Just a quick note to tell you that way out over in our sister blog Left Field, there's a post outlining a bitter dispute that pits the Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, the FAA, and some thinkers against the airline industry, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and some other thinkers. The FAA is set to auction off a set of landing slots at the Newark Liberty airport near New York City, and the port, which owns the airport, as well as the Air Transport Association and a New York senator, are trying to block it. Even though the September 3 auction has been postponed, the issue and the precedent it will set are far from settled.
August 2008 Archives
Consolidation activity appears to be hotting up in Europe. The latest is that Lufthansa has decided to put its fingers in more pies with a plan to acquire a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines parent SN Airholding.
The German carrier also confirmed to Airline Business sister publication Air Transport Intelligence recently that it is interested in the available stake in Austrian Airlines. Lufthansa has already acquired Swiss and appears to be intent on spreading its wings further to solidify its position as a European heavyweight.
Meanwhile, the future of Alitalia could also finally become clear later today with the Italian government set to make an announcement on a re-launch of the beleaguered carrier. The big question is, will Air France-KLM still want a piece of the pie?
An elderly woman in Sweden is reported to have accidentally checked herself in as baggage after misunderstanding what to do at the baggage belt.
According to the report, the 78-year-old climbed on to the luggage belt at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and was whisked away down the chute where she was met by baffled baggage handlers.
I find it hard to believe that nobody was around to witness her mistake and escort her off the baggage belt before she disappeared behind the curtain.
Luckily the woman is reported not to have suffered any injuries and later caught her flight to Germany. Maybe she just couldn't face queuing for security and instead decided to chance her luck with a more direct route.
Ever wanted to bomb along the runway in an airport fire truck and give a mighty blast on the water cannon?
OK, not in a real life incident of course, but for fun?
Now could be the chance, for move over Playstation and Nintendo Wii, Singapore's Aviation Academy has installed the world's first airport fire-fighting vehicle driving simulator.
It comes equipped with a full motion simulator - just like its aircraft simulator cousins - and can simulate day and night driving.
The sim was developed with Chartered Asia Technology Enterprise, a Singapore-based firm that specialises in airport-related technology and services.
It may seem ironic, being one of the fastest growing airlines in the world with a huge amount of aircraft on order, but Emirates is touting its commitment to protecting the environment.
In a press release, the carrier says it has adopted "a new environmental policy for the Emirates Group, a global staff awareness campaign and internal goals to reduce energy consumption and waste, as well as increase recycing and training".
The programme is entitled Emvironment, which at first I thought was a spelling error but no, it's a good old amalgamation of two words. Catchy. You can read more about the airline's emvironmental commitments here.
Heavily involved in all this is Emirates vice-president public and environmental affairs Andrew Parker, who says: "From an environmental perspecitve, Emirates has much to be proud of, particularly our advanced fleet and use of technology to minimise our footprint.
"While much of this work has been underway for many years, the new Emvironment programme will provide a strategic underpinning to further improve our environmental performance."
Emirates is not the only airline shouting about its commitment to saving the earth - see our recent feature "Seen to be green" to see what others are doing to try and hammer home this message.
We are going to blow our own trumpet a little bit here - so apologies in advance!
Airline Business has just published our 2008 World Airline Ranking - it is, as you can imagine, a major effort, collecting financial and traffic data from the globe's leading carriers. The result, we claim, is the industry's most independent and comprehensive ranking.
Now some carriers are not all that keen to give us this information - Iran Air, Aerolineas Argentinas and Mexicana for example. This is for a variety of reasons: perhaps their financial figures are not finalised, perhaps they don't even know, perhaps they are privately held and are not inclined to tell us (if you know do tell us).
So, sometimes, we produce an estimate. This work is performed by our data team under the expert guidance of Antonio Panariello. He uses plenty of smoke and mirrors and guesswork of course, but mostly bases the estimates on previous trends, traffic growth etc.
It was with some pleasure that Antonio can report that our estimate for the revenues of Philippine Airlines for 2007 of $1.5 billion, a rise of 8.3% over the 2006 data, was spot on, according to preliminary results just issued by PAL.
Well done Antonio! We will report on his team's continuing success (or otherwise) as more results come out for the likes of Air India, El Salvador's TACA or Gulf Air.
To buy the World Airline Rankings issue of Airline Business contact Laura Wood of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or to get the World Airline Rankings on spreadsheet contact Daniel Sedman at email@example.com
The UK Competition Commission's long-awaited provisional ruling on BAA's ownership of seven UK airports is harsher than many expected, but is arguably what's needed to improve conditions at London's airports.
The CC today said that two of BAA's three London airports should be sold, along with either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
It's highly unlikely that BAA will let go of Heathrow, so it looks like Gatwick and Stansted will be looking for new owners next year.
Airlines that use BAA's airports and have been complaining for some time about the high fees and lack of service that they attribute to monopoly ownership have predictably welcomed today's provisional ruling.
EasyJet congratulates the ruling, but says the break-up is only worthy of a bronze medal, whereas the gold medal would go to better regulation.
And Ryanair, which has been scathing in its relentless attacks on Stansted, reminded everybody today that it had "long called for the break-up of this abusive monopoly, which ignores the needs of airlines and the travelling public and charges rip-off prices for abysmal services".
As anyone who has travelled through either Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted can attest, the level of service often leaves a lot to be desired. Overcrowded, understaffed and unpleasant are three words that come to my mind. Hopefully things will improve when all three airports are competing with one another under separate ownership.
However, it looks like BAA does not plan to give up without a fight. In a statement today, the airports operator, which is owned by Spain's Ferrovial, said it will "continue to point out to the Commission the many areas where we believe its analysis is flawed and its remedies would be disproportionate and counter-productive".
The CC will publish its final report on the matter in the first quarter of 2009. What are your thoughts? Has the CC made a fair assessment? And would things improve under separate ownership?
Having failed to be named as the successor to long-time Qantas head Geoff Dixon, it comes as no surprise to this watcher of airline boardroom rotation to see its chief financial officer Peter Gregg deciding to quit the Australian carrier.
Gregg, 53, (above) missed out to fast-rising Alan Joyce, the young Irish-Australian who has led its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar to immediate profitability and strong brand recognition.
Today Lufthansa announced that its chief financial officer Stephan Gemkow has joined the 11-man board of US low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways.
Gemkow takes the second of Lufthansa's two seats on JetBlue's board - the other has already been filled by Swiss CEO Christoph Franz.
The fact that these highly placed executives in the Lufthansa Group are going to help shape JetBlue's strategic direction is remarkable and are significant moves demonstrating the importance that the German carrier places on its new US partner.
It's not all gold medals and national anthems, you know.
Some airlines are actually seeing a marked downturn in their traffic to China specifically because of the Olympic Games, which are currently being held in Beijing.
I learned this at a meeting yesterday in London with Finnair chief financial officer Lasse Heinonen and vice-president of financial communications and investor relations Taneli Hassinen.
As the Finnair guys briefed myself and my colleagues, David Kaminski-Morrow of Air Transport Intelligence and Olivier Bonnassies of Commercial Aviation Online, about the latest goings on at the Finnish carrier, we got talking about their strong focus on flights between Europe and Asia.
Here's what Mr Heinonen had to say: "The Olympics have been bad for airlines. Visas have been very hard to obtain, so travel to and from China has been difficult."
He added that Finnair's second-quarter load factors between Europe and Asia were 68%, a decrease of eight percentage points compared to the same time last year, and "China played a major role" in this.
This looks like being yet another stick to beat the airlines with, alongside record high oil prices and a global economic downturn. Still, I shouldn't think "the world's greatest Olympian" Michael Phelps will be losing any sleep over it!
Well the answer is no - at least not yet.
The reason I ask is that United Airlines thought they had. At least someone at United did. And that someone said so on their voluminous website. This is what they said:
United is a founding member of Star AllianceTM, the airline network that offers more than 18,000 daily flights to approximately 975 destinations in over 162 countries. To find out more about the first global airline alliance and its worldwide reach, visit Star
"In addition, Air
Our data analyst Antonio Panariello came across this note while researching the alliances for the Airline Business annual examination of the state of the various tie-ups and partnerships between carriers.
It might seem a harsh question, but one some are asking of the former darling of the Middle East airline world Gulf Air.
This article from the FT is a good run through the issues, and is also notable for having nabbed my colleague and editor of Flight International Murdo Morrison for a quote or two.
His view: "Gulf Air's decline reflects the shift in the centre of gravity of the Gulf towards the Emirates in particular - it seems almost like an anachronism now."
Our own David Kaminski-Morrow, who keeps a close eye on Gulf Air, also talked to its CEO Bjorn Naf not too long ago, where he described the carrier's intention to grow - a must or it will be smothered.
Here's a recent Flightglobal story on Gulf Air's view on alliances,
During the two weeks of my annual holiday it seems that one carrier has been at the centre of the news for a variety of reasons.
British Airways is at the centre of the latest consolidation efforts with its merger proposal with Iberia, and it is in transatlantic alliance talks with American Airlines.
Now there is the latest chapter in the price-fixing cases - and this time it is getting really serious.