Showing posts with label The Economist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Economist. Show all posts

Monday, 29 July 2019

How ham-and-cheese paninis are saving Ryanair’s dough


Full article on economist.com

Few readers of Gulliver will be surprised to hear that Ryanair is the largest low-cost carrier in Europe. Having flown 139m passengers last year, the Irish company is second only to Lufthansa, a group of full-service carriers, in terms of passenger traffic on the continent. At Ryanair’s current rate of expansion, it will almost certainly take the top spot next year. Slightly more surprisingly, the airline has become huge in the catering world as well. “We’re the largest seller of ham-and-cheese paninis in Europe”, claims Neil Sorahan, the airline’s finance director. He likens its food-and-drink sales to putting “the equivalent of 455 7/11s [convenience stores] in the sky every day”...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Mutton dressed as lamb


Full article on economist.com

Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, has long defied conventional wisdom when it comes to branding. Its garish yellow and blue livery–much like its loud-mouthed chief executive, Michael O’Leary–is an assault on the senses. While other airlines try to woo passengers with sophisticated marketing, Ryanair slaps them in the face with its low prices. The strategy has served it well, appealing to a majority of short-haul flyers who prize cheap fares over other frills. Since last year, however, Ryanair has changed course. Rather than relying on just one brand, it is now diversifying...

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A Sukhoi Superjet meets a fiery end in Moscow


Full article on economist.com

In video footage that will make even the most seasoned air-safety experts wince, a Sukhoi Superjet operated by Aeroflot, Russia’s flag carrier, has erupted in flames while attempting an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. The devastating crash was filmed by at least one CCTV camera and four handheld devices, including two wielded by passengers on the stricken jet. None of the recordings is easy to watch. But it is the CCTV footage, which shows the airliner make a hard landing, bounce perhaps 20ft in the air, and plunge back down with sufficient force to break the undercarriage and set the fuel tanks alight, that is most distressing. At least 41 of the 78 passengers and crew on-board died...

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Why does Stockholm Arlanda Airport hide its buses?


Full article on economist.com

Always on the lookout for a bargain, Gulliver takes great pride in using public transport when he travels abroad. Journeys between airports and city centres are no exception. Most of the time finding the cheapest route takes no more effort than logging onto an airport’s website or opening a navigation app such as Google Maps. Sometimes, however, airports are not co-operative, trying their best to shove visitors onto convenient but overpriced transport links. Arlanda Airport near Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is by far the worst offender Gulliver has encountered...

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Boeing counts the cost of grounding the 737 MAX


Full article on economist.com

When Boeing grounded the global fleet of 737 MAXs in March, Ryanair, the biggest buyer of the plane in Europe, insisted that the move will have little impact on its network. That was either wishful thinking or misinformation. Just three weeks later, the number of flights it had scheduled from London to Edinburgh, Britain’s busiest domestic route, fell 85%. Frequencies from London to Belfast plummeted 91%...

Friday, 29 March 2019

The ow factor


Full article on economist.com

As is always the case when an airline goes bust, the collapse of WOW Air, an Icelandic low-cost carrier, has left a trail of financial destruction at home and abroad. More than 1,000 airline employees have lost their jobs. Tens of thousands of customers will face a battle to recover money spent on unused tickets. Those in the middle of their trips are stranded. With a population of less than 350,000 people, Iceland’s economy is neither large enough nor diversified enough to shrug off the failure. Last year the government warned that WOW’s collapse would shrink GDP and send the krona, the local currency, plummeting...

Monday, 11 March 2019

Another brand new Boeing falls from the sky


Full article on economist.com & video summary

For the second time in five months, a virtually new Boeing 737 MAX airliner has crashed within minutes of taking off, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew aboard. On March 10th Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 departed from Addis Ababa, the carrier’s home airport, for what should have been a routine two-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. It fell out of the sky just six minutes later...

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The Boeing 747 jetliner turns 50


Full article on economist.com

Earlier this month, a decommissioned Boeing 747 airliner was towed down a Dutch motorway to its final destination as a novelty hotel complex. Its owners reckon they can turn the jumbo jet into a tourist attraction. They are not wrong. Sweden’s Stockholm Arlanda Airport is already using one as a hostel (its best room is the cockpit suite). In Bahrain, developers are planning to turn a submerged 747 into the centrepiece of a new underwater theme park. Having celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 747’s first flight this month, fans of the iconic jumbo jet know that it is falling out of favour with airlines. Before long, ground-based encounters will be the only way of getting up close and personal with these planes...

Friday, 8 February 2019

Airbus calls time on the A380


Full article on economist.com

After a century of refining their craft, planemakers have become masters of building safe, reliable jets that bring air travel within reach of the masses. Occasionally their products win cult status among passengers. But commercial success and popular appeal rarely overlap. Concorde, the world’s only reliable supersonic passenger jet, wowed travellers for nearly three decades. Beloved by all, it was nonetheless a financial disaster that only stayed airborne because of political will and vast government subsidies. Sixteen years after Concorde’s final flight, another game-changing aircraft that passengers love to fly is facing an uncertain future: the A380...

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Europe’s largest regional airline is bought for the price of a West London flat


Full article on economist.com

If a good compromise is one where all parties are left dissatisfied, this week’s bailout of Flybe by Connect Airways—a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic, Britain’s second-largest airline—must be a very good deal indeed. Bosses of the regional airline, which is Europe’s largest, have the ignominy of selling a company once worth a quarter of a billion pounds for just £2.8m ($3.6m). Investors will be paid just 1p for shares they might have purchased for £3.41 when the airline was listed on the London Stock Exchange eight years ago. And the consortium—including Stobart Group, which owns an Irish regional airline—inherits £82m of debt and relatively few assets for its trouble...

Thursday, 29 November 2018

British Airways should not be allowed to buy Flybe


Full article on economist.com

Within days of putting itself up for sale, Flybe, a beleaguered regional airline based in Britain, has attracted interest from the country’s two largest carriers. Its executives are hoping for a bidding war between International Airlines Group (IAG), which is the parent company of British Airways (BA), Britain’s flag carrier, and Virgin Atlantic, its main rival. Flybe’s shares have surged in value due to the tussle. But only one of the bids would be good for the travelling public...

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Flybe is in urgent need of a new strategy


Full article on economist.com

Despite plying European skies for nearly four decades, Flybe, a regional airline based in Exeter, Britain, has never suffered a major safety-related incident. Its pilots and technicians deserve much praise for this stellar safety record. Sadly, investors in the airline have not been looked after nearly as well. Those who bought shares in the firm when it listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2010 and still have them are nursing a massive 97% loss in value. Recent profit warnings have compelled Flybe’s board to put it up for sale–nine months after spurning a takeover attempt...

Friday, 16 November 2018

How Syria’s flag carrier plans to remain airborne


Full article on economist.com

About a decade ago Syrian Arab Airlines, the state-owned flag carrier of Syria, was planning an order for 50 shiny new Airbus jetliners. They never arrived. Today it operates five elderly ones. The country’s ability to expand its civilian fleet with Western aircraft stumbled when President Bashar al-Assad took the reins from his father in 2000. It disintegrated 13 years later, when civil war swept across Syria and Mr Assad shocked the world with his indiscriminate military tactics, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians. With a helping hand from Russia, his brutal methods have succeeded. His troops now control about 85% of Syrian territory. And SyrianAir is once again shopping for planes—albeit, this time, in Moscow...

Monday, 29 October 2018

A brand new passenger jet crashes in Indonesia


Full article on economist.com

On October 29th a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner, one of the newest and most technologically advanced passenger planes in the world, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after leaving Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. If, as is feared, none of the 189 passengers and crew aboard Lion Air Flight 610 survived, the crash will become the second deadliest in Indonesia’s history. It is also the first involving a MAX aircraft, which only entered service last year. Speculating on the causes at this early stage is both unhelpful to investigators and disrespectful to victims. Most aircraft losses stem from a web of technical, environmental and human factors, the nuances of which take months to unearth. But, as they get to work, investigators will inevitably have Indonesia’s poor air-safety record at the front of their minds...

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Primed for failure


Full article on economist.com

Primera Air changed its low-cost business model this year by adding scheduled long-haul flights to its predominantly short-haul charter network. Hrafn Thorgeirsson, its chief executive, had said that the change was necessary to avoid the structural decline of the European market for charter flights. He could have saved himself the bother. The airline entered administration on October 2nd after failing to secure further funding for its loss-making long-haul operation, which was beset by delays and cancellations during its first and only summer season. Its collapse leaves thousands of customers stranded and tens of thousands more out of pocket...

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Ethiopian Airlines is founding new African flag carriers


Full article on economist.com

When The Economist wrote about Ethiopian Airlines in 1989, we praised the company’s “unqualified success” despite operating in a “disastrous economy” infected with civil war, famine and Marxist inefficiency. Having grown its passenger count 17-fold since then–to the benefit, not the detriment, of its profits–Ethiopian is now the envy of all African governments. Most are saddled with loss-making flag-carriers or none at all. Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian’s boss, wants to change this by helping some of his neighbours set up new companies and others overhaul existing ones. But while his intentions are good, he cannot fix the broken sector alone...

Friday, 24 August 2018

Ryanair: Not so nice now


Full article on economist.com

For the second time in a year, Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, is changing the way it charges for baggage. Until 2018 Ryanair had allowed passengers to carry one small bag and one wheelie bag in the cabin for free. It changed its policy in January—purportedly to speed up boarding—by making passengers dump their wheelie bags on the tarmac so ground staff could chuck them in the hold at the last minute. Under the latest rules, effective from November, wheelie bags will attract a fee no matter how they are transported: £6 ($7.80) in the cabin or £8 in the hold. For an airline whose customers often pay £10 or less for a ticket, the change is dramatic...

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A suicidal airline employee shows mercy


Full article on economist.com

The skies above Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were closed on August 10th after an airline employee stole an empty 76-seat plane and performed death-defying aerial acrobatics before crashing the turboprop onto a small island. That no-one but the pilot himself was killed had nothing to do with intervention by the military, the airport, the airline or air-traffic controllers. It had everything to do with the relatively benign intentions of the employee, who appears not to have been a trained pilot and refused to attempt a runway landing for fear he might cause ground casualties...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

A misogynist cannot promote gender equality in aviation


Full article on economist.com

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) was founded in 1945 to unify and promote the interests of airlines around the world. At this week’s AGM in Sydney, despite efforts to the contrary by some, IATA’s message was as dated as the organisation itself: women are too dense to run airlines. Akbar al Baker, the group’s new chairman and the boss of Qatar Airways, a Persian Gulf carrier, told attendees that “of course”, his airline “has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position”. He later apologised for what he claimed was a joke blown out of proportion by the media. Yet this was not Mr al Baker’s first foray into misogyny: last year he mocked American carriers for hiring “grandmothers” as flight attendants, boasting that the average age of his cabin crew is 26 years. Until recently, he forbade female staff from marrying or getting pregnant...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Why airliners in Cuba and Iran crash so much


Full article on economist.com

When the dream of a smooth flight turns into the nightmare of an airliner crash, understanding what went wrong is sometimes straightforward. That was the case with a Malaysia Airlines flight which crashed in the summer of 2014, killing 298. This week Dutch and Australian investigators conclusively showed that it was shot down by a missile fired by Russian armed forces. But in other cases it is much harder to apportion blame. Such is the complexity of civil aviation that investigators spend years sifting through wreckage, recordings and data logs to work out what went wrong. Often technological, human and environmental faults are the main culprits. Yet another factor can be argued to have caused many of the world’s deadliest air disasters so far this year: economic sanctions...