Thursday, 12 January 2012
Full article in JPG format: page 44/45 & page 46/47 & bio
Talk to an airline executive anywhere in the world today, and you're virtually guaranteed to hear the same fundamental complaint. With Brent Crude prices hovering around $110 per barrel – up 350% in the space of two years – it's now all but impossible to make money from the business of flying people around.
Of course airlines have several tricks up their sleeves. Hedging fuel contracts is one strategy, albeit a risky one if you misjudge the market. Cutting operational costs and hiking airfares are two others. Perhaps the most pragmatic approach is to fork out a few billion dollars for some next-generation, fuel-efficient jets. In the current financial climate, though, few have that option.
The inconvenient reality is that aviation is well and truly addicted to oil. In order to get a 650-tonne Airbus A380 off the ground, the high energy density required makes anything short of the black stuff a feeble substitute. And that means, in contrast to electric cars, battery-powered planes will never make their commercial debut in our lifetimes...
Friday, 6 January 2012
Full article on huffingtonpost.com
A curious thing happened to me last Thursday while I was reading Bim Adewunmi's article on The Guardian website. Adewunmi was describing, in a very rational and factual manner, the circumstances surrounding her Twitter chat with Diane Abbott - which made headlines after the Shadow Health Minister seemingly accused all white people of being colonialists who "love playing divide and rule". I appreciated Adewunmi's dispassionate article, and I aired my opinion to that effect. Here's my comment in its entirety:
"Thanks for this explanation, and congratulations for (unwittingly or otherwise) exposing Diane Abbott's true views about white people. Last time I checked, I'm not a colonialist. So I now consider her a racist."
Harmless enough, I thought. And my fellow readers appeared to agree. As the tenth comment in a thread which now runs into the hundreds, my highly visible two cents quickly became the second-most 'recommended' post beneath the line. But The Guardian's moderators took umbrage to my contribution, deleting it under the pretext that it had failed to "abide by our community standards". I hastily re-posted the comment, appending a request that they explain which specific standard - racism, offensive behaviour, or another - had been breached. But that post also disappeared within minutes...
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Full article in JPG format
After 50 years in the industry, Oman Air chief executive Peter Hill recently hung up his flight jacket for the last time. Though his successor has yet to be announced, Hill leaves the flag carrier with a well-defined “luxury boutique” business plan that will nurture the Sultanate’s tourism sector and help articulate its identity within the Gulf region.
As a founding member of Dubai’s Emirates Airline, Hill was headhunted by Oman Air four years ago to develop the plan begun by his predecessor, Ziad al Haremi, who had died tragically of a heart attack. In contrast to the mega-hub strategy Hill advanced in Dubai, the flight path for the Muscat-based carrier focused on selective long-haul expansion and a bespoke in-flight service that, in his words, “the bigger boys just can’t offer”...
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Full article in JPG format
In October, one of Iran Air’s 40 year-old Boeing 727s was filmed making an emergency landing at Tehran Mehrabad Airport. Banned from European Union (EU) airspace, the plane was on a return flight from Moscow when its front landing gear failed to deploy. After skidding to a halt on the runway, all 113 people on board were safely evacuated and the flag carrier vowed to repair its geriatric jet.
Sadly for Iranians, incidents such as this are hardly rare. More than 700 nationals have died in 13 crashes over the past six years, including 77 in January when another of Iran Air’s 727s crashed while trying to land in the north-western city of Urumiyeh...
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Full article in JPG format
Four years after Saudi Arabia liberalised its aviation sector, Simon Stewart, chief executive of the only surviving private carrier, Nas Air, remains optimistic about the “vast potential” for air transport in the kingdom. Ask him about the progress to date, however, and the former army pilot pulls no punches. “Saudi aviation is pretty much structured as it was in the old legacy days,” he admits, and he doesn’t expect things to change overnight.
Low-cost carrier Nas Air was created in 2007 along with another private airline, Sama, to end the domestic monopoly of flag carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines. It was hoped the new license-holders would mimic the success of Jazeera Airways, which grew rapidly after the Kuwaiti aviation sector was liberalised in 2005...
Full article in JPG format: page 42/43 & page 45
“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen,” wrote the late US educator Laurence Peter. His words ring as true today as ever before, with the world’s brightest economic minds showing little aptitude for diagnosing – let alone remedying – the perfect storm of a European debt crisis, a stagnating US economy, and political upheaval across the Arab world.
And yet while meaningful forecasts elude the experts, the simplest of litmus tests is available to anyone by looking up, towards the skies, at the air transport sector – the lifeblood of the global economy...
Saturday, 1 October 2011
Full article in JPG format: page 54/55 & page 56
In August, the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA) published a list of what it claimed are the ten safest airlines in the world. The Geneva-based company, which was founded earlier this year, said it arrived at the holistic safety rating through a combined analysis of 15 criteria, incorporating factors as disparate as financial results and average fleet age.
Some analysts were quick to cast doubt on its methodology, arguing that previous studies have found no correlation between accident rates and several of the criteria used. Others also noted the conspicuous absence of any Gulf carriers on its list, despite the fact that the region’s three largest airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways – have never recorded a fatal incident in their, admittedly brief, histories...
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Cargolux finances three more 747-8Fs, sells one 747-400F
Cargolux has arranged Ex-Im backed funding for three of the four Boeing 747-8Fs due to be delivered in 2012, and the carrier will consider an operating lease structure for the remaining freighter, CFO David Arendt has told Aviation Exchange. The airline is the launch partner for the 747-8F and will sell one of its older 747-400Fs to Silk Way Airways later this month after receiving two of the three Dash-8s being delivered this year, he added.
The fourth aircraft, which arrives in February 2012, will be financed by PEFCO under an Ex-Im guarantee, Arendt confirmed. The fifth aircraft, delivering in April 2012, will be acquired by a joint venture comprising Cargolux and three equity co-investors – Crédit Agricole, DVB Bank and KfW-IPEX Bank – and will draw from Ex-Im backed debt provided by JP Morgan. The sixth, arriving in July 2012, looks set to be funded by an Ex-Im bond on the capital market, with Goldman Sachs and Crédit Agricole signing preliminary agreements.
Friday, 9 September 2011
ALC gives muted reaction to 737MAX amid renewed focus on order book
Air Lease Corporation this week conducted a major product review of the re-engined 737MAX with Boeing, ALC president John Plueger has told Aviation Exchange, with the lessor making no secret of its preference for a brand new single-aisle model. Plueger said ALC will remain "very engaged" with Boeing over the development of the 737MAX, but he acknowledged the manufacturer's need to plan for the "totality of their single and twin-aisle product line," including possible upgrades to the Boeing 777-300ER as well as the planned Boeing 787-10.
ALC was founded last year after industry veteran Steven Udvar-Házy retired as CEO of market leader ILFC to set up a competing lessor. Plueger came on board shortly afterwards, having served as acting CEO at ILFC following Udvar-Házy's departure, and under their joint stewardship ALC has rapidly grown its portfolio to a fleet of 65 aircraft, with forward orders for a further 234 jets by 2020.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Full article in JPG format
After 18 years of political wrangling, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a privatisation law in May 2010 which proponents said would reinvigorate the country's bureaucratic, public-sector dominated economy. Cabinet ministers forced the legislation through after 28 of the emirate's 50 parliamentarians opposed it, with some arguing that the changes were tantamount to "the robbery of the wealth of Kuwait and a plan to destroy the country".
Top of the agenda was the long-awaited move to privatise Kuwait Airways, which has itself done little to preserve the emirate's wealth in recent times. The flag carrier posted losses in 20 of the last 21 years, haemorrhaging more than $3 billion including $556 million last year alone – a time when most airlines were rebounding from the global recession...