Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 A Year of Transformation In KSA

As 2012 winds down, good news from the region continue, with Etihad passing the ten (10) Millions passengers carried mark.

However, the most exciting news are GACA in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) awarding two (2) operating licenses not one (1) to Gulf Air and Qatar Airways.

KSA is the biggest market in the region with a population of 28 millions and 27 airports and boasts the largest domestic market in the region. The operating license will authorize both domestic and international destinations. Recently, GACA also looked at fuel prices and it is expected that airlines will be allowed to raise fares by 10%.

The market is currently dominated by Saudia (government owned) and NAS AIR a low cost carrier. The government wants to privatize Saudia and has been selling parts of some of the airline divisions like Cargo and Catering.

2013 should see the transformation of the aviation market in KSA with the entry of Qatar Airways and Gulf Air, both with extensive networks, very competitive, with immense resources and very experienced. Both Saudia and NAS AIR will face competitive pressures in terms of levels of services, passenger feeds and pricing. Competition will not be only on the domestic routes but will spill over into international markets as the new entrants are awarded international routes from their KSA hubs and they integrate their KSA networks with their own, providing massive passenger feeds in both directions.

A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones,"live long and prosper".

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Middle East Business Aviation

Business Aviation in MENA is starting to pick up, the sector was adversely affected by the financial crisis in 2009. According to the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) the sector is worth one Billion USD annually and expanding. As a precursor to any further discussions, a look at the regulatory environment in MENA is required in order to understand the challenges and problems facing the sector.

Most of the countries in MENA with the exception of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), have adopted the EASA EU-OPS as the basis of their regulations. GACA in KSA have the FAA regulations as the basis of theirs.

The FAA has developed different regulations to cater for different sectors of the industry Part 91 (General operating and flying rules), Part 125 (Operations of large aircraft greater than 20 passengers or 6000 lbs payload when common carriage is not involved), Part 135 (Regional and Commuter airlines) and Part 121 (Air carriers). Commercial operations are authorized through an AOC under Parts 121 and 135. Private operation is authorized under Parts 91 and 125, however Part 91 has provisions for operations allowing a certain amount of charges to be collected and to allow Netjets and time sharing. The definition of private carriage and common carriage is defined in FAA AC120-12A. Private carriage operator do not  have to adhere to the same strict operating rules that are mandated in Parts 121 and 135.

EASA on the other hand has EU-OPS1 that is the equivalent to FAR Part 121 and 135. Except for a few provisions that are related to the number of passengers carried on board or the aircraft maximum take off weights all "common carriage" operators require an AOC and have to adhere to strict rules. In essence a corporate jet operator engaged in "common carriage" operates to the same rules as a legacy or a low cost carrier.

These differences in regulatory regimes have posed challenges for Business Aviation of commercial and safety implications, subjects that will be addressed later.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 Round The Corner

Having survived the Mayan Apocalypse and we are assured of a 2013, it is a good time to look
at what is happening in the MENA region now and what will shape events in 2013.

1. Australian Regulators tentatively approved the Emirates/Qantas agreement to relocate the Qantas
    Singapore hub to Dubai and code share.

2. Etihad is rumored to be looking at purchasing 49% of Kingfisher or maybe 24% of Jet Airways, either
    way it is looking for big time expansion in India.

3. Qatar Airways joined Oneworld and started operating the B787.

4. Saudi Arabia's GACA postponed the third airline license until 2013. However, it is reported that domestic
    fares will rise by 10% in 2013. This has been a sticking point with the new entrants.

5. The CEO of Gulf Air will be leaving by the end of the month and the Deputy CEO has been appointed
    acting CEO, until such time the Board decides on a permanent replacement. He is expected to be a
    Bahrain national. The last Gulf Air PCE from Bahrain was Mr. Ibrahim Al Hamar now Managing Director
    of Bahrain Air who was replaced by James Hogan. The airline scaled down their B787 and converted the
    A330 orders into A320s.

6. Iraqi Airways took delivery of its first A330-200 and B737-800. Now that the dispute with Kuwait
    Airways over damages resulting from the first Gulf War in 1990 has been settled, Iraqi Airways is
    expected to expand.

7. The privatisation of Kuwait Airways has been launched with the formation of a company to manage the
    airlines fleet renewal and staff issues. Certainly, the resolution of the dispute with Iraq will help matters
    specially that the airline will get half of the award as a cash infusion ($250 millions).

8. Royal Jordanian is counting down towards its 50th anniversary and took delivery of the last A320 in its
    fleet renewal plan.

Of course there are many many other exciting stories about the airlines of the region that will certainly unfold in 2013.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

ETIHAD And India

Stories ( click here for story ) are circulating that Etihad is eyeing a 24% stake in Jet Airways worth Four hundred (400) millions USD. This will mark the first FDI in Indian Aviation in a long time, even though it is well below the allowed 49% by the latest government FDI rules. Etihad signed a code share agreement in 2008 with Jet Airways and is listed as an Etihad Partner on Etihad's website

Jet Airways is a candidate to join Star Alliance along with Air India. It is to be noted that Air India was refused entry for not meeting Star Alliance requirements. ( click here for story ). This will give Etihad a  linkup with all three major alliances; Airberlin in Oneworld, Jet Airways in Star Alliance and the share code agreement with AF-KLM in Skyteam, without actually joining any of them.

Another first for Etihad.....Kudos

Friday, November 23, 2012


Every journey must come to an end and every end marks a new beginning. In May 1996, this journey began when I joined GAMCO as the Manager of Quality Assurance after eighteen years with Royal Jordanian. Amman was home and will always be.

Sixteen and half years and three jobs later it is about to end. I was forty when I came to the UAE, I used to joke and say; life starts at forty. Life in the Emirates had its ups and downs, but it was fun. Abu Dhabi is a great place to raise kids. The UAE became another place we call home.

Now, it is about to end and a new beginning at a place we learned to also call home, Sterling Heights, Michigan. As of mid January 2013 I will relocate and the chances are I will be on my own, a daunting thought. Scared, damn right but more importantly very excited. Aviation, is a tough business, now more than ever but every challenge is an opportunity.

I want to take this opportunity, regardless of what I am doing, I plan to mentor young men and women who made or want to make aviation their career, maybe teach. Help them rediscover the spirit that my generation had when we were young. The drive and passion that we had for an industry that is now reduced to numbers and shareholders equity. Somewhere along the way we all forgot that there are stakeholders other than shareholders who are as important if not more important.

We all forgot that aviation is about people, people who fly, maintain, build aircraft and all those who make it happen. It is about people who dare to dream and live the dream. It is about people who fly to their dream vacations or to conclude the business deal of their life; to people flying to new beginnings, challenges and opportunities.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are We Just Ticking Off Boxes

On Sunday, 11 November 2012, an Emirates A380 EK413 bound to Dubai experienced an inflight engine failure after take off and had to return to Sydney. Engine failures happen, what is interesting was what the passengers said about the cabin crew's reaction, they "panicked more than the passengers" (Click here for full story). Similarly I witnessed "Almost An Emergency" in March 2011 on board a BA flight, the cabin crews reaction was not very comforting. I know, two events hardly make a trend, but we have seen crews stressed to the point of a melt down.

Aircraft are getting bigger and more technologically sophisticated, passengers are so connected they are reluctant to switch off their mobiles and the responsibilities of cabin crew increased to include more security procedures.  Keeping all this in mind, are we training cabin crews effectively or are we just ticking off boxes? to get on with it.

More importantly, how are we qualifying the Senior Cabin Crews, the Cabin Directors or Pursers. These are senior staff that have to manage teams of around 18 cabin crews give or take a few on ultra range flights of 14+ hours.  Are they being trained to effectively manage a large team dealing with 300 to 500 passengers over a long period of time with minimal involvement from the flight crew, especially post 9/11, in a technologically sophisticated environment. Have curricula and training techniques evolved sufficiently to provide the Seniors with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage emergencies and their staff in emergencies.

Personally, I am not so sure that enough attention is paid to skills like conflict resolution, management of large teams and time management when it comes to Senior Cabin Crew training. Airline management still do not fully understand the role or the complexity of the jobs that are performed by cabin crew.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Iraqi Airways .... New Beginings

Finally, Iraq received Kuwait's ratification of the Iraqi airline dispute settlements; five hundred million US dollars to be paid by mid 2013 (click here for full story). This will set the stage of a comeback of Iraqi Airways. The airline stopped operating in 1990 at the time of the first Gulf war. After the second Gulf war in 2003, Iraqi Airways relaunched and used several wet leases to operate on its behalf but was hampered by the law suits filed by Kuwait Airways in the UK.

Iraqi airways founded in 1945 is one of the oldest airlines of the region. It was never one of the most efficient or ambitious airlines. It was the essence of a government owned airline, there to show the flag. The airline had extensive maintenance facilities to support its B727, B737 and B747 fleet, but contracted out most of its maintenance.

In May 2008 an order for 30 B737s and 10 B787s, with an option for another 15, for deliveries starting in 2013 through 2019 was announced. The deal was to include leased aircraft to commence operations but nothing materialised due to the dispute with Kuwait Airways.

The aviation infrastructure has deteriorated since the 1990, and the government has embarked on a program to rehabilitate the existing airports to accommodate international airlines providing services to Iraq .

Iraq has lost its pool of trained aviation professionals who after 1990, left the country to work elsewhere or just changed careers.

The new Iraqi Airways has a daunting task ahead of it. It has very competitive regional airlines in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. It also has no access to local trained staff; this will require a reliance on an expatriate workforce until such time Iraqi nationals are trained to take over.

Iraqi Airways has not announced any plans for the near future. Needless to say, it will rise again. Iraq is a an oil rich large country with a relatively large population (31 million) that can support domestic operations and a fast growing economy with a large expatriate and immigrant population that will require extensive international flights to support it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kuwait Airways On The Right Track

Last week a decree was issued creating Kuwait Airways Company a shareholding company that will take over Kuwait Airways Corporation. The company is tasked with privatizing the airline after restructuring it.
The board has a three year term and will be chaired by the Minister of Communication who will also name the board members.

The Ministry of Finance is tasked to covering the losses incurred by Kuwait Airways Corporation and to provide end of service benefits to any employee who wishes to leave the company.

The decree goes a long way towards addressing issues that delayed earlier privatization efforts.

This is similar to the Royal Jordanian privatization methodology except Royal Jordanian had a financial dimension to resolve; that was addressed by the sale of non core functions. Kuwait Airways has a staff issue.
The Workers Union has been accusing management of not safeguarding workers right. These are issues that can be resolved. Gulf Air came to an agreement with its labor union over employee layoffs.

This is not an easy task, Royal Jordanian's privatization took almost two decades to happen for several reasons mainly geopolitical and financial.

It is a step in the right direction and shows a government resolve to tackle the issue in a structured and realistic manner.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gulf Air At A Crossroads

Earlier this month the Government of Bahrain announced a 185 millions BD (490 millions USD) injection into Gulf Air. Any fund allocations by the airline have to be approved by the government prior to disbursement. Earlier in May the parliament rejected a 664 millions BD (1.76 billions USD) financial package for Gulf Air.

Gulf Air has been affected by political instability in the country for almost the last two years and the suspension of flights to Lebanon, Iraq and Iran in March 2011 which are among the most popular and profitable. Beirut has been reinstated since June 2012 and Iraq flights resumed in September/October 2012 while flights to Iran planned for October had to be suspended indefinitely due to the lack of clearances from the Iran government. The Arab Spring contributed to a reduction of air travel to Egypt and Syria and other countries. Rising fuel prices added to the financial pressures.

The proposed bailout will come with a deep restructuring and downsizing of the airline, but that is nothing new and a few years back such plans were opposed by the labor unions.
In 2009 the Trade Union opposed a 272 reduction of Bahraini staff until an agreement was reached. However, the current plan calls for halving the workforce from 3800 to 1800 and the fleet from 39 to 20 aircraft. Amid the uncertainty, staff are leaving to other airlines in the region. The Trade Union affirmed in a statement prior to Eid Al Adha that no restructuring of the workforce or fleet should affect the staff employment interests and rights (Click for more). This is not a numbers game, if the airline fails to retain qualified staff, it will be very hard to operate efficiently and productively to effect a change.

Similarly in 2009, the new CEO declared that Gulf Air will not compete with the Global airlines of the region and it will concentrate on the region, Europe, Africa and Asia. Now the airline may have to reduce its flights to Europe to only two destinations London and Paris, curtail its expansion into Africa and concentrate more on MENA and India. It already has a code share with Royal Jordanian, whereas all flights between Amman and Bahrain are operated by Gulf Air and of course Gulf Air is a contender for the third Air Operator Licence in Saudi Arabia. A license, if awarded to Gulf Air may ease its fleet downsizing by diverting some aircraft to the new airline.

Senior management in Gulf Air understand that bail outs are not sustainable and restructuring is a necessity, however there maybe a lack of understanding among politicians of the social, political and economical impact of this restructuring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Air Rail Alliances

Royal Jordanian signed a code share agreement with Via Rail Canada providing passengers with a rail link beyond Montreal to Toronto and Ottawa, the first code share for Via Rail. Tickets can be purchased from RJ's website, offices or travel agents. Via Rail offers wi-fi and meals onboard (within the fare if travelling business while snacks and drinks are sold in economy). I have travelled on via-rail several times and it is a nice experience that allows one to see the countryside up close. 

Exciting, but Air Rail link ups are nothing new and are common with Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, SBB and a few others. 

They go under different programs mainly (for more details click here):
"Dedicated Services" similar to Code Sharing covering certain destinations;
"Entire Network Access" which is service that includes the entire train network. Deutsche Bahn offers this from 16 German airports to almost every carrier that flies into Germany with 10 carriers having Rail & Fly on their website;
"Night & Fly" which is an agreement between Swiss International Airlines and City Night Line providing overnight trips to 10 cities in Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany; and finally
"Airline-Rail Re-protection" agreements which provide train travel in cases of flight cancellations, Via Rail and Air Canada and between Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa and Airberlin which came in handy during the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Left Out.....

The last few months and certainly weeks have seen mega activities by the Global Airlines of the Gulf.
It seems the critics and adversaries of yesterday are the partners of today. A fact all airlines should heed.

It is official and in spite of Mr. Al Baker's earlier denials, Qatar Airways is joining Oneworld. Qatar Airways is a massive addition to the Oneworld network, considering that the airline has massive aircraft orders which usually translate into additional destinations.

Etihad has just signed with Air France - KLM a code share agreement. Airberlin also signed a similar  code share arrangement. There is also discussions about joint procurement and closer cooperation. 
Etihad seems to be working equally comfortably with both Oneworld and SKYTEAM alliances.

Emirates and Qantas, a Oneworld member, signed a code share agreement that has Qantas shifting its Singapore base to Dubai and terminating a long term agreement with BA its Oneworld partner.

Currently Qatar Airways has several code share agreements with Star Alliance airlines (Lufthansa, United and ANA among others), but nothing on the scale seen above (equity stakes, alliance joining and long term agreements).

Is Star Alliance (the largest of the three in terms of member airlines) being left out by design or just a coincidence? Only time will tell...

Friday, September 28, 2012

All Happening in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates Aviation sector is by far the most dynamic and vibrant in the region both the GCC and the wider MENA. No day passes without an amazing activity.

Emirates Airlines is the most valuable airline brand in the world for 2012, ahead of Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa at USD 3.7 Billions. The airlines continues as the role model and bench mark for its regional competitors. The airline signed a 10 years code share agreement with Qantas, an agreement that has far reaching implications in Asia and to oneworld.

In Seattle, Tim Clark said that Emirates will buy another 40 A380s to bring the total to 130 aircraft. One problem is space at Dubai Airport. The airline will become the largest airbus customer. On the same note Emirates started its A380 service to Melbourne this Thursday, 27 September 2012. He also told Boeing that the first B777-300ER will be retired by 2017 and the airline would like to replace the fleet with a new updated B777. It was a good time to start "bellyaching" to get a new jet started.

On the domestic front, Rotana Jet started its double daily flight to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi Thursday,
27 September 2012, bringing its domestic network to four (4) destinations. Ten (10) days after the inauguration of its daily flight to Fujairah. Rotana Jet is planning flights to Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ruwais.

Air Arabia will fly to Erbil on 14 October, its second Iraq destination. Not to be outdone Flydubai is launching new destinations to Bucharest on 1 October 2012 and Skopje from 18 October 2012.

Etihad Airways announced an increase to daily flights to Istanbul starting 1 January 2013. Two (2) weeks ago Etihad CEO led a team of Etihad Airways and airberlin executives to Boeing to look over the B787.
Both carriers are integrating their B787 programs and streamlining their infrastructure and purchasing activities. Etihad has forty one (41) and airberlin fifteen (15) B787s on order. Etihad has nine (9) B777s
to be delivered in the coming fifteen months.

To top it all the GCAA announced that August 2012 had almost sixty (60) thousands air traffic movements
a 6.9% increase over 2011.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


ROTANA JET flew its first commercial domestic flight on 6 June 2012 from Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen Executive Airport to Sir Bani Yas, an island resort since then Dalma Island was added.

As of 19 September 2012 ROTANA JET will operate double daily flights to Fujairah from Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal 2 followed but another double daily flights to Al Ain starting
26 September 2012. These will be followed by double daily flights to Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.
The plan is to go to three daily flights at a later stage. Flights to Dubai are under consideration. Ticket prices will start from one hundred and fifty (150) to Al Ain and from two hundred (200) Dirhams to the other destinations, way less than a taxi fare. ROTANA JET will be competing with the buses and the taxis. 

Being domestic flights, there will be no immigration and customs formalities, and passengers should be able to check in and board the aircraft in a short time. 

ROTANA JET operates two (2) EMBRAER ERJ145 carrying fifty (50) passengers. There will be a beverage service offered due to the short flight times. There are plans to add a third aircraft next month and a fourth by the end of the year. The plan is for twelve (12) new leased aircraft In the course of next year. There is demand and load factors are expected at 60% to 70% going up to 80% later.

Just like when low cost airlines started people were skeptical, so is the case with domestic air travel in a relatively small country. This can work and will probably work and as time goes on people will get used to the idea of flying to Abu Dhabi or Fujairah for a day of business or pleasure.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Emirates and Qantas .... The World Has Changed

The suspense and speculation are over, Emirates and Qantas announced their anticipated code share agreement. An agreement that made Dubai the European hub for Qantas as of April 2013, replacing Singapore and Hong 

As a result Qantas terminated a seventeen years agreement with Oneworld partner BA on the London route and code share agreement with Air France and Cathay

So what does Qantas get in return, a Dubai hub that connects to thirty three (33) European and eighteen (18) African cities in addition to the Levant and GCC. Emirates gets access to the Australian market, providing passenger feed to its expanding network and a daily A380 flight to Christchurch from Sydney. It also offsets the advantage that Etihad has with its Virgin Australia tie up.

However, the real winner in this deal is Dubai. A Qantas hub reinforces Dubai's position as a global aviation hub and destination.

Friday, August 31, 2012

MENA Airlines... Are Things Looking Up?

Notwithstanding, the violence in Syria and the potential political and security fallout into neighboring countries,  Europe in a near meltdown, The BRIC economies slowing down and the USA in a slow recovery, 2012 has been a year of recovery for the MENA airlines. 

H1 results for the region's airlines and airports have been on the whole positive with double digit growth. The disruptive effects of the Arab Spring have somewhat subsided at the same time as fuel prices went down.

Tourist and business flow into the region and within the region is on the increase.

Passenger traffic increased in 2012 H1 is as follows:
Dubai 14 %, Abu Dhabi 22.8 %, Ras Al Khaimah 67%, Amman 18.4%, Bahrain 13%, Beirut 8.88% , Doha 22%, Muscat 20%, Cairo traffic is back at pre 2011 figures and Dammam 16.2%. 

The airlines drove that traffic with higher passenger loads and improved revenues. Passenger loads for H1 of 2012 were as follows:
Air Arabia 11%, Etihad 27%, Gulf Air 13%, Royal Jordanian 26% (Q1), Oman Air 19%,

IATA in its July 2012 Global Traffic Results showed the Middle East carriers posting an 11.2% increase year on year against a 6.5% global growth (read more)

The airlines followed the well tested and proven policy, the balanced approach of expansion and improved efficiencies and productivity (aka cost cutting)

Airlines expanded their code sharing activities;  GF and RJ on Amman - Bahrain and points beyond, RJ and UL on Amman - Colombo and points beyond. Of course, new routes were announced and frequencies increased.

Etihad continued its policy of expansion through acquisition by increasing its share in Virgin Australia to 10% and a small stake in Aer Lingus (3%) and code share agreements. Even, Emirates is reported in code share discussions with Qantas.

Air Arabia has signed an agreement with Oman Tourist Authority to promote Salalah, RAK Airways signed an agreement for 7000 tourists between. Moscow and Ras Al Khaimah.

In the meantime, the airlines continued taking delivery of aircraft driving the fleet age down and improving fuel efficiencies.

All this might sound a tad boring and repetitious, never mind all that, success and recovery are always amazing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IFE on a Tablet.

The Boeing B767, the venerable workhorse of the North Atlantic in the 1990s is still alive and kicking. As usual, I only noticed the aircraft type after I booked the flight. I got used to AA operating B777 from London to Chicago and back. The last time I flew in one was probably in 2003 going to Colombo from Abu Dhabi with Gulf Air.  

I am not a movie goer, so the only time I get to watch the latest releases is when I am on an 8 hours or more  flight.  I happen to like AA, their food is good and plenty, at least in Business, their oldish airplanes are usually presentable and the crew are helpful and smiling, yes smiling in spite of all the problems with Chapter 11.

However, their IFE at best ranks way down when compared with Emirates, Etihad and    yes, even BA.  I am aware that their new aircraft will have improved IFE and WI-FI, but then this is for a different time.

The B767 has the old IFE, with overhead screens and a preset program. 
Well, not in Business, AA offers a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which actually has a better movie selection than their regular AVOD.

The tablet provides a better visual and audio experience than most installed systems. The screen is larger than most and being portable is great, totally flexible on where to place it.  It is easier to navigate and the touch screen is simply excellent.

Offering IFE on a tablet is probably a very cost effective solution when one considers the cost of an aircraft retrofit which could run in the millions of US Dollars. It is also easier to manage when IFE joins the list of ancillary fees.

In any case I found it enjoyable and much better than the unseat system.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kuwait Airways, Privatization At Last ........ Maybe

Since the A300-600 diversion to Meddinah on July 4th due to the loss of cabin pressure due to an engine malfunction and things were deteriorating. The government forced the airline to ground three (3) of the five (5) A300-600 for Inspection. An outcry about how unsafe the ageing fleet is has prompted an attorney to file  a lawsuit on July 9th to ground all flights and appoint a team of experts to examine the fleet (Click for full story). Of course, a well maintained ageing fleet is not necessarily unsafe or unworthy it is just more expensive. Several airlines operate older aircraft with no problems.

Kuwait Airways today, 12th of August 2012 accused the Parliament of obstructing all attempts of fleet renewal in 2005 and 2007 (Click for full story)

The Kuwaiti Cabinet is expected to issue a decree, after the Holy Month of Ramadan, to privatise the airline by transferring it to a company under the Public Authority For Investment and the formation of a new board.  The airline is expected to lease a few aircraft in the interim (Click for full story) to alleviate its safety issues.

The issue of workers rights has been and still is a sticking point, the Workers Union has been accusing management of not safeguarding workers rights (Click for full story).

Kuwait Airways is facing very tough times, and the government may decide to assume all the airline's debt in order to lure investors. However, issues of fleet renewal and workers rights under the new company need to be resolved and that is no easy task.

The coming few weeks should be very exciting and eventful.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It All Started With A Scarf

Airline mergers are not about airline assets, routes, aircraft and business cases, they are about people from different cultures trying to cope and this can be traumatic. To date US Airways did not integrate the flying staff or aircraft since the 2004/2005 merger of US Airways and America West.

The Sister and Brotherhood of  the Traveling Scarves and Ties, sounds like something out of The Lord of The Rings. Well it isn't, it is probably the only grass root, social media driven attempt at integrating two workforces in a post merger environment. This was never a scientific experiment just an FA reaching out to her colleagues.

Kathe Hull a UA FA had the idea to bring the FAs of the merged UA and CO together, after all the merger is there to stay.

“We are sharing bases and so many other things, yet we know so little about each other. I thought this might be a fun way to break the ice,” said JFK-based Flight Attendant Kathe Hull. Inspired by the book and movie "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” she came up with the idea of exchanging scarves and ties, along with a few kind words, among flight attendants.

Well, so it started aided by THE FLYING PINTO , Sara Pinto Keagle. Sara a Continental FA, is no stranger to social media, in addition to her blog she started with others The Crew Lounge which provided a unique insight into an FA life and career reaching out to FAs as far afield as Dubai.

Well, it seems to work, it has spread throughout the airline network and one look at the page shows the enthusiasm, energy of the FAs and the buzz this has created.

The idea has the blessings and backing of Senior Management and the iconic Gordon Bethune

Gordon Bethune
Great positive initiave to make working together a good place to work and a sucessful place in the market. Good for you. i am proud of the people that will make this the best airline ever with this type of approach and attitude. gordon

the FAs at United has proven that when all is said and done it is all about people and how they relate to each other.

 It all started with a scarf, according to Kathe Hull 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bahrain, Merger In The Air

Speculations (read more here) about airline takeovers and mergers in Bahrain were plenty since the beginning of 2012. Things are beginning to take shape and move along. Last week the CEO of Gulf Air in a press conference said that Bahrain cannot afford two (2) airlines and that a merger is a possibility. Bahrain Air Managing Director said to Al Watan newspaper that Bahrain Air is seriously considering a merger with Gulf Air.

In the mean time Parliament has refused to allocate 646 million BD (1.7 billion USD) to Gulf air and are split between;
1- closing down the airline and starting a new one, or
2- subsidising it after restructuring it.
There is a great emphasis on the fact that Bahrain Nationals should take charge of the airline, in order to provide a long term stability at the top, and be responsible to the country for their actions.

Further, both airlines were among the finalists for the third operating airline license in Saudi Arabia (read more here). Bahrain Air will need to buy aircraft which they cannot afford if they are awarded the license while Gulf Air can move some of its fleet to Saudi Arabia to support its operation, if awarded the license.

No matter how one looks at it, things are coming to a head and pretty fast (as fast as things go in Bahrain). 

A merger is probably a reality, but
1- what would the merged airline be named, the Iconic Gulf Air or the nationalistic Bahrain Air;
2- would Bahrain Air Managing Director, Ibrahim Al Hamar be the new CEO of the merged airline (He was  
    Gulf Air's PCE for one year before James Hogan was brought in);
3- how would the government and parliament deal with such a merger in financial terms, Bahrain Air is far 
    too small to take over Gulf Air's massive debt.

Lots of questions, and as usual never a dull moment in MENA's airline scene.

Friday, August 3, 2012

First Responders

One thing all Cabin Attendants, Cabin Crew and/or Flight Attendants in the world share, is airline management and passengers lack of real understanding of their job functions.

The job has evolved during the years, and world events added to the workload. 9/11 brought additional security responsibilities and functions. Probably, technology is responsible for the greatest amount of aggravation in the cabin; our personal devotion and attachment to our personal mobiles and smart devices surpasses our care for our safety or the safety of others.

Cabin Attendants, Cabin Crew and/or Flight Attendants have functions that go beyond service, which everybody seems to think is "what it is all about". Certainly they are the face and the image of the airline.
Basically, they are your first responders, cable operator, meals on wheels and social services all bundled up in one. They are supposed to take care of all:
- medical emergencies,
- fires on board,
- unruly passengers and security issues,
- listen to incessant complaints and demands
- resolve all IFE and connectivity issues and
- deliver food and beverages.

All of the above with a smile.

A little appreciation will go a long way

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Emirates and Qantas

Speculations are over, the Chairman of Emirates Airlines HH Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al-Maktoom announced today that Emirates is in talks with Qantas for a code share agreement within six (6) months. There will be no revenue sharing and the aim is to get Qantas to fly through Dubai. (read full story here)

Qantas has been one of the more outspoken critics of Emirates and the way Emirates expand. Qantas had several problems starting with A380 problems and a two (2) days shutdown due to labour problems with its maintenance staff in addition to soaring fuel prices.

Etihad acquiring a stake (up to 10%) in Virgin Australia was not good news for either carrier. It provided Etihad with access to the Australian market. It was logical for Emirates and Qantas to code share; Emirates gets access as comparable to Etihad's and Qantas gets a boost to its international operations by tapping traffic feed from Dubai

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Third Operating License

GACA, having indicated that the third AOC in the Kingdom will be offered to a foreign operator from the GCC, has short listed seven (7) out of the fourteen (14) proposals it has received earlier.

The seven finalists are:
Qatar Airways, Falcon Express Cargo Airlines, Nesma Holding Co, and the following consortia Bahrain Air - Saudia Private Aviation,  IDB - AlMasria Universal Airlines, Gulf Air - Abdel Hadi Al-Qahtani and Sons Co,, Chinese HNA Group (Hainan Airlines) - Saudi Mazaya Al Shabab Co.

It is expected that the winner of the air carrier license will be announced in September or October 2012, with a target for starting operations in the first quarter of 2013.

So far GACA is meeting its planned milestones (give or take a few months) and it will be interesting to see how this will pan out. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Qantas, Hard Times Ahead

It all started when Etihad acquired a 4.99% stake in Virgin Australia. Etihad has petitioned and obtained approval, earlier in the week from the Foreign Investment Review Board to raise its holding to 10% in Virgin Australia. Etihad acted in a very transparent manner similar to its actions in regards to the investments in Airberlin, Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles.

Qantas hit back with accusations that Etihad is the plaything of oil rich Sheiks.

This is not the first time Qantas resorts to similar tactics, it has accused Emirates of being an unsafe airline after the March 2009 incident with an A340-500 aircraft that failed to climb properly due to erroneous performance data entered.

Qantas had its fair share of unsafe incidents with the A380; incidents not attributed to its own actions. The airline was shutdown last October 2011 over a dispute with the labor unions over jobs. The airline like the rest of the industry suffered from high fuel prices. It is expected that Qantas profits are down by 90%.

Qantas is not unlike the legacy airlines of developed countries, that consider the preservation of their home market share as a national priority and are willing to limit the tourist potential of the country to their capability. They fail to consider that competition that increases the market brings in revenues and creates jobs. Usually, more jobs in different sectors of the economy that far outweigh potential losses at the airline.

There are economic and political considerations that go beyond an airline. A prime example is the Canadian government that blindly backed Air Canada's position over traffic rights for Emirates and Etihad and now is working hard mending fences. Vancouver is still under served by Air Canada while Seattle reaps the benefits of Emirate's daily flights.

Qantas faces tough choices on how to deal with what it perceives as a major threat. There were earlier rumors that Emirates wants to cooperate with Qantas to further develop its Australia network. Of course, Qantas can always work closer with Oneworld partners to improve its position, but then that means expansion which seems to go against the grain with legacy carriers that believe in capacity control.

2012 is a tough year, it presents multiple challenges and risks but also great opportunities for the visionaries and the brave.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Farnborough Air Show 2012

Farnborough air show this year should be interesting. Air shows successes are measured by the amount of business conducted, usually indicated by the value of the aircraft orders announced. With Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, the traditional mega buyers, indicating there will be no aircraft orders announced this air show, one wonders at how successful this year's show will be.

The sentiment around the show is upbeat and optimistic, and I am sure there will be some NEO and MAX announcements and hopefully a few CS.

Boeing will be showcasing the Qatar Airways B787, readied ahead of time, an event that surely will please Mr. Albaker. Not to be outdone, Airbus threw in the A380 and the A400M for good measure. The weekend display will include a Battle of Britain Memorial and what appears to be the RAF's entire inventory of trainers and fighters.

Air shows should be fun events, business notwithstanding. So hopefully, English weather cooperating, this will turn out to be the most successfully FUN air show

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Emirates, so good for India

Last week Emirates was in the news as usual,

Emirates indicated that they have no problem in investing in an Indian carrier, even if it is failing, provided it can be turned around. However, Emirates wants management control of the carrier, a similar arrangement it had with Sri Lankan. This worked fine for both carriers. India is a different ball game, it is a larger market which already feeds into the Emirates network, serving the millions of NRIs all over the globe. A well managed airline will provide the travelling public with options and opportunities especially when tied up with Emirates. The only catch, the government has not defined the terms for the proposed Direct Foreign Investment. The arrangement that Emirates want will surely kill Air India, B787 fleet not withstanding, and render Emirates the national carrier of India.

Read more here

The other interesting story is; traveling with kids to India, Emirates tickets seem to be cheaper than budget (low cost) airlines. After counting all the fees (bags, food, seats, IFE and more) levied by LCCs, the ticket price is actually higher than that charged by Emirates.

Read more here

Friday, June 22, 2012

First Air Canada now Qantas.

It was Air Canada claiming that additional frequencies by Etihad and Emirates will cause the shedding of 10,000 jobs. Now it is Qantas complaining to the government that they will go under if Etihad is allowed to raise its stake from 3.96% to 10% in Virgin Australia. The reason is they might undercut Qantas by reducing domestic fares.

If Etihad and Virgin Australia wanted to reduce domestic fares they can do it anytime and without an equity stake. Qantas is complaining against "government owned" Etihad and Singapore, at least Emirates was spared this time.

Qantas suffered from rising fuel prices, labour strife that has grounded the airline for two days and of course A380 troubles. Qantas warned of a slump in profits. These problems are not the work of competitors. Still Qantas claims its international operations are suffering because they are being undercut by Singapore and Etihad.

The real issue for Qantas is for the government to remove the limit on foreign investment in the airline imposed under the Qantas Sale Act which dictates that the airline remains majority Australian owned.

It appears that legacy carriers find it easier to blame their problems on high visibility airlines like Etihad and Emirates than finding solutions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life without AVOD

Everyone in the industry is talking about connectivity during flight, and how on board Wi-Fi will change the travel experience by providing social media and online content at 41000 feet. Some suggested passengers using their smart phones and tablets for on board entertainment while the airline provides content.

Airlines advertise AVOD (Audio/Video On Demand) as part of their marketing. AVOD is not a perk it is a necessity when one is travelling on ultra range flights of up to 17 flight hours. With airlines like Emirates and Etihad among many others providing around 400 movies, several TV shows, a hundreds of audio selections and games with the ability to play with other passengers.

So far so good. Travelling back to Dubai from London Heathrow with BA on board what must have been one of their oldest B777; the aircraft looked and felt like it. The cabin was almost in tatters. The worst part was the In Flight Entertainment System.

BA has one of the better AVOD Programs for IFE, but not on this one. Twenty odd video channels and no audio, not too bad for a seven hours flight if one can overlook and tolerate waiting times for the movies to start.

The problem is passenger expectations, you pay for a ticket expecting AVOD and end up with a late 80s IFE System, a great downer. This a problem facing legacy carriers with aging fleets, greatly differing on board experiences for the same flight and cost.

As technology brings in more and more channels and content to IFE the divide between one aircraft and the other becomes intolerable something that needs to be addressed by the airlines.

Maybe I should be asking for a refund, Just Saying.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Impressions of a Chapter 11 Airline ..... AA

This is the first time I travel on long flights With AA since they went bankrupt under Chapter 11. I flew with American Eagle a few times since then. 
I had my doubts, I was not sure what to expect. 

I was pleasantly surprised, both sectors, one a morning flight the other a night flight, were enjoyable. The FAs were friendly and as usual professional. The flight deck announcements were longer, more informative and sounded friendlier. 

So what, one would say. 

Well, these are the ones that have thrown their lot with the US Airways merger bid. The pilots that have been negotiating a contract for the last few years with no resolution.  The fact that they are still delivering a great travel experience, shows their professionalism and their concern not only for the traveling public but towards AA. We have a saying in Arabic, one does not throw stones into the well, one drinks from. I suppose it holds true everywhere.

Personally, I do not think a merger with US Airways is a good thing. The flight and cabin crew from the last merger, seven years ago, have not been integrated as yet. This merger will make them three groups. The premise that US Airways crews will get similar pay as AA's who will not lose any and the new entity will still be competitive does not sound right. This is a bankruptcy and some pain and discomfort is bound to be felt by all stake holders. 

Three hundred thousand miles later, I grew to like AA. Their staff are usually helpful, smiling and always professional. I wish them all the best and hope AA emerges a better airline. 

I hate to be traveling with US Airways. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Etihad, The Pressure is On

In the news this week Etihad added half a million passengers to 2.4 million passengers an increase of 26% in Q1 2012, pushing revenues to US$ 989 a 28% increase making it the best Q1 ever (click here for details).

On the other hand Abu Dhabi hotels revenue rose by 1% and occupancy went down by 6% on the back of new properties coming on line. In absolute terms the number of guests increased by 17% over the same period in 2011 (click here for details).

The numbers are great in absolute terms, but they put pressure on the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Etihad to fill the additional capacity. Etihad needs to increase the percentage of passengers who have Abu Dhabi and the UAE as their final destination.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Today June 6 2012 witnessed the first regional flight from Abu Dhabi (Al Bateen) to Sir Bani Yas, an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, a resort and nature reserve. (full story here)

ROTANA JET (no connection to the hotel chain) is the first UAE regional jet operator. It will be operating two (2) EMBRAER EMB145 regional jets with a fifty (50) passengers capacity. The plan is to operate three(3) weekly flights to the island. Flights to Ras Alkhaimah, Fujairah and Al Ain are planned for the near future with possibly Dubai at a later date.

ROTANA JET ( started as a corporate jet operator. The airline is introducing a new means of connecting the northern emirates to Abu Dhabi with the aim of encouraging nationals and expatriates alike to travel within the UAE and enhancing tourism to Abu Dhabi.

Kudos for having the vision and the courage to start an intra emirates operation.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Quality Assurance, Safety Management Systems and the FAA

The FAA has finally released its FAR Part 145 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) 2006-26408. The NPRM was initially issued in 2006 and withdrawn in 2009 because the FAA felt it did not adequately address the current repair station operating environment. The new proposal covers three major areas plus several other changes
1. The system of Ratings.
2. The certification Requirements.
3. Repair stations providing maintenance to air carriers.

The original 2006 NPRM proposed a requirement for a formal Quality System to improve safety, this requirement is not included in this proposed NPRM. The rationale is that the FAA is developing the Safety Management Systems (SMS) rules and those will cover repair stations operating under Part 145. It is felt that if a Quality System is mandated now it will have to be modified once SMS rules are produced, which is not an efficient use of repair station resources.

SMS requires compliance with the following requirements
1. Identify safety hazards, assess and mitigate risks.
2. Ensure that remedial action necessary to maintain an acceptable level of safety is implemented.
3. Provide for continuous monitoring and regular assessment of the safety level achieved.
4. Aim to make continuous improvement to the overall level of safety.
However SMS requires a Quality Assurance Program and policy that is consistent with and supports the fulfilment of the activities of SMS, including annual internal audits.

In the original NPRM the FAA proposed an expansion of the existing Quality Control system to include a Quality System that assures compliance with regulations and internal processes and procedures. Any findings are addressed and corrections/corrective actions taken to ensure compliance and improve the effectiveness of the procedures. It also requires management oversight and follow up to ensure effective corrective actions and continuous improvement. This requires an internal annual audit plan and periodic management reviews.

SMS requires a Quality Assurance system, but it is directed towards the safety function, and does not cover the other aspects of the operation. It can be argued that all actions or inactions affect safety and therefore SMS will mandate by default an all encompassing Independent Quality Assurance regime.

Considering that the origins of this NPRM date back to 1999 and has been issued and withdrawn several times; to wait for the release of the SMS rules could mean a wait of a few more years and a QA System will not be mandated until the turn of the decade.

Monday, May 21, 2012


In the UBM Aviation, Airline E&M: Middle East Conference held on 15 and 16 May 2012, the discussion centred on the future of the MROs, Engine/Component support and the impact of New Technology Aircraft on maintenance costs. Three topics that are interrelated and very relevant.

The new technology aircraft are increasing the involvement of OEMs in the MRO market, potentially squeezing out the medium and smaller MROs from the Global and MENA markets in particular. 

Why would OEMs get into the MRO business; their short answer is The Customers Wants Us to Provide Support.

Boeing has Gold Care which integrates support with designated MROs, Suppliers and Boeing services while Airbus has the Airbus MRO Network of leading MROs capable of supporting the Airbus fleet.  

While both major manufacturers rely on Independent MROs for the support, Engine and Component OEMs have a different view. Engine OEMs wanted the business and they had the means; they controlled data and supply of parts and hence who can and cannot maintain engines. Their approach varied from wholly owned MROs, Joint Ventures with MROs and Airlines to licensing arrangements. Component OEMs followed the same path. 

OEMs do not necessarily make good repairers, it is a different mind set.

The third element is Component Support. Operators are very reluctant to invest in components and parts inventories. The initial investment is high and with the current economic conditions financing is at best difficult. OEMs have provided operators with support plans for their specific components, how comprehensive these plans are, depends on the operator and the size of the fleet. Nevertheless, that means operators have to deal with multiple OEMs when they prefer dealing with a single entity that provides total support including components availability, repairs and warranty application in support of an agreed aircraft dispatch reliability and component availability. Such arrangements include Base Consignments, Pool Access, Repair Services and Line Support. 

The industry is looking at a concentration of work with a few "GLOBAL" MROs for airframe and engines squeezing out the smaller MROs specially those not affiliated with an airline. As for components OEMs need to look at how operators want to be supported and take steps towards meeting these requirements. 

The new technology aircraft promise a 25% reduction in maintenance costs due to new materials and better designs in the airframe and engines. However, the concentration of work and the involvement of OEMs is going to reduce competition resulting in higher rates and costs and lesser choices.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Airline E&M: Middle East Conference

UBM Aviation, Airline E&M: Middle East Conference was held at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi UAE from 14 through 16 May 2012. This year's conference is probably one of the most important because it brought together major players in the region to discuss the future of the industry in view of the ever changing threats both regionally and globally: from the ever rising price of oil, the Arab Spring and the situation in Syria, Iran and the West, Greece, Spain and the Euro Zone crisis.

This year UBM Aiation invited people from outside the industry to provide their analysis of the ever changing world scene; Richard Thompson, Editorial Director, MEED and Mr. Riad Kahwaji, CEO, INEGMA.
Mr. Thompson discussed the economic outlook and the challenges facing the region while Mr. Kahwaji discussed the security implications of regional and global threats. The final analysis was; economically optimistic about the economic environment and short term pessimism but long term optimism as far as security goes.

The conference as usual discussed the future of MROs regionally and globally and the prospects of the smaller MROs as OEMs expand into the Repair and Overhaul field (more in future blogs). It also discussed Component Support, Engine Support, Leasing and Airworthiness issues.

This year's discussions were relatively more important, not only because of the prevailing global economy but because of the introduction of new technology aircraft and their impact on costs, support and operation.

Overall, the conference was a success and the introduction of speakers who are not aviation professionals to discuss issues affecting aviation from their perspective, I think is a great idea and should be repeated at later conferences

Kudos UBM Aviation

Monday, May 7, 2012

Balance A Commodity in Short Supply

As Europe falls into a double dip recession the debate of austerity vs. growth is raging. The argument that austerity measures do not create growth and jobs is gaining credibility. The answer does not lie in uncontrolled government spending but rather in an approach of cost savings and measured spending to spur growth. 

On a micro economic level, this is similar to the approach taken by airlines globally. This tends to explain the resilience of the airlines in MENA/GCC when compared to those of Europe and North America.

With every crisis in the last two decades western airlines have cut costs and tightly controlled growth. The best example is US carriers post 9/11, that instituted deep cost cuts and throttled growth to the point it took more than a decade for the sector to recover and barely just. It took a major shake up with consolidation and bankruptcies to energize the industry.

In this region, similar things happen. Airlines start by cutting costs and canceling unprofitable routes and flights to stem losses. Productivity drives and cost cutting becomes the battle cry of the season, just as conventional wisdom dictates. But then common sense or folly prevail depending on your point view. Aircraft are not grounded in mass and orders are not canceled, maybe deferred.  

The airlines of the region continue their growth either by increased frequencies to popular and new regional destinations or by expanding into new regions such as Asia, Africa, CIS and South America, the emerging and frontier markets of the global economy. Markets that are totally ignored by Western European and North American carriers. Instead, we hear the criticism of how airlines are subsidized by their governments, as if western carriers are not protected by their respective governments.

This balanced approach to regional and global crises is what have saved the airline industry of the region, over and over. 

MENA and GCC Airlines Upbeat But...

This year's Arab Travel Market (ATM), the most prestigious regional event in travel and tourism in the MENA and GCC regions, was the most successful in many years. Attendance was 10% more than last year's. African and Asian countries attended to market their countries, even Europeans attended despite the Eurozone crisis. The mood was upbeat. Airlines in the countries of the Arab Spring showed Q1 traffic growth of around 25% higher than last year and airlines in the GCC had around a 10% growth (the difference being the lower base for each region).

Political instability is still a factor in the prosperity and financial performance of tourism and the airlines in the region, but things are stabilizing as political and hopefully economic reforms take hold.

However, oil prices are by far a larger threat, almost every airline has indicated fuel costs constituting around 40% of its total cost in spite of fuel hedging ( 25% to 30% of their annual fuel needs are hedged on average). This has prompted Qatar Airways CEO to declare that if oil prices persist or increase we are bound to see higher ticket prices. An increase that might derail a fragile recovery.

Of course, the Eurozone crisis is another problem and the recent elections in France and Greece are not very encouraging. If the economies of the Eurozone enter into a deeper recession, a further reduction in European visitors to the region will occur with negative consequences to tourism and airlines.

Airlines in the region are again discussing growth plans and expansion into new markets and destinations, exhibiting the vibrancy and resilience of the sector.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sanctions and Safety

During a recent conference about Aviation Insurance, Risk Management, Safety and other Legal Requirements and Regimes. The issue of Sanctioned countries came up and the associated difficulties of operating within these countries.

Sanctions are a political reality. The rationale behind them is to make life for the ruling regime and the people so  difficult that the people will get rid of the government and install, for want of a better word, a "GOOD" one. Do sanctions work? sometimes but not very well. After all, there is a disconnect between a repressive regime and its people, so don't expect elections or violent uprisings. All the countries of the Arab Spring/Awakening, with the exception of Syria, did not have any sanctions imposed on them. While countries like Iran, Cuba and North Korea are still there and getting more radical.

Sanctions do affect Civil Aviation and in the worst way; no access to components, maintenance and other services, training, manuals and even insurance. USA and EU sanctions are being enforced more vigorously these days. Service providers are being warned and pushed into compliance.

In 1989 Syria was under a USA embargo, and still is So when the time for their B727 D Checks came due, the question was put to Boeing by the service provider, Royal Jordanian, on how would the sanctions affect the maintenance work. Boeing's answer was, safety and airworthiness issues are exempt but we decide what is a safety or airworthiness issue.  The same treatment was not accorded to Libya. 

One of the discussion papers in the conference was about the difficulty for a western entity to perform incident and/or safety investigations in sanctioned countries (basically Iran) and how the sanctions were taking their toll on the airlines in terms of Safety and Airworthiness.

During one of the round table discussions, sanctions were criticised because of their effect on the movement of people, trade and how they rendered civil aviation unsafe. The call was for the insurance community to stand up and oppose sanctions. I don't think this is likely to happen, but hopefully to work with governments to soften the effects of sanctions. Interestingly, it was brought up during the discussion that Syrian Air is one of the safest airlines if not the safest in the world despite the sanctions. The inference was that Iran's aviation safety record deteriorated because of sanctions.

That maybe the case, but to blame sanctions for the actions or inactions of airlines management and their regulatory authorities is hiding behind politics. Sanctions do have an effect, this why they were imposed in the first place. Why is Syrian Air safe? because their management acts responsibly and grounds aircraft when they cannot be maintained properly. However, most of Iran's aviation incidents are on Russian built aircraft. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Royal Jordanian What Next

On 17 April 2012 it was announced that the CEO of Royal Jordanian will be stepping down on 1 June 2012. The reason cited, that "the move came out of his conviction that the time had come to implement “new ideas” to develop the Jordanian carrier." RJ like the rest of the industry in the region and to a certain extent globally has suffered from the effects of the Arab Spring and spiraling fuel cost. The carrier has reported a loss for 2011 of around 80 million USD, not necessarily through the fault of management, in all probability the loss could have been higher if the problems were handled differently.

RJ implemented several improvements to its product and systems to meet the requirements of joining Oneworld. The on board product offered is good, of course there is scope for improvement. The idea of a merger similar to AF/KLM or BA/IB was floated again.

The reason for the CEO's departure is not the most significant issue. The real issue is the new CEO, who will be
appointed by the Board after the General Assembly in June. Whether the new CEO will be tapped from within the airline, the industry or is a political appointee remains to be seen. Regardless of his background, he will influence the future development of the airline and how the "new ideas" will be implemented. It may be a reflection on how the privatisation process in the country is being viewed.

I wish Mr. Hussain Dabbas, a friend and a colleague, the best in his new endeavors.


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