ANZ becomes Virgin Blue shareholder

Air New Zealand is taking its relationship with Virgin Blue up a notch, saying it has become a substantial shareholder in the Australian-based airline it is forming a trans-Tasman alliance with.

Air New Zealand has notified the ASX and NZX that it has become a substantial shareholder in Virgin Blue, and plans to build its holding to between 10 per cent and 14.99 per cent. Companies are considered to be substantial shareholders when they hold 5 per cent or more of a company.

Virgin Group, the United Kingdom-based company founded by Sir Richard Branson, has a 26 per cent shareholding in Virgin Blue.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said his airline had no intention of making a takeover bid for Virgin Blue. He told Virgin Blue’s chief executive, John Borghetti, this in a telephone call today.

“The investment in Virgin Blue is part of Air New Zealand’s strategy to develop scale and reach in this region. The Tasman alliance with Virgin Blue was the first step in this strategy.

“This investment cements the emerging relationship between our two airlines and demonstrates the confidence we have in Virgin Blue both as an entity and as a partner for Air New Zealand,” said Mr Fyfe.

Last year Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue won approval from Transport Minister Steven Joyce to co-operate on routes across the Tasman Sea. The decision followed approval from Australia’s antitrust regulator, which reversed its preliminary view, after the two airlines gave guarantees on growth in capacity.

Air New Zealand is majority owned by the New Zealand Government.

The airline said today that it has obtained Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval to purchase up to 14.99 per cent of Virgin Blue, a shareholding which would keep the total foreign ownership of Virgin Blue within the statutory limit of 49 per cent.

Air NZ did not comment on how it funded the purchase.

Air New Zealand intends to make a further announcement about the shareholding to the NZX and ASX before the commencement of market trading tomorrow.

Source: New Zealand Herald. 20 Jan 2011

Posted in Airlines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

American Airlines orders 2 Boeing 777s

American Airlines announced on Wednesday it has exercised options for two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for long-haul international flights.

Boeing said American was the first U.S. airline to order the extended-range version of the 777-300, which can seat up to 365 passengers.

The 777-300′s list price is $284 million, but aircraft makers routinely give discounts to good customers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Thomas Horton, president of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., said the two planes would help in the company’s plans to increase international flying with partners British Airways and Japan Airlines.

Posted in Aircraft, Airlines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Korean Air to launch A380 in June 2011

Korean Air has announced that its A380 launch schedule between Seoul and Tokyo and Hong Kong will start on 1st June. Tickets are now on sale.

The airline will begin its A380 service between Tokyo/Narita and Seoul/Incheon on 1st June, with the flight leaving Incheon International Airport at 10:10 a.m. Once the plane returns to Seoul/Incheon, the plane will then depart for Hong Kong that afternoon.

Korean Air will gradually expand its A380 service to Bangkok in July, once the second A380 arrives. The third A380 will launch service to New York from August, and fourth A380 to LA in October.

Korean Air’s A380 is one of the most spacious in the industry. Korean Air’s Business Class, called Prestige Class, will have 94 full-flat sleepers with 188cm (74 inches) between seats and extra large seat partitions offering the comfort and privacy normally reserved for First Class passengers on other airlines. The Economy Class seats are spaced at 86cm (34 inches) apart and Korean Air’s Prestige Class pitch is 188cm (74 inches).

The airline’s A380 will have a total of only 407 seats: 12 First Class and 301 Economy Class seats on the first level, and the 94 Prestige Class seats on the upper deck.  It is the first airline to devote the entire A380 second level to the business flyer.

Korean Air has ordered ten A380 aircraft with the first five to be delivered by the end of 2011 and an additional five by 2014.

The introduction of the super jumbo aircraft is expected to increase passengers from China, Japan, and East Asia transferring to the US and Europe, accelerating Incheon International Airport’s goal of becoming a global aviation hub.

Posted in Aircraft, Airlines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment