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Oman Air is pursuing ambitious fleet expansion and simplification as part of a plan to double its fleet and add more than 25 new destinations over the next six years. The flag carrier has decided to phase out ATR turboprops and Embraer regional jets as it seeks to operate two or – at most – three aircraft types.
Oman Air plans to operate 25 widebody aircraft by the end of 2020 compared to 10 A330s currently and only seven A330s six months ago. It is now committed to acquiring eight 787s and is considering ordering more 787s and A330neos.
Oman Air's narrowbody fleet ended 2014 with 19 737NGs. It is adding six 737-800/900ERs in 2015 and recently committed to acquiring 20 additional 737s for delivery from 2017.
It has been more than three months since Qatar Airways took delivery on 22-Dec-2014 of the world's first A350 XWB. Since then Qatar has taken delivery of only a second aircraft and has used it to increase Doha-Frankfurt service from one to two daily flights, perhaps for operational or commercial reasons although far catchier was Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker's explanation the double daily A350 would "rub salt in the wound" of Lufthansa.
A far greater commitment is in Singapore, where Qatar Airways will have three daily A350 flights to Singapore, a longer flight than Frankfurt. Singapore may be the first airport to see two A350 operators when Finnair commences A350 service there after other Asian points.
Vietnam Airlines will launch A350 service to Paris CDG while Cathay Pacific may make Auckland an early A350 destination. A350 configurations range from 280 to 305 seats. No airline has first class (yet) and business class seat counts range from 29 to 46, with business class comprising 10-15% of total seats.
Hainan Airlines order for 30 787-9s underscores trans-pac growth. Partnerships will need to increase
Hainan Airlines' decision to order 30 787-9s for delivery by 2021 will see Hainan narrow the international/widebody gap it has with China's three main state-owned airlines. Hainan has the fourth most number of passenger widebody aircraft in China (29) after Air China (83), China Eastern (59) and China Southern (57). The 787-9s, which supplement an earlier order for 10 smaller 787-8s, will take Hainan's disclosed commitment for future widebody aircraft to 37, ahead of Air China (32), China Eastern (20) and China Southern (13).
Many or even most of the 787-9s can be expected to be used on trans-pacific routes, Hainan's core long-haul segment and a market that is growing rapidly. The larger 787-9 not only allows Hainan to carry more passengers but decreases unit costs, critical as Hainan still needs to build yield strength. The order is still probably conservative and Hainan could have more growth – if Beijing allowed.
With more long-haul growth, Hainan will need to turn to partnerships. After Emirates and Alaska Airlines, Hainan is the largest full-service airline not part of a global alliance.
Pressures from depreciating currency and general macroeconomic weakness that LATAM Airlines Group faced throughout 2014 show no signs of abating in 2015 as the economies in some of its largest markets remain on shaky ground.
But despite those challenges, LATAM does see some opportunities to strengthen its network in 2015, reflected in its unchanged capacity forecast of 2% to 4% expansion with flat growth in the Brazilian domestic market. Even with its sustained capacity discipline in Brazil, LATAM is making a new push from Brasilia in 2015 to leverage smaller regional markets that could help improve its overall performance in Brazil’s domestic market.
LATAM also plans to grow its long-haul international capacity as some North American and European airlines have slowed capacity growth, which is a positive development for LATAM as it continues working to mitigate some of the weakness within South America.
Milwaukee Airport anticipates bright spots in 2015; longer term growth prospects need some nurturing
Similar to other medium-sized airports, traffic patterns at General Mitchell International Airport serving Milwaukee reflect the service reductions those airports have endured in the post-consolidated US environment.
But some positive developments are occurring at Mitchell. The airport’s largest airlines Southwest and Delta are adding new service in 2015 and Alaska Airlines becomes a new airline serving Mitchell when it launches flights to its Seattle hub in 2H2015.
Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport may not reach the passenger levels it enjoyed before the onset of the latest period of consolidation in the US marketplace, but the additional service is obviously a welcome development for an airport determining its role in the market place with a handful of airlines controlling the majority of traffic.
Pressure from having to pull capacity from Venezuela and overall economic weakness in many regions within Latin America pressured Copa Airlines’ financial results for 2014; but the airline still delivered a respectable 19.8% operating margin for the year and posted a decrease in unit costs.
Many of the elements that dragged down Copa’s financial results in CY2014 remain intact – continued pressure on yields by moving a significant amount of capacity from Venezuela and weakened economies in Latin America. The airline has not made any adjustments to its projected 7% capacity growth for CY2015, but its expansion of supply is at a lower rate than 2014, and most of the growth stems from network changes Copa undertook in CY2014.
Although Copa’s yield and unit revenue challenges will persist in the near future, overall the company remains in good financial shape to withstand the macroeconomic pressures weakening its results.