What’s working; what’s not. Airlines in Asia Pacific

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FOXTROTS*

 

What’s working; what’s not. Airlines in Asia Pacific

Our summary of traffic results for the leading airlines in Asia Pacific, excerpts from the current editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, over the first-half.

 

Seat sales at biggest FSAs (full-service-airlines) in Asia Pacific (whole-group results for all), in alphabetical order: Air China +9%; Cathay +2%; China Eastern +9% (our estimate; CE has not published its data for two of the first six months); China Southern +11%; Japan +3%; Singapore +6%.

 

Notes (on notable details):

 

-Air China. International growth +15%.

 

-Cathay. Our perennial question: is it Cathay Dragon or Cathay Pacific that is doing badly?

 

We hope it is CP, because China – the main operating area for CD – is growing fast and so if CD is not also doing well in this market, that would be even worse news for the Group.

 

 

-China Eastern. International growth +9% (our estimate).

 

-China Southern. International growth +18%.

 

-Japan. That low systemwide growth looks unhappily standard for JA. But international is at +7%, shockingly fast for Japan.

 

That is the result of fast growth in four of the first six months, and +12% in June – prompting us to recheck the data to see what had gone wrong! However, we must note it fell -1% in the same 2017 month.

 

 

-Singapore. Significantly, the core SIA airline is now just 57% of the group. That compares with a 63% share for Air France in the AF-KLM group, 58% for British in ICAG, 50% for Lufthansa in its group, 55% for Qantas in its group.

 

That looks good. And now that SAG (our no-longer-true name for the group) plans to follow what we proposed eight years ago – merge Silk into SIA – prospects look better.

 

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

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Trottings: Direct Ferries – False Promises.

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TROTTINGS*

 

Trottings: Direct Ferries – False Promises.

Direct Ferries (DF) is a UK-based wholesaler of ferry trips. The other week it offered a 25% discount on Italy’s GNV ferry company for sailings to Sicily booked before September 30.

 

I did it; I booked Sicily on the 30th on GNV via DF.

 

Where was the discount? It did not seem to be there. Indeed, DF even added a booking fee to the price it quoted.

 

I contacted them.

 

First contact after getting my details was to inform me that a bus transfer was not available on the DF site, but it was available on the GNV site. As I had not enquired about a transfer, bus or other, this explanation was a puzzle.

 

I reverted, and another agent replied, apologising for the reference to the transfer. The agent added that he/she did not know why I had received that first message. I replied perhaps he/she should ask the other agent, and would then know the reason, and could then tell me.

 

The agent also told me that the fare I was quoted included the 25% discount – if I had clicked through the discount offer on the DF site.

 

In fact, that is what I did – clicked through on the DF site. But I had also checked on another system on another computer, and the fare was the same as the one available from a click-through. Also, the fare was the same as when I checked two weeks earlier.

 

In other words, the DF agent either did not know, or believed that was the system, or was lying. Given that they sent me no further message, I am tempted to believe that they were lying.

 

I never got my discount.

 

Obviously, the moral of this message is for travellers to beware statements by Direct Ferries, and to assume they may not provide what they seem to be offering.

 

 

*Trottings = Trip Jottings

*The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox.

 

What’s working; what’s not. Airlines in Europe

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FOXTROTS*

 

What’s working; what’s not. Airlines in Europe

Our summary of traffic results for the leading airlines (not, where relevant, airline groups) in Europe, excerpts from the current editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, over the first half.

 

Seat sales (RPKs for British; our estimates for Ryan), in alphabetical order: Air France+KLM (starting this year, no longer separated) -0.3%; British +3%; Easyjet +4%; Lufthansa +7%; Ryanair +7%.

 

 

Notes (on notable details; on whole-group for Air France, British (=ICAG), Lufthansa):

 

-Air France group (AFKL). Once again, we assume AF is dragging down group performance, and particularly KLM. AFKL’s no-frills subsidiary Transavia is doing better, although we think it should be above that +7%.

 

AFKL still shows no figures for Joon. Is AFKL cheating investors? Its group total calculates to the addition of AF+KL+Hop+Transavia. So where (and why) is Joon traffic being hidden? The most-likely hiding place is AF’s total. But nowhere does AFKL state this.

 

We are surprised the Euronext stockmarket, where AFKL is listed, tolerates this obfuscation.

 

 

-British (=ICAG). The ICAG group is producing a good +8%; only BA, representing the group’s biggest share at 58%, is slow. Iberia (our estimate) +12%, AerLingus (our estimate) +15%, Vueling (our estimate) +13%.

 

 

-Easyjet. Impressive seat factor, 94%.

 

 

-Lufthansa (LHG). The group is humming along at +12%. Yet even if Austrian +10%, Brussels +11% (our calculation), Swiss +9%, are doing well, we remain struck by fast growth at Eurowings +28% (our calculation).

 

Lufthansa itself, biggest in LHG (57% share) is the slowest, at +7%, but that is still twice as fast as, say, ICAG’s biggest airline, British.

 

 

-Ryanair. Impressive seat factor, 96%.

 

 

-Others of note:

We thought growth at Turkish would slow with its political and terrorism/war episodes, but at +8%, it is picking up again. However, that is partly a Dead Cat bounce as its growth was just +1% in the first-half of 2017.

 

Of regional trends for the Big-3 groups, despite that Asia Pacific is oft-reported as a boom region, it is slower than systemwide growth for the three – +3% for AFKL, -1% ICAG, +4% LHG.

 

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

 

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

September travel stocks’ ups and downs

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FOXTROTS*

 

September travel stocks’ ups and downs

Travel stocks (US, Asia Pacific, Europe) in September. Airlines: biggest growth, Turkish +17%; biggest fall, Jet (India) -35% sic. Hotels: Dusit Thani +13%, Wynn -14%. Tech: Trivago +28% sic, Travelport -9%. Others: Boeing +8%, Thomas Cook -31% sic.

 

Previous month: Airlines: biggest growth, SAS +17%; biggest fall, Jet (India) -9%. Hotels: Belmond +48% sic, Jinjiang -20%. Tech: Trivago +17%, cTrip -5%. Others: Hertz +16%, China Tvl -19%.

 

TBA Travel Stocks Index: World 240, Asia Pacific 97, Europe 214, US 408. Index previous month: World 241, Asia Pacific 103, Europe 218, US 409.

 

NVTT (Net Value Travel Tech) Stocks Index: 141; previous month 141.

 

Stockmarkets. Biggest growth Istanbul +8%; biggest fall India -6%. Previous month: biggest growth New Zealand +4%; biggest fall Madrid -5%.

 

 

Comments:

We have had to flag three stocks with ‘sic’ – because their changes are so big that readers might think there is a mistake. But no, Jet fell -35%, Thomas Cook fell -31%, Trivago grew +28%. (And last month Belmond grew +48%.)

 

This means of course that these are turbulent times. And generally negative – many of those big growths follow falls the month earlier.

 

Overall, our Index for travel stocks in Asia Pacific fell below its 100 starting point.

 

In general, airlines had a bad month – about half were falling. No-frills-airlines as well! In Europe , Easyjet -14%, Norwegian -6%, Ryanair -8%, Wizz -9%. In AsPac Air Asia -8%. Only did Southwest in the US manage growth – +2%.

 

In AsPac, not only is Etihad-owned Jet the worst performer, but is 75% below its end-2017 price!

 

Hotel groups are not having such a good time either. In the US, for instance, five of the eight we track are below their end-2017 prices. Wynn is the worst, down -25%.

 

Travel-tech stocks were, as so often, mixed. Even if Trivago was fastest this month, it is half its end-2016 launch price.

 

We cannot find much good news, because as we noted, many of the growths follow earlier falls. Both aircraft-builders are good. We track only two travel agencies, both Germany based, but although TUI is flat over end-2017, Thomas Cook is half its end-2017 price.

 

 

Info from the Travel Business Analyst newsletters. Details in next month’s newsletters.

 

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

 

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

Trump Slump Bumped – extraordinary changes in US visitor counts that turn a fall into growth.

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FOXTROTS*

 

Trump Slump Bumped – extraordinary changes in US visitor counts that turn a fall into growth.

The US has produced a new set of figures on visitor arrivals in the US. It reverses the Trump Slump into a Bump. But the new counts do not correct what may have been a fault; they deliberately miscategorise figures, which produces a Trump Bump.

 

We are shocked, but we have seen no other reports that have analysed the changes.

 

Here is the story:

 

Earlier this year, many reports on visitor arrivals in the US were reporting a ‘Trump Slump’ – a fall in visitors prompted by the negative actions and words of the newish US president, Donald Trump. When he was not banning or trying to ban certain types or citizens from visiting the US, his words were unfriendly.

 

Not only did his words ascertain that the US was on its way to becoming great again, but, almost concomitantly, non-Americans (=foreigners) were not so good, at best.

 

In those circumstances, there should have been little surprise that the number of visitors would fall. Even if the banned nationals were tiny suppliers of visitors to the US (we guess some country-markets in the hundreds, and maybe 10,000 over a year), many others would, sensibly, have reconsidered a visit to the US.

 

Would a France national, moslem, born in France of parents from Morocco, continue to assume a visit to the US would be trouble free?

 

But a fall in visitors, of course, even if a likely outcome of specific actions, was not welcomed by the US administration. Its discourse was, and is, that everything is better for everyone in the US, and possibly better than since the beginning of time.

 

This is not to say that we accuse the US government of helping the US administration to falsify facts. But its actions nevertheless raise suspicions.

 

Last April, the US government said it was checking visitor-arrival counts because some visitors may have been miscategorised.

 

The country’s DMO (NTTO, National Travel and Tourism Office) says some arrivals were incorrectly reported as showing US as the country of residence. The passport country for many (NTTO says ‘a large number’, but provides no further definition to enable others to define it thus) of the affected records was Brazil, China, India.

 

This month, NTTO announced that the problem has now been fixed.

 

But, we declare, it has not been corrected.

 

The NTTO says any visitor-arrival that listed the US as the country of residence has now been changed to show the passport country as the country of residence. This is actually changing what may have been a mistake (obviously most arrivals with India passports were/are not residents of the US, even if some were recorded as US residents) to a clear mistake (assuming all those non-US-citizen visitor-arrivals were/are not resident in the US).

 

This exercise has reversed the Trump Slump into a Trump Bump.

 

In general terms, based on our notes above about the unwelcome sentiment in Trump’s US for ‘foreigners’, the visitor-arrival count now seems wrong. That said, we accept that few figures ‘seem’ right all the time; there are always surprises.

 

The NTTO says the change (it says ‘corrective’ but as we have noted, these are not corrections, this is just re-categorisation) means the mistake (if that is what it was) in 2017 affected 3.7mn visitors in 2017 – almost a full Trump Year – yet only 540,000 visitors in non-Trump 2016.

 

The other broad figures (more, with an accompanying table, in a WYSK report, what-you-should-know, from Travel Business Analyst):

-The new figures show there were 38.9mn +2.0% overseas visitors in 2017. The old figures were 35.2mn -6.2%.

-For total visitors (ie including Canada, Mexico), new 76.9mn +0.7%, old 73.3mn -3.1%.

-There were no changes for visitors from Canada, Mexico in 2017, but changes in 2016 and 2015. Although the changes in those earlier years were small, why were those 2017 figures ‘corrected’ before the ‘mistake’ in the categorisation was discovered? Even though the Canada and Mexico visitor-arrival counts are so big (almost 40mn in 2017), no visitor was mis-categorised?

 

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

Trottings*; Nogo Opodo.

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Trottings*; Nogo Opodo.

A series of operational issues indicates serious faults at the Opodo OTA.

 

On booking a flight, the site indicated that I would be given the opportunity to book baggage before making the final payment. So I continued with the process. When I reached the procedure to pay, I still thought that a window or other opportunity would be given to add baggage. But no, it simply confirmed the booking – thus with no baggage included.

 

I then check under My Trip, or similar, where I was given the opportunity to add bags. So I clicked.

 

The wording, precisely, was ‘Whoops! It seems we can’t book this online’. In other words, Opodo could not do what it said it could do. But the solution, again in Opodo’s words, was ‘Please call us to add your baggage!’

 

So I called the number and made my request. After being put on hold and what seemed a long wait for a simple request (but perhaps it was only 2/3 minutes), the agent said No, they could not book the baggage now. Only 24 hours before the flight!

 

This means that on three occasions, Opodo had offered what it did not provide.

 

I asked the agent how much the extra baggage would cost. She could not tell me; I had to wait until I booked the baggage – but obviously there is a risk that just 24 hours before the flight, this would be costly.

 

On two separate log-in occasions (on different days), I went back to the Opodo site, My Trip, and opened chat. Four windows were requested, of which two were obligatory (first and last name; duh!). I could not connect with those two and so added the two others. No luck.

 

The message: ‘There was an issue starting your chat session. Please verify your connection and that you submitted all required information properly, then try again’.

 

The information required was obviously correct (as it was my name and there was no connection to a reservation or email address), and so I presume it is another Opodo fault.

 

Of course I will not use Opodo again. Even if the operational hitches described are fixed, there is still the matter of Opodo’s relationship with the airline. I chose Opodo because of its known reputation, but it seems that is no longer enough. There are services that Opodo cannot provide if its arrangement with the airline does not allow this.

 

And so if the price difference between the OTA and airline offer is not great, I will in future select the airline’s offer – although I might try one of the big others such as Expedia to see if they are slipping as Opodo is.

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an intellectual in the parallel world.

 

*Trottings = Trip Jottings

UK travel trends; trouble x6

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FOXTROTS*

 

UK travel trends; trouble x6

I’ve just worked on UK travel data for the first three months of this year. It is trouble x6; falls in every month, both inbound and outbound.

 

Remember, the fall of the UK currency after the Brexit vote in 2016 was expected to boost visitor arrivals, but also prompt a fall in outbound travel.

 

Whoops.

 

Outbound may be matching expectations, falling -5.4% in Q1. But inbound also fell every month in Q1 (January by a painful -15%), and -5.6% for all-Q1.

 

Could the difference be business travel? Commentary (as above) relates the currency fall primarily to leisure travel. Business travel or even others such as sports-, event-, religious-travel are less affected by currency changes.

 

Could it be that business travellers are having fewer reasons to visit the UK until the post-Brexit economic rules are set?

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

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