Tag Archives: airline business

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 .

Oil Leaps Above $80/Barrel — Airline Stocks Sink


Want to know why most all airline stocks sunk like they had rocks tied to their little feet today?

That’s right. Give the man in the back row with the red shirt on a gold star.

It’s oil. Or rather, the exploding price of oil.

Crude oil futures closed at 81.37 today — up a hefty $2.25.

Why? One major factor– the continued drop in the value of the dollar. The euro climbed about $1.50 today, the highest level since August 2008.

And as all bright PlaneBuzz readers know — oil is priced in dollars. So as the dollar falls in value, international investors start bidding up the price of oil futures as a play against the weakening U.S. currency.

That’s the way the markets work.

The Earnings Just Keep on Coming…


During weeks like this, I’m not really sure if I should even get out of bed in the morning.

Considering we are enjoying a nice gentle Fall rain here in the DFW Metroplex this morning, that’s even more incentive not to get up.

Alas — duty calls.

Two days, and we have now had six airlines have report earnings so far this week — with more to come. The rundown goes like this: Continental, UAL, parent of United Airlines, AirTran, Allegiant, Hawaiian, and AMR, parent of American Airlines.

Any surprises in the results that have rolled out so far this week?

No real “surprises” but a few things that do warrant some discussion.

One — United Airlines posted pretty good numbers for the quarter. Excluding special items, the airline posted a loss of $0.43 a share. This was much better than the consensus forecast of loss of $0.94. The airline posted better than expected results both on the revenue and the cost side. The airline posted a 2.8% operating margin. Granted, that kind of margin would make people in other industries weep. But in this industry, it might end up being one of the better performances for the quarter — compared to its peers.

AirTran? No real surprises here. The airline posted a good quarter. Forecast was for the airline to post a profit of 8 cents a share. That’s what the airline did. It also posted a very nice 5.1% operating margin — 13.5 points better than third quarter 2008.

Dovetailing with the upgrade note on AirTran issued by JP Morgan analysts Jamie Baker and Mark Streeter late Sunday, the airline did, in fact, post a better operating margin than Southwest this quarter. Southwest posted a 4.8 operating margin (excluding special items.)

Allegiant? Another great quarter by the airline. The airline reported a profit of $0.68, which was better than the Street estimate of $0.63. The best news from the airline’s call to me was the fact that the airline’s new service in Los Angeles seems to be off to a tremendous start. The airline said that July operating margins for the new service, which just started in May, were already pretty much up to the airline’s system average. This compares to other markets, which have usually taken as long as two years to hit the same levels.

Continental reported this morning, as did AMR.

Continental reported a net loss of $18 million or $0.14. Excluding $20 million in special charges, the airline posted a profit of 2 cents a share.

Analysts had expected the airline to post a loss of 6 cents a share.

As for AMR, parent of American Airlines — the news wasn’t nearly as positive. The airline didn’t come anywhere near a profit for the third quarter.

The airline posted a net loss this morning of $359 million or $1.26. Excluding special items, the airline posted a loss of $265 million or $0.93. Consensus had the airline expected to post a loss of $0.95. Operating margin? Excluding special items, a negative 2.5%.

We’re off to listen to the calls from both CAL and AMR. Behave yourself while I’m gone.