British Airways transferred its maintenance base to Wales’ Cardiff International Airport more than a decade ago when costs got too high at its London Heathrow headquarters. Another factor in that decision was the lack of space at Heathrow to deal with the carrier’s growing widebody fleet of Boeing 747s and, more recently, 777s.
General Electric Aircraft Engine Services’ facility at Nantgarw in south Wales is preparing to overhaul and repair the Engine Alliance’s GP7200 powerplant for the Airbus A380 super-large airliner. The program is part of a $10 million budget that will support infrastructure for the new engine over the next three to five years.
For many of the world’s airlines, the long and tiresome road to recovery has taken them through dips and valleys, hairpin bends and in some cases complete U-turns. Today, after seemingly negotiating much of the most difficult terrain, European airlines have caught a glimpse of the promised land over the horizon. So why, you ask, have the biggest airlines in the U.S.
Exeter, UK-based Flybe has agreed to buy most of British Airways’ BA Connect subsidiary. In return, BA will take a 15-percent stake in Flybe, which plans to retire all the BA Connect airplanes now in the British Airways stable and replace them with Bombardier Q400s and Embraer E195s. British Airways CEO Willie Walsh told reporters he expected to conclude the deal by year-end.
Saudi Arabia’s new low-cost carrier Sama last month became the latest operator to sign up for one of the integrated airline solutions (IAS) contracts offered by SR Technics (Hall 4 Stand B8). The five-year, $121 million deal will see the maintenance, repair and overhaul group provide full technical support for Sama’s fleet of Boeing 737-300s, including engineering and technical services, component support and logistics management.
If Concorde were the child of quarrelsome adults, the tabloids might label this a “tug of love,” but by whatever name it goes, British Airways seems to end up cast as the villain. When BA announced it would retire the supersonic transport in October 2003, Virgin Atlantic proprietor Sir Richard Branson seized the opportunity to embarrass his archrival by offering to buy and continue operating the aircraft.
Record numbers of orders last year indicated a short supply of available aircraft as the world’s airlines began to recover from the global recession of the early 2000s. This was good news for those with used aircraft on their hands–at least until most demand had been met, at which point placing remaining capacity became a challenge.
Throughout the world established airlines struggle to compete against start-up operators employing bare-bones business models or serving niche business markets. Trends in the UK illustrate the problems–and the opportunities–the situation presents British Airways and the likes of lean, young regionals such as Air Southwest and Eastern Airways.
I have been following some of the discussion about the February flight of a British Airways 747-400 from Los Angeles to London after one of the airplane’s engines failed on takeoff. In addition to statements from the FAA, much has been written about this event, both in the aviation press and on the Internet, particularly among pilots and the academic community.
South Africa’s National Airways is opening a new maintenance operation for business jets at Johannesburg Lanseria Airport. The Jet Centre facility officially opened on October 1 and it will primarily support Raytheon’s entire jet line, including current-production types and the full spectrum of British Aerospace HS.125s. National Airways claims it will offer a level of service previously available only in Europe and North America.