Airbus has begun airline crew training for its A350XWB customers about six months ahead of the new twin-aisle twinjet’s entry into service, scheduled for late this year, according to chief test pilot Peter Chandler, who flew the aircraft on its maiden flight in June 2013. He reports that the training syllabus has been developed and that the first A350 pilot course was under way last month, with access to a full flight simulator. Launch customer Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have received demonstration flights.
The U.S. Congress would have a say in White House plans to open customs pre-clearance facilities in foreign countries under legislation a House committee passed on June 11. Airline industry groups, which last year opposed but failed to prevent the opening of such a facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, appear to have accepted the legislation even as news surfaced of U.S. plans to open a pre-clearance facility in Dubai.
At face value, the recent acquisition of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) from Mubadala Development Co. by Etihad Airways is straightforward portfolio realignment between two state-owned entities in the United Arab Emirates.
SriLankan Airlines appears poised to expand its reach into the neighboring Indian air transport market after becoming the 14th member of One World alliance late last month. The move is a boost to a country trying to bounce back after a 25-year civil war and also makes SriLankan the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to gain admission into a global airline alliance—ahead of rival operators in the far larger Indian market.
On April 1 Switzerland’s Etihad Regional took delivery of the first of four 68-seat ATR 72-500s recently acquired under a new lease agreement with Nordic Aviation Capital. The deal, which calls for final delivery next month, will see Etihad Regional boost its fleet to 12 airplanes, including eight 50-seat Saab 2000s operated by Darwin Airline before Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways took a 33-percent stake in the Lugano-based carrier in January.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced first destinations and unveiled premium cabin configurations for its coming Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 widebodies on May 4. The Gulf carrier plans to start service of both aircraft types in December.
Etihad Airways on Tuesday announced its strongest ever passenger and cargo volumes for a first quarter, just as its negotiations for a 49-percent stake in Alitalia regain momentum. The airline, whose bid for a piece of Alitalia marks yet another effort to expand its already considerable global influence, logged $1.4 billion in total revenues during the three-month period, marking a year-on-year increase of 27 percent.
Middle Eastern charter and scheduled service operator Rotana Jet plans to more than double its fleet by 2016. At the Air Expo show at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport, where Rotana Jet is based, the company said that over the next two years it will add at least seven aircraft to the five it currently operates. However, most of the expansion for now is focused on the scheduled part of its operation.
Etihad Airways appears close to making a final decision as to whether or not to buy an equity stake in Alitalia. Speaking during a March 3 conference call about the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s latest quarterly financial results, CEO James Hogan confirmed that Etihad has entered the final stage of due diligence in evaluating the struggling Italian flagcarrier.
Officials from Etihad Airlines and the United Arab Emirates, where the carrier is based, are still investigating last week’s arson incidents aboard a Boeing 777 that departed Melbourne, Australia, for Abu Dhabi in which a number of smoke alarms were activated in toilets. Although no one was injured, Flight EY416 did make a precautionary landing in Jakarta, Indonesia, after smoke was detected pouring from two toilets aboard the aircraft. No one was arrested in Jakarta and the flight departed after a complete search of the aircraft, all passengers and all carry-on luggage.
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