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Friday, October 15th, 2021

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New low-cost airline Bonza to hit Australian skies next year

Australia is on course to become home to a new, low-cost carrier, Bonza, which should begin operations in the second quarter of 2022. The new carrier has not yet settled on whether it will be based in northern New South Wales or southern Queensland. The intention is for it to operate on currently badly served routes or ones not served by its competitors. Those leisure-driven routes will ultimately be decided in part based on the financial incentives offered by airports.

Speaking about Bonza’s entry into market, the carrier’s CEO commented in a telephone interview with Reuters news agency: "This is not 'me too'. We are not about stealing traffic from other carriers. This is about creating a brand-new market."

Bonza is anticipating it will begin to sell tickets in the first quarter of 2022 and will be applying for its operator’s license from the Australian aviation regulator. Bonza will be competing against the likes of Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia and Regional Express Holdings, though there is no independent low-cost carrier serving the Australian market at present. The new carrier is being backed by 777 Partners, a private American investment firm which has backed Canada’s Flair Airlines, also a low-cost carrier. 777 Partners placed a firm order for 24 Boeing 737 MAX planes back in March this year, with options for a further 60 of the jets. Bonza will commence service with two or three 737 MAX aircraft.

"We see huge potential in the Australian market to deliver the benefits and options that an independent low-fare airline brings," 777 Partners Managing Partner Josh Wander said in a statement. Tigerair Australia, once a competitor in that market and later bought by Virgin Australia, closed last year during the COVID-19 pandemic after reporting losses for multiple years.


Astronics to receive US$24 million in cash from combination of AMJP and asset sale

Astronics Corporation has closed on the sale of its facility in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for total consideration of US$9.1 million. Net proceeds were approximately US$8.7 million in cash. The company expects to record a gain in the fourth quarter of 2021 of approximately US$5.0 million. The sale was a result of the consolidation of the DME lighting and safety operations into its East Aurora, NY operations.

The company also confirmed that it entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program, or AMJP, for a grant of up to US$14.7 million. Astronics received the first installment of US$7.3 million under the grant in September. The company expects to receive a second installment in the range of US$5 million to US$6 million during the fourth quarter of 2021 and a final installment in the second or third quarter of 2022 upon final confirmation of meeting its grant commitments.

Astronics was required to make several commitments to qualify for the program, including a commitment not to furlough or lay off a defined group of employees during the period of performance. The grant benefit will be recognized ratably over a six-month performance period as an offset to cost of goods sold. The contribution to gross profit by quarter is expected to be US$1.1 million in the third quarter of 2021, US$7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 and US$6.2 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Pentagon veteran Heidi Grant to lead sales team for Boeing’s defense, space and government services portfolios

Heidi Grant, director of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), has been selected to lead Boeing’s defense, space and government services sales teams. She will join the company November 8, as Vice President of Business Development, leading the organization previously known as Global Sales and Marketing (GSM).

In her current role she is responsible for the administration and execution of U.S. Department of Defense security cooperation programs and activities involving defense articles, military training and other defense-related services. She began her U.S. Department of Defense career in 1989 and held key roles with the departments of the Navy and Air Force, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and two combatant commands with assignments from base to headquarters levels, including an overseas assignment.


British Airways to hire new cabin crews for summer 2022

British Airways will be opening its doors to new cabin crew recruits to work for the airline from Spring 2022 to help fly its summer schedule.

The airline has already contacted people in the company’s existing talent pools, which holds the details of people who left the business last year but have expressed an interest to return to the airline, when jobs are available.

In addition to the experienced crew members looking to return, the airline is also appealing to a broad range of people to create the most diverse crew workforce in its 100-year history.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO said: “After 18 long months of closed or restricted borders across the world, we are finally seeing a demand for travel return as countries start to open up and ease their restrictions. This means that we can finally get back to doing what we do best – flying our customers around the world. As we look ahead to next summer, we are excited to start welcoming brilliant new people and former colleagues back to the British Airways family.”

Pro Star Aviation achieves FAA Class IV rating

Pro Star Aviation, an innovative aerospace modification center, has successfully achieved its FAA Class IV rating. The new rating allows Pro Star to perform maintenance on aircraft over 12,500 GTOW. Adding a new classification of aircraft increases Pro Star's capabilities for ON-THE-FLY maintenance and additional services in-house. For over 20 years, Pro Star has worked extensively on mid-size aircraft such as the Challenger 600 series, Hawker 800 series, and as an authorized Pilatus Service Center the PC-24.

"Large Business Jet customers in the Northeast now have an additional option to bring their aircraft," stated Sean Peterson, General Manager at Pro Star Aviation. "Our team has extensive experience on these platforms to provide an unparalleled level of service."


Qantas strengthens balance sheet with sale of surplus Mascot land

The Qantas Group has entered into binding agreements with a consortium led by LOGOS Property Group for the sale of 13.8 hectares of land in Mascot for AU$802 million. Settlement of the vast majority of the lots is expected in the first half of this financial year, with the funds to be used to reduce debt and accelerate the airline’s recovery. The transaction remains subject to some conditions being met and further detail on the expected financial benefit of the sale will be provided with the Qantas Group’s financial results in February 2022.

The national carrier has also entered into discussions with LOGOS about potential future development options for the sites they are acquiring, including creation of a dedicated precinct for the airline, as well as the sale of an additional three hectares of land that adjoins some of the lots being sold. Qantas expects to complete the evaluation of these proposals in early 2022, and if an agreement is reached, this has the potential to raise the total value of the deal to more than AU$1 billion.

The sale of the largely underdeveloped land follows a three-month expression of interest process, which resulted in 18 bids from a range of Australian and international syndicates. A review of the Qantas Group’s national property footprint earlier this year made clear there is no long-term need for Qantas to develop the land, which is largely surplus to its operations.


Frontier Airlines selects Skywise Health Monitoring as future fleet performance tool

Frontier Airlines has become the latest North American operator to adopt Skywise Health Monitoring as its key future fleet performance tool under a five -ar contract covering 111 single-aisle aircraft.

Launched in 2019, Skywise Health Monitoring (SHM) gathers live diagnostic feeds from the aircraft through its ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System) link to the airline’s information system.

Frontier will use the solution for its A320-family fleet. Airbus’ SHM will support the airline’s maintenance and engineering teams by enabling real-time management of aircraft events and troubleshooting. This will help the airline in identifying, prioritizing, analyzing and handling in-service events, enabling quicker decision-making, and minimizing AOG risks.

Using the power of the Skywise aviation data platform, SHM collates and centralizes the alerts, flight-deck effects, maintenance messages etc., prioritizes them, correlates any faults with the relevant troubleshooting procedures, highlights operational impacts, provides the maintenance history of the system (from the logbook and MIS (Maintenance Information System) collected through Skywise Core and stored in the data lake), allowing effective tracking of the alerts.


Stratos invests in Universal Hydrogen

Stratos (Monaco) has announced its investment in Universal Hydrogen Co., the company leading the fight to decarbonize aviation through the adoption of hydrogen as a universal fuel. The investment is part of a funding round recently closed by Universal Hydrogen and was made via Stratos BeYoke Hydrogen fund I, along with a Japan-based financial partner.

Gary Fitzgerald, CEO of Stratos said "Decarbonization is an enormous challenge for our industry, not least because of the high energy needed to rapidly transport many people over long distances. With our growing team of technical and ESG specialists we have sifted through several developments – including electric/battery, hybrid, sustainable fuels - and have decided that hydrogen is one of the cleanest and most promising ways forward to help our industry meet climate targets. With their hugely experienced team, we are delighted to be investors in Universal Hydrogen and intend to build on our partnership by bringing innovative equipment financing solutions to help turn the dream of zero carbon flight into reality.”

Stratos is an aircraft investment specialist and asset manager with a substantial portfolio of leased aircraft, providing acquisition, re-marketing, advisory, and capital raising services to airlines, lenders and investors in large commercial aircraft. With a team of 25 people, Stratos manages a fleet of 43 large commercial jet aircraft.

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Tamar Jorssen
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