Thursday, 10 July 2014

Interview: Yuri Miroshnikov, Ukraine International Airlines President

UIA willing to resume Crimea flights under Russian control

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) wants to return to Crimea even if the peninsula’s airspace remains under Russian control, president Yuri Miroshnikov tells Flightglobal.

“We would resume flights as soon as this is operationally possible and legally permitted,” he confirms. “Russian control, Ukrainian control … As soon as the situation is legalised.”

UIA and most international carriers stopped flying to Crimea after Russia moved to annex the territory in February.

Moscow seized control of Simferopol's airspace during the military intervention, but ICAO later said Ukraine remains the sole legal provider of air navigation services in the peninsula. Airlines have therefore been unable to resume flights without breaching international law.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bridging the Gulf

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In February, Kamal Ahmed, the transport minister of the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain, told Arabian Business that “no-one wants” the top job at Gulf Air, the country’s flag-carrier. It was a candid admission for a company that, long before the rise of super-connectors Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, had once been considered the Middle East’s pre-eminent airline. Several foreign candidates had been offered the job, Mr Ahmed explained, but all turned it down over fears of political interference. Given that Gulf Air’s nine-strong board includes four serving ministers plus an advisor to the Crown Prince, they may have had a point...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Interview: Monwabisi Kalawe, South African Airways CEO

Full article in PDF format: page 75-77 & cover

Despite contending with a volatile boardroom and an irreverent local media, Monwabisi Kalawe, the new boss of South African Airways, sees a bright future for the troubled flag-carrier. Martin Rivers finds out why.

When Monwabisi Kalawe took on the role of CEO at South African Airways (SAA) last June – the fifth person to hold the title in as many years – he knew he was in for a rough ride.

South Africa’s heavily loss-making, state-owned flag-carrier has been castigated by local and international press for its apparent inability to stamp out management corruption and operational inefficiency. The announcement of a long-term turnaround strategy last year did not quell the protests, becoming the ninth such programme to be unveiled since the turn of the century...

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...

Interview: Maher Al Musallam, Gulf Air Acting CEO

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

If asked to describe Gulf Air’s prospects back in 2012, many observers would have responded with one word: “bleak”. The Arab Spring had decimated tourism to Bahrain, as well as forcing its flag carrier to withdraw from two key markets: Iran and Iraq. Operating losses reached 183.8 million dinar, and parliament slammed the brakes on a financial bailout amid calls for the airline to be dissolved.

All the more impressive, then, that the beleaguered company now appears to be turning a corner. When its 2013 results were published in May – three months later than originally scheduled – the figures spoke for themselves...

Europe & the Gulf: Old foes reunited

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In June, delegates arriving at the AGM of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry's biggest annual bash, were among the first passengers to experience Doha's new Hamad International Airport.

The glistening new gateway was not quite completed – screens had to be erected in lieu of a few finishing touches – but Qatar Airways nonetheless moved its entire operation to the hub on 27 May, five days before the world's airline bosses descended on the dusty, oil-rich Gulf state.

As one of three so-called Gulf super-connectors, Qatar Airways' selection to host the event was a symbolic reminder of the new dynamics sweeping across the industry...

Making low-cost long-haul flights work

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Low-cost long-haul flying has been a notoriously difficult nut to crack ever since Laker Airways, a transatlantic British airline, introduced the concept in 1977. It went bust five years later. Numerous other carriers have since come and gone, but none has managed to combine bargain airfares with long-haul intercontinental flights and survive. Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, continues to whet appetites with promises of €10 ($14) flights to North America. But bombastic claims are nothing new for Mr O’Leary, who privately admits that the cost of aircraft and high fuel prices mean it is not currently practical...