April travel stocks’ ups and downs

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FOXTROTS*

 

April travel stocks’ ups and downs

Travel stocks (US, Asia Pacific, Europe) in April:

 

Airlines: biggest growth, China Eastern +15%; biggest fall, American -14%.

Hotels: Dusit +8%, MGM -8%.

Tech: Travelport +7%, Trivago -34%.

Others: ILG +12%, HNA -10%.

 

Comments: Actually, Norwegian was highest, +80%, after ICAG bought a small stake. Trivago in trouble; it will probably be sold before end-year.

 

Previous month:

Airlines: biggest growth, Hawaiian +8%; biggest fall, China Southern -23%.

Hotels: Wynn +10%, Shangri-La -10%.

Tech: Travelport +13%, eDreams -26%.

Others: HNA +12%, ILG -9%.

 

 

TBA Travel Stocks Index: World 248, Asia Pacific 123, Europe 204, US 407.

Index previous month: World 244, Asia Pacific 122, Europe 207, US 413.

 

 

NVTT (Net Value Travel Tech) Stocks Index: 130; previous month 132.

 

 

Stockmarkets. Biggest growth Paris +7%; biggest fall Istanbul -9%. Previous month: biggest growth Stockholm +3%; biggest fall New York-Nasdaq -5%.

 

 

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.

 

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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 airline groups, where relevant) in Europe, excerpts from the current editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, over January-February.

 

Seat sales (RPKs for British; our estimates for Ryan), in alphabetical order: Air France (no longer separated out from AF-KLM); British +2%; Easyjet +4%; Lufthansa +6%; Ryanair +5%.

 

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

 

-Air France. As noted, the unhappy managers at AF-KLM, who are mainly AF despite the faster-growing strength of KLM, have elected for results-opacity. Starting this month, data for AF and KL are no longer separated – probably because AF is doing badly. And no data for new subsidiary Joon either.

We are surprised that the Dutch stockmarket allows this (we understand that the Paris market would be sympathetic). The group’s no-frills-airline Transavia not doing well (+6%); is Joon getting favoured treatment (in all forms?).

The whole group at +4%. Because figures are now hidden, we cannot determine what is doing what, and thus we are left with just one observation – the group is not doing well.

 

-British (=ICAG). Iberia +7%, good for a full-service-airline. AerLingus’s +8% (our estimate) should be better. Barcelona-based Vueling’s +17% (our estimate) good; are the Barcelona troubles over (that’s travel; political ones are not).

 

-Easyjet. Whoops on traffic, but at least its already-impressive seat factor grew 1pt to 93%.

 

-Lufthansa. Austrian +16%; is this a market-share war as a number of players push their product in the market? Brussels, at +17%, is becoming a big player; it is almost the same size as the much-longer established Austrian.

The Eurowings story should be covered in all the trade (and consumer) media, but relatively, it gets little attention. Yet in seat sales, it is the biggest airline in the group after Lufthansa itself! And look at that growth – +44%! Swiss is the weakest (although one airline must always be last), with +3%.

With group growth at an impressive +13%, the Lufthansa group might even be able to relax with AF-KL in disarray, and ICAG troubled and soon to be more so as one of its members, British, gets caught up in the UK’s coming exit from the European Union.

 

-Ryanair. Growing slower than rival Easy is close to becoming the norm, after years when Ryan was fastest as well as biggest. Norwegian is growing faster, but with its (too?) fast medium/long-haul route growth, is no longer a direct competitor. Today, Europe’s No3 no-frills-airline is Wizz, +24%, with a 92% seat factor.

 

 

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.

Double WYSKs. Airlines in Asia Pacific, Europe; what’s working, what’s not.

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Double WYSKs. Airlines in Asia Pacific, Europe; what’s working, what’s not.

WYSK = What You Should Know.

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, in January. Seat sales at biggest FSAs (full-service-airlines) in Asia Pacific (whole-group results for all) , in alphabetical order: Air China +2%; Cathay -2%; China Eastern +13%; China Southern +3%; Japan +1%; Singapore flat.

 

Notes (on notable details):

 

-Air China. And the same for international. Looks slow (for China) but this is mainly a Lunar New Year factor. The LNY holiday was in January in 2017, but February this year.

 

-Cathay. When will it realise its businessplan must change? Cathay Pacific should stay as full-service-airline, but Cathay Dragon should become a low-cost-airline or no-frills-airline (our definitions). Then create a third airline as LCA or NFA.

 

-China Eastern. Funny figures, which we are surprised the stock market accepts. For the past two years, calculated growth does not match the figures given earlier – sometimes by sizeable amounts. We cannot get an explanation.

 

-China Southern. As for Air China, mainly a LNY factor .

 

-Japan. As is becoming usual, growth around +1-3%. International, for instance, was only +2%. Poor results considering growths in the visitor business +19%, and even outbound +5%.

 

-Singapore. Oops. Silk was also flat, and seat factor at a probably-lossmaking 71%, and -3pts. We have long proposed a reworked strategy for Silk. The group followed our ideas for its no-frills-airline Scoot (merging with Tiger, although we actually said Scoot should not have been created, and Tiger expanded instead). We propose Silk becomes the group’s low-cost-airline (according to our definitions) . But Scoot not doing well either; just +9%, not good for an NFA.

 

 

Airlines in Europe

Our summary of traffic results for the leading airlines (not airline groups, where relevant) in Europe, excerpts from the current editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, in January. Seat sales (RPKs for British; our estimates for Ryan), in alphabetical order: Air France+Hop +3%; British -2%; Easyjet +9%; Lufthansa +6%; Ryanair +6%.

 

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

 

-Air France. KLM growing fast, +9%; on this basis it will be two-thirds the size of AF this year. Transavia back to fair-growth (for a no-frills-airline), +13%, and seat factor almost touching 90% – which is the minimum we reckon it needs. But transparency at the group is reducing, see https://wp.me/pTv9-lI

 

-British (=ICAG). The group’s growth coming from Iberia – whose +10% compares with BA’s -2%, although BA is still 60% of all-ICAG. Barcelona-based Vueling’s seat sales (our estimate) is now back to good growth, +17%, and although seat factor is still a low 79%, that is for January and a +2pt improvement. Not so encouraging at AerLingus – seat sales only (our estimate) +6%, seat factor a lossmaking 71%, only +1pt better. Needs to do better. No figures for its new subsidiary Level (sic). As the group always hid the results of its now-to-be-closed failure Open Skies (sic; an airline, despite that name), will it do the same for Level – unless traffic is good?

 

-Easyjet. Managed to get seat factor up +2pt to 88% – good for January.

 

-Lufthansa. Most is looking good; only Swiss’s +4% looks weak. The star is still Eurowings, +33% although seat factor is still only 75% even though that was +2pt growth. We thought EW would take growth from Lufthansa, but the parent still managed +6%, although SF was -2pt. The group’s Austrian and Brussels also doing well.

 

-Ryanair. Is that +6% a worry because low (for Ryan)? Growth in the past three Januarys was +17% +25% +31%. But seat factor up +1pt to 91% – at that level SF is hard to grow, but Ryan is doing it.

 

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.

Air France Group’s Joon plot

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FOXTROTS*

 

Air France Group’s Joon plot

In the beginning:

-Air France strike attracts media attention.

 

-Joon starts Paris-Cairo flights.

 

-The Air France Group (AFG) stopped separating AF and KLM traffic stats.

 

 

So where’s the plot?

-Joon was billed and launched as a longhaul no-frills-airline for AFG – Air France, Hop, Joon, KLM, Transavia.

 

-*See our airline-type definitions below to better understand.

 

-Cairo is not an NFA operation. Joon’s A340 has three cabin classes and therefore can be considered a lower-cost replacement for costly Air France. *See LCA (low-cost-airline) in the definitions below.

 

-En passant, Cairo is a medium-haul route, not longhaul as AFG names it.

 

-Starting February, AFG reverted to its practise of publishing combined traffic results for AF and KLM after a 2-year period of transparency. During that period, we noted that KLM, broadly, was growing twice as fast as AF. Today, KLM is about 67% the size of AF; five years ago it was closer to 50%.

 

-So initially we thought the move to hiding traffic results was to reduce the awkwardness (in image and in management – AF still manages AFG) for AF that its KL junior partner is becoming an equal partner.

 

-But perhaps not. Is the move to hide the coming fall in AF traffic as Joon takes over some flights that before would be AF’s? (Note that in our scenario, an LCA can operate on the same routes as the parent airline. In such a case, Joon could simply be providing extra capacity to fill demand on the route.)

 

-If the plan is indeed to make Joon an LCA, it is a smart business move. This is how a sizeable (above 75mn seats sold?) airline group should be constructed. In the AF case, difficulties with staff (actually a France problem) would require hidden moves like this.

 

-But in a more transparent liberal business world, it makes good business/service sense to offer a range of services and fares on some routes. Thus the AFG needs to offer some FSA flights on, say, Paris-Berlin early-morning and end-of-business-day, then perhaps one LCA flight mid-day, and NFA flights at weekends.

 

-Under our definitions, AFG has two FSAs (AF and KLM), one LCA (Joon), and one NFA (Transavia). And Hop.

 

-Hop? If Joon is a smart move, Hop was dumb. It operates on regional routes with smaller aircraft, both higher cost, and aims for FSA levels of service, so higher costs, on routes where the pressure for lower fares is strong. As this strategy must be a loss-maker (no separate figures, financial or traffic, are published), Hop will probably be shut down in the next two years, although that could mean a face-saving merge into AF or even Joon.

 

*Notes: Our airline-type definitions:

-FSA = full-service-airline. Offering first/business/economy, travel agency bookings, meals/bookings/baggage/cancellations included, etc. As its name indicates – full service.

 

-LCA = low-cost-airline. (Not a no-frills-airline; see next.) An FSA but with lower operating costs – cheaper longer-hours flight-deck crew, younger/new longer-hours cabin crew, tighter cost control (twinned 3-star hotel rooms, for example), fewer fare types, may have first and business cabins as well as economy, and which allows bookings through travel agencies etc. If relevant, usually similar to the parent airline, but a different name, and competition against parent airline allowed.

 

-NFA = no-frills-airline. We believe that among the many essential elements that make a successful NFA are: shorthaul point-to-point routes; market freedom in terms of fares, routes; single aircraft type; where relevant, competition against parent airline allowed; extremely-low fares when bought at least three months in advance, say US$25; one fare at one time (no wholesale rates, travel agency commissions, etc); no refunds; no (free) service frills; single economy-class cabin; no (free) seat selection; two toilets for 150-seat aircraft; 25-minute turnaround time; cabin crew do daytime cabin cleaning; name and flight change charged at least US$25 each; no trade shows; plenty of consumer advertising and promotion; and much more.

 

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.

 

Misleading WTTC reports

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Misleading WTTC reports

WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council), a lobby group for the travel business, has published a series of comprehensive reports* for selected markets – some measures comparable, some not.

 

Unfortunately, the group is so careless in its presentations that the professional observer is sometimes left to guess what WTTC’s research shows. We believe its presentations are in contrast with the professionalism of its research.

 

As a result, the following is our (abridged) list of WTTC’s findings, with comments where necessary.

 

(Note: WTTC mainly uses the awkward term ‘travel and tourism’*, which we change to the more-practical ‘travel business’*, abbreviated here to TB. Data for 2017, unless noted otherwise.)

 

[] World.

-TB turnover +4.6%. Visitor spend +4.3%. GDP growth a WTTC-rounded +3%.

 

[] North Africa.

-TB turnover (overall GDP, TB’s share of GDP): +22.6%; Egypt US$21.1bn +72.9% (+4.1%, 11.0%); Tunisia US$5.7bn +7.6% (WTTC-rounded +2%, 14.2%); Turkey US$98.4bn WTTC-rounded +17% (+7.0%, 11.6%). Note Turkey is part in Europe, part in Asia (Minor), which is sometimes a reason for including it in the Middle East. Including it in North Africa is incorrect.

-‘…well on track to return to pre-crisis levels’. Without a date, this is meaningless commentary; it was on that track the moment the TB stopped falling.

 

[] Australia.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$156bn/A$197.5bn +2.3% (+2.2%).

 

[] Canada.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$108bn/C$138.8bn +4.5% (a WTTC-rounded +3%). In a separate report, WTTC puts growth as +5.5%.

 

[] China.

-TB turnover +9.8%.

 

[] France.

-TB 50% faster than world average. Wrong? The same report showed that this was a comparison with the visitor business, not the overall TB.

-Visitors to France spent US$54.7bn (at US$1 to €0.81) +6.4%.

-TB turnover US$252.2bn, an 8.9% share.

 

[] Germany.

-TB turnover US$429.8bn +1.7%.

 

[] India.

-Forecast to overtake Germany as #3 by 2028.

 

[] Indonesia.

-TB turnover US$57bn/Rph787.1tn +6.4%; overall GDP +5.1%.

-Forecast +6.4% annual average growth rate 2018-27.

 

[] Italy.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$275.6bn +2.7%, a WTTC-rounded 13% share (+1.6%).

-Visitor spend US$48.9bn +6.5%.

 

[] Japan.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$350bn/¥37.1tn +3.4% (+1.6%).

-Forecasts 40mn visitors in 2020. Not clear if this is a WTTC forecast or a restatement of Japan’s government’s target.

 

[] Saudi Arabia.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$64bn/R240.9bn +4.6% (a WTTC-rounded +1%), a 9.4% share of GDP.

 

[] Spain.

-TB turnover a WTTC-rounded +7%.

 

[] UK.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$297bn/a-WTTC-rounded-£214bn +6.2% (+1.5%).

-Visitors +6.7%, outbound travellers +2.5% (+7.8% 2016, +9.9% 2015), domestic travellers +5.8%, spend by visitors to UK +7.9%, spend by domestic travellers +5.8%.

 

[] US.

 

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$1.5tn +2.3% world’s largest (same, +2.3%).

*Notes:

-WTTC has its own methodology for calculating the turnover of the travel business including not just inbound, outbound, and domestic travel, but other industries involved in the business. For instance, if 0.5% of the world’s cars go into the car-rental business, that measure will be calculated into the turnover of the overall travel business.

 

Unfortunately, WTTC is not always clear that its data is related to this grand total, and often its commentary appears to be related to just one sector – often, the inbound visitor business. In addition, it sometimes uses the terms ‘travel’ or ‘tourism’ alone; we cannot always determine if these mean something different from ‘travel & tourism’.

 

WTTC’s name does not help – the ‘TT’ is ‘travel & tourism’, where we would define ‘travel’ as covering all segments of the travel business, with ‘tourism’ meaning ‘leisure travel’ to most observers – just one segment. This means that most people and bodies the WTTC lobbies may think they are discussing just inbound leisure travel.

 

-Most US$ figures are our conversions from WTTC figures.

 

A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.

 

 

WTTC Research Director Rochelle Turner responds:

The methodology that WTTC uses aligns to the UN a statistical Methodology for accounting for Travel & Tourism (TSA RMF:2008).  

The definition of the sector from the TSA RMF:2008 is as follows: ‘the activity of persons travelling to and staying in places outside of their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not remunerated from within the place visited’. 

Our approach has been independently audited and is fully available for view on our website, www.wttc.org. All country regions are fully explained on the final pages within each country report. 

 

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.

 

Bigger Trump slump in US visitors

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Bigger Trump slump in US visitors

 

Trump Slump 1

Normally we would not analyse data for one month so thoroughly. But these are not normal times, thus this analysis – this one primarily on Jan-Sep.

 

There was slight improvement in Q3. Jan-Sep total visitors fell -3.8%, compared with Jan-Jun -3.9%, although September turned worse, -5.0%. The main reason for the worsening was results in the ‘overseas’ markets (all except Canada, Mexico) – -6.3% -5.7% but -8.7%.

 

Of the regions we track (calculations from US DMO’s data) indicate worsening for Europe -2.3 -2.6 but -4.0, and for Asia Pacific -1.7 -0.9 but -3.2.

 

Overall then, it appears the Trump Slump is worsening.

 

Other comments:

[] 11 markets in top-20 are getting better (faster growth or slower fall; Jan-Jun compared with Jan-Sep). Those getting worse (slower growth or faster fall) are (in size order): Canada, China, Korea, Germany, India, Italy, Colombia, Spain, Sweden.

 

[] Ignoring for a moment precise reporting, markets essentially unchanged (Sep compared with Jan-Sep) are Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, India.

 

[] Biggest turns for the worst (Sep compared with Jan-Sep) are Japan (to -7% Sep from +0% Jan-Sep), China (-7 -6), Italy (-4 +3), Spain (-1 +3), Argentina (-36 -22), Netherlands (-6 +2), Colombia (-26 -12).

 

[] A rare Trump Bump. Korea soars forward at +18% Jan-Sep, same Jan-Jun, and +23% September.

 

 

 

Trump Slump 2

Forward Keys, a research company, tracks travel based on air bookings. Some of its findings on travel to the US:

[] For all-2017 air bookings were -2.0%. This year Jan/Feb was down fractionally, -0.02%.

 

[] FK reports that the fall in the value of the UK- against the US-currency, following the UK’s mid-2016 vote to leave the European Union, discouraged many UK would-be travellers. The UK is the US’s largest market after contiguous Canada and Mexico.

 

[] FK says visitors from China flattened in 2017 after substantial growth in 2016. Our database on actual arrivals shows something different – a -6% fall over Jan-Sep 17, but +15% Jan-Dec 16.

 

[] Outlook is better. FK reports international bookings to the US from within the Americas are +7%, and longhaul bookings from elsewhere are just +0.5% ahead. However, if ‘Americas includes the contiguous markets of Canada and Mexico, these two alone swing the total.

 

[] FK says Mexico forward bookings to August are +28.9%. Again, this contrasts our 2017 data, which shows -8% Jan-Sep 17.

 

[] Brazil forward bookings for the same period +24.8%.

 

[] US destinations. FK reports Florida as the biggest destination in the US, although we have New York City the largest single destination. FK reports Florida -1.0%.

 

A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.

 

 

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.

 

What worked; what didn’t. Airlines in Europe in 2017

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What worked; what didn’t. Airlines in Europe in 2017

An excerpt from our monthly Travel Business Analyst newsletter.

 

Our summary of traffic results for the leading airlines (not airline groups, where relevant) in Europe, over January-December. Seat sales (RPKs for British; our estimates for Ryan): Air France+Hop +3%; British +1%; Easyjet +10%; Lufthansa +6%; Ryanair +10%.

 

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

 

-Air France. KLM’s +8% is about best among Europe’s biggest (above 30k seat sales). We thought Transavia would bring constant good news, but growth has been seriously slowing in recent months. Its all-year +11% is not good, particularly as it is still a small airline; its 15mn seat sales are only half those of, say, Wizz.

 

Is more effort going to launch Joon (yes, that’s its name)? When will the group follow the Singapore Airlines group and merge its two NFAs (no-frills-airlines)? Two years?

 

 

-British (=ICAG). All the group’s airlines finished the year strongly – except the biggest, British, just +1%! Barcelona-based Vueling had a bad year, +4%, but blame that on the city’s Catalan crisis; seat sales actually fell in two months, and were flat in two others. AerLingus growth is also slowing.

 

As at AF-KL, is ICAG focussing on its new medium-haul NFA (Level; yes, that’s its name)? As we have long forecast, ICAG’s Open Skies (yes; ICAG is good at giving weird names to some of its airlines) is shutting down. And it lost its bid for Niki, a failing Vienna-based NFA that original owner Niki Lauda will now make his third airline loss (Lauda Air, Niki 1, Niki 2). He was good at running F1 racing cars; no good at running airlines.

 

What’s next for ICAG’s rationalisation? Merger into one groupette (names will not be lost) of AerLingus, Level, Vueling?

 

 

-Easyjet. Same growth as Ryan! That’s Ryan’s relative slowdown , not just Easy’s growth; all-2016 was +7% for Easy, +15% Ryan .

 

 

-Lufthansa. All-group sales were +18%; stunning yes? Well no, because the group does not compare like with like; not including its new subsidiary Brussels in 2016, for instance. According to our apples-apples calculations, that +18% is actually a mundane +5%.

 

That said, its Eurowings is growing at super speeds – +28%. It was already bigger than Austrian; now it is also bigger than Swiss. And it is steadily becoming what we call a low-cost-airline (not an NFA), and taking-over or taking-on, routes from the FSAs (full-service-airlines) in the group at a lower cost .

 

 

-Ryanair. See Easy above. Note also that Easy improved its seat factor from 90% to 92%, and Ryan 95% to 96%. Despite the different numbers, these growths are equally impressive; Any growth above about-92% is hard.

 

However, we suspect Ryan finds a way to count everyone so that on some flights the paper seat factor would be above 100%. Indeed, we would not be surprised if it manages to count those from cancelled flights!

 

 

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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