Catch up on CAPA’s exclusive Market Analysis pieces – Artificial Intelligence, Vietnam Airlines, Canada ULCCs and more

2 July, 2018

Each week, CAPA - Centre for Aviation, produces informative, thought provoking and detailed market analysis of the aviation industry. With supporting data included in every analysis, CAPA provides unrivalled and unparalleled intelligence.

Airlines and the growth of chatbots: potential and brand awareness

The use of chatbots has expanded rapidly among airlines during the last couple of years as those companies realise messaging platforms are becoming the preferred communication vehicle for travellers in terms of customer service, travel planning and booking.

There is no doubt that chatbots are an important tool for airlines within the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for tailoring customer offers, which should ultimately drive revenue.

Given the newness of chatbot technology, measuring its effectiveness is difficult; however, properly analysing user patterns is key to successfully ensuring high adoption and retention levels.

To read on, visit Airlines and the growth of chatbots: potential and brand awareness

Vietnam Airlines fleet: A321neo delays impact growth

Vietnam Airlines has been set back by multiple delays in the Pratt & Whitney PW1100 programme. The airline now expects to receive at most one A321neo in 2018, compared to an original delivery schedule of 10 aircraft.

Vietnam Airlines has been able to continue to expand in 2018 using newly delivered widebody aircraft. A large and increasing portion of its widebody fleet are deployed on regional routes within Asia.

However, its rate of expansion has slowed. Vietnam Airlines will have the opportunity to reaccelerate expansion in 2019 as it catches up with A321neo deliveries and 787-10s start to be delivered.

To read on, visit Vietnam Airlines fleet: A321neo delays impact growth

Canada ULCCs: airlines jockey for position, facing powerful incumbents

Canada recently marked a milestone with the launch of WestJet's new ULCC subsidiary Swoop. Instead of battling start-up ultra low cost new entrants with its mainline tool chest, WestJet opted to create a new subsidiary with ULCC costs and fare levels.

It's a risk for an airline that is broadening its reach further into the corporate market, and readying for new long haul service with Boeing 787 widebodies. But WestJet believes a lower cost iteration is necessary to capture the passengers other new entrants are attempting to attract within the Canadian domestic and transborder markets.

As Swoop settles into its first few weeks of operations, there are also other movements in Canada's ULCC space. Flair, a small player in the market, is moving its headquarters from Kelowna to Edmonton, and also plans an expansion from the airport in the near future.

At the same time, Jetlines has a new CEO, has pushed its launch date back and has obtained used Airbus A320s for its launch, while its Max order remains intact, for now. But there's some ambiguity about the long term viability of the airline's Boeing order for five new generation narrowbodies.

Each of Canada's three aspiring ultra low cost airlines is working to exploit stimulation opportunities and entice the more infrequent traveller who has no real brand loyalty. The next six months to a year should prove to be more of the more interesting times in the recent history of Canadian aviation. And the country's largest airline, Air Canada, is not resting on its laurels while upstart ULCC competitors jockey for position.

To read on, visit Canada ULCCs: airlines jockey for position, facing powerful incumbents

European airspace control. The promise: delays. The need: action

Globally, the aviation industry narrative in 2017 was demonstrative of both record profits and excellent passenger growth. The European aviation market was no exception, surpassing even the most bullish forecasts.

The rise of LCCs and market consolidation, resulting in stronger and - in some cases - fiercer airline groups, resulted in the continent shaking the traditional notion of confined growth in mature aviation markets. The remarkable passenger growth rate of 8.2% year-on-year was near double the 4.8% posted in the USA, and just short of the Asia Pacific's 9.4%.

Europe's air traffic management (ATM) network added 4.4% more movements in 2017, bringing the total to 10.6 million for the year. Overseen by the Eurocontrol Network Manager (NM), the European ATM network covers 43 countries - but despite this growth, the NM area continues to miss performance targets and has not met airspace objectives to meet ballooning passenger demand.

This report presents details of the Sukhoi SuperJet's installed fleet and order book.

To read on, visit European airspace control. The promise: delays. The need: action

Kuala Lumpur-Singapore air route: HSR no longer a threat

One of the first decisions of Malaysia's new government was to scrap, or at least postpone, a high speed rail (HSR) project with Singapore. This will benefit the five airline groups serving the world's third largest international air route.

The route is currently served by multiple brands under the Malaysia Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines Group, as well as AirAsia, Jetstar Asia and Lion Group's Malindo Air.

The HSR link, which had been slated to open in the middle of next decade, would likely have led to at least a 50% drop in Kuala Lumpur-Singapore air traffic. This is the equivalent of approximately 4% of total traffic at both Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Singapore Changi - more than 2 million annual passengers.

The reduction in aircraft movements would have been even higher because more than 90% of Kuala Lumpur-Singapore flights are operated by narrowbody aircraft. With an HSR line competing for passengers in their largest market no longer on the cards, Changi and KLIA can expect higher growth rates, which will help support their major infrastructure investments. For Singapore the decision to invest in a third runway and fifth terminal is now looking even smarter.

To read on, visit Kuala Lumpur-Singapore air route: HSR no longer a threat

Chicago O'Hare airport transit: potential for innovative technology

The desire to transport more passengers by rail directly into airport terminals (or at least to airport rail stations) at the expense of the private car is growing.

However, finding a way of doing that is not always simple. Existing lines may be inadequate, slower-moving local trains can clog them up, and the cost of building additional track may be prohibitive.

The American innovator Elon Musk is never far away when an innovative solution is called for. Troubled by road vehicle congestion around Los Angeles, he has envisaged a rapid construction tunnel network at multiple levels, which may be a resolution to the issue confronting Chicago's O'Hare airport: how to get passengers from and to downtown on public transport much faster than at present, but not more expensively.

The technology is in its very early stages but airports and prospective 'hyperloop' rail operators will be watching the outcome of this project with keen interest.

To read on, visit Chicago O'Hare airport transit: potential for innovative technology

Fuel & geopolitics force US airlines to revisit capacity projections

US trade policy whiplash and rising oil prices are combining to create looming uncertainty for US airlines even as demand and revenue trends remain solid. Delta Air Lines is the first US carrier to come forward and revise its 2Q2018 EPS forecast downward; the company also plans to examine its capacity forecast for the US autumn period through the lens of rising fuel costs and a still-strong demand environment.

It remains to be seen how growing trade tensions between the US and Canada, Mexico and Europe will affect both US and global air travel demand later in the year. IATA has warned airlines could be affected by a protectionist agenda while revising its forecast for global airline profitability downward.

With profits falling, oil prices rising and continuing geopolitical uncertainty, US airlines may find it necessary to revisit their capacity growth targets for 2018 after most of the country's airlines have initially planned solid year-on-year growth this year. And even as higher fuel costs generally lead to fare increases, there is a lag time for that correlation to set in.

To read on, visit Fuel & geopolitics force US airlines to revisit capacity projections