- Cargo traffic (FTMs): -5.5% year-on-year;
- By carrier:
- Domestic: -1.3%;
- International: -8.4%;
- Trans-Atlantic: -9.4%;
- Latin America: +2.1%;
- Asia Pacific: -9.5%.
Airlines for America (A4A) reports drop in cargo traffic in Jan-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.
Aeromexico and Delta JV: major uncertainty reigns after the DoT hits hard with slot divestitures
A transborder joint venture between SkyTeam partners Aeromexico and Delta is hanging in the balance now that the US DoT has required slot divestitures and other stipulations in order for the airlines to move forward with their proposed business agreement. Not surprisingly, Aeromexico and Delta believe limitations proposed by US regulators would diminish the economic benefits of the joint venture, and are warning they are reconsidering deepening their business ties.
Numerous airlines expressed concerns about Aeromexico and Delta’s concentration of slots at Mexico City Juarez, and the DoT responded by requiring slot divestitures at the airport along with the relinquishment of slots at New York JFK. The airlines have countered that the DoT’s analysis is flawed, and that a smaller number of slot divestitures at Juarez required by Mexico’s government should allay any concerns expressed by competitors. Aeromexico and Delta also argue another stipulation imposed by US regulators – limiting the joint venture to a five-year term – would create too much uncertainty for the viability of the business venture.
Delta’s plans to take its stake in Aeromexico up to 49% was contingent on the JV proposal succeeding. But with the stipulations imposed by DoT in order for the partners to establish their joint venture a dark cloud of uncertainty is hovering over Aeromexico’s future ownership structure.