TUI revises 787 orders

Gatwick-based airline TUI Travel has confirmed that ten of the 23 787s it has on order will be cancelled.

September 30: Gatwick-based airline TUI Travel, which owns the Thomson Airline brand, confirmed that it has agreed with Boeing that ten of the 23 787s it has on order will be cancelled, but also that it will have purchase rights, with no obligation, for a further 13 aircraft in future.

The company says that it “continues to believe” that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the ideal aircraft for its long-haul requirements. It expects to receive its first 787 in early 2012.

Another Indian pilots’ dispute – updated

Pilots from Air India have now been on strike for four days in a row over flying allowances.

September 29: Pilots from Air India have now been on strike for four days in a row over flying allowances. The airline is attempting to save up to $270 million in the remaining six months of the current fiscal year through the renegotiation of handling contracts at various airports and elimination of “wasteful expenditure in various areas and enhanced productivity”.

In a move similar to that of the recent Jet Airways dispute, many of the pilots have reported sick, disrupting many domestic and international flights. Air India says that so far 87 ‘Executive’ pilots have reported sick and a meeting held in Delhi on Sunday with the pilots’ union NACIL “ended in stalemate” and that it would “deal sternly with the Executive Pilots who had reported sick.”

October 1: Air India pilots called off their strike after Indian Aviation minister Praful Patel gave assurances that flying allowances owed would be paid.

Air India had announced cuts to allowances ranging from 25% to 50%. It says it will now reconsider this and proposed to set up a committee comprising representatives of pilots to look into the issue.

New leases announced by ILFC

Airliner leasing company International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) announced a rash of leases, totalling 26 airliners to 21 different carriers.

September 23: Airliner leasing company International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) announced a rash of leases, totalling 26 airliners to 21 different carriers.

Most of the deals concern second-hand aircraft, but two of the orders will be fulfilled with a new Boeing 777-300ER for V Australia and two Airbus A330-200s for Garuda Indonesia.

Lease terms vary from 47 to 148 months, the longest being for the Garuda Indonesia A330s.

Helitech 2009: Eurocopter’s ‘Hermès’ makes UK debut

The star of Eurocopter’s stand in the main hall at Helitech 2009 was its EC135T2 ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès’ luxury VIP helicopter.

September 24: The star of Eurocopter’s stand in the main hall at Helitech 2009 was its EC135T2 ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès’ luxury VIP helicopter, a “state-of-the-art aeronautical product that is harmonised and blended to suit the needs of VIPs who enjoy travelling in style”.

The helicopter is a result of collaboration between Eurocopter and the Hermès Group from Paris, a high-end fashion design company. Five have so far been sold to customers worldwide with two in service; the first began services in Abu Dhabi in May, and the second has just begun service with All Nippon Airways between Narita Airport and downtown Tokyo.

At €6,300,000 (less tax) it is some €1 million more than the standard EC135 VIP fit, so you may just need that lottery win!

First 777F for FedEx

FedEx Express has taken delivery of its first 777 Freighter.

September 22: FedEx Express took delivery of its first 777 Freighter, also the first to serve with a US-based carrier.

It’s the ninth 777 Freighter to be delivered by Boeing, which calls it a “game changer.” It claims that transit times from points in Asia to the FedEx hub in Memphis, Tennessee, will drop by one to three hours compared with the MD-11 Freighter.

To date 71 777 Freighters have been ordered worldwide.

Qantas’ 75th 737

Australian airline Qantas celebrated the delivery of its 75th Boeing 737.

September 21: Australian airline Qantas celebrated the delivery of its 75th Boeing 737 by naming it after New Zealand aviatrix Jean Batten, who broke numerous flying records in the 1930s. In 1934 she flew solo from England to Australia and was awarded the Harmon Trophy, awarded annually to the world’s outstanding aviator, three times from 1935 through to 1937.

Qantas has been flying Boeing 737s since 1986 and this latest example is a Next-Generation 737-800. It is the first of six aircraft to be added to Qantas’ trans-Tasman fleet over the next two years.

Airbus & Boeing look to the future

The world’s two premier airliner manufacturers have both made long-term forecasts predicting a need for between 25,000 – 29,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.

September 17: The world’s two premier airliner manufacturers both made long-term forecasts predicting a need for between 25,000 – 29,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Of the two, Boeing is the most bullish, with worldwide investments of $3.2 trillion for 29,000 new commercial airliners forecast, while Airbus forsees a similar value at $3.1 trillion for 4,000 less aeroplanes. Airbus believes that “Larger aircraft in all size categories are required to help ease aircraft congestion and to accommodate growth on existing routes and to achieve more with less,” clearly a nod to its attempts to market its flagship A380 ‘super jumbo’.

Both companies believe that the greatest demand for passenger aircraft will be from airlines in Asia-Pacific, primarily the People’s Republic of China and India. The region will account for 31% of orders according to Airbus, with Boeing appraising the Chinese market at 3,770 new aircraft, valued at $400 billion. “China is the world’s most dynamic market for commercial aircraft,” said Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President – Marketing. “The strong domestic air travel growth in China in the first half of 2009 gives us confidence that the world aviation industry is beginning to recover.”

Economic situation “worse than 9/11”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted that airline losses could total $11 billion in 2009.

September 15: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted that airline losses could total $11 billion in 2009, $2 billion worse than previously projected. Weak yields and rising fuel costs are to blame, it says.

“The bottom line of this crisis is larger than the impact of 9/11,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer. “This is not a short-term shock. Lost revenue will take years to recover. Conserving cash, careful capacity management and cutting costs are the keys to survival. The global economic storm may be abating, but airlines have not yet found safe harbour. The crisis continues. Revenues are not likely to return to 2008 levels until 2012 at the earliest.”

Bisignani says governments need to play their part in encouraging recovery: “European governments are fixated on using environment as an excuse to squeeze more taxes out of the industry. We don’t want bailouts. But we need governments to look more seriously at this sector by investing in efficient infrastructure; replacing the proliferation of environmental taxes with a global solution for the environment and giving airlines commercial freedoms to merge.”

Oman Air takes delivery of first Airbus A330

Oman Air has taken delivery of its first A330-200.

September 15: Oman Air took delivery of its first A330-200 at Airbus’s facility at Blagnac in France. The aircraft has been bought by Dublin-based leasing company AWAS and will be let to the Middle Eastern airline.

The aircraft will be deployed on long-haul routes from Muscat, Oman to London, Paris and Frankfurt as well as destinations in Asia. It is the first of seven A330s ordered in 2007, five of which will be purchased from Airbus directly.

Jet Airways pilots return to work

Agreement between Jet Airways and its striking pilots has been reached.

September 13: Agreement between Jet Airways and its striking pilots was reached with all international and domestic flights resuming normal services.

It is understood that the airline agreed to reinstate the cabin crew previously dismissed that led to the strike action and subsequent mass sick leave by the pilots once a strike was deemed illegal. A consultative group comprising board members, the Chief Executive Officer and pilots has been set up to consider cabin crew concerns on pay and conditions.