This Week In Air Transport (W/C May 5)
This week’s top air transport stories include two major aircraft orders—one from Irish LCC Ryanair for up to 300 Boeing 737 MAX-10s and Philippine Airlines for nine Airbus A350-1000s.
Ryanair placed a firm order for 150 Boeing 737-MAX-10 aircraft, with options for 150 more, for delivery between 2027 and 2033, with more seats per aircraft set to help the Dublin-based LCC continue its ambitious plans to increase customer numbers and market share. The 228-seat MAX-10s will represent an increase of 21% in seats versus the 189-seat Boeing 737 NG aircraft that half of this latest order is set to replace–the rest will be used for growth.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) signed an MOU with Airbus for nine A350-1000s. Under the Philippine carrier’s ultra-long-haul fleet project, the A350-1000 will be operated on nonstop services from Manila to North America, including to the east coast of the U.S. and Canada. The PAL A350-1000s, which are scheduled for delivery from the fourth quarter of 2025-2027, will be configured in a premium layout with separate business class, premium economy and economy class cabins.
In other aircraft news, South African Airways (SAA) will lease six new aircraft—five Airbus A320s and one A330—to be delivered before the end of the calendar year. The leased aircraft will pave the way for the national carrier to relaunch international routes and increase seat capacity for its regional and domestic destinations. “Currently a Request for Proposals (RFP) is out for four A320 narrowbody aircraft. The other two—an A330 and A320—have already been secured from the lessor community on the same terms as the ones issued in the RFP,” SAA Interim CEO John Lamola said, adding the four A320s will be deployed by September.
In airport news, the CEO of Kyiv Boryspil Airport has signaled that the Ukrainian airport remains operationally ready for the return of commercial traffic as soon as the war in the country is over. During an impassioned address at Routes Europe 2023 in Lodz, Poland, on May 10, Oleksiy Dubrevskyy delivered a resolute message to the aviation community, revealing that the airport is already working on recovery plans.
Government regulators have been busy. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a rule to mandate passenger compensation for “controllable” flight delays and cancellations. Within its launch of the proposed rule, DOT says it plans to define “controllable cancellation and delay,” and in those cases would require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses including meals, hotels and rebooking. Though no timing on the rule was noted, a DOT spokesperson told Aviation Week, “This is a priority for the administration, and we’re working expeditiously to issue a proposal.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) rejected the renewal of a charter business partnership between Virgin Australia and Alliance Aviation, confirming a draft denial issued in October 2022. The ACCC noted the partnership involves the second- and third-largest providers of FIFO services in Australia. The two carriers failed to demonstrate that there was sufficient public benefit to outweigh the harm to competition. The ACCC also recently rejected a proposal by Qantas to fully take over Alliance.
Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines received an air operator’s certificate (AOC) and continuing airworthiness management organization (CAMO) certificate for its Malta-based offshoot, SkyUp MT. As Malta is an EU member, the new AOC allows SkyUp MT to operate within the 27-nation bloc and to start regular flights from the EU.
Two top executives have announced plans to step down. Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney will depart from the post effective July 1. American Airlines chief commercial officer Vasu Raja will serve in an interim management capacity as he leads the alliance search for Gurney’s replacement. Gurney succeeded Bruce Ashby in October 2016, after a 25-year career in the industry that included positions at British Airways, Qantas, Helloworld, and Emirates, where he stepped down as SVP-commercial operations for the Americas to take the alliance role.
Iberia president Javier Sánchez-Prieto plans to leave the Spanish flag carrier in July to begin a new role outside the aviation sector. He has been with the Iberia Group for 12 years, during which he has led Iberia and LCC Vueling and also been part of the management and founding team of Iberia Express. He will be succeeded by IAG leisure airline Level CEO Fernando Candela on an interim basis until the end of the year.
Finally, in airline news, U.S. carriers’ on-time performance suffered a third major wave of disruptions at the end of 2022. Performance metrics from the most recent data shows the latest decline follows similar service interruptions in the summer of 2021 and the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Of all 10 carriers, only 75% of flights were on time while the top four U.S. carriers (American, Delta, Southwest and United) had marginally better performance at 77% of on time scheduled flights over the three-month period of December 2022-February 2023.
Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways are expanding their interline agreement as part of efforts to increase tourism to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), initially focusing on inbound traffic from “key source markets” in Europe and China. Under the MOU, passengers will be able to purchase a single ticket allowing inbound flight into either Dubai International or Abu Dhabi International, with an outbound flight from the other airport.