Friday, 18 March 2016

Emirates makes Hungary latest front in Gulf-US battleground

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Although no formal announcement has been made, it looks increasingly likely that Dubai's flag-carrier, Emirates Airline, will soon launch nonstop flights from the Hungarian capital Budapest to America.

Senior transport officials from Hungary and the UAE have voiced support for the so-called fifth-freedom route – an industry term for connecting flights between two foreign countries.

Saif al-Suwaidi, the director general of the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority, confirmed this month that the Gulf country has requested access to two fifth-freedom services over Budapest. Without naming the destinations being discussed, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary's foreign minister, added: “We are prepared to provide this freedom and will conduct the required procedures rapidly with both the Emirates and the European Union.”

New York, home to a large number of Hungarian expatriates, is considered the most obvious choice for fifth-freedom connectivity...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Interview: Colin Copp, Jazz Aviation President

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On 19 February, an unremarkable statement by Chorus Aviation, the parent company of Canada's Jazz Aviation, announced that the airline's maintenance workers have ratified a new labour agreement.

To many observers in the fast-paced airline industry, the 92-word press release will have failed to stir even the briefest flicker of interest. But to anyone who has been following the twists and turns of Canada's aviation market, this crucial maintenance deal consummates an extraordinary change of direction for one of the world's most operationally accomplished – yet commercially exposed – regional carriers...

Friday, 4 March 2016

Jazeera Airways on collision course with Kuwait’s flag-carrier

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Jazeera Airways marked Kuwait’s 55th National Day last week by unveiling a special aircraft livery emblazoned with the emirate’s flag.

Commemorative color schemes are popular in the airline industry – recall British Airways’ dove livery during the 2012 Olympic Games – but Jazeera’s paintjob is more than a marketing exercise. The nationalist makeover comes amid a souring of relations with prospective partner Kuwait Airways, which has all but abandoned its privatisation drive in a bid to protect public-sector jobs.

By draping one of its seven A320s with the Kuwaiti flag, Jazeera is reaffirming its status as a self-proclaimed “national carrier” – a role it is adopting with or without the real flag-carrier’s consent...

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Kuwait Airways turns a corner

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It was no great shock when Kuwait Airways announced last summer that its troubled privatisation programme has effectively been abandoned. The state-owned flag-carrier is still officially looking for equity buyers, though only through a watered-down proposal that will leave politicians firmly in the driving seat.

Taken in isolation, the decision to keep Kuwait Airways in the public sector might have been disastrous. The airline has performed miserably over the past two decades, steadily losing ground to a new breed of more efficient, better funded Gulf rivals. Parliamentary bickering over strategy and fleet renewal are largely to blame for its sclerotic performance – creating an opening for Dubai's Emirates Airline, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways to funnel Kuwaiti passengers through their own hubs.

However, the move away from privatisation did not occur in a vacuum...

The early bird catches no returns

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Few issues drive a wedge between airlines and their customers like the thorny matter of compensation. In Europe, anyone whose flight is delayed by more than three hours can claim between €250 and €600 ($270 and $650) for the inconvenience, provided the delay is not caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. Airlines, as you would expect, interpret force majeure more broadly than passengers, lumping all manner of disruptions under the get-out clause. Along with extreme weather, terrorism and industrial action—events that are universally deemed “extraordinary”—airlines have attempted to withhold payment over bird strikes and technical faults. Successive court rulings have come down on the side of passengers, forcing the industry to stump up compensation more often...