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Nectar Financial, formerly Etops, offers a platform that allows clients to replace fragmented and complex IT systems with an integrated solution based on technology. The solution simplifies client relationship and portfolio management while integrating them tightly into regulatory and compliance processes.

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Viva Air Wants To Turn Medellin Into A Connecting Hub

Apr 25, 2021

Advertisement: Viva Air Colombia has been busy adding new Airbus A320neos to its fleet while planning new international routes in recent months. The low-cost carrier is undoubtedly readying itself for growth over the next few years. Viva Air Group CEO and president Félix Antelo spoke with Simple Flying about how the airline’s A320s are the perfect aircraft to help the airline expand across North and South America while developing Medellín into a low-cost hub. Viva Air holds a fleet of solely Airbus A320 aircraft. Photo: Viva Air The right arsenal Last October, an A320neo joined the Viva Air’s fleet for the first time. Nicknamed, Boomerang, the plane marked the first of four units of the type that arrived at the José María Córdova International Airport-based carrier’s holdings in 2020. Even another two A320neos were delivered last month. Altogether, by the end of the year, the airline will be deploying 15 ceo and 10 neos in the skies. Antelo highlights that these planes will be crucial in helping his company keep the momentum going since restarting operations last fall. Restrictions amid the pandemic forced suspensions for Viva Air. Nonetheless, recovery has been strong since September, and the firm has since announced new international routes that will start in June. Viva Air Colombia has been operating for less than a decade, but it is already progressing across the Americas well. Photo: Getty Images. High hopes for the summer Notably, Viva Air is heavily expanding on its international destinations. Presently, it primarily operates on three international routes: Medellín – Miami Bogotá – Mexico City Other than its role as a popular tourism destination, Medellín’s positioning makes it a great spot to transit across the Americas. Photo: Viva Air Utilizing the fleet Viva Air is confident that progress in vaccination rollouts will enable a far stronger second half of 2021. It is also expecting even better figures for 2022. The A320neos will enable that there is operational efficiency as the company develops. Advertisement: “We can benefit from our low cost, new neos. They have longer range and they burn less fuel. So, we need to deploy these aircraft for longer flights and our plan of international expansion starts right away. We are building a stronger hub in Medellín. Via Medellín, you’re going to be able to connect from all these destinations I mentioned to all of Colombia. In a maximum of two hours, you’re going to be able to connect from the likes of Mexico City to Cartagena and Orlando to Santa Marta.” Antelo tells Simple Flying. “You have airlines doing hub and spoke, but you don’t have low-cost airlines doing that. So being able to be able to fly on a low-cost ticket, paying $200 or $300, going from Lima to Cancun round trip with tax included, you don’t get that in the market, and we will be able to do that with Viva while being profitable because of our low cost base. Advertisement: Wider expansions on the cards There has been great emphasis on routes between Latin America and the United States in recent weeks. With strong family, economic, and leisure connections across the areas, airlines have been ramping up services. For instance, this month, Avianca and Aeromexico have announced new flights to the United States from Costa Rica and Mexico respectively. Moreover, United Airlines recently shared that it has exceeded its pre-pandemic schedule to Latin America. With this in mind, Simple Flying asked Antelo about any other potential expansions across the region. He expresses that when it comes to heading North, the airline is definitely interested in adding other destinations to its network. The neos allow for travel to a range of cities in the US such as New York, Atlanta, and Dallas. So, it won’t be too long before Viva Air heads to other US states other than Florida. The Airbus A320neo has a range of up to 3,400 NM / 6,300 km. Photo: Getty Images In regard to South America, Viva Air has been analyzing every single mid to big city across the continent. Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Guayaquil are all planned. However, the carrier has also been looking at the prospects of heading to the likes of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Ascension, Cordóba, Quito, and La Paz. Advertisement: With plenty of pent-up demand, Viva Air won’t have a problem when it comes to bookings to fill up its seats. Photo: Viva Air Combining well It’s not just passengers that the A320neos can transport efficiently to these destinations. With signficant trade relationships across South America, the plane’s belly will move cargo from city to city well. Stay informed: Sign up for our  daily  and  weekly  aviation news digests. Altogether, whether they are ceos or neos, all of Viva Air’s present aircraft are newcomers. The average fleet age is just over two years, and the carrier is still adding new members . So, with plenty of modern, efficient A320s at its disposal, Viva Air will be able to expand profitably in its next chapter while turning Medellín into a robust low-cost connecting hub. What are your thoughts about Viva Air’s operations? Let us know what you think in the comment section. Advertisement: Low-cost carriers typically serve leisure passengers who want a low-fare getaway. These passengers generally want to visit destinations with beaches, a plethora of restaurants, and attractions that are different from the environment they get at home. Hawaii fits this bill for low-cost carriers, but the state has notoriously lacked low-fare competition. With Southwest in the market, there is hope for more low-fare competitors to start flying to Hawaii, but that is easier said than done. Serving Hawaii has historically been difficult for low-cost carriers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying Hawaii is a known leisure market Hawaii is mostly known as a haven for leisure travelers. The island state, which has a relatively small population, is not a massive origination market but a top destination for American tourists. There are many travel options for passengers with multiple islands. Each island offers a different experience. All roads lead to Kona. (Or at least this one does.) #VisitIslandOfHawaii #LetHawaiiHappen There are plenty of outdoor hiking options for more adventurous travelers, including up to the summit of a volcano called Mauna Kea. Others may appreciate a leisure walk around Diamond Head, which has natural beauty and military history. For people who want to relax, Hawaii is known for its multitude of beaches. Those who want to embrace the culture and history of Hawaii can visit places like the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Iolani Palace, and more. Fact: Iolani Palace is the only official royal residence in the US. And you can find it right here, in Oahu. #VisitOahu #LetHawaiiHappen While there are corporate events, conferences, and meetings held in Hawaii, the state is predominantly a leisure hub. With low-cost carriers flocking to destinations in California, Nevada, and Florida, among others, Hawaii may seem like a natural extension of any leisure-oriented carrier’s route network. The geographical limitations Hawaii is roughly 2,400 miles (~3,800 km) from the mainland of the United States, and specifically California. To places like Seattle or Las Vegas, a flight from Honolulu would need to cross 2,700 miles (~4,345 km). These are some long flights. Southwest’s routes to Hawaii are some of the longest in the airline’s network. Photo: Southwest Airlines Flights from Las Vegas to Honolulu can take up to six hours in travel time. From Los Angeles, flights can take around 5.5 hours. And, from San Francisco, flights to Hawaii can clock in at around five hours. Some of these flight times depend on factors like wind, weight, and traffic that can lead airlines to need to fly less direct routings. Advertisement: A plane problem Planes are one of the inhibiting factors for low-cost flights to Hawaii. Low-cost carriers in the US are mostly flying Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 aircraft, and most of the planes in low-cost fleets are older models, such as the 737-700 or -800 Next Generations (NGs) or the Airbus A320ceo. Southwest has used the 737-800 on flights to Hawaii. Photo: Southwest Airlines The Boeing 737-800, for example, has a range of around 2,900 nautical miles (~3360 miles) with a payload of around 160 passengers. Alaska Airlines, which flies Boeing 737-800s to Hawaii on some routes, outfits its aircraft with 12 seats in first class, 30 in extra-legroom economy, and 117 in standard economy. This comes out to a total capacity of 159 passengers. Advertisement: Compare this to Southwest’s Boeing 737-800s, which fit 175 passengers. The weight of those extra 16 passengers, coupled with the extra baggage they bring onboard, limits the performance of the Boeing 737-800. Add in the winds on westbound flights that further limit performance, then Southwest has to sell fewer seats on the 737-800s to make the route work. A similar story would play out for an airline like Spirit. Passengers going away for a longer period of time to Hawaii would likely carry multiple bags with them, and airlines know they have to ensure the bags and passengers get to their final destination simultaneously. On peak winter wind days, Southwest had to restrict capacity onboard its 737-800s to make sure the plane could get to Hawaii. Photo: Southwest Airlines As Andrew Watterson, Chief Commercial Officer at Southwest, explained on the carrier’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January: Advertisement: “The NGs have payload restrictions going westbound in the high wind time of the year, which is actually right now. We’ve not got the demand to fill the aircraft right now, so we’re not really having to restrict the payloads, but normally we would have to restrict the payloads this time of the year with the NG.” ETOPS Extended range operations (ETOPS) apply to twin-engine aircraft flying over water with limited or no diversion options. Airlines have to receive ETOPS certification for flying to Hawaii. In case of emergency, the nearest airport could be a few hours away, as much of the route from the West Coast to Hawaii is over the Pacific Ocean. It was a long process for Southwest to get ETOPS certification. Photo: Southwest Airlines Gaining ETOPS certification is a lengthy process, as Southwest demonstrated in the lead-up to announcing its Hawaii flights . Airlines have to work with regulators to ensure their operations and procedures meet standards so, in the case of an engine failure, for example, the aircraft can get to an airport safely. This means ensuring some more beefed-up items onboard, including handling some medical emergencies or fires in the air as the captain brings the plane to the nearest airport. Allegiant Air used to use Boeing 757s to service Hawaii, which was the only aircraft in its fleet with ETOPS certification. For a myriad of factors, the airline removed its 757s from the fleet and ended Hawaii flying after only a few years. This is one example of a carrier taking on a new aircraft to gain ETOPS certification for flights to Hawaii. Advertisement: Next-generation aircraft can tackle the challenge Low-cost carriers typically shy away from operating widebodies. Those large aircraft can be difficult to fill and may not be easily deployable on other routes. Airlines like Southwest and Spirit have stuck with the narrowbody Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families, respectively. The good news for both of those airlines is that next-generation jets can more easily fly to Hawaii. Southwest Airlines is excited to get the MAX back in service so it can fly into Hawaii. Photo: Getty Images Southwest has long wished to use the MAX for flights to Hawaii . Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer at Southwest, stated the following on the airline’s first-quarter earnings call about using the MAX to Hawaii: “We’re in the final stages of obtaining ETOPS certification for our MAX 8 fleet. So, the MAX and its fuel burn advantages will allow us not only to reduce our operating cost to Hawaii, but it’s also going to allow us to fill all 175 seats in winter wind conditions, and that’s something that we can’t always accomplish with the [Next Generation] fleet. And that was our plan all along, but of course, the efforts were delayed as a result of the MAX grounding.” Spirit Airlines has also started taking delivery of new Airbus A320neo family aircraft, which can now make the hop to Hawaii. In March, in an exclusive interview with Simple Flying, John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning at Spirit , stated that the Airbus A321neo could be an ideal aircraft for flights to Hawaii. Spirit’s Airbus A320neos can make it to Hawaii, but the airline has other priorities currently. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying While Spirit can now serve the islands with an Airbus A320neo family jet, the issue is now about prioritization. The carrier does not see Hawaii as a priority when there are so many other, easier markets to target first. Ultimately, as more next-generation planes enter fleets, Hawaii could be ripe for low-cost growth. However, with so many carriers already in the market, it may dissuade some low-cost growth until the market rebounds strong and airlines get more clarity on demand and revenue outlooks for flights to Hawaii. Do you want more low-cost services to Hawaii? Let us know in the comments! Advertisement: Commercial aviation owes a lot to the so-called ‘Open Skies’ agreements that have enhanced network flexibility worldwide. However, did you know that if you remove the space between the two words, you instead get the name of a former French airline? Let’s take a look at what happened to this small, IAG-owned carrier. OpenSkies’ largest aircraft before it rebranded was the Boeing 767. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr How was OpenSkies established? OpenSkies came into being in 2008, when UK flag carrier British Airways decided to expand its transatlantic operations into continental Europe. It felt that this would help to ease its dependence on its existing hub at London Heathrow, which served both long-haul flights to and from North America, and connections to and from neighboring Europe. This enterprise saw it fly from the likes of Paris and Amsterdam to US East Coast destinations sub as New York and Washington DC. The airline was able to operate these routes thanks to an ‘ Open Skies ‘ agreement between the EU and the US. Its name conspicuously paid tribute to this legislation. In 2012, OpenSkies even joined the oneworld alliance, of which British Airways had been a founding member back in the late 1990s. What aircraft did it operate? According to , OpenSkies operated five Boeing twinjets over the years. Four of these aircraft were examples of the single-aisle 757-200. Of these, two joined the airline in 2008 from British Airways , and the other pair in 2009 from L’Avion/Elysair. OpenSkies’ livery was reminiscent of its IAG partner British Airways. Photo: Liam McManus via Flickr Stay informed: Sign up for our  daily  and  weekly  aviation news digests. Three of the four 757s featured a three-class, 114-seat configuration. This consisted of 20 business class seats, 28 in premium economy, and then a 66-seat economy cabin at the rear of the aircraft. The airline’s fourth 757 was far more premium-heavy, with just 64 seats (24 in first class and 40 in business class). Advertisement: Boeing’s extensive widebody portfolio also saw a sliver of representation at OpenSkies. This came in the form of a single Boeing 767-300ER, which joined much further down the line in 2016. By this time, the three-class, 192-seat aircraft had already served British Airways for 26 years . As such, it was with OpenSkies for just two more years before being withdrawn in 2018 and scrapped the following year in St Athan, Wales. Rebranding as Level France After 10 years as OpenSkies, the airline was subjected to a rebranding program in 2018. This saw it renamed as Level France – of course, Level itself is also an IAG-owned brand. Additionally, the airline replaced its Boeing aircraft with three Airbus A330s, which also reflected a change in business model for the airline. Advertisement: The rebranded Level France flew its A330s for just two years. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr Indeed, while the original OpenSkies had been a premium-heavy, boutique operation, Level France took a more low-cost approach. Its A330s were more densely configured, with just 21 premium economy seats ahead of a 293-seat economy section which dominated the aircraft. However, the difficulties of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced this up-and-coming low-cost long-haul brand to cease operations in July 2020 . Did you ever fly with OpenSkies, either under its original guise or after it had been rebranded as Level France? let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments! Advertisement: Dubai International Airport (DXB) based-Emirates will temporarily return one of its massive Airbus A380s to Flughafen Frankfurt am Main (FRA) in May. Unlike other airlines that grounded the A380 following restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gulf carrier has continued to operate A380s on some high-traffic routes. Because of COVID-19 Emirates stopped fling its A380s to Frankfurt. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying Frankfurt Airport was once a safe bet for plane spotters hoping to get a glimpse of the world’s largest passenger aircraft. German national flag carrier Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Asiana, and Korean Air all operated A380 flights to Germany’s largest airport. COVID-19 hurt the Airbus A380 With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this all changed as passenger numbers plummeted. With the demand for seats having fallen off a cliff, airline bosses looked at the viability of operating large four-engined aircraft. Since March of 2020, the only Airbus A380 flights out of Frankfurt have been Lufthansa jets departing for storage in Teruel, Spain. Of its fleet of 14 Airbus A380s, six are scheduled to retire, with the other eight listed as being stored. With COVID-19 and Lufthansa looking to cut its carbon emissions, it will not be surprising to see the German airline not bringing the A380 back into service. Emirates sees a role for the A380 As the world’s largest Airbus A380 airline with 117 planes, Emirates still sees a role for the aircraf t at airports where slots are restricted. During an exclusive webinar hosted by Simple Flying Emirates, President Sir Tim Clark said: “It stands testament to the quality of the A380 because Heathrow slots are restricted, Hong Kong slots are restricted, every single major hub is restricted on slots. So, if you want to put a 787 in there to a Heathrow slot where you could put a 517 seater A380, it doesn’t take long to get to the maths on that. If you can put six in there a day, it just tells you what the power of that airplane is. So, we do follow the frequency argument, but with large airplanes, which is why people have felt fairly challenged by what we would do.” Advertisement: Emirates A380 Premium Economy. Photo: Emirates Currently, Emirates operates two flights per day between DXB and FRA but has been using one of its Boeing 777-300ERs for the close to seven-hour flight. This, however, is about to change, albeit perhaps for just a short time with German aviation website saying that a spokesperson for Emirates told them the following: “Emirates can confirm that the flight rotation EK47 / EK48 between Dubai and Frankfurt will be carried out temporarily – between May 1 and 16, 2021 – with the Airbus A380.” Advertisement: The A380 will return to Munich in July Munich International Airport (MUC) saw the return of an Emirates A380 over the Easter holidays before Emirates once more went back to Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. By summer, this will change again, with the A380 scheduled to be on the route starting from July 1. Emirates will use an A380 to fly to Munich from July. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying Sadly while we all loved the A380, the writing is already on the wall just as it is for all four-engined powered jet aircraft. Reducing CO2 emissions is the name of the game right now. Are you happy to see Emirates keep its A380s flying? Please tell us what you think in the comments. Advertisement: It has now been three years since Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air received its first aircraft from the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family. The plane’s presence has helped the airline modernize its fleet, while also shifting its business model to that of a boutique airline. Gulf Air now operates a total of seven Boeing 787s. Photo: Getty Images The first delivery Tomorrow will mark three years since Boeing announced that it had delivered Gulf Air’s first Boeing 787 aircraft. This was a crucial step in modernizing the airline’s long-haul fleet, which, at the time, consisted of older Airbus A330s. Its CEO, Krešimir Kučko, stated: “This delivery is a historic moment for Gulf Air and Bahrain and yet another important step in our strategic direction towards furthering Gulf Air’s fleet modernization process and supporting our network and overall passenger experience enhancement strategies.” Stay informed: Sign up for our  daily  and  weekly  aviation news digests. Gulf Air’s 787s have made several appearances at Formula One motor races in the country. The most recent of these was at the 2021 F1 season opener last month. Photo: Getty Images According to , Gulf Air has now disposed of all of its remaining A330s, and its 787 fleet has grown to seven aircraft. These modern and efficient twinjets have an average age of just 2.5 years old. With this in mind, Kučko added that: “The 787-9 Dreamliner orders will ensure we maintain one of the youngest fleets in the region while building upon our award-winning reliability, on time performance and product and service standards.” Gulf Air also launched its new livery on the 787. This represented a visual manifestation of its business model transition toward being a boutique airline. As such, the Dreamliner has quickly become the airline’s flagship, and it has deployed the type on key routes such as Bahrain-London Heathrow . It has also made several appearances at Formula One’s Bahrain Grand Prix, including one powered by sustainable fuel before the race last month. One of Gulf Air’s 787s wears a special retro livery. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr Onboard Gulf Air’s 787s According to SeatGuru , Gulf Air’s Dreamliners have a capacity of 282 seats. The majority of these are situated in its 256-seat economy class section, boasting 32 inches of seat pitch in a 3-3-3 configuration. These seats have a width of 17.5 inches. Advertisement: However, its real pride and joy can be found at the front of the 787-9 in the form of its 26-seat ‘Falcon Gold’ cabin. Gulf Air markets this as “the luxury of first class at a business class fare.” Falcon Gold passengers are afforded an impressive 83 inches of seat pitch in their open suites, in which the seats measure a generous 36 inches wide. This luxurious premium cabin is a key part of the carrier’s boutique model , and allows for more personable service onboard. Furthermore, it also feels that, due to its smaller size, it can more easily build close, personal relationships with its frequent fliers that use this cabin. Advertisement: More Dreamliners inbound In addition to the seven 787-9s already in Gulf Air’s fleet, it also has another three examples of the mid-size Dreamliner on order. This will see the carrier’s 787 fleet swell to 10 aircraft, which will help it to further establish itself among the competitive Middle East market. However, these aircraft are unlikely to arrive at the airline particularly imminently. After all, as Simple Flying reported in January, Gulf Air has sought to defer its upcoming 787 deliveries in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It has also made a similar request regarding its incoming Airbus A320neos. Nonetheless, the combination of the 787’s range and Bahrain’s convenient location in the Middle East should see Gulf Air help the world to become more connected in years to come. Its position will only be strengthened by its move into a brand new terminal at its Bahrain International Airport (BAH) hub. The carrier is surely looking forward to many more years of fruitful Boeing 787 operations. Have you ever flown on one of Gulf Air’s Boeing 787s? Do you plan to do so in the future? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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