Monday, May 31, 2010

Growing number of near-misses in US skies alarms aviation officials

Washington: The growing number of aircraft near-misses in US skies is making civilian aviation authorities increasingly concerned and has prompted them to reexamine air traffic control procedures.

“Over the last weeks there have been a number of instances where separation was lost between aircraft and in some cases there was a bit of a delay of notification that obviously caused some concern,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

He said that all these incidents, the latest of which occurred just on May 21, remain under investigation.

“Anytime you lose the required separation between aircraft, it’s unacceptable, and we work to figure out what happen and what we can do to prevent similar ones,” Lunsford pointed out.

More than half a dozen extreme near-misses have been reported by the FAA over the past two months, prompting the National Transportation Safety Board to launch an inquiry.

On Friday, the NTSB reported that an Airbus A319 passenger jet and a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane had been involved in an incident over Alaska a week ago.

The board said the Airbus, US Airways Flight 140, was carrying 138 passengers and crew and the cargo plane a crew of two when they “came within an estimated 30 meters vertically and a 530-meter lateral separation.”

The May 21 incident occurred at night near Anchorage International Airport as the cargo plane took off for Chicago and the US Airways flight was coming in for a landing from Phoenix, Arizona, the NTSB said in a statement.

The Airbus pilots scrapped their initial landing attempt due to tailwinds and after requesting new landing instructions from the control tower, were told to turn right and report back when they saw the 747 departing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Air France plans to jettison freight business

Paris - In light of massive financial losses from its freight division, Air France is expected to give up its freight division, French daily Figaro reported Saturday.
The company is expected to tell its employees on Monday about the division's closure, reported the paper. That would mean freight would only be shipped in available space on passenger planes.
Air France has lost 660 million euros (809.9 million dollars) on its freight division in the last two years. The division has also shrunk from 47 per cent to 26 per cent of goods transported by the company, with the freighter fleet declining from 11 to five planes.

Source :,report-air-france-plans-to-jettison-freight-business.html

Friday, May 28, 2010

Boeing announces aviation biofuels deal in China

Boeing, PetroChina and Chinese energy and aviation industry representatives Thursday announced an agreement to evaluate establishing a sustainable aviation biofuels industry in China.

The assessment, set to start in June, will look at all phases of biofuel development and supports a broader sustainable aviation biofuel agreement between China's National Energy Administration and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Boeing said.

"Boeing is actively pursuing biofuel research around the world," Boeing China President David Wang said in a news release. "Sustainable biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions while offering the potential to lessen aviation's dependence on fossil fuels. Through these agreements China, its aviation sector and its leadership are demonstrating tremendous drive in the quest to develop a clean, sustainable aviation fuel supply."

Also, Boeing Research & Technology and the Chinese Academy of Science's Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology have agreed to expand their collaboration on algae-based aviation biofuel development to bring in other research institutions and aviation supply chain members. Boeing and the academy previously announced they would create a joint sustainable aviation biofuels research and development laboratory in Qingdao.

Finally, Air China, PetroChina, Boeing and Honeywell's UOP have agreed to conduct an inaugural flight in China using sustainable biofuel derived from biomass grown and processed in that country.

Source :

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A report "Capacity and Frequency Analysis for Intra-European Operations" by UK-based RDC Aviation makes some interesting points about capacity distribution in Europe. The top ten airlines in terms of seat capacity in Apr-2010 were headed by Ryanair with 7.3 million, a 13.3% increase, followed by Lufthansa (5.7 million +2.8%) and Air France (3.8 million -8.4%).

Immediately after these two legacy giants came the other two largest European LCCs, easyJet and Air Berlin, the former with 4.4 million seats (+10.1%) and the latter with 3.0 million (+22%), having streamlined its fleet in 2009 and having moved back into an operating profit during the year.

Those airlines continuing to languish in the month (the data not being affected by the volcanic ash cloud or industrial action though it may have been skewed by the Easter period falling in April this year) included BA (2.4 million -2.0%) and its putative partner Iberia (2.3 million -13.8%), which is still suffering from the reduction in leisure traffic to Spain. Alitalia (2.1 million +15.5%) continues to recover its position in the Italian - European air markets.

Overall, LCCs had the largest market share, at 34%, in terms of intra-European seats, followed by Star Alliance member airlines (25%), other airlines (16%), Skyteam (13%) and oneworld (9%).

No time Toulouse
RDC Aviation also provides data on the top intra-European city pairs. Despite the growing influence of the AVE high-speed train in Spain, and its presence on the Madrid-Barcelona route (via Zaragoza), that air route continues to have the most capacity of any European route and actually grew in Apr-2010 to 434,778 seats (+1.6%). Neither have the TGV high-speed trains in France unduly affected the routes Paris Orly to Toulouse (242,872 -2.6%) and Paris Orly – Nice (221,127 +3.4%). Traffic on two Italian routes were well down – Rome to Milan and Rome to Catania (Sicily) and slightly down on Rome – Palermo (also Sicily).

Alitalia has reduced its presence in Milan then some of the slack was taken up by Lufthansa Italia but it, too, decided to suspend Milan-Rome services. Again, there is a high speed rail service between Rome and Milan, since Dec-2008, which reduced travel time to around 3.5 hours for the 480 km route and which is reputed to be cheaper overall than the air fare (which is not always the case in Europe, especially in the UK).

Also figuring in the table are air routes connecting the second and third largest German cities, Hamburg and Munich, (which are at opposite ends of the country and right on the cusp of operating efficiency for the ICE rail trains over air travel at just over 600 km apart), and those connecting the chief commercial city, Frankfurt, with the capital, Berlin. The capacity here was stable in Apr-2010.

The route Istanbul (Ataturk) – Izmir also makes the top ten - though down by 7.5% - again indicating the popularity of Turkey as a vacation destination momentarily and making up the numbers is Oslo – Bergen in Norway (+34.8%), a difficult cross country surface journey between the capital and the chief oil industry city on the North Sea coast.

Top ten European city-pairs by capacity, Apr-2010

Madrid-Barcelona: 434,778 seats: +1.6% year-on-year;
Paris Orly-Toulouse: 242,872, -2.6%;
Rome Fiumicino-Milan Linate: 233,017, -25.3%;
Rome Fiumicino-Catania: 232,949, -18.1%;
Paris Orly-Nice: 221,127, +3.4%;
Rome Fiumicino-Palermo: 204,262, -5.0%;
Oslo- Bergen: 204,341, +34.8%;
Istanbul Ataturk-Izmir: 199,347, -7.5%;
Munich-Hamburg: 191,694, -3.3%;
Frankfurt-Berlin Tegel: 191,263, +0.1%.

Source :

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are Traditional "Black Boxes" Obsolete?

Canada's Star Navigation Systems Group Ltd. has created TerraStar, a real-time in-flight safety monitoring system that could make the post-crash search for cockpit voice and flight data recorders -- as well as some crashes -- obsolete. TerraStar tracks, and can continuously encrypt and transmit to ground-based monitoring systems, up to 18,000-plus aircraft parameters per minute. The system filters "out of spec" indications as "alert notifications," which are prioritized in remote aircraft monitoring data feeds that can be accessed in real time, online. In practice, that means that operators on the ground could know about problems with an aircraft before the plane's pilots, or (in the case of distracted or incapacitated pilots) air traffic controllers observe any symptoms. The company believes that capability could not only vastly improve scheduling and maintenance, but also provide operators with the necessary data to break some accident chains before the crash. And, in the case of Air France 447 and the recent Air India crash, it could have provided more information to investigators, immediately, says the company.

Source :

Crash Raises Issue of India’s Aviation Oversight

MUMBAI, India — An Air India flight that crashed after landing in southern India on Saturday killed 158 people and raised questions about India’s oversight of a rapidly growing aviation industry.

The immediate cause of the accident appeared to be pilot error: the Boeing 737 overshot the hilltop runway in Mangalore, one of India’s trickiest airports, on the southwestern coast.

But pilots and safety experts said the error may have been compounded by weaknesses in India’s safety inspection regime, inadequate training and an airport that critics said should never have been built in such a difficult spot.

“This incident should not have happened,” said Kapil Kaul, who heads the Indian and Middle East arm of the Center for Asian Pacific Aviation, a consulting firm.

Aviation officials said the pilot missed the landing threshold, a critical section of the runway at airports where runways are short because of hilly terrain. The plane, arriving from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, then veered off the runway and struck a concrete navigational aid, Aviation Minister Praful Patel said at a news conference at the airport. “The wing fell off and the aircraft plunged into the valley,” he said.

Only 8 of the 160 passengers and 6 crew members survived, according to the airline, which is owned and operated by the Indian government.

“As soon as we landed, the tire burst,” one of the survivors told a local television crew from his hospital bed. “Within three seconds there was a fire blast. The inside was filled with smoke.” He said he escaped through a crack in the fuselage.

The accident focused attention on India’s booming but troubled aviation industry, one that reflects the contradictions of a nation with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies but where electricity is irregular and clean water scarce, and many people struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day.

Start-up commercial airlines have grown exponentially here in recent years. The number of domestic air passengers has tripled in the last five years, and the number of international passengers traveling to and from the country has doubled.

But infrastructure and safety have not kept pace, Mr. Kaul said. Industry and government must make a “quantum leap” to catch up on safety and training, he said.

Many airlines, including Air India, are losing hundreds of millions of dollars. In New Delhi, where the government is building a new 42-acre terminal, power failures sometimes shut down runway lights and air traffic control equipment.

Although India has had few major accidents in recent years — the last major crash was in 2000 — the number of near collisions and other safety problems has been increasing. Last year, for instance, there were three near-miss collisions at the airport in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital. In New Delhi, several people were killed in 2008 by vehicles on the tarmac.

Mangalore, in the Western Ghats, or hills, region, has other limitations imposed by geography. Just a week ago, Mr. Patel, the aviation minister, inaugurated a new terminal there, promising that work to extend the runway would start soon.

On Saturday, he denied that poor planning was a factor in the accident. He said that an older runway at the airport was “even smaller,” and that there had been no accidents on it.

The newer runway, while shorter than those in other major Indian airports, is more than adequate for landing a Boeing 737, aviation experts said.

But critics said it was neither long enough nor wide enough to allow room for such a large jet to compensate for error. Environment Support Group, one of several groups that sued twice to stop the airport’s expansion, said the new runway did not comply with existing Indian laws or international standards.

The lawsuits also said the site was unsuitable for heavy commercial traffic because it was on a plateau, surrounded by industrial smokestacks and garbage dumps that attracted birds, and it would be impossible for emergency crews to reach airplanes that crashed off the plateau quickly enough to rescue passengers.

The High Court dismissed the suits, and the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in 2003.

The crash on Saturday, the Environment Support Group said in a statement, was “no accident, but a direct result of the series of deliberate failures of officials and key decision makers.”

But it remained unclear to what extent the accident may have been related to the wider problems across India’s aviation industry.

“This particular incident appears like a pilot error, and therefore it can happen anywhere,” said Sanat Kaul, a former aviation official who also once was on Air India’s board of directors. “Aviation safety is a bigger issue, and it shouldn’t be mixed up with a crash like this.”

The pilot, identified by The Associated Press as Zlatko Glusica, 55, a British citizen of Serbian origin, had landed the same aircraft in Mangalore 19 times before. He had 7,500 hours of flying experience, including 3,500 on this type of plane, Mr. Kaul said.

In addition, aviation officials said that the weather was clear. And the plane, a Boeing 737-800, was relatively new, having made its first flight in December 2007, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The 737-800 has been involved in five fatal accidents since entering service in 1998.

But investigators were still trying to determine what factors may have led to the error and caused it to be so devastating.

Experts say India has been lax in training aviation specialists, including air traffic controllers, maintenance engineers, pilots and regulators. Mr. Kaul estimates that just 10 percent of the industry staff members trained at local schools are qualified to do their jobs.

A 2006 audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization found hundreds of safety violations, and scored India worst on “technical personnel qualification and training.”

Inadequate pilot training has bedeviled the aviation industry, especially as it has expanded. Many airlines have hired foreign pilots because demand for air travel was outstripping the pace at which India could mint new pilots.

The industry employs about 600 expatriate pilots, but the government has ordered airlines to replace them with Indians by next summer, raising concerns about how the country will be able to produce enough qualified pilots so quickly.

India requires 200 hours of flying time and a high school diploma to co-pilot a passenger airline, compared with 250 hours required by the American Federal Aviation Administration. But many American airlines have minimum requirements of 1,000 hours or more, according to the F.A.A.'s web site.

Pilots here said that even that minimum was often skirted.

“A lot of people I graduated with, if I knew they were flying a plane I wouldn’t get on it,” said one new commercial pilot in New Delhi who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing his peers.

“Basically you pay the flight schools a lot of money” and in return they give you a license, he said. Trainee pilots sometimes pay others to fly the required hours on their behalf.

Pilots say that Air India has a reputation for paying well and not requiring long hours, but that the planes often have technical problems. The company’s engineers often find loopholes to clear planes to fly, said one commercial pilot who flies for another airline.

The aviation industry has also been plagued by a shortage of qualified safety inspectors.

In April 2008, the director general of civil aviation, Kanu Gohain, told the business newspaper Mint that India had just 3 inspectors for 10 commercial airlines and 600 planes, well below global norms.

While the government has since been able to raise the number — by hiring 14 permanent inspectors and borrowing another 14 from commercial airlines — Mr. Ranganathan says many are inadequately trained.

Moreover, lapsed inspections over the last few years have left a backlog that may take years to eliminate, he added.

“If you look from 2004 to 2009, they were just very few safety audits done,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s only in the last year that things were done. We are paying for that.”

Source :

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Frequent flyer payout -- great to lousy

How likely are you to find a "free" seat with your miles when and where you want to go? That depends, says a recent study, on the airline you fly. Among the 22 programs in the study, the range of success rates runs from "almost every time" to "hardly ever."

Researchers from IdeaWorks tried to book frequent flyer award seats on more than 6,000 flights in summer through fall 2010, and they found a wide disparity in success rate among the 22 programs compared: Southwest, 99 percent; Air Berlin, 99 percent; Air Canada, 94 percent, Virgin Blue, 90 percent; Lufthansa, 86 percent; Singapore, 77 percent; Iberia, 76 percent; Alaska, 75 percent; Jet Airways, 73 percent; Qantas, 73 percent; Continental, 71 percent; United, 69 percent; AirTran, 68 percent; Cathay Pacific, 67 percent; British Airways, 65 percent; SAS, 64 percent; American, 58 percent; Air France/KLM, 56 percent; Emirates, 36 percent; Turkish, 35 percent; Delta, 13 percent, and US Airways, 11 percent. Requests covered two coach/economy seats, round-trip, at each line's base lower award level, for itineraries that avoided circuitous routings, on a mix of long- and short-haul routes. IdeaWorks, a research firm, conducted the survey on behalf of ezRez Software, a supplier to the travel industry.

These results jibe with my much more limited experience. The main airline options from my home airport are United or Delta, and I've had good results with United. With Delta, on the other hand, I've been unable to find flights when/where I wanted at the base award levels and I've found that Delta's online planning tool typically came up with a mileage requirement higher than the program's nominal "get any seat" requirement.

Clearly, the study's raw average numbers leave a lot of questions unanswered: How much would the results have differed for routes you want to travel? How much different with plus-or-minus travel windows of two or three days in either direction? How much different in different classes of service? How much different if you're a high-status "elite" frequent flyer? Even without answers to these questions, however, the results provide some useful conclusions and guidance:

-- Success rates for long-haul flights -- the best use of miles -- were lower than for short trips.

-- For travel within North America, you stand a far better chance of finding an award trip on Southwest or Air Canada than on any other line.

-- The odds of finding what you want are reasonably good on Continental, United, or AirTran -- a conclusion that might answer some of your questions about the proposed Continental/United merger -- and a bit better than 50-50 on American.

-- You stand at least a two-to-one chance of getting an award seat you want on most of the big international lines, except for Emirates and Turkish.

-- Given the disparity of success rates, you should always check partner airlines in whatever program you use. Your Delta miles might do better, for example, with Air France/KLM than with Delta, and your US Air miles might do better with United or Air Canada.

The extremely poor showing of Delta and US Airways raises questions about whether those programs are worth pursuing. I know that I'm seriously reconsidering the prospect of dumping some American Express miles into Delta, and instead thinking maybe of betting on the merger and dumping them into Continental.

Clearly, if you're a frequent flyer, you need lots more data than these summary numbers. You probably won't get any more from this study, however, part of a proprietary report that ezRez is selling to travel industry clients. And unless the government steps in with much stiffer disclosure requirements, you aren't likely to get any more from the individual airlines, either.

Still, these data provide more guidance than anything I have seen anywhere else, and they should open the door to airline secrecy at least a little bit. Meanwhile, you have to keep in mind that the objective of airline programs today is to make money, not to reward loyalty -- and especially not loyalty to a credit card. As measured by "elite qualifying" miles, the rewards for actual loyalty are upgrades and other preferential treatments. If all you have is miles, to an airline, you're just a liability on the books.

Source :,0,1789163.column

Air France Launches A380 Shuttle

 Airbus likely didn't envision its super-long-range flagship A380 being used as a shuttle but Air France apparently thinks it can make money hopping across the English Channel with the giant airliner. The airline will begin summer weekend A380 service between London's Heathrow and Paris's Charles de Gaulle airports June 12. There will be one flight a day each way from Saturday to Monday for most of the summer and Friday flights will be added for July. Air France is launching the service with a seat sale and one-way tickets are about $275 on the reservations Web site.

The gate-to-gate flight time is about 75 minutes, most of it spent in climb and descent. Obviously the flight will increase capacity on the already-busy route but Air France also has some internal reasons for the move. The airline currently operates three A380s on traditional long-haul routes like Paris-Johannesburg and Paris-New York and it has nine more super jumbos on order. The London-Paris hop is a good way to introduce large numbers of cabin and flight crew members to the aircraft in a relatively short period of time in advance of the other aircraft deliveries.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

European Gasoline Falls to 10-Week Low; KLM Sells Fuel

European gasoline prices fell to a 10-week low, after crude oil dropped for a fifth day on global economic concerns. Air France-KLM Group’s KLM unit sold jet fuel on speculation ash cloud will affect air travel.
Gasoline barges in Europe’s oil-trading hub of Amsterdam- Rotterdam-Antwerp traded between $712 and $716 a metric ton, according to a Bloomberg survey of brokers and traders today. That is the lowest since March 3 and compares with deals between $730 and $744 on May 14.
Royal Dutch Shell sold 6,000 tons to Gunvor at $712 and 1,000 tons each to Trafigura and BP Plc, respectively. The deals were for Eurobob grade, to which ethanol is added to make finished automotive fuel.
Brent crude for July delivery, Europe’s benchmark, fell as low as $76.23 a barrel, down 2.18 percent from Friday on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices were at $78.10 at 11:14 a.m.
Jet fuel barges prices in the ARA region dropped as ash from a volcano in Iceland continued to disrupt European travel.
KLM sold a 4.1-ton barge CIF Ghent at a premium of $49 a ton to June ICE gasoil futures. Free on board, or FOB, Rotterdam barges were trading at premiums of $46 and $47 a ton, compared with $49 on May 14. Oil sold on a CIF basis are for delivery including cost, insurance and freight while FOB deals are for loading from a specified port or terminal.
Airports in Amsterdam, Europe’s fifth-busiest as well as Edinburgh and Dublin are closed and London terminals face restrictions as the return of the volcanic ash cloud grounds at least 1,000 flights across the region.
BP Plc shut some units at its 400,000 barrel-a-day Rotterdam refinery following a power outage caused by a disruption in the main electricity grid operated by Stedin.
“We hope to begin starting up the units in the course of this morning,” BP spokesman Carlo Eijkels said today.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 416,000 barrel-a-day Pernis refinery, Europe’s largest, hasn’t been affected, Wim van de Wiel, a spokesman, said by phone.
Diesel barges were bid and offered at premiums of $14.5 and $16 a ton to June gasoil futures, compared with trades at $14 and 14.5 on May 14.
Gasoil futures fell to a 10-week low as the June contract lost 2.83 percent to $643.50 a ton before rebounding to $656 at 11:12 a.m. local time.
Gasoil barges for prompt delivery in the ARA-area traded at discounts of between $7 and $9 a ton to gasoil futures according to the survey, compared with $9 and $10 on Friday.
Naphtha’s discount to Brent for June narrowed for a third session to $0.53 a barrel from $1.35 on Friday, the smallest gap since March 18, according to PVM Associates. Naphtha is used in gasoline and petrochemicals.

Source :

Air France-KLM to Report $614 Million Cargo Loss

Fiscal 2009/2010 results due Wednesday expected to show deepening losses
Air France-KLM's cargo business is set to report an annual $614 million operating loss this week, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
The cargo unit, Europe's largest, will account for more than a third of the Franco-Dutch carrier's projected annual loss of around $1.6 billion, Le Figaro said.
Air France-KLM declined to comment on the report ahead of the release of its fiscal 2009/2010 results on Wednesday.
Air France-KLM's cargo unit lost $459 million in the nine months to December 31 compared with a year earlier loss of $70 million while revenue shrunk 26 percent to $766 million from $1.07 billion.
Air France-KLM is downsizing its freighter operations following heavy loss in the past 18 months.
The airline is transferring some of its 29 cargo aircraft to its Amsterdam-based Martinair subsidiary, and maximizing the use of cargo capacity on its passenger aircraft and "combi" passenger/cargo planes.
Air France-KLM recently sold two yet-to-be delivered 777 freighters to Federal Express. It also leased three 747-400 freighters to Russia's Air Bridge.
The carrier's closest European rival, Lufthansa, lost $210 million on its cargo operations in 2009 but says it could return to the black this year if the steep rises in volume and freight rates continue.
Lufthansa Cargo increased April traffic by 13.8 percent in April from a year ago while Air France-KLM's freight volume declined by 2 percent.

Source :

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Air France to fly an A380 between London and Paris?

The world's largest passenger aircraft may soon be flying on one of the world's shortest routes between two major cities. Air France is reportedly considering deploying one of its 538-seat Airbus A380 jets on the 215-mile route between London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Why would Air France use the A380 – designed with long-haul flights in mind – on the short hop across the English Channel? To more efficiently train its staff, according to a report in the French Le Figaro newspaper.

"On a long haul flight we can train two staff in 24 hours but on a short haul flight we can do several a day," an Air France source tells paper, according to The Connexion, a French English-language publication.

Elsewhere, an Air France spokeswoman gives another possible reason to Air Transport Intelligence. That publication writes: "She adds that Paris-London is a busy route and other carriers have shown that they can justify large-capacity aircraft on relatively short, high-density sectors."

Le Figaro says the Paris-London A380 service would begin June 12, though Air France officials say nothing's official yet. An airline spokesman tells AFP the idea "is being looked into," though he adds "nothing has been confirmed."

Business Traveller magazine says Air France would use the A380 on the route "temporarily," though the publication suggests it would likely "be a matter of weeks rather than months."

Source :

More than 100 die in plane crash in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya, May 12 (UPI) -- One child survived and more than 100 people died when a passenger airplane crashed at Tripoli International Airport, Libyan officials said.
The Afriqiyah Airways flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, crashed as it was attempting to land, the BBC reported. The flight was to continue to London Gatwick Airport.
Officials said the Airbus 330 carried 93 passengers of various nationalities and 11 crew members.
The survivor was a Dutch child, a Libyan minister said.
The British Foreign Office said it was looking into whether British nationals were on board the flight.
"We are urgently investigating. A consular team from the British Embassy are on their way to the airport. Consular staff in Tripoli are urgently seeking further details," the Foreign Office said.
Workers with surgical masks combed through the wreckage spread over a large area, CNN reported.
Officials said they recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which investigators use to reconstruct a flight's final minutes.
Afriqiyah Airways was founded in 2001, The New York Times reported. It has 13 aircraft in its fleet and flies to 25 countries, mainly in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Source :

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Airbus : le bon niveau de production complique les négociations salariales

source : Le Monde ( du 7/05/2010

Aeroport de Paris needs a partner for its onsite advertising

Aéroports de Paris is organising an invitation to tender to find a partner with which it will set up a joint venture company ("Operating Company") whose purpose will be the operating and marketing of the group's advertising spaces as its principal activity and, to a lesser extent, providing a closed-circuit silent audiovisual communication service on the sites managed by Aéroports de Paris in the Ile de France region. To this end, Aéroports de Paris is issuing a call for bidders in order to shortlist the companies that will be authorised to submit a tender.

Call for bidder : (click on it to enlarge)

source : International Herald Tribune ( 7/05/2010


source : les échos ( mai 2010

Volcanic ash disrupts air traffic in Europe again

An ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused further disruption to airline operations in Europe, mainly affecting flights to and from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Austria, Scotland and Ireland over the weekend.
Transatlantic flights were subject to "significant rerouting" that resulted in delays, Eurocontrol said. There were 22,424 flights within the parameters of Eurocontrol's Central Flow Management Unit on Saturday, about 200 below normal traffic levels, and on Sunday there were 23,491 flights, about 1,500 below normal traffic levels.
By yesterday morning the areas of high ash concentration had dispersed and no airports were closed in Europe. But forecasts warned of the possibility of areas of higher ash concentration moving into the Iberian Peninsula by late yesterday. An area of ash cloud in the middle of the North Atlantic continued to impact transatlantic flights Monday, leading to major reroutings. Eurocontrol expected approximately 28,500 flights yesterday, 500 below average.
Eurocontrol is sending "Air Ash Concentration Charts" describing proposed no-fly and caution zones to its EU member states in line with agreements reached last week by the EU Transport Council and Eurocontrol member states plus Estonia and Iceland (ATWOnline, May 5). Airlines operating aircraft in airspace with low levels of contamination from volcanic ash are requested to do pre- and post-flight inspections to detect any erosion, accumulation of ash or aircraft/engine damage or system degradation.
Ryanair confirmed Sunday that two of its 737-800s at Belfast City showed "small" traces of ash in their engines. Air France said that a pilot reported "an odor" during a flight from Perpignan to Paris Orly but a "thorough" maintenance check on the A319 showed that "neither the outside of the aircraft nor the engines showed technical abnormality nor was there any evidence that the aircraft had encountered volcanic ash."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Google moves into online travel business

Google, the world's most popular search engine, is expanding its reach in the lucrative online travel business.
In March, Google added hotel links to its Maps application, listing hotels with room rates available to some users.

Google also is reportedly in talks to pay $1 billion to acquire ITA Software, which develops fare-shopping software for online travel agencies, airlines and fare-search-only sites, such as Bing Travel and Kayak.

Incorporating fares into Google search results would keep customers more engaged in its applications while they plan for travel, a prospect that could unnerve other fare sites. Users would be able to type in their destination and travel dates, and see flights and prices.

Now, Google users can plug in dates and cities, but only get links to other booking sites, such as Orbitz, Expedia and Hotwire.

Google declined to comment about the acquisition talks. But, says Google spokeswoman Victoria Katsarou, "We always have travel in mind. We're trying to make it easier for our users."

The potential acquisition, if completed, "would be a game changer and a clear signal of Google's interest in travel," says Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor.

Analysts say Google is interested in providing information but not offering bookings. Google relies on advertising revenue from online travel agencies and has said in the past it doesn't want to engage in transactions. "I doubt Google would ever want to take a reservation," Kaufer says.

Norm Rose, president of Travel Tech Consulting, says Google will likely rely on other sites for buying tickets. "If you hear that it's bad news for online travel agencies, it's premature," he says.

But if Google moves to offer fare results, it could threaten shopping sites that similarly provide only fares. "It could be difficult for sites like Kayak to maintain competitiveness," Rose says.

Kayak didn't reply to a request to comment.

Google's interest in fare information may have been triggered by Microsoft's acquisition of Farecast two years ago, Rose says. Using Farecast's software, Microsoft introduced a travel site in its latest search engine, Bing, that stood out from the pack by providing predictions on whether fares would rise or fall.

Bing's Mike Fridgen says Google is "clearly the No. 1 referral to travel sites today."

Noting Bing Travel's growth since it was launched last year, Fridgen says about 60% of travel shoppers start travel planning with a search engine.

Google has an array of tools available that would make shopping for fares different from shopping for them on other sites.

For example, Google could choose to display fares on its global map, allowing armchair travelers to browse through fares from their home city, Rose says.

It could also expand offerings in travel itinerary management, in which travelers can store all their reservations, he says. "There has to be another piece to this," he says.

Meanwhile, Google's mobile phone operating system, Android, is gaining in popularity. And Google Maps allows users to tailor it for their trips and provides public transportation information.

Source :

Aer Lingus upbeat for 2010, despite volcano related losses

Aer Lingus says the group's financial performance for the next three months will be 'significantly impacted' by recent airspace disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, but the company is still upbeat in its outlook for the rest of 2010.

In its interim management statement released today, which deals with Aer Lingus' performance for the first three months of 2010, it said its initial estimate of the cost of the airspace disruption will approximately €20m.

Aer Lingus said that total revenues for the first three months of 2010 were down 1.8% to €230m from €234m. The airline said it made an operating loss of €37.8m for the three month period, an improvement from losses of €74.8m the same time last year.

The airline said that total operating expenses were down 13.3% due to lower staff and fuel costs as well as lower volume related costs such as airport charges. Average fare per passenger from short haul and long haul operations increased by 3% and 12.4%, respectively.

It said its cost cutting programme has resulted in savings of €2.8m so far this year mainly due to pay cuts and job cuts. However it said some of these savings have been offset by disruptions to operations due to the volcanic ash. It is also waiting for a Labour Relations Commission ruling on cabin crew rostering.

Christoph Mueller, Aer Lingus’ CEO said in the statement, “Our Q1 2010 operating result represents a significant improvement over the period in 2009. We have also achieved meaningful progress on several of the key strategic objectives set out at our Investor Day in January: We have adopted a disciplined approach to yield management, which has arrested the decline in average fare per passenger that we experienced in 2009. We enhanced our network with the launch of our extended code-share with United Airlines and the Aer Lingus Regional franchise in March.

"The Greenfield programme is now underway and staff savings with an annual value of €18m have already been achieved. While we are very encouraged by first quarter trading, it is nonetheless appropriate to remain cautious on full year 2010 performance” he concluded.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The New Aircraft Builders

The Canadian aircraft maker has gone challenging the current duopole of Airbus and Boeing with its CS300.

The Brazilian aircraft maker has imposed itself as a world leader in smaller airliners with its E-Jet series. It was jesting with Bombardier in a duopole for some time until the Canadian company decided to enter another field.

The Russian company renown for its military aircraft has launched a development program for a commercial airliner, the Superjet-100, with Putin's blessing as the Russian market is up for grabs. The older, prouder soviet era companies (Tupolev, Antonov, Yakolev) have been plagued by failures.

The announcement by a Japanese manufacturer was surprising. The MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) has nevertheless the chance of taking a share of the market, with Boeing backing it.

China will take the time it needs. It can send man into space. It can build its own airplane, the C919, with the know how that has been poured into the country by western company.

Everyone is building aircrafts that all look the same. What we need right now is enough imagination to get to the next stage of air travel. We need a breakthrough before oil runs out.

Ryanair faces tax probe in France

Ryanair is under investigation for allegedly evading up to €4.5m (£3.9m) in payroll taxes in France.
The airline, which is already involved in tit-for-tat lawsuits with Air France about public subsidies, is suspected of employing 120 people in France on Irish contracts.
Under EU law, this is permitted only for short periods or if the employee genuinely works in more than one country.
French officials, who recently raided Ryanair's offices at Marseilles airport, suspect that the Dublin-based airline employs 120 people full-time in France, including 30 pilots, but pays their social charges in Ireland.
French social security and other payroll taxes are up to three times higher than in Ireland and fall especially hard on the employer. By employing French-based staff on Irish contracts, Ryanair is accused of gaining an unfair competitive advantage and, in effect, cheating the French government.
British cut-price airline, easyJet, was found guilty early this month of travail dissimulé — employing undeclared workers — after it hired 170 people on British contracts at Orly airport in Paris between 2003 and 2006. The airline, which insisted it had not knowingly broken the law, was ordered to pay €1.4m to the French state.
A formal investigation has now been launched against Ryanair by the public prosecutor in the Aix-en-Provence region, which covers Marseilles airport. The Irish carrier is suspected of travail dissimulé, as well as “illicit lending out of workers” and “illicit employment of flight crew”.
The airline said it had not been told about the investigation and could not comment. French judicial authorities are expected to seek an international warrant to question senior Ryanair executives in Dublin.
Ryanair flies to more than a dozen destinations in France from Dublin and British airports. It has built a successful network between regional airports in France and other EU countries. Marseilles is its major hub.
There are grey areas in EU law about the payment of social charges. An employee must always pay income tax in the country where he or she works but bilateral deals between governments sometimes allow social charges to be paid, for fixed periods, in the employer's or employee's home country.
Ryanair has also been accused by Air France of claiming illegal public subsidies from French local authorities to fly to regional airports. Ryanair has launched a countersuit against Air France, accusing the French flag-carrier of receiving hidden subsidies and advantages from the state.

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Conventional Wisdom

Continental, United to merge, create world's biggest airline

AFP - United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced Monday they had agreed to merge, creating the world's biggest carrier in an all-stock transaction approved by the boards of both companies.
The transaction, which has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies, still needs to be approved by the shareholders.
But the companies said they expected to complete the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The new merged giant, which will keep the United name and maintain its headquarters in Chicago, will account for seven percent of global airline capacity, ahead of US rival Delta, which currently leads with six percent, US media reported.
It will also have a 21 percent share of the huge US air market.

Arbitrator orders Thales to reimburse Taiwan for kickbacks

The French defence group Thales confirmed Monday that it has been court-ordered to pay damages and interest on unauthorised commissions relating to the sale of six frigates to Taiwan in 1991. The amount comes to a total of 630 million euros.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - Arbitrators ordered French defence group Thales on Monday to compensate Taiwan in a dispute over a warship sale in 1991, the company said, with reports putting the figure at hundreds of millions of dollars (euros).
"Thales has been ordered to pay damages and interest," a spokesman for the company told AFP, adding that the company would later announce the full amount of the payments ordered.
The newspaper Le Figaro reported that the amount was around a billion dollars (750 million euros).
It said the arbitrators ordered the payments to Taiwan to make up for unauthorised commissions that were paid to help Thomson-CSF, the company that later became Thales, win a deal to sell six frigates to Taiwan in 1991.
The contract governing the deal forbade such payments and stipulated that any illicit commissions would have to be repaid to Taiwan. The contract also said that any dispute would be settled by the panel of arbitrators.
The Thales company spearheaded the sale, but the main stake in the contract was held by the French state-owned shipbuilder DCN. Several sources said the French state would have to pay 70 percent of the penalty.