Virgin Australia’s most punctual airline in March

A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Virgin Australia has retained the title of the nation’s most punctual airline for a fifth straight month.

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed Virgin led all airlines in March with an on time departure rate of 91.8 per cent, while its on time arrival rate was also an industry leading 90 per cent.

BITRE defines a flight as on time if it arrives or departs within 15 minutes of schedule.

Virgin, Australia’s second largest carrier, has had the highest on time percentage among all Australian airlines since November 2014.

Qantas, which led the on time stats throughout 2013 and most of 2014, was more than two percentage points adrift of its domestic rival in February with 89.3 per cent of its flights departing on time and 88.2 per cent reaching the arrival gate within 15 minutes of schedule.

Behind Qantas were Tigerair Australia (86.5 per cent for departures and 84 per cent for departures) and Jetstar (85.9 per cent on time departures and 86.5 per cent arrivals) .

Among the regional carriers, Regional Express (Rex) reclaimed top position in March with an on time departure rate of 88.9 per cent. Virgin Australia Regional Airlines was second at 88.8 per cent, with QantasLink third on 87.9 per cent.

The best-performing airports in March were Proserpine Airport, which had the highest on time departure rate of 97.5 per cent, and Ayers Rock Airport, which recorded the highest on time arrival rate of 96.6 per cent.

Darwin Airport was the only capital city airport to feature in the top 10 airports for on-time arrivals or departures. The Northern Territory capital was ninth in terms of on time arrivals with 92.3 per cent of flights arriving within 15 minutes of schedule.

On-time departures for March (per cent)

Virgin 91.8
Qantas 89.3
Rex 88.9
Virgin Australia Regional 88.8
QantasLink 87.9
Tigerair 86.5
Jetstar 85.9

On-time arrivals for February (per cent)

Virgin 90.0
Qantas 88.2
Virgin Australia Regional 86.6
QantasLink 85.0
Rex 84.9
Jetstar 86.5
Tigerair 84.0

(Source: BITRE)

 

Australian Aviation

Resumption of Qantas’s Perth-Singapore service a cause for celebration – opinion

Chris Frame
A 2003 file image of a Qantas 767 and Singapore Airines 777 at Perth. Both flights were bound for Singapore. (Chris Frame)

COMMENT:

Perth-based Qantas Frequent Flyer member Chris Frame is delighted the Flying Kangaroo is restoring international service to Singapore from the West Australian capital.

Just a few weeks shy of a year ago I wrote this piece about Qantas’ decision to pull out of regular Perth international services. At the time many WA-based Qantas frequent flyers were reeling from the prospect of having much fewer options to fly with the national carrier; while passengers booked on Qantas’ full-service A330 flights were encouraged to re-book on Jetstar’s one-class, no-frills A320 services, or find alternative arrangements.

But with the announcement that Qantas will recommence Perth – Singapore flights five times a week using Boeing 737-800s, things are looking up for WA-based travellers. This is just the latest announcement in what has been a bumper year for Qantas; with a return to profitability, improved A330 seating and the opening of new and innovative routes just a few of the achievements.

So why are Perth flyers so happy at the Qantas news? Here are five reasons that Qantas’s decision to return to Perth is one to celebrate!

A shorter journey – Perth-based Qantas loyalists who continued to fly to Asia with the carrier faced a journey of up to 14 hours. These flyers endured services routed via Melbourne or Sydney, meaning many hours were wasted backtracking across the continent. With direct flights re-established, the journey has been reeled back to just over five hours, saving valuable time while travelling.

Upgrades are back on the agenda – Qantas frequent flyers wishing to treat themselves to a bit more space are once again able to use their Qantas frequent flyer points to upgrade; a popular benefit which was not available on Jetstar’s one-class services.

More legroom and more food – two inches might not sound like much, but Qantas’s 737s sport a 30-inch seat pitch in economy, which trumps Jetstar’s 28 inches; and over five hours it will definitely make a difference! And let’s not forget that meals (and checked baggage) are included on a Qantas ticket, making for a more comfortable experience all round.

Connections are easier – Qantas’s international fights are fully interlined with the airline’s extensive domestic network. This is particularly important for those passengers travelling through Perth from other towns and cities in WA. It saves valuable time, as there is no more waiting for baggage, or the need to checkin again at the international terminal.

Earning a full serve of points and status credits – with Qantas aircraft back in the air on Perth international flights passengers are rewarded with the full Qantas earn rate for frequent flyer points. And unlike travelling codeshare on Jetstar aircraft, Qantas international services will offer a full serving of status credits on all ticket types – essential for maintaining status benefits with the airline.

My story last year ended by saying, “The sooner that Qantas management reconnects with its Perth customers and realises that no level of marketing speak can convince us that a Jetstar aircraft is the same as a Qantas aircraft … the better. Only then can Qantas ever hope to return to Perth with enough customers willing to welcome it back”.

It appears that day has come! Here’s hoping there are many more QF flight numbers on the Perth International Airport’s arrivals board in the near future!

Chris Frame is a Perth-based maritime historian, travel writer, author and lecturer.

 

 

Australian Aviation

Minister Truss issues new statement of expectations for Civil Aviation Safety Authority

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has proposed restrictions on those operating aircraft fitted with Jabiru engines. (CASA)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has issued a fresh Statement of Expectations (SOE) for the board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The new SOE will apply until June 30 2017 and calls on the CASA board to, among other things, “continue to focus on aviation safety as the highest priority” and operate as a world leading aviation safety regulator.

It also says CASA should “maintain high standards of professionalism, service, probity, reporting, accountability and transparency”.

And the SOE asks CASA to provide a plan for how it will implement the relevant recommendations in the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR) in an effective and timely manner.

CASA Director of Aviation Safety (DAS) Mark Skidmore said in his April Briefing Note the “finishing touches” were being made to its response to the ASRR.

“This plan sets out in detail how CASA will achieve the Government’s requirements and when actions are scheduled be completed, with some being ongoing,” Skidmore said.

“Key elements of the implementation plan will be fully embedded in CASA’s 2015-16 to 2018-19 corporate plan. By doing this CASA’s goals will be clearly and publicly stated and our performance in reaching these goals will be reported to the Government, the aviation community and the general community.

“In other words, we are being open and honest with everyone in our commitment to deliver on the Government’s response to the review.”

Skidmore said CASA had also started work on a longer-term strategic plan for the next 15 years, called Flight Plan 2030.

“My aim is to establish a common understanding with the aviation and wider community about how we will continue to deliver optimal aviation safety outcomes, while responding to a dynamic and growing aviation industry,” Skidmore said.

“CASA recognises positive engagement with the aviation community is necessary to develop and implement the best possible safety standards, deliver effective safety education and get the right operational outcomes.

Meanwhile, CASA said changes to the rules for the commercial operation of small remotely piloted aircraft were being finalised and expected to come in during the second half of 2015.

“These changes will remove the requirement for commercial operations of remotely piloted aircraft weighing less than two kilograms to have approvals from CASA as long as the flights are conducted according to standard operating conditions,” CASA said.

Skidmore added: “We are considering the long term integration of remotely piloted aircraft into aviation operations in all classes of airspace. However, there are significant technological advances, regulatory changes, training and skills, procedures, documentation and education that need to happen before integration into all classes of airspace can take place.

CASA sought comment on proposed rule changes for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in 2014.

 

 

Australian Aviation

Airservices welcomes latest batch of fire fighting graduates

The graduating class from Airservices fire fighting course at Melbourne Airport in 2015. (Airservices)
The graduating class from Airservices fire fighting course at Melbourne Airport in 2015. (Airservices)

Airservices has 17 newly qualified aviation rescue fire fighters following the end of an 11-week training course.

The 17 men and women have graduated from the Airservice Learning Academy course at Melbourne Airport, having undertaken theoretical and practical training that included simulated aircraft and structural fires.

Members of graduating class have been stationed at various airports around Australia, including newly opened fire stations at Gladstone and Newman.

“The fire fighters will join highly trained teams which provide a vital layer of safety for all users of the airport,” Airservices executive general manager for aviation rescue fire fighting Michelle Bennetts said.

“The aviation rescue fire fighting service enhances the airport’s capability to safely service future growth beyond current annual traffic levels.”

Airservices said in a statement on Friday Ballina and Coffs Harbour airports would also get new fire stations in the coming months.

Airservices fire fighters inspect the wheel brakes of a Qantas 747-400 shortly after landing at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Seth Jaworski/Airservices)
Airservices fire fighters inspect the wheel brakes of a Qantas 747-400 shortly after landing at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Seth Jaworski/Airservices)

 

Australian Aviation

Cebu Pacific seeking more traffic rights to Australia

Cebu Pacific Airbus A330-300 arrives at Sydney Airport. (Lee Gatland)
Cebu Pacific Airbus A330-300 arrives at Sydney Airport. (Lee Gatland)

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) says it will seek additional traffic rights for Philippine carriers to Australia in upcoming talks in Canberra.

Cebu currently flies five times a week between Manila and Sydney with Airbus A330-300s and is unable to increase frequencies as Philippine carriers have utilised their full capacity entitlements under the bilateral air services agreement between the two countries.

The airline said in a statement on Friday it would “participate in air talks which will be held in Canberra, Australia on April 28”.

“In the first four months of operations, CEB’s low fares and direct, non-stop services significantly stimulated inbound traffic into the Philippines and Australia,” the general manager for Cebu’s long-haul division Alex Reyes said in a statement.

“We look forward to expanding our services and further growing inbound tourism into our countries.”

In addition to Cebu, Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Darwin. Among Australian carriers, Qantas has has four times a week service between Manila and Sydney. Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary Jetstar previously flew from Darwin to Tokyo Narita via Manila.

Capacity for Philippine flag carriers to Australia is limited to 6,000 seats a week to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, with unlimited capacity to other Australian ports. Currently, about 2,200 seats a week have been allocated to Cebu Pacific and 3,800 to Philippine Airlines.

Cebu, the Philippines’ largest carrier, launched its service to Sydney in September 2014 with 436-seat single-class A330-300s and initially flew four times a week on the route, before increasing the frequency to five times weekly in December.

 

Australian Aviation

Air New Zealand chooses Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines for A320neo/A321neo fleet

An artist's impression of an Air NZ A321neo. (Airbus)
An artist’s impression of an Air NZ A321neo. (Airbus)

Air New Zealand has chosen the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM engine for its order of 13 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft due for delivery from 2017.

The geared turbofan engines will be maintained at the Christchurch Engine Centre, a joint-venture between Air NZ and Pratt & Whitney that was established 15 years ago and currently employs 300 staff.

Air NZ chief operations officer Bruce Parton said the Christchurch Engine Cenre would be one of the first facilities in the world to offer maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for the new generation engines.

“The centre has successfully established world class services to overhaul the current V2500 engines on our A320 fleet,” Parton said in a statement on Friday.

“Today’s announcement will secure the centre’s long-term future which is wonderful news for staff and for Christchurch.”

Christchurch Engine Centre general manager Graham Jack said Friday’s announcement “provides confidence in a long term future and growth prospect for the Christchurch Engine Centre”.

Pratt & Whitney Aftermarket president Matthew Bromberg said Air NZ’s engine choice built on the company’s existing commitment with the airline on its current A320 fleet.

“The Christchurch Engine Centre also gains the opportunity to develop further capability to support this world leading geared turbine technology engine,” Bromberg said.

“With the Christchurch Engine Center’s stellar customer service track record, we know our geared turbofan engine customers will be well served.”

 

Australian Aviation

Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducts fresh survey of ditched Pel-Air jet

The Pel-Air Westwind corporate jet at the bottom of the ocean off Norfolk Island. (ATSB)
The Pel-Air Westwind corporate jet at the bottom of the ocean off Norfolk Island. (ATSB)

Specialist divers from the NSW Police Force and Australian Federal Police have conducted a fresh survey of the Pel-Air corporate jet that was ditched off the coast of Norfolk Island in 2009 as part of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) new investigation into the crash.

The ATSB said on Friday the underwater survey was conducted over two days on March 28/29 and discovered the wreckage of the corporate jet VH-NGA was still at its last recorded position about 4.5km west of Norfolk Island and submerged about 48 metres of water.

In an update on its website, the ATSB said the tail section of the fuselage containing the flight recorders was partially buried by the movement of sand, while both wings, both engines and the rear section of the fuselage and tail were still attached.

“As part of the re-opened investigation the ATSB is taking all reasonable steps to recover the flight recorders from the accident aircraft and download and analyse the data from them,” the ATSB said.

“The information obtained from this latest underwater survey will be used to assist the ATSB in its planning and assessment of options for the next phase of the project to recover the recorders.”

The Westwind corporate jet was conducting an aeromedical flight from Apia, Samoa to Melbourne when crashed near Norfolk Island after running out of fuel.

The ATSB report into the 2009 incident cited errors by the flightcrew and found the pilot in command of the aircraft Dominic James did not plan the flight in accordance with regulatory and operator requirements.

However, the ATSB investigation was the subject of a scathing assessment by a Senate committee which found, among other things, that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) withheld a number of documents critical of Pel-Air. A Four Corners investigation also highlighted serious flaws in the way the investigation was conducted.

In December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss sought a fresh look at the 2009 crash after a Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) review found the ATSB did not follow proper process and had poor oversight during its original investigation into incident.

“The main focus of the re-opened investigation to date has been the review of documentation requested from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the operator and other organisations, as well as interviewing a number of personnel from these organisations,” the ATSB said.

“These activities are ongoing.”

Some annotated images from the ATSB:

The Pel-Air Westwind corporate jet at the bottom of the ocean off Norfolk Island. (ATSB)
Figure one showing the wing and engines. (ATSB)
The Pel-Air Westwind corporate jet at the bottom of the ocean off Norfolk Island. (ATSB)
A second image of the submerged jet. (ATSB)
The Pel-Air Westwind corporate jet at the bottom of the ocean off Norfolk Island. (ATSB)
A third image from the March 28/29 survey. (ATSB)

 

Australian Aviation