Sunday, 1 July 2018

Zimbabwe Airways crash lands


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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...

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Somon Air Delays Dreamliner In Favor Of 767, Confirms E2 Plan


Full article on forbes.com

Tajikistan’s Somon Air has delayed its planned introduction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner until around 2022, with management now seeking a 767-300ER and stepping up their focus on regional expansion with Embraer E190-E2s.

“The Dreamliner is still in our strategic plan, but the one that was announced is not going to materialize,” chief executive Thomas Hallam told me during an interview at Somon Air’s headquarters in Dushanbe, the capital of the central Asian nation. “Our timeline is now somewhere around 2022. What we need to do is to look at our core business before we look at our trans-continental business.”

Somon Air signed an MoU for one 787-8 at last year’s Dubai Air Show, with the aircraft originally expected to arrive in early 2018. The opportunity to jump Boeing’s delivery queue arose when Royal Jordanian Airlines cut back its Dreamliner commitment.

Although the wide-body was offered at a “very attractive price”, Hallam said Somon Air needs to be “realistic about economies of scale” as it pursues sustainable growth...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Southend Calling: Ryanair Admits Brexit Hasn't Soured It On Britain


Full article on forbes.com

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, has sounded a resounding note of optimism about the UK aviation market by opening a new base at London Southend Airport – just one year after warning that Brexit would spell the end of cheap flights for Brits.

The airline says it will base three aircraft at the Essex airport in April 2019, days after the UK formally withdraws from the European Union.

Its expansion marks a dramatic climb-down by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, who campaigned heavily against Brexit before the referendum and then threatened to ground flights when the vote didn’t go his way. "I think it's in our interests … that the aircraft are grounded,” he said in March, predicting that UK travelers will “re-think the whole Brexit debate” once they realize they are “no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy”.

Eight of Ryanair’s 13 new Southend routes are bound for Portugal, Spain or Italy. They will join the roughly 5,400 flights per month that the airline operates from the UK to the three countries...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

A misogynist cannot promote gender equality in aviation


Full article on economist.com

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) was founded in 1945 to unify and promote the interests of airlines around the world. At this week’s AGM in Sydney, despite efforts to the contrary by some, IATA’s message was as dated as the organisation itself: women are too dense to run airlines. Akbar al Baker, the group’s new chairman and the boss of Qatar Airways, a Persian Gulf carrier, told attendees that “of course”, his airline “has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position”. He later apologised for what he claimed was a joke blown out of proportion by the media. Yet this was not Mr al Baker’s first foray into misogyny: last year he mocked American carriers for hiring “grandmothers” as flight attendants, boasting that the average age of his cabin crew is 26 years. Until recently, he forbade female staff from marrying or getting pregnant...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Why airliners in Cuba and Iran crash so much


Full article on economist.com

When the dream of a smooth flight turns into the nightmare of an airliner crash, understanding what went wrong is sometimes straightforward. That was the case with a Malaysia Airlines flight which crashed in the summer of 2014, killing 298. This week Dutch and Australian investigators conclusively showed that it was shot down by a missile fired by Russian armed forces. But in other cases it is much harder to apportion blame. Such is the complexity of civil aviation that investigators spend years sifting through wreckage, recordings and data logs to work out what went wrong. Often technological, human and environmental faults are the main culprits. Yet another factor can be argued to have caused many of the world’s deadliest air disasters so far this year: economic sanctions...

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Zimbabwe Airways: Flights of fancy


Full article on economist.com

Having one loss-making state-owned airline is bad enough. What, then, of a government that wants two?

Earlier this year Zimbabweans were startled to learn that the government had concluded a secret $70m deal to buy four second-hand Boeing jets from Malaysia to form the core of a new national airline, Zimbabwe Airways. This venture is supposed to compete with Air Zimbabwe, the flag carrier, which ran up huge debts thanks to poor management and ex-President Robert Mugabe’s habit of commandeering its planes so his wife could shop abroad...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Interview: Jann Tamm, Nordica CEO


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When Estonian Air was ordered by the European Commission to pay back more than €85 million of illegal state aid in November 2015, its government owner was immediately resigned to the need to shut down the underperforming flag-carrier.

Had the Commission ruled differently, Tallink, Estonia’s main ferry operator, was waiting in the wings as an investor. But there was no prospect of privatising the airline once the EU had saddled it with such huge debts.

Fortunately for Estonian travellers, the government anticipated the ruling and had already set up a new flag-carrier by the time of the Commission’s decision. This contingency planning allowed the new company, Nordic Aviation Group, to launch operations on the very same day that Estonian Air was grounded – initially as a virtual airline under contract with Slovenia’s Adria Airways.

It has taken just two years for the new flag-carrier, operating as Nordica, to become an independent company with its own Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), a fleet of 18 aircraft and a positive financial outlook...

Interview: Krešimir Kučko, Gulf Air CEO


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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel may have emerged victorious from the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, but for many spectators the star of the show was nowhere to be seen on the Formula One track.

Before the race even got under way, Gulf Air, Bahrain’s flag-carrier, had stolen the limelight with a flyover by its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – a brand new aircraft type for the kingdom and an emblem of the ambitious plan being led by chief executive Krešimir Kučko, who was appointed last year with a mandate to revitalise the airline’s long-waning influence in the region...

Interview: Bilal Ekşi, Turkish Airlines CEO


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Bilal Ekşi knew he was in for a rough ride when he took on the role of Turkish Airlines (THY) chief executive in October 2016.

His predecessor, Temel Kotil, had won countless accolades during his time in office, presiding over a decade of rapid expansion and rising prestige for the super-connector airline. By the time of Kotil’s departure, however, events were conspiring against both the flag-carrier and its home nation.

A failed coup d'état, a wave of terror attacks by Daesh, and a regional slowdown in demand were setting the scene for THY’s first annual loss in recent memory...

The great foreign exchange rip-off is coming to an end


Full article on economist.com

Some years ago, when Gulliver was a wide-eyed reporter on his first business trip, he sidled up to a bureau de change in London’s Heathrow Airport to buy some foreign currency. His nervous excitement quickly turned to dismay when the teller gouged 12% from the transaction, justifying the theft by tapping on a display-screen of ruinous exchange rates. Today, Gulliver knows better than to buy foreign currency at an airport. But many do not: in 2016 Heathrow raked in £50m ($68m) by renting retail space to bureaux de change. New technology and startups could soon change that...