Monday, January 3, 2022

Royal Jordanian at Fifty Eight

 If there is one word to describe Royal Jordanian, it would be "resilient". Since its inception in 1963, the airline has weathered multiple conflicts, geopolitical upheavals and still managed to survive and thrive. 

An air of optimism was displayed by the CEO Mr. Samer Majali on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of Royal Jordanian as he announced a new slogan for 2022 "Ahead Together", the expansion of the network from 35 to 60 destinations and the fleet from 24 to 41 aircraft over the coming 5 years. 

This has brought fond memories. The airline was, for me and I am sure for so many others, the place where we learnt many lessons. Where we experienced successes and failures and where we were allowed to grow and innovate. I remember the introduction of the A310 fleet in less than a year from contract signature to first delivery in March 1987. Or going from a single narrow body hangar in Amman International Airport (Marka) to a three (3) widebody bays hangar in Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) which allowed for the expansion of maintenance capability from narrow body C Checks to Heavy Maintenance (D Checks) of the B707, B727, L1011 and later fleets.

The airline has suffered during the pandemic due to lockdowns and airport closures with minimal operations. But more importantly the lack of government support to the local airlines in Jordan. Incentive packages were provided to foreign LCCs (Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air) to operate flights to Jordan but denied to local carriers. 

Royal Jordanian as always will bounce back and thrive and will continue to be a Jordanian success story.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

To Ban Or Not To Ban, That Is The Question

As the new Corona Virus Variant "OMICRON" (O) starts spreading, countries have already started banning flights and entry from countries where the variant has been detected. Eventually, lockdowns and multi colored lists will be imposed; just as it was with the Delta Variant. 

This brings to mind some memorable quotes:

1. "Those wo do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it; and

2. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different  results"

I am all for public health and I am not being callous. Technically the only things we have to fight and mitigate the effects of any Corona Variant are (and not in any special order of importance);
1. Common Sense
3. Physical Distancing;
4. Vaccination; 
5. Testing;  
6. Quarantines and the ultimate;
7. Lockdowns.

I understand there are people in this world that think that the above measures infringe on their personal rights. I am not here to argue the moral position or how this affects society overall. I think, with almost 2 years down the path of this pandemic, it is moot.

Governments have mandated most of these measures for international air travel to mitigate the Delta variant and they appear to work, so why impose country bans and eventual lockdowns. We have all seen and experienced the effects of lockdowns on people and economies; utter devastation. The global effect is great; just look at what happened to the markets on Friday 26 November 2021 when OMICRON hit the news. The markets indices went down almost 2.5% in one day and no one knows what this coming week will bring.

The effects on mental health and the global economy are incalculable. There is a need to think smart and build on what works and what is best for everyone. Travel restrictions are not helpful and to a certain extent did not prevent the spread of the Delta variant. It just devastated local economies,  the travel and tourism industries and sectors associated with them.

At the end, this is a risk assessment and the tendency is for governments to err on the side of caution; especially when it comes to lives and livelihoods. There should be a balance between lives (every life is precious) and livelihoods. 

Governments should enforce that airports and airlines tighten measures regarding PCR testing and masking on the ground and in the air to ensure that the least number of COVID-19 positive passengers travel internationally.

Eventually, Omicron will pass and hopefully with the least amount of global disruption.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Dubai Airshow, My Take.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this year's Dubai Airshow. Instead, I followed it on social media. 

Mega deals were signed and several aircraft types were launched during the successive Dubai Airshows over time since its inception as Arab Air in 1986. For me it is not these deals or types that make DAS iconic. After all, these could have been announced and launched any time. What makes it iconic is that it came at the cross roads of the international air transport industry when it was at its lowest. 

We all remember the 2001 airshow that came just 6 weeks after 9/11. The industry was at its lowest point ever, utter devastation. Airlines were grounded, aircraft orders were being cancelled and aircraft deliveries were being deferred, with no end in sight. During that airshow, a record order of USD 15 billions was made by Emirates (22 A380s, 3 A330-200s, 8 A340-600s and 25 B777-200/300s) and signed a partnership with CAE for the training center which is now known as Emirates CAE Flight Training (ECFT) that buoyed the industry and signaled that we will prevail and come back. Eventually, the international air transport came back to profitability; it was a long and arduous path. 

Fast forward two decades almost to the day to 2021, Dubai Airshow is the first airshow open to the industry and public post the COVID-19 pandemic. The international air transport industry literally came to a standstill, with global lockdowns and confusing multi color lists of country restrictions. The Dubai airshow provided the venue for the industry to come back together, face to face. I am not belittling the importance of the commercial deals, but it was not about the orders and the agreements. It was about the social and physical interaction of friends, colleagues and professionals doing business; the old fashioned way. 

So, thank you Dubai for providing these venues that showcase the best of us and the resilience of  aviation.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Airlines Manpower Shortages Revisited

Ever since the airline industry started the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the news were full of flight cancellations, primarily due to the shortage of crew especially in the USA. The crew manpower shortage is an old issue. It started around 2011. This issue was discussed on this blog in June 2011 The New Challenges ... Manpower and Training and in September 2014 The Pilot Shortage Myth, Maybe Not

In 2014 the pilot shortage was viewed by ALPA at the time as a "Pay Shortage" and not an actual manpower shortage. The thinking, at the time, was that the industry will suffer in 10 to 15 years of a flight crew and technician shortage in the hundred thousands based on airline expansion plans. 

Fast forward to 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic with strict global lockdowns and massive disruptions to life as we knew it. Airlines furloughed, laid off staff and parked or returned aircraft to reduce losses.  As the world learned to cope with the pandemic and airline operations started again airlines faced two issues:   

  1. Get aircraft operational (out of parking or storage); and
  2. Get staff (crews, technicians and ground) back to man the operation. 
During the Dubai Air Show we all felt the energy of the industry coming back together and looking optimistically to the future; to the much coveted expansion and well being. To achieve this, airlines 
will need to expand and will probably start feeling the pain of flight crew and technician shortages across the globe around 2025 onwards. Training initiatives and programs need to be launched to encourage younger generations to engage with aviation.

Basically, we are back to where we were in 2014. 
It is a reset, hopefully we all have learned the lesson and will work diligently to avert it.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Emergency Response Program Activation Evolution

 This first appeared on GoCrisis ( Insights page (

For a long time, an Emergency Response Program (ERP) was prepared to handle an aircraft accident and/or incident. If you were a progressive operator, you would have included major flight disruptions at your main base(s) due to airport closures mainly for weather conditions or runway closures. 

ERP activation has evolved as threats to aviation have evolved with pandemics, terrorism, security, and health threats becoming prominent events. The mandating of Safety Management System (SMS) has introduced systematic Risk Management processes and placed emphasis on Emergency Response. 

Smaller general aviation operators, operating internationally, carrying high net worth clients to smaller airports with little support on an unscheduled basis face a myriad of challenges. Their Emergency Response Program activation must consider all the evolving threats. Family Assistance had to be developed to go beyond passengers and their families to include incidents and threats to personnel and property such as sabotage, bomb, and biological threats, communicable diseases along with pandemics.

This is further complicated if you happen to operate in conflict zones. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had to deal with Ebola, SARS, Avian (bird) Flu (H1N5), MERS, and Swine Flu (H1N1). In addition, operating to certain regions of the world where communicable diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Zika fever among a longer list of diseases. This has added a new category of inflight incidents dealing with the outbreak of communicable diseases.

 The Emergency Response plan needs to have an emphasis on Media Response and Business Continuity.

A small operator with a limited number of clients cannot afford bad publicity. Consequently, Media Response becomes a very important part of ERP if the company is to survive. It is imperative to convey the right message to the clients, brokers, and service providers. Tell the story of how robust your response was. 

Similarly, Business Continuity is another important aspect of the Emergency Response when your offices are compromised for any reason and must be vacated. The COVID-19 imposed lockdown is a prime example. The ability to operate remotely, whether from home or alternative locations becomes fundamental to the survival of the organization.

Operators need to monitor the evolving threat environment and constantly update their ERP activation issues.


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