News Briefs – 11th April 2017

    Cyclone Cook causes flight cancellations and delays in Vanuatu

    Aircalin, Air Vanuatu and Air Calédonie announced cancellations and delays as Cyclone Cook ascends on Vanuatu causing flooding and damage to the area (travelweekly, 10-Apr-2017). The category four cyclone is impacting schedules and resulting in the majority of services either being cancelled or delayed significantly. 

    Additional Palmerston North services cancelled due to Air New Zealand landing gear issue

    Air New Zealand and Jetstar cancelled additional services on 10-Apr-2017 to/from Palmerston North after an Air New Zealand aircraft developed landing gear issues on 09-Apr-2017 (nzherald, 10-Apr-2017). Three Air New Zealand services and one Jetstar service were affected by the runway closure which initially resulted in all services being cancelled on 09-Apr-2017. 

    ACCC requests additional information from Virgin Australia before approving HNA alliance

    Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) requested (04-Apr-2017) further information from Virgin Australia before the proposed alliance with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express is approved. ACCC director adjudication Gavin Jones indicated the additional information is a result of their public consultation process, where Air China submitted its concerns around the alliance. Air China argued “if the Alliance Framework Agreement did contain such an exclusivity clause it would deny a competitive choice that might otherwise exist for international passengers travelling on behind gateway routes in Australia.” Virgin Australia is expected to respond to the letter by 20-Apr-2017.

    India and Australia sign MoU for civil aviation security

    India and Australia signed six Memorandum of Understandings during a meeting on 10-Apr-2017 (ibtimes, 10-Apr-2017). The MoUs were centred around cooperation on counter-terrorism, civil aviation security, protection of the environment, cooperation in sports, health and medicine.

    Essendon DFO aircraft crash investigation still ongoing

    Australian Transport Safety Bureau is still investigating who is responsible for the Feb-2017 Beechcraft 200 Super King Air crash into the Essendon DFO shopping centre (smh, 10-Apr-2017). Air Charter Specialists AVMIN MD Paul O’Brien stated the investigation involved six different companies which is blurring the lines of responsibility. It remains unclear whose air operator’s certificate was being used to conduct the flight and therefore who carries potential liability. The investigation is ongoing and may take a considerable amount of time to resolve.

    Australia announces members of the Forum on Western Sydney Airport

    Australia Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher announced (10-Apr-2017) members of the Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA), a community consultation mechanism in the lead up to the new Western Sydney Airport commencing operations in 2026. Chaired by chancellor of Western Sydney University Professor Peter Shergold AC, FOWSA will address issues such as flight path planning and how to maximise economic, employment and educational opportunities from the new airport. FOWSA will meet at least three times a year with the first to be held in May-2017.

    Rockhampton Airport to tentatively resume service on 13-Apr-2017

    Rockhampton Regional Council, via its official Facebook account, announced (10-Apr-2017) Rockhampton Airport will remain closed until 12-Apr-2017. The airport was severely affected by Cyclone Debbie and 1400m of its 1500m runway is still affected by the flood (The Morning Bulletin, 07-Apr-2017). The airport hopes to resume service on 13-Apr-2017.

    Government does not expect community objections to Western Sydney Airport to impact project

    Australia Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher does not expect the legal case brought up by residents facing eviction “to be a significant impediment for the plans for Western Sydney Airport” (ABC, 11-Apr-2017). Residents appealed to the High Court in the hope of remaining in their properties, on the site that has been earmarked for the new airport development.

    Environment Court awards QAC 16ha for future development of Queenstown Airport

    Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) welcomed (10-Apr-2017) the Environment Court’s final decision to designate QAC 16ha of land next to Queenstown Airport. Airport CEO Colin Keel stated QAC “has been seeking to acquire this parcel of land since 2008” for further expansion which may include general aviation precincts and a taxiway parallel to the runway.

    ANAO audits conduct of OneSKY tender by Airservices Australia and Australian Department of Defence

    Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audited (10-Apr-2017) Airservices Australia and the Australian Department of Defence on the OneSKY tender. ANAO stated the audit is to assess whether the tender was “conducted so as to provide value with public resources and achieve required timeframes for the effective replacement of the existing ATM platform”. ANAO concluded:

    • The design of the OneSKY tender process was capable of producing a value for money outcome;
    • The successful tenderer was assessed as significantly stronger in terms of technical capability as well as involving much lower schedule risk, and had also submitted significantly higher acquisition and support prices than the other tenderers;
    • Airservices and the Department of Defence took “sufficient steps” to generate market interest in the procurement process, including by running a two stage tender process – an RFI followed by an RFT. However, ANAO stated an “overarching business case” was not prepared for OneSKY. Separate business cases were developed by Airservices and the Department of Defence. The Airservices business case has not been reviewed or updated since 2011;
    • There have been “significant delays with the conduct of the OneSKY tender process”. Contracts are unlikely to be signed prior to mid 2017, at least 40 months after tender evaluation commenced.

    Airservices Australia noted the report, while welcoming the ANAO conclusion that the tender process design was appropriate, and the evaluation governance both “provided an approach capable of identifying the best value for money tender and guarded against the perceived conflict of interest issues”. Airservices also noted no recommendations have been made by ANAO for improvement.