Friday, 23 March 2018

Why posting a 'very large loss' is a good sign for Qatar Airways


Full article on forbes.com

Never one to mince his words, Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, has been more than candid about the “very large loss” that he expects his company to announce for the 2017-18 financial year. Qatar’s flag-carrier agreed in January to start putting detailed financial statements in the public domain – a move designed to ease concerns about unfair state support and minimize the likelihood of America curbing its access to the U.S. market.

The expected loss will mark a dramatic reversal of recent claims of profitability. For 2016-17, Qatar Airways had announced net profits of 1.97 billion Qatari riyals ($541m) in filings audited by Ernst & Young’s local branch in Qatar. The previous year’s audited report put its takings at 1.62 billion riyals, while an informal figure of $103 million was given by Al Baker for 2014-15.

As I wrote previously in relation to Etihad Airways – another state-owned Gulf carrier with delusions of profitability – such claims are misleading and should not have been repeated by media outlets without strong disclaimers...

Ukraine convinces Ryanair to return


Full article on economist.com

Almost one year ago to the day, Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, announced plans to begin serving Ukraine, its largest country. Ukraine had been a glaring white spot in the airline’s route network, deliberately avoided because of the anti-competitive advantages afforded to Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), the flag-carrier. A new infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, brokered the deal between Ryanair and Boryspil Airport, the capital’s main gateway and home base of UIA. But it collapsed within months. Now, Ryanair, the government and the airport are trying again...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Come fly with Xi


Full article on economist.com

In ancient times, traders on the Silk Road connecting China with Europe rarely ventured into the northern Caucasus region that is now home to Georgia. Diverting from established routes through Armenia and Anatolia to the south served little purpose unless conflict made the trackways impassable. Today, advances in transport and logistics mean that geography is less of a hurdle for traders. But friendly relations are just as important. Having signed free trade agreements with China and the European Union, Georgia is keen to pitch itself as a trade-and-transport hub for President Xi Jinping of China’s One Belt One Road initiative...

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Ukraine's aviation fiasco


Full article in PDF format

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 opened a dark chapter in the history of Ukraine’s civil aviation sector, lighting a fuse that would see Donetsk International Airport razed to the ground and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot out of the sky. Though hostilities rumble on in the eastern Donbas region, life has gradually returned to normal for most Ukrainians. The number of passengers carried by local airlines grew 22 per cent in 2016 to reach 5.7 million – just shy of pre-conflict levels – thanks in large part to flag-carrier Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), which has stepped up its role as a transit carrier linking Asia with Europe. Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport, UIA’s home base, accommodated more than ten million passengers last year and expects 20 million by 2023.

However, market dominance by UIA – which provides 67 per cent of capacity at Boryspil, and a whopping 89 per cent of domestic seats nationwide – is antagonising Ukraine’s pro-western government, whose lawmakers are desperate to inject foreign competition and disempower the post-Soviet oligarchs...