More evidence of capacity constraint among U.S. airlines appeared in a recent quarterly earnings report from one of the fastest-growing carriers in the country. Virgin America, which has seen annual available seat mile (ASM) growth average 28 percent for the past three years, has reconsidered its fleet expansion strategy and said it would move to cut the number of airplanes it plans to add over the rest of the decade.
Tough economic times are resulting in innovations by carriers in the Asia Pacific region looking beyond traditional business models through strategic realignments and new product offerings. Recent ground-breaking deals include Virgin Australia selling a 10-percent stake to Singapore Airlines (SIA) and buying 60 percent of Tiger Airways; the new partnership between Emirates Airline and Qantas; and Etihad Airways purchasing a 10-percent stake in Virgin Australia.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has agreed to place a $7.5 billion order with Airbus for another five A380s and 20 A350-900s, the carrier announced on Wednesday. Delivery schedules call for the first airplane to arrive in Singapore in 2017.
Emirates and Qantas took the wraps off a proposed global aviation partnership today that would result in the Australian flag carrier moving its hub for European flights from Singapore to Dubai starting next April.
As highly taxed fuel, mounting debt and aggressive ticket pricing stifle the fledgling airline industry in India, the government seems ready to renege on its promise to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country’s carriers. Current rules do not permit foreign airlines to invest in domestic carriers, although non-aviation-related investors can hold up to a 49-percent stake.
The Airbus A380 has had its share of problems both before and since deliveries began in late 2007. On the same day last week, Tuesday, two airlines suffered flight-terminating mechanical problems with the world’s largest passenger airliner.
It has been a year since the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) elected a new board and revamped its strategic approach to supporting business aviation development in the region. Jean-Noel Robert, Airbus’ executive and private aviation area sales director for Greater China, Japan and Korea, became chairman, while Embraer Executive Aircraft vice president for sales in China Lee Li and Bombardier Business Aircraft’s then Asia Pacific regional vice president for business aircraft David Dixon were appointed vice chairmen.
Southeast Asia, rather than the behemoth economies of China and India, provided the bulk of the sales impetus for the 2012 Singapore Airshow. More specifically, it was from Singapore’s neighbor Indonesia that the latest wave of airline fleet modernization came when Lion Air confirmed a massive order for 201 of Boeing’s new 737Max-9 narrowbodies, plus 29 of the existing 737-900ERs.
Whatever other problems Qantas may have had as an early operator of the Airbus A380, it appears to be benefitting from a new approach to the potentially vexed task of managing spare parts supply.
Boeing plans to start the fourth segment of its so-called 787 Dream Tour on March 1, as Dreamliner ZA003 visits the first of eight cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico before heading to the FIDAE Air Show in Santiago, Chile, in late March.