Monday, 12 September 2011

Aer Lingus: The New Demand Environment ©

The Aer Lingus Investor Day in London on the 28th of September is set to mark a turning point, when phase two of ‘Project Greenfield’ details are released. The airline has signaled a shift in its operations is on the agenda given the reference to seasonality becoming a big challenge, with the business becoming seasonal with a 60% difference between summer and winter demand. 

I await with interest what the carrier will announce. Is the traffic pattern going back to the 1970/1980s??.

The airline is now using a ‘Demand-Lead’ model to manage fleet capacity, the carrier is now going to have increasingly adopt a ‘Seasonality’ model to manage its resources as business prominently shifts to the summer season, reversing the MRO model where the peak business is in the winter season, therefore given the indicaitons of seasonality being a big challenge, is it likely the second phase of Project Greenfield will bring radical change to the operating model??.

The airline can absorb growth with load factors of 75% with one in four seats empty their scope to drive a higher return on its existing assets.

The Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Muller is now taking a tough stance against the DAA charges, having previously called the charges ‘Insane’, he is now calling for ‘Structural reform in airport charges at Dublin’, stating ‘The DAA is an 100% subsidiary of the state’. This clearly indicating the state has control to directly influence the level of airport charges.

It is clear the status quo at Dublin Airport cannot continue, it will become a challenge for the airport operator to keep traffic levels at 18 million passengers per annum. The new daily service to Dubai announced by Emirates Airlines is to be weclomed using A330-200s daily from the 9th of January.

The airline has indicated it is examining options regarding dry lease options in winter 2012/3 for A320/330 with reference to potential carriers in Asia/China with a counter demand cycle, that could could potentially share aircraft ownership costs with Aer Lingus, this can be seen in the context of the three pilar strategy of joining an alliance, in the past the carrier leased Boeing 747-100s to Lan Chile for the Winter season and Ryan International with Boeing 737-400/500s.

The carrier has the option to terminate the A320s leases in the absence of a pick up in domestic demand by not renewing the leases; the carrier could potentially expand the Aer Lingus Regional ATR72 operation on UK routes flown by A320s. This winter will see Aer Lingus Regional take over the operation of the Dublin to Edinburgh route.

The carrier is introducing four leased Airbus A319s to the fleet from 2012 with two units to enter service in 2012 and two in 2013, while displacing larger A320 capacity.

The carrier has completed its business case evaluation of regional jets under consideration for an order within expected in the next two years are the Bombardier CS Series and Embraer E-190/195, allowing the carrier to have flexibility in the 120 seat range. (See Air International August 2011 Issue).

Aer Lingus therefore will reduce its average seat size capacity over the medium term, as the carrier evolves from the single type A320 family fleet on short-haul adopted from the LCC model, giving the carrier greater flexibility to respond customer lead demand on its route network with the ATR72, Airbus A319 and a new regional jet up to the A320.   

The carrier stated customer feedback has been very positive on T2 stating it looks and feels like their own terminal from check-in to the aircraft, giving the carrier a competitive advantage. A number of airbridges on T2 and Pier B are branded in Aer Lingus colours, following the trend of US Carriers at their US Hubs.  

The Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Muller identified a number of  T2 issues with US CBP baggage handling with some manual handling, fuel pump lines not connected to fuel farm,  no aircraft stand guidance system stating Brussles South Charleroi Airport has the system.

The Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Muller stated “It is not an airport it is a shopping mall”.

The Irish Government has indicated a radical change in aviation policy stating the DAA’s ownership of the three airports is no longer ‘Tenable’, and in the medium term the sale of the 25% stake of Aer Lingus is on the agenda, will lead to a radical re-adjustment in the aviation sector.

Aer Lingus commissioned this video to mark 75 years of operation

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 12th September 2011 All Rights Reserved.