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Monday, May 4th, 2020

BA warns it may pull out of Gatwick for good – 25% of its pilots’ jobs at stake

British Airways, the U.K flag. carrying airline and part of IAG, has written to its staff at its Gatwick, London hub advising them that having shut down all operations at the beginning of April this year owing to the impact of the COVID-19 , it may choose not to reopen there.

The letter was sent out the day after IAG had announced plans to reduce the carrier’s current workforce of 42,000 by approaching 30%. Gatwick represents approximately 20% of BA’s operations, while the carrier also operated out of London City Airport until all flights from there were suspended, a week earlier than Gatwick operations.

A separate memo was sent out by BA to all its pilots warning that it intends to reduce their number, currently approximately 4,300, by 25% and confirming that as opposed to delivering any enhanced voluntary redundancy program which would be too costly, it would only meet the minimum statutory obligations. In the memo, Al Bridger, BA’s director of flight operations, wrote: “We are now at a critical juncture and must table proposals for structural change so that our business is in a credible position to respond to what will be a challenging and uncertain trading environment for a sustained period of time.”

The next area for consideration with regard to flights to and from London will be the proposed third runway at Heathrow airport. With BA believing that it will be “several years” before there was even a return to 2019 passenger levels, it is likely that any plans for the creation of a third runway will, at least, be postponed for several years as well.


UAS Holdings completes acquisition of TAG Aero and Unique Airmotive Services, companies to merge

TAG Aero and Unique Airmotive Services have completed a dual acquisition and merge facilitated by Mill Hill Capital. UAS Holdings Company has been formed as the parent company and migrates both facilities under one brand, TAG Aero. The combined companies will bring together a leading APU repair station with capabilities reaching 20,000 aircrafts worldwide.

Unique Airmotive Services, located in South Carolina, has specialized in the repair and overhaul
of APUs since 2011 and has in-house capabilities for the GTCP331-200ER, GTCP331-250H, GTCP36-150 Series, GTCP85 Series and the APS2000.

TAG Aero, founded in 2012 and based in Florida, specializes in the purchase, sale, and lease of all APU models for commercial and regional aircrafts. In 2018, TAG Aero acquired FAA/EASA 145 repair station certification for the repair and overhaul of the GTCP131-9A and GTCP131-9B APU.

Managing partners, Myles Thomas and Roger Brochu, seek to acquire additional capabilities and build comprehensive programs to advance industry growth. The alliance of TAG Aero and Unique Airmotive Services is a collaboration between two industry leaders within the APU sector. Both Thomas and Brochu have significant experience and recognition in MRO, aftermarket sales and the leasing of APU. They will now join forces to create a new and unique path for the APU industry.

CFM logs more than 2,100 engine orders in 2019

CFM International has received orders and commitments for a total of 2,148 engines in 2019 at a value of more than US$30.7 billion at list price, including 180 CFM56 engines (commercial, military and spares) and 1,968 LEAP engines (including spares).

Since the first LEAP engine orders in 2011, CFM has garnered more than 19,010 total installed and spare engine orders and commitments through December 2019 at a value of more than US$275 billion at list price. The company also signed long-term Rate Per Flight Hour (RPFH) agreements with airlines to support their LEAP engine fleet operations.

The company delivered 1,736 LEAP installed and spare engines in 2019 compared to 1,118 engines in 2018, along with 391 CFM56 engines.


Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completes first flight from Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC) have announced the successful completion of its first SpaceShipTwo test flight from Spaceport America. This glide flight marks the inaugural solo
flight of VSS Unity in New Mexico and as such is an important flight test
milestone in preparation for commercial service.

On SpaceShipTwo’s flight deck were Dave Mackay and CJ Sturckow who, together with the team in Mission Control, executed some of the key elements of a spaceflight profile. These included take-off and landing along with high-altitude release from the mothership, VMS Eve, which was piloted by Michael Masucci and Kelly Latimer.

The flight took off from the Spaceport America runway, with VSS Unity attached to the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. The vehicles climbed to an altitude of 50,000ft before Unity was released, at which point VSS Unity flew freely for the first time in New Mexico airspace. The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.70 and completed multiple test-points, before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

This test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19. Its successful execution was made possible by a concerted effort to redesign all
the operational elements required for safe flight test while meeting new health and wellness protocols. These protocols include changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing as advised by state guidelines as well as universal mask usage.


North American Aerospace Industries names Janos Virag Director of Innovation

North American Aerospace Industries Corporation (NAAI), a provider of sustainable end-to-end aircraft recycling solutions, has appointed Janos Virag as Director of Innovation.

In this role, Virag will have a wide range of responsibilities including the development of new recycling processes for advanced materials such as carbon fiber, researching reuse possibilities and recycling rate increases. In addition, he will design technical work processes, determine schedules for various aircraft arrivals, and coordinate training programs through Lenoir Community College and other entities. He brings to his new position extensive experience as a manufacturing training professional across aviation and other transportation modes.

Pior to joining NAAI, Virag served in multiple roles as Aviation Manufacturing Instructor and Manager of Fabrication – Airbus 350XWB with Lenoir Community College/Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (Kinston, NC).

Peach Aviation selects FLYdocs as digital aircraft records provider

Peach Aviation, the Japanese low-cost carrier (LCC) which is part of the ANA Group, has invested further into its digital transformation by selecting FLYdocs to automate and digitise its aircraft records.

The five-year contract will see FLYdocs digitally manage Peach’s A320 aircraft, helping them adopt a fully paperless approach to their records management. The FLYdocs® platform has enhanced M&E systems integrations to seamlessly deliver full digital aircraft compliance on-demand. 


WestJet secures 1,000 pilot jobs through ALPA agreements

WestJet has reached an agreement with the Airline Pilot Association (ALPA), to save more than 1,000 pilot jobs at WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The airline had previously confirmed that 1,700 pilots across WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop had received layoff notifications, effective either May 1 or June 1, 2020.

“I’m pleased that ALPA and WestJet, through robust negotiations and collaboration have come together to minimize the impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic on our pilot groups,” said Jeff Martin, WestJet Executive Vice-President, and Chief Operating Officer. “We thank ALPA for the joint effort in working with us to assist our airline in remaining flexible and competitive. Our pilots will be a critical element of our recovery and retaining these important roles leaves us better positioned to recover strongly and return WestJet to a global airline.”

The agreement allows the WestJet Group of Companies to retain pilots across the three groups, through the amendment of terms to the current agreements. WestJet continues to work collaboratively with its employee and labour groups as well as all levels of government to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 crisis to the airline and its employees.

WestJet is utilizing the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to assist in navigating this pandemic while work is not available due to the downturn in demand for air travel. Where it is of benefit to the employee, WestJet will use CEWS to keep the inactive employee on the payroll to ensure they remain connected to the company.


Spirit AeroSystems to lay off 1,400 employees at Wichita site

Spirit AeroSystems will reduce employment at sites supporting commercial programs a result of lower demand for commercial airplanes. Spirit is a supplier to Airbus and Boeing, both of which announced lower production rates for commercial aircraft due to the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry.

As part of the overall employment reductions, Spirit offered a voluntary layoff to union represented employees in Wichita, Kan. earlier this week. Spirit has issued a notice to the State of Kansas under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of layoffs affecting approximately 1,450 hourly and salaried employees at its site in Wichita. Spirit's Wichita employees affected by these layoffs are expected to begin exiting the company May 15.

Later this month, smaller reductions will occur at Spirit's remaining U.S. sites that perform commercial work. Spirit's global sites are reviewing workforce requirements and will announce their plans in the coming weeks.

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Tamar Jorssen
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