AIRBLUES MAKES HISTORY

Places Largest Order For 14 Aircraft Worth$700million

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 19 - 25, 2007

Airblue, the most vibrant and profit making airline of the country, has made history in the private sector by placing the largest orders for acquiring 14 new generation aircraft A320 aimed at bring age of the fleet to average of six years.

Obviously the move is to eyeing to grab the growing market share as Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Chief Operation Officer Airblue said Pakistan aviation market needs at least 150 aircraft to meet the growing demand. It is interesting to note that currently the total number of aircraft of all the operating airlines including PIA hardly 50 aircraft were on line in Pakistan.

Actually, Shahid Abbasi accompanied by Syed Nasir Ali, the Managing Director of Airblue was addressing a crowded press conference here today. Replying to a question regarding sky high fuel prices causing problems for the aviation industry, Abbasi agreed that the rising fuel prices are a great challenge for the airline industry today. As far as airblue was concerned, it is combating the problem by using fuel efficient aircraft and reducing cost of operation on other fronts of the airline business. Though the increasing cost could be passed on to the customers however it is the last option and done after the approval of the board of directors.

When his attention was drawn towards the wage inflation following the arrival of five six new airlines especially in the Middle East offering attractive salaries especially to technical staff in the airlines, he agreed but said that actually the wages are determined by the market forces and we have to move according to market requirement. He said that airblue has also increased the wages of the staff to avoid any sort of industrial problem.

It may be noted that recently there was some unrest in PIA where engineers first gone on slow down and later on strike just to press the management for increase in wages. It is interesting to note that most of the technical staff and air crew in the Middle East airlines have been acquired either from Pakistan or India which has created shortage of skilled manpower in the aviation industry of the country.

Abbasi disclosed that of the total cost of 14 new airbus aircraft, 50 percent would be financing by International Finance Corporation (IFC) for which negotiations are underway. He said that the formal agreement for the purchase of new A320-200 was signed between Airbus Industrie and airblue in Dubai last week during a five day airshow held in Dubai.

Abbasi said that first A320-200 aircraft would be delivered in July 2009 and thereafter one aircraft would be delivered after every three months thus completing the delivery of 14 aircraft by the end of 2012.

Airbus was also reviewing other aircraft requirements and is looking to acquire 4-8 modern places A350/787 for long haul routes based on the market situation, Abbasi said. Encouraged by the great success of Manchester flights, airblue has ambitions to open new destinations including London and other parts of the Europe. At present airblue operates seven domestic destinations as well as three flights to Dubai and Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Having a positive view of the aviation business outlook in Pakistan Abbasi said that the airline is interesting in acquiring three more aircraft on lease by June next year to expand its international network. Once the new aircraft are inducted in the fleet the airblue would expand towards West as well as East. Besides Middle East, new destinations may be in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. Salman Choudhary, Manager Commercial was also present on the occasion.

PIA FLIGHTS FOR SIALKOT FROM NOVEMBER 30

Pakistan International Airline's twice weekly flights to and from Sialkot the historical city and one of the major industrial centers of Pakistan will commence from November 30, 2007 for the comfort and convenience of its passengers.

A memorandum of understanding was recently signed between PIA and Sialkot International Airport Authority for mutual cooperation and joint promotion of Sialkot International Airport. The memorandum of Understanding was signed by Anwaar Rasul Khan, Senior Vice President PIA AND Mian Naeem Javed Director Sialkot International Airport.

Initially, PIA would operate flights on Tuesday and Fridays with departure of flights at 11 am from Karachi and arrival at Sialkot by 12.50 pm. Similarly the return flight will depart at 1.30 pm to reach Karachi at 3.20 pm.

ETIHAD AIRWAYS WINS FOOD AWARDS

Etihad Airways has been awarded "outstanding food service by a carrier" in the Middle East category in the Pax International Readership Awards 2007.

The Pax awards are dished out by the travel catering industry to recognize excellence in performance, achievement and product development across air, cruise, land and rail travel.

This latest award follows Etihad's success in August 2007 when the airline was found to serve up the "best economy class food in the world" in the global survey by Skytrax.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways' executive vice president marketing and product said "we pride ourselves in continually seeking to challenge traditional industrial norms and provide the best possible levels of hospitality across our international flight network.

"In-flight during is a fundamental part of the Etihad travel experience and it is a terrific honor to be recognized with this award which is voted for by travel professionals and it is an achievement that we value greatly".

The airline's innovative approach to food services was singled out as a key factor in winning the top accolade. Baumgartner added" At Etihad we look to recreate the same fine dining experience that our customers would expect at a top restaurant.

EMIRATES 21st CENTURY ENGINEERING CENTRE IS OFFICIALLY INAUGURATED

Amidst much fanfare and in the presence of over 300 government representatives, industry partners, air show participants and company employees, Emirates Airline inaugurated its state-of-the-art Engineering Centre.

The 21st century facility capable of accommodating maintenance requirements of current and next generation aircraft was officially opened by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum on the fourth day of the Dubai Air show.

The Dhs 1.3 billion (US$ 353 million) facility constructed on a 55 hectare site on the north side of Dubai International Airport is one of the biggest and most advanced engineering facilities in the world.

Sheikh Ahmed said: "Congratulations to the entire team for establishing an engineering centre of excellence that is capable of supporting the heavy and light maintenance requirements of Emirates" burgeoning fleet as well as those of other airlines. Emirates has recently placed the airline world's single largest aircraft order worth US$ 35 billion in list prices. This calls heavily on the engineering team to ensure our existing and new fleet are well-maintained and in top-notch condition."

Adel Al Redha, Emirates" Executive Vice President Engineering and Operations added: "Emirates is experiencing an unprecedented rate of growth, adding more than one new aircraft to its fleet every month. With high utilisation of our fleet, the engineering team has the challenge of supporting a busy operating schedule, whilst at all times ensuring high dispatch reliability and safe operations. Through the dedication, professionalism and commitment of our staff, I can proudly say that we have achieved the highest standards of engineering and maintenance practices."

The centre has eight hangars, each 110 by 105 metres; more than twice the size of a soccer field. One hangar is specially equipped for aircraft painting. The hangar's dimensions ensure that it can accommodate all types of wide-bodied passenger jets, including the Airbus A380, of which Emirates has 58 on firm order. The hangars are almost the same size as the A380 facilities specially constructed by Airbus in Toulouse to assemble the plane.

Each hangar has a mezzanine docking system for access to aircraft, while three hangars are equipped with full fuselage docking systems designed for heavy maintenance. Hangars also include roof-mounted cranes.

Support services such as air conditioning and electrical power are housed underground. When needed, consoles are raised from the floor. This avoids potential accidents caused by trailing wires across the hangar floor.

The hangar is built using light and translucent materials that improve the working environment. Outside the hangars, the Engineering Centre has nine dedicated aircraft parking bays with facilities for refuelling.

Emirates" uncompromising commitment to safety, quality and customer satisfaction is borne out by the department's list of approvals including the ISO 9002 and JAR 145 accreditation.