PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello everyone. While last week we talked about the Germanwings crash, (and the hyped-up coverage we wish would just stop from CNN), this week we’re talking a lot about labor. Delta, United, American, Allegiant. One thing is a given in this industry. Just when you think things have quieted down or are under control — they come apart at the seams.

No question that the biggest labor-related shocker last week was the news that the International Association of Machinists were pulling their request to the National Mediation Board for a representational election for the flight attendants at Delta Air Lines. 

Problems with signatures? Problem with cards? We haven’t heard the last of this yet.

Whatever the reason, this means the IAM will now have to wait 12 months before they can try again.

In more positive news, American Airlines received its SOC on Wednesday of this week — on schedule. Exactly. To the day. Seriously. The airline set up the schedule of deadlines for each of the nine sections of the process back in 2013, and Wednesday was the date targeted for the awarding of the certificate.

Pretty impressive.


In other news, we’re getting more clarity on how the U.S. airline industry’s 1Q15 results are shaping up.  Delta surprised last week with less than expected PRASM estimates and higher than expected cost levels. But Thursday morning United Airlines guided to better than expected PRASM numbers and lower costs. Southwest Airlines also reported March PRASM estimate. They were pretty much in-line.

Delta Air Lines opens up the 1Q15 earnings report season next Wednesday.

In our opinion column this week we take on the issue of major air transportation reform. The Open Skies Squabble is one thing. But major transformative changes are desperately needed in the U.S. airline/governmental relationship.

Two weeks ago former American Airlines CEO and Chairman Bob Crandall spoke at the Wings Club about this topic. We reference his comments and give you our take on how the FAA could be, and should be restructured so that reforms such as NextGen can become a reality.

Meanwhile, which U.S. airline saw shares drop dramatically last week? Goat of the Week honors went to Allegiant. We’ll tell you why.

All this and more in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings! Happy Wednesday! This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access it here.

This week we’re talking about American Airlines’ inclusion in the S&P 500. The news sent shares of AAL up more than 13% last week. Will United Airlines join the S&P party in 2015? We  talk about that and the more important issue for the major U.S. carriers — investment grade debt ratings.

With profits up, and interest rates low, debt reduction takes top priority in our book.

Speaking of American, the airline’s first big IT  “stress test” of the merger begins this weekend, as the airline begins to merge the frequent flyer programs of American and US Airways.  Have miles with both airlines? Take a screen shot of your account pages just to be safe. All of this should be completed by next week, depending on status levels, whether you have accounts with both airlines, etc.

In the meantime, chill. Oh, and don’t try to redeem miles on US Airways right now. That window is now about to close as the airline begins the migration.

We also talk a bit this week about those young up and comers in the industry I like to refer to as ‘The Best and the Brightest.’ In my opinion, we are finally beginning to see more of these folks stay in the industry than had been the case in years past.  We talk about the reasons and why this is a positive change.

Another week, another pilot strike at Lufthansa. Enough already.

Meanwhile, down in Dallas, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and the city of Dallas continue to fight over Love Field access. As it stands now, Delta has no gate access at Love as of July 6. Will this change? Will the City of Dallas force the issue? Will we finally find out who shot JR?

Congratulations to all the United Airlines’ employees who participated in the recent NYC Half Marathon in the Big Apple! We personally donated 10 subscriptions to PlaneBusiness Banter as part of the effort that benefited the March of Dimes.  We welcome those new subscribers to the fold this week.

All of this, plus much more, in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1You know, one of these days we need to stop posting in the middle of the night. One of these days.

Hello earthlings! Goodness. We’ve had back to back issues within less than a week this last week due to yours truly traipsing around the countryside.

Last week I was at the ISTAT Americas conference in Scottsdale. Subscribers got to hear about the Bombardier/Embraer presentation that proved Bombardier doesn’t have a clue as to how to address the perception issues of its CSeries. Then we talked a great deal about AVITAS SVP Adam Pilarski’s update on the price of oil and why he thinks it’s not going higher anytime soon.

For more than a few years, Adam has steadfastly said that oil was going to drop to $40 a barrel — and his reasons seem pretty valid today.

Then we talked about just what Air Lease Corp.’s Steve Hazy wants in Boeing’s new airplane. Hint: Twin aisle. 200-225 seats.

But we talked about a lot more — but that was last week.

In this week’s follow-up issue we give you our take on the Aviation Summit that was held in Washington on Tuesday. This year it became a place where both sides of the Open Skies fight presented their respective cases. Lots of noise around all of this — but all of that really means nothing. We remain convinced that the report the U.S. carriers has put together is more than enough for the State Department to open up consultations on the Open Skies agreements.

We also talk this week about American Airlines’ inclusion in the S&P 500; Ryanair’s plans to start up a trans-Atlantic operation; Spirit’s descent into adolescent frat house humor again; Spirit’s arrival in the monthly DOT Air Travel Consumer Report, and we also have another Cranky Analysis column by Brett Snyder. This week Brett, who moonlights as a contributing editor for us, looks at the Atlanta market. Have fares gone down since Southwest Airlines has eliminated AirTran? Not hardly.

All of this, and much, much more — in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 



PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s “Blizzard” edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

This week we bring you all the good stuff from this week’s JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference. This conference is always timed perfectly — it lets airlines update 1Q guidance, and it also allows them to look out into 2Q as well. All the major U.S. carriers presented, including United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines, in addition to Air France, IAG, and WestJet. 

We also take a look at who could win and who could lose if the New York and New Jersey Port Authority decides to remove the current perimeter rules in effect at LaGuardia.

Oh, and then there is that cat fight going on in Georgia between legislators and Delta Air Lines. But is this really just about taking the airline’s jet fuel tax exemption away? No, as is usually the case with politics, there is more to the fight than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, across the pond, reports this weekend claim that British Airways apparently hacked into the laptops and phones of employees back during the nasty union/management fights in 2011. The catch? The airline owned the phone and/or computers. Interesting story on how all of this came to light.

It was a horrible week for airline stocks last week. Wasn’t too much better for the market as a whole, but the airlines took it on the chin especially hard.

Meanwhile, the price of crude dropped again, but the price of jet fuel rose. We’ll tell you why.

All of this and more in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1This week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. This week we take a close look at the recent 4Q14 earnings posted by Virgin America. It was the first earnings call for the company, which rolled out an IPO in November. While the IPO certainly helped to clean a lot of ugly stuff from the airline’s balance sheet, the airline has its work cut out for it as it goes head to head with Southwest out of Love Field, and it faces more pressure on its transcon routes.

We’ll give you the take from three analysts on the results — and then we throw in our $0.02 for good measure.

We also talk a lot this week about our recent visit with management at United Airlines. While our sessions were off the record in regard to a lot of topics, I think subscribers will still find enough interesting material to get a good feel for what the visit was like.

Oh, and yes, I finally got my official PGA  plaid socks! I’ll be modeling them in the next issue of PBB. 

Last week we sat in on the American Airlines Leadership Conference. Again — this event was also off the record, but we can talk about a few things….including some things that I was most happy to hear.

We have an update this week on the Open Skies report. It now appears that the report  the three major U.S. airlines have been working on for the last two years will finally be allowed to go public next week. I can’t wait.

As for airline stocks, last week was a pretty good week for the sector, with shares of Delta Air Lines leading the sector. Meanwhile, shares of Bombardier dropped again — as more talk of a potential bankruptcy of the transportation company hit the media. Then again, it sounds like the Canadian government would be more than happy to help with financial assistance.

What a mess.

Southwest Airlines got hit again by the FAA on Tuesday for failure to perform required checks on it aircraft. The airline and the FAA still have not come to terms on the last proposed fine — for again essentially not doing what it was supposed to do. I fully expect that we’ll see a fine levied for this latest breach by the FAA as well.

Over the last ten years, no U.S. airline has been fined more by the FAA than Southwest. 

I would strongly suggest that perhaps something needs to change over on Denton Drive.

All that, and so much more, in this week’s edition of PlaneBusiness Banter. 

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

This week we do our  in-depth review of 4Q earnings from Spirit, Skywest, and Air Canada. We also have the PlaneBusiness Earnings Summary for Virgin America, which reported earnings Wednesday. We’ll talk more about those results  next week.

In other news, did you catch the sharp drop in Bombardier’s shares last week? The company reported 4Q14 earnings, along with a whole lot of other news, including a departure of a CEO, an admission that it needs more cash; and more. Shares of the Canadian transportation company took a serious hit as a result — and rightfully so.

But the most talked about news of the week was the interview of Delta Air Lines‘ CEO Richard Anderson by CNN’s Richard Quest.

The subject — a more than two year research effort by the U.S major carriers that attempts to document the illegal subsidies that the three Middle Eastern carriers have benefited from.

Unfortunately Richard decided to take the Fox News approach — and link the Middle Eastern carriers to those who carried out the attacks of 9/11.

Wrong message. Completely.

We’ve see the documentation that the airlines have presented to the DOT, and we talk this week about our opinion on all of this.

Meanwhile, on the stock side, shares of Expedia flew off the charts last week, pushed by news of its deal to buy Orbitz. We give you our take on this news as well.

As usual, all this and more in this next-to-last earnings issue for the quarter of PlaneBusiness Banter. 







PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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

It’s another heavy earnings week issue this week as we take an in-depth look at the recent 4Q14 earnings reported by American Airlines, JetBlue, Allegiant, and Hawaiian. We also have the PlaneBusiness Earnings Summary for WestJet, which reported earnings Tuesday.

So which airline surprised us with their report — and not in a good way? That would be Hawaiian Airlines. If you’re wondering why shares of the stock fell of a cliff after the airline reported earnings, we’ll tell you why.

As for American, while some investors decided that lower-than-anticipated RASM guidance for 1Q15 was something to get worried about, (and one analyst actually downgraded the stock as a result of concerns over short-term sluggishness) I am not worried.

For that matter, Delta Air Lines announced lower than expected PRASM estimates for December on Tuesday.

Things are sluggish out there right now.

Now American has both its pilots and its flight attendants set with new JCBAs, the airline can devote more time and attention to other integration issues.

Best integration news we heard in the call? The airline has almost completed all the steps necessary to obtain single carrier status.

We were happy with JetBlue’s call as well. I like the attitude of the new management team. I think whatever drama has been sitting over the management team at JetBlue has finally left the building. That is a good thing.

Allegiant? What can I say? I hate the business model. But the airline continues to make money. With fuel dropping, it is only going to make more money.

We also talk about the situation developing with alliances — particularly with the Middle Eastern carriers, European carriers and U.S. partners. In case you missed it, Qatar announced a 10% stake in IAG Holdings last week, and today Korean Airlines announced a codeshare deal with American on Seoul/DFW routes. Why is this a big deal? Because Korean is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance. Not sure what the folks in Atlanta think about this development.

All of this, and more, including the latest update on oil prices, in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. 


PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1Hello earthlings. Long time no talk. My apologies. I attempted to upgrade our version of WordPress for the blog last week and ended up, apparently, eliminating the post announcing that last week’s issue had been posted.

Bad Holly. I was clearly out of practice.

Yes, well, that brings us to this week, our second back in the saddle since our usual three-week Holiday Hiatus.

This week we’re talking about 4Q14 earnings. Delta Air Lines rolled out of the gates today with their numbers. They were in-line. I didn’t hear anything on the airline’s call that was out of line. However, with the dramatic drop in the price of fuel, the airline is now on the wrong side of some pretty major fuel hedges.

Followers know what I think about fuel hedges. I think the practice should be discarded, or if used, used only minimally.

Note that United Airlines just shed some of their hedges. And of course American Airlines has no hedges. They sold them all off shortly after the merger was completed.

Southwest Airlines,  on the other hand, does continue to hedge.

This Thursday, United, Southwest, and Alaska will report 4Q14 numbers. Next week we get to hear from Hawaiian Airlines,  Allegiant, JetBlue and American Airlines.

It’s going to be, for the most part, a record breaking earnings season. For one reason — oil.

In other news, we take yet another look at the JCBA that the pilots at American are currently voting on. Last week we took a long look at how we go to where we are now. This week I give you my take after wading through a raft of domicile blasts, talking to pilots on both sides, and members of management at American.

In a rather surprising move, we also had a lot of emails this week from unhappy Southwest Airlines pilots. I mentioned the union negotiations at the airline rather briefly last week, but it was enough to generate a healthy response.

It looks like the question on the labor side for 2015 is: which is going to be the biggest story of the year — the IAM’s attempt to gain representation of the flight attendants at Delta Air Lines, or the ongoing labor situation at Southwest?

FYI, the IAM is putting on one hell of a representational effort at Delta. Take a look at the union’s IAM Delta website if you don’t believe me. I don’t believe I’ve seen a more professionally designed site for a representational effort by any union.

In other news we talk about Bombardier’s woes, the newly launched Airbus A321LR, the first commercial A350 WXB Qatar flight, and United’s about-to-be-announced deal for at least 10 Boeing 777-300ERs.

As for airline stocks, it was as rather slow week, not a lot to report on that front, other than the 26% plus decline in shares of Bombardier. 

We also have a great look this week at the most recent comments from three of Wall Street’s top airline analysts — their look at 4Q14 and their look out to 2015 and which stocks they like.

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

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted

hollyxmasHello everyone! The last issue of PlaneBusiness Banter for 2014 is now posted.

We are talking about a lot of things this week — labor, oil prices, dropping fares in DFW, the Business Travel News Corporate Airline Survey, our trip to Atlanta to present to the Delta Air Lines Corporate Sales year-end event, the BTN Hall of Fame dinner in New York last week, the arbitration award involving the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and American Airlines, the latest update on negotiations between the airline and its pilots, and oh…so much more.

Unfortunately it was not that good a week for airline stocks — after Spirit Airlines spooked the industry with its less-than-expected traffic report last week. While the airline said it was thought the industry might be moving to a “price based on fuel and not demand model” most analysts claim this is not the case.

But one thing is clear. Fares are dropping sharply in the DFW area, as capacity has ballooned — the result of the demise of the Wright Amendment, upgauging of service by Delta into Love Field, and new service from Virgin America out of Love Field.

We also have our signature holiday column this week — our letters from airline CEOs to Santa, the latest DOT numbers, and a really terrific guest column that follows up on the recent column on the American re-banking of its MIA hub by PlaneBusiness Contributing Editor Brett Snyder.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays….and Happy New Year!

PlaneBusiness Banter will return on January 12!

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

home-typewriter copy 1The Turkey Week edition of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted!

This week we get you up to speed on all the latest machinations in the airline industry, although it has been a pretty slow week. Something to do with that holiday on Thursday.

On the labor front, while originally the airline had said it was going to proffer arbitration last Friday,  as of this writing  the pilots and American Airlines are apparently still talking — no arbitration yet. Sounds like negotiations will continue next week.

Over at Southwest Airlines, the pilots asked the NMB for help with their negotiations last week. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time the pilot group has asked for help from the NMB.

In our column this week we talk about profit sharing. Why employees like it, why they understand it, and why we think that American’s stance against profit sharing is a mistake.

On the corporate travel front, we have the results from the latest Morgan Stanley Corporate Travel Survey. I’ll give you a hint. Delta Air Lines did very well.

On the stock front, shares of Virgin America once again led the group last week. All in all it was a rather so-so week for the sector.

On the exec front, Wal-Mart announced this week that former American CEO Tom Horton  is a new member of its BOD; while John Tague, former President of United Airlines, is the new CEO at Hertz. 

Frontier announced an order for bigger aircraft last week, Norwegian is back on the offensive, and the TWU, which represents the baggage handlers at Southwest Airlines, are making noise.

All this and much, much, more in this week’s Turkey Week edition of PlaneBusiness Banter