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Ezzat and the generation gain

Posted 4 April 2018 · Add Comment

EgyptAir has received its ninth and final Boeing 737-800NG on a lease deal from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE). Alan Peaford talked to airline chairman, Captain Sherif Ezzat Badrous, about the deal and a new approach for the Egyptian carrier.

EgyptAir’s Sherif Ezzat has been busy lately. The chairman and CEO of the group’s flag-carrier has been looking forward to the latest additions to the fleet with the orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the A320neos – but there has also been some unfinished business.
The airline had made a commitment to Boeing for the ‘next generation’ 737-800s when it began developing its fleet renewal plans in 2016. It placed an order for nine of the type in a deal worth at $864 million through Dubai-based DAE Capital. All nine were handed over during in the course of 2016/17, with the latest arriving in Cairo in mid-December.
This brought the airline’s total passenger fleet to 53 (excluding EgyptAir Express) with some 29 of them being the 737-800 workhorse.
Ezzat said the new addition would seat up to 154 passengers divided into 16 seats for business cabin and 138 for the economy class – but this latest 737 represented the start of a new cabin standard for the Egyptian carrier.
Ezzat said that, for the first time, the aircraft is featuring an audio/video-on-demand system (AVOD), a refreshed interior and the signature elements of Boeing’s innovative Sky Interior, with modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, and LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness.
“The design offers larger, pivoting overhead stowage bins that add to the openness of the cabin. The bins give more passengers room to store a carry-on roll-aboard near their own seat, adding both extra convenience and extra legroom that reaches 48 inches,” said Ezzat. “The business-class cabin is also provided with electricity outlets for recharging personal computers and cellular devices, in addition to the personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system that offers our customers a variety of recent documentary and newly released movies, as well as radio channels.”
Playing catch-up with the IFE is a key target for EgyptAir.
“We have got behind the curve but, with the new orders and the recently delivered aircraft, we are making the move. We have 10in screens for economy passengers and have plans with On Air and Panasonic in place. Our next generation of aircraft will all have the latest in cabin technology for our customers.”
The recent history has been tough for the airline.
“We had been in a promising position back in 2007 but, with events like the global economic slowdown, the Arab Spring, the revolution and so on, the airline was affected. You cannot split from the national economy.
“In 2010, the EgyptAir group had 84 aircraft but the fleet was getting older. Today it is a fleet of 69 and the plan is that it will be back up to 84 by 2023. Things are getting better.”
Under the terms of its government ownership, the airline was unable to cut jobs as part of any restructuring and had to focus on other savings. “We worked our way through it. We didn’t cut salaries either and we are coming out stronger,” said Ezzat.
A key performance indictor for Ezzat is the airline’s on-time-performance. It was bumping around at about 70% but has now increased to 81.6%, putting it just outside the top 50 best performing global airlines. “This past month we have been above 85% and we aim to be above 92%,” he said.
With the new additions to the fleet, Ezzat sees new destinations coming on line – or indeed some old ones.
“We lost Libya, Syria and Yemen but, this year, we see Shanghai and other Chinese cities, and also a return to Japan,” he said.
Africa is another key market. “We want to have an open market with the whole of Africa. There is strong competition from Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian, but our new fleet will help us. We can’t open the high-frequency routes now with our limited number of aircraft, but over the next three years we will compete.”
It looks like Ezzat is going to be busy for a few more years yet.
 

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