Monday, October 27, 2014

Etihad, Lufthansa and EU Nationals Control

The LBA on 16 October 2014 reversed a decision to cancel 34 code share flights of Etihad and Airberlin that was taken a few days earlier. The reason for the earlier cancellation was that these code share flights violated the traffic rights agreement between Germany and the UAE. A meeting later in the month between both governments to discuss the bilateral will clarify things for the future. Lufthansa blames these code shares for the overcapacity on the Abu Dhabi route and called them unjustified.

Lufthansa has lobbied the EU to reexamine the control issues of foreign equity stakes in EU carriers and has lobbied for the courts to block Emirates Milan/JFK flights earlier in April 2014; those flights are now operated on a temporary authority pending an appeal's court decision.

Lufthansa has been more vociferous than most regarding the 3 Gulf carriers expansion into Europe. The EU now is examining whether Etihad controls Airberlin and Alitalia through its equity stakes and is also looking at the Delta/Virgin Atlantic deal. This has prompted the Swiss authorities to look at Etihad's control of Darwin Airlines now branded Etihad Regional.

The issue of foreign investors having control of EU carriers is  becoming a thorny issue. There is a needed balance required between control and the investment risk of bailing out a European carrier and preserving jobs and airline services to communities. The major EU legacy carriers are coming under pressure from EU LCCs and apparently from the Gulf carriers that they are not willing to invest more but are looking to cut costs and curtail services. Air France/KLM declined to increase its stake in Alitalia and Lufthansa was not interested in a minority stake. Etihad worked very hard to get the unions and the creditors to accept its terms for its USD 750 millions direct investment for a 49% equity stake in Alitalia. The problems of Lufthansa and AF/KL are compounded by the mega orders from the Gulf carriers for Airbus aircraft with the associated economic fallout of order cancellations.

Etihad will modify its agreements with its equity partners to comply with the EU and Swiss regulators control requirements. Etihad did the same in India when the regulators questioned its control of the Jet Airways board. Etihad will not jeopardize its strategy for expansion; one that is based on equity partnerships providing access to new markets, cost savings in aircraft acquisition, maintenance and other services and more traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub.

The airline industry is more global than ever; the EU has to balance its requirements and need of EU nationals control of its airlines and the foreign investment in these airlines. These investments preserve jobs and services in Europe at a time when its economies are under pressure and their own carriers are not willing to invest.


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Surplus Parts Market A Force Of Stability

In a recent article in AINonline "Surplus Parts Costs Forecast To Drop" it was suggested that prices will go down as more and more aircraft are parted out pushing "the current prices downwards making the already tense market even more competitive".

In principle, this is true to a certain extent.

Boeing and Airbus have both announced production rate increases on their current aircraft types.   Taking into consideration that as an aircraft type evolves and technology improvements are introduced; parts interchangeability is no longer maintained between the latest aircraft off the production line and an aircraft produced 2 or 4 years earlier. This is valid especially for avionics components, where software changes are the most common.

OEMs have to meet both the challenge of  supporting the production rate increases and that of supplying parts to support the industry with the latest and earlier component configurations; this will impose production pressures and supply difficulties.

As the number of retired aircraft increases to almost a 1000 aircraft per year in the next decade, so will the number of part-outs and the availability of surplus parts. However, these surplus components and parts will not support the latest and recent configurations of the active fleet, but will support the earlier and older configuration versions.

The availability of surplus parts for mature aircraft configurations of the popular fleets will tend to;

  • ease off the pressure for OEMs to support the earlier aircraft configurations; and
  • reduce prices in the aftermarket as a whole but remain competitive for avionics components and a variety of other parts.
The surplus market is detrimental in maintaining a stable components and parts supply for the mature aircraft.

Friday, October 3, 2014

DWC On The GO

Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Center (DWC) is set for major expansion to eventually accommodate up to 240 million passengers. DWC currently handles a few low cost airlines but is the home of Emirates SkyCargo in addition to a few more cargo airlines, creating one of the largest cargo hubs in the region.

An investment of 32 Billion USDs has been set for this task, almost double the projected 18 Billion USDs projected earlier at the start of the decade.. The investment is to support the building of another 4 runways and 2 satellite buildings that will accommodate 120 million passengers annually and 100 A380s parked at any one time (click here for a look at the Master Plan). This phase will be completed in 6 to 8 years in time for Emirates to move out from Dubai International in the mid 2020s leaving Dubai International for the use of Flydubai and other operators. The airport design will allow Dubai Airports to add capacity in 20 million passengers increments to support the expansion plans of Emirates.

Dubai International is expected to handle 120 million passengers by 2020 in time for the 2020 Expo Trade Exhibition. The smooth expansion of Emirates depends on capacity at Dubai International. It is projected that Emirates will carry 93 million passengers by 2020.

Dubai sees the aviation sector as a major contributor to its economy and it is expected to generate 323,000 jobs and contribute 28% of GDP in 2020 compared to 250,000 jobs and 22% of GDP in 2011.

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