The Week in brief
- United Continental Holdings experienced 15 percent growth during the fourth quarter compared to the same time period in 2009. In addition, many major steps of the United-Continental merger were completed by the end of the year. The newly expanded carrier saw a nice increase in cargo activity during the quarter, registering a 13.6 increase year-over-year, a bump that translates to $37 million. "We made a fourth-quarter profit, excluding special items, in a typically weak quarter," Jeff Smisek, president and CEO of United Continental Holdings, said in a statement. "While making significant progress integrating United and Continental, we never lost focus on running a good operation."
- The Federal Aviation Administration has given Croatia a Category 1 safety rating, which means carriers in the country can now establish new service to the U.S. The country’s civil aviation authority had previously been rated Category 2 by the ICAO, effectively halting expanded routes from Croatia.
- Passenger numbers through Bulgaria’s Sofia Airport increased by 5.2 percent to reach a record 3.3 million in 2010, thanks mainly to the growth of low-cost carriers. However, cargo and mail volumes edged up only 200 tonnes to 15,300 tonnes, well below their pre-crisis peak.
- Israel’s airports handled 302,900 tonnes of air cargo in 2010, an increase of 10.4 percent. The main domestic carrier, El Al, achieved a 19.6 percent increase to 57,650 tonnes of cargo. Israeli freighter operator CAL saw a 6.7 percent reduction in volumes to 49,000 tonnes for the full year. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport handled 26,200 tonnes of cargo in December, down 8.4 percent on a year earlier, according to the Israel Airports Authority.
- Airbus and Boeing have secured new commitments for planes from Alaska Airlines and GE Capital Aviation Services. Alaska has ordered its first 13 737-900ER aircraft and two additional 737-800 planes from Boeing at a list price of $1.3 billion. The airline is currently operating 114 737s. Airbus has agreed to deliver an additional 12 A330-300 craft to GE Capital. The company had already ordered 20 planes.
- Ruslan International has flown its first AN-124 — carrying 105 tonnes of specialized drilling equipment — from Australia after proving to the country's Department of Infrastructure and Transportation that its fleet complies with Chapter 3 ICAO noise standards. The company had to submit noise certificates for its entire fleet before getting the OK to fly. Ruslan markets and manages the combined fleet of Antonov Airlines and Volga Dnepr Airlines.
- The UK-based animal protection agency BUAV has asked Air Canada to stop transporting Chinese monkeys destined for research facilities due to the harsh treatment of the animals. A current employee has alleged that Air Canada keeps the animals in cramped conditions at the airport for 15 hours before flying them to their final destination. According to the organization, Air Canada is among a small number of carriers who still transport research-bound monkeys.