Here are the most-read “Industry News” stories from this year’s APEX Daily Experience newsletters. To receive breaking passenger experience industry news in your inbox on a daily basis, subscribe here.
Singapore Airlines Takes Delivery of Its First Airbus A350-900
Singapore Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 at a ceremony in Toulouse, marking the first phase of a major overhaul of its medium and long-haul fleets. SIA is Airbus’ biggest customer for the A350-900, having ordered 67 of the wide-body jets, which will gradually replace the airline’s ageing fleet of Boeing 777s. The aircraft will initially operate on flights within Asia for crew training and will transition to long-haul routes in early May, starting with Amsterdam. SIA’s CEO Goh Choon Phong called the aircraft a “game changer.”
Flydubai Crash: UAE Investigators Join Russian Officials to Examine Black Box
Investigators from the United Arab Emirates have arrived in Moscow to join Russian officials in examining black box and flight data recorder evidence after Saturday’s fatal Flydubai airplane crash. All 62 people on board the passenger jet flying from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don were killed after the Boeing 737-800 crashed on its second landing attempt. Investigators say the devices could take weeks to decode, but the lines of inquiry include crew error, poor weather conditions, technical failure and the pilots’ decision to fly a holding pattern instead of rerouting to an alternative airport.
Alaska Air Group to Acquire Virgin America for $2.6 Billion
Alaska Air Group, the parent of Alaska Airlines, confirmed today that it has agreed to buy Virgin America for $57 per share, totalling $2.6 billion in cash. The deal will expand Alaska Airlines’ presence in Los Angeles and San Francisco and unite the two domestic carriers, which are among the 10 largest in the US. The transaction was unanimously agreed upon by boards of directors of both companies and is subject to approval by regulators and Virgin America shareholders. The merger is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year.
Istanbul Atatürk Airport Attack Leaves 41 Dead
A triple suicide bombing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on Tuesday night has left 41 dead and more than 239 wounded in what Turkish officials suspect was an attack by ISIL militants. The bombers were armed with AK-47 rifles and fired at security and police near the airport’s x-ray checkpoint, before detonating explosive vests in the arrivals hall of Europe’s third busiest airport. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in a press conference yesterday, “No matter where the terror comes from, our country is strong enough to fight against this terror. I call on every citizen to act in unity and stand by each other.”
Airlines and Airports Have a GO at Nintendo’s Latest Pokémon Venture
As a seemingly never-ending stream of Pokémon GO devotees continues to flow out of the woodwork, the aviation industry is scrambling to tap into the international hype. Airlines and airports are engaging with the augmented reality game to cultivate relationships among the Pokémon-seeking public. “Recognizing the unique nature of our situation in the airport space and wanting to get in on the fun, we decided to help our guests locate and capture a few pre-flight by purchasing and installing ‘Lures’ in our spaces,” says Michael Marchese, manager of Marketing and Communications, OTG.
Emirates Crash Landing at Dubai International
Operations at Dubai International Airport have been suspended after an Emirates Boeing 777-300 traveling from Thiruvananthapuram, India, crash-landed earlier today at 12:45 p.m. local time, marking the airline’s worst incident in its 30-year history. All 282 passengers and 18 crewmembers were evacuated safely before the aircraft burst into flames, but a firefighter who was on the scene has been confirmed dead. Authorities have not released any details on the cause of the crash although reports suggest the aircraft’s landing gear was not fully extended during landing.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Outlines Ambitious Turnaround Plan
The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines Berhad, Peter Bellew, has outlined his recovery strategy for the beleaguered carrier. Building on predecessor Christoph Mueller’s $1.5-billion growth plan, Bellew says his job is the toughest in the industry, but he is confident he can achieve “the greatest turnaround in the history of aviation.” He revealed that the airline’s average load factor was just below the break-even point at 68 percent, but his target is increasing it to 80 percent in the next 18 months alongside a series of cost-cutting measures. “I think we’ve been a bit shy with promoting ourselves,” Bellew says. “We weren’t the most expensive and we weren’t the cheapest. So we’re going to take a much more aggressive line on our fares.”
Carlisle Acquires IFC Specialist Star Aviation
Carlisle Companies Incorporated has announced the acquisition of Star Aviation, a supplier and manufacturer of products and services used by in-flight Wi-Fi and connectivity companies across the world. The business’s 150 employees – located at manufacturing facilities in Mobile, Alabama, and at a technical services facility in Lynnwood, Washington – will now operate as part of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies. “[Star Aviation] will add significant engineering resources and technology to support our current initiatives in the very attractive in-flight connectivity sector,” says D. Christian Koch, Carlisle’s president and CEO.
Aircraft Carrying Brazilian Soccer Team Crashes in Colombia, Killing 75
A chartered aircraft carrying members of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team crashed close to Medellín, Colombia, in the early hours of Tuesday morning. At least 75 people including players, journalists and crew members are confirmed dead. Colombia’s civil aviation authority said six people initially survived the crash, but one died a short time later. The aircraft, a British Aerospace 146, was flying the team from São Paulo – stopping briefly in Bolivia – to Chapecoense’s Copa Sudamericana finals match against Atlético Nacional in Colombia’s second-largest city. A statement released by José María Córdova International Airport said the aircraft declared an emergency because of electrical failures, before crashing in the mountains outside the city.
Leaked Documents Reveal US and British Spy Agencies Have Monitored In-Flight Phone Usage Since 2005
US and British spy agencies have been surveilling in-flight phone usage on board passenger aircraft since at least 2005, according to an investigation by Le Monde. The French newspaper based its findings on secret documents from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, which state that switching a phone on while an aircraft is above 10,000 feet is enough to disclose a passenger’s location to the NSA. Under a program called “Thieving Magpie,” spy agencies were also able to access near real-time information including BlackBerry PINs, e-mail addresses, Skype data and Facebook information. A leaked presentation document from the UK Government Communications Headquarters revealed the intelligence agency could even monitor usage of travel apps, Google Maps, currency converters and even BitTorrent downloads.