Al-Ahram Weekly Online   30 October - 5 November 2008
Issue No. 920
Sky High
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

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Air Arabia CEO named world's best

IN RECOGNITION of the enormous success of Air Arabia in the five years since it was launched, the airline's CEO has been named the world's low-cost carrier (LCC) "CEO of the Year" at the prestigious Budgie Awards, part of the World Low- Cost Airlines Congress, held in London, UK. Adel Ali was selected for this honour as the leader among his global peers, and lauded for his exceptional management skills and innovative vision.

At the same event, Air Arabia was named "Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East and Africa".

Etihad scoops website award

ETIHAD Airways has won the 2008 WebAward for outstanding achievement in website development in recognition of industry-wide praise for its innovative online marketing strategy. WebAward is an annual awards event organised by the US- based Web Marketing Association. The awards recognise the best websites across nearly 100 different industry sectors in 47 countries across the world, based on nominations received from thousands of digital agencies, website developers and marketing departments. Each website is independently assessed by a panel of industry experts according to a number of criteria, which includes design, ease of use, copywriting, and interactivity, use of technology, innovation and content.

Earlier this year, Etihad picked up the top 'gongs' at both the 'Freddie' and Pan Arab Web awards.

BA under criminal antitrust probe

A FORMER British Airways executive faces jail in the US after agreeing to plead guilty to playing a role in the global conspiracy to fix prices for air cargo shipments. The US Justice Department said that Keith Packer, former commercial general manager of BA World Cargo, would serve eight months in prison and pay a fine of $20,000. Mr Packer, a British citizen, is the first foreign national to be charged by US authorities as part of an ongoing investigation into airline industry price-fixing. The Financial Times reported this week that BA has already been fined heavily by US and UK authorities for its role in separate conspiracies to fix both cargo rates and passenger fares. Several former and current BA executives remain under investigation in both the US and the UK.

Competition officials from around the world are investigating the air freight industry in what has become one of the world's biggest cartel probes. Further charges are expected to be brought by the EU against airlines. In August the UK Office of Fair Trading said four former and present BA executives had been charged with cartel offences in connection with the OFT's criminal investigation into the price-fixing of fuel surcharges for long- haul passenger flights. They are due in court next month. Martin George, BA's ex-commercial director, Iain Burns, former head of communications, Andrew Crawley, head of sales, and Alan Burnett, former head of UK and Ireland sales are accused of involvement in a conspiracy with Virgin Atlantic between 2004 and 2006.

ME Air Traffic Rises

INTERNATIONAL air freight traffic in the Middle East grew in August 2008, defying a trend seen in rest of the world wherein air cargo traffic declined for the third consecutive month amid the global economic slowdown. Latest data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that Middle East's air freight traffic in August 2008 rose 11.4 per cent. This growth is in sharp contrast to international trend as overall air cargo shipments contracted 2.7 per cent in August this year when compared with the same month in 2007. IATA data showed that international air passenger traffic in the Middle East grew 4.3 per cent on average in August. However, this growth was lower than 5.3 per cent seen in July and well below the 10.6 per cent growth recorded in the first half of the 2008, IATA said. It said international passenger demand growth slowed to 1.3 per cent in August 2008, following disappointing growth of 1.9 per cent in July. Passenger load factors fell to 79.2 per cent a sharp drop-off from the 81 per cent recorded during the same period last year as capacity growth outpaced demand.

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