Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 In Prespective

2013 has been an interesting year for aviation and the airline industry, in some ways a year of firsts. The following are some of the exciting events that will continue to shape the industry in 2014 and beyond. 

On board connectivity
Finally, the FCC and the FAA have paved the way to the use of mobile devices on board aircraft from departure to arrival, with inflight WI-FI available after 10,000 feet. The use of mobiles have triggered the debate of whether voice calls should be allowed; BA and Delta have decided not to allow mobile calls inflight, but the debate continues and most airlines awaiting passenger feedback. The prospect has raised the issue of cyber security with some airlines planning to have two (2) WI-FI networks on board; one for the cockpit and another for the cabin. 

The largest airline in the world 
The merger of American Airlines and US Airways is finalized creating the world's largest airline. Of course the road ahead is very difficult and how successful the new AA remains to be seen. Personally, I liked the old in bankruptcy AA the level of service improved and fleet renewal is underway.

The rise of the GULF Global carriers
The three Gulf carriers continued their double digit growth in different ways
- They launched the B777X along with Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific;
- Emirates ordered fifty (50) A380s and stabilized Airbus's production plans for the short term;
- Etihad equity stake in Jet Airways was finally approved. Etihad did not lose anytime in announcing its 
  plans for the Indian market;
- Etihad acquired 33% of Darwin Airlines, a Swiss regionals and will rebrand it as Etihad Regional.    
  Furthermore, they are in discussion with Alitalia for an equity stake; and
- Qatar Airways joined One World.
This prompted Star Alliance to invite Air India to join the alliance in an attempt by Lufthansa to preserve its share of the Indian international market. More interesting is US carriers, lead by Delta, request for protection from the government to limit access of the Gulf carriers and other international carriers and access to EXIM Bank financing.

These are by no means the only events facing the industry in 2014 but probably will have a large impact. Barring major geopolitical and natural disasters the industry is expected to continue its growth, hopefully at a better rate than this year.

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2014

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