MAS Winter Schedule Reveals South Asia, Australia Growth 

Malaysia Airlines' winter schedule -- starting Oct. 28 -- shows the carrier is focusing expansion plans on the South Asian and Australian markets, while other routes are being reduced or cut.

A fourth weekly frequency will be added on the Kuala Lumpur-Maldives-Colombo and Bangalore routes with both services using a 294-seat Airbus A330-300.

Two morning flights will also be offered to Chennai, operating on Thursdays and Sundays using A330-200s and A330-330s respectively, in addition to five evening services.

Thai Board Okays $12.6B For Fleet Renewal Program 

The Thai Airways board approved a budget of THB400 billion (US$12.6 billion) for a fleet modernization program covering 2008-2017.

The plan includes significant aircraft acquisition, and focuses on operating fuel-efficient aircraft and expanding Thai's domestic and international networks.

Thai intends to lease or buy 65 aircraft -- 16 long-haul aircraft with a seating capacity of 300-500, 29 medium- to long-haul aircraft seating 250-350 and 20 narrowbodies. The 65 aircraft include six Airbus A380s and eight Airbus A330-300s currently on order.

PT Dirgantara Declared Bankrupt 

Jakarta's Commercial Court declared Indonesian state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara bankrupt for failing to pay a total of IDR200 billion (US$21 million) in compensation to 6,500 former employees who were laid off in 2003.

The company failed to adhere to a directive issued by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration on Oct. 30, 2004, to make the payment within 30 days. The lack of follow-up by authorities prompted the 6,500 workers to institute legal proceedings against PT Dirgantara last July.

One-Two-GO MD-82 Crashes Off Runway After Landing 

A One-Two-GO Airlines MD-82 aircraft on Sunday evening skidded on the runway at Phuket International Airport in pelting rain and burst into flames before coming to rest against some trees.

Eighty-nine of the 130 people on board flight 269 from Bangkok's Don Maung Airport to Phuket, including the commander of the flight and his first officer, perished in the disaster. Fifty-five of the dead were foreigners while the rest were Thais. Forty-one people survived, some with severe burns.

Megantara Air To Double Jakarta-Singapore Service 

Indonesian cargo carrier Megantara Air plans to double its Jakarta-Singapore service to 10 flights a week after acquiring another Boeing 727-200F late next month.

Megantara CEO Sofyan Danu Siswantoro said the airline will focus on expanding the service, its only route for the time being, as a result of heavy demand for cargo space from Jakarta to various international destinations via Singapore. Sofyan said Megantara's average load factor has been more than 80% since the carrier started operations on May 29.

Dragonair To Resume Flights To Kathmandu 

Hong Kong-based Dragonair will resume flights to Kathmandu on Dec. 2, offering four services a week using Airbus A320 aircraft.

Dragonair, which started flying to the Nepalese capital in 1989, suspended flights in June 2001 due to the civil unrest. The airline currently operates a network of 31 destinations, including 21 to mainland China. -wdennis@tm.net.my

Thai Airways Board Reviewing 10-Year Business Plan 

Thai Airways International board of directors is reviewing a 10-year business plan prepared by the airline's management that takes stock of the carrier's current domestic and international networks, considers expansion to existing and new markets and covers a fleet renewal program.

The board is expected to approve the business plan, covering the 2008-2017 period, within two months. Aircraft orders are expected to follow.

Singapore Airlines To Start Airbus A380 Flights In October 

Singapore Airlines will start Airbus A380 flights on Oct. 28 between Singapore and Sydney when its uses the aircraft to replace one of the three daily Boeing 747-400 flights on the route.

The 471-seat aircraft is configured for three classes -- 12 SIA suites on the main deck, 60 business-class seats on the upper deck and 399 in economy on both decks. The business- and economy-class cabin offerings were launched late last year and are currently featured on the carrier's 777-300ER aircraft.

Philippines To Build New Airport In Bohol Province 

The Philippines government will invest PHP3.8 billion (US$81 million) to build an international airport in the Bohol province.

Construction of the facility to be known as the Panglao-Bohol International Airport is expected to start in the third quarter next year. The Manila International Airport Authority will provide PHP3 billion pesos to finance the construction, while the remaining 800,000 pesos will be provided by the Dept. of Transportation and Communication in Manila.

Ameco Secures Landing Gear Contract From Cathay Pacific 

Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corp. (Ameco) Beijing secured an eight-year contract from Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific for the exchange and overhaul of Airbus A321/A320 landing gear (LDG).

Ameco is expected to receive the first LDG from Cathay by the end of September. Ameco is the only maintenance, repair and overhaul service provider for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in China. Its product offering for exchange/overhaul services for Boeing aircraft covers the 737NG, 737 Classic (737-400) and 747, but only overhaul for the 767. -wdennis@tm.net.my

SIA, China Eastern Sign Partnership Agreement 

Singapore Airlines and China Eastern signed an agreement setting a framework for a cooperative partnership in conjunction with a proposed strategic investment in the Chinese carrier by SIA and its shareholder Temasek Holdings (DAILY, Aug. 29).

Xiamen Airlines Orders 25 737-800s 

Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines has ordered 25 Boeing 737-800s with delivery slated for 2011 through to 2013; the aircraft will be deployed on major domestic and regional routes.

This is the second major order Boeing has received from China in less than two weeks. Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines on Aug. 20 placed an order for 55 737-700/-800s. -wdennis@tm.net.my

Changi's Terminal 3 To Open For Operations In January 

Changi Airport's Terminal 3 will open for operations on Jan. 9.

Trials focusing on testing passenger departure and arrival flow through the terminal, as well as integration of the various computer systems are underway. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which manages the airport, has planned for more than 50 test runs in the next few months.

AirAsia Signs Letter Of Intent For New JV 

Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia signed a letter of intent with Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (VSIG) to set up a new low-fare airline.

To be named Vina AirAsia, the carrier will be based in Hanoi. VSIG will hold 70% stake, while AirAsia will hold the remaining 30%. The joint venture will have a startup capital of US$30 million.

Vina AirAsia is expected to start operations within six to nine months, initially offering domestic flights. No details of the aircraft type that the airline will operate were available.

Garuda Passes Saudi Safety Audit 

Garuda passed a safety audit performed in early August by Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) in Jakarta. The five-day audit was carried out by a team of five headed by GACA's vice president for safety Berenji Mohd Rashad and witnessed by Gerard Shaughnessy, a technical expert from the International Civil Aviation Organization. The audit covered flight procedures, competency of Garuda's pilots and maintenance of aircraft.

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