Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Interview: Ajay Singh, SpiceJet Chairman


Full article in JPG format:
page 44/45 & page 46

India’s government has not always met with universal praise when setting air transportation policies, but the rationale behind prime minister Narendra Modi’s Regional Connectivity Scheme – dubbed Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN), or “let the common man fly”– is hard to fault.

UDAN aims to ensure that the economic benefits of India’s rapid aviation growth are spread equally between all regions, instead of orbiting around wealthy metropolitan areas. The subsidised scheme gives airlines incentives for launching thin routes with regional aircraft, as well as limiting the maximum fare paid by many passengers.

“Aviation cannot be about rich people,” Modi said during a speech in the Gujarati town of Chotila last month. “We have made aviation affordable and within reach of the lesser privileged.”

For low-cost carriers like SpiceJet, engaging with UDAN is as much a commercial necessity as a social obligation. India’s fourth-largest airline has a target of deploying 200 aircraft by 2024 – up from 54 today – amid a scramble for market share in one of the world’s hottest airline sectors, where domestic traffic is growing by 21% a year and 97% of the population still does not fly...

Thursday, 26 October 2017

UDAN a good job, Mr Modi


Full article on economist.com

Why would one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines buy a ten-seat propeller plane, when most of its customers fly on 200-seat jets? Switching to smaller, less efficient aircraft defies commercial logic. But it is an appealing thought for those living in isolated communities far from big airports. That is what India’s new regional connectivity scheme, Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) or “let the common man fly”, promises to offer. It uses subsidies to improve the commercial viability of seldom-used routes. It also caps half of the fares on such routes at 2,500 rupees ($38) per hour of travel. If properly implemented and funded, the scheme could become a powerful tool for spreading India’s economic wealth more evenly...

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Wizz Air UK: A case study in Brexit scaremongering


Full article on forbes.com

Wizz Air, the central and eastern European low-cost carrier, has unveiled plans for a dedicated UK subsidiary to grow its British operations after Brexit – despite being depicted by many as an early casualty of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

The move is designed to help Wizz Air expand its presence at London Luton Airport regardless of any headwinds caused by the UK’s withdrawal from European aviation treaties. The airline currently uses its Hungarian operating license to base planes in foreign cities like London, exploiting liberal cross-border rules within the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). Unless Brussels agrees otherwise, Britain’s access to the ECAA will automatically expire in 2019...

Friday, 29 September 2017

Ukraine’s aviation sector is holding the country back


Full article on economist.com

Look at a map of domestic air traffic in any rich country and the relationship between flying and economic prosperity becomes obvious. In America, 614 towns and cities have regular flights to other domestic airports. Australia has 144 such places. Even in modestly sized Britain that number is 49. The more complex and headache-inducing a domestic route map becomes, the more a country fosters connectivity between its regions. Development naturally flows. It is a symbiosis that helps to fuel growth in rising economies like India and China. Yet not all emerging markets foster the link between travel and wealth...

Interview: Yaroslav Agafonov, Yanair CEO


Full article on forbes.com

Ukrainian airline Yanair has secured traffic rights for several European countries and expects to launch new scheduled services in the summer 2018 season.

“We are intending to enlarge the geography of our network from Kiev and Odessa,” chief executive Yaroslav Agafonov tells me, referring to the airline’s flights to Tbilisi and Batumi in Georgia, plus Tel Aviv in Israel. “It may be secondary airports, not huge airports, for example Krakow in Poland, Paderborn in Germany, or Frankfurt Hahn.”

Agafonov also identifies Cyprus, Italy and Romania as potential targets for expansion, without specifying which cities will be considered in those markets...

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Interview: Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister


Full article on forbes.com

With a score of 29 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index – placing it 131st out of 176 counties – Ukraine was guaranteed a turbulent ride in March when its pro-Western government moved to liberalize the closely guarded civil aviation market. It ultimately took just four months for Ryanair to cancel its planned launch in the country, retreating from what Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister, describes as “sabotage” by a network of post-Soviet oligarchs and vested interests...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Chucking Kiev


Full article on economist.com

Such has been the success of Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, that the continent is now awash with towns and villages whose economies depend in no small part on access to its route network. This encroachment into small regional airports evolved from an early focus on large European cities, whose gateways swelled with traffic following deregulation in the 1990s. Yet today, there are still European countries not served by the airline. Ukraine, the last big jewel for low-cost carriers in Europe, is an obvious white spot. It may be for some time to come. Despite promising to add four routes to Kiev and seven to Lviv this year, Ryanair has been pushed out by a coalition of local interests who have little appetite for competition. Ukrainians will foot the bill for their protection...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ban on the run


Full article in PDF format

After months of threatening to roll out its laptop ban globally, the US Department of Homeland Security in June unveiled a raft of new security measures aimed at fighting terrorism without further inconveniencing passengers.

America’s new approach obliges foreign airports to adopt more stringent measures in relation to explosive-trace detection, canine security and vetting of airport personnel. Any gateways that fail to comply will be prohibited from allowing large electronic devices in the passenger cabins of flights to the US – echoing the measures placed on seven Arab countries plus Turkey in March.

At the time of writing, six of those affected countries – the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan – have been lifted from the ban, which was hastily rolled out after intelligence agencies uncovered a possible Daesh plot to smuggle bombs in the battery compartments of laptops...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Interview: Blair Pollock, Qazaq Air CEO


Full article in PDF format

Looking back, 2015 seems like an unfortunate time to have launched an airline in Kazakhstan, the central Asian nation whose economy relies heavily on commodity earnings.

The collapse in oil prices from $115 per barrel in mid-2014 to $30 in early 2016 had a crippling effect on the former Soviet republic, choking off both domestic spending and foreign investment. While the government responded prudently by floating its currency, a subsequent halving of the Tenge’s value only heaped more pressure on Kazakh workers and businesses.

Having launched operations at the height of the crisis, there was little chance that Qazaq Air would enjoy the smooth entry into service its management originally hoped for.

But chief executive Blair Pollock is quick to find a silver lining, arguing that headwinds create opportunities for ambitious start-ups – particularly state-owned ones that have a political mandate to drive long-term development...

Low-cost long-haul coming of age?


Full article in PDF format

In March 2015, after years of teasing passengers with the promise of £10 transatlantic fares, Ryanair formally ruled out moving into the low-cost long-haul (LCLH) marketplace.

“The Board … has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so,” it said in a terse statement, backtracking on plans announced just days earlier to connect Europe with a dozen cities in America. Chief executive Michael O’Leary insisted that the industry needs to enter a cyclical downturn before widebody aircraft become available at suitably discounted prices.

Ryanair’s scepticism of LCLH models has not changed over the past two years, but the once-vacant sector is now advancing leaps and bounds without it. Two rivals – Norwegian Air Shuttle and Iceland’s WOW Air – have grabbed sizable chunks of the transatlantic market with their no-frills offerings. Responding to the new competition, three of Europe’s legacy carriers have launched or promised to launch their own LCLH subsidiaries...