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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

  Aeroflot Terminal to Open in Winter

AeroflotAeroflot will move all of its flights to Sheremetyevo's glistening new Terminal 3 before switching to its winter schedule this year, CEO Vitaly Savelyev told reporters Friday after showing off the facility to visiting airline executives.

The long-awaited hub will serve as the SkyTeam alliance's base in Russia and is intended to rescue Sheremetyevo from its reputation as the capital's least modern airport.

Workers loaded dummy baggage onto conveyors at the check-in Friday, while others mopped floors or installed lights in the round-domed arrival hall. The terminal has been operating on a trial basis since April, Savelyev said. "Our goal is to set the winter schedule from the new terminal."

Aeroflot Airlines agreed to build a new hub as a condition for its membership in SkyTeam. Construction began in 2005, and the opening date has been pushed back several times.

"Architects attempted to create the image of a swan, which would be the symbol of Russia, which is protecting passengers with its wings," Savelyev said of the terminal's structure.

The hub's primary customers will be Aeroflot and its SkyTeam partners. Some executives, including Korean Air chief Cho Yangho and Air France head Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, toured the terminal Friday. "It looks impressive," said Leo van Wijk, chairman of SkyTeam's governing board.

The alliance wants to develop its presence in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, he said, and a modern hub would make Moscow more attractive as a layover stop.

To expand its coverage, the alliance is also "in discussion" now with Rossiya Airlines, Van Wijk said. The sides are "not in a state of negotiations," however, which will only happen in consultation with Aeroflot, he said.

"It's impossible for one airline to cover all of Russia," van Wijk said.

State-controlled Rossiya is based in St. Petersburg and flies to 92 destinations in Russia and the CIS. It served 3.5 million passengers in 2008.

Aeroflot will relocate all of its flights from nearby Sheremetyevo 2 and the more distant Sheremetyevo 1, which handles its domestic flights. After the move, Aeroflot will be able to cut the transfer time from domestic to international flights to 60 minutes. International transfers will take 40 minutes.

"We know about the problems in Heathrow. They... won't be repeated," Savelyev said, referring to the hundreds of cancellations and thousands of lost bags following the opening of Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport.

Sheremetyevo 3 was developed by Terminal, a company owned by Aeroflot, VTB and VEB. Savelyev declined to provide investment figures. "It's developed on credit from Vneshekonombank and VTB," he said. "We don't have any problems with the banks."

The hub will be able to handle 12 million passengers per year, or 270 flights per day, 70 percent of which will be international. The 172,000-square-meter terminal is "practically connected" with the railway line from Moscow.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

  Air China Extends Toll-Free Telephone Customer Service to Canada

Air ChinaAir China Limited announced today that it is extending its toll-free telephone customer service throughout Canada from its North American regional headquarters in Los Angeles starting today. Services provided by the North American call center include booking, ticketing, frequent flyer program, flight status inquiries and customer relations. The center serves bilingually in English and Chinese. The toll-free number is 800-882-8122.

"Serving all of North America from a central location is an integral part of our North American consolidation strategy. With this move, we will achieve economies of scale which will enable us to provide better and more consistent service for our passengers and our travel agents," says Dr. Zhihang Chi, vice president and general manager, North America.

Air China announced the consolidation of its operations in North America on September 8, 2008, when it re-organized its four independent offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and aligned them to report to the newly established North American regional headquarters in Los Angeles.

"Service is our product and is what we strive to improve constantly," according to Chi. In addition to the center in Los Angeles, Air China operates call centers in Beijing for service in China; Tokyo for Japan; and Tallin, Estonia, for Europe. Call service is provided bilingually with Chinese as the primary language. In Tallin, the call center can answer customers in five languages besides Chinese. "In the future we plan to expand our hours of operation and provide more specialized services," said Chi.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

  Air France crash searchers say no black box found

Air France-Business SpaceInvestigators have not yet found flight recorders of an Air France airliner that crashed this month,France's air accident authority said on Tuesday after a report that signals from the recorders had been picked up.

The website of France's Le Monde daily reported that signals had been detected and a mini submarine had been launched to try to locate the "black box" recorders that could contain vital clues to explain the June 1 crash, in which 228 people died.

But the BEA, the French air accident authority, said searchers had not heard any signals they could be sure came from the black boxes.

"No signals transmitted by the flight recorders' locator beacons have been validated up to now," it said in a statement.

"In the context of the sea searches that are under way, work is undertaken on a regular basis that is aimed at eliminating any doubts related to any sounds that may be heard, and any findings will be made public," it said.

Everyone aboard died when the Air France Airbus 330 crashed into the Atlantic en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1.

A BEA spokeswoman noted that many sounds are detected on the seabed and said investigators had picked up numerous signals that had turned out to be false leads.

Locator beacons, known as "pingers," on the flight recorders send an electronic impulse every second for at least 30 days. The signal can be heard up to 2 km (1.2 miles) away.

French vessels involved in the search operation include a nuclear submarine with advanced sonar equipment and a research ship equipped with mini submarines.

The remote location in the Atlantic as well as the depth and surface of the ocean floor have made the search especially difficult and the wreckage could lie anywhere between 1 km (0.6 miles) and 4 km (2.5 miles) down.



Monday, June 22, 2009

  BA set to axe OpenSkies subsidiary

British AirwaysBritish Airways is considering the future of its transatlantic flights brand, OpenSkies, due to falling passenger numbers.
British Airways launched OpenSkies in June last year, named after the agreement that allows carriers to operate services between airports in continental Europe and the US, and currently operates flights from Paris and Amsterdam.

However, according to reports in The Observer, British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh is looking at a potential sale or winding up of Openskies to help cut costs. A BA spokesman said: 'We are reviewing all aspects of our business in the current economic environment.British Airways has already restricted the expansion of Openskies, selling three of the 757 aircraft earmarked to join its four-strong OpenSkies fleet.

Last week, it was revealed that British Airways is asking over 30,000 of its UK employees to work without pay for up to four weeks over the coming 12 months.

The carrier also today announced plans to launch new business-only flight from London City to New York, to help it improve the number of business travellers.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

  Airbus extends air show order lead over Boeing

Airbus extended its lead over archrival Boeing Co. in the hunt for orders at the Paris Air Show on Thursday with the signature of two deals with Chinese and Hungarian airlines.

On the fourth day of the world's largest air show, which has seen far fewer deals than years past, Airbus and Hungarian budget carrier Wizz Air signed a memorandum of understanding for 50 A320 single-aisle passenger jets worth a total of $3.8 billion at list prices.The deal should become a firm order shortly, Airbus' Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said at a signing ceremony.

Including its existing fleet of 24 A320s, Wizz Air will have ordered a total of 132 Airbus jets, Airbus said.The Wizz Air deal came on the back of a $1.45 billion order for 20 A320s that Airbus customer China Eastern Airlines announced overnight.

Airbus has now racked up $11.5 billion in orders and agreements this week, well ahead of Boeing, which notched up its first air show order on Wednesday — a $153 million deal with Japan's MC Aviation Partners for only two jets.

Boeing shrugged off the Airbus announcements, saying the company doesn't save up orders to announce at air shows.Yet even Airbus' numbers were diminutive compared to sales in past years.Airlines and governments strapped for cash and credit appeared to have come to the air show mostly as tourists instead of buyers this year, admiring the high-tech hardware but hiding their checkbooks.

Airbus' spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said he is "confident there are more orders to come," but time was running out as many exhibitors arrived to the fourth day of the week-long air show with suitcases in hand.The air show, which has also been haunted by unresolved questions about the crash of Air France Flight 447, opens to the public on Friday.

With commercial orders scarce, American defense contractors elbowed into the troubled market for European military transport planes at the air show.As delays mount for Airbus' troubled new A400M military transport airlifter,Lockheed-Martin and Boeing are offering their proven C-130J and C-17 models as alternatives to the European air forces who are in urgent need of a new transport.

"Many countries in Europe are looking at their airlift requirements and they need to make decisions in the short term," Peter Simmons, spokesman for Lockheed's Air Mobility division, said Wednesday. "We have been approached by a number of countries in Europe to fulfill that role."

Boeing also says it has held talks with members of the seven-nation consortium involved in the Airbus program.

The A400M transporter program was launched in 2003 with a joint order for 180 planes from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey. But Airbus missed a March 31 contractual deadline for the first flight, and is negotiating new technical requirements and commercial terms with the seven buyers.

Analysts say the project could even be on the verge of collapse. The costly delay is especially painful for recession-hit governments.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

  Goodrich Signs Long-Term Service Agreement with British Airways

British AirwaysGoodrich Corporation (NYSE: GR) has signed a long-term service agreement with British Airways Plc (BA) covering engine controls systems for BA's Boeing 747 and 767 aircraft. The agreement covers over 300 Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines for a minimum of five years.Goodrich’s Engine Control Systems Services team, predominantly at Marston Green, Birmingham, UK, will perform the services.Under the agreement, Goodrich will provide BA Component Engineering an enhanced integrated solution consisting of repair, overhaul and rotable services; technical support; spare parts and consumable kits for BA's RB211-524 engine control systems. BA currently operates the world's largest fleet of RB211 engines and Goodrich offers aftermarket support on this entire fleet.

Mal Murphy, general manger for aircraft and engineering procurement for British Airways, said, "The aftermarket support and service Goodrich provides to BA Component Engineering is essential to the success of this project and we are very pleased with the solutions they have provided in this agreement. We look forward to further developing our relationship with Goodrich over the coming years."

Dale Ballinger, vice president and general manager, Engine Controls and Electrical Power Systems Services for Goodrich, said, "This enhanced integrated support agreement further strengthens the longstanding relationship between Goodrich and British Airways. We continue to be committed to offering innovative solutions to add value for our customers in successfully managing their fleets in a dynamic environment."

Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a global supplier of systems and services to aerospace, defense and homeland security markets. With one of the most strategically diversified portfolios of products in the industry, Goodrich serves a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and service facilities.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

  Air New Zealand's First 747-400 Makes Final One-Way Flight

Air New Zealand's first Boeing 747-400, registration ZK-NBS, will depart Auckland for the last time today and fly to the USA where it will be dismantled for parts.

The aircraft will depart at 5.20pm and fly to Los Angeles, stopping briefly so crew can clear customs before continuing on to its final destination in Roswell, New Mexico.

The aircraft arrived in Auckland from Boeing's Seattle factory in December 1989. While at Air New Zealand it has completed more than 11,400 flights, flown over 88,300 hours (that's more than 10 years, or half its life, in the air) and travelled an estimated 80 million kilometres (the equivalent of 100 round trips to the moon or more than 2,000 return trips to London).

For its last flight, the aircraft has had its livery removed as well as all interior furnishings such as seats and cabinetry.

"The final flight of NBS is a sad and very visible example of the affects of the economic downturn on Air New Zealand," says Air New Zealand Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims.

"We are seeing long-haul demand down more than 10%, reflected in last week's decision to reduce Hong-Kong – London services from daily to five times per week."

"We are very focused on ensuring capacity closely meets demand and are utilising the more fuel-efficient 777 fleet as much as possible to reduce long-haul fuel costs."

(Air New Zealand Press release)


Friday, June 5, 2009

  Air New Zealand's New Westport-Christchurch Service

Air New Zealand is to a launch a new service between Westport and Christchurch.
Air New ZealandThe service will operate on Monday and Friday mornings and evenings from 6 July and will be operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary Eagle Air utilising a Beech 1900D aircraft. Eagle Air General Manager Grant Kerr said he was pleased to launch the new four times a week service, which would make it quicker and easier for customers travelling between Westport and Christchurch. "We have been evaluating the potential for a direct service between Westport and Christchurch for some time, in response to direct approaches from a number of customers keen to make it a reality," he said.

Mr Kerr said Air New Zealand has been in discussions with energy producer, Solid Energy for nearly four years about potentially operating a service between Christchurch and Westport. Solid Energy's Stockton Opencast Mine, just north of Westport employs about 700 people. A number of company staff from Christchurch regularly travel to the mine, along with other contractors and consultants.

"Solid Energy has committed to supporting the new service and this has certainly given us the confidence to launch," Mr Kerr said.Currently, customers wanting to fly to Westport from Christchurch either have to fly into Westport via Wellington, or fly to Hokitika and drive to Westport. Mr Kerr said the new service would be trialled for six months, with community support ultimately determining its long-term viability.

"We are confident at this stage that we have the customer support to sustain this service, but are looking to the local community to throw its support behind the initiative and make it a commercial success."

Mr Kerr said the service was good news for the region."The people of Westport will be well serviced and have choice in the way they travel with our new service and the Greymouth-Westport-Christchurch passenger service which has recently been launched by Coastair."

Eagle Air operates more than 1100 services a week throughout New Zealand and despite the challenging economic environment, Mr Kerr said the airline was always looking for opportunities to extend its network. Over the past 15 months in response to customer and community demand Eagle Air has also successfully launched direct services between Whakatane-Wellington and Auckland-Masterton.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

  Air India Introduces Direct Flight to Frankfurt from Ahmedabad

Air IndiaIn a move that will reduce travel time from Ahmedabad to West-bound destinations, Air India will introduce a daily direct flight between Ahmedabad and Frankfurt with effect from June 1, 2009.

With the introduction of the direct flight, passengers travelling from Ahmedabad and neighbouring places like Anand, Nadiad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhuj and Bhavnagar will be able to reach Frankfurt in 9 hours 15 minutes instead of the earlier 12 hours 50 minutes, thereby saving about three and half hours travel time taken while travelling via Mumbai till now. The reduction in travel time will also be experienced for West-bound flights from Frankfurt as passengers will be able to reach their destinations faster.

This new flight, operated with Boeing 747-400 aircraft will provide convenient connections to Newark and Chicago at Frankfurt, the new hub of Air India. Passengers coming in from Newark and Chicago will also connect to Ahmedabad at Frankfurt. The flight AI-121 will depart Ahmedabad at 0205 hrs. and arrive Frankfurt at 0650 hrs. The flight AI-120 will depart Frankfurt at 1110 hrs. and arrive Ahmedabad at 2225 hrs.

Ahmedabad will also have a daily flight to London via Mumbai with effect from June 1, 2009. The flight AI-131 will depart Ahmedabad at 2145 hrs., arrive Mumbai at 2245 hrs. leave Mumbai at 0220 hrs. and arrive London at 0730 hrs. On the return direction, flight AI-130 will depart London at 0945 hrs. arrive Mumbai at 2335 hrs. leave Mumbai at 0105 hrs. and arrive Ahmedabad at 0205 hrs. The Mumbai-London-Mumbai sector of this flight will be operated with the new state-of-the-art Boeing 777 aircraft.

(Air India)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

  Brazil confirms Air France jet crashed

Rio De Janeiro:Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim says a 5-km path of wreckage found in the Atlantic Ocean confirms that an Air France jet crashed in the sea.

Jobin said on Tuesday night that discovery of the debris by Brazilian military pilots "confirms that the plane went down in that area" hundreds of kilometers from the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

Brazilian military pilots spotted an airplane seat, a life jacket, metallic debris and signs of fuel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday as they hunted for a missing Air France passenger jet that carried 228 people. They found no signs of life.

The pilots spotted two areas of floating debris about 60km apart, about 650km beyond the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, roughly along Flight 447's path from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, said Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral.

"The locations where the objects were found are toward the right of the point where the last signal of the plane was emitted," Amaral said. "That suggests that it might have tried to make a turn, maybe to return to Fernando de Noronha, but that is just a hypothesis."

Amaral said authorities would not be able to confirm that the debris is from the plane until they can retrieve some of it from the ocean for identification. Brazilian military ships are not expected to arrive at the area until Wednesday.

The discovery came more than 24 hours after the jet went missing, with all feared dead.
Rescuers were still scanning a vast sweep of ocean extending from far off North-Eastern Brazil to waters off West Africa. The 4-year-old plane was last heard from at 0214 GMT Monday. If no survivors are found, it would be the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.

Investigators on both sides of the ocean are trying to determine what brought the Airbus A330 down, with few clues to go on so far. Potential causes could include violently shifting winds and hail from towering thunderheads, lightning or some combination of other factors.

The crew gave no verbal messages of distress before the crash, but the plane's system sent an automatic message just before it disappeared, reporting lost pressure and electrical failure. The plane's cockpit and "black box" recorders could be thousands of feet (meters) below the surface.
The chance of finding survivors now "is very very small, even nonexistent," said the French minister overseeing transportation, Jean-Louis Borloo. "The race against the clock has begun" to find the plane's two black boxes, which emit signals up to 30 days.” Borloo called the A330 "one of the most reliable planes in the world" and said lightning alone, even from a fierce tropical storm, probably couldn't have brought down the plane.

"There really had to be a succession of extraordinary events to be able to explain this situation," Borloo said on RTL radio Tuesday.

French police were studying passenger lists and maintenance records, and preparing to take DNA from passengers' relatives to help identify any bodies.

France's Defence Minister Herve Morin said "we have no signs so far" of terrorism, but all hypotheses must be studied.

Alain Bouillard, who led the probe into the crash of the Concorde in July 2000, was put in charge of France's accident investigation team.

President Barack Obama told French television stations the United States is ready to do everything necessary to find out what happened.

On board the flight were 61 French citizens, 58 Brazilians, 26 Germans, nine Chinese and nine Italians. A lesser number of citizens from 27 other countries also were on the passenger list, including two Americans.

Among them were three young Irish doctors, returning from two-week vacation in Brazil. Aisling Butler's father John paid tribute to his 26-year-old daughter, from Roscrea, County Tipperary. "She was a truly wonderful, exciting girl. She never flunked an exam in her life - nailed every one of them - and took it all in her stride," he said.

The Airbus A330-200 was cruising normally at 35,000 feet and 522 mph just before it disappeared nearly four hours into the flight. No trouble was reported as the plane left radar contact, beyond Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago.

But just north of the equator, a line of towering thunderstorms loomed. Bands of extremely turbulent weather stretched across the Atlantic toward Africa.

France's junior minister for transport, Dominique Bussereau, said the plane sent "a kind of outburst" of automated messages just before it disappeared, "which means something serious happened, as eventually the circuits switched off."

The pilot had 11,000 hours of flying experience, including 1,700 hours flying this aircraft. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that if the debris is confirmed to be part of Flight 447, "This will allow us to better determine the search zone."

"We are in a race against the clock in extremely difficult weather conditions and in a zone where depths reach up to 7,000 meters," he told lawmakers in the lower house of French parliament Tuesday.

The legislature held a moment of silence to honour the victims and the French soccer team will wear black arm bands and hold a moment of silence ahead of a match against Nigeria on Tuesday night.




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