Let’s talk about the 777

March 19, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Aircraft Development | No Comments

I would argue that of the airliners introduced over the past 25 years, the 777 is probably by far the most influential airliner to become available.  In the fashion of the “old” Boeing, it was made in a variety of styles to meet a variety of needs and just has kept on selling and selling throughout the years.  Even today, Airbus doesn’t have the best competitor possible for this aircraft.

There are some people who’ve shunned this aircraft over the years and, in my opinion, paid the price for it.  It was noticeable that Lufthansa, amid its order for a large batch of A320 aircraft, ordered (6) 777-300ER aircraft for its SWISS subsidiary.  Lufthansa famously stuck with the Airbus A340 and 747 instead of incorporating the 777 into its fleet.

QANTAS has also studiously ignored the 777 despite market conditions changing so dramatically in favor of using the 777 that I now wonder if someone at Airbus has compromising photos of the entire Board of Directors for QANTAS.  The 777 is an airliner that would have served QANTAS extremely well domestically, regionally and in long haul guise.

The 777 could have served the high frequency, relatively short haul routes between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as well as some routes across to Perth and New Zealand.  The original 777-200 “domestic” co8uld have served all these routes in a very able manner.

The 777-300ER was the answer to needs on the Kangaroo route as well as to northern Asian destinations in China and Japan.  Why an airline such as QANTAS would continue to use the 747-400 exclusively when it could have greatly benefited from the 777 is a bit baffling to me.  While oil prices weren’t sky high until quite recently, the fuel cost argument for the 777 was really made successfully right from the beginning.  Even when fuel was cheap(er) in the 1990s, those who bought the 777 knew they had made the right choice.

Now we hear that Boeing is about to give Authorization to Offer the next 777 series aircraft and this means, potentially, that the 777 may well have as long a history in commercial aviation as the 747 with far greater numbers sold.  Any airline who ignores the very real capability of this airliner does so at its own peril.  Long haul routes will be based more and more on frequency in most cases and more on “point to point” arguments going forward.  With just a few exceptions, they will not be based upon the traditional hub-and-spoke model and certainly not based on trunk routes using the largest aircraft possible.

Yes,  a few A380/747 routes will remain out there and that’s right and appropriate.  But the world will belong to airlines who have the ability to fly routes such as Dallas-Sydney or Houston-Johannesburg or Denver-Hong Kong with the lowest costs.  The lowest costs will come from the next generation of airliners such as the 787, A350 and 777-X.

QANTAS – Emirates

September 11, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline Service | No Comments

QANTAS and Emirates have done a deal to work closely together on codeshares and flying between Australia and Europe.  This sees QANTAS backing away from a very long standing relationship with British Airways and a shift in using Singapore for QANTAS’ mid-point hub to Dubai.

This is a smart choice for QANTAS.  The tie-up doesn’t impact their operations at all and it allows QANTAS to use Emirates to distribute customers to Europe more efficiently while also providing the same service to London and the UK as well.

Emirates has eschewed the alliance game mostly but this is a very good move for Emirates as well.  Emirates will now have feed from a long established brand and it brings a greater legitimacy to Emirates.

But this hurts British Airways.  The partnership it has had with QANTAS has allowed the two airlines to survive on that long Kangaroo route between Australia and the United Kingdom.  Now BA must go it alone and that will be a tougher thing to achieve success on.

Oneworld will be impacted by this as well.  Part of me once thought that some sort of union between British Airways (IAG), QANTAS and American Airlines would have made for a very, very strong network.  Now, QANTAS is walking away from established behaviors and tradition towards doing business in a new way.  Quite rightly, too.

QANTAS will likely remain in Oneworld and you won’t see the cooperation between QANTAS and other partners fade away either.  But you won’t see any love between QANTAS and British Airways anymore either.

Frankly, I do wonder why QANTAS doesn’t just fly Australia to Dubai and let Emirates do all the work from Dubai onwards.  It’s a good fit that would actually allow QANTAS to get more use from its aircraft than flying ultra-long haul routes.

I do foresee one change for my own local area:  I think we’ll see an A380 flying the Dallas / Fort Worth to Australia route in the near future.  Say in one year or less.  I think this new Emirates union will free up aircraft and given the high demand that the DFW-Australia route has seen, QANTAS could use an A380 to fly SYD-DFW and DFW-SYD non-stop which would only help grow that route more by eliminating that nasty stop in Brisbane on the return portion.

QANTAS goes red and cancels the 787

August 24, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

QANTAS has shown a loss for its 2nd Quarter results and in the process announced a cancellation of its orders for the 787-9.  Nominally, the basis for this is to reduce spending and QANTAS has already deferred some A380 deliveries for the same reason.

Reasons for QANTAS’ losses are in its international division and include very high fuel costs in that region.  This begs the question as to why QANTAS would want to give up aircraft that would improve its position on fuel costs considerably.  The international division relies upon a lot of 4-engine airliners presently and older Boeing 767 aircraft as well.  While it has reduced its average fleet age, that has come about primarily through purchases of a few A330 aircraft and new Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

It’s notable that the 737-800 becomes less than desirable with the 737-8MAX on the horizon.

I would think that by now QANTAS would have come up with a rational fleet approach for its international long haul flying.  While it has some critical mass on the A380, it still is operating an ever aging 747-400 fleet with some of those aircraft not due for retirement until 2018.  The 767s can be improved upon massively with the 787 and that would help considerably.

The age of 4-engine airliners for even QANTAS’ trans-Pacific flying is ending in many respects.  Virgin Australia is using the 777-300ER for similar routes to the US West Coast now and likely seeing far better CASM than what QANTAS experiences with the 747-400.

In a tiered approach, one would expect the 787-8 to replace about half of the 767 aircraft.  The 787-9 could replace another 1/4 to 1/3 of that 767 fleet.  The 777-200/300 could replace the remaining 767/747 flying easily and that leaves the A380 for high demand, trunk routes.  With a 787/777 fleet, QANTAS would also experience better flexibility in its pilot group since a pilot can transition between either aircraft in just a handful of days.

It’s possible that if Boeing got off its delay in offering the 787-10, this aircraft could provide QANTAS with a nice fleet for medium to long haul travel at a fuel cost that would not be beat by any other airline.

A part of me sees QANTAS becoming a smaller and smaller player in the international domain.  It lacks good partnerships with other airlines and the partnerships it does have sees those partners leaning heavily on QANTAS to do much of the expensive flying.  It needs partnerships that are more equal in scope and which allow the airline to perform successfully on routes it can fly while offering customers options on routes it cannot fly.

It feels as if QANTAS and its leadership are simply managing the airline to mediocrity and you quickly become irrelevant in the marketplace that way.

QANTAS pilots go at it.

August 22, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | 2 Comments

Two senior QANTAS 747 pilots got into a heated argument over what data to input into a flight management system for takeoff.   This occured on the QANTAS flight from DFW to Brisbane August 14.  Ultimately, the flight was cancelled and set to take off the next day due to weather.  However, it was determined that these two pilots could not work together and a replacement crew was sent.  Both pilots are now suspended from duty.

Was this a safety of flight risk?  Possibly.  The environmental data one inputs into a modern flight management system determines things like take-off thrust and the speed at which an aircraft should lift off.  On shorter runways, this can be criticial.  On a flight like the DFW to Brisbane one, it is particularly critical since the aircraft will typically be fully loaded with a full fuel load.  The flight is the longest that a 747 currently flies and is at the very edge of the range performance for a 747-400.  On the other hand, DFW possesses runways that are extraordinarily long and even with a slightly incorrect performance calculation, a pilot would be able to adjust and continue the take-off or even reject the take-off if he/she sensed a problem.

But getting along in the cockpit is critical and this speaks to two pilots acting very unprofessional just prior to a flight where working as a team is what gets the aircraft to its destination.  A destination that requires crossing 6000 miles of Pacific Ocean.

QANTAS ups the ante in DFW

June 21, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline Service | No Comments

QANTAS is moving from 4 flights / week to daily flights in its DFW to Australia operations. QANTAS flies non-stop from Sydney to Dallas and non-stop from Dallas to Brisbane with follow on service to Sydney using the Boeing 747-400ER aircraft it has. Previously, it’s been reported that QANTAS load factors have typically exceeded 85% and that the flights have, at times, been load limited or range limited as a result of both passenger and cargo demand.

In other words, this route is *really* succeeding for QANTAS and is attracting a lot of American Airlines network feed. Most felt that this route would go to daily service fairly quickly and it has after about a year of service. My prediction is that the next step will be to add an A380 to the route. Think I’m crazy? I’m not.

The 3 class 747-400ER carries 364 passengers and travels the route at the very limit of its range. 85% load factor for that aircraft translates into about 310 passengers. If the aircraft is being load or range limited with those load factors, it sounds as if there is more demand than can be supplied by the 747-400ER. An A380 can supply 450 seats, ample cargo capacity and has more than ample range to fly DFW-SYD and SYD-DFW without being load limited or range limited at all. 310 passengers equates to 69% load factor for the Airbus A380. If QANTAS continues to stimulate demand and work well with AA making DFW a gateway city to Australia (which is very attractive to east coast residents), an A380 absolutely could be justified as the next step.

QANTAS defers A380 deliveries

May 10, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline Fleets | No Comments

QANTAS is deferring delivery of 2 Airbus A380 aircraft until the 2016 and forward time period in an effort to lower costs in order to compete more successfully with Virgin Australia.

It’s a bit of a blow to the A380 program in some ways and it adds to the pain of cancelled orders from China for the A380 as well.  However, Airbus will be able to deliver the aircraft to other airlines at present.   I suspect that airlines with a substantial A380 fleet are finding the aircraft quite successful on the routes it can be deployed on and I know that Lufthansa regards it as having lower seat mile costs.

However, I continue to believe that there are only so many routes it can be deployed on to earn regular profit.  QANTAS would take delivery of these if there was enough demand as they are replacing aging 747-400 aircraft.  Lower seat mile costs are great but only if you can fill the aircraft regularly all year round.

I’m not sure all airlines are doing a very good job with that and Lufthansa’s choice in having both the 747-8i and A380 kind of speaks to the fact that while seat mile  costs are important in the equation, filling the aircraft is just as important.  A full 747-8i earns more money than an A380 at 85% load factor.

The A380 will continue to sell . . . slowly.  It will continue to be delivered and it will continue to get deployed on various routes but it remains a niche aircraft at best.  That’s OK, so is the 747-8i.  The real profit earners going forward are going to be the 777 series from Boeing and the A350 from Airbus.

Singapore Says Goodbye

February 17, 2012 on 12:44 pm | In Airline News | No Comments

Singapore Airlines is going to offer a final, special round trip flight between Singapore and Hong Kong to say goodbye to its passengers 747-400 fleet on April 6th.  Singapore has replaced its fleet of 747-400 aircraft with 777-300ER and Airbus A380 airplanes although it will continue to operate a cargo fleet of 747-400s.

Singapore has had a long history with the 747 and despite many wondering if they’ll take on the 747-8i, I do not think they will.  This airline has enough capacity and it is the one airline that continues to succeed with the A380 in every way.  Furthermore, the 777-300ER is more than capable of filling the roles found underneath the A380. 

The future is more direct flights and the A380 and 747-8i are airliners that serve massive trunk routes better.  There are only so many of those routes so I suspect airlines will focus on one or the other aircraft despite the fact that Lufthansa isn’t going to do that.  I’ll point out that Lufthansa also still operates A340 aircraft instead of 777s.  It’s the exception that proves the rule, really.

This is the first real goodbye for the 747 but it won’t be the last.  I strongly suspect we’ll see this happen at QANTAS some time soon as well, for instance.

Welcome to the New Year – Part 2

January 3, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | 2 Comments

World Alliances

I’m not sure we’ll see much in this territory for SkyTeam or Star Alliance.  They’ll continue to succeed and be smart in their attempts to gain more dominance in more parts of the world.  I think Oneworld is going to be smarting through this next year as a function of health problems at founding members American Airlines and QANTAS.  I also think that gaining the LATAM membership is not nearly as “sure” as they think it is. 

The Middle East

After ordering an insane amount of widebodies in 2011, Emirates will order another insane amount of widebody aircraft and beat up on Boeing about its 747-8i.  This has begun to feel like an addiction problem.


The airline industry in India has imploded and we’re just watching the mushroom cloud of debris settle.  For 2012, more explosions and more governmental heads will push even deeper into the sand.   Air India has already become the new Alitalia.

The Far East

Chinese airlines will order more aircraft and I expect we’ll see orders from them for 777s and A380s and possibly some A350s.  Not unlike 2011.  I don’t think we’ll hear about any stunning orders from that part of the world, however. 

China will tout its COMAC C919 even harder and most of us will try desperately to keep from laughing even harder.  Ryanair will back away from this aircraft quietly, I think. 

Japan will find ANA deploying more and more 787s on more and more routes with more and more success with that aircraft.  JAL will take delivery of its 787s and find that they not only work well for JALs needs but actually exceed expectations.  I think we’ll see an order for some more Boeing aircraft from JAL this year and I think it will be the 737MAX and 777-300ER.  No huge numbers but large enough to make a splash.

South America

LATAM got its approval from Brazilian and Chilean authorities (barely) and LATAM will begin consolidating its operations to make more money.  I think we’ll see a largish order from LATAM and it will be for an airliner to replace aircraft on both the Brazilian and Chilean side of the airline.   The aircraft of choice will be, I think, the Airbus A320NEO and I think they’ll bump up orders for the 787 and 777 as well.   TAM has 27 A350-900s ordered and I think that order *might* be at risk.  The strategy of using Airbus for narrow bodies and Boeing for wide bodies seems to be a smart one for airlines in that region.

I don’t think we’ll see more consolidation in South America but I do see South America becoming a bit of a battle ground between airline alliances.  Most see LATAM going with Oneworld and while I can’t disagree with the arguments, I think that SkyTeam and/or Star Alliance might just swoop in with one hell of a package that may be too hard to resist.  If this happens, Oneworld and American Airlines gets kicked in the groin in South America.

Aerolineas Argentinas?  The Alitalia of South America in 2011 and the same in 2012.  Enough said.


British Airways managed to get through 2011 without any huge problems and saw Willie Walsh move up to the CEO position of International Airlines Group which means Willie’s still in charge.  Iberia, British Airways’ sister airline, saw Willie stirring things up with plans for a LCC subsidiary.  Iberia pilots decided to strike because shooting onself in the foot can’t be just an Indian thing.   IAG also managed to get a tentative deal to buy BMI from Lufthansa and become the Emperor of slots at London Heathrow . . . maybe.

Virgin Atlantic didn’t die, didn’t find new partners and didn’t extricate itself from the chokehold that Singapore Airlines has on it.  Richard Branson actually didn’t make the news very often except to shout, stamp his feet and act insulted that Virgin Atlantic wasn’t able to do a deal to win BMI.  Expect Virgin Atlantic aircraft to start carrying some message against the IAG deal for BMI.  I actually think that Virgin Atlantic will have to find an airline alliance to join and if I’m right, I would lay very heavy odds on it being the Star Alliance. 

Lufthansa did itself a favor and got rid of BMI and I expect they’ll continue their very conservative mangement of the airline and the subsidiary airlines.  I do wonder how much longer Lufthansa can rely upon its A340 aircraft and somewhat expect Lufthansa to bite the bullet and buy the 777.

KLM/Air France:  I see nothing here at all.  Not in 2012.  I don’t expect a large widebody order nor a narrowbody order. 

I do expect Ryanair to make an order and I do think it will be the 737MAX.  In fact, I think it may well end up being the 737MAX-9 instead of the 737MAX-8.  Instead of repudiating the C919, Michael O’Leary will just quit talking about it.  Instead, he’ll suggest stripper poles could be installed on Ryanair aircraft. 

All in all, I think it will be a tough year for European airlines.  The financial crisis on that continent will make it very hard to earn an honest profit and Middle Eastern airlines will continue to erode the long haul traffic that European airlines have enjoyed for decades.

Tomorrow, a summary of what I see for 2012 and the world airline industry.


December 17, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airlines Alliances | No Comments

In light of American Airlines bankruptcy filing and its status as a founding member of Oneworld, I thought about alliances in general and wondered if Oneworld isn’t in real trouble at this point. 

American Airlines won’t be engaging in any serious growth or aggressive strategies for some time to come now.  Every real move they make will be under the scrutiny of bankruptcy stakeholders and their attention will be focused on re-scaling the airline to fit the new realities for success. 

To me, that means that AA won’t have much to offer its partners in Oneworld.  It doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from AA but it does mean that working in concert with these partners to achieve a more aggressive growth for the alliance is probably off the table for now.

Furthermore, QANTAS isn’t exactly shining with success these days either.  They cannot use their A380s as they want and they have as serious labor problems as American Airlines does.   More and more, QANTAS seems at real risk to serious competition from both within Australia as well in the South Pacific/South Asia markets.  I’ll point out that QANTAS is also a founding member of Oneworld.

So, two of the Big 3 in Oneworld are currently hampered by their problems.  That’s kind of serious, I would think.  How does one make a strong business case to LANTAM for their alliance when that situation exists today?

In the meantime, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are racking up new partners and, more importantly, they are planning strong growth with a strategy that continues to seem far more coherent than Oneworld.  They question I ask is this:  Is there some scenario under which existing Oneworld partners start scattering to other alliances?  If one bolts, will others follow?

I don’t see British Airways / Iberia leaving anytime soon but what about the lesser partners such as Cathay Pacific or JAL or LAN says “Buh Bye”?  I think we would see several others looking for new relationships.  (It’s notable that Oneworld is so clueless as to still have Mexicana’s name on their website.)

The other scenario is that both Oneworld and other alliance partners separate and form a new alliance that displaces Oneworld.  More possible than one might think since Star and SkyTeam are clear dominated by just a handful of airlines.   Some partners in those alliances may be chafing to play a bigger role in an alliance and with enough world partners, creating a new alliance may well be not only possible but smart.

QANTAS and Labor headed towards forced agreement

November 26, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

Since the QANTAS lockout was stopped by the Australian government, good faith bargaining has been engaged between QANTAS and its various unions with its negotiations with the pilots being seen as the “test case” for what these negotiations would mean.

Sadly, there is little “good faith” going on in the negotiations and it has become apparent to most that there will be a forced arbitratted settlement between QANTAS and most of its unions. 

When QANTAS engaged in its lockout to force the Australian government hands into this mess, I speculated that this could be very risky for QANTAS if an arbitrated settlement had to be forced in this.  Politicians and particularly the current government of Australia ultimately have to pay close attention to its consitituents aka labor unions.  The most expedient solution is to force a solution that makes the unions happier than QANTAS.  QANTAS, on the other hand, needs cost savings and a union favorable agreement won’t give them that.

At the end of the day, you want a government involved in this kind of thing only when there is an absolute critical emergency.  The disagreements between QANTAS and its unions, in particular the pilots, really had not reached that state.  Government is likely to be very annoyed at being tagged with this mess in this way and that doesn’t bode well for QANTAS either.

It is always possible that I’ll be surprised at the results.  I rate that possibility as less than 1 in 3 chances.


November 1, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

Australia’s government via Fair Work Australia has ended the QANTAS lockout and ended the work actions being done by QANTAS’ unions and made everyone go back to work.   The parties involved will be engaged in intensive negotiations for about a month and if no agreement(s) are reached, then the parties will go to binding arbitration.

As you can imagine, both sides are claiming wins.  Both obviously have good reason to spin this in their favor.  While I don’t think the unions got off completely from being scolded, it was fairly obvious that the current government of Australia was highly unamused by QANTAS’ actions.

QANTAS forced a very hot potato onto the government’s hands and its not very wise to cause politicians to feel that pain as they tend to remember it as they settle things you  forced onto them.  It’s clear the government felt that QANTAS’ actions were a bit premature to say the least.

QANTAS is now forced into a situation where they have to hope that the worst outcome is that binding arbitration results in no change in the status quo in terms of labor agreements but which removes the work actions being taken by the unions.  Because the really bad outcome is binding arbitration finding in favor of the employees and causing new contracts to be done where QANTAS finds jobs and wages even more protected than before. 

Consider that the current government of Australia is the equivalent of a very liberal Democrat administration here and you see where things might get a bit dicey.  In fact, consider that the current Prime Minister of Australia is closer to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi than President Obama in terms of liberalness.  Now you get the picture.

I don’t see QANTAS getting what they hope for and I do think that Alan Joyce has now earned the ire of travelers, the general public of Australia (because it is hard for people to understand such actions when the airline is earning a profit) and the great ire of very liberal (worker oriented) politicians. 

So, was this the right move for QANTAS to make?  I honestly don’t think so.  I think QANTAS has a legitimate point about labor costs and clearly QANTAS employees are some of the best paid in the world industry.  But the point would have been far better made in a nuanced manner as opposed to acting like a genuine do or die crisis was taking place.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Airlines are horrificially bad at politics and QANTAS is no exception.

The problem with this ploy is that QANTAS has now got no “friends” in this fight and making a nuanced argument for cost controls will be 10 times more difficult than just a week ago.  Now they have to fight a public relations battle on multiple fronts and those are always hard to win no matter how much “right” is on your side.

This is where I admire Willie Walsh more.  He was stubborn and he made a point over and over again in his fight with Unite.  Even then, I think that Willie Walsh got a bit emotional about the fight at one point and hurt his chances at concluding the problems at a few points of time.  That said, Willie Walsh laid out his argument better, made his nuanced points in the press patiently and with care and never once shut down his airline.  To the contrary, he made contingency plans to keep doing business through Unite strikes and managed to keep customers happy (or at least interested in remaining loyal to BA) and did not earn the enmity of politicians while doing it. 

I continue to believe that for real resolution and practical change when it comes to costs at QANTAS, Alan Joyce will have to depart and more moderate, less dramatic person will have to take over to try to steer that airline’s course in a better direction. 

You have to believe that former QANTAS executive, John Borghetti of Virgin Australia has got to be enjoying this show immensely.

Sunday Trivia: Who’s old?

October 30, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

There are few airlines in the world that have been operating for nearly the past century but they exist. 

Who is the oldest continuously operating airline the world?

Who is the oldest. . . period?

The answers after the fold: (more…)

QANTAS aims for the ground

October 29, 2011 on 12:14 pm | In Airline News | 2 Comments

When you’re flying an airplane and the speed in the air starts to slow for whatever reason, you are actually supposed to push the stick rather than pull up.  Pushing the stick gives you some forward air speed and forward air speed is security for a pilot.

The one thing you do not want to do is nose the aircraft over completely and nose dive into the ground.

Running an airline is a lot like flying an airplane and I’m afraid that Alan Joyce and QANTAS might have just aimed the nose of their aircraft, QANTAS, towards the ground.  

There is such a thing as taking a stand against labor actions and it can be a smart thing to do.  However, grounding your fleet to teach your employees a lesson really is a bit over the top.  Furthermore, hoping that your government will step in and make your employees play nice again is a bit optimistic. 

Oh, the labor actions may get stopped but now you’ve destroyed any good will you might have had as an employer.  You’ve pissed off tens of thousands customers and you lost millions of dollars.  If you are a shareholder or, say, a member of the government, what do you do?

Get rid of the polarizing figure in this mess.  That’s what.  You won’t necessarily fire the board itself but you can make a point by placing them under immense pressure to rid themselves of someone who can’t make a deal.  I think Alan Joyce isn’t long for this world as CEO of QANTAS.

How about some good news?

October 7, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

QANTAS is going to ramp up its flights between Dallas / Fort Worth and Australia from 4X weekly to 6X weekly and then daily.  The move to 6 times a week comes in January and QANTAS will go daily in July of 2012.

Why?  Because the flight works and work well for a variety of people.  The flight duration from DFW to Brisbane is essentially the same as it is from the West Coast (is there much of a difference in an hour more duration when we’re talking about 15+ hour flights?) and it affords a connection in a city that is uncrowded vs many West Coast cities.

The real deal here is feed.  American Airlines must be feeding a ton of traffic to QANTAS and vice-versa.  This is one benefit in the Oneworld alliance that does work. 

It’s also why I’m skeptical of Emirates doing very well in DFW.  Emirates has no relationship with any airline in the DFW area.  Furthermore, DFW airport is exceptionally dominated by American Airlines.  Without a codeshare and/or interline agreement with AA, I just don’t see much feed going over to Emirates. 

As for Origin and Destination traffic between DFW and Dubai . . . forget about it.  As for connections to the Middle East, India and Africa, let’s take a look.

Dallas isn’t an oil city.  That’s Houston.  Dallas is banking and real estate and software.  There are ties to India but you can get there just as conveniently or more so via the airlines already giving you frequent flier miles.  I think the lure of frequent flier miles is silly but I won’t argue against the fact that they are a major driver for most fliers.  Africa?  Again, there just aren’t many ties from Dallas to that part of the world.

Now, as for air cargo traffic, I see that this might work.  But at the end of the day, you still have to fill those 777s with passengers to succeed.

It will be fun seeing their aircraft here just as it is seeing QANTAS 747s here.  And if the 747 is doing *that* well between DFW and Australia, it’s quite possible we’ll see an argument made for some of those flights to be served with an Airbus A380 (which should be able to make the hop to Australia east to west without Brisbane in the equation.)

QANTAS and flying to DFW

July 29, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

So, here is some interesting news.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), QANTAS is finding its 4 times a week flights to the DFW area using a 747-400ER as both successful and profitable.  The airline began the flights just 3 months ago and is already seeing load factors in the 90% range (with about 80% of that load being leisure and 20% corporate/business.)

There have been a few diversions to South Pacific locations for refueling due to adverse headwinds but none recently.  There have also been a few complaints about luggage being delayed due to load limitations.  Both because the route is on the outer limits of the range offered by the 747-400ER. 

If the success is as good as claimed by Qantas NSW regional general manager Peter Collins says it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if QANTAS either changed the service to an A380 in the future or if it added 6 or 7 times a week frequencies.  QANTAS has already said that when its 787s become available, they’ll likely service the route with multiple daily frequencies. 

QANTAS has both 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft on order but I would expect that the aircraft they’ll want to use is the 787-9 (provided the range promised is delivered) and that means a long time from now.  In the meantime, the A380 can offer as much range with greater capacity as the 747-400ER for this flight when it can operate its aircraft with the uprated Rolls Royce Trent engines at full thrust again. 

In any case, it’s good to see QANTAS succeed with this route and I look forward to seeing it developed even more as time goes by.

Sunday Trivia: Oldest Airlines

June 19, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

There are 4 “oldest” airlines still in existence today.  Two of these should be fairly well known for being such.  One may be a bit of a stumper for many and one is surely a surprise for almost all. 

Question:  Can you name (without any research) the 4 oldest airlines in existence today?

Answer after the fold: (more…)


June 11, 2011 on 12:44 pm | In Airline News | No Comments

Delta Airlines and Virgin Australia have gotten their approvals for an anti-trust immunity agreement to cooperate across the Pacific between the United States and Australia.  They did so, in part, by promising to keep up frequencies between the two countries.

This doesn’t mean that routes won’t be rationalized.  The frequencies will stay the same, the routes won’t.   These two airlines will deploy their 777 aircraft on routes that are complimentary rather than competitive.  Expect V Australia 777s to start arriving in San Francisco to replace QANTAS’ recently withdrawn flights.

Delta’s 777-200LR aircraft can potentially make the flight between Atlanta and Sydney (although with a touch of payload restriction) and provide competition to QANTAS’ new 747-400ER flights to Dallas/Fort Worth.

And for the first time, there is real competition for the QANTAS/British Airway/American Airlines Oneworld consortium.  Virgin Australia can provide domestic connections to Delta in Australia and Delta can provide domestic connections to Virgin Australia in the United States.

John Borghetti, CEO of Virgin Australia (and formerly an executive with QANTAS) has made it clear that he intends that Virgin Australia be a strong competitor with QANTAS rather than an constant underdog and he has experience with building networks as a result of working for QANTAS for many years.

Look for quite a bit of new competition on routes between the United States and Australia and I think United is going to be the airline to take the hit.  United has pretty old aircraft with a pretty old service product and no partners in Australia to assist with feed.  They also have no new large widebody aircraft to carry passengers with either although they will have the 787-8 with which they can start direct flights to New Zealand and Australia from cities in the United States that have never traditionally seen direct flights.

QANTAS diversion: That didn’t take long

June 1, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

QANTAS began flying to and from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport just a few weeks ago and they’ve already experienced a somewhat unusual diversion.  QANTAS Flight QF8 flying from DFW to Brisbane, Australia diverted to Noumea, an island in the South Pacific, to take on additional fuel.  The diversion caused the flight to be late by 2 hours and, no doubt, a bit unprofitable.

There have also been stories of baggage being left behind to reduce weight on these flight.  The flight between DFW and Australia is arguably the longest possible on the Boeing 747-400ER.  QANTAS is the only airline to fly the -400ER and the nominal max range with maximum payload on this aircraft is 7670 nautical miles.  The shortest distance between DFW and Brisbane is 8300 nautical miles.

This means the QANTAS aircraft is already flying payload restricted to achieve the route distance so it is quite possible that some baggage is getting loaded.  Ironically, the 777-200LR could probably fly the same number of people on the same route with unrestricted payload.  This was an aircraft that QANTAS found unsuitable for purchase.

Future QANTAS 787 aircraft will be capable of flying that route and I would expect that that will be one of the first routes to see the 787 although the -8 versions will be barely capable of the flight to Brisbane as well.

QANTAS is smart and I would expect that if this becomes a trend, they’ll re-think the route or look for other equipment to put on it.   If the load factors remain consistently strong, they may well choose to put an A-380 on that route as well.  Much of this new route depends upon how much American Airlines can feed traffic to it and I suspect they can feed quite a bit. 

The thing is, the last thing they want is this flight developing a reputation for taking even longer due to diversions.

American Airlines & QANTAS

May 18, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

American Airlines and QANTAS are filing for anti-trust immunity for a joint business agreement between the two airlines across the Pacific between the US and Australia. This doesn’t mean revenue sharing at the moment because American Airlines doesn’t have flights on those routes.

This request doesn’t come as a surprise whatsoever and fits neatly within what AA has been doing with all of its Oneworld partners. Not only does AA not have flights to Australia and New Zealand now, I honestly don’t believe they’ll have them in the future.

There is a reason why QANTAS is coming to DFW airport and it isn’t to provide interim lift for AA. I’m certain American sees QANTAS as the perfect airline to operate those routes and sees itself as the aggregator of traffic for QANTAS.

John Travolta QANTAS Video Under Attack

March 26, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments

A new QANTAS safety video featuring John Travolta at the beginning and end is under attack by QANTAS employees in various forums.  Travolta serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for QANTAS and owns a 707-138B originally flown by QANTAS and Braniff International.  His aircraft is painted in vintage QANTAS livery.

Employees refer to the video as “cringe worthy” and “corny” and some suggest the pilot of QANTAS flight QF32, Richard Captain de Crespigny, the Airbus A380 that was safely landed after an uncontained engine failure should re-record the video.  I’ve watched it and, frankly, I can’t really find anything “cringe worthy” or “corny” or “tacky” about it.  It’s simply Travolta inviting people to enjoy a QANTAS flight and to pay attention to the safety video.  A lot of airlines should be so lucky.  Watch it yourself.



QANTAS Safety Video

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