Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

It’s been a rough week for airline operators and their staff.

The collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook follows that of French airlines Aigle Azur and XL Airways, whose CEO blamed competition from low-cost rival Norwegian in the US market.

XL Airways’ Laurent Magnin admitted to the French press in September that “we didn’t see Norwegian coming, with its new planes, and applying a low-cost model to medium- and long-haul flights.”

But according to Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary, Norwegian itself could be the next “to go bust”.

Speaking at this week’s Reuters Newsmakers event in London, O’Leary, in a blunt appraisal of the package holiday market, said it was “screwed, it’s over,” and that he believes further consolidation of the European airline market is inevitable as “within the next 5-6 years, it consolidates around four large carriers, each with about a 20% share – IAG, Lufthansa, Air FranceKLM and Ryanair. Everybody else merges, disappears, is taken over or partners with one or other of those big four.”

When pressed about the rise of “flight shaming” and the “Greta effect”, O’Leary was quick to defend the industry’s ongoing drive to reduce CO2 emissions, and Ryanair’s own green ambitions.

In mid-September, the airline updated its Environmental Policy for Full Year 2020. It includes a US$20 billion commitment to a fleet of 210 new Boeing 737 aircraft, which while carrying 4% more passengers will reduce fuel burn by 16% and cut noise emissions by 40%. In addition, Ryanair has reiterated its commitment to eliminating non-recyclable plastics from its operations within five years – 82% of all onboard consumables have already removed plastics.

With its September traffic figures showing near double-digit growth across its subsidiaries and load factors of 95-96%, like them or loathe them, Ryanair is proving an antidote to other beleaguered low-cost carriers.

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