Monthly Archives: September 2010

Southwest Airlines To Buy AirTran


Funny thing about the recent push by Southwest Airlines to get their flight attendants and pilots to agree to contracts that will allow 737-800 flying. As I told an audience in Chicago last week — I seriously doubted the airline was only interested in getting their employees’ okay so that they could order new airplanes.


Today the reason became clear as the airline announced it is purchasing AIrTran.

This morning Southwest announced its intention to purchase AirTran for a combination of cash and Southwest stock. Each share of AAI will be exchanged for $3.75 cash and 0.321 shares of LUV with an adjustment mechanism to provide $7.25 to $7.75 in value for each share of AAI.

Are we surprised? No.

Atlanta has long been the big gaping hole in Southwest’s business model. In addition, Southwest now realizes that with a mature (i.e., flat) market in the domestic U.S., the only way to grow is through the acquisition of a new livery as the opportunity for organic growth is practically non-existent.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted

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Hello earthlings.

It’s that time again. Time for this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

Last week we were honored to deliver the luncheon speech at the third annual The Beat Live Conference in Chicago.

Right off the bat Jay Campbell and the rest of the folks at ProMedia made news of their own, as it was announced that ProMedia, the parent company of The Beat, and its related business travel publications, had been acquired by Northstar Travel Media.

Northstar currently owns both Travel Weekly and Business Travel News.

After all that news was digested — it was time for the show.

As I have told readers in the past, the reason I am such a big fan of The Beat Live is because of the people who go to the conference. Confrontation is encouraged and embraced. This is not a “polite” gathering. People are not afraid to speak their mind. This is a good thing.

If it has anything to do with corporate travel, it was probably discussed. The biggest problem I had this week was trying to decide what exactly to write about. There was way too much to choose from.

But aside from my traipsing around the country, it was a fairly heavy news week.

American Airlines jolted the markets Wednesday when they announced guidance for the third quarter that was below expectations. While the airline should still post a profit for the quarter, it will post a loss for the year.

On the international front, we talk about the interesting comments made by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary this past week about why it is the Ryanair model may now begin to change. If you want an idea of what he is talking about — think Southwest Airlines.

Then there was the bizarre fine imposed on United by the DOT last week. Of course we are talking about that. Speaking of United and Continental — this coming Friday is the big day! Unless something unforeseen happens between now and then, the two airlines will close on their merger Friday.

Analyst Dan McKenzie with Hudson Securities talks about why investors should not be concerned with Delta’s increase in fourth quarter capacity (hint: the power of the airline’s Tokyo hub).

Union votes? The big AFA representational election begins this week for the Delta Air Lines‘ flight attendants. I give you my take on what they should do and why.

Then there is that DOT proposal that would see new rules concerning passengers, fees, denied boarding payments and more. The public comment period ended this last week. Our stance? Transparency yes. But these are commercial items that do not lend themselves easily to heavy-handed governmental regulation.

There is a lot more that we’re talking about this week. You just need to subscribe to find out!

PlaneBusiness Banter Is Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1.jpg Hello everyone.

I am in Chicago tonight — I will be presenting the luncheon speech tomorrow at The Beat Live Conference being held here at the oh-so-trendy W Hotel in the City Center.

For those of who who are involved in the day-to-day machinations of corporate travel, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to The Beat. Jay Campbell, the founder, editor, and head animal trainer and I have been friends for a long time. Very long time. He’s just as irreverent and unable to regurgitate a press release as I am.

But seriously, this is the only conference that I know of where people really do sit and challenge one another. Ask juicy questions. And confront people.

Just my kind of place.

But before all that stuff starts tomorrow — it’s time to post this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

This week we’re talking about airline fee hysteria.

No, I don’t think people are mad as hell. Annoyed — yes. But not mad as hell. Unless we’re talking about Spirit Airlines. Then maybe so.

Does there need to be more transparency. Of course.

But this whole screaming match with these three so-called “consumer groups” is just a little too much guys. We’ll talk more about all this. As always — follow the money.

Airline stocks had a good week — while the price of oil continues to drop. That is good news for the airlines, although the price of jet fuel has stayed stubbornly high over the last several weeks. It has not experienced the same drop in price as has the price of oil.

Did you see the new SkyRider straddle seats that were unveiled last week at an aircraft interiors trade show? Lovely. Not.

The United/Continental deal got its expected shareholder approval last week. Monday the two airlines announced that as of Oct. 1, shares will once again be traded under the ticker UAL — on the New York Stock Exchange.

Just a sampling of what we’re conversing about this week — as usual there is much more.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Alas, vacation is over. Time to get back to work.

This week PlaneBusiness Banter begins its 14th year of publication. Thanks to all of our subscribers for supporting us through the years. Needless to say, we couldn’t have done it without you!

This week we get you caught up on all the usual stuff — including airline stocks, energy prices, and RASM estimates from August.

But we’ve got a lot more than that. In honor of Labor Day, we talk at length about the three biggest labor/management cat fights now in progress. We also chatter about Michael O’Leary’s latest publicity tease, and we note British Airways‘ comments regarding a recurring case of lust for Qantas.

But frankly, we’re all over the map with this issue, as we try and play catch up from our summer hiatus.

Subscribers can access this weeks issue here. Now.

Nine Years Later: September 11


Nine years ago today I received a phone call from a friend at approximately 8:10 A.M. My friend said in a rather quiet and measured tone, “I think you need to turn on the TV. A plane has hit the World Trade Center.”

I responded, rather disinterestedly, “What kind of plane?”

“Don’t know,” he said.

“Turn on the TV,” he directed.

“So how bad is it?” I asked, still, obviously, not grasping the seriousness of the situation.

“Turn on the TV. Now,” was his only response.

I hung up. I turned on the TV.

And so the morning of September 11, 2001 began to unfold. In horrible fashion.

This year, the anniversary of that horrible day hits on the same weekend PlaneBusiness Banter resumes its weekly publishing schedule — after our usual August hiatus from almost all things airline-related.

As we always do, we will honor those airline employees who lost their lives that day in this week’s issue of PBB.

Here too, we do the same.

While the world takes a moment today to commemorate the events that happened that day in a much larger sense — particularly the thousands of people who died in New York City — we here at PlaneBusiness, as we have since that awful day, focus on our departed airline family members. Those crew members who went to work on what was a beautiful day in the Northeast that day — but never came home.

American Airlines Flight 11, Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the World Trade Center.

CREW: John Ogonowski, Dracut, Mass., Captain; Thomas McGuinness, Portsmouth, N.H., First Officer; Barbara Arestegui, flight attendant; Jeffrey Collman, flight attendant; Sara Low, flight attendant; Karen Martin, flight attendant; Kathleen Nicosia, flight attendant; Betty Ong, flight attendant; Jean Roger, flight attendant; Dianne Snyder, flight attendant; Madeline Sweeney, flight attendant.

United Airlines Flight 175, Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the World Trade Center.

CREW: Victor J. Saracini, Lower Makefield Township, Pa., Captain; Michael Horrocks, First Officer; Amy Jarret, flight attendant; Al Marchand, flight attendant; Amy King, flight attendant; Kathryn Laborie, flight attendant; Michael Tarrou, flight attendant; Alicia Titus, flight attendant.

American Airlines Flight 77, Washington to Los Angeles, crashed into the Pentagon.

CREW: Charles Burlingame, Captain; David Charlebois, First Officer; Michele Heidenberger, flight attendant; Jennifer Lewis, flight attendant; Kenneth Lewis, flight attendant; and Renee May, flight attendant.

United Airlines Flight 93, Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, crashed in Shanksville, Pa.

CREW: Jason Dahl, Colorado, Captain; Leroy Homer, Marlton, N.J., First Officer; Sandy Bradshaw, flight attendant; CeeCee Lyles, flight attendant; Lorraine Bay, flight attendant; Wanda Green, flight attendant; Deborah Welsh, flight attendant.

May they all continue to enjoy peace in a much better place.