Egyptair nears pre-crisis capacity levels

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Star Alliance member Egyptair, which early this year placed a third of its fleet up for temporary lease to counter the threat of losses from its country's political upheaval, has nearly returned to former capacity levels.

"We have almost six aircraft out of 67 on the ground. Everything else that was leased out is back," said Egyptair vice-president alliances Mohamed Soliman today at Airline Business' Alliances, Joint Ventures and Partnerships conference in Rome.

He added: "We are fortunately happy to be once again in the position to offer customers the full range of flights and services they used to get from us."

The airline faced a capacity crisis following the three-week uprising that eventually ousted President Hosni Mubarak in mid-February. After the first week, the airline's revenues were down by 80%, operations ran at only 50% and loads "were running at about 30%", said Soliman. "Employees were asked to contribute with ideas for cost savings," he said, noting that "many came out with brilliant ideas".

The carrier reached out to fellow Star carriers when it sought to temporarily lease aircraft. It also received help from alliance management, and communicated with other Star members affected by the crisis.

"Previously we have known that being a member of the alliance has been [of] tremendous value. Our customers have enjoyed lots of benefits over this including the global reach of the network, the loyalty programmes and priority services," said Soliman. But during the crisis Egyptair discovered how "being a member of a big, effective alliance" can be crucial.