Saturday, February 25, 2012

Indian airline Kingfisher 'offered help'

New Delhi — India's debt-crippled Kingfisher Airlines has received offers of funds from two Indian investors to help tide it over its cash crunch, the company's chief was quoted on Saturday as saying.
Kingfisher chairman and brewing magnate Vijay Mallya said the carrier was examining the offers, according to the Economic Times, a leading Indian financial daily.
The chosen investor would pick up a 24 percent stake in the Bangalore-based carrier if a deal was reached, Mallya said, declining to identify the candidates.
"They are large investors, and I would leave it there," he said.
The company owes suppliers, lenders and staff millions of dollars but Mallya said no agreement had yet been reached with the airline's existing bank lenders on its requests for more funds.
Kingfisher has scrapped scores of flights with only 28 of its fleet of 64 aircraft in operation. Many of its planes have been reclaimed by lessors or are awaiting spare parts.
The airline, India's second-largest until earlier this year when its cash woes deepened, has blamed its latest problems on officials freezing its bank accounts for not paying tax arrears.
The company's net loss widened sharply to 4.44 billion rupees ($88 million) in the three months to December from a loss of 2.54 billion rupees a year earlier. Its debt totals at least $1.3 billion.
A consortium of banks led by state-run State Bank of India was expected to meet next week to discuss whether to extend fresh loans to Kingfisher, based on a new feasibility report, domestic media said.
The banks already own about a quarter of Kingfisher through an earlier debt-for-equity swap, and bankers have said they would like to see the airline get cash injections from other investors before they put in more money.
Mallya has said closing Kingfisher "is not an option".
India's cabinet is next month expected to approve allowing foreign airlines to take up to a 49 percent stake in domestic carriers.
Analysts have mentioned IAG, parent company of British Airways, and EtihadAirways, flagship carrier of the United Arab Emirates, as firm that might be interested in a Kingfisher stake.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kenya Airways plans Mideast expansion!

Kenya Airways is planning to boost its schedule to Dubai and is planning further routes as part of its expansion across the Middle East, the African carrier's regional manager has confirmed.
"The growth potential is very strong and I believe that Kenya Airways has an exciting year ahead in this region, as our Dubai service will become double daily and more frequency will be added to the Jeddah service as well," the airline's regional manager Abraham Joseph told Arabian Business' sister title Aviation Business.
"At the same time, opportunities are being explored in new markets across the Middle East… There are plans to commence a Beirut service by the middle of 2012, while flights to Karachi in Pakistan are also being considered, which will be served via Dubai," he added.
Last year, the African carrier announced a new ten-year growth plan and, as part of the strategy, its fleet will triple in size to 100 aircraft.
"Kenya Airways has placed an order for nine Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the delivery of which has unfortunately been delayed and will now start from late 2013 or early 2014. Kenya Airways has ordered two Boeing 777-300ERs, which will enter service in the middle of 2013. These will initially replace our Boeing 767-300ERs on the Dubai route, until the Dreamliner comes into operation," Joseph said.
Kenya Airways began operating from Dubai over 25 years ago and currently operates 10 flights a week to the emirate. In addition, it operates thrice a week to Muscat and twice a week to Jeddah.
"The latest economic data has indicated that Africa in the next international growth area, due to the new found wealth of many countries in terms of natural oil and gas, minerals and precious metals. Nairobi has emerged as the hub of Africa and we are determined to cover all major cities in the continent over the next two years," Joseph said.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Emirates introduces Airbus A340 on Accra-Dubai route

Mr Manoj Nair, Emirates Regional Manager for West Africa, has said the airline has introduced an Airbus A340-500 to its Accra –Dubai route to underline the airline’s commitment to Ghana.
He said the aircraft update which was effective February 13, 2012 would “offer travelers from West African markets seamless connections to the Far East, Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Australia, via Emirates Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport”.
Mr Nair, in a statement released in Accra on Monday, said the demand for Emirate’s flights to Accra had been steadily rising and that the introduction of the A340-500 would give customers an even better experience when they traveled on the Accra-Dubai route.
He said “our customers will now enjoy the very latest Emirates in-flight products, including our multi award-winning ice entertainment system. Additionally, First Class passengers will experience Emirates’ ergonomically-designed private First Class suites, featuring privacy screens for maximum exclusivity and massage-enabled seats which convert into flat beds. Our Business Class customers will experience angled lie-flat beds and those traveling in Economy Class will enjoy the comfort of generously-sized seats”.
The statement said Emirates, one of the world’s fastest-growing international airlines, serves Accra daily, with an A340-500 aircraft offering 12 First Class Private Suites, 42 seats in Business Class and 204 Economy Class seats and employs more than 130 Ghanaian nationals in a variety of roles across the Emirates Group, including 75 cabin crew.
It said the aircraft also has a total of 13 tonnes of cargo-carrying capacity. EK 788 departs Accra at 1845hrs and lands in Dubai at 0630hrs. EK787 leaves Dubai at 0740hrs and arrives in Accra at 1240hrs.
It said customers in all cabins can enjoy Emirates’ professionally selected wines, spirits and beverages, as well as fresh, locally-sourced dining options prepared by gourmet chefs and served by the airline’s multi-national cabin crew. Passengers can also lose themselves in more than 600 channels of on-demand entertainment, including 50 new movie releases, more than 20 movie classics and 20 children’s films.
Emirates has already launched new routes to Rio, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare and Dallas in 2012 would follow with Seattle on March 1, Ho Chi Minh City on June 4, and Barcelona on July 3, 2012.

SAA will launch an additional flight between Johannesburg and new African destination

South African Airways (SAA) has announced significant schedule and route enhancements to its African network, including: added frequencies to several destinations, new or upgraded aircraft on certain routes, and product developments that will further enhance the flight experience for SAA's valued customers.
From 25 February 2012, SAA will launch an additional flight between Johannesburg and the following cities: Lusaka (Zambia) on Wednesdays and Sundays; Kinshasa (DRC) on Mondays through Saturdays; and Accra (Ghana) daily except Wednesdays.
"These additions are part of SAA's strategy to optimize its schedule throughout the African continent, resulting in expanded services and more convenient schedules and connections for our customers," said Theunis Potgieter, General Manager of Commercial for SAA.
SAA will take delivery of 22 new, state-of-the-art narrow body Airbus A320 aircraft as part of its fleet renewal process. "We are also in the process of optimizing flight departure times and adding our brand new Airbus A320 aircraft on key domestic routes, whilst also scheduling wide body aircraft on other heavily-traveled markets. These changes and enhancements will further solidify SAA's position as the leading and most awarded airline in Africa," added Potgieter.
Effective 24 February 2012, the first of the new A320s will service specific flights between Johannesburg and Durban, with the second aircraft also used on the route from 18 March. The more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly A320 aircraft are more economical to operate.
These changes will result in improved schedules for regional flights. The departure and arrival times for flights between Johannesburg and Mauritius (from 1 March 2012), Nairobi (from 18 March 2012) and Accra (from 25 March 2012) will be adjusted, resulting in more convenient connection opportunities to and from SAA's international flights. Effective 18 March 2012, flight times for SA028 and SA029 between Johannesburg and Harare will be optimized. SA028 and SA029 will also be upgraded to wide body A330 aircraft on Fridays, accounting for the typically higher demand on that day.
Aircraft upgrades will also be implemented on certain flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town as of 18 March, with the Airbus A330 operating several of the daily frequencies.
In line with SAA's growth strategy, the airline recently introduced new flights to Kigali (Rwanda) from Johannesbug, Bujumbura (Burundi), and Beijing (China).

Ethiopian Airlines was awarded the Gold Award for African Airline of the Year 2011/2012

Ethiopian Airlines was awarded the Gold Award for African Airline of the Year 2011/2012 from the African Aviation News portal. Ethiopian Airlines earned this distinguished honor by receiving the highest number of votes from readers, industry officials, and followers of African Aviation. More than 20,000 total votes were registered in this year’s poll, both online and in various industry meetings and airline congress events.
“We at Ethiopian Airlines are delighted and honored to receive such recognition for the work we do,” said Kagnew Asfaw, Ethiopian Airlines’ Director for the Americas. “Our non-stop Boeing 777LR from Washington Dulles has allowed us to offer improved service to all of Africa, and our recent membership in the Star Alliance will allow us to continue service innovation in the field.”
In the past 65 years, Ethiopian Airlines has become one of Africa’s most reputable airlines, and is unparalleled in the continent for its successful operations in industry service with maximum efficiency. The airline is at the forefront of modern technology, maintaining state-of-the-art fleets and providing excellent services to the pan-African network, as well as to 62 international destinations. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines continues to operate with the conscientious priority of making their Ethiopian Aviation Academy the best flying school in Africa.
Receiving the Gold Award from the African Aviation News portal is a welcome addition to the multitude of distinguished recognitions already bestowed upon the airline by various organizations throughout the industry, the latest of which was the “Airline of the Year Award” presented at the 43rd African Airlines Associations (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly in November 2011.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Turkish Airlines Jan passenger numbers up 21.9 pct

Turkey's flag-carrier Turkish Airlines' said on Monday that passenger numbers in January rose 21.9 percent to 2.6 million from 2.1 million a year ago.
Load factor in the same period was 72.1 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from January 2011, Turkish Airlines said in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange.
Shares in Turkish Airlines were up 3.41 percent to 2.73 lira, outperforming the Istanbul bourse which traded 1.22 percent higher at 0927 GMT.

Singapore Airlines says EU emissions scheme unfair

Singapore Airlines Ltd. thinks that the European system of charging global airlines for emissions isn't equitable, though the island nation's flag carrier will comply with the law, Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong said Monday.
"We will comply (with the Emissions Trading System, or ETS) but we don't think it is an equitable measure," Goh told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event in Singapore.
He said it was unfair to charge an airline flying long distance into Europe for the entire journey made by the airplane. Under the system, an airline that makes its passengers fly with a halt somewhere close to Europe will pay less than an airline that flies non-stop, even though the former would have used more fuel, he said.
"We are objecting to the principle of how it is applied," Goh said.
Separately, he said that the aviation market is expected to improve in the second half of 2012 while the airline isn't banking on fuel prices to come down anytime soon.

Ethiopian Airlines to Carry Carbon Emission Charges

Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia’s flag carrier, will not introduce additional fees on tickets of passengers to and from Europe to offset the European Union carbon emission costs levied on all airlines operating in Europe as part of the European Emission Trading Scheme according to a statement.
The Ethiopian airline is in the process of modernizing its fleet changing over to aircraft with less emissions said the statement.
The Emission Trading Scheme has been effective as of the 1st day of the year and aims to protect the climate by requiring airlines flying to and from any destination in Europe to buy certificates for the carbon dioxide they emit.
Airlines that refuse to comply with the scheme will be finned and be prohibited from landing at European airports.
The scheme has been criticized by the African Airlines Association as well as airlines from Russia, India and the USA.
China announced that its airlines will not pay the new fees because the scheme is against international law. It is estimated that the European scheme will cost Chinese airlines about 120 million dollars in just the first year with the amount potentially tripling in 2020 according to the China Air Transport Association.

Kenya Airways Passengers in Freetown Stranded

Hundreds of Kenya Airways passengers are stranded in Sierra Leone and Liberia as a result of bad weather condition.
Hazy conditions, which have severely affected visibility levels within the past few days, are causing ripples in the aviation industry in Freetown and Monrovia, with airlines having to put up with increasing cost of accommodating stranded passengers.
But Kenya Airways appears to be making the headlines more in Freetown after two of its flights were prevented from landing at Freetown's Lungi International Airport last Tuesday.
The problem started when one of the flights, which was scheduled to land at Lungi, was diverted to Monrovia's Roberts International Airport in neighbouring Liberia before being redirected to Accra.
A second flight could not land in either neighbouring countries and had to return to Accra, from where both had come en route from Nairobi.
"The difference is safety standard," said Robert Kiproto, Kenya Airways Country Manager for both Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Mr Kiproto said Kenya Airways is not the only affected airline but that they give the safety of their passengers an utmost precedence, hence the decision not "to take any chance" when the weather condition does not satisfy them.
About 145 passengers, including Kenyans, Ghanaians, Americans, Ugandans and other citizens, are stranded at the Lungi Airport, of whom 73 were said to be headed for Nairobi.
At the Roberts International Airports in Monrovia, 135 passengers are also stranded.
The first flight last Tuesday circled on Lungi before been forced to go to Liberia where, despite similar hash weather conditions, it managed to land.
Since Sierra Leone's only airport is in the outskirts of the capital, and given the difficulty in travelling through the estuary that links it to the mainland, many passengers are forced to stay at the airport in such situation.
This makes the problem of accommodation, feeding and other arising issues a little problematic.
Last Thursday, the entire senior management of the Freetown office of Kenya Airways spent the whole day at the Lungi Airport working a way out.
"Even now I can be required to go at anytime," Mr Kiproto said in an interview on Friday.
Some stranded passengers at Lungi who spoke to journalists complained of expensive food and accommodation problems.
But Mr Kiproto maintained that the airline couldn't be responsible for passengers before they board their planes. And in this case, the passengers are still at home.
Nonetheless, passengers on the two stranded flights in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, where been taken care of by the airlines, which the Kenya Airways Freetown boss said was costing them huge money.
The sad thing, however, is that there doesn't seem to be an end in sight of the problem.
"It all depends on the weather condition. We can tell the passengers to go home now and the weather gets clear or we can tell them to come and it gets bad again," he said.

Emirates to launch flights to Lisbon in July

Emirates airline said it is setting its sights on the land of Vasco da Gama by announcing flights to Portugal from 9th July.
"The airline, further extending its European reach, will start a daily flights to Lisbon in the south west corner of Europe, just six days after launching flights to Barcelona in neighbouring Spain," a statement said.
Emirates will serve Lisbon with a modern Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, a far cry from more than 500 years ago when Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama put to sea in search of a passage to India.
Offering First Class, Business Class and Economy Class cabins, EK 191 will leave Dubai at 0915hrs each day and arrive in Lisbon at 1445hrs. The return flight, EK 192 departs Lisbon at 1755hrs and gets into Dubai at 0435hrs the next day. The Portuguese capital becomes Emirates' 31st European destination.
"Lisbon has been on our European wish-list for some time. Our daily flight will link this far western corner of Europe with our strong route network, via Dubai, into Africa, across Asia and beyond, said Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline. "We will be the only carrier based in the Middle East operating into Portugal, bringing our refreshing approach to customer service, our dynamic and inspiring approach to business, along with superb value for money," Mr Clark added.
Through its industry-leading international hub in Dubai, the airline's serves many of the countries where Portuguese is heard including India, Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Hong Kong - gateway to the former Portuguese enclave of Macau.
Since joining what became the European Union in the mid-1980s, Portugal's traditional focus on an agricultural economy has become increasingly diversified, with a steady expansion of the service sector.
As one of Europe's warmest countries, Portugal is a popular tourist destination. Its better known attractions, such as the resorts of the Algarve, are supplemented by medieval castles and scenic villages dotted around winding coastlines and hillsides.
"We are delighted to welcome Emirates to Lisbon and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with our newest airline client," said Lisbon Airport Director João Nunes.
"Emirates have established a high level of excellence and admiration within the aviation community and we are confident that passengers will be eager to take advantage of the new route for travel to the Middle East and beyond. Connectivity is essential for business and for tourism and this new flight and the onward connections that it will provide will be very beneficial for the Portuguese economy," Nunes added.
Portugal has a population of around 10 million, of which nearly 2 million live in Lisbon and its suburbs. It is estimated there are some 200 million Portuguese speakers around the world, making it the third most spoken European language globally, according to Visit Portugal.
Portugal has more than 800 kilometres of Atlantic coast and is the primary point of access to the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.
In Lisbon, visitors can sip an expresso on the leafy streets, go window shopping in Chiado square, visit Jeronimos Monastery, the World Heritage Site and resting place for Vasco da Gama, or view treasured art at places such as Calouste Gulbenkian and Berardo museums.
Lisbon was recently ranked the 7th best city in Europe for shopping by the "Globe Shopper City Index" of The Economist Intelligence Unit. The city also ranks 8th in the world for international conferences and events, according to the International Conferences and Congress Association (ICCA).
Portugal's main exports feature textiles, clothing, wood products, machinery, tools and electrical equipment. Emirates SkyCargo, offering 17 tonnes of belly-hold capacity in the 777-200ER, will be on hand to assist importers and exporters.
The new service follows a trend of growing links between Portugal and the UAE. Portugal opened its embassy in the UAE in 2010 and the UAE reciprocated in Lisbon last year.
With a fleet of 169 aircraft, Emirates now flies to 121 destinations, having recently launched Dallas, Lusaka and Harare. Services to Seattle start on March 1, flights to Ho Chi Minh City get underway from 4th June and Barcelona joins the Emirates' network on July 3.

Air Zimbabwe resume domestic flights next week

Troubled national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is set to resume domestic flights next week.
The airline suspended its domestic flights in January this year after an aircraft servicing domestic routes developed mechanical faults.
Acting chief executive officer, Innocent Mavhunga told NewsDay yesterday, Air Zimbabwe will begin by offering limited service.
“Yes, we are resuming our domestic flights and we will be flying on February 20,” said Mavhunga.
“We will be begin four times a week flights to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. We will gradually increase flights as the market picks up.”
The airline is saddled with an estimated debt of $149 million.
Foreign creditors are owed about $30 million, and the rest is owed to local entities.
Transport and Communications minister Nicholas Goche last week told NewsDay’s sister paper, Zimbabwe Independent, the airline had been operating on a deficit since 1994, but the inception of the multi-currency system worsened the situation.
This, he said, had resulted in frequent strikes, grounding of operations, non-replacement of equipment, huge debts, suspension from International Aviation Transport Association, lease withdrawals and contract cancellations, among other problems.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Etihad Airways finally turns a profit

For the first time in its eight-year history, Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates turned a profit: $14 million. The company’s operations in Pakistan for a big part of its financial success, accounting for between 10% and 12% of its global revenues.
“This is an historic day for the airline and an amazing achievement for an airline just eight years old. Five years ago, we said we would be profitable by 2011,” said James Hogan, President and CEO of Etihad Airways at a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Etihad is the third largest global airline in Pakistan, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), bested only by UAE rival Emirates and Saudi Arabian Airlines. Meanwhile, Pakistan is one of the top ten revenue generating countries for Etihad.
“The annual growth rate of Pakistani passengers for Etihad Airways is in double-digits,” said Amer Khan, the airline’s general manager for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Etihad operates 23 flights every week from Pakistan to Abu Dhabi, with daily flights from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and two flights a week from Peshawar. This is the maximum number of flights currently allowed to the airline by the government of Pakistan.
It is unclear whether the airline will be requesting permission for more flights from Pakistan over the coming year, though officials at Etihad suggested that Pakistani routes are amongst the airline’s highly profitable ones. Many Pakistanis use Etihad to travel to Europe and North America, via Abu Dhabi. In addition, the large Pakistani expatriate population in the UAE also travel frequently on Etihad.
Etihad flew 8.3 million passengers in 2011, up 17% from the previous year. The airline is now targeting reaching 10 million passengers, according to its CEO.

Turkish airlines to launch flights to Argentina

Turkish Airlines (THY) will launch flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina in June, the director general said on Saturday.
Temel Kotil said THY would operate Sao Paulo-connected Istanbul-Buenos Aires flights in June.
"We plan to operate four flights a week first, and we can also carry passengers from Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires," Kotil told reporters after meeting Argentine Tourism Minister Carlos Enrique Meyer in Istanbul.
Meyer is visiting Istanbul for the 16th East Mediterranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (EMITT).
"We aim to operate flights to Bueno Aires every day if slot restrictions at the Sao Paulo airport are lifted," Kotil also said.
Meyer said 6 million Argentine people travelled abroad last year.
THY carried 32.6 million passengers in January-December, 2011. The number of THY passengers was up 12.1 percent from 29.1 million in January-December 2010 to 32.6 million in January-December 2011.
Turkish Airlines also increased the cargo it carried 23.7 percent from 313,517 tons to 387,703 tons in the mentioned period.
THY is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, headquartered in Istanbul. It operates scheduled services to 146 international and 41 domestic cities (38 domestic airports), serving a total of 187 airports, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Qatar Airways opened a premium lounge at London Heathrow

Qatar Airways opened a premium lounge at London Heathrow at the end of Jan-2012, the carrier’s first premium lounge facility outside of its home hub at Doha. Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said that London Heathrow was the “obvious choice” for the new premium lounge, as the London Heathrow service is one of the carrier’s best performing routes.
The new lounge reinforces London’s position as one of the airline’s most important destinations. Qatar Airways operates four daily services to London Heathrow, offering more than 11,000 seats per week with a mix of A330-200/300, A340-600 and Boeing 777-300ER equipment. The carrier also codeshares with bmi and United Airlines on the Doha-London Heathrow service.
Qatar Airways’ London Heathrow lounge follows, after some time, similar lounges from competitors Etihad Airways and Emirates. Etihad Airways opened a dedicated premium lounge at Heathrow in 2009 while Emirates has operated a dedicated first/business class passenger lounge since 2006.
London Heathrow is the most heavily trafficked destination in Europe for Middle Eastern airlines, beating out other hubs such as Frankfurt, Milan and Paris. It is a particularly strong destination for GCC airlines, with more than 140 weekly frequencies operated by Gulf region carriers alone.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Etihad Airlines Looking For New Streategic Partner in Asia

Etihad Airways remains on the lookout for new strategic airline partners, particularly in Asia, as it seeks to maintain the momentum of an expansion that lifted the carrier, based in Abu Dhabi, to its first annual profit ever last year.
“The Asian markets are going to be strategically very important over the next 10 to 15 years,” Etihad’s chief executive, James Hogan, said Thursday. “India and China — these are the markets that people are going to travel from.”
Etihad, which was founded five years ago by the Abu Dhabi government, has expanded aggressively in recent months in a bid to keep pace with its larger Gulf rival, Emirates.
Late last year, it snapped up a 29 percent stake in Air Berlin, the second-largest German airline, in a partnership that Etihad expects will give it access to 35 million new passengers and contribute up to $50 million in revenue in 2012. In January, it acquired a 40 percent stake in Air Seychelles, giving it access to the African island country’s leisure market, which has grown increasingly popular with Chinese travelers.
Mr. Hogan said Etihad was eager to identify “one or two” more strategic investments in other airlines over the coming years that could drive new passenger and cargo traffic to its ever-widening network of 82 destinations. “Those could be in Asia,” he said, though there are no advanced talks under way.
Etihad reported Thursday net profit of $14 million for 2011, slightly better than the break-even target it had set for the year. The airline, which is not publicly traded, did not provide a comparable figure for 2010. Revenue was $4.1 billion, up 36 percent from a year earlier.
Mr. Hogan said that he was encouraged by recent proposals by the Indian government to raise a 26 percent cap on foreign ownership of domestic airlines. Several of India’s financially strapped carriers have signaled their eagerness to tie up with a foreign airline, including Kingfisher, which is owned and run by the flamboyant liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
“Any market that liberalizes their aviation environment is good news,” Mr. Hogan said. But he cautioned that none of the proposed changes had been ratified. India was still burdened with high fuel taxes and other costly regulatory constraints, he said, that made investing there difficult despite the clear potential for growth.
“India will have 70 airports in 10 years,” he said. “But there are a lot of domestic issues with Indian aviation, and that is what has impacted the airlines” there.
Analysts noted that until now, China and India have largely sought to keep foreign airlines at arm’s length, wary of foreign encroachment on their lucrative markets. That reticence could make a tie-up with Etihad a tough sell, some said.
“The Chinese want their own carriers to do what the Gulf carriers have been doing, driving traffic through their own hubs, so that would be difficult to overcome,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research in London.
In India, he said, nationalist sentiment still runs high. “If the goal of the government is to get some of these carriers into the black, then I would think that would come at the expense of foreign competitors,” he said. “I can’t really see them allowing the Emirates to steal a march on them.”
Etihad’s passenger traffic jumped 17 percent last year, to 8.3 million, compared with a global average of 5.9 percent growth. The airline said it was targeting a further 20 percent increase in traffic this year and a comparable increase in revenue.
Mr. Hogan said the airline would publish more detailed financial information in the future, but he said the rapid pace of Etihad’s expansion, including the purchase of dozens of aircraft, made loss figures for previous years “not meaningful.”
Etihad currently owns a fleet of 65 Airbus and Boeing jets, including seven new planes added last year. The carrier has placed firm orders for a further 100 new planes for delivery over the next decade.

Rwanda: South African Airways Resumes Flights to Kigali

The South African Airways (SAA) has added Rwanda to its 500 destinations across the world by Resuming flights to Kigali- Johannesburg route.
An Airbus A319 aircraft with a capacity of carrying 120 passengers; 25 in business class and 95 in economy class will operate three days a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Johannesburg to Kigali, before departing for Bujumbura.
The return flights will operate from Bujumbura to Kigali and onwards to Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport.
"Who knows home than we do, we are very confident to operate in this market, even if there are other companies operating on the same route," said Aaron Munetsi, SAA's regional general manager for Africa and Middle East.
According to Munetsi, SAA sees great potential in the Rwandan Market as a fast growing economy to realise their business goals.
"Air traffic is growing and the African continent is resilient to different circles of global meltdown," Munetsi noted.
Viresh Vallabhbhai, acting charge d'affaires at the South African High Commission noted that SAA's operations will also strengthen bilateral ties and increase investments.
"This is the beginning of investments from South Africa, we are expecting more businesses, either by South Africans or other investors outside South Africa," says Vallabhbhai.
"It's a win-win situation. The role we are playing is not only the opening up the airline but connecting Rwanda to the great trade boom in all 500 connections."
The airline is represented mainly in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Australia.
Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the Minister of State in charge of Transport, welcomed the development, saying that SAA's knows the market and their resumption of flights to Rwanda is a clear indication that they have confidence in the local aviation market.
Last year, Rwanda's aviation industry attracted interest from international players, including Turkish Airways and Emirates Airlines while the national carrier stepped up efforts to increase its foothold in Africa. It is expected that Rwanda's air traffic will rise to 300 flights per week from 200 last year.

Harmattan causes flight delays in Ghana

Air travelers hoping to be in Accra, Kumasi or Takoradi on Friday will possibly have to look for an alternative as bad weather threatens to ground flights for a fourth consecutive day.

According to the National Meteorological Service, commercial flights are not likely to operate to these destinations today and possibly the rest of the weekend because the weather is still not likely to be conducive enough for flying.

This means massive revenue loss for the domestic flight operators.

A senior officer at the Ghana Meteorological Service, Mula Tsatsu Siame explained that commercial flights cannot operate under such weather conditions.

Presently visibility around the coastal areas, like Accra, Takoradi, and Cape Coast ranges between 800 and 1000 metres, we are hoping it would improve to at least, 1200 metres and even that is not safe for flying. ”

According to Mr. Siame, it is unlikely the weather will be favourable for flying in the next few days.

Poor visibility grounds Kenya Airways as 145 passengers stranded at Lungi Airport

Some 145 passengers, 80 of whom were heading for Accra and 73 for Nairobi are presently stranded at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi as a result of hazy conditions which has severely affected visibility levels and has prevented Kenya Airways from landing and instead being presently grounded at the Roberts International Airport in neighbouring Liberia.
This has created an utter embarrassment for not only management of Kenya airways but equally passengers who have scheduled their travel since Tuesday.
Kenya Airway’s Country Manager for Sierra Leone and Liberia Robert Kipruto explained that there is a problem with visibility as a result of bad weather. He said in cognizance of international best practice, if any visibility falls below 8,000 meters or 8 kilometers a flight should not depart from the airport.
He said this warning is normally given by Air-Traffic Controllers together with the weather forecaster in situations of such natural phenomenon. He said that yesterday Kenya Airways came and circled over the Lungi Airport but was not given permission to land since visibility was too poor. As a result the flight opted for an alternate destination which happened to be the Roberts International Airport in Monrovia.
The Country Manager said on arrival in Liberia, the flight crew realized there was similar weather and even found it very difficult to land. He said at the moment 135 passengers are also stranded in Monrovia for which Kenya Airways management is mandated to take responsibility for accommodation and reprocessing of documents if the need arises.
Kipruto said the flight would have departed Monrovia yesterday Wednesday, but because the weather still remains the same, it is yet to take-off.
The Acting Director of the Department of Meteorology Alpha Bockarie said the cause for the change in weather is as a result of the hazy condition which is a suspended liquid and gaseous particle together with smoke in the atmosphere, and that it reduces visibility needed essentially by flights for landing and take-off.
He said the situation is not a new phenomenon but at times the intensity goes far above normal which is the case with the present weather condition. He said it is possible that it will clear after a few days. He said during his work at the Lungi airport 12 years ago, there was a time when the Malian and Sabena Airlines experienced similar problem.
Mr Bockarie said during that period the hazy condition lasted only for a day which is opposed to the present happening. However, he noted that the negative effect of this weather condition is not only limited to flights but humans themselves are susceptible to it. He said the gas emitted has substances that are deadly hazardous to one’s health.
Stranded passengers at Lungi are presently left in a pool of oblivion as to what the issue of the flight would be. They are left fending food, accommodation and other necessities after they were given breakfast lunch and dinner yesterday.
Joseph Cannon, a passenger heading for Accra-Ghana said “I am taking my parents (mother and sister) to Ghana for treatment but their situation is already becoming worrying as we are not told exactly when the flight would come.” He went on, “food is expensive here at least Le 40,000. Since breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday, we have been left on our own.” Cannon said.
Another passenger Andrew Ewoku going to Uganda said “some of us cannot afford to pay 40 dollars to go back to Freetown. We prefer staying here, just in case.” Andrew said they are receiving mixed information about the flight which means their travel is not certain. Andrew and many others who were couched in reclining chairs said “this is possibly where we would be sleeping until God knows when.”
As we went to press BMI and Air France flights had landed last evening at the Lungi Airport signalling a possible return to normality.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thai Airways Plans to Lease 8 Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boeing Says

Thai Airways International Pcl, the country’s largest carrier, plans to lease eight Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners from International Lease Finance Co., Boeing said in a statement distributed to media in Bangkok today.
The companies didn’t say when the planes will be delivered.
Boeing also said the production schedule for the 787-9, which will be bigger than the 787-8, is “progressing.” The company expects to begin major assembly of the model this year, with first delivery scheduled for early 2014, according to presentation slides distributed to reporters.

African Airline of the Year Award 2011/2012: Ethiopian Airlines Bags the Gold

Ethiopian Airlines wins the Gold Award in the African Airline of the Year 2011/2012 Award given by African Aviation News portal. Ethiopian Airlines emerged ahead of the pack garnering the highest number of the votes cast in by the readers and followers of African Aviation, who voted in an online poll, set up at the African Aviation's website as well as in various industry meetings and airline congress events attended by officials of African Aviation. More than 20,000 votes registered in total, with Kenya Airways getting the Silver Award and Precision Air Tanzania pegging down the Bronze Award.
In the past 65 years, Ethiopian Airlines became one of the continent’s most reputable airlines, unparalleled in Africa for its successful operations in industry service with maximum efficiency. It is at the leading edge of modern technology, maintaining the latest state-of-the-art fleets and providing excellent services to the pan African network and sixty two international destinations.
In addition, Ethiopian Airlines is conscientiously operating to make their Ethiopian Aviation Academy the best flying school in Africa. The Gold Award is a welcome addition to Ethiopian Airlines’ bevy of distinguished recognitions bestowed by different organizations in the industry, the latest of which is the ‘Airline of The Year for 2010 Award’ in the 43rd AFRAA Annual General Assembly.
Kenya Airways, Kenya’s largest airline and second-largest airline in sub-Saharan Africa, garnered the second highest number of votes earning the Silver Award. From its humble beginnings in 1977, Kenya airlines have proven its self-worth and steadily rose from the ranks to finally joining the global airlines service community as a full SkyTeam member. The airline has an impressive fleet of Boeing aircrafts and has serviced numerous transcontinental flights more than other African airlines.
In tangible conditions, within the next couple of decades, Kenya Airways aspires to progress towards a distinctly prominent airline in the African continent with dominant presence in Asia, the Americas and also the European countries, while maintaining a sophisticated fleet of aircraft. Kenya Airways promises to establish powerful relationships and continue to be a reputable associate of the international air travel network.
Not far behind in the tally of votes is the progressive Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest national airline, which got the Bronze Award. Precision Air is a pioneer in servicing scheduled, scenic and charter flight services from its three hubs in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Bukoba. The company believes comfortable, quick, and reliable service is the best way to go through its customer-focused approach.
Precision Air was established in 1991, starting operations in 1994. From being a crop sprayer, operations expanded to service the demand in the tourist industry, thus scheduled services commenced in 1999. By 2006 Precision Air passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit coveting the first and Tanzanian airline to pass that audit. In the 2007/08 financial year, it has carried 465,349 passengers, which increased to 538,305 in 2008/09.
African Aviation believes that votes made by its readership, composed of aviation professionals and well-seasoned travellers, were based on the airline companies’ growth, overall service, reputation and reliability.  The primary direction concerning commercial aviation lies in the fact that it is a very highly competitive and extremely unpredictable enterprise, whereby progress in performance and enhanced service provisions play significant roles in getting the consumers’ vote of confidence.
The crucial element to success within the industry depends on whether or not an airline has the capacity to distinctly prepare for the particular behavior of emerging transformation, the primary factors generating these transformations, and most importantly the capability to position its strategies to address a dynamic industry and aero-political community.
African Aviation, through its dedicated readers and followers, recognizes top industry organizations which have manifested excellent customer service, skills, ingenuity, creativity and success in Africa’s flourishing tourism industry. African Aviation's Airline of the Year Award is not just a measure of the airliners’ worth but stands for the valuable recognition from their satisfied clientele in all sectors of air travel industry. Once again, in pursuit of sustainable recognition and continuous support for the industry, African Aviation has launched the search for the “African Airline of the Year 2012/2013”.

Kenya Airways to enhance safety programme

Kenya Airways on Wednesday vowed to continue with its safety programmes in both airport and passenger safety including all ground operators and airline companies that run their businesses within the country's main airport.
Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said in Nairobi that the airline continuously enhances its safety operational systems in order to ensure safety and quality of service to its customers.
"As an airline that is seeking to strengthen its global presence, we have to ensure we adhere to the highest safety standards," Naikuni said in Nairobi when the International Air Travel Association (IATA) presented the airline with two certifications following a rigorous safety audit of the airline's operations.
The certifications are the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certificates.
"This will also help strengthen and sustain the confidence of our passengers as we seek to grow and open new markets," said Naikuni. He said the move to encompass all players in the safety program was in recognition that airport safety is a collective effort.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport serves about 4,000 KQ passengers and handles more than 100 aircraft arrivals and departures daily thus the need to enhance security. IOSA is an internationally accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. ISAGO aims to improve safety and cut airline costs by drastically reducing ground accidents and injuries.
Gaoussou Konate, the IATA regional director, commended the airline for its commitment to achieving the highest aviation safety standards. "We note that the airline has strived to enhance its safety performance. These certificates are issued after a rigorous audit under IATA standards," he said. The IATA safety audit comes with some benefits including reduced costs. Since it is internationally recognized, KQ will not have to undergo multiple safety audits in different jurisdictions.
By ensuring that its ground operations adhere to high safety standards, Kenya Airways will ensure its operational costs are low by minimizing damage. "Safe ground operations mean less accidents, less damage and therefore fewer audits," said Naikuni. The ground safety audits covered the period of June and July 2011.
Kenya Airways plans to expand its fleet from the current 34 aircraft to 107 in 10 years. To finance the acquisition of the aircraft, the airline is seeking to raise additional capital through a Rights Issue later this year to fund the acquisition of the new aircraft.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Emirates broadens its African network with Lusaka and Harare launch

Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing airlines, has extended its reach into Africa with the launch of a new linked flights to Harare and Lusaka. Now flying to 22 points within Africa, Emirates will connect Zambia and Zimbabwe to key markets across Europe, the Far East, Australasia and the Indian Subcontinent.

The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service operates every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday using an A330-200 aircraft in a three class configuration.EK 713 departs Dubai at 0925hrs, arriving in Lusaka at 1450hrs. The onward flights to Harare departs Lusaka at 1620hrs, reaching the Zimbabwean capital at 1720hrs. The return flight leaves Harare at 1920hrs, arriving Lusaka at 2020hrs. It departs Lusaka at 2150hrs, landing in Dubai at 0710hrs the next day.
"Zambia and Zimbabwe are both important emerging business and industrial centres, with economies that are projected to grow by over five per cent annually during the coming years," said Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President Revenue Optimisation & Distribution.
He said, "Emirates' new service will play a significant role in supporting this growth by connecting Lusaka and Harare to our worldwide network, opening new conduits for trade, investment and tourism."
On board today's flight were Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President Revenue Optimisation & Distribution; Jean Luc Grillet, Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Africa; Muhammed Riza, Manager Commercial Business Development; Duncan Watson, Emirates Regional Manager Cargo Commercial; The Honourable Given Lubinda, Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs; The Honourable Yamfwa Mukanga, Zambian Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications; The Honourable Fackson Shamenda, Zambian Minister of Tourism; the Honourable Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwean Minister of Transport; Marah Hativagone, Chairperson, Zimbabwean Tourism Council (ZTC); Rueben K. Walobele, Special Assistant to Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chitalu Kabalika, Aid to Zambian Minister of Transport; Agnes Chaila, Business Development Manager, National Airport Corporation Ltd. (NACL) and Cleophas Mathabire, Aid to the Zimbabwean Minister of Transport.
Upon arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Emirates' inaugural Flight 713 was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute.
"Emirates' decision to operate to Lusaka represents new economic doors being opened to our country. The fact that this airline, which is successful on all continents, is entering markets like ours as part of its expansion plans is clear evidence of excellent future prospects for Zambia and Zambians," said the Honourable Given Lubinda, the Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Emirates services to Lusaka will be a huge boost to its tourism industry, helping to support the Zambia Tourism Board's target for increasing visitor arrivals by 22.5% to one million visitors in 2012.
The onward connection to Harare, operated by Zimbabwean Captain Ca Busiso Ndlovu, also received a warm welcome at Harare International Airport. Later that evening, leading figures from the travel trade, local businesses and the government attended a gala dinner event which featured performances by local stars Victor Kunonga, Dudu Manhenga and Oliver Tuku.
"The arrival of Emirates flights to Zimbabwe is a very significant development for the market. We welcome the entrance of a truly global airline; with an extensive network, large fleet and great reputation for quality service which will greatly improve choice and connectivity for Zimbabwean travelers," said the Honourable Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwean Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development. "Emirates will bring greater capacity and fare competitiveness, which will certainly lead to traffic growth to and from Zimbabwe."
It is expected that Emirates' flights to Harare will support the Tourism Ministry's projections that the sector will contribute over $5bn to the Zimbabwean economy by 2015. To support the linked service, Emirates will promote Zambia and Zimbabwe's tourism attractions, including Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, game reserves and safaris, in advertising campaigns executed across the airline's global network. Emirates Holidays will also feature eight pages on Zimbabwe and Zambia in its 2012 World of Choice brochure.
With a fleet of 169 aircraft, Emirates is the world's largest Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 operator. The airline placed an order for 50 new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in November, bringing its total order book to 236 aircraft, worth over $84bn at list prices.
Following the launch of Lusaka and Harare, Emirates will start services to Dallas, Texas on 2nd February and Seattle on 1st March, Ho Chi Minh City on 4th June and Barcelona on 3rd July.

Singapore Airlines Begins Codesharing on Virgin Australia Domestic Flights

Singapore Airlines has commenced codesharing on Australian domestic flights operated by Virgin Australia, allowing a single booking to be made for flights feeding into or on from SQ's international services via Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
However, codesharing on international flights remains on the to-do list, with Singapore Airlines yet to nominate when this will begin.
Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines already share 'earn and burn' privileges for members of their respective  Velocity and KrisFlyer frequent flyer programs.
Virgin's point earning starts at a pleasingly full rate: SQ economy class gains you 1 Velocity point per mile, although allowances in premium cabins are less than you'd expect given the extra money you pay: only 1.25 Velocity points for business class, 1.5 for first class and 1.6 for the swish Singapore Airlines suites.
Also, while Virgin Australia's Velocity frequent flyers can earn points and status credits on SQ flights, KrisFlyer members can't earn Elite Miles – which count towards KrisFlyer Silver and Gold status – when travelling on Virgin Australia flights.
Another need-to-know in the Virgin/Singapore alliance are the rules regarding lounge access: only passengers travelling in Business Class or First Class on a Singapore Airlines-operated flight are allowed entry to SQ's swanky SilverKris Lounge at Singapore's Changi Airport.
If you're a Gold or Platinum member of Virgin Australia Velocity but  travelling in SQ economy your access is restricted to SQ’s KrisFlyer Gold Lounge (including the recently-renovated one in Changi T2 which doesn’t even have toilets, let alone showers).
At other airports worldwide, Velocity Gold and Platinum cardholders can get into any of SQ’s SilverKris Lounges around the world when flying with Singapore Airlines, regardless of ticket class – provided it’s a Singapore Airlines-owned and operated lounge.

Turkish Airlines cancels 70 flights over bad weather

Turkey's national air carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), has cancelled 70 flights on Wednesday due to bad weather conditions.
Turkey's national air carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), has cancelled 70 flights on Wednesday due to bad weather conditions.
Among THY's cancelled flights from Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport were those to Tel Aviv, Paris, Venice, Geneva, Madrid, Basel, Kiev, Tirana, Zagreb, Helsinki, Nice, Cairo, Naples, Hamburg, Tbilisi, Amsterdam and Ashkabat.
Some of THY's flights to Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Adana, Kayseri and Gaziantep were also cancelled on Wednesday.
THY's flights between Trabzon-Istanbul, Diyarbakir-Ankara and Malatya-Ankara will not take place on Wednesday due to bad weather.

Air France to cancel 40 pct of long-haul flights

Air France said on Wednesday it expected to cancel up to 40 percent of its long-haul flights and up to 30 percent of shorter flights as a pilot strike ran into its third day.
Air France has had to notify thousands of passengers of axed flights this week via email or text message.
On Tuesday, roughly one in two long and medium-haul flights were cut, but many passengers were re-routed on alternative flights, the airline said.
The SNPL pilots union says around half its members are participating in the action over plans by the conservative government to make strikers in the airline industry give two days' notice before any walkout. Currently, they are not required to give any notice.
The industrial action, which adds to travel disarray caused by freezing temperatures across Europe, was set to run until Thursday night.
French daily La Tribune, citing unnamed sources, said Air France loses roughly 15 million euros per day during a strike, before the cost of compensating passengers.
Transport Minister Thierry Mariani said earlier this week the government was determined to push through the legislation, which would let airlines plan minimum services during a strike rather than finding out on the day that staff have not showed up.
The legislation, adopted in the lower house of parliament in January, is to be taken up by the Senate in mid-February.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brazil privatises three airports

The Brazilian Government privatised operations at three of the nation's main airports this week, awarding US$14 billion ($16.8 billion) in contracts to three consortiums that will expand and run terminals amid demand ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
Improving airports plagued with bottlenecks, long lines and poor infrastructure was a key promise the Government made in its winning bid to host soccer's premier event. Hundreds of thousands of fans will fly between the 12 host cities for matches.
Brazil's airports have buckled under demand that tripled in the past decade. In 2002, airlines flew 34.3 million passengers on flights originating in Brazil. That rose to 107.8 million last year, Brazil's civil aviation agency reported.
The Government is also expected to auction the rights to run other airports, including Rio de Janeiro's international airport.
Infraero, the state-run agency, retains a 49 per cent stake in the privatised airports, which include the nation's busiest airport in Sao Paulo, along with those in Brasilia and in the city of Campinas in Sao Paulo state.

Together, the three airports are responsible for 30 per cent of Brazil's passenger traffic.
The 20-year contract to operate Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport was won by the Invepar consortium, 90 per cent of which is controlled by Brazil's Investimentos e Participacoes em Infraestrutura SA with the rest in the hands of the Airports Company South Africa.
Completing work on new terminals before the 2014 World Cup is the main challenge for the three consortiums. They will be fined US$87 million plus US$875 million for each day they are late after the cup begins.

Thai Airways to Start Direct Route Between Phuket and Stockholm

Thai Airways starts direct flights from Stockholm (Arlanda) to Phuket from the 1st of November 2012. The new route is good news to the many Swedes who each year travel to Phuket and those who use Phuket as a stop before the journey continues to the very popular Phi Phi Islands.
From the 1st of November 2012, aircraft from Thai Airways will begin departing every Thursday and Saturday. The time of departure is 20:45 from Arlanda Airport and the flight number of flightTG963. That basically means that there will be two aircraft from Thai Airways taking off from Arlanda every Thursday and Saturday.

Qatar Airways launched daily flights to Tbilisi, Georgia via Baku, Azerbaijan

Qatar Airways’ 2012 expansion programme is underway after the carrier launched scheduled daily flights to Tbilisi, Georgia via Baku, Azerbaijan.
Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, led a high-profile delegation on the Baku and Tbilisi inaugural flight QR976.
Guests included Eldar Salimov, ambassador of Azerbaijan to Qatar; Ekaterine Meiering-Mikadze, ambassador of Georgia to Qatar; and Abdul Razzaq Al Abdul Ghani, ambassador of Qatar to Turkey and Georgia.
The delegation was welcomed to Baku by Sheikh Mubarak Fahad Al Thani, ambassador of Qatar to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Addressing guests at the ceremony, Al Baker said Azerbaijan’s developing tourism industry and energy resources were key factors in Qatar Airways’ decision to start operations there.
“We assessed Azerbaijan as a destination with great potential that would create a new air corridor providing wider choices for both leisure and business travellers,” he said.
“Azerbaijan’s rich energy resources offer great business opportunities, and a landscape that provides a good base for family and independent tourism.
“As well as enabling visitors from around the world to visit Baku, we also look forward to providing Azerbaijanis with the opportunity to fly to global destinations on Qatar Airways via our Doha hub.
Flight QR976 continued to its final destination, Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi, where it was welcomed by an arrival ceremony at Tbilisi International Airport.
Addressing guests on arrival in Tbilisi, Al Baker said Georgia was a highly underserved part of Europe, which prompted the airline to consider opening up the route.
“Tbilisi becomes Qatar Airways’ 112th destination worldwide and it gives me great pleasure to celebrate our arrival here.
“We sincerely look forward to growing this route with additional capacity in the future and we look forward to welcoming more destinations into our ever increasing European network,” said Al Baker.
After inaugurating seven new routes across Europe last year, the addition of two cities in South Eastern Europe further diversifies Qatar Airways’ portfolio on the Continent.
Destinations currently served across Europe include Ankara, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Venice, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Madrid.
From Doha, the airline offers excellent onward connections to cities across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, including Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Entebbe, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Goa and Melbourne.
Qatar Airways is operating an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration on the Baku and Tbilisi routes, which features 12 seats in Business Class and up to 132 seats in Economy.
Regardless of class of travel, the aircraft offers all passengers seatback TVs to enjoy the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system with a choice of more than 900 audio and video on demand options.
Qatar Airways is considered as offering the World’s Leading Airline Business Class by the World Travel Awards.

Emirates Airline discounts offer up to 30 per cent

Emirates airline has announced a three-day sale offering customers discounts of up to 30 per cent to select destinations across its network.
The Emirates airline intends to maximise available seats on its flights to these destinations during this ‘slow’ period and is hoping that more travelers will take unplanned trips to avail of this offer.
“With less money spent on their flight, our passengers will have more to spend on the ground, perfect for an impromptu trip away,” said Khalid Bel Jaflah, Emirates Vice-President Commercial Sales UAE.
Available on selected return economy and business class tickets to 40 international destinations, the sale is valid for booking from today, Tuesday the February 7th, until Thursday, February 9, 2012.
According to a statement by Emirates, some of the most popular destinations included in this offer are expected to be: London, Dallas, Zurich, Beirut, Bangkok, Karachi, Paris and Mumbai. A number of Emirates’ newest destinations are also included in the offer such as Dallas, Seattle, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
“Whether travelling for leisure or business, our three-day sale provides customers with the opportunity to reach their desired destination for less,” added Bel Jaflah. To avail of this offer, outbound travel must commence on or before 10th June 2012.

Etihad Airways continues Africa expansion with new flights to Lagos, Nigeria

Etihad Airways today announced the launch of flights to Lagos, the airline’s first destination in West Africa, from July 1, subject to regulatory approvals.
The direct flights will link Abu Dhabi and Lagos six times a week and will be operated by a two class A330-200 aircraft with 22 Pearl Business class and 240 Coral Economy seats.
Lagos becomes the 83rd destination in Etihad Airways’ global network and the return flights will create a new link between Nigeria, Africa’s third largest economy, and the United Arab Emirates.
Following the launch of services to the Seychelles in November 2011, Tripoli last month and Nairobi in April, the addition of Nigeria marks another milestone in Etihad Airways’ African expansion plans.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The launch of flights to Lagos is consistent with our strategy of targeting areas of strong growth in emerging markets.
“The United Arab Emirates is a major trade partner of Nigeria, which has a population of more than 150 million people, the largest in Africa and the seventh biggest in the world.
“The country is rich in natural resources, such as oil and natural gas. Our new point-to-point services will strengthen the oil and gas links between the UAE and Nigeria and facilitate further growth in these industries.
”The country is also enjoying strong economic growth driven by significant foreign investment, particularly from China, which means there is increasing demand for travel between Lagos and other emerging economies.
“The Lagos schedule will provide seamless connections over Abu Dhabi to key North and Southeast Asian destinations and markets in the India Subcontinent and Australia.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Emirates announces triple daily service to Milan

Emirates is driving forward its operations in Europe by announcing a third daily flight to Milan from 1st June, taking to 49 the number of weekly flights offered to Italy.
EK 101 will leave Dubai at 0340hrs and arrive in Milan Malpensa at 0825hrs, ready for business in the city considered the engine room of Italy’s economy and home to the nation’s stock exchange.
The return flight, EK 102, departs Milan at 1110hrs and arrives in Dubai at 1920hrs. The new service will be operated by a 237-seat Airbus A330-200 in a three-class configuration.
“Our European network is growing stronger and stronger and a number of important developments are taking place in Italy,” said Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation. “This is another significant investment in the Italian market and we look forward to offering further choice and excellent value for money to travellers and businesses, including the cargo community.”
The extra A330-200 flight brings an additional 15 tonnes of daily cargo capacity to an already active cargo route.
The latest expansion in Italy comes after news that the airline’s Venice flight would go twice daily from 25th March. Launched in 2007, The Venice service remains the only non-stop passenger flight to and from Dubai.
“Our expansion in Europe is particularly significant in these challenging economic times. We are creating and supporting jobs in the travel industry and many other related sectors, while opening up new markets to importers and exporters,” added Obaidalla.
With a fleet of 169 aircraft, Emirates is now flying to 121 destinations, having just launched Dallas, Lusaka and Harare.