Showing posts with label Arabian Aerospace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arabian Aerospace. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Interview: Ahmed Adel, EgyptAir Chairman


Full article in PDF format: page 22-24 & cover

Like any state-owned flag carrier, EgyptAir’s fortunes are tied inexorably to those of its home nation. That has translated to heavy losses and weak demand in recent years as the country was buffeted by successive waves of political and security unrest.

Two devastating air disasters – the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268 and the still unexplained crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 – only added to the airline’s troubles.

However, with improved security and renewed investment under President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, optimism is rising on to the streets of Cairo.

Large-scale projects like the Grand Egyptian Museum and a new high-speed rail network are fuelling hopes of a happier future – one in which both locals and foreigners can travel across this ancient land without fear of violence or persecution...

Interview: Naji Majdalani, Wings of Lebanon CEO


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As a charter carrier with just one aircraft on its registry, Wings of Lebanon rarely gets the media attention that is afforded to larger, better known airlines in the Middle East.

The company has found itself in the spotlight only twice in recent memory – and management would happily forget both instances.

In 2016, a Boeing 737 carrying the Wings name was photographed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. The sighting sparked outrage in a country that officially remains at war with the Jewish state, and whose leaders are deeply paranoid about Israeli intelligence operations.

Then, last year, Wings had its European Union licence suspended after regulators flagged a series of apparent shortcomings in its flight training and aircraft maintenance processes...

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Interview: Rammah Ettir, Medavia CEO


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Until 2014, when Tripoli International Airport was razed to the ground by warring militias, Mediterranean Aviation Company Ltd (Medavia) conducted most of its aircraft maintenance work in Libya’s capital.

Relocating its operational facility to Malta, the Mediterranean island situated 350km north of Tripoli, was a difficult but logical response to the security crisis. Medavia had been set up in 1978 by the governments of Libya and Malta, and the European island already hosted its management headquarters as well as a base maintenance station.

Despite losing one aircraft to the violence and sacrificing much of its revenue for evacuation flights, the company has adapted well to the challenges of recent years...

New doors open at Nesma


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Ashraf Lamloum knew he was taking a risk in 2016, when he opened a base in Jeddah and launched narrow-body flights under the Nesma Airlines brand.

The chief executive was taking advantage of the long-awaited liberalisation of domestic air transport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which had for years been dominated by just two airlines: flag-carrier Saudia and Flynas. Another two carriers – SaudiGulf and Flyadeal – were also granted licences around the same time.

From day one, Nesma KSA struggled to make a profit on the busy Jeddah to Riyadh trunk route...

Friday, 1 February 2019

Interview: Talal Abdulkarim, Syrian Arab Airlines CEO


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Syrian Arab Airlines provoked a curious mixture of applause and raised eyebrows at the annual meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Cairo in November, when chief executive, Talal Abdulkarim, urged the industry group to hold its next get-together in Damascus.

The Syrian capital would not have been the first venue to spring to mind when AACO began making plans for its 2019 meeting. In all honesty, it was probably dead last.

Syria has been torn apart by eight years of brutal civil war that began with an Arab Spring uprising but quickly morphed into a multi-faceted battle between regional governments, world powers and a spectrum of rebel groups – most notorious among them the fanatical Islamists of Daesh, who at one point controlled roughly half the country...

Pichler flies the flag against the high threat of low-cost


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Ryanair’s decision to launch 14 routes to Jordan last year could easily have been a disaster for Royal Jordanian Airlines, the country’s flag-carrier.

Only two other Middle Eastern and North African nations – Israel and Morocco – have experienced a large-scale influx of low-cost airlines from Europe. The flag-carriers of both countries struggled financially when their markets opened up to no-frills competition.

Yet, despite facing the same headwinds, Royal Jordanian delivered an 87% rise in net profits in the first nine months of last year, accelerating the turnaround launched by new chief executive Stefan Pichler...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Syphax back from the dead


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Mohamed Frikha could not have picked a worse time to establish his airline than 2011, the year in which Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in a popular revolt that served as the spark for the Arab Spring uprisings.

Although it seemed like a period of renewal and change in Tunisia – and, indeed, the North African country has fared much better than its neighbours in the years that have followed – fortune was not smiling on Syphax.

Flag-carrier Tunisair threw down the first hurdle by instructing its ground-handling division to block its rival’s very first flight. Then airspace in Libya – a vital market for any Tunisian airline – was shut down as that country spiralled into civil war. Soon after, a pair of Daesh terror attacks targeting holidaymakers in Tunis and Sousse decimated tourism demand in Tunisia. And finally, technical problems with the airline’s Airbus A330 grounded its only long-haul route to Montreal.

“We did not have luck,” Frikha shrugs...

Interview: Nevzat Arşan, AtlasGlobal CCO


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AtlasGlobal’s chairman, Murat Ersoy, turned heads last year when he pledged to create an alliance of nine different airlines spread across the world.

The Turkish carrier’s appetite for overseas subsidiaries was not by itself surprising. The company rebranded from AtlasJet in 2015 to underline its global aspirations, and it already holds shares in three such ventures: AtlasGlobal Ukraine, Iraq’s ZagrosJet and Kazakhstan’s Jet One.

But the scale of the plan – and its focus on protected markets like Saudi Arabia and Russia – shocked many, particularly given the difficulties that Ersoy has encountered with his existing subsidiaries...

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Interview: Abdulaziz Al Raisi, Oman Air CEO


Full article in PDF format: page 19-22 & cover

Like the Gulf super-connectors, Oman Air carries more than two-thirds of its passengers on transfer flights over its hub. This sixth-freedom model allows the flag-carrier to surpass the limitations of its home market, unlocking routes and frequencies that could never be sustained by Oman’s population of just 4.8 million.

Unlike its better-known neighbours in the UAE and Qatar, however, the Muscat-based airline is now rolling back its reliance on transfer traffic.

New chief executive Abdulaziz Al Raisi is targeting a 50/50 split between connecting flows and point-to-point flows within a couple of years, and he wants to achieve this even as Oman Air accelerates the growth of its fleet and network.

“With sixth-freedom traffic you are going into competition with a lot of giant airlines, big players. It’s very hard for us as a small airline to survive in that market,” Al Raisi explained...

Interview: Mehmet Nane, Pegasus CEO


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Pegasus Airlines strengthened its recovery in the first quarter of this year, lifting passenger numbers by 18% as holidaymakers in Western Europe and Russia rekindled their love affair with Turkish resorts.

The positive result comes just two years after the low-cost carrier sunk to a rare loss amid a perfect storm of Daesh terror attacks, a failed military coup and a diplomatic row with Russia. Fears of a lengthy downturn were dispelled by last year’s profit, and with demand still growing chief executive Mehmet Nane is in bullish mood about the airline’s prospects.

Despite his newfound optimism, however, the challenges facing developing nations in general and Turkey in particular loom large at Pegasus...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

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...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Interview: Stefan Pichler, Royal Jordanian Airlines CEO


Full article in PDF format

When Royal Jordanian Airlines ran a series of advertisements mocking Donald Trump, the US President, and making light of his laptop ban for Middle Eastern flights, many of the people sharing its messages on social media had never even heard of the airline – let alone flown with it.

Despite flying its country’s flag for more than half a century, Royal Jordanian still lacks the scale and brand recognition of its Gulf competitors. It has also become a financial burden on the government of Jordan, its 26% shareholder, posting net losses in four of the six years since the Arab Spring.

New chief executive Stefan Pichler admits that regional instability has held the airline back. Neighbouring Syria used to be a major source of connecting traffic before civil war closed its skies, while routes to Iraq, Libya and Yemen were also abandoned when violence flared in their borders. Surrounded by conflict, Jordan’s own tourism sector has nosedived as Westerners steer clear of what they perceive to be a dangerous neighbourhood...

Interview: Ilyes Mnakbi, Tunisair CEO


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The European Union’s delegation to Tunisia could not have struck a more optimistic tone in December, when EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc met with officials in Tunis to conclude negotiations over the looming Open Skies treaty between the two sides.

Tunisia’s government has been inching towards the treaty for several years, emboldened by the success of Morocco’s deal with the EU in 2006. That landmark agreement saw tourist arrivals rocketing by 60% over five years, propelled by an influx of European low-cost carriers to the country’s popular holiday resorts. Tunisia’s treaty, Bulc predicted, will be no less transformative...

Bridging the Gulf


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When SaudiGulf Airlines applied for an operating licence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2012, owners Al Qahtani Group believed that a winning bid would grant them access to a heavily under-served duopolistic market.

By the end of the year, it was clear that SaudiGulf would not be the only company emerging from the tender process with flying rights. Al Maha Airways, a subsidiary of Qatar Airways, was also approved to launch operations. And while its plans ultimately came to naught, two other market entrants were waiting in the wings: Nesma Airlines, a regional carrier formerly based in Egypt; and Flyadeal, a low-cost subsidiary of flag-carrier Saudia.

Together with privately-owned Flynas, five separate carriers now ply routes across the kingdom. Though fantastic for passengers, this explosion of competition has left SaudiGulf re-evaluating a business model that presupposed rapid growth and untapped demand...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ban on the run


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After months of threatening to roll out its laptop ban globally, the US Department of Homeland Security in June unveiled a raft of new security measures aimed at fighting terrorism without further inconveniencing passengers.

America’s new approach obliges foreign airports to adopt more stringent measures in relation to explosive-trace detection, canine security and vetting of airport personnel. Any gateways that fail to comply will be prohibited from allowing large electronic devices in the passenger cabins of flights to the US – echoing the measures placed on seven Arab countries plus Turkey in March.

At the time of writing, six of those affected countries – the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan – have been lifted from the ban, which was hastily rolled out after intelligence agencies uncovered a possible Daesh plot to smuggle bombs in the battery compartments of laptops...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Interview: Abdelhamid Addou, Royal Air Maroc CEO


Full article in PDF format: page 19-21 & cover

When King Mohammed VI appointed Abdelhamid Addou as chairman and chief executive of Royal Air Maroc in February, he fired the starting gun for a new era of growth at the flag-carrier after five tough years of restructuring.

The exact nature of that growth has not yet been finalised – management are promising to unveil a new vision in early 2017 – but, as Casablanca prepares to host the 49th annual meeting of the Arab Air Carriers’ Organisation in November, it is clear that Morocco’s flag-carrier is once again in the ascendance.

“The idea today is based on the new health of the company,” Addou told Arabian Aerospace during an interview at Casablanca’s old Anfa Airport, where the flag-carrier is headquartered...

Monday, 1 August 2016

Iran Air's dealmaker


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While everyone expected that the lifting of nuclear sanctions against Iran would unleash a flurry of deal-making, the scale of the ambitions laid out by flag-carrier Iran Air in January took many observers by surprise.

Within a fortnight of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – an international agreement that lifts sweeping embargoes against the country – Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi had announced a heads-of-agreement between Iran Air and Airbus for 118 aircraft. A parallel deal with ATR covered up to 40 turboprops for the flag-carrier.

In June, yet another memorandum to buy 80 aircraft from Boeing brought Iran Air’s provisional orderbook to a jaw-dropping 238 planes – nearly ten times the number it deploys today...

Interview: Saeed Kalhori, Kish Air Deputy Managing Director


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Kish Island – pronounced "quiche" – has been a focal point for Iranian aviation since the 1970s, when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, transformed the desolate Gulf island into a luxury casino and vacation resort.

Its small airport was specifically designed to handle the supersonic Concorde, which whisked foreign dignitaries in from Paris under a wet-lease agreement with Iran Air.

Much like the flag-carrier's own order for Concordes, however, the debauchery came to an end with the 1979 Islamic Revolution that deposed the Shah and introduced more conservative values across the country. Kish now adheres to the same religious codes that govern the rest of Iran – alcohol is forbidden; hijabs are mandatory for females.

The island forged a new path in the 1980s by becoming one of Iran's free-trade zones. Governing body the Kish Free Zone Organisation (KFZO) now woos overseas investors with the promise of visa-free travel; 15-year tax exemptions; and no restrictions on foreign ownership.

Its overarching plan is to transform Kish into "the next Dubai" – an oasis for business and high-end tourism in the Persian Gulf...

Interview: Mahmoud Shekarabi, Qeshm Air CEO


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Qeshm Island, like its smaller but better-known neighbour Kish Island, doesn't feature in the travel bucket-lists of many international tourists.

Of the 397,000 people who flew to the island in the Strait of Hormuz last year, three quarters were Iranian nationals.

Qeshm's Dayrestan Airport ranks as only the 13th largest gateway in Iran by aircraft movements, despite being the main entry point for one of the country's much-touted free-trade zones. No foreign carriers fly there on a regular basis.

"Our customers are Iranian tourists mostly," confirmed Mahmoud Shekarabi, chief executive of Qeshm Air, the airline that provides two-thirds of seating capacity at the island. "Due to the sanctions there were some problems for businessmen to fly here [in the past].

"But I believe there's going to be changes. Before, there was tourism and just maybe some students. Now it's going to be businessmen, students, tourists, families...

Meraj shrugs off sanctions


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The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran may be a watershed moment for the country's civil aviation sector, but not all domestic operators are seeing immediate benefits.

Meraj Airlines, along with Mahan Air and Caspian Airlines, continues to be shackled by terrorism-related sanctions – a handicap that stems from its alleged support for Iranian military activity in Syria.

The company was founded in 2010 and partly functions as a scheduled passenger airline, deploying three Airbus A320s and two A300-600s from Tehran, Mashhad and Kish.

But it also operates VIP flights on behalf of the Iranian Government with a mixed fleet of A320-family jets, A340s, Boeing 737-200s, 707-300s and Falcon 50s. It is this facilitating role for the Government that has aroused the concern of the US Treasury, which accuses Meraj of ferrying "illicit cargo, including weapons" to the Syrian regime...