Friday, October 31, 2014

69 News gets up-close look at abandoned hangar where Frein was caught: Old airstrip at former resort

POCONO TWP., Pa. - On Friday, investigators returned to the airpark where Frein was caught Thursday night.

We're told the resort around it was known as a honeymoon spot until the late '90's.

Now it'll have a much different reputation, going forward.

Both entrances of Birchwood Road were closed for much of the day.

The only people going around the barricades, dozens of cars filled with state troopers have been going in and out of the search area.

State troopers passing through barricades and helicopters in the air were the only thing many behind the roadblock had seen.

The 48 day search for Eric Frein ended at this old resort property, known as the Birchwood Resort.

"It was a nice place," said a homeowner in the area, Moe Zamani.

"I was surprised they catch him over there."

The 290 acre property is currently for sale.

There are numerous buildings and an airport hangar.

Jack Muehlan flew passengers here in the 70's.

"It was an active airport," added Muehlan.

"I flew in and out, there were glider rides and everything else."

US marshals caught up with Eric Frein just outside of the airport hangar.

They gave commands and the alleged cop killer that was on the run for 48 days was captured.

This is a look at the inside of the hangar after police opened the road and left the search area.

Some living around the area say generally Birchwood Road is used to shave a few minutes off the commute, or they've seen people hiking at the old resort.

Now they want to hear more about the last moments of Frein's time on the run.

"I'm glad it's over it was just disrupting life in the Poconos." said Muehlan.

"I don't believe it," added Zamani.   "I was shocked when I heard they caught him over here."

Our partner station, WPVI, is reporting that the gun suspected of being used in the ambush last month.... was found inside the hangar.

WPVI also says a journal was found, but its contents have not been disclosed.

Read more from at:

POCONO TOWNSHIP — The old Birchwood Resort where Frein was captured Thursday night is near Tannersville, and while there was an airport at that old resort, the arrest caused some confusion at a different airport near Mount Pocono in Monroe County. 

 There’s been so much buzz about that airport hangar right around where U.S. Marshals found Eric Frein, but the word airport caused some confusion. Instead of going to the old hangar at the Birchwood resort near Tannersville, some police officers rushed to the Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport near Mount Pocono.

Aerial video taken with the help of Hi Tech Helicopters shows the actual airport hangar near Tannersville where Frein actually was found. This hangar is located at the former Birchwood resort.

New images Friday morning show police activity as investigators continued to collect evidence to make sure they didn’t miss anything last night.

Because of the confusion over airports, a number of officers ended up at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport by accident Thursday night. One pilot we talked with said he was just finishing his workday when things got a little chaotic.

“No guns drawn thankfully. We were worried like maybe but we didn’t know what was going on. They wanted to get into hangars and stuff and we said there was nothing going on here,” said Brett Kita, pilot with Moyer Aviation at Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport.

Staff at the Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport say they were surprised when all the cops showed up because they were already law enforcement people there who have been using the airport’s facilities during the seven-week search.

The staff got a lot of calls from national media but as we reported, Frein was actually captured near the old airport hangar at the Birchwood resort about 10 miles away.

Frein was brought before a judge Friday morning to be formally charged with murder.

Olympic National Forest taking more time with Navy electronic warfare training plan

The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that is slowing down a Navy proposal to enhance jet training above the Olympic National Forest.

For the second time, the Forest Service is extending a public comment period on the Navy’s request to use forestland for electronic warfare training that would benefit a growing fleet of EA-18 Growler jets based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. 

The Navy wants to use up to 15 sites in the forest as temporary stations for three trucks equipped with electronic communications gear. The jets would be challenged to find electronic signals emitted by the trucks as practice for the surveillance and radar-busting assignments handed to Growler jets in war zones.

Hundreds of people have already commented on the proposal, with many expressing concerns about how the training would impact wildlife or the atmosphere of the forest. Opponents protested outside of the Forest Service headquarters in Olympia on Oct. 24.

“I’ve decided to extend the current public comment period to ensure the public has plenty of time to share their thoughts,” said Forest Service Pacific District Ranger Dean Millett in a news release. The new deadline is Nov. 28.

The Navy on Nov. 6 is scheduled to a hold a public meeting on the proposal in Port Angeles. It is to take place at 6 p.m. at the City Council chambers, 321 E. Fifth St.
Training could take place up to 260 days a year, but the Navy says the trucks would be rotated among the 15 locations.

The noise generated by the jets should not be noticeably different from the sounds of Navy training that already occurs above the Olympic National Forest, Navy officials told The News Tribune.

The Navy has said it will take steps to protect forest users, such as posting signs and shutting down training if people move into an exercise area.

The Navy has 84 Growler jets stationed on Whidbey Island. It wants to use the Olympic Peninsula for electronic warfare training area as an alternative to a location 400 nautical miles away in Idaho.

Read more here:

How to comment

The U.S. Forest Service is gathering public comments on a Navy plan to expand training for electronic warfare jets in the Olympic National Forest until Nov. 28.

To read about the project and to comment, go to:

Read more here:

India’s aviation downgrade by US Federal Aviation Administration set to be revoked soon

In what could be seen as the first positive impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States on the Indian aviation sector, India’s embarrassing downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year could be revoked, with the FAA team slated to carry out another inspection on December 8 this year.

This also comes in the backdrop of a three-member team visiting Brussels in the first week of November for a meeting with officials of the EU Air Safety Committee to discuss measures taken by the Indian aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to improve its performance after the FAA downgrade.

Finding regulatory oversight to be inadequate, the FAA had downgraded India from Category 1 to Category 2 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program on January 31 earlier this year. The move has barred Air India and Jet Airways — the only two Indian airlines that operate to the US — from expanding their operations in the US and impacted codeshare arrangements with their American counterparts.

The DGCA needed to recruit 20 officials – chief flight operations inspectors (CFOI) — to deal with the staff shortage pertaining to Air India and Jet Airways. To improve it’s overall safety record, however, it needed to recruit 75 CFOIs.

“We have already recruited 56 new inspectors, of which 39 have already joined work, and the rest will join by next week. Applications are under process for rest of the 16 positions; and all 75 positions would be filled by November 16,” a senior DGCA official told The Indian Express.

While operations by Indian air carriers to and from EU are closely monitored through their Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft program (SAFA), the FAA’s downgrade essentially meant that the DGCA was below par in meeting standards in technical expertise, trained manpower and maintenance records of air safety. It did not have skilled technical staff in the organization.

“The FAA downgrade has a cascading effect, and the EU had raised concerns over the downgrade and the measures taken by the DGCA to better its performance. A DGCA team headed by Joint Director General Lalit Gupta will visit Brussels in the first week of November for a meeting with officials of the EU Air Safety Committee to discuss the measures taken,” an official said.

A Category 2 rating by the FAA has made India one of the 16 countries out of a total of 88 that have been assessed under IASA; the 16 include Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nicaragua.

- Source:

Lake County, city leaders mark Lost Nation Municipal Airport (KLNN) transfer

After an eight-year layover, Lake County and its’s economic development agency have ceremonially taken over the Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby.

Members of the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority, Willoughby and Mentor city officials and Lake County leaders gathered for a ribbon cutting Oct. 31 to commemorate the transfer at the Classic Jet Center at the airport.

“I think this is an exciting day,” said Mark Rantala, executive director of the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority. “We are going to try to operate it as an effective business attraction tool for Lake County and support the business of Lake County who surround the airport and benefit from air service at their front door.”

The transfer was official Oct. 8 and moved the ownership from the city of Willoughby to Lake County and the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority, a transaction that took eight years and was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The optimal course of action was for the authority to take over the airport from the city of Willoughby with the county as our cosponsor, and we would manage it as a self-supporting entity,” said Harry Allen, chairman of the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority Board. “That is our goal and job at hand, and it is a big one but we are excited.”

The airport currently has 115 employees, and Allen said he hopes to add another 100 jobs in two years.

“I think that is a realistic goal,” he said. “At the same time, we have taken out all of the doubt for those people who are current lease holders, and there are many, who didn’t know what the future would be, so that solidifies their planning and enable them to consider new investment in their existing facilities and possibly new facilities.”

All three Lake County Commissioners were at the event to show support for the transfer.

“I’m a firm believer that government doesn’t create jobs, but I think government’s role is to make sure the proper infrastructure, property amenities and proper services are in place that will make business take off ... and I think that is what we have done here,” Commissioner Daniel Troy said at the event. “We didn’t really have any interest in getting into the airport business as a county, but there were a lot of people that felt this was a very important part of our economic infrastructure to maintain the presence of an airport in Lake County.”

He said the transfer will encourage investment in the property and the property surrounding the airport.

“I think by doing this today, we have made Lake County a little bit better,” Troy said. “This is a great day for Lake County because it will improve our economy and I think that is what we are all doing in partnership here.”

Willoughby Mayor David Anderson said at the event that it was a “surreal moment” for him.

“I don’t feel like I am withdrawing Willoughby from the airport,” he said. “We know Willoughby is going to be a big part of the future as is the city of Mentor, and we are going to be true partners here, Willoughby, Mentor and Lake County, in making this the very best airport it can be.”

- Source:

Missing hunter found after helicopter search uses infrared imaging

PHELPS COUNTY, Mo. — A 54-year-old hunter who went missing on U.S. Forest land last week was found, injured, after a Missouri Highway Patrol helicopter used infrared imaging in a nighttime search.

According to the MSHP, on Friday, Oct. 24 at around 9:45 p.m., the patrol was requested by the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department to assist in the search for the missing hunter.

A trooper called for an MSHP helicopter equipped with a Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) thermal imaging device. The aircraft arrived just after midnight, and the MSHP reported the FLIR unit and pilots found the man within 10 minutes by spotting his disposable lighter through the infrared imaging. Troopers manning the helicopter then guided searching officers to the hunter’s location, where they discovered he had injured his ankle. He was extracted and taken to treatment.

According to the MSHP website, the patrol's aircraft fleet currently consists of four helicopters, eight single-engine Cessna, and two Beechcraft King Air.

- Source:

Why airport manager was fired: Coeur d'Alene (KCOE), Idaho

MIKE SATREN/Guest Opinion 

"Hell Bent For Election" describes many politicians as election day looms, but city planners could likewise be described as Hell Bent for Tax Revenues as they rush to approve growth projects and developers as Hell Bent for Profits as they push for zoning changes to build their developments as densely as allowed. That arm-in-arm relationship is considered a win-win for city planners and for developers in cahoots, but each with his own self-interest in mind.

What that means for many airports located close to municipalities is encroachment of construction too dense for safety, if city planners and developers get their way. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) convened a task force years ago armed with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data of airplane crashes in the vicinity of airports. Using density of crash data as a guide, six impact zones were identified, scaled to the type of airport, length of runway, etc., to protect pilots, passengers and those on the ground from undue harm should an aircraft have problems and need to land, now. A number of states have incorporated these zones into airport land-use planning handbooks.

Then Coeur d'Alene Airport Manager Greg Delavan called to inform me about a Kootenai Area Planning Reconciliation Workshop for Elected Officials at the Kroc Center (which was held on Sept. 3) regarding the CdA Airport Master Plan, which incorporates the above-described six impact zones and the City of Hayden's frustrated plans to expand. In attendance were City of Hayden Community and Economic Development Director Connie Krueger, the three Kootenai County commissioners, plus representatives from the cities of Hayden, Coeur d'Alene, Rathdrum, the Lakes Highway District, and in the audience, Delavan,  Airport Advisory Board Chair John Adams and KMPO Executive Director Glenn Miles. The forum was facilitated by an independent contractor, Marsha Bracke.

According to Krueger, who gave the main presentation, the City of Hayden's plans to expand are being hamstrung by the airport's plans for future expansion and by the six impact zones which were incorporated in the most recent iteration of the Airport Master Plan to safeguard specific approach segments of land for safety reasons. She particularly blamed the six impact zones for the bottleneck of development approvals that were frustrating her plans. She admitted getting emotional when she talked about the six impact zones.

KMPO's Miles then got up and gave a similar rant against those safety zones.

When I went to the bathroom during intermission, the talk was all about the evils of the six impact zones and the harm that was being done because of the holdup in plans caused by them.

By the time Delavan got up to field questions, the mood of the place was hostile, all feeling the pain of poor Hayden and its hurdles to growth.

Except for Delavan, Adams and myself, I knew of no other pilots in the room, yet all these non-pilots seemed to be similarly emotional about the restrictions to their beloved development. As the sole survivor of a fatal airplane accident, I get emotional about greedy city planners and developers who put pilots, passengers and others on the ground at needless risk.

Back in 2008, I was on the board of the Coeur d'Alene Airport Association when the board and I took it upon ourselves to participate in the hearings being held by the Kootenai County Planning and Zoning Commission, which was compiling information for its new Kootenai County Comprehensive Plan. Immediately I noticed that the Coeur d'Alene Airport was not even mentioned in the Transportation Section, which seemed to have been largely written by KMPO.

So, referencing Spokane County's Comprehensive Plan, I built an airport model for Kootenai County's Transportation Section appropriate for Kootenai County's lone airport and included the FAA's six impact zones, which I drew by hand and to scale on a map of Coeur d'Alene Airport.

After the Kootenai Comp Plan was finalized, Delavan, along with the Coeur d'Alene Airport Advisory Board, incorporated these six impact zones into the new Coeur d'Alene Airport Master Plan.

Many people do not know that some national developers (not necessarily those in Kootenai County) make it part of their business plan to buy cheap land around airports, lobby for city planners to change the zoning by promising tax revenues, build dense housing, sell it off quickly before the buyers realize they are under the approach or takeoff zones, then move on to greener pastures.

The airport, its users and the people of the region who realize benefits from the airport (without realizing it) take the hit when complaints from these new upset home owners start rolling in. Timid politicians then try to placate these homeowners by putting restrictions on the use of the airport, noise abatements, closing the airport to takeoffs and landings between certain hours, and restricting future growth of the airport that would benefit the community as a whole.

When the FAA congealed these six impact zones, it based its findings on statistical data populated with dots showing crash locations relative to each runway. In the interests of reality, rarely are crashes of aircraft truly represented by dots where the aircraft actually spins straight in; rather they are longish dashes representing an aircraft trying to bleed off speed and energy in a more horizontal direction. In these cases building density matters.

Greg Delavan was attempting to put in place a future for Coeur d'Alene Airport/Pappy Boyington Field in as safe a manner as possible and in my opinion, because it became an impediment to tax revenues and developer profits, he was fired.

Story and Comments:

British Airways’ Parent Lifts Guidance: International Consolidated Airlines Group Boosted by Turnaround at Its Iberia Unit

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
Updated Oct. 31, 2014 6:00 a.m. ET

LONDON—British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA on Friday raised its full-year earnings guidance as a turnaround at Spanish unit Iberia spurred a 30% rise in third-quarter operating profit.

The company said it expects operating profit to rise by between €550 million ($878 million) and €600 million this year, having previously projected a €500 million rise from last year’s €770 million.

Operating profit in the third quarter was €900 million, up from €690 million a year earlier. Net profit rose 3.1% to €598 million on an 8.5% rise in sales to €5.87 billion.

Shares rose more than 3% in early London trading.

IAG’s results contrast with those of rivals Air France-KLM SA, Europe’s largest carrier by traffic, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. Both warned of overcapacity this week, and Lufthansa on Thursday cut its profit forecast for next year.

“We are in a completely different position,” IAG Chief Executive Willie told reporters Friday. “We addressed challenges that they are facing up to much earlier than they did.”

Air France-KLM and Lufthansa both have faced labor unrest amid efforts to cut costs. IAG faced similar disruptions last year as it tried to stem losses at Spanish unit Iberia. The airline reached an agreement with labor groups for deep structural changes, including more than 3,000 job cuts.

Iberia’s operating profit more than doubled in the third quarter to €162 million, while British Airways delivered an operating profit of €607 million, 27% higher than last year’s level. Barcelona-based discount unit Vueling’s operating profit was little changed at €140 million.

IAG is benefiting from strong economic growth in the U.S.—crucial to its trans-Atlantic routes—and in the U.K. Mr. Walsh said that, following its cost cuts, the company is “growing into areas where others are retreating because they are unable to compete effectively.”

“We see these results as further evidence of IAG’s superior financial performance and earnings momentum compared with its network carrier peers,” Liberum analyst Gerald Khoo said.

Mr. Walsh said he was “confident” the company will meet its operating profit target of €1.8 billion next year. Analysts widely expect IAG to beat that figure amid lower fuel prices and cost cuts, and even lift the goal at a capital markets day next week. Mr. Walsh said the airline would also provide an update then on its dividend plans.

IAG is modernizing its fleet to replace gas-guzzling planes with more fuel-efficient ones. British Airways last year introduced Airbus Group NV A380 superjumbo and Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner long-range jets.

The company had held off on buying new planes for Iberia until restructuring measures were showing success. IAG last month ordered eight Airbus A330-200 long-range jets for Iberia for delivery from next year, alongside a deal for eight A350-900 jets to replace less efficient four-engine A340 planes.

“We continued to grow capacity efficiently and both our non-fuel and fuel unit cost performances were strong with the latter boosted by the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft into our flee,” Mr. Walsh said. Still, the carrier has trimmed its fourth-quarter growth plans to around 6% capacity growth from about 7.5%, he said.

 - Source:

Cyprus Airways locked in crucial Friday talks

Efforts to secure the future of struggling national air carrier Cyprus Airways (CA) got underway on Friday as talks begin with potential suitors amidst protests from airline employees.

On Friday morning, the CA technical committee – which is tasked with negotiating with potential investors the future of the ailing airline – met with officials of Ryanair who have reportedly expressed an interest in purchasing the CA name and emblem.

A similar meeting will take place later on Friday with officials of Aegean Airlines while representatives of the Greek airline also approached the Cyprus Civil Aviation Authority to request an air operator's certificate (AOC).

While talks were ongoing, union-backed employees of CA held a protest outside the KPMG offices in Nicosia – where the first meeting talk place with Ryanair – over what they feel is the government’s decision to turn their back on them.

CA unions were recently informed by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades that the state would not longer throw money at the airline but instead focus all its efforts on finding potential investors or buyers.

In statements at the Finance Ministry, Georgiades said the government has not initiated the company’s forced sale but was looking for investors.

A European Commission decision as regards an investigation into state aid expected in the next few months, will be decisive for the airline’s future, said the Minister.

“Even in the case of a negative outcome, the government’s priority is not to leave any of the employees without cover”.

Georgiades went on to say that the company has received €130 million from the state over the period 2007 to 2014. He added that company loans, guaranteed by the state, were worth €78m in 2007, while company assets sold from 2010 to 2014 were worth €111m.

The minister also hit out at opposition parties who have accused the government of forcing closure on the stuttering airline arguing that it was the previous administration that hid its head in the sand instead of dealing with the matter promptly.

- See more at:

Tampa International Airport (KTPA) hits record high revenue number

Historic load factors of almost 90 percent this summer combined with a massive increase in international travel helped propel Tampa International Airport to spikes in passenger numbers and revenues over last year.

In July and August, load factors were 87.9 percent and 86.2 percent respectively and were the highest in the airport's history for those months. International seat capacity grew 20 percent when Edelweiss Air added a second weekly service and Copa Airlines began service to Panama.

The airport handled about 600,000 international passengers in fiscal year 2014, up about 13.7 percent from last year.

"This unprecedented growth is a testament to what we can accomplish in the Tampa Bay market when we work together to make it happen," airport CEO Joe Lopano said in a prepared statement.

In other news from international carriers, Air Canada and WestJet both had big years in Tampa with 9.8 percent and 6 percent growth respectively.

The airport also cited added frequency by Delta Air Lines to Atlanta and Los Angeles as reasons for the numbers going up.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority had record revenue of $197.2 million in FY 2014, about $13 million more than last year. Airport officials point to increases across revenue generators like parking and ground transportation, food and beverage, and car rental.

The authority will add about $8.1 million to the cash reserves for future capital projects or to pay down debt, according to a statement.

The airport is expected to pass the $200 million in revenue next fiscal year.

- Source:

Aviation chief: Chicago O'Hare International (KORD) noise problems won't go away

Aldermen pressing for a firm commitment from the city to reduce noise from jets at O'Hare International Airport were told Friday by the outgoing aviation commissioner that "airplanes do create noise."

Regarding the record number of O'Hare noise complaints received from Chicago and suburban residents over the past year, Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said: "I can't say that information (on noise complaints) is going to change the result of anything. I can't say to you that we are going to stop flying."

During hearing on the Department of Aviation's 2015 budget, Andolino, who is set to leave her post soon, offered no promises of noise abatement. Instead she stressed the economic importance to the region of the almost $10 billion O'Hare expansion project, and she pointed out that airplane noise is a national issue.

Flight patterns at O'Hare shifted to mostly easterly and westerly flows in October 2013 when a second new runway opened. The change redirected jet noise, hitting communities east and west of the airport with more noise while generally reducing the impact north and south of the airfield.

Andolino rejected a proposal from Ald. Margaret Laurino, 39th, that the city keep O'Hare's four diagonal runways open to help spread out the noise from takeoffs and landings.

"The process doesn't allow for that," Andolino said, referring to a state law that limits O'Hare to eight total runways.

Under the O'Hare Modernization Program, two diagonals will remain and they will be used sparingly, primarily when strong crosswinds make the planned six east-west runways unusable, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Andolino said the city has asked the FAA to expedite a national review of a rule that determines homeowners' eligibility for government-funded residential soundproofing based on 24-hour jet noise averages.

The FAA study, which could lead to a lower noise threshold being established, is expected to take several more years.

The FAA's NextGen air-traffic modernization program is aimed primarily at improving safety and increasing capacity for more flights, Andolino said, but NextGen will also help reduce noise.

"Technology is our friend," she told aldermen.

Amid the noise-related questions, the overall tone of the hearing was mostly a love fest praising Andolino, who has been aviation commissioner since 2009 and was director of O'Hare expansion starting in 2003.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said earlier that Andolino would step down in October, but she has remained on the job and hasn't indicated when her last day would be.

Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to lead a nationwide search for Andolino's replacement.

At Friday's hearing, Ald. Mary O'Connor, 41st, renewed her call for City Council hearings on the noise impact of O'Hare's expansion. O'Connor and Laurino first requested the hearings almost a year ago.

"The parallel runways have greatly diminished the quality of life on the Far Northwest Side," O'Connor said. "This is the new reality."

Andolino told aldermen that "unfortunately, we don't always have the answers that some community groups would like to see."

- Source:

Airlines try to boost fares

October has been the busiest month this year for attempted airfare hikes among major airlines, despite Ebola fears and low jet fuel prices.

The latest attempt, by American Airlines-US Airways, was relatively small — up to $4 per round trip — but it covered the bulk of American's route system, according to Rick Seaney of

Within days, the fare hike had failed when too few of its competitors followed and the newly merged airline rolled back its prices, Seaney reported.

In the hypercompetitive airline business, fares typically increase when one carrier raises prices and others follow. If competitors don't follow, the initiator usually drops back its fares.

The attempt was the 21st this year and the fourth in October alone. Five have succeeded this year.

Seaney noted that fare-hike attempts suggest that Ebola fears are not hurting demand for flights, and airline executives last week said as much during their quarterly earnings conference calls.

It also means savings from lower jet fuel prices, which boosted airline profits, are not being passed along to consumers, he said.

Other fare-hike attempts included a $10 increase per round trip on Oct. 9 initiated by JetBlue Airways. It was matched by other major airlines but then rolled back, with only JetBlue sticking with the increase. After another attempt Oct. 14 by United Airlines and Air Canada ended in failure, a Delta Air Lines hike of $4 on Oct. 16 succeeded, according to FareCompare.

The average domestic airfare is $396, up 2.5 percent after inflation compared with last year, according to second-quarter data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 14.7 percent compared with a 56.3 percent increase in overall consumer prices, the Transportation Department said.

- Source:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Drunk' Flybe pilot removed from plane and arrested moments before take-off, after concerned crew member called police

A pilot was removed from an airplane and arrested on suspicion of drink-driving, just moments before the he was scheduled to take off.

The aircraft was due to fly from Newquay Airport to London Gatwick yesterday morning, but was cancelled causing passengers delays and in some cases missed connections.

A concerned crew member alerted the police, who removed the pilot from the plane, a Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop, and breath-tested him.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: 'A 48-year-old man from Crediton, Devon, was arrested on suspicion of being over the drink-drive limit.

'He was taken to Newquay police station. He has been released on police bail until December 8.'

The pilot was named locally as Julian Lowden, who describes himself in an online profile as a pilot and former consultant stress engineer.

A woman who came to the door of his detached, five-bed £400,000 home in Copplestone, Devon, refused to discuss the arrest.

A neighbor said: 'To be honest she knows as much as you. She understands how serious this is.'

Flybe said it is unable to name the pilot in light of the police investigation.

The arrest led to the flight being cancelled and some passengers facing delays of up to five hours.

One traveller missed a connection flight to Mexico from Gatwick because of the delay.

Passengers were told the pilot was 'unwell'.

A Flybe spokesman said: 'Flybe can confirm that one of its pilots volunteered to help the police with their inquiries at Newquay Airport yesterday.

'The airline is not able to comment further while the police investigation is taking place.'

The arrest came the same day as it was announced the low-cost airline would be operating the Newquay to Gatwick route for the next three years.

Retired commercial pilot Andy Wilkins said he'd never heard of a pilot being arrested before a flight. 'It's very rare,' he said.

'I've never heard of my colleagues being tested - I wasn't. But the rules are very strict.

'Pilots are allowed a quarter of the limit for drivers.

'We always followed the adage, 'eight hours from bottle to throttle' - stop drinking at least eight hours before flying. But pilots are human and everyone is different.'

Mr Wilkins added: 'Alcohol stays in the system for different times with different people. There's no regulation testing of pilots that I know of. They're generally very professional.

'But I guess it's down to their colleagues to raise the alert if they have concerns.'

This is not the first instance of a pilot suspected of being under the influence.

Last year, a Pakistani International Airlines pilot was jailed for nine months in Britain for being drunk before he was due to fly a plane with 156 people on board.

Irfan Faiz, 55, was found to have three times the legal amount of alcohol in his blood, prosecutors told Leeds Crown Court.

The father-of-two was asked to leave the cockpit during checks for the flight from Leeds Bradford airport to Islamabad on September 18 because he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.

In the US, 48 year-old American Eagle pilot, Kolbjorn Jarle Kristiansen, was removed from the cockpit after airline employees detected alcohol on his breath on him at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Read more:

Civil Air Patrol to base rebuilt airplane at Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN) in Macon, Georgia

Macon’s newest Civil Air Patrol plane is a bit of a veteran.

The Cessna 172 arrived late Thursday afternoon. It was first built in 1986, but it’s been completely refurbished with modern displays, a new engine and a new interior, said James Marquardt, who said he was among a small crowd gawking at the airplane after it arrived at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon.

“It’s a very awesome little aircraft,” said Marquardt, commander of Middle Georgia Senior Squadron 033. “It’s spectacular.”

The airplane will be based in Macon but is available to help out anywhere. The Civil Air Patrol, a kind of civilian counterpart to the U.S. Air Force, runs search-and-rescue missions for downed flyers, among other kinds of missions. Another Macon-based Cessna 172 has run 217 hours of missions so far this year alone, Marquardt said.

From Macon, the new airplane should be able to reach almost anywhere in the state within about an hour and a half. Another Macon-based Civil Air Patrol plane recently helped in a search-and-rescue mission in Alabama, taking about 40 minutes to reach the border.

“We always hope for the best. We’re always out there trying to find the people. If they’re hurt, we want to get help to them as soon as we can,” he said.

The newest airplane’s old-style round gauges are replaced with a single modern digital display, while another display allows pilots to view a map, weather and other important information, Marquardt said.

Other improvements include rear windows that can be opened, allowing better aerial photos. It can also be set up to retransmit radio signals in the air.

“It’s not going to look like a 1986 airplane. It’s going to look like a 2014 airplane,” Marquardt said. “That’s what’s neat about it.”

The national Civil Air Patrol headquarters paid to refurbish the plane, and the commander of the Georgia Wing decided to station it at Macon.

- Source:

ViaAir offers daily flights to Charlotte and back: Raleigh County Memorial Airport (KBKW), Beckley, West Virginia

Congressman Nick Rahall, left, gives the thumbs up to Ami Viser, chairmen ViaAir aftert the announcement of Raleigh County Memorial  Airport new airline ViaAir. The new airline will be bringing its 30-passenger Embraer 120 jets into Raleigh County beginning in early December.

While the new carrier for the Raleigh County Memorial Airport was up in the air, manager Tom Cochran searched for the company he believed would be the perfect fit.

Cochran thinks he found it with the Orlando, Fla.-based ViaAir, which will begin passenger service to Charlotte, N.C., in December.

"Their interest, their passion for service and the first-class equipment they have, not just to fly people out of Beckley, but to bring the world to us" made ViaAir the right choice, Cochran said. "They are totally committed to give us service not only to Charlotte, but also chartering opportunities (in the future.)"

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., made the announcement Thursday at the airport.

"Enhancing our connections to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport with regular flights keeps our region connected in very short order to the world," Rahall said.

The congressman said the Essential Air Program, which helps fund airports for small- and mid-sized communities, is necessary for those airports to survive.

Rahall noted that large airports depend on smaller facilities to deliver passengers "to and from the first and last miles."

ViaAir chairman Ami Vizer said he and his wife, Irit, the company's president and CEO, don't just like but "love" the Beckley area.

Vizer said he believes once the outside world sees the region and sees what he sees here, the New River Gorge area will "be the center of adventure and many other attractions."

"I see nature," he said. "A lot of what you might see as undeveloped land, I see as open horizons."

Vizer wants to expand the tourism industry's horizons by offering an Adventure Package in conjunction with both the whitewater rafting companies in the New River and with Winterplace Ski Resort.

"Beckley is the closest ski resort (to Charlotte), only 45 minutes away using ViaAir," he said.

One thing Vizer didn't look at when he chose Beckley  — not only for ViaAir's aviation business, but a 44,000-square-foot maintenance facility — was the state's perpetual 50th ranking in many areas.

"By referring to yourself as No. 50, you (have to) look up instead of looking at the true value of your community and say 'this is what we have to offer,'" Vizer said. "The advantage we bring to the table is we see it through very fresh eyes with no pre-conceptions."

According to a media release, ViaAir expects to increase travelers to Beckley from 14,000 to 15,000 next year as part of the Adventure Package program.

New River Gorge Regional Development Authority executive director Chad Wykle said there's reason to be excited about air service to Charlotte since so many West Virginia natives now live and work in North Carolina.

"It's a business city, it's a business airport; you can connect globally to anywhere," Wykle said. "It's another way we can bring (West Virginia natives) home more often, and then permanently."

Cochran said air service with ViaAir will begin Dec. 1, and the online reservation center will be available Monday.

"People can make bookings for future flights," Cochran said. "The more people we can put on the airplane, the more we can work with the fares to make them attractive."

Cochran said he is equally excited about the tourism enhancement ViaAir brings to Raleigh County. ViaAir customers in Charlotte will be able to buy lift tickets for Winterplace.

"They're already marketing ideas with people in Charlotte," he said. "They're working to bring people here."

Cochran said having reliable service is important to the airport's future. The Federal Aviation Administration rewards airports with more than 10,000 boardings a year, he said. That number of enplanements would bring Raleigh Memorial $1 million from the FAA, Cochran said.

The money would be used for future projects at the airport and to keep the facility updated, Cochran said.

"We want to be what we've said that we were, a servant to the community," Cochran said. "We feel like now we have something to serve it with."

Municipal airports are increasingly seen as key components of economic development for communities since they are an attractive selling point in recruiting new business to a region.

The presence of a local airport is regarded by many businesses — particularly those in the high-tech sector — as crucial to servicing clients around the world. And many of these firms are looking for smaller airports over international airports, due to ease of access and quick departures that aren't possible at large airports.

ViaAir is based on Orlando, Fla., with maintenance and operations bases all over the United States, including Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles and Charlotte.

The company will fly four Embraer EMB-120 aircraft, billed as the "fastest, lightest and most economical in its class," for up to 30 passengers. ViaAir will have a total of four flights a day, leaving Beckley at 6:55 a.m. and 10:20 a.m., and leaving Charlotte at 8:40 a.m. 4:29 p.m.

During its first three weeks of service, the cost of a ticket each way will be $59, plus taxes and fees.

Story and Photo Gallery:

Nigerian Airlines Still Battling with Safety Challenges

It has been acknowledged that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has improved in the regulatory oversight of the airlines, but THISDAY has learnt that some of the domestic airlines are still grappling with safety challenges because of poor and incompetent technical management.

The NCAA regularly examines airlines’ approved maintenance program, and their technical and administrative profiles. The Authority has the responsibility to recommend removal of an airline official who is incompetent.

THISDAY learnt that some airlines cannot afford the cost of hiring very competent and experienced hands to handle their aircraft because they are presently in financial mess. The situation, it was gathered, is affecting the output of their workers.

An inside NCAA source said, in terms of technical manuals of these airlines, they are up to date with their maintenance schedule, simulator training for their pilots and also the cockpit crew have met the criteria to operate; but lack motivation due to non-payment of their salaries.

However, industry operators have accused the regulatory body of being responsible for the failure of airlines to have enough operational funds because, over the years, it failed in economic regulation of the airlines.
A source said if a major accident occurs, it is not because the aircraft has technical limitation or was not airworthy, but because the pilot lacked motivation.

“Aviation sector is a very sensitive sector where you don’t compromise on meeting the needs of your cockpit crew and your engineers. You must have money to competently run your operation. But it is not so with many of the Nigerian airlines. Some of the domestic airlines are okay, but some are hanging precariously. Some might have met the expected safety procedure but their cockpit crew may be thinking of the welfare of their children and therefore may not concentrate on their jobs.”

“As a sensitive industry, it is expected that NCAA should also take drastic action when necessary to ground airlines that fail to meet their financial obligation to their staff, especially the technical staff.  Many of our airlines have financial issues; some have not paid salary for upward of six months. Then there is poor technical management of some of the airlines, but the rating of the airlines is not bad”, the source said.

THISDAY also learnt that some airlines cannot engage competent and highly skilled personnel because of the high cost of their remuneration and this affects the operational competences of the airlines.

This was confirmed by a pilot, who said some expatriates who seek for jobs as pilots and engineers may show their certificates and are quickly employed by some airlines without thorough verification of their claims.

“Some air crashes in Nigeria could be attributed to this problem, people claiming to have the competences, which they actually don’t have. That may be the reason why a captain in command in one of the recent tragic accidents in Nigeria could not take a good decision to save the lives in his aircraft. It is under emergency that you know the competence of a pilot, but most often tragedies don’t give opportunity for the pilot to re-examine the action he had taken. We are in a capital market, so what you pay for is what you get,” the source added.

- Source:

Labor union partners with airline contractor to improve worker safety at Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), California

A labor union trying to organize airport ramp and cargo workers announced it is partnering with Menzies Aviation to help the airline contractor improve health and safety conditions for its Los Angeles International Airport employees.

Menzies Aviation’s partnership with Service Employees International Union, United Service Workers West, or SEIU-USWW, was formed two months after the company was hit with a $77,250 Cal-OSHA fine for three accident-related workplace safety violations found during an investigation prompted by the Feb. 21 death of a 51-year-old baggage cart tug driver who fell off the vehicle.

According to a coroner’s report, Cesar Valenzuela died of blunt trauma. Hypertrophic heart disease was listed as a contributing factor, but the report said it was not directly related to his death. The tug had a non-functioning seatbelt.

SEIU-USWW has been working to organize Menzies employees since 2012, and the company’s non-management employees are not currently unionized, but the company reached out to the union because they have taken the lead in pursuing safety issues at LAX, according to union research director Andrew Gross Gaitan.

“We’ve been pounding on the issue of heath and safety at LAX, so to have the company that has the longest-running and most serious problems to want to come forward and partner with us to try to turn the situation around — I think that’s a very positive development for the future of worker health and safety at LAX,” Gaitan said.

The workplace violation citations and a new licensing policy at LAX requiring contractors to have clean health and safety records may have prompted Menzies to reach out to the union to develop a new health and safety program, Gaitan said.

Los Angeles World Airport officials who oversee LAX and other city-owned airports were “seriously considering terminating (Menzie’s) license” to operate at LAX, he said.

Menzies spokeswoman Maya Pogoda said they have entered into a “unique partnership with the SEIU to explore new and innovative ways to provide the safest, most efficient and professional services possible at LAX.

“The company is pleased to have resolved its differences with the SEIU and looks forward to a bright future at LAX,” she said.

Under the health and safety program, a committee will be formed that comprise SEIU-USWW and Menzies representatives, employees, and health and safety advocates.

Industry experts will also help develop worker health and safety training programs, inspection programs will be created for vehicle and heavy equipment, and Menzies employees will have a process for communicating their concerns to management.

- Source:

Macon County (1A5), Franklin, North Carolina: Airport Authority October 2014 Meeting

Published on October  29, 2014

 Regular October 2014 meeting of the Macon County Airport Authority that took place on October 28, 2014 at the Macon County Airport (1A5).

Coast Guard puts off Oregon search and rescue base closing; Charleston still a question

 The U.S. Coast Guard might be close to budging on plans to remove a search and rescue helicopter and shutter a base on the Stono River. A similar base in Newport, Ore., just won a reprieve.

The legislative delegation from that state announced Thursday that the Coast Guard commandant agreed to delay closing that base until Dec. 15, to "allow for a more extensive and thorough discussion of the risks to recreational fishing, commercial fishing and other activities" along the coast near the busy Columbia River delta, according to a delegation news release.

The agreement came after delegation members held a press conference with fishing and emergency response personnel calling for the service to reverse the closing decision, the release said.

Whatever is or isn't happening with South Carolina delegation members is being kept low key and largely under wraps.

Sen. Tim Scott's office had no comment to add to an earlier statement saying the senator "continues to work closely with the South Carolina and Oregon delegations to explore options, including possible legislative remedies or remedies the Coast Guard can immediately implement themselves," said spokesman Sean Conner.

A statement from Sen. Lindsey Graham was not provided by deadline.

The Dec. 15 date is significant because it is after the election and three days after the scheduled expiration of a Congressional continuing resolution that funds the military at current levels.

The Coast Guard has scheduled Air Facility Charleston to close Nov. 30. The Johns Island facility closing is a cost-cutting move, the service's pointed response to a federal budget sequestration compromise that calls for mandatory spending cuts each year.

The cost savings is $6 million, a tiny fraction of the service's nearly $15 billion budget.

The maritime community in the Lowcountry was stunned to hear that a port where tens of thousands of pleasure and commercial craft travel each year would be left without a vital search-and-rescue helicopter.

"We are very concerned that our safety and that of other mariners has become an expendable line item. As pilots, we board ships 15 miles offshore 4,500 times a year," said Julia Bennett, Charleston Branch Pilots' Association corporate affairs manager.

"Losing a helicopter that's only 15 minutes away, and instead relying on a helicopter 80 miles away that's now covering twice the coastline, is a major degradation to the Coast Guard's lifesaving mission here," she said.

With the base closing, the helicopter stationed on Johns Island would return temporarily to Savannah but eventually be reassigned elsewhere. That station would be cut back to three helicopters for rescue missions from mid-Florida to the North Carolina line - a move that piles critical minutes onto response times to emergency calls.

The U.S. Marine Corps also has protested the move, which is taking place as the Beaufort air station begins training Marine pilots to fly the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighters. The Beaufort air station closed its search and rescue unit in 2004, turning over the job to the Coast Guard.

- Source:

Diamond DA40: Aspen aeronautics program offers higher learning • Aircraft obtained will be used by schools for student lessons

Jordan Curet/Aspen Daily News 
Greg Roark, director of the aeronautics program in the Aspen School District, explains the instrument panel on the 2010 Diamond DA40 aircraft. Students in the program and the public will able to use the plane, which belongs to a not-for-profit corporation, for flight lessons. 

Looking around Greg Roark’s classroom in Aspen Middle School, with its immersive flight simulator, three flat screen TVs, noise-attenuating headsets, a private pilot syllabus and federal test standards, it’s easy to believe him when he says the school district’s aeronautics program is “not playing around.”

That’s additionally backed up by the Oct. 4 arrival of the program’s newest addition: a 2010 Diamond DA40 single-engine light aircraft that will be devoted to flying lessons for students of all ages. Roark, a certified pilot and director of the program, landed the plane at Sardy Field after flying it from Canada.

The plane does not belong to the school; it was purchased through private donations made to the Aspen Aerospace Alliance and the Aspen Higher Learning Flight Academy, both not-for-profit corporations affiliated with Roark’s program.

While that plane is a huge boost to those attending Aspen schools — which haven’t had to pay anything toward the aeronautics program, as all the money has been privately raised — Roark said it also will be available to the general public at subsidized rates for lessons. He declined to say the price, citing the private nature of the donation that funded the purchase. But such planes tend to be in the $350,000 range.

Hunter Bryant, a junior at Aspen High, got his first experience in the Diamond DA40 recently. He is devoted to learning the myriad aspects of what it takes to be a pilot, a path that started for him last year.

When Roark introduced the program, Bryant said he joined it with a few friends and that there were about 20 people in the ground-school class initially. Ground school gives students the basics of aeronautical knowledge.

“Some kids thought it was hard … and so we ended up with six kids in the class,” Bryant said. “It’s just a lot of content to learn.”

Roark said that is the point of the program.

“As a pilot, you’re managing so many different things, so many different systems,” he said. “You’re in airspace, you have atmospheric conditions, you have the mathematics that you have to be able to do in your head, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, the communications piece.”

But Bryant has endured and starts pilot lessons next week (the Federal Aviation Administration requires a licensed pilot to be at least 16 years old, though a person can begin training at any age).

“Hopefully by next year I can have my private pilot license,” he said.

Sky-high plans

The aircraft is but one part of what Roark and the not-for-profit corporations have in mind to jump-start applied math, engineering and physics lessons for Roaring Fork Valley students, while also offering the public a way to learn to fly without having to go to Rifle or Grand Junction.

Roark and board members of the corporations also envision students building an unmanned aerial vehicle with two cameras mounted on it and a small supply cache that could be dropped via parachute to someone stranded on a mountain.

“We ultimately would like to be able to team with Mountain Rescue Aspen to be able to get out there and use these,” Roark said. “This can be the first responder.”

And the groups are hoping to buy a five-seat experimental aircraft that the students would build themselves, except for the engine and fuselage.

All of this, and the aeronautics program is only in its second full year. Roark, who speaks with evangelical zeal about the need for students interested in engineering, math and aeronautics, said the airline industry will need 544,000 new pilots in the next 28 years. Without them, “it will be a very rude awakening for a lot of people who just look at air traffic as this ubiquitous thing,” he said.

The Aspen schools’ program he is spearheading hopes to address that through applied math and science, and college and career readiness.

Starting the program required figuring out how to “implement that into the existing curricular architecture in such a way that it makes sense for the vision the superintendent has for the school,” Roark said.

Superintendent John Maloy said one aspect that captured his attention when Roark made his pitch was that students would be “participating in a high-energy, technology-based learning environment.

“Students really get engaged if it is more of a lab setting, more of a roll-up-your-sleeves” endeavor, he said. “They can see the relevancy between what they are studying and what they’re applying in the short term and long term.”

Maloy also noted that Colorado ranks second in the nation for private aerospace employment. The industry will be needing highly qualified employees, and local students, if interested, could return to their home state for careers near their families.

The program offers two potential career pathways — FAA pilot certification and aeronautical engineering. It starts in the elementary school with assembling static models. In middle school, students build what Roark called dynamic models — on a recent morning middle schoolers were in the early stages of constructing radio-controlled (RC) planes. The process involves “true problem-solving,” he said.

Building an RC aircraft allows the students to understand what makes a plane tick as students work their way up to the real deal.

The new plane already has offered its first lesson. Student lessons are offered at the operational cost of the plane: $125 an hour. Scholarships, similar to those available to students for sports and the district’s experiential education programs, will be obtainable.

The general public will pay $185 an hour, which Roark called a fair price, considering the solidity of the Diamond DA40. He compared it to a flight center in Grand Junction that offers a rental price for a Cessna of $175 an hour, which doesn’t include the instructor and fuel costs.

Roark and principals of the affiliated corporations want to take the program to other schools as well. The FAA pilot course he teaches for high school students and the general public, for instance, are to be broadcast live, allowing for distance learning at schools in Basalt and Carbondale. That aspect is expected to be available starting in January.

“There are not a lot of schools out there that do what we do,” he said. “It’s pretty rare. But I don’t think it has to be that rare. … We don’t think we have to limit the experience here.”

Asked about the funding aspect of the program, which is considerable, he likened it to sports.

“You want to teach a kid how to play hockey, well, you have to have ice, build a rink. You have to pump millions of dollars into it,” Roark said. “In looking at what we do, it’s no different.”

The school has not devoted a “single penny” to the program, providing only Roark’s classroom space.

He said he spent three years knocking on doors for donations and that the Aspen Education Foundation has been a “tremendous supporter” of fundraising efforts.

One of the students diligently working on an RC model on a recent morning was eighth-grader Ethan Linn. He said the RC projects haven’t been as hard as the piloting he learns through one of the room’s smaller simulators, though he is getting better at that. Linn said he sits down at a simulator “every single day at lunch.” He remembered when Roark brought an RC helicopter and another model plane to his regular classroom.

“I said, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’” Linn said.

Wait until he’s in the Diamond DA40.

- Source:

Fog delays 125 flights at Mexico City International Airport

A total of 125 flights, including both arrivals and departures, were delayed Thursday morning by fog at the Mexico City international airport, which was closed for a time, aviation officials said.

The airport was closed for nearly two hours, delaying inbound and outbound flights, and forcing some planes to be rerouted to the western city of Guadalajara and the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

The fog reduced visibility to nearly zero at the airport, which was closed from 6:19 a.m. to 8:12 a.m.

Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport, which was built in 1929, is nearly at full capacity, handling 32 million passengers annually. 

- Source:

Air traffic control key to tourism growth

Senior Minister of State in the Office of the President, Simon Khaya-Moyo, has reiterated calls to improve conditions of service for air traffic controllers, saying they play a key role in the growth of the country’s tourism sector. Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground through controlled airspace and can provide advisory services to aircraft to non-controlled space.

The primary purpose of air traffic control worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic. “All efforts to bring economic success and grow tourism contributions hinge on the excellent safety record and professionalism that our air traffic controllers have produced over the years,” said Khaya-Moyo.

He was speaking in Kariba recently during commemorations of the International Day of the Air Traffic Controller, organized by the Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe (ATCAZ). On October 20 every year, the world celebrates the role played by air traffic controllers in recognition of the founding of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA).

ATCAZ is a professional organization of air traffic controllers employed the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and is a member of IFATCA which represents more than 50 000 air traffic controllers from over 135 countries worldwide.
This year’s commemorations ran under the theme, “A Proud and Professional Air Traffic Control Family: Active in the Community.”

Khaya-Moyo said air traffic controllers remained busy in 2014. “Over the past years we have witnessed a positive growth in air traffic volumes,” he said.

“New airlines among them Fast Jet and Fly Africa started flying in Zimbabwe this year and the volumes of over fliers increased. The successful hosting of the Routes Africa 2014 and the SADC (Southern African Development Community) summit are some of the major highlights that kept the air traffic controllers busy for 2014.”

The increase in volumes has said necessitated the splitting of the upper airspace into two, said ATCAZ. Khaya-Moyo, a former minister of transport and ATCAZ patron, said the safety record of the national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, was attributable to the sterling efforts of air traffic controllers.

“It must be remembered that the air traffic controllers are the nerve center of air travel and therefore must be afforded appropriate remuneration and utmost respect,” said Khaya-Moyo.

“They (air traffic controllers) also partner our security forces in safeguarding our skies and facilitating the smooth and safe movement of VVIP and VIP flights.”

He said there was a need to ensure the upgrading of the air traffic control tools of trade to ensure all requisite infrastructure and facilities were in an excellent condition and high quality. “I am proud to note that the Zimbabwean air traffic controllers even with the substantial increase in air flight volumes continue to prove their capacity to work under pressure by producing accident free airspace management for CAAZ and the country as a whole,” said Khaya-Moyo.

ATCAZ president, Evans Makuku bemoaned that their profession remained one of the more obscure jobs with many people still ignorant about it.  “Ours is a job that requires us to maintain high levels of good health so that we pass the regular medical examinations regardless of age,” he explained.

“The profession of air traffic control requires intelligence, diligence, dedication and a host of other skills. Controllers have the critical role to maintain a safe, orderly and movement of air traffic.” He added that as part of their efforts to sensitize the public on their job they always sought the involvement and participation of the public in their program.

- Source:

Lufthansa Lowers 2015 Earnings Outlook • German Airline Drawing Up Plans in Case Economic Prospects Deteriorate Further

The Wall Street Journal
By Natalia Drozdiak

Updated Oct. 30, 2014 10:07 a.m. ET

FRANKFURT— Deutsche Lufthansa AG on Thursday scaled back its earnings targets for next year and said it was drawing up contingency plans should economic conditions further deteriorate.

The German airline now sees its 2015 operating profit “significantly above the result of 2014,” compared with its previous €2 billion ($2.52 billion) target, while confirming its 2014 operating profit target of €1 billion. The airline blamed the weaker global economic backdrop as well as overcapacity in key markets. In response to the weakness, it said it would curtail capacity growth next year to 3% from 5% to help combat pressure on yields.

“We can see that the economic slowdown and the continuing declines in our passenger yields in the face of such fierce competition will affect our operating scope in the year ahead,” said Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne. She said earnings would also be hit by a sharp rise in pension costs.

The airline also warned that its 2014 dividend payment could be cut because of a change in interest rates and the sale of its IT unit.

Ms. Menne said the carrier’s dividend policy was “under review” and would be discussed when the supervisory board meets in early December. Lufthansa said earlier this month that it would sell its IT infrastructure division to International Business Machines Corp. , a move that will reduce costs in the long run but result in a €240 million charge this year.

Lufthansa also said its 2014 earnings targets remained vulnerable to further labor union strikes this year. It said strikes aren’t factored into the 2015 outlook, so it too could be further impacted if more labor unrest takes place. Labor union strikes have already shaved off €170 million in operating profit this year, Lufthansa said.

“To have conviction in the investment case we need to regain confidence in the stabilization of forecasts, which is difficult at this stage given the challenged operating environment,” Jefferies analyst Mark Irvine-Fortescue said.

Lufthansa’s shares dropped 7% to €11.47 around 1300 GMT.

The airline said the pressure on yields from overcapacity in the industry stemmed from outside Europe and mainly from North America. Lufthansa said it sees stable versus rising yields in 2015 and that capacity growth in North America will likely surpass 3% in 2015.

Like other European airlines, Lufthansa is struggling to compete with discount carriers, which have undermined short-haul operations in Europe, while rapidly growing Middle Eastern carriers are also threatening their long-haul businesses.

Lufthansa said it might have to make more capacity cuts and shrink the size of its fleet if demand declines further. Still, the carrier is so far “satisfied” with next year’s bookings, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said.

“We are disappointed that management is giving up again on its originally agreed financial target for 2015 without taking further action to preserve the 2015 target,” Citi group analyst Andrew Light said.

The company said its fuel hedging policy was so far unaffected by the low jetfuel costs, adding that its fuel for next year is partly already hedged at 65% for 2015.

The altered 2015 outlook came even as it reported that third-quarter net profit rose 24% to €561 million from €451 million last year. Analysts had expected the airline to post a third-quarter net profit of around €491 million. Sales for the quarter advanced 1.9% to €8.46 billion from €8.3 billion, Lufthansa said.

Lufthansa said it would hold off on a specific 2015 forecast until next year, saying “strong volatility” in issues such as exchange rates and fuel costs made it too difficult to be more precise for now.

The airline said lower restructuring costs and a new aircraft depreciation policy helped offset the cost of the strikes. Its third-quarter operating profit rose 25% to €735 million, compared with €589 million the year before and against analyst estimates of €662 million.

Lufthansa said the cost cuts are outpacing their 2015 Score restructuring target to slash operating costs by €1.5 billion and doesn’t see any other restructuring expenses next year. The airline plans to make the cost reductions and earnings improvements a permanent fixture once the program ends.

Chief Executive Spohr said the airline could cut more administrative staff and implement a hiring freeze in airline operations departments.

Earlier this year, the airline said it is extending the depreciation period for its aircraft from 12 to 20 years, and reducing their residual book value from 15% to 5% of purchase price. Lufthansa said the new policy has already boosted operating results by €260 million in the first nine months of the year.

The airline had already downgraded its outlook in June on weak sales growth and labor unrest, when it was subsequently hit by a number of pilot strikes. Lufthansa and its pilots are at odds over a push by the carrier to raise the early retirement age and the airline’s plans to shift some flying to lower-cost operations.

Mr. Spohr, earlier this year announced a plan to boost the shift of short-haul operations to a discount unit while also moving some long-haul flights to a lower-cost business model. The airline also wants to revamp some Airbus Group NV A340-300 long-haul jets to offer discount flights to leisure travelers. It will brief its board about the lower-cost “Wings” concept in December, Lufthansa said.

European rival Air France-KLM SA in October also announced its second profit warning this year. The unprofitable Franco-Dutch carrier said a two-week-long pilots strike cost the airline about €416 million in lost sales.

- Source:

WOW Air launches $99 fares across Atlantic

WOW Air, the roughly three-year-old discount air carrier, is going where few other ultra-low-cost airlines have gone: across the Atlantic. And if all goes according to plan, it's going to do it much cheaper than anyone else.

The budget airline, which is based in Iceland, announced last week that it will begin flying passengers nonstop from both Boston and Baltimore to Reykjavik, Iceland, for as little as $99 each way. The airline will also offer one-stop flights from the two U.S. cities to London and Copenhagen, starting at $228 for a round-trip. The airline will begin offering the flights next March.

"Paying even $200 for a one-way flight to, say, London, is unheard of," said Tom Parson, the chief executive of, which tracks airline pricing. "It just doesn't exist."

By comparison, the average price of a round-trip plane ticket between Boston and Reykjavik in March of 2015 is just under $600, by Parson's estimate. A single-stop round-trip ticket between Boston and London runs about $770, while a nonstop ticket costs roughly $800.

The incredibly low ticket prices from Wow Air are real, but don't expect them to last forever. "Those are definitely opening, introductory fares," said Skuli Mogensen, Wow Air's chief executive. "On an occasional basis we hope to be able to introduce similar fares, but those are very aggressive. We wouldn't be talking if I had introduced prices more commonly seen in the market, would we?"

But the airline's commitment is to offer the cheapest ticket for every route the airline flies, including transatlantic routes, Mogensen said. The prices Wow Air offers will vary by season and will depend on a number of other factors, including fuel prices and flight vacancies.

How does Wow Air expect to pull this off? For one, by operating like all other ultra-discount carriers. A ticket on Wow Air will come with little more than a seat, mini-tray table, and an 11-pound carry-on. Everything else will cost extra. Any carry-on in excess of 11 pounds will cost an extra $29 when booked online, or an additional $48 when done so at the airport. Checked luggage will set one back a bit more - an extra $48 online or $67 at check-in. And extra leg room, pre-assigned seats, and, of course, food will rack up the bill, too.

But unlike Spirit Airlines, which is famous for squeezing passengers' knees, Wow Air won't skimp quite as much on leg room. The seat pitch, the distance between two seats, is between 30 and 36 inches on the Airbus A320 aircrafts flown by the airline, said Svanhvít Fridriksdóttir, Wow Air's director of communications. Most pitch sizes are about 31 inches, and many discount carrier pitch sizes are less than 30 inches. Spirit Airlines', for instance, is 28 inches.

Wow Air also expects to save money by operating as efficiently as possible. The company relies heavily on online sales and marketing, for instance, which allows it to skip the cost of middlemen. It also operates few airplanes - only four currently - but maximizes their utility. "We have extremely good aircraft utilization," said Mogensen. "Within one 24-hour cycle, a single airplane will fly from Iceland to Boston, back to Iceland, and continue to London, and then back to Iceland, each time full of passengers."

And Wow Air expects to fill all of its planes, a feat few if any airlines operating transatlantic routes have managed. "Our assumption is that we will fill every plane, and we price accordingly," said Mogensen.

But Wow Air's biggest advantage might be its headquarters. Iceland is ideal, because it gives airplanes a midpoint where they can stop to refuel. That allows the airline to fly passengers to and from Europe in smaller planes, which it can more consistently fill with passengers. It also helps the airline save money on fuel. "About 40 percent of the fuel airplanes carry is used to ferry the fuel to the final destination," said Bob Mann, an aviation industry analyst at R.W. Mann and Co. Consulting. "As you go shorter and shorter distances, you can ferry less fuel, and save money."

Convincing customers to travel with a stop-over might be difficult, but if it means hundreds in savings it's hard to believe it won't be possible.

Still, the small Icelandic airline faces what some industry experts believe is a steep uphill battle. Wow Air isn't, after all, the first airline to try operating cheap transatlantic flights. Low-cost air travel pioneer Freddie Laker tried unsuccessfully to do it in the late 1970s with Laker Airways; the airline closed in the early 1980s after it couldn't stay afloat. More recently,, a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, began offering affordable transatlantic flights this summer. The pitch was London-New York flights for $241. But the flights haven't been as cheap as advertised, and the routes have been stricken with delays, according to Mann. "Norwegian has had huge difficulties," he said. "All across the summer it has been running relays for its transatlantic flights to and from New York."

The biggest obstacle to discount long distance air travel might simply be that long trips could strip an airline like Wow Air of the efficiency on which it so heavily relies. Despite Wow Air's advantage of being able to stop in Iceland, the nearly 5.5-hour flight between Boston and Reykjavik is still long by budget airline standards.

A comparatively small fleet becomes a competitive disadvantage as soon as there's a delay. "Once it starts to get off-schedule, they'll never get it back on schedule unless they start cancelling flights," said Mann. Likely for that very reason, low-cost carriers have soared domestically, but shied away from routes between North America and Europe. Discount airlines currently control nearly a third of the airline market in North America, and more than third of it in Europe, but only about 1 percent of the market for transatlantic travel.

Ryanair, which operates more than 100 aircrafts in Europe has been contemplating transatlantic flights for years, but has yet to jump the gun. "If anybody was going to do it, and anybody had the greatest potential to succeed, it would be them," Mann said. "And yet they've decided it's not in the cards. That's a cautionary tale, I'd say."

Wow Air, for its part, is optimistic about its ability to offer the cheapest form of transatlantic travel. "The long-haul low-cost model hasn't really been implemented because it's hard to achieve the utilization needed," said Mogensen. "That is, unless you have a hub in the middle. And Iceland is perfectly suited," said Mogensen.

And despite the added fees from Wow, consumers may still think they're getting a bargain. "If you think you can make it Europe with an 11-pound bag, Wow Air offers a fantastic deal," said Parson. "Even with their extras, you would still end up flying for a lot cheaper than with other carriers."

The airline plans to expand at least four more destination in North America by 2016, and fly two extra jets next year and a total of 10 airplanes by 2016.

- Source: