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Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

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JetBlue ramps up pressure in battle for Spirit Airlines

JetBlue Airways Corp (JetBlue) has substantially increased its offer for ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines (Spirit), ahead of this Friday’s shareholder vote with respect to Frontier Group Holdings' (Frontier) offer for Spirit.

JetBlue is trying to woo Spirit’s current staff with the promise of better pay and benefit, additional jobs, no furloughs and improved career development, despite Frontier’s pledge to increase job numbers by 10,000 by 2026 and no job losses with their proposed merger. However, the main element of JetBlue’s revised offer is an increase in the reverse break-up fee in the event that any accepted offer by the Spirit board is subsequently vetoed by regulators for antitrust reasons.

Recently, Frontier increased its reverse break-up ‘sweetener’ to US$250 million, topping JetBlue’s US$200 million. However, JetBlue has now increased its reverse break-up fee offer by US$150 million to US$350 million. Under JetBlue's revised terms, Spirit shareholders would receive US$31.50 per share in cash, comprising US$30 at the deal's close and prepayment of US$1.50 from a raised reverse break-up fee soon after Spirit shareholders vote to approve a deal. Consequently, its offer is now worth US$3.4 billion.

The major sticking point that concerns Spirit is the existing problem being faced by JetBlue in relation to the Justice Department suing the carrier to unwind its partnership with American Airlines, known as the “Northeast Alliance partnership.” JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes told CNBC the airline had made "unprecedented divestiture commitments" to win regulatory approval. "We need the Spirit board to seriously consider our offer," he said.

While Spirit may currently remain committed to the deal with Frontier, industry sources have commented that it may have to look more seriously at JetBlue’s new offer if it comes under undue pressure from major institutional shareholders. (£1.00 = US$1.25 at time of publication).

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ExecuJet MRO Services Middle East receives India’s DGCA approval for Falcon 2000 'Classic' aircraft

ExecuJet MRO Services Middle East has received approval from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to perform line and base maintenance on Falcon 2000 ‘Classic’ aircraft.

‘Classic’ refers to the first model of Falcon 2000, which is equipped with a Collins Proline 4 Avionics System and powered by CFE738 engines. CFE was a joint venture between General Electric and AlliedSignal (now Honeywell).

ExecuJet MRO Services’ Middle East facility is already approved by India’s DGCA to work on various types of aircraft registered in India, such as: Falcon 7X, Falcon 8X, Falcon 900C/EX/EASy and Falcon 2000EASy models. This latest DGAC approval adds the Falcon 2000 'Classic' to the list of capabilities.

Eve and Falcon Aviation Services to introduce eVTOL flights in Dubai

In April 2022, Eve and Falcon Aviation Services (Falcon), a business aviation services operator in the Middle East and Africa region, have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for up to 35 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. With deliveries expected to start in 2026, the partnership will introduce the first eVTOL touristic flights from the Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Eve and Falcon will work together with local stakeholders and authorities to support developing the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Captain Ramandeep Oberoi, Chief Operating Officer of Falcon, said: “We are ecstatic to partner with Eve and be the first operator of eVTOL in Dubai and the MENA region. The launch of this concept fully aligns with the Smart Dubai vision and will contribute to positioning Dubai as a global leader in sustainable Urban Air Mobility transportation. Falcon is actively engaged in Urban Air Mobility emergence and committed to delivering an effective and sustainable new urban transportation mode and providing the community with better and faster solutions. We are particularly proud to take a new step in the UAE, in a project that will be revolutionary for sustainable urban mobility.”

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Terminal 4 at Heathrow will reopen to travellers on June 14

On June 14, Terminal 4 will reopen to travellers for the first time in over two years as part of Heathrow's long-standing plan to ramp up airport capacity ahead of the summer. Qatar Airways will be the first to move, followed by around 30 airlines over the following month. 

The move will allow Terminal 4 airlines more check in space and stand capacity as well as access to their premium facilities and will also free up space in Terminals 2, 3 and 5 ahead of the summer peak. Over the last two years, Heathrow has taken the opportunity to refurbish many parts of Terminal 4, including upgrading toilets, air conditioning and hold baggage screening machines. 

Local buses, Piccadilly Line underground services and the Elizabeth line will operate into T4 from June 14, to provide easy access for passengers and colleagues. A wide range of retail, food and beverage outlets will be available, and more will open over the summer as airline occupancy increases.

Overall, the ramp up plan is on track, though it is not always easy to balance supply and demand during this intense recovery phase. Heathrow Airport is recruiting up to 1,000 new security officers and other colleagues and supporting airlines and handlers in its recruitment programmes. Heathrow has increased its customer service team to help manage queues in check in, make sure passengers are ready for security and make sure people can catch their flights.

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Saab receives order for studies on future fighter aircraft development

Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, relating to future fighter aircraft development. The contract includes studies on future combat air capabilities.

The study is preparatory in nature and its purpose is to widen the work on how future combat air capabilities can be developed and realised. The order value is approximately SEK 250 million.

“I am very pleased that we have received this order, which enables development of future capabilities. It means that we can intensify our work to develop new concepts, technologies and other endeavours required to achieve relevant operational capability and which will prepare the future for Saab’s fighter technologies,” said Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and head of Saab’s Aeronautics business area.

3TOP Aviation acquires two B737NGs

3TOP Aviation Services (3TOP), a fast-growing aviation asset acquisition and management company specialising in aftermarket inventory support solutions, has announced the acquisition of two Boeing 737-900 aircraft bearing MSN 33646 and 33648, to support growing demand from its global customer base.

Chris Emechete, CEO at 3TOP, comments: “With the pandemic now increasingly in our rear-view mirror, we’re seeing pent-up demand for travel fast translating into growing demand for airframe and engine material on a number of aircraft platforms, including the 737NG. This acquisition, combined with our other commitments on this platform, will help 3TOP keep B737NG operators flying worldwide and maintain our position as a strong and reliable industry source for airframes, engines and their constituent material across a select number of aircraft platforms.”

The airframes will be disassembled in Tarmac, France and used to facilitate strategic support programmes with 3TOP’s worldwide network of customers. The associated CFM56-7B engines will augment 3TOP’s expanding engine trading, leasing and material supply portfolio.

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Finnair reports clear improvement in most May passenger traffic figures

Finnair carried 778,300 passengers in May, which was 840.3% more than in May 2021. The number of passengers in May 2022 was 14.4% more than in April 2022 (month-on-month figures are not fully comparable as there was one fewer day in April).

The overall capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK), increased in May by 542.4% year-on-year and by 5.0% month-on-month. Finnair operated, on average, 261 daily flights (cargo-only included), which was 301.5% more than in May 2021 and 10.6% more than in April 2022. Finnair's traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs), increased by 1,269.9% year-on-year and by 9.0% month-on-month. The Passenger Load Factor (PLF) increased by 32.8% points year-on-year and by 2.3% points month-on-month to 61.8%.

The ASK increase in Asian traffic was 185.6% year-on-year. Finnair restarted its North Atlantic passenger operations in March 2021 with flights from Helsinki to New York and only this route was operated in May 2021, whereas in May 2022, Finnair operated to many US destinations from both Finland and Sweden. Therefore, the North Atlantic capacity increased by 3,063.3% year-on-year. In European traffic, the ASKs were up by 785.5%. The ASKs in domestic traffic increased by 299.0%.

RPKs increased in Asian traffic by 1,232.8%, in North Atlantic traffic by as much as 7,050.0% due to the abovementioned reasons, in European traffic by 1,141.7% and in domestic traffic by 280.3% year-on-year.

The PLF was 55.0% in Asian traffic and 51.2% in North Atlantic traffic but both were supported by the strong cargo operations. The PLF was 69.5% in European traffic and 66.6% in domestic traffic.

Passenger numbers increased in Asian traffic by 1,198.4%, in North Atlantic traffic by as much as 6,318.4% due to the aforementioned reasons, in European traffic by 971.3% and in domestic traffic by 335.5% year-on-year.
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Tamar Jorssen
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Tamar