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Friday, May 29th, 2020

BALPA caught off guard as easyJet announces massive wave of job cuts

BALPA, the British Airline Pilots’ Association and pilots’ union has criticized easyJet for its announcement of a shedding of up to 30% of its staff without prior consultation. The union sees this volume of layoffs as totally unnecessary and that it would need “a lot of convincing” that easyJet needed to make “such dramatic cuts.”

The fact that easyJet is making cuts came as no surprise, despite the fact that staff had already taken pay cuts to ease the financial burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact the low-cost carrier’s fleet has remained grounded since March 30. The 30% equates to approximately 4,500 employees and the volume does not correspond to moves made by other low-cost carriers. Ryanair, renowned for its cost-cutting measures plans to reduce its own workforce by a maximum 15%, though it anticipates the final figure will be lower. Wizz expects to reduce its workforce by 19%.

Easyjet is being ultra-cautious and perhaps overly pessimistic with its predictions for the future, anticipating that it will take at least three years for passenger demand to return to pre-pandemic levels. Currently, the carrier anticipates reducing its fleet of planes by the 51 it had planned to be flying to a total 302 jets, though with the failure of former founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to convince the company to cancel its order of 100 new Airbus aircraft, this is viewed as a potentially damaging impending expense. easyJet also intends to reduce operating costs by renegotiating contracts with airports and ground handling, while also reassessing its marketing budget.

easyJet intends to recommence operations, albeit in a heavily reduced scale, on June 15, on domestic routes in France and the U.K., then opening up further routes based on demand.

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EFW delivers A330-300P2F converted freighter to DHL

EFW has delivered another A330-300P2F converted freighter to customer DHL. This will be the first High Gross Weight (HGW) converted A330-300 with a gross payload of more than 62 tons on the market. Two more 330-300P2Fs will be delivered to DHL in the course of this year with up to 12 additional A330s to follow for this integrator.

EFW is the center of excellence for Airbus freighter conversions, with more than 20 years of experience and over 200 widebody converted freighters delivered to over 40 customers worldwide. During the past months, the company has enjoyed increasing requests to convert A330, but also concerning A321 conversions. The A330 program started at EFW in 2017 with the delivery of the first express cargo-optimized A330-300P2F to DHL. The A330-200P2F conversion from passenger-to-freighter aircraft is the sister product and was certified in 2018. In February 2020, EFW received supplemental type certification for its A321P2F conversion from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

All-electric Cessna 208B Grand Caravan makes inaugural flight

magniX, the company powering the electric aviation revolution, and AeroTEC, an independent company focused on aerospace testing, engineering and certification, have announced the successful flight of an all-electric Cessna Grand Caravan 208B. The successful flight of the eCaravan, magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system, took place at the AeroTEC Flight Test Center at the Grant County International Airport (KMWH) in Moses Lake, Washington. As the world’s largest all-electric commercial aircraft, this is a significant milestone in disrupting the transportation industry and accelerating the electric aviation revolution.

“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports. These electric commercial aircraft will enable the offering of flying services of people and packages in a way previously not possible.”

“I’m proud of the pioneering work performed by our engineers, technicians and flight test team,” said Lee Human, President and CEO of AeroTEC. “There’s no roadmap for testing and certifying electric aircraft – this is a new frontier and AeroTEC is on the front lines developing the processes and best practices that will pave the way for electric aviation.”

The flying of the eCaravan serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.

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Air Canada announces pricing of Offering of Shares and Convertible Senior Notes

Air Canada has priced both its previously announced underwritten marketed public offering of 30,800,000 Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company at a price to the public of CA$16.25 per share, for aggregate gross proceeds of CA$500,500,000 and its concurrent marketed private placement of convertible senior unsecured notes due 2025 for aggregate gross proceeds of US$650,000,000.

The Convertible Notes will bear interest semi-annually in arrears at a rate of 4.000% per annum and will mature on July 1, 2025, unless earlier repurchased, redeemed or converted. The initial conversion rate of the Convertible Notes is 65.1337 Shares per US$1,000 principal amount of Convertible Notes, or an initial conversion price of approximately US$15.35 per Share. The Convertible Notes will be convertible into cash, Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company or a combination thereof, at the company's election.

The company has granted the underwriters of the Share Offering an option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Shares in the Share Offering, exercisable in whole or in part at any time until 30 days after closing of the Share Offering, and has granted the initial purchasers of the Convertible Notes Offering an option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Convertible Notes in the Convertible Notes Offering, exercisable in whole or in part at any time until 13 days after closing of the Convertible Notes Offering.

The company will use the net proceeds from the Offerings to supplement the company's working capital and other general corporate purposes. The net proceeds from the Offerings will serve to increase Air Canada's cash position, thereby allowing for additional flexibility both from an operational standpoint and in the implementation of its planned mitigation and recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (US$1.00 = CA$1.38 at time of publication.)

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Chinese domestic air travel breaks 50% barrier

ForwardKeys, the travel analytics company, has revealed that domestic air travel in China, which has been recovering slowly in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, has now reached more than 50% of what it was at the equivalent moment in 2019, based on issued air tickets.

In addition, analysis of flight ticketing data reveals a significant uptick in last minute domestic flight bookings in China between May 11, and May 21. During that period, the lead time between ticketing and travel shortened dramatically; 72% of flight tickets were issued within four days of the travel date, compared with 51% at the equivalent point in 2019. ForwardKeys believes that this phenomenon is significantly influenced by students returning to university, as the timing coincides with universities reopening – a milestone that is expected to stimulate Chinese consumers to travel more.

Looking back to the start of 2020, air travel surged in the first three weeks of January, thanks to Chinese New Year. However, the COVID-19 outbreak spoiled the party and by mid-February the aviation market in China had all but collapsed. In the last week of that month, the recovery began; and passenger traffic jumped 62.9% (all be it form a very low base), coinciding with a weak restart of the economy and an increase in seat capacity. Throughout March and April air travel continued to pick up slowly until it received a fillip from the Labour Day holiday at the start of May.

While all this sounds encouraging, it is likely that a stronger recovery is underway in the hospitality sector, with many people choosing to drive or take the high-speed train rather than fly. According to the Travel Willingness Survey conducted by China Tourism Academy and China’s online travel agency Ctrip, in March, 41% of travellers said that they would travel by car once the coronavirus outbreak had been contained, 29% would travel by train, 16% would take a coach trip and only
14% would fly. Furthermore, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has reported that 60% of vacationers travelled by car during the Labour Day holiday period. This hypothesis is further supported by reports of hotel occupancy now exceeding 60%.

The revival will certainly be welcomed by everyone in the tourism industry but it needs to be kept in perspective because at the moment the business is mostly local; and, typically, the shorter the distance people travel, the less they tend to spend.

SPL_04 (2020-01-17)

Drone Threat Management solution will be implemented at Bristol Airport following pilot project

telent, in collaboration with its technology partner Digital Global Systems (DGS), has agreed a three-year contract to install the CLEARKSYTM Drone Threat Management system at Bristol Airport, marking the first U.K. deployment of the system.

The CLEARKSYTM Drone Threat Management system was developed by DGS in response to the rising threat of unauthorized drone usage at critical infrastructure sites, including airports. Its implementation at Bristol Airport, an international transport hub and one of the ten busiest airports in the U.K., follows a successful three-month pilot project with Bristol Airport Authority, local police and other security agencies.

With the installation of this system, security staff and local police, will be able to accurately detect, identify and monitor unauthorized drone activity in and around the airport. Most importantly, the CLEARKSYTM system detects the location of both the drone and drone operator and tracks them within the flight restriction zone outside of the airport. This information can be shown on a control room screen or via a mobile application, provided by application development partner, Airpoint International. This eliminates the need for manpower-intensive searches over large areas and allows relevant authorities to quickly and efficiently respond to drone incidents.
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