IATA Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignanni, cautioned that if oil prices remain at current levels, airline costs will increase by more than the projected earnings for 2011, threatening the industry’s return to profitability (Bloomberg, 02-Jan-2011). IATA forecast in Dec-2010 that airlines would achieve a net industry profit of USD9.1 billion, at an average oil price of USD84 per barrel.
IATA warns oil prices could erode industry profits
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CAPA airline profit outlook. Record margins from capacity restraint, but upswings are not forever
This six-monthly update of the CAPA world airline operating margin model continues to expect industry margins in 2015 to 2017 above previous cyclical peaks, albeit falling slightly in 2017. This is in spite of unexceptional global GDP growth, which has not regained its long term trend rate since 2010.
The higher level of airline operating margin from a given GDP growth rate has been due to several factors. Lower oil prices have played their part, particularly since mid-2014, as does a higher level of global traffic growth than would previously have been expected from relatively sluggish GDP growth. In addition to these external issues, perhaps the most significant factor is a greater degree of capacity discipline. This is now most deeply rooted in the US, which is now by far the most profitable airline region, helping to drive the global result.
On a more cautionary note, the IMF has recently cut its global GDP forecasts, citing Brexit and other geopolitical risks. In addition, profit warnings in recent weeks from IAG, easyJet and Lufthansa are a reminder that cyclical upswings do not last forever. A test of the airline industry's improved profitability will be its resilience in a downturn.
Bombardier C Series: record orders in 2016 as both variants finally enter service
The first commercial flight of the Bombardier CS300 on 14-Dec-2016, operated by airBaltic from Riga to Amsterdam, will be a major milestone for the Canadian manufacturer's new C Series aircraft programme. Three CS100 aircraft are already in service with SWISS, so the airBaltic flight will mean that both variants of the C Series are finally in commercial operation.
The programme is Bombardier's first wholly new aircraft development, aimed at the 100 to 150-seat market segment and offering advantages of fuel efficiency, cabin space, noise and emissions. Bombardier once targeted 2013 for entry into service, but has been dogged by problems and delays. In 2015, Bombardier seemed to have overstretched itself. The C Series received no new orders during the year and Bombardier was forced to seek investment from the Province of Québec to rescue the programme.
In 2016 the company has recovered to win a net 117 new orders, its highest annual total, bringing the programme total to 360. However, competition is cut-throat, with Airbus, Boeing and Embraer all having new developments of existing products in the same space as the C Series. Bombardier's breakthrough orders from Air Canada and Delta in 2016 required heavy price discounts.