Analysis for Global
26-May-2013 12:40 PM
Across the world, premium air travel demand is under slackening. And it is hurting the world's airlines.
In the early days of aviation, it was all about the glamour. Images from the 1930s and 1940s evoke an era of silver and linen service, with passengers and crew dressed as if they were in one of Europe’s grand hotels rather than in a noisy metal tube dodging bad weather and landing to refuel on any flight longer than a few hours. As air travel became more popular and affordable, first class cabins remained the domain of the rich and famous, but the advent of business class gave busy executives a haven from their daily stresses and appealed to the ambitions of the aspiring rich and famous.
Now, in the era of low-cost carriers, aviation is mostly about getting from A to B as cheaply as possible. Airlines such as Southwest, Ryanair and AirAsia have led a popular revolution democratising air travel and making it as accessible and common-place as catching a bus.
So where do first class and business class, collectively known as the premium cabins, fit into this new world?
25-May-2013 2:47 PM
Airbus continues to celebrate A330 sales success, pulling in another order (three A330s from Oman Air) this week. The A330 is nearly two decades older than its most direct rival, Boeing’s 787, but the aircraft continues to match the newer aircraft in terms of popularity. When Boeing launched the 787 programme in 2004, the aircraft was seen as a major threat to A330 sales. However, the predicted paucity of A330 orders has failed to materialise, with sales of the older jet meeting those of its newer rival almost on a one-to-one basis over the last decade.
Since the launch of the 787 in 2004, Boeing has sold 890 of the carbon fibre and composite aircraft. The manufacturer claims that the aircraft is 20% more fuel efficient than “similarly sized aircraft” such as the A330 and its own 767. The aircraft is also billed as offering a similar level of savings in terms of maintenance costs and an overall 10% lower cost per seat mile. The 787's iconic value is also being marketed strongly by its operators.
24-May-2013 10:00 PM
Mexican low-cost carriers Volaris and VivaAerobus are continuing to build up domestic market share during 2013 as Interjet appears to be holding its own on routes within Mexico while it awaits delivery of its first 93-seat Sukhoi Superjet 100 during 2H2013, when it plans to make a push into markets that are too thin for its current fleet of 150-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
Volaris and VivaAerobus should continue to grow their share of the Mexican domestic market during 2013 as both carriers have stated an intent to exploit opportunities within Mexico, reflected by plans for each airline to make a push from Cancun to target Mexican travellers with increasing discretionary income.
23-May-2013 11:00 PM
Excitement exuded by Allegiant Air a year ago over its then-impending service launch to Hawaii has been dampened by the realities of operating the market. Allegiant has admitted the dynamics have changed in the US-Hawaii market place since it opted to acquire Boeing 757s during 2009 to link its small market US destinations with Hawaii. Now the carrier is tempering its expectations for its expansion into Hawaii and reining in capacity as a means to bolster its performance from the US west coast to the Hawaiian islands.
Allegiant is likening its seasonal capacity management from the US to Hawaii to adjustments it regularly makes in its Florida markets to properly align its supply with demand. But it is unclear just how firm the airline’s commitment is to Hawaii as it has not assured that some routes undergoing a seasonal suspension will return, and has hinted its Hawaiian operations are likely to be smaller in scale than originally planned.
20-May-2013 8:40 PM
There are 103 A380s in service as of early May-2013. Emirates has 33 and Singapore Airlines has 19, so when assessing network scheduling, these two and their hubs predominate: of the 1,048 weekly A380 flights, 402 are from Emirates alone. Dubai and Singapore airport see the most A380 flights.
But there are some less predictable statistics. The airport to see the most A380 operators is Hong Kong followed by Paris and Los Angeles. The largest A380 destination that is not (yet) an A380-hub is London Heathrow. The UK and USA are the most common A380 destinations after Australia, Singapore and the UAE. Asia, not the Middle East, sees the most A380 flights; South America sees none. Guangzhou-Shanghai Pudong is the shortest A380 route at 1,202km while Los Angeles-Melbourne is the longest at 12,751km. Qantas and Lufthansa have the highest average sector length while Thai Airways is placing the most number of cycles – about two – on its aircraft per day. Qantas and Air France are placing the least (just over one).
17-May-2013 12:10 AM
Delta Air Lines’ scheme to return USD1 billion to shareholders during the next three years is the latest example of how the carrier is widening the competitive distance as its merger with Northwest Airlines is essentially done and dusted. The airline unveiled its plans for shareholder returns after months of prodding by investors that have watched Delta pare down its debt, keep capital spending costs in line and generate solid free cash flow.
At the same time the carrier has set new debt reduction targets, it hopes all its efforts to get its financial house in order will lay the groundwork to achieve investment grade status, something Delta admits it will not attain anytime in the near future.
Through its latest moves Delta is also attempting to prove that the newfound stability in the US airline business has staying power after a decade of bankruptcies and economic turmoil have forced airlines to undergo a major reset.
16-May-2013 9:42 PM
Weakness in long-haul markets from Brazil continued to pressure LATAM Airlines Group during 1Q2013 as competitive capacity increases triggered depressed loads and unit revenues in its international network. But LATAM’s efforts to restore strength in the Brazilian domestic market and the relative strength in the group’s Spanish speaking companies should help to offset some of the continuing pressure in LATAM’s international network.
The company’s attempts to bolster international service during the last year to offset some of the continuing weakness in the Brazilian domestic market have faltered somewhat due to competitive capacity increases by American and United in the US-Brazil market, and LATAM’s own expansion of supply in the market. The company’s overall capacity increase in its international markets during 1Q2013 was 12.3%.
15-May-2013 11:41 PM
Brazil’s second largest carrier Gol recorded mixed fortunes during 1Q2013 as its overall losses widened year-over-year but yields and unit revenues improved at what appears to be at the expense of load factor. After recording annual losses for the last two years Gol is hoping an aggressive capacity reduction in the Brazilian domestic market place and a significant reduction in its workforce will help the carrier slowly improve its fortunes.
But Gol faces challenges in achieving its turnaround as company management believes it is uncertain that Brazil will record 2.5% GDP growth in 2013 while inflation is rising. The carrier feels positive about its position heading into the slow season in South America, but the timing of a full recovery for the carrier seems far from uncertain.