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Friday, August 28th, 2020

EASA to begin flight tests on September 7 for the updated Boeing 737 MAX

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has announced that it is to begin flight tests on the updated Boeing 737 MAX in Vancouver, Canada, on September 7.

The move comes two months after both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had completed certification flight tests. According to the EASA, “While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests.” The European agency has worked closely with Boeing and the FAA, but progress in getting the troubled aircraft back in the sky has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic which has hampered travel between the U.S. and Europe.

In the meantime, Pilots from both Boeing and Canada’s transportation watchdog, Transport Canada, began flight tests on the 737 MAX this Wednesday. Once flight tests are complete, Canadian, European, and Brazilian regulators, operating under the banner of the Joint Evaluation Board, will carry out simulator exercises to assess any proposed changes to pilot training. If all goes well and no further glitches either in the plane’s structure or upgraded software are found, the FAA will subsequently issue an order which will rescind the grounding of the jet.

With deliveries unlikely to recommence before the beginning of the fourth quarter, there is a possibility that the 737 MAX will not be back in commercial service before 2021.


Norwegian reports first-half net loss of NOK 5.3 billion

Norwegian has reported its results for the first half year of 2020. The figures are as expected heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a net loss of NOK 5.3 billion. During the first half of 2020, 5.31 million customers travelled with the company; a decrease of 71% compared to the same period last year. Norwegian successfully converted debt, gained access to state guaranteed loans of NOK 3 billion and conducted a public offering, in addition to implementing a series of cost-reduction measures. Still, Norwegian is facing challenging times ahead.

Before COVID-19, Norwegian had guided the market of a profitable 2020 and the best summer ever. Strict government travel advice and the following drop in customer demand forced Norwegian to ground 140 aircraft and furlough or lay off approximately 8,000 employees. In the second quarter, Norwegian only operated 7-8 aircraft on domestic routes in Norway. Following a successful restructuring process, the company gained access to the Norwegian government’s loan guarantee of NOK 3 billion and an additional NOK 0.3 billion from commercial banks.

During the first six months of 2020, 5.3 million customers travelled with Norwegian, compared to 18.1 million during the same period previous year. Production (ASK) was down by 69% and passenger traffic (RPK) decreased by 72%. The load factor was 78.2%, a decrease of 6.5 percentage points compared to the first half of 2019. Both load factor and production are adjusted according to the government mandatory blocking of middle seats on domestic routes in Norway in the second quarter of 2020.


SIA Engineering Company acquires remaining shares in HMSS

SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) has entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining 35% issued and paid-up share capital of HMSS, representing 9,625,000 ordinary shares in the capital of HMSS from Airbus Services Asia Pacific (ASAP), a Singapore incorporated wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus SAS.

HMSS was incorporated in Singapore in October 2016 to provide airframe maintenance, cabin upgrade and modification services for the Airbus A380 and A350 aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. HMSS has an issued and fully paid-up share capital of US$27,500,000.00 consisting of
27,500,000 ordinary shares. Prior to the Transaction, HMSS was owned 65% by SIAEC and 35% by ASAP.

Completion of the transaction has taken place on August 27, 2020, and HMSS is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of SIAEC.


GA Telesis signs global tooling distribution agreement with Shockform Aeronautique

GA Telesis has signed an agreement with Quebec-based Shockform Aeronautique to become a worldwide distributor of its extensive product line of manual peening process equipment.

This partnership immediately expands the offerings of GA Telesis’ Tarmac Solutions Group to supply specialized tooling and Ground Support Equipment (GSE) for airline operators, MROs, corporate and government aircraft. GA Telesis' global customer network was a key attribute in its selection to distribute these products.

Domodedovo Airport served 1.7 million passengers in July

Moscow Domodedovo Airport has welcomed 1.7 million passengers in July 2020, a 137% month-on-month rise.

Simferopol, Sochi, Saint Petersburg, Anapa and Kaliningrad were the most popular destinations. The airport served 716 thousand travelers on these routes, a 21% year-over-year increase.

In July, the airlines added flights to domestic destinations from Domodedovo. S7 Airlines launched flights to Makhachkala, Red Wings started flying to Grozny five times a week. Ural Airlines flies to Vladikavkaz and Gorno-Altaysk seven-, and four-times a week respectively.


Air New Zealand predicts additional 2021 loss after posting first loss in 18 years

After posting its first loss in nearly 20 years, Air New Zealand plans to draw down on a government-backed NZ$900 million loan to help the carrier deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the loan will come at a cost, with an interest rate of between seven and nine percent, while the government will retain the right for repayment after six months or conversion of the loan into an equity stake. “It was always intended as a short-term funding arrangement,” Chief Financial Officer Jeff McDowall told Reuters news agency in an interview. “It is not cheap because it is short term.”

With security for the loan provided in the form of aircraft, this will hog-tie Air New Zealand when it comes to options for commercial funding until the government loan is repaid. The antipodean carrier anticipates a further loss this fiscal year after reported an underlying pre-tax loss of NZ$87 million in the 12 months ended June 30, compared with a NZ$387 million profit for the previous year. Stronger-than-expected domestic demand and increased cargo flying has managed to help beat a NZ$120 million loss that had been forecast back in June. However, the bottom-line figure blew out to a NZ$454 million loss, driven by aircraft impairments and restructuring charges.

Air New Zealand has cut around 30% of its workforce and grounded most of its long-haul fleet in order to reduce cash burn amid international travel restrictions. The domestic market recovered to 70% of normal levels in July when New Zealand managed to eliminate local transmission of the coronavirus. (US$1.00 = NZ$1.51 at time of publication.)


Jet Maintenance Solutions is seeing strong recovery in business aviation

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, aviation’s future seemed bleak. While airlines are still not operating at full capacity, European business aviation companies saw a strong rebound in the month of July 2020.

In the statistical data released by EBAA, some European airports have reported an increase in departures of business jet aircraft. Palma de Mallorca, Spain, airport has seen a 17% increase in private aviation airplanes departing the airport compared to July 2019. With positive recovery signs, the business aviation industry is becoming a popular choice among people looking for a way to travel in comfort while minimizing the number of contact points experienced during regular passenger flight procedures.

Additionally, the data shows that more than 8 countries recorded flight flows that surpassed the 1,000 flights per month figure during the month of July. The main countries leading business aviation’s recovery include United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. With more than 2,000 monthly flights between the aforementioned states, business aviation is regaining its previous market share with hopes of reaching pre-COVID levels by the end of the year.

“With strong signs of rebound around the globe in different operating environments, business aviation companies will most probably see a quicker recovery than commercial aviation. To support rising demand and the need for maintenance, our company is keeping the shops working at full capacity, offering our clients maintenance, repair and overhaul solutions, mandatory upgrades such as ADS-B installation services as well as service bulletins, which improve the safety and comfort of the flights. We are ready to support our business partners at any time 24/7”, comments Vytis Zalimas, CEO at Jet Maintenance Solutions.

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