Aircalin inks first Airbus A330neo order in Oceania market

first_imgThe toe-to-toe battle for aircraft sales in the Pacific region continues with Airbus registering a win on Tuesday with a maiden A330neo deal in the Oceania market.New Caledonian carrier Aircalin signed an agreement for two A320neos and two A330-900 aircraft at a ceremony in the French territory but has yet to reveal details about engines or cabin configuration.The narrow bodies will be deployed on existing regional routes such as Australia and New Zealand, while the A330neos will boost services to Japan as well as potentially open new routes to destinations such as China.Airbus touts the A330neo as the most cost-efficient aircraft in its size category,  offering a 14 per cent reduction in fuel burn,  a longer non-stop flying range of up to 4000 nautical miles and the lowest maintenance costs of any aircraft.It hopes other airlines will take note of the Aircalin decision.“They may only be a small airline but I think they’re well known for being very well run, very dependable and all of that,’’ Airbus executive vice president Europe, Africa and the Pacific Christopher Buckley told AirlineRatings from Noumea. “Hopefully it will lead to a few other A330neos elsewhere …  so it’s an important one for us.’’Although not the biggest of markets,  Oceania —  which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands —  is still forecast to require more than 1000 new aircraft over the next 20 years worth $US160 billion.  Passenger traffic in the region is expected to grow at a respectable clip of  4.7 per cent per year.Both major manufacturers are counting coup wherever they can and Buckley conceded competition was  tough.Boeing announced last week that Fiji Airways had inked a deal to replace five Boeing 737s with  five B737 MAX’s to be used on the carrier’s short- and medium- haul network to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The first two of the five brand new B737 MAX 8 aircraft will arrive in 2018 with the others coming a year later.Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said the decision had been made after “an extremely exhaustive procurement and selection process’’ that highlighted improved operating economics and product enhancements as compelling reasons for the decision.It was a similar story at Aircalin on Tuesday as chief executive Didier Tappero outlined the reasons for sticking with Airbus.“As part of our plan to boost tourism to New Caledonia, Aircalin has made a strategic decision to renew its complete fleet with the A320neo and the A330neo to grow routes and connect New Caledonia to the region,” Tappero said. “The neo aircraft,  with its state-of-the-art technology,  will burn less fuel, lower our operational costs and offer our loyal passengers the highest standards in cabin comfort.”Buckley argues his US rival  is competing even more aggressively because it needed to  fill  737 MAX production slots as it continues to ramp up the rate at its Seattle factory. But he said  Airbus was  still ahead.He cited one Airbus advantage as the flexibility provided by the bigger A321neo, a plane taken by Air New Zealand and which gives the A320 family a variety of ranges and capacities. He also believed the A320 family  was best for the passengers and had superior economics.“We never underestimate the competition out there,’’ he said. “We just have to make sure the airlines understand exactly what our aircraft can do. ‘’One sale Airbus is keen to make in Oceania was highlighted on Friday when latest version of Airbus A350, the bigger A350-1000, took to the air on its first test flight.The A350-900 is already in service and Buckley said the manufacturer was pleased with the way it was travelling,  despite some “little niggles’’.“It wouldn’t be any secret to say we’d certainly love to see some 350s in this part of the world,’’ he said, noting there were long-term opportunities for he aircraft as Boeing 777 replacement at Air New Zealand and as a Boeing 747 replacement at Qantas.Airbus is particularly interested in Qantas plans for ultra long-haul routes to destinations such as Europe and is introducing a ULR version of the A350-900 for Singapore Airlines.“We’d be extremely interested in trying to make something work at Qantas with future derivatives, what we might call an ultra-long range version of the 350-900s and potentially the -1000 as well,’’ he said, noting that the question was what Airbus could offer in the gap between its A380 superjumbo and the Boeing 787-9.“So in the long term, and I think it is quite the long term, there is a window of opportunity.’’last_img read more

Trudeau government announces 14B in new funding for First Nation child welfare

first_imgAPTN NewsFirst Nation child welfare services will see nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding over the next five years according to the 2018 federal budget released Tuesday in Ottawa.Exactly how it will be allocated is not clear, as the budget is thin on details, but it’s geared towards on-reserve services.An immediate influx of $70 million will be available until the end of April, followed by annual increases between $265-295 million.It will mean the total amount Ottawa funds for on-reserve child welfare services will jump from nearly $890 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year to about $1.12 billion allocated in 2022.The budget mentions this is part of the government’s goal of meeting demands from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that ruled in 2016 that the feds have chronically underfunded First Nations child welfare services.Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his House of Commons speech Tuesday that investments “will give better child and family service support, with a special focus on prevention, so that Indigenous children are not taken from their families and their communities.”The investment in child welfare is part of nearly $5 billion in new funding from the Trudeau government in the 2018 budget.New money is being put into several areas, including drinking water, housing and health. Self-determination programs alone will net more than $600 million over the next five years.That includes $51.4 million in the next two years for the federal government to support “Indigenous participation” at the so-called self-determination discussion tables.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new legal framework for Indigenous people about two weeks ago that is supposed to lead to self-determination and the “full and meaningful” implementation of treaties and agreements.The minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations will lead “national engagement activities” throughout the spring to determine the contents of the new framework. The government hopes to have it introduced later this year and implemented by October 2019.“This budget invests in new tools to help nations rebuild, and to accelerate self-determination and self-government based on recognition of Indigenous rights, so that our shared future is one where Indigenous peoples are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future,” said Morneau.There is new money for housing but a closer look at the budget shows the money announced in Tuesday’s budget is mostly from the previous year.Of the $1.5 billion to be spent over the next 10 years, divided up among First Nation, Inuit and Metis, all but $300 million of that comes from the 2017 budget as part of the $4 billion allocated for infrastructure.It’s just now finally being allocated.Housing critics have long said tens of billions are needed to fix the housing crisis in Indigenous communities across the country.One interesting aspect of the budget is the “distinctions-based approach” for Inuit and Metis, as well as First Nations.Through negotiations with Metis National Council, the Trudeau government has allocated $516 million over 10 years, with almost all of that going to housing. The remaining is $10 million for post-secondary education in 2018 and another $6 million for developing a health strategy.Through discussions with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the federal government is funding $27. 5 million over five years to support ITK’s Inuit-specific approach to eradicate tuberculosis. As well, another $82 million for creating a permanent Inuit Health Survey.There is also a distinctions-based approach when it comes to employment with the rebranding of the former Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Program.Nearly $2 billion will be invested in the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program over the next five years. Nearly $440 million of that is new funding.Metis National Council will receive $325 million, Inuit get $161 million, urban groups (non-status) will get $213 million as part of the program.The rest goes to First Nations.There also appears to be significant investments in First Nations health. Nearly $1.5 billion will be divided among areas, such as nursing stations, addiction programs and expanding “successful models” of self-determination of health services.The budget also earmarks an additional $172 million over the next three years for drinking water. That’s in addition to $1.8 billion announced in the 2016 budget for drinking water.The new funding is supposed to speed up construction and renovate existing water systems.“We have already lifted 52 long-term boil water advisories and are on track to have all others eliminated by March 2021,” said Morneau.There was no new funding for First Nations education from kindergarten to Grade 12.news@aptn.calast_img read more