Tag Archives: Doug Parker

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello everyone. This week we feel like we’ve been trapped on a tarmac for 7 hours. Or maybe 36 hours. Or maybe longer.

Yes, it’s the biggest earnings issue of the quarter, as we take the microscope to the third quarter earnings calls this week from Delta Air Lines, US Airways, United Continental, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue.

How long is this week’s issue. Oh, I don’t know. 150 pages more or less.

Needless to say, there is certainly not a lack of things to talk about in this week’s issue, and some of the topics are not even earnings related.

Take for instance, last weekend’s freak snowstorm in the Northeast. I’m sure the folks at JetBlue would love to give it to you.

Once again, the airline found itself the brunt of headlines far and wide after passengers on a number of the airline’s aircraft were forced to sit on said aircraft for hours, and hours, and hours after landing in Hartford.  American Airlines also saw one of its international flights diverted there, and all in all, a horrible time was had by all.

Although the governor of Connecticut seemed to think passengers weren’t looking at the situation in the right light. He reminded those who finally did make it inside Bradley International that hey, they landed safely, didn’t they?

We also talk a lot this week about the subject of fuel hedging.

I am convinced that airlines need to stop doing it.


Because it’s not necessary.

Airlines now have the resources and the planning tools they need to weather the ups and downs of fuel prices. Hedging has become a complicated unnecessary expense.

At least that’s how I see it.

And hey, how ’bout the management team at Qantas? CEO Alan Joyce finally had it last week with the ongoing “mini strikes” and other various efforts by three different employee groups to disrupt the airline’s operations. Saturday, the airline simply shut down.

Brilliant move on the part of Joyce in my opinion.

He knew if he did it, the Australian government would be forced to step in, which it did, and the arbitration court in Australia on Sunday ordered the employees at Qantas back to work — but only after it was made clear that employees were forbidden to participate in any more “mini-strike” job actions.

I can’t recall any airline ever doing anything like this. Ever.

As usual, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This week’s issue is huge, and we’re talking about a lotta stuff.

Subscribers can access this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter here.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted

home-typewriter copy 1.jpgThis week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. Subscribers can access the latest issue here.

This week we are talking about ….what else? The latest chapter in the United Airlines/Continental/US Airways mating dance.

Do we think anything has changed? What do we think is going to happen?

We also talk about the press release that Southwest Airlines issued Friday pertaining to its now-dead codeshare agreement with WestJet.

As our PlaneBusiness Brown Bag Analyst told PBB subscribers two weeks ago — this was all about New York. More on all that in this week’s issue.

Then, of course, there is that little problem of all that volcanic ash that is now making its way slowly over the UK and much of Europe. Volcanic ash and jet engines — not a good combination. For much of Europe, and all of the UK, air travel has effectively stopped altogether, although there were a few “test” flights that went up today — in an attempt to “measure” the level of ash in the atmosphere.


Meanwhile today Pratt and Whitney issued the following statement:

“Volcanic ash can damage aircraft and engines in several ways. P&WC encourages operators to refer to their airframe OEMs guidance on a potential volcanic ash encounter for additional information.

While P&WC acknowledges that the Local Regulatory Authority has the final determination of whether flight operation is to be conducted, we want to inform you, our customers, of potential hazards.

P&WC does not recommend operation in conditions where volcanic ash is present. Let us explain why.

Volcanic ash may clog air filters of turbine engines, block cooling air passages, erode the gas path components, and erode the protective paint on casings. Volcanic ash entering the engine can also melt in the combustor and then re-solidify on the static turbine vanes, potentially choking the turbine airflow and leading to surging and an in-flight shut-down. It is also noted that there is a high level of acidity associated with volcanic ash, and this may also lead to deterioration of engine components.”

Airline stocks had a pretty good week this week, but oil was positively volatile. Then there was the news of the SEC fraud case against Goldman Sachs. Oh boy. This is just the small tiny piece of what is going to be a very ugly iceberg. We tell you why.

And finally, in addition to all the other things we talk about this week — there is this major news.

This week we award, for only the second time in 14 years, a PlaneBusiness Wild Turkey Award to an airline CEO who we think has done an outstanding job in leading his employees and managing his airline. No hints. You’ll have to go find out who it is somewhere else.

And yes, the award is named in honor of you know who.

United Airlines’ CEO Glenn Tilton’s Post Merger Role Key to Eventual Merger


Just as anticipated, it was reported today that Continental Airlines and United Airlines are supposedly talking about a potential merger, “according to media reports that cite people familiar with the matter.”

In answer to a few emails from some folks today, here’s our take on this “news.”

One, just as the news about a potential US Airways/United deal was clearly “leaked” last week by those on the United side of the potential deal in an attempt to gauge the market interest in such a match-up, the news today that has Continental and United talking another potential merger is no different.

Here’s the deal: United Airlines wants to do a deal with somebody. It may be Continental. It may be US Airways.

I could talk at length about the potential plusses and minuses of either deal.

But frankly, those details are not going to be the determining factors in terms of which airline United ends up doing the merger dance with.

Just as was the case with both failed potential merger deals last year involving the same three players, an eventual deal will depend heavily on the role current members of upper management at United Airlines take in any deal.  Particularly United Airlines Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton. As I wrote this week in PlaneBusiness Banter, one of the big factors in the failure of the Continental deal, and a complicating factor in a proposed US Airways’ deal was Tilton’s insistence upon keeping control in both deals.

But at the same time, Tilton knows that both US Airways and Continental would like to link up with United. And pressure is building on Tilton to get a deal done. He’s only been talking about doing one since he took his position with the airline in 2002.

Frankly, I think Continental would be better off to sit and wait out the current matchmaking attempts. Unless Continental CEO Jeff Smisek and his management team can take control of the new merged entity. Continental already has an advantageous partnership agreement with United, and both airlines are in the Star Alliance. (As is US Airways.)

With US Airways, sources who are involved with the deal tell us that CEO Doug Parker appears willing to let Glenn Tilton stay on in the role of Chairman, with Parker taking the CEO position. But would Tilton be willing to give Parker the control he would need to put together a new management team?

One thing is for sure. This deal, when all is said and done, will be all about ego. Forget routes, forget aircraft compatibility. Forget which deal the markets finds more appealing.

At the end of the day, United Airlines Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton and his desire to retain control of United is what is going to make or break any new attempt at a merger.