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Boeing is a leading manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft, rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced information and communication systems. Headquartered in Chicago, Boeing employs more than 170,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries.
Boeing is organised into two business units: Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Supporting these units is Boeing Capital Corporation, the Shared Services Group and Boeing Engineering, Operations & Technology.
Boeing’s main commercial products are the B737, B747, B767 and B777 families of aircraft and the Boeing Business Jet. New product development efforts are focused on the B787 Dreamliner, 737Max, 777X and the B747-8. The company has nearly 12,000 commercial jetliners in service worldwide, which is roughly 75% of the world fleet.
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One area where United Airlines has made important strides during the last few years is in overhauling its balance sheet. Its efforts have gained some recognition from credit agencies for its progress in paring down debt and improving leverage ratios; but similarly to its rival American Airlines – attaining an investment-grade credit rating is not a huge priority for United. The airline believes it can achieve some benefits that investment-grade companies enjoy with the current state of its balance sheet.
In order to sustain the progress it has made in balance sheet repair United plans to amend its aircraft order book to slash capex commitments during the next couple of years, including the deferral of 61 Boeing narrowbodies. United is hinting that other fleet changes could be under consideration, including deals similar to the agreement it forged during 2015 to lease used Airbus A319s.
This is Part 2 in a two-part series reviewing United’s financial and revenue-generating opportunities.
Two of Canada’s aspiring ultra-low cost airlines made a major breakthrough in Nov-2016 after they were granted exemptions from foreign ownerships restrictions, which allow foreign entities to hold up to 49% of Enerjet and Jetlines. Now Enerjet has taken on some heft by partnering with the global ultra-low cost airline investor Indigo Partners, which was instrumental in Spirit Airlines’ ULCC transition and now owns the ULCC Frontier Airlines. Another new Canadian ULCC, NewLeaf Travel, boasts former Spirit Airlines CEO as chairman of the board.
It is tough to predict how those influential backers will affect the outcome of efforts by the new crop of ULCCs to successfully execute the model in Canada. Although Canada is one of the few mature aviation markets without a true ultra-low cost competitor, the nuances of the Canadian domestic market could create challenges for the long-term viability of NewLeaf, Enerjet and Jetlines in the marketplace.
Jetlines and Enerjet, operating as FlyToo, aim to debut in Canada’s market during 2017. Unsurprisingly the country’s two airlines Air Canada and WestJet plan to compete vigorously with the start-ups, with WestJet vowing to defend its franchise and match the fares of its new competitors.
Cautious optimism exhibited by Copa Airlines at the end of 2Q2016 that challenging conditions in Latin America were showing some signs of improvement has turned into a full-blown declaration that the worst is over in the region. Although yields remain depressed, Copa turned a corner in its passenger unit revenue performance in 3Q2016, posting positive results driven by healthy load factors. Copa continues to experience strengthening demand, and believes it is only a matter of time before yields turn a corner.
The changing conditions have resulted in Copa issuing a slight upward revision to its margin guidance for 2016, and the airline has outlined a framework for restoring its operating margins to the high teens during the next couple of years. Copa’s preliminary growth project for 2017 is an ASM increase of approximately 5% driven largely by aircraft ultilisation.
As optimism builds that Latin America is starting to turn an economic corner, Copa is undertaking a strategic business move by shifting its business model in Colombia to a low cost operation. The new entity Wingo is debuting in Dec-2016; Copa holds the view that the shift in business model is low-risk, and highlights the fact that Wingo does not carry the same challenges as low cost subsidiaries created by other airlines.
Air Canada’s yield and passenger unit revenues during 3Q2016 remained broadly in line with those of the previous quarter, which is a different outcome from the results posted by many of its North American peers. However its top line revenues grew nearly 11%, and its costs fell at a lower rate than those of many other North American airlines.
The airline’s yields and passenger unit revenues began falling earlier than those of most other airlines based in North America, and Air Canada’s recurring explanation is that lower yields and unit revenues are an expected byproduct of changes in its business model – the creation of its low cost unit rouge, a higher mix of lower-yielding leisure travellers, and longer average stage lengths. As yields and unit revenues continue to decline, Air Canada continues to deliver on its own established financial goals for EBITDAR, ROIC and leverage ratios.
Air Canada’s focus has been on international expansion during the past few years, and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. In 2017 the airline is expecting nine Boeing 787s scheduled for delivery and its capacity is likely to mirror 2016’s double-digit growth – given that the company will accept delivery of nine new widebodies this year. The bulk of its growth will again be directed to international routes as several new long haul markets are scheduled to come online in 2017.
Mexico’s largest airline, Aeromexico, plans slightly higher capacity growth in 2016, mostly driven by added frequencies to its long haul markets in Asia and Europe. Its preliminary guidance shows an ASK increase in the low single digits versus 8% growth in 2016. Similarly to 2016, much of Aeromexico’s capacity should be deployed to international markets as the airline sheds three Boeing 777 widebodies and adds five 787-9s to its fleet.
Aeromexico and Delta continue to believe US regulators will approve their immunised cross-border joint venture by YE2016, and are planning to increase their combined daily flights between the two countries by 43% during the next two years. The joint venture is a major pillar of Aeromexico’s transborder strategy going forward as Delta prepares to exert more influence over Aeromexico’s strategy. Some of Aeromexico’s and Delta’s rivals are lobbying for the two airlines to relinquish more slots at Mexico City Juarez, which could become a factor in the government’s final decision.
In the near term Aeromexico’s outlook is relatively stable, despite continuing challenges from the depreciation of Mexico’s currency. The airline’s revenue generation for the 9M ending Sep-2016 was favourable, driven by increases in yields and load factors.
NOTE: This report was prepared before the DoT issued its decision in the Aeromexico-Delta joint venture
Hawaiian Airlines’ geography has been a boon for the airline throughout 2016 as the company’s unit revenue performance has outpaced that of its peers. Hawaiian has benefitted from immunity to the lack of pricing traction in many domestic markets on the US mainland, and rational capacity deployment on is largest North American routes.
The company expects to continue posting a unit revenue outperformance for the remainder of 2016, driven by still favourable capacity trends in its markets. Hawaiian’s own capacity growth is expected to fall between 3% and 4% for 2016, and remain in the low- to mid- single-digit range for the foreseeable future.
Although Hawaiian continues to outperform the industry in unit revenue, the company is facing inflated unit costs in 2016 driven by several factors, including increased compensation and technology investments. The airline is also in the middle of pilot negotiations, and has acknowledged additional cost headwinds once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.