Monthly Archives: November 2006

PBB Is Now Posted

Home-Typewriter Copy-1-10

You can access this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter here. (But only if you are a subscriber. Speaking of, why aren’t you a subscriber yet?)

My thanks to an ever-vigilant reader who caught our earlier link omission.

Shame on us.

American/APA Relations: American Rejects APA’s Offer


You didn’t really think American Airlines (AMR:NYSE) was going to come back to the Allied Pilots Association with an unqualified “yes” to their list of “cost-free” or “low-cost” goodies they asked for in return for the changes the airline needs in their contract in order to fly DFW-Beijing non-stop …now did you?

If you’ve not kept up with this drama, American Airlines is bidding, along with Northwest, United, and Continental, for the next China route from the DOT. American is the only airline that does not have its pilots fully online with the deal — as the pilot union needs to agree to amend its current contract if the long flight is to be flown non-stop.

Almost two weeks ago the APA gave American a laundry list of “no-cost” items it would like to see added to its current contract — in return for the agreement to fly the longer flights.

In that list, which included such things as free broadband at all crew hotels, there was also a request that pilots would receive priority for jump seats — a request that did not sit well with the airline’s flight attendants.

But as far as I know, there was no stipulation that the airline pay to have a pilot’s piano tuned if the airline asks them to move to another domicile. (Yes, that was a part of an actual pilot contract with an airline which shall remain nameless at this time.)

Yesterday American responded to the pilots’ proposal. Their response? A resounding “no.”

Or, as Captain Fury puts it in this latest set of cartoon panels — it wasn’t just a no, it was a “bitch-slap.”

Don’t know who Captain Fury is? We’ve mentioned him in PlaneBusiness Banter before, but I’m not sure if I’ve talked about him here or not.

Captain Fury is a well-connected American Airlines’ pilot with a wicked sense of humor, and an even-more wicked ability to capture personalities in pen and ink. Captured above are the Captain’s renderings of Jeff Brundage, American’s SVP of Human Relations on the left, and Denny Newgren, a negotiator for American.

Below — one panel which incorporates a shot across the bow at the airline’s Chief Pilot, Mark Hetterman, a dig at the airline’s Fall Leadership Conference and a slam of the legendary PUP bonuses that management has received. And yes, “management” includes Hetterman.

If I was Gerard Arpey, Jeff, or (god forbid) Mark Hetterman, this guy would be my worst nightmare.

You can catch the Captain’s latest take on the continuing APA/AA drama here.


Air New Zealand Employees Use Logo to Make Their Point


Upset that Air New Zealand is planning on outsourcing worker’s jobs to ground services company Swissport in a joint venture with Australia’s Transfield Services, 1700 ground workers have called for an injunction against the company. Aiding their efforts? This modified, and I might add, rather creative, version of the Air New Zealand logo.

Tuesday the airline officially declined comment on the creative ability of its employees, saying only that it intended to respond to the group’s request for an injunction.

And the News Here is What?


One of the things I am always very careful about doing when I write is to give credit to those reporters or sources who are first to report a particular story.

As a result, we have a tomato to throw at Mary Schlangenstein from Bloomberg, who reported Monday about the grounding of the American Airlines’ (AMR:NYSE) Maddogs that occurred earlier this month.

We first reported the story here in PlaneBuzz on Nov. 14. We followed up that week with a story in PlaneBusiness Banter.

A mention of the fact that we had reported the story here first would have been much appreciated.

A350 Funding Decisions Come at Crucial Point of WTO Dispute


While other news outlets were highlighting the fact that the major players involved last week — France, DaimlerChrysler, and Lagardere cancelled a scheduled meeting to discuss the financing of the Airbus A350 aircraft — “squabbling” was how Reuters put it — Flight International focused today on the real issue here.

The real issue is that any type of launch aid is now subject to closer scrutiny, because the WTO dispute continues between the United States and the European Commission. The question at issue here? Government subsidies to aircraft manufacturers.

Speaking of, the U.S. has filed its first WTO submission, and the EC is expected to reply by Feb. 9. Meanwhile the EC has already asked the WTO to select panelists and set a timetable for its own case against the U.S. before the end of business today.

Given this backdrop, I think it is safe to say that the manner in which the new aircraft’s launch is funded is a bit more complicated then it would have been previously.

I wouldn’t, therefore, call the cancellation of the funding meeting last week a result of “squabbling” or “infighting” amongst the EADS partners. Rather, I’d call it making sure their respective backsides are covered no matter what plan is adopted — given the current political landscape.

It’s Back-To-Work Monday. Yawn.

Hello all. It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving. But unlike most years, because Thanksgiving came so early this year, it’s not December yet. I feel like I’m in some kind of nebulous time frame as a result.

A look at the market news today gives us a couple of reasons why many stocks are trading down on the day, especially the airline sector.

First, the price of crude oil is back up above $60 a barrel, fueled by comments this weekend by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister supporting a further cutback in OPEC productions levels in December.

Walmart Holiday Frown.03

Second, it appears that Black Friday was not the blockbuster retail giant Wal-Mart had hoped it would be. Initial indications are that the company actually saw sales down from last year — and this was after the company started hyping its drop-dead Friday deals weeks in advance.

However, it appears (although numbers are not out yet) that other retailers fared a bit better. We just don’t know by how much. In the meantime, Wal-Mart’s less-than-stellar performance has traders wondering just how strong this Christmas season is going to turn out to be.

Anxiety and the unknown. Not a good combination for those on the Street to contend with.

Especially now — as the question of the underlying strength of the economy going into 2007 is somewhat suspect.

As a result, the one-two punch of higher oil prices and potentially softer-than-expected retail holiday sales are weighing heavily on Wall Street today. Last time I checked the Dow Jones Industrials Index was down 150 points while the Nasdaq was running about 50 points down on the day.

As for the airlines, the news was certainly less than festive as a quick check of the airline stocks we track at PlaneBusiness as of 12:28 P.M. CST showed every airline stock in the red.