Tag Archives: JetBlue

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good evening earthlings. Our last summer “kitchen sink” issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Alas. We were supposed to already be on vacation. But then the Department of Justice decided to sue American Airlines and US Airways last week.

So we bumped our three remaining 2Q13 earnings call reviews to this week. We also had a feeling that we’d hear more important information in regard to the DOJ’s machinations — which we did on Thursday.

So this week we wrap up 2Q13 earnings, including a look at break-even load factors and operating margins, we update you on the latest between the DOJ and American and US Airways, we take a sneak peek at how the bigger players are doing in terms of on-time performance in August, we muse about whether or not an airline should be named “Vanilla” and we go through a lot of mail.

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

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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We’re baaack!

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.

If it’s the week after Labor Day, that means it’s time for us to return to the fold and once again publish PlaneBusiness Banter.

This week we do our best to get back on track and update PlaneBusiness subscribers not only on the most recent industry news and notes, but we give you our take on some events that happened while we were making our way around the Western part of the country while on vacation.

American Airlines bankruptcy — check.

American Airlines CEO Tom Horton’s miscues — check.

APA’s sudden weak-kneed approach to management — check.

APFA’s strong stance on a US Airways merger — check.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane’s decision on Tuesday to allow the abrogation of the American pilot contract — check.

JetBlue’s brand new New York presence — check

JetBlue’s irritation at Tom Horton and American for continuing to imply JetBlue is in play — check.

US Airways and British Airways sign NDAs and begin due diligence process with American in regard to a merger — check.

United Airlines suffers horrible August — check…and check again.

United Airlines’ systems outage gives @FakeUnitedJeff A Treasure Trove of Material — check.

United Airlines’ systems outage shows airline’s glaring lack of Social Media presence — check.

United Airlines’ systems outage gives Social Media folks at American, Delta and Frontier Airlines a reason to shine — check.

Shares of SkyWest skyrocket in August…we tell you why — check.

Ryanair says it is willing to negotiate on Aer Lingus deal to get approval — check.

All this and more in this week’s issue — check.

Can you tell we’re in our pilot mode this week?

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

Check.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Good evening everyone.

This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. This week we’re talking a lot about the two airlines that call Dallas-Ft.Worth home — American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Last week Southwest Airlines rolled out its fourth quarter earnings results — making the airline the first to report for the quarter. Overall the airline posted numbers that were just a bit better than expected, although the “noise” from the airline’s merger with AirTran will continue into 2012. The airline also updated its list of AirTran cities it is keeping and those it is putting on the “Don’t fly there no mo” list.

Were there any surprises here? Yep. On both sides.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy continues at American Airlines. Monday Human Resources SVP Jeff Brundage sent out a letter to employees trying to reassure them that even if their pensions were terminated or frozen, they would still get almost the same payment from the PGBC. Only problem — that is not true if you are a pilot. Or a member of upper management. Why? The pension payouts for those two groups are higher — and the payouts would exceed the maximum levels allowed by the PBGC.

Brundage’s letter was issued, I believe, as a result of the airline’s failure to pay the roughly $100 million it was scheduled to pay into its pension plans last week. News of the airline’s minimal payment it did make was not received well with labor leaders of the airline’s employee groups. The move, coupled with the publicly vocal sparring between the airline and PBGC over the last several weeks succeeded in raising the angst level of employees considerably.

Brundage’s letter was followed by a missive to the troops from CEO Tom Horton. But all Horton’s note said was that the airline was going to make changes in its executive ranks, its management “layers” and that it was going to be the airline it used to be — again.

Again — no details.

Meanwhile, out in Phoenix, US Airways’ President Scott Kirby and his revenue management team are hard at work putting together a network restructuring plan for American Airlines. Or so said a report in Bloomberg last week.

Say what?

Let’s just say the obvious!

Of course US Airways’ President Scott Kirby has his minions working on a plan that will increase American’s revenue performance.

We may not get to hear the details until much later in the year — after American has had its chance to impress the bankruptcy court and the unsecured creditor’s committee with its restructuring plan. But I assure you — yes, US Airways is working on a proposal.

Oh my gosh. And this is just the start of this week’s issue.

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



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

No surprise, we’re talking a lot about American Airlines again this week.

First, the airline’s labor unions have been given a strong position on the airline’s creditors committee. This is no small deal, as the members of the airline’s creditors committee pretty much dictate how the airline is operated and what the airline will look like when it finally escapes from the grasp of bankruptcy.

In addition, Tuesday the airline announced the first round of upper level executive departures. We expected this — and we hope the departures announced Tuesday are just the beginning.

American’s filing has begun to have ripple effects across the industry. One such effect: JetBlue announced Tuesday night that it was starting (FINALLY) BOS-DFW service in May 2012.

A different effect? Southwest Airlines‘ CEO Gary Kelly’s letter he posted to employees about the American bankruptcy. Essentially Kelly took a hardline with employees — making the point that Southwest Airlines is now, for all practical purposes, the airline in the crosshairs — having never filed for bankruptcy, and now forced to compete with an aggressively managed group of “new” airlines including United, US Airways, and Delta Air Lines.

In other news, we’re sad to see FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt have to resign from the agency. But someone in his position cannot be arrested for DUI. Even worse, you can’t be arrested for DUI and then not tell your boss about it. Reportedly DOT Secretary LeHood found out about Babbitt’s arrest only after the Fairfax City police issued a press release on Monday.

Worse, if Babbitt is convicted, he will lose his commercial pilot’s license.

An extremely unfortunate situation — both for Babbitt, and for the FAA. The last thing the agency needs right now is a distracting search for his replacement.

On Wall Street, airline stocks posted a great week last week. Well, there was one exception. But AMR was just that — an exception. Shares of JetBlue soared, leading a number of airline stocks to hefty double-digit gains on the week.

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

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.

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!

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Hello to all on what is a drop-dead gorgeous Tuesday morning here in the DFW Metromess.

This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access it here.

So what are we talking about this week? Well, considering we are headquartered in that hotbed of aviation, Dallas Ft. Worth, we talk a lot this week about the recent British invasion. Oh, that’s right. Virgin America is, er, an American company.

It was easy to forget that last week as Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin marketing machine touched down in DFW.

Yes, Virgin America launched its new service to DFW. We give you our take on the festivities.

In addition, in my column this week I take a long look at two similar and intertwined airlines — JetBlue and Virgin America.

In other news, we have a copy of the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau’s preliminary report on the Rolls-Royce uncontained engine failure on Qantas Flight 32. Let me put it this way — if there were any doubts before, it’s pretty clear Rolls-Royce has a big problem with the Trent 900 engine. Particularly the version Qantas is using on its aircraft. And yes, that particular flavor of 900 is a different configuration than the one Singapore and Lufthansa uses.

We include two of the photos from the report in this week’s issue. Not a pretty sight.

In other news, the International Air Transport Association announced that Cathay’s CEO will be taking over the helm there next year. This means we’ll have two new mouthpieces at the helm of the two biggest airline trade groups in 2011.

Fallout from the national election continues to trickle down through the industry. This week we saw shares of FedEx lead the group as analysts upgraded shares. Granted, one of the reasons shares were upgraded is an increase in industrial productivity — but the fact that proposed legislation that would have made it easier for FedEx drivers to unionize is now probably toast — a result of the changes in Washington — certainly is at play here as well.

Speaking of Wall Street, oil prices hit their highest point in more than two years on Friday. Monday, they were up again.

Not good news for those things with wings that drink millions of gallons of jet fuel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And what about those Spanish Air Traffic controllers? Did you folks see how much these guys make on average? Trust me. It’s more than 99% of what airline pilots make.

It’s hell when the gravy train stops.

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

Enjoy!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello to everyone on what is a dark and stormy night here in the DFW Metroplex. This week’s mega-earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Be prepared. It’s another long one.

This week we take an in-depth look at the recent third quarter earnings from JetBlue, Hawaiian, Allegiant, and Alaska Air Group.

All in all, a very impressive group of industry representatives.

If you are looking for an airline that is doing its best to run itself like a real honest-to-god profitable investment for its shareholders, look no further than Alaska Air Group, which is now poised to hit its 10% ROIC target for the year.

Not only that but the airline posted an exceptional operating margin for the quarter.

I can’t say enough good things about the management team at Alaska. They have done one heck of a job over the last five years at the airline.

Hawaiian Airlines also had a very good quarter, although the airline continued to see fierce price competition on its trans-Pacific routes. I like the airline’s continued expansion into Asia as a good hedge against the continuing trans-Pacific warfare.

JetBlue posted good numbers as well, and that ROIC metric was thrown around in their call as well. The airline has postponed some aircraft deliveries, it continues to work through its migration to the Sabre reservation system, and overall the numbers for the quarter were good.

Allegiant came in a bit above the analyst consensus numbers that were in place in mid-October, but the air travel company that also happens to run Allegiant Air didn’t quite come in as high as had been previously modeled by most analysts. So — their results were a bit of a good news, “okay” news situation. In terms of the stock — the news was good enough to create a short squeeze on shares of the airline’s stock though. Going into October the airline was the most heavily shorted of all the airline stocks.

This last week yours truly was at Southwest Airlines for their Media Day event. I talk a lot about that in this week’s issue as well. Yes, the rumor is true. The airline had all us media types board an aircraft outside its hangar at the airline’s headquarters — to show us how fast its Row 44 Wi-Fi product is — and it wouldn’t work. We couldn’t connect.

I felt sorry for them. We’ve all been there, right?

Lots more about what we heard and saw over on Denton Drive in this week’s issue.

Also — the hot topic that is filling up our email bag this week are the various heated communications that are coming from almost every pilot union or pilot MEC group that we know of. The subject? The new “enhanced” security measures that the TSA just rolled out this week that includes the “body scanners” in addition to pat downs that we have heard from various people go way beyond what most people are comfortable with.

I fly to Los Angeles on Wednesday. I always get nabbed for secondary screening anyway because of this hunk of titanium that is in my leg. I am not going to be happy if now, I am subjected to a more “enhanced” pat down every time I fly as a result.

Anyway, we talk about all that as well.

We’ve got all kinds of other stuff too in what I figure is easily another 100 plus page issue this week.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg We may be a little late, but hey, we made it.

I know. I can’t wait to get my tarmac rule violation bill in the mail this week from the DOT.

Hello all ;-)

This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now, finally, posted. If you read my previous post here you’ll get the skinny on why we are posting on Wednesday night. An addendum to that post: while all the other problems were apparently fixed, now I cannot send email on my planebusiness.com account using Verizon.

At this point, I don’t care. I can take up that battle tomorrow.

In the meantime, a head’s up for PBB subscribers. We will be posting another issue of PBB either later this week or the first of next week. Yes, I was supposed to go on vacation yesterday, but because of all this Verizon mess, we were unable to complete all the material we wanted to include in this final issue for the summer.

So — the mojitos have been put on hold. The box of mint is still in the refrigerator.

We’ll be back for one more issue before we formally depart.

In the meantime however, we have a lot to talk about in this issue, including in-depth earnings reports on Republic, Hawaiian, and SkyWest. We talk a lot about the SkyWest/ExpressJet deal, and there were also more details given about SkyWest’s involvement with Air Mekong in the airline’s earnings call. We’ll update you on all that as well.

Cathay Pacific also reported earnings last week — and the airline did very, very well. More on those, in addition to the scoop on the newest low fare Asian airline — a JV between Thai and Tiger.

DAE has apparently told Airbus and Boeing that it is canceling 50 aircraft that had been included as part of the company’s eye-popping $27 billion order spending spree at the Dubai Air Show two years ago. Reality has apparently come to the Middle East. Or at least one part of it. There are still all those mind-numbing Emirates aircraft orders out there.

We give you the rundown on which airlines shone in the second quarter in terms of break even load factor and operating margins. And we’ll talk about those that posted rather worrisome numbers.

One hint: The same two airlines finished last and next to last in both metrics. Who were those two airlines?

And what about the Canadian airline Jazz? Why does it think it’s okay to report its quarterly numbers — absent any mention of RPMs?

We have a pretty good idea why — do you?

As always, this is just a part of this week’s issue. All this and more — in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.