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Virgin cabin crew vote through enterprise agreement

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Virgin Australia 7378FE departing YMML at sunset (Victor Pody)

Virgin cabin crew have overwhelmingly agreed on a new enterprise agreement with the airline, with 89 per cent of staff voting through the deal.

It follows five agreements approved by staff last year that were negotiated between the TWU and new chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka. Pilots are still yet to finalise new working terms.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the deal maintains standards on service and safety that passengers expect.

“These standards, which include fair rates of pay and enforcement of provisions to ensure crew are rested and not fatigued, will ultimately help ensure Virgin’s future,” said Kaine.

“Virgin workers are to be commended for the tireless work they have put in to getting the airline back on its feet. They held Virgin’s new owners to account over promises made to keep a full service airline with regional and international arms.

“They will continue to hold them to account over commitments to getting Virgin back to its position as Australia’s strong second airline.

“Virgin has yet to conclude its enterprise agreements with its pilots. We urge Virgin to finalise this process and to give pilots the certainty they require about their futures.

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“Virgin’s future is far from certain with the pandemic continuing to play havoc with air travel and the disastrous vaccine rollout casting doubt on the resumption of normal travel into and around Australia.”

Friday’s announcement comes after Jayne Hrdlicka scored an early victory in her tenure as Virgin chief executive last year by securing a deal with four unions over working terms.

The agreement with the TWU, FAAA, ASU and ALAEA saw employees accept an 18-month to two-year pay freeze in exchange for a guarantee that no jobs will be outsourced.

The deal was seen as a coup for the former Jetstar boss given her notoriously bad relationship with unions over the years. Unions at one stage walked out of negotiations when rumours first emerged that former boss Paul Scurrah was to leave to be replaced by Hrdlicka.

The vote is also significant given the TWU is currently taking Virgin to the Fair Work Commission over its decision to stand down ground handlers it claims were only recently doing overtime.

Virgin said in response that even though 170 staff had been technically ‘stood down’, the majority are still working close to their normal full-time hours.

It comes as the government recently ended JobKeeper payments for those working in domestic aviation, though effectively continued it for Qantas employees working on international flights.

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Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/04/virgin-cabin-crew-vote-through-enterprise-agreement/

Aviation

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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Qantas Future Small Plane: The Embraer E2 Family Vs Airbus A220

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With Qantas planning to replace its aging fleet of Fokker jets and Boeing 717s, aircraft manufacturers are competing for the lucrative order. Boeing lacks a plane in the regional jet space. But Airbus has the A220, and Embraer has its E2 jets. For Qantas, it looks like being a run-off between these two plane makers.

qantas-future-small-plane
Embraer is one of two aircraft manufacturers eyeing an upcoming Qantas order. Photo: Embraer

Passenger capacity one metric to compare the planes

While it’s not just about passenger capacity, it is one way to measure how the Embraer and Airbus offering stack up.

Qantas’ Boeing 717s seat between 110 and 125 passengers. Its Fokker 100s seat 100 passengers. Qantas uses these planes on skinnier trunk routes, regional routes, fly-in-fly-out routes, and charter work. The planes, especially the Fokkers, can fly into some pretty challenging airstrips.

Embraer has three jets in its E2 family, ranging from the 80-90 seat E175-E2 to the 135-145 seat E195-E2. Airbus offers the A220-100 and A220-300. The A220-100 seats between 100-135 passengers and the bigger A220-300 can seat between 120-150 passengers.

Other all-important factors in the choice include final price, range, robustness, operating costs, maintenance costs, and green credentials.

qantas-future-small-plane
Airbus is keen to sell its A220 to Qantas. Photo: Airbus

Airbus gets in early to line-up potential order from Qantas

The Airbus A220 is popular in North American and Europe but has not yet gained significant sales traction in the Asia-Pacific region. But that has not stopped Airbus from touting the plane throughout the region. In October 2019, Airbus sent an A220-300 on a seven-country Asia-Pacific showcase tour.

That tour included a pitstop in Sydney and a demonstration flight that included Qantas CEO Alan Joyce among the passengers.

“To me, it looks like a very good aircraft,” Mr Joyce said at the time. “I think passengers would love it.”

The A220-100 might be a better fit for Qantas. Its passenger capacity better matches that of the existing Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s. The Airbus A220-100 has a range of 6.390 kilometers, comfortably covering the entire Australian continent and reaching into much of southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific.

Embraer’s E2 jet cannot be ruled out

While Airbus gets a lot of the attention in the race to snare the Qantas order, you cannot rule out Embraer. Speaking to the Perth branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society this week, Paulo Dias, Asia-Pacific Sales Director for Embraer Commercial Aircraft, said that while the A220 was an admirable plane, Embraers E2 jets had some distinct advantages that made it an ideal choice for Qantas.

“I think the A220 is a great airplane,” he said. “I think one of the benefits of the E2s would be the lower operating costs. That’s what this machine was made for – lower fuels burn, it’s a greener machine, and of course, maintenance costs.

“Designing an aircraft is all about trade offs. You can’t have everything. For this aircraft (the E2) we have optimized economics. It’s got the best fuel burn and maintenance costs hands down.

“Anyone looking at these aircraft would quickly recognise the E2’s profit potential compared to other platforms out there.”

qantas-future-small-plane
The E175-E2 may be too small and the E190-E2 too big for Qantas’ needs. Photo: Embraer

Is Airbus a better for Qantas?

Qantas is continually chasing profits, making Paulo Dias’ comments a gentle but perfect pitch to Qantas. But the E175-E2 may be too small for Qantas requirements, noting one of the aircraft types Qantas wants to replace is the 110-125 seat Boeing 717. The next plane up, the 135-145 seat E190-E2 may be too big to take over routes now served by the 100 seat Fokker 100s.

Would Qantas consider splitting its order between two aircraft types – the E175-E2 and E90-ED2, taking some of both? Or does the A220-100 hit the happy middle ground for Qantas? As Paulo Dias notes, they are all excellent planes offering solid cost efficiencies and good environmental credentials. Qantas is expected to announce an order to begin to replace its Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s within the next 12 months Many might argue Embraer will have to put in a lot of legwork to snare this lucrative order from Qantas.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/qantas-future-small-plane/

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