US senators accuse Gulf carriers of flying non-viable US routes
Six US senators have written a letter to the US Secretaries of State and Transportation, encouraging them to take “firm action” against alleged large government subsidies that allow Gulf airlines to fly routes to the US they say would not be viable without government assistance.
The senators – three Democrats and three Republicans – wrote that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have saturated Gulf-US routes with overcapacity “facilitated by the subsidies” from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, making flights on the routes “commercially nonviable for unsubsidised [US] carriers.”
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American Airlines confirms $200 million investment in China Southern
American Airlines confirmed it has agreed to make a $200 million equity investment in China Southern Airlines, and the two airlines will enter into a long-term partnership.
Guangzhou-based carrier China Southern had confirmed March 27 in a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it would be selling a 2.7 percent stake to Dallas/Fort Worth-based American.
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Delta, Korean Air agree to launch Trans-Pacific Joint Venture
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Seoul-based Korean Air have signed a memorandum of understanding to form an antitrust-immunized Trans-Pacific joint venture (JV).
The SkyTeam members intend “to create a fully integrated Trans-Pacific joint venture arrangement, with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues on flights and coordinating schedules for seamless, convenient connections,” the two companies said in a joint statement.
The carriers’ combined network reaches 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia.
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UAE airlines make technology available for passengers on US-bound flights
The three major Gulf airlines are trying to find work-around solutions to the large carry-on electronics ban imposed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on nonstop flights to the US from 10 airports, including Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways planned to make iPads available for first- and business-class passengers to use on US-bound flights from last month.
The move by Etihad works around the US government’s prohibition on passengers carrying on electronic devices larger than smartphones.
Passengers will not be charged for the use of the iPads during flights to the US. In addition, Etihad is providing first- and business-class passengers with vouchers for free Wi-Fi for the duration of US-bound flights.
Dubai-based Emirates is offering passengers on US-bound nonstop flights from Dubai a special handling service in which passengers can keep their large electronic devices until boarding and receive the devices back upon reaching their destination.
Meanwhile Qatar Airways will offer business-class passengers complimentary laptop computers to use on US-bound flights.
The UK also has a ban on large carry-on electronic devices for flights from six countries.
In a bulletin that seems to directly question the wisdom of the new US and UK bans on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage, Europe’s aviation safety authority has warned that such devices are “dangerous goods” in the cargo hold.
The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) April 5 bulletin does not directly mention new US and UK security rules iintroduced in March, banning passengers from carrying onboard electronic items larger than smartphones because of fears they may contain explosives. But the EASA directive is clearly meant to raise awareness of what it sees as a heightened fire risk to airliners.
Read more: Here, here and also here.
Australia starts extra screening process for UAE and Qatar flights
Meanwhile, Australia is requiring extra screening measures at boarding gates of flights to Australia from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha airports, but is not banning passengers from carrying onboard their electronic devices.
Passengers on direct flights to Australia from the two United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Qatar airports are now subject to random explosive detection screening before they board. Checks may also include targeted screening of electronic devices, Australia’s federal minister for infrastructure and transport, Darren Chester, said.
Australia’s measures affect Qantas; Etihad Airways, which codeshares with Virgin Australia; Emirates Airline, a Qantas partner; and Qatar Airways on flights from the UAE or Qatar.
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Airbus A319neo concludes maiden flight
The first Airbus A319neo performed its maiden flight on March 31, Airbus announced in a statement.
The smallest member of the A320neo family, powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines, took off from Hamburg and landed in Toulouse after a five-hour flight.
The flight crew was able to assess the general handling of the aircraft and check the main systems, Airbus said. The A319neo, registered as D-AVWA, will be based in Toulouse in order to complete its flight test program.
Airbus said the aircraft offers its operators “superior short field performance in hot and high conditions.”
It can accommodate up to 160 passengers.
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US FAA holds Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2017 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium opened on March 27.
During the first two days of the conference, the FAA focused on its efforts to work with UAS industry stakeholders to facilitate the integration of UAS into the national airspace system (NAS). In particular, the FAA has focused on three main issues: (1) the promulgation of performance-based standards to accommodate future operations as UAS technology evolves; (2) the implementation of a technology-based solution to facilitate compliance with FAA regulations and thus operation of UAS and further innovation; and (3) continued integration, as opposed to segregation, of various UAS into the NAS.
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Pilots in demand as retirements grow, fleets expand
By 2035, hundreds of thousands of new commercial airline pilots will be needed to fly the new aircraft deliveries and fleet mixes that are forecast worldwide.
Airbus estimates the need will be for 560,000 pilots, while Boeing pegs it at 617,000.
Whether it falls at the lower or higher end of predictions, the consequence is a surge in demand for pilot training.
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Two new European initiatives aim to improve aviation cybersecurity
Airbus CyberSecurity, a unit of Airbus Defense and Space, has joined forces with French aviation technology specialists SITA to launch a cybersecurity initiative targeted at the air transport industry.
The new incident-detection Security Operations Center Services have been customised to alert airlines, airports, and other stakeholders about unusual cyber activity that could impact their businesses. The technology has been configured to meet the unique and specific needs of the air transport industry.
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British Airways introduces biometric boarding gates
British Airways (BA) is introducing automated biometric technology to create self-service boarding gates at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Passengers passing through the security channel will have a digital scan of their face recorded. When they arrive at the gate and scan their own boarding pass, their face is matched with the previously recorded data. If the two digital images match, the passenger is allowed to board.
The airline said the system, which was trialled mid-2016, is now being rolled out. The first three boarding gates for UK domestic flights at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 are now fitted with the necessary equipment.
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