WestJet delays integration of Sunwing Airlines until 2025
May 23, 2024
WestJet Group will now finish integrating Sunwing Airlines into WestJet Airlines six months later than planned, according to WestJet. In a statement shared, the company said its targeted timeline for the integration to "complete the airline's strategy to move all [Boeing] 737s into the same AOC (air operator certificate)" has shifted to 27 April 2025 from the "original ambitious integration date" of 26 October 2024. The new date will be in time to fly a "singular summer 2025 network schedule", WestJet adds. "Both WestJet Airlines and Sunwing Airlines will continue business as usual for their winter 2024/2025 operation schedules. The updated integration timeline has no impact on Sunwing Vacations Group and its associated vacations brands," the airline goes on to say. WestJet Group intends to integrate as much of Sunwing as possible by 26 October. It expects unionised operational team members to be integrated in a "phased approach" to meet training and aircraft transition schedules by 27 April 2025. WestJet said in September 2023 that it would complete the integration of Sunwing's 737 fleet by October 2024, having completed the purchase of the Toronto-based carrier in May 2023. At first, WestJet had said the two carriers would operate independently. According to fleets data, Sunwing has an in service and stored fleet of 20 aircraft, including nine 737 Max 8s and 11 737-800s.

Qantas seeks approval for Vanuatu flights
May 23, 2024
Qantas is seeking regulatory approval to start flights from Australia to Vanuatu after rival Virgin Australia applied to increase its capacity allocation on the route. In a filing with Australia's International Air Services Commission, Qantas is seeking an allocation of 1,798 seats per week to Vanuatu that would allow it to commence flying there from August using Boeing 737-800s and Embraer 190s. It further plans for budget unit Jetstar to commence four weekly services to the Pacific Island nation from October using Airbus A321neos. Neither Qantas nor Jetstar currently operate services between Australia and Vanuatu, although Qantas was previously a codeshare partner with Air Vanuatu which suspended operations on 9 May and was subsequently placed into liquidation. Prior to its grounding, the airline operated flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Port Vila, and a newly launched weekly service from Brisbane to Luganville (Espiritu Santo). Qantas's request comes after Virgin applied on 13 May for an additional 1,304 seats per week that would allow it to operate an additional seven weekly services to Vanuatu from July. Schedules data shows that the carrier flies three weekly Brisbane-Port Vila services. The IASC's register of available capacity shows that as of May 2023 there were 3,120 seats available to Australian carriers under the Vanuatu bilateral air services agreement to operate flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. That would allow the Commission to grant both applications without having to consider them competing unless another carrier were to make a subsequent request, with a deadline set for 5 June for further applications. The future of Air Vanuatu is uncertain, with liquidators seeking funds that would allow it to resume operations. In an initial report released on 16 May, liquidators estimated that Air Vanuatu has net liabilities of $65.9 million, not including employee entitlements, which were still being investigated.

Airbus to demonstrate autonomous taxiing with modified truck
May 22, 2024
Airbus is exploring automatic aircraft taxiing with a modified electric truck featuring cockpit controls and pilot-assistance technology. The vehicle's equipment includes light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, external cameras, inertial and GPS navigation systems, and a satellite and 5G communication suite. Cockpit displays and an Airbus-styled consumer flight-simulator sidestick and thrust levers have been installed to "create an A350 cockpit on wheels", says the European airframe. The truck featuring four-wheel steering "replicates the key functions of a real aircraft cockpit and can roll down airport runways like an airliner". Dubbed "Optimate", the demonstrator is part of a three-year project led by Airbus's UpNext innovation subsidiary and focused on automation, computer vision, data fusion and machine-learning technologies. A key objective is to develop and test automatic taxiing based on accurate and reliable position calculation, and to assess the potential of quantum sensing to improve position availability and navigation system robustness, says Airbus. It adds that the project will also investigate capabilities of a collaborative map and virtual flight assistant to support pilots' strategic decisions and interactions with air traffic control and airline operation centres. Airbus intends to use the virtual assistant during a fully automated gate-to-gate mission conducted with an A350 flight-test aircraft in the project's final phase. Our ambition is to use the best technologies to make our aircraft even more aware of their operating conditions, analysing it in as much detail as possible to become smart and reliable assistants to pilots," states UpNext chief Michael Augello. Airbus disclosed the project on the occasion of the Viva Technology exhibition in Paris.


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