Latest Airnorth News
Jun 1, 2021
Less than a week after the first Alliance Airlines Embraer E190s began flying for QantasLink, five of the planes are now in the air. More Embraers are on the way, but right now, QantasLink has two of the Embraers based in Adelaide and three in Darwin. All five aircraft are working the Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin runs or variations of that run. Alliance Airlines is now operating flights for QantasLink using five Embraer E190 jets. Photo: Alliance Airlines Two Embraers flying for QantasLink are based in Adelaide A report in Australian Aviation on Monday flagged the five Embraers as VH-UYW, VH-UYZ, VH-UYY, VH-UYB, and VH-UYO. After flying for Darwin’s Airnorth, VH-UYM jumped across to its new Adelaide home from Mildura on Friday, May 21. The plane cooled its engines on the ground for four days and, on May 25, began operating QantasLink services . Its first flight was a service to Alice Springs that afternoon. Since then, the plane has been busy flying between Adelaide and Darwin. Most recently, on Monday, May 31, VH-UYM flew three QantasLink flights; QF1954 between Adelaide and Alice Springs, QF1959 between Alice Springs and Darwin, and QF1951 between Darwin and Adelaide. VH-UYZ was also flying for Airnorth before Alliance Airlines shifted the plane to Qantas. Like VH-UYM, VH-UYZ began flying for Qantas out of Adelaide on May 25. VH-UYZ is also plying the routes between Adelaide and Darwin. Most recently, on Sunday, May 30, VH-UYZ operated QF1956 between Adelaide and Alice Springs, QF1961 between Alice Springs and Darwin, and QF 1953 between Darwin and Adelaide. The Alliance Embraers are keeping busy flying the north-south Central Australian routes. Photo: Alliance Airlines Three Embraers fly out of Darwin most mornings VH-UYY breaks the pattern in that it is a Darwin-based Embraer. On May 24, the aircraft wrapped up its Airnorth flights with a service from Townsville to Darwin. The next day, VH-UYY started operating flights for QantasLink, replicating VH-UYM and VH-UYZ and flying routes between Darwin and Adelaide. Interestingly, VH-UYY appears to have taken a small break from its Qantas duties, operating an Alliance Airlines flight (QQ990) between Darwin and Adelaide on Thursday, May 27. VH-UYB follows a similar format. The Darwin-based Embraer is busy jetting between Adelaide and Darwin via Alice Springs. While previously flying Airnorth services, VH-UYB took a small break in between, operating some interesting routes under Alliance Airlines flight numbers for part of May. On May 20, VH-UYB ferried to Adelaide on a Brisbane-Tamworth-Orange-Mildura-Adelaide routing. Since May 25, VH-UYB has operated QantasLink flights, most recently on Saturday, May 29, when the Embraer E190 flew the now-familiar north-south Central Australian routes. On May 20, Alliance Airlines ferried the last of the five Embraers currently operating QantasLink services up to its new Darwin base. VH-UYO began flying QantasLink flights on May 25, kicking off with QF1958 down to Alice Springs. Before lunchtime today, the aircraft has jetted down to Alice Springs operating QF1958 and onwards to Adelaide, operating as QF1955. VH-UYO is shortly to fly QF1950, the four-hour run back to Darwin. In the future, the Embraers may begin flying in QantasLink livery. Photo: Simple Flying More Embraers on the way for QantasLink Qantas operates these flights under their QantasLink regional brand. Previously, Qantas ran Boeing 737-800s on these routes but now says the smaller Embraers are better suited. In swapping out the planes, they also ramped up frequencies. The Embraer services step up the Qantas product when flying the north-south Central Australian routes from that perspective. More Embraers are coming to QantasLink, and eastern seaboard cities will soon start seeing services. Embraer flights between Adelaide and Townsville, Sydney and Townsville, Melbourne and Townsville, Adelaide and Hobart, and Adelaide and Cairns are on the radar. Many of these routes are already flown by Qantas’ wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, but it is the first time (or in some cases a welcome return) to the full-service Qantas offering. Fiji Airways has taken delivery of two more Boeing 737 MAX-8s, with both touching down in Nadi last week. The planes winged their way from Seattle to Fiji via Honolulu last week. It brings the total number of 737 MAXs at Fiji Airways to four and leaves one MAX yet to be delivered. Two more 737 MAXs arrived at Fiji Airways last week. Photo: Boeing Two flights last week from Seattle via Honolulu for 737 MAXs The two MAXs heading to Fiji last week were DQ-FAE and DQ-FAH. DQ-FAE left Seattle’s Boeing Field early in the evening of Tuesday, May 25. The flight operated as FJ2201. DQ-FAE landed in Honolulu later on Tuesday evening and overnighted. On Wednesday afternoon, the 737-MAX departed Honolulu for the six-and-a-half-hour flight down to Fiji Airways’ home port of Nadi. On Thursday, May 27, DQ-FAH left Boeing’s Field in Seattle, landing in Honolulu later that evening. After overnight, DQ-FAH continued onto Nadi on Friday, landing early in the evening. This flight operated as FJ2203. Fiji Airways received its first two MAX-8s, DQ-FAB and DQ-FAD in late 2018 and planned to deploy them around the Pacific, particularly on flights to New Zealand and Australia. Like most MAX operators, the subsequent global grounding of the MAXs caught Fiji Airways on the hop. Arguably, the MAX groundings had a far bigger proportional financial and operational impact on smaller operators like Fiji Airways than on bigger operators like American Airlines. Fiji Airways sent DQ-FAB and DQ-FAD to storage in Alice Springs . Fiji Airways’ grounded 737 MAX planes are in storage in Alice Springs (top left). Photo: Getty Images Flights grounded in Fiji The Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji cleared the 737 MAX to fly again in Fiji in early April. But other than ferry flights, Fiji Airways’ MAXs aren’t flying anywhere at the moment. Regular tourist traffic between Fiji and its big Australian and New Zealand markets is at a halt with borders closed in all three countries. As a result, Fiji Airways has sparkling new MAXs but nowhere to fly them. If that was the only problem at Fiji Airways, the airline’s executives would probably cheer. It has been little reported but with Fiji’s borders closed and continuing restrictions on movement around Fiji, the national carrier has canceled virtually all flights until mid-June. Citing “compliance with the ongoing movement restrictions and passenger flight suspension directives in Fiji,” domestic and international Fiji Airways and Fiji Link flights are canceled until June 12. Typically, Fiji Link operates Fiji Airways’ domestic flights around the Fijian islands using a handful of ATR 72s. The better-known Fiji Airways brand mostly sticks to international services. For much of the last year, Fiji Airways has operated a scaled-back schedule of repatriation-style flights around the Pacific rim. But they too are now on pause. Fiji Airways’ MAXS were to fly to Australia and New Zealand. Photo: Wellington Airport Newsroom Fiji Airways MAXs may fly from mid-June All that’s on offer between now and June 12 are three “special” flights that operate to get non-Fijian nationals home – diplomatic staff, NGO employees, and the like. There is a flight to Brisbane on June 4, Sydney on June 5, and Los Angeles on June 10. “Passengers must note that operating these special flights is extremely costly for Fiji Airways,” warns Fiji Airways. “Government authorities require all pilots and cabin crew to enter 14-day quarantine after the flight (even for one-way flights departing Fiji). These quarantine costs are borne by Fiji Airways, not the Fijian Government. “As a result, the fares for these flights are higher than those of repatriation flights. Some flights to Australia, for example, are also capacity restricted allowing only 25 – 30 travelers per flight, further driving up the cost per passenger.” Fiji Airways is tentatively scheduling some international flights to resume from June 12. Australia has approved the MAX flying again in its airspace so Boeing’s most controversial aircraft may start flying in from Fiji from mid-June. An American Airlines Dreamliner flying from Santiago to Dallas Fort Worth decided to return to Santiago on Sunday after a slat issue arose shortly after departure. The plane landed back in Santiago safely and all 149 passengers and crew onboard were uninjured. An American Airlines Dreamliner returned to Santiago on Sunday after a problem with the slats. Photo: American Airlines Overnight flight cut short by a problem with plane’s slats Simon Hradecky first reported the incident in The Aviation Herald . According to that report, an American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner registered as N818AL was operating American Airlines flight AA940 on Sunday, May 30. Shortly after take-off, an “issue” cropped up. The plane leveled off, pilots worked on the problem, discovered an issue with the slats, and decided to return to Santiago. The flight, AA940, is American’s scheduled mid-evening departure from Santiago . The 4,890-mile flight normally takes 10 plus hours for their Dreamliner to cover. On Saturday, the plane was back on the ground in Santiago after just over one hour in the air. According to aircraft tracking site RadarBox.com . N818AL touched down in Santiago on Sunday morning, having operated AA945 down from Dallas Fort Worth. The return flight to Dallas Fort Worth was due to depart at 20:15 (local time) on Sunday evening. Flight levels off before pilots troubleshoot and decide to return The flight departed on time before taking off to the south and banking west over the Santiago suburb of Rinconada. Near Lo Prado, the Dreamliner turned onto a more northerly direction. The aircraft was climbing steadily until just south of Colliquay, it leveled off at 11,000 feet. According to The Aviation Herald report, the pilots became aware of a problem by this stage and requested permission to stop the climb. N818AL began orbiting over Ventanas as the pilots worked on resolving the issue. After about 20 minutes, the pilots contacted ATC, reporting a problem with the slats, and said the plane would turn back. The flight headed southeast towards Tranque Ovejeria before turning south and tracking towards Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. The Dreamliner was back on the ground by 21:19 local time. The aircraft, N818AL, began flying for American Airlines in March 2017. These days, the plane operates across American’s international network, flying a few domestic connector flights along the way. This is the first recorded incident involving N818AL – as you’d expect from a young plane flying for an airline with a blue-chip maintenance program. Passengers faced a 14 hour plus delay at Santiago after the flight returned. Photo: Getty Images Hurdles as American Airlines rebuilds in South America American Airlines continues to rebuild its network in South America despite several hurdles. American fell out with its local partner LATAM in 2019 after Delta Air Lines bought a stake in LATAM. That left a big hole in American’s South American network. Then the worldwide travel downturn rolled around, and American’s presence in South America was a show of its former network. More recently, the Dallas-based airline has pushed back into South America – with varying degrees of success. Their Santiago flights hit a roadblock in April when Chile temporarily closed its borders. The Dallas Fort Worth flights have since resumed, but American Airlines has delayed the start date of its new Santiago – New York flights until July. Meanwhile, after a 14-hour delay, N818AL is back in the air. Whatever the problem with the slats was, American Airlines clearly resolved them. The aircraft took off at 10:49 (local time) on Monday morning, operating the delayed AA940 flight. At the time of publication, N818AL is approaching the United States coastline near Galveston. The Dreamliner is expected to land at Dallas Fort Worth at 20:00 CDT on Monday evening. Some people prefer to travel light, and some do not. One United States woman clearly falls into the latter camp. Education student Sydney Fowls checked in a poodle noodle on a Southwest flight recently. Southwest knows a good photo opportunity when they see it and decided to make a big deal about a piece of foam. Southwest Airlines recently flew a pool noodle for free. Photo: Ontario International Airport Two bags fly free on Southwest – even if one bag is a pool noodle Gary Leff in View From The Wing picked up on some social media clips doing the rounds and reported on the story. Sydney Fowls, who is in college majoring in education, was flying on Southwest between Columbus and Tampa. Ms Fowls decided to take the noodle with her because apparently, no holiday is complete without one, and they are expensive to buy. Plus, and here’s the publicity kicker for Southwest Airlines – two bags fly free on Southwest. Does a pool noodle constitute a bag? It seems it does. And fair enough, unlike surfboards, golf bags, and tennis racquets, pool noodles are light and hard to damage. You’ll be relieved to know the pool noodle made it to Tampa. But it could have been worse. Sure, checking in the pool noodle was a stunt, but at least Ms Fowls checked the thing in – she could have tried to fly it as carry-on. And say what you like about the decision to check in a pool noodle, Ms Fowl’s TikTok clip displays her excellent taste in music, with a little mid-90s number from OMC setting the tone. Enjoy those 20 bucks, Sydney. #PoolNoodlesFlyFree (2/2) pic.twitter.com/gjyGu1gFY4 A welcome distraction for Southwest Airlines For Southwest Airlines, the story was a fluffy distraction from another Southwest Airlines story doing the rounds. On Friday, Simple Flying ran a story about a Southwest Airlines pilot fronting up to court for sentencing after exposing himself to a female first officer in the cockpit and watching porn on his laptop. The pilot, Michael Haak, was fined US$5,000 and sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation. The incident occurred on a flight from Philadephia to Orlando on August 10, 2020. Mr Haak retired from Southwest at the end of August. However, the retirement was unrelated to the inflight incident. Southwest Airlines only found out about the incident after Mr Haak left. There wasn’t much the airline could do other than co-operate with the investigation and cancel Mr Haak’s separation benefits – which they did. The pool noodle yarn is a welcome good news story for Southwest. Photo: Southwest Airlines Flight attendant loses two teeth The pool noodle story is also a nice distraction from another nasty incident on a Southwest Airlines flight in May when a passenger assaulted a Southwest flight attendant. As a result, the female flight attendant suffered facial injuries and lost two teeth. That assault caused a major behind-the-scenes ruckus, with flight attendant unions getting involved and Southwest Airlines senior management having to respond. As a result, Southwest Airlines has extended its ban on alcohol service across its flights. You can’t blame Southwest Airlines for trying to focus on good news pool noodle stories when there is so much murk lurking in the background. They aren’t the only airline that does that. Big airlines like Southwest have sophisticated communications teams. Their role is to push the good news rather than the bad news. Sydney Fowls reportedly won $20 from her mates for successfully checking the pool noodle through. Being a college student, it would have been entirely in character for her to spend that money on a couple of inflight Southwest Summer Shandys. Thanks to the bad behavior of a previous Southwest passenger, she couldn’t do that. This weekend, Grupo Aeromexico received its first Boeing 737 MAX 9, registration XA-IMH. Going forward, the Mexican carrier will see a surge in deliveries both of 737 MAX 9 and 737NG units, according to its CEO, Andrés Conesa. Let’s investigate further. Aeromexico received its first Boeing 737 MAX 9. Photo: Aeromexico. The first MAX 9 in the block As of March 31, 2021, Grupo Aeromexico had a fleet of 106 aircraft. It possessed six 737 MAX units (all -8) and 35 Boeing 737 NG (composed of five B737-700 and 30 B737-800). The airline still has an order for 23 MAX and four B787-9 Dreamliner units, as recently reported . Last Friday, Andrés Conesa posted a message on its LinkedIn account. He said, “I’m very proud to share with you that, in the next few days, we will receive our first five Boeing 737 of the 24 that we have on order.” He added that these five aircraft will be both 737-9 MAX and 737-NG. Once these arrive, Aeromexico’s fleet would increase to 111, at least during this quarter. According to Aeromexico, it will receive three MAX-9 brand new and two 737NG that had previous owners. One of the latter flew with Norwegian Air Shuttle, with registration 2-NNGG, according to Planespotters.net . With the new planes, “we will continue operating with the most modern, efficient and eco-friendly aircraft, applying the highest safety standards in the industry, connecting our clients with Mexico and the world,” added Conesa. Aeromexico still has an order for 23 more B737 MAX after this weekend’s delivery. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests. Where will these planes fly? Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico’s air safety rating to Category 2. For the four Mexican carriers that operate passenger flights to the US, this means trouble . For example, none of these operators will launch new routes to the US or increase their capacity on existing routes. This means airlines won’t be able to add frequencies or change planes adjusting to the changing demand. Therefore, Aeromexico will not be able to use its brand new 737 MAX-9 on routes to the US. At least not for now (Mexico hopes to exit from Category 2 as soon as possible). Most likely, Aeromexico will use its brand new planes on Mexico’s highly contested routes. It will deploy the MAX-9 on routes from Mexico City to Cancun and Tijuana, for instance. As demand picks up and borders open, Aeromexico could use its MAX-9 to cover some routes to South America and even Canada. Aeromexico has been rejecting leases due to its efforts to reduce costs and adjust capacity. Photo: Getty Images Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests. Does Aeromexico need more capacity right now? Before the FAA’s announcement, Mexico was quickly recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) even said that the Mexican airline industry will recover 100% of its domestic passengers before 2021 ends. Nevertheless, most of this recovery has come from Mexico’s low-cost operators, Volaris and Viva Aerobus. This is a look at Aeromexico’s fleet over the last two decades. It doesn’t count Aeromexico Connect’s Embraer fleet. Photo: ch-aviation.com Meanwhile, Aeromexico is bouncing back but at a slower pace. Moreover, it is facing a bankruptcy process under Chapter 11, and it is cutting costs as quickly and effectively as possible. The airline has already rejected several leasing contracts, and it is expected to continue this trend. While it is still unclear, maybe adding the three new 737 MAX 9 and two 737 NG means Aeromexico will exit some of its older units. I’m looking at those five 737-700. According to ch-aviation ’s database, four of the 737-700 are parked. The average age of this fleet is 16.6 years old, while Aeromexico’s whole fleet is 7.8 years old. Would you like to fly onboard Aeromexico’s new 737 MAX-9? Let us know in the comments.