Friday, 19 April 2013

Interview: Martin Gauss, Air Baltic CEO

Air Baltic confirms preliminary talks with Japanese carriers

Latvia's government sent a delegation to Japan in April to discuss possible investment in flag carrier Air Baltic, chief executive Martin Gauss tells Flightglobal.

Talks were held between Latvian officials and Japan's two largest carriers - Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) - though Gauss stresses that they were "preliminary discussions" and no decisions have been taken.

State-owned Air Baltic last year said early-stage talks had also been held with unspecified parties in the Persian Gulf and China.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Gambia's dream team

Full article in PDF format: page 26-29 & cover

Since launching regional and intercontinental services in October 2012, Gambia Bird, west Africa's newest flag carrier, has encountered more than its fair share of obstacles. The airline's inability to gain traffic rights to Lagos remains the largest setback, forcing a rethink of early plans for a high-frequency service to the Nigerian metropolis. The prospect, however remote, of Islamist rebellions spreading from Mali across the wider Sahel region is another cause for concern, rattling some European travellers.

But for Gambia Bird's management team – comprising chief executive officer Thomas Wazinski, chief commercial officer Karsten Balke, and chief administration officer Malleh Sallah – the dream of unifying and expanding west Africa's fragmented air infrastructure is inching ever closer to reality...

Fast and furious

Full article in PDF format

Despite launching operations on-time and with load factors approaching 80%, African low-cost start-up FastJet has flown into myriad legal difficulties since taking to the skies in November 2012. The Stelios Haji-Ioannou-backed carrier not only disputes bills from one of its leasing companies and the Tanzanian government, but it is now embroiled in a complex ownership and branding battle with Five Forty Aviation, the parent company of its Fly540 affiliate.

The strength of the respective legal arguments by FastJet and Five Forty Aviation will be determined in court, but it is clear that the dispute stems from the founding contract signed between the two parties last year. Both sides effectively claim ownership of the Fly540 brand, while rejecting liability for Fly540's historic debts...

An inconvenient truth

Full article in JPG format

Having spent more than 200,000 man hours investigating battery fires on its grounded fleet of 787 Dreamliners, US airframe manufacturer Boeing is confident that a series of re-designs will allow the aircraft to resume flying within weeks. A three-layered approach to combatting the safety scare has delivered a "comprehensive set of solutions" that will ensure battery failures never endanger the safe operation of 787 flights, Boeing insisted in March.

But its proposed measures must first be approved by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The regulator has to date only rubber-stamped Boeing's certification plan – a "first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return" that is contingent on "extensive testing and analysis". Even if the aircraft does return to the skies promptly, Boeing's admission that it "may never get to a single root cause" of the recent battery fires will rattle nerves among some passengers...