Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thailand’s national carrier, Thai Airways International, has increased its special flight services on 5 routes, totaling 38 flights to cater for extra travelers during the long holiday period of New Year. They are Bangkok-Phuket (12 flights), Bangkok – Krabi (9 flights), Bangkok-Chiang-Mai (12 flights), Bangkok – Chiang Rai (2 flights) and Bangkok – KhonKaen (3 flights). A Thai Airways executive also affirmed that the company can add extra flights or use larger planes if demands increase. Passengers can make reservations at tel. 02 3561111 twenty four hours a day. On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced a ‘convenient journey’ program for passengers offering special prices. Their Transport Company offers 50% discount for its buses, except the 24 seat VIP bus. The deal is offered between December 27th and January 6th. It can accommodate around 10,000 passengers per day.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Dec. 29, 2008 (China Knowledge) - Asia's largest aircraft lessor BOC Aviation, controlled by Bank of China, will buy 10 Boeing 737-700s from the U.S. Southwest Airlines Co and lease them back to the American air carrier, sources reported, citing Robert Martin, CEO of BOC Aviation, as saying.
According to Southwest Airlines, the first five aircraft were sold at US$175 million and it expects the similar price for the remaining five aircrafts next quarter. And the lease-term will be 12 years.
BOC Aviation, formerly known as Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise (SALE), provides operating lease and fleet financing services for airlines, with headquarters in Singapore and offices in the U.K. and the U.S.
On Dec.15, 2006, BOC purchased all the shares from the lessor's previous shareholders for US$980 million, and later renamed it BOC Aviation.
Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, Texas, is the largest airline in the U.S. in terms of the number of passengers carried domestically per year, and the sixth-largest U.S. airline by revenue. It also has the second-largest passenger fleet of aircraft among all of the world's commercial airlines.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Perhaps the pilot had forgotten that in 1994, 70 people died after an Aeroflot pilot let his son fly the plane and the boy accidentally turned off the autopilot.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Vietnam expected between 4.8 and 5 million international visitors in 2008, but had only received 3.9 million by the end of November. Visitor numbers from traditional tourism markets such as Japan, South Korea, and Europe were all down.
|A passenger sits aboard an almost empty Thai Airways Airbus A-330 preparing to fly to Hanoi at the Suvarnabumhi international in Bangkok on December 6, 2008. (AFP/Getty Images)|
Binh said the plan would take effect from January 1 through to September 30.
The plan includes cutting prices on package tours run by state and room rates at the country's three-to five-star hotels between 30 and 50%.
Vietnam's government can influence prices at both state-run and private hotels, if the private hotels belong to official state-affiliated tourism bodies, as most do.
Binh said Vietnam Airlines had committed to reducing ticket prices 30 to 50% on most of its , including those from Western Europe, Japan, South Korea and Asean countries, which account for 50 to 60% of all arrivals.
Vietnam will begin granting visas on arrival at all international border gates as of next year. Currently, several of Vietnam's border crossings with Laos and Cambodia do not grant visas.
The plan will use some of the money allocated under Vietnam's 1 billion-dollar economic stimulus plan, announced earlier this month.
Vietnamese newspapers reported this week that VNAT plans to spend 20 to 30 million dollars on a global tourism marketing campaign in foreign media.
There were mixed reactions from hotel managers.
"I am optimistic," said Mai Van Chung, sales director of the Flower Garden in Hanoi's Old Quarter. "I think the plans can help to bring foreign visitors to Vietnam."
But Han Le Hang, manager of the boutique Zenith Hotel in downtown Hanoi, said most hotels had already cut prices 20 to 30%.
"If a hotel cuts its rates by 50%, it will have no money to pay its staff," Hang said.
According to VNAT, the number of international visitors to Vietnam had been rising some 10% each year, but only 15 to 20% were return visitors. The agency ascribes the low return rate to low quality of hotels and lack of entertainment.
VNAT estimates each visitor spends between 1,200 and 1,500 dollars in Thailand, 2,000 dollars in , but only 900 dollars in Vietnam.10:43 AM 2008-12-20
An alleged Russian arms dealer dubbed the ‘Merchant of Death’ has denied conspiring to arm Colombian rebels.
Viktor Bout, 41, told a Thai court he had never met anyone from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and insisted he should not be extradicted to the United States.
Dressed in an orange prison uniform, Bout was shackled at the ankles but looked relaxed and spoke in mostly measured tones during his testimony at Bangkok's Criminal Court.
The United States is seeking the extradition of Bout, who was arrested in the Thai capital in a sting operation in which undercover U.S. agents posed as Latin American rebels from FARC.
'I never met or talked to anyone from FARC,' Bout told the court. 'I didn't do anything wrong in Thailand. I have never been to Colombia or the United States.'
The Russian, who has long denied any involvement in illicit activities, was purportedly the model for the arms dealer portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 movie 'Lord of War.'
He was arrested in March at a Bangkok luxury hotel and subsequently indicted in the U.S. on four terrorism-related charges.
Bout identified himself to the court as 'a 41-year-old businessman.' He spoke in Russian, which was translated to Thai.
Asked to state his line of work, Bout replied, 'I am in aviation and construction.'
Bout said he had traveled to Bangkok 'to relax' and to meet with 'a Thai businessman who wanted to buy airplanes.'Enlarge
'I did not commit any terrorist acts,' said Bout, claiming he was a pawn in an American plot.
'The U.S. is trying to use this to cover up its internal problems and prevent good relations between Thailand and Russia,' said Bout, briefly raising his voice and shaking his finger as he spoke. He did not elaborate.
At one point, Bout held up two fingers and flashed the victory sign to an acquaintance in the courtroom, where his mother and wife were present.
After a two-hour testimony, the court adjorned for lunch and Bout smiled for cameras as police escorted him out.
According to reports by U.N. agencies and several Western governments, Bout has delivered arms to dictators and warlords in Africa and Afghanistan, allegedly breaking several U.N. arms embargoes in the process.
His extradition hearing started in June but has been repeatedly delayed, with a revolving door of defence lawyers.
Bangkok's Criminal Court has said it expects the hearing to wrap up on Christmas Eve but one of Bout's defence lawyers, Preecha Prasertsak, said he planned to seek an extension to locate more witnesses.Enlarge
At an earlier hearing, an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration testified that his agency set up the operation that lured Bout from Russia to his arrest in the Thai capital.
DEA agent Robert Zachariasiewicz told the court that Bout faces U.S. charges of conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile.
He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.
The original arrest warrant issued in Thailand was based on a charge of using the country as a base to negotiate a weapons deal with terrorists.
But that charge was dropped in April and a second arrest warrant issued asking for his extradition to the United States.
Prosecutor Sanchai Krungkanjana has said the first arrest warrant had been dropped because 'there was insufficient evidence in Thailand' but there was enough evidence in the U.S. to approve Bout's extradition.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Hong Kong - Two pilots with a Hong Kong airline have been sacked for trying to take off in plane carrying 122 passengers from a taxiway rather than a runway, the airline said Sunday. Hong Kong Airlines captain Indra Santrianto and his Argentinian First Officer Diego Martin Chiadria were dismissed over the incident Boeing 737 at Hong Kong International Airport on September 13.
An air traffic controller raised the alarm when he saw the plane bound for Cheong Ju in Korea speeding along the taxiway and alerted the cockpit crew in time for them to abort take-off.
Santrianto, an Indonesian, told his company he was merely travelling at speed on a taxiway on his way to the north runway and that air traffic controllers had mistaken his approach for an attempted take-off.
However, an investigation by Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department concluded the pilot was attempting a take-off and said the incident was caused by "temporary loss of situation awareness" on the part of the flight crew.
Taxiways at Hong Kong International Airport run the length of the runways but are narrower, have distinctive green lighting and, unlike runways, no centre lighting.
A report by the Civil Aviation Department recommends improving the airline's standard operating procedures and action to "enhance flight crew situation awareness and alertness."
The report also recommends improvements to taxiway lighting and ground marking systems at the airport.
Hong Kong Airlines spokesman Alex Au confirmed that the two pilots had been dismissed. "It is a fair report," he said.
"We have already released the two pilots, and we are implementing the recommendations that the CAD made regarding procedures."
Seven-year-old Hong Kong Airlines, which with sister airline Hong Kong Express flies to 30 cities across Asia, fired a number of senior expatriate pilots early this year.
John Findlay, general secretary of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, said: "I would urge the Civil Aviation Department to take a long, hard look at what is going on at Hong Kong Airlines.
"The numbers of highly qualified pilots who have been terminated for no apparently justifiable reason is alarming. Public confidence in Hong Kong Airlines has to be assured."
However, Au said claims that the September incident indicated general poor standards at Hong Kong airlines were "grossly unfair and inappropriate."
"It is not just the pilots but the environment and the circumstances which led to the incident," he said.
There have been two previous incidents involving planes attempting to take off from taxiways rather than runways at Hong Kong's 11-year-old international airport.
Action was taken by the Hong Kong Airport Authority to improve lighting and markings on the airport apron following the last incident in 2007.
Monday, December 15, 2008
VIETNAM has allowed Qantas to lift its stake in the low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific Airlines to 30 per cent from 18 per cent.The increased stake will come from an additional share issuance, the Vietnamese Government said on its website, adding that Qantas may raise its stake to 49 per cent in the future.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also asked the Ministry of Transport to grant Jetstar Pacific a licence to operate more domestic and international routes, the Government said.
Jetstar Pacific Airlines, the first joint stock airline in Vietnam, had a loss of $US10.7 million ($16 million) in the first half of this year due to high fuel prices and operation costs, state media said earlier this month.
By the end of August, the airline's accumulative losses had reached $US50 million, Tuoi Trenewspaper said.
HA NOI — Vietnam Airlines yesterday signed a contract to buy six new ATR72-500s planes worth a total of US$112 million to modernise its fleet for short-haul routes, officials from both companies said.
The six new 70-seat planes, in addition to five ordered a year ago and three that the company already has, will bring Viet Nam’s flag carrier’s fleet of ATR 72-500s to 14 by 2010.
Vietnam Airlines started operating ATR aircraft in 1992 and ordered -500 series between 2001 and 2007.
"Thanks to the substantial growth of Viet Nam domestic and Indochina aviation markets, there has been a growing demand for aviation transport services from the big cities of Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City to Laos and Cambodia," said the president and CEO of Vietnam Airlines Pham Ngoc Minh.
"We strongly believe that with the purchase of six more ATR 72-500s, Vietnam Airlines will satisfy increasing demand for its services on short-haul routes, helping to promote tourism, investment and trade relations among regions and between Viet Nam and its neighbouring Indochina countries."
Stephane Mayer, ATR CEO underlined the importance of "having such a prestigious and renowned airline in Asia operating ATRs. The success of the regional operations of Vietnam Airlines plays an important role in expanding the ATR aircraft fleet in Southeast Asia."
He noted that the company had increased their support facilities in Asia, looking to build upon the developing commercial potential for ATR in the region.
ATR says its 500 series aircraft have low noise levels and the lowest fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission per passenger in the market.
Vietnam Airlines now operates a young fleet of 50 modern aircraft and plans to expand its fleet to 104 by 2015 and then 150 by 2020. It currently flies to 23 international destinations and aims to serve 11 million passengers in 2010. — VNS
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) painted a grim forecast for the airline industry as it announced its forecast for 2009 showing an industry loss of US$2.5 billion. All regions, except the US, are expected to report larger losses in 2009 than in 2008.
Forecast highlights are:
- Industry revenues are expected to decline to US$501 billion. This a fall of US$35 billion from the US$536 billion in revenues forecasted for 2008. This drop in revenues is the first since the two consecutive years of decline in 2001 and 2002.
- Yields will decline by 3.0% (5.3% when adjusted for exchange rates and inflation).
- Passenger traffic is expected to decline by 3% following growth of 2% in 2008. This is the first decline in passenger traffic since the 2.7% drop in 2001.
- Cargo traffic is expected to decline by 5%, following a drop of 1.5% in 2008. Prior to 2008 the last time that cargo declined was in 2001 when a 6% drop was recorded.
- The 2009 oil price is expected to average US$60 per barrel (Brent) for a total bill of US$142 billion. This is US$32 billion lower than in 2008 when oil averaged US$100 per barrel (Brent).
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO says
“The outlook is bleak. The chronic industry crisis will continue into 2009 with US$2.5 billion in losses. We face the worst revenue environment in 50 years,”IATA also updated its forecast for 2008 to a loss of US$5.0 billion. This is slightly improved from the US$5.2 billion loss projected in the Association’s September forecast primarily as a result of the rapid decline in fuel prices.
The reduction in industry losses from 2008 to 2009 is primarily due to a shift in the results of North American carriers. Carriers in this region were hardest hit by high fuel prices with very limited hedging and are expected to post the largest industry losses for 2008 at US$3.9 billion.
An early pre-emptive action by a 10% domestic capacity reduction in response to the fuel crisis has given the region’s carriers a head-start in combating the recession-led fall in demand. The lack of hedging is now allowing the region’s carriers to take full advantage of rapidly declining spot fuel prices. As a result, North American carriers are expected to post a small profit of US$300 million in 2009, which represents a profit margin of less than 1%.
All other regions will show losses:
- Asia-Pacific carriers will see losses more than double from the US$500 million in 2008 to US$1.1 billion in 2009. With 45% of the global cargo market, the region’s carriers will be disproportionately impacted by the expected 5% drop in global cargo markets next year. The region’s largest market - Japan - is already in recession. And its two main growth markets - China and India - are expected to deliver a major shift in performance. Chinese growth will slow as a result of the drop-off in exports. India’s carriers, which are already struggling with high taxes and insufficient infrastructure, can expect a drop in demand following on from the tragic terror incidents in November. Indian carriers which represent just 2% of the global market are expected to contribute almost $2 billion of the $5 billion losses forecast for this year.
- Losses for European carriers will increase ten-fold to US$1 billion. Europe’s main economies are already in recession. Hedging has locked in high fuel prices for many of the region’s carriers in US dollar terms, and the weakened Euro is exaggerating the impact.
- Middle Eastern airlines will see losses double to US$200 million. The challenge for the region will be to match capacity to demand as fleets expand and traffic slows - particularly for long-haul connections.
- Latin American carriers will see losses double to US$200 million. Strong commodity demand that has driven the region’s growth has been severely curtailed in the current economic crisis. The downturn in the US economy is hitting the region hard.
- African airlines will see losses of US$300 million continue. The region’s carriers face strong competition. Defending market-share will be the main challenge.
“Air cargo comprises 35% of value of goods traded internationally. The 7.9% decline in October is a clear indication that the worst is yet to come - for airlines and the slowing global economy,”
“Airlines have done a remarkable job of restructuring themselves since 2001. Non-fuel unit costs are down 13%. Fuel efficiency has improved by 19%. And sales and marketing unit costs have come down by 13%. IATA made a significant contribution to this restructuring. In 2008 our fuel campaign helped airlines to save US$5 billion, equal to 14.8 million tonnes of CO2. And our work with monopoly suppliers yielded saving of US$2.8 billion. But the ferocity of the economic crisis has overshadowed these gains and airlines are struggling to match capacity with the expected 3% drop in passenger demand for 2009. The industry remains sick. And it will take changes beyond the control of airlines to navigate back into profitable territory.”Bisignani outlined an industry action plan for 2009 saying
“Labour must understand that jobs will disappear when costs don’t come down. Industry partners must contribute to efficiency gains. And governments must stop crazy taxation, fix the infrastructure, give airlines normal commercial freedoms and effectively regulate monopoly suppliers.”