United Airlines stated its first B787, which is now in final assembly and scheduled for delivery in "early 2012", will be configured with 36 flat-bed seats in BusinessFirst, 63 seats in Economy Plus and 120 seats in economy, according to a USA Today report. The carrier will deploy the aircraft on services between Houston and Auckland and Lagos. [more - CAPA Analysis]
United Airlines on track to receive 219-seat B787 in 'early 2012'
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Air New Zealand defends Australia-USA transit market as Qantas plans further USA growth with 787-9s
Air New Zealand is turning up the volume. For years the airline had a tidy, under-the-radar business carrying transit passengers between Australia and the US over its Auckland hub. Air NZ is now directly targeting the Australia-USA market with a sales and marketing push that includes an advertising campaign called "Better Way to Fly". CEO Christopher Luxon said in a statement that "capturing just a little bit more of that market would see hundreds of thousands more Aussies flying with us to North and South America...Many Australian travellers still think of us as a trans-Tasman carrier and that’s a perception we’re determined to change."
The shift that Air NZ envisages is being sought now – and not five or even 10 years earlier – largely because of external factors and competition. Air NZ's marketing may suggest an opportunistic push, but the reality is Air NZ is on the defensive. In the Australia-Americas market competitors have lowered their costs, adding city pairs, product improvements and significant capacity growth. 2017 and 2018 are expected to mean even more growth as a resurgent Qantas adds 787-9 services between Australia and the US, and in particular – to Dallas.
US DOT rejects Qantas-American Airlines joint venture under pressure of unchecked consolidation
After complaints about airlines amassing power through joint ventures to the detriment of consumers, the US DOT appears to be exerting greater and more conservative scrutiny on partnerships. DOT has rejected a proposed JV between American Airlines and Qantas. After DOT declined their request for a much longer response time American and Qantas withdrew their application, submitted in Jun-2015.
At a top level the JV does seem to raise concern: combined, Qantas and American would hold 59% of the US-Australia market. Yet almost all of that – 53% – is from Qantas; American adds only 6ppt.
DOT rejects the notion that such larger market share can possibly be in the interest of consumers. Yet it appears to overlook the benefit American might bring in exchange for incremental market share gains. Nor is it clear if this combination is more anti-competitive than some JVs where two airlines, each with a small- or medium-sized position, combine and become multiples larger. Qantas' 53% market share was earned through quality and smart loyalty programme development while competitors lagged.
Qantas will continue growth in North America, its most successful international market, but American Airlines' growth is uncertain and it may re-evaluate a supposedly planned Los Angeles-Melbourne 787 service.