Monthly Archives: April 2014

JetBlue Pilots Vote for ALPA Representation

Hi there everyone!

Since I essentially finished up last week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter in the wee hours, fell into bed, and was never heard from again, I figured everyone out there in non-subscriber land was due at least some kind of blog post. (Oh and thanks for all the “get better” emails. I, as you can tell, have been working hard on doing just that! Sleep and drugs. Hey, they work! I’m better!)

So instead of talking about all the great things we talked about in last week’s issue of PBB, let’s talk about the airline hot news flash from Tuesday.

As we had predicted, it was announced today that pilots at JetBlue voted heavily in favor of representation with the Air Line Pilots Association. (ALPA) The vote was announced earlier this afternoon.  The final “yes” vote was, according to tweeted comments we saw from ALPA, a “little over 71%” in favor. A press conference is scheduled for this afternoon. May be happening as I type.

There are somewhere between 2500-2700 pilots that are affected.

This is not the worst thing in the world to happen to JetBlue, although the stock took the expected hit when the news hit the wires, and management had been acting, and making comments to the effect that it would be a highly negative turn of events if their “direct” relationship with their employees was tampered with.

It’s not a highly negative turn of events. Things going forward will simply be….different.


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

There is obviously a lot more to say about this week’s issue, but I have a confession to make. I need to go to bed. Yours truly has been fighting a rather serious respiratory infection for almost two weeks, and well, my energy today has finally left the building.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more dish.

In the meantime, go hard boil some eggs or work on your Easter bonnet.

Talk to you tomorrow!


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Good evening everyone! It is that time again. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

Alas, I was supposed to be in Dublin this week, attending the CAPA “Airlines in Transition” Conference, but I came down with a rather nasty respiratory ailment before leaving Phoenix last weekend, and well, here I am. Sitting in the DFW Metromess. Today was day seven of my bout with whatever it is I have (had) and I am happy to report that I finally feel like I have turned the corner.

But in the meantime, my hot date with one of American’s new 777-300s to Heathrow had to bite the dust. Shame. Just a damn shame.

However, this is good news for subscribers, as it gave me plenty of time to write. And it was a busy week.

First, we had more updated guidance from the airlines re: 1Q14 results. We had no real changes this week, but American will come in a bit lower than expected, while Alaska upped its guidance. JetBlue will post a weak quarter, but it still appears that United Airlines will be the only U.S airline to post a loss for 1Q14. The size of the loss is the question, as there is a wide range of analyst estimates out there — even today.

We talk about the significance of the resounding “NO” vote on the proposed pilot contract at Republic Holdings this week.  Meanwhile, both SkyWest and Mesa Air Group got nice shiny new Embraer E-175s last week — the first E-175s for each airline. Mesa will be flying 30 for  United Airlines as United Express; SkyWest will be flying 40.

Meanwhile, out at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airline Symposium last week, American Airlines President Scott Kirby said that American should make a decision on who will get the rest of its E-175 flying “shortly.”

I tend to think that means Republic is going to be out of the running, given the resounding “no” vote on the pilot contract.

We talk a lot this week about the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airline Symposium. And I’ll talk about it even more in next week’s issue.

Here in the Metromess, American Airlines more or less evicted American Eagle, aka Envoy this week. Envoy will be moving its headquarters to an office building in Irving, on the Northeast side of DFW International.

American also announced a series of changes to its product offerings, and some tweaks to its frequent flyer program this week as it seeks to harmonize the operations of American and US Airways.  Actually I thought some of the changes were quite positive, but hard core Flyer Talk types were up in arms over the fact the airline had not given enough notice on some of the changes, and had not been up front about changes to some little used programs that are essentially going away.

In other news, the DOT issued its February Air Travel Consumer Report this week. United once again lagged its peers; Delta pretty much led the major group of four (except in one category) and Southwest/AIrTran continue to struggle. Alaska also turned in a very good month. And no, we won’t talk about the number of cancellations that ExpressJet endured. Or rather, that passengers on ExpressJet endured.

It’s been a cruel, cruel winter.

One airline analyst published a note last Friday in which he makes the case that it’s only a matter of time before the major airlines begin to charge for overhead bin space, as does Frontier Airlines. In this scenario, customers who purchase tickets through an OTA would be forced to pay a fee ($25) to take a rollerboard, or other overhead bin-sized carryall on board. If you purchased a ticket on an airline’s website, you would not be dinged. And of course, top tier flyers wouldn’t have to pay at all.

Is Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay nuts or brilliant? Or both?

We give you our take.

It was a wacky week for airline stocks for the week ending April 4 — as shares of Air Canada gained more than 40% — merely because the airline guided to better than expected 1Q14 results. Who says the concept of the airline sector being a trading sector is dead?


Finally, my thanks to Deb McElroy, VP with Airports Council International: North America. She was kind enough to invite me to present the keynote address at the organization’s yearly conference which was held this week here in Dallas. Was very cool to meet the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, (who used to be an old advertising man, probably why I liked him) and the new head of ACI, Kevin Burke. Also always nice to see some subscribers in the crowd! (And no one complained about my “Barry White” voice!)

Anyway, you get the picture. We have a lot to talk about in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings. We’re coming to you a bit earlier than usual this week. Yes, yours truly is on the road. All good. Just wreaks havoc with the PlaneBusiness Banter  publishing schedule.

After I finish this, I will make my way over to the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale where this year’s Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airline Symposium opens up. Yours truly is moderating a panel this year, so I need to visit with my panel members tonight and make sure we know what the heck we’re going to talk about. Always a good thing.

All kidding aside, I am honored to have been asked to moderate this year. This is always a great industry conference.

Meanwhile, this week’s issue of PBB is now posted. What are we talking about this week? 1Q14 stock performance first and foremost.

It as a very strong quarter for the airline sector — but particularly the U.S. major airlines. We review how everyone did, and then we’ll take a look at some revisions in 1Q14 earnings estimates, and we take a look at Buckingham Research analyst Dan McKenzie’s latest competitive capacity analysis.

For those of you who are due proceeds from the final equity distribution of AAMRQ shares, that will take place on April 8. This last distribution will be the largest of the four — so shareholders of AAL shouldn’t get nervous if the stock price bobbles around a bit after this last distribution.

Meanwhile, we still don’t have one verifiable piece of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Of course that has not stopped CNN from continuing its shameless, pitiful, and at times, embarrassing coverage of the missing aircraft.

We have the latest example of that for you as well. We couldn’t resist.

This week Asiana filed a response to the NTSB in regard to its fatal crash at SFO last year. Was interesting to read the airline’s attempt to blame the software in the Boeing 777 jet for the accident. I don’t think so. While it may be the case that use of auto throttle and the auto pilot in the aircraft can be a little confusing, pilots should know how the system works. They should also know when not to land, i.e., when an approach is not stabilized.

But we all know how the official NTSB investigation process works. At this point everyone is trying to jockey for position to minimize potential liability issues.

One accident we have not heard much about from the NTSB is the Southwest Airlines accident at LaGuardia last July. In fact, unlike the Asiana crash, the NTSB has not held a hearing on the accident yet. Emails sent to a press contact at the NTSB this week went unresponded to, in regard to a potential hearing date.

Hey, all this, and much, much, more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.