Ups, downs and ins and outs – Airline news all week shows hopes and fears

There’s been no outstanding moment this week so let’s look at the week as a whole.

Last week Norwegian pulled its much vaunted routes on its new 738Max’s from Edinburgh and Belfast to Boston. Lack of business they said.

This week Delta announced a daily flight from Boston to Edinburgh starting in March next year. What do they know that’s different?

WOW air quietly killed off its much vaunted low cost services to America’s Mid-West – because of lack of customers. The underlying comment was they won’t ever think of going back.

Norwegian started its domestic operations in Argentina – there weren’t exactly crowds of people waiting to check in or fly. Maybe that will change because it’s a very new market for low cost concepts. And maybe once again, they misjudged what that market really is.

Sadly, Cobalt of Cyprus fell victims to what seems to be a European scourge – it’s just too small to hit critical mass. They closed their doors and won’t be back.

Trump’s trade war with China that sees US buyers paying high tariffs (ie tax) on goods imported from China seems to be having little effect on China’s economy that wasn’t already of its own making. However Xiamen and other airlines have been quietly re-evaluating their order books.

Airlines may operate as individual businesses in China much as they do anywhere else, but if the Chinese government suggests a change of direction, it’s wise to follow that hint.

Boeing has been assiduously obsequious with the Trump administration and the Chinese have noticed. So far there are no tariffs on imported aircraft. And there probably won’t be.

What the Chinese have done is suggest that rather than Boeing, look at Airbus for alternatives. And low and behold Xiamen Airlines, a wholly Boeing supplied airline – is on the cusp of ordering A321neoLR’s having suddenly lost interest in MAX 9.

Expect more of the same – China plays a long game.

In Europe on of the most tedious labour disputes of the century, between AirFrance and its unions got so bad it saw the CEO and chairman literally having their clothing torn from their backs as they ran from a mob in late 2016.

That chairman Alexandre de Juniac had enough and resigned, his successor bet his job on resolving the strikes and lost – and resigned.

A new Canadian CEO, Bill Smith who came in to the shock of French Pride (is there nobody in France qualified to run Air France? was the ongoing question), has solved the problem.

AF-KLM will get 2% pay rises backdated to Jan 1 2018, 2% on January 1st 2019 and agreed dates to resolve 2020 starting in October 2019. All the unions agreed and it’s going into immediate effect. The disputes have been going on for five years and cost the company well over €2 billion in lost revenue, never mind reputation.

Singapore Airlines began its super long flight of 19 hours to New York to much fanfare, but it’s simply another ULR route and more are coming. Qantas is utterly committed to the non- stop London service from Sydney. 22 hours to be launched on something – Airbus or Boeing – in 2022. Expect it to be launched on the 22nd of a month at 2200 hours.

Meanwhile owning family scandal-riddled Korean Air seems to have turned a corner. It announced a new staff training approach and that it would also be renewing its fast ageing fleet.

Boeing and Airbus stand to make a killing as there are a lot of aircraft that need to be replaced.

Once again don’t underestimate how much the behaviour of Trump affects how this goes. The South Koreans are waving a flag that they want to buy. It’s another lever in the complex and bizarre negotiations with the North. Boeing and it’s military arm are big suppliers and they have Trump’s ear, they’ll want these orders, it’s another way for S.Korea to exert some influence on what happens next.

RyanAir, always known for its poor treatment if staff has finally reached the end of a long series of negotiations with a plethora of national pilot and crew unions.

Portuguese and British Unions have settled on base reallocations, pay and conditions agreements that should see an end to the strikes in Europe. Ryan Air have had to learn the hard way that there is only so far you can push people before they’ll revolt and there treatment of staff. Recently highlighted again by a controversial photo of pilots and cabin crew sleeping on the floor of a Portuguese airport that appeared a little staged – just added grist to the rumour mill.

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