SATS wins Riyadh cargo concession: Singapore-based SATS announced that its subsidiary, SATS Saudi Arabia Company, has won a 25-year cargo terminal concession in King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh cargo terminal will be the second cargo operation in Saudi Arabia for SATS, after its first win in King Fahd International Airport in Dammam in 2016. Construction of the SATS Cargo Terminal in KKIA will take place over two phases with the first phase expected to be completed in mid-2022. Upon full completion, this cargo terminal will have the capacity to handle up to 600,000 tonnes of cargo annually. There will also be a purpose-built cold-chain facility for the special handling of temperature sensitive perishables and a dedicated lane for pharmaceutical products.
VietJet announces five new routes with Japan: VietJet said it has launched five new routes between Vietnam and Japan. Following the success of numerous routes that connect the two countries’ major cultural, economic and political centres, Vietjet’s five new routes include Hanoi, HCMC and Da Nang to Nagoya (Chubu Centrair International Airport); Hanoi to Fukuoka and Kagoshima are expected to open ticket sales and commence operations in 2020. After Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka are the third and fourth biggest cities in Japan respectively while Kagoshima has a large population of Vietnamese people. The new routes give VietJet a total of 10 direct routes to Japan.
SIA introduces Airbus A350-900 on Indian route: Singapore Airlines said it will deploy the Airbus A350-900 medium-haul aircraft on the Ahmedabad to Singapore route. It will be the first international airline to bring this aircraft type to Ahmedabad. The inaugural service SQ531 will depart from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at on 1 February. Starting with six-time weekly services on this new aircraft type, it will increase to daily operations from 29 March 2020 subject to regulatory approvals. The A350-900 aircraft features higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body delivering more space and comfort as well as lighting designed to reduce jetlag. Fitted with the new regional Business Class and Economy Class cabin products, the A350-900 medium haul Business Class cabin has 40 seats in a 1-2-1 arrangement that ensures direct aisle access for every customer, while the Economy Class cabin has 263 seats arranged in a comfortable 3-3-3 configuration.
Etihad and easyJet sign partnership: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has become the most recent airline to partner with easyJet, one of the world’s largest airlines. This new partnership means customers can purchase tickets through the easyJet worldwide website connecting the two airlines’ networks. The collaboration comes into effect immediately. The partnership follows easyJet’s rollout programme with flight comparison search engine, Dohop, which powers the easyJet worldwide website connecting its European network with long-haul flights. For Etihad, this has been achieved using the NDC (New Distribution Capability) platform providing technical capability for new partnerships previously not possible. The partnership with easyJet and Dohop is the airline’s first use of this technology and Etihad plans to add more airlines and travel partners to their NDC portfolio in 2020.
Airbus BelugaXL enters service, adding XL capacity to the fleet: The BelugaXL has entered into service, providing Airbus with 30 percent extra transport capacity in order to support the on-going production ramp-up of commercial aircraft programmes. The aircraft, which is an integral part of Airbus’ industrial system, made its first operational flight on the 9 January. This is the first of six BelugaXLs to begin work alongside the BelugaST predecessors, with the additional aircraft being introduced between 2020 and 2023. Launched just over five years ago in November 2014, the entry into service milestone marks yet another successful achievement for the internal aircraft programme which was awarded Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019, following an intensive flight test campaign that saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours. At 63 metres long and 8 metres wide, the BelugaXL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide. The BelugaXL can carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one. With a maximum payload of 51 tonnes, the BelugaXL has a range of 4,000km (2,200nm).