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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 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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WestJet’s significant 33% growth in profits year-over-year during 1Q2013 is being overshadowed by the airline’s planned 9% to 10% capacity growth during 2Q2103 amidst a softer yield environment that shows no immediate signs of retrenchment. The carrier is repeatedly stressing that its decision to expand capacity is sound, highlighting passenger spill it experienced during 2012 when it achieved record load factors of nearly 83%.
While the bulk of WestJet’s planned 6%-7% domestic capacity expansion during 2Q2013 will be dedicated to transcontinental routes, the carrier’s launch of its new regional carrier Encore is occurring as demand patterns are somewhat unpredictable given a slight uptick in the Canadian unemployment rate in Mar-2013 and more profitable close-in bookings showing some signs of weakness.
China is the world’s most populous nation and its second largest passenger aviation market with enormous growth potential in spite of some regulatory brakes. So why is it that some European countries are under-served to China by their home carriers, in particular Spain, but also Italy and the UK? It is not an easy market to serve and yields remain low, but it is a must-do market.
Air China and Lufthansa are the biggest players on Europe-China and this is reflected in the Star Alliance controlling almost half of the seats on these routes and SkyTeam’s Air France and KLM both have strong positions in Amsterdam and Paris respectively. By contrast, British Airways finds itself in the most competitive Europe-China market, the UK and without a Chinese partner.
While BA is starting a Chengdu service and increasing its Shanghai frequency from six times weekly to daily, Iberia is absent entirely from China and IAG looks very under-represented in this large and fast-growing market. In spite of Finnair carving out a successful niche, oneworld is an also-ran on Europe-China, with only a 10% share.
The year 2012 is the year of the 737. Much as Airbus broke sales records with its A320neo in 2011, Boeing is experiencing a similar re-writing of its own sales records with the 737 MAX this year.
Earlier this week, Boeing delivered its 377th 737 for the year – a 737-900ER for United Airlines – making 2012 a record delivery year. United Airlines was Boeing’s second 737 customer – after Lufthansa – placing a mammoth order (by 1965 standards) for 40 aircraft. When the 737s began going out to customers in 1968, it took Boeing almost eight years to deliver 377 aircraft.
Net year-to-date orders for the 737 Next Generation and the new MAX have totalled 1,031 aircraft. This is almost 200 more than the previous single year record of 846 orders set in 2007. As is typical for the airline industry, the ordering peak occurred just prior to the onset of a major dip in global passenger traffic, triggered by the global financial crisis.
South African Airways bears all the scars of a government-owned legacy carrier in terminal decline, accelerated by continued political fumbling and interference which in Sep-2012 resulted in the mass board walkout and the resignation of three top executives, including its CEO.
The flag carrier is deeply mired in debt, bereft of a positive outlook. A temporary sop of a government guarantee is unlikely to support a turnaround in 2013 and offers little hope of improvement in South Africa’s troubled aviation sector while government fumbling continues. Moreover, subsidy of one airline – by providing government guarantees – in a supposedly deregulated domestic market only serves to destabilise competitive operations.
That does not offer a sustainable recipe for an airline industry in a country which relies heavily on dependable commercial air services to support economic activity. Yet, unless its masters in Pretoria miraculously gain, and apply, a clearer vision for SAA, the future promises only the continuing decline of a once proud airline.
As a majority state-owned airline in North Africa, Tunisair has retained most of the flag carrier privileges that are cemented in the 1944 Chicago Convention, but those protectionist practices run counter to the present realities of passengers wanting choice and low fares. It is only natural that Tunisair defends its flag carrier status and historic market share, yet its lax attitude to take out legacy waste makes it ill-prepared for an Open Skies with the European Union or other Maghreb countries.
Tunisair deploys about 70% of its weekly seat capacity on routes to Western Europe and it has a 55% to 68% share of all one-way seats flown between Tunisia and Western Europe depending the high or low season. This is likely to decrease under an Open Skies with the EU and this in turn could lead to a further erosion of Tunisair’s financial results.
As in the rest of Europe, the airline industry in the continent’s Nordic region is undergoing a structural change characterised by bankruptcies and intense competition from low-cost carriers with full-service network airlines implementing cost reduction programmes aimed at securing long-term sustainability or just survival. The region saw yet another operator cease operations in 2Q2012, Air Finland, following on the bankruptcy of Cimber Sterling, Skyways and City Airline in the first three months of the year.
Finnair made outstanding progress in 2Q2012 to lower its cost base and heighten revenue although it could not attain profitability while SAS Group’s pre-tax earnings halved year-on-year to SEK371 million (EUR45.1 million ) despite a one-off SEK346 million (EUR42.1 million) capital gain attributable to property transactions. Norwegian Air Shuttle improved in all operating parameters in the three months ending 30-Jun-2012 and reported a consolidated net profit of NOK90.5 million (EUR12.4 million), up 69% over the year-ago period. The LCC’s operating profit expanded to NOK322.3 million (EUR44.3 million) from NOK72.8 million (EUR10 million) in the year-ago period, and 2Q2012 EBIT margin was a respectable 10.2%.
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