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A supplied image of an Etihad Airways Engineering worker conducting a maintenance check. (Etihad)
Australian carriers have a new offshore option to send aircraft for their regular maintenance checks after Etihad Airways Engineering received certification from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
The engineering arm of the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has been granted CASR Part 145 Maintenance Organisation approval, the company said on Tuesday.
“This recognition means Etihad Airways Engineering is able to provide base maintenance services for the latest Airbus and Boeing aircraft – the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – as well as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 and A320 families of aircraft,” Etihad said.
In Australia, Qantas conducts heavy maintenance for its fleet of Airbus A330-200/300s in-house at the company’s Brisbane maintenance facility.
Meanwhile, its Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-400/400ERs, as well as Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-200s, have their heavy maintenance checks completed at overseas workshops.
Heavy maintenance of Tigerair Australia and Jetstar’s A320 fleets were also conducted overseas.
Etihad Airways Engineering chief executive Jeff Wilkinson said he was pleased to have received CASA approval.
“We have been expanding our global customer base in line with our growing capabilities, particularly on new platforms like the A380 and the Boeing 787,” Wilkinson said in a statement.
“We are proud to have achieved compliance with CASA’s stringent regulatory standards and look forward to bring our industry leading aircraft maintenance and engineering solutions to aircraft operators in Australia.”
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has officially fired the starting pistol on construction of a rail link between Perth Airport and the CBD.
The 8.5km line, which stretches from the city to Terminals 1 and 2 at Perth Airport and then onwards to Forresfield in the city’s east, was expected to be completed in 2020 at a cost of $1.96 billion.
The Premier turned the first ceremonial sod at Forresfield station on Thursday.
The WA government said drilling for the mostly underground rail line was expected to start in mid-2017, when two tunnel boring machines were expected to arrive from Germany.
In the meantime, the construction of the entry points to the rail tunnels was due to begin before the end of the year.
The line featured three new stations – one above ground at Forresfield at the end of the line, while Belmont and Perth Airport T1/T2 were underground.
The deepest tunnel point under the Swan River was 26 metres, the WA government said, while the average depth under the airport apron and runways was be 15 metres.
“The link will not only benefit people living in the new rail corridor, but will serve airport passengers and tourists alike and will leave a great first impression for visitors to Perth,” Premier Barnett said in a statement.
Perth Airport’s Terminals 1 and 2, on the eastern side of the airfield, handles all international flights, as well as Virgin Australia, Alliance, Tigerair Australia and Regional Express domestic flights.
Meanwhile, Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic flights operate out of Terminals 3 and 4 on the western side of the airfield.
Perth Airport has said previously it hoped to eventually have all flights operating from the eastern side of the airfield some time in the next decade.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has joined the chorus of carriers warning of tough market conditions after reporting a sharp drop in net profit for the three months to September 30 2016 amid low fares and a weak outlook.
The airline group said net profit tumbled 70 per cent to S$64.9 million in the second quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, compared with S$213.6 million in the prior corresponding period.
“The passenger airline business continues to be impacted by geopolitical uncertainty and weak global economic conditions,” SIA said in a statement on Thursday.
“The outlook in most major economies remains tepid. Furthermore, excess capacity and aggressive pricing continue to persist in the market, exerting pressure on loads and yields.”
The grim prospects for air travel followed a profit downgrade from Cathay Pacific in October, when the Hong Kong-based carrier said weak demand and intense competition from rivals had eaten into reeves and pushed down yields.
SIA, Cathay and others have battled the rapid international expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs, which have bitten into previously lucrative markets. And within Asia, low-cost carriers have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.
Further, the economic slowdown – both in China and elsewhere – had led to a significant reduction in premium corporate travel in business and first class, particularly on long-haul routes.
And closer to home Qantas and Virgin Australia have cited weaker domestic conditions for some revenue declines in the three months to September.
SIA said revenue in the second quarter fell five per cent to S$3.65 billion, while operating profit was down at both Singapore Airlines and Silkair. On a brighter note, SIA’s low cost units Scoot and Tigerair Singapore were profitable in the quarter, reversing the operating losses posted a year ago.
The company said having carriers within the group that catered to both full-service and low-cost segments boosted the airline group’s competitiveness and offered new opportunities for expansion.
“The group will remain nimble and flexible, leveraging its portfolio of airlines to cater to demand in different travel markets, while maintaining cost vigilance,” SIA said.
“The improved operating capability and efficiency of the growing Airbus A350 fleet is enabling the launch of previously unserved new routes.
“The deep integration between Scoot and Tiger Airways continues to provide cost efficiencies and opportunities to enhance network connectivity.”
Despite the lower cost of jet fuel, yields – an industry term measuring revenue per passenger per kilometre – continued to weaken in the second quarter.
At Singapore Airlines, yields fell 3.8 per cent to 10 cents, while they were down 6.8 per cent at regional wing Silkair.
And overcapacity in the freight market had also led to a drop in yields.
SIA said its freight business suffered a S$11 million loss for the three months to September 30, falling deeper into the red from a S$3 million loss in the prior corresponding period.
“Efforts will continue to be focused on higher-yielding product segments to improve the overall traffic mix,” SIA said of its cargo operations.
For the half year, SIA said net profit was up 5.6 per cent to S$321.5 million, as lower fuel prices helped offset revenue declines. The company said net fuel costs for the half fell 25.2 per cent to S$1.84 billion.
SIA described fuel prices as “volatile” given the uncertainty over supply as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) considered cutting production.
Tigerair Singapore’s colours and livery will be consigned to the history books from the middle of 2017 as its operations are integrated with fellow low-cost carrier Scoot under a single brand and operating licence.
The process of bringing together the operations of Tigerair Singapore and Scoot under the Scoot brand was expected to be “realised” in the second half of 2017, the airlines’ said in a statement on Friday. The single brand covered flight scheduling and connections, a common website, contact centre and check-in counters.
The move continues the coming together of the two carriers – both are already under common management after parent Singapore Airlines (SIA) created a single holding company Budget Aviation Holdings to own and manage the two airlines in May 2016.
After forging an interline agreement in October 2012, the carriers deepened their cooperation when the Competition Commission of Singapore granted anti-trust immunity in August 2014 to work together.
SIA then launched a successful takeover of Tigerair Singapore through purchasing all the shares it did not already own.
The move to 100 per cent ownership allowed closer cooperation between the pair, helping facilitate more transfer traffic between the short-haul Tigerair Singapore and long-haul Scoot.
SIA chief executive and Budget Aviation Holdings chairman Goh Choon Phong said the two low-cost carriers had made “good progress in their integration”.
“The integration has already led to commercial and operational synergies between Scoot and Tigerair that are providing growth opportunities for both airlines, an example being Scoot’s plan to launch its first European service, to Athens, next year,” Goh said in a statement.
“Following a review we have determined that the logical next step is to pursue a common operating licence and common brand identity to enable a more seamless travel experience for customers.”
Budget Aviation Holdings chief executive Lee Lik Hsin said Tigerair would benefit from the “strength of Scoot’s brand for the next phase of its growth”.
“A single brand touchpoint will also enable a more seamless travel experience for guests across our network and allow us to bring Scootitude to more guests in the region,” Lee said
At September 30 2016, Tigerair Singapore had a fleet of 21 Airbus A320 and two A319 narrowbodies flying to 40 destinations in 12 countries.
Meanwhile Scoot had six Boeing 787-8 and six 787-9 Dreamliners serving 24 destinations in 10 countries, including Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in Australia.
Tigerair Australia, which is 100 per cent owned by Virgin Australia, and Tigerair Taiwan, a partnership between China Airlines (80 per cent), Mandarin Airlines (10 per cent) and Tigerair Singapore (10 per cent), were not part of the rebranding.