Monday, January 31, 2011

Sukhoi Superjet 100 wins type certification from Russian authorities

Russian aircraft certification authority IAC AR on Friday approved type certification for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 clearing the way for first delivery of the long-delayed aircraft, which rolled out in September 2007 and made its first flight nearly three years ago. The program was formally launched by Sukhoi in 2004 as the RRJ (Russian Regional Jet).

"The type certificate confirms the compliance of the aircraft with the IAC certification norms and airworthiness directives thus opening the way to start commercial operation," Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. stated, noting that it was also granteda design organization approval certificate from IAC AR.

Launch customer Aeroflot holds firm orders for 30 SSJ100s plus 15 options while Armavia, which has two on firm order with two options, was expected to take first delivery.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Airlines' path for profits: Fly less, charge more

After a decade of multibillion-dollar losses, U.S. airlines appear to be on course to prosper for years to come for a simple reason: They are flying less.

By grounding planes and eliminating flights, airlines have cut costs and pushed fares higher. As the global economy rebounds, travel demand is rising and planes are as full as they've been in years.

Profit margins at big airlines are the highest in at least a decade, according to the government. The eight largest U.S. airlines are forecast to earn more than $5 billion this year and $5.6 billion in 2012.

U.S. airlines are in the midst of reporting fourth-quarter results that should cap the industry's first moneymaking year since 2007.

"The industry is in the best position — certainly in a decade — to post profitability," says Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly. "The industry is much better prepared today than it was a decade ago."

The airlines' turnaround has benefited investors — the Arca airlines stock index has nearly quadrupled since March 2009 — but it's been tough on travelers.

Fares in the U.S. have risen 14 percent from a year ago, according to travel consultant Bob Harrell. Flights are more crowded than they've been in decades. On domestic flights, fewer than one in five seats are empty. Space is even tighter over the summer and holidays. That's why it took a week to rebook all the travelers who were stranded by a snowstorm that hit the Northeast over Christmas weekend.

Travelers also face fees these days for services that used to be part of the ticket price, such as checking luggage (usually $25 to $35 per bag) and rebooking on a different flight (usually $150 for a domestic flight, more when flying overseas).

"I'm not averse to anyone making money — that's great — but (to) take things away and then charge for them, that's not right," said Rick Jellow, an executive who travels in his job for a lighting-systems company in Virginia.

From 2000 through 2009, U.S. airlines lost about $60 billion and eliminated 160,000 jobs, according to an industry trade group, the Air Transport Association.

During that tumultuous decade, airlines were hit with a series of events beyond their control: two recessions; the Sept. 11 attacks; an avian flu outbreak that scared away many travelers, and rising fuel costs.

The industry was profitable in 2000, 2006 and 2007, when the economy was roaring. But those boom years masked the industry's underlying problems, including high costs and more seats than travelers demanded. During 2008 and 2009, airlines lost a combined $23 billion, but they were also attacking their problems, setting the stage for a comeback in 2010.
  • They eliminated money-losing flights. When travel demand recovered, airlines could raise ticket prices for the smaller supply of seats.
  • They grounded older, gas-guzzling airplanes. The government says the major U.S. airlines, plus freight delivery companies FedEx and UPS, used 11.39 billion gallons of jet fuel in the first nine months of 2010, down 11.4 percent from the same period a year earlier. The price of a gallon of jet fuel jumped 20 percent year over year, but overall fuel spending rose just 6 percent.
  • They added fees. In the first nine months of 2010, airlines collected more than $4.3 billion from fees for checking baggage and changing tickets, up 13.5 percent from the comparable period in 2009.
  • They consolidated. Delta Air Lines Inc. bought Northwest in 2008, and United and Continental combined last year. That leaves four so-called network carriers that operate from hub airports, down from six. And Southwest Airlines Co.'s pending purchase of AirTran Airways will combine two of the biggest discount carriers. Fewer airlines should mean higher fares.

Delta, Southwest, United Continental and US Airways are expected to have earned nearly $4 billion combined in 2010. The latter two report results on Wednesday. The parent of American Airlines, which suffers from higher costs than the others, said last week it lost $389 million.

The economy is expected to grow faster in 2011 and 2012 than it did in 2010, and this should give the industry a lift. But, there are some challenges on the horizon.

The biggest, is higher fuel prices. With oil hovering around $90 a barrel, jet fuel on the spot market costs about $2.60 a gallon, the highest it's been in more than two years. This will temper industrywide profit margins. Still, Soleil Securities analyst James Higgins says most airlines would make money this year even if oil hits $100.

Another factor that will determine how long the industry's profitability lasts is how individual airlines manage growth. Rightly, the airlines so far have been cautious about adding more flights as travel demand picks up. In the past, they added flights and brought back grounded aircraft too quickly. That led to a glut of seats and falling airfares.

"The wild card is always capacity discipline," says William Swelbar, a director at Hawaiian Airlines' parent and an airline industry researcher at MIT. "All it takes is one carrier to begin to add capacity aggressively, and then we follow and we undo all the good work that's been done."

Moscow Domodedovo blast kills at least 35; world leaders condemn terrorist attack

An explosion that occurred at Moscow Domodedovo Airport around 4:30 p.m. local time Monday is believed to have killed at least 35 people and injured dozens of others. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in televised remarks that evidence points to "a terror attack" at Russia's busiest airport, while US President Barack Obama condemned what he called an "outrageous act of terrorism."

The blast detonated inside DME's international arrivals hall, reportedly just outside customs clearance, where crowds were gathered awaiting arriving passengers who had claimed bags from flights arriving from around the world. Medvedev said he was forming a "task force" to immediately begin investigating "while the trail is still warm." He said a "special [security] regime" would be put in place at all Russian airports and other "large transport facilities," but did not specify details.

Even as first responders tended to the dead and wounded in the smoky DME arrivals hall, there appeared to be consensus that the explosion was caused by terrorism. Russian media widely reported that a suicide bomber was responsible, saying the explosion emitted shrapnel that added to the carnage.

President Obama issued a statement in which he described the explosion as a "premeditated attack against innocent civilians." UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a "deplorable and unjustifiable act of violence against innocents." French President Nicholas Sarkozy said it was a "barbaric and cowardly terrorist act." The blast appears to be the second major act of terrorism in the Moscow region in less than a year; the city's subway system was attacked last March by suicide bombings that left 40 dead.

It is unclear how airport security worldwide will be affected by the DME explosion, which occurred in a crowded area of the airport that can be accessed without passing through a security checkpoint. Minneapolis-St. Paul International announced that it was increasing the police presence around the airport, particularly on the curbs outside its terminals and at the airport perimeter; it said it had not been asked to do so by the US government.

Source :

Friday, January 21, 2011

EasyJet Drops Most in 6 1/2 Years as First-Half Loss May Double

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- EasyJet Plc tumbled 16 percent, the most in 6 1/2 years, after Europe’s second-biggest discount airline said its first-half loss may double after fuel costs rose and icy weather and strikes caused flights to be canceled.

The pretax loss for the six months to March 31 will be as much as 160 million pounds ($256 million), versus 78.7 million pounds a year earlier, Luton, England-based EasyJet said today.

Disruption from Britain’s coldest December on record and walkouts by air-traffic controllers in France and Spain lifted costs by 18 million pounds and 6 million pounds respectively in the first quarter, wiping 7 million pounds from profit, EasyJet said. First-half kerosene costs may be 30 million pounds higher.

“With oil close to $100 a barrel, fuel is a big, big issue,” said Gert Zonneveld, an analyst at Panmure Gordon in London with a “buy” rating on the stock. “And in the economic climate we’re in it’s more difficult to compensate with price increases, especially while they’re adding seats at such a pace.”

EasyJet fell 73.8 pence to 382 pence, the steepest decline since June 7, 2004, paring the company’s market value to 1.64 billion pounds. The stock has lost 13 percent this year after advancing 25 percent in 2010.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, EasyJet’s founder and largest shareholder, said separately today that the carrier’s business is “too seasonal for its own good” and that it should not blame the weather “every year.”

Slower Bookings

A slowdown in bookings during the snowy weather and lower- than-expected demand for checked bags, for which EasyJet charges, means reported per-seat revenue will decline by “a couple of percentage points” in the first half, it said. That implies a 4 percent decline in the second quarter, according to Jonathan Wober, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London.

EasyJet is testing ways of raising more cash from baggage check-in and may vary charges by sector length, Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall told analysts. It’s also looking at a propensity for continental travelers to pack heavier carry-on bags, which fly free whatever weight, spokesman Paul Moore said.

Some 59 percent of passengers originated outside Britain in the first quarter, when sales gained 7.5 percent to 654 million pounds, compared with 54 percent a year earlier. Capacity rose 7.7 percent in the three months, led by advances of 32 percent in France, 26 percent in Switzerland and 13 percent in Italy.

Airports also need to boost infrastructure spending after heavy snowfalls in the past two winters, said McCall, whose minimum forecast for the six-month loss is 140 million pounds.

Fuel Hedging

While EasyJet is hedged on 78 percent of its jet-fuel requirement for the fiscal first half, the current market price of $897 a metric ton for the un-hedged portion is 32 percent higher than a year ago, the company said. For the second half, it is covered on only 65 percent of its kerosene needs.

“The economic outlook in Europe remains uncertain and the higher market price of fuel will inevitably put pressure on margins in the short term,” the CEO said in a statement.

Early indications suggest second-half sales “remain robust” and full-year forecasts are “broadly unchanged” assuming no more disruption and excluding the additional fuel costs, EasyJet said.

Founder Stelios, who prefers to be known by his first name, said the carrier’s projected first-half losses indicate it will fail to generate sufficient annual earnings to deliver a targeted 12 percent return on the capital employed to build a fleet in excess of more than 200 aircraft.

Extra Capacity

The investor questioned whether 15 more planes ordered this month can be deployed next winter without losing more money as un-seasonal routes dry up. EasyJet said today it has also extended the leases on three Airbus SAS A319s for a further two years to add summer capacity to leisure destinations.

McCall, who took over in July, aims to lift profit margins by offering flexible tickets to attract business flyers, helping to differentiate EasyJet from Ryanair Holdings Plc and increase competition with network carriers including British Airways Plc. The carrier is “very pleased” with the early performance of the new ticket system, which has exceeded expectations, she said.

McCall also plans to make dividend payments in 2012 for the first time in EasyJet’s 15-year history after net income rose 70 percent to 121.3 million pounds in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, with pretax profit almost tripling to 154 million pounds.

EasyJet has posted a first-half pretax loss for the last eight reporting periods while recovering to record a full-year profit. Spokesman Moore said the company’s October-September fiscal year means that the summer months, always the most profitable for the industry, don’t impact until the second half.

--Editors: Kenneth Wong, Chad Thomas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Jasper in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at

Source :

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big changes ahead for Civil Aviations in the USA (NextGen) and in Europe (SESAR)

What Is NextGen?

NextGen is an umbrella term for the ongoing, wide-ranging transformation of the National Airspace System (NAS). At its most basic level, NextGen represents an evolution from a ground-based system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of air traffic management. This evolution is vital to meeting future demand, and to avoiding gridlock in the sky and at our nation’s airports.
NextGen will open America’s skies to continued growth and increased safety while reducing aviation’s environmental impact.
We will realize these goals through the development of aviation-specific applications for existing, widely-used technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and technological innovation in areas such as weather forecasting, data networking and digital communications. Hand in hand with state-of-the-art technology will be new airport infrastructure and new procedures, including the shift of certain decision-making responsibility from the ground to the cockpit.
When fully implemented, NextGen will allow more aircraft to safely fly closer together on more direct routes, reducing delays and providing unprecedented benefits for the environment and the economy through reductions in carbon emissions, fuel consumption and noise.

NextGen Benefits
Airports and other segments of the greater aviation community already are starting to reap the benefits of NextGen capabilities, but the best is yet to come. Our latest estimates indicate that by 2018, NextGen will reduce total flight delays by about 21 percent, providing $22 billion in cumulative benefits to the traveling public, aircraft operators and the FAA. During this same period, we expect to save more than 1.4 billion gallons of fuel from air traffic operations alone, cutting carbon emissions by nearly 14 million tons. These conservative estimates make the case for NextGen and affirm that the path we are traveling with our aviation partners is the right one.
As we move forward, we remain keenly focused on safety as the FAA’s top priority. We will vet each new system and procedure through the agency’s Safety Management System process. The FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing program, in use today, will monitor the NextGen operational capabilities to identify any precursor risks.
We know that NextGen’s benefits are not limited to America’s borders. Just as we are working with the international community to ensure that our technology systems work seamlessly with one another, we are working to standardize global operational procedures that better protect our environment.
Challenges to Implementing NextGen
The FAA remains confident it will achieve NextGen, but we are fully aware that the road to success will be challenging. Undertaking NextGen is extremely complex, in part because systems in various stages of development and maturity are interdependent and will be implemented in a variety of time frames. NextGen’s increasing dependency on aircraft-centric capabilities means that we must rely on operators’ willingness to equip. We will not make the most of performance improvements until operators are properly equipped to reap the benefits of those capabilities. We are managing the uncertainties inherent in such a large-scale undertaking by using a portfolio management approach for NextGen development and deployment.

Single European Sky

Contrary to the United States, Europe does not have a single sky, one in which air navigation is managed at the European level. Furthermore, European airspace is among the busiest in the world with over 33,000 flights on busy days and high airport density. This makes air traffic control even more complex.
The EU Single European Sky is an ambitious initiative launched by the European Commission in 2004 to reform the architecture of European air traffic management. It proposes a legislative approach to meet future capacity and safety needs at a European rather than a local level.
The Single European Sky is the only way to provide a uniform and high level of safety and efficiency over Europe’s skies.

The key objectives are to 
  • Restructure European airspace as a function of air traffic flows
  • Create additional capacity; and
  • Increase the overall efficiency of the air traffic management system
The major elements of this new institutional and organisational framework for Air Traffic Management in Europe consist of:
  • Separating regulatory activities from service provision, and the possibility of cross-border Air Traffic Management services.
  • Reorganising European airspace that is no longer constrained by national borders.
  • Setting common rules and standards, covering a wide range of issues, such as flight data exchanges and telecommunications.
Click here to access the European Commission website on Single European Sky. 


As part of the Single European Sky initiative, SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) represents its technological dimension. It will help create a “paradigm shift”, supported by state-of-the-art and innovative technology.
The SESAR programme will give Europe a high-performance air traffic control infrastructure which will enable the safe and environmentally friendly development of air transport.
A partnership programme
SESAR aims to eliminate the fragmented approach to European ATM, transform the ATM system, synchronise all stakeholders and federate resources. For the first time, all aviation players are involved in the definition, development and deployment of a pan-European modernisation project.
SESAR aims at developing the new generation air traffic management system capable of ensuring the safety and fluidity of air transport worldwide over the next 30 years. It is composed of three phases:
  • The Definition phase (2004-2008) delivered the ATM master plan defining the content, the development and deployment plans of the next generation of ATM systems.
    This definition phase was led by Eurocontrol, and co-funded by the European Commission under the Trans European Network- Transport programme and executed by a large consortium of all air transport stakeholders.
  • The Development phase (2008-2013) will produce the required new generation of technological systems, components and operational procedures as defined in the SESAR ATM Master Plan and Work Programme.
  • The Deployment phase (2014-2020) will see the large scale production and implementation of the new air traffic management infrastructure, composed of fully harmonised and interoperable components guaranteeing high performance air transport activities in Europe.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking

Taking into account the number of actors involved in SESAR and the financial resources and technical expertise needed, it was vital for the rationalisation of activities to set up a legal entity pursuant to Article 171 of the Treaty establishing the European Community capable of ensuring the management of the funds assigned to the SESAR project during its Development Phase.
More about SESAR on Wikipedia

Southwest starts using RNP procedures at 11 airports

Southwest Airlines this month commenced Required Navigation Performance procedures for approaches at 11 airports, asserting that "these new efficient flight procedures and enhanced avionics" will save the LCC $16 million annually. The airports at which SWA is inaugurating RNP are Amarillo, Birmingham, Boise, Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, Chicago Midway, Oakland, Oklahoma City, West Palm Beach, Raleigh-Durham and San Jose.

It added that full implementation of RNP at all airports it serves would lead to more than $60 million in reduced costs annually. SWA has modified more than 444 aircraft with GPS and RNP software, including transitioning 343 737NGs from EFIS to PFD/ND, and completed more than 30,000 pilot training events

The Dallas-based airline said in a statement that implementing RNP procedures marks the "culmination of a four-year project with partners Boeing, GE and Honeywell." VP and COO Mike Van de Ven added, "This milestone culminates substantial efforts by our company working with the FAA to position Southwest as a leading participant in a modernized air traffic control system."

France hosts the largest European university for Civil Aviation : ENAC

Minister for Ecology, Sustainable development, Transportation and Housing Nathalie KOSCIUSKO-MORIZET and Secretary of State for Transportation Thierry MARIANI announced the merger between ENAC (National School For Civil Aviation) and SEFA (Operations Service for Aeronautic Formations) that becomes the biggest European university for Civil Aviation under the single name ENAC.

For more than 60 years, the ENAC has been unique in the field of graduate education as well as in the field of aeronautic formation. It teaches all the technical and scientific courses necessary for running the air transportation industry :
- Project and Operations Civil Engineers, Controllers, electronics engineer for safety systems
- Commercial Airline Pilots
- Qualified technicians

This merger will mean that :
- studying materials and equipments -such as flight and control simulators- will be shared between the two institutions
- strenghten the interactions between the various courses : engineers and controllers will know more about piloting airplanes and pilots will be more aware of the challenges facing Air Traffic Control (SESAR, NEXTGEN...)
- ease the elaboration of contracts between the ENAC and its national and international clients
- make the ENAC even more internation and highlight its status as 'the Civil Aviation University' that teachs all the trades of the industry

'This new institution will contribute to the visibility and the export activities of the French civil aviation industry by giving it the expertise and the means to cater to the needs of foreign countries for specialized education in this field.' said Nathalie KOSCIUSKO-MORIZET in a statement.

ENAC website :

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


On board its Airbus A380s, Air France customers travelling in La Première and Business class can discover the gallery, an area dedicated to culture and art.

Throughout the year, in partnership with leading art galleries, exhibitions which are renewed every month are shown on video screens. 

This month, the gallery will be showing a video by Benoît Broisat, called “Bonneville” (2004), from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

This video is a silent walk through Paris, his home town, a black and white cartoon: a poetic journey in time and space.

In February, Air France will be showing three videos by Mark Lewis, a Canadian artist living in London who represented Canada at the biannual Venice Art Festival in 2009: ‘Centrale’ (1999), ‘Rush Hour, Morning and Evening, Cheapside’ (2005) and his latest video, ‘Hendon FC’ (2010). These three videos are from the Arsfutura collection.

In March, the artist Bob Wilson will be exhibiting artistic portraits of personalities, notably Brad Pitt, Isabelle Huppert and Isabella Rossellini. Bob Wilson is an artist who is well known as a director and who has worked for the most prestigious opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera and the Opera Bastille.

In 2010, the gallery presented works by international artists from prestigious art galleries such as the Louvre, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

On board its A380, Air France has presented:

  • in partnership with the Magnum Gallery: ‘First Color’ by the photographer Inge Morath, presenting her first colour photos taken during trips to Spain, Iran, Romania, Mexico and Tunisia.
  • the exhibition from the Palazzo Grassi ‘Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection’, for the opening of the Punta della Dogana in June 2009 in Venice.
  • an extract from the exhibition at the Louvre ‘Holy Russia, Russian Art from the Beginnings to Peter the Great’, devoted to the history of Christian Russia, through more than four hundred works of art mainly from Russian museums and libraries.
  • an exhibition from the MoMA in New York: ‘Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century’, the first major retrospective in the United States for over 30 years with more than 300 photographs taken between 1929 and 1989.
  • the video ‘L’homme dans les draps’ by Alain Fleischer, a French filmmaker, photographer, artist and writer.
  • a video exhibition by Ange Leccia, a contemporary French artist and director of the Pavillon, a research laboratory for young artists at the Palais de Tokyo.
  • an extract from a second exhibition at the Louvre, ‘Antiquity Rediscovered. Innovation and Resistance in the 18th Century’, through a selection of over 150 major works illustrating the birth of the art movement known as ‘neoclassical’. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Canadian court rules in favor of IATA in dispute with Sabre over data product

IATA won what it called "a major court victory" in its dispute with Sabre over IATA's use of billing and settlement data stored in GDS databases for its PaxIS airline intelligence product when the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed Sabre's claim that PaxIS violated confidentiality obligations. Sabre filed the suit in 2006.

IATA said the court's Jan. 11 decision found "that IATA acted lawfully in developing the PaxIS products based on data from its BSPs. The court also rejected each of Sabre's arguments that IATA owed Sabre a duty to use BSP data solely for settlement purposes and not for 'commercial' products such as PaxIS. Lastly, the judge determined that Sabre could not claim confidential rights to the airline ticketing data."

In a statement, IATA DG and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said the decision "brings clarity to the marketplace. We are pleased that we can continue to provide the aviation, travel and tourism industries with a cost-effective and competitive data product that supports critical decision-making in their businesses.”

In a similar case brought by Travelport in 2009, the Amsterdam District Court denied an injunction sought by the GDS to block IATA's use of data stored in Travelport databases for PaxIS.

Source :

Thousands Of Iranians Join Online Protest Against Sanctions

About 25,000 Iranians have reacted to last week’s crash of Iran Air flight 277 by joining an online protest against sanctions that prevent Iran from purchasing new aircraft and spare parts. 

The protesters believe sanctions undermine aviation safety standards and are therefore to be blamed for a string of air accidents that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Iranians. 

Seventy-seven people were killed on January 9 when a passenger plane with some 105 passengers and crew aboard crashed in northwestern Iran. The Boeing-727 plane, which according to Iranian media was 37 years old, broke into pieces when it attempted to make an emergency landing in a snowstorm near the city of Orumiyeh. 

It was the latest in a series of air crashes blamed on Iran’s aging air fleet, which reportedly uses spare parts bought on the black market or taken from older aircraft. Experts have said that U.S.-imposed sanctions prevent Iran from updating its 30-year-old American aircraft. 

According to "The New York Times,” a 2005 report by the International Civil Aviation Organization had warned that “U.S. sanctions against Iran were placing civilian lives in danger by denying Iranian aviation necessary spare parts and aircraft repair.”

The Facebook protest titled "Stop sanctions against selling passenger airplanes to Iran” blames the sanctions for the death of hundreds of Iranians who have lost their lives in air crashes in the Islamic Republic in recent years. (Here's a Reuters timeline of plane crashes involving Iran since 2000.)

“Stop the sanctions against innocent people. Let people fly safely,” says the page that includes messages in Persian and English, from Iranians living inside and outside the country who have joined the protest. 

Here are some of the messages: 

During the past few years, claim by leading sponsors of sanctions against Iran has been that these are not targeted at Iranian people. As we all know, the reality is quite different. Recent crash of an Iran Air Boeing 727 with the loss of so many lives is a testimonial to the reality.

Iranian people should not be denied the safety of air transportation. They should not be denied the rights of reaching their destination securely without the fear of losing their lives on their journey.

Sanctions won't fix any issue! By not stopping this, US prove that they don't care about killing innocent people!! :(

Stop the inhumane sanctions against selling passenger airplanes to IRAN.

"Haven't you heard of the great Iranian poem by Saadi which has been placed on a plaque in the United Nations foyer...???!!!"

Human beings are members of a whole, 
in creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain, 
other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain, 
the name of human you cannot retain!
Here, the life of people is dirt-cheap.

One of the co-founders and organizers of the protest, 31-year-old Maryam Tehrani, an Iranian student based in Sweden, told Persian Letters the protest is aimed at bringing the issue to the attention of Western countries and decision makers.

“It’s the right of all to fly safely and securely. The sanctions are preventing Iranians from doing so," Tehrani said, while criticizing the international community for not paying attention to the high number of air crashes in Iran, which she blamed on sanctions. “No one seems to pay attention to the fact that innocent people are being killed in Iran as the result of sanctions. Is this what they mean by smart sanctions?”

Tehrani, who says she has received many messages of support from inside Iran, estimates that about 60 percent of those who have joined the Facebook cause are citizens from inside the country.

One Iranian man who has joined the protest blamed the Iranian regime and its actions for the sanctions but added that “innocent people” are paying the price.

“More than 70 people were killed including several children. Were they responsible for the actions of Iranian leaders? Am I responsible for Ahmadinejad’s actions? I’m also a victim. We all are,” said the 32-year-old man, who called for the removal of sanctions that he said are hurting the Iranian population. 

Another organizer of the online protest, 28-year-old student Saeed Soheily, said the ultimate goal of the protest is the removal of sanctions that jeopardize aviation safety and endanger the lives of Iranians. 

“U.S. officials keep saying that the sanctions are aimed at the government and not the Iranian people, yet these sanctions are endangering the lives of Iranian citizens, they’re not hurting the regime. So these sanctions basically violate the claims made by U.S. officials,” Soheily said in a telephone interview from London.

On January 16, the organizers of the protest have called on members to change their profile pictures on Facebook to a black-and-white logo of a plane that says “Stop Sanctions.” 

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Source :

Friday, January 14, 2011

Delta wants your seat, takes bids for bumping

How much would it take to get you to give up your seat on an overbooked airline flight?

Delta Air Lines is telling customers to name their price -- in some cases before they even leave for the airport.

Delta, like other airlines, has long had a system of asking for volunteers to be bumped to a later flight  in exchange for vouchers toward future travel. Some passengers make a sport out of volunteering and thrive off free flights they collect.

Now, Delta is taking the system one step further. It has turned the voluntary bumping system into an auction that starts online with travelers' bids, a move some industry observers say may be a first among major carriers.

If a flight is overbooked, travelers checking in at an airport kiosk or online see a screen asking them if they'd like to submit a bid for the value of a travel voucher they would take to be bumped. Customers enter a dollar amount. Delta makes clear that it accepts lower bids first.

While Delta previously asked for volunteers by offering a specific amount in vouchers -- say, $200 -- the new system requires travelers to name their price. The bidding methods could burn inexperienced travelers who offer a low bid. Experienced travelers, meanwhile, may find themselves undercut in the effort to collect vouchers.

Delta benefits because the system could mean smaller amounts being paid out in compensation and thus lower costs for overbooking and bumping.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black said the bidding system also cuts down on the time gate agents spend sorting through volunteers, which should speed boarding and cut down on delays.

"They can do all that in advance," Black said. "Through technology we're actually creating additional time for our gate agents to manage the process of boarding passengers.... This is a big thing for the operation."

The gate agent can look for ways the passengers can be rescheduled. Black said agents can still give out additional compensation, such as hotel vouchers, if the next flight isn't until the following day.

"I think it's a great system," said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. "It's a pecking order created by consumers. The only negative would be when the consumers allow the pecking order to be built on ignorance and they don't understand what their rights are." He also said passengers should be aware of any limits on voucher use.

Black did not have information on average compensation under the new system, which began being used in Atlanta on kiosks in November and online in December.

Some people may still wind up being involuntarily bumped, which happens when a flight is still overbooked after volunteers are solicited. If the delay from an involuntary bumping is more than an hour, federal rules require that airlines pay at least the price of their one-way fare up to $400 to $800, depending on how long the traveler is delayed.

Source :

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TripAdvisor adds user reviews of airlines to flight searches

Wouldn’t it be nice to know how an airline may treat you in advance? TripAdvisor thinks so. On Wednesday, the travel website, best known for its user reviews of hotels, added user reviews to its flight search engine, TripAdvisor Flights.

Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, said the website has so far collected more than 3,500 airline ratings from travelers, "and we expect it to grow quickly.” Airlines are rated from 1 to 5 "stars" and also by the percentage of travelers who recommend them.

During a flight search, visitors to TripAdvisor can click on a carrier's name to view its ratings. If they sign in as TripAdvisor members, they can also add ratings of their own, on a scale of 1 to 5, in eight categories: baggage handling, check-in experience, in-flight amenities, in-flight service, punctuality, reasonableness of fees, seat comfort and value.

In another addition, Trip Advisor's "Fees Estimator," which previously calculated baggage fees when you booked a flight, now shows them on an initial flight search. It displays the fee to check one bag -- or more bags, if you adjust it. And if you indicate that you have elite status on an airline, which often entitiles you to fly free with two bags, the tool will omit the fee.

The new tools make for useful comparisons.

For instance, when I searched for a March 3-8 round trip between Los Angeles (LAX) and New York City (all airports), TripAdvisor initially showed Delta Air Lines with the lowest fare of $279. When I filtered the search by “One Bag included,” JetBlue Airways, which allows one bag to fly free, came up with the same $279 fare. Because checking one bag with Delta added $46 in fees, its $279 flight would actually cost $325.

I also checked out the two airlines' ratings. In 106 ratings, 97% of travelers recommended JetBlue. Out of 419 ratings, only 76% recommended Delta.

Source :,0,7698885.story

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IndiGo orders 180 Airbus aircraft for $15.6 billion

In the largest deal in civil aviation history, Delhi-based low-cost domestic carrier IndiGo has placed an order for 180 aircraft with European-aircraft maker, Airbus. The deal is valued at $15.6 billion.

The deal will see IndiGo acquire 150 eco-efficient ‘neo' series A-320 aircraft, a model that was launched in December. The remaining orders are for the standard A-320s aircraft. IndiGo already has 37 A-320s in its fleet.

Airbus officials said that the aircraft delivery will take place in a phased manner from 2016 to 2025. Late last year, the airline got ‘in-principle approval' by the Ministry of Civil Aviation for import of aircraft in the future.

Financing not divulged

Declining to go into the financing details for the deal, the airline President, Mr Aditya Ghosh, said that IndiGo will follow the same financing method as was used for purchasing 100 Airbus aircraft, a deal that it concluded in 2005. However, the method has never been made public. The airline will start taking delivery of the new aircraft ordered on Wednesday only after it completes the induction of the first 100 aircraft it had ordered earlier, Mr Ghosh said.

“It is too far out in the future to say whether we will have a fleet of 280 aircraft by 2025. Potentially, we could have a fleet of 280 aircraft, but there is a chance that some aircraft are returned or added to the fleet, hence it's difficult to predict the actual number,” he said.

Commenting on the deal, Dr Kiran Rao, Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Contracts, Airbus, pointed out that this is “the largest number of aircraft ordered in a single transaction in commercial aviation history.

IndiGo will be the first airline to operate the A-320neo in India. It will also be one of the first to launch the new aircraft amongst Asian carriers”. IndiGo is yet to decide on which variety of engines will power the aircraft. “We are looking at an engine of Pratt and Whitney and another by CFM. A decision is expected soon,” Mr Ghosh said.

The induction of A-320neo opens the possibility of the airline reducing airfares in the future. This is because the new aircraft offers a 15 per cent reduction in operating costs. “Fuel constitutes close to 40 per cent of the operating cost of airlines in India. If a carrier can cut its fuel bill, it can easily look at passing on the saving to passengers by offering lower fares,” said an aviation analyst.

IndiGo's promoter, Mr Rahul Bhatia, Group Managing Director of InterGlobe Enterprises, said that fuel-efficient aircraft should help the carrier continue to offer low fares.

The deal is the second aircraft acquisition plan announced by low-cost airlines in India in less than six months.

Late last year, Delhi-based low-cost carrier SpiceJet had ordered 30 Boeing-737 aircraft valued at $2.7 billion.

Source :

Airbus Raises Stakes with Launch of A320neo

Airbus claims its A320neo will offer as much as a 15-percent fuel burn improvement over the standard A320 family.

Airbus’s launch last week of a new engine option for its A320 single-aisle series has for the moment turned the proverbial spotlight directly on rival Boeing and its own line of narrowbodies. Indeed, the competitive implications of re-engining the 737–or not–now appear unequivocal. If Boeing chooses not to follow suit with the 737, by 2016 the new line of A320s, dubbed the A320neo, could hold a double-digit fuel burn advantage over the Boeing product. Granted, the airplane will cost some $6 million more than the standard A320s, but Airbus apparently feels it has received enough positive feedback from potential airline customers to justify the project’s more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) development cost.

No matter what Airbus ultimately spends on the new product, the move poses something of a dilemma for Boeing. Just this week, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh told London’s Financial Times that the company still could not see “a compelling reason” to re-engine the 737. Albaugh’s comments mirrored the sentiments expressed by Boeing chairman and CEO Jim McNerney and CFO James Bell, both of whom have said that the company’s customers would rather wait perhaps another four years for a completely new airplane design, largely because Boeing’s calculations show that neither the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G nor the CFM Leap-X–the engines chosen to power the A320neo–could deliver double-digit fuel savings on the existing 737 airframe. Further complicating matters for Boeing, the 737’s engines hang closer to the ground than the A320’s, requiring a redesign of at least the landing gear and considerably more development investment.

Airbus, on the other hand, considers the A320neo’s development cost modest, judging by comments made by company COO for customers John Leahy. Meanwhile, the European company asserts that engine and airframe technology won’t progress far enough to justify launching development of a new single-aisle design before 2020, meaning such an airplane wouldn’t reach the market until 2025. That nine-year gap between the introduction of the new engine option and an entirely new narrowbody will prove wide enough to sell as many as 4,000 A320neos, in Airbus’s estimation.

Boeing, however, could shrink that gap to four years, if, as it asserts, it can ready a completely clean-sheet design for delivery by the end of the decade. In the meantime, it continues work on aerodynamic improvements to the existing 737 that it expects to result in another 2-percent gain in fuel efficiency. Changes include a more aerodynamically contoured anti-collision light on both the top and bottom of the fuselage and a re-contour of the ski jump fairing on the aft side of the wheel well. The ECS ram-air ducts will also see a change, employing the louvered-style doors used on the 777. Modifications under way to areas of the upper wing include a redesign of the trailing edge of the slats and spoilers that smoothes the interface between the slat and the wing surface. Finally, Boeing expects a new version of the CFM56 engine with a shortened nozzle to deliver a fuel-burn improvement of roughly four-tenths of 1 percent.

Of course, Airbus expects its $1.3 billion investment in the A320neo to yield far more benefit than Boeing can offer with its latest incremental improvements to the 737. The company claims the A320neo will deliver fuel savings over the standard A320 of up to 15 percent, a “double-digit” reduction in NOx emissions, less engine noise, lower operating costs and either a range improvement of 500 nm or a payload increase of two metric tons. The A320neo’s so-called sharklet wingtip devices, the first of which Airbus plans to fit on standard A320s for delivery starting near the end of 2012, will account for at least 3.5 percent fuel burn savings over long sectors, according to the company.

The formal introduction of the A320neo comes some 10 months after Airbus COO for customers John Leahy publicly targeted the Farnborough Air Show as the venue for a possible launch announcement. After the show came and went without a decision from Airbus, the target shifted to early this past fall. Again, Airbus demurred, citing the need for a more precise estimate of the engineering resources it could dedicate to the project.

“Finding the necessary resources for the A320neo wasn’t exactly a walk in the park,” said Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders. “The enabler was to devise a stringent phasing of critical engineering assets throughout our various development programs and to optimize the management and organization of all our programs and R&T projects. Our international engineering centers, suppliers and partners play a big role in this.”
Airbus has decided not to offer the new engine option on the smallest member of the A320 series–the slow selling A318. The new engine option will require limited modifications to the other three models, primarily to the wing and pylon areas, said Airbus. The A320neo will maintain 95 percent airframe commonality with the standard A320 series, the company added.

Source :

Federal Agency Endorses Aviation Airbags for private jets

Follow-up :

Federal accident investigators issued a report Tuesday strongly endorsing aviation air bags as a potentially far-reaching safety enhancement to reduce fatalities and injuries in private plane crashes.

But as expected, the National Transportation Safety Board didn't recommend mandatory implementation of such technology, which already is installed on the majority of recently-built general aviation aircraft but hasn't been retrofitted on older models. Overall, only about 7,000 of the roughly 200,000 general aviation aircraft licensed in the U.S. are now equipped with air bags.

At the end of the safety board's session, Chairman Deborah Hersman called on manufacturers to voluntarily provide air bags as standard equipment on more private planes rolling out of their factories. Reflecting the board's growing support for expanding the technology to tens of thousands of other aircraft built long before the equipment was developed, Ms. Hersman encouraged aircraft owners "to use the power of the purse and push for even greater availability of these injury preventing devices."

Tuesday's findings were the first detailed, industry-wide assessment of how effectively air bags protect pilots and passengers when private aircraft crash. The devices came on the market seven years ago, but their use didn't reach significant levels until a few years later.

As part of the board's three-year study, experts didn't find any of the devices that deployed at the wrong time, were defective or had unintended negative results. "When adjusted correctly," according to the board, air bag deployments "did not result in any negative consequences" and in some accidents, they "mitigated the severity of the occupant injuries."

Among other things, the board recommended that air bag-equipped aircraft also have devices able to record and save details about impact forces in the event of a crash.

The analysis also reiterated one of the board's long-standing priorities in this arena: the safety benefits of using shoulder harnesses, rather than just lap belts, to protect occupants of general aviation aircraft.

After examining some 37,000 single-engine airplane accidents over three decades, experts concluded that occupants using lap belts by themselves were 50% more likely to be killed or seriously injured than those protected by a combination of lap belts and harnesses.

As a result, the board called for revised federal safety standards to ensure the proper use and adjustment of all restraint systems. It also reiterated recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration, which alone has authority to mandate safety fixes, require shoulder harnesses to be retrofitted on all private planes.

Aviation air bags devices typically deploy from shoulder harnesses, so proper adjustment of harnesses can be an important factor in saving lives.

Industry experts estimate that of the roughly 1,600 annual private plane accidents nationally, perhaps up to one-quarter could become more survivable with bags onboard.

Before the report was released, Joseph Kolly, head of the NTSB's office of research and engineering, said "this is where the safety board can really make an impact" by advocating widespread use of air bags and reassuring both private pilots and industry officials that the systems haven't shown performance problems or demonstrated any unintended safety threats.

Board officials believe as many as one out of four of small planes don't have shoulder belts or harnesses, which can cost hundreds of dollars to install per seat. Putting on air bags can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per seat, depending on the specific model and whether the system is originally factory-installed or retrofitted on an older aircraft.

Such retrofits "may not be cheap" from the vantage point of the average private pilot, according to Ms. Hersman, but they are good investments "when you consider (them) relative to the safety benefit" and the total cost of an aircraft which can exceed $500,000.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Ryan Air is shifting the airline business model to the 0 € fare

Ryan air has recently launched another agressive campaign in Europe with cheaper than ever fares. In today's (01/11/2011) widely distributed French newspaper Le Monde, The 5th page was entirely covered with a huge ad for flights for 8€ taxes included with Ryan Air. The black and white advertisement might have cost even less as its design is really poor and built around the catchline : an immense '8€'. A small font line at the bottom of the page nevertheless warned that the offer was "only available until the 01/10/2011" as is customary with Ryan Air's noisy communication methods. In the same newspaper British airways had a quarter of a page for new Orly Heathrow flights and Air France had a very small banner commenting on the increase of its frequency to Berlin. Both ads were colored.
Is it true? On Ryan Air's website, we were able to book one-way flights from Lille to Barcelona and from Lille to Porto for only 6€ which is even cheaper than was announced by the airline. On the fare aggregator eDreams we found a flight from Paris Beauvais (a secondary airport that constitutes the hub of the company for Paris) to Krakow in Poland for 0 €.
How can this happen? A few answers might help one understand where the money comes from since it's clearly not the ticket that pays for itself. First and foremost : these cheap trips are only for the lucky few who manage to book in advance, take holidays out of season and are flexible in terms of dates. They are designed as a very good way to create a buzz and attract attention with very little investment. It is a cheap but effective communication strategy, building a brand as the budget airline.

Ancillary revenues are another steady source of revenue at 9.59 € per passenger for Ryan Air in 2009. They include on-board sales of food and beverages, baggage check-in and excess baggage charges, seat assignment charges, fee charged for purchases made with credit card, commissions from sales made via airline website, travel insurance, sales of airport lounge access and airport advertising.

But where O'Leary's venture is a cataclysmic change in the airline landscape is in its ability to sell passengers. It is in fact the destination that pays to have tourists come to their resorts and businessmen trade in their regions. Hence the many remote airports - in less important cities or even far from anything - that host Ryan Air for almost nothing. Some regions even pay the company to come. Cataluña, the region surrounding Barcelona in Spain, openly buys tourist flows from Ryan Air. 'It is the way of the future, traditional carriers fail to see the point that Ryan Air is more effective and allows Barcelona's youth to tour Europe as no other generation ever could before' describes an attorney that works for the airline against its competitors who cry foul and call this hidden subsidies.

It is a well known fact that Air transportation is a deficit industry. Even when it is profitable, you would have better return on investment by placing money at the bank. What saves the industry is that it is considered as necessary for many other economic sectors such as tourism, culture, luxury goods, perishable goods... The IATA (International Air Transport Association) has even stated that it fostered peace throughout the world by enabling people to travel.

Only three decades ago, national airlines were subsidized by states. The notion of service was what drove the Air Transport World. Liberalization in the USA and in Europe led to things as they are now. The fact that 38% of air travel 20 years ago was flown by carriers that do not exist today can legitimize the question of the viability of the industry when it is not subsidized. Cyclical history or stillborn business model? Only time will tell.

By Thibaut Labarre (student at the ENAC National School for Civil aviation)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bernstein: Global airline industry ‘firmly’ in recovery period

New York-based Bernstein Research believes the airline industry is firmly in the recovery period on a global basis, citing four key positive indicators—“increasing traffic, rising load factors, higher yield and positive operating profits.”

In a recently released client report, Bernstein said that after an unusually short down cycle and trough period, partially attributable to the rise of emerging markets and the globalization of demand, “airline traffic has been steadily rising since 2009 in all regions, with the exception of the interruption by the Icelandic volcano eruption in March 2010.”

It continued, “Global load factors are at levels comparable to, or higher than, levels seen in the last cycle on a seasonally adjusted basis. Yields have improved significantly from 2009 levels; however, they are still not quite back at 2008 levels.”

Bernstein added that it is seeing a broad-based recovery in profitability, with all the major US airlines and most European and Asian airlines fully profitable in the 2010 third quarter.

Bernstein said it expects aircraft deliveries to grow 30% over the next five years, supported by unusually large backlogs. “Backlogs are much higher than in past cycles, relative to production levels, and emerging markets are the most important source for growth, with backlogs likely to go higher,” it noted.

Bernstein added that replacement demand should increase the number of deliveries needed for growth, “as we expect replacement airplanes to account for roughly 40% of deliveries over the next five years.”

Source :

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Iranian media reports 72 dead after plane crash

At least 72 people are reported to be dead after a passenger jet crashed in a snowstorm in northwest Iran on Sunday night, leaving 33 survivors, according to Iranian media outlets.

The IranAir passenger jet was attempting an emergency landing in Orumiyeh, about 700 kilometres northwest of the capital Tehran, when it hit the ground and broke into pieces, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

On its website, Iran's Legal Medicine Organization is reporting that 72 of the 105 people on board were killed, while 33 were injured but alive. The flight crew and child passengers are among the dead, the organization reported.

Some Iranian media outlets reported that the plane was carrying 106 people. The cause of the crash hasn't been confirmed. However, the semiofficial Mehr news agency, quoting a deputy provincial governor, Ebrahim Fatholahi, reported that the pilots of the Boeing-727 attempted the emergency landing after reporting a technical failure to the control tower. The nature of the technical failure wasn't disclosed.

Reports stated the plane took off from Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran and was en route to Orumiyeh International Aiport. The plane approached the runway to land but was forced to delay the landing due to bad weather. Iranian news agencies reported that the plane vanished from radar screen and crashed in farmland about 15 km outside Orumiyeh, located near Iran's border with Turkey, after making a second attempt to land.

Some of the passengers were only lightly wounded and able to walk off the plane and some had to be hospitalized, Mosayebi said. However, there are reports that several people were critically injured and rushed to hospitals in Orumiyeh and Tabriz. Reports from Iran indicate that rescue efforts were hampered by up to 70 centimetres of snowfall. Visibility was poor at the time, the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization reported.

Iran has a history of frequent air accidents blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. IranAir's fleet includes Boeing and Airbus aircraft, many of them bought before the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian airlines, including those run by the state, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say. U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from updating its 30-year-old American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well. The country has come to rely on Russian aircraft, many of them Soviet-era planes that are harder to maintain since the Soviet Union's fall.

With files from The Associated Press.


Picture from.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Passengers Overpowers Hijacker On Turkish Airlines Flight TK1754

On Wednesday the national flag airline carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines, Flight TK1754 departed Oslo Garedermoen Airport, Oslo, Norway in a Airbus A320 at 3:50 PM local time. The aircraft climbed to its cruising altitude without incident for Istanbul Ataturk International Airport, Turkey.

As the pilot began to descend the aircraft, a passenger rose from his seat, then attempted to force his way into the cockpit, the hijacker stated “I have a bomb.” The hijacker was then subdued by passengers.

The Airbus A320 landed at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport without further incident. The hijacker was detained by police. When the police search the aircraft and the hijacker no explosives were found. It was reported the so called bomb was a simulated explosive device and not the real thing.

The hijacker was described as a Turkish male who had placed a mask over his face, had attempted to reroute the aircraft back to Norway. Police are investigating the hijackers motives. Police identified the hijacker as Cuma Yasar, 40.

One passenger described the device the hijacker used “looked like a radio handset.” Another passenger stated that when the hijacker shouted out his demand for the pilot to return the aircraft back to return Oslo she thought he was drunk. One passenger had warned the hijacker several times before he subdued the hijacker to the floor.

According to the Norwegian police when they searched Yasar they found in his possession an identification card that indicted Yasar suffers from a mental illness. According to the Norwegian media has reported Yasar has been living in an asylum seekers’ center in southwest Norway.

Turkish Airlines, Inc. is based in Turkey and headquartered in the Turkish Airlines General Management Building on the grounds of Atatürk Airport in Yesilköy, Istanbul. It operates scheduled services to 128 international and 39 domestic cities (38 domestic airports), serving a total of 167 airports, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

The airline's main base is at Atatürk International Airport, with secondary hubs at Esenboga International Airport, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and Adnan Menderes Airport. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, THY carried 17 million, 19.7 million, 22.5 million, and 25.1 million passengers with total revenues of US $2.23, US $3.0, US $4.5, and US $4 billion, respectively.

Source :