Ailing Scandinavian carrier SAS will reduce its workforce by 6,000 employees, sell off its Widerøe regional subsidiary and centralize administrative functions in Sweden in return for an increased credit line from major shareholders and banks of 3.5 billion Swedish kronor ($525 million) through March 2015. The new revolving credit facility has yet to be approved by the parliaments of Sweden and Norway.
AIN Air Transport Perspective
Canadian air navigation service provider (ANSP) Nav Canada and Iridium Communications signed a joint venture agreement that will eventually give Nav Canada a controlling interest in the Aireon global, satellite-based aircraft surveillance system.
President Barack Obama closed the legislative loop on U.S. refusal to comply with the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) on November 27, when he signed S.1956, legislation that orders the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the carbon tax plan. The legislation also calls for the government “to conduct international negotiations to pursue a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions.”
The Asia Pacific Airlines Association (AAPA) has called for a shake-up of aviation security management in the region, arguing that the current approach–accounting for 25 percent of total airport costs–is inadequate.
Like many companies with high hopes for air transport growth in China, Honeywell Aerospace is counting on the country’s new leadership to step up a long-anticipated set of reforms, including moves to get the Chinese military to open vast chunks of airspace.
More evidence of capacity constraint among U.S. airlines appeared in a recent quarterly earnings report from one of the fastest-growing carriers in the country. Virgin America, which has seen annual available seat mile (ASM) growth average 28 percent for the past three years, has reconsidered its fleet expansion strategy and said it would move to cut the number of airplanes it plans to add over the rest of the decade.
Tough economic times are resulting in innovations by carriers in the Asia Pacific region looking beyond traditional business models through strategic realignments and new product offerings. Recent ground-breaking deals include Virgin Australia selling a 10-percent stake to Singapore Airlines (SIA) and buying 60 percent of Tiger Airways; the new partnership between Emirates Airline and Qantas; and Etihad Airways purchasing a 10-percent stake in Virgin Australia.
The FAA has extended for a second year an operational evaluation of pilot initiated climbs and descents using in-trail procedures (ITP) in Pacific Ocean airspace. The trial involves 12 United Airlines Boeing 747-400s flying between the U.S. West Coast and Australia and New Zealand. Having extended the evaluation to Aug. 15, 2013, the agency said that it is also holding “exploratory conversations” with ANA and Japan Airlines to include some of their aircraft in the process.
Regional airlines serve a vital purpose all over the world even where they mix with low-cost carriers. In the depths of southern Africa, one such carrier based in the landlocked country of Zambia is proving that a country with vast areas, connected by relatively poor roads and almost no rail connections, does need scheduled services to help its economy function. Proflight has survived in a country that saw national carrier Zambia Airways disappear in 1994, and the smaller replacement, Zambian Airways, went out of business in 2009.
Beyond an admission by China’s Comac that the development timetable for its new C919 narrowbody will be pushed back by a further delay of one or two years in the certification of its ARJ21 regional airliner, precise details on the program is progressing remain hard to pin down.