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Global Fleet Outlook: Deliveries peak, as order highs decline.
Airlines are set to add more new aircraft than ever before in 2017. After years of record ordering and building backlogs, aircraft manufacturers are making good on their promises to ramp up production. The industry is enjoying record levels of growth and profitability; with solid passenger market fundamentals, and both airlines and leasing companies having access to ready liquidity, cheap debt and plentiful equity capital, making financing fleet orders easier than at any time before the global financial crisis.
Alaska Air Group ups merger synergy targets as the margins for 2017 compress
Alaska Air Group has revised projected synergies from its merger with Virgin America upwards in both costs and revenue as it leverages the power of a larger network with a broader footprint in California, and uses the combined fleet to maximise profitability on transcontinental routes by placing higher gauge aircraft in those markets.
The existing Airbus narrowbodies operated by Virgin America will remain in the combined airline’s fleet for the foreseeable future. As a result, those aircraft are being reconfigured to offer standard interiors, including Alaska’s first class seat.
Similarly to Virgin America prior to the merger, Alaska has decided that a lie flat seat offering does not fit into its strategy in the contested US transcontinental market. In fact, choosing not to develop a lie flat product could put Alaska in a more favourable position when an (inevitable) economic down cycle occurs.
Despite the more favourable synergy estimates, Alaska will face some margin pressure due to Virgin America’s overall lower margin business. However, even though its margins are likely to drop in 2017, Alaska is stressing that its pretax margin performance will best the industry average.