Emirates announced plans to add a second daily frequency on services to Los Angeles and Houston from 31-Oct-2010 and 01-Nov-2010, respectively, with the carrier to shortly offer more than 15,000 seats and 98 services per week to the US (CoastWeek, 19-Sep-2010).
Emirates to offer 15,000 seats and 98 weekly services to US
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Qantas' first 787 routes, Perth-London nonstop and Melbourne-LA, address urgent strategic needs
Qantas' first regular 787 services are a year away, but the airline is already announcing the initial routes so it can increase its proposition in deeply significant markets (and also begin preparations while avoiding possible media leaks). The well-flagged Perth-London nonstop service was announced first, but the first route to be flown will be Melbourne-Los Angeles from 15-Dec-2017.
Perth-London nonstop is less about the actual market between Perth and London (it is small) and more about Qantas connecting the rest of Australia with a one-stop proposition via an Australian port with an experience that Qantas can intimately control. Even with Qantas' successful restructuring and cost base reduction, it will still need to command a yield premium.
Nonstop to London, an unprofitable market not expected to turn to black in the short term, is also about the prestige and marketing value of being the only airline to operate Australia-Europe nonstop. Melbourne-LA was likely a late change, prompted by US rejection of its proposed JV with American Airlines. The JV would have resulted in American entering the Melbourne-LA market; Qantas' 787 will instead provide the necessary boost in presence of a market that has become more competitive.
Lufthansa and Etihad bedfellows - at last - but unions may make marriage a distant prospect
There can be no understating the symbolic change in mindset of Lufthansa agreeing to partner with Etihad. Lufthansa has spent the better part of a decade rallying against Gulf airlines to the press, lobbying in Europe's power corridors and seeking a range of aeropolitical measures to wind back new competitors. Etihad has been the prime target for its investment and ongoing top-ups in a range of European airlines including Lufthansa's home competitor, the failing airberlin. Despite that, it is not well known that the two have come close to a liaison before, suggesting that each sees an intrinsic logic in a relationship.
The partnership has potential to be more significant than Emirates-Qantas, Qatar-IAG or Etihad-AF-KLM. But for now it is limited in scope and caution should be exercised in extrapolating too far at this stage.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is seeking new growth platforms that sidestep the flagship business' uncompromising unions who would seemingly prefer a status quo that exists only in memory. Their support will be necessary if the partnership is to work and grow. Then Lufthansa, which has rallied the Star Alliance and JV partners against Gulf airlines, will need to explain its change of heart. For now Lufthansa will not partner on Etihad's beyond-Abu Dhabi network, a move that would embrace the fundamental business plan of Etihad and peers. That upside remains a matter for speculation.