Delta Gets Bitten By The Dragon
Going To World Routes?
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China-Welcome, the stronger your advantage in attracting more of the 20 million visitors from China over the next 20 years.
You’ll be surprised at the long-term and continuing value of a China-Welcome program, tailored by our team to your exact situation.
Let the China Ni Hao team at Boyd Group International give you the materials and marketing strategies that will put you ahead of the competition!
From brochures and promo materials, professionally-created in Chinese by staff that understand not only China, but the travel & airline industries, to Chinese-web pages to showcase your airport on line, all the way to China business-registered WeChat apps, putting your airport literally in the pockets of 700 million subscribers, our team can make sure you’ll have a presence in China long after the last farewell gan bei toasts when you leave for home.
You’re investing a lot in your trip to Guangzhou… let us help you optimize it. Click here for details on how we can tailor a China-Welcome™ program for your airport!
Marian Henley Boyd is Chief Operating Officer
Marian Henley Boyd is Chief Operating Officer of the firm. The Boyd Group International Aviation Industry Workshop Program is directed by Marian, including the widely-attended International Aviation Forecast Summit. Held annually, this has emerged as the number one event in regard to hard-hitting, no-nonsense trend, traffic, and passenger forecasts, and is attended by leaders from all areas of the industry.
Marian also directs the wide range of airline-related training programs developed by the company. These programs are tailored to the specific needs of the airline industry, and to those of the specific client. Programs developed at Marian’s direction have assisted a number of aviation clients in improving direct customer service as well as the efficiency of service delivery. Customer Service Solutions – a basic skills program for front-line airline employees has been successfully implemented at carriers of all sizes, from small commuters to international airlines.
Before co-founding what is today Boyd Group International, Marian was with Braniff International Airways, rising to the position of Regional Director in the Northwest. During her career at Braniff, Marian was involved in that carrier’s international expansion, including the establishment of station operations in Europe and developing procedures and training programs for local staff.
She holds a degree in Business Administration from North Texas University.
William C. Oliver – Vice President
William C. Oliver – VP, directs the project coordination and client liaison for Boyd Group International. He also directs the firm’s extensive traffic, passenger, fleet, and forecast databases.
With a 30 year career in the airline industry, with focus upon airline operations, planning and customer service, Mr. Oliver is an expert in the area of airport/airline interface with regard to customer convenience and operations efficiency. Subsequent to service in the Marine Corps., Mr. Oliver had a distinguished career with Braniff International Airways, attaining positions as Director – System Operations, Director – Customer Service Administration, and Vice President – Personnel & Labor Relations.
Following his career at Braniff, Bill was Executive Vice President of a low-fare jet airline, and was responsible for the carrier’s route planning, marketing, and daily operations. Mr. Oliver holds a degree in Business from the University of Texas.
Captain Michael Baiada
Captain Michael Baiada works with Boyd Group International in the areas of operations restructuring, air traffic control issues, and management development.
A retired 747 captain at a major US airline, Mike has been a leader in projects to improve the nation’s air traffic control system, and in 1994 co-authored the first study that brought Free Flight to the attention of aviation. The study prompted congressional hearings which directed the FAA to accelerate development of the Free Flight concept. He is also expert in procedures to make flight sequencing and departure procedures more efficient, and has worked with a number of clients in this regard.
Captain Baiada holds a degree in Engineering from Rutgers University.
Sonia Watts is our Supervisor—Administrative Services. She joined Boyd Group international in 2007, and holds the responsibility of supervising office administration, conducting research, preparing statistical reports, and handling information requests.
Sonia is responsible for managing registration and assisting in promotion and coordination of the firm’s Annual International Aviation Forecast Summit.
The Seat Size Controversy… More Inaccurate Media Reporting
This past week there were a couple of stories on how some of the inhabitants of congress want to pressure the FAA into legislating seat dimensions.
To “fix” a problem requires having a knowledge of the problem. That’s not the case here.
There is no question that seat “pitch” – simply put, space between rows – has gotten much tighter in the last 20 years… particularly in the last five.
But that’s not the same as seat-width, which truth be known, has actually – on average – grown in the last 20 years in US skies.
Don’t Check The Source – Especially If It Agrees With The Reporter’s Pre-Conceived Conclusion. These articles are often embellished by the oh-so-righteous statement that seat-width has also shrunken from an average of 18.5 inches a few years ago (whenever that was) to an average of 17 inches today. The articles then attribute the source of this statistic to one consumer group or another…
Fake news lives. It’s a flat-out false statistic, at least for US airlines.
Here’s a fact to ponder…. In the US, the smallest seat width in economy cabins at US airlines is 17 inches. (This does not include any smattering left of air taxis or third-tier carriers flying very small aircraft.)
That’s the smallest, and in the US it is found only on categories of “regional” jets.
New Airliners Have Changed The Mix. Let’s take a look …despite what some media sources mis-report, the B-737/757 has exactly the same fuselage width as the first 707s that entered service in 1958.
The cross-cabin seat density in normal economy has always been six… so shrinking the width of the actual seat would gain nothing in regard to more passenger density. It’s been around 17.5 inches since 1958. So even if it were originally at 18.5 (which is bogus), there’s no way shrinking the width would deliver more capacity.
Most of the reporters who spread this inaccurate drivel have no clue of the subject matter.
In fact, there has been some increase in seat density on some widebody airliners, but none in US operation are less than 17 inches wide.
(For the record, airlines have tried different seating configurations… in the 1960s, United dabbled with a second economy cabin with 5 across, It didn’t survive.)
Actually, the average width of the US economy seat has grown in the past 20 years. The expansion of the A-320 family actually has increased average tush width in US economy cabins… they have an average of 18 inches. The Embraer E-170/190 airliners have seats at approximately 18.2, and the new CSeries coming on line at Delta will have some seats at 19.
So here’s the bottom line… since the narrowest seats in US fleets are at 17 – and these are just on smaller “regional” jets – and virtually all other narrow-body airliners in US skies are above that, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in fractal geometry to conclude that the “average” today simply cannot be 17 inches. The pandering consumer groups and the reporters who blindly rely on them have a credibility problem.
Simply put, the consumer gadfly organizations and their media groupies are passing out bad information. One wonders about the accuracy of the rest of their reporting. The congressional inhabitants who might repeat this garbage are in the same category.
So, the folks that are reporting a decline in average seat width – particularly in narrow-body US fleets – need to do some homework. Or find another profession.
Again, this is not to imply that seat pitch hasn’t declined. It has.
But the story demands facts, not innuendo.
BGI Delivers China Symposium At Raleigh-Durham
The Boyd Group International/China Ni Hao professionals were honored to be teamed with the Raleigh-Durham International Airport to deliver a comprehensive Symposium to North Carolina industry, civic, and government leaders, outlining the opportunities for China air service.
With the enormous Chinese business investment in the region, including Lenovo, Tencent, Smithfield Foods, and Triangle Tires, the North Carolina Research Triangle supports over 160,000 annual air travelers from China, according to BGI’s Airports:China forecasts.
The objective of the Symposium was to illuminate the realities of gaining nonstop access to China, which today does not yet have a fully-developed hub-and-spoke system that compares to that in the US. Indeed, today, the largest single airline operation is the China Southern system in Guangzhou, which is in southern China. It has @ 350 daily flights… compare that to some US connecting hubs, with between 600 and 900 departures. This will evolve in the years ahead.
In the meantime, there’s lots of aggressive planning and outreach that needs to be pursued by US regions and airports to meet the China future.
At the event, BGI staff outlined the future evolution of the Chinese airline industry as it will affect RDU, as well as key data regarding where the communities of business interests will develop between North Carolina and China in the coming years. BGI is the leader in China-US air traffic and trend data,
We were honored to work with the team at RDU to deliver this program.
The China Era Is Here – And It’s An Opportunity for Regions Across America.
We would note that Boyd Group International and its team of China experts stand ready to assist communities and airports in developing aggressive China-Welcome programs.
Welcome & Wayfinding Programs – Chinese leisure and business visitors will prefer and gravitate to locations that make an effort to welcome them with basic but professional materials such as key communication touch-point signage, and making certain parts of the venue fully China-Welcome…
Professionally-Created Chinese Support Materials. BGI can craft a tailored program for any venue to assure that Chinese visitors – particularly business visitors – have the materials and informational guidance they need to have an anxiety-free visit, and to know that their hosts respect their business…
Local China-Welcome Outreach. If you are relying on machine-translated versions of your website and promotional documents, delete them immediately! They are usually very sloppy, inaccurate and in some cases offensive. Let BGI’s experts develop and create the message professionally…
Digital Outreach. BGI’s team has established WeChat, Baidu and other digital programs for US companies and organizations. We can literally put your airport or community in the pockets of millions of Chinese consumers…
China-Welcome Programs. Just as at the North Carolina Research Triangle, BGI can deliver incisive and informative programs on-site, designed to inform and fire-up the region to become more competitive for the billions in China-US investment and the more than 23 million Chinese leisure visitors expected to see the US over the next five years.
Point: If your region is interested in looking to the China future, we’re ready.
January 2, 2018 Update
Happy New Year!
Let’s Look at 2018 – Beyond The Consensus
The 2018 Boyd Group International Aviation Trend Outlook is now available.
In the document, we cover several areas where evolutionary and episodic change can be expected in the coming year and beyond.
Prepare For Some New Futurist Concepts. Boyd Group International has a track record of forecasting trends that are missed by other sources. The reason is simple: we do not accept at face value the “consensus” or what may be described as “ambient thinking.”
Those terms are just alternative descriptions of making sure that there are no risks taken and there’s no potential of challenging the entrenched thinking of the status-quo.
For more than three decades, Boyd Group International has built a track record of assisting clients from across aviation and across the globe in identifying new future opportunities. In doing so, we don’t go by the book. We write the future book, which is what we’ve done with this year’s Outlook.
Below are just a few basic subject synopses of the 2018 predictions and trend projections in this year’s BGI Aviation Trend Outlook. To view and download the complete document, just click here, and we’ll get it to you ASAP.
If you have any questions or input regarding this document, please let us know.
And, of course, if you need futurist aviation research, forecasting or consulting, we stand ready to assist. We would point out that many of the trends outlined herein are indicative of the scope and structure that will be delivered at the 23rdInternational Aviation Forecast Summit, August 19-23, 2018, hosted by Denver International Airport.
CEOs and senior executives from across the industry and across the globe will be here to openly discuss the future. No boring “panels.” Instead, direct discussion and exploration of the future from those who are shaping it.
To reserve your space and for more information: www.AviationForecastSummit.com Special New Year registration rates are now offered.
2018: Looking To A Strong, But Global 2018
Touching Briefly On Just Some of What’s Covered In the 2018 Aviation Trend Outlook…
Traffic Trend: Fundamental Growth… Plus More Impulse-Buy Capacity
Let’s put it on the line.
The hand-wringing from some in the financial world about airlines adding too much capacity in 2018 is strictly Chicken Little. Capacity discipline is firmly in control.
Look For @ 4% More Seats, But Less Than 3.5% More Flying. As of January 1, US carriers are scheduling a 3.9% increase in capacity for the first six months, compared to the same time period in 2017. Most of the reporting on this implies that carriers are simply adding flights on top of existing ones.
In some cases that is accurate, based on very high load factors, and particularly in cases where the carriers’ connecting hubs experience “hub-choke” – when there is demand for more feed through the hub, but the connecting banks to major destinations are functionally fully-booked.
But in other cases, much of the increase in capacity is based on network carriers (American, Delta, United and Southwest) adding new markets – particularly trans-border and international.
Also adding to the capacity picture is the expansion of the “parallel airline universe” – ULCCs expanding and offering fares that transcend ambient market “demand” and establish the travel product as an alternative application of discretionary dollars.
Wildcard: In any case, the recent reduction in the corporate tax rate, could result in carriers adding more capacity to meet newly-generated demand in the fourth quarter of 2018.
2018 Trend: Hub-Choke Increasingly To Affect Route Planning
For airlines, experiencing very high load factors in key major markets to and from the carrier’s hubsite operations are generally positive.
However, this dynamic also represents some traffic spill – where consumers in, say, Abilene find it difficult to find space on the connecting flights from DFW. In some cases, carriers will use sophisticated analytical systems to build highest and best use scheduling – in effect weeding out feed markets that are the least revenue-productive for limited hub capacity. Expect more of this in the coming year.
Enter New Fleets: With the phase out of what turboprops are left at American and United, and upgrade to increasingly cost-inefficient but larger 50-seat jets, more planning pressure will be but on network carriers to again review which small-airport routes make the most sense in light of the major routes to which they feed being at or near functional capacity.
Now add in the new dynamic of AA, DL and UA creating new “basic fare” buckets, which are applied mainly to retain and attract more nonstop O&D traffic in key major (read: nonstop hub) markets. This will further put a strain on the availability of capacity for smaller communities that depend on connect access at the hubsite.
The result is that, in many small-community feed markets, a load factor of 65% to the airline’s hubsite is functionally a “full” flight. There simply are no more seats available through the connecting hub.
This will continue to be an issue for smaller communities dependent on air access through a fully-booked hubsite operation. In many cases, these airports will be more than able to support the additional capacity to the connecting hub. Some, however, may be facing a potential pull-down in service.
2018 Trend: Small Community Air Access: Fantasy Is No Longer An Option
Many small communities need to come to grips with the three major and largely irreversible trends that are shaping air access from the globe.
- Hub-Choke. This we cover above, but what should not be ignored is that there is often no alternative airline to enter the a small community from an additional connecting hub. For example, when the distance to the UA/IAH hubsite represents more cost and more airplane time than the revenues that the market can generate, no amount of “market studies” will create more airlines or change economic realities. This is a reality that many smaller communities face.
- Eclipsing Costs. The emerging “floor” for feed fleets to network systems is the 50-seat jet. It is being retired – slowly, now that fuel costs are where they are – but they do represent a higher revenue bar for communities to meet.
- Consumer Preferences & Alternatives. Increasingly, within the emerging economics of airline operations, the type of scheduled air service that some smaller communities can support at the local airport is DOA. That’s because in many cases such service is consumer-inferior, less time-efficient, and actually less convenient than an hour’s drive (or even in some cases, even a 90-minute) drive to an alternative airport where the population (or an airline’s connecting hub) can support much wider flight access. This is another dynamic that no amount to civic hubris or more expensive and misleading “studies” will change. Regionalization of air access is an emerging reality in some parts of the US. It should be recognized and embraced, because the air transportation system isn’t returning to the 1980s.
That’s because in many cases such service is consumer-inferior, less time-efficient, and actually less convenient than an hour’s drive (or even as we note in the Outlook in some cases, even a 90-minute drive) to an alternative airport where the population (or an airline’s connecting hub) can support much wider flight access.
In the Outlook we discuss how regionalization of air access is an emerging reality in some parts of the US. It should be recognized and embraced, because the air transportation system isn’t returning to the 1980s.
2018 Trend: More EU Nonstops From The Heartland
A major dynamic discussed in the Outlook is the value that major non-hubsite US airports now represent to foreign carriers.
As was first outlined at the 2013 International Aviation Forecast Summit, key non-hubsite major US airports are prime candidates for EU carriers to add to their global systems.
For network carrier system such as British, Air France and Lufthansa, the traffic feed to their hubs in Europe from large US cities such as New Orleans, Indianapolis, Nashville, etc., can be very attractive.
The key factors for this service are generally, 1) a strong local population base, 2) very strong installed base of internationally-focused industry, and 3) – most important – strong highway network access from a wide population region.
This latter factor is important, as a nonstop London flight from, for example, New Orleans, is more convenient for folks to drive to from Gulfport, compared to the complexity of making a flight connection over IAH or ATL. This trend then tends to increase the profile of the larger airport as an alternative access point.
In addition, the massive expansion of impulse service to the Continent by WOW and Norwegian will open even more access. In these cases, however, the US point will be more of a destination, as opposed to a generator of feed traffic.
Potential Trend: China Moving To Acquire Foreign Aircraft Manufacturers
In the Outlook, we step into uncharted territory by looking at the Chinese airliner industry, and making some bottom line projections on strategic planning that may be coming from the folks in Beijing in 2018.
What this means is that Boyd Group International research in the China aviation market indicates that we may see very significant and elsewhere-unforecasted moves by China to expand its global presence in the aircraft manufacturing sector.
In particular, there is a very real potential for Chinese entities to make a move to acquire either Bombardier or, more likely, Embraer. We believe the recent Boeing outreach to Embraer is at least partially a pre-emptive move.
Point: China is intent on becoming a major player in the airliner sector. Its current indigenous platforms are not going to be able to accomplish this. Therefore, an acquisition of Embraer or Bombardier (or, possibly another player we won’t mention right now) is not out of the question.
The potential shifts in relationships this could drive among suppliers, and the impact on the commercial direction of the US airframe and powerplant sectors would be very far-reaching in broadening the presence of Chinese business in America.
Getting Ready For China Can Make The Difference In Site-Selection. Moving on in that area, BGI predicts that more US airports and venues will need to become more welcoming to the Chinese leisure and business visitor. To be sure, just about every US gateway airport claims it is ready for these travelers… but in most cases, Mars has better wayfinding and welcome than US facilities.
It goes beyond having a Mandarin speaker on-site, and it goes beyond veneer things like not offering ice water in restaurants. In regard to China communication, we also point out that the poor misled airports that have been sold an “international translation” website feature that includes Chinese, are simply making themselves look really amateur and silly to the Chinese consumer. The raw machine translations are insulting and tell the web visitor that the airport/community is out to lunch when it comes to professional outreach.
Fuel & Labor Issues
It is understandable for financial analysts to be concerned regarding the potential effects of changes in these two key cost factors on airline bottom lines,
From a rational perspective, these are important to watch, and it is near-certain that in the next 18 months, labor costs will impact the bottom line at a number of carriers. However, given the expected robust demand, there are no thunderstorms on the horizon for 2018.
These just scratch the surface of what to expect in 2018…There’s a lot more to explore.
To view and download the complete 2018 Aviation Trend Outlook, just click here, and we’ll get it to you ASAP.
The Monday Flash – November 2,2015
Touch ‘N Go…
With Regret… It is with sadness that we note the passing of Scott Tyra. Scott was one of our friends at Allegiant in years past, and one of the most engaging people in the business. He and his sense of humor will be sorely missed.
Manila Passengers Are Finding Themselves Not Bullet-Proof. If we think we have airport security issues, take a look at Manila. There are reports that security people have been slipping bullets into luggage, and then shaking down the owners for a “fine.” A whole new dynamic in security-terrorism.
“Tarmac” Reaction…We were honored to get a lot of e-mails regarding last week’s review of terms the media uses to impress readers, even when they have little use in the airline business itself. A lot of airport folks agreed that the word “tarmac” might as well be Swahili in regard to aviation planning. We appreciate the feedback.
The Monday Update…
Southwest Route Re-Organization…
It’s A Harbinger of New Across-The-Board Airline Economics
Sometimes, the truth can be unsettling. In some corners, it’s downright unwelcome.
This is often the situation when a community is honestly and factually advised that some of their air service goals are simply out of reach. While the future is not at all dim, the strategic direction of the airline industry has shifted fundamentally, and air service access planning must shift as well.
Often, that means what could be accomplished ten years ago is impossible today, because the airline industry has whole new cost and revenue imperatives. This is the reason we find that traditional “air service development” is outdated, because it assumes an airline industry that’s long gone.
And it’s particularly true in the case of small and mid-size airports misbelieving (or in some cases, outright misled into believing) that getting a “low cost carrier” is just a matter of dogged determination, a mayor’s task force, and several thousand dollars spent on another “market study.” All that sounds great, but it has no bearing on changing core airline strategies.
It often applies, also, to doomed-to-fail efforts to attract network carrier service to small airports that simply can’t generate traffic to support today’s – and tomorrow’s – airline fleets.
The Past Is Gone. No Amount of ASD Voodoo Will Bring It Back. The foundation of these “we’ll get a carrier” beliefs is an absence of knowledge of the realities of today’s airline industry. It’s natural and understandable for civic leaders not to have a grasp of these issues. But it’s another matter when these misbeliefs are encouraged by outside advisors. And that, unfortunately, is happening across the nation.
The emerging truth is that air transportation is a mode that increasingly does not have the economics to be profitable in low-volume missions. Period. End of discussion. In stone.
Time to wake up and smell the jet-A, or in this case, the lack of it. Last week, the raw economics of the airline industry sent another unsettling message. The major route changes announced by Southwest are more indicators that many communities will need to give up the traditional fantasy “air service development” planning and deal with the new airline industry realities. That doesn’t mean total or even partial loss of air access – it just means that the fantasy needs to get replaced with reality-planning.
Let’s take the Southwest changes at Wichita – an airport that serves one of the most globally-focused regions in the nation. Even it could not generate enough traffic to feed Southwest’s giant hub at MDW, even with a subsidy.
Other examples are Richmond, Greenville-Spartanburg, Akron-Canton, Flint and Grand Rapids. The WN point-to-point flying to Florida is history, and the future of the carrier at these airports will be based the levels to which they can feed a Southwest connecting hub – usually in competition with service from United, or American or Delta. Or a combination of these.
The point is this: Southwest – like the rest of the airline industry – is in a completely different economic and competitive world than it was ten years ago, and it is clearly adjusting to take advantage of it. They need to focus on strong revenue streams, and do not have the resources or the necessity of grabbing feed by adding more smaller or even mid-size communities to their route map that in any case cannot begin to fill five or six daily 143-seat 737-700s.
This applies also to any of the eight other full-schedule airline brands in the US. They don’t need – and can’t afford – to add more small communities to their route map.
As for Southwest, they are scrambling to add aircraft – literally from all over the world -to fund expansion to major points in the Caribbean, as well as take advantage of expansion at Dallas/Love. It’s important that small and mid-size communities looking to get WN into town understand this before tossing another 20 large at another “market analysis” to “lure” them into town.
Professional. But Still A Business. Southwest has a well-earned reputation for showing the utmost kindness and respect to communities that come knocking at their door. They even take on the expense of sending staff to speed-date meetings, to do 20-minutes with small airport service-supplicants.
But take a look at where the carrier has cut back, and the message is clear for a lot of communities that have been praying for the low-fare WN cavalry to come over the hill. That message is that it’s time to focus on other air service access options. They are not coming.
They are going to San Juan, Cancun, and Belize – as well as other, much larger places, instead. This is not just at Southwest – it’s across the airline industry.
Business Means Understanding The New Airline Industry. The structure of the airline industry, and its direction are very clear. The need is for air service planning to adjust to these dynamics. For a sad example, there are stories all the time, where an airport has “met with eight airlines to pitch service.”
The fact is that there aren’t eight airlines that are potential new entrants at any airport in the US. That’s a fact – and it’s unfortunate that communities can be so badly misled, and waste time and money being fed this stuff. Heck, we even came across a small unserved airport in the southwestern US that got set up to meet with Alaska Airlines to “pitch” service. Pluheeze…
If You Want Workable Futurist Air Access Planning, Give Us A Call. In our air service consulting work, we are direct and blunt about these new realities, and the opportunities they represent. That’s the reason we can be more effective.
Airline targets and their strategies are clear and obvious, and if they don’t fit a specific client’s situation, we say so upfront.
Understandably, that’s resulted occasionally in ruffled feathers at some clients. But the entire US airline industry has evolved. The bottom line is that it’s time that airports and communities realized that traditional “air service development” approaches are based on the false belief that getting more air service is a simple matter of just tossing out data, and the airlines will come running.
A targeted, surgical approach is needed.
At BGI, we apply our industry-leading forecasts and trend analyses to guide our airport clients to focus on objectives that are consistent with emerging airline strategies. Our Airports:USA® system is the most comprehensive and advanced enplanement forecast system in the industry, and our Aviation DataMiner™ program delivers more accurate industry analytics than any other source.
Plus, our unrivaled respect at the senior levels of airlines has been earned by dealing straight and always being at the forefront of aviation issues. Just take a look at the senior executives and CEOs who participate in our annual International Aviation Forecast Summit. No other consultant can match this level of respect from the global industry.
So, for communities who are looking to build truly futurist air service access planning – including international channels of access – we’d invite you to give us a call at (303) 674-2000, or drop us an e-mail by clicking here. Our approach is very different from other consultants. You’ll like the fresh air.
In any case, this past week should be a watershed in the ASD sector. There are more changes to come. Airports that anticipate them – instead of hoping to ignore them – will prosper.