Archive for the 'Malev' Category

R.I.P. Malev – by Szafi

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again”
(The Doors – The End)

So it happened finally. Our national airline went bankrupt and we are mourning. Our favorite Blue Nose stopped operating yesterday. It was a long agony, though. When I joined the company in 2001 I was told that it might go bankuprt any time. During the five years I spent there we had some hard days. The end was always very close, the sword of democles was hanging there all the time. But somehow we always survived, mostly due to the intervention of the state. When Hungary joined the EU in 2004 we knew there can be no more state interventions, but we believed in privatization and the chance an alliance membership could have brought to us.

“Look mummy, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky”
(Pink Floyd – Goodbye Blue Sky)

I am using Sky Scanner app on my iPhone. One of the best apps for aviation enthusiasts. It is an augmented reality app, if you point your phone to a plane in the sky it shows you the airline, the flight number, the destination and the plane type. It has been fun to watch the descending Malev flights outside the building during smoke breaks. Yesterday there were no planes, just silence. I felt I lost a friend of mine.

In 2003 Malev changed its Boeing fleet. We had shiny new B737-600s, 700s and 800s. When the first plane arrived, there was a huge party in a hangar at the airport. A lot of people from all departments, food, music, everything, it was a nice social event. At one point, Malev’s music started tp play and the doors of the hangar opened. The new plane stood there with its blue nose facing us. I was busy taking photos, but when I stopped and looked around I saw hundreds of people standing there with tears in their eyes. At that point I understood this company was much more to its employees than just a company. It was a family where these “birds” as they called them were like kids or cute dogs, the most loved members of the family. The music composed by a famous Hungarian pop musician Gaborn Presser was so symbolic in this country that there are hardly any people who don’t know it. When I walk in the streets I can hear it as ringtones of cell phones.

“I’ve done a lot, God knows I’ve tried
To find the truth, I’ve even lied
But all I know is down inside I’m bleeding.”
(Rocky Horror Picture Show – Super Heroes)

Yesterday we lost a good friend. It was killed. It wasn’t an Agatha Christie style murderer, there will be no crime scene investigation. This company is the victim of high level politics. All governments and most CEOs in the past 12 (or so) years were involved. We know that the state is not a good owner. Manager came and managers went without understanding the aviation business, making decisions that caused damages. It was not just them however, but also the union, the Russian owner after privatization, and last but not least the politicians. There is just one person I have to mention from all these people – and don’t get me wrong he is not the only one responsible. But from all these people he was the only one who did not shut his mouth up yesterday. His name is Jozsef (Joe) Varadi, the CEO of Wizzair. Yesterday he told one of the news portals that “nothing special happened in Hungary today”. Well, in the next days I will tell you the Wizzair story in this blog, so you will understand his role in this case. (Nice one).

“My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly – my friends”
(Queen – The show must go on)

Yesterday evening the planes were directed back to Shannon Ireland, the base of ILFC, the leasing company that was accidentally founded by a Hungarian guy called Steven Udvar-Házy. At the moment they are parked up for repainting.

You can take a last look at these kind pets in the photostream submitted today on Flickr.

And what’s next? Malev’s staff still believes there will be a new flag carrier in Hungary, most people still hope the story will go on like Swiss’ (former Swiss Air) or SN Brussels’ (former Sabena). But I am more sceptic. I think the Malev story has come to an end. The rights will be inherited by Wizzair and Ryanair and maybe some others. The space will be filled up very soon and new planes and new carriers will take over the empoty skies. Is it good for Hungary? No, it isn’t. It will have an effect on economy, on international relations, on GDP and everything. But we’ll see.

Finally I wish all my former colleagues the best, I hope they will  receive their salary for January, find a new job quickly and that they will find their peace of mind in this world outside Malev.

By Szafi

 

Advertisements

Malev Boeing 767 In New Dress

Malev stopped its Budapest – New York and Budapest – Toronto flights on 25 October 2007, because these flights were not profitable. At that time the airline’s management studied the possibility of having the plane rented or leased.

In the meantime deal was apparently done with Midle East’s Oman Air, the flag carrier of the Sultanate of Oman. Oman Air was founded in 1993 and operates flights from its Muscat hub to main Middle Eastern destination like Dubai, Bahrein, Abudhabi, Doha and South-Eastern Asian countries like India, Bangladesh or Pakistan.

Malev plane in its new dress

Photo: Viktor Laszlo

Oman Air uniforms

Oman Air will rent the plane for five months as a start, but the contract may be extended. It is not just the plane that received new dress. Oman Air rented flight crew from Malev as well. The plane is under testing in Hungary now and it will be delivered to its new user, Oman Air.

Flight Review: British Airways

We have been considering writing flight reviews for some time, and now finally here is the first one.

British Airways Logo

Route: BUDAPEST-London/Gatwick-ATLANTA
Operating Airlines: oneworld: British Airways and Malev Hungarian Airlines
Travel Date: 06NOV2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.ba.com, which was a very nice experience. The website provides you with lowest price options on and around the days you have searched for showing the options in an easy-to-understand, coloured format. After selecting (confirming) your travel dates, it gives you a detailed list of all the available flight combinations, also colored so that you can easily recognize the cheapest option. What I really liked about the flight descriptions, that it explicitly tells you operational information after or between the concerned flights. For example it would tell you “Warning – your connection will involve travel between airports by coach or bus, the cost of which is not included in your fare.” And this text would be displayed between those two flights, where one arrives at Heathrow, while the other leaves from Gatwick. Really easy to understand, and very visual. After selecting your flights and providing passenger details you can pay for your trip with your credit card and upon successful payment, you receive a confirmation email immediately (as expected). The site also takes you immediately to the “Manage My Booking” section, that provides very usefull information and allows you to manage your booking. For example you can save time at the airport by filling out the APIS data (required for entry to the USA) online, you can also add frequent flier number if you forgot to add it at the time of the booking, and can change or upgrade your flights right from here, but can check the online entertainment options, including the movies you will be offered, too.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

You can also follow a link from the “Manage My Booking” page to offset your carbon-dioxide emissions with Climate Care (http://www.climatecare.org/britishairways/calculators/) using a pollution calculator. For this particular return flight my emmission is 1,86 t of CO2, which costed me EUR 20,75 to offset. Climate Care has also sent me a British Airways co-branded Certificate to certify that I have offset the CO2 generated by my return flight.
(Being curious I have also checked the Lufthansa website partnered with myclimate.org, launched a few months ago, and to my surprise for the same route it calculated: 1,705 t of CO2, and suggested a compensation of EUR 34. Where the difference comes from, I don’t know…)

Check-In

To be in control of my seats, I chose to check-in online. It opens 24 hours before the actual flight (each flight opens individually). Unfortunately check-in for the BUD-LGW segment was not available on the BA website, as it is operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines. But for the British Airways flight, I could check-in flawlessly, where I got a pre-assigned seat, which I could change while using a seat-map of the actual aircraft that I was going to fly. The process is very straight forward, and easy to understand I think. After the successful transaction I printed my boarding pass on a normal A4 size paper, that included a bar code for later identification at the airport. The website also gave me check-in summary after completing it. Unlike some other airlines, BA did not replace this home-printed paper with a magnetic stripe “traditional” boarding pass at the airport, this was the only boarding paper I used to get on my flight.

Due to the above mentioned situation I also used the check-in desks at Budapest, where they checked me in quickly for the Budapest-London segment, but they had no information of my other already self-checked-in segment. They could not confirm if I actually have 35A as my seat or not, but she said she can not do anything with my second flight (the systems blocks her) and suggested that I look for a BA transfer desk at Gatwick. She could check-in my luggage all the way, though. Upon arrival to Gatwick I contacted BA Ticket desk in the transit area, and the lady there was also very nice, told me that indeed I have 35A, but even though my luggage was checked-in all the way in Budapest already, she does not see it in the system. So I gave her my bag-tag, which then she recorded in their system.

Malev B737-700 (HA-LOL)

1. BUDAPEST – LONDON GATWICK (BA 4450 operated by Malev: MA 612)

Aircraft: Boeing 737-700NG (HA-LOL), new, clean, comfortable aircraft operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived exactly on time.
Boarding: After a long-long queue at the security (airport’s responsibility) I had to rush to the gate, otherwise it was OK
Seats: Full leather seats in both classes, with average legroom
Flight Attendants: There were 4 of them, 3 young girls and 1 older purser. Two of the girls were very good looking, all of them were very friendly.
Meals: We got hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and a wurst as well as freshly warmed/heated buns. Also got orange juice and tea, could have gotten a wide variety of soft drinks, or wine or beer.
Entertainment: There are LCD screens above the seats per every three-four rows in the aircraft, which play Malev and Hungary PR material throughout the whole flight.

G-VIIF Boeing 777

2. LONDON GATWICK – ATLANTA (BA 2227)

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (G-VIIF), not so new, at some places worn-down aircraft operated by British Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
Boarding: The security at Gatwick was very long, I was happy I had a three hour layover so I didn’t have to run, and I could relax while standing in the line. It was confusing that when finally they put up on the screens that we need to go to gate 55, while walking there I caught the last few words of an announcement saying that passenger flying to Atlanta should proceed to gate 59. It doesn’t sound that bad, but the gates are on two different sides of Gatwick, so it would have caused a running excercise if the announcement proves true. As I wasn’t sure if it was about my flight (there was another flight to Atlanta about an hour after mine) I went to the gate which was on the screens – it was a good decision as that was our gate. After the gate-boarding pass check-in there were seats available for only about half of the passengers, so either be there early or arrive late! Other than that, boarding went smoothly.
Seats: Full leather seats with proper legroom, as comfortable as a regular economy seat can get. Tip: if legroom is important for you don’t get a window seat, as the entertainment cables go on the window seat’s chairleg, which reduces free legroom. It doesn’t really leave you the option to put a laptop bag under the seat in front of you for example.
Flight Attendants: They really did their job of serving meals and overlooking the passengers for security. That’s all they did. No special smile or service, dry English manner.

Main meal on BA2227  Snack Meal on BA 2227

Meals: Not so long after take-off we received a small pack of snacks with drinks and later on the main meal. The choice was chicken or pasta, I took the chicken with assorted vegetables (potatoes, broccoli and mashed carrots). The taste was good, just like that of the standard salad (with fish) and the blackberry pie. The Twix chocolate bar tasted as everywhere around the world. The bun was not fresh and not warmed, not tasty at all. The white wine was OK, but it’s probably not award winning, either. Shortly before landing we got another “meal” which was a small pre-packed sandwhich with a small carrot-cake with raisins and a pack of dried fruits. Drinks were served once again. During the flight if somebody wanted to get snacks or extra drinks, the kitchen in the back of the plane was always “open”.

Dangling armrest on BA   Dangling armrest on BA 2.

Entertainment: Every passenger in economy has their own LCD screen and built-in remote control in the armrest. My armrest was really worn-down and actually broken. The dirty looking plastic cover was living it’s own life, as you can see on the pictures above. It should be dangling around like this, it was annoying. Just like the fact that I tried 2 headphones where each had only one side working, then I put on my own headphones which just worked properly. As it is a Skype enabled one, the flight attendants spotted it and brought a third one to try, which finally worked on both sides! It may only be me, but I always get a half- or non-working headphone set on my long-haul flights at first… On the other hand, the radio stations were OK, and the movies, too. The movies start at un-announced times, all movies starting at the same time. I watched three of them: Die Hard 4, Ocean’s Thirteen and Knocked Up.
Amenities: Each economy passenger received a bag of socks, and toothbrush-toothpaste.

Overall Experience

Despite the minor glitches on the BA flight with the entertainment (armrest and headphones) I would take this flight again, I had a good time onboard both oneworld flights. A big advantage was the convenient schedule (leaving Budapest at 7:10 and arriving in Atlanta at 16:25) and the pricetag: this return flight costed USD 1072, with the purchase taking place exactly one week before the departure (so relatively late).

by balint01

SITA Plans To Develop New CRS

SITA announced the development of a new Reservation System. You can read the full story on ATW Online. I must admit I am not a SITA fan myself. After an almost failed project in 2003 and a completely failed project in 2006 with them and after seeing their “Horizon” project slowly sinking into the ocean. By the way in the airline industry it is fancy to give applications names related to aviation. But Horizon is not a smart name as the closer you try to get to it, the further it moves from you.
I was honestly surprised by this announcement. After failing the Horizon project together with Unisys, Lufthansa Systems bought that half ready, unusable product (I worked with it; there were completely insane features in it and very important functions missing). Not long ago LH Systems announced they stopped developing it – which I think was a very wise decision. This is the relationship between SITA and Lufthansa Systems that appear in the article.

When I take a look at this announcement, I have a guess about what is going on at SITA. Ian Ryder’s name appears in the article. I first met him during our first e-commerce project together with SITA. At that time he was the head of SITA’s newly bought, Godalming based e-commerce department. SITA bought that company in late 2002 or early 2003. They had a product called I-Travel Direct. It was first implemented for Air New Zealand on a different GDS and Malev was the next client on SITA Gabriel. Later Malev migrated to Amadeus and we developed our own e-commerce solution based on Amadeus. But it was clear that SITA’s solution was at least competitive, although for us it was not flexible enough. At that time they also developed a new pricing system there also mentioned in the article.

So my guess is that this e-commerce and e-pricing solution will be the basis for this new development. And if this is the case, I have to say it is a good idea and this way they are right; even low costs will be able to take advantage of it. Such a development is a mega project though with many departments involved and if I just take a look at that department responsible for SITA’s DCS, they will stumble into lack of knowledge and lack of professionals. They can only succeed with it if they will hire some good project managers (better than the ones I met before – except Kevin Bull) who can split up this huge project into well definable pieces and monitor developments closely. These project managers will also need support and attention from the highest level management.

I will write an email to SITA and ask for their comments.

By Szafi 

Airline Economics – Ticket Prices

We always see fantastic price offers from airlines. But it is never clear if they contain taxes or not? How much is it whith taxes? And what are these taxes anyway? The following article will explain it all to you.

Today I read it in the news, that British Airways will have to pay a penalty of about EUR 20 000 to the Hungarian Competition Committee, because some of their past commercials were misleading for customers. The Committee’s main problem with these commercials were that they did not say taxes were not included in the price. Earlier SkyEurope, Malev, SmartWings, WizzAir and KLM were penalized for the same purpose. Therefore – at least in Hungary – some airlines started to publish their gross prices. However gross prices can be different at the same airline for the same trip bought on the same day. How can it be?

Basic ticket prices

Pricing is a very sophisticated process at airlines. we can say that almost every airline ha s adifferent pricing model. In general we can say that prices can differ:

– by cabin class: economy class tickets are the cheapest, business class ticket prices are higher and first class ticket cost the most

– by the date of departure. The closer we are to the date of departure when buying the ticket, the higher the prices are. It is thought to be the model of low cost airlines, but it is not true. Thishas always been the model of flight ticket pricing.

– by the rules attached. The less flexibility we need, the cheaper the prices are. Cheapest tickets are not refundable, not modifiable, usually a saturday night has to be spent att he destination and the length of the trip may not exceed 2 weeks. If we need a ticket that can be modified later or refunded or has an open segment (for example we do not know the return date) cost more.

(We will explain the reason of this pricing model in a separate article about airline revenue management.)

The basic ticket prices are paid for the airline and in case of a common operated, so called code share flight the operating and the marketing carrier share the money when the ticket is sold by the marketing carrier.

Taxes

Originally taxes were paid only for the airport. The airports publish their handling and other prices in the same reservation systems the airlines use for booking. They publish these prices in their own currency, that is why these amounts differ from day to day, because the currency converting rates change even within days. This minor change is the reason why airlines do not wish to include taxes in the basic price.

It also belongs to the truth that in case of certain currencies this change my reach bigger amounts as airlines publish their prices for 333 days. We could also say – so what? They can change their prices every week if the want to. This is also a possibility, but publishing airline prices is a difficult and expensive procedure as these prices have to be present in all the reservation systems all around the world. Thus it is understandable airlines do not wish to publish gross prices in all markets. However within the EU it is not a risk.

There is a nice trick about taxes airlines happily use. They did not want to increase prices in the same volume as kerozene prices rose in the near past. Therefore they created a so called YQ tax that is basically the fuel surcharge. This way they could keep prices low and include the extra cost into the taxes that are not shown in the comemrcials. Fuel surcharges are not paid to the airports.
“Other fees”

The other fees section of a ticket contains the so called service fee. Service fee came into the picture when airlines stopped paying regular commission to travel agencies a few years ago. (althoguh they still pay super or marketing commission and similar extras to agencies that qualify for these by selling a huge volume of the airline’s tickets) Instead of paying commissions they launched service fees that they also collect and this way they give some space to agencies to collect the missing commission from the clients directly.

At the same time airlines also started to play with this service fee to direct traffic to their more cost efficient sales channels, such as website or call center. It can easily happen that you pay more for the same ticket, same day, same trip in the airline’s airport office than on their website. The most expensive sales channel for an airline is the travel agency (including online agencies), then comes the city or airport office of the airline, then the call center and naturally the cheapest channel is their own website.

So if you would like to get the cheapest price for a certain flight, you should try to book it for yourself on the airline’s own website. Still it is possible that you will find the cheapest price at another website, because when you first look for it on the airline’s website, only a higher class is open, but in the meantime somewhere somebody in the world cacnelled his ticket, a few minutes later a cheaper ticket will be available.

That is the so called revenue management, but we will take a closer look at it in a different post.

By Szafi

Lloyd Paxton Leaves Malev After Two Months, Peter Leonov Is New CEO

It was breaking news this morning that Mr. Lloyd Paxton, the British aviation expert, who has been named as CEO of Malév Hungarian Airlines only two months ago, has resigned. Actually the first news in Hungary stated simply that he was replaced, the official statement later during the day talks about a resignation due to “personal resons”, which are not disclosed upon his personal request.

He is replaced by Mr. Péter Leonov. Mr. Leonov until now has been vice-chairman of the board, and was the leading and key figure during the privatization process of Malév on behalf of AirBridge, the company that finally won the long privatization tender earlier this year and is partly owned by Mr. Boris Abramovich, owner and key figure of Russian AirUnion.

Mr. Paxton has launched an ambitious restructuring plan, called ReMAke (name is based on the two letter IATA code for Malev: MA), being assisted by a number of international consultants and around 70 involved employees. According to the news in the Hungarian Media, Malev is determined to continue with the restructuring plan that is aimed at cutting costs and increasing revenues at the same time. When Mr. Paxton was introduced as the new CEO two months ago, Mr. Abramovic had stated that he has two years to turn around the loss-making airline.

by balint01

20 August Air Parade and Air Race – Budapest

Unfortunately I got sick, so I could not attend the events this year, but Balint was there and tomorrow he will show us some nice pictures and will give us a short report about the air race.

In the meantime I decided to share some older pics with you. These ones were taken on 1st May 2004, the day when Hungary joined the EU. As a part of the whole day events, a Malev 737 flew through over the Danube in Budapest. This was the last 737-400 in the Malev fleet as Malev exhcanged the whole 737 fleet to brand new NGs: 600s, 700s and 800s.

The pictures were taken by a friend of mine, a very good aircraft photographer, Viktor Laszlo. You can see many of his pictures on Airliners.net.

Malev Boeing 737 over the Danube in BudapestA Malev 737 in Budapest with the famous Chain Bridge in the backgroundMalev’s 737 in Budapest with an old famous marketplace in the backgroundMalev’s 737 with the downtown of Budapest in the backgroundMalev’s 737 flying through oevr the Danube in Budapest

Update!

In the meantime I received fresh pictures about a Malev Boeing 767 flying through over the Danube on 20 August 2007 in Budapest. Captain Zambo and Captain Borovszki flew through 200 m above the Danube in front of around 1 million spectators. Quite an amazing sight.

Photos were taken again by Viktor Laszlo. Thanks for them!

A Malev 767 over BudapestA Malev 767 over BudapestA Malev 767 over BudapestA Malev 767 over BudapestA Malev 767 over BudapestA Malev 767 over Budapest

By Szafi

Blog calendar

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Archives

Advertisements