Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cebu Pacific Airplane Stuck On Manila Airport Runway

An airplane of Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific got stuck in the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday morning, delaying or cancelling domestic and international flights.

Candice Lyog, spokesperson for Cebu Pacific, said the A320 aircraft was on its way to General Santos, in southern Philippines, when its rear left wheel sank about five-inches deep into a still soft asphalt portion of the runway.

Lyog said the plane was scheduled to leave Manila at 7:00 am and was just waiting for its turn to take off at the time of the incident.

At least 161 passengers bound for General Santos and 156 passengers bound for Manila will not be able to fly on Wednesday, as Iyog said the flight would be rescheduled on Thursday.

ZEST Air offers all-you-can-drink Zest-O juice

Zest Airways, Inc. intends to slug it out with the big boys in the airline industry by offering competitive rates and all the Zest-O juice you can drink in flight.

Zest Air will launch its maiden flight between Davao and Manila on March 1. Mark E. Hilario, Zest Air assistant vice-president for sales and marketing, told reporters the carrier was undeterred by the slowing economy and the price wars between bigger rivals Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

"The challenge really is how we can create a travel need through good package and competitive rates. Our focus is to give them good service and [that includes] all-you-can-drink Zest-O products," he said. Zest Air is owned by juice magnate Alfredo M. Yao, who acquired Asian Spirit, Inc. in March last year.

Neil Jason P. Ampo, passenger sales executive, said all the fleets of Asian Spirit had been mothballed since Zest Air decided it was best to start fresh. According to its Web site, the company has a fleet of two Airbus 320s and five MA60 aircraft. "It’s very hard to create awareness in the market so we want to tie up with travel agencies and hotels for a good package for local and foreign passengers," he said.

Last week, Zest Air executives met with local travel agents and operators in this city to discuss package rates for the Manila-Davao routes, to be served by a 162-seater Airbus 320 and the smaller 56-seater Xian MA60 turbo prop airplane.

A promotional all-in rate of P1,698 will offered initially for the Manila-Davao route. But Mr. Ampo said the price would go up to P1,788 after the promotional period.

The airline will also offer flights to Caticlan, Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Legaspi, Marinduque, Naga, Puerto Princesa, San Jose and Virac from Manila aside from its regular routes to Tagbilaran, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cebu, Kalibo and Davao.

Mr. Hilario said Zest Air would launch in May its Incheon, South Korea service — its first international flight, although it will be a chartered flight to accommodate Korean tourists and students coming here.

Zest Air is also looking at Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. "For now, we’re still testing the waters and we are not closing our doors to the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area)," he added

Monday, February 23, 2009

45 hurt as Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 hits turbulence over Japan

FORTY-FIVE people were injured, at least three seriously, when a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 hit turbulence on the Manila-Tokyo leg of a US-bound flight.

Ambulances took the injured to local hospitals after the jet with 408 passengers and 14 crew landed at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo at 12.19pm local time (14:19 AEDT) today, an airport official said.

The flight had been set to continue on to Los Angeles after a stopover.

"The latest information we have is that 39 passengers were injured in addition to six crew members," said Toshiaki Nohara, a spokesman for Narita Airport Authority, which runs the airport.

A middle-aged woman passenger the TBS television network: "The person in front of me flew up to the ceiling. The person behind me collapsed and looked unconscious."

A young man said: "I was really scared. I thought I would die. The plane shook so much, and my whole body hovered up in the air. Inside the cabin, everybody was screaming loudly."

Northwest Airlines spokesman Masashi Takahashi said: "Air turbulence is believed to be the cause. The turbulence occurred 25 to 30 minutes before landing, when the seat belt light was on."

"During the flight, we received a message from the pilot saying two or three people were injured. But (the pilot) probably assessed that an emergency landing was not necessary," Takahashi said.

"It is possible that the people injured did not have their seatbelts on, otherwise all of the 422 (people aboard) would have been injured as well."

Television images in Japan showed medical workers carrying two passengers off the plane, one on a stretcher and one in a wheelchair, while one young girl could be seen wearing a bandage around her head.

Among the most seriously injured were three Philippine nationals, two men and one women, Jiji news agency reported, quoting local police.

A 55-year-old US passenger said he heard screams when the plane suddenly descended before rising again, some 30 minutes before landing, the Kyodo news agency reported without naming the man.

Some people who did not have their seatbelts fastened hit their heads on the ceiling and injured their necks, he reportedly said.

The accident occurred while the Boeing 747-400 aircraft was circling over waters off Japan's Chiba Prefecture awaiting permission to land at Narita airport, officials said.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cebu Pacific opens domestic flights to Catarman, Calbayog, Tacloban City

Low-fare carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) will soon fly the Catarman, Northern Samar and Calbayog City, Samar routes.

Cebu Pacific has just acquired its seventh brand-new ATR 72-500 aircraft which it will use to fly to Catarman and Calbayog in Samar.Cebu Pacific's Michelle Eve de Guzman informed the Philippine Information Agency that the inaugural flight to Catarman will be on Valentines Day, February 14, 2009, at 7:00 o'clock in the morning.Meanwhile, the inaugural flight to Calbayog will be at 7:00 in the morning on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, Ms. De Guzman added.

To mark the announcement of these additional services, Cebu Pacific is offering a promotional P500 all-in 'Go Lite' seat sale for flights from Manila to Calbayog and Catarman.Ms. Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific VP for marketing and distribution, said "we are expanding our Manila hub operations with the arrival of our brand new ATR and will make more areas accessible through our low fares and new planes."Cebu Pacific will fly Manila-Catarman every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; and will fly Manila-Calbayog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The coming in of Cebu Pacific make three airline companies flying the Catarman, Northern Samar and Calbayog City, Samar route.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FedEx to use Clark airport as transit point for Taiwan-China flights

FedEx, the world’s largest express transportation company, announced that it will use the Clark international airport to transit its Taiwan flights to and from its newly opened hub in China. 
The company will be using Clark as a landing and takeoff site to meet its needs that comply with current aviation regulations, the company said in a statement. 

“FedEx will maintain its presence in the Philippines and remains committed to the Philippine market in the long term as we expand our operations gateway in Manila, with back-office facilities being ramped up as part of a regional strategy to centralize certain services," said FedEx. 

The announcement was made a day after FedEx officially opened its $150 million AsiaOne superhub in Baiyun International Airport in Gaungzhou, China. 

The China hub, the company’s largest facility outside the US, replaced the Subic Bay facility. An estimated 136 flights will arrive at and depart from the new hub weekly. 

Meanwhile, the Subic Bay hub, which served its Asian market for 13 years, will be the company’s regional operations point for the next 30 years. 

However, FedEx did not say why it chose the Clark airport as its transit point over its previous home at the Subic Bay International Airport. 

It will serve the Philippines through the airports in Manila and Cebu.

Last Thursday, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said that FedEx will continue to have a contingent operating in Subic Bay until April this year. Around 550 employees will be affected by its China transfer.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wings Over Asia

Folks, CHECK OUT the New Wings Over Asia site run by Meng Ng and his friends! It is a huge improvement over the old site. Have a look at and join up, its Free!

They are having a Get Together in Thailand in early March, give some thought to meeting fellow aviators from all over asia. Should be a great time to meet new people so why not head on over ...

From Subic hub, FedEx flies to Clark

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—Federal Express (FedEx), the world’s largest express transportation company, has not really left the Philippines.

A day after starting the shutdown of its Asia-Pacific hub at the Subic Bay Freeport, FedEx made its inaugural flight into the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) on Friday night to prepare this former American military aviation complex as base for its Philippine operations, which would be linked to its new hub in China, an official said.

The arrival of FedEx’s MD-11 aircraft, which landed at 10:30 p.m. here, came after the American courier giant and Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) signed in October 2008 a memorandum of agreement allowing the firm to “locate and do operations in Clark,” CIAC president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano told the Inquirer on Saturday.

The debut flight, which was done without fanfare, was part of test operations by FedEx, Luciano said.

He said this phase entailed doing technical stops for refueling and crew layover.

“Eventually, these would graduate into cargo operations,” Luciano said.

Two Inquirer sources, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the project, confirmed that FedEx has transferred all its ground equipment from Subic to Clark.

Under the agreement, FedEx will fly twice daily to and from Clark, except on Saturdays, according to one of the sources. The source said the destinations are China and Taiwan.

Luciano said China’s Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou would be the main hub of FedEx in the Asia-Pacific region.

FedEx has yet to issue an official statement on its Clark project.

The technical stop, said Luciano, is a sign that Clark is ideal and viable for FedEx’s freight-handling business.

DMIA used to be the biggest facility of the United States’ 13th Air Force in the Asia-Pacific. The Philippine government took more than a decade to turn it around, enjoying a boom in cargo operations and passenger flights since under the administration of President Macapagal-Arroyo, Luciano said.

Test flight

The test flight turned out to be a sentimental journey for the pilot, Capt. Phil John, Luciano said.

“When I met him on the plane, he told me: ‘I’m very happy to land here. The last time I was here was 20 years ago when I was with the US Air Force,’” he said.

John and his crew were received by Luciano, FedEx senior manager for operations Virgilio Mangisel and country manager Samuel David.

Another CIAC official, who asked not to be named because he has no authority to speak on the project, said CIAC and DMIA officials handled the transfer low key to avoid upsetting officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said he had been told of the Clark plan.

“This is to support their Philippine operations, not as a hub. That’s okay because FedEx remains to be in the Philippines,” Arreza said.

In an interview on Friday, Arreza said the government stands to lose P150 million annually from the pullout of FedEx hub in Subic.

The Subic Bay International Airport, home to FedEx for 14 years, is smaller than DMIA, which spans 2,500 hectares. The DMIA has two runways measuring 3.5 km each.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

With new deal, Lancair is flying high

Colombian Air Force will get 25 planes in company’s largest deal ever

Redmond kit plane manufacturer Lancair International Inc. announced a $6.5 million licensing deal Tuesday that will allow a Colombian company to build 25 Lancair aircraft for the Colombian Air Force for pilot training.

The deal with the Colombian Aviation Industry Corp. marks Lancair’s largest deal ever, according to Lancair General Manager Tim Ong.“What’s novel about the deal is most military training occurs in certificated planes, but by purchasing kit planes and completing them in Colombia, their Air Force will get a relatively high performance training aircraft at a very reasonable cost,” said Max Trescott, a Mountain View, Calif.-based aviation industry consultant. “It looks like a very good deal for everyone involved.”Kit planes, or planes built from kits, can be certified airworthy by the Federal Aviation Administration if they are at least 51 percent built by the plane’s owner. Customers are responsible for getting the planes certified by the FAA. 

This differs from manufacturers, whose planes are certified by the FAA before they’re sold.Due to the growing demands for new technology, such as carbon composite materials, the FAA has proposed more stringent manufacturing regulations for kit planes.The Lancair planes built in Colombia will not be subject to FAA regulation.

The deal helps Lancair’s bottom line, Ong said, but he added that the company has not been buffeted by the recession as much as other airplane manufacturers. Ong said new orders are down, but a backlog of orders as well as the newly announced deal means the company is likely to weather 2009 “in good shape.”To prove the point, Ong said Lancair is hiring. Many airplane manufacturers, including industry giants Cessna Aircraft Co. and Hawker Beechcraft Corp., both based in Wichita, Kan., have recently laid off thousands of employees.The Colombian deal calls for Lancair to fabricate the planes’ carbon composite components either at its plant in Redmond or its fabrication facility in the Philippines. All of the planes’ components will then be shipped to Colombia for final assembly.Ong said the Colombian Air Force currently uses older, aluminum-frame Cessna trainers that have suffered corrosion damage on account of the humidity where the trainers are based. A switch to planes made from carbon composite materials eliminates the threat of corrosion, Ong said.

Plans call for the completion of one aircraft per month in Colombia, beginning Aug. 15, and increasing to two per month by the end of the year, according to the company.The model licensed to Colombia is a variant of the company’s Legacy FG model. The new aircraft, which exists on paper only, features a wing that’s 15 percent bigger than the Legacy FG wing, leading-edge cuffs and a ventral fin, all design attributes that provide stability in flight, Ong said.“The whole point is they want to develop infrastructure, create jobs, (provide) economic development and also bring in core engineering jobs; and, second, they have to replace their fleet of trainers anyway so it was not that much more expensive to do it this way,” Ong said.Lancair was founded in Southern California in 1984 by Lance Neibauer, a graphic artist who helped pioneer the use of composite materials in aircraft construction. 

The company moved to Redmond in 1991. It later spun off the manufacturing of FAA-certified, factory-built planes into a separate company — Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Co. — which Cessna bought out of bankruptcy in 2007.

According to the company, Lancair has delivered more than 2,000 kit airplanes. It employs 54 people at its plant neighboring the Redmond Airport and approximately 90 at its plant in the Philippines, Ong said.