Reviewing Your 2022 Predictions and Making Your 2023 Picks

Miscellaneous

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.

ITA/Alitalia

  • 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.

COVID

  • 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.

aha!

  • 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.

Award Travel

  • 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.

Norwegian

  • 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?

Southwest Leadership

  • 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.

Aircraft Orders

  • 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.

Frontier Grows

  • 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.

112 comments on “Reviewing Your 2022 Predictions and Making Your 2023 Picks

  1. This is fun – as it has been every year. Thanks Brett!

    My prediction for 2023:
    Airbus will announce/launch a new aircraft variant and wreak even more havoc on their numerology – I am just not sure which one: A220-500, A322/A325 (longer 321), A330-1000 (longer -900), or A350-1100 (or -2000?) (longer -1000).

  2. I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict some leadership changes at Southwest. Holy crap what a mess.

    1. Some heads are going to have to roll. Or they take the easy route and announce a multi-billion dollar project to bring their systems into the 21st century.

      I’m also predicting DOT is going to make them issue refunds to anyone and everyone.

      1. Gary Kelly will no longer be chairman of the board as it comes to light of his gutting the SWA operation and employee moral. His legacy will be the man that destroyed Herb’s airline.

  3. In 2023 the PANYNJ will announce new terminal construction at both Newark & JFK.

    At EWR, a replacement for terminal B & at JFK a replacement for terminal 7. In addition, expansions to terminals 1 & 4 will be under way for much needed gate capacity.

  4. I predict that if the B6 purchase of NK is finalized in the first half of ’23, the current combined route map will look very different by Dex 31, 2023. At least on the NK side of things.

  5. To Bill From DC: I fly LAX to ERIE, PA (will only go nonstop) via CLE or BUF. That shuttle bus ride to rental cars in CLE is no joke. BUF you just walk across the street.

    1. I’m going to double down (with some rewording) on last year’s prediction of…

      CLE finally pulls the trigger on a $1B plus mostly brand new airport thus ending decades of partially renovating and piecing together a collection of mostly 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.

  6. The DOT does not issue any penalties for the Southwest meltdown (currently) occurring over Christmas 2022 and Southwest will have at least 1 non-weather mass cancellation event in 2023 as their out of date internal systems continue to fail.

  7. Russian Airspace Restrictions will doom Northern Pacific’s business model of running its own 757s to Asia, and Alaska Airlines will prevent NP from having any sort of substantial operation out of Anchorage. They may not make it to year’s end.

  8. In 2023 more nonstop routes from the US to China will be restarted, however a vast majority of those routes will be on Chinese airlines as US airlines realize that adding capacity to China isn’t as profitable as adding capacity to other parts of the world.

  9. There will not be full regulation but the government will step in with some kind of program to help travelers (like EU 261) after the major southwest meltdown.

    1. I highly doubt this is going to happen. This government is going to be completely paralyzed for the next two years with no one having enough votes to do anything.

      We will spend these next two years with the Republicans investigating the Democrats and the Democrats investigating the Republicans. Hope y’all enjoy useless congressional hearings.

  10. Porter will throttle back trans-continental Canadian expansion a little as the Canadian LCCs launch a polite, maple syrup-scented, but somewhat brutal fare war to see who (if anyone) survives, but speed up expansion to the US including deeper cooperation with JetBlue, adding at least JFK* and FLL.

    (* – not sure if the JFK service from Toronto will be from Billy Island Sensible Raccoon City Bishop Airport or from Pearson Feral Trash Panda.)

    Can’t predict any further Porter/JetBlue linkups south of the border until the B6/NK fallout finishes falling out.

  11. As China reopens, UA will make a massive push back into the country to cover the pent-up demand of Chinese nationals living in the US going back to see family and Chinese tourists visiting the US, even as most Americans still avoid visiting China. UA will restore the majority of its pre-pandemic routes to China and add at least one new market, potentially IAD-PVG, which will require cutting some transatlantic capacity. AA and DL will be much slower to reenter the Chinese market.

    1. China is not & will not reopen to the west as long as Coronavirus runs unchecked throughout the country. On December 7th the CCP in a strange reversal ended the zero covid policy without warning & suddenly the virus is running unchecked. This is according to two YouTube channels… “China insights” & Business Basics.”

      Of course take everything with a dose of MSG when it comes to news coming out of China.

  12. I think Jim Kingdon got his prediction right with SAS’s bankruptcy.

    As for my prediction, UA will reveal that 3/4ths of its 737 MAX order will be for the MAX 7 and MAX 10 (split about 1/3rds and 2/3rds). Retirement of their A319s and 757s will be announced to begin in Q4 of 2014.

  13. Continuing my focus on AUS, making sure to go with predictions that can have a thumbs-up/thumbs-down in December (so I can’t predict full-year traffic numbers):

    An airline will announce new regular TATL or TPAC service (so, not a SXSW one-off) from AUS, though flights may not start until 2024. WN and AA will continue to duke it out, with AA+AS+B6+BA carrying more passengers than WN at least one month (likely including December ’22) but AA alone never exceeding WN’s numbers. G4+F9+NK+B6 will carry more passengers year-over-year Jan-Oct (hedging my B6+NK bets on this one), but will grow slower than the market overall as WN and AA add points on the map, frequencies, and gauge. DL will continue pretending AUS is a focus city but won’t add any destinations on its own metal, though it’ll fly more passengers on bigger planes with more flights per day.

    Let’s see how much of the above counts as one prediction :)

    Seriously though, AUS growth this year was bonkers. It’s interesting watching the AA/WN battle suck the air out of the room for ULCCs, as AA has more flights to DEN than F9 does (probably equal on seats though). AUS would actually be a decent market for a combined B6+NK but, well, the AA/WN dogfight makes finding a profitable place to stick planes tricky.

  14. AA already has its relationship with AS and has de-emphasized LAX. Though it hasn’t started sea-Bangalore or sea-Shanghai for obvious reasons, it has come back to sea-Lhr and has been public in its intentions to use AS to funnel international traffic over seattle. They very much *do* have a preferential relationship with AS for west coast flying, it’s just not as prominent yet as the East coast nea.

  15. Prediction: AA-JetBlue NEA gets approved in the courts but with serious restrictions on operations out of Boston (Delta has given too much of a competitive response to argue the alliance is anti-competitive). As a result, when B6 and NK are up for merger review, the DOJ says: “pick one… AA or NK”. Then we get to see what really matters to B6.

    I’d assume they’ll choose AA, declare bankruptcy over the Spirit breakup-fee, and then split off their assets to the prettiest bidder.

    1. No big airline since Pan Am, and to a lesser extent Eastern has been sold off piecemeal fashion. An interesting prediction, and it would certainly be fun to watch the US carriers fight over the assets. I won’t begin to speculate on that!

    2. “I’’d assume they’ll choose AA, declare bankruptcy over the Spirit breakup-fee, and then split off their assets to the prettiest bidder.”

      I think you have this backwards. B6 wants the planes, pilots & the gates as evidenced by their announced Paris CDG service starting next summer as well as their relocation to the new Terminal C at MCO. They want to grow any way they can. So if the NEA goes, then so be it.

  16. I predict that the new FIS office at Grand Rapids, Michigan will result in service to Canada being restored at GRR.

    1. Good call. And I’m willing to put money on Porter being the first airline to come in.

  17. Thanks Brett!

    2023 prediction: airline consolidation in Europe. Possibly easyjet is absorbed by another LCC, but more likely another flag carrier joining either IAG or Lufthansa.

  18. At the close of 2022, pilot labor unions at American, Delta, United, and Southwest Airlines all have collective bargaining agreements past their amendable date. (However DL pilot did have an agreement in principle and were expected to vote on ratification in early 2023.)

    I predict that at the end of 2023, at least one of the pilot labor groups at the four largest airlines (AA, DL, UA or WN) still does not have a collective bargaining agreement ratified. There will be no strikes authorized in 2023 and no strike on the horizon for 2024.

  19. A 737 MAX will crash somewhere in the world, causing a panic about another grounding, until it’s clear that it was not related to the plane’s design.

  20. This may just be wishful/hopeful thinking, but in the second half of 2023, demand stabilizes, bringing fares back down significantly. Not to pandemic levels, but making domestic and European round trips more affordable again.

  21. Emirates expands their code share relationship with United and announces desire to join Star Alliance. The need to join *A is exacerbated by the pilot shortage at EK since the majority of their pilots are expats who now have opportunities at carriers in their home countries.

    LOVE this feature every year; not only do I learn a ton but it’s great seeing how many smart people there are out there.

  22. Denver International Airport gains new international service from an Asian airline (EK or TK), United launches a year-round second daily flight to London and a new European destination, such as Paris or Amsterdam, as well as additional service pushing United up to 750 flights per day from Denver through the new gates.

  23. At least one of the major North American based airline pilot groups (American, Southwest, UPS, Air Canada, and/or Atlas) with Independent Unions will switch to ALPA.

  24. I predict a major US regional airline (Air Wisconsin, Mesa, Republic, SkyWest, etc.) or a trade group will lobby the government for the establishment of a European-style Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL) for FOs of regional jets. (i.e. accelerated training that is reliant on simulators for a large part). I do not predict the FAA will be in favor.

  25. Virgin Australia will have an IPO after reporting ‘outstanding results’. Share price will subsequently tank.

  26. One more for the SWA Meltdown:
    Southwest’s Board of Directors reacts to the December 2022 meltdown with a statement of LUV for the leaders managing the crisis. A few months later, the exit doors open, the sides deploy for (voluntary) evacuations to “spend more time with the family”, and golden parachutes appear over Love Field.

  27. Southern Airways Express continues finishes another year as the fastest growing airline in the country, despite a refusal of avgeeks to acknowledge it. SAE and Contour lead the growth, as 135 carriers replace 121 regionals in many small markets. The surge of new pilots recruited in 2020 and 2021 leads the pendulum to shift yet again – not to furloughs (yet) but to regional class dates being suspended. Furloughs by 2024.

  28. Passengers will be shocked to learn their flight is cancelled after a major winter storm hits Chicago or New York

  29. Some real predictions…

    1) American reintroduces DFW-China flights in the next few months, probably starting with Beijing and Shanghai. China removed the requirements to quarantine this week…and American has received delivery of 7 new 787s since August.

    2) DFW announces plans to begin construction of Terminal F.

    3) Avelo or Breeze get bought out by Allegiant or (more likely) Frontier

    4) Brett writes 41 columns about LGB in 2023.

    1. Just a quick comment on #3…I would be surprised to see Allegiant make a move like this, mostly because they are already stretched so thin with “ventures” such as the pending Viva Aerobus JV, the introduction of the 737 MAX fleet in late 2023, and the Sunseeker resort down in FL set to open in 2H23.

      Also, neither Avelo’s 737 NG fleet nor Breeze’s 190/195/A220 fleet would mesh well with G4’s existing fleet/MX plan.

      However, the idea of Frontier taking something like this on does not seem like a stretch to me, especially with them losing out on the Spirit deal.

      Either way, fun to imagine where we will be in 12 months!

      Side note on #4 – I’ll take the over on this one!

  30. Zhuo Andrew deserves full credit. The new JetBlue mosaic program tiles very much emulates loyalty points of aa. Spend credit card money get elite points.

  31. Cranky, yup, my personal prediction was spot on! Got on a plane once for a family round trip trip. Booked two business trips (way down from pre-pandemic) but only one happened, as a cancelled flight with no suitable rebooking options made the second one moot.

  32. Northern Pacific Airlines manages to start service to ??? and will disappear about as fast as California Pacific Airlines. Need a 757? They got them up for sale.

  33. So I’ll recycle half of my prediction because, well, it *deserves* to happen:

    Beset by troubles at both its Commercial and Military divisions, Boeing opts for a management shakeup. New CEO is probable; I wouldn’t rule out changes at BCA and BDS.

    1. My vote would be Breeze. Avelo seems to be reasonable with their routes, growth plans, and fleet structure, compared to Breeze buying new planes off the lot, attempting to maintain a dual fleet, and flying transcon on a 2×3 jet more suited for regional flying…

  34. Prediction for 2023: Air Canada cuts Calgary further but refuses to officially demote it from hub to focus city. Porter announces flights to Western Canada from Ottawa.

  35. Secretary Pete will puff his chest and spend a week on TV trying to demonstrate competence by announcing a “record setting fine” for Southwest’s 2022 Christmas meltdown only to quietly reduce that fine to peanuts three months later while privately apologizing to Bob Jordan for initially being so mean to Southwest.

  36. Southwest will reorganize themselves and return to their roots as a fun loving customer and employee oriented airline that Herb envisioned. Heads will roll and back steps will be taken to return the airline to what it once was. There will be major upgrades in technology and dare I say it……a charge for baggage.

  37. Frontier attempts to court (or is courted by) another US LCC into a merger/buyout. Talks will happen, though a firm deal won’t be made by year end. The most likely bachelors are Avelo (solid bases that fit well into Frontier’s network) and Allegiant (compatible fleet & similar scope to what Frontier wanted to do with Spirit). Sun Country and Breeze would be less likely (incompatible fleets, difference in strategy & product) but could happen if one of them ended up in a really desperate situation.

  38. Virgin Australia decides that, seeing as it is partnered with five Star Alliance members already, it may as well go the whole hog and become a member itself. Air New Zealand gets upset as a result.

  39. Official pick for 2023: AFA gets enough cards to call for a vote at Delta.

    P.S. I’m still convinced that GRB closes and everyone consolidates at ATW.

  40. Re-noming my 2016? pick – In 2023, Southwest -finally- gets started on a building a real IT Ops infrastructure

  41. 1) The Romanian government will try to pawn off Blue Air or seek another form of private investment, if it doesn’t cease its operations beforehand due to increased competition or a failure to find investors that is.

    2) Flyr will cease its operations.

    3) Air Arabia, AirAsia and/or Wizz Air will announce new subsidiaries, most likely in the Middle East or South East Asia (in the case of AirAsia). Maybe AirAsia Cambodia will even start this time.

  42. Jetblue-Spirit merger will be approved but without the Northeast Alliance and will require significant slot divesture.

  43. Pete Buttigieg’s administration approves the Viva Aerobus/Allegiant Airlines joint venture but this doesn’t result in a non-stop flight being launched between South Bend and Cancun, which was only a ploy by Viva Aerobus/Allegiant Airlines to get Pete Buttigieg’s attention. (which would be the South Bend Airport’s first regularly scheduled international flight, U.S. Customs did open a FIS station in South Bend in 2019 so the airport is ready to welcome this type of flight).

  44. 1. Air India finalizes the largest aircraft order in history (around 450-500 aircraft). Includes 777x, 787, a350, 737 Max, and a320Neo. Also, a new airport in Chennai will be greenlighted and Noida and Navi Mumbai Airports progress in construction

    2. DFW Terminal C renovations and Terminal F get the go-ahead, with portions of it ready in time for the 2026 World Cup. Terminal F will be both International and Domestic

    3. NEA gets approved by the DOT with some slot divesture, but the Spirit merger does not.

    4. Either Avelo or Breeze gets bought out or collapses and Frontier and Allegiant do heavy expansion

    5. Huge leadership changes at Southwest and DOT Heavily punishes them

    6. Either SAS, ITA, or TAP will be bought by Lufthansa

    7. EasyJet or Norwegian will get bought out by Ryanair or Wizz

    8. Travel within China and to China will recover, but will mainly be driven by Chinese airlines. US airlines (specifically United) never return to pre-Covid levels in China.

    9. At least one Russian airline will order the C919

  45. SAS goes bust and the rump is bought by some combination of Finnair, IAG and Qatar, with long haul flying refocused mainly on HEL.

  46. In 2023 United will reopen a station at OAK with several flights per day to DEN, and maybe a redeye to EWR + summer seasonal to ORD and/or IAH. Would help for SFO diversions and overflow too.

  47. 1. Condor will announce an expanded order for A330-900neos, due to success in competing against Lufthansa mainline on key business routes

    2. SAS struggles and eventually goes bankrupt (Just look at those summer 23 $500 rt Europe fares)

    3. Finnair expands into void left by SAS, increasing operations out of ARN and CPH.

    4. Porter Airlines’ expansion is rough, largely due to other players such as Air Canada and LCCs tanking prices to drive them out of the market

    5. The A350-1000 gains 200+ orders, due to the 777X delays and airlines looking to replace their 777-300ER. Top candidates to order would be Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, JAL, etc.

    6. The Korean Air-Asiana merger goes through, but with very significant limitations to maintain competition.

  48. Sometime this summer, with both Japan-Hawaii traffic increasing and fewer restrictions with China, China Air will resume both their one stop TPE-NRT-HNL and non-stop TPE-HNL routes.

  49. Boeing does something really dumb like close most of Everett.

    Another 777-X setback

    Frontier cuts 50% of Denver

    Breeze admits what they’re doing doesn’t actually work and turns into a fancy Allegiant

    Landline gets TSA screening and explodes in popularity

    Emirates doubles A350 order

    A350-1100 announced

    Boom turns into a whimper

    EAS gets a hard look by congress (Easing entry/Changing eligibility)

  50. SWA melt down leads to one or more of:
    – shift from spaghetti strands all over the map to simpler hub/spoke scheduling
    – SWA fined not only for customer impacts but also for safety implications of flight crews sleeping in airports
    – SWA has major drop in passengers as customers are not confident that a ticket means a timely flight.
    – SWA cuts back flights and loses market share as they attempt to protect against another melt down.
    – The IT upgrades will take years.

  51. – A 2nd major airline will announce switching inflight internet to Starlink.
    – AS and Westjet will announce a merger end of 3Q.
    – Northern Pacific Airlines folds.

  52. Elon Musk makes an offer to purchase Southwest Airlines, offering a 50% premium over the prevailing stock price. He vows to solve the airline’s problems by firing half the workforce and introducing a new cabin class called “Blue Checkmark”.

    1. Elon also promises to declare that cabin crew and pilots must sleep on 737s parked overnight to prove their dedication to Southwest’s mission instead of paying for crew hotels. When the FAA expresses concern about this, he bans their twitter account.

  53. Due to the continued pilot shortage, United and Amtrak will rekindle their partnership and United will begin selling Amtrak connections in the Northeast (on the Acela/Northeast Regional) to places like Philadelphia. This will complement recent bus service like Landline.

  54. The B737 MAX will get MAX7 certified by the FAA, but certification will be denied by EASA without a cockpit alert system

  55. My 2023 prediction: US Regional operations as we know it will completely collapse due to the continued crew/pilot shortage along with scope. The big carriers would replace these with small mainline (A220, EJet, etc.) as a result.

  56. I have 2:

    1. The NE Alliance will live.

    2. There will be a major consumer rights bill introduced, debated, and voted on in one of the houses of Congress (I make no predictions on if it will pass).

  57. Look forward to this every year Brett!

    My prediction for 2023: Condor’s new livery will usher in a renaissance of new, colorful airline liveries with “eurowhite” becoming passé and even Delta announcing a new livery.

    Lots of other things will happen too.

  58. Following the havoc of the 2022 Christmas holiday, Southwest significantly cuts back their operation, but fails to upgrade IT infrastructure.

    Sun Country files more EAS routes and expand, but later goes bankrupt.

  59. This is so fun! Thank you!

    Prediction – United States air travel demand in 2023 is challenged by economic pressures, international instability and tensions and COVID, so travel bookings will NOT recover to 2019 level, particularly dragged by international sector. COVID continues to limit travel options for many travelers

  60. Flyers will quickly forget Southwest’s Christmas breakdown and booking will grow as travelers default to the best deal and convenient schedules.

  61. In a relatively short amount of time people will forget about the 2022 holiday meltdown and SWA will be just as relevant as ever.

  62. Prediction: Southwest will rebound nicely as the holiday meltdown becomes a distant memory and people book on Southwest as long as the price or schedule is right.

  63. My predictions:

    An American airline will announce their first Pokemon livery for domestic and travel to Japan. I like it to be in American airlines, but Southwest may be in the running. Delta may join but if they win the at Pokemon livery sweepstakes, Delta will suck.

    United announces a seasonal flight to Pago Pago after a positive reception from their diversion to Sydney a week ago.

    Air travel to Taiwan & China from the U.S. will be limited if Taiwan is invaded.

  64. Finnair implodes, the wreckage gets bought by some combination of IAG and QR, becomes a Northern European version of vueling feeding traffic to Doha and IAG hubs in the rest of Europe.

    Bonza doesn’t last the year, possibly never even sells a ticket. Qantas drops its fares on every route they try.

    Qantas doesn’t refurbish their Sydney domestic lounges, or even replace the dishwasher, paper plates remain the norm.

    QR buys into virgin Australia.

    Cathay continues to struggle, continues to lease planes to QR.

    And for crazy times, QR money allows virgin australia to use leased Cathay planes to do long haul, QR gets around the flight cap between australia and Doha.

  65. A little late this year.

    2023 is not kind to Southwest as a lot of self-inflicted wounds rise to the surface. The airline suffers at least one more major operational meltdown like those seen in 2021 and 2022, highlighting its failure to invest in upgrading its IT infrastructure. The airline also faces an identity crisis from trying to be too many things to too many people-attempting to both compete against the full service carriers and the ULCCs. This results in them retrenching to their bread and butter of intra-state point-to-point service in California and Texas, and continuing to try to duke it out against Hawaiian with interisland Hawai’i services. Medium haul services such as Mainland US to Hawai’i and Transcon are reduced.

  66. Boeing fails to announce a suitable replacement for the 757/767 angering the three largest US based airlines.

    1. Define “suitable”. United is obviously going to use the MAX 10 as the replacement for the 757, and most airlines that are ditching the 767 are replacing it with the 787-8.

  67. Despite much hot air from Washington and a few “programs” and “initiatives” on airline reliability/cancellations that sound good in the news but which achieve little (think “Pax Bill of Rights” but without much in terms of specifics or consequences), Southwest’s 2022 holiday meltdown will create a minimal/small amount of additional airline regulation, as politicians and airlines know that the majority of voters (i.e., those infrequent fliers who travel < 3x roundtrips/year) show by their actions that they'd prefer much lower fares to much greater reliability & service.

  68. My predictions…
    1. Airbus will launch the A220-500 to compete directly with the 737MAX8
    2. One major European airline will file for bankruptcy and/or announce a reorganization plan by the end of 2023
    3. Boeing will achieve 737MAX7 & -10 certification by the FAA
    4. Certification on the Boeing 777-8/9 will be delayed by another year due
    5. JetBlue will announce 2 more European destinations
    6. BN will launch service to one of the Northern countries of South America, but probably not Venezuela

  69. Thanks for the generous interpretation Cranky ;-) Since it’s still not certain, I’ll make the same prediction for 2023 with a slight twist so it’s more verifiable: United will be the country’s and the world’s largest carrier during the summer season of 2023 measured by scheduled ASMs, mainly on the basis of its restored international service, while AA and DL will struggle to restore their international service to the same extent. I’m less sure of that status in the other seasons, but would certainly be curious to see the overall top ASM rankings for calendar year 2023.

  70. I know I’m a bit late to the game but I decided I would make one prediction for this year.
    I predict JetBlue will announce a new European destination for 2024. my top choices are Dublin and/or Barcelona (if just one of the two becomes true i’ll be happy) but I also think other European cities may be possible like FRA, AMS, or MAN.

    I know you’ll ignore this one but I decided I’d also include this for the fun of it… American Airlines will announce the first routes for the Airbus A321XLR. with one of two possibilities… they either announce plans to fly them on transcontinental routes in 2024, and/or announcing flights from Philadelphia and/or Miami for 2024.

  71. FAA finally certifies the Boeing 737-700 MAX and Southwest takes its first delivery of the plane to help fill it’s new fare class, “Wanna Stay Home”.

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