Issue No. 783

Mountain Market Muscle

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

On Sept. 11, 2001, the French newspaper Le Monde, expressing solidarity with the American people, famously wrote “We’re all Americans now.” Last week, on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. airlines face a new and even graver assault on their industry, albeit one they’re in much better financial shape to endure. As they seek near-term recovery by chasing price-sensitive leisure and family-visit demand, even the Uniteds, Americans, and Deltas of the world are chanting: “We’re all low-cost carriers now.”

As all U.S. carriers adopt tactics pioneered by the likes of Southwest and Allegiant, demand is mercifully getting a bit better. Everyone’s cautious to be sure, after deflated hopes that followed earlier green shoots this spring. But U.S. domestic and even shorthaul international bookings are in fact showing signs of life again. Even so, the next six to nine months will in all likelihood be rough. It’s just a question of how rough, in the remaining period before vaccinations hopefully end the crisis once and for all.

Some U.S. carriers are nevertheless using this period of darkness to light new strategic fires. United surprisingly announced a bevy of new overseas routes launching in 2021, all targeted toward family-visit demand (with cargo also top of mind). JetBlue, perhaps the most strategically active U.S. airline during the crisis, itself announced another onslaught of new routes, several targeting at United’s Newark hub.

As U.S. shorthaul demand shows some upward momentum, Europe’s airlines by contrast, saw bookings slow as summer turned to fall. Quarantines are the key driver, imposed abruptly and inconsistently, airlines say. In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen Covid infections slow from extremely high levels, while Europe has seen cases rise from more moderate levels. Spain, the Florida of Europe in terms of tourist demand, is Europe’s leading hotspot. France and the U.K. are likewise seeing outbreaks.  

Throughout much of East Asia, the virus has been better contained. But that’s little consolation to Singapore Airlines, whose all-international network remains largely shuttered. Inevitably, the carrier last week announced major job cuts.


“The customers will be back very, very fast, especially in the VFR and leisure market… And we know by experience, going through all those crises, that as soon as the people feel comfortable, they will start to travel a lot.”

Transat Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Eustache, referring to "visiting friends and relatives" travel.


April-June (3 Months)

  • Nok Air: -$25m; -66%

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

Airline Weekly Lounge Live

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Weekly Skies

Most reporting airlines have already issued their calendar Q2 statements. India’s SpiceJet will belatedly do so this week. Also this week, U.S. government data will show figures for Frontier and Sun Country. Greece’s Aegean will report at the end of…


Air New Zealand is grounding its fleet of seven B777-300s and eight B777-200s until September 2021, the carrier said. Recovery from the Covid pandemic is taking longer than expected, and it remains uncertain when longhaul traffic will return to pre-pandemic…

Landing Strip

Amid all this grim pandemic-related news, there is a bright spot. Western Sydney International Airport is close to awarding the contract to build a new terminal. The airport is expected to open in 2026, and aims to be the airport…


American Airlines’ decision to eliminate ticket-change fees for domestic and near-international flights was aimed to adapt to the changing demographics of its passengers. Although the airline announced its new policy the same week as United and Delta, Chief Customer Officer…

State of the Unions

Singapore Airlines, hobbled by the near disappearance of international and business travel, bowed to reality and said it would eliminate 4,300 jobs. Of these 2,400 will be lay offs and furloughs, with the balance accounted for through attrition, retirements, and a hiring…

Routes and Networks

In 2020, network planning is mostly a game of addition by subtraction. With demand so sparse, airlines are cutting routes more than they’re launching new ones. But it’s starting to reach the point of the year when carriers need to…

Covid Crisis 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the airline industry could be ready to air ship billions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, when they’re ready to be administered, but only if governments around the world coordinate now on transport policies.The…

Feature Story

There’s nothing particularly flattering about their pandemic-era traffic trends. In July (the most recent month for which data are available) Denver and Salt Lake City airports saw y/y traffic declines of 61% and 65%, respectively. Cataclysmic by normal standards. By…

Around the World

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