Air India writes its own melodrama; Virgin rebrands 'bland'


Air India’s woes have been deepened by the pilots’ strike, which entered its ninth day on Friday (6-May-2011). The national carrier stated the industrial action – over pay parity between AI pilots and lower-paid collegues from merger partner Indian Airlines – is costing the airline INR260 million (USD5.8 million) a day.

Mostly domestic services have been cancelled with the expected number of travellers affected running into the tens of thousands.

As stated in CAPA analysis of the situation: “As a representation of what can go badly wrong in an India where there is so much potential and room for economic and social expansion, there is no better case study than the flag carrier.”

Read the full article: Air India – more than an airline, a national symptom

Air India is urgently seeking wet-lease arrangements, as well as deploying widebody equipment on the services it can run, to deflect the full effect of the crisis.

To add insult to injury, the carrier’s in-flight entertainment contract expired – meaning no movies – so long-haul passengers had best pack the kindle in the carry-on. Or, as one CAPA wag suggested, perhaps the crew could re-enact an omnibus of scenes from Bollywood classics.

WTI crude has traded under USD100 per barrel for the first time since Mar-2011, sending US airline shares spiking. WTI crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell USD9.44 per barrel to settle 8.6% lower at USD99.80 a barrel on Thursday, the first time it has settled below USD100 since 16-Mar-2011. The fall is the largest single-day percentage decline for the contract since 20-Apr-2009.

Read related article: Oil prices will fuel demand for leasing of young aircraft: BOC Aviation

Read the share wrap: US airlines shares jump as fuel dips under USD100 per barrel

In the Asia Pacific, the biggest news of the week was the rebranding of Virgin Blue to Virgin Atlantic. CAPA revealed on Wednesday, the day of the announcement, that the name will be allowed to fly internationally after approval was given by Singapore Airlines – a 49% stakeholder in Virgin Atlantic.

Read the full article: Virgin Australia brand to fly internationally. And more Singapore Airlines news to come

A B737NG and an A330 flew into Sydney on the day decked out in the new livery: an all-white fuselage with bright red Virgin branding on the tail and a stylised “virginaustralia” aft of the cockpit. Gone is the red of Blue. The colour scheme prompted one analyst to redub it the “reblanding of Virgin”. The busty figureheads remain, only in a ghostly grey, perhaps mirroring the demise of the old brand as the carrier attempts to move on Qantas’ corporate market.

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