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European, Asian Carriers Dominate Aviation Week Airline Rankings

by Leroy Baker,, New York

20 August 2008

Aviation Week's latest Top-Performing Companies (TPC) report focuses on the global airline industry, revealing which carriers are in the best shape to prevail against the daunting economic challenges they face.

TPC project manager Michael Lowry used proprietary formulas to rank airlines in three categories. The metrics have been significantly revised this year to place more emphasis on survivability, reflecting the headaches airlines face through soaring fuel costs and faltering demand. The TPC feature is highlighted a recent issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. Articles written by Adrian Schofield and James Ott explain the rankings and identify underlying industry trends.

The TPC study shows that the best of the Asia-Pacific and European airlines are head and shoulders above their peers among the major legacy carriers, with Singapore Airlines again at the top of the list and Malaysia Airlines improving the most. The US majors, meanwhile, are entrenched in the bottom half of the table.

"The gap between the Asian and European top performers and the US airlines has only grown larger over the past year," the article says. Other ranking categories cover low-cost and regional airlines, and the major cargo carriers.

In addition, Lowry has put together a list of five US airlines that are at the greatest risk of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the next two years. The article also explains what airline actions can reduce bankruptcy risk.

The best-performing airlines in each category feature strong liquidity, good financial health, cost discipline and a focus on efficiency.

Top Ten Major Legacy Airlines:

1. Singapore Airlines
2. Malaysian Airline System Berhad
3. Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana S.A.
4. Aer Lingus Group PLC
5. Deutsche Lufthansa AG
6. Qantas Airways Ltd.
7. Finnair Oyj
8. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
9. British Airways PLC

Top Ten Low-Cost/Regional Airlines:

1. Ryanair Holdings plc
2. easyJet plc
3. Allegiant Travel Company
4. Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd.
5. Southwest Airlines Co.
6. Transat A.T. Inc.
7. AirAsia Berhad
8. Copa Holdings, S.A.
9. WestJet Airlines Ltd.
10. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA

The United Parcel Service, Inc. was the highest ranked freight carrier. Aviation Week's TPC study was launched in 1996, aimed at identifying strong and weak performers in the aerospace & defense (A&D) and airline industries. This year, for the first time, separate studies were conducted on the A&D and airline sectors. Proprietary metrics have been refined over the past 12 years, with input from industry leaders, to include scores in five categories: liquidity, fuel cost management, financial health, earnings performance, and asset utilization.

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