Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oman Air looking to order 15 more wide body aircraft

Oman Air has officially announced that it will be placing a major wide body order for 15 aircraft in 2018 as part of a long term strategy to replace its 10 A330s as well as to cater for incremental growth.

In addition, WY also revealed that it made a net loss of US$337 million in 2016 which was 50% higher than the loss made in 2015 as yields dropped plus fuel and other expenses rose.

New routes being studied by the airline were revealed to be Hong Kong, Seoul, Peshawar and Johannesburg.

News link:


Currently, WY's wide body fleet includes the below mentioned aircraft

4 B788s - 267 seats
4 A332s - 216 seats
6 A333s - 289 seats
2 B789s - 288 seats + another 13 yet to be delivered
Total (with planned delivery of 13 B789s) is 29 aircraft

Out of the 15 aircraft going to be ordered, 10 will be used to replace their A330 fleet whilst the remaining 5 are ear marked for network expansion. This brings the total wide body fleet count to 34 aircraft.

As far as which aircraft should be chosen, it is a no brainer that the B787-9 is the best aircraft suited for WY's long term requirements and not the A350-900 for the below mentioned reasons:

1. WY already has 6 B787s in its fleet with pilots, engineers and cabin crew certified on this plane type.

2. The A359 is a more expensive aircraft to purchase and operate versus a B789 plus it has approximately 15% more passenger capacity only which is not required by WY.

3. Another fleet type mix into the frame will only lead to higher costs, complexities and headaches for crew planning.

4. Why would WY want to have a dual wide body fleet mix of A350s and B787s when their B789s has the right capacity for all its high demand routes i.e. 288 seats plus it has the capability of flying all of them nonstop without payload issues including any potential future nonstop service to New York, Toronto or Australia.

5. If WY wants more capacity for its leisure/VFR routes such as MNL BKK CGK DAC INDIA JED which don't require 30 business class seats, it can easily reconfigure few of their B789s into a high density layout to have 18 business class (flat beds) + 294 economy class to seat 312 passengers.

What can be done with this new order is as follows:

1. WY should have its future wide body fleet revolving around the B787-9 (789) only which will in turn lead to synergies and mega cost savings across the airline.

2. As part of an incremental order for 15 B789s, it should request Boeing to buy back the 4 B788s as the future re-sale value of this aircraft type is not looking that promising versus the more popular B789! There is also no point having a 267 seater B788 flying along side a 288 seater B789 offering only 8% more seats.

3. In this manner, the total wide body fleet count will number 30 B789s which is more than enough to meet its long term needs versus the original intention of 34 as having more wide body planes flying long haul for a GCC carrier like WY will only increase 'net losses' since fuel prices wont remain $50-$55 forever.

4. The 30 B789s can be subdivided into two configurations i.e. 20 units with 288 seats (which it currently has i.e. 30J-258Y) and the remaining 10 to be in a higher density configuration with 312 seats (18J-294Y) to serve specific high volume routes in Asia.  

5. Therefore if the above gets taken into consideration, the 2020-2030 WY fleet will consist of just two airplane types only i.e. B789 + B737MAXs which is the right way to move forward.

Gulf Air reveals B789 configuration

Gulf Air
has officially revealed details of its cabin layout of its soon to be delivered brand new Boeing 787-9s which are as follows:

1. A total of 282 seats will be installed on board across 2 cabin classes i.e. 26 business + 256 economy

2. First batch of 10 B789s will be delivered between 2018-20 i.e. 5 in 2018 + 2 in 2019 and 3 in 2020. The remaining 6 are scheduled to be delivered in 2023-24.

The first route for these planes is expected to be BAH-LHR-BAH as that is the tradition considering that these planes will also have a brand new business class seat product. By 2020 it is expected that the 10 delivered B789s would have fully replaced the current 6 A332s with the incremental aircraft used to expand capacity in high demand markets.

In addition to the above, it has been noted (as per the news link below) that GF changed its A321NEO order slightly i.e. out of the 17 A321NEOs ordered, 8 of these will be the LR version which means they are going to be ear marked to expand Europe capacity along with having flat bed business class seats (which all their current 6 A321s + 4 A320s have)



This is a well thought out configuration as the number of seats i.e. 282 adequately caters for growth across all its currently operated A332 routes into the 2020-30 decade period. GF's A332s seat 214 pax in a 2 class layout so the B789s with 282 represent a 32% increase in pax capacity as well as the capability to uplift an additional 3-4 tons of cargo in the belly. It shall definitely come in handy during peak travel periods across the network as well as for high demand religious season flights to JED/NJF.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Canada's Westjet orders 20 Boeing 787-9s

Canada's second largest airline i.e. WestJet today placed its largest ever commercially valued order with Boeing for 20 wide body aircraft as the airline has decided to aggressively go forward with this project.

A total of 20 Boeing 787-9s have been ordered by WS as 10 being firm and the remaining 10 as options.


In my March 2016 newsletter, I had written the following as at that time WS released their intentions of studying long haul expansion.

In my opinion, if WS is really serious about the long term investment it needs to make for its wide body jet operations then it should adopt the below mentioned strategy:

Note - Published purchase price of B789 is US$ 265M where as A339 costs US$ 288M and A359 US$ 308M; however actual final purchase price is usually 50% discounted !

1. Purchase 10 jets to realize synergies and obtain a decent discounted offer from either Boeing or Airbus

2. Base 5 jets out of
YYZ and YVR respectively for Asia (YVR base) and Europe (YYZ) operations

3. It would be best to buy a modern aircraft with the latest flight avionics hence opt for the B789 as its future re-sale value + on board seating capacity is better suited for
WS rather than the larger A359.

4. The B789 should be easily capable of having 361 seats on board in a dual class configuration (28 premium economy 2-3-2 + 333 economy) offering very good operating costs per seat unit on flights under 10 hours of flying time even if price of oil increases to $60-70 per barrel.

5. It should only look at routes within a 10 hour flying radius nonstop of
YYZ and YVR with the 361 seater B789. Anything longer than that and the profitability margins become extremely challenging even at $50 oil price! Another reason why I said 10 hours max is because the same aircraft can be flown back to hub base within a 24 hour day period including ground time. FYI block time of a B787-9 with flying speed at 490 knots from YVR to Asia is as follows:
YVR/ICN - 9 hours 35 minutes YVR/PEK - 9 hours 55 minutes (getting desired slot timings will be a big challenge) YVR/NRT - 8 hours 50 minutes YVR/PVG - 10 hours 30 minutes (getting desired slot timings will be a big challenge) YVR/HKG - 11 hours 50 minutes (hence a no go route) YVR/MNL - 12 hours 10 minutes (hence a no go route) YVR/TPE - 11 hours 5 minutes (hence a no go route) YVR/LGW - 9 hours

6. In the winter season when volume based demand from
YYZ to Europe evaporates the aircraft based out of YYZ should be operating to London + selected U.S. , Caribbean destinations only such as Barbados, HNL, LAS, LAX and Florida. Or in order to take advantage of the "Chinese new year season + winter holidays" (between DEC-FEB), it can re-allocate 2 of the YYZ based aircraft to YVR to boost YVR-Asia frequencies.

7. For the
YVR long haul hub to be effective, WS first must have a strong bank of U.S. bound flights to generate transfer traffic volume to feed YVR-Asia.

WS needs to have strong interline / code sharing agreements in Asia and Europe especially LGW in order to get incremental revenue generating opportunities.

United Airlines Airbus A350-1000 configuration released

In a recent twitter post, airplane seat manufacturer i.e. Zodiac BE Aerospace officially revealed the configuration of United Airlines Airbus A350-1000 configuration which is as follows:

Total - 337 seats split across 3 cabin classes i.e. 60 business class + 91 Premium Economy + 186 economy class

These planes are expected to initially replace UA's aging B744s which accommodate 374 passengers in a 4 class layout. It is not known as yet which routes will be operated by this aircraft initially but to the naked eye, it is best to be used on the long haul trans-pacific flights as the cost savings versus a B744 are significant.

Qantas suspends Melbourne-Dubai flights

Australia's Qantas Airlines has officially confirmed that it will be adjusting its long haul network to Europe and Southeast Asia from the start of the IATA Summer 2018 season in the below mentioned manner:

1. Daily MEL-DXB-LHR A380 flights will be suspended and replaced with daily B789 operated MEL-PER-LHR services

2. The A380 used for MEL-DXB-LHR will instead be used to upgrade MEL-HKG to a daily A380 operation which is currently being operated by a daily B744

In turn this results in a massive capacity drop at London for QF who go from double daily A380 to daily A380 + daily B789 which carriers such as QR/EY will appreciate it means less competition on DXB-MEL + LHR-DXB + LHR-SYD/MEL