Thursday, 15 January 2015

Interview: Said Korshel, Somali Transport Minister

Full article in PDF format: page 63-67 & cover

In most places around the world, working in civil aviation would not be considered an especially dangerous calling.

Somalia, however, is not most places. On September 20, shortly before African Aerospace travelled to Mogadishu for this special report, Ali Mohamed Ibrahim, the general manager of Somalia’s civil aviation authority (SCAMA), was attacked by gunmen en route to his office.

The assassination attempt killed his driver and bodyguard, but Ibrahim managed to escape with his life. He is now receiving medical treatment in Istanbul, and we wish him well.

Such incidents are, regrettably, not uncommon in Somalia...

Somalia: Mogadishu Airport's facelift

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Abdullahi Mohamud, Somalia’s most senior immigration official, was working at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport before the outbreak of civil war in 1991, and he still works there today.

Flicking between CCTV cameras on a huge widescreen display in his airside office, Mohamud said the airport has undergone radical changes for the better in recent years.

The introduction of biometric passports was among the most noticeable improvements. When Turkish Airlines launched flights between Mogadishu and Istanbul in March 2012, Mohamud’s staff would seize fake travel documents on almost every Europe-bound flight. That flow of asylum seekers has since run dry, with the federal government’s new E-passports proving too hard for human traffickers to forge...

Somalia: The UN and AMISOM keep the peace

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Only about half of the 50 or so aircraft movements per day at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport are commercial transport services.

The other half are mostly operated by the United Nations (UN) and its myriad related agencies, providing a mixture of humanitarian airlifts; military support services for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), the multinational force battling Al Shabaab; and diplomatic or other VIP transportation flights.

It is a complex web of operations that hinges on various overlapping partnerships, so the number of entities and corresponding acronyms can get overwhelming...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Interview: Olgan Bekar, Turkish Ambassador to Somalia

Full article in JPG format: page 56/57 & page 58

Anyone who doubts Turkey’s long-term commitment to Africa need only look at the growing number of star-and-crescent flags fluttering outside diplomatic missions across the continent. The distinctive red motif now adorns 36 embassies in Africa, three times as many as in 2009.

Each new mission speaks to the growing inertia of commercial and political ties between Ankara and its partners on the continent. Bilateral trade with sub-Saharan Africa is up tenfold since the turn of the century, totalling $7.5 billion in 2013. Among Turkish contractors, Africa now accounts for 19% of international business volumes. Turkey’s heavy-duty exports – notably iron, steel, machinery and vehicles – are helping the continent down the laborious path of industrialisation.

One embassy, though, stands out less for its economic providence than the simple audacity of being opened in the first place...

Interview: Paul Byrne, Flynas CEO

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There was no shortage of sceptics in the airline industry when Flynas, Saudi Arabia’s only private scheduled carrier, began operating long-haul flights in early 2014. Sure enough it took just a few months for the airline to scrap the new routes; return its widebody Airbus A330s; and hire yet another chief executive – the fourth in three years.

Incoming boss Paul Byrne, who took to the helm on 1 November, admits that the airline made a strategic blunder by going long-haul. Its limited overseas brand awareness and semi-budget product was always going to struggle when competing with better-established flag-carrier Saudia...

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...