Air France-KLM's latest strategic project, 'Trust Together', follows its Transform 2015 and Perform 2020 programmes. In fact, it complements Perform 2020, rather than replacing it, at least until fuller details are announced in 2Q2017. After years of financial under-performance and market share erosion by Gulf airlines on long haul and LCCs on short/medium haul, CEO Jean Marc Janaillac aims to regain the offensive with this project.
But, in the absence of a substantial change of heart by the group's unions, there is little to suggest any "new" initiative will have a greater impact than its predecessors. The mere fact that Mr Janaiiac is forced to deny that the new long haul airline, codenamed "Boost", will be positioned as "low cost" is a clear enough indication of the task ahead. Indeed, to consider establishing anything else would be irrelevant in today's world.
Presumably so as not to rock the union boat plans are for only an ineffectual 10 aircraft by 2020. Just as with its short/medium haul LCC, Transavia, the scale and scope of the new long haul airline are likely to be subject to negotiation with Air France pilots. Transavia itself will now focus on routes from France and the Netherlands, implying an end to the troubled plans for Transavia Europe.
Vueling's new CEO, Javier Sanchez-Prieto, is leading a programme ('Vueling NEXT') to improve its profitability, both through revenue enhancement and cost efficiency gains. Among other aims this hopes to reduce Vueling's high levels of seasonality, to raise aircraft utilisation and to improve labour productivity. Given ambitious financial targets by IAG – action is needed.
Part 1 of CAPA's analysis of Vueling examined its capacity growth and profitability trends since its acquisition by IAG in 2013. Vueling's operating margin and return on invested capital are on a downward trend, hence the new initiative to reverse these trends.
This second part of CAPA's analysis considers the profit improvement programme. During this programme Vueling's fleet will remain broadly flat to 2018, before resuming growth thereafter. Focus markets for Vueling are domestic Spain and Spain-Europe. It has strengths in these markets but faces growing competition from its lower-cost rival Ryanair, which has also been raising its service quality – closing the gap to Vueling's more premium positioning on the LCC spectrum.