Air France pilots on September 15 launched a week-long strike, forcing the airline to cancel 52 percent of its flights. The point of contention centers on Air France’s stated plans to shift more capacity to its low-fare Transavia subsidiary, whose pilots work for significantly less pay than those of the main airline.
European Low Fares Airline Association
Boeing finally answered Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s call for a higher-capacity 737 Max 8 with last Monday morning’s official launch of the 737 Max 200 and, in the process, won a commitment for as many as 200 airplanes. The commitment calls for a firm order for 100 airplanes and options for another 100, together worth as much as $22 billion.
Boeing plans to offer a “minor model” of the 737 Max 8 that would increase seating capacity from 189 to 200 seats and cut seat-mile costs by 5 percent.
Revealing the plans during a “roundtable” discussion on Sunday in London, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner told reporters that Ryanair “would be a candidate” for the new version and that the Max 8 would follow to market the second Max model, the 737-9, now scheduled for certification in the third quarter of 2018.
Flybe Finland has agreed to open new routes this summer from Helsinki to the Russian destinations of Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Kazan on behalf of Finnair with Embraer E190s. Service to Nizhny Novgorod International Airport begins on July 25, flights to Samara’s Kurumoch International Airport start on August 7 and operations to Kazan International Airport commence on August 18. Plans call for flights to run three times per week on all three routes.
Low cost carrier Wizz Air is aiming to raise €200 million ($273 million) through an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange next month. The 10-year-old company is seeking to expand its network, which currently consists of around 315 routes between 96 destinations in 35 countries, in order to challenge the continent’s leading budget carriers Ryanair and EasyJet. U.S. private equity group Indigo Partners, which is currently Wizz Air’s leading shareholder, is expected to reduce its equity holding through the share offering.
UK carrier EasyJet said it will apply new technologies, including operating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to maintain its Airbus fleet. The airline is also developing 3D virtual reality and augmented reality technology, customized engineering applications and early fault prognosis. It is installing Panasonic Toughpad tablets in cockpits fleetwide.
Ryanair’s legal team is to challenge an April 17 ruling by an Amsterdam court against an earlier lawsuit filed by the Irish carrier against Dutch TV station KRO. The court found that the KRO documentary “Mayday Mayday” did have sufficient evidence to support its report into alleged low fuel reserves during three different emergency landings by Ryanair aircraft in Valencia, Spain back in July 2012.
Etihad Airways on Tuesday announced its strongest ever passenger and cargo volumes for a first quarter, just as its negotiations for a 49-percent stake in Alitalia regain momentum. The airline, whose bid for a piece of Alitalia marks yet another effort to expand its already considerable global influence, logged $1.4 billion in total revenues during the three-month period, marking a year-on-year increase of 27 percent.
UK regional airline Flybe has raised almost $260 million in fresh capital through a share flotation launched February 20 in London. The company, which has been battling to rebuild its business model with an aggressive program of cost cutting, is issuing a total of up to 141.5 million new shares to raise £155.6 million. The offer price on February 20 was 110p per share, representing a 7.2-percent discount on the stock’s 118.5p mid-market price on February 19.
Exeter, UK-based Flybe plans to slash another 500 jobs as part of a continuing cost-cutting exercise centered on removing excess capacity and improving worker productivity. The announcement follows an earlier round of cuts that saw Flybe shed 590 jobs this year. The company employed some 2,700 people at the end of September.
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