Hello everyone. It’s that time again. Time for this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. This week we take our in-depth view at the recent earnings calls and results from Hawaiian Holdings, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and the newest member of the U.S. publicly traded airline community — Spirit Airlines.
Spirit easily blew past analyst expectations for the quarter, and I must admit, it was fun to listen to a call from an airline that has such a very different business plan. Reminds me of when Allegiant first came on the scene. And years before that, Southwest Airlines was the airline that was pushing its lower costs, its “different” business model of simply low fares, and its low cost structure. Now — the new kid on the low cost, high-growth block is Spirit Airlines.
In addition to our earnings coverage, we spend a lot of time talking about pilots and pilot unions this week. From pilots calling in sick at Continental to ALPA severing a mutually beneficial deal with the Allied Pilots Association that had included the services of a well-respected union negotiator Seth Rosen, as a result of APA hot heads sending out anti-ALPA missives to American pilots — it has been a very “labor-intensive” week you might say.
But all of this angst pales in comparison to the paperwork that accompanied US Airways’ request for a preliminary injunction against its pilot union, USAPA, and the union’s President, Michael Cleary.
The suit, which was filed last Friday accuses the pilot union of of “directly instigating the illegal slowdown by encouraging pilots to delay flight departures, not complete certain training requirements, decline to fly on the basis of fatigue, increase maintenance write-ups, and generally slow down in the performance of their duties — and also by threatening to expose and retaliate against those pilots who do not participate in the slowdown. Although USAPA is encouraging pilots to change their behavior under the guise of “safety,” USAPA’s own communications confirm the true purpose of its campaign is illegally to slowdown US Airways’ operation in order to gain leverage in contract negotiations.”
But it’s not all unions and earnings.
Then there is the latest from Washington.
While the people who were elected to Congress finally managed to cobble together some kind of debt ceiling/budget compromise and both the Senate and the House managed to sign off on it, one thing that was not taken care of before both the House and Senate shut down work for the rest of the month was — a funding authorization bill for the FAA.
The bad news is that this means FAA-funded projects across the country will remain stopped in their tracks, more than 4000 FAA employees will remain laid off, and other FAA workers will continue to work more or less on an emergency basis.
But — on the plus side — (at least if you are an airline CEO or CFO) this could mean an additional $1.5 billion in revenues for the U.S. carriers — as a result of the ticket tax not being collected. That is, unless they begin to start rolling out a series of off-the-wall fare wars.
All this and much, much more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.