Reviewing Your 2017 Predictions and Making Your 2018 Picks


It’s official, 2017 is over so it’s time to look back and see how you all did with your predictions. A year ago, I reviewed 2016 predictions and asked for your thoughts on 2017. There were a ton of entries last year, so I’ve picked the most popular themes to address here. If you had a prediction you think I shouldn’t have left out because it turned out so well, then start bragging in the comments section!

The Alaska/Virgin America Merger

Ty – Alaska/Virgin start to build up outside of the west coast. Expect more flights from Seattle/LA/SF/Portland to secondary markets in the outer Midwest and east coast (i.e. SFO-CVG or SEA-PIT).
Zack Rules – Alaska will announce plans for a dedicated premium fleet on the JFK-LAX/SFO route, will sell it’s Love gates for $125m+ to Southwest and trade it’s LGA/DCA slots for more JFK slots and gates in SFO/LAX.
Kurt – AS sells its gates at Love Field to Allegiant (to piss off Delta even more), and starts the following routes: SEA–PIT, SEA–CLE, and SFO–ATL.
Scott Wiederhold – AS/VX decide to keep the Airbus and Boeing fleets, and implement a special sub-fleet to fly select trans-con routes (LAX/SFO/SEA-JFK) with some sort of lie-flat product.
INDHNL – Alaska decides to kill the Virgin brand, but keeps the Airbus (for now) and installs a lie flat product for the premium transcon markets.
Evan – AS keeps DAL gates but rebalances flights with new frequencies to the west coast and cuts to the east.
Trevor – Alaska will announce they will trash the airbuses acquired as part of virgin’s fleet once the leases are up, and while carrying some of the features of the virgin brand, will rebrand all as Alaska.
Rebecca – Alaska will publicly commit to an all-Boeing future, once the Virgin planes hit retirement age. They’ll also announce an updated cabin design, to be placed on the MAX order. (Maybe a new FA uniform too? Basically, incorporating the sexy loyalty-creating parts of the Virgin brand before they inevitably trash it.)
Jim – JetBlue will expand its Mint class to many more flights, and Alaska will introduce some sort of premium transcon service similar to Virgin’s.
Seanny – Despite all of the talk about competition with Delta, Alaska/Virgin America’s real focus will be to build up hubs other than Seattle. Southwest will be the biggest target for its direct Intra-California and Western US flights, such as Sacramento-San Diego, already scheduled to begin in March.
Zhuo – Alaska Airlines drops the “Virgin” brand in the merged airline but modifies product offerings to be more “edgy” in order to retain/attract VX customers.
Axelsarkiss – AS/VX will have a fairly successful merger process (in other words, no major issues) and the Virgin brand will disappear, being at most some sort of branded service offered by AS.
Seby – Virgin/Alaska merger is plagued by competing visions from each side. They get their act together by summer.
Stephen – Alaska/Virgin America announces plans to phase out the Virgin America Brand and the A320 fleet. Going forward the combined airline will be called Alaska with an all Boeing 737 fleet.

At this time last year, the Alaska/Virgin America merger had just been announced, so it was clearly top of mind for many of you. How did you do? Well, many predicted that there would be a new premium transcon option. Nope. Alaska went the other way on that one. Most of you were right, however, that that Virgin brand would be phased out. On the other hand, the end of the Airbus has yet to be announced. I think we all still assume it’ll happen some time.

There were a couple of calls for Pittsburgh service. Nice work there. Evan had a great and correct call on what would happen in Dallas. And Seanny was dead-on that growth has focused on competing with Southwest in California. I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more predictions here this year.

Southwest Changes

Joe P – Southwest will stick to their guns on two free checked bags and no change fees, but will finally introduce a premium economy of sorts…and by premium economy, I mean a little more leg room, free beverages and an upgraded snack.
Ted – LUV starts to charge for checked bags.
Scott Wiederhold – WN finally starts charging for bags. They take the same approach all other airlines, starting with a simple 2nd bag fee, touting the fact that some high percentage of their customers only check 1 bag.
PF – Southwest’s domestic bag policy does not change.
Paul A – Southwest has a major I.T. Meltdown that snarls flights.
Evan – Southwest IT failure causes the company significant embarrassment and inconveniences many.
IO – southwest announces a ceo transition after labor continues to harp on the operational issues (IT, late/cancellations) which in turn affects financials and gets the attention of wall street.
Matt P – WN introduces $75 fee for 2nd suitcase but continues to say “bag(s) fly free”
MeanMeosh – I’m sticking to this one for the 2nd year in a row – Southwest introduces and extra legroom section, available for an extra fee. Bags continue to fly free.

Apparently a lot of you are really convinced that Southwest will add a bag fee. That may be the case someday, but it wasn’t this year. PF nailed that one. There really wasn’t any kind of significant change in the Southwest product, and certainly nothing exciting like an extra legroom section.

Weakness in the Middle East

Jonathan – One of the ME3 airlines changes CEOs. Increasing cost pressures and competition lead to the actual bosses firing one of the CEOs or said CEO “resigning”.
malbarda – At least one of M3 will announce a complete merger/takeover with one of the Europeans (KLM/AirFrance/ALITALIA, Lufthansa/SAS or IAG)
KN – The ME3 won’t be able to support the huge aircraft orders, leading to serious financial struggle across the board
John – Etihad (or Emirates) gets to change the CEO
Seby – ME3 are forced to cancel aircraft orders due to rising oil prices and lower profits/instability.
HH – Stagnant oil prices in the $50 to $60 range will hurt the ME3 hard in 2017. Expect slower growth and layoffs to expand.

Glad you gave it another shot this year, Jonathan, because you got this one right. Etihad has a new CEO. There hasn’t been any kind of merger with a European airline, but there are troubles on the horizon with these guys.

Trump and the Middle East Carriers

Joe P – The Trump Administration will put more pressure on the ME3 as well as other international carriers like Norwegian to align with a more nationalist policy. This won’t change the airlines’ route strategy, but may force the carriers to hire more American employees.
Roger Cohen – Despite all the “America First” rhetoric, the Norwegian and ME3 battles fizzle out. Not because of politics, but because the international demand shrinks and issues lose their sex appeal. Good riddance to those “if there wasn’t a fight, I’d start one” faux wars ginned up by former DL CEO Richard Anderson.
Nick – ME3 Rush to add new US routes in fears of the new administration cracking down on their expansion. Those fears are unfounded as the new administration will take no action.
Simon – the new US administration will threaten to withdraw from open skies/other similar agreements. Rest of the world won’t blink.
Philippe B – Rather then throw out the Norwegian airport access, Trump will throw the baby with the bathwater by actually throwing out the entire US-EU open skies agreement. Economic nationalism is the card here.

Some wondered if the Trump Administration would be tougher on the Middle East airlines. Nope. Not at all. This hasn’t fizzled out, however. The US carriers are still fighting the Middle East carriers in Washington. We just aren’t any closer to any kind of resolution.

Privatizing Air Traffic Control

BJ – Trump will announce plans to privatise US ATC.
Zack Rules – ATC is privatized but most management is retained, allowing FAA’s old problems to continue. NextGen gets a new name and scope significantly reduced.
Roger Cohen – The election seemingly parted the seas for ATC “corporatization” with 1) its Congressional rabbi and early-Trump supporter Bill Shuster (R-PA) surviving a bitter primary, 2) Senate Commerce chair John Thune (who initially jumped off the Trump bus post-*Access Hollywood *tape) warming to privatizing and 3) Congressional Democrats marginalized. It may only take one bad ORD snowstorm to ingnite enough passengers griping on social media for former airline CEO/POTUS to tweet “FAA incompetent. Sad. I will fix pronto.” But I’m betting the leather-helmet and goggles FAA middle managers/AOPA hang on for another year — maybe another study.
Raj – The new administration will privatize ATC

Remember when the push to privatize seemed to have a head of steam? Well, so much for that. This, like the last one, hasn’t gone anywhere. There are rumblings that it may happen in 2018, however.

Merger Mania in the US

Ted – There will be talk between Spirit and Frontier, but no marriage.
CJ – Spirit and Frontier merge after months of rumors and speculation
Chicago Chris – Merger fever continues with Spirit/Frontier flirting, but a deal comes through among RJs (maybe Mesa or CommutAir get acquired by Trans State or SkyWest)
KN – B6 and HA wil merge, giving it a better chance to fight AS/VX
Thor – LCC’s merger(s). Spirit & Frontier / Allegiant & Frontier / Spirit & Allegiant
Mike – JetBlue buys or merges with another carrier (my guess is Frontier or Hawaiian).
DesertGhost – There will be some consolidation in the regional space (not counting Republic consolidating its flying onto one certificate).
Zhuo – Hawaiian and JetBlue expand their cooperation through expanded codesharing, or even start merging discussions.
tvmccabe – HA and B6 will expand commercial agreements, leading to codesharing.
tvmccabe – B6 will continue to its search for a merger partner and find one.

There was a lot of hope (or fear) that we’d see closer cooperation and possibly mergers within the US. We didn’t. JetBlue didn’t merge with anyone, nor did Spirit or Frontier. Will next year be the year?

The End for Big Planes

Jonathan – Boeing announces a timeframe to end production of the 747. At least two new cargo operators sign on to take planes before the line closes. The USAF also announces firm plans for 747-8 orders to replace Air Force One and the E-4s.
malbarda – Airbus will announce an end date for the A380 production line.
Ty – Airbus will aggressively market the A380 to the US big 3, likely with cut-rate pricing. There will be lots of media speculation, but no purchase.
Thor – Airbus near collapse as A380 formally dies, A350 orders slow and A400M continues to hemorrhages money all due to engine issues, mfg process, market saturation and politics.
Doug Swalen – EK continues to suffer from overcapacity woes with its A380 fleet and a downturn in travel. As a result Airbus cuts production again on the A380 which gives EK the cover to delay more orders instead of taking on more capacity or, worse, cancelling planes which could push Airbus to bite the bullet and kill the program. The A380 production line will survive 2017. Barely.
Jonas – Airbus will put on the aggressive make-up (and some nice lingerie) to try to sell (used) A380s at dirt-cheap prices (potential takers being DL, HAL, GIA (Hajj), some random LCC (Jeju? Vanilla?)).

Plenty of people thought the A380 and 747 lines would see their demise announced. But nay, not yet. There’s no doubt that demand has dried up for both airplanes. So far, there’s little reason to believe a ton more orders will pour in. It’s just a matter of when these lines end, unless Papa Emirates decides to have a change of heart and prop up the A380 for longer.

Basic Economy

Jonathan – Basic Economy fares will continue to spread at airlines that already have them. However, continued bad publicity and disappointing revenue gains will mean that no US airline introduces Basic Economy fares.
Daniel – Either American or Delta will follow United’s lead in not allowing carry-on baggage for basic economy fares.
PF – United’s basic economy product is phased out.
Itami – UA’s new basic economy fare rolls out and despite a few isolated operational hiccups, is successful. When AA launches their version, they copy UA in charging for overhead space
MeanMeosh – AA and DL join UA’s race to the bottom and eliminate EQMs and hand baggage for Basic Economy fares. However, due to severe backlash from business customers forced to purchase the fares, all three are forced to backtrack.

It’s true, American did follow through with the same “no carry on” policy that United pushed. While United did have to pull back from its aggressive rollout, things seem to have settled down, and Basic Economy doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon. In fact, Delta has been pushing globally while American has gone down into the Caribbean and Mexico.


PF – Oil prices increase. Airlines react by slowing growth, deliveries, and try to avoid staff reductions.
Nick – Oil Price increases cause airlines to drop “long thin” 787 routes, SFO/CTU, NRT/SAN, AUS/LHR etc.
Jim – Low oil prices and the completion of the AS/VX merger will usher in an era of profitability for the US airlines.
Stephen – Oil prices rise significantly, forcing airlines all over the world to scale back growth plans and cut some routes.

Oil was mostly a non-factor this year, though in the last couple of months, prices have started to march higher. This hasn’t caused the cancellation of any significant routes, but this may be more of a story for 2018 if the price continues to move north.

The C-Series

HH – United will order the c-series and finally add a 100 to 120 seater to the mainline fleet.
Cody C – United orders the C-series or Embrear E-2s.
Mike – The C-Series picks up significant orders from major North American carriers (almost doubling the back log).
Evan – C-series garners another blue chip order; CS500 launch rumors increase but no announcement is made.

There were no big C-Series orders this year (unless you count Egyptair?), and United hasn’t bothered doing anything in that size range. The big news on the C-Series was around those import tariffs and the Airbus acquisition. Nobody guessed that one!

European LCCs

Joe P – Continued pressure from LCCs in both the US and Europe will make legacy carriers rethink their hub and spoke structure, and begin to launch more unique, nonstop routes. British Airways has taken the lead with this in some regards like this service to Austin, but I would expect American to join in on this fun as well to potentially some cities that aren’t their hubs but have a strong enough base for a Dreamliner (i.e. St. Louis or Kansas City to London, as well as Los Angeles or Dallas to Ho Chi Minh City or Delhi).
Richard – Norwegian will attempt to fly from Secondary US cities to Europe and fail miserably
CJ – Norwegian fails on flight to Stewart Airport
Raj – A lot of new flying by european LCCs across the pond (even to smaller US destinations), with legacies being forced to respond
Chicago Chris – Norwegian announces codeshare with Ryan Air and Spirit
Axelsarkiss – DY will continue to expand with some success, and will sign an agreement with someone (FR?) to provide more feed to their flights in Europe. Wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar (B6?) stateside.
Ty – Norwegian will announce a code sharing agreement with a US LCC (first guess – JetBlue) to increase feed on its transatlantic network.
Chicago Chris – Delta announces Ireland-based subsidiary to compete on long-haul transatlantic flights. IAGs attempt at a discounter starts and fails.

There were a bunch of predictions around the European LCCs. While there has been huge expansion over the Atlantic, it hasn’t caused any big bust yet. Chicago Chris and Axelsarkiss were pretty good at calling a Norwegian effort to get more passengers through a partnership. The first partner was easyJet, but in theory there will be more. It wasn’t as many as Norwegian probably hoped this year. Chicago Chris killed it here, also predicting IAG would start a discounter. LEVEL did come into existence, but it hasn’t failed…yet.

Delta, Tokyo, and Korean

Mike Power – DL and KE finally announce “stronger trans-pac relationship” whereby DL moves PDX-NRT to PDX-ICN and announces BOS-ICN but isn’t started whereas KE announces MSP-ICN and it does start.
Zhuo – Delta and Korean Air make progress towards a TPAC JV.
Barton – DL will launch a TPAC JV with Korean and will announce the end to NRT-Asia flying. DL will comment that the JV is a better bet than spending the CapEx to either replace the planes flying NRT-Asia or to launch longer and thinner routes from SEA to Asia.
Adrian in NZ – DL will pull more and more out of NRT, deferring to ICN, where their codeshare partner KE is.
Richard – Delta begins winding down the Narita hub

Lots of good calls on this one. Delta and Korean announced their joint venture, and the Narita hub is all but toast. This may have been the most successful set of predictions of all.

American and Its Hubs

Jim – American will significantly cut its CLT hub. Perhaps PHX as well.
DesertGhost – PHX won’t shrink much more than it has.
Stephen – AA/US de-emphasizes a hub – I think it will be JFK
Mathew – AA will start process of moving some transatlantic routes from PHL to CLT. PHL will be the de-emphasized AA hub going forward.
Scott Wiederhold – AA continues its downsizing of PHX. Similar to San Jose, Reno, and St. Louis, this year there’s a decent reduction in flights, but we’ll be promised that PHX is still an important hub in the AA system.

American’s hubs all held their own this year… except for JFK. (Good call, Stephen.) American has started to move JFK flights down to Philly (like Zurich) in order to strengthen that one further.

United’s Operation

Raj – United will continue to see huge operational improvements in 2017
tvmccabe – UA will continue to improve substantially. UA will substantially expand seat share domestically by up-guaging and adding seats in narrow bodies and high density domestic 777’s, while adding few domestic departures. UA will also accelerate strategic deployment on 787’s in international markets. All actions will lower seat mile costs and raise RPM’s.

There’s no doubt about it. United has substantially improved its operation in 2017, and we should all be very happy about that. As for the seat share, well, United has done some upgauging, but it has also gone downmarket, adding a lot of small 50 seater markets. That one isn’t as clear as the operational gain.

The Demise of airberlin

Cody C – AirBerlin goes belly up and its remaining parts that haven’t already been parsed out go to Lufthansa/Eurowings, the new TUI airline they are setting up, and one of the major euro LCC’s that wants to grab more of the german market
Jonas – After killing AirBerlin together and fileting its parts, there is a closer relationship between LH and EY in some form or other.

Cody C just crushed this one. That’s pretty much what happened, except that the TUI option fell apart. And this didn’t result in Lufthansa and Etihad getting closer. Etihad just walked away from airberlin.

Alitalia Is Still Here

Cody C – Alitalia goes bankrupt and emerges as another “new” Alitalia.
Mike Power – AZ enters into limited relationship with LH on intra-Europe and North Africa flights; makes noise about leaving SkyTeam but stays; talks about but never actually sets up another airline “ItalyWings” with EY and LH to operate TATL flights outside of the DL/AF-KL JV

Alitalia did indeed go bankrupt, but the final outcome here is a question for 2018. Right now, it sits in limbo.

Avianca’s Fate

Mike Power – DL wins the AV lottery and AV announces that its leaving Star Alliance

I like the prediction, but no, United won this one. It took a long time and the legal battles have only recently stopped. But Avianca isn’t going anywhere.

Qatar’s Buying Spree

Thor – Qatar Airways continues buying (as they did with AIG & LANTAM) OneWorld Alliance Partners and now into North America (American Airlines) and Asia (JAL or Cathay). Their way to secure world connections and counter government changes.

Excellent work, Thor. Qatar tried to buy into American, but it was pushed back. It did, however, get a stake in Cathay Pacific. The strategy here seems about right.

BA to Nashville

INDHNL – British Airways announces LHR-BNA with the 787.

This may not have been a huge industry-shattering prediction, but I had to include it for being completely and totally correct. Nice work, INDHNL.


Mike – There’s an accident or major incident at a US based 121 airline.
TC99 – G4 will have a major accident that will force the FAA/NTSB to ground them due to deficient maintenance of their planes.
Kilroy – A military or terrorist organization will down a commercial airliner, but not with a bomb (with bullets, missiles, etc), and not necessarily “intentionally” (deliberate use misleading quotes). This may happen anywhere, but smart money is on the Eastern Med/Caucasus/Ukraine/ME/Russia áreas.

I’m happy to see that none of these came to fruition. Let’s hope 2018 looks the same.

Now, on to 2018. Put your predictions in the comment section, and remember, you only get 3. If you put more than 3, all of yours will be ignored in next year’s roundup.

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97 comments on “Reviewing Your 2017 Predictions and Making Your 2018 Picks

  1. What a fun exercise this is year after year! Thanks, Brett!

    1) After its recent shopping spree (Brussels, (parts of) Air Berlin, (hopes of parts of) Alitalia) and absurdly fantastic money numbers in 2017, LH continues to go shopping in Europe. Possible targets: LOT, SAS, Condor, Adria, (if it weren’t for Brexit:) FlyBe.
    2) Airbus will get orders for the A380.
    3) The rooftop-bar-that-also-flies-a little (“Joon”) won’t see the year 2019 and will die a slow death in 2018. The PR for that will not be as fantastic as the PR for its introduction.

    1. Or Cranky buys Alitalia for one Euro after it completely collapses. Just to keep the name alive for old time’s sake. ?

  2. Here’s my three in order of confidence…
    1) MRJ program dies
    2) Boeing buys into the E2 program allowing delta to take C-series without tariffs
    3) Jetblue announces a321LR and with it announces BOS-DUB

    1. One of Jetblue’s few codeshare partners is Aer Lingus – I doubt their first transatlantic flight would be BOS-DUB

  3. Since the safest predictions are those that predict relatively little change, here goes…

    1) The price of oil may increase a little in 2018, but will largely be a non-issue.
    2) Trans-Atlantic fares will continue to be incredibly cheap, with many RTs available for < $700 or even $600.
    3) Media & FF outrage aside, some form of "basic economy" will be increasingly accepted by the traveling public and offered by most major airlines… This will be especially true for basic economy forms like those on Delta, where a rollerboard is included free but seating is not assigned until check in. That said, I'm definitely not predicting the Delta's pax-friendly type of basic economy will become the de facto standard.

    Some may argue that [3] has already come to fruition, but I don't think we've seen the full impact of it yet.

  4. 1. There will be another major disruption to a hub airport like the 2017 ATL power outage. Terrorism will be blamed.
    2. 2018 will follow 2017 with no major hull loss incidents of passenger jets, however there will be more “close calls” at crowded airports/skies.
    3. Higher oil prices will strain airlines and will push a ULCC into BK.
    4. There will be zero new orders for the A380.
    5. Boeing will announce plans brand new clean sheet design for a narrow body aircraft to compete with the C-series.

    1. Apparently Russian hackers disappeared my prediction last year that Russian hackers would shut down ATL.

  5. 1) A US3, probably Delta, adds more point to point routes across the pond to compete with Norwegian and others, such as AMS-CLE/AUS and LHR-PIT/MCI

    2) The Icelandic carriers experience over expansion and their “honeymoon” phase begins to end

    3) Boeing announces a 757 replacement for its MoM program, named the 797, which will be used on transcontinental and transoceanic routes

  6. My first time trying this so let’s see how it goes..

    1) Lufthansa will make clear some sort of plan to begin to merge Brussels Airlines into Eurowings, perhaps by forming ‘Eurowings Belgium’

    2) Boeing will make a move on announcing the 797 MOM aircraft, maybe in time for the Farnborough air show

    3) Bombardier will gain at least one large(ish) order (at least 30 aircraft) for the CSeries from a new customer, but not from North America.

    Fingers crossed at least one of them comes true…
    Best of luck to everyone!

  7. 1. The Boeing 797 is formally announced. It will, depending on how you look at it, be either a 787 shrink. Or a rehash of the old A310.

    2. Frontier and Spirit WILL merge. The question is ‘when’, not ‘if’. Maybe this will be the year. If/when that happens, it will spark yet another round of mergers. Sun Country/Allegiant and Alaska-having bit off more than it can chew with Virgin-will come to JetBlue begging for a merger-come to mind. Other possibilities I can see happening would be Southwest/Hawaiian and with a “business friendly” White House, I would not entirely rule out a Delta/United one. Contingent of course on one of the hubs being handed over to Southwest.

    3. The C Series/Airbus/Boeing/E-Jet drama is going to get really, really interesting. Boeing will finally wake up and start kicking themselves for having abandoned that market (100-149 seats) and because this is a RE-active (NEVER PRO-active) industry, Boeing will try and buy its way in with EMBRAER. I’ve seen some rumblings that this may already be in motion.

  8. AA: Reduces seats to South America (Brazil)

    UA: Opens 2 of the now-3 Polaris Lounges

    DL: Pegs Skymiles redemptions to the cost of the flight (a la Southwest)

    IB: Avios gets brought back in sync with BA Avios. (increase in fees, etc)

    BA: Continues cost-cutting.

    WN: Introduces Extra Legroom seating for A1-15 customers (at least on the new Hawaii flights). Reduces carry-ons from 2 to 1.

    AS: Keeps Airbus around.

    Norwegian: Continues adding flights. DFW, Houston, or Atlanta.

    WOW: Adds Denver, Seattle, Charleston

    QR: Stops adding new routes. Begins reconsidering some of their European flights (Manchester, Geneva, Birmingham, et al). Purchases notable stake in JetBlue or AS. Possibly both? Oh, and they make more noise about leaving OW.

    Emirates: Announces that they’re joining Star Alliance.

    Trump: Attempts to dismantle Open Skies agreements across the board. Backs DL/UA/AA claims against ME3 and further bans at least one ME airline from USA. Let’s be honest: Probably QR.

  9. Boeing will buy into Embraer’s E190/E170 program and push it more heavily in Europe while looking to build a larger variant to compete in the US market.

  10. Nailed the airberlin one sans the tui part. For 2018:
    1. Philippine Airlines finds its strategic partner to invest in it and joins one of the major alliances.
    2. Etihad’s balance sheet continues to strain. Aircraft orders are deferred, growth slowed, and another airline from the Etihad Equity Alliance is sold off.
    3. Alitalia soldiers on, because this airline never dies.

  11. *AS pulls out of DAL consolidating operations at DFW.
    *UA reduces frequency on ultra long-haul flights
    *Apollo Global liquidates Sun Country

  12. 1) The A380 program is shut down after it fails to get a significant new order
    2) AA will continue to move more international routes from JFK to PHL, leading to JFK becoming a “hub” in name only within the network.
    3) WN finally starts SDF to BOS nonstop. More of a wish and a reach than a real prediction, but hey, sometimes dreams do come true.

  13. 1. Boeing goes through with its plan to buy a stake in Embraer (probably >50%), talks about setting up a US factory for them (but probably doesn’t), and aggressively markets the E-2 worldwide with marginally positive results.
    2. With oil prices staying relatively low, the US big 3 get more adventurous with long thin routes (AA or UA ORD to WAW?, AA DFW to DEL?, etc) only to have it bite them before year’s end when oil starts to go back up significantly.
    3. Joon survives, but only because it morphs into an AF regional carrier. Despite the fact that we can all see what’s really happening, AF touts its success as a new business model and at least one stupid airline tries to replicate said “success” with horrible results.

  14. 1) DL officially turns Skymiles fully revenue-based on the redemption side.

    2) 3rd year in a row, so third time has to be the charm. Southwest launches an extra legroom section and buy-on-board food trial coincident with the launching of Hawai’i flights; a schedule is formally announced but flights don’t start until 2019.

    3) UA and AA copy DL’s experiment of replacing F/J with Premium Economy on thinner TATL routes, and introduce hand baggage-only Basic Economy fares on all routes. The resulting price competition forces one of the ULCCs (most likely Norwegian) to begin pulling back, but nobody goes belly up just yet.

  15. 1) Boeing and Embraer will fail at merger/acquisition talks leaving Boeing twisting in the wind with no short term answer to Airbus/Bombardier.
    2) Due to the hassles of ETOPS certification, Southwest does not launch Hawaii service but by the end of the year does announce some routes for a 2019 launch. Most likely candidates Oakland, San Diego, and Burbank.
    3) Jet Blue throws in the towel at Long Beach, thus guaranteeing we get at least one 2018 Crankyflier Long Beach blog post.

  16. Itami’s Calls:
    1. Frontier doesn’t file an IPO this year.
    2. Delta buys a stake in Jet Airways.
    3. Norwegian’s breakneck longhaul growth and weak longhaul financials catch up to it. There’s some retrenchment, whether in Europe or in their new Argentinian venture.

  17. 1. After more bad financial results Norwegian ousts its CEO and starts to cut back its transatlantic Dreamliner flights.

    2. United/Lufthansa and BA/AA follow Delta/AF-KL and extend Basic Economy to transatlantic flights with no free checked bags.

    3. The US Big 3 and UAE Big 2 (Emirates and Etihad) declare a truce. The Abu Dhabi government confirms withdrawal of subsidies from Etihad and Emirates (already off subsidies) agrees to curtail/limit fifth freedom flying to the US, as Delta pulls its final fifth freedoms ex-Tokyo. The US/UAE Open Skies agreement is amended to cap fifth freedoms for US and UAE carriers with strict conditions on new services.

    4. As a result Etihad applies and is approved to join Star Alliance, and seeks a joint venture with United/Lufthansa for US/Europe, and with Lufthansa/Singapore Airlines for Europe/Asia/Oceania.

    5. Furthermore, Delta buys a stake in Jet Airways, seeks a JV with 9W, and announces a non stop India service subject to having enough A350s to operate the service.

  18. 1) AS will regret the VX purchase. This isn’t only because it bought a poorly managed airline in VX, it also went from having two domestic partners to just a limited codeshare agreement with AA, which will greatly reduce its feed. AS will be forced to eliminate some of the most unprofitable VX routes and will face more questions from investors on what’s going on with this merger.

    2) Delta will end up with the C-series by the end of the year.

    3) UA and AA will try to introduce Basic Economy on European routes and realize that they will need to allow passengers to bring a carry on bag as you can’t ban a carry on and charge $60 for the first checked bag which makes the fare essentially worthless.

    1. Seems like lots of AS predictions on the VX absorption. I’ll make a 2019 long shot prediction on that….market softness hurts AS and they become a target for hostile takeover.

  19. First time doing this, let’s see how it goes!

    1. DL will take delivery of at least one CS100 (or will be on track to in early 2019), probably one that is ‘assembled’ in the USA.

    2. More US/EU carriers will add ‘Basic Economy’ style restrictions for TATL flights (LH/UA and BA/AA specifically)

    3. DL’s plan in adding more TCON D1 routes doesn’t totally work, by 2019 I don’t think SAN will have any regularly scheduled 75S routes to JFK

    4. WOW Air’s expansion in the USA slows down or completely stops, maybe even a curtailing of some frequency. Norwegian will have trouble, but I think will continue to try expansion

    5. With extremely low TATL fares continuing, B6 does *not* expand into the TATL market in 2018. I’d guess they look to strengthen partnerships instead

    6. DL is going to do something surprising with secondary cities (CVG, RDU, IND, etc) – I have no idea what, though

  20. This is always fun. Here are my three predictions:

    1. AS will retreat and reduce frequency on some of the highly competitive transcons, especially where there is overlap with B6 Mint (SFO, LAX – FLL, BOS, JFK)
    2. WN service to Hawaii in late 2018 will elicit a big response from UA, AS, and HA. Good time to fly to Hawaii.
    3. B6 will try again at OAK after LGB keeps bleeding (one can hope).

  21. Thanks Brett, here are my predictions
    1) Norwegian continues to take massive losses on its international businesses and forces to sell more of the Norwegian bank to cover
    2) B6 announces jumping into Europe with A321LR and starts BOS/NYC-DUB/LON with mint fare of $1000 O/W causing premium fares to collapse after its entry in 2019
    3) WN entering HI will cause yields crater in the west coast to HI market. Having meaningful effect on UA/HA/AS revenue.

  22. Interesting how many of these people are guessing/predicting correct
    I’ll take a shot too… though 2 and 3 are more like my wishes rather than predictions =)

    1) Emirates doesn’t order additional A380s, Airbus announces to cease production
    2) JAL continues their one less seat across layout in economy 2-4-2 B-787
    3) Jetblue announces Mint expansion with additional A321 orders.

  23. Some aspirational ones:

    1. As fires, hurricanes, droughts, and extreme temperatures worsen, people who run airline industry/points/reviews blogs finally start talking about the enormous environmental impact that their hobby has towards causing climate change. (The people who frequently fly business/first class all over the world for fun/reviews, after just a couple trips, have already done the equivalent damage of putting a mid-sized fleet of pickup trucks on the road for a year).
    2. After much talk, construction begins on solid plans that will bring O’Hare out of the 1980s.

  24. 1) Doug Parker is given the boot at American
    2) American announce a load of new summer transatlantic flights from CLT
    3) Corsair and Aigle Azur merge

      1. I’ll even welcome Jeff Smisek replacing Doug Parker. I know Smisek had his issues with UA, but pales compared to the mess Parker is making with of AA.

  25. 1. Delta starts to dehub SLC in favor of Seattle and the longer term growth at LAX.

    2. Things with Qatar and it’s neighbors don’t get any better causing issues for the airline.

    3. An airliner will be targeted by North Korean jets during the Olympics

  26. 1) Bombardier CSeries receives a ton of new orders, somewhere between 50-100 this year. Meanwhile the MRJ program loses orders and lies teetering on its last legs.
    2) The A380 program officially dies.
    3) Boeing comes out with a 797 MOM concept. To undercut it, Airbus announces an A322 XLR with a longer fuselage and new wings.

  27. Love this series of posts.

    1. Jetblue will convert 15 of their A321neo orders to the A321LR model and announce the start of transatlantic flights from Boston and JFK to Western Europe (LGW/CDG/DUB).
    2. Jetblue will order the C-series to replace it’s E190 fleet.
    3. Etihad will cancel or at a minimum delay a substantial part of their fleet orders of the A350 and 787.
    4. Norwegian will run into severe financial troubles because of overexpansion of the long-haul fleet. It’ll cut back long-haul capacity by at least 20%.
    5. Delta makes an equity investment in Jet Airways and launches a non-stop from JFK to BOM (will be announced in 2018, probably starts in 2019).

  28. 1. Seeking a “bipartisan feel good bill” there will be a push for another passenger’s bill of rights that will guarantee seat pitch or snacks or something. This will happen after a few more cell phone videos of dubious quality of people being told to not act like animals on airplanes.

    2. There will be no real infrastructure bill and the FAA will not be privatized.

    3 0 fatalities continue. Trump takes all the credit. Also, it will rain in 2018, and Trump will also take all the credit for that. . .

  29. 1) Delta tries to grow more at RDU, ramping up its focus city operation in order to exceed American and Southwest with regards to market share.
    2) Delta grows at CVG a little, but downgrades it officially to a focus city, as the number of destinations served from there is nearly the same as RDU.
    3) American finally announces a few more domestic and Mexican destinations from PHX; the fly to more cities in the east that WN does not yet fly to and try to stop an influx of Mexican carriers before it happens.

  30. 1.) JetBlue moves a large portion of it’s LGB operations to ONT and starts international flights from there.

    2.) JetBlue starts to build up a hub somewhere in the Midwest. MCI MKE STL are the cities being looked at.

    3.) One of the US3 starts a LAX-MKE nonstop.

    4.) SunCountry’s move to a LCC fizzles and they wind up merging with Allegiant. The new company focuses on being a flight and hotel package seller with moderate success. Apollo will be the owner.

    5.) American offers it’s senior flight attendants of very generous buyout offer, which most of them take.

    6.) The 1500 hour rule is greatly reduced and airlines are allowed to form a pilot training program similar to ones the European airlines have.

  31. 1) C-Series gets around Boeing and takes off as an “American Made” plane. They receive orders from B6, UA, and smaller orders from smaller airlines like Aeromexico that want an extremely profitable regional plane.
    2) Delta wheels and deals and buys dirt cheap A380s or 747-8s from their respective companies.
    3) Etihad and Qatar get into financial trouble, Emirates too but less so as they are a more complete airline.

  32. 1. Boeing comes out with a replacement for the 757 (797)
    2. AS expands at JFK, leaving LGA in the dust
    3. B6 will start trans-atlantic flights, starting from BOS and eventually JFK, we will see a build up of service from BOS is gate space frees up.

  33. 1. Westjet orders the CS 100 to augment/replace the Q400s at Encore, using Delta’s 2018 production slots.
    2. Once the JV goes through, Westjet uses Encore to add YYZ service to more US cities.
    3. Pilot shortage: A United RJ operator (My money’s on ExpressJet) has a Horizon-sized meltdown. UA responds by buying the own RJ company (likely Mesa), dumping more 50-seat RJs, and buying 50+ E2s. Congress will propose loosening up the rules. 750 hours will get you the right seat on small planes with 30 passengers or less.
    4. Politics: DL convinces Georgia’s senators to hold Ex-Im hostage as revenge for the dumping case. The Brazilian government blocks Boeing’s attempt to buy Embraer. They’ll instead agree to some vague “technical alliance”
    5. Sun Country’s new sugar daddy tries to make a deal. They’ll talk to AS and G4, but nothing will be announced.
    6. Delta will try to find another LCC to invest in. Maybe Volotea, given their Italy presence and the impending death/sale to LH of Alitalia?
    7. Delta will build RDU-esqe focus cites in IND and AUS. The former’s CDG flight will do well, causing them to add AMS or CDG at the latter.
    8. We will all expected to be outraged after (An Instagram celebrity, a congressman you’ve never heard of, a lousy comedian, Jeb! Bush) gets has to give up his seat on a flight.

  34. Thanks Brett for all the great stories in 2017!

    My predictions for 2018:
    1. No new orders for A380 – Airbus tries to force Emirates hand for a last order by announcing the “end” of A380 production
    2. Delta continues to invest in airline partners – 1 more in 2018
    3. Southwest does start flying to Hawaii
    4. No other significant changes at Southwest (still free checked bags!)
    5. JetBlue starts flying to Europe – 1-2 new routes to start
    6. Norwegian continues US & South American expansion – Level tries to catch up – Joon, no where to be found

  35. 1) JetBlue announces A321neoLR order with plans for LHR flights using AA-BA slots from both Boston and JFK, even doing DFW-BOS-LHR and FLL-JFK-LHR to snag additional slots.
    2) AA or DL will compete again for United’s recently dumped China slots (3 weekly Xi’an, 3 weekly Hangzhou, and 1 weekly Chengdu), either LAX-Beijing for Delta or LAX-Guangzhou for American for its new buddy China Southern.
    3) China Southern dumps Skyteam for oneworld while Cathay leaves oneworld for Star Alliance.

  36. With all the leadership at G4 jumping ship, Jude Bricker will bring some of them on board at SY and plot the absorption of G4 into SY. The integration will result in perpetuation of the G4 model but with more growth at larger airports (750,000 enplanements minimum). The new SY will be the “go to” ULCC at larger airports to SFB, AZA, PIE, PGD, etc. LAS will have slow, but noticeable growth.

  37. This was fun! Forgot I even made that prediction about Alaska’s California focus. :)

    1) Transcontinental flights get the buzz, but Alaska will create a focus city in the midwest to funnel traffic from SEA, PDX, and SFO (maybe LAX) to smaller East Coast connections, especially if Amazon announces that city as HQ2. There could be a new codeshare agreement with a regional or United to get around limits of codeshare with American.

    2) Long-promised California Pacific Airways in Carlsbad, CA will finally fly, but will fold by December.

    3) It will be bad news, good news at United. Less built-in inflight entertainment will mean even fewer flights with Channel 9 audio from the cockpit. They will, however, finally bring back the Tulip. (And the guess the halfway point game on flights to Hawaii)

  38. The Boeing was badly hit with a lost of huge contract in December 2017 with the C Series fight with Bombardier. The lost was over $50billion in less the 24 hours (Delta signe a huge purchase with Airbus, Boeing lost a sale with Canada to replace 88 Fighter Jets)
    #1 With the renown of Airbus, The C Series will be a first class hit in world aviation in that class.
    #2 After the South Korean Air will comments the CS300, already start receiving, the users (buyer, pilots, travellers) will comment then it will be a possible fantastic reaction, same as Swiss Air and AirBaltic.
    #3 Next aviation war: Boeing& Airbus

  39. 1. Screening points will be moved closer to the entry doors of terminals.
    2. Qantas will announce Sydney direct to New York with the return flight having a fuel tech stop.
    3. Elon Musk will start development on a hybrid solar aircraft.

  40. 1) Emirates will keep trying to “resuscitate” the A380 program, which Airbus will say no to.
    2) Shareholders will continue to push AA to deliver financial results besides just stock buyback programs, and will continue to expect an answer for how paying employees more money results in better airline performance. Doug P. will have to get creative to find new ways to increase revenue in mature domestic market. This will in turn pressure United to do the same.
    3) Southwest will keep doing its thing. No international codeshare partners for 2018, but potentially for 2019 if it can find a suitable and similar enough partner.

  41. Here goes:
    1) Westjet’s Swoop and at least one other ULCC launch in Canada. Swoop fails to properly explain the difference between it and mainline Westjet causing upset passengers and labour issues. Its competition is more successful.
    2) A scandal at one or more of the ‘second-tier’ Chinese airlines is greatly embarrassing to the Chinese Communist Party. The airlines are forcibly consolidated with one of the majors (CA, MU, CZ) by the government. China relaxes its one airline per route policy
    3) A major Asian airline announces plans to discontinue First Class

  42. Looking at this year-end prediction review and adding new ones makes getting older by one year more tolerable. Thank you!

    1. Hawaiian and JetBlue expand their cooperation through expanded codesharing, or even start merging discussions.
    2. Cathay, China Airlines and EVA continue to pull back on their North America and Europe flying due to tougher competition from mainland Chinese alcareiers.
    3. Japan Airlines announces Seattle.

  43. So…. one out of three ain’t bad.

    1. There are too many complications in the way of a Boeing-Embraer merger, so that won’t happen. What is much more likely is some sort of joint venture/alliance: combined sales/marketing, support, sub-contracting, etcetera. Boeing and Embraer announce something along those lines in 2018.

    2. Competitive pressures from LCCs and a mixed economic environment continue to plague European legacy carriers, with at least one major European airline replacing its CEO.

    3. Airbus dangles the A380plus to Emirates to try and get one last A380 order. It doesn’t work. A380 closure is announced and Airbus takes a billion-euro writeoff to cut their losses.

  44. – Either Oscar Munoz or Scott Kirby is out at UA. More likely Munoz.
    – Spirit’s operational recovery is an aberition, they do not improve on 2017’s operational performance.
    – Frontier goes public, its stock closes the year below its IPO price.
    – Despite his exemplary track record and irreplaceability, Michael O’Leary’s 24 year Ryanair CEO tenure comes to an end.
    – Neither Airbus nor Boeing launch a new aircraft, including Boeing’s MOM.

  45. 1) Frontier invades the Hawaii market
    2) AA sells off the AAdvantage program
    3) Trump bans the ME3 from flying to the US

  46. Thanks Bett and fun to read the predictions.

    1. Delta will continue buying with a 20%+ into Jet Airways (relieving Ethiad of their 25% and providing much needed cash) and an alliance partner(s) Aerolíneas Argentinas or Vietnam Airlines perhaps.
    2. Airbus sees new leadership makes bold moves while setting trend for next 20 years by firing CEO Tom Enders who likely goes to prison, cutting dead programs in the A330-800 (Aloha) and 380 and A319 while seeing success with the C-Series.
    3. Airlines market and sell pre and post flight IFE (Qatar Airways Oryx One) and services like Netflix. May lead to partnership or merger between Netflix and Global Eagle (great post!).

  47. 1) As soon as it can, El Al will fly marquee routes on Saturdays using its new acquisition, Israir. The Haredim will rage, so El Al will scale it down slightly, but not fully.
    2) With no order from Emirates in sight, Airbus will begin to wind down the A380 program. Maybe Willie Walsh will score a cheap end-of-the-line order for BA in the process.
    3) Joon will fail to raise yields meaningfully, and its planes will quietly fold back into Air France with every paint shop visit

  48. 1) Boeing offers for sale a MOM aircraft. DL and UA buy it to replace their 767 fleets. Yes, Delta will buy Boeing but UA will be the launch customer.

    2) I agree with what someone else about said about DL and Jet with DL buying an equity stake in Jet. There will be a TATL-India JV signed with DL/AF-KLM/Jet

    3) Nothing big with LGB and B6 this year. That may change near the end of 2019 if B6 can get some more gates thanks to the MSC at LAX.

    My hope would be that DL would use thhier 4 air carrier slots at LGB for either MSP or ATL, and grab 4 commuter slots for the SLC flights. I know this DL flyer really wants to avoid T2/T3 for the next 5 years, but it is a pipe dream.

  49. 1) DL takes delivery of the Bombardier CS100 after USA reduces or eliminates CSeries tarriffs and dutes.
    2) DL orders CS300’s using the options from the original CSeries order shortly after the ink dries.
    3) DL doesn’t order or lease any additional planes made by Boeing in 2018

  50. One more –
    The DOT finally clamps down on allowing emotional support animals in the cabin after a bloody flight between an emotional support pit bull and an emotional support alligator.

  51. 1) European LCCs announce additional international services from secondary airports in the US northeast (SWF, BDL, PVD). Manchester and Worcester also get serious consideration as alternate US gateways. Load factors slip as the O&D market is saturated, but 2018 remains a growth year.

    2) Southwest announces its first Hawaiian routes, including interisland flights. HA responds with a combination of low fares, additional frequencies, new routes to the mainland from smaller Hawaiian airports (OGG/LIH/KOA/ITO) and enhanced codeshare partnerships. Also possible is greater marketing of Icelandair-style stopovers, especially for travel to/from Australia and New Zealand.

    3) Scope clause limitations – and a lack of relief – take their toll. Embraer is forced to substantially redesign the E175-E2, pushing back the EIS, and existing MRJ orders from US regionals are cancelled. Regional airlines are left without a viable next-generation 76-seat aircraft until well into the mid-2020s.

  52. 1. Jetblue starts building a new west coast focus city.
    2. Norwegian hits the wall and has to start cutting.
    3. After success at LGB, Southwest launches another small California airport.

  53. 1. WOW Air grows considerably and finally gets their act together to connect passengers more efficiently. Also adds Salt Lake City as a new destination.

    2. A high-profile incident (like a collision or serious near miss) occurs, sparking an outcry to update the arguably outdated surface to ground radio communication system

    3. Joon dies, LEVEL flourishes

  54. 1) Qantas orders more 789s and announces SYD/BNE-ORD
    2) QF/AA JV doesn’t get approved
    3) CI moves ONT flight back to LAX
    4) BA buys some off lease A380s

  55. 1) Alaska will struggle in SFO/LAX after large VX fan base defects to other carriers (AA/ UA/ DL/ B6) for premium transcon products, thereby eliminating frequencies on SFO/LAX-JFK/BOS/IAD transcon routes.

    2) JetSuite X will grow to add LGB/ LAX from suburban / regional CA airports (STS/APC/CCR/LVK) & offer connections to B6 and B6 partners.
    Ditto with LAS to regional airports in NorCal/ SoCal.

    3) Air France & Alitalia will endure major upheaval and prolonged labor strikes owing to painful staff reductions and extensive route cuts & realignments which finally come home to roost; this mess will spill over well into 2019.

    4) United will announce it has placed its brand in review of global design consultancies (Landor? Lippincot? et al)
    and will announce a new agency of record for the new global brand identity to launch in 2020

    5) Norwegian & WoW will right-size themselves yet benefit handsomely from AF / AZ debacles.

    6) SWA announces proposed Canada service YVR / YYZ

    7) Bombardier C-Series jets become a global hit and belle of the ball.

    8) Joon goes to Africa

    9) Biggest Safety Red Flags:
    1) Any Cessna Carravan operations
    2) Allegiant Air (duh)
    3) Ryan Air
    4) runway collisions (like the AC near-disaster in SFO last year)
    5) vein thrombosis deaths owing to shrinking coach seats

  56. 1) UA rolls out Premium Economy with 787-10 and a plan to roll it out to retrofit 77W and other long haul fleet (hopefully that plan is better than the initial Polaris Roll Out…) Along with that, Polaris is rolled out to the existing 789/788 fleet.

    2) Boeing announces the 797 and a restart of the 767-300ER as a filler until the 797 comes out. My guess is that UA will order both as launch carrier with Delta, British Airways and LCC’s around the world order

    3) US government keeps tariff on CSeries

  57. JetBlue will announce expansion plans to Europe with the A321, but it will not be the large markets (LHR, DUB, CDG) that many are predicting. The first Europe expansion will be secondary markets such as Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc.

  58. 1. Consolidation of the regional airlines. The big three buying shares and or the entire operation to maintain operational needs. ExpressJet will probably be the first.

    2. FAA reauthorization and rule changes that will change ATC and Pilot hour requirements.

  59. I always read these but haven’t made a prediction, this year I’ll give it a shot.

    My actual predictions:

    1. PIT will finally land the London service they have so badly wanted back since they lost it with the US Airways hub a decade ago.
    2. YUM will land a second airline. UA to DEN or DL to SLC.
    3. WN will try another codeshare again.

    Since it doesn’t count, my wishlist:

    1. The 797 will morph into the 757ng.
    2. United will bring back the tulip.
    3. QF will announce SYD-PHX on a 787.
    4. And somebody will finally make PIT a focus city/hub again.

  60. Delta modifies their order to take a total of 60 CS100 Made in Alabama, and convertes remaining order and options to taking 65 CS300, and doubles down by ordered 100 CS500 to start arriving in 2021-2 to replace the long in the tooth A320/A319 fleet, meanwhile adds another 30 A321 NEO LR to the order book including a subfleet 20 transcon flat bed equipped A321LR and 10 for Hawaii and northern south america service.

  61. Air New Zealand will add Auckland to Chicago as a further gateway to the East Coast after the success of the AKL-IAH route

  62. Always fun to make prognostications here…

    1. AS does just fine in VX markets, but the distraction of merger and using mainline planes to supplement QX means not more than 1 or 2 all-new cities, maybe among CLT, CLE, CMH, CVG, otherwise just connecting existing dots to California. Integration frustrations cost them JD Power, unless Delta keeps having Ice/IT/Fire meltdowns in ATL.

    2. In Hawai’i, either AS or UA try to come up with a more substantial inter-island operation (likely code) as a way to solidify their market against each other, WN, and HA’s new NEOs. If QX had had their poop together they would have bought some assets of Island Air and continued that service. QX has the right aircraft, but is still reeling from an operational meltdown, and UA has the size and regional support to take the risk.

    3. A US major establishes a new means to recruit pilots, possibly by buying a regional and issuing seniority numbers, establishing an academy like B6, or perhaps offering many-strings-attached scholarships. “Mechanic Shortage” becomes a common phrase. Smaller regionals become more valuable for their poachable labor than their actual operation.

    4. The most substantial accidents continue to be freighters, but nobody pays much attention and everyone congratulates themselves on a totally safe year regardless, although the accidents reveal major deficiencies in training or compliance that shouldn’t exist under the “one standard of safety”.

    5. The 797 will be a design evolution of the 787, with nothing particularly revolutionary. It’ll be the first “big” plane for more than one narrow-body operator. No decision is made on the A380. The C-Series gets a couple more orders, but nothing of the blue-chip variety. The C919 continues to look like it’s as well designed and built (and more comfortable than) its western counterparts, but outside of China everyone already has those counterparts on property and won’t switch. There is no compelling reason for the existence of the MRJ, yet it continues.

    And one for 2019 :) … PAE (Seattle/Everett) is a success, and the airlines there petition for expanded slots and gates.

  63. Right, here is my go from last year.
    1. Norwegian. It would be a mixed bag, they would slow down their TATL expansions in attempted to concentrate on their new Argentine operations. However, while their long-haul services to Europe do well, their short-haul flops against local rival Flybondi. Possible new services to the Spanish and Portuguese islands, e.g. Madeira or Gran Canaria from the US.
    2. Due to the success of the carrier LEVEL and other LHLCC like Norwegian, Scoot, and AirAsia X. One of the US3 may be secretly working on LHLCC themselves, possibly a Song or Ted revival?

  64. Thanks for another great year of posts, Cranky.

    1) I’ll stick to my prediction that there will be consolidation among regionals. Either SkyWest or Trans States continue to grow or the mainlines start acquiring regionals.

    2) The rapid expansion of long-haul ULCCs continues. Norwegian and Wow continue expansion into smaller markets. Investors pretend they’re anxious, but no leadership changes and the concepts continue. Level begins to flounder, but will survive through 2019. Joon announces service to North America. We’ll also see new entrants into the US.

    3) An old airline brand will rise from the dead under a half-baked concept. It will read like the best idea under the sun, but never materialize.

    4) United (finally) opens a handful of Polaris lounges that were promised for 2017, while announcing a new concept that further confuses passengers.

  65. Virgin Atlantic will join the existing SkyTeam transatlantic joint venture with KL/AF/AZ, but will not join SkyTeam.

  66. I predict that in 2018:
    1) Southwest will announce Hawaii routes.
    2) DIA will move ahead with a plan to add more gates.
    3) Boeing will keep talking about perhaps maybe someday possibly building a new MOM aircraft.

    I’m very confident about these predictions. :-)

  67. Okay, after doing very badly for 2017, I’ll try again:

    1) Hawaiian and JetBlue will announce codesharing, with JetBlue adding some flights to mainland Hawaiian destinations and moving service from LGB to LAX where possible, announcing a few new destinations from LGB to hold slots.

    2) JetBlue will also announce a new fleet strategy, converting some existing A320neo to A321LR. Initial destinations will be a mix of Latin American destinations the existing fleet can’t reach and two or three smaller UK cities (Birmingham, either Cardiff or Bristol, maybe one Iberian city.) They’ll also announce C-series order, initially for the West Coast but eventually to replace the E190, and cancel the existing E190 orders, taking a loss if necessary. Finally, they’ll kick the tires on a widebody (probably the A330), which will lead to much wild speculation but no firm order.

    3) A European airline will announce 1 or 2x/wk service to Belize City, allowing Europeans to visit Belize without having to transit the United States or go through San Salvador.

  68. 1. LUV charges bag fee. (2nd straight year)
    2. SAVE buys SY, leave F9 on the sideline.
    3. everyone backs off matching ULCCs due to high JetA prices.

  69. First time I use my crystal ball:

    1. If El Al announces a flight to San Francisco from Tel Aviv to compete on that route, then United will counter by announcing a Chicago route to Tel Aviv.
    2. Long Beach city council feels the heat of JetBlue & several cargo airlines pulling out of LGB for Ontario after rejecting the Federal Inspection Service and re-introduces a new vote to approve FIS under pressure by local businesses. NIMBYs are not happy. I’m thinking one or two new city council members will be elected.
    3. Cebu Pacific is sold to an another Airline Company. My guess is either China Airlines or Saudia.
    4. Delta announces a seasonal flight from Cincinnati to London Heathrow.
    5. LA city council tries to find additional funding for the Airport Metro Connector with Congestion fees from Downtown to Century City.

  70. 1. JetBlue announces TATL route(s) from BOS set to to start in late 2018 but doesn’t actually start until 2019.
    2. JetBlue and Delta flight attendants will unionize
    3. Major leadership changes at United and American

  71. 1. There will be a change of CEO’s at one of the major US Airlines.
    2. Venezuela’s economy improves and US Airlines resume/increase flights to Venezuela after finally getting their long overdue money and guarantees from the exchange of currency.
    3. A major storm or natural disaster will temporarily close a major International airport. It would take a few weeks to recover all passengers to their destinations as airlines cannot add additional flights after the closure due to lack of spare equipment and crews.

  72. 1. The TSA, faced with big delays and backups at screening stations and a manpower shortage, orders airlines to find ways to reduce the number of carry-ons that must be screened… prompting a possible rollback of baggage check fees.

    2. Amazon dips its toes into the travel business, developing a model to compete with Travelocity, Orbitz, etc., available to Prime members only.

    3. Airports pull back on plans to lengthen or upgrade runways that would accommodate the A-380, as its future becomes more uncertain.

    4. Southwest finally launches flights to Hawaii, but limited and lackluster service lead to unenthusiastic reviews.

    5. JetBlue enters into code share agreements with Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines.

    6. A U.S. ULCC will start looking for a merger or takeover partner.

    1. > 5. JetBlue enters into code share agreements with Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines.

      They already have one with Hawaiian?

  73. First year doing this so here goes nothing!

    1) B6 announces new 2019 routes to Europe using converted A321LR orders. There are rumors that UA DL or AA will take on A321LRs to go after transatlantic LCCs. Boeing rushes to introduce 797 in response, but at least 1 of the 3 will make a small order or conversion before Boeing can do so.

    2) Alitalia reemerges as the (5th? 7th? 12th!?) Alitalia but shrinks its operations. Meridiana tries to fill the gaps but acts too slowly in fear of moving too fast. Delta increases frequencies to Italy to compensate for the loss.

    3) Having familiarized most consumers with the ins and outs of basic economy, DL AA and UA rollout basic economy systemwide with no exceptions. It helps to boost metrics slightly, but still leaves the Big 3 struggling to compete with ULCC in certain markets.

  74. Happy New Year!

    Here are my 4:

    1. BA to announce returning TATL from the UK regions using the A321LR. Impacted by loss of transfer traffic at LHR due to growth by other airlines especially at Manchester.
    2. CX to learn their recent ‘too little, too late’ changes to their MPC programme has not worked. Management had originally anticipated there would be some bleeding caused by their original enhancements, yet it turned into a haemorrage of members, and the blood bank is empty!
    3. Transpac business class fares to be great value all year as Chinese carriers trash yields.
    4. The really bad one. FF programmes go for revenue based award structures.

  75. 1) CSeries tariffs remain, even for planes made in Alabama, resulting in Delta pulling out and buying an bunch of Embraers
    2) Boeing announces a MOM 797 with first flight/EIS waaaay in the future as a way to deflect some of A321’s recent wins
    3) JetBlue announces a 3rd aircraft type will enter the fleet, either going bigger, with a handful of cheap A330ceos to explore the transatlantic market or with CS100 to replace E190s (“proudly all Airbus”?)

  76. 1) Frontier will have inadequate aircraft/crews for its Spring schedule and will pare down the launch of the routes it announced back in Summer 2017.
    2) Great Lakes will continue to escape failure and will launch non-EAS service on the West Coast.
    3) At least one more A380 order will come to fruition, but no airlines order the 748i.

  77. 1. AA cancels a350 order.
    2. Airbus announces the end of the a380.
    3. At least one US regional folds this year.

  78. 1) Higher oil prices force airlines to drop routes
    2) United announces Premium Economy
    3) United, American, Delta expand basic economy fares to all Trans Atlantic routes as a reaction to the ULCC

  79. 1:Delta Eliminates SLC as a hub and Spirit jumps in to fill the void.
    2:Sun Country & Spirit announce a merger.
    3:Frontier Airlines finally goes public and announces a Caribbean route expansion.
    And.. 4:Alaska builds up a new hub in the mid western U.S.

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Cranky Flier