Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 April 2019.
There is a book to be written about Etihad’s string of disastrous minority investments in airlines.
In near repeat of Swissair’s Qualiflyer alliance, almost every one has been an unmitigated failure: Air Berlin; Alitalia. And of course Jet Airways. It’s not as if there were no warning signs. Alitalia had been through numerous recapitalisations. Many European airlines that could have bought Air Berlin outright had declined to do so.
Jet Airways has long been insolvent and by any standard should have ceased trading some time ago, let alone continue to take forward bookings which after a brief pause over the weekend it is now continuing to do. Over the weekend, hundreds of Jet Airways employees have protested outside New Delhi and Mumbai airports against unpaid salaries – a reminder of the significant human cost of the airline’s troubles.
The one sensible thing Etihad did was take ownership Alitalia and Jet Airways’ Heathrow slots. Jet Airways’ three daily Heathrow slot pairs are to be returned to Etihad and its intentions should become clear in the next couple of weeks.
Virgin Atlantic wants to be loved
Virgin Atlantic launched its latest Upper Class cabin with typical fanfare last week.
There was less positive news when the airline revealed another financial loss. Worse still, the airline does not expect to return to profitability until 2021.
Virgin Atlantic’s ambition is now to be “the world’s most loved travel company”. It has a new three year business plan “Velocity” which runs until 2021. Green joins purple and red in its colour scheme to signify its commitment to sustainability. Virgin is also promising much greater integration between Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays.
As well as taking delivery of four Airbus A350-1000 aircraft this year, it will reduce the number of Airbus A340 aircraft from 7 to 3 this year. The remaining 3 have been taken under the airline’s ownership.
The Connect Airways consortium expects to secure regulatory approval for its purchase of Flybe in the third quarter of this year. It is at this point the consortium can exercise financial and operational control over Flybe. In the interim, the consortium has provided Flybe with £135m of funding to maintain the airline’s operations.
In case you missed it:
JetBlue publicly states its ambition to fly from London from 2021. (London Air Travel)
Also of note this week:
Qantas’ CEO of Qantas International Alison Webster abruptly departs the airline. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Qantas looks at the work of its in-house meteorologists. (Qantas)
UK domestic flights fall 20% in a decade. (Financial Times)