Tag Archives: airline industry

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everyone. Just a short note this week to let you know that this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

PBB is posted a bit earlier than usual this week, as yours truly is headed out to Las Vegas in a couple of hours, where I will attend The BeatLive Conference.

This will mark the fourth year I’ve attended this corporate travel get-together of industry heavyweights, and I look forward once again to getting my corporate travel gossip fix for the year.

Jay Campbell, the founder of The Beat, has challenged all attendees of the conference to join him in a SkyJump off the Stratosphere. (You freefall from 108 stories up.) Think I should do it? I’ll keep you posted.

This week we’re talking more about the great third quarter guidance we keep hearing from all the US airlines (although one major airline will still post a loss…guess who?) and of course we’re talking about Boeing’s 747-8 launch debacle involving Cargolux. What a mess that is.

In other news, we also break down the second quarter earnings news from Virgin America, which was released Friday by the airline. (As Virgin is not publicly traded, they report their numbers to the DOT and they are not released until much later than the rest of the sector.)

You know what they say about companies that issue press releases on Friday. That’s right. It’s usually an indication they’d prefer the information was somewhat ignored.

Looking at the numbers posted by Virgin, I can understand why.

How did they stack up compared to the recent second quarter results posted by the rest of the North American airline group? We’ll fill you in.

Meanwhile it sounds like the mothership of the Virgin empire, Virgin Atlantic is set to announce an alliance hook-up. If it’s not Star, I’ll be very, very, very, surprised.

We’ve got the latest on jet fuel, and more importantly we tell you how well the US airline sector fared on Wall Street last week — after all those bullish comments the various airline execs made at the Deutsche Bank Transportation Conference.

Oh, and Shoshana Hebshi? We talk about her experience flying on 9/11 as well. If you have not read her blog post in which she details what happened to her — including being strip-searched — after being taken off a Frontier Airlines flight in handcuffs on September 11, it’s a must read.

Fear. It’s not a good thing.

Meanwhile, in our column this week, I give props to the current crop of airline CEOs. You know why? They deserve it. I’ll tell you why it’s a good thing the industry now appears to be led by a group of adults rather than a bunch of flamboyant “characters.”

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

On that note, I don’t want to miss my flight to Vegas. Gotta go. Talk to you guys later!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week I talk a lot about US Airways. For good reason. I attended the airline’s “Unplugged” Media Day last week. The airline used the occasion to announce it is upgrading its regional airline fleet with first class cabins. But that was not the only news to come out of Tempe. We’ll give you the low down.

That doesn’t mean we’re done talking about Southwest Airlines and its recent fuselage problem. Nor have the late night talk show hosts.

Last week Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey both sat down with Terry Maxon from the Dallas Morning News at the SABEW Conference in Dallas. Gary talked about the Southwest incident and Gerard talked about the recent bogus offer to buy the airline from that outfit in Florida. Yes, as we assumed, the SEC is looking into it.

Speaking of Dallas, the DOT reported its February Air Travel Consumer Report last week. As expected, it was not a good month for airlines based in Dallas. (February ….ice…snow…Superbowl on ice.)

Expedia and American Airlines kissed and made up this week. But this news leaves a lot of very ragged and messy things to clean up on the corporate travel terrain. We like TheBeat’s Jay Campbell’s take on the news. We’ll share his take with you.

While pilots for United and Continental Airlines keep working on a new contract, all is not apparently warm and fuzzy on the United Airlines pilot side of the house. Reports say that there was a recall vote originally scheduled for Monday’s UAL ALPA MEC meeting. The intended victim? The pilot’s current MEC Chairwoman, Captain Wendy Morse.

Meanwhile the flight attendants at American Airlines offered up a deal for the airline. An immediate 6% raise for its members — and the rest of the contract details would be tabled for 18 months. The airline said no.

Speaking of American — April 20 is just around the corner. That’s the day you can expect to see protests from airline employees over the airline’s latest PUP bonus distributions.

We talk also take a look this week at just how much additional revenue and/or capacity cuts the airlines would need to make — in order to cover the current price of fuel for the remainder of the year. That’s a sobering chart. Thanks to Dahlman Rose analyst Helane Becker for the analysis.

As always, all this, and more in this week’s issue.

Subscribers can access the issue here.

Jet Fuel Closes Up 13 Cents on the Day: $3.22/gallon

New York Harbor Jet picked up another 13 cents in trading today. Closed at $3.22/gallon.

Last week Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline would not reassess its capacity plans unless fuel hit $3.30 a gallon. Looks like that day could come sooner than he had anticipated.

Meanwhile, American Airlines became the second major US carrier (behind Delta who did so in February) to announce a cutback in 2011 capacity as a result of higher fuel prices.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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This week’s mega-earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

What is on the agenda this week? First, we have in-depth reviews of the earnings calls from AirTran, Allegiant, and WestJet.

But that is just the start.

Our first column from this year’s Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airline Symposium discusses a presentation that was made at this year’s event by Adrian Slywotzky, economist, author, and partner with Oliver Wyman – the consulting firm that works with the airport to put on the Symposium.

The subject of his presentation? The airline industry is not the only “no-profit” industry out there. And yes, there are competitors in other “no-profit” industries who have figured out ways to improve profitability. Are there lessons here for the airlines? Yes.

Our second column this week is our first take from the recent US Airways Media Day. Coming just a day after the airline’s earnings call and just a couple of days after the airline said it wasn’t talking to the powers-that-be in Chicago anymore — the airline still managed to give us some information we’d never seen before.

All that plus the manic moves on Wall Street last week, the NMB’s news from today, the DOT’s decision on the proposed slot swap, American’s decision to hold its annual meeting away from the madding crowds, and more. In this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

Airline Pre-Earnings Whispers Continue to Sound Positive

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Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.

Or something like that.

Thanks to a wickedly strange website entitled Sketchy Santas for today’s visual. If you have a warped sense of humor like I do, go on over and take a peek. I’ll use a couple more of them here before we say goodbye to the Christmas season. I mean, after all, a little warped sense of humor is good for us all this time of year — yes?

Speaking of this time of year — it’s the time of the year when those folks who run the airlines start talking. To analysts. About their respective fourth quarter results that will be finalized in a little more than two weeks.

Today Bill Greene with Morgan Stanley wrote,

“We expect near-term data points and commentary to excite investors about the on-going airline recovery, pushing potential concerns of an anemic 2010 to the background, for the time being.”

Oh my. Let’s pop some champagne corks. What do you think?

Bill went on to talk more specifically as he added that AMR now expects fourth quarter mainline PRASM to be down more or less 5% year-over-year. This is better than Bill’s previous 7% estimate. The airline also said this week that close-in bookings continue to be strong.

US Airways said this week that it continues to see revenue improving “rapidly.” The airline said this week that corporate revenues could be up by as much as 10% year-over-year in 2010. Delta expects strong demand trends in 2010 and fourth quarter guidance updates imply better than expected top-line growth and United Airlines aid this week that it also continues to see improvement in corporate and premium cabin bookings.

Yesterday analysts Jamie Baker and Mark Streeter with JP Morgan issued a note in which they talked about both stock and debt updates.

They also talked about the positive comments from Delta and US Airways as did Bill. JP Morgan lifted its fourth quarter estimates for both Delta Air Lines and US Airways based on the latest updates from both carriers.

On the debt side, Mark Streeter gave all of us some good background on the fact that Delta Air Lines did also offer year-end liquidity estimates that were lower than those previously distributed this week.

Is this a bad thing? Not according to Mark.

According to Mark,

Delta offered year-end liquidity guidance of $5.1 billion (versus our prior estimate for YE09 of $5.4 billion), or about $700 million lower than the $5.8 billion total liquidity as of 30-Sept-09. Given a seasonal air traffic liability shift of $800 million-$1 billion (per management), the net burn is deceiving. As we have discussed, Delta has reduced 2010 debt maturities by 55% from $3.4 billion prior to recent capital markets transactions (mainly secured first and second lien notes and a secured aircraft EETC deal) to $1.5 billion.

In our Airline Credit Outlook 2010 webcast, we reiterate our bullish view on airline credit (Overweight) and our specific opinion that Delta is our favorite legacy airline credit from a relative value perspective. We recommend Delta A (offered at 400bp+) and B tranche (9%+ yield) EETCs basically across the board (As for HG and HY investors, Bs for HY investors only) as well as the Delta first (9.5% bonds yielding 8.5%) and second lien (12.25% bonds yielding 13%) backed by Delta’s Pacific operations. On the situation in Japan, AMR has the most to lose and Delta the most to gain if JAL defects from OneWorld to SkyTeam.

On the other hand, US-Japan Open Skies remains a long-term wild card from the perspective of how appraisers and the market will value Delta’s Pacific collateral. Regardless, we expect Delta to maintain a large, significant presence in Asia and Narita specifically (and perhaps Haneda over time). Therefore, the short relative duration of the 9.5%s (due Sep-14) and the 12.25%s (due Mar-15) coupled with high current yields relative to credit ratings (credit ratings that should INCREASE over time given our forecasted improvement in Delta’s credit metrics against our bullish industry recovery thesis) forms the basis of our favorable opinion on these unique bonds.”

Yes, that man is still bullish on Delta Debt.