Short-haul operators in Europe have been seeing almost no growth in passenger numbers and have struggled to reduce capacity to offset lower traffic as the global economic downturn has turned to recession. After a disappointing 2008 that saw load factors fall, European Regions Airline Association (ERA) members now suffer “a considerable worsening” in demand.
European Regions Airline Association
Guernsey, UK-based regional carrier Aurigny Air Services last month took delivery of its first new ATR 72-500 in accordance with a firm contract it signed for a pair of the Franco-Italian turboprops in the summer of 2007. Configured with 72 seats and equipped with ATR’s “Elegance” cabin, the pair of new ATRs will replace two of Aurigny’s three aging ATR 72-200s.
The ATR 72-500 was approved to start operations at London City Airport in early February and has entered service with Irish regional airline Aer Arann on its route to the Isle of Man. The UK approval process requires a series of test flights to establish that the aircraft and operator can cope with the downtown airport’s 5.5-deg approach and its 3,900-foot runway, while also meeting strict noise limits.
A regional labor court in Brazil has forced Embraer to suspend its plan to cut 20 percent of its 21,000-strong workforce after it agreed to hear a collective lawsuit filed by the company’s unions. Any further layoffs will now have to wait at least until the unions and management enter a process of court-administered mediation, scheduled for next Thursday.
ATR took in record revenues of $1.3 billion in 2008 and says that despite the financial crisis it will top that figure this year. John Moore, the company’s senior vice president commercial, told AIN that when Toulouse, France-based ATR made predictions at the beginning of last year, the 2009 market conditions were “not expected by anybody.”
The crash of a Régional Fokker 100 shortly after takeoff from Pau, southwest France, in January 2007 was caused by undetected ground ice and excessive rotation on liftoff, according to the French air accident investigation board. The accident killed one driver on the road the aircraft traversed.
The 2008-09 European regional airline of the year is Aegean Airlines of Greece, which has won the award for the second time. COO Antonis Simigdalas (second from left) insisted that his senior management team be present at last month’s European Regions Airline Association general assembly in Manchester (UK) to accept the award. Ireland’s CityJet and Norwegian operator Widerøe placed second and third, respectively.
ATR turboprop aircraft maintenance is being developed in Finland as a result of
a joint venture by Finnair and Finncomm Airlines. The company, Finnish Aircraft Maintenance, will be located in the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport area, with operations slated to begin by year-end.
Air France subsidiary Régional last month took delivery and placed into service the first of nine 76-seat Embraer E170s on firm order. Also flying six Embraer E190s, 28 ERJ 145s, nine ERJ 135s and five Brasilia turboprops, the French airline stands as Europe’s largest Embraer operator. It also flies nine Fokker 100s and five Fokker 70s and serves 20 domestic and 26 intra-European destinations.
UK regional airline Eastern Airways is “exactly on track, or slightly ahead” of projections for this year, according to COO Chris Holliday. Although he attributes continued profitability to tight financial controls, Eastern has “always been extremely focused on costs,” he said.