This Week In Air Transport (W/C Aug. 11)

Credit: Jorgen Udvang / Alamy Stock Photo

This week’s top air transport stories include Air Niugini plans to order the Airbus A220 family to replace its Fokker aircraft and Libyan capital Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport has suspended flights due to violence.

In airline news, Air Niugini selected the Airbus A220 family to replace its current Fokker regional aircraft fleet. The New Guinea-based carrier plans to order 11 A220s, split between the -100 and -300 variants, Air Niugini said in a social media post. The aircraft are expected to begin arriving from 2025.

Flights have been suspended and aircraft are being evacuated at the Libyan capital Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport after violent clashes between two armed groups left two people dead, according to local media reports and flight tracking information. 

New Saudi Arabian flag carrier Riyadh Air has made clear the scale of its ambitions by opening a recruitment process for 700 pilots. The new airline is scheduled to begin services in early 2025.

In regulatory news, the FAA, responding to several airline requests, extended its relaxed slot and scheduling usage waivers at New York-area airports and Reagan Washington National (DCA) through late October and plans to evaluate a possible winter-season extension separately. Under the new provisions released Aug. 14, slot waivers put in place in March at New York JFK and LaGuardia (LGA) airports and DCA will stay in place through Oct. 28—the end of the IATA northern summer schedule season. Similar scheduling relief at Newark Liberty (EWR) will also be extended. 

The U.S. and China have agreed to gradually ramp up capacity and air services between the two countries, with the eventual goal of doubling current numbers by Oct. 29 this year. The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) announced it will increase passenger flights from China to the U.S. from 12 per week to 18X-weekly on Sept.1, followed by a hike to 24X-weekly from Oct. 29.

Mexico’s government is moving forward to create its own airline using the Mexicana brand at a time when overcapacity is occurring in the country’s domestic air travel market. Mexicana, which ceased operations more than a decade ago, is leasing 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

In lessor news, China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC) has abandoned plans to take 64 Boeing 737-8s, -9s and -10s, instead transferring the order to Middle East lessor Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE).

In manufacturer news, Airbus delivered 65 commercial aircraft orders to 36 customers in July, more than the average of 60 per month it needs to meet its 2023 delivery target of 720 units, although its year-to-date total of 381 deliveries means it is still behind schedule. The year-to-date total of 381 aircraft delivered to 76 customers is above the level reached by the same point in 2022, which was 343. However, the manufacturer should be at 420 deliveries by this point in the year to remain on track to meet its 2023 delivery target. 

Boeing delivered 33 737s—32 MAXs and one military variant—pushing the year-to-date total to 249. Average monthly delivery figures are expected to edge up toward the end of the year as the 737 program monthly production rate stabilizes at 38. Boeing is projecting 400-450 737 deliveries in 2023, meaning it needs to average 30-40 per month from August through December to reach the mark. Boeing delivered four 787s in July, boosting the year-to-date figure to 35, or halfway to the low end of its projected full-year guidance of 70-80 deliveries.

Embraer delivered 17 commercial aircraft (10 E175s; seven E195-E2s) in the second quarter of 2023 and is targeting 60-70 commercial deliveries in 2023. Embraer handed over 24 in the first two quarters. Embraer made 12 E2 deliveries through June 30.

In sustainability news, The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Director General Subhas Menon said governments should prioritize the aviation sector for the use of renewable fuels as no viable alternative green energy is currently available. Speaking at a media roundtable in Singapore, Menon said while battery-operated vehicles are now an accepted and viable alternative energy source, such technology is not possible in aviation, which will be limited to very short trips based on current technologies. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), he said, is by far the most significant and fastest way to reduce carbon emissions.

Two projects—Gevo’s Net-Zero 1 ethanol-to-jet project and carbon capture, utilization and sequestration startup 1PointFive—that could help boost the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the U.S. have been cleared to enter loan guarantee and grant negotiations with the U.S. Energy Department (DOE

GKN Aerospace, Marshall, and Parker Aerospace have signed a memorandum of understanding to partner on development of a liquid hydrogen fuel system for future zero-emission aircraft. The goal is to support both hydrogen-electric and hydrogen-combustion propulsion systems.

Linda Blachly

Linda Blachly is Senior Associate Editor for Air Transport World and Aviation Week. She joined the company in July 2010 and is responsible for producing features for Air Transport World’s monthly magazine and engaging content for the She is based in the Washington DC office.