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Friday, May 28th, 2021

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Delta takes US$350 million gamble on renewable fuel obligations

Having reported an overall adjusted net loss of US$2.26 billion for the quarter ended March 31, a loss for the fifth quarter in a row, Delta Air Lines (Delta) has run up a debt of US$346 million in unpurchased credits through Monroe Energy, a 185,000-barrel-a-day Delta-owned refinery. In the meantime, Delta is looking to convince the White House to remove the obligations to comply with the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Refiners like Monroe Energy are required, by law, to blend billions of dollars in biofuel with their own fuel, or buy credits from other refineries, though this can be at a cost of millions of dollars. Delta has tried, unsuccessfully, to sell Monroe Energy, based in Trainer, Pennsylvania. A spokesman pointed to comments on an April 15 investor call by the airline's co-chief financial officer, Gary Chase, who said a "huge escalation in the cost of RINS" from 60 cents to 70 cents at the end of the fourth quarter to above US$1.00 now has impacted "near-term performance." Chase suggested the price movements were among "short-term dislocations" affecting the refinery. Refiners in the past have suspended the purchase of credits, known as RINS, if there has been a cashflow problem, if they anticipate the cost of RINS falling, or if they anticipated regulatory relief to reduce their compliance requirements.

According to company filings, Delta's US$346 million outstanding liability on biofuel credits is approximately double its full-year 2020 RFS compliance costs of US$172 million and appreciably greater than the US$58 million it paid in 2019. The current US$346 million due represents the current value of credits the company would need to buy to comply with the RFS, credits which are meant to be handed in to the Environmental Protection Agency each year.

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Air New Zealand to add more international cargo flights

Air New Zealand has been awarded more international cargo flights under the Government's Maintaining International Air Connectivity (MIAC) scheme. With the scheme extended through to October, the airline will operate around 30 flights per week to 13 destinations including Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, as well as maintaining air connectivity with key Pacific ports. With the trans-Tasman and Cook Islands bubbles now well under way, these services are currently operating outside of the MIAC scheme.

Air New Zealand General Manager Cargo Anna Palairet says it's encouraging to have been awarded more flights under the Government scheme. "MIAC is helping our import and export community maintain essential trade with key international markets during an extended period of disruption and we're really proud to be part of making that happen. Operating these services also allows us to bring Kiwis home where other commercial services haven't been able to operate."

SWISS concludes Airbus A220 fleet renewal with 30th delivery

SWISS has taken delivery of its 30th new Airbus A220 aircraft at Zurich Airport, to mark a further milestone in the biggest fleet renewal program in its corporate history. SWISS was launching carrier and first operator of the new short- and medium-haul twin-jet, which was designed and developed from scratch. The Airbus A220 emits over 20% less carbon dioxide than comparable aircraft types. SWISS’s 30th A220, a ‑300 model with the registration HB-JCU, was named ‘Davos’ following its Zurich arrival.

SWISS now operates nine of the smaller Airbus A220-100s (seating 125 passengers) and 21 of the larger Airbus A220-300s (with 145 passenger seats).

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Breeze Airways launches with 13 Embraer jets

Breeze Airways, the new U.S. carrier from JetBlue founder David Neeleman, has started operations with a planned fleet of 13 Embraer jets. Breeze will take delivery of all 13 leased jets through the summer, to reach an initial fleet of ten E190s, and three E195s. With plans to grow the fleet further before the end of the year. The E190 jets will be configured to seat 108 guests while the E195 aircraft will have 118 seats.

Neeleman, CEO and Founder of Breeze Airways, said, “Embraer’s E-Jets are phenomenal at building out new airlines, and growing and supporting new routes. They are the masters at doing this, as proven by my previous airline ventures – and, no middle seats! The flexibility the family of aircraft provides, allows us to meet fluctuating demand profitably – exactly what all airlines need right now. Having the E-Jets as a core part of our team gives me enormous confidence.”

Earlier this month Breeze signed a long-term pool program agreement with Embraer to support a wide range of repairable components for the airline’s E190s and E195s fleet. The agreement included full repair coverage for components and parts, as well as access to a large stock of components at Embraer’s distribution center, which will support the start of the airline’s operation.

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GA Telesis and Air Transport Services Group announce joint venture

GA Telesis, LLC, a global aviation services integrator, has entered into a joint venture agreement with Air
Transport Services Group, a leading provider of aircraft leasing and air cargo transportation and related services, to build a GA Telesis Specialized Procedures Aeroengine Hospital (SPAH) in the Central or Midwest of the United States. The SPAH will be capable of inducting more than 200 engines per year.

While the specific location is under evaluation, consideration will be given to a centralized location in the United States with a strong interstate and airport network. The SPAH will target engines manufactured by General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, International Aero Engine, and CFM International and will initially offer the following services:

• Engine lease return inspections
• QEC installations
• Boroblend repairs
• Top case repairs
• Accessory gearbox repairs
• Hot section repairs
• Compressor rear frame repairs
• Engine storage and preservation
• Airworthiness Directives
• Service Bulletin implementation
• Engine module changes
• Engine test and thrust conversions
• Engine troubleshooting
• Engine MPD Task

The grand opening of GA Telesis’ first SPAH in Helsinki, Finland is scheduled for June 13, 2021. The SPAH in Helsinki includes a state-of-the-art integrated test cell capable of producing 100,000 lbs of thrust. The U.S.-based SPAH is projected to be operational in Q1 of 2022 with full FAA approvals and is similarly evaluating proposals for the design, construction, and location of a state-of-the-art test cell projected to produce up to 100,000 lbs of thrust.

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Iberia Maintenance returns 29 aircraft back into service for Iberia Group

Iberia will resume flights to several summer destinations in June. The carrier will fly to Italy, Croatia, Portugal and the U.S.A. For that reason Iberia Maintenance is working intensively to overhaul a total of 46 IAG Group and third-party customer airplanes and their engines for the summer season.

29 of these aircraft are from Iberia Group's A320-family, 23 for Iberia and six for Iberia Express. A clear sign of the reactivation of operations for the summer season, which involves the meticulous attention and overhaul of the aircraft and engines after more than a year on the ground due to the reduction of air activity during the pandemic. In this period, Iberia Maintenance has assisted more than 150 aircraft by offering preservation services in Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, and Seville.

Several days of work are required for an aircraft to be operational again, according to the maintenance programs of each operator. The covers that protect the aircraft against external damage from insects, birds or corrosion are removed and engines, systems, such as hydraulics, electrical or avionics, and essential elements such as the landing gear, brakes and wheels are checked, among other tasks. In some aircraft, it will also be necessary to carry out heavy maintenance work at the Iberia Maintenance facilities in La Muñoza, as the aircraft's entry into service coincides with the recurrent overhaul scheduled for the aircraft.
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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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Tamar