Event: Garuda Indonesia is set to join Skyteam (see story)
When is it happening: March 5
Why it’s important: The Indonesian flag carrier has made a comeback in recent years as it is undergoing an aggressive five-year expansion and modernisation plan known as “Quantum Leap”, involving a fleet upgrade and an image overhaul. Garuda resumed flights to Europe in 2009 since the European Union Safety Committee Recommendation lifted a flying ban, originally imposed due to safety issues (see story). The tides have turned over the years as Garuda received an IOSA certificate in 2008 and 2011 for the airline’s improvements on safety and service (see story). Garuda is on target to meet all membership criteria required by Skyteam to join the alliance in spring 2014. The CEO of Garuda said the airline “is entering the stage of a global player” (see story). By 2015, the airline aims to double the fleet size from 89 to 194 aircrafts.
Event: The opening of the new international airport in Doha
When is it happening: sometime in 2014
Why it’s important: The opening of Hamad International Airport has been delayed twice already – in December 2012 and April 2013 (see story). It was postponed because building occupancy permits had not been obtained from the Qatar Civil Defense Department (see story). Qatar’s transport minister said the new airport will open in January. The soft opening will see ten carriers move to Hamad International (see story). The new airport will be able to accommodate 28 million passengers initially and increase to 50 million beyond 2015 (see story). It will also be the new base for Qatar Airways.
Event: Air New Zealand (ANZ) is the first customer of the B787-9
When is it happening: October 15
Why it’s important: ANZ will take delivery of the launch aircraft in early 2014. The launch route in July will be between Auckland and Perth (see story). But the 787 Dreamliner did not have the best start to 2013 as the aircraft battled with technical problems, such as a burning battery and fuel leaks that forced planes to be grounded and cancelled early in the year(see here). The new 787-9 Dreamliner hopes to restore confidence in the model. The aircraft is 20 feet longer than the 787-8, carries 40 more passengers and can fly an additional 300 nautical miles, and uses 20 per cent less fuel compared to airplanes of similar size, according to Boeing. Budget airline Norwegian Air has also acquired two more 787-9 Dreamliners, as the airline chief executive said the cost-efficient aircraft is dependable enough to run a competitive low-cost, long-haul operation (see story).
Event: Revitalisation of the Indian Aviation Market
When is it happening: Throughout the year
Why it's important: The aviation market in India is showing signs of stabilisation since the Indian government relaxed restrictions regarding foreign investment in its airlines in September 2012. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways was the first airline to buy a 24 per cent stake of Jet Airways (see story). Then in September 2013, Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons announced a joint venture to start a new airline based in New Delhi (see story). Air India has successfully completed its merger with Indian Airlines, and Star Alliance recommenced the integration of Air India as a member in December 2013 after the process was put on hold more than two years ago (see story). In addition, another joint venture between Air Asia and Tata Sons to form Air Asia India was initiated in February 2013. According to a report from the Star, the airline will likely start operations in summer 2014. Next year is a year to watch for India when all these operations come to fruition.