Southwest, JetBlue boost forecasts on strong travel demand


NEW YORK (AP) — Airline stocks rallied Thursday after Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways said revenue from summer travel will…

NEW YORK (AP) — Airline stocks rallied Thursday after Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways said revenue from summer travel will be stronger than previously expected as travel bounces back after two years of the pandemic.

The comments, which the airlines made in regulatory filings, point to their ability to charge higher fares and still fill their planes because of strong demand from travelers.

Southwest said second-quarter revenue will rise by between 12% and 15% compared with 2019 because of accelerating bookings for summer travel. The Dallas-based airline previously predicted a gain of 8% to 12%.

Southwest expects to hit that revenue target even though its passenger-carrying capacity will be about 7% lower than before the pandemic.

JetBlue said it continues to expect record revenue this summer, with second-quarter sales rising 16% or more — matching or beating the top of its previously forecast range for the period.

Helane Becker, an analyst with banking firm Cowen, said the JetBlue announcement points to continued confidence in the airline’s ability to pass through higher jet fuel costs and overcome disruptions that led to many flight cancellations in April.

Still, Becker said, the upbeat forecast will only slightly trim JetBlue’s expected loss in the second quarter. She raised her forecast of profit at Southwest.

Shares of Southwest rose 6% and JetBlue gained 5% in midday trading. Shares of competitors Delta, American, United and Alaska also rose by between 5% and 7%.

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Etihad enjoys profit boost despite ‘suppressed’ business travel


Etihad Airways will report its first-ever profitable first quarter this year despite corporate travel remaining “hugely suppressed”.

Tony Douglas, CEO of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, said the improved results included a “$1 billion ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) turnaround and $1.25 billion turnaround on core operating profit”.

“It puts us in a far better mood now than we were at this time last year,” said Douglas at last week’s CAPA Airline Leader Summit in Manchester. 

The carrier’s momentum built in the second half of 2021, particularly in the fourth quarter, and carried on into 2022, with Douglas adding that load factors in March 2022 were higher than March 2019. 

“That’s not to suggest we are back to 2019 – we most certainly are not, but it’s a big signal for us that we are seeing signs of a recovery,” he stressed.

Corporate travel, however, remains “hugely suppressed,” said Douglas, who added that some corporations were starting to “come back in and operate in a way in which we are familiar with pre-pandemic, [although] many still from a policy point are avoiding it”.

What Etihad has seen take off is a “sizeable increase” in demand for its business class cabin, but not from corporate travellers. 

Douglas said leisure travellers booking premium cabins “may prove to be a trend”, which could make it more difficult for returning corporate travellers to find premium seats.

“It’s something that may or may not occur as business travel comes back. [Leisure customers] may have gotten [their pent-up travel] out of their system. But as the corporate travel market opens back up, they’ll have exciting new options to choose from,” added Douglas.

Douglas was referring to the new business and economy classes onboard Etihad’s Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which the carrier put into operation on 31 March. 

The aircraft’s business class cabin offers 44 studios with sliding doors for privacy. Each seat has direct aisle access and converts into a fully 79-inch lie-flat bed. 

The company will receive four more A350s this year and has orders and options that can bring that total up to 20 aircraft.



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GlobalStar adds Kuoni as new partner to boost European presence


TMC network GlobalStar has announced Kuoni Business Travel Switzerland as its latest new partner in Europe.

The development means that GlobalStar’s presence now extends to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The network has also signed up new partners in Australia and Japan in recent months as part of its global growth.

James Stevenson, GlobalStar’s CEO, said: “It’s a great honour to welcome to the GlobalStar network one of Europe’s oldest travel agencies. In Kuoni Business Travel Switzerland we benefit from the knowledge and experience that only a successful and highly respected business can share. 

“They are looking for the ways and means of gaining global reach and expertise – two of the core benefits of the GlobalStar network.”

London-based GlobalStar was ranked as the third largest TMC network in Europe in BTN Europe’s list of Europe’s Leading TMCs 2021, with members in more than 85 countries across 3,500 locations.

Kuoni Business Travel has been operating for more than 40 years and has offices across Switzerland.

Andreas Schneider, head of Kuoni Business Travel Switzerland, added: “We are very pleased that we can continue our growth objectives as part of the GlobalStar network. 

“We are strategically on course to ensure our successful future, and to continue to grow after the crisis.”



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