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easyJet’s 1H2013 pre-tax result improved by GBP51 million to a loss of GBP61 million. This puts it comfortably on course to achieve the current consensus forecast for record pre-tax profits of GBP410 million in FY2013. It may also be on another collision course with founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou over aircraft orders.
CEO Carolyn McCall believes easyJet can take further market share from non-LCCs on point-to-point routes. At its top 20 existing airports, where easyJet has 46 million seats (a share of 22%), she puts this potential additional market at 86 million seats. This analysis appears to pave the way for a large aircraft order after easyJet completes a review of its future fleet strategy later this year, although it insists that no decision has yet been taken.
This would not please Sir Stelios who said: “Good things happen to airlines that don’t order more aircraft.” Under Ms McCall's guidance easyJet's share price has more than doubled over the past year and not just because it didn't grow. It may be time for Sir Stelios to let go.
Shortly after Emirates Airline announced its remarkable breakthrough partnership with Qantas in Sep-2012, Emirates CEO Tim Clark said he had also been talking to American Airlines for some time and publicly expressed hopes that the two would also establish a close relationship. This was despite the fact that American already had an extensive codeshare relationship with Etihad; and the third Gulf carrier, Qatar Airways, has since been invited to join the oneworld alliance – which American leads.
The Gulf airlines, and particularly Emirates, have had a devastating impact on European long-haul hub carriers. The impact will be different for US airlines, but despite the different geography, it will be much bigger than most expect. For one thing they will cut across the developed boundaries of the global alliances.
The Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has confirmed that Qatar Airways and Gulf Air will launch domestic operations in the country before the end of 2013. The granting of the licences to two foreign carriers to operate domestic service is an unparalleled move of openness in the Middle East. It will start a new era for travel within the country.
The opening of the Saudi Arabian market presents a new challenge to national airline Saudia. However, after several years of facing competition from domestic carriers and a thorough modernisation ahead of its entry into SkyTeam in 2012, as well as the extended international reach that alliance membership offers it, the carrier is in a better position now to meet the latest threat.
The debate continues as to whether or not Scandinavia’s airlines would benefit by merging in the current economic climate (meaning SAS Group, Finnair and Norwegian), but across the southern Arctic Ocean to the west there is another airline, together with its home airport and country, that are doing rather well and which, like Copa, Tocumen Airport and Panama City, are gaining regional influence that belies their relative size.
While Iceland/Icelandair/Keflavik Airport may not yet be Singapore/SIA/Changi Airport, or Dubai/Emirates/Dubai Airport in size and scope they are, owing – perversely - partly to a financial crash and an aberrant volcano, a collective force that cannot be ignored. But there is a caveat. Downtown Reykjavik’s Lake Tjörnin is a famous magnet for internationally travelling geese and other birds during the summer season. Yet could the influx of airlines that has taken place in Iceland during the year, and which looks likely to gain momentum, kill the goose that laid the golden egg?
New partnerships, global alliances and cross-border ownership are changing traffic Flows – and hubs. This global shift was dealt with in some detail in the Feb-Mar 2013 edition of Airline Leader (“A seismic upheaval opens the way for next-generation alliances”). The impact of the Emirates, Qatar and Etihad agreements in Sep/Oct-2012 have irreversibly altered the evolution of the world industry.
Branded global alliances – Star, SkyTeam, oneworld – remain important, but the evolutionary direction has shifted towards alliances becoming much more pragmatic. This not only affects the airline industry, but goes also to the efficacy of airports and even national economies. Airport hubs will be dictated by these trends, shifting away from the traditional gateway transfer points to Gulf airports and, progressively to markets like China.
This is Part 2 of two parts: CAPA's Global Aviation Industry Outlook 2013, extracted from CAPA's Airline Leader, Issue 17, Apr/May 2013, to be released online shortly.
While China Southern's announcement to serve Sydney from Oct-2013 with the A380 may be good for Australia at large, for China Southern there are limited upsides besides strategic ambition and slowly ending its negative perception from not being able to use the A380 in international markets.
The carrier will replace one A330 Sydney service with the A380, generating a 41% increase in capacity, which will likely make the service loss-making for some time. Sharper increases will occur in the premium cabins, where daily business class seats will rise from 48 to 100 and first class from four to eight.
The increase in capacity will occur in an already over-saturated Australia/NZ-Asia market, which is seeing increased capacity from AirAsia X, Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qantas, Scoot and Singapore Airlines.