Airline Weekly - Dec. 7, 2015
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Airline Weekly - Dec. 7, 2015

Cope and Change: Copenhagen’s shortcomings run deep, but its airport is buzzing as the new year approaches

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Cover Story

Cope and Change: Copenhagen’s shortcomings run deep, but its airport is buzzing as the new year approaches

It’s a hallmark for Denmark.

Last week, Emirates brought A380s to Copenhagen, which heretofore never had any flights with these super-jumbo airplanes. And they weren’t just any A380s. They were A380s flying for the first time in an ultra-dense configuration—615 seats, to be exact. That’s a big plane, a big number of seats and—as it happens—just one of many big developments in Copenhagen’s suddenly sizzling airline market.

After a no-growth first half of 2015—passenger volumes actually fell a bit y/y from January through June—Copenhagen’s airport enjoyed a revival this summer, with Q3 volumes up a solid 6%. This faster pace continued into the start of the fourth quarter, and the pickup appears to be just the start of something bigger. Looking ahead at seat capacity trends for the upcoming first quarter for the world’s top 100 busiest airports, no European airport will grow at a faster pace than Copenhagen, with scheduled seat counts up 17% y/y, according to an Airline Weekly analysis using Diio Mi. In fact, only five airports in the world—Istanbul SAW, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen and Ho Chi Minh City, all growing from a smaller base—show greater Q1 percentage growth. Copenhagen’s growth pace looks likely to slow somewhat later in 2016, but seats are still scheduled, as of now, to rise by about 8% during the summer months.

The sluggish first half of this year was largely the result of a brief SAS ground handler strike, fewer domestic flights and a 12% drop in passengers using the airport to connect. That drop, in turn, was largely the intended result of a tactical pricing move by SAS, Copenhagen’s busiest airline—its simplified shorthaul fares now produce more nonstop traffic. Nevertheless, SAS intends to grow in Copenhagen, the busiest of its three main hubs by most measures. Next summer, for example, SAS will launch new nonstops to Reykjavik, Vienna, Faro and Krakow... (331 of 1,326 words)

Also Inside this Issue:

It seems counterintuitive. The Russian economy is contracting, sanctions are biting, the currency’s falling and security concerns are mounting. But Aeroflot is thriving. How so?

Well, its domestic rivals are a mess, its foreign rivals are retreating, its Moscow hub is luring more connecting traffic and its low-cost unit Pobeda offers the right fares and the right product at the right time. Shifting international capacity to the domestic front helps too, as does an ongoing shift among Russian travelers from rail to air. Aeroflot will now merge several of its loss-making subsidiaries while incorporating some planes from its fallen enemy Transaero. If there is one concern, it’s the risk of government trustbusters moving against its growing market concentration.

Malaysia Airlines is another airline on the upswing, but in a different context. It’s probably still losing money (it didn’t say) and still has a long way to go before fully recuperating from severe financial and commercial problems. Still, certain markets like China are trending favorably, and at least some of its legacy handicaps—overstaffing most prominently—were left behind in bankruptcy.

China’s Spring Airlines is getting attention with an ambitious growth plan, underpinned by a big A320/21-NEO order announced last week. In the U.S., Alaska Airlines is getting attention with a new premium economy product. Hawaiian Airlines is getting attention amplifying its presence in the Tokyo market. And Spirit? It’s getting attention with equal-opportunity assaults on just about everyone. The latest in its crosshairs? Delta, once again, in Atlanta.

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