- Passenger Numbers: 3.3 million, -2.8% year-on-year;
- Cargo volume: 16,106 tons, -5.4%;
- Freight: 14,703, -10.8%;
- Mail: 1403, +159.3%;
- Aircraft movements: 39,300, -3.0%.
Minneapolis St Paul International Airport pax down 3%, cargo down 5% in Jul-2012
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The North Atlantic: the state of the market five years on from EU-US Open Skies
The EU-US Open Skies agreement came into force on 30-Mar-2008. The year before, in 2007, IATA had released a major report looking at the benefits of airline liberalisation. After internal deregulation within the US and the EU, and some limited moves in other parts of the world, the agreement was (and still is) the most significant step towards global aviation liberalisation. The North Atlantic is the world’s largest intercontinental air traffic market and the eyes of the world were on it as it took this step.
The EU-US Open Skies agreement opened up markets on both sides so that any carrier from either side could fly between any point in the EU and any point in the US. It also provided for a second stage of negotiations aimed at loosening foreign ownership controls. This was signed in 2010, but has not so far been implemented.
With the fifth anniversary of Open Skies approaching, this analysis takes the opportunity to review the state of the North Atlantic market since 2008. The launch of Open Skies into the jaws of a global recession blurs its impact, but the main detectable results of Open Skies seem to be in the increased concentration of capacity in the hands of mega carriers and alliance joint ventures, with consequent benefits for load factors and yields.
LOT majority stake attracts airline interest, but restructuring and potential synergies will be key
Recent legislation allows the government of Poland to sell a majority stake in state-controlled national carrier, LOT Polish Airlines (LOT). According to media reports, LOT has appointed Rothschild as its privatisation adviser and a number of carriers have indicated their interest in investing. A lifeline loan from the government in Dec-2012 has been approved by the European Commission, partly conditional on a new restructuring plan expected in Jun-2013.
With losses for each of the four years 2008 to 2011 and a fifth loss expected for 2012, LOT’s cost base is too high for its revenue-generating capabilities. Moreover, it is inefficient versus the LCCs that compete on short/medium-haul, which accounts for 88% of LOT’s seat capacity and where its ageing 737 fleet needs replacing.
A handful of long-haul monopoly routes are finally benefitting from new 787s, but it is difficult to find many other features for LOT’s advisers to highlight. Interest in buying LOT will depend very much on the pricing and potential synergies a buyer might bring to the table.