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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".
Mexico’s two largest airlines, Aeromexico and Volaris, are bracing for uncertainty, created by the new US President Donald Trump through his immigration actions and protectionist slant toward trade policies. Each airline has specific tools to combat the effects of political change – Volaris is diversifying its network through a new operation based in Costa Rica, and Aeromexico is betting its new joint venture with Delta Air Lines will blunt some of the negative effects of US policies.
But the reality is that the US remains the largest international market for each airline by wide margins.
A post election currency dive and revised GDP growth targets for Mexico are challenges that all Mexican airlines face in 2017. For now, Aeromexico and Volaris appear to be experiencing a softness in demand on northern leisure routes from Mexico, but that could quickly spread to other market segments important to each company.
Much untapped potential demand remains in Mexican air travel. But a new political landscape in the US may force some Mexican airlines to reshape their strategies if Mr Trump’s rhetoric transforms into actual policies.
Southwest Airlines remains committed to capping its capacity growth at 3.5% in 2017, of which 2.5% is pegged for the US domestic market. At the end of 2016 the company said that US domestic seats were outpacing the country’s GDP growth, and Southwest has often cited capacity pressure in many of its markets.
The large US airlines, including Southwest, seem to be keeping their domestic growth in check during 2017 as they work to achieve and sustain a positive unit revenue performance. Southwest expects sequential improvement in 1Q2017, and believes two year declines have now bottomed out – a conclusion drawn by most of its US airline counterparts.
Similarly to most US airlines, Southwest is facing cost pressure in 2017 stemming from recent collective bargaining agreement it has reached with large labour groups. The challenge for Southwest and the rest of its competitors is achieving a unit revenue performance that offsets cost inflation.
Global commercial aircraft deliveries fell in 2016 as Boeing again outsold Airbus; 2017 to be a peak
The global commercial aircraft fleet grew by 4% in 2016 and the year ended with an order backlog of more than nine years of production. Among the regions, North America still has the biggest and oldest fleet, but the lowest ratio of orders to aircraft in service. By contrast, Middle East has the fewest in service, but the highest ratio of orders to current fleet numbers.
This report gives an overview of the number of commercial aircraft deliveries in 2016 and the outlook into 2017 and beyond. It also looks at numbers in service and on order by region. It is based on preliminary numbers from the CAPA Fleet Database and guidance on 2016 deliveries from Airbus and Boeing, who have yet to announce final numbers.
The data indicate that total worldwide deliveries fell in 2016, the first such decline for six years, as a result of delays to new aircraft programmes. Boeing delivered more aircraft than Airbus for the fifth straight year, but its deliveries fell short of its 2015 level, while Airbus increased its numbers year-on-year. Total deliveries will likely rise again in 2017, but this may prove to be a peak year.
Southwest Airlines:domestic changes, continued international expansion, as overall 2017 growth slows
Southwest Airlines plans lower system capacity growth in 2017. The company joins other US airlines working feverishly to return to positive unit revenue as oil prices and labour costs are forecast to rise for most of the country’s airlines.
Even as Southwest’s capacity increases are projected to fall year-on-year in 2017 the airline is broadening its international reach with the debut of new flights from Fort Lauderdale, and is making moves in its domestic network.
This includes its decision to launch service from Cincinnati, a market that has attracted significant low cost service during the past two to three years as its hub status for Delta has diminished. Southwest’s service entry at Cincinnati comes at the cost of flights from Akron and Dayton, which is not surprising, given Cincinnati’s potential to garner higher revenue.
Although Southwest cited some positive trends at the end of 2016, it struck a cautious tone about the operating environment in the US, noting that while yields were improving, the revenue environment remains challenging. US airlines, including Southwest, are being closely watched after declaring they will return to positive unit revenue in 1H2017.
The summer 2016 season came to an end on 29-Oct-2016. Adjusting for an extra week relative to the previous summer, it produced seat growth of 6% for capacity to/from/within Europe, matching the rate of growth in summer 2015, but higher than the 10-year average rate of 4% and higher than any other summer since 2010.
Current indications from data filed with OAG are that Europe will also experience accelerating capacity growth in the winter 2016/2017 season, which runs from 30-Oct-2016 to 25-Mar-2017. Adjusting for the season being shorter by one week relative to last winter, total seat growth in Europe is set to reach 7%, compared with 6% growth in winter 2015/2016 (and 6% growth in summer 2016). This is higher than the 10-year average rate for winter of 3% and the highest winter growth since 2007/2008.
On routes to all but one region from Europe, seat growth this winter will both be faster than last winter and higher than its 10-year average. The one exception is Europe to Middle East, the fastest-growing region, where capacity growth will remain at 10%. This report presents analysis of this winter's seat growth for Europe by region and by airline group.