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Monday, September 13th, 2021

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Italy’s new ITA clear to take off without Alitalia baggage

Rising from the ashes of the now defunct Italian flag-carrying airline Alitalia, Italia Transporto Aero (ITA) has been given the all-clear by EU competition regulators to launch as a new Italian carrier but without having to repay some €900 million in illegal state loans granted to Alitalia. ITA will begin operations with approximately half of Alitalia’s fleet of aircraft, but it is being restricted in what parts of the failed Italian carrier it can take over in relation to handling and maintenance businesses. Alitalia is not expected to fully repay the government loans owing to a lack of assets. The Italian government granted Alitalia two loans worth a total of €900 million in 2017 and provided further funding of €400 million in 2019, the latter currently under investigation by the EU.

The European Commission's assessment of Alitalia's balance sheet at the time showed that it was unlikely the carrier would be able to generate sufficient funds to repay the loan, nor raise sufficient capital through the sale of assets to repay it. Consequently, the loans were classified as illegal state aid. EU Competition head Margrethe Vestager said in a statement: "The two public loans worth €900 million euros granted by Italy to Alitalia gave the company an unfair advantage over its competitors. They must now be recovered by Italy." The Commission also confirmed that Alitalia’s brand and loyalty program would be sold by open tender.

ITA is aiming to start flying on October 15 but will be employing a small percentage of original Alitalia staff. However, there have been many protests in Rome over layoffs from Alitalia and Andrea Cuccello, the head of CISL labor union stated that: "There must be no redundancies. All the (Alitalia) workers must be loaded on board,", adding that the government should extend a lay-off scheme for more than 7,500 workers for three years. The Italian government has earmarked €3 billion euros for ITA, but the Commission has only given permission for an initial €1.35 billion capital injection over the forthcoming three years.

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LATAM Group receives offers for exit financing that exceed US$5 billion each, expects to recover pre-pandemic profitability by 2024

LATAM Airlines Group S.A. and certain of its debtor affiliates in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States and Peru released its five-year business plan along with advances regarding its exit financing process today. This milestone marks one of the final stages before the presentation of its plan of reorganization. LATAM forecasts recovering 2019 profitability by 2024, and a 78% operational result increase by 2026 when compared to pre-crisis.

As part of its exit financing process, LATAM has received several offers to date from its most significant claimholders and its majority shareholders, each of which provides more than US$ 5 billion of new funds, reaffirming the market's confidence in LATAM.

LATAM Business Plan Highlights

The business plan includes a vision of the demand recovery, the fleet plan, and financial and operational projections through 2026, in addition to other information. In particular, the group forecasts a return to pre-pandemic capacity (measured in ASKs) by 2024 and a growth of 7% by 2026, compared to 2019, resulting from an estimated recovery of the domestic markets by 2022 and the international ones by 2024, in line with market consensus.

Airlink confirms selection of Rolls-Royce totalcare® for engine servicing

Rolls-Royce and Airlink have signed a TotalCare® service agreement for the AE3007 engines that power the South African airline’s fleet of Embraer ERJ135 aircraft. The agreement, which covers 28 aircraft, is an extension of service for a further 10 years, continuing the airline’s drive to maximise aircraft availability. 

Airlink CEO, Rodger Foster, said; “Airlink and Rolls-Royce have worked hand in hand since the introduction of the ERJ135 to our fleet in May 2001. We operate 28 ERJs with a pool of 64 AE3007-A1/3 engines. We are proud of the phenomenal reliability we have achieved from these engines which have underpinned Airlink’s industry leading on-time performance, which has consistently been above 97%. Our TotalCare service agreement has been key to the management of engine maintenance costs and to ensuring the economic sustainability of the ERJ135 type for the foreseeable future. We are delighted at the dependability of the Rolls-Royce team and their engines.” 

TotalCare is the flagship integrated engine service cover provided by Rolls-Royce. It is designed for predictive maintenance planning, as well as off-wing repair and overhaul activities for operators of Rolls-Royce aero engines. TotalCare transfers both time-on-wing and maintenance cost risks back to Rolls-Royce, as well as offering advanced engine health monitoring and future product enhancements. 

Aircraft covered by TotalCare achieve higher availability, increased long-term residual values, and benefit from the global Rolls-Royce Care Network; a large, capable and competitive engine service network that caters for the needs of engines at every point in their lifecycle.

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ECS Group appoints Adrien Thominet to Executive Chairman

CEO Adrien Thominet was recently appointed Executive Chairman of ECS Group, succeeding Bertrand Schmoll. He took over the Executive Chairman role on 01 August 2021.

Adrien Thominet has been with ECS Group for more than 25 years, becoming its COO in 2011 and then CEO in 2017. Over the past four years, ECS Group has seen enormous development, both in network and client base growth, as well as in innovation and technology. The world’s largest integrated GSSA which is driven by its credo to be “more than a GSSA”, has worked to disrupt and reinvent the traditional GSA concept, and to future-proof the ECS Group service portfolio. In this regard, it offers airline customers a Total Cargo Management (TCM) concept, alongside a wide range of “à la carte” services and abilities. By investing heavily in digitalisation, successfully introducing and adapting a range of inhouse business intelligence and training platform tools, ECS Group ensures complete alignment with the evolving needs of its airline customers. It has proven to be a valuable air cargo logistics partner not simply in its operational expertise, but also as a forward-thinking industry consultant. Today, it represents over 150 quality airlines of all sizes across the globe, and provides capacity support to around 10,000 freight forwarders. The Group has seen exponential development on all continents, and now numbers more than 1,200 employees across 167 subsidiaries in 50 countries within APAC, Europe, North America, and Latin America. In 2020, it transported a record 1,1 million tons of cargo.

“I am honoured to have been appointed Executive Chairman,” Adrien Thominet, ECS Group Executive Chairman, states. Given the disruption and challenges the aviation industry has recently faced with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an acute need for flexible, resource-efficient, expert business management solutions. This is precisely the kind of support that ECS Group strives to provide, Adrien Thominet underlines in his new function as Executive Chairman: “Today, more than ever, the air cargo industry is at a crossroads, and our ambition as the leading worldwide GSSA, is to provide the optimum support to our customers in this changing environment. We are therefore committed to continuously improving and developing innovative, sustainable, high value-added solutions and services to best serve them.” ECS Group’s intense digital, commercial, administrative, and organisational transformations over the past few years have culminated in a revised and enhanced product offering, along with an increased focus on sustainability going forward. “We will soon be publishing the results of our revised commercial direction with the launch of our Augmented GSA concept in the coming weeks,” he discloses.

Collins Aerospace unveils Lilac-UV, a new sanitizing light solution for aircraft interiors

Collins Aerospace, has unveiled Lilac-UV, an ultraviolet (UV) lighting solution to sanitize aircraft interiors nearly anywhere a light is installed inside an aircraft.

Lilac-UV emits a slight violet light that disinfects surfaces in seconds to minutes, depending on lamp configuration and specific pathogen. Lilac-UV can be applied in lavatories, galleys, flight decks, cargo bays and throughout the cabin, and can be set for scheduled cleanings or manual applications during or between flights. The sanitizing light, combined with other hygienic measures taken onboard aircraft, gives added peace of mind and protection to passengers while also reducing aircraft downtime for manual cleaning.

Lilac-UV uses technology developed by The Boeing Company as part of a licensing agreement granting Collins the ability to build on Boeing’s UV technology for in-flight operation.

The new Collins-developed sanitizing lighting system operates with an intelligent dosage controller – for scheduled cleanings and manual treatments – and an occupancy detector for enclosed spaces, like an airplane lavatory.

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Atlas Air Worldwide signs new five-year labor agreement with Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots

Atlas Air Worldwide has announced that its Atlas Air, Inc. subsidiary has completed a new joint collective bargaining agreement (JCBA) for its Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots, who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

The five-year JCBA is one of the last major steps in completing Atlas Air’s merger with Southern Air, which it acquired in 2016.

The JCBA was achieved through a contractual merger process, which included negotiations followed by binding arbitration to resolve remaining open items. Under this new long-term agreement, Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots will receive higher pay and enhanced benefits as part of the overall competitive package.

“At Atlas, our people are our greatest strength, and our more than 2,500 pilots deserve this new agreement that provides them with significantly improved pay and benefits,” said John W. Dietrich, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide.

Pay increases will be effective in October, with the remaining terms and conditions to be implemented in the coming months in collaboration with the union. Once the new terms, conditions and timing of implementation are fully assessed, the company will provide an updated outlook.

GE Aviation awarded U.S. FAA CLEEN III funding for more sustainable aviation technologies

GE and the U.S. FAA will invest nearly $US 55 million over five years to accelerate development of a series of technologies for more sustainable aviation, including open fan engine architecture, electrification, noise-lowering technologies, and more, as well as ongoing research into alternative jet fuels through the FAA‘s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program. This is the third CLEEN award GE Aviation has received since 2010.

"GE Aviation has a robust pipeline of breakthrough technologies to help achieve our ambitious decarbonization goals for aircraft engines. This investment by the U.S. FAA brings us another step closer to introducing open fan, hybrid electric and new engine core technologies to our customers sooner, improving fuel efficiency and lowering carbon emissions from aviation,” said Arjan Hegeman, general manager of advanced technologies for GE Aviation.

GE Aviation and Safran in June 2021 launched a bold technology development program targeting more than 20% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to today’s most efficient engines. The CFM RISE* (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) Program will demonstrate and mature a range of new, disruptive technologies for future engines that could enter service by the mid-2030s. Funding from the CLEEN program supports research and development efforts for several of the most promising technologies to achieve CFM RISE Program goals for a major step-change reduction in carbon emissions for future, next-generation single-aisle aircraft engines.

United, Honeywell invest in new clean tech venture from Alder Fuels

United and Honeywell have announced a joint multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels – a cleantech company that is pioneering first-of-its-kind technologies for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at scale by converting abundant biomass, such as forest and crop waste, into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil that can be used to produce aviation fuel. When used together across the fuel lifecycle, the Alder technologies, coupled with Honeywell's Ecofining™ process, could have the ability to produce a carbon-negative fuel at spec with today's jet fuel. The goal of the technologies is to produce fuel that is a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

As part of the agreement, United is committing to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from Alder when produced to United's requirements. United's purchase agreement, which is one and a half times the size of the known purchase commitments of all global airlines combined, makes this easily the largest publicly announced SAF agreement in aviation history. United's purchase agreement with Alder also surpasses the previous record set by the airline in 2015 through its investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy with its option to purchase up to 900 million gallons of SAF.

"Since announcing our 100% green commitment in 2020, United has stayed focused on decarbonizing without relying on the use of traditional carbon offsets. Part of that commitment means increasing SAF usage and availability since it's the fastest way to reduce emissions across our fleet. However, to scale SAF as quickly as necessary, we need to look beyond existing solutions and invest in research and development for new pathways like the one Alder is developing," said United CEO Scott Kirby. "United has come further than any other airline making sustainable travel a reality by using SAF to power flights. Our leadership gives customers confidence that they are flying with an airline that recognizes the responsibility we have to help solve climate change."

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. forestry residues and agricultural residues alone could provide enough biomass energy to generate more than 17 billion gallons of jet fuel and displace 75% of U.S. aviation fuel consumption. If the U.S. were to broadly adopt regenerative agricultural practices, which capture more carbon in healthier soil compared to traditional methods, the U.S. could generate an additional seven billion gallons of SAF, which would completely replace the U.S.'s current fossil jet fuel consumption.
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