Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways has been given the authority from the Indian Government to launch 4 new cities to its network under a revised bilateral arrangement. The amended treaty permits EY to start operations to Calcutta, Jaipur, Calicut and Chennai. However, their CEO Mr James Hogan has stated that he would like his airline to be also given the right to fly to Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad as soon as possible.

In addition, EY will be increasing frequencies to SYD-Sydney, Australia by adding 4 additional nonstop flights to the route from Oct 27th 08. This means that a total of 11 weekly flights will be flown by EY on this route. These 4 additional flights will be flown using an A 340-600. The new flights timings are as follows:


EY 454 Dep AUH 2350 Arr SYD 2055+1
EY 455 Dep SYD 2255 Arr AUH 0645+1


Its really surprising to see that the Indian Govt gave permission to EY to launch CCJ-Calicut which for decades has always been fiercely protected for Air India as a majority of the Keralite labor force working in the Middle East hails from CCJ. Hence, for the last 2 decades Air India has always successfully managed to lobby the Indian Govt to keep this monopoly and not allow Gulf carriers to tap this market segment.

Another interesting move has been to allow EY access to JAI-Jaipur where the bulk of the North Indian labor force in the Middle East hails from. From JAI, EY will face competition from WY-Oman Air only who fly nonstop from their MCT base using a B 737-800. JAI will also be a popular destination with European and USA tour operators who promote "The Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur)" tour package to their clients.

However, EY should not make the same mistake that it has done currently with its TRV & COK flights i.e. by sending A 320s to JAI & CCJ. EY should deploy 2 class configured A 332s to JAI & CCJ to make money as the demand is there on a year round basis especially by it not facing competition from any European or prominent Middle East carrier on these routes. It must exploit this position to the maximum as the cargo demand too year round to both these cities is very high. The A 332 can carry 10-12 tons of cargo easily in its belly on these medium haul flights which means a lucurative source of additional revenue for EY.

With regards to CCU & MAA, the same thing applies. EK, SV and the European carriers use luxurious wide bodied aircraft to fly to both these key Indian port cities. For EY to be competitive especially against EK who send their B 777s and A 332s to both MAA & CCU, it must also respond accordingly by using a 2 class A 332 for both cities.

Lastly, as for it increasing SYD flights (which is a good competitive move) to 11 times a week, the main question is can the A 346 fly this route with a full payload in both directions nonstop? One doubts it as EY's A 346s carry heavy F & J class seats and in total accomodate 286 pax. This route with the A 346 operating it shall be very interesting to follow.

Gulf Air

Gulf Air announced that it has secured permission from the Indian Government over the weekend to start new daily nonstop flights from its BAH-Bahrain hub to Hyderabad as well as increase COK-Cochin and CCU-Calcutta bound flights to daily each respectively. Currently, GF flies twice a week A 320s to CCU and 5 times a week A 320s to COK.


Emirates has revealed further capacity changes that it will implement across its route network in 2008-09. The main highlights are as follows :

CPT - to be launched using a 3 class B 772ER instead of an A 332.

MXP - capacity upgraded to daily B 773ER from January 1st 2009.

MLE - from July, capacity will be upgraded to 10 weekly B 773s.

SYD/AKL - capacity upgraded on EK 412/413 to daily A 380s from Feb 1st 09.


Looks like the demand for CPT has surpassed even EK's expectations for them to switch capacity to a larger aircraft to launch the route. FYI, EK's B 772ERs carries approximately 70 passengers more than its A 332s. The airline that will feel the punch most with EK's new CPT flights would be QR because they currently fly to CPT via JNB which will turn out to be un-competitive in the short term future.

Air France

Air France has announced that it will be adding a daily seasonal flight to JFK this summer which will be flown using an Airbus A 330-200. The flight timings will be similar to that of a "red eye" service. This new flight will be operated between 23rd June and 29th Sept 08 only.

Flight timings are as follows :

AF 004 Dep CDG 2045 Arr JFK 2250
AF 005 Dep JFK 0100 Arr CDG 1410

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines has unvieled a major network restructuring initiative which is aimed at increasing frequencies to key long haul high yielding destinations at the cost of reducing the size of the aircraft used. The main highlights are as follows :

JFK - increased to double daily nonstop flights using a B 744. But from Aug 1st, capacity will be reduced to daily B 773ERs + daily B 744s.

CDG - summer seasonal increase from daily to 11 weekly B 773ERs.

SFO - capacity decreased from daily B 744 to daily B 773ER effective 1st Sept 08.

PUS - increased from daily to double daily flights using B 763ERs.

KHH - capacity reduced from daily B 744s to daily B 763ERs.

DME - increased from 2 to 3 weekly flights flown nonstop using a B 772ER.

China Southern

China Southern Airlines based out of CAN-Guangzhou, China has announced major capacity and frequency changes to its international network for the upcoming Summer 2008 season. The main highlights are as follows :

DXB - increased from 4 weekly to daily nonstop flights using an A 332s.

CDG - increased from 3 weekly to 4 weekly nonstop flights using a B 772ER.

DEL - increased from 3 weekly to daily nonstop flights using a B 752.

SYD - reduced from daily to 5 weekly nonstop flights using an A 332.

MEL - capacity reduced from 2 weekly B 772ERs to 2 weekly A 332s.

SGN - increased from daily to 10 weekly flights i.e. daily B 738 + 3 weekly A 319.

PAK-UK open skies

Pakistan and UK signed a new bilateral treaty last week which culminated in the two sides agreeing to having OPEN SKIES from all Pakistani and British airports including Heathrow/Gatwick. Currently PIA and BA/VS/BMI could only fly up to 10 times a week to LHR/LGW from PAK and vice versa. Included in the new bilateral arrangement is the allowance for Pakistani carriers to carry 5th freedom traffic from UK to USA only 6 times a week where as UK carriers can fly via an intermediate point only 6 times a week to Pakistan carrying 5th freedom traffic.

Analysis :

One hopes that this open skies deal leads to BA returning to KHI either this year or next. Tentatively, they had planned to launch KHI via MCT 6 times a week with a B 772ER but then Ms Bhutto got killed and those plans were put on hold indefinitely due to the law and order situation deteriorating in the country. PIA too have a lot to gain with the additional LHR flight rights but finding slots at decent times is a major issue. Presently, slots after 6pm-7pm at LHR are only available for PIA to pursue which shouldn't be a problem as that would mean an afternoon departure from PAK, a late night departure from LHR to PAK which would arrive late morning back home which is ideal for O&D passengers. If open skies is allowed to be implemented immediately then at least for the peak summer season, PIA should have one extra weekly terminator flight flown nonstop from ISB/LHE/KHI each respectively to cope with demand during the busy period.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways will be making a capacity adjustment for its Australia flights by removing the first class cabin product from the country as it will suspend using the Boeing 747-400 on its services to MEL, BNE and SYD. The capacity changes that TG will be implementing come into effect from March 31st 2008.

They are as follows :

SYD - capacity reduced from double daily B 744s + daily B 772ER to double daily B 773As + daily B 772ERs.

MEL - frequencies increased to double daily B 772ERs.

PER - capacity reduced from 5 weekly B 777s to 5 weekly A 333s.

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines has announced that it will be increasing its flights to Spain to 4 daily from Summer 2008 by flying double daily to Madrid and Barcelona each respectively from its EWR-Newark hub. BCN will get double daily B 752s where as MAD will see a daily B 762ER + daily B 752.


Iberia of Spain has placed an order for 3 additional Airbus A 340-600s that it had as options with Airbus for nearly a year. Insiders feel that not only will IB use these birds to increase its Latin America presence but also launch 2 new long haul destinations in Asia nonstop from its MAD hub such as to HKG because it is a One World hub airport of Cathay Pacific. IB is a part of the One World global alliance.