News Briefs – 7th April 2017

    FIFO main reason for 5.82% increase in passengers to NT in 2016

    Australia‘s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Region Economics reported 13,877 flights were operated between Northern Territory (NT) airports and other cities in 2016, with a 5.82% year-on-year increase in passengers (heraldsun, 07-Apr-2017). NT Airports stated: “This increase can mostly be attributed to the increase in passenger movements of FIFO workers in the lead up to the Christmas period”.

    Air New Zealand and Jetstar deny a pilot shortage in New Zealand is causing cancellations

    Air New Zealand and Jetstar denied a pilot shortage in New Zealand is causing cancellations (newsroom.co.nz, 06-Apr-2017). New Zealand Air Line Pilot’s Association president Tim Robinson said there were not enough pilots, with “the levels are low and there is certainly not as much fat in the airlines as far as pilot numbers go – there should be more”. According to Civil Aviation Authority figures, the number of New Zealand pilots receiving Commercial Pilots Licences halved from 241 in 2012 to 120 in 2016. Air New Zealand said there was no issue, stating “We have no shortage of pilots or cabin crew. We aim to operate all services as scheduled, however, sometimes cancellations are unavoidable and the most common cause is adverse weather conditions”.

    Auckland Airport issues USD104m floating rate notes

    Auckland Airport issued (06-Apr-2017) NZD150 million (USD104 million) floating rate notes to New Zealand and offshore institutions investors, which will be used to partially refinance its maturing NZD150 million (USD104 million) floating rate note on 11-Apr-2017. The notes features a term of three years and a margin of 75 basis points over BKBM. Airport CEO Phil Neutze stated: “Together with the 10.5 year Australian medium term note issue in Mar-2017 and the Nov-2016 seven year domestic bond issue, this three year floating rate note supports Auckland Airport’s well-diversified portfolio, which is spread across a range of New Zealand and offshore markets and tenors”.

    Babcock expands Australian footprint 

    Babcock International Group announced (05-Apr-2017) plans to expand its Australia and New Zealand footprint in 2017-2018 after 12 months of growth which has seen its employee count increase by 22% and its regional revenues lift by 25%. Babcock Australasia CEO David Ruff said the company had more than 725 employees in the region – including 48 new roles in Adelaide – following the establishment of a new Regional Support Centre in Adelaide. Babcock shifted its aviation businesses to Adelaide under an agreement with the Government of South Australia.

    Richard Goyder to join the Board of Qantas Airways Limited as non-executive director

    Qantas announced (06-Apr-2017) Richard Goyder AO is to join the Board of Qantas Airways Limited as a non-executive director in November 2017. Mr Goyder will seek election to the Qantas Board at the Qantas Annual General Meeting on 27-Oct-2017 and, if approved by shareholders, will commence his duties as a director in November 2017 and step down as MD and CEO of Wesfarmers. Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said “Mr Goyder’s experience at the highest level of Australian business would strengthen the Board at an important time for the national carrier”.

    IATA: Airlines report highest ever February load factor; robust travel demand despite US travel ban

    IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac stated (06-Apr-2017) the “strong demand momentum from January has continued, supported by lower fares and a healthier economic backdrop”. He added: “Although we remain concerned over the impact of any travel restrictions or closing of borders, we have not seen the attempted US ban on travel from six countries translate into an identifiable traffic trend. Overall travel demand continues to grow at a robust rate”. Total traffic (RPKs) increased 4.8% year-on-year in Feb-2017, below the growth rate achieved in Jan-2017, although year-to-year comparisons are distorted because Feb-2016 was a leap month. Adjusting for the one fewer day this year, the underlying growth rate was estimated at 8.6%, just under the increase of 8.9% in Jan-2017. Monthly capacity (ASKs) increased by 2.7%, and load factor rose 1.6 percentage points to 79.5%, which was the highest ever recorded for February.

    Rex deputy chairman: Rex has an excellent safety record

    Regional Express (Rex) deputy chairman John Sharp confirmed a recent safety issue was not the result of an overheated engine, nor was the aircraft’s gearbox its weak link (theaustralian.com.au, 07-Apr-2017). As previously reported by CAPA, flight ZL768, operating from Albury to Sydney suffered an “event associated with the aircraft’s right propeller assembly”. The aircraft lost a propeller during flight, but landed normally at Sydney Airport. Mr Sharp stated “Rex has an excellent safety record, having flown a million hours without a single flight-related injury. The events demonstrate the high quality of training of Rex crew such that normal landings are achieved even under rare and challenging circumstances”.

    Boeing to create 250 new jobs in Adelaide with new South Australia hub

    South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill confirmed (06-Apr-2017) Boeing will create 250 new highly-skilled technical and advanced research positions in a new hub in South Australia. The jobs will be created over a five year period, and include project managers, systems designers, software engineers and researchers conducting aircraft support, research and development, product support and systems integration activities. The new facility will be established in the Adelaide CBD to support advanced military systems and leading edge research and development over the long term. The new hub will work closely with universities, other tertiary institutions and research organisations. The State Government is providing support via Investment Attraction South Australia (IASA) and Defence SA.

    Air New Zealand Dunedin-Auckland increased capacity by 25% since Oct-2016

    Air New Zealand confirmed plans to increase Dunedin-Auckland frequency from 17 to 18 times weekly, commencing 09-Jul-2017 (stuff, 06-Apr-2017). The new frequency, operated with 171 seat A320 aircraft, will increase capacity by 5% on the route. Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said the airline had increased capacity by 25% between Auckland and Dunedin since Oct-2016.

    Hobart Airport CEO Rod Parry to step down in Jul-2017

    Hobart Airport announced (Mar-2017) CEO Rod Parry will be stepping down at the end of Jul-2017, following seven years with the airport. An international recruitment process will be conducted for a replacement.

    Australia Federal Government will consider funding Melbourne Tullamarine Airport rail link

    Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated the federal government is considering funding a rail link at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, “it’s something that’s always been seen as an omission in Melbourne, not to have a rail line out to the airport” (Australian Associated Press, 07-Apr-2017). The federal budget is expected to be released in May-2017. The rail development project is estimated to require AUD5 billion (USD3.76 billion).

    Tourism NT invests in local operators to drive visitation to the NT

    Northern Territory (NT) Department of Tourism and Culture announced (06-Apr-2017) a new programme to fund local tourism operators marketing strategies. The programme includes AUD100,000 (USD75,000) towards photography and is expected to reach up to 50 tourism operators in NT. Department of Tourism and Culture CEO Alastair Shields stated the images will be used by both the business and Tourism NT for marketing and advertising purposes to help promote destination ‘NT’.

    Hobart Airport 500m runway extension to complete by Mar-2018

    Hobart Airport outgoing CEO Rod Parry stated (Mar-2017) the 500m runway extension project is expected to complete by Mar-2018, which will allow direct flights to Asia and improved access to the Antarctic. Mr Parry added the terminal redevelopment project will commence second phase within the next 12 months, “with a further AUD60 million (USD45 million) investment planned”.

    Air Niugini: New Townsville service will benefit both PNG and Townsville

    Air Niugini board chairman Frederick Reiher said (06-Apr-2017) the new direct service between Port Moresby and Townsville, North Queensland, launched on 31-Mar-2017, will benefit both Papua New Guinea and Townsville in many ways including education, business, agriculture, freight and sports. Sir Frederick stated the service will also help over 5000 Papua New Guineans in the PNG community in and around Townsville to reunite with their families back home and perhaps look at opportunities in the small business sector.