PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. This week we take a close look at the recent 4Q14 earnings posted by Virgin America. It was the first earnings call for the company, which rolled out an IPO in November. While the IPO certainly helped to clean a lot of ugly stuff from the airline’s balance sheet, the airline has its work cut out for it as it goes head to head with Southwest out of Love Field, and it faces more pressure on its transcon routes.

We’ll give you the take from three analysts on the results — and then we throw in our $0.02 for good measure.

We also talk a lot this week about our recent visit with management at United Airlines. While our sessions were off the record in regard to a lot of topics, I think subscribers will still find enough interesting material to get a good feel for what the visit was like.

Oh, and yes, I finally got my official PGA  plaid socks! I’ll be modeling them in the next issue of PBB. 

Last week we sat in on the American Airlines Leadership Conference. Again — this event was also off the record, but we can talk about a few things….including some things that I was most happy to hear.

We have an update this week on the Open Skies report. It now appears that the report  the three major U.S. airlines have been working on for the last two years will finally be allowed to go public next week. I can’t wait.

As for airline stocks, last week was a pretty good week for the sector, with shares of Delta Air Lines leading the sector. Meanwhile, shares of Bombardier dropped again — as more talk of a potential bankruptcy of the transportation company hit the media. Then again, it sounds like the Canadian government would be more than happy to help with financial assistance.

What a mess.

Southwest Airlines got hit again by the FAA on Tuesday for failure to perform required checks on it aircraft. The airline and the FAA still have not come to terms on the last proposed fine — for again essentially not doing what it was supposed to do. I fully expect that we’ll see a fine levied for this latest breach by the FAA as well.

Over the last ten years, no U.S. airline has been fined more by the FAA than Southwest. 

I would strongly suggest that perhaps something needs to change over on Denton Drive.

All that, and so much more, in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone! This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we do our  in-depth review of 4Q earnings from Spirit, Skywest, and Air Canada. We also have the PlaneBusiness Earnings Summary for Virgin America, which reported earnings Wednesday. We’ll talk more about those results  next week.

In other news, did you catch the sharp drop in Bombardier’s shares last week? The company reported 4Q14 earnings, along with a whole lot of other news, including a departure of a CEO, an admission that it needs more cash; and more. Shares of the Canadian transportation company took a serious hit as a result — and rightfully so.

But the most talked about news of the week was the interview of Delta Air Lines‘ CEO Richard Anderson by CNN’s Richard Quest.

The subject — a more than two year research effort by the U.S major carriers that attempts to document the illegal subsidies that the three Middle Eastern carriers have benefited from.

Unfortunately Richard decided to take the Fox News approach — and link the Middle Eastern carriers to those who carried out the attacks of 9/11.

Wrong message. Completely.

We’ve see the documentation that the airlines have presented to the DOT, and we talk this week about our opinion on all of this.

Meanwhile, on the stock side, shares of Expedia flew off the charts last week, pushed by news of its deal to buy Orbitz. We give you our take on this news as well.

As usual, all this and more in this next-to-last earnings issue for the quarter of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone! This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

It’s another heavy earnings week issue this week as we take an in-depth look at the recent 4Q14 earnings reported by American Airlines, JetBlue, Allegiant, and Hawaiian. We also have the PlaneBusiness Earnings Summary for WestJet, which reported earnings Tuesday.

So which airline surprised us with their report — and not in a good way? That would be Hawaiian Airlines. If you’re wondering why shares of the stock fell of a cliff after the airline reported earnings, we’ll tell you why.

As for American, while some investors decided that lower-than-anticipated RASM guidance for 1Q15 was something to get worried about, (and one analyst actually downgraded the stock as a result of concerns over short-term sluggishness) I am not worried.

For that matter, Delta Air Lines announced lower than expected PRASM estimates for December on Tuesday.

Things are sluggish out there right now.

Now American has both its pilots and its flight attendants set with new JCBAs, the airline can devote more time and attention to other integration issues.

Best integration news we heard in the call? The airline has almost completed all the steps necessary to obtain single carrier status.

We were happy with JetBlue’s call as well. I like the attitude of the new management team. I think whatever drama has been sitting over the management team at JetBlue has finally left the building. That is a good thing.

Allegiant? What can I say? I hate the business model. But the airline continues to make money. With fuel dropping, it is only going to make more money.

We also talk about the situation developing with alliances — particularly with the Middle Eastern carriers, European carriers and U.S. partners. In case you missed it, Qatar announced a 10% stake in IAG Holdings last week, and today Korean Airlines announced a codeshare deal with American on Seoul/DFW routes. Why is this a big deal? Because Korean is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance. Not sure what the folks in Atlanta think about this development.

All of this, and more, including the latest update on oil prices, in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings. Long time no talk. My apologies. I attempted to upgrade our version of WordPress for the blog last week and ended up, apparently, eliminating the post announcing that last week’s issue had been posted.

Bad Holly. I was clearly out of practice.

Yes, well, that brings us to this week, our second back in the saddle since our usual three-week Holiday Hiatus.

This week we’re talking about 4Q14 earnings. Delta Air Lines rolled out of the gates today with their numbers. They were in-line. I didn’t hear anything on the airline’s call that was out of line. However, with the dramatic drop in the price of fuel, the airline is now on the wrong side of some pretty major fuel hedges.

Followers know what I think about fuel hedges. I think the practice should be discarded, or if used, used only minimally.

Note that United Airlines just shed some of their hedges. And of course American Airlines has no hedges. They sold them all off shortly after the merger was completed.

Southwest Airlines,  on the other hand, does continue to hedge.

This Thursday, United, Southwest, and Alaska will report 4Q14 numbers. Next week we get to hear from Hawaiian Airlines,  Allegiant, JetBlue and American Airlines.

It’s going to be, for the most part, a record breaking earnings season. For one reason — oil.

In other news, we take yet another look at the JCBA that the pilots at American are currently voting on. Last week we took a long look at how we go to where we are now. This week I give you my take after wading through a raft of domicile blasts, talking to pilots on both sides, and members of management at American.

In a rather surprising move, we also had a lot of emails this week from unhappy Southwest Airlines pilots. I mentioned the union negotiations at the airline rather briefly last week, but it was enough to generate a healthy response.

It looks like the question on the labor side for 2015 is: which is going to be the biggest story of the year — the IAM’s attempt to gain representation of the flight attendants at Delta Air Lines, or the ongoing labor situation at Southwest?

FYI, the IAM is putting on one hell of a representational effort at Delta. Take a look at the union’s IAM Delta website if you don’t believe me. I don’t believe I’ve seen a more professionally designed site for a representational effort by any union.

In other news we talk about Bombardier’s woes, the newly launched Airbus A321LR, the first commercial A350 WXB Qatar flight, and United’s about-to-be-announced deal for at least 10 Boeing 777-300ERs.

As for airline stocks, it was as rather slow week, not a lot to report on that front, other than the 26% plus decline in shares of Bombardier. 

We also have a great look this week at the most recent comments from three of Wall Street’s top airline analysts — their look at 4Q14 and their look out to 2015 and which stocks they like.

All of this, and much, much, more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted

hollyxmasHello everyone! The last issue of PlaneBusiness Banter for 2014 is now posted.

We are talking about a lot of things this week — labor, oil prices, dropping fares in DFW, the Business Travel News Corporate Airline Survey, our trip to Atlanta to present to the Delta Air Lines Corporate Sales year-end event, the BTN Hall of Fame dinner in New York last week, the arbitration award involving the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and American Airlines, the latest update on negotiations between the airline and its pilots, and oh…so much more.

Unfortunately it was not that good a week for airline stocks — after Spirit Airlines spooked the industry with its less-than-expected traffic report last week. While the airline said it was thought the industry might be moving to a “price based on fuel and not demand model” most analysts claim this is not the case.

But one thing is clear. Fares are dropping sharply in the DFW area, as capacity has ballooned — the result of the demise of the Wright Amendment, upgauging of service by Delta into Love Field, and new service from Virgin America out of Love Field.

We also have our signature holiday column this week — our letters from airline CEOs to Santa, the latest DOT numbers, and a really terrific guest column that follows up on the recent column on the American re-banking of its MIA hub by PlaneBusiness Contributing Editor Brett Snyder.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays….and Happy New Year!

PlaneBusiness Banter will return on January 12!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1The Turkey Week edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we get you up to speed on all the latest machinations in the airline industry, although it has been a pretty slow week. Something to do with that holiday on Thursday.

On the labor front, while originally the airline had said it was going to proffer arbitration last Friday,  as of this writing  the pilots and American Airlines are apparently still talking — no arbitration yet. Sounds like negotiations will continue next week.

Over at Southwest Airlines, the pilots asked the NMB for help with their negotiations last week. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time the pilot group has asked for help from the NMB.

In our column this week we talk about profit sharing. Why employees like it, why they understand it, and why we think that American’s stance against profit sharing is a mistake.

On the corporate travel front, we have the results from the latest Morgan Stanley Corporate Travel Survey. I’ll give you a hint. Delta Air Lines did very well.

On the stock front, shares of Virgin America once again led the group last week. All in all it was a rather so-so week for the sector.

On the exec front, Wal-Mart announced this week that former American CEO Tom Horton  is a new member of its BOD; while John Tague, former President of United Airlines, is the new CEO at Hertz. 

Frontier announced an order for bigger aircraft last week, Norwegian is back on the offensive, and the TWU, which represents the baggage handlers at Southwest Airlines, are making noise.

All this and much, much, more in this week’s Turkey Week edition of PlaneBusiness Banter

 

 

Holly

November 11, 2014

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings! It has been one hell of a day here at the PlaneBusiness Worldwide Headquarters. American Airlines’ flight attendants voted down their TA this weekend, management at American issued its JCBA proposal to the pilots at the airline earlier today (with a twist), we have three in-depth earnings reports this week on SkyWest, Republic Holdings and Allegiant Travel, a comprehensive book review of Ted and Dan Reed’s new book on the American Airlines/US Airways merger, and we get you up to speed with what we were doing at Duke last week with the Travelport Ignite event, and what we were doing the week before when we visited with the folks at Delta Air Lines.  

All this and much, much, more, including the details on the Virgin America IPO.

It is one intense issue. That’s all I can say.

PlaneBusiness Banter subscribers can access the issue here. 

 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. The latest edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

This week we bring you up to speed with in-depth earnings reviews of 3Q14 earnings reported by JetBlue, Spirit, and Hawaiian Airlines. We also have earnings summaries posted for SkyWest and Republic Holdings, both of which reported 3Q14 earnings last week.

Meanwhile yours truly was the guest of Delta Air Lines last week. I attended the Chairman’s Club Dinner Thursday night (which was spectacular) and spent all Friday meeting with execs at the airline. I’ll talk more about my time with the Widget folks in next week’s issue. My favorite part of the visit? Had too many to count. Sitting down and talking airlines with CEO Richard Anderson for almost an hour and a half was at the top of the list. But one of my other favorites was getting to sit in on the morning operations call with everyone calling in from stations hither and yon and everyone else in the room. No hiding. No “Oh you can’t say that because she’s here.” Nope. I heard it all. My thanks to Dave Holtz, VP Ops Control at Delta. You are the man.

But then there was the visit with the guys at Tech Ops, and well….it was just a fabulous visit. Like I said, I’ll be talking about it more in next week’s issue.

Tonight (Monday), I am at Duke University, where I am participating in the first Travelport Ignite discussion conference for thought leaders in the travel industry. The conference kicked off tonight with a fabulous interview of Bob Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines by the Dean of the Fuqua School of Business, William Boulding. The event continues tomorrow at the Fuqua School of Business.

It was a great week last week for airline stocks. We tell you who the big winners were.

And of course it was also Halloween. We have a few photographs of the antics from Dallas last week — both from Southwest, and this year of course, American Airlines. Yep, there is definitely something different in the air.

All this and more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1What is another word for….exhaustion? The latest edition of PlaneBusiness Banter, which I think probably runs at least 80 pages printed out — is now posted.

Yes, it is earnings time. That lovely time of year that rolls around every three months. This week we have in-depth looks at the recent earnings results from United Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Air Group and Southwest Airlines. 

Short and sweet? No real big surprises, although Southwest and United spooked some investors with their less than expected PRASM guidance. But both airlines posted strong 3Q14 numbers.

As for American Airlines, the airline continues to post very strong margins and nice fat profits — while still very much in the early stages of its merger. Excellent job. Give these guys another year and who knows how much money they will be making.

Alaska Air Group? These guys just will not be stopped. Not by Virgin America. Not by Allegiant. And not, it appears,  by Delta Air Lines either.  Alaska posted an excellent quarter with nothing short of mind-blowing margins — while it continues to fight the increase in capacity in its home turf from Delta. 

Yes, in case you missed that movie a while back — we’re pretty certain the plotline went something like this. Delta says to Alaska, “Stop codesharing with American Airlines or we’ll huff and we’ll puff and we’ll blow your house down.”

Alaska responded, as best we can tell by essentially saying, “Bring it on.”

Fun to watch.

In addition to all the earnings fun this week, our curiosity was piqued by some comments that Scott Hamilton with the Leeham Group made this week. Those comments? Instead of buying new Boeing or Airbus widebodies, could Delta Air Lines maybe purchase some pre-owned Boeing 777-200ERs? Interesting thing to ponder. He might very well be right. That RFP is still hanging, and in Delta’s 3Q14 earnings call last week, CEO Richard Anderson discussed the RRP and talked about ownership costs, and this and that and ….the upshot is….. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Delta looking at some used widebodied aircraft. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

We presented at the Business Travel News “Travel Trends and Forecast” event last week in Chicago. My friends at United Airlines should be happy. Not only did I have two excellent flights on the airline last week, but there was a very palpable uptick in the positive feedback about the airline from the corporate travel manager group to whom I spoke. Much better than a year ago. The airline still needs to become more consistent in its operations  – but there is progress being made.

Fantastic week last week for the airline sector. We’ll update everyone on who did what.

All this, and lots and lots and lots more — in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

Delta Air Lines kicked off the 3Q14 earnings season last week. The airline reported in-line earnings — beating analyst consensus by a couple of pennies.

Net income was $357 million or $0.42. Excluding items, net income rocketed to just over $1 billion, or $1.20. The analyst consensus forecast had been for EPS of $1.18, so the airline came in pretty much in line.

The airline disclosed no real surprises in its earnings call, but there were some fireworks when JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker pushed CEO Richard Anderson on the subject of capacity.

If that wasn’t enough, one of the industry’s most energetic analysts, and the analyst who recently downgraded shares of Delta Air Lines, Hunter Keay with Wolfe Research, was not on the call. We’ll fill you in on why that was the case.

In other news, airline stocks rebounded last week from their Ebola sell-off madness, we get you updated on the craziness that is surrounding the tentative agreement vote for the American Airlines flight attendants, there was a recent change at the top at ExpressJet, and much, much more.

All in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter