Tag Archives: pilots

1933 American Airlines Video: What a Hoot

This is simply too good. A 1933 “American Airways” Promotional video.
And I quote, “From the beginning of time, man has been the master of his own journey, he chooses the road by which he goes. He steps ahead or he steps aside. Here’s the man who steps ahead. The kind of man who gets things done. He knows where he’s going and how to get there — The American Airways way.”
Oh, I’m telling you. It’s a trip. Watch it. It runs about 21 minutes.

PlaneBusiness Banter Now Posted

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This week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now posted.

It was a busy week for the Things With Wings last week.

First, American Airlines reported its second quarter earnings results. The airline lost a lot of money. $390 million to be exact. $319 million excluding special items. However, you’d never have known it if you listened to the airline’s earnings call — which seemed focused on one thing — liquidity. Oh, and capacity reductions. That’s fine, but there are other aspects of an airline’s operations I’d like to hear about.

Then we had the blockbuster news concerning Continental’s Chairman and CEO, Larry Kellner. As I write in this week’s PBB, even though the management backbench strength at Continental Airlines is strong, and the airline should be able to carry on just fine as Larry goes to seek his fortune in the equity investment game — it’s quite discouraging to see one of the industry’s best and brightest leave.

Following up on our piece in last week’s issue about United’s bone-headed (or would that be heavy-handed) attempts to get travel agencies to take on more financial risk — or rather some travel agencies — the airline said late last week that it is going to give agencies 60 days to implement the business operation changes it seeks.

This whole thing still reeks. Nothing the airline says rings true.

Southwest Airlines had its own place in the spotlight last week, or would that be the sunlight, as the airline had a 737-300 aircraft develop a hole in the roof while enroute from Nashville to BWI. Not what the airline wants or needs — especially considering the issues the airline has had with the FAA concerning fuselage checks in the past. Preliminary NTSB report says there was no evidence of previous corrosion at the site.

That was not the only bad news Southwest had last week. The airline was also notified that its debt rating with Moody’s is under review, signaling a potential downgrade.

The Senate produced its version of an FAA Reauthorization bill last week. How did it differ from the House version? It differed on quite a few items. We talk more about that in this week’s issue.

Those misguided folks at the US Airways Pilot Association, the pilot union that was created in an attempt to circumvent the original ALPA seniority award that was handed down after US Airways and America West combined forces — had their head handed to them on a plate by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake last week. Wake issued his final injunctive order on the case brought against USAPA by the former America West pilots. Yes, we talk about this too.

Oh, and speaking of USAPA, we also give them, and our readers, a handy step-by-step instruction of how you correctly determine just how much an airline executive makes, using SEC documentation. Apparently the folks at USAPA have a problem figuring these things out.

British Airways raids its guaranteed employee pension benefit larder, Air Canada gets all of its employees “on board” with its 21-month contract extension program, and 215 Delta pilots sign up for the airline’s sweetened “early-out” package. Somehow I think the guys in suits over in Atlanta had hoped that number had been higher.

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

If you are a subscriber, you can access this week’s issue here. If not, you can learn how you can become a subscriber by clicking here.

We Warned PBB Readers About This: Southwest Airlines’ Pilots Vote Down Tentative Agreement


Three weeks ago I published a letter from a concerned Southwest Airlines’ pilot in PlaneBusiness Banter. This particular subscriber is one of the Southwest pilots we go to on a regular basis to get a “read” on just what the group is thinking at any given time. The substance of his letter?

He gave readers a head’s up about the fact that if the pilots’ tentative agreement passed — it was not going to be by much. That more and more pilots he was talking to were going to vote “no” as a protest vote against what the pilots now perceive as a “lack of leadership” or a “lack of direction” both at the airline — and within the union’s leadership.

Or maybe a bit of “misdirection” would be a better term.

To put it more bluntly — why should the pilots at the airline vote for a contract that was going to put even more financial pressure on the airline that has seen its operating margins erode, its costs continue to rise, and its revenues continues to slump?

You got that? In other words, the pilots at the airline were going to vote against the contract because it was too good.

Today, the final vote tally on what would have easily been the most lucrative pilot contract in the U.S. was announced.

The TA did *not* pass. But it was close. Very close.

A little less than 51% of the pilots voted against the contract.

Our last call on the contract? I still thought it would pass — but not by much.

This is a major piece of news for those of us who are airline labor/management watchers, because I’m not sure where this one goes now — but one thing is for sure. This vote was clearly a “protest” vote.

The question now is — how do both sides go back to the table and renegotiate a contract that is NOT as lucrative or financially draining on the airline?

Yes, you read that correctly. NOT as lucrative.

And how much more aggressive will the pilots’ union leadership be (or new leadership) in pressing management for better financial performance at the airline?


I said at the beginning of 2009 that Southwest Airlines was going to be the biggest newsmaker of the year — on the domestic airline front. Nothing has changed with that prediction.

And …it’s only June.

Allegiant Air Pre-Announces Earnings


Late Tuesday Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air pre-announced that it will report earnings for the first quarter of between $1.34 to $1.38 per share.

This estimate is far above the then-forecast estimate by analysts for the airline — which had estimated the airline would post a profit of $1.20 a share.

The airline will report earnings this coming Monday.

So why the uptick from previous company guidance?

Analyst Dave Fintzen with Barclays, who recently initiated coverage of the airline’s stock (we talked about his recent research note on the airline in the latest edition of PlaneBusiness Banter) said today that because the airline gave no details other than the higher EPS estimate, it’s a bit hard to know where the better performance for the airline was. Although he assumes it was all on the revenue side, with revenue probably outperforming even the previous management guidance.

So what is Dave going to be looking for when the airline reports on Monday? Any feedback on the airline’s booking trends in its new markets, especially Los Angeles, in addition to any updated information on where the airline is going to grow now — as we move into the second quarter and third quarters.

AMR, Parent of American Airlines, Posts $375 Million Loss


Today AMR, parent of American Airlines reported their first quarter results.

What is it they say — it’s all about managing expectations.

And in the case of American’s first quarter numbers that were released today, that is exactly what management did — as the airline had just recently warned Wall Street that its first quarter numbers might not be as strong as first expected.

As a result of that guidance, analyst forecasts were then lowered.

Previous to the airline’s announcement today, the analysts’ consensus forecast a loss of $1.62 a share.

So today, when the airline reported a loss of $375 million or $1.35 a share — the shares of the airline took a nice bounce, gaining 19% on the day, closing at $5.01.

The reason for the better-than-expected numbers? Operating costs were down a bit more than forecast and RASM declines were not as sharp as previously indicated.

American’s stock was not the only airline stock that picked up some ground today — comments the airline made in its earnings call helped push up other airline stocks as well, as CEO Gerard Arpey indicated that the airline is not seeing any “further deterioration” as those in the revenue world like to put it. But, just as Alaska Airlines indicated in an SEC filing last week, Arpey said that American is also looking at May and June bookings that are off noticeably from this same time last year. He said that May and June bookings are off by about 2 percentage points.

This percentage drop is more or less in line with what Alaska reported last week.

AMR ended the quarter with $3.3 billion in cash and short- term investments, including $462 million that is restricted.

Reader Comment on United Pilots’ Stand on Aer Lingus Deal

Tough crowd out there today.

From the inbox:

You are not serious about this whiny crap from UA pilots are you?”


Let me put it this way. Given what is going on at the airline — I would have expected the airline to have at least discussed this “innovative agreement” with its pilot union before it was announced. At least.

Actually, I’m more interested in an arm-wrestling contest between Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and United’s Glenn Tilton.

I’d pay big bucks for that ticket.