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US DOT, FAA propose
Southwest Airlines | 11
US DOT, FAA propose
Southwest Airlines | 11
Qatar buys stake in IAG; US majors challenge Open Skies
Qatar Airways announced it
has acquired a 9.99% stake
in British Airways/Iberia parent company International
Airlines Group (IAG), an
interesting development in
the ongoing change in the
international airline landscape
prompted by the growth of
the Gulf carriers.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar
Al Baker described the taking
of a stake in IAG, worth about
$1.7 billion, as an “excellent
opportunity to further develop
our Westward strategy.” IAG
CEO Willie Walsh said he was
“delighted” about the investment and opportunities to work
more closely with Qatar.
There’s a history to the IAG and Qatar connection. Al Baker
and Walsh are long-time, firm friends who each hold the other in
high respect. In October 2013, Qatar joined the oneworld global
alliance, becoming the first of the major Gulf carriers to join a
global alliance. British Airways, a founding oneworld member, was
Qatar’s sponsor and Walsh spoke very enthusiastically about the
importance of having Qatar join.
Dubai-based Emirates, meanwhile, remains alliance-indepen-dent, but in 2013 entered a five-year partnership with Qantas,
another oneworld founding member. And Abu Dhabi-based Etihad
Airways owns a 29% stake in airberlin, another oneworld airline.
Etihad has its own version of an alliance, taking stakes in relatively
small carriers and creating a constellation of airline equity partners that includes airberlin, Air Serbia, India’s Jet Airways, Virgin
Australia, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.
IAG, meanwhile, wants to buy Aer Lingus, a move which, if it
happens, would further tangle the IAG-oneworld-Gulf carrier web.
Separately, Aer Lingus announced its new CEO will be
Stephen Kavanagh who will replace Christoph Mueller when he
becomes CEO of Malaysian Airlines.
Etihad is a 49% owner of Alitalia, a Sky Team member. But
Qatar’s stake in IAG is the first time that one of the “Big Three”
Gulf carriers has invested in one of the “Big Three” European
airline groups of IAG, Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM.
It is becoming increasingly challenging for the “
traditional” European global hubs of Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London
Heathrow and Paris to compete with the “modern” hubs of Abu
Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar.
In the US, meanwhile, there is growing awareness that what
happened in Europe regarding Gulf competition could happen in
America. A campaign is being run by North America’s “Big Three”—
American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines—to try and
get lawmakers to review Open Skies policies and the international
air transport competitive landscape to take account of the rise of
the Gulf carriers (see Commentary, page 42).
Flying under the radar so far in the shifting sands of air transport powerhouses is Turkish Airlines, which is a Star Alliance carrier that has developed an extensive network, a large and modern
fleet and a highly successful global hub in Istanbul.
Bombardier replaces CEO after
posting net loss for 2014
Bombardier unveiled plans to raise $600 million in new equity
and $1.5 billion in new debt as president and CEO Pierre
Beaudoin stepped down to be replaced by former head of
United Technologies’ Propulsion & Aerospace business Alaine
The moves are intended to reassure investors increasingly concerned Bombardier will run out of cash as it funds development
of the delayed CSeries narrowbody airliner and upcoming Global
7000/8000 large business jets while sales of its regional airliners
remain under pressure.
Bombardier reported a 2014 net loss of $1.25 billion, reversing
the $572 million in profit the Canadian manufacturer recorded in
2013. Bombardier’s fourth-quarter net loss was $1.59 billion; in
2013’s December quarter, the manufacturer recorded $97 million in
At the end of 2014, Bombardier had short-term capital resources
of $3.8 billion, including $2.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
This was down from $4.8 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively, at the
end of 2013. Bombardier invested $2 billion last year in its development programs.
TransAsia grounding pilots
for failing to pass proficiency tests
Ten TransAsia pilots were grounded after failing basic oral tests
on the correct handling procedure for an engine flameout after
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the carrier suspended flights to send all active ATR pilots for retraining
following the fatal crash of a TransAsia ATR 72-600 in early
The turboprop aircraft, carrying 53 passengers and five crew,
crashed into a river in Taipei on Feb. 4 just over three minutes
after taking off. As of this writing, the death toll stands at 42 people, including the two pilots. Fifteen passengers survived the crash.
A spokesperson for Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council, Thomas
Wang, previously confirmed that information from the flight data
recorder (FDR) showed an alarm went off on flight GE235’s right
engine only 37 seconds after takeoff from Taipei, but that immediately afterward, the left engine was shut down. “The pilots had not
followed normal procedure,” he added.
The pilot retraining recall follows an order from the CAA that
both TransAsia and EVA Air subsidiary Uni Air carry out engine
and fuel system inspections on all the Pratt & Whitney Canada
PW127M powerplants on their ATR 72 fleet.