Sunday, 4 June 2017

Nepal Airlines Pilot Shortage Delays Y12E Aircraft Importation

Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) has delayed the import of its last two Y12E aircraft ordered from Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation, China, citing a lack of qualified flight crews. Nepali news site Online Khabar reports that the carrier has only one pilot qualified to fly the aircraft.

The Nepali carrier signed an agreement with AVIC in 2013 which saw the Chinese firm donate one MA-60 and one Y12E on condition that Nepal Airlines take three more Y12Es and one more MA-60 on soft loans from China's Exim Bank. Nepal has slowly taken delivery of the promised aircraft, but has complained of their unsuitability for Himalayan terrain.

Quoting a source, Online Khabar reports that Nepal Airlines has around 70% of the flight staff it requires, and a recent call for more pilots was largely unsuccessful.

In addition to the two Y12Es currently in storage, the rest of Nepal's fleet consists of two MA-60s (in storage), two DHC-6s, one B757-200(M) and two A320-100/-200As. A fleet renewal plan was green lit in 2016 which will see the carrier acquire two A330-200s later this year. Nepal Airlines has not responded to repeated ch-aviation requests for comment on the current status of its MA-60 fleet.

About Nepal Airlines
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Kathmandu
Aircraft 7
Destinations 9
Routes 8
Daily Flights 10


Philippine charter operator Platinum Skies (Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) is offering flights between Zamboanga and Jolo in the province of Sulu. The service, which commenced May 1, is the first flight to the conflict-ridden region since Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) stopped serving the area in March 2015.

The 6x weekly flights are run on behalf of Islands Airlink on board Do328-100 RP-C9258 (msn 3036).

Sulu is considered by authorities as quite dangerous, with the US Department of State, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) all advising against travel to the archipelago, owing to the presence of Jihadist militant group Abu Sayyaf. In mid-2016, two Canadians – Robert Hall and John Ridsdel – were beheaded by insurgents. A Norwegian who had been kidnapped at the same time, Kjartan Sekkingstad, was released later that year.

ABS CBN News reports that security at Jolo airport has been improved, and the carrier's Facebook page says that "Safety and security is our priority!" Local groups hope that the air connection will help the island's economy, which is largely dependent on agriculture and fishing.

About Platinum Skies
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l
Aircraft 2


Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) has announced it has further delayed deliveries of the seventeen A320neo Family jets it plans to acquire.

In an Investor's Day presentation, the carrier said the arrival of its first of thirteen A320neo jets had been delayed from July 2017 to July 2018. Similarly, its first of four A321neo is now also scheduled to only arrive in September 2018.

As it stands, the revised delivery timetable will see Air New Zealand add six owned and four leased A320neo Family jets during its 2019 Financial Year (i.e. July 1, 2018, through to June 30, 2019). During its 2020 Financial Year (i.e. July 1, 2019, through to June 30, 2020) it will add two owned and one leased A320neo Family jets.

The delay will allow Air New Zealand to outfit the A321neos with a redesigned interior featuring 214 seats against the originally planned 209 seats.

Air New Zealand said it will extend existing lease periods on five A320ceo aircraft as a precaution against any delays in A320neo Family deliveries.

About Air New Zealand
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Auckland Int'l
Aircraft 54
Destinations 52
Routes 89
Daily Flights 384


Ulyanovsk Baratayevka airport remains officially closed until at least September due to delays in the delivery of essential equipment, reports Kommersant. The international airport has been undergoing renovations since June 2016. Despite the completion of the runway, the airport is still waiting on its SP-200 navigation system.

The Minister of Industry, Construction, Housing and Communal Services, and Transport of the Ulyanovsk region, Dmitry Vavilin, has said that they expect to receive the equipment from Krasnodar, where it is currently temporarily installed, in early June, with certification of the airport occurring sometime in July.

However, Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo), which plans to serve the airport, has said that it has been officially told that it will not open before September 1. RusLine (7R, Moscow Domodedovo), UTair (UT, Khanty-Mansiysk) and Red Wings Airlines (WZ, Moscow Vnukovo) currently use the region's second airport Ulyanovsk Vostochny until Ulyanovsk Baratayevka is opened.

About Aeroflot
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Moscow Sheremetyevo
Aircraft 191
Destinations 149
Routes 244
Daily Flights 934


Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) will suspend its daily Sydney Kingsford Smith, Australia – Auckland Int'l, New Zealand A380-800 flight, effective July 13. Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) has announced that it will step in for its partner, offering a 2x daily A330-200 service in its place. Qantas will also offer a 3x daily B737-800 service, increasing its weekly Sydney-Auckland frequency from 32 to 35 flights. The Australian carrier has said it may upgauge the B737 flights dependent on demand.

Qantas CEO Gareth Evans has said the network change is possible because of the close partnership the two airlines enjoy. "These schedule changes also mean customers travelling to and from New Zealand have more convenient options to connect with the broader Qantas and Emirates network, especially into Asia," he said.

Moreover, the new timings will more greatly appeal to business travellers from New Zealand, with the addition of another early morning service.

The Sydney-Auckland trans-Tasman market currently has a weekly capacity of almost 22,000 seats, with Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) taking 31.8%, followed by Qantas at 23.8% and Emirates with 16.5%. The change in schedule will essentially see Qantas be the dominant single airline on this route, ahead of Air New Zealand.

About Qantas
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Sydney Kingsford Smith
Aircraft 118
Destinations 84
Routes 174
Daily Flights 641


Cyprus Airways (CY, Larnaca) has commenced operations following its inaugural scheduled passenger flight on Thursday, June 1, between its Larnaca base and St. Petersburg, Russia. Services to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion in Israel, and Rhodes and Heraklion in Greece are expected to launch through month-end.

Though operations are currently on-board a single A319-100, leased from Miramonte, more aircraft are expected to be inducted as more destinations are added.

Charlie Airlines, the carrier's legal name, is a 40/60 joint-venture between Russia's S7 Group and a consortium of Cypriot investors. It acquired the right to the Cyprus Airways brand in July last year.

As it stands, Cyprus now has three active commercial airlines that, aside from Cyprus Airways, include Cobalt (CO, Larnaca) and Tus Airways (U8, Larnaca). The last of the start-ups - Orion Airways (FOH, Larnaca) - is currently in the process of securing its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) followed by an Air Services Licence (ASL).

About Cyprus Airways
Type Scheduled Carrier
Base Larnaca
Aircraft 1
Destinations 2
Routes 1