In addition to flight routing adjustments, Royal Jordanian is also dealing with high fuel costs, a recent capital restructuring, and delays of new Airbus due to begin arriving next year.
For Royal Jordanian CEO Samer Majali, the war between Israel and Hamas creates multiple challenges.
“Our problem is bigger than Tel Aviv,” Majali said at the Routes World conference in Istanbul on Monday. “Our problem is overflying Israel. Jordan is right east of Israel, [and] our main routes are over Israel so we now have to go north and south.”
That creates additional complexity and cost for Amman-based Royal Jordanian as it must route flights either north over Lebanon and Syria, or south over Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Neither are big routing changes but, for an airline that is still trying to stem its pandemic losses, any extra cost is a hit.
In addition to the flight routing adjustments, bookings to Jordan have begun to take a “little” hit, Majali said. As have ones to Beirut amid growing fears that the war between Israel and Hamas could spread north to Lebanon.
“I don’t think any airline has this kind of diversity of issues,” Majali said, referring to the war, high fuel costs, a recent capital restructuring due to high losses, and delays of new Airbus due to begin arriving next year.
Most foreign airlines have suspended flights to Israel. That includes the largest international carriers to the country, Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines, as well as all the big American and European airlines. El Al continues to fly, as do other Israeli airlines.
The situation has forced many governments to charter flights to get their citizens home from Israel. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, while not returning to Tel Aviv, have added additional flights to Athens for Americans that want to leave Israel and return to the U.S. And Swiss Air has operated several the government-chartered repatriation flights to Tel Aviv for Swiss citizens.
Impact on Wizz Air
Wizz, the largest foreign airline to Israel, is cancelling flights on rolling four-day basis – for example, on Monday, it cancelled its flights for Friday, October 20.
A Wizz employee who spoke on background because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the airline anticipates needing to either cut some or all of its flights to Tel Aviv this winter. The airline winter scheduling season ends in March.
Suspending Tel Aviv service — even if just for a season — would be yet another blow to Wizz. In September, the airline was forced to cut its capacity growth forecast for the six months ending in March by 10 percentage points due to issues with Pratt & Whitney engines on its Airbus A321neo aircraft. The financial impact will be “mitigated” by increasing utilization of other aircraft and increasing yields, or airfares.
Wizz was also severely affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year and the subsequent war. Several of its aircraft were stuck in Ukraine and unable to fly out after the invasion, and Wizz closed its bases in both Russia and Ukraine that amounted to roughly 7% of its total capacity prior to the war.
Pegasus Airlines CEO Güliz Öztürk said Sunday that the carrier was “watching” the situation in Israel to see how it evolves before determining if it will affect fourth-quarter results.
But while Pegasus, Royal Jordanian, Wizz, and many other airlines weigh the financial fallout of a war in Israel, airline leaders universally outlined a wish for a quick resolution.
“We hope this will be short lived,” Majali said.
Updated to reflect Emirates cancellation of Tel Aviv flights through October 20.
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Photo credit: Royal Jordanian Samer Majali hopes for a quick resolution to the conflict in Israel. Henry Chow 0516 / Flickr