content, which were granted in September and November 2016.
Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines is purchasing an additional Airbus A330-200 and leasing two more A321neos. The acquisitions will enable the carrier to phase out its remaining Boeing 767s earlier than planned, with the type due to be retired by the end of 2018.
“The addition of these three aircraft provide for low- to mid-single-digit capacity growth over the remainder of the decade,” said Peter Ingram, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “At the same time, the accelerated retirement of the Boeing 767s from our fleet will simplify our operation and allow us to be more efficient.”
Hawaiian had already announced plans to acquire 16 A321neos, with the first deliveries starting early next year. The two additional airframes will join the carrier in early 2018 and take the fleet to 18 examples.
The airline says the A321neo will complement its existing fleet of 23 A330-200s on long haul routes between Hawaii and the US West Coast.
The additional A330 will be delivered to Hawaiian by the fourth quarter of 2017, growing the fleet to 24 aircraft. The airline also operates 20 narrow-body Boeing 717-200 and three ATR 42 turboprops.
Hawaiian has also introduced the first of three Moana-inspired liveries. The special scheme, which promotes the new Disney film, has been applied to A330-243 N392HA (c/n 1404).
Emirates has phased out its final Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft, consolidating its fleet on the Boeing 777 and A380.
A330-243 A6-EAK (c/n 452 ) was the last of the airline’s 29 examples to be withdrawn from service, leaving the fleet on October 29. The jet had logged 60,000 hours since joining the Dubai-based carrier in 2002.
The final A340 to be retired was A6-ERN (c/n 166), which had joined the airline in 2004 and was also withdrawn on October 29.
Emirates has phased out 18 A330s and five A340s since January 2015, and plans to remove a further 25 aircraft from its fleet over the course of 2017 and 2018 as part of its ongoing renewal programme. This has seen the UAE carrier take delivery of 36 new airframes this year alone, consisting of 20 A380s and 16 777s. From November, the airline will be receiving what it dubs “next generation” 777-300ERs, featuring upgraded Business Class seats.
Airbus has won a firm order from Cebu Pacific for two A330-300s. The Manila-based carrier currently operates a fleet of six A330s on long haul flights to the Middle East and Australia, as well as on domestic and regional routes.
“The A330 has proven to be the right choice for our long haul low fare product,” said Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer. “The newly ordered aircraft will enable us to add more long haul routes, including the launch of our first flights to the US. We are excited to be expanding our widebody fleet, offering more low fare options for our customers to fly further than ever before.”
John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers, added: “This order from Cebu Pacific is another endorsement of the unrivalled efficiency of the A330 for profitable long haul low-cost services. Combining low operating costs, proven reliability and a great passenger experience, the A330 is the clear preferred choice of airlines in this competitive market segment. We are looking forward to working with Cebu Pacific as it grows its long haul services and flies to more destinations across the world.”
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has confirmed it is in negotiations with SriLankan Airlines concerning the wet lease of four Airbus A330-300s.
The Pakistani national carrier has been looking for additional widebody jets to operate its new premier service, which is being launched on August 14. SriLankan Airlines has proposed leasing four of its seven Airbus A330-300s and a high-level team from PIA, led by CEO Bernd Hildenbrand, recently visited Colombo to inspect the aircraft and negotiate a contract.
SriLankan Airlines is looking to offload the jets after the Government of Sri Lanka said that it would no longer fund continuing losses. As a result, SriLankan has ended all operations to Europe, bar its daily Colombo-London link, leaving it with spare capacity.
Pakistan International Airlines’ new premier service will debut on the London Heathrow route, and will feature fully lie-flat beds in the premium cabins. The airline is putting its cabin crew through a three-week training course to prepare them for its introduction.
A statement on PIA’s website said: “With new aircraft, more professional crew and improved service standards, the new service aims at providing an altogether different experience to passengers. This service will go a long way in helping PIA regain its market share both domestically as well as internationally.”
Airbus has demonstrated how it is using the latest drone technology to help carry out visual aircraft inspections.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), showcased on the A350 and A380 at last week’s Farnborough Airshow, is equipped with a high definition camera and performs visual inspections of the upper sections of the aircraft’s fuselage. It is flown using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot. The drone follows a predetermined flight path while taking a series of pictures. The images – including those showing any damage such as scratches, dents and painting defects – are then compiled into a 3D digital model, recorded in a database and then analysed. Data acquisition using the UAV only takes 10 to 15 minutes, instead of two hours using conventional methods, while picture analysis can be undertaken anytime afterwards in the comfort of an office.
The manufacturer says the benefits of this innovative tool and process are significant. Operators no longer need to use a telescopic platform to perform visual inspections, it also reduces aircraft downtime as well as providing better working conditions and improved safety for quality inspectors. The company is conducting a full-scale industrial trial of the system on its A330 aircraft and is working on implementing it on other programmes.
Tibet Airlines celebrated a significant milestone when it took delivery of its maiden widebody jet, an Airbus A330.
Airbus handed over the 242 tonne maximum take-off weight (MOTW) variant to the Lhasa-based carrier at Toulouse last week. Lhasa Airport is at an altitude in excess of 11,485 ft (3,500m) and the increased MTOW provides the airline with the performance to operate in this demanding environment.
The jet, which is registered B-8420 (c/n 1730), is configured in a three-class layout with 12 seats in business, 32 in premium economy and 235 in economy.
Bai Weisan, President of Tibet Airlines said: “We are extremely excited to receive our first widebody airliner – an enhanced A330 from Airbus and are very confident of its high-altitude performance. The A330 Family will become our core widebody to be deployed on our new international routes thanks to its flexibility, comfort and efficiency. With the A330, we are looking forward to more passengers from all over the world flying with Tibet Airlines and visiting Tibet.”
Eric Chen, President of Airbus China said: “We congratulate Tibet Airlines on receiving its first A330 and we express our gratitude for the confidence demonstrated in our leading A330. With an operating base at high altitude Lhasa Airport and routes covering all of Tibet’s civil airports, the airline already benefits from the unrivalled performance of Airbus single-aisle aircraft. We are proud the A330 is Tibet Airline’s backbone for international route expansion.”
The A330 will ply its trade on flights from Lhasa to Chengdu and Beijing.