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Friday, March 16, 2007

Quick Takes

Topics: Midwest, go!Express, Chinese Regional Jet, Pacific Wings, HondaJet Cape & Islands, Airline Liquor Licenses

Midwest Connect Goes Non Stop to BWI, Raleigh
Using SkyWest’s (SKYW) new operation as a Midwest Connect, Midwest Airlines (MEH) is extending its reach from Milwaukee (MKE) to Raleigh, N.C. beginning June 1, becoming the only service in the market. It will use 50-seat CJRs. SkyWest will also be connecting MKE to Baltimore/Washington International Airport, upgrading current service from the 32-seat Dornier 328Jet. In addition, SkyWay, Midwest’s wholly-owned subsidiary, will upgrade current Beech 1900 service between MKE and Des Moines to the 327Jet. The airline is also adding two daily nonstop roundtrips on weekdays and an additional roundtrip on weekends to MKE-Marquette, Mich. market through September 8.

go!Express to Launch Next Month
Mesa’s (MESA) code-share partnership with Mokulele Airlines takes flight on April 16 with 12 flights daily between Kona and Kahului, Kahului and Kapalua and between Kapalua and Honolulu. In celebrating the launch, go! is offering its usual $19 one-way fares on all of its inter-island routes for tickets purchased between March 16 and March 23 for travel through April 23. go!Express will use Cessna Grand Caravans. The move is complemented by the launch of go!Vacations and go!Active, holiday packages and recreational activities through its website. Mesa is modeling its Hawaiian service on the successful diversification of RyanAir.

First Flight Set for Chinese Regional Jet
In the midst of planning for a new commercial jet scheduled for introduction in 2020, competing with Airbus and Boeing, the 70- to 110-seat ARJ-21 – Advanced Regional Jet – is scheduled to begin flight tests in Spring 2008. It has already received more than 70 orders from Chinese airlines. In addition, Mesa (MESA) CEO Jonathan Ornstein expressed interest in the aircraft during recent conversations with Wall Street analysts, saying it would go into the new joint venture with Shenzhen Airlines for a new regional jet service. China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I) is building the plane in Xi’an in partnership with 19 foreign parts suppliers. The Chinese market for new mainliner jet is expect to be 2,230 between now and 2025, prompting the government to quicken development plans to ensure it gains market share. China licensed production of MD aircraft for years but abandoned previous large-aircraft projects in the 1970s. However, it is a major parts supplier for Boeing and Airbus and, in 2004, cut a deal with Embraer (ERJ), which became the first foreign manufacturer to establish a Chinese factory.

Pacific Wings Gets Community Endorsement
In a snub to Mesa Airlines, local New Mexico communities unanimously endorsed Pacific Wings as the Essential Air Service provider on Hobbs and Carlsbad, N.M.- Albuquerque routes. The carrier would replace Mesa Subsidiary Air Midwest and bring Pacific Wings to the mainland, even as it competes with Mesa Subsidiary go! in the Hawaiian islands. Final approval is needed from the Department of Transportation. Related Story
Local officials said the vote showed community dissatisfaction. "Mesa has been here over 20 years, and I think the bottom line was that Eddie County and Lea County said there had to be a change,” one told the Honolulu Star Bulletin. “At one level, it had nothing to do with Pacific Wings. It had to do with a long-building dissatisfaction with Mesa."
Pacific Wings President Greg Kahlstorf has been meeting for over a month with local officials touting low fares of $50 and $75 one way, about half what Mesa was charging before it launched recent fare cuts. It is also promising flexible and expanded routes and to listen to local concerns about air service.
The service, using a minimum of four planes, could begin by June 1, according to Kahlstorf. In addition to the new subsidized routes, Pacific Wings hopes to offer service at Santa Fe, Ruidoso, Roswell as well as El Paso, Midland/Odessa and Lubbock, Tex.

Three Partners Join HondaJet
Honda Aircraft Company, Inc., today announced agreements with GKN Aerospace -- Alabama, Avcorp Industries, Inc., and Garmin International Inc., as major component suppliers for the HondaJet advanced light jet, to be produced in Greensboro, North Carolina. GKN, of Tallassee, Ala., will supply the fuselage structural sub-assembly; while Garmin, of Olathe, Kansas, will supply a state-of-the-art avionics system specifically tailored for HondaJet. Avcorp, of Delta, British Columbia, will supply HondaJet's wing structural sub-assembly. Honda Aircraft Company on February 9 announced plans to establish its world headquarters and jet plant in Greensboro with construction of new facilities at Piedmont Triad International airport. Scheduled to open late this year, the 215,000 square foot headquarters will be the center of all activity related to HondaJet, including type certification, all sales, marketing and service support activity, and continued research and development activities. HACI expects to employ more than 300 at its headquarters and manufacturing facilities once the plant reaches full production. The HACI production facility, to be built adjacent to the headquarters, will handle production of HondaJet, including final assembly of all structural components and parts, aircraft system assembly and installation, completion of the interior, and painting. The Greensboro production facility is scheduled to begin deliveries to customers in 2010.

Competition in the Cape & Islands Market
In what Provinctown-Boston Airlines used to call summer skimming, Tradewind Aviation has planned premium scheduled service between Teterboro, NJ to Martha’s Vineyard, dubbing it the Vineyard Shuttle, the new service uses Cessna Grand Caravans, just as it does with its Nantucket Shuttle.
"We are excited to be expanding our service to Martha's Vineyard," says Eric Zipkin, president of Tradewind. "Visitors no longer have to settle for the hassles of traditional airline travel or pay for an entire plane when they only need a seat or two. The Vineyard Shuttle allows visitors and commuters to effectively share executive aircraft and avoid the hassles of commercial airline terminals including TSA security and parking.”
Tradewind Aviation provides executive charter service throughout the country, premium scheduled service in the Northeast and the Caribbean, private jet cards and aircraft management services. From its home base in the New York metro area, Tradewind offers premium scheduled service from Teterboro and Westchester Airports to Nantucket and from Teterboro to Martha's Vineyard. From November to April, Tradewind operates a fleet of aircraft in the Caribbean providing scheduled service from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to St. Barthelemy, FWI, becoming the first US turbine air carrier certified to fly commercial flights into St. Barth. Tradewind Aviation operates four jets and nine turboprop aircraft, including two Citation CJ3s, two Citation Bravos, five Cessna Grand Caravans, three Pilatus PC-12s and a Socata TBM 700.

Airlines Forced to Apply for Liquor Licenses
Republic and Shuttle America are applying for New Mexico liquor licenses after the state sent cease-and-desist orders to USAirways (LCC), Northwest (NWACQ) and Frontier (FRNT), prohibiting the companies from serving alcohol on flights serving the state. The order requires the airlines, and others serving the state to obtain liquor licenses.
The move was prompted by a fatal car crash of a USAirways passenger that had been served during the flight and later purchased a six pack of beer as he drove to Santa Fe. He drove the wrong way on Interstate 25, killing five in a family. Only 13 states do not require airline liquor licenses. New Mexico also wants flight attendants to undergo the state-certified training on how to serve alcohol.

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