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Archive for September, 2008

Greece announced today that it has launched a tender to sell off its state carrier Olympic Airlines (Greek: Ολυμπιακές Αερογραμμές, Olympiakés Aerogrammés – OA). Pantheon Airways and two other
holding companies have been created which in turn would be sold off.

Assets that will be transferred to Pantheon Airways –

  • Right to use the Olympic brand logo
  • Airport slots
  • Aircrafts
  • IT Systems

After the sale, the airline will cease operations.

The plan did trigger series of protests from employee at Olympic Airlines. Last week in protest, the employees blocked the main runway at Athens International airport. Though, around half of the 8100 employees have been promised jobs in public sector.

Does sound like Alitalia all over again?

Some analysts consider the airline size and poor business history not big enough to get interests from European Airlines like Lufthansa and Air-France KLM.

From Forbes

The likeliest solution is
therefore to be a local one, with Greek investors or a small airline
perhaps making an offer. This might resemble the rescue of Italian
state-owned airline Alitalia,
which narrowly avoided liquidation after unions backed a consortium bid
from Italian investors. There is still a chance Air France-KLM and
Lufthansa will take a minority stake in the airline.

Interested in buying? Read the process from Reuters

PROCESS

– The buyer of Pantheon Airways will be selected via a
multi-stage process. Following the expression of interest,
buyers will be given access to a data room and due diligence
with a view to prepare their bids. The aim is to conclude the
tender within three months, by the end of 2008.

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

– Interested parties must submit an expression of interest
by Oct 31. They will receive summary information describing the
transaction structure and the assets for sale. Short-listed
applicants will be allowed access to a data room and a meeting
with management after a confidentiality agreement.

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Continental Airlines today announced –

  • Promotional $45 (one-way) fare for US Helicopter service between Newark and Manhattan. Please note that the discounted fare is available for limited time only to economy class passengers traveling on select faares to/from Newark Airport.
  • The service will be complimentary for passengers traveling on First Class and full-fare tickets.

Offer details from Market Watch

The special offer is effective immediately for tickets purchased on or
after Sept. 1 for travel through Oct. 31, 2008. Customers previously ticketed
to travel within these dates may add the US Helicopter service at the
discounted fare. No advance purchase is required. The promotional fare does
not include passenger facility charges of up to $18 per segment, Sept. 11
security fee of up to $5 each way or Federal excise tax of $3.50 per segment.
For reservations or additional information go to continental.com or call
1-800-523-FARE.

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Boeing announced recently that it has finished the high-pressure test knows as “high blow” on the airframe of its 787 Dreamliner at its Everett factory on Saturday September 27th 2008. The test takes two hours and is one of the three tests required before its first flight (woo-hoo!).

From Boeing Website

During the test, the airframe reached an internal pressure of 150
percent of the maximum levels expected to be seen in service – 14.9
lbs. per square inch (1.05 kilograms per centimeter) gauge (psig). It
took nearly two hours to complete the test, as pressure was slowly
increased to ensure the integrity of the airplane.

“We
had every confidence going into this test because of the extensive work
we’ve done on larger and larger pieces of composite – from small
coupons to fuselage sections,” said Pat Shanahan, vice president and
general manager of the 787 program. “Still, it’s very rewarding to see
a whole airplane being tested and having the results we expected.

“I am so proud of the team that has worked on this program and the progress we are making.”

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After last week of canceling flights and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s comments, everyone was waiting for the final shutdown. But yesterday, the airline’s largest labor union reversed course and agreed to concessions contained in the rescue plan
proposed by investment group CAI, which now may include Air France KLM.” The Italian media has reported that Air France – KLM is interested in taking 10-25% stake.

From ATWOnline

CGIL dropped its prior opposition to the CAI deal and agreed to
concessions, including more than 3,000 job cuts. Flight attendants and
pilots still had not agreed late yesterday, but labor leaders
representing the groups reportedly were in meetings in Berlusconi’s
office last night and are under pressure from CGIL and other AZ unions
to sign on.

CGIL head Guglielmo Epifani indicated that the
union had convinced CAI to sweeten its offer in terms of worker
benefits, saying at a news conference that the new deal is an
“absolutely positive comprehensive agreement. . .I’m confident that
with the gains we won it will be possible for those who have not yet
subscribed to the accord to reconsider and contribute to the
re-launching of the company.”

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Earlier in the year, a Go! flight (Flight 1002 at 10 am on February 13th 2008) from Honolulu to Hilo overshot their landing target by 15 miles at 21,000 feet. The air controllers tried to contact the cockpit crew repeatedly but had no response for 17 minutes. It was found out that both the pilots (Captain Scott Oltman and First Officer Dillon Shepley) had fallen asleep. Both the captain and first officer on the flight were fired by the Airline and FAA suspended their licences for 60 days and 45 days respectively. Also, the Captain Oltman was “diagnosed with “severe obstructive sleep apnea” which causes people to
stop breathing repeatedly in their sleep, preventing a restful night
“.


Some interesting facts –

  • It is interesting that a lot of well known UK newspapers are covering this story, though I couldn’t find many of US newspapers covering it.
  • Does it really matter now, since they have already been fired from the airline?
  • I do agree that a pilot snoozing on a commerical airline is a big secuirty risk. And both pilot snoozing off is even bigger.
  • But with the cockpit being enclosed with no contact to rest of passengers, wouldn’t it get a little boring? 

It would be interesting to know commerical pilots’ view on difference on how they feel from pre-2001 to post-2001 with reinforced cockpit doors with almost no contact with any passenger.

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Ethopian Airlines announced that it will commence 6 weekly flights to/from Ouagadougou from October 26th 2008. The new flights will connect Ouagadougou (capital and largest city in Burkina Faso) to all the major Asian capitals. It will operate Boeing 757-200 aircraft (160 seats – 16 cloud nine and 144 economy) for the route.

From Nazret.com

The new flights will offer direct connections via Addis Ababa to
Ethiopian’s vast network across the globe among which are: Bangkok,
Brazzaville, Beijing, Beirut, Bombay, Bujumbura, Cairo, Dar es Salaam,
Delhi, Dubai, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Harare, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Juba,
Khartoum, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Kinshasa, Lilongwe, Lubumbashi, Lusaka,
Nairobi, Paris, Tel Aviv, Washington DC and Zanzibar.

The new direct routings will save hours of current flight options for
passengers going to or from Ouagadougou. For example, the new
Ouagadougou-Dubai connection will be 3 hours and 45 minutes faster than
the current same-airline option.

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A new “fractional ownership and block charter company” has been launched (at a launch event at Farnborough Airport) in Europe that seeks to challenge NetJets Europe. The airline is called Jet Republic will be based in Lisbon, Portugal and will fly to more than 1000 airports in Europe (including UK). The company has already placed orders for 110 Bombardier Learjet 60XRs (25 orders and 85 options) worth 1.5 billion dollars. The airline plans to start operations on September 29th 2008.

About the CEO –

  • Name -Jonathan Breeze
  • 36 year old former RAF pilot

Investors

  • Austrian Private Bank
  • European American Investment
  • Consortium of the airline’s clients

Target Clients

  • 3 million ultra-rich population across Europe

(more…)

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