Airlines. Who’s the biggest of them all?

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Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

January 31 2011


Airlines. Who’s the biggest of them all?



HE continental divide. Three airlines on three continents are vying for the title of the world’s largest airline in terms of seats sold. Currently it is US-based Southwest Airlines.

In 2010, Southwest held on. It finished the year having sold 88mn seats, but its growth was only 2%.

And in growth rates, the two challengers are moving much faster. Ireland-based (but with most of its operations from the UK) Ryanair grew at 11%, which took it to 73mn. We thought Ryanair’s growth would have given it something (more) to boast about by overtaking Southwest in 2010 to become the world’s largest.

But it has been cheated out of the chance, by an airline that is from the usual location now for adjectives such as ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, etc – China.

In 2010, Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines grew at a remarkable 15%, overtaking Ryanair and ending the year with 76mn seats sold.

If those patterns are maintained this year, then the order at end-2011 will remain the same – SW, CSA, Ryan. In 2012 it would be CSA, SW, Ryan, and then in 2013 Ryan would make it to No 2.

Spare a thought though for a game change. SW and Ryan are both low-fare-airlines. CSA is a regular airline. China’s government currently controls/limits airline activity. Just think what will happen when controls are lifted and LFAs can operate freely in China.


The Fox


Trottings. ATF Cambodia, Bangkok, Langham, Easyjet Berlin.

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= Trip Jottings.

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox.

January 20 2011


Trottings. ATF Cambodia, Bangkok, Langham, Easyjet Berlin.



EPORTS from ATF in Cambodia, Bangkok airport, Langham Hotels, Easyjet in Berlin.


[] THE key Travex (travel exchange) part of this week’s ATF (Asean Tourism Forum) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has reported new figures.

Although earlier reporting a sell-out, organisers TTG Asia Media now say it has sold 518 booths, not 500. And there are expected to be 442 buyers, not 400. However, total delegate numbers are unchanged – 1600.

[] Airports Authority of Thailand wanted its Bangkok Suvarnabumi to be “one of the world best” by 2009. Most assumed it failed, partly because protesters shut down the place in late-2008.

I can therefore exclusively award it that accolade. Unfortunately, it is also one of the world’s worst. As, of course, are all airports – both “one of” the worst and the best.

[] Langham Hotels says that if personalities personified its hotels (although they didn’t put it quite as cleverly as me), then: Audrey Hepburn is Langham; Richard Branson is Langham Place; Cameron Diaz is Eaton – although she might have something to say about that.

Meanwhile in China, the group used a popular singer there for celebrity endorsement of its new hotel in Shanghai. His name? Lang Lang.


[] For departures at Berlin Schonefeld airport, UK-based Easyjet has desks marked ‘Online check-in/Bag Drop’. But most desks read ‘See the Scorecard’.


I have no idea what that means, and English is my native tongue; Easyjet should know better. By elimination I presume it is for those travellers who have not checked-in online.



The Fox


Trottings. Emirates, Luxury, Qantas.

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= Trip Jottings.

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox.

January 19 2011


Trottings. Emirates, Luxury, Qantas.



OME more jotted observations on my travels – these on the airlines Emirates and Qantas, and on luxury travel training:

[] Emirates cannot get its head round some operating problems – partly because it is run by airline experts who follow the old airline rules.

If you do not do online check-in (CI), the system tells you to turn up at the CI desk three hours before flight departure time. But if you do, and the flight is oversold (as in my case), you have to wait until CI is closed before you can CI – yes – which means 30-minutes before departure.

And as you cannot CI, you cannot CI your baggage. Thus if you follow the airline’s rules, you are obliged to sit around the airport with your baggage for nearly three hours. That is not quite the level of service that Emirates is promoting.

The airline needs to tell its passengers who do not CI online to CI, say, 45 minutes before departure, but advise them that they may have to wait 15 minutes before checking in.

Another example of an otherwise-good airline that cannot devise new systems for its operations – despite the fact that as a primarily sixth-freedom airline, those operations are different from normal airlines.

[] Luxury. The question (not from me, although it was a smart one) came at the conference at the International Luxury Travel Mart.

How do you train staff to know what the luxury traveller wants when it is not their life experience?


The answer was fair enough, but is irrelevant because the only real answer is It Is Not Possible. Although that is the same for many types of training in the travel business, it is more important in the luxury business – because service is such an important part of the product.

[] Qantas. I had a long flight, from Europe to Melbourne. Unfortunately, this required aircraft changes in Bangkok and Sydney. Fortunately, I was travelling in business class. Fortunately, the airline has comfortable bathroom facilities for passengers at both transit airports, which included shower rooms. And so fortunately I arrived in Melbourne tired – but clean.


The Fox