A couple of years ago I posted a video from Vimeo by Andy Rüesch showing some of his excellent work covering movements in Geneva. Well, he’s still at it and the results are better than ever. I implore you to spend ~12 minutes of your day watching his newest video – it’s well worth the time. If you can, I would encourage you to contribute a donation towards his work through his website: rueschproductions.com
The folks at GE have put together a simple but interesting visualization that demonstrates the savings potential hidden in optimized descents rather than conventional stepped descents. It shows the would-be savings in fuel and time for approaches into Stockholm, Frankfurt, and Seattle. It is available here.
Once keen to connect the four corners of the earth via Doha on its own metal, Qatar Airways has changed its position and now looks set to join one of the three global airline alliances. This is a huge development that will fundamentally change Qatar Airways forever and make things more than a little uncomfortable for Emirates, Etihad and some of the major carriers in the alliances they don’t join.
A cursory glance would suggest that the alliance of choice should be the Star Alliance. After all Qatar Airways has engaged in codeshares with six of their carriers at one time or another – ANA, United, US Airways, Asiana, BMI, and Lufthansa. The thing is, these (and other) codeshares made sense to an unaligned Qatar Airways, but likely won’t for the next chapter. Entering into an alliance would allow wholesale changes to replace the feed and reach of those currently in place. These changes won’t be cost or pain free, but I think it’s well documented that Qatar Airways is not short of either money or determination. If we eliminate code shares as an indicator there is little else to suggest that Star would be the best fit.
The following three corridors lead me to believe that One World, not Star or SkyTeam offers the best fit.
Australia to Europe
While there are a vast number of one-stop routings linking cities in Australia with Europe the palatability of these routings is quite limited on One World metal. Travelling from Sydney to London is simple enough – you can transit in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai or even Tokyo – splitting your time in the air between Qantas, Cathy Pacific and British Airways metal. Move only slightly off the beaten path however, and one-stop options dry up pretty quickly. Brisbane to Manchester, Melbourne to Zagreb, or Perth to Barcelona are all more complex than they could be, requiring additional stops and travel time quickly. This makes the current One World offerings look weak. Qatar Airways would change this dramatically. Qantas does not operate to Doha right now but there is no doubt in my mind that we would see Qantas metal on the ground in Doha shortly after any announcement. A Sydney-Doha daily service is the obvious starting point for Qantas. This would likely move quickly to a double daily service or a daily to Sydney and Brisbane each. This order makes the most sense given that Qatar Airways presently only flies to Melbourne and Perth. I have not been able to get my hands on a copy of the Qatar-Australia bilateral but it’s safe to assume that Australian carriers have the same rights into Qatar that Qatari carriers currently have into Australia – that’s currently 14 weekly frequencies. What this means is that the only hurdle to getting things up and running is sourcing aircraft to conduct the flights. I suspect that Qantas operations into Frankfurt will be given a second look and possibly axed with a view to freeing up frames to serve Doha. Frankly, I’m amazed that Qantas even serves Frankfurt given that it’s a Star Alliance fortress – but that’s a topic for another day.
The carrier that stands to lose the most from the above outcomes would be Emirates. Emirates currently provides a massive amount of possibilities (a lot of them one-stop) between four points in Australia and a raft of destinations in Europe. A Qantas-Qatar Airways tie-up would definitely impact Emirates’ loads and yields to and from Australia. There is some chatter in the Australian press about Emirates and Qantas discussing ways to work together but I’m not sure I see that going anywhere. A tie-up between Qantas and Emirates would not be very balanced in that Emirates would not gain very much. They already have a large footprint in Australia and almost don’t need Qantas. Then again keeping Qatar Airways out of the picture may be enough of a motivator. Should Qatar Airways end up joining One World I think it can be said with some certainty that that the idea of Emirates and Qantas working together would go right out of the window. Time will tell.
Europe and North America to India
Adding Qatar Airways would be a quick and effective way for One World to add destinations and capacity to India from both Europe and North America. Currently One World serves five cities in India – Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Qatar Airways would more than double that list adding six secondary destinations – Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, and Trivandrum – and add a heap of extra capacity into the markets already served. Essentially this would turn Doha into One World’s India hub – albeit in Arabia. Although Doha is more than a little chaotic between nightly 23:00 and 03:00 it still provides a far better transit experience than would be found at any airport in India.
With Qatar Airways added to the One World mix, we would definitely see adjustments made at both British Airways and American Airlines to cater to new possibilities. I suspect British Airways would alter the existing Heathrow – Bahrain – Doha run to become Heathrow – Doha – Bahrain. This would allow British Airways to take advantage of Qatar Airways’ reach in India (and elsewhere) and do so with one-stop routings. In addition, British Airways would also be able to transfer Australia traffic to newly established Qantas flights.
The fit between Qatar Airways and American Airlines would not provide as many compelling routings, but there are definitely multiple small synergies that could yield great results. With the exception of Dublin, every destination that American serves in Europe is also served by Qatar Airways. Some light schedule shuffling would facilitate the smooth transfer of passengers between the two carriers reducing overall travel time. In addition to this, Qatar Airways would acquire incredibly deep reach into the US market. Premium travelers may not be all that receptive to two stop itineraries but there are more than enough passengers will be willing to endure two stops. A number of big markets will shift to one stop as Qatar Airways continues its US expansion. There are at least half a dozen cities that are likely to get service to Doha in the coming years. The only impact aligning with One World will have is changing the order in which cities are brought online. Dallas and Miami would jump to the front of that list.
There’s also the distinct possibility that American could begin service to Doha as well. Although United presently enjoys the “contract carrier” status for US government-purchased tickets to Qatar there is likely enough demand in the contractor community to start serving Doha.
Asia to Africa
The last market that merits a mention is the up-and-coming Asia to Africa corridor. With Chinese and Indian investment on the continent going through the roof, there is real and growing demand for capacity and flexibility. At present One World is ill equipped to capitalize on this trend. Once again, Qatar Airways would changes things overnight and could really help One World in the long term as they continue to make inroads in Africa.
While the above might seem like a lot to digest, I don’t believe that anything stated above is that farfetched. With only minor adjustments, One World carriers and Qatar Airways can all make immense strides forward and really put pressure on their competitors. It’s going to be very interesting to watch this unfold over the next two or three years.
As an ardent Springbok supporter it pains me to my very core to admit that the best-looking livery-aircraft combination gracing the skies today is none other than that of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER in the special All Blacks livery. The airframe itself is spectacular but when coupled with a bold black basecoat it just demands your attention. The additional details in shades of gray and white complete the offering perfectly – a fitting tribute to the reigning world champions.
The sensible folks at Air New Zealand waited until after winning the world cup for a second time before unveiling this beauty. View Full Article »
Nearly three decades after the service was started using 747-SP aircraft, SAA has announced that is it will axe non-stop service between Cape Town and London. Given the demographic and commercial ties between the two cities and tourist appeal of the Western Cape, this may come as a surprise to many. To others the writing has been on the wall for a while.
Carriers and governments around the world seem to be getting increasingly hostile towards Emirates. Skirmishes in Canada and Germany are well documented but they are not the only fronts. In the background, there have been other smaller exchanges in Australia, India, France (really the whole EU) and South Africa to name but a few. In an effort to proliferate its views, the airline recently released a document detailing the things it feels global aviation stakeholders and travelers need to know. The PDF can be found here. Truth be told, I’m not so sure how useful this exercise has been. A cursory look at the web attention it has received seems to show that it has served only to force people to dig their heels further into the positions they already held. A few things about this document have left me perplexed: View Full Article »
After a challenging few years that saw the carrier lose privileges to fly into the EU things now look to be on the right track at Garuda. To accommodate the growing domestic scene as well as demand to and from Indonesia Garuda have elected to sign up for an additional eleven A330-300′s. Assuming that these birds are configured like their current crop of A330-300′s they will carry 257 passenger in a 42/215 split between business and economy classes.
A couple of years ago I blogged about Aerolineas Argentinas retiring the 737-200, the Chancha, from service. Today another icon of Argentine aviation – the MD80 – flew in Austral colours for the last time. Flight AU 2883 from Rio Gallegos to Aeroparque landed at 6:22 AM local time signalling the end of an era.
For many years the MD80 formed the backbone of the Austral fleet. View Full Article »
In light of the walk off, I arrived nice and early for my flight (AC001) to try and figure out what my options were should it be cancelled. There was lots of shouting and whistling around the A check-ins. I elected to avoid that and check in at the E area. The terminal is very quiet and nobody seems to know whats going on. In fact staff here at the Maple Leaf Lounge are asking me what’s going on…
AC002, NRT-YYZ, has been cancelled but I’m told this is for an unrelated reason. So far the only cancellations of international AC ops has been YYZ-HKG (AC015) and YYZ-MBJ (AC982). Beyond this there are seven delays: with Basseterre, Bridgetown, Grand Cayman, Kingston, and London all feeling the brunt of this illegal action.
Things are changing fast at Turkish Airlines. Since their ascent into the Star Alliance they have demonstrated a high energy, high activity approach to getting things done. Big sponsorship deals with with Manchester United and FC Barcelona, a battery of new routes and upped seat counts into existing markets all in the space of months.
Despite all of this frantic activity it seems that the powers that be at THY have not forgotten the most important piece of their puzzle, their employees. View Full Article »
Things look to be getting very tense at Air Canada. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) that represents the airline’s mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents in Canada has announced that it intends to begin labour action starting at 12:01 A.M. ET on Monday March 12, 2012.
As if that wasn’t enough negotiations with its pilots union appears to have also hit a snag. View Full Article »
A couple of years ago I blogged about a dilemma that WestJet faced; it was running out of city pairs that could be viably served by its 737-only fleet. That post sparked some interesting conversation with connections on Twitter and even a little bit of heckling would you believe. As it turns out, I wasn’t far off the mark. In the time that has passed WestJet has struck up a lease arrangement introducing 757 service from western Canada to Hawaii. Things got really interesting in January when it emerged that a more significant change was on the cards – the possible creation of a subsidiary/regional operation. Once this idea was met with approval from WestJet personnel it really got legs. Although it’s not abundantly clear what types are under consideration at this time, it seems that the folks at Bombardier aren’t holding back. View Full Article »