Monthly Archives: August 2008

More Jake Brace Captions

typewriterA008blog-754097.jpg Yes, there are more!

Here are just a few of the creative Jake Brace Captions you sent to me Friday. I haven’t even gleaned through all the Saturday offerings as of yet.

1. “We were this close to finishing the Continental merger when Big-Mouth Glenn blurts out he wants to manage the new company!!! I mean, BAM! it was just Glenn and me sitting in a room with 6 other empty swivel chairs a spinning…”

2.”Tell them that the idea is to not necessarily kill the golden goose but to squeeze every last….oh, that’s been used?”

3. “What a bunch of saps! I can’t believe how United’s employees let me get away with filling my saddle bags with all this loot at their expense — freaking unbelievable how they just stood there & took it lying down! A sucker is born every minute!”

4.“No, it was Glenn who dropped the ball.”

5.”I am not a criminal.”

6.”No, I’m ‘retiring’.”

7.”Believe you me, Glenn, crude oil will never be more than $50 a barrel.”

8. “See this brown spot on the end of my nose?”

9. “Yes, I have to admit, we’ve succeeded in making our financials so hard to understand, nobody even understands how much money we’re losing.”

10. “Listen, I was surprised as you when Glenn said he would groom Doug instead of me.”

My favorite of this bunch? Number one. And number ten. Stayed tuned for more!

The Captions are a’Comin — Fast and Furious

Just a good thing I figured out how to get back online yesterday (even if we’re still having some hiccups). Just a few minutes into our Jake Brace Caption Contest, and I’ve already received the following:UnderwoodKeyboard.jpg

“Oh, so that’s what FUBAR means.”

“I just want to choke the LIFE out of that damned ALPA.”

“Come on – pull all my fingers.”

“Well see, when my CFO Honorary Library is built, right when you come in the door, you’ll see this huge marble wall, and there on the wall will be the words, “He Screwed More Employees Out of Their Pensions Than Any Other CFO.”

“And then I said, “Glenn, we can pull this thing off. Trust me.”

Keep them coming!

Jake Brace To (Finally) Leave United Airlines

Interesting news crossing the wires this morning as United Airlines has announced that Jake Brace, long-time CFO, is “retiring” from the company on Nov. 1. AERO-ARMS-SUMMIT/

A couple of things. One this is great news. Should have happened a long time before now however.

Secondly, Kathy Michaels, the former head of IR at United, is going to succeed him. That is also good news.

Of course, no news like this is what it appears to be on the surface, and the obvious question hitting my email box this morning more or less runs around this theme — did CEO Glenn Tilton finally push Jake out, in an attempt to put a lid on mounting calls for Glenn’s dismissal?

Could be.

Or it could be that Jake has come to the conclusion that his days at United are numbered anyway — and he might as well get out now, with a fat retirement/consulting package, before things get much worse.

Speaking of that no-doubt bloated “retirement/consulting” compensation package — we, along with everyone else will be awaiting the details –when the company outlines the deal in an SEC filling.

Tearing My Hair Out, One Software Glitch At a Time

Hello all. Holly here, back from the bowels of software hell. annoyed.jpg

I’m posting this in the wee hours of Thursday using a beta version of Ecto. For some strange reason, after I posted the last post on Glenn Tilton this week, my previous version of Ecto refused to access our blog anymore. Hmmm. Maybe the two are related.

Changing passwords didn’t work. Then I thought we’d broken Movable Type, the software we use for PlaneBuzz itself, as we have been updating and changing system software on the trusty PBB server for the last week, as we prepare to start final edits to an entirely new PlaneBusiness software package that was just uploaded to our servers this week.



My head hurts.

Notice it is 5:44 in the morning. Uh-huh.

So after Jonathan, our web guru, convinced me that MT was not the problem, I figured I’d try another web editor. So I downloaded Mars Edit, and after using it to do a couple of mock posts, I came to the conclusion I didn’t like it either.

So then I went back to Ecto and downloaded their new beta version.


It worked. Or at least it seems to be working.

Which is more than I can say for American Airlines. The airline once again finds itself on the wrong side of another PR mess this week.

More on that in just a bit.

I’m off to tinker a bit with this new toy.

Yes, I missed you guys too.

United ALPA Calls for Tilton’s Resignation; Rolls Out Anti-Tilton Website

The pilots at United Airlines have decided to crank up their anger against Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton a couple of few notches.

Monday the United Airlines’ ALPA MEC issued a press release in which it  called for Tilton’s resignation.

Fine. Except it’s a bit late.

But in what is clearly now a new benchmark of new labor/management relations going forward utilizing the latest in Internet techonlogy,  the ALPA MEC also coupled the release with the announcement of a new website located with an apt Internet address:


Visitors to the site can send Glenn an email, can send a complaint about customer service or airline experience, or merely occupy their time reading background blurbs on such topics as financial failures, strategic failures, and operational failures.

There is even a multiple choice quiz as to where members of the UAL board stay when in town for board meetings. This one was a no-brainer, though, as I figured they stayed where Glenn more or less lived for a long time. Yep. I was right. (I won’t give the answer away — I’ll give you something to look forward to.)

I always like to think that we here at the PlaneBusiness Worldwide Headquarters are ahead of the curve. So I would humbly point out our Special “Glenn Tilton Self-Enrichment Award,” which was bestowed upon Mr. Tilton and his close associates in 2006.

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My What A Difference 30 Days Makes: JP Morgan Upgrades Airlines


In the wee hours of this morning, analysts Jamie Baker and Mark Streeter of JP Morgan issued a huge upgrade of the airline sector. Not only were airline stocks upgraded, but the investment bank also upped its recommendation on airline credit.

From their research note this morning:

“We do not believe equities (or credit for that matter) have sufficiently responded to sharply lower fuel prices and resulting likelihood of profit resumption in 2009. Given the combination of improved non-fuel fundamentals, bolstered liquidity for many, and equity values meaningfully below March levels, we are significantly revising our estimates and equity/credit ratings for North American airlines.”

The two then went on to explain:

“This Isn’t Just An Oil Call – Jet kero prices have plummeted over $1/gallon from recent highs, representing $13 billion of reduced annualized expense. This represents both the most rapid and most significant expense savings ever realized for the airlines, standing well in excess of any historic precedent for demand weakness.

The Industry Has Also Changed – This isn’t the same industry that gave us pause last March. Annualized system capacity cuts have reached 8%, liquidity defenses have been bolstered for many, other revenue trends (bag fees, etc) are surging, one merger appears set to close . . . and the sell side largely has settled into a period of uncharacteristic bearishness.

Best Yet, Equities Are Down – Sure, equities haven’t ignored oil’s descent. But many Legacy equities are still well below their March levels despite the aforementioned fundamental changes. Continental is 22% lower, Delta 23% lower, United 54% lower, to name a few.”

On the balance sheet side of the equation, Baker and Streeter also re-ranked the capital structure ranking. Yee haw.

So if you are about to run out and purchase airline stocks, which stocks do the JP Morgan Dynamic Duo suggest you take a strong look at?

No surprises here.

Baker and Streeter said in their note that the legacy carriers they cover are all now “overweight,” they are “neutral” on the “discounters,” and “underweight” on the regionals.

With a few exceptions.

“LUV downgraded from N to UW, having outperformed as fuel made its ascent. PNCL maintained as an OW and RJET as N. AMR, CAL, and LCC upgraded from UW to OW; DAL and ALK from N to OW; NWA from UW to N. AAI and UAUA maintained at OW, JBLU at N.”

Traders are standing by now to take those buy orders.

Good News for Airline Stocks: Oil Continues Fall as Dollar Rises


The week ended on a great note for airline stocks.

The price of oil took another drop today, closing at 115.20, down almost $5 today alone.

So why is the price of oil continuing to drop?

Fears that the U.S. economic slowdown is now beginning to spread around the world is one reason. That is what has more or less caused the dollar to rise and the euro to fall this week. So much so that the dollar posted what appears to be its biggest one-day gain in the last four years today.

Couple this with continuing sentiment that the recent higher prices really have dented demand to a certain extent, especially in a number of Asian markets, and well — there you go.

For airline stocks, the screen was all green this afternoon, with only two exceptions. Shares of Air Canada were down on that airline’s earnings revelations today — and ADRs of China Eastern Airlines got smacked around a bit as the stock market in China took a big hit today on what some were calling a “Post-Olympic” wake-up call.

The biggest gainers for the airline sector today were:

US Airways. The stock here ended the day up 18%, closing at 7.96.  The stock picked up a whopping 54% for the week as it posted the biggest gain for the week of any airline stock we track here at PlaneBusiness.

Shares of United Airlines rose 16% Friday, closing at 11.13. Shares here were up 36% for the week.

Shares of Continental wrapped up the top three spots for the day, as shares here picked up 12%, ending the week up 26%  at 16.48.

Nice. Very nice.

Not so nice?

Shares of ExpressJet ended the week down 22%, closing today at 25 cents. The stock takes PlaneBusiness Basement honors for the week.