Air Côte d’Ivoire has become the first A320neo operator in the West-African region. On Thursday, the carrier took delivery of its first New Engine Option of the A320 family, as the plane carried humanitarian supplies from Toulouse to Abidjan. The airline will begin deploying the jet on regional routes but eyes an expansion to destinations in South Africa in the future.
Ferried a ton of supplies for health and education
On Thursday, February 18th, Air Côte d’Ivoire took delivery of its first Airbus A320neo. This makes the Abidjan-based carrier the first operator of the type in the West-African region. Ownership was transferred on Wednesday, and one day later, the aircraft took off from the manufacturer’s facilities in Toulouse.
Not only on delivery, the jet also had a second mission. It carried over a ton of humanitarian goods such as medical supplies and children’s toys. The initiative is a partnership between Aviation sans Frontiéres and the Airbus Foundation and part of Air Côte d’Ivoire’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive.
The aircraft, registered as TU-TSX, took off from Toulouse, France, at 11:12 local time. Following five hours and 38 minutes in the air, it landed at Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Côte d’Ivoire’s financial capital of Abidjan. Viewers could follow the live event and ceremony of the delivery streamed via the airline’s social media.
Le 17 février 2021 à 11h GMT, le Transfert de Titre de l’Airbus A320neo à Air Côte d’Ivoire a été signé entre Airbus aviation et les dirigeants de la compagnie.
RDV dés 16H sur la page Facebook de Air Côte d’Ivoire pour ne rien rater.#AirCotedIvoire #A320neo pic.twitter.com/rMr8S64yhT
— Air Côte d’Ivoire (@AirCI_Officiel) February 18, 2021
The A320neo joins The West African flag-carrier’s fleet of four De Havilland DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprops, three Airbus A319, and two Airbus A320ceos. It is the third Airbus the airline has taken delivery of straight from the manufacturer.
Regional with potential for expansion
Initially, it will deploy the jet on its regional network for Senegal, Gabon, and Cameroon. Meanwhile, the carrier intends to add South African destinations to the newcomer’s roster at a later stage, taking advantage of the jet’s operational flexibility.
Air Côte d’Ivoire is the flag carrier of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. The airline was founded in May 2012 and commenced operations six months later. It succeeded the country’s former national airline, Air Ivoire, which went bankrupt in 2011.
It is owned 58% by Côte d’Ivoire’s government, 11% by Air France-KLM, 23% by a consortium of private Ivorian investors called Golden Road, and 8% by other investors.
Air Côte d’Ivoire’s Airbus family
The airline took delivery of its first aircraft, an Airbus A319, on lease from Macquarie AirFinance and previously operated by Air France, in October 2012. The second jet of the type with the same arrangement and history arrived a few weeks later.
The third A319 did not arrive until 2017, when an aircraft leased from AirCap previously operated by Mexicana, AeroGal, and Avianca Ecuador arrived in Abidjan. The carrier’s two own A320s also arrived in 2017, the first in July and the second in September.
Have you flown with Air Côte D’Ivoire, or on the A320neo? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
Could The Boeing NMA Be Perfect For A Post-Pandemic World?
Boeing’s new midsize aircraft (NMA) is a hotly awaited jet of which the details are a little scarce. But, we know that the NMA will be in the smaller segment of widebody jets that may end up coming in two different sizes that could be perfect to replace both the Boeing 757 and 767s. This sets it up well for a post-pandemic world.
Airlines already want the NMA
Airlines have made it no secret that the NMA is something they want to look at. Delta Air Lines, in particular, has been pushing the NMA hard for a key reason. The airline once considered buying up to 200 of those aircraft, though it had nothing finalized at the time.
With Boeing 757 and 767 jets that will need replacing in this decade, the airline is intently watching Boeing to see what they offer as they try and solve the problem posed by their Boeing 767s. With Airbus already competing hard for business, Boeing has its work cut out for it.
Delta is not the only airline that could benefit from the NMA. United is another airline that could easily take a sizable number of Boeing NMAs. In contrast, plenty of other airlines around the world could look at the plane for moving into an era of narrowbody long-range travel.
The NMA could be good for a post-crisis network
Airlines know that there is depressed travel demand for international long-haul travel in a post-crisis world through at least 2022, barring any major changes. So, routes that were previously viable with larger aircraft are not so much anymore. Think leisure-oriented long-haul routes, such as from the East Coast of the US to Lisbon or Geneva or Berlin, among so many other options.
Airlines know there will be demand for perhaps around 200-or-so passengers each day per way, but not the 250+ there was pre-crisis. So, the NMA could easily fit in well as a smaller long-haul jet that can make those routes economically viable where a Boeing 787 or Airbus A330 would not be terribly viable.
The NMA would also work when demand recovers
When demand recovers, the NMA can go back and fill in the gaps of lower-demand routes that are absolutely not viable now but would be viable in the future. Think of some weaker routes that airlines have canceled now, such as from the US to Manchester, or Prague, or Budapest.
The NMA, presumably with superior economics to a Boeing 757 or 767, could also open up new cities to receive airline service. One big X-Factor is the range of the NMA. If the NMA gets the range to run transpacific routes, then this could seriously expand connectivity from points on the West Coast of the US to Japan or South Korea, or else open up additional destinations in the South Pacific.
The NMA also needs to hold similar qualities to the 757. That is, the plane should be able to be used on long-haul international and domestic routes. So, when an airline wants to put the aircraft into service when demand is a little weaker, like off-peak seasons, the aircraft should be able to make domestic routes work, such as transcontinental flights between cities like Boston and Seattle or New York and Portland, among others.
Ultimately, the Boeing NMA could give Boeing a hot-selling aircraft that would have a lot of appeal to many airlines and be able to do many different missions for many years to come and save it from losing market share to the Airbus A321XLR. This is exactly a product that could fill out the gap in Boeing’s aircraft portfolio. Boeing just needs to get the project underway and out in time.
Do you think the NMA would be the perfect post-pandemic airplane? Let us know in the comments!
Air Calédonie Sends ATR Aircraft To Australia To Escape Cyclone
In the last few hours, Air Calédonie has sent its entire fleet to Brisbane, Australia. The airline is protecting its fleet from the incoming cyclone Niran, which has maximum sustained wind of 204 km/h, according to local reports.
Moving the planes from the path of the cyclone
Currently, the tropical cyclone Niran is moving southeast over the Coral Sea towards New Caledonia. Earlier today, the cyclone center was located approximately 980 kilometers north-west of the Belep Islands of New Caledonia. It had maximum sustained wind of 204 km/h.
According to local sources, Niran is expected to pass along the western coast of western New Caledonia on March 6. The maximum sustained wind could reach velocities of 210 km/h.
Because of this, the French Collectivity issued a Level two Cyclone Alert and expects heavy rain, strong winds, and high waves.
Air Calédonie, the local carrier, wasted no time. According to stats from RadarBox.com, the airline moved its four ATR aircraft to Brisbane, Australia, on March 5.
The four aircraft landed between 18:43 and 20:43, Australian Eastern Time at Brisbane International Airport.
We contacted Air Calédonie for more information. So far, we haven’t received an answer. We’ll keep you updated if that changes.
What should an airline do to face a hurricane?
Hurricanes and cyclones can be disruptive to airline operations. Most of the time, we hear of airlines issuing travel waivers and canceling flights due to weather forecasts.
But they also protect their aircraft by sending them to secure locations. Not every aircraft, though. Flying every plane away from the storm is not very economical, considering that commercial operations cease at the very last minute.
Nevertheless, Air Calédonie could do this because it has had minimal operation in the last few months. According to RadarBox.com, the ATR fleet of Air Caledónie is averaging 1.2 hours of flight per day in the last year.
How do airlines prepare themselves against hurricanes and cyclones?
Fortunately, forecasts now can predict a cyclone’s general track several days beforehand. This allows the airlines to make critical decisions and keep everyone safe.
The first step an airline typically does when a tropical cyclone is forecasted is to issue a travel waiver, said WorldAware. This allows passengers to protect themselves against unexpected cancellations.
As the storm approaches, the airlines start doing mass flight cancellations, scratching every operation out of airports expected to be hit by cyclones or hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the airlines are trying to rebook passengers onto earlier flights and get them into safety.
Nevertheless, airliners rarely fly over hurricanes because it also poses an incredible risk and limits the pilots’ options in case of an emergency.
A brief history of Air Calédonie
Air Calédonie is a small but historical airline in Oceania. It was founded in 1954 and uses the Nouméa Magenta Airport as its main hub.
In its first 60 years of history, Air Calédonie has transported a total of 10 million passengers, said the carrier.
It currently has a fleet of four ATR aircraft, with an average age of 3.8 years. According to its website, it has three destinations: the isle of Pines, Loyalty Islands, and the North Province.
Have you ever traveled with Air Calédonie? How was it? Let us know in the comments.
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Flying with Rex on its inaugural domestic Boeing 737 service
After much anticipation, Regional Express more commonly known as Rex has finally launched domestic services using its Boeing 737 aircraft. During the inaugural ceremony, Rex Director John Sharp and Melbourne Airport CE, Lyell Strambi spoke to the press about the huge efforts put in by staff to make the new operation a reality and the plans for the future including the ambitious goal of expanding the jet services to serve all major cities in Australia, which will also link up with Rex’s existing regional network. During the speeches, passengers on the inaugural flight were treated to scones with jam and cream, as well as freshly made coffee from a pop-up cafe at the gate.
After the conclusion of the speeches, the Rex executives proceeded with the more aesthetic parts of the media event including the cutting of the immaculately designed celebratory cake. The two-tiered cake depicted a Rex 737 aircraft flying between Melbourne and Sydney. This was swiftly followed by the cutting of the ribbon across the archway leading to the boarding gate for flight ZL18; the inaugural Rex 737 flight from Melbourne Airport (MEL) to Sydney Airport (SYD), in New South Wales.
About two minutes later, boarding was called for business class passengers first, with economy passengers being called shortly after. As passengers boarded the Boeing 737, they passed through a specially made archway and down the long, winding airbridge to the aircraft, before being greeted by the friendly cabin manager waiting at the door.
The cabin onboard the Rex’s Boeing 737 registered VH-RQC was more or less the same as that of its previous owner Virgin Australia, except for some minor exceptions such as the changing of the seat trim among other things. Despite the aircraft’s age, the cabin was in excellent condition, in terms of both cleanliness and overall feel. Rex executives travelling onboard flight ZL18 were keen to reassure travellers that the airline will soon make more dramatic changes to the aircraft’s cabin with its third and fourth 737s registered VH-PAG and VH-REX. According to the airline executives these aircraft have been delivered already with a more updated cabin.
In order to celebrate, the Aviation Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) at Melbourne Airport performed a special water cannon salute as the Boeing 737 taxied to the runway for its maiden flight. After a smooth takeoff and gradual climb, the seatbelt sign was then switched off, with the cabin crew then commencing the airline’s inflight service. Throughout the cruise period of the flight, several speeches were made by Rex Executives like John Sharp, congratulating his team on helping establish this new operation. Passengers on the flight also heard from Kay Hull, an official Rex ambassador and former Federal Australian Member of Parliament. The airline also provided passengers with complimentary Byron Bay Cookies and cupcakes which were decorated with Rex branding.
Throughout the flight, various prize draws took place to mark the special occasion with some prize packs featuring free flights and accommodation to Rex destinations around Australia. A model of a Rex Boeing 737 was also given to the youngest passenger onboard the inaugural flight to Sydney.
Unfortunately, before long it was time to land in Sydney and at 8.25 am on March 1st, 2021, the first Rex Boeing 737 commercial flight was complete after a spectacularly smooth touchdown. However, the formalities were not over just yet. Around about halfway down the runway and just before Sydney’s Terminal 2, where the flight would be parking, the Sydney Airport Aviation Rescue Firefighter’s (ARFF) provided the aircraft with a second water cannon salute. While this was occurring, news helicopters circled the aircraft and capturing some incredible footage which would be later broadcasted acorss the Australian news channels.
Once the flight arrived at Sydney Airport’s Terminal 2, passengers and crew from the flight were once again greeted by a strong media presence with many passengers being interviewed about their excellent experience onboard Rex’s first 737 revenue flight. At the boarding gate in Sydney, Rex had similar formalities set up to what was in Melbourne ready for passengers to board the first Rex flight from Sydney to Melbourne and only the second ever commercial jet service flown by Rex, which had the flight number ZL33.
In conclusion, Rex provided an excellent service onboard its first Boeing 737 domestic flight between Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney (SYD) and offered it at a very competitive price. The crew were very friendly and excited as were many of the passengers to be onboard the carrier’s inaugural flight. Rex’s future success in domestic jet operations will very much depend on its ability to keep up with competitive fares and overall service. If Rex is to be successful it will have to ensure that its country hospitality that they are best known for, does not dissipate as the airline’s operations grow larger.
Finally, AeroNewsX would like to wish Regional Express and all the employees at Rex the best of luck with its new domestic operations using the Boeing 737. AeroNewsX would also like to thank Melbourne International Airport for the opportunity to attend the event and the staff of Regional Express for providing such a very well organised launch.
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Bulgaria’s GullivAir Receives Permission To Operate A330 Flights To The US
Bulgarian startup airline GullivAir was this week awarded permission to fly scheduled and chartered flights to the United States by the US Department of Transportation. The DOT documentation reveals that GullivAir intends to fly three weekly flights out of the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, to New York’s JFK airport. The airline already has two Airbus A330 aircraft that it acquired for this exact purpose, and a third one is coming next month.
GullivAir can now fly to the United States
As of two days ago, since Tuesday 2nd March, GullivAir is the holder of a valid US Department of Transportation air carrier permit. The DOT announced the issuance of the permit two days ago in a regulatory notice seen by Simple Flying. This means that GullivAir is now authorized to operate scheduled and charter flights transporting passengers, property, and mail between the United States and the European Union.
The issuance of the DOT permit has been GullivAir’s goal from the moment the airline was set up. The first aircraft that GullivAir ever acquired, in July 2020, was an Airbus A330 registered as LZ-ONE. GullivAir has always made it clear that it wants to fly to North America with it. The Bulgarian airline has already acquired a second A330 too, delivered last month. Next month, it will receive its third A330.
From Sofia to New York
As Simple Flying reported last year, GullivAir has plans to launch three weekly flights between the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, and New York’s JKF airport. No airline currently serves this route, but passengers wishing to travel between SOF and JFK have a variety of transfer options to get them there.
LOT Polish airlines flies between Sofia and JFK via its hub in Warsaw, Turkish Airlines offers flights via Istanbul, and Lufthansa offers connections via Frankfurt. Bulgaria’s national airline, Bulgaria Air, connects Sofia with New York through its codeshare partners, KLM and Air France, via Paris CDG and Amsterdam.
Despite a wide range of connections available, GullivAir plans to tap into the Bulgaria – North America market by offering direct flights where currently there are none. GullivAir also appears to be hoping to boost its direct SOF-JFK service by developing a feeder network out of Sofia. The airline recently acquired ATR 72-600 aircraft that may be used for this purpose.
GullivAir’s first A330 used to be KLM’s
GullivAir’s first Airbus A330, LZ-ONE, is 13 years old. It was delivered to KLM in 2007, after which it had been with two leasing companies. One of them leased it to Shaheen Air, a Pakistani airline, under the registration 2-PAOH, where it stayed until 2018. After that, it had been parked in California until GullivAir acquired it.
When do you think GullivAir might launch flights from Bulgaria to North America? Do you think these will be successful? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.
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