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Old November 13th, 2008, 04:24 PM   #181
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ANALYSIS-Airlines rein in hedging despite oil price crash

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Europe's major airlines are deciding against striking new fuel hedging agreements for next year despite the plummeting oil price, as the global credit crisis and the collapse of Lehman Brothers hikes the cost of securing deals.

British Airways, Ryanair and Lufthansa have all said their hedging deals will be significantly reduced in the new year, snubbing the opportunity to lock in fuel bills despite oil falling to 22 month lows.

Oil has come down from highs of $147 a barrel in June to $55 today, leaving current airline hedging policies at around $90 or more looking well out of date.

But analysts and airlines have argued that it is far harder and more expensive to secure new hedging deals from banks in the wake of the credit crisis, especially after the collapse of Lehman Brothers -- a big player in the market.

"The hedging market is very illiquid at the moment -- its hard to find a counter-party in the deal," said Mark Thompson, airlines analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Germany's Lufthansa said at its third quarter results late last month that its hedging for the current year had been cut to 72 percent from 85 percent of its total bill as a result of the loss of a contract with Lehman Brothers.

Its hedging for 2009 is down at 57 percent, at an average of $91 a barrel.

Lehman became the biggest investment banking casualty of the credit crisis in September when it filed for bankrutpcy, meaning many airline hedging deals collapsed.

Michael Cawley, deputy chief executive at Ryanair, confirmed the banking crisis had affected the type of deals the airlines could get.

"There is a far less liquid market for futures in all parts including oil, so when we go to hedge it's not as easy as just making a phone call."

"There are far fewer people now who are prepared to take the chance, even with Ryanair," he said.

Neil Glynn, at Irish stockbrokers NCB, added that jet fuel itself has become much more expensive in relation to the price of crude. The spread between the two has widened to twice historic norms in recent weeks -- from 27 percent to as much as 60 percent.

OIL TO STAY LOW

British Airways has had 35 percent of next year's fuel bill hedged at $100 a barrel since the summer, but at its half year results last week said it remained hedged at less than 40 percent despite the changing conditions.

Finance Director Keith Williams said that if oil averaged out at $75 a barrel and the dollar at 1.65 to sterling, the carrier would lower its fuel bill to 2.8 billion pounds in 2009/10 from around 3 billion this year.

"The oil price is connected to economic downturn. The airlines are mindful that the economic outlook is looking substantially weaker, and that takes the pressure off," said Collins Stewart's Andrew Fitchie.

Air France-KLM uniquely hedges five years in advance, but at a recent investor roadshow finance director Philippe Calavia agreed with BA's strategy of making no major changes to existing hedging policy.

"In spite of the recent drop in the oil price, a positive factor for the economy and the group ... Air France-KLM will pursue its hedging policy," he said, adding however that any future hedging contracts would of course reflect the recent fall in prices.

Ryanair was about a year too early with its strategy of not hedging fuel, but then famously lost millions of euros as oil reached unprecedented highs during the summer.

It then hedged at triple figures a barrel for the current quarter, but is now switching back to an unhedged approach because of the sharp fall.

"Looking back it was stupid not to hedge on oil but we're not hedged for the remainder of the year (to March 2009) and that's a good thing," O'Leary said in a recent interview with the Irish Examiner.

The Dublin-based airline has taken a hedge for 25 percent of its fuel needs for the first half of the 2009/2010 fiscal year at an average $77 per barrel, but is willing to leave the rest to chance.

"The absence of fuel hedging, so long a handicap for profitability (for Ryanair), is now proving to be an asset," Cazenove analyst Edward Stanford said in a note, referring to the likely comparative fuel bills for this year and next.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #182
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EU consumer czar to take misleading airlines to court

BRUSSELS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The European Union's consumer chief gave some of Europe's top airlines a final warning on Tuesday to stop misleading consumers or face possible fines and having their websites shut down.

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva will give airlines who mislead or rip off customers until the end of the year "to clean up their act" or she will begin legal proceedings in January, a European Commission official said.

"She has run out of patience and will tell the airlines that this is the last chance saloon for them," the official said.

A probe by the EU's executive in May found that one in three European consumers were being misled or ripped off by websites selling airline tickets including many run by leading airlines across the 27-member bloc.

But Kuneva is angry that despite repeated warnings since then, many airlines still breach EU rules with unfair pricing, hidden charges, and terms and conditions not translated properly.

"Airlines are continuing to advertise free flights that are not free at all and are forcing people to take unwanted insurance and baggage charges because they don't realise they need to unclick the option on the website," the official said.

Online booking is critical for the EU airline travel industry, which Commission figures show caters to over 700 million passengers per year.

Kuneva will issue her warning at a meeting on Tuesday with the Association of European Airlines, representing major airlines such as British Airways and Scandinavian Airlines.

She will also on Tuesday outline her intentions when she meets members of the European Low Fares Airline Association which includes Ryanair, easyJet and Clickair.

"She will firstly order member states to start court action against offenders, but if necessary she will take out injunctions against the airlines herself which can lead to fines or the closure of their websites," the official said.

The official added that Brussels will carry out "mystery customer" surveys over the coming weeks to determine which airlines are still breaking the law.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 10:37 PM   #183
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I've still seen many fares, especially on Ryanair, being listed without taxes.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 02:56 AM   #184
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Ryanair DO offer flights from 1p. no tax and no added extras, if you chose not to add luggage and pre-boarding etc so why shouldn't they advertise such fares?

This year, I have flown from Glasgow to Dublin twice, London and Paris with Ryanair. Combining the total cost of all four trips comes to £0.08 per person.

Ryanair =
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Old November 27th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #185
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Yes ... all but one of the Ryanair flights I flew in the past year advertised the fare, then added taxes. The exception was 1 fare that had no taxes but was not 1p.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #186
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Obviously if there are no taxes being added then they can advertise that, but last week they had a flight for 1 SEK and when I clicked on it suddenly it went up up up with taxes.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 08:36 PM   #187
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan1113 View Post
Obviously if there are no taxes being added then they can advertise that, but last week they had a flight for 1 SEK and when I clicked on it suddenly it went up up up with taxes.
They advertise fares FROM £0.01 etc so if your flight happens to have tax, well bad luck but there are flights avalable with NO taxes.

People just love to hate Ryanair.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 03:37 AM   #188
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But then, even after taxes the Ryanair fares are still very attractive. Imagine 20 GBP for a one-way from London to Germany for a weekend getaway!

I think people just need to be more careful when they research and look for the grand totals, although harmonization of rules across the continent should make that task a lot easier.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #189
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Buckle up as airlines cut passengers loose
9 December 2008
Daily Telegraph

PLASTERED along a row of seats on an Alitalia flight from London to Rome yesterday there was a telling sign on the state of world travel. ``Do not occupy,'' the signs read in English on the damaged mid-cabin row.

It was not so much that the seats were out of use -- nor did it matter that at least one other seat broke during the reasonably short flight and should have also been deemed unusable.

It is that this was clearly not the first flight of the day for the aircraft or the message suggesting the Italian airline, reportedly losing $1.6 million a day, can simply not afford to ground aircraft long enough for badly-needed maintenance.

It is a sign indicative of an industry that is struggling to survive the current economic turbulence.

It is also a telling indicator for what analysts predict will be the financial collapse of so many airlines in the world in the next 12 months, that just four alliances -- such as Star Alliance and Oneworld -- will exist.

Many cheap airlines particularly in Europe should not be flying, Alitalia being one of them, but mergers create an already beleaguered traveller with yet another challenge.

Consolidation, to combat jet fuel costs and dropping passenger numbers, will have a dire consequence for travellers with a limited choice of when and where to fly, the likely forced collapse of many smaller airlines unable to compete against the might of an alliance and a lack of competitive pricing which, in turn, will see the standard of travel fall.

Mergers push prices up as key routes become less competitive.

And, of course, less flights mean less options for the already near impossible frequent flyer programs.

Last week British Airways took another step toward a mega-merger confirming speculation it was looking to join operations with Qantas.

The public have a right to be cynical about Qantas' latest move, the genesis of which no doubt was created in a boardroom. It can be no coincidence that management two months ago -- then headed by Geoff Dixon -- publicly revealed the airline had taken less forward bookings due to the economic gloom and BA's boss Willie Walsh upped his downbeat view, if that is possible from the media hungry man, on BA and the industry in general. Walsh recently painted a dire picture, no doubt to help his own cause.

``This industry is in crisis -- a deeper, more protracted, more fundamental crisis than 9/11, the Gulf War or any of the previous shocks that have beset the industry since the age of mass air transport began in the 1970s,'' he extolled before repeating his prediction that dozens of smaller airlines would collapse in coming weeks.

Now it's up to Irishman Alan Joyce -- who The Daily Telegraph revealed in July was already keeping an ``eye out for [consolidation] opportunities'' -- to show this is in the public's interest.

No doubt those opportunities were already being created months ago and again the national carrier forged ahead in complete arrogance toward the real airline owners, the Australian public who are the airline's patrons.

It was his decision to announce it in the UK -- without asking Australians first. Yesterday he began his sales campaign -- a week late in the minds of many. He did make one consolation, that is to pledge operations would remain in Australia. But I recall a few years ago the unions were promised the same thing with key maintenance contracts.

Mergers may be good news for airlines and shareholders, who will no doubt argue its in the public's best interest to see a future in a local airline, but in reality it's a lose-lose for passengers.

Qantas kept prices high for years while it didn't have domestic competition. Could it do the same again internationally? And what of fuel costs? The tie-up with a foreign partner is no doubt going to be used as an excuse for high fuel prices based on some other country's formula.

For Qantas, the merger move will help increase the pool of capital funds -- particularly since it has already bought, on paper at least, a number of the new giant Airbus A380 aircraft.

For BA, which is already in talks with American Airlines for closer cooperation on trans-Atlantic routes, it is a way of increasing the number of shared flights, lowering costs and having a full aircraft instead of two half full ones make the long journey to the southern hemisphere.

There was no benefit to the passenger 15 years ago when BA attempted an equity tie-up with Qantas.

Both airlines are yet to explain properly any benefit now.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is right to point out there is a security issue, too, if someone else owns the national carrier.

Already many European airlines are using the downturn in passenger numbers and higher running costs as an excuse for novel in-flight money making schemes such as charging to load baggage and getting customers to pay for all food and drink served on flights.

What the true cost of a merger will be will be felt only once the economy picks up again and passengers -- a poll of whom yesterday revealed they had lost public trust in the airline -- realise the extent of what they have lost.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 10:24 PM   #190
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EU, Canada Agree on Open Skies

Sounds good to me:

Quote:
EU says breakthrough reached with Canada on aviation pact

3 hours ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) — Canada and the European Union have reached a breakthrough in wide-ranging aviation talks on liberalising air traffic between them, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

Replacing the patchwork of bilateral accords between Canada and individual EU states, the new pact will allow European airlines to fly to Canada from anywhere they want in Europe rather than just their home country.

It will also lift all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU as well as limits on investing in or setting up airlines in Canada and vice versa.

The agreement, which still has to be approved by EU governments, goes beyond an "open skies" agreement with the United States, which took effect in March and keeps limits on investments.

"The new agreement makes the EU-Canada market one of the most open in the world and is a milestone for EU-Canada relations," European Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said in a statement.

"It will be key in further stimulating EU-Canada transatlantic trade. It is ground-breaking in the aviation world as the agreement includes all possible aspects of aviation, including investment," he added.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...JO8GLdts5RQqig
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Old December 9th, 2008, 10:26 PM   #191
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Another article:

Quote:
EU, Canada Agree on Open Skies

12/9/2008
Thomas L. Gallagher
Web Editor

The European Union and Canada last week completed negotiations on a far-reaching aviation agreement, said Antonio Tajani, European Commission vice-president responsible for transport.

Vice-President Tajani said the comprehensive agreement on air services is in line with the conclusions of the EU-Canada summit on Oct. 17. The agreement will be a major step in the opening of markets and investment opportunities, going well beyond the EU-U.S. first stage aviation agreement.

"I informed the EU Ministers today that the negotiations have been finalised. The new agreement makes the EU-Canada market one of the most open in the world and is a milestone for EU-Canada relations," Tajani said.

Under the agreement, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The Agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. Cargo airlines will have the right to fly onward to third countries.

Phase two starts as soon as Canada takes the steps necessary to enable European investors to own up to 49 percent of a Canadian carriers' voting equity (up from 25 percent now). Then further traffic rights will be granted, including the right to operate cargo services to third countries without connection to their point of origin.
http://www.trafficworld.com/newssect...l.asp?id=48933
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Old December 12th, 2008, 02:20 AM   #192
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Great News !
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Old February 8th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #193
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Europe airport head sees "annus horribilis"

BRUSSELS, Feb 6 (Reuters) - This year will be an "annus horribilis" for European airports after passenger traffic dropped 7.7 percent year-on-year in December and freight plunged more than 21 percent, the head of airports body ACI Europe said.

"Talking to our members I get the feeling that January is going to be worse than December, and even November, which was down 8.2 percent," ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec told Reuters on Friday.

"We have members with even a double-digit decrease," Jankovec said, adding that "2009 will be an annus horribilis traffic-wise. There will be job losses."

ACI Europe represents about 440 airports in 45 European countries, which together handle 90 percent of Europe's commercial air traffic.

Jankovec said he was particularly worried about freight traffic, which fell 21.4 percent year-on-year in December and is an indicator of the strength of international trade.

"The freight figures are an indication of how the economy is affecting aviation and will translate into further declines in passenger traffic in the months to come," he said.

"I'm not saying we'll see a 20 percent decrease in passengers, but there's still room for further declines."

The warning came after analysts predicted British Airways would post a record loss for the fourth quarter of 2008.

"On a gut feeling, we'll see a decline of 5 percent in 2009 for the whole European airport industry, but there's a lot of uncertainty about the depth and length of the crisis," Jankovec said.

MIXED FORTUNES

The news comes against a backdrop of contrasting fortunes for European airlines.

Air France-KLM issued a profit warning last month, but Lufthansa surprised the market earlier in the week by raising its 2008 profit forecast.

Low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair have also raised recent forecasts, saying travellers are trading downwards during the recession.

"Eastern Europe held pretty firm until November, but then we've seen that affected, and in western Europe, the UK and Spain have been affected in particular," Jankovec said.

Prague traffic fell 13 percent in December, Warsaw was down 14 percent and Barcelona was down 16 percent.

Leisure airports, like London's Gatwick, have been hit harder than long-haul airports and hubs like Heathrow.

December traffic was down 13 percent at Gatwick, but only fell 2.2 percent at Heathrow, which specialises in transatlantic flights and business passengers.

Jankovec said that amid the crisis the industry was not pleading for bailouts, but for governments to help foot the bill for security, which represent up to 35 percent of airports' operating costs.

"This is an enormous burden," Jankovec said. "Terrorist attacks are against society and therefore it should be a state responsibility."
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Old March 19th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #194
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FACTBOX-How airlines play the aviation slot machine

March 3 (Reuters) - European airlines have asked authorities to drop a rule forcing them to use landing and take-off slots at least 80 percent of the time so that they can slash flight volumes during the economic downturn.

Following is a summary of how the slot system works:

-- What is a slot?

The right to land or take off on a specific day and time and to use airport infrastructure needed to operate flights.

-- Which airports operate a slot system?

Airports designated as "coordinated" airports: in practice the most congested. 140 airports worldwide ration flights.

-- Who allocates the slots?

Under European Union rules, each country appoints an independent coordinator. It must be impartial, though critics sometimes complain that local airlines get preference.

-- How often are the slots re-allocated?

Under the existing scheme, slots are allocated free of charge from a pool of available slots twice a year; in October for the summer schedule and in May for the winter schedule.

-- How does an airline qualify for a slot?

1) The system works first and foremost on historical precedence or the "grandfather rule": this year's slots can be kept next year. Slots can be fine-tuned without losing them.

Critics say such historical rights are unhealthy because they deprive new entrants of capacity and remove the incentive for established operators to release unwanted slots.

Airlines respond that the system creates stability and allows newcomers to become "grandfathered" in just two seasons.

2) Slots used less than 80 percent of the time must be returned to the available "slot pool".

Critics say this encourages a process of hoarding known as "slot-sitting", for example by operating small planes at a loss.

3) Up to 50 percent of new slots are reserved for new entrants.

-- What happens when no slots are available?

Airlines can exchange slots at a twice-yearly schedules conference, an air transport bazar at which more than 900 airlines try to maximise the efficiency of their portfolios.

In Britain, airlines can also buy or sell slots on an ad hoc basis in a secondary "grey market". Slot trading was first developed for the domestic market in the United States.

The value of slots varies according to time of day and other constraints and has been soaring due to deregulation.

After a 2007 Open Skies pact freeing transatlantic travel, Continental paid a record $209 million for four slot pairs at Heathrow. That compares with 20 million pounds (then worth some $38 million) paid for 2 pairs by Qantas in 2004.

Volume is thin, however, with barely 1 percent of scarce Heathrow slots being traded annually, according to a study by SEO Economic Research, which is linked to Amsterdam University.

Experts suspect trading happens elsewhere in Europe too, but a legal blur has discouraged airlines from acknowledging this.

-- Towards European trading?

To clear up legal doubts preventing trading, the European Commission ruled last year that secondary slot trading was legal and could be used across the trade bloc to boost competition.

Airports say trading does not go far enough and want slots to be auctioned, eyeing revenue. Governments are split on the issue, says an official EU study by consultants Mott MacDonald.

For the airlines, lobby group IATA argues pricing mechanisms are ineffective and would mess up the global traffic system.

(Sources: EU regulations 95/93, 793/2004, SEO Economic Research, Airport Co-ordination Ltd, Mott MacDonald, IATA)
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Old March 30th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #195
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Swiss airports drop ID checks for most EU arrivals
29 March 2009

GENEVA (AP) - Border guards at Swiss airports ended systematic passport checks for most European flights Sunday as the Alpine nation became the 25th country fully to join a continentwide zone of open frontiers.

Air passengers arriving in Switzerland will not be checked if their flight started elsewhere in the borderless travel zone, which reaches from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean and includes most European Union countries as well as Norway and Iceland.

Passengers departing for one of those countries will still need to show ID before boarding a plane, but only for security reasons.

"Airlines still need to verify that the person who is flying is the person who bought the ticket," said Bertrand Staempfli, spokesman for Geneva airport.

"But they won't be checked by border guards anymore."

Switzerland, which is not an EU member, opened its land borders last December but chose to wait until the start of summer flight schedules on March 29 before dropping checks at airports too.

Zurich, Geneva and Basel airports -- the country's major hubs -- spent millions of Swiss francs (dollars) rearranging their departure and arrival areas to ensure that passengers traveling inside the open borders area cannot mix with those traveling to or from a country outside of it.

The so-called Schengen zone, named after a small town in Luxembourg where it was first conceived, is meant to make traveling between its members easier, while ensuring that strict passport controls remains at its external frontiers.

Some European Union countries, such as Britain and Ireland, have chosen not to drop passport checks, while others -- Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus -- will join later. Passengers to those destinations, as well as anywhere outside of Europe, will still have to show their passports to border guards.

All customs controls also remain in place.

The switch has also lead to greater cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Swiss police can use the Schengen Information System, a vast database of wanted criminals and stolen goods that has already allowed them to arrest 60 suspects, identify 100 missing persons and seize 1,000 items since it went online last August.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #196
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Lufthansa's BMI assets at Heathrow should prove lucrative regardless of use or sale
31 October 2008

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Deutsche Lufthansa AG locked up valuable takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow Airport with its decision this week to increase its stake in British Midlands. But analysts differ over how the German-based airline can unlock the value of that asset.

BMI comes with 11 percent of the takeoff and landing slots at London's Heathrow Airport, second only to British Airways PLC. Heathrow is Europe's busiest airport and those slots could position Lufthansa to take advantage of lucrative trans-Atlantic traffic.

But Germany's biggest airline won't divulge its plans for London and analysts have mixed predictions of what the company will do. The basic options: use the asset or sell it.

On the one hand, the purchase could allow Lufthansa to launch more trans-Atlantic flights from London, the busiest business destination from North America, giving it a huge revenue generator outside its domestic market.

But if that is the plan it probably will not happen soon, given economic conditions, said Hans Peter Wodniok, an analyst with Fairesearch in Frankfurt.

"The possibility is there," Wodniok said. "This is a potential threat for British Airways. Lufthansa has the potential to develop the hub in the future. It secures and strengthens Lufthansa's position and British Airways should be a bit afraid."

But Per-Ola Hellgren at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg in Mainz said the cleanest way for Lufthansa to get value out of the transaction would be to sell off BMI and the slots, which he valued at as much as 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

"Lufthansa will have a very valuable asset in Heathrow slots," Hellgren said.

The German airline could have a tough time building the slots up with its own flights because the company is not a household name in Britain, Hellgren said.

Claudia Lange, a Lufthansa spokeswoman, said the Cologne-based company was in discussions with BMI managers about how Lufthansa could change service in London, but said no plans would be announced until the BMI deal is finalized in 2009.

Lufthansa arranged the option -- giving it 80 percent control of BMI -- nearly a decade ago and announced the move Wednesday as it released third-quarter results.

Lufthansa and BMI said the German company would pay Michael Bishop, BMI's main shareholder, 400 million euros ($508 million) for his 50 percent stake, giving Lufthansa 80 percent of the company.

The remaining 20 percent of BMI is owned by Scandinavian airline SAS.

The deal comes as the European airline industry is in crisis over volatile fuel prices and falling passenger numbers. On Wednesday, Lufthansa said profit from the July through September period slumped to 149 million euros ($189.2 million) from 586 million euros a year earlier, depressed by higher fuel costs. It also cut its full-year earnings outlook, citing the economic uncertainty.

The move is one in a series of recent investments by Lufthansa.

In September, it acquired a 45-percent equity stake in Brussels Airlines with an option to buy the rest in 2011. Lufthansa said it sees Brussels operating largely as an independent company in the Lufthansa group.

That's largely the way Lufthansa has handled its acquisition of Swiss International Air Lines, which it announced it in 2005.

In late 2007, Lufthansa announced it would buy a 19 percent stake in American carrier JetBlue Airways Corp., giving it access to more North American business.

Austrian authorities said Lufthansa made a formal bid for a stake of Austrian Airlines this month. And Lufthansa is also keeping a close eye on the possibility of taking a stake in Italian carrier Alitalia.

Shares of Lufthansa were up 1.7 percent at 11 euros ($14) in late Frankfurt trading.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 08:33 PM   #197
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EU: freeze airline slots to allow flight cutbacks
10 March 2009

BRUSSELS (AP) - European airlines could be allowed cut back flights this year without losing their exclusive rights to airport landing slots under changes proposed by EU regulators on Tuesday.

Slots are the daily periods of time that airlines get to land and take off from airports. They are valuable, changing hands for as much as 30 million pounds a pair at Europe's busiest airport, London Heathrow.

Under EU rules, if airlines don't use 80 percent of their slots each season, they can lose the right to them.

The European Commission said airlines should be able to reduce flights this year without losing slots, because of the economic slowdown.

It is suggesting a temporary freeze of the 80-percent rule this summer -- from April to September -- to allow airlines the right to the slots in 2010 even if they didn't use them in 2009.

It said it could also freeze slots next winter if the slowdown is still hurting airlines.

Any changes will need to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament.

Air travel is slumping and airlines lost $5 billion last year, the International Air Transport Association says. Cutbacks seem a certainty as passenger demands continues to drop, falling nearly 6 percent in January.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:57 PM   #198
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European Airport Fees

European airlines protest airport fees
22 July 2009

BRUSSELS (AP) - Hard-hit European airlines said Wednesday that airport fee hikes are hurting their ability to weather the economic crisis as passenger numbers plunge.

The Association of European Airlines said airports "could do with a reality check" when they increase the fees each passenger must pay on top of their air fares. This is holding back airlines' ability to boost travel with lower prices, it said.

The group -- which represents major carriers such as British Airways and Lufthansa -- said German airports are leading the charge with higher fees at Frankfurt and Munich and others are reconsidering fee freezes.

"Customers are struggling to survive in the current market and the very last thing they need is a cost increase," said the AEA's Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus.

Europe's busiest airport London Heathrow is also planning to increase fees to pay for new infrastructure and to cope with the recession-driven drop in air traffic. Copenhagen will reinstate fee increases by the end of 2009.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair -- not an AEA member -- blamed higher fees at British airports for a decision to trim flights next winter.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #199
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Airlines pin hopes on Copenhagen
There's a lot that can be done with a bit of imagination and determination and we are ready for it.

14 November 2009
New Zealand Herald

WHEN the United Nations meets in Copenhagen next month to work out a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, Tony Tyler will be holding his breath.

The chief executive of Cathay Pacific, and chairman of the board of governors for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is hoping world leaders will approve a plan to develop a global climate agreement for the aviation industry, which is struggling to emerge from the worst crisis he has seen.

Airlines have made a bold, three-part proposal: to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 from 2005 levels, reduce them by 1.5 per cent a year over the next 10 years, and to make all growth carbon-neutral by 2020.

Through IATA they are pushing for a single global scheme to regulate international airlines and enforce this proposal.

What they are trying to avoid is a range of potentially conflicting regulations that would apply to an airline as it passes from country to country.

In particular, they want out of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, which they are scheduled to join in 2012.

Tyler, a 54 year-old Oxford University graduate, told the Business Herald in Hong Kong that airlines have had to face up to their climate obligations.

``Our view is that while everybody would love to get on with things and not have to worry about this, it's not going to happen. You've got your head in the sand if you think that's going to happen.''

Tyler and IATA want airlines to be regulated by the UN's airline body, the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), rather than by individual countries and regions.

He says the international airline industry's emissions have to be regulated and managed in a different way from individual regions.

``Practically, if you've got a flight leaving Hong Kong for London, whose quota should you use? If you just say `all emissions belong to countries' then whose quota should that be? Should it be China, should it be the UK? Should it be all the places we had to fly to on the way? There's no rational way of doing it.

``The much simpler way is to say, `countries worry about what goes on inside your borders, which you've got some control over, and ICAO, which is a United Nations body, you regulate international aviation emissions' .''

Halving emissions by 2050 seems a tall order. Tyler says airlines won't be able to meet the targets on their own.

``Cathay Pacific can't wave a magic wand and cut our emissions by 50 per cent for 2050 - it's going to mean biofuels. We can't deliver biofuels - the right incentives have got to be in place for suppliers to deliver that technology. So governments have got to help.''

IATA plans to buy carbon credits on the world market and Tyler says governments need to deliver effective emissions trading schemes. They could also provide better infrastructure and air traffic management and perhaps even emissions standards for manufacturers.

Tyler was in the audience last month when Air New Zealandchief executive Rob Fyfe blasted climate talks as a ``bureaucratic circus'' of procrastination, turgid presentations, backroom deals and unwieldy agreements.

``First of all I've got to say that it was good to see him with his clothes on for a change,'' Tyler jokes in reference to Air New Zealand's ``nothing to hide'' advertising campaign.

``All this bureaucratic to-ing and fro-ing on environmental measures is frustrating but unfortunately that's the way the world is, it's got to be done and we've got to get a scheme that works for the airlines.''

If airlines do not get what they want at Copenhagen, it will be another blow for an industry that has hit severe headwinds during the global financial crisis. IATA predicts international losses will reach US$11 billion ($15 billion) this year.

Cathay Pacific's latest figures show the number of passengers it has carried has fallen, dropping 3.8 per cent so far this year. The airline, which flies to 36 countries and carries about 25 million passengers a year, posted an annual loss last year of HK$8.56 billion ($1.5 billion), diving into the red for the first time in 10 years.

Tyler has described the slump as ``deeper and more unpredictable than any crisis we have seen before''. Adding to airlines woes, particularly Hong Kong-based Cathay's, has been this year's swine flu outbreak.

Tyler said Cathay's revenue loss as a result of swine flu fears was ``hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars''.

``Certain markets are well known to be particularly sensitive to this kind of problem and Japan is one of them. It did impact markets like Japan, China and Southeast Asia.''

The recession has prompted talk of a ``new normal'' - where there is a recovery but profits and revenues do not return to the heights reached before last year's meltdown.

``I'd like the new normal to be like the old normal - especially the normal of 2007. But I think we're in for a period of time when normality is a lot less pleasant than it was in 2007. I think we are in for a time when premium traffic is weak, cargo traffic is at best highly seasonal and competition is intense.''

Tyler says the crisis has hit two areas which can't be stimulated by cutting prices: cargo and premium passengers.

``If a bank is not sending its people on a trip, it's not going to send them on a trip because you've cut 30 per cent off the fare. And cargo is the same.

``Cutting price does not stimulate new business. I'm afraid we've got to wait until the world economy picks up.''

However, Tyler believes the worst of the downturn has passed. In a message to staff this week he noted an improvement in cargo demand.

But he wrote that recovery would be a long, gruelling crawl.

With China heavily tipped to drive such a recovery, does this mean more flights to New Zealand? Cathay flies twice a day to Auckland in summer and 10 times a week in winter but is unlikely to add other centres.

``If we did have more frequencies it would probably be more to Auckland.

``If we suddenly looked at our numbers and saw we were carrying a planeload a day out of Christchurch, then okay. But it would have to be pretty robust figures.''

Tyler, a rugby fan, could be on a flight to New Zealand himself for the 2011 World Cup, having visited during the Lions tour in 2005.

``If I can find anywhere to stay I might.

``I was down there for the Lions tour and I'd rather not talk too much about the rugby but I had a great time.

``I've been to the last two World Cups, in Australia and France, and the scale of the World Cup now compared to when New Zealand won it back in 1987 is just chalk and cheese. I think New Zealand is going to have a shock when they see everybody turn up.''

Tyler may be hoping for an England victory in 2011, but he will be more desperate for a win for airlines at Copenhagen next month.

What he fears most is the ``nightmare scenario'' - that the UN will disregard the airlines' climate proposal in favour of a broad levy on aviation, which would add to the myriad taxes already in place.

``We would end up paying several times over and not reduce any carbon.''

But Tyler is confident progress can be made in Denmark's capital.

``If you're optimistic you would say this is a definite goer.

``There's a lot that can be done with a bit of imagination and a bit of determination and we in the industry are ready for it, we're ready to play our part.''

David Rowe travelled to Hong Kong courtesy of Cathay Pacific.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 06:07 PM   #200
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German air travel tax overshadows IATA meeting

BERLIN, June 8 (Reuters) - Airlines lambasted German plans for an air travel tax on Tuesday as Europe's aviation industry struggles to make money in a weak economic environment.

Berlin's plans and warnings of weak European growth this year overshadowed the closing day of airlines body IATA's annual meeting on Tuesday, where top bosses spent three days meeting engine suppliers, planemakers and back-office cost-cutters.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, intends to impose a tax of up to 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) a year as part of a package of budget cuts and taxes to shore up stretched public finances.

"This is simply a cash grab by a cash-grab government, painted green with no environmental benefit," IATA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani told reporters in a briefing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday stunned aviation industry executives gathered at the IATA meeting and planemakers preparing for the opening of the Berlin Air Show as she announced the air travel tax plans, part of 80 billion euros ($107 billion) of budget measures.

The German move comes as governments across Europe vow to become more frugal and rein in their budget deficits to bolster their economies against the region's debt crisis.

It added to concern over IATA's warning that Europe's aviation industry was recovering more slowly than expected, hit by a volcanic ash cloud that closed airspace across a large part of the continent in April, as well as by a weaker euro.

"The most vulnerable part of the industry is in Europe. The last thing the industry here in Europe needs is additional taxes and measures that will slow down economic growth," IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce said.

BLACK DAY

The air travel tax is seen raising prices by 8-16 euros per ticket. Other European Union members that have introduced such a tax include Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands.

"That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's more than the collective earnings of all airlines in Germany," said Wolfgang Mayrhuber, chief executive of German flagship carrier Lufthansa , which faces the biggest burden from the proposed tax.

The airline, which said the levy represented a "black day" for the industry, will take an annual hit of about 200 million euros a year, Commerzbank analyst Frank Skodzik said, assuming the carrier can pass on half of the tax to passengers.

Mayrhuber said there was "no way" Lufthansa could pass on the tax to customers.

German airports body ADV warned that air traffic in Germany could drop by as much as 3 percent as passengers seek cheaper tickets in neighbouring countries and airlines shift their traffic elsewhere to avoid the tax.

Lufthansa shares closed down 2.2 percent at 10.515 euros, while the Stoxx Europe 600 Travel & Leisure index eased 1.9 percent. Shares of Air Berlin, Germany's second-biggest airline, fell 2.2 percent to 3.425 euros.

The world's airlines had their worst year ever in 2009, losing a total $9.4 billion, when demand dropped faster than capacity could be cut as companies and consumers shrank travel budgets to weather the global economic crisis.

While IATA on Monday raised its 2010 earnings estimate for the global airline industry, it cut the outlook for Europe -- the only region where it nows airlines continuing to post overall losses this year.

And the tax news came as Dubai airline Emirates placed a record $11 billion order for 32 Airbus A380s in an announcement at the Berlin airshow on Tuesday. ($1=.7453 euros)
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