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News of February 2010

Troubled Malev is renationalised

28 February 2010

Hungary’s Government has stepped in to rescue struggling flag-carrier Malev, retaking control of the airline three years after its privatisation.

The Government, via state holding company MNV, has agreed to acquire a 95% stake in Malev through a Ft25.2 billion ($127 million) investment funded partly by cash and partly by debt conversion.

The finance ministry says that the acquisition will clear the way towards creating stability for the troubled airline. But the ministry warns that “intensive” restructuring is required in order to minimise the burden on taxpayers and ensure that the rescue does not constitute illegal state aid.


Women-only lavatory on Japanese airline

27 February 2010

All Nippon Airways (ANA) will introduce the women-only lavatories on international routes. ANA says they received “numerous requests from passengers for this service.” In a 2007 survey, 90 percent of women said they liked idea.

One women-only lavatory will be provided in the rear section of the passenger cabin and will display a pink ladies sign, a signal designed to let male travelers know that they’ll have to look elsewhere.

ANA says there are exceptions. If a passenger is not feeling well or “when there are very few female passengers and the women-only designation has been lifted for the flight,” male passengers will be allowed to use the lavatory.


Canada agency to review airline pet policy

27 February 2010

The Canadian Transportation Agency will review a policy at the country’s biggest airlines allowing cats in the cabin to see if it interferes with air travel for allergic customers.

The independent tribunal announced the review on Thursday after ruling that three people who are allergic to cats are, in effect, persons with disabilities because the airlines’ pet policies affect their ability to fly.

The passengers had complained about Air Canada, the country’s biggest airline, its regional carrier Jazz Airline, and WestJet Airline, the No. 2 airline in Canada.

source: Reuters

Kingfisher Airlines to join Oneworld Alliance

24 February 2010

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. said Tuesday it has signed an initial pact to join the Oneworld Alliance, comprising 11 global carriers such as American Airlines and British Airways.

Kingfisher, controlled by billionaire Vijay Mallya, also applied to India’s civil aviation ministry to seek approval for its membership of Oneworld, India’s biggest airline by market share said. The airline will add 58 cities in India to the Oneworld network, expanding the alliance’s total network to 800 destinations in nearly 150 countries.

source: The Wall Street Journal

Greek carriers Aegean, Olympic agree to merge

24 February 2010

Greece’s two largest carriers Aegean Airlines and recently privatized Olympic Air have agreed to merge to form a stronger airline better able to compete with European peers.

The company that will be formed as a result of the merger will carry the name and logos of Olympic Air, following the necessary transition and adjustment period during which the name and logos of Aegean will be used in parallel,” they said in a joint statement.


Ryanair passengers ‘abandoned’ on wrong island

23 February 2010

A Ryanair flight to Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, was forced to land on the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura during a thunderstorm.

When arriving at the airport, around 120 passengers claim they were left ‘stranded’ to organise their own accommodation and travel plans with no word from the airline.

European guidelines state if the flight disruption is outside the control of the airline, no monetary compensation is due.


Lufthansa strike suspended

22 February 2010

Lufthansa pilots in Germany agreed to suspend for two weeks a strike that grounded about 900 flights on Monday.

Some 4,000 Lufthansa pilots took part in a stoppage that was meant to last for four days, leaving thousands of passengers around the world stranded, on concerns the company could try to cut staff costs by shifting jobs to foreign units.

Lufthansa aims to cut 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) of costs by 2011, to become more lean while expanding abroad.

source: Reuters

Lufthansa eyes options to halt strike

20 February 2010

Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline by revenues, is considering legal action to head off a four-day strike by its pilots starting at midnight on Sunday. The dispute threatens to escalate into one of the severest industrial conflicts in recent German history.

Stefan Lauer, board member responsible for personnel, said that Lufthansa’s lawyers would report to him by Monday on options for halting the strike, called this week by Vereinigung Cockpit, the pilots’ trade union.

Cockpit has said its main goal is to secure jobs in Germany and has called on more than 4,000 pilots to take part in the strike , which will also affect Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings, its low-cost carrier.


Air Berlin to increase stake in Niki Lauda’s airline

17 February 2010

German carrier Air Berlin on Tuesday confirmed that it is planning to raise its stake in its Austrian partner Niki, the airline of Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda. The German budget airline said it is “in advanced negotiations” on increasing its share and indicated that its board of directors would discuss the matter on Tuesday.

So far, Lauda’s budget carrier has profited from the Austrian Airlines takeover last year because the European Commission gave the go-ahead on the condition that the enlarged Lufthansa group hand over landing rights to Niki.


American Airlines to resume Haiti flights Friday

17 February 2010

American Airlines says it will resume regular flights to Haiti on Friday, the first commercial flights since the island nation was hit by an earthquake Jan. 12.

American said Tuesday that its first flight into Port-au-Prince will leave Friday morning from Miami International Airport.

The airline will operate three daily nonstop flights from Florida to Haiti, two from Miami and one from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The airline said it will also offer a single flight four days a week from New York’s Kennedy Airport.

source: Associated Press