Virgin Blue’s profit warning of 24-Jan-2011 has not daunted analysts’ confidence in the airline, with Virgin Blue’s long-term strategy continuing to receive praise from the broking sector, despite short-term challenges including jet fuel prices and the slowdown in consumer spending (AFR Financial Review, 27-Jan-2011) Outlook from the banking sector is that its strategy of forging alliances with airlines including Etihad, Delta and Air New Zealand will pay dividends from 2012.
Virgin Blue's profit downgrade shrugged off by brokers
You may also be interested in the following articles...
Virgin Australia realigns its airline partnership priorities on new long haul strategy: Part 1
There have recently been important shifts in Virgin Australia's partnership relations, as Air New Zealand withdraws its ownership and the roles of Singapore Airlines and Etihad evolve with HNA becoming a substantial shareholder. As a consequence, Virgin is restructuring its long haul network for the first time in over two years. Individual changes are not significant, but they help tie up loose ends in Virgin's strategy. Virgin and its US JV partner Delta have been static since United and Qantas-American Airlines greatly altered the Australia-US market profile, a route which constitutes most of Virgin's long haul network.
Virgin struggled to find a use for what was essentially leftover aircraft capacity that it allocated to Sydney-Abu Dhabi as part of a JV with Etihad. With a limited fleet, North America beckoning, and Etihad seemingly losing some lustre since a Virgin-Singapore Airlines partnership, Virgin is having to cut Sydney-Abu Dhabi to free up capacity to relaunch Melbourne-Los Angeles.
Virgin will still commit to its Etihad partnership by adding three weekly Perth-Abu Dhabi flights on the A330-200, which will finally be moved out of the domestic market and deployed long haul. Since the end of the West Australian mining boom, these well equipped aircraft are no longer needed on transcontinental domestic service. Virgin's fleet of five 777-300ERs now will exclusively be used on Los Angeles.
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.