This week in aviation news: Pakistan International Airways flight crashes, IATA announces high year-to-year growth in air freight for the month of October, Norwegian Air Shuttle gains approval for U.S. operations
A Pakistan International Airways ATR 42-500 crashed into a hillside near Havelian on Wednesday, killing all 48 passengers and crew members on board. Flight PK661 originated in Chitral en route to Islamabad, a one-hour ten-minute flight. About forty-four minutes into the flight the aircraft reported an engine issue and that it was descending. A minute later the distress call was issued, and all contact with the aircraft was lost. Among the 48 people on board were 42 passengers, five crew members, and one ground engineer. ATR expressed its sympathies for those affected by the crash and stated that the incident is under investigation.
This week, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that worldwide air freight demand rose by 8.2% year-to-year in October. This signifies the fastest growth of the market within the past 18 months. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said,"It remains to be seen how long this growth trend will endure after the year-end peak period and we still face headwinds from weak global trade. But there are some encouraging signs. The peak has been stronger than expected. And purchasing managers are reporting a pick-up in new export orders. So we will enter 2017 propelled by some much-needed positive momentum." IATA noted several possible factors for the positive growth, including a shift to air cargo after the collapse of South Korean shipping firm Hanjin Shipping Company in August, and a possible reliance on last-minute air shipping in response to weak market conditions early this year. Regionally, the Middle East saw the highest year-on-year change for October, a 9.2% total increase with Asian-Pacific airlines in second with a 7.8% increase.
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) has gained permission to fly in and out of the United States, according to a Department of Transportation decision made effective December 2. The highly controversial choice ends a three-year long battle against both Norwegian and American labor unions, who fear that the low-cost carrier will use the DOT decision to employ workers from underprivileged countries, enabling them to bypass Norway’s labor laws. SWAPA, Southwest Airlines’ pilots union, may still fight the decision. Vegard Einan, a spokesperson for Parat, Norway’s aviation labor union said, “we know that Norwegian has used Asian labor, and that they want to open routes and fly to other parts of the world. We fear that American and European workers will not have the chance to compete with wages and working conditions from other continents.” However, NAS stressed that the decision will offer customers lower fares and more flexibility in international air travel.