US airlines set to face more competition from Norwegian and Qatar Airways on long-haul routes; EVA Air propels Taiwan growth
Two recent announcements appear to have upset some US airlines and various organisations seeking to protect the interests of US airlines and their employees. On 3 December the US Department of Transportation (DOT) finally awarded a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian Air International, the Irish-based subsidiary of Norwegian, which will allow it to use EU traffic rights to grow its transatlantic route network. A few days earlier Qatar Airways had restated its intention to start serving Las Vegas, its 11th destination in the US, though no specific start date has been identified. Both of these carriers have been growing quickly in the US market in recent years.
anna.aero decided to look at where these carriers rank on international routes to and from the US. But rather than use flights or seats as the metric, we have chosen ASKs, which is a better proxy for revenue as it takes into account the number of seats offered and sector length. Not surprisingly the three US legacy carriers take the first three places with United Airlines beating American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. However, all three appear to be cutting international capacity compared with last winter, by between 3% and 6%. Despite this they still account for 33% of all ASKs on international flights from the US. Only one other US carrier makes the top 15, JetBlue Airways in 12th place, and it too is cutting international capacity this winter by around 2%.
The leading non-US carriers are Emirates, British Airways and Lufthansa. Of the 11 non-US carriers in the top 15, five are registering ASK growth, while six are offering fewer ASKs this winter. Qatar Airways has burst into the top 10 this winter after ranking just 17th last winter. With ASK growth of over 37%, it beats EVA Air as the fastest-growing airline in the top 15.
Just outside the top 15 are Qantas, Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines. Another of the MEB3 carriers, Etihad Airways, has actually fallen from 18th place in W15/16 to 20th in W16/17 with a 19% cut in US ASKs, a combination of a 5% cut in flights and a downgauging of aircraft type on some routes. Meanwhile Norwegian, which ranked just 39th in W15/16, has jumped to 23rd in W16/17, courtesy of a 73% growth in its ASKs.
UK still #1 for ASKs; China overtakes Japan this winter
Doing a similar analysis by country confirms the importance of the UK market, which is 50% bigger than the Chinese and Japanese markets – these two Asian markets have swopped places this winter for second and third position. Maybe surprisingly the UAE has dropped a place, from fifth to sixth, with Mexico moving up a spot. Qatar breaks into the top 15 thanks to Qatar Airways’ growth, while EVA Air’s expansion has helped Taiwan move up a couple of places. The economic difficulties in Brazil have seen that country drop from 9th to 13th place.
Despite significant expansion by Aer Lingus resulting in 18% growth in the Irish market, the Emerald Isle ranks just 24th by ASKs, behind Argentina, India, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Norway, home of Norwegian, ranks just 47th out of the 100 country markets served non-stop from US airports this winter.