Aviation News in Brief 21 July 2020

Brisbane Airport, Air New Zealand, Flying Colours, Luxaviation, Tigers, NACO, Tamarack Aerospace, Etihad, Vietjet, HAECO Xiamen

Vietjet Asian Aviation
(PHOTO: Vietjet)

Brisbane Airport sees pax numbers plummet: The stark impact of COVID on the aviation industry is clearly evident with Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) achieving a record increase in passenger numbers in the first seven months of the fiscal year, followed by unprecedented declines in the last five months of the year. Despite the promising opening to the year, overall passenger numbers at Brisbane Airport (BNE) decreased by 24.5 percent year-on-year to a total of just under 17.9 million, with the novel coronavirus global pandemic bringing the aviation industry to a near standstill. Strong international passenger growth in the first seven months of FY20 was halted when government-imposed restrictions came into effect from March 2020, resulting in a year end 25 percent drop in international travellers to a total of 4.6 million through BNE. Similarly, strong domestic growth throughout the first seven months of FY20 ended with state border closures from March 2020 onwards and a resulting 95 percent drop in passengers by April to a total of 13.2 million in FY2020. The top growth markets for Brisbane during the first seven months of FY20 were Taiwan (+13.4 percent), China & Hong Kong (+11.3 percent), USA (+8.7 percent) and New Zealand (+4.5 percent). Between April and June 2020, there were an average of 32 weekly scheduled flights, down from 699 between July and December 2019. The busiest day at the Domestic Terminal was on 4 October 2019, with a record high of 63,525 arrivals and departures. At the height of border closures and travel restrictions, the Domestic Terminal recorded its quietest day with only 31 passengers on 12 April 2020.

Air New Zealand rolls out credit tool: Air New Zealand customers have already redeemed NZ$1.36 million in credit following the 20 July roll-out of a credit management tool. Air New Zealand Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace says it’s been promising to see such a great response after just 24 hours of the tool being live. “We’re thrilled to see so many customers being able to use their credit and book flights online. So far, popular destinations have been Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch. We know it’s been tough for customers trying to get through to our contact centre but with this tool now being live, it gives customers a choice as to whether they would like to self-service or speak to an Air New Zealand employee. In addition to customers redeeming credit, a lot are checking their balance and thinking about where they want to fly to next. To date, we’ve had around 38,000 customers use the tool to look up their credit balance.” Air New Zealand has extended the period for using credits – customers now have until 31 December 2021 to book using their credit and 12 months after booking to travel. Over the coming weeks, the airline will be working to evolve its credit tool to improve its self-service capability and to increase the number of customers who can use it.

Flying Colours taking on the Challengers with trio of heavy maintenance checks: Flying Colours continues to satisfy market demand for 192-month inspections as heavy maintenance checks on a trio of Bombardier Challenger-family aircraft continue at its St. Louis, MO. facility. The latest series of heavy inspections began in April when an early model Bombardier Challenger 300 began the full gamut of heavy maintenance inspections, service bulletins and full landing gear restoration. A second early production Bombardier Challenger 300 began its 192-maintenance check in May and will subsequently have an interior upgrade and new external paint work completed by Flying Colours, before being redelivered to the customer.  Joining the archetypal Challenger 300s is a Bombardier Challenger 604, which checked into the St. Louis hangars in July, and is currently undergoing the rigorous maintenance review. The Flying Colours maintenance team are no strangers to the intensity of these heavy inspections which require full exposure of the airframe to allow for a comprehensive structural review to assess for cracks, corrosion or other potential weaknesses. A number of the aircraft components including flaps, doors and windshields are also removed for close inspection and landing gear undergoes complete restoration. Flying Colours is also busy with heavy checks on other aircraft types including Hawker Beechcraft, Falcon and Bombardier Global Express models at both its St. Louis and Peterborough facilities.

Ten aircraft join Luxaviation global fleet in 2020: The Luxaviation Group announced the addition of 10 aircraft to its global fleet since the start of 2020, including the world’s first delivery of Bombardier’s newest long-range jet, the Global 5500. Patrick Hansen, CEO, Luxaviation Group, says: “More than ever before, aircraft owners are looking for an experienced company to guide them through the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure their aircraft are managed under the highest safety and hygiene regulations, particularly when used for charter. Aircraft owners trust the Luxaviation Group to provide world-class management services. The current circumstances are persuading many owners of the benefits of a global network like ours, which uses a broad charter market and economies of scale to offer a cost-efficient, high-end, and above all safe ownership experience.” The 10 new aircraft will enable Luxaviation to match any development in charter demand, particularly in Europe where the industry is starting to see an uptick in activity following the launch of travel corridors across the region. While business aviation traffic remains depressed compared to 2019 levels, requests from first-time business jet users have risen due to the health concerns associated with commercial travel, as well as a limited choice of routes and frequencies from airlines. Seven of the aircraft, including the Global 5500, will be based in Europe, with models comprising two Gulfstream G550s; a Pilatus PC24 super-versatile light jet; a Dassault Falcon 7X; a Bombardier Global 5000; and an Embraer Legacy 650. All the aircraft apart from one G550 will be available for charter. In addition, ExecuJet Africa, part of the Luxaviation Group, has added two new aircraft this year to its fleet, a Gulfstream GIV and a Cessna 560 Citation V, both available for charter.  ExecuJet Asia Pacific has also added a Cessna Citation 650 to its fleet, which boasts a new interior and will be available for charter from its home base in Sydney.

Tigers names new MD for China operations: Tigers has appointed Jana Schebera as its new managing director, China, adding a further layer of freight forwarding expertise as the logistics provider continues to find growth in Asia. Prior to moving to Tigers, Schebera spent more than a decade in the industry holding positions that included managing director for Hong Kong and South China at Rhenus Logistics, and business development roles at M+R Spedag Group. Based in Tigers’ Tsing Yi e-commerce fulfilment facility in Hong Kong, Schebera holds a Master’s Degree from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, in Economics and Chinese Studies, and is currently working towards a second Master’s degree in Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh, UK.

COVID-19 pushing airports to diversify into non-passenger related revenues: As passenger numbers fall in the wake of COVID-19, a new white paper by world-leading airport consultancy, NACO, makes the case for airport real estate and non-passenger related revenues as key to resilience – and a vision of the future. The paper reports that, with almost 90 percent of airports revenues being passenger-related, there is a clear need for airports to diversify their revenue streams in order to reduce both revenue volatility and the immediate negative effects of declining passenger traffic on their business. Speaking about the reasoning behind the white paper, Pieter van der Horst, Airport City Development Expert at NACO said: “We are approaching what would have been the busiest days of the year for major airports like Schiphol and others across Europe and the world – which are now close to empty as fleets are grounded, flights cancelled and many nations across the world are still in various stages of lockdown. Our white paper explores the impact of these closures, and specifically, the data indicating how airport real estate and non-passenger related revenues have been essential in cushioning the impact of the economic downturn.” The paper finds that following the immediate impact of the pandemic, the almost total contraction in passenger-related revenues has led to a near evaporation of earnings for airports. This in turn will make post-crisis levels structurally lower for years to come and change the landscape of the aviation industry. The white paper makes the case for airports – including smaller, regional airports – to develop Airport Cities through long-term lease-contracts and fixed charges that ensure a stable revenue stream from airport real estate. This applies even in times of decreasing passenger numbers or economic downturn. To download and read the full findings of the white paper, click here.

Tamarack Aerospace opens new European installation centre: Tamarack Aerospace announced it has opened its new Tamarack European Installation Centre based at the London-Oxford Airport, in the United Kingdom. The Tamarack European Installation Centre will function seven days per week to expedite Active Winglet installations and reduced supply-chain lead times, as well as supplement sales and marketing efforts in collaboration with existing Tamarack Authorised Dealers in the European region. The new facility implements the company’s long-held expansion goals and marks yet another exciting phase of growth for Tamarack after a successful series of business developments. The Tamarack European Installation Centre will independently operate out of the Oxford JMI-Jet Maintenance International (JMI) facility. The first two customer installations are set to begin in late July 2020.

Etihad to resume flights to Shanghai: Effective 27 July, Etihad Airways will resume passenger flights from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to Shanghai, China. The service will operate with an initial weekly flight using a Boeing 777-300ER, featuring Business and Economy cabins. Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are delighted to announce the resumption of scheduled services to China, as we gradually return to more destinations on our global network, supporting the recovery of economic and social activities worldwide. Our priority now is to build the network back up on markets that have opened up and to provide a secure and hygienic flying environment across the entire guest journey. The restarting of passenger services between Abu Dhabi and Shanghai will cater to the large demand from business travellers in the UAE, China, and other economies in the Middle East and Africa. We are tremendously grateful to our customers and partners for their continued loyalty and we stand ready fly more frequencies to China when possible.”

Vietjet continues to conduct repatriation flights: Following the direction of the Vietnamese government, Vietjet has cooperated with relevant Vietnamese agencies within the country and overseas to bring Vietnamese citizens home in response to the citizens’ wishes and in line with the country’s quarantine capacity. On 18 July Vietjet operated an international flight bringing 240 Vietnamese citizens from the Philippines back home. The flight departed from Ninoy Aquino International Airport and arrived at Can Tho International Airport in Southern Vietnam for a required 14-day quarantine. In July, Vietjet has also operated three other repatriation flights from Singapore, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The airline is expected to operate four more flights to bring more Vietnamese citizens from the Philippines, Russia, Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar home in the coming time. Based on the results of repatriation flights, Vietjet will continue to work closely with the authorities and the government to adjust the flight frequencies in accordance with the actual situation; increase repatriation and commercial flights to bring Vietnamese citizens back home. Currently, the airline has completed preparations to resume international flights and been awaiting official approval from the government.

HAECO Xiamen provides cargo solution to Cathay Pacific: HAECO Xiamen, a member of the HAECO Group, announced it has provided Cathay Pacific Airways with a successful design engineering and certification solution that will allow the airline to utilise sections of its Boeing 777 passenger cabins in order to carry cargo. The modification is covered by a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) and has been directly approved by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD). It also uses HAECO Xiamen’s HKCAD Part 21J Design Organisation Approval (DOA). The scope of work involves removing Economy and Premium Economy seats to install cargo bags, which are secured with cargo nets and straps, and other associated safety equipment. The modification has been designed to be in line with Boeing’s Multi Operator Message (MOM-MOM-20-0239-16B) guidelines. The modification kit was directly sourced and fabricated on site by HAECO Xiamen. In addition, HAECO Xiamen has obtained HKCAD’s minor change approval for Cathay Pacific, which allows cargo to be placed on the seats of the airline’s Airbus A330 aircraft. This second modification kit, again fabricated by HAECO Xiamen, includes cargo bags secured onto the existing seat structures. It has been reclassified by HKCAD as a minor change on a time-limited basis. Both solutions will allow Cathay Pacific to utilise a greater number of its aircraft for cargo-bearing flights, enabling the airline to carry more essential goods internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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