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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finally a ray of hope for Virgin Blue

It appears there is finally a ray of hope for the Virgin Blue group with the ACCC giving interim approval to their alliance with Etihad.

THE ACCC has granted interim approval to Virgin Blue's proposed alliance with Etihad Airways while it considers whether to approve the deal. 
 
The decision comes despite the objections of Qantas, which had requested that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission knock back Virgin and Etihad's request for fast approval.
Read the full story by Ross Kelly of Dow Jones Newswires published by The Australian HERE

Further articles on Rob Fyfe's speech

Further articles are now appearing covering NZ's CEO Rob Fyfe's lunchtime speech to the National Aviation Press Club in Sydney yesterday.

Steve Creedy of The Australian has written an in depth article covering the speech and its impact on NZ and the tasman.
"We believe the body charged with promoting competition is at serious risk of killing it off," Mr Fyfe told a National Aviation Press Club lunch in Sydney yesterday.
Read his full article HERE

An article by Daily Telegraph reporter Jenny Dillon covered by Adelaidenow also delves a bit deeper into the speech.
He said there was a strong "risk of killing off the airline" which would leave trans-Tasman passengers at the monopoly mercy of Qantas.
 Read her full article HERE

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Air New Zealand's future threatened?

Air New Zealand's CEO Rob Fyfe has told the National Aviation Press Club in Sydney that the draft determination by the ACCC to block the NZ/DJ alliance may threaten the future of Air New Zealand.

"If we are to earn the right to continue to fly and grow, then the deal with Virgin Blue is a central plank of that strategy," Mr Fyfe said at a National Aviation Press Club lunch in Sydney on Wednesday.

"Obviously the ACCC's (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) preliminary finding represents a threat to this strategy, in effect, a threat to our future."
The full article from the AAP can be found on stuff.co.nz HERE or the couriermail HERE

Air New Zealands new All Black livery

I had been forewarned to expect something different for the first domestic A320 to be delivered into the Air New Zealand fleet in 2011.


And today Air New Zealand have announced the new special livery for that aircraft - an 'All Black' Livery to celebrate their 17yr association with NZ rugby.

The livery is uniquely kiwi and uniquely rugby, and will serve NZ well during the world cup next year.  Its just a pity this will be a domestic only livery as I would have loved to have seen it pop up in countries around the world.

See a video of the new livery on an A320 in Flight Simulator below. Or read the stuff.co.nz article HERE

Monday, September 20, 2010

Virgin & Etihad submission

In the continuation of my focus on the proposed Virgin Blue group alliances, the following article focuses on the Virgin and Etihad submission to the ACCC in response to Qantas's opposition to their alliance.
VIRGIN Blue and Etihad have hit back at a Qantas attempt to torpedo interim approval of their alliance.

They argue that bowing to the flying kangaroo's request would be to the detriment of passengers.

A four-page submission lodged with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission on Friday dismissed as "self-serving" Qantas concerns about changing market dynamics, said criticisms the airlines' submissions lacked detail were incorrect and argued that V Australia would suffer if interim authorisation was denied.
Read the full story by Steve Creedy from The Australian HERE

Friday, September 17, 2010

More fleet news from Qantas-Jetconnect .. updated

A press release from Wellington International airport HERE provides us with more information on the fleet upgrade and replacement process of Jetconnect.
In another announcement Qantas has confirmed it will be introducing three brand new B737-800s from February 2011. Two of these aircraft will be based in Wellington, flying on the Sydney and Melbourne routes.
Some further information posted on the Internet and also gleaned from timetables suggests the Jetconnect fleet will grow in size with the new look fleet standing at 6x 737-800s with 3x 737-400s remaining, mainly operating on the AKL-BNE route, although the 734 still appears on routes from MEL/SYD to WLG well into the new year. 

Jetconnect will also take over the operation of the QF45/46 SYD-CHC-SYD route from QF mainline, leaving QF114/141 operated with the A333 as the only trans-tasman route still operated by QF mainline metal

*** Additional infomation shows ZK-JTS will return to QF mainline in March 2011 with the remaining 3 B734s to be phased out and sent to the desert by September (Subject to change) ***

Future domestic destinations for JQ

Jetstar are looking at a number of destinations in New Zealand for expansion of their domestic network.  Some of these destinations add credence to the rumour currently circulating that suggests JQ will obtain some QF(QantasLink) Dash 8s to operate to some of the larger provincial centre in NZ.

Southern cities Dunedin and Invercargill are firmly on Jetstar's radar, as the budget airline launches an aggressive expansion phase in New Zealand following the departure of Pacific Blue.

Jetstar group chief executive Bruce Buchanan told the Otago Daily Times yesterday Dunedin, Invercargill, Hamilton, Rotorua, and Nelson were all domestic destinations "on our list"
The full article by Hamish McNeilly from the Otago Daily Times can be found HERE

I am interested to hear from any readers of this blog as to your views on the possible JQ expansion and the rumours circulating about the wet leased Dash 8s, especially after the announcement that Nelson is on JQs radar, considering runway 02/20 at NZNS is not A320 compliant.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More news on the Jetstar NZ Domestic increase

Stuff.co.nz have published another article today in their business day section on the ramp up of NZ domestic services by Jetstar in the wake of the Pacific Blue departure.

Two more A320s will join the NZ domestic fleet which will enable Jetstar to provide the following frequency upgrades
Qantas-owned Jetstar will increase weekly return flights between Auckland and Christchurch from 35 to 49 and between Auckland and Wellington from 21 a week to 35 a week.
There will also be additional frequencies between Auckland and Queenstown and Wellington and Christchurch.
Read the full stuff.co.nz article by Roland Van Den Bergh HERE

And for those pedantic like myself you will notice stuff have just used stock photos for this article with the one on the main business page being of a JQ A330 and the one in the article itself being a JQ B717.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More news articles on DJ

I will continue to follow the fortunes of the DJ (Virgin Blue) group here on this blog, so expect to see more posts in the coming days/weeks as things continue to unfold.

The two articles in this mornings papers focus heavily on Virgin Group CEO John Borghetti's comments to the Financial Services Council lunch in Sydney yesterday.

There's life in alliance push yet: Borghetti  - Steve Creedy, The Australian

Virgin Blue fights for alliance - Owen Hembry, NZ Herald

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More DJ woes? (warning opinionated)

Are there more woes in store for the Virgin Blue group after the recent announcement of the departure from NZ domestic flights and the knock backs from competition watch dogs for the proposed tie ups with Delta Airlines and Air New Zealand?

Two new articles published in the media suggest that there may be.

The first published by TVNZ HERE covers an interview with Sir Richard Branson by ABC where he mentions Pacific Blue may pull out from trans tasman routes as well.
Virgin Blue may abandon trans-Tasman routes after its alliance plans with Air New Zealand were dealt a blow by Australia's competition regulator, which issued a draft decision denying them permission to merge.
The second from The Australian HERE reports on a submission lodged with the ACCC by Qantas in opposition to the proposed alliance between DJ and Etihad (EY)
Qantas has lodged a submission with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission expressing concern about Virgin Blue's alliance with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and calling on the regulator to ignore calls by the airline to fast-track the process.
I believe that the first article is posturing from Sir Richard in an attempt to convince the regulator that they have made the wrong decision, although I do believe Pacific Blue are suffering financial strain on the tasman, and believe that there is a strong possibility in a year or so that if things have not improved then yes indeed you will see Pacific Blue drop routes across the tasman.

The second article I believe is Qantas once again playing the bully boy stand over tactics role, that they have become famous for.  Qantas are annoyed that Etihad has decided to join DJ in an agreement that has far outweighed their previous code-share agreement with QF, an agreement QF promptly dropped when EY announced they were going to work with DJ.  QF are also worried that their anti-competitive deal with BA on Australia-Europe routes will be jeopardised and offer travellers different cheaper options for travel between the two regions.  This is complete and utter rubbish as it makes things better for the public not worse as QF state in their submission.

Unfortunately for DJ I believe QF have the ACCC as their own personal lap dog as witnessed by the ACCCs keenness to extend the monopolistic code-share agreement between QF and SA on the South African routes and also their willingness to ok the anti competitive BA/QF deal for European routes, and their instant dismissal of the proposals between DJ and DL/NZ

There is no way a second airline can flourish in this state when the competition regulator - set up supposedly with the best interests of the travelling public in mind, is in fact so strongly biased to the incumbent national airline.  The same problem raises its ugly head at home in New Zealand where NZ garners more support from regulators than the other airlines trying to make a living against their domestic monopoly, they too follow in the QF footsteps in their preditory tactics especially on regional routes.

I want to see DJ succeed and make an impact in the markets on both sides of the tasman, but I don't believe that is possible when the competition regulators on both sides of the tasman are so narrow minded and firmly embedded in the pockets of QF and to a lesser extent NZ.

The sooner the ACCC wake up and grow a pair, and actually stand up to QF, and give DJ and other smaller Australian airlines a fair go, the sooner the aviation market here and the trans tasman aviation market will be able to grow, and the sooner the travelling public will be able to reap the rewards of two or more competitive airlines, who don't all of a sudden drop routes, or fail completely, because they have been forced out of the market by bad decisions, which have caused them to become unprofitable, and therefore unable to fly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Changes to the DJ brands

As has been widely mentioned in the media, but not yet covered here on NZ Aviation Notes the DJ/VA group are looking at consolidating their branding, from the current four brands (Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue and V Australia) down to a single new brand.

The back story can be found at Australian Aviation HERE

At the weekend Sir Richard Branson, speaking at the Virgin Blue 10th anniversary celebrations, was adamant the Virgin name would not disappear from Australian skies
"The Virgin name will stay forever," he said. "I think Pacific Blue and the other (airlines) they will be rebranded. There's a whole rebranding exercise which is going to be unveiled, maybe even in a month or so, which looks great. I've seen it and I think it's very, very powerful."
He also warned that Australian traveller should expect higher fares after the "illogical" decisions to reject DJs proposed tie ups with Delta Airlines and Air New Zealand.

Sir Richards comments lead me to agree with  other statements out there that the 3 brands (Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue/Polynesian Blue) will be unified either under the Virgin Blue brand or a new Virgin Australia/Australasia brand, while V Australia will remain unchanged for now, due to the restrictions imposed by Singapore Airlines as 49% owner of Virgin Atlantic.

Read the full article from The Australian HERE

Friday, September 10, 2010

ACCC oppose DJ/NZ tieup

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has rejected the proposed trans tasman alliance between Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand stating the proposal was
"likely to reduce competition in the market for trans-Tasman air passenger services".

The knockback comes the day after US regulators rejected Virgin Blue's proposed partnership with Delta Air Lines on flights between the US and Australia in a preliminary ruling.

Read the full news.com.au story HERE

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