- Cargo traffic (FTMs): +1.0% year-on-year;
A4A reports 1% rise in cargo traffic in Aug-2012
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Airline JVs under scrutiny in Qantas-American; Delta-Aeromexico; Alaska-Virgin America merger
Concerns over the US Department of Justice obstructing the merger between Alaska Air Group and Virgin America were laid to rest in Dec-2016: the agency cleared the tie-up through a fairly benign requirement that Alaska and American must relinquish some codesharing routes. The result is that Alaska and Virgin America will bolster their combined positions at key US markets in order to compete more effectively with larger US network airlines.
DoJ’s blessing is a major milestone for Alaska. Since the company announced its plans to acquire Virgin America in Apr-2016, it has continually stated that it expected to close the deal by YE2016, after gaining DoJ’s approval. But the initial closing date was pushed back in order for DoJ to gain more time to review the transaction. The extended review caused jitters among Alaska’s investors about potentially onerous conditions to be imposed by DoJ, but ultimately the agency’s requests were rational.
In the last weeks of 2016 US regulators have pointed a new direction for joint venture, but the message is not entirely clear. Adopting a reasoned approach to the Alaska-Virgin America tie-up while rejecting a proposed joint venture between Qantas and American, and driving Aeromexico and Delta to reconsider their JV after imposing conditions the airlines deemed to be unworkable. In part, those decisions reflect the influence smaller airlines have exerted on the current US Presidential administration.
United Airlines reduces seasonal capacity in the competitive US-New Zealand/Australia market
After rapid growth in the market between North America and Australia/New Zealand, an airline has finally blinked: United Airlines will change its sole New Zealand service, San Francisco-Auckland, to only operate seasonally. United will rely on its JV partner Air New Zealand.
Auckland is less important for United than for American Airlines and its codeshare (but not JV) partner Qantas. Qantas has exited the Auckland-Los Angeles market, so American's entry to New Zealand gives it two nonstops from both Australia and New Zealand, enhancing presence across the region and making it easier to bring American visitors to both Australia and New Zealand.
United's adjustment to a seasonal service will mean that the New Zealand-North America (excluding Hawaii) market will expand by a reduced 10% instead of 17%. Even with this downward change there will be 17% more capacity than in the previous record year of 2008.