A steady rise in traffic and load factors might seem like good news for the airline delegates gathered at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Vienna from September 29 to October 1. But as airlines turn to “fierce cost cutting” to attract passengers, reality muted any calls for celebration during the three-day event.
European Low Fares Airline Association
UK regional carrier British European Airlines hopes to marshal more active support ofairframe manufacturers as it considers a larger, longer-range replacement for its BAe 146s.
Local politics–not economic necessity or distance from commercial centers–might influence the administration of Europe’s public-service obligation (PSO) air service contracts more than any single factor, according to an academic report for Scotland’s Highlands and Islands (H&I) regional authority.
While regional airlines in the U.S. enjoy something of a renaissance as a result of post-9/11 capacity restructuring, Europe’s regionals continue to register unspectacular traffic growth and progressively deteriorating yield performances. The reasons vary, but delegates at last month’s ERA spring conference in Barcelona more often than not pinned the blame on the rise of the discount fare segment.
Air Canada has converted to firm status a former tentative commitment for 15 new Bombardier CRJ700 Series 705s and 15 CRJ200s. The airline plans to start taking deliveries of CRJ200s this year, followed by the CRJ705s next year, the exact dates depending on the timing of its emergence from bankruptcy. The airline also holds a conditional order for 15 CRJ200s and options on another 45 airplanes.
Embraer gained FAA certification for the E195 last month, more than a year after it won certification for the 110-seat airliner from European and Brazilian authorities and delivered the first production example to launch customer Flybe of the UK.
JetBird, the planned low-cost air charter service, caused quite a stir at the 2006 EBACE exhibition when it ordered 50 of Embraer’s Phenom 100 very light jets and optioned another 50. Speaking exclusively to EBACE Convention News before this year’s show, JetBird managing director Paul Gearney confirmed that the order still stands and that the operator expects to begin flying in April 2009.
UK regional Flybe has completed acquisition of much of Manchester-based British Airways subsidiary BA Connect, receiving the business and some £130 million ($250 million) in exchange for granting British Airways a 15-percent stake in the enlarged operation. As it restructures the new grouping, Flybe will buy more Bombardier Q400 turboprops and Embraer E195s, said the Exeter-based low-fare regional.
In November, when SkyEurope began serving London and Paris from Budapest, Hungarian media mocked the carrier as fapados, meaning wooden bench–the painfully plain, rickety class of travel from communist days. The names never hurt them. So Hungary tossed regulatory stones at the bare-bones regional to break any advantage over its national carrier, Malev.
Bombardier Aerospace announced yesterday that Exeter, UK-based FlyBe has converted four options on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliners to firm orders. The contract is valued at about $100 million. Delivery of the four aircraft, coupled with the order for 20 Q400s announced January 27, will increase FlyBe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft. Yesterday’s contract increases orders for the Q400 to 151 aircraft.