There was no disguising the subdued, even solemn, mood of Europe’s regional airlines as they gathered for their annual general assembly in Salzburg, Austria, from October 1 to 3. At 6.3 percent, passenger growth for the first half of this year is markedly down from the double-digit growth enjoyed in recent years and, more seriously, yields are down right across the industry.
To fly BE or to Flybe is the question that may confuse UK regional airline passengers, since British European Airlines announced on July 18 its plans to rebrand its services.
India appears to have ruled out any early prospect of increased international competition among its airlines. The move will disappoint recent start-up operators looking for a relaxation of current policy that bars Indian carriers with less than five years’ experience from international routes.
Airlines in the Asia Pacific region have become key global players and should have a greater say in industry issues, according to Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). “The growing influence of Asia Pacific needs to be matched by stronger engagement in key international policy issues,” he told AIN.
Asia accounts for 25 percent of the world’s air traffic, a figure expected to grow to more than 30 percent in three years, largely thanks to the proliferation of low-cost carriers. With cheap fares, easy online bookings and direct connections to previously sleepy backwaters, budget carriers are bringing air travel to the masses in this part of the world.
February 17 will see the launch of scheduled business aircraft services linking Geneva, London and Paris. Club Airways is a private membership service that will market seats in Learjet 45s operated through Bombardier’s Flexjet Europe program at fares that will be roughly 50-percent higher than equivalent fully flexible business-class tickets.
A steady rise in traffic and load factors might seem like good news for the airline delegates gathered at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Vienna from September 29 to October 1. But as airlines turn to “fierce cost cutting” to attract passengers, reality muted any calls for celebration during the three-day event.
Six months ago, when 10 new states joined the European Union (EU), the lifting of trade and political barriers enlarged the world’s largest borderless marketplace to 450 million people. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta joined the existing 15 member states on May 1. In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania are likely to join the EU, with Croatia and Turkey to follow eventually.
The story that tells the economic fortunes of smaller metropolitan airfields in Europe is very much a tale of several cities. Many find themselves in a veritable “Catch-22”–they can expand their operations as long as arriving and departing aircraft meet local neighborhood rules. But increased services aggravate negative public perception of the noise they generate.
UAE low-fare carrier Air Arabia yesterday ordered 34 Airbus A320 single-aisle airliners, with delivery to begin in 2012, and took options on an additional 15. Delivery of the aircraft will eventually more than triple the carrier’s current fleet of 10 leased A320s. Chief executive Adel Abdullah Ali, said Air Arabia’s fleet will double by 2010 and grow to 50 by 2015.