June 4th, 2012
06:58 AM GMT
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Editor’s note: Outlook is CNN's in-depth look at business climates around the world. To August 12, 2012, we’re focusing on Singapore.

Asia’s latest discount airliner takes to the skies Monday, with its inaugural flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Launched by Singapore Airlines, no-frills Scoot has already sold more than 100,000 tickets, according to The Straits Times. In its first year, it will offer flights on four Boeing 777 aircraft, linking Singapore with nearby countries, including Australia and China. Currently, tickets are available to the Australian cities of Sydney and Goldcoast, as well as Bangkok and Tianjin, China.  FULL POST

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Filed under: Air industryBusinessJapanOutlook SingaporeTravel industry


May 30th, 2012
12:41 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – ANONYMOUS – Some violence and sexual content
CONTAGION – Disturbing content and some language
COURAGEOUS – Violence and drug content
CRAZY STUPID LOVE – Coarse humor, sexual content and language
DOLPHIN TALE – Some mild thematic elements
DRIVE – Strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity
FOOTLOOSE – Some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, language
FRIGHT NIGHT – Bloody horror, language including some sexual references
IDES OF MARCH – Pervasive language
IMMORTALS – Sequences of strong bloody violence, sexuality
PUSS IN BOOTS – Adventure action and mild rude humor
REAL STEEL – Intense action
INCEPTION – Sequences of violence and action throughout

Flying across the Atlantic I was browsing through the selection of movies on the Video on Demand.  It soon became clear that the censor who rates the movies for United Airlines takes their job very seriously indeed. Not for them, the normal ratings 14, 16 or Adult. Oh no. That would be far too simple. These days the censors have to give us a real rundown of the experiences we might expect.

FULL POST



May 1st, 2012
04:20 PM GMT
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Delta Airlines' decision to buy an oil refinery has caught the imagination. It seems to make a lot of sense and if the numbers actually come true it will look like a stroke of genius.

Delta says that it could get savings of $300 million a year by cutting out the middle man and refining its own jet fuel, all for the cost of one medium-size new airliner. It sounds like a no-brainer so I put the question to a CEO of an Asia airline: did he think that individually or as a group that Asian airlines would get together to look at a similar arrangement.

It does make some sense. According to Cathay Pacific Airways, fuel costs accounted for 41.5% of total operating costs last year. That's a lot higher than the 30% average for global airlines. The reason why Cathay and other Asian arilines have proportionally higher fuel bills is that they are mainly long-haul operators, and the fuel component of a long-haul flight can be twice as high as a short-haul flight - 60% fuel cost on long-haul versus 30% on short haul.

Fuel costs were the main reason by long-haul budget airline AirAsia X to cut back its services. Its short-haul flights are still performing strongly.

But buying a refinery is not on anyone's agenda among Asian airlines. Not yet at least. But what is on the radar relating to fuel costs is fracking - the process of extracting gas and oil through hydraulic pressure fracturing of rocks. It has revolutionized the gas industry in the U.S. Gas prices are at a 10-year low, prompting oil-energy users such as power companies to look at switching to gas-fired plants, a relatively easy transtition.

As oil users switch to gas, airlines are hoping there could be a knock-on effect to the price of oil as demand starts to fall. It may be a long shot at this stage, but in the airline industry it's one of the very few bright spots on an otherwise bleak outlook for controlling one of the biggest costs in the business.



February 22nd, 2012
05:40 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – With a Greek debt deal successfully brokered on Tuesday, the world’s economic skies seem a bit less likely to fall. That new $173 billion bailout for Greece on the brink of bankruptcy is now staunching a bit of the hemorrhage of confidence in the continent.

As for the “stuff” that actually flies through those economic skies? The volume of that over our heads, homes and offices is, in fact, falling.

And Hong Kong is one of the best places to take a measure of it all.

This Asian hub of commerce boasts the busiest air cargo airport in the world. And air cargo volumes are an excellent thermometer to gauge the health of global trade.

According to Hong Kong airport data, 3.9 million tons of cargo passed through this Chinese territory in 2011. But for all that volume, the huge number actually revealed a drop of nearly 5% year on year.

Just as Hong Kong is the world’s number one cargo hub, Cathay Pacific Airways is the world’s number one air cargo carrier. In 2011, Hong’s Kong’s flagship airline transported more than 1.6 million tons of cargo around the world. But that represented a drop as well – of nearly 9% year on year.

The reason for this season of slumps is found not in Asia but halfway around the world: in the United States and Europe.

The U.S. is still clawing back from its Great Recession.

Europe, which buys 30% of all of China’s exports, is still focused on its highly-indebted nations. And for the next several months and years, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy– and yes Greece- will still be the word.

It’s a decline in demand from all these places – for cheaper Asian-assembled electronics and your Wal-Mart apparel – that led to a slump in air cargo traffic last year.

And the 2012 skies don’t look much brighter.

The International Air Transport Association, more famously known as IATA, forecasts absolutely no growth for global air cargo traffic this year.

Cathay Pacific’s CEO John Slosar predicts his company’s air cargo business might not take off again until the second half.  That’s not great news since the company relies on cargo for 30% of its annual profit.

And some oil analysts foretell of $150 per barrel ifIrantensions boil over into conflict.

All this may be conspiring for a collision course with catastrophe.  But reroutes do exist.

To offset losses, airlines have successfully booked more people into their seats. Cathay reported nearly 12% more passengers this past January, year on year.

That’s on top of rising ticket prices as any flier – frequent or not – can attest. 

And just this past December, Cathay announced it would delay the purchase of two new Boeing 747-8F freighters until 2013.

The bottom line for the air cargo industry? Despite short-term fixes, its long-term recovery will depend on the pace of improvement in the U.S. and Europe. 

Until then, better profits from global air cargo will hang on a wing and a prayer.



December 21st, 2011
08:31 PM GMT
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(CNN) –
Eugene Rogan, author of “The Arabs: A history” told CNN the world was seeing a new era of Islamic politics with their voice moving from the oppressed to the legitimate.

He said they are finding common ground with secular groups and he expected them to build business-friendly, pro-tourism agendas.

He added the new Islamic politics was open for business.



December 8th, 2011
01:54 PM GMT
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Paris, France (CNN) – Fancy vacationing at the five star presidential estate the Obamas used during their luxury Hawaii vacation? For $3,571 per night you too can stay there thanks to global travel site Airbnb.

Airbnb is a platform that offers a global network of accommodation offered by local people who register on the site. It effectively lets people rent out their homes as like mini-hotels.

Describing the platform as “tourism 2.0,” founder Brian Chesky explained that Airbnb is part of a new "sharing economy."

"We are in 191 countries,” he told the Le Web tech conference in Paris on Thursday, where his startup was hailed by event host Loic Le Meur as “the biggest threat to the hotel industry.”

“Our vision from the start was ‘what if you could hire a room from someone like you would an hotel room?’ We started with the couch-surfing idea, before realizing that people want their own rooms.”

Chesky says the platform, launched in 2008 has now been used for more than two million nights’ worth of accommodation. There are about 100,000 listings posted on the site.

Key to that success, he says, is the hiring of 2,000 photographers to take high-resolution pictures of people’s homes for free to attract potential customers.

Most of the photographers were also found among the users registered on Airbnb, Chesky said.

Chesky said that people earned on average $4,000 to $5,000 a year renting out their room for an average of four nights a month.

But using the service is not without its risks. Last July, one registered landlords had her property vandalized and robbed by someone letting it.

The user, identified as EJ, wrote a blog documenting how her home was ransacked.

She wrote: "They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life.

“They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied -– using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests’ use.

“They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor."

However, Chesky says these security issues have now been addressed with the implementation of a 24-hour security plan and a ratings system.

“We have also offered a $50,000 guarantee against vandalism and theft. We will continue to use the community to improve the product. We try to have relationships with all host on our website. If they don't play by the rules, they're out,” he said.

Chesky also noted that while Paris is a key market for the service, its fastest growing markets are in Asia and Latin America, which now account for 70% of Airbnb’s business.

Airbnb has received $112m in funding, which Chesky says will be used to “invest in the next 10 years of growth.”

The service is currently available on iPhone and will be released on Android next month, Chesky said.



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