Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Is Alaska Airlines paying too much for Virgin America?

I hope this little view from downunder provides an interesting perspective on the announced purchase of Virgin America by Alaskan Airlines.

On the same day that Moody's announces a potential downgrading of  Virgin Australia credit rating, we presume because of its recent capital raising, and the announced potential sale of up to 26% of its stock by Air New Zealand - this interesting factoid appeared in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Virgin Australia has a market value of $1.3 billion, less than half the Virgin America sales price, despite being a much larger airline than the US carrier in terms of its annual revenue and fleet size. 
In Australian dollar terms, Virgin America reported $2 billion of revenue last year compared with Virgin Australia at $4.7 billion. 
The first sentence figures are in US$ from what I can tell.

Let me make that a little plainer:

Turnover - Virgin AUS makes twice as much as Virgin USA
  • Virgin AUS makes AU$4.7 billion
  • Virgin USA makes AU$2 billion
Market value - Virgin AUS is vlaued at about half or Virgin USA
  • Virgin AUS valued at AU$1.71 billion
  • Virgin USA valued at AU$3.42 billion
So that means Virgin Australia at more than twice the income of its USA cousin, but is worth roughly half as much?


And I thought maths was never my strong point. Alaska, you sure you got this right?

Monday, 4 April 2016

Fly me to the moon, or Flybe to Newquay, but not many stars to play with.

I have the very good fortune to have a partner who has relatives that reside in Newquay in Cornwall. That means, that each time we go to the UK, we invariably spend a few days down west (its kind of down a bit and a long way to the left of London.

We have transported ourselves there in many different ways (bus, car and plane), and flying there on Flybe is the shortest and sharpest way to get there.

However, the experience is not always elegant. For a start Flybe flies out of Gatwick, which I possibly like less than Heathrow. Flybe doesn't belong to any alliance, although you can earn British Airways Avios, although these are not available to Australian residents - unless you have a UK address.

Flybe does have a lounge network, but just none in either London Gatwick, or Cornwall Airport Newquay. So instead, this is where we waited - the gate holding pen:

What's wrong, it has seating, drinks, snacks, and artwork? What a lounge! Go Gatwick!
Flybe is moving to all jet aircraft, but ours was a jet prop Dash-8.

Our purple liveried Dash 8. The skygate is a bit irrelevant really.
I don't think anyone would claim these aircraft as their favourite, but they are serviceable, and I have often travelled on QantasLink in one between Sydney and Canberra in Australia.

The purple livery is eye catching, and the model is low cost, although the service is reasonable.

It's a small plane, with a small interior, so inevitably a bit squishy:
Flybe Dash 8 - squishy and low cost, but OK.
We were on a 12:55pm flight, so were hungry for some lunch, not to mention a drink. Hey, we were on holiday!

Drinks and snacks were available for purchase with the selection outlined in a brochure titled 'Refuel' - well some were - unfortunately most healthy or hot options were not available:
Flybe's inflight menu - for purchase.
I'll spare you all the glossy photos, and just give you the price list:

. . . and a sample snack box.

Unfortunately all the vaguely healthy options like sandwiches and soup were not available. Only this more-like-kids-food snack box was. Still when you're hungry, you're hungry. And they had wine.

That healthy combination of hi-salt, hi-fat, hi-protein, hi-sugar treats you usually give to kids. Except for the wine.
That just about sums it up for the London Newquay flight. Short and sharp (1 hour 10 minutes), and the most comfortable and quickest way to get to the surfing capital of Great Britain.

Just a couple of other tips: 

  • The airport at Newquay is small and regional. It has a reasonable cafe, but not much else.
  • The car hire offices are small and often only staffed by one person, so expect to wait if there are a few people off your flight collecting vehicles
  • When you leave - beware Flybe baggage nazi's. They will weigh both your carryon and your checkin - and if one is over - you will need to move things between cases, or abandon possessions. Be warned.
  • Rick Stein maintains businesses in Cornwall, and one in Australia, not to mention travelling for his cooking shows. You may run into him at the airport (no VIP section). Say hi - he'll probably have a chat.
Flybe prices range depending on day and season - but expect between £30 to £65 per sector.

The coast around Newquay seems to be a bit of a haven for British chefs - with some excellent restaurants (often specialising in seafood) if you're prepared to travel. Try Outlaw's (although the restaurant at St Endoc hotel where we went is now closed) or Paul Ainsworth as well as the range of Rick Stein options.

This was our special occasion menu at Outlaw's - sure was better than plane food:

More stories from this trip