By Victoria December 23, 2011 13:14


Well we should kick off with a well done to Willie Walsh in closing the deal on the BMI just in time for Christmas. Next stop for him will no doubt be knocking at the door of TAP and/or Air Malta.
2011 has seen natural disasters and political and economic turmoil reign supreme. Those airlines that have done well during these problems have in effect had an exceptional year with undoubted class act leadership. My pick of the pack are Richard Anderson at Delta who has had to deal with more than most but has still managed to steer a course that puts his airline in a better position than many of us could have thought possible in April. Alan Joyce at Qantas, who when faced with unions trying to wreak his airline, took bold, decisive action that forced the Australian government to sort the situation out. Well done to him. Steven Udvar-Hazy has to get a mention as his IPO for Air Lease (although burning investors now) was an unparalleled success in a poor market.
Akbar Al Baker of Qatar Airways needs a mention for his great negotiating skills on aircraft orders and so too does John Leahy for not hitting him…
Brian Jeffrey deserves recognition for sticking to his guns in 2011 and not letting the banks get one over on him at the point of delivery.
It would be rude not to mention the Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) at this point, Ex-Im’s Bob Morin and Gordon Welsh at the ECGD deserve particular note. Other than here on this service and in Airline Economics, the media has failed to understand the importance of the role the ECAs have played in 2011 and the roll that they must play in 2012 if the sector is to continue to grow. The ECAs are of core importance to the aviation sector and over the past five years they have never failed to impress all with how they can step up to the mark and deal with the workload with such small numbers of staff. Well done and thanks to them.
2011 has been a year to remember, make no mistake. It has been a year that has paved the way to an uncertain future with political failures across the globe resulting in protests, war and economic turmoil.

We are in many instances across North Africa and the Middle East witnessing the final stages of fallout from the end of the cold war, we should beware. All the signs are that Middle Eastern countries post dictator are falling into the same ethnic trap that blighted the Balkans in the early 1990s and African states in the 1970s and 80s. We could well be on the cusp of ethnic conflict in the Middle East that will have a profound effect on oil prices with spikes of $150 in 2012 a distinct possibility.
The question is will Israel sit on the sidelines or take action? Russia and China too are seeing people power take hold like never before. Russian leaders should take heed as the 100th anniversary of the fall of the Tsars nears. In China this week we saw a first when the government both central and local backed down against protestors in a land grab dispute – something that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. Then if that is not all we have the sabre rattling of Argentina over the Falkland islands with their partial blockade and rhetoric galvanising opinion in the UK to the right, all over oil exploration that again could affect prices.
Meanwhile the USA and Canada are powering ahead – Long may that continue.
Of course airlines have to deal with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, trade wars, tax increases and the possibility of currency changes and fluctuations. While all eyes are focused on Europe you would do well to keep tabs on the Indian aviation sector as it cannot remain as it is, there will have to be failures or a complete wind change – we shall see.
One bit of good news is that through all this talk of recession it seems that aircraft passenger numbers will be up this year over the holiday period on last year both in the US and in Europe. This is great news but in the case of Europe the reason for increased spend on aviation is low interest rates. The UK, more than most, has had a five-year interest rate holiday leading many mortgage payers to wonder what all the fuss is about with the economy. These same people are about to be hit very hard indeed as the consensus is that the UK will come under pressure from the markets in 2012 which will force interest rates up tipping many over the edge into a 1990s style housing market crash. Therefore our airlines to watch in 2012 (other than all Indian carriers) are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Both will be hit by APD increases, ETS and a fall in passenger numbers all at once…….. It will be hard going for them.

Everyone expects Greece to fall out of the Euro and yet they have done well up to now. This means we must keep an eye on Olympic.
If the European Central Bank cannot contain the euro crisis then all bets are off and we will most likely see the North American economies start to falter. 2012 will be a very interesting year – we will be there with you the whole way.
All that remains now is for me to wish one and all a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year to our readers where this is the case. We will be back in January however if there are any big stories over the next two weeks then we will be sending out breaking news alerts on the same as they happen.
All the very best of luck to you all for 2012 and thank you for reading.

By Victoria December 23, 2011 13:14
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