Sunday, September 21, 2008

Qantas A380

AFP - 1 hour 33 minutes ago SYDNEY (AFP) - - Qantas landed its first A380 superjumbo here on Sunday, hopeful that its arrival will boost the Australian carrier, which has recently faced a series of mechanical problems including a mid-air blast.

The arrival of the first of the giant Airbus A380s, the world's largest passenger jet, in Australia comes as Qantas also battles rising fuel costs and global financial uncertainty.

"We are witnessing an exciting new era for Qantas but also for Australian aviation," executive general manager John Borghetti said after the plane landed at Sydney airport cheered by hundreds of Qantas staff and their families.

Borghetti said the A380s, which run on four Rolls-Royce engines and have a wingspan of about 80 metres (264 feet), were quieter and more fuel-efficient than other planes while the interiors would redefine the customer experience.

"It's so exciting. It gives the whole industry a boost, particularly so given the economic climate that we are in," Borghetti told AFP.

Borghetti said the arrival of the 350-million-dollar (290 million US) dollar A380 -- delivered to the airline in France on Friday -- would allow Qantas to keep its position at the forefront of world aviation.

Asked about the recent mechanical problems encountered by the airline, Borghetti said only: "Qantas' engineering excellence is legendary."

In July, Qantas faced a storm of negative publicity after an oxygen cylinder exploded on a flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne in July, forcing an emergency landing in Manila.

The incident was one of several that prompted the Australian aviation watchdog to urge Qantas earlier this month to improve maintenance.

Qantas was the first airline to order the A380s, committing to the double-decker craft in 2000, but delivery has been slowed by delays and budget overruns in production in Toulouse, France.

The airline's first commercial A380 service will operate between Melbourne and Los Angeles on October 20. It hopes to have taken delivery of three of the aircraft by the end of the year.

Airbus has said the aeroplane can seat 853 passengers, all in economy class. Qantas has configured its A380 to seat 450 passengers in four classes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alitalia Unions given deadline

ROME (AFP) - - Alitalia's trade unions were warned Wednesday they had less than 24 hours to accept a deal on a rescue plan for the ailing airline, ANSA news agency reported.

"The reply must come in by 3:50 pm (1350 GMT) on Thursday, or 10 minutes before the consortium behind the plan meets to decide whether to save Alitalia from bankruptcy," ANSA quoted government official Gianni Letta as saying.

Roberto Colaninno, the head of the Italian Air Company (CAI) consortium, for his part threatened that "without a consensus, I will withdraw the offer," ANSA reported.

They were speaking at a meeting between CAI and the nine unions, which was also attended by Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi.

Sacconi said the time for negotiations was over, though Sky TG 24 television said five unions were to make counter-proposals at Wednesday's meeting.

The other four unions signed a draft agreement Monday, but the move sparked attacks from pilots and cabin crews, and continuing strike action by some employees on Wednesday forced the cancellation of nearly 100 Alitalia flights.

Some 1,000 people also demonstrated at the Rome-Fiumicino airport in support of the strike.

The plan has divided the unions, with holdout syndicates continuing to air doubts about it.

Renata Polverini, general secretary of the Uil Transport union which signed the draft agreement, appealed to the pilots' union, in particular, to be more flexible.

"I think at this time, we all need to make an extra effort to get out of this situation in the best way possible," Polverini said.

But Massimo Notaro, president of the UP pilots' union, judged the takeover offer "very weak and leaves us extremely skeptical."

And the country's leading CGIL syndicate said was prepared to reject the deal "if nothing changes," its national secretary Fabrizio Solari said.

Still the government offered an upbeat take on the negotiations.

"I have been and I remain confident," said transportation minister Altero Matteoli. "Nobody today has said no."

The potential buyers, who are ready to put one billion euros (1.4 billion dollars) on the table, have proposed a plan that would reduce the number of workers by 3,250 to 12,500.

CAI administrator Rocco Sabelli said the consortium was prepared to leave wages untouched, but on condition that working hours and productivity are increased.

The CAI plan also provides for a foreign airline taking a minority stake in the new Alitalia. Sacconi said British Airways, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa were all interested, and would not be looking to buy the company.

Alitalia employs a total of 20,000 people, but certain offshoots, such as maintenance and freight operations will be hived off.

Alitalia's collapse would be a political embarrassment for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had promised before the last elections that he would keep it flying under Italian control.

He said on Monday that unions holding out against the rescue deal should recognise that there is no alternative.

"The moment has come to appeal to the sense of responsibility of all those who hesitate and seem not to realise that the alternative is bankruptcy and the loss of 20,000 jobs," said Berlusconi, quoted by ANSA.

The minority union that called Wednesday's strike, CUB Trasporti, bitterly criticised the scheme to restructure the airline, saying it would reduce Alitalia to little more than a domestic carrier.

The government currently holds a 49.9 percent share in Alitalia, a national symbol for Italians since it was founded in 1946, which has lurched for years from crisis to crisis, and from restructuring plans to the latest takeover rescue scheme.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Airplane crash in Russia

MOSCOW, (AFP) - - A Boeing-737 jet crashed near Russia's city of Perm in the central Ural mountains killing all 82 passengers and six crew on board, including 21 foreigners, the jet's owner Aeroflot said Sunday.

"The Boeing-737 carried 82 passengers on board, including seven children, and six crew... All passengers were killed," Aeroflot said in a statement.

"There are foreign citizens among the victims, including nine from Azerbaijan, five from Ukraine, and one each from France, Switzerland, Latvia, the United States, Germany, Turkey and Italy," the statement said.

Earlier the company denied that any foreigners were killed in the accident.

"As the plane was coming in for landing, it lost communication at the height of 1,100 meters and air controllers lost its blip. The airplane was found within Perm's city limits completely destroyed and on fire," the statement added.

Earlier, investigator Vladimir Markin was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying that "there were 82 passengers plus a baby and five crew on board, and by preliminary information, they are all dead" as the airplane "fell into a ravine near the city limits."

However, a ministry source quoted by RIA Novosti said that the plane fell just meters away from apartment houses, and that the entire area was cordoned off by police to help investigators.

An emergency situations ministry source quoted by RIA Novosti also claimed it was possible that three people who bought a ticket for the ill-fated flight 821 to Perm did not get on board.

The wreckage was strewn over some four square kilometers, officials said, adding that the flames had been completely put out.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, though a source quoted by RIA Novosti suggested that an engine failure could have sparked flames on board and led to the crash.

One of the airplane's two black boxes was found among the wreckage, officials quoted by RIA Novosti said, adding that it was already handed over to experts for decoding.

Aeroflot set up a crisis center for the victims' relatives both in Moscow's Sheremetyevo-1 airport and in Perm, including psychological aid, the company said.

The airline also pledged to pay "compensation on obligatory accident insurance in full, which would make up to two million rubles (some 80,000 dollars) per victim," the company's statement said.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu reported the accident to Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin press service said.

An investigative group headed by Transport Minister Igor Levitin was due to fly out to the site.

The emergency situations ministry considered sending a rescue team to the site from Moscow, but later reported that "Perm had sufficient resources to deal with the search and rescue mission and decided to delay sending out experts from Moscow."

The Trans-Siberian Railway, which was damaged in the accident, had been cut off on the stretch between Perm and Yekaterinburg, and all trains put on detour, local police officials said.

The airplane had been leased by Aeroflot from a Dublin-based company Pinewatch Limited in late July until March 2013, Aeroflot said.

Last year, the 33 Russian aviation accidents that left 318 dead -- a sixfold increase over 2005 -- raised serious concerns about Russia's civil aviation, with experts pointing at major faults in the professional training of crews as well as Russia's aging fleet of passenger jets.

An air safety commission announced in January that the average age of the country's international airliners was 18, and its regional jets 30 years.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take off at Changi Airport

Managed to take a couple of shots of planes taking off at Changi

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 gaining altitude

A RSAF fokker 50 from the next door Changi Air Base West

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Airlines that land in Singapore

Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air

Turkish Airlines


Royal Brunei Airways

Malaysian Air System

Japan Airlines