Emirates targets 33 million passengers p/a by 2012
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Flybe: largest regional airline in Europe leads the airline capacity growth charge in winter 2016/17
The surprise departure of Flybe CEO Saad Hammad on 26-Oct-2016 "by mutual agreement" raises questions about the future strategic direction of Europe's largest regional airline. Mr Hammad joined in Aug-2013 and implemented a restructuring programme, returning Flybe to profit in FY2016 (March year end).
Capacity reduction during the restructuring has been followed by a period of accelerating growth. So much so that Flybe is Europe's fastest-growing airline group among the top 20 in Europe by seat numbers this winter, with an increase of 19%. CAPA has identified 45 new Flybe routes in calendar 2016 (compared with a late summer total of 165), on the majority of which Flybe has no airline competitor.
Despite low competition on its network, Flybe's FY2016 operating margin was one of the lowest among listed European airlines and coincided with weakening unit revenue. Pricing has softened further, not least due to uncertainties such as Brexit, just as Flybe's capacity growth has accelerated.
Until a replacement for Mr Hammad is found, Flybe's Chairman Simon Laffin will assume executive responsibility. Significant strategic change may be unlikely in the interim, but a key question for the next CEO will be whether to continue with such aggressive capacity growth in the face of falling fares.
EU-Gulf open skies negotiations: Qatar CEO Al Baker warns of biased 'fair competition' definition
As the US-Gulf airline dispute loses momentum with the American government, the big Middle East aeropolitical debate will now shift across the Atlantic to Europe, where the European Commission has a mandate to try to negotiate an open skies agreement with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as other countries/blocs, including Turkey and ASEAN.
Qatar Airways CEO H.E. Akbar Al Baker gave a keynote presentation at the recent CAPA-ACTE Global Aviation Summit in Amsterdam and addressed the subject of the EU mandate. Mr Al Baker called for unquestionable third and fourth freedom liberalisation and eventual fifth freedom liberalisation. The devil as always is in the detail; the non-EU airlines in the negotiations are sceptical about how the EU will define a "fair competition" clause, and whether it will be left abstract enough that "fair competition" could potentially be used against airlines in a way they have not envisaged. The Brexit referendum could result in the EU negotiating side losing the UK, whose liberal views have balanced those of the more protectionist France and Germany.