Winter 2023

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Winter 2023

“This is our fate,” Samer Majali, Chief Executive of Royal Jordanian Airlines, commented ruefully, addressing delegates on the CEO panel at the 56th Arab Air Carriers’ Organisation (AACO) in late October.
He was addressing the impact on the Middle East, and the knock-on effect on air transport, of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Royal Jordanian has been here before, having built up experience of dealing with regional strife in circumstances such as the two Iraq wars.
Having a land border with Israel, and most of Royal Jordanian’s westbound flights usually flying over that country, means his carrier is more negatively affected than most. ARGS had talked to Majali just a week prior to the AACO meeting in Istanbul at Routes World, where his message was how focused this small Middle East carrier is on carving out a niche for itself as the connector for the Levant region.

Already up against the Gulf majors, Royal Jordanian’s task to return to the black just got tougher. The interview with Majali is found on page 14.
Black swan events, such as Covid and wars, bring unexpected challenges for air transport, but they are set against a broadly improving industry outlook. ARGS has been gauging this outlook over the past few months at Routes World and the Airport Services Association (ASA) Leadersship Forum.
ASA is busy raising its industry voice with more members and additional staffers, seeking to play a more active role in shaping ground services policy in areas like contracting and standards (see report on pages 22-28).

Service providers have ramped up this year as traffic has flowed back. Routes World in Istanbul in mid-October brought an industry together as if it had never paused for a pandemic. With the Asia-Pacific fully opened, China’s airports were back with a bang at the show, hungry to restore international services (see p32-34).
The main thing holding back even faster capacity growth is the slow pace of aircraft deliveries from the OEMs as they deal with supply chain issues.
This is causing severe headaches for airline planners, who are unsure when aircraft will arrive in their fleets and are resorting to expensive short-term leases to find capacity.
Our bumper Routes World report, with great input from Mike Miller, covers the main Turkish players, correspondent Pegasus CEO Güliz Öztürk (see p16), TAV Airports head Serkan Kaptan (see p20), and Istanbul’s iGA Grand Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (see p40).

Elsewhere, Philipp Joeinig, the CEO of Menzies, explains how this services major intends to spread its wings over the coming 5-10 years (see p10), while our Brisbane correspondent Tony Harrington has delivered a superb analysis of the Australian market, asking how a crisis at Qantas has obscured, and may drive, momentous change in Australia’s skies (see p4). Tony, who is a wizard on headlines, has done it again for this article with ’The frying kangaroo’.

There is little doubt 2023 has seen the industry recover at pace despite its many challenges, such as staff shortages, sustainability and supply chains. Most of us would have taken what the year has given us as it kicked off. Now we take stock and contemplate what 2024 will bring.

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