Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Plane speaking after Iran's nuclear deal

Full article on economist.com

The long-awaited nuclear deal with Iran may have some bankers "licking their lips", as the Financial Times puts it, but in truth there is a long and complicated road to be navigated before most Western firms will be able to do business there. Among US exporters, only one sector already has an open invitation. It deserves it. For decades, Iranian airlines were forced into the black market when sourcing, and repairing, their planes. Elaborate paper-trails conspired to throw America off the scent of illicit transactions...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

El Al: In it for the long haul

Full article on economist.com

There have been two developments of note for Israeli passengers in the past fortnight. Yesterday, Ryanair announced that it will begin flying to Eilat in southern Israel in November—its first ever Middle Eastern connection. The low-cost goliath will serve the city from three points in eastern Europe. One week previously, El Al, Israel's flag-carrier, added Boston to its American network. Though seemingly unrelated, these two events are emblematic of the shifting sands in Israeli aviation. Europe's low-cost carriers, for better or for worse, are making their mark on the Holy Land...

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Pie-eyed in the sky

Full article on economist.com

It's one of the best adverts for abstinence you'll ever come across. On a brisk autumn morning in Manchester, an easyJet flight from Malta touches down, taxis across the apron, and comes to a halt. Passengers begin to disembark. One catches your eye. About 50 years of age and stocky in nature, he is disrobing. Quite why is not yet clear; perhaps the lack of clothing will assist him in his forthcoming duel with the pilot—a battle which, based on repeated asseverations, seems to be assured. Alas, the pilot never shows. The naked man instead staggers away, urinates against a terminal building, and is eventually downed by a policeman's Taser...

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Strength in numbers

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The steady influx of foreign airlines to Somali skies is proof positive of rising optimism about the country’s prospects, but while Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and flydubai have only recently seen opportunity in Somalia, its home-grown carriers have been keeping vital air corridors open for decades.

Three local operators – African Express Airways, Daallo Airlines and Jubba Airways – still account for about three-quarters of all scheduled flights in the country, and with competition heating up the latter two have now joined forces to create the Africa Aero Alliance (AAA).

“Competitive pressure is there, but also more than that it’s a matter of maturity,” explains Mohammed Ibrahim Yassin (Olad), the Chief Executive and co-founder of Daallo, which also serves as the official flag-carrier of Djibouti...

Somalia's friend in the sky

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The visit to Mogadishu by Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in January heralded welcome news for Somalia’s battered but resilient aviation sector.

After landing in the capital to inaugurate the newly-constructed terminal at Aden Adde International Airport, President Erdogan announced that Turkish Airlines will boost its Istanbul-Djibouti-Mogadishu service from four-times weekly to daily. That crucial route serves as a lifeline for members of the diaspora, enabling connecting flights to their adoptive countries in Europe and North America.

But while Turkey’s engagement with Somalia has to date focussed on humanitarian assistance – President Erdogan first visited Mogadishu in August 2011, at the height of the East Africa drought – the decision to lift flight frequencies was in no way a charitable gesture...

Last chance saloon for SAA

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Since the turn of the century, beleaguered South African Airways (SAA) has embarked on no fewer than eight failed turnaround strategies. Having now completed an emergency “90-day action plan” to restore near-term solvency, it is resuming the ninth such attempt.

The heavily loss-making airline has in many ways come to embody everything that is wrong with state-owned flag-carriers: commercially profligate, lumbering companies whose cost structures hark back to a bygone era of luxury flying. While its European and North America competitors were long ago jolted into reality by a wave of deregulation and privatisation, SAA continues to live in its government’s pocket, hiding behind a wall of protectionism that props up the parastatal while holding down the private sector...

Interview: Tabassum Qadir & Javed Malik, Skywise Co-Chairpersons

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When Pak Africa Aviation emerged in 2013 as a potential white knight for 1time Airline, the failed South African carrier, almost nothing was known about the private-equity group fronted by Tabassum Qadir and Javed Malik.

Aside from confirming that investors in Pakistan and Dubai were funding Pak Africa, Qadir and Malik kept a tight lid on the organisational structure of the group – which had ambitious plans not only to resurrect 1time, but to franchise its brand across Africa through a wave of mergers and acquisitions.

Even Erik Venter, the combative chief executive of Comair, South Africa’s largest private carrier, was in the dark about the company...

Interview: Mohammed Yassin, Daallo Airlines CEO

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When Mohammed Ibrahim Yassin, the chief executive of Daallo Airlines, describes his company as providing a “lifeline” to Somalis, he is not exaggerating.

“There was a time when there were no money transfers, no telephones, no postal system – we were everything for the country,” the airline boss recalled. “We were the link to the outside world. We transported not only people, but goods, money, medicine. It was quite a history. And still we are playing that role.”

Established in 1991, the same year that Soviet-backed dictator Siad Barre lost his grip on power, Daallo found opportunity in the declaration of independence by the north-western province of Somaliland...

Oman Air playing the long-game

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As a mid-sized airline in the ultra-competitive Gulf aviation market, you might expect Oman Air to welcome any hurdles thrown in the way of its larger competitors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. Efforts by the US airline industry to clip the wings of the 'big three' Gulf carriers – Dubai’s Emirates Airline, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – should in theory give Oman's flag-carrier breathing space to catch up with its rivals.

The Muscat-based airline was not mentioned in the now-infamous 55-page dossier released by US lobbyists in March, which urged Washington to block further expansion by the 'big three'...