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How Airbus A350 went from defeat to victory

Airbus A350

The dramatic arrival of the prototype Airbus A350-1000 this week to commemorate the signing of the largest order in Qantas’s 102-year storied history was in stark contrast to one of Airbus’s most humiliating order defeats at the hand of Flying Kangaroo in 2005.

In December that year, Qantas ordered up to 115 Boeing 787s over the initial A350 model which, at the time, was a heavily compromised design dubbed the “Band-Aid 787”.

The A350, which was launched in 2004 to counter the 787, was a mismatch of the existing A330 used by Qantas on domestic and international routes, married to a new composite wing and the latest General Electric engines.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020

Qantas has nearly always purchased aircraft with growth potential but turned up its nose and opted for the Boeing 787. Although to-date, the group has only taken 25 of the 115 jets it signed up for.

The loss of the prestigious Qantas order, and subsequent criticism of the A350 from the world’s two biggest leasing companies, sent Airbus back to the drawing board.

Just six months after the crushing Qantas loss, Airbus in 2006 announced that the redesigned A350 aircraft would be wider and called the “A350 XWB” (Xtra-Wide-Body).

Airbus A350 being towed into the Qantas hangar for the order signing ceremony.
Airbus A350 being towed into the Qantas hangar for the order signing ceremony. Credit: Credit Qantas

A few days later Singapore Airlines, which had earlier rejected the aircraft, ordered 40 and more orders flowed with another 500 sold since the Qantas-inspired makeover.

However, the fuselage was still aluminium and pressure from Emirates forced Airbus to opt for a lighter carbon fibre composite to match the 787.

After two years of messing with a compromise solution to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, Airbus had a viable dream machine of its own.

But it was well behind and the changes had resulted in a two-year delay to delivery and doubled the development costs to $US10 billion ($14.2b).

Fortunately for Airbus, Boeing ran into major production delays with its 787 and it didn’t enter service until 2011 — three years later than first promised.

Qantas launched its Project Sunrise in 2017, pitting Boeing’s new 777X against the A350-1000. But before the evaluation was complete the 777X was running into delays that would put its entry into service later than the Qantas requirement.

Airbus was also able to extract more range from its design without major changes, putting it in poll position to win the order which was announced in December 2019.

Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (LEFT) at the signing for Airbus jets.
Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (LEFT) at the signing for Airbus jets. Credit: Credit Qantas

Qantas’s version of the A350-1000 will be able to fly not only from Sydney to London nonstop but also from Perth to LA nonstop.

Qantas’ $34 billion deal with Airbus is for up to 146 new planes. Chief executive Alan Joyce committed to using the A350-1000s on Perth-London flights from 2026.

Boeing quits Chicago for Arlington, Virginia.

Boeing

Boeing has announced that it is moving its global HQ from Chicago to its Arlington, Virginia campus just outside Washington, D.C.

The aerospace and defence firm’s employees based at Arlington support various corporate functions and specialize in advanced aircraft development and autonomous systems.

Boeing said that in addition to designating Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.

“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia. The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent,” said Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun.

Boeing said it will maintain a significant presence at its Chicago location and the surrounding region.

“We greatly appreciate our continuing relationships in Chicago and throughout Illinois. We look forward to maintaining a strong presence in the city and the state,” Mr Calhoun said.

Boeing said that over the past two years, it has implemented flexible and virtual solutions that have enabled the company to reduce its office space needs. At its Chicago office, less office space will be required for the employees who will continue to be based there. Boeing will adapt and modernize the workspace to better support future work requirements.

“In today’s business environment, we have adopted a flexible work strategy in parts of our company and are taking steps to be more efficient within a reduced footprint. This helps us channel investments toward our critical manufacturing and engineering facilities and training resources,” Mr Calhoun said.

As part of its effort to tap into engineering and technology talent across the U.S and around the world, Boeing plans to establish a research and technology hub in Northern Virginia. The hub will focus on developing innovations in the areas of cyber security, autonomous operations, quantum sciences and software and systems engineering.

“The future of Boeing is digital,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief engineer and executive vice president of Engineering, Test and Technology. “Focusing our R&D and talent development in areas that support digital innovation will fuel the introduction of cutting-edge capabilities. This new hub in Northern Virginia will follow the successful implementation of this technology strategy in other regions.”

Boeing, the country’s largest exporter employs more than 140,000 people and is hiring as the commercial market recovers and the company invests in production, innovation and product development. The company’s three business units will continue to be based at their current headquarters, which include:

  • Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, Wash.
  • Boeing Global Services in Plano, Texas
  • Boeing Defense, Space and Security in Arlington, Va.

In addition to the company’s operations, Boeing works with more than 12,000 businesses supporting more than one million supplier jobs across the United States and located in every state. Globally, the company has operations in more than 65 countries.

 

Qantas to face stiff competition scrutiny of Alliance deal

qantas

Qantas will face stiff competition scrutiny of its proposed deal to buy Alliance Aviation as it will give it the lion’s share of the important resource charter market.

On Thursday, May 5, 2022, Qantas announced it had reached a deal to fully acquire Australian-based operator Alliance Aviation Services, enabling it to snare a much greater share of the resources sector while picking up the world’s largest spares inventory for Fokker 100 jets.

However, the deal would see Qantas dominate the resources charter market, and it will face turbulence with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Qantas has 40 per cent of the resources charter market, Alliance and Virgin Australia 20 per cent each, Cobham 7 per cent, Skippers 5 per cent and the balance is held by another five operators.

The agreement, which is subject to a vote from Alliance shareholders would see Qantas buy the other 80 per cent of the carrier it does not already own.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020

READ: AirAsia renews refund promise

Alliance has a fleet of 72, 100-seat aircraft -ERJ190s and Fokker 100s & 70s – in service or on order used mainly on resource charters and servicing other airlines with cross leases.

Qantas is Alliance’s biggest customer, with a long-term agreement that sees Alliance operate up to 18 E190 jets for QantasLink and the deal would see it acquire all 33 of the jets.

Virgin Australia also has agreements with Alliance for various types of leases.

Qantas purchased just under 20 per cent of Alliance in February 2019 and at the time flagged its long-term interest in acquiring 100 per cent of the airline.

The ACCC investigated that minority holding for three years and last month made no findings that it lessened competition.

However, total control is another dynamic suggests industry watchers who say Virgin Australia and Skippers Aviation in WA will mount opposition to the plan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the resource companies also object to the acquisition,” one industry veteran said.

Resources giants BHP, Rio Tinto, FMG, Woodside and Hancock Prospecting have built their operations around fly-in-fly-out flights to bring employees to sites in northwest Australia.

Under the agreement announced yesterday, the remaining 80 per cent of Alliance will be acquired through a scheme of arrangement, with Alliance shareholders receiving Qantas shares worth $4.75 for each Alliance share they hold, representing a 32 per cent premium to Alliance’s volume-weighted average price for the past three months.

Qantas will issue new shares valued at about $614 million in a transaction that is expected to be earnings-per-share accretive for Qantas shareholders, before synergies.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said acquiring the remaining shares in Alliance would mean QantasLink can better compete in the highly competitive charter segment, particularly given the shared fleet type of Fokker aircraft.

“Alliance’s fleet of Fokker aircraft are perfect for efficiently serving resources customers in WA and Queensland. They also have a big inventory of spare parts that would significantly extend the practical life of a combined fleet of around almost 70 Fokkers,” Mr Joyce said.

Qantaslink has 18 Fokker 100s based in Perth.

Mr Joyce added that “keeping these aircraft operating reliably for longer than either carrier could achieve by themselves will help keep costs down, which is ultimately good news for charter customers. There are also benefits from bringing together our operations planning and training facilities.

 

In major shakeup Qantas to buy Alliance Aviation

Alliance Airlines

Qantas has reached an agreement to fully acquire Australian-based operator, Alliance Aviation Services Ltd enabling it to better serve the growing resources sector.

The agreement, which is subject to a vote from Alliance shareholders and competition clearance, would see Alliance become a wholly-owned part of the Qantas Group.

Alliance has a fleet of 70, 100-seat aircraft used mainly on resource charters and accounts for around 2 per cent of the total domestic market.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020

Qantas is Alliance’s biggest customer, with a long-term agreement that sees Alliance operate up to 18 E190 jets for QantasLink and this arrangement has helped open new direct routes and increase frequency across regional Australia.

Qantas bought just under 20 per cent of Alliance in February 2019 and at the time flagged its long-term interest in acquiring 100 per cent of the airline.

The ACCC investigated that minority holding for three years and made no findings that it lessened competition.

Under the agreement announced today, the remaining 80 per cent would be acquired through a scheme of arrangement where Alliance shareholders receive Qantas shares worth $4.75 for each Alliance share they hold, representing a 32 per cent premium to Alliance’s volume-weighted average price for the past three months.

Qantas would issue new shares valued at approximately $614 million in a transaction that is expected to be EPS accretive for Qantas shareholders, before synergies.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said acquiring the remaining shares in Alliance would mean QantasLink can better compete in the highly competitive charter segment, particularly given the shared fleet type of Fokker aircraft.

“Alliance’s fleet of Fokker aircraft are perfect for efficiently serving resources customers in WA and Queensland. They also have a big inventory of spare parts that would significantly extend the practical life of a combined fleet of around almost 70 Fokkers.

“Keeping these aircraft operating reliably for longer than either carrier could achieve by themselves will help keep costs down, which is ultimately good news for charter customers. There are also benefits from bringing together our operations planning and training facilities.

“The resources sector continues to grow and any new tender for airline services will be very competitive. It makes a lot of sense for us to combine with Alliance to improve the services we can offer, which is a positive for both airlines as well as the travelling public.

“We’ve opened up several new passenger routes using up to 18 of Alliance’s E190s, so bringing all 33 of these aircraft, plus their crews, into the Qantas Group would really expand what we could achieve.”

AirAsia renews refund promise but asks for patience as flights return

AirAsia

AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes has promised the airline “will continue to settle all outstanding refund requests as soon as possible.”

In an exclusive statement to AirlineRatings.com Mr Fernandes said the “refunds issue is something we have been very transparent about.

“When you have 220 planes on the ground and you’re not owned by the government nor any benefactor, my number one job is to keep the airline alive.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020

“It wasn’t just passengers we couldn’t pay immediately, but the aim is that it’s better to have AirAsia alive rather than dead.

“So at least by delaying payments, we were able to survive and now we are operating again, we are paying back our guests.

Tony Fernandes

“AirAsia Group has paid back nearly everyone, the majority of our guests decided to take a credit shell to help us. AirAsia has opened the world to many people so they said, `ok’, you are having problems so we will take a credit shell.”

“Whilst the majority of guests have accepted a credit shell, AirAsia will continue to settle all outstanding refund requests as soon as possible.”

“In our case, there’s a confusion between AirAsia and AirAsia X. AAX was in a much more difficult situation. However, importantly we will make good to all of our guests as soon as possible.”

AirAsia X recently announced vouchers for everyone with outstanding credit valid for five years.

“Like anything the majority have been amazing. It’s better we are alive so at least you have a chance to get something back. If we go bust then that money has gone already,” said Mr Fernandes.

The AirAsia Group said:

“AirAsia sincerely thanks its valued guests for their patience and understanding during what has been the most tumultuous time in aviation history. Handling the sheer volume of customer queries when we were flying up to 100 million passengers a year has been no easy feat.

“However we continue to do all we can. AirAsia Group remains committed to resolving all outstanding entitlements to guests as soon as possible.

“AirAsia Group’s policies are in line with many low-cost operators in the travel industry worldwide and are fully compliant with all regulatory requirements in each of the regions we operate in.

The Group has spoken to over five million guests since the pandemic began and has resolved the vast majority of the queries relating to cancelled flights by issuing credit accounts, refunds or moving guests to other flights.”

“Guests are encouraged to accept a credit account which will be provided on the same day of application, valid for future travel bookings, two years from the issuance date.

“Similar to a number of other low-cost airlines, refunds will generally take longer due to the prolonged effect of the Covid-19 crisis, and the fact that AirAsia has had very limited opportunities to operate over the past two years.

“AirAsia has resolved over 99 per cent of all customer entitlements during the pandemic, in the form of a flight refund or credit.

“However, we understand the frustration and challenges for guests who are still waiting for refunds. We keep guests updated frequently with emails regarding their refund status and guests are also able to check the status of their refund 24/7 via AVA, our AI chatbot.

“We thank the majority of guests who have chosen to take a credit account for future travel. This process is immediate and provides maximum flexibility with validity for booking travel two years in advance, which is longer than many other airline credits.”

AirAsia X has recently resumed services between KL and Sydney and plans to add additional services to Australia in the near future.

AirAsia Indonesia has confirmed it will be resuming daily operations between Perth and Bali commencing 15 May 2022 and also plans additional services in the future to and from Perth.

 

Alaska Airlines reveals Star Wars themed 737

Star Wars

Alaska Airlines has joined forces with Disneyland Resort, to unveil a new, one-of-its-kind Star Wars-themed aircraft that even Chewbacca would be proud of.

The 737 painted space black with the iconic Millennium Falcon emblazoned on the tail chased by TIE fighters, celebrates Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the newest land of adventure inside Disneyland park.

For this latest collaboration – Alaska’s seventh painted plane for the Disneyland Resort – no Jedi mind tricks were needed: the force was strong for a Star Wars livery to finally enter Alaska’s fleet. The aircraft’s official name is “Star Wars Transport to the Disneyland Resort” with a tail number of N538AS.

The unique design of the Star Wars-inspired plane is a collaboration among teams at Alaska, Disneyland Resort and Lucasfilm. Familiar spacecraft span each side of the plane with hand painted, detailed imagery: the Millennium Falcon and four TIE fighters.

Designers at Disneyland Resort focused on the incredibly identifiable, widely recognized Millennium Falcon for the spotlight, in addition to the well-travelled spaceship being the focal point at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a 14-acre land in Disneyland park.

The Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Disneyland Resort logos are featured in the center of the fuselage. For a lighthearted touch, porgs (the cute avian creatures that lived on Luke Skywalker’s remote island) look back at passengers from both winglets, as another porg greets guests at the boarding door.

To bring the imagery to life, the plane’s exterior required 228 gallons of paint applied during 540 work hours over 27 days. For the painting, 23 base colors were used with numerous custom colors mixed onsite for the detailed airbrushing of the Millennium Falcon and the TIE fighters.

Air New Zealand stunning new safety video highlights Tiaki Promise

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has launched a new safety video, which tells the story of the Tiaki Promise which encourages both New Zealanders and international visitors to care for our place, our culture and our people.

The story follows Tiaki, a young man who boards a waka rererangi (flying canoe) and sets off on an adventure across Aotearoa (New Zealand).

With the help of Air New Zealand and Julie (a character that embodies the rest of New Zealand), he visits four Māori guardians including Papatūānuku (the land), Tangaroa (sea), Tāne Mahuta (forest) and Ranginui (sky). Along the way, he seeks advice from these guardians on how better to look after them.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020.

SEE the podcast: Flight Safety Detectives dissect the Netflix doco “Downfall”.

READ: Can the giant AN-225 fly again?

READ: More serious questions raised about the ATSB’s MH370 data review

Air New Zealand General Manager Brand and Marketing Jeremy O’Brien said as people start to return to Aotearoa, this safety video is an invitation to them to act as guardians while they’re here.

“We want tourism to build back better than it was before and part of that is to share with our visitors a sense of kaitiaki – to encourage them to act as guardians of our country. Our safety videos are world-renowned and through them, we have an opportunity to educate and inspire ourselves, our customers and Aotearoa on the importance of Tiaki and everything it stands for. It’s about being good hosts, and good visitors.

“Julie’s character in the safety video is there to show that caring for New Zealand isn’t something Tiaki can do alone. It requires all of us to follow the Promise and commit to protecting Aotearoa for future generations to come.

“I’d like to thank Pou Tikanga and storyteller, Joe Harawira, New Zealand Māori Tourism and the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute for guiding us, right from concept to the building of the waka, and the cultural formalities we followed throughout. The collaborative effort has helped us share this story and the principles of Tiaki authentically.”

The airline said it worked closely with the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute to design the waka and its carvings. From there it was taken to the various filming locations and flown on wires to create real shadows and textures for post-production.

Cutting-edge LED stage screens, used in The Mandalorian TV series, helped to bring the legends of Māori culture to life, and it was this motion technology that created a seamless shift from the real world to the fantastical.

Tiaki Promise

In 2018, Air New Zealand, along with six other organisations, created the Tiaki Promise – a way to educate New Zealand visitors about protecting and enhancing our country – and this safety video builds on the work already at play with the Promise.

The Tiaki Promise sees travellers

  • Care for land, sea and nature. Treading lightly and leaving no trace.
  • Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all.
  • Respect culture, travelling with an open heart and mind.

 

 

Fabulous colour video of flying in the Golden Age of travel

This fabulous colour video brings to life flying in the Golden Age of travel.

The video is 30 minutes in length and was produced by Shell one of the leading suppliers of aviation fuel.

READ: Qantas 11 weeks from bankruptcy in 2020.

So make a cup of tea or coffee sit back and enjoy some nostalgia!!

Featured are the great piston-engine airliners of the 1950s from Douglas, Lockheed, Boeing, Convair, and British manufacturers such as Vickers.

Air Travel Promo Film & Travelogue – 1957

Film by the Shell Oil Company, via the archives of Robert Hoskins. Propliners galore in this wonderful promo/travelogue from 1957. Lots of great footage of Connies, Strats, Convairs, DC-7s, Britannias, Herons, Viscounts, etc. For educational & non commercial purposes only. Check out our You Tube channel to see hundreds of VINTAGE & RARE airliner videos! http://youtube.com/user/mcdonnell220

Posted by Classic Airliner Videos on Monday, 28 September 2015

Here are pictures of some of the airliners featured. All are colourised by Benoit Vienne.

Douglas

Omicron and Russia-Ukraine war impact air cargo

air cargo
Photo: Alexandr Markin/Wikimedia Commons.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the March 2022 data for global air cargo markets showing a drop in demand due to the effects of Omicron in Asia, the Russia – Ukraine war.

The figures show global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 5.2 per cent compared to March 2021. Capacity was 1.2 per cent above March 2021 but is a significant decline from the 11.2 per cent year-on-year increase in February.

Asia and Europe experienced the largest falls in capacity.

IATA said that several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

    • The war in Ukraine led to a fall in cargo capacity used to serve Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key cargo players. Sanctions against Russia led to disruptions in manufacturing. And rising oil prices are having a negative economic impact, including raising costs for shipping.
    • New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, are now shrinking in all markets except the US. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicator tracking global new export orders fell to 48.2 in March. This was the lowest since July 2020.
    • Global goods trade has continued to decline in 2022, with China’s economy growing more slowly because of COVID-19 related lockdowns (among other factors); and supply chain disruptions amplified by the war in Ukraine.
    • General consumer price inflation for the G7 countries was at 6.3% year-on-year in February 2022, the highest since 1982.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said; “Air cargo markets mirror global economic developments. In March, the trading environment took a turn for the worse.

“The combination of war in Ukraine and the spread of the Omicron variant in Asia have led to rising energy costs, exacerbated supply chain disruptions, and fed inflationary pressure.

“As a result, compared to a year ago, there are fewer goods being shipped—including by air. Peace in Ukraine and a shift in China’s COVID-19 policy would do much to ease the industry’s headwinds.

“As neither appears likely in the short-term, we can expect growing challenges for air cargo just as passenger markets are accelerating their recovery.”

Qantas brings back Perth-London nonstop earlier than planned

Qantas
A Qantas 787. Photo: Qantas

Qantas has brought forward the resumption of its Perth-London nonstop due to increasing demand for its direct service, which is the airline’s most popular.

The service – QF9/10- was scheduled to return on June 19 and will now re-start on May 23.

One of the factors contributing to the earlier resumption has been the current routing via Darwin to London is impacted by the effective closure of Russian airspace, which has meant additional fuel and thus lower payloads.

Qantas said that with bookings for these non-stop flights above pre-COVID levels, the Darwin to London services have very few seats available over the next six weeks.

The flight path from Perth to London is more direct, which means there are no airspace issues and thus no restrictions on the number of passengers.

SEE the podcast: Flight Safety Detectives dissect the Netflix doco “Downfall”.

READ: Can the giant AN-225 fly again?

READ: More serious questions raised about the ATSB’s MH370 data review

Qantas International chief executive Andrew David said “the NT Government and Darwin Airport went above and beyond so that we could operate these services when WA kept its borders closed, and we’re extremely grateful for their partnership.

“While it has been great to operate from the Top End, we’ve always said that Perth remained the long-term home of these flights.

“We’re looking forward to reconnecting Western Australia to Europe earlier than anticipated and enabling more customers to fly.”

Prior to COVID the QF9/10 was Qantas’s most popular and profitable service with passenger load factors in the mid 90 per cent.

This week Qantas boss Alan Joyce assured the Perth-London nonstop is here to stay and that later this decade the 787s would be replaced by the more capable and spacious A350 that the airline ordered Monday.

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