10 airline industry developments to watch out in 2019!

2018 is almost history and new year is around the corner. This year hasn't been very great for Airline industry- multiple airlines are struggling to survive while few gone bankrupt, a few crashes and high fuel prices have kept the spirits low. Will 2019 be any better? Below are a set of 10 things I am looking forward to in 2019, mostly from Indian perspective. Give it a read and share your thoughts.

1. Hundred years of KLM Royal Dutch
KLM Royal Dutch, based in Netherlands and now part of Air France KLM Skyteam, is world’s oldest operational commercial airlines. KLM began operation in 1919, which means in 2019 they are completing 100 years of operation- world’s only airline to achieve this milestone.  That is a great news to celebrate. We hope to see some great discounts and offers to flyers during the celebration time. Read more KLM posts here
2. What will happen to Jet Airways?
Particularly Indian travelers will be keen to know what happens to Jet Airways. Will they manage to turn around and keep running, will they get investor, or will they go south cancelling more flights and go Kingfisher way. If they can’t contain their woes and continue to cancel flights, it will be more risky to book on Jet Airways as there won’t be reasonable assurance that they will fly as per plan. We can only hope for good.

Read my other Jet Airways posts here

3. Indonesia Lion Air Crash Investigation
Lion Air flight 610 B737 Max crash off Jakartha is undoubtedly most concerning aviation accident in 2018. World would wait for final report that would put definitive conclusions on the cause of accident- is it B737’s faulty design and poor manual/training, is it Lion Air’s poor maintenance. This revelation and corrective action will be crucial to prevent such incidents in future, given that B737 Max is used by 100s of airlines around the world.

4. Will Star Air take off?
Kolhapur based Sanjay Ghodawat Group’s Star Air was supposed to commence operations in 2018- they were running ads in airports, had launched an almost ready website n social media accounts, all beaming about the soon to launch new airline. But all of 2018 there’s been no signs of the airline taking off. Hopefully sometime in 2019 Star Air will take to skies, connecting Hubli, Bengaluru, Tirupati, Pune, New Delhi etc.

5. More direct flights between US and India
As of now, only Air India flies non-stop between US and India. However there’re news of Delta and United planning non-stop flights to India. I am curious to see if this brings down average cost of flying between US and India (right now one needs to spend around 60k INR at the minimum for a round trip ticket)

6. What happens to WOW Air!
WOW Air is an Iceland based budget airline, but now reportedly in deep financial trouble. They are cutting several routes, including flights to Delhi, Los Angeles etc, returning aircrafts and firing staff to stay afloat. Would that be enough? Will the survive through 2019? Will they re-introduce India routes? I will be curious to keep an eye.
7. ATF Prices
Throughout most of 2018 fuel prices were on the higher side. Only towards the end it has begun to get a bit cheaper. Because of higher fuel cost, most airlines were unable to profit this year and subsequently, they couldn’t offer ultra-low fares during sales n promotions as they used to do earlier. If ATF price can remain low and stable for most of 2019, this could mean lower ticket prices for passengers in 2019. Let us see what 2019 brings to us.

8. Will Chinese airlines expand their footprint in India?
At present, if you’re flying out of Delhi or Mumbai to international destinations, there’s very high chance that you’ll find Chinese airlines like Air China or China Eastern offering the lowest price via their hubs in China. Reportedly Chinese govt is subsidizing their airlines to win more business in Asia. This is worrisome to Middle East and Europe based airlines, but as of now impact is limited because Chinese airlines are largely limited to Delhi n Mumbai while Emirates, Etihad, Qatar etc fly to 10-20 cities in India. I will be curious to see if Chinese airlines extend their tentacles to other Indian cities in 2019

9. Where else I can fly with Air Asia?
Air Asia has cut lots of destinations this year- flights to Auckland are being discontinued from Feb 2019, Air Asia X Indonesia is being closed, Chiang Mai-Yangon, Chennai-BBI and many such routes are being discontinued. With lots of planes now free n more aircrafts expected in 2019, I am curious to see which new destinations AirAsia will introduce in 2019. If the destination excites me and if I can get super cheap fares, will be the first to book.

10. Will Air India be sold in 2019?
With Jet Airways cutting its network and facing huge uncertainty, it is a golden opportunity to rival Air India to step up its game and gain more market share and passenger trust- only if it has any intention of doing it.  Air India sale was attempted couple of times in 2018 but nothing materialized. From what I have seen, Air India is overstaffed and many have become lethargic, developing a sense of I don’t care attitude. Would the government continue to pour tax payer money to keep Air India afloat? Will some sale materialize in 2019? Will Air India be able to cut its losses? Will the pride of Maharaja be sustained or it will get worse? Only time will tell

These are 10 things I am eagerly looking forward to see/know in 2019. What are yours? Are there any particular development you’re looking forward to w.r.t aviation industry in 2019?

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