A bankruptcy court judge has approved a deal between Air Wisconsin and US Airways that will see the Appleton, Wis.-based regional take an equity stake in the bankrupt major airline and fly up to 70 regional jets as US Airways Express. The arrangement centers on a $125 million loan from Air Wisconsin’s investment arm, Eastshore Aviation, that will convert to equity after US Airways’ planned emergence from bankruptcy this summer.
The FAA’s Annual Aerospace Forecast always tries to paint the most optimistic picture of the industry that the agency’s statistics will support, and this year proved to be no exception. On the airline side of the house, the agency said that the number of passengers will return to pre-2001 levels this year.
Lufthansa passengers can now book NetJets Europe aircraft to fly them to and from the German flag carrier’s main long-haul hub at Munich. The new Lufthansa Private Jets service, which was set to begin at the start of the summer airline schedule on March 29, will offer passengers fast and direct connections between the Lufthansa airliners and their chartered business jet.
Táxi Aéreo Marília (TAM) plans to transfer nearly all of its maintenance activity from São Paulo Congonhas Airport, Brazil, to the nearby Jundiaí Airport, where the company has already begun building a new hangar. The new facility is scheduled to open in midyear.
The idea of mixing legal weapons with pilots is not new. Aviators of yore often carried firearms–and with good reason. There are more recent incidents that support the practice. In the mid-1960s, an airliner was taken over by a man wielding a gun who shot both pilots. In another incident a disgruntled PSA employee broke into the cockpit of a BAe 146 in 1987 and shot and killed both pilots.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and former airline pilot Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) have re-introduced legislation to increase the mandatory retirement age of Part 121 airline pilots from 60 to 65. The two men believe the current regulation is outdated and changing it would save jobs and retain experienced pilots.
French regional operator Air Littoral’s future is on a knife edge following the failure of Seven Group–potential buyers of the ailing airline–to pay the purchase price to a Montpellier commercial court. The money was originally due on November 15, but the court extended the deadline to December 18. Seven Group president Mario Palmonella said the money had been delayed by formalities at the London Stock Exchange.
Notwithstanding recent complaints of poor operational performance by the nation’s biggest regional airlines, passenger boardings, revenue passenger miles (RPMs), load factors and average trip distance all broke records during last year’s third quarter, according to statistics compiled by Washington, D.C.-based The Velocity Group for the Regional Airline Association.
A new code-share contract with Northwest Airlines (NWA) will allow Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines to keep its fleet of 124 Bombardier CRJs, potentially fly 76-seat jets and enter code-share deals with other major airlines. Under the 10-year deal, Northwest will also assign Pinnacle another 17 CRJ200s and/or CRJ440s by the end of the year.
Big Sky Airlines will fly eight 19-seat Beech 1900Ds from Boston starting early in the year’s second quarter under a new code-share contract the Billings, Mont.-based regional signed with Delta Air Lines in late December.