Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Interview: David Maimon, El Al CEO

El Al nearing widebody fleet renewal: CEO

Israeli flag carrier El Al is evaluating the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A350-900 for its upcoming widebody renewal, chief executive David Maimon tells Flightglobal.

The all-Boeing operator issued an RFP in April and has now “started the negotiations” with both manufacturers. It expects to place firm orders for at least 13 units, replacing all of the ageing 747-400s and 767-300ERs.

“We are talking about the 787-9 or 350-900,” Maimon confirms. “The first step will be only to replace the 747s. The next step will be to replace the 767s … four or five years after.”

He does not rule out breaking Boeing’s longstanding monopoly, insisting “both of them are good aircraft” and “anything is possible”.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Interview: Arthur White, VLM CEO

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Arthur White knew he had his work cut out in July 2012 when he became managing director of VLM Airlines, the Antwerp-based charter and ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) operator.

Parent company Air France had already subsumed the VLM brand under CityJet, its exclusive ACMI customer, and was supposedly pursuing a full merger. Yet the flag-carrier’s new restructuring programme made no mention of either subsidiary, and within weeks of White’s appointment it was clear that a sell-off was the only option being considered in Paris.

German turnaround specialist Intro Aviation would soon emerge as a white knight for the sister carriers, offering to buy them in December 2013. But it was not long before VLM faced yet more headwinds...

Ryanair's transatlantic trip-up

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Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, has always been economical with the truth when it comes to headline-grabbing antics.

Though by no means shy about dishing out facts and figures on the airline’s phenomenal success, O’Leary’s best performances have tended to encroach on the realm of fiction. His purported product innovations are the stuff of legend: a fat-tax for plump passengers; a standing-only section for cheap ones; even a toilet charge for those caught short. Something as inconvenient as the truth, he discovered long ago, will rarely stop journalists from writing up a good story...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Small steps to big prize

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When London-based Fastjet took to the skies in Tanzania in November 2012, chief executive Ed Winter vowed to “democratise air travel in Africa” by importing the low-cost carrier (LCC) model that had proved so successful elsewhere in the world.

His vision of a 40-strong fleet catalysing price-sensitive demand was dismissed by many industry experts, who rattled off a familiar roll-call of challenges facing LCCs in Africa. Bilateral restrictions, high fuel prices, monopolised ground services, and a lack of secondary airports had confounded all prior efforts by no-frills operators to break into the continent.

Fast forward two years and the start-up’s achievements to date fall somewhere in the middle of these two narratives...

One can of worms, please. Unopened

Full article on economist.com

Gulliver was surprised to discover last night that, on what was by no means a slow news day, CNN.com deemed this story to be worthy of the lead slot on its international edition. The article suggests that Tahera Ahmad, a 31-year-old Muslim chaplain, was discriminated against by a United Airlines flight attendant and verbally abused by fellow passengers. Writing about the altercation on Facebook while still airborne, Ms Ahmad recounted asking the cabin crew member for an unopened can of Diet Coke “due to hygienic reasons”. The United employee refused. Cans have to be opened by attendants, she explained, because company guidelines warn that pressurised containers could potentially be used as weapons...

Turkish delights

Full article in PDF format: page 16-21 & cover

The Turkish civil aviation sector tends to receive less publicity than its counterparts in the Persian Gulf, but statistics on its growth are no less impressive.

Since deregulation in 2003, Turkey’s commercial fleet has almost tripled in size to 430 aircraft. More than 166 million passengers passed through the country’s airports last year – a 10.6% increase that secured fourth place for Turkey in a ranking of Europe's largest aviation markets, trailing behind only the UK, Germany and Spain.

Cargo traffic has kept pace with passenger growth, aided by the export-driven economic boom of recent years...

Low-cost in the Levant

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The Jordanian aviation sector gained a new player on 19 May, when Air Arabia launched operations from Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport to Kuwait in conjunction with local equity partner RUM Group, a Jordanian travel provider.

Amman becomes the fifth hub in privately owned Air Arabia’s network, furthering its long-term aim of offering point-to-point connectivity across the Middle East and North Africa. The low-cost carrier’s main operating base of Sharjah was last year complemented by a secondary UAE hub in Ras al-Khaimah, while it also operates joint ventures in Alexandria, Egypt and Casablanca, Morocco. Expansion to Jordan, however, comes with risk...