Monday, 30 March 2015

A human response to a human tragedy

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It has been less than a week since the catastrophic loss of Germanwings Flight 9525 and its precious cargo of 144 passengers and six crew. In that short time investigators have pointed the finger of blame squarely at Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old first officer who appears to have locked his captain out of the flight deck and deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps. Though incomprehensible, his gruesome deed is not without precedent for commercial pilots. Fear of falling victim to such asymmetric evil will, inevitably, plague the minds of the 9m passengers who take to the skies each day. It will take time to soothe their concerns. But one Germanwings pilot has already started the healing process, unburdening his heart with emotional, pre-flight speeches to passengers...

Friday, 6 March 2015

Gulf carriers feeling the heat

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Allegations of unfair competition are nothing new for the Gulf's carriers. The region’s big three airlines—Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways—have long been accused of receiving government subsidies by their rivals in Europe and America. But supporting evidence has been in short supply. That apparently changed yesterday, when a group of airlines disclosed details of “obvious and massive” Gulf-carrier subsidies totalling $42bn since 2004. The findings have been submitted to the American government in a 55-page dossier urging a re-think of Washington’s open-skies treaty with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Iraqi aviation under fire

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The apparent targeting of an aircraft operated by Flydubai, the short-haul affiliate of Emirates Airline, during a routine landing at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) has rightly rattled nerves in the Gulf aviation sector, coming just six months after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in eastern Ukraine.

Although there are few direct parallels between the incidents – one involved a sophisticated surface-to-air missile; the other rudimentary small-arms fire – threats to airspace security are never taken lightly by governments. This applies doubly so in Iraq, where the Islamic State (IS) boasts in its armoury a variety of anti-aircraft guns and shoulder-fired MANPADS (man-portable air-defence systems), including the Russian-made SA-16 and SA-18, and the Chinese-made FN-6. Shootdowns of government aircraft have been documented on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border.

The burning question for travellers is whether or not such weapons pose a credible threat to civilian aircraft at BIAP. Unfortunately, the answer is almost certainly yes...

Freight of expectation

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page 27 & page 28/29

After several years in the doldrums, the air cargo industry ended 2014 on a “positive note” according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It estimates that global freight demand grew 4.5% during the year, buoyed by above-average 5.4% growth in the Asia Pacific region.

While talk of a cyclical upturn may be premature, there is no shortage of optimism among cargo operators, freight forwarders and logistics professionals about the year ahead.

But IATA and others are quick to point out that higher volumes are just one piece of the puzzle. According to WorldACD, an air cargo market data specialist, average yields declined another 1.45% in 2014. That continued the seemingly unending spiral downwards since the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, decimating profit margins and casting gloomy skies over an otherwise encouraging set of results for the industry...