Updated – 24th April 2019
Flight News & Airline Gossip from around the World, just small bits of information that we feel you might be interested in.
French pilots strike threatened for May
French pilots are threatening a six-day strike next month that would impact the flights of easyJet, Air France and other airlines.
The main French pilots union, SNPL, is planning industrial action in protest against reforms by the French government which would no longer allow pilots to have their own separate representation in negotiations for collective working agreements.
Pilots are also concerned about cuts to their pensions.
If it goes ahead, the strike will take place on May 6-11.
EasyJet said it was aware of potential strike action which could affect all airlines operating to France but assured customers it would do everything possible to minimise any disruption.
Major steps” in B737 MAX case
“Major steps” towards completing work on a software fix for the B737 MAX flight-control system suspected in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways accidents were reported by Boeing last week following a test flight, raising hopes the grounded global fleet could soon be back in the air.
The company has also received a boost from Southwest Airlines, which flies only B737s. It is by far the biggest 737 MAX customer in the US with 34 among its fleet, and said last week it has plans for many more.
Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly told a chamber of commerce event in Dallas that Southwest had no plans to abandon the MAX and intended to buy “hundreds” more.
He added: “It’s a very good airplane, but Boeing has acknowledged that they’ve got some things they need to address with the software… It seems like it’s a relatively straightforward modification. We’re obviously anxious to get the airplane back in service.”
Unruly passenger jumps from plane on landing
An unruly passenger jumped out of an American Airlines plane after displaying bizarre behavior during a flight.
After landing at Phoenix the man opened the plane door and jumped, injuring himself slightly.
He was taken into custody by Phoenix police.
The passenger had been unruly throughout the journey from Minneapolis.
Flight crew had already called ahead for assistance due to his erratic behavior.
The 25-year had been walking down the aisle touching other passengers’ faces and spraying them with an unknown liquid.
Another passenger told local media he was also cussing and hit several passengers.
“Once the flight arrived at the gate, the passenger opened one of the doors and jumped off the aircraft,” the airline said.
“He landed on the ground approximately 10 feet below, sustaining minor injuries. Workers at the airport stopped the man and he was taken into custody by Phoenix Police officers without incident,” Phoenix Police said in a statement.
He is facing trespass charges, although other passengers involved declined to press charges.
Thomas Cook admits it may have breached its own borrowing rules
Concerns for Thomas Cook’s financial situation have heightened after it told shareholders it might have been regularly in breach of its own borrowing limits.
In a stock exchange announcement on Friday, it said the Board has received external advice that its current interpretation of articles relating to borrowing limits might have ‘in certain periods in the past’ led the company ‘inadvertently’ permit a level of borrowings ‘in excess of the limit permitted’.
“An implication of the possible technical breaches is that the Company would be unable to roll-over existing credit facilities for the purpose of day-to-day treasury management, as it has done in previous years,” the statement said.
It is now asking shareholders to suspend the borrowing limits for a limited period at a general meeting on April 29.
The issue was raised as part of Thomas Cook’s strategic review of its airline to help reduce debt.
The group announced in February it was looking to sell off its airline as it struggles to cope with the impact of Brexit uncertainty, last summer’s heatwave in the UK, and changing consumer habits.
Richard Clark, an analyst at Bernstein, told the Financial Times that selling off the airline would allow the rest of the Thomas Cook business to be bought by non-European investors.
Under EU rules on airline ownership, European investors must own more than half of an airline or risk losing flying rights in Europe.
Jet Airways halts international flights
Jet Airways has cancelled all of its international flights, including those between Mumbai and London.
The cash-strapped airline, which once had 120 aircraft, is now believed to be operating only 14 as it struggles to pay leasing firms.
It had already cancelled Manchester flights last month and has since been gradually suspending other international routes.
Under the rules of India’s aviation regulator, DGCA, airlines must have a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft before they are permitted to fly internationally.
In a statement to the~Mumbai Stock Exchange late on Thursday, Jet Airways said a further 10 aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors.
It is currently being controlled by a consortium of investors led by the State Bank of India (SBI) but is looking for a new investor to acquire a majority stake.
According to local reports, the deadline for bids has been extended until today (Friday).
Boeing shareholders file lawsuit over 737 MAX crashes
Since Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged the cause of two recent deadly crashes points was issues with its software, the lawsuits have been piling up from grieving families.
Now a new lawsuit from shareholders could be even more damaging.
The proposed class action, filed in Chicago federal court, alleges Boeing effectively defrauded shareholders by failing to disclose safety problems with the 737 Max planes.
Boeing, CEO Dennis Muilenburg and CFO Gregory Smith are named as defendants.
It alleges they ‘put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty’.
“Defendants misled investors about the sustainability of Boeing’s core operation – its Commercial Airplanes segment – by touting its growth prospects and profitability, raising guidance, and maintaining that the Boeing 737 Max was the safest airplane to fly the skies,” the lawsuit states.
Boeing admitted a faulty sensor erroneoulsy triggered the anti-stall system, which pushed the planes into a dive, which in both crashes, pilots were unable to rectify.
A Lion Air Max 8 plane plunged into the sea in October and an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after takeoff in March.
That led to the eventual worldwide grounding of the aircraft.
Glasgow Airport staff vote for industrial action
Unite members at Glasgow Airport have voted in favour of a 24-hour strike after being balloted on action over pay and pensions.
The union said 95% of members voted for industrial action, which will start at 4am on April 16.
About 500 workers will walk out.
Unite said its members will also enforce an overtime ban, beginning in mid-April and running until mid-October.
The vote follows a pay offer of 1.8%, which was rejected. Management also said it plans to close the workers’ final salary pension scheme.
Workers at Aberdeen Airport are also considering industrial action.
Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association president Ken McLeod said strike action at Glasgow and the threat of action at Aberdeen ‘will just drive those passengers to Edinburgh who will happily soak up the extra business’.
“The ballot by Glasgow Airport staff in favour of taking strike action, along with an overtime ban between May and October, isn’t good news for the travel trade, or the travelling public,” McLeod said.
“With uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, customers are naturally hesitant to commit to holiday dates that many feel will be impacted by whatever outcome is finally agreed.”
BA A350 unveils Club Suite
In a bid to outmaneuver Virgin Atlantic, whose new Upper Class will be revealed shortly, British Airways has launched what it calls its ‘Club Suite’ for both the A350 and Boeing 777. Delivery of the first A350 is expected in July.
It follows news of BA’s new look for its First Class cabins being introduced from 31 March, also as part of the £6.5bn revamp of customer service under way by the airline.
The newly-branded Club Suite (below) will have direct-aisle access, a door for greater privacy and flat-bed seats in a 1x2x1 configuration. Other features include 40% more storage, PC/USB power points, wi-fi and 18.5in inflight entertainment screens.
BA says its A350s will also promote “a feeling of well-being, space and calm” thanks to reduced noise levels, high ceilings and time-sensitive lighting plus higher levels of humidity and refreshed air with cabin pressure equivalent to an altitude of 6,000ft.
Along with the new 56-seat Club World cabin, the A350 will also feature the latest World Traveller Plus cabin, also with 56 seats, with new furnishings, enhanced service and improved dining.
The A350 will begin long-haul operations from 1 October as another three A350s join the fleet and two Boeing B777 aircraft are retrofitted with the new cabin.