News Roundup: Future Boeing, Vietnam, Comair, Icelandair, SAA, Helvetic

It should have been Farnborough International Air Show this week, but Covid killed it. Some wonder if it will ever come back and if there’s any need for it.

Boeing CEO: “all about the next aircraft type”

Boeing’s CEO spent a lengthy interview recognising that the future culture wasn’t going to be one based on stock prices and profit at any price, but that the airlines focus, after its resolved MAX and launched the 777-9, is going to be on the next new aircraft.

What he said was no surprise. Boeing hasn’t got a next new aircraft currently on the books. Airbus have already committed to a replacement for the A320 family by 2030, and it looks exceptionally likely that 737MAX will have to be replaced at the same time, or Boeing are going to loose out completely in the bread and butter small aircraft stakes.

The once touted NMA mid market aircraft seems to have been superseded by events. The A321XL/XLR dominates the longer range small aircraft market for good reason, and there’s no appetite anywhere post-Covid19 for anything like the 797-X as many named it.

Oddly enough rather than place Boeing in an out-of-phase process with Airbus, where they get the next-gen small aircraft out before Boeing, Covid19 and the 737MAX failures may have zeroed the clock, and they’ll both be racing to the finish line trying to be the first to develop the A320/737 replacements by 2030.

Even more ironically, this level of competition could be exactly what we need, if hydrogen powered aircraft are to be the future as many suspect, then both manufacturers coming up with their versions will stimulate the infrastructure needed to operate them far more effectively.

Icelandair’s cabin crew war

Late last week Icelandair was about to send out dismissal notices for every single one of its cabin crew. Nobody could agree on a collective pay and conditions agreement and the airline was at its wits end, unions dug their heels in.

The idea seemed to bare fruit, because the unions quickly changed their tune over the weekend, and a new – virtually identical agreement has been reached. Crew are due to vote by Friday on wether or not to accept.

The problem has been around crew duty time – which has restricted the development of new routes to North American and Southern Europe.


No new airlines for Vietnam

The Vietnamese Government has said it will not issue licences for new airlines until 2022 at the earliest. Concerns over the national carrier, Viet and Bamboo have led the government to decide to leave the market alone and let it recover before adding more competition to the mix.


COMAIR “probably” saved…

South African regional carrier COMAIR which uses a mix of British Airways franchised livery and its own has been in administrative bankruptcy since May, but the insolvency practitioner says that 49 buyers were interested and its had 19 written offers to buy up the airline and keep it flying.


Both A350’s have been sent to Spaind for storage

SAA rescue still in doubt

Having recently sent its A359’s to Spain for storage, South African Airlines awaits what the government will do to re-finance it.

There’s a great deal of disquiet in South Africa about the enormous sums the airline has sucked up over the years and that new refinancing – which the Government has been able to provide any details of, isn’t viable, or its sources are potentially illegal.

The South African opposition parties have threatened to block any vote on recapitalising the technically bankrupt airline, notorious for poor managers and corruption, coupled to endless political interference, if there isn’t clarity on where the money is coming from, and that the airline will be left to do what it needs to get up and running. Few think that’s possible.


Helvetic/Embraer

Helvetic, the Swiss regional carrier that works hand in glove with SWISS, has ordered four E195-E2’s, upgrading them from the E-190 it ordered back in 2018. They see plenty of scope for the upgraded super-economical aircraft in the coming years.