Our 2013 retrospective, and Airbus breaking with tradition on A350 MSN2 , inspired me to take a look at what this dynamic industry might have in-store for 2014:

A350 MSN2 the first test aircraft to be fitted with a full cabin interior in its new carbon fibre scheme. Image: Airbus SAS.

CASA Regulation
Some big regulatory changes will take place in 2014. In particular, CASA will need to guide the Australia’s airlines on the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) following changes to regulatory legislation by the FAA in the US and EASA in Europe. Currently Australian carriers are self regulating in this respect, but moving independently as a way to gain competitive advantage will only create headaches for crew in enforcing use on-board.

 

Image: Graham Cook

Domestic capacity
The war will continue until the end of the first half, bringing further revenue pressure to the Qantas and Virgin groups. Qantas has invested too much the public rhetoric behind in its strategy, to back away now would look like it was giving in. Not the best market image to present given its current financial position. Expect the Federal Government to make small changes to the level of single foreign ownership to the Qantas Sale Act.

 

 

 

Sydney Airport
The political future of Tony Abbott’s Government depends on their ability to deliver a courageous bipartisan policy decision. With a promise of a decision, a ‘government of no surprises’ will now need to deliver with a real commitment on Badgery’s Creek. This will come as a stage 1 single runway development, with no rail connection, because Abbott’s made it clear he doesn’t like trains. Also expect a change to the slot caps at Sydney Airport, starting with the 05:00-06:00am landing window.

Image: Pratt & Whitney

LEAPing Gears
It’s a big year for CFM and Pratt & Whitney. They’ve both promised game-changing engines, and in 2014 both will fly: The PW1000G geared-turbofan on the Airbus A320NEO and CFM’s Leap-1A on GE’s Boeing 747 testbed. Can they deliver?

 

 

 

 

Twitter
Every year people say Twitter will changes the customer service game. Inevitably it does, but in 2014 the airlines will be challenged by customers taking to paid social media. It’s effectiveness is debatable, but it’s just another way airlines now face the wrath of more passengers, on more channels if they don’t perform.

 

Jetstar HK
Will Jetstar HK finally takeoff in 2014? Its Air Transport Licence Application gazetted in August, nearly six months on and with aircraft banking up in Toulouse, a decision remains elusive. Although there is significant underlying community support for the growth of LCCs in HK, Cathay Pacific and sister carrier Dragonair continue their vehement opposition to the airline. In December, vague rumours in the Taiwanese media rumors suggesting Jetstar HK might relocate and operate out of Taiwan. Jetstar HK will fly in 2014, but it will face operational or slot restrictions.

 

UAVs
Highlighting the increasing overlap between consumer and military technology in unmanned aircraft, the FAA will release its Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rules for public comment. Given the increasing concerns over public privacy, and the ability for UAV’s to easily penetrate secure areas as Angela Merkel discovered, the rules are sure to incite heated public debate. When the final rules enabling civil and commercial use of UAV’s of up to 25kgs are published in 2015, perhaps this scene will become a whole lot more common:

 

Finally, keep an eye on…
Myanmar and Indonesia as their airline industry’s grow explosively. Even greater growth in Air New Zealand’s full year revenue and profit, and the announcement of new Asian and North American routes as its 787s are delivered. China Eastern’s subtle relaunch of China United as a pure LCC airline, and whether it can successfully integrate the carrier as a fully independent part of the group. And Virgin entering an international market with its A330-200s.