ightglobal.com 26 June-2 July 2018 | Flight International | 15
Life less grand for
News Focus P
First of 10 long-range narrowbodies will start arriving in spring 2019
Airbus is planning to raise single-aisle output to 60 aircraft per month
xecutives from Air Transat say
the company’s rapid Europe-
an summer expansion is part of a
long-term strategy to remain com-
petitive in transatlantic markets.
The airline will add 15% more
seats into Europe this summer –
and do so with widebody aircraft
that executives concede are not
ideal for the job.
But starting next year, Transat
will begin defending its newly-
acquired turf with an expanding
fleet of Airbus A321LRs.
“Our first goal [is] to increase
frequencies so that we are able to
protect our market share,” said
Annick Guerard, chief operating
officer of Air Transat parent
Transat AT, on a 14 June earnings
call. “We need to take our place
in those markets that we see are
STRATEGY JON HEMMERDINGER BOSTON
Air Transat building transatlantic base
Canadian carrier expands operations to Europe – initially with older twinjets – as means of staving off looming competition
The 15% capacity gains will be
carried on existing routes by
A310s and A330s.
“Do we have the exact right
aircraft to operate these routes?
The answer is no,” Guerard says.
“We preferred to have smaller
models like the A321 long-range,
which is coming up in our fleet.”
The first of those aircraft –
Transat has orders for 10 – will
arrive in spring 2019 and will be
used to replace its A310s on
Guerard says Air Transat wants
to gain more share on routes to
Portugal and French destinations
besides Paris, as well as the UK.
“It needs to be done this year, as
we see competition growing. If we
don’t do it, others will,” she says.
She does not name competi-
tors, but next year WestJet will
start acquiring the first of 10 Boe-
ing 787-9s, an aircraft that the air-
line has indicated it will likely
deploy to Europe.
That expansion is partly why
Transat’s summer transatlantic
fares are down 1% year-on-year,
says chief executive Jean-Marc
Eustache. At the same time, high-
er fuel costs and unfavourable
exchange rates will raise its sum-
mer expenses by 7.2%. ■
irbus has formally inaugu-
rated the new A320neo-fam-
ily assembly line at its Finken-
werder plant outside Hamburg,
as part of its efforts to raise
monthly single-aisle production
to 60 aircraft.
The new line renovates an area
which had originally been set
aside for A380 production.
Airbus had disclosed two
years ago that it would convert
MANUFACTURING DAVID KAMINSKI-MORROW LONDON
Neo line to boost A320 production
the Hamburg facility, originally
conceived as an A380 outfitting
area, to enable the Finkenwerder
plant to contribute to higher sin-
The airframer is aiming to raise
A320-family production to 60 air-
craft per month from mid-2019.
Slow sales of the A380, and the
consequent reduction in assem-
bly rates for the double-deck
type, mean that Airbus has not
needed to use the Hamburg hang-
ar for completion work.
It has chosen to use the infra-
structure to support the ramp-up
of A320neo production.
New Airbus commercial air-
craft president Guillaume Faury
says the line will take advantage
of digital technology and a “more
flexible” industrial set-up.
“Inauguration of our latest,
most modern A320 production
line opens a new chapter in effi-
cient, digital aircraft manufactur-
ing,” he says.
“With these new technologies
we are building our aircraft more
efficiently, a key enabler for high-
er production rates.”
Airbus has been exploring the
possibility of hiking monthly
production rates further, to more
than 70 aircraft.
It had a backlog of 6,077 single-
aisle aircraft at the end of May:
close to 11 years of production if
Airbus maintained last year’s out-
put of 558 narrowbodies. ■
EU lifts blanket
ban on airlines
ll Indonesian carriers have
been removed from the Eu-
ropean Commission’s airline
blacklist, more than a decade
after a blanket ban on the Asian
Indonesian airlines were
placed on the blacklist under the
whole-country ban in 2007.
Over the subsequent 11 years
just seven Indonesian operators –
among them Garuda Indonesia,
its regional operation Citilink,
and Lion Air – have been re-
moved from the list.
But the Commission has newly
revised its blacklist to lift the
blanket ban, stating that all air-
lines certificated in Indonesia
It says that this decision has
followed improvements to the
aviation safety situation in the