It’s always flattering to be asked to appear on a news channel to discuss the aviation industry, especially at 05:00 on a dark January morning in London. CNBC kindly invited me on to their “Street Signs” programme for a discussion on aviation issues last week, and conversation quickly turned to some interesting and topical subjects. As the programme was winding up I was able to sit and chat informally with the presenters Joumanna Bercetche and Willem Marx, adding depth and colour to the issues. They were quick to highlight some of the inconsistencies that we, in the industry, grapple with every day.
In China, Airbus are trying to sell a product that no one seems to want in what looks like the best ever BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) deal ever, placing new A380 orders as the giveaway alongside the much desired A320. However attractive the BOGOF, it seems that the A380 remains as attractive as the last piece of clothing at a January sale - too large, crumpled and no longer fashionable.
After China, we moved on to discuss industry profitability, a topic dear to every business journalist. Trying as hard as I could, providing a rational explanation for why some airlines have never been more profitable and yet the majority of scheduled airlines remain unprofitable was difficult. And then to the inevitable round of airline failures and start-ups: we all know and accept how hard it was for Monarch to survive, but it takes a leap of faith to understand the basis for Joon, the new Air France subsidiary airline aimed at hipster-millennials
Whenever anyone talks aviation, the personal stories come out and so it was that Joumanna mentioned that she had purchased a one-way fare from London to New York for just £110. Allowing for APD at £78, and airport charges taking another £30 it seems Joumanna had won a free flight to New York! And seemingly, so had a few hundred other people. But can these fares ever really make sense in the long-run, or even on a Blue Monday when we all need cheering up and a chance to get away.
With some inevitability, conversation turnedto the hopes for some progress on the new London runway. Apparently, the next stage of consultation will be fast-tracked through in six months. Since it’s taken over a year to decide to fast-track a process and the Brexit countdown clock gathers pace, a healthy dose of reality - or journalistic cynicism – prevailed and I was left in no doubt that those in the studio were sceptical that this would happen.
Finally, as the camera lights were turned off and the next programme started, we left the Studio. Reflecting on the chat as I waited for another delayed Thameslink service I wondered if I’d answered their questions. They wanted some insight into the market and what’s happening, but they probably left more confused than they were before. Sorry CNBC!