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Turkish Airlines and Pegasus to take unprecedented capacity decisions as Turkey air traffic slumps
Until 2014 Turkey was one of the most reliably fast-growing air traffic markets in Europe. In 2015 passenger numbers levelled off, and in 2016 traffic is set to decline. The impact of geopolitical events, including a series of terrorist attacks, the civil war in neighbouring Syria and the failed coup attempt in Jul-2016, has weighed heavily on demand for international travel to/from Turkey.
Foreign airlines switched capacity away from Turkey in summer 2016, but the country's two largest operators – Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines – continued to grow. However, following years of double-digit growth by both, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines are taking unusual steps this winter. According to data from OAG, Turkish looks set to implement year-on-year capacity cuts, while Pegasus appears to be planning flat capacity for the period from Nov-2016 to Mar-2017. It seems likely that both airlines will again cut their growth targets for 2016.
Moreover, Pegasus is seeking wet-lease customers for six of its current fleet of 73 aircraft. Perhaps more significantly, Turkish is to reschedule 165 aircraft deliveries planned for 2018-2022, cutting its planned fleet size in 2021 from 439 to 400.
Lufthansa to complete takeover of Brussels Airlines for possible integration into Eurowings
Lufthansa's supervisory board has approved the exercise of its call option to buy the remaining 55% of SN Airholding, the parent company of Brussels Airlines. Lufthansa acquired 45% of the company in 2009 and negotiated the option to buy the balance of the shares for no more than EUR250 million. The deal is expected to close in early 2017, once the details of the purchase have been agreed with the other SN Airholding shareholders.
Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines have an extensive codeshare agreement and are partners in the Star Alliance. Their existing relationship is such that Brussels Airlines already feels like a member of the Lufthansa Group. The main draw for Lufthansa has always been its Belgian partner's extensive African network (it is the number two airline on Western Europe-Central/Western Africa).
However, it now seems that Lufthansa will, at least partly, integrate Brussels Airlines into its Eurowings low cost brand. Lufthansa is keen to accelerate Eurowings' expansion through partners (and is also to wet-lease up to 35 aircraft from airberlin). Brussels Airlines' fleet and single-class configuration on short/medium haul should fit with Eurowings, but its unit cost and network airline business model are not characteristic of an LCC.