Airlines, Airports and Airliners 13 April 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This Week in Airlines, Airports and Airliners

IATA - Air travel growth continues in February.

Emirates embarks on a new voyage in ultra-lux cruise liners.

Schiphol to be quieter, cleaner and better.

HK Express receives first A321neo.

ATR set for growth in 2023.

With E-Power across the apron: Lufthansa LEOS takes delivery of second all-electric aircraft tractor Phoenix E.

Schiphol now offering pre-booked time slots for security check.

Airbus and China aviation industry sign next phase in partnership.

Bonus Video - 1929 Travel Air Flight


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced continued strong growth in air travel demand, based on February 2023 traffic results.

Total traffic in February 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose 55.5% compared to February 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 84.9% of February 2019 levels.

Domestic traffic for February rose 25.2% compared to the year-ago period. Total February 2023 domestic traffic was at 97.2% of the February 2019 level.

International traffic climbed 89.7% versus February 2022 with all markets recording strong growth, led once again by carriers in the Asia-Pacific region. International RPKs reached 77.5% of February 2019 levels.

"Despite the uncertain economic signals, demand for air travel continues to be strong across the globe and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The industry is now just about 15% below 2019 levels of demand and that gap is narrowing each month," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

International Passenger Markets
Asia-Pacific airlines had a 378.7% increase in February 2023 traffic compared to February 2022, maintaining the very positive momentum of the past few months since the lifting of travel restrictions in the region. Capacity rose 176.4% and the load factor increased 34.9 percentage points to 82.5%, the second highest among the regions.

European carriers posted a 47.9% traffic rise versus February 2022. Capacity climbed 29.7%, and load factor rose 9.1 percentage points to 73.7%, which was the lowest among the regions.

Middle Eastern airlines saw a 75.0% traffic increase compared to February a year ago. Capacity climbed 40.5% and load factor pushed up 15.8 percentage points to 80.0%.

North American carriers' traffic climbed 67.4% in February 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 39.5%, and load factor rose 12.8 percentage points to 76.6%.

Latin American airlines had a 44.1% traffic increase compared to the same month in 2022. February capacity climbed 34.0% and load factor rose 5.8 percentage points to 82.7%, the highest among the regions.

African airlines' traffic rose 90.7% in February 2023 versus a year ago. February capacity was up 61.7% and load factor climbed 11.4 percentage points to 75.0%.

Japan's domestic traffic surged 161.4% in February compared to a year ago and now stands at 89.9% of pre-pandemic levels.

US airlines' domestic demand rose 10.6% in February and was 0.7% ahead of February 2019 levels.

The Bottom Line
"People are flying in ever greater numbers. With the Easter and Passover holidays we are expecting large numbers of travellers to take to the skies in many parts of the world. They should do so with confidence that airlines have been rebuilding resiliency that suffered owing to the pandemic. Other participants in the air travel value chain, including airports, air navigation service providers, and airport security staff, need to have the same commitment to ensuring our customers can enjoy smooth holiday travel," said Walsh.


Emirates, widely considered the QE2 among airlines and beloved by millions worldwide for its sumptuous services in the air and on land, will now be sailing across the seven seas with its newly-launched maritime arm, Emirates Sealine.

Lucky ship-spotters and cruise aficionados witnessed glimpses of the first liner as it majestically sailed round Dubai's Palm Jumeirah earlier today on its maiden sea trial.

Emirates Sealine is promising cruisers top-tier and never-before-imagined experiences as they voyage to rarely-before-seen ports of call. It placed a titanic, multi-billion-dollar order for an initial 10 cruise ships which are currently being fitted with the latest and the best.

Having identified significant gaps in the industry's offering, Emirates Sealine will give a wide berth to convention, offering a cruise calendar outside traditional seasons. The first cruise is scheduled to flag off from Dubai Harbour on 01 April 2024, with Karachi as the maiden port of call - harking back to the airline's first-ever flight in October 1985.

Itineraries and bookings will be open from 31 June. Emirates Sealine's liners will dock at major cruise ports - charting a course from US to New Zealand - supported by the airline's colossal network.

Captain Jack Shallow, the newly appointed Chief Maritime Officer at the helm of Emirates Sealine said: "Emirates is no stranger to the seas, having been associated with powerboat racing in Dubai to Emirates Team New Zealand and more recently, the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team. While cities worldwide remain moored to challenges, Dubai is sailing smoothly at unimaginable knots and has outstanding cruise and other multi-modal transport infrastructure.

"Technology, AI and innovation in developing our future-generation cruise ships mean we can mirror the city's pace and sail at more than 50 knots per hour - nearly double the speed of the fastest ones today. We're working on providing undreamed of luxury onboard, never-before-explored itineraries and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We'll be running a tight ship to ensure we deliver on our promises to our customers. Right now, it's all hands to the deck as the team prepares for launch."

Emirates Sealine will set the industry's pace around maritime sustainability by working with vendors on sustainable maritime fuel (SMF), solar panels, recycling and waste management.

Emirates' passengers, arriving in style from across the airline's global network to Dubai, will be whisked off in custom-built electric chauffeur-driven cars from DXB to Dubai Harbour and escorted to their luxury cabins onboard, in a seamless air-land-sea journey.

The cruise fleet will feature four cabin types, offering varied and tiered levels of space, amenities, and luxury. More product and service details may be released in the future.

Over the next months, Emirates Sealine will recruit thousands of mariners and specialists with a diverse range of skills and expertise to manage operations and serve guests with the airline's signature hospitality, supporting economies across its network. Recruitment information will shortly be available on the Sealine's website.


Schiphol recently presented a series of decisions that will lead to quieter, cleaner and better aviation. It's time to give the local environment, employees and the aviation industry some perspective. Schiphol wants no aircraft to take off between 00:00 and 06:00 and none to land between 00:00 and 05:00, there will be no second Kaagbaan Runway, and private jets and the noisiest aircraft will no longer be welcome. This will lead to a reduction in the number of people experiencing noise nuisance.

"Schiphol connects the Netherlands with the rest of the world. We want to keep doing that, but we must do it better. The only way forward is to become quieter and cleaner more rapidly. We have thought about growth but too little about its impact for too long. We need to be sustainable for our employees, the local environment and the world. I realise that our choices may have significant implications for the aviation industry, but they are necessary. This shows we mean business. It is the only way, based on concrete measures, to regain the trust of employees, passengers, neighbours, politics and society." Ruud Sondag, CEO Royal Schiphol Group.

Royal Schiphol Group is going for quieter, cleaner and better - a move bolstered by several clear decisions. Schiphol will consult measures with airlines. This will allow the airport to keep the Netherlands well connected to the world:

New rules with clear limits for noise and CO2 emissions

Schiphol wants a system that focuses on the structural reduction of noise and CO2 emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement, and not on the number of air transport movements, no later than 2025-2026. This system will provide certainty that noise and emissions will be structurally reduced, and it will also stimulate innovation in the aviation sector. The government should enshrine this system in law.

Less noise nuisance and lower emissions

Schiphol wants night-time closure for a quieter environment. Aircraft will no longer take off between 00:00 and 06:00, and there will be no more landings between 00:00 and 05:00. This means 10,000 fewer night flights each year. We also want to limit the reallocation of flights to the very start or very end of the night/early morning as much as possible.

In order to reduce noise nuisance, Schiphol wants to take a stricter approach regarding noisier aircraft by gradually tightening existing standards for aircraft that are allowed to take off from and land at Schiphol.

Furthermore, Schiphol wants a ban on private jets and small business aviation, which causes a disproportionate amount of noise nuisance and CO2 emissions per passenger (around 20 times more CO2 compared to a commercial flight). About 30% to 50% of these private jet flights are to holiday destinations like Ibiza, Cannes and Innsbruck. Sufficient scheduled services are available to the most popular destinations flown to by private jets. Capacity for social traffic like police and ambulance flights will remain unchanged.

These three measures will apply no later than 2025-2026. According to current models, the number of people around Schiphol experiencing severe nuisance will fall by approximately 17,500 (16%) and the number of local residents experiencing severe sleep disturbance will fall by approximately 13,000 (54%).

No additional runway

Schiphol is abandoning plans for an additional runway - the parallel Kaagbaan Runway - and is asking the government to revoke the reservation. Land for this runway has been reserved at Rozenburg, Rijsenhout and Schiphol-Rijk. This reservation puts unnecessary pressure on the already scare space in the area. For the area to the south-east of Schiphol, which may have benefitted from the construction of an additional runway when it comes to noise nuisance, efforts are underway to implement the Minder Hinder (Less Nuisance) programme.

Together with the central government, Schiphol is setting up an environmental fund for the local area. Between now and 2030, Schiphol will be making a total of Ä70 million (Ä10 million per year) available so that investments can be made in innovative construction concepts, home insulation and area development for an improved living environment.

Safeguarding cargo

Schiphol wants to safeguard cargo by keeping 2.5% of the available take-off and landing slots available for cargo. Due to international slot regulations, cargo flights are currently struggling to keep their slots at Schiphol. Cargo provides relatively high employment opportunities and is valuable for the economy and business climate. However, cargo flights will have to adhere to new, tighter rules for noisier aircraft and the new night closure will also apply to cargo.

People first

Quieter, cleaner and better is not only about CO2, but also about people. For many, working at Schiphol is a unique experience but one that is labour intensive. The focus has been on low costs for too long and a new approach is needed: everyone at Schiphol matters. The social agreement reached with the unions was a first step. Schiphol is following through with that and considers it important that there are good terms and conditions of employment for everyone working at the airport. Schiphol is committed to better pay in all sectors, better protection of employees against emissions, less competition in the handling sector and an improvement in working conditions for all (baggage) handing employees.


Airbus has announced the successful delivery of its first Airbus A321neo to the low-cost carrier HK Express, a member of Cathay Pacific Group based in Hong Kong.

This milestone marks the first of 16 A321neo aircraft for HK Express and features the airline's latest livery, with vibrant shades of purple and white. In addition, the aircraft's winglets and empennage spots an "e" shaped journey symbol, which evokes the start of a pleasant journey with HK Express.

"We are thrilled to welcome the first A321neo to our fleet," said Mandy Ng, CEO of HK Express. "As an operator of the A320 Family, we are confident in the A321neo's game-changing ability to provide more capacity with greater sustainability. At HK Express, the A321neo is key in our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment."

"Airbus is proud to extend our relationship with the Cathay Pacific Group, and this new delivery represents a new milestone in our long relationship. The A321neo's performance and efficiency will allow HK Express to expand its network, while reducing its carbon footprint," said Anand Stanley, President Airbus Asia-Pacific.

HK Express' A321neo is powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines and can seat up to 236 passengers in Airbus' award-winning Airspace cabin, which brings unique lighting displays, more personal space and a sleek design to improve passenger experience.

HK Express is an all-Airbus operator, with its current fleet comprising 27 A320 Family aircraft, including 11A321ceo, 10 A320neo, five A320ceo and its first A321neo.

The A321neo is part of the A320neo Family, which incorporates new generation engines and Sharklets, together delivering more than 20 percent fuel and CO2 savings, as well as a 50 percent noise reduction.

To date, the A320neo Family has received more than 8,600 firm orders from over 130 customers worldwide.


After three difficult years due to Covid and a complex economic and geopolitical environment, ATR is set for growth in 2023.
In the context of industry-wide supply chain issues, ATR delivered 25 new and 11 pre-owned aircraft in 2022. Nonetheless the global ATR in-service fleet is now close to pre-Covid numbers with 1,200 aircraft flying, and the current backlog stands at a solid 160 aircraft.

Last year saw 150 new routes created with ATR aircraft. As part of its commitment to decarbonisation, ATR performed the first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight in history with a commercial aircraft, and its brand new PW127XT engine was certified and entered into service. At the same time, ATR successfully advanced the development of its aircraft family, completing the first test flight of the ATR 42-600S (Short Take-Off and Landing) and launching a feasibility study for its next generation EVO concept. These achievements showcase the commitment to connectivity, sustainability and innovation that ATR stands for.

ATR Chief Executive Officer, Nathalie Tarnaud Laude, said: "The goal for 2023 is to maintain our position as the leading regional aircraft manufacturer, by targeting at least 40 deliveries, with the ambition to ramp up production to 80 aircraft in the coming years. With their unbeatable economics, latest technologies and unrivalled environmental performance, ATR aircraft are what customers need to operate their routes profitably, despite inflation and energy uncertainty. What drives us is that sustainable regional aviation has the power to improve lives globally, providing vital connections to communities and economies, which translates into Gross Domestic Product increases and employment."

Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, the company plans to capitalise from the high replacement demand - 1,500 turboprops over the next 20 years -, to tap into underserved markets such as the United States, to increase its footprint on the freighter market, and to explore new opportunities, such as corporate, governmental and humanitarian operations.


Lufthansa ground handling specialist LEOS has added the second Phoenix E all-electric aircraft tractor from German manufacturer Goldhofer to its fleet of tow tractors. The two purely battery-electric vehicles are in operation at Frankfurt Airport and can move aircraft with a take-off weight of up to 350 tons over short and long distances between parking areas, maintenance hangars and departure positions. An additional special feature of the second electric tug is that the powerhouse is painted in retro colours and its 80s-style yellow catches the eye from afar.

In operation for over ten hours a day - fully electric
With a battery capacity of 165 kilowatt hours and a power output of 240 kilowatt, the electric tugs can move aircraft at up to 25 kilometres per hour with zero emissions and no noise. The two electric tractors are "workhorses": they transport aircraft across the apron in Frankfurt for over ten hours a day on average. The daily energy requirement for the towing jobs is sometimes twice as high as the battery capacity. The lithium-ion battery system allows rapid recharging during short work interruptions, which is done by means of a dedicated charging infrastructure. The e-tow tractors naturally "fill up" with green electricity.

Sustainability at the Lufthansa Group
The Lufthansa Group has set itself ambitious climate protection goals and aims to achieve a neutral CO2 balance by 2050. Already by 2030, the Lufthansa Group wants to halve its net CO2 emissions compared to 2019 through reduction and compensation measures. The reduction roadmap until 2030 was validated by the independent Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in August 2022. The Lufthansa Group was the first airline group in Europe with a science-based CO2 reduction target in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. For effective climate protection, the Lufthansa Group is focusing in particular on accelerated fleet modernization, the use of SAF, the continuous optimization of flight operations, and offers for its private travellers and corporate customers to make a flight or the transport of cargo more sustainable. In addition, the Lufthansa Group has been actively supporting global climate and weather research for many years.


Travellers have the possibility to reserve time slots, free of charge, for the security check at Schiphol. These pre-booked time slots are currently available to travellers flying to a destination within the Schengen Zone. Other destinations will follow shortly.

Why time slots?
By making use of reserved time slots, travellers can go through the security check in a dedicated lane and at a time they selected. This means they know exactly when they are expected at the security check. As a result, we can avoid a situation in which travellers arrive at the airport too early, causing unnecessarily long queues.

This service only applies to the security check. Travellers still need to factor in enough time for their check in and to drop off any baggage they have (in the departure hall).

How does it work?
Time slots can be reserved up to three days before departure on the Schiphol website or app. After making a booking, travellers receive a confirmation email containing a QR code. This code is scanned by a member of staff at Schiphol, who then directs them to the right security check entrance.

Schiphol is the 4th large European airport to work with time slots at security. Using time slots contributes to improved passenger sign-in patterns, a smoother flow through the security process and a better passenger experience.


During a French state visit to China, Airbus signed new cooperation agreements with China Aviation industry partners.
Witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron, Airbus CEO, Guillaume Faury signed with the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd., and Aviation Industry Corporation of China Ltd., an agreement to expand A320 Family final assembly capacity with a second line at its Tianjin site. The agreement will contribute to Airbus' overall rate objective of 75 aircraft per month in 2026 throughout its global production network.

Currently, Airbus has four A320 Family final assembly sites worldwide: Hamburg (Germany), Toulouse (France), Mobile (USA) and Tianjin (China). The Tianjin Final Assembly Line (FAL Asia) started operation in 2008 and has assembled over 600 A320 Family aircraft to date. In March 2023 the first A321neo aircraft was delivered from the line, marking a new era of enhanced A320 Family production versatility.

In addition, Airbus also signed General Terms of Agreement (GTA) with the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) covering the purchase of 160 Airbus commercial aircraft. The GTA comprises earlier announcements for 150 A320 Family aircraft and for 10 A350-900 widebody aircraft orders, reflecting the strong demand in all market segments by Chinese carriers.

Over the next 20 years, China's air traffic is forecast to grow at 5.3% annually, significantly faster than the world average of 3.6%. This will lead to a demand for 8,420 passenger and freighter aircraft between now and 2041, representing more than 20 percent of the world's total demand for around 39,500 new aircraft in the next 20 years.

In line with its sustainability strategy, Airbus and the China National Aviation Fuel Group (CNAF) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to intensify Chinese-European cooperation on the production, competitive application and common standards formulation for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). Earlier in September 2022, Airbus and CNAF contracted to support commercial and delivery flights in China to be operated with SAF. By the end of March, 17 delivery flights and a first commercial flight were facilitated by the two partners. This new cooperation agreement aims at optimising the SAF supply chain by diversifying the sources and enhancing SAF production towards the ambition of using 10 percent SAF by 2030.

"We are honoured to continue our long-standing cooperation by supporting China's civil aviation growth with our leading families of aircraft. It underpins the positive recovery momentum and prosperous outlook for the Chinese aviation market and the desire to grow sustainably with Airbus' latest generation, eco-efficient aircraft," said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. "Airbus values its partnership with the Chinese aviation stakeholders and we feel privileged to remain a partner of choice in shaping the future of civil aviation in China."

Airbus entered the Chinese market nearly 40 years ago, in 1985, when an A310 was first delivered to China Eastern Airlines. By the end of the first quarter 2023, the Airbus in service fleet in China has risen to over 2,100 aircraft, representing more than 50 percent of the market.

Bonus Video

1929 Travel Air Flight

Aviation Economy
Airlines and Airliners

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