BRITON BREAKS INTO ESA ASTRONAUT CORPS
SPACEFLIGHT For the first time the European Space Agency has selected a UK citizen be an astronaut. Former British Army air corps major and Boeing Apache pilot Timothy Peake and his five classmates from Denmark, France, Germany and Italy start 18 months of basic training in September and could be in space by 2015. The third ESA intake since 1978 also includes its second woman, Italian air force jet fighter pilot Samantha Cristoforetti.
EMIRATES FULL-YEAR PROFIT FALLS 80%
RESULTS Record fuel prices in the first six months of last year and the economic climate hit Emirates Airline, where 2008 net profits were down 80% to 982 million dirhams ($268 million). At group level, profits were down 72% to 1.49 billion dirhams despite revenues rising more than 10% to 46.3 billion dirhams. Emirates Group chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum says "the outlook is not improving" but "our development plans remain unchanged".
FIRST PRODUCTION CJ4 TAKES SHAPE
LIGHT JETS Cessna has mated the wing and fuselage of the third Citation CJ4 production conforming aircraft, the first of the six-seat light jet types to be assembled with production tooling on the new assembly line. Three aircraft - a prototype and serial numbers 001 and 002 - have clocked up more than 800h of flight-testing to date and the $8.4 million aircraft is earmarked for certification later this year and service entry in early 2010.
AIR FRANCE CONFIRMS HEAVY FULL-YEAR LOSSES
FUEL Air France-KLM is blaming fuel pricing, its hedging policy and the economic downturn for a fourth-quarter operating loss of €574 million ($781 million) and a full-year net loss of €814 million against the previous year's €756 million profit, as revenues stayed flat at just under €24 billion for the year. Fuel hedging generated a negative impact amounting to €234 million.
ALITALIA TO JOIN TRANSATLANTIC JOINT VENTURE
AIRLINES A transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, covering a quarter of all transatlantic capacity, will ultimately be extended to include Alitalia. Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon says: "It wasn't possible to transfer the anti-trust immunity obtained by the old Alitalia to the new Alitalia. We have to apply for anti-trust, but as soon as it is sorted out the new Alitalia will be able to join the new joint venture."
LOWER FARES FAIL TO PROP UP PASSENGER DEMAND
DEMAND The number of passengers travelling on US carriers in April fell 6.3% year-over-year despite declining ticket prices, according to US airline lobbying group the Air Transport Association of America. The decline represents a slight slowing of March's 10% year-on-year decline, but this may be due to Easter falling in April this year versus March last year.
LUFTHANSA DEMANDS PROOF OF BMI'S LIQUIDITY
DISPUTE Lufthansa says it will not proceed with its agreed acquisition of BMI unless the UK carrier can show sufficient liquidity to operate for 12 months - UK Civil Aviation Authority assessments only cover three. Meanwhile, BMI majority owner Sir Michael Bishop has launched a UK court action to force Lufthansa to complete the deal, which would see its stake rise to 80%, from 30% today.