Airline bankruptcies surge

October 05, 2019

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PARIS: Airline bankruptcies have increased this year at the fastest ever rate, led by the collapse of India’s Jet Airways, British travel group Thomas Cook and Avianca of Brazil, according to industry data published on Friday.

“2019 has seen the fastest growth in airline failure in history,” said airline consulting firm IBA, which has tracked plane fleets returned to lessors or administrators by 17 carriers that have gone bust so far this year.

More may follow as weaker players are squeezed by low-cost competition and higher fuel costs exacerbated by a strong dollar — which hurts those selling tickets in euros or pounds and buying kerosene and planes in the US currency.

“The last quarter of the year tends to see more failures during the northern hemisphere winter,” Phil Seymour, IBA’s chief executive, said in an interview. U.S. carriers have been spared by the “natural hedge” of dollar revenue, he added.

The run of bankruptcies has also created opportunities for stronger carriers to pick up planes, traffic and airport slots abandoned by collapsed rivals.

Other airlines that have folded in 2019 include France’s Aigle Azur and XL Airways, Germania, Flybmi and Adria of Slovenia, which filed for bankruptcy this week.

Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet said on Friday it may take more Boeing 737 MAX planes ordered by Jet Airways, which went bust in June.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2019