Thursday, 26 February 2015

Interview: Nico Bezuidenhout, South African Airways Acting CEO

SAA secures R1bn savings under 90-day plan

South African Airways has secured savings of more than R1 billion ($85 million) under its 90-day action plan, acting chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout tells Flightglobal, putting the flag carrier on track for a targeted cost reduction of R1.25 billion by the end of March.

Bezuidenhout has been managing a broader turnaround strategy at the airline since November 2014, when incumbent boss Monwabisi Kalawe was suspended.

Outlining the progress made to date under the 90-day plan, the acting chief says the “biggest bulk” of the savings has come from grounding SAA’s heavily loss-making routes to Beijing and Mumbai.

Booking flights with bitcoin

Full article on

Most stories about bitcoin, a digital currency loved and loathed in equal measure, focus on the future potential of the technology, rather than its present-day usefulness. This story is no different. Earlier this month, UATP, a payment network for airlines, announced it was teaming up with Bitnet, a bitcoin processing platform, to offer 260 of the world’s largest carriers the option of accepting the currency for flight bookings. UATP merchants provide 95% of global airline capacity, counting among their ranks mainstream brands such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines. The company also works with 130,000 travel agencies, plus big rail operators such as Amtrak. None of these partners, it must be stressed, has said it will add a ‘Pay With Bitcoin’ button to its website. But the potential to do so is now there. And that is more than enough to get the bitcoin faithful excited by the development...

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Interview: Rob Hyslop, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide COO

​Polar sees opportunities as it adds sixth 747-8F

Polar Air Cargo Worldwide will deploy a sixth Boeing 747-8F in March ahead of plans to add one or two new scheduled destinations in 2015.

The upcoming 747-8F will be operated under an ACMI agreement with parent company Atlas Air. Its capacity will primarily be used by Polar’s minority shareholder DHL Express, although space will also be marketed to general cargo forwarders.

Polar’s pre-existing fleet of five 747-8Fs, seven 747-400Fs and two 767-300ERFs will remain in service, bringing the overall fleet size to 15.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

MH370: Eyes in the sky

Full article on

The loss, literally, of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014 was an incomprehensible tragedy for the 239 souls aboard and the loved ones they left behind. It was also a devastating blow to an industry that prides itself on impeccable safety standards. As the hopelessness of the investigation became apparent, Tony Tyler, the boss of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade body that represents most large airlines, declared: "We must never let another aircraft go missing in this way." Industry chiefs rallied behind him, voicing bewilderment and outrage that, in this day and age, a commercial widebody jet could simply vanish. One year on, with their rhetoric fading into memory, what progress has been made to ensure that Flight 370 forever remains a cruel anomaly...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Interview: Rasha Al Roumi, Kuwait Airways Chairwoman

Full article in PDF format: page 17-19 & cover

Readers would have been forgiven for voicing scepticism in May 2013, when Kuwait Airways unveiled a comprehensive fleet renewal programme involving 25 aircraft purchases and 12 interim leases.

That the loss-making flag-carrier sorely needed modernisation was questioned by no-one – most of its existing 18 aircraft dated back to the early 1990s – but Kuwaiti politicians have a long history of meddling with, and ultimately derailing, its plans.

In 2007, most controversially, the government scrapped a newly placed order for 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and seven Airbus A320s. Then, in 2013, incumbent chairman Sami Al Nesf was fired for defying parliament’s wishes and trying to acquire five aircraft from India’s Jet Airways...

Royal Air Maroc raises the standard

Full article in PDF format

News that Royal Air Maroc grew its African traffic by 16% over the 12 months to October 2014 – transporting 1.3 million passengers across the continent – might seem perplexing against a backdrop of both the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and regional instability in North Africa.

There is no denying that Morocco’s flag-carrier is heavily exposed to the Ebola crisis, serving about 30 West African destinations, including the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Its home base in the Maghreb region of North Africa also places the airline in a volatile neighbourhood wracked first by the Arab Spring and now by a series of deepening Islamist insurgencies.

Yet despite the turmoil engulfing both sub-regions, Royal Air Maroc is not only expanding on the continent but, more remarkably, it is doing so while turning over a profit...

Interview: Peter Foster, Air Astana CEO

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

If there is one message that Peter Foster, the president and chief executive of Air Astana, wants to get across in 2015, it is that Kazakhstan "is not Russia".

As the second largest member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional grouping of former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan's public image all too often falls on the wrong side of stereotyping.

The woefully inaccurate but irrepressibly funny mockumentary film Borat, released in 2006, epitomised many of these lingering anti-Soviet prejudices.

They are perhaps forgivable misconceptions: Kazakhstan's second official language is Russian; and its president-for-life entered office way back in 1989, when the country was still part of the USSR. But the geopolitical identities of these two neighbours have, in more recent times, sharply diverged – a point that Foster is keen to emphasise while Russia marches defiantly towards global pariah status...

Better path for Kuwait Airways

Full article in PDF format

The Gulf often features prominently in discussions about civil aviation, but Kuwait is one name that rarely, if ever, gets a mention. Whereas Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar have over the years developed world-class hubs that hoover up and redistribute intercontinental traffic, Kuwait International Airport remains something of a minnow in the regional marketplace.

These contrasting fortunes are no accident of history. The UAE and Qatar are only now reaping the spoils of aviation after pumping billions of dollars into their ground and air infrastructure. Alongside weighty financial investment, long-term political vision in both countries has nurtured pro-aviation environments with low costs and liberal visa regimes. This has in turn given their state-owned flag-carriers – Emirates Airline, Flydubai, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – a solid foundation for commercial viability.

It is a very different story in Kuwait, where, despite immense national wealth and a vibrant political landscape, Kuwait Airways has floundered for decades...