Speaking to CAPA TV on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Istanbul in early Jun-2023, Finnair CEO Topi Manner described the lessons his airline had taken from the COVID-19 pandemic:
"I think the most lasting impact has been that we are a culturally stronger airline and I think the whole industry is culturally stronger. In our case, our operating model has changed quite a bit. We are faster, we are more nimble, we are more resilient."
However, Finnair's strategic focus on Europe-Asia was hit by the "double crisis" of COVID-19 and the closure of Russian airspace, so – "we have been needing to do pretty creative things".
Yet according to Mr Manner: "1Q 2023 was positive for us in terms of operating profit, so it was a good start for the year… the summer season looks to be very busy and therefore I'm looking forward to having a good year."
TO READ ON, VISIT: Finnair CEO: a faster, more nimble, more resilient airline, despite double crisis
Asia Pacific airlines have a collective 4,430 commercial aircraft on order, accounting for almost 40% of identified outstanding orders globally.
Of this figure, nearly 2500 aircraft orders are concentrated with 10 airlines.
Almost 95% of the unfilled orders with these 10 airlines are for narrowbodies, with particularly large backlogs in place with short haul operators in Southeast Asia and South Asia.
Across the wider region, narrowbodies account for approximately 80% of orders. Narrowbody ordering is being supported by LCC growth and rapidly expanding regional connectivity to accommodate the travel demands of the region’s expanding middle class.
TO READ ON, VISIT: Top 10 Asia Pacific airlines share almost 2500 aircraft orders between them
Down and out in Paris and London: hub airports are in the sights of environmentalists – part one; part two
The main airports of London and Paris count among the most economically significant in the world. It is inevitable that decisions made in the name of the environment will impact on them, but it isn’t always in the ways that might be expected.
Heathrow is already the UK airport which sees the highest level of environmental protest, and a recent manifestation of it came as a result of the decision to award it a third runway, which generated protests and legal action – not so much about noise of emissions from aircraft, but about those from the additional road traffic that would be generated.
Another major change affecting air travel that has been revealed is in France, where the Minister for Transport Clément Beaune has announced the publication of a decree banning domestic air services on routes where there is an alternative method of travel of less than 2.5 hours by train.
While the French government has put that ban on air travel on selected routes, in London, Heathrow Airport will soon become part of a congestion charging scheme that will discriminate heavily against users of older vehicles, whether they are passengers or workers.
In the rush to net zero there are going to be losers as well as winners, and airports will always be at the heart of events.
TO READ ON, VISIT: Down and out in Paris and London: hub airports are in the sights of environmentalists – part one; part two
An oft-stated goal of AirAsia’s parent company Capital A is to diversify its business beyond its flying operations, and one of its latest efforts in this regard is the development of its MRO business.
Capital A set up Asia Digital Engineering (ADE) as a separate subsidiary, based on the former AirAsia engineering division. This follows AirAsia’s established practice of developing business units and then splitting them off, potentially using them to attract new investment.
The fact that AirAsia does not feature in the brand name is an indication that its aspirations lie beyond the maintenance needs of the group’s fleet. Its blue branding even veers away from the group’s traditional red.
ADE’s ambitions are also underlined by its construction of a massive hangar in Kuala Lumpur, which will make it a major player in the region’s MRO industry.
TO READ ON, VISIT: AirAsia's parent Capital A has big plans for its MRO business
There are many changes taking place in Saudi Arabia in a world where its natural assets are not going to be as much in demand as they once were.
For example, there is a concerted attempt to invigorate a tourism business that would not be too distant from the one successfully exploited by Gulf States over decades. That includes much easier entry for individuals and the construction of huge, purpose-built resort cities.
Jeddah, where a huge expansion of its airport is planned, already hosts large-scale religious tourism and has the infrastructure and attractions to offer itself as a proposition for general leisure tourism from a wide-ranging area, once public acceptance is gained of what has previously been considered off-limits in some regions.
There is also the potential to turn it into a hub, but the impression is that the Saudi authorities prefer to attract O&D passengers rather than transfer ones.
There remain, though, many obstacles to overcome to reach the ambitious targets the Saudis are setting, and few of them are under the control of aviation authorities.
TO READ ON, VISIT: Jeddah Airport to undertake massive expansion; becomes a regional gateway if targets achieved
The story of Berlin Brandenburg Airport’s long drawn-out construction, which took the best part of a decade, is well documented.
To add insult to injury, when the airport finally did open in Oct-2020 it was right in the middle of the first COVID-19 waves, with hardly any passengers and a terminal mothballed.
Now it has reported a small profit (as measured by EBITDA) for 2022 and is starting to look to the future. Passenger numbers were close to 19 million in 2022, and a further increase of 10-15% is anticipated for 2023.
Stabilising the company was, rightly, the first priority, but the management ought now to turn its attention to the traffic mix, which simply doesn’t square with expectations at what is the capital city of the premier economy in Europe and the fourth in the world.