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Business Buzz United Airlines is working to improve baggage delivery as part of an updated customer-service policy aimed at avoiding federally mandated service requirements. United, the largest carrier at Denver International Airport, says it is...

Business Buzz

United Airlines is working to improve baggage delivery as part of an updated customer-service policy aimed at avoiding federally mandated service requirements. United, the largest carrier at Denver International Airport, says it is striving to deliver all checked luggage within 25 minutes of a flight’s arrival. The airline said that is its current standard but it may not achieve the delivery time consistently. Baggage delivery is “one of the last links in the service chain and can tarnish an otherwise positive experience,” United chief executive Glenn Tilton said. The updated customer-service policy covers 12 areas and United says it gives customers more information on policies and pledges than the previous version.

Airbus is considering launching a freighter version of its popular A330-300 passenger aircraft, which would offer a higher payload than the A330-200 cargo aircraft due to enter service at the end of 2009. Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said the A330-300F could possibly be launched next year, although entry into airline service is likely several more years away. Leahy confirmed the European aircraft manufacturer had received 70 firm orders from 60 operators for the Airbus A330-200 freighter since the aircraft was launched last January including: Etihad Crystal Cargo, the cargo division of Etihad Airways, Flyington Freighters of India and Turkish cargo operators MNG Airlines and ACT Airlines. The plane has also been ordered by several leasing companies such as Avion Aircraft Trading of Iceland, which has signed an A330-200F lease agreement with Icelandair Cargo, Guggenheim Aviation Partners and Intrepid Aviation Group. Leahy said the A330-200F would be able to carry a 60-70 ton payload from Hong Kong to Dubai or Anchorage.

India’s booming aviation sector has prompted one of the largest airline catering and in-flight solutions providers LSG Sky Chefs to make India its major hub and open four new facilities in the country next year. “We are planning new facilities at Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata,” Chief Operating Officer, Asia-Pacific, H.K. Cheung said. LSG Sky Chefs is the sole independent international airline caterer in India and has a presence at the old airports of Hyderabad and Bangalore. It is building facilities at Hyderabad and Bangalore to replace the existing ones. “India is a major market where there is a strong demand for top-quality in-flight catering services,” Cheung said. The market size is around $100 million USD and growing, Cheung, who was in the Thai capital to attend the International Travel Catering Association (ITCA) Asia-Pacific conference, said.

Experiencing high load factors of up to 92 percent, Air France plans to enhance its services to southern Indian cities and is also considering Goa and Kolkata as new destinations. “Our load factors oscillate between 82 and 92 percent in winter and summer seasons. The traffic between Bangalore, where services started in December 2005, and Chennai (opened in October 2006) have already reached the Mumbai levels,” Air France Executive Vice President Bruno Matheu said. “We plan to increase our flights to Bangalore and Chennai to dailies soon,” he said. However, he did not give a specific time-frame for increasing frequencies.

Horizon Air was forced to cancel hundreds of flights in September to perform a precautionary inspection ordered by Canadian air safety authorities on the landing gear of 19 aircraft. Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration, issued inspection orders for higher-usage Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliners like the ones whose landing gear collapsed in two separate incidents in Europe. Those two aircraft were operated by Scandinavian Airlines. The Bombardier aircraft are built in Canada. Horizon is the largest customer for Bombardier’s Q400 aircraft with 33 of the airliners in its fleet. Nineteen of those planes met the criteria for further inspections: more than 10,000 takeoffs and landings.

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