PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everyone.

The latest issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.

So who do we dissect this week?

Republic Holdings.

I’ll be honest. I’m still on the fence with this attempt by Bryan Bedford and the Republic management team to cobble together a new airline out of discarded parts of Midwest and Frontier Airlines.

I was hoping that this quarter we could get more visibility from the airline’s earnings results as to how the grand experiment is faring — but while Wall Street apparently liked the airline’s results (the airline’s stock led the sector this last week picking up a cool 14%), I didn’t hear anything that really won me over.

So — call me “continued skeptical.”

Had to snicker when the airline talked about how it was “harvesting synergies” of the Midwest/Frontier combo. “Harvesting synergies”…..fine example of corporate speak.

That kind of stuff makes me break out in hives.

We had one other regional airline report earnings this last week and that airline was ExpressJet. If you look only at the airline’s net profit numbers, it would appear that the airline did pretty well for the quarter. But no — the reason the airline posted a profit was because of a huge both cash and non-cash tax issue. The airline posted a $17 million operating loss — that was also a clear indicator that no, this was not that good of a quarter.

Meanwhile, the airline remains without a permanent CEO. You may recall that the airline’s CEO Jim Ream left the airline effective Jan. 1 — as he took the SVP of Maintenance and Engineering gig at American Airlines.

The weather certainly created a whole slew of new cancellations last week for many of the U.S. carriers. Adding to the pain of the New York area airspace – the longest runway at JFK International was officially shut down today — as the airport prepares to rebuild and widen it. It will be closed for four months.

I know. Let the fun begin.

On the economic front, it was another yin-yang week for economic tea leaf reading, but on the airline economic/RASM front, analysts continue to fall all over themselves about just how great year-over-year RASM numbers are going to be for the next 3-4 months.

Or as JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said at one point, “If it flies, buy it!” Actually Jamie acknowledged last week that he is not quite that bullish now — but tonight we should get our first glimpse of higher RASM numbers — as Continental rolls out its February traffic report.

All this and more, including Japan Air Line’s horrendous loss, Air New Zealand’s nice profit, Aircell’s win at Alaska Air Group, fighting flight attendants, a new high-end, but reasonably priced crash pad for pilots in Houston, and more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter .