Christmas Catch-Up: A Rundown of December’s Aviation News
Air New Zealand
-Rumored since the sighting of a Boeing 777-300 at Paine Field with a solid black rudder several weeks ago, Air New Zealand confirmed the existence of the All Blacks B777-300ER which is, you guessed it, all black. The airplane commemorates the country’s national rugby team, the All Blacks.
Sadly, there will be no official photo ops in Seattle before delivery for us to attend, but while the pictures are few and far between for now Boeing and ANZ were kind enough to release a few for our eyes to feast upon, along with this video of the painting process. Try not to get too excited.
-In a bid to spread the holiday cheer, the Air New Zealand tells NYCA that “they are gifting its passengers flying out of LAX a series of thoughtful acts.” According to the press statement, “some of the in-person perks include a complimentary massage in Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge and opportunities to win prizes for checking-in on the airline’s USA-Facebook page or tweeting with a special hashtag. In addition, the general public has the opportunity to win roundtrip airfare for two to New Zealand hosted on the company’s USA Facebook page.” Additionally, Air New Zealand will offer daily giveaways of travel essentials on Twitter.
You have to hand it to ANZ for keeping things interesting. We had the chance to fly with them briefly on their first 777-300ER delivery flight around this time last year; we sure hope we have the opportunity to fly with them again in the future.
-Airbus delivered its 7,000th aircraft overall on December 12th, an A321, to US Airways. “It’s particularly fitting that our 7,000th aircraft is an A321 going to US Airways. The airline not only operates the largest fleet of Airbus aircraft in the world; with over 220 A320 Family aircraft flying in US Airways colours today,” said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. “This milestone is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of Airbus teams around the world.”
-Airbus and Russian airline Transaero signed off on a firm order for eight A320NEO aircraft on December 5th. The airline intends to utilize the aircraft on medium haul domestic and international routes. Olga Pleshakova, Transaero Airlines CEO, said, “This order for the A320neo confirms Transaero’s ambition to become the first operator of this aircraft type in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe. These newest aircraft will enable us to offer maximum comfort to our passengers, while their high fuel efficiency will help us make air transportation affordable for a wider audience.”
-ANA on Wednesday announced its intentions to begin 787 services from Tokyo-Narita to Seattle and Tokyo-Narita to San Jose, Calif. sometime in 2012. Shinichiro Ito, President and CEO of ANA Group, commented, “Seattle is an important international business hub and home to companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and, of course, Boeing itself while San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley. Passenger demand to fly to both destinations is high, not only from Japan but from many Asian cities. The launch of these new services will make ANA the only Japanese airline to operate the two routes, as well as the only carrier to operate the Narita-San Jose route.”
The new routes represent the second carrier, along with JAL, to introduce the 787 on US-based routes.
-The 200th Sky Interior 737 was delivered on December 19th to the Scandinavian airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. “We couldn’t be more pleased about being part of this important milestone for the 737,” said Bjorn Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. The first Sky Interior 737 was delivered just over one year ago, in November 2010.
-Not to be outdone by Airbus’ milestone earlier in the week, Boeing delivered their 7,000th 737 to Dubai-based carrier flydubai on December 16th. Since taking to the sky for the first time in April 1967, the iconic single aisle airplane has progressed to become the best sold commercial airliner of all time with over 9,000 orders.
“It is incredible to be delivering our 7,000th 737. We thank flydubai and all our customers who have made the 737 the world’s most popular jet airliner,” said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. “This success is due to the years of expertise that thousands of employees continue to build into every Boeing 737 used in private, government and commercial service.”
It is worth noting that of the 7,000 737s built, over 5,400 of them are still in service with 358 airlines in 114 countries. The 737 alone represents over one quarter of the commercial airfleet aloft today.
-The 747-8 Intercontinental got the go ahead from the fine folks at the FAA on December 14th, clearing the way for an expected delivery in early 2012 to launch customer Lufthansa.
“Soon people around the world will fly on the newest 747,” said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 747 program. “This is a great day for our customers and for a team that has worked incredibly hard to certify the newest version of the Queen of the Skies.”
-The 787 set a few new speed and distance records, mostly to prove it could, in early December. According to the press release from Boeing, “the sixth 787, ZA006, powered by General Electric GEnx engines, departed from Boeing Field in Seattle at 11:02 a.m. on Dec. 6 and set the distance record for its class (440,000-550,000 lbs.) with a 10,710 nmi (19,835 km) flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh, with credit for 10,337 nmi (19,144 km). This record had previously been held by the Airbus A330 based on a 9,127 nmi (16,903 km) flight in 2002.”
The release continues; “following an approximately two-hour stop for refueling in Dhaka, the airplane returned to Seattle on a 9,734 nmi (18,027 km) flight. The airplane landed at 5:29 a.m. on Dec. 8, setting a new record for speed around the world (eastbound) with a total trip time of 42 hours and 27 minutes. There was no previous around-the-world speed record for this weight class.”
“Speed and distance capabilities are fundamental to the value the 787 brings to the market,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “These records are a great way to demonstrate that this airplane is the game-changer we have promised.”
-Are you flying to Brazil on Delta in BusinessElite in the near future? Yes?; you’re in luck. Delta announced recently that they are unleashing their fully lie-flat product on their JFK and ATL to Sao Paulo routes utilizing the Boeing 767-400ER aircraft. “The upgrade and expansion of our New York and Atlanta flights from Sao Paulo underscores our commitment to offering our customers in Brazil a superior travel experience,” said Nicolas Ferri, Delta’s vice president – Latin America and the Caribbean. “In addition to the popular flat-bed seats, the enhanced offerings in BusinessElite include upgraded in-flight entertainment, fine dining and wines, noise-canceling headphones and other amenities.”
-The Atlanta-based giant also announced the beginning of daily service from Detroit to Sao Paulo and Atlanta to Brasilia, which previously had been 5x and 6x weekly respectively.
-Etihad Airways, in tandem Boeing, announced an order for 10 Boeing 787-900 Dreamliners and Boeing 777 freighters on December 12th. Listed at a cool $2.1 billion by list price, the order would make UAE-based Ethiad the largest 787-900 operator on the planet, with 41 airplanes on order.
“Our decision to expand our Dreamliner fleet is testimony to Etihad’s commitment to operating one of the youngest and most fuel efficient fleets in the skies,” said Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, Mr. James Hogan. “Both the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the 777 Freighter offer highly attractive operating economics and will facilitate our global expansion plans by allowing us to transport passengers and cargo into new global markets from our hub in Abu Dhabi.”
-The US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that the Honolulu-based airline came in the top spot for on-time performance and fewest cancellations in October 2011. Overall Hawaiian logged a 94.7% on-time arrival rate, and a cancellation rate of 0.2%, or 9 out of 5,485. We know it is just one month, but still, that is impressive.
-December 14th saw the roll-out of JALs first Boeing 787 expected to go into service, and the first airplane to see their latest livery. The airline has said the aircraft will fly their first 787 route, with non-stop service between Tokyo and Boston.
-Not really news to most of us airline watchers by now, but Continental officially disappeared from the global ATC airwaves on November 30th as the airline merged with United under a single operating certificate. “I would like to thank the teams at United, Continental, the FAA, the Department of Transportation and the many regulatory authorities around the globe who put tremendous time and effort into our achieving a single operating certificate,” said United’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Smisek. “While we have much work ahead of us as we integrate these two great carriers, this is a significant milestone.”
-The Chicago-based carrier announced new daily service from its Washington Dulles hub to Qatar, via Dubai, beginning May 1, 2012 on the Boeing 77-200 in mid-December. “This new service will improve travel options for our customers at both ends of the route,” said Andrew Buchanan, United’s director of international planning. “The Doha flights are timed to provide convenient connections to and from destinations across North America.” Hold onto your lids though, the flight is still subject to government approval.
-Tempe AZ-based US Airways unveiled a new in-flight magazine early this month, “sporting a fresh new look and presenting readers with stories about the airline, its employees and the people who fly it”, according to a company press release.
Highlights of the revamped magazine will include sections each month called “Did You Know” and “Making it Happen,” which explain some of the inner workings of the airline. According to the release, readers will have a chance to win a $500 cash card by sharing their comments on the new magazine. We look forward to reading it the next time we’re on board.