Another airline drops Geneva

In the plethora of gloomy predictions in "Le Temps" today, 24 January, was the news that Gulf Air is to stop its Geneva-Bahrain service. Hard times coming?

The economic news at the moment tends to be very pessimistic. Even though the stock markets are resisting reasonably well, the possibilities for the immediate future are mostly not optimistic, with Swiss industrialists increasingly forecasting a recession as very likely to happen. In terms of aviation, in particular Geneva airport traffic, this gloom and doom has not (yet) seriously affected the air traffic. We are, of course, lucky to have very good ski conditions this winter, so there are a lot of people flying in via Geneva, as well as via the nearby French airports of Lyon and Chambéry. Then, of course, the strong Swiss Franc enables many Geneva residents to flit to other European destinations at a very affordable price.

Although the official airport figures for January air traffic will only be available early in February, figures from the ARAG monitoring system suggest that this pessimism is having an effect. A comparison of the first three full weeks (Monday-Sunday) of this year and last year suggests that overall traffic has dropped by about 3%, effectively due to a drop of about 10% in unscheduled traffic, as against a minimal drop of only 0.3% in scheduled traffic. This difference is easily explained by the fact that schedules were established some months ago, at a time when everyone was less pessimistic than now. Thus, any further drop in scheduled traffic over the rest of the winter season is liable to be because of airlines changing their schedules, whilst schedules for next Summer will not be publicly available until the end of March.

Nevertheless, the announcement in the newspaper "Le Temps" today that Gulf Air is to stop its thrice weekly service to Bahrain at the end of February, is one indicator that all is not as well as it was last year, when the press release from the airport proudly announced this Bahrain service. Of course, it is not completely bad news, since the Gulf region (Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) has been an expanding market well served by other airlines. The major question in that region is the tension between Iran, to where there have been no flights from Geneva since last September,  and the West: if Iran tries to react to the new sanctions by closing the Straits of Hormuz then all bets are off!

As the ancient curse, attributed (perhaps falsely) to the Chinese, says :-

May you live in interesting times.

17:15 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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