Skift Airline Weekly Lounge
Interview: Flybe CEO at IATA General Meeting

Interview: Flybe CEO at IATA General Meeting

August 16, 2019

Just before stepping down as CEO of British regional carrier Flybe, Christine Ourmieres-Widener took a minute to talk to Skift Airline Weekly at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul.

Ourmieres-Widener’s two years at the helm of Flybe were tumultuous, she acknowledged, and culminated with the carrier’s acquisition by Virgin Atlantic. But she noted that she focused on saving the airline and getting it back on its feet, even if that meant selling it. And she pointed out that her first priority was saving jobs, and of that Ourmieres-Widener said she’s very proud.

With Ourmieres-Widener’s departure, the already small circle of women airline CEOs gets even smaller. She said the industry has to do better to attract and mentor young women as they rise through the ranks. She also said efforts have to begin earlier — at school, to encourage girls to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.

Listen for the full interview with Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan

Interview: Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong

Interview: Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong

August 7, 2019

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said he envies American Airlines CEO Doug Parker for the scale and potential for profitability that U.S. carriers have from a large domestic market. Parker, the chief of the U.S.’s largest carrier, once famously said the era of airlines reporting losses is over.

In its most recent quarter, Singapore Airlines reported profit margins lower than analysts expected and lower than the company had previously reported. Much of this is explained by the region in which Singapore operates. Unlike Parker, Goh said his company has no domestic market to provide a valuable feed of passengers to its long-haul routes.

Speaking at the inaugural Skift Forum Asia in Singapore in May, Goh said he is confident that the company is headed in the right direction. The group is taking steps to keep so-called CASK (costs per airline seat kilometer) down by, among other measures, hedging against fuel price volatility and managing fleet leases.

Listen for the full interview with Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan.

Interview: United President Scott Kirby

Interview: United President Scott Kirby

July 12, 2019

United Airlines President Scott Kirby issued a warning to potential new-entrant low-cost-carriers, including JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s Moxie: United will match your fares.

Kirby, speaking on stage at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore in June, said he’s heard of about 50 airlines over the years that were supposed to be created but Virgin America, founded in 2004, was the last startup airline in the United States that actually became a reality.

The low-cost airline model is predicated on the competition not matching prices, Kirby said, and unlike the situation over the last 30 years, United now has the capabilities with segmentation, including basic economy, to go tit-for-tat with the new entrants.

Listen for the full interview with Skift Editor-in-Chief Tom Lowry. 

Interview: Air Asia Deputy CEO

Interview: Air Asia Deputy CEO

June 26, 2019

The latest edition of the Skift Airline Weekly Lounge contains an exclusive interview with Aireen Omar, AirAsia’s deputy CEO.

There was no backtracking from AirAsia in its plan to branch out into selling other airlines on its platform, financial services, and more experiences.

Asked at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore in May 2019 if becoming the Amazon of travel is overly ambitious, Aireen Omar, AirAsia’s deputy CEO, said it’s “ambitious, but I think it’s very doable.”

Another AirAsia executive recently made the declaration that the airline could become the “Amazon of travel.” In this discussion, interviewer and Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan gets to the core of the boast.

Interview: British Airways CEO Alex Cruz

Interview: British Airways CEO Alex Cruz

May 16, 2019

The Skift Airline Weekly Lounge returns with an exclusive interview with British Airways CEO Alex Cruz.

Since taking over as CEO and chairman of British Airways in 2016, Cruz has endured his fair share of criticism over some of the changes he made to the airline, particularly with regards to food on short-haul flights.

But Cruz, speaking at Skift Forum Europe in London on April 30, 2019, said the changes were necessary in turning the carrier into a more customer-focused airline as well as one that is much more financially stable.

“When we started this new phase of British Airways, there were many decisions to be taken with regards to the direction of the company, and some of those decisions that were made early on were indeed probably less welcome than others,” Cruz said.

 

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 112: Prediction Affliction

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 112: Prediction Affliction

January 9, 2019

With a new year underway, we’re thinking about what will happen in 2019—always a dicey proposition. In this episode, we consider the prospects of airlines around the world. Some, like Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines, are facing huge opportunities. Others, like Jet Airways and South African Airlines, are facing grave challenges. Will the International Airlines Group make another offer for Norwegian? Will Alitalia find a partner? Will Lion Air cancel plane orders? Will Emirates and Etihad merge? In short, what will 2019 bring? In this episode, we reluctantly offer some predictions.

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 111: Deal. No Deal. Deal?

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 111: Deal. No Deal. Deal?

December 12, 2018

After pummeling each other for years, Icelandair and Wow Air agreed to a truce in the form of a merger. But the merger fell through. Now Wow Air may be finding comfort with serial airline investor Indigo Partners. What will that mean for both airlines? Aeroflot apparently finds comfort in being big. In fact, the Russian airline is looking to nearly double its fleet size in just five years.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s airline industry nervously watches as it appears more and more likely that Mexico City’s one-third-built airport won’t be seen to fruition. What did Aegean do this summer? For one thing, it posted a Ryanair-like profit margin. Lastly, U.S. airlines are getting bullish about the fourth quarter.

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 110: A Mess in Mexico

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 110: A Mess in Mexico

November 21, 2018

More and more people are traveling by air in Mexico, but Mexico’s airlines continue to struggle. All four of its main carriers had a disappointing 3rd quarter, which is historically peak season. VivaAerobus at least made a little money. Aeroméxico and Volaris barely broke even. And, Interjet’s numbers were simply alarming.

Fortunately, oil prices have dropped so much that the outlook for airlines everywhere has changed. In the U.K., easyJet posted earnings that were strong but not nearly as good as LCC rivals Ryanair and Wizz Air. Is that a problem? LATAM is navigating economic headwinds well. AirAsia X seems to be proving that “low-cost longhaul” remains a difficult business model. Lastly, Flybe’s ongoing struggles raise this question for some: Is an acquisition in order?

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 109: Happy at Heathrow

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 109: Happy at Heathrow

November 13, 2018

Of Europe’s “Big Three” airline groups, International Airlines Group (IAG) continues to significantly outperform the other two, namely Air France/KLM and Lufthansa Group. A big part of IAG’s success is simply British Airways’ coveted slot portfolio at Heathrow. But it didn’t hurt that pretty much everything else is working too. Still, Lufthansa navigated a difficult quarter operationally to deliver a respectable 14% operating profit margin.

Air France/KLM, meanwhile, rode the seasonal strengths of its Transavia unit to a profit margin that outpaced Lufthansa’s by a fraction of a percent. Ryanair saw its Q3 profit margin drop by 7 points. But no matter—it still did better than every other European carrier reporting so far. Icelandair bought competitor WOW Air. Lastly, with Turkish Airlines looking fully mended, will it return to its fast-growth ways?

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 108: Is American Airlines OK?

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 108: Is American Airlines OK?

October 31, 2018

American Airlines truly set itself apart from its peers in the third quarter—and not in a good way. AA posted a dismal 7.5% operating profit margin, nearly half of Delta’s 13.9% margin. But, with good reason, management remains optimistic. United, on the other hand, has plenty to smile about right now as it offset 100% of its rising fuel costs with rising revenues.

Southwest didn’t have trouble with fuel thanks to hedges, but non-fuel costs posed a headwind. Hawaiian Airlines posted the best Q3 margin of the major U.S. carriers. But Spirit might be the biggest winner of all, vaulting itself from the middle of the pack last year to nearly the front. JetBlue and Allegiant again stumbled. And although Alaska didn’t have a great result, there are plenty of reasons it should soon rejoin the leading carriers in the U.S.