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.
Association of Asia Pacific Airlines
Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air last week signaled a major shift in its fleet plans, affecting orders with both Boeing and Airbus. The airline has already signed so-called amendment agreements with the manufacturers “to reduce long-term liability and meet future strategic needs.”
Gulf Air said negotiations with the airframers date back to last year, as high fuel prices, a general slump in air traffic and so-called regional developments forced the airline to suspend service to a number of destinations in a bid to preserve its ongoing viability.
Bombardier delivered the first of six CRJ1000 regional jets ordered by Asia-Pacific launch customer Garuda Indonesia during an October handover ceremony at the manufacturer’s plant in Mirabel, Quebec. The Indonesian flag carrier also plans to fly 12 more CRJ1000s through a third-party lease agreement and holds options on 18 more aircraft of the same type.
The FAA will implement new wake turbulence standards on at 1100Z on November 1 starting at Memphis International Airport. Other U.S. airports are expected to see the new standards applied during 2013-2014 under the joint FAA/Eurocontrol RECAT program (revising wake turbulence categories to gain capacity).
As oil and gas wells overflow in Kazakhstan, Air Astana–the national carrier of the newly enriched former Soviet republic–is looking deep into Asia to expand its network. Its inclusion on the European Union blacklist, which frustrates its ambitions to expand west, lies at the heart of its strategy. Air Astana’s discussions over a code-share partnership with Royal Jordanian, which follows an analogous strategy, is no coincidence.
Fuel efficiency and its effect on the useful life of aging aircraft is a dominant factor in the thinking of aircraft leasing companies, which are increasingly helping credit-squeezed carriers to refresh their fleets. Their presence in the market for airliner acquisition has continued to grow in the last two decades, with operating leases now thought to account for almost 40 percent of total deals today.
American Airlines said October 12 it will add the same safety locking mechanism to the seats on 49 of the company’s Boeing 767s that were used to secure seats aboard the 48 Boeing 757s the airline grounded last week. The airline plans to continue flying the 767s each day and repairing them at night when they undergo regular maintenance. The work is expected to take another 10 days to complete.
Alaska Airlines has placed a firm order for 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 17 MAX 9s and thirteen 737-900ERs, the Seattle-based airline and Boeing announced today. Worth $5 billion at list prices, the contract covers the largest order in Alaska Airlines’ history and raises the carrier’s firm order count for 737s to 75.
The pilots of American Eagle voted on Monday to ratify a tentative agreement reached last month between their Air Line Pilots Association bargaining committee and airline management. Seventy percent of participating pilots voted in favor of the agreement. Of the airline’s some 3,000 pilots, 85 percent cast ballots.
American Airlines officially grounded 47 of its fleet of 102 Boeing 757s last Thursday for faulty cabin seats. Earlier in the week, American said the carrier believed it had identified faulty clamps as the cause of seats breaking loose on as many as six of its 757s, some in flight.