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As one of the most visited countries in the world, aviation is a significant industry in France, with international airports in all of its big cities and regional airports in almost all parts of the country. The aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, which produces around half of the world’s aircraft, is headquartered in France. The French civil aviation authority is the Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile, which oversees aviation security and safety, environmental regulation, the air transport market, aviation service providers and training institutions. France’s main international gateway, and its busiest airport is the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG), while the Paris-Orly Airport (IATA: ORY) is the country’s busiest for domestic travel. Other main gateways are located in Nice (IATA: NCE), Lyon (IATA: LYS) and Bordeaux (IATA: BOD).
Airports in France
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British band The Jam’s debut single included the lyrics: “In the city, there’s a thousand things I want to say to you… In the city there’s a thousand faces all shining bright, and those golden faces are under 25”.
London’s City Airport is no longer growing with the youthful energy captured by The Jam. Indeed, it turned 25 last year, but it has matured into a successful airport with an increasingly diversified route portfolio. Business routes remain very important, but you are now also likely to find business people there looking to recapture their lost youth in one of the several leisure destinations served.
In London City, there might not be a thousand things to say, but it does reflect a number of key trends and issues in European aviation today: airline consolidation, the battle between the alliances, EU liberalisation, capacity constraints, the importance of high yield passengers, the development of surface infrastructure and the shift to new generation aircraft technology are all evident at the airport.
The only shining bright faces that are missing are the low-cost carriers.
ASKY Airlines has transported more than one million passengers in little over three years since launching operations in West Africa in Jan-2010. In that time the full service carrier, 40% owned by Ethiopian Airlines, has established an enviable market position, operating to 22 destinations with Bissau to be added from Jul-2013.
With the carrier now making a profit, management is turning its attention to expanding south in search of more lucrative routes to Angola and South Africa, while more ambitious services to Europe could reportedly be launched by 2015.
Air Tahiti Nui plans metal neutral alliance with Air France and partners as losses continue to mount
Air Tahiti Nui has announced a planned deeper alliance with Air France on the Los Angeles-Paris CDG route and is rolling out a refurbished fleet of A340-300 aircraft to allow it to compete better with rival South Pacific carriers. But profits remain elusive for the heavily indebted carrier which survives with the support of its French Polynesian Government majority owner, which appears to be resisting a much needed restructuring of the airline.
The far flung archipelago territory’s tourism industry is slowly recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis which saw visitor numbers fall more than 40%. But while French Polynesia is benefitting from growth in tourism from Australasians eager to venture beyond Fiji, the bigger spending European market remains in decline.
Air Tahiti Nui is also facing tougher competition from a rejuvenating Air Pacific, as well as Hawaiian Airlines which has launched services to Australia and New Zealand. All provide connections to the United States and in the case of Hawaiian, as far afield as New York, making each an attractive option for an island stop-over.
If airline groups can be thought of as families, then profitable British Airways is the strait-laced older sister of the petulant, unreliable and loss-making Iberia. BA has learnt from its hedonistic, free-spending youth and matured into the sensible, trustworthy one. Parents are not meant to have favourites, but it is clear that IAG looks on BA with a glint in the parental eye, while Iberia is constantly being scolded. IAG refuses to buy its irresponsible Spanish child any new toys until it mends its ways, while it now trusts her British sister with shiny new 787s and A350s.
Nevertheless, BA should not allow itself to feel too smug. It remains much more dependent on a single hub (Heathrow) and on a single intercontinental market (North America), but less connected to domestic and European markets than its peers. Moreover, cost benchmarking points to the need for a reduction in CASK, which it has not managed since before the merger. As any parent knows, it is not just the children that are most visibly struggling that need attention.
There are 103 A380s in service as of early May-2013. Emirates has 33 and Singapore Airlines has 19, so when assessing network scheduling, these two and their hubs predominate: of the 1,048 weekly A380 flights, 402 are from Emirates alone. Dubai and Singapore airport see the most A380 flights.
But there are some less predictable statistics. The airport to see the most A380 operators is Hong Kong followed by Paris and Los Angeles. The largest A380 destination that is not (yet) an A380-hub is London Heathrow. The UK and USA are the most common A380 destinations after Australia, Singapore and the UAE. Asia, not the Middle East, sees the most A380 flights; South America sees none. Guangzhou-Shanghai Pudong is the shortest A380 route at 1,202km while Los Angeles-Melbourne is the longest at 12,751km. Qantas and Lufthansa have the highest average sector length while Thai Airways is placing the most number of cycles – about two – on its aircraft per day. Qantas and Air France are placing the least (just over one).
easyJet’s 1H2013 pre-tax result improved by GBP51 million to a loss of GBP61 million. This puts it comfortably on course to achieve the current consensus forecast for record pre-tax profits of GBP410 million in FY2013. It may also be on another collision course with founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou over aircraft orders.
CEO Carolyn McCall believes easyJet can take further market share from non-LCCs on point-to-point routes. At its top 20 existing airports, where easyJet has 46 million seats (a share of 22%), she puts this potential additional market at 86 million seats. This analysis appears to pave the way for a large aircraft order after easyJet completes a review of its future fleet strategy later this year, although it insists that no decision has yet been taken.
This would not please Sir Stelios who said: “Good things happen to airlines that don’t order more aircraft.” Under Ms McCall's guidance easyJet's share price has more than doubled over the past year and not just because it didn't grow. It may be time for Sir Stelios to let go.