Airport Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on airlines in May 2022, based on data from GlobalData’s Travel and Tourism Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 168 airlines experts tracked by GlobalData’s Travel and Tourism Influencer platform during the May 2022.

1. Aircraft – 204 mentions

Wet leasing only allowed in emergency situations by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Turkish Airlines ’ acquisition of six additional A350-900 type passenger aircraft from Airbus , and warnings about airlines’ growing costs by SMBC Aviation Capital , were some of the popularly discussed topics in May.

Vinamra Longani, head of operations at Sarin & Co., shared a thread on the DGCA mandate of aircraft habitually based in India to be registered in the country. Longani further added that passenger airlines are not permitted to wet lease aircraft due to capacity or route expansion. However, there were some circumstances under which a foreign registered aircraft could function habitually in India, the most common being in connection with a wet lease, such as a foreign registered aircraft being allowed to operate in India. The DGCA could also cancel the registration of an aircraft and remove it from the country’s aircraft registry if it found that the aircraft should be registered somewhere else, the Longani tweeted.

Aircraft also trended in a discussion on Turkish Airlines ordering more A350s, according to an article shared by Jason Rabinowitz, head of airline research at ATPCO, dealing in airline pricing and retailing content. The article detailed that the airline announced the acquisition of six additional A350-900s from Airbus that were expected to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. It is speculated that the aircraft was not being taken up by other airlines, while the total number of A350s ordered by Turkish Airlines now stands at 26.

In another tweet, Jamie Freed, a correspondent, shared an article on aircraft leasing company SMBC Aviation Capital’s warning about airlines having to face growing costs related to insurance, fuel, labour, and lease rates, in the year ahead. Peter Barrett, chief executive of SMBC stated that rising costs would be the biggest challenge the industry would face in the next 12 to 24 months, despite the rise in demand for medium-haul air travel and narrowbody jets, the article detailed. The article further noted SMBC is one of the industry’s major aircraft lessor, owning more than half of the global fleet of commercial passenger jets.   

2. Pilots – 204 mentions

Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) call out to build hardened cockpit doors across all cargo airlines, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ’ role in developing Boeing’s 737 MAX pilot training, and Spirit Airlines not looking to raise pilot wages in the next five years, were some of the popular discussions during the month.

Captain Joe DePete, president of the non-governmental and non-profit organisation ALPA, called out the government for fair treatment of all pilots and operations irrespective of payload or flight mission. He stressed that all-cargo pilots flew the same equipment, over and across the same routes, in the same communities, and into the same airports as passenger airlines. However, the air cargo industry continued to build widebody aircraft with no flight deck door, the video illustrated.   

He stated that a single level of safety and security standard should be maintained and followed across all aviation operations. Therefore, it was important to mandate hardened cockpit doors on all cargo airlines to close the gap in aviation safety and security, and for the Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 4598, the Cargo Flight Deck Security Act of 2021 to eliminate the vulnerability, the video further demonstrated.

The term also trended in discussions around Southwest Airlines playing a key role in the development of early Boeing 737 MAX pilot training than previously known, according to an article shared by Robert Wall, a technology editor. The article detailed that a recent legal filing found documents that showed that the carrier worked with Boeing on issues related to whether pilots should be trained on a new flight-control system. The documents revealed that Southwest Airlines agreed with Boeing to remove references to an automated flight-control system from the pilot manuals, changes to which, may have led to the fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019, according to investigations.

MCAS, an automated cockpit feature, was an addition to the Boeing’s latest 737 model, the article highlighted. However, the aviation community learnt that the feature had been changed during its development, thereby becoming more effective without sufficient defences. As a result, Southwest’s involvement in removing references to MCAS from the flight manuals could help in piecing together answers as to why pilots were unaware about the system, the article noted.

In another tweet, Ted Reed, an airlines writer, shared an article on Spirit Airlines not likely to raise pilot wages over the next five years. The article further detailed that Spirit has 3,000 pilots, while no wage increases raised threatened the airline’s operation amid a shortage of pilots and high attrition rates, according to Ryan Muller, the chairman of the Spirit chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association.

Calling out members of Spirit’s senior management and JetBlue leadership, along with financial services institutions Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays, Ryan’s letter to the members included topics, such as Spirit’s financial due diligence items, and its five-year plan. One topic included Spirit’s unrealistic assumptions, especially related to costs linked to wage inflation and personnel attrition that did not include wage increases, the article noted.

3. Airport – 119 mentions

UK’s aviation sector facing the worst disruption in air travel in summer driven by a shortage of staff and surging demand, and American Airlines and Microsoft entering into a partnership to reduce travel pain points, were some of the popular discussions in May.

Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, tweeted on Europe likely to face the worst disruption in air travel in summer, with British Airways , easyJet and other airlines cancelling several flights. Airports, airlines, and travel companies are all likely to face an acute shortage of staff amid the surge in passenger demand. Macheras further tweeted that the staff shortage in the aviation sector is caused by thousands of skilled staff being laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The term also trended in an article shared by Henry Harteveldt, an airline and travel industry analyst, on the collaboration between American Airlines and technology company Microsoft. The partnership is expected to provide more connected experiences for customers and the airlines’ team members via the Microsoft Cloud, the article detailed. Under the terms of the agreement, American Airlines will use Microsoft Azure for its key workloads and airline applications. The companies are expected to use data and other digital technologies in providing better support and experiences to customers and the airline team members.

For example, the partnership is expected to optimise gating at America’s largest hub, the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the article further noted. The companies will leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics to reduce the taxi time, thereby saving jet fuel and offering smooth operation and time to connecting customers taking their next flight.

Therefore, flights arriving or departing on western runways would use gates on that side of the airport, all facilitated by the intelligent gating programme that uses real-time analysis of data points, including runway and routing information, to automatically allot the closest available gate to a landing aircraft, the article highlighted.

4. Fleet – 92 mentions

Vistara likely to replace the remaining A320 CEOs from its fleet with the A320NEO aircraft, Allegiant Air adding extra legroom to most of its fleet, and Delta Air Lines rollout of the Airbus A321neo as its most significant domestic fleet, were some of the trending discussions during the month.

Vinamra Longani tweeted on India’s full-service airline, Vistara likely to remove the remaining four A320 CEO aircraft from its domestic fleet. The aircraft is likely to be replaced with the more fuel-efficient A320NEO that will add mood lighting and in seat power among other passenger experience enhancements, Longani added. Vistara has some of the much older B737s still on its fleet that have no premium and economy seating. The airline had leased nine Boeing 737 planes in 2019 from Jet Airways’ lessors after the latter suspended operations in April 2019.

The term also trended in an article shared by Seth Miller, an aviation journalist, on Allegiant Air, America’s ultra-low-cost airline, to add extra seating across most of its fleet. Allegiant’s Extra offering was first tested in 2019, the article highlighted. The Extra product included a minimum of six inches of extra pitch for passengers compared to the regular economy class seats. Extra passengers were also offered priority boarding, a complimentary drink on boarding, and selected overhead bin space.

Allegiant plans for all its A320s inducted from the fourth quarter of 2022 to have the 180-seat Extra layout, while all Boeing deliveries including the 737 MAX fleet would also offer an extra cabin, the article further noted.

In another tweet, Ted Reed shared an article on Delta rolling out the new Airbus A321neo to become Boston Logan International Airport’s top carrier. The induction of the new aircraft is expected to be key for its domestic fleet for the next 20 to 30 years, and has added two transatlantic destinations, including Athens and Tel Aviv, the article detailed. This is expected to bring the total number of destinations for the airline from Boston to ten this summer, including Amsterdam, Dublin, Cancun, Edinburgh, London Heathrow, Lisbon, Rome, and Paris.

Delta is planning to expand the new A321neo to the Boston-West Coast destinations such as Seattle, San Diego, and Denver, after putting it on the Boston-San Francisco route. The airline ordered 100 A321neo aircraft in 2018 initially, but gradually increased the order to 155. It has taken the delivery of two and is looking to bring in two dozen in 2022, the article noted.

5. Jet – 81

Delta restarting its annual Jet Drag event, and Australia’s Qantas confirming its order for A350-1000s, were some of the popular discussions in May.

Kelly Yamanouchi, an airline and airport reporter, shared an article on Delta’s Jet Drag event returning with employees competing with each other by pulling a Boeing 757 at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The event took place after a two-year interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as 20 people were divided into 150 teams to drag a jet to at least 20 feet. Thousands of employees participate in the Jet Drag event to raise over $600,000 for the American Cancer Society, the article detailed.

In another tweet, Alex Macheras tweeted about the Qantas and Airbus deal. Australia’s Qantas, the world’s third oldest airline, confirmed the order of 12 A350-1000s that will be used to fly non-stop between Sydney and London from 2025. The jet will carry 238 passengers with extra premium seating and reduced capacity, Macheras added. The longest of commercial flights will thereby connect Sydney/Melbourne with London and New York for the first time. The A350-1000 is powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engine that has an enhanced core, high-flow fan, and 97,000lb of thrust.