Subscribers can now access this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter here.
Okay, so did any of you sit, stand, or crouch in line for days to get an iPhone? Go ahead. I won’t think you were (are) nuts. Amazing. A friend of mine was outside the Apple Store in Manhattan about an hour ago and wrote me a note about what a zoo it was.
Just amazing what gets people excited these days.
Oh, hey, and just for the record. No, I lust after one as well. But I’m going to wait. Oh, wait, that reminds me. My two-year cell contract just expired.
Let me get back to work. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter will be posted later tonight. Let me get back to the final edits.
Talk to you in a few.
Press Release Number One: “Delta Air Lines is working with customers booked on flights traveling to or from select cities in the Northeastern U.S. to make adjustments to travel schedules in preparation for severe summer weather expected in the region later today. <snip> Delta’s focus is always the comfort and safety of our customers and we will continue to work to mitigate ongoing air traffic control-related congestion and delays. However, today’s storms are another example of why it is critical that Congress act to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system,” said Joe Kolshak, Delta’s executive vice president and chief of operations. “It’s fundamentally unfair to our customers that we are operating in a system that was built in the 1940s and can’t accommodate today’s air travel demand without costly and frustrating delays and congestion that are beyond our control. The FAA has presented a plan to Congress that helps ensure airline passengers are provided with an updated, 21st century air traffic control system. We urge Congress to approve the FAA’s plan to increase airspace capacity, especially in the Northeast, and to get away from the status quo and act boldly to modernize our nation’s outdated air traffic control system.”
Okay, so we not only have a warning about bad weather, more or less blaming ATC for today’s potential delays, but an advertisement for the FAA funding bill. Nice.
Press Release Number Two: Delta Air Lines will continue its successful international expansion from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with five new nonstop flights to Central America and the Caribbean. The new flights are scheduled to begin between Dec. 13, 2007 and February 2008, and mark Delta’s largest expansion into the region from New York.
Translation: The system may be overcrowded, especially at JFK, but by God, our continued expansion there has absolutely nothing to do with it.
It’s entirely the ATC’s fault, remember?
Well, if I thought Southwest Airlines was going to give more details on just what they are going to do in regard to seating and boarding procedures, (which was highlighted in their press release), or that they were going to give more details about how they are going to go about attempting to “woo more business travelers,” in the meeting with analysts or in the press conference later, I was sorely mistaken.
Or, as Dan McKenzie, analyst with Credit Suisse said in his research note this morning, “Mgmt was purposefully vague & simply offered to release more details later this year.”
As McKenzie noted, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said yesterday that the airline is: committed to adding $1 billion in ancillary revs/yr by 2010 (but didn’t say how); slowing growth in 08 given a more cautious economic outlook (now 19 net deliveries vs. 34 previously); more upbeat about summer traffic trends; planning a new scheduling initiative that should result in better profitability; committed to more share repurchases; & continuing to target a 15% profit margin.
One good piece of news that came out yesterday on a local level for those of us still hanging on in New Orleans. Southwest is upping its flights from New Orleans to a number of destinations. More flights, especially nonstops, to anywhere, are much appreciated.
In looking over the list of flights Southwest is beefing up — it’s clear that as we had said earlier both here and in PBB, after it was clear a number of longhauls were about to be whacked — it appears the airline is adding capacity to shorter-haul flights. And to Denver. Wow — that big increase in service out of Denver cannot be good news for the folks at Frontier.
Ticker: (NYSE:LUV), (Nasdaq:FRNT)
According to the release,
“The airline will slow its fourth quarter 2007 available seat mile growth and optimize its flight schedule. In addition, Southwest announced it now plans to grow its fleet in 2008 by 19 net aircraft, 15 fewer than was previously reported. Kelly said slowing capacity growth will allow the carrier time to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of several initiatives Southwest intends to launch in fourth quarter 2007.
“Given the slowing U.S. economy and fuel cost pressures, we are taking these steps to adjust our capacity growth rate, which will help to restore profit growth,” Kelly said. “If we find that conditions change, we will reevaluate our growth plans for future periods. In this economic environment, we simply need to take less risk and grow more slowly.”
“For both fourth quarter 2007 and full year 2008, we currently plan to grow available seat miles (ASMs) year-over-year by approximately six percent, or about two percentage points less than previously reported. We also plan to implement a variety of revenue-enhancing initiatives by the end of 2007 that set the stage for continued profitability into the future,” he said.
During fourth quarter 2007, Kelly said Southwest plans to:
* Slow its available seat mile (ASM) growth to approximately six percent
* Enhance its low-fare structure
* Enhance its Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program
* Launch a new advertising campaign
* Unveil a new boarding/seating method”
Unveil a new boarding/seating method? OMG! NO! Tell me this isn’t so! ;-(
Kelly is holding a press conference/analyst call today at 12 noon Herb time (CDT). The call will be available as a webcast shortly thereafter on the airline’s website.
Unfortunately yours truly will be on her way to the airport at noon, dropping off my niece so she can catch her flight on ….Southwest Airlines back to Tampa. Ms. Haley came in to visit with her grandmother Monday. I think PlaneMom was the happiest I’ve seen her in months yesterday. Granddaughters have the ability to make that happen.
Good stuff. PlaneMom deserved a nice surprise.
But no question — as soon as I get back to the Worldwide Headquarters this afternoon, I’m pulling up the webcast of the press conference and taking a listen.
Talk to you guys later. Try to behave in the meantime.
While the press conference concerning the new service out of DFW is tomorrow, it was not today, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has the news. And it is what we had expected.
Tomorrow we should hear that British Airways is going to move its nonstop that currently flies from DFW to Gatwick over to Heathrow.
The new service will start after the new EU/U.S. “Open Skies” agreement kicks in — in March of next year.
Okay boys and girls — check out this link sent to us from a reader concerning the new airline sponsor of the Conan O’Brien Show.
Just wanted to check in briefly. I am literally out the door here in a minute or two. I’m a bit involved with family stuff today (and probably tomorrow), so don’t take it personally if I am a bit scarce. I’m not dissing you.
Meanwhile, I’ll be interested to see what DFW’s big announcement is regarding new international service this afternoon. I would think it has to involve British Airways since the announcement is being made from the UK, and not even Dallas. (Duh, a really good guess, eh?) Then again, there’s always Virgin. Nah…..
Other than that, keep cool, fly safe, and I’ll check in here later today to see what’s been going on.
A PlaneBusiness Banter subscriber sent us more information concerning the problems at Northwest today. Here’s an excerpt.
“There is anecdotal evidence that up to 1500 flights have been cancelled within a 2 week period. Crews are being rescheduled left and right and called at home on days off. Apparently there is a memo that has been sent to gate agents to tell passengers that flights are being cancelled for weather as opposed to crew shortages. Also some flights are being cancelled well ahead of schedule and showing up in the reservations system as a code other than crew shortages. All this going into our busiest, most profitable flying months.
The shortages are due to too many pilots being laid off during Ch11, and being called back too late and too slowly. One thing this shortage is NOT being caused by, and that is crews refusing to fly higher than normal hours. In fact crews are flying close to FAA limits, and many cancellations are occurring due to crews “timing out”. Many of the pilots commute to work and are have difficulty getting to base due to flight cancellations, adding insult to injury.”
Just my own personal two cents here.
I do know that when I was locked into LaGuardia two weeks ago — Northwest was cancelling flights left and right, while Delta and other carriers were only spot cancelling.