With many of Europe’s regional airlines feeling unloved and forgotten by the central powers, ERA director general Simon McNamara has spent much of his first year visiting as many airline members as possible to understand how they tick, and what challenges they face. “We’ve put a lot more focus on the membership,” he told AIN. “And we are trying harder to let our members know what we’re doing and why.”
News and issues relating specifically to regional airlines, including aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training; and coverage of annual conventions of the U.S. Regional Airline Association (RAA) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA).
The debt crisis in Italy has certainly taken its toll on a wide cross section of the country’s economy, and Verona-based regional airline Air Dolomiti hasn’t enjoyed special immunity from the effects. What CEO Michael Kraus called a brilliant period of expansion from 2005 to 2010 has not only ended, but passenger counts have actually fallen over the past two years in the Italian air transport market.
While the Regional Airline Association and regional airline management point to new rules governing flight time experience for first officers as the primary reason for a pilot shortage that has resulted in a loss of service to several U.S. communities, pilots contend the airlines have made their own mess by creating a business model predicated on breadline wages for cockpit crew. The Air Line Pilots Association, for one, argues that there’s no shortage of pilots, only a shortage of pilots willing to fly for substandard wages and inadequate benefits.
Horizon Air plans to start serving communities in Alaska on March 3 with its latest tranche of Bombardier Q400s. The airline intends to use three Q400s, including the 51st in its fleet, to connect Anchorage with Fairbanks and Kodiak. Bombardier and Horizon Air celebrated delivery of the airline’s 51st Q400 during a ceremony in late January in Portland, Ore., where Horizon employees gathered with airline CEO Glenn Johnson and a delegation of manufacturer representatives from Canada. The aircraft bears a special “people-powered” livery that includes the signatures of Horizon Air employees.
Bombardier appeared to backtrack on comments in the Russian press by CEO Pierre Beaudoin indicating that the country’s annexation of Crimea could threaten the Canadian company’s planned joint venture with Russian conglomerate Rostec. On Monday a Bombardier Aerospace spokesman told AIN that the Canadian company remained “fully committed” to plans for a Q400 turboprop factory in a special economic zone in the Ulyanovsk region, and that the comments by Beaudoin didn’t refer specifically to the agreement with Rostec.
Five-month-old Indian regional airline Air Costa plans to start international operations once India lifts its rule that limits new carriers to domestic services during their first five years of operation. Ahead of that revision, the carrier, which ordered a mix of 50 Embraer E190-E2s and E195-E2s at the Singapore Air Show in February, has applied for a national permit to fly pan-India, Vivek Choudhary, chief commercial officer and vice president of corporate finance of parent company LEPL Projects, told AIN.
The Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan plans to launch a domestic airline, Air Kazakhstan, in early 2015 with a fleet of 10 new Bombardier Q400 twin turboprops.
Mesa Airlines moved to position itself to add 30 new Embraer E175s over the next year into United Express service with some key management changes announced in late January.
Following its first full year of independent operations, the UK’s BMI Regional reported a so-called trading update and 2014 outlook in late January, under which it announced the launch of new intra-Scandinavia services involving several new destinations, a doubling of capacity on its Aberdeen-Oslo route and this month’s launch of Newcastle-Brussels service.
Sellers and lessors placed 23 Fokker aircraft with 12 existing and three new Fokker operators last year, Fokker Services announced in late January. The total comprises 12 Fokker 50s and 11 Fokker 100s. The company said that because various Fokker operators have chosen to retain their fleets longer than anticipated, the number of available aircraft did not grow as expected during the year, leading to fewer placements than in the previous two years.