CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith has confirmed plans to fully integrate the Hop! brand into Air France. The airline will become a regional feeder for Air France, rebranded in line with the main airline. Smith is targeting a shrink of around 50% for Hop!, which will see it emerge as an all-Embraer airline.
An all-Embraer Air France brand
Air France-owned regional airline Hop! has had mixed success as a standalone operator. It’s distinct branding and separate marketing and operations led to inefficiency in the Air France Portfolio, something that the new boss at the group is keen to iron out.
Speaking at this week’s Routes Reconnected, CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith explained the position with Hop!. He said,
“For Hop!, we’ve shrunk it by 50%. It’s going to be at Roissy, CDG, and it’s got a sort of mini-hub at Lyon.
“Hop will become an all-Embraer fleet around those two cities or those two airports. We’re removing the brand, so it’s basically like most regional operators’ airlines; it will be Air France operated by Hop!”
While the rebrand is no big surprise, the news that it will become an all-Embraer fleet is new. Right now, the airline operates a mix of Bombardier and Embraer aircraft, with 25 CRJs and 45 ERJs. The CRJ-700s are aging, averaging 16.5 years across the fleet. However, many of the CRJ-1000s are still quite young, most under 10 years of age.
Also aging is its fleet of ERJ-145s. These 13 aircraft are all over 15 years old, with some as old as 23. Since being grounded earlier this year, none has flown for Hop!. With Smith talking about a 50% shrink, he’s got to be targeting 35 or so aircraft for Hop!. This may well mean only the E-170 and E-190 will stay; perhaps we could even see an order for the reimagined E2 jets in future as well.
Simplifying and boosting efficiency
Smith talked at length about his plans for the main Air France brand, as well as for Transavia and Hop! during the interview. Since his arrival at Air France-KLM in 2018, Smith has been on a mission to drive down the inefficiencies at both airlines, and to streamline every element of its operation.
We’ve already seen the impact of this in a number of moves. Closing down Joon made sense to Smith, because it was really just replicating the work of Air France to no benefit of the business. The downturn in demand gave him his window of opportunity to get shot of the A380s, leaving future large-capacity widebody operations focused on the more efficient A350 and Boeing 777.
Bringing Hop! into the Air France family more closely is simply an extension of everything else he’s been doing. It’s not driven by the pandemic, but has certainly become more urgent. He talked about the inefficiencies of running Hop as a separate entity, saying,
“Hop! was actually marketed separately. It had its own revenue management system, it had its own scheduling depot, and then it would codeshare with Air France. So it’s really going to be a regional feeder carrier.”
In the US, having regional feeders for big airlines at their hubs is normal. Look at American Eagle or Delta Connect, operated by other airlines but with a greater alignment of operations and branding. For Air France, it’s about time – KLM has had Cityhopper for many years, and now both Air France and Hop! will benefit from a similar degree of integration.
Trudeau’s new mandate letters to cabinet prioritize job creation, airline support and new fiscal targets
Bill Curry and Kristy Kirkup Ottawa | January 15, 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released updated ministerial mandate letters on Friday that prioritize job creation, support for Canada’s struggling airline sector and a pledge to spend whatever is needed in the short term to get the country through the pandemic while also setting a longer-term fiscal target for federal finances.
The letters are described as “supplementary” to the ones the Prime Minister issued on Dec. 13, 2019, before the government’s policy plans were sidelined because of COVID-19.
They provide additional detail on the themes the Liberal government outlined in the September Speech from the Throne and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s fall economic statement.
The letters also provide a sense of the priorities for this year’s budget, which will be the Liberals’ first since they were re-elected with a minority mandate in the fall of 2019.
“The government has significantly increased spending during the pandemic in order to achieve our most pressing priority: to help protect Canadians’ health and financial security,” Mr. Trudeau’s letters state. “… We must preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence.”
Before the pandemic, the projected deficit for the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2021, was $28.1-billion, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 31 per cent. As a result of the pandemic and spending on related federal programs, the projected deficit is now $381.6-billion and the debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 50 per cent.
Prolonged business shutdowns in Canada’s two largest provinces – Ontario and Quebec – will add further pressure on Ottawa’s bottom line as more workers turn to Employment Insurance and business owners access emergency programs such as rent support.
Some economists have expressed concern that Ottawa has not articulated a new fiscal anchor, which is a target level for federal deficits and the debt. Mr. Trudeau’s letter to Ms. Freeland addresses this point.
Mr. Trudeau asks his Finance Minister to present “a new fiscal anchor” while also stating that “you will use whatever fiscal firepower is needed in the short term to support people and businesses during the pandemic.” The Prime Minister later states that this should not create new permanent spending.
Ms. Freeland and other ministers are also being asked to “create over one million jobs, restoring employment to levels prior to the pandemic using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly up-skill workers and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.”
New Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who was promoted to cabinet in Tuesday’s shuffle, is assigned to work with cabinet colleagues on measures for the air travel sector that will “ensure Canadians get refunds for air travel cancelled due to the pandemic,” while sustaining regional air infrastructure and supporting regional development and tourism.
Mr. Alghabra is asked to work with new Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau on the government’s response to last January’s Ukraine International Airlines tragedy, in which Iran’s military shot down a passenger plane shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, most of whom were Canadian or travelling to Canada.
Mr. Trudeau’s letter said the government’s response will include “commemorating the lives of the victims and supporting their families, pursuing truth and accountability from Iran, and preventing future disasters. …”
In his mandate letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Mr. Trudeau noted that the country has been confronted with the most serious public health crisis it has ever faced. “The global pandemic has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods and exposed fundamental gaps in our society,” Mr. Trudeau wrote.
Among his requests, the Prime Minister called on Ms. Hajdu to work with the provinces and territories on setting new, national standards for long-term care.
In his letter to Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, the Prime Minister also flagged the need to follow through on commitments that include fulfilling the government’s pledge to end all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves.
At the beginning of December, Mr. Miller said he was taking responsibility and acknowledged the federal government would not meet its March, 2021, target to end all of the water advisories, which was a key promise in the Liberals’ 2015 election campaign.
Misinterpretation of air traffic control communication identified as a factor in August 2019 runway incursion at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport
Richmond Hill, Ontario, 15 January 2021 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A19O0117) into the August 2019 runway incursion between two aircraft at the Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario. There were no injuries.
On 9 August 2019 at 1240 local time, an Air Canada Boeing 777-300 landed on Runway 33L. Three minutes later, at 1243 local time, an Air Georgian Bombardier CRJ 200 was instructed to line up on parallel Runway 33R. In accordance with air traffic control (ATC) instructions, the Boeing 777 was crossing Runway 33R. Simultaneously, the flight crew of the CRJ 200 began its take-off roll on the same runway without a take-off clearance from ATC. When the CRJ 200 flight crew saw the Boeing 777 over the crest of the runway, they rejected the takeoff and exited via a taxiway.
The investigation found that while completing the pre-departure checks, the flight crew of the CRJ 200 was informed of a change in departure instructions. The first officer received and read back the line-up instruction with the departure amendment, but misinterpreted that ATC communication as a clearance for takeoff.
It was determined that the number of pre-departure tasks the flight crew was required to complete within a short amount of time increased their workload, and that the workload was further increased by the additional tasks brought by the change in instructions. Thus, it was found that the increased workload, the expectation to receive a take-off clearance without delay, and the misinterpretation of the line-up instructions led the CRJ 200 flight crew to initiate take-off roll without a take-off clearance. Also, because of the grade profile of Runway 33R, the fuselage of the Boeing 777 would not have been visible to the CRJ 200 flight crew at the start of the take-off roll, therefore they had no visual indication that it was unsafe to begin the takeoff.
Both flight crew members worked an early morning shift after working an evening shift, known as a backward-rotating shift schedule. Although the investigation did not determine that fatigue affected the performance of the flight crew in this occurrence, backward-rotating shift schedules cause circadian rhythm desynchronization, which increases the risk of fatigue in crew members who do not receive sufficient time off to adapt their sleep-wake pattern when working these schedules. Furthermore, if airlines do not inform crew members of the risk of fatigue due to the direction of shift schedule rotation, there is an increased risk that crew members will operate an aircraft while fatigued.
Following the occurrence, NAV CANADA issued a directive reminding air traffic controllers to cancel the take-off clearance or issue an instruction to abort takeoff when runway incursion monitoring and conflict alert system stage 2 alerts are activated by a departing aircraft.
Air Georgian Limited conducted an internal safety investigation as per the company’s safety management system. It amended its standard operating procedures to mandate an ATC query if one of the two crew members was unaware of the content of an ATC clearance or instruction.
See the investigation page for more information.
De Havilland to pause production this year after backlog built
By Scott Hamilton
Jan. 12, 2021, © Leeham News: De Havilland Canada will pause production later this year when the current Dash 8-400 backlog is assembled.
According to data reviewed by LNA, there are 17 Dash 8s scheduled for delivery to customers this year. There are two more that don’t have identified customers. It is unclear if these will be built.
DHC notified suppliers to stop sending parts and components to avoid building whitetails.
De Havilland assembled the Dash 8s at the Toronto plant previously owned by Bombardier. The lease on the facility expires in 2023. There is no decision whether to move the final assembly line to Western Canada, where DHC is headquartered.
With only 17-19 orders for the Dash 8-400, the future is uncertain. There are 325 Dash 8s in storage: 186 -400s, 51 -300s, 25 -200s and 63 -100s. Only the -400s are in production. DHC’s focus right now is to help airlines return the Dash 8 to service, says Philippe Poutissou, vice president of sales and marketing.
With a large inventory of used aircraft and airlines awaiting recovery from the pandemic, there are few new sales opportunities.
DHC offers a firefighting version. Conair, which has two -400s scheduled for delivery this year, is one such customer. A maritime patrol version also is offered.
Rival ATR has a backlog of 46 ATR-42s, the competitor to the out-of-production Dash 8-300. The backlog for the ATR-72-600, the rival to the Dash 8-400, is 175. There are 286 ATR-72-500s/600s and 68 ATR-42-500s/600s in storage.
Air Canada Outlines Route Cuts: Many Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe Flights Suspended
JIM BYERS JANUARY 14, 2021
The pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions are forcing Air Canada to suspend some of their most popular flights, at least temporarily.
In a memo sent to TravelPulse Canada, Canada’s largest airline outlined the details of the 25% capacity reduction they mentioned in a Wednesday statement. The list contains 44 temporarily suspended flights, including 12 domestic, 10 trans-border (USA) and a full 22 international routes.
Popular flights that are being temporarily discontinued include Toronto-Quebec City, Montreal-Orlando, Toronto-Tampa, Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta, Montreal-Barbados, Calgary-Maui, Toronto-Paris and Toronto-Saint Lucia.
It’s a blow to Air Canada workers and to Canadians, as well as tourism workers in the Caribbean and around the world. It’s also a difficult pill to swallow for beleaguered travel agents, who now have a lot fewer destinations they can sell. But airline officials say they’ve been left with no choice.
Effective Jan 23, this is a list of the stations closed and routes suspended until further notice:
Additional airport stations closed in Canada:
- Fredericton NB
- Gander NL
- Goose Bay NL
- Yellowknife NWT
- Kamloops BC
- Prince Rupert BC
Additional domestic routes suspended
- Goose Bay–Halifax
- Prince Rupert-Vancouver
- Quebec City-Toronto
- St. John’s-Toronto
Transborder routes suspended
- Calgary to: Maui
- Montreal to: Denver, Houston, Orlando
- Toronto to: Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Washington (Dulles)
- Vancouver to: Honolulu (until April), Maui (until mid-February)
International flights suspended
- Montreal to: Barbados, Casablanca, Cozumel, Samana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santa Clara, Turks & Caicos, Nassau, Sao Paulo, Puerto Vallarta
- Toronto to: Cozumel, Curacao, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Paris, Saint Lucia, Santa Clara, St. Vincent, Zurich
- Vancouver to: Los Cabos, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta
Air Canada on Wednesday said it will have to reduce capacity by 25% and lay off 1,700 workers due to a lack of demand.
Since the implementation by the Federal and Provincial Governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.
WestJet last week reduced capacity by 30% per cent and announced layoffs and furloughs for 1,000 workers.
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