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In Remembrance: September 11, 2001

candleIt is that day once again. Once again the Sun has come back to remind us, as she does every year.  She has that way of gently reminding us of both the things we’d rather not remember, as well as the sweet things we choose and want to keep alive in our memories.

I’m not going to recount what my life was like that day. Or where I was. Or how it felt. As I have done every year since that awful day, I will simply ask that you pause for a moment to remember and honor those airline employees who got up that day, put on their uniform, and went to work. But never came home.

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

It’s July. And Other Astounding Facts…

Hello all. As 2Q15 earnings season started today with Delta Air Lines posting a strong earnings report,  I figured it was time to come back and make an appearance. The plan last month was to stop posting weekly updates, which are nothing more than marketing blurbs and teasers for the current week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter

But we are still working on a new site overhaul, and so for now, I am not sure what to do with PlaneBuzz.

Looking at our web metrics, it’s clear that we receive a lot of new eyes from Google every week, and some of you do become subscribers to PlaneBusiness Banter. Thank you!

But others simply read the Cliff Notes sneak peak at what we are talking about and go on about your business.

Stay tuned. Later this week I may post a copy of a recent column I wrote in PlaneBusiness Banter on the latest Department of Justice attempt to prove there is collusion in the airline industry. It has received a ton of feedback email from my subscriber base, so perhaps all of you would like to read as well.

For now, I am off to finish this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. If you are a subscriber, I’ll be talking to you soon!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we’re talking a lot about Southwest Airlines and the follow-up to the recent comments made by CFO Tammy Romo at the Wolfe Research Transportation Conference that sent shares of U.S. airline stocks tumbling.

For those of you who missed the excitement, Tammy indicated in her comments there that the airline was going to see capacity up between 7% and 8% for the year. This was above what the airline had said was the case in its 1Q15 call, (the airline had said a flat 7%), and given the backdrop at the time, i.e., American Airlines management was sounding alarm bells over the possibility of the industry pushing out too much capacity, that is all it took.

Investors shed shares of airline stocks like crazy two weeks ago as a result.

Last week, the madness slowed, but U.S. airline stocks were still struggling.

This week we go in-depth about what the airline told institutional investors at a Credit Suisse meeting in Dallas last Friday,  followed up by an additional interview with Bloomberg that broke earlier today. (Monday.)

Long and the short? Southwest went on the offensive. To the extent that the airline said it was now capping growth at 7% and it will announce an increase to its ROIC shortly.

Wrap it up and what do we have? We had, over the last two weeks, a perfect time to buy shares of U.S. airline stocks. Particularly the big four.

Perception. It’s the name of the game.

This week we also talk about the recent “all-women” delivery flight involving United Airlines and Boeing; we look at the deal that the Irish government gave the okay to this week — allowing IAG Holdings to purchase Aer Lingus;  we give you the latest scoop on why oil prices continue to inch up;  we talk about a couple of new executive appointments;  we talk about the recent forum in Seattle where Alaska Airlines’ CEO Brad Tilden admits the airline was  “shocked” at the actions of Delta Air Lines over the last few years, and a whole lot more.

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


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings! Happy Wednesday! This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access it here.

This week we’re talking about American Airlines’ inclusion in the S&P 500. The news sent shares of AAL up more than 13% last week. Will United Airlines join the S&P party in 2015? We  talk about that and the more important issue for the major U.S. carriers — investment grade debt ratings.

With profits up, and interest rates low, debt reduction takes top priority in our book.

Speaking of American, the airline’s first big IT  “stress test” of the merger begins this weekend, as the airline begins to merge the frequent flyer programs of American and US Airways.  Have miles with both airlines? Take a screen shot of your account pages just to be safe. All of this should be completed by next week, depending on status levels, whether you have accounts with both airlines, etc.

In the meantime, chill. Oh, and don’t try to redeem miles on US Airways right now. That window is now about to close as the airline begins the migration.

We also talk a bit this week about those young up and comers in the industry I like to refer to as ‘The Best and the Brightest.’ In my opinion, we are finally beginning to see more of these folks stay in the industry than had been the case in years past.  We talk about the reasons and why this is a positive change.

Another week, another pilot strike at Lufthansa. Enough already.

Meanwhile, down in Dallas, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and the city of Dallas continue to fight over Love Field access. As it stands now, Delta has no gate access at Love as of July 6. Will this change? Will the City of Dallas force the issue? Will we finally find out who shot JR?

Congratulations to all the United Airlines’ employees who participated in the recent NYC Half Marathon in the Big Apple! We personally donated 10 subscriptions to PlaneBusiness Banter as part of the effort that benefited the March of Dimes.  We welcome those new subscribers to the fold this week.

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


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1You know, one of these days we need to stop posting in the middle of the night. One of these days.

Hello earthlings! Goodness. We’ve had back to back issues within less than a week this last week due to yours truly traipsing around the countryside.

Last week I was at the ISTAT Americas conference in Scottsdale. Subscribers got to hear about the Bombardier/Embraer presentation that proved Bombardier doesn’t have a clue as to how to address the perception issues of its CSeries. Then we talked a great deal about AVITAS SVP Adam Pilarski’s update on the price of oil and why he thinks it’s not going higher anytime soon.

For more than a few years, Adam has steadfastly said that oil was going to drop to $40 a barrel — and his reasons seem pretty valid today.

Then we talked about just what Air Lease Corp.’s Steve Hazy wants in Boeing’s new airplane. Hint: Twin aisle. 200-225 seats.

But we talked about a lot more — but that was last week.

In this week’s follow-up issue we give you our take on the Aviation Summit that was held in Washington on Tuesday. This year it became a place where both sides of the Open Skies fight presented their respective cases. Lots of noise around all of this — but all of that really means nothing. We remain convinced that the report the U.S. carriers has put together is more than enough for the State Department to open up consultations on the Open Skies agreements.

We also talk this week about American Airlines’ inclusion in the S&P 500; Ryanair’s plans to start up a trans-Atlantic operation; Spirit’s descent into adolescent frat house humor again; Spirit’s arrival in the monthly DOT Air Travel Consumer Report, and we also have another Cranky Analysis column by Brett Snyder. This week Brett, who moonlights as a contributing editor for us, looks at the Atlanta market. Have fares gone down since Southwest Airlines has eliminated AirTran? Not hardly.

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



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. This week we take a close look at the recent 4Q14 earnings posted by Virgin America. It was the first earnings call for the company, which rolled out an IPO in November. While the IPO certainly helped to clean a lot of ugly stuff from the airline’s balance sheet, the airline has its work cut out for it as it goes head to head with Southwest out of Love Field, and it faces more pressure on its transcon routes.

We’ll give you the take from three analysts on the results — and then we throw in our $0.02 for good measure.

We also talk a lot this week about our recent visit with management at United Airlines. While our sessions were off the record in regard to a lot of topics, I think subscribers will still find enough interesting material to get a good feel for what the visit was like.

Oh, and yes, I finally got my official PGA  plaid socks! I’ll be modeling them in the next issue of PBB. 

Last week we sat in on the American Airlines Leadership Conference. Again — this event was also off the record, but we can talk about a few things….including some things that I was most happy to hear.

We have an update this week on the Open Skies report. It now appears that the report  the three major U.S. airlines have been working on for the last two years will finally be allowed to go public next week. I can’t wait.

As for airline stocks, last week was a pretty good week for the sector, with shares of Delta Air Lines leading the sector. Meanwhile, shares of Bombardier dropped again — as more talk of a potential bankruptcy of the transportation company hit the media. Then again, it sounds like the Canadian government would be more than happy to help with financial assistance.

What a mess.

Southwest Airlines got hit again by the FAA on Tuesday for failure to perform required checks on it aircraft. The airline and the FAA still have not come to terms on the last proposed fine — for again essentially not doing what it was supposed to do. I fully expect that we’ll see a fine levied for this latest breach by the FAA as well.

Over the last ten years, no U.S. airline has been fined more by the FAA than Southwest. 

I would strongly suggest that perhaps something needs to change over on Denton Drive.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone! This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we do our  in-depth review of 4Q earnings from Spirit, Skywest, and Air Canada. We also have the PlaneBusiness Earnings Summary for Virgin America, which reported earnings Wednesday. We’ll talk more about those results  next week.

In other news, did you catch the sharp drop in Bombardier’s shares last week? The company reported 4Q14 earnings, along with a whole lot of other news, including a departure of a CEO, an admission that it needs more cash; and more. Shares of the Canadian transportation company took a serious hit as a result — and rightfully so.

But the most talked about news of the week was the interview of Delta Air Lines‘ CEO Richard Anderson by CNN’s Richard Quest.

The subject — a more than two year research effort by the U.S major carriers that attempts to document the illegal subsidies that the three Middle Eastern carriers have benefited from.

Unfortunately Richard decided to take the Fox News approach — and link the Middle Eastern carriers to those who carried out the attacks of 9/11.

Wrong message. Completely.

We’ve see the documentation that the airlines have presented to the DOT, and we talk this week about our opinion on all of this.

Meanwhile, on the stock side, shares of Expedia flew off the charts last week, pushed by news of its deal to buy Orbitz. We give you our take on this news as well.

As usual, all this and more in this next-to-last earnings issue for the quarter of PlaneBusiness Banter. 







PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. The latest edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

This week we bring you up to speed with in-depth earnings reviews of 3Q14 earnings reported by JetBlue, Spirit, and Hawaiian Airlines. We also have earnings summaries posted for SkyWest and Republic Holdings, both of which reported 3Q14 earnings last week.

Meanwhile yours truly was the guest of Delta Air Lines last week. I attended the Chairman’s Club Dinner Thursday night (which was spectacular) and spent all Friday meeting with execs at the airline. I’ll talk more about my time with the Widget folks in next week’s issue. My favorite part of the visit? Had too many to count. Sitting down and talking airlines with CEO Richard Anderson for almost an hour and a half was at the top of the list. But one of my other favorites was getting to sit in on the morning operations call with everyone calling in from stations hither and yon and everyone else in the room. No hiding. No “Oh you can’t say that because she’s here.” Nope. I heard it all. My thanks to Dave Holtz, VP Ops Control at Delta. You are the man.

But then there was the visit with the guys at Tech Ops, and well….it was just a fabulous visit. Like I said, I’ll be talking about it more in next week’s issue.

Tonight (Monday), I am at Duke University, where I am participating in the first Travelport Ignite discussion conference for thought leaders in the travel industry. The conference kicked off tonight with a fabulous interview of Bob Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines by the Dean of the Fuqua School of Business, William Boulding. The event continues tomorrow at the Fuqua School of Business.

It was a great week last week for airline stocks. We tell you who the big winners were.

And of course it was also Halloween. We have a few photographs of the antics from Dallas last week — both from Southwest, and this year of course, American Airlines. Yep, there is definitely something different in the air.

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


PlaneBusiness Banter Is Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. Our final issue of PlaneBusiness Banter for the summer has now been posted. This week we take an in-depth look at 2Q14 earnings results from Hawaiian Airlines, Allegiant, and Spirit Airlines. We also give you a summary of the recent earnings released by Air Canada, Republic Holdings, and SkyWest. 

As we had reported earlier this month in PBB, Republic did confirm in its earnings call last week that Chicken Taco is about to bite the big chicken leg in the sky. Republic is consolidating from three operating certificates down to two — so the existing aircraft that are currently flown by Chautauqua are being moved to the Shuttle America operating certificate.

So…it won’t be too much longer before we won’t have Chicken Taco to kick around anymore.

Meanwhile, up in Canada, we have to agree with one analyst who wonders if Air Canada really knows what the heck it’s doing with its rouge product. We wondered before they rolled it out, we wondered after they rolled it out, and we wonder even more now.  If you are going to do an alternative “low-fare” airline, then you’d better damn well offer lower fares. Like 30% to 40% lower.

Meanwhile on the international front, Etihad finally brought out the checkbook and antied up a nice chunk of change for a 49% interest in Alitalia. James Hogan, CEO of Etihad says that Alitalia should be “the sexiest airline in Europe.” Yes, that is what he said.

This equity investment creates some strange bedfellows — as Alitalia is still a member of the SkyTeam alliance, and Air France still owns a small piece of the airline.

We wonder what Delta Air Lines thinks about all this…..yes wondering minds want to know.

It was a rather so-so week for airline stocks, although Copa took a beating. The airline posted better than expected numbers for 2Q14, but guidance was not the best.

The DOT issued its June Air Travel Consumer Report last week. The numbers continue to reinforce the problem associated with mergers — they wreak havoc on operational metrics.

And I’m talking about all three of them — not just United/Continental. Southwest/AirTran continues to struggle, and American continues to drag down results for US Airways. 

Finally, we would be less than honest if we did not say that it was a hard week at the Worldwide Headquarters this last week. We lost a very good friend, as did many who worked at America West, US Airways, and eventually, American Airlines. That man was Bill McGlashen.

They don’t make men like Bill too often. We’ll miss his goofy sense of humor, his intelligence, his friendship, and his smile. Bill was only 55 and in excellent health when he was hospitalized with pneumonia roughly two weeks ago. None of us who knew him still believe he’s gone.

So — out last issue for August is a mix of all kinds of things this week.

Have a great rest of the summer everyone. We’ll talk to you again after Labor Day.



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good morning everyone. This week’s post-holiday week edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we have a long follow-up interview with Laura Glading, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. We first interviewed Laura last year, before the merger between American Airlines and US Airways had been completed. This year we talk to her about the events of last year, including her DOJ deposition, negotiations, Tom Horton and trips to Sephora.

Meanwhile, we also sat down last week and discussed the state of things between the pilot groups at American Airlines with Allied Pilots Association VP Neil Roghair. We’ll tell you how he sees both the seniority negotiations and the contract negotiations playing out at American. 

Speaking of American I am off this morning to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the new Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center at American. That’s right. The new facility will be named after one of our most favorite people we ever had the pleasure to work with in the industry, the late Bob Baker. Classy thing to do on the part of American. We like it.  We understand that it was Doug Parker himself who made the decision.

We are not surprised.

We also talk about why airline stocks got smacked around last week (a typical overreaction on the part of Wall Street to what were actually in-line RASM estimates from Delta for June) and we talk a bit about the situation down in Mexico as two LCCs fight it out for domestic dominance.

Airbus rolled out its new A320neo this week. Yes, Farnborough is right around the corner remember. Meanwhile Boeing lost six 737 fuselages last week after a train derailed in Montana. Three of the unfinished birds ended up in the river, while another one was apparently mangled closer to the tracks. As of today Boeing is still trying to figure out how to retrieve them.

Will Malaysia Airlines go private in an attempt to survive? Will JetBlue be the next airline to move to widebodies now that b has confirmed it will add them late in 2015?

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