Australia's Government announced (04-Jul-2017) new air services arrangements with Italy, Greece and Cyprus. Carriers will be able to offer new and extended passenger services to Europe, as well as new airfreight service opportunities. Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester stated the new arrangements are part of the Government's plan to expand Australia's aviation footprint in the region. The new arrangements mean carriers of the countries can operate services to Australia either using their own aircraft or via codeshare with other airlines. [more - original PR]
News for Europe/MEA
Air Niugini chairman Frederick Reihe, via the carrier's Jul/Aug-2017 inflight magazine, provided (Jul-2017) updates on three key management focus areas:
- Fleet: Air Niugini has now taken delivery of all nine Fokker 70 (F70) aircraft, acquired from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. They will be fully in service in the coming months when branding, refurbishing and installation of WiFi are completed. The refurbishing includes the installation of customised business class seating. Since the airline began the introduction of the F70 aircraft just over 18 months ago, the "response from passengers has been very positive", with Sir Frederick adding: "The positive response matches our own assessment of the aircraft for fuel efficiency and other key factors that were influential when the management and the board decided to make the introduction of the F70 the key component of the largest fleet upgrading in Air Niugini’s history". The F70 will become the ‘work horse’ of the airline's main domestic services and regional services in the Pacific region;
- Sabre switch: Air Niugini is focusing on is the progressive switch to the Sabre Solutions Passenger Service System (PSS). The changeover will take effect from 01-Oct-2017. Sir Frederick noted: "I am delighted the change is happening very smoothly and will be delivered on schedule. It will also deliver some important cost savings for Air Niugini at a time when we are focusing on reducing costs that don’t compromise safety or service". Air Niugini will conduct an extensive marketing and information campaign highlighting the modern and extended online services we will offer when Sabre is fully implemented;
- Shanghai service: The carrier plans to launch commercial services to Shanghai in Dec-2017 with Sir Frederick stating: "Having successfully introduced regular services to the Federated States of Micronesia, and Townsville in North Queensland, the direct service to China is our next priority. Our team will be seeking to work closely with the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA), the travel industry and business to ensure the introduction of this service is successful". Air Niugini and the TPA will host a series of ‘China Ready’ workshops in the coming months to prepare commercial partners, and other customers, for the new direct services. [more - inflight magazine]
Chorus Aviation announced (29-Jun-2017) subsidaries of Chorus Aviation Capital completed the acquisition of six ATR 72-600 aircraft with attached leases from Avation PLC. The acquisition was completed using a combination of equity capital from Chorus and term debt financing consistent with previously indicated leverage ratios for the Chorus Aviation Capital business. The aggregate purchase price for the aircraft is consistent with current market values for similar aircraft. The acquisition agreements were previously announced on 24-Apr-2017. The acquired aircraft are between one and four years old. Three are currently on lease to Flybe and three are currently on lease to Virgin Australia. [more - original PR]
Qatar Airways awarded (27-Jun-2017) chef George Calombaris an agreement to develop the menu for the new A380 Melbourne-Doha service. The menu will be available to first and business class passengers between 01-Jul-2017 and 30-Sep-2017. [more - original PR]
Australia's International Air Services Commission (IASC) approved (26-Jun-2017) Qantas' request to increase passenger capacity via Determination  IASC 112 allocating to Qantas 100 seats per week in each direction on the Indonesia route. The capacity may be used by Jetstar Airways to provide services jointly with Emirates. The determination is valid for five years from 26-Jun-2017. [more - original PR]
Jetstar Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka warned (23-Jun-2017) of both a lack of and the impact of overpriced infrastructure throughout Australia. Ms Hrdlicka stated: "Australia needs quality and affordable tourism infrastructure like hotels, attractions or we risk falling behind. We cannot just rely on our natural attractions to help us win over the next 20 years. The second airport in Sydney is a real positive and we think they could look at Melbourne’s second airport at Avalon for some inspiration. It’s important that the new airport is purpose built and not gold plated as it is likely to be catering for low fares airlines in its first 10 years of operation, much like how Stansted and Luton airports cater for London’s low fares flights and Heathrow focuses on the full service airlines. We also have continued to see airport fees and charges increase while airlines are offering fares at levels significantly cheaper than they were over a decade ago". [more - original PR]
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, speaking at the 2017 Paris Air Show, commented on the potential resumption of Adelaide service by AirAsia X, stating: "We had it, we pulled out of it, but at that time were were a different airline. Now I think we are in much better shape, so I hope we can do it in the not too distant future" (AAP, 21-Jun-2017). Mr Fernandes aims to create connectivity to "smaller destinations in Australia" such as Broome. Mr Fernandes added: "I think it is much more important to go to Adelaide than London right now. There are places begging for more connectivity, and South Australia is one of them".
Western Australia (WA) Government plans to evaluate the cause of high airfares on regional routes in WA and offer recommendations to improve the situation (The West Australian, 20-Jun-2017). Broome Airport CEO Paul McSweeney said the main reason is low traffic volume on these regional routes and Broome Airport retains competitive aeronautical fees despite the "high operating costs in this region".
Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said he believes Emirates' suspension of A380 Sydney-Auckland service from 13-Jul-2017 was not surprising and a clear response to a fall in demand (NZ Herald, 18-Jun-2017). Mr Luxon agreed that once nonstop Auckland-Dubai service was introduced for those transiting through to Europe, customers were moving to that and demand for Auckland-Sydney reduced considerably.
Aircalin advised it has until the end of Jul-2017 to validate a transaction with Airbus to purchase two A320s and two new generation A330 long haul aircraft (France Info, 14-Jun-2017). The fleet renewal is estimated to require XFP41.5 billion (USD0.4 billion) and was originally to be confirmed by 30-Jun-2017. Airbus has extended the deadline to 31-Jul-2017 to assist Aircalin complete negotiations.