Monday, 27 February 2012

Interview: Khaled Taynaz, Libyan Airlines CEO


Libyan Airlines planning CSeries order, EgyptAir wet leases

Libyan Airlines has conducted a viability study into the Bombardier CSeries and will likely order four to eight of the aircraft, chief executive officer Khaled Taynaz has said. The Libyan flag carrier is currently repairing its existing Bombardier CRJ900s, which were damaged during last year's revolt against Muammar Gaddafi, but has received a "very good offer" to upgrade the models in about four years. Taynaz is also poised to sign a short-term lease with EgyptAir for some of its Airbus A330s, though the paperwork has yet to be finalised and upcoming merger partner Afriqiyah Airlines may alternatively loan the aircraft.

Outlining Libyan's fleet renewal plans in his first interview since the civil war, the CEO said repair work on damaged aircraft had progressed well and that the carrier is now turning its attention to long-term expansion. Five of the airline's eight CRJ900s have already been restored by Lufthansa, while two more should be airworthy by April and the eighth will be decommissioned. Libyan had also signed a five-year maintenance contract with Air France-KLM, which will complete repair work on the last of four damaged Airbus A320s by the end of February.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Flagging carriers out east


Full article on economist.com

The grounding of Malev, Hungary’s national carrier, shows once again how Eastern European countries are struggling to fly their flags around the world. According to a report from CAPA, Hungary is now expected to follow Slovakia in switching to a predominantly low-cost carrier (LCC) market. The report notes that, prior to Malev's bankruptcy, LCCs accounted for just 24% of capacity in Hungary, compared with more than 70% for its neighbour to the north. That figure shot up to 40% overnight, and with Ryanair circling covetously above will only rise further.

But there are few positive signs for Eastern Europe's older airlines. Slovakia has a high LCC penetration because it abandoned its flag carrier in 2007. Lithuania did the same thing two years later, while Latvia clung onto its national airline, but only by marketing it as a pseudo-LCC with pan-Baltic aspirations—baffling analysts, and perhaps government financiers, in the process. Poland and Romania seem no more confident in their flag carriers, beating paths to Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for financial backing and feed-in traffic. While none would admit it, they are all perilously close to their own Malev moment...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Headwinds over Europe: ETS


Full article in JPG format

Last month, Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X called time on its flagship services to Europe, under the pretext that the continent’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – essentially an environmental tax – had made flying to London and Paris unprofitable.

Behind the whitewashed press release, its hand was in truth forced by the short-sightedness of a business plan conceived in 2009, when oil prices stood at just $40 per barrel. With Brent crude surging to three times that level in recent months, the viability of a low-cost, long-haul product – absent of any high-yielding corporate passengers – was well and truly blown out of the water.

But while blaming the ETS was undoubtedly a face-saving exercise, AirAsia X will have many sympathisers both within the industry and beyond. Europe’s carbon trading scheme has been an unremitting source of contention for foreign governments, who say the tax violates their sovereignty and who are increasingly talking up the prospects of a trade war...