Brian Dunn - Editor

SPECIAL NOTE:   Effective April 1st, 2013 we will no longer be updating this page.  For current news please refer to our new blog called "Canadian Aviation News".  CLICK HERE

 

CURRENT NEWS --March 28, 2013

United Airlines (UA/UAL) --Mar 27, 2013
  • New Route ---effective August 27th United will launch a new route from their hub at Chicago-ORD to Saskatoon with a daily flight operating with an ERJ-145 aircraft flown by one of the United Express carriers.  The northbound flight will arrive in Saskatoon at 2231hrs and depart the next morning at 0715hrs for Chicago.

LOT Polish Airlines (LO/LOT) --Mar 26, 2013
  • Schedule Adjustment ---due to the grounding of the Boeing 787 aircraft the airline will continue to use Boeing 767-300s on the Warsaw-Toronto route this summer with up to 8 weekly flight from late June through to early September.  The extra flight will be on Fridays with both LO041/042 and LO045/46 operating that day.  LOT has removed any indication of 787 flying from their schedules for the whole summer season. 

Air Canada (AC/ACA) --Mar 26, 2013
  • Baggage Enhancement ---the airline is further improving connection times at its main Toronto hub with an even more attractive option for travellers connecting to the U.S. due to a simplified baggage handling process.  The new system sends checked baggage to connecting flights so connecting customers no longer have to retrieve their checked bags for U.S. customs inspection.  "This new procedure strengthens Toronto's position as a preferred routing by making transit through Pearson easier for customers who are increasingly choosing to travel our inter -national network because it offers some of the best elapsed travel times between the U.S. and other global centres in Europe and Asia," said Ben Smith, Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada. 

Bombardier Aerospace Inc. --Mar 25, 2013
  • CSeries Power Up ---Bombardier announced that it has successfully completed the first full powering on of the main electrical distribution system on the first CSeries flight test vehicle (FTV1).  Additionally, Bombardier confirmed that the wing down-bending static test was successfully concluded on the Complete Airframe Static Test (CAST) article at the company's Saint-Laurent facility in late March 2013, the two most significant wing static tests required for first flight are now complete.  The company also confirmed that safety-of-flight tests are progressing well on "Aircraft 0"--the-on-the-ground integrated systems test rig (ISTCR) for the CSeries aircraft.  "The build of the flight test vehicles, the static airframe testing and the systems tests are all advancing to schedule.  We are very satisfied with the CSeries aircraft's excellent progress and weekly achievements as we advance solidly towards first flight," added Mr. Rob Dewar, VP and GM, CSeries. 

KLM  (KL/KLM) --Mar 25, 2013
  • Schedule Adjustments ---the Amsterdam-Toronto route will see Airbus A330-200 replacing MD-11 aircraft between March 31st and June 30th and then again from Sep 1st through to October 26th on Days 1/2/6.  Previously planned to be an MD-11 on flight KL691/692 daily throughout the summer.  Flights KL695/696 will be operated with a Boeing 747-400Combi on Days 2/3/4/6 and and MD11 on Days 1/5/7 from June 30th to September 7th.  An Airbus A330-200 will cover those days in the shoulder seasons.  The Amsterdam-Calgary route will see the Airbus A330-200 operation extended to a 12-week period from June 4th through to August 31st, instead of a 4-week period as originally published.

Lufthansa Airlines (LH/DLH) --Mar 25, 2013
  • Summer Schedule Change ---the planned 747-400 service from August 30th to September 30th has been cancelled and the Airbus A340-600 will continue to operate daily between Frankfurt and Toronto.  As previously mentioned, the new Munich-Vancouver route will operated from May 16th through to October 5th with a seasonal daily Airbus A330-300 service.  

 
Air Canada (AC/ACA) --Mar 22, 2013
  • Fleet Change ---the gradual transition of the Embraer 175 fleet from Air Canada mainline to Sky Regional has begun with the first two aircraft already operating with Sky Regional (SKV) flight numbers.  So far, aircraft C-FEKJ (FLN383) and C-FEJL (FLN377) have been switched over and the balance of the fleet will follow one by one through August as more and more Sky Regional pilots are trained.

  • New 3-class service ---with the introduction of the first "new" 777-333ERs from Boeing this summer the airline will be introducing a new 'premium-economy' class, initially on the Montreal-Paris route, but as more aircraft are delivered and others are converted the new service will appear on additional routes as well.  From September 12th through to October 26th the Toronto-Munich will see these new 777s replace the existing A330-300 summer service five days a week.  The new configuration will be C36 W24 Y398.

  • New Pension Agreement ---Air Canada and the Government of Canada have agreed to an extension of Air Canada's pension funding arrangements to January 30, 2021.  After lengthy negotiations the initial Air Canada proposal was strengthened with additional required solvency payments, a shortened term and specific new conditions that will ensure that all employees and executives of Air Canada are part of the solution.  This arrange -ment comes as a result of the upcoming expiration of the Air Canada Pension Plan Funding Regulations, 2009 on January 30, 2014. In the current extremely low interest rate environment, Air Canada's pension solvency deficit funding payments would be unsustainable without this extension in place.  Under the new agreement Air Canada will make payments of at least $150 million annually with an average of $200 million per year over seven years.  Air Canada will contribute an aggregate minimum of $1.4 billion in solvency deficit payments, in addition to its pension current service payments.

  • Western Q400 Expansion ---effective May 1st will expand the use of new Q400 turboprops in western Canada (operated by Jazz Air LP) with the Vancouver-Fort St.John route twice a day, and all services between Prince George and Vancouver (5 daily) and Vancouver-Victoria route will be operated twice daily effective June 17th. 

Bombardier Aerospace Inc. --Mar 22, 2013
  • CSeries ---Bombardier says it will forgo displaying its CSeries aircraft at the Paris Air Show in June in order to finish testing before the jetliner's first flight the same month, Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin said.  The world's third-largest planemaker reiterated its commitment to that timetable in a presentation to investors on March 21st in New York.  The goal is already six months later than Bombardier originally planned, a delay the company attributed to unspecified issues with suppliers.  "We plan to fly in June, but to go to an air show with an experimental airplane would take at least a month away from our flight-test program because we'd have to prepare it to go," Beadoin said.  "That's not the kind of expense that makes sense for investors in Bombardier."  Bombardier has racked up 180 firm orders for the CSeries so far, and the company is on track to meet a goal of 300 by the time the plane enters service in mid-2014, the CEO said.  The CSeries will cost about 15 percent less to operate and burn about 20 percent less fuel than existing competitors, Bombardier has said.  The plane will feature composite materials and the new geared turbofan engine from United Technologies Corp.s Pratt & Whitney. 

Transat A.T. Inc. (TS/TSC) --Mar 14, 2013
  • First Quarter Results ---Transat A.T. Inc. posted revenues of $805.7 million for the quarter ended January 31, 2013, compared with $829.3 million in 2012, a decrease of $23.6 million, or 2.8%.  "Changes brought to our organization over the last 18 months, as well as our decision to slightly reduced capacity, have contributed to the improvement of our results," said Jean-Marc Eustaches, President and CEO of Transat. 

  • Flight Attendants ---the union representing Air Transat flight attendants announced that its members have agreed to the company's proposed cost reduction plan.  In a secret electronic vote, 66% of the flight attendants accepted measures worth approximately $9 million a year.  At 72%, turnout was particularly high.  The key element of the plan stipulates that the number of attendants on the A330 will be reduced from 11 to 10.  The savings thus realized will help enable Air Transat to develop a narrow-body fleet of Boeing 737s, which the union believes will allow the company to retain more jobs in the long run. 

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Aeroflot (SU/AFL) --Mar 11, 2013
  • Aircraft Change ---will be re-instating Moscow-SVO to Toronto service three times per week effective June 2nd.  The original plan called for Boeing 767-300s to be used but it now appears that Airbus A330-300s will be replacing the Boeings, at least for the peak summer season.

Sunwing Airlines (WG/SWG) --Mar 11, 2013
  • Pilot Agreement ---pilots at Sunwing Airlines have ratified a first collective agreement with CAW by a margin of 78 per cent.  The new deal includes wage and pension increases and a commitment by the company to recognize fatigue in pilots' schedules.  Captain Dave Matkovich, President of CAW Local 7378 said the new agreement makes a number of key improvements and meets membership concerns, including pilot fatigue and scheduling issues.  The new agreement also includes a number of new jobs being created.  The pilots negotiated wage increases of up to 2 per cent per year over the term of the three year contract, retroactive to December 1, 2012.  Other gains include improvements to the scheduling system, increase in annual sick days, maternity benefits, and new work sharing programs to reduce the number of layoffs in slow periods. 

Nolinor Aviation (NRL) --Mar 11, 2013
  • New Airline launched ---Developments Aputik Inc. and Nolinor Aviation are pleased to announce the launch of Uppik Aviation Inc., and Inuit owned company.  Uppik Aviation will provide air charter services in the Nunavik region.  Nolinor Aviation using their expanding fleet of Boeing 737 and Convair 580 aircraft will operate charter flights booked with Uppik Aviation.  President of Nolinor Aviation, Jacques Prud'homme commented, "Nolinor is in the middle of our largest expansion in our 20 year history, and we are very excited to announce the formation of Uppik aviation.  We look forward to building even stronger relationships with the people and enterprise doing business throughout the North."  Nolinor is in the process of adding to it's fleet of 737 jet aircraft, with delivery of it's fourth jet scheduled for later this month and more later this year.  They recently acquired a certified bulk fuel hauling system for it's 737 jets, allowing for the capability to deliver fuel products to remote sites.  This gives Uppik Aviation the capability to carry people, cargo, and bulk fuel to remote sites with very little infrastructure on the ground, a perfect match for Mining and Exploration clients in the region.

News Tidbits
  • Landing Gear Facility ---Sumitomo Precision Products has secured a $3.25million loan from the Government of Ontario to support final assembly for a planned $50million landing gear production facility in Mississauga.  The new facility will also serve as the company's global headquarters.

  • CAE Inc. ---CAE has booked C$245 million in training and crew sourcing contracts with LAN and TAM, Turkish Airlines, GECAS, JetBlue and Ryanair.

 
Philippine Airlines (PR/PAL) --Mar 7, 2013
  • Schedule Adjustment ---have modified their summer schedule to/from Toronto to show three weekly flights all routing now via Vancouver in both directions.  Eastbound flight PAL118 will now arrive at 2050hrs in Toronto on Days 3/5/7 and the westbound departure will be at 2220hrs.  The Boeing 777-300ER will continue to be used on this route. 

Air Canada (AC/ACA) --Mar 7, 2013
  • February Traffic ---for the month of February Air Canada reported a record system load factor of 79.8 per cent, versus 76.8 per cent in February 2012.  System traffic decreased 0.7 per cent on a system-wide capacity decrease of 4.4 per cent.  Air Canada reports traffic results on a system-wide basis, including regional airlines from which Air Canada purchases capacity.  "The difference in capacity and traffic from the previous year is attributed almost entirely to the additional day of operations reported for the February 2012 leap year, making those year -over-year comparisons less meaningful," said Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO. 

  • Frequent Flyer Reorganization ---the new top tier program called "Altitude" came into effect early March.  Air Canada's re-branded Top Tier frequent flyer recognition program, "Altitude" is specifically designed to recognize and reward our most frequent flyers.  Altitude offers members a wide range of travel privileges, rewards and additional status levels.  Improved benefits include enhanced priority travel services such as a complimentary checked baggage allowance, higher upgrade priority for higher status members, exclusive partner offers and new incentives such as tier status gifts, as well as the creation of a new dedicated website altitude.aircanada.com.  Altitude members continue to enjoy travel privileges with over 25 Star Alliance member airlines.

WestJet Airlines (WS/WJA) --Mar 7, 2013
  • New Code-Share --WestJet and Air France announced they have entered into a code-share agreement enabling Air France to offer its customers 10 new Canadian destinations operated by WestJet.  The "AF" code is now on select WestJet flights connecting from Toronto to Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Quebec City, Moncton, Halifax and St. John's.   Winnipeg and Calgary flights also bear the French carrier's code for both Toronto and Montreal connections to Air France's direct flights to Paris.  "WestJet and Air France have had an interline arrangement since July 2009 and we are very pleased to see this evolve to a code-share," said Chris Avery, VP, Network Planning for WestJet.  The new agreement begins March 12th and Air France flight numbers in the AF6540-AF6599 range will be used on select WestJet flights. 

  • Carry-On baggage ---announced it is updating the number of carry-on pieces guests are permitted to bring on board to one from two, plus one personal item, effective April 4, 2013.  The carry-on item must be no larger than 21 inches by 9 inches by 15 inches and it must fit in the WestJet sizing devices located in airports across our network.  If it does not fit, it must be checked at the boarding gate and picked up upon arrival at the baggage carousel.  Personal items include small purses, laptop bags or mobility or child restraint devices.  For parents travelling with infants, a diaper bag is permitted over and above the carry-on allowance. 

  • February Traffic ---announced that February 2013 traffic results show a record load factor of 86.1 per cent.  Revenue passenger miles (RPMs) increased 7.3 per cent year over year, and capacity, measured in available seat miles (ASMs) grew 3.1 per cent over the same period.  The airline flew 1.4 million guests in February, a year-over -year increase of 5.5 per cent or approximately 74,300 additional guests.  "Not only did we achieve our eighth consecutive monthly load factor record in February, we also announced WestJet Encore's first schedule, and celebrated WestJet's 17th birthday," said President and CEO Gregg Saretsky. 

China Eastern Airlines (MU/CES) --Mar 6, 2013
  • Route Increase ---the summer schedules have been modified to show a second daily flight between Shanghai Pu Dong airport (PVG) and Vancouver effective July 20th.  Eastbound flights will arrive in Vancouver at 0910hrs and 1910hrs daily using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.  Westbound departures will be at 0130hrs and 1320hrs.  During the summer of 2012 the airline operated 11 weekly flights.

Porter Airlines (PD/POE) --Mar 5, 2013
  • February Traffic ---reported a load factor of 54 per cent in February.  This represents a decline of 2.1 points compared to 2012.  Figures for the month show 104.9 million ASMs and 56.6 million RPMs, compared to 110.4 million ASMs and 61.9 million RPMs last year.  "The capacity difference versus last year is attributed almost entirely to the leap year in 2012 providing an extra day of flying," said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines.

  • Windsor Increase ---Porter is adding a fourth weekday roundtrip flight between Windsor Intl. airport (YQG) and Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ), starting on April 15, 2013.  Flights are timed to provide convenient connections in Toronto for Ottawa, Montreal, Northern Ontario, and other destinations.  The new flight will depart YTZ at 1400hrs and the return flight will depart YQG at 1530hrs. 

Canadian Government --Mar 4, 2013
  • Fighter Replacement ---Canada's National Fighter Procurement Secretariat (NFPS) released the final version of a questionnaire to industry on March 3rd asking for detailed technical information on several competing fighter aircraft.  According to Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the agency that supervises the NFPS, Boeing, Dassault, Eurofighter, Saab, and Lockheed Martin were asked to participate.  "The information gathered through the questionnaire will support a rigorous examination of available fighter aircraft options on the market and how they could accomplish the missions outlined in the Canada First Defence Strategy," the PWGSC says.  The companies have six weeks to complete the questionnaire.  The PWGSC says that an independent review panel scrutinized the questionnaire in order to ensure the process is "rigorous and impartial. The evaluation of options work will be completed as expeditiously as possible and will culminate in a final report that captures the full analysis of the capabilities, costs and risks of each option," the PWGSC says.  A draft version of the questionnaire was previously released to industry on 25 January 2013.  A second questionnaire on cost information will be released to industry in draft form "at a later date."  The NFPS is evaluating options as part of the Canadian government's seven-point plan to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force's fleet of 78 CF-18 Hornets.  The gove't was forced to enact the plan after its efforts to procure F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin without a competition or through cost analysis came under severe criticism from Canada's auditor general in 2012.  "Until the Seven-Point Plan is complete, the Government will not make a decision on the replacement for the CF-18 fighter jets and all options remain on the table," the PWGSC says.   

Pascan Aviation (P6/PSC) --Mar 4, 2013
  • New Service ---Serge Charron, President of PASCAN Aviation has confirmed to the management at Montreal-Mirabel International airport (YMX) the pending arrival of regular flights to eight destinations; Quebec city, Sept-Iles, Fermont (Wabush), Baie-Comeau, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Mont-Joli, Bonaventure and Iles-de-la-Madeleine.  The new service which will start April 1st, is made possible by a partnership between PASCAN and Hélibellule FBO, which owns a private, modern and comfortable terminal at Mirabel.  According to Mr. Charron, "the increase in the number of passengers traveling to the resources regions provides us with incentive to offer better schedules for our regular customers residing on Montréal's North Shore.  Many people who work for mining and related companies are especially pleased with the addition of these new, regular flights from a private terminal at the Mirabel airport." This new service at Mirabel represents an investment of $4.5 million and will create more than 15 jobs starting in spring 2013.  ATR-42 planes will be used for all flights out of Mirabel.

Bombardier Aerospace Inc. --Feb 28, 2013
  • STC Provider ---Bombardier announced that it has entered into an agreement with Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) of Miami Florida to become a Bombardier-licensed Third Party Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Provider for passenger-to-freighter conversion for CRJ100 and CRJ200 aircraft.  The freighters will include a large cargo door and will be marketed by AEI and CRJ100 and CRJ200 Special Freighter (SF) aircraft.  "Bombardier is reporting strong levels of interest for previously owned CRJ aircraft from both traditional and emerging sectors of the aviation industry.  Over the last seven years, the CRJ100 and CRJ200 aircraft operator base has grown to 61-an increase of some 118 per cent -clearly demonstrating the aircraft's strength and versatility in the secondary market," added Mr. Sheridan, VP Sales and Asset Management for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.  AEI's conversion program will provide operators with a CRJ freighter aircraft capable of hauling a maximum payhload of 6.7 tonnes.  The freighter would come equipped with an Ancra cargo loading system capable of hauling pallets, containers or bulk loaded material.  The Main Deck Cargo Door will be 94" wide by 77" high and feature AEI's proven hydraulic actuation and latching systems that have been installed on more than 375 freighters. 

Sichuan Airlines (3U/CSC) --Feb 28, 2013
  • Schedule Adjustments ---Sichuan Airlines will be adding a fourth weekly flight between Chengdu-Shenyang and Vancouver during the peak summer months ending on September 10th.  All flights to be operated with Airbus A330-200 equipment. 

Aeroflot (SU/AFL) --Feb 28, 2013
  • Toronto Resumption ---will resume service between Moscow-Sheremetyevo (SVO) and Toronto on June 1st with Boeing 767-300s on a three times per week schedule.  (Previously reported).

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