Monthly Archives: March 2008

Sources Tell Us: Aloha Airlines On Verge of Bankruptcy Filing


With about an hour and a half to go before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court closes in Hawaii, sources tell us that Aloha Airlines is set to file for bankruptcy protection before the end of the day.

More information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: Courts will be open in Hawaii on Friday. Filing could be made tomorrow.

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WSJ: United Airlines Grounds As Many as Six 747s


The Wall Street Journal is reporting online that United Airlines has temporarily grounded several Boeing 747 jumbo jets to check for compliance with federal maintenance requirements, “in a move that signals the controversy over government oversight of airliner safety checks and repairs is spreading, according to three people familiar with the issue.”

The article goes on to say:

“United’s move, which one person familiar with the matter said covers as many as six long-haul 747 aircraft that had some of their cockpit instruments validated as part of an overseas maintenance check, comes as U.S. airlines are stepping up self-audits of their maintenance compliance. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration is launching first-of-a-kind spot checks of compliance with mandatory safety directives at every U.S. carrier.

The FAA ordered the temporary groundings after discovering that test equipment used at a maintenance station in South Korea was faulty, according to one person familiar with the issue.

Re-checking the accuracy of the affected cockpit instruments may only take several hours. But one person familiar with the details said United already has delayed one trans-Atlantic flight from San Francisco by as much as five hours. FAA and United officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The six affected United aircraft, according to people familiar with the details, all went through major maintenance work at a maintenance facility in South Korea, and FAA inspectors on site noticed that some of the test equipment there wasn’t properly calibrated. It’s unclear how many of the planes flew away from the South Korean facility without having their cockpit instruments verified. It’s also unclear whether other U.S. or foreign airlines may face the same problem.”

Ticker: (Nasdaq:UAUA)

Cool Geek Gadget You Can Use To Torment the TSA

Okay, so this is a little off-topic, but not much, since if you’re reading this — you’re connected. Somehow.

A good friend of mine in the U.K. just sent me a message in which he included a link to a cool little creation that he received for his birthday.

The gift? A t-shirt that not only detects a Wi-Fi network, but changes color according to the strength of the signal.

Heh. Who wants to be the first one to wear one of these through a TSA line?

Unfortunately Firebox does not have them available on their U.S. site, but they are available on their U.K. site.


Boeing May Have to Redesign 787 Wing Box; More Delays In the Works

Steve Udvarhazy

Leave it to ILFC’s head honcho Steve Hazy to let the rest of the world know what is going on with Boeing and Airbus airplanes.

This time it’s Boeing and the news is not good.

Hazy told investors in New York yesterday at the JP Morgan Chase Transportation Conference that he believes a design change is needed in the 787’s center wing box, a key piece that connects the wings to the fuselage.

As a result, he expects the first flight of the 787 will now be delayed until the fall. Boeing has said its goal is to have the first flight by the end of June.

The next “formal” delay announcement from Boeing regarding the 787’s maiden flight would be the fourth time the aircraft’s first flight has been pushed back.

Ticker: (NYSE:BA)

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Oil Prices Take A Hit, But Still Close Above $104


Today was “sell the commodities day” on Wall Street.

All the nervous nellies who climbed into oil futures, gold, and other commodities over the last week as the financial stocks went through their personal meltdown, decided, apparently, that today it was time to unload them.

That was why, when it was reported that crude oil inventories did not increase as much as had been expected in the U.S. last week — oil prices declined anyway.

Usually, we’d see the price rise.

For the day, the price of a barrel of light crude was down almost $5, ending the day at $104.48.

Route Cuts, Increased Fares, and We’re Not Done Yet

Today we got more details about the route cuts that Delta Air Lines has put into place — all part of the airline’s efforts to cut costs. The airline also announced that it had put another  $10 fare increase into place. This comes on top of the $50 roundtrip fare increase that United Airlines initiated last week. Continental Airlines quickly matched that increase last week and as of today, the increase appears to be sticking.

Meanwhile, on the route front, Delta announced today that it has slashed its flights into Orlando. The airline announced that by June, the average number of seats it flies into Orlando will decrease by 45% compared to June 2007.

The airline said that it intends to “streamline its network” by reducing marginal routes, and reducing the number of point-to-point flights.

For John. Q. Passenger looking to fly this summer I think it’s pretty clear what they are going to find.

Fewer flights.

Fewer non-stop flights.

Reduced frequencies on particular routes, particularly low-yielding “leisure” routes.

Fewer regional flights (depending upon the routes.)

Oh, and the flights they do find? The fares are going to be higher.

With the end of the first quarter almost upon us — will we hear of more cuts and route changes from other airlines before we hear details of first quarter earnings?


JP Morgan Chase Airline Investment Conference Starts With A Bang; Delta To Offer Severance to 30,000 Employees


With a nod to our guest columnist Godzilla’s rather dire view of the world on Monday, we present — Ta-da! — the JP Morgan Chase Transportation Conference. Live from New York — it’s analysts Jamie Baker and Mark Streeter.

Time to cue up the band.

Well, then again. Maybe not.

Hell of a time for an airline investment conference, eh?

But hey, it is what it is. And this morning Delta Air Lines’ CFO Ed Bastain took advantage of his New York appearance at the conference to announce that Delta now plans to shrink its domestic passenger capacity by 10%, not 5% as originally planned in 2008, the airline plans to cut at least 2,000 jobs, and it also plans to offer severance packages to a total of 30,000 employees.

The moves come as the airline attempts to deal with the recent run-up in the price of fuel.

According to a memo that was circulated to airline employees Tuesday morning, one part of the voluntary severance program is for employees who are already eligible for retirement or for those whose age and years of service add up to at least 60, with 10 or more years of service.

The second part of the voluntary severance offer is an “early-out” offer for frontline employees — such as flight attendants and gate and ticket agents — with 10 or more years of service and for administrative and management employees with one or more years of service.

Pass Me The Ammunition

Gun.jpg When I first started blogging I promised to only write about things I knew about. Perhaps that explains the paucity of my posts to date.
Over the past few weeks it’s been a bonanza for bad stuff. How much will a barrel of oil eventually cost? How low will the dollar really go? Is it better to work for an airline or an investment bank?
So I’ve been reading the news and talking to people who know a whole lot more than I do about the financial markets, and it’s pretty clear this is uncharted territory and nobody really know what the heck is going to happen. It sure is easier to predict things “will get worse before they get better”. It’s like saying the Cubs won’t win the series in 2008; you’ve got a lot more chance to be right than wrong and nobody will remember if you were wrong anyway.
Try as I may, I have never been able to figure out the game of craps as played in Las Vegas. Seemingly you can bet on anything, and if you are lucky you can win a lot of money. No value is created, no service is provided, and minimal skill is involved. A bet is made and won, or lost.
Sounds like Wall St. to me; but then again, I am not a financial wunderkind.
Godzilla.jpg OK, that’s not fair. In part, the financial markets provide capital with which those so inclined can wager bets. Some safe, some not so safe. Some backed by logic, some backed by emotion.
It’s the emotion part that is the most difficult for me to understand. If I believed everything I heard about the state of the world everyday I’d be suicidal. Pass me the ammunition honey, the 6 o’clock news is coming on.
My personal opinion is that the bad news we are hearing about the financial markets now is just payback for the multi-million dollar bonuses that have been earned by Wall St. financial types over the past few years. I believe the system itself is basically sound and it is proving its soundness now.