Monday, 26 May 2014

Discrimination at 30,000 feet

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South African Airways (SAA) has been taken to task by Solidarity, a trade union, over its discriminatory hiring practices for pilots. The union is angry with the state-owned carrier's decision not to admit Daniël Hoffman to its cadet pilot programme for the second year in a row. Mr Hoffman, whose theory and psychometric tests were described as exceptional by Solidarity, is a white male. That puts him at a handicap against other applicants because of the airline's self-professed bias towards hiring black, coloured (mixed race), Indian or white female pilots...

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Russia's battle for Ukrainian skies

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On February 28th an Atlasjet flight from Istanbul to Crimea made a U-turn over the Black Sea and headed back to Turkey. The pilots had been informed that Simferopol Airport, the main gateway to the peninsula, was occupied by unidentified armed men. Few doubted that the assailants were Russian special forces, whose seizure of strategic buildings would mark the beginning of the annexation of Crimea. It did not take foreign airlines long to see the writing on the wall. Atlasjet, Turkish Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines and Latvia’s Air Baltic all suspended flights to the peninsula. So too, eventually, did Ukraine’s flag-carrier, Ukraine International Airlines...

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Egypt's new aviation hope

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page 24/25 & page 26

There is no denying that the past three years have been a torrid time for Egyptian tourism. Hopes of a quick recovery after the 2011 Arab Spring were dashed by last year’s military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood. The bombing of a tourist bus in Sinai this February further unnerved visitors, although militants have predominantly directed their wrath at security forces.

Tourism revenue fell 43% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014 to just $1.3 billion, accelerating the downturn triggered by last July’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Full-year revenue had already fallen 41% in 2013, when just 9.5 million tourists visited the country compared with 14.7 million back in 2010...

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

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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

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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

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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...