Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways took the first step toward confronting the formidable threat of the recent British Airways-American Airlines pairing as regulators approved Delta’s acquisition of Singapore Airlines’ 49-percent stake in the UK carrier last week. The acquisition means that Virgin Atlantic and Delta have cleared a major hurdle in their effort toward forming a full joint venture, an antitrust review of which the U.S. Department of Transportation expects to complete during this year’s third quarter.
Air Transport and Cargo
News and issues relating to international air transport and cargo carriers, national airlines and regional airlines, including aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
Unspecified and apparently last-minute computer software problems prompted Bombardier to scrap its end-of-June target for first flight of the CSeries, the company announced last Wednesday. It now expects first flight to happen by the end of this month.
ILFC, a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group and one of the world’s largest aircraft lessors, preaches diversification in terms of aircraft and engine purchases, geographical distribution of its fleet and in the forms of leasing and financial programs it employs. Its Airbus A320 orders, which number 769 following additions at last month’s Paris Air Show, perhaps best reflect the company’s philosophy, notwithstanding the calculated risk it took when it signed as the A320neo’s launch customer.
European turboprop manufacturer ATR and German maintenance specialist Rheinland Air Service (RAS) on June 10 signed a service and collaboration agreement appointing RAS as a new member of ATR’s network of partner maintenance centers. Rheinland’s facility in Monchengladbach specializes in the heavy maintenance of ATR airframes.
ATR operators in Europe now number about 60. RAS concentrates on versions of the ATR 42 and the ATR 72, while also offering services on the Boeing 737, Airbus A319 and Bombardier and Fokker models.
Qatar Airways placed a firm order for a pair of Boeing 777-300ERs and signed a commitment for another seven on the opening day of the Paris Air Show. Boeing places the value of the nine airplanes at $2.8 billion, based on list prices. Also holding an outstanding order for seven 777s, Qatar Airways plans to increase the size of its present fleet of 35 Boeing 777s to 51.
General Electric GE90-115Bs power the 777-300ER. GE places the value of the engine commitment at $600 million.
Airliner orders have kept flowing at the Paris Air Show, with a flurry of late orders from Wednesday and throughout Thursday morning. Airbus was again the main beneficiary as leasing group Hong Kong Aviation Capital ordered 40 A320neos and 20 A321neos in a deal worth $6.4 billion. United Airlines ordered 10 A350-1000s and upgraded 25 -900 options to firm purchases of the larger -1000 in a $4.4 billion contract.
The 2013 Paris Air Show is on track to be the one of the highest-value air shows ever in terms of new business announcements. A brief analysis by AIN showed that by the end of yesterday sales on the civil side alone had already topped $165 billion. This total covered airliners, helicopters, business aircraft and engines, but excluded any associated service contracts. It included a lot of as-yet unconfirmed options and commitments, but AIN did exclude any previously announced business (where the customer identity had simply been confirmed).
A new firm order for seven E190 airliners from Venezuela’s Conviasa led Embraer’s commercial activity here yesterday. The deal involved a conversion of options from an order placed in July 2012 and raised Conviasa’s firm order count to 13 E190s. It still holds options for another seven.
Embraer also identified Japan Airlines as the customer for an order for four more E170s. With that deal, JAL has now placed firm orders for 15 E170s.
Boeing has shifted its 737 Max schedules to reflect first delivery of the Max 8 to Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017, as early as six months ahead of the original plan, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager Scott Fancher revealed here in Paris yesterday. As a result, schedules for the Max 9 and Max 7 would also shift by at least a quarter. The company expects the program to reach firm design configuration in July. “The risks are understood, they’re being managed effectively and we have no serious technical issues to deal with,” said Fancher.
Boeing fired the starting pistol on the much-anticipated launch of the 787-10 here yesterday, in the process collecting order commitments for 102 airplanes from five customers across Europe, Asia and North America. Air Lease, United Airlines, GE Capital Aviation Services, British Airways and Singapore Airlines form the group of launch customers.