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Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Trial for MH17 plane crash opens in Schiphol, Holland

The trial relating to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 has begun. The plane, a Boeing 777, was brought down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile, killing all 193 passengers and crew on board, the majority Dutch nationals, but also passengers from Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and Britain. The plane was brought down while flying over an area of Eastern Ukraine which, at the time, was held by pro-Russian rebels and it is alleged the Buk missile originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Federation.

It is believed that the armed vehicle had been transported from Russia into the region in question on the day of the crash, and then driven back to Russia shortly afterwards. While the four men on trial are not believed to have been physically responsible for the launch of the missile which downed the plane, Dutch prosecutors have alleged that four men had responsibility for the missile launch: Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, and the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. All were senior commanders fighting Ukrainian forces in the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic. The prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse said the four defendants had “noted with delight” that a plane had been shot down. “We do not think that these defendants pressed the button that launched the Buk missile,” he said. “However we do think that they played a significant coordinating role in the transportation and positioning of the Buk-Telar and its removal back to Russia, making them so closely involved that they can be held responsible under criminal law for the downing of flight MH17.”

None of the defendants will be present at the trial as Russia does not permit extradition of its nationals. The trial is expected to last many months and already case file documentation submitted extends to over 36,000 pages.

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IATA sees 2020 revenue losses for global air transport industry between US$63 billion and US$113 billion

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) updated its analysis of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency on the global air transport industry. IATA now sees 2020 global revenue losses for the passenger business of between US$63 billion (in a scenario where COVID-19 is contained in current markets with over 100 cases as of March 2) and US$113 billion (in a scenario with a broader spreading of COVID-19). No estimates are yet available for the impact on cargo operations.

IATA’s previous analysis (issued on February 20, 2020) put lost revenues at US$29.3 billion based on a scenario that would see the impact of COVID-19 largely confined to markets associated with China. Since that time, the virus has spread to over 80 countries and forward bookings have been severely impacted on routes beyond China.

Financial markets have reacted strongly. Airline share prices have fallen nearly 25% since the outbreak began, some 21 percentage points greater than the decline that occurred at a similar point during the SARS crisis of 2003. To a large extent, this fall already prices in a shock to industry revenues much greater than our previous analysis.

To take into account the evolving situation with COVID-19, IATA estimated the potential impact on passenger revenues based on two possible scenarios:

Scenario 1: Limited Spread

This scenario includes markets with more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases (as of March 2) experiencing a sharp downturn followed by a V-shaped recovery profile. It also estimates falls in consumer confidence in other markets (North America, Asia Pacific and Europe).

The markets accounted for in this scenario and their anticipated fall in passenger numbers, due to COVID-19, as are as follows: China (-23%), Japan (-12%), Singapore (-10%), South Korea (-14%), Italy (-24%), France (-10%), Germany (-10%), and Iran (-16%). Additionally, Asia (excluding China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea) would be expected to see an 11% fall in demand. Europe (excluding Italy, France and Germany) would see a 7% fall in demand and Middle East (excluding Iran) would see a 7% fall in demand.

Globally, this fall in demand translates to an 11% worldwide passenger revenue loss equal to US$63 billion. China would account for some US$22 billion of this total. Markets associated with Asia (including China) would account for US$47 billion of this total.

Scenario 2: Extensive Spread

This scenario applies a similar methodology but to all markets that currently have 10 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases (as of 2 March). The outcome is a 19% loss in worldwide passenger revenues, which equates to US$113 billion. Financially, that would be on a scale equivalent to what the industry experienced in the Global Financial Crisis.

Africa and Latin America/Caribbean regions are not explicitly included in this market-based analysis, because there are currently no countries in either region with at least 10 COVID-19 cases.

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Kevin Ducksbury named new Chairman of The Air Charter Association

Kevin Ducksbury of Emerge Aviation has been appointed as the new Chairman of The Air Charter Association, succeeding Nick Weston of Weston Aviation. The appointment was made at the February Board Meeting of The Air Charter Association following a vote and the endorsement of the Board. Ducksbury is the first appointed Chairman since the Association’s rebrand in 2019 and will formally take on the role from The Air Charter Spring Lunch on April 1, onwards.

In his presentation to the Board Ducksbury outlined his future vision for the Association which included growing the Association’s geographical footprint and the promotion of the air charter industry to the next generation of aviation professionals.

Since joining the Board of the Association in 2018 he has been a very active participant and has driven forward many of the Association’s initiatives, including Broker Training and notably launched and continues to produce the Association's unique podcast.

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Ryanair cuts more flights to Italy as Italian Govt imposes travel restrictions in Northern Italy

Ryanair has announced further cuts to its flight schedules to/from Italy, and within Italy, in response to the Italian Government weekend “lock down” of travel to/from the Orange Zone in Northern Italy, in addition to a number of other EU countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Romania) restricting flights to/from Northern Italy with immediate effect.

Ryanair continues to comply fully with WHO and national Government guidance and travel bans. The situation is changing on a daily basis, and all passengers on flights affected by travel bans or cancellations, are receiving emails and are being offered flight transfers, full refunds or travel credits.

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FL ARI obtains EASA Part 145 Maintenance Organization certification for line maintenance in China

FL ARI Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering Company, based in Harbin, China, has obtained certification approval as an EASA Part 145 Maintenance Organization.

FL ARI is a joint venture between China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC), its mid- to end-of-life aircraft solutions arm Aircraft Recycling International (ARI), and FL Technics, a leading provider of MRO services in Europe.

FL ARI is now cleared to provide line maintenance support for aircraft from the Boeing 737 NG series to Airbus A320 families.

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AerCap appoints new Chairman

AerCap has released that Pieter Korteweg, the Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors, has decided to retire from the Board with effect from the close of the Company’s annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020 (the 2020 AGM).

The Board has appointed Paul T. Dacier to succeed Korteweg as Chairman of the Board with effect from the close of the 2020 AGM. Dacier has been a Non-Executive Director of AerCap since 2010 and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors since 2013. His appointment as Chairman of the Board is subject to his re-appointment as a Non-Executive Director at the 2020 AGM.

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SAS reports traffic statistics for February 2020

SAS has released that passenger growth, unit revenues and passenger yield showed good development in February 2010, as COVID-19 had a limited impact. Due to the outbreak, SAS has noted a reduced demand going forward and is adjusting its route network and capacity accordingly.

Total capacity and traffic increased by 1.4% and 0.5%, respectively, compared to last year. The load factor decrease 0.7 points to 65.2% compared to February 2019. Currency adjusted unit revenue increased by 1.1% and passenger yield increased by 2.2%.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, SAS suspended flights to/from Mainland China on January 31, Northern Italy on March 4, and Hong Kong on March 5. SAS is also adjusting other parts of network and reducing capacity on routes with lower demand.

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C&L Aviation Services receives Transport Canada Civil Aviation approval

C&L Aviation Service has received Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) approval. This certification allows C&L to perform maintenance services on commercial aircraft (defined as any aircraft that sells individual seats or full-aircraft rental services) that are registered in Canada.

C&L Aviation Services performs depot-level maintenance from its FAA and EASA approved, 140,000 ft², Part 145 maintenance facility located in Bangor, ME U.S.A. The company focuses in on regional aircraft including ERJ 135/140/145, Saab 340, ATR 42/72, Dash-8, and CRJ 200/700 and corporate aircraft including Challenger 604/605, Hawker 800 series, Citation Aircraft, and Beechjet 400A.

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