Your Airline Industry Predictions for 2016

Happy New Year, everybody2016 Airline Predictions. Hopefully you’ve had a good holiday season so far, and now you’re ready for some football. (I’ll be at the Rose Bowl today. Go Card!)

Let’s start 2016 off with some predictions for how the next 364 days will go. If you’d like some inspiration, here’s the review of 2015’s picks. Remember, you’re limited to 3 predictions here, so get your best together, and we’ll talk about them at the end of the year.

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65 Comments on "Your Airline Industry Predictions for 2016"

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Guest

There will be a collision between a plane and a drone, there have been a number of close calls and it seems inevitable at some point.

Jonathan
Guest

– Baltia goes under and its 747 heads to the scrapyard.

– A ME3 carrier takes a small equity interest in one of the following US-based airlines: Alaska, Jetblue, or Virgin America.

– Airbus announces the A380neo.

kozmaterry
Member

United will make imense progress to be the 1# airline in the US

Tara
Guest
OK crystal ball dusted off and here goes! 1. There will be no major changes to any of the 3 big airlines’ award charts redemption levels (AA, DL, UA) as they let the dust settle from the previous devaluations and wait for the numbers to be crunched. Instead, they will mess with availability especially in business & first class trying to find the sweet spot that saves them money yet doesn’t alienate customers and banks who buy their miles. It may be too late as customers fed up with lack of availability flock to Southwest, JetBlue and Norwegian. 2. At… Read more »
Tara
Guest
OK crystal ball dusted off and here goes! 1. There will be no major changes to any of the 3 big airlines’ award charts redemption levels (AA, DL, UA) as they let the dust settle from the previous devaluations and wait for the numbers to be crunched. Instead, they will mess with availability especially in business & first class trying to find the sweet spot that saves them money yet doesn’t alienate customers and banks who buy their miles. It may be too late as customers fed up with lack of availability flock to Southwest, JetBlue and Norwegian. 2. At… Read more »
Len
Guest

Barring a crash or terrorism, I expect 2016 to be a relatively quiet year for the industry.
1) Delta will continue to confound and perform. I’ve had no luck predicting what these guys will do, so all I’ll say is that they continue to be unpredictable. Something has to happen in Seattle, though. Right?
2) United will find stability in the C-suite, although that won’t translate immediately to improved operating performance.
3) Southwest across the Atlantic or some other LCC with ambitions taking on “the pond.”

Courtney.Miller
Member

1. Up to two large regional airline bankruptcies. Regional pilot shortage continues.

2. ?Tough year for ULCCs. Frontier and Spirit feel continued RASM pressure and look to return aircraft to accommodate for the too-large orders placed in the previous years. Allegiant’s used aircraft philosophy protects them, but operational challenges continue.

3. ?Oscar returns at United and positive changes continue. By December, United widely considered having the best US legacy leadership.

Nick
Guest

1. Delta and Alaska will finally separate and begin divorce proceedings
2. JetBlue and Alaska will begin a codeshare that leads to a merger, but Delta wants them so bad that they take everyone to court over it.
3. Southwest still won’t have a labor deals that get approved and still make incredible profits.

TrippleF
Member

1. Malaysian airlines files for bankruptcy; Allitalia and Aer Lingus go through restructuring, possibly through new shareholders or alliance agreements 2. Russian airspace becomes restricted: Russian commercial air traffic continues but international commercial flights are no longer allowed to cross or enter Russian airspace; non-commercial air traffic continues but requires extra authorization 3. Liquid restrictions at airport security are lifted (more wishful thinking than belief)

Ed
Guest

Aer Lingus already got bought by IAG

Donald
Guest

“Russian airspace becomes restricted”
Won’t happen, all those transit fees are paid in US dollars or Euros.
Vlad will swallow his pride. US aircraft have been flying through Cuban
airspace during the embargo.

JB
Member

Boeing will finally announce the 757NG program.

jeff2
Member

I have no idea why boeing spent so much on 737 and so little of 757. 757 is a much better plane and prefered by airlines and crew. Although both planes are too narrow for 3 x 3 seating for long flights. Seat are around 17.2 inches wide versus 18.5 on 767, 777. Seats are 18″ on MD88 and MD90. Being a bit wider myself, that 1 inch makes a difference!

Lauri
Guest

The 757 production line and supply chain are gone. Reviving those would cost the same as building a new airplane, so a 757NG does not make any financial sense.

Jason H
Guest

The 757 has higher costs, both to buy as well as operate. Other than a few niche markets (shorter transatlantic flights with lower passenger numbers, possibly improved high-altitude performance) the largest 737s or 767/787 can replace it. It wouldn’t be worth making a 757NG just for those markets.

Richard
Member

1. AS will end relationship with DL and find a merger partner with HA or B6.
2. WN will charge for 2nd checked bag and start assigning seats when they start a true business cabin.
3. Regional pilot shortage will cause more mainline flights between smaller airports and hubs, upgauge in capacity with less frequency in hub to hub flying and several regional airlines will fail. Congressional action to reduce 1500 hour rule will happen, but it’s too late.

pf
Guest

1. United’s service and product continue to improve, as the executive office door keep revolving.
2. United reduces ps frequency from EWR to the West Coast.
3. Spirit and Frontier get hitched; the honeymoon is rocky.
4. Judge rules against DL at DAL.
5. DL and AA’s Basic economy product fizzles out.
6. DL keeps trying, but isn’t gaining major market share against AS in SEA on competing nonstop routes.
7. AA introduces a complimentary snack in economy similar to DL and UA.
8. Loyalty programs loose customer loyalty.
9. SWA will drop at least one former AirTran city.
10. SWA will not fly to Hawaii or Alaska.
11. Fuel prices go up, airline stock prices drop slightly.

TrippleF
Member

@pf – what do you mean by #8

Dale
Member
1. SWA will finally get Union unity with several contracts agreed upon, as well as announce assigned seating and some type of upgraded seating option with actual different seats; the Max 8 seat will trickle down slowly to the entire fleet. 2. United will continue to do better operationally and the CEO, (Oscar) will become much hated by Wall Street, and much loved by the employees, ultimately to his demise. 3. Delta’s operational excellence will fall, and Wall Street will notice and begin to ask questions that relate to costs, primarily, why so many different fleet types, leading to a… Read more »
gbarrett
Member

1. Frequent flyer programs will be further dismantled. Delta has started by eliminating upgrades to first class for elites, United is holding more R class seats until the last few days before the flights.
2. Credit card companies will find cash back more attractive to new customers than frequent flyer miles which will be largely useless to most customers.
3. United will stop blindly following Delta and will improve its customer experience and, baring labor disputes, will win over Delta frequent flyers.

B.launders
Member

My 2016 airline predictions:

1. Hawaiian will find a new 100 seater that can equal the 717’s performance on Inter-Island flights.
2. One of the US3 will get split up due to an antitrust complaint by the LCC’s & ULCC’s.
3. Allegiant gets grounded by the FAA.
4. United orders the CSeries.
5. 747 production ends (It’s only a matter of time…).
6. Bulk of US regional flying goes to mainline.

Chicago Chris
Member

1) United’s customer service scores will improve with new leadership, but employee relations will continue to suffer through 2017.

2) Rumors will swirl about Alaska and JetBlue flirting, but it goes nowhere.

3) Southwest announces it’s acquiring Sun Country.

billyshearer
Member

More consolidation in Europe. Some of these are deliberately OTT, because fun.

WizzAir will be bought by easyJet as Ryanair start competing more directly with easyJet.

IAG will add rescue Cityjet creating Fortress London City.

LH and AF will start merger talks.

jeff2
Member
Three predictions for 2016. Here it goes – 1. Due to horrible performance and zero customer service, more and more airports opt out of TSA. Anyone that has flown out of ROC, SFO or MCI notices a difference. 2. There is an incident at the backdoor of an airport with a food delivery, parts delivery, fuel delivery etc. These folks do not go through passenger security and it is a weak spot of airport security. 3. There will be an incident where communities and airports intersect. I am not sure what it will be – but something where a plane… Read more »
Eric C
Guest
1. An airline trade group or at least one individual airline will push Congress for relief from the 1500 hour ATP rule, possibly by arguing that training performed by the airline itself in an airline environment is superior to conventional training, and thus something MPL-like is brought to the US. A catalyst for change will be an incident where a pilot is found to have pencil-whipped considerable flight time. 2. Believing that Delta’s EMB-190s are destined for the west coast, and having already serviced every city a 737 can reasonably service from SEA, Alaska orders a 100-seat class aircraft. Alaska… Read more »
noahkimmel
Member

1. Delta expands basic economy to all routes, frustrating corporate travellers who are forced to take the lowest fare, but still fly Delta.

2. Delta’s pilots strike when they dont get insane raises

3. AA creates an operations guarantee like DL and UA, but none of them pay out anything significant due to technicalities.

Luke
Guest

#1 is already happening to me…

Andy
Member

Your company doesn’t allow you to pay the difference for a higher fare?

Doug Swalen
Guest

1. Delta finally gives up on Love Field…takes it out on Alaska by breaking up with them.

2. AIRBUS says no new A380. Tim Clark starts talking to Redmond…

3. Republic files for bankruptcy. Congress is unmoved and fails to loosen things up regarding the 1500 hour rule.

Scott
Member
West Coast predictions: AS and DL formalize their divorce; AS adds real F to a subset of their Q400s for 1-2hr routes like PDX-OAK; crippling DL’s ability to complete on those routes WS joins OneWorld; is forced to add 3 rows of real F and starts code-sharing with AS (as AS’ defence against DL). More and more people abandon AC Rouge; and AC is forced to return mainline to a number of [non-holiday] routes (already happening) Allegiant will stumble in a big big way when the price of oil goes back up. After a bad start the C-Series turns out… Read more »
SDFDuck
Guest

1 (and I hope this doesn’t happen): DL formally de-hubs CVG. Heck, it’s done pretty much everything short of making a formal announcement and updating the route maps so that CVG is just another dot. Maybe it retains unofficial “focus city” status but I think 2016 is the year DL finally ends the charade.

2: AA grows PHX and CLT

3: United makes yet another change at CEO.

MeanMeosh
Guest

Geez, I was what, 0-24 last year? Hey, these are still fun to put together…

1) The federal judge rules in favor of DL in the DAL gate sharing dispute. WN starts making noise about either lifting the 20-gate cap at Love Field, or beginning a small secondary operation at DFW.
2) Southwest still shuns bag and change fees, but announces the introduction of an extra legroom section available for an additional fee.
3) DL finally experiences a spate of operational issues. To their credit, they quickly apologize and offer compensation to their customers, minimizing pushback.

Kilroy
Guest
1) A new all biz class or E+ transatlantic airline will launch (or be announced) with an idiotic business plan. Like all others before it, it will falter and eventually fail, though it may not fail before the end of 2016. 2) A drone and a commercial plane collide. No fatalities save for the loss of civil liberties and the expansion of another bureaucracy at the FAA. 3) The TSA will continue to fail to spot 70-95% of all weapons. Speeches are made, talking heads fret, but a few days later the only people who remember it are politicians bankrolled… Read more »
Ed
Guest

A view from down under

1) Delta will start flying LAX-MEL or SEA-SYD. United get IAH-AKL going.

2) Completely agree that a drone and plane will collide. I’d add to that that there will be a lithium battery fire on an aeroplane this year.

3) Many more flights from second (and third) tier Chinese cities to the US west coast and Australia

Scott
Member

>3…

More likely between third-tier Chinese cities and YVR.

Yo
Guest
Avatar airlines starts flying A380’s from Fresno to Reno. American continues to print money, adds more Asia routes, pisses off the naysayers by keeping PHX and CLT as hubs, finally adds a nonstop to Europe from PHX, and inner China flights from LAX. More 787 problems with batteries and systems. Cuba is open, American gets most slots, including MIA, DFW, LAX and JFK, DL gets slots from ATL, JFK. UA gets slots from IAH, EWR. Eastern Airlines goes bankrupt, but keeps flying, but not for long. Long lines at LAX Many near misses and near catastrophes at Allegiant, causing more… Read more »
Bernhard
Member

Air Berlin will die.

Lauri
Guest

I reiterate my prediction from last year.

IAG will buy Finnair.

This year Finnair is turning a profit but they need a stronger European operation to support their expanding Asian operation. The Finnish government is willing to divest their 56% share and this would give a great boost to IAG’s Asian operation.

Ted
Guest

1. Delta establishes a new focus city in SJC and initiates intra-Cal flying causing WN to face new competition in monopoly markets.

2. There will be a US merger outside of the big 4 (WN, AA, DL, UA) as the smaller players try to gain scale.

3. The judge finally rules in the Love Field case and DL gains the right to continue to operate.

Jason
Guest
1. Unfortunately there will be a collision between a drone and an aircraft with people on board. 2. United sees modest gains in operational performance but still has plenty of work to do. 3. At least one regional folds. Bonus predictions – WN will continue not flying to Hawaii – MH370 still not found but a couple small pieces of debris washes ashore – If #1 hasn’t happened (and I hope it doesn’t), California will have an incident of a drone grounding firefighting aircraft during a wildfire. This has happened before, but unlike in the past, this grounding will cause… Read more »
Ben in DC
Guest
1. Settlement in Dallas Love Field fight adds 2 more gates to the airport for DL. After work is complete, Virgin America realizes it’s never going to make money at Love and drops service, allowing WN to grab those gates 2. AS continues its solid performance, despite DL’s best efforts to win SEA. DL shareholders begin to show frustration with management for growing losses at SEA, the first time they’ve been vocal about Richard Anderson’s strategy. QX adds a regional jet to its fleet after contentious negotiations with its unions, allowing AS to add more intermediate cities. 3. Both Boeing… Read more »
IO
Member

3 predictions. what, r u getting ideas from the legacies….limit carry-on bags….next you’ll charge us for the predictions.

Ryan
Member
Top 10 Predictions: 1) The new government of Portugal trys to buy back TAP Portugal, but because of the European Union and the austerity measures they don’t succeed. 2) American Airlines futher expands in asia from LAX as they look to solidify their “hub” there. 3) British Airways partners with China Eastern angering Air France-KLM and putting pressure on China Eastern and its relationship with Skyteam. 4) Aer Lingus rejoins OneWorld and adds more transatlantic routes. 5) Delta finalizes buying 49% of AeroMexico and essentialy takes it over as it did Virgin Atlantic. 6) Latam reveals its new livery in… Read more »
Iowa Brian
Guest

Emirates splits an order between Airbus and Boeing

Delta announces service to New Zealand

The Hawkeyes win, err, get crushed at the Rose Bowl

BJ
Guest

1. American and Emirates agree to ‘closer ties’.
2. Virgin America is aquired by Delta.
3. People with an interest in aviation learn to count to 3.

grinerc
Member

1 – Alaska will announce plans to add 787’s. I am probably dreaming but wish they would up the seats on the busier cross country routes! Too bad the 757’s are not really an option any longer … I don’t see them going with A350’s due to Seattle ties.
2 – Malaysia 370 will be located.
3 – DL – AS divorce is final.

apanelli
Member

1. another commercial flight will be shot or blown out of the sky by a terrorist (I hate writing this one, but I believe it to be true)
2. American will significantly marginalize one of its newly acquired USAir hubs. My guess is CLT, but there are reasons to do PHX also
3. Southwest’s thusfar successful entry into international flying (via its acquisition) will spur it to greatly increase flying throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and beyond.

DavidC
Guest
1) United will order 100 seat aircraft 2) Labor relations at United will improve with flight attendant contract ratified; other groups ratified. 3) Delta will put in a true premium economy international product 4) Hints of airfare wars from the past will surface in various markets spurred on by AA. 5) United will introduce new BusinessFirst seat on A350 but will not be all aisle access design. 6) United’s domesticated 777 fleet will draw attention to some flyers as being a little “retro” feeling of the good old days. Most travelers will still struggle to know that they are even… Read more »
Joey Jaidee
Guest

NO CHANCE of number 2!!! I will even predict that the flight attendants will not even have something to VOTE on in 2016. BTW if there were to be a TA on which to vote, it will be voted down-barring any chicanery……

Matt
Member

CSeries will receive way more orders

A350 gets more European orders

Vietnam Airlines announces route to US or Canada-US

New Flight Simulator comes out to follow the footsteps of FSX

jeff2
Member
Matt – I like your #2 prediction. I already made my 3 predictions, but if I had a mulligan or an aborted takeoff (are those allowed?) I would substitute this prediction – Airbus will establish itself as a more viable option than Boeing in 2016. The reason, they have better planes. A321 is better aircraft than the 737. A330 and A350 match up well if not better than 777 and 787. The A380 is a niche aircraft but has not competition. With Delta buying Airbus now it shows Boeing does not have a stronghold on US carriers like Airbus has… Read more »
jmd757
Member

My extremely crazy prediction is that Boeing will concentrate on military and space business and sell off the commercial division. Lockheed Martin will be the buyer.

INDHNL
Guest

1. Delta terminates its CPA with Shuttle America (Republic Airways)
2. Southwest finally announces service to Hawaii
3. Boeing announces an end date for the 747 production line

Stephen
Guest

1) United announces 1-2-1 business configuration
2) Delta and Alaska end their partnership
3) American launches PHX-LHR and PHL-NRT
4) American dehubs JFK, consolidating its northeast ops at PHL
5) JetBlue and Virgin America announce merger
6) Delta officially cancels its 787 order
7) American does not match United’s plan to reinstate complimentary economy snacks
8) The USA enters another recession, forcing airlines to make cutbacks
9) Southwest announces service to Hawaii
10) TSA ends liquid restrictions (wishful thinking)

jmd757
Member

Delta is going to convert the 787 order into more 737s. Airbus will do all of the long haul flying and Boeing the short haul.

David
Guest

Southwest drops service to Flint, Wichita, Dayton, Columbia SC and Portland ME. They will also add flights from MKE to capture more activity from folks in Lake and McHenry counties, who don’t want to drive thru the traffic to Midway – assuming Allegiant doesn’t start service there first.

David
Guest

They also drop Grand Rapids… left that one out.

Jonas
Guest

1. One of the European “Big 3” (IAG, LH, AF/KLM) or Etihad will (try to) buy (a part of) LOT.

2. Airbus will launch A380neo with a +10 order from an airline that is NOT located in the Middle East (UA? AA? LH?)

3. Oil price stays low, airlines still don’t lower fares, will make huge profits but still don’t lower fares.

IO
Member
SWA – Randy Bobbitt resigns. Decisions will be made as to whether the number driven initiatives are still the way to go. can current management adjust as they’ve asked labor. UA – will shrink by putting even more flying on regionals and eliminating some unprofitable long distance flights as they retire 767/757. Decision time for CO vp big cheeses….leave or stay and stink-up the joint. More importantly, does new CEO or acting CEO have the guts to communicate and hold top brass accountable for their actions which are measured against healthy standards. AA – pulls the covers off the strategic… Read more »
IO
Member

last ones…..airlines will provide a hassle free service to CF’s concierge service :-)

30+ year prediction. CF will change his name to HF as he mellows out with age.

IO
Member

seriously, CF thanks for keeping this blog which has helped me to vicariously stay connected to the industry i worked right out of college.

i don’t read airline blogs but when i do i read CF.com…..remain thirsty my friend.

jmd757
Member

These are my more realistic predictions for 2016.
1. Delta will replace the 787 order with more 737s.
2. If Trump gets elected, expect a more hostile environment towards the ME3.
3.United will still be the worst airline in the US but will show signs of improvement.
4.Allegiant will be grounded due to operational issues.
5.No mergers!?

Nicc Harris
Member
Marco Polo Club. Cathay Pacific will lose a significant percentage of MPC members especially Diamonds (OWE) and Golds (OWS) flying PEY/Y based outside of Hong Kong and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong after the MPC changes in April. These ‘lost’ passengers will continue to use the CX First Class and Business Class lounges with entry granted by top tier status on AA, BA, and QR, to the continued annoyance of MPC elites, but CX’s delight in getting payment for access from the other One World partner programmes. CX will not notice (nor care) as they will be replaced… Read more »
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