Showing posts with label Routes News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Routes News. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Interview: Vipula Gunatilleka, SriLankan Airlines CEO

Full article in JPG format: page 36/37 & page 38

In the decade since Sri Lanka’s civil war came to an end, tourism in the island nation has grown fivefold to more than 2.3 million visitors per year.

The sector accounted for 5% of GDP in 2018, almost exactly matching the amount of money that Sri Lanka’s government spends on servicing its foreign debt. With an ambitious target of 5 million visitors in 2021, officials had been hoping that tourism could pull the country out of its budgetary crisis.

That optimism evaporated on Easter Sunday, however, when a team of suicide bombers inspired by Islamic State killed more than 250 people in coordinated attacks on hotels and churches across the island...

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Interview: Clifford Chetcuti, Air Malta CEO

Full article in JPG format: page 30/31 & page 32

Air Malta was profitable last year after nearly two decades in the red, soothing worries about its financial health and validating the new strategy launched by the country’s Labour government.

With a dozen European carriers closing their doors since the beginning of 2018 – including well-known names such as WOW Air, Germania and Flybmi – pressure had been mounting on the Mediterranean island flag carrier to end its lossmaking streak.

An earlier restructuring plan focused on contraction was not successful, and in 2016 Brussels ruled that Air Malta was not eligible for further state aid...

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Interview: Thomas Hallam, Somon Air CEO

Full article in JPG format: page 49, page 50 & page 53

Tajikistan’s Somon Air launched operations in 2008 with the aim of breaking the monopoly enjoyed by state-owned flag-carrier Tajik Air.

Chief executive Thomas Hallam makes no bones about the challenges of running a business in Tajikistan – an impoverished central Asian republic where corruption and cronyism still dominate the corporate landscape.

But by learning from the success of Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag-carrier, Somon Air is rapidly overcoming these obstacles. An obsessive focus on safety, transparency and international standards has secured the company both IATA membership and TCO (Third Country Operator) authorisation in Europe – two recognised benchmarks for operational excellence...

Back to the Silk Road

Full article in JPG format: page 121, page 122 & page 124

Distilling complex economic strategies into straightforward, digestible terms is never an easy task, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is no exception.

Originally launched in 2013 as the One Belt One Road Initiative, Beijing renamed its pet-project two years ago following confusion about the use of the singular word “one”. In fact, the BRI encompasses an array of land and maritime trade routes that collectively bind together the economies of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Many of the BRI’s land corridors overlap with the ancient Silk Road networks that allowed traders to move their goods from East to West for more than a thousand years. But there are new pathways too – in regions once skirted by the cart-pulling camels and horses – and there is even now a “Digital Belt and Road” that focuses on e-commerce and scientific cooperation.

Put simply, the BRI means whatever the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping wants it to mean – and its definition and scope changes year by year...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Interview: Jann Tamm, Nordica CEO

Full article in PDF format

When Estonian Air was ordered by the European Commission to pay back more than €85 million of illegal state aid in November 2015, its government owner was immediately resigned to the need to shut down the underperforming flag-carrier.

Had the Commission ruled differently, Tallink, Estonia’s main ferry operator, was waiting in the wings as an investor. But there was no prospect of privatising the airline once the EU had saddled it with such huge debts.

Fortunately for Estonian travellers, the government anticipated the ruling and had already set up a new flag-carrier by the time of the Commission’s decision. This contingency planning allowed the new company, Nordic Aviation Group, to launch operations on the very same day that Estonian Air was grounded – initially as a virtual airline under contract with Slovenia’s Adria Airways.

It has taken just two years for the new flag-carrier, operating as Nordica, to become an independent company with its own Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), a fleet of 18 aircraft and a positive financial outlook...

Interview: Krešimir Kučko, Gulf Air CEO

Full article in PDF format

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel may have emerged victorious from the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, but for many spectators the star of the show was nowhere to be seen on the Formula One track.

Before the race even got under way, Gulf Air, Bahrain’s flag-carrier, had stolen the limelight with a flyover by its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – a brand new aircraft type for the kingdom and an emblem of the ambitious plan being led by chief executive Krešimir Kučko, who was appointed last year with a mandate to revitalise the airline’s long-waning influence in the region...

Monday, 1 January 2018

Interview: Hrafn Thorgeirsson, Primera Air CEO

Full article in PDF format

Amid a recent flurry of activity in the low-cost long-haul sector, one new operator stands out as relatively unknown on both sides of the Atlantic.

Primera Air stormed onto the scene last year by announcing plans to fly from London Stansted, Birmingham and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports to New York, Boston and Toronto – a radical departure from its short-haul charter specialism.

The company has an eclectic history that defies easy classification. Having started life as an Icelandic airline, JetX, it was acquired by and renamed after Primera Travel Group, a conglomerate of Scandinavian travel agencies and tour operators. Newly formed Primera Air then ditched its Icelandic identity, first by acquiring a Danish operating licence and then another in Latvia...

Pegasus gallops back to profit

Full article in PDF format

By the time Turkey had suppressed the military coup d'état of July 2016, it was clear that tough times lay ahead for the country’s aviation sector.

A series of high-profile terror attacks – including one devastating assault on Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport – had already shattered Turkey’s appeal as a tourism hotspot and intercontinental aviation hub. Political unrest only looked set to damage its reputation further.

With flag-carrier Turkish Airlines and low-cost rival Pegasus Airlines both posting operating losses for the year – their first in recent memory – concerns grew that Turkey’s era of double-digit passenger growth was grinding to a halt. The subsequent election of US President Donald Trump and the imposition of his laptop ban on Turkish and Middle Eastern carriers made 2017 appear no less ominous.

Yet, despite battling headwinds on multiple fronts, the two network carriers rebooted their growth plans last year after bouncing back into profit. Amid a vastly improved security climate and a better-than-expected recovery in outbound demand, Turkey’s aviation sector now looks stronger than ever...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Interview: Yasser El Ramly, Air Cairo CEO

Full article in PDF format

Despite crisis after crisis paralysing the Egyptian market in recent years, Air Cairo is sticking by its growth plans and even stepping up activity in Europe as it evolves from a mixed charter/low-cost carrier into a hybrid scheduled operator.

The airline was launched in 1997 as a charter specialist, but gradually diversified with low-cost flying after EgyptAir, the state-owned flag-carrier, became a shareholder in 2003. Its brand name is somewhat misleading, with the majority of flights departing from secondary cities like Sohag and Asyut on the Nile River; Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada on the Red Sea; and Alexandria on the northern coast.

Although a good portion of the network caters for regional flows between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Air Cairo’s leisure bases have inevitably felt the impact of repeated aviation disasters and scares in the country...

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Interview: Jérôme Maillet Congo Airways Deputy CEO

Full article in PDF format

Last December, an Airbus A310 freighter ploughed into houses after overshooting the runway at Mbuji-Mayi Airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Eight people lost their lives. The disaster came barely four months after loose tarmac slabs on the same runway damaged the stabiliser of a departing Boeing 737-300 passenger jet.

Unfortunately for regular travellers in Africa’s second largest country, incidents such as these are hardly uncommon. The Aviation Safety Network has recorded 24 aircraft crashes in DRC since the turn of the decade, resulting in 167 fatalities. The grim track-record has earned the country a spot in Annex A of the European Union’s aviation blacklist, meaning that all locally-registered airlines are banned from entering EU airspace.

It is precisely because of this worrying background that Air France Consulting agreed to help the Congolese government set up a new flag-carrier – one that would abide by European standards and start mending the country’s tainted reputation for air safety...

Interview: Karam Chand, Royal Brunei Airlines CEO

Full article in PDF format

Royal Brunei Airlines, the flag-carrier of the tiny sultanate of Brunei, is cautiously returning to growth after completing a five-year restructuring plan led by former chief executive Dermot Mannion.

The new roadmap will see Royal Brunei launch services to the Indian subcontinent, while also expanding in North Asia and potentially up-gauging its short-haul fleet.

It will be implemented by Karam Chand, the airline’s new chief executive, who took over from Mannion in March after serving as chief commercial and planning officer for four years. Speaking to Routes News during the IATA AGM in Dublin, Chand credited his predecessor with putting the flag-carrier on a new, more sustainable path...

Friday, 15 April 2016

Iran cleared for take-off

Full article in PDF format: page 32-36 & cover

To describe the mood of the Iranian aviation industry as "upbeat" this year would be something of an understatement.

After a decades-long embargo that blocked Iran from forging ties with the rest of the world, the Islamic Republic flung opens its doors on 16 January 2016 – Implementation Day for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions. Its reintegration culminated years of diplomatic wrangling between Iran and the P5+1 group of international negotiators.

As the first global conference held in Tehran for nearly 40 years, CAPA's Iran Aviation Summit was considered a litmus test for overseas interest in the Middle East's second largest economy.

It did not disappoint...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

UP, UP and away

Full article in JPG format

Last year’s signing of a controversial Open Skies treaty between Israel and Europe may have been good news for passengers, but among local operators it immediately raised fears of a rapid influx of foreign low-cost competitors.

Mindful of the potential for losing market share, Israeli flag carrier El Al in March began operations under a new low-cost brand, UP. The offshoot launched with a fleet of five re-painted Boeing 737-800s, taking over from the mainline unit on flights to Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Kiev and Larnaca...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

THY's flightpath to success

Full article in JPG format: page 22/23, page 24 & cover

When Istanbul's third airport is completed, the mega-hub on the European side of the city should have an annual capacity of 150 million passengers.

The $30 billion project is regrettably still shrouded in political uncertainty, with a court ruling in February blocking construction work until an environmental impact analysis has been conducted. That will almost certainly push the opening date beyond the current, optimistic target of 2018.

But with 150 million passengers already taking to the skies across the country last year, Turkey's political leaders are under no illusions about the urgent need to plan for more growth...

Interview: Steve Gunning, IAG Cargo CEO

Full article in JPG format: page 39 & page 40

IATA's upbeat report on air freight activity in January belied lingering uncertainty about the sector, which has seen years of contraction and sluggish growth since the global financial crisis.

Cargo traffic expanded by 4.5% in the first month of 2014, the industry group said, marking a sharp acceleration of the 1.4% full-year growth recorded in 2013. Just weeks before the update, Tony Tyler, IATA's director general, described air freight markets as the "biggest worry" for the airline industry.

But one month of buoyant traffic does not equate to a decisive turnaround, and freight operators continue to warn that a structural change is taking root across the sector...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

SriLankan Airlines after the war

Full article in JPG format: page 27, page 28 & page 30

When Sri Lanka’s 25-year-long civil war ended in May 2009, the government rightly placed tourism at the heart of its economic recovery.

Visitor numbers have almost tripled since the guns fell silent, with 1.27 million tourists last year re-discovering the island’s pristine beaches and wildlife resorts. Much of the growth has been driven by SriLankan Airlines, which increased its traffic 55% between 2009 and 2013.

But the loss-making flag carrier is not solely focussed on the top line. Chief executive Kapila Chandrasena has also committed to a five-year turnaround plan, and he sees upcoming Oneworld alliance membership as the best vehicle for growing sustainably...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Interview: Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines CEO

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

Having grown its revenue 700% since 2005, you might presume that Ethiopian Airlines will enter a period of consolidation over the coming years. But you would be wrong. The flag carrier is planning to expand another fivefold by 2025, doubling its fleet in the process and establishing a network of hubs across the continent.

“If you divide the history of the airline into two, you can speak of the last seven years and the previous 60 years,” chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam tells Routes News. “Back in 2004/05, we saw that the opportunities for expansion were limitless, based on our geographical location and the high-growth regions we serve … Our mantra and strategy has been fast, profitable and sustainable growth...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Interview: Philippe Moreels, Czech Airlines CEO

Full article in PDF format

Late last year, CSA Czech Airlines was among the scores of central and eastern European carriers desperately seeking the lifeline of foreign direct investment. Miroslav Dvorak, chief executive of parent company Czech Aeroholding, told local press there was a 70% chance the airline would fail in its hunt for a strategic investor. Comparisons with Malev, Hungary's collapsed flag carrier, abounded.

But in March, Korean Air made good on an early expression of interest and agreed to purchase 44% of CSA. The loss-making Czech flag carrier has since re-entered the long-haul market with an Airbus A330 leased from its new partner. While growth is not on the agenda for now – CSA halved its fleet over the past three years under a restructuring programme – chief executive Philippe Moreels believes the airline has re-defined its "strategic raison d'être" and secured its long-term future...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Interview: Michael O'Leary, Ryanair CEO

O'Leary maps out growth plans

Ryanair's expanding fleet of Boeing 737-800s will mainly be put to work restoring capacity in European markets whose home carriers are faltering, chief executive Michael O'Leary tells Routes News, though he adds that talks are ongoing with several countries on the peripheries of the continent.

"The big growth for us in the next five years will be taking more of the traffic from airlines that will be imploding, like SAS, Iberia, Alitalia, and the central European airlines," O'Leary says. The low-cost carrier ordered 175 737-800s at the 2013 Paris Air Show, with 70 aircraft slated for expansion and 105 due to replace older units in the fleet.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Interview: Sergey Emdin, Pulkovo Airport DG

Full article in JPG format: page 32-33 & page 34

As the gateway to Russia's cultural capital, it is perhaps no surprise that Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg consistently posts double-digit growth in annual passenger numbers. Footfall at the airport grew by 16.1% last year to 11.2 million, and director general Sergey Emdin says he is confident that figure will reach 12.5 million in 2013.

But rapid year-on-year growth has placed renewed pressure on the hub to expand its facilities and improve passenger experience. Mindful of this, operator Northern Capital Gateway consortium – comprising Fraport (35.5%), VTB Bank (57.5%) and Copelouzos Group (7%) – has since April 2010 overseen a $1.2 billion modernisation project. The 30-year public-private partnership focusses on construction of a new international terminal, expansion of the apron areas, and development of a hotel and business centre...