Tag Archives: United Airlines

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

hand-turkey.jpg

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!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

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!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

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!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

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.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

Hello earthlings! It’s that time once again for the latest edition of PlaneBusiness Banter.

This week we lead off the 3Q earnings season with our in-depth look at Southwest Airlines. The airline reported earnings last week — the first airline to do so. We’ll tell you why we were not overly impressed with the airline’s earnings call and why we don’t like to be “teased” with the possibility of potential revenue enhancements by airline management. Either tell me you have a solution to the problem or you don’t.

This week? It’s a madhouse. Hawaiian Airlines reported Tuesday, and today we have US Airways and Delta Air Lines. Tomorrow we have United Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska. Allegiant is in there as well.

In other news, the pilots and management at AMR continue to negotiate. I’ve come to the conclusion it really doesn’t matter whether the pilots get a contract or not — although if I were a pilot, that 13.5% equity stake is definitely something to think about. But I still don’t think we’ll see a contract agreed upon and then voted in favor of by the pilot group.

I think it’s clear that the more important moves are now taking place off the radar screen and away from the negotiating table. We had evidence of this last week when two hedge funds accused American of ‘playing favorites’ with some of the other members of the UCC.

One way or another US Airways is going to do a deal here. It’s just a matter of how. And how much Tom Horton’s “go-away” package costs.

In other news, I traveled to Las Vegas last week where I had a wonderful session with the Advisory Council of Travel and Transport at their fall meeting. We talked about which airlines have been naughty and which ones have been nice to corporate travel managers. I’ll give you the scoop.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

Good evening everyone! This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. We are a bit long this week, but not surprising. There is a lot of stuff going on, including the continued operational issues at American Airlines.

Then again, the American story took another turn over the last week, after the airline suffered at least three incidents in which seats on an American 757 came loose while in-flight.

We talk at length this week about how the airline botched the handling of the story, how the airline continues to get beaten up in the press, and why all of this just validates what we already knew –the management team at the airline needs to change.

I’m not sure how much longer all of this is going to continue, but apparently Tom Horton has dug in his heels and is committed to walking away with what some folks have estimated could be as much as $60 million in bankruptcy exit payouts.

Ridiculous.

Meanwhile, United Airlines has quietly rolled out is new easy-peasy customer service GUI that alleviates the need to go back to the green screen. Everything we hear about the switch has been positive. Would have helped if the airline had done this six months ago, but what the hey.

Speaking of United, CEO Jeff Smisek was on CNBC last week talking about the airline’s new 787s, er, the “game-changer.” I have officially banned the use of that word again. I think it’s become a parody. I don’t want any United execs to use it again.

Time to come up with a new marketing tag. That one has gone stale. Causes acute rolling of the eyes of customers and employees alike.

Delta, United, and US Airways all updated their September PRASM numbers and their 3Q results over the last week. US Airways and Delta should still post a small uptick in PRASM for September, but the increase is going to be less than forecast. As for United Airlines, the airline looks like it continued to underperform its peers by a significant margin in September — and it looks like the airline will do the same for the quarter.

Meanwhile, analyst 3Q estimates for US Airways were raised substantially today as the airline forecast lower fuel prices and lower maintenance costs than expected.

We answer a number of subscriber questions this week on AMR — subscribers can send us any question they want to have answered. We’ll try and print as many as we can each week.

Some labor news from the last week: We’ll talk about both the flight attendants and the pilots at US Airways.

We also run down the 3Q airline sector stock performance results this week — as well as our normal weekly look at which stocks fared well last week and which ones took a vacation.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpgGood evening everyone. This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

What, pray tell, are we talking about this week?

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know we talk a lot about the escalating disaster that is American Airlines. I think a lot of people are missing the bigger picture in terms of what is happening at the airline. This is not just a “pilot/management” pissing match. It’s much worse.

Meanwhile, across the pond, we try to get you caught up with all the latest potential “coupling” updates, including whether Qatar is going to get cozy with British Airways, whether British Airways is going to buy the Irish government’s stake in Aer Lingus, and whether or not Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is still remotely interested in actually buying a piece of Aer Lingus or not. Our answer? No.

Back on this side of the pond, Air Canada’s CFO Mike Rousseau rolled out a lot of additional details about that airline’s new low cost subsidiary last week to a CIBC analyst conference. The information got investors excited apparently, as shares of the airline posted the largest gain of any airline stock we track for the week.

Reports say that Delta’s refinery subsidiary has started to make jet fuel. Don’t know about you, but I’m still excited about this project.

Another project I got to get a first hand look at last week that got me excited was Lufthansa System’s new onboard wireless IFE system, BoardConnect. I sat down with the folks from Lufthansa Systems at the APEX Conference in Long Beach. No question about it — the concept is the best option I’ve seen out there. If I owned an airline, I’d install it on my airplanes.

We have our usual letters this week, including a rebuttal to American Airlines’ claim that my tweet concerning the pilot contract terms harkened mostly back to the April Term Sheet.

Virgin America announced its second quarter 2012 earnings on Monday. Richard Branson can honestly say he has an investment in a non-profit entity in the U.S. Still.

Oh, and of course we address the major aircraft-related question of the week — why is it that windows in airplanes don’t open? And who is going to do something about this?

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

Good evening my friends. Welcome back to the show that never ends.

Where is Holly this week? Last week I was in Nashville at The Beat Live. This week I’m in Long Beach at the APEX Convention. Next week? Back to the Worldwide Headquarters.

This week there’s no question what the top news story is for the airline sector — the meltdown in operations at American Airlines. What’s going on and is it going to get better or worse?

Then there are the July DOT Airline Travel Consumer Report numbers. We all only thought United’s numbers in June were bad. They were even worse in July. The good thing? Things are finally trending in a positive direction. Unlike what is happening in Dallas.

SkyWest announced a new deal with American last week. In addition the airline announced a huge stock buy back authorization. No wonder shares in the airline took off.

Unfortunately things were just the opposite at Spirit. The airline announced that it will see RASM figures under what they had originally estimated for the third quarter. A one-time thing — or a more worrisome pattern? We talk about it.

Is Frontier Airlines “penalizing” its passengers by giving those who book on the airline’s website a better deal? We don’t think so.

The word(s) of the conference at this year’s The Beat Live were: Big data.

The word(s) to describe the current “opt-in” number for the American Airlines‘ flight attendants who are going to accept the airline’s offer of an enhanced retirement package? Almost 2000.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg

Hello all. A rather short review of this week’s issue this week, as yours truly is off to an event that is part of this year’s The Beat Live Conference in Nashville.

Long and the short? This week’s issue is now published!
Subscribers can access this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter here!

September 11, 2001

candle.jpg

Hello everyone.

I am sitting at The Beat Live Conference in Nashville — one of the best conferences for the corporate travel management side of the house. The conference opened with a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11.

As I always do each year, both here, and in PlaneBusiness Banter, I prefer to particularly remember those airline employees who lost their lives that day.

Yes, there were thousands of people who lost their lives that day. But for those of us who follow this industry, work in this industry, or simply continue to be fascinated by its endearing dysfunctionality, the loss of four airline crews that day hit us hard. And it still hurts.

This is our corner of the world. And as I see it, the courage and bravery of these crewmembers deserve our heartfelt acknowledgment. And remembrance.

American Airlines Flight 11, Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the World Trade Center.

CREW: John Ogonowski, Dracut, Mass., Captain; Thomas McGuinness, Portsmouth, N.H., First Officer; Barbara Arestegui, flight attendant; Jeffrey Collman, flight attendant; Sara Low, flight attendant; Karen Martin, flight attendant; Kathleen Nicosia, flight attendant; Betty Ong, flight attendant; Jean Roger, flight attendant; Dianne Snyder, flight attendant; Madeline Sweeney, flight attendant.

United Airlines Flight 175, Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the World Trade Center.

CREW: Victor J. Saracini, Lower Makefield Township, Pa., Captain; Michael Horrocks, First Officer; Amy Jarret, flight attendant; Al Marchand, flight attendant; Amy King, flight attendant; Kathryn Laborie, flight attendant; Michael Tarrou, flight attendant; Alicia Titus, flight attendant.

American Airlines Flight 77, Washington to Los Angeles, crashed into the Pentagon.

CREW: Charles Burlingame, Captain; David Charlebois, First Officer; Michele Heidenberger, flight attendant; Jennifer Lewis, flight attendant; Kenneth Lewis, flight attendant; and Renee May, flight attendant.

United Airlines Flight 93, Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, crashed in Shanksville, Pa.

CREW: Jason Dahl, Colorado, Captain; Leroy Homer, Marlton, N.J., First Officer; Sandy Bradshaw, flight attendant; CeeCee Lyles, flight attendant; Lorraine Bay, flight attendant; Wanda Green, flight attendant; Deborah Welsh, flight attendant.

May they all be at peace in a much better place