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TAP Portugal transforms under new owners to tap potential; at forefront of narrowbody long haul
A period of restructuring following investment by new shareholders in TAP Portugal in Nov-2015 has led to a resurgent airline. It returned to profit in 2016 after two years of losses and enjoyed a surge in passenger numbers in 4Q2016.
The investment by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium, which HNA Group will formally join in 1H2017, provided funds for fleet expansion. TAP's orders include A321neoLR aircraft, giving it the potential to open new long haul routes not possible with widebodies.
TAP's VP finance, Teresa Lopes, told the CAPA Fleet & Finance Summit on 2-Mar-2017 that the A321neoLR would be deployed on the Atlantic, putting the airline at the forefront of narrowbody long haul operations. TAP's new shareholders have also enabled new partnerships with Brazil's Azul, JetBlue of the US and China's Hainan Airlines. The TAP-Azul relationship has already progressed beyond codeshare and the Hainan relationship offers much potential.
In the past year TAP has also reorganised its regional operation, launched a new fare structure and embarked on a seat densification programme to lower unit cost and drive revenue. As Ms Lopes said, "We are certainly going through a transformation, we don’t want to be envisioned as a legacy carrier anymore".
SunExpress: "Lufthansa's biggest strategic project"
The Turkish leisure airline SunExpress and its German subsidiary SunExpress Germany have historically had a fairly low profile, certainly among European air travellers. Nevertheless, their combined total of 7.9 million passengers puts SunExpress in the top 20 European airline groups in 2016, ahead of Brussels Airlines.
Jointly owned by Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, SunExpress and its German counterpart brought about a consolidated result that fell into loss in 2016 as passenger numbers and revenue both declined. When the observer scratches beneath the surface of the headline figures, a picture of significant strategic change at SunExpress Germany starts to emerge.
The larger Turkish SunExpress has maintained its focus on Turkey-Germany routes, whereas SunExpress Germany has abandoned this country pair. It has instead developed leisure routes from Germany to elsewhere in Europe and in North Africa, in spite of not having an obvious competitive advantage in those markets. Within these new market areas, SunExpress Germany has undergone substantial changes in its route portfolio. Lufthansa wetleases capacity from SunExpress Germany for its Eurowings low cost operation and this may help to make some sense of these outwardly random network changes.