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Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

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Virgin Orbit to trade publicly on NASDAQ via US$3.2bn SPAC merger

Through its parent company Vieco U.S.A., Inc Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company, and NextGen Acquisition Corp. ll (NextGen), a special acquisition company, have announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement by which Virgin Orbit will become a publicly traded company.

Expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, the transaction is expected to generate up to US$483 million in cash, which includes up to US$383 million in cash held in a trust account of NextGen and a US$100 million fully committed PIPE (private investment in public equity.) and the merger will see the Virgin Orbit name retained. The transaction values Virgin Orbit at an implied pro forma enterprise value of approximately US$3.2 billion and will be subject to, among other things, approval by NextGen’s shareholders and the satisfaction or waiver of other customary closing conditions.

Virgin Orbit’s existing shareholder base is comprised of Virgin Group, (“Virgin”), Mubadala Investment Company (“Mubadala”), and management and employees. Existing Virgin Orbit shareholders will roll 100% of their equity into the combined company. Assuming no redemptions by NextGen’s shareholders, existing Virgin Orbit shareholders should retain ownership of approximately 85% of the combined company, NextGen’s public shareholders are expected to own approximately 10% of the combined company, with PIPE investors and the SPAC sponsor expected to own approximately 3% and 2%, respectively, in each case, immediately following closing.

Virgin Orbit has developed a proprietary air-launch technology, coupled with world-class manufacturing infrastructure and a proven team to transform space access for a diverse and global customer base. Since its founding in 2017, Virgin Orbit has developed the world’s first air-launched, liquid-fueled launch system.


flydocs announces changes to leadership team

Digital asset management solution provider flydocs has announced changes to its leadership team in a move that strengthens its business strategy of becoming the partner of choice. John Bowell has been promoted as the first Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) for flydocs and Joretha Augostine has also been promoted to the new role of Chief People Officer (CPO).

Since joining flydocs in 2016 as Business Development Manager (Middle East & Asia Pacific), Bowell was promoted to Director of Global Sales in 2017 before his most recent appointment as Director of Commercial & Marketing in 2019. The CCO is a new senior leadership role that elevates and focuses strategic oversight of flydocs' commercial strategy and development of the company’s business through marketing, sales, business development and customer service activities to drive business growth and market share. 

Augostine becomes flydocs’ first-ever Chief People Officer after joining the company in 2020 as Global HR Manager. Prior to her role with flydocs, she worked in the human resources field across the manufacturing and mining sector. She has focused her career on helping organisations achieve people strategy at scale while creating a highly engaging and productive workplace where employees can do the best work of their careers. Her new role will oversee people operations, including talent acquisition, compensation and rewards, talent and leadership development, diversity, equity and inclusion, and strategic people initiatives to support the company’s commitment to creating the best work experience for all as a people partner. 


Embraer’s Eve and Ascent further partnership to bring UAM operations to Asia Pacific region

Eve Urban Air Mobility, an Embraer company, and Ascent Flights Global have reported a deepening of their partnership aimed at developing a robust Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem in the Asia Pacific region. Beginning in 2026, Eve will provide Ascent with up to 100,000 hours of flight time per year on its electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, also known in the market as EVA (Electrical Vertical Aircraft), for use in key cities such as Bangkok (Thailand), Manila (Philippines), Melbourne (Australia), Singapore, and Tokyo (Japan).

Eve plans to deploy up to 100 aircraft to be marketed by Ascent on its current and future routes. Ascent, which acts as an independent on-demand platform, will pay for flight time utilized on Eve’s aircraft while operating in combination with partners in Asia Pacific and other markets. This new agreement is part of Eve´s comprehensive UAM strategy to position the company as a leader in the industry. The deployment of Eve aircraft across the Ascent network is subject to the parties entering into definitive final agreements.

Chorus Aviation executes aircraft leasing agreement with Emerald Airlines

Chorus Aviation has announced that Chorus Aviation Capital (CAC) has executed agreements to lease six ATR
72-600 aircraft to Emerald Airlines of Dublin, Ireland. CAC expects to deliver the first of these aircraft in August 2021, with the remaining units following in the next twelve months.

“We couldn’t be happier with our partnership with Chorus Aviation Capital and look forward to taking delivery of our first six ATR72-600s. The ATR72 is an essential part of our strategy to offer high-frequency, convenient, and affordable air travel across Ireland and the U.K.,” said Conor McCarthy, founder and Chief Executive of Emerald Airlines. “ATRs have proven themselves in tough environments, featuring unrivalled performance, leading edge comfort, and an unmatched reliability. These are the right aircraft for our passengers and our airline, and will be a great asset to our company.”


Delta Air Lines signs transformative agreement with Travelport

Delta Air Lines and Travelport have announced a transformative global distribution agreement, designed to further enhance value-generation for the entire travel retailing eco-system, including travel management companies, agencies, corporations, and travelers. The customer experience and value-based, multi-year content distribution agreement gives Travelport-connected travel buyers simplified access to Delta’s enriched content through the Travelport+ platform with enhanced retailing capability to better understand, compare and customize offers for travelers.

Travelport continues to evolve its worldwide retailing platform, Travelport+, with the next generation retailing tools and merchandising capabilities that provide long-term value to the travel agency channel. An intelligent, multi-product display gives Travelport-connected buyers the ability to easily access the wide array of available products from all of Travelport’s global air partners, compare those to find the best options, and select the right choice for their customers.

“This new agreement emphasizes the shared commitment of both Travelport and Delta to improve the way airline products are retailed and make it easier for agents to help travelers choose offers that deliver the most value to them,” said Jason Clarke, Chief Commercial Officer, Travel Partners at Travelport. “We look forward to continually evolving and delivering the tools that Delta and all of our travel partners need to effectively reach and engage the entire spectrum of buyers.”

Delta’s omni-channel, customer-centric approach invests across all channels to provide consumers with an elevated shopping experience within their preferred channel. This emerging approach to retail transformation will create value for all stakeholders in the ecosystem by enhancing traveler experiences and expanding customer choice.


Copa Airlines upgrades 737NG fleet with Collins Aerospace wheels and brakes

Copa Airlines has selected Collins Aerospace to retrofit its fleet of Boeing 737NG aircraft with new wheels and carbon brakes. The award marks the largest wheel and carbon brake upgrade Collins has ever performed for a Latin American airline.

Collins’ 737NG brake features the company’s advanced DURACARB® carbon friction material that delivers an average 35% longer brake life, allowing for decreased maintenance time and increased cost savings. The 737NG brake also includes Collins’ HTx® oxidation protection system, providing improved thermal oxidation protection and resistance to damaging runway deicers. Collins wheels and carbon brakes have been selected on more than 3,000 737NG and 737 MAX aircraft to date.

“As one of the largest airlines in Latin America operating many long-haul flights on our Boeing 737-800, we need wheels and brakes that are dependable and a service provider with a worldwide support network we can count on,” said Rafael Samudio, vice president, Technical Operations for Copa Airlines. “Collins provides us not only both, but also with an opportunity to improve in our cost control efforts.”


easyJet appoints Stephen Hester as director and chair designate

easyJet has appointed Stephen Hester as a director and chair designate. Hester will join the Board as a non-executive director on September 1, 2021, and then he will succeed John Barton as the company’s chair on December 1, 2021, at which point Barton will stand down from the Board having completed nearly nine years as Chairman.

Hester is a highly strategic and successful leader with more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience at major businesses, bringing a strong track record of value creation and listed board experience. He has served as Chief Executive of RSA Insurance Group from February 2014 to May 2021, as Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Chief Executive of British Land, and Chief Operating Officer of Abbey National, as well as holding a number of senior executive roles at Credit Suisse First Boston in London and New York. He currently serves as a Senior Independent Director of Centrica having previously held a senior non-executive position as Deputy Chairman of Northern Rock.

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