THE PAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN A
major ordeal for Russia's commercial airlines. Beginning in 2000 and continuing through
2004, operators enjoyed significant traffic
growth, with passenger numbers increasing at an average rate
of 10% annually. But in 2005 that growth slowed dramatically,
to just 3.9% from 14.9% the year before.
The root cause of the slowdown was the rapid rise in fuel
prices, up 60% from June to December 2004, which worsened
the economics of Soviet-built aircraft just as carriers faced
increased maintenance costs to operate them. In response, airlines
I flew to Abu Dhabi for a short work trip in January and, if I’m honest, I found the security and screening processes at that airport ahead of my flight back to Washington DC a bit annoying.
However, given today’s announcement about new US security rules for flights from that airport and nine others, most of them also in the Middle East, the focus of my annoyance has changed....More