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PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted!

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Hello all. This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted. As I write this, I am literally throwing things into my bag, on my way to Phoenix for this year’s Media Day event at US Airways, so I am going to be a bit shorter than usual with our weekly summary.

This week I wrap up coverage of the recent JP Morgan Transportation Conference with a look at the presentations from JetBlue and Alaska Air Group. Did you realize that Alaska does not finance its Boeing 737 aircraft? It pays cash for them. And hey, we aren’t talking about cheap MD-90s like Allegiant buys either.

Of course we talk a lot this week about the latest “hole in the roof” problem that Southwest Airlines experienced last week. Thankfully, after a one foot by five foot gash opened up in the roof of one of its flights, the pilots were able to land the airplane safely in Yuma, AZ.

While the airline was quick to say the issue was not related to the problem the airline identified as a result of the last fuselage skin rupture, it does now appear that the two aircraft do have something in common. They are both “older process” 737-300s that also happen to have more than 30,000 cycles.

That “older process” is the interesting part, because apparently Boeing changed the way the airplanes were built at some point along the line — and specifically in regard to a part of the aircraft’s structure that is now in the spotlight.

On the financial side, this week I had a chance to talk to Paul Jacobson, SVP of Finance, Treasurer, at Delta Air Lines. I appreciated him taking the time to talk to me. The subject of our discussion? How Delta Air Lines manages its cash. Inexpensively. Last week we posted a graph that looked at revenues/cash on hand at the end of the year, and Delta looked a bit, well, weak in that particular comparison. We knew the airline’s revenues were not what they should be, and that was part of the problem. But what else was going on?

Now we know. And we also know that Delta uses a cash management strategy that only one other airline uses. Know what it is? We do. And we share that with subscribers this week.

We talk a bit about British Airways this week. The airline’s flight attendants look like they are going to strike the airline again, former CEO Willie Walsh received a nice bonus prior to moving into his new digs as head of IAG, and the airline is considering an equity investment in JAL.

April Fools Day was Friday and a slew of airlines jumped into the foolish fray. Which airline’s efforts were genuinely funny and which were, well, just plane lame?

We also have our review of the first quarter airline stock performance. Short and sweet? Pretty ugly reading.

All this and more in this week’s issue of PBB. Subscribers can access this week’s issue here.


Southwest Airlines’ Bid Not Accepted for Frontier Airlines

We said all along that we would only move forward on this deal if it proved to be the right decision for our Employees and financially prudent for our Company,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO. “We have a mission to preserve and protect our Culture and the best interests of our Employees, Customers, and Shareholders. This was a great opportunity that required us to act fast. A lot of people worked very hard with every intention of making this work. We were fortunate to be in a position to examine the acquisition to see if it was the right decision for Southwest Airlines. We chose not to amend our bid to remove the labor requirement, a key reason our bid was not selected. Our congratulations to Republic Airways and Frontier Airlines.”

There you go.

Go talk amongst yourselves about this turn of events. I’m going to go read some of your email pelts.