American’s fleet changeover

Replacements at major network carriers continue, with American Airlines the latest to take on fresh aircraft in receiving its initial Airbus A321neo, N400AN (msn 8647). The jet is the first of 100 A321neos for the carrier as it modernises the fleet it uses for transcontinental and thin intercontinental services. American’s A321neos have the Airbus Cabin-Flex option that features a new door configuration and are also the first A321neos to feature Airbus’ new XL overhead baggage bins. Mark Broadbent

Norwegian defers narrowbodies

Low-cost carrier Norwegian is putting the handbrake on growth as it seeks to return to profitability after reporting a net loss of NOK 1,454 million for 2018 in its full-year results released in February. The airline is embarking on what it called “an extensive cost reduction programme” involving route network changes and divesting some aircraft. Its Arctic Aviation Assets subsidiary has signed agreements with Airbus and Boeing to defer deliveries of new aircraft, which will reduce capital expenditure, with 12 737 MAX 8s delayed from 2020 to 2023 and 2024 and four A321LR deliveries postponed from 2019 to 2020. Mark Broadbent

United’s premium push

United Airlines is upping the number of premium seats in its airliners. The carrier will reconfigure 21 Boeing 767-300ERs with 16 more Polaris business-class and 22 Premium Plus seats and add four more first-class seats to its Airbus A320 family aircraft, as well as introducing first class and premium economy into its CRJ550s (see separate item). Mark Broadbent

Air France dumps Joon

Air France is to ditch its Joon brand and reintegrate its A330s, A320s and employees back into mainline Air France. The carrier was launched to appeal to a younger demographic, but Air France said: “The brand was difficult to understand from the outset for customers, for employees, for markets and for investors”. Meanwhile, Air France has announced its regional feeder HOP! will be rebranded as Air France HOP to better highlight the link with its parent company. Mark Broadbent

Africa overtakes Dubai

Ethiopia has superseded Dubai as the top transit hub for airliner passengers inbound to Africa. Travel consultancy ForwardKeys recently announced the hub in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa Airport, has for the last five years increased the number of international transfer passengers to sub- Saharan Africa, surpassing Dubai in 2018. The number of long-haul transfers via Addis Ababa rose by 85% over the last five years and continues to grow. Ethiopian Airlines said the expansion at Addis Ababa Airport and the introduction of airline partnerships will continue to drive passenger growth at the hub. Guy Martin