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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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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.
When CAPA – Centre for Aviation held its first conference in Iran at the end of Jan-2016 the atmosphere was primarily one of optimism. Immediately preceding the conference the expectation was that Iran and the West would move to rapidly reverse decades of estrangement. The first round of sanctions against Iran had come down – in line with the historic 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the ‘5+1’ powers – and major airlines and aircraft manufacturers were coming to the table.
While it was acknowledged that progress on major deals was not going to happen overnight, the hope was that as layers of sanctions came down, Iran would be embraced by the rest of the world. In return, Iran was expected to open itself up progressively to foreign trade and investment, and to travel.
The road ahead was perceived to be one that was both a very different, and far easier, one than the one Iran had already travelled. Aviation in particular was a sector that was expected to shine and lead the way for a new era for the country.
A decade ago it would have been unheard of for Air Canada to contemplate reaching an investment grade credit rating. The airline had emerged from bankruptcy protection, but was still struggling financially. It would teeter on the verge of another formal restructuring before setting out on a course to restructure its financial foundation – a process that has allowed the airline to improve its balance sheet and leverage.
Air Canada’s leverage targets for YE2018 will not meet the general proxy for an investment grade rating; however, its lower capital commitments and debt refinancing could create an opportunity for achieving that status beyond 2018.
Attaining an investment grade credit rating likely remains a longer term goal for Air Canada as its major financial goals in the short term remain paying down debt that is creeping up due to a fleet renewal, as well as funding growth to drive long-term shareholder value. More meaningful shareholder returns will likely occur once the company reaches what it deems as acceptable progress in debt management, and reaches a certain maturity level in growing its international network.
This is Part 2 in a two part series on Air Canada. Part 1 dealt with long haul LCC subsidiary, rouge.
During the past year Air Canada has found itself defending its double-digit capacity growth, stressing that 90% of its capacity in 2015, 2016 and 2017 is being deployed to its international network – an entity the company believes is far from reaching maturity. Recently the airline has outlined plans to introduce a raft of new long haul flights to Europe and Asia operated by Air Canada mainline and its low cost arm – Air Canada rouge.
Air Canada stresses the pillars of its international expansion – Boeing 787 widebodies and the establishment of its low cost subsidiary rouge – enable the company to enter international markets it once considered unviable due to higher costs. During the summer of 2018 rouge will nearly reach its 50 aircraft cap, and Air Canada needs to start determining if there are further opportunities to grow its low cost unit. Those evaluations will partially dictate Air Canada’s overall growth levels beyond 2018.
In the short term Air Canada is not seeing any broad changes in consumer behaviour, reflected in its solid booking curves. Weaker markets in Western Canada, hit by the downturn in the oil sector, are stabilising as capacity cuts have resulted in a rational supply-demand scenario.
This is Part 1 in a two part series on Air Canada. The second instalment will focus on the airline’s costs and balance sheet management.
jetBlue Airways, armed with its premium product Mint, is poised to disrupt the trans-Atlantic market
Periodically throughout the last few years jetBlue has hinted that long haul trans-Atlantic flights could be a possibility at some point in its evolution. But in mid-2016 the company took a more concrete step towards serving trans-Atlantic routes by altering its Airbus order book – potentially to support long haul expansion.
JetBlue’s decision to option the Airbus A321LR occurs at a time when airlines such as WestJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle and WOW Air are pushing the low cost model into the long haul international market. Perhaps the steps those airlines are taking to carve out the low cost niche in the long haul space has accelerated jetBlue’s evaluations of trans-Atlantic service. The company has declared that it would make a decision about its options for the long-range Airbus narrowbody in 2017 ahead of the narrowbody’s debut in 2019.
The biggest drivers for jetBlue’s decision to enter the long haul trans-Atlantic market are identifying routes where it can inject low fares to stimulate traffic and drive revenue. The company’s base in Boston is emerging as the epicentre for those potential opportunities.
Attempts by WestJet’s competitors to flood the London market with capacity in order to undermine the low cost airline’s widebody experiment in the London Gatwick market have not produced the end result of driving WestJet from the trans-Atlantic space. WestJet is sending a clear message to its competitors that it plans to remain firmly entrenched on long haul routes. The company is currently examining options for more widebody aircraft, and is discussing further long haul expansion with its pilots.
After a rocky start to its highly anticipated long haul service to London, WestJet is posting load factors on its routes to Gatwick that are higher than system average, and concludes that the flights are delivering positive returns.
An interesting pattern in WestJet’s passenger composition on the company’s trans-Atlantic service to Gatwick is the number of US-originating passengers from large metropolitan areas that currently have nonstop service to London – a dynamic that the airline attributes to its lower fares. The US-originating customers are boosting WestJet’s sixth freedom traffic flowing over Canada to long haul destinations.