It’s been a lot of fun reading through predictions this year. It’s the first time in awhile we’ve started looking beyond COVID, at least a little. And this is no small feat since you wrote these predictions just as Omicron was rising.
This year, I’m just going to comment on the predictions that came true. If you took the opposite position on one of these, well, then your comment will appear there as well. But if you were on your own with an incorrect prediction, no need to shine a spotlight. You can find yourself in the Graveyard at the bottom.
Remember to leave your predictions for 2023 in the comments. I’m amazed at how many of you don’t follow these instructions, but I’ll say it again anyway. I will only consider the first prediction you make when I evaluate guesses next year. Anything after the first will be ignored in the review.
Boeing and Its Certification Issues
- Justin – Boeing experiences more issues getting 787’s delivered and some airlines cancel orders as a result. Other airlines sweep in to take the already-produced planes at bargain prices.
- emac – Boeing will announce no new commercial products in 2022 (no Max derivatives, additional 777 or 787 derivatives — OK, maybe a 777X freighter — no NMA), instead keeps shrinking into irrelevance. The interesting question I think is whether they go back to EMB for help with engineering and 100 seaters, but given their hubris I think that’s a long shot.
- Jonathan – Boeing continues to have a terrible year, with the 787 delivery crisis lasting even longer than thought. Eventually some sort of leadership/organization restructuring takes place. One thing for sure: they have a new CEO by the end of the year. One from the outside, and without any GE ties as well.
- GS – Boeing – certification issues continue to plague the company due to continued scrutiny from the FAA
- Pilotaaron1 – Boeing will introduce the NMA/797. It will be similar to the 757 in that it will be single-isle, operate from hot/high, and be optimized for long and thin routes with a higher payload than the A321-XLR.
Congrats to GS for being the most correct. Justin and emac get a second place finish. Yes indeed, Boeing’s 787 issues went longer than expected and the MAX 7/10 certification is a downright train wreck. But airlines aren’t canceling, because where would they go? Boeing hasn’t announced any new airplanes this year, but its CEO is still in charge.
The American/JetBlue NEA
- ChuckMO – I predict the AA/B6 NEA will ultimately be okayed, with some additional conditions imposed.
- Brian – I predict the AA/B6 NEA will still be in court a year from now, with the agreement plugging along unaffected.
- SEAN – The success of the NEA will cause AA to attempt a similar scheme on the west coast with AS. This will cause AA to begin flowing passengers via SEA or PDX rather than LAX for service across the pacific. This will allow for the growth of SEA as well as PDX as viable competition for DL in SEA.
- DesertGhost – I feel bold enough to predict a settlement in the anti trust lawsuit trying to block the NEA. The big winner will be Spirit. Since this whole thing is about the government’s false narrative that ULCCs are charities, and automatically lower fares substantially (however one wants to define that term).
- John – Knowing DOJ will stiff-arm a desired merger with JetBlue (too many carve-outs), AA announces more DOJ-friendly merger with Alaska.
- Keith – AA/B6 NEA gets approval by regulators though in exchange for additional commitments of maintaining service at specific airports (particularly smaller regional northeast airports), additional slot divesture at LGA and withdrawal/disqualification of obtaining the 16 peak period EWR slots (NK being the winner here at both airports).
Barring a late 2022 surprise, we still won’t know the answer here. Will it be shot down? Only the judge knows. This means Brian was completely right. For everyone else, we’ll see, but nothing was announced with Alaska. That much we know.
- Yo – Whatever Alitalia calls itself these days will continue to suck, but they will get bailed out by the Italian government.
- MK03 – ITA will remain the Worst Airline Ever for 2022.
- Simon – ITA will rebrand.
- Brian G – I predict that ITA will rebrand into “Alitalia”.
MK03 is correct, but that’s easy because. like the queen, this is a role you inherit for life. And ITA/Alitalia will never die. No rebranding though. And I just assume a bailout is always in progress at all times.
Pilots and the Regionals
- Dan – We’re going to continue to see a shortage of pilots willing to work for the wages regional airlines are willing to pay. Therefore, more flying will shift to mainline and smaller cities will continue to lose their branded network carrier service. This will either create an opportunity for innovation or more federal funding to subsidize small city service.
- Brycen – Majors will be forced to drastically shrink the regionals forcing the smallest ones under or they will collude to squeeze an LCC under.
There were far fewer comments about a pilot shortage than I imagine we’ll see this year. We just didn’t quite know how bad it would be, but Dan is right. It was quite the roller coaster.
- Hammer – Due to the presence of Omicron or another Covid variant, transatlantic demand will be softer than expected this upcoming summer. As a result, some airlines will not operate all of the routes that they announced for the summer 2022 season.
- stogieguy7 – Omicron will result in a ton of cancelations and pullbacks in the first quarter of 2022. However, as this variant is generally mild (like a cold for those who are even symptomatic), the public backlash to these various government limitations will grow. Masks may still be required through 2022, but we’ll gradually see borders open up and travel grow significantly as the world realizes that COVID is here to stay and we have to live with it. Thus, trans-Pacific will start up again and Australia-US routes will grow. QF will even do Brisbane-LAX. New Zealand remains skittish and Air NZ suffers as a result.
- Jim M – Omicron will create a wave of negative publicity in Q1 2022 as airlines are pushing big schedules with little staffing, and sick outs will be a PR nightmare as grandma gets stranded in ORD for the night. Since its an election year expect congressional hearing with . . . wait for it. . . absolutely no action. But expect a healthy amount of airline dragging in the media.
- Eric – if COVID continues to mutate rapidly then Cranky will revive the beloved ‘Skeds’ posts to track the industries schizophrenic near & medium term skd adjustments based on whatever direction the wind is blowing that week.
- southbayflier – The second half of 2022 will finally bring some normalcy to the airline industry after everyone has been infected with the Omicron variant. Business travel will finally start to come back, though not quite to 2019 levels.
Of course there was still talk about COVID. It was a much bigger deal last December than right now. Stogieguy7 got pretty close, though New Zealand is nice and open now. And masking did not remain required through the end of the year. Southbayflier was right as well as things started to get back toward normal, with business travel lagging. But sorry, Eric, no Skeds returning from me. You can always subscribe to Cranky Network Basics to get that info.
AAustin Focus City
- Jerry – AA’s burgeoning AUS “focus city” gets killed off due to poor loads, but AA still goes forward with the new Admirals Club.
- Ian L – OW+ carriers (AA+AS+B6+BA) will exceed WN for pax share in AUS 3+ months out of 2022 (though not the entire year), though AA alone will never exceed WN’s pax share. AA will ask for, and get, a NEA-ish JV with AS, at which point one of the two will exit the bloodbath that is AUS-LAX. AA will not draw down the focus city, though destinations/frequencies/fleet/codeshare mix will get tweaked. In fact, due to intense competition on fares to fill planes, NK and F9 will each carry fewer pax out of AUS in 2022 (let’s say first 9-10 months YoY since AUS is slow in releasing traffic numbers) than they did in 2021, though AA+NK+F9 will have more pax share YoY every single month.
- Tejas – AA/WN/G4 continues to grow in AUS.
All this talk about Austin. The reality is that American seems pretty happy and is pushing ahead. Ian missed on that one since it doesn’t look like anyone knockced Southwest off its perch in passenger share, according to reports from the airport. But Ian was right that Frontier and Spirit were lower in 2022… and Alaska got out of Austin – LA.
- Johosofat – ExpressJet will close aha!
- b – Aha! will be on next year’s list of airlines we lost
- dc flyer – ExpressJet’s attempt at remaking Independence Air will go under faster than Independence Air did in the 2000s
- ekozie – Between Breeze, Avelo, and aha!, only one of the three will survive 2022. I’m leaning toward Breeze.
- Ken W – Aha! shuts down and Express Jet finally sends all its EMB 140-45 to the desert and someone buys their certificate to start flying EAS routes.
Yes, yes, aha! is gone. Congrats to Johosofat, Andrew Armstrong, and dc flyer. Ken W you were on the right path, but nobody has picked up that certificate. And sorry, ekozie, Avelo and Breeze are still going, so you get half credit.
- Douglas Swalen – I will again predict an award travel devaluation by multiple carriers – International or Domestic this time – due to the glut of miles piling up. Basic math tells us it has to happen. The only question is when.
- Zhuo Andrew – The industry loves the simplicity and revenue driven approach of the new American Airlines AAdvantage policy in elite qualifying. At least one legacy carrier in the US follows suit.
So it’s funny… I don’t really know about these and I don’t really care. Award travel is most definitely not my thing. But I’m sure somebody had a devaluation, so I’m guessing you are right, Douglas Swalen. And Zhuo Andrew, well, I don’t think anyone followed, but maybe someone can chime in on that.
- Patrick – Norwegian manages to avoid another bankruptcy filing in 2022, but has to further scale back their operations. Wizz Air might try to buy them, but the offer will be rejected.
I just had to address this, because yes, Patrick is right. But Norwegian has focused on its original strengths, and it actually did post a pre-tax profit this summer. It’s amazing what happens when you stick to what you’re good at, eh Norwegian?
- LostLUV – SWA— Mike Van de Ven will retire (be fired) towards the end of 2022 for continued management over multiple meltdowns and ruining SWA operational performance and reputation.
Winner, winner! Indeed, Mike Van de Ven is gone, though nobody at that level ever gets fired. Andrew Watterson takes over as COO and CEO Bob Jordan takes the President role back.
- Austin787 – Another US based airline places a new aircraft order, taking advantage of favorable deals to address its long term aircraft needs.
Well, I guess if you count that tiny order (including options) for 200 787s and 100 737 MAXs, then that recent United order proves you right, Austin 787.
JetBlue in Europe
- Joe A – Jetblue secures permanent LHR slots.
- CraigTPA – JetBlue will announce at least one, possibly two, new UK destinations – some combination of Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, or Bristol (but not Cardiff and Bristol, they’re too close together.)
Joe A, you got it. Permanent slots are theirs. But there are no other UK destinations on the horizon CraigTPA.
The World’s Largest Airline
- Tory – United will be the country’s and the world’s largest carrier by the end of 2022 measured by scheduled ASMs going forward (not necessarily during calendar 2022), mainly on the basis of its restored international service, while AA and DL will struggle to restore their international service to the same extent.
This is hard to say because schedules aren’t final. But United does pull ahead of American in March and April if it all holds.
Virgin Australia Long-Haul
- Jeremyfly – Virgin Australia will not order widebody aircraft to relaunch longhaul flights and will stick to 737s only
I love this one, because it’s correct that Virgin Australia did not order widebodies… but it is going back into long-haul, using the MAX to fly Cairns to Tokyo, a route nearly identical in length to JFK – Paris. Still, I call this a win, Jeremyfly.
- Noah Shurz – Frontier will grow their ASMs to be at least 105% 2019 levels, through increased Orlando flying to the Carribean.
Yup, yup, yup Noah. Frontier’s growth train keeps on chugging and it passed that threshold. Orlando flying to the Caribbean did increase, but so did a whole lot of other things.
The Graveyard of Failed Predictions
- Hayden – AS BOI focus city continues to explode
- Outer Space Guy – Commercial airliners will install a new radio based device that will emit a signal which “deadens” any drones in the vicinity. This device will be enabled for takeoff and landing. Drone manufacturers will be mandated to include a chip which makes their drones basically go-dead/fall-from-the-sky if the drone receives a signal emitted from a nearby aircraft.
- Aliquot – AS will return to YYZ.
- MIAZiggy – MIA will add another 1/2 mile to it’s already 1 mile long Concourse D just to piss off everybody.
- FC – Under pressure from various airlines, Airbus launches A220-500 in late 2022 despite initial reluctance to do so
- Mike K – Airbus launches A220-500 and Delta orders 100+
- Jonas – Due to exploding demand on the TATL market – everybody and their mother will want to fly either way during the summer – airlines will put some “unfit” planes onto routes between North America and Europe (think A319s with stop(s) in Shannon/Reykjavik/Halifax/St. John’s/Gander/Ponta Delgada) to make every cent possible.
- Dan Hood – STL has another good year: AA will continue to grow their STL operation into something that resembles a focus city. NK will add destinations as well (LGA/EWR?). Someone (probably WN) will start STL-ORF and/or STL-RIC service. Everyone will continue ganging up on F9, and their LFs will continue to suck, but they won’t leave. No new airlines will begin serving STL, save for Lufthansa.
- MarylandDavid – With new leadership, Southwest will officially announce plans to diversify their aircraft mix starting with the 737-900.
- McMicah – Allegiant continues its success in the leisure market, far outpacing the margins of all other legacy carriers and shifts its strategy to continue focusing on growth in larger, more business-heavy markets.
- ktenorman – My prediction is that in Winter 2022-2023 AA will start sub-Saharan Africa service from MIA with aircraft that would otherwise be unused in the winter season.
- Ian K – One or more regionals will go under. Most likely GoJet or Commuttair.
- Chicago Chris – PLAY overextends itself and folds. While Norse Atlantic continues a rapid expansion.
- PF – Breeze adds SLC to please the local HDQ employees.
- Brett – Hub Prediction: Delta’s old focus cities (AUS, CVG, RDU, etc) will become their new A220 bases of operation once they fill in the routes of Delta Hub to competitor Hub.
- MRY-SMF – Another low-cost airline starts on the business model of funneling people into a mid-sized airport a la aha! and Avelo because every airport deserves its own airline!
- Jim Kingdon – A large airline somewhere in the world will face a crisis (bankruptcy, forced merger, or something of similar scale) as demand fluctuates and governments slowly lose interest in bailouts.
- Foxpresso – Northern Pacific and Alaska Airlines merge, leading to AS to have transpacific flights from Anchorage
- Mar – Avelo will be sued for copyright infringement from Apple, Target, Tesla, New Line Cinema for Elf, or all of the above
- DubboMax – Airbus will launch the A220-500 at the end of the year, effectively killing the A319neo. SIA will launch joint venture with United.
- Kevin – Carriers leave Green Bay (GRB) and consolidate operations at Appleton (ATW).
- David C – UA at Denver breaks through 750 daily departures at Denver
- Shashank – UA will try to fly to HOU and MDW but will eventually fail
- Bill from DC – CLE finally pulls the trigger on a $1B plus brand new airport thus ending decades of partially renovating and piecing together a handful of ancient concourses. Rental cars will be moved back on site ending the ridiculous current consolidated setup located approximately 23.6 miles away from the terminal.
- Bixby Knolls Padres – Huge demand for Private jet services will prompt the FAA to limit take off and landing slots with a ceiling to prevent congested skies in most metropolitan markets.
- redlegsfan21 – There will be a new cargo airline startup trying to take advantage of cheap airplanes and a backlogged transpacific cargo market
- Chris – The EU will refuse the Portuguese government’s request to bail out TAP Air Portugal and TAP seek a seller in the private sector for a fire sale.
- VictorKilo – The next major labor shortage in the airline industry will be Flight Attendants, especially lower paid ones for regional airlines. The continuing abuse by passengers and their role in enforcing masks on airplanes, plus the strong labor market, cause so many to leave the field that it becomes a problem for airlines during 2022.
- Greengsg9 – American will announce they will retire their B777’s before the end of the decade
- SEA SFO – Delta continues to double down on loss-making equity investments and further lags behind UA and AA internationally by continuing to reduce flying on its own metal. The press release reads “Delta, America’s Global Airline, Expands on Worlds’ Largest Long Haul Network by ASMs* to Give Customers More Options*** than Ever Before”
- ejwpj – MH370 will be found
- dfw88 – AA continues to expand its relationship with QR and announces more flights to the Middle East and India (BOM comes to mind, maybe an extra DEL from DFW). Their marketing department starts drumming up hype about being the largest US airline to the Middle East and India, even though most of the lift is on QR codeshares.
- Randolf – Avelo and northern pacific will not make 2023
- Ishrion – DFW Airport secures a new route to Europe (specifically Barcelona, Munich, Manchester, Zurich, or Stockholm), or Delhi, India.
- Dave – Cathay Pacific ceases operations. China Southern takes over Hong Kong.
- Cody c – The asiana-korean air merger is approved by the US, but at the cost of the korean air/delta jv being dissolved.
Tomb of the Unknown
- Davey – All of the major legacy carriers plus Alaska, Jet Blue and Southwest will report full-year profits for 2022.
Full year numbers aren’t reported until in the new year, but I hear you Davey. Feel free to come back once the numbers are out.
- Alex Hill – I personally will get on an airplane for the first time since 2019, but my travel will remain way below what it was, especially business travel limited to one trip all year.
Well, Alex. I can’t answer this one. Did you?
Remember, leave one and only one prediction in the comments below for what 2023 will bring.