Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Iranian sanctions: Winging it

Full article on economist.com

Regular travellers to Iran would have had some doubts about a report last month on Press TV, a state-run English-language news channel, which claimed that direct flights to America were set to be launched. Press TV quoted another Iranian outlet as saying that Iran Air and Delta Air Lines would restore services between the two countries for the first time in three decades. But it was patently ridiculous. The American government has vigorously enforced sanctions against Iran Air since the mid-1990s, and it actively pursues any US-linked companies suspected of co-operating with the flag-carrier.

Quite why the Iranian government disseminated the report is unclear. Optimists might speculate that some officials in Tehran—perhaps buoyed by the election of Hasan Rohani, the relatively reformist new president—wanted to send a message of rapprochement to Washington. Cynics might point out that the report surfaced a week before the 25th anniversary of the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by an American warship, with the loss of 290 civilian lives...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

SkyTeam and the world of tomorrow

Full article on economist.com

Summer has not been kind to SkyTeam, one of the three big airline alliances, which has suffered two very public snubs by incumbent and prospective members. In late June Craig Kreeger, the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said that his carrier's much-mooted membership of SkyTeam was unlikely to materialise any time soon. "For now, Virgin Atlantic remains very happy with the partners we have," he said, in reference to Virgin’s recent transatlantic tie-up with US-based Delta Air Lines. Less than a week later Reuters quoted a "source close to [Aeroflot's] board" as saying that the Russian carrier would leave SkyTeam if its management could do so without political interference...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Interview: Erik Venter, Comair CEO

Comair to switch 737 options to Max

Comair is likely to renegotiate at least some of its eight Boeing 737-800 options into Max commitments, says chief executive Erik Venter says, as the airline begins planning for its next tranche of deliveries.

The carrier - which operates the British Airways and Kulula brands in South Africa - has a fleet of nine -800s, 10 -400s and seven -300s.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Interview: Nico Bezuidenhout, South African Airways Acting CEO

Full article in PDF format

When Nico Bezuidenhout stepped down as interim CEO at South African Airways (SAA) on 1 June, he handed successor Monwabisi Kalawe the daunting task of executing a 20-year turnaround strategy at the troubled flag carrier. Martin Rivers investigates whether SAA is at long last embarking on the path to profitability.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, SAA's shareholder, has voiced strong optimism that Kalawe will "hit the ground running" in his new role, despite lacking any experience in the airline industry.

The new man takes over the helm from Bezuidenhout, an experienced industry executive who co-hosted the IATA AGM in Cape Town this June and now returns to his role as CEO of Mango, SAA's low-cost subsidiary. Kalawe's immediate priority will be implementing the turnaround plan – drafted collaboratively by Bezuidenhout and Gigaba – which aims to lessen the carrier's reliance on state support...

Interview: Theo Namases, Air Namibia CEO

Full article in PDF format

In late 2012, Air Namibia's very existence was brought into question by a wave of industrial action, leasing disputes and an increasingly impatient shareholder. Having successfully weathered the storm, chief executive Theo Namases is now plotting a course for calmer waters. Martin Rivers reports.

News that Air Namibia was trying to back out of a 12-year leasing agreement for two Airbus A330s sent shockwaves through the southern African nation last year, coming alongside repeated warnings from the government that its losses had become unsustainable. The wide-body jets had been billed as a key step towards turning around the airline's loss-making Frankfurt route, which is currently served by two fuel-inefficient A340s...

FastJet's turbulent winter

Full article in PDF format

Shares in FastJet halved in value over the course of two days in June, when auditor KPMG warned of "material uncertainty" about its ability to continue operating amid deepening losses. The Stelios Haji-Ioannou-backed carrier posted a net loss of $56 million across its FastJet and Fly540 brands during the 18 months to December 2012, prompting KPMG to warn that continued fundraising would almost certainly be required if the airline is to stay afloat.

But strong sales figures later that week coupled with continued progress in entering the South African market saw its share price immediately bounce back. Though the volatile stock was still 75% down on its January peak at the time of going to press, chief executive Ed Winter is confident the tide has begun to turn in Africa's fledgling low-cost carrier market...

Interview: François Bouteiller, Nas Air CEO

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

François Bouteiller, the chief executive of Saudi Arabia's Nas Air, announced his resignation last month after just 17 months in the job. He follows in the footsteps of predecessor Simon Stewart – whose tenure lasted barely a few months longer – and will now be succeeded by Raja Azmi, the former chief financial officer of Air Asia.

Although Azmi doubtless hopes to retain the top job for a lengthier period, he can expect to face the same challenges which confounded his forbearers at the low-cost carrier. Saudi Arabia's duopolistic air transport market continues to be characterised by excessive fuel charges, a commercially disruptive domestic fare cap, and a cultural landscape that does little to advance much-needed reform...