Buoyed by a solid first-quarter result, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury has added some color to the potential of a future A350F. In comments made at the earnings call, as well as in a later interview, he noted that, while no decision has yet been made, Airbus is acutely aware that an opportunity exists.
Historically, Boeing has been the dominant force in cargo market supply. It lists more than 760 freighter variants of its aircraft ordered by customers in its history, with 732 delivered to customers to date. That excludes the many convertible ‘combi’ aircraft it produced, and the passenger to freight conversions it has undertaken.
In contrast, Airbus has only ever offered the A330-200F as a new build cargo carrier. It has sold only 38, and has a backlog of zero. But with rumors of an A350-based freighter on the horizon, could that be about to change?
During the manufacturer’s first-quarter earnings call today, CEO Guillaume Faury noted that Airbus is not happy with the dominance of its competitor in this field. He said,
“We have the products to be more aggressive with that in the future … When it (our offering) comes is not clear. We are looking at that segment very seriously. We think it’s not healthy to have one player on the market. We want to bring our contribution to that market situation.”
In any industry, one supplier having a monopoly position is never a good situation. Although Boeing has historically dominated the cargo airliner business, an A350F could well be the catalyst for something of a shakeup.
We will be more aggressive
Airbus’ widebody products are tried and tested, proven to be both economical and capable in the passenger market. A transition to cargo would serve to bring all these operational benefits to a new segment of the market. Speaking with Bloomberg TV after the earnings call, Faury added some color to the strength of the potential offering.
“On the widebodies, we are not a major player today in the freight market. Our main competitor is almost exclusive in that segment, and it’s an important segment moving forward, so we are looking at that segment very carefully.
“We don’t like the idea that we are not active in that segment, and that’s probably an area where we will be more aggressive and where we will invest, moving forward.”
Faury noted that Airbus has two strong platforms in its current widebody lineup. Both the A330neo and the A350XWB are ripe for a freighter variant. Given the current climate of a buoyant cargo market, it could be an opportune moment for an announcement to be made.
Until the decision is made, there is no decision
Although Faury spoke positively about the potential for an A350F, he made it clear that nothing is set in stone at this time. During the Bloomberg interview, he commented,
“Until the decision is made, there is no decision, so I have no time frame to share with you … We’re really looking at the market potential, and the strength of the product and we believe, as I said, our widebody platforms are very strong products for freight.”
Nevertheless, he noted that the demand is there. Faury said that the feedback from Airbus customers is that the widebodies, and particularly the A350, would be strong contenders in the freight segment, and that they would like to see Airbus competing in that market.
While the CEO remains on the fence regarding whether the project will go ahead, it seems to have all the elements of a successful development. Boeing has dominated freight for many decades, and an offering from Airbus would disrupt that monopoly, which can only be a good thing for airlines.
Game Changing? British Airways Trials 25 Second COVID-19 Test
British Airways has become the first airline in the world to trial a game changing new technology that can detect COVID in less than 25 seconds. The Pelican COVID-19 Ultra Rapid test uses saliva to detect both the S and the N proteins with 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The test is being trialed with BA crew initially, but could prove to be a key tool in reopening travel.
The issue of testing for COVID, either before or after a flight, is one that is fraught with problems. The most accurate testing method, the PCR test, can take two or three days to come back from the lab. That raises questions about whether you could have picked up the virus after the test but before the flight, and at the other end, it can extend the time passengers have to quarantine at their destination.
UK flag carrier British Airways is trialing a technology that could put an end to all this uncertainty. Working in partnership with a medical technology company called Canary Global, the airline is trailing the world’s first ‘ultra-rapid’ COVID test, which delivers results within 25 seconds.
The product is called the Pelican COVID-19 Ultra Rapid test, and is hoped to be a leap forward in the effective reopening of travel. Sean Doyle, British Airways Chairman and CEO, commented on the trial, saying,
“As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again, whether it’s for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad.
“We think this new ultra-rapid test is a game changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”
The airline is first testing it with its flight and cabin crew in order to compare its efficacy against the current standard tests. It has been approved for use in the UK and Europe, and is undergoing FDA assessment to gain approval across the pond too.
How it works
The Pelican COVID-19 test is a non-invasive test that relies on saliva to detect strains of COVID. That will come as a relief to those who have endured months of poking sticks up their nose and down their throat.
BA says that the user simply needs to provide a saliva sample, which is placed into a disposable sensor unit. This is shaken and inserted into a digital reader, which connects via Bluetooth to a smart device such as a tablet or phone. Within 25 seconds, the results of the test are displayed on an app on the device.
The test will detect both the S and the N proteins and promises to deliver PCR-like reliability in detecting both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The company claims 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity through the use of the test. CEO of Canary Global and inventor of the ultra-rapid test, Raj Reddy, said,
“Combining the power of nanosensor and digital detection technology, the Pelican CV19 test is the first ultra-rapid test that can return a PCR-like accuracy of 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity.
“We developed the test with the travel industry in mind where speed, accuracy and ease of use are paramount. We are very excited to partner with BA as pioneer and industry leader to trial this test; and we hope the Pelican test can soon be used as a standard test for travellers and crew around the world.”
British Airways is the first to try out this new testing method. It says that, if all goes well with the forthcoming trials, it hopes to be able to offer the test on routes where a PCR level of testing sensitivity is required. If the test proves to be as good as it sounds, it could indeed be a game changer not just for travel, but for hospitality, events and many other industries that have suffered at the hands of the pandemic.
The Simple Flying Podcast Episode 66: UK Green List, Malaysia Airlines A380 Retirement
Simple Flying’s latest podcast is live and ready for you to enjoy. Hosted this week by Tom Boon, our Content Manager, and Jo Bailey, our Editor, our 66th episode is now available for your listening pleasure.
The Simple Flying podcast is released weekly and is hot off the press for you today. We aim to cover some of the most important commercial aviation stories of the week, with commentary and occasionally a little bit of fun!
What’s in episode 66?
In episode 66 of the Simple Flying podcast, we discuss:
Listen to episode 66 now:
The Simple Flying podcast is available on the following platforms.
As our podcast is growing, we would love to hear what you think! Please leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments section of this article.
Additionally, if you have a question you’d like answered on next week’s episode, leave it down in the comments or contact us on social media.
What Happened To UK Regional Carrier Air Southwest?
In the realms of modern commercial aviation, most of us will, quite understandably, link the name ‘Southwest’ with Dallas-based low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines. However, this compass point also gave its name to a lesser-known regional carrier in the UK, known as Air Southwest. But what exactly happened to this small de Havilland Dash 8 operator?
Where did Air Southwest fly?
The goal of Air Southwest was to replace British Airways in markets from airports in the southwest of England. This came about after the UK flag carrier elected to withdraw its domestic services from the region. Having been established by Sutton Harbour Holdings in May 2003, Air Southwest began operating revenue-earning services that October.
The regional carrier was based at Plymouth City Airport in Devon, from which it launched its first route. This saw it serve London Gatwick via nearby Newquay in neighboring Cornwall. Shortly afterward, Air Southwest also introduced a route from Plymouth to Manchester via Bristol, from which it also later began serving the Channel Island of Jersey.
In the years that followed, Air Southwest established a comprehensive regional network despite its small fleet size. For example, 2009 saw it launch London Oxford Airport‘s first-ever scheduled services, in the form of a weekly rotation to Jersey.
Aside from a raft of destinations in England and the Channel Islands, the carrier also served Ireland (Cork, Dublin), Scotland(Aberdeen, Glasgow), and Wales (Cardiff). It even reached mainland Europe with a seasonal service from Newquay to Grenoble, France.
The end of an era
Air Southwest established a partnership with fellow UK regional carrier Eastern Airways in February 2010. By the end of the year, Eastern had taken the partnership a step further by purchasing Air Southwest. However, with the latter having experienced a £600,000 ($835,000) profit drop, the end was nigh for the Plymouth-based carrier.
According to the BBC, low demand had caused the airline’s routes to become financially unviable. As such, Air Southwest announced on July 14th, 2011 that it would be ceasing operations by the end of September that year. A gradual closure followed, with flights from its Plymouth base being the first to cease, on July 28th. This ultimately led to the closure of Plymouth City Airport, which took place on December 23rd, 2011.
September 14th then saw Air Southwest cease its operations from Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, and Manchester. The final airports to serve the airline’s flights were Aberdeen, Bristol, Cork, Dublin, and Leeds Bradford. Air Southwest flew its last services from these airports on September 30th, 2011, ending just under eight years of operational history.
The fates of its aircraft
According to Planespotters.net, Air Southwest operated five 50-seat de Havilland Dash 8-300 turboprops during its eight-year existence. Of these, two were with the airline from the start, in October 2003. The others joined in October 2004, May 2005, and March 2006. After the airline’s collapse, three of the five aircraft were transferred to Eastern Airways.
Another (G-WOWD) went straight on to fly for Australian carrier Skytrans Airlines. Meanwhile, the last (G-WOWC) returned to its Canadian lessor, Avmax Group. Incredibly, despite now being around 30 years old, four of the five ex-Air Southwest Dash 8-300s remain active to this day. They presently ply their trade back in their Canadian homeland, at carriers such as Air Inuit, North Cariboo Air, and Perimeter Aviation.
Did you ever fly with Air Southwest? How did you find it compared to other UK-based regional carriers? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
CMA CGM Air Cargo announces three new destinations
- Three new destinations: Dubai, Beirut, Istanbul.
- 7 destinations served: Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Liège, Dubai, Beirut and Istanbul.
CMA CGM AIR CARGO is adding three new destinations: Dubai, Beirut and Istanbul. They will complement its existing services to and from Liège, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
Three new destinations expanding CMA CGM AIR CARGO’s offer
Two months after its first air freight services were launched, CMA CGM AIR CARGO is now introducing regular connections between Liège (LGG) and Dubai (DWC) from May 19. Dubai is a hub ideally located at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, and it possesses all the latest infrastructure for handling goods requiring short transit times rapidly and reliably.
With its services to Dubai, the CMA CGM Group can also provide with a combined Sea-Air offer comprising shipping, logistics and air freight. That will give you the benefit of an end-to-end, agile full-service offering.
CMA CGM AIR CARGO also plans to start up regular services from Liège to Beirut (BEY) and Istanbul (IST) over the next few weeks. From its Liège base, CMA CGM AIR CARGO will offer rapid connection times between these new destinations and the United States.
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