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.