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.


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