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REX accuses Qantas Group of capacity dumping

Rex

Qantas is sending in “all the cavalry” to attack REX claims its deputy chairman John Sharp.

“It reminds me of the bitter war between Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and then Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti that led to the biggest loss in Qantas’s history and the beginning of the end of Virgin.”

“At the time Alan Joyce said that for every aircraft that Virgin Australia put in the sky he would put in two,” Mr. Sharp said.

“Today’s announcement of the deployment of 335-seat 787s and 180-seat A320s from Jetstar Japan [onto domestic routes] has all the hallmarks of capacity dumping.”

“And what an incredible coincidence that Virgin Australia announces 10 new aircraft and huge expansion on the same day and the same time.”

Virgin Australia made its announcement at 8.30 am Sydney time with Qantas’ ASX announcement following shortly afterwards at 8.38 am.

The Jetstar deployment was part of a wider Qantas Group announcement of increased capacity across the domestic and New Zealand network to meet demand stimulated by government fare subsidies, the opening of state borders, and the Trans-Tasman bubble.

Jetstar also announced discount fares undercutting Rex’s standard lead-in fares on key routes such as Sydney and Melbourne to the Gold Coast by $11 and $6 respectively.

But expansion is still on REX’s radar says Mr. Sharp.

“Our intention is to connect all the capital cities as the market recovers and our loadings are good.”

“Some flights are full while others not so but overall loadings are better than I would have expected at this time,” Mr. Sharp said.

The airline is also expanding its footprint significantly into key regional centers.

However, the ACCC, Australia’s consumer and competition watchdog said its “assessment is that airlines are adding additional capacity on a number of domestic leisure routes in response to increases in consumer demand, including due to international travel restrictions and because of the Government’s Tourism Aviation Network Support (TANS) package.”

A spokesman added that “the ACCC continues to monitor competition in the domestic aviation market and, in particular, as the industry stabilizes, we are watching for conduct that may raise competition concerns.”

Qantas pomises more cheap fares as domestic recovery soars

qantas

More cheap fares are promised as Qantas declares it’s back to 90 per cent of pre-COVID-19 domestic demand with the opening of a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand helping keep the airline’s recovery on track.

In an ASX update, Qantas said its short-term strategy remains to generate positive cash flow rather than returning to pre-COVID profit margins – meaning the positive impact on FY21 earnings from this increased activity will be relatively small.

It said that the continued growth in domestic capacity is expected to continue into FY22, with Jetstar to reach 120 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and Qantas to be at 107 per cent.

To compensate for a lack of international travel and support the Australian tourism industry the airline has added 34 new domestic routes since July last year.

To help meet increased demand for low fares leisure travel Jetstar will deploy six Airbus A320 aircraft on loan from Jetstar Japan on leisure routes and deploy up to five of its Boeing 787-8 aircraft, usually flown on international routes, in the domestic market from mid-year until international flying returns.

The Group has also engaged with Alliance Airlines to operate an initial three Embraer E190 aircraft from May to provide capacity on existing Qantas routes in northern and central Australia.

During the fourth quarter of FY21, the airline says 90 per cent of the Group’s aircraft will be active, compared with just 25 per cent at the height of the national lockdown in mid-2020.

All Qantas’ 787-9s have been reactivated and are operating repatriation flights on behalf of the Australian Government and some freight-only services.

The group said that both Qantas and Jetstar have seen strong demand since the two-way trans-Tasman bubble was announced with tens of thousands of bookings made in the first few days with the rate of Frequent Flyers using Qantas Points to book seats on the Tasman was 80 times higher than normal for the first four hours.

Qantas says that preparations for the reopening of international borders and the resumption of international flights in late October (beyond flights between Australia and New Zealand) are continuing, including reactivating aircraft and training employees.

However, it adds that it maintains flexibility to bring forward, push back or stagger the resumption of our international flights to align with any updates to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out timeline or approach to international travel.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said “we’re now seeing really positive signs of sustained recovery.

“This is the longest run of relative stability we’ve had with domestic borders for over a year and it’s reflected in the strong travel demand we saw over Easter and the forward bookings that are flowing in each week from all parts of the market.

“The Australian Government’s half-price fares program is having a direct and indirect impact on the sector and the direct response to the program has been fantastic, with over 250,000 fares sold in the first two weeks,” Mr. Joyce said.

“Corporate travel, including the small business segment, is now back to around 65 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and increasing month-on-month.”

But he added that “it’s important to keep this uptick in perspective. We are still facing a massive financial loss this year, which will be the second one in a row. We’ve lost more than $11 billion in revenue since the pandemic started and that number will keep growing until international travel recovers.

“We’ve used debt and shareholder equity to get through to this point, and our people have had the benefit of direct government support, which continues for those still stood down due to international border closures.

Virgin Australia adds aircraft, routes and frequencies

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia has announced major expansion plans with 10 additional aircraft, new routes, and increased frequencies to cater for robust domestic demand.

From May 23, the airline will increase flights between Sydney and Perth to four flights a day and Melbourne to Perth to six flights a day.

The airline will fast-track the reintroduction of 10 additional Boeing 737-800 aircraft and will have its domestic capacity up to more than 80 percent of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity by mid-June.

Virgin Australia Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said “we are building a strong and disciplined business, obsessed with providing our customers the very best of Virgin Australia travel experiences.”

Read: Qatar Airways a standout for COVID-19 safety  

“More aircraft means more flying, and with easing travel restrictions, there are more opportunities to further support domestic tourism and the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“Today, we are operating around 850 weekly return flights, and as we approach the June school holidays, we will add another 220 return flights per week to our schedule. By mid-June, we expect to be operating more than 80 percent of our pre-COVID domestic capacity.

More than 220 cabin crew will return to the skies from the airline’s discontinued long-haul international, ATR regional, and Tigerair Australia operations.

In addition, the airline will hire more than 150 new cabin crew.

The first three aircraft will join the airline’s mainline fleet this month while the remainder is set to progressively enter service by October.

The Company has also entered into wet-lease arrangements with Alliance Airlines to operate Fokker 100 services on behalf of Virgin Australia between Brisbane-Alice Springs and Brisbane-Mt Isa from 19 April 2021.

Using an Airbus A320 aircraft, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) will also move to operate select services on mainline routes between Perth-Darwin, Perth-Broome, and Perth-Adelaide from next month. These arrangements will support the redeployment of the Boeing 737 aircraft to other markets.

Trans-Tasman services to Queenstown are set to recommence ahead of the school holidays on September 18, 2021.

New and extended seasonal services include Melbourne to Hamilton Island, Darwin, and Byron Bay, and Brisbane to Launceston and Queenstown and Sydney to Queenstown.

Qantas to bring back its Airbus A380s

Qantas
Image: Qantas

Qantas expects to have all its 12 Airbus A380 jumbos back in service by 2024 but has left the hangar door open to bring them back sooner.

Speaking at CAPA Online Live Forum Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said “we think we will reactivate all of the A380s. We have spent a lot of money on them.”

In the year before the pandemic struck Qantas spend millions upgrading its A380 fleet to seat the new business product and an expanded premium economy.

READ: Qatar Airways a standout for COVID-19 safety.

The new configuration sees the number of First Suites stay the same at 14, 70 business suites (up by six), 60 premium economy seats (up by 25), and 341 economy seats (down by 30). The total seat count increases by one to 485.

The biggest change in the revamp is the replacement of aging business class seats with the Qantas Business Suite (below) in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Qantas

This gives all business class customers direct aisle access and is a boost in terms of comfort and storage.

There is also an expanded lounge (below) with seating for up to 10 business and first passengers.

Qantas A380 revamp

At the unveiling of the interiors in late 2019 Mr. Joyce told Airlineratings.com that “the  A380 is a crucial part of our long-haul fleet and this upgrade program will see customers enjoy everything the aircraft has to offer for years to come.”

And COVID-19 has not swayed My Joyce that the future will be any different. “Once demand is there, they’re going to be good aircraft,” he told the CAPA conference.

He added that “if demand comes back earlier, we can reactivate the A380s within three to six months.”

In the meantime, Qantas’s limited international operations are being operated by Boeing 787s and A330s.

Mr. Joyce said that if normal international operations open up in October the airline could reactivate 22 overseas destinations with the 236-seat 787.

 

 

Superb new books celebrate the era of airline tickets

Airline Tickets

Two superb new books celebrate the era of colorful airline tickets which had pages and pages of coupons for each sector.

Paper flight tickets have existed for almost one hundred years. In 2008, they became history and the new books – Tickets Please and More Tickets Please – pay homage to their glory.

Since scheduled flying started, paper tickets were the norm – until, in 2008, E-tickets replaced them worldwide. Their history began in 1910, at Deutsche Luftschifffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft DELAG, the German operator of Zeppelins, issuing multi-page air tickets to airship passengers.

Flying was something rather special, so the fledgling aviation industry didn’t make do with simple cardboard tickets like they used for train journeys for over a century.

READ: Qatar Airways a standout for COVID-19 safety

Since the first scheduled flight by an aircraft in 1914 in Florida, initially, air tickets did indeed resemble train tickets. But in 1930, the international aviation cartel IATA put down the first handwritten global guidelines for issuing air tickets, which were then kept through to the 1970s.

Since then, passengers were handed a small booklet, whose coupons allowed travel on a certain flight between two or more cities. A one-page coupon for each segment, with the full itinerary handwritten and copied via red carbon paper onto the following coupons.

Each coupon was like a cheque and had a certain monetary value, depending on the fare paid. Each of the booklets, however, initially carefully linen-bound, while stapled or glued together later, only contained up to four coupons. For longer trips, multiple booklets were issued.

Lufthansa reported a proud record in 1961 – at the time, for the journey of one passenger, the German airline issued a bundle of continuous tickets, whose total length fully unfolded added up to an incredible 5.35 meters (below).

Most pages of the pre-printed air ticket forms were dedicated to the legal small print. It included the conditions of carriage and the current liability conditions for traveling by air – which probably no one willing to fly ever read, even if travel by air was something more for the brave-hearted initially. It would have been quite disillusioning anyway – as the guaranteed compensation for lost baggage, harm to bodily health or even loss of life was ridiculously low for a long time.

Presumably, to instill positive anticipation in the customer for his or her journey instead of spreading fears, most airlines went to great lengths for decades to design their ticket covers to be visually attractive. This often resulted in terrific miniature art pieces, telling a lot about the origin, and the culture of the issuing airline.

Sebastian Schmitz, a flight attendant, has just published two books, presenting some of the most gorgeous examples in the history of paper airline tickets. We see pretty flamingos of a long-gone airline by the same name from the Bahamas and gracious cranes from Korea. The ticket booklets also mirror aviation history, many airlines, especially in the early years, were proudly displaying the most important aircraft they operated.

Initially, however, the globe was the most important symbol. Like in 1949 at Northwest Orient Airlines from the US: The cover page touts “Transatlantic and Around World Connections”, a sensation at the time. The curved lines of flight routes offered stretched from New York at the right edge of the page to Manila and Shanghai on the left. Above the North Pole, a fluffy cumulus cloud loomed.

The world of Alaska Airlines in 1955 was clearly more limited, just six destinations within the 50th US state are marked on the route map adorning the cover page, while a stylized DC-6 hovers above. Onboard these, the airline offered its Golden Nugget service in the late 1950s, including a saloon complete with piano.

Two real rarities in the book hail from the same era, from countries totally isolated at the time, China and North Korea – which hasn’t changed fundamentally for the latter, even 60 years later. Interestingly, the tickets of both airlines, CAAC from China and North Korean carrier Chosonminhang, are adorned by the same aircraft type, an Ilyushin IL-14. The Chinese showed it together with a stylized pagoda, while the North Koreans offered an ornamented column.

Aeroflot used a reminiscence to the early jet age in 1972, when it depicted the Tupolev Tu-104 on its ticket covers – although the premiere of the first Soviet jetliner had already been celebrated in 1956, and the type was withdrawn from service in 1979. And in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot was still issuing tickets with its traditional tagline “Soviet Airlines” including a stylized Ilyushin IL-62 on the cover.

The early era of the classic American jetliners was celebrated in lavish visuals, of course mostly within North America itself. The elegant lines of the Boeing 707 adorned the tickets of Eastern Air Lines (1964) and took the whole front page of Braniff’s 1965 red-linen-bound ticket booklet, complete with the slogan “El Dorado Super Jets”. US airlines were never shy to tout their aircraft in very ornate advertising terms.

 

Especially picturesque is the 707 shown on the 1966 air ticket of Ethiopian Airlines – and even in 2010 it still appeared on Saha Air tickets in Iran.

There, cut off by sanctions from the worldwide IATA reservation system, physical airline tickets were still handed out even after the general end of the paper ticket era elsewhere.

Also, the other classic airliner got promoted, the DC-8. As seen in 1962 at Trans Canada Airlines (predecessor of Air Canada) next to the big maple leaf logo of the airline. Particularly artistic was the ticket design of Iberia in 1969. A bright red rose curls up a wrench with its thorny stalk, while next to it, a DC-8 rises majestically into the air. Accompanied by the unbeatable slogan: “Iberia – where only the plane gets more attention than you.”

The ultimate in ticket poetry. The imagery of air tickets isn’t always crystal clear in its message, but usually a visual delight nevertheless. Too bad the era of paper tickets ended in 2008. At least it is meant to save an amount of paper per year for which 50,000 trees had to be cut before. And today’s E-tickets can’t be forgotten or lost anymore. But the old, printed ones were surely more beautiful.

Sebastian Schmitz: “Tickets Please!“ and “More Tickets Please” Astral Horizon, 160 pages, 15 Euros/UKP. Available via www.theairlineboutique.com

 

United Airlines launches ECO-Skies Alliance

United Airlines
United's Boeing 737 Max 9. Photo: United.

United Airlines is launching an ECO-Skies Alliance working with more than a dozen leading global corporations that will collectively contribute towards the purchase of approximately 3.4 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) this year.

With its nearly 80 per cent emissions reductions on a lifecycle basis compared to conventional jet fuel, this is enough SAF to eliminate approximately 31,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or enough to fly passengers over 220 million miles.

United Airlines says that as inaugural participants, the following companies are taking a lead within their respective industries, reducing their aviation-related impact on the environment at the source, and creating demand for more SAF production.

• Autodesk
• Boston Consulting Group
• CEVA Logistics
• Deloitte
• DHL Global Forwarding
• DSV Panalpina
• HP Inc.
• Nike
• Palantir
• Siemens
• Takeda Pharmaceuticals

“While we’ve partnered with companies for years to help them offset their flight emissions, we applaud those participating in the Eco-Skies Alliance for recognizing the need to go beyond carbon offsets and support SAF-powered flying, which will lead to more affordable supply and ultimately, lower emissions,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.

“This is just the beginning. Our goal is to add more companies to the Eco-Skies Alliance program, purchase more SAF and work across industries to find other innovative paths towards decarbonization.”

More details on United’s leading ECO role here:

United Airlines has made the airline industry’s single largest investment in SAF and has purchased more SAF than any other airline in the world. World Energy, a long-term partner of United, will supply the SAF to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which makes it conveniently accessible to United’s operations.

In addition to the Eco-Skies Alliance program, United is giving passengers the ability to
contribute funds for additional SAF purchases or for use on initiatives United believes will help decarbonize aviation – the first of any U.S. airline to do so.

United Airlines said that understanding there is a growing interest among customers for real, lasting solutions, this new capability will be available starting immediately via portal on united.com/ecoskiesalliance.

“We know there is a growing demand from a wide range of our customers including
corporations, cargo shippers, and individuals who share the same concern we do – that climate change is the most pressing issue of our generation,” Kirby said.

United Airlines said that it believes the airline industry needs to be bolder when it comes to making decisions that confront the climate crisis. That’s why we’ve committed to become 100 per cent green and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 100 per cent by 2050 by taking the harder, better path of reducing emissions from flying, rather than relying on traditional carbon offsets.

 

Airlineratings talks international travel bans on Skynews

skynews

Airlineratings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas has been interviewed on Skynews about the opening of international borders from Australia.

See the interview here;

Mr. Thomas said that Australia is going to have “travel bubbles like the one with New Zealand which starts on April 19.

“We’re also going to have travel corridors,” Mr. Thomas told Sky News.

“You’re going to have countries like Brazil that will be simply black banned. People are not being vaccinated fast enough. People are dying in record numbers,” Mr. Thomas.

He also warned about new more dangerous variants of the coronavirus.

“It’s going to be a patchwork of situations around the world depending on the local conditions,” Mr. Thomas said.

 

 

Love aircraft? You will love this stunning video.

Aircarft

Ever wonder who captures those great air-to-air of aircraft that you see in movies and on TV commercials.

Well, have a look at this showreel from Wolfe Air.

Since the 1980′s Wolfe Air has offered a wide variety of aircraft equipped with state of the art aerial camera systems to capture the perfect shots.

Every major motion picture studio and commercial production company turns to Wolfe Air for help with their aerial production challenges.

This show-reel contains both commercial and military aircraft but we thought you would enjoy the ride.

See our video tribute to Concorde

 

Historic Qantas photos brought to life with color

qantas

It is an art in itself – bringing aging black and white aviation photos to life with brilliant color and this collection of Qantas B&W pictures highlight the skills of 23-year old Frenchman Benoit Vienne.

Mr. Vienne brings color to aviation and it is a passion that started years ago when playing historical video games. That passion was ignited when he discovered colorized photos on the internet.

“I was so impressed by the feeling a colorized photo can bring.

READ: Qatar Airways a standout for COVID-19 safety.

“A lot of young people feel a bit disconnected when they see a black and white photo but when it’s colorized, the feeling is completely different.

“When you see a colorized photo, you feel close to the people. You connect.”

But it is far from a simple process taking hours of meticulous work.

color to aviation
Qantas and Boeing executives and their wives about to board the airline’s first 707 for its delivery flight to Australia. in 1959 Boeing photo colorized by Benoit Vienne.

“Colorizing a black and white photo can take a lot of time and sometimes you have to repair it first, says Mr. Vienne.

“The aim of the colorist is to bring back to life a moment that was captured through a photo. When you colorize, you bring back people to life, it’s a sort of second life for them.”

“Of course, most of the colorists (including myself) are trying to respect the colors of the past. When you are colorizing a photo of a soldier or an aviator, you have to respect the colors of the time.

“When I am doing Qantas aircraft with Australian scenes the colors are different from Europe.”

Inaugural around world Constellation service. One Connie went east the other west.

But first Mr. Vienne had to master photoshop – an art in itself.

“I started to colorize in early 2015 but it was really hard to use photoshop because it was the first time that I was using the program. “

But months of practice had paid big dividends with Mr. Vienne colorizing hundreds of military photos of British, French American, and German soldiers as well as civilian portraits and weddings.

For AirlineRatings.com Mr. Vienne has colorized hundreds of airline interior and aircraft pictures that have proved very popular with the website’s millions of followers.

Inaugural 707 flight from Sydney to London in 1959.
Qantas Catalina Flying Boat operated between Perth and Sri Lanka during WW11. The flights lasted up to 32 hours in radio silence. When the flights ended on 18 July 1945, the aircraft had made 271 crossings and had carried 858 passengers more than one million miles without a single accident.

 

Qantas engineers performing engine maintenance in 1923.

 

The supersonic airliner that turned into a white elephant

Boeing's 2707 mockup
Boeing's 2707 supersonic airliner mockup

In the 1960s the Boeing 2707 supersonic transport was to be the future of air travel but it turned out to be a billion-dollar white elephant despite the best efforts of Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace manufacturer.

Now AirlineRatings.com can open its unique archives to let you take a peek at the development of the original B2707 prototype, the cabin and the men behind it.

READ: Story of Concorde

In January 1958 after a number of years of informal work Boeing established a supersonic project office but quickly found that because of the enormous cost of the project it was thought to be beyond the financial capability of any private company.

Maynard Pennell in front of the Boeing 2707
Maynard Pennell chief designer of the B2707 with the mockup. Boeing Historical Archives photo colorized by Benoit Vienne

Despite doubts, and because Pan American World Airways ordered six Anglo / French Concordes in 1963, President John F Kennedy launched the US counter to the Concorde, essentially on national pride.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called for tenders from the US industry to build an aircraft superior to the Concorde.

Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas and North American responded.

Lockheed's L2000
Mockup of Lockheed’s entry – the L2000- into the supersonic race with flight attendants from Braniff Airways.

Boeing which took a high-risk technology road with a radical swing-wing submission won the competition in December 1966 by claiming its SST design would have seat mile costs below those of the 707.

Boeing's B2707 mockup
Boeing’s 2707 mockup. Boeing Historical Archives

Boeing was to build two prototypes over four years at a cost of $1.44 billion in 1967 dollars or $35 billion today!

Twenty-six airlines took 122 delivery positions with Pan Am, TWA and Alitalia to be among the first to fly the jet.

The Boeing design was an extraordinary gamble based almost solely on the American “can do” attitude.

Boeing 2707 mockup
Boeing employees at the unveiling of the mockup under construction. Boeing Historical Archives image colorized by Benoit Vienne

Because the B2707 was to fly at Mach 2.7 (1,800mph or 2,898km/h) it would have to be built entirely from stainless steel and titanium materials that were thought to be difficult to work with at the time.

But as work progressed, it became evident that the swing-wing design was flawed meaning the Boeing 2707 would be able to carry virtually no payload.

Also, the level of noise it produced together with the sonic boom, were now insurmountable difficulties.

Interior of Boeing's 2707
Braniff Flight attendants pose in the mockup f the B2707. Boeing Historical Acrhives

Boeing scrapped the swing-wing in October 1968 in favor of a fixed delta-wing design but as construction proceeded with the mock-up, the aircraft ran into another obstacle much greater than the sound barrier — the cost hurdle.

Models of supersonic transports
Models of the modified B2707 with a fixed delta wing and the Russian TU144 and Concorde.

Congress was now deeply worried at both the rising cost of the 2707 project and growing public disquiet — led by the famous Charles Lindbergh — over its engine noise and sonic boom.

Finally, environmental concerns and critics of government spending won the day and in March 1971, the US Senate and the House of Representatives voted to kill the project. At the time, the US investment in the B2707 was $1 billion (1971 dollars).

The B2707, together with the Concorde, was a watershed in commercial aviation. It was the first time that environmental concerns sounded the death knell of a project.

Flight deck of Boeing's 2707
Flightdeck of the Boeing 2707. Boeing Historical Archives.

At the same time, airline concerns over operating costs of aircraft had also become significant, flagging that the future in aviation was more than ever to be focused on reducing the cost of flying and flying’s effect on the environment.

Despite the host of problems associated with supersonic travel, serious studies continued as aircraft manufacturers searched for answers on how to break the environmental and economic barriers of supersonic flight.

B2707 cabin mock-up
Another cabin mockup concept for the B2707

During the mid-1990s, Boeing teamed with McDonnell Douglas, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric in a $1.3 billion NASA-funded study into a High-Speed Civil Transport (HSCT).

The study aircraft would carry 290 passengers at Mach 2.4 (1,585mph or 2,551km/h) and would be able to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in 4.5 hours compared to the typical 10.3 hours. For the research, a Tu-144 was restored to flying condition.

But the challenge of designing an aircraft that would carry three times the payload of the Concorde double the distance without hiking standard ticket prices and not affecting the environment proved impossible and the project was dropped.

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