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Monday, June 29th, 2020

After fatal May 22 crash, Pakistan grounds 262 pilots on suspicion of license fraud

With initial investigations into the cause of crash involving a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 near Karachi on May 22 which killed 97 of the 99 passengers and crew on board, and one civilian on the ground, primarily being put down to pilot error,  Pakistan’s Aviation minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced on June 26 that 262 pilots have had their licenses suspended under suspicion that they may not have personally taken the compulsory written exams.

In 2012 Pakistan introduced its current examination system to meet international standards, written papers which still had to be taken by already qualified pilots. With the fear of failing these exams, a number of pilots are believed to have had someone else sit some, or all eight of these exams on their behalf. There has been an ongoing investigation, which began in 2018, into collusion between pilots and civil aviation authorities. It is believed that certain pilots had resorted to illegal means, bribing someone at the civil aviation body or using political influence to have someone to sit their papers, according to officials.

The 2018 enquiry began as a result of a crash that year after which it was discovered that the pilot’s test date provided on their license was actually a national holiday and therefore it was unlikely the test could have been taken that day. In early 2019, 16 PIA pilots had their licenses suspended as a result of early investigations.  According to Khan, the 262 pilots grounded on June 26 pending conclusion of inquiries against them included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline, and 17 from Shaheen Airlines, adding that they included 109 commercial and 153 airline transport pilots.

It is believed that Vietnam has grounded 27 Pakistani pilots until their licenses have been reviewed, while Kuwait Airlines has suspended seven pilots and 56 engineers and ground handling staff.

United resuming service between San Francisco and Shanghai

United Airlines will resume service to China with twice-weekly flights between San Francisco and Shanghai's Pudong International Airport via Seoul's Incheon International Airport beginning July 8, 2020.

United will operate service with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from San Francisco to Shanghai on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Customers traveling from Shanghai will return to San Francisco on Thursdays and Sundays.

Prior to suspending service to Shanghai in February due to COVID-19, United operated five daily flights between Shanghai and its hubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York/Newark and has served Shanghai for more than 30 years. In July, across the Pacific, United will also reinstate service between Chicago and Tokyo with the addition of new service to Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

Additionally, United will resume service to Seoul; restart service to Hong Kong and will fly to Singapore via a stop at Hong Kong.


Brussels Airlines reaches agreement with social partners on structural measures

Brussels Airlines has reached an agreement between the Brussels Airlines management and its social partners, representing the more than 4,000 employees of the company’s different departments: Cockpit crew, Cabin crew, Maintenance & Engineering, Ground Operations and Support Functions.

As announced in May, Brussels Airlines needs to take substantial measures in order to create a long-term future for the company. The carrier needs to structurally reduce its costs to a competitive level. On June 26, the Management and the Worker’s Council of Brussels Airlines came to an agreement that allows to tackle the company’s immediate and future needs.

The agreement safeguards 75% of the jobs, evenly spread across departments. The priority of both the management and the unions was to look at all possible options to avoid forced dismissals as much as possible. Thanks to alternative options, which include early retirement, part-time working, time credit, voluntary departure and unpaid leave, the number of forced dismissals can be limited to a minimum.

For the employees who leave the company, Brussels Airlines offers outplacement during 12 months to help them with their career transition, in cooperation with Travvant.

While the turnaround plan is indispensable to overcome the crisis and become structurally competitive, the ongoing discussions to secure the financing of the company remain essential. The Belgian home carrier hopes for a positive outcome of the ongoing talks on the financial support that is needed to overcome the consequences of this unprecedented crisis and to restructure the company.

HiSky Moldova signs lease agreeement for second Airbus aircraft with ALC

Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has signed a long-term lease agreement for one used Airbus A319-131 aircraft with HiSky Moldova. Scheduled to deliver this September, this aircraft will be the second aircraft in the fleet of the Moldovan startup airline.

“ALC is pleased to announce this second lease placement with HiSky Moldova,” said David Beker, Vice President and Head of Aircraft Sales and Trading of Air Lease Corporation. “We have been impressed with the business plan underpinning this new clean-sheet airline in Moldova and are honored to provide the first A319 and A320 aircraft to HiSky Moldova so that they can launch their airline later this summer. We look forward to growing and expanding our relationship over the coming years.”


Thorsten Dirks to leave Lufthansa

Thorsten Dirks will withdraw from the company's Executive Board on the occasion of the successful conclusion of the governmental stabilization measure. He was most recently responsible for the areas Digitalization and Finance. Thorsten Dirks was appointed to the Executive Board in May 2017.

The Executive Board division “Digitalization and Finance” will temporarily be assigned to the area of responsibility of CEO Carsten Spohr.

REX Board approves plans for domestic operations

Following the announcement to the ASX on May 13, 2020 of the Regional Express Group’s intentions to explore the feasibility of commencing domestic operations in Australia, Regional Express (Rex) has been engaged in confidential exploratory discussions with various parties to assess the availability of funding for starting up domestic operations.

The Rex Board has now formed the view that Rex could successfully embark on domestic operations. Consequently, the Board has approved an initiative to raise a minimum of AUD$30 million, which the Board now believes will be all that is needed for the launch of limited domestic operations, through one or more of the following avenues: sale-and-leaseback arrangement, equity injection and convertible notes.

Discussions with interested parties including lessors and private equity funds have not been finalised and the Board will reconvene within three weeks to decide on the structure of the fund raising and the maximum amount that will be raised. Where necessary, the Board will seek shareholder approval for the fund raising.

Due to the strong interest shown by various external parties to participate in the fund raising, including lessors willing to provide AUD$30 million for 15 of Rex’s fleet of 60 unencumbered Saab 340 aircraft, the Board has now formed the view that funding will be forthcoming for the minimum target sought. Consequently the Board has authorised management to commence preparations in earnest for the operation of an initial fleet of five to ten narrowbody jet aircraft to be based out of Sydney and/or Melbourne to service the golden triangle (Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane). The Board has confirmed March 1, 2021 as the targeted start date for domestic operations, subject to fund availability and regulatory approval.

Rex has also confirmed the execution of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with turboprop aircraft manufacturer ATR (Avions De Transport Regional), for a range of potential commercial co-operation that would complement Rex’s domestic operations.

AKL_07 Leandro

Morocco orders 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters

Morocco is the 17th country to acquire the Boeing AH-64 Apache through a contract for 24 of the helicopters that was recently signed.

Boeing has delivered nearly 2,500 Apache helicopters to 16 nations to date, including the U.S., Netherlands, Greece, United Kingdom, Japan, India, Singapore, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Deliveries to Morocco are expected to begin in 2024.

The AH-64E Apache is the latest configuration of the attack helicopter. It is designed and equipped with an open systems architecture including the latest communications, navigation, sensor and weapon systems. It has an improved Modernized Target Acquisition Designation System that provides day, night and all-weather target information, as well as night vision navigation capability. In addition to classifying ground and air targets, the Fire Control Radar has been updated to operate in a maritime environment.

Boeing will build and deliver the new Moroccan Apaches under a contract with the U.S. Army through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales process.

JetHQ expands to support Latin American growth

JetHQ continues its global aircraft expansion, adding an experienced aviation professional to meet the needs of clients in Mexico and Latin America. The aircraft transaction and brokerage company has announced that Gabriela Perez de Leon has joined the team as Sales Director, based in and overseeing Mexico. She will work with Vice President of Sales Chris Morales, who currently covers Latin America.

Perez de Leon has worked in aviation for 20 years, the last 15 of which
as the principal of Mondo Aereo, an executive aviation services company located
in Toluca, Mexico.

Bombardier Global 5500 makes entry-into-service

Bombardier has announced the entry-into-service of the innovative, long-range Global 5500 business jet, which was recently delivered to an undisclosed customer.

Last year, Bombardier announced that the Global 5500 aircraft can fly 200 nautical miles more than planned, and now has a range of 5,900 nautical miles.

“This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool, with the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be,” said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Aviation. “The first Global 5500 aircraft delivery is of particular significance for our employees in Wichita, who recently took on the meticulous work of interior completions for the Global 5000 and Global 5500 aircraft.”


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