As part of its planned expansion in Europe, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways intends to increase its ownership stake in Air Berlin to 29 percent, a move that would make it the largest single shareholder in Germany’s second largest airline.
Air charter group Spot Air is expanding its services into additional European countries after experiencing significant growth during the past two years. Headquartered in Cairo, the Spot Group (Stand C720) includes Spot Air Egypt, Spot Reisen in Germany, Spot Air UK, EU Air and partner company Astra Associated Services in Italy.
Business aircraft passengers and crew will be able to clear all U.S. customs, immigration and agriculture procedures at Ireland’s Shannon Airport starting on March 1, following the long-anticipated approval granted yesterday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The arrangements allow non-U.S. operators and their passengers to fly direct from Shannon to any airport in the U.S. as if they were making a domestic flight.
European low-cost carrier Ryanair has entered “early negotiations” to order 200 to 300 new Boeing 737-800s or Airbus A320-series airliners in the coming two years. The equipment, which includes replacement capacity, would support continued expansion during the 2012 to 2017 timeframe, with Ryanair potentially benefiting from any decline in aircraft prices during the current recession.
Rising demand for business aviation in the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is flying in the face of a decline in the West, according to Dubai-based flight support and ground handling provider Palm Aviation. The company is still seeing demand for flights into the Middle East from the U.S. and Europe and has confirmed plans to expand its operations into both Europe and Saudi Arabia.
FBO Ireland started business jet handling at Dublin Airport last month, operating out of the main terminal. The Shannon-based group is now negotiating to open a new executive facility at Dublin. Next month, FBO Ireland is scheduled to start business aircraft handling at Ireland’s Cork Airport.
One of Aer Arann’s busiest areas must be its personnel department: “We have experienced huge growth in the past two years, particularly in flight crew and operations. Given our current rate of growth, flight crew [numbers] have grown above 30 percent per year and will continue at 15 to 20 percent,” according to head of operations John Halpin.
Aer Arann performs its own line maintenance, with base checks contracted to TAT at Dinard in northern France, said COO Peter McKenna. Components go to sister company Aer Arann Islands in Connemara. The airline employs 25 maintenance staff, and generally adds two or three people with each additional aircraft.
In an industry where airlines have all too often been run by aviators instead of businessmen, Aer Arann chief executive Padraig O’Ceidigh (pronounced ‘O’Kaygee’) has brought a cautious–if not typically Irish–approach to the airline. “The most important word in business is ‘no’,” he asserts.
Irish regional airline Aer Arann underscored its willingness to challenge air transport convention over the summer when it opened the first direct air link between Belfast and Dublin in eight years. But a little more than two months later, economic pragmatism trumped any political or symbolic value the new route might have carried, when CEO Padraig O’Ceidigh ended the experiment almost as abruptly as it began.
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