Monday, 1 September 2014

Airspace anxiety

Full article in JPG format:
page 18/19 & page 20/21

The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine in July gave an international dimension to what had hitherto been a bilateral conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Unlike in February, when the West quietly stood by as Russia annexed Crimea, the murder of 298 mostly Dutch passengers by Moscow-backed rebels forced the European Union (EU) to act, imposing harsh economic sanctions on Russia.

How the conflict will play out under these new dynamics remains to be seen, with NATO estimating that 20,000 Russian troops have amassed at Ukraine’s border ahead of what many fear will be a full-blown invasion. Hopes that Russian president Vladimir Putin might have been chastened by the catastrophe were quickly dashed. Within days of the loss of MH17, two more Ukrainian military jets were shot down. The death toll on both sides has surpassed 2,000 and is rising daily.

But as well as dragging East-West relations to their lowest ebb since the Cold War, MH17 is stoking fears about wider vulnerabilities in the world’s increasingly crowded skies...

Interview: Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, Bangkok Airways President

Full article in JPG format: page 16/17 & page 18

Thailand’s low-cost carrier (LCC) sector turned 10 years old in 2014, and even in the midst of political upheaval it continues to go from strength to strength.

The country’s largest LCC, Thai AirAsia, may have trimmed its growth projections after the 22 May military coup in Bangkok – reducing this year’s aircraft deliveries from eight to five – but its 39-strong fleet still operates more flights per month than flag carrier Thai International Airways (THAI).

Together with Nok Air, THAI’s low-cost offshoot, and Thai Lion Air, an affiliate of the Indonesian group, LCCs now account for 60% of domestic and 20% of international seats in the country...

Interview: Woranate Laprabang, Thai Smile CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 18/19, page 20, page 22 & cover

Thailand’s long-running political crisis has had a predictable impact on tourism flows to the country, with holidaymakers understandably feeling nervous about the May 2014 coup d'├ętat that ushered in the current military junta. Visitor numbers fell 10.7% year-on-year to 1.7 million in May, following months of earlier declines fuelled by violent street protests.

Flag carrier Thai Airways International (THAI) has felt the pinch more than most, posting four consecutive quarterly losses and seeing its load factors slip below 60%. Political meddling remains an endemic problem at the airline, which had five executive vice presidents replaced by military appointees in July. That followed the resignation of another five board members in June, severely undermining management’s ability to mount a cohesive strategic turnaround.

But despite the challenging climate, both THAI and its full-service rival Bangkok Airways are confident of recovery. Thailand has experienced 19 coups since its absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932, and each time the tourists returned as security prevailed...