Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 1606 times:
According to Flight International, Sabena regional airline company, DAT, is looking for Embrear regional jets.DAT would take over some routes from main-line Sabena and fly these routes with the smaller jets. To avoid overcapacity, Sabena has stopped the purchase of Airbus A320-family aircraft. The fact that this news it true can be confirmed by the fact that the former head of charter company Air Belgium is now head of DAT. He had even before proposed plans to fly with a low cost Air Belgium with Embrears to destinations for Sabena. Sabena did not accept this offer however but it seems that they saw something in the plans of this man, called Vanneste, because they named him head of DAT.
This means that we can be quite sure that Sabena
-will not only postpone but really cancel the delivery of the remaining A320-aircraft;
-will order small regional jets to cut capacity but keep the frequency. Embrear regional jets are favoured at the moment.
-DAT, the regional daughter of Sabena, will take over routes from mainline Sabena.
Whether or not jobs will dissapear remains an open question. Some people, also in newspapers, talk about the loss of 4000 jobs, 1 third of the number of employees of Sabena today. If Sabena intends to fly smaller jets, this would cause some losses for the F/A as fewer are needed to fly these planes.
Within the coming weeks, we should get more info, also on what is going to happen between Sabena and Swissair. It is as fact that they are growing apart more and more. The only thing they will keep doing together untill now is the shared office for ticketing all over the world. The departements responsible for routes, marketing and finances are going to separate. Not much is left than and a divorce would be an easy thing. Whether a new partner, for example AA, will join Swissair or Sabena, is also an open question. I think however that with its good European network, Sabena could be a good partner to feed flights for other airlines flying long-haul out of Brussels. An independent Sabena has, however, no real future.
Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Reply 3, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 1402 times:
From Corssiar? Does Crossair have too much planes? I did not know that. And again, its stays within the SAir Group. Why? Has not Swissair earned enough money on the back of Sabena yet (or shouldn't I say this?) Well, I hope they will by regional jets and the planes Crossair will sell to replace with the Embrears. Have you got any information about what kind of planes they are going to buy?
Lumumba From Belgium, joined Mar 2001, 369 posts, RR: 1 Reply 5, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 1391 times:
It's not very clear but i think there speaking about Embrear's.
Also it's a very chort article so there is no more information.
Let's see what is gooing to happen with or national company in 2 weeks of so?
Let's hoop there is still somme hoop!
American 767 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3514 posts, RR: 13 Reply 7, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 1372 times:
Sndp, what do you think Sabena will do with its remaining 737's? I think they may keep them for a few more years now that they plan to cancel the delivery of 15 additional A319/320/321. In my opinion, they should keep the few 737's that they have left.
Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Reply 8, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 1364 times:
Well, it is kind a difficult to answer that question at the moment, but here is my opinion.
It seems that Sabena canceled the remaining Airbusses (untill now they actually just postponed the delivery but it is expected that they will cancel the order) to reduce capacity. Muller wants to reduce capacity but not the frequencies on the routes served today. So, what he needs are smaller planes flying these routes and, as some of the latest events seem to indicate, these would be flown by DAT with Embrear's.
The question is whether not replacing the Boeings, most of them -300s and some -500s, is enough to reduce capacity. The Boeings have fewer seats than the Airbus A319s that were still on order. So, does Muller wants to cut capacity by just keeping the Boeings instead of flying with Airbusses or is the plan still to sell the Boeings and replace them, not as planned by A319s, but by regional jets.
My opinion is that the Boeings will be sold. That will give Sabena some cash to buy the regional jets in the first place. On the other hand, it is quite sure that regional jets will enter the fleet, of Sabena but probably of DAT. If Sabena keeps the Boeings, they will have Airbusses, Boeings, probably Embrear's and Avro jets, so 4 types of aircraft (I consider the A320 and A330/A340 as almost the same family which is the case). 4 types of aircraft means very expensive operations, certainly if you know the plans were 2 types, the Airbusses and Avro's. So, I think we will see Airbusses, Embrear's and Avro's within this and a couple of years.
But, this is just my opnion and do not think more of it than this. All depends on what kind of future is ahead for Sabena. And until now, Muller has been very good in keeping his plans secret. Or maybe he does not even know it himself.
Let me know what you think of this? Are these possible plans or do you expect something else?
American 767 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3514 posts, RR: 13 Reply 9, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 1345 times:
Hi Sndp, tbanks for your response.
Well, I don't understand what Sabena is planning at the moment. As discussed before, Sabena has been in a bad situation in a lot of debt so the order of the remaining Airbus A319/320/321 still to be delivered was posponed and maybe eventually canceled. But, if they are in a such a difficult financial situation, then why do they want to invest more in another type of aircraft? To reduce capacity? Operating an extra aicraft type of a completely different family won't reduce the costs at all. That's why I said that Sabena should have ordered 15, maximum 20, Airbus A319's and placed more A319/320/321's ON OPTION. Why did they order so many of those? Because Swissair was going for an all Airbus fleet, if Sabena wasn't married to Swissair, they would have considered operating the Boeing 737 for several more years.
No, Sabena should not consider ordering Embraer's, they should:
1. Cancel the firm order of the remaining Airbus and place those ON OPTION. If Sabena is concerned about overcapacity, then they should not consider buying more A321's, they should look at more A319/A320's and maybe A318's.
2. Keep the 737-300/500's. They are still young, aren't they? I'm sad to see the Sabena 737's disappearing.
3. Keep the Avro's.
4. Stay away from Swissair.
Three aircraft types? OK, that's what they still have for the moment, but in my opinion if they follow that plan, they (Sabena) progressively get out of their debt and have more chances to survive. In a few years from now, I would say 2007/2008, when the 737-300/500's approach their retirement time, then Sabena will consider ordering more Airbus A319/320/321's. The Avros's will also start showing their age.
So what will Sabena be like next decade? An all Airbus airline financially stable, with American Airlines as their partener in the United States. The fleet will consist of A319/320/321's, maybe the A318, and A330/A340's.
I like Sabena. I recently flew with them on an A320 from Paris to Brussels and I found their service on board to be very good even on a short flight. They have nice flight attendants. What is wrong with them is mananging the finances and fleet plans in the long run.
That's my opinion. I've said what I think of Sabena, I've been clear.
Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Reply 11, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1331 times:
Well, Ben, as I mentioned the scenario you give is plausible. maybe Sabena decides just to postpone the deliery of the remaining Airbusses, let's say to beyond 2005 and keep the 737s without buying other aircraft. But, the question is again that Sabena has overcapacity on its routes. Their European load factor is still under the average, which means they have to sell seats at a very cheap price. To overcome this problem, they could use smaller aircraft.
I agree with you that it would cost a lot of money to introduce a new type of aircraft. But again, after a while it is cheaper to operate a 50-seater than a 120-seater. And if they keep the 737, these plane will need an interior upgrade as people now expect from Sabena the service standards as on their Airbusses, which means leather seats, TV's in the ceiling and so on.
But, I agree with your plan, that should be very good, but I doubt whether Muller will go for it, a again, capacity is not really reduced that way.
To end, Sabena did not plan to add more A321s. They have 3 in service and that"s it. I think 5 A320s were planned and the rest would have been A319s. Whether it would be a good idea to operate the A318, I don't know. As you know, landing fees in Europe are based on aircraft weight, and the reduction in aircraft weight between an A319 and A318 is not that big. It is a heavy aircraft in its class to operate. Though the fleet commonality would make it all right. But the 737-500 has just a few seats more than the A318, so maybe they better keep that one for a while than.
Pothiabs From United States of America, joined May 2001, 114 posts, RR: 0 Reply 12, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1324 times:
About Crossair :
They ordered 25 ERJ145s, 30 ERJ170s and 30 ERJ190-200s, mainly to replace their turboprop aircraft.
SR and SN both cancelled or delayed aircraft orders, but NOT Crossair !
IMHO, the Crossair orders will be divided amongst Crossair and DAT, so the "low-cost" operators can continue to grow.
Someone mentioned "Sabena wil SELL the 737s", but all these aircraft are placarded to be Leased or even Subleased, so unfortunately no cash to be found there.
A comparative study is now made to determine which aircraft will be withdrawn from the fleet :
1. Leasing costs
2. Operating costs
3. CREW costs
4. How many flights and destinations justify a A321 or B737-300,...
5. How flexible can they operate when keeping a mixed Boeing-Airbus fleet or operate with just one Boeing or Airbus fleet. ( fleet and crew scheduling )
6. How will the crews react and deal with the SN Business Plan ?! What are the risks in the social field ? What if DAT-crews go following the example of Comair-crews ? What will be the costs to keep a social peace ?
According to the standards, parameters and targets used in the study the result will show a withdrawal of approximately 10 Medium Haul aircraft from the joined 737-320 fleet.
One might think that crews and ground staff will unconditionally accept any Business Plan because SN is on the edge of, but :
SN is on the edge of.... for nearly eighty years now, so it's quite comprehensible that all SN-employees are kind of used to that "on the edge" feeling, and have become quite indifferent to the bad financial situation, information given by the management (be it correct or not) or even threats of closing the company.
Besides the employees that have become indifferent, there are also the ones that keep their eyes and ears wide open. They will also realize that :
1. Brussels ranks amongst the least expensive airports to operate from or for turn-arounds, and is the cheapest of all its neighbouring hubs (AMS, CDG, LHR, FRA). (source = AEA)
2. Fuel prices at BRU are LOW (Sabena tankers fuel on nearly all its EUR flights !) (again :AEA)
3. Gross wages ( Social Charges ) are known to be high in Belgium, but flight crews gross wages are not above the average of SN's European competitors.
4. SN cockpit crews are young (many retirements lately + Carreer plan + recent expansion of fleet). This means that crew wage costs are LOW at this moment.
5. Contrary to what some people think, SN pilots ARE productive : nearly all A320 pilots will simply bust their flat rate this year and end up with 700 - 750 hrs. (not bad at all !)
6. Cabin crews are taken advantage of in all sorts of ways : mixed sector flying, part-timers flying the same amount of hours as full-timers due to no "firewalls", starting crew members fly for free during 2 months ( so-called training, but in the meantime they are operated as fully-qualified ! ), wages are not very attractive (to use an understatement). Imposing cost savings measures is fine, but taking away people's dignity by takning away their crew meals and making them slice the lemons........ ( one can laugh, but in fact it's sad.)
7. Ground staff is also not well-paid, hence the last strike at the Technical department : Sabena had to increase wages of the youngest engineers by 10% to prevent the from leaving the company. Older colleagues were not really pleased with the measure, so : strike.
8. Contrary to how it should be : SN is still receiving financial support from the Government in what you could call "the Belgian way"....
9. Sponsoring, Publicity, Public Relations expenses are practically non-existant at SN compared to other Companies. (SN doesn't even ever wash its aircraft !)
10. SN's Medium Haul fleet is deployed with a rather high Daily Utilization Rate, due to short Turnaround times both in BRU as in outstations. Crew rotation is also often a limiting factor, indicating that crew scheduling is very well optimized.
11. Ground Ops staff has become more and more flexible over the past few years.
Many of the non-indifferent (remember ?) will conclude that if SN is not turning on profit now, the reasons for the continuous losses are to be found elsewhere, in the structure of the company itself, where many people still live like the company is state-owned. Maybe the "4.000 employees too many” figure is not very arbitrary...at least not what "office staff" is concerned.
So the explanation by the SN management that the low load factors are at the origin of the Business Plan is "very thin". This could very well turn out to be Another Plan to cover up the inefficient structure of the company. ("The management is not motivated, there are too many internal conflicts !")
By the way :
Some figures presented recently to the SN-employees are even false !
On some flights the so-called “optimum level of booking is even reached, so SN can improve revenues on those specific flights by 10% by applying upgrading.
Sabena has seen a “total international” load factor increase of 4.1 points in February as to Feb 2000. (European average 1.4, source AEA). A “Reutlinger-Brugisser”-effect with some inertia ?
The investments due to the Reutlinger-Brugisser strategy have nearly all been done, meaning the biggest costs have been made, so a continuation of the present strategy and operations shouldn’t be that risky at all.
Especially not if AA would step into the spotlight. Extensive talks between SN and AA at top-level both in DFW and SFO should be leading somewhere, shouldn’t they ?
“SN should increase its frequencies”
Is BRU airport able to cope with this ?
“SN needs to maintain or improve its quality image”
OK, but what about the Virgin operated flights to BCN, FCO and LHR ?
Concerning the “not motivated management” :
Some substitutions have taken place already, replacing "old crocodiles" by young and competent people (mostly, except for a few).
But there's still a long long way to go, and time is a big enemy, because the ones that feel their substitution is near can and will start working counter-productive, be it to claim their place or to get even with old enemies. This situation is far more explosive than one might estimate !
If by attempting a Tabula Rasa too fast you only take away the cloth and leave the dishes and cutlery and you will seriously damage the table ! A Tabula Rasa should be executed with a slow but firm movement of the arm.
Keep up the flying spirit and hang in there SN-crews !
A small note about the Crossair-orders to end with :
Crossair fleet is already outnumbering the SR Medium Haul fleet (84 aircraft/ 6.000 seats at Crossair against 41 Airbuses / 6.174 seats at Swissair), but with the latest orders of ERJs, they would end up with a 116 aircraft fleet with 10.000 seats ! (props gone). That's quite a lot, so I would say either they will transfer a bunch of ERJs to DAT, or either...they will also considerably reduce the Swissair Medium Haul fleet....!
Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Reply 13, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 1304 times:
I would say thanks for your information, it is quite extensive, though I think you missed some nuances here and there.
Sabena does make publicity, although it has been limited in the past period, and about aircraft utalisation, do not be too optimistic about the DAT fleet during the weekend, a lot of planes are on the ground then and, if there are customers, used for charter flights for groups, VIPS, sport clubs and so on.
About the costs of the workers, social charges are very high in Belgium. The fact that allmost all of Sabena's CEO's have tried to replace the pilots and cabin crews to another country in order to avoid Belgian social charges, proves this. This would give a cost reduction of around 1 billion BEF.
Cabin Crew Trainees work for free all over the world during their first two months of operation. It is not that Sabena has got an advantage here over its competitors.
Brussels Airport used to be quite cheap but they now will start charging transfer passangers. The airport has indeed got place to grow, not that much during certain hours, but it still has room.
The fact that international load factors have increased by over 4% is not due to the fact that Reutlinger or someones else left but just because two flights, the one to New York Newark and the one to Johannesburg were cancelled. Though load factors may have increased, Sabena still has two or three long haul planes on the ground now, and they cannot find anyone to buy them, costing them millions of BEF everyday. But, flying these planes would cost even more.
I agree with you that the pilots, but especially the F/A and the people working on the ground (check-in, ramp handlers, Technics) work very hard and flexible and are not very well paid. There may indeed be too much people working at administration and it would not be a surprise if Muller is going to cut jobs in this sector.
I still find it very difficult to understand why Sabena would buy planes, or lease planes, from Crossair, now that both SR and SN are drifting more and more apart. But, you could be right. A couple of months ago, Flight International reported that Crossair would take over some routes from Sabena and Swissair. It is very unlikely that this will happen. A Belgian newspaper reported that DAT would now take over a lot of routes from Sabena. So, it could be true that DAT is going to operate smaller planes for these routes and cut costs and capacity in that way.
I agree wth you (and sorry for the mistake I made concerning this), they cannot sell the 737s anymore. This has already been done and Sabena now leases the planes. It is actually another thing Reutlinger has sold, in order to be able to show black figures. He also sold a fuel-hedging contract, leased two planes from City Bird at too high prices just to keep them away from operating flights to destinations were Sabena flies, ....
I even haerd from someone, though this is unconfirmed, that he would have sold important slots in order to have cash and make the balances a little bit brighter.
Well, you see, I agree and on some points I slightly disagree with your report, but nevertheless, thank you for it. It makes the picture we have over here a little bit more clear.
Pothiabs From United States of America, joined May 2001, 114 posts, RR: 0 Reply 14, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1284 times:
due to time difference a rather late continuation of our little "discussion" :
Interesting you mentioned the withdrawal from JNB and EWR as a cause for the increase in load factor, but to my knowledge the JNB flights had quite good load factors. The revenue was rather bad due to fierce competition from BA and Virgin.
The EWR flight was indeed a catastrophy, because the capacity that became available due to the decision not to operate a BRU-MIA flight was bluntly transferred to EWR. SN already had enough capacity on New York with two daily JFK-flights , hence the bad results.
These "strategic" decisions originated at AMP. This will definitely not happen again in the future. ( Both the "blooper" and the decision-power in AMP-hands )
Now something completely different : on 30% of its European routes, SN is the undisputed number 1. Reason : You can't expect companies like Alitalia to operate flights from BLQ, VCE, NAP and especially VRN... into BRU to compete with SN's well-oiled hub-operations out of BRU. The same can be said for AF (LYS, MRS, NCE, BOD, NTS, TLS), LH (DUS, STR, MUC, THF, NUR, HAN, HAM), BA (NCL, MAN, EDI, GLA, BHX). Operating out of a big EU country also makes you vulnerable, something that KLM and SN don't experience.
This is were SN could and should increase its revenue by increasing their ticket-prices to an "almost critical" level, so just not high enough to "activate" its competitors. (Remarkably they understand this commercial strategy very well on the AFI-sector).
Due to other commitments I have no time to continue, maybe some other time.
Sndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2 Reply 17, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1258 times:
If the JHB flight had indeed high load factors, than the suspension of that flight cannot have increased the overall international load factor indeed.
About Sabena's European hub, it is one of the best in Europe indeed and a lot of other companies are jealous about it but two problems:
- the aircraft flown on some routes are too big, so Sabena needs smaller jets, though cannot afford to make the mistake of reducing frequencies
- BRU is in the middle of the very congested European airspace, resulting in a lot of delays and that costs Sabena a lot every year, certainly some satisfaction at the side of the passengers.
But, with a good management, Sabena has to be able to be a healthy company, with one of the best European hubs (for intra-Europe flights).
Pothiabs From United States of America, joined May 2001, 114 posts, RR: 0 Reply 19, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1246 times:
There are presently 5 scenarios being studied :
1. Bankrupt (out of the question)
2. a (really) radical downsizing. (also for the recycle bin)
and 3 other "in-between" plans that contain different Medium and Short Haul fleet compositions.
Other considerations are done with reference to another project currently running in Zürich, which is called "Rescheduling of the Zurich and Brussels Hubs".
Here I would also like to risk making a small prediction :
This Business Plan will influence the flight crews' carreers for many years to come ( if not indefinitely ). And if I recall well, SN has been in a more or less continuous restructuring phase since the eraly 90's. ( Maybe you know better than me). So I wouldn't be surprised if the SN employees have become more and more sceptical about any Plan. (At least that's what I gathered when I had the oppurtunity to meet SN crews and discuss this subject).
The success of this Plan will greatly depend on how the management will have worked together with its workforce (Pilots' and Cabin Crews' Unions, Ground staff Unions) in drawing the Plan before presenting it to the shareholders. Very important if you're looking for social peace, motivated employees, satisfied passengers and if you don't want to end up in a situation like at Lufthansa, which is not exactly win-win (LOL).
Sndp, you mentioned that on some sectors, the aircraft are too big. That is very much true indeed.
On the other hand high capacity planes should remain in operation for the dense routes (SXB, MXP, CDG, ARN, MRS, ATH, BIO, FCO, IST, MAD, NCE, SVQ, TLV, BEY ) and seasonal peaks on southbound flights.
Off-season possibilities for the high capacity aircraft are : deployment on (new) Middle East or South Mediterranean destinations.
Long Haul : is a crucial element in the survival of SN.
Any downsizing of the LH fleet will have an immediate and considerably negative impact on European traffic figures and consequently revenue.
Companies like KL and SR have a good ratio LH/MH aircraft which allows them to fill their planes on European routes during LH waves. Without good onward connections in AMS or ZRH, they would surely not be able to operate that big a number of LH point-to point flights.
At this moment SN can still be considered as a "feeder" for AF, LH, BA and even KL. The flights to FRA, CDG, LHR and AMS are regularly packed with onward connecting passengers, which gives a nice load factor, but very poor revenue.
It's up to SN to make a thorough analysis of the final destinations of these pax and in time even open additional LH destinations, which will also attract passengers from the nearby competitors if price setting is done intelligently.
Due to time restrictions I can not give you more info about which destinations could be served, but some possibilities are BKK, SIN.
I would rule out any North Atlantic route due to overcapacity on that sector, unless .... a profound study was done in close co-operation with AA. ( One of the reasons why the SN CEO visited DFW and SFO recently with lots of SN spreadsheets, statistics and figures in his luggage )
Also Sndp, you are right on the BRU airport, congestion and delays, but some other BIG causes of delays are :
Too tight scheduling of the aircraft, which leaves you with no buffer in case of irregularities and makes crews chasing the schedules all day long. This happens much too often at SN. Squeezing flights to improve Daily Aircraft Utilization Rate gives you a theoretical reduction of operating costs, but can leave you with much bigger costs in case of irregularities.
Up to now, SN also still doesn't get the treatment a home carrier should get from Brussels International Airport Company : SN can not designate its own gates, and STILL doesn't have its own terminal. Poor negotiating talents in the SN management or lack of goodwill from BIAC, or a combination of both ?
Also, to put it in a direct way : Traffic Control in BRU is not efficient. Although the capacity is high enough to handle the present SN hub-and-spoke operations, it is not used to the full extent. 25L always ldg runway, and 25R for take-off. And as I noticed when passing through BRU, 25R is even used for ldg during outbound peak-hours, possibly to reduce ground movements. This is definitely not a way to operate with parallel rwys. Airport efficiency and capacity could be improved by using both rwys for ldg and TO, in function of the arrival and departure direction. This should be technically possible at BRU (?)
But as long as BRU is not operated in an efficient way, the fourth runway will certainly not improve punctuality.
Some positive signs of punctuality management at SN's are the small shifts in schedules done by AMP to compensate or avoid systematic delays (FRA, MXP)
After all, SN's punctuality is very much influenced by external factors, which indicates that SN's Ground Operations and Operational Control deliver very good work. (except for the aircraft scheduling of course, which is not in their hands in the planning stage)
OO-AOG From Switzerland, joined Dec 2000, 1426 posts, RR: 4 Reply 21, posted (12 years 6 months 3 weeks ago) and read 1224 times:
The problem with 25L is that aircrafts have to backtrack in order to have the full runway lenght for take-off (3211m). Taxiway C1 gives only 2190m for take off. That's why there is very limited takeoff from 25L.