Main News August 31 2012

Commuters to lose out?

Delta, the largest operator of 50-seat aircraft in the US, will be closing the hangar doors on Comair by October. Moreover, other carriers with subsidiaries, such as Pinnacle and AMR, have filed for Chapter 11 in the recent past. Faced with the cold wind of change blowing through the economic corridors, the big names have had to reassess their regional offshoots – and so cutting out certain regional routes to focus on those that are more lucrative becomes par for the course.

The 50-seater has become synonymous with the type of aircraft serving the smaller community, often one in a remote location. Making those remote routes pay, though, has become less and less easy for the big carriers. Delta, for instance, is clipping its fleet of 350 or so commuter jets by over 200 units over the coming years. And if Delta’s example is followed, would-be flyers are going to be facing longer drives to the nearest airport.

The big carriers are all citing the same reasons for the cut-backs. Budgetary restraints have put the brakes on new investment and the price of fuel continues to test the hedging experts. Allied to this is the reality of ageing aircraft: maintenance costs are on the rise and every extra aircraft in a fleet represents another cash drain on the already straitened coffers. The difficulty involved in making the small aircraft viable will, analysts believe, ultimately lead to drastically reduced numbers of these aircraft circulating in years to come.


Backscatter X-ray machines: transparent technology?

There has been growing concern over the country’s 250 or so X-ray scanners that rely on so-called backscatter technology. These machines utilize a narrowly focused beam of high-intensity radiation for scanning passengers. Whilst this beam moves quickly across the passenger, the potential threat posed by the technology is little understood, in part because it is a secret process. At least one professor has said that he believes the radiation dose to be up to 45 times as high as that disclosed by the TSA.

Currently, the use of these machines is banned in Europe, a fact that has been noted as significant by those who feel the technology requires more study. To that end Congressman Steve Israel has called upon the TSA to conduct a thorough investigation into the use of this particular type of X-ray machine.



Environmental pledge from United

United Airlines is to further strengthen its commitment to sustainability and the environment by joining the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. This is an industry working group whose objective is to accelerate the development and commercialization of aviation biofuels.

“We are excited to collaborate with other industry leaders in our shared quest to advance sustainable biofuels,” said Jimmy Samartzis, Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability for United, in a statement. “We will all benefit from our collective work to find solutions to make alternative fuel available at commercial scale and secure a sustainable future for aviation.”

Overall, the group’s members represent around 32% of commercial aviation fuel demand.



Cheaper with CHEP

Air Canada has selected CHEP Aerospace Solutions to supply and manage its fleet of unit load devices.

CHEP Aerospace Solutions will be acquiring Air Canada’s existing fleet of ULDs (which numbers more than 8,000 airline containers and pallets) and will migrate them into its shared ULD fleet over time, taking CHEP’s total ULD pool to in excess of 53,000 items. Outsourcing its ULD management to CHEP will thus enable Air Canada to eliminate the administration element whilst reducing the cost of positioning, maintaining and managing its own ULD fleet.

Air Canada’s decision to outsource this critical operational activity to CHEP Aerospace Solutions comes in the wake of an in-depth, due diligence process on the capabilities and value of outsourcing. Key to Air Canada’s decision was CHEP’s extensive ground service support team and its global maintenance and repair network that covers 50 stations worldwide; as well, the synergies and cost savings available from sharing assets with other CHEP airline customers was deemed a significant factor.

Air Canada’s Vice President, Cargo, Lise-Marie Turpin, said that the decision to partner with CHEP Aerospace Solutions had come after a lengthy and detailed analysis conducted by the Air Canada team. The results of the analysis revealed that CHEP was the best provider to deliver the requisite cost-savings and efficiencies.

In turn, CHEP Aerospace Solutions’ President, Dr Ludwig Bertsch, added that he was proud to have Air Canada as a business partner.



Delta to cut subsidiary by end of year

Delta Air Lines has announced that it will be shutting down Regional Elite Airline Services. This is the subsidiary that performs ground handling and customer service for its regional carrier flights. The subsidiary musters about 4,000 employees around the US and its operations are likely to be taken over by the end of the year by other companies, including another subsidiary, that of Delta Global Services. Delta hopes to be able to provide job opportunities at the same locations for the vast majority of affected workers.