2019 has been an interesting year for some companies and airlines. Let’s go through the news archives in Good Year and Bad Year.
Good Year: The Airbus A220 – Filling in an A319neo gap that no-one was buying, the A220 family have been doing good trade through the year, adding to the order book with 102 deliveries and 500+ aircraft in the order book.
Not bad at all
Good Year: The Airbus A321XLR – If there was a nail in the Boeing NMA programme – Airbus hammered it hard with the launch of the A321XLR programme, with Boeing loyalists as well as Airbus customers picking up the type without question.
Meanwhile, the A321LR seems top be delivering the long-range that some airlines need for now, and is flying (again biting at the Boeing NMA programme).
Bad Year: The Airbus A380 programme is canned. After years limping along with minimal orders and being supported by Emirates – the plug has been pulled on the programme. It’s not surprising, but for those who love the double-decker, it’s going to be flying for some time to come.
Bad Year: The Boeing Company – Whilst the discussion of Boeing and the state of it warrants a longer writeup, the delays to the 777X programme and the tragic accidents that lead to the grounding of the 737 MAX family has put serious pressure on the Boeing Commercial Aircraft family. Add no further progress on the New Middle of the Market Programme, issues with its military programmes and a leadership change, Boeing has to succeed in 2020.
Good Year: De Havilland Aircraft of Canada: With Longview Aviation picking up the Dash8 type certificate, DHC roared back into life with a bunch of commitments and orders at the Dubai Air Show.
Bad Year? Bombardier – The Canadian airframer has pulled back to its business jet and transportation programmes, after disposing of all of the civil aviation programmes.
Good Year: Mitsubishi Aircraft Company who picked up the CRJ programme from Bombardier. Oh, they also worked on their SpaceJet Programme heavily with the announcement of a 75 seater frame too. Now all they need is someone to buy it…
Good Year: Embraer – With the E2 families either in the air, commercially operating or having their first flight, Embraer can move forward into next year with a growth market to attack. The only black mark against them – the joint venture with Boeing which is under probing from the European Union.
Good Year: ATR – ATR Having been quietly working away this year, with deliveries and certifications for its turboprop aircraft. It’s also working on solutions for deaf and blind passengers too – which is to be commended.
Bad Year: Major airline failures – There have been too many failed airlines this year, with a number of airlines going to the wall. Some that have failed include BMI Regional, Thomas Cook Group, Germaina, WOW Air, Jet Airways, Avianca Brasil, Agile Azur, XL Airways France, Adria to name a few.
Good news: Joon – the airline that thought it was a rooftop bar has folded back into Air France.
Good Year: FlyBe survives as part of Connect Airways. Expect it to be rebranded as Virgin Connect later in 2020.
Good Year: British Airways Celebrated being 100 years old by painting aircraft – It’s more than a little of a stretch to call BA100 years old, but I’ll go with it – as they repainted four aircraft from their fleet to celebrate the year.
Bad Year: Hong Kong Airlines: With its long haul network in the bin, and its regional network on the edge, can it survive 2020?
Good and Bad Year: Norwegian Airlines – it seems the airline has finally got its head of the sand, and rather than growth at any cost, it’s measured growth that can turn a profit. This has had implications for its Long haul network, as well as the Argentinian branch. Hopefully, they can make it through the cold winter and try to grow in a measured method for 2020 onwards.
Good year: Airlines reduce plastic usage – Airlines have been focusing on plastic reduction over the year as they become more conscious of the waste it generates. It will also help in the fuel costs of carrying all that plastic around too. Hotels have been at it too, by promising to remove small amenity bottles to reduce plastic waste (and reduce costs with larger pump bottles…)
Good Year: Ability recognition and understanding – with more people wanting to fly, the airline have been stepping up to increasing accessibility – through IFE, sign language and even the sunflower lanyards. Positive steps forward.
Good and Bad Year: The rise of Ultra-Long Haul Routes – we’re going to see a lot more of these in 2020 as airlines stretch the use of their airframes onto longer missions – and with twin-engined aircraft (such as the 787-9 and the A350. The question of course is, can you put up with 19 hours crammed into an economy seat?
Good year: Joint Venture Agreements: These have grown over the year as Global Alliances slowly fall out of favour, in favour of commercial agreements that work out well for both airlines. Whilst we’re not seeing the death of the Global Alliances yet, it will be interesting to see how they get on over the next year.
Good Year: Acro Aircraft Seating – Acro have been busy this year, capturing both the high and low end of seating with orders from Etihad, NoRRA, Mango Airlines and Spirit Airlines..
Good Year: Recaro Aircraft Seating – Recaro continues to push ahead in the economy and business class seat markets, raking in orders, as well as equipping aircraft from nose to tail. A good year all round for them – including a Crystal Cabin award win
Good year: Fans on the 1-2-1 Business Class Seats: Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have done well this year, introducing new business class products.
Good year: Those who like a door on it. Business Class seats with doors are still a thing it seems, with British Airways joining in with their Club Suite.
Bad Year: 3-4-3 on a Boeing 777 – Accountants who love to cram passengers into planes, yet have never flown economy class have been squeezing more economy class seats in than ever – where it’s now to the point that operators who operate 3-3-3 down the back are getting thinner by the day.
Bad Year: 3-3-3 on the A330neo – If you want comfort on an A330neo, Air Asia and Cebu Pacific may not be your first choices with 3-3-3 seating. Will other airlines take more than a passing glance? You bet.
Bad year: The SkyRider 2.0 – Even I struggle to find one positive about this “seat”.
Connectivity and IFE
Good and Bad Year: European Aviation Network – EAN finally rolled out this year, with British Airways and Vueling. However, its a very slow rollout. And the speeds are nothing to write home about.
Good Year: Viasat – They continues to set the pace with their global network coverage increasing, and having orders to match with their civil and government commitments.
Good Year: Inmarsat’s Global Express – We’ve been talking about this for years, but it seems Global Express is finally taking off to the skies, with some good coverage and reasonable speed.
Good Year: Panasonic – They have been racking up orders for Ku based connectivity, along with their IFE suite products.
Good Year: BlueBox continues to make strides in both its accessible-IFE systems and capture customers with its BlueBox IFE server. Some welcome wins over the year for this company who have shown other IFE vendors the path to connectivity in some areas, as well as expanding the use of it.
Rails and Wheels
Bad Year: Virgin Trains is no more – After 22 years on the rails, Virgin Trains West Coast becomes Avanti West Coast (operated by FirstGroup and Trenitalia). How that will pan out in the long term – we’ll see.
Bad Year: Stagecoach lose the East Midlands Franchise... and it becomes an Abellio property. How well that will pan out… we’ll see (note their current record on West Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia and Scotrail). They’ve promised a Luton Airport Express service (which is a tag on of some of their planned electric train services). The jury is still out on how they’re going to do it still with electrification programmes running behind.
Bad Year: The PAN NYNJ Port Authority chucks up prices to use the JFK and EWR AirTrains. Because there’s nothing like “Welcome to the USA” than being fleeced $6+ upwards for a train that connects to another train. And those prices are only heading up.
Good year: Hitachi Rail UK: They’ve been hoovering up orders for new high-speed trains based on their AT-300 design (the Class 800/801 Intercity Express Train). The railways continue to be a little more standardised… and boring.
Good year: The rise of Air-Rail links – Maybe as a backlash to flight shaming, airlines and rail operators are working together to deliver new options, with both Lufthansa and Swiss announcing partnerships. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this in 2020.
Up next in Review 2019
What can we look forward to next year? I get my slightly cracked crystal ball out and have a think what we’re going to see next year
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