See below the list of current and pending members of the Alliances.
401 total articles
Panama’s Copa Airlines is planning markedly increased capacity year-on-year in 2017 as demand patterns in Latin America continue to build on strength that began to emerge in 2H2016. That followed two years of economic contraction in the region. Most of Copa’s growth in 2017 stems from higher utilisation, given that its fleet is expanding by just a single aircraft during the year. The airline also plans to add back, in the lower season, the capacity that it cut in 2016 to adjust to Latin America’s weakened supply demand scenario.
Copa’s outlook is based on its determination that demand is holding steady in Latin America, and it is joining other airlines in the region in expanding capacity as a slow economic recovery begins to take effect. Its approach, that there is strengthening demand, stretches broadly across its network, even in Brazil, whose deep economic recession drove Latin America’s overall two year long economic contraction.
Copa has no concerns about its fellow Star Alliance partners Avianca and United potentially deepening their partnership through a proposed equity stake by United in Avianca. Although Copa has not publicly confirmed that it courted Avianca during its evaluation process for a strategic partner, the airline now believes United is the best partner for Avianca.
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".
In 2016 Finnair accelerated its rate of capacity growth after a modest return to expansion in 2015, following cuts in 2014. It also experienced a fall in unit revenue (as did most European airlines), most notably in the regions of highest capacity growth, i.e. the long haul markets North America and Asia.
Asia is Finnair's most important long haul market (Japan and China are its two biggest markets by ASKs) and its ranking by seats on routes between European and NE/SE Asia is disproportionate. It has ambitious growth plans in the region and will increase frequencies to Tokyo and Hong Kong this summer. Its long haul network, which will also extend to San Francisco this summer and Goa next winter, is largely founded on connecting traffic via its Helsinki hub.
Finnair's return to capacity growth has coincided with a return to profit, but lower fuel prices were the main driver of its bottom line improvement. Its profit margins remain slim and, beyond the vagaries of fuel price benefits, Finnair aims for more sustainable unit cost cuts. Fleet strategy and labour productivity form a two pronged attack on its cost base.
Avianca Holdings and United have taken a strategic step to bolster their respective competitiveness in the Latin American and US markets, by working to deepen their partnership. United is the only US airline without a prospective joint venture partner in the region, and Avianca needs an anchor partner such as United to broaden its network coverage in North America.
The scope that Avianca and United’s deepened partnership will encompass remains unknown. Since mid 2016 Avianca has been searching for a strategic investor, and reportedly drew interest from Delta Air Lines and Copa Holdings before settling on United.
At the same time Avianca outlined plans to develop a strategic partnership with United, Avianca’s majority shareholder Synergy pledged to invest USD200 million into the company, which could signal that Synergy remains committed to having sizeable influence over Avianca.
Synergy also plans to obtain necessary regulatory approvals to fold Avianca Brasil into Avianca Holdings. Synergy is the major shareholder of both airlines, but the companies have been run separately for years. The timing is curious, since United also has a minority stake in the Brazilian airline Azul. Synergy’s moves raise questions about United and Azul’s future partnership, as well as the level of ownership United could take in Avianca Holdings.
The most important regulatory development in Chinese aviation in 2016 – and possibly one of the top for the decade – was awarding China Eastern Airlines home carrier status for Beijing's second airport, Beijing Daxing, due to open in 2019. There are usually few surprises in Chinese aviation: if word does not leak out, it is softly dripped. But few expected that China would award China Eastern in this way. China Eastern is due to become the only Chinese airline with dual home hubs in Beijing and Shanghai, granting a remarkable advantage.
Rather than allow airlines to operate from both airports, Air China and its Star Alliance partners will remain at their existing Beijing Capital hub and benefit from significant slot growth. China Eastern, China Southern (which was also named base carrier at Daxing) and SkyTeam partners will gradually move to the new Beijing Daxing.
Yet this move, expected to be backed by added traffic rights, risks the two airports competing with each other rather than singularly growing the Beijing hub, which has better geography as a connecting point for Europe and North America. China Eastern may indirectly receive a second victory: fragmenting Beijing adds relative strength to China Eastern's hub at Shanghai, where it is the only intercontinental home airline. China can make sweeping policy changes, but until then China Eastern's advantage is undeniable.
Pragmatism is forcing the Lufthansa Group to compromise its legacy outlook and adapt its rhetoric as it cautiously welcomes into its nucleus the Etihad Aviation Group. Lufthansa and Etihad’s 01-Feb-2017 USD200 million catering and engineering deal may seem underwhelming, but it brings Etihad into other areas of Lufthansa Group’s business – and management. After being so flagrantly opposed to Gulf airlines, Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr recognises he needs to change internal mindsets while not advancing faster than ultraconservative unions will allow. Mr Spohr also says there is potential for a JV with Etihad.
As with recent Etihad cooperation – addressing ailing airberlin, and a new simple codeshare – the benefits of the latest deals are tilted towards Lufthansa. Lufthansa has yet to bring Etihad into its core to help address its fundamental cost and network problem – as it surely must do. Such a deal would leverage Etihad’s fundamental business of a hub in Abu Dhabi.