Monday, August 28, 2017

Bridging China and Singapore

Bridging China and Singapore Lee Lik Hsin, CEO of Scoot Airways, soon after announcing the merger of Scoot and Tigerair on July 25, 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily] When he was appointed CEO of both Scoot Airways and Tigerair, two budget airlines owned by Singapore Airlines, in July, Lee Lik Hsin immediately realized he would have no leisure time. His task was cut out: lead the companies to higher growth targets so as to compete with other established rivals. After Tigerair was merged with Scoot, the latter announced five new destinations from Singapore, including Harbin in China, Honolulu in Hawaii and Kuantan in Malaysia. Scoot's service network now covers 65 destinations across 17 countries and regions. "The Harbin service will start this December to enhance our service ability between Southeast Asia and China's northeast region," said Lee. Harbin will be Scoot's 19th destination in China from Singapore. Having managed both Scoot and Tigerair, Lee said the new, bigger Scoot plans to add more destinations in the long run. The average load factor for all its flights to China from Singapore are above 80 percent, which is fairly healthy. "We are seeing healthy customer demand on the flights that used to be branded under Tigerair, after the changeover to the Scoot brand," said the Singaporean executive and father of two. "Scoot will continue to increase overall brand awareness in all the Chinese cities we operate to, on our own and together with our distribution partners." In 2016, Scoot launched flights to Chinese cities like Dalian, Zhengzhou and Wuxi and diversified sales channels via travel agencies, both traditional and online, to reach more customers. Scoot will now tie up with various tourism boards in China to stimulate inflows of tourists into China. Supported by more than 2,000 employees, Scoot currently has 14 wide-bodied Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 23 Airbus A320 aircraft. Lee said the growing number of Chinese middle-class consumers will bring greater opportunities for Scoot. With greater disposable income, demand for leisure travel will increase. The airline currently flies to many new top- and second-tier cities in China such as Hangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjing, Xi'an, Qingdao, Shenyang and Dalian. It is confident of serving more budget customers who are willing to travel from these cities by offering them attractive prices where they can choose to pay only for the services they require. An economics graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, Lee said Scoot plans to play a bigger role in advancing transportation services this year for multilateral cooperation in countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. The service, infrastructure and trade network proposed by China in 2013 envisions a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It has been warmly welcomed by over 100 countries, regions and international organizations as it meets their desire for people-to-people exchanges, urbanization, regional connectivity and other new market growth points. Scoot is the only airline plying the routes of Singapore-Zhengzhou and Singapore-Xi'an, two major cities involved in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Lee said these routes are still new and there is much potential to increase the frequency and capacity, in tandem with the economic development in these regions. Apart from its distribution partners, the airline has teamed up with the local airports to jointly stimulate more travel to and from these cities. On handling hardship, Lee said it is important to remain calm in the face of adversity. "It allows you to rationally assess your options and plan your next steps to overcome the difficulties. It also helps one to put things in perspective, and with that, learn and grow from the setbacks." Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin, said direct flights between first-tier Chinese cities and second-tier foreign cities, as well as second-tier Chinese cities and top-tier foreign cities, are expected to grow rapidly in the future, given the significant demand for international travel in China.

Asian airlines’ earnings soar on air cargo demand

A resurgence in air cargo demand is bolstering earnings at Asian airlines and is set to remain particularly robust all year, a boost for many carriers as fierce competition squeezes margins in their mainstay passenger operations.
The region’s airlines take on an outsized role in air freight, accounting for nearly 40% of the global market as Asia is a major manufacturing hub.
For Cathay Pacific Airways and Korean Air Lines Co – the world’s No 4 and 5 air cargo firms – freight represents nearly a quarter of revenue.
Carriers are benefiting from sharp drawdowns in inventories of goods like semiconductors and auto parts on the back of a strengthening global economy.
That has prompted manufacturers and their customers to turn from ocean shipping to the faster, albeit more expensive, option of air to meet demand.
Global air cargo volumes surged 10.4% in the first half – their strongest half-year performance in seven years and nearly triple the industry’s average growth rate of 3.9% in past five years, data from the International Air Transport Association shows. “(It’s) a good story,” said Cathay Pacific CFO Martin Murray in an earnings call last week. “What we’re seeing is, both into Hong Kong and ex Hong Kong, and both long haul and short haul performing well.”
The airline saw a 12% rise in first-half cargo revenue and said the outlook for the rest of the year was strong – an important bright spot for the firm after it logged its worst half-loss in at least 20 years. Cathay also noted that yields for air cargo rose for the first time since 2011 and said that it had leased two dedicated 747-8 freighters in June.
Singapore Airlines Ltd, a top 10 cargo carrier with freight accounting for 13% of its revenue, was also optimistic about demand throughout 2017 as customers were already securing capacity for the year-end peak season in anticipation of major product launches, a spokesman said. Its cargo division, which earns more revenue than its low-cost airline unit, swung to a S$6mn ($4.4mn) first-quarter profit from a loss of S$34mn in the same period a year earlier. “Cargo, far from being a drag, is now back as a profit contributor, even for freighters,” Andrew Herdman, director general at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.
It’s a welcome fillip for a sector grappling with extra capacity after many airlines added new routes and increased flights, sparking a price war as they scrambled for passengers.
The boom in restocking goods like auto parts and chips via air freight is expected to end some time around the end of the year, said IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce.
But growth in e-commerce and a shift by pharmaceutical companies to air for safer cold transportation of drugs is expected to continue to support demand.
“I would think that we would see strong growth still in the second half of this year with a return to more normal (growth) levels perhaps next year,” he said.

Vietjet announces Hanoi-Yangon route

NDO/VNA – Low-cost carrier Vietjet Air officially announced its new route connecting Hanoi with Yangon, the renowned tourism city of Myanmar, at a ceremony in Yangon on August 26, on the occasion of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s state visit to the country.
The route is expected to meet the traveling demands between the two countries, making contributions to promoting regional trade and integration.
Vietjet Air will conduct daily round-trip flights on the route with flight duration of nearly two hours. Flights from Hanoi take off at 12:05 and arrive in Yangon at 13:30 (local time). Meanwhile, the return leg leaves Myanmar at 14:30 and touches down in Hanoi at 16:55 (local time).
This is the second Vietjet Air service to Myanmar, following its Ho Chi Minh City-Yangon route.
Currently, the low-cost airline operates over 350 flights per day, on 73 routes to domestic and international destinations, and Vietjet has flown nearly 40 million passengers so far.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

AirAsia, MAHB quarrel over airport expansion strategy

THE long-simmering tension between AirAsia Bhd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has flared up again. AirAsia co-founder and group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes took to social media again last month, calling for new airport operators to break MAHB’s near-monopoly in the domestic market.
The only other airport operator is MMC Corp Bhd, which runs the Senai International Airport in Johor. MAHB operates the other 39 in the country.
However, Fernandes’ call is not new; neither is his uneasy relationship with MAHB. So, what reignited the friction?
When met recently, Fernandes clarifies that his remarks do not indicate AirAsia wants to build or run its own airport. Rather, it stems from his frustration over what he perceives to be MAHB’s reluctance to accommodate AirAsia’s needs as well as a lack of strategic alignment of the direction of the two companies.
“We want airport operators that want to grow with us, who want to listen to us,” the 53-year-old tells The Edge. “We’re 50% of this airport (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and yet our wants are ignored. That has led to a slower growth (for AirAsia) than it could be.”
For example, says Fernandes, AirAsia had wanted to add up to four planes to its operations out of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) in Sabah, but was deterred by the “crippling” passenger service charges (PSCs). This led to its decision to place the planes at the Senai International Airport instead.
Fernandes cites Senai International Airport as a good example of an airport operator that works closely with AirAsia, resulting in what he calls “astounding growth” for the airline there.
Between January and July this year, AirAsia flew 1.34 million passengers in and out of Johor versus 1.99 million for the whole of 2016.
“Maybe if there were more competition in the airports, we would get a more reactive Malaysia Airports,” says Fernandes.

Thailand's Air force plans to put armed marshals on planes

Amid concerns about terrorist attacks which have recently wreaked havoc in many parts of the world, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has rolled out a training session to produce air marshals to be deployed with weapons on commercial airplanes.
The RTAF's Security Forces Command was ordered by air force chief Johm Rungswang to organise the training, the air force source said, noting this order came in line with the air navigation act, which has already been put into force.
The air marshals will be dispatched to commercial airlines where they would travel with other passengers in plain clothes, the source said.
These officers can be armed on board.
The command selected its 40 officers to attend the air marshal one-month training programme, which started on Aug 1.

Siemens, AAIS sign MOC to drive digital transformation of Singapore’s aerospace industry

Siemens and AAIS aim to promote wider appreciation for the benefits of digitalisation and facilitate digital transformation in the aerospace industry.

AAIS aerospace industry Allan Ferrie Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore) digital transformation digitalisation Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) Raimund Klein Siemens

Siemens, a global technology powerhouse in the areas of electrification, automation and digitalisation, and the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore), or AAIS, a not-for-profit, member-based organisation that promotes Singapore as a leading aerospace hub, have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to promote innovation and drive digital transformation of the aerospace industry in Singapore.

Under the MOC, AAIS and Siemens will jointly organise a range of activities that would educate AAIS members on the topic of digitalisation, encourage the implementation of new technologies and equip them with the knowledge to do so. Through seminars, authored articles, site visits and workshops, Siemens will offer its technical expertise to participants and provide real life demonstrations via its products and services.

The MOC was signed by Raimund Klein, Executive Vice President for Siemens ASEAN, Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, and Allan Ferrie, Vice President of Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore).

(Left) Allan Ferrie, Vice President of Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore) and Raimund Klein, Executive Vice President for Siemens ASEAN, Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, with the signed Memorandum of Cooperation.

“Digitalisation is a major trend and innovation driver. It empowers companies to enhance their production processes, creating completely new business and growth opportunities that would enable them to remain competitive,” said Klein. “We at Siemens are committed to supporting companies on their digitalisation roadmap at every step of the way. We are very excited to embark on this partnership journey with AAIS, and we look forward to working closely with the organisation to raise the standards of Singapore’s aerospace industry.”

“We are very pleased to partner Siemens in this Digital Transformation Initiative. Our aim is to facilitate the adoption of digitalisation by the aerospace industry in Singapore. Companies are at different stages of understanding and reaping the benefits of digitalisation, and this initiative will help bring us all to the next level. The digital transformation journey is not easy, but will strongly position us to deliver better value to customers and raise Singapore’s competitiveness,” said Ferrie.

This collaboration strengthens Siemens commitment to Southeast Asia. The company recently launched its first fully integrated Digitalization Hub in Singapore, expanding its expertise and innovations in the Internet of Things (IoT) to customers in the region. With the hub, Siemens will be co-creating future digital applications with customers and partners to build a digital ecosystem. Separately, last year, Siemens launched the ZerOne.DesIgn™ Digital Factory Manufacturing Design engagement model, the first consultancy service of its kind for the controls and automation industry which helps companies achieve their Industrie 4.0 vision.

Jeju Air sees record Q3 profit, says China again blocked charter flights

By Hyunjoo Jin
SEOUL, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Jeju Air Co Ltd expects record quarterly profit in July-September, as changing lifestyles at home in South Korea translates into demand that more than makes up for China again rejecting its monthly application to provide charter flights.
South Korea's biggest low-cost carrier (LCC) by market share is benefiting as more Koreans travel overseas spurred by lower fares, and increasingly spend on small luxuries in a departure from a past focus on savings, Chief Financial Officer Kim Tae-yoon told Reuters.
The initial rejections came after Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defence system to counter any potential threat from North Korea. Beijing objected that the system's radar was capable of penetrating Chinese territory.
Ensuing anti-Korean sentiment involved protests and boycotts of Korean goods and services. Chinese tour groups to South Korea were also halted, as were charter flights.
"There are no signs that China will approve the resumption of charter flights," Kim said in an interview. "Nevertheless, we are preparing to resume flights whenever they are approved."
Jeju generated only a small portion of revenue from Chinese charter flights. It has since redeployed aircraft to Japan and Southeast Asia and, in April-June, booked operating profit of 16.2 billion won ($14.23 million) - a 24-fold jump from a year earlier, when bad weather reduced travel demand.
Full-fledged carriers Korean Air Lines Co Ltd and Asiana Airlines Inc - which are more exposed to Chinese business - also posted strong second-quarter earnings as surging chip demand increased cargo from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc.

Jeju operates 29 Boeing Co 737-800s. It plans to expand its fleet to 32 by year-end and add six to eight aircraft each year to reach 50 in 2020, Kim said. All planes will be 737-800s to achieve economies of scale and help keep costs low.
He said Jeju's expansion will accelerate consolidation in South Korea's low-cost carrier sector, which he expects to reach saturation point after two or three years.
South Korea has six low-cost carriers, with competition set to increase early next year with two more. Kim expects the sector to eventually settle with two or three carriers.
"Now, everyone is holding up well, but when the market deteriorates, only airlines with cost-competitiveness like us will survive," he said.
One competitor is Jin Air, affiliate of Korean Air. Jin Air plans to list on the stock market and use listing proceeds to fund investment for growth, such as buying aircraft.
Jeju Air's share price has jumped over 50 percent this year, partly due to expectations for steep earnings growth. The price was down 1.4 percent at 0315 GMT on Tuesday, compared with a 0.4 percent rise in the Kospi benchmark share price index.
($1 = 1,138.2100 won)

Thailand's U-Tapao International Airport to become an ‘aerotropolis’

Airport trio key for vast Thai economic venture

Development of U-Tapao International Airport as an ‘aerotropolis’ is being seen as vital to the success of Thailand’s massive Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) regional development project. U-Tapao will be multi-linked with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports, writes Kelvin King.

The airport – not far from Pattaya, which is morphing into a sophisticated MICE, business travel and holiday destination far removed from its old rather sleazy R&R image, currently is a Royal Thai Navy base with limited but expanding civilian domestic and international services.
In its new manifestation it will become a cargo hub, MRO base (Airbus is among those to have signed up for investment), regional and long-haul scheduled and charter flight facility, defence research locale and flight training centre.
The Navy will retain a strong presence and is already well into implementing its own masterplan for development of a large area.
“We know the country requires a new growth engine and U-Tapao is part of that,” said Rear Admiral Worapol Tongpricha, director of U-Tapao Airport Authority recently.
A free trade zone will be an important feature of the new U-Tapao; FTZs will evolve at maritime ports in the EEC, too.
Other features include a commercial gateway, medical and education zone, adjacent rail freight facility, a community park and retail and a mixed use area.
It’s a huge proposition which will generate its own substantial economic output and also service the region’s logistics sector, which is already growing rapidly.
Inter-modal cargo movement will be enhanced by U-Tapao being on the route of a double-tracked freight rail line linking it with two of the EEC ports – including Laem Chang which is Thailand’s main facility for containers and motor vehicle exports – and Suvarnabhumi International Airport as well as current and evolving industrial districts.
Laem Chang is to be extended substantially as is Map Ta Phut which handles liquid petroleum products and natural gas. Sattahip, a naval base, is expanding as a cruise ship facility, shipbuilding and oil rig assembly.
U-Tapao International will be a key point on a new motorway grid and a high-speed train route through Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.
Integration of the three airports for cargo and passenger traffic is a significant factor in the EEC concept.
It is, in fact, already well past conceptual stage, thanks largely to the drive of prime minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and deputy pm Somkid Jatusripitak who is responsible for the country’s economic ministries.
Prayuth said recently that the government “is keen to offer a full support to international investors in these target industries who strive to achieve sustainable development goals, bring a better quality of life to the local community and provide continuing opportunities for local SMEs.
“We have qualified workforce in the market, as well as utilised best efforts in mitigating investment obstacles and offering attractive privileges and incentives.”
Tourism will be a major factor in EEC growth and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau – another priority agency under the pm’s aegis - has stepped up its efforts to attract more meetings, conventions and exhibitions to the region as well as increasing business travel and high-end incentive reward programs.
It has tagged Pattaya as one of its launch targets for an initiative headlined as ‘Thailand: The Kingdom of Bleisure’ which extends its long-running and successful CONNECT Thailand program.
The Kingdom of Bleisure launch period also includes Hua Hin and Bangkok. Hua Hin now has a new fast ferry link across the Gulf of Thailand from Bangkok, another service contributing to economic development.
At a recent media briefing in Pattaya – which will gain a nearby new twin city as part of the EEC project – dr Cholachit Vorawangso Virakul, executive director of the EEC Office, explained the EEC was a “flagship project under Thailand’s 20-year National Strategy and the Thailand 4.0 Policy”.
It covers the three eastern provinces of Rayong, Chonburi and Chachoengsao, with a combined area of 13,285
The EEC will see investments of US$43 billion during the next five years, much of it from outside Thailand.
Under the Thailand 4.0 development strategy the government has identified five existing industries to take further as well as five ‘new’ industries to target. The former are next-generation automotive, smart electronics, affluent medical and wellness tourism and food innovative. The latter: industry and lifestyle robotics, aerospace, logistics and aviation, biofuel and biochemical, medical services/healthcare.
Most of these have solid potential for air cargo participation directly or otherwise.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The 'boneyard': Where airlines send old planes to be scrapped

ROSWELL, N.M. — American Airlines Flight 9780 arrives from Dallas/Fort Worth and taxis past a line of other MD-80 passenger jets as the morning sun rises over the New Mexico desert on a chilly morning this past winter.
But as the jet comes to a stop, there’s no boarding gate or jet bridge. In fact, there are no paying passengers aboard at all.

The pilots leave the cockpit and head toward the rear of the plane. They drop the rear stairs from the 140-seat MD-80’s rear emergency exit, and the flight’s four occupants – two pilots, an American employee and a journalist – calmly descend the steps into the New Mexico sun.
Lines of planes stretch for nearly as far as the eye can see. Many bear familiar logos. Most planes are intact – but not all of them. Reams of airplane parts lay strewn nearby across the desert floor.
“They affectionately call this the boneyard,” says Martin Testorff, one of American’s aircraft storage managers based here.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has parked the first Airbus A380 aircraft to enter commercial service.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that 9V-SKA has been parked since 10 June 2017. SIA confirms that the aircraft is "undergoing de-lease work before returning to the lessor."
The aircraft's last commercial service was SQ317, a London Heathrow-Singapore flight on 10 June. It is in a hangar at Singapore Changi Airport.
Fleets Analyzer shows that the lease expiry is on 12 October, at which point it will return to German aircraft investor Dr. Peters Group.
9V-SKA (MSN 3 - pictured below prior to delivery in 2007) became a part of aviation history on 25 October 2007, when it operated the world's first commercial A380 service on the Singapore-Sydney sector.
Asset Image
A charity auction was held for seats on the highly-anticipated first flight, with 6,000 aviation enthusiasts bidding for 650 seats – half on the Singapore-Sydney leg, half on the flight back. A total of S$1.9 million ($1.3 million in October 2007 rates) was raised for charity, and the flight was widely covered in international media.
9V-SKA is equipped with 12 first class suites, a revolutionary innovation in 2007. It also seats 60 in business class, 36 in premium economy, and 333 in economy.
Fleets Analyzer indicates that SIA will return MSNs 3, 5, 8 and 10 to Dr. Peters by the end of next year. After the return of MSN 3, MSN 5 will follow in January 2018.
FlightGlobal understands that Dr. Peters has been considering parting out the first two A380s due to return from SIA, although it has not made a final decision.
A fifth early SIA A380, MSN 51, is owned by Hannover Leasing. Its lease is due to expire on 31 August 2020.
Of its remaining 15 A380s, SIA will submit 14 to retrofit work involving new seats. The number of suites will be halved to six from 12, and be relocated from the lower deck to the upper.
SIA also has orders for five additional examples. These will arrive between October 2017 and May 2018.

Cathay Dragon to modernise and expand its fleet after signing a memorandum of understanding for single-aisle aircraft

32 fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly Airbus A321neo aircraft to arrive from 2020 as the regional airline continues to grow
Cathay Dragon has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), preparatory to executing formal legal documentation, for the acquisition of 32 Airbus A321neo aircraft. The MOU, signed today between the Cathay Pacific Group and Airbus in Toulouse, France, is valued at approximately HK$31.7 billion at current list prices.  It is intended to see Cathay Dragon’s single-aisle fleet replaced and expanded from 2020.
The new aircraft, which are scheduled to be delivered between 2020 and 2023, are intended to  replace Cathay Dragon’s existing single-aisle fleet of 23 aircraft, comprising 15 Airbus A320s and eight Airbus A321s. The airline, which also operates 24 wide-body Airbus A330s, serves 56 destinations in Asia, including 28 cities in mainland China.
Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer and Cathay Dragon Chairman Rupert Hogg said: “Cathay Dragon is committed to providing customers with a superior travel experience while at the same time enhancing the efficiency of its operations. We look forward to introducing the aircraft into our fleet and expanding the reach of the Cathay Pacific Group to more customers.
“The intention to purchase these 32 environmentally-friendly aircraft will allow us to add new destinations to Cathay Dragon’s network. We also intend to increase frequencies on some of our most popular routes in order to provide our customers with more travel choices and convenience. Having focused on modernising and expanding Cathay Pacific’s long-haul fleet in recent times, this is an exciting new chapter for Cathay Dragon following last year’s rebranding to enhance a seamless travel experience for our customers.
“The substantial investment we are making in new aircraft underlines our confidence in the future of the Cathay Pacific Group, as well as our commitment to bolstering Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s largest international aviation hub as we bring new connectivity to and from our home.”
John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers, said: “Airbus is proud to have been selected to supply Cathay Dragon’s future single-aisle fleet. This is another major endorsement of the A321neo as the aircraft of choice for airlines in the middle-of-the-market segment.
“The A321neo offers the lowest possible operating costs, longest range capability and most spacious cabin in its class. It will be the perfect aircraft for Cathay Dragon as it builds on its success as one of Asia’s leading regional carriers.”
According to Airbus’ design specifications, the A321neo has a seating capacity of up to 240 passengers and has an extended range of up to 6,850 km. When delivered, the aircraft will feature Cathay Dragon’s latest cabins, seats and inflight entertainment options.
According to Airbus, the aircraft also shows impressive figures in terms of noise reduction, up to 50 per cent less than that of the current A321 aircraft.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Thailand's Buriram Airport to add facilities to accommodate more passengers

BURIRAM, 21 August 2017 (NNT) - Buriram province is set to expand its airport to accommodate the increasing number of tourist arrivals. 

Buriram has grown more popular among Thai and foreign tourists due to its beautiful historical sites and sports activities. There will be 4 new aircraft parking stands under the expansion plan which will enable the airport to accommodate 6 180-seat airplanes.

An additional taxiway will be paved while the passenger terminal building will be enlarged to accommodate more passengers.

According to Buriram Airport Director Sommai Chaiyanij, there are currently 6 flights from 2 airlines operating daily between Don Mueang International Airport and Buriram Airport. More than 200,000 passengers visited Buriram airport last year. Once the development is completed, the airport will be able to accommodate 12 flights per day.
-- nnt 2017-08-21

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Where's the captain?' – and other things passengers say to female pilots

Estimates vary, but roughly 3 per cent of pilots worldwide are women - other sources put the figure at four or five - while 6 per cent of the UK’s commercial pilots are women. easyJet, which has 5 per cent female pilots, launched its Amy Johnson Initiative in October 2015 in a bid to increase the percentage of women in its annual pilot intake from 6 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020. It has already doubled the figure to 12 per cent in just 18 months.