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PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we are talking about a lot of things. First out of the chute — Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo’s dead-on research report last week on United Airlines. While Bob downgraded shares of United, the real story was his in-depth report on the airline, and what he feels are the achilles heels. One — Dulles. Two — the airline’s continued (and at this point rather seemingly obstinate) reliance on 50-seat regional jets.

Yes, the two do go together. Close Dulles and you can take a lot of that feed and move it over to Newark. But only if you upgauge — a process, I might add, that both Delta Air Lines, and US Airways (now American) have been doing for years.

Why hasn’t United already moved to upgauge operations? You answer that and you get the prize for the week.

In other news, we talk about Delta Air Lines’ CEO Richard Anderson and his comments in Washington re: the Ex-Im Bank. Only problem? We really don’t think Richard wants the bank to go away completely. He just doesn’t want them to finance wide-bodied aircraft for foreign airlines that are state-owned. But some right-wing Conservatives in Washington do want to do away with the bank completely.

Stay tuned.

The co-founder of Southwest Airlines, Rollin King, passed away last week in Dallas. He was 83. We had hoped, as had others, that Rollin would one day pen his take on the early days of Southwest. He never did. This only makes us that much more motivated to press ex-Chairman and CEO Herb Kelleher to do so.

This week our contributing editor Frank Arciuolo talks to us about the concept of the GDS, and what it is and what it isn’t. And what it had best morph into — otherwise the airlines are going to come up with a far better alternative.

The week was a fairly uneventful one on the Street, with about half the stocks we track posting a gain and about half posting a loss. WestJet led the gainers, while United took “Goat of the Week” honors.

All this, and much, more more, including the latest titillating gossip from both Boeing and Airbus, in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Is Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good evening everyone! It is, indeed, that time once again. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we talk about a lot of things including the recent IATA AGM which was held in Doha, Qatar. We also talk about this week’s annual meeting of American Airlines, which, as has been the case for US Airways since the America West merger, has always been held in New York.

We also get into the nitty gritty as to why both employees of US Airways and American are grousing about changes to their travel benefits at the new American. 

In other news, it was a very strong week for airline stocks. In fact, the airline indexes easily outdistanced the rest of the market last week, even though both the S&P 500 and the DJIA both posted record highs during the week.

On the oil price front, OPEC will be meeting next week — but we see no reason to see the organization make any major changes to their current 30 million gallon-a-day target. Meanwhile crude oil supplies produced in North America continue to increase. (That is a good thing!)

We also talk a bit about JetBlue this week. Cowen and Co. analyst Helane Becker took a few institutional investors over to visit with the management team there last week. Two things struck us about her report on the meeting  — one, what was discussed and how far the airline may swing away from it previous business model and two — who was not at the meeting.

Looking at the big picture this week, we talk about some of the changes we’ve seen take place in the industry over the last 19 years that are good — and we tell you what the two biggest challenges are, we think, to the U.S. airline industry in the next few years.

Hint: Emirates, Qatar, Etihad. 

Hint number two: Spirit, Frontier, other potential ULCC models.

We will be traveling once again next week. First to New York. Then to San Francisco.

For those of you in the San Francisco area, I hope to see some of you at the combined meeting of the Bay Area Business Travel Association/Silicon Valley Business Travel Association this coming  Thursday, June 12.

I, along with United Airlines’ SVP of Global Marketing, Dave Hilfman, will be doing our best to entertain everyone in attendance. We look forward to seeing some of you there!

Meanwhile, I start my Summer Trans-Con Tour this week, as I fly United Airlines’ p.s. service from JFK to SFO.

Next up? American’s A321t product.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good evening everyone! How was your Memorial Day weekend? Mine was spectacular! I hope you had a great start to summer as well.

This week we have somewhat of a hodge podge in PlaneBusiness Banter.

First, we have a great analysis this week by Brett Snyder, aka Cranky Flier. This week Brett, who moonlights as a contributing editor for PlaneBusiness, looks at American Airlines and how it has been performing out of its home turf — DFW — over the last several years. In a nutshell — not well. But he dives into the data and tells us just how poorly. In addition, he stumbled upon a little nugget of information about Spirit and one particular American route that we think subscribers will find particularly interesting.

Bottomline? There’s a lot of opportunity here if American can get its act together. (And given the track record of the new management team at American, we’re betting this is going to be the case.)

We also talk a bit more this week about the situation in Dulles, and give you an extensive review of how the combined market looks out of DCA and IAD for both American/US Airways and United Airlines. Oh, there are lots of interesting things to look at here.

Meanwhile, out in the Northwest, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Air Lines opened up yet another round of artillery fire last week with a series of announcements (within hours of each other) concerning new service out of Seattle.

I’m not so sure how this story is going to end. But in the meantime, it’s certainly interesting to watch.

Delta and Travelport announced their new deal last week — the one that will see Delta taking control of its PSS development and management from Travelport. But Travelport will continue to host the system. I’ll tell you why I think this is a good deal for both sides.

Ryanair announced its fiscal year and fourth quarter earnings last week. While results were down, on a year-over-year basis, analysts are apparently convinced that the airline will be successful in its easyJetrification process. Ahem.

All this, and much, much, more, including a great week for airline stocks, in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

There is obviously a lot more to say about this week’s issue, but I have a confession to make. I need to go to bed. Yours truly has been fighting a rather serious respiratory infection for almost two weeks, and well, my energy today has finally left the building.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more dish.

In the meantime, go hard boil some eggs or work on your Easter bonnet.

Talk to you tomorrow!


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings. We’re coming to you a bit earlier than usual this week. Yes, yours truly is on the road. All good. Just wreaks havoc with the PlaneBusiness Banter  publishing schedule.

After I finish this, I will make my way over to the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale where this year’s Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airline Symposium opens up. Yours truly is moderating a panel this year, so I need to visit with my panel members tonight and make sure we know what the heck we’re going to talk about. Always a good thing.

All kidding aside, I am honored to have been asked to moderate this year. This is always a great industry conference.

Meanwhile, this week’s issue of PBB is now posted. What are we talking about this week? 1Q14 stock performance first and foremost.

It as a very strong quarter for the airline sector — but particularly the U.S. major airlines. We review how everyone did, and then we’ll take a look at some revisions in 1Q14 earnings estimates, and we take a look at Buckingham Research analyst Dan McKenzie’s latest competitive capacity analysis.

For those of you who are due proceeds from the final equity distribution of AAMRQ shares, that will take place on April 8. This last distribution will be the largest of the four — so shareholders of AAL shouldn’t get nervous if the stock price bobbles around a bit after this last distribution.

Meanwhile, we still don’t have one verifiable piece of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Of course that has not stopped CNN from continuing its shameless, pitiful, and at times, embarrassing coverage of the missing aircraft.

We have the latest example of that for you as well. We couldn’t resist.

This week Asiana filed a response to the NTSB in regard to its fatal crash at SFO last year. Was interesting to read the airline’s attempt to blame the software in the Boeing 777 jet for the accident. I don’t think so. While it may be the case that use of auto throttle and the auto pilot in the aircraft can be a little confusing, pilots should know how the system works. They should also know when not to land, i.e., when an approach is not stabilized.

But we all know how the official NTSB investigation process works. At this point everyone is trying to jockey for position to minimize potential liability issues.

One accident we have not heard much about from the NTSB is the Southwest Airlines accident at LaGuardia last July. In fact, unlike the Asiana crash, the NTSB has not held a hearing on the accident yet. Emails sent to a press contact at the NTSB this week went unresponded to, in regard to a potential hearing date.

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


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. I know. We need to stop doing this in the middle of the night.

What can I say? Had a very compressed writing schedule this week, as I was in San Diego earlier this week attending the ISTAT Americas 2014 Conference. I’ll tell you about some of the juicy tidbits we heard earlier this week. Next week — even more.

In other news, the DOT issued its January Air Travel Consumer Report this week. Horrid. We’ll tell you which airlines posted the best of the worst, and which airlines simply fell apart.

Meanwhile, pilots at American Eagle continue to vote on the TA in front of them. We talk a lot about the proposed contract in this week’s issue and tell you what we think the Eagle pilots should do.

In other news, will someone please just turn off CNN now? We talk about the positively awful continued joke that seems to be the norm now in terms of covering anything aviation related on cable news.  Especially when no one knows what really happened — but they still have to talk. About something. Even if they don’t know what in the hell they are talking about.

There were some intriguing tidbits that came from the ongoing legal fight between US Airways and Sabre this week. Thanks to our friends at TheBeat, we let you in on what those arguments were that made us perk up our ears. Or rather open our eyes. Or is it perk up our eyes and open our ears?

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




PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. Wow. What a day. Just as we posted this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter, new important information has been published concerning the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  No surprise that the latest news comes yet again from Jon Ostrower and Andy Pasztor at The Wall Street Journal

Jon and Andy, who have been the ones to break the story on this situation almost all week, just did it again as we published PBB. They have gone with a story in which they report,

“Officials suspect two different systems were shut off after the plane took off last weekend, one shortly after the other, people familiar with the investigation said. About an hour into the flight, the plane’s transponders stopped functioning, making it much more difficult for air-traffic control personnel to track or identify it via radar.

In the ensuing minutes, a second system sent a routine aircraft-monitoring message to a satellite indicating that someone made a manual change in the plane’s heading, veering sharply to the west. Such a turn wouldn’t have been part of the original authorized route programmed in the flight-management computer that controls the autopilot. Those system-monitoring messages are suspected to have been disabled shortly afterward, according to some of these people.”

This news comes after it was Jon and Andy who broke the story that there was evidence the aircraft had deviated from its original course and veered sharply west, after communications ended with civilian authorities.

I’m proud to call Jon a friend.

That’s a long way of saying — if you really want to know what is going on with this situation listen to Jon and Andy when they are on television being interviewed or read their stories. They are working the story like stories should be worked.

Okay, I’ll shut up now.

Speaking of stories, this week a lot of airline CEOs were in New York telling their stories to investors as JP Morgan held their annual airline, transportation, and industrials conference. Unlike years ago, however, they were anything but sob stories.

The biggest news for us out of the conference? No other major airline is guiding to a substantial reduction in revenues as a result of the winter weather cancellations. Except for the one we already knew about — United Airlines. 

Delta Air Lines, in fact, upped some of their guidance. American Airlines says RASM should come in between 2% and 4% as they had already guided.  Southwest said their quarter is still on track.

So the question remains — what’s the problem with United?

Speaking of, this week we welcome back contributing editor Brett Snyder, who returns with yet another Cranky Analysis. This week he looks at the Denver market. We know that Southwest now has the largest market share in the market, but have they been able to snatch any of United’s higher yielding revenue? The answer, and our look at a number of routes out of Denver surprised us.

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

If you will excuse me now, I am off to San Diego for this year’s ISTAT Conference. Can’t wait to see some of our subscribers there. Have a great weekend everyone!


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we talk again about the regional/major airline business model and why it’s broken. Meanwhile, after the American Eagle pilots said no to the proposed TA with American Airlines, pilots at Republic Holdings finally came to terms on a tentative agreement.  A coincidence? We think not.

Then there is SkyWest. We talk at length this week about the airline’s recent 4Q13 earnings release and analyze the airline’s earnings call. Long and short? I think the excuses for the  ExpressJet operation have run their course. As analyst Helane Becker suggested last week, perhaps it is finally time to pull the plug on the ExpressJet operation which has never been profitable since SkyWest acquired it.

We take a long in-depth look at the 4Q13 results from Air Canada this week as well. What a mess those were. We didn’t see the improvements in CASM and RASM the airline promised last quarter, and the margin performance we saw in 3Q13 evaporated in 4Q13. Meanwhile, WestJet, as we talked about last week, continues to make what we believe are strategically beneficial tweaks to their original LCC model.

Meanwhile, the Real Men of Genius are back. Yep. The union that represents the fractured group of pilots at US Airways, USAPA, is back and up to stupid tricks again. We get you up to speed on their latest antics this week — although our patience for such things has about run its course.

It was a decent week for airline stocks last week, although shares of both Air Canada and Bombardier fell off the cliff. Meanwhile, we share the latest “Question of the Week” results from Morgan Stanley’s latest institutional investor poll concerning United Airlines. 

A little bit of this. A little bit of that. And more. All in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. It’s that time. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

This week we have a 51-page analysis of the recent American Airlines earnings call. Read it. You’ll learn a lot about how to do a merger in this industry.

We also talk about the recent 4Q13 earnings numbers from JetBlue and Allegiant. 

Short and sweet? While I love to fly on JetBlue, as an investment the airline leaves a lot to be desired. CAPEX and costs are both looking to put intense pressure on margins in 2014.

In addition, pilots at the airline, who just received a 20% pay raise, filed authorization cards Monday with the NMB for a representational election with ALPA.  (But you’ll hear nothing about this in the earnings call!)

As for Allegiant, there’s no wonder that shares of the airline dropped sharply after the airline’s call. It was, as one analyst put it, “horrible.” We’ll give you the details.

Last week was not a particularly good one for the airline sector, as most stocks we track lost ground. But one stock picked up a double-digit gain. That stock was American Airlines, AAL. It was up 10% for the week.

United Airlines announced over the weekend that it was shutting down its Cleveland hub. While most of the mainline service will remain, all the regional flights will be eliminated. Not surprised. United only had to keep the hub in operation for two years after the merger before it could make the decision that it was not financially viable.  I doubt the hub ever hit any of the pre-agreed upon  financial goals.

This move, according to Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo will not only be good for United, but for American and Delta as well. We explain why.

Some of us AvGeeks also had fun Thursday afternoon. Led by Leslie Scott at Delta Air Lines and John Walton at Route Happy, a group of aviation nutcases began a Twitter conversation that started out as an airline geek version of Upworthy or Buzz Feed headlines. Hashtag is #buzzfeedthesky. Hopefully we can keep this going. It was a lot of fun. Especially when we morphed into AvGeek pick up lines. Unfortunately I was in final edits for PBB, so I didn’t get to contribute that much this afternoon.

All of this and much, much more in this mega-earnings edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good evening everyone. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted! Finally! Apologies for the rather late posting this week. Moi came down with the flu on Sunday and well, my mind was pretty much mush until about noon on Wednesday. Considering this was a big earnings week with coverage of four airlines, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Air Group, not to mention those airlines that reported THIS week, including American Airlines, well, you can see what I was up against. And why I strongly considered never getting out of bed. At all.

We also get you updated on the latest DOJ settlement-related news. Yes, Southwest Airlines is clearly the big winner in the slot divestiture sweepstakes.

We had some union-related news this week, as the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Association of Flight Attendants and American Airlines announced that the three had agreed on the terms of a bargaining agreement. The deal will see flight attendants at US Airways, who are currently represented by AFA, move over to APFA, if approved by the US Airways flight attendant group. That group will also be voting on the proposed fast track bargaining agreement that has been agreed upon. That agreement is designed to produce a new joint contract for the flight attendants at American no later than next spring.

The Air Line Pilots Association was also in the news over the last week or so. A number of subscribers seemed to believe that the recent $53 million settlement in the TWA pilot lawsuit would adversely affect the union. This is not the case. In fact, dues for ALPA pilots were just reduced in January. That is not going to change. We’ll dissect the situation for you.

Airline stocks had a rough week for the week ending 1.24.14, but this week was better – in no small part as a result of the very positive “buzz” American Airlines created on Wall Street with its earnings. Analysts liked what they saw. A lot. Oh and American CEO Doug Parker is one brave man. He went on Mad Money with Jim Cramer Wednesday. Live!

But this week the big news is earnings. We tell you why Delta is still the leader of the pack; why Southwest mystifies us; why Alaska Airlines is one hell of a great operation (and a cash cow to boot) and how United Airlines is still struggling with its transition issues.

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