Virgin Charter, the online charter brokerage launched with great fanfare in mid-2007, ceased operations on October 23. “With the severe decline in corporate travel, Virgin Charter was unable to generate sufficient sales to underpin its business plan,” according to a company statement, “and has taken the difficult decision to close its doors.”
Kuwait-based low-fare carrier Jazeera Airways has selected U.S. avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins (Stand E350) to supply avionics and in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems for 30 Airbus A320s, deliveries of which are set to start in January. The airline already operates 10 Airbus A320s, which are fitted with 165 leather seats in two classes: Jazeera class and Jazeera Plus class.
Lion Air subsidiary Wings Air of Indonesia today announced the signing of a contract for the purchase of 15 ATR 72-500s, as well as options covering another 15 of ATR’s new 72-600 series turboprops. The value of the order, originally revealed in November last year as a memorandum of understanding covering 10 ATR 72-500s plus options for 10 more ATR 72-500/600s, now amounts to some $600 million.
Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways expects to make a profit this year, even though it reported a $7.6 million first-half loss. “We are going to be profitable for the full year,” said chief executive Stefan Pichler, who joined the airline in June from a position as chief commercial officer at Virgin Blue. The low-cost carrier plans to open a second hub in 2010, having dropped routes to Beirut, Delhi, Mumbai, Salalah and Sanaa this year.
Publicly owned Air Arabia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier, operates 16 Airbus A320s, has ordered another 44 and plans to open a third operating hub in Alexandria, Egypt, in early 2010, perhaps at the beginning of the northern summer season in late March.
Continued eastward migration of low-cost carriers (LCCs) from North America and Europe to regions such as the Middle East and Asia arguably has established the credibility of this air transport business model.
Embraer sees Arab operators of its 64- to 114-seat E170/175 and E190/195 regional jets (E-Jets) as providing a good example of what it views as the “right-sizing” of passenger services. By matching capacity to demand such carriers can enhance yield through increased flight frequency rather than continuing possibly marginal operations with larger single-aisle aircraft such as Airbus A320s, Boeing 737-500s and McDonnell Douglas MD-90s.
Republic Airways plans to ground the last of nine remaining Boeing 717s it acquired with its purchase of Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines by November 3 and replace them with Embraer E190s flown by “non-legacy” pilots. At press time Midwest’s ALPA-represented pilots and the Teamsters-represented pilots at Republic failed to reach a deal to merge their seniority lists, leaving the last 68 Midwest pilots out of work.
Online charter broker Virgin Charter stopped “active operations” on Friday according to a company statement.
Boeing has landed a firm order from low-fare carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle for six new 737-800s, the manufacturer confirmed today. Norwegian Air Shuttle now accounts for firm orders for 48 Next-Generation 737s from Boeing and another 22 airplanes from leasing companies.