Monthly Archives: December 2007

Website Tied to New Southwest Airlines’ Advertising Campaign

One of the side effects of watching too much football over the holidays is that you also get to see a lot of Southwest Airlines’ commercials — the result of Southwest being an official sponsor of the NFL.

Interestingly, most of the spots I’ve seen over the last two weeks have been older “wanna get away” spots.

However, there was one spot that did not fit.

I had read that the airline planned to roll out a new advertising/marketing campaign in support of their new “business traveler” push this next week, as part of their BCS Bowl series sponsorship.

Well, last week, I think someone either goofed in spot scheduling at one of the networks — or there was a deliberate early look scheduled of a commercial that appears to be tied to the new, as yet unveiled Southwest Airlines campaign. The commercial, which was a little strange, pointed viewers to a web site.

Wanna see the site?

Here you go. Don’t say I didn’t give you anything for Christmas.

BeMoreProductive.com.

Productive

Yes, you can see a video of the same commercial I saw on the site. There is absolutely no ID on the site that ties the site to Southwest Airlines– but I don’t think I was hallucinating when I saw “Southwest Airlines” in small print on the ad when it first ran.

I’m mute about all of this for now — need to see how it all fits together this week. But clearly the concept is that flying the “new” Southwest will make you more productive.

Guess I need to send the New Orleans Saints on an “around the country” tour on Southwest if that is the case.

Oh well. There’s always next season.

Ticker: (NYSE:LUV)

United Airlines’ Pilots “Apologize” for the Airline

Oh, my gosh. Are the holidays already almost over?

Alas, I do believe they are. Alas, this also means my brief respite from commenting on the trials and tribulations of this wacky industry we love for some strange reason is coming to a close.

Sniff. Sniff.

Yes, airline fans, PlaneBusiness Banter will return later this week, after our usual holiday hiatus.

And, if PBB is back, that means I’ll be hanging around here again.

Woo hoo!

But not before we watch more football.

Hey, we have our priorities straight.

But you know, some things just call you back home.

And today, a full page ad in the Chicago Tribune had that siren call effect on yours truly.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been rather amused at how the mainstream media, for the most part, has taken the United Airlines public stance on the airline’s continuing problem of cancellations — and run with it.

Yes, well, those of us in the industry know better, don’t we?

I think we only need to go back to this summer and the problems with Northwest Airlines to understand the blueprint for what has been going on with United the last week or so.

It’s pretty simple. This is what happens when you have crew scheduling set with no margin of error, you add a little dash of bad weather, and you have a management team who, unfortunately, assumes that it will be able to count on a lot of pilots “volunteering” to fly more during the holidays.

Right.

This isn’t just about “bad weather.”

Given what said management team has done for the employees at the airline the last couple of years — I find it hard to understand why no one in management at United would not expect what we have seen happening at United.

And in case some people needed a bit of help in understanding this — the United Airlines’ pilots ran this full page add in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Hap, I say, Happ, I say, Happy New Year Everyone!

Tribune Final Ad Dec 30 2007

Ticker: (Nasdaq:UAUA)

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A Very UnMerry Christmas for the Folks at MAXjet; Airline Shuts Down

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We all saw this coming didn’t we? Especially after the airline recently halted trading in its shares on the Alternative London Stock Exchange. The company said at the time that it was “seeking new financing,” but with oil reaching new all-time highs — this shutdown should not have come as a surprise to many.

Still — it’s Christmas Eve. Not a good day to shut the doors and file for Chapter 11. Then again, I guess no day is a good day.

The airline is to be commended however, for trying to take care of its passengers.

According to press reports, and based on what the airline has posted on its own website, “MAXjet has contracted with Eos Airlines for seats on Eos’ scheduled all-Premium service to accommodate passengers awaiting a return flight between New York and London. Passengers needing return travel between London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas will be contacted regarding their flight re-accommodations. Any customers who choose to make flight accommodations directly should seek a refund from their point of purchase (credit card or travel agency) for the unused leg of their journey. We have also secured hotel rooms in London, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles through early January 2008 which we will provide to affected passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted.”

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Midweek Holiday Update: No, I’m Not Grouchy

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Someone wrote me yesterday and accused me of being grouchy in my last post.

I wasn’t being grouchy. Was I?

Well okay, here’s some “uplifting” travel-related comments from my recent foray to Dallas.

The new boarding procedure at Southwest? It works. I have no complaints. Although it seemed to work better at Love Field — maybe because the gate agent reminded folks that there was no longer any need to stand in line in advance. In New Orleans, the entire gate area decided to try and figure out where they were supposed to stand, way before the folks had even deplaned from the aircraft that had just landed. Made for more of a “cattle call” experience than in the past.

But nah, I thought the new boarding system at Love Field worked quite well.

Mesa Air Group Set to Release Fourth Quarter Results Dec. 28



Other miscellaneous notes of interest before we sign off to go work on Christmas-related ventures — as we reported last week in PlaneBusiness Banter, Mesa Air Group had not filed its 10-k for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, nor had they asked for an extension. By our calculations, last Friday was the deadline.

Friday, the airline did ask for an extension. Then yesterday the airline announced that it will release its fourth quarter results and hold an earnings call to discuss those results next Friday, Dec. 28.

Nothing like releasing earnings during a dead period of the year. Much less on the Friday before New Years.

Interested listeners will be able to access the call at http://www.mesa-air.com. A replay of the call will be available at 1-800-282-7027,

11:00 a.m. ET.

Flight Caps, Auctions, and More Military Airspace Access



Meanwhile, the DOT announced today what we had all anticipated — it says it is now working with airlines to come up with a plan for “voluntary” flight caps at both Newark and JFK International Airports. The DOT also said today that it also expects to auction off new slots at Newark and JFK (this could get interesting) and that the U.S. military has given its okay to allow commercial air traffic in selected military air space up and down the East and West coasts, in an attempt to ease flight delays.

Show Us Your Tails

The WSJ reports today that the rudders of about 420 older Airbus aircraft are being subjected to

repetitive ultrasonic and other enhanced inspections, “the first time airlines and safety regulators have resorted to such recurring, high-tech procedures to determine the integrity of composite parts on airliners already in service.”

The story continues,

“The stepped-up inspection program, recommended by Airbus months ago and then reaffirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency through a mandatory directive, calls for the first enhanced rudder checks to be completed within six months or 500 flights. Some inspections on certain planes must be

repeated every 1,400 flights, a relatively short compliance schedule for checking structural integrity of primary flight structures.

The enhanced inspections, including ultrasound, X-rays and other techniques, stem from a March 2005 incident in which an Air Transat Airbus A310 suddenly lost its rudder over the Caribbean while flying from Cuba to Quebec. There were no injuries, and the plane returned safely to Cuba. But as a result,

the plane’s manufacturer, Canadian air-safety investigators and European regulators began investigating what, if any, additional inspection requirements were necessary to safeguard the integrity of such rudders used on early model Airbus aircraft.

While the changes primarily affect a relatively small number of older twin-engine A300s and A310s, they nevertheless represent a significant break from longstanding Airbus-developed maintenance standards for composite materials. Before the incident, Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., and European regulators maintained that simple visual inspections, combined with a mechanic’s manually tapping on the surface of the composite rudders, were adequate to detect any potentially hazardous internal flaws or structural weaknesses.

But now for the first time, high-tech inspections methods are being required — and must be repeated during the life of a what Airbus described as a “limited number” of Airbus jets — to assure long-term rudder integrity. A spokesman for Airbus U.S. operations said only a small number of affected aircraft are flown by U.S. carriers. Spokesman Clay McConnell said about 400 A300 and A310 aircraft are covered by the added inspections, along with 20 wide-body Airbus A330 and A340 jetliners. Mr. McConnell said Airbus changed its rudder-manufacturing process before the 2005 incident.”



Tickers: (Nasdaq:Mesa); (NYSE:LUV)

Ho Ho Ho — Merry Christmas….Where’s My Bag?

Or something like that.

Hey guys. Just walked in the door of the Worldwide Headquarters. Was in the airline capital of the world, Dallas-Ft.Worth this weekend — and well, let’s just say I was not as “connected” as I usually am.

Speaking of the Dallas Metroplex, how many folks have experienced the “newly redesigned and upgraded” baggage claim area at Love Field?

Did ringers for American Airlines infiltrate this project in an attempt to make life for Southwest Airlines’ passengers miserable?

I landed at Love Field Friday afternoon and I have never seen such a mess. The new electronic signs that were supposed to tell you which belt your bag was on were not working right. After waiting patiently at the area under the orange electronic wonder board that said, “New Orleans,” you guessed it. No bag.

I finally grabbed one of the folks wandering around with a clipboard — and he informed me which belt the bags were on. No, this was not the belt that had been under where it had previously said, “New Orleans.”

Then again, by this time, “New Orleans” was nowhere to be found on any electronic screen.

Sigh.

If there was anything that was more dependable in this wacky industry than the baggage claim area at Love Field, I don’t know what it it used to be. More often than not, your bags were there before you got there.

Is nothing sacred?

When I asked the young man with the clipboard, (frankly I didn’t note whether he worked for the airport or Southwest, but I believe he worked for the airport)  why the boards were not working correctly, I was told, “Well, you know…… it’s raining.”

I let it go. What that had to do with the electronic boards not showing flights correctly I’m not  sure. I guess the wiring gets wet and the boards then short out? (Okay, yes, I’m being smart ass. Don’t send me notes and tell me how this is not a possibility!)

But that comment came back to bite me later when I opened my bag to take out the clothes I was going to sleep in.

You guessed it.

They were soaked.

Ugh.

Talk to you guys later. I’m off to unpack, read a slew of emails, and hopefully watch the Bears beat Minnesota. (Playoff implications for the New Orleans Saints forcing my hand in this one.)

JetBlue Deal Official: Listen to the Webcast

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JetBlue has now made it official. Lufthansa is taking up to a 19% stake in the airline. Have more questions? You can can them answered this afternoon by listening to a webcast by JetBlue. The call will be held at 4:30 ET. You can listen to the call live at the JetBlue’s investor relations web page.

For those unable to listen to the live webcast, it will also be archived on JetBlue’s investor relations website under ‘Audio Archives’ following the conference call.

Ticker: (Nasdaq:JBLU)