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LATEST NEWS

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Avianca files for bankruptcy owing to impact of COVID-19

Columbia’s Avianca Holdings SA, South America’s second-largest airline, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The carrier had a looming bond payment deadline and had been unable to secure any financial aid from the government to help it through the pandemic.

In the filing lodged with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Avianca estimates its liabilities lie somewhere between US$1 billion and US$10 billion. In a press release, CEO Anko van der Werff confirmed that: “Avianca is facing the most challenging crisis in our 100-year history.”

The airline has not flown a regular, scheduled flight since March, and if it fails to pull itself out of bankruptcy, it will become the first major carrier, worldwide, to fold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the world’s oldest airlines and was previously rescued from bankruptcy back in the early 2000s by German Efromovich, the Bolivian-born oil magnate.

More recently, Avianca had laid off most of its 20,000 employees without pay and had no definite plans when it intended to restart. The South American carrier was already struggling prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, with Roberto Kriete, president of Avianca’s board, saying last year in a meeting with employees that the airline was “broke.” In relation to Sunday’s repayment of a US$65 million bond, most analysts felt that Avianca was unlikely to be able to pay it, while as a result of filing for bankruptcy, U.S. carrier United Airlines, which had invested heavily in Avianca, stands to lose anything up to US$700 million in loans.

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StandardAero awarded multi-year U.S. Air Force J85 engine MRO contract

The United States Air Force (USAF) has awarded StandardAero a US$237 million multi-year contract to provide engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for General Electric J85 turbojet engines powering the USAF fleet of T-38 trainer aircraft. The multi-year contract will continue into 2028 and all work will be performed at StandardAero’s San Antonio facility, located at Port San Antonio. At program maturity, up to 100 new jobs will be required to support the program.

Under the new contract, StandardAero will provide the same high quality service experience the USAF has received through other multi-year contracts including support for the USAF MRO requirements for Rolls-Royce T56 engines that power C-130 aircraft as well as General Electric F110 MRO engine support which power international F-15 and F-16 aircraft. All of these programs are performed at the company’s San Antonio facility, where StandardAero also serves at the exclusive engine MRO partner for Rolls-Royce RB211-535 engines that power Boeing 757 aircraft, which are commercially operated.

Willis Lease Finance reports first-quarter pre-tax profit of US$8.5 million

Willis Lease Finance has reported first-quarter pre-tax profit and total revenues of US$8.5 million and US$81.6 million, respectively. The company’s first quarter 2020 pre-tax results were impacted by both lower revenue in the core leasing business, which was influenced by a reduction in reported asset usage and reduced spare parts sales, and the one-time expense associated with its Willis Engine Structured Trust II re-financing. Aggregate lease rent and maintenance reserve revenues were US$66.9 million for the first quarter of 2020.

“The Company experienced another quarter of profitability but on lighter revenues primarily driven by the decline in global flight traffic, which led to lower maintenance revenues and spare parts sales,” said Charles F. Willis, Chairman and CEO. “We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a lot of strain on our lessee customer base and we do not see that correcting quickly. We therefore remain highly focused on protecting our business while continuing to deliver for our customers."

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Gulfstream G600 earns type certificate approval from EASA

The Gulfstream G600™ has earned type certificate approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), enabling aircraft registrations and deliveries to begin for EU customers.

At its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90, the G600 can carry passengers 5,500 nautical miles/10,186 kilometers nonstop — enough range to travel from London to Los Angeles or from Paris to Hong Kong. At its long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.85, it can fly 6,500 nm/12,038 km. Its maximum
operating speed is Mach 0.925.

The aircraft, which entered service Aug. 8, 2019, has already earned 23 city-pair speed records. Among those records was a flight of 4,057 nm/7,514 km from Savannah to Geneva that took just 7 hours and 21 minutes at Mach 0.90.

Emirates posts 32nd consecutive year of profit

The Emirates Group has posted a US$456 million profit for the full year 2019/2020, that ended on March 31, 2020, down 28% from the previous year. Emirates recorded a 5% revenue fall to US$28.3 billion with a 15% cash balance increase to US$7 billion. The company announced that it is not paying a dividend in order to protect its liquidity.

During the year, the airline took delivery of six A380s from Airbus and retired six of its older (4 B777-300ER, 1 B777-300 and 1 B777-200F) aircraft. As part of its long term fleet planning, in November 2019, Emirates announced an order for 50 A350-900 XWB and 30 B787-9 aircraft at list prices of US$24.8 billion. The latest generation A350 and B787-9 aircraft will be delivered to Emirates starting from financial year 2023 and the aircraft will complement Emirates’ fleet mix, support network growth, and give more flexibility to serve seasonal or opportunistic demand better. With this, Emirates now has on order 203 aircraft – 8 A380, 50 A350, 115 B777-X and 30 B787-9, excluding options and purchase rights.

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United Airlines names Bratt J. Hart President

Effective May 20, 2020, Brett J. Hart, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, will be appointed President of United Airlines Holdings, a continuation of the company's leadership succession plan announced in early December with current CEO Oscar Munoz transitioning to Executive Chair and current President Scott Kirby becoming CEO following the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on May 20, 2020.

Since joining United in 2010, Hart has taken on a variety of significant strategic responsibilities for the company at critical moments – most notably in October 2015 when he served as interim CEO for six months while Munoz recovered from a heart transplant.

Hart's promotion reflects United's commitment to leadership continuity and underscores the value of leveraging Hart's regulatory and strategic expertise, which complement Kirby's strong commercial acumen and industry experience.

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GKN Aerospace and Boeing extend partnership on military aircraft contracts

GKN Aerospace has signed a strategic agreement with Boeing to solidify a continued working partnership until 2023. The agreement covers the production of structural components and assemblies for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-15E Strike Eagle and C-17 Globemaster III.

GKN Aerospace has been a sole-source supplier for items such as external surfaces, internal structures, wing trailing and leading edges for these Boeing aircraft since 2001.

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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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Tamar