A team from Virgin Australia was in Seattle this week to take delivery of the carrier’s first Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
Picking up a new plane is a big deal anytime. But this is the first of 33 MAX family aircraft the carrier plans to take delivery of over the next five years. The order includes eight 737-8s and twenty-five 737-10s.
This first 737-8 For Virgin Australia is registered as VH-8IA and is named Monkey Mia.
The name is in line with Virgin Australia’s tradition of naming its aircraft after Australian bodies of water. And Monkey Mia is in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, which became Western Australia’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1991.
The plane is flying from Seattle to Brisbane, Australia with a stopover in Hawaii and leaves Seattle with a fuel load that includes 30 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
“These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services,” said Virgin Australia Chief Operations Officer Stuart Aggs. He noted that these MAX aircraft are a critical part of the airline’s decarbonization plans and “will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.”
In addition to being fuel efficient, the 737-8 is approximately 40 percent quieter than Virgin Australia’s current 737-800 NG fleet and has the airline’s new generation seats, which include device holders and in-seat power.
On a tour of Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton, WA, the Virgin Australia team was able to see the unique “hay loader” system Boeing uses to deliver new airline seats from the factory floor onto planes.
Also on the
list: A downgrade for the industry trade group’s 2019 profit expectations.
“Although 2019 is expected to be the 10th consecutive year
of airline profits,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO told
the group, “Rising costs, trade wars and other uncertainties are likely to have
an impact on the bottom line. The prolonged grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft
is taking its toll. And aviation, like all industries, is under intensified
scrutiny for its impact on climate change.”
In December 2018, IATA forecast a profit of $35.5 billion for
the global air transport industry in 2019. The revised
that forecast to $28 billion.
“Airlines will still turn a
profit this year, but there is no easy money to be made,” said de Juniac.
Restoring public trust when Boeing’s 737 MAX back returns
to the skies
“Trust in the
certification system has been damaged – among regulators, between regulators
and the industry and with the flying public,” said de Juniac, who called for
improved coordination in the industry.
“To be clear, I am
not advocating for knee-jerk reactions. But governments and industry must find
a way to maintain public confidence in safety with fast and coordinated
responses,” he added.
Estimates for when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
will give the 737 MAX the green light to fly again range from this summer to
the end of the year. But even airline CEOs that don’t have 737 MAX planes
in their fleets worry about what may happen if one country’s regulatory agency
lifts the ban before others decide to do so.
“I do indeed believe this is what we are facing,” said
Carsten Spohr, chairman and chief executive of the Lufthansa Group, during a panel
discussion of airline executives, “Probably we will see the MAX flying
domestically in the U.S. first before we see if flying somewhere else. But this
is a global industry and we need global trust. [It will be] difficult to
explain to our global passengers that the aircraft is safe in some part of the
world and supposedly not safe somewhere else.”
To try to avoid this scenario, later this month IATA will meet with representatives from Boeing, 737 MAX customers and regulators from the FAA and other countries, said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA’s senior vice-president for safety and flight operations.
In 2017, private and commercial aviation created about 859
million tons of CO2, or about 2% of all man-made carbon emissions, according
To reduce emissions as air traffic increases, the industry
has agreed to a wide variety of standards, mitigation measures and targets. And,
at its meeting in Seoul, IATA members passed a
resolution calling on governments to implement a
global plan calling for carbon-neutral growth as of 2020 and a 50%
reduction in the industry’s net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
Fuel efficient airplanes, improvements in air traffic
management and increased use of biofuels are among the tools helping the
aviation industry reach reduced carbon emission goals and carbon offset
programs are in the toolbox. But, while passengers tell IATA they support voluntary
offset programs and more than 40 of the group’s member airlines offer them, IATA
has found that take-up rates are low.
In fact, few hands were raised when a room full of airline
executives were asked if they’d purchased carbon offsets for their own flights
to the meeting in Seoul.
Airline industry’s to-do list:
Looking ahead, IATA member airlines, which represent more
than 80 percent of all global air traffic, passed several
other resolutions that could have a real impact on your travel experience.
One commits airlines to move forward with plans for using bar-coded baggage tags with radio-frequency
identification (RFID) inlays, which can help keep checked luggage from going
Another focuses airline
attention on improving the air travel experience for people living with