SAA chief warns strikes threaten carrier's survival
November 18, 2019
South African Airways' acting chief has warned that continued strikes will deepen the airline's financial crisis, after flights were disrupted by industrial action. Zuks Ramasia says the carrier's financial position is already "precarious" and that strikes will have "dire ramifications" that will "without doubt place SAA's future in jeopardy". While the action by cabin crew union SACCA and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is already problematic, Ramasia is concerned about the possibility of the strike broadening to include transport unions SATUWU and NTM. She says such an escalation, into a "full-on aviation strike", could bring all airport operations to a standstill and cause "huge damage" to South Africa's economy. The flag-carrier has managed to reinstate flights to a number of international destinations, having decided that it has sufficient numbers of personnel for the operations, and has been trying to use capacity on Mango Airlines and Airlink to maintain services on other routes. Evidence that relations between SAA and the unions is deteriorating has emerged with Ramasia accusing the unions of spreading untruthful allegations about the safety of the airline, and threatening legal action. "SAA is mindful of its obligations to comply with all regulations and continue to ensure safe and secure operations," she says. "SAA will therefore maintain the required levels of personnel, including oversight post holders and necessary compliance training during this strike period." Ramasia points out that SAA's pilots are not on strike and that it is using trained cabin crew, who meet regulatory requirements, on its services. The industrial action also appears to be causing divisions within staff ranks. Ramasia warns that the airline's management will not tolerate intimidation against personnel who opt not to strike. "We will always protect our employees’ right to decide for themselves and serve our customers," she says, adding that any employees engaging in misconduct or criminal behaviour may be liable for arrest or prosecution. "Striking is a personal choice. No one should be pressured by a union or striker to participate in the strike." The SACCA and NUMSA unions have demanded an 8% salary increase, but the carrier says it cannot afford any rise in wages. SAA is, however, offering a 5.9% rise from March 2020 and to provide back-pay around this date if it has received the necessary funds. The airline says it is restoring flights from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, New York, London, Frankfurt, Munich and Washington DC on 17 November, and to Perth and Hong Kong on 18 November. "We hope all our customers understand that the cancellations were beyond our control," says SAA chief commercial officer Philip Saunders. "We pledged to rebook all passengers caught up in the flight cancellations."

Source: FlightGlobal

A320's order total overtakes 737's as Max crisis persists
November 18, 2019
Airbus's A320 family appears to have overtaken the Boeing 737 in terms of total orders, in the wake of the 737 Max crisis and strong single-aisle activity from the European airframer. Total A320-family orders by the end of October this year had reached 15,193 after Airbus secured firm agreements for almost 400 of the twinjets last month – including 300 from IndiGo. Boeing's customer data for the 737 shows total orders of 15,136 to the end of October. These figures include airframes for the US military. Airbus's latest backlog revision indicates that Taiwanese carrier China Airlines' order for 11 Airbus A321neos, sealed on 15 October, edged the manufacturer ahead of its rival. At the close of last year the Boeing 737 had been more than 400 orders in front of the A320 family. But the grounding of the 737 Max in March 2019 reduced the order flow for the family to a trickle, and Boeing recorded agreements for just 36 737s over the first 10 months of this year. Airbus still remains nearly 1,500 aircraft behind Boeing in terms of deliveries, however, with 9,086 A320-family jets handed over against 10,563 737s of all variants. Boeing took its first orders for the 737 in 1965 and delivered the initial aircraft to Lufthansa two years later. Airbus delivered its first A320, to Air France, in 1988.

Source: FlightGlobal

Fog rendered Jet2 737 'invisible' before taxi collision
November 15, 2019
Fog enshrouding East Midlands airport prevented tower controllers from realising that a parking stand was occupied by a Jet2 Boeing 737-300, before the jet was struck by a Ryanair 737-800 taxiing past it. The Ryanair aircraft, arriving from London Stansted on 30 April, had been cleared to follow the shortest path to stand S22. This meant passing behind the Jet2 aircraft on stand S24. This aircraft did not show up on the surface-movement radar display. Low-visibility procedures were in place at the time, with runway visual range down to just 300-325m, and the fog made the Jet2 aircraft "invisible" to air traffic controllers, says the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch. "Had visibility been better, [controllers] would have had an opportunity to visually acquire the obstruction and offer a different route [to the Ryanair crew]," it adds. Although the Jet2 aircraft was correctly parked, the short 737-300 was occupying a position normally intended for a 737-800 – a larger aircraft, which might have made the lack of clearance more obvious to the Ryanair crew. The inquiry says aeronautical information charts did not indicate that clearance could be compromised, and even though the Ryanair crew was aware of the narrow margin and kept to the taxiway guidance line, the 737-800's right winglet sliced into the Jet2 aircraft's horizontal stabiliser. "Commercial flight crew routinely operate on airfields where following established taxiway markings generates safe separation," says the inquiry. "Repeated achievement of safe outcomes through compliance builds confidence and trust that airfield markings are safe to follow."

Source: FlightGlobal


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