Monday Briefing – 6 August 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

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IAG & Norwegian
IAG & Norwegian

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 6 August 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

Has IAG really given up on Norwegian?

IAG released its half-year results last week. As did Air France-KLM and Lufthansa.

Much of the press picked up on comments by IAG CEO Willie Walsh that it planned to sell its shares in Norwegian if talks don’t move forward, which they have yet to do. Does this really mean IAG has given up on Norwegian?

Don’t bet on it. Whilst IAG is unlikely to make a hostile take-over bid for Norwegian, it can be said with confidence that it has been studying for Norwegian for quite some time. Regardless of what happens with its shareholding, I would suspect IAG will sit this one out.

Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic

Air France-KLM Virgin Atlantic joint-venture (Image Credit: Air France-KLM)

Two weeks ago, we reported on proposals for Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic to operate a combined transatlantic joint-venture with Delta.

Air France-KLM has confirmed that the planned launch date is 1 April 2019. Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic are to also explore co-operation on non-North Atlantic routes. This is a logical progression of Air France-KLM soon becoming a shareholder in the airline. It would help Virgin Atlantic compensate for its lack of non-North American routes. Assuming it goes ahead, together with reciprocal frequent flyer recognition, this would help Virgin and Air France-KLM become a much stronger competitor in the UK market, particularly in UK regional airports.

The “Soft Power” Of National Airline Brands

National identity has long played a strong role in aviation in branding.

Although very few airlines are now owned by Governments, a combination of ownership laws, bilateral route authorities and simple dominance of slots mean many act as de-facto national airlines.

Many have actively played on this. More than 20 years ago, Qantas started a TV advertising campaign to unite Australians around the world under theme of “I Still Call Australia Home”.

There have also been consequences for airlines seen to be betraying their national identity. BA was widely criticised, in what was probably the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned branding exercises of all time, for its “World Images” Tailfins.

Airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates have helped promote their home territories as major trading hubs. Although legacy airlines in Europe have largely consolidated into three airline groups, all have been at pains to preserve their national brands.

Monocle magazine and its sister agency Winkreative have long produced airline branding and liveries, both real and imagined.

The magazine conjured up “Nippon Nordic Air” which, in its words, would be: “Operating from bases in Sapporo, Stockholm and Winnipeg, Nippon Nordic combines the flying skills of Canada’s best pilots, the design ingenuity of Sweden and Japan’s best designers and engineers and the gracious service of a Kyoto ryokan.” Alas, no investor has taken up the opportunity to launch such an airline. However, Winkreative did produce a new livery for Air Canada and has also worked for BA, Porter Airlines and Swiss.

Monocle 24’s “The Foreign Desk”, with contributions from Winkreative, takes a look at the “soft power” of national airline brands.

Also of note this week:

Jet Airways which flies from London Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai was warned staff it needs to undertake drastic cost-cutting measures. (Reuters)

Norwegian will use its Boeing 737 Max on selected short-haul routes at Gatwick. (Norwegian)

Photographer Laurence Stephens captures, Martin Parr style, bored tourists abroad. (The Guardian) (Hoxton Mini Press)

Vienna becomes a magnet for low cost airlines. (Financial Times)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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