Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ban on the run


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After months of threatening to roll out its laptop ban globally, the US Department of Homeland Security in June unveiled a raft of new security measures aimed at fighting terrorism without further inconveniencing passengers.

America’s new approach obliges foreign airports to adopt more stringent measures in relation to explosive-trace detection, canine security and vetting of airport personnel. Any gateways that fail to comply will be prohibited from allowing large electronic devices in the passenger cabins of flights to the US – echoing the measures placed on seven Arab countries plus Turkey in March.

At the time of writing, six of those affected countries – the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan – have been lifted from the ban, which was hastily rolled out after intelligence agencies uncovered a possible Daesh plot to smuggle bombs in the battery compartments of laptops...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Interview: Blair Pollock, Qazaq Air CEO


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Looking back, 2015 seems like an unfortunate time to have launched an airline in Kazakhstan, the central Asian nation whose economy relies heavily on commodity earnings.

The collapse in oil prices from $115 per barrel in mid-2014 to $30 in early 2016 had a crippling effect on the former Soviet republic, choking off both domestic spending and foreign investment. While the government responded prudently by floating its currency, a subsequent halving of the Tenge’s value only heaped more pressure on Kazakh workers and businesses.

Having launched operations at the height of the crisis, there was little chance that Qazaq Air would enjoy the smooth entry into service its management originally hoped for.

But chief executive Blair Pollock is quick to find a silver lining, arguing that headwinds create opportunities for ambitious start-ups – particularly state-owned ones that have a political mandate to drive long-term development...

Low-cost long-haul coming of age?


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In March 2015, after years of teasing passengers with the promise of £10 transatlantic fares, Ryanair formally ruled out moving into the low-cost long-haul (LCLH) marketplace.

“The Board … has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so,” it said in a terse statement, backtracking on plans announced just days earlier to connect Europe with a dozen cities in America. Chief executive Michael O’Leary insisted that the industry needs to enter a cyclical downturn before widebody aircraft become available at suitably discounted prices.

Ryanair’s scepticism of LCLH models has not changed over the past two years, but the once-vacant sector is now advancing leaps and bounds without it. Two rivals – Norwegian Air Shuttle and Iceland’s WOW Air – have grabbed sizable chunks of the transatlantic market with their no-frills offerings. Responding to the new competition, three of Europe’s legacy carriers have launched or promised to launch their own LCLH subsidiaries...

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Biofuels: The cost of going green


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Having pledged to pursue carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards at last year’s ICAO Assembly, airlines are committed to reducing the environmental cost of flying even as they gear up for decades of continued growth in air transport.

Initially, this will be achieved through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) – a market-based mechanism that plugs the gap between the industry’s targeted emissions and its actual output. For every year that airlines exceed their emissions quotas, they have agreed to invest in UN-approved carbon-reduction schemes that mitigate the resultant environmental damage.

However, CORSIA is just one component in a basket of long-term measures aimed at achieving carbon neutrality. The other three are technological improvements, such as more fuel-efficient engines; operational advancements, such as better air-traffic management; and sustainable fuels, which are more commonly referred to as biofuels...

Interview: Piya Yodmani, NokScoot CEO


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page 38/39 & page 40

When the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) red flagged Thailand for “significant safety concerns” in 2015, no airline suffered more than NokScoot, the low-cost long-haul carrier jointly owned by Thailand’s Nok Air and Singapore’s Scoot.

The start-up had just initiated charter flights to Japan and South Korea – its two main target markets – and was weeks away from maturing the links into regular scheduled services. Before it could do so, however, ICAO issued the red-flag warning and both countries stopped granting new route approvals for Thai operators.

Chief executive Piya Yodmani admits that the disruption was a “big headache” for the airline, allowing rival Thai AirAsia X to cement its one-year head-start in the all-important Northeast Asian market. But he says the company is now back on track, reporting its first ever quarterly profit in May and rekindling plans for Japanese and South Korean flights as soon as ICAO gives the green light to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Two flights are better than one


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It is a peculiarity of the airline business that a connecting flight is often cheaper than a shorter nonstop route to the same destination. Normally, paying less to receive more is economically preposterous. But in transportation, where the fastest conveyance from A to B is the main utility, it makes perfect sense. For passengers, sitting on a plane any longer than necessary can be an exasperating, even painful experience. For airlines, flying empty seats is no less harmful. This inverse relationship between a journey’s value and its cost is something that Europe’s new breed of long-haul budget carriers may be overlooking...

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Interview: Mohamed Radhy Ould Bennahi, Mauritania Airlines International CEO


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When Mauritania Airlines International was established in December 2010, it marked the third attempt at a flag-carrier in a decade by the Islamic Republic.

Just three years previously, Mauritania Airways, a joint venture with Tunisair, had been set up with the same aim of providing connectivity for the little-known West African nation. Its rapid fall from grace followed the slow demise of Air Mauritanie, the country’s historic flag-carrier, which cooperated with pan-regional carrier Air Afrique for most of its four decades in the skies.

That financial headwinds grounded both predecessors is hardly surprising when one considers Mauritania’s vital statistics. With an agriculture-focused economy and a small, conservative population that typically eschews overseas travel, the country suffers from weak demand on both the inbound and outbound sectors...

Interview: Abubaker Elfortia, Afriqiyah Airways Chairman


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When Libya’s globally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) was signed into existence in December 2015, the United Nations hailed its “clear plan for rebuilding a strong, united and peaceful Libya” after five years of unrest split the country down the middle with two competing governments.

The 12 months that followed saw the Misrata brigades, a band of militias loyal to the GNA, drive Daesh from its strongholds in Libya – liberating thousands from the ultra-hardline terrorists and securing a key victory for the fledgling government.

But, beyond that all-important military success, there are few reasons to look back on 2016 as an encouraging year for Libya. Hopes for unity have unravelled in the face of continued opposition from power-brokers in the east of the country, who flexed their muscles last summer by voting against the GNA’s mandate and seizing oil terminals. One western group responded by seizing premises in Tripoli and trying to restore executive powers to Khalifa Al-Ghwell, the former prime minister...

Interview: Benyamin Ismail, AirAsia X CEO


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page 29 & page 30/31

Malaysia’s AirAsia X is rightly considered a trailblazer in the low-cost long-haul market, having pioneered no-frills wide-body operations at a time when few in the industry thought the model viable.

Its launch a decade ago precipitated a flurry of activity across the Asia Pacific region, with rivals in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand rapidly developing their own low-cost long-haul products. Even in Europe, where the concept had failed to gain traction for decades, it was not long before Norwegian Air Shuttle began flying eastward to Asia and westward to the Americas – pushing down average fares in both corridors.

This encroachment by low-cost carriers into markets formerly dominated by full-service airlines is described by Sir Tim Clark, president of Dubai’s Emirates Airline, as a “gathering storm” for the industry...

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

America restricts large electronic devices on all flights from the Arab world


Full article on economist.com

Passengers flying nonstop to America from anywhere in the Arab world are now banned from bringing large electronic devices in their carry-on luggage. The Associated Press, citing American government officials, says the restriction applies to eight countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But the only other Middle Eastern or North African country with passenger flights to America is Israel (which is also the country in the region that American carriers fly to). That makes the measure, in effect, a pan-Arab ban. All devices larger than a mobile phone must be checked in under the new rules, including laptops, Kindles, cameras and portable DVD players...