Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More widebody freighters soon

The Aero-News Network (ANN) reports that Boeing expects that the global air cargo market will continue its growth patterns of the past few years, with strong 20-year growth. This pattern will result in doubling of the world freighter fleet from 1,789 to 3,563 airplanes.
"Relatively stable total fleet numbers over the past five years are a bit misleading since strong deliveries have been offset by a roughly equal number of retirements," said Jim Edgar, regional director, Cargo Marketing for Asia.

"Rising fuel prices apply replacement pressure on older inefficient fleets, contributing to unprecedented freighter interest while we experience minimal negative impact upon traffic levels."

Most of these additions -- nearly 62 percent --– will be in the widebody category (medium widebody plus large freighters). Widebody freighters with a capacity of 40 tons or more will increase in share from 50 percent of the current fleet to 64 percent of the 2025 fleet. Consequently, there will be an increase in overall average freighter airplane payload. These findings are consistent with prior years' forecasts.

"The total number of airplanes in the freighter fleet forecast is only slightly higher than last year's totals," said Edgar. "However, the move to large freighters is already taking hold as the 2005 fleet is only 50 percent standard-body freighters, versus 53 percent for the same segment in 2004. The underlying trend towards accelerated widebody growth, encompassing such airplanes as the 747 freighter family and the 777 Freighter, is masked by this retirement of older standard-body freighters."

Standard-body freighters are defined in the forecast as having less than 50 tons capacity and the body width of single-aisle passenger airplanes. The share of these freighters will decrease from 50 percent to 36 percent over the next two decades. In many cases, operators such as express carriers prefer medium widebodies as a replacement for retiring standard-body freighters.

Freighters, as a share of the global jetliner fleet, will remain at about 10 percent during the forecast period, and by 2025, freighters of all sizes will provide more than half of the world's total air cargo capacity, a slight increase from today and consistent with last year'’s forecast.
According to ANN, Boeing provides more than 90% of the world's freighter capacity at the present time, and this figure is expected to remain stable.

Source: Boeing Projects Air Cargo Fleet to Shift Further Toward Widebody Freighters - Aero-News Network

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Honda to join jet aviation market

Japan-based company Honda Motor Co. has announced that it will enter the aviation industry in the near future by producing a small jet aircraft. The company will begin taking orders this fall for the twin-engine HondaJet. The first jets are expected to be delivered in 2010.

A New York Times article, republished on the International Herald Tribune website says:
The HondaJet ... is the latest variation on Honda's tradition of offering all manner of motorized products. From its roots as an engine maker, Honda has built motorcycles, lawn mowers, cars, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and personal watercraft.

Regardless, the HondaJet, which has been under development for nine years, will face mushrooming competition in the very-light jet market, made up of planes weighing a maximum of 10,000 pounds, or 22,000 kilos, that can be flown by one pilot. The jets usually cost between $1.5 million and $4 million.

At least a dozen manufacturers, including Eclipse, Cessna and Embraer, plan to offer very light jets, which are aimed at owners of small businesses who do not need bigger planes or do not want to pay millions of dollars more to Gulfstream, Bombardier and Boeing.

Honda officials estimated that the very-light jet market would total about 200 planes per year and said that it hoped it could capture a good share of those sales. It would not be more specific about its sales target, nor say in which city the planes would be built.

But Honda said it hoped that the jet's unique features would set it apart. For one thing, the engines will be mounted over the wings, not over the tail as on many private jets. For another, the plane will make extensive use of composite materials instead of steel, which will make the HondaJet lighter and permit it to use less fuel.
The small jet will be capable of carrying seven people, including the pilot.

Source: Honda readies jet to join aviation market - International Herald Tribune

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Monday, July 24, 2006

A380 in Etihad livery begins hot trials

Want to see how the new Airbus A380 will look when it goes into service with Etihad Airways? There's a picture on the website that shows an A380 in Etihad livery.

The aircraft is in Abu Dhabi this week for hot weather trials.

Read the article and see the photo here: Picture: Airbus A380 begins hot trials in Abu Dhabi in partial Etihad livery -

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

United CEO: U.S. airlines over-regulated

Glenn Tilton, CEO of United Airlines parent UAL Corp., told an aviation conference last week that government regulations are holding back U.S. Airlines from competing with emerging international "super-carriers."

Business Week reports on what Tilton said:
...Limits on open access to foreign markets and cross-border investment opportunities need to be dropped. The over-regulation, he said, is the reason no U.S. airline is among the top 20 that fly internationally as measured by operating profitability.

He singled out the Department of Transportation's 11-year-old international aviation policy as not reflecting changed market realities, citing it as preventing the development of carrier combinations across national borders such as KLM and Air France in Europe.

"The restructuring of the network carriers has strengthened our ability to compete," said the chief executive of United and parent UAL Corp., which exited bankruptcy protection in February after 38 months of restructuring. "As we move to the future, we should be able to compete more effectively in the global market, not limited by regulatory 'protections' from international competition or international investment."

Airlines, Tilton said, should be allowed to function "the same way as other global businesses -- driven by the dictates of a free market, not government edicts."
Tilton said that airlines should be able to pursue whatever opportunities they can that make sense.
"We ought to be able to create in this country powerful combinations of companies that still are able to compete effectively in the U.S. and the consumer has no less choice," he said.
Source: United CEO: U.S. airlines over-regulated - Business Week

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Anti-terror airline cutlery?

I suppose we should file this somewhere between "Everything is a Weapon" and "Leave All Blades Behind."

From the Times Online website in the UK:
A British company has produced "anti-terror cutlery" for use on board aircraft.

The knives made by Arthur Price have shortened blades with rounded ends, and the forks have prongs that the company claims are too small to be used as a weapon.

The cutlery has been designed to meet guidelines issued by the Department for Transport.

A spokesman said orders had been taken and BAA, the owner of the UK's biggest airports, was considering the products.
Source: Anti-terror airline cutlery takes off - Times Online, UK

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Profits expected for U.S. airlines

An article from the Dallas Morning News, republished on the Airport Business news website tells us that the combination of higher fares and fuller airplanes is expected to result in profitable quarterly earnings reports from a number of U.S. airlines.

Given the recent skyrocketing of fuel prices, this is particularly good news.
"June quarter results for the U.S. airline industry are expected to be strong," Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Linenberg said in a report Friday, "and we think September's results could be even better."

Southwest Airlines Co. and AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines Inc., both are expected to report higher profits Wednesday when they kick off the earnings season for airlines.

Dallas-based Southwest is expected to report net income of 26 cents per share, or about $209 million, according to a consensus of industry analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. In second quarter 2005, Southwest earned 18 cents per share, or $144 million.

AMR is projected to post a profit of $1.14 per share, or about $215 million. The Fort Worth-based carrier earned 30 cents, or $58 million, in the 2005 quarter, only the third time since the start of 2001 that the company had reported a quarterly profit.

On Thursday, Continental Airlines Inc. is expected to report net income of $1.90 a share, or about $167 million. A year earlier, it earned $1.26 a share, or $100 million. Excluding a special one-time item a year ago, Continental earned 69 cents a share or $53 million.
Northwest and Delta, both operating under bankruptcy protection at present, are expected to report losses; but they are expected to be the exceptions.
One can look to UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines Inc., as an example of the improved fortunes for major airlines. UAL is expected to post a profit of about 46 cents a share, or about $45 million.

That's not much for what is traditionally one of the best, busiest quarters of the year. But it's a significant improvement for the nation's second-largest carrier, which lost more than $3 billion in the second quarters from 2001 to 2005, an average of over $600 million per period.

In fact, it will mark UAL's first real profit in any quarter since second quarter 2000, if one excludes first quarter 2006 when a write-off of nearly $23 billion in liabilities was booked as income as UAL emerged from bankruptcy.

The star of this round of earnings may be US Airways Group Inc., which combined last year with America West Holdings Corp. Analysts expect the carrier to report earnings of $3.31 a share, or about $285 million.
Source: U.S. Airlines Expected to Show Profit for First Time in Years - Airport Business

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