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MASwings Takes Delivery Of First ATR 72-500 Aircraft

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 -- MASwings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, Friday took delivery of its first ATR 72-500 aircraft at a ceremony held in Toulouse, France.

The airline has put in a firm order of seven ATR 72-500 value at US$128.1 million with options for an additional three aircraft va
lued at US$54.9 million, it said.

The other six aircraft will be delivered next year and all the planes will be deployed in Sabah and Sarawak.

MASwings managing director Dr Amin Khan said the fleet renewal was taken in response to the government's request to enable the airline to expand its services in Sabah and Sarawak.

"These new aircraft will enable us to expand our capacity by 150 percent, meeting the future demand in air travel within Sabah and Sarawak and connect more customers worldwide to the two states which are ideal destinations for business and tourism," he said in a statement.

"With the environmentally friendly ATR 72-500s, we wi
ll be contributing to the development of the sustainable tourism in East Malaysia," he added.

At the same ceremony, Firefly, another subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, took delivery of its second ATR 72-500. The community airline has a total order of 10 ATR 72-500 valued at US$183 million with an option to purchase 10 more.

The aircraft delivered to MASwings and Firefly are the first ATRs to operate in the country.

"With the delivery of these aircraft, we are entering a new market with st
rong growth potential while strengthening our position as the leader in the turboprop market in Asia," said ATR chief executive officer Stephane Mayer.

MAHB Expects RM800 Mil Sales Revenue From Commercial Activities At KLIA, LCCT

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (Malaysia Airports) expects to earn about RM800 million from commercial activities at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

Malaysia Airports senior general manager (Operation Services) Datuk Azmi Murad is confident of achieving the target after Malaysia Airports earned about RM70 million from the sale of shopping retails between January and June.

To increase passenger spending, Malaysia Airports was expanding the retail space at KLIA to transform it into a bigger, colourful, vibrant and interesting shopping destination.

The transformation project called "Satellite Retail Optimisation Project (SROP) is the first of Malaysia Airports long-term efforts to make KLIA a fully-contained Airport City, he told reporters after the launching of KLIA Shopping Campaign 2008 and 2009 by Malaysia Airports chairman Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman.

The first phase of SROP, due for completion in October, is expected to be fully completed by June next year, he said.

He said SROP would provide more avenues for local entrepreneurs to have a headstart in penetrating the international market via the additional space available.

"Once fully completed, the commercial area will have 26 outlets comprising 9 retail, 9 dining and 8 service outlets," he said.

Azmi said the new commercial area would contribute and increase sales by 30 percent after it was fully operational in June next year.

Malaysia Airports General Manager (Commercial Services) Umar Bustamam said the KLIA Shopping Campaign, hosted in conjunction with KLIA's 10th anniversary, would start today and end in June 2009.

"This campaign features three shopping contests instead of the usual one. Prizes worth RM2.7 million await shoppers at KLIA and LCCT," he said.

A shopping contest will be held every 12 weeks during the campaign and any shopper who spends a minimum of RM250 will be rewarded with an instant gift.

A higher spending of RM500 will qualify them for the Grand Prize of each contest. Weekly prizes also await shoppers with each of the three shopping contests offering different prizes, he added.

MAS Joint Venture Eyes US$450 Mln Indian MRO Mart

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has sealed a deal with GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd to establish a joint venture company to tap into India's US$450 million (US$1=RM3.33) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) market.

The first full-fledged world class MRO facility to be built at the greenfield Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad in Hyderabad with an investment of between US$50 million and US$70 million including training, will provide maintenance services for narrow- and wide-bodied aircraft.

It can also handle light jets and super-jambos such as the A380.

"The MRO facility will be built on a four-six hectares. About 100ha have been earmarked specifically for aerospace-MRO activities. Our MRO venture will be located on the earmarked land and will act as an anchor to drive future aerospace-MRO development," chairman (airport business), GMR Group, Kiran Kumar Grandhi said Wednesday.

The facility will have a minimum of two or a maximum of four hangars.

"Besides MAS, four other companies have shown interests in establishing MRO facilities at the greenfield airport.

"Currently, there is no full-fledged MRO facility available in India and except for Air India and Indian Airlines, which have in-house MRO facilities the other airline companies send their aircraft for maintenance either in Middle East or South-East Asia's MRO facilities," he said after signing the agreement here Wednesday.

Both Air India and Indian Airlines only capture 50 percent of the US$450 million MRO market in India, which grows at about 17 percent annually.

The Indian market has some 300 aircraft in operations currently. Hence, the MRO business is expected to growth at a phenomenal rate, as the Indian aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world. More than 200 new aircraft will be headed for India in the next two years, while 2,000 new planes are expected in 8-10 years.

"We hope to cater to both Indian-registered aircraft as well as select foreign carriers. In addition, we strive to expand the level of technical competence of the facility to generate a multitude of job opportunities for the readily-available engineering talent in India," said Kiran.

MAS, he said, would begin the venture with the training of 70 engineering students that have been hired by GMR.

"It will also help to design the facility, ensure appropriate civil aviation certificate and help commission and manage the joint venture," he said.

MAS' chief financial officer and executive director, Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin, said the facility was expected to be ready by the third quarter of 2009.

Azmil, who declined to disclose MAS' equity participation in the joint venture company, said it would not be a major stakeholder.

"We are still talking about that (stake). (For now) we will provide expertise and experience," he said.

He said MAS was committed to building MRO facilities in Subang and Kuala Lumpur International Airport but at the same time will keep its options open to venture into other markets.

"What MAS is doing is similar to what other MRO service providers are doing. We are committed in pushing ahead in the MRO business," he said.

Asked if it was in significant discussion, he said: "Possible. But it is premature to talk about it at this point of time."

MAS, he said, expected third-party revenue from MRO business to grow to RM400 million this year and "it is fast becoming an important contributor to the group."

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Once you have logged in and entered your team, click on the 'Leagues'
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Enjoy the game.


Latest Incident at Dubai Airport

A number of containers got shifted toward the tail of the plane upsetting the balance of the aircraft and its nose went in the air.

How Airlines Deal with 'Customers of Size'

You're paying more to travel, and not just for your plane ticket. Every pound counts as the number of carriers charging for all pieces of checked luggage racks up. So it stands to reason that the public might wonder why airlines don't charge extra for passengers with significant overages of a more, uh, personal nature.

Southwest Airlines calls them "customers of size." Medical professionals would use the term "clinically obese." Bloggers and message board habitu├ęs use names that are less polite, but all imply that the passengers in question are overweight.

Many people assume that obese people are getting something of a free ride. But are they? Nearly all airlines keep it very quiet, but many have policies — informal or formal — in place to make sure that passengers of size carry their own weight.

It's a tricky business, has found. In some places — Canada, for instance — it just got trickier. A winter ruling barred Canadian airlines from discriminating against "clinically obese" customers. Southwest was successfully sued by a passenger who was told she needed to purchase a second seat after she had already boarded — too late, the ruling found. An ample Air France passenger won a case after citing humiliation at the hands of staff who wrapped packing tape around him in public to prove that he was too fat to sit one seat, forcing him to purchase another.

Here's the funny part about those lawsuits: At the time, both Southwest and Air France had official policies in place for dealing with overweight passengers. Southwest's policy has been around for years. It states that if staff members determine that the passenger will not fit in one seat, the passenger must purchase a second, a cost which will be reimbursed if the flight is not full.

Air France's policy was looser, urging passengers who knew that not having an empty seat next to them would be a problem, to handle it on their own in advance. (As of this writing, Air France passengers "with a high body mass" are warned that if they do not purchase an extra seat, they may not be allowed to board.) In the end, both airlines were punished for being up-front with their customers, even if the execution of the policy perhaps needed work. This is, after all, a terrifically sensitive matter.

Different airlines, different policies

Perhaps that is why, for many airlines, the topic tends to be along the lines of 'That Which We Don't Speak Of.' Ask United Airlines what rules it has in place for dealing with the situation, and you'll hear a pregnant pause, followed by a terse "We have no policy."

American Airlines is more forthcoming, but hastens to emphasize that in no way does it require its passengers to purchase two seats. Spokesman Tim Wagner said passengers whose weight exceeds 250 pounds should know that there are "possible limitations that could result in American not being able to accommodate them." He also said that the airline urges passengers to "recognize ahead of time that they may need to purchase two seats." Wagner also cited an FAA regulation to which all airlines adhere: If you can't snap the seatbelt (after the extension is added, that is) you can't fly.

JetBlue Airways doesn't mind taking a more straightforward stance. Spokesperson Alison Eshelman said its policy "requires" larger customers who need an additional seat for their own comfort to buy one in advance. If they do not, and the crew cannot accommodate them, they will be required to buy the seat in any case, with no refunds. (However, Eshelman noted, truthfully, that JetBlue does offer its passengers a little more wiggle room with its larger-than-average seat width on board the airline's A320 aircraft.)

Does size matter?

But what of the growing awareness among the traveling public that it costs the airline more to transport an obese passenger than a passenger of average weight? Those hoping for any type of joy in that department should sit on their hands. Delta's Susan Elliott said that the airline "has no plans to implement any policy that discriminates against any of our passengers." Translation: This is one hot potato nobody is going to touch.

Here's a look at how different airlines deal with the "customer of size."

Southwest Airlines

Passengers should plan on purchasing an extra seat or risk being asked to do so at the airport by staff. If the flight is not sold out, the passenger may claim a refund.

American Airlines

The airline states that passengers over 250 pounds should recognize that there may be limitations to the service that the airline can provide. However, it does not require that you purchase an extra seat automatically.

United Airlines

The airline has no policy whatsoever.

Midwest Airlines

As with Southwest, passengers are encouraged to know their needs in advance. If staff members determine that two seats are required, the seat will be sold at the lowest possible fare, with a refund available if there is one or more open seats on the flight.

Air France

Passengers with "high body mass" may receive a 25 percent discount on an extra seat, knowing that if they choose not to buy the seat, they may risk not being able to fly.

JetBlue Airways

You are required to buy a second seat, and there are no refunds.

Delta Air Lines

The airline "works to accommodate" passengers with special needs. Upon request and availability, it will try to make sure the next seat is unoccupied. However, if the plane is full, you will most likely be asked to leave the flight and buy a second seat on the next available flight. (You can actually count on this being a fairly typical practice on most airlines.)


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