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Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

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British Airways to invest in tech innovator ZeroAvia to speed up development of hydrogen-powered aircraft

British Airways has invested in ZeroAvia – a leading innovator in decarbonizing commercial aviation – in an effort to accelerate the development of 50+ seater aircraft capable of running on zero emissions hydrogen-electric power.

British Airways and a group of investors including Horizons Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ have invested a total of US$24.3 million, which will enable ZeroAvia to launch a new development program to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology and accelerate the development of a larger hydrogen-electric engine, capable of flying further and using larger aircraft as soon as 2026.

ZeroAvia says it could achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric power as early as 2024, with flights of up to 500-miles in up to 20-seater aircraft. With this new investment, ZeroAvia expects to have 50+ seat commercial aircraft in operation in five years’ time and it accelerates the company’s vision of powering a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

This new investment reflects the importance British Airways is placing on sustainability and supports the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a series of short, medium and long-term initiatives. In addition to exploring and investing in the growth of these new longer-term technologies, the airline is also investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuels, flying more fuel-efficient aircraft and exploring the use of carbon capture technology.

In September 2020, ZeroAvia achieved the world's first hydrogen-electric flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Additionally, the company just completed a ground simulation of the complete power profile for its upcoming first cross-country flight. The ground test demonstrated a full battery shutdown in-flight using the company's unique fuel cell powertrain configuration, allowing for complete removal of the battery system in the next configuration of the powertrain.

British Airways’ investment in ZeroAvia follows a recent partnership between the two companies announced at the end of last year. The airline teamed up with ZeroAvia through its parent company International Airlines Group’s (IAG) Hangar 51 accelerator program in a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying. The project identified economic, network and consumer appeal advantages as well as clear environmental benefits.

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Lilium looks to US$3.3 billion SPAC deal for U.S. flotation

German startup Lilium, which specializes on electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for inter-city travel has announced it is to float on the U.S. stock market through a reverse merger with Quell Acquisition Corp, a blank-check acquisition company. The deal values the combined businesses at US$3.3 billion and the merger is similar to that of rival Joby, which has merged with a listed shell company to attract substantial capital beyond venture capital funding.

Lilium is confident that combining with Quell, which is headed up by former General Motors president Barry Engle, will see it meet its objective of becoming commercially operable in 2024. “In Qell, we have found a partner who shares our ambition for sustainable mobility and brings tremendous experience in running mobility and hardware businesses,” Daniel Wiegand, CEO and co-founder of Lilium, said in a statement.

Total gross proceeds are expected to be US$830 million, including US$380 million held in trust and proceeds from a US$450 million private placement. According to Reuters news agency, investors in the placement include fund manager Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Tencent, Ferrovial, LGT, Palantir, Atomico, FII Institute and private funds affiliated with PIMCO. The transaction implies fully diluted pro forma enterprise value of US$2.4 billion, which works out at 0.7 times forecast revenue of US$3.3 billion and at 3.4 times forecast core profits of US$708 million in 2026, a company presentation said.

While much of the early prototyping focused on a five-seat fixed-wing aircraft, it will be a seven-seater Lilium Jet, which will have a 175-mph cruising speed and range of 155 miles that will go into production first. Lilium obtained the CRI-A01 certification basis last year from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and it is now looking to obtain the equivalent recognition from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Emirates expands U.S. network with restart of flights to Orlando

Emirates has announced it will resume four-weekly services to Orlando from June 2, 2021, further expanding its U.S. network, and offering customers worldwide more travel choices and enhanced connectivity via Dubai.

With the addition of Orlando, Emirates will be serving over 60 weekly services to and from 11 U.S. destinations including Boston, New York (JFK), Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, and Newark (in June), reaffirming the airline’s ongoing commitment to this growing market and offering a convenient connections to travellers headed from and towards the Middle East, West Asia, and Africa via Dubai. Emirates customers also have seamless access to other U.S. cities via the airline’s codeshare agreements with Jetblue and Alaskan Airlines.

Emirates has safely and gradually restarted operations across its network. Since it safely resumed tourism activity in July, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season. It was one of the world's first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai's comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.

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AerCap and Norse Atlantic Airways sign lease agreements for nine Boeing 787 aircraft

AerCap (AerCap) has signed lease agreements with Norse Atlantic Airways for the lease of six used Boeing 787-9s and three used Boeing 787-8 aircraft. All nine aircraft are powered by Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines and are scheduled to begin delivery during 2021. Norse Atlantic Airways, based in Norway, plans to launch long-haul low-cost services, connecting major cities in Europe and the U.S.A.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with a market leader in AerCap to lease our initial fleet of Dreamliners. Norse Atlantic Airways looks forward to providing our passengers with comfortable, affordable, intercontinental travel aboard these state-of-the-art aircraft.” said Bjørn Tore Larsen, Chief Executive Officer of Norse Atlantic.

US-Bangla Airlines chooses Rusada’s ENVISION

Bangladeshi carrier, US-Bangla Airlines, has selected Rusada’s ENVISION as its airworthiness and maintenance software.

US-Bangla Airlines, based in Dhaka, is the country’s largest private airline with a growing fleet of Boeing 737s, ATR 72s, and De Havilland Q400s. Current destinations include India, China and Singapore, with flights to Saudi Arabia, Japan, and the United Kingdom planned for the near future.

US-Bangla has selected Rusada’s software to manage its day-to-day airworthiness and maintenance activities, as well as its long-term planning and forecasting. The airline has selected seven of ENVISION’s modules including Line Maintenance, Inventory Management, and Technical Publications to further drive efficiencies into its operations.

Rusada will begin work on the implementation project immediately, with Go-Live planned for the third quarter of this year.

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GAT expands distributor agreement with Honeywell to add new UV Treatment System

GA Telesis (GAT) has expanded its distributor agreement with Honeywell to add the latest version of Honeywell’s UV Treatment System to GAT’s Tarmac Solutions Group inventory. This collaboration provides another innovative product as airlines worldwide work to provide a safer environment for their passengers.

The newest version of Honeywell’s UV Treatment System is lighter and easier to navigate within aircraft cabins, enabling ground crews to efficiently and quickly clean between flights. Important enhancements to the popular UV Cabin System include a handheld wand and increased mobility, allowing access in the confined areas of the cockpit and lavatories. These latest features can now also be applied to other transportation modes outside of aviation including bus, rail, cruise liners, and automobiles. In some cases, when compared with other products on the market, the UV Treatment System can deliver results that are up to 80% more cost-effective per application with no chemical induction.

Weston Aviation names Nicole O’Connor as Commercial Director

FBO and ground support services company, Weston Aviation has appointed Nicole O’Connor as the company’s Commercial Director. O'Connor has 20 years’ experience in the travel and tourism industry, joining the long standing and wellregarded Weston Aviation team in 2019. With two decades of experience in sales and business development, she has been instrumental in the last year supporting the development of the local awareness of Weston Aviation and its services at Gloucestershire Airport, the company’s latest FBO and now headquarters in The Cotswolds, U.K.

O'Connor will focus on driving forward the long-term growth of the organization by leading on the awareness of using regional airports on an international scale with commercial activities, along with bringing her unique experience and knowledge on partnership building. She will work alongside Weston Aviation management and operations teams already firmly rooted, with a strong presence across the U.K. and Ireland to enable and facilitate the development of additional FBOs in Europe, and to also widen the air cargo proposition in these areas.

Alaska Airlines finalizes order for 737 MAX jets

Alaska Airlines has completed an agreement with Boeing for 23 737-9 airplanes and 15 options. With this agreement, the carrier’s 737 MAX order book, including options and lease commitments, stands at 120 airplanes.

Alaska Airlines received its first Boeing 737-9 in January and began revenue service on March 1. Its second 737-9 entered service on March 18, with two additional 737-9s scheduled to begin revenue service next week. The airline is embarking on a fleet modernization program to further improve the efficiency and sustainability of its operations. The Boeing 737-9 – equipped with new, more fuel-efficient engines and improved aerodynamics – will use 20% less fuel and reduce emissions by 20% per seat compared to airplanes it replaces.

This deal was first announced in December 2020 as a commitment and will be reflected on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website.
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