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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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At the Paris Airshow, Wizz Air signed a MoU with Airbus for the purchase of 110 Airbus A321neo aircraft, with deliveries to start in 2019, and uncommitted purchase rights over an additional 90 A321neo aircraft. The order is subject to a final purchase agreement and approval by the shareholders of Wizz Air, which listed on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year.
Such approval is typically forthcoming and the new aircraft should provide significant unit cost improvements. Nevertheless, Wizz Air's order is very large compared with its size today and follows large orders for narrow body aircraft in recent years for other leading European LCCs, including Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian and Vueling (the latter as part of an IAG group order).
Norwegian has admitted that it may not be able to use all of its planned aircraft and Wizz Air's order now provides an opportunity to review the data on the number, and types, of narrow bodies on order in Europe. Narrowbody deliveries to Europe look set to rise, at a time of rising global deliveries. Success is not guaranteed for all. Meanwhile the expanding role of LCCs in both leisure and business markets continues to undermine the positions of legacy airlines on short haul routes.
On 26-Jun-2015, the US Congress went into a recess without having approved a renewal of the charter for the Export Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the country’s export credit agency. Congress doesn’t return to session until 08-Jul-2015, forcing a hiatus of at least a week on further Ex-Im Bank financing activities.
When the bank's Congressional funding authority expired on 30-Jun-2015, it became unable to undertake new transactions. Existing financing – some of it stretching out as far as 18 years – will continue unaffected, but new activity will effectively cease.
This is the first time in the bank’s 81-year history that it has been forced to suspend its lending activities, even on a temporary basis. Once a source of bipartisan unity, the Ex-Im Bank has fallen victim to Tea Party activism, ideology and the increasingly acrimonious nature of US politics. It is hard to see who wins from this silliness.
Indonesian flag airline Garuda Indonesia is resuming international expansion as it takes its last batch of four 777-300ERs and acquires 30 787-9s along with 30 A350s. The expansion comes as Garuda's outlook improves after a challenging 2014, which led to a restructuring of its international network and a hiatus from international growth.
The additional 777-300ERs will support international capacity growth in the near-term, including more capacity to Saudi Arabia in 2H2015 and new services to Frankfurt and Paris in 2016. The 787-9s and A350s will partially be used to replace Garuda’s fleet of A330s from 2020 but will also enable further growth of the carrier’s medium and long-haul networks.
Meanwhile Garuda is adjusting its widebody fleet plan by opting not to include a first class cabin in its additional 777s, although at least for now it will maintain a first class product in its original fleet of six 777-300ERs. Garuda also plans to remove the business class cabin on six A330s, giving it an all-economy product similar to the A330s operated by low-cost rivals Indonesia AirAsia X and Lion Air.
Canada’s two major airlines have adopted divergent - but ultimately converging - paths during the last few years to lay the foundation for expanding margins and ensure sustained positive financial results. WestJet has opted to create a product mix to attract a higher percentage of business travellers while attempting to avoid alienating its core cost conscious customer base. Air Canada has decided to increase its reach among leisure passengers.
Overall, each airline’s respective strategy appears to be paying off in the form of solid returns, margin expansion and increased profitability. But both airlines in the short term are facing unit revenue and yield pressure for different reasons.
Similar to most US airlines, WestJet and Air Canada continue to deliver strong top-line results even if unit revenues remain under pressure. But if oil prices, which are slowly ticking upwards, suddenly start to rapidly rise, Canada’s airlines may need to revisit their capacity projections as overall supply in some regions is exceeding GDP growth.
The three large US global airlines are continuing their quest to shed inefficient 50-seat jets in favour of larger gauge aircraft, a trend sweeping the US industry with nearly every major airline undertaking some form of seat densification on existing aircraft or taking delivery of jets configured with a higher number of seats.
United and Delta are opting to replace their 50-seat jets with a mix of new and used aircraft, and American appears to be adding new jets to replace its 50-seat aircraft. Based on current fleet projections American is moving more slowly in culling its 50-seat regional jets while Delta has been the most vocal and aggressive in shedding the smaller aircraft.
Even with the big push to shrink the 50-seat jet fleet, some US majors are extending contracts with their regional partners covering a small number of those aircraft. Perhaps in a few markets lower fuel prices improve the economics of the jets; but overall airlines are marching ahead to rid themselves of aircraft that were a mainstay in regional operations a decade ago.
Whisper it quietly, but Delta and United are dependent on Gulf carrier connections for their Middle East flights. The larger US-Gulf carrier partnerships are between Emirates and JetBlue, as well as American Airlines with both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The latter two are intriguing as American is forcefully involved in the allegations against Gulf carriers; JetBlue is not and in fact strongly supports the Gulf three's expansion. JetBlue will for example open an Orlando-Mexico City service to take feed from Emirates' new Dubai-Orlando service. With Emirates going double daily into Seattle, it could look to replicate with local carrier Alaska Airlines the partnership it has with JetBlue.
Etihad in Mar-2015 said it placed 180,000 passengers onto US carrier networks in 2014 – 493 a day – as well as 50,000 in the first two months of 2015, or 847 a day; around a fifth of Etihad's US passengers connect to a US airline. American Airlines has been a primary recipient of this traffic and has realised the traffic opportunities it is leaving behind. With Etihad serving Dallas-Abu Dhabi only three times a week, there is opportunity for American Airlines to launch its own service to Abu Dhabi and expand its partnership with Etihad. A deeper Gulf partnership will help American, but they are not alone among north American airlines whose interests may be best served by closer links.