Asiana, Virgin-Flybe, Emirates, Etihad A380’s, Cargolux 773ERF?

Asiana to be sold off

Korean banks are looking at selling off the beleaguered airline to the only party apparently interested: the Hanjin Group. You may not immediately recognise the name, but they’re the legal owners of Korean Airlines and controlled by the Cho family.

If the airline is sold to Hanjin, competition rules will almost certainly require Hanjin to trade it as a separate entity, but these things are much easier said than done in the notoriously convoluted corporate world of South Korea’s large familiy corporates.

Hanjin also own JiinAir, Korea Airport Services, Air Korea, Incheon Aviation Technology, a host of Korean Air hotels, Travel agencies, freight, ocean shipping and container companies as well as port facilities, never mind a vast portfolio of high end apartment blocks.

Asiana has been in decline for a long time, and wasn’t fairing well before Covid, which has pretty much buried it financially.

Asiana currently has 64 of 82 in service aircraft, including 12 744F variants, all 6 of its A380’s are parked up, but all 11 of its A350’s are currently operating. The airline was founded in 1988.

Virgin Atlantic would be ‘willing partners’ for Flybe 2.0

Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Shai Weiss said yesterday that Virgin Atlantic would be willing partners if Flybe comes back to UK and European skies.

Flybe was the worlds first airline to succumb to the pandemic, just as it was on the cusp of being saved. By now it would have been rebranded as Virgin Connect. Now that Cyrus Capital have basically bought what it takes to re-establish the airline, it’s a matter of if and when they actually do.

Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus Capital were all investors previously, and the main aim was to act as a feeder airline for Virgin Atlantic’s services operating out of Heathrow, and break BA’s monopoly on domestic services to the airport.

Emirates report huge loss, Etihad A380’s increasingly unlikely to ever return

Emirates reported a massive loss yesterday, of US$3.8 billion for the first half of their year April-September 2020.

They have already cut 24,000 jobs and reduced their staff to 81,000 and are loathe to have to do more, or risk not having trained people available as things pick up. Overall business was down 74%, but freight growth was so great they converted three 773ER’s to temporary ‘preighters’ by removing most of the interiors.

Even so its a massive loss and the airline is under constant pressure to trim its expenditure, despite quiet support from the government of Dubai.

Just up the road in Abu Dhabi, Etihad is restructuring its management, “to behave more in line with our realistic size as a mid-level airline” – as part of an addendum to the news, the airline sort of admitted it couldn’t really see a time when its A380’s were likely to re-enter service.

Cargolux interested in 777-300ERF

Luxembourg based Cargolux, one of the worlds largest all cargo airlines, has said its keen to examine the practicalities of up to three of the new Israeli conversions dubbed the ‘Big Twin’.

The aircraft has a lot going for it and yet it’s by no means a certainty. For one, Airbus are said to be looking at an A350-900F, Boeing are looking at the possibility of salvaging some 777-9 business by offering an F version, but the first priority is maintaining Cargolux fleet of 747 series for as long as is economically viable.

Yet the Cargolux dilemma is one that many of the big freight airlines will have to confront sooner or later. The days of the 744F especially are numbered, as more and more airports face exhaust and noise pollution limits they simply can’t meet, maintenance and fuel costs rise. Few aircraft exist that are worth converting, and most go to scrap. Many of the 777-200’s are also too old to justify and by the time they’ve been converted you could have bought a new one from Boeing for just a little more.

However as IAI-GE know, there are plenty of viable 773ER’s likely to be available and with life enough to make them cost effective.

The imminent end of 747-8F production – in effect it’s already over because Boeing refused to accept new orders almost two years ago, means the age of new four engine freighters is at an end. So its either buy new or seek the only viable used alternative in the ‘Big Twin’.