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PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we’re talking about the deal United Airlines announced Wednesday with the Continental AFA MEC. It guarantees a spot at the Continental operation for those  sUAL flight attendants who are on the furlough list. Bold courageous move on the part of the CAL AFA MEC, and the airline for that matter. Great for the flight attendants whose jobs were in jeopardy. Nobody likes to see jobs go away. A win-win. Kudos!

We’re also talking about Sabre. The company filed its IPO registration papers with the SEC this week. The thing about private companies filing for an IPO? They have to come clean about all that stuff they previously didn’t have to talk about. Including the fact the company hasn’t been profitable since 2008. Or that American Airlines got a bigger check than had previously been assumed to as part of the settlement of their lawsuit with Sabre two years ago. But that’s just the tip of the tidbits.

We are also talking about why it is that ALPA, United, American, US Airways and Delta are fighting Air Norwegian’s latest expansion efforts into the U.S.

We finish up our look into 2014 and what we see as important, and we also talk about the attempt by TWU to get a restraining order against Southwest Airlines, after the airline declared an “emergency” concerning sick leave. Yep, you know the situation we’re talking about. The meltdown at Chicago’s Midway Airport earlier this month where a large number of Southwest’s baggage handlers apparently didn’t show up for work. The judge here in Dallas refused to rule, said the matter was something for arbitration.

On the stock front, it was a so-so week, with shares of Air Canada taking the top spot and shares of Bombardier at the bottom. (The announcement that Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft rollout has been delayed, for the fourth time, did not make investors happy.)

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


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we are heavy on labor-related news and commentary. American Eagle and its pilots came to a tentative agreement not too long after we published last week; U.S. District Court judge Roslyn Silver finally ruled in the US Airline Pilots Association Addington case. She also ruled on whether or not former America West pilots are entitled to a seat at the table in the American Airlines’ pilot seniority discussions.

She also, in no uncertain terms, made her displeasure at the antics of USAPA’s attorneys quite clear. We have a link to her complete ruling in this week’s issue.

Meanwhile, as part of her ruling, Judge Silver advised that USAPA had to remove itself from any seniority discussions as soon as the group is no longer the bargaining agent for the airline.

In a related move,  the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines held their board meeting this week and filed a request for single carrier status with the NMB.

Then there is that lovely dysfunctional bunch up in Chicago. No, this time I’m not talking about management at United Airlines. I’m talking about the Association of Flight Attendants, the union that represents the flight attendants at the airline.

This week United announced that it would be forced to furlough hundreds of s-United flight attendants, as voluntary efforts to bring down the airline’s FA headcount had not succeeded in generating enough response. The United operation is still overstaffed on the FA side.

The company was forced to make this decision to go with involuntary furloughs, which it did not want to do, only after AFA essentially refused the company’s fourth offer to provide for a “crossover” that would allow s-United flight attendants to move to the Continental Airlines side of the operation.

Well, actually they didn’t refuse outright. They just insisted on onerous conditions such that the airline couldn’t agree to a crossover.

United has actually asked AFA to do this four times now. FOUR. AFA allowed it to happen once. And by all accounts, those who made the move are happy they did so.

We give you our take on why we think it is that AFA labor leaders at United don’t want more crossovers.

A hint: the union is hurting its own members in an attempt to keep its political turf intact.

In other news, Brett Snyder, PlaneBusiness contributing editor, is back this week with another Cranky Analysis column. This week he digs into the data to see just how bad a holiday season Southwest Airlines experienced. The results? It was bad. The airline suffered serious operational issues systemwide. We give you the data. And then some.

Lots of news this week concerning American Airlines and US Airways. They will begin phasing in codesharing next week, and the airlines announced which routes the two are cutting, as a requirement of the DOJ slot divestitures at DCA and LGA. We like the decisions they made.

Oh, and then we had a Southwest Airlines plane land at the wrong airport. But you already know all about that.

It was a good week for the airline sector last week, and analysts continued to fine tune 4Q13 estimates this week as earnings will start rolling out next week.

We also have the November DOT Air Consumer Travel Report numbers. They look very much like the October numbers. We’ll tell you who was naughty and who was nice.

All this and much, much, more, including a ton of letters, in this week’s PlaneBusiness Banter.



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1We’re back! Hello my friends. Yes, the holidays are finally over and it’s time to get back to business. PlaneBusiness.

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

This week we try to regroup from the last three weeks of too much food, too much food, and well, too much food. Meanwhile, over the last week the airline industry has tried to recover from too much cold, too many passengers, and too much snow. Yes, it’s been a tad nasty out there. For those of you who live in Chicago, our deepest condolences. When the fuel and the glycol freezes, there just ain’t a whole lot else you can do but wait it out. At least the city has great restaurants.

This week we do, of course, talk about the weather-related issues that affected the industry over the last week. In addition the new FAA FAR 117 regs went into effect on Jan. 4. There was some whining from some airlines this week claiming that the FAR 117 changes were making recovery that much more difficult — and I’m sure that is true to an extent. But most airlines did a pretty good job at getting their operations back up and running. With one glaring exception.

That exception of course was JetBlue. The airline was forced to essentially shut down operations on the East Coast this week, as the airline’s operations collapsed under the weight of, well, having a route structure that is heavily weighted to the East Coast.

Some airlines did better than others helping passengers with cancelled flights, and once again, the importance of Twitter and its place as a “go-to” way to directly connect with someone at an airline who can help a passenger is becoming more and more obvious.

Phone lines to most airlines were jammed — but some airlines did much better than others at helping passengers directly using social media. We talk more about that this week.

Of course, this week is our big year-end issue in terms of airline stock performance as well. We look at the three airline stocks that notched triple-digit gains in 2013, we look at the winners from the fourth quarter, and of course, we pay homage to the bankrupt shares of AMR Corp. When trading was finally halted in the shares in December, prior to the switchover to AAL shares, the gain for the year exceeded 1300%.

History was made. We’ll never see anything like this again. Not in any other bankruptcy. (And I’m not just talking airline bankruptcies).

We go over the latest DOT Air Consumer Travel Report Stats for the month of October that were released while we were on hiatus. Short and sweet? Delta Air Lines maintained its position as king of the legacies, and Southwest and AirTran continue to struggle as the two airlines attempt to merge their operations.

What will we see happen in 2014? We put the Karnak hat on and give it a shot. This week we talk about the three big guys. Next week — we’ll tackle the rest.

Meanwhile, it’s crunch time at American Eagle. The regional carrier of American Airlines, which is now just one of the regional airlines serving American Airlines announced in December it is changing its name and its logo. Meanwhile, this was all announced as pilots at the airline and management continue to attempt to negotiate a new tentative agreement.

Negotiations were scheduled for this week but as of now, I have not heard any news yay or nay. We know the playbook here. Too many regional airlines chasing too few opportunities means the major players are now calling the shots. Same here. Management says it has to have more concessions to bring costs in line with other regional providers.

All this, the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel, our opinion on the “tail vote” at American and much, much, more in this week’s issue.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

hollyxmasHello everyone! Our last issue of PlaneBusiness Banter for 2013 is now posted!

I’m sure you will not be surprised to find out that this week’s issue is dominated by coverage of Monday’s events in Dallas. That’s right. US Airways and American Airlines are now officially merged, trading under the ticker symbol AAL. While they are merged, as most of you know, both airlines will continue to operate as separate entities until the carrier can obtain a Single Operating Certificate. But in the meantime, look for codesharing to start soon, we expect to see some schedule changes announced shortly and today, the airline announced a new regional jet order.

It’s not going to be quiet around here.

It was a pretty spectacular day at Centreport on Monday. We were there, and we’ll tell you all about it.

All in all, a definite shift in culture going on at Centreport. The employees of American deserve it.

In other news, Delta Air Lines held their annual Investor Day presentation in New York on Wednesday. We’ve got a copy of the presentation deck for subscribers. As I say in this week’s issue, the airline was specific, thorough, and extremely helpful in providing information about what the airline intends to do in 2014 and how it plans to do it. We like that.

What can we say about the phenomenally successful WestJet Christmas video? Except that at last glance it had been viewed more than 15 million times. Bravo. Best airline Christmas video ever!

This week we also talk to our mole at the North Pole, Clyde the Elf. Clyde once again graciously (and secretly) gave us access to airline CEO letters to Santa this week. Boy, did we learn a lot!

Last week was not a good week for airline stocks. Hey, it happens. Rising oil prices are a short-term headache. I’m not overly concerned.

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



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

dfw Hello everyone! Yes, I come to you this afternoon from a not-so-lovely part of the world. Dallas Ft. Worth is now “entombed” as one of our subscribers put it today under about 5-6 inches of ice and sleet. The airport is a holding pen for tired passengers, most of whom aren’t going anywhere. As for me, I am going to consider myself lucky if I get out of the driveway and down the road to the big hoopla celebration Monday morning as the new American Airlines Group takes to the skies. You see, temperatures are just going to get lower all weekend. Not higher. Yep. It’s Super Bowl Week all over again. Solid as a rock out there.

Our apologies for being a day late this week. But the WWH lost power yesterday as a result of a tree falling across some power lines down the street. We were finally brought back on line earlier today. Yes, it’s been a little hectic around here.

Aside from this less-than-desirable state of affairs that Mother Nature has decided to throw in our direction, this week in PBB we are talking all kinds of things. First, there were some serious management shifts, departures, and new titles announced at United Airlines yesterday and today. We’ll tell you who is out, who is still in, and who had some responsibilities altered.  Oh, and yes, I think the person who owned the dog that ate the demand forecast in the third quarter? Yeah, I think he’s left the building.

Meanwhile, we update you on the latest news concerning the slot wars. You know — the fight for the slots that American and US Airways have had to cough up as part of their deal with the Department of Justice. Looks like Virgin America and Southwest are the winners at LGA — but what about DCA? Better yet, the catfight for American’s gates at Love Field just escalated up a couple of notches this week as well. Delta has already gone public with its desire to keep the gates its leases from American there. Now Southwest Airlines says it wants them.

Let the fight commence.

It was a good week for airline stocks last week. We’ll update you on all that. Energy prices have been on a bit of an up and down run the last week or so though. We’ll explain why that is the case as well.

Finally, we give you a peek at the Business Travel Hall of Fame Dinner we attended this week. Former American Airlines Chairman and CEO Robert Crandall was certainly making the rounds of the event — or should I say he was making the most of the fact that neither Gordon Bethune nor Herb Kelleher was there. It was a great night. Nothing like being at the St. Regis in New York for Christmas.

All this, and much more, including a profit warning from Qantas, Southwest’s new route cuts, and a great quote of the week, in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 



Turkey Day Edition of PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Gobble, gobble, gobble. This week’s Turkey Day Edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

Clearly the big news is that which came down this morning — U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane approved AMR’s restructuring plan which means the airline can now exit bankruptcy and merge with US Airways. 

It’s been one long two years.

Closing date is now set for Dec. 9, as had been anticipated.

But if you think this means the DOJ anti-trust case is over, au contraire. The fight over just which airlines are going to allowed to bid on slots that are given up by the two airlines has just started. Then there is the matter of the two gates at Dallas Love Field that American Airlines has been ordered to give up as part of the DOJ settlement. Delta Air Lines wants to keep them. (They currently lease them from American). And they want even more gates if they can get them.

But didn’t the DOJ say these divested assets had to go to “low fare” airlines? That’s correct.

But Delta is arguing that is not fair. I’m sure United is going to join into the fray in a big way before this is all over as well.

This fight is going to get much more heated before it is settled. No question.

This week I also talk about my recent trip to United Airline’s Global Gateway at Newark. I learned a lot about the changes that are coming to the airport, including a $100 million plus in-line baggage screening and delivery system, removal of the old blocky structures that used to house the screeners in the check-in areas, a new Global Services check-in location, 20% more capacity for check-ins at Terminal C, and all kinds of other goodies.

Oh and United’s new satellite-based Wi-Fi product? It rocks. It’s fast. It’s awesome.

Of course the only problem is that it is not installed on that many aircraft yet.

But trust me — you’ll love it.

Business Travel News issued its annual Corporate Travel Airline Survey last week. The survey questions corporate travel buyers. Last year Delta Air Lines dominated the survey. This year they did it again, but we had a lot movement underneath Delta, and in fact, American picked up some ground on Delta in a couple of categories. But the airline that posted the biggest improvement year-over-year was……

You’ll have to read this week’s issue to find out.

It was another great week for airline stocks last week. We tell you who was naughty and nice.

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



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

We have a reasonably big issue this week, as we have two full in-depth earnings reports — WestJet and Air Canada. We also look at the recent earnings results from IAG, parent of British Airways, Air France/KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair and LATAM. 

Of that group, which airline posted the best results for 3Q13? That’s right. IAG Group. Even though Iberia is still a part of the company!

Meanwhile, there was a lot going on in the industry this week. We have more news on the American Airlines- US Airways merger. There was a little session with the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge on Wednesday, but I’m not worried about that. I’ll tell you why.

Meanwhile, next Monday is the big day. That is the day that U.S. Bankruptcy  Judge Sean Lane is expected to accept the AMR plan of reorganization and set them free. Free to merge with US Airways. 

The chatter we continue to hear says that we should have a formal merger announcement sometime around Dec. 9.

In other news, it looks like we are headed for a nasty, ugly, expensive representational election for the combined flight attendant group at the New American. I’m disappointed. While membership of APFA outnumbers that of the AFA at US Airways, by a significant margin, APFA had been working for months with leaders of the AFA to bring them in as part of the process — rather than simply battening down the hatches in preparation for an unnecessary representational fight.

The two sides seemed very close the last month to coming to terms on an agreement that would have allowed leaders of both unions to work on a combined contract. But all of that now appears to have blown up — as AFA notified APFA that a meeting scheduled for 11/27 would now look at a totally new agenda.

In a letter that was publicly distributed this week, APFA President Laura Glading wrote the head of the AFA group at US Airways and effectively said, “No thanks.”

I think we’re headed to a representational fight here. And it didn’t have to be this way.

We have the latest DOT Air Consumer Travel Report numbers for September. Delta Air Lines continue to lead the legacy carriers in every metric, while Southwest Airlines and AirTran continued to post less-than-optimal numbers. Southwest, in fact, posted the worst on-time performance of any airline that reports to the DOT in September.

However — the airline still managed to take the first place nod in terms of having garnered the fewest number of complaints.

It was a great week for airline stocks. We’ll tell you why. We’ll also tell you why the New American Airlines will be listed on the Nasdaq and not the New York Stock Exchange.

And what is the deal with the American Airlines A319s and their seats? Is it the fault of maintenance being too rough on them when doing security inspections or the fault of the manufacturer? Whatever the reason, they continue to crack. Reliability on the aircraft is apparently abysmal as a result.

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



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings! This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. No surprise, I’m sure, but we are talking a lot about the DOJ settlement with American Airlines and US Airways that was released on Tuesday. We tell you what the deal really means — and not what the headlines you’ve been reading say it means.

We also give you a head’s up on what is now going to be the best show to watch — the fight for slots  the two airlines are being forced to divest themselves of. DOJ wants “LCCs” to get them. Only problem — what is an LCC? And why shouldn’t other airlines like Delta and United have a crack at them as well? Is Alaska an LCC? The fireworks haven’t even started yet.

We also take an in-depth look at 3Q13 earnings from both SkyWest and Republic. 

Oh, and how about that IAM vote that came down last night in Everett? Where will the 777X be built? Dunno. But the possibilities just got a whole lot more complicated.

Lots of other stuff as well! I’m off to New York. Have a great Thursday everybody!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hi guys! Just a quick note before I have to run out the door to let you know that this week’s humongous, ginormous (are those really words?) mega-earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

We have in-depth earnings reviews of Hawaiian Holdings, parent of Hawaiian Airlines; Spirit Airlines; JetBlue Airways; Allegiant Travel Company, parent of Allegiant Airlines; and Alaska Air Group, parent of Alaska Airlines. 

More in a bit. Need to get out of here and off to a meeting. Talk to you soon!


October 6, 2013

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

This week’s issue is a bit later then usual. Yours truly was flying around the countryside this week, and then I came down with a damn cold Thursday after I had returned to the Worldwide Headquarters. Blech.

However neither sniffling, sneezing or runny eyes could keep me from my appointed task. Just took me a while.

Oh my gosh. What a week. I started by flying to Tampa – St. Petersburg on Sunday, where I presented to the Society of Collegiate Travel and Expense Managers. Then Monday afternoon I was off to Miami and The Beat Live — a conference I’ve enjoyed attending and participating in for the last six years.

In this week’s issue of PBB, I’ll tell you what the hot buttons were at the conference. But I’ll give you some hints — complaints about lack of customer service at Concur; continued confusion and misinformation about IATA’s NDC proposal; and a rousing discussion about the place of technology in travel — what works, what doesn’t, and why not.

While all this was going on, Tuesday was one hell of a day in the airline industry as first, the Department of Justice tried to convince the Judge who in charge of the American Airlines/US Airways antitrust case that she should grant a stay — and delay the trial — because of the government shutdown.

The Judge not only told the DOJ no, there was not going to be a delay, she laid out the planned schedule for the trial again, adding that she anticipates ruling on the case no later than the middle of January. I like this woman more and more.

Then we have U.S. airlines over in Europe trying to bring home airplanes. But they can’t.

Seems that no U.S. airline will be able to take delivery of any aircraft manufactured outside the United States as long as the office that performs the registration tasks for aircraft remains closed — the result of the ridiculousness in Washington.

Don’t get me started on that topic.

Oh, and speaking of stupid political tricks, we had the flip that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott did Tuesday, as he switched positions on the planned merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

He will no longer be a party to the DOJ case against it.

Not surprisingly, he said that politics played no role in his decision. Right. In return for this “support” the airline essentially promised nothing it was not already going to do in the first place. That’s okay. Everybody looked good. It provided a nice photo op. And now the pressure can be put on other attorneys general to get with the plan.

But this had NOTHING to do with the fact that a certain Democratic candidate for Governor (Abbott is the presumed Republican nominee) was announcing her candidacy on Thursday and certainly was not going to hesitate to use Abbott’s opposition to a merger that affects so many of his constituents in her comments.

No. Nothing whatsoever.

Just another week in Paradise.

Oh, and did I tell you how American Airlines sold me a day pass to an Admiral’s Club the other day when I checked in at Tampa for my flight to Miami? Only one problem. There is no Admiral’s Club in Tampa.

Fun with upsells.

Last week we also saw the end of 3Q13. (That’s third quarter 2013 for you who are not that Wall Street cognizant.)

How did the airline sector do for the quarter? Great.

This week we get you up on all that — and we talk about the latest tweaks and changes in analyst estimates and targets for 3Q13, following a number of airline updates to guidance. Essentially United Airlines surprised analysts on the down side for the quarter the week before, but both Delta Air Lines and US Airways issued guidance this week that puts both airlines on track to report earnings ahead of previous estimates.

Yee haw.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.