Emirates Announces New Route to the Americas

Following months of speculation, Emirates has finally confirmed plans to connect its Dubai hub with Mexico City. The new daily service will link the Middle East and Mexico via Barcelona from December 9. The UAE airline is rostering its two-class Boeing 777-200LR for the sectors, with 38 seats in a 2-2-2 business class configuration, and 264 in economy.

The route is a new one for Emirates’ mainline passenger division, however its freight business Emirates SkyCargo has served the Mexican capital since 2014, carrying more than 22,500 tons (20,412 tonnes) within the last year alone. Emirates says key products such as avocados, berries, mangoes, automotive parts and medical supplies are among the most popular exports from Mexico. With the new 777 operation offering up to 14 tons (12.7 tonnes) on each flight, it is unclear if the passenger service will replace or enhance the company’s existing operation.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline said: “The availability of high-quality, daily international air services is essential for the development of tourism, business and cultural ties. Trade, especially in high-value and time-sensitive products, will be facilitated by the ample cargo capacity on Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft. We also expect tourism to receive a major boost from the daily flights on our newly-refurbished Boeing 777-200LR.”

(Jesus Aranguren/AP Images for Emirates Airline)

While the stopover in Barcelona is likely to reap some additional revenue for the carrier, the decision is primarily a technical one. Situated at an altitude of 2,238ft (682m) – almost twice the height of the summit of Ben Nevis – Mexico City’s Benito Juárez Airport can limit the range of departing aircraft. Sir Tim described the Spanish city as “a natural choice” for breaking up the journey, adding that connections between Barcelona and the Mexican capital had “long been neglected by other airlines and remains underserved despite strong customer demand”.

Emirates represents the 43rd carrier operating international flights to Mexico, which is currently enjoying increased popularity among leisure travellers.

Flight EK255 will depart Dubai at 0330hrs local time, arriving in Barcelona at 0800hrs before departing again at 0955hrs and arriving into Mexico City at 1615hrs the same day. The return flight, EK256 will depart the Mexican capital at 1940hrs, arriving in the Mediterranean hotspot at 1325hrs the following day. EK256 will depart once again at 1510hrs bound for the UAE where it will arrive at 0045hr the next day.

Performance Improvements for the A220 Family

Airbus has revealed performance improvements to its latest single-aisle aircraft – the A220 Family. Starting from the second half of 2020, the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW) is being increased by 5,000lb (2,268kg) to 2.3 tonnes. This will improve the aircraft’s range capabilities to 3,350nm (6,204km) for the A220-300 and 3,400nm (6,297km) for the A220-100, around 450nm (833km) more than is currently available.

This has been achieved by enhancing existing structural and systems margins as well as current fuel volume capacity. The increased range will allow customer airlines to tap into new routes that were not possible before, such as connecting key cities in Western Europe with the Middle East or from Southeast Asia to Australia.

Rob Dewar, head of engineering and customer support for the A220, commented: “Since its entry into service close to three years ago, the A220 has already proven that it is meeting or beating its initial performance targets, bringing more flexibility and revenue potential to customers. Today, Airbus is reinforcing its confidence in the A220 platform and further enhancing its capabilities to meet upcoming market requirements.”

Airbus says that, with an order book of more than 530 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100 to 150-seat market, estimated to represent 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.


Why Delta is Returning to Mumbai After Ten Years

A decade after dropping the route, Delta Air Lines is poised to restart nonstop service between New York/JFK and Mumbai/Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Atlanta-based carrier says a 2018 breakthrough in talks between the US, UAE and Qatari governments has helped to make the route sustainable.

A newly renovated Boeing 777-200LR will operate the new connection which is due to launch on December 22. The widebody features the carrier’s latest onboard product comprising Delta One suites, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort + and Main Cabin options.

Delta management has been particularly outspoken relating to allegations of unfair business practices by some Middle Eastern airlines. According to the carrier, “agreements between the US and governments of the UAE and Qatar to address Open Skies-violating government subsidies to state-owned carriers,” contributed to the decision. Once launched, it will mark the airline’s first nonstop flight from JFK to Mumbai since 2009, with Delta blaming “illegally subsidised Middle East carriers” for the route’s previous closure.

Delta Air Lines

Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer also cited the international agreements as a key factor: “This route would not be possible without the administration’s ongoing efforts to enforce fair competition in international travel, ensuring that consumers enjoy a wide range of choices as they travel the globe.”

Data from Delta suggests demand for flights between the US and India has “increased significantly” over the past decade, with New York representing the largest American market to India with the largest base of corporate customers.

Delta will compete with Air India, who has a well-established service linking Mumbai with the Big Apple.

The flight will operate year-round with the following schedule:

Departure Arrival
​JFK at 9.15pm ​BOM at 10.50pm (next day)
BOM at 12:50am JFK at 6.35am

First CRJ900s for Uganda Airlines

Uganda Airlines has received two new Bombardier CRJ900s. The delivery forms part of an order for four examples, placed by the Uganda National Airlines Company in July 2018. The new carrier has selected the regional jets fitted with the manufacturer’s Atmosphere cabin for its debut, making it the first operator in Africa to roll out the enhanced passenger offering.

The CRJ900 delivery ceremony – held at Bombardier’s Mirabel facility in Québec – was attended by executives of both Uganda Airlines and Bombardier Commercial Aircraft as well as several shop floor employees who build the jets.

Ephraim Bagenda, CEO of Uganda National Airlines said: “We are thrilled to commence our operations with the world’s leading regional jet, and we look forward to providing the most modern passenger experience in regional aviation to the people of Uganda and across Africa.”

The African carrier as opted for a dual-class configuration for the new examples, with 76 seats including 12 in first class.

Dignitaries from Uganda met with the Bombardier team in Mirabel. (Photo: Bombardier)

Fred Cromer, president, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft added: “We congratulate Uganda Airlines for taking delivery of their very first CRJ900 jetliner fitted with the Atmosphere cabin. The CRJ Series is recognised for its superior economics and efficiency and I am confident that it will be the stepping stone for the development of Uganda’s regional air travel.”

In a separate development, the airline has formalised its interest in two Airbus A330-800 examples. The Entebbe-based company is only the second customer for the smaller of the two A330neo variants, following Kuwait Airways’ order for eight in November. The neos are expected to establish a medium- and long-haul network, with destinations to Europe and the Middle East understood to be under consideration.

Middle East Milestone for A321LR

Air Arabia as received its first Airbus A321LR. The example, registered A6-ATA (c/n 8714), made its first flight on April 2, and has since been flown non-stop from the manufacturer’s Hamburg Finkenwerder plant to the airline’s Sharjah base.

The carrier is the first in the Middle Eastern to operate the type, with a further five examples due to follow in the coming months. Air Arabia currently serves more than 155 routes from hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt using a fleet of 53 A320 family aircraft.

The new jet is configured with 215 seats and has been financed through an arrangement with Air Lease Corporation.

Adel Al Ali, group chief executive officer of Air Arabia, said: “The addition of this new aircraft allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model.”

Qatar Airways Responds to Air Italy Critics

Qatar Airways has published a strong defence of its shareholding arrangement in Air Italy. It follows scrutiny within a Senate hearing in April during which Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State said he was “looking very closely” at the arrangement following allegations it violates an agreement reached between the US and Qatar Airways in 2018. In a statement issued to media on April 11, the Doha-based carrier said, “such baseless statements and consistent inaccuracies need addressing as a matter of urgency.”

Qatar Airways currently holds a 49% stake in AQA, Air Italy’s parent company. Within the lengthy rebuttal, the Middle Eastern airline framed its argument by drawing parallels with Delta’s part-ownership in Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico, and Etihad’s shareholding in Alitalia.

 (Photo Qatar Airways)

“Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy, and operations to the United States, are fully compliant with the US-Qatar Open Skies Agreement, the January 2018 US-Qatar Understandings, and a side letter that accompanied the discussions. Unfounded claims that Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy violates the Understandings are entirely false,” said the company.

In 2017, the airline bought a stake in Italian carrier Meridiana, which was subsequently rebranded as Air Italy ahead of a series of direct flights from Milan to the US. Notably, Qatar Airways does not codeshare on any of Air Italy’s flights to the US, “and has no plans to do so” according to the airline.

“The ‘Big 3’ US carriers have consistently demonstrated their hostility to new entrants into the US-Europe market, and their attacks on Air Italy based on the identity of its minority shareholder are just another manifestation of this hostility,” concluded the statement.

Airliner World – May 2019 Highlights

Hello and welcome to your preview of our May 2019 edition, on sale NOW! We’ve travelled the world to bring you behind the scenes access, exclusive previews, interviews with key players and expert analysis. Here are some of the highlights from the May issue:

After taking delivery of its maiden example last year, easyJet is consolidating its new A321neo fleet in preparation for the peak 2019 season. In the first of an exclusive two-part article, Airliner World chronicles the new aircraft’s entry into service by going behind the scenes and talking to key players involved in the ambitious project.

AirTeamImages.com/Dirk Grothe

As far as jumbo jobs go, our next story lives up to the name. For many of these outgoing jumbos, the end is rather undignified – withdrawn from service, stripped of usable spares and then left to gather dust in a desert boneyard or, worse still, they succumb to the scrap man’s axe. But for one former KLM Royal Dutch Airlines example, a very different future lies in wait…


Spanning 11 time zones and stretching 5,600 miles (9,000km) from the Black Sea in the west to the Bering in the east, Russia is vast. The nation also incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms, from deserts to semiarid steppes to deep forests and Arctic tundra. Such diversity holds great appeal for the avid traveller, while for the aviation enthusiast the country remains a veritable treasure trove of rare and classic aircraft. Join us as we experience the ultimate Russian aviation tour and traversing Siberia in the pursuit of rare Soviet-era aircraft.

Daniel Johnston

It’s easy to take for granted the professional cabin crews who ensure the smooth-running of a commercial flight, but high levels of dedicated training and strict assessment are vital before they earn their ‘wings’. We spent the day with cabin crew trainer David Gott and his new class of 18 recruits to get the low-down at Virgin Atlantic.

Tony Mallett

Air Inuit is one of several remarkable airlines plying their trade in northern Canada. The Inuit-owned carrier began operations with a single de Havilland Beaver in 1978 and today, more than 40 years later, the company has grown into a significant regional player. Our author fulfills a lifelong dream of travelling to Canada to experience Air Inuit’s famous ‘milk run’ routes that connect communities in the extreme north of Québec.

Sebastian Schmitz

The prolonged disruption caused by low, small and slow unmanned air systems (UASs) at Gatwick Airport between the night of December 19 and the morning of December 21 completely changed the way many viewed drones. No longer considered harmless toys, they have quickly become a menace known for bringing one of the world’s busiest single runway airports to a complete standstill. Airliner World considers the threat posed by small, unmanned air systems to commercial aviation.

Gatwick Airport

For decades, the Gulf region has been enormously important within the global commercial aviation scene. And while the so-called ‘Middle East Big Three’ – Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways – continue to dominate, a second wave of carriers, including Kuwait Airways, are investing heavily and growing rapidly.

Kuwait Airways

Finally, we bring you our comprehensive coverage of worldwide news, including a full report on this year’s ITB Berlin and a photospread from the biennial Australian International Airshow in Avalon, plus the latest on the global Boeing 737 MAX grounding, details of major orders from the Lufthansa Group and Virgin Atlantic heads to Brazil. We also have all our regular sections covering the latest commercial aircraft acquisitions, up-to-date accident reports and developments from the world of aviation training and MROs.

Emirates to go Double-Daily from Stansted

Emirates has announced it is introducing a second daily service from Dubai to London/Stansted. The new rotation is due to begin on July 1, and will bring the total number of daily Emirates flights serving London to 11.

In line with the existing Stansted service, the second daily flight to the Essex airport will also be operated by Emirates’  Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in a three-class configuration with six private suites in first class, 42 fully-flat beds in business class and 306 seats in economy.

Credit: Emirates

“We are increasing capacity to London Stansted to meet steady demand from both leisure and business travellers to and from the region, as well as international student traffic to Cambridge,” commented Hubert Frach, Emirates divisional senior vice president, commercial operations west. “We continuously seek ways to maximise convenience and flexibility for our customers and the second daily flight combined with the optimal travel schedules will do exactly that; provide a seamless travel experience with Emirates,” he added.

As of July 1, the first daily flight from Dubai to Stansted will operate as EK65, departing Dubai at 0900hrs and arriving in London at 1330hrs. The return flight, EK66 will depart Stansted at 1500hrs and arrive in the UAE hub at 0105hrs the following day. The second daily flight will operate as EK67, departing the Middle East at 1415hrs and arriving in Stansted at 1845hrs. The return flight, EK68 will depart at 2110hrs and arrive at 0710hrs the following day.

The additional rotation will also double the daily cargo capacity offered by Emirates’ SkyCargo division to a total of 40 tonnes each way.

Ken O’ Toole, CEO of London Stansted (Credit: Stansted Airport)

“The announcement that Emirates is to double the capacity on its Dubai service is fantastic news for passengers and is a vote of confidence in both London Stansted Airport and the East of England,” said Ken O’ Toole, CEO of London Stansted. “Since day one this route has been extremely popular with passengers flying direct to Dubai but also taking advantage of the 150 onward connections available from the hub and today’s announcement is further evidence of the rising demand that exists for more long-haul services from Stansted,” the chief executive added.

The move marks the latest investment in the UK by Emirates, following on from inaugural flights to Stansted and Edinburgh in 2018. With this second daily flight, the airline will fly 140 weekly flights to and from the UK: six services a day from Heathrow, three daily from Gatwick and Manchester, two daily from Birmingham, Glasgow and London Stansted, and a daily service from Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Virgin Atlantic Reveals New Middle East Route

British carrier Virgin Atlantic has announced it will launch flights from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv/Ben Gurion from this autumn. The first scheduled service is due to take place on September 25, and will mark the start of a new daily operation between the two cities.

Virgin have rostered their Airbus A330-300 for the five-hour journey, which will offer 33 Upper Class lie-flat beds, 48 seats in premium economy and 185 in economy.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO commented: “2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to achieve our ambition to become the most loved travel company. Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming and as one of the world’s leading tech hubs we’re anticipating many business travellers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK”

Weiss also indicated that Virgin Atlantic sees the new route as “a significant opportunity” to increase competition in the US – Tel Aviv market, leveraging the firm’s joint venture arrangements with Delta Air Lines to provide feeder traffic.

The news marks a rapid re-entry to the Middle East for Virgin Atlantic after the company announced it was pulling its Heathrow to Dubai route from March 31 this year “due to a combination of external factors”.

Virgin Atlantic will welcome the first four of 12 Airbus A350-1000s to its fleet in 2019. The airline promises “a totally redesigned onboard experience for customers” with the aircraft also helping “transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky”.

The carrier is also set to become a founding member of a new US$13bn transatlantic joint venture with over 300 daily transatlantic flights and 96 non-stop destinations, alongside Delta, Air France and KLM as well as launching new services from Heathrow to Las Vegas/McCarran and Manchester to Los Angeles.

Tickets for the new Tel Aviv service go on sale from February 25.

Germania Files for Bankruptcy

Berlin-based leisure carrier Germania has become the first major casualty of 2019. In a fresh blow to the German aviation sector, the airline filed for bankruptcy on February 4, cancelling all scheduled services with immediate effect.

Management at the firm have cited currency fluctuations, “massive increases” to fuel prices and “considerable delays” in phasing aircraft into the fleet among the key reasons for the carrier’s failure. The insolvency follows the failure of Air Berlin in 2017 which at the time was the country’s second-largest carrier.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ken Fielding)

In a statement, Karsten Balke, Germania CEO commented: “Unfortunately, we were ultimately unable to bring our financing efforts to cover a short-term liquidity need to a positive conclusion. We very much regret that consequently, our only option was to file for insolvency.”

Blake paid tribute to the company’s staff and emphasised the exhaustive efforts undertaken the workforce, adding: “It is of course the impact that this step will have on our employees that we regret the most. All of them as a team always did their best to secure reliable and stable flight operations – even in the stressful weeks behind us. I would like to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.”

At the time of its collapse, Germania operated a narrowbody fleet of 37 aircraft including Airbus A319 and A321 examples, in addition to Boeing 737-700s. Its core operations included holiday flights to destinations across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

A Germania spokesperson added that Swiss subsidiary Germania Flug AG and Bulgarian Eagle are unaffected by the move.