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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

General Electric mourns death of former CEO “Neutron Jack” Welch

General Electric Co (GE) has announced that its former CEO, Jack Welch, has died at the age of 84. Welch was single handedly responsible for the transformation of a company best known for its production of light bulbs into the USA’s most valuable public company. In the 20-year period with Welch at the helm, GE went from a conglomerate with a market value of US$12 billion into a corporate giant with a US$410 billion value.

“Today is a sad day for the entire GE family,” said H. Lawrence Culp Jr., GE’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century. He reshaped the face of our company and the business world.”

Welsh’s nickname “Neutron Jack” came about through his unswerving drive to streamline businesses and to reduce workforce numbers. Welch was also renowned for his in-your-face style and determination to make every business GE acquired the best, or second-best in its field.

On 20 February 2020, AFG Aviation Ireland Limited completed the acquisition of one Airbus A320-214 bearing MSN 4865 from Vermillion Aviation (Nine) Limited - managed by AMCK Aviation Holdings Ireland Limited.

IATA requests global suspension of slot rules due to Coronavirus

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is contacting aviation regulators worldwide to request that the rules governing use of airport slots be suspended immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus).

Around 43% of all passengers depart from over 200 slot coordinated airports worldwide. At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season. In exceptional circumstances, regulators can relax this requirement.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on air traffic. Airlines are experiencing serious declines in demand, including experiencing a 26% reduction across their entire operation in comparison to last year. Carriers are reporting bookings to Italy are down 108% as bookings collapse to zero and refunds grow. Many carriers are reporting 50% no-shows across several markets and future bookings are softening. The airlines are reacting with measures such as crew being given unpaid leave, freezing of pay increases, and plans for aircraft to be grounded.

Given these extraordinary circumstances as a result of the public health emergency, the collective view of the airline industry is that the application of the 80% rule during the upcoming season is inappropriate. Flexibility is needed for airlines to adjust their schedules according to extraordinary demand developments.

Regulators have already been waiving the slot rules on a rolling basis during the COVID-19 crisis primarily for operations to China and Hong Kong SAR. However, given the recent further outbreaks this is no longer contained to the Asia markets. Without certainty that these waivers will continue for the summer season (or winter season in the Southern hemisphere), airlines are unable to plan ahead sufficiently to ensure efficient rostering of crew or deployment of aircraft.

Suspending the requirement for the entire season (to October 2020) will mean that airlines can respond to market conditions with appropriate capacity levels, avoiding any need to run empty services in order to maintain slots. Aircraft can be reallocated to other routes or parked, crew can have certainty on their schedules.


DC Aviation Group and Comlux sign cooperation agreement

DC Aviation Group and Comlux have signed a cooperation agreement. DC Aviation has been selected to perform the line maintenance and warranty work for Comlux customers based in Europe and CIS.

The line and base maintenance services for aircraft of the Airbus ACJ Family, Global Express 5.000/6.000, and Challenger 604/605 will be carried out at DC Aviation’s dedicated 5,700 m² Stuttgart Airport (EDDS) hangar, which also contains a large and well equipped parts inventory, a certified battery and tire shop, and a maintenance logistics center.

DC Aviation has been offering line and base maintenance services for various types of aircraft since 1999 and is able to carry out exceptionally complex work with the highest level of reliability and competence. Due to 24/365 availability, combined with intelligent planning and smooth workflows, DC Aviation is able to meet challenging ground-times.

Air New Zealand reports interim profit of AU$198 million

Air New Zealand has reported earnings before other significant items and taxation of AU$198 million for the six-month period ended December 31, 2019, compared to AU$217 million in the prior period, reflecting the slower demand growth environment, weakness in the global cargo market and the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. Earnings before taxation were AU$139 million and net profit after taxation was AU$101 million.

Operating revenue growth of 3 percent was driven by solid demand across the airline's Domestic and Pacific Islands networks, as well as recently launched services into Asia and North America. This helped to mitigate weaker cargo demand, increased competition on the Tasman and the impact of disruptions in Hong Kong.

Operating costs increased 3.5 percent in the period, impacted by significant price increases in
domestic air navigation and landing charges, as well as a weaker New Zealand dollar. Maintenance costs for third party contracts also increased, however this was more than offset by the related revenues. Fuel costs increased 1.1 percent, as an improvement in the underlying fuel price was offset by foreign exchange and fuel volumes resulting from growth in the International network.


Airbus’ increased maximum take-off weight A330neo variant to be certified by mid-2020

More range and even better economics: these are the key attributes of Airbus’ increased maximum take-off weight A330neo variant, which flew for the first time on February 28.

Benefitting from a maximum take-off weight increase to 251 tonnes, the A330neo offers a significant 650-nautical mile boost in range – or six tonnes more payload – when compared to the A330neo’s current 242-tonne version. This increase in range responds to evolving market needs, enabling airlines to benefit from the unique economics of the A330neo on even longer routes.

Taking to the skies for the first time from Toulouse, France, was the 251-tonne A330-900 – which provides the perfect fit for longer trans-Pacific or Asia-Europe routes. The A330-900 is the longer-fuselage A330neo version, seating 260-300 passengers in a typical three-class cabin configuration.

The shorter-fuselage A330-800 – which accommodates 220-260 passengers in a three-class configuration, will open up very-long-range Pacific routes for the 251-tonne version, while delivering the lowest seat-mile cost in its category.

The increased take-off weight A330-900 is expected to be certified by airworthiness authorities mid-2020, followed in 2021 by the A330-800 variant.


Wizz Air to establish new low-cost airline in Abu Dhabi

European airline Wizz Air, has concluded the definitive agreement with its partner Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADDH), to jointly establish Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. The low-cost airline is set to launch its operations at Abu Dhabi International Airport in Fall 2020.

The agreement is a major milestone in the launch of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, a new Emirati low-cost airline based in the UAE's capital. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi plans to start operations in the second half of the year, bringing low fares paired with a high-quality on-board experience to a range of destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

With Wizz Air Abu Dhabi's recruitment activities set to commence in the coming months, the agreement will create new job opportunities, boost the economy and attract more visitors to Abu Dhabi. The announcement is also in line with Abu Dhabi's AED 50bn accelerator programme Ghadan 21, which is driving the emirate's development through investing in business, innovation and people.

Following the agreement, the airline development team has already initiated the process with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority to obtain the carrier's Air Operator Certificate and Operating License.

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Stevens Aerospace awarded Mexican AFAC approval for Macon, GA. facility

Stevens Aerospace and Defense Systems has been awarded full Mexican Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil (AFAC) approval for the company’s facility in Macon, Ga. (KMCN). This authorization allows Stevens to fully work and return to service Mexican-registered aircraft.

The approval provides owner-operators of Mexican-registered aircraft from turbo props to large cabin business jets an additional high-quality option in the U.S. for maintenance, avionics modifications and interior refurbishments. Stevens’ Macon team specializes in Gulfstream and Global aircraft, but has considerable expertise and authority on Challenger, Citation, Embraer, Hawker, King Air, Learjet and other airframes.

Stevens’ Greenville, S.C. operation (KGYH) has been Mexican-certified for years and the company’s Nashville facility (KBNA) is currently in-process and expecting authorization later this year.

DAE recommences bond repurchase program

Dubai Aerospace has recommenced its bond repurchase program. Since the inception of the program in mid-2018, DAE has repurchased approximately US$485 million of principal amount of bonds and has remaining authorisation to repurchase a further approximately US$115 million.

DAE Chief Executive Officer Firoz Tarapore said: “The current trading levels of our bonds are not consistent with the balance sheet strength, credit ratings and the liquidity position of the Company. We currently have five tranches of debt outstanding, and while the longer-dated maturity bonds are the most undervalued, we intend to repurchase available securities in each tranche at the appropriate price levels.”

DAE currently has approximately US$2.8 billion of publicly traded bonds outstanding in the US capital markets.


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

Technical Aspects of a Leased Asset 2020
April 21, 2020 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Maintenance Reserves Seminar 2020
April 22, 2020 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Tamar Jorssen
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