Showing posts with label Asian Aviation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asian Aviation. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Interview: Ajay Singh, SpiceJet Chairman

Full article in JPG format:
page 44/45 & page 46

India’s government has not always met with universal praise when setting air transportation policies, but the rationale behind prime minister Narendra Modi’s Regional Connectivity Scheme – dubbed Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN), or “let the common man fly”– is hard to fault.

UDAN aims to ensure that the economic benefits of India’s rapid aviation growth are spread equally between all regions, instead of orbiting around wealthy metropolitan areas. The subsidised scheme gives airlines incentives for launching thin routes with regional aircraft, as well as limiting the maximum fare paid by many passengers.

“Aviation cannot be about rich people,” Modi said during a speech in the Gujarati town of Chotila last month. “We have made aviation affordable and within reach of the lesser privileged.”

For low-cost carriers like SpiceJet, engaging with UDAN is as much a commercial necessity as a social obligation. India’s fourth-largest airline has a target of deploying 200 aircraft by 2024 – up from 54 today – amid a scramble for market share in one of the world’s hottest airline sectors, where domestic traffic is growing by 21% a year and 97% of the population still does not fly...

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Interview: Piya Yodmani, NokScoot CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 38/39 & page 40

When the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) red flagged Thailand for “significant safety concerns” in 2015, no airline suffered more than NokScoot, the low-cost long-haul carrier jointly owned by Thailand’s Nok Air and Singapore’s Scoot.

The start-up had just initiated charter flights to Japan and South Korea – its two main target markets – and was weeks away from maturing the links into regular scheduled services. Before it could do so, however, ICAO issued the red-flag warning and both countries stopped granting new route approvals for Thai operators.

Chief executive Piya Yodmani admits that the disruption was a “big headache” for the airline, allowing rival Thai AirAsia X to cement its one-year head-start in the all-important Northeast Asian market. But he says the company is now back on track, reporting its first ever quarterly profit in May and rekindling plans for Japanese and South Korean flights as soon as ICAO gives the green light to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)...

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Interview: Benyamin Ismail, AirAsia X CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 29 & page 30/31

Malaysia’s AirAsia X is rightly considered a trailblazer in the low-cost long-haul market, having pioneered no-frills wide-body operations at a time when few in the industry thought the model viable.

Its launch a decade ago precipitated a flurry of activity across the Asia Pacific region, with rivals in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand rapidly developing their own low-cost long-haul products. Even in Europe, where the concept had failed to gain traction for decades, it was not long before Norwegian Air Shuttle began flying eastward to Asia and westward to the Americas – pushing down average fares in both corridors.

This encroachment by low-cost carriers into markets formerly dominated by full-service airlines is described by Sir Tim Clark, president of Dubai’s Emirates Airline, as a “gathering storm” for the industry...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Air Astana turns to transfer traffic

Full article in JPG format:
page 38/39 & page 40

The decision by Kazakhstan’s government to free float its currency in August 2015 had an immediate impact on Air Astana, driving up costs and dampening demand as the oil-producing nation adjusted to a new era of low commodity prices and high inflation.

Peter Foster, the flag-carrier’s president and chief executive, admits that the rapid devaluation of the Tenge was a “massive negative” for the 15-year-old company, which is jointly owned by sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna and BAE Systems. The airline’s revenues fell 20% over the course of 2016, with foreign investors thinking twice about the country and Kazakhs tightening their belts in response.

“Free float ought to have been called freefall, because the currency really went into meltdown this time last year,” he tells Asian Aviation.

“But thank goodness it did happen, because it would have been completely impossible to sustain the Tenge at the level that it was. And at least in terms of local salaries and local expenditure, that now is reflective of genuine economic conditions...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Green skies ahead?

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Depending on whom you listen to, the carbon offsetting deal struck at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in October was either an “historic” act of environmental altruism by the aviation industry, or a shameful attempt to “evade responsibility” for the damage caused by flying.

Dubbed the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the accord will see countries responsible for the majority of cross-border emissions offsetting their pollution above a predetermined level. States will achieve this by investing in United Nations-approved projects that remove greenhouse gases from the environment, or otherwise mitigate global warming. If fully enacted alongside the Paris Agreement – another UN-brokered deal that covers domestic flying – CORSIA should deliver the industry’s all-important goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards.

The need for airlines to play their part in tackling climate change is disputed by almost no-one...

Friday, 1 July 2016

Interview: Arif Wibowo, Garuda Indonesia CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 40/41 & page 42

Garuda Indonesia opened a new chapter in its history in December 2014, when Arif Wibowo took over the reins from Emirsyah Satar following the completion of his five-year Quantum Leap programme.

To say that Satar had big shoes to fill does little justice to the scale of his legacy – transforming Garuda from a little-know flag-carrier with a patchy safety reputation into one of only eight SkyTrax 5-star airlines on the planet.

As well as overhauling Garuda’s on-board product and brand, Satar led a successful IPO in 2011 that de-fanged government interference and boosted transparency at the flag-carrier. The strong commercial foundation he built soon became a springboard for international growth, narrowing the gap between Garuda and its larger rivals in Southeast Asia.

Yet for Wibowo, who formerly headed up low-cost subsidiary Citilink, Quantum Leap has created challenges as well as opportunities – exposing Garuda to the same supply-side risks that are decimating fortunes elsewhere in Asia...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Interview: Ken Choi, Jeju Air CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 34/35 & page 36

Located on the doorstep of Asia's two largest economies – China to the west, and Japan to the east – South Korea's low-cost carriers (LCCs) are hardly short of opportunities for overseas route development.

That is just as well given their less-than-dynamic home market. Eight out of ten domestic flights in the country either depart from or land in the southern island of Jeju – the only major destination not catered for by South Korea's high-speed rail network, KTX, which is the preferred mode of transport for many.

But while the wider region is awash with attractive leisure and business destinations, capitalising on their potential is not always straightforward...

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Interview: Phee Teik Yeoh, Vistara CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 18/19, page 21 & cover

Having been flying for less than a year, Vistara, the full-service carrier jointly owned by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Mumbai-based TATA Group, is a veritable minnow in the fiercely competitive Indian aviation market.

Despite ramping up operations quickly since its inaugural flight on 9 January, Vistara provides a mere 1.5% of seats in the vast domestic sector.

Its international market share currently stands at zero, much to the annoyance of chief executive Phee Teik Yeoh, and will likely remain there for some time owing to India's controversial 5/20 rule – a regulation that blocks local carriers from overseas routes until they complete five years of operations and deploy at least 20 aircraft...

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Interview: Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 18/19, page 20 & cover

During his time in the Chicago office of Unilever, Christopher Luxon helped the consumer goods giant burn its way through "easily half a billion dollars" a year on US advertising and promotion.

His subsequent appointment as the chief executive of Air New Zealand in January 2013 came with a rather more modest budget, but what the flag-carrier lacks in spending power it easily makes up for in zany brand initiatives and out-of-the-box guerrilla campaigns.

"Marketing gets us punching above our weight and gets us being talked about. It positions our brand as something different," Luxon tells Asian Aviation...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Freight of expectation

Full article in JPG format:
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...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Interview: Peter Foster, Air Astana CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 18, page 20/21 & cover

If there is one message that Peter Foster, the president and chief executive of Air Astana, wants to get across in 2015, it is that Kazakhstan "is not Russia".

As the second largest member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional grouping of former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan's public image all too often falls on the wrong side of stereotyping.

The woefully inaccurate but irrepressibly funny mockumentary film Borat, released in 2006, epitomised many of these lingering anti-Soviet prejudices.

They are perhaps forgivable misconceptions: Kazakhstan's second official language is Russian; and its president-for-life entered office way back in 1989, when the country was still part of the USSR. But the geopolitical identities of these two neighbours have, in more recent times, sharply diverged – a point that Foster is keen to emphasise while Russia marches defiantly towards global pariah status...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

MPL makes its mark

Full article in JPG format:
page 24/25, page 26 & page 28/29

When the concept of Multi-Crew Pilot License (MPL) training was first introduced to the aviation industry in 2006, many cynics feared that the initiative was a smokescreen for fast-tracking cadet graduations in order to fill the deepening pilot shortage across Asia.

There is no disputing that the continent faces an uphill struggle in training adequate numbers of pilots for its projected aviation growth. According to Boeing’s latest forecast, 216,000 new pilots will be required across Asia by 2033. More than one-third of those vacancies will be in China, where domestic training infrastructure is lagging far behind the country's booming air transport sector.

But several years into the industry-wide roll out of MPL – which is backed by both the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – it is clear that the advantages of the concept go far beyond speed and cost. To the contrary, the competency-based ethos underpinning MPL is now widely accepted as building and improving upon more traditional training programmes...

Monday, 1 September 2014

Interview: Woranate Laprabang, Thai Smile CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 18/19, page 20, page 22 & cover

Thailand’s long-running political crisis has had a predictable impact on tourism flows to the country, with holidaymakers understandably feeling nervous about the May 2014 coup d'état that ushered in the current military junta. Visitor numbers fell 10.7% year-on-year to 1.7 million in May, following months of earlier declines fuelled by violent street protests.

Flag carrier Thai Airways International (THAI) has felt the pinch more than most, posting four consecutive quarterly losses and seeing its load factors slip below 60%. Political meddling remains an endemic problem at the airline, which had five executive vice presidents replaced by military appointees in July. That followed the resignation of another five board members in June, severely undermining management’s ability to mount a cohesive strategic turnaround.

But despite the challenging climate, both THAI and its full-service rival Bangkok Airways are confident of recovery. Thailand has experienced 19 coups since its absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932, and each time the tourists returned as security prevailed...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Narrowbody converts

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The waning popularity of the Boeing 747-400 has been evident for some time, with oil prices above $100 making the four-engine aircraft a costly option for passenger operators.

But whereas ageing widebodies were traditionally considered ideal targets for passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversions, structural changes in the troubled air cargo market are now dampening demand. Instead, cargo operators are turning to more nimble narrowbody jets, leaving a growing numbers of widebodies abandoned in storage.

The trend is borne out by statistics. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of parked 747-400Fs spiked from 18 to 42 globally. Despite a wave of retired passenger units entering the secondary market, conversions of all widebody types – also including 767s, MD-11s and Airbus A300s – collapsed from 29 to just 8...

Interview: Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 19, page 20/21 & cover

The European Union’s decision to remove Cebu Pacific from its aviation blacklist in April was a public relations coup for the Philippines’ largest carrier.

The move came in the same month as America’s Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the country's safety rating to Category 1. That paved the way for both Cebu Pacific and flag carrier Philippine Airlines to start evaluating US-bound services, as well as pursuing codeshares with American carriers.

Both measures were expected after ICAO, the UN’s aviation body, reported in early 2013 that Filipino regulators had addressed all significant safety concerns. For Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific’s chief executive, the upgrades are proof of the “dramatic improvement in the Philippine's regulatory reputation” over the past three years...

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Composite repair challenge

Full article in JPG format:
page 23, page 24/25 & page 26

When footage of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 on fire at London Heathrow Airport was broadcast around the world in July 2013, the industry braced itself for another potential setback to the Dreamliner programme.

The global 787 fleet had already been grounded for three months following a series of electrical fires caused by on-board lithium-ion batteries.

With the Ethiopian blaze breaking out in the upper aft fuselage of the stationary aircraft – well away from the main and APU batteries – it was clear that Boeing had a new problem on its hands. Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch quickly placed the blame on an incorrectly installed battery within the aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter, allowing the industry to breathe a collective sigh of relief...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Interview: Kapila Chandrasena, SriLankan Airlines CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 39 & page 40/41

As the country's fourth highest earner of foreign exchange, tourism has long been considered vital to the economic health of Sri Lanka.

The sector has withstood numerous shocks in recent times, overcoming a major terror attack on Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport in 2001, the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, and the global financial crisis in 2007. Each time the tourists withdrew at first, only to flock back in still-greater numbers.

But since the end of the civil war in May 2009, the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean' has enjoyed its largest growth spurt ever. Visitor numbers have almost tripled to 1.27 million in four years, with flag carrier SriLankan Airlines leading the charge to revitalise the island's fortunes...