Tuesday, February 11, 2020
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Malaysia hoses down MH370 search suggestion

MH370 potential new search area

The Malaysian government has moved to hose down suggestions it already has plans to launch a new search for MH370.

Reports in News Corporation’s Australian publications suggested a new search would be launched and that talks were underway with search firm Ocean Infinity.

READ: New search possible for MH370 this year.

However, the Malaysian Transport Ministry said no decision on a new search had been made and it would need to consult with Australia and China before one was made.

“While the Transport Ministry deeply empathizes with the family members of the victims and stands by them, the Ministry has not made any decision to relaunch any new searches as there has not been any new credible evidence to initiate such a process,” the ministry said in a statement.

“However, the ministry will review any information that it officially receives.”

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur and has become one of aviation’s biggest mysteries.

Ocean Infinity has repeatedly said it would be prepared to offer its services to the Malaysian Government if it decided to resume the search for the missing plane.

It conducted a search on a “no find, no fee” basis in 2018 using hi-tech underwater drones but failed to find the missing Boeing 777.

There have since been developments in the autonomous underwater vehicles the company used in in the initial search that allows them to stay underwater for longer.

However, Ocean Infinity chief executive Oliver Plunkett told media organizations that no new search is imminent and that the Malaysians had rightly set a high bar before they would discuss one.

He said the company continued to engage with a number of subject experts to identify a potential new search area.

The hope now is that there will be enough evidence to convince the Malaysians to mount a new search by the time calmer summer weather arrives in the Southern Indian Ocean at the end of the year.

A critical breakthrough may be work by an independent group of experts that has continued to refine data since the last search ended.

The group earlier this month defined new areas adjacent to those previously covered as a possible resting place for the aircraft.

The search area defined by experts Victor Iannello, Bobby Ulich, Richard Godfrey, and Andrew Banks looked at three scenarios and gave the best estimate of the point of impact as S34.2342° and E93.7875°.

The highest priority was assigned to a 23,050 sq. km area that assumed no pilot inputs after fuel exhaustion and an impact “well beyond what was previously searched’.

The next highest priority assumes a glide towards the south after fuel exhaustion and encompasses an area of 22.000 sq. km.

“The lowest priority is the controlled glide in an arbitrary direction with an area of around 48,400 NM2 (166,000 sq. km ),’’ it said.

Image: Independent Group.




Passengers in smaller US cities excited about fresh Breeze

The funky new Breeze livery. Photo: Breeze/Facebook.

The announcement that the airline formerly known as Moxy plans to launch this year as Breeze Airways has been well received by the residents of the underserved US cities it intends to target.

The airline is backed by JetBlue. WestJet and Azul founder David Neeleman and hopes to be flying by year-end and is in the process of applying for its air operator’s certificate.

Based in Utah’s Salt Lake City, it will target mid-sized US city pairs that have no nonstop service with “low-fares, high-quality nonstop flights” and promises new consumer technology innovations.

READ: Denver’s new United gates herald big capacity boost.

This includes an Uber-like app that allows passengers to book a flight without ever contacting a call center.

The idea, according to the airline, is to improve the flying experience while saving travelers both time and money.

It is being touted as an alternative to the mega-hubs set up by mainline carriers which force passengers from smaller cities to take time-consuming connecting flights.

David Neeleman. Photo: Breeze/Facebook.

“Breeze will fly non-stop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service,” Neeleman, who is president and chief executive, said on Facebook.

“Twenty years ago, we brought humanity back to the airline industry with JetBlue. Today, we’re excited to introduce plans for ‘the World’s Nicest Airline’.”

The new carrier has ordered 60 new Airbus 220-300 aircraft which will start arriving from April 2021.

It has also leased 30 Embraer 195 aircraft from Azul which will start arriving in May and will be used to launch the carrier.

Both aircraft are well-suited to the markets Breeze intends to serve, offering a combination of efficiency and passenger comfort.

Azul has plenty of experience operating the E195 that it can pass on to the new start-up and needed a home for the aircraft as it replaces them with next-generation  E195-E2s.

Breeze also plans to use the planes for aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) to customers such as corporations and sporting teams.

Joining Neeleman are two senior executives from Allegiant: Lukas Johnson and Trent Porter.

Porter is the start-up’s chief financial officer while Johnson is its chief commercial officer.

Neeleman told US media that a sharp focus on efficiency will be a hallmark of the new airline with as little as 50 or 60 employees per aircraft, compared to more than 100 at traditional airlines.

One problem for Breeze will be sorting through the many smaller cities clamoring for its services.

And judging from the reaction on social media, there will be no shortage of applicants.

Norwegian uses upgraded tech to cut CO2 emissions

Norwegian CO2 emissions
Photo: Norwegian.

Norwegian Air is using upgraded weather data, cruise optimization and fuel reduction technology to cut annual CO2 emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes.

The Norwegian carrier, based near the epicenter of Scandinavia’s “flight-shaming” backlash,   has adopted an upgraded weather service provided by AVTECH Sweden that provides data enabling it to optimize flights paths to improve fuel efficiency.

The airline’s relationship with AVTECH has reduced C02 emissions by 16,000 tonnes since 2018 and the company’s latest product, Aventis Cruise Optimizer, has the potential to produce savings of another 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes annually.

READ: JetBlue relaunches packaged vacations with added perks.

The upgraded product analyses more data than its predecessor and calculates the most fuel-efficient altitude depending on prevailing winds and aircraft performance.

This includes an analysis of the number of passengers, the distance traveled, the aircraft deployed and its speed.

Pilots also receive real-time information allowing them to make adjustments if the weather changes during a flight.

“During the test project, there was a marked efficiency improvement in the planning of flight paths which resulted in further fuel and emissions reductions,” said Norwegian’s fuel-saving manager, Stig Patey.

“Each kilogram of fuel makes a difference.”

Norwegian late in 2019 also adopted Skybreathe, a fuel and emissions-reducing tool that leverages big data algorithms developed by a European Union-funded clean skies project.

The airline says this cuts emissions by another 140,000 tonnes annually.

The airline’s average fleet age is just 3.8 years, making it one of the youngest in the industry, and it says it has reduced emissions per passenger kilometre by 33 percent since 2009.

In 2018, it was named the most fuel-efficient airline on trans-Atlantic routes after an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation of 20 leading airlines flying between the US and Europe.

Other fuel-saving measures helping it cut emissions include modern interiors that weigh less, winglets that reduce drag and an aircraft and engine wash that reduces fuel consumption.

Norwegian is the world’s fifth-biggest low-cost airline, carrying more than 37 million passengers in 2018 and today operating to over 150 destinations worldwide.

New United gates in Denver herald big capacity boost

United Denver
United is introducing bigger B787s on some routes from Denver. Photo: United Airlines

United Airlines says a deal to lease an additional 24 gates at Denver International Airport will see the number of flights at the hub grow as much as 40 percent by 2025.

The deal, signed by United chief executive Oscar Munoz and Denver Mayor B. Hancock on February 7, paves the way for United’s plan to grow its Denver hub from 500 daily flights to as many as 700 by 2025.

See new images of the 777X’s massive composite wings.

United currently serves 170 airports worldwide from Denver, which is also home to the airline’s flight training center and 7000 staff.

The additional gates are a combination of newly constructed and existing gates, and part of Denver’s  $US1.5 billion concourse expansion program.

They will be located in Concourse A and B and will see an expansion of existing United Clubs as well as a new club in concourse A.

The ambitious program, announced in 2018, will see the mile-high airport add 39 new boarding gates for a 30 percent increase in capacity from the then 111 gates.

The new gates are coming online sequentially, with the last of them scheduled to be up and running by 2021.

The Denver City Council unanimously approved an amendment to United’s lease on January 21 to allow it the 24 additional gates.

“United Airlines is a vital partner for Denver International Airport, and we’re proud they are continuing to invest and grow right here in Denver,” said Mayor Hancock.

“As United increases daily flights and continues to add new routes, they are creating economic opportunities that benefit our entire community.”

United has been steadily growing its Denver operations, adding more than 100 flights and 40 new destinations in the past five years.

The successful introduction in 2018 of its Denver-London route saw it quickly move from a seasonal operation to daily year-round flights.

It is also moving to bigger Boeing 787-9 aircraft on flights from the city to London, Frankfurt and Tokyo from June.

United’s Munoz said the additional gates would take the starring role Denver plays in the airline’s growth strategy to a new level.

“It will mean more seats, more connections and more destinations as Denver continues to extend the global reach of its businesses and communities,’’ he said.

“This growth complements the investments we make in key infrastructure, such as the Western Hemisphere’s largest flight training center at DEN, and in local communities; because Denver is not just a hub, it feels like home for so many of us in the United family.”

The airline says its growing domestic and international flight offerings have also created thousands of additional connection opportunities for customers traveling through Denver.

Coronavirus slashes China’s international capacity by two-thirds

Coronavirus capacity OAG
Photo: China News Service/Wikimedia Commons

Route expert OAG estimates that a whopping two-thirds of international airline capacity to and from China has been canceled due to the new coronavirus.

Further analysis by OAG shows that the number of weekly seats operated from china has fallen by 1.4 million seats since the week starting January 20, with Summer Olympics host Japan particularly hard hit.

READ OAG’s previous report on coronavirus impacts.

It notes that the reduction in capacity is more than all the scheduled international capacity from France this week.

READ: BA 747 sets new NewYork-London subsonic record.

Numerous airlines have suspended services to China as a result of the outbreak, which has now exceeded the 2003 SARS outbreak to top 40,000 cases and more than 900 deaths.

Most of these have been in China but there have been outbreaks of the disease around the world that prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.

A number of countries have restricted entry to Chinese nationals and foreigners who have traveled to China during the crisis.

“No single market has been impacted by Coronavirus as much as Japan where scheduled airline capacity has fallen by some 200,000 per week compared to the week of the 20th January; a 60 percent fall in capacity in four weeks,’’ OAG’s John Grant said in a blog.

“Week on week comparison shows some 118,000 scheduled seats dropped from China to Japan.”

The OAG analysis also shows Thailand, which relies heavily on visitors from China, had also been hit with almost 200,000 fewer seats than four weeks ago.

In absolute terms, major country markets such as Indonesia (-92 percent), Singapore (-89 percent), Hong Kong (SAR) China (-80%) and the United States (-86 percent) have all seen dramatic reductions in capacity over the four-week period,’’ Grant said.

“The banning of flights by some countries is also reflected in no capacity to Italy whilst direct air links to other markets such as Hungary, Oman and the Maldives highlight the extent of the impact.”

OAG said China’s three major airlines had cut capacity by more than 500,000 seats compared to four weeks ago.

It noted this made Spring Airlines, which appeared to have cut capacity by just 6 percent, China’s biggest international airline.

The Hong Kong reductions have badly affected local carrier Cathay Pacific, with Cathay Dragon cutting capacity by about 63,000 seats compared to January 20.

US giant American Airlines recently announced it had extended the suspension of flights to Hong Kong from Los Angeles until March 27.

American still plans to resume flying to Hong Kong from Dallas-Fort Worth from February 21.

The virus also proved deadly to Virgin Australia’s Chinese aspirations. The Australian carrier had been struggling on the Hong Kong route and decided earlier this month to pull out permanently from March 2.



Weekly Roundup – February 10th, 2020

Northern lights

Here are our 4 most popular articles from the past week.

Boeing 747 pilots stunning photo of the Northern Lights and Milky Way

Northern lights

Boeing 747 pilot Christiaan van Heijst has captured this stunning photo of the Northern Lights and the Milky Way.


Thunderstorms over the Indian Ocean from 747 cockpit

Boeing 747 pilot Christiaan van Heijst has captured these stunning shots of thunderstorms over the Indian Ocean.


 EXCLUSIVE new photos of 777X first flight


Boeing has released new photos of the 777X first flight.


New search areas for MH370 from world experts

malaysia Airlines

A group of the world’s leading search experts for Malaysia Airlines Flt MH370 have defined new areas to be searched for the missing Boeing 777.


British Airways 747 sets New York-London subsonic record

British Airways
Photo: Eluveitie/Wikimedia Commons

A British Airways Boeing 747 lived up to the airline’s Speedbird call sign on Sunday by breaking the record for the fastest ever subsonic flight between New York and London.

The feat, flagged on Twitter by flight tracking platform Flightradar24, saw the plane land almost two hours ahead of schedule after crossing the Atlantic in four hours and 56 minutes.

It beat a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 flight by a minute and was significantly ahead of the previous record of five hours and 13 minutes held by Norwegian.

New Images of 777X highlight massive composite wing

Its top speed during the flight was reportedly clocked at 825mph (1,327kmh) as it was pushed by a powerful jetstream associated with Storm Ciara.

British Airways already held the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by a scheduled service after a Concorde flew from New York to London in two hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

British Airways was circumspect about the new record, telling the BBC: “We always prioritize safety over speed records.

“Our highly-trained pilots made the most of the conditions to get customers back to London well ahead of time”.


New images of 777X highlight massive composite wing


New images from Woodys Aeroimages of the Boeing 777X highlight the aircraft’s massive composite wing.

The wing of the Boeing 777X is 235 feet, 5 in (71.75 m) with the folding winglets deployed and with those winglets folded up 212 feet, 8 in (64.82 m).

While the composite wing is a first for the 777X family it is, in fact, the fourth composite wing built by Boeing for a commercial aircraft after three versions for the 787.

The wing and the new GE9X engine are the secrets to the 777X’s performance.

SEE our special feature of the 747’s 50th birthday

A second 777X – N778XX – has new upgraded engines installed and the first flight is expected soon.

Credit: Woodys Aeroimages

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The third and fourth test aircraft are: N7779XX and N7779XZ.

The 777-9X seats more than 400 passengers, depending on an airline’s configuration choices. With a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles (15,185 km), the aircraft will have the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial aircraft says, Boeing.

The second member of the family, the 777-8X, will be the most flexible jet in the world claims Boeing. The aircraft will seat 350 passengers and offer a range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles (17,220 km).

Credit: Woodys Aeroimages

The driving force behind the aircraft is Emirates President Tim Clark and calls the 777X an “absolute peach.”

“There will not be a city on the planet — aside from the mid-Pacific — we can’t reach,” Sir Tim said. “This (777X) will be poetry in motion . . . it will have enormous versatility.”

Key to the enthusiasm is the aircraft’s economics, being 20 per cent more efficient per seat than the 777-300ER.

The 777X combines the best features of the current 777, with a longer fuselage, new engine and the composite wing design from the Boeing 787.

It also features 20 per cent larger windows, lower pressurization altitude to reduce jet lag and a wider cabin.

Since the launch in 2013 Boeing has sold the 777X to Lufthansa, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and All Nippon Airways.


Jetstar presses for vote on ground handler pay dispute

Jetstar pay dispute
Photo: Steve Creedy

Jetstar will seek to end a long-running dispute with the Transport Workers’ Union by asking workers to vote on a package that includes a 3 percent annual pay rise.

Management met with TWU officials Monday and tabled a package that includes the 3 percent annual pay rise, up to a year’s worth of back pay and roster-related benefits.

The airline estimates the backpay equates to more than $A2000 per worker, based on current average annual earnings across the group, and says its deal is in line with the wages approach across the Qantas Group.

“The deal delivers annual wage increases well above private-sector wage growth,’’ a spokesman said.  “We’re committed to doing a deal that rewards our people but not at the expense of our ability to offer low fares.”

Read: New search possible for MH370 this year.

Management has given the TWU until Friday to endorse the package but will move to an access period this weekend regardless before opening up a vote a week later.

The union, which took industrial action before Christmas in support of the pay claim, has described its claims as modest and says Jetstar workers are the lowest paid in the Qantas group.

It has accused the company of cutting the number of crew to the point that safety is a problem, although Jetstar denies this.

It has called on the company to give ground crew more rest breaks and training to allow them to do their jobs “without risking injury”.

The airline is continuing separate talks with pilots represented by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots with discussion due next week.

These will be followed by discussions with a second union representing pilots at Jetstar. The Australian and International Pilots Association.

AIPA members at Qantas mainline in January voted to approve a short-haul agreement that included a 3 percent annual pay increase over three years as well as improved sick leave provisions and better rostering with an increase in days off per month.

Opening a new pilot academy in Toowoomba last month, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce pointed to the bushfires and the coronavirus as a reason Qantas needed to stick to its 3 percent wages policy.

“We’re not going to be offering anything above that,’’ he said.

“We’ve made that clear to the Jetstar pilots and the TWU. That is not going to change.”

Joyce said the reason Qantas could handle upsets such as the coronavirus was because of the discipline in the business over recent years as well as the strength of its balance sheet and liquidity.

“And we’re not going to put that at risk for outrageous pay claims by any unions,’’ he added.






Airbus future rosy despite challenges says report


New York analyst Bernstein is upbeat on the Airbus investment opportunity which it says is tied to long-term free cash flow, which it expects will exceed €6 bn in 2021.

It notes in a new report that over the last few years the estimate for €6+ bn FCF has slipped to 2021, as the company worked to normalize narrow-body production and finally resolve A400M issues.

Bernstein sounds a note of caution on the A400M cash burn and Airbus’s target of 62 a month production for the A320 series.

READ: New search possible for MH370 this year.

It notes that “production challenges are likely to persist through 2020 in Hamburg (on the A320). We understand A321neo deliveries are 7 months behind schedule.”

Bernstein says that “the A321neo ramp remains challenging with Airbus Cabin Flex (ACF) fuselage in Hamburg. The new cabin configuration added substantial complexity: new wire harness, fuel system, etc. Introduction of new automation in the final assembly and labour shortages have compounded the challenges. Production difficulties in Hamburg have been complicated by the large number of variants (A319neo, A320neo, A321neo, A321neo ACF, A321neo LR – with two engine options each) and some unusually complex cabin configurations.”

united and Airbus

Bernstein adds “Airbus still explores higher rates (e.g. 70-75/mo.), which demand still supports but we want to see progress on production/supply chain.”

Interestingly Bernstein says it sees “no material benefit to Airbus so far from Boeing’s MAX issues.

“Widebody orders will be important to sustain current production plans, which looks achievable over the next 3-4 years. A350 is better positioned than A330. But we have seen more recent A330 orders. Expect A350 margin performance to continue improving,“ Bernstein reports.

Emirates A350

“Even though traffic growth moderated in 2019 and is likely to remain weak as we begin 2020 due to the coronavirus, most global airlines continue to be profitable, and the decrease in fuel prices related to the coronavirus scare has been benefiting airlines.”

Airbus A320s


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