Issue No. 753

Can SAS Pull Off its Controversial Plan?

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

The Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread, putting a virtual halt to parts of China’s economy. Airlines there are feeling the pain, with empty seats that would otherwise be crammed full with holiday travelers. Airlines elsewhere temporarily suspended much of their China flying, with demand eviscerated. Yet most will likely benefit financially, with this lost demand outweighed by the virus scare’s thunderous impact on oil prices. In early January, Brent crude oil prices came close to hitting $70 per barrel. They open this week below $60.

Japanese carriers have their own international problems to confront. But helpfully, both ANA and JAL produce more revenues domestically than they do internationally. And at home, trends were more favorable.

Not more favorable though, than capacity trends in Europe, where Wizz Air continues to thrive as it expands at a 20% clip. India’s IndiGo is likewise growing 20%, extending its reach internationally as it contemplates even longer-range intercontinental flying. Will it again be interested in Air India?

In the U.S., Alaska is climbing out of a momentary funk while Hawaiian keeps margin declines to a minimum amid Southwest’s attacks. Allegiant trumpeted an unequivocally successful transition to Airbus planes. And American finally struck a contract deal with mechanics… subject to ratification.   


“We are really serious about our mission of building the best transportation network in the world for India”

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta


October to December (3 Months)

  • ANA: $269m; 8%
  • Japan Airlines: $230m; 11%
  • IndiGo: $70m; 8%
  • Alaska: $181m; 11%
  • Hawaiian: $50m/$46m*; 9%
  • Allegiant: $61m; 20%
  • SkyWest: $73m; 17%
  • Wizz Air: $24m/$25m*; 5%

Net result in USD; operating margin

Net profit excluding special items (all operating figures exclude special items)

Weekly Skies

All Nippon Airways, as discussed in last week’s issue of Skift Airline Weekly, doesn’t like being less profitable than its archrival Japan Airlines. Well, that didn’t change last quarter, when its 8% operating margin fell short of JAL’s 11%. For…


Les Echos describes efforts by Air France to avert a strike at its regional airline Hop. Its union (SNPL) threatens to stop working every Friday from mid-February to late April, hoping to win pay rates and working conditions closer to…

Sky Money

The Air India sale process is heating up. According to newly-published guidelines, bidders will be able to buy 100% of the airline, incurring just one-third of its mammoth $8b debt burden. When India’s government last tried to sell just 76%…


Copa, Avianca, Aeromexico, JetBlue, American… Azul too wants to shed its first-generation E190s as fast as possible. The Brazilian carrier now plans to do so by the end of next year, at which point all of its E-Jets will be…

Landing Strip

St. Louis Lambert International Airport reported 16m passengers last year, up just about 2% y/y, marking five consecutive years of passenger growth. Far and away the largest carrier at St. Louis is Southwest, with 59% of traffic. American, which dehubbed…

State of the Unions

Finally, American and the TWU-IAM, which represents the airline’s maintenance workers, reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement that potentially ends a long saga of turmoil. Last year, when contract negotiations broke down, American alleged in court that mechanics were intentionally…

Routes and Networks

In response to the spreading coronavirus, many foreign airlines suspended their flights to mainland China. United, for one, which flies more seat miles to China than any other airline, will cancel all service to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai from Feb.…


Singapore Airlines and ANA signed a tentative joint venture that would provide connections on both carriers’ flights and would provide reciprocal access to lounges, check-in, and frequent-flier programs. The two Star Alliance airlines say the new joint venture would increase…

Feature Story

Things look great for SAS right now. Things look terribly dire.