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Back after summer … and how are things now?

The Lund University School of Aviation blog is back (well, it has been back a few days in Swedish, but this is the first post in English for the autumn season.) As always, there is much to cover in the aviation industry, so to the post of this first day has an overview of a few things that has come up recently.

First of all, the recent news that easyJet has rejected a takeover bid from Wizz Air (link to article below) has been widely reported. The takeover bid shows who is doing well, and who is not doing so well, in the world of European low-cost travel. While easyJet has been hard hit by the pandemic and its effects on travel, Wizz Air seems to just have taken a breather to then continue its expansion. A bettered share price for easyJet probably helped to attract the bid from Wizz Air, who in one swwop could have become a pan-European and similarly sized compeititor to Ryanair. While Wizz Air is comepting with Ryanair in regards to pushing operational cost and ticket prices down, easyJet has come across as less aggressive in this regard and more as a lower-price competitor with traditional flag carriers. That times of crisis invites mergers and acquisitions is nothing new, but the bid from Wizz Air was a bit of a surprise for many and points to an interesting time ahead for lox-cost airlines in Europe.

In Asia, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy (link to article below) with the aim of a reconstruction. This means that the flag carrier of the Philippines may survive after some time of cost-cutting and rebuilding, but it certainly is not a good sign for a traditional airline that is now competing with multiple low-cost rivals at home and in Asia (Cebu Pacific, Zest, South East Asian, Air Asia Philippines being some of them). In a first step, the aircraft fleet will be reduced from 92 to 70 aircraft as some aircraft are returnd to lessors. Also, the airline will ask Airbus to delay the arrival of 13 new narrow-body jets. PAL was founded in 1941 and is knwon as the first and oldest commercial airline in Asia that still operates under its original name. Given the current situation and the increasing pressures from low-cost competition, the question is how long this brand name will be able to continue to maintain its legacy.

In the U.S., there has been a deal between the government and airlines on measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. The agreement sets as a goal that the airlines should decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent before the end of this decade. The increased use of sustainable aviation fuels will be one important contributor for the industry to be able to achieve this goal. What is interesting is that one of the major U.S. airlines, United, and the manufacturer Honeywell, have made large investment in the company Alder Fuels. This is to drastically increase the production of sustainable aviation fuels and United has signed up for a large amount of such fuel over the next 20 years.

And finally, developments toward universal single-pilot operations are continuing (link below). This is however progressing in careful steps and is nothing new, but an interesting update on the progress in this area. The article focuses on how two pilots should soon be enough for even longer flights, with technical system solutions allowing one crew to rest or be inactive on the flight deck, or rest outside of it. In one sense, these developments could be likened to a sort of ETOPS for pilots. Gradually, the reliability of technical systems and pilots will be tested to see how long they can be expected to preform safely without adding risk to the operation. There are certainly competing and conflicting interests around this development, but long-term the direction of manufacturers is focused on increasing use of technology to reduce the requirement of having two pilots on the flight deck at all times.

Links to articles:
European airlines jostle for position as they look beyond pandemic
Philippine Airlines files for bankruptcy
Biden, airlines strike deal to slash carbon emissions
Aviation industry looks to reduced-crew long-haul flights for cost savings

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