What Are Essential Air Services & Why Do They Matter?

The Essential Air Services (EAS) program is a little known but vital part of the air transport regime in the United States. It underwrites air services to scores of small towns across the United States. The program helps keep Americans on the move and communities connected.

Before the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) came into force in 1978, the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) ruled over commercial airline operations in the United States with an iron fist. The CAB “managed” which airline would fly on what route. It was inefficient and anti-competitive, but it did help ensure all corners of the United States got an air service.

The ADA loosened those restrictions. Airlines could choose where they wanted to fly and what to charge. Naturally, the airlines migrated towards the profitable routes. Among the routes to go were marginal services to smaller centers. That’s not a phenomenon exclusive to the United States. It has been repeated the world over.

Essential Air Services program a by-product of deregulation

But the United States Government had the foresight to implement the EAS program. It guaranteed that small communities that had air services before deregulation kept a minimal level of scheduled air service.

Under the EAS program, the United States Government will subsidize two round trips a day with 30 to 50-seat aircraft, or additional services using smaller aircraft, usually to a medium or large hub airport. The Department of Transportation administers the program. Presently, 60 communities in Alaska and 115 towns across the remainder of the United States benefit from the EAS program.

Generally, eligible towns have to be at least 210 miles from the nearest medium or large hub airport. Usually, the Department of Transportation issues two-year contracts. However, four-year contracts are becoming more common.

Boutique Air takes essential air services to Alamosa

An example is the service provided by San Francisco-based Boutique Air between Alamosa, Colorado, and Denver. Alamosa is in southern Colorado and has a population of around 8,100. Between October 1, 2018, through to September 30, 2020, Boutique Air will receive US$5,840,440 from the United States Government to operate 24 nonstop round trips per week to Denver. The flights operate using eight or nine-seat Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. Working EAS services is a core business for Boutique Air.

When looking to implement or renew an essential air service to a particular town, the Department of Transportation issues a request for a proposal from prospective carriers. The Department looks at six criteria. Firstly, the airline needs to have demonstrated reliability in providing an air service. Second, does the airline have an interline agreement with a larger airline at the hub airport? Third, what is the extent of any interline agreements? Will it allow for checked baggage? Single reservations? Fourth, what are the views and preferences of local users and elected officials? Fifth, how and to what extent does the airline plan to market its service? Finally, how much subsidy is the airline asking for?

What the Department of Transportation looks for in EAS proposals

Boutique Air was up against California Pacific Airlines and Denver Air Connection (Key Lime) when chasing the rights to operate EAS to Alamosa. Boutique’s proposal was the least expensive. But according to the Department of Transportation, it won because its proposal “aligns well with all six carrier selection criteria.”

Boutique Air has a proven record of providing reliable EAS at Alamosa, has interline ticket and baggage agreements in place with a larger air carrier (United Airlines), and has included a marketing plan in its proposal. The community of Alamosa and its County Commissioners are supportive of Boutique Air’s re-selection, for a new two-year term. Additionally, Boutique’s proposal sought the lowest subsidy of the proposals submitted for consideration.

The Boutique Air service in and out of Alamosa is one example of scores of similar contracts the United States Government has with airlines to keep small towns connected. EAS is a vital program that gets overshadowed by turf wars between the big airlines on the juicy routes. But courtesy of the United States Government, hundreds of thousands of people have access to a hub airport and from there the world.

source https://simpleflying.com/essential-air-services/

International Boeing 757 & 767 Airline Set To Be Based In Brisbane

Amid an aviation crisis, there is a plan to start-up a new airline in Brisbane, Australia. It is all somewhat mysterious, and we are not sure who is behind it. But they are advertising to fill key roles and want to run a couple of old school Boeings out of the Queensland capital. It raises a couple of initial points –  is this a serious proposal, or has someone inhaled too many avgas fumes?

Someone wants a chief pilot

Local online travel trade publication Travel Weekly broke the story on Monday. Their report was about job advertisements for a chief pilot and head of airworthiness and maintenance control. The advertisements ran on a prominent local employment website.

Complete Aviation Solutions placed the advertising. The Brisbane business says it provides “simple and efficient solutions to a range of clients in the aviation industry.” What’s not clear is on whose behalf Complete Aviation Solutions is acting.

However, the advertising does disclose that the start-up airline will base itself in Brisbane. It wants to start operations in early 2021 and “is looking at using 757/767 Boeing aircraft on international routes.” Note the wording here – whoever is behind this hasn’t locked down any planes yet.

On local aviation forums, the idea mostly got dismissed. Thought bubbles about starting up airlines occur on a reasonably frequent basis. But the bubbles usually burst while still on the drawing board.

The prospects of paying passengers jetting out to Honiara on a clunky old Boeing 757 next year are remote. But a start-up cargo airline could fly.

Prospects of an all-cargo airline

Brisbane is a bit of a hub for passenger and cargo services into Polynesia and Melanesia. These places are geographically large, scattered with islands, thinly populated, and reliant on air transport.

It’s a niche market, flying into places like Honiara, Port Vila, Nauru, and Noumea. Most of the existing services get provided by local airlines. Many of them have kept flying throughout the travel downturn. You might ask why, especially when you consider some of the loads lately.

For example, according to Australian Government statistics, Solomons Airlines operated four return services in May between Honiara and its Australian destinations, Brisbane and Sydney. In total, those four flights brought 14 passengers into Australia and took 74 passengers out. Similar woeful load factors appear across other small airlines across the region that have kept flying.

source https://simpleflying.com/brisbane-start-up-airline/

DFW’s New Terminal For American Airlines Indefinitely Postponed

American Airlines has postponed its plans for a new terminal at its Dallas Fort Worth hub. The airline had announced the US$3 billion build last year with a planned 2025 opening date. However, times have changed. American Airlines has confirmed the new terminal build is paused indefinitely.

On Tuesday, chief financial officer Christopher Poinsatte said the new terminal, referred to as Terminal F, was delayed. He did not specify a time frame, rather used the word “indefinitely”. The CFO was speaking at an investor presentation.

Terminal F delay flagged earlier this year

The delay was flagged several months ago. In April, the airport’s CEO, Sean Donohue, said planned infrastructure, including Terminal F, could be pushed back because of COVID-19.

“Given the data and the forecast I shared with you, undoubtedly the timing of the project and the size of Terminal F will be revisited. We will have those discussions with American and the other airlines at the appropriate time,” Mr Donohue told the Fort Worth Star Telegram in April.

At the time, Dallas Fort Worth Airport was estimating it would lose $225 million over the following six months because of declines in aircraft and passenger traffic. Dallas and Fort Worth jointly own the airport. Both the airport and American Airlines anticipated the $3 billion investment to be financed by bonds and repaid through airline rates and charges over the life of the bonds.

“Today’s announcement sets the stage for DFW Airport’s next 50 years,” said Sean Donohue last year when announcing plans for the new terminal.

Terminal F planned on the back of a bumper year and rosy forecasts

The announcement of Terminal F was made on the back of a bumper 2018 for both Dallas Fort Worth Airport and American Airlines. Some 69 million passengers passed through the airport that year. There was direct access to 60 international destinations, and the airport had the biggest domestic footprint of any US airport.

The airport was and remains American’s base. This time last year, American Airlines was operating approximately 900 daily flights in and out of Dallas Fort Worth, with nonstop links to 230 destinations.

So it was no surprise both the airline and the airport were bullish about the multi-billion dollar investment in Terminal F.

“The plans we’re announcing today will allow for the continued growth of DFW and ensure the airport remains a premier gateway for American for many more years to come,” said Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO last year.

Outlook now not so bright at AA and DFW

But there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. On the back of COVID-19, traffic through Dallas Fort Worth on American Airlines and other airlines have fallen dramatically. At one point, only a few hundred international passengers were passing through the airport each day. Domestic passenger numbers fell to 20,000 to 30,000 daily passengers against the usual 200,000.

source https://simpleflying.com/dfw-new-terminal-postponed/

Meet Air Timor: A Southeast Asian Carrier Leasing Druk Air Planes

Many of us have a list of airlines we’d like to travel on. Some lean towards the lavish, others the exotic. Air Timor ticks the later box. East Timor’s national airline doesn’t have lounges and doesn’t do glitz. But it does usually charter Airbus A319s from Druk Air to operate a scheduled service from Singapore to one of the world’s more unknown countries. It’s a combination that could pique your interest.

East Timor is a tough place to get to

East Timor is not the most accessible place in the world to get to. In usual times, there are flights into East Timor from Denpasar, Darwin, or Singapore.

The few airlines that usually fly into East Timor head into Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport near the country’s capital of Dili. In addition to Air Timor, Dili’s airport normally hosts Citilink, NAMAir, Transnusa, Sriwijaya Air, and Air North.

It’s the Singapore flights that caught Simple Flying’s attention. They are currently suspended. However, The Observador is reporting these flights may resume in September or October. If you are the type of traveler who enjoys a little airline exotica, this flight hits the jackpot.

Not only will you be traveling to an off the beaten track country none of your mates have ever been to, but you’ll also be flying on an airline none of them have heard of. Topping it all, the Air Timor flights between Singapore and Dili uses a chartered A319 from Bhutan’s Druk Air.

Air Timor does a deal with Bhutan’s Druk Air

From a commercial perspective, flying into East Timor has always been a tricky business. Several airlines, including Singapore’s Silk Air, have tried and failed to make a go of it. East Timor’s homegrown international airline doesn’t have any aircraft (which helps keeps costs down). Rather, Air Timor charters planes, and that’s where the Druk Air A319s come in.

Last year, after Silk Air left East Timor, the already slender list of cities with direct connections to Dili further shrunk. East Timor needed to maintain a direct service into a key southeast Asian city such as Singapore.

Coming from the opposite direction, Bhutan’s Druk Air was overnighting its planes in Singapore. Owing to the unique challenges of flying in Bhutan, aircraft cannot land in Paro after dark. As a result, Druk Air’s planes had a lot of inefficient nighttime downtime.

So a deal was done. The Druk Air flights from Paro via Guwahati landed into Singapore in the evening. Rather than sitting idle, Air Timor chartered the aircraft to continue down to Dili. The flights left Singapore on Thursdays and Sundays at the rather ungodly hour of 03:30 for the three and a half hour flight south. The return flights fly out of Dili mid-morning on Thursdays and Sundays, landing into Singapore at lunchtime. The aircraft continues onto Paro, arriving by the nighttime curfew.

source https://simpleflying.com/air-timor/

What’s Happening With ANA’s Brand New Airbus A380 Fleet?

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways, better known as ANA, was somewhat late to order the Airbus A380. In fact, three years after the order was placed in 2016, Airbus announced that it would end the superjumbo program. It’s become painfully clear that COVID-19 has had an impact on ANA’s operations and its ability to use its new A380s. So what’s happening with the airline’s double-decker quadjets?

Delivery timeline

ANA’s 2016 order with Airbus was for three A380s. The aircraft were initially pegged for a 2018 delivery. However, as occasionally happens with aircraft orders and deliveries, there was a delay.

In March 2019, the first ‘Flying Honu’ with its unique livery was delivered to ANA, with its new home at Tokyo Narita International Airport. This particular aircraft was a Sky Blue.

The second A380, colored Emerald Green, was delivered to the airline in May 2019. At the time Yutaka Ito, Executive Vice President of ANA, had this to say of the exciting delivery:

“With its visually distinct livery that evokes the folklore and traditions of Hawaii, and the outstanding features of the A380, the beautiful Emerald Green FLYING HONU lives up to the ANA standard of excellence. We are ready to welcome the plane to Narita Airport so that we can begin operations.”

Both A380s were operating exclusively on the airline’s Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu route. However, this service was suspended from March 25th, with the two jets grounded. This was due to travel bans and the decline in demand due to the coronavirus. The situation has not changed since then.

If you’ve kept up to date with news on our website, you’ll know that the third A380 had a different fate than its bigger brothers.

Then COVID-19 happened

The third and final Airbus A380 for ANA made its maiden flight from Hamburg, Germany, in March of 2020. Painted in ‘Sunset Orange,’ the unique jet would have been delivered to ANA shortly after this maiden flight. However, COVID-19 had an effect on the airline’s plans.

With the coronavirus situation rapidly worsening throughout the month of March, it was at the very beginning of April that we found out about ANA’s plan to defer delivery of its third A380.

The original plan was actually to have the third A380 delivered in April, with commercial flights to begin in May. However, with Narita-Hawaii service suspended, there seemed to be little logic in taking delivery of a brand new, yet unusable, jet.

source https://simpleflying.com/ana-airbus-a380-fleet/

In Pictures: Qantas Says Farewell To The Boeing 747

Qantas’ last Boeing 747-400 is having her swansong this week. After 17 years of flying for Qantas, VH-OEJ Wunala is the last jumbo jet left at the airline. Next week, it is flying off into its last sunset. It will be the end of the line of the Queen of the skies at the Australian airline after 49 years of continuous flying.

At least Qantas hasn’t let the iconic plane disappear quietly. This week, Wunala has operated a series of joy flights for paying passengers and employees keen to get their final fix of nostalgia.

A series of 747 joy flights this week

On Monday, the plane flew a series of loops over the Sydney region. On Wednesday, it took Brisbane-based passengers for a run over the Gold Coast and up to the Sunshine Coast. On Friday morning, the Qantas Lounge in Canberra will be filled to bursting with folks skipping work to take the joy flight out of Canberra.

In between, keen planespotters have had the chance to see Wunala pre-positioning. Today’s Canberra joy flight is operating at lunchtime. Mid-morning, the plane is flying down to Canberra from Sydney. It is returning at 17:00 this afternoon. Unfortunately, the positioning flights are not carrying passengers.

Retro bags, red wine, and blazers

By all accounts, the socially distanced passengers had a good time on the two joy flights flown so far. There was plenty of champagne, and everyone got a goodies bag, including a retro Qantas carry on bag the kids pay now big money for in op-shops. There were also complimentary bottles of red. Perhaps that was a throwback to when the old school flight stewards liberally poured drinks all the way to London.

source https://simpleflying.com/farewell-beoing-747/

South African Airways Rescue Plan Approved

Creditors have today approved a rescue plan to save loss-making South African Airways (SAA). The South African government now needs to come up with at least 10 billion rand ($596 million) to fund the airline.

A step forward for SAA

As reported by Reuters on Tuesday, SAA administrator, Siviwe Dongwana, informed a meeting of creditors that the plan to rescue the ailing airline had been approved by 86% of voting interests. Mr Dongwana said,

“The practitioners welcome the approval of the business rescue plan with an overwhelming majority of those who voted. It is an important step forward for the airline and provides much-needed certainty towards a restructured SAA.”

For the plan to work, the airline’s fleet will need to be scaled back, and the workforce will be reduced. The airline’s operations will be gradually ramped up as travel restrictions are eased. However, it is unclear where the government is going to find the necessary 10bn rand.

It has already provided more than 20bn rand ($1.1bn) of funding in the last three years. From the beginning of December 2019 to the end of April 2020, over $500m was sunk into the airline to try and keep it afloat.

Mr Dongwana informed the meeting that in line with a deadline stipulated in the plan, the Department of Public Enterprises would be delivering a letter to the administrators with a funding commitment.

SAA plans to become self-sufficient

After entering bankruptcy protection at the end of last year, SAA was required to develop a new strategy. Last month, the company, which has not made a profit for more than eight years, issued the 110-page rescue plan detailing how it would become self-sufficient in the future and move away from its dependence on the government.

Regional airline Airlink, with the backing of several unions, attempted to block the rescue plan. They claimed that the plan would not work and applied to have SAA put into administration. The Department of Public Enterprises, as a majority shareholder in SAA, moved to block the legal action, and the vote on the plan went ahead.

source https://simpleflying.com/south-african-airways-rescue/

Air France Outlines Return To 60% Of Schedule By October

Skyteam member Air France announced on Friday that it would be increasing its flight schedule for summer 2020 as well as gradually building up its destination-offering and flight-frequencies over the next few months, through to October. Sadly, service resumptions will not utilize the A380, which the airline has retired. Here’s what the French flag carrier has planned…

Schedule ramp-up

As more of the world opens up and border restrictions ease, Air France intends to rebuild its offerings in anticipation of more travelers taking to the skies. Thus, by September it hopes to achieve 50% of its flight schedule, pushing it to 60% in October.

The airline says that its domestic network will be restored to nearly full capacity flying out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. However, medium and long-haul routes and frequencies will slowly build over the coming weeks and months.

Flying out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle

As you can imagine, a large international carrier like Air France will have many, many destinations – 170 to be precise. Therefore, we can only cover so much detail about the airline’s service resumptions in this article. For specific flight times, resumption dates, and frequencies, travelers can visit the airline’s website.

Without specific details, the below destinations are what Air France is hoping to restore by September and October 2020 out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle:

  • Metropolitan France: Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brest, Clermont Ferrand, Lorient, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Nice, Pau, Rennes, Toulouse
  • French overseas departments & territories, Caribbean & Indian Ocean: Antananarivo, Havana, Mauritius, Papeete, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Saint Martin
  • Europe: Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Belgrade, Bergen, Berlin, Bilbao, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Bremen, Bucharest, Budapest, Cagliari, Catania, Copenhagen, Cork, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Erevan, Faro, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Heraklion, Ibiza, Istanbul, Kiev, Krakow, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Naples, Newcastle, Nuremberg, Olbia, Oslo, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Prague, Rome, Saint Petersburg, Seville, Sofia, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, Turin, Valencia, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb, Zurich
  • Middle East: Beirut, Dubai, Cairo
  • Africa: Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Algiers, Bamako, Bangui, Brazzaville, Casablanca, Conakry, Cotonou, Dakar, Djibouti, Douala, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lomé, Luanda, Malabo, Marrakech, Nairobi, Niamey, N’Djamena, Nouakchott, Ouagadougou, Oran, Pointe-Noire, Rabat, Tunis, Yaoundé
  • North America: Atlanta, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston, Mexico, Miami, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington
  • South America: Bogota, Buenos Aires, Fortaleza, Lima, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, San Jose, Sao Paulo
  • Asia: Bangalore, Bangkok, Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, Ho Chi Min City

source https://simpleflying.com/air-france-schedule-increase/

Emirates Sees No 777X Deliveries Before 2022

Emirates is not expecting to fly the Boeing 777X until at least 2022. That’s a delay of twelve months on the current delivery assumptions. But the chief operating officer of Emirates is taking a realistic view of the problems besetting production of the plane.  Yesterday, Adel Al Redha flagged a probable 2022 delivery date for Emirates first 777X.

Further delays for 777X expected

The 777X is a stretched version of the Boeing 777. The 777X will come in two variations, the 777-9 and the slightly smaller 777-8. To date, only the 777-9 has been produced, and just two airlines have signed on the dotted line to buy the plane. The first deliveries were originally slated for 2020.

The Dubai based Emirates first ordered 150 of the shiny 777Xs in 2013. The big order encouraged Boeing to push on with developing the long-range aircraft. But getting the plane from the drawing board into the air has proved a troublesome process. The first test flight only took place in January.

The airline world is now also a very different place from 2013. The current woes of both Boeing and Emirates can attest to that.

A number of reasons for 777X production delays

Current delays concerning the 777X at Boeing can be attributed to a temporary production shutdown earlier this year due to COVID-19. There is also a lengthy certification process underway.

The Dubai based Emirates first ordered 150 of the shiny 777Xs in 2013. The big order encouraged Boeing to push on with developing the long-range aircraft. But getting the plane from the drawing board into the air has proved a troublesome process. The first test flight only took place in January.

The airline world is now also a very different place from 2013. The current woes of both Boeing and Emirates can attest to that.

A number of reasons for 777X production delays

Current delays concerning the 777X at Boeing can be attributed to a temporary production shutdown earlier this year due to COVID-19. There is also a lengthy certification process underway.

source https://simpleflying.com/emirates-777x-deliveries-2022/

More Hawaiian Airlines Employees Test Positive For COVID-19

An increasing number of Hawaiian Airlines’ employees are testing positive for COVID-19 after attending a training session at the airline’s Honolulu HQ. Several days ago, eight employees had tested positive. Yesterday, it was 13 employees. At the time of publishing, the tally of infected employees stands at 14

Flight attendants training session goes awry

The employees were among 60 who attended flight attendant training in Honolulu in late June. The training was part of the regular FAA mandated training. All the employees and their instructors have been asked to self-quarantine and monitor their health.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have canceled our flight attendant training for the next two weeks to deep clean our facilities,” a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson said.

One of the infected flight attendants is said to have worked on a flight last week.

Another blow for Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii has dodged many of the COVID-19 problems mainland United States faces. As of July 6, Hawaii had 1,030 cases and 19 deaths. But like airlines everywhere, Hawaiian Airlines has taken a hit. By April, the airline had reduced its scheduled services systemwide by 95%. Most services across to the mainland temporarily ceased.

There is currently a mandatory 14 period of self-quarantine beginning from the time of entry into Hawaii. From August 1, you can avoid that if you can produce proof of a negative coronavirus test.Advertisement:

In tandem with those revised health protocols, Hawaiian Airlines had announced it was resuming limited services back to mainland United States from August 1. There is also going to be more intra-island flying.

The flight attendants union weighs in

It was all sounding kind of promising until the flight attendants started getting sick.

The flight attendants union, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), now wants Hawaiian Airlines to reevaluate its training protocols.Advertisement:

“We need to make sure that every airline is instituting effective COVID-19 safety measures, and that we get COVID-19 safety measures instituted from the federal government to ensure one level of safety across the aviation system,” an AFA spokesperson said.

For its part, Hawaiian Airlines says it will be making some changes to its training. Face coverings will be mandatory. There will be electrostatic disinfection and additional time between activities to minimize interactions. The classes will be smaller.

“We are supporting our team members in their recovery, helping contact anyone who may have been at risk of exposure, and reinforcing our office protocols to keep our employees safe,” said the Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson.

source https://simpleflying.com/hawaiian-airlines-covid-positive-employees/