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Aircoach up for sale?

  • 30-05-2019 6:15pm
    #1
    Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    Over the years there have been rumours of Aircoach being up for sale and I've always ignored them as have little truth. But this time it has cropped up again and this time there is at least some evidence behind it to back it up.

    FirstGroup, Aircoach's parent company, has announced that it will sell off it's Greyhound US and First Bus UK groups, so it would make sense if they sold off Aircoach too.

    I'd say there would be a lot of interest in Aircoach, it is a very successful and profitable company.

    I'd guess GoAhead would be a major contender, they seem to be very interested in expanding in Ireland and it would give them very useful depot locations and a decent intercity network, along with the obviously great airport routes.

    CityLink would be a great buyer too, it would create a company with a presence on every major route in Ireland, with no overlap between the two.

    GoBus or Dublin Coach would be less preferable giving pre-existing overlap between routes.

    Of course there are some other possible Irish companies too, new foreign entrants or even possibly a management buyout.


«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,363 ✭✭✭✭ Del.Monte
    Registered User


    CIE? :D


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    bk wrote: »
    FirstGroup, Aircoach's parent company, has announced that it will sell off it's Greyhound US and First Bus UK groups, so it would make sense if they sold off Aircoach too.

    They haven't really said that it will be sold off, just that they are exploring 'structural alternatives to separate' it from the group, which could result in them spinning it off rather than selling it up. Even then we don't know if the whole lot will go to one company or UK Bus will be cut up into pieces and different parts will end up with different parties. But the fact they used the word separation about UK Bus whereas they used sell for Greyhound suggests to me a spin-off or something similar is not being ruled out.
    I'd guess GoAhead would be a major contender, they seem to be very interested in expanding in Ireland and it would give them very useful depot locations and a decent intercity network, along with the obviously great airport routes.

    CityLink would be a great buyer too, it would create a company with a presence on every major route in Ireland, with no overlap between the two. GoBus or Dublin Coach would be less preferable giving pre-existing overlap between routes.

    Go-Ahead would be well placed but don't have much experience in running coach or airport based bus operations. So it wouldn't necessary be a good fit business wise. However Aircoach having a depot in the North of the city is going to be attractive to them as they could move some of their vehicles up there to cut dead mileage and some of the Aircoach vehicles down to the South and also it would give them bigger scale in the country and leave them not so exposed to contracts as they would have a commercial arm too.

    Personally I wouldn't like Dublin Coach to get it, because I think that Aircoach is a far better run company with better vehicles, treats it staff better with better customer service and is overall a far better brand and offers a far superior service to what is offered by DC. Citylink is a possibility due to lack of overlap, Can't see GoBus raising the finance though.

    CIE would cause serious competition concerns!


  • Registered Users Posts: 134 ✭✭ belfast stephen
    Registered User


    Go Ahead own Oxford bus company who run routes to London and london airports so could draw on that for the coaching experience


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    Go Ahead own Oxford bus company who run routes to London and london airports so could draw on that for the coaching experience

    If you're talking about the X90 and the Airline routes then that's a pretty uninspiring route, with a poor livery, poor marketing and seating that is nothing to really shout about, it comes across as a bus company trying to run a coach route, which is exactly what it is. The vehicles are uninspiring Plaxtons as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,752 ✭✭✭✭ Wishbone Ash
    Registered User


    Do Aircoach still have the DAA contract for the car park shuttle buses?


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    Do Aircoach still have the DAA contract for the car park shuttle buses?

    It's up this year for tender, not sure exactly when but I know the DAA wanted new vehicles to replace the Mercedes artics that have been on there since 2008. I think they were looking at either hybrid or fully electric vehicles.

    Don't know of any articulated vehicles that would fit the bill though and going back to rigids would be a backward step which would mean they'd need more buses to run the same level of service capacity wise.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    devnull wrote: »
    The vehicles are uninspiring Plaxtons as well.

    Well they would be right at home with Aircoach so.
    devnull wrote: »
    Don't know of any articulated vehicles that would fit the bill though and going back to rigids would be a backward step which would mean they'd need more buses to run the same level of service capacity wise.

    Well all the usual suspects, Volvo, VDL, Solaris, Vanhool, etc. all make full EV articulated buses in Europe. I know doors on the wrong side, but perhaps a special order.

    https://www.sustainable-bus.com/electric-bus/electric-bus-public-transport-main-fleets-projects-around-world/


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    bk wrote: »
    Well they would be right at home with Aircoach so.

    They're lower spec interior wise than Aircoach. No leather seats, headrests to sleep on, not even any carpet or tinted windows and the Wifi is quite limited and I didn't spot USB sockets at every seat, only most of them and a small toilet. They do have better leg-room but everything else feels cheaper.

    They paid roughly the same price per coach for their tri-axle overdeckers as Aircoach paid for their two axle standard coaches. That tells you all you need to know about the low spec they are since overdeckers will always carry a decent premium over a standard coach with all things being equal.
    Well all the usual suspects, Volvo, VDL, Solaris, Vanhool, etc. all make full EV articulated buses in Europe. I know doors on the wrong side, but perhaps a special order.

    https://www.sustainable-bus.com/electric-bus/electric-bus-public-transport-main-fleets-projects-around-world/

    I'd be curious if they adapt them, since none of those have ever showed any interest in building bendy buses for the left hand road side drive, so not sure they'll go for the EV version. Mercedes are the king of artics but I've not seen any hope of an EV style Citaro for the UK and Ireland.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    Surely for carpark shuttles all that's needed is fairly basic bus with no fancy features. As much as I don't like the way Dublin Coach run their bus service I will admit I regularly use Quickpark and if doesn't bother me the way they use mostly old Citaros on it as it's only a 5 minute journey.

    Electric buses probably make sense for carpark shuttles due the fuel savings as the bus wouldn't be wasting charge by going on long trips.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    devnull wrote: »
    I'd be curious if they adapt them, since none of those have ever showed any interest in building bendy buses for the left hand road side drive, so not sure they'll go for the EV version. Mercedes are the king of artics but I've not seen any hope of an EV style Citaro for the UK and Ireland.

    Looks like Mercedes are working on eCitaro's:

    https://electrek.co/2018/07/10/mercedes%E2%80%91benz-new-all-electric-ecitaro-bus/

    Another article also mentions EV artics, so maybe some hope.

    BTW don't read the comments in the above article, damn so many of those people are dumb!


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    Surely for carpark shuttles all that's needed is fairly basic bus with no fancy features. As much as I don't like the way Dublin Coach run their bus service I will admit I regularly use Quickpark and if doesn't bother me the way they use mostly old Citaros on it as it's only a 5 minute journey.

    Electric buses probably make sense for carpark shuttles due the fuel savings as the bus wouldn't be wasting charge by going on long trips.

    Dublin Airport already has Ireland's first full EV bus:

    https://irishtechnews.ie/crowne-plaza-hotel-dublin-airport-orders-irelands-first-electric-bus-with-esb-providing-the-ev-charging-solution/

    I get the impression that the Airport like to be ahead of things on environmental and social issues. They previously pushed hard for all coaches to be wheelchair accessible and rumour has it they want all buses EV.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    bk wrote: »

    That belongs to the Crowne Plaza at Dublin Airport (Top hotel btw!), not Dublin Airport.
    bk wrote: »
    Looks like Mercedes are working on eCitaro's:

    https://electrek.co/2018/07/10/mercedes%E2%80%91benz-new-all-electric-ecitaro-bus/

    Another article also mentions EV artics, so maybe some hope.

    Question is though will they make a left hand side version? The bendy bus market is very niche in the UK now and very few are ordered per year so it's hard to see much money in it. For example at one point Mercedes went several years without a single order for artics. The chassis and bus development cost etc would probably not justify it.

    I can see them certainly releasing left hand drive Electric Rigid Citaros because there is plenty of demand for that and they'll be happy to build standard articulated Citaros, just don't think there is any money in converting an EV Citaro to left hand drive because the UK and Ireland rarely order such vehicles. Many airports are just ordering rigids these days, even if that's a backward step.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    devnull wrote: »
    That belongs to the Crowne Plaza at Dublin Airport (Top hotel btw!), not Dublin Airport.

    Yep, though it seems to be driven by DAA policy. I just came across this policy DAA have on LEV's:

    https://www.dublinairport.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/low-emission-vehicle-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

    It says they will "encourage" all operators around the airport to go LEV

    They also say:
    Dublin Airport will convert its bus operations to the lowest available emission vehicles. 100% by 2022
    devnull wrote: »
    Question is though will they make a left hand side version? The bendy bus market is very niche in the UK now and very few are ordered per year so it's hard to see much money in it. For example at one point Mercedes went several years without a single order for artics. The chassis and bus development cost etc would probably not justify it.

    I can see them certainly releasing left hand drive Electric Rigid Citaros because there is plenty of demand for that and they'll be happy to build standard articulated Citaros, just don't think there is any money in converting an EV Citaro to left hand drive because the UK and Ireland rarely order such vehicles. Many airports are just ordering rigids these days, even if that's a backward step.

    Yep, could be, a real pity the artic market is so poor in UK/Ireland. But understandable due to the dominance of double deckers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,280 ✭✭✭ dowlingm
    Registered User


    Have doubts that getting rid of Greyhound necessarily means disposing Aircoach - very different markets and regulatory setups, and thus economic models.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ soundman45
    Registered User


    It was mentioned in an earlier post the Go Ahead might purchase Aircoach in order to get a depot location on the northside, surely they must have something nearly ready by now and also the Aircoach depot is barely fit for purpose as it only takes in a bus to refuel and its sent out again on another duty, they have minimal bus parking for their fleet and use Crystal Clean to wash the buses. GA would need a much larger premises.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    dowlingm wrote: »
    Have doubts that getting rid of Greyhound necessarily means disposing Aircoach - very different markets and regulatory setups, and thus economic models.

    As well as saying that they would be selling Greyhound, they have confirmed that their non US Bus operations are also to be separated from the group so that would most certainly include Aircoach.
    soundman45 wrote: »
    It was mentioned in an earlier post the Go Ahead might purchase Aircoach in order to get a depot location on the northside, surely they must have something nearly ready by now and also the Aircoach depot is barely fit for purpose as it only takes in a bus to refuel and its sent out again on another duty, they have minimal bus parking for their fleet and use Crystal Clean to wash the buses. GA would need a much larger premises.

    Of course there is not much space up there, but even if Go-Ahead could store half a dozen or so vehicles up there it would help them for their Northside routes. It doesn't need to be a fully fledged depot. In addition with Aircoach running coach services primarily focusing on the South side of Dublin, a few coaches could be stabled at Ballymount when not in use, but I realise there is only a few hours a day that they won't be.

    I'm not saying it's ideal since Aircoach don't need an extensive depot as unlike Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, they operate the same timetable 7 days a week 364 days a year and all their services are pretty much 24 hours, but I can see that there is some logic in it and out of the possible Irish buyers, Go-Ahead would be the one which would be the best fit who could afford to.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ soundman45
    Registered User


    I read an article today I think in the Indo that DAA are looking to increase the number of coaches serving Dublin Airport and are in talks with current providers and are willing to offer free use of bus stops at the Airport with no departure fees etc. If Aircoach is for sale we have some major players here also that could bid ie Matthews, JJ Kavanagh, Eirebus etc all have big wallets.


  • Registered Users Posts: 134 ✭✭ belfast stephen
    Registered User


    just a side note i see Aircoach have close there pasanger office in the Mall in Glengall street in Belfast


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,308 ✭✭✭ embraer170
    Registered User


    soundman45 wrote: »
    I read an article today I think in the Indo that DAA are looking to increase the number of coaches serving Dublin Airport and are in talks with current providers and are willing to offer free use of bus stops at the Airport with no departure fees etc. If Aircoach is for sale we have some major players here also that could bid ie Matthews, JJ Kavanagh, Eirebus etc all have big wallets.

    How about improving the coach facility? it is pretty dreadful.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ soundman45
    Registered User


    just a side note i see Aircoach have close there pasanger office in the Mall in Glengall street in Belfast

    And the should have set up something along Patricks Quay in Cork for passengers to pre purchase tickets and a basic waiting room etc that would also have increased passenger numbers further.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    devnull wrote: »
    As well as saying that they would be selling Greyhound, they have confirmed that their non US Bus operations are also to be separated from the group so that would most certainly include Aircoach.

    I wonder would be likely to sell off their entire UK and Irish bus operation to a single entity or sub divide it up into different parts and sell it off bit by bit. If the former it could be the case where one operator buys them over including their Aircoach operation although this may not get approved by competition authorities in the UK especially if it's an already established operator within the UK.
    Of course there is not much space up there, but even if Go-Ahead could store half a dozen or so vehicles up there it would help them for their Northside routes. It doesn't need to be a fully fledged depot. In addition with Aircoach running coach services primarily focusing on the South side of Dublin, a few coaches could be stabled at Ballymount when not in use, but I realise there is only a few hours a day that they won't be.

    I'm not saying it's ideal since Aircoach don't need an extensive depot as unlike Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, they operate the same timetable 7 days a week 364 days a year and all their services are pretty much 24 hours, but I can see that there is some logic in it and out of the possible Irish buyers, Go-Ahead would be the one which would be the best fit who could afford to.

    I would take the Go-Ahead rumours with somewhat a pinch of salt considering GA don't have a huge amount of expierence with coach operations in general over in the UK it will certainly be interesting to see how their BE operations go.

    Although GAI will likely come up with any rumours when it comes to any tenders or operators up for sale due to them being one of the few international operators to dip their toe into the Irish market just like Transdev and First were long rumoured to be the chosen operator to win the contract for DB routes before GAI ended up entering the Irish market and winning the contract.

    I wonder what would be likelihood of the intercity Cork and Belfast operations and their Dublin operations to be split up for a potential sale. GAI would be better placed for their Dublin operation due the fact their routes are mostly relatively short in distance and Dublin focused and may make it a more affordable prospect for indigenous interest from the likes of Dualway, Dublin Coach, Eirebus, Matthews, Mortons, JJK etc.

    While their long distance operations could attract more international interest as I wonder would the likes of the new European bus operators such as Flixbus be interested especially in their Intercity routes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,796 ✭✭✭ Isambard
    Registered User


    devnull wrote: »
    If you're talking about the X90 and the Airline routes then that's a pretty uninspiring route, with a poor livery, poor marketing and seating that is nothing to really shout about, it comes across as a bus company trying to run a coach route, which is exactly what it is. The vehicles are uninspiring Plaxtons as well.

    shame...Oxford Souith Midlnad were amongst the best and most innovative National Bus Companies.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,796 ✭✭✭ Isambard
    Registered User


    from various bus groups on fb, the smart money is on the whole company being sold in one block. I doubt anyone really knows at this stage.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    According to Aircoach on social media there was some fake news going around that their services had been suspended which turns out to be bs and all services are running normally. Could the rumours be something to do with this?


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    According to Aircoach on social media there was some fake news going around that their services had been suspended which turns out to be bs and all services are running normally. Could the rumours be something to do with this?

    Weird one, seems it was mentioned on radio news!

    Non of us are saying that Aircoach are going anywhere. It is a highly profitable company (4.7m profit last year). We were speculating that the parent company might sell it on as a going concern, but they certainly wouldn't shout it down, that is a mad idea!

    I suppose it is possible they could pull out on the Belfast route, given the strong competition there, focus their coaches elsewhere. But no signs of that happening.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,286 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull
    Moderator


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    According to Aircoach on social media there was some fake news going around that their services had been suspended which turns out to be bs and all services are running normally. Could the rumours be something to do with this?

    No. It's people misunderstanding a poorly worded tweet about their Dublin telephone line being down. Nothing more nothing less.


  • Registered Users Posts: 134 ✭✭ belfast stephen
    Registered User


    cant see them pulling there belfast Route its always busy and carries good passanger numbers


  • Registered Users Posts: 765 ✭✭✭ Mr.Frame
    Registered User


    soundman45 wrote: »
    I read an article today I think in the Indo that DAA are looking to increase the number of coaches serving Dublin Airport and are in talks with current providers and are willing to offer free use of bus stops at the Airport with no departure fees etc. If Aircoach is for sale we have some major players here also that could bid ie Matthews, JJ Kavanagh, Eirebus etc all have big wallets.

    Hi ,
    Would you by any chance have a link to the above article ?
    Thanks


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk
    Moderator


    Mr.Frame wrote: »
    Hi ,
    Would you by any chance have a link to the above article ?
    Thanks

    I assume this:
    https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/dublin-airport-will-offer-incentives-for-buses-to-provide-24hour-services-38169461.html


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  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ soundman45
    Registered User


    Mr.Frame wrote: »
    Hi ,
    Would you by any chance have a link to the above article ?
    Thanks

    Just google Aircoach for sale, get all the links and info then.


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