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Thursday, June 10th, 2021

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Ryanair wins case against Condor as EU court rules against state aid for German airline

Having challenged financial aid provided to KLM and TAP, Ryanair has successfully challenged the EU’s approval of a €550 million state loan package for struggling German vacation carrier Condor. However, while the top European court’s ruling has annulled the EU’s approval of the loan, it has also suspended the application of the ruling in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Luxembourg-based General Court’s decision was similar to rulings last month in which it annulled EU approval of €3.4 billion in state aid for the Netherlands’ KLM and a potential total of €1.2 billion for Portugal’s TAP. The Court has requested more complete reasoning for the EU’s approval of the aid. 

The loan to Condor to assist it after the collapse of holiday air travel due to COVID-19 came shortly after the parent company of Polish airline LOT pulled out of a takeover bid for the former subsidiary of Thomas Cook, the travel company. This resulted in an extension of insolvency proceedings, from which the restructured company emerged late last year. Last month, Condor announced that investor Attestor Capitol would take a majority stake. The General Court found that it was “incumbent on the Commission to examine with particular care whether the cancellation and rescheduling of Condor flights as a result of the travel restrictions imposed in the context of the pandemic were in fact the decisive cause of the additional costs incurred by Condor as a result of the extension of the insolvency proceedings”. Ryanair had also argued that the proposed €550 million loan constituted an unfair state bailout. (€1.00 = US$1.22 at time of publication.)


April travel demand tale of two markets: domestic recovery and international stagnation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that domestic travel demand improved in April 2021 compared to the prior month, although it remained well below pre-pandemic levels, while recovery in international passenger travel continued to be stalled in the face of government-imposed travel restrictions.

Total demand for air travel in April 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 65.4% compared to April 2019. That was an improvement over the 66.9% decline recorded in March 2021 versus March 2019. The better performance was driven by gains in most domestic markets.

International passenger demand in April was 87.3% below April 2019, little changed from the 87.8% decline recorded in March 2021 versus two years ago.

Total domestic demand was down 25.7% versus pre-crisis levels (April 2019), much improved over March 2021, when domestic traffic was down 31.6% versus the 2019 period. As with March, all markets except Brazil and India showed improvement compared to March 2021, with both China and Russia reporting traffic growth compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ April international traffic was down 94.4% compared to April 2019, incrementally improved compared to the 94.9% decline registered in March 2021 versus March 2019. The region experienced the steepest traffic declines for a ninth consecutive month. Capacity was down 86.3% and the load factor sank 47.7 percentage points to 33.5%, the lowest among regions.

European carriers saw an 87.7% decline in traffic in April versus April 2019, barely changed from the 88.2% decline in March compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity fell 78.2% and load factor dropped 37.3 percentage points to 48.4%.

Middle Eastern airlines posted an 82.9% demand drop in April compared to April 2019, which was weaker than the 81.6% decline in March, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 65.3%, and load factor fell 41.1 percentage points to 39.6%.

North American carriers’ April demand fell 77.9% compared to the 2019 period, an improvement over the 80.9% decline in March versus two years ago. Capacity sagged 59.3%, and load factor dropped 37.8 percentage points to 45.0%.

Latin American airlines experienced an 81.1% demand drop in April, compared to the same month in 2019, slightly bettering the 82.1% decline in March compared to March 2019. April capacity was down 75.8% and load factor dropped 18.0 percentage points to 64.6%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for a seventh straight month.

African airlines’ traffic fell 78.3% in April versus April two years ago, marking a significant deterioration compared to a 73.7% decline recorded in March compared to March 2019. April capacity contracted 64.0% versus April 2019, and load factor fell 29.1 percentage points to 43.9%.

(Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to April 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern).

Liebherr to supply cockpit static inverter for Airbus A320 and A330-families

Liebherr-Aerospace has been selected by Airbus to supply the cockpit static inverter for the Airbus A320 and A330-families. It is the first contract for the company in the segment of aircraft systems ATA Chapter 24 - Electrical Systems - and opens Liebherr the door to deploy its know-how and latest stand-alone power electronics technologies in this high potential business sector.

Liebherr-Aerospace’s cockpit static inverter will replace the current version. It offers a more reliable, lightweight, fully digital solution, and is based on wide band-gap technology together with enhanced connection functions.

Two Liebherr companies have developed the cockpit static inverter: Liebherr-Elektronik GmbH, based in Lindau (Germany), Liebherr’s center of excellence for electronics and a major player in its field, is responsible for all activities regarding the hardware, including production, and Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS, Liebherr’s center of excellence for air management systems in Toulouse (France), provides the inverter’s software. Both companies have vast experience in power electronics and joined forces to offer Airbus the latest technology.


Honeywell to provide cockpit technologies for 7-seater Lilium Jet

Honeywell has been selected by Lilium to develop the 7-seater Lilium Jet’s avionics and flight control systems. The compact fly-by-wire system will act as the flight control system on the all-electric 7-seater Lilium Jet, responsible for controlling its moveable parts, including the 36 control surfaces and ducted fans that provide its high level of maneuverability in every stage of flight.

Honeywell, one of the first major aerospace manufacturers to create a dedicated Urban Air Mobility business unit, has designed a flight control system that draws on its decades of experience providing such systems for commercial airliners. This system, which has been tailored for the Lilium Jet’s unique design, will play a crucial role in ensuring smooth, comfortable, and emission-free air travel for passengers.

Alongside the flight control system, Honeywell is delivering the next generation integrated avionics system, which will provide a simplified user interface for the pilot to fly the Lilium Jet. The selection of Honeywell’s next-generation UAM avionics system is the result of ongoing collaboration between Lilium and Honeywell to converge on the specific technical requirements suitable for the Lilium Jet. The avionics system is designed to reduce training time and will support operation by a single pilot, freeing up greater passenger capacity.

Causeway Aero Group opens new composites facility

Causeway Aero has opened a brand new 7,000 ft² production facility in Sligo in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland, and is currently in the advanced stages of receiving EASA Part-21G approval from the Irish Aviation Authority.

As the Lisburn facility is now outside EASA and approved by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, it also means that Causeway will be one of the few aerospace companies able to deliver against alternative approvals and Form 1, offering maximum flexibility for customers. In addition to having a readily available skilled work force, the strategic location is just a two-hour drive from the company's headquarters in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, from the aircraft leasing community in Dublin, and from the MRO cluster in Shannon.

Part of the new facility has been taken over by Inter-Tec Aero, a new part of Inter-Tec Group, a long-term partner of Causeway that has used its EASA Part-21J Design Organisation Approval to assist with a number of interior and seat projects.


RBI Hawker Australia gains CASA Part 145 maintenance approval

RBI Hawker has received Part 145 maintenance organization approval from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for its new rotary blade repair facility in Brisbane, Australia. This approval authorizes the company to commence operations.

The RBI Hawker Australia facility is a new 1,000 m² hangar based in Eagle Farm, Brisbane. The facility offers advanced repair and static balance techniques for rotor blade repair on all Bell helicopter models and Leonardo AW139 and AW109 models.

RBI Hawker has been providing maintenance support to both commercial and military helicopter operators in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and wider regions from Dubai since 2005. The company is an authorized Bell CSF and Leonardo Service Center with an extensive OEM-approved standard and expanded repair portfolio. The company is working to extend these same services and capabilities to Australian and Pacific operators.

RBI Hawker Limited, a joint venture between Hawker Pacific Airservices, a Jet Aviation company, and Bell, was established in 2005 and is one of the leading rotary repair companies in the world.

GA Telesis signs agreement with Cargo Aircraft Management for CF6-80A/A2 repair, disassembly, and iventory management services

GA Telesis (GAT) has signed an agreement with Air Transport Services Group's wholly owned subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM), to provide repair, disassembly, and inventory management services for CF6-80A/A2 engines. This agreement will be managed by GAT’s Flight Solutions Group (FSG) and marks a further expansion of GAT’s partnership with CAM and ATSG.

The engines will be inducted for disassembly starting in June 2021 by the Component Solutions division of FSG. The removed material will be routed for repair via Component Solutions’ expansive approved MRO vendor base. Upon completion, the used serviceable material (USM) will be made available to CAM for use on their engines as well as GA Telesis' other airline and MRO customers worldwide.

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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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