The year is almost done, and that means it’s time to go back and see how you did on your 2019 predictions. Some were right on, some were not, and some were truly ridiculous. (I’m talking to you, phllax.)
Limiting my review to only the first prediction from each commenter made this process much more manageable this year. So when you leave your 2020 predictions in the comments, remember that only the first one that you leave will take center stage next year when I write this post again.
Now, let’s get on with it. Here’s how you did in 2019.
WOW Goes Away
- Michael – WOW will make an appearance in your airline graveyard post in 2019 while Norwegian still manages to stay alive
- Andy – After finalizing their investment in WOW, Indigo Partners adds WOW to their
- Yo – Wow, gone
Michael and Yo got this one right. That last second effort by Indigo to save the airline failed. Surprise, surprise.
Indigo’s Global Plans Have Not Appeared
- Chicago Chris – Indigo links all of its airlines to create a worldwide ULCC alliance
- Frontier/Volaris codesharing arrangement. Chicago becomes the center of this, thanks to Frontier’s focus city at ORD.
- Frontier – Frontier still doesn’t go for an IPO. At this point, the boat has probably sailed for this economic cycle.
Sticking with the Indigo them here, nothing really happened in the way of uniting all the company’s low cost carriers. The Frontier/Volaris codeshare exists, but it doesn’t seem to have done much. Also, Frontier still hasn’t IPO’d, so good work there.
JetBlue, the Atlantic, and More
- Jake – B6 will finally start trans-atlantic flights, starting from BOS and eventually JFK
- Mike – JetBlue announces transatlantic flights, but with a start date well into 2020.
- Anthony – Jet Blue will do something about its West Coast problem… code sharing and frequent-flier reciprocity with Alaska seems like the natural way to go.
- Arinz – Jetblue will add service from Boston to Indianapolis
- MikeK – Jetblue has an identity crisis after years of positioning itself as an inexpensive legacy-style carrier with nice perks and repositions itself as either a LCC or more premium offering.
- jarvis – JetBlue looks to spread their west coast outside of LGB with some slot swapping with an airline at ONT. If it’s with Southwest, this move will benefit then both as it would help jetblue launch west coast routes from ONT
- Keith – B6 announces LGB closure by year’s end as over time this year it announces more enhancements to LAX and ONT with more service. HA pulls out due to B6 leaving. WN announces its considering open LGB slots but remains hesitant to expand. LGB city council where it went wrong. BUR gets weekend Mint service.
- CraigTPA – JetBlue and Alaska begin merger talks, as AS reconsiders its relationship with AA.
- Greg – JetBlue does announce first European destination, with service to start in 2020
- SEAN – B6 pulls it’s flights out of LGB in a nasty divorce of sorts & the city council just wonders – what happened. WN picks up the slots to fly beyond short hall locations like LAS & OAK.
A ton of you decided to make your prediction about JetBlue, and some of you were right-ish. Mike and Greg were closest with the European announcement, but service begins in 2021, not 2020. Everything else? Didn’t happen. JetBlue is still in Long Beach and still doesn’t have a real west coast strategy.
- flying.high.or.high.flying – AA sinks into further trouble. Southwest benefits. 2020 merger talks
- Mike M – In 2019, American will get tired of being pushed around by United. They’ll “subsidize” less profitable flying with lower oil prices and try to take back share they’ve ceded since Kirby signed with United as a free agent, even it it means tossing the capacity plan they’ve given to Wall Street and sparking a (cue dramatic music) price war.
- MeanMeosh – Wall Street finally forces Doug Parker into exile after AA reports more subpar financial results through 2Q 19.
- CP – AA suffers from a Dr. Dao-type customer service incident. Parker goes as a result, because the board is looking for an excuse to can him.
- Austin787 – AA continues to underperform and finally fires Doug Parker, or encourages him to resign.
American’s future was also top of mind for many of you, but none of these predictions came true. In the end, American had a bad year of underperformance, but there weren’t any big changes made at the top. The operation appears to be getting back in order, but that’s been done quietly.
Southwest to Hawai’i
- southbayflier – Southwest will finally start flying to Hawaii. However, they will not be as successful as they originally thought they would be. While the routes out of Oakland will be a smashing success, they will not be as successful on any other routes. Southwest will struggle on the interisland routes due to competition from Hawaiian and the locals will support Hawaiian over the intruder in Southwest.
- Jmcm – Southwest will get it right and Hawaii will be a major success (9/10 shot of coming true)
- PF – The first Southwest revenue passenger flight to Hawaii is on Valentines day.
How many years have people been guessing Southwest would begin flights to Hawai’i? This year it finally happened. Whether it’s truly a major success or not remains to be seen, but the airline seems happy so far.
Delta and The End of Narita
- Mark – Delta will cut the most of the remaining non-hub flights (SIN, MNL, PDX) from NRT. HNL will likely remain. Cue map with Godzilla
- MK03 – Delta will probably finally start dismantling what remains of their Narita “hub”; Manila and Singapore either go bye-bye or get non-stop flights from somewhere.
MK03 is the winner here. Narita is gone completely with Manila service moving to Incheon and Singapore service disappearing.
Frequent Flier Programs Change
- jeffcapp – My 2019 prediction. Airlines will change frequent flyer programs to be mainly or even entirely dollar based and not miles based thus giving them better tie into credit cards (spend on CC).
- derek – One major US airline will begin giving fewer frequent flyer miles for basic economy fares. Another enhancement to Basic Economy!
A very good guess here by jeffcapp. United changed its elite earning to be almost entirely dollar-based and redemption has begun fluctuating more and more. As for Derek, well, since mileage earning is largely based on fare, Basic Economy does earn less now.
- Jason H – Alaska will join OneWorld as an affiliate member
You were much quieter on Alaska this year than in previous years, but this one didn’t pan out. Not only did Alaska not join oneworld, but it further distanced itself from American.
Regional or LCC Consolidation
- DesertGhost – I’ll go with predicting that there will be further regional airline consolidation in the U.S in 2019.
- Broken Clock – WN and B6 attempt a merger but DOJ and Pilots unions prevent it, but it makes everyone else nervous and rumors fly of ULCC mergers (F9+NK) and AS ends up with HA.
None of this happened. After United took ExpressJet last year, nothing has happened to further consolidate the regionals, and the low cost carriers remain where they were.
California Pacific Dies
- Bill Hough – California Pacific bites the dust in 2019.
- David M – California Pacific will manage to resume flying the CLD operation. However, Pierre and Watertown successfully get the EAS bid reopened and it goes to another airline and California Pacific stops flying.
This was probably the safest bet of the year. The airline didn’t even make it through January.
United’s Basic Economy
- Kilroy – Bowing to competitive pressure from DL and AA, United begins allowing free rollerboard bags on most domestic basic economy tickets.
Not a bad guess here, but it didn’t happen. United still blocks carry-ons unlike its primary competitors.
- Ted – NK’s on time % stays high, cost stays low.
- Ben – NK will purchase a significant number of A220
Unfortunately, neither one of these happened. Spirit tried to grind out more utilization and that led to a bad summer performance. But it has fixed things, or so it seems. And it did place an order, but only for bigger A320-series aircraft.
- FlyByNight – Amazon, which already plans to triple the size of its freighter fleet, will announce, or leak, that it is toying with the idea of some sort of passenger service.
This didn’t happen, but I’ll award partial credit since Amazon has now contracted with a passenger airline (Sun Country) to fly cargo.
Economic and Political Troubles
- Richard – My prediction is a year of consolidation. oil will creep up and the economy won’t, putting some carriers in trouble. Norwegian into BA, Flybe will be picked up by Virgin in response but not for any particularly overwhelming business reason. 2 sizeable mergers in the US, and DL/UA/AA will continue to extend their reach into the regionals. 1 large chinese carrier will merge and Etihad will inch closer to Emirates.
- A – Softness in the economy will result in declining load factors for the airlines and negative earnings by Q3 or sooner. By end of year aircraft will be parked in the desert and delivery of new aircraft will be delayed by at least 2 legacy US airlines.
- Jim – I predict that oil prices will crash as the economy goes down due to the US-China trade war, Brexit, and unrest in the middle east. This will enable some airlines to make record profits. However, toward the latter part of the year, demand will start to soften.
- Mark Skinner – The US China trade war will see less Boeing sales in Asia, and more in the US as patriotism and politics kick in on both sides.
We had a couple of broader economic predictions this year. Oil really wasn’t a big story this year as it didn’t do anything crazy. Mergers weren’t a huge story either, though Virgin Atlantic did pick up Flybe and there is that IAG/Air Europa acquisition brewing. The US economy has held up despite warning signs of a recession. Globally it wasn’t as strong. But I give A extra credit for being lucky. There sure are a bunch of planes parked in the desert, just not for the reasons predicted! As for Boeing sales, well, they’ve had a bad year all around. China isn’t helping.
- BNZ – Norwegian into IAG by mid year. Just digging into last numbers reported… I don’t know how could they manage one winter season more…
- USBusinessTraveller – Norwegian either goes bust or gets acquired.
- billyshearer – Norwegian will fail in 2019.
Despite conventional wisdom, Norwegian survived. In fact, it looks like it’s on the road to sustainability unless it runs out of money first. At least it’s on the right path.
BA’s Club World
- Simon – BA’s “new” Club World seat turns out to be a near identical copy of Iberia’s.
I’d say BA’s new business class seat exceeded many expectations. It looks like a winner with a great new seat and a door, making it a big upgrade over what Iberia has.
China Southern oneworld
- Zhuo – China Southern announces entrance into OneWorld while CX feels being squeezed
- Doug Swalen – Qatar leaves Oneworld and China Southern joins.
Neither of these predictions came true. China Southern seems focused on just becoming the biggest airline in the world with or without help. Qatar, well, it’s focused on bluster as always.
- Other Steve – EAS finally dies. Most of the routes operated by mainline reigonals survive, but the rest don’t do so well, and at least one carrier folds as a result (RIP Great Lakes)
No way was Congress going to hurt its chances of getting re-elected by cutting out small city air service.
No Mesa Love
- OuterSpaceGuy – Phoenix’s Mesa-Gateway airport will get more airlines serving it as at least one of the majors (but not American) realizes that only serving one airport for all-of-America’s-5th-largest-city is nuts.
No luck here. It’s still an Allegiant airport with just a couple of Canucks sprinkled in.
Charlotte and SkyTeam
- Mathew F. – Skyteam will announce a transatlantic flight to CLT, likely AMS on either Delta or KLM. Charlotte has a decent size Dutch business community. AA eventually will shift AMS flight from PHL to match.
Didn’t happen. KLM went into Austin but Charlotte didn’t get any SkyTeam action.
- MDKLEIN – The Dallas Love Field (DAL) lawsuit finally comes to resolution
This was a quiet year in the ongoing Love Field battle, from what I remember. The fun continues.
Boeing Doesn’t Do It
- Ken – Boeing will announce the new MOM 797 at the Paris Airshow in 2019.
- Pilotaaron1 – Boeing will formally announce the MOM plane.
Remember at the beginning of the year when Boeing’s biggest problem seemed to be whether or not to launch the middle-of-the-market airplane? Ah, the good old days. That airplane still hasn’t been launched and its future remains in doubt. Meanwhile, the 737 MAX gets most of the focus as it sits on the ground, waiting to fly again.
- Yosef – An Argentinean airline fails, probably a low cost one
Wrong. TWO of them failed. Heh. Avianca Argentina truly failed earlier this year, and Norwegian sold its failing operation to JetSMART. So I’ll call that a failure, though it probably helps to strengthen JetSMART in the process. Good guess on this one.
Delta Focuses Austin
- Ian L – DL will make AUS a focus city once they have enough A220s to spill over from invading AA/UA hubs. This will take AUS off the table for Moxy.
Another winner… partially. Austin is now a Delta focus city, but it isn’t thanks to the A220s. And something tells me Moxy may still be interested.
- Nick – The BIG Flight Attendant 2 day customer service training session will be as big of a flop as the historic route announcements.
Is this United? Best I can tell, the United Backstage program has been a huge success. But then again, I’m not sure if that’s what we’re talking about here.
United at Dulles
- Eric – UA continues to build up IAD, to include added frequency/new regional service to at least three destinations. Mainline sees added frequency/upgauging on at least two transcons. One international nonstop added. Passenger volume increases as well.
Good work, Eric. United announced it would add service to Akron/Canton, West Palm Beach, Philly, Hilton Head, Bangor, and Madison. It’s also making Traverse City daily instead of weekly. Not sure about upgauging on transcons, but Haneda was added as a new international destination. (Of course, Narita was killed, so that may not count.)
- Seanny – Paine Field (Everett) will exceed expectations for AS and UA, in terms of passenger demand.
Not sure what their expectations were, but the flights are still operating even if Alaska has shuffled routes a lot.
- Timmy – We will see more airlines swap or sell off their JFK slots.
I don’t recall seeing that happen at all.
The New Istanbul
- Jonas – The New Istanbul Airport will have a similar fate as BER. It will remain a newly built ruin with little or no traffic and lots of political finger-pointing.
Nope. Everything moved over and the new airport is operating well despite long walks between gates.
Buying Virgin Australia
- Douglas – One of the co-owners of Virgin Australia, likely Ethiad, will want out. Delta will do like they did with Virgin Atlantic and buy into VA.
Nothing happened here. If anything was going to change, it was more likely that struggling HNA would sell its stake, but they’re all still there.
- Cody C – Ongoing problems at Avianca Brasil result in Azul buying Avianca Brasil. In return, Azul enters into a strategic partnership with the other Avianca airlines
Avianca only wishes that happened. Instead, Avianca Brasil is gone, as is Argentina.
Virgin Atlantic to Australia
- Adeej_in_nz – VS will start flying LHR-PER non-stop after QF has been successful on that route.
Virgin Atlantic has not dipped its toes back into Australia.
TAP to Portland
- GS in PDX – TAP will begin non-stop flights from Portland, OR to Lisbon.
If you had said British Airways to London, then that would have been right! But TAP appears to have slowed down its US expansion.
- DaninMCI – Demand for AMEX platinum cards for Centurion lounge access will skyrocket while lounge based airline cards will crash due to boarding pass requirements kicking in. This will also require AMEX lounge expansion announcements.
Dunno, did this happen? That’s not an area I really pay attention to.
Long Live Italy
- Jeb – Alitalia continues to live, bleed money, and live on government subsidies. Air Italy will do the same, but with Qatari subsidies instead.
- Chris – Air Italy not being accepted into OneWorld forces Qatar to finally terminate its OneWorld membership.
- RICARDO – After joining forces with Air France/KLM , Alilatia will become a profitable airline, delivering excellent service and will be elected best airline in the world.
- Jim P. – Alitalia will continue with the support of the Italian government.
Wouldn’t that have been hilarious if Ricardo got that right? But of course, he didn’t. Alitalia couldn’t be reorganized in time, so the government pumped in another 400 million euros to keep it afloat while it tries again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Oh, and Air Italy is still getting that sweet Qatari money.
No, Just No
- phllax – The Cleveland Browns will have a winning season!
I appreciate the hopefulness, but nope, it wasn’t to be. The Browns looked much better early on, but then the team basically just gave up. In typical Browns fashion, the season ended in disappointment and apathy. Better luck next year!
Will the MAX fly again in 2020? Will mergers occur? Will we go into a global recession? We’ll find out next year. Get those 2020 predictions in the comments.