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“13,760 Feet” Audiobook Promo

Airways News OpEd Teaser - MLB

By Mark L. Berry  / Published April 23, 2015

In the wake of the Germanwings tragedy, Airways News was among the first to shed some light on airline pilot mental health. Our regular contributor Captain Mark L. Berry posted an Op-Ed piece “Inside the Head of Those Inside the Cockpit” and revealed his experience with Special Health Services in the wake of his fiancée Susanne’s death onboard TWA Flight 800 back in 1996, often quoting from his memoir 13,760 Feet–My Personal Hole in the Sky. Following his post here, Mark was invited to speak on the topic of pilot mental health on Boston Herald Radio.

 

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Two years ago Airways magazine published the first chapter of Mark’s memoir as it was released in paperback and Kindle formats. Since then, Mark has been recording, editing, and mixing 13,760 Feet–My Personal Hole in the Sky into a 15-hour audio version, infused with 41 original companion songs. It’s a full production recording with 93 voice actors, unlike most audiobooks that are straightforward readings. Today we are proud to share a 5-minute video preview of Mark’s epic tale of living through one of the world’s worst air carrier disasters, as told from his unique double viewpoint as both a pilot for the airline, as well as his unfortunate position as a surviving family member. Here’s is the official 5-minute teaser:

13,760 Feet Audiobook  Promo                               5:30

 

 

13760 Feet Cover on Amazon (with headphones)

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JetBlue Takes Young Aviators and Guests to 41st Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In

Gate 23 was adorned with special Sun 'n Fun signage for flight 8501 to Lakeland.

Gate 23 was adorned with special Sun ‘n Fun signage for flight 8501 to Lakeland.

By Kyle Ludwick / Published April 23, 2015

Lakeland, FL - For the third year in a row, JetBlue Airways took part in the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida by flying a special charter flight from Orlando.

Centered around the JetBlue Foundation grant winners and Gateway Program partners, there were over 150 people on the 16 minute flight. On-board were over 80 high school students (from New York, Utah, and Florida), JetBlue University Gateway Program Aviators, JetBlue staff, and members of the media experienced the 16 minute dream flight on flight 8501 in its “Vets in Blue” Airbus A320 aircraft to the Sun ‘n Fun event.

Flight 8501 guest gathered at Orlando Gate 23 for a kickoff breakfast.

Flight 8501 guests gathered at Orlando Gate 23 for a kickoff breakfast.

The morning started off with a kickoff event at Gate 23 where many JetBlue executives spoke to event attendees about the history of the Sun ‘n Fun charter flights, the JetBlue Foundation, and the JetBlue University Gateway Program.

Despite the early hour, the event proved to be a great networking event for the young aviation professionals on hand.

A Little History

The JetBlue guests were welcomed by Sun 'n Fun President and CEO John Leenhouts and Chairman Bob Knight.

The JetBlue guests were welcomed by Sun ‘n Fun President and CEO John Leenhouts and Chairman Bob Knight.

In 2013, the relationship between JetBlue and Sun ‘n Fun was established by the first charter flight into the fly-in by JetBlue.  Later that year the JetBlue Foundation, corporate-sponsored foundation directly promoting STEM education and aviation, was founded and Sun ‘n Fun was one of the first grant recipients.  The foundation has since given approximately $200,000 in grants since its launch and continues to build lasting relationships with old partners and foster new ones–not only with the grants, but mentor opportunities, internships, and more with a focus on diversity initiatives.

The JetBlue University Gateway Program

JetBlue invited approximately two dozen guests from its University Gateway Program on the trip to Lakeland.

JetBlue invited approximately two dozen guests from its University Gateway Program on the trip to Lakeland.The Gateway Program 

The JetBlue University Gateway Program was also in the spotlight, and approximately, two dozen individuals in the program and their mentors were on hand to experience the day. Flight students at six universities in the United States have the opportunity to apply for the Gateway Program and be selected to then complete an internship at Cape Air, ExpressJet, or JetBlue, flight instruct for a year at their educational institution, and then transition to flying at Cape Air or ExpressJet.

After gaining 2-3 years of experience and accruing approximately 3500 flight hours, the Gateway Program aviator can then transition to JetBlue in a First Officer position.  This talent pipeline was one of the first of its kind and has proved to be a great way to flow pilots from their respective AABI-accredited universities all the way to JetBlue.  The program not only helps young aviators achieve their dreams of flying at JetBlue, it also supports flight training programs around the United States by helping them achieve and keep their AABI-accreditation and continue to educate young aviation professionals.

On-Board The Charter Flight and At the Event

JetBlue VP Bonny Simi invited the guests onboard flight 8501 to Lakeland.

JetBlue VP Bonny Simi invited the guests onboard flight 8501 to Lakeland.

After an on-board welcome by Captain Bob Kircher and JetBlue Vice President of Talent Bonny Simi, a quick 16 minute hop to Lakeland and a short taxi to our parking spot on Runway 5/23 was followed a welcoming ceremony by Sun ‘n Fun executives John Leenhouts and Bob Knight.  The two individuals both emphasized the importance of JetBlue Foundation’s support of STEM education and the annual fly-in event in Lakeland and welcomed JetBlue Vice Presidents Mike Elliott and Bart Roberts to the podium for a few words.

 

"Vets in Blue" was parked on Runway 5/23 at Lakeland during the event alongside past military warbird machines and the veterans that the special A320 represents.

“Vets in Blue” was parked on Runway 5/23 at Lakeland during the event alongside past military warbird machines and the veterans that the special A320 represents.

After being on display for the entirety of the day, the Airbus A320 and guests departed Runway 9L in the middle of the afternoon airshow as one of the airshow acts and a quick flight back to Orlando ended the day.  The event proved once again to be a life-changing experience for the young aviators on-board the flight and for the supporters involved with the event.

JetBlue Foundation partners, University Gateway Program mentors and pilots, and other guest in front of "Vets in Blue" at Sun 'n Fun.

JetBlue Foundation partners, University Gateway Program mentors and pilots, and other guests in front of “Vets in Blue” at Sun ‘n Fun.

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Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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Wichita Airport Offers Sneak Preview of New Terminal

By Airways News Staff / Published April 21, 2015

Next month, Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is scheduled to open a brand new 12 gate terminal, and in order to help excite the locals, the airport invited the public out for a sneak preview last weekend.

Wichita is constructing the new terminal to help “emphasize Wichita’s position as the ‘Air Capital of the World’ which helps to acknowledge that more aircraft have been built in Wichita than anywhere else on earth, and celebrates the modern technology that keeps Wichita at the leading edge of the aircraft manufacturing industry.” 

The new terminal boasts a brand new roadway and covered curb, a much larger ticketing and baggage claim area, 12 boarding gates, a larger TSA screening area, and more concession options. Plus, a new baggage handling system was installed that can detect explosives. Lastly, the airport will now have consolidated rental car facility counters, more long and short term parking, and new safety and security systems.

Check out the photos from the sneak preview by Ian McMurtry.

EXTRA: Older Photos of Wichita Airport

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Delta Has 194 Aircraft Purchase Commitments, Including Five 757s

By Airways News Staff  / Published April 21, 2015

DELTA 757

Photo courtesy of JDL Multimedia

According to the Delta Air Lines 2015 First Quarter Report it filed with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Delta has purchase commitments for 194 aircraft, including five Boeing 757-200 aircraft.

When one combines all of Delta’s purchase commitments, they total to approximately $13.6 billion; it has commitments for 45 A321-200s, 10 A330-200s, 25 A330-900neos, 25 A350-900s, 3 717-200s, 63 737-900ERs, 5 757-200s, and 18 787-8s.

The five 757-200s, expected to be configured into Delta’s international 757 configuration when they arrive in the fleet later this year, are rumored to be coming from Shanghai Airlines which owns some of the very last 757s that came off the 757 line. Meanwhile, Delta has been retiring some of its older 757s and replacing them with new 737-900ERs.

In regards to Delta’s 787 order that it inherited through its merger with Northwest, we have learned that Delta has “certain aircraft substitution rights” with its commitment for the 18 Boeing 787s. Will Delta sub the 787 for a different aircraft? Only time will tell, but the first 787 is not expected to arrive in the Delta fleet until at least 2020.

You can read the filing here

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United to Introduce New International Economy Dining Options

By Roberto Leiro / Published April 20, 2015

United Airlines (UA) is introducing a revamped dining service for United Economy travelers on long-haul international flights, decision that complements the changes made by the airline in its meal options on flights in North America during this year.

From back to front: N784UA Boeing 777-222(ER), N127UA Boeing 747-422 in new United Livery, N171UA Boeing 747-422 N209UA and Boeing 777-222(ER) in new United livery. Image: Courtesy of Jun Seita/Flickr

From back to front: N784UA Boeing 777-222(ER), N127UA Boeing 747-422 in new United Livery, N171UA Boeing 747-422 N209UA and Boeing 777-222(ER) in new United livery. Image: Courtesy of Jun Seita/Flickr

The upgrades are set to be introduced as of June 1 on transatlantic flights, as well as on flights between the United States and Argentina, Brazil and Chile, and most of United Airlines’ transpacific services.

United Economy travelers will enjoy a three-course service, including new dishes devised by United Airlines’ team of chefs, plus a premium dessert. United will also offer at no charge beer and wine during the dining service. However, the airline will continue offering spirits for purchase, along with snacks through its Choice Menu Snack Shop. Furthermore, United will continue offering pre-arrival meals, with expanded options, depending on the market served.

“United is committed to improving every aspect of our customers’ experience on the ground, in the air and with every interaction,” said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, United’s senior vice president of customers. “The changes to come on June 1 will deliver an elevated onboard experience on many of our intercontinental flights and will offer travelers the high level of service they expect from a global airline.”

The harmonization of its in flight dining service seems to respond to a trend in the industry, in which airlines are seeking to enhance their customers’ travel experience, as well as to differentiate themselves from competitors. It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and airlines appear to have adopted the concept to make customers loyal to their brands.

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Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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Airbus A330 Program Reaches its 1500th Order

By: Roberto Leiro / Published April 20, 2015

Just a few weeks after the Airbus A320 family reached its 9000th delivery, the European manufacturer is celebrating another milestone as its A330 family program has collected over 1500 firm orders.

A330-900neo_ALC

Air Lease Corporation placed an order for 25 A330-900neo on March 9, 2015. (Image credits: Airbus)

RELATED: Airbus delivers its 1000th A330

This major breakthrough in the most successful wide-body program of Airbus has come almost 28 years after its formal launch on March 12, 1987. Total sales as of March 9th include a order for four A330F for Turkish Cargo (TH/THY), and 25 A330-900neo from Air Lease Corporation.

RELATED: The History of the Airbus A330 Program

The success of the A330 program lies in its versatility. To the date, two family variants have been developed—the A330-200 and A330-300—from which several different versions have found a market niche in different roles as passenger, pure cargo and military missions.

RELATED: EADS EFW receives first Airbus A330 for P2F Conversion

RELATED: Airbus Launches Lower Weight A330 For Regional Operations

A330-200F THY taking off

Airbus has sold 42 A330 freighters. Of these, 31 have been delivered. (Photo credits: Airbus)

“It’s great to see the strong and growing endorsement for the versatile A330 Family. This reflects the market’s continuing appetite for the A330’s winning combination of unbeatable economics, best-in-class comfort and high reliability. As for all members of our product family, we are continuously improving the A330 through incremental innovations, such as adopting some of the latest technologies developed for the A380 and A350 XWB,” said John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer – Customers. “The popularity and success of the A330 is such that our top ten customers have placed repeat orders for the type more than eight times on average.”

Last year, during the 49th Farnborough Air Show, Airbus announced the launch of the A330neo, an enhanced version of the current production models, and which—alike the A320 narrowbody family—are intended to offer enhanced performance and fleet commonality, even with the A350 XWB.

RELATED: Airbus A330 MTOW Variant Completes Maiden Flight

Only other two wide-body aircaft have reached 1.500 orders. The 1.500th order for the Boeing 747 came 42 years after the initial launch order in 1966, and was placed for a 747-8 BBJ for an undisclosed customer in April 2008. In the case of the Boeing 777, this milestone was reached just after 23 years on November 17th, 2013 during the launch of the 777X program with orders from Etihad (EY/ETD) and Lufthansa (LH/DLH).

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Editor’s note: Our readers now have access to our weekly eNewsletter, which includes a recap of our top stories of the week, along with the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column and Photo of the Week from our extensive archives. The newsletter comes out every Saturday morning. Stay in the know; click here to subscribe today!

Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com.

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Part I – War Between US Legacies and MEB3 Pits Consumers Against International Law

by Vinay Bhaskara / Published April 20, 2015

Middle Eastern carriers Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad are under the public eye, after a consortium of US airlines publicly released documents that allege that the three carriers received more than $42.3 billion in subsidies and unfair benefits from their respective governments since 2004. A joint operation between United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, the investigative efforts have culminated in the public release of a presentation and 55-page white paper that detail the allegations.

Images: Courtesy of JDL Multmedia

Images: Courtesy of JDL Multmedia

Of the total amount, $39.2 billion are alleged as quantified subsidies, primarily to Qatar Airways ($17.5 billion) and Etihad ($18.0 billion). The subsidies for Qatar Airways and Etihad appear to have primarily taken the form of interest-free loans (and the accompanying interest savings) and direct equity infusions, whereas for Emirates, they were primarily related to fuel hedge losses and subsidized airport charges. The unfair benefits were primarily related to local labor laws that prevented unionization, and the resultant cost savings accrued by the so-called Middle East Big 3 (MEB3).

The US3 Have a Legal Case

The white paper and presentation indicate that the big 3 US carriers (US3) have thrown serious financial resources and time behind an investigative effort that they believe will pay dividends. The forensic accounting that underlies these numbers is painstaking and accurate, and despite the early misstep by Richard Anderson, their effort to date has been well-planned and implemented.

Based on initial assessment by trade lawyers, and with the caveat that I am not a legal professional and thus that my second hand relay should not be treated as a firm legal opinion, there is a case to be made before the WTO and the US government that the MEB3 have been unlawfully subsidized. These equity infusions and interest free loans match the WTO’s standards for subsidies. As noted in the report, “The WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures defines “subsidy” as a ‘financial contribution’ by a government that confers a “benefit” on its recipient (i.e., government support on better than commercial terms).” Even if the WTO is not necessarily the arena in which this case will be judged, the WTO’s rules and definitions will still play a critical role in framing the legal debate in the US.

And if the US3 may have a case with the WTO, that bodes poorly for the MEB3′s prospects in the arena where this case will actually be judged, by US government agencies. The entire Open Skies project, which has seen scores of aviation markets opened up to the US since the 1990s, has unquestionably been a success. But while the language of these agreements allows for unlimited service by foreign carriers, one phrase that appears in many agreements would appear to do the MEB3 in. Essentially, the language notes that US carriers can expect to have “unrestricted, fair competition to determine the variety, quality and price of air service.” And unfortunately, subsidies would likely violate this condition.

The US government has the power to alter or halt the Open Skies bilaterals with the UAE or Qatar if it finds violations of this nature, and the Obama administration is already deep into its investigation. There is real danger that they will find in favor of the US3.

US3 have financial skin in the game because of JVs

When Delta last month fingered the MEB3 as the reason that it does not serve India nonstop from the United States, it was just the latest in a series of hyperbolic statements about a supposed loss of service due to the MEB3. In reality the US3′s lack of success in India (United excepted?) is driven by a mix of factors of their own doing. First and foremost, the US3 do not offer a strong base economy class product (in particular skimping on baggage allowance), which hurts them with value-conscious Indian travelers. Moreover, if you actually wanted to cite competition as the reason for lack of nonstop service, you would actually have to point the finger at Indian flag carrier and perennial basket case Air India. Air india offered nonstop service with massive Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on Chicago-New Delhi and New York JFK – New Delhi in direct and indirect competition with American and Delta respectively. These services eroded any potential for the US airlines to earn a nonstop premium on fares, and that, more so than competition from the MEB3 helped kill the US-India nonstops. In fact across nonstop markets that the MEB3 has “stolen” from US airlines, India is the only market that would actually be large enough for US carriers to serve nonstop. Eastern Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Central Asia smorgasbord (basically the ‘Stans’)  aren’t large enough markets to ever have a nonstop. I suppose you could make an argument for Islamabad or Karachi from New York (and only New York), but the chances of a US airline serving Pakistan in the immediate future are about as good as the chances of Airbus launching an A340-500neo.

So it’s not really the loss of nonstop opportunities that is affecting the US3. Their financial losses are more indirect. While the US3 don’t carry many passengers between the US and South Asia, East Africa, Central Asia, or the Middle East, their joint venture partners Lufthansa, Air France, and British Airways undoubtedly do. And due to these joint ventures, on a USA – Europe – South Asia/East Africa/Central Asia/Middle East routing, the US airlines are entitled to a profit share for the USA-Europe leg. And they’ve lost out on a not inconsequential amount of revenue due to the market share captured by the MEB3. That amount isn’t more than $30-40 million dollars per year (a bound, not an estimate), but it is still something.

Fifth Freedom is what really scares the US3

At the end of the day the loss of $30-40 million in revenue in and of itself wouldn’t scare the US carriers into action. Rather, they perceive a much larger threat on the horizon; fifth freedom service. Thanks to the US’ liberal attitude towards aviation policy, many of its Open Skies agreements also contain provisions allowing third party carriers (airlines not from the two countries governed by the agreement) to fly so-called fifth freedom services between the US and the country covered by the agreement. In the past, these rights were mostly used by airlines who could not reach the US with nonstop flights (such as Air India’s longstanding services via London Heathrow), airlines who needed the financial boost of an intermediate destination, or airlines for whom security concerns require an intermediate stop (such as Pakistan International Airlines in Manchester or Barcelona).

The MEB3 don’t necessarily embody the spirit of these rights, and thanks to Emirates’ recent foray into the New York JFK – Milan market, where it recently introduced the Airbus A380, the US carriers are increasingly worried about the prospect of a widespread MEB3 invasion onto key trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic routes. One of the arguments against the MEB3 having a major impact on US airlines has always been that the MEB3 have little relevance on routes between the US and Europe or East Asia (and Latin America) due to the fact that nonstop routings are much shorter than those through the Middle East. But because of the way that most US open skies agreements are written, that is not necessarily true any more. In fact, it’s not hard to envision a future under status quo bilaterals where Emirates serves Los Angeles – Sydney, Qatar Airways serves Tokyo Narita – San Francisco, and Etihad serves New York JFK – Amsterdam. And that prospect terrifies the US3.

In Part 2 of this column, I will cover the argument about service, discuss the benefits to US carriers, and opine on the likely result of the US government investigation. 

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R2-D2 To Take Flight With ANA on a Dreamliner

By Airways News Staff / Published April 16, 2015

Have you ever dreamed of a Star Wars themed livery? If so, you are in luck; ANA has inked a deal with the Walt Disney Co. the Star Wars franchise to paint a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in a special livery with R2-D2 on the nose.

“ANA is committed to raising the profile of the ANA brand in the global market through innovative partnerships and branding opportunities. The partnership with Star Wars, beloved by audiences in Japan and around the globe, is a perfect match as Japan’s largest airline seeks to connect travelers around the world through this project.”

The aircraft with the special livery will start flying international flights this fall.

This is not the first time that ANA has operated an aircraft with a special livery; it has operated a number of aircraft with special liveries with Pokemon characters since 1998 when the first movie was released. Meanwhile, ANZ teamed up with the Hobbit, and EVA Air with Hello Kitty.

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Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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Houston Finally Gets Flights to New Zealand

By Airways News Staff / Published April 15, 2015

800px-Air_New_Zealand_Boeing_777-200ER_Nazarinia-1

Image by Mehdi Nazarinia via Wiki Commons

Air New Zealand will launch five weekly flights to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport this December. The flights will be operated with a completely refitted Boeing 777-200.

Back in November, ANZ said that it was planning to add a new U.S. destination with its new Dreamliners, and in particular, the airline was eyeing Chicago, Houston, and Las Vegas. However, Chicago and Houston were the front runners since both are hubs its Star Alliance partner, United Airlines, which would offer greater connection options.

Ultimately, Houston won the battle, and it will provide strong connecting options to the east coast of the United States, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and South America

“We are thrilled to open service to Houston and share our Kiwi spirit and award-winning service with The Lone Star State and beyond. This expands our reach into a thriving part of the country and also acts as a great feed to the East Coast, meaning a gateway to New Zealand is now less than three hours away from numerous U.S. cities. We’re also excited about the prospect of bringing New Zealanders to Texas and other southern and eastern states via Houston.”

“We have been flying from North America to New Zealand for almost 50 years and our focus has always been to make the journey as comfortable and easy for our customers as possible.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker welcomed the announcement.  “The City of Houston continues to enhance its status as a global gateway city, with nonstop flight service to almost 200 airports located all around the globe.  The arrival of New Zealand’s national air carrier to George Bush Intercontinental Airport is a tremendous step forward in expanding Houston’s level of connectivity even further.”

ANZ currently operates 15 flights a week to Los Angeles and seven flights a week to San Francisco from Auckland, NZ. The airline also serves Hawaii and Vancouver in North America.

Not the First Time An Airline Announced Houston-New Zealand Flights

Before Continental and United merged, Continental announced that it intended to launch flights between Houston and Auckland once it took delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners it had on order. However due to delivery delays, the Boeing 787 would arrive a few years late and at a time that the two carriers began merging.

Before United even took delivery of the 787s, a war in Houston was brewing surrounding if the City of Houston would approve the request and support the addition of an international concourse at Houston Hobby. Unfortunately, Jeff Smisek, the CEO of United, threatened the route saying it would cancel it if Hobby would get approved for international service.

Despite Smisek’s threat in hopes of blocking Hobby from becoming an international airport, the City of Houston approved, and United cancelled plans to launch Houston-Auckland flights.

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Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

 

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Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757 Focuses on Aerodynamic Efficiency

By Roberto Leiro / Published April 13, 2015

In collaboration with TUI Group and NASA, Boeing evaluates new technologies with eco-friendly technology of tomorrow.

In collaboration with TUI Group and NASA, Boeing evaluates new technologies with eco-friendly technology of tomorrow. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

As part of the ecoDemonstrator program, Boeing has begun several months of test flights with a 757-200 (cn 24627/293) in order to assess new technologies intended to improve the efficiency of flight operations, besides reducing environmental footprints.

In collaboration with the TUI Group and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), this series of flights comprise part of the multi-year effort to accelerate testing, refinement and application of innovative technologies and methods aimed at optimizing aviation´s environmental performance during every phase of flight.

“The ecoDemonstrator 757 furthers our commitment to accelerate innovative technologies for current and future airplane programs,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of Product Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The Boeing ecoDemonstrator program is focused on putting new, more environmentally efficient technologies and airplanes in the hands of our customers sooner.”

“We are very pleased to partner with Boeing for the next phase of their ecoDemonstrator program, as TUI Group is highly committed to achieving further environmental efficiency across our whole business and remaining the industry leader on carbon efficiency with our airlines,” said Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability, TUI Group.

At first sight, the ecoDemonstrator vehicle might look like an ordinary 757 passenger jetliner, but actually it is an advanced flying test bed. On its left wing, Boeing will evaluate technologies to reduce environmental effects on natural laminar flow as a way to improve aerodynamic efficiency, and in the right wing of the ecoDemonstrator, NASA will test bug-phobic coatings to reduce residues left by bug strikes on the leading edges on the leading edges of wings, hence enabling more drag-reducing laminar flow over the remainder of the wing.

Another technology tested by NASA under the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) program is an active flow control on the vertical tail, conceived to improve airflow over the rudder and maximize its efficiency. Based on wind-tunnel testing, this novel control could improve the efficiency of the rudder by up to 20 percent, and may lead for smaller vertical tail designs in future aircraft.

With the exception of Boeing proprietary technology, the knowledge gained from ecoDemonstrator research will be publicly available to benefit the industry.

“Having a relevant test bed, like Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator, to help mature technology concepts is extremely important to NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager, NASA. “Our researchers have been working hard to develop technologies to reduce airplane fuel consumption, noise and emissions. Being able to prove those concepts in flight tests gives them a better shot of getting into the commercial fleet.”

It is expected that Boeing announces additional tests with the ecoDemonstrator 757 later this year. Once these flights are completed, the manufacturer will work with the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and Stifel’s aircraft finance division (the lessor of the airplane), to recycle the 757 using environmental best practices.

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Contact the editor at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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Frontier Dedicates Aircraft to the State of Ohio

By Jack Harty / Published April 13, 2015

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Photo by Benjamin Bearup

Over the weekend, Frontier Airlines dedicated its newest animal to the Buckeye State in order to recognize the importance of Ohio in Frontier’s network.

The Red Cardinal, which is Ohio’s State Bird, is perched high on one of Frontier’s Airbus A320 tails, and it is named Orville in honor of Orville Wright who was from Dayton, Ohio and was the first Wright brother to take to the skies on the Wright Flyer in December 1903.

The Red Cardinal is the second aircraft to be in the new Frontier livery. The new livery and logo pays homage to the history of the original Frontier (1950-1986) by incorporating key aspects from former brand identities into the new one; most notable is Frontier’s return to the Saul Bass-styled F in the word “Frontier” and an extension of the animal past the tail.

EXTRA: Frontier Unveils New Livery and Brand Identity

Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio is a focus city for Frontier; it originally launched weekly domestic flights in and out of Hopkins to its main hub in Denver in January 2013. A few months later, Frontier connected Cleveland with Trenton, New Jersey.cle

When United announced that it would de-hub Cleveland at the end of January 2014, Frontier quickly started making plans to epand its reach from Cleveland to half a dozen cities United would cut. It believed that it could bring low fares into Cleveland as it continued transforming into an ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) and would become the first ULCC to serve the city.

However, Frontier has since made many changes to its schedule and cut a few cities from Cleveland to help sustain its Cleveland operation, and it will make additional changes over the next few months. It is cutting service to Fort Lauderdale, but it is increasing frequency to most of the other cities it serves to daily or double daily by this fall.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati could soon become Frontier’s latest focus city in Ohio. At the end of the month, the airline is set to connect Cincinnati with Atlanta and Fort Myers.cvg

Frontier began weekly flights to Cincinnati in mid-2013, and late last year, it started expanding its presence.

When Delta announced plans to reduce its Cincinnati operations, Frontier stepped in and announced plans to double its flights in and out of Cincinnati to partly backfill the cuts Delta is making and to help bring lower fares into the city. Although it is widely known that local businesses have historically shied away from low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers, many local officials believe Frontier will have great success thanks to a much bigger flight schedule.

EXTRA: Frontier Doubles Weekly Flights out of Cincinnati

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Editor’s note: Our readers now have access to our weekly eNewsletter, which includes a recap of our top stories of the week, along with the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column and Photo of the Week from our extensive archives. The newsletter comes out every Saturday morning. Stay in the know; click here to subscribe today!

Maps courtesy of GC Map

Contact the editor jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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ANALYSIS: AirAsia X’s New Flight to Hawaii Has Nothing to Do With Malaysia

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published April 13, 2015

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Photo through Wiki Commons via YSSYguy

Asian ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) AirAsia X will enter the US market in November 2015, launching nonstop service between Osaka, Japan and Honolulu with four weekly flights. The route will be served by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, seating 377 passengers (including 12 premium economy seats).

The new route will technically be a continuation of AirAsia X’s existing nonstop service between its home base of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. AirAsia X also serves Osaka from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport via subsidiary Thai AirAsia X.

At first glance, this route would appear to be doomed for failure. Despite its low cost and long haul ambitions, AirAsia X has really only been able to sustain itself as a high volume shuttler of passengers within the Australasia region to date; it appears as merely a widebody low cost carrier (WLCC?) if you will. Their only attempt(s) at flying to Europe–London Stansted and Paris Orly–crashed and burned (admittedly in part due to the suboptimal aircraft choice of the Airbus A340-300). Now, its single destination outside of that region today is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which has massive base of visiting family and relatives (VFR) and business travel due to Kuala Lampur’s status as a major Islamic nation and an Islamic banking center.

Hawaii has no such ties. The entire nonstop international market between the United States in 2011 was 286 passengers per day each way (PDEW), which is just barely enough to fill 76% of the seats in one Airbus A330-300. Even with some growth since 2011 (though Malaysia has lagged behind Asian peers), the market still doesn’t encompass more than 325 PDEW. And Hawaii is a tiny sliver of that, less than 5%. With a nonstop service you could at least point to some market stimulation, but for a direct flight, the normal stimulation factor of 50-150% doesn’t apply.

The reality is that this flight has nothing to do with Malaysia, nothing at all. Rather, it will sink or swim based on AirAsia X’s ability to inject itself into the massive Osaka-Hawaii market. In 2011, the Osaka-Honolulu was at 596 PDEW, more than twice the size of the entire US-Malaysia market. And remember that 2011 was a down year in Japan due to the Fukushima disaster. International traffic and airport traffic from Japan declined by 10-15% across the board, so you’re actually talking about a market that’s close to 700 PDEW.

Indeed this new flight is tied heavily to the relaunch of AirAsia Japan, which is expected to launch in Summer 2015 with a base at Nagoya. After the previous iteration of AirAsia Japan, a joint venture with All Nippon Airways, fell apart, AirAsia decided to give the Japan market another crack, this time partnering up with online travel agency Rakuten, which will hold an 18% stake in the new LCC. With the AirAsia brand set to relaunch and a partnership with one of the biggest sellers of vacation packages in Japan, entering the high volume tourist market between Hawaii and Japan is a natural strategic extension. It will allow the brand to build relevance with vacationing consumers who can then be expected to choose AirAsia Japan for their more frequent domestic trips.

Still AirAsia X will face heavy competition, with nonstop service on the route offered by Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Delta Air Lines who fly the A330-200, 777-200ER, and 747-400 respectively. AirAsia X has a much lower cost base than these three carriers, so fares in the market are probably going to come down (though they weren’t exorbitantly high to begin with).

The Hawaii-Japan market is mostly Japan point-of-sale, so in a scenario where all four airlines try to compete for a market that cannot be enormously stimulated by AirAsia X’s low fares, Hawaiian is most likely to lose out. Delta and Japan Airlines have legacy brand positioning and awareness in the Japan market (though Delta’s is diluted because much of that belonged to Northwest) while AirAsia X can be fed by one of the key distributors of travel packages to Hawaii (which are a large share of the total air travel market). In fact, moving forward, Rakuten probably has an incentive to put fewer and fewer passengers onto the other three airlines.

AirAsia will certainly be able to fill the A330-300, the question is whether it can do so profitably. The dynamics of the market are right, and at 3,577 nautical miles, its still a short enough market that AirAsia X might be able to make just enough on volume to survive. Regardless, congratulations to AirAsia X on finally entering the Malaysia Japan – US market.

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COPA Airlines finalizes Order for 61 737 MAX

By Roberto Leiro / Published  April 10, 2015

Copa Airlines (CM / CMP) has become the latest customer for the 737 MAX in Latin America, after announcing today a final order for 61 aircraft—divided between MAX 8 and MAX 9 variants—with a worth value calculated in US$6.6 billion at list price. These airplanes were previously listed in Boeing’s logbook under an unidentified customer.gallery-large-03

The announcement was held during the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama City. Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines, commented that “The Next-Generation 737 is the backbone for our fleet today, and our order for the 737 MAX shows our continued commitment for the future to bring people together across all of the Americas using the most modern and efficient airplanes in the sky as well as our Hub of the Americas, in Panama City.”

Currently, Copa Airlines has a sound fleet of 70 737s—all of them Next Generation—and they have an average age of approximately 5.4 years. The airline serves 73 destinations in 30 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean through its hub located at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City.gallery-full-05

Copa Airlines becomes the third operator of the 737 MAX in Latin America, and it is the second to order the MAX 9 series. In October 2012, GOL Transportes Aéreos (G9) became the launch customer of the model in the region with 60 aircraft. A month later, Aeromexico (AM) followed suit with a similar order. None of them have ordered the MAX 7 so far.

Out of the 2715 orders of the MAX, just a shy 6.6% correspond to operators in Latin America; a similar number comes from the logbook of the A320neo family in the region, with just 220 units (7,4%) out of the 2981 aircraft ordered in firm.

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Op-Ed: Next to Disappear? Potential U.S. Airline Mergers Analyzed

By John Walton / Published April 10, 2015

Eastern. TWA. Braniff. Northwest. Pan Am. There are more defunct airlines in US history than there are current passenger transport carriers, redolent of a much-missed time gone by. Many of them make up the three megacarriers that now dominate the US air travel market: American, Delta and United.

American Airlines is celebrating this heritage with retro amenity kits that feature historical branding from airlines that it merged with or were acquired into AA or its predecessors. The list reads like a history book of the golden age of air travel: AirCal, Allegheny Airlines, America West, Piedmont Airlines, PSA, Reno Air, and of course US Airways; plus, the retro pre-Vignelli American Airlines brand itself.

Which airlines will make up the retro amenity kits of the future, sized to fit whatever the must-have personal electronic device of the 2030s or 2040s is? How will competition concerns — already a reality for the big three and their passengers — fit in? And what airlines will fade into obscurity?

American, Delta and United, at this stage, appear too large for further consolidation among the three brands. Even the US’ indolent competition regulators must balk at a further round of merger along the lines of Delta-Northwest, United-Continental and American-US Airways. `

In terms of US carriers, that leaves Southwest, jetBlue, Alaska, Spirit, Frontier, Hawaiian, Allegiant, Virgin America and Sun Country.

It’s hard to see Southwest being a viable merger candidate for any of the majors, and its Boeing 737-only fleet strategy already proved too attractive to retain AirTran’s Boeing 717 aircraft after that merger. Southwest also attracts fierce loyalty from its fans, and nearly as much derision from frequent flyers of the full-service airlines with which it is in competition. An option could come from an acquisition of smaller Sun Country, a fellow 737-only operator, but Sun Country’s 21 aircraft would just be a drop in the bucket compared with Southwest’s nearly 700 737 examples.

JetBlue is the next largest airline in the US, and despite its recent passenger experience tack towards the demands of Wall Street it is in a relatively strong position, although firmly in the minor leagues in terms of size. The only problem jetBlue frequent flyers really have is that their airline’s independence means that its benefits are largely restricted to jetBlue-only flying. As a tradeoff for 2-4” extra legroom in coach compared with the big three, that’s a deal many passengers are only too happy to take, particularly in the age of devaluing loyalty programs from American, Delta and United. It’s hard to see how jetBlue’s unique product offerings fit well with any other airline brand.

JetBlue's A320 fleet has more commonality with merger partners than its onboard products.

Merger and acquisition rumours continue to swirl around Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. Its well-publicised ongoing fight with frenemy Delta for the Seattle traveler could end in one of three ways: remaining independent, a takeover by Delta to consolidate its position, or a takeover by American or United despite those carriers’ current non-ideal position consolidating previous mergers. Despite operating a Boeing 737 fleet that all three majors also use, it’s also hard to see a way for an airline Alaska’s size to merge into one of the big three from a competition point of view.

The US’ two main ultra-low-cost carriers, Spirit and Frontier, seem like they’d be a match made in… well, not exactly heaven. Of similar size, similar business model and similar A320 family fleets, the only questions in the prenup would be the price and which airline got to keep their livery.

Hawaiian Airlines’ incumbency in the Pacific (not to mention much-coveted international slots at Japanese airports) and fleet commonality with Delta (A330s, 717s and A321s) and American (A330s and A321s) as well as the relatively small level of route overlap with the other big three make it a reasonable candidate for merger.

Hawaiian Airlines' unique position could make it an attractive merger target.

Allegiant’s fleet strategy — buy ‘em old, run ‘em hard — means its assets aren’t especially attractive for any airline operating a different model to its sunbird, non-daily service, occasional flyer pattern.

And thus to Virgin America, everyone’s favourite target for merger speculation. Operating a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft common to all three of the majors, with an eight year old hard product that dates to 2007, and a profitability record that is unenviable, its future as a standalone carrier is certainly in doubt. 25 percent owner Virgin Group is by no means averse to other carriers owning its airlines, either in the UK, Australia or Malaysia. Delta now holds 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic and a metal-neutral joint venture with Virgin Australia. Will CEO Richard Anderson make it three for three?

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Is it Time for Another Airline Merger?

By Benét J. Wilson / Published April 8, 2015

As American Airlines and US Airways move ahead with a merger announced on February 13, 2013, AirwaysNews is looking at the future of airline mergers, asking industry observers what may be ahead. When the merger was first announced, then-US Airways CEO Doug Parker said it would be “the last major piece needed to fully rationalize the industry.”

Harlan Platt, a finance professor at the D’Amore McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, says there won’t be any further airline mergers. “I’d say that the chance for another airline merger is extraordinarily slim, because I feel the Department of Justice and the FTC made a mistake allowing mergers including Delta-Northwest and United-Continental,” he said.

EXTRA: American/US Airways to Receive Single Operating Certificate Soon

Image: Courtesy of the Delta Flight Museum

Image: Courtesy of the Delta Flight Museum

The only one that should have happened was Delta and Northwest, said Platt. “At the time, Northwest was not viable and had terrible labor relations,” he said.

But the United-Continental and American-US AIrways mergers have changed the airline industry, said Platt. “It has done from an industry that was moderately competitive and making some money to one that is making much more money, but running as an oligarchy or even a monopoly in some markets,” he said. “Airlines have reduced their fleet sizes, cut capacity and are charging more for incidentals outside of the basic fare.”

EXTRA: AirwaysNews High Flyer Interview: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker

“I feel that in the future, there’s more of a likelihood that a new carrier will enter the market rather than consolidation,” said Platt, citing JetBlue as an example.

Reid Appleby, recently named vice president at Alexandria, Va.-based consultancy Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, LLC, worked at American Airlines for 28 years in a variety of management roles, including network planning, route forecasting and air service development. “I suspect what Parker was actually referring to in his merger statement was a reference to the six remaining legacy carriers,” he said. “When Delta-Northwest and United-Continental merged, the last natural pairing was American-US Airways. So it makes sense in rounding out the legacy airlines.”

From back to front: N784UA Boeing 777-222(ER), N127UA Boeing 747-422 in new United Livery, N171UA Boeing 747-422 N209UA and Boeing 777-222(ER) in new United livery. Image: Courtesy of Jun Seita/Flickr

From back to front: N784UA Boeing 777-222(ER), N127UA Boeing 747-422 in new United Livery, N171UA Boeing 747-422 N209UA and Boeing 777-222(ER) in new United livery. Image: Courtesy of Jun Seita/Flickr

But it does leave open the question of what happens to the next tier of airlines flying jets, like JetBlue, Virgin America, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Alaska Airlines, said Appleby. “In that realm, there’s still a possibility of a combination or two. I don’t think any are imminent, but there has been speculation that there could be a merger in the ultra low-cost carrier realm, the domain of Spirit and Frontier,” he said.

Stephen Carbone worked at FedEx during the time it merged with Flying Tigers, worked at the NTSB as an aircraft accident investigator and is the author of “JetBlast.” He feels that the dust still needs to settle with the mergers that have already happened before more happen.

“One thing that happens during a merger is that it takes a long time for the process to work. Tedious is the word to describe it,” said Carbone. “There are a lot of planets that need to align, like union contracts, fleets and routes, before you get everything working.”

So with that, Carbone doesn’t see another merger for at least a decade. “It’s not just the airlines that need to align, but it’s also the industry. We’re seeing hostility over the Open Skies agreement with Gulf carriers versus the big three U.S. airlines,” he said. “Airlines need to know where they’re standing to compete against global carriers, and there has to be more realignment globally before anything happens domestically.”

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Aeromexico and Delta To Take Their Partnership To a New Level

By Roberto Leiro / Published April 8, 2015

Aeromexico (AM) and Delta Air Lines (DL) have filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Economic Competition Commission of Mexico (CFC) to seek antitrust immunity to set the grounds on a new joint venture that would enhance flight options of both carriers between Mexico and the United States._MG_1790

The application, if approved by both entities, will not just reinforce the already existing commercial and marketing links between Aeromexico and Delta; it would also clear the path to create a $1.5 billion USD joint venture that would offer customers an expanded and optimized network through Aeromexico’s hubs—Mexico City (MEX), Guadalajara (GDL), Hermosillo (HMO) and Monterrey (MTY)—as well as Delta’s key hubs in the United States—Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Seattle (SEA)—altogether. Plus, co-locating and investing in airport facilities to improve boarding gates and lounges, and renewing cabin products would have a very positive impact on the overall passenger experience.

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“Mexico is the most popular international destination for Delta customers, and our proposed joint venture will offer our customers more schedule and destination choices, whether traveling for business or pleasure,” said Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines President. “Approval of antitrust immunity will allow travelers to fully benefit from all the aspects of a future Delta-Aeromexico joint venture, including the combination of two complementary networks.”

“We are thrilled at this opportunity to further deepen our relationship with Delta. The potential to align our networks and scheduling means that we will be able to offer greater customer choice than we would have been able to offer individually,” said Andres Conesa, CEO of Grupo Aeromexico.

The interest of Aeromexico in deepening its relationship with Delta demonstrates the need for the Mexican carrier to settle a vantage point against its direct competitor, Interjet (4O), which is currently redefining its business strategies by code-sharing with oneworld alliance members, American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA) and Iberia (IB).

Meanwhile, Delta would be able to get ahead of the new bilateral aviation agreement, subscribed between Mexico and the United States in November 2014, to enter in full force in January 2016; this grants unlimited intra-national market access for Mexican and U.S. carriers, among other commercial rights.

With a long-standing commercial and strategic partnership started in 1994, and founders of the SkyTeam alliance fifteen years ago, Aeromexico and Delta Air Lines are currently offering more than 4,000 code-shared flights a week, representing more than 80 daily trans-border round-trip flights. Needless to say, the joint venture offers excellent future prospects for growth in both business and traffic in one of the most competed and fast-growing markets in Latin America.

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The “Cactus” Call Sign Retires as American Receives SOC

By Airways News Staff / Published April 7, 2015

LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, April 9, 2015 at 7:00 AM ET

American and US Airways received their Single Operating Certificate from the FAA Wednesday morning, and the “Cactus” call sign officially become part of the history books when “Cactus 774″ lands Wednesday morning.

1 American Airlines Day of SOC Bular

Capt. Ed Bular, senior vice president takes the final day off the countdown calendar. Photo courtesy of American Airlines.

For the most part, it was business as usual, but ATC and flight crews changed their call signs and announcements to reflect that US Airways is now American.

Many customers who flew on the final day that “Cactus” was heard over ATC said that several US Airways flight crews took a moment to reflect on the significant change that would take place overnight.

The last scheduled US Airways flight to use the “Cactus” call sign was  “Cactus 774″ which arrived in Philadelphia from London Heathrow around 11:15 AM ET, Wednesday, April 8.

A Single Operating Certificate–also known as a SOC–is a document issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the regulatory process of combining the two subsidiary air carrier certificates under one certificate has been completed. In this particular case, this means that the American and US Airways certificates will officially be combined in the eyes of the FAA, but the merger process is still a bit far from being completed.

3 American SOC group photo

Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO, Scott Kirby, President, John Duncan, Director of Flight Standards, FAA, Capt. Ed Bular, Senior Vice President Integration Operations Robert Isom, Chief Operating Officer // Photo courtesy of American Airlines

It’s taken a little over a year and a team of more than 700 to help train more than 110,000 employees, vet and publish more than 115,000 pages on policies and procedures, complete more than 1,700 Safety Risk Assessments (SRAs), and review 465 manuals. And guess what? Everything was completed on schedule, and the airline is not behind at all.

“Achieving a single operating certificate is an important step toward becoming a fully integrated airline and the effort to reach today’s milestone touched nearly every area of our company,” said Robert Isom, American’s Chief Operating Officer. “For a project of this scope, many entities and people must come together and see it through to completion, but one person must ultimately oversee it in its entirety. With that, our appreciation for the leadership of Captain and Senior Vice President, Integration Operations Ed Bular, who oversaw this massive project, along with the CAVOK Group under the leadership of Vice President Jim Ballough, cannot be overstated. Likewise, our frontline employees and the union leaders who represent them are to be enthusiastically applauded for their role in learning and implementing new policies and procedures and adhering to those as we move forward under one certificate.  

2 American Airlines SOC Isom

Robert Isom, COO shows off the Single Operating Certificate Photo courtesy of American Airlines

“The FAA’s Joint Transition Team, led by Skip Whitrock, helped guide us through a rigorous process designed to ensure that our airline is built on a solid foundation of regulatory compliance. We are extremely appreciative of the valuable direction that Skip, Division Managers Nick Reyes and Larry Fieldsand all at the FAA have provided us over the past year.

“Lastly, as a global airline, this work spanned many regions. We thank the Department of Transportation and regulatory authorities in more than 50 countries who worked alongside us to ensure this critical project remained on track.”

Now, US Airways pilots will begin communicating with air traffic control with the “American” acall sign. The “Cactus” call sign became US Airways’ when it was acquired by America West when the two received their SOC in October 2008. Also, US Airways safety cards will be going away and be replaced with new American ones before morning.

American and US Airways customers will continue to shop for flights, check flight status, and obtain seat assignments on each carrier’s respective website until the company migrates to a single passenger service system which is expected to occur during the fourth quarter of this year.

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Cover photo courtesy of American Airlines.

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