Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Primed for failure


Full article on economist.com

Primera Air changed its low-cost business model this year by adding scheduled long-haul flights to its predominantly short-haul charter network. Hrafn Thorgeirsson, its chief executive, had said that the change was necessary to avoid the structural decline of the European market for charter flights. He could have saved himself the bother. The airline entered administration on October 2nd after failing to secure further funding for its loss-making long-haul operation, which was beset by delays and cancellations during its first and only summer season. Its collapse leaves thousands of customers stranded and tens of thousands more out of pocket...

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Ethiopian Airlines is founding new African flag carriers


Full article on economist.com

When The Economist wrote about Ethiopian Airlines in 1989, we praised the company’s “unqualified success” despite operating in a “disastrous economy” infected with civil war, famine and Marxist inefficiency. Having grown its passenger count 17-fold since then–to the benefit, not the detriment, of its profits–Ethiopian is now the envy of all African governments. Most are saddled with loss-making flag-carriers or none at all. Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian’s boss, wants to change this by helping some of his neighbours set up new companies and others overhaul existing ones. But while his intentions are good, he cannot fix the broken sector alone...

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Interview: Thomas Hallam, Somon Air CEO


Full article in JPG format: page 49, page 50 & page 53

Tajikistan’s Somon Air launched operations in 2008 with the aim of breaking the monopoly enjoyed by state-owned flag-carrier Tajik Air.

Chief executive Thomas Hallam makes no bones about the challenges of running a business in Tajikistan – an impoverished central Asian republic where corruption and cronyism still dominate the corporate landscape.

But by learning from the success of Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag-carrier, Somon Air is rapidly overcoming these obstacles. An obsessive focus on safety, transparency and international standards has secured the company both IATA membership and TCO (Third Country Operator) authorisation in Europe – two recognised benchmarks for operational excellence...

Back to the Silk Road


Full article in JPG format: page 121, page 122 & page 124

Distilling complex economic strategies into straightforward, digestible terms is never an easy task, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is no exception.

Originally launched in 2013 as the One Belt One Road Initiative, Beijing renamed its pet-project two years ago following confusion about the use of the singular word “one”. In fact, the BRI encompasses an array of land and maritime trade routes that collectively bind together the economies of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Many of the BRI’s land corridors overlap with the ancient Silk Road networks that allowed traders to move their goods from East to West for more than a thousand years. But there are new pathways too – in regions once skirted by the cart-pulling camels and horses – and there is even now a “Digital Belt and Road” that focuses on e-commerce and scientific cooperation.

Put simply, the BRI means whatever the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping wants it to mean – and its definition and scope changes year by year...

Friday, 24 August 2018

Ryanair: Not so nice now


Full article on economist.com

For the second time in a year, Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, is changing the way it charges for baggage. Until 2018 Ryanair had allowed passengers to carry one small bag and one wheelie bag in the cabin for free. It changed its policy in January—purportedly to speed up boarding—by making passengers dump their wheelie bags on the tarmac so ground staff could chuck them in the hold at the last minute. Under the latest rules, effective from November, wheelie bags will attract a fee no matter how they are transported: £6 ($7.80) in the cabin or £8 in the hold. For an airline whose customers often pay £10 or less for a ticket, the change is dramatic...

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A suicidal airline employee shows mercy


Full article on economist.com

The skies above Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were closed on August 10th after an airline employee stole an empty 76-seat plane and performed death-defying aerial acrobatics before crashing the turboprop onto a small island. That no-one but the pilot himself was killed had nothing to do with intervention by the military, the airport, the airline or air-traffic controllers. It had everything to do with the relatively benign intentions of the employee, who appears not to have been a trained pilot and refused to attempt a runway landing for fear he might cause ground casualties...

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Interview: Abdulaziz Al Raisi, Oman Air CEO


Full article in PDF format: page 19-22 & cover

Like the Gulf super-connectors, Oman Air carries more than two-thirds of its passengers on transfer flights over its hub. This sixth-freedom model allows the flag-carrier to surpass the limitations of its home market, unlocking routes and frequencies that could never be sustained by Oman’s population of just 4.8 million.

Unlike its better-known neighbours in the UAE and Qatar, however, the Muscat-based airline is now rolling back its reliance on transfer traffic.

New chief executive Abdulaziz Al Raisi is targeting a 50/50 split between connecting flows and point-to-point flows within a couple of years, and he wants to achieve this even as Oman Air accelerates the growth of its fleet and network.

“With sixth-freedom traffic you are going into competition with a lot of giant airlines, big players. It’s very hard for us as a small airline to survive in that market,” Al Raisi explained...

Interview: Mehmet Nane, Pegasus CEO


Full article in PDF format

Pegasus Airlines strengthened its recovery in the first quarter of this year, lifting passenger numbers by 18% as holidaymakers in Western Europe and Russia rekindled their love affair with Turkish resorts.

The positive result comes just two years after the low-cost carrier sunk to a rare loss amid a perfect storm of Daesh terror attacks, a failed military coup and a diplomatic row with Russia. Fears of a lengthy downturn were dispelled by last year’s profit, and with demand still growing chief executive Mehmet Nane is in bullish mood about the airline’s prospects.

Despite his newfound optimism, however, the challenges facing developing nations in general and Turkey in particular loom large at Pegasus...

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Zimbabwe Airways crash lands


Full article in PDF format

The delivery of a 13-year-old Boeing 777-200ER to Zimbabwe has ignited a row over corruption and alleged misappropriation of funds in the final days of former president Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Government officials welcomed the new aircraft – the first of four purchased from Malaysia Airlines – at a ceremony at Harare’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on 11 April. The plane is painted in the colours of a new airline, Zimbabwe Airways, which aims to restore long-haul connections formerly served by Air Zimbabwe, the chronically mismanaged state-owned flag-carrier.

Yet, without even taking to the skies, Zimbabwe Airways is already courting the same controversy that dogged Air Zimbabwe during Mugabe’s time in office. Transparency is by far the biggest concern...

Friday, 29 June 2018

Kyrgyzstan's Air Manas targets Beijing route launch


Full article on forbes.com

Air Manas is seeking permission to launch passenger flights between the capitals of Kyrgyzstan and China.

“We can fly to Beijing. We are looking for the opportunities for that and for the permits,” confirmed Mehmet Nane, chief executive of Pegasus Airlines, the Turkish low-cost carrier that owns 49% of Air Manas.

Nane told me that demand on the Bishkek-Beijing leg will benefit from Pegasus’s existing Istanbul-Bishkek service – effectively turning the Kyrgyz capital into a sixth-freedom base for Turkey-China traffic.

“When you look at Kyrgyzstan on the map it’s the center of Asia," he noted...