Delta announces ‘farewell tour’ for Boeing 747 

Delta Air Lines plans to fly its final Boeing 747 to former Northwest Airlines hubs next month, after the aircraft completes its last international service on December 17. 

Following the final scheduled flight from Seoul Incheon to Detroit, the Atlanta-based carrier will fly the 747-400 from Detroit to Seattle, Seattle to Atlanta and Atlanta to Minneapolis as part of a farewell tour ending December 20.

Seats on the flights will be open to employees and members of its SkyMiles frequent flier programmeDetroit and Minneapolis were primary hubs for Northwest, which merged with Delta in 2009, and Seattle was a focus city. 

Delta plans to operate the 747 on a “handful” of sports team and other charters through the end of December, before flying it to storage in the Arizona desert in early January 2018.

When the tour is over, the last passenger 747 in the USA will exit scheduled service after 47 years. United Airlines, the only other US 747 operator, retired its last of the type earlier in November. 

Airbus reveals largest-ever order 

Airbus announced at the Dubai Airshow that Indigo Partners has placed the largest-ever order for 430 aircraft, totalling $49.5 billion at list price. Indigo Partners, which owns Frontier Airlines in the US, Wizz Air in Europe, Jetsmart in Chile and Volaris in Mexico, has placed an order for 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos.

Airbus says when added to the firm’s previous A320 orders for 427 planes, the new agreement makes Indigo Partners one of the largest customers by order number in the world for the Airbus single-aisle aircraft.

This is welcome news for Airbus as it was widely expected that Emirates were to order further A380 which would have secured production on the aircraft for a number of years, however it appears the deal has fallen through.

Wataniya Airways signs for 25 A320neos 

Kuwaiti airline Wataniya Airways and Airbus have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 25 Airbus A320neo aircraft through Golden Falcon Aviation, Wataniya’s aircraft provider. 

This is significant news for the carrier as they only restarted operations back in July 2017, after ceasing trading in March 2011 due to financial difficulties.  

In July this year it was announced that the airline would restart operations with seven destinations to seven different countries operated by their two Airbus A320-200s. 

Westjet to launch low-cost carrier in Canada amid record profits

Westjet has announced the name and logo for its new, ultra-low-cost airline.

Named Swoop, the carrier will begin selling flights in early 2018. 

Westjet says Swoop will offer customers travelling within Canada a ‘no-frills, low-fare’ option.

The airline will have its headquarters in Calgary and will announce further details of its routes in due course. 

WestJet profit climbs 20 per cent as airline carries more passengers 

WestJet saw its third-quarter profit grow by about 20 per cent compared with a year ago as it increased capacity and traffic. The airline says it earned $138.4 million or $1.18 per diluted share for the quarter that ended September 30. 

That compared with a profit of $116.0 million or 97 cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Capacity in the quarter measured by available seat miles increased 5.8 per cent, while traffic measured by revenue passenger miles increased 7.9 per cent compared with a year ago. 

WestJet’s load factor for the quarter amounted to 85.7 per cent, up from 84.0 per cent.

Lufthansa on course for annual profit above 3bn Euros 

The Financial Times reports that Lufthansa issued an upbeat view even as it posted a fall in profits for the third quarter. 
It notes that shares in the airline dipped three per cent in early trading as it reported a 17 per cent decline in net profit of 1.18bn Euros, though last year’s figures for the same period were boosted by a one-off gain of 730m Euros from a labour deal. Jarrod Castle, analyst at UBS, attributed the early sell-off to investors taking profit. 
The article reports that shares in Lufthansa are up 113 per cent since January, making it the best performer on the Dax this year.
The group which this month acquired more than half of bankrupt rival Air Berlin and is in the process of bidding for portions of Alitalia, confirmed that it expected adjusted operating profit this year to be above the record 1.74bn Euro set in 2016. 

Monarch loses slots battle in High Court 

Monarch Airlines has lost its High Court battle over “valuable” runway slots it wanted to exchange with other carriers to raise cash for creditors. 

The airline ceased trading last month and its administrators’ lawyers called the slots its “most valuable asset”. The company which allocates 39 airports’ slots accepted that Monarch would have received some of them if it had not gone into administration. Wizz Air and easyJet are among airlines who are interested in acquiring them. 

Airport Co-ordination Limited’s decision not to allocate certain take-off and landing slots to Monarch for next summer was at the heart of its case. One of its lawyers said: “ACL has no lawful power to refuse to allocate these slots or to ‘reserve’ them pending determination of proposals to revoke or suspend MAL’s operating licence.” 

But the judges rejected Monarch’s claim that ACL was under a duty to allocate the summer 2018 slots to Monarch “by reason of historical precedence”.

Flybe sees profits fall and warns of challenging conditions 

Flybe has reported a sharp drop in profits due to IT and aircraft maintenance cost issues.

The group saw adjusted pre-tax profits for the six months to September 30 fall year on year from £15.9 million to £8.4 million due to an “onerous” IT contract and rising maintenance costs. Non-adjusted pre-tax profits rose from seven million pounds to £15.1 million due, the airline said, to revaluation gains of £6.7 million on dollar-based aircraft loans.

Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said reductions in the airline’s fleet size meant load factors would rise and yields “would stabilise”.

The carrier saw a four percentage point increase in load factors to 76 per cent during the period. Average revenue per seat increased 8.8 per cent to £55.29. She added: “While half-year profits are lower than last year, due to the one-off IT contract costs, higher maintenance expenses and the impact of the fall in the value of sterling, I am confident that we are on a clear path to sustainable profitability through the investments and improvements we are making at Flybe“.

Ryanair Update

Here we have (as promised) an update on the latest at Ryanair regarding the dispute with their pilot workforce.

Ryanair is emailing passengers impacted by its flights cancellations offering them a £40 voucher towards a future flight. The gesture, which is on top of the EU compensation that passengers are entitled to, comes with ‘deepest apologies’ for the disruption, which Ryanair blamed on a ‘mess up’ over pilots leave. 

But the voucher can only be used for travel from October 1 to March 20 2018, and does not include the popular Christmas or New Year period. Signed by chief executive Michael O’Leary, the email says the airline has set up a separate team to handle EU261 claims. It finishes by saying: “Rest assured there will be no repeat of last week’s roster related flight cancellations.”

The Daily Mail has suggested that Ryanair could become the next Sports Direct. The no-frills carrier and Mike Ashley’s retail chain have much in common, both are run by autocratic founders, and both believe that if you give customers what they want for the cheapest price they will not complain.

Both also have subscribed that as long as you keep on expandingbyadding even more flights or more outlets and brands, then sales and profits will rise and investors will remain on side.

However, in adopting this approach the paper suggests that Ryanair has lost a key ingredient for long term success; work force loyalty. In its latest effort to deal with its pilot capacityproblems, Ryanair is cancelling another 18,000 flights between November and March, affecting 400,000 passengers, partly because it has been unable to persuade its self-employed pilots to fill the gaps like it had hoped to.

The Mail goes on to suggest that if Ryanair were to pay its pilots a fair wage and offer them more time off, then Ryanair would not be facing these current issues. 


Will Ryanair survive this crisis?

BBC News Online has written about the latest problems affecting Ryanair and how that despite their self-proclaimed ‘mess up’ Ryanair will remain largely unaffected long-term. The shareholders that the reporter spoke to that there was no issue with O’leary’s leadership claiming that Michael O’Leary is not some easy come, easy go, hired-gun chief executive. 

Although the airline was founded by Tony Ryan it became the biggest carrier of passengers in Europe under Mr O’Leary. He owns four per cent of the company and has survived worse publicity than this. The BBC then goes on to suggest that higher pilots’ wages will not change the economics of Ryanair.

All airlines try and bear down on cost as it is a competitive business, but the things that really affect profits are external factors like the world economy and the price of fuel. Both of those things are in the industry’s favourright now. When this current issue passes, consumers will return to looking at which airline can get them where they are going, at the price they want to pay. 

Passengers were met with silence from Ryanair last week as the budget airline was flooded with tens of thousands of complaints over its handling of the flight cancellation fiasco. Travellers caught up in the chaos, said that they were unable to contact Ryanair for refunds despite spending hundreds of pounds on flights with other airlines.

Ryanair cancelled 18,000 flights between November and the end of March, affecting 400,000 passengers on top of the 315,000 passengers already hit by cancellations in September and October.

The airline was told yesterday that it faced legal action by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for misleading passengers. This included failing to tell them they were eligible to use a rival airline free of charge and receive expenses for hotels, meals and transfer costs. Last week, the CAA sent a new letter to Ryanair ordering it to contact once again the passengers affected by the first round of cancellations after they were ‘misled’ over the possibility of being rerouted with another airline. Independent Online comments that this will likely add around £20m to the ‘steadily rising bill for the mother of all airline-management muddles’. 

Ryanair braced for €100m annual bill for pilot pay rises 
Ryanair will be hit with up to €100m in higher annual pilot costs as the airline looks to recover from the rostering crisis that led to the cancellation of 20,000 flights.

In first-half results Ryanair said pay rises to pilots would add €45m to crew costs in the current fiscal year and €100m in the following full-year. Ryanair also warned of lower passenger growth next year. 

Ryanair rota fiasco and cancellation crisis fail to dent profit drive  

Ryanair is on course for record annual profits despite a rota fiasco that led to pilot shortages and the cancellation of thousands of flights. The Dublin-based airline said it had responded swiftly to the crisis which could cost up to €50m and add about €100m to its annual wage bill after the rostering failure forced it to address a dispute with pilots over pay and working conditions. 

Profits after tax rose 11 per cent to €1.29bn in the six months to September 30. The chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said it was still targeting a range of €1.4bn to €1.45bn for the full year. Shares rose four per cent. 

Flybe incident at Belfast International Airport

A Flybe plane with 57 people on board has been forced to make an emergency landing with no nose gear in place at Belfast International Airport.

The Bombardier Q-400 had taken off from City Airport at 11.07am bound for Inverness but reported an undercarriage fault as it burned fuel in a holding pattern for about two hours.

 Flight BE331 was diverted to the Belfast International where a longer runway was available and landed safely at about 1.30pm with the front of the plane unsupported, and the runway was closed to other aircraft.

The plane was carrying 52 passengers, one infant, and four crew members.

One person was taken to hospital with a minor hand injury. No other injuries have been reported.

Images from the scene showed the jet tipped forward on to its nose.

In a statement, the airline said: “Flybe can confirm that one passenger was taken to hospital with a minor hand injury following an incident involving one of our aircraft this afternoon which landed with its nose gear raised at Belfast International Airport at 1.30pm local time.

“There are no further reports of any other passenger or crew injuries.

“There were 52 passengers plus one infant on board and four crew members.

“We are sending a specialist team to Belfast to offer assistance and we will now do all we can to understand the cause of this incident.”

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, described landing without nose gear as a “very difficult manoeuvre”.

He added: “The pilots in this case appear to have done a sterling job of bringing the aircraft back under those circumstances.”

BA cabin staff vote to accept pay deal, ending lengthy dispute 

BA cabin staff vote to accept pay deal, ending lengthy dispute.

British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly to accept a pay deal, bringing an end to a long-running dispute which included 85 days of industrial action. The dispute only involved the mixed fleet section of cabin crew who are on the newer contracts and operate short and long haul flights from London Heathrow only.

Unite said 84 per cent of its members backed the deal. A BA spokesman said: “We are pleased the dispute has been resolved.”