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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:23 AM   #1201
hkskyline
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Ryanair to cut overall fares, but penalize passengers who check in luggage
By JANE WARDELL
25 January 2006

LONDON (AP) - Europe's largest low-cost airline Ryanair Holdings PLC unveiled a new check-in system Wednesday that will cut overall fares -- but penalize passengers who book luggage into the hold and reward those who travel with just hand baggage.

In a move that will put further pressure on both its full-cost and budget rivals, Ryanair said that from mid-March all European Union passengers with hand luggage only will be able to check in online, allowing them to avoid queues at both check-in and the departure gate.

Fares will fall 9 percent -- or around 2.50 pounds (euro3.50; US$4.30) per ticket -- across the board as part of the change, but those checking in bags will then be charged 2.50 pounds (euro3.50; US$4.30) a bag.

"The costs of check-in will no longer be spread unfairly across all passengers," Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said in London. "Passengers only pay for what they use."

While some full-service carriers already allow passengers to check-in online, Ryanair is the first no-frills operator in Europe to offer the service.

Under the new system, all passengers traveling with hand luggage and in possession of an EU passport will be able to check in online, receiving a barcode and boarding pass that will allow them to bypass check-in desks at the airport. They will also receive priority boarding, meaning they will skip queues at the gate.

Passengers wanting to take luggage will be asked to declare the bags when they book online and charged 2.50 pounds per piece with a limit of two bags per passenger. If they fail to declare the bags when booking online, they will be charged a 5 pound (euro7; US$9) fee per bag at the airport.

The airline estimates that lower ticket revenues and excess baggage fees will cost it 100 million pounds (euro145 million; US$180 million) a year, but it expects the move to increase passenger numbers and lower airport and handling costs by around euro30 million (US$37 million) a year.

O'Leary said he expects the changes to encourage more of Ryanair's passengers to travel with hand luggage only, but denied that the airline was attempting to move toward completely scratching checked bags.

Currently, about 25 percent of Ryanair's passengers have just hand luggage while 50 percent have one bag and 25 percent have two bags. Based on a forecast that the airline will carry 42 million passengers in the year ending March 31, 2007, Ryanair estimates that it will earn 52.5 million pounds (euro75 million; US$95 million) in baggage revenues from those with one bag and an additional 52.5 million pounds from those with two bags.

Ryanair has managed to grow exponentially over the past few years by dispensing with extras such as free food and drink, reclining seats, window blinds and covered walkways to its planes.

O'Leary said it was time to take the cost-cutting fight to the next level.

"We have done all the easy cuts like taking seat trays out, fly to out-of-town airports ... we have got to be more creative at how we tackle costs and we are now getting into larger pattern costs like the inefficiencies of airports," he said.

The service will be rolled out initially at the airline's main hubs in Dublin in Ireland and Stansted, just outside London. O'Leary said that the Irish, British and German governments and most in Scandinavia have already approved online check-in, and he expected governments in the airline's other destinations to follow.

Ryanair shares rose 2.4 percent to euro7.90 (US$9.71) in trading on the London Stock Exchange.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 08:21 AM   #1202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
Business Times - 24 Jan 2006

Jetstar launches Bangalore service

By VEN SREENIVASAN

(SINGAPORE) Qantas-controlled Jetstar Asia touched down in Bangalore yesterday, making it the first foreign low-cost carrier to fly to the Indian IT hub in Karnataka. Jetstar will operate four flights a week between Changi and Bangalore's International Airport using its A320 aircraft. The flights take off from Singapore at 1.25 am every Monday, Wednesday Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, touching down in Bangalore at 2:55 am local time. The return flight will depart from Bangalore at 3:45 am, arriving in Singapore at 10:25 am the same morning.

Fares will start from S$228 - a third of what it costs on the traditional carriers plying the route - with ticket sales available via the website www.JetstarAsia.com, through Jetstar Asia call centre, or local travel agents. Neil Thompson, acting Jetstar CEO, expects loads on the route to be strong. 'We are also confident that we'll not only be able to take market share, but also tap into the latent demand that exists in the market.'

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
The price Jetstarasia is quoting is quite expensive for an airline that touts itself as a LCC!
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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:45 PM   #1203
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Air Canada bid ousts Singapore

The Age - January 28, 2006

Opposition is hardening within Federal Government ranks on allowing Singapore Air access to the trans-Pacific route after Air Canada this week announced plans to begin flights between Los Angeles and Sydney early next year.

Air Canada will join Qantas and United Airlines to be the only airlines to fly directly on the route, which accounts for up to 20 per cent of Qantas' profits.

"It certainly diminishes the argument Singapore has for the need for more competition," said federal Liberal backbencher and Qantas supporter Bruce Baird.

"From my point of view they (Air Canada) have more claim to fly across the Pacific than Singapore Airlines because they will be flying Canadians back home," he said.

There is further speculation another US carrier may enter the capacity-starved route amid early signs of a recovery in the North American aviation market.

According to some reports, Singapore Air had already lost the support of some politicians. A federal cabinet aviation policy review due in March is expected to heavily restrict Singapore Air's access on the LA route. There are suggestions Singapore Air might be allowed to operate a paltry three weekly services from Sydney to LA and not use its giant A380s on the route.

The Government leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, previously cited as a supporter of opening up the route, is now said to be against Singapore flying on it.

Prime Minister John Howard has already voiced caution over allowing Singapore Air on the route. And there is speculation National Party leader Mark Vaile and Senator Ian Campbell have softened their pro-competition stance.

Qantas is now expected to argue that Singapore Air's entry to the route would see it competing with three Star Alliance airlines on the route.

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation managing director Peter Harbison said the Air Canada announcement could damage Singapore Air's ability to gain access to the Sydney to Los Angeles route.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 07:36 AM   #1204
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easyJet price too steep for suitors: Haji-Ioannou

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 28, 2006 (AFP) - Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of low-cost airline easyJet, is not adamantly opposed to selling his 16.5 percent stake in the carrier, but his price is so high it would most likely put off a potential buyer, he said Saturday.

Speaking to AFP at the World Economic Forum, Haji-Ioannou said: "The chances are that my selling price, given the other links and sensitivities to the brand and to the company, are above someone's rational willingness to pay."

"In any event whatever happens I still own the brand, which means that I need to approve the person that will buy it, or withdraw the brand."

Speculation has been rife that FL Group, the acquisitive Icelandic firm that now has a 16.2 percent stake in easyJet, is poised to bid for the British-based airline.

FL owns Icelandair, that country's flag carrier, and bought Copenhagen-based Sterling Airways, Europe's fourth biggest budget airline, for 240 million dollars (198 million euros) in October.

Stelios' brother Polys and sister Clelia each hold a 12 percent stake in easyJet, making the family interest 40.5 percent.

Asked if he would allow FL to retain the easyJet brand if it did buy the airline, Haji-Ioannou said: "I don't know enough about them.

"There are many things that you have to look at before you approve a licensee, because that is what they would be.

"I want to be satisfied that they will run it well and that they're well capitalised for the financial challenges in this business. It's a process that will start if they ever make an offer."
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Old January 29th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #1205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Ryanair to cut overall fares, but penalize passengers who check in luggage
That's good news! I don't want to pay for the heavy luggage of other passengers. I hope other airlines will follow.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 07:36 PM   #1206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micro
That's good news! I don't want to pay for the heavy luggage of other passengers. I hope other airlines will follow.
For short-haul carriers such as Ryanair, it's very feasible, since people may be travelling for a short period of time (ie. a weekend getaway). But for conventional carriers with long-haul routes such as BA, charging for luggage may not be all that reasonable. After all, how many passengers will fly across an ocean and can fit everything into hand carry luggage?
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Old February 4th, 2006, 02:36 AM   #1207
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Ryanair says January loadings steady at 74 pct

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - European budget airline Ryanair said on Friday its load factor, a measure of how well it is filling planes, was 74 percent of capacity in January, steady with a year earlier.

Dublin-based Ryanair said it carried 2.54 million passengers in January, up from 2.04 million a year earlier.

Ryanair, which is due to announce third-quarter earnings on Feb. 6, expects profits to rise 10 percent this year after continuing to expand aggressively in Europe.

The airline expects to carry 35 million passengers for the year.

However, Ryanair said in December it had trimmined some flights in January to March due to the late delivery of new aircraft from Boeing .

Rival British Airways said earlier on Friday its January passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres, rose 3.3 percent and its load factor for the month was 72.5 percent of capacity.

Ryanair shares were trading 1.3 percent firmer in Dublin to 7.70 euros at 1027 GMT.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 04:34 PM   #1208
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Ryanair Profit Slips 21% On Oil Costs, Accounting Move
6 February 2006
By Aude Lagorce

LONDON (Dow Jones) -- Ryanair Holdings, Europe's largest low-cost airline, said Monday profit declined 21% due to higher fuel costs and a year-ago accounting-related gain.

The airline also maintained a cautious outlook for the rest of the year and predicted ticket prices would fall in the March-ending quarter as competition intensifies.

Third-quarter net income for the Ireland-based airline fell to 36.8 million euros ($44.2 million) from 46.7 million euros a year earlier. The year-ago quarter benefited from a change in how the airline accounted for the 2003 acquisition of Buzz from Holland's KLM.

Ryanair shares (RYAAY) skidded 3.8% in London in early afternoon trading.

Excluding the one-time gain of 11.9 million euros in the third quarter of 2004, adjusted profit rose 6% to 36.8 million euros, which was below analysts' consensus expectations of about 38 million euros.

Revenue jumped 27% to 370.7 million euros as traffic grew 26% to 8.6 million passengers. The average fare remained unchanged.

Unit costs, the ratio of operating expenses to traffic, increased 3% as fuel costs jumped 59% to 114.9 million euros.

Excluding fuel, unit costs fell 6%.

Ryanair said 90% of its fuel needs are hedged until the end of the fiscal year at $49 a barrel. The carrier, however, has no protection against higher energy prices going forward and said it continues to monitor prices.

"Fuel poses a major challenge entering 2006/2007, but recent moves to save 30 million euros in baggage handling costs etc., should partly mitigate this increase," analysts for NCB Stockbrokers told clients.

"We have a 20% after-tax margin. This is what allows us to absorb higher fuel costs better than competitors," Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley told CNBC Europe television in an interview.

Looking ahead, Ryanair said it remains cautious about the fourth quarter, when it expects average fares to fall by 5% to 10% as a result of the airline's "large capacity growth in this weakest winter quarter as well as the impact of Easter falling in April."

Ryanair left its guidance for the year unchanged.

Last month, the no-frills airline said it would launch a service allowing passengers to check in online starting on March 16.

As a result of savings on check-in agents, desks and baggage handlers, Ryanair said it expects the average fare to fall by 9%.

The new service will spare long queues to passengers without luggage, but others will pay 3.50 euros per checked in bag.

The airline estimates the new service will allow it to reduce airport and handling costs by up to 30 million euros a year.

Last week, low-cost rival Flybe became the first carrier to charge people for checking in their luggage. Travelers with Flybe now have to pay either two pounds ($3.50) in advance or four pounds on the day of travel for every item of luggage checked in for each leg of their journey.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 12:50 PM   #1209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
Rolling 12 month passenger totals to December 2005:
EasyJet = 30,301,991
Ryanair = 33,368,585

Percentage increase in passengers since December 2004:
EasyJet = 11.1%
Ryanair = 29%

Load factor (ie percentage bums on seats) in December 2005:
EasyJet = 85%
Ryanair = 82%
Rolling 12 month passenger totals to January 2006:
EasyJet = 30,534,888
Ryanair = 33,865,381

Percentage increase in passengers since January 2005:
EasyJet = 11.2%
Ryanair = 24%

Load factor (ie percentage bums on seats) in January 2006:
EasyJet = 74.2%
Ryanair = 74%
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Old February 7th, 2006, 04:11 PM   #1210
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Business Times - 07 Feb 2006

Jetstar Asia to get fourth new CEO in a year

By VEN SREENIVASAN

QANTAS-controlled budget airline Jetstar Asia will soon get its fourth chief executive in just over a year. The new boss is believed to be a Singapore resident - and female.

BT understands from well-placed sources that after a two month head-hunting exercise, Qantas has finally chosen a replacement for Neil Thompson, who took over at Jetstar Asia temporarily when his predecessor Ken Ryan had to move late last year.

The new chief executive is expected to be announced within a week or so.

At the same time, Qantas itself could announce top-level management changes. These could involve chief spokesman and chief financial officer Peter Gregg taking over as head of the group from its well-known and outspoken current chief executive and Jetstar Asia chairman Geoff Dixon.

Several senior officials and Jetstar Asia board members, including Mr Gregg and Jetstar Australia chief executive Alan Joyce, were in Singapore recently to discuss operations and finalise the appointment of Jetstar Asia's new chief executive.

Current chief executive Mr Thompson, an 18-year Qantas veteran who managed the group's frequent flyer programme in Australia before heading to Singapore in December, will move back to its Sydney headquarters next month. He arrived in Singapore late last year after his predecessor Mr Ryan had to return to Sydney because of family circumstances.

Mr Ryan had taken over at Jetstar Asia from Con Korfiatis, who got the carrier off the ground here in late 2004. Both Mr Ryan and Mr Korfiatis are back at the Qantas head office.

Another high-profile departure from Jetstar Asia was head of marketing Dorit Grueber, who left in December to set up her own branding and marketing consultancy.

No other executive changes are anticipated at the budget carrier. Paul Daff remains head of commercial affairs, while Greg Thompson remains chief pilot on secondment from Qantas. And Mike Hewitt from Qantas is expected to stay on as head of ground and route operations.

Jetstar Asia and sister discount carrier Valuair are part of Orange Star, an airline holding company set up by Qantas after it took over the struggling Valuair last year.

Jetstar focuses on destinations in Thailand, Philippines, Indochina, India, Taiwan and elsewhere in the region, while Valuair flies to the Indonesian cities of Surabaya, Denpasar and Jakarta.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #1211
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09 February 2006

Budget carrier JetStar Asia appoints Singaporean as CEO

SINGAPORE : A Singaporean with extensive experience in the travel and leisure industry has been appointed chief executive of budget carrier JetStar Asia, the airline's parent firm said Thursday.

Chong Phit Lian will replace Ken Ryan, who returned to Sydney in December to take up a new senior role at Qantas, JetStar Asia's main shareholder, Orangestar Holdings Pte Ltd said in a statement.

Neil Thompson, another Qantas executive, had been JetStar Asia's acting chief executive officer following Ryan's departure.

Chong is currently chief executive and president of The Singapore Mint.

She is also the director of several companies in travel, hotel, lifestyle and leisure businesses within Singapore's SembCorp Industries Group covering Singapore, Malaysia, China and Spain, the statement said.

Chong will be the first Singaporean chief executive of JetStar Asia, which was launched in 2004 and is 49 percent owned by Australian carrier Qantas.

JetStar Asia absorbed Valuair, a Singaporean budget carrier, last year amid increasing regional competition. - AFP/ch

Copyright © 2006 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old February 10th, 2006, 11:47 PM   #1212
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Ryanair rejects documentary claims
Friday February 10, 04:57 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - European low-cost airline Ryanair on Friday rejected allegations about safety and other issues by two undercover television reporters who filmed secretly while posing as cabin crew at the carrier's main London base.

Channel 4 is due to air the documentary on Monday, which features secret footage taken over five months while the reporters trained and worked as cabin crew at Stansted Airport.

Ryanair published correspondence on its Web site on Friday from the Dispatches programme that outlined allegations by the documentary about safety, security and staff training.

Channel 4 said it stood by the allegations.

"We absolutely stand by everything that's in the programme. It is based on five months worth of undercover work. All our allegations are on film," a Channel 4 spokesman said.

Ryanair rejected the allegations, which it said had been passed onto aviation regulatory authorities who also dismissed the claims.

"Ryanair operates to the highest European standards of safety and security," Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement.

Ryanair has shown increasing concern about potential negative publicity from the programme since details emerged this week in British newspapers and on television trailers for the documentary.

Dublin-based Ryanair, well known for its aggressive price-cutting and no-frills service, has offset rising fuel prices with cost cuts as it expands rapidly in Europe.

Ryanair shares were down 1.8 percent at 7.7 euros in Dublin at 4:13 p.m.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 03:52 AM   #1213
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Feb 11, 2006
THINKING ALOUD
There's big money in low-cost travel

By Susan Long

ON A holiday in Darwin recently, not one person bothered to ask me about the hanging of Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van.

But practically everyone I met - from taxi drivers, luggage handlers, shopkeepers to park rangers - asked about something closer to their heart: 'Singapore? Are you here on those cheap Tiger tickets?'

They had all read about the amazing Tiger Airways deal in the Northern Territory News: Singapore to Darwin one-way, starting from $1.

They went over their holiday plans with me, checking the best times to visit the Night Safari, swim at Sentosa and dine at Equinox.

Their enthusiasm fleshed out perhaps the most unexplored and unplumbed dimension of the budget airline revolution.

Ever since Singapore's low-cost carriers (LCCs) took flight nearly two years ago, the national preoccupation has been what new bargain destinations to add to our weekend getaway repertoire.

But what's in it for us - in the long haul - is the larger, unexplored potential of all these second- and third-tier cities, like Padang, Surabaya, Danang, Hat Yai and Darwin, that our carriers now jet to.

Previously landlocked by rigid international airline routes and sky-high fares, they are now being set free by the budget revolution.

The populations (read: potential inbound passengers) at the other ends of these budget routes are enormous: nine million in Bangkok; 6.5 million in Bangalore; 5.3 million in Ho Chi Minh City; three million in Hanoi; three million in Surabaya; and 1.5 million in Manila.

Many of these are recently affluent frontiers with a growing disposable income and a newly whetted appetite for travel. For several like Darwin, Singapore is the nearest big city (4 1/2 hours away), geographically closer than Sydney.

It is also a cheaper gateway to catch a connecting flight too. Qantas, for example, charges as much as A$400 (S$480) one-way from Darwin to Sydney, compared with Tiger Airways' A$46 Internet deal from Darwin to Singapore.

Such crazy, never-seen-before fares are shaking up regional travel patterns.

Hat Yai's denizens used to have to backtrack north to Bangkok in order to fly down south to Singapore - until September 2004. Since then, one packed Tiger plane wings here direct from Hat Yai every day, at fares starting from $9.98.

For the first time, the relatives of Filipino maids are catching budget flights to Singapore to see the Merlion and where their daughters, wives and mothers work, instead of having to wait for their biennial visits home.

It is no longer one-way traffic, thanks to Tiger's $49.98 fares from Clark International Airport, an hour's drive north of Manila.

Such affordability has made us all rethink travel as less of a major purchase and more a routine part of life, equivalent to buying a pair of shoes or eating at a restaurant.

Soon, this region will probably see another well-documented effect of scandalously low fares - rising second home ownership.

Just as in Europe where Ryanair's cheap flights made it affordable for Britain's middle class to snap up vacation homes in the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Provence, more Singaporeans - and other affluent Asians - will start picking up real estate bargains regionally.

Besides that, wherever LCCs have taken off, a tourism bubble has followed.

Last year, not coincidentally the first full year of operations for the three LCCs based here, saw Singapore welcoming a record 8.94 million tourists. They stayed a record 30.6 million days and spent a record $10.8 billion.

This year, Tiger Airways - which will soon hit its one million passenger mark - is adding seven new destinations to its current 13. Two of them are southern China cities to be announced soon. Half of its routes are to ravenous new markets where no other airline flies direct.

With all this momentum, I am glad we forged ahead with plans to open a dedicated LCC airport, despite initial scepticism about its viability, with only one customer, Tiger, so far.

For one, building capacity ahead of demand has always been a winning aspect of Singapore's airport strategy.

For another, as Mr Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, puts it, it declares in sky-writing to the industry: 'We welcome LCCs.'

But as Singapore braces itself for the first plane to hit the tarmac of our very literally named Budget Terminal next month, it is time to take stock of the work that lies ahead.

How prepared is Singapore for the onslaught of budget travellers headed our way? Do we have an encompassing breadth of experiences at varying price points - in accommodation, retail, leisure - to cater to a wide cross-section of budgets?

Are we hungry enough to cast aside our prejudices to cater to first-time, Third World tourists toting newly issued passports and striped nylon luggage? Most of all, with low fares stimulating the trend of multiple short-haul trips, do we have enough to sustain the interest of the second- and third-time visitor?

Because budget does not mean shoestring. In fact, the reverse is often true.

Citing studies done by Britain's Cranfield University, Tiger Airways chief executive Tony Davis says that budget fares stimulated the greatest surge in travel among the middle class, rather than the lower-income group.

And if the fares were low, anecdotally, travellers spent more on hotels, meals, sightseeing and shopping.

'For example, some Singaporeans fly on Tiger and stay at Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. They worked out that if they fly budget and stay in a five-star hotel, it works out the same as using a full service airline and staying in a three-star hotel,' he says.

(The Oriental Bangkok, one of the world's most luxurious hotels, costs upwards of $500 a night on discount websites.)

So, instead of being jittery about building one of the area's first low-cost terminals, it is likely we would soon be talking expansion.

The writer is editor of the Saturday Special Report.

[email protected]

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #1214
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Ryanair accused of security lapses and crew fatigue
By David Millward, Transport Correspondent
11 February 2006
The Daily Telegraph

RYANAIR, Europe's largest budget airline, has been accused of security lapses, flying dirty aircraft and making its cabin crew and pilots work excessively long hours.

The allegations, made in a Channel 4 documentary to be broadcast on Monday, followed an investigation in which two reporters spent five months secretly filming on Ryanair flights as well as the training it offers its staff.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, dismissed the findings, saying that the airline operated to the highest European safety standards and had an unblemished 20-year safety record.

In a highly unusual move the airline used its website to publish the extensive correspondence it had with the programme's makers, Steve Boulton Productions.

Among the most damaging claims in the documentary were accusations that passport checks prior to boarding were not carried out properly. On more than one occasion, it was alleged, passports were not examined. On a flight at Gothenburg, people were allowed on the plane by presenting only a boarding card.

The airline strenuously denied that passports were not properly checked, not least because it faced heavy fines for any passengers it brought to Britain without proper travel documents.

According to the undercover reporters, trainee staff were not given the three days on-board training required under the airline's own manual before being put to work.

This again was denied by Ryanair, which insisted that the undercover reporters were given the training as set out in the company's manual.

The documentary, Dispatches, also highlights poor cleanliness which, it maintained, arose from the 25 minutes Ryanair allows to turn flights around.

On one occasion, it was alleged, a member of the cabin crew suggested using after-shave to mask the smell of vomit found on the floor, because there was not enough time to clean it.

Ryanair said that its records showed no evidence of any passenger having been sick on the flight.

The airline was also accused of making cabin crew and pilots work excessive hours. It was said to treat the pilots' maximum 100 hours a month flying time as a target rather than a limit. One pilot alleged that he feared being sacked if he refused to fly after complaining about being tired.

Ryanair denied the allegations. "Cabin crew fatigue is an issue which we take every precaution to eliminate, which is why our rosters are published one month in advance and why the legal limits for cabin crew and pilots' hours are observed and maintained throughout the year.''

A company spokesman said last night: "We have replied to all allegations made and have copied all of this correspondence at every stage to the relevant aviation regulatory authorities in the UK and Ireland, (the Civil Aviation Authority and Irish Aviation Authority) and they have also confirmed that they can find no substance to any of these written allegations on the basis of the evidence thus far produced by Dispatches.''
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Old February 12th, 2006, 05:43 PM   #1215
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Critical shortage of pilots forces Ryanair to cancel flights
12 February 2006
The Sunday Independent (Ireland)

RYANAIR is being forced to put new aircraft into temporary storage and to cancel flights because of a critical shortage of pilots. This revelation comes in the wake of an Aarhus incident where a Ryanair jet skidded off a runway after landing and as Channel Four prepares to air a controversial documentary made by reporters posing as cabin crew.

The makers of the programme, which goes out tomorrow night, say it will show what really takes place behind the scenes and will feature dirty planes, exhausted cabin crew and pilots complaining about the number of hours they have to fly.

While rapid growth is partly to blame for pilot shortages and recent flight cancellations, pilot sources say that aggressive Ryanair interpretation of duty hours is the main reason. Airline pilots cannot work more than 900 flying hours a year.

At Ryanair the official flying year ends on March 31 but pilot sources say that many Ryanair pilots have already completed this number of hours and are forbidden by aviation law to fly again until April 1 next. According to pilot sources, they have often exceeded their hours because they were asked to work additional rosters to fill in for pilots on sick leave and to cope with new routes.

The Sunday Independent has received reports of several brand new Ryanair aircraft parked at UK airfields, including Luton.

In late December Ryanair announced it was curtailing about one per cent of flights blaming it entirely on the late delivery of four new planes from Boeing owing to a strike in its Seattle plant. At the time, the company said its Nottingham East Midlands and Pisa bases would be among the airports affected and added that the situation should return to normal in early April.

But in a recent statement, a Ryanair spokesperson admitted "some pilot flight hour restrictions which ensure that no pilot in Ryanair can fly more than 900 hours a year, which has been exacerbated by the delayed conversion training of Dublin-based 737-200 pilots on to our new 737-800 series aircraft".

However, pilot sources told the Sunday Independent that a shortage of pilots withremaining hours was now the most critical factor and had outstripped the late deliveries from Boeing in importance when it came to cancellations. A Dublin aviation source said there had been about two dozen Ryanair flights cancelled in the past two or three weeks.

While other airlines interpret the 900 hours a year rule as applying in any successive 12 calendar months, Ryanair has negotiated an arrangement with the Irish Aviation Authority whereby it has a fixed calendar year from March till April. While this works in the company's favour when recruiting pilots from other airlines who may, in fact, legally exceed the 900 hour rule as a result, it can penalise the airline at the other end of the roster year.

"I've met pilots who have legally worked 1,200 hours in 12 months," said one pilot.

Sources say the situation will improve dramatically for Ryanair on April 1 when the clock is reset for most of its pilots. However Ryanair, in the meantime, is relying heavily on freelance contract pilots and charter airlines to fly some routes. Monarch Airlines is one of the charter companies which is currently flying for Ryanair. A freelance captain was in charge of a Ryanair jet which dramatically aborted a landing at Beauvais last August. The aircraft in question made a dramatic low level turn over the control tower.

Meanwhile, a safety call by a Washington Federal agency has put Ireland's pilot working hours under the spotlight again. Following an investigation into the 2004 crash of a commuter aircraft near Kirksville, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board has called for a British-style system of rostering pilots to be introduced in the US. The US system is broadly similar to the one currently applying in Ireland.

The pilots in the Kirksville crash, which killed 11 passengers and two crew, had been on continuous duty for 14 1/2 hours and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigated the crash, said fatigue wasa major factor causing thepilots to make serious errors when attempting a landingin the dark. Their plane hit trees and crashed short of the runway.

The NTSB highlighted the fact that US pilots could be given rosters including a combination of very early morning and late night flights which seriously disrupted sleep patterns leaving pilots prone to fatigue. It recommends the British system, which forces airlines to take sleeping habits into account. Although the Irish Aviation Authority takes sleep requirements into account, Irish airlines have more flexibility in demanding that pilots work less congenial hours than their British counterparts.

The UK system is considered to provide a better balance between late night and early morning rosters than the Irish system, said Keith Bill, spokesman for the British Airline Pilots Association.

Meanwhile, in the wake of a series of high profile flying incidents involving Ryanair aircraft, the President of the Irish Airlines Pilots Association, Evan Cullen, has called for a US- and UK-style confidential reporting system for pilots to be introduced in this country by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

This would enable pilots to anonymously notify the IAA of safety lapses and close calls without running the risk of becoming the subject of a formal government investigation or risking disciplinary action by their employer. Such systems have been used successfully to flag safety issues in the US and the UK before they become major problems, Captain Cullen said.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #1216
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INTERVIEW-Ryanair plans major expansion in Germany

FRANKFURT, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Europe's biggest low-cost airline, Ryanair , plans a major expansion in Germany in the next two years to take advantage of demand for low-cost air travel and help it reach a goal to double traffic.

The airline plans to add more routes and two new bases in the country, in addition to expanding its only existing German base at Frankfurt-Hahn airport, Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley told Reuters in an interview.

"If we were to assess ourselves strategically in Germany at the moment, we are underweight," he said on Tuesday. "We need to establish more bases in Germany and we will.

"There's a lot of scope for development here. It just hasn't happened as quickly as we would want. But I would foresee it happening very quickly over the next couple of years."

Ryanair aims to increase its overall passenger count to 70 million by about 2010 from around 35 million in the current fiscal year and last week opened its 15th European base at England's East Midlands airport.

The carrier said recently it plans to triple the number of aircraft based at Frankfurt-Hahn to 18 in the coming years as it takes delivery of new Boeing 737-800 planes.

Cawley said Ryanair needed at least one more base in Germany in the next 12 to 18 months and that a third would quickly follow.

The third was most likely to be at Luebeck airport, near Hamburg, once legal issues were resolved to enable the airport to expand its infrastructure, he said.

Weeze airport, near Duesseldorf, was also a serious contender to become a base, Cawley added.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #1217
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EasyJet Adds 4 New Direct European Routes From Glasgow
15 February 2006
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--easyJet said Wednesday it is adding four new direct European routes from Glasgow. The daily new routes to Alicante, Berlin (Schönefeld) and Malaga, in addition to the weekly Palma flight, will bring the number of destinations served by easyJet to nine and will increase the capacity at its Glasgow base by 19%.

The airline expects to carry almost 300,000 passengers on these routes in the next 12 months.

The daily Glasgow to Berlin service that commences on 3 May is a result of investment from the Scottish Executive, in the form of the route development fund.

easyJet will also benefit from funding, in the form of marketing support, from VisitScotland and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.

The Glasgow to Alicante and Glasgow to Malaga services both start on 7 July with the Palma flights starting on 20 May.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #1218
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Business Times - 16 Feb 2006

Tiger to cut check-in time at Budget Terminal

(SINGAPORE) Tiger Airways is confident that the new Budget Terminal at Changi Airport will help it cut check-in time for passengers.

The airline's chief executive Tony Davis said yesterday that the design of the terminal and the location of Tiger's check-in facilities mean that passengers will get to aircraft boarding gates faster.

'This allows us to reduce the check-in deadline from the current 45 minutes to just 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure time,' he said.

'However, we still encourage passengers to check-in two hours before departure time and have time to enjoy the facilities at the new Budget Terminal.'

Tiger Airways is the only airline that has so far committed to use the $45 million terminal, adjacent to Changi's Terminal 2, though the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has indicated that it is in talks with several carriers.

Tiger Airway's local rival, Jetstar Asia, has declined to move to the new terminal, as has privately owned Indonesian carrier Adam Air.

This is despite the fact that airlines will save $165 on the use of an aerobridge, while the passenger service charge is just $7 - half that at Terminals 1 and 2.

Tiger Airways, which has appointed Swissport its ground services agent at the Budget Terminal, will start using the facility as soon as it opens on March 26.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #1219
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Singapore's Budget Terminal only has one tenant so far.
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Old February 22nd, 2006, 05:02 PM   #1220
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easyJet says profits on course despite soaring fuel costs

LONDON, Feb 22, 2006 (AFP) - British low-cost airline easyJet said on Wednesday that its first-half losses would be double an initial estimate owing to surging fuel costs, but said it would still meet full-year profit targets.

Investors took the news badly, and easyJet's share price fell by 2.31 percent to 381.0 pence in afternoon London deals. The FTSE 250 index, on which easyJet is listed, eased 0.04 percent to 9,455.00 points.

"Overall, we plan to achieve mid to high single-digit percentage profit growth in the current financial year" to September 30, easyJet chairman Colin Chandler told shareholders at the group's annual general meeting.

In a trading update released the same day, easyJet said it forecast a 50-percent jump in fuel costs during the six months to the end of March, resulting in an additional charge of about 55.0 million pounds (80.5 million euros, 96.0 million dollars).

"Our good performance on reducing costs and increasing ancillary revenues has partially mitigated the increase in fuel, and as a result we anticipate a pre-tax loss of approximately 45 million pounds for the first half of the year," the group said.

That was in line with the airline's full-year guidance and compared to a pre-tax loss of 22 million pounds in the first half of the previous financial year.

Easyjet meanwhile said that group revenue climbed by 14.0 percent to 318.8 million pounds during the three months to the end of December 2005, compared with the first quarter of its previous fiscal year.

Chandler also indicated that the carrier expected a slight reduction in total revenue per seat for the full year to September 2006.

"Lower unit passenger revenues are expected to be partly offset by ancillary revenues, which will improve with double-digit percentage growth supported by a series of new initiatives," Chandler said.

The airline made a pre-tax profit of 68.0 million pounds in the 12 months to September 30, 2005, an increase of 9.0 percent compared with 62.0 million pounds during the previous fiscal year.

EasyJet, whose main rival is the Irish no-frills carrier Ryanair, flies 224 routes between 67 European airports, including in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
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