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Monday, October 11th, 2021

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Tata buys back Air India for US$2.4bn 89 years after it founded the airline

India’s largest conglomerate, Tata Sons (Tata), has acquired the country’s government-owned, debt-ridden carrier, Air India, having outbid SpiceJet to return the carrier to the private sector. It is understood that Tata will pay US$2.4 billion, (INR180 billion), while SpiceJet had offered INR151 billion. Tata will absorb INR153 billion of the carrier’s current debt of INR615 billion.

Air India was founded in 1932 by Tata and was taken over by the Indian Government in 1953. Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, said in a tweet: “The Tata Group winning the bid for Air India is great news! While admittedly it will take considerable effort to rebuild Air India, it will hopefully provide a very strong market opportunity to the Tata Group’s presence in the aviation industry.”

During the previous ten years Air India has run at a substantial loss and has suffered from overly bureaucratic management and political interference as privately owned low-cost carriers gained traction in the market. The carrier operates on both domestic, medium-, and long-haul routes, while also operating budget airline Air Asia India in conjunction with Air Asia Berhad. It also operates Vistara, a full-service carrier, alongside Singapore Airlines. Tata will be acquiring a fleet of 121 Air India aircraft, together with 25 planes from its subsidiary Air India Express, which operates low-cost flights to more than 30 destinations in India, the Middle East and south-east Asia. (US$1.00 = INR75.13 at time of publication.)

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AviaAM Leasing delivers first 737-800 BCF to Bluebird Nordic

AviaAM Leasing, a global aviation holding company engaged in tailored aircraft leasing and trading services, has announced the delivery of the company’s first 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) to lessee – Icelandic air cargo transportation company Bluebird Nordic.

The 737-800 BCF underwent the P2F conversion works at the Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company (STAECO) facility in Jinan (TNA), China. A subsequent C Check and a repaint of the airframe to match the future lessee’s livery were performed at Kaunas, Lithuania.

The aircraft has already joined the fleet of Bluebird Nordic, an expanding Icelandic air cargo transportation company. As both companies are part of Avia Solutions Group, the synergy between AviaAM Leasing and Bluebird Nordic made it possible for the aircraft to reach the client in record time, while receiving the same high-quality service that customers of AviaAM Leasing are accustomed to.

SAS traffic figures for September show higher demand

Customer demand has increased further, and 1.1 million passengers flew with SAS in September. This is an increase of almost 90% compared to the same month last year. Capacity increased and was 74% higher compared with September last year. The load factor for September ended at 54%, which was 17 percentage points higher than the same month last year but is impacted by long-haul, which currently is driven primarily by cargo operations.

“Travel restrictions are easing up and we instantly see higher demand. We are very pleased we transported more than a million passengers for the third consecutive month, and we increase capacity accordingly. Uncertainty regarding the pandemic and future demand remains. SAS has to stay agile and flexible to be able to quickly respond to customers’ willingness to travel," says Anko van der Werff, President & CEO of SAS.

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Rolls-Royce, Federal Ministry, and state of Brandenburg strengthen development of hybrid-electric propulsion systems

Rolls-Royce has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labor and Energy Brandenburg (MWAE) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to advance the research and development of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the next generation of aviation in Brandenburg.

The partners agreed on the establishment of development, testing, and production facilities, creating an industrial eco-system for hybrid-electric aviation propulsion systems in Dahlewitz and the Lusatia region that is globally unique. The project will be supported by funding from the Structural Strengthening Act, the federal government's aeronautics research program, and other state funds.

Within the new program Rolls-Royce Deutschland has opened an operating facility in Cottbus and plans to expand its research and development capabilities in Dahlewitz. The company is leading the way on one of the world’s most comprehensive hybrid-electric aerospace development and integration programs for a wide range of applications, including technologies for small gas turbines.

With a horizon until 2027 and accompanied by positive funding decisions, Rolls-Royce Deutschland aims to make significant investments for the development project in Brandenburg, securing about 50 highly skilled jobs in the region already in 2021. The corresponding work will be split between the Dahlewitz site and the new facility, that will be based at the Center for Hybrid Electric Systems Cottbus (CHESCO) of Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. The technical management of the projects will be in Dahlewitz, while a high proportion of work for the development project will be carried out in Cottbus with support from Dahlewitz and from the company's world class electrical design teams based in Bavaria.

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Air Belgium takes delivery of first A330neo

Air Belgium, the full-service international destination carrier headquartered in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, has taken delivery of the first of two Airbus A330-900 aircraft.

The aircraft is configured with 286 seats in a three-class layout (30 comfortable lie-flat business class, 21 premium-class, and 235 economy-class seats) and is furnished with the Airbus Airspace Cabin. All seats are equipped with the latest-generation, in-flight entertainment system, on-board wifi, and mood lighting.

Air Belgium will deploy the aircraft on routes connecting Brussels to long-haul destinations.
The Belgian carrier currently operates an all-Airbus widebody fleet comprising A330-200Fs and A340-300s; the A340s will be gradually replaced by the A330neos.

Frontier Airlines retires final Airbus A319 aircraft

Frontier Airlines marked a significant fleet milestone with the retirement of its last Airbus A319 aircraft – tail N949FR - delivered to the company in 2006. The phase-out of the A319 is part of a fleet modernization plan by Frontier Airlines that includes a strong focus on operating newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The final A319 tail featuring Erma the Ermine flew with Frontier for more than 15 years. The A319 model aircraft, which the company first began flying in 2001, played a vital role in Frontier’s success for more than 20 years, providing efficient, safe and reliable service, including during the airline’s transition to an ultra-low-cost carrier.

Frontier operates one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft with an average age of only 4.1 years, including the largest A320neo fleet in North America. Moreover, with approximately 140 aircraft currently on order, Frontier’s modern fleet will continue to grow in the coming years, a testament to the company’s overall commitment to more sustainable, reliable and affordable flying.

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Honeywell forecasts quick rebound for business aviation

Honeywell’s 30th annual Global Business Aviation Outlook forecasts up to 7,400 new business jet deliveries worth us$238 billion from 2022 to 2031, up 1% in deliveries from the same ten-year forecast a year ago. In 2021, surveyed business jet operators reported a sharp increase in used jet purchase plans, 12% above last year’s report, equivalent to 800 additional used business aircraft. Business aircraft manufacturers also announced a strong increase in jet orders, indicating that the industry has almost completely shaken off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The increased demand for used jets is estimated at more than 6,500 units over the next five years, putting pressure on an already record low inventory and driving additional demand for new jets,” said Heath Patrick, President Americas Aftermarket, Honeywell Aerospace. “Our latest operator survey results support continued private jet usage growth, as more than 65% of respondents anticipate increased business jet usage in 2022. Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, flight hours have recovered and grown beyond pre-pandemic levels. The overall health of the business jet market is strong, and growth is expected to continue.”

Key findings in the 2021 Honeywell Global Business Aviation Outlook include: purchase plans for used jets show an increase in this year’s survey. Operators worldwide indicated that 28% of their fleet is expected to be replaced or expanded by used jets over the next five years, up 3 percentage points compared with survey results from 2020. Business jet deliveries in 2022 are expected to be up 10% from 2021 in terms of units billed.

The longer-range forecast through 2031 projects a 3% average annual growth rate of deliveries in line with expected worldwide long-term economic growth.

Five-year purchase plans for new business jets are down 2 percentage points compared with last year’s survey. This can be attributed to uncertainty around the COVID-19 Delta variant at the time of the survey. The decrease is driven by fewer replacements in the fifth year; however, fleet additions grew by 1 percentage point.

The sharp increase in demand for used jets, coupled with a lower-than-ever inventory of used aircraft available for sale, will inevitably drive additional demand for new-build business jets. Among those with purchase plans of new business jets over the next five years, 29% of purchases are expected to occur in the next two years. This is just 1 percentage point lower than last year’s survey.

Operators plan to make new jet purchases equivalent to about 14% of their fleets over the next five years as replacements or additions to their current fleet.

Larger-cabin, heavy aircraft classes are expected to account for more than 72% of all expenditures of new business jets in the next five years.

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Safran launches Landing Life™, single brand grouping all landing and braking system support services

Safran Landing Systems is launching Landing Life™, a single brand designed to promote and clarify its full range of customer support services for landing gears, wheels, brakes, and associated systems. All of these services have been grouped in a user-friendly customer portal.

Addressing operators, maintenance centers and leasing companies, Landing Life™ was designed around three main objectives: keep planes flying, reduce the total cost of ownership, and foster the sharing of expertise – all to maximize the user experience and customer satisfaction.

Using the intuitive Landing Life™ portal, customers can immediately identify the appropriate solution for their needs, request emergency assistance in AOG (Aircraft on Ground) situations, search for information by product or aircraft type, consult technical publications, make online reservations for training sessions, and contact Safran’s experts.

Landing Life™ also offers new digital services that facilitate access to the company’s experts, such as “Expert Link”, a video assistance application that allows the customer’s technicians, using a tablet or even just a smartphone, to consult Safran Landing Systems’ support teams on any issues they may have. Whether out on the tarmac or in the shop, all communications are via a secure link.

Advanced data analysis services, a key growth factor, allow the company’s experts to provide operational recommendations to operators. These recommendations help improve equipment management efficiency, reduce maintenance costs (especially based on predictive maintenance), and avoid flight cancellations.

Landing Life™ draws on a vast international network with nearly a dozen MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) centers, operating 24-7 in all main regions around the world, including a guaranteed response time within four hours in AOG situations.
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