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Based at Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines is the national carrier of Singapore. Using a fleet of wide-body Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including the A380 of which Singapore Airlines was the launch customer, Singapore Airlines operates an extensive network across Asia, North America, Australasia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Singapore Airlines joined the Star Alliance on 01-Apr-2000.
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427 total articles
Singapore Airlines (SIA) medium long haul LCC subsidiary Scoot faces a potentially challenging 2017 as it launches flights to Europe and merges with the short haul LCC Tigerair. Scoot is also planning a series of network and schedule adjustments, which are critical to the future success of the European routes and long-term profitability.
Scoot has been successful in the initial four and a half years since its mid-2012 launch, becoming profitable in a relatively quick timeframe and unlocking a new phase of growth for the SIA Group. However, 2017 will bring intense competition and ambitious expansion in markets that are not likely to be profitable in the short to medium term.
Scoot’s newfound profitability could be at risk due to yield pressures, higher fuel costs and expenses related to new long haul route launches. Scoot and its ongoing integration with Tigerair are necessary strategically, and should improve the SIA Group’s long-term position, but the short-term outlook is relatively cloudy.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) faces challenging market conditions in 2017 as fierce competition and overcapacity continue to pressure yields. The parent airline’s capacity, which is now below 2008 levels, will again be relatively flat.
SIA has responded to structural changes in the industry by growing its budget airline subsidiaries while reinforcing the premium position of its parent airline through a series of investments. In 2017 these investments will continue as premium economy is incorporated on more aircraft and new long haul business and first products are introduced.
SIA’s position in the long haul market has been significantly impacted by ambitious expansion and aggressive pricing from Gulf and North Asian airlines. The short-term outlook is relatively bleak, with further yield declines impacting profitability.
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.
China has agreed to liberalise passenger flights and remove capacity restrictions with Australia, its largest outbound long haul market after the United States. This is a relief to Chinese airlines, which face bilateral constraints in North America and Europe. The result is already evident as Chinese airlines deploy more capacity and larger aircraft to Australia.
In North American and European markets the local governments hold back on traffic right expansion (let alone open skies). But for Australia it was the Australian government, which signalled some years ago that it wanted to liberalise once China was ready – a time that has now come.
Australia's view was progressive and detached from bygone days of national carrier interest; Chinese airlines hold 90% of the market to Australia. Elsewhere many governments still hold back on Chinese traffic right expansion so their local airlines can continue to grow. There are 15 Chinese airports that have nonstop flights to Australia with a total of 27 airport pairs – figures that should expand in 2017 as the market evolves further with the Virgin Australia-HNA partnership.
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.
Asia-Europe, which is one of IATA's big four international markets, has become the slowest-growing. The market underwent RPK expansion of only 1.5% in Jul-2016, the latest data available. Uncertainty in Europe and terrorism fears mean that some Asian travellers choose Australia and North America or, as IATA has flagged – travel within Asia, which has expanded by nearly double digits.
Although market expansion was slow in the first part of 2016, so too was capacity. Yet this changed in Jul-2016 as capacity increased more quickly, perhaps as airlines expected a stronger summer. Despite slow passenger growth, dynamics are highly varied – except for yield declines. The combined RPK growth of IAG (7.2%) Cathay Pacific (3.7%) and Finnair (8.7%) was not enough to offset the contraction of the largest airline in the market, AF-KLM (7.9%).
From the reported geographic data by all major airlines, load factors are falling.