Bombardier Aerospace announced (24-Jul-2013) a third delay to the first CSeries test flight and now expects the first flight "to occur in the coming weeks". The aircraft manufacturer stated the CSeries aircraft’s overall integration is "progressing well" but the highly technical last steps are taking more time than initially anticipated to validate the overall systems and ongoing software integration. The company also confirmed that the integration of the CSeries' auxiliary power unit and Pratt & Whitney 'PurePower' PW1500G engines on the first flight test vehicle (FTV1) is running smoothly, allowing for testing of the aircraft’s key systems. It also confirmed the latest software upgrades on the aircraft continue to be successfully completed. Activities with Transport Canada to obtain the Flight Test Permit for FTV1 are progressing steadily and the permit is also expected in the coming weeks. Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone said that while the process has taken more time than originally expected, Bombardier is "pleased with the results and are very comfortable taking more time to ensure the required integration is finalized and the CSeries aircraft is cleared for its first flight.” Bombardier firm orders for 177 CSeries aircraft. [more - original PR]
Bombardier pushes back first test flight of CSeries
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Air Canada Part 2: Financial progress makes investment grade metrics more tangible
A decade ago it would have been unheard of for Air Canada to contemplate reaching an investment grade credit rating. The airline had emerged from bankruptcy protection, but was still struggling financially. It would teeter on the verge of another formal restructuring before setting out on a course to restructure its financial foundation – a process that has allowed the airline to improve its balance sheet and leverage.
Air Canada’s leverage targets for YE2018 will not meet the general proxy for an investment grade rating; however, its lower capital commitments and debt refinancing could create an opportunity for achieving that status beyond 2018.
Attaining an investment grade credit rating likely remains a longer term goal for Air Canada as its major financial goals in the short term remain paying down debt that is creeping up due to a fleet renewal, as well as funding growth to drive long-term shareholder value. More meaningful shareholder returns will likely occur once the company reaches what it deems as acceptable progress in debt management, and reaches a certain maturity level in growing its international network.
This is Part 2 in a two part series on Air Canada. Part 1 dealt with long haul LCC subsidiary, rouge.
Cathay Pacific adds A350 to Vancouver, preparing for Hong Kong Airlines' long haul entry
Cathay Pacific's fortunes have been weakened in recent years as competition mounts, mostly from greater regional capacity, some of which feeds other airlines' long haul hubs. Locally Cathay has faced home market competition from Hong Kong Airlines and LCC HK Express, which together have weakened Cathay on its regional services. Yet Cathay has been relatively insulated from the growing direct competition on long haul routes, which have supported its network in recent times and account for a high share of revenue.
Hong Kong Airlines is growing long haul to Australia and New Zealand, but its major threat to Cathay is on North American and European routes, to be launched with forthcoming A350s. Cathay appears to be making a pre-emptive strike by deploying its attention-getting A350 to increase flights to Vancouver, which Cathay expects to be an early Hong Kong Airlines destination.
This is the first time that Cathay is growing Vancouver since the entry of Oasis Hong Kong in 2007. After Oasis' subsequent collapse Cathay withdrew the additional capacity it had mounted. Hong Kong Airlines, however, has stronger backing – HNA – and is already known in the territory. Hong Kong Airlines' impact is guaranteed, but the question is to what extent. This depends on how Hong Kong Airlines sharpens as it becomes the city's second flagship airline.