Thursday, 11 March 2010

Travel pics

I have already said in other occasions that I do not find Stansted airport to be a particularly interesting place for planespotting, but the other day I was traveling Ryanair to Trieste, the day was sunny and the light was good so I took a few pics before and during the flight...

Ryanair Boeing 737 on the tarmac at Stansted, ready to go to Trieste (TRS)

Over the Alps

The way back, the Bodensee and a snowy Bavaria

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Aurigny (& 2)

In a previous post I wrote about this Guernsey-based airline called Aurigny Air Services after I spotted one of its aircraft at Stansted. Well, last week I had another sighting, this time at Gatwick (LGW) and took this rather nice pic. I hope you like it.

Foto: Aurigny Air ATR-72 next to an Easyjet A319

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

By invitation: Eurocypria is pulled from the Brink

"Continuing with our series of reports about the airline market in Southeast Europe, Alexander Apostolides reporting from Cyprus"

Foto by by Andy_Mitchell_UK (from Flickr under CC License)

In other news the much smaller Eurocypria has just been saved from bankruptcy from the Cypriot parliament. Eurocypria, a charter flight operator, has found its self in severe financial distress just six years after the company was restructured. The CEO, Eletherios Ioannou, warned the Cypriot parliament that unless the parliament agreed to an immediate increase of the share capital by 35 million euros the company would close by last Friday, since it needed to repay debts of 28 million. The government agreed to the demand, and refused to accept the resignation of the CEO, despite the anger in the local press on the revelation of greatly inflated wages of Eurocypria’s staff: pilots, ground staff where grossly overpaid, with a third of the company earning more that 99,000 euros a year

The largest opposition party, DISI, has come out against the deal, with vice chairman Averof Neophytou, stating that “the government is trying to convince parliament that Eurocypria is viable and the Cypriot taxpayer should invest €35 million” but “If they really believe in what they are telling us, it would be very easy to convince their former colleagues, either to renew the loans or the creditors can participate in increasing the share capital.”. The most criticized aspect of the deal is the fact that Eurocypria seems to be moving out of the charter business and will start to offer direct flights to Kenya and Teheran from the new Larnaca airport.
European rules may block the deal since the local government owned rival, Cyprus Airways, which was wrangling with Eurocypria over who will remain as the republic’s sole carrier, seems to be behind the anonymous a legal suit placed on February 17 with the European Commission regarding the proposed financing of Eurocypria. The news of the possible imminent collapse of the charter flight carrier has rocked confidence of the Cypriot hotel business, since many tourists in Cyprus still travel with charter flights operated by Eurocypria, and dampened the positive spirit created for the upcoming tourist season by the the opening of the new Larnaca airport

Alexander Apostolides

Monday, 8 March 2010

Planespotting in Trieste

Air One Boeing 737 at TRS (see the Alps in the background!)

I recently had the chance to travel to the city of Trieste, in the North-Eastern tip of Italy. Here are some pics I took. Trieste airport(TRS) is actually some way off the city (about 40 km North of it, in the city of Ronchi dei Legionari) as it is actually the airport of all the Friuli-Venezia-Julia region. It is a small airport serving a limited number of destinations. At the time of my arrival only to commercial aircraft were on the tarmac, mine, the Ryanair flight from Stansted, and an aircraft from the Italian airline Air One covering the route to Rome (FCO).

Ryanair is the largest operator at TRS with connections to Brimingham, Cagliari, Brussels and forthcoming Trapani and Weeze, other available routes are Lufthansa's (Air Dolomiti) to Munich, Air One to Rome, Catania and Naples, JAT Airways to Belgrade and Belle Air to Tirana. Air France recently announced its suspension of services to CDG and domestic airline Skybridge Airops is opening a new service to Foggia.

The location of the airport, although a bit far off the center makes it an ideal starting point for trips into the plains and mountains of Friuli, an area of great natural beauty and many sites of historical significance, specially those related to the battles of WWI (the airport is actually located almost on what used to be the front line) and as an alternative entry point to Slovenia, Ljubljana is about one hour and a half away by car. Another attractive of the airport are its magnificent views of the Carnian Alps, as you can see in the picture I posted. The airport itself ahs a great website where you can find many more interesting pictures about TRS.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

By invitation: The upcoming merger of Olympic Air and Aegean Air

The economic crisis has led to increasing efforts for concentration in the area. Olympic Airlines, the private re-incarnation of the defunct Olympic Airways, has competed talks with Greek rival Aegean Airlines for a proposed merger.

Olympic Air is mostly owned by Dubai sponsored MIG group, which has made substantial inroads in the Greek economy, with control of Marfin Laiki bank, OTE telecoms and Panathinaikos football team. The Dubai link is not apparently clear as Andreas Vgenopoulos, the CEO of MIG, has tried to disassociate his connection/dependence with Dubai sovereign funds, but such links where exposed when MIG took over the second largest bank in Cyprus, the Laiki Popular Bank. Olympic Air retained only the most lucrative lines of the old government-sponsored Olympic Airways, with Aegean Air picking up a substantial part of the remaining domestic flights.

The deal is still being worked out: some argue that the deal is typical of all MIG, whereby Olympic Air will issue new shares to take 55.3% of Aegean air. This deal seems only to be to the interest of the large shareholders who are the power behind Olympic (Vgenopoulos) and Aegan (Vasilakis / Laskarides).

The two companies still need to jump through many hoops to make this official: the Greek Competition Authority will look into this, followed by the European Competition Committee. The issues of concern to each authority will be different. The Greek competition authority is concerned that some rights given to Olympic air in relation rights owned by the government as the owner of the defunct Olympic airways will be threatened, while a large amount of domestic flights are at risk of cancellation, a great concern at country with the largest amount of islands in Europe. The European Competition authority is mostly concerned with the prohibition under the deal made between the EU and the Greek government that prevented the change of the share capital structure of the resurrected Olympic air, as well as regional competition issues.

What I am mostly concerned about is at the negative repercussion of South Eastern European passengers. As a passenger the merger will almost certainly lead to an increase in fares and in the reduction of routes in South-East Europe. Eletherios Venizelos airport in Athens is in the process of turning itself into a true regional hub for the area. Local carriers such as Olympic, Aegean, Cyprus Airways, Tarom and Jat Airways where linking the region with destinations such as Johannesburg, Singapore, New York, Tashkent and Bangkok through Athens. This was made possible by the reduction of regional flights due to the increased competition. The appearance of Aegean Air led to a substantial decrease in prices, with the price of a flight from Larnaca to Athens falling by as much as 100 euros, while the frequency of flights increased by a factor of four. The new company will almost certainly reduce the number of daily flights with the resulting increase in prices, forcing South-European intercontinental travelers to have to fly much further for their connections.

Alexander Apostolides

Presenting Alexander Apostolides, new guest writer reporting on the airline industry in Southeast Europe

When I recently started this blog the plan was to share with the readers interesting airline and aviation stories from around the world. One of the areas where interesting things are happening in this sector is South Eastern Europe, that occupies the strategic space between the traditional large airline markets of Western Europe and the emerging airline hubs in the Middle East. In what regards the airline and aviation sector this is definitely a part of the World I would keep on the radar. With this aim, Alex Apostolides is joining this project as guest writer, reporting on the airline business in his native Cyprus and the whole surrounding region. I give him a warm welcome to this blog and I hope you will enjoy his posts.