Fleet Developments

This section of your weekly update will keep you up to date on all the key aircraft orders and deliveries and what they could mean for the route development community.  From fleet expansion and the potential for network growth, including delivery dates where known; to the arrival of new aircraft types and how they will change airline operations, this is the area to keep track of airline fleet developments.


Independent Indian carrier Jet Airways is to boost capacity on its flights from Mumbai to Hong Kong and Newark via Brussels through the introduction of Boeing 777-300ERs on each of the routes.  From July 28 it will replace an Airbus A330-200 on the Hong Kong flight, marking the introduction of a First Class product on the route, while from September 16, two of its seven weekly flights to Newark Liberty International Airport via Brussels, will also be upgraded from the A330-200 to the 777-300ER.  These changes are expected to continue through to the end of the winter schedules in March 2012.  The introduction of the 777-300ERs on these two flights will also enable an A330-200 to be redeployed on Jet Airways’ daily Delhi – Singapore service from September 14 through to March 1, 2012.  The carrier currently utilises a 737-800 on the link.  The capacity increase will enable it to boost its share of the market and potentially overtake Air India in terms of passenger numbers.  In the past year an estimated 294,000 O&D travellers used the route with Singapore Airlines accounting for just over half of the traffic.  However, Air India and Jet Airways handled approximately 54,000 and 52,000 passengers respectively.


Republic Airways Holdings has amended its contract to provide regional jet capacity for Delta Air Lines.  Under the terms of the new agreement it will operate six additional Embraer 170s for the US major.  These will be placed into service between July and October for a six-year period.  This deal is in addition to the eight aircraft Republic Airways agreed to operate for Delta earlier this year.  All 14 E170s will be in service by October 1, according to the company and will bring the fleet it operates on behalf of Delta to 54 aircraft: 16 E175s, 14 E170s, and 24 ERJ 145s.  The six E170 aircraft are currently operating in service under Republic's branded operation, Frontier Airlines.  This fleet reallocation furthers the company's plans to remove all E170 aircraft from the Frontier operation and provides the opportunity to make network adjustments and capacity reductions to create better efficiency and lower costs for the branded operation.  “These fleet adjustments between our contract and branded operations allow us to maximise our aircraft portfolio in the most cost-effective way,” said Bryan Bedford, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Republic Airways.  “In light of current oil prices, we will continue to focus on developing Frontier’s most successful and profitable routes while managing capacity at responsible levels.”


The long-running saga over Air Zimbabwe’s proposed acquisition of two Airbus A340-500s has taken another twist after it was revealed that it has now agreed terms to introduce the two widebodied jets.  Last month Jonathan Kadzura, Chairman, Air Zimbabwe, said that the deal had been put on hold indefinitely, but that it remained the management’s proposal to renew the airline’s long-haul fleet - its two 767-200s are now more than 20 years old having been delivered new to the airline in November 1989 and October 1990.  The proposed deal had been met with surprise when it was first mooted last year.  The African flag carrier had suggested that it was to replace its two Boeing 767-200s with two of the long-range jets and said that it had agreed a deal in principle with the European manufacturer for two aircraft originally ordered by another airline.  However, it appeared that the contract failed to be formalised after the airline was unable to raise the funds for the acquisition.  The aircraft were originally due for delivery last November and this January to serve the carrier’s main routes from Harare to Beijing and London.  It now emerges that this proposed deal may indeed have now been signed and Air Zimbabwe will receive the jets in June this year.  The deal is said to have been completed with the help of China’s Sonangol to bypass US and European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe.  The Zimbabwe Independent suggests that the government used proceeds from diamond sales to acquire the aircraft, although another report claims that Sonangol has acquired the aircraft outright themselves.


Papua New Guinean start-up carrier Travel Air will shortly take delivery of a single Fokker 50 as it gears-up for its launch.  The airline, based in Madang, the capital of the northern coastal region of the same name, plans to operate a range of domestic services after securing its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Papua New Guinea.  Travel Air plans to operate three Fokker 50s but will initially use just a single aircraft.  This turboprop is due to be delivered later this month having been rolled out of the paintshop at Maastricht Airport in the Netherlands in the carrier’s full livery.  Travel Air is part of the SWT Group, owned by Tolai businessman Eremas Wartoto.


Syrian Air is expected to return at least one of its Boeing 747SPs to scheduled passenger service three years after it retired the type from operation.  The aircraft is tentatively scheduled to operate eights flights per week to five different Middle Eastern destinations between the start of July and the end of October.  According to the carrier’s current GDS schedule, the Jumbo Jet will replace Airbus A320s on one of three weekly flights to Abu Dhabi and Dammam as well as two of three weekly services to Algiers, five weekly links to Jeddah and eight rotations to Dubai.  Syrian Air has two 747SPs, both of which are currently in storage.  They have each seen more than 30 years of service with the carrier having been delivered new in May and July 1976.  They are configured in a two-class 324-seat layout with 16 First Class and 208 Economy seats and their introduction will therefore result in a small increase in capacity on each of the five routes.

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