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How Will Volaris Use Its 100 Strong Aircraft Fleet This Year?

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This week, the Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris announced the leasing of an additional eight A320neo aircraft to its fleet in 2021, on top of the three aircraft from its purchase order with Airbus. This way, Volaris plans to close the year with a fleet of at least 98 aircraft.

Volaris
Volaris will receive 11 A320neo aircraft in 2021. Photo: Volaris

Volaris is already planning where it will deploy this additional capacity. During the World Aviation Festival today, Volaris’ CEO, Enrique Beltranena, discussed the plans for this year and how the low-cost carrier is seizing the gap in the market left by Grupo Aeromexico and Interjet.

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Taking advantage of favorable leasing conditions

Volaris finished 2020 with a fleet of 86 aircraft. It consisted of six A319, 64 A320s, and 16 A321s. It offered an average of 188 seats per aircraft, and 35% of the whole fleet was NEO.

In February, we reported that Volaris expects to receive up to 98 new aircraft between 2021 and 2028. While its Airbus order still stands, now, the airline is leasing new planes to accelerate the growth of its fleet.

In a statement, the airline said,

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“Volaris has been able to take advantage of the favorable leasing market conditions under which these aircraft can be added to the fleet, all on long-term leases. Our competitors have been scaling down, and this has represented an unprecedented opportunity for Volaris to add additional healthy capacity.”

The low-cost operator continues to play aggressively in the current environment. There was a moment last year when Volaris seized 50% of the domestic market share in Mexico. While that percentage has reduced to the low forties, it shows how Volaris uses the crisis to consolidate.

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By December, Volaris may have the largest fleet in Mexico. It plans to operate 98 aircraft, while Aeromexico currently has 106 planes, and plans on reducing its fleet. Photo: Getty Images.

Where will Volaris deploy the airplanes?

In 2020, Volaris launched many new routes, including two domestic and seven international in the last quarter alone.

Both Volaris and Viva Aerobus are filling the gap left by the unofficial cease of operations of Interjet. Plus, they’re also benefitting from the leisure and Visiting Friends, and Relatives (VFR) market’s quick recovery.

Now, the question is, where will Volaris deploy its recently leased capacity? Beltranena said,

Where are we going to put that extra capacity? Clearly in the loopholes that were made (after Interjet’s exit and Aeromexico’s Chapter 11). As a result of that, we might add some capacity in Mexico City. But markets like Tijuana, Guadalajara, and Cancun are requesting capacity, and those markets to the US with solid VFR markets are also requesting capacity.”    

Volaris Getty
Volaris is using its extra capacity in Mexico City, Tijuana, Guadalajara, and Cancun. Photo: Getty Images

Mexico’s lost capacity

In 2020, Mexico lost 34% of all its commercial airplanes due to the COVID-19 crisis, said Beltranena. The country went from having 355 aircraft to less than 225 nowadays, which has become Volaris and Viva Aerobus’ opportunity.

For instance, Grupo Aeromexico reduced the size of its fleet by rejecting the leases of 25 aircraft. Only one of those planes was a widebody (a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner). The 24 remaining were Embraer E170 and Boeing 737 NG.

Meanwhile, Interjet’s story was even worse. Interjet went from having a fleet of 88 aircraft (66 Airbus and 22 Sukhoi) to four operational airplanes by December. Then, the airline stopped flying on December 11 and won’t resume operations any time soon (maybe ever).

Then again, one’s crisis is another’s benefit; Volaris and Viva Aerobus have shown that. The two low-costs now control two-thirds of the domestic market. They’re also increasing their presence abroad with new routes to the US and even launching flights to South America.

What do you think of Volaris’ aggressive plan? Let us know in the comments. 

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/volaris-100-strong-aircraft-fleet/

Aviation

India’s GoAir Renames Itself Go First With IPO Coming Soon

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Indian budget carrier GoAir has renamed itself as Go First, as it looks to become the country’s first ultra-low-cost carrier. The name change also comes a day before the airline began the process to go public and raise fresh funds. Let’s find out more about Go First and its business strategy.

GoAir A320
GoAir plans to change its business model as it looks to raise fresh funds on the market in the coming months. Photo: Airbus

New brand

GoAir made a splash yesterday when it put out ads in major Indian newspapers announcing its new name: Go First. The branding change also comes with a new livery, which will see a sunrise-themed blue tailfin. All of these changes have been made to mark GoAir’s shift from a low-cost to ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC).

But what exactly does that mean? As India’s first ULCC, Go First will have the chance to define the term in India. However, the focus will be heavy on reducing fares, offering point-to-point flights, and slashing services or making them paid wherever possible.

Go First A320
A render of the Go First livery on an Airbus A320neo. Photo: Simple Flying

The man leading the transformation of GoAir none other than Ben Baldanza, the CEO who led Spirit Airlines to its successful ULCC shift. If history is any indicator, expect everything from hand luggage, seat bookings, and printed boarding passes to become paid at Go First.

But why are these changes being made right now, amid India’s devastating second wave which has deeply hurt carriers?

Eyes on the IPO

Earlier today, news broke that GoAir had formally filed to hold an IPO for the Wadia Group-owned airline. The carrier wants to raise as much as ₹3,600 crores ($490.2 million) by selling shares later this summer. The filing is the first step of many before GoAir is actually listed on the market.

The decision to go public has been rumored for months now and was recently confirmed by the carrier as well. However, the outlook on airlines has shifted in the last two months as India battles its second wave, which has sent passenger numbers plummeting once again.

GoAir A320 engine Getty
GoAir has been privately held since its founding over 15 years ago, with an IPO planned several times without success. Photo: Getty Images

For Go First, the IPO will be a much-needed capital injection and reduce dependence on the Wadia Group. The carrier’s debt total has risen dramatically due to the crisis, forcing it to restructure and take fresh loans in March.

Significant changes?

The Indian domestic market is dominated by low-cost carriers offering the lowest prices possible. This dynamic has also resulted in a low-profit, high volume industry, with airlines perennially struggling. GoAir’s decision to rebrand as a ULCC and cut fares even more could force other airlines to respond in kind, triggering another price war.

However, it is yet to be seen what firm changes Go First will make to its operating model. Many elements of an ultra-low-cost carrier were adopted by Indian carriers years ago, leaving limited options for airlines to reduce airlines. Keep your eyes peeled for what the newly-christened Go First has in store for the market.

What do you think about Go First and its plans? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/goair-name-change-go-first/

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Qantas’ Cosmic Supermoon Flight Sells Out In 2.5 Minutes

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Earlier this week, Qantas raised the bar on its now-regular scenic flight adventures and began promoting a two-and-a-half-hour flight out of Sydney to view a supermoon event in late May. If it sounds like fun and you are keen to go, the bad news is Qantas sold out the flight in two and a half minutes. Qantas has also closed the waitlist.

qantas-supermoon-flight-sells-out
Qantas sold out its scenic supermoon Dreamliner flight in two and a half minutes. Photo: Getty Images

The latest in a long line of successful scenic flights for Qantas

Departing early evening on May 26, Qantas plans to send one out of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners out of Sydney and east across the Pacific. The Dreamliner will climb to 40,000 feet to capitalize on dark and clear night skies. Qantas notes in addition to watching the rising of the supermoon, that evening also happens to be a total lunar eclipse. The airline says that is a highly unusual double act.

Passengers will be suitably lubricated by a pre-flight cocktail party and cosmic cocktails. They may even learn something. A professional astronomer will be along for the ride and providing some inflight insights.

This sortie to check out the southern hemisphere night sky follows a series of highly successful scenic flights for Qantas in the past year. That included a seven-hour marathon overflying much of Australia and a weekend to Uluru. More recently, there was a seafood lunch on an island in the Whitsundays. All of the flights quickly sold out.

Blocked seats and presales to premium passengers limit the number of seats available for general sale

The Qantas 787-9 normally accommodates 236 passengers across three cabin classes. But fewer seats were available on the supermoon flight. Qantas blocked off the middle seat blocks in the economy and business class cabins. The ‘E’ seats in the premium economy cabin were also blocked from sale.

The number of seats available to the general public reduced further after Qantas offered its most elite frequent flyers early access. The airline’s best customers weren’t shy about taking up the offer.

According to keen Qantas watchers on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum, around 55 seats were left for public sale at midday Sydney time on Wednesday. Qantas confirmed to Simple Flying those remaining seats sold out by 12:03 Sydney time.

I jumped on at the strike of 12, and there was barely anything left. There was just one window seat in Y left, second last row. But by the time I had got to checkout, my seats were bumped,” posted one member on the forum.

My experience too,” posted another member.

qantas-supermoon-flight-sells-out
Qantas is taking off to view the supermoon event on May 26. Photo: NASA

Some handy revenue as Qantas capitalizes on demand for scenic flights

Qantas began waitlisting hopeful would-be passengers, but the demand was so high, that waitlist has now closed as well. The airline was selling economy class tickets from US$385, premium economy class tickets from US$694, and business class tickets from US$1158. Note the word “from.” Qantas was charging a premium for a window seat – and that’s fair enough.

But with 24 seats initially available for sale in both the business class and premium economy cabins, and 112 seats initially up for grabs in the economy class cabin, Qantas pocketed over US$87,500 from ticket sales.

To date, Qantas has been operating many of these flights largely on a cost-recovery basis. The airline is keen to keep planes and crews in the air and the Qantas brand firmly in the spotlight. But as the popularity of the supermoon and previous scenic flights attests, there is a lot of demand out there for this kind of flight. It’s an interesting, albeit niche, way for the airline industry to do business in the future.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/qantas-supermoon-flight-sells-out/

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Eviation Is Closer To Launching Commercial Electric Airplane Service — Alice Gets An EPU

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Eviation Aircraft, which is developing and manufacturing efficient electric aircraft with the goal of making electric aviation a competitive and sustainable alternative to the current aircraft we have today, is one step closer to launching commercial electric flights. I has taken delivery of its first EPU (electric propulsion unit) for its first aircraft, Alice.

Eviation Alice electric airplane, courtesy of Eviation.

Inside shots of Eviation Alice electric airplane in Vannes on June 6th, 2019. Photo © Jean-Marie Liot / Eviation.

The Alice is an all-electric aircraft that is able to fly 9 passengers for up to 440 nautical miles. The Alice uses an EPU from magniX, a company that is on a mission to lead the commercial aerospace and defense industries. How it’s doing this is by providing high-performance, reliable, and environmentally friendly propulsion solutions. The EPU used by Alice is one such solution. These magniX EPU systems have been powering aircraft in flight since December of 2019, and are currently in the process of gaining FAA Part 33 certification in 2022.

Ganzarski (left) and Bar-Yohay (right) shake hands as the electric propulsion units are delivered to Eviation’s facility in Arlington, Washington.

Members of magniX and Eviation during the delivery of the electric propulsion units.

Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay shared his thoughts about the milestone. “The magniX delivery is one of the key milestones in getting emission-free, low-cost, all-electric aviation off the ground with the first flight of Alice,” he said. “After many successful flights and tests of the magniX EPUs, we’re confident the system will propel us to bringing Alice to market and delivering a sustainable, scalable mobility solution that will revolutionize passenger and cargo flights.”

Eviation Alice electric airplane, courtesy of Eviation.

Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, also added his thoughts. “The Alice is the epitome of the future of air transportation. All-electric by design, taking advantage of light-weight powerful and reliable propulsion systems,” said Ganzarski. “Together, we will enable a great flying experience – zero emissions, quieter, lower cost, all from and to airports closer to more communities.”

Eviation has plans to start a robust flight testing and certification program. Currently, the company operates in the U.S. and Israel and is a member of the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA).


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/13/eviation-is-closer-to-launching-commercial-electric-airplane-service-alice-gets-an-epu/

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Brace: Qantaslink Dash 8-400 Makes Emergency Landing In Brisbane

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On Thursday, sixty-four passengers and crew on a QantasLink Dash 8-400 service into Brisbane got a scare during a full-scale emergency landing. With the pilots flagging a “potential issue” with the landing gear, emergency vehicles waited at Brisbane Airport, and passengers instructed to “stay down” and “brace now.”

qantaslink-emergency-landing
VH-QON, the QantasLink Dash 8-400 involved in Thursday’s scare at Brisbane Airport. Photo: Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

The QantasLink Dash 8-400 was operating QF2420. That flight is the breakfast time flight between Newcastle’s Williamtown Airport and the Queensland capital of Brisbane. Normally, it’s a pleasant 611-kilometer flight up the New South Wales coast. On Thursday’s flight, the pilots received an indication in the cockpit about a potential issue with the landing gear.

According to The Aviation Herald, the plane was at 1,800 feet mean sea level and tracking into Brisbane’s runway 19L when the cockpit alert came up, causing the go-around.

The Dash 8 went out to circle Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands for around one hour while the pilots worked on the problem. The pilots attempted a manual gear extension, but the manual extension did not stop the cockpit alert.

“The pilots followed standard procedures and required checklists for this type of event,” a Qantaslink spokesperson said.

qantaslink-emergency-landing
Source: FlightRadar24.com

Passengers warned to “brace” and “stay down”

The pilots were unable to confirm the landing gear was locked down. They decided to shut down the second engine and began an ILS approach into Brisbane Airport’s runway 19R. Brisbane Airport scrambled its emergency response vehicles.

As the flight made its final approach into Brisbane Airport over Moreton Bay, footage posted online reveals the flight attendant repeatedly instructing the passengers to “brace, brace” and “heads down” and “stay down.”

“We were reasonably certain the landing gear was down and locked – we could do that visually, and in other ways, the procedure to be followed has to be followed,” QantasLink CEO John Gissing later told Brisbane’s Channel 9 News.And that’s exactly what we did.”

“Our engineers have inspected the aircraft and identified that the alert in the cockpit was due to a faulty sensor, and the landing gear was operating normally through the flight.

Footage posted online by passengers showed a smooth touchdown, the landing gear securely locked in, and a cabin full of very relieved passengers and crew.

“I was getting a bit concerned at the end,” one passenger said when safely collecting his bags in Brisbane’s terminal.

QantasLink calls the incident a false alarm. However the airline admits it would have raised blood pressure levels in the cabin. QantasLink apologized for the concern caused and thanked passengers for their co-operation.

Both passengers and QantasLink praised the pilots and flight attendants for handling a very stressful situation well.

“They did a great job handling the situation and were able to call on the extensive training they receive,” Mr Gissing said.

“We’re all here, it’s all good, the Captain did a good job,” one laidback and safely landed Queenslander said.

VH-QON operated Thursday’s QF2420 flight. The Dash 8-400 is 12.9 years old and operated for Qantas by subsidiary company Sunstate Airlines. It is one of 48 Dash 8s flying for QantasLink. As you’d expect from an airline with an exemplary safety record, this is the first recorded issue concerning the plane.

VH-QON remains on the ground while Qantas engineers conduct a full safety and maintenance inspection.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/qantaslink-emergency-landing/

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