Back in the 1990s, a new American low-cost-carrier with an out-of-the-box idea was proposed. Although, it failed to get off the ground multiple times. Meet Family Airlines which is now Avatar Airlines.
Meet Family Airlines (1990s)
Photo from WikiCommons taken by Torsten Maiwald
Plans for Family Airlines were announced in 1992. The goal was to offer cheap fares. However, the airline was not trying to just sell low fares. It was trying to sell a family focused travel experience.
It was planning a fleet of all Boeing 747s. There would be approximately 581 seats in a two class configuration.
The airline was planning to launch flights initially from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, Miami, and Newark in 1992. Shortly after, the airline planed to launch flights to Boston, Honolulu, Phoenix, and San Francisco. But, the airline was missing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) blessing.
In March 1993, the FAA said that it would no longer process the airlines’ application. Plans for the start-up were scrapped, but it did not end without a fight.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) reviewed the law suits in April, and the founder of Family Airlines, Barry Michaels, was asked to relinquish control of the proposed airline. He complied.
Not so Family Friendly
Three years later, Family Airlines was back in the news, and it was not good publicity.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a suit against Mr. Michaels and his wife, Mrs. Michaels, for fraudulently offering unregistered stock for the airline. They were required to return $363,306 to the investors, and they had to pay $181,000 per person in civil penalties.
We’re Back (2008)
In 2008, Family Airlines filed another application with the DOT. This time, the airline’s plan looked like it had a greater chance of failing as the market was in far worse shape than the original Family Airlines in the early 1990s.
There were no real big changes to the 2008 business plan when compared to the original plan from the 1990s.
Cranky Flier (Brett Snyder) posted some of the Q&As from its 2008 website. One of the Q&As asked “why start an airline today?” Family Airlines’ answer: “The timing could not be better! With the traditional ‘pre-deregulation’ airlines about to go bankrupt and the newer ones unable to fill their vacancy (mainly due to higher operating cost and lack of capacity), the Family Airlines way is a sure success. No airline today can compete on a fare basis, in the markets proposed to be serviced by Family Airlines.”
Snyder also listed a few fun tidbits from the 355 page application Family Airlines had to fill out with the DOT. All statements in quotations are directly from the DOT report Family Airlines filled out.
Family Airlines was planning on a 100% load factor on every flight
The airline was planning to be profitable by the fourth month
It was planning a 5.5 cent cost per seat which would be quite the challenge on a Boeing 747 between Las Vegas and Phoenix
Your flight attendants would be your entertainment: “While on board, passengers will enjoy an innovative entertainment experience brought forth by many of Family’s flight attendants who are would-be “headliners” that love the thought of entertaining others and intent on creating a pleasant flying experience for our passengers.”
They were going to take a similar approach to Spirit, but you would get free gifts: “Nearly all areas of the aircraft are available for advertising including the exterior hull, wing, tail, overhead bins, seat backs, tray tables, video screens etc., and would be available for purchase on a yearly contract. Upon de-boarding, passengers on most flights will receive an assortment of all types of promotional items as a free gift from our sponsors just for flying Family Airlines“
Family Airlines even joined the Airliners.net forums to keep everybody posted on the start-up. Some Airliners.net members will even tell you that the airline was defending itself and its business plan on the forums.
Plus, the airline went as far as painting a Boeing 747 in the Family Airlines Livery.
A year after filing its application with the DOT, Family Airlines heard back from the DOT about its application.
Surprised? Most people were not. The DOT basically said that Family Airlines would need to make many changes in order to get off the ground. The letter from the DOT sent to the start-up was a scathing review of the entire airline.
The DOT was concerned about several things. First, it did not like that Barry Michaels would continue to be involved after committing fraud with the original Family Airlines back in the 1990s. Additionally, the airline never seemed to get its official address right, and the DOT did not believe that it would have enough money to start up.
2009 would be the last we would hear of Family Airlines. Well, sort of.
A Third Time is a Charm (2010)
Screenshot of Avatar Vacations from its website www.avatarairlines.com
Did you think they were going to give up? In 2010, Family Airlines was back in the news again, but this time, it changed its identity. Meet the new Family Airlines, Avatar Airlines.
Avatar Airlines was basically Family Airlines but with a different name. Barry Michaels was still going to be the CEO, and the airline was still planning a fleet of all Boeing 747s.
At the end of 2010, the DOT asked Mr. Michaels for an update about Avatar.
In January 2011, Mr. Michaels sent an eight page letter to the DOT. In the letter, he discussed Avatar’s all Boeing 747 fleet (42 business class seats and 539 economy seats), how the airline would also sell vacation packages, airline catering (they “had preliminary meetings with The Cheesecake Factory, ‘Coca Cola Company, Monster Energy Drink and Starbucks”), shareholders, information about funding the start-up, and he included the biographies of the top executives.
Avatar Airlines never received approval from the DOT to begin operations, and Barry Michaels stepped down as CEO in 2012.
No, Really the Fourth Time is a Charm
Screenshot of AvatarAirlines.com
Yes, Avatar is back. Earlier this year, it started corresponding with the DOT, and it filed another application with the DOT to commence operations.
According to its 2014 media kit, “Avatar’s business plan is unique, incorporating six individual profit centers on conjunction with the exclusive use of the Boeing 747 aircraft equipped with 539 economy seats and 42 business class seats, resulting in the industry’s lowest cost per seat mile. this allows Avatar to offer everyday fares between $19 to $99, depending on the destination and time of purchase.”
One of the ways Avatar Airlines plans to brand. Screenshot from the 2014 Avatar Airlines Media Kit located on its website
The airline also states in the media kit: “It’s simple: Big airplanes carrying maximum number of seats combined with fares which are low enough and markets which are large enough to guarantee 100% load factors.”
The airline plans to make money through passenger ticketing, cargo, catering, in-flight entertainment, advertising and promotions (branding), and Avatar Vacations.
Avatar plans to equip its fleet with on-board satellite Wi-Fi capability as part of its in-flight entertainment profit center
“A typical flight from New York to Los Angeles on a 747 would save about 30 minutes of air time, compared to that same flight on a 737″
“Passengers are encouraged to use their own devices, or for a nominal fee, rent a portable hi-tech device from Avatar”
“Avatar thinks it’s outrageous that passengers should have to pay to bring a reasonable amount of luggage with them on a flight. Avatar plans to “roll back the clock” to the good old days when each passenger was permitted to check two normal pieces of luggage into cargo for no fee, in addition to standard carry-on bags.”
“Avatar plans to partner up with some of the most popular restaurants and eateries to give our passengers the luxury of choice, whether it’s 5-star or fast food. Pre-order your meals at the time of ticket purchase, and look forward to your favorite on-the-ground dining cuisine at 40,000 feet in the air.”
Although the information above is quite similar to its other start-up attempts, there have been several changes.
Avatar Airlines relocated to Boca Raton, Florida. Also, there have been several changes to the airlines management positions. Mr. Michaels was replaced with former TWA Senior VP, Marvin Ruthenberg.
Will Avatar Airlines finally succeed? Has it made the necessary changes to receive the DOT’s and FAA’s blessing to commence operations? We will have to wait and see. Comment your thoughts below.
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren is the editor responsible for this story. Please do not hesitate to contact him for any questions or concerns at Jeremy.Lindgren@airchive.com.
This morning, Frontier Airlines announced plans to more than double its operations at Cleveland Hopkins.
In mid-June, it will add flights to Atlanta, GA (ATL), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (FLL), Fort Myers, Fla. (RSW), Orlando, Fla. (MCO) Phoenix, Ariz. (PHX), Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU) and Tampa, Fla. (TPA) on June 13, 2014. Additionally, the airline will launch seasonal flights to Seattle on June 15.
Frontier’s Cleveland Route Map Generated by GCMap.com
Frontier’s growth appears to be in response to United Airlines’ decision to de-hub the airport earlier this year. The airline announced that it would be reducing daily departures by more than 64% over three stages beginning next month.
United announced that it would cut over a dozen cities from Cleveland, including Atlanta, GA (ATL), Phoenix, Ariz. (PHX), and Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU). Frontier will be able to replace the void United created between Cleveland and Phoenix. However, Frontier will not be the only airline to serve Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. Recently, Delta announced plans to launch flights to RDU, and it announced plans to go all mainline on flights between Atlanta and Cleveland this summer.
“As the only true low-fare carrier at Cleveland, we’re excited to double our destination choices,” said Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president, commercial. “We are confident customers will love our ultra-low fares, more choices, and friendly service.”
“We are more than pleased Frontier Airlines has seen an opportunity to bring more air service to the Northeast Ohio region,” said Airport Director Ricky Smith. “Frontier has shown us they have extreme confidence in this market and would like to continue growing in Cleveland.”
Frontier Airlines will also increase weekly flights to Denver from five to twelve. The carrier already connects Cleveland with Denver, Colorado and Trenton, New Jersey, and it flies to Cancun and Punta Cana in partnership with Apple Vacations.
Route: Atlanta Effective: June 13, 2014 Frequency: Mon/Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat Aircraft: A320
Route: Fort Lauderdale Effective: June 14, 2014 Frequency: Mon/Wed/Sat Aircraft: A320
Route: Fort Myers Effective: June 13, 2014 Frequency: Wed/Fri/Sun Aircraft: A320
Route: Phoenix Effective: June 13, 2014 Frequency: Mon/Wed/Fri Aircraft: A320
Route: Tampa Effective: June 15, 2014 Frequency: Tues/Thurs/Sun Aircraft: A320
Lee Thomas, who heads the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s air service committee, told The Plain Dealer that several of the new Frontier flights are more business-related (Atlanta and Raleight-Durham) while the others are more leisure destinations.
With United’s service reductions looming to take place, the rock and roll city has received a lot of attention with airlines looking to grow their operations. Will they continue to grow in Cleveland? Will Frontier have success with its rapid growth plan? We will have to wait and see.
By Airchive Staff / Published March 7, 2014
Last updated Wednesday 3/12 @ 1030 EDT
UPDATE 1030EDT, Wednesday:
Photo courtesy Aero Icarus, Creative Commons
The search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 grew overnight as lead after lead fell apart.
Most notably, reports that had come out yesterday claiming that the military confirmed that they tracked the jet as it took a west-bound turn out over the Strait of Malacca have proved erroneous. The Malaysian Air Force has since released a statement which said that they have never made such a claim. It did state, however, that it has not ruled out the possibility that it did make such a turn.
It later added that it had noticed something curious on the radar headed in that direction, but that it could not confirm what it was. Reports are stating that American assistance has been brought it to help interpret the data.
Chinese authorities also announced overnight (US time) that they would begin searching for the jet on the mainland, while Vietnamese officials said they would scale back search efforts until more concrete information became available. At the same time, Malaysian authorities expanded the area into the Andaman Sea, prompting India to join the search efforts.
Meanwhile, in the latest curious twist, ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff obtained an email from an oil rig worker off the coast of Vietnam that claims the man saw the flight intact and burning at a high altitude. Vietnamese officials have said they did not find anything in that region, while Woodruff admitted on his twitter account (@BobWoodruff) that it “could be a hoax”.
For the fifth consecutive day, where flight 370 went and what happened remains a mystery.
UPDATE 1855EDT, Tuesday:
Questions were the theme of the day as virtually no answers on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370 appeared on the horizon, literally or figuratively. The situation remains functionally unchanged from our last update eight hours ago, but here is our recap:
The Malaysian military has reported it has primary radar evidence that the airplane veered off course after losing contact. After that, details are sketchy. Initial reports have said the Boeing 777-200ER was last spotted headed due west, cruising at 29,500 feet off the coast of Malaysia in the Malacca Strait. Follow-up reports have quoted senior military officials as saying the airplane was believed to have been flying “low”. In either case, the new path places the jet hundreds of miles off course and headed in a completely different direction.
Current official search regions. The black square represents the last known position of the jet by civil radar records. The yellow square represents the last known position reported by the Malaysian military. The flight should’ve headed from the black square in a north easterly direction toward Beijing.
Subsequent reports have also since come out that have called the claims into question. Notably, NBC reported that senior non-military officials in the Malaysian government have not made any such claims, underscoring what appears to be an increasingly disorganized response from the government.
Separately, a report appeared in the NewScientist, claiming that Rolls Royce received two automatically dispatched ACARS messages from the jet on its Trent 800 engines. The contents of the messages, and whether they add anything at all to the investigation, is not clear. If true (the keys words in everything we have seen today), it could mean the airline has several ACARS messages as well. Though again, the messages may not raise any red flags.
The search area has now been expanded to cover land between the two bodies of water, as well as throughout Vietnam.
Finally, the issue of two stolen passports appears to have been resolved. Interpol noted earlier today that it was increasingly convinced that neither of the two Iranian men had any terrorist connections. While the two are presently in the clear, authorities have not ruled others on the airplane with malicious intent. Investigators have been pouring through photos and CCT tapes from the airport in Kuala Lumpur to try to find any behavioral abnormalities in any of the passengers.
Four days later, there are still far more questions than answers.
UPDATE 1030EDT, Tuesday:
Several important developments have emerged overnight (US time) on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370.
First, reports have come out in the last few hours that the Malaysian military tracked the Boeing 777-200ER as it turned west and headed out over the Strait of Malacca. According to a Times of India report the flight dropped altitude from 35,000 feet down to 29,500 feet. It was last seen around 2:40AM MYT on Saturday near the northern end of the straight. If true, it would mean the jet was tracked for more than an hour after civilian ATC lost contact roughly one hour into into the flight’s journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Second, one of the stolen passports belonged to an Iranian who was ultimately planning to seek asylum in Germany. The other man has also been identified as an Iranian in his late 20s. Both entered Malaysia on the 28th of last month.
Authorities are still not ruling out the possibility of terrorism, but have said that they are reducing the odds there is a connection between the two gentlemen and the missing jet. “We believe he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group, and we believe he was trying to migrate to Germany,” Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar reported to a news conference. He added that authorities have been studying tapes from the airport to study behavioral patterns of all passengers on board in an attempt to garner fresh leads.
Current search area as of March 11, 2014, excluding Vietnamese land searches. Red square with black fill = last known location by civil authorities. Red square with yellow fill = alleged last known location by military authorities.
Malaysia Airline released additional information on the airplane in a statement, stating that it “was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 2002 and have since recorded 53,465.21 hours with a total of 7525 cycles. All Malaysia Airlines aircraft are equipped with continuous data monitoring system called the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) which transmits data automatically.”
All other information remains the same as this situation continues to go from bizarre to even more bizarre.
UPDATE 2015EDT, Monday:
Over three days have now past since Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared, and it appears search crews are no closer to discovering the airplane than when it first was lost.
Leads have continued to come and go through the day with nothing sticking, including several suspected debris fields and oil slicks. In response Malaysian officials have widened the search area considerably, with it now extending from the Malacca Strait to the South China Sea, well outside the original flight path. Ten nations along with dozens of ships and airplanes have been involved in the search.
Several ongoing threads remain both untied and unproven. European security agency Interpol is reportedly investigating the identities of up to four persons listed aboard the flight. Malaysian authorities have suggested that two of the disputed passengers, who were traveling on stolen passports from different European nations, bought tickets together, possibly through an Iranian middle man. Just the same as earlier, however, no connection has been established.
Also still unknown is whether or not the airplane had begun to turn back toward Malaysia based on military radar. The possibility, however, was a major driver behind the decision to expand the search area.
Doubts have been increasing cast on the possibility of a mid-air explosion after US spy agencies reported that they did not detect any evidence of such an event (h/t @flyingwithfish, who’s been calling that for days when Reuters only ran it earlier today). The continued lack of debris field anywhere, which would have been common with a bomb or explosive decompression, has also bolstered those thoughts.
The lack of information continues to leave investigators baffled and, functionally, still at square one.
What we do know for sure is that the airplane disappeared while flying at 35,000 feet somewhere between Kuala Lumpur and the southern tip of Vietnam. The crew made no emergency distress call before vanishing, nor did the automated ACARS system report any problems. The airplane appears to have had no known maintenance issues, and the crew was experienced.
Two hundred and thirty-nine were aboard, including at least two traveling with stolen passports. Malaysian authorities did not check the passports against an Interpol database that would have registered them stolen.
How, whether, and to what extent those are related, and whatever may be true beyond that, is anyone’s guess.
UPDATE 0948EDT, Monday: Leads that once held promise evaporated overnight (US time) as the mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 continues.
The oil slick that had captivated attention early on turned out to be a dead end. Authorities, which hoped it was from the presumably downed airplane, discovered it was instead bunker oil used in cargo ships after lab tests.
Reports from Vietnam that had been widely circulated about finding an aircraft door and part of a tail also turned up empty. Authorities searching in the same area were unable to relocate either object, while other reports have said the ‘door’ turned out to be logs tied together. The director general of the Malaysian civil aviation department added that the claims were “not verified officially by the Vietnamese authorities.”
Malaysian officials also say they have confirmed the identity of one of two passengers who used fake passports to board the plane. The person had no record of entering the country legally. No other details were provided, and no nexus between the stolen passports and the disappearance has been established.
The airplane seemingly upped and vanished three days ago after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. The almost twelve year old Boeing 777-2000ER was traveling at 35,000 feet over the ocean when it abruptly lost all contact with 239 aboard. It has not been seen or heard from since.
Rescue crews from nine nations have joined in the search, which continues by sea through the night and will resume by air Tuesday morning.
UPDATE 0045EDT, Monday:
A press conference was recently held with another update. Here is what we know:
Malaysian’s Civil Aviation Department confirms that they have found no trace of the aircraft, and they cannot confirm that the oil slick is from the aircraft. Additionally, they have not detected any signals from the Boeing 777′s black box.
Officials also say that every angle is being looked at, and they are “not discounting the theory of terrorism” says the department. As far as a rumor that a Chinese group is taking responsibility, government officials have no comment.
Malaysian government officials have confirmed that five passengers did not board the missing flight. They also confirm that all unaccompanied baggage was removed from the aircraft before take off.
The airline will start flying the families of MH370 passengers to Kuala Lumpu soon.
The search continues. Stay tuned…
UPDATE 2100EDT, Sunday:
Unfortunately, there is no new news to report at this time.
The search continues for the jet via sea and once again air, as daylight has rose over the region a few hours ago. Going forward through the day, hopes are that several search ships can locate debris that is suspected to have come from the missing jet.
Vietnamese air search crews found the two items yesterday (Sunday local time in the area) as darkness fell, which prohibited the crews from being able to positively ID the suspicious objects. Officials in the country have said they believe it was an aircraft door. Vessels were dispatched to the area, located 50 some miles off a Vietnamese island. It is unclear whether or not they have reached the area.
UPDATE 1830EDT, Sunday:
As we approach two and one half days since Malaysian Airlines System 370 went missing somewhere between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, little is still known.
Vietnamese authorities are still claiming that they spotted two items of interest in the ocean. The two objects could not be confirmed to be from the aircraft, though reports suggested it to be a door and a section of tail. Rescue ships are en route to the last known position, roughly fifty miles south-southwest of Tho Chu Island, Vietnam, after search planes had to turn back after sunset.
The Chinese, meanwhile, who had earlier claimed to have discovered a debris field, have gone silent on the matter ever since.
The search effort thus continues, with forty ships and thirty-four aircraft from nine nations traversing multiple sections of sea in the region.
The stolen passport issue remains a focus of the ongoing investigation. Malaysian has only confirmed two people traveling aboard the flight on stolen passports, both Europeans. Reports are coming out that up to two more people had been traveling aboard MAS370 with stolen passports. The issue remains unconfirmed, however.
What has been confirmed is that the airline and immigration officials failed to check the passports against an Interpol security database. Questions had arisen about how the passengers could’ve boarded with fake documents. Had that been done, the passports would’ve been flagged and the passengers in questions may have been stopped from boarding.
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reported that they have obtained CCTV images of the two in question. They declined to offer further information, citing the ongoing open investigation.
While the passport question remains under investigation, no nexus between the missing airplane and the issue has been determined.
Reports that the airplane may have tried to turn around still remain unconfirmed. A report that another airplane had contacted MAS370 well after ATC had lost contact has not been fully substantiated.
Meanwhile, families of the passengers aboard the flight grew frustrated. According to reports from CNN, a group of Chinese relatives signed a petition in Beijing that the airline tell the truth, and requested the Chinese government to step in to force more information. The airline had dispatched a care team to the Chinese capital Saturday night, and announced that family members would be transported to the site of the wreck as soon as it could be found.
UPDATE 1605EDT, Sunday:
Yesterday, we learned that at least two passengers were able to board MH 370 with stolen passports. The issue has prompted many questions, primarily how this could’ve happened. We reached out to attorney Adam Wasch with Wasch Law LLP for some insight:
“If we assume that the passengers on board with stolen passports had something to do with the Malaysia Airlines MH370 incident, which is unconfirmed at this point, then it could be argued that the airline and Malaysian authorities were ‘negligent’ in allowing those persons on board,” says attorney Adam Wasch with Wasch Law LLP.
“This type of argument passed muster in U.S. federal court in the 9/11 civil action against American Airlines for allowing terrorists with boxcutters on board before the case settled. However, in this case, a claim against the airline would be governed by the Montreal Convention because this was an international flight between two signatory countries. The convention asks only whether there was an ‘accident’ on board as that term has been defined by international and U.S. courts, and the answer to that question here is probably ‘yes.’”
UPDATE 1045EDT Sunday:
There have been a number of developments to the ongoing MAS370 incident overnight.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, a Vietnamese Navy search plane found aircraft components that they believe may be an inner door and a piece of the vertical stabilizer (tail), according to a Wall St Journal report. The parts are suspected of being from the ill fated, missing MH370 777-200ER and were located about 50 miles south-southwest of Tho Chu Island, Vietnam off the coast of mainland Vietnam.
The objects were not picked up by the air crews, which were forced to turn back as darkness fell. Ships, which are not subject the restriction on daylight, are en route to the last known location. Some forty ships continued searching through the night. Roughly thirty aircraft will begin again in the morning.
A screen shot of the two stolen passports, with sequential ticket numbers They were both to connect to KL 898 together. Thanks to Steven Frischling for forwarding these.
According to Reuters, the possibility of foul play mounted as the Malaysian Transport Minister said authorities were checking the identities of two other passengers in addition to the the two men who were already know to be flying on stolen Austrian and Italian passports. “All four names are with me…We are looking at all possibilities. We cannot jump the gun. Our focus is now to find the plane”, said Malaysian Transport and Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein. He reiterated the news that the FBI had been called in to assist, after which authorities then retracted back to just two stolen passports.
Of course, the big question remains as to how the passengers carrying the stolen passports cleared airline check-in, immigration, customs, and boarding. The Malaysian government has access to biometric e-passport technology combining an RFID chip, digital photo, and fingerprint identification, and was the first country in the world to deploy it back in 1998. The technology was invented in Malaysia. It’s unclear why it wasn’t deployed here.
Still in a press conference, Malaysia’s Inspector-General and Police Chief Khalid Abu Baker indicated that though they continue to consider the possibility a terrorist act bought down the lane, they don’t necessarily consider it the most likely cause it went missing – yet.
In a new release from Malaysia Airlines said it is “fearing for the worst”, and had dispatched a “discovery management recovery specialist from Atlanta along with 94 caregivers consisting of well-trained staff and also Tzu Chi Foundation members to provide emotional support to the families. The airline will also be deploying another set of caregivers to Beijing later today.”
Family members of the MH370 passengers from Beijing who wish to travel will be flown in stages to Kuala Lumpur on the available flights. We are also communicating with the families from other nations to similarly arrange for their travel to Kuala Lumpur.
In the event flight MH370 is located, a Response Control Centre (RCC) in the area will be activated to support the needs of families.
We will continue with updates here as they happen and on our social media outlets.
UPDATE 0430EDT Sunday:
Another press conference was held, and MAS has confirmed that two passports did not belong to two of the passengers on MH370.
The stolen passports were linked to two tickets that were purchased at the same time, and the ticket numbers only differ by one number (one ends with 99 and the next ends with 00). @flyingwithfish reports that two passengers who used the stolen passports were flying: KUL-PEK-CPH and KUL-PEK-FRA.
UPDATE 0245EDT Sunday:
China’s XH News is reporting that Chinese rescue forces have reached the suspected site of the missing aircraft.
UPDATE 0050EST Sunday:
Officials are investigating the identities of four passengers that were believed to have been on MH370, and the FBI will send specialists to Kuala Lumpur to assist with the investigation.
It is believed that at least two passengers were travelling on stolen passports.
Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet turned back before vanishing, Malaysia’s air force chief said Sunday.
22 aircraft and 40 ships are part of the search and rescue team.
MAS says there are no plans to ground the 777 fleet.
The next press conference is scheduled for 3 AM EST/ 12 AM PST.
UPDATE 2020EST Saturday:
A Malaysian official says that search crews seated all night. There has been no trace of the aircraft, and the search area is being expanded.
Another press conference is expected in two two hours.
UPDATE 1915EST Saturday:
According to the LA Times, the FBI is deploying agents and technical experts to assist in the investigation of MAS 370. The agency will join the investigation as four Americans were on board the flight.
U.S. officials said they are working to determine if this was an act of terrorism, but have said n no evidence thus far that leads them to believe this.
UPDATE 1815EST Saturday:
As of 1815EST, there have been no major updates to the search and rescue mission of MAS 370. Approximately 24 hours after contact was lost with the airplane, MAS issued a press release, highlights from which are found below:
Sepang, 9 March 2014: Malaysia Airlines humbly asks all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for flight MH370.
Immediate families of passengers are advised to gather at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Travel arrangements and expenses will be borne by Malaysia Airlines. Once, the whereabouts of the aircraft is determined, Malaysia Airlines will fly members of the family to the location.
Our sole priority now is to provide all assistance to the families of the passengers and our staff. We are also working closely with the concerned authorities in the search and rescue operation.
We expect more details at the next press conference which is scheduled for 9AM local time Sunday morning.
UPDATE 1600EST Saturday:
The Gulf of Thailand averages approximately 150 feet deep (45 meters), with the deepest point at approximately 250 feet (80 meters). It appears the search for MAS 370 should be easier than searching for Air France 447. (Hat tip Robert Mann)
Map of Gulf of Thailand Courtesy of WorldAtlas.com
UPDATE 1335EST Saturday:
Moments ago, another press conference was held by MAS. The carrier has confirmed that authorities are still searching for the aircraft by sea, though air searching will not resume until Sunday morning.
However, the airline has not confirmed that the oil slick is from the missing flight. It is not confirming or denying reports about possible fake passports.
UPDATE 1200EST Saturday:
So far, there has been no confirmation that the aircraft has been found. We have confirmed reports that Vietnamese search aircraft have found two narrowly-spaced oil slicks in the South China Sea, but officials have not confirmed if the oil slick belongs to MAS 370 . Boats have been dispatched to the area where the oil slick was found to investigate.
One Austrian and one Italian were reported to have been aboard the missing plane, but foreign ministry officials say they were not on-board the aircraft.
Officials in Vienna say the man is safe at home and his passport was stolen. “Our embassy got the information that there was an Austrian on board. That was the passenger list from Malaysia Airlines. Our system came back with a note that this is a stolen passport,” the ministry official said. The passport was reported stolen two years ago while the person was traveling in Thailand, according to the spokesperson.
U.S. officials told NBC News, “We are aware of the reporting on the two stolen passports,” one senior official said. “We have not determined a nexus to terrorism yet, although it’s still very early, and that’s by no means definitive.”
We will bring you the latest as soon as we learn more.
UPDATE: 1125EST Saturday:
Video (h/t to Sylvain Faust @sylvainfaust) of the last 9 minutes of flight before MAS 370 vanished.
UPDATE: 0945EST Saturday:
Vietnamese search aircraft have found two narrowly-spaced oil slicks in the South China Sea. However, they have not verified if it belongs to MAS 370. The air search has been called off for the night, and will resume tomorrow morning. However, the sea search will continue through the night.
UPDATE: 0805EST Saturday:
Over night, Malayasia Airlines (MAS) has issued new press release with a full passenger manifest which can be viewed here.
The families of all passengers on board MH370 are being informed. The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants) and 12 crew members.
An international search and rescue mission was mobilized this morning. At this stage, our search and rescue teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam have failed to find evidence of any wreckage.
The sea mission will continue while the air mission will recommence at daylight.
MAS has dispatched a care and comfort team to Beijing to assist families of those presumed to be lost. Gathered in a room at Beijing Capital Airport, Chinese relatives of the missing passengers have angrily accused the airline of depriving them of information while Chinese state media criticized what they believe to be the carrier’s poor response.
There has been mounting speculation as to what might have caused the crash. Ideas include the usual suspect including a bomb, hijacking and/or deliberate destruction of the plane, accidental shoot down by military missile or some form of military missile or military attack on airplane, and pilot suicide as in EgyptAir flight 990. On the technical front, structural failure and dual engine flame out and loss of control are in play, though both are exceptionally unlikely. Leehman News further details these possibilities.
As a massive search and rescue scene unfolded, there were earlier reports from Vietnamese state media, quoting a senior naval official that parts of the plane had been located. Malaysia’s transport minister later denied any crash scene had been identified. The last known position of MH370 before it disappeared off the radar was 065515 North (longitude) and 1033443 East (latitude).
“The search and rescue operations will continue as long as necessary,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. Reuters reports The Malaysian government has pressed 15 air force aircraft, six navy ships and three coast guard vessels into service by Malaysia. Vietnam, the country closest to where MAS 370 is thought to went down, on Saturday dispatched two navy boats from Phu Quoc island along with two jets and one helicopter from Ho Chi Minh City to search for the missing airliner. It was readying a further seven planes and nine boats to join the search effort. The governments of China and the Philippines have dispatched ships to the area for the effort while the U.S., the Phillippines, and Singapore have dispatched military planes to aid in the search.
With well over twelve hours having passed since Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight 370 went missing, we feel confident stating that the airplane is missing and presumed crashed.
If you’re just joining this thread, MAS flight 370 went missing earlier today after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. It was last heard from just prior to 0300 MYT, as it passed 125 miles off the coast of Malaysia. Two-hundred and twenty-seven souls were aboard the airplane, representing fourteen nationalities.
MAS has denied earlier reports that the airplane safely touched down in China, and has disputed reports from the Vietnamese Navy that wreckage has been found in South China Sea. It has continued to maintain that it “is still unable to determine the whereabouts” of the flight.
A massive, multinational search operation has been underway since Vietnamese ATC noted that the airplane failed to check in. Air and naval forces from China, Malaysia, and Vietnam are involved in the effort.
Speculation is, predictably, running rampant as to what could’ve caused the Boeing 777-200ER to disappear. All we know for certain is that the weather was understood to be clear, and the pilots quite experienced. Even with this being the third hull loss of this model of aircraft, the 777 has one of the best safety records in the world.
The particular airplane, understood to be registered 9M-MRO, is powered by Rolls Royce Trent engines. It was delivered to the airline in 2002.
Stay tuned to Airchive here or on our twitter @airchive for developments as this story progresses. Be patient with updates and information in the overnight hours!
UPDATE MAR 8 0218EST:
Boeing has released a brief statement about the incident. They are assembling and dispatching a team to provide “technical assistance to investigating authorities.
UPDATE MAR 8 0145EST:
Malaysia Airlines reports the airplane has still not been located in a press conference. It added that it was aware of a report that the Vietnamese Navy had located the wreckage but would not confirm, stating that it was working with the Malaysian military to confirm the account with the Vietnamese. It has since denied reports that the airplane had possibly landed in China.
A vast search and rescue operation has since been under way. Three nations, China, Malaysia, and Vietnam have joined in the search. Both air and sea assets have been deployed, including ships, helicopters, and C-130 aircraft.
The company added that it would be holding press conferences every two hours.
UPDATE MAR 8 0012EST:
Malaysia Airline System declines to confirm or deny reports attributed to the Vietnamese Navy that MH370 has been located in the South China Sea.
UPDATE MAR 7 2335EST:
A joint rescue operation is underway with China, Malaysia, and Vietnam, according to the airline.
MAS confirmed the last point of contact with the airplane was 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu over South China Sea. The airline said there was no bad weather in the area at the time of the disappearance.
So far, the carrier is reporting there was no distress call.
UPDATE MAR 7 2300EST:
Reuters has reported that earlier reports of a signal turning up from the airplane off the coast of Vietnam are false.
UPDATE MAR 7 2230EST:
The Malaysia Airlines press conference has come and gone, and, unfortunately, very little new information was revealed.
The captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, joined the airline in 1981, and had logged 18,365 flying hours. The first officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, 27, joined in 2007 and had 2,763 hours logged. Both are Malaysian.
The passengers comprised 14 different nationalities, including 153 total Chinese (including one infant), 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, 7 Australians, 3 French, and 4 total Americans (including one infant), among others.
Passengers of thirteen nationalities were onboard MH370, including around 158 160 153 Chinese nationals, according to CCTV.
Again, there have been no confirmed sightings of the aircraft, airborne or otherwise. However, it is now four hours overdue into Beijing, and would no longer have fuel at this point.
UPDATE MAR 7 2100EST:
Malaysia Airlines Vice President of Operations Fuad Sharuji tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the company has “no idea” where Malaysia 370 may be.
UPDATE MAR 7 2049EST:
Malaysia Airline System CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya issues statement, offering “thoughts and prayers” for affected passengers and families. Malaysia also reports they are notifying next-of-kin. Statement is reprinted in its entirety below.
We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact at 2.40am (local Malaysia time) today.
Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing B777-200 aircraft. The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members. The passengers were of 13 different nationalities. Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft. Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew.
Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members. The airline will provide regular updates on the situation.
There is still no updated information on the aircraft’s location or status.
UPDATE MAR 7 2028EST:
The People’s Republic of China reports that MH370 did not enter Chinese airspace or make contact with Chinese controllers.
Malaysia Airlines announced over Facebook that Subang air traffic control ‘lost contact’ with flight MH370 at 2:40am local time on March 8 (GMT +8 hours), slightly more than six hours ago. The Boeing 777-200ER, registered 9M-MRO, was operating Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Beijing (PEK), and was due to land a Beijing at 6:30am local time the same day. The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and twelve crew members, for a total of 239 people onboard.
Overnight weather in Kampung Subang, Malaysia was reported as cloudy, but precipitation-free.
At this time, a crash is presumed. If correct, this would be only the third hull loss of a Boeing 777 aircraft, after the British Airways crash at London-Heathrow in 2009 and the Asiana crash in San Francisco last year.
In over forty years of operation, Malaysia aircraft had only been involved in two fatal accidents prior to today. In 1977, flight 653, a Boeing 737-200, was hijacked and crashed near the village of Tanjung Kupang, killing 100. In 1995, a Malaysia Fokker 50 crashed on approach to Tawau, Borneo, killing 34.
Once again, this is a breaking story. Airchive will update this article with more information as it becomes available.
Airchive staff Chris Sloan in Miami, Taylor Michie in New York, Jack Harty in Houston, Vinay Bhaskara in Chicago, and Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren in Seattle are contributing to this report. Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com.
In January, EVA Air announced big plans to expand in North America, and yesterday, EVA Air’s Chairman, K. W. Chang, said that the company is seeing steady demand growth on its North American routes according to a story by EToday News. He went on to say that service will be increased, and next year, he says EVA Air is planning to launch flights to Chicago and Houston.
Many have speculated that EVA Air would launch flights to Houston for quite some time. Recently, Houston has been growing its reach by adding new routes and airlines to Asia. In EVA’s case, launching flights to Houston and Chicago will be good for the airline as it will be able to codeshare with United, a Star Alliance Partner.
Details about its plans to launch flights to Chicago and Houston are not known at this time.
Starting in June, the carrier will launch a two phase expansion plan which comes just as it will celebrate its first anniversary as a member of the Star Alliance Network. Phase one will increase the carrier’s weekly number of flights from 45 to 55, boosting frequency to Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Vancouver. In July, phase two will include adding additional flights to San Francisco and additional flights to Los Angeles.
In a press release, EVA Air says its average load on North America flights surpassed 80 percent in 2013, and airline executives expect it to continue climbing in 2014.
In order to help with the growth this year, it will take delivery of three new Boeing 777-300ERs in the second quarter of 2014 for long-haul flights between North America and Taiwan.
As for 2015, the carrier says that it plans to take delivery of four Boeing 777-300ERs next year, and it plans to sign a contract for 10 more Boeing 777 aircraft. It is quite possible that it will look at ordering the 777X.
—– Photo courtesy jplphoto
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.
By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren and Jack Harty / Published March 3, 2014
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced that the government will attempt to repeal key provisions of the Qantas Sale Act in a bid to prop up the nations flailing flag carrier, Qantas.
If successful, the changes could lead to substantially increased foreign ownership of the Aussie carrier as well as a split between the domestic and international arms.
The carrier announced massive losses last week, and subsequently shared plans to cut $2 billion in expenses in the coming years, including axing 5,000 full-time jobs. The airline has since been seeking government intervention in the form of debt relief and changes to the Act.
According to reports from the region, cabinet level talks regarding government debt relief and lines of credit fell through on Monday. Following the setbacks, Abott said the government would pursue amending the act. The legislation could be introduced into Parliament as early as this week.
Should the legislation pass, it would lift existing restrictions on foreign ownership of the airline, thus opening the carrier up to significant foreign investment. The carrier’s arch-rival Virgin Australia is not subject to the law, and is thus supported by substantial foreign money, including Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Etihad.
It would also force the carrier to split into two separate companies: domestic and international. The split is crucial as the Australian Air Navigation Act requires an international airline to be majority Australian-owned in order to maintain landing rights, thus capping foreign ownership stakes at 49%. There are no restrictions, however, on Australian domestic airlines being foreign owned.
Repeal of the act would place Qantas on more equal footing with Virgin, but would also increase the odds of Qantas jobs moving out of Australia.
As a result the Labor and Greens parties have already vowed to fight the bill, setting up what could be a protracted fight and an uncertain future for the airline. They claim the move would likely see massive Australian job losses and a gutting of what makes the carrier uniquely Australian. As a result, sources say that it is unlikely to pass the Senate.
Introduced in 1992, the act privatized the airline and limited foreign ownership of Qantas to 49 percent in sum total. Additionally, no single foreign entity can hold more than 25 percent of the airline’s total shares, while foreign airlines collectively can only hold up to 35 percent of the company shares combined.
Late last week Qantas reported epic-level losses of $226 million US in the second half of 2013, the largest and most recent in a string of losses. CEO Alan Joyce subsequently announced that the company needs to find $2 billion in savings.
Subsequently everything from 747s to the airplanes’ mechancis have found themselves in the cross hairs. Joyce has rolled out plans to cut 5,000 full time jobs, sell off six 747s, all 737-400s and 767s, and defer any new wide-body deliveries.
The company has been facing pressure from a strong Australian dollar, increased international competition, high fuel costs, and an ongoing price-war at home with Virgin.
—– Jack Harty and Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren contributed to this report. Contact them at Jack.Harty@airchive.com and Jeremy.Lindgren@airchive.com.
United Airlines has received tentative approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate flights between San Francisco and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. This comes several months after United applied for the rights to fly into Haneda.
Hawaiian Airlines also sought after takeoff and landing rights at Haneda. The company proposed to launch flights from Kona, Hawaii.
The Transportation Department said United’s flight from San Francisco “would introduce a new U.S. carrier at Haneda and would promote competition by giving business and leisure travelers an additional choice for connecting service.” United says it looks forward to completing the approval process.
Slots into Tokyo’s Haneda Airport are highly coveted as it is the closest airport to the city of Tokyo. Flights from the U.S. to Haneda are part of an open-skies accord between the US and Japan, which allows four daily roundtrip flights. Hawaiian operates service between Handea and Honolulu, and Delta serves Haneda from Los Angeles and Seattle.
Almost immediately after American Airlines announced that it would discontinue service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport and Haneda, United applied to take over American’s takeoff and landing rights.
Logo from the company on a presentation Courtesy of American West Jets
Another start-up airline is in the works. American West Jets has filed with the DOT to acquire Ryan International Airlines’ operating certificate and remaining assets.
The airline would be a subsidiary of American West Aircraft which is an aircraft sales and leasing company. It dates back to the 1980s.
The new company plans to be based in Las Vegas, Nevada, near McCarran International Airport.
The company aims to serve “exclusively currently un-served (or under-served) routes with a highly efficient operation.”
Ryan International Airlines Roots
American Western Aircraft purchased Ryan International Airlines’ assets and brand for $800,000, according to official documents that were obtained by Airchive.
Ryan International Airlines was based in Rockford, Illinois. It flew non-scheduled charter passenger services, including for the United States Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and others. The airline ceased operations on January 11, 2013.
American West Jets is petitioning the DOT to obtain Ryan International Airlines’ operating certificate without having to pay the fee, as the certificate had been dormant for over one year.
Should it obtain the operating certificate, it says it will be the “re-branding of the 33 year old Ryan International Airlines, and it is designed around this well-defined business model: one that uses a minimum of aircraft types, point-to-point flights ensuring low operating and marketing costs, efficiency and high level of customer service and safety.”
Initially, the carrier wants to focus on making flying to Central America easier for travelers in the South Western U.S.
Shortly after, it wants to enter the West Africa and South Pacific markets. The airline believes there is a strong demand for additional service from the southwest U.S. However, flights to West Africa will need to be initially operated from Sanford International Airport in the Orlando Florida area.
American West Jets planned routes Image courtesy of American West Jets Airlines
The company’s” west coast fuel farm” is the newly renovated 2,000,000-gallon fuel farm at San Bernardino International Airport. It expects not only to provide fuel for itself, but also to generate revenue by selling fuel to its competitors. With the fuel farm all but complete, the airline plans to open new operations offices, a heavy maintenance facility, shops, and offices at the airport.
The airline also plans to operate out of the new International Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport.
Orlando’s Sanford International Airport will be used as its gateway to Africa.
The airline plans to initially operate a fleet of Boeing 747s, L-1011s, and MD-83s.
Orlando will be the North American 747 operational hub. Each 747 will have approximately 350-400 seats.
The airline already owns two L-1011 aircraft which are operated by Sands Corporation. There will be 250 seats with Rolls Royce powered engines and the latest electronic upgrades. Initially, four L-1011s will join the fleet.
A pair of MD-83 aircraft are planned to be obtained to operate domestic flights. Each aircraft will have 144 seats.
It plans to earn enough money to eventually purchase the next generation aircraft Boeing Wide Body 777’s within a year or two to replace its older fleet.
The airline plans to operate the following:
3 flights per week between Las Vegas and Sanford
3 flights per week between San Bernardino and Sanford
2 daily flights between San Bernardino and Las Vegas
Central America flights:
3 flights per week between Las Vegas and San Jose, Costa Rica
3 flights per week between Las Vegas and Los Cabos
3 flights per week between San Bernardino and Belize
3 flights per week between San Bernardino and Los Cabos
3 flights per week between San Bernardino and Kingston, Jamaica
3 flights per week between San Bernardino and Oranjestad, Aruba
South Pacific flights:
1 flight per week between Las Vegas to Pago Pago, American Samoa
1 flight per week between Las Vegas to Brisbane, Australia
1 flight per week between San Bernardino to Chrischurch, New Zealand
1 flight per week between San Bernardino to Pago Pago, American Samoa
West African Flights:
1 flight per week between Sanford and Conakry, Guinea
1 flight per week between Sanford and Accra, Ghana
1 flight per week between Sanford and Lagos, Nigeria
1 flight per week between Sanford and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The airline plans to commence operations in May 2014. It will launch small domestic routes with an MD83, and shortly after, it will add the L-1011s for new routes to Central America. In June, it plans to receive its first Boeing 747-400 to operate flights to American Samoa and Brisbane, Australia.
One Question Remains
The news of the new start-up comes after Florida Express Jet announced that it is grounding plans to start the start-up intrastate airline. After reviewing American West Jets’ plan, it appears it has a much more aggressive plan than other start up airlines.
Did April Fool’s come early?
—- Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.
Contact the editor at email@example.com
Delta Skymiles members will begin to earn miles based on fares paid starting in 2015. The program was previously based on how far a participant flew, and marks the first major legacy carrier to make such a change.
“The current distance-based model was developed 30 years ago when fares were highly correlated to distance,” says Jeff Robertson, Delta’s vice president of SkyMiles. “We think the spend-based model allows us to invest more in our premium customers and is right for Delta today.”
Up until now, SkyMiles members who spent $500 on a flight earned the same amount of miles as one who spent $5,000. Delta’s decision to peg the reward program to a pay-more-to-play-more style is likely to anger lower tier, lower paying customers. But it will likely make the biggest spenders in the 91-million strong program quite happy.
Depending on their status, members of the program will earn between five and eleven miles per dollar spent flying on Delta. Have the SkyMiles credit card? Add another two miles per dollar, boosting the max possible earnings to 13 miles per dollar for a diamond member:
SkyMiles program status
Miles per dollar*
Miles earned with
Total miles per
*[on Delta spent] – Source info for chart from Delta Air Lines
Perhaps most importantly, however, the airline has not released fully updated redemption charts. The charts, which are used to determine how many miles are needed to earn a free upgrade to first class, or a round-trip vacation in coach to Europe, will be released at a later time. Changes, up or down, alter the value of the miles.
Still, Delta did announce a new mileage redemption structure which it says will improve award seat availability at the lowest mileage requirement levels. Also, the company will offer one-way awards at half the price of round-trip, provide additional miles + cash award options, as well as make improvements to delta.com and Delta reservations award shopping tools. Where those trips can be found in the system, is again still unclear.
Wednesday’s announcement is not the first revenue-based move the carrier has made with its loyalty program. Delta announced in January of 2013 that members would need to spend a minimum of $2,500 to qualify for the lowest status ring. Previously that feat could be achieved solely by miles flown.
Still, the revenue-based loyalty program strategy is not new. Virgin America became the first airline to tie ticket price to earning of loyalty points in 2007. JetBlue and Southwest also utilize a revenue-based model. While not a guarantee, it is likely other legacy carriers will wind up following suit.
Florida Express Jet was going to operate a fleet of Boeing 737-400 aircraft – key word “was”. Each aircraft would have had 138 seats (twelve business class seats and 116 seats in economy). Curiously, the airline planned to offer complimentary Wi-Fi, but $25 to check a bag.
The airline planned offer flights between Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee via Orlando.
Chris Curry, the director of the Tallahassee Regional Airport, said he was notified that the company would be canceling its planned service to the airport Tuesday morning. He went on to say that the carrier has hit a few roadblocks. For example, the start-up needed to raise more capital, and it was unable to secure a gate at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.
Additionally, he mentioned that Florida Express Jet did not have an agreement with the airport. Should something change, the airport is open to resuming negotiations with the airline.
Tuesday morning, Florida Express Jet’s social media accounts went dark, and it appears its Facebook account was deleted.The company’s website remains up, but the homepage only offers customers an option sign up for future news.
According to Curry, the carrier reports that all tickets have been refunded.
The signs that this venture was doomed before ever reaching the gate were popping up long before last night. The owner of this site, Chris Sloan, attempted to book a ticket on the inaugural but never received confirmation. Three days of attempting to reach the ‘carrier’ failed. Once reached, the carrier claimed the ticket was purchased from Pay Pal (untrue). It later ‘found’ the reservation and offered to send a fax of the confirmation number and
itinerary, but only sent a receipt. Subsequent attempts to cancel the itinerary via email, phone, twitter, and the website were finally met by a response from the CEO’s wife’s personal email
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to assist the family members and passengers on Asiana 214 that crashed on July 6 at San Francisco airport.
Based on the Federal Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997, all airlines are required to provide assistance after a crash by publicizing and staffing a reliable toll-free phone number for family members and passengers after a crash.
According to the DOT, Asiana failed to adhere to the family-assistance program.
The report says Asiana took two full days to contact three-quarters of the families who had family on-board the flight. The report also states that some families were not contacted until five days after the crash occurred. It also states the carrier lacked translators and personnel trained in crash response.
However, the airline said it faced challenges in reaching passengers and their relatives because many tickets were purchased through travel agents.
Additionally, the DOT argues that Asiana failed to widely publicize a telephone number for family members of those on-board. Even though a number was publicized, it was a reservation line, and it did not have a separate menu option for families and passengers.
“In the very rare event of a crash, airlines have a responsibility to provide their full support to help passengers and their families by following all the elements of their family assistance plans,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the fine. “The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier.”
Although Asiana has not commented publicly about the report, a consent agreement for the fine has been drafted.
The agreement states that Asiana says twelve employees were on duty at San Francisco at the time of the crash, and employees from Los Angeles were also brought in to assist with the response effort.
Plus, the carrier contends that a 24-hour family assistance was set up to provide clothing, food, and counseling. It further argues that its CEO was present in San Francisco from July 9 till July 27 to help deal with the crisis. Asiana argued that his presence ensured families and passengers received adequate assistance.
Based on the DOT report, Asiana is being fined $400,000. Additionally, it is being credited $100,000 to sponsor conferences and training sessions for the next two years.
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com
Southwest says it is returning a pair of slots it received from American Airlines at Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) to the FAA. It had won 27 slot pairs, giving it the right to operate 27 daily round-trip flights.
Southwest said it won a Sunday-only pair that it does not intend to use. The company told USA Today that “The Sunday only slots were not something we could use and we did not purchase them, they were included in our bundle…we will be returning them to the FAA. We do operate some Saturday only schedules in various location, but not Sunday only.”
To clear the way for American and US Airways to merge, both companies agreed to give up 52 slot pairs at DCA.
Since this is out of the normal, it is not known who will handle the process of returning the slot pairs.
JetBlue Airways won 12 DCA slot pairs, and Virgin America won four DCA slot pairs last week. All of the slot pairs have been accounted for, but the fate of one remains unknown.
It is quite rare for an airline to voluntarily give up a slot pair, especially at DCA, as they are highly coveted. One slot pairs provide airlines with the right to operate one take off and one landing. They are common in highly congested airports where operations are heavily restricted.
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.
Six months after Delta Air Lines de-hubbed Memphis, the airport has released new plans to modernize the B concourse and to consolidate operations.
The airport plans to consolidate airline operations along with food, beverage and retail concessions into the B Concourse. It also plans to make improvements by adding more moving walkways, widening corridors, increasing the number of boarding areas, raising the ceilings, and adding more natural lighting.
Design courtesy of Memphis International Airport
According to the airport’s website, shifting operations into one concourse will allow “passengers [to] benefit in a number of ways from the modernization at Memphis International Airport (MEM). Gates will no longer be spread out across three concourses – they will be consolidated into one. Travelers will have more access to concessionaires since these businesses will all be located in the B Concourse. There will be more room to move through the widened corridors and larger boarding areas, more lighting from added windows and taller ceilings, and enhanced customer service via the addition of moving walkways. In addition, we will install new flight information displays that include up-to-date flight information for all airlines serving MEM.”
“We have begun the process of reinventing the Memphis Airport,” said Scott Brockman, MSCAA President and CEO. “Part of that reinvention involves consolidating operations so we can better serve our passengers, airlines, concessionaires and employees. More importantly, we’re going to modernize the B Concourse, giving our passengers more room to move, better lighting and more convenience.”
Design courtesy of Memphis International Airport
It is anticipated that the construction will total approximately $114 million in capital costs. The airport authority does not anticipate that this will require the issuance of any additional general airport revenue bond debt.
The project is expected to be completed in five to seven years.
Phase 1: The ends of Concourses A and C will be removed to allow planes to taxi more efficiently and position the airport for future growth.
Phase 2 (2015-2020): Concourse B will be widened to allow for more open pathways, moving sidewalks and natural lighting from taller windows and ceilings.
Bidding process for removal of south ends of A and C concourses – 2014
Apron reconstruction (west courtyard) – 2014
Apron reconstruction (inside “Y” area of B Concourse) – 2015
Removal of south end of A Concourse – 2014
Removal of south end of C Concourse – 2015
Relocation of airline flight operations to B Concourse 2016
Modernization of B Concourse, Phase 1 – 2017
Modernization of B Concourse, Phase 2 – 2018
Modernization of B Concourse, Phase 3 – 2019-2020
Video of MEM’s Concourse Modernization:
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com
As the final McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger flight comes to a close, our very own Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren is on board and has sent back some amazing pictures. While we have a full story coming up later, we wanted to pass along these historic pictures as soon as possible. Enjoy!
At the same time, news on the aircraft’s future has surfaced. While it was rumored that the aircraft was to be donated to a museum in Seattle (not clear if Future of Flight) it turns out they have no room for 6 months but Biman’s crews are not licensed to fly the DC-10 after Feb 28. Because of this, the aircraft will return home and be sold for scrap after scheduled scenic flights. Airchive will be on board one of the scenic tours Biman is offering before the aircraft is chopped to pieces.
Subject to government approval, United Airlines will launch direct flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia with the Boeing 787-9 on October 26, 2014. The new direct service will be operated six times a week.
If you’re flying from the states, UA98 will leave Los Angeles at 10:30PM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, arriving in Melbourne at two days later at 9:15AM. On Thursdays, UA98 will shift its schedule one hour earlier, leaving Los Angeles at 9:30PM to reach Melbourne at 8:15AM two days later.
On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, flight UA99 will depart Melbourne at 11:15AM to reach Los Angeles at 6:50AM the same day. On Saturdays, UA99 will leave Melbourne at 3:15PM and arrive in Los Angeles at 10:50AM.
UA099 MEL1115 – 0650LAX 789 x46
UA099 MEL1515 – 1050LAX 789 6
(Schedule information courtesy of @AirlineRoute)
The new direct service is scheduled to be operated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
“We are excited about using the newest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, to provide nonstop trans-Pacific service to Melbourne,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer. “Our customers on these new flights will enjoy a more convenient itinerary, as well as improved inflight comfort and amenities. At the same time, we will seek to make changes to our Sydney schedule which will enable faster connections via our San Francisco and Los Angeles hubs from points throughout the Americas.”
United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be have 252 seats. There will be 48 seats in BusinessFirst ( in a 2-2-2 configuration), 63 Economy Plus Seats, and 141 United Economy Seats (in a 3-3-3 configuration).
It is also being reported that the new flights will be operated by former Continental flight attendants that are based in Los Angeles.
United will still operate flights between Los Angeles to Sydney, but it says it may retime the flights between “to allow a greater range of connections beyond the hubs and more convenient arrival times for customers travelling on connecting flights to New York and other East Coast destinations.”
The new flights are in the reservation system, along with a seat map of the 787-9. However, the seat map is in complete at the moment.
United’s first 787-9 could arrive on property as soon as this summer.
*This story will continued to be updated as we learn more info
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747-400 at Sydney Airport. Photo by Chris Sloan/Airchive.com
According to Reuters, Malaysia Airlines is waiting for government approval to place a multi-billion dollar order for up to 100 Airbus and Boeing passenger aircraft to boost profitability. Currently, Malaysia has a fleet of 88 aircraft consisting of the Airbus A330 and A380, and they also operate the Boeing 777-200ER and 737.
Malaysia plans to order approximately 30 wide-body aircraft, including Airbus A330s and A350-900s, to replace older Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s. New aircraft may start arriving in 2016.
The carrier could also order either the Boeing 787-10, the Airbus A350-1000, and the 737MAX for its fleet beyond 2020.
By replacing its older and less fuel-efficient aircraft, Malaysia will be able to lower its operations costs, and it should assist the airline in coping with the intense competition in Malaysia and throughout Southwest Asia.
So far, Malaysia Airlines has not commented on this topic.
This rumor comes just after it suffered its fourth-straight quarterly loss in the three months ending in December. It also warned of tougher times ahead as its full-year loss expanded nearly three-fold from the previous year.
The carrier recorded a net loss of 343 million ringgit ($104 million) in the quarter, compared to a 51.4 million ringgit profit a year earlier. It blamed a declining ringgit, unrealized foreign exchange losses and higher operating and finance costs.
For the full year, losses ballooned to 1.17 billion ringgit ($354 million), nearly three times larger than the 433 million ringgit loss in 2012.
“The full-year performance of making a bigger loss in 2013 compared to 2012 demonstrates the challenges brought on by intensifying competition leading to lower yields for all players…going into 2014, Malaysia Airlines expects the business environment to remain challenging with high fuel prices, volatile foreign exchange and intense competition impacting yield from both existing as well as new entrants into the market,” it said in a statement.
“Many airlines are investing heavily in new aircraft and new products and services. This has resulted in a significant increase in capacity and aggressive competition in fares and value proposition to attract and keep market share,” it said.
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com
Frontier will launch a small expansion in St. Louis this June. Beginning June 13, Frontier will add nonstop service from St. Louis to both San Francisco and Trenton, New Jersey, and on June 15, Frontier will start service between St. Louis and Portland, Oregon.
When Frontier launches these new routes, it will serve 10 destinations nonstop from St. Louis. It currently flies to six markets in Mexico and the Caribbean as part of a partnership with Apple Vacations. Frontier currently operate nonstop flights between St. Louis and Denver.
Frontier will fly the new flights three times a week on each of the new routes.
St. Louis’ airport director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, applauded the new Frontier routes, and the airport believes they are filling key gaps in the airport’s service offerings.
“Frontier’s expansion of flights from St. Louis really addresses two top targets of service for this airport with a new nonstop destination to Portland, Oregon, and additional service to San Francisco,” Hamm-Niebruegge says in a statement. “Trenton is also a new nonstop market and we believe it will be very attractive for both business and leisure travelers who want more price-conscious options to reach numerous destinations between New York City and Philadelphia.”
Frontier’s new service comes five years after American Airlines dehubbed St. Louis which was inherited through its merger with TWA. After American dehubbed St. Louis, several airlines have filled some of the capacity that was dropped by American.
Although it is not known if St. Louis will become a hub for another airline again, Southwest has developed a large operation in St. Louis that has grown to nearly three dozen destinations nonstop.
*Cover photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren Archives
This story was reported by Jack Harty in Houston. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com
UPDATED: February 18, 2014 at 4:20PM EST. This update includes information about the first passenger flight with Split Scimitar Winglets that was completed on Tuesday, February 18.
United Airlines has installed Split Scimitar Winglets on a Boeing 737-800 (N37277) aircraft at its Orlando maintenance base. On Tuesday, United Airlines became the first airline in the world to fly a passenger flight with Split Scimitar Winglets. Flight 1273 from Houston to Los Angeles was the first flight.
Track it here on Flight Aware:
The first United 737-800 with Split Scimitar Winglets about to depart on a ferry flight from Orlando to Houston Monday night. Photo used with permission/taken by Westley Bencon
A United Boeing 737-800 flying over Washington operating a Split Scimitar Winglet Test Flight Photo courtesy of APB
The first United 737-800 wearing its new Split Scimitar Winglets in United’s Orlando Hangar Photo by CALTECH/Featured on netAirspace.com
A Brief History of Winglets
First Boeing 737NG with Blended Winglets Image courtesy of Boeing
Through a joint venture between Boeing and Aviation Partners Boeing, the Blended Winglet was introduced in the late 1990s, and the first 737 aircraft with the Blended Winglet debuted on March 25, 2001.
In 2011, Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) released the design of the new Split Scimitar Winglet design. The new design was developed for the 737MAX program, and a retrofit program for 737NG aircraft was introduced in early-2013. Testing of the new design began in August 2012 when a 737 Boeing Business Jet was retrofitted. According to Flightglobal, “APB founder Joe Clark said that analysis from last year indicated a 2.5 to 3% reduction in fuel consumption for 737NGs.”
A KLM MD-11 Winglet Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive.com
However, this was not the first Split Scimitar Winglet concept. When the MD-11 was introduced in the mid-1980s, it was rolled out with a winglet above and below the wing.
A split-tip winglet design was also proposed for the McDonnell Douglas MD-12, but McDonnell Douglas opted not to build the MD-12.
Now, fast forward to July 2013. Aviation Partners Boeing leased a United Boeing 737-800 aircraft to test and certify the Split Scimitar Winglets for a retrofit program. Earlier this month, the FAA certified the new design and the retrofit program. Later this year, United will work with APB once again to get certification to install the new design on Boeing 737-900ER aircraft.
Why are they so special?
Courtesy of Aviation Partners Boeing
Boeing and Aviation Partners Boeing say that Split Scimitar Winglets will have a significant reduction in aircraft drag over the basic blended winglet configuration.
Boeing and APB expect that once United retrofits their fleet it, United will have an additional 2% fuel savings for their 737 aircraft with an annual $200 million savings in jet fuel costs. United also plans to retrofit their 757 and 767 fleets with the new winglets.
A United Boeing 737-800 with Split Scimitar Winglets Photo courtesy of United Airlines
When retrofitting an aircraft, the Blended Winglets are removed, and an a new aerodynamically shaped “Scimitar” TM winglet tip cap is installed. Plus, a new Scimitar tipped Ventral Strake is installed below the wing.
First Passenger Flight
United completed the first passenger flight with Split Scimitar Winglets Tuesday afternoon from Houston IAH to Los Angeles as United 1273.
*This story will continue to be updated.
*Cover photo courtesy Westley Bencon
Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You are welcome to contact him at email@example.com
By Michael Slattery and Vinay Bhaskara/ Published February 3, 2014
Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) announced the cities it intends to serve following the expiration of the Wright Amendment later this year. The announcement made from Dallas Love Field on Monday morning, will see Southwest add service to 15 new nonstop destinations from Love, bringing Southwest to a total of 31 nonstop destinations.
In a press conference held earlier today near its headquarters at Love Field, Southwest’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Gary C. Kelly announced big news for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex:
This has been a long time coming. This morning, I am delighted to announce that we
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly addresses the media – Image Credit: Michael Slattery
will be adding nonstop service to 15 destinations from Dallas Love Field following the repeal of the flight restrictions imposed by the Wright Amendment… The official repeal of the Wright Amendment federal flight restrictions signifies a turning point for the Southwest brand not just in Dallas, but from coast-to-coast… We are pleased to offer this new service to the customers of our home airport, who have waited 34 long years, and we thank the many, many folks who made this opportunity a reality. Goodbye Wright Amendment. Hello, America.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison joined Kelly and Southwest employees to celebrate the momentous occasion. Herb Kelleher, Chairman Emeritus and founder of Southwest, sitting in the front row alongside Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of the airline, beamed when asked about how he felt. “Well, we’ve been waiting for 40 years, so I feel pretty good!”
Herb Kelleher speaking with the media in Dallas – Image Credit: Michael Slattery
Southwest had previously been restricted to serving destinations in just nine American states from its hub at Love (Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi) as a provision of the 1979 Wright Amendment, which was designed to protect Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) from competition. Signed by President Jimmy Carter in February 1980, the Wright Amendment decreed that Love Field flights could go no farther than cities within Texas, or the four surrounding states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana (the others were added over time). Airlines could only serve destinations outside of those states with aircraft seating fewer than 56 passengers, which excluded Southwest, who only had a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft seating 120 passengers or more. Ironically, American Airlines attempted short-term long-haul service out of DAL using lower capacity F-100s and ERJs as did short-lived Legend Airlines who operated an all business class service out of Love in 2000.
Kay Bailey Hutchinson addressing the media at Dallas Love – Image Credit: Michael Slattery
The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, along with American and other airlines, had succeeded in convincing Congress to approve a law that would, in effect, protect their investment in DFW from unlimited competition out of Love. The rationale was that long-distance routes from Love would draw passengers away from DFW, thereby compromising the economic benefit and overall influence of the region’s new hub airport. Not surprisingly, Bob Crandall, chairman of American Airlines, who had recently created its largest hub at Dallas Fort Worth, argued that ‘freeing’ Love would lead to higher fares and fewer flight choices. His counterpart at Southwest, Herb Kelleher, called the amendment ‘goofy protectionism’ and argued for its repeal in front of the U.S. Congress. In 2006, then Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson led an effort to repeal the restrictive amendment, eventually brokering a deal between Southwest, American, Love Field, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, and the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth to end the geographic restrictions on air service from Love Field. Under the new deal, geographic restrictions on air service from Love Field would be lifted, while the number of gates available for use at the airport would be reduced to 20 (of which Southwest currently controls 16). And so at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Southwest Airlines will be free to fly nonstop anywhere it wants in the United States from Love Field.
The details of how it will use this newfound power are as follow:
Beginning October 13, 2014, Southwest will launch nonstop service to:
Las Vegas (LAS)
Chicago Midway (MDW)
And beginning November 2, 2014, Southwest will launch additional nonstop service to
Washington – Reagan (DCA)
Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood (FLL)
Los Angeles (LAX)
New York La Guardia (LGA)
San Diego (SAN)
Orange County,CA (SNA)
Specific flight schedules and fares for the sale of these new services will be announced in May.
Image Credit: Michael Slattery
The route map below shows Southwest’s network at Dallas Love prior to the expiration of the Wright Amendment. Services to Branson, MO and Harlingen, TX are currently scheduled to end in June 2014.
The expansion by Southwest positions Dallas Love Field as a competitive option for travelers on the Dallas side of the Metroplex, though the airport is far from businesses on the Fort Worth end of the ledger. Southwest becomes the third major nationwide player in Dallas Fort Worth, after American with its massive DFW hub and ultra-low cost carrier Spirit Airlines, who operates several point to point (p2p) routes from DFW. American is probably the biggest loser, though their DFW hub is a massive profit center and their corporate contracts are somewhat resistant to pressure. Southwest in recent years has made enormous strides towards positioning itself as a viable option for business travelers. Thanks to programs like Business Select and network evolution allowing for more connectivity, Southwest has quarter after quarter grown its corporate travel share by roughly 10% each time. And now, Southwest is a viable option, especially for independent business travelers, and small businesses in Dallas – Fort Worth. Southwest’s core travel base will also flock to the carrier for broader leisure travel – travelers considering total out of pocket travel cost (versus advertised base fares) will find Southwest a compelling value proposition even up against Spirit. However, Southwest’s rising cost base will present longer run challenges to its competitiveness in the Metroplex.
Due to the gate cap, Airchive estimates that Southwest should be able to run about 160 daily departures through its sixteen gates. The carrier currently operates 128 daily departures to 16 existing destinations, and could be expected to add an average of two to three daily departures to each of the fifteen new destinations (higher frequency – like 5x daily to hubs like Midway and Baltimore Washington; lower frequency like 1x daily to Tampa or Orange County), necessitating a few cuts to existing routes such as Birmingham, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. Given the restrictions, we also expect much of Southwest’s expansion at Love Field to come using the larger 175 seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This would be a boon for air traffic at Love Field, which has stagnated since 2008, and could see the airport surpass the 10 million passengers per year mark. Southwest’s expansion is very good for the financial prospects of Love Field
Countdown Clock to Southwest service at Love – Image Credit: Michael Slattery