Category Archives: Major News

When is a Rebranding not a Rebranding? Parsing the New Southwest Identity

By Ian Petchenik / Published September 2014

Ask any executive at Southwest about the graphic identity changes the company unveiled in Dallas yesterday and they are quick to point out that it is not a rebranding. But if it’s not a rebranding, then what exactly is it and why do it at all?

After Monday’s announcement, Southwest’s marketing and brand executives sat down to discuss why they chose to leave the canyon blue behind and what it means for Southwest moving forward.

KevinKroneBrandPanel

Kevin Krone, Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer, speaking on the brand panel at Media Days. Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest’s announcement of a new livery and company-wide visual identity comes at time when the airline is preparing to change in a number of important ways. The merger with AirTran is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, the Wright Amendment is set for repeal in October, and new international destinations are on the horizon. Southwest was also contending with a varied and cluttered internal brand identity.

As Kevin Krone, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, explained, “We needed a new consistent look. We had the heart, the plane icon, Business Select, Pets, Rapid Rewards,” and a number of other identity pieces. Anne Murray, Senior Director of Marketing Communications was a bit more blunt when she said the new logo meant “no more logo soup.”

ManySouthwestLogos

Slide from Southwest brand presentation describing multitude of logos. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

 

SouthwestHeart

Southwest’s new “Heart” logo. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest’s goal with the new visual identity is a “simple, keen expression of who Southwest Airlines is,” according to Krone. For this simple, keen expression, Southwest turned to long-time partner GSD&M and Lippincott & Co., a global brand identity consultancy. Lippincott’s previous airline clients include United, Delta, and Avianca. The result of over a year of work is the new Southwest “Heart” motif with a stylized red, yellow, and blue heart squarely at the center of Southwest’s brand identity. Robert Jordan, Southwest’s Chief Commercial Officer, sees the new heart as integral to Southwest’s identity, “It’s our symbol like the Apple logo or the Target logo. It’s what makes us different and drives us.”

Part of the idea behind the brand refresh and rollout is priming travelers who don’t already fly Southwest with an image of a modern airline. Southwest wants the chance to make a new introduction to markets that have consistently viewed the airline as a leisure airline, particularly in New York and Washington D.C., and feels the brand refresh provides that opportunity.

Southwest will also be using the brand refresh to update the interiors of their aircraft. Jordan said, “Change in the cabin is coming, specifically new seats. We have found the Evolve seat has had an issue with durability of the seat bottom.” The new seat bottoms will take about a year to get into aircraft due to testing and certification requirements. The rest of the seat will remain physically unchanged save for the updated color scheme. Passengers can expect a bluer look on the inside of the aircraft, along with the heart logo featured prominently.

Krone also discussed Southwest’s much vaunted “Bags Fly Free.” On the question of that possibly changing, he said, “Free bags are a part of the airline’s DNA. People have a right to take stuff with them on vacation. We don’t see this going away.” He also doesn’t see a place for premium economy style seating in the near term, though Southwest isn’t ruling it out. Krone, however, specifically excluded the addition of in-seat power on Southwest aircraft anytime soon, citing the cost and weight of such systems. While he promised additional passenger experience improvements coming later this fall, he did not specify what those were.

SouthwestAdEmployee

One of Southwest’s new television ads, “Attitude”. Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

But the new identity isn’t just for customers. In fact, much of it isn’t directly for anyone outside the company at all. Nearly all of the accompanying marketing materials feature employees and embrace Southwest’s culture. For an airline that believes its culture is what separates it from its competitors, it’s only natural to rely heavily on that image as the face of the brand. In talking with various Southwest executives it became clear that one of the main drivers behind the new branding was leveraging existing brand equity to project an updated image of an airline that cares about its employees.

It remains to be seen if the new branding will have any effect on Southwest’s culture, employees, and—perhaps most importantly—profits, as Southwest wrestles with rising costs and issues with labor contracts. But one thing is clear: Southwest is going to wear its heart on its belly.

SouthwestBellyHeart

Southwest’s new livery featuring the “Heart” on the belly of the aircraft. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

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Contact the author at ian@petchmo.com

Contact the editor at vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

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Mexico City to Receive New International Airport

By Benjamin Bearup / Published September 8th, 2014

Mexico City's new international airport: Image Credit - Foster + Partners

Mexico City’s new international airport: Image Credit – Foster + Partners

Mexico City is set to receive a new state-of-the-art-airport on a site adjacent to the current Benito Juarez International Airport. The $9.2 billion project will be constructed by a consortium of firms anchored by Sir Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners. The first phase of the new airport will be completed in early 2018 or late 2019, including three runways and a single terminal with capacity of 60 million passengers per year, more than double that of the current airport. In its final stages, the airport will have six runways and a capacity of 120 million passengers per year.

The project is expected to create up to 160,000 jobs for the local economy during construction and will maintain tens of thousands of new jobs long term. The projected economic impact of the new airport on tourism in Mexico is roughly $19.6 billion, doubling the current figure in line with traffic expansion.

The terminal building will cover an area of roughly 555,000 square meters, making the new airport one of the largest in the world by size. In addition to Foster + Partners, the consortium selected to design and construct the airport includes FR-EE (Fernando Romero Enterprise) and NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants). The main terminal building will be designed by Lord Foster, who also designed London’s Stansted Airport, and Terminal 3 at Beijing International Airport, the world’s largest airport terminal when it was constructed.

The proposed initial design is for a single terminal building, similar to Beijing’s Terminal 3. It will house 95 gates including 12 dedicated to widebody aircraft. A large dedicated cargo facility is also shown in renders of the airport, with the capacity to handle more than 20 cargo aircraft simultaneously.

A rendering of the new Mexico City International Airport terminal: Image Credit - Foster + Partners

A rendering of the new Mexico City International Airport terminal: Image Credit – Foster + Partners

The main terminal building will have a span of between 100 and 170 meters, making it close to than three times wider than most modern airport terminals. One of the most recognizable architectural highlights of the main terminal is the light-weight glass and steel roof. The entire terminal will be enclosed within a continuous lightweight grid-shell that will feature “embracing walls and roof in a single, flowing form, evocative of flight.” The roof is specially designed for Mexico City’s poor soil conditions.

An interior rendering of the new airport: Image Credit - Foster + Partners

An interior rendering of the new airport: Image Credit – Foster + Partners

The new airport incorporates sustainable design, with features such as LEED Platinum which provides cool and comfortable conditions inside the terminals using minimal energy. LEED Platinum works by using air displacement ventilation principles to constantly pump fresh cool air into the terminal, using almost 100% outside air while adding little to no additional heating or cooling.

Mexican cultural influences will be prevalent throughout the airport, featuring art from local artists and creative design elements with major influences from Latin American culture. One of the largest show pieces inside the new terminal will be a full scale Olmec colossal head. However, the Olmec head will very likely be artificial due to the rarity of these heads (only 18 have been discovered. Other large cultural show pieces include carved stone support pillars shaped as Toltec warriors from Mesoamerica.

The current Benito Juarez Airport is at capacity, with no direct space for expansion available. Traffic at the airport reached 33.1 million passengers in 2013, and has averaged 9.2% per year in rebounding from a low of 24.1 million in 2010. Lack of spare capacity has prevented several interested airlines, including Middle Eastern carriers Turkish Airlines and Emirates, from launching new long haul services to the airport.

Mexico City’s economy grew sharply in 2013, even as growth in the overall economy tapered off to 1.1%. Rising affluence in the capital and the growth of low fare carriers have driven demand growth, and with the new international airport, Mexican aviation has its talisman for the next several decades.

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Contact the editor at vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

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Southwest Airlines Unveils New Livery and Brand

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 8th, 2014

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 ("Heart Two" / N8645A) in the new livery: Image Credit - Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 (“Heart Two” / N8645A) in the new livery: Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest Airlines unveiled a new brand and livery Monday, marking its first brand refresh since introducing its present logo and canyon blue livery in January 2001. In an event dedicated to Southwest employees at its maintenance headquarters, the Dallas-based airline unveiled a new aircraft livery (named Heart), airport experience and logo. The new brand enhancement—which has been in the works for about a year—and a new take on Southwest’s famed “ding” mnemonic were developed in collaboration with advertising and branding partners GSD&M, Lippincott, VML, and Razorfish and Camelot Communications.

The new brand image appears to have been prompted by several substantial changes in the Southwest Airlines business model, including major expansions at Northeast airports New York La Guardia and Washington Reagan, the end of the Wright Amendment in October of this year, the first international flights in the company’s 47-year history, and the completed integration with AirTran Airways later this year. At the event, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly highlighted these developments, also crediting the inspiration for the heart motif to Southwest’s team of 46,000 employees:

Gary Kelly on stage at Southwest's announcement. Image credit: Chris Sloan / AirwaysNews

Gary Kelly on stage at Southwest’s announcement. Image credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

“2014 is a big year and today puts an exclamation point on it, especially with the Berlin Wall of the Wright Amendment coming down in 1 month,” said Mr. Kelly. “The world has changed and we have had to evolve. The heart has stayed the same… and you are the heart. We have a record 2014 and it’s all because of you… Southwest Airlines is built on love by our people and for our people. Our heart is strong and healthier than ever.”

 

The first plane on display at the event was a newly delivered Boeing 737-800 (registered as N8642E) and dubbed “Heart One,” following the naming convention for all of Southwest’s new and special liveries. A second Boeing 737-800, christened as “Heart Two,” performed a flyby at the event.

Southwest's new branding at Dallas Love Field. Image credit: Ian Petchenik / AirwaysNews

Southwest’s new branding at Dallas Love Field. Image credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Overnight, Southwest also unveiled a new branding concept for airports at its home base at Dallas Love Field. Implementation of the new airport branding will be spread over the next two and a half years through the end of 2016, and integrated into existing and upcoming airport improvement projects so as to remain cost-neutral. Three airports are expected to be converted by the end of 2014. Southwest’s employee uniforms, aircraft interiors, and customer facing brand elements will also be updated to match the new brand image. New service items will be introduced later this fall, while the divisive Evolve seats will begin to be replaced as early as next year. The carrier’s Spirit inflight magazine will be renamed Southwest, and a new edition featuring the new brand will be released on September 15,

Southwest's new airport branding, which was unveiled today at Dallas Love Field: Image Credit - Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s new airport branding, which was unveiled today at Dallas Love Field: Image Credit – Southwest Airlines

Repainting of aircraft is expected to take place over seven years, slower than rivals such as Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines or Chicago-based United Airlines. Southwest operates a fleet of 637 Boeing 737 aircraft, including 136 classic 737-300s and 737-500s, 427 737-700s, and 74 737-800s. It also has 285 737s on order (40 737-700s, 45 737-800s, and 200 re-engined 737 MAXs) with purchase options for a further 227. Given the extended timeline of repainting, it is unclear whether the 737-300s and 737-500s earmarked for retirement will be repainted. However, Southwest’s special liveries such as “Arizona One” will be repainted to incorporate the new Heart paint scheme.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-200 in the 1971-2001 livery: Image Credit - Chris Sloan / Airways News

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-200 in the 1971-2001 livery: Image Credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

Founded in 1967, Southwest has had just three brand identities in its lifetime. Until 2001, its primarily livery was Desert Gold, red, and orange, with the word Southwest written along the upper edge of the tail, as shown in the photograph at right.

Current Southwest Airlines Livery on a Boeing 737-300: Image Credit – Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airways News

In 2001, Southwest introduced the “Spirit” livery that graces most of its airplanes today, retaining the red and orange stripes on the fuselage and tail but replacing Desert Gold with Canyon Blue. The “Southwest” title remained on the tail, and the aircraft’s belly remained red. The “Spirit” livery is shown at left.

The new livery unveiled today features Bold (not Canyon) Blue, Warm Red, Sunrise Yellow, and Summit Silver. While the two tail colors are similar to the present tail, their order has been inverted, with the lighter Sunrise Yellow placed higher than Warm Red on the tail forward of it on the fuselage. The Southwest title has been removed from the tail and moved to the fuselage; a first for the carrier. Another major change occurs along the belly of the fuselage, where the red line extending the length of the fuselage (and covering the belly) has been eliminated in favor of a simple heart, dedicated to Southwest’s employees.

Southwest's snack options in the new branding.

Southwest’s snack options in the new branding. Image credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

Southwest’s cabins will also see an update in color and style, but Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Krone stated there are no imminent changes to Southwest’s passenger experience. “Free bags are a part of the airline’s DNA,” he said, “People have a right to take stuff with them on vacation. We don’t see this going away.” He also doesn’t see a place for premium economy style seating in the near term.

The branding in the cabin will get a refresh, including Southwest’s snacks, as seen here. The cabin will include more blue with silver accents and feature Southwest’s heart prominently.

 

As part of Southwest’s changes, new advertising focusing on Southwest’s employees premiered during Monday Night Football. Other ads, including “More than a Machine,” seen here, will show in markets around the country.

 

Image Credit -  Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines

Image Credit – Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines

At a panel conducted after the unveiling event Monday, Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Robert Jordan stated that the airline wanted to avoid the “white” and bland liveries that so many other airlines have opted for and retain its “bold” color scheme. Additionally, Mr. Jordan noted that Southwest has several different logos and branding elements in airports, onboard its airplanes, and in advertising. Reducing brand confusion was thus a key impetus behind the redesign. “No other airline can put a heart on a plane and have it look authentic,” said Mr. Jordan, “The heart is now our symbol at Southwest Airlines.”

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Contact the author at vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

Ian Petchenik and Chris Sloan in Dallas also contributed to this report

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Ryanair Launches the Boeing 737 MAX 200

By Luis Linares & Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 8, 2014

A rendering of the Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX 200

A rendering of the Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX 200

Low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair launched the Boeing 737 MAX 200, with a firm order for 100 aircraft valued at $10 billion. The deal also includes purchase options for a further 100 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2019 and lasting through 2023.

Europe’s largest ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) already operates a fleet of 300 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with a further 180 copies on order. It will become the first operator of the larger 200-seat variant worldwide, though it will only configure the aircraft with 197 passengers. The additional aircraft will allow Ryanair to boost its fleet size to 520 aircraft by fiscal year 2024, driving growth to 150 million passengers per annum. Based on current growth projections for European air travel, Ryanair’s goal is to control roughly one sixth of the European air travel market within a decade.

Boeing had announced the increase in the 737 MAX 8′s seating capacity from the 189 offered on the 737-800 to 200 at July’s Farnborough Airshow. The increase will be achieved by incorporating a mid-exit door and raising the aircraft’s exit limit accordingly. The 5.8% increase in seat capacity will allow the 737 MAX 200 to achieve unit costs at least 5% lower than those of the 737 MAX 8, which already projected to be 13-14% cheaper to operate than the present day 737-800. Thus Boeing expects the aircraft to gain wide acceptance from airlines, especially ULCCs, around the world.

The order is a boost for Boeing, who has won more than 2,373 orders and commitments for the re-engined MAX since its launch in 2011. However, even with Ryanair’s order, sales of the 737 MAX continue to lag those of rival Airbus’ A320neo, which has won 3,288 firm orders and commitments since launch.

Despite its large 737 fleet, Ryanair has often had tense relations with the Chicago-based airframer. The airline was launched with used aircraft, but placed its first order for 45 737-800s in 1998. The airline followed that order with additional orders for 155 737-800s in 2001 and a further 100 in 2003. Because it had ordered in bulk, Boeing had granted Ryanair substantial discounts. However when 737 Next Generation (NG) family valuations rose sharply in the past half-decade, it became clear that Ryanair had gotten a steal. Due to Ryanair’s policy of selling aircraft before their first heavy maintenance check (which can happen anywhere between six and eight years after entry into service [EIS]), Boeing is also worried about the effect of undervalued Ryanair aircraft on after-market values. Eager to avoid the same fate, Boeing held firm in negotiations for an order for 200 airframes in 2009. Talks collapsed, and Ryanair didn’t place its order for 175 737-800s until March of last year. This time around, negotiations appear to have gone more smoothly. And despite the rhetoric of Ryanair head Michael O’Leary, who has threatened at times to defect to Airbus’ A320 or even upstart COMAC’s C919, the Dublin-based giant has once again returned to the fold.

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Contact the author at luis.linares@airchive.com

Contact the editor at vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

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CSeries to Resume Flight Testing in September

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 5th, 2014

CSeries FTV: Image Credit - Howard Slutsken / Airways News

CSeries FTV: Image Credit – Howard Slutsken / Airways News

The modified engines for Bombardier’s CSeries flight test vehicles have successfully completed the testing required for a return to flight tests. The first set of engines have been re-installed, and after engine runs and other pre-requisite steps, CSeries flight testing is set to resume sometime this month using flight test vehicle FTV2.

The CSeries flight test program has been grounded since late May due to a sudden loss of power and un-contained failure of one of the flight test aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines on May 29, 2014. Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier have finalized a solution to the problem that has been incorporated into the engine’s oil lubrication system, and Pratt has completed the first set of modified engines with full flight clearance approval from relevant authorities such as Transport Canada.

Despite the flight testing pause, Bombardier remans confident that the CSeries entry-into-service (EIS) will occur in the second half of 2015. This is in part due to other program work that was accelerated during the flight test pause, such as additional ground tests, configuration and software upgrades, and telemetry and system analysis for data collected thus far. All of these activities were included in the initial schedule for CSeries testing, but were moved ahead of the flight test program due to circumstances.

While no firm date has been announced for its return to the air, our sources indicate that FTV2 could fly as soon as this Sunday.

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Contact the author at vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

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Delta To Make Cuts in Pacific and Retire 25% of Its 747 Fleet This Year

By Jack Harty / Published July 31, 2014

6800002537_2dd598b172_z2Delta Air Lines will retire four of its 16 Boeing 747-400s by the end of 2014, further announcing that it will make some cuts and changes to its Pacific route network.

The carrier presently has 16 747-400s in its fleet, which were inherited when it merged with Northwest. The decision means twenty-five percent of its 747 aircraft (4) will be retired by the end of the year. Delta says it is speeding up the retirement of the 747s due to “a re-evaluation of options to improve our international performance.” Three are slated to be retired by the end of September.

Some are slightly surprised by Delta’s decision to speed up the retirement as all 16 aircraft recently went through a major cabin refresh.

Pacific Network Changes

Delta says it will cancel its flights between Tokyo Narita and Hong Kong as well as flights between Nagoya and Manila effective October 26, 2014.

With four of the 747s departing the fleet by the end of the year, the carrier will have to redeploy its aircraft on some of the existing 747 routes. The carrier will begin operating a 777-200 between Atlanta and Tokyo as well as between Los Angeles and Tokyo starting on September 30. On October 26, it will downgrade its flights between Detroit and Nagoya to an Airbus A330-200 from a 747.

The A330s, 767-300s, and 777s are all being redeployed in the Atlantic and Pacific networks since there were some other service reductions.

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com. Photo courtesy jplphoto.

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ANA, Airbus and Boeing Finalize Major Aircraft Orders

By Jack Harty / Published July 31, 2014

20140731-004409-2649147.jpgBoeing and All Nippon Airways (ANA) finalized an order for 40 wide-body airplanes on Thursday.

The order is split between 20 777-9Xs, 14 787-9 Dreamliners and six 777-300ERs (Extended Range), part of the airline’s strategic long-haul fleet renewal plan. The order is valued at approximately $13 billion at list prices, and it was originally announced as a commitment in March 2014.

“The aircraft we have selected will enable us to modernize and expand our fleet further as we seek to become one of the world’s leading airline groups,” said Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO, ANA Holdings. “These new aircraft will give us maximum flexibility and improved fuel efficiency, and will allow us to meet the growth in demand, both internationally and in our domestic Japanese market.”

“This order from ANA demonstrates the strength of our 50-year partnership and we are proud to make history with ANA once again,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “We are honored that ANA has decided to continue operating an all-Boeing widebody fleet that consists of 767s, 787s, 777s and now the new 777X family of airplanes.”

In March, ANA announced that it would place firm orders for 70 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Airbus won the narrow-body battle as the carrier ordered seven A320neo and 23 A321neo single aisle aircraft. However, Boeing took home the wide-body order.

The new Boeing aircraft will be used predominantly on international routes.

The carrier chose the 777-9X in part because it boasts a 15% larger seating capacity when compared to the current generation 777-300. Since the -X program is not scheduled to gain full traction until late in the decade, the carrier bought a handful of current generation 777-300ERs.

ANA says the “introduction of these new aircraft will help it respond to the needs of the increasing number of passengers expected to arrive in Japan in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and will support the Japanese government’s plans to boost the annual total of foreign visitors to Japan to 20 million.”

To date, this order is the biggest in the airline’s history, and Boeing still continues to dominate the carrier’s long haul fleet. The carrier was the launch customer of the 787, and it plans to have a fleet of approximately 80 787s once all of its orders have been delivered.

RELATED: Analysis: ANA Goes Shopping

RELATED: Boeing Launches the 777X with the Gulf Big Three

RELATED: JAL places historic order for Airbus A350 XWB

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com.

Cover photo courtesy of JDL Multimedia

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ANA To Fly Its First Scheduled 787-9 Flight August 7

By Jack Harty / Published July 30, 2014

KBFI-4_9_14-9ANA will begin flying scheduled domestic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights on August 7. It will introduce the 395 seat aircraft on routes between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Fukuoka, Osaka (Itami) and Matsuyama.

ANA will take delivery of two more 787-9s before the end of the fiscal year ending March 2015, and the carrier plans to start 787-9 international flights around these times. The carrier plans to use these aircraft on long haul routes to Europe, North America, and other key destinations. In the mean time, the aircraft will help with maximizing passenger numbers and lower operations costs on domestic flights.

Although the first aircraft have 395 seats, the aircraft will be converted before international 787-9 flights begin next year. There will be 215 seats which is 46 more than its 787-8s have.

Here is the flight schedule the airline has set:

Flight No. Departure Arrival Flight No. Departure Arrival
NH241 Tokyo (Haneda) 7:25 Fukuoka9:15 NH248 Fukuoka10:05 Tokyo (Haneda) 11:50
NH25 Tokyo (Haneda) 13:00 Osaka(Itami) 14:05 NH30 Osaka(Itami) 15:00 Tokyo (Haneda) 16:15
NH595 Tokyo (Haneda) 17:15 Matsuyama 18:40 NH598 Matsuyama 19:30 Tokyo (Haneda) 21:00

In the press release, ANA says it will become the first airline in the world to operate a scheduled flight with the 787-9. However, Air New Zealand was the launch customer, and via Twitter, it said that it will fly the first scheduled flight. The carrier says it will begin flying the 787-9 between Aukland and Sydney on August 9, but when asked which flight, it said that not all of the details have been worked out.

RELATED:

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com.
Cover photo curtesy of JDL Multimedia.

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WestJet Reports Record Earnings and Announces It Will Begin Flying 767s

By Jack Harty / Published July 29, 2014

While WestJet Airlines Ltd. reported record profits this morning, the westjetcarrier announced that it will begin flying four Boeing 767-300ER aircraft for flights between Alberta and Hawaii beginning during the late winter in 2015.

The airline announced a second quarter profit of $51.8 million or 40 cents per share which is up from $44.7 million or 34 cents per share a year ago. The profits beat analysts expectations as it was estimated that the carrier would earn a profit of 28 cents per share.

Despite costs growing (excluding fuel) by 1.9%, the company saw a revenue increase of 10.3% to $930.3 million which is up from 843.7 million year over year.

Growth Is In The Future

Last month, the carrier launched its first flights to Europe when it began flying between St. John’s, N.L., and Dublin. More growth in overseas markets is expected starting in the 2016 summer.

“We continue to execute on our growth plans, including new service to Dublin, Ireland, success with our fare bundles initiative, and the expansion of WestJet Encore,” WestJet’s president and CEO, Gregg Saretsky, said in a statement.

The carrier announced that it will begin flying the Boeing 767-300ER aircraft in late 2015 for flights between Alberta and Hawaii. The carrier plans to have four 767s in its fleet which have a range of 6,000 nautical miles, and they will be replacing  the two Boeing 757-200s operated by Thomas Cook that operate these flights.

Additionally, the carrier says it will use its option to purchase five more Bombardier Q400 turboprops as its regional service, WestJet Encore, continues to expand.

Related: WestJet to Introduce Wide Body Aircraft in 2015

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com.

Latest photo courtesy of JDL Multimedia.

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Airbus Terminates Skymark A380 Order

By Jack Harty / Published July 29, 2014

On April 8, 2014, Skymark Airlines’ first A380 successfully A380 MSN162 SKYMARK TRANSFER TO  STATION 30made its maiden flight, and the aircraft was scheduled to get painted and its cabin installed in Hamburg, Germany shortly after.

However, Airbus has terminated the $1.7 billion order.

Skymark has had some financial troubles during the last year due to a weaker yen and tough competition, and the carrier says it has been in talks with Airbus to cancel the order. The carrier says Airbus had requested that it become an affiliate with a larger airline as a condition for altering the contract and that they asked for a cancellation fee after the carrier rejected the request.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Airbus terminated the contract when Skymark made it clear that it was not going to perform its contractual obligations,” an Airbus spokesperson said in an email.

“We cannot accept a demand that would shake management independence,” Skymark said in a statement.

Even though Skymark Airlines only ordered six aircraft, the order was big for Airbus as it struggled to sell its A380s in Japan.

Unfortunately, this is the latest blow in the Airbus A380 program. The manufacturer has not been able to attract new customers in the last two years, and just recently, Qatar Airways has rejected delivery of its first three A380s.

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com.

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New and Free IFE Options Coming to a Delta Flight Near You August 1

By Jack Harty / Published July 28, 2014

On August 1, new and free inflight entertainment options are coming to more than 1,000 Delta mainline and regional aircraft near you with the “Delta Studio.”

Welcome to “Delta Studio”

Delta’s customers will have access to movies, television shows, music, and games through seat-back entertainment systems or on demand video streaming onboard Delta’s Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft, regardless of what class they are seated in. However, the Delta Studio will only available on flights longer than one and a half hours.

In a press release, Delta calls its move “the most far-reaching effort by an airline to provide hit movies, popular television shows, music and video games for free.”

“Through the introduction of Delta Studio our customers have yet another reason to choose Delta and a different travel experience,” said Tim Mapes, senior vice president – Marketing. “Delta continues to be driven by customer feedback which has consistently placed the desire to be entertained at the top of the list of ways to improve our customers’ time in the air.”

New IFE Options on International Flights

Delta customers seated in BusinessElite, First Class and Economy Comfort will have free, unrestricted access to in-flight entertainment on all international flights worldwide. Customers traveling in economy on all international flights will also have access to free content. Delta completed installation of seat-back entertainment systems on its international fleet in 2013.

New IFE Options On Domestic Flights

Customers traveling on domestic flights in BusinessElite, First Class and Economy Comfort will have free access to all in-flight entertainment. Domestic economy customers will have access to free content which includes all of Delta’s live satellite TV channels, music selections and game options through seat-back entertainment systems as well as movie or TV selections such as ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ or ‘Frozen’ on seat-back systems in August as well as streaming content through in-flight Wi-Fi.

Want More Content?

Additional premium content will be available for purchase in economy including the latest movie titles such as ‘Need for Speed’ or ‘Rio 2,’ HBO and SHOWTIME programming as well as on-demand TV shows like ‘About a Boy’ or ‘The Middle.’ Delta’s full entertainment line-up for the month of August is available in Sky magazine.

How does it work if you don’t have seat-back entertainment options?

Delta explains that “customers traveling on any domestic Delta or Delta Connection aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi will be able to stream free movies and TV options directly to their mobile devices while in flight by using Gogo’s video player app. The Fly Delta app will include an integrated player for iOS devices. Customers who have downloaded the app before their flight can easily access streamed content from Delta aircraft for playback while in-flight.”

Delta’s Current IFE

Delta currently offers 18 channels of live satellite TV and up to 250 movies, hundreds of TV shows, 2,300 songs and a selection of games on aircraft with seat-back entertainment systems on select aircraft.

There are 140 domestic aircraft with seat-back entertainment systems installed, and the carrier will be adding seat-back entertainment to 56 Boeing 757-200, 43 Boeing 737-800s and 57 Airbus A319 aircraft through 2016. Additionally, more than 100 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft are already scheduled to be delivered with seat-back entertainment through 2018.

More than 900 domestic and international aircraft are equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi, and all of its Boeing 777, 767, 747, Airbus A330 and transoceanic Boeing 757 aircraft are scheduled to receive Wi-Fi by the end of 2015.

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You can contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com.

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ANA Receives Its First 787-9

By Jack Harty / Published July 29, 2014

KBFI-4_9_14-7ANA has received its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The airline will begin flying the jet on domestic flights next month, and it will be deployed on international routes in April 2015.

Before paying passengers will fly on the 787-9, ANA will be operating a special commemorative flight “Dreamliner” with American and Japanese elementary school children in Japan on-board. The aircraft will fly over Mount Fuji, after departing from Haneda. Additionally, the TOMODACHI logo will be displayed on the aircraft to support the initiative to strengthen Japanese-US ties.

“The 787 Dreamliner is a key element in our growth strategy and we are proud to be the first airline to fly both models of the 787 family,” said Osamu Shinobe, ANA president and CEO. “The new 787-9 will build on the exceptional efficiency of the 787-8 and will allow us to meet growing demand that is anticipated ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Our customers have expressed their pleasure with the comfort of the 787′s innovative cabin features and we are excited to introduce the new 787 variant into our fleet.”

“This milestone delivery adds yet another chapter in our long and successful relationship with ANA,” said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “ANA continues to demonstrate the market-leading efficiency and comfort of the 787 family.”

The first 787-9 will arrive with domestic route specifications with 395 seats; 60 more than the 787-8.

Currently, ANA has 28 787s in its fleet, and in a press release last week, the carrier said that “The fuel savings achieved from the 787 aircraft already in service are sufficient to operate 500 round trips from Tokyo to Frankfurt and are reducing CO2 emissions by 150,000 tons a year. When all 80 Dreamliners are in operation, the CO2 reduction will be 450,000 tons, with enough fuel saved to operate 1,400 round trips to Frankfurt.”

Two weeks ago, Air New Zealand became the world’s first airline to take delivery of the new 787-9.

United will take delivery of its first 787-9 next month, and the carrier plans to begin flying it in September. Virgin Atlantic will fly its first 787-9 flight at the end of the October, and Etihad will fly its first 787-9 flight in December.

RELATED:

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

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PHOTOS: Inside the Irkut MS-21 Mockup

By Airchive.com Staff / Published July 16, 2014

MS-21-Model-1821

Photo of model courtesy of Wikimedia Commons-MilborneOne

FARNBOROUGH, UK – At Farnborough, Irkut Corporation displayed a mockup of the Irkut MS-21 (MC-21) which is also known as “Magistralny Samolyot 21 veka” – “Airliner of the 21st Century.”

The aircraft will be approximately 40-45% composite, and the manufacturer says the MS-21 family will be compliance with future environmental requirements. Plus, its cabin is wider than the Airbus A320 cabin by 12 cm and the Boeing 737 cabin by 28 cm, and the manufacturer claims that the aisles will be wide enough to allow two passengers go through the aisle without blocking each other.

There will be three variants of the MC-21.

The MS-21-300 is the baseline model, and it is similar to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800. It will be able to seat up to 181 passengers in a standard one-class configuration or 152 passengers in a standard two-class configuration.

The MS-21-200 will be able to seat up to 150 passengers in a standard one-class configuration or 136 passengers in a standard two-class configuration. The aircraft will be similar to the Airbus A319, Boeing 737-700, and Bombardier CS300.

The MS-21-400 is a proposed stretched model, and it will be similar to the Airbus A321, Boeing 737-900ER, and Boeing 757-200. This variant would be able to seat 212 passengers in a standard one-class configuration or 178 passengers in a standard two-class configuration.

So far, nine carriers have ordered 257 of MS-21 aircraft.

The aircraft is still in the developmental stages, but its first flight is expected sometime in 2015 or 2016.

Photos of the mockup:

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Jack Harty contributed to this report from Houston, Texas. Vinay Bhaskara and Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren contributed to this report from Farnborough, UK.

Photo of model courtesy of Wikimedia Commons-MilborneOne

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Eastern Air Lines Chooses MRJ90 for Regional Flying

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published July 14, 2014

FARNBOROUGH, UK: Eastern Air Lines, yes that Eastern, has placed a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi for twenty MRJ90 regional jets. The deal includes options for up to twenty more.

The jets will begin delivery in 2019. Upon delivery Eastern plans to fly them from its Miami hub to destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America, though Eastern CEO Edward Wegel declined to say where. Details on interior configuration were scant too, but Wegel estimated an 82 seat capacity. The MRJ90 is restricted to a two-two configuration, with a maximum capacity of 92.

Wegel explained that his choice for the jet was connected in part to the choice of power plant, Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower geared turbofan engine.

The jet has 275 firm orders thus far, and 325 total commitments. It is targeting a first flight date in the second quarter of 2015, followed by an entry into service with launch customer Skywest in Q2 2017.

Related, Wegel says Eastern remains on track to be airborne by the first quarter of 2015. The airline intends to run charter service with Boeing 737-800 aircraft until it reaches enough mass to switch to scheduled service.

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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Farnborough Today: Sunday, July 13

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published July 13, 2014

The Airbus A350 makes its Farnborough debut.

The Airbus A350 makes its Farnborough debut.

LONDON, UK: The 2014 Farnborough air show doesn’t open until tomorrow, but given the action so far in the otherwise sleepy London suburb you would have thought it was already underway.

Boeing held its media day at the show to discuss the status of its 777, 777X, and 787 Dreamliner programs. Unsurprisingly, it was positive. Also unsurprisingly, it isn’t too worried about its rival Airbus, whose A330neo jet is widely expected to launch this week. Behind all the rhetoric and posturing it has to be at least a little worried. An A330neo would provide a pretty serious competitor to the 787-9 and -10, though mostly by virtue of Airbus’ ability to undercut on pricing, not performance.

Notably left out of the briefing was the 747, a program that is widely considered to be in its twilight despite a substantial remake into the -8 type only a few years back. Boeing executives still appear confident that it will pull through eventually, but the question of when (and thus for us, whether) appears elusive.

In a surprisingly timed move Boeing announced it would be launching a high density 737 MAX 8, basically geared straight at European budget carrier Ryanair. The jet will expand its capacity to 200 people. The company had been considering such a move for some time, but the announcement prior to the show seemed early.

American announced a CFM International order for its A320neo order, a deal worth $2.6 billion. More importantly, the company began testing its Leap 1B engine, thereby leaping in front of its sibling, the Leap 1A. The Leap 1B will be powering the 737 MAX exclusively, while the 1A, the A320neo. CFM is likely prioritizing the MAX program thanks to its greater potential for profits, particularly as it trails in performance on the neo to the other offering from Pratt & Whitney. Our sources at Airbus tell us the 1A, which has entered testing, could be behind three months behind the current promised schedule. Will that delay Airbus’ plan to start testing the engine on a real neo in Q2 of 2015? It could.

Bombardier, for its part, did not even wait until Sunday to get into the action. As our regular readers know the Canadian transportation firm fired the first salvo of the show last night when it announced a substantial Cseries order, the first in some time. UK leasing company Falko did the deal for 24 CS100s, expected to be signed for tomorrow. Technically this is a letter of intent (LOI) order, meaning it is not firm. This isn’t too concerning as LOIs usually convert to firm orders down the road.

Aside from that, it was a quiet day. Workers finished placing final touches on company chalets while remaining jets set to be a part of the show trickled in through the day.

The show officially opens tomorrow, and we can already guarantee it will be an extremely active day. Airbus, ATR, Boeing, and Bombardier are all expected to make announcements beginning around 1000 local time and continuing on well into the late afternoon. We haven’t confirmed, but we’re expecting orders from all four.

Make sure to stay tuned right here at Airchive.com for the latest developments. For the most up to date information we can provide follow us on Twitter (@airchive) and on our Facebook page.

Cheers!

Farnborough Today in Photos:
[slideshow id=32]

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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UK Lessor to Order CSeries Jets: FARNBOROUGH 2014

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren & Vinay Bhaskara / Published June 12, 2014

Image courtesy Bombardier

Image courtesy Bombardier

FARNBOROUGH UK: A UK lessor has signed a letter of intent for up to 24 CS100 CSeries jets on Saturday, just days ahead of the beginning of the 2014 Farnborough air show, at a media dinner located at the Wind Tunnel Project.

The firm, Falko, is expected to formally sign the deal at the show on Monday.

The order comes as welcome news for Bombardier, which has seen a mere trickle of commitments for its newest airplane in recent months. The last order came in February of this year, when an undisclosed, existing customer added three aircraft at the Singapore Airshow. To date, the jet has accumulated 471 commitments so far, 203 of which are firm. It is still aiming to hit 300 by the time the airplane enters service, currently expected in 2015.

Falko, formed in 2011, already owns and operates several Bombardier aircraft, including three CRJ-900 regional jets and two Q400 turboprops. Yet it is the firm’s fleet of 57 Avro RJ85/RJ100, three BAe 146s, and eight Boeing 717-200s that make this order particularly significant. These aircraft are a key target market for the CSeries as a replacement aircraft, and Bombardier are no doubt excited at the prospect of reaching more such replacement customers in partnership with Falko.

More broadly, the order should quiet rampant speculation surrounding the direction of the C-Series program, which has once again cropped up after the recent failure of the Pratt & Whitney PW 1000G engine. That failure precluded the C-Series from flying at Farnborough, and increased skepticism about a program that was already under a great deal of scrutiny.

Still, indications are that the program remains on solid ground long-term operationally, though sales will remain a challenge (and ultimately the deciding factor). As a lessor, Falko’s confidence in the aircraft is heartening, though given its market segment, the only new-build competitive options are the smaller E-Jet E2s, or the COMAC C919, neither of which performs the C-Series’ mission as effectively.

Bombardier’s timing, effectively firing the opening salvo of the show, is certainly counter to its generally muted presence at airshows. But it gave the Canadian manufacturer the opportunity to re-assert its confidence in the progress of the program at the most prestigious airshows in the world.

Yet it will be telling to see what the remainder of the week holds for the jet. Is today’s order a sign of better, perhaps even bigger, things to come, or will this wind up the CSeries’ single shot?

Either way, to customers, these types of postures are rather meaningless (and indeed customers often are able to use timing of order announcements as leverage in negotiations), but for the outside world of mainstream media and investors, the order should restore a measure of faith in the CSeries’ program that perhaps should not have been lost in the first place.

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Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com.
Cover photo by Howard Slutsken / Airchive

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United Reduces Venezuela Service

By Jack Harty / Published July 12, 2014

United Airlines is now following other airlines as they plan to reduce flights to Venezuela this fall. This move is due to a dispute about money trapped by tight currency controls in the South American country.

Currently, United flies daily flights between Houston and Caracas.

Starting September 17, United will only fly between Houston and Caracas four times a week. The flight will depart Houston a few minutes before midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Flights will depart Caracas for Houston on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

United reported a loss of $21 million in the first quarter due to weakening of the exchange rate on approximately $100 million in Venezuelan bolivars.

Earlier this week, Delta announced it would reduce service to Caracas to weekly instead of daily.

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You can contact the author at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.

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Boeing Celebrates Delivery of First 787-9 Dreamliner to ANZ

By Jack Harty & Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren; Reporting by Isaac Alexander
Photos by Isaac Alexandar / Published July 9, 2014

photo1EVERETT, WA: Boeing and Air New Zealand celebrated the first 787-9 Dreamliner delivery on Wednesday.

The airplane is expected to fly away to Air New Zealand’s Auckland headquarters tomorrow, on Thursday, following a number of familiarization flights around the Western US in the past week. It is expected to begin flying between Auckland and Sydney before moving to Auckland to Perth on October 15. It will begin flying regional international routes to Asia before beginning service to Vancouver in two years.

The airplane is outfitted with eighteen Business Premier seats, twenty-one premium economy, and 302 regular economy seats, including fourteen rows with its Skycouch quasi-lie-flat product. The airplane will offer passengers a new, Panasonic based in flight entertainment, though no WiFi will be on board for now. It added that the airplane has KA-Band connectivity hardware built in to allow for the option down the road.

photo14 photo15 photo4 photo12

The company has ten of the airplanes on order.

“We are proud to be the launch customer for the 787-9,” said Air New Zealand Chief Financial Officer Rob McDonald. “We believe it will be a game-changer for Air New Zealand, with increased levels of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. We look forward to inviting our customers on board to experience the aircraft and all of its benefits for themselves.”

“This delivery is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our employees, suppliers and Air New Zealand,” said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Air New Zealand was a perfect partner for us in developing the 787-9, given its innovative spirit, unique mission requirements and geography. The 787-9, combined with Air New Zealand’s exceptional onboard service, will set them apart from the competition by providing an unrivaled flying experience.”

photo9Crucially, the certification also includes ETOPS up to 330 minutes, clearing a hurdle right out of the gate that the 787-8 struggled with for years. In fact the entire final assembly and flight test programs remained remarkably problem free, a nod to what many hope is the end of Boeing’s Dreamliner program troubles.

The 787-9′s fuselage is twenty feet longer than the original 787-8. The stretch allows the aircraft carry forty more passengers. Plus, the 787-9 can fly an additional 450 nautical miles.

Like the 787-8, the 787-9 offers passengers larger windows, larger stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

So far, 26 customers have ordered a total of 409 787-9 aircraft. The orders for the 787-9 make up 40% of the total 787 orders.

As far as other carriers, United expects to take delivery of its first 787-9 in August. It plans to fly the airplane between Los Angeles and Houston starting September 20.

ANA is expected to take delivery of its first 787-9 this summer as well. No plans have been announced for first routes.

Related Stories:

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Jack Harty contributed to this story from LA.
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren contributed to this story from Toronto.
Cover photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

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