As another turbulent year passes, what do people predict for 2003 ?
Here are some thoughts, some possibilities, not necessarily my hopes:
Remain in Chapter 11 throughout the year, but survive
Drastically cut back at Denver
Concentrate on Chicago
All B744s go
Pacific routes snapped up by Northwest
European carriers, headed by British Airways and Virgin, have a complaint upheld by the European Union that Chapter 11 for US carriers is protectionism and is allowing United and US to dump cheap capacity on the atlantic, whilst chapter 11 protects them from creditors, thus unfairly undercutting the competition.
No change to Bermuda II whilst any of the carriers involved is under chapter 11 protection.
As a result, 2003 will see the cheapest transatlantic airfares for many years.
IF there is war, delete all the above and substitute with "United goes into Chapter 7."
Lo-cost continues to be the buzz word in Europe with aggressive expansion across the continent.
DBA is bought by EasyJet.
City analysts continue to be wary of Easyjet's rapid expansion.
Again, IF there is war, Easyjet run in to deep financial trouble as oil prices soar, with the possibility that we see aircraft being stored and routes dropped. (Easy is one of just a few carriers who do not hedge fuel prices over a number of months, and so will be the first to suffer if the price rises suddenly).
Ryanair continues its success but faces increasing competition, especially in Germany.
American and British Airways finally receive tentative approval to deepen their partnership in response to their complaint about United's protected position in Chapter 11, and Swiss becomes a full member of OneWorld.
Australian expand aggressively with service starting to Europe by the third quarter of 2003, serving leisure routes not served by Qantas or of low yield to them....Istanbul, Athens, Manchester, Amsterdam, perhaps.
British Airways rationalises its fleet further by reducing the 767 and 757 fleet again, possibly another order in the middle of the year for more A321s.
OneWorld members BA, AA and QF announce that they are heading the customer team on the development of the next generation wide-body Boeing, which they see as the natural successor to their collectively huge B762/3 fleet. Boeing are delighted as this almost guarantees the project will proceed. AA have the option of not being a part of the launch order, depending on economics.
An exasperated Northwest bow to pressure from A.Net members and announce the date when they intend to start retiring DC-9s : 2015
BWIA have a difficult year with increased competition from european carriers.
bmi resume MAN-IAD whilst MAN-ORD continues to prosper.
A battle for the carribean develops between US Airways and American. Not sure who will win this one, but in the current economic climate, I think common sense will prevail and they learn to co-exist.
Southwest and JetBlue both have a year of positive growth and revenue, the mutual respect continues with neither of them really going head-to head against each other.
Garuda end up in deep financial crisis once again, a knock-on effect from the recent bombing on Bali.
Air New Zealand and Qantas combine forces, ANZ leave Star for OneWorld.
Richard Branson sends a few Air Atlanta B742s down to Virgin Blue to commence long haul service to Asia. Possibility that Virgin Blue joins Star.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic is courted by Delta to join SkyTeam. Already partners with their FF programs, Delta is keen to get its flight numbers on flights through London Heathrow. Until Bermuda II is resolved, this could be Delta's best option.
TUI group announce a 3-type fleet strategy for their pan-european airlines: they become the launch customer for the B737-900X, and by 2005 hope to have a fleet of
B757-200, gradually reducing.
A330-200 (and I have a feeling they'll be getting the 2 JMC birds first).
There you have it; speculation, wishful thinking perhaps, a few hunches and a little bit of imagination.
Anyone else care to share their predictions ??
A happy new year to all A.Netters,
A prosperous new year to all aviation professionals on A.Net
and to all fliers, in 2003 may your landings equal your number of take-offs