By Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, Standard Chartered
The news that Dubai has overtaken London Heathrow as the world’s busiest international airport is a timely reminder that not all Middle East economies are dependent on energy as a mainstay of growth and job creation.
With oil prices plunging 60 per cent, much attention is justifiably focused on the Middle East’s traditional dependence on hydrocarbons. But it is easy to overlook a few oases of economic activity that are not only uncorrelated with oil but also starting to achieve meaningful, critical economic mass. Read more
Might another unlikely partnership with a growing Gulf airline save a second ailing national carrier in south east Europe? Slovenia appears to hope so, as it has reportedly offered Qatar Airways a stake in Adria Airways, which the Ljubljana government is lining up for privatisation. The prospect of a Qatari takeover is tenuous, not least due to the Slovenian airline’s difficulties. But the offer is nonetheless intriguing as it highlights both growing interest from non-European carriers in European aviation and the progress of Slovenia’s privatisation programme. Read more
Carlos Slim’s telecoms empire may be being chopped down to size in Mexico but his influence in his home country looks anything but on the wane – indeed, it could be set for a brand new take-off in the shape of the Mexico City airport.
It’s all speculation so far but not only is Carso, one of the groups in Slim’s empire, reported to be interested in bidding for the expected $9bn project, but his son-in-law Fernando Romero, in partnership with Britain’s Norman Foster, is believed to have won a contract to design what will be President Enrique Peña Nieto’s crown jewel infrastructure project. Read more
By Mark Tierney of Crabtree Capital
The International Air Transport Association has just produced a terrific new report: Transforming Intra-African Air Connectivity. The study, according to Tony Tyler, IATA’s boss, “demonstrates beyond doubt the tremendous potential for African aviation if the [regulatory] shackles are taken off… The additional services generated by liberalization between just 12 key markets will provide an extra 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP… Aviation is a force for good, and plays a major role in helping to reach the African Union’s mission of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.” Read more
As international budget airlines begin to make headway in the Russian market, Aeroflot has launched its own version of easyJet. Passengers crammed aboard the maiden flight from Moscow to – guess where? – Crimea on Tuesday were waved off by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister. Read more
Simferopol airport: all change
Ukraine’s aviation market has been badly hit by the political turmoil surrounding Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Airlines have been forced to cut flights and adjust networks due to a significant decline in passenger traffic.
Mid-sized commercial carrier Dniproavia issued a statement on Monday saying it would “optimize the operations grid”. Read more
Lufthansa, the German airline, summed up the contract dispute raging at Mexico City’s airport this week: its boss said he had no clue with whom he should be signing a lease for rental of terminal space.
Why? Airport operator AICM and Fumisa, an infrastructure company controlled by international private equity fund Advent, are at loggerheads over contracts – and they’re now at the “we’ll see you in court” level. Read more
By Georges Elhedery of HSBC
For centuries, the Middle East provided obvious trade hubs for merchants as they travelled between the east and the west. This pattern is being repeated now, as air travel in emerging markets takes off. The focus of the airline industry is shifting eastwards and the Middle East’s prime location at the crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe means it is once again an important gateway for travel.
The rapid economic growth of emerging markets such as China has led to an increase in wealth and created a growing middle class that is keen to see the world. Since 2007 air travel in emerging markets has risen by 55 per cent*, and this trend is expected to continue. Read more
Malaysia is not a market littered with private equity deals. Nor is the wider region of southeast Asia. Dealmakers have struggled with relatively high asset prices in Indonesia, and governance and other concerns in Malaysia and Vietnam.
But on Wednesday KKR, the big US-based private equity firm, closed a deal to invest Rm642m ($200m) in Weststar Aviation Services, a company that operates helicopters for the offshore oil and gas business. Read more
Somaliland, a small, fragile economy struggles for a regional role against the odds. Katrina Manson, East Africa correspondent reports on the new airport recently built in the capital Hargeisa.
The Republic of Macedonia, which is hoping for a double-digit rise in its tourism sector this year will be pleased with news of swelling passenger numbers at the country’s two international airports.
In August, a key month for tourism in the former Yugoslav republic, Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport saw 115,000 passengers through its gates, a 23 per cent jump on the same month last year, TAV Macedonia, the airports’ operator, said this week. Read more
In China, military license plates are even better than diplomatic ones. In addition to bestowing blanket immunity from all manner of traffic violations, they also inspire fear in the hearts of other drivers.
A similar sense of entitlement has long been enjoyed by Chinese military pilots. The People’s Liberation Army air force controls 80 per cent of the country’s not so friendly skies, leaving just 20 per cent of the ether for the fast-growing civil aviation sector. In the US, the airspace split is the other way round: 20 per cent military, 80 per cent civilian. Read more
Solyom Hungarian Airways, the new Hungarian airline that is promising to serve 96 destinations with a fleet of 50 jets by 2017, has barely launched its website, let alone a fully loaded aeroplane – before coming under attack.
And from an unusual source: Wizz Air, a low-fare airline in Central and Eastern Europe, is normally a low-key player when it comes to commenting on rivals – certainly it eschews the headline-grabbing verbal fireworks associated with Ryanair. But a statement by Wizz on Thursday was a little more spiky than usual. Read more
Not many new airlines introduce themselves with a language lesson and explanations of cultural symbolism. But then, Hungary’s newest carrier seems determined to set itself apart from the bargain-basement airlines that have emerged around Europe in the past decade.
Solyom Hungarian Airways positively shuns the no-frills approach, saying its operating model will be that of a “traditional network airline” with two passenger classes on short-range flights and three on long-haul. It wants to expand fast. But there are a few unanswered questions so far… Read more
Edward Snowden must be getting a lot of sympathy in China, at least among those fed up with being stranded at airports. Delayed flights are a common experience and it’s getting worse. Why is it so hard to get flights on time in China?
Airport outrage has exploded into more and more violent encounters between passengers and airport staff. Click here for a video showing one recent example from Beijing Airport. Read more
When your neighbours’ aviation businesses are struggling to survive, you would, probably, postpone the launch of a new carrier in your own country. But Lithuania has proved that it is ready to take a risk. Newly established commercial carrier Air Lituanica has started operations with flights between Vilnius and Brussels. Read more
After Colombia’s Grupo Aval last week and Peru’s Graña y Montero earlier this week, it’s the turn of Volaris Aviation, the Mexican budget airline, to make its way to Wall Street on Thursday.
The company, which describes itself as an “ultra-low-cost carrier” (ULCC), filed with the SEC to raise $100m in an initial public offering. Read more
Has India’s airline industry finally turned a corner? Possibly.
According to a new report from CAPA, the centre for aviation, total loss made by India’s airlines was “only” $1.65bn in the fiscal year ended this March. While that’s still a big loss, it’s a marked improvement from the $2.28bn loss recorded in the previous 12-month period. Read more
It was quite an occasion for leaders from over 50 African countries when they met a few days ago to celebrate the Organisation of African Union/African Union’s 50th anniversary.
But behind the golden anniversary pomp, the dark issue of the organisation’s funding casts a shadow on its plans to fulfil its dreams. The AU, criticised for being dependent on Western cash, seeks to raise more of its funds from members, not least by a controversial tourism tax. Read more