From the Control Tower
A bad week for the LCCs in Europe
Long-haul LCC operations are hard. A pair of airlines - XL Airways and Thomas Cook - conceded defeat this week while Norwegian refinanced significant debt to extend its life just another year or two (pending profitable operations, of course).
On the plus side, watching the repatriation flights of "Operation Matterhorn" spin up quickly and bring tens of thousands of passengers home has been impressive. Unfortunately, the employees now out of work are unlikely to be taken care of quite as quickly.
A setbacKa in China
Ka-band capacity over China will not expand this year as previously planned. The failure of ChinaSat-18 made sure of that. The near-term impact to the inflight connectivity world may extend beyond this one satellite problem.
OneWeb, Iridium look to partner on LEO-based solutions
Iridium is taking full advantage of its Partners Conference this week to bolster its market position. Following yesterday's announcement of a major US Department of Defense contract the company announced today a Memorandum of Understanding with LEO upstart OneWeb to see if there are synergies in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) neighborhood that could allow the two companies to grow better together rather than apart.
AirAsia’s WiFi upgrade goes live on Inmarsat’s GX Aviation
AirAsia's inflight wifi upgrade is finally underway. The first few planes are now flying with the Inmarsat GX Aviation kit on board. Fleet-wide rollout is expected in about a year.
Delta Air Lines' Free Wi-Fi Is Held Back by Technology, Not Economics
Delta is ready to open the flood gates on free wifi for passengers according to CEO Ed Bastian. Alas, the company still needs proof that its service provider - Gogo - can support the expected increase in demand.
Moving Maps and much more coming to Vistara’s long-haul fleet
As India's Vistara begins its long-haul operations it will bring a new inflight entertainment ecosystem to the passenger cabin. Perhaps even more interesting is the bit that will be included that were not included in the press release.
Other Industry News
JetBlue confirms catering shift for short-haul flights
During the summer of 2019 JetBlue experimented with a new catering process that shifted the cart loads and allowed the company to restock planes less frequently. With nearly 120 test flights complete the company is declaring victory and moving forward with the plan. Before the end of the year expect to see catering trucks visit some JetBlue planes half as often. The news was confirmed by VP Inflight Ed Baklor in an internal video message shared with flight attendants this week.
XL Airways halts ticket sales
French discount carrier XL Airways halted ticket sales last Thursday evening. That's bad news for the LCC and more bad news for the industry overall this month.
Thomas Cook halts operations, moves to liquidation
Airlines come and airlines go. Especially in the low cost arena. It is hard to get too excited or broken up as it happens. This is not even the first to go this month. But with Thomas Cook the story is somewhat different.
Indonesia to Fault 737 MAX Design, U.S. Oversight in Lion Air Crash Report
The first formal government finding on Lion Air's 737 MAX crash last October is expected to place the bulk of the blame on design and oversight missteps, while also detailing pilot and maintenance shortcomings, according to reports.
Beijing turns up heat on domestic airlines to buy China-made jets
Is Chinese manufacturer Comac ready to challenge Airbus and Boeing in getting its planes flying over China. A trio of ARJ21 orders will help, but the C919 and C929 is where things will really change. And the part where Comac isn't scaling up production rates yet should also give pause, even with the new orders coming in.