Airbus

Airbus souvenirs from the Toulouse Airport

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I traveled to Toulouse, France earlier this month to tour the Airbus factory and cover the delivery of the company’s 10,000th aircraft: an  A350-900 that went to Singapore Airlines adorned with a special decal.

On the way home, I spent some time in the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, where at least one shop had a corner devoted to Airbus-branded souvenirs and this adorable airplane mobile.

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Airbus delivers 10,000th aircraft. Singapore Airlines got it.

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Courtesy Airbus

I was in Toulouse, France last week for my first visit the Airbus factory and the celebrations surrounding the delivery of the company’s 10,000 aircraft, which just happened to be Singapore Airline’s sixth Airbus A350-900 – and the plane the carrier will use to launch non-stop flights between Singapore and San Francisco next week.

Here are some snaps from the adventure. More details later as I put together a fact-filled slide-show on this event for CNBC.

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Cake celebrating the delivery of the 10,000th plane by Airbus. Photo: Harriet Baskas

Cake celebrating the delivery of the 10,000th plane by Airbus. Photo: Harriet Baskas

Sadly, I couldn’t fly on the delivery flight to Singapore from Toulouse, but I did show up to wave goodbye…

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Airbus getting ready to deliver its 10,000th aircraft

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On Friday, Oct 14, Airbus will deliver its 10,000th aircraft – the A350 XWB pictured above – to Singapore Airlines at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France. On Saturday, this A350 delivery flight – SQ8895 – will take off for Singapore.

Airbus bills the A350 XWB mid-size, long range aircraft family as “the world’s most modern and efficient aircraft family” with an “all-new efficient design” that includes “the latest and unique technologies improving performance in operation,” and making it competitive with the 787 and the 777 (made by, you know, Boeing).

Stay tuned for more details as I’m in Toulouse for a tour of the factory and for the delivery ceremony of the plane. Lots to learn!

Pretty darn exciting..

Airline industry, non-profits save lives with flights

Airbus Foundation

Courtesy Airbus Foundation

Airlines are reporting profits and being urged to join humanitarian efforts to help plug a $15 billion funding hole in global disaster relief.

The call comes on the heels of a United Nations report that found while at least $40 billion in annual humanitarian aid is needed annually to help victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts worldwide, today the world spends only $25 billion a year on securing and getting food, water, shelter, medical supplies, support teams and other emergency resources to people in need.

That’s twelve times the amount spent 15 years ago, the report notes. But with so many in need now, new disasters cropping up all the time and the high costs associated with rushing humanitarian relief to where it will do the most good, creative solutions are needed.

And that’s where alliances between airlines, aircraft manufactures and a variety of non-governmental organizations come in.

Through its foundation, aircraft manufacturer Airbus has been filling some otherwise empty, new aircraft being delivered to customers from its factories in Hamburg, Germany and Toulouse, France with humanitarian relief supplies destined for disaster-hit regions and communities in need.

“The flights are happening anyway and the pilots and the fuel are already paid for,” said
Airbus Foundation spokeswoman Deborah Waddon, “The NGOs arrange for the cargo, we make donations for the cost of the cargo, the loading is often done for free and the airlines cover just an incremental fuel cost for the extra cargo.”

Since 2008, airlines such as Emirates, JetBlue, South African Airways, Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines and a handful of others have worked with Airbus on at least 30 delivery flights that have brought more than 250 tons of humanitarian relief to areas of Nepal, Columbia, Thailand, Africa and Haiti. On more than 15 occasions, Airbus has also used its test planes to deliver additional supplies quickly in the aftermath of disasters.

For example, a test aircraft loaded with 50 humanitarian staff and about 22 tons of food and medical aid flew to Nepal in 2015 after the devastating earthquake. And a Nepal Airlines aircraft delivery flight was used to transport more than five ton of relief goods and medical equipment to Kathmandu.

“Transporting supplies is one of our main expenses, so this way we can support more people,” said Olaug Bergseth, a senior officer for corporate partnerships with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, one of the NGOs that works closely with Airbus. “It’s faster, it’s more efficient and it’s cheaper.”

Courtesy Boeing

 

Through its Humanitarian Delivery Flight program, the Boeing Company also works with nonprofit and NGOs to load everything from medical supplies and clothing to educational materials into the empty cargo space of new airplanes for transport and delivery to areas of need.

Since 1992, Boeing’s program has made 180 humanitarian delivery flights, working with more than 50 airline customers to deliver more than 1.4 million pounds of supplies.

At least 26 of those humanitarian delivery flights have been on Ethiopian Airlines, which has also helped its neighbor, Somalia, by bringing back needed supplies.

“These flights have helped transform lives with their precious cargo,” said Bill McSherry, vice president of Government Operations at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Airlink worked with Avianca Airlines to get earthquake relief supplies to Ecuador

Courtesy Airlink

Delivery flights don’t always get relief supplies exactly where they need to go, so Boeing often teams up with Airlink, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit disaster relief organization that works with more than 35 airlines and more than 60 NGOs, to transport supplies and relief workers.

“We focus a lot on disaster response, but also on what you might call slow-burn events, such as an education program in Africa that is teaching children not to play with land mines and other remnants of war,” said Airlink Executive Director Steven Smith.

Smith notes that since more than 60 percent of humanitarian funding goes to supply chain costs, the transportation and coordination services airlines and Airlink provide can help NGOs stretch budgets and be more effective.

During the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa, for example, Airlink sent healthcare workers and 100 shipments of aid for 37 different NGOs using 11 airlines.

And more recently, Airlink used donated miles and funds from Air Canada, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines to send 19 military veterans from Team Rubicon USA and Team Rubicon Canada to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to help out residents returning home after devastating wildfires destroyed more than 2,400 homes.

(My story about airline industry efforts to help save lives first appeared on CNBC in a slightly different form.)