Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Southern Africa's local issues

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While financial turmoil at South African Airways often makes headlines in the sub-region, the Johannesburg-based flag carrier is far from the only troubled aviation asset in southern Africa. Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and others are also struggling to develop suitable air infrastructure to match their relatively niche economies.

“Most governments in southern Africa face a quandary. On the one hand their national carrier plays a vital role in boosting trade and tourism, and on the other the airlines constitute a drain on the national treasury,” explains Nick Fadugba, chief executive of African Aviation Services and a former secretary general of AFRAA...

Monday, 3 June 2013

Fastjet's South African adventure

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Fastjet, the pan-African low-cost carrier backed by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will begin South African services in July with a Boeing 737-300 wet-leased from local operator Star Air Cargo. Division chief executive Kyle Haywood believes that the launch will restore price competition in a market dominated by two low-cost players – Comair’s Kulula brand, and South African Airways’ Mango subsidiary.

But the myriad legal difficulties Fastjet has endured since its November 2012 launch show no sign of abating, with Comair chief executive Erik Venter already hinting that his new rival’s corporate structure may fall foul of South African law...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

SAA's state shackles

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State-owned South African Airways surprised no-one in May when it said it was borrowing 1.5 billion rand ($167 million) to cover its near-term operating costs. The loan, secured against last year's 5 billion rand government guarantee, will be used as working capital while the flag carrier implements its latest turnaround plan – the ninth such strategy put before its shareholder.

Scepticism about SAA's ability to turn the corner has been fuelled by a spate of management resignations and dismissals, with Monwabisi Kalawe due to become its fourth chief executive in less than a year. Although his interim predecessor, Nico Bezuidenhout, insists that "green shoots" are emerging following last year's 1.3 billion rand loss, the airline's chequered history and its status as an end-of-line carrier has left analysts reserving judgment...

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Iraqi Airways back into the fold

Full article in JPG format:
page 24/25 & page 26/27

News that April was the bloodiest month in Iraq for almost five years has lent credibility to recent warnings that the country may be slipping back into civil war, fuelled by the Sunni Islamist insurgency across its north-western border with Syria. Some 595 civilians were killed violently in Iraq this April, the UN says, doubling the previous month's figure.

But that statistic, grim as it is, remains a world away from the nightmarish scenes at the height of the war in July 2006, when more than 3,200 deaths were recorded in a single month. The deterioration also comes as Iraq pushes through its 2013 budget, earmarking 138 trillion Iraqi dinar ($118.5 billion) of public spending. Though Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the session, Iraq's immense oil wealth is beginning to trickle down to ordinary citizens.

Amid the dichotomy of growing prosperity and deepening violence, flag carrier Iraqi Airways – which was grounded by sanctions throughout the 1990s – is doing its bit to bring Iraq back to the international fold...

The UAE and Canada re-engage

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Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Air Canada recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin selling tickets on each other's flights from the third quarter of this year. Etihad has more than 40 such codeshare agreements in place around the world, but its latest partnership – which follows a thawing of relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Canada – could be a milestone in the long-running battle between the Gulf carriers and their legacy counterparts, particularly those in the Star Alliance grouping of airlines.

Under the terms of the agreement, Etihad will place its code on Air Canada-operated flights between Toronto and unspecified destinations in North America. In return, Air Canada will put its code on Etihad's bilaterally constrained Abu Dhabi-Toronto trunk route, as well as its Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow service...

Friday, 31 May 2013

Life after Malev

Full article on economist.com

The collapse of Malev, Hungary's flag carrier, in February 2012 could have triggered a crisis at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International airport (pictured). The capital's main gateway lost 40% of its revenue and, without Malev's feeder network to bring them passengers, its two extant long-haul operators—American Airlines and Hainan Airlines—withdrew their respective services to New York and Beijing. As its connections disintegrated, Budapest started to look like a bellwether for the decline of European aviation. Yet it seems Hungary may actually have done well to lose Malev and set off down a new, less vainglorious, path...

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Interview: Bijan Mougouee, FlyGeorgia CEO

FlyGeorgia targets London route launch this year

FlyGeorgia is hopeful of launching flights to London as soon as this autumn, with either Luton or Stansted airport seen as the optimal UK gateway for the Georgian start-up carrier.

"We were planning for this summer, which didn't happen, so we have to postpone it until September onwards," chief executive Bijan Mougouee tells Flightglobal.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Interview: Kam Jandu, Budapest Airport Aviation Director

Budapest's new role in the shadow of Malev

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International airport lost almost 40% of its traffic overnight on 3 February 2012, when flag carrier Malev Hungarian Airlines succumbed to its growing debt pile and ceased operations. One year later, despite a high-profile spat with second-largest customer Ryanair, the Hungarian capital's airport has stemmed the decline in annual footfall to a mere 5%.

Describing that modest drop as a "fantastic outcome", Kam Jandu, Budapest airport's executive director of aviation, now expects flat passenger numbers of 8.5 million for 2013. He then forecasts an annual compound growth rate of 4% from next year onwards, targeting 10 million passengers by 2017.

Without a national carrier to provide feeder traffic, however, the airport has been forced to shift away from its former hub-and-spoke model. Instead, it is experimenting with what Wizz Air chief executive József Váradi describes as a "new paradigm" for the beleaguered European aviation market.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Interview: József Váradi, Wizz Air CEO

Wizz Air to double operations outside Europe by 2015

Wizz Air expects to double its operational presence outside of Europe over the next 12 to 18 months, chief executive József Váradi said in a media briefing at the Routes Europe conference in Budapest this week.

The Hungarian low-cost carrier (LCC) has spread its reach beyond European borders during the past year, announcing new services to Kutaisi in Georgia, Baku in Azerbaijan, Tel Aviv in Israel and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

It also operates subsidiary Wizz Air Ukraine at Kiev Zhuliany airport, where it has based three Airbus A320s.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Interview: Sergey Emdin, Pulkovo Airport DG

Full article in JPG format: page 32-33 & page 34

As the gateway to Russia's cultural capital, it is perhaps no surprise that Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg consistently posts double-digit growth in annual passenger numbers. Footfall at the airport grew by 16.1% last year to 11.2 million, and director general Sergey Emdin says he is confident that figure will reach 12.5 million in 2013.

But rapid year-on-year growth has placed renewed pressure on the hub to expand its facilities and improve passenger experience. Mindful of this, operator Northern Capital Gateway consortium – comprising Fraport (35.5%), VTB Bank (57.5%) and Copelouzos Group (7%) – has since April 2010 overseen a $1.2 billion modernisation project. The 30-year public-private partnership focusses on construction of a new international terminal, expansion of the apron areas, and development of a hotel and business centre...