Friday, October 7, 2016

Qatar Airways orders 100 new Boeing aircraft

Qatar Airways officially announced today a major new order for 100 Boeing aircraft valued at US$ 18.6 billion. The breakdown of the aircraft purchased is as follows:
  • 60 Boeing 737-800MAXs
  • 30 Boeing 787-9s
  • 10 Boeing 777-300ER


The B738s ordered are not for mainline QR but rather for their recently purchased 49% stake in Italy's Meridiana Airlines. 

The order for 30 B789s is really pleasing to see and hopefully it will have crew rests installed on board thus enabling it to be used on long haul flights as currently their B788s are not permitted to. The B789 is an ideal aircraft from both a pax + cargo capacity stand point to operate to BOS, ATL, PHL (instead of a costlier B77L) as well opening up new routes such as LAS, SEA, MCO, DTW, BNE, SCL and BOG. 

For the future planning purposes too (2020 onwards), it is better to have a double daily B789 service to cities like ORD and MEL in particular versus B77Ws. 

Once Meridiana stabilizes under the new QR commercial ownership, I expect at least 10 B789s to be transferred to them to operate on key high volume Italy-trans atlantic and Italy-SE Asia routes. In this way, the airline will have a nicely streamlined standardized fleet of B738MAXs for EU flights and B789s for high demand long haul services. QR should let AZ focus on FCO and make Meridiana Milan's hometown airline and in turn create a niche for themselves. People across the world associate Alitalia with Rome and not Milan anymore hence this is a good opportunity for Meridiana to differentiate themselves. The high volume long haul market segments out of Milan are New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Dubai, Bangkok, Delhi and Male.

Another option for QR to consider if they want to retain the entire 30 B789s is to use them to directly replace their 30 B788s as the resale value of the B788 will depreciate rapidly 2020 onwards as airlines are preferring to up size and maximize their returns by getting more B789s. QR would find buyers between 2020-2022 for their B788s as they would be between 6-8 years maximum or they can lease them out/transfer to one of their investment carriers. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

China Airlines (Taiwan) reveals long haul expansion plans

Taiwan's flag carrier, China Airlines officially disclosed its long haul expansion plans that are under consideration for its Airbus A350-900 fleet at the delivery ceremony of its first aircraft type. New routes under serious review are Paris, London, Boston, Seattle and Chicago. Other information disclosed concerning its fleet was as follows:

a) All A343s to be retired by W17
b) Studies under way to plan for permanent A333 replacement (24 units) on intra-Asia flights
c) 6 B738s are being put up for sale
d) Only 4 B744s to remain in the fleet from S17 season onwards
e) All current A333s to undergo extensive cabin retrofit (30J 160 degree recline + 277Y configuration)


Since CI is a Sky Team alliance member, their new long haul intended destinations should be to Sky Team hubs that AF/AZ/KL/DL have a major presence at to provide value able onward feeder support.

CI already flies to LAX (double daily), JFK (5 weekly), FCO (2 weekly) and AMS (4 weekly). The major Sky Team hubs that it does not operate to are SEA, CDG and ATL.

As someone wrote above and referenced a news article too, CDG is out of bounds due to bilateral restrictions and therefore it leaves two possibilities:

i) AMS currently served 4 weekly via BKK goes daily nonstop with a B77W/A359 by W17 or daily via BKK

ii) FCO currently planed for twice a week nonstop from S17 with the A359 needs to be increased to 4 weekly minimum (P2P demand in 2015 was 44,000 pax)

It would probably be better increasing FCO to 4 weekly and engage in a large code share deal with AZ for Europe as flying via FCO involves no back tracking to any major EU city where as via AMS it would. Plus FCO cannot be operated twice a week only as that is 1980s strategy (though cabin crew must be loving the 3 day layover).

Question - How come demand between Paris and Taipei is so high? In 2015 it was 120,000 pax just P2P which I found to be quite interesting. BR must be really happy that they have it all to themselves daily B77W nonstop !

Seattle for sure is a no brainer now that DL has firmly established a major West coast hub at that airport. It can easily sustain a daily A359 operation for CI with DL onward support. However, BOS and ORD should not be considered for at least another 2-3 years as first SEA needs to be launched and matured before any more U.S. expansion is even thought of.

As far as the regional WB order is concerned, it should just be for the A359 as its no point having a fleet of A339s and A359s side by side when the A359 could do everything its asked for. Fleet standardization over the long term leads to efficiency and mega cost savings.