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Monday, March 15th, 2021

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Virgin Atlantic to raise additional £160 million to further combat air travel crisis

Having received backing for a £1.2 billion rescue deal back in August 2020 which Virgin Atlantic claimed would secure its future for approximately 18 months, the struggling carrier has announced it is raising a further £160 million in new financing to help combat the effects of the global pandemic on demand for flights.

It is understood that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will provide about £100 million and the remaining £60 million would include deferrals. “We continue to bolster our balance sheet in anticipation of the lifting of international travel restrictions during the second quarter of 2021”, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said, adding: “This latest £160 million financing provides further resilience against a slower revenue recovery in 2021.”

This latest fundraising exercise follows on from the sale and leaseback of a pair of Boeing 787s in January in a £165 million deal with Griffin Global Asset management to shore up the carrier’s balance sheet. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the travel industry Virgin Atlantic shed 4,650 jobs and reduced costs by £335 million last year. The £1.2 billion rescue package announced in July 2020 involved only private funds with no government backing involved.

Virgin Group provided £200 million, the Davidson Kempner hedge fund loaned Virgin Atlantic £170 million, and both Delta Air Lines, a 49% stakeholder in the carrier, and Virgin Group, agreed to defer £400 million in fees. Creditors also agreed to defer £450 million in payments. Aircraft deliveries over the next five years were amended, while all operations at Gatwick airport were closed down, accounting for over 3,000 of 2020’s job losses. (£1.00 = US$1.39 at time of publication.)

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First CFM-powered Airbus A321P2F aircraft delivered to Titan Airways

Titan Airways has taken delivery of its first Passenger-to-Freighter converted aircraft, a CFM56-5B-powered Airbus A321P2F. This delivery is the first of three Airbus A321 converted passenger-to-freighter aircraft on order.

The U.K. airline is among the first carriers to operate the converted aircraft since the plane’s initial production in 2020. The aircraft is leased to Titan Airways by an investment vehicle managed by affiliates of BBAM Limited Partnership (BBAM), which oversaw the aircraft conversion, together with Airbus affiliated partners.

The Airbus A321 Passenger-to-Freight conversion program was launched by ST Engineering and Airbus through their joint-venture Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) in 2015. Modifying an A321 from passenger to the P2F version involves integrating a large main deck cargo door in the forward fuselage, plugging the passenger windows and deactivating most passenger doors. It’s also more fuel efficient, resulting in lower emissions.

Boeing receives order for 24 737 MAX aircraft from investment firm 777 Partners

Boeing and private investment firm 777 Partners announced an agreement to add 24 737-8 aircraft to the firm’s diverse aviation portfolio, with purchase rights for an additional 60 airplanes. The Miami-based company will place the single-aisle airplanes with its growing portfolio of low-cost carrier investments around the world.

In addition to aircraft leasing, 777 Partners strategically invests in a host of aviation businesses, from operating carriers to technology-driven solutions. The firm’s travel sector strategy is largely focused on innovative solutions for interlining, passenger connectivity, and creating new commerce channels for its airline investments and customers.

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ATR Eastern Support Subsidiary appoints new Managing Director

ATR has appointed Alessandro Luzi as Managing Director of the company’s Eastern Support (AES) subsidiary, based in Singapore, effective as of March 1, 2021. Luzi joined ATR in 2008 as Cockpit and Cabin Design Engineer and has since developed with leadership roles as Head of Aircraft Interiors and Systems Installation and subsequently leading the development of the ATR 72-600F as the project’s Chief Engineer. He will replace Jean-Pierre Clercin who will become ATR’s Head of Sales for the Asia Pacific Region, and will continue to work from the Singapore offices.

The ATR Eastern Support Facility has also officially moved premises from Changi Business Park to Seletar Aerospace Park, where it will be located alongside the ATR Training Centre, on the Airbus campus, in the local aerospace cluster. The relocation also provided an opportunity to upgrade the ATR-600 simulator to the latest avionic standard 3.1, improving the visual system and qualify UPRT and full-stall and icing capabilities.

Alaska Airlines expands Pacific Northwest service with four new routes

Alaska Airlines continues to strengthen its Pacific Northwest connections with the announcement of four new routes, which includes linking Boise to Chicago O'Hare and Austin and two new destinations from Seattle.

On June 17, Alaska will begin daily nonstop service between Boise and Chicago, and between Boise and Austin. Both routes will be flown year-round with Horizon Air's Embraer 175 jet and its three-class cabin. With these new flights, Alaska will have 28 daily departures to 12 cities from Boise this year.

The flights between Idaho's largest city to the Windy City will allow Alaska's guests to connect to American Airlines' domestic and international network. With Alaska joining American in the oneworld alliance on March 31, guests can expect a seamless travel experience.

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TAM delivers additional Saab 340B cargo conversion

Continuing its successful series of Saab 340B cargo conversions, Täby Air Maintenance (TAM) has delivered an additional aircraft – ES-NSD, MSN 171 – to Estonian airline Nyx Air on March 10, thus complementing a vast fleet of Saab 340/2000 and ATR 72 regional airliners, including Saab 340s in full cargo configuration.

With a firm experience from converting more than a dozen Saab 340s, the TAM cargo conversions meet an increased market interest, with ES-NSD being the second aircraft delivered from TAM’s Örebro workshops in 2021.
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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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