Club Airways, the members-only service offering business jet flights in Europe, has temporarily scaled back its operations as it scrambles to secure more financial backing. The Geneva-based company encountered a $1.4 million (€1.2 million) funding crisis in September when two of its four shareholders reneged on agreements to make additional investments.
Some 30 operators are now evaluating executive and corporate shuttle versions of the Fokker 100 twinjet (the F100EJ and F100CS, respectively), according to Fokker Services–a subsidiary of the Stork group that bought the assets of the bankrupt Dutch airframer and is marketing the converted airliners at prices ranging from $11 million to $12.5 million. The airplanes are also available for lease through UK-based Aravco.
A U.S. bankruptcy court has approved a new financing deal between US Airways and Embraer, Bombardier and DVB Bank to allow the airline to start taking regional jet deliveries for the first time since it filed for Chapter 11 protection in September last year.
US Airways plans to start taking deliveries of Embraer jets again this November under a new agreement to convert its remaining positions on 57 Embraer 170s to 99-seat Embraer 190s, 23 of which remain subject to reconfirmation by the airline. Still subject to bankruptcy court approval, the deal includes options on another 50 airplanes from the Embraer 170/190 line.
Bombardier last month delivered the first production example of its newest regional jet, the CRJ900, to Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group. Scheduled to fly for the first time under the America West Express livery on April 27 between Phoenix and Los Angeles, the 80-seat jet gives Mesa the largest-capacity aircraft in the U.S. regional airline business.
The U.S. airline industry last month felt the opening tremors of what could become the biggest shakeup in the business since the introduction of the regional jet. On August 15, US Airways announced a plan to fly 50- to 69-seat RJs within its mainline system, using mainline flight crews as part of a far-reaching reorganization effort.
The FAA now doesn’t expect domestic commercial air travel to return to pre-9/11 levels until 2006, and its earlier forecasts that U.S. airlines would be enplaning one billion passengers a year by 2010 have been pushed back to at least 2014.
Forty-eight hours before the Regional Airline Association staged its annual convention at the Phoenix Civic Center from May 18 to 21, the season’s first 100-degree day marked the start of another long, oppressive summer in the Sonoran desert of the American Southwest.
According to the NTSB, faulty maintenance contributed to the crash of an Air Midwest Beech 1900D seconds after taking off from Charlotte, N.C., on January 8, killing all 21 people aboard. At a hearing last month, the Safety Board said that during routine maintenance two days and several flights before the accident, a contract mechanic improperly retensioned control cables, possibly preventing full deflection of the elevator.
Still unable to comprehend the monstrous scale of the September 11 terrorist assault on the U.S., the international air transport industry got a swift taste of the disruption and chronic uncertainty that undoubtedly lie ahead. Business aviation–which some are now saying will become increasingly important as companies look for a safe and convenient alternative to airline travel–faced serious restrictions in the week following the attack.