Here comes my crystal ball for 2008, focusing mostly on US based carriers.
- Airlines will cut domestic capacity through the 1st and 2nd quarters, restoring some if not all for spring break and then the traditionally heavy summer season.
- International capacity will continue to grow throughout 2008. Look for more routes to the middle east and the orient. Open skies will cause some interesting service additions from overseas carriers, which will cause US operators to scramble to defend profitable turf. Expect US international service levels to continue to improve.
- US airlines will announce new widebody orders, and any domestic aircraft orders will be to replace existing domestic capacity or to add turboprop aircraft.
- Oil will fall to the $60 - $75 a barrel range, which will soften an economic downturn and will bolster travel demand. This will affect the airlines' ability to continue to raise fares.
- We will not see any major consolidation in the US. However foreign airlines will continue to buy stakes in US airlines. We may see a merger of a US carrier and a foreign carrier. However I don't think we'll see a DL
/NW or CO
/UA size transaction inside our borders.
's move to buy into jetBlue is a real mystery to me. Did not see that coming. Still not expecting to see B6
in star, but heck if LH
owns 20%, it may make sense. Look for LH
to soon expand their position in B6
. Look for BA
to follow suit with American, maybe even Air France and Delta or Northwest. Either or all of these could be the 'overseas merger' the crystal ball sees.
- Virgin America will expand and be the new darling of the industry and Wall Street, until they get big and begin to feel growing pains like B6
- The LCC A32X operators will make noise of a merger of some sorts (jetBlue, Frontier, Virgin America, Skybus) but one won't come together until 2009 or later.
- Look for enhanced airline websites where one can purchase certain seats, amenities, trip insurance. A legacy or 2 will try to charge for any checked baggage service and the media will respond with the usual comments from passenger on how this is ridiculous.
and US pilot contracts will grab headlines and may be quite spirited.
...carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. - Wilbur Wright