Thursday, 17 May 2018

Zimbabwe Airways: Flights of fancy


Full article on economist.com

Having one loss-making state-owned airline is bad enough. What, then, of a government that wants two?

Earlier this year Zimbabweans were startled to learn that the government had concluded a secret $70m deal to buy four second-hand Boeing jets from Malaysia to form the core of a new national airline, Zimbabwe Airways. This venture is supposed to compete with Air Zimbabwe, the flag carrier, which ran up huge debts thanks to poor management and ex-President Robert Mugabe’s habit of commandeering its planes so his wife could shop abroad...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Interview: Bilal Ekşi, Turkish Airlines CEO


Full article in PDF format

Bilal Ekşi knew he was in for a rough ride when he took on the role of Turkish Airlines (THY) chief executive in October 2016.

His predecessor, Temel Kotil, had won countless accolades during his time in office, presiding over a decade of rapid expansion and rising prestige for the super-connector airline. By the time of Kotil’s departure, however, events were conspiring against both the flag-carrier and its home nation.

A failed coup d'état, a wave of terror attacks by Daesh, and a regional slowdown in demand were setting the scene for THY’s first annual loss in recent memory...

The great foreign exchange rip-off is coming to an end


Full article on economist.com

Some years ago, when Gulliver was a wide-eyed reporter on his first business trip, he sidled up to a bureau de change in London’s Heathrow Airport to buy some foreign currency. His nervous excitement quickly turned to dismay when the teller gouged 12% from the transaction, justifying the theft by tapping on a display-screen of ruinous exchange rates. Today, Gulliver knows better than to buy foreign currency at an airport. But many do not: in 2016 Heathrow raked in £50m ($68m) by renting retail space to bureaux de change. New technology and startups could soon change that...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Widerøe pins future of social routes on electric plane breakthrough


Full article on forbes.com

Widerøe is banking on the launch of an all-electric, sub 50-seat aircraft by the end of the next decade in order to maintain its deep footprint in the domestic Norwegian market.

“I really believe that we will have a major technology shift in this turboprop segment, and I think, in fact, there could be a possibility for flying all-electric … in the timeframe around 2030,” Stein Nilsen, Widerøe chief executive, told me last week during the ferry flight of the airline’s new Embraer E190 E2 from Aberdeen to Bergen.

Nilsen was responding to a question about Widerøe's 25 Bombardier Dash 8 Q100s and Q200s – small turboprops with 39 seats that the airline mostly deploys on Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes within Norway...

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Gulf Air tries to reclaim its crown


Full article on economist.com

With their geographical advantage for connecting flights between far-flung places, there is plenty to keep the airlines of the Gulf countries busy. Yet Bahrain’s skies are nearly empty compared with its neighbours. About 9m passengers used its airport last year, far fewer than the 88m for Dubai, 37m for Qatar and 26m for Abu Dhabi. The difference is striking given that Gulf Air, Bahrain’s flag carrier, was for decades the most prestigious airline in the Middle East. In its heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s, none of its three neighbours even had national airlines...

Friday, 6 April 2018

Estonia's Nordica plans new EU bases as export model takes off


Full article on forbes.com

Estonian airline Nordica is talking to about ten potential customers for its contract flying services and could open up to three new bases in the coming winter season, chief executive Jaan Tamm has told me.

The Baltic flag-carrier supplements its scheduled network out of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, with various kinds of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) contracts for foreign customers. Nearly two-thirds of the flights conducted by Regional Jet, its operating subsidiary, are flown under these export arrangements...

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Interview: Bakhouche Alleche, Air Algerie CEO


Full article in PDF format

Algeria’s Transport Ministry denied rumours that Air Algérie is heading for bankruptcy in January, insisting that the flag-carrier enjoys the full support of the government despite its “difficult financial situation”.

The intervention followed a series of walkouts by employees, who are angry at new chief executive Bakhouche Alleche for freezing planned wage increases. Those pay-hikes had reportedly been agreed by Mohamed Bouderbala, Air Algérie’s previous boss, but were axed as part of a newly launched turnaround plan.

Speaking to African Aerospace shortly before the strikes, the airline’s top management insisted that boosting on-time-performance (OTP) should be a higher priority than lifting an already burdensome wage bill...

Friday, 23 March 2018

Why posting a 'very large loss' is a good sign for Qatar Airways


Full article on forbes.com

Never one to mince his words, Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, has been more than candid about the “very large loss” that he expects his company to announce for the 2017-18 financial year. Qatar’s flag-carrier agreed in January to start putting detailed financial statements in the public domain – a move designed to ease concerns about unfair state support and minimize the likelihood of America curbing its access to the U.S. market.

The expected loss will mark a dramatic reversal of recent claims of profitability. For 2016-17, Qatar Airways had announced net profits of 1.97 billion Qatari riyals ($541m) in filings audited by Ernst & Young’s local branch in Qatar. The previous year’s audited report put its takings at 1.62 billion riyals, while an informal figure of $103 million was given by Al Baker for 2014-15.

As I wrote previously in relation to Etihad Airways – another state-owned Gulf carrier with delusions of profitability – such claims are misleading and should not have been repeated by media outlets without strong disclaimers...

Ukraine convinces Ryanair to return


Full article on economist.com

Almost one year ago to the day, Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, announced plans to begin serving Ukraine, its largest country. Ukraine had been a glaring white spot in the airline’s route network, deliberately avoided because of the anti-competitive advantages afforded to Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), the flag-carrier. A new infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, brokered the deal between Ryanair and Boryspil Airport, the capital’s main gateway and home base of UIA. But it collapsed within months. Now, Ryanair, the government and the airport are trying again...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Come fly with Xi


Full article on economist.com

In ancient times, traders on the Silk Road connecting China with Europe rarely ventured into the northern Caucasus region that is now home to Georgia. Diverting from established routes through Armenia and Anatolia to the south served little purpose unless conflict made the trackways impassable. Today, advances in transport and logistics mean that geography is less of a hurdle for traders. But friendly relations are just as important. Having signed free trade agreements with China and the European Union, Georgia is keen to pitch itself as a trade-and-transport hub for President Xi Jinping of China’s One Belt One Road initiative...