Monthly Archives: August 2008

Gustav’s impact on oil production

Active energy platforms in the Gulf of Mexico
While we wait for Gustav to make landfall, and hope that Holly’s family remains safe and sound, we also need to consider the impact of the hurricane on the oil and energy industry. This graphic from NOAA reminds us of the sheer number of energy-drilling platforms, most now evacuated, situated in the northern Gulf of Mexico — almost 4,000 active platforms. What we don’t see here is the shore-based infrastructure. Pipelines, terminals, and refineries along the coast are going to be hit as well.
We don’t know how bad it’s going to be yet, but there’s likely to be a hit at the gas pump for drivers and airlines alike nationwide in the coming days.
Another note as the hurricane approaches, Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans discontinued flight operations at 6:00 PM Central time. Following some of the discussion over at, many airlines ran extra flights and used larger planes to assist in evacuations. AirTran, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Sun Country, US Airways, and other airlines all contributed to the flight exodus efforts.

PlaneDad Arrives….But He Won’t Win an On-Time Award

I am happy to report that PlaneDad has arrived at the Worldwide Headquarters in exile — although it took him more than 14 hours to get here. Normally? That trip would probably take about 7 or 8.

All I can say is this: If, when I am 89 years old, I can get into a car and drive for 14 hours straight after no sleep for a day — and not end up in a ditch somewhere — I will consider my life a success.

Yes, he’s now asleep.

Meanwhile, the report from the real Worldwide Headquarters is that neighbors have banded together, compared contents of refrigerators and freezers, amounts of gasoline in gas cans, number of generators, and and are now hunkered down for the duration.

Talk to you later.

Observations at 5 AM; PlaneDad Hits the Road With a Million Other People

Sleep? What’s that?gustraffic.jpg

At 2:30 this morning my father, who lives in Slidell, Louisiana, called to tell me that he was “throwing in the towel.” He had put what few things he could in his Toyota Corolla and was heading out. To where, he had no idea.

Apparently the exhortations of the local officials to get out, along with a further shift in the projected path of Gustav had convinced him that no, maybe he had best get the hell out of Dodge.

To put all of this in perspective, PlaneDad is 89 years old.

As late as yesterday evening, he had assured me that he had no intention of leaving. He was going to “ride it out.” And, after all, how could he let all those frozen TV dinners in the freezer he had just picked up at the commissary go to waste?

Tonight, apparently, he finally decided that perhaps this was not the best course of action.

I fear that he is going to find himself stuck in hours of traffic as a result. This decision was made way too late. And yes, I am very worried about him being on the road in the middle of the night.

But at least I was able to convince him to go north and then west. Hopefully he will end up in DFW at some point, where friends Brad and Beth Bartholomew now have me as a house guest. Dad will be guest number two.

As for the rest of the PBB family — they are still planning to “ride it out” in Covington, Louisiana at the Worldwide Headquarters.

All positive thoughts in that regard are strongly encouraged.

All for now — from what is now officially the PBB Worldwide Headquarters — in exile.

Gustav From a Safe and Beautiful Distance

Unfortunately one of the ironic things about hurricanes is that as devastating as they are — they are undeniably impressive to watch as they build in intensity. Here is a great shot that someone just sent me. You can clearly see the eye of Gustav as it moves over Cuba, and you can see also see his running mate Hanna — right behind him. gustavcuba.jpg

To get the full effect, click here for the complete loop of the image.

Advisory for PlaneBusiness Banter Subscribers: Gustav Hits Cat 4

As Yogi Berra supposedly said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”hurricane.jpg

Exactly three years ago yours truly was on “vacation” from our normal weekly publishing schedule for PlaneBusiness Banter when Hurricane Katrina decided to make a little visit to Southeast Louisiana.

It took us more than four months before things returned to something even close to “normal.”

Today, I’m sitting here looking at what is now a Category 4 hurricane by the name of Gustav, which frankly, as of this posting, is on a track that is potentially much more dangerous to where our Worldwide Headquarters is located — than was the case with the more Easterly track of Katrina. Remember – New Orleans came through Katrina just fine — it was the levees that failed that caused the massive flooding of the city after the fact. Not the storm itself.

But the Mississippi Gulf Coast was wiped cleaned.

One always wants to be on the west side of a hurricane — not the east or northeast side.

But today, that is exactly where it appears the Worldwide Headquarters is going to find itself.

On the good news side of the coin — I am not at the Worldwide Headquarters. I am in Dallas.

As regular readers of PBB know, I have been looking at potential new Worldwide Headquarters locations in the DFW metropolitan area over the last couple of months, and while on “vacation” was also doing some work with folks here who are working on our new subscriber site.

I was scheduled to fly back to New Orleans this week. Not going to happen now.

The bad news is that David, who edits PBB, compiles our earnings summaries, and prepares our weekly graphs and charts, in addition to doing all of our subscriber relations is at the Worldwide Headquarters, along with Max the Cat, Mom Cat, Pitty Pat and Ernesto. Then there are the two hounds — Bita and Esther. Then there are the back-up hard drives for PBB. My big desktop Mac. My HD television. My car. My pin-up photos of Herb. My clothes. My ….My…. stuff.

Can you tell I am just a little “over the edge” today?

Wait until tomorrow.

And Monday.

And Tuesday.

And Wednesday.

So — just a head’s up for PBB subscribers. Our 11th anniversary issue that was due to be published this week is looking like a rather “iffy” situation.

I’d be lying if I said anything different.

More later. I need to go try and convince my father, who is 89, that he needs to get in the car NOW, and get out of Southeast Louisiana.

As for David, he says he is going to stay and hold down the PlaneBusiness corporate fort and ad hoc animal shelter.

Shaking my head.

As for me — send hard liquor.

Uncomfortable Flashback To August 2005

I’m supposed to be on vacation.

However, a little something has cropped up in the Caribbean that has ripped my attention away from Hillary, Barack and Teddie. Much less Red Stripe beer and falafels. Oh, and then there is that little matter of the third anniversary of Katrina’s visit coming up on Friday.

His name is Gustav.

Gustav meet the fine readers of PlaneBuzz.

Fine readers of PlaneBuzz, meet Gustav.


Just a little known fact for PlaneBuzz readers. If this track holds up, Hurricane Gustav will pass directly over the Worldwide Headquarters on Monday night.

I don’t like the threat of these types of deja vu things. Katrina was enough. I have no desire to do this again.

I also don’t like the National Weather Service deciding that Gustav is going to cross the breadth of the Gulf of Mexico — the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico– and not be more than a Category Two upon its arrival onshore either.

Nope. I don’t buy it.

I decided this evening, or rather, a good friend of mine decided this evening, that a pitcher of margaritas was just the thing to while away the hours as we await more definitive news as to just where this storm decides to go.

And hey, don’t look now, but there is another one, right behind Gustav. Same track.

I’m going back to finish off the margaritas.

Sharing the Pain

While perusing the local paper here yesterday I came upon a story about the service reductions going on at TUS. belttightening.jpg As earlier announced airline service reductions begin to appear in the current schedules, the manifestation of those cuts will be reduced passenger counts and service to fewer cities. Tucson Airport passenger numbers for July dipped 3% versus last year, and that’s before any real reductions hit. As of of next week the list of cities served from TUS will shrink 41%, down to 18 cities.
The brunt of service reductions will occur at medium and smaller airports, like TUS, but even hub airports will feel a pinch. Phoenix Sky Harbor, long the nemesis of Tucson Airport, will see an 11% reduction in scheduled service during the 4th quarter of 2008. However it will still be a viable alternative to TUS, who will see a reduction of 26% for the upcoming quarter. Complicating matters a bit is the price of driving your own vehicle from TUS to PHX, not to mention the 2 hours out of your life (each way).
It will be interesting to see how airport managers react to the new reality of airline service. Long thought to be a “cost of doing business”, in the era of charging for pillows and blankets airport operational costs are squarely on the airline’s radar scope. The problem with some (most?) airports is that they are run like a bureaucracy, not a business. I, for one, don’t choose an airport because of the cool artsy fartsy statues in the lobby or the facade of the terminal. If then air service is there at a price that makes sense, the restrooms are clean, and the baggage claim area roof doesn’t leak, then I am a happy man.
Godzilla.jpgClearly this is an opportunity for some small and medium sized airports to actually grow, at the expense of those airports who fail to understand that their costs have a direct relationship to the level of air service at their facility. Airlines are parking airplanes and putting employees out on the street. Airports need to participate in the pain by tightening their belts and lowering their costs, or watching their service levels drop.

TSA – Thoroughly Stupid Agency

Hi there, Godzilla here. It’s been a while since I’ve posted (and even longer since I’ve said anything of real value), but more on that in a minute.
tsa_logo.gifFurther to Holly’s observation about how the TSA “inspected” 9 airplanes right into the maintenance shop in Chicago, TSA is now rattling its saber about pursuing security violations against the airline.
The mind boggles.
A published report says that the inspector (obviously from the shallow end of the gene pool) was able to gain access to 7 of the 9 airplanes “inspected”. Whether or not that is true is immaterial, because once the manner in which the airplanes were entered rendered them unairworthy anyway. The TSA further stated that it was not their intent to “cause delays or potential damage to aircraft as a result of our inspections,” and that the agency acted quickly to “re-enforce education about sensitive equipment located on the exterior of a plane.”
Yes, the TSA needs to reinforce the meaning of “No Step” when painted on an aircraft; perhaps an English class is in order?
I’ve been a bit quiet lately because I’ve been busily trying to secure some type of gainful employment that includes airplanes. It’s come down to two choices, one being an FO for a Part 135 operation flying a Citation I, and the other being a pilot for the local Sheriff’s department’s version of Con Air. It’s a tough choice, I must say. Neither of them pay very well, but it’s better than working for a living. Either choice will still leave me time to contribute, hopefully more regularly, to Holly’s blog.
Was that a sigh of relief or a groan?

Vacation….Or What Passes For One

Funny how when you are on vacation you can read the headlines from the airline industry and just shake your head. Instead of hitting your head on the side of the nearest wall. activities.jpg

Holly here. Just checking in from IT central. Yes, PBB is in the middle of a major site reconstruction project. Tomorrow night I get to do a WebX walk-through with our programmers, who are in Australia. Today I get to go through about five tutorials and make notes.


Not my idea of the ideal vacation, but hey — I’d rather be doing all this now — than having to do it AND write about Mesa Air Group’s earnings. (Or lack thereof.) Or about how United Airlines has come to the conclusion that eliminating food from some of its trans-Atlantic flights is a good idea. Or how a dufus TSA inspector in Chicago ended up damaging 9 American Eagle aircraft at O’Hare after he decided to see if he could climb on top of the parked aircraft in order to gain entry into them. Unfortunately, instead of using a ladder, said dufus TSA inspector apparently decided to use the aircraft’s sensitive exterior probes to climb up on top. Specifically the TAT (Total Air Temperature) probe was selected as a foot hold. Or ….

You get the picture.

Have a great Thursday everyone!