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The Airline Weekly Lounge

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Every Wednesday the editors of Airline Weekly discuss a few of the week’s more interesting developments within the commercial airline industry. In keeping with Airline Weekly’s style, conversation generally centers on one question: How do you make money in this industry?

Every Wednesday the editors of Airline Weekly discuss a few of the week’s more interesting developments within the commercial airline industry. In keeping with Airline Weekly’s style, conversation generally centers on one question: How do you make money in this industry?
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Every Wednesday the editors of Airline Weekly discuss a few of the week’s more interesting developments within the commercial airline industry. In keeping with Airline Weekly’s style, conversation generally centers on one question: How do you make money in this industry?




Skift Airline Weekly Lounge: The Skift Global Forum Wrap-Up

In this episode of the Skift Airline Weekly Lounge podcast, Skift Travel Senior Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers and I discuss the interviews we did on stage at Skift Global Forum in New York City, Sept. 18–19. Air France/KLM CEO Ben Smith told us how he's trying to rationalize and simplify Air France's network (while leaving KLM largely alone). American Airlines Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr promised the carrier would recover from a difficult summer. And Delta CEO Ed Bastian spoke...


Interview: Southwest's Andrew Watterson

Andrew Watterson, Southwest's chief revenue officer, had a few minutes to talk to Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan and Skift Travel Senior Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers at the Boyd Group's International Aviation Forecast Summit in Las Vegas last month. Watterson still is bullish on Hawaii and says Southwest will expand its service to the state from California. He explained why Southwest pulled out of Mexico City and how its international network is optimized to take...


Interview: Las Vegas' Rosemary Vassiliadis

Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of aviation for Clark County, Nevada, leads operations at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and oversees four other airports in southern Nevada. Vassiliadis thinks airlines are flat wrong in their opposition to raising the passenger facility charge, or PFC. Airports have long argued for raising this fee to a maximum of $8.50 per passenger, up from $4.50 today, but airlines say doing so would crimp demand for travel. This isn't true, Vassiliadis argued in...


Interview: Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram isn't too worried about increasing competition from U.S. and Japanese carriers on routes to Hawaii. During an an interview with Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan in Las Vegas on Aug. 26, Ingram said Hawaiian has been competing fiercely on those routes for 90 years, so this is nothing new, Ingram said. What is new, at least since Aloha and Go went bankrupt, is competition on inter-island routes. Southwest recently began flying limited routes...


Interview: AirBaltic CEO Martin Gauss

AirBaltic was an early adopter of the Airbus A220, back when it was the Bombardier CSeries. The aircraft is perfectly designed for the Baltic carrier's missions, and CEO Martin Gauss is enthusiastic about the model. He took a few minutes to talk to Skift Airline Weekly editor Madhu Unnikrishnan and Skift Senior Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul in June. Gauss said for now AirBaltic's focus is on its region of Latvia and neighboring countries,...


Interview: Flybe CEO at IATA General Meeting

Just before stepping down as CEO of British regional carrier Flybe, Christine Ourmieres-Widener took a minute to talk to Skift Airline Weekly at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul. Ourmieres-Widener’s two years at the helm of Flybe were tumultuous, she acknowledged, and culminated with the carrier’s acquisition by Virgin Atlantic. But she noted that she focused on saving the airline and getting it back on its feet, even if that meant selling it. And she pointed out that her first...


Interview: Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said he envies American Airlines CEO Doug Parker for the scale and potential for profitability that U.S. carriers have from a large domestic market. Parker, the chief of the U.S.’s largest carrier, once famously said the era of airlines reporting losses is over. In its most recent quarter, Singapore Airlines reported profit margins lower than analysts expected and lower than the company had previously reported. Much of this is explained by the region...


Interview: United President Scott Kirby

United Airlines President Scott Kirby issued a warning to potential new-entrant low-cost-carriers, including JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s Moxie: United will match your fares. Kirby, speaking on stage at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore in June, said he’s heard of about 50 airlines over the years that were supposed to be created but Virgin America, founded in 2004, was the last startup airline in the United States that actually became a reality. The low-cost airline model is predicated...


Interview: Air Asia Deputy CEO

The latest edition of the Skift Airline Weekly Lounge contains an exclusive interview with Aireen Omar, AirAsia’s deputy CEO. There was no backtracking from AirAsia in its plan to branch out into selling other airlines on its platform, financial services, and more experiences. Asked at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore in May 2019 if becoming the Amazon of travel is overly ambitious, Aireen Omar, AirAsia’s deputy CEO, said it’s “ambitious, but I think it’s very doable.” Another AirAsia...


Interview: British Airways CEO Alex Cruz

The Skift Airline Weekly Lounge returns with an exclusive interview with British Airways CEO Alex Cruz. Since taking over as CEO and chairman of British Airways in 2016, Cruz has endured his fair share of criticism over some of the changes he made to the airline, particularly with regards to food on short-haul flights. But Cruz, speaking at Skift Forum Europe in London on April 30, 2019, said the changes were necessary in turning the carrier into a more customer-focused airline as well as...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 112: Prediction Affliction

With a new year underway, we’re thinking about what will happen in 2019—always a dicey proposition. In this episode, we consider the prospects of airlines around the world. Some, like Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines, are facing huge opportunities. Others, like Jet Airways and South African Airlines, are facing grave challenges. Will the International Airlines Group make another offer for Norwegian? Will Alitalia find a partner? Will Lion Air cancel plane orders? Will Emirates and Etihad merge?...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 111: Deal. No Deal. Deal?

After pummeling each other for years, Icelandair and Wow Air agreed to a truce in the form of a merger. But the merger fell through. Now Wow Air may be finding comfort with serial airline investor Indigo Partners. What will that mean for both airlines? Aeroflot apparently finds comfort in being big. In fact, the Russian airline is looking to nearly double its fleet size in just five years. Meanwhile, Mexico’s airline industry nervously watches as it appears more and more likely that Mexico...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 110: A Mess in Mexico

More and more people are traveling by air in Mexico, but Mexico’s airlines continue to struggle. All four of its main carriers had a disappointing 3rd quarter, which is historically peak season. VivaAerobus at least made a little money. Aeroméxico and Volaris barely broke even. And, Interjet’s numbers were simply alarming. Fortunately, oil prices have dropped so much that the outlook for airlines everywhere has changed. In the U.K., easyJet posted earnings that were strong but not nearly as...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 109: Happy at Heathrow

Of Europe’s “Big Three” airline groups, International Airlines Group (IAG) continues to significantly outperform the other two, namely Air France/KLM and Lufthansa Group. A big part of IAG’s success is simply British Airways’ coveted slot portfolio at Heathrow. But it didn’t hurt that pretty much everything else is working too. Still, Lufthansa navigated a difficult quarter operationally to deliver a respectable 14% operating profit margin. Air France/KLM, meanwhile, rode the seasonal...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 108: Is American Airlines OK?

American Airlines truly set itself apart from its peers in the third quarter—and not in a good way. AA posted a dismal 7.5% operating profit margin, nearly half of Delta’s 13.9% margin. But, with good reason, management remains optimistic. United, on the other hand, has plenty to smile about right now as it offset 100% of its rising fuel costs with rising revenues. Southwest didn’t have trouble with fuel thanks to hedges, but non-fuel costs posed a headwind. Hawaiian Airlines posted the...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 107: Amazing Race

Delta is doing a remarkable job keeping pace with rapidly rising costs. Sure, the airline’s third-quarter fuel bill rose 35% year over year. But rising revenues offset enough of those costs that Delta’s operating profit margin fell only two points. Meanwhile, what’s behind American’s recent troubles? Unfortunately, when American reports later in the month, it’s expected to be a much less happy affair. Alitalia looks like it will be restructured. Is this new direction the right direction?...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 106: Not So Sunny at Sun Country

Sun Country is largely missing out on the golden age that U.S. carriers have been basking in since 2015. In the past 12 months (ending with the second quarter, the most recent to be reported) all the U.S. carriers posted operating profit margins ranging from a healthy 9% to an excellent 16%—except for Sun Country, which delivered a distant 4% margin. Will Sun shine again? One airline enjoying the U.S. party is Frontier, which had a solid second quarter despite a 19% increase in operating...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 105: Satisfaction in Sydney

Qantas continues to romp. In the first half of 2018, the flying kangaroo posted a 9% profit margin—one point better than in the same period last year. And with that, Qantas is working on its fourth consecutive calendar year with double-digit margins. Despite more exposure to rising fuel prices, Air New Zealand still mostly kept pace. Virgin Australia, meanwhile, continues to miss out on Australasia’s booming airline sector. Scandinavia’s SAS appears to be having a great summer, which of...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 104: Better, But Not Good

Revenues and margins improved for Cathay Pacific in the first half of 2018, and the second half is usually better for Cathay. Still, will it be enough to lift the Hong Kong carrier out of its malaise? Fuel costs dented Singapore Airlines’ Q2 results, which were similarly mediocre to Cathay’s. VietJet’s soaring growth is helping it control unit costs and deliver solid profits. Also delivering solid profits was Cebu Pacific, however, those profits came amid a huge margin decline. Turkish...


Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 103: Canadian Conundrum

Thanks to rising costs, it’s no surprise profits have declined at Air Canada and WestJet. But rising costs alone don’t explain how these Canadian carriers continue to consistently underperform their U.S. peers by a noticeable margin. Meanwhile in Europe, carriers like Ryanair, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss and others are putting up numbers very much like their U.S. counterparts. Unfortunately, Air France is not one of those carriers, as that airline nearly lost money in the...