Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Clear skies ahead

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The standards for meteorological planning of air navigation are laid down in ICAO Annex 3 and observed by civil aviation authorities around the globe. But beyond national borders, just two bodies provide en-route weather flight planning data: Britain’s Met Office, and America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While it is easy to get lost in the acronyms and technical detail of weather science, the remit of these two entities is relatively straightforward. Both function as World Area Forecast (WAF) centers that broadcast the raw data and charts used by flight briefing companies for route optimization, and by airports for weather-related contingency planning...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

South Africa: All's fare in love and war

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The battle for South African aviation is heating up, with four market entrants looking to break the duopoly enjoyed by SAA and Comair. Martin Rivers reports from Johannesburg.

South Africa may have the continent's largest domestic aviation market, but it is far from the most competitive one. Just two operators – state-owned flag-carrier South African Airways (SAA) and privately-owned Comair – provide domestic capacity in the country. SAA operates as a full-service mainline unit, while also running low-cost services with its Mango brand...

Tassili plugs the gaps

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Tassili Airlines, Algeria’s second national carrier, was established as a joint venture between state-owned oil company Sonatrach and Air Algérie in 1997. It became wholly owned by Sonatrach in 2005.

With its roots in the oil and gas industry – which accounts for 30% of Algeria’s GDP – the airline has traditionally focussed on ferrying oil workers across the vast North African country. But in March 2013, Tassili began deploying its fleet of 12 aircraft on scheduled domestic operations...

THY's flightpath to success

Full article in JPG format: page 22/23, page 24 & cover

When Istanbul's third airport is completed, the mega-hub on the European side of the city should have an annual capacity of 150 million passengers.

The $30 billion project is regrettably still shrouded in political uncertainty, with a court ruling in February blocking construction work until an environmental impact analysis has been conducted. That will almost certainly push the opening date beyond the current, optimistic target of 2018.

But with 150 million passengers already taking to the skies across the country last year, Turkey's political leaders are under no illusions about the urgent need to plan for more growth...

Interview: Steve Gunning, IAG Cargo CEO

Full article in JPG format: page 39 & page 40

IATA's upbeat report on air freight activity in January belied lingering uncertainty about the sector, which has seen years of contraction and sluggish growth since the global financial crisis.

Cargo traffic expanded by 4.5% in the first month of 2014, the industry group said, marking a sharp acceleration of the 1.4% full-year growth recorded in 2013. Just weeks before the update, Tony Tyler, IATA's director general, described air freight markets as the "biggest worry" for the airline industry.

But one month of buoyant traffic does not equate to a decisive turnaround, and freight operators continue to warn that a structural change is taking root across the sector...

Quality and quantity in Qatar

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There was little debate about who stole the show at the ITB International Tourism Fair in Berlin this March, with Qatar Airways using the trade event to unveil the First Class cabin on its soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A380s.

Each cabin contains eight seats with a 90-inch pitch and lie-flat design that the airline claims is the widest in the industry. In-flight entertainment is provided on a 26-inch personal television screen, while the layout also encompasses a “dining for two” concept that allows passengers to face each other during meals.

The luxurious seats understandably attracted the lion’s share of publicity among ITB delegates, but the airline’s premium offering is just one facet of its ambitious expansion plan...

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Israel opening UP

Full article on economist.com

Whether you have flown with El Al or not, any mention of Israel's flag carrier will almost certainly evoke images of iron-fisted security in your mind. The airline protects its flight crew, most of whom are former Air Force pilots, behind two reinforced cockpit doors; armed sky marshals mingle with passengers on every flight; and ground staff run psychological profiles on travellers as they pass through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Such measures have kept Israelis safe from airborne terror attacks since the 1970s. But they are also expensive, which makes this month's launch of UP, the new low-cost brand of El Al, eyebrow-raising...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Fragmented flag carriers

Full article on economist.com

Back in 2012, The Economist reported that four flag carriers from the Balkans were considering a merger. The logic was sound. When the seven former Yugoslav states went their own way in the 1990s, each set up its own flag carrier as an affirmation of independence. But some, such as Kosovo, a state which is only recognised by 100 or so countries and which covers just 11,000 square miles, needed a national airline about as much as they did a space programme. Kosova Airlines thus ceased operations in 2006. MAT Macedonian Airlines followed suit in 2009...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Re-inventing revenue management

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page 36/37 & page 38

Revenue management has passed through numerous phases since its widespread adoption in the 1980s. The discipline continues to evolve today, experimenting with different ways of matching the right price to the right customer.

Following deregulation in the US, the airline industry's initial focus was on maximizing revenue in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Seat inventory controls used historical demand forecasts to assign optimal price points for distinct passengers, factoring in the length of time until travel and the gradually shrinking pool of seat availability. Hence the sharp rise in ticket prices on last-minute bookings.

The mathematical algorithms making these calculations became more sophisticated over time, incorporating ever-more complex considerations ranging from competitors' offerings to seasonal holidays and events. But the overarching goal remained matching passenger demand with a perishable supply of seats in the most revenue-maximal way...

Interview: Kapila Chandrasena, SriLankan Airlines CEO

Full article in JPG format:
page 39 & page 40/41

As the country's fourth highest earner of foreign exchange, tourism has long been considered vital to the economic health of Sri Lanka.

The sector has withstood numerous shocks in recent times, overcoming a major terror attack on Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport in 2001, the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, and the global financial crisis in 2007. Each time the tourists withdrew at first, only to flock back in still-greater numbers.

But since the end of the civil war in May 2009, the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean' has enjoyed its largest growth spurt ever. Visitor numbers have almost tripled to 1.27 million in four years, with flag carrier SriLankan Airlines leading the charge to revitalise the island's fortunes...