Herb Kelleher 1931-2019

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, died on January 3, 2019. Kelleher is regarded as the father of the low-cost airline industry, pioneering the concept of cheap flights in a single-class cabin without reserved seats and a business model based around high aircraft utilisation and short turnaround times. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s words, “without Herb there would be no low-fares airlines anywhere”, reflected widespread recognition across the industry of Kelleher’s impact on the airline business. Kelleher established Southwest in 1967 to provide cheap flights between Houston, Dallas and San Antonio and over the decades it has grown to become one of the largest airlines by fleet size, with more than 700 Boeing 737s in service. Mark Broadbent

Lufthansa A380 repaint

The first Lufthansa’s Airbus A380 to be repainted in the German carrier’s new livery returned to service recently. The jet, D-AIMD (msn 48), was repainted in the revised design in Guangzhou, China, before returning to its Munich base and resuming daily flights. By the end of 2019, a quarter of the airline’s fleet will have been repainted into Lufthansa’s revised livery, released last year to a mixed reaction. With more than 300 aircraft used by Lufthansa mainline and its partners, the repainting process for the entire fleet is not due for completion until 2025. Mark Broadbent

MAEL enters administration

Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited (MAEL), established in 1967 and headquartered at London Luton Airport, entered administration in January. The company, which provided base maintenance, line maintenance, fleet technical support and a training academy, underwent restructuring in October 2018 and in December announced it was in talks with potential partners with a view to selling all or parts of the business. Its UK line maintenance operations at Gatwick, Birmingham, East Midlands, Newcastle and Glasgow have largely transferred to the Morson Group, with the Luton Airport line maintenance operations transferring to Storm Aviation. Certain Gatwick-based employees have also transferred to Boeing and some operations at Manchester and Birmingham Airports have been transferred to Flybe. No offer was received for base maintenance, which undertakes aircraft overhaul and major heavy maintenance programmes at Luton and Birmingham, so operations were suspended immediately, resulting in the redundancy of around 250 employees. Administrators KPMG will be seeking a purchaser for MAEL’s base maintenance facilities. Mark Broadbent

Qatar Airways buys into China Southern Airlines

Qatar Airways has continued its strategy of investing in airlines worldwide by buying 5% of China Southern Airlines, the sixth-largest airline worldwide by passengers carried, with 84 million passengers in 2016, so the partnership clearly presents an opportunity for Qatar Airways to access the fast-growing Chinese market. It is the latest investment by the Gulf carrier in airlines worldwide after it earlier purchased a 20% stake in IAG, 9.9% of LATAM and 9.9% of Cathay Pacific Airways. Mark Broadbent