Our coverage of European legacy airlines opens with a review of operations in 2017, and it looks like we picked a decent year to get cracking. As this is the first legacy airline review (keen readers will note that we’ve been covering European LCCs on a quarterly basis for a while now), first up here are a few items of housekeeping before we properly get started.
A few more years like this year and this annual summary is going to get pretty repetitive. A couple of airlines went bust, the legacy carrier LCCs made a better effort to compete, and Ryanair added a load more growth and remained by far the most profitable LCC in Europe. Thank you, goodnight.
The term ‘game changer’ has become a marketing buzzword of our time and is thrown around so often on corporate literature that it has become so diluted it is often ignored. Take the aviation industry, for example, where technological advances can actually truly deliver a step change in result. The term has been used to describe both the Boeing 787 and Bombardier CSeries, but neither has yet truly delivered on their potential.
The commitment last month from Emirates Airline to acquire an additional 36 A380s would have been welcomed with some relief at the Airbus facilities across the world and once confirmed will safeguard the aircraft programme for another half a decade. Maybe the manufacturers comments about closing production influenced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, the dominant operator of the type, to firm up its intent, maybe Airbus moved the pricing point in an aircraft programme where every jet of the line is allegedly eating into their own profits.
Well, perhaps not if you’re airberlin, but most of our airline group benefitted from a good summer. Mind you, they needed to, such was the relatively slow start to the year for most of them. The problems at airberlin and Alitalia will have helped both yields and passenger numbers during the quarter, while Ryanair’s much publicised pilot shortages and cancellations are to impact their operations in Q4, not Q3. Even fuel prices largely behaved themselves during the summer months. So the scene was set for a much needed recovery in the performance of our airline group; let’s see if the numbers bear this out.