Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 In Prespective

2013 has been an interesting year for aviation and the airline industry, in some ways a year of firsts. The following are some of the exciting events that will continue to shape the industry in 2014 and beyond. 

On board connectivity
Finally, the FCC and the FAA have paved the way to the use of mobile devices on board aircraft from departure to arrival, with inflight WI-FI available after 10,000 feet. The use of mobiles have triggered the debate of whether voice calls should be allowed; BA and Delta have decided not to allow mobile calls inflight, but the debate continues and most airlines awaiting passenger feedback. The prospect has raised the issue of cyber security with some airlines planning to have two (2) WI-FI networks on board; one for the cockpit and another for the cabin. 

The largest airline in the world 
The merger of American Airlines and US Airways is finalized creating the world's largest airline. Of course the road ahead is very difficult and how successful the new AA remains to be seen. Personally, I liked the old in bankruptcy AA the level of service improved and fleet renewal is underway.

The rise of the GULF Global carriers
The three Gulf carriers continued their double digit growth in different ways
- They launched the B777X along with Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific;
- Emirates ordered fifty (50) A380s and stabilized Airbus's production plans for the short term;
- Etihad equity stake in Jet Airways was finally approved. Etihad did not lose anytime in announcing its 
  plans for the Indian market;
- Etihad acquired 33% of Darwin Airlines, a Swiss regionals and will rebrand it as Etihad Regional.    
  Furthermore, they are in discussion with Alitalia for an equity stake; and
- Qatar Airways joined One World.
This prompted Star Alliance to invite Air India to join the alliance in an attempt by Lufthansa to preserve its share of the Indian international market. More interesting is US carriers, lead by Delta, request for protection from the government to limit access of the Gulf carriers and other international carriers and access to EXIM Bank financing.

These are by no means the only events facing the industry in 2014 but probably will have a large impact. Barring major geopolitical and natural disasters the industry is expected to continue its growth, hopefully at a better rate than this year.

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2014

Thursday, December 19, 2013

RJ at Fifty, Still Going Strong

This post appeared in RJ's in house employees magazine 

Amidst all the geopolitical turmoil of the last few years, Royal Jordanian has been able to maintain its pioneering spirit. It is not the oldest airline of the region nor the largest or richest. However, Royal Jordanian has always been at the forefront of the industry in the MENA region.

RJ has an innovative and can do spirit that meets challenges head on. I cannot recall a time when the MENA region did not have challenges from wars, invasions, blockades to uprisings. Issues that affect the stability, security, economy, tourism and the ability of people to travel.       

In spite of all this the airline managed to develop into a center of excellence.
The 1970s and 1980s, where times of rapid fleet expansion, with an increase in the B727/B747 fleets and the introduction of the L1011-500 and A310s followed by the A320s in 1990. The move to QAIA allowed the airline to rise to the challenge and was capable to efficiently operate and maintain the advanced new aircraft. The larger facilities allowed the airline to develop its heavy maintenance, engine overhaul, training and catering capabilities. The airline was always at the leading edge of technology, in 1983 it started operation of the L1011-500, the most advanced digital aircraft of its time. It was among the first to operate the A320, the first fly by wire aircraft and to introduce the large regional jets the Embraer ERJ175/195 to the MENA region.

In 2007 the airline was privatized, the first government airline of the region, a long and arduous process. The airline had to sell off almost all of its ancillary services, this drew criticism but in the final analysis it helped to broaden the aviation base in Jordan. New capabilities were introduced that otherwise would not have been. In the same year RJ joined One World The first MENA carrier to join a global alliance. The airline had to meet the alliance service delivery standards.

In the last few years the airline rolled over its fleet. The A310 passenger aircraft were retired and the A320 fleet was replaced by new A321/A320/A319 aircraft. The A340s were refurbished and the A330s were introduced to fill the gap until the delivery of the B787s, in the last quarter of 2014. The e-enabled B787 encompasses challenging leading edge technologies.

Royal Jordanian is a trend setter and has a can do spirit that rises to meet all challenges. This is achieved through a dedicated and well trained workforce. A workforce that is ready to go the extra mile to achieve its goals. The airline developed and thrived in spite of internal and regional challenges and in the process helped other airlines especially those in the Gulf region to develop. As the airline celebrates its 50th anniversary, the same pioneering, innovative and can do spirit still prevails. Aviation is an industry that is about people; those who travel and those who make their travel possible in a safe, secure and comfortable manner.                          
No Airline exemplifies this as Royal Jordanian does.


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