Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Meetings in Mogadishu

Full article on economist.com

Around the world certain cities have sadly become synonymous with war, brutality and lawlessness. For the business traveller, particularly the Western business traveller, Baghdad surely ranks among the most feared of assignments. Tripoli looks to be going that way soon. Beirut, long considered a byword for chaos, has in recent times rehabilitated its image. But of all the godforsaken places on the planet, Mogadishu, the damned capital of Somalia, evokes uniquely and impenetrably negative connotations. So it was with some trepidation that Gulliver set foot on the tarmac of Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WOW Air throws a curve-ball

Full article on economist.com

In an attempt to live up to its name, WOW Air, an Icelandic low cost carrier, caused some excitement last month by unveiling promotional fares of $99 one-way for its upcoming transatlantic routes. Prices have since nearly doubled, but even so they remain competitive with Norwegian Air Shuttle, currently the only other true budget carrier offering flights from Europe to North America. Norwegian keeps its prices in check, in part, by flying the most up-to-date, fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliners. So how does WOW compete? The answer, quite simply, is geography...

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Interview: Abdul Wahab Teffaha, AACO Secretary General

Full article in PDF format: page 21-25 & cover

Whatever AACO's executive committee was planning for this year's annual general meeting (AGM), their agenda has been torn asunder by two catastrophic events still gripping the airline industry.

Malaysia Airlines cruelly bore the brunt of both disasters – the loss, literally, of MH370 in March, and the shooting down of MH17 in July – but all aviation stakeholders now face the grave responsibility of plugging safety gaps and improving regulatory protocols. No region is more burdened with this collective duty than the Middle East, whose fast-expanding airlines operate in the most volatile of neighbourhoods.

At the same time, though, more familiar concerns still weigh heavily on the region's airlines. In European capitals, increasingly protectionist measures are being called on to fight Gulf competition; in Arab capitals, the 2004 Damascus Convention is falling well short of its promise to liberalise Middle Eastern skies...

Libya starts again

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In early 2012, shortly after Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by an alliance of tribal militias, Libyan Airlines chief executive Khaled Taynaz spoke to Arabian Aerospace about the prospects for the war-weary country and its well-developed civil aviation sector.

Though careful not to downplay the challenges ahead, Taynaz painted an overwhelmingly positive picture for the future. His mood matched the broader sentiment sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring.

Just two years on, however, events on the ground seem anything but upbeat. The revolutions that engulfed the region have largely evolved into new dictatorships or entrenched civil warfare; many of the militias that united against despots are now turning their guns on each other; and the worrisome security climate has struck fear in the hearts of western governments, which are now mobilising their own forces for potential conflict...

Iran Air's open door

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On November 24 2014, exactly one year after the signing of the historic Geneva Interim Agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries (America, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) will formally come to a close.

The dream of a comprehensive deal that normalises relations between Iran and the West still faces immense challenges, weighed down as it is by three decades of open hostilities. Public opinion on both sides remains divided, and the backdrop of a deepening security crisis in the Middle East has injected new complexities. The original, mutually-postponed deadline of 20 July passed without apparent progress.

But, if rapprochement prevails, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama will leave a legacy of renewed economic cooperation between the two countries. Iran’s civil aviation sector and America’s aerospace manufacturing industries stand to be among the main beneficiaries...

Interview: Mohamed Frikha, Syphax Airlines Chairman

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In an aviation market as heavily regulated as Tunisia, Mohamed Frikha, the founder and chairman of Syphax Airlines, fully anticipated that his start-up would encounter push-back from existing players when it launched in April 2012.

Sure enough, on the very first day of operations at Tunis Carthage International Airport, Syphax’s passengers were turned away by staff from the ground-handling division of flag-carrier Tunisair.

The debacle marked a rocky start for the fledgling privately-owned airline, and it was not to be an isolated occurrence. Over the months that followed Tunisair’s former chief executive, Rabah Jrad, repeatedly accused his competitor of “illegal and unfair” business practices. Though undoubtedly a headache, this opposition ultimately failed to deter Frikha from injecting competition into the sector...

Pegasus harnesses the best of both worlds

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When Pegasus Airlines was acquired by ESAS Holdings and re-branded as a low-cost carrier (LCC) in 2005, the airline’s incoming management team were faced with an immediate strategic dilemma.

On the one hand, their home nation of Turkey was poised to embark on a decade of break-neck civil aviation growth matched in scale and ambition only by the Gulf mega-hubs. Istanbul’s geographical location at the crossroads of three continents was enabling Turkish Airlines (THY), the country’s flag-carrier, to transform Istanbul Atatürk Airport into one of the world’s pre-eminent intercontinental hub-and-spoke networks.

On the other hand, across Turkey's western border with Europe, LCC giants Ryanair and EasyJet were perfecting the art of ultra-low-cost travel, tearing up the rulebook for hub economics and unlocking the full potential of the point-to-point business model...

TAAG angling for investment

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Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline, Dubai's flag-carrier, has often spoken critically about the kind of equity investments and deep-rooted partnerships that Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways favours. Whereas Etihad holds stakes in eight overseas airlines, Emirates largely stands alone in the global marketplace. It can afford to do so: in just three decades, Emirates has become the largest carrier in the world by passenger capacity. Alliance membership, codeshare agreements and equity deals simply don't have the same charm for Sir Tim as for other, less exalted airline bosses.

His scepticism has also been shaped by personal experience. In 1998, Emirates acquired 43.6% of SriLankan Airlines under a ten-year management contract. The partnership delivered few strategic benefits, instead becoming a huge drain on resources...