- CAPA Analysis
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- British Airways Plc,
PO Box 365,
- Main hub
- London Heathrow Airport
- United Kingdom
- Business model
- Full Service Carrier
- Domestic | International
- Airline Group
- Part of International Airlines Group (IAG)
- Frequent Flyer Programme
- Executive Club
- Joined Alliance
- Association Membership
- Codeshare Partners
- Aer Lingus
China Eastern Airlines
British Airways (BA) is the national carrier of the United Kingdom, a subsidiary of publicly-listed International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG). BA’s extensive network, including that of franchise partners SUN-AIR and Comair (South Africa), includes services to Europe, North America, Latin America, Canada, Africa, Asia and Australia. Using a fleet of wide and narrow-bodied aircraft, the carrier operates freight and passenger services from it's three London hubs - Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport and London City Airport. BA is a founding member of the oneworld alliance.
Location of British Airways main hub (London Heathrow Airport)
International Airlines Group share price
359 total articles
IAG's Capital Markets Day on 4-Nov-2016 was the first since its formation in 2011 when it lowered any of its medium term financial targets. It cut its 2016-2020 average EBITDAR goal, in spite of adding in Aer Lingus for the first time. This followed two cuts to 2016 operating profit guidance during the course of this year, as a result of "a tough operating environment". It has been hit by adverse currency movements, mainly resulting from the UK's Brexit vote, in addition to ATC strikes and terrorist events.
To its credit, IAG has responded to the more challenging trading conditions by lowering its planned capacity growth and capital expenditure during its 2016-2020 strategic plan. These steps are necessary if it is to have a chance of meeting its ambitious goal to sustain a 15% return on invested capital. This target is unchanged, despite the lower profit outlook.
In 3Q2016, IAG's rolling four quarter return on capital fell, after rising more or less continuously since it began to target this measure in 2013. It has consistently been more profitable than either of its two main European legacy airline group rivals (Air France-KLM and Lufthansa). Nevertheless, the downward step highlights the challenge in meeting its own demanding target.
Qatar Airways turns 20 in 2017. The once tiny regional airline has become a global powerhouse and is reshaping oneworld, the alliance to which it belongs. Qatar has stakes in IAG and LATAM, and Qatar Airways CEO H.E. Akbar Al Baker has told CAPA that in the near future he expects Qatar to make acquisitions in two additional airlines, aside from Meridiana. He said the additional airlines would be successful airlines, as "We are not going to collect crap".
Strategic partnerships without equity are important; Mr Al Baker hopes American Airlines will cease its partnership with Etihad Airways and work solely with Qatar Airways, even forging a multilateral JV anchored around American, British Airways/IAG and Qatar. Qatar is heading towards a fleet of 250 aircraft in 2-2.5 years' time. Mr Al Baker expects recently ordered 787-9s to replace 787-8s, while an LoI for 737 MAX 8s will be to replace Qatar's A320s and grow that fleet.
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.
On 25-Oct-2016 the UK government announced its support for a new runway at London Heathrow Airport. There is still a lengthy set of processes to be observed before a new runway at Heathrow can finally be built. Moreover, opponents are likely to fight a fierce battle to try to prevent it. Even Heathrow Airport does not expect the runway to open before 2025. 2030 is more likely.
Airlines at Heathrow, led by British Airways and its parent IAG, have given a muted welcome to the UK government's decision. However, they are very clear that they do not wish to see airport charges increase as a result. IAG in particular has long been adamant that it will not pay for the expansion through tariff increases at Heathrow. The airport is among the most expensive in the world and its aeronautical yield rose 2.5 times from 2007 to 2014.
The UK government has set its aim on keeping landing charges close to current levels. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said that the expansion would provide an airport that is fair and affordable; but history suggests that the airport and its leading airline may define these terms differently. However, as this report demonstrates, IAG has other hubs and other airlines that give it alternative growth options.
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.
London airports and a new runway: Heathrow the business champion but the biggest growth is elsewhere
As the British government approaches a final decision on the construction of an additional runway in southeast England it is pertinent to look at how passenger traffic is developing at the two main airports that are in contention – Heathrow and Gatwick, and at the next two largest London area airports, Stansted and Luton.
While Luton stepped back from the runway debate (its ‘proposal’ was submitted by a third party), the management at Stansted Airport (M.A.G), having been knocked back by the Airport Commission’s report, has found renewed vigour as the scope of the objections to both Heathrow and Gatwick expansion became clear. Indeed, the suggestion that the government might decide to let airports compete, rather than itself funnel resources into one location, has inspired M.A.G. to revisit its own ambitions for Stansted.
That is assuming of course that a decision is ever reached, as, unbelievably, it has been postponed yet again while the Prime Minister, Mrs May, ensures that a Cabinet transport sub-committee that is known to be divided on the issue has a good debate about it. Then, having made a recommendation, MPs - also divided - will have another year to argue over it and - perhaps - fail to reach a consensus.