Finnair sells A350’s, BA faces 2021 realities, 777-9, Goodbye Hifly A380

Finnair, one of the worlds most successful mid sized transit airlines has had to sell several of its A350-900’s to leasing companies to raise capital, having originally purchased them outright. Yesterday they sold yet another as they continue to struggle through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finnair had built an extraordinarily successful business flying passengers to Asia, from its hub in Helsinki. The success of its business was based on medium cost business class and economy fares that often undercut direct flights from places like Heathrow to Hong Kong. As I experienced myself in 2019, their offering is superb quality foord and service, even if the business seating isn’t quite up to the high end brands levels. Its a balance that works and on modern A350’s its an outstanding experience.

The problem is now there just aren’t any passengers, business has collapsed and the airline has cut back staff and stored aircraft. Out of a fleet of 72 aircraft only 35 are operating. Just 3 of 19 A321’s for example are flying, although 14 of 16 A350’s are operating, mostly on cargo flights. 11 of 12 of its ERJ-190’s are providing most of its regional passenger services.

British Airways faces 2021 realities

One minute they’re telling you how wonderful advanced bookings are, and the next minute they quietly cut routes without saying a word. To even know if they have you either have to be a customer, or have access to some of the route analyser reporting.

BA has cut, what for them is a huge number of routes, and they’re not all minor destinations either.

Charleston and Pittsburgh have been dropped from the US, along with Calgary in Canada. Lima (Peru), Durban (S.Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), and Muscat (Oman), have all been dropped.

Real shockers were Seoul (S.Korea), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Osaka in Japan.

All of the above will be permanently terminated from March 21st. More will go on April 30th, including the Seychelles (Indian Ocean), and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, although a temporary service will operate during the Hajj months).

All flights to Bangkok (Thailand) and Sydney, Australia will cease for the summer months but return in the northern winter from the end of October.

The Calgary route has both Westjet and AirCanada offering Gatwick and Heathrow services. Both Korean and Asiana fly from Heathrow to Seoul Incheon and there’s always the Finnair option via Helsinki. Etihad also served Dubai, and Malayisa Airlines (at least at present) offers Kuala Lumpur. Oman Air also offers direct flights to Muscat from Heathrow.

BA’s owners, IAG posted a massive loss, almost 40% larger than analysts had predicted at €1.3 billion Euros, when they’d been expecting around €900m.

Boeing lets key journalist see the 777-9 test plane interior

Boeing let a single journalist into the 777-9 tests aircraft this week, in a light effort to scotch quite a few rumours the company was going cold on the aircraft and had even considered cancellation. While the journalist concerned did a bang up job in sounding overtly enthusiastic and geeky at the thrill of being allowed somewhere journalists are rarely allowed, it still smacked of a very underwhelming effort by Boeing to keep the lights on the project.

I’ve often said you should read not what they say but what they don’t, and nothing said ‘enthusiasm’ on Boeing’s part. There were repeated stock phrases on what had been done, and what should happen, but none of it sounded particularly convincing about what actually would happen. Until Boeing get the aircraft back in the air and doing full on certification flights next year, which is the next stage, rumours will keep running. All the current indications are that its a low priority project and there’s no rush.

And that’s fair enough to a point, airlines haven’t got any money to buy them and no passengers to fly in them, so nobody wants to take delivery. And again, that may well be the long term problem; when it comes to it maybe nobody really wants to?

Starlux Aims for LAX

Taiwanese startup Starlux is aiming for LAX as its first long haul route when it takes delivery of its first A350’s. They expect to offer 4,300 weekly seats on the route by 2023 and will start set up in late 2021/early 2022.

17 A350 XWBs are on order, comprising eight A350-1000’s and nine A350-900’s. The carrier also has an order for seven A330-900neo and six more A321neos to join the four it already has.

Deliveries of Starlux’s first A350s are expected during the first quarter of 2022.

HiFly say goodbye to the A380

The ex SIA A380, which had retained the old airlines interior, while ironically flying around warning about sea level rise on a four engine high-emissions Co2 aircraft, has been returned to its owners, Dr Peters Group.

The aircraft is said to be heading directly to the dismantlers, as there is just no market for a third hand A380. Indeed there wasn’t much of a market for it second hand, and this was the only one ever to have a second life.

The aircraft had been problematic, finding insufficient business to really justify it and proving to be more than difficult at times when flown to airports unfamiliar with A380 operations or just not suitably equipped to deal with it. There were also multiple engine issues and its reliability wasn’t as high as was expected.

The aircraft flew a heart on its way to the scrap yard.