September 27, 2016
South African Airways finally published its fiscal year results for the 12 months ending March 2015. Yes, that’s 2015. And the result—a $442m net loss—wasn’t worth the wait. But with the Ebola scare and high oil prices now in the past, how is the airline doing today? The short answer: We’re not too encouraged. But its competitor Comair is doing pretty well.
Kenya Airways seems to be on the mend. Unfortunately, Fastjet is skidding. Meanwhile in Asia, Singapore Airlines reported some ominous load factors and Cathay Pacific continues to endure severe revenue erosion. Not nearly as severe, but still surprisingly bad, is the revenue situation in the transatlantic market, where that cash cow is now wobbling. And in the U.S., two very successful carriers, Spirit and Frontier, face a surprisingly long list of challenges.
September 20, 2016
Because Frontier Airlines is a non-publicly-traded carrier (which, for one thing, means it doesn’t have earnings calls), it’s all the more interesting to interview the airline's CEO Barry Biffle. Of course, we asked about a possible merger with Spirit or a possible IPO. Not surprisingly, we didn’t get too far there, but Biffle did open up on some interesting topics, such as Frontier’s successful second quarter, unit revenue pressures and what it takes to grow capacity 20% per year. We talked fleet plans, engines, operations, network philosophy, the labor situation and Frontier's soon-to-arrive Havana service.
Also, is there enough elbow room in the U.S. for three growing ULCCs–Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant? And how big of a threat do legacy carriers pose as they segment their seats to offer no-frills tickets at a no-frills price? No stone was left unturned. Come with us and explore Frontier!
September 13, 2016
Despite a major oil bust and the weakening currency that followed, Canada’s airlines continue to plod along. Make no mistake, macro issues are leaving a mark on the earnings reports of Air Canada and WestJet, but the story is more about resiliency than infirmity.
Meanwhile, a similar story—one that also includes an oil bust, a weak currency and nonetheless profitable airlines—is playing out in Mexico, where its four airlines of size (Aeroméxico, Volaris, Interjet and VivaAerobus) posted mixed results. We finish with three other stories of survival. Avianca is surviving exposure to the Brazilian and Venezuelan economies. Aeroflot is surviving its country’s own oil and currency bust. And Israel’s El Al is surviving competitive threats from Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot and Hainan Airlines.
September 6, 2016
Qantas reported a best-ever annual result. Not bad for a company that’s 95 years old. And not bad for a company that was barely breaking even just a few years ago. Virgin Australia, on the other hand, with a 2% operating margin, isn’t breaking any records—well, any records you’d want to break, that is.
And then across the Tasman Sea is Air New Zealand… way out there… all alone… with nothing to keep it company except a whopping 15% operating margin. From there, things take a bad turn as we check in on a number of troubled carriers in the world. Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, Gol and Nok Air all had tales of woe in the second quarter (although Gol’s tale of woe at least was a lot better than it was a year ago). Finnair is also doing better, but how good is that? And lastly, will Scott Kirby’s arrival at United give the airline enough star power to finally deliver on its vaunted potential?