Looking back at 2018 in aviation | What airlines were up to?
Travelling further & faster
2018 was the year when Singapore airlines launched the world’s longest flight, topping distance record held by Qatar Airways for its route between Doha, Qatar and Auckland, New Zealand. To reach the ambitious goal, a new kind of aircraft had to be invoked. This is where Airbus stepped in with its brand new, shiny A350-900 Ultra Long Range.
Meanwhile, Qantas Airways has set a new speed record for its QF9 non-stop flight on Boeing 787-9, slicing almost an hour off the scheduled time in August 2018. The Perth to London and return service, launched earlier this year, has been consistently beating the set schedule in both directions, thanks to favorable summer weather patterns.
Goodbye to Virgin America
Two years after it was acquired by Alaska airlines in 2015, Virgin America made its final flight on the evening of April 24, 2018, marking the last time a “VX” flight made its way across the skies.
Oneworld alliance to be joined by first African airline
On December 5, 2018, oneworld alliance announced that a first African airline is joining the alliance. Royal Air Maroc is to be implemented in mid-2020, while its regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express will join as affiliate member.
The alliance had one African carrier - Comair from southern Africa (flies as a franchisee of British Airways) as an affiliate member since its launch in 1999, but the airline does not have a full member status.
Oneworld is the last airline alliance without members from Africa. Star Alliance has two members - Ethiopian airlines and South African Airways, while Skyteam has one - Kenya airways.
ANA wants to rule Asia’s LCC market
Japan’s ANA Holdings announced on March 22, 2018, it will merge its two subsidiary airlines, Peach Aviation and Vanilla Air, by 2020, with the goal to become the leading low-cost carrier (LCC) in Asia
Air Berlin fell, Niki went on
In the aftermarch of Air Berlin collapse, its former subsidiary Niki kept changing hands until Ryanair finalized acquisition in August 2018.
After the German airline went bankrupt and a deal for the airline fell through with International Airlines Group (IAG) and Lufthansa, Niki was acquired by its initial owner Niki Lauda. Using his own assets, Lauda rebranded the airline into Laudamotion.
Lauda then sold 75% stake in the Austrian airline to Ryanair for, reportedly, €50 million. The remaining shares remain in the hands of the former racer. For now, Laudamotion should operate as an independent airline, expected (by Ryanair) to enter profit in 2019.
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