Monthly Archives: September 2006

AFA Says Talks Are At An Impasse with Northwest

Okay boys and girls. We need to get you updated on this ongoing mess.

Last week a federal judge gave Northwest Airlines the injunction they had sought against the AFA-CWA.

As expected, the AFA-CWA then filed an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yesterday it was reported that the National Mediation Board had contacted both sides and requested they come to Washington next week.

This then was followed by news today that the AFA-CWA has told the NMB that talks between the union and the airline are at an impasse, requesting to be released from negotiations.

So in effect the union is now fighting on two fronts. On the one hand they continue their fight through the courts. On the other hand, they are bringing the Railroad Labor Act back into the picture by asking the NMB to declare an impasse.

Stay tuned.

Spirit Does It Again; This Time They Need to Check Out a Copy of American History 101

Spirit April 11 2006-1 When last we checked in with the bizarro world of Spirit Airlinesadvertising, the airline was promoting its “Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa” Sale.

Today, yet another winner from the airline.

And I quote,

Spirit Airlines Introduces the Dead Presidents Sale

Wednesday September 20, 4:00 pm ET

Holla for Fares Starting at a Dolla(A)!

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sept. 20, 2006–Spirit Airlines today announces the Dead Presidents Sale with fares starting at $1(A) each way.

“How many dead presidents does it take to go on your next trip? Here’s a hint: During Spirit Airlines’ Dead Presidents sale, it’s not all about the Benjamins,” said Graham Parker, vice president of pricing and revenue management for Spirit Airlines. “We’re offering fares that start with our first president – that’s $1 each way! So holla if you want to spend a dolla for your next flight! We’ll also have fares in honor of Lincoln, Hamilton (our honorary president), Jackson, Grant, and Benjamin, so click on over to and let the Dead Presidents take you on your next trip in style and of course, for less!”

Okay, now I admit, the first time I read this I missed the point. Benjamins? What’s Benjamin Harrison got to do with this?

Then I got it.

But the problem is — Benjamin Franklin, who appears on the $100 bill — was not a President of the United States.

Yes, he is dead.

But he was not a President.

<shaking my head>

Maybe the guys at Spirit have been running around outside a little too long with those kites?

Teacher Arrested at JFK Prior to Boarding

Steel-Protractor A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a T- square, a slide rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-Gebra is a problem for us,” Gonzales said. “They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents and different angles in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like ‘x ‘ and ‘y’ and refer to themselves as ‘unknowns’. They belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with co-ordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say: ‘There are three sides to every triangle.'”

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.”


Monday: Football and More Trouble in Paradise

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!.

Palm Trees

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 AirlinesInc. 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?

Bethune 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.

OT: Charter, Take This Box and Shove It

For those of you who have to endure having Charter Communications as your cable television provider, two words: my condolences.

Today has to rank up there as one of the happiest in my life.

Today I got to tell Charter to take this box and shove it. (Actually it was two cable boxes and two remotes.)

As someone who relies heavily on consistent and efficient high-speed internet access (I already dumped Charter on that front in December) and as a devoted fan of football in high definition — last weekend was just yet another example of how horrible Charter service is. One that once again involved no cable feed and lying Charter employees.

But today I finally got to tell them to get lost.

Yes, because of the abundance of trees in my neighborhood, (or actually the ones in my neighbor’s yard across the street) it was touch and go as to whether I could even make the switch to satellite or not. And after five hours of trying three different positions on the side of the house, it was still “no go” late yesterday.

But then, one of the sweating installers came in and we had a serious talk.

Either I put the dish on a pole in the front yard — or I wasn’t getting DISH.

Or DIRECT or anything.

Except the evil Charter.

Do I care if the neighbors think I’m trailer trash?



Actually as the installer noted, a couple of strategically placed azaleas would do a good job of camouflage. Or a camellia bush. Just not too big.

At that point, I really didn’t care if he had said we had to put it on the mailbox on a 20-foot pole.

“Go ahead,” I said.

Three hours later, I was shocked to find out Ina Garten has freckles. I tell you what. If you haven’t seen European whole grain bread sliced in high definition on FoodNetworkHD, you’ve not lived.

But even better, I got to call Charter today and tell them “no mas.”

I would give you a list of their various transgressions, but it would take half the day to compile and we all have better things to do.

There. Thanks. I feel even better now.

On to The Next Round


Time to crank up the appeal process.

Today U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero overturned the decision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and issued Northwest Airlines’ request for a preliminary injunction against any work action by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

Personally? I disagree with the ruling. I think it guts the hell out of the RLA.

Next up? No doubt an appeal by the flight attendants.

Weee’re Baaaack

Home-Typewriter Copy-7

PBB subscribers take note. Look for out post-summer hiatus issue of PlaneBusiness Banter to be posted later today.

As for PlaneBuzz, okay, okay, already. We’re working on getting back in high gear here. But you know how it is. You take two weeks off, you come back, and it takes a week to figure out what you’ve missed.

We’ll be back — we just have a little writing to get out of the way first.