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Ryanair’s Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ryanair's Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ireland’s ultra low cost carrier Ryanair has converted its only B737-700 aircraft (registration EI-SEV) to a corporate jet with 60 seats in the cabin. The aircraft is now is a 2 x 2 configuration. The specifications are:

  • 60 passengers, all business class,
  • Seats: 2 x 2 seating with 48″ seat pitch, leather reclining seats
  • Crew: Ryanair’s pilot and cabin crew
  • Range: 3000 nm range, 6 hours at 500 mph cruise speed
  • Catering: available

Previously, this aircraft already in complete Ryanair livery, was used for training, and may have it has covered a couple of scheduled services. Perhaps the aircraft will be in demand when soccer teams have to play in far-flung eastern European destinations. Ryanair also aims it at sports teams, travel groups as well as business customers. Ryanair will price the services of this aircraft on a cost-per-hour basis, and depending on the departure and arrival airports, the rates could be the most competitive in Europe.

Ryanair’s corporate jet charter is akin to similar services offered by Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319.)

For the summer season, the Boeing 737 corporate jet will be used as a normal passenger aircraft with 149 seats for training and as a backup aircraft for routes between the UK and Ireland.

Ryanair exclusively flies Boeing 737-800 aircraft, of which 320 are in service and 153 in orders, as on 10-Mar-2016. Ryanair is also the launch for the 197-seater Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft with options for an additional 100 aircraft of this subtype—all to be delivered between 2019 and 2023. The MAX 200 aircrafts hold eight more passengers than the popular Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This subtype includes a mid-exit door to increase the exit limit. With eight additional seats than the standard 179-seater MAX 8, Boeing claims that the MAX 200 airplane offers 20% superior operating cost efficiency in comparison to the Ryanair’s staple, the 737-800. The front and rear galley spaces are removed and the lavatory space is repositioned to the rear of the aircraft. Surprisingly, Ryanair claims that the seat pitch will stretch to a tad over than 30 inches.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, had been pushing for a maximum-density 737-800 aircraft for ten years. Beyond 200 seats, Ryanair will need a fourth flight attendant on its aircraft. Although Boeing claims that 35% of the worldwide market demand for single-aisle aircraft will in due course lie with low cost carriers (LCCs,) for which the MAX 200 is intended, Ryanair is the sole customer thus far for the Boeing 737 MAX 200. News emerged in March 2015 that Boeing was presenting some airlines with concept of 737-8ERX, a longer-range version of the 737-8 MAX.

Ryanair owns three Learjet 45 aircrafts, which are based at its prominent bases in London Stansted (STN) Airport and Italy’s Bergamo Airport (BGY, 45 km northeast of Milan.) These aircrafts carry Isle of Man registrations M-ABEU, M-ABGV, and M-ABJA. They are primarily used to rapidly transport aircraft parts and maintenance personnel around Ryanair’s ever-expanding network. The number of aircrafts in order is testimony to the ambition of Ryanair to accelerate its traffic growth modestly. Ever since transforming in the LCC paradigm in the mid 1990s, Ryanair has mostly operated a single aircraft type, thereby providing economies of scale and flexibility in terms of aircraft deployment, maintenance, crew scheduling, and training.

Ryanair has unit costs that are lowest of any European airline and one of the lowest of any airline on the planet. Ryanair has a level of unit cost that is unlikely to be equaled by competitors in Europe and so other airlines are doubtful to be able to contend with it on price.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners

Delta Calls A Bubble in Wide-body Planes

Delta Calls A Bubble Wide-body Planes

Rumor has it that Delta has signed on to bring in eleven 777-200ERs, formerly operated by Singapore Airlines and its subsidiary Scoot. This would add to the 18 current 777-200ER/LRs in the Delta fleet. This is a significant fleet addition.

Interestingly, the ex-Scoot 777-200ERs are the ones that were previously abused on regional routes by SQ. They’re probably some of the highest cycle 777s in the world. Airfleets shows 10 Singapore Airlines and five Scoot Boeing 777-200ERs stored.

Delta 777-200LR Aircraft Given the expected growth in trans-Pacific traffic—particularly in China-US traffic—this seems like a solid strategy. Delta has expressed a strong interest in feeding China Eastern’s hub at Shanghai. There is no question that Delta is going to continue to double-down on Asian growth.

Delta’s fleet planning always bears watching. They have 12 remaining 747-400s and there’s a good chance that within the next 18 months, Delta will no longer fly any 747s in scheduled passenger fleets.

Interestingly enough, after Detla’s announcement of quarterly results on 14-Oct-2015, shares of Boeing tumbled 4% today thanks to comments from Delta management’s comments on supply-demand dynamics in the market for 777s. USA Today notes,

Delta Air Lines may be scooping up some used wide-body planes in the next few years, but CEO Richard Anderson says he’s waiting for prices to drop even more on the world market.

Anderson told reporters Wednesday on a call to discuss record third-quarter profits of $1.4 billion that low interest rates have created a bubble worldwide in wide-body planes. But there’s no deal yet…

“We do think that the aircraft market is going to be ripe for Delta over the course of the next 12 to 36 months,” Anderson said. “There will be some huge buying opportunities.”

There’s something self-serving about Delta’s comments about Boeing. Ken Herbert and Jonathan Morales of Canaccord Genuity (Canada’s largest independent investment dealer) noted,

It is true that the 777 market is softening, especially for the -200s. We hear that Kenya Airways is offering 4 on the market, Malaysian Airlines, which has 6, is putting them back with the lessor as it re-invents its fleet, and Singapore has the right to return 20 of its 777-200ERs, and in fact the first is back with Boeing. While Delta cited a $10M price, we are hearing prices in the ~$15M range, which would also entail a significant cabin reconfiguration expense, thus a total cost of $25M-$30M. The key we are watching is what Emirates will do with its 777-300ER extensions with GECAS, which we believe have been taken care of on at least 10 of its aircraft.

We believe Delta’s comments were also somewhat self-serving. We understand that Virgin Atlantic, a JV partner with Delta, is looking to acquire ~20 777s as part of its fleet re-equipage. Part of Virgin’s delay in announcing this order was the belief that 777 prices had further to fall. We believe Delta is looking to pay $6M/year to lease the aircraft, including the cabin reconfiguration, which the market is not yet offering. A330 lease rates are lower, and are complicated by the changing maintenance strategy at Rolls-Royce.

Could there be a possibility of some Airbus wide body deferrals? Remember that in November 2014, Delta ordered 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft and 25 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft to replace older generation Boeing 747 and 767 aircraft starting in 2017 and 2019. The long-range Airbus A350-900 were intended for long-range routes between the U.S. and Asia. The wide-body A330-900neo were to be added to Detla’s medium-haul trans-Atlantic markets as well as some routes between the U.S. West Coast and Asia. Cancelling the A350 order only makes sense to me if Delta suddenly finds their CAPEX is too high and need to reduce CAPEX given that these 777-200ERs are a fair bit cheaper per frame then an A350-900. Delta has stated during past earning calls that they plan to have the 747s retired by 2017.

This is another trademark move by Delta’s leadership. Delta has been buying useful assets at very attractive prices especially when others want to dispose of them. They did the same with the B767-300s bought from Gulf Air in the 1990s, then with the MD90s from China Eastern few years ago.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners

Lufthansa Airbus A380 Aircraft Fleet

Lufthansa Airbus A380 Aircraft Fleet

Lufthansa ordered net 14 Airbus A380 aircrafts. The A380 represented a trend for which Lufthansa were best prepared, both strategically and operationally. The success of the Airbus A380 for Lufthansa symbolises this trend like no other aircraft in its fleet. Around the world, the Lufthansa flagship aircraft connects destinations where the pulse of the global economy beats, and the list is getting longer all the time. Whether in New York, Singapore or Johannesburg, anyone travelling in the A380 experiences greatness. That is visible in all the service classes and culminates in the new First Class. The concept is extremely well received by passengers. Additionally, the high load factor represents a real efficiency gain for Lufthansa.

Lufthansa originally signed for 15 Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered A380s and agreed to add another pair in 2011. In 2013, however, the airline’s long-haul order for 25 Airbus A350-900s revealed that Lufthansa has reduced its A380 orders from 17 to 14. So far, all the 14 aircrafts are delivered.

Lufthansa’s A380 aircrafts are named for world cities:

  1. D-AIMA (MSN038) is named “Frankfurt Am Main” and was delivered on 19-May-2010
  2. D-AIMB (MSN041) is named “München” and was delivered on 21-Jul-2010
  3. D-AIMC (MSN044) is named “Peking” and was delivered on 25-Aug-2010
  4. D-AIMD (MSN048) is named “Tokio” and was delivered on 16-Nov-2010
  5. D-AIME (MSN061) is named “Johannesburg” and was delivered on 16-Mar-2011
  6. D-AIMF (MSN066) is named “Zürich” and was delivered on 4-Apr-2011
  7. D-AIMG (MSN069) is named “Wien” and was delivered on 7-May-2011
  8. D-AIMH (MSN070) is named “New York” and was delivered on 7-Jul-2011
  9. D-AIMI (MSN072) is named “Berlin” and was delivered on 16-May-2012
  10. D-AIMJ (MSN073) is named “Brüssel” and was delivered on 15-Jun-2012
  11. D-AIMK (MSN146) is named “Düsseldorf” and was delivered on 1-Apr-2014
  12. D-AIML (MSN149) is named “Hamburg” and was delivered on 7-May-2014
  13. D-AIMM (MSN175) is named “Delhi” and was delivered on 14-Mar-2015
  14. D-AIMN (MSN177) is named “San Francisco” and was delivered on 10-Apr-2015

Lufthansa is also the main customer for the passenger version of the Boeing 747-8, nicknamed the Intercontinental (747-8I,) with 19 of the type on order.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners

Thai Airways Gives out Rimowa Amenity Kits in its Royal First Class

Thai Airways gives out Rimowa Amenity Kits in its Royal First Class. Rimowa is a German manufacturer of aluminum as well as polycarbonate luggage. The dimensions of the plastic carry case are: 4″ x 7″ x 2.5″. The amenity kit consists of,

  • L’Occitane Cologne
  • L’Occitane Moisturiser
  • L’Occitane Lip Balm
  • Dental Kit with Fluocaril Toothpaste from Thailand
  • Mouthwash
  • Earplugs
  • Eyeshade
  • Comfort Socks
  • Comb & Brush

Thai Airways Rimowa Amenity Kits: Example Set 1

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Other airlines that seem to hand out Rimowa Amenity Kits in business and first classes include ANA, EVA, and Lufthansa—curiously all part of the STAR Alliance.

Thai Airways Rimowa Amenity Kits: Example Set 2

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners

Union Advertisement Slams Southwest Airlines and asks, “Has Southwest Lost its Way?”

On 25-Nov-2014, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) of America issued a half-page advertisement in USA Today bashing Southwest Airlines management about their baggage handling operations.

Southwest Loses More Bags Than Any Other Major U.S. Airline

Southwest Loses More Bags Than Any Other Major U.S. Airline.

Southwest Airlines, historically known for rarely losing luggage, now loses more bags than any other major American airline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report, released this month. What happened?

Quite simply, under the leadership of Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines places profit ahead of people and a quality product. The airline now flies larger planes packed with more bags than ever before but doesn’t hire additional baggage handlers and, in the last four years, hasn’t provided a raise to half of its ground workers. More suitcases, larger planes, tighter schedules and an overworked ground crew not only mean lost bags: it means delays for al Southwest customers—even those who don’t check luggage.

This year will be Southwest’s most profitable. During the second Quarter alone, the airline earned nearly a half-billion dollars in profits. Gas prices have fallen, more seats have been filled, revenues have been growing. Wouldn’t it make sense at this time to invest in ground workers and on-time performance?

Southwest’s stock ticker symbol is LUV. But is Southwest still the “luv” airline or is it just a heartless machine? Losing bags is bad—but eventually they find their way home. Losing a successful company culture can be forever.

The TWU posts advertisements which are intended to be perceived as harmful to the airline in order to attempt to extort a better package.

Although the “facts” being displayed in this union-paid ad are certainly up for debate, there’s no doubt that the workload of the rampers has increased because Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t charge checked baggage fees.

This is the latest manifestation of the dramatic evolution that has Southwest over the years, both from external and internal forces. In a nutshell, economic reality is now catching up with Southwest Airlines. The fuel hedges are spent, the network carriers have restructured and merged, and at the same time Southwest has gone from being pretty much the lowest-cost operator in the market to middle-of-the-pack and has high labor costs than ultra-low-cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines.

Southwest Airlines Free Checked Luggage Baggage Policy

Southwest has to control costs somewhere to remain competitive. They’ve probably tried, to at least some extent, to do it through productivity gains, by making rampers do more with less (same workload with fewer rampers, or increased workload with same number of rampers). But that, too, of course, has its repercussions, such as the one detailed in this TWU advertisement.

While paying employees well and treating them with respect will ensure better performance, Southwest Airlines is having to learn to cope in a more challenging economic environment, especially as to cost. Reduce cost, increase productivity – something has to give.

Southwest Airlines recognized this as union propaganda and integral part of contract-negotiation season. To the union bosses, nothing’s ever enough … their workers are always underpaid and under-appreciated. Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King responded,

Although it’s a common practice, informational picketing does not change the Company’s approach to negotiations. We continue to share the Union’s sense of urgency to secure a fair agreement. Reaching the right deal for both Employees and the Company remains a top priority; and it must be one that is fair to all Employees, enables the Company to grow, and protects our position as a low-cost leader in the industry.

We have a renewed focus and effort on improving baggage delivery and over the past few months, we’ve seen a steady decline in our mishandled baggage rate. In October, we proudly delivered approximately 99.5 percent of our bags correctly and we continue to see improvements.

Regarding the number of bag carried, the packing habits of Southwest passengers haven’t changed. Customers continue to pack the same number of bags since the “Bags Fly Free” campaign was initiated in 2008. What the campaign has done is attract more Customers to Southwest, improving the bottom line. At the same time, the number of bags carried on other airlines has decreased, which improves their overall DOT ranking.

As the number of Southwest Customers increase, we continue to hire in response to that growth. Over the last three years, the annual number of bags handled per Ramp Agent has steadily declined, not increased.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Management and Leadership

United Club Shower: Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) Terminal 1, Concourse C

United Club Chicago's O'Hare Airport (ORD) Terminal 1, Concourse C

Chicago is a very large metropolitan area that supports a lot of international and domestic visitors. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) is one of the few major airports in the world that is a primary hub for two carriers. The only other airport in the US where that is true is John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City.

Toiletries at United Club Shower

United Club Shower at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

United Club at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Both United Airlines and American Airlines battle for passengers at the airport—both have noteworthy O&D traffic as well as being a primary connecting point for passengers from other parts of their network.

United Club Shower Area at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

United Club Shower Area at Terminal 1, Concourse C

Bath Towels United Club Shower Area

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Travels and Journeys

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Boeing Renton Plant from Logan Avenue and Park Street

Boeing does not offer any tours of its Renton, Washington factory where, most prominently, Next-Generation Boeing 737 airliners are built today, and the Boeing 737-MAX will be built in the near future.

Boeing has had the following operations at the Renton plant, which is conveniently adjacent to the Renton Municipal Airport.

  • The Renton factory built B-29 Superfortress, a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber.
  • After the second world war Boeing closed the Renton plant. In 1948, Boeing re-opened the Renton facilities to build the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter for the United States Air Force.
  • Starting from the 1950s, the Boeing 367-80 and the Boeing 707 were built in Renton. The first production Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker first flew in August 1956 and the first production Boeing 707 rolled out of Renton in October 1957. Boeing produced 707s until April 1991.
  • Boeing also used the Boeing 707 final assembly building to manufacture the Boeing 727 three-engined aircraft between 1963 and 1982.
  • The Boeing 737 aircrafts built have their first flight out of the adjacent Renton Municipal Airport and then flown to Boeing Field for final preparation and delivery. Randy Tinseth, Vice President of Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes offers great photo gallery flashback to celebrate the 737’s past, present and future.
  • The Renton plant refurbished the first four 747s ever built.
  • The Renton plant built Boeing 757, the revered twin-engine short-to-medium-range airliner.

Glimpse of Boeing Renton Plant from Cedar River Path

Visiting the Boeing Renton Plant: Cedar River Path & Logan Avenue

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Cedar River

If you sincerely just want to glimpse at the plant itself, you can see it acceptably from Logan Avenue right outside of The Landing Mall. At the intersection of Logan Avenue and Park Street (map), if you cross the street there is a small grassy area right where Gate D-9 is.

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Logan Avenue

There’s also a jogging / walking path along the Cedar River near the Renton Stadium where you can get pretty close to some parked 737s in various stages of manufacturing. The GPS coordinates are 47.49029,-122.211635.

Visiting Other Boeing Facilities in and around Seattle

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Travels and Journeys

Nearest Alternates to Major Airports in the USA

Nearest Alternates to Major Airports in the USA

Airports in Alabama

Airports in Arizona

Airports in Arkansas

Airports in British Columbia

Airports in California

Airports in Colorado

Airports in Connecticut

Airports in Florida

Airports in Georgia

Airports in Idaho

Airports in Illinois

Airports in Indiana

Airports in Iowa

Airports in Kansas

Airports in Kentucky

Airports in Louisiana

Airports in Maine

Airports in Maryland

Airports in Massachusetts

Airports in Michigan

Airports in Missouri

Airports in Nebraska

Airports in Nevada

Airports in New Jersey

Airports in New York

Airports in North Carolina

Airports in Ohio

Airports in Oklahoma

Airports in Ontario

Airports in Oregon

Airports in Pennsylvania

Airports in Quebec

Airports in Rhode Island

Airports in South Carolina

Airports in Tennessee

Airports in Tex

Airports in Texas

Airports in Utah

Airports in Vermont

Airports in Virgina

Airports in Washington

Airports in Washington, D.C.

Airports in Wisconsin

Airports in Wyoming

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Travels and Journeys

Warren Buffett on Investing in the Airline Industry

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates : NetJets Advertisement

More than half a century ago, Ben Graham was critical of investing in airline stocks. His pupil Warren Buffett has said the same thing.

In a speech to students at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the lpehwxv University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995, Warren stated:

The fella that runs USAir is a wonderful guy, but he just happens to be in an extraordinarily tough business. And the interesting thing is that I had written something for {Benjamin} Graham’s book in the early 70’s about how the airline business was about the toughest business there was.

And the interesting thing is, of course, is that if you go back to the time of Kitty Hawk, net, the airline transport business in the United States has made no money. I mean, just think if you had been down there at Kitty Hawk, and you had saw this guy {Wilbur Wright} go up {in the air}, and all of a sudden this vision hit you that tens of millions of people would be doing this all over the world some day and that it would bring us all closer together and everything, and think my God this is something to be in on.

And despite putting in billions and billions and billions of dollars, the net return to owners from being in the entire airline industry, if you owned it all, and if you put up all this money, is less than zero.

If there had been a capitalist down there {at Kitty Hawk the day the Wright brothers made their first flight} the guy should have shot down Wilbur! I mean … {audience laughter}. You know… one small step for mankind, and one huge step backwards for capitalism!

But anyway…. So along comes 1989 and I’ve got a lot of cash. And no one misled me in any way shape or form. And I mean this was 100% my decision {to invest in USAir}. And I put money in it. Seth Scofield, you can’t find a better human being or manager than Seth Scofield, but he is operating with revenues based on market factors and cost that are not based market factors, and that’s a recipe for a lot of trouble.

So I now have this 800 {telephone} number, and if I ever get the urge to buy an airline stock I dial this number. And I say my name is Warren, and I’m an “air-o-holic,” and then this guy talks me down on the other end {of the line}….

High fuel costs have turned the airline industry into a good investment

Paradoxically, high fuel costs have turned the airline industry into a good investment. When oil prices skyrocketed in 2008 to $147 a barrel, the airlines cut capacity, ground flights, develop more-efficient scheduling, and take other steps to offset higher fuel costs. High fuel costs also curtailed the start-up or accelerated the demise of many airlines. Barriers to competition rose. In the past few years, the industry has consolidated and oil prices are lower. Airlines are running their businesses for profitability and not for market share. Airlines have raised fares, unbundled their offerings by charging for bags, extra legroom, and food, while maintaining low capacity growth.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Investing and Finance

Profitability of Airlines: Cheaper Oil, Long Term Strategy, and Capacity

Profitability of Airlines: Cheaper Oil, Long Term Strategy, and Capacity

High oil prices force airlines to make hard choices that are usually good for the long-term investability in the airline sector, mostly regarding capacity decisions and passenger fees.

Benefits from lower fuel prices pivot on what is called “revenue offset.” From 1995 through 2008 airlines traded at a -0.64 inverse correlation with oil prices. Since then airlines have traded at a +0.63 positive correlation with oil prices. That relationship flipped because investors now believe airlines, like other transports, can pass through fuel prices.

American Airlines has recently reduced its domestic capacity for January 2015 and February 2015 by roughly 4.0%. With the recent decrease in fuel prices, the analysts and the financial media were forecasting that the airlines might lower fares passing on to consumers some savings from the fuel.

While this may have been the case in past boom-and-bust cycles, American Airline’s management appears dedicated to sustaining capacity discipline and further improving profitability of its airline. United, Delta, American, and Southwest are likely to generally follow this inclination and maintain—or even decrease—capacity notwithstanding more favorable fuel prices.

2015 is likely to be the first year since 2007 where domestic capacity will outgrow real GDP. Should the US economy maintain slow growth amid low oil prices, we would not be surprised to see a minor capacity uptick in domestic. Airlines will say this is acceptable because it is from gauge and stage length, but they both still count.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Investing and Finance