Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aviation Safety Culture

Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) organized the Aviation Safety Culture 2013 (29-30 January 2013), an event that is designed to create a safety culture amongst the users of Dubai's Airports and to strength its position as a leading airport in terms of application of aviation safety standards.

The seminar, for want of a better word, discussed the Safety Management System (SMS) design and implementation which has been mandated by ICAO and picked up by national aviation authorities. It is not about the Policy Statement or the actual writing of the manual to satisfy regulatory requirements. It is about instilling a common safety culture. especially in multicultural work places with expatriates coming from more than 160 nations, with differing national cultures and levels of education.

An SMS manual looks at the practical side of things however, during implementation it fails to reach the grass roots, the people at the workplace. For SMS to be effective, its safety message has to be communicated to the employees that carry the organization. They are the people that need to be mentored, coached and motivated, who need to understand the safety message and how it affects them, their colleagues, the organization and their customers. They need to learn how to deal with pressures before they deal with processes and technology, it is about behavioural safety and consistent implementation. It is about an Organizational Culture that is able to override a National Culture when it comes to safety.
A good SMS  relies on people's competence and supports them in order to be able to recover from serious failures, especially those unusual and unpredictable.

A safety culture has several elements; Informed, Reporting, Just, Flexible and Learning. The toughest one is Just, the ability to balance between accountability and learning. It is the balance between the organization's need to learn from errors and the accountability of people committing them.
It is a fine line that is hard to draw, but in all cases it has to be transparent and consistent.

Of course, more aspects of Safety Management Systems were discussed. Clearly SMS is not only about a policy or a manual or processes, procedures and technology, it is about communicating the safety message to all the right people.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Better Late Than Never

I travelled to Amman, Jordan last weekend on board Royal Jordanian, from Abu Dhabi and back. The  check in at both airports was easy and fast so was immigration except that e-gate out of Abu Dhabi does not work as efficiently compared to Dubai Intrenational Airport or even arrivals at Abu Dhabi.

Two things drew my attention upon arriving to Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) that evening
1. The new terminal was all lit up and there was an aircraft parked at one of the gates in what appears  
    to be one of the jetway tests in anticipation of its opening at the end of February 2013.
2. I have travelled through QAIA since it opened in 1983 and for some reason whoever did the      
    handling at the airport could not get the baggage delivered to the carousel in a reasonable time.
    Well, this time the bags arrived within less that ten (10) minutes.

Airport International Group (AIG) who are building the new terminal has been criticized for delays and high fees without improving services by RJ and other operators, which until recently was probably correct. On January 17, 2013 AIG gave me the shortest baggage claim wait in QAIA since 1983. I just hope this performance can be repeated in a consistent manner.

As an after thought ADAS took more than 20 minutes to deliver bags at Abu Dhabi, even though the Amman flight was the only one  at the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Airports, The New Differentiator

As competition rages between the three GCC carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways the need for airport capacity becomes more evident. The primary requirement is not only to handle the increasing number of passengers but to provide a satisfying travel experience. As the level of on board services becomes ever so close, the differentiation shifts to the airport experience.

On January 13, The Director General of Qatar Civil Aviation Authority announced that the new Doha airport will be renamed Hamad International Airport and will start full operation in the second half of 2013. However, flights not requiring lounge access will start operating from April 1, 2013.
Qatar Airways will move in as soon as Lounges are completed.

Dubai Airports having  just started soft operation of the new Concourse A, a part of Terminal 3 complex  designed solely to handle A380 aircraft, announced yesterday, 14 January a major project to revamp Terminal 1. The project starts in Q1 2013 and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2014. The upgrade includes streamlined baggage screening, new departure check in desks, all the airport retail and food areas and the arrival halls; basically a full radical facelift. The idea is to enhance the travelling experience. The revamped terminal will be linked to Concourse D, currently under construction by an elevated train system.

Abu Dhabi Airport Company awarded the contract for the Midfield Terminal Complex in Abu Dhabi International Airport on June 2012. The complex located between the two runways will be completed by 2017. The Terminal Complex will have a passenger terminal, cargo and duty free facilities capable to handle up to forty  million passengers annually.

The importance of the airport experience is not lost in the region with airports like Dubai and Abu Dhabi already offering free wi-fi providing connectivity to passengers in addition to restaurants, food courts, lounges, a hotel and shopping experiences in their duty free areas.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013, The Fun Begins

Barely a week into the new year and developments in the GCC and MENA have already started.

It was only yesterday 7 January 2013 that I blogged about 2013 A Game Changer , only to read today 8 January 2013 reports regarding Etihad, possibily buying an equity stake in Alitalia SpA from Air France-KLM who own 25% of the Italian carrier. Nothing unusual about that, Etihad expands through acquiring equity stakes in airlines, except for the fact that Etihad and Air France-KLM have recently signed a code share agreement. How accurate this is remains to be seen!

Similarly, competition and choice in the Saudi Arabia market is on the rise with Flydubai starting  a twice weekly service to Ha'il next February, Qatar Airways already launched yesterday a four weekly service to Gassim and finally Emirates added a third A380 service to Jeddah, for four days in January, in support of the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 a Game Changer

The year 2012 had many interesting events but 2013 will see the impact of actions or inactions taken in 2012.
Things to look forward to will have an impact not only regionally in MENA but globally:
1. Dubai, the fourth busiest airport in the world is destined to become the second busiest in 2013 with the
    opening of Concourse 3, the only dedicated A380 terminal in the world by early 2013 and the relocation
    of the Qantas hub from Singapore to Dubai will help achieve this target.
2. Etihad will make a decision on investment in an Indian carrier in two (2) weeks time, regardless of the
    airline, probably Jet Airways. The decision will change the dynamics in the Indian airline market and inject
    a higher degree of competitiveness.
3. The fate of Kingfisher Airlines is still hanging after failing to get its flying permits reinstated. Bankers do not
    seem to agree with the proposed funding of the operation as put forward by the airline. Until the airline
    resumes operation, and there is a great possibility that it might not, there is a void in the market that is
    going to affect fares and costs.
4. Qatar Airways joining Oneworld, Emirates code sharing with Qantas a Oneworld member, Etihad's equity
    stake in Airberlin a Oneworld member and possibly Jet Airways which might end up as a Star Alliance
    member coupled with its extensive code share agreement with Air France-KLM a Sky Team member will
    change the dynamics of the three major alliances. How, no one seems to know. And if we add a possible
    merger of American  Airlines a Oneworld member with US Airways a Star Alliance member then the
    world alliance dynamics are anybody's guess.
5. The privatization of Saudi Arabian Airlines and the award of two (2) operating licences to Qatar Airways
    and Gulf Air will certainly change things in the Saudi market, injecting a new level of competitiveness.
    How this would affect the turnaround efforts of Gulf Air remains to be seen. The airline is changing and a
    lot hinges on who the new CEO will be.
6. Kuwait Airways is on its way to privatization, Iraqi Airways is on the rise and Royal Jordanian is hoping
    for a turnaround.
7. Low cost carriers in MENA are on the rise and they are expanding their market share putting additional
    pressures on legacy airlines.

These are events that we already know about, what other surprises 2013 brings, is anybody's guess.
We live and see.


1 Goal 2010 2012 2013 9/11 AA Abu Dhabi ADAC Air Arabia Air Canada Air India Airberlin aircraft airlines airports ambitions American Airlines Amman aviation AVOD AWST B707-300C B767 B777 B787 BA Bahrain Bahrain Air BangaloreAviation Boeing branding British Airways Business Aviation Cabin Crew Canada change chapter 11 CO Commercials communication community compliance contingency continuity Continuous Improvement cost effective creativity Culture curricula Customer Service Delta Detroit Metro DFW Doha DTW Dubai Dubai Air Show DWC efficiency emergency Emergency Response Emirates employees environment ET409 Etihad ETS EU FA FAA family Flight Attendants flight(s) Flightglobal flydubai GACA Galaxy Tablet GAMCO GCC globalisation GOL Greece Green Gulf Air Hala Hamburg happy health home Hopenhagen Human Resources IFE India Iran Iraq Iraqi Airways Jaffa Jazeera Airways Jet Airways Jordan Just Culture Kuwait Airways LA LCC leadership low cost maintenance management manpower MEA MEBAA MENA Michigan motivation MRO MROAM Oneworld Palestine passengers passion people Philadelphia planet earth Privatization professional QAIA Qantas Qatar Qatar Airways Quality Quick Service Restaurant Radio Repair Stations Risk road roots ROTANAJET Royal Jordanian Safety Sanctions. Sao Jose Dos campos SAT Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Airlines Security Sharjah Airport SimliFlying Simplicity SKYTEAM SMS social media Southern California Southwest Airlines Star Alliance Sudan Airways support target teachers Technology terrorism tolerance Toulouse tourism traffic Training transition travel TSA Turkey Twitter UA UAE UBM US Airways VIA Rail Violin Vision volcanic ash Wataniya Airways
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