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TGIF: Thank-Goodness It’s Flyday Week-End Wrap Up – April 18th Edition

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 18, 2014

Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone! In this week’s edition the 737 hits 8,000, epic Twitter fails, American Eagle becomes Envoy, and more…

Photo courtesy Boeing

Photo courtesy Boeing

8000:  Boeing delivered its 8,000th 737 this week. United was the lucky winner, taking home a brandy-new 737-900ER. The plane has a small sticker on the starboard side to mark the milestone. The event was celebrated in an employee only event in Renton.

The airplane has been produced at a blistering clip since it hit the 5,000th airplane in 2006. Just for scale, the 4,000th delivery took place in 2001. The 2,000th? February 1991.

Swapped: The Wall St Journal reports that Jet Airways has ordered 17 737 MAX jets, swapping them with an existing order for standard 737-800 airplanes. It is the second MAX order from an Indian carrier, following a healthy order for 42 from SpiceJet.

AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP ENVOY LOGOAmerican Eagle, AKA Envoy, AKA American Eagle: American Eagle officially changed its name to Envoy Air Inc on Tuesday. Well, sort of.

If you recall from a previous article we ran on the Envoy name change, American Eagle existed both as a subsidiary regional airline under the umbrella of American, and as a brand name that multiple regional carriers operated on behalf of American. Thus American Eagle the brand is operated by American Eagle the airline as well as Republic, SkyWest, and Expressjet among others. Confused? Thought so.

The name change to Envoy is meant to clear some of that confusion up, and thus only extends to the American owned regional subsidiary. Which means the airplanes will continue operating for American Eagle the brand, but as Envoy instead of American Eagle the airline. They’ll now have a cute little  sticker affixed to the fuselage declaring their new corporate affiliation. Envoy will remain a part of American Airlines Group, though it is facing downsizing as a result of sour labor negotiations.

Emirates Airline A380 Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / AirchiveDinged: A380s faced a handful of incidents this week. First, a Korean Air jet struck two light poles at Los Angeles LAX on Wednesday. The thirty foot poles were bent over, damaging the wing slightly. Meanwhile, an Emirates A380 rolled up a little too close to the gate in Toronto. An engine was damaged when the airplane hit the jetbridge, and replacement parts had to be brought in.

Hawaiian Airlines to Beijing: Hawaiian launched thrice weekly flights between its Honolulu hub and Beijing. In addition, the carrier also began a codeshare agreement with Air China. That extends the carriers reach to Air China connecting flights from Beijing to Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Air China, meanwhile, adds connecting Hawaiian traffic to several of the islands.

American AirlinesOh, Twitter: It has been a notably spectacular week for airlines and Twitter.

The week started with a Dutch girl threatening American Airlines with an apparently faux bomb threat. She claimed she was from Al Qaida and had big plans for June 1st. American responded, stating they had her IP address and that details were sent to the FBI and security, then went silent.

She freaked out, claiming it was all a joke.  The joke sort of wound up on her, as she was later arrested for it. Unfortunately the incident apparently spurred a ton of copy-cat incidents from equally idiotic teens.

Thing escalated quickly when, on Monday, US Airways inadvertently posted an extremely inappropriate image—and we can’t stress the phrase extremely inappropriate enough—on their feed, where it remained for an entire hour. The post ground every other conversation on Twitter to a halt as it went viral, prompting slack-jawed stares followed by an endless stream of RTs and snappy one-liners. It quickly spread beyond the Twittersphere, like wildfire, to the interwebz as a whole. I remain convinced that some academic who studies workplace productivity on a national scale will indeed discover a measurable decrease.

We won’t be posting the image here, and we imagine by now that if you’ve heard about this you’ve already either seen it or made the far more wise decision of averting thine eyes.

Needless to say, after such an epic mistake, one that was instantly (and pretty rightfully) labeled the worst mistake ever made on Twitter by a major brand, we thought head(s) would roll.

AA 777-200 JDLBut they didn’t. US Airways owned up to the mistake pretty much instantly. After an investigation, it explained that the image was first posted on by someone else to its account. The offending photograph was flagged for removal, but instead was accidentally attached to a customer response and well, the rest is already is already well known. The company announced later in the week that since it was an honest, albeit terrible, mistake, no one would be fired.

And I’m glad. Honest mistakes happen, and giving grace is often far more powerful than trotting out the ax.

Inquiry: Oddly enough, inquiries for US Airways 777 models are up 2,000% nationwide, we’re told.

Finally, we turn your attention to a video from LOT Polish, which recently painted one of its Embraer 170 aircraft to a retro livery to celebrate its 85th anniversary. The airplane looks pretty sweet.

Enjoy the video, it’s pretty sweet.

In case you missed it, Airchive had a lot of great coverage right here. This week’s stories:

Italian Court Rules Against Emirates’ Milan – New York Route

Canadian North and First Air Propose a ‘Merger of Equals’

A New Pan American Start-Up

Airline 4.0: Another Start-Up

The Fascinating History Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport: 1960-2000

JetBlue to Launch New Flights from Pittsburgh

Analysis of Delta’s Widebody Replacement Options for 767-300ER and 747-400

Introducing the Airchive Podcast!

Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014 Wrap Up

Ryanair Gets a Little Friendlier

Broken Airplane? Call The Charter Experts!

Will the 757 Get MAX’d?

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Saying Goodbye to Our Little AvGeek, Mr. Awesome

By Chris Sloan / Published April 17, 2014

Dear friends and family in the aviation industry:

Caleb, Chris, and Calder in front of an airworthy Ford Trimotor.

Caleb, Chris, and Calder in front of an airworthy Ford Trimotor.

As many of you know Carla, Caleb, and I and our family lost our incredible, big hearted, and brilliant 7-year old son Calder “Mr. Awesome” Sloan on Sunday. He passed away due to a tragic and bizarre accident. Calder was an AvGeek from the beginning. He was named after the famous Braniff Boeing 727 “Flying Colors of the United States” used to commemorate the Bicentennial of the America in 1976. This aircraft was designed by the legendary artist Alexander “Sandy” Calder who also designed the mobiles that hang in New York JFK’s Terminal 4.

1976-braniff-calder-spirit-of-76-boeing-727-inflight_227He was one of us from the beginning. His first flight was on an American Airlines 737 from Miami to New Orleans. He referred to the engines as boosters. Today Calder is flying in the heavens with VFR for 1000’s of miles looking down on all of us. Please say hi to him when you look up to the skies or out the window on your next trip. His memory for those who know him is the ultimate IFE.

Caleb and Calder.

Caleb and Calder.

He was so worshiped by us and his little brother Caleb. For those of you who knew him, you know you will never forget what a generous, spirited, bigger then life person her was. We were told a number of times by his teachers he would change the world. He changed ours during his much too short time with us. We feel so blessed to call Calder Jacob Sloan our son. Carla and I have felt such solace at the outpouring of wishes that we have received from friends, family, and business associates. You all are lifting us up in these dark hours.

C8This Friday April 18th at 11:30AM we will be holding memorial services and if you can make it we would appreciate it if you came. Certainly we understand with short notice that this could be impossible. Following a procession, we will then be holding a brief graveside burial service at a beautiful lakeside spot. Calder loved the water. Fish would envy what a great swimmer he was. I am not kidding.

With much love and appreciation,

Chris, Carla, Calder, and Caleb

C6 C4 C3 C2

C7

LIVE STREAM to the Service at 1130AM ET

MEMORIAL SERVICE LOCATION:
Temple Beth Shalom
4144 Chase Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida
305-538-7231

In lieu of flowers, we are asking for donations to be made to Calder’s School, Lehrman. Your donations are tax deductible and will go toward establishing a legacy foundation in his honor. Calder absolutely adored going to school and loved his friends, math, soccer, reading, and Hebrew class…really everything about it except for waking up early. Caleb attends Lehrman and is receiving a great education. We love it that Caleb will be reminded of his beloved brother each day he goes to school. You can read more about his school at:
http://www.lehrmanschool.org

DONATIONS TO CALDER JACON SLOAN LEGACY FUND

Please make checks out to:
Lehrman Community Day School
memo: Calder J Sloan Legacy Fund

Address:
Lehrman Community Day School
727 77th St
Miami Beach, Fl 33141
Attn: Jodi Bruce, Head of School

We now have a way to donate simply via Credit Card / PayPal
https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=kBZXqqJRU1rarYGkTjODLA

Additional Information
jbruce@lehrmanschool.org
305-866-2771

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Will the 757 Get MAX’d?

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 17, 2014

757MAXWill the 757 be making a MAX-style comeback? The answer, it appears, is no.

Rumors that the jet could make a glorious return to the skies were squelched by Boeing on Tuesday, who first reported the news to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The company has since also confirmed the news to Airchive.

“The answer is no,” said Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder-Jr in a flat rejection of the possibility.

Speculation began to mount back at the Singapore Airshow in February of this year, when comments made by Boeing’s sales director suggested there was a place in the market for a 757-style airplane. The issue again made waves when the website Motley Fool, which specializes in financials, posted a story suggesting the 757 MAX may already be in the works.

Even if the company was interested, and again, it says “we don’t see a 757 MAX at all”, it is a bit busy with several other projects at the moment. Alder noted this, stating that the company is presently focusing on “investing in our new products from the 737 MAX to the 787 to the 777X.”

Consequently Alder said that the company does not “see a new airplane emerging until well into the next decade.” So while the 757 may never again see the light of the day on Boeing production lines, the door is still open to something of similar capability and capacity down the road.

The 757 had a reputation for being an exceptionally capable airplane, able to operate efficiently out of hot and high airports, and run routes ranging from the US to South America to the US to Europe. While Boeing’s own 737 MAX 9 and Airbus’ A321neo can replace much of the 757s role, neither is a 100% replacement, particularly when it comes to performance.

As a result we’ve said before that a market exists for a 200-240 seat airplane with the capacity and range of the 757, but a build quality closer to a Dreamliner. Roll-out of such a jet, which would likely be clean sheet, could be expected around 2025, after the bulk of the development is long done on Boeing’s current projects.

Meanwhile, the 757 remains surprisingly popular despite its age. According to Airfleets.net, roughly 850 of the jets are still in service out of the 1,049 delivered.

A Boeing house livery 757 adorns a product review brochure from 1994. Photo from Airchive Archives

A Boeing house livery 757 adorns a product review brochure from 1994. Photo from Airchive Archives

The airplane was designed to replace the company’s venerable 727 aircraft, and first flew on February 19, 1982. Former US carrier Eastern Air Lines launched the jet on January 1, 1983. The airplane went on serve dozens of airlines worldwide. It’s high capacity, for a narrowbody, and short runway performance capability made it a popular airplane in congested airports such as New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan. It ended production in 2004, with the last airplane delivered in 2005.

RELATED: 757 Launch Brochure  /  Eastern Airlines 757 Launch  /   Boeing Renton Factory – Part One

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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A New Pan American Start-Up

By Jack Harty / Published April 17, 2014

Photo courtesy PAAGlobal.com

Photo courtesy PAAGlobal.com

Here we go again: Pan American may see a return to the skies yet again, under Pan American Airways Global Holdings. This marks the latest attempt to jump start the old, iconic brand.

The new start-up plans to focus its operations “within the southern tier markets”, according to a press release. It adds that it is “committed to delivering a top flight level of service that was once enjoyed by many worldwide, and those expectations will be extended into the new 21st century business model, as we continue to proceed with our plans to launch early, to mid-summer of this year.”

Last year, Pan American Airways Global Holdings signed an exclusive agreement with Eaton–Texas Investments, Inc. to acquire its equity stake in the assets of the former Ryan International Airlines. On October 20, 2013, a final purchase agreement was formally ratified and approved by both members after final terms were adjusted and amended. Now, the airline needs to receive regulatory approval from the DOT and FAA.

Photo courtesy PAAGlobal.com

Photo courtesy PAAGlobal.com

In October, the start-up announced that it would return to its former iconic roots of 200 Park Ave. in Manhattan New York. In a press release, “New York left the most desirable impression for obvious reasons in returning to its’ former status in Manhattan. With its current holdings, Pan American Global brings a vast array of products to service in this move including Pan American Global Airways, Grace Air, Pan Am Airways, Pan Am Charters, Clipper Cargo, an International Hotel currently completing its build out in Rome, Italy, a new inflight media venue, and other International venues soon to be announced in future releases.”

The company completed its formal selection of Boeing 737-800 aircraft last week, and the airline will begin to select flight crews within the next week. The airline plans to commence operations as soon as this summer, again, pending those pesky regulatory approvals.

Photo from a 1977 50th Anniversary Brochure. From the Airchive Archives

Photo from a 1977 50th Anniversary Brochure. From the Airchive Archives

Pan Am was, for a time, the largest name in aviation. It was one of the first to pioneer extensive international service, commanding an enormous fleet of flying boats that traversed destinations from Hong Kong to Rio in the 1930s. The carrier went on to be the premier player of the jet age, the embodiment of the jet-set years. Its founder, Juan Trippe, is a major personality behind the development of the Boeing 747. At its height in the 1960s and 70s the carrier commanded hubs in Frankfurt, New York, London, Miami, and Tokyo.

But the good times began to come to an end in the 1980s as the carrier faced financial struggles. The combination of increased fuel prices, debt, and competition forced the carrier to gradually sell off assets until its complete demise in January, 1991.

Eclipse Holdings, Inc. purchased some Pan American World Airways trademarks and assets at an auction by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on in 1993. The scheduled airline rights were sold to Pan American Airways on December 20–29, 1993 by Eclipse Holdings.

The brand has seen a number of resurrection attempts over the years. The first reincarnation of the original Pan Am was from 1996 to 1998. It focused on low-cost long-distance flights between the United States and the Caribbean. This company was later spun off into a domestic carrier in Dominican Republic called Pan Am Dominica. It died in 2012.

Unrelated to the first iteration, the second attempt began in 1998. It was a small regional carrier based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, specializing in utilizing second tier airports. It lasted until 2004, when its sister company Boston-Maine Airways began operating the “Pan Am Clipper Connection”. The 727-200 service lasted several years, until February 2008.

In November 2010 Pan American Airways, Incorporated was born. The carrier was based at Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport in Brownsville, Texas, and flew to Mexico. It would not last long, as the company’s CEO Robert L. Hedrick was convicted of felony charges in 2012. As a result, the company lost its bid with the FAA to pursue passenger or cargo flights of any kind.

RELATED STORIES:
A Fond Farewell and a Happy Hello at JFK
JFK Furious over Pan Am Concorde Order in Declassified Phone Calls

RELATED HISTORY:
Pan Am Timetables, Route Maps
Pan Am / Pan American Airways Sales Brochures and Memorabilia
Pan Am: Aviation History Through the Words of its People

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Broken Airplane? Call The Charter Experts!

By Jason Rabinowitz / Published April 16, 2014

A EuroAtlantic 767 on final approach to JFK, operating for Norwegian

A EuroAtlantic 767 on final approach to JFK, operating for Norwegian

Pretend for a moment that you are the CEO of a long haul airline with a fleet already stretched to the limits. One of your mechanics just informed you that your brand new Boeing 787 has an issue that will keep it on the ground for the next three days – a total disaster. If you cancel three days worth of flights, thousands of people will be stranded and your airline will be on the hook for a boat load of money in compensation.

What do you do?

In situations just like this, charter airlines like EuroAtlantice and Hi Fly come to the rescue.

Neither is exactly your typical airline – instead of running normal scheduled routes, they specialize in leasing out their aircraft out to other airlines on a case by case basis. Most this comes in the form of something called a “wet lease.” When an airline “wet leases” an aircraft, the airplane comes fully loaded with a crew, maintenance support, and insurance – everything an airline needs to resume operations as soon as possible.

EuroAtlantic operates three passenger Boeing 767s, a single Boeing 777-200ER, as well as a Boeing 737-800. Hi Fly focuses on medium to long term leasing, and currently has a fleet of twelve Airbus wide-body aircraft, ranging from the A310 all the way up to the A340-600. Over the last year, these aircraft have become extensively used by one particular airline in need.

A HiFly A340-300 on approach to JFK, operating for Norwegian.

A HiFly A340-300 on approach to JFK, operating for Norwegian.

In the summer of 2013, when Norwegian Air Shuttle started its highly anticipated long haul service, they were an airline without a fleet. The airline bet the farm on an all Boeing 787 fleet for long haul operations, but a grounding caused by battery fires delayed deliveries. Once deliveries finally started rolling in, Norwegian experienced problem after problem with its 787s, putting the airline in a tough spot.

Rather than push back the start of service and tarnish the airlines reputation, Norwegian looked to the charter airline Hi Fly for help. The airline initiated long haul services with a wet leased  Airbus A340-300, the very aircraft which Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos scalded at a press conference in early September of 2013. When prolonged and unpredictable issues with the airline’s 787 fleet struck several months later, Norwegian then turned to EuroAtlantic, operating flights with Boeing 767s and 777s.

Wet-leasing an aircraft can work in a pinch, but the costs add up quickly. As Norwegian continues to endure issues with its 787′s, the bills have been piling up. “[O]ur results this quarter are significantly affected by the additional costs associated with replacement aircraft for the Dreamliner,” said Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos in the airlines third quarter 2013 financial report. Although it is likely that Boeing will pick up a substantial part of the costs, it has still eroded Norwegians profit in a significant way.

The process for acquiring an aircraft on short notice is surprisingly simple. “When an airline needs an aircraft, they contact EuroAtlantic´s commercial department,” said Francesca Valle, external relations representative for EuroAtlantic. “If an aircraft is available, it can be dispatched [as soon as possible]. We travel all over the world, so [the aircraft] can come from any place worldwide,” added Valle.

A Hi Fly Airbus A340-500 wet leased to Nigerian airline Arik Air (Photo: Jason Rabinowitz)

A Hi Fly Airbus A340-500 wet leased to Nigerian airline Arik Air (Photo: Jason Rabinowitz)

While airlines like Norwegian turn to charter airlines during temporary issues, others rely on them on a full time basis. Nigerian airline Arik Air wet leased two Hi Fly Airbus A340-500s in 2009 to start long haul services and still continues the lease today. The airline has since weened itself off the lease agreement after acquiring two Airbus A330′s for use on the Lagos – London route, but the wet leased aircraft are still an integral part of its fleet.

In the United States, charter airlines have been a dying breed over the last decade. Just last week, charter airline World Airways ceased operations. Of the few American charter airlines remaining, Atlas air stands out as the frontrunner. With a passenger fleet of Boeing 747-400s and 767s, Atlas recently provided assistance to Canadian airline Westjet during post-storm recovery. Tulsa based Omni AIr International also provides quite a bit of military charter flights with its fleet of Boeing 767s and 777s.

In a time of rapid expansion in the airline industry, these charter airlines help to fill the gaps a growing airline might find itself with. While leasing an aircraft for extended periods is a pricey proposition, if the benefits outweigh the burden, charter airlines are just a phone call away.

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Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014 Wrap Up

By Jason Rabinowitz, Special to Airchive.com / Published April 14, 2014

Imagine a place where every single aspect of an airplane’s inside was on display and up for sale: From seats to fasteners, plastic mouldings to satellite arrays. Put it all in Hamburg, Germany, spread it out over seven halls, and call it Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014.

Industry firms large and small (and tiny) all brought their newest, latest, and greatest to this year’s show, hoping to capture the interest of airlines in this multi-billion dollar industry. Throughout the show, there were a few main recurring themes that have been the constant theme in the industry for a few years now. As Data Research Manager for Routehappy.com, it was my job to find the most interesting trends.

More Seats In Economy, Less Space, Few But Important Innovations

Flying economy in the modern age has gotten to the point where 32″ pitch is a luxury, and 30″ pitch is the new norm. Slimline seats are the new cool, and airlines are gobbling these up faster than vendors can manufacture them. Reduced seat pitch, width, and cushioning are coming to an airplane near you, but it isn’t all bad.

This ACRO slimline seat may be pushing the limits of seat pitch, but it wasn't that bad!

This ACRO slimline seat may be pushing the limits of seat pitch, but it wasn’t that bad!

Seat manufacturer ACRO has managed to develop a seat with so much space carved out of it around the knees that a configuration of 29″ inches feels more like 32″ to the passenger. That may not sound like much, but it is the difference between being horribly uncomfortable and content for a short flight. The seats come with a positively tiny but super strong tray table which is barely wide enough to support an iPad. ACRO will start delivering these seats to Spirit Airlines for five retrofitted Airbus A319s and new A320 and A321 deliveries in 2015.

One of the largest seat manufactures, Recaro, showed us that even the smallest of changes to their seats can have a large impact. We’ve all seen the photo showing various “innovative” ways passengers set up their own entertainment devices in economy, but Recaro has come up with a simple, yet ingenious solution to the problem.

A Recaro BL3530 with optional tablet holder

A Recaro BL3530 with optional tablet holder

With the addition of a few plastic bits, the seat itself becomes the perfect tablet holder in an increasingly bring-your-own-entertainment-device world. This simple innovation allows passengers to free up their tray table and position their tablet at a comfortable eye level. The device held my 10” iPad with ease, but it did look like it would work for anything smaller.

The Thompson Cozy Suite is an innovative way to cram more passengers into economy, but comfortably.

The Thompson Cozy Suite is an innovative way to cram more passengers into economy, but comfortably.

One innovation for the economy space, sadly, may never actually see the inside of any aircraft cabin. The Thompson Aero Cozy Suite is a brilliant economy seating solution which actually staggers each row so that passengers are slightly set back from one another. The “suite” style seats create a feeling of added privacy and personal space, but actually use nearly the same space needed for traditional seats. Although the seats are a radical departure from the normal seat design, they were quite comfortable even with three people in the row. Unfortunately, after quite a bit of time on the market, no airline has ordered this innovative seat.

Front of The Plane

The layered Sogerma Equinox seat

The layered Sogerma Equinox seat

The economy cabin isn’t the only section of the aircraft that airlines are looking to cram more passengers into the same amount of space. One seat model from Airbus subsidiary Sogerma stood out as the most innovative, but also the most controversial solution. The seat pair is angled in toward each other, which is nothing new. What is new, however, is that the two seats transform into a layered lie-flat bed. In essence, the feet of one passenger end up resting on a platform on top of the adjacent passenger. This saves a bit of width per seat without compromising comfort, but it sure does look strange. I tried the seat and found it to be comfortable, so this will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.

The Thompson JetBlue Mint seat for the upcoming A321 transcon service.

The Thompson JetBlue Mint seat for the upcoming A321 transcon service.

Thompson Aero also had production samples of JetBlue’s upcoming Mint cabin seats on display, and I can tell you they are every bit as comfortable as they look. The seats feature a massage function, which actually comes in the form of expanding lumbar support instead of the traditional vibrate function, which was a nice surprise. Also surprising was the tethered remote with the JetBlue logo on it, featuring play, pause, and fast forward symbols. JetBlue currently does not feature video on demand, and hasn’t said whether it is coming to Mint, so this could be a sign that this feature is coming to its A321s with Mint configuration. If JetBlue does opt to go with AVOD, this may just boost its Routehappy Happiness score a bit.

Sogerma Celeste business class narrowbody seat

Sogerma Celeste business class narrowbody seat

In the rest of the business class space, seats seem to be getting larger and more complex, further widening the gap between business/first class and economy. Seats such as the Zodiac Aerospace Aura don’t even deserve to be called a seat, but rather a living room. I’m fairly certain some apartments in Manhattan are smaller than these luxurious devices. Thankfully, not everything being shown was an enormous first class seat or tiny economy seat. The Sogerma Celeste business class narrowbody and premium economy narrowbody seat was quite different from traditional seats. The seat design is unlike anything else I have seen, and it was surprisingly comfortable.

More, Better Connectivity

More so than any single other category, the in-flight connectivity sector was breaking news left and right, with Gogo stealing the show. Passengers have begun to expect their next flight to be WiFi enabled, and we are just now getting to the point where the industry is coming up with new and creative technologies to meet the demand.

The Gogo 2Ku antenna under a clear display radome

The Gogo 2Ku antenna under a clear display radome

On day one of the show, Gogo came out early with guns blazing, announcing their newest product called 2Ku. Gogo is looking to deliver even more bandwidth to each airplane by mounting two ThinKom antennas under one radome, promising speeds of up to 70Mbps to each aircraft, and 100Mbps once next generation satellites are launched. Traditional Ku antennas are quite bulky, but the 2Ku system uses the latest generation of thin antennas, slimming off several inches. That may not sound like much, but a thinner profile means reduced aerodynamic drag which means less fuel burn. 2Ku will launch in mid-2015 and Japan Airlines is slated to “be among the first” airlines trial the technology.

In addition to 2Ku, Gogo also announced that WiFi would finally be coming to the Great White North, as Air Canada signed a deal to outfit their entire North American fleet with Gogo’s air-to-ground service. The new service will be coming to the carrier’s Airbus A319, A320, A321, Embraer E190 and E175, as well as the CRJ700, with 29 aircraft online in 2014 and the rest by the end of 2015. Air Canada will also test 2Ku and Global Xpress for widebody aircraft in 2015.

In-Flight Entertainment

Finally, the in-flight entertainment (IFE) industry is starting to catch up to the level of technology passengers use every day with their iPads and phones. Most current IFE systems are clunky, unresponsive, and downright poorly designed. New systems from a wide array of companies, however, is about to bring IFE into the 21st century.

Panasonic is the 800 pound gorilla in the room – you can spot their eX2 system in a good percentage of aircraft worldwide. State of the art built-in systems from Lumexis, Thales, Zodiac, and Rockwell Collins are bringing responsive capacitive screens, multitasking, “second screen” support, and a multitude of new features to the sky. Soon enough, that annoying “reboot penguin” should be a thing of the past.

Lufthansa BoardConnect running on my personal iPad.

Lufthansa BoardConnect running on my personal iPad.

For airlines that don’t want a full blown IFE system, streaming systems are being unveiled left and right. More and more firms are bringing streaming content to the cabin, such as Lufthansa’s BoardConnect system, Gogo’s Vision product, Global Eagle’s WISE, in addition to little firms that are sticking wireless access points in galley carts and other odd places.

Conclusion

The general trend we are seeing in economy is smaller seats, more “efficient” seats, but the technology to distract from the discomfort is finally catching up to the 21st century. Faster and more reliable WiFi, in-flight entertainment coming to airlines that could never have afforded it in the part, and innovative new seating configurations are finally a reality. Meanwhile, at the front of the plane, the gap between economy and business/first class grows even larger.

 

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The Fascinating History Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport: 1960-2000

By Ian Petchmo / Published April 14, 2014

The second in a series on the history of the famous Chicago hub, author Ian Petchmo goes behind the scenes to discover an airport rushed into the jet age and in a state of constant expansion. Can it take it? Miss part one? Read it here!

If the 1940s and 50s were spent bringing passengers and airlines to O’Hare, the remainder of the twentieth century was spent making sure there was a place to put them. Almost immediately after the airport officially opened passenger traffic skyrocketed. The airlines’ transition to jet aircraft sped the shift of flights from Midway to O’Hare in the early 1960s. As Midway’s short runways could not safely handle the larger jets, O’Hare overtook Midway’s lead in traffic in 1961, and by 1967 Midway saw only 4,500 scheduled airline movements, 300,000 fewer than only a decade before.

At O’Hare, traffic was moving briskly—perhaps a bit too briskly. The airport’s 1962 Master Plan foresaw 533,000 movements by 1980, yet the field reached that level in 1966.

The renovated 1955 terminal reopened as the new International Terminal in 1963. Credit: City of Chicago

The renovated 1955 terminal reopened as the new International Terminal in 1963. Credit: City of Chicago

The first update to the original terminal complex came in 1963, when the original domestic terminal built in 1955 was renovated to become a new International Terminal. There were 490 people on direct flights between Europe and Chicago in 1953. Just ten years later, over 250,000 passengers used O’Hare to visit an expanded international network including Europe and Mexico. The addition of the dedicated International Terminal allowed Chicago to truly claim the name Chicago-O’Hare International Airport.

By the late 1960s Chicago was already looking for additional capacity. An additional airport in the Chicago area was being considered, but even if approved it was years away. To alleviate congestion, O’Hare added a new east-west runway, 9R-27L, on the south side of the terminal complex in 1967. In 1971, work was completed on 4R-22L on the southeastern portion of the airfield. This gave O’Hare three sets of parallel runways, one pair in each direction oriented east-west, northwest-southeast, and northeast-southwest.

Construction at O’Hare including the addition of 9R-27L and 4R-22L. Credit: City of Chicago

Construction at O’Hare including the addition of 9R-27L and 4R-22L.
Credit: City of Chicago

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 had a profound impact on operations at O’Hare. Domestic deregulation led to United Airlines and American Airlines consolidating operations at the airport to form their hubs. O’Hare’s terminals were reconfigured to better serve the operations of the hubbing airlines as other airlines, such as TWA and Northwest Airlines, moved their hub operations elsewhere. As United and American’s presence at O’Hare became more pronounced, plans were made for a new terminal complex.

Chicago’s plan for the O’Hare Development Project in 1982. Credit: City of Chicago

Chicago’s plan for the O’Hare Development Project in 1982.
Credit: City of Chicago

In 1982, Chicago launched the O’Hare Development Program, a new master plan designed to provide the airport with new or rehabilitated terminals and service areas by 1990. The plan called for a new International Terminal on the southeast side of the airfield, a commuter terminal and general aviation terminal  located near the new International Terminal, construction of a new Terminal 1—replacing the existing International Terminal—to be used by United, expansion of Terminals 2 and 3, a new air cargo complex on the southwest side of the airfield, a new airport services area with flight kitchens and maintenance facilities, relocation of the existing inner- and outer-taxiway system around the terminal complex, and a people mover to bring passengers between terminals and the remote parking areas.

Detail of the terminal construction plans as part of the O’Hare Development Project. Credit: City of Chicago

Detail of the terminal construction plans as part of the O’Hare Development Project.
Credit: City of Chicago

In 1984, construction began on United’s famous Helmut Jahn-designed “Terminal for Tomorrow.” Yet at the time construction of a new International Terminal was still almost a decade away, so what to do with all of O’Hare’s international traffic? To make way for construction of the new Terminal 1, O’Hare constructed a makeshift terminal on the ground floor of the main parking garage, creating Terminal 4. Passengers were then bussed directly to their flights from the garage/terminal.

The O’Hare CTA Blue Line station. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The O’Hare CTA Blue Line station.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

That same year, Chicago completed its long-planned extension of the CTA Blue Line train to O’Hare from downtown. A direct rail connection to the airport had been planned since the early 1950s but had never been completed. Before the completion of the rail link, passengers who wanted to reach O’Hare via public transportation had to take an express bus from the Jefferson Park station. The train runs in the median space of the Kennedy Expressway and I-190 near the airport before heading into a short subway stretch. It terminates underneath the main parking garage.

United’s Terminal 1 at O’Hare Credit: Flickr User Raymond June

United’s Terminal 1 at O’Hare
Credit: Flickr User Raymond June

Construction of the new Terminal 1 lasted until 1987, when the first dozen of more than 40 new gates opened. Jahn described his design as drawing inspiration from the exhibition halls and railway stations of the turn of the twentieth century, with open floor space and lots of natural light. Concourse B was built next to the roadway, similar to the location of the other terminals, but Concourse C was constructed in the middle of the airfield, connected to Concourse B by an 850 foot tunnel.

The tunnel between Concourses B and C and the “Sky’s the Limit” light sculture. Credit: Flickr user dsearls

The tunnel between Concourses B and C and the “Sky’s the Limit” light sculture.
Credit: Flickr user dsearls

The tunnel, also designed by Jahn, has become one of O’Hare’s defining features. Jahn worked with artist Michael Hayden and composer William Kraft to design the complex light sculpture called “Sky’s the Limit,” which covers the ceiling of the tunnel and undulates to music. Construction of the new terminal wasn’t without its problems, however. The placement of the glass walls and ceilings had the nasty effect of blinding controllers in the O’Hare tower. The problem was solved temporarily by rubbing wax over the windows. Eventually, an acid coating was applied to the windows for a permanent solution.

Throughout the 1980s, extensive renovations were also completed in Terminals 2 and 3. As part of the construction of the new Terminal 1, Terminal 2’s Concourse D was demolished to make room for Concourse B. In 1984, Concourse L in Terminal 3 opened as home of the brand new “Delta Flight Center,” which housed O’Hare’s first computerized curbside baggage check-in. In 1987, American Airlines began renovations of its facilities, modernizing the terminal building constructed in the late 1950s.

The last piece of the O’Hare Development Program broke ground in 1990, when O’Hare began construction on the new International Terminal on the east side of the airport. Completed in 1993, Terminal 5 handles all international arrival traffic from 21 gates. The airport’s new Airport Transit System opened in mid-1993 as well, serving the main terminal complex, T5, and the remote parking areas.

O’Hare at the close of the 20th century. Credit: City of Chicago

O’Hare at the close of the 20th century.
Credit: City of Chicago

Before construction even started on the final phase of the O’Hare Development Program, some were already calling for the expansion of the airport to meet future demand. Delays at O’Hare were mounting and other major airports, such as Dallas and Atlanta, were planning major expansion projects. Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley, son of the former mayor, supported a third airport near Lake Calumet on the city’s south side, but the plan was soon scrapped after resistance from the Illinois legislature. Further disagreement between the Republican-controlled state government and Democratic-controlled Chicago over who would control O’Hare, Midway, and any future airports in the region would lead to nearly a decade of political maneuvering at the state and federal level. As the twentieth century came to a close, O’Hare was at a crossroads: would it modernize and expand, or would it fall victim to delays and political infighting?

PHOTOS: Chicago O’Hare International Airport

EXTRA: Chicago O’Hare historical postcards from 1962


Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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TGIF: Thank-Goodness It’s Flyday Week-End Wrap Up – April 11th Edition

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 11, 2014

Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone! In this week’s edition Virgin takes top honors, TSA confiscates artillery shells, India allows the A380, and more…

Renowned for its innovation in the passenger experience, Virgin America was the first U.S. carrier to bring LED mood lighting to its aircraft. In Economy, Virgin offers a Main Cabin Class with 32" pitch and Main Cabin Select Class with an expanded 38" pitch. Image courtesy: Virgin America

It’s always a party on Virgin American. Image courtesy: Virgin America

Top honors: Virgin America once again took the top honors in the annual airline quality and rating report put out by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University. The report is based on US DOT data, tracking everything from on time performance to lost bags, complaints to denied boarding.

That Virgin came in first, for the second year in a row, is no real surprise. The mood-lit cabins, high quality food, and excellent in flight entertainment system have been exceptionally popular. Despite its reputation for a superior product the airline hadn’t turned a profit until 2013. The carrier also faces challenges going forward as rejuvenated legacy carriers begin to catch up with their on board product, particularly in the increasingly competitive trans-con markets that Virgin has hung its hat on.

Anyways, back to the report, JetBlue came in second, while Delta and Hawaiian came in third with a tie, respectively. Southwest, which previously had been number three as recently as 2007, fell into the middle of the pack, at eighth. United took the cake for worst mainline carrier, ranking last. Since the list also includes regionals, United avoided being dead last in the survey. That distinction went to the ever popular American Eagle.

Still, each carrier did better than in 2012, even if they dropped spots down the list.

UA 737 JDLNot exactly…: Related to the above report, US News took the opportunity to utilize the results to create a list of “American’s Meanest Airlines 2014.” First, that’s not exactly accurate, because while the report technically came out in 2014 it is obviously using stats that apply to 2013. Second, when you have to add a disclaimer to the story that the report does not actually call any airlines “mean”, then your title is probably misleading. Third, the word mean has connotations of intentionality, as though American Eagle was out to intentionally make your flight late, or purposely lost your bag and did it with a grin on its face and a song in its hearts. Do we really want to get that cynical? I say not yet.

Bye bye 737-400?: We thought it was worth a mention that the 737-400 may be seeing its last days with US Airways. The classic 737 has been in the US fleet for years, and gradually been transitioning out. According to CH-Aviation, the last flight is due in mid August. Neither US or parent company American Airlines Group have confirmed the information.

Kenya787-1Kenya Airways Receives First 787: Nairobi-based Kenya Airways received its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner last Friday. The aircraft is expected to run regional African routes before being deployed Nairobi to Paris in June. The carrier ordered nine of the jets. Each will feature thirty business class seats and 204 in economy. Kenya Airways will be the second African 787 carrier, following Ethiopian.

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MIA

Jetairfly begins service to Miami: Miami International Airport welcomed the first Jetairfly service to Brussels, Belgium, on Monday. The carrier will serve the airport twice weekly with a two class Boeing 767-300. It is the carrier’s first US destination.

If the Jetairfly logo looks just Arkefly, Thompson Airways, or TUIfly Nordic it would be because they are all part of TUI Travel PLC. The travel and tourism group owns and manages seven airlines total, all of which have nearly the exact same livery.

SQ A380 JDL-1The Jumbo Cometh: Singapore Airlines will bring its A380 super jumbo to India in late May, the first carrier to do so. The flights will replace two 777 flights to Mumbai and New Delhi.

India had functionally banned the airplane from serving its cities for years. The nation was concerned that the competition from carriers such as Emirates and Singapore would siphon passengers, and their money, away from state-owned flag carrier Air India along with other domestic airlines.

No Indian carrier operates the enormous jet, though Kingfisher had an order for several before it suspended flights in October 2012. Its license was revoked in February 2013, though owners have continued to try to get the airline back in the air ever since.

HAM-PHILIPPINES A321 ON FLIGHTLINE

Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive

We’re back!! Congrats are in order to the Republic of the Philippines, which managed to earn back its category one rating from the FAA this week. The country lost it in 2008 and was downgraded to a category two of three. In short, it meant the nation and its carriers were not quite up to par safety wise. Reasons can include technical expertise, trained staff, records, or inspections, according to the FAA. While on the degraded status, the carrier was not allowed to add or alter existing service to the US.

The downgrade had primarily affected flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which currently serves Honolulu, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in the US, along with Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.

United 777-200 JDLRunning late: We knew after the record amount of winter weather that February 2014 stats for the industry wouldn’t be pretty. Now that the US DOT figures have come out, we know exactly how bad. Hawaiian and Alaska predictably had the best on time records, at first (90.1) and second (85.7) respectively. After that, things go downhill fast. American held a 73.9% on time record, Southwest was 70.8%, and United 70% on the nose. JetBlue came in third to last with 64.6%, while ExpressJet took the last spot on the list for 59%. Grand total average industry-wide? 70.7%.

Yet the numbers are still an overall improvement over January. The industry held a dismal average of 67.7% in January after getting hit hard repeatedly by winter weather.

KaBoom: Is what two World War I artillery shells thankfully never did whilst they traveled from London to Chicago. Luckily the two French 75mm shells were inert, and thus never had the chance to do any damage.

The TSA discovered the two items in the bags of two teens, who in turn discovered the shells at a former French WWI artillery range. How exactly that happened, and how exactly they got to Chicago with them without being noticed, is unclear. The shells were confiscated, and the teens continued onward to Seattle.

In case you missed it, Airchive had a lot of great coverage right here. This week’s stories:

PHOTOS: Air New Zealand’s First 787-9 Rolls Out

777 ‘Rolls Out’ Twenty Years Ago Today

PHOTOS: New American 777-200 Cabin Details

The Fascinating History Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport: 1920-1960

PHOTOS: Airbus Unveils First A350 Cabin

ONGOING: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Missing, Presumed Crashed

InFlight Review: Singapore Airlines Economy

Spirit to Miami? It Just Might Happen

PHOTOS: First ANA 787-9 Takes Flight

The 8,000th 737 Takes its First Flight

United to Close Down Cleveland’s Concourse D

American Airlines and US Airways Unveil New Mileage Awards/Charts

PHOTO: United’s First Boeing 787-9 Exits Factory

Southwest Flies First Flight With Split Scimitar Winglets

Analysis: Alaska Airlines Applies to Serve Seattle – Cancun

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Properly Tracked and Monitored Boeing 777s Do Not Disappear, or Do They?

By Oscar S Garcia / Published April 11, 2014

Photo courtesy Aero Icarus, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Aero Icarus, Creative Commons

A Boeing 777 in cruise flight, maneuvering and even at low altitude, transmits a robust, crisp, and clear primary radar signature to both civilian and military radars for almost two hours or perhaps even longer. This signature was evident to Thai, Malay and Indonesian radar operators, civilian and military the night and early morning of March 8th, 2014. As I write this piece, over one month has elapsed since this plane “vanished” or “disappeared” from radar as international media persuasively quotes.

It is factual that MH370 transponders, communications equipment (digital and voice) failed. Such an unusual event triggered an immediate alert from the men and women in the airline’s operations control center and the civilian air traffic control radars centers who, until then, were routinely tracking the flight. The presence of a primary radar signature should have also triggered an immediate chain of communications between the airline, civilian air traffic-radar controllers and their military counterparts. In fact, it seems that such actions were not taken or were not assertive enough to have triggered a military radar tracking and intercept, as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Document 9433, Manual Concerning Interception of Civil Aircraft. This is a globally accepted and mandated standard operating procedure for “strayed” aircraft, especially since the tragic events of 9-11 in the USA.

Yet Malaysian Airlines MH 370 flew unchallenged with enough freedom, range and capability to have diverted, overflown, or crashed in very dense city centers such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Phuket, Bangkok, Jakarta and Singapore. Millions of innocent people were unbeknownst of the events transpiring literally over their heads.

I have flown a similar B 777-200 on the same route, airway and time of the night many times. I know the aircraft well and indeed, it does have the capability to fly fast and maneuver vertically with vigor. Yet, it cannot outrun an attentive military radar controller, much less a fighter jet on a well executed tactical intercept mission. A well monitored, tracked and intercepted, if necessary, Boeing 777 does not mysteriously vanish or disappear into vast uncontrolled oceanic airspace under the cover of the night.

RELATED MH370 COVERAGE:
ONGOING: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Missing, Presumed Crashed

Op-Ed: The True Danger of MH370 Might Be Overreaction

Op-Ed: The Value of Speculation

Op-Ed: High Alert Until MH370 is Found

Op-Ed: Virtual Terrorism: An Emerging Threat

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OscarGarcia on Flight DeckOscar S. Garcia, Chairman and CEO of Interflight Global, is an expert advisor and consultant in the areas of strategy, business and economic development, organizational design and industry forecasting. He was formerly a pilot with major airlines in the US and Asia, flying several aircraft including B777-200/300 and B747-400.

He can be reached at: oscargarcia@interflightglobal.com

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Air Canada to Roll-Out InFlight WiFi

By Howard Slutsken / Published April 10, 2014

Photo by Howard Slutsken

Photo by Howard Slutsken

Air Canada announced plans to equip its North American narrowbody fleet with Gogo inflight Wi-Fi connectivity on Wednesday. The airline released the news live from flight AC107 while it cruised at 35,000 feet en route to Calgary.

The carrier currently has two Airbus A319s equipped with Gogo’s system. Once a final agreement is in place with the Wi-Fi service provider, Air Canada expects have all of its North American fleet equipped by the end of December 2015. Further installations are to begin next month, with a goal of having 29 aircraft equipped in 2014.

In total, 130 of Air Canada’s and Air Canada Express’ current fleet of Airbus A319, A320 and A321s, Embraer 175 and 190s and Bombardier CRJ-705s will be set up for air-to-ground Wi-Fi.  Checking AC’s online fleet page, there are 154 narrow-body planes listed. It’s likely, then, that AC won’t be equipping the A319s that it’s planning to transfer to the airlines’ “leisure carrier” rouge.

With last week’s finalization of its contract with Boeing, Air Canada is planning to update its narrowbody Airbus fleet beginning in 2017 with up to 109 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Part of that deal includes Boeing’s purchase of up to 20 of AC’s Embraer 190s, and thus it is possible that some of those aircraft might not be Gogo-equipped, either.

Air Canada will also be testing two satellite-based Wi-Fi systems for its international flights, using Gogo 2KU and Inmarsat GlobalExpress KA services. These tests are expected to be conducted in 2015.

Photo by Howard Slutsken

Photo by Howard Slutsken

In February, Air Canada’s main competitor, Westjet Airlines, announced plans to overhaul its In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) with a new Panasonic system. Without seatback monitors, passengers will connect their own devices, or rent tablets on board.  Westjet is also planning to have air-to-ground Wi-Fi, but it is only planning to have one aircraft equipped by the end of this year. They say that the rest of the fleet will then be equipped as quickly as possible.

It looks like Air Canada wins this round of the Canadian Wi-Fi Rollout Battle over WestJet.

RELATED:

Airchive Tests Gogo’s New ‘Text & Talk’ App

Flight Test: JetBlue’s Long Awaited Next Generation In-Flight WiFi; FlyFi

An Interview with Global Eagle Entertainment CEO John LaValle

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Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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Southwest Flies First Flight With Split Scimitar Winglets

By Jack Harty / Published April 10, 2014

_MG_0685

Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines flew its first revenue flight with split scimitar winglets on Thursday. The Boeing 737-800 flew between Phoenix and Denver as flight 219. It will appear later today in Phoenix and Chicago.

This makes Southwest the third US airline to retrofit an aircraft with the new winglets, following United and Alaska.

In January, Southwest announced plans to order Aviation Partner’s Boeing split scimitar winglets for the carrier’s fleet of Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. The airline ordered 85 pairs to retrofit the 52 Boeing 737-800s currently in its fleet as well as the 33 Boeing 737-800s it plans to take delivery of this year.

The winglets boast a new design with aerodynamic scimitar tips with a large ventral strake on the bottom of the blended winglet structure.

With the new winglet design, Southwest spokesperson Dan Landson, says “We are always looking at ways to reduce our fuel costs and reduce consumption of fuel. With the new split scimitar winglets, we estimate our fuel savings will be increased by 5 to 5.5% from 3.5% with the current blended winglet structure. Not only are the savings large but it’s impact on the environment is much better since we’re using less fuel.”

Southwest expects all of its Boeing 737-800s to receive the retrofit by early 2015. Presently it only has just the one.

RELATED:

Southwest Airlines Orders Split Scimitar Winglets

United Completes First Passenger Flight with Split Scimitar Winglets

Aviation Partners Boeing Receives FAA Certification for Split Scimitar Winglets

Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They Take It To “The MAX”: Part One

Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They Take It To “The MAX”: Part Two

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.

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The 8,000th 737 Takes its First Flight

By Jack Harty  / Published April 10, 2014

The 8000th 737 takes to the skies for the second time, on April 9th. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

The 8000th 737 takes to the skies for the second time, on April 9th. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

Boeing’s 8,000th 737 took to the skies for the first time on Tuesday. The aircraft, line 4868, is a Boeing 737-900ER. It will be delivered to United as N68821 within the next week.

The 8,000th 737 took to the skies on the 47th anniversary of the type’s first flight, which occurred on April 9, 1967.

Lufthansa and United were the first two airlines to place an order for the jet, split between the original 737-100 and -200. The Dash 100 only received a grand total of 30 orders, and the Dash 200 was built to be the successor. In December 1968, United took delivery of the 100th Boeing 737.

The first 737 takes flight.

The first 737 takes flight.

It took ten years for Boeing to sell 500 737s, with Gulf Air taking delivery of the 500th in 1977. Although it was slow in the beginning, the order book gradually began to gain momentum especially as airlines such as Air California, British Airways, Delta, Frontier, Lufthansa, Southwest, and United warmed to the type’s economics with its ability to fly profitably on short-haul segments because of its fuel-efficient twin-engine and 2-man crew configuration.

Five years later, Delta accepted the 1000th Boeing 737, one of its first, in December 1983.

Yet the 737′s career was only just beginning. In 1984, the second generation 737 series (-300, -400, and -500) entered service with Southwest Airlines. The aircraft boasted many aerodynamic improvements, and it was also a bit longer.

1000th-737-12-9-83

Delta accepted the 1000th Boeing 737, one of its first, in December 1983. This was just 5 years after the 500th 737 was delivered.
Image Courtesy: Boeing

As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, Boeing had to remain competitive as the Airbus A320 family began to directly compete with the Boeing 737 family. The company eventually answered with the Boeing 737 Next Generation, which first flight in 1997. It boasted a redesigned wing, and eventually winglets, which increased total fuel capacity by 30% and range to over 3,000 miles. Its CFM56-7Bs engines were quieter, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient, and the flight deck was further upgraded with new avionics. There was also an upgraded passenger cabin with bigger overhead bins and more curved surfaces. Airlines ordered 724 of the Next-Generation 737 models between the Next-Generation program launch Nov. 17, 1993, and the day the first airplane was delivered on Dec. 12, 1997.

In 2004, The 1,500th Next-Generation 737 was delivered to ATA Airlines. The Next-Generation 737 family reached the milestone in less time than any other commercial airplane family, six years after the delivery of the first model. Two years later, the 5,000th 737, a 737-700 painted in Southwest Airlines colors, was delivered on February 13, 2006; the 447th 737 to join the carrier’s fleet.

Image Courtesy: Boeing

Image Courtesy: Boeing

On August 30, 2011 launched the Boeing 737 MAX. The MAX will feature a larger diameter, more powerful and the fuel-efficient CFM International Leap-1B engine. A new type of wingtip device resembling a three-way “V-shaped” combination of a blended winglet, wingtip fence, and raked wingtip would provide a distinctive visual cue different then any aircraft before.

The 737 became the first-ever commercial jet airplane to surpass the 10,000 orders milestone in July 2012, when United Airlines ordered 50 Next-Generation 737-900ERs and 100 737 MAX 9s. More recently, the 7500th Boeing 737 was delivered on March 20, 2013 to Asian LCC Lion Air.

Related Boeing 737 Stories:

Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They Take It To “The MAX”: Part One

Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They Take It To “The MAX”: Part Two

EXTRA: Boeing 737 Sales Brochures

Extra: View Full Boeing Renton Tour Photo Gallery here.

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Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com
Chris Sloan also contributed to this report.

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PHOTOS: First ANA 787-9 Takes Flight

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 9, 2014 / Photos by author

KBFI 4_9_14-8ANA’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner took flight over the skies of Puget Sound on Wednesday. The airplane completed two flights today, and we had our cameras ready when it landed this evening at Boeing Field.

The carrier has forty-four of the stretched Dreamliners on orders. It was the launch customer for the original 787-8, taking the first delivery in September of 2011.

The 787-9 has had a busy week. Besides Wednesday’s first customer livery flight, United saw its first airplane roll out of the factory in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, while Air New Zealand unveiled its first from the paint hangar, all black, on Saturday night.

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KBFI 4_9_14-9

KBFI 4_9_14-10

RELATED:

PHOTO: United’s First 787-9 Exits the Factory

PHOTOS: Air New Zealand’s First 787-9 Rolls Out

ANA 787 Inaugural Flight (Airways)

PHOTOS: ANA 787 Inaugural Flight

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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Spirit to Miami? It Just Might Happen

By Jeremy Dywer-Lindgren & Vinay Bhaskara / Published April 9, 2014

A Spirit A319 in the present-day livery at Chicago's O'hare International Airport. Image Credit - Curimedia Photography

A Spirit A319 in the present-day livery at Chicago’s O’hare International Airport. Image Credit – Curimedia Photography

Spirit Airlines has been in talks with Miami International Airport (MIA) to begin service to the south Florida city.

A spokesperson for the airport confirmed the talks, stating that “Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez and…County Mayor Carlos Gimenez have been in ongoing discussions for many months with Spirit Airlines about…starting operations at MIA.” The talks are reportedly still ongoing, with the airport adding that “nothing has been finalized yet.”

While MIA appears to have excitedly embraced the possible new carrier, Spirit instead played it down. Speaking on the phone, spokesperson Deanne Gabel said there is “not really a story here, we talk to airports all the time. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.” Gabel wouldn’t comment further on how the talks were going.

Should the airport and the famous, if not at times infamous, very low cost carrier strike a deal, it would place Spirit at two major airports less than thirty miles apart: Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) and Miami.

To what extent the airline would split operations between the two is unclear. Mayor Gimenez told the Miami Herald that “they want to move a number, if not a bulk, of their operations to MIA.” The claim is one that Gabel doesn’t necessarily agree with. She says the carrier has “no plan to leave the FLL hub; we don’t see any reason why the airport wouldn’t remain a base of operations. We have been very pleased…it works really well for us.”

Indeed it has. The carrier currently operates 45 flights per day out of Fort Lauderdale to destinations across the US as well as international routes to the Caribbean and Latin America. The smaller airport is popular with low cost carriers, Spirit is one of three that has taken residence at the field, with its ease of access and lower landing fees.

A Spirit Airlines A319 parked at FLL. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive

A Spirit Airlines A319 parked at FLL. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive

The latter is specifically what drove Spirit, along with other carriers, to FLL instead of MIA in the first place. Miami has notoriously high landing fees, something Gabel described as a “detractor”, but added that it wasn’t a deal breaker. She pointed to several other airports with high landing fees that the carrier serves, such as New York LaGuardia. She would not comment on whether the talks have involved fee reductions.

But Spirit’s incentive to leave FLL has to do with the ever shifting market dynamics in South Florida’s low cost airport. Over the past few years, FLL has embarked on a steady expansion that will see the total gate space at the airport rise from 57 to 97 with the construction of a new concourse and a brand new international Terminal 4.

It is the latter development in particular that will put pressure on Spirit’s ability to compete effectively at FLL. Both JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines (the other two largest tenants at FLL) are turning to international expansion to help offset rising costs and slowing domestic growth. JetBlue views Fort Lauderdale as the next step in its long haul and business oriented ambitions (which were first manifested in the launch of Mint) while Southwest sees the airport as an opportunity to bracket Central America and the Caribbean alongside Houston Hobby.

FLL Terminal One. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive

FLL Terminal One. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive

As these two carriers try to turn FLL into an international gateway, they will naturally need to boost domestic capacity to increase feed for these international routes. This will drive down fares at FLL, leaving less margin for Spirit to entice customers with its low fares, and more importantly keep the discount relative to network and legacy carriers high enough that customers are willing to stomach the lesser travel experience and higher ancillary fees implicit in flying Spirit.

The carrier has functioned as a healthy disruptor in many of the markets it has entered, including South Floridat at FLL. So much so that Airchive Senior Business Analyst Vinay Bhaskara pronounced that the Spirit effect had replaced the Southwest effect, a trend in which the entry of Spirit to a new market demonstrably lowered fares and stimulated origin and destination (O&D) market demand.

Miami International is notable for having the highest air fares in the region thanks to the dominant market presence of American Airlines, whose massive Latin American hub creates a pool of high value frequent flyers and business travelers willing to pay American’s higher fares. Spirit and American already co-exist relatively peacefully at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, American’s largest hub and Spirit’s second largest focus city by weekly departures. Thus it would certainly be possible for the two to co-exist at MIA.

While MIA and FLL do have some overlap, they do cater to slightly different markets, leaving Spirit able to tap into a new pool of cost conscious travelers from the Southern and Southwestern portions of the Miami metropolitan area, for whom a journey to FLL can be arduous, especially at peak morning and evening travel times.

RELATED:
Has the Spirit Effect Replaced the Southwest Effect?

The Spirit Effect: One on One Q&A With Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza

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Contact the editor at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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777 ‘Rolls Out’ Twenty Years Ago Today

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 9, 2014 / Photos courtesy Boeing

K58170The very first Boeing 777 was unveiled to the public twenty years today, on April 9th, 1994.

The giant twin-jet airplane, then the world’s largest, was shown off to the public in an elaborate day-long ceremony inside Boeing’s famed wide-body manufacturing plant in Everett, WA. With over 100,000 Boeing employees, their families, and members of the media expected to attend, not even the enormous factory was large enough to hold everyone for a single ceremony.

Which is why the splashy, indoor affair was repeated fifteen times in the same day. The company split attendees into groups of 7,000, all of whom were ushered in and out by 2,300 volunteers, to see the jet for the first time.

K58179 K58171

Once inside, those present were treated to a rousing video surrounding the theme ‘Working Together’. Once over, the jet was partially revealed by a mesh screen, after which various aircraft systems were either lit up or turned on. Workers were then invited to come forward and experience the airplane up close. The heavily produced event was put together by none other than Dick Clark Corporate Productions.

Boeing’s later jets have enjoyed equally flashy roll outs. In particular the Boeing 747-8i enjoyed live musicians, lasers, and audience participation with matching noise makers.

Boeing is hardly the only aerospace company to want to introduce its latest product with a bang. Douglas turned the ‘roll-out’ on its head when it rolled the first DC-10 under its own power into the hangar it was supposed to have rolled out of. They even booked Vice President Spiro T Agnew and then California governor Ronald Reagan for the affair.

Related, Boeing’s 737 made its first flight 47 years ago today.

Check back in a few month’s time when the airplane is due to celebrate its twentieth anniversary of flight, on June 12th!

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Photos of United Airlines 777 ads and brochures from entry into service in 1995

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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American Airlines and US Airways Unveil New Mileage Awards/Charts

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 8, 2014

SFO 1_24_14 -23American and US Airways rolled out significant changes in their frequent flier programs overnight on Monday.

The bulk of the changes surround the carrier’s frequent flier programs: AAdvantage for American (AA) and Dividend Miles for US Airways (US).

AAdvantage faces the most changes of the two, and has been expanded to include several new redemption categories. SAAver award tickets are now split into two levels of redemption, while AAnytime routes awards are expanding into three levels aptly named 1, 2, and 3.

The lowest tier redemptions will now cost less, 20,000 points, for a one way domestic ticket, depending on the time of year. Last seat availability will generally decrease to 30,000 per segment. Still, premium international fares generally all went up in level one, whereas level two saw increases in fares on all but three classes of service and destination.

Level three appears to be a set of mystery numbers tied to heavy travel days. The carrier specifically notes days such as the Sunday after Thanksgiving will now cost members at least 50,000 miles one way, but does not provide additional information.

CHECK OUT THE NEW CHARTS: AAdvantage   /   Dividends

KLAX 4_28_12-44Dividend Miles members will see slightly less changes. For starters, they will be able to redeem miles without blackout dates, but like with AAdvantage it’ll cost more miles than any other days. Also like AA’s program, Dividend will see increases in redemption levels to four domestically and five internationally.

The changes go into effect immediately for all travel beginning on June 1, 2014. Notably, the carrier did not opt to mirror Delta’s huge frequent flier program overhaul in February, when it decided to peg miles earned to amount paid for the fare.

Changes extend beyond mileage and redemption, however. Bag fees will also see changes. The carrier’s will offer two free checked bags on flights to South America and trans-Pacific. Mexico will see the first checked bag for a fee, while trans-Atlantic flights are now covered under an ambiguous “match or beat Delta/United pricing” category.

4206816335_e01b7185a9_zMembers of the frequent flier programs will also see changes to bags. High tier members will receive three free checked bags, two for middle tier, and one for the lowest tier. That represents a loss for AAdvantage Gold and Dividen Miles Platinum and Gold members. The carrier additionally stated it would no longer offer free checked bags to customers on AAnytime awards or full fare economy tickets. The new fees will take effect on April 8th for AA, and April 23rd for US.

Ticketing will be more expensive, with international ticketing now being subjected to a slightly higher, unknown fee. Unaccompanied minors will now cost you $150 plus tax each way, plus the fare.

On a more positive note, changes will also be rolled out on board the aircraft to more closely align experiences between AA and US. Starting April 1st, first class meal service will be extended to all US flights over 1,000 miles or 2.75 hours, down from the previous 3.5 hour or longer flights. A bit more class will be added as well, as the meals will be accompanied by glassware and linens.

On the entertainment side, US Airways A330 international flights will see a wider selection of in seat entertainment. For those traveling in first or business on board a US Airways 757 or 767 aircraft a Samsung tablet with Bose headsets will be available, replacing the former Archos device.

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com
Photos courtesy Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive 2014, jplphoto, Charles Wiriawan; Creative Commons

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InFlight Review: Singapore Airlines Economy

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published April 8, 2014 / Photos by author

Singapore's new Boeing 777-300ER first class product.

Singapore’s new Boeing 777-300ER first class product.

Singapore Airlines has a well-known reputation for luxury. The carrier pioneered the concept of first class suites, boasts the most spacious business product in the skies, and has top notch on-board service. Yet while the carrier might be known for pulling out all the stops up front, how is the experience in back?

Recently Airchive became quite familiar with the Singapore economy experience on a series of three flights. The first was Singapore 11, operated by an A380, from Los Angeles LAX to Singapore with a stop in Tokyo Narita. The second was flight 446, operated by an A330, from Singapore to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Between the three, nearly twenty-fours of experience on board Singapore metal was accrued, and now it’s time to share:

Check-in / security

Our journey starts in Los Angeles LAX, the only place I needed to check in. The airline did set us up with Suites Check-in as a nice courtesy (though Airchive paid for the tickets). It is not available to economy passengers but is a nice perk, despite the economy lines being empty at the time. Security made up for the quick check-in, taking an hour to snake through. Even with a brand new terminal, I guess some things about the airport just won’t change.

Singapore’s Changi hub, on the other hand, was LAX’s polar opposite. There were no lines, anywhere, for anything. I left the airport twice during the day, and both times walked right up to immigration and security, practically waltzeing right through. It could not have been easier. Even our stop in Narita, which very unfortunately requires connecting passengers to vacate the airplane and be re-screened, was a comparative piece of cake with a ten minute wait.

Lounges

I was invited by the airline to lounges in LAX and Singapore (yes, I know, another departure from the normal economy experience but trust me, it ends here). First up, LAX’s Star Alliance Lounge in the brand-new international terminal, which serves all Star passengers. The woman manning the door greeted me by name, impressive given that I had not yet given her my ticket and no doubt a good start. Once inside, the lounge proved exceptionally nice, boasting comfortable seating areas, excellent hot/cold food options, and a wide variety of drinks. Other nice amenities include two decks, one indoor and one outdoor, showers, and luggage storage. I would not hesitate to pronounce it the best in the US. Unfortunately day passes are not available: premium travel, frequent flyers, or special invitation only.

SIA lounge star LAX JDL-3 SIA lounge star LAX JDL-1 SIA lounge star LAX JDL-2 SQ lounge JDL-1
From left: Star Alliance Lounge entrance, outdoor lounge, and appetizers. Far right, KrisWorld Silver Lounge in Singapore Changi.

In Singapore the airline relies on its signature KrisWorld lounges. The airport houses four in total, one silver and one gold each in terminals two and three. Though they lack the open air, SoCal feel of the LAX Star lounge, they are no less well appointed. Free internet, free showers, free food, and all of it high quality: a perfect trifecta. Thankfully the lounge access kept me wired in, fueled up, and smelling great through the entire eighteen hour layover. Making a rookie mistake of not booking a hotel for part of the day I even slept for five hours in the terminal three silver lounge. Not as good as a hotel, but far better than a coach seat. Also notably, we visited only the silver lounges. From what I can tell, the only difference between that and gold is bathroom/shower accessibility.

Boarding

SQ A380 JDL-1Surprisingly, boarding zoomed by on all three flights. It was pretty impressive how little time it took to fill an entire A380, but I guess that’s what three jetbridges for a single plane can do. The A330 took a tad bit longer, but nothing to report really. What was notable was the delightful helpfulness of the cabin crew in ushering people to their seats. On all three flights a flight attendant personally escorted me to my seat, took my hand luggage for me, and then went back for the next passenger in line. It certainly made a good first impression.

The Seats

Seat 44K on the Airbus A380

Seat 44K on the Airbus A380

The first flight, Singapore 11, went from LAX to Singapore, with a three hour stop in Tokyo. Consequently almost twenty hours were spent in seat 44K, located on the lower deck of the Airbus A380 next to the over-wing exit. Being an exit row there was a ton of leg room, despite the 3-3-3 configuration. The TV monitor stowed under the immobile armrest, while a tethered remote tucked into the armrest itself. A power port was located under the seat as well. I’d estimate twenty-five degrees of recline, along with a surprisingly sculpted backrest and wings on the headrest.

In short, it was great for the first eleven hours while awake. Sleeping? Not so much. I did sleep on most of the overnight flight from Tokyo to Singapore, and it was more comfortable than expected. Yet I still found myself waking up every hour to reposition, cajole a sleeping limb awake, or to take a drink of water. It wasn’t pleasant, but it could have been worse.

EXTRA: Singapore Airlines Retires World’s Longest Flight

Just one last note on the exit row, the seats cost an extra $50, which is a steal of a deal considering how long the flight is. The tradeoff comes in the location right next to the lavatories, with its bright lights flashing into your eyes every time someone comes in or out. And since the space is so big and the lavs so close, people assume they can queue for the line, or do yoga, or, in one case, change their pants.

As for the A330 on our second flight, I haven’t confirmed it but the seats were almost identical to the A380. I had seat 38A for this flight, so no exit row, but it was good enough for the four hour flight. Thirty-two inches of pitch with a seat-width of 19 inches was tolerable. The two-four-two configuration made it even better. Several power jacks, footrest, seat-back TV, and tethered remote were included.

The Meals

Drink and meal service was identical across all flights, so I won’t belabor here.

Like most economy cabin meals, the entire service came in one fell-swoop. Between the three flights I had three meals (it would have been five had I not slept through two). To give a taste of what was on board, one meal consisted of potato salad with pork moradella sausage appetizer in the top left corner, while a beef sirloin entree with roasted veges and potatoes graced the bottom right. Elsewhere, two Ritz crackers, a slice of Tillamook cheddar, and a roll were located on the tray. Another featured Japanese cold noodles with simmered pork and steamed rice, raspberry cream cake, and green tea. Verdict? Pretty good as far economy meals go. The meat was moist, vegetables crisp, and taste not bad, though it did lack a variety of flavors.

SQ A380 JDL-1-5 SQ A380 JDL-1-4

Beverage-wise, I made sure to have a few Singapore Slings, a tasty and potent mixed drink made famous in Singapore, on each flight. Even in economy the options for drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, were fairly extensive. Water and juices were regularly available throughout the flight, and could be had in the galleys or from roving crew members.

Entertainment

SQ A380 JDL-1-3Dubbed KrisWorld, Singapore’s entertainment system features a dizzying array of visual content from Bollywood to Hollywood and everything in between. Audio is equally well-stocked, or least it had several albums I really liked, which were not done justice by the mediocre standard-issue headphones. It is operated solely via a tethered remote, allowing for moderately intuitive navigation. The system occasionally struggled to keep up with content browsing and loading, otherwise working fine in playback mode. Consequently I’m led to believe that it was not the latest iteration of KrisWorld, rolled out in September of 2013. Since I had an exit row, the screen module swings up from below the seat and thus appeared to be a little smaller than the 10.6 inch screen found in the seat-back elsewhere in the cabin.

RELATED: Singapore Unveils Latest & Greatest Cabin, Notches Bar a Bit Higher

Singapore Changi

I do not usually make space for an airport in a review, but it is impossible to ignore the enormously impressive asset the carrier has in its Changi hub. It is chock full of amenities, from extensive shopping to post immigration transit hotels, butterfly gardens to pools, free massage chairs to cactus gardens. It is about as good a place as one can get to be stuck between flights for eighteen hours. Connections would be far more pleasant if every airport were as accommodating to the passenger experience as Changi is.

Changi JDL-1-3

Bottom Line

Overall, above average. The food met, if not slightly exceeded, expectations: fitting portions and good quality, though slightly lacking in taste. The seat was surprisingly comfortable, and met coach expectations for sleeping. The expansive variety in the entertainment system wins it a solid above average grade. Lounges, Singapore Changi; all above average as well.

What really won me over, however, was the attentiveness, friendliness, and professionalism of the cabin crew. I have said it before and will again, it’s the staff that makes a good experience a great one. And Changi is a must-see for any traveler through the region: you won’t regret a stop.

Twenty-four hours of transit in economy is never going to be a picnic. Singapore makes it far more pleasant, however. The carrier economy earns our stamp of approval.

Full disclosure, the airline provided us with lounge access and expedited check in. The ticket was paid for by Airchive. Our opinions remain our own.

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Contact the author at Jeremy.Lindgren@Airchive.com

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United to Close Down Cleveland’s Concourse D

By Jack Harty / Published April 7, 2014

Photo by Jack Harty / Airchive

Photo by Jack Harty / Airchive

United Airlines will effectively close down Concourse D at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on June 5th as it consolidates post-hub operations. The move will take on the last day the carrier will operate with the city as a hub, reducing the carrier to operating only out of Concourse C.

Concourse D has traditionally been home to the carrier’s regional operations, which took the brunt of the hit when the carrier announced it would dehub the city back in February.

The airline says that it will still honor the lease agreement it has with the airport, set through 2027.

United Airlines has also formally notified employees about future needs based on the plan to reduce service at the airport. As a result, 430 United airport operations employees will be laid off. However, “the airline said they are hoping the employees will find opportunities at other airports, get early retirement or find something through job fairs” according to Fox News 8 Cleveland.

In a statement, Airport Director Ricky Smith said they are still working to determine the impact of the route cuts, and they will put together a team to create a plan for airport facilities to ensure “optimal utilizations and customer service.”

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Contact the author at Jack.Harty@Airchive.com

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