Topic of the Week: Your Predictions for 2013


The end of the year is just about here, so now it’s time to do your best Carnac impression and decide what’s in store for next year. What are the big news stories going to be? (I’ll bet we have our first American/US Airways prediction quite quickly.)

On Monday, I’ll be back with my annual post remembering the airlines we lost this year. No post Tuesday while I’m at the Rose Bowl rooting on the mighty Cardinal, but we’ll get back to business as usual next Thursday.

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56 comments on “Topic of the Week: Your Predictions for 2013

  1. Maybe a Delta US airways devaluation in their award chart, a Delta change to revenue program (blegh, my mouth tastes bad just saying that) and later in the year a new Singapore First Class. But what do I know… :)

  2. I will go for a Jet Blue/Virgin America merger. Bit out there but Virgin is bleeding and they would have some good synergies.
    Oh and maybe O’Leary (Ryanair) to come out with a press release wanting pilotless aircraft ALA drones – or something equally as stupid.

      1. Rather, a fee for the privilege of flying an aircraft WITH a pilot. You pay an extra fee on top of that of course for the pilot to actually fly the plane.

    1. I dont see a b6/VX merger. There are no synergies. While they both fly a320s, (with different engines), b6 buying VX gives them nothing but planes which would need money to refurbish, crew who need to be retrained (when b6 has no problem finding people) and routes/cities which Jetblue either already flies or could start on their own. Simply put, the cost of a merger outweighs the benefits. And both carriers are “committed to independence”

      I do think something will happen at VX, but not sure what. Massive drawdown of growth may just mean a slow focus on profitability.

      O’Leary will likely want naked flight attendants on a remote-piloted plane, with standing seats and an added fee to breathe oxygen.

      1. Whoever “merges” with Virgin also has to acquire their half a billion dollar debt (that is still growing), with no track record of profits, and major competition on the hardest domestic flying (a.k.a. – trans cons). Nobody is going to want to dump money into this (except Branson) and then fix these things until Virgin America can fix it themselves. Until then they will have to limp. I think a change in the C.E.O. is near.

  3. I’ll fullfil your “Carnac” prediction and say that a US Airways / American merger will happen in bankruptcy, and the pilots will agree to an integrated seniority list before the merger is announced or soon after. Of course, I could be dead wrong, especially about the last part (although I saw a story in the Dallas Morning News where the American pilots won’t go along with a merger unless a seniority agreement is worked out).

    As the old Chinese proverb goes, “May you live in interesting times.”

        1. In any event, it promises to be a heck of a game. Let’s hope it lives up to its promise like the game in 1973 did. That was one fabulous football game.

  4. I’ll go with the airlines will still be bleeding money, they will still be screwing passengers and their own workers, airline workers will still treat passengers who pay their salary like dirt, the airlines will come up with more ways to charge you extra fees, the airlines will do things to save them money but say ‘I passengers ask for this’ even when we don’t. The list could go on, but it’s really a repeat of years past. :-)

    1. In India:
      1. Air India will team up with TK, join Star and feed IST. Air India will continue to lose money but at least it can show some competence.
      2. Etihad will resurrect Kingfisher mainly as a India feeder to AUH and possibly CAN/CGK with the Garuda/CZ partnership. This will drag Kingfisher to SkyTeam and possible cooperation with Delta/AF/KL/Virgin Australia/Garuda/CZ/Saudi for SkyTeam awesomeness. Etihad gets India frequencies, KF gets rebirth.
      3. Jet will get SCARED OUT OF THEIR MIND after seeing this Etihad-KF deal and since Air India is in Star, Jet will join OneWorld to feed Qatar and MH, who they already have codeshares with. Qatar becomes the Europe feed for Jet and they drop this nonsense MUC JV that only benefits Lufthansa. Jet gets alliance, Qatar gets massive feed and brand in India. BA would be happy too.

      In the US:
      1. DL-VS will fully go through and we’ll see VS with one or two flights at some the DL hubs. DL may add one destination in Africa.
      2. AA will not merge with US and will finally start DFW-HKG with 77W. They will drop the Etihad partner and align with Qatar. This will lead to DFW-DOH on AA metal. Hopefully MIA-JNB will happen as well.
      3. UA needs to clean house. Not much needs to be done in the routes department. But PLEASE TEAR DOWN THAT CRAPPY DULLES CONCOURSE.
      4. US will switch to OneWorld and be to AA a good alliance partner like they are to UA right now. Maybe have them join the transatlantic JV. No need to merge with AA or anyone.
      5. Virgin America….well I don’t know. They need partners or they’re going bust.
      6. Southwest will….get a new reservation system?

      1. Believe UA already announced new plans for IAD concourse. And WN already has a plan for new system post Airtran integration to handle international.

  5. I’m going to say Top Gear’s Mr.Clarkson will wage a successful anti-AA campaign against American Airlines over his lost baggage. If nothing else, it makes for highly entertaining twitter banter.

    1. I’ll venture to say the first bag will remain free, additional ones will get charged.

      Also on the Southwest front, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some sort of business cabin in the future, maybe not in 2013, but down the road as they expand internationally.

      I also predict a blue-chip order for the C-Series.

  6. Cranky sells out to Mark Zuckerberg, new Cranky FB gadget bombs within 2weeks, financially destroying Zuckerberg, but making Brett ~$25B, who then relaunches SkyTrain between LIT and LBA, an all C-class service…….

    …..I’ll get my coat.

  7. Vision Air will go under
    Frontier and Sun Country will merge
    Some carrier will take a major stake in Virgin America (a la Delta with Vir Atl)
    Southwest will announce a major international codeshare agreement

    1. Until Southwest gets a new reservations system, I don’t see any major code share agreement. Right now Southwest cannot even handle an Airtran code share. They are patching the decades old system they currently have. The reservations system has been the hold back on international, etc.

  8. AirAsia to try to break into India (in part to replace at least 1 carrier that fails, as bmvaughn suggests above)
    Kingfisher to be the carrier to fail in India (stick to brewing fella)
    Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh to elope

  9. United Airlines will announce they will switch over to a new computer system by June 1 2013. This New system will only crash twice a year.

  10. Airlines will update loyalty programs, not sure if revenue-based or hybrid type system.

    We will also see more bundles and unique ticket offerings.

    Jetblue introduces a spirit-style first class on a321s?

  11. The US-AA Merger doesn’t go through after Parker realizes that the A guys have been lying about everything. American decides to buy A380s and fly them back and forth between their cornerstone markets.

  12. UA decides 7 boarding groups plus Global Services aren’t enough. Also, it bows to reality, eliminates Silver status on grounds it is functionally worthless, and moves Gold down to current Silver level of benefits. No one currently in Gold notices.

    WN does NOT get a mobile boarding pass app.

  13. Oil stays surprisingly stable. Capacity stays extremely high. All airlines suddenly look like profitable businesses (well not Virgin. . . ). Stock prices go up 15%. I know. . . crazy. . . .

  14. I’ll say Southwest will raise fares and at the end of 2013 the CEO will say that next year they may have to charge for the second bag. They will convert most Airtran planes to Southwest and upgrade their reservation system. US and AA merges will AA is in bankruptcy. Delta will increase routes in South America and Europe. Jetblue will finally have wifi and continue expanding into Latin America and by the end of 2013 leave the Philly to Boston route due to US Airways. As for Virgin America…..Branson will inject more cash. They will continue slow expansion and replace their CEO because they will be getting tired of hearing “next year we will see a full year of revenue”. Frontier will focus less out of DEN and go into another city as a major hub. Spirit will add 471 more seats to their current airplanes.

  15. My predictions are:

    1. AA and US will merge, but there will not be a new pilot contract. There will be three groups, west, east and American.

    2. Virgin America will start breaking even, and slowly limp toward profitability. They will partner with a few more Asian carriers.

    3. Southwest will get a new reservation system, either a brand new one or they will adopt AirTran’s.

    4. One or more of the major legacy carriers will switch their frequent flier program from miles to dollars spent, and others will soon follow.

  16. The legacies will announce that effective [insert month/2013] they will cease to provide any traveler any advice or assistance. (Surprisingly, they had to make an announcement!) They indicated that the decision was based mostly on cost, but the fact that the world did not end last week had caught them by surprise.

    A few outfits, like “Cranky Concierge,” instantly rejoiced and soon became big businesses. And guest posters took over the Cranky Flier blog and the once happy commenters to Cranky-Land were greatly saddened. Rants about
    code-shares, “operated bys,” and “change-of-gauge” flights had nowhere else to go but to the DOT “oh, please,” dead-letter complaint file. (Assuming that part of DOT doesn’t go over the fiscal cliff.)

    But, the eternally optimistic among us said not to worry, for now, finally, no more misspelled words, no more misused words, no more improper grammar. Just a little more time to re-read a wonderfully written Cranky trip report. Happy New Year!

    1. JayB – Well don’t worry – while I’d be more than happy to see Cranky Concierge grow a lot, I won’t stop posting on the blog. I’ll just have to hire more people to do the concierge work!

  17. GO CARDS!!!

    Big shuffle coming among alliances (again). Hub & spoke model will continue to evolve into inter-continent network systems vs regional or national….the two huge emerging markets being Asia > Latin America. Will the US get its visa requirement act together to be a player as a intercon nexus? We will see.

    Im with Jim, stable (but high) oil + capacity control + anc. revenue = sustainable profits…barring a Black Swan event. AS,HA and B6 remain independent, but gravitate towards an exclusive relationship with one legacy/alliance. RAH tries to spin F9 as promised….they are acquired by a capital mgmt fund. With 3 players on the bottom end of the marketplace, one will have to throw in the towel….but not next year.

    AA+US too close to call. I think all sides, both managements, creditors & labor, are taking a close look at UAL. A combined AMR/LCC can not carry that kind of debt to cap ratio UAL is carrying based on combined revenue projections. There is allot of work to do on both sides before hitching up makes sense.

  18. Deaths of CVG and CLE hubs finally become “official” (sorry, Ohio)
    Allegient pulls back from OAK
    AA/US merger sparks rumors of PHL hub demise
    SJC’s ANA 787 route is a bust
    UAL follows Delta in scaling Africa routes (via IAH)

    1. I don’t think PHL hub ever goes away. Philly is essentially a single airport city and a top 5 market with a substantial business market. Whatever combination takes place, I don’t see a dehubbing.

    2. Well, CVG has one entire empty concourse from what I can tell (the one closest to security, grr), very anal security, and virtually no flights out of there for <$500+ (even to Chicago; there is a "scheduled air charter" service operating 30-seaters out of KLUK with RTs to MDW for $575, drinks and bags included, with a morning departure and evening return, plus it is 10 min vs 30 min from downtown, hard to beat that, and from what I understand it is doing very very well, also offering flights to CLT and NYC areas, great for biz travelers, but I digress). Given all that, I would argue that CVG is already dead for most leisure travelers, and even for many business travelers (even with an extra 20 minutes of driving, I find that DAY is more convenient for me for biz travel, and much cheaper, and it is even more convenient for the rapidly expanding northern Cinci suburbs).

      Then again, Cinci has Indy, Lexington, Louisville, Columbus, and Dayton within 1-2 hours' driving distance, and all with SW or Airtran service, plus the usual service to other airlines' hubs. So while CVG may be dead as a hub, don't feel too sorry for us in Cinci, as we probably have more airports to take LCCs out of within reasonable driving distance than almost anywhere in the country.

  19. Oh, and one more: SFO’s long wet winter and steady growth reignites calls for new parallel runway(s) in the bay. Endless debate ensues.

  20. I will dance a $#%*(@! jig when UA and MWAA announce a plan and a schedule to replace the atrocious C/D concourse at IAD. Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. But I am enough of a foolish optimist to think we might see that news in 2013. And then get a new terminal open in time for Metro to read IAD in 2017. Maybe.

  21. 1) AA and US merger falls apart because the various union factions can’t play nice and agree on a seniority list.
    2) I’ll second that a major airline moves to a revenue based FF program, followed quickly by the others. Chaos ensues on FlyerTalk.
    3) AA or Qatar will start nonstop DFW-DOH service. Rumors will continue to fly about DFW-India nonstop on a 787, but nothing is announced by EOY.
    4) WN ends “Bags Fly Free” through the back door – they will create a new, lower price point that doesn’t include a free allowance.

  22. Hey Brett, I was listening to the Leo Laporte show yesterday, and Cranky Concierge got a good mention!

    My prediction, strife for Alitalia (yeah, I went with a safe pick)

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