Issue No. 774

Winter is Coming

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

Things were going well for easyJet before the crisis. Rivals were perishing. Yields were rising. The short-term question now is can it recover some momentum as European countries reopen their borders, as virus infections in Europe recede, and as tourists start venturing back to the beach. It has about two months to salvage some peak summer demand. Then it will batten down the hatches for the offpeak half, before angling to reassert its formidable strengths (i.e. a great airport slot portfolio) in 2021. The most important thing it can do to counter greatly reduced revenues: Greatly reducing its costs. That, unfortunately, will involve heavy job cuts.

Canada’s WestJet is another airline shrinking its workforce, the inevitable consequence of a much smaller airline industry for perhaps years to come. Cheap fuel would certainly help, even for a carrier based in the oil city of Calgary. A more relaxed Canadian policy with respect to border closures would help too. What would help the most of course — for all airlines and all people everywhere — are vaccines to defeat the Covid scourge. Reports from the scientific community (fingers crossed) remain hopeful.

It’s a tough enemy no doubt. Mini-outbreaks are even resurfacing in Australia, which was pretty close to eradicating the baleful plague. That’s not diminishing the bullishness of Qantas, however, nor the new owners of Virgin Australia. Both are hopeful for a relatively swift domestic recovery, albeit not spared the trauma of mass layoffs.

As U.S. airline workers await the fateful autumn hour when federal pay protections expire, their employers continue to raise massive sums of new money, mostly through borrowing but also by enticing investors to buy more airline stock. So far, the U.S. traffic recovery is shaped like a V, or more accurately an unfinished V with the right side still small. Covid cases, however, continue to expand alarmingly across the country’s southern half. It doesn’t help, alas, to have more and more airplanes flying around the country, contributing to Covid’s spread. Governments are now implementing a new round of policies to encourage mask-wearing and reduce high-risk business activity and even interstate movement.

The virus continues to tear through countries like Brazil, India, and South Africa as well. All are important markets for Lufthansa, which can momentarily breathe easier after securing shareholder acceptance of a giant government rescue. KLM received a government lifeline too.   

Verbulence

"We are happy with the demand that we see on new bookings outside the U.K. I think it's fair to say that U.K. is lagging behind, and we can link that back to the quarantine."

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren

Mondays With Skift Airline Weekly

Brian Sumers, Skift senior aviation business editor, joined Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan for this week's edition of our weekly livestream. You can watch a recording of the livestream here.

Earnings

January-March (3 Months)

  • Aegean: -$95m; -$52m*; -48%

October 2019-March 2020 (6 Months)

  • easyJet: -$459m/-$249m*; -7%

*Net result in USD/*Net result excluding special items/ Operating margin

Weekly Skies

  • Europe’s easyJet reported financial results for its winter half, which ran from October 2019 to March 2020. Only in the final month of the 12-month period did it begin to feel the impact of Covid 19, at first in northern Italy, then Spain, then in a broader swath of markets. Only on March 30 did it ground its entire fleet, leaving the most damaging financial effects of the pandemic to the current April-to-September half.

    The winter half, in fact, was on balance a good-news story for easyJet. Rival Thomas Cook disappeared last fall, MAX and NEO shortages lifted yields throughout Europe, and even with the typical offpeak winter lull — and the virus impact late in the half — easyJet recorded a perfectly acceptable negative 7% October-to-March operating margin. If that sounds bad, consider that operating margin for the same period a year earlier was negative 11%. That was followed by a positive 18% performance last summer.

    It’s the way things have always worked at easyJet: Modest losses in the winter half, followed by strong profits in the summer half. It’s the way they worked in the past anyway. This summer half, of course, is an altogether different situation. With its planes idled, easyJet produced essentially nothing from its March 30 grounding date until June 15, when it resumed operations to a limited number of domestic routes within the U.K., France, and Italy. National borders within the E.U. are now opening to tourists, and easyJet expects to operate about 30% of its normal capacity for the July-to-September quarter, which includes the super-peak months of July and August. In terms of aircraft returning to the skies, easyJet should have 85 flying next month, 155 in August, and 147 in September.

    Its total fleet before the crisis was 337 planes, all A320-family, and more than two-thirds of them owned rather than leased. It recently deferred 24 of the 114 NEOs it has on firm order (most of its orders are A320 NEOs, with some A321 NEOs in the mix). It beat back an attempt by founder and key shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou to cancel orders. Importantly, it retains flexibility to operate as many as 327 planes by 2023, if demand returns faster than anticipated, or as few as 272 in a worst-case scenario. It’s currently planning on 302, based on IATA’s expectation of taking about three years for getting back to 2019 traffic levels.

    Fortunately, liquidity isn’t a major worry, with easyJet initiating another round of fundraising just last week — this time it’s selling as much as $500m worth of stock, alongside additional aircraft sale-leaseback deals. Other than availing itself of a government-backed lending program for British companies, it hasn’t received any material government aid. Most importantly, Europeans are starting to take to the skies again, amid declining infection rates continent-wide. Booking and even pricing trends for what’s left of this summer have been “encouraging,” easyJet says, albeit from an extremely depressed base. Booking trends for the upcoming winter are well ahead of the equivalent point last year, boosted by customers rebooking spring trips that were cancelled because of the outbreak. In fact, an estimated 65% of customers with cancelled trips will have rebooked, rather than request a refund. And that’s important for cash preservation.

    Early indications for summer 2021 demand, meanwhile, also look encouraging. Note however, that when easyJet speaks of positive booking trends, it’s talking mostly about demand from outside the U.K. Demand from the U.K. remains subdued, surely because of the government’s imposition of a mandatory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country (Ireland and Norway are others with a similar policy). Such travel restrictions though, whether quarantines or less draconian measures, will surely ease before long, given Europe’s heavy economic dependence on tourism. It’s the intercontinental travel restrictions that will likely take much longer to disappear, but which have no relevance to easyJet (other than people who arrive from overseas on other airlines and then travel within Europe).

    To be clear, nobody expects demand to return to pre-crisis levels anytime soon. Also, revenues will be pressured by relaxed ticketing rules designed to encourage wary travelers. easyJet for example currently offers customers the right to switch their flights up to 14 days before departure without a change fee. The critical key to financial recovery, therefore, is cost cutting. Cheaper fuel makes that much easier, though easyJet does have lingering wrong-way hedges on its books. As it happens, Brent crude prices have quietly inched their way back to around $40 per barrel, double their low point in mid-April. But still, it beats last year’s average of $64.

    Fuel aside, easyJet is more uncomfortably planning to axe as much as 30% of its pre-crisis workforce. As of April, many of its workers have been on temporary furlough. The airline will, however, bring some outsourced maintenance workers in-house to save money. It’s negotiating for better airport deals. It might close or downsize some of its less profitable bases. Overall, it aims to hold fiscal year 2021’s non-fuel cost per seat flat relative to fiscal year 2019 (in other words, 12 months ending Sept. 2021 versus 12 months that ended Sept. 2019). That’s a “stretch goal” though, given the reverse economies of scale inherent with so much shrinking.

    What else is easyJet doing to secure its future in the post-pandemic world? For one, it’s rebuilding revenue management algorithms, based not on now-irrelevant historical booking patterns but on indicators like flight search volumes, web traffic, and forward bookings. It’s adding new holiday markets like Egypt as it seeks to build its new packaged tour business with hotel partners. It thinks low-cost carriers like itself will benefit from tough economic times, causing consumers and businesses to seek value.

    It hasn’t lost any of its zeal for cutting carbon emissions. It’s naturally watching closely as markets like London Gatwick, easyJet’s busiest airport, undergo extreme competitive shakeups. Many rivals, to put it more succinctly, are cutting and shrinking. easyJet, meanwhile, remains an investment grade airline despite recent downgrades by ratings agencies.
  • Elsewhere in Europe, Greece’s Aegean unveiled a gory set of first quarter results, headlined by a negative 48% operating margin. The airline always loses money in Q1, so the red ink is no surprise. But after positive trends in January and February, the Covid crisis caused a 57% y/y revenue decline in March, hence the hair-raising results. Aegean offers limited detail with its Q1 earnings release, conducting accompanying investor discussions only after half-year and full-year results. In any case, Greece is faring relatively well in terms of Covid cases and stands to benefit economically as an early opener to tourists from elsewhere in Europe. It hopes to establish a travel reopening agreement with the key U.K. market soon.

    For the record, Aegean’s Q1 revenue dropped 15% y/y on 8% less ASK capacity, but operating costs still increased 1%. Fuel costs rose 6%, burdened like many other carriers by bad hedges. Remember: Aegean doesn’t operate any longhaul intercontinental flights, relying instead on inbound tourist traffic from the rest of Europe, and to a lesser extent the Middle East. The recovery in such shorthaul leisure markets is already underway.  
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Media

  • In a remarkably candid interview with Plane Business Banter founder Holly Hegeman, American’s strategy chief Vasu Raja explains why American is acting so aggressively relative to its peers, in terms of its schedule restoration. He looks back on American’s difficult past, particularly the 2001-to-2010 period, when it managed to avoid bankruptcy with hyperactive cost-cutting but at the expense of surrendering important competitive advantages, precluding its ability to benefit from moments of demand strength. One example he gives is shutting down its St. Louis hub, inherited from the old TWA. That “could have been the Charlotte of the midwest.” He adds: “When St. Louis was hot, that show was bigger than Chicago today for American Airlines.”

    Fast forward to today, and Raja doesn’t want to follow the natural reaction in a crisis, which is to hoard cash, cut costs as much as possible, shut down hubs, and so on. The last thing American wants to do is throw away the 112% revenue premium it commands at its major hubs, apart from New York and Los Angeles. The latter two are more difficult markets for American, but a new pre-crisis alliance with Alaska should help in L.A. A restructuring of international flying finally produced profits in New York last year.

    As Raja looks at competitor schedules right now, he sees Delta and United dismantling their hubs, destroying connectivity. American by contrast rebuilt its hub structure and sees domestic load factors running 70% this month. About 40% of all passengers recorded at TSA airport checkpoints nationwide are flying American. Can it make money with these passengers? Many are in fact price-insensitive, flying for emergency regions or an important life event like a wedding. At least as importantly, when oil was $35 a barrel, the airline’s break even load factor was something like 25%. At one point, at the oil market’s nadir, the breakeven load was just 9%! (Note: oil prices have been rising of late, posing a threat this aggressive strategy).

    Raja of course acknowledges the need for cost cutting but thinks it can be done without gutting the carrier’s core strengths and hopefully without any morale-sapping layoffs. He sees leverage in its contracts with Boeing and Airbus. (“Nobody is scared of these guys anymore.”) Another important avenue for improving American’s prospects and ability to avoid layoffs: relaxing pilot scope restrictions, so that regional flying won’t have to shrink in tandem with mainline downsizing.

    He has some tough words for rivals. Southwest? “This is not 2008. This isn’t a fuel advantage. And nobody is scared of these guys anymore. We certainly aren’t. Look, we can use basic economy to undercut them. They don’t even have the technology to match that.” Ouch. United, which made fat margins on international flying? “They are literally built to be big in what is now the wrong places.” And Delta?  “These guys, if they don’t watch it, could be the new [bankruptcy-era American].” He adds: “Delta was yesterday’s genius. Tomorrow is up for grabs.”
  • Emirates Chief Operating Officer Adel Ahmad Al Redha told Reuters that the airline needs to redefine its strategy in the post-pandemic world. Increasing visitors to Dubai, when borders reopen, will remain critical to the airline’s success. But “surely,” he said, “what used to work for us in the past is not going to work for us going forward.”

    One change coming is a shift to smaller widebodies. For routes where narrowbody flying is more appropriate, a further deepening of cooperation with FlyDubai will help. But Emirates is not in talks to cancel any aircraft orders, including B777-9s that were supposed to start arriving next year — it’s now not clear when Boeing will be ready to deliver them.

    Al Redha did say demand is trending up, with load factors reaching 50% on some flights. But most passengers right now are travelling for emergency reasons. Not until Dubai relaxes travel restrictions in July will Emirates get a true sense of the demand recovery.

Frontier Expects to Grow in 2021

  • Edward Russell of The Points Guy checks in with Frontier’s CEO Barry Biffle, who said he’s pleased with the recovery so far. The ultra-LCC, based in Denver, expects to see flights roughly 70% full this month, significantly higher than what other U.S. airlines are expecting. Biffle said sales nearly doubled when it announced mandatory mask requirements earlier this spring. And it’s still the only U.S. airline checking every traveler’s body temperature before boarding.

    It went a bit too far however, when it said travelers could pay a fee to have the middle seat next to them blocked. Biffle said the policy, which was quickly scrapped after a public outcry, created confusion. But blocking middle seats for a fee was something Frontier was studying even before the pandemic and it would like to reintroduce the idea in the future. By September, the carrier plans to be running about three-quarters of its pre-crisis capacity, which will rise to as high as 90% by year end.

    With nine A320 NEOs still arriving this year (down from 15), Frontier is the one U.S. airline expecting to be larger in 2021 than it was in 2019. Its Q1 financial results, as recently-released government data show, were not good. It had the worst operating margins of any U.S. airline last quarter in fact. But with lots of capacity in outdoor leisure destinations like Florida, Arizona, and the mountain states, it’s been well positioned in the current recovery. That recovery, however, is now threatened by raging Covid outbreaks across the U.S. Sun Belt. What will happen moreover, when the natural summer peak fades to the always-much-quieter fall? And will the fall see a second wave of outbreaks in northern markets like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle?

    In a separate interview with Spirit’s CEO Ted Christie, Russell writes that the Florida-based LCC will operate one of the most robust domestic schedules among U.S. carriers in July, intending to fly about 86% of what it flew last year.
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Fleet

  • It’s certainly not a short-term priority for airlines right now. But the revival of supersonic intercontinental air travel, this time with more economic logic, remains under development. Colorado’s Boom is one leading developer, whose work continues unabated thanks to long-term funding. As its CEO Blake Scholl tells Aviation Week, Boom hopes to launch demonstration flights next year, with a smaller “XB-1” test version of its Overture model, the latter to cruise at 1,400 miles per hour.

    A B787 by comparison cruises at about 560 miles per hour. Scholl calls it the first new airliner for the post-pandemic world, and one that’s getting more attention from key aerospace suppliers. A key challenge though, will be offering supersonic flights in an environmentally sustainable manner, in terms of both carbon emissions and noise. Boom hopes alternative fuels will help with the former. And flying mostly trans-oceanic flights will ease concerns about the latter. If XB-1 test flights prove successful, Overture test flights could follow sometime in the middle of this decade.
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Landing Strip

  • Philadelphia International Airport is waiving some landing fees as part of its Covid-19 Air Service Recovery and Incentive Program. The program is aimed at restoring air service and attracting new flights. A tiered program, it waives fees for new international service and for new entrant carriers serving existing routes. On the domestic side, the program waives landing fees for one year for West Coast, Hawaii, and Alaska routes, as well as for new entrants on any route. The incentives also extend to cargo carriers operating underserved routes.
  • Munich airport is slowly re-opening. Flights can resume to Terminal 1 on July 8. The airport had been operating flights only out of Terminal 2 during the height of the pandemic. It now says operations have increased to the point that Terminal 1 is required to handle the traffic and to ensure public health measures are observed. About 200 cargo and passenger flights per day now operate from Munich, and traffic has increased to 10,000 daily passengers. The airport expects flights to increase to 250 daily flights early next month.
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State of the Unions

  • As layoffs loom in the U.S., airlines north of the border are shrinking too. WestJet, based in Calgary, announced a downsizing plan that will affect 3,333 of its workers. The airline is consolidating its call center activity, outsourcing more airport staffing. It’s also shrinking its management team. WestJet was a publicly traded airline for most of its life. But just last year (talk about bad timing), an investment firm called Onex bought the carrier and took it private.

    Generally speaking, low-cost carriers are relatively well positioned to endure the current Covid crisis. But WestJet generates a large amount of its revenue from international flights to the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, to speak nothing of the B787 routes it started flying to Europe.

    International flying to and from Canada remains largely closed, to the dismay of the country’s airlines. WestJet was also chasing corporate business pre-crisis, a strategy ill-suited for the moment. On the other hand, its ultra-low-cost carrier Swoop could serve it well.  
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Routes and Networks

  • Why is Google one of the world’s most valuable companies? Because it knows everything about everyone, so much so that it can predict and sway people’s shopping behavior. And for that, companies — including airlines — will pay in gold. Carriers already pay big bucks to display their websites before the eyes of would-be fliers Googling travel information. Some advertise on Google’s YouTube platform as well. Some sell tickets via Google Flights.

    But now, as Skift’s Dennis Schaal reports, airlines are turning to Google for help in deciding which grounded routes to restart. In normal times, airlines weighing whether to launch a new route from say, Toulouse to London, would look at economic and demographic data in both cities. They’d look at how many people were flying between those two cities via a connection. They might use booking or traffic data sold by global distribution systems or IATA. They’d look at competition in the market. They’d talk to key corporate customers in the prospective market. And so on.

    But the Covid crisis renders much of this information useless, as easyJet mentioned with respect to its revenue management algorithms. Google, though, is now providing a product called Flight Demand Explorer. Launched in March, ahead of schedule in response to Covid-era needs, the tool provides carriers data on consumer intent based on travel searches. This indeed helps greatly in deciding which routes to restart. Dozens of airlines are now using the tool, Schaal writes, as are some online travel agencies (OTAs).

    One final note about Google: Though it never itself became an official seller of airline tickets (to the relief of GDSs and OTAs), it did buy the airline pricing software company ITA in 2011. It thus still powers the flight shopping on about a dozen airline websites, including those of Air Canada, Delta, American, United, Iberia, Latam, Turkish Airlines, China Southern, and China Eastern.
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Covid Crisis 2020

  • It’s arguably the airline industry’s most important issue right now: When and how will governments reopen their borders? It’s even important to mostly domestic carriers, given the internal border restrictions now prevailing within some countries like Canada and Australia. In the U.S.  New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, early epicenters for the pandemic, are now mandating 14-day quarantines for travelers arriving from states that meet certain criteria (nine state currently, including Florida which earlier imposed quarantines on New York-area travelers. The European Union, meanwhile, consisting of 27 sovereign countries, is opening internal borders to varying degrees and on varying timetables. The U.K., which recently exited the E.U., continues to maintain strict quarantines, albeit with some easing to come. Other countries have Covid testing requirements. Tourism, keep in mind, is vital to many European economies, and not just tourism from within the continent.

    The E.U., for its part, is now debating which visitors to welcome from overseas, with the U.S. posing a vexing challenge. The U.S. is said to be on the list of countries the E.U. is considering banning. There’s no decision yet for allowing Americans to visit, but medically damned if you do, economically damned if you don’t. The U.S. has one of the worst Covid outbreaks anywhere in the world, and one that’s getting worse in much of the country, not better. In any event, it’s a huge topic of concern for IATA as it advocates on behalf of airlines. It’s arguing strenuously against quarantines.
  • What’s at stake if Americans aren’t welcomed to Europe this summer?  Not just dashed dreams of languid August afternoons on a Greek island beach. A ban could have dire repercussions for airlines on both sides of the ocean, many banking on at least some transatlantic leisure travel to resume this summer (think of how rough this would be for Virgin Atlantic). Although most carriers have scaled back their transatlantic routes, the first signs of a recovery were showing. The E.U.’s likely move was met with dismay in the U.S., with travel industry groups arguing against such draconian measures.
  • Dubai is planning to reopen to business and leisure travelers on July 7. Visitors will have to comply with health and safety regulations, and Emirates has said it will adhere to strict public-health standards, including requiring masks. Egypt is another country planning to reopen its tourist sector to foreigners from selected countries. Singapore and Malaysia are establishing protocols for cross-border travel. And so on. But in another manifestation of Covid’s toughness to beat, cases are now reappearing in Australia, South Korea, and other champions of the resistance (not in Taiwan though, the most successful resistance fighter of all). Hawaii too, has had some new cases despite strict quarantine measures. It will proceed with relaxing those measures though, implementing a testing program on Aug. 1. Passengers that test negative for Covid-19 within three days of entering the Aloha state won’t have to quarantine anymore.  

Australasia

  • Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Virgin Australia is now in the hands of Bain Capital, a Boston-based firm. It beat out Cyrus, a rival U.S. investment firm associated with Richard Branson, and a late attempt by bondholders to convert their debt claims to an ownership stake. There’s still a lot unclear about Bain’s intentions, and with whom it will partner. One report suggested Branson might still be involved financially. Another said the Queensland state government will hold a stake in the revamped Virgin. What will the airline’s new business model be? How many jobs will disappear? The sale still requires creditor approval in a vote scheduled for August. Assuming all goes smoothly, it will have been a remarkably quick process from filing for court protection to finding a buyer.
  • As its national rival attempts a revival, the flying kangaroo is cutting costs anew. Qantas, with a history of highly effective out-of-court restructurings, is attempting its biggest one yet, announcing a three-year $10b plan to survive in the radically-altered post-pandemic world. Some of the cost reductions will come just from merely flying less and using less fuel. Regrettably, at least 6k jobs will go permanently, separate from the 15k currently on furlough (many of which are associated with international flying, which likely won’t recover in any meaningful way before mid-2021).

    Qantas also seeks savings from supplier contracts and fleet plan changes, including the deferral of some B787-9 and A321 NEO deliveries. All 12 of the carrier’s A380s will be grounded for the foreseeable future. Its remaining B747-400s will be grounded forever. The new plan will entail about $700m in up-front costs. But liquidity is in high supply, all the more so if it gets the $1.3b it’s seeking from a new stock offering. Qantas, make no mistake, is one of the best-positioned airlines in the post-pandemic world, especially so among carriers with large intercontinental networks. Those won’t be producing profits anytime soon, for anyone. But one of the kangaroo’s giant advantages is its lucrative domestic network, which was producing the lion’s share of its air transport profits even before the crisis. Add to this an even higher-margin loyalty program, whose points remain in strong demand even today. As CEO Alan Joyce explains, “almost two-thirds of our pre-crisis earnings came from the domestic market, which is likely to recover fastest, particularly as state borders prepare to open.”

    Australia happens to be one of the leading success stories in terms of controlling the virus, some new cases in Victoria last week notwithstanding. And demand on routes catering to commodity firms is holding up relatively well, with Qantas operating about three quarters of its normal capacity to such markets. Overall, it’s only flying 15% of its normal domestic capacity right now, including Jetstar. But a year from now, that should rise to 70%. And two years from now, domestic flying will be fully restored. International flying, on the other hand, is projected to be half what it was even during its fiscal year ending in June 2022. Not until mid-September at the earliest will Australians be permitted to travel abroad. “It will take years before international flying returns to what it was,” the airline said.

    Qantas, meanwhile, is talking to Canberra about extending the JobKeepers program that subsidizes furloughed workers. The government hasn’t provided much direct aid, aside from about $500m in relief to the airline industry at large, and another $140m or so to support regional routes. Other examples of aid include refunds and waivers for certain taxes and fees. As for its fiscal year to June 2020 (that ends this week), the airline expects to break even or perhaps earn a small profit excluding taxes and special items.

    Looking ahead, the company isn’t providing any financial forecasts. But it sees the crisis as a good opportunity to restructure, and a catalyst to significant permanent structural changes for the whole industry. Just a few months ago, it was planning not big job cuts but big job growth, as it added new planes, developed a new joint venture with American, revamped its distribution strategy, and targeted ultra-longhaul nonstops from Australia’s east coast to London and New York.

North America

  • It’s another fundraising frenzy in the U.S., where airlines continue to buffer their balance sheets with more and more cash. It means billions in additional debt. It risks losing prized assets used as lending collateral. It causes a financial hit to existing shareholders. But scarred by past bankruptcies, carriers want to do everything possible to avoid another trip to the courts — even if that means overcompensating with too much cash. Better too much than not enough.

    American certainly thinks so, as it announced another multi-billion-dollar financing drive last week, selling more stocks and bonds. The latest bonds the carrier is offering, to be clear, are considered “junk” by credit raters, even though collateralized by various slots, gates, and route rights. As a result, American will be forced to pay a high interest rate. It will use some of the new money to repay more expensive loans it took earlier in the year. But most will be used to solidify the company’s liquidity position.

    In conjunction with the offerings, American told investors that Q2 revenues will be down about 90% y/y, but also that it’s extinguished nearly $14b from its operating and capital spending budget for 2020. These cuts, together with improving demand conditions, have helped thin daily cash burn to roughly $40m in June. It was forecasting a daily cash burn of $50m this month.

    In somewhat of a gamble, American is ungrounding planes and restarting flights more aggressively than either United or Delta, encouraged by positive trends across the booking curve. And last week, it scrapped caps on the number of seats it will sell on each flight, even as its DFW and Miami hubs stand at the center of the latest viral outbreak. Net bookings are now positive for all seven of the advance purchase windows it monitors (i.e. from 1-to-6 days prior departure, from 7-to-13 days, etc., all the way up to 151-to-331 days prior).

    American, remember, is also taking advantage of a federal CARES Act lending facility, pledging its ultra-lucrative loyalty plan as collateral. Rival United, meanwhile, as discussed in last week’s issue of Skift Airline Weekly, pledged its loyalty plan assets in another private-sector borrowing bonanza.
  • Air Canada too, is raising more money — roughly $900m in fact — through the issuance of bond-like instruments. Having entered the crisis with a credit rating just shy of investment grade, Air Canada managed to raise more than $4b in new financing since the crisis began. That should leave it with close to $7b in liquidity at the end of this month, to close the second quarter.

    At the airline’s annual shareholders meeting last week, CEO Calin Rovinescu expressed frustration, not to so much with Ottawa’s lack of financial aid for airlines, but with its stringent travel restrictions. Canada has done a good job controlling the spread of Covid-19, especially since mid-May.  But it’s still not letting in foreigners (or even returning citizens) without mandatory two-week quarantines. Restrictions on movements across provinces exist as well. Rovinescu wants Ottawa to look to Europe for leadership on opening borders, as Italy, say, has done with countries having low infection rates.

    Looking beyond the current crisis, Air Canada has lots to be excited about, including its new reservation system, its revamped loyalty plan, and its new A220s. It’s still bullish on B737 MAXs as well. But a revival of international travel is critical.  
  • Back below the border, Alaska Airlines is no less keen a fundraiser. It issued nearly $1b worth of bonds secured by a pool of B737-NGs and E175s. And it applied for $1.1b in federal government loans, as provided by the CARES Act. The Seattle-based airline began last week with $2.7b in liquidity but felt the need for more, unclear about what shape the recovery will take. Covid’s extensive spread through the Sun Belt surely adds to the uncertainty, though Alaska still holds hope that demand will continue to improve. If it does, it will add back flying.

    As of now, it expects July ASM capacity to be down 60% y/y, with August down 50%. Load factor this month should be 50% to 55%, up from 40% in May and 15% in April. Total revenue this month, however, will still be down about 80%. Alaska initially parked 169 planes when the crisis hit. This includes 12 A320s that will never come back. When demand merits, it can bring back about five planes per week, with limited maintenance preparation. As for MAXs, Alaska currently expects three to enter service this year, and another 15 next year. By the end of 2020, Alaska will still have 49 A320s and 10 A321 NEOs inherited from Virgin America. Overall, it will start 2021 with 322 planes, growing to 329 by the start of 2022.

    Next topic: Cash burn. For Alaska, the figure for June will be an estimated $150m, equivalent to a modest $5m daily. It did note the rising price of fuel and debt, however, relative to last month. Monthly cash burn, it said, should be down to zero by year end — that’s the goal anyway. Will it require autumn job cuts? For now, 6k workers on voluntary leave.

Europe

  • After a scare, Lufthansa ultimately secured shareholder approval for the devil’s bargain it was forced to make with Germany’s government. It gets a huge financial lifeline, but at the cost of surrendering as much as a quarter of its equity to Berlin. It also leaves Lufthansa with a heap of debt. And to placate competition regulators, it will need to surrender some Frankfurt and Munich airport slots. It was enough to make the company’s top shareholder, a billionaire named Heinz Hermann Thiele, to consider voting against the deal. In the end, he voted yes.

    Lufthansa is hardly out of the woods. It now needs heavy concessions from labor unions. It has already secured concessions from flight attendants. They’ll work fewer hours, for less pay and cuts to their pensions. But the pact saves jobs by adopting leave programs and other voluntary measures. Lufthansa also secured labor concessions at its Brussels Airlines unit, which is separately negotiating aid from Belgium’s government. The group has already received support from the Austrian and Swiss governments, on top of what Germany is providing.

    In other developments, Lufthansa is closing the German arm of its Sun Express joint venture with Turkish Airlines, which flew seven A330s (they’ll transfer to Lufthansa mainline) and 11 B737s (they’ll go to Sun Express in Turkey). Ryanair by the way, is suing to stop Lufthansa’s bailout plan.

East Asia

  • Thai Airways, which filed for bankruptcy-like protection on May 26, is no longer government controlled. But it still has a long road ahead as it tries to restructure, to the satisfaction of the many creditors it stiffed. The carrier blamed not just Covid-19 for its inability to repay debts, but also intense competition and a lack of management flexibility under state ownership. Looking ahead, Thai will prepare a reorganization plan between August and December, after the bankruptcy court gives it a green light. The airline has the right to nominate its own “rehabilitation planners,” which creditors can accept or reject — a rejection would allow them to nominate their own planning team. By the middle of 2021, if all goes to script, creditors will vote on whether to accept whatever new business plan is devised.  

    What will that plan entail? Some key early steps will involve renegotiating debts, cutting chronically unprofitable flights, dropping unproductive planes, optimizing auxiliary business units (i.e. cargo, maintenance, and ground handling), and improving functions like revenue management, distribution, ancillary selling, and technology. The toughest task of all could be the job and pay cuts clearly necessary if Thai is to ever become viable.
  • Thailand’s competitive landscape will surely change, in some ways helpful to Thai Airways. Last week, Singapore Airlines and Nok Air said they’ll close their NokScoot joint venture, which flew a handful of older B777s from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport, an LCC haven. The problem is, NokScoot never made any money, and its two owners don’t see any realistic path to ever doing so. Singapore offered to sell its 49% stake to Nok for a nominal fee. But Nok had no interest. Though it flew widebodies, NokScoot mostly flew to Japan and greater China, markets both reachable from Thailand with narrowbodies.

Latin America

  • An online New York Stock Exchange event gave Gol an opportunity to again reassure investors about its financial capacity to weather the Covid crisis, and its strategic advantages that should position it for success when markets stabilize. The carrier is speaking to the market quite often, trying to allay fears as Latin American airline bankruptcies proliferate.

    Gol says it’s the region’s lowest-cost operation. More than 70% of its tickets, during normal times, cost less than $90. It offers excellent connectivity throughout Brazil, a market still with lots of longterm growth potential. The country’s population is becoming older and wealthier. It has a highly defensible market position with economies of scale, a portfolio of valuable airport slots, and a popular loyalty program. A key advantage is having a controlling shareholder — the Constantino family — committed to keeping Gol solvent. Business passengers account for about half of Gol’s revenues, including those from the 700-plus corporate contracts it has. Around one-fifth of its corporate customers are large multinationals, in sectors like banking, energy, and construction.

    Currently however, most of its passengers are travelling for emergency needs, i.e. doctors dealing with the pandemic. It’s now starting to see a return of some family-visit traffic as well. It’s also seeing Smiles loyalty plan members accounting for a greater share of its total passengers. Even with Brazil experiencing one of the worst Covid outbreaks, Gol has seen week-to-week booking increases of about 20% in the past month or so. It expects to report a load factor of about 70% for June and 80% for July (on significantly reduced capacity of course, with ASKs down 85% this month).

    Management insists it has at least 12 months of cash on hand. It’s negotiated helpful concessions with employees, suppliers, aircraft lessors and banks. Rival bankruptcies, it says, will be helpful in ultimately creating a healthier industry. It sees no meaningful changes in the way Latam, now bankrupt, is competing. What about the new costs associated with cleaning and sanitizing airplanes and airports? It’s not negligible, Gol says, but it’s much less onerous than factors like fuel prices and exchange rates.

    By the end of this year, capacity should be back to about 70% of normal levels. A major theme throughout Latin America is the absence of government support for airlines. Brazilian carriers, however, are negotiating for credit support from the country’s development bank. It’s not something Gol will rely on, or even necessarily take. But it would be nice to have as an option if needed. A deal between airlines and the government could come this week.

    Separately, Brasilia might buy about $20m worth of tickets from airlines for future use, providing additional capital.    

Indian Subcontinent

  • The Indian online travel agency MakeMyTrip, backed by China’s Trip.com, isn’t selling many trips these days. Only earlier this month did India start relaxing restrictions on domestic flights, with international flights still grounded. Delhi says, however, that it will consider some degree of international opening in July, perhaps involving travel bubbles with countries where the virus is well contained. Then again, India itself is suffering severe outbreaks. MakeMyTrip does see the potential for more airline consolidation as the crisis takes its toll.
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Feature Story

The recovery may be starting, but it may not save hundreds of airline jobs.

Throughput at U.S. airport checkpoints, TSA figures show, is rising fast from its April lows. Twice last week, volumes topped 600k, compared to fewer than 90k in mid-April. It’s still a small fraction of what a typical June looks like, but people are indeed traveling more as summer begins. Green shoots, perhaps.

But there’s a reckoning coming.

Airlines may be adding back flights and re-opening routes, but major U.S. carriers say their revenues are about one-quarter what they had planned for the summer. And it could take two or three years for demand to recover to pre-Covid levels, particularly for longhaul international flights. In the meantime, the industry has no choice but to shrink.

When Congress passed the CARES Act stimulus earlier this year, it stipulated that airlines taking federal payroll support funds would have to avoid involuntary layoffs or furloughs through Sept. 30. So for legions of airline workers, winter is coming as that fateful fall date approaches.

Just how much airlines will shrink remains uncertain, even to CEOs. But clues abound from carrier fleet plans. Cowen & Co., an investment firm, said earlier this month that the U.S. fleet could shrink by more than 20% by the start of 2021, a rough guide to the shape of the industry heading into next year.

Cowen estimates that between 800 to 1,000 aircraft in the U.S. fleet might never return to service. Some fleet types will be gone permanently. Delta is retiring its fleet of B777s and MD-80-series aircraft, while American has said all B767s will exit the fleet. Alaska has signaled that part of the A320 fleet it inherited from Virgin America will be retired earlier than planned. And airlines have not exactly been rushing to order new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus (not to mention that hanging over all of this are the continuing B737 MAX travails, which is a dim silver lining in that fleets already were growing more slowly than planned for this year).

Earlier this year, Southwest shocked the airline world when CEO Gary Kelly warned that involuntary furloughs — the first since Herb Kelleher and Rollin King sketched out the carrier’s plans on a cocktail napkin — might be in the offing. Since then, the industry as a whole has come off bottom, with traffic returning. But airlines are pressing ahead with headcount reductions through voluntary separation and buyouts. Details vary from carrier to carrier, and airlines and unions are keeping mum about ongoing negotiations. 

Delta, for its part, is offering cash severance, medical and flight benefits. And last week, the Atlanta-based carrier notified its pilot union that it could furlough 2,500 pilots later this year. United is aiming to reduce its management and administrative staff by 30% and more than 1,300 have taken the carrier up on its offer of cash and benefits. Southwest is avoiding the involuntary furloughs Kelly warned about and is offering two options: Extended unpaid leave or voluntary separation, which includes generous cash severance, flight benefits, and at least one year of medical benefits. American continues to trim its union and non-union workforces through buyouts and early retirements, and CEO Doug Parker says the company’s “stretch goal” is to avoid involuntary furloughs and layoffs after Oct. 1, while warning that the carrier doesn’t know what size it will be. JetBlue made news this month when a leaked memo said 300 employees could be laid off after Oct. 1.

Notably, there are exceptions, as the pandemic has affected network carriers more harshly than leisure-focused LCCs. Allegiant has said its ultra-low-cost business model and leisure network has afforded it relative strength and therefore does not foresee the need for further reductions in its labor force beyond the pay cuts and voluntary leaves many of its staff have taken. Hawaiian also is taking a wait-and-see approach on reductions, but that is driven by its home state’s strict quarantine rules. And Frontier also said that it had offered voluntary separation, but it now does not forecast needing to reduce its headcount further.

The Covid pandemic, of course, is a crisis unlike any other in the century of commercial air transport’s existence. In the past 20 years, the industry has weathered the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and a financial crisis, responding with a wave of consolidation. Bankruptcy isn’t likely this time around, as airlines still have access to capital, as a flurry of recent stock, bond, and asset sale transactions clearly show. No U.S. airline is anywhere close to running low on cash.

This pandemic is especially different, though, for employees. For one, unlike in past crises the pandemic has brought the global airline industry to its knees, and no part of the world has been immune. After the two prior industry shocks, U.S. pilots, flight attendants, and other skilled professionals could leave the U.S. to take highly paid jobs with fast-growing Gulf carriers, Asian carriers, Latin American carriers and so on. Pilots also had the option to fly for cargo airlines as international trade expanded. Both of these relief valves are gone.  This, as it happens, gives U.S. management teams a stronger hand when negotiating with unions.

For unions themselves, the willingness to accept concessionary contracts, beyond voluntary separations, is low given the absence of the bankruptcy threat to force their hand. In addition, they see more potential relief in Washington, looking to the federal government to provide another round of protection. A coalition of unions is now calling on Congress to extend the CARES Act payroll support through March 2021, warning that “mass layoffs” will occur in October without the additional funding. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing American’s pilots is going further, proposing that the government support airlines by buying seats and leaving them empty, to ensure social distancing. It remains unclear if Congress or the Trump administration have the political will or appetite now for further stimulus programs, although the trajectory of the pandemic and the ensuing economic disruption will impact their calculus.

Given that further government aid remains uncertain, bankruptcy isn’t an option, and lucrative foreign employment (for pilots) is no longer an escape valve, unions have had to be creative in their negotiations with management. Most unions and airlines contacted for this story declined to provide finer details of the packages they’re negotiating, citing ongoing talks. But larger themes emerge. “The old playbook is gone,” an APA spokesman said.

The old playbook usually resulted in the most junior and least well-paid employees being struck off the roster first. On the plus side economically speaking, that left airlines with their most experienced workers. On the down side, it left them with a more expensive workforce. And this is less of an option this time around, as airlines ground their widebodies, and thus have less need for their most expensive pilots. APA said the early-out deal it struck with American saw 800 widebody captains opt out permanently, with another 4,000 or so choosing various forms of leave. This had the benefit of not only reducing American’s costs but also providing job and career advancement opportunities for junior captains and first officers to move to the other seat on the carrier’s widebodies, APA said. Leaving the most junior narrowbody workforce in place also allows American to best match its workforce to demand, since domestic shorthaul demand is coming back sooner than longhaul international.

Another argument unions have against returning to bankruptcy-era concessionary contracts is that the price of fuel is at near-historic lows. In addition, airline revenues are more diversified now with ancillary offerings. And capital markets continue to lend and invest, showering airlines with mountains of cash, albeit mountains of debt as well — that’s an issue for another day. The point is, U.S. airlines do not face any imminent risk of bankruptcy or collapse if they don’t achieve immediate labor concessions. And that weakens their negotiating position.

It also means they can move slowly, and sure enough, airlines and most unions say they’re waiting to see what the landscape will look like after Oct. 1 before making any permanent changes to collective bargaining agreements. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), for one, put on ice its talks with management over a new contract, after starting negotiations earlier this year.

In another change from the bankruptcy era (or almost any other era in airline labor relations), unions and management are playing nice and by all accounts are working together to stem the losses. Everyone agrees that workforces will be smaller. It’s just a question of how to get there, and airlines are allowing unions to suggest what methods of shrinking and cost-saving work best for their members.

Helpfully, early-out packages and temporary leave without pay — both voluntary — are useful tools in reducing headcount in a less disruptive way. Make no mistake though: These tools are not without risk. On the one hand, airlines can cut costs by reducing the number of their most well-paid employees. But this could result in the most productive, experienced, skilled, and talented employees, with the best job prospects elsewhere, lining up first to take their buyout packages and flee. What’s more, when the recovery begins, airlines could be left without the human resources necessary to spool up — this could give an advantage to rivals like the Allegiants of the world who aren’t planning to dramatically downsize their staffing. Similarly, workers that take leaves of absence could opt never to come back, and even if they do, could take weeks or months of re-training to be ready to work again. There’s a risk, in other words, that airlines will overshoot in their autumn zeal to downsize.  

But is there an upside to this situation? For some, possibly. Airlines that see a quick return to growth, like Allegiant, could hoover up talent let go by other airlines. Second, fuel is cheap, hundreds of used aircraft are on the market, capital markets are open, and airlines are cutting back routes and not using all their slots at constrained airports (JetBlue for one could get access to London slots much easier than it ever expected). With loads of available airline talent, furthermore, the time might even be ripe for a new entrant to capitalize on these trends. David Neeleman’s Breeze is one that’s watching.

But like much else in this pandemic, uncertainty looms especially large, in labor markets no less than in other realms of the sector. The demand recovery is itself becoming increasingly uncertain, with Covid flare-ups in more than half of all states causing a new round of restrictions on businesses and even quarantine measures among states. The bullishness of just a few weeks ago, alas, was perhaps premature. Some airlines that recently reversed course, saying they’d shrink less than originally planned, are now returning to earlier, more dire predictions.

The pandemic’s increasing spread in the U.S. could indeed spur the federal government to pass another stimulus measure, potentially saving more airline jobs, if temporarily. As of now though, a winter labor lashing looms, starting Oct. 1.

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Around the World

A look at the world’s airlines, including end-of-week equity prices

Around the World: June 29, 2020

Airline NameChange From Last WeekChange From Last YearComments
American-23%-61%Major U.S. carriers met with VP Pence at White House last week; discussed int’l travel restrictions; virus containment strategies, etc.
Delta-9%-53%Extends load factor caps and middle seat block through Sept.; American by contrast scrapping its capacity caps on July 1
United-11%-62%United CEO among those at White House meeting; top execs from American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue also attended
Southwest-7%-37%Sunbelt Covid spike has disproportionate overlap with Southwest’s network
Alaska-5%-46%McGee Air, a regional airline it wholly owns in the state of Alaska, struck deal with gov’t this month to get $30m in payroll funding
JetBlue-10%-44%In a reversal, New York and nearby states now asking visitors from Florida and other current outbreak states to quarantine on arrival
Hawaiian-14%-50%Hawaii records first Covid-19 death since early May; 18 dead overall in state;
Spirit-12%-65%Caribbean Airways of Trinidad/Tobago tells lawmakers it lost $14m from March 23 to April 30; was profitable through most of 2019
Frontier(not publicly traded)Had highest average number of seats per domestic departure (191) among all U.S. airlines in 2019 (A4A)
Allegiant-2%-24%Getting even stricter with masks; customers must now wear them not just onboard but also at ticket counter, in gate area, during boarding
SkyWest-9%-47%Washington debating follow-up fiscal stimulus as generous unemployment bonuses set to end next month
Air Canada-9%-59%Will start selling middle seats on flights starting July 1; WestJet will do the same
WestJet(not publicly traded)Swoop, its ultra-LCC, has nine B737-800s; tells Routes it’s postponed plan to add two more this summer
Aeromexico-14%-68%American Express ending its co-branded credit card relationship with Interjet
Volaris-12%-35%Commercial/Ops chief Holger Blankenstein spoke with Skift’s Korey Matthews; says carrier well positioned for recovery
LATAM-9%-82%Chief of Chile’s Sky Airline tells El Cronista he’s not interested in flying domestically in Argentina; has no plans to file for bankruptcy
Gol0%-42%Even though 58% of its sales come via travel agencies, only 5% comes through via traditional GDS channel
Azul-8%-53%Chilean LCC Jetsmart talking to Brazilian regulators about launching domestic flights to challenge Latam, Gol, Azul (Reuters)
Copa-4%-51%Loss-making Caribbean carrier LIAT to be liquidated and re-launched
Avianca-17%-87%Colombian city of Medellin winning praise for its handling of Covid crisis; South America in general seeing large infection spread
Emirates(not publicly traded)One rare carrier that’s returning A380s to the skies; most operators getting rid of their jumbos
Qatar(not publicly traded)Chief strategy officer Thierry Antonori tells The Australian: “Australia has been the most important market for us during Covid-19”
Etihad(not publicly traded)Droves of British expats leaving the U.A.E., reports The Telegraph; many jobs disappearing in tourism, finance, real estate, etc.
Air Arabia5%14%Rival FlyDubai reopens ticket sales; flights resume July 7 starting with 24 destinations (i.e. Beirut, Bucharest, Addis Ababa, Kabul)
Turkish Airlines0%-2%Will restart several key international routes in July including New York, Guangzhou, Tehran
Kenya Airways-1%-31%Estimates roughly $100m in lost revenues due to pandemic so far; could reach $500m by year end
South Africa Air.(not publicly traded)Revival plan again delayed; regional carrier SA Airlink, to whom SAA owes money, not happy with developments
Ethiopian Airlines(not publicly traded)In Nigeria, some politicians still pursuing idea of launching a new national airline, supported by private-sector money
IndiGo0%-35%New FlexPay fare option allows customers to book now, pay majority of what they owe later
Air India(not publicly traded)U.S. DOT criticizes India for alleged unfair treatment of U.S. airlines; claims Air India is selling regular tickets on its repatriation charters
SpiceJet0%-59%Pakistan’s airline industry facing big scandal involving pilots with bogus licenses
Lufthansa-11%-39%Key goal going forward will be reducing the group’s complexity, adding flexibility
Air France/KLM-12%-51%Dutch government approved nearly $4b in financial support for KLM; adds to money Paris already gave to Air France
BA/Iberia (IAG)-18%-51%Still working on controversial job cuts; British Airways plans under fire by some U.K. politicians
SAS-1%-26%Former Wow Air pilot trying to launch new airline called Play Air, reports Bloomberg; would fly A320s within Europe and to N. America
Alitalia(not publicly traded)Headline from Italy’s Linkiesta: “Everyone wants to save Alitalia, but nobody knows how”
Finnair-15%-88%Finland’s airport operator Finavia advancing plans to introduce electric planes for domestic flying
Virgin Atlantic(not publicly traded)Announces more route restarts for Aug (i.e. Miami, San Fran, Tel Aviv, Lagos) but depends on travel restrictions easing; either way, selling flights nets it cash
easyJet-18%-28%Cancelled about 18k flights in March, the final month of its winter half; Milan the first big European market to feel the impact of Covid
Ryanair-10%4%Rival Jet2 cutting jobs; pushing back restart date to July 15 as U.K. travel restrictions/quarantine requirements remain
Norwegian-6%-92%Norway opening borders and removing quarantines (for some European countries) on July 15; Norwegian recalling 600 workers in anticipation
Wizz Air-8%-5%Romania’s capital Bucharest its latest expansion market; announced eight new Bucharest routes last week
Aegean-4%-51%Some countries like Austria establishing barriers to low-cost carriers, i.e. price floors
Aeroflot-3%-22%Russian market share by Q1 traffic, incl. int’l: Aeroflot 43%, S7 14%, Ural 7%, Utair 6%, foreign carriers 11%
S7(not publicly traded)Borrowed about $40m from major Russian bank VTB, with government backing, according to local reports
Japan Airlines-8%-43%HIS, a major travel agency chain in Japan, closing roughly a third of its outlets
All Nippon-7%-31%Peach resumed all of its domestic routes on June 19 in some cases with reduced frequencies; all pre-crisis frequencies returning July 22
Korean Air-8%-39%Jeju Air’s plan to buy control of fellow LCC Eastar appears to be fizzling, according to local media reports
Cathay Pacific-4%-33%Does Hong Kong airport still need a third runway? Some questioning the project in wake of Covid shock
Air China-6%-39%All three of China’s big state-owned carriers took delivery of their first Chinese-built Comac ARJ21; designed for regional routes
China Eastern-1%-32%At Taiwan’s China Airlines, temporary pay cuts end next month; carrier not considering layoffs (Focus Taiwan)
China Southern0%-33%China’s Big Three lost a combined total of $2.3b net in the turbulent first quarter
Singapore Airlines-5%-59%Rival Jetstar Asia, an LCC in Singapore backed by Qantas, cutting a quarter of its workforce
Malaysia Airlines(not publicly traded)Extending some of its more flexible domestic fare products across wider parts of its network
AirAsia-4%-69%Media reports hint at possibility of AirAsia abandoning its unprofitable joint ventures in India and Japan
Thai Airways-4%-64%Thai government setting up committee to monitor airline’s restructuring and offer advice
VietJet-1%-13%Announced several new routes last week, in both Vietnam and Thailand; Danang a particular focus
Cebu Pacific0%-54%AirAsia Philippines restarted a handful of domestic routes in June; more coming in July
Qantas-13%-30%Carried 56m passengers last year; for perspective, Australia’s population is about 25m (13m people are Qantas loyalty plan members)
Virgin Australia0%-46%Will Singapore Airlines, a former shareholder, still play a role in Virgin’s revival? Was an important joint venture partner as well
Air New Zealand-15%-52%Air Fiji has no plans to restart international flying until August at the earliest; hopes Fiji will establish open air links with Australia, NZ
Brent Crude Oil-3%-38%Low point for Brent crude was April 21, when price hit $9 per barrel; now $40

Some stocks traded on multiple exchanges; not intended for trading purposes.

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