Israel's Government Cabinet approved (21-Apr-2013) an open skies agreement with the EU on 21-Apr-2013. According to local sources, including Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Port2Port, Histadrut Labor Federation earlier called for the Government to discuss the agreement with airlines. In response to the agreement, Israeli airline workers launched industrial action, including El Al, Arkia Airlines and Israir. Histadrut said the Israeli Ministry of Transport stated there is a real danger of the collapse of Israeli carriers if the agreement goes ahead. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider the potential negative consequences of the open skies agreement with the EU and threatened to cancel all services in and out of Israel from 23-Apr-2013. Histadrut said the strikes will continue unless the Israeli Treasury and Israeli Finance Ministry agree to alter the agreement in negotiations. Federation of Transport Workers Union chairman Avi Edri also joined the call for the agreement to be altered. Mr Netanyahu, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, and Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid supported the agreement stating it would reduce the cost of air travel and increase competition. [more - original PR Hebrew]
Israeli Cabinet approves open skies agreement; Israeli carriers launch industrial action
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Ukraine: traffic recovery prompts Ryanair to join Wizz Air in LCC growth. Ukraine Int'l also expands
Two announcements by leading LCCs in quick succession may mark a significant development in Ukraine's aviation market. One came on 13-Mar-2016 from Wizz Air, the largest low cost airline in Eastern/Central Europe; the other on 15-Mar-2016 from Ryanair, the largest LCC (and largest airline) in all Europe.
Both expect opportunity in Ukraine's very low levels of air travel and low LCC seat share. Wizz Air, already Ukraine's leading low cost airline, will add four more new routes in summer 2017, to the four previously announced. Ryanair will enter Ukraine with 11 routes, adding competitive tension to the emerging low fares market there. The battle between the two for supremacy in Eastern/Central Europe opens up a new front.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's air traffic levels are enjoying a recovery from the slump of 2014 and 2015 caused by major geopolitical disruption and a severe recession. Passenger numbers jumped 21% in 2016.
The country's flag carrier and biggest airline, Ukraine International Airlines, has taken part in the traffic growth, but will need to ensure it can do this profitably after a period of losses. Risks remain, but the conditions are in place for further growth in Ukraine's air traffic.
SunExpress: "Lufthansa's biggest strategic project"
The Turkish leisure airline SunExpress and its German subsidiary SunExpress Germany have historically had a fairly low profile, certainly among European air travellers. Nevertheless, their combined total of 7.9 million passengers puts SunExpress in the top 20 European airline groups in 2016, ahead of Brussels Airlines.
Jointly owned by Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, SunExpress and its German counterpart brought about a consolidated result that fell into loss in 2016 as passenger numbers and revenue both declined. When the observer scratches beneath the surface of the headline figures, a picture of significant strategic change at SunExpress Germany starts to emerge.
The larger Turkish SunExpress has maintained its focus on Turkey-Germany routes, whereas SunExpress Germany has abandoned this country pair. It has instead developed leisure routes from Germany to elsewhere in Europe and in North Africa, in spite of not having an obvious competitive advantage in those markets. Within these new market areas, SunExpress Germany has undergone substantial changes in its route portfolio. Lufthansa wetleases capacity from SunExpress Germany for its Eurowings low cost operation and this may help to make some sense of these outwardly random network changes.