On November 8, 2018: Air Astana announced a launch of a new, “very, very safe” LCC; Azur Air flies the first (but not so new) Boeing 737-900ER in Russia; while Dassault Aviation opts out from Canadian Air Force fighter jet tender, allegedly over “security requirements” concerns.

Dassault withdraws from Canada fighter tender

Dassault Aviation renounced to offer the Rafale fighter jet in The Royal Canadian Air Force’s tender for 88 fighters. The French plane manufacturer is not convinced that it can meet the “required security requirements”, including the transfer of knowledge and interoperability.

What could have been the problem for Dassault is the fact that France does not belong to the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance, comprising the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK, according to sources close to the matter quoted by Reuters.

Swedish Saab, which is one of the remaining candidates in Canada’s competition with its JAS 39 Gripen, could face the very same problem. Other proposals include the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

Air Astana to launch LCC, promises no “compromises” on safety

Air Astana, the flag carrier of the Republic of Kazakhstan, announced it is launching a low cost subsidiary called FlyArystan in the first half of 2019. Initially, the new airline will fly domestic routes, operating a fleet of four Airbus A320s, but hopes to expand the fleet to 15 aircraft by 2022.

FlyArystan is to “strictly” follow a classic LCC model, as exemplified by easyjet, Indigo, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia, but not to compromise on safety or regulation, a release by the parent company states. “[...] there will be no degradation of airline safety or reliability standards. All safety standards and regulatory processes to which Air Astana is subject, will automatically apply to FlyArystan,” it reads.

It is no coincidence Air Astana stresses safety standards. Considered as unsafe, from 2009 until December 2016, all Kazakh airlines were banned from entering the European Union skies. With one exception - Air Astana had the permit to fly to EU, but with restrictions.



Launched in 2007, Boeing 737-900ER finally enters Russia

On November 7, 2018, Russian charter airline Azur Air made a major announcement of becoming the first Boeing 737-900ER operator in Russia, in a step that marks “the beginning of the next stage” in the airline’s development, the company stated.

“We had the honor of being the first in Russia to begin active operation of this type [of aircraft], and the company is fully prepared: the flight and technical staff have received appropriate training. Working with the Boeing 737-900ER will give the airline a certain experience and the opportunity to share it with colleagues afterwards. In addition, the appearance of this modern type in our fleet speaks of continuing the course for the gradual rejuvenation of the fleet,” Yury Stogniy, Director General of Azur Air, is quoted as saying in a statement.

However, the “modernity” of the aircraft depends on how you look at it. It is indeed one of Boeing 737 NG family aircraft. It is also a step up for Azur, which intends to employ the plane on some routes that it currently operates using its six Boeing 737-800s (average age 19.1 years). On the other hand, Boeing 737-900ER first entered service with Lion Air back in 2007. As for the specific aircraft the Azur has leased - it was also made in 2007 and began service with Lion Air.

The airline is launching the first flight using the new addition to its fleet on November 8, 2018, between Moscow and Antalya (Turkey). The airline expects a second 737-900ER to arrive shortly.