Airbus confirms firm order of 10 A380s by Hong Kong Airlines
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Cathay Pacific to Christchurch: contentious Air New Zealand JV as Cathay seeks greater "agility"
As Cathay Pacific is being forced to undergo a competitive metamorphosis it is exploring all options. The latest example is an expected announcement of a new Cathay Pacific route from Hong Kong to Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. The service is expected to be seasonal (for the New Zealand summer), and is only Cathay's second seasonal long haul route after the Jan-2017 announcement of northern summer service to Barcelona.
New Zealand is a small network component for Cathay but one of its last strongholds, due to a joint venture with Air New Zealand. The New Zealand government reluctantly extended approval for the JV despite Cathay and Air NZ reneging on an offer to use it to link Hong Kong with Christchurch, as well as Auckland. This would thereby have extended the JV to benefit more of New Zealand – a sensitive local matter based on the assertion that Auckland was receiving disproportionate air service benefit.
Air NZ's JV with Cathay arch rival Singapore Airlines has resulted in SIA growing its presence in Christchurch. Cathay has been more frugal, and the NZ government determined that although the JV reduced competition, there was no prospective third competitor, so no harm done.
But now that Hong Kong Airlines has entered Auckland, and then expanded, the Cathay-Air NZ JV faces disbanding. By finally committing to a Christchurch route Cathay appears to be bidding to keep the JV in play. But the New Zealand government will still probably withdraw approval of the Air NZ-Cathay JV.
Iran Air drops the A380 from its Airbus order; a logical decision as the A380 ages, enters mid-life
Iranian aviation is being revitalised with the long-term prospects of re-establishing a global hub in Tehran. The first of many steps is re-fleeting and growth at the flag operator Iran Air, which has confirmed orders for 180 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing. The 80-aircraft Boeing order includes 737 MAXs, 777-300ERs and 777-9s, while the 100-aircraft Airbus order includes A320s, A321s, A330s and A350s.
Iran Air has dropped preliminary plans to take 12 A380s. Although this is being marked as the latest blow to the A380 order, Iran Air taking A380s was always a distant prospect. Tehran is a small hub prospect in the short term and, irrespective of whether Iran Air could find sustainable markets for the type, by the time Iran Air planned to receive its first A380 the type would be well into its mid-life, with dwindling spare parts and support.
A380 phase-out is beginning. Of the A380's early operators: Singapore Airlines is not renewing the leases on its initial A380s, Emirates will have new A380s replace older A380s it expects to part-out, and Qantas is studying stretched A350 types and the 777X to replace its A380s. That said, there may be renaissance concepts for the aircraft, such as Malaysia Airlines' charter plans.