Airline ExpansionIt appears that the bad dream has ended in daylight for Boeing this month as it retains a firm grasp on the industry’s top spot for order numbers, despite the teething issues surrounding its 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft manufacturer had clinched the number one ranking from Airbus last year, with broadly higher orders and deliveries for January demonstrating the tenacity of this trend. Moreover, last week’s test flight approval of the 787 suggests promising action is underway for the aircraft’s return to commercial service, having been grounded since the middle of January over battery ignition concerns. Taking this development and the post-recession recovery in certain economies, we ask the question: what changes are in store for 2013 and which airlines are driving further expansion?

Last month marked a particularly dynamic period for the two leading aircraft manufacturers, as sales notably outperformed earlier forecasts. During this time, Boeing confirmed deliveries of 39 aircraft and orders amounting to 145. Even despite the freeze in its 787 release, the company’s figures surpassed its European counterpart, with Airbus taking orders for 121 jetliners and delivering a further 35 over the same period. Additionally, gross orders from last year stand well ahead of the 2012 targets for both companies, showing 1,339 for Boeing and 833 for Airbus – giving the latter a 41 percent share of the market.

‘Underpinning the above average growth in aircraft order numbers is the desire by airlines to replace their fleets with more fuel efficient planes. As fuel price volatility further renders such an initiative economically viable, we will likely see an upshot in orders for the much anticipated A320NEO, 737 MAX and Airbus’s wide-body offering – the A350, due to enter airline service next year. Indeed, we are witnessing it already with the low-cost carrier, Norwegian, who have sought the feasibility offered by the 787 to launch their ambitious plans serving both the US and the Far East. The company had placed an order for eight 787s, providing a number of new opportunities to pilots. The first delivery was expected to take place in April, but this could likely be pushed back given the current circumstances,’ comments the CEO of AviationCV.com, Skaiste Knyzaite.

Driving growth and further openings for pilots in 2013 will be a number of competing factors. Gulf based airlines including Qatar Airways and Etihad are likely to follow-up with their aggressive expansion plans into North America, delving into a market that had long remained untapped. Low-cost carriers in Europe will also seek further expansion on the back of escalating demand from the resilient northern economies. Vueling alone has stated ambitious plans to expand its network by up to 100 destinations in 2013, with both easyJet and Ryanair commencing additional flights in response to the uplift in business travel. Further abroad, the airlines of China and Indonesia are expected to continue with their tenacious development plans. While last year marked the somewhat infamous demise of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, the same financial malaise has not affected other carriers in the country, with Jet Airways and IndiGo reporting a wholly optimistic outlook for 2013 – the latter currently being one of the world’s fastest growing carriers.

S. Knyzaite, CEO of AviationCV.com states that, ‘In the case of Southeast Asia, rising income levels combined with further open sky negotiations this year have initiated exponential growth plans in the low-cost carrier segment. For instance, budget airlines including Lion Air, Air Asia, Cebu Air and Tiger Airways have upwards of 700 new planes on order at the current time. Undoubtedly this will require proficient management of their individual recruitment strategies in order not to sustain a loss in overall competitiveness. This is the airline industry we are talking about here, and the margin for error over most facets of operation is typically razor-thin. For airlines to enhance their market standing, it may prove tremendously to their advantage to make use of the services tendered by flight crew recruitment agencies, as Norwegian has done so with their 787 fleet orders. A number of these agencies are aptly positioned to provide customised recruitment solutions ensuring both a sustainable and predictable route of expansion.’

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