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Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

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France, Germany, and Spain reach accord over €100 billion next-gen fighter jet

In what is Europe’s largest defense project expenditure France, Germany, and Spain have reached an agreement over the next generation of fighter jets including unmanned drones – the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) – with an expected expenditure of around €100 billion (US$122 billion.)

The new aircraft will begin to phase out the existing German and Spanish Eurofighter, and the French Rafale, from 2040. France in particular was keen to point out that this project was crucial for Europe to strengthen its defense autonomy and face competition from China, Russia and the United States. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly tweeted: “France, Germany and Spain are building one of the most important tools for their sovereignty and that of Europe in the 21st century.”

The next development phase for the FCAS has been budgeted at €3.5 billion (US$4.25 billion), which will be shared equally by the three countries. According to a French military source, the phase will include finalization of the designs for the combat jet and drone by 2024, plus the construction of demonstrators. Having agreed on the division of financial responsibility, the three countries have, in addition, finally reached agreement over intellectual property rights, a facet of the deal which had recently been holding up negotiations.

Under the terms of the agreement, the fighter jet will not have a black box to help preserve sensitive commercial know-how, according to a French source. However, one problem remains. Germany must obtain approval from its parliamentary budget committee over its share of expenditure, and time is limited as there is a federal election in Germany in September. According to Reuters news agency, the German Defense Ministry has to refer the budget proposed to the Finance Ministry by May 19.

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Faradair adds Dunlop aircraft tyres to growing list of partners

Established more than 100 years ago, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres quickly became a significant player in the newly born, rapidly expanding aircraft industry. It has remained a key supplier in this evolving sector ever since. Today, the Birmingham, U.K.-headquartered business is partnering Duxford, U.K.-based Faradair, a new U.K. aerospace manufacturer, as it helps usher in a new era of sustainable aviation.

The companies have agreed to work together on the BEHA (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft) development program, creating a new, more sustainable aircraft tyre, as part of the U.K.’s drive to net zero.

The BEHA is a British clean sheet designed, net zero-capable commercial aircraft that will not only create new manufacturing jobs, but also significantly support the U.K. aerospace supply chain, which has been hit hard by the global pandemic. This partnership between two British aerospace companies marries Dunlop’s rich heritage with a fantastic opportunity for the future of sustainable aerospace manufacturing. Under its "Build Back Better" plan for economic growth, the U.K. Government has declared its intention to support programs such as this, especially with the UN climate change conference of the parties, known as COP26, coming to Glasgow, U.K. in November.

JetBlue names Ursula Hurley acting CFO

Ursula Hurley, head of treasury and investor relations, has been named acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of JetBlue Airways. She succeeds Steve Priest, who has decided to leave JetBlue effective June 11, 2021 to pursue a new opportunity. Hurley will assume the role of acting CFO effective June 12, 2021, in addition to her current duties.

Hurley began her career at JetBlue 17 years ago. She has been responsible for debt and cash management, cash flow, fuel and interest rate hedging, strategic sourcing, and fleet strategy, including aircraft and engine sourcing. Her role was recently expanded to manage JetBlue’s relationship with the investor community.

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Finnair's ATR fleet to be fitted with HEPA filters for improved air quality

Finnair is installing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters on the recirculation system of its entire ATR turboprop fleet. The HEPA air filtration system is the most effective technology for cleansing and purifying aircraft compartments air. The particulate filtration removes dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses and other irritating particles from the cabin air with an efficiency of 99.97%. Finnair’s Airbus and Embraer aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, and now HEPA filters are also being installed on its ATR aircraft.

Finnair’s ATR fleet currently consists of twelve aircraft, operated by Finnair’s partner company Norra on short haul routes in domestic and regional traffic. The installations of the HEPA filters in the ATR fleet will begin in June and be completed by early 2022.

“Taking good care of the health and safety of our customers and staff is always our highest priority. By introducing HEPA filters to our ATR fleet, we’ll be further raising the hygiene level in our ATR aircraft from an already high standard,” says Juha Ojala, Vice President, Finnair Technical Operations.

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Air bp signs agreement to sell SAF at Munich Airport

Air bp, the international aviation fuel products and service supplier, has confirmed an agreement for its first sale of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at Munich Airport. A business aviation operator will start to purchase SAF from the beginning of June. This marks the second location in Germany where Air bp has supplied SAF, the first being in December 2019 at Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport.

This latest supply agreement follows Air bp’s recent SAF supply to three U.K. locations: London Biggin Hill, Airbus-owned Hawarden and Centreline FBO Bristol and one in France, at Clermont Ferrand. These agreements reinforce the importance of collaboration between fuel supplier, airport and customer in driving the demand for SAF needed if the industry is to meet its lower carbon goals.

The SAF supplied by Air bp is made from waste based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil which is blended with traditional jet fuel. The SAF blend supplied is around 35% SAF and 65% traditional jet fuel. The SAF component provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of around 80% compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces

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Ryanair optimistic despite record €815 million annual loss – will tap bond markets

Low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair has posted a record loss of €815 for the fiscal year 2020-2021 but remains buoyant over the carrier’s future as signs of a recovery in demand are already being seen. Last year it was forced to cancel over 80% of its flights owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, flying only 27.5 million passengers to March compared to €149 million the previous fiscal year. Chief Financial officer Neil Sorahan confirmed that the group intended to tap the eurobond (a bond issued that is denominated in a currency not native to the country where it is issued) market in the near future but gave no indication of the amount it intended to borrow. Last year Ryanair raised €850 million in eurobonds as part of an overall €1.95 billion cash raise.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary commented that Ryanair intends to take advantage of the “favorable” interest rates and financing terms available from current capital markets. Sorahan revealed that the airline had cash of €3.1 billion, while 85% of its fleet, worth €7.5 billion was “unencumbered”, i.e., not being used to secure any debt. The carrier reiterated its previous forecast that passenger numbers for the current fiscal year would be towards the lower end of between 80 million and 120 million passengers, while anticipating that only five million to six million passengers will be flown in the April-June quarter.

Meanwhile, problems persist in relation to the delivery of long-awaited 737 MAX jets from Boeing. Ryanair believes there is a risk that 14 planes due for delivery at the beginning of May will not arrive before the summer. The carrier has 210 of the jets on order and deliveries have been postponed several times. O’Leary has blamed management at the Boeing factory in Seattle, dubbing its response to regulators and customers as “abysmal”. However, he told analysts that he believed the problem was short term, saying: “I do believe it will be resolved and we will have 60 delivered on time for summer 2022.” (€1.00 = US$1.20 at time of publication.)

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CargoAir becomes first European operator of AEI's B737-800SF

Aeronautical Engineers has successfully re-delivered CargoAir’s first B737-800SF freighter. This aircraft (MSN 30664) also represents the first AEI B737-800SF freighter conversion to be operated in Europe. AEI received EASA approval for the B737-800SF on May 7, 2021.

In November of last year, CargoAir, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, has signed up for two AEI B737-800SF freighter conversions, after cancelling an agreement for two B737-800BCFs. The second AEI B737-800SF freighter conversion for CargoAir will commence modification in June and will be performed by the authorized AEI conversion center, Commercial Jet in Miami, Florida.

The AEI converted B737-800SF freighter offers a main deck payload of up to 52,700 lbs. (23,904 kg) and incorporates eleven full height 88” x 125” container positions, plus an additional position for an AEP/AEH. The conversion also incorporates new floor beams aft of the wing box, a large 86” x 137” main cargo door with a single vent door system.

United to add 400 flights to July's schedule

United Airlines has added more options for customers to take long-awaited summer vacations by adding more than 400 daily flights to its July schedule and increasing service to reopened European destinations. This is United's largest monthly schedule since before the pandemic. United plans to fly 80% of its U.S. schedule compared to July of 2019, bookings for summer travel are up 214% compared to 2020 levels.

In the U.S., United will add new routes to Bozeman, MT; Orange County, CA; Raleigh, N.C and Yellowstone/Cody, WY. The airline is also adjusting its flight times at its hubs at Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport to provide more convenient options for customers. Internationally, United is giving travelers more options to visit Europe from New York/Newark by adding an additional weekly flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia and operating a larger aircraft to Athens, Greece.

As customers travel internationally, United's mobile app and website provide a comprehensive list of entry requirements for destinations around the world and United makes it easy for customers to search, book and upload COVID-19 tests and vaccination records through its own digital platforms. The airline has set up an easy way for international travelers to bring a CDC-approved test with them, self-administer while abroad, and return home through an innovative collaboration with Abbott.
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