Welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning Monday 16 October 2017.
Air Berlin confirmed last week that it is to suspend operations from Saturday 28 October 2017. The airline has already suspended long-haul operations. Its frequent flyer programme TopBonus, which operated as a separate legal entity, had also closed. Flights operated by NIKI will continue. easyJet announced late on Friday afternoon that negotiations are still underway for it to acquire a substantial part of Air Berlin’s operation at Berlin Tegel airport. Lufthansa is due to acquire a substantial number of Air Berlin aircraft and its subsidiaries Niki and LG Walter. It is now something of a given that the Air Berlin brand will not survive. Oneworld has yet to announce when Air Berlin will leave the alliance. For legal reasons, it may not officially leave the alliance until some time after it has suspended operations (this was the case with former member Mexicana).
On the subject of defunct European airlines, The Financial Times has an extensive report on how Greybull Capital may still profit from the collapse of Monarch.
Brexit continues to dominate political debate in the UK. BALPA gave warning that talk of the UK crashing out of the European Union could result in the suspension of flights between the UK and mainland Europe. It took a similar statement by the Chancellor Phillip Hammond to put this on the front pages. The Daily Mail duly dismissed this as preposterous. The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling also appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme on Sunday morning to allay such fears. However, as the Institute Of Government points out it is in fact true.
Michael O’Leary has been doing battle with his pilots again. This time it was an unsuccessful attempt in court to force Channel 4 to disclose the sources for the documentary Dispatches: Secrets Of The Cockpit.
Norwegian was awarded Airline of the Year at the CAPA Aviation for Excellence Awards in London. Norwegian was hailed for taking the lead on low cost long-haul in Europe and opening new routes from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires and Singapore. Its third quarter results will be announced later this month, so it remains to be seen how its aggressive expansion translates on to the profit and loss account. There were also awards for Amsterdam, Dublin and Pittsburgh airports, IAG CEO Willie Walsh and Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa.
On a technology front, how the SkyTeam alliance is using personalisation to deliver a consistent experience across its 20 member airlines. And from Mobile Marketing Magazine how UK train operator Virgin Trains East Coast has borrowed from the airline industry to “surprise and delight” its passengers.
The Google Assistant app is now available for download in the UK. It’s certainly worth a go. From an initial play it can give live flight information but can struggle with some questions (like “Is The Heathrow Express running on time?”). SkyTeam member KLM already has a messenger bot on Messenger and we’re likely to see more developments in this area in the coming years. Users of Alexa can now check-in for United Airlines flights, for example.
BA announced its Top 18 destinations for 2018. By sheer coincidence BA flies to all of the featured destinations and a number are new BA routes which are due to launch next year, such as The Seychelles and Nashville.
Finally, two great articles from the New York Times on the Boeing 747. A Flight Down Memory Lane by BA pilot Mark Vanhoenacker and Early Days on the 747: Power Style And Size by Dan Saltzstein.
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