Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ryanair's business class

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Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive officer, recently announced that 22% of the low-cost carrier's passengers are corporate travellers. Ryanair is Europe's biggest airline, carrying 79.6m people last year, so it may not be surprising that certain routes attract a high volume of corporate traffic. But for one in five customers across its entire network to be travelling on business is a noteworthy statistic...

Monday, 11 February 2013

IAG's baggage

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Ground staff and cabin crew at Iberia, Spain's flag carrier, have announced 15 days of strikes this February and March. The walkouts are in response to attempts by International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of Iberia and British Airways (BA), to push through swingeing cuts at the loss-making carrier. Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, originally called for 4,500 job cuts plus salary reductions of up to 35% in November. He moderated this slightly last month, suggesting that 3,147 job losses and 23% pay cuts would do the trick. Trade unions rejected the proposal...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Aerotoxic syndrome

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Concerns about air quality on planes are nothing new, but a recent lawsuit is reigniting a debate over whether it could potentially be harmful. British Airways (BA) has defended its safety protocols after a posthumous court case was filed on behalf of one of two former pilots who claimed they were poisoned by toxic cabin fumes.

The BA pilots, Karen Lysakowska and Richard Westgate, believed they had fallen victim to “aerotoxic syndrome” towards the end of their lives. They accused BA of breaching health and safety guidelines for monitoring cabin air quality...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Interview: Fernando Pinto, TAP Portugal CEO

Synergy still front-runner for TAP privatisation: Pinto

TAP Portugal chief executive Fernando Pinto says he is confident that Synergy Group, the parent of Avianca-Taca, will resubmit its bid for the Portuguese flag carrier when the privatisation process resumes. But he adds that British Airways parent IAG "might" also rekindle its interest now the Eurozone crisis has abated.

The Portuguese government rejected Synergy's bid in December 2012, citing concerns about financial guarantees. The Brazilian conglomerate had been the sole bidder, after IAG and Lufthansa withdrew their early expressions of interest.

Pinto says that in principle the government had accepted Synergy's offer - comprising a down payment of €35 million ($47.5 million) plus a €315 million investment - but that "fine details on the actual paperwork" had ultimately scuppered the deal. "It was a matter of timing, and a matter of having the correct paperwork," he explains.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Etihad's calculated gamble

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The appointment of Wolfgang Prock-Schauer to the role of chief executive at airberlin last month, though unexpected, was by no means a complete surprise. His predecessor, Hartmut Mehdorn, 70, had been hired on an interim basis in September 2011 – shortly before Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways acquired 29 per cent of the German carrier, becoming its largest stakeholder – and local media reports consistently painted a picture of strained relations with the new Gulf investor.

Even so, Prock-Schauer’s rapid ascension to the top job is yet another sign of seismic changes at airberlin since Etihad chief executive James Hogan invested in the troubled carrier...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Compensation claims: Don't hold your breath

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Three months ago the European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a ruling that airline passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight is significantly delayed. But getting airlines to pay is proving tricky. New research by, a fee-charging claims website, suggests airlines are becoming less co-operative while relying on increasingly inventive reasons for rejecting claims. Between July and December last year, the company found that only 8.5% of initial applications submitted by 10,412 passengers were honoured by airlines...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Fastjet hits foreign ownership hurdle in South Africa

Fastjet is holding top-level talks with the South African government after several domestic carriers moved to block its acquisition of 1time Airline, citing foreign ownership rules.

The startup African low-cost carrier, which is backed by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, had signed an option agreement to acquire South Africa's 1time in December 2012, one month after the latter entered provisional liquidation.

Fastjet had planned to resume operating "up to three" of 1time's 12 Boeing MD-80s if the deal could be finalised, as well as reinstating hundreds of employees. The 1time brand would then be phased out as Fastjet aircraft came on stream.

However, it emerged on 23 January that at least three local carriers - state-owned South African Airways (SAA); its low-cost subsidiary Mango; and British Airways affiliate Comair - are now pressuring South Africa's Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) to block the acquisition.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

GACA slams on the brakes

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page 46/47 & page 48

The recent decision by GACA, Saudi Arabia's civil aviation authority, to delay awarding new domestic air licences came as little surprise to people familiar with the kingdom's heavily regulated, duopolistic market. The much-vaunted liberalisation process had advanced as far seven bidders being shortlisted - among them consortia comprising Gulf Air, Bahrain Air and Qatar Airways - but it became clear that the familiar stumbling block of regulatory price intervention was hindering a deal.

"GACA needs more time to choose the best operating models after it completes the analysis and evaluation of the bids that were received from the companies," the authority said in late November, making no reference to the widely reported withdrawal of several bids in protest at the country's domestic fare cap. Earlier that month, GACA had insisted it was in the final stages of issuing the licences...

Ten times too many

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The collapse of South Africa’s 1time Airline in November 2012 was first and foremost a tragedy for the 1,000 employees it left jobless, few of whom can expect to be reinstated permanently if newcomer FastJet completes its proposed takeover of the defunct carrier. In an emotive statement announcing the failure of the business rescue plan, chief executive Blacky Komani spoke of the “end of a dream and an era for all of us”.

But, looking beyond the human toll of the low-cost carrier’s (LCC) failure, the South African media has been quick to ask why 10 of the 11 independent airlines created since deregulation in1991 have collapsed...

FastJet answers the low-cost call

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With the low-cost carrier (LCC) market transforming how Europeans think about air travel in the space of just two decades, it is little wonder that Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of EasyJet, has been keen to export his philosophy to other corners of the globe.

Drawing inspiration from EasyJet’s brand name – not to mention headhunting several of its former executives and even leasing one of its old aircraft – the Greek Cypriot tycoon’s vision became reality in November 2012, when the inaugural FastJet flight took off from the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam to the northern city of Mwanza...