As we bid farewell to 2017 and welcome in 2018, it's that time for predictions and New Year's Resolutions for some. Airline industry officials also are making their plans for the new year, and surely some of you will be making your own travel dreams come true this year. Below are four predictions that could come true in the new year.
1. Fierce Competition on Long Haul Routes
The addition of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 jets have provided airlines the ability to open up new long haul markets for less. The past two years has seen airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Asiana, Singapore Airlines, and other major carriers welcome the aircraft to their fleets and open up new long haul destinations. Low cost carriers such as Scoot and Norwegian have opened new flights to Europe and the United States out of Singapore.
As the current crop of airlines with the new jets launch new services, other airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Philippine Airlines have recently received their first or awaiting the delivery of them in 2018. The year could see both airlines make a push into the long haul flights scene with their own announcements of routes to Europe and the US.
We can expect to see more long haul routes from Asia to Europe and North America with reduced fares, and it would be a good time to make your New Year's travel resolutions.
2. Airlines Look into Adopting Cryptocurrencies for Payments
While cryptocurrencies have gone mainstream, 2018 may now be a time where airlines seriously consider whether to adopt them as a new form of payment for plane tickets and inflight services. At present, one airline - Peach Aviation in Japan - currently is known to accept Bitcoin for travel reservation payments. Bitcoin and other "cryptos" still face the instability of its value - which may lead to some airlines to shun cryptocurrencies. This will not stop airlines from looking further into the rise of cryptocurrencies and whether to allow customers to book travel using them.
3. More turbulence for Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific
2017 was great for Asia's low cost carriers, and as a result it has cut into the earnings of legacy carriers such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Both airlines announced cost cutting measures in 2017, and 2018 will prove to be a challenge to cut costs while keeping its standards in service quality. In addition to the Middle-East-basd and Asian low cost carriers, both airlines also face new threats from Chinese carriers selling tickets for long haul flights to Europe and North America.
The new year could see both airlines lowering ticket prices further in an effort to attract travellers who would normally choose to fly with a low cost competitor. Another move that travellers may notice could be a reduction of flight frequencies, especially for regional flights in direct competition with low cost carriers. It will be a very stressful and challenging time for executives of both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.
4. More International and Domestic Flights To/From Clark International Airport in the Philippines
As countries in Asia make improvements in their aviation/travel infrastructure, the biggest improvement in 2018 could be seen in the Philippines. The long recurring problems of air traffic congestion and delays at Manila's Ninoy Aquino Airport (NAIA) have been well documented. In 2017, we saw the announcements of both Air Asia Philippines moving its base in the country to Clark Airport and President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration as the country's second gateway hub. Recently, ground was broken for a new PHP3.9 billion (USD $78 million) terminal in anticipation of the growth to come.
While construction is ongoing, travellers from provinces north of Manila could help Clark Airport spur further growth with the addition of more flights to key domestic and international flights. Travellers from that area may no longer need to commute to Manila for flights, and airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia can see a reduction of flight frequencies out of NAIA and relocate them to Clark.
One roadblock to progress for Clark Airport's stakeholders would be the ground transport time between Manila and Clark, where the trip could take as long as 2 hours. 2018 could also see the urgency to finally initiate the long-discussed proposal of a high-speed transport system connecting Metro Manila and Clark.