Monthly Archives: March 2008

Sad Day: As Expected, Aloha Airlines Announces Shutdown

Aloha

This week at the Phoenix Symposium, I couldn’t find one person who was optimistic about the chances of Aloha Airlines keeping the doors open beyond tomorrow.

This afternoon the airline confirmed the worst.

Aloha Airlines, which first began operations in 1946, will shut down operations tomorrow.

The airline’s cargo operation, which remains profitable, will continue to operate. In fact, the cargo operation is going to be auctioned next month. Saltchuk Resources out of Seattle, has already said that it intends to bid on the cargo operation.

PlaneBusiness Banter Posted Later Today

Home-Typewriter Copy-1-72

Hi guys.

As I advised PlaneBusiness Banter subscribers in last week’s issue, this week’s issue will be posted later today.

Why The delay? Because yours truly was at the Phoenix International Airline Symposium last week, which didn’t wrap up until Friday evening. So you can do the math. That left yesterday and today to get the current issue written, edited, and out the door.

Tomorrow? Hard to believe, but I actually return to the Worldwide Headquarters. Yep. I’ll be flying Continental Airlines back home tomorrow.

Piercing Airport Security

Godzilla.jpg A few days ago CNN.com reported a story about a woman who was forced to remove her nipple rings before being allowed to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on February 24th.
Wait, did I just write that?
The TSA Blog, called “Evolution of Security”, said that the 4 agents involved (2 male, 2 female) followed the proper procedures, but upon further review those procedures will be modified.
Ya think?
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If you want to have a chuckle you should check out the comments, which as of this writing totaled 171. I’d say the sentiment runs pretty strongly against the TSA in this case.
In response to the comments the TSA came out with an official Statement on the incident, which in part says -
“TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed. In the future TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question. TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself. We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.”
I recall a story a couple of years ago about a woman who was arrested for taking her top off at an airport security checkpoint after she set off the magnetometer. I guess it’s OK now as long as it is done during a “private” security screening. Perhaps that’s what the TSA means when it says “The Evolution of Security”. Let’s just cut to the chase and have all passengers completely disrobe and follow their carry on bags through the x-ray machine.
I’m joking of course, because treating physical security like this is a joke, but it’s not funny to those of us who must endure it when we travel. It isn’t the hard metal objects that are a danger to our safety on airplanes, it is those who would use these objects to harm us or others. Richard Reid tries to light a fuse on his Nike’s and we subsequently all take our shoes off for screening. The London crew decides to use liquid explosives in their failed endeavor, and subsequently all liquids must be a certain size and fit into a small baggie. This isn’t evolution; this is reactive, not proactive.
In the wrong hands a pencil is a lethal weapon, and it’s not even metal. Cell phones can be used to set off explosive devices. Following the premise that physical security must keep all dangerous objects off of commercial airplanes to it’s illogical conclusion, it becomes apparent that the safest alternative is to just ban all objects.
It isn’t necessary to invade privacy in order for the TSA to know the airline passengers a little better. The information provided to the airline in their reservation is sufficient. But until we get over the aversion to mingling airline reservations together and utilizing the simple information contained in the airline reservation to help focus the physical security more effectively, we will continue to read stories like the nipple ring incident.

Top Ten US Airways’ Excuses For Pilot’s Gun Going Off in the Cockpit

David Letterman

Compliments of David Letterman, and the Late Show Top Ten List Tuesday night.

10. Thought it would be fun to shoot empty liquor bottles.

9. Air traffic controller’s “Clear to land” misheard as “Squeeze off a “round.”

8. Media never reports when plane takes off and pilot’s gun doesn’t go off.

7. Pilot thought he saw one of them “Cloverfield” Godzillas — Buy “Cloverfield” on DVD April 22nd.

6. Oh, like you’ve never fired a weapon onboard a passenger plane before.

5. Don’t worry — His parole officer was in the cockpit.

4. Chillax, bro.

3. This is what happens when you let Dick Cheney fly a plane — Did you see it coming folks?

2. If you didn’t want gunplay, maybe you should have flown United!

1. Pilot distraught after picking Duke to win it all.

On the Road Again: Phoenix International Airline Symposium

Airline Industry-1

Hey guys.

Yep, it’s me. The one who’s been on what seems to be a continual road trip for the last month.

This week — we have the last stop on the Wings’ Traveling Roadshow.

This week I’m in Phoenix for the annual Phoenix International Airline Symposium.

As regular readers of mine know, this has become an annual visit for me. Actually, I think this is the 10th year I’ve attended and/or moderated or participated in a panel presentation here.

The event is sponsored by the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and is noteworthy in that participants at the event are discouraged from being too formal, too formally dressed, and powerpoint presentations are verboten!

You can check out a rundown of this year’s activities here.

Monday Musings on Skybus CEO Departures

Ht Skybus01 070521 Ssh

Hey guys. Sorry for the delay. Today was kind of a “personal day.” Had a bunch of stuff I needed to get done. So — I got them done.

Meanwhile, on the airline front — we had a CEO step down today.

Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer, aka the “Samurai Leader,” resigned today.

He is going to be replaced by the airline’s CFO, Mike Hodge — effective immediately.

But here was the priceless quote from the Columbus Dispatch concerning the resignation.

“Diffenderffer is stepping aside to return to writing books, a career he left in 2005 when he joined Skybus.”

Ahhhh, yeah. Okay. Guess this means I could step aside from PlaneBusiness and PlaneBuzz and start an airline. What do you think? Then when it began to run up continued losses, and it was clear the business plan was not going to work, I could just return to writing PlaneBuzz and PlaneBusiness.

For some reason I just don’t think this is the way it is supposed to work.

RIP the Samurai Leader.

A Real USAirways Misfire

Godzilla.jpgBesides an acquisition-from-hell, an unhappy workforce, and a giant rat outside of their Phoenix headquarters, USAirways has found another way to make negative news. This past Saturday one of their pilots accidentally discharged his weapon in the cockpit of a scheduled flight between Denver and Charlotte.
Understandably there was a flurry of opinion pieces chastising the airline, TSA, the pilot, and Charleton Heston, for allowing its pilots to legally carry a weapon onboard. I don’t want to get into a Second Amendment discussion here, but I was particularly amused by an airline pundit who wondered why the pilot had a bullet in the chamber to protect against the gun accidentally firing. If the weapon was a revolver then there really isn’t any choice but to have a bullet in the chamber, and a semi-automatic weapon without a bullet in the chamber is just a paperweight anyway, but I digress.
I’ve no idea what the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) training program teaches, but I’d guess that they teach the weapon is to be loaded with a round in the chamber and the safety on while in the cockpit. If the weapon isn’t ready to use quickly then you might as well leave it home anyway. It is highly unlikely that a gun would go off without being handled by someone, so it’s safe to assume that on a routine flight, on a routine day, you might want to break up the routine by showing off your new gun. Add some PIO (Pilot Induced Oscillation), and there you have it. I’d love to read the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder:
“Watch out for the………[boom!!]”
“[Expletive Deleted]!!!”
“Think anybody heard that?”
The TSA doesn’t allow just any pilot to carry a weapon in the FFDO program; there is a psychological evaluation that must be passed by the pilot before beginning the training. I only know this because a friend of mine who works for a large air freight company flunked the psych evaluation; evidently he has “difficulty dealing with authority”, and was not allowed to participate in the FFDO program. I guess that doesn’t say much for my choice of friends, but that’s probably another story.
Personally I don’t have strong feelings one way or another about pilots carrying weapons on commercial flights. I guess if anyone has a gun onboard an airplane I’d rather it be a good guy than a bad guy; and it’s not like airport security is so perfect that they occasionally might miss a weapon in someone’s carry on bag. A gun on an airplane isn’t inherently dangerous unless the person who controls it has evil intentions, or, as in this case, becomes careless.
As a pilot myself I’ve always thought that having the airplane yoke in my hands would be far more effective a deterrent than a loaded gun. A couple of negative G pushovers that send the bad guy flying into top of the cabin would probably be pretty effective.

Confirmed: Aloha Files for Chapter 11

From the airline’s official statement:

“Aloha is also seeking Court approval of a cash collateral financing arrangement with its principal working capital lender, General Motors Acceptance Corporation, to provide financing for operations pending a further hearing in accordance with bankruptcy rules. In doing so, Aloha seeks to protect 3,500 jobs, honor thousands of passenger travel reservations, keep the U.S. Mail and air cargo moving between the islands, and continue to provide essential ground-handling services for domestic and international airlines serving Hawaii.

In its filing, Aloha cited its inability to generate sufficient revenues from its inter-island passenger business due to predatory pricing by Mesa Air Group’s go! airline. In the highly competitive inter-island market, Aloha was forced to match go!’s below-cost fares at a time when the airline industry was facing unprecedented increases in the cost of jet fuel. Late last week, crude oil rose to an all-time record high of $111 a barrel. For Aloha that means an annual increase of $71 million in fuel expenses.

“It is a travesty and a tragedy that the illegal actions of a competitor and other factors completely beyond our control have forced us to take this action,” said David A. Banmiller, Aloha’s president and chief executive officer. “Through this filing, we hope to achieve a successful outcome that will protect the jobs of 3,500 dedicated employees who have made extraordinary sacrifices for Aloha, and to continue to earn the support of our loyal customers, business partners, vendors and financial backers.”

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