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Monday, November 1st, 2021

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Chaos as American Airlines forced to cancel 1,500 flights over the weekend and delay a further 1,000

A combination of bad weather and staff shortages forced American Airlines to cancel 367 flights on Friday, 551 on Saturday, and 634 on Sunday, blaming a combination of bad weather and staff shortages.

"With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences," the airline said in a statement, also advising that two days of severe winds in Dallas-Fort Worth, its largest hub, sharply reduced arrival capacity.

With airlines having pared back on staffing levels to minimise running costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in demand for air travel has resulted in numerous instances of staff shortages. American Airlines has confirmed that it is increasing its staffing across all operations, with nearly 1,800 flight attendants returning from leave and more than 600 newly hired flight attendants joining the carrier by the end of December.

Earlier in October Southwest Airlines cancelled approaching 2,400 flights over a three-day period, laying the blame on a combination of unfavourable weather, limited staffing in Florida and issues with air traffic in Florida.

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Ryanair posts first half loss of €48 million

Ryanair has released that first half (H1) scheduled revenues have increased 61% to €1.27 billion as traffic jumped 128% from 17.1 million to 39.1 million (at a 79% load factor). The COVID disruption of Easter traffic, the delayed relaxation of EU travel restrictions into May/June, and the uncertainty caused by the UK’s traffic light system this summer and the close-in nature of bookings required price stimulation – resulting in average fares of just €33 (down 30% on H1 last year).  Ancillary revenue continued its strong performance, generating over €22.50 per passenger, as guests choose priority boarding and reserved seating. Total revenue increased by over 80% to €2.15 billion in H1. Ryanair reported a H1 loss of €48 million, compared to a PY H1 loss of €411 million.

While sectors and traffic more than doubled, operating costs increased by just 63% to €2.20 billion, driven primarily by lower variable costs such as aircraft, airport & handling, route charges and fuel.  Lower costs, coupled with rising load factors, led to a marked reduction in cost per passenger (ex-fuel) to €38.  Ryanair expects to see further improvements in costs as its new, lower cost, more fuel-efficient aircraft deliver and EU countries (such as Ireland, Spain and Italy) rollout COVID recovery incentive schemes.

Ryanair's fuel requirements are 80% hedged for the fourth quarter of full-year 2022 (Q4 FY22) (50% jet swaps at US$580, with the balance hedged with caps at US$750 per met. tonne).  H1 FY23 is 80% hedged (60% jet swaps at US$620 and 20% caps at US$715) and H2 FY23 is 60% hedged at US$625.  Carbon credits are fully hedged for FY22 and 70% hedged for FY23 at €24 and €40 per EUA respectively.

Vietjet and Rolls-Royce sign US$400 million deal for modern aircraft engines

Vietjet and Rolls-Royce have signed an agreement to provide engines and engine services for the airline’s coming wide-body fleet with a total value of approximately US$400 million.

The Trent 700 is the only engine specifically designed for the carrier's new wide-body aircraft and is widely recognised for its outstanding efficiency and reliability. Since its launch in 1995, the Trent 700 has logged more than 60 million hours in service.

With a comprehensive network in Vietnam and Asia Pacific, Vietjet looks to further expand its wings across continents thanks to its new and modern fleet in the coming time.

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CAE to acquire Sabre’s AirCentre airline operations portfolio

CAE and Sabre Corporation have announced an agreement for CAE to acquire Sabre’s AirCentre airline operations portfolio (AirCentre) – a highly valuable suite of flight and crew management and optimisation solutions. The agreement, which is valued at US$ 392.5 million excluding post-closing adjustments, includes the Sabre AirCentre product portfolio, related technology and intellectual property as well as the transfer of AirCentre’s highly talented workforce. AirCentre generated approximately US$150 million revenue in the 2019 calendar year (pre-pandemic), and approximately US$55 million EBITDA for the same period. The closing of the transaction is expected in the first quarter of calendar 2022 and is subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.

The acquisition will further expand CAE’s reach across its broad customer base beyond pilot training and establish the company as a technology leader in the growing marketplace for industry-leading, digitally enabled flight and crew operations solutions. CAE expects that the transaction will be mid-single-digit percentage EPS accretive, and even higher free cash flow accretive, for CAE within the first-year post-closing.

Boeing breaks ground for new MRO facility in Jacksonville

Boeing has begun construction of a new 370,000 ft² maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility located at Cecil Airport that, once complete, will support Boeing’s ability to deliver readiness outcomes for US government customers.

The facility will include eight new hangars, additional workspace and offices where Boeing maintainers, engineers and data analysts will support US Navy and Air Force aircraft. The facility’s close proximity to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Boeing’s Training Systems Centre of Excellence in west Jacksonville, and local academic institutions make it a leading location for the development and delivery of innovative product support, underpinned by collaborative research and engineering.

“With this physical growth comes the ability to meet the evolving needs of our nation’s servicemen and women,” said Ted Colbert, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services. “The Boeing team in Jacksonville are experts at performing complex military aircraft modifications, and we’re excited to partner with our customer to tackle what’s next in the MRO space, like using data analytics to help minimise aircraft downtime, or applying digital tools to optimise and integrate our support approach.”

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First A319neo takes to the skies with 100% sustainable aviation fuel

Airbus, Dassault Aviation, ONERA, the French Ministry of Transports and Safran have launched the first in-flight study of a single-aisle aircraft running on unblended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

During the flight test over the Toulouse region on October 28, one CFM LEAP-1A engine of an Airbus A319neo test aircraft operated on 100% SAF. Initial results from the ground and flight tests are expected in 2022.

The unblended SAF is provided by Total Energies. It is made from Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA), which primarily consists of used cooking oil, as well as other waste fats. HEFA is made of paraffinic hydrocarbons and is free of aromatics and sulfur. Approximately 57 tonnes of SAF will be used for the entire test campaign. It is produced in Normandy close to Le Havre, France. The 100% SAF will also be utilised for compatibility and engine operability studies on the Safran Helicopters Arrano engine used on the Airbus Helicopters H160, which are expected to start in 2022.

Airbus, in collaboration with DLR, is responsible for characterising and analysing the impact of 100% SAF on ground and in-flight emissions. Safran focuses on compatibility studies related to the fuel system and engine adaptation for commercial and helicopter aircraft and their optimisation for various types of 100% SAF fuels. Safran will perform LEAP engine ground tests with 100% SAF at its Villaroche facilities later this year to complete analysis. ONERA is supporting Airbus and Safran in analysing the compatibility of the fuel with aircraft systems and will be in charge of preparing, analysing and interpreting test results for the impact of 100% SAF on emissions and contrail formation. Dassault Aviation is contributing to the material and equipment compatibility studies and verifying 100% SAF biocontamination susceptibility.

The study – known as VOLCAN (VOL avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux) – contributes to global decarbonisation efforts currently underway across the entire aeronautical industry, and is benefiting from a financing of the France Relance recovery plan, the part thereof dedicated to the decarbonisation of aviation, which is implemented by DGAC under the supervision of Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, French Minister of Transports. The study’s ultimate goal is to promote the large-scale deployment and use of SAF, and certification of 100% SAF for use in single-aisle commercial aircraft and the new generation of business jets.

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Air Transat appoints Sonia Kurek as new Commercial Director of UK, Ireland and GSA Markets

Canadian leisure airline Air Transat, has announced the appointment of Sonia Kurek as its new Commercial Director of UK, Ireland and GSA Markets.

Joining Air Transat on November 1, 2021, Kurek will lead the airline’s global team to develop its commercial strategy, including all sales and marketing activity across every distribution channel. She will lead revenue responsibility in markets across Europe and the Americas, including the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Greece, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Haiti.

Kurek joins Air Transat from British Airways, where she first started in 2004 as a Corporate Account Manager, looking after corporates and TMCs. Several promotions followed, culminating in the role of Sales Manager – Specialists Markets at the airline, where she managed the distribution of a varied portfolio and needs of customers including Groups, MICE, Retail/OTA, Cruise, Sports, Students, Tour Operators and Specialist Agents.

MENA Cargo signs charter agreement with euroAtlantic Airways

MENA Cargo has signed its first strategic partnership with euroAtlantic Airways. Portugal-based euroAtlantic Airways will supply aircraft to support MENA Cargo’s global strategy in expanding operations in SE Asia, Europe and the USA.

The one-year charter agreement has been signed for a Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, both of which are P2F, with the likelihood of more aircraft being added soon. MENA Cargo and euroAtlantic Airways signed the partnership agreement at the GITEX Global tech event in Dubai.

Thailand readies itself for influx of tourists with airport dry-run

Having lost an estimated US$50 billion a year in revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Thailand is readying itself for the rebooting of its previously strangled tourist industry now the country is once again open, albeit for vaccinated travellers.

Not so much a lack of demand but tight restrictions for those wishing to visit Thailand saw visitor numbers plummet to just 100,000 for 2021, compared to 40 million a year before the pandemic. To all intents and purposes Thailand’s holiday industry has been on an 18-month hiatus which saw the loss of approximately 3 million tourism-related jobs.

As part of preparing the country for an influx of tourists, the country’s main gateway, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, has carried the simulated arrival of a planeload of visitors in order to test new electronic screening measures. “All the passengers will get their QR code checked by the Department of Disease Control,” said Kittipong Kittikachorn, the airport’s general manager. “It will include all the details about insurance, vaccine certificate, or hotel booking.” From November 1, vaccinated visitors from eligible countries, including Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Australia, China, Japan and Singapore, will be allowed to skip quarantine, providing they have negative COVID-19 tests.
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