Okay, it’s Monday and yours truly is nursing a horrible two-for-two Southeastern Conference hangover resulting from a pair of losses Saturday. Both LSU and Tennessee fell to their opponents Saturday, although I’d have to say that LSU played the better losing effort.
Congrats to those of you who are fans of either Auburn or Florida. They were both great games. Irons looks pretty damn impressive for Auburn.
However, my Saturday SEC losing hangover was somewhat lightened Sunday when the New Orleans Saints managed to come back from a 13-0 deficit and beat the Green Bay Packers. This sets up a huge, huge game next Monday night in New Orleans against the hated Falcons. Yep. the first game to be played in the Superdome since you-know-what.
Should be a wild night, although Michael Vick and the Falcons have looked pretty tough so far this young season.
Okay, enough weekend football chatter. And no, I won’t even get into that wild game between Philly and the Giants yesterday. Whew.
Yes, as you can tell, the new DISH is working just fine. Thank you very much.
Even if it does make my neighbors question my trailer-trash tendencies.
Now, what’s up with the Things with Wings today?
Well, you know what they say about emails. Never say anything in an email that you wouldn’t want an attorney for a competitor to see.
Apparently someone forgot to tell Mesa Air Group this basic tenet of Internet life.
According to Dave Segal, reporter for the Star-Bulletin, Hawaiian Airlines’ attorneys testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday that they have uncovered emails that prove Mesa intended to put Hawaiian’s competitor, Aloha, out of business — with the start of its carrier go!.
As many of you are probably aware, Hawaiian Airlines filed suit against Mesa earlier this year, claiming that Mesa had used proprietary information that it gained access to during Hawaiian’s bankruptcy process in starting up its go! operation — more than a year after that information was to have been destroyed or returned.
Hawaiian’s attorney Bruce Bennett testified Friday that as part of the airline’s discovery process in their request for an injunction against go!, the airline had uncovered a series of emails between Mesa CFO Peter Murnane and consultant Mo Garfinkle, who is head of GCW Consulting. These emails had previously been submitted under seal.
As we’ve mentioned previously in PBB, this situation is even more entwined because Garfinkle also worked as a consultant with previous Hawaiian Airlines‘ Inc. Chairman John Adams — during that airline’s bankruptcy process.
According to the article by Segal,
Garfinkle, a former consultant for the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, wrote in an e-mail to Murnane that the Hawaii project did not make any sense if Aloha was still in the picture, according to Bennett. Murnane’s response was that rather than wait for Aloha to die, Mesa should establish a presence in Hawaii so no one else could move in, putting Mesa in position to give Aloha “the last push,” Bennett quoted.
Bennett also said a document prepared by Mesa for potential go! investors showed that the carrier, which has built its reputation on its low fares, intended to raise prices once Aloha was out of the way.
Murnane, reached in Phoenix after the hearing, said that the e-mails and information were taken out of context.
“(Eliminating Aloha) was not part of our business plan,” Murnane said. “We went to great pains to make sure our business model made sense with all three carriers in the market. We didn’t want to go into Hawaii with the assumption that the only way this would work would be if we pushed Aloha over the edge.”
As for raising prices, Murnane said the airline’s projections were based on all three carriers competing in the market at current fare levels in 2006 and 2007. Murnane said Mesa projected that in 2008 Hawaiian and Aloha would reduce interisland seat capacity, and go! would raise fares to below where they were before go!’s arrival.
Garfinkle, reached in China, declined to comment.
This news was met by a rather nasty response from Aloha, as you can imagine.
Meanwhile, for his part, Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein called the case by Hawaiian against Mesa “hellacious” and accused Hawaiian of shifting its legal strategy by focusing on Aloha. That might be, but the news from Friday proves just how dangerous the process of legal discovery can be. Kind of like those “special prosecutor” investigations that start out looking at one thing and well, before you know it, other things pop up.
No pun intended.
As I’ve said in PBB before, I would think Hawaiian’s case against Mesa rests strongly on just how “tight” their non-disclosure agreement during the airline’s bankruptcy proceedings was.
One final interesting tidbit from Paradise.
Segal also said in his article that Bennett disclosed that Mesa and Aloha held discussions about forming a partnership before go! began service on June 9. Both Mesa and Aloha declined comment to the Star-Bulletin, but this sounds about right to us. Actually I doubt this was the first time the two entities had discussed a deal.
Frankly, I think Mesa was probably convinced Aloha was not going to get the financing needed to get out of bankruptcy earlier this spring.
For that matter, the news of Mesa’s impending arrival in Hawaii while Aloha was still struggling to get out of bankruptcy protection, was seen by many as a kind of “squeeze play” to force Aloha to do a deal with Mesa. But they didn’t.
Of course what makes all of this new news even more intriguing is that former Continental Airlines’ Chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune, Jonathan Ornstein’s nemesis, was just named Chairman of Aloha Airlines two weeks ago.
This is better than Rocky VI. Or is it VII?
Speaking of Gordo — check out this interview he gave with the Newark Star-Ledger last week. Classic Bethune. Among other things, he stokes the United-Continental merger idea — but only with Continental management at the helm of course.
Finally, we’ll close today with a quote of the day.
“The flags on the tail are killing our industry, because this flag that represents a country doesn’t allow us to be able to run this industry economically.”
That was Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the International Air Transportation Association in an interview with the Globe and Mail. Bisignani went on to say that there are far too many airlines in the world today. and that a long-overdue consolidation of the industry can’t happen unless national governments loosen restrictive trade rules.
Then again, he didn’t say anything about animals on tails. I guess that means the folks at Frontier are safe? Okay, poor attempt at a joke.
Hey, it’s Monday!
Talk to you later.