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Qatar Airways adapts to blockade, may avoid making a loss

Qatar Airways CE said the airline was adapting to a regional blockade that has prevented it flying some routes, and that those restrictions would not necessarily push it into the red for the current financial year. “There is a possibility that we will post also a loss in our current financial year, but it’s only a possibility,” CE Akbar al-Baker said at the Farnborough Airshow Monday. The airline lost access to 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain in mid-2017, when those four countries cut ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies the charges. The restrictions mean the company is set to post what al-Baker has said will be “a very large loss” for the financial year ended March 2018, but it has not been published yet. Al-Baker said this would be made public in the coming weeks. But for the current year, he said the airline might be able to mitigate the impact of the blockade, which includes a ban on using airspace over the four countries, meaning some of its flights have to take much longer routes. Qatar Airways is starting up to 18 new routes to offset the impact of the blockade, and said it could also make investments to help to boost its results. “We will try to do investments which will give us returns to mitigate the negative impact on the bottom line of our company,” he said.
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Spicejet in talks with planemakers over long-haul options

Spicejet is in talks with aircraft makers over planes that would help its ambitions to fly long-haul, the carrier’s chairman said Monday. “We would dearly like to take passengers to Europe and the United States,” said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of Spicejet. “The question is the cost. Can we put enough seats in to get some of the advantages of short-haul low cost? Is there a model out there that we can use?... We are exploring that and hope we have some answers soon. We are talking to aircraft manufacturers and let’s see if we can build something out,” he added. The rise of low-cost long-haul traveling has been led by Asian carriers such as AirAsia, as well as Norwegian Air Shuttle across the Atlantic, although it remains to be seen whether it can be profitable in the long run. Gus Kelly, the CEO of Dublin-based lessor AerCap, agreed that one of the big questions with opting for low-cost long-haul was the seating arrangement - namely, whether the airline should invest millions in adding a premium class that they might not be able to sell for a high enough price, or stick to a plane with lots of economy seats. “Someone will get this right,” Kelly said, adding the takeover interest in Norwegian Air Shuttle from IAG was maybe an indication that Norwegian was getting it right. Spicejet’s Singh said there was a clear place for low-cost long-haul.
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Airline passengers split over using phones in the air

Whether you regard your next flight as a chance to kick back and relax or a valuable window to catch up on lost work may depend on where you live, according to a survey of 8,000 passengers in 10 key travel markets. While airlines seem determined to keep passengers connected 24-7, most people from France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Britain and the US are happy to have their phones rendered unusable while en route, the poll suggests. Indian, Chinese and Arab passengers, by contrast, are generally keen to make calls. Some 69% of Germans reckon it’s not necessary to be permanently available, compared to just 12% of Indians and 18% of Chinese, according to the survey. The risk of disturbance was cited as the chief concern surrounding inflight phone links, with Japanese travellers most worried. Many Asian flyers said they’d pay for connectivity even if the flight cost much more. While Eastern passengers may be keen to work -- or chat -- they’re also most concerned about the contents of refresher packs handed out by airlines.
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Ethiopian shelves plane deals, maps out privatisation plan

Ethiopian Airlines has shelved plans to establish a fleet of smaller jetliners as gains in demand suggest that the routes where they’d be deployed would be better served using larger planes. Africa’s biggest airline had been looking at Bombardier’s C Series aircraft -- since taken over by Airbus and renamed the A220 -- together with Embraer’s E195. An order, which had been mooted as likely at this week’s Farnborough air show, is now off the agenda, CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said. “We have decided to suspend the evaluation of the 100-seater regional aircraft acquisition project, since the market size of the selected regional routes is growing faster than we expected,” he said. Boeing 737 jets from the current fleet will instead be used while the airline studies passenger trends. Tewolde also said there’s no prospect of an order for the Airbus A350-1000 wide-body or Boeing’s rival 777X at the Farnborough expo, with Ethiopian still evaluating the two planes for its latest long-haul requirements. A purchase of more of the US company’s current-generation 777s or the 787 Dreamliner remains an alternative, he said. The CEO said that privatisation plans, sanctioned by Ethiopia’s ruling politburo last month, are more likely to see foreign involvement in various operating units than an outright stake sale, given that Ethiopian Air already makes a significant economic contribution to the nation while being efficient, competitive internationally and able to raise capital for growth.
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Qatar World Cup 2022: ‘Book flights two years ahead,’ urges airline boss

Travellers planning long-haul journeys in the run-up to Christmas 2022 face much higher fares due to the World Cup. After the success of the World Cup 2018 in Russia, the next global football tournament will be held in the tiny Gulf state in four years’ time. Due to the extreme heat in June and July, the competition has been shifted to November and December, with the final to be held just one week before Christmas. Qatar Airways, as the national carrier, has made commitments to Fifa for operating flights for officials, teams and media. The usual pattern in a World Cup host nation is for a massive surge in demand for departures in the two or three days after the final, which will be on 18 December. Normally at this time of year, Qatar’s hub at Doha is extremely busy with travellers from Britain and the rest of Europe connecting for flights to Asia, Africa and Australasia over Christmas and the New Year. Akbar Al Baker, CE of Qatar Airways, warned that other airlines will exploit his carrier’s commitments to Fifa to raise fares for such passengers. He said: “It will be a huge pressure on the airline, to cater not only for Fifa but also to cater for the passengers that will be travelling over the Christmas rush period.” Al Baker urged travellers to be prepared for higher prices as other airlines seized upon the reduction in competition, saying: “You have to make sure you have enough money kept aside.
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Fruits, seafood and pills: Southwest expands cargo business to Mexico

The low-cost carrier expanded its air cargo business to Mexico over the weekend, its cargo business's first international destination. The expansion is an an effort to fly fruits, vegetables and pharmaceuticals, and a host of other goods between the US and its third-biggest trade partner. The programme started service Sunday between Houston and Mexico City and will expand to other cities, including Cancun and Puerto Vallarta later this summer. Mexico is the biggest source of imported fruits and vegetables to the US, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Air cargo is a tiny but growing part of US airlines' overall revenue, thanks to e-commerce and picky eaters who want more fresh food. Southwest made $173m from it last year, less than 1% of its overall revenue. Large US airlines, unlike some foreign carriers, don't operate a dedicated freighter aircraft. Instead they fill up passenger planes' bellies with cargo. Freight demand in North America is growing faster than the global average, according to the IATA, a industry group that represents most of the world's airlines. Southwest operates a fleet of all Boeing 737s and other airlines have much bigger aircraft with more space below the passenger cabin. But the airline hopes the structure of its network will entice shippers to select the carrier.
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Jetmakers see brisk start to air show as UK tries to soothe Brexit worries

Planemakers racked up more than $20b of deals on the opening day of the Farnborough Airshow Monday, suggesting demand for new passenger jets remains in rude health despite worries over trade tensions and Brexit. The deal-making came as host Britain tried to convince a skeptical aerospace industry about its plans to leave the EU, saying supply chains would continue to run smoothly and pledging money for a new fighter jet program. Airbus and Boeing have been enjoying an almost decade-long boom thanks to rising emerging markets growth and a need among Western airlines to upgrade their fleets, and order books are bulging. Higher oil prices, rising interest rates, global trade tensions and uncertainty over Brexit have all raised concerns that demand may slow. But business was brisk on the first day of the July 16-22 air show, though analysts will be watching closely to see how many of the deals are new, and how many involve adjusting earlier business or switching models - something not always easy to spot at first. Story has more details.
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