Monthly Archives: November 2011

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Good evening to all.

It’s a late night tonight here at the Worldwide Headquarters. Three guesses why. That’s what happens when a U.S. airline files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at 6 AM in the morning.

Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time this week talking about AMR and American Airlines. The airline’s bankruptcy filing, why it finally pulled the trigger, why the move was inevitable years ago, why it was not a “moral failure,” and more.

And yes, don’t even start with the AMR merger rumors. Long way between here and there.

In addition, I also take a time this week to talk about the recent DOT slot auction for slots at both LGA and DCA. While the DOT won’t make the “formal” announcement concerning who won what until Thursday, the winners have either confessed or been outed by process of elimination. ;-)

The results of the auction were somewhat intriguing — both because of what airlines were successful in nabbing slots and because of the one big airline that came away empty-handed.

Then there is the continuing mess that is the Indian aviation industry. We talked a great deal about this last week, but this week it’s back on the radar as both Jet Airways and Kingfisher continue to struggle. Jet announced a new lease-back plan that should generate at least $300 million for the airline in the coming months, but Kingfisher is still looking for an investor. Meanwhile, employees haven’t been paid in weeks, and the airline’s pilots are beginning to leave for better opportunities. Oh, and AerCap is taking two of its planes back.

The Air Transport Association is ready to roll out its new “branding” Wednesday. Not sure I like the new name, but I am a fan of the idea behind the extreme makeover. For too long the ATA has been a wet noodle in a sea of sharks — a totally ineffective trade organization.

So here’s to a new gorilla on the block.

Meanwhile, last week was a horrible week for airline stocks. We’ll go over the details of the carnage.

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

Five Things I Know About the American Airlines Bankruptcy




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This much I know is true about the American Airlines bankruptcy.

1) With another record number of pilots about to opt for retirement on Dec. 1, the company could ill afford another run on cash reserves

2) The company can talk about “costs” all it wants, but the airline has systemic network and revenue problems it has yet to effectively address. Even if labor costs and productivity were “righted” — airline would only break even at current revenue levels

3) Gerard Arpey had to leave. No option.

4) Expect to see a number of other high-level departures from the AMR C suite.

5) While the pilots have taken the brunt of recent headlines, I suspect it will be the flight attendant group that will be faced with the harsher changes to their contracts as part of bankruptcy process.

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PlaneBusiness Banter subscribers — this week’s re-written <!> issue will be posted later today.

Meanwhile, for our latest take on the American situation, please join our Twitter feed at @planebusiness.

PlaneBusiness Banter is Now Posted!

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Good evening everyone. It’s time once again for this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. Or rather, this week’s “Turkey Trot” edition of PBB.

Yours truly got hit by a nasty upper respiratory infection this last weekend, so I have to tell you — the “Turkey Trot” edition almost didn’t make it to the table.

But I couldn’t have all our subscribers venturing out over the river and through the woods without some good reading material.

This week we’re talking about a hodge-podge of things — lunatic legislation introduced just in time for Thanksgiving travelers that seeks to either prevent airlines from charging for fees, or then taxing airlines more that do charge for fees; a USB investment research report that pretty much calls the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme worthless; American Airlines’ withering market cap; American Airline’s withered state in general; SkyWest’s new flying for US Airways; Travelport and American’s latest court news; one analyst’s take on the latest Southwest Airlines‘ schedule uploads for 2Q2012, and what these changes mean for competitors; Hawaiian Airlines’ decision to take Manhattan; the DOT’s September Airline Consumer Travel Report; and oh, a whole lot more.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg Hello everyone. It’s that time again. PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. This week we are talking airplanes, pilot contracts and we wrap up the third quarter earnings season with our in-depth look at the recent earnings calls from WestJet, Air Canada and Republic Holdings.

American Airlines had clearly wanted a contract with its pilots in place before the AMR board meetings began Wednesday of this week. Does not look like that is going to happen.

The lack of a contract continues to drag down shares of the airline. Tuesday shares slid 1%, closing at 1.92. Shares dropped 5% on Monday.

Looking at what the company has proposed, I think it’s going to be hard for the APA Board to sell the deal to its membership given the wide disparity between the numbers its members had proposed and numbers the airline has proposed.

We look at the 101 page position paper the pilots at United Airlines distributed last week regarding their concerns over training and integration procedures with the merged airline. Who knew the FAA inspector who was fined for his involvement with the Southwest Airlines fiasco a few years ago is the same FAA inspector involved in the FAA SOC [single operating certificate] process at United Airlines?

Of course we also wrap up the third quarter earnings season as we take our in-depth view at the recent earnings call from Republic Holdings, Air Canada, and WestJet.

Then there is the Dubai Airshow. We give you all the top news from the event that passed $55 billion in orders as of Tuesday.

As usual, all this and much, much, more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter .

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everyone.

It’s that time once again. This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

This week we have yet more third quarter earnings to discuss, as we take in-depth looks at the results posted by Allegiant, SkyWest and Pinnacle.

Next week, we wrap up our third quarter earnings call coverage as we look at Republic Holdings, Air Canada and WestJet.

Speaking of WestJet, our moles tell us that we should expect to hear another “important” announcement along with the airline’s third quarter numbers this week. That would make sense. It would also explain why the airline is late in reporting their numbers for the quarter.

Speaking of Republic — did you see what happened to shares of Republic Tuesday? That’s right. Shares picked up a whopping 61% on the day on incredibly heavy volume. The airline reported better than expected numbers and also gave clear guidance on how it plans to divest itself of Frontier Airlines. Investors liked what they heard. Obviously.

Late Tuesday there was an update posted on the AMR negotiations website concerning the negotiations between American and its pilots. This follows a week in which all indications continue to point to news of a new tentative agreement between American Airlines and its pilots being announced in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, pilots at Southwest Airlines and AirTran overwhelmingly okayed their proposed seniority agreement. No surprise there.

Internationally, Singapore Airlines, IAG Group and Emirates all reported sharp declines in earnings for the quarter last week — as higher fuel prices took their toll.

Meanwhile, does IAG have a deal to buy bmi from Lufthansa or not? Depends on who you are asking. If you are asking Willie Walsh, the answer is yes. But if you are asking Richard Branson, the answer is apparently no.

Question of the week — How many weeks does it take to train new Boeing 787 pilots? Answer: Five weeks.

No, that’s not a joke. That’s what ANA is doing. Five weeks?

As usual, all of this, and much more — in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everyone. This week we feel like we’ve been trapped on a tarmac for 7 hours. Or maybe 36 hours. Or maybe longer.

Yes, it’s the biggest earnings issue of the quarter, as we take the microscope to the third quarter earnings calls this week from Delta Air Lines, US Airways, United Continental, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue.

How long is this week’s issue. Oh, I don’t know. 150 pages more or less.

Needless to say, there is certainly not a lack of things to talk about in this week’s issue, and some of the topics are not even earnings related.

Take for instance, last weekend’s freak snowstorm in the Northeast. I’m sure the folks at JetBlue would love to give it to you.

Once again, the airline found itself the brunt of headlines far and wide after passengers on a number of the airline’s aircraft were forced to sit on said aircraft for hours, and hours, and hours after landing in Hartford.  American Airlines also saw one of its international flights diverted there, and all in all, a horrible time was had by all.

Although the governor of Connecticut seemed to think passengers weren’t looking at the situation in the right light. He reminded those who finally did make it inside Bradley International that hey, they landed safely, didn’t they?

We also talk a lot this week about the subject of fuel hedging.

I am convinced that airlines need to stop doing it.

Why?

Because it’s not necessary.

Airlines now have the resources and the planning tools they need to weather the ups and downs of fuel prices. Hedging has become a complicated unnecessary expense.

At least that’s how I see it.

And hey, how ’bout the management team at Qantas? CEO Alan Joyce finally had it last week with the ongoing “mini strikes” and other various efforts by three different employee groups to disrupt the airline’s operations. Saturday, the airline simply shut down.

Brilliant move on the part of Joyce in my opinion.

He knew if he did it, the Australian government would be forced to step in, which it did, and the arbitration court in Australia on Sunday ordered the employees at Qantas back to work — but only after it was made clear that employees were forbidden to participate in any more “mini-strike” job actions.

I can’t recall any airline ever doing anything like this. Ever.

As usual, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This week’s issue is huge, and we’re talking about a lotta stuff.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter here.