There use to be a time when the air transport industry shut down over the 10-14 days of the festive season/turn of the year.
Not any more. Just look at the happenings over the past five days since 24 December or Christmas Eve:
* It may be in pole position to take over Alitalia, but Air France-KLM has sealed another deal in the meantime, agreeing on 24 Dec to acquire Belgian regional VLM. This will make the Franco-Dutch giant the number one carrier at London City Airport, the downtown airport that serves the UK capital mostly with regional jets and turboprops.* Also on 24 Dec, as my colleague David Field blogged that day, tettering transatlantic business-class carrier Maxjet went into bankruptcy. That leaves Eos and SilverJet – good luck to them in 2008.
* Then there’s the air cargo price fixing probe. This has tempered the festive spirit somewhat at many carriers over the past few days as they receive their letters from the European Commission. Chile’s LAN, for example, got its letter advising it that it is being investigated just after Christmas. I blame that delay on the Christmas post.
* More on Alitalia. Kevin Done at the FT is great at sniffing out slot trades at London Heathrow, and he’s done it again. This time on Boxing Day (26 Dec). Does the man never stop!
Anyhow, he reports that Alitalia has been getting some much-needed cash by selling nearly a quarter of its slots at Heathrow for a wopping $133 million. I wonder if potential Alitalia buyer Air France-KLM is very happy about that, and even if it was consulted? Slots at Heathrow are of course to be treasured and cherished, as I discussed in our October issue.
* And finally folks, USA Today has listed some of the weird and wonderful air travel stories of the year. Enjoy.