Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak forces Airbus to close China completion center

Airbus has announced that it has closed its completion center for the single-aisle A320 and larger A330 aircraft. The facility is located at Tianjin, 150 km from Beijing. "China domestic and worldwide travel restrictions are posing some logistical challenges. The Tianjin Final Assembly Line facility is currently closed," the European planemaker said in a statement, adding: “Airbus is constantly evaluating the situation and monitoring any potential knock-on effects to production and deliveries and will try to mitigate via alternative plans where necessary.”

The French aerospace manufacturer Safran has also decided to close over 20 operations throughout China, which will directly affect approximately 2,500 members of staff. While Airbus has given no indication when it will resume operations in China, Safran has indicate a shutdown of its services until February 10.

According to the BBC news network, On Tuesday alone, nearly 4,000 new cases were confirmed in China. The death toll has now risen to 490, an increase of 65 deaths in mainland China in one day, the latest figures from the country's National Health Commission (NHC) said.

The WHO has declared a global health emergency over the outbreak but said it did not yet constitute a "pandemic", or the worldwide spread of a new disease.


ATP Flight School partners with United Airlines

ATP Flight School and United Airlines have partnered to provide aspiring airline pilots with outstanding training and a direct route to a United flight deck. United and ATP’s Aviate partnership is an innovative career development program that combines ATP's accelerated fixed-cost pilot training with defined milestones to advance pilots toward a rewarding career with United.

Students in ATP's Airline Career Pilot Program earn pilot certification in just nine months and can apply to United Aviate early during their training. After graduating, participants in Aviate take advantage of ATP's guaranteed flight instructor job, allowing them to build flight experience and progress toward United. Once meeting the flight hour requirements, pilots first fly for a United Express carrier. Then, after satisfying Aviate program requirements, they are eligible to transition to United Airlines as a First Officer without any additional interviewing required.

Magnetic MRO acquires four airBaltic Boeing 737s

Magnetic MRO, a Total Technical Care and asset management organization, acquired through a public tender four Boeing 737 Classic aircraft from airBaltic. Following the delivery from Latvia’s flag carrier, all aircraft will continue its service in the fleets of new owners.

Being the launch operator of Airbus A220 aircraft, airBaltic operates a fleet of 36 aircraft, including twenty-one Airbus A220, twelve Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 NextGen, and four Boeing 737 CL, as of December 2019.

The decision to sell the Boeing 737 CL aircraft was a pre-planned move by airBaltic in order to focus on its new Airbus 220 fleet which delivers higher fuel efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint.


Vallair's prototype A321P2F takes off

Aircraft and asset specialist, Vallair, has seen its prototype A321P2F (MSN835) aircraft take off in Singapore. The inaugural flight forms part of the certification process to reach conversion approval status.

Vallair has placed this first A321P2F (Passenger to Freighter) aircraft conversion with Qantas, the first airline to operate the A321 as a freighter aircraft. The A321P2F will add nearly 50% more capacity compared to the existing fleet and is due to be delivered in July 2020.

Gregoire Lebigot, President & CEO at Vallair, foresees a growing demand. “The A321P2F will be the first aircraft to introduce a containerised lower deck to the market segment of narrowbody freighters; a significant game-changer for any hub and spoke operation. We see a huge potential for this aircraft as a key tool for the cargo industry to achieve the projected growth rate of the air freight market in general, particularly express services and e-commerce. Additionally, the substantial fuel efficiency advantages are well-suited to 1-4 hour flight legs."

The aircraft development was co-ordinated by freighter design and conversion house EFW (Elbe Flugzeugwerke), a joint venture between ST Aerospace and Airbus. The project has taken close to two years to transition from prototype to in-service aircraft.

Panasonic Avionics signs A330-800neo IFE deal with Kuwait Airways

Panasonic Avionics (Panasonic) will be providing inflight entertainment (IFE) for Kuwait Airways’ new fleet of eight Airbus A330-800neo aircraft.

Kuwait Airways will become the first airline to operate the A330-800neo aircraft, starting in the second quarter of 2020 when it joins the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus A320 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are already equipped with Panasonic’s X series IFE experience.

With Panasonic’s full HD touch screens, touch video handsets, electronic device charging facilities, both universal and USB charging and more, together with comfortable seats and space, both Business and Economy class passengers will have a pleasant experience onboard Kuwait Airways.


IATA: 2019 worst year for air freight demand since 2009

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has released full-year 2019 data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), fell by 3.3% compared to 2018 while capacity (AFTK) rose by 2.1%. This was the first year of declining freight volumes since 2012, and the weakest performance since the global financial crisis in 2009 (when air freight markets contracted by 9.7%).

In the month of December, cargo volumes contracted 2.7% year-on-year while capacity rose 2.8%.

Air cargo’s performance in 2019 was dampened by weak growth in global trade of just 0.9%. The sector’s under-performance was also due in particular to slowing GDP growth in manufacturing-intensive economies. Softer business and consumer confidence, along with falling export orders, also contributed to air freight struggles.

There are signs that confidence and orders could pick up in 2020. It is too early to say what long-term effects will be seen from the impact of restrictions associated with combatting the coronavirus outbreak.

All markets except Africa suffered volume declines in 2019. Asia-Pacific retained the largest share of FTKs, at 34.6%. The share of freight traffic increased modestly for both North America and Europe, to 24.2% and 23.7%, respectively. Middle East carriers’ traffic share held steady at 13%. Africa and Latin America saw their shares lift marginally, to 1.8% and 2.8%.


AeroCentury reports portfolio updates

AeroCentury , an independent aircraft leasing company, has announced three recent sales of turboprop aircraft.

In December 2019, the company sold a Dash 8-300 (MSN 236) that had been on lease to Widerøe’s Flyveselskap in Norway for 15 years. Widerøe is the largest regional operator serving the Nordic region, utilizing over 40 Dash 8 aircraft.

In January 2020, the AeroCentury sold a Saab 340BPlus aircraft (MSN 454) that was delivered to Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos S.A. (TAG Airlines) in Guatemala, which the airline will use to expand its Saab fleet serving the local region.

Also, in January 2020, the company sold a Fokker 50 aircraft (MSN 20202) to its lessee, Skyward Express Limited, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Skyward is a longtime Fokker 50 operator, serving both scheduled and chartered passenger operations.

The recently sold Saab and Fokker aircraft were the last of their respective types in the company’s portfolio.

Karlheinz Weimar to retire from Fraport supervisory board

Karlheinz Weimar, Fraport AG’s chairman of the supervisory board, will retire from his position as chairman and board member at the end of the company’s next Annual General Meeting on May 26, 2020.

The former finance minister of the State of Hesse cited his 70th birthday, which he celebrated on January 30, as the reason for retiring from his corporate duties.

Karlheinz Weimar assumed the chairmanship of the Fraport supervisory board in 2003. He has since served as one of the three board representatives delegated by the State of Hesse – which is Fraport AG’s largest shareholder, with a stake of more than 31%.


StandardAero completes 3,000th GE CF34 engine MRO workscope

StandardAero has completed its 3,000th workscope on the GE Aviation CF34 turbofan engine, which is widely used on regional jet airliners around the world. StandardAero was first appointed as a GE Aviation Authorized Service Provider (ASP) for the CF34-3 and CF34-8 in 2001.

The milestone 3,000th engine workscope shipped was a CF34-8C5B1 powering a CRJ700 regional jet operated by SkyWest Airlines. SkyWest, headquartered in St. George, Utah, is a longstanding customer of StandardAero, which has been supporting the airline’s CF34-3 and -8 engine fleet since 2004.


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MRO Latin America
January 22 - 23, 2020 – Cartagena, Columbia

Manufacturing World
February 26 - 18, 2020 – Makuhari Messe, Chiba-city, Japan

Operating Lease & Aviation Finance Seminar
March 24 - 26, 2020 - London, UK