Monthly Archives: November 2012

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Good evening earthlings! It’s that time again.

This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

It got a little busy earlier this evening after Reuters went public with the contents of a letter that one of the more well-known groups of AMR bondholders sent to the President of the Allied Pilots Association earlier this month.

As we talk about in this week’s issue, if this group wants the AMR board replaced and management gone, I don’t think Tom Horton and company have much of a leg to stand on.

Nothing surprising here.

I also assume that APA sent out the letter to its membership in an effort to persuade them that an “affirmative” vote is the way to go.

In other news, we talk at length this week about the BTN 2012 Airline Survey. Corporate travel managers and agencies participate in this survey, which measures an airline in ten different categories. Short and sweet? Delta Air Lines blew away the rest of the group.

PBB subscribers should not be surprised — given the feedback we’ve provided over the last several months from our various corporate travel group presentations.

We tell you how everyone else fared and why a US Airways/American merger should not scare the hell out of the corporate travel community in DFW — even though it does!

It was a fantastic week on Wall Street this week for the Things with Wings. Shares of Republic and US Airways led the group.

We also tell you what we’ve heard Delta Air Lines has told management at Pinnacle Airlines. Hint: It has to do with the Pinnacle pilot contract.

The AMR Bankruptcy Follies returns this week — we’re talking loose seats, the airline’s failed attempt to stop the passenger service union representational election, and we have Scene Five from a One Act Play.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Happy Turkey Day Week everyone!

This week’s Turkey Day edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Good thing too, because that chocolate walnut pecan pie is calling my name. Along with the pumpkin bread. And the smoked salmon. And the apple pie. And, you get the picture.

And tomorrow…..it’s TURKEY.

But before all that we give you the inside scoop on our little sit-down with execs at US Airways this week. No, it had nothing to do with the merger. It was, however, very constructive.

We also update you on the latest concerning the American Airlines/US Airways situation — including our updated timetable on a potential merger announcement, pricing of the deal, and our take on why pilots should or shouldn’t vote for the TA that has been sent out.

Meanwhile, up in Chicago, the folks at United suffered yet another IT-related hiccup last week. That’s three of them. Thankfully for them, it is now Wednesday evening pre-Thanksgiving and the airline seems to be behaving itself. Last time I checked.

Not too long after the airline had jumpstarted itself again last week, Jeff Smisek, United AIrlines CEO, personally greeted the airline dorks who were part of this year’s Star Alliance MegaDo around the world trip last week. We have the video. Furthermore, we really, really, liked his presentation.

Delta Air Lines rolled out a cool new onboard video this week. We give you a look at that as well.

Oh and we have lots of serious stuff as well. We have full 3Q earnings reports from WestJet and Air Canada. We have October traffic numbers. We have stock performance. We have 3Q break-even and operating margin rankings.

You name it — we have it. And more.

PlaneBusiness Banter is now ready to be devoured. Gobble, gobble.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Good evening everyone. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

We’re almost done with 3Q earnings reports. This week we take an in-depth look at the recent earnings reported by two regional holding companies — Republic and Skywest.

We also have earnings summaries for WestJet and Air Canada. We’ll finish up the 3Q earnings parade in our next issue when we take a longer look at the results that both Canadian carriers posted.

In other news, the finalized tentative agreement between United Airlines and its two pilot groups hit the streets this week — and it is a monster. 500 pages long. I do believe this is a new record page length for tentative agreements.

We have not spent that much time with the TA, but at first blush it looks like a rather rich contract. Translation: This thing needs to pass.

On the other side of the universe, meanwhile, the negotiators at the Allied Pilots Association and American Airlines have come to terms on what is called an “Agreement in Principle.” The APA Board will meet Friday to vote on whether to send the proposal out as a TA to the rank and file.

But the biggest news this week concerns New York. Tuesday US Airways presented its argument as to why a merger with it is the best alternative to the AMR Unsecured Creditors Committee. Wednesday, American had its turn to convince the UCC why its “stand-alone” plan is the best alternative.

I find it extremely telling that the UCC would push forward with this — with no pilot contract in hand. It says to me we may hear something sooner than later from the UCC in regard to which proposal it favors.

You know where my money is on all this.

We have other earnings that we discuss this week including those from Emirates, LATAM, and Ryanair.

We also take a look at the sad state of affairs at SAS. The airline has given employees until Sunday to agree to draconian cuts in pay and pension benefits. Otherwise, a credit line that has been promised to the airline will not be forthcoming.

All this, DOT results from September (Delta kicked some ass, American fell apart and United managed to pick up a little ground) and much, much more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Good evening everyone!

Surprise!

Tonight we publish our second issue in four days — as we try and work our way through the recent compressed pile of 3Q airline industry earnings reports.

In this issue we take an in-depth look at the recent earnings calls from Hawaiian Holdings, parent of Hawaiian Airlines; Spirit Airlines; and Allegiant Travel Company, parent of Allegiant Airlines.

All three airlines made money, but all three made profits in very different ways.

In addition, one analyst, Hunter Keay with Wolfe Trahan, brought up a very interesting idea for the folks at Hawaiian Airlines. He thinks, as I do, that the airline’s stock is very undervalued. In fact, the airline has enough cash in the bank today to buy itself, the market cap of the airline is so small. Of course the airline would need more capital than that to pull off an LBO, but I found Hunter’s argument very persuasive.

Aside from that, looking at the airline’s earnings results for the third quarter — while the airline is clearly grappling with some capacity/demand learning curves, the airline’s decision several years ago to look west to Asia for expansion — as opposed to putting more effort in the U.S. trans-Pacific routes looks like it has been, without question, the right decision.

We also talk about the 3Q earnings announced by Spirit Airlines. Spirit had a very nice profitable quarter, but the airline is spending a bit of money these days both to support its current growth spurt, and to make sure its operations run more smoothly.

I have no problem with either of these. The underlying business plan of Spirit is solid.

Our third in-depth earnings report looks at Allegiant. The airline has flopped around a bit the last couple of years as it decided to go with another fleet type, it had to get ETOPS certification for those 757s, the airline’s IT infrastructure had to be totally reconstructed and upgraded, it switched its position on how to deal with engine overhauls. You know — the usual. Growing pains.

But the airline seems to have weathered all of this fairly well. In addition, the airline’s move to put 166 seats in its MD-80s (no, I am not about to fly on one of those airplanes anytime soon!) is moving along and the airline is now getting a better read on the revenue payback from the additional seat installs. The news? Good.

All in all a very good quarter for all three airlines — but in very different ways.

In other news we talk about the latest tidbits from American, although there aren’t many, and we celebrate today — United Airlines 787 Day. Today the airline put its first 787 into regular commercial service. A fun time was had by all — as best we can tell. We had both friends and subscribers onboard at least one, if not more of the inaugural flights. Nothing like some good plane porn to make us all forget about the everyday trials and tribulations of life.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everybody!

This week’s insanely long and informative earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted! At last!

This week we take an in-depth look at the recent 3Q earnings results from: Delta Air Lines, US Airways, United Airlines, Alaska Air Group and JetBlue. We also have earnings summaries for Hawaiian, Allegiant and Spirit. We’ll get caught up with those in our next issue. Meanwhile, Republic Holdings announced earnings today.

Is it five-o-clock somewhere? Please?

Overall, it was a great quarter for the U.S. airline industry, although two of the big boys definitely came in with results that underperformed their peers — United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Here’s a riddle for you. Which airline posted an unbelievable 21.3% EBIT margin for the quarter? (FYI: That is four times what Southwest posted for the quarter.)

PlaneBusiness Banter Subscribers, your massive issue awaits. Along with the answer to that question.

Speaking of Southwest — we noted last week the airline had not mentioned Atlanta at all in its last two earnings calls. But Delta Air Lines had no problem responding to a question about Southwest and Atlanta in its earnings call this quarter. The response seems to confirm what we had suspected: Delta is seeing an uptick in market share out of Atlanta at the expense of AirTran/Southwest.

US Airways had a great record-breaking quarter, as did Alaska Air Group.

The laggard of the bunch this week? United Airlines.

We’ll also tell you about the latest strategic moves by Virgin Australia, we have great industry Halloween pics for you to peruse, we wonder why Boeing was late in delivering the second 787 to United, and we have some pics of our awesome flight on Row 44′s Grumann Albatross last week off the coast of California. We went to play with the company’s new streaming video product. We left in love with a very unusual airplane.

Like I say, a huge, huge issue this week.

Subscribers can access the monster here.