Monday Briefing – 3 December 2018

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WestJet's Christmas Miracle
WestJet’s Christmas Miracle (Image Credit: WestJet)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 3 December 2018.

‘Tis The Season….

The release of an annual Christmas film from the world’s major airlines, and indeed some airports, is now a firm fixture in the travel calendar.

The pioneer of this was WestJet with its annual WestJet Christmas Miracle. And not to be outdone it has now published what it promises will be the first of no less than 25 videos to be released every day up to Christmas Day.

You can keep up with all films with WestJet. In terms of other airlines, expect a flight to Lapland soon from SWISS and possibly a New York themed film from BA.

Joon Jettisoned?

Le Figaro reported this week that Air France-KLM’s CEO Benjamin Smith is poised to take the axe its nascent “millennial” brand Joon.

There is some credence to this. Benjamin Smith is on the record that he thinks Air France-KLM has too many brands, which include Hop! and Transavia, and should be more focused on Air France and KLM.

Most commentators in the industry do not understand what Air France is trying to achieve with Joon. And if they don’t, it’s unlikely passengers do.

Ostensibly, Joon is aimed at millennials with cabin crew in casual attire and white trainers serving their passengers smoothies. It is progressively taking over some short and long-haul routes from Air France.

Leaving aside the baselessness of the entire concept of millennials, it’s hard to understand what it is about Manchester or Madrid that merits them to be served by Joon, and for Lisbon and Milan to be served by Air France.

One of the more bizarre aspects is the claim to be “Also An Airline”. There’s little point in an airline pretending to be a lifestyle brand when there are others that can do that much better.

What is really happening is Air France employing cabin crew on different contracts, whilst the aircraft remain with Air France and are operated with Air France pilots. “Twin brand” strategies are of course nothing new. Qantas has used it very successfully with Jetstar. As does Air Canada with Air Canada Rouge. However, there’s always been a very clear delineation between brands and it’s no panacea for avoiding structural reform in the parent.

With Air France due to dispose of some Airbus A380s, Benjamin Smith is clearly not afraid to overturn decisions of his predecessors. This is of course subject to political influence from the French state which owns 23% of the voting rights in the group.

BA Trade Unions Make Joint Pay Claim

Three trade unions representing BA staff, BALPA, GMB and Unite, issued a statement on Friday confirming they have submitted a joint pay claim to the airline as part of forthcoming pay negotiations.

This has been picked up by a number of outlets. It’s not unusual for BA trade unions to make a very firm and public announcement at the start of negotiations with the airline. Both sides are very familiar with the mechanics of trade union negotiations. Whilst it is true that BA has had its share of industrial action over the years, it often doesn’t get credit for how much substantial change gets agreed behind closed doors. Talk of possible industrial action at this stage is very premature.

BA Centenary Logo
BA Centenary Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

On the subject of BA, get used to the above logo.

You will be seeing it a lot over the next 12 months. Based around BA’s speedmarque, this appears to be the logo of its centenary.

WOW air

Late on Thursday evening, WOW air announced it announced it had reached an agreement in principle for Indigo Partners to make an investment in the airline.

The private equity firm also has investments in Frontier Airlines and Wizz Air, Details were very sketchy. This made sense when, late on Friday evening, WOW air released its results for the 9 months to 30 September, and confirmed that without a capital injection it could not continue to trade as a going concern. If a transaction with Indigo Partners does go through, it is inevitable that it will be very much in control of the business.

In case you missed it:

Norwegian launches London Gatwick – Rio de Janeiro (London Air Travel)

Norwegian launches London Gatwick – Miami / San Francisco (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Finnair looks at the evolving role of cabin crew over its 95 year history. (Finnair)

Stanfords Travel opens a dedicated Christmas boutique shop on 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden. (Stanfords)

The challenges facing Thomas Cook after it issued a profit warning. (Financial Times)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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