This week in aviation news: AJ85 carrying Brazilian soccer team crashes in Columbia, first Bombardier CS300 aircraft delivered to airBaltic, Airbus announces job cuts, U.S. flights to Havana resume after 55 years
A British Aerospace Avro RJ85 aircraft carrying members of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer club, coaches, journalists, and crew members crashed near Medellín, Columbia on Monday, killing 71 people on board. Operated by Bolivian charter airline LaMia, it is likely that the aircraft ran out of fuel and the aircraft reported an emergency before the it lost power and crashed into a mountain range approximately 18 miles south of Medellín’s airport. Preliminary reports state that the aircraft, which entered into service in 1999, was operating nearly at its maximum range. The soccer team was on its way to play in a championship game in Columbia. Among the six survivors pulled from the crash were three players, two flight crew members, and one journalist. British investigators have travelled to Columbia to determine the cause of the crash.
The first Bombardier CS300 aircraft, the larger member of the CSeries family, was delivered to airBaltic on Monday. The aircraft will enter service on December 14 with a flight between Riga and Amsterdam. Latvia’s flagship carrier, airBaltic has a total of 20 of the 145-seat CS300 aircraft on order. “We are thrilled to be taking home the first CS300 aircraft – the newest member of the most innovative and technologically advanced family of airliners in the world,” said Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer, airBaltic. “With its longer range capabilities, lower fuel burn and reduced noise emissions compared to other airliners in its segment, the CS300 aircraft will enable airBaltic to open new routes and connect people all across Europe, while offering passengers an unparalleled in-flight experience.”
A part of the restructuring plan announced in September, Airbus plans to cut 1,164 jobs through the middle of next year. Airbus also hopes to negotiate early retirements, voluntary leave, and around 300 transfers for its affected employees. On January 1, Airbus Group will merge with Bombardier Commercial Airplanes, creating the need for restructuring. “These reductions will mainly affect support and integrated functions as well as the CTO organization. The merger will also conclude the company’s headquarters move from Paris and Munich to Toulouse… At the same time, Airbus Group is preparing the future by continuing to invest in developing core competences; around 230 positions will be created to secure critical skills needed for the company’s way ahead in the era of digital transformation,” Airbus said.
Amidst improving United States-Cuba relations, the first commercial flight from the United States to Havana was completed on Monday, the first in 55 years. American Airlines flight 17 took off from Miami early Monday morning, landing in Havana after approximately 40 minutes of flight time. New York-based JetBlue also began operating regularly scheduled flights to Cuba, and flight 243 also successfully made its way to Havana on Monday morning. While American and JetBlue will operate a majority of flights from the United States, Havana service was also granted to Alaska, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, and United.