Wednesday, 10 December 2014

APD: It’s a London thing

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The decision by George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, to scrap air passenger duty (APD) on children is unlikely to appease many of his pro-aviation critics. Penalising families had been one of the main complaints levied against the tax, which on some routes has increased nearly tenfold since its introduction 20 years ago. Another common criticism was that APD unfairly punishes Caribbean travellers because of the rudimentary way it is calculated. (Distances are measured to a country’s capital city, making the tax on a 4,400-mile flight to Trinidad higher than on a 7,200-mile flight to Hawaii.) This irregularity, too, was rectified in Mr Osborne’s autumn statement, Britain's mini budget...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Interview: Giorgio Callegari, Aeroflot Deputy General Director for Strategy

Full article in JPG format: page 12 & page 14

If there was any doubt that Russia remains defiant in its ongoing sanctions battle with the West, state-owned flag-carrier Aeroflot drove home the message in October by branding its new low-cost subsidiary ‘Pobeda’, or ‘Victory’.

To a domestic audience, the word is most commonly associated with 9 May: the national holiday that marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. It is a term steeped in patriotic fervour, evoking all the sentiments that Moscow wants to stir up at home during the current geopolitical crisis.

To Russia’s Western neighbours, meanwhile, the brand will be interpreted as a cheeky reference to Pobeda’s defunct predecessor, Dobrolet, which succumbed to EU sanctions in August after just two months of operations...

Interview: Guliz Ozturk, Pegasus CCO

Full article in JPG format: page 36/37 & page 38/39

For several years Europe’s network carriers have been fighting a losing battle on two competitive fronts, pinned down by both the lower costs of no-frills rivals at home and the superior products of full-service rivals in the Middle East.

Though the continent’s flag-carriers are beginning to adapt, they have already relinquished huge traffic volumes to the market leaders of both new airline breeds: Ryanair and easyJet in the low-cost camp; and Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways in the Gulf. The unwillingness of European governments to foster healthy competition in their capital-city hubs has only accelerated this transfer of power.

And now, in a further blow to their fortunes, yet another competitive dynamic is emerging on the fringes of the continent...

Interview: Habiba Laklalech, Royal Air Maroc Deputy CEO

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Though global airlines are enjoying benign market conditions at present, the industry has a habit of swinging from crisis to crisis over the long-term. Carriers based in the Middle East and North Africa have experienced this more than most, suffering not only from the 2001 terror attacks on America and the 2008 global financial crisis, but also the 2011 Arab Spring and its ongoing legacy of regional instability.

In the North African state of Morocco, flag-carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) can add one more crisis to that already ample list of headaches. In 2006, the Moroccan government initiated an open skies agreement with the European Union, swinging open the doors of competition and granting foreign airlines unbridled access to the country in a bid to expand its tourism sector...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Meetings in Mogadishu

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Around the world certain cities have sadly become synonymous with war, brutality and lawlessness. For the business traveller, particularly the Western business traveller, Baghdad surely ranks among the most feared of assignments. Tripoli looks to be going that way soon. Beirut, long considered a byword for chaos, has in recent times rehabilitated its image. But of all the godforsaken places on the planet, Mogadishu, the damned capital of Somalia, evokes uniquely and impenetrably negative connotations. So it was with some trepidation that Gulliver set foot on the tarmac of Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WOW Air throws a curve-ball

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In an attempt to live up to its name, WOW Air, an Icelandic low cost carrier, caused some excitement last month by unveiling promotional fares of $99 one-way for its upcoming transatlantic routes. Prices have since nearly doubled, but even so they remain competitive with Norwegian Air Shuttle, currently the only other true budget carrier offering flights from Europe to North America. Norwegian keeps its prices in check, in part, by flying the most up-to-date, fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliners. So how does WOW compete? The answer, quite simply, is geography...

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Interview: Abdul Wahab Teffaha, AACO Secretary General

Full article in PDF format: page 21-25 & cover

Whatever AACO's executive committee was planning for this year's annual general meeting (AGM), their agenda has been torn asunder by two catastrophic events still gripping the airline industry.

Malaysia Airlines cruelly bore the brunt of both disasters – the loss, literally, of MH370 in March, and the shooting down of MH17 in July – but all aviation stakeholders now face the grave responsibility of plugging safety gaps and improving regulatory protocols. No region is more burdened with this collective duty than the Middle East, whose fast-expanding airlines operate in the most volatile of neighbourhoods.

At the same time, though, more familiar concerns still weigh heavily on the region's airlines. In European capitals, increasingly protectionist measures are being called on to fight Gulf competition; in Arab capitals, the 2004 Damascus Convention is falling well short of its promise to liberalise Middle Eastern skies...

Libya starts again

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In early 2012, shortly after Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by an alliance of tribal militias, Libyan Airlines chief executive Khaled Taynaz spoke to Arabian Aerospace about the prospects for the war-weary country and its well-developed civil aviation sector.

Though careful not to downplay the challenges ahead, Taynaz painted an overwhelmingly positive picture for the future. His mood matched the broader sentiment sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring.

Just two years on, however, events on the ground seem anything but upbeat. The revolutions that engulfed the region have largely evolved into new dictatorships or entrenched civil warfare; many of the militias that united against despots are now turning their guns on each other; and the worrisome security climate has struck fear in the hearts of western governments, which are now mobilising their own forces for potential conflict...

Iran Air's open door

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On November 24 2014, exactly one year after the signing of the historic Geneva Interim Agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries (America, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) will formally come to a close.

The dream of a comprehensive deal that normalises relations between Iran and the West still faces immense challenges, weighed down as it is by three decades of open hostilities. Public opinion on both sides remains divided, and the backdrop of a deepening security crisis in the Middle East has injected new complexities. The original, mutually-postponed deadline of 20 July passed without apparent progress.

But, if rapprochement prevails, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama will leave a legacy of renewed economic cooperation between the two countries. Iran’s civil aviation sector and America’s aerospace manufacturing industries stand to be among the main beneficiaries...

Interview: Mohamed Frikha, Syphax Airlines Chairman

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In an aviation market as heavily regulated as Tunisia, Mohamed Frikha, the founder and chairman of Syphax Airlines, fully anticipated that his start-up would encounter push-back from existing players when it launched in April 2012.

Sure enough, on the very first day of operations at Tunis Carthage International Airport, Syphax’s passengers were turned away by staff from the ground-handling division of flag-carrier Tunisair.

The debacle marked a rocky start for the fledgling privately-owned airline, and it was not to be an isolated occurrence. Over the months that followed Tunisair’s former chief executive, Rabah Jrad, repeatedly accused his competitor of “illegal and unfair” business practices. Though undoubtedly a headache, this opposition ultimately failed to deter Frikha from injecting competition into the sector...