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Image: George Lau

ETOPS in action: Perth – Mauritius

I thought a recent flight from Perth to Mauritius provided a great basis to highlight the impact of ETOPS restrictions on airline operations in the Southern Hemisphere. There is no trans-polar or oceanic route in the Northern Hemisphere that requires more than ETOPS 240 approval (four hours from flying time from a suitable airfield), and […]

V Australia 777. Image: Gavin (777 freak) on flickr

Virgin Australia: A decade of international services.

Today marks ten years since Virgin Australia (Blue at the time) launched it’s first international flight, DJ007 between Christchurch and Brisbane on January 29, 2004.

Across the Tasman, Virgin’s competitive bullseye wasn’t locked squarely on the Qantas Group, it was also taking on a newly relaunched and reinvigorated Air New Zealand in its highest yielding market place. Pacific Blue grew quickly, leveraging the opportunity to develop reliable low-cost air services to the remote, developing islands of the Pacific, an area of the world that couldn’t support the high-cost operation of either national carrier.

Virgin’s long-haul ambitions came to fruition in 2009 – the worst time to launch an international airline, but it had little choice – with the launch of V Australia services to the US.

Continue reading “Virgin Australia: A decade of international services.” »

The weekly rollerboard 12 January

AA’s inaugural A321T service. Image: Edward Russell.

This week Australia’s mantle for offering the best transcontinental airline product in the world – which Australian’s unjustifiably love to pick apart as woefully inadequate – was challenged for the first time in perhaps two decades as American Airlines launched its new premium A321T service from New York JFK to Los Angeles.

Compared with the past decade of woefully inadequate product offer onboard American carriers, the product reinvention is a welcome return to the days of glamorous transcon air travel. There will be a 30 per cent increase in the number of first class seats AA offers as business class and economy decline by 13 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. Continued capacity rationalisation carries through to the strategic relaunch with AA’s total New York-Los Angeles capacity decreasing in favour of frequency growth from ten to thirteen services daily.

Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 12 January” »

B787-9 ZB002 at Alice Springs. Image: Alice Springs Airport.

The weekly rollerboard 5 January

Flying Knight

Her Majesty seems to have taken a keen interest in airline strategy, with Emirates President Tim Clark knighted in this year’s New Year honours for “services to British prosperity and to the aviation industry”. Clark is recognised as an “outstanding British business leader and premier airline strategist”. Clark worked for four years at Gulf Air as a route planner, before joining Emirates in 1985. In 2003 Clark was appointed president and under his stewardship Emirates has grown to become one of the top ten biggest carriers in the world. The Royal Aeronautical Society’s fascinating interview with him earlier in 2013 is well worth watching:

Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 5 January” »

Looking to the sky in 2014.

Our 2013 retrospective, and Airbus breaking with tradition on A350 MSN2 , inspired me to take a look at what this dynamic industry might have in-store for 2014:

A350 MSN2 the first test aircraft to be fitted with a full cabin interior in its new carbon fibre scheme. Image: Airbus SAS.

CASA Regulation
Some big regulatory changes will take place in 2014. In particular, CASA will need to guide the Australia’s airlines on the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) following changes to regulatory legislation by the FAA in the US and EASA in Europe. Currently Australian carriers are self regulating in this respect, but moving independently as a way to gain competitive advantage will only create headaches for crew in enforcing use on-board.

 

Image: Graham Cook

Domestic capacity
The war will continue until the end of the first half, bringing further revenue pressure to the Qantas and Virgin groups. Qantas has invested too much the public rhetoric behind in its strategy, to back away now would look like it was giving in. Not the best market image to present given its current financial position. Expect the Federal Government to make small changes to the level of single foreign ownership to the Qantas Sale Act.

 

 

 

Sydney Airport
The political future of Tony Abbott’s Government depends on their ability to deliver a courageous bipartisan policy decision. With a promise of a decision, a ‘government of no surprises’ will now need to deliver with a real commitment on Badgery’s Creek. This will come as a stage 1 single runway development, with no rail connection, because Abbott’s made it clear he doesn’t like trains. Also expect a change to the slot caps at Sydney Airport, starting with the 05:00-06:00am landing window.

Continue reading “Looking to the sky in 2014.” »

Carry-on’s top 13 of 2013.

2013 was exceptional proof that aviation is far from sclerotic. Beginning with continued fixation on the 787 as Boeing’s amour propre was tested by further incidents and a grounding. Eyes turned skyward for the equal greatest number of first flights in history. Rarely appreciating the continued challenging conditions airlines and the industry faces, politicians continued to provide opaque interference, compounding an already fractured dichotomy. There was awe as the world’s largest airline was replaced with with an even larger carrier, rosy profit turnarounds turned into sickening loss projections, and a renewed geopolitical rivalry in everything from aerospace manufacturing to air traffic rights. Here’s our 13 of 2013:

1. The 787.

The most exciting new aircraft in years became known for one thing in 2013: fire. In January the worldwide fleet was grounded – only the second aircraft since the DC-10 to be grounded in this way – following a series of electrical faults and battery fires caused by thermal runaway. The batteries were pulled out, boxed, and additional venting at a cost of approximately $500,000 per aircraft. Back in the air confidence has grown, the 787-9 is now flying and there has only been a small fiery issue relating to a locator beacon. Image: Richard Deakin.

 

2. CSeries flies.

110 years later Bombardier did it again for the very first time. This time with the first completely new narrow-body design since the A320 family.

 

3. ICAO’s emissions agreement.

ICAO’s member states reached a landmark multilateral agreement to develop a market-based measure that would reduce carbon emissions by 2020. The agreement will allow countries and airlines to operate under a single global standard rather than competing carbon regimes. Governments’ individual plans will be approved at the next assembly in 2016.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Carry-on’s top 13 of 2013.” »

aa livery

#keeptail or #switchtail? Doug Parker doesn’t care.

Debating the merits of certain aircraft liveries as much as anyone, I have always believed they are not particularly important to the success of an airline, and have yet to find a customer who based their purchase decision on the exterior design of the airplane. – Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO   Now, merger complete, employees of […]

737 wheel well. Image: Carry-on.

Qantas Fleet Review: A different look at an all Boeing affair.

Qantas’ Sydney Jet Base hosted a Qantas Group fleet review on the weekend to showcase Jetstar’s new Boeing 787-8. An all Boeing affair, on display were 717 VH-NXG, 737-800 VH-XZB, 747-400 VH-OJM, 767-300ER VH-OGG, and 787-8 VH-VKA, with unprecedented access to explore the aircraft.

The 747 and 787 were parked in Hangar 416, which can hold two B747 sized aircraft parked at a 45 degree angle to each other. Visitors were given the chance to compare the leap in engine technology with the cowlings on the B747-400’s Rolls Royce RB211-524G and a General Electric GEnx engine on the 787 open for inspection. Continue reading “Qantas Fleet Review: A different look at an all Boeing affair.” »

Emirates is taking over Auckland one A380 at a time. Image: Emirates.

Taking over the world one A380 at a time.

Alone, unafraid, last week Emirates’ inaugural A380 service on its daily Dubai – Brisbane – Auckland route winged its way south-east. The service becomes Brisbane’s first and only scheduled A380 service increasing capacity on the route by approximately 193,000 seats per annum. Meanwhile, across the pond, Auckland is now the only airport outside Dubai to host […]

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