Air France new Boeing 777-300ER marks 200th airliner received from Boeing.

full throttle take off for 777-300ER 'Heavy"

Air France took delivery of its 200th Boeing aircraft on Wednesday December 8th, 2010 at Everett, Washington. The new aircraft, Boeing 777-300 ER is joining a fleet that has already operated several Boeing jetliner model beginning with the 707 back in 1959. Throughout its very successful relationship with Boeing Air France continuously committed to Boeing for operating the most significant portion of its long haul service. The 707 was followed by the adoption of the Boeing 747-100 in 1970 and followed on to the -200, -300 and -400 series (with 12 still operational), along with Boeing models 727, 737 and 767. This latest delivery of a 777 complements an already significant number of Boeing 777 aircraft operating for the airline with a current total of 61 (with 11 additional deliveries to 2015).

The new plane introduces new business class service.

In line with Air France-KLM new re-branding effort initiated earlier this year, this latest addition to the Air France fleet inaugurates new business class service in its long haul 777 proposition. The new business class product sports a lie-flat seat with 15 inch In Flight Entertainment System screen. This new business class product is configured to accommodate 42 passengers out of the 383 available seats. The airline will deploy the new aircraft for service in Montreal (CANADA) starting January 15th 2011, and also is making plans to introduce it on the Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) service later that year.

On April 10th the airline made history by inaugurating its new fleet livery. Marking the occasion was the delivery of the 777th Boeing 777 at Everett, Washington. The Boeing 777 has been the backbone of Air France long haul fleet. The airline had already been the launch customer for the 777-300 ER in 2000 and the 777 Freighter model in 2005. Taking the delivery of the 777th Boeing 777 out of the assembly line , Air France chose to introduce a new more sober theme for its new livery as part of its new corporate brand identity.

The 777 program continues strongly as the twin-engine long haul aircraft dominates long range travel. Total orders for the program has passed the bar of 1,100 aircraft and the recent introduction of a freighter model promises tremendous gains for operators in operational efficiency.

Cuban ATR-72 crash kills 68.

ATR-72 belonging to Air Dolomiti

(Picture insert shows an ATR-72 belonging to Air Dolomiti similar to the AeroCaribean flight 883 that crashed Thursday evening in Cuba killing all 68 on board)

Difficult times for general aviation. An ATR-72 belonging to AeroCaribean crashed late Thursday in Cuba killing all 68 passengers on board.AP reported that flight  883 is a twice weekly Port-au-Prince (Haiti)-Santiago-de-Cuba-Havana that had left Santiago-de-Cuba and was expected in Havana at 7:50 pm. The report indicates that the pilot’s last radio contact at 5:42 pm was declaring an emergency but no subsequent message was issued by the crew. the plane did crash  in a rural area 350 kilometers east of Havana and Cuban Civil Aviation officially confirmed the tragic death of 7 crew and 61 passengers including 28 foreigners.

The ATR-72 is built by the Franco-Italian plane manufacturer Avion de Transport Regional. The ATR-72 is a twin-turboprop regional short haul airliner with an existing cargo variant.The passenger version carries up to 78 passengers, but the -72 is derived from the similar looking shorter ATR-42 which can carry up to 50 passengers.AeroCaribean operated 5 ATR-72s, out of a total production list of around 950 delivered (including -42).

This is the deadliest crash involving an ATR-72 since the  crash of an American Eagle Airlines ATR-72 in Roselawn, Indiana on October 31st,1994.It is believed that the American Eagle Airlines plane became uncontrollable after ice built-up on the wings and crashed in a field also killing all 68 on board.

Qantas Airbus 380 in-flight emergency.

A Sydney bound Airbus 380 flight QF32 originating in London was forced to return to Singapore  Changi International Airport after experiencing troubles with engine number 2 just 15 minutes after having taken off from Changi International Airport. The brand new Airbus 380   delivered on  and carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew started to experience what passengers described as a sort of explosion emanating from under the left wing. Early reports have indicated that the aircraft had lost an engine cover. In facts residents of the Indonesian island of Batam whom the aircraft had overflown were gathering several pieces of debris lost from the aircraft showing Qantas logo. In preparation to the emergency landing at Changi international, it took up to two hours for the crew to complete the dumping of fuel procedure. The aircraft landed safely at Changi, however damages were visible on the aft of the number 2 engine’s nacelle. Darkened parts of the underbelly nearby also indicated some type of a fire.

The incident was taken very seriously by Qantas management. The airline immediately ordered the grounding of the entire A380 fleet ( 6 aircraft) pending full incident report regarding QF32. Other A380 operators ; Air France and Lufthansa announced that they would conduct A380 flights as planned. The world largest has had somewhat of difficult entry into service after the program ran into delays. To date 37 aircraft have been delivered and flying with 5 airlines from a total order book of 234. Although minor incidents have sporadically surface in the press since 2007, the giant aircraft had steadily began to influence air travel particularly on the high density kangaroo  routes where a fierce competition is raging with Singapore Airlines and its 11-strong A380 fleet.

Airlines Financial Performance Outlook After April Disruptions.

Cursory review of Airlines earning potential following last week disruptions

IATA estimates show the depth of the catastrophe as losses total upwards of $ 1.7 Billion for Airlines alone.

North American Airlines in the previous cycles had confronted inherent structural costs deficiencies by entering Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code. This least desirable alternative (out of 146 airlines seeking Ch11 bankruptcy restructuring sine 1978 deregulation only 16 had emerged) allowed airlines with depleted cash balances to renegotiate under court supervision most of its fixed obligations. High cost of labor that legacy North American airlines had inherited from various Collective Bargaining Agreement, various structured retirement pensions funds, long-term debt, capital, operating leases etc…were first in line.

Very sizable obligations were floating in the previous cycle; the underfunded employees retirement plans to the order of $10.4 Billion covering the period 2004 to 2008, and general obligations estimated roughly at $ 15 Billion for 2005 & 2006, $ 17 Billion for 2007, $ 13 Billion in 2008.

the net result for bankruptcy reorganization in reducing overall structural cost has been improving the share of operating cost attributed to labor for the periods 2001-2008 from 36.2% to 21.5% while in Europe the share fell from 27,2% to 24.8% fro the same period.

Fuel Issues.

Fuel costs issues for airlines has remained correlated to escalating crude oil prices during the previous cycles.So-called refinery margin which accounts for some of the premium on jet fuel cost compared to crude oil cost airlines $ 34.5 Billion in 2008.

And by far Jet fuel has comprised the single most costly part of airlines operational cost. In 2008 jet fuel represented 32.3% of airlines total operating cost (from a survey of 45 major airlines).This number was up from 27,4 % in 2007.In comparison this figure was 12-13% from 2001 to 2003.

In 2003 the average jet fuel price was $ 34.7 per barrel. By 2008 it had shot up to $ 126.7.

Current prospects have seen refinery capacity improvement that let analysts forecast a end of the year rate of $ 94 per barrel.Q1 average was $86 with a surge to $ 89 for March.

The extensive use of dynamic fuel hedging strategy as insurance against fuel price surges has also permitted airlines to had to their bottom on the use of more sophisticated trading instruments. Although this approach has clearly shown adding value to airlines balance sheet, the opposite has also held true.

Malaysia Airlines and Cathay pacific have revealed profit on hedging operations even in situations where core airlines operations were generating losses. One carriers conversely has reported as much as $ 390 million losses on hedging.


February traffic figures has indicated that load factor were excellent (breaking a record).This tendency has confirmed return of aircraft from storage and accelerated delivery of newer planes (100 new planes in US for January and February).The 2% increase in passenger aircraft and 4% in freighter is still relatively modest and indicate airlines being cautious in adding capacity as not to disrupt yield.

Industry On Edge After Oil Rig Sinks

Fears of a major environmental disaster 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the gulf of Mexico heightened on Thusrday evening after an oil rig that had exploded the day before sank

The events

US Coast Guard District Eight command center New Orleans , La. first received report of an explosion and fire aboard a mobile offshore drilling unit located about 42 miles south of Venice off the Louisiana coast in the gulf of Mexico at about 10 pm central time on Tuesday April 20th, 2010.

Various Coast Guard units responded to the emergency with some of the following resources:

From Station New Orleans:

  • Two HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopters and crews

From Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala.:

  • One HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter and crew
  • One HH-60 rescue helicopter and crew
  • One HC-144 Ocean Sentry rescue plane and crew

The following  cutters may also have been involved from an early stage: Pompano, Zephyr,  Razorbill, Pelican, and Cobia.

The  semi submersible drilling rig deep water Horizon

The company owning the Horizon rig Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN)

is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor and the largest operator of mobile offshore drilling units with a fleet of roughly 140 units.Transocean was operating Horizon on behalf of BP PLC. preliminary rescue efforts coordinated between the Coast Guard , Transocean emergency and Family Response Team and BP Exploration and Production Inc., established that the rig  located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252 had been staffed by 126 personnels when a massive explosion followed by a raging fire took place.Were evacuated safely from the rig 115 personnels among whom seventeen were injured, while 11 personnels had been missing.An investigation to determine the cause of the fire was being  initiated by Transocean as various resources were being employed to battle the fire which visibly was engulfed most of the rig.Additional contingencies were being reviewed with the Coast Guard given the presence of very large quantity of hydrocarbon .

BP response to the crisis

BP emergency response provided 32 spill response vessels capable of pumping up to  171,000 barrels per day, supported by an overall storage capacity offshore of close to 300,000 barrels.In addition 4 aircraft were on standby with more than 100,000 gallons of dispersant.A special web site was set to coordinate release of timely information during the crisis.The situation took a turn for the worst on Thusrady morning when the uncontrollable fire caused the rig to sink underwater.

Environment At Risk

The prospect of a major environmental disaster comes at a very difficult time for the industry which had hoped that President Obama would expend drilling in areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast that are very sensitive to environmentalist.We are not able to establish the extent to which the sinking of Horizon  may contribute to more hydrocarbons flowing unimpeded from the well that the rig had opened on the sea bed at 5000 feet below surface.We are monitoring the situation and gathering more technical insight into the matter.

An Industry on Edge

EADS-Airbus to bid for $ 35 billion future air force tanker contract

EADS the parent company of Airbus announced Tuesday that it would participate in the contract competition to produce the next generation aerial refuelling tanker for the US Air Force.The deal is worth $ 35 billion covering some 179 planes that will replace the 1950’s era KC 135 .

In is a surprising turn of event and a bold move EADS is deciding to join the competition without Northrop Grumman with whom a partnership had previously existed.This stunning reversal of situation for EADS is taking the industry by surprise as experts had long surmised that EADS would never be a credible bidder without the support of the American giant Northrop Grumman.And Boeing had been considered as the natural winner for the competition.

From a logistical perspective EADS is still actively pursuing some form of partnership with a major American contractor.The solution KC-45 that EADS is presenting is built from the Airbus 330 and its application as a tanker has already been successfully marketed around the world with the A 330 MRTT program and selected by 4 air forces around the world.

The KC-45 would then be constructed in Mobile, Al where a brand new line would also produce the freighter version of the A 330 for the civilian market.

Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chief Executive Officer made the announcement n April 20th, 2010 taking by surprise industry experts and rival Boeing who had previously lost the competition against EADS in 2008.It wasn’t untill after Boeing protest of the fairness of the competition that the GAO recommended the voiding of the contract and further re re-initiating of the bidding process.GAO had concluded in July of 2008 that “the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of  what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman””.

Evening Transatlantic Flight out Of JFK

Early evening JFK transatlantic departure

Air France 19 7:05 pm

Air france 19A 8:20 pm

Air India 144 Frankfurt 6:20 pm  no info

Air India 160 Mumbai 6:45 pm

Air Malta 2925 Munich 8:10 pm

Air Portugal 104 Lisbon 6:15 pm

British Airways  184 London Heathrow 6:25 pm cancelled

British Airways 188 London Heathrow 8:50 pm

British Airways 7002 Paris Orly delayed 9:05 pm

British Airways 7004 Paris Orly delayed 10:15 pm

British Midland 6108  London LHR 6:40 pm cancelled

British midland 6110 London LHR 8:00 pm cancelled

British Midland 6118 Manchester 10:10 pm cancelled

British Midland 6120 Manchester 7:40 pm cancelled

British Midland 6122 London LHR 7:20 pm cancelled

British Midland 6126 Birmingham 7:05 pm cancelled

British Midland 6136 Edinburgh 8:00 pm cancelled

British Midland 6146 Glasgow 7:40 pm cancelled

BT 5120 Copenhagen 6:39 pm

BT 5124 Stockholm 5:33 pm

Continental 16 Glasgow 7:40 pm cancelled

Continental 20 Manchester 7:40 pm cancelled

Continental 24 Shannon  7:30 pm cancelled

Continental 26 Birmingham 7:05 pm cancelled

Continental 28 London 6:40 pm cancelled

Continental 36 Edinburgh 8:00 pm cancelled

Continental 38 Oslo 8:00 pm

Continental 40 Rome 5:48 pm

Continental 44 Milano 6:40 pm cancelled

Continental 50 Frankfurt 7:30 pm cancelled

Continental 54 Paris CDG 9:30 pm cancelled

Continental 56 Paris CDG 6:45 pm delayed

Continental 60 Brussels 6:45 pm delayed

Continental 62 Madrid 8:40 pm

Continental 64 Lisbon 8:20 pm

Continental 68 Stockholm delayed 8:00 pm

Continental 70 Amsterdam delayed 6:55 pm

Continental 74 Hamburg 5:40 pm cancelled

Continental 76 Bristol 8:55 pm cancelled

Continental 78 Zurich 6:35 pm cancelled

Continental 80 Geneva 5:55 pm

Continental 82 New Delhi 8:30 pm

Continental 90 Tel Aviv 10:50 pm

Continental 94 Belfast 9:25 pm cancelled

Continental 96 Tegel 5:55 pm cancelled

Continental 100 Manchester 10:10 pm cancelled

Continental 106 Munich 5:30 pm cancelled

Continental 110 London 8:00 pm cancelled

Continental 112 London 7:20 pm cancelled

Continental 120 Barcelona 7:20 pm

Continental 122 Copenhagen 5:35 pm cancelled

Continental 126 Dublin 9:55 pm cancelled

Continental 5003 Frankfurt 6:24 pm

Continental 5005 Munich 8:10 pm

Continental 9682 London 9:10 pm

Delta 34 Amsterdam 6:30 pm no info

Delta 8579 Paris 7:05 pm

Emirates 632London 6:40pm cancelled

Ethiopian 1609 Frankfurt 5:50 pm

Jet Airways 227 Brussels 6:35 pm diversion

KLM 6014 Amsterdam 6:30 pm no info

Lufthansa 403 Frankfurt 6:24 pm

Lufthansa 413 Munich 8:10 pm

Lufthansa 6137 Copenhagen 6:39 pm

Lufthansa 6283 Stockholm 5:33 pm

Lufthansa 7602 Frankfurt 7:30 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7604 Hamburg 5:40 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7606 Tegel 5:55 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7608 Munich 5:30 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7614 Milano 6:40 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7616 Rome 5:48 pm

Lufthansa 7626 London 6:40 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7628 London 8:00 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7630 London 7:20 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7634 Manchester 7:40 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7636 Manchester 10:10 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7638 Birmingham 7:05 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7640 Bristol 8:55 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7642 Edinburgh 8:00 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7646 Glasgow 7:40 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7950 Brussels 6:45 pm delayed

Lufthansa 7952 Geneva 6:00 pm

Lufthansa 7954 Zurich 6:35 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7956 Copenhagen 5:35 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7958 Paris 9:30 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7960 Paris 6:45 pm delayed

Lufthansa 7962 Amsterdam 6:55 pm delayed

Lufthansa 7966 Lisbon 8:20 pm

Lufthansa 7968 Barcelona 7:20 pm

Lufthansa 7970 Madrid 8:40 pm

Lufthansa 7974 Belfast 9:25 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7978 Dublin 9:55 pm cancelled

Lufthansa 7980 Shannon 7:30 pm cancelled

Scandinavian 904 Stockholm 5:33 pm

Scandinavian 910 Copenhagen 6:39 pm

Singapore 2502 London 9:10 pm

Swissair 19 Zurich 9:30 pm

United 3245 Amsterdam 6:55 pm delayed

United 3246 Stockholm 8:00 pm delayed

United 3250 Barcelona 7:20 pm

United 3251 Belfast 9:25 pm cancelled

United 3252 Birmingham 7:05 pm cancelled

United 3254 Bristol 8:55 pm cancelled

United 3255 Brussels 6:45 pm delayed

United 3256 Paris 6:45 pm delayed

United 3257 Paris 9:30 pm cancelled

United 3258 Copenhagen 5:35 pm cancelled

United 3259 New Delhi 8:30 pm

United 3261 Dublin 9:55 pm cancelled

United 3262 Edinburgh 8:00 pm cancelled

United 3264 Rome 5:48 pm

United 3266 Frankfurt 7:30 pm cancelled

United 3267 Glasgow 7:40 pm cancelled

United 3269 Geneva 6:00 pm

United 3270 Hamburg 5:40 pm cancelled

United 3273 London 6:40 pm cancelled

United 3274 London 8:00 pm cancelled

United 3276 Lisbon 8:20 pm

United 3277 Madrid 8:40 pm

United 3279 Manchester 7:40 pm cancelled

United 3280 Manchester 10:10 pm cancelled

United 3281 Milano 6:40 pm cancelled

United 3284 Oslo 8:00 pm

United 3291 Shannon 7:30 pm cancelled

United 3294 Tegel 5:55 pm cancelled

United 3296 Zurich 6:35 pm cancelled

United 3410 London 7:20 pm cancelled

United 4019 Munich 5:30 pm cancelled

United 8838 Frankfurt 6:24 pm

United 9254 Munich 8:10 pm

United 9364 Copenhagen 6:39 pm

United 9368 Stockholm 5:33 pm

United 9600 Lisbon 6:32 pm

US Airways Lisbon 6:32 pm

Virgin 2 London 9:10 pm

Virgin 3128 London 6:40 pm cancelled

Update on flights disruptions in Europe

Disruptions in air traffic over Europe remained significant today as ash could from a volcanic eruption in Iceland continued to spread high above most of western Europe skies.The unprecedented crisis in air travel is already seeing upwards of 95,000 flights cancellations since last Thursday.The catastrophe will have serious financial repercussion for the industry which is experiencing something more devastating than the post 9/11 disruptions.The crisis is compounded by the several hundreds of thousand of air travelers who have been stranded.

As of Tuesday, April 21st a day after European transport ministers devised a 3 tiers airspace segmentation to restrict, limit or open air traffic across Europe, Eirocontrol is reporting roughly 13,000 flights out of 28,000.

the situation has relatively improved as most long haul service has been reinstated.Air France has reported 95% of flight taking place.Lufthansa a has flown all of its long haul flights, British Airways is scrambling to bring in up to 28 long haul flights to Heathrow and Gatwick after 1900 local time.Although most of BA long haul inbound flights for the morning of Wednesday April 21st has already being canceled.

Uncertainty remain as various sources speculate larger eruption might still occur in the coming days.

The overall crisis has highlighted chaotic management and lack of unified contingency planning, and the total absenec of alternate means alleviating the humanitarian side at airports across the world.The use of southern Europe airfield as de facto hubs (Athens , Rome), the sending of HMS Albion to ferry troops stranded in Spain have been timid belated steps.