Thursday, 19 November 2015

Interview: Henok Teferra, ASKY CEO

ASKY mulls Nigerian subsidiary in lieu of cabotage rights

West Africa's ASKY Airlines will consider setting up subsidiaries in large markets such as Nigeria if progress is not made in securing cabotage rights.

"The ideal is to have countries understand [the benefits of liberalisation] and create a single African market," chief executive Henok Teferra tells Flightglobal.

"But if that does not materialise, then there are other routes we would look at ... If we are not able to overcome these restrictions we have with traffic rights, we could establish for example an ASKY Nigeria so as to tap into the domestic market."

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Too far for comfort?

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WOW Air, an Icelandic low-cost carrier, will launch flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco next summer. The airline is the latest to bring the low-cost model to long-haul flying, as it tries to rekindle Reykjavik's historic role as a budget layover for flights between Europe and North America. WOW operated its first transatlantic flights this year, serving Boston and Washington Baltimore with a pair of narrow-body Airbus A321s. Having been profitable for the first nine months of 2015, Skuli Mogensen, the airline’s boss, says he has "proved the model works" and is now eager to scale up. WOW will also add two Canadian points, Toronto and Montreal, in spring 2016...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Interview: Ken Choi, Jeju Air CEO

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page 34/35 & page 36

Located on the doorstep of Asia's two largest economies – China to the west, and Japan to the east – South Korea's low-cost carriers (LCCs) are hardly short of opportunities for overseas route development.

That is just as well given their less-than-dynamic home market. Eight out of ten domestic flights in the country either depart from or land in the southern island of Jeju – the only major destination not catered for by South Korea's high-speed rail network, KTX, which is the preferred mode of transport for many.

But while the wider region is awash with attractive leisure and business destinations, capitalising on their potential is not always straightforward...

Cham Wings the last hope for Syrian expats

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Cham Wings is filling the void left by Syria's troubled flag-carrier but, as Martin Rivers reports, it could face the same obstacles to long-term viability.

Syria's Cham Wings has announced the addition of Oman and Sudan to its route network, as the Damascus-based carrier plays an increasingly prominent role in the local aviation sector amid declining fortunes at state-owned Syrian Arab Airlines.

Twice weekly flights to Muscat were launched on 3 September, and at the time of writing a once weekly service to Khartoum was scheduled to begin on 16 October...

Doha down under

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Qatar Airways will double the number of destinations it serves in Australia next year, adding flights to Sydney in March and Adelaide in May as it tries to narrow the advantage currently enjoyed by the UAE's flag-carriers on connecting flights between Australia and Europe.

The Doha-based airline was a relative latecomer to Australia when it entered the market in 2009, launching its inaugural service two years after Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways and 13 years after Dubai's Emirates Airline. As a consequence, its existing daily flights to Melbourne and Perth account for just 8% of seating capacity available between the Gulf and Australia...

Kenya Airways in freefall?

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Kenya Airways posted the worst financial result in the corporate history of its home nation this summer, when it announced a full-year loss of 25.7 billion shillings ($254 million). Management at the flag-carrier, which was privatised in 1996 but is still 29.8% owned by the government, now face an uphill struggle in convincing politicians and the public that they deserve another shot at commercial viability.

The sheer scale of the losses – eight times deeper than the previous year – has prompted soul-searching in a country where 46% of the population lives below the poverty line. A Senate Select Committee is now pouring over the disastrous result, with some MPs openly calling for criminal proceedings against airline bosses.

However, while the prima facie evidence points to a series of strategic blunders, parliament's investigation has yet to uphold any of the allegations of corruption that have been bandied around by the press. In truth, Kenya Airways' predicament is far from unique in African aviation, and its commercial fortunes are at least partly influenced by external factors beyond the control of management...

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Qatar Airways begrudgingly moves with the times

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Given that trade unions are banned in Qatar, it should come as no surprise that the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has never been the strongest supporter of Qatar Airways. The two sides have been at loggerheads since 2013, when the ITF obtained copies of an employment contract for the airline's cabin crew. It was not impressed. Clauses prohibiting staff from getting married or falling pregnant proved particularly irksome, as did wider reports of overbearing treatment. Two years on, the global union federation is stepping up its campaign by calling on Barcelona Football Club not to renew its €150m ($165m) sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways...

Monday, 26 October 2015

Out of the ashes, a new Libyan airline takes flight

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Risk-averse entrepreneurs look away now.

In the notoriously volatile airline industry, even well-established operators are never more than a few months from bankruptcy. The threat is compounded tenfold for start-ups – and is incalculably higher in a warzone.

Small wonder that Libyan Wings, the full-service airline unveiled after the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, missed several planned launch dates.

Last year's near-total destruction of Tripoli International Airport, its planned home base, certainly didn't help matters. Nor did the wider unravelling of Libya's fractured political climate, with two rival governments claiming sovereignty in the country and an ugly franchise of Islamic State rampaging over contested territory.

But the airline's private investors have persevered, and under the stewardship of chief executive Edgardo Badiali Libyan Wings finally took to the skies in September...

Friday, 9 October 2015

Transaero pushed out into the cold

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Things don't look good for Transaero, Russia's second largest airline. Weighed down by estimated debts of 250 billion roubles ($4 billion), the privately-owned carrier had been pinning its hopes for survival on a reluctant takeover by Aeroflot, Russia's flag-carrier, which is majority owned by the government. That mega-merger, announced in September, seemed to offer a last-ditch alternative to insolvency. But Aeroflot has since walked away from the deal and two major lenders have now started bankruptcy proceedings. Winding the company up is considered "the only possible option", according to Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s economy minister. He blames "ineffective management" for its demise...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Emboldened Flynas returns to growth

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Saudi Arabia’s Flynas is drafting a five-year expansion plan as the airline nears its first ever annual profit, gaining momentum from a strong Hajj season and the simplification of its business model.

Chief executive Paul Byrne – who was appointed last year after the failure of an ambitious long-haul expansion program – says he expects September to be the ninth consecutive month of profitability.

That marks a dramatic turnaround for a company that has been consistently loss-making since launching nearly a decade ago.

“We took care of what was losing money, and we just kept doing what was making money,” Byrne tells Al Arabiya. “The difficulty in our business is not being tempted to do something strange and wonderful. It does take a lot of discipline internally – to keep people focused on saving costs, getting the flight out on-time, getting the pricing right...