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25 fast facts on the 25th anniversary of Emirates October 25, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, UAE.
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Emirates, the national airline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates celebrates its 25th anniversary today. With a capital of $10 million (AED 36.7 million) and 2 used Boeing 727-200 aircraft in 1985, Emirates has come a long way to be one of the world’s leading airlines.

Here are 25 fast facts on Emirates.

  1. Emirates operates over 2,400 passenger flights per week from Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 105 cities in 62 countries across 6 continents.
  2. Emirates is one of the only nine airlines in the world to operate an all wide-body aircraft fleet. They don’t do small, baby!
  3. Emirates has 151 aircraft in its fleet including 7 freighters and is among the youngest in the skies, with an average age of 69 months.
  4. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s with 86 aircraft in fleet & 55 on order.
  5. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380s with 13 aircraft in fleet & a whopping 77 on order.
  6. Emirates generates 36.5% of its revenue from Europe & Americas & spends 35.1% of its revenue on fuel.
  7. Emirates operates three of the ten world’s longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
  8. Emirates is the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried.
  9. In 2010, Emirates was the sixth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried and largest  in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometres flown.
  10. In 2010, Emirates was voted the eighth best airline in the world by Skytrax.
  11. On 8 June 2010, at the Berlin Air show, Emirates ordered 32 A380s worth $11.5 billion. The deal was the biggest single order for the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
  12. Emirates currently flies A380s to 11 cities around the world and resumes its A380 service to New York JFK on 31 October 2010.
  13. Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 was built exclusively for the use of Emirates at a cost of $4.5 billion and officially opened 14 October 2008. Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world by floor space, with over 1,500,000 sq. m. (370 acres) of space.
  14. Emirates ranks as the largest airline in the world by international seating capacity, according to the latest annual report by IATA.
  15. Emirates plans to have over 320 aircraft by 2018.
  16. In 2009, Emirates was voted the second best First Class by Skytrax.
  17. Emirates became the first airline in the world to introduce a personal entertainment system on a commercial aircraft after introducing the world’s first seat-back screens in 1992.
  18. ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) is the in-flight entertainment system operated by Emirates, and features between 600 and 1000 channels, the largest offering in the world.
  19. Skywards, the frequent flyer programme of Emirates has 5.72 million members.
  20. Emirates has been involved in two of the largest football sponsorship deals ever seen. Its 2004 agreement with Arsenal, which included stadium naming rights, was worth around US $170 million. Its seven year deal with FIFA, signed in 2007, cost a reported US $195 million.
  21. Emirates has only had 3 incidents in its 25 years of history and has never had a casualty. Hope the exemplary record remains.
  22. Emirates employs 10,785 cabin crew from over 120 countries speaking over 80 languages. Their uniforms are designed by Simon Jersey plc.
  23. You can buy an Emirates A380 1:50 Scale Solid Aircraft Model from the official Emirates Online Store for $3300 here.
  24. According to a Wharton article, Maurice Flanagan, the current Executive Vice-Chairman of Emirates so hates the word “marketing” that he essentially banned the use of the term at Emirates. One time when he found that 11 of the firm’s 20,000 employees had the word “marketing” in their job title, he moved them to other positions.
  25. In the year of its 25th anniversary, Emirates announced revenues of US$11.8 billion and net profit up a massive 416% to $964 million.
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40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
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Launches 40th destination ahead of 40th National Day of Oman.

Pic credit: Christophe Selzere, JetPhotos.Net

Congratulations to Oman Air, the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, who launched Kathmandu, its 40th destination today. 2010 is of great significance for the Sultanate as it marks the 40th National Day of Oman (the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is on 18 November). Every corporate in the country is involved in a marketing activity to do with the #40, so it is great to see Oman Air celebrate in a unique manner by launching their 40th route.

Oman Air commenced operations in 1993. It achieved modest growth as a privately owned regional player till 2007, when the Government of Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, designated Oman Air as national carrier, recapitalized it and focused on developing it as an international airline. In 2007, Oman Air went long-haul by launching Bangkok and London. From then on, there has been no looking backwards for Oman Air, with a penchant of doing business differently from its bigger cousins in the region.

Pic credit: Smit ZhiFei, JetPhotos.Net

Oman Air - Flying High

2008 saw a slew of changes at Oman Air. In February 2008, Oman Air unveiled its new branding and aircraft livery as a part of its plans to go international. The characteristic Red, White and Green national colors and traditional Khanjar gave way to Turquoise Blue, Silver and Gold along with a Frankincense smoke plume in an effort to project Oman Air as the new wings of Oman and the ambassador of a nation known for its timeless traditions, vibrant heritage and legendary hospitality.

The year also saw the launch of new routes to the Indian Sub-Continent and the unveiling of a new fleet and long-haul route expansion program. In July 2008, industry veteran and former chief executive of Srilankan Airlines, Mr. Peter Hill took over as the new CEO of Oman Air following the untimely demise of CEO Ziad bin Karim Al Haremi, who played a stellar role in initiating the redevelopment and change of image of Oman Air.

2009 was truly a bellwether year for Oman Air. Under the leadership of Mr. Peter Hill and a revitalized management team, Oman Air went all out to dazzle the industry in a year of superlative achievements. The year witnessed in rapid succession the arrival of the first of Oman Air’s brand new A330s, the launch of Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Male and Colombo, the unveiling of new Balenciaga designed uniforms, the launch of industry-leading First, Business and Economy Class cabins on the A330 fleet. A $10 million destination marketing campaign in association with Ministry of Tourism saw both Oman and Oman Air make great inroads into European markets. During the 2009 Dubai Air Show, Oman Air finalized an order for 5 Embraer 175 aircraft with another 5 options.

Oman Air First Class Cabin

Oman Air Business Class - 1st in world to offer 4-abreast seating in cabin

In 2010, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight mobile and WiFi connectivity through OnAir onboard its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. It is interesting to note that Oman Air covered impressive strides during a period when the airline industry was weathering a downturn.

Having made significant investments in infrastructure and improving its products and services over the last few years, the future looks robust for Oman Air. The airline has a strategic vision of differentiating itself from its regional competitors by being a niche boutique airline that is focused on driving point-to-point traffic rather than being a hub-and-spoke carrier.

The results of ‘Change is on its way’ and ‘Discover the future of air travel’ are promising. During the first half of 2010, Oman Air saw a 40% increase in available seat-kilometres, a 73% rise in revenue passenger-kilometres and a 14 point improvement in seat factor, over the same period last year with passenger numbers up by 46% and cargo by 44%.

Along with the ongoing development of Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is playing a key role in the development of 4 domestic airports coming up in Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Duqm. In October 2010, Oman Air will launch Milan as its 41st route. The airline will take delivery of its 7th A330 in 2011along with the first of Embraer jets that will ply on domestic routes. Plans are on to refurbish the existing B737 fleet to the same standards as the luxurious A330 fleet. Oman Air will take delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner in 2014 (the airline will be acquiring them from ALAFCO). The first of 6 737s on order are expected to arrive in 2014 as well.

The fortunes of Oman Air will be tied to the successful joint promotion of Oman as a must-visit luxury destination by both Oman Air and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism (a point Mr. Hill emphasizes often to fill the birds), development of ancillary services related to hospitality, tourism, ground services etc., and a continual improvement of travel services in a region that offers unparalleled choice to the flying public and intense competition between regional legacy carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways who are truly global in their reach and cut-throat Low Cost Carriers such as Flydubai and Air Arabia.


Mabrook, Oman Air. More power to your wings. Fly higher for Oman!

Great value Eid holiday airfares from Muscat to 15 cities around the world August 26, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
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The Eid holidays are upon us and there is very much a chance that those in Oman will get a week off from Thursday, 9th of September 2010 to Wednesday, 15th of September 2010(?).

If that happens, happy long week holidays to all you.

And just in case, if you are planning to fly out of town, here’s a quick look at airfares in Muscat.

Understandably, most of you must have already booked your tickets, especially to India. If not, you can use this guide to snap up the last remaining deals.

From my research, Bangkok looks like the cheapest value long-haul destination to fly to. And towards India, Air India Express continues its reign as the best great value airline to fly to that part of the world. Flying out on Thursday, Wednesday, 15th of September 2010 will prove to be more expensive that any other day, as most people would want to start their holiday at the break of the weekend. If you can fly out on Friday, 10th of September or Saturday, 11th of September, you can save a couple of Rials. Lastly, flying on a low-cost airline such as Flydubai, Air India Express or Air Arabia can get you a better value than a full-service airline. And it goes without saying that the fares will rise as we get closer to Eid.

These airfares apply on a single adult, return journey from Muscat and are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges. They are valid as of 26 August 2010, 1pm – Oman time.

Journey dates: outbound – Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound – Wednesday, 15th of September 2010, unless mentioned next to the itinerary. All journeys are non-stop, unless indicated.

Let’s roll with the fares.

1.    Cochin: MCT-COK-MCT: 194 Rials on Jet Airways.

2.    Mumbai: MCT-MUM-MCT: 131 Rials on Air India.

3.    Trivandrum: MCT-TRV-MCT: 196 Rials on Jet Airways. 176 Rials on Air India Express if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

4.    Calicut/Kozhikode: MCT-CCJ-MCT: 142 Rials on Air India Express.

5.   Delhi: MCT-DEL-MCT: 140 Rials on Air India Express. 134 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

6.    Mangalore: MCY-IXE-MCT: 184.5 Rials on Air India Express, if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

7.    Dubai: MCT-DXB-MCT: 38 Rials on Flydubai.

8.    Bangkok: MCT-BKK-MCT: 153 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha & change of aircraft in Doha.

9.   Kuala Lumpur: MCT-KUL-MCT: 241 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover & change of aircraft in Doha.

10.   London Heathrow: MCT-LHR-MCT: 259 Rials on British Airways with stopover at Abu Dhabi, no aircraft change.

11.    Amman: MCT-AMM-MCT: 209.860 Rials on Flydubai with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

12.    Cairo: MCT-CAI-MCT: 232 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

13.    Frankfurt: MCT-FRA-MCT: 225 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

14.    Colombo: MCT-CMB-MCT: 192 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

15.    Kathmandu: MCT-KTM-MCT: 123.700 Rials on Oman Air, if outbound: Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

To get these offers, visit the respective airline website, check with your travel agent or head to Expedia.  Please note that air fares of Oman Air, Air India Express &  Flydubai are not listed on Expedia.

The best cabin crew uniform in Indian skies August 17, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Travel.
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Close on the heels of JetLite unveiling their new cabin crew uniforms, IndiGo has decided to go for the PanAm designer look and shake up the skies.

Let’s have a fun contest today to find out the best cabin crew uniform in the Indian skies.

Who looks the sizzling best? Feel free to vote for your favorite airline uniform in the poll that follows the pictures. I pick Jet Airways.

* (Apologies for the ‘poor’ GoAir pic! Do share if you find a better one!)

Air India / Air India Express / Indian

Jet Airways

Jet Airways

Kingfisher / Kingfisher Red

JetLite

IndiGo

SpiceJet

GoAir

Paramount Airways

Why customer feedback matters for an airport. The case study of Cochin International Airport. August 16, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Aviation, India, Marketing, Travel.
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Image credit: Shahin O.

One of the reasons I like Cochin International Airport (COK) is because of its large spaces. A lot of airports I have been to in India or in the Arabian Gulf region are bursting at the seams or are under a constant state of development.

Opened in 1999, Cochin International Airport has all the whistles and bells of a modern airport. Larger spaces. Faster check-in. A great view of the tarmac from the gates. A reasonable duty-free selection. And the airbridges, which means no bumpy rides in the bus to the plane or no getting wet in the rains. And yes, a bookshop will be open soon. I’m told that the newly opened international terminal at Trivandrum (TRV) is catching up with Cochin and I can’t wait to check it out soon.

I was recently traveling through Cochin and with a couple of hours to kill for my flight to Muscat, I chanced upon a register placed in a corner of the Departure Terminal under a board that said ‘Feedback on Airport Security’. I couldn’t help but glance through the feedback book and what I read is going to be the crux of this post.

1.    Airport security needs be more friendly.
Majority of the people complained about the cold, indifferent attitude of the airport security staff. Someone wrote: “The airport security should learn to speak proper English; English being the ‘national language’ of India.” I don’t know if the airport authorities can influence behavioral changes among the security staff. I think airport security is managed and run by CRPF, a central government agency whose functioning is outside the purview of the airport management’s control. But yes, there was almost universal criticism of their ‘customer service’ skills and their general approach to dealing with travellers. Now some of you may ask, shouldn’t their focus be on airport security than being nice to people in an age of heightened terror and security risks, but isn’t it better to have pleasant people skills no matter what your job.

2.    Please smile, Mr. Immigration Officer.
The immigration officials at the airport came under fire too. Someone had written – Can someone teach these people to smile? Or getting them to smile is like asking for the moon… something in that lines. Frequently traveling through airports in India, I know this is true. It doesn’t matter that the immigration official is probably one of the first people you come across in a new country, especially if you are a tourist. I have given up on all etiquette and polite manners when I submit my passport at Indian immigration. I give a cold stare and get a colder one back along with the stamped passport. On good days, I get the passport and boarding card flung at me. Oh why not, I’m being done a huge favor after all by this official who had to forgo his siesta at 6 in the morning to see the back of planeloads of travelers bound to the Arabian sands. This is where I admire the immigration officers at Muscat International Airport. They never forget to wish you, enquire your well-being and heartily welcome you to their country before stamping your passport.

3.    “Can Cochin Airport have a dedicated smoker’s lounge?” What really impressed me about this request was not the request itself, but the sincerity and manner in which it was expressed.
“More than 60% of travellers and tourists around the world are smokers and hence this airport should make convenient arrangements for smokers to light up in peace without going out of their minds and troubling fellow passengers.” A feedback suggestion that is always substantiated with a fact has a better chance of going through. (In this case, the ‘60%’ fact).

4.    A gentleman requested for a separate prayer room for gents as well as ladies… fair enough.

5.    A traveler to Houston made the brilliant observation regarding the absence of a single clock in the entire boarding gate area. True, there are giant screens showing flight schedules, but it would be wise to have the local time on them as well.

6.    A tech-savvy traveler requested the airport authorities to provide passengers with Worldspace Radio… a couple of them demanded a better selection of TV channels on the airport TV. I guess Asianet or Surya is not everyone’s cup of tea.

7.    One of the ultimate requests was by a couple of travellers who requested a bar in the terminal; nothing like a neat Scotch on the rocks before departure. Full marks to that. And no points for guessing that they were Malayalees.

8.    Almost everyone complained about the lack of decent dining facilities in the departure terminal and the exorbitant price of tea & coffee. A cup of coffee costs 50 rupees. (A passenger wrote that the price of coffee was more scalding than the coffee itself). And COK Airport Coffee takes the crown as one of the ultimate listless coffees I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.

9.    A passenger wrote about the how the drive-in entrance at the departures & arrival terminal wasn’t covered leading to travelers and their luggage getting drenched in the rains as they entered the terminal building. A very valid point; I came under the showers too as I was leaving COK that morning. Not a good experience to take off wet.

10.    Hidesign has a swanky outlet at the airport. I hope they are making money.

11.    Thought to end the post: I find liquor at Cochin Duty Free cheaper than Muscat Duty Free. And the last time I checked, they were giving a bottle free with every 2 bottles of Jack Daniel’s.

A couple of thoughts on Feedback:

1.    Feedback is vital.
For individuals, brands and organizations, feedback tells you what’s working right and what isn’t. Feedback is critical to customer service, product improvement, cost savings, productivity and work efficiency.

2.    Feedback matters only when it is from the right person.
So I worked on this snazzy looking marketing campaign. Getting suggestions on its look and feel from my peers isn’t as good a feedback from the customers of that product or service.

3.    Use the right tools to collect Feedback.
A complaint book at Cochin International Airport seems to a simple and old-fashioned method to collect feedback. But it is any day, a more effective and practical tool than a website form. The customer should find it convenient to share feedback and feedback collection should ideally happen at touch points where customers interact most with you.

4.    Feedback should lead to action.
Feedback is of no good if you don’t act upon it. Also, it helps to acknowledge that have you received feedback.

To conclude, do enjoy this video of an Emirates B777 landing at Cochin.


What can Steven Slater learn from a pillow fight onboard Lufthansa August 14, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
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Flight attendants are very much in the news these days.

This year belongs to Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who after an altercation with a passenger on an aircraft that had just landed at New York’s JFK International Airport, announced via the in-flight intercom that he was quitting his job and hurled profanities at the passenger who provoked him. He then grabbed a beer, activated the aircraft’s emergency chute and bolted off the plane.

While many are hailing Mr. Slater as a ‘working-class hero’ for standing up against an unruly customer & walking away from an ‘unpleasant’ situation, his otherwise social media-open and transparent former employer is forced to remain silent as this matter is under investigation. Mr. Slater looks certain to benefit from his newfound fame as an ‘air rager’ and there are calls for JetBlue to take him back to the skies. Personally, I believe he shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

Being a flight attendant is a tough and demanding job that requires immaculate stress management and people handling skills beyond the veneer of a smiling and glamorous exterior. Needless to say, cabin crew are the human face of the airline to the flying public. How they conduct themselves plus how they treat passengers in the skies and on the ground reflects the general service attitude of the airline to the world. 20 odd years into the job, it doesn’t bode well for me to have Mr. Slater on my flight losing his top and bolting off the aircraft like a renegade general.

Cut to the story of this inspiring Lufthansa flight attendant who is now the star of an emerging YouTube viral video titled ‘LH 687 – The endless dispute between the French and the Germans’.

A hilarious pillow flight broke out recently on a Lufthansa flight bound to Frankfurt from Tel Aviv. A German cabin crew was handing out complimentary pillows to Economy Class passengers when pillows were thrown back at her. Not one to be cowed down, she joined in the fun and threw back pillows at the passengers (a group of French tourists). In the 42-second clip, the stewardess can be seen dashing for the safety of her curtain as the hail of pillows intensifies. A passenger recorded a video of this funny pillow fight that ended with rounds of applause for the flight attendant for being a sport. The video is becoming a hit and there is overall appreciation for the flight attendant and the fliers for bringing some light-heartedness into flying.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman later said that the airline is laughing along with everyone else. “It’s an example of passengers enjoying themselves in economy class. And it shows we still offer pillows to our passengers in economy class,” she said.

The lesson to be learnt from this experience is simple. Mass brands such as airlines that come in close contact with human situations that are odd, impromptu, unpredictable or challenging need to be spontaneous, creative, positive, calm and responsive in a professional manner, on the go.

In today’s age of social media, judgments and opinions are formed and shared before corporations or brands can react. Hence, forget about controlling the message. Note the positive spin Lufthansa is giving to the whole incident. Kudos to them for this smart marketing plug in and not going for the staid and natural corporate measure of punishing the flight attendant. Today’s ‘age of social’ demands that we remain constantly on our guard displaying our best social behavior, no matter what the situation. Mr. Steven Slater and his kind can certainly learn a lot from this pillow fight onboard Lufthansa 687.

How to know your Airbus from Boeing August 12, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Travel.
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138 comments

Many of us admire airplanes for the graceful, elegant and sleek flying machines that they are.

How many of you have wondered about the type or kind of the aircraft that you are traveling in or flying over you in the sky? Is it a Boeing or an Airbus? Is it an A330 or a B777?


Here’s a simple aircraft identification guide for those with a budding interest in aviation. I’ll try to make this post as visual as possible since plane-spotting works best by observing as many different types of aircraft as possible and drawing your own inferences. Now sit back, relax and enjoy this journey!

(more…)

Perfect landing for Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Farnborough 2010 July 18, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Travel.
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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner (flight test airplane code-named ZA 003) landed at the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow, the world’s largest airshow, at 9.09 GMT, following an 11 hour flight from Seattle.

This historic flight marks the first ever intercontinental flight by the Dreamliner, its first appearance in Europe and also its international debut.

Captained by 787 Assistant Chief Pilot Mike Bryan, the Dreamliner performed a fly past and a wind-waggle before landing at Farnborough in overcast conditions. Onlookers had words of commendation for its relative quietness and sleekness.

The Beauty Arrives


Image credit: by @roadshownews

Perfect Landing

Enjoy these videos of the Dreamliner landing.


The Meet of the Titans

Here is a snap of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked next to its rival Airbus A380.

A380 & 787 together for the first time. #FARN10

Image by: Flightblogger on Flickr

Primer on the 787 Dreamliner

Boeing has 863 orders from 56 companies worth about $150 billion for the 787, which has been plagued by problems since the program launched in 2004 and is currently more than two years behind schedule. Boeing plans to deliver the first 787 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways by the end of 2010. (The Airbus A380 has 234 firm orders from 17 customers.)

The Dreamliner has been touted by Boeing as the most fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft to date. It is also packed with features that aim to give the passenger a more comfortable flight.

In a major shift away from traditional aluminum and titanium, nearly all of the aircraft’s fuselage and wings are made of composites. That allows the wide-body jet to use 20 percent less fuel than similar planes and make less noise, while providing passengers with more room, cleaner air and wider windows.

The 787, which has a list price of around $161 million for a basic model, is configured in two versions — a 787-8 carrying 210-250 passengers and a 787-9 carrying almost 300 people. They will carry passengers non-stop on routes between 6,500km and 16,000km at speeds up to Mach 0.85.

Dreamliner Orders in the Arabian Gulf Region

  1. Etihad Airways: 35
  2. Qatar Airways: 30 (Will most likely be the first airline in the region to fly a 787).
  3. Gulf Air: 24
  4. DAE, UAE: 15
  5. Oman Air, leased through ALAFCO: 6
  6. LCAL, UAE: 5

Global demand rises

Boeing, the world’s second-biggest aircraft maker behind Airbus, last week raised its forecast for the number of planes ordered by airline industry in the next 20 years, predicting 30,900 aircraft worth $3.6 trillion be purchased, compared to a forecast of 29,000 last year.

Boeing at Farnborough

Please visit http://www.boeing.com/farnborough2010/ for latest news updates, photos and videos from Boeing at Farnborough Airshow. Do follow @BoeingAirplanes & @BoeingCorporate for Twitter updates. (#FARN10).

The 2010 Farnborough International Airshow will take place between the 19 and 25 of July 2010.  For more information, please go to http://www.farnborough.com.

SkyBuzz: Arabian Gulf Aviation Report, Issue 1 May 1, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, Travel.
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SkyBuzz: Arabian Gulf Aviation Report
Issue 1 – May 2010

Welcome to the first edition of SkyBuzz – The Arabian Gulf Aviation Report for the month of April 2010. The purpose of this report is to provide a short monthly summary of news, events and developments concerning aviation and airlines in the Arabian Gulf Region.


The Eyjafjallajkull Effect
IATA has said that it will take the global airline industry at least 3 years to recover from the volcanic ash cloud crisis, which started on 14 April 2010 following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajkull volcano in Iceland.

The aviation trade body further estimated that the current crisis, which crippled almost the entire airline industry, cost airlines more than $1.7 billion in lost revenue through Tuesday, 20 April 2010 – six days after the initial eruption.

For a three-day period (April 17-19), when disruptions were greatest, lost revenues for airlines worldwide reached $400 million per day, according to IATA.

“Lost revenues now total more than $1.7 billion for airlines alone. At the worst, the crisis impacted 29 per cent of global aviation and affected 1.2 million passengers a day. The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11 when US airspace was closed for three days,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director-General and CEO.

Effect on Arabian Gulf Carriers
All leading Gulf carriers were hit by the spread of the volcanic dust cloud over parts of Europe.

Emirates President Tim Clark said that the airline suffered an income depletion of about $60 million, including 2,000 tons of cargo disrupted, for the 6 days of ash clouds and an additional $5-6 million in accommodating stranded passengers so far due to volcanic ash-related grounding of planes. 270 flights were canceled, 30 Emirates aircraft were grounded, equivalent to one fifth of the fleet, and 120,000 passengers were stranded across the globe from volcanic ash-related groundings.

Meanwhile, the UAE government issued 96-hour visas to airline passengers stranded in Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports.

Etihad Airways recommenced its full scheduled operations on 22 April 2010. More than 22,000 Etihad passengers were affected by flight cancellations and delays as a result of the aircraft closures around the world. Ash groundings cost the airline $30 million. The government-owned airline put up 2,500 passengers stranded in the UAE capital in 16 hotels.

Qatar Airways canceled more than 135 flights to and from 11 destinations in Europe since 15 April 2010 for safety reasons, resulting in disruption to its network. All flights returned to normal operating schedule on 22 April 2010.

Gulf Air canceled over 32 flights from Bahrain to London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris. Besides, as a gesture of goodwill, for those passengers stranded in transit in Bahrain, Gulf Air also offered a free ticket at a credit value equal to their original full ticket for future use.


Emirates: A380 Ahoy, Amsterdam Calling, Kochi Turbulence
In April 2010, Emirates announced the launch of daily A380 flights (517 seats) to Manchester from 1 September 2010. Manchester will become the world’s first regional airport to have a regular A380 service. The airline currently operates 8 A380s to London Heathrow, Toronto, Paris, Jeddah, Bangkok, Seoul, Sydney and Auckland.

On 1 May 2010, Emirates will launch daily flights to Amsterdam, marking its 23rd route into Europe.

On 25 April 2010, Emirates flight EK530, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft carrying 350 passengers from Dubai to Kochi, encountered a weather cloud and a short period of heavy turbulence when cruising at 35,000 feet prior to its descent, injuring 20 passengers and 3 crew members. It dropped about 200 feet in altitude, but landed safely.


Oman Air – 3 new destinations in May
Following back-to-back launches of 5 destinations in 2009, Oman Air is seeking to up the ante by launching 8 new destinations in 2010.

On 1 May 2010, Oman Air will commence its weekly non-stop 4 times service to Kuala Lumpur, its second destination in the Far East after Bangkok. The service will be operated by a new Airbus A330-343 in a three-class configuration.

Oman Air will commence a daily service between Muscat and Ras Al Khaimah from 2 May 2010. Daily flights to Al Ain commence on 3 May 2010. Both routes will be operated by ATR aircraft.

This will be followed by the launch of flights to Lahore (4 times a week) on 10 May 2010 and Islamabad (3 times a week) on 16 May 2010, both destinations served by Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Dar-Es-Salaam (4 times a week) will go live on 1 June 2010 and Kathmandu (4 times a week) on 17 June 2010, and Milan will join the network in the winter schedule.

Oman Air has hiked its capital to $1.3 billion from $779.2 million. Oman Air carried 2.4 million passengers in 2009, up 19 percent from the previous year. Oman Air CEO Peter Hill told Reuters in March 2010 that Oman Air, which posted a loss of $109 million in 2008, planned to return to profit by 2014.


Etihad Airways – Flying high; takes off to Iraq
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reported 25.4 per cent growth in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) in the first quarter of 2010, far out-pacing the industry average and running ahead of the airline’s available seat kilometers (ASKs) growth of 22 per cent. The improvement, against the first quarter of 2009, was matched by an increase in seat factors, from 73 per cent to 75 per cent. Passenger numbers increased by 11 per cent and premium traffic increased by 5 per cent.

Etihad commenced non-stop flights from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Baghdad, becoming the first airline in the UAE to operate to the Iraqi capital. Etihad operates 5 flights per week to Baghdad, using two-class Airbus A320 aircraft, and will expand its operation with two additional A320 return services to a second Iraq destination – Erbil – from 1 June, subject to government and regulatory approvals.


Qatar Airways – 2 new route launches
Tokyo became Qatar Airways’ 89th destination on 26 April 2010 making it the only Gulf carrier with daily flights to the Japanese capital. Qatar Airways flies an Airbus A330 in a three-class configuration to Tokyo with 12 First, 18 Business and 208 Economy Class seats.

On 5 April 2010, Qatar Airways launched a weekly 4 times service to Ankara from Doha. Qatar Airways is the only Gulf carrier flying to Ankara, operating an Airbus A320 with 12 seats in Business and 132 in Economy Class.


News from Gulf Air
Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air has rolled out a dedicated B2B (Business to Business) internet booking tool – for its corporate customers and travel agents. Gulf Air resumed its flights to Najaf following the reopening of the airport on 27 April 2010.


High 5 for flydubai
flydubai, Dubai’s low cost airline has announced 5 new routes in April 2010 taking its network to 18 destinations.
· Flights to Kabul will commence on 17 May 2010 with a frequency of 5 times per week and are priced from AED725.
· Flights to Luxor in Egypt will be 3 times per week, commence on 19 May 2010 and are priced from AED350.
· Flights to Assiut, the largest town in Upper Egypt, will be 3 times per week, commence on 24 May 2010 and are priced from AED350.
· Flights to Istanbul, European Capital of Culture 2010, will be 5 times per week, commence on 17 June 2010 and are priced from AED450.
· Flights to Latakia, flydubai’s third Syrian destination, after Damascus and Aleppo, will be 4 times per week, commence on 20 June 2010 and are priced from AED350.

All fares are for one way journeys including all taxes and charges and one piece of hand luggage.


Kuwait AirBuzz
Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways will commence its thrice-weekly service to Lahore in Pakistan from 12 May 2010. Meanwhile Kuwait-based Wataniya Airways will launch flights to Rome from 31 May 2010, 3 times weekly. Rome is Wataniya’s 11th destination and will follow the carrier’s thrice weekly Istanbul service set to launch on 5 May 2010.

False start for Iraqi Airways
On 25 April 2010, Iraqi Airways relaunched its service to London from Baghdad after 20 years. Commercial air links were cut after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990. The maiden flight received a nightmare welcome as the chartered aircraft used for the service was impounded and the passport of national airline boss Kifah Hassan accompanying the inaugural flight was seized. As the Iraqi Airways aircraft landed at London Gatwick, lawyers acting for Kuwait Airways, which says it is owed 1.2 billion dollars, served papers.

From DXB Intl.
Dubai International Airport posted an increase of 21.8 per cent in passenger numbers during March 2010, taking the total to a record 3,968,672 in the month compared to 3,259,072 during the same period last year.

World Travel Awards 2010 on the anvil
More than a thousand of the Middle East’s greatest travel companies are battling it out to be winners of the coveted event that takes place at The Address, Dubai Marina on 3 May 2010 just before The Arabian Travel Market.

Established in 1993, The World Travel Awards is regarded as the most comprehensive and prestigious awards programme in the global travel industry, with nominees selected by thousands of professionals from travel and tourism organizations world-wide.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the “travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars”, it serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the world’s travel and tourism industry.This year’s Arabian Travel Market exhibition will be held in Dubai from May 4-7 2010.

Air India’s Cairo Stand Up
And in some crazy news to wind up this report, on 15 April 2010, the harried passengers of an Air India flight bound from Mumbai  to Frankfurt were literally stood up by the crew during a stopover in Cairo, for 16 hours on end – all because the crewmembers wanted to see the great pyramids of Egypt. Read more here.

About Me:
I am a creative supervisor with Wunderman in Muscat, Oman. My interests are aviation, travel and airline marketing. My professional experience includes providing marketing communications expertise for leading airline and travel brands in the region.You can reach me via email at arunjoboy at yahoo dot com. I look forward to your comments and feedback.