US Air Force deploys stealth fighters to the UAE

 The US Air Force has deployed F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters to the Middle East for the first time.

The jets arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi in April and are ready to be sent on missions across the region.

The aircraft, which cost about $90 million (Dh330m) each, are undetectable by radar. The F-35s are equipped with advanced weapons systems, which mean they do not have to be pointing at its target. They also have the capability to launch electronic warfare attacks on enemies.

Advanced sensors allow the jets to “gather and distribute more information than any fighter in history”, according to its manufacturer.

Crews have been prepared and trained for deployment in the area covered by US Central Command, which covers 20 nations, from northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia, the US Air Force said.

The deployment represents a “natural evolution of increased US capability and firepower in the Gulf region”, said Danny Sebright, President of the US-UAE Business Council.

“This deployment means US forces are better positioned to carry out more nimble, precise and lethal missions at greater distances,” he said.

“Hopefully, the deployment to Al Dhafra in the UAE, a steadfast and reliable US coalition partner, also means that the US is making progress in its deliberations to eventually releasing the technology to our closest Arab partners.”

The total number of F-35As sent to the UAE from their base in Utah is being kept confidential for security reasons.

A variant of the F-35, the F-35B, has previously been deployed in the region, with aircraft under the control of the US Marine Corps carrying out the first American F-35 air strike in Afghanistan in September last year. The aircraft would go on to fly more than 100 combat sorties against ISIS and Taliban targets.

However, it is the first time US Air Force F-35As have been sent to the region. Previously, they have been deployed to the UK and Japan.

“We are adding a cutting-edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition,” said Lt Gen Joseph T Guastella, US Air Forces Central Command commander.

“The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theatre and deter aggressors.

“We look forward to demonstrating the full range of the F-35A’s capabilities while it increases the interoperability of our forces throughout the region.”

The F-35s have been designed for multi-purpose use. They are able to fly surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as launching air-to-ground and air-to-air attacks.

The development of the aircraft by arms company Lockheed Martin has at times proved controversial due to the cost of the program and questions about effectiveness. Although the first flights were in 2006, it only became fully operational in 2015.

The US has 200 F-35s and hundreds more on order. Other nations that have bought, or plan to buy, the F-35 include Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Turkey, Italy, the UK and Israel.


Korean Air resumes flights to Seoul

Korean Air, the largest airline of South Korea, recently resumed scheduled service between St. Petersburg (Russia) and Seoul. In the IATA Summer Season 2019, the carrier operates flights between Incheon International Airport and Pulkovo International Airport with the frequency up to five times a week. The service will be provided until October 24, 2019.

In 2019, Korean Air celebrates its 50th anniversary. To congratulate the airline on this significant event Pulkovo Airport welcomed the aircraft from Seoul with a festive water arch on the ramp. Sweets and presents from the airport and airline awaited passengers of the inaugural flight in the check-in hall of Pulkovo.

Korean Air performs flights from St. Petersburg on comfortable Airbus A330 aircraft with three classes of service, accompanying a total of up to 272 passengers. All seats are equipped with AVOD entertainment system offering travellers hundreds of hours of media content, films, music albums, games, video from outdoor cameras, an interactive flight map, etc. In-flight meals include European and Korean cuisine, as well as drinks. More than 20 special options can be pre-ordered.

Passengers of the first class enjoy the flight in individual cocoons providing the maximum privacy. The prestige class cabin is equipped with fully lie-flat seats turning into comfortable beds; the step of chairs of economy class reaches 86 cm.

Korean Air is the only airline operating direct services from St. Petersburg to Seoul. In 2018, the direct traffic on the route grew by 5.3% YOY to 43.2 thousand passengers.

The airline operates scheduled flights to 124 cities in 44 countries worldwide. With the renewal of the Korean Air services to Pulkovo, passengers flying from St. Petersburg can enjoy convenient connections at Incheon Airport to continue their travel to a wide range of cities in Southeast Asia and Oceania. While waiting for a transfer flight passengers of Korean Air can join one of the free tours into Seoul, take a free shower or rest in the comfortable waiting area of the Incheon Airport. The air harbor has gardens, a concert hall, a museum of Korean culture, a library, as well as dozens of restaurants and Duty Free shops.

Korean Air is the largest carrier of South Korea and a member of the international SkyTeam alliance. The airline’s fleet includes 167 airplanes. Korean Air has won many prestigious industry awards, including Russian Business Travel & MICE Award, Mercury Award, Cellars in the Sky and Top Operational Excellence.

Pulkovo St. Petersburg Airport is the fourth airport in Russia in terms of passenger traffic. In Q1 2019, Pulkovo served 3.6 million passengers, which is 14.7% more than in the same period of 2018. In 2019, St. Petersburg airport, for the fourth year in a row, became the winner of the national ‘Air Gates of Russia’ award, according to the passengers’ votes. Since 2010, Northern Capital Gateway LLC has been the main operator of Pulkovo, implementing the airport reconstruction and development project under a public-private partnership agreement with the city of St. Petersburg.


S7 Airlines starts new flights from Pulkovo St. Pertersburg Airport

S7 Airlines recently launched four new scheduled flights from Pulkovo St. Petersburg Airport. The new destinations include Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona (Spain), Olbia (Italy), and Anapa (Russia). Spanish and Italian islands, Mallorca and Sardinia, previously had had no direct air connection to St. Petersburg and are new for the summer schedule of Pulkovo Airport.

S7 Airlines flights from the Northern capital of Russia are operated once a week to Palma de Mallorca, twice weekly to Barcelona and Olbia, thrice weekly to Anapa.

In the IATA Summer Season S7 Airlines will continue to expand its presence at Pulkovo. In May, the carrier will launch scheduled flights from St. Petersburg to Irkutsk located close to the famous Baikal Lake. The city pair has had no direct air connection since 2012. In addition, S7 Airlines will provide direct service from Pulkovo to the Russian city of Voronezh as well as Nice on the French Riviera.

With the new additions, the route network of S7 Airlines from Pulkovo in 2019 includes 23 destinations: 13 domestic and 10 international.

In Q1 2019, S7 Airlines served 228 thousand passengers in St. Petersburg, which is 4.6% more than in the same period of 2018. In 2018, the carrier was one of the top three airlines for passenger traffic from Pulkovo Airport. In the past year, the airline served 1.4 million people in St. Petersburg, which is 20% more year-on-year.

S7 Airlines is a member of oneworld airline alliance. The carrier is one of the world’s TOP-100 best airlines and ranks third in Eastern Europe according to Skytrax.

Pulkovo St. Petersburg Airport is the fourth airport in Russia in terms of passenger traffic. In Q1 2019, Pulkovo served 3.6 million passengers, which is 14.7% more than in the same period of 2018. In 2019, St. Petersburg airport, for the fourth year in a row, became the winner of the national ‘Air Gates of Russia’ award, according to the passengers’ votes. Since 2010, Northern Capital Gateway LLC has been the main operator of Pulkovo, implementing the airport reconstruction and development project under a public-private partnership agreement with the city of St. Petersburg.


“Aviation key driver to UAE’s economic growth”, Sheikh Ahmed says

Aviation sector will continue to drive the UAE's all round economic growth on the back of rising passenger numbers and airport expansion projects, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority said recently.

"With passenger numbers expected to continue their growth trajectory and drive airport expansion projects to accommodate the demand, the UAE's aviation sector remains a key driver of our economic growth," Sheikh Ahmed, who is also Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, said at the inauguration of the Dubai Airport Show.

The three-day show had lined up the participation of 375 exhibitors from 60 countries showcasing more than 50 new technologies and innovative products at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Organizers said with all the co-located events, the 19th edition of the event is offering an ideal platform the Middle East, Africa and South Asia's aviation authorities, companies and individuals to come together and collaborate with international experts and leaders to improve global aviation.

The co-located events include Air Traffic Control Forum, Airport Security Middle East, Global Airport Leaders Forum, Women in Aviation, General Assembly and CAPA Middle East & Africa Aviation Summit.

Daniyal Qureshi, group exhibition director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organizers of the Airport Show, said the show had been a clear sell-out, reflecting the industry's continuing vibrancy and investment potential for expanding facilities and new technologies at airports and the aviation industry in general.

Delivering the Airport Keynote address at CAPA Aviation Summit, Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports Corporation, said Dubai World Central is set to handle 240 million passengers with personalized experience in the future. 

"The hub model is the right and sustainable model, which is benefiting Dubai," he said

APOC Aviation’s crowdfunding campaign raises $2.6 million in 90 minutes

Innovative aircraft and engines leasing, trading and part-out specialist APOC Aviation has raised $2.6 million in a highly successful crowdfunding campaign and Max Wooldrik, Founder and Managing Director of APOC, attributes that to the Company’s successful track record.

“This is our seventh crowdfunding raise for investment capital” he explains.  “The first time we experimented with the method it took us eleven days to generate $900,000 but we paid it back early so that generated ‘trust’ within the crowd.  Although this is the highest amount of money raised by a campaign, it is not the fastest – last time we raised $1.1m in just 8 minutes.

 “As an organization APOC Aviation has strong credentials within the new-tech arena.  We have developed our own industry-leading proprietary software platform ‘Alicanto’ which deploys crucial algorithms to estimate sales price/value for airframes and engines, delivering unique services for airline customers. Our team is technologically astute and forward-thinking so we’re really happy to involve a broad community of investors via the Internet and share the exciting world of aviation with them.”

The Company has secured additional working capital from ABN AMRO, the Dutch bank.  They recently chose APOC Aviation to feature in a television commercial focusing on successful businesses, which was shown on national television and gained excellent recall throughout The Netherlands.  The next step will be a formal raise of equity/debt capital to secure a significant sum to underpin an ambitious growth strategy. APOC Aviation is in the process of introducing a new division, which will focus on leasing, trading and parting-out of CFM56 and V2500 aircraft engines, and it is forecast to teardown nine airframes and invest in three engines this year.

Wooldrik is confident that APOC’s trajectory is in the ascendant.  “We’ve seen triple digit annual growth since founding the business in 2014.  Our funding is underpinned by our asset base that delivers consistently good returns for investors, and the predicted trends within the aviation sector relating to the growth of the global fleet and the on-going dismantlement of older aircraft suit our business model. We have just concluded APOC’s first significant deal in China with the acquisition of three A320 airframes and we will use local tear-down specialists to maximise cost-efficiencies from the outset. Concurrently we will replenish our stock of universally desirable A320 components, retain value in those parts, and sustain competitive prices.”

APOC’s fast-growth strategy and dynamic program of investment is well underway and Wooldrik attributes investor interest to the fact that aviation is an attractive class for investors.  “As children we dream of flying or becoming a pilot, but few achieve that ambition.  Being involved with a Company like APOC Aviation that is embracing a new way to do business enables some of the ‘magic’ to be shared by everyone.”


WNG Capital raises $438m for WNG Aircraft Opportunities Fund II

WNG Capital LLC, the global aviation investment manager and lessor of narrow body commercial aircraft, is pleased to announce the final closing of WNG Aircraft Opportunities Fund II, L.P. with $438 million of capital commitments.  WNG II is expected to acquire approximately 40 to 60 Boeing and Airbus narrow body aircraft with ages ranging from 15 to 20+ years and remaining lease terms of 12 to 48 months. As a result of WNG’s strong pipeline, the Fund has already closed on its first investment, signed a letter of intent for a second deal, and has several proposals outstanding for additional aircraft.

“WNG II was oversubscribed with demand exceeding the fundraising target of $300 million. We secured commitments from a sophisticated group of US institutional investors, including public and corporate pension plans, endowments, foundations, and family offices” said Michael Gangemi, Co-Managing Partner of WNG Capital.  “We are gratified by the response to our WNG II fundraise. The strong demand in a competitive market illustrates the value proposition of WNG’s differentiated approach as we seek to generate attractive returns for our investors through active management of narrow body aircraft on shorter leases. We view our investors as partners in our business and want to thank them for their trust and confidence.”

Since the Firm’s inception in 2009, WNG has managed 60 aviation assets valued in excess of $800 million. Continuing the value-creation strategy utilized in the management of these prior investments, WNG II is expected to primarily invest in mid-life and older narrow body commercial aircraft and aircraft-related assets manufactured by Boeing and Airbus. WNG is one of the most experienced lessors of older, narrow body aircraft, and its model for value creation is based upon extensive technical expertise and deep industry knowledge.

“The team at WNG has an established track record of managing older aircraft through multiple market cycles. Our hands-on, operational approach requires deep technical knowledge, detailed contracts experience and strong risk management skills. WNG professionals across the technical, legal, marketing and analysis verticals operate collaboratively with the singular focus of maximizing value for our investors, while providing flexible solutions for our lessees. We are proud to acknowledge the support we have received from leading institutional investors and look forward to building close and lasting relationships,” added Al Nigro, Co-Managing Partner.


Bombardier signs purchase agreement for Q400 turboprops

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft recently announced that a customer, who has requested to remain unidentified at this time, has signed an order to acquire six new Q400 aircraft.

Based on the list price of the Q400 aircraft, the firm order is valued at approximately US$ 202 million.

“The Q400 aircraft offers the perfect balance of passenger comfort and operating economics while maintaining its unmatched range and speed advantage versus other turboprops,” said Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The demand for turboprop aircraft worldwide is tremendous and the Q Series aircraft are ideally positioned to meet the needs of regional airlines as they offer a unique ability to serve diverse and challenging environments. The Q400 offers the lowest seat costs amongst turboprops, with an enhanced passenger experience and a proven 99.5 per cent reliability.”


Ed Bastian Chief Executive Officer Delta Air Lines

As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 80k global professionals that is building the world’s premiere international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation.

Under Ed’s leadership, Delta is transforming the air travel experience with generational investments in technology, aircraft, airport facilities and most importantly, Delta’s employees worldwide. A 20-year Delta veteran, Ed has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.

Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed has expanded Delta’s leading position as the world’s most reliable airline while growing its global footprint and enhancing the customer experience in the air and on the ground. During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the Wall Street Journal’s top US airline; Fortune’s most admired airline worldwide; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; a Glassdoor Employee’s Choice company and more. Delta has returned to sustained profitability, regaining its investment-grade credit rating with all three major ratings agencies and paying out more than $1 billion in profit-sharing to employees every year over the past four years. In 2018, Fortune magazine named Ed among ‘The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,’ and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations.

When asked to sum up his job in five words, Ed’s response is: “Taking care of our people.” The answer reflects his leadership philosophy, which is based on the “virtuous circle” – if you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, whose business and loyalty allows you to reward your investors.

Ed joined Delta in 1998 as Vice President – Finance and Controller and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer, and in 2007 was appointed to serve as Delta’s President.

Prior to joining Delta, Ed held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Ed started his career with Price Waterhouse where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.

Ed grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY, and graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He lives in Atlanta, and is deeply involved in his faith, family and community.

Emirates Group announces 2018-19 results


The Emirates Group recently announced its 31st consecutive year of profit and steady business expansion.

 Released recently in its 2018-19 Annual Report, the Emirates Group posted a profit of Dh2.3 billion (US$ 631 million) for the financial year ended 31 March 2019, down 44% from last year. The Group’s revenue reached Dh109.3 billion (US$ 29.8 billion), an increase of 7% over last year’s results. The Group’s cash balance was Dh22.2 billion (US$ 6.0 billion), down 13% from last year mainly due to large investments into the business, including significant acquisitions and payment of last year’s AED 2 billion (US$ 545 million) dividend. 

 In line with the overall profit, the Group declared a dividend of Dh500 million (US$ 136 million) to the Investment Corporation of Dubai for 2018-19.

 His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said, “2018-19 has been tough, and our performance was not as strong as we would have liked. Higher oil prices and the strengthened US dollar eroded our earnings, even as competition intensified in our key markets. The uptick in global airfreight demand from the previous year appears to have gone into reverse gear, and we also saw travel demand weaken, particularly in our region, impacting both dnata and Emirates.

 “Every business cycle is different, and we continue to work smart and hard to tackle the challenges and take advantage of opportunities. Our goal has always been to build a profitable, sustainable, and responsible business based in Dubai, and these principles continue to guide our decisions and investments. In 2018-19, Emirates and dnata delivered our 31st consecutive year of profit, recorded growth across the business, and invested in initiatives and infrastructure that will secure our future success.”

In 2018-19, the Group collectively invested Dh14.6 billion (US$ 3.9 billion) in new aircraft and equipment, the acquisition of companies, modern facilities, the latest technologies, and staff initiatives, a significant increase over last year’s investment spend of Dh9.0 billion (US$ 2.5 billion).

 In February, Emirates announced a commitment for 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s worth US$ 21.4 billion at list prices in an agreement signed with Airbus, to be delivered from 2021 and 2024 respectively. The airline will also receive 14 more A380 deliveries from 2019 until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 order book to 123 units.

 Dnata’s key investments during the year included: the acquisitions of Q Catering and Snap Fresh in Australia, and 121 Inflight Catering in the US; the buy-out of shares to become the owner of Dubai Express, Freightworks LLC; and a 51% majority stakeholder of Bolloré Logistics LLC, UAE; the build of new cargo and pharma handling facilities in Belgium, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and Pakistan; the acquisition of German tour operator Tropo, and a majority stake in BD4travel, a company providing artificial intelligence driven IT solutions in the travel sector.

 Across its more than 120 subsidiaries, the Group’s total workforce increased by 2% to 105,286, representing over 160 different nationalities, mainly influenced by dnata’s new acquisitions and its international business expansion.

 Sheikh Ahmed said, “In 2018-19, we were steadfast with our cost discipline while expanding our business and growing revenues. By slowing the recruitment of non-operational roles, and implementing new technology systems and new work structures, we’ve improved productivity and retarded manpower cost increases.”

 He concluded: “It’s hard to predict the year ahead, but both Emirates and dnata are well positioned to navigate speed bumps, as well as to compete and succeed in the global marketplace. We must continually up our game, that’s why we invest in our people, technology, and infrastructure to help us maintain our competitive edge. As a responsible business, we also invest resources towards supporting communities, conservation and environmental initiatives, as well as incubating talent and innovation that will propel our industry in the future.”

 Emirates’ total passenger and cargo capacity crossed the 63 billion mark, to 63.3 billion ATKMs at the end of 2018-19, cementing its position as the world’s largest international carrier. The airline moderately increased capacity during the year over 2017-18 by 3%, with a focus on yield improvement.

 Emirates received 13 new aircraft during the financial year, comprising of seven A380s and six Boeing 777-300ERs, including the last 777-300ER on its order book. The next 777 delivery is planned for 2020, when Emirates receives its first 777X aircraft.

 During 2018-19, Emirates phased out 11 older aircraft, bringing its total fleet count to 270 at the end of March. This fleet roll-over involving 24 aircraft was again one of the largest managed in a year, keeping Emirates’ average fleet age at a youthful 6.1 years.

 It reinforces Emirates’ strategy to operate a young and modern fleet, and live up to its ‘Fly Better’ brand promise as modern aircraft are better for the environment, better for operations, and better for customers.

 During the year, Emirates launched three new passenger destinations: London Stansted (UK), Santiago (Chile) and Edinburgh (Scotland), and reinstated services to Sabiha Gokcen (Turkey). It also added flight capacity to 14 existing destinations and upgraded capacity to six cities, offering customers more choice of flight timings and onward connections.

 Supplementing its organic network growth, Emirates expanded its global connectivity and customer proposition through new codeshare agreements signed with Jetstar Pacific and China Southern Airlines. It also enhanced its commercial strategic partnership with South African Airways.

 The Emirates-flydubai partnership continued to develop, with Emirates customers now able to access 67 more destinations served by flydubai, and enjoy greater connectivity with 11 flydubai flights operating from Emirates Terminal 3. The partnership alignment also saw Emirates Skywards become the loyalty programme for both Emirates and flydubai.

 Despite stiff competition across its key markets, Emirates increased its revenue by 6% to Dh97.9 billion (US$ 26.7 billion). The relative strengthening of the US dollar against currencies in many of Emirates’ key markets had an Dh572 million (US$ 156 million) negative impact to the airline’s bottom line, a stark contrast to the previous year’s positive currency impact of Dh661 million (US$ 180 million).

 Total operating costs increased by 8% over the 2017-18 financial year. The average price of jet fuel climbed by a further 22% during the financial year after last year’s 15% increase. Including a 3% higher uplift in line with capacity increase, the airline’s fuel bill increased substantially by 25% over last year to Dh30.8 billion (US$ 8.4 billion). This is the biggest-ever fuel bill for the airline, accounting for 32% of operating costs, compared to 28% in 2017-18. Fuel remained the biggest cost component for the airline.

 Against a backdrop of high fuel prices, strong competitive pressure, and unfavorable currency impact, the airline reported a profit of Dh871 million (US$ 237 million), a decline of 69% over last year’s results, and a profit margin of 0.9%.

 Overall passenger traffic remained steady, as Emirates carried 58.6 million passengers (up 0.2%). With seat capacity increasing by 4%, the airline achieved a Passenger Seat Factor of 76.8%. The slight decline in passenger seat factor compared to last year’s 77.5%, reflects the impact of slowing regional economies on travel demand, and strong competition in many markets.

 An increase in market fares and a favorable class mix helped support a passenger yield increase of more than 3% to 26.2 fils (7.1 US cents) per Revenue Passenger Kilometre (RPKM), although the full impact was partly offset by the strengthening of the US dollar against most currencies.

 During the year, Emirates raised Dh14.2 billion (US$ 3.9 billion) to fund its fleet growth, using a combination of term loans, finance and operating leases.

 Testament to the increasing depth of the Japanese structured financing market for Emirates, all six 777-300ER aircraft delivered were financed via a Japanese Operating Lease with a Call Option (JOLCO) raising funding of more than US$ 1 billion. Emirates has now raised over Dh28 billion (US$ 7.6 billion) from the Japanese structured financing market since 2014.

 A US$ 600 million corporate Sukuk issued in March 2018 financed 2 A380 deliveries; and the remaining 5 A380 aircraft were taken on a mix of operating lease, Export Credit Agency (ECA) backed finance leases, and finance leases arranged from institutional investors and bank base from Korea, Germany, UK and Middle East.

 These deals demonstrate Emirates’ ability to unlock diverse financing sources through access to global liquidity, underscoring its sound financials and the strong investor confidence in the airline’s business model.

 Emirates closed the financial year with a healthy level of Dh17.0 billion (US$ 4.6 billion) of cash assets.  

 Revenue generated from across Emirates’ six regions continues to be well balanced, with no region contributing more than 30% of overall revenues. Europe was the highest revenue-contributing region with Dh28.3 billion (US$ 7.7 billion), up 6% from 2017-18. East Asia and Australasia follows closely with Dh26.6 billion (US$ 7.2 billion), up 5%. The Americas region recorded revenue growth at Dh14.5 billion (US$ 3.9 billion), up 8%. Africa revenue increased by 9% to Dh10.2 billion (US$ 2.8 billion), whereas Gulf and Middle East revenue decreased by 3% to Dh8.3 billion (US$ 2.3 billion). West Asia and Indian Ocean revenue increased by 6% to Dh8.1 billion (US$ 2.2 billion).

 Through the year, Emirates introduced product and service improvements on board, on the ground, and online.

 Highlights include: the completion of a US$ 150 million program to refurbish its entire Boeing 777-200LR fleet with new, wider Business Class seats and a fully refreshed Economy Class cabin; the launch of the Emirates Vintage Collection featuring fine wines that have been stored for 15 years; and new luxury products in First and Business Class developed in collaboration with brands like Bowers & Wilkins, Bulgari and BYREDO.

 On the ground, Emirates introduced a new service so customers in Dubai can check-in for their flights from their homes, hotel or office, and have their luggage transported prior to their flight; it added a new dedicated lounge in Cairo and refurbished the existing Emirates Lounges in New York and Rome; and launched pilot trials for the world’s first ‘biometric path’ at Dubai airport utilizing the latest biometric technology to ease Emirates passengers through check-in, immigration formalities, and boarding.

 Online, Emirates became the first airline to launch 3D seat models using web-based virtual reality technology, allowing customers to preview its onboard product and select seats. It also launched a new feature on its mobile app, so customers can browse the thousands of movies, music and shows on offer, create personal playlists before they fly, and then sync from their devices to their personal seatback screens when they board.

 Emirates SkyCargo continued to deliver a strong performance in a highly competitive market with dampening demand, contributing to 14% of the airline’s total transport revenue.

 In an airfreight market facing unrelenting downward pressure on yields and slowing demand, Emirates’ cargo division reported a revenue of Dh13.1 billion (US$ 3.6 billion), an increase of 5% over last year, while tonnage carried slightly increased by 1% to reach 2.7 million tons.

 Freight yield per Freight Tonne Kilometre (FTKM) for the 2nd consecutive year increased by a further 3%, demonstrating Emirates SkyCargo’s ability to retain and win customers on value despite fuel price increases, and a weakened demand in many markets.

 Emirates’ SkyCargo’s total freighter fleet stood at 12 Boeing 777Fs. In addition to belly-hold capacity to Emirates’ new passenger destinations, Emirates SkyCargo launched a new freighter service to Bogota (Columbia), and resumed freighter services to Erbil (Iraq).

 For 2018-19, dnata recorded its most profitable year with Dh1.4 billion (US$ 394 million) profit. This includes gains from a one-time transaction where dnata divested its 22% stake in the travel management company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), during HRG’s acquisition by Amex Travel Business Group. Without this one-time transaction, dnata profits will be down 15% compared to the same period last year.

Dnata's total revenue grew to Dh14.4 billion (US$ 3.9 billion), up 10%. This reflects its continued business growth across its four business divisions - both organic through customer retention and new contract wins; as well as via its new acquisitions. dnata’s international business now accounts for 70% of its revenue. 

 Laying the foundations for its future growth, dnata invested close to Dh1.1 billion (US$ 314 million) in acquisitions, new facilities and equipment, leading-edge technologies and people development during the year.

 In 2018-19, dnata’s operating costs increased by 11% to Dh13.1 billion (US$ 3.6 billion), in line with organic growth across its business divisions, coupled with integrating the newly acquired companies mainly across its catering division and international airport operations.

 Dnata’s cash balance was Dh5.1 billion (US$ 1.4 billion), an increase of 4%. The business delivered an Dh1.4 billion (US$ 386 million) cash flow from operating activities in 2018-19, which is in line with its enhanced cash balance and puts the business in a solid position to finance its investments.

 Revenue from dnata’s UAE Airport Operations, including ground and cargo handling increased by 2% to reach Dh3.2 billion (US$ 878 million).

 The number of aircraft movements handled by dnata in the UAE remained flat at 211,000. This reflects the impact of the region’s challenging aviation environment on many of dnata’s airline customers. dnata’s Cargo handling slightly declined by 1% to 727,000 tons, impacted by lower demand in the overall air cargo market. 

 In 2018-19, dnata strengthened its position in the freight forwarding industry with the acquisition of more shares to become the sole owner of Dubai Express and Freightworks LLC; and a 51% majority stakeholder of Bolloré Logistics LLC, UAE that operates in 106 countries.

 Dnata also acquired a majority stake in DUBZ, a company that emerged from Dubai’s incubator program Intelak, providing baggage delivery services to passengers arriving in Dubai, and for passengers departing Dubai to check-in their baggage and get boarding passes from anywhere in the city.

 It continued to invest in technology to improve operations and customer satisfaction. Highlights include the launch of: a new cutting-edge resource management system that supports AI, autonomous vehicles, and advanced analytics to optimize staff operations at both DXB and DWC; and a new one cargo tool, a first for ground handlers, to digitize the booking process and service, ensuring a seamless experience at cargo delivery bays, and a unified engagement for customers between freight forwarders and dnata.

 Dnata’s International Airport Operations division grew revenue by 5% to Dh4.0 billion (US$ 1.1 billion), on account of increasing business volumes, opening of new locations and winning new contracts.  International airport operations continue to represent the largest business segment in dnata by revenue contribution. The number of aircraft handled by the division further increased substantially by 9% to 488,000, and Cargo noted a growth of 1% to 2.4 million tons of handled goods. 

 During the year, dnata won over 100 new contracts in key markets, including the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and Italy, and coupled it with solid customer retention.

 Dnata significantly enhanced its cargo capabilities in 2018-19. It debuted operations in Belgium with a new 14,000 m² cargo center at Brussels Airport, built tailor-made cargo solutions across new facilities in Dallas, London Heathrow, Adelaide and Karachi, and refurbished existing facilities in Singapore and Amsterdam. In response to customer growth, dnata invested to expand at Gatwick and Manchester, and opened new cargo facilities in Islamabad and Multan airports including Pakistan’s first automated storage and retrieval system.

 Dnata also invested in its pharma facilities, offering more handling capability than any other company in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia and Singapore. Its ability to provide safe and reliable pharma handling services globally was recognised with IATA’s CIEV Pharma certification in Dubai and Toronto, and GDP certification in London and Zurich.

In Italy, dnata increased its share in Airport Handling SpA, a Milan-based ground handler, to 70%.  At Zurich Airport, dnata was re-awarded the ground and cargo handling license till 2025, enabling it to serve customers without interruptions.  In North America, dnata launched ground and cargo handling at Los Angeles and began passenger services at New York’s JFK.

During the year, dnata inaugurated a 2,000 m² state-of-the-art catering facility in Canberra with the capacity to produce more than 60,000 meals a month. In North America, dnata launched operations in New York, Nashville and Orlando through the acquisition of 121 Inflight Catering, and will commence operations in purpose-built facilities in Boston, Houston and Vancouver in the first quarter of the new financial year, with further facilities in the build across the US.

 Revenue from dnata’s Travel Services division has increased by 9% to AED 3.7 billion (US$ 1.0 billion). The underlying total transaction value (TTV) of travel services sold grew by 2% to AED 11.5 billion (US$ 3.1 billion).

 This performance reflects dnata’s ability to tap into, and serve a broad and diverse array of travel segments, partially offsetting the slowing demand for corporate and consumer travel in the UK and in the UAE – its two biggest markets.

 In 2018-19, dnata entered the German market and expanded its travel network in Europe with its acquisition of Tropo, a tour operator selling through online travel agents and independent travel agencies. It also acquired a majority stake in BD4travel (Big Data for Travel), an award-winning tech company which provides artificial intelligence driven IT solutions in the travel sector.

Dnata also significantly grew its contact centre operations with the completion of its second facility in Clark, Philippines, and the purchase of a facility in Belgrade taking its operations to 14 locations in the UAE, Serbia, the Philippines, India and the UK. With added capability and capacity, dnata successfully expanded its service contracts with key customers including a new five-year agreement with Etihad Airways to run its contact centre operations globally.


IAG see 62.6% decrease in profits during H12019

International Airlines Group (IAG) announced recently, that its profit after tax before exceptional items fell down to €70 million during the first quarter of 2019, a 62.6% decrease.

 The parent company of, among others, British Airways and Iberia had recorded a net profit of €794 million in the first quarter of 2018. It sees in this decline the higher price of kerosene and an unfavorable market in Europe.

Along with fuel, IAG also feels the effect of a difficult market for air travel in Europe, including an excessive capacity for demand.

 The group carried 24.4 million passengers in the first quarter, up 6.2% year-on-year.

“In a quarter when European airlines were significantly affected by fuel and foreign exchange headwinds, market capacity impacting yield and the timing of Easter, we remained profitable and are reporting an operating profit of €135 million,“ said Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive Officer.

 At current fuel prices and exchange rates, IAG expects its 2019 operating profit before exceptional items to be in line with 2018 pro forma. Passenger unit revenue is expected to be flat at constant currency and non-fuel unit cost is expected to improve at constant currency.

Air Arabia launches direct flights between Sharjah and Tunis


Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC), announced recently the launch of a direct flight from Sharjah to Tunis, Tunisia’s capital city starting July 4, 2019.

The new flight will operate three times a week; on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The flights depart Sharjah International Airport at 15:30 hours local time arriving at Carthage International Airport in Tunis at 19:05 hours local time. The return flights depart Carthage International Airport in Tunis at 20:05 hours arriving in Sharjah at 05:05 hours local time.

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said, “We are pleased to add Tunis to our growing destination network from Sharjah offering a new and affordable travel option to visit the country. Tunisia is a culture-rich destination with a great appeal for tourism and we look forward to the start of this service that will significantly add to the convenience of residents in both UAE and Tunisia”.

Known for its golden beaches, sunny weather and affordable luxuries, Tunisia offers its visitors a great mix of attractions spreading from its cosmopolitan capital city Tunis to the ancient ruins of Carthage and its coastal resorts.

Air Arabia currently serves Tunisia from its hub in Morocco with direct flights connecting Casablanca and Tunis. Air Arabia now serves over 170 international and domestic routes from its hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

Bombardier jet crashes in Mexico, no survivors found


A Bombardier Challenger 601 business jet that took off from Las Vegas with three crew members and ten passengers crashed. No survivors were found.

An aerial search and rescue party located the aircraft on May 6, 2019, in a mountainous area near Monclova, northern Mexico, said Miguel Ángel Villarreal, administrator of Monclova International Airport (LOV), to local news Multimedios. According to him, the aircraft was transporting 11 passengers and 3 members of the crew. Their identity has not been disclosed.

The plane took off from Las Vegas on the afternoon of May 5, 2019, and was expected a bit later in Monterrey, northeastern Mexico. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft over Coahuila.

The cause of the accident is being investigated. The aircraft, registered N601VH, was owned by TVPX Aircraft Solutions, a US-based firm. Its passengers reportedly visited Las Vegas to attend a boxing match.

On March 10, 2018, a private jet - Bombardier Challenger 604 – crashed into Zagros Mountains (Iran), killing all 11 people onboard – eight passengers and three crew members. The victims were identified as Mina Basaran, a Turkish bride-to-be, and her bachelorette party.

Etihad Airways increases flight services to London Heathrow during peak season

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will boost its services from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow during the busy summer period. The additional flights will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, supplementing the current three daily all-Airbus A380 services between both capital cities. 

Between 26 May and 22 June, four daily flights will be operated on the route, increasing to five from 23 June to 28 September, returning to four daily flights from 29 September to 26 October.

The extra flights are conveniently timed to provide easy connections via Abu Dhabi to and from key destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.

Etihad’s two-class version of the 787-9 Dreamliner features 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats.

Prototype helicopter to take maiden flight soon

ISTANBUL—Turkish Aerospace (TUSAS) is preparing to fly the first prototype of its T625 twin-engine medium helicopter in the next 5-6 weeks, company officials have said.

Although the company declared a first flight of the rotorcraft last September, this was performed using an aircraft known as P0, essentially a ground test vehicle extensively modified to be able to perform the first hop five years to the day after the contract to develop the aircraft was signed in 2013. The aircraft was christened last December with the name Gokbey, which has several translations, including Mr, Sky and Skymaster.

The configuration of P0 during the first flight was notable as the aircraft lacked doors and panels covering the structure and engine compartment. It also lacked automatic flight control and stability augmentation systems, rotary-wing test pilot Gokhan Virhan told Aerospace DAILY at the IDEF defence exhibition here April 30.

“The aircraft was very stable. It met all our expectations,” he said.

Since that single flight, P0 has been returned to its ground test rig role, supporting testing of the aircraft’s specially developed transmission. The gearbox had been developed in conjunction with Germany’s ZF, but is now being produced in-house, with the third Turkish Aerospace-assembled transmission being used in the first prototype.

The company says it is confident of meeting lubrication run-dry criteria.

The second and third prototypes will follow shortly after P1 and will support commercial certification activity. TUSAS wants to certify the helicopter to European Aviation Safety Agency specifications. Certification of mission kits such as those for the law enforcement or search-and-rescue likely will be carried out on the third prototype.

A fourth prototype may be introduced to accelerate the development program but also could be used to support the development of the military version.

Turkey’s defence materiel agency, SSB, established the development program to provide a replacement for the Bell UH-1 Huey/Iroquois helicopters currently serving in the Turkish Army and air force. As many as 100-150 aircraft are envisaged for this role alone. TUSAS also sees interest from the Turkish Police and Coast Guard.

The Turkish government also is mulling the use of the aircraft as an air ambulance to support the country’s health services.

Production of the aircraft is due to get underway by the end of 2021.

TUSAS engineers already have figured growth into the aircraft and believe they can get the maximum gross weight to around 6,700 kg (14,800 lb.), currently published figure is 6,050 kg.

A key area of interest for test pilots is the Gokbey’s hovering attitude. Many modern helicopters built for higher cruising speeds tend to hover nose high.

“This can be a challenge for pilots if landing in a confined area or on the back of a ship,” Virhan says. He says the aircraft will hover at a slightly nose-high attitude of around 5 deg, but the company has the ability to move some mass such as avionics black boxes into the nose, adjusting the center of gravity. Airbus has carried out a similar approach on its twin-engined H160 to lower the nose in the hover.

The T625 will the first commercial helicopter to use the Honeywell/Rolls-Royce-developed T800 engine originally developed for the Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, enabling commonality with the company’s T129 ATAK attack helicopter built in conjunction with Leonardo. However, an indigenous engine, the TS1400, currently is being developed by Turkish Engine Industries (TEI). Following the successful ignition of the engine core last year, tests of the core have continued, recently achieving speeds of 30,000 rpm.

The company now is developing accessory modules for the engine to turn it into an operational turboshaft, said Ahmet Kain, programs director at TEI.

Most notably, the company is targeting the extensive use of additive manufacturing in the production of the engine.

“We are looking to produce 30-40% of the engine using additive manufacturing. I think that puts us ahead of the pack,” Kain said.

Development of the TS1400 started in February 2017 as an eight-year program but has been accelerated. Kain says. He expects prototype engines to be available for test in 30 months.

Once developed, the TS1400 will be an ITAR-free alternative engine to the T800.

CAE reinforces its pilot training leadership position in the Americas

CAE announced today at the World Aviation Training Symposium (WATS) that in response to increased pilot training demand, it is expanding its training capacity for airlines in the Americas.

“CAE has steadily increased its commercial aviation training footprint in the Americas to support our airline partners’ growing pilot training needs,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “We will be expanding our training network in the Americas with the addition of more than 15 simulators for a total of over 50 full flight simulators in the region by the end of 2019, that’s a 35% training capacity growth in three years.”

CAE’s strategic partnerships with airlines across the region and its commitment to regional customers paved the way to a new training centre in Bogota, Colombia in 2019 and two additional US training centres in Minneapolis and Phoenix in 2017. 

CAE deployed new state-of-the-art CAE-built Airbus A320 NEO full-flight simulators in CAE Montreal, CAE Bogota, CAE Mexico and in CAE Santiago. In addition, CAE will be deploying a Bombardier CRJ900 at CAE Minneapolis, an Embraer E170 at CAE Phoenix and a Boeing 787 at CAE Bogota.

Commercial MRO market to grow at 4.35% during the forecast period

Global Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Market report presents an in-depth analysis of the major Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry leading players along with the company profiles and strategies adopted by them. This enables the buyer of the report to gain a telescopic view of the competitive landscape and plan the strategies accordingly. A separate section with Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry key players are included in the report, which provides a comprehensive analysis of price, cost, gross, revenue, product picture, specifications, company profile, and contact information.

 The commercial aircraft MRO market is estimated to register a CAGR of 4.35% during the forecast period, 2019 – 2024.

 With the growing air traffic, carriers are more inclined toward maintaining the health of their current fleet, going for new aircraft only if they have no other option since the cost of buying a new aircraft is considerably higher than the cost for the maintenance of the current fleet. Different airports have introduced improvement processes to enhance efficiency, and several are using new technological systems to gain additional upgrades and prepare for the bigger data requirements of next-generation aircraft, and this shall lead to the growth of the market in the near future.

Governments have started various initiatives to encourage airports to support MRO as a strategic activity. Various holistic approaches are now being undertaken by the governments to ensure that adequate space is mandatorily allocated at various airports within the country for MRO, and this shall lead to an enhancement in terms of commercial aircraft MRO in the years to come.

Scope of the Report

 Aircraft MRO refers to overhaul, inspection, repair, or modification of an aircraft or its component. The market study covers the MRO services only for commercial aircraft, not for military and general aviation aircraft.

 Currently, the field maintenance segment has the highest share out of all the segments. Field maintenance has to deal with very different tasks. These operations are performed simultaneously to lower the ground time, to increase aircraft productivity. Thus, management strongly emphasizes the time-efficiency of ground operations delivered either by themselves, the independent companies, or the airport authority. The time efficiency makes the task even tighter for field maintenance staff, and their efficiency depends on technically advanced equipment, information support systems, and coordination of staff. Thus, the focus is currently on this segment, which is the reason for its expected high CAGR.

 At present, Asia-Pacific is generating the highest revenue in the commercial aircraft MRO market. Singapore dominates the MRO market in Asia. In recent years, several other Asian countries have also increased their investment in MRO facilities, trying to replicate the success of Singapore and Hong Kong in this sector. Low-cost carrier, to some extent, has changed the face of civil aviation in Asia. In tandem with the rise, the market for aircraft maintenance is also changing, as companies in countries like Indonesia and Thailand are also entering the market to challenge the dominance of established Singaporean players. Government policy also plays a key role, and the Singaporean government has been very forward-looking in supporting the aerospace industry. With the growing frequency of flights to and from the Asian countries, the demand for MRO centers is expected to rise in this region in the coming years. Moreover, due to the huge potential of the Asia-Pacific aviation market, several global players are establishing new centres in the region to cater to the growing demand.


The commercial aircraft MRO market is highly fragmented, with only a handful of players controlling the market. TAP M&E is currently the largest player in the market, followed by Pratt & Whitney, Lufthansa Technik, ST Aerospace, and Rockwell Collins. The MRO operation per aircraft is expected to decrease in frequency compared to older aircraft, due to improvement in technology and advancement in the engine and structural design of aircraft. The long aircraft order backlog will force older aircraft to run longer shifts and as population rises, globally, the active aircraft fleet will find it difficult to cater to the required capacity demand. Commercial airline MRO is expected to be active during the forecast period, as airlines compete to bring in more passengers and provide better facilities inside the aircraft cabin. Joint ventures between the players can help the companies strengthen their market presence.

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