Thursday, September 19th, 2019


Virgin Atlantic looks to challenge IAG dominance – eyes up 80 new Heathrow slots

Virgin Atlantic (Virgin) announced Wednesday, September 18, that it wants to add 80 new routes and 84 destinations to its current network once the third London Heathrow runway is completed, a major increase to its current 19 destinations. While the runway is not scheduled for completion until 2026, for Virgin to acquire the necessary additional slots, changes would have to be made to the current slot allocation system. While IAG dominates with over 55% of all Heathrow slots and no other airline owns more than 5%, the rules governing slot allocation are currently under governmental review.

“Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long,” said Shai Weiss, chief executive at Virgin Atlantic. “The third runway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag-carrier,” he added. “This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers.”

Commenting on the current situation, a spokeswoman for Britain’s Department for Transport said: “We are exploring the best way to allocate landing slots, ensuring they promote fair and competitive growth when significant new capacity is released.”

Virgin currently operates long-haul routes to destinations including New York, San Francisco, Johannesburg and Hong Kong, and the carrier would like to add domestic routes such as Liverpool and Edinburgh, short-haul flights to Germany, Spain and France, and long-haul flights to cities such as Jakarta and Panama City. While Virgin has been openly critical of IAG’s slot dominance, the Group, which owns carriers including British Airways and low-cost Spanish Vueling, has not remained silent. It has claimed that Virgin could have increased its slot share at Heathrow to 19.7% by buying slots but had chosen not to do so, adding that Virgin also rented out slots it owns to other airlines. “IAG welcomes competition but the facts speak for themselves. Virgin Atlantic’s lack of Heathrow routes is down to its own corporate strategy,” it said in a statement.

Component Control

Qatar Airways publishes 2018-19 annual report

Qatar Airways has published its annual report for 2018-19, highlighting the airline group’s success and underlying robust financial health.

Overall revenue and other operating income grew by 14% annually. Passenger revenue grew by 14.3% with capacity growth of 13.5%. Cargo revenue witnessed growth of 16.8% with cargo capacity growing 11.8% annually. Executive jet revenue also witnessed substantial growth of 18.4% in comparison to previous year.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “2018-19 was nonetheless a challenging year and while it is disappointing that Group has registered a net loss of QAR 2.3 billion (US$ 639 million) – attributable to the loss of mature routes, higher fuel costs and foreign exchange fluctuations – the underlying fundamentals of our business remain extremely robust."

The airline’s fleet grew by 25 aircraft to a point where it welcomed its 250th aircraft in March 2019. With more than 300 aircraft worth more than US$ 85 billion on order (including options and Letters of Intent) the group has the capacity to continue its ambitious but sustainable network expansion strategy.

Airbus forecasts need for over 39,000 new aircraft in next 20 years

The world’s passenger and freighter aircraft fleet is set to more than double from today’s nearly 23,000 to almost 48,000 by 2038 with traffic growing at 4.3% annually, also resulting in a need for 550,000 new pilots and 640,000 new technicians.

By 2038, of the forecast 47,680 fleet, 39,210 are new and 8,470 remain from today. By updating fleets with latest generation fuel efficient aircraft such as the A220, A320neo Family, the A330neo and the A350, Airbus believes it will largely contribute to the progressive decarbonisation of the air transport industry and the objective of carbon neutral growth from 2020 while connecting more people globally.

Reflecting today’s evolving aircraft technology, Airbus has simplified its segmentation to consider capacity, range and mission type. For example, a short haul A321 is Small (S) while the long-haul A321LR or XLR can be categorised as Medium (M). While the core market for the A330 is classified as Medium (M), it is likely a number will continue to be operated by airlines in a way that sits within the Large (L) market segmentation along with the A350 XWB.

The new segmentation gives rise to a need for 39,210 new passenger and freighter aircraft -29,720 Small (S), 5,370 Medium (M) and 4,120 Large (L) - according to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast 2019-2038. Of these, 25,000 aircraft are for growth and 14,210 are to replace older
models with newer ones offering superior efficiency.

Resilient to economic shocks, air traffic has more than doubled since 2000. It is increasingly playing a key role in connecting large population centres, particularly in emerging markets where the
propensity to travel is amongst the world’s highest as cost or geography make alternatives impossible. Today, about a quarter of the world’s urban population is responsible for more than a quarter of global GDP, and given both are key growth drivers, Aviation Mega Cities (AMCs) will
continue to power the global aviation network. Developments in superior fuel efficiency are further driving demand to replace existing less fuel efficient aircraft.


Astronics Corporation announces new US$50 million share repurchase program

Astronics Corporation released the Board of Directors's approval of their new share repurchase program, authorizing the Company to repurchase in the aggregate up to US$50 million of its outstanding common stock. This follows the completion of the US$50 million share repurchase program approved by the Board in December 2017. This program has no time limit and may be discontinued at any time at the Company’s discretion.

Purchases by Astronics under this program will be made using a new 10b5-1 plan which the Company has adopted to facilitate the purchase of shares during periods when it may otherwise be prevented from acting due to securities laws and self-imposed blackout periods. Effective September 13, 2019, repurchases made under the plan are subject to Securities and Exchange Commission’s regulations, as well as certain price, market, volume, and timing considerations specified in the plan. Since repurchases under the plan are subject to such constraints, there is no guarantee as to the exact number of shares, if any, that will be repurchased under the plan.

SAS travelers can now buy biofuel

SAS is now launching a new ancillary product that gives travelers the option to reduce their climate impact. This means that travelers can purchase biofuel when booking a ticket, or at any time before departure.

Biofuel, which reduces climate-affecting CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel, is a key enabler to make flying more sustainable and reach SAS’ target to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2030. SAS is pushing for large-scale production of advanced biofuel in Scandinavia. The volumes being produced today are not enough and the price is 3-4 times higher than for conventional jet fuel.

“In the short term, we believe that an important step in reducing climate impact is to increase the use of biofuel. This product makes it easier for our customers to contribute to this development. It also shows the additional costs of biofuel today and highlights the need for an increased supply of commercial biofuel,” says Karl Sandlund.

SAS makes no profit on the contribution from travelers and it will be added to the biofuels already purchased by SAS.


Weston Aviation opens new FBO at Manchester Airport

Weston Aviation, the U.K. and Ireland based FBO and business aviation services company has agreed terms to launch a new FBO and ground handling services at Manchester Airport (MAN/EGCC).

The new services, which have already commenced operation, will bring Weston Aviation's current FBO network to five locations and will have a key focus on FBO and private aircraft handling, cargo handling and supervision and local business aviation development.

Boeing begins assembling first KC-46A tanker for Japan

On September 13 the Boeing KC-46 team began assembling Japan’s first next-generation tanker, loading a 82.4-foot (25 meters) long wing spar in the company’s 767 production facility.

Boeing was awarded a Foreign Military Sale contract for one KC-46A aircraft and logistics services in December 2017. The U.S. Air Force exercised an option for Japan’s second aircraft in December 2018.

Boeing began developing the KC-46A for the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and delivered the first tanker in January 2019. Japan is the program’s first international customer. Deliveries to the JASDF will begin in 2021.

The KC-46A is a derivative of the commercial 767-2C, a proven airframe in service as an airliner and freighter. Boeing has delivered more than 1,150 767s worldwide.


Werner Aero Services acquires Boeing 737-800

Werner Aero Services has released that it has acquired a Boeing 737-800, MSN. The aircraft has entered the disassembly process and components will become available shortly to support Werner’s B737 customer base worldwide. The spare parts will be used to supplement Werner Aero’s asset management programs.

“We are expanding our Boeing platforms to support airlines worldwide and are in the process of acquiring additional airplanes. We see great demands from our 737NG airline customers for the various types of support we provide, including spare parts and engines,” said Mike Cazaz, CEO of Werner Aero Services.

Virgin Galactic announces major milestone in manufacture of next spaceship

Virgin Galactic released that it has mated the fuselage and cabin of its next spaceship to the completed wing assembly. In addition, the two tail booms have been mated to the spaceship’s rear feather flap assembly. The completion of these two milestones brings assembly of the next SpaceShipTwo, planned to enter service after VSS Unity, a major step forward.

With these milestones, the part fabrication of the wing, fuselage, cabin, nose and feather flap primary structures is now complete for the second commercial spaceship. In addition, the majority of systems integration for the wing is complete, as well as the build of the cabin crew station installation.

SpaceShipTwo vehicles are assembled in a modular fashion, with the cabin, fuselage, wing and feather assemblies built in parallel. Employing Design For Manufacturability and Assembly (DFMA) techniques, this approach grants easier access for systems integration earlier in the build
process, as well as an overall shorter assembly duration.


737 MAX software upgrade to be tested in simulator by new FAA chief

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Stephen Dickson is heading to Seattle this week to visit Boeing and fly in a Boeing 737 simulator. The simulator will incorporate Boeing’s latest software
‘fix’ which will receive input from both angle-of-attack sensors in the 737 MAX’s MCAS anti-stall system.

However, this is not part of any certification process which will be required by Boeing before the beleaguered aircraft can once again take to the skies. Neither the FAA nor Boeing have yet given any clear timeline for the likelihood of such an event. According to Reuters news agency, Boeing has said it planned to conduct a certification test flight in the “September time frame” but Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg did not give a specific date when asked last week. In addition to the simulator flight, Dickinson will also be meeting with the FAA aircraft certification team based in Seattle.

Separately, Boeing has recently declined an invitation to testify at a House Transportation Committee hearing. “Boeing is working diligently and transparently with committees in both the House (of Representatives) and the Senate to ensure that proper information is being shared and we will continue to do so,” the company made clear in an e-mailed statement. It was reported last month that the committee review would find the company needs to reorganize its engineering reporting lines company-wide and ensure higher ranking officials, including its CEO, get faster feedback about potential safety concerns from lower levels of the company.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general and a number of blue-ribbon panels are investigating the 737 MAX as well as how the FAA certifies new aircraft.


click here to download the latest PDF edition


click here to download the latest PDF edition

click here to subscribe to our other free publications


click here to view in PDF aircraft and engines available for sale and lease


MRO Europe
October 15 - 17, 2019 – ExCel London, London, UK

Advanced Engineering 2019
October 30 - 31, 2019 – NEC, Birmingham, UK

EyeforTravel Revenue Optimization and Marketing Summit
November 26 - 27, 2019 – Hotel Novotel Amsterdam City, Amsterdam, NL

Manufacturing World
February 26 - 18, 2020 – Makuhari Messe, Chiba-city, Japan