On Friday, an Indonesian volcano–Sangeang Api–sent plumes of ash as high as 65,000 feet. The ash quickly began drifting southeastward toward the Northern Territories of Australia. Darwin Airport was shut down and airlines Virgin Australia and JetStar canceled a number of flights that could have brought aircraft within the vicinity of those clouds. Authorities expect the ash to dissipate this week as it moves further east, although the volcano is still erupting.
New relationships are changing the Asia Pacific’s airline landscape as it enters a new stage of maturity with once-fierce opponents forming partnerships for reciprocal gains. Overcapacity in fleet numbers has fueled competition and compelled budget carriers to look at cooperation initiatives despite the budget airline industry’s penchant to avoid complexity.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways has decided to place a firm order for another 11 Boeing 787-9s, scheduled for delivery from Japanese Fiscal Year 2018 to FY2021. The order, worth $3.25 billion at list prices, raises ANA’s firm order count to the larger of the two Dreamliner types on offer to 30. The 787 launch customer has so far taken delivery of thirteen 787-8s and awaits delivery of 23 more.
Qantas Airways’ August 23 cancellation of “firm commitments” covering 35 Boeing 787-9s previously slated for delivery beginning in 2014 demonstrates the need for an airframer to remain flexible in the face of changing industry demand. The sudden change, prompted by after-tax losses in the current financial year, also demonstrates the continued vulnerability of the airline sector to rising costs and uncertain demand.
Most aviators probably can’t imagine the need for a regulation warning about texting while flying. After all, sterile-cockpit rules restrict unnecessary chatter for professional flight crews below 10,000 feet. But who would have thought that a captain might be so busy with his cell phone on final approach that he’d miss the landing-gear call?
Three weeks of fruitless negotiations between Qantas and three of its employee unions have forced the government’s workplace labor tribunal to arbitrate new labor agreements. The Australian flag carrier has warned that the dispute could result in a dip in its profits for the last six months of 2011 of up to 66 percent.
Qantas Airways resumed revenue flights today after abruptly shutting down operations on Saturday in an effort to squelch labor unrest among its various work groups. The first flight took off from Sydney to Jakarta at around 3:40 p.m. Sydney time, shortly after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia issued its authorization on Monday afternoon. The flight stoppage disrupted the travel plans of close to 80,000 Qantas customers.
Qantas and Airbus have converted a tentative commitment signed in August to firm orders for 78 A320neos and 32 standard A320s, the European manufacturer announced today. The deal for 110 A320-family aircraft ranks as the largest single order in Australian aviation history in terms of units, said Airbus.
Developments planned by Australia’s Qantas Airways and American Airlines demonstrate membership benefits for global alliance partners seeking to rationalize operations while improving competitiveness. The operators belong to Oneworld, whose members include British Airways (BA), Chile’s LAN, Iberia, and Japan Airlines (JAL), with Malaysia Airlines waiting in the wings.
A five-year Qantas Airways plan to reduce dependence on domestic flights and business services and establish two Asian joint-venture partnerships aims to help the Australian carrier to stimulate overseas business. It will lay off 1,000 employees, defer deliveries of six Airbus A380s (and possibly some Boeing 787s), retire four Boeing 747-400s and replace two London services with British Airways code-shares beyond Bangkok and Hong Kong.
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