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Air Canada is to put the mission of the Boeing 787-9 to the test in late 2015 with the planned launch of new service to Dubai and the resumption of non-stop service to Delhi. International expansion is a pillar of the airline’s growth strategy as it seeks to leverage is still-leading position as Canada’s largest international airline.
At the same time Air Canada is making domestic adjustments, transferring some routes to its low-cost subsidiary rouge, and entering smaller markets in western Canada.
The long-haul international flights will not be a huge contributor to Air Canada’s planned system-wide capacity increase of 9% to 10% in 2015, which is higher than its North American peers. But Air Canada believes those targets are reasonable as it has not grown in line with available international opportunities during the last decade.
Singapore Airlines' (SIA) long-haul low-cost subsidiary Scoot is preparing for a momentous 2015. The year will begin with the first 787 delivery and include the launch of approximately seven new destinations as Scoot’s fleet expands from six to 10 aircraft.
Scoot unveiled plans on 9-Dec-2014 to launch services to Melbourne, its first route announcement in over a year. But Melbourne, which will be added in Nov-2015, will be the last (or one of the last) of several new destinations launched during 2015.
While delivery of Scoot’s first 787 has been pushed back to Jan-2015, there have been no changes to the rest of the delivery schedule. Scoot plans to take 10 of the 20 787s it has on order in 2015. Its existing fleet of six 777-200s will be phased out after six or seven 787s are delivered.
Moderating growth, maturing markets and less intense capital commitments are some of the main drivers of Hawaiian Airlines’ positive outlook for CY2015 that includes margin expansion and cost control.
After rapid long-haul international expansion that commenced in CY2010, Hawaiian during 2014 has entered into a slower growth period that should provide space for the airline to continue strengthening its balance sheet and meet its stated liquidity and leverage targets.
As it takes a breather from its ambitious network transformation, Hawaiian is scrutinising the role new Airbus narrowbodies will play in its route structure once the aircraft come online beginning in CY2017.
Brazilian airline Azul continues to shake up the country’s aviation business in CY2014 through the launch of widebody operations, an order for Airbus narrowbodies and resuscitating its initial public offering that was shelved in CY2013.
Azul is basing its ambitions on the conclusion that there is significant upside for air travel in Brazil as growth projections over the medium to long term remain relatively robust. The airline believes it has built a solid network to accommodate the long-term demand, and is now making its case to potential investors that it is positioned to leverage the anticipated growth.
But the challenges Brazil’s airlines have faced in the short term – namely a fragile economy – remain intact, and it is not certain if the market will rise to meet Azul’s ambition.
A newly revised air services agreement between Mexico and the US that eases limits on the number of airlines allowed to operate on routes between the two countries is a welcome development for airlines operating in both regions. But it is particularly interesting for Mexico’s airlines given that their penetration in the transborder space still pales in comparison to US airlines operating between the two countries.
The new pact does not take effect until Jan-2016, which means that the lifting of restrictions is some way in the future. But in the meantime Mexico’s airlines still have ample opportunity under the existing agreement, and are no doubt evaluating new opportunities created by the new air services arrangement.
Mexico and the US struck the new accord as all of Mexico’s airlines are making a transborder push to diversify from the domestic market, which has been weaker the last couple of years due to Mexico’s sluggish economy. Key to the execution of the expansion is ensuring demand is robust enough in transborder markets in order to maintain favourable yields on those routes.
Frontier Airlines is in the midst of several network changes designed to aid its transition to becoming an ultra low-cost airline, and in the process appears to be challenging its headquarters Denver International Airport for what the airline perceives as operating charges that are rising faster than other major airports in the US.
The airline is eliminating numerous markets from Denver, mostly smaller routes that generate higher cost connecting passengers. Even as Frontier declares that higher airport costs make connecting traffic unprofitable for the airline, those markets were arguably not a good fit with the network Frontier is trying to create as it works to complete its business model transition.
Frontier is also opting to acquire larger gauge Airbus narrowbodies, a trend being adopted by major and low-cost airlines alike to drive down unit costs. All the moves Frontier is making show that the there are more chapters ot be written in its quest to attain ULCC status.