Genghis Khan ARJ21-700s

China’s Commercial Aircraft Corporation (COMAC) is due to deliver the first of 25 ARJ21-700 90-seat regional airliners to Genghis Khan Airlines by end of the year.

The airline, with its headquarters at Hohhot Baita International Airport, is a start-up in China’s Inner Mongolia region. It will begin revenue operations in 2019 and take delivery of its 25 aircraft by 2023. COMAC has announced that it will be establishing an airliner maintenance facility in Inner Mongolia. David C Isby

MC-21’s PD-14 certified

Russia’s Irkut MC-21 airliner has had its intended Russian-built engine option certified by the Federal Air Transport Agency, it was announced on October 18. The first three Aviadivgatel PD-14 turbofans (its designation reflecting its design for its 14 tonnes (30,864lb/137kN) of thrust) will be delivered to Irkut by the end of the year. Two will be used to power an MC-21 prototype for flight-testing and one will be used for ground testing. The PD-14 is to enter serial production in 2019. The certification followed the PD- 14’s successful completion of ground testing under simulated icing conditions by the Baranov Central Institute of Aviation Engine Construction in Moscow. The Pratt & Whitney PW1400G-JM engine, the initial powerplant certified for the MC-21, will be used to power the aircraft to go through European Air Safety Agency (EASA) certification. Preliminary testing was carried out this summer by EASA.

The PW-1400C-powered version of the MC- 21 is scheduled to enter commercial service in 2020. David C Isby

Airlink and Safair abandon merger plan

South African Airlink and Safair Operations have abandoned plans to merge after the South African Competition Commission ruled against such a move. The two companies withdrew their application for a Competition Tribunal hearing in November 2018 to appeal the decision. They cited “protracted local regulatory processes and commercial considerations” for abandoning the proposed tie-up. In November 2017, SA Airlink and Safair announced their intention to join, but in February 2018 the Competition Commission said the transaction would hurt the competitiveness of the local airline industry. Airlink Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Rodger Foster said it was disappointing the deal was no longer going ahead, but commercial opportunities would be pursued between the two companies. Guy Martin

IATA predicts cost challenges

According to research by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) airlines are set for a challenging environment over the next year, with costs continuing to rise.

IATA’s latest Business Confidence findex, which surveys airline executives on the industry’s prospects, reveals input prices such as fuel and labour are at their highest level since April 2011. However, IATA added, 56% of respondents said they also expect to increase yields, albeit slightly down on recent peaks, which it said will offset cost pressures. Further research by IATA also shows costs vary by region, with fuel costs 4.3% below the industry average in North America but 3.3% above average in Africa and the Middle East. Mark Broadbent