Issue No. 890

Slot Machine

EasyJet Profits on Growth at Slot-Controlled Airports

Pushing Back: Inside the Issue

Last week ended with West Texas Intermediate oil prices roughly at the $80 mark, a reasonably comfortable level for airlines. If the reason for cheaper oil, of course, is a slowing global economy, then the gains could be erased on the revenue side. For now, though, most airlines say demand continues to flourish.

Scandinavia’s SAS for one — never mind the pilot strike it suffered this summer — says revenue growth is now outpacing cost growth. Even so, the bankrupt airline suffered a lousy August-to-October quarter (operating results were negative). In better shape is EasyJet, whose solid spring and summer profits stem from privileged positions at slot-controlled airports like London Gatwick and Lisbon, plus strong ancillary performance and a fast-growing package tour business. But to paraphrase what Senator Lloyd Bentsen once said to his debate foe Dan Quayle: EasyJet, you’re no Ryanair. Indeed, the latter produces much higher margins.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific is still looking to get its margins back to black, as passenger demand finally starts to reawaken. In India, the Air India-Vistara merger is confirmed, with Singapore Airlines playing a major role. AirAsia and AirAsia X, meanwhile, are themselves looking to merge. Other pending mergers await regulatory clearance, including IAG-Air Europa, Korean Air-Asiana, JetBlue-Spirit, and Avianca-Viva Air.   

In other developments, United is opening new pilot bases to boost operational resiliency. Yet another airline is jumping into the New York-Paris market. Boeing hopes to finally secure approval for the -7 and -10 versions of its 737 Max product. Rolls-Royce, working with EasyJet, announced progress on hydrogen-powered engines.

Third quarter earnings season is now finished, but don’t look away. Several airlines — Delta and Southwest, for example — will host investor day events this month.

Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

EasyJet is making good on its recovery plan. From expanding at slot-constrained airports like Lisbon and opening new seasonal bases in Greece, the airline is on its way back to the black. Plus, the Air India-Vistara merger. Listen to this week’s episode to find out. A full archive of the 'Lounge is here.

Weekly Skies

Air India and Vistara are to merge under a deal between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines that also secures the latter’s foothold in the rapidly growing aviation market. The combination, which has been speculated about for months, will solidify Air India's position…

Sky Money

Air Lease Corp. priced a $700 million senior unsecured issue with an interest rate of 5.85 percent last week. The medium-term notes are due in December 2027. ALC will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including purchasing aircraft and…

Routes and Networks

New Yorkers must be dying to get to Paris next summer. Long-haul, low-cost Norse Atlantic Airways is the latest to debut new flights between the cities with plans for a daily New York JFK-Paris Charles de Gaulle service on a…

State of the Unions

United will open new pilot bases in Florida and Nevada next spring, in a move that comes as contact negotiations with its pilots union, ALPA, continue after crews rejected an initial agreement in November.


Delta quietly introduced the first of 33 used Boeing 737s formerly flown by Lion Air in November. The first, registered N951DX, of the fleet of 737-900ERs entered service between Atlanta and Panama City, Fla., on November 18, according to FlightRadar24. Delta…

Feature Story

In the rabidly competitive airline industry, profits don’t come easy. Europe’s low-fare giant EasyJet, however, has found a way.

By the Numbers

Airlines are ranked by operating margins for the July-to-September 2022 period, or calendar third quarter, excluding special accounting items.