Indian carrier SpiceJet ‘grounds flights’

Indian carrier SpiceJet 'grounds flights'Indian carrier SpiceJet has grounded flights after oil companies refused to refuel any of its aircraft, according to reports.

The debt-ridden carrier, which is India’s fourth-largest, owes money to creditors, including oil companies.

SpiceJet has $314 milion in debts and it is looking to raise funds.

Civil aviation authorities gave SpiceJet a reprieve yesterday when they said state-owned oil companies would be asked to give credit to the cash-strapped airline for up to 15 days.

The civil aviation ministry also said that banks or other financial institutions would be asked to lend up to $94 million, backed by a personal guarantee from SpiceJet chairman Kalanithi Maran.

The ministry said the measures were aimed at avoiding a collapse which it said would be a “major setback” for the airline industry.

But it is not clear why oil companies have refused to refuel SpiceJet aircraft after Tuesday’s announcements.

“Not even a single flight has taken off this morning due to fuel supply issue with the oil companies,” sources in SpiceJet told the BBC.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


‘Millions wasted on underused regional airports’, says report

Millions of pounds of EU money has been wasted on underused and oversized regional airports, according to a report released yesterday (Tuesday).

The European Court of Auditors said that £200 million was spent on infrastructure deemed “unnecessarily large”.

The report called it “poor value for money”, as it revealed that many of the aviation hubs were built in sparsely populated areas where there were not enough passengers to keep them afloat, The Times reported.

An airport in Kastoria, northern Greece, cost more than £6 million to run but brought in less than £140,000 between 2005 and 2012.

Another in Córdoba, southern Spain, was predicted to cater for 179,000 passengers but handled less than 7,000 last year.

Fewer than 10% of the 306,000 passengers expected at Crotone, in southern Italy, materialised.

The EU has given Poland almost £80 million since 2007 to build three “ghost” airports in sparsely populated areas that that do not merit hubs.

The audit showed that only half of the 20 airports, which were given £530 million, deserved EU funding.

Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Even by the unique standards of EU spending, this is a shocking waste of hard-pressed taxpayers’ money.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Tui signals growth as merger is completed

Tui signals growth as merger is completedThe merger between Tui Travel and its German parent Tui AG was completed today to create the world’s largest tourism group.

The combined business has 77,000 staff across 130 countries.

Joint chief executive Friedrich Joussen said: “Under the roof of the new Tui Group we want to grow and increase our international market position.

“Therefore, this is a good day for our customers, our shareholders and our employees. Tui is a pioneer in shaping the future of the tourism industry in terms of service, quality and innovation.”

His fellow joint chief executive Peter Long said:
“This is a fantastic day for Tui, now the world’s number one integrated leisure tourism business.

“We will successfully future proof our new group by securing long-term access to unique content which will allow us to accelerate our growth plans.

“In addition, we have identified significant efficiencies and cost savings. All this will lead to greater shareholder value, from our first full financial year.

“Personally, I am very excited about what the future holds and the opportunities that lie ahead for us as Tui Group.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


AirAsia X confirms order for 55 next-gen Airbus aircraft

AirAsia X confirms order for 55 next-gen Airbus aircraftAirAsia X, the long-haul arm of Asia’s largest low-cost airline, has placed a firm order for 55 new-generation Airbus A330neo aircraft.

The is the largest single order to date for the A330 family confirms AirAsia X’s position as the biggest A330 airline customer worldwide, having now ordered a total of 91 aircraft.

The announcement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding for 50 A330neo during the Farnborough Air Show in July, plus an additional five aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2018.

The A330neo will incorporate latest generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features.

Airbus claims these advances will make the aircraft the most cost-efficient in its size category, with a reduction in fuel consumption of 14% per seat, an increase in non-stop flying range of up to 400 nautical miles and the lowest possible maintenance costs.

AirAsia X co-founder Tony Fernandes said: “This latest deal with Airbus will enable AirAsia X to consolidate its growth rate in 2015-2017 before ramping up deliveries from 2018 onwards.

“The A330 has proven itself to be exactly the right aircraft for our business model, combining low operating costs, long range flying capability and high levels of comfort.

“We are extremely excited about the even greater levels of efficiency that will come with the A330neo, which will play a key role in enabling AirAsia X to maintain its position as the long haul low cost leader.”

Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said: “This order from AirAsia X is a major endorsement of the A330neo as the most cost-efficient aircraft in its size category.

“With the A330neo in its fleet, AirAsia X will benefit from even lower operating costs as it expands it network and reach, enabling more people to fly further more often than ever before. We look forward to AirAsia X becoming one of the first operators of the latest version of the highly successful A330.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


BMI Regional doubles charter flight volume in 2014

BMI Regional doubles charter flight volume in 2014BMI Regional flew over 260 charter flights this year, more than double the number for the whole of 2013.

The carrier is flying entertainment artists, car manufacturers, football and sports clubs, businesses and private individuals across Europe and beyond on a weekly basis using 50-seat Embraer jets.

Charters have operated to Keflavik in Iceland, Malaga, the Canary Islands and Ukraine.

Charter flying now represents an important complementary business, operating alongside Bmi Regional’s primary scheduled route network of 20 destinations.

Business development director Graeme Ross said: “There were small business jets and 180-seat jets available in the charter market but not much around the 50-seat mark.

“Our aircraft fit that largely un-catered for size and are the ideal fit for a football club and its support staff, for example, or a company that needs to move 30 or 40 staff for an event or contract.

“When you compare the cost of achieving this via scheduled flights with overnight stops and hotels, plus the time involved, the charter option is very cost effective and time efficient.”

He added: “Our charter client base is diverse and includes everyone from football and ice hockey clubs to pop groups, corporates, film directors and private individuals.

“We have built good relationships with many charter brokers and individual clients. We also get phone calls out of the blue – there’s no single source for the charter work.

“We now aim to have an average of two aircraft available for charter but they do tend to book quickly as we see continuing demand in this sector.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


CAA to lead inquiry into Nats computer crash

CAA to lead inquiry into Nats computer crashAn independent inquiry will be established into Friday’s air traffic control computer glitch which prompted chaos across UK airports.

The announcement from the Civil Aviation Authority came as it was confirmed that up to 10,000 passengers at Heathrow alone were affected.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the failure was “unacceptable” but defended the National Air Traffic Services.

He told MPs he welcomed an inquiry by the CAA into the incident saying he hoped the findings would be available by March 2015.

Answering questions from the House of Commons transport committee, McLoughlin defended the overall performance of Nats, saying it was doing “an incredibly good job”.

“The average delay this year in Nats is 2.5 seconds per flight, whereas the rest of Europe we’re taking about 30 seconds,” he said.

He also compared the disruption to a telephone failure at the Swanwick air traffic centre in December 2013, which also caused flight disruption.

That incident caused 126,000 minutes of delays, compared to Friday’s 16,000 minutes, McLoughlin said.

The CAA is to appoint an independent chair to lead the inquiry, which will take evidence from experts on information technology and air traffic control.

However, transport committee chairman Louise Ellman questioned McLoughlin about the inquiry – which could involve CAA and Nats staff – saying it “did not look very independent,” the BBC reported.

The inquiry would be dealing with a very specialised and technical area, McLoughlin said. He said there was a limited number of people who could carry it out.

“We want to find out what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added.

The regulator said: “The CAA will, in consultation with Nats, appoint an independent chair of the panel which will consist of Nats technical experts, a board member from the CAA and independent experts on information technology, air traffic management and operational resilience.”

It said the full terms of reference will be published following consultation with “interested parties including airlines and consumer groups”.

Nats chief executive Richard Deakin said the problem involved a computer code written a quarter of a century ago.

Deakin rejected criticism from business secretary Vince Cable, who accused the company of “skimping on large-scale investment” and being “penny wise and pound foolish”.

The company says it will be spending £575 million over the next five years on systems.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


‘Ancient’ computer system blamed for Nats failure

An ‘ancient’ computer system has been blamed for the UK air traffic control failure that caused chaos at London airports on Friday.

The incident was just the latest in a string of computer problems that have plagued Nats in recent years at its headquarters in Swanwick, Hampshire.

Business secretary Vince Cable claimed Nats was running “ancient computer systems, which then crash”.

“We have to maintain a high level of capital investment,” he added.

Nats said it would be spending £575 million over the next five years on systems.

But Cable told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that Nats, under financial pressure, had decided to “forego capital investment” for many years.

He said: “We have to maintain a high level of capital investment.”

Deakin said that the software problem was “buried” among millions of lines of computer code.

“The challenge is that we have around 50 different systems at Swanwick and around four million lines of code. This particular glitch was buried in one of those four million lines of code,” he told the BBC.

“We haven’t seen that particular issue before,” he added.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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