January 28, 2014 on 2:00 am | In Mergers and Bankruptcy | No Comments
American Airlines is going to close the flight operations center that US Airways maintained in the Pittsburgh area in favor of the larger, more robust center in Fort Worth. It’s a sensible move on the part of American Airlines but I fully expect Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania based politicians to, once again, decry mergers and their effects.
It is a loss for the Pittsburgh area. The center employs about 600 people and while those people will in most cases be offered jobs in Forth Worth, that doesn’t do the Pittsburgh area any good.
There will be other impacts to other areas as well. I fully expect Phoenix to get hit pretty good, for instance. The reality is that American Airlines (Old) had a great deal of capacity and infrastructure in place. There is little good reason to adopt a system from US Airways in the integration because in almost every case the AA system will be more robust. This will lead to more displacement on the US Airways side.
The area where I think AA takes a hit is in servicing the aircraft. Operations will see US Airways people come in and re-acquaint AA employees with how to run an ontime operation. I suspect we’ll see the care and feeding of the A320 fleet be tasked over to US Airways stations in many cases as well. There will be an integration and it won’t be just AA taking over US routes. But it won’t be delightful for some operations centers such as Pittsburgh.
January 27, 2014 on 1:04 pm | In Airline Service | 1 Comment
Southwest Airlines has announced its intentions to start flying international routes for the first time in its history. Starting on July 1st, Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando will have daily (or near daily) flights to Jamaica, Aruba and The Bahamas. For those of you paying attention, I think this could actually be construed as Southwest Airlines announcing its intention to keep Airtran destinations with a bit of Southwest flair.
This makes sense because it fits within infrastructure that Southwest has today at those destinations. Southwest can “learn” how to be an international carrier and ensure its new reservations system which is debuting in international form with these additions.
Consider this: Southwest has been trying to have some form of international flight via partners or itself since 2008. It’s 2014 now. Wow, that took a long time.
These are the first announcements, I expect many more international announcements this year and next. I think Southwest will seek to cover the Airtran destinations it wants to keep first and then will start exploring flights to new destinations both across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea as well as to Mexico and Canada.
What this most defnitely is not is a move to a need for a different aircraft. Southwest’s current fleet plans can handle these flights just fine. It’s possible that additional foreign destinations may drive more 737-800/-8Max purchases but we expected that anyway.
January 14, 2014 on 1:52 pm | In Airline News | No Comments
There is a news report that the 787 has experienced another battery incident in Japan.
And when we digest the sensational reporting, we find that . . . not so much.
A single battery cell “vented” as designed when a 787 was undergoing scheduled maintenance. The 787 was owned by JAL and US authorities have not decided to investigate.
Which brings me to another, related issue: The 787 battery fix.
This is a fix that by all appearances has done exactly what it was designed to do which is to inhibit the problem from occurring but also protect the airliner if it does occur. That single cell venting mentioned up above? That’s a design working as it is supposed to. A cell may destruct but now it can’t induce a runaway event in the battery itself.
I think quite a few people owe Boeing an apology for their rather strong criticisms of the battery fix design and what it would mean. One of those people would be Elon Musk who famous tried to tell the chief engineer at Boeing how to fix the problem. It’s notable that the Tesla S car is now the focus of . . . wait for it . . . batteries catching fire after accidents.
New technologies bring about new problems. Sometimes those problems aren’t fully uncovered until something goes into service and that doesn’t mean aircraft (or cars) shouldn’t go into service. We also shouldn’t be quite so quick to condemn an aircraft for a problem related to that new technology. When the battery grounding was going on, there were several Talking Head experts opining that this aircraft is a failure and should possibly be permanently grounded.
January 5, 2014 on 2:00 am | In Airline News | No Comments
American Eagle Airlines is going to be changing its name.
Why? Because American Airlines wants that name for all of its connector services and American Eagle will be operating connection services with several other airlines for American Airlines.
Put another way, it’s American Airlines’ name to do what it wants with it. Given what a strong brand it is, I would want to use it for all my connection services too.
What will it be? You can bet it will be something fairly meaningless and without inspiration. Because American Eagle will have to become a stand alone airline and operate among all the other regional airlines.
American Eagle is going to have some hard times ahead of it. It will have to compete for AA’s business as well as business from other airlines and that is a cutthroat business. Its pilots are going to have to swallow hard on contract changes that will see them go from being an arm of American Airlines when it comes to pay and benefits to becoming “one of the other guys”.
That will be hard for everyone under the American Eagle name today.
But American Airlines is not losing a name. It will keep the American Eagle name but it will simply apply it to all flights being performed by regional airlines under its umbrella.
And that’s probably as it should be.
January 4, 2014 on 1:26 pm | In Airline Fleets | No Comments
It’s been a busy holiday season for me and a good one. I hope it has been for you and yours as well.
The Flag Stays! It’s decided, by a pretty narrow margin, that the Blazing Flag tail design that American Airlines released about a year ago will stay. The vote was roughly 49% for the old “AA” tail vs 51% for the new design. Most of us pundits felt that given that choice, the flag would stay.
Doug Parker believes, or says he believes, that livery doesn’t influence a passenger much at the end of the day. He’s the CEO of the largest airline in the world, he may know more than I do.
I think that livery and branding make a huge difference in an airlines fortunes. But I also come from the school of thought that says that a business should stake out a stand on things. I like companies that aren’t all things to all people in their branding but, rather, a company that sets a vision with its branding.
I greatly prefer a company such as Apple who brand and styles itself to be polarizing as opposed to a company such as United Airlines whose branding and styles leave me wondering what they stand for at this point.
American’s is polarizing and that may be good enough. The one thing AA’s livery is not is boring. I still think the flag is wrong and I think the flag could be redesigned. And it may well be redesigned one day but for now, I concede the decision and wish American success.
No offense US Airways people but your livery is actually worse. You’re getting an upgrade, in my opinion.
It has been tradition for me to make predictions for the new year but I don’t want to do that this year. I think we’ll keep doing what we do best: advocating for better companies in the industry and criticizing the worst of the mistakes.
Happy New Year
December 27, 2013 on 4:30 pm | In Airline Fleets | 7 Comments
Delta Airlines DC-9-50
Delta Airlines is retiring the remainder of its DC-9 fleet in January and the -9′s replacement is coming online in the form of 737s and 717s and even larger regional jets.
Delta actually wasn’t a DC-9 customer. Not exactly anyway. The DC-9 came over in the merger with Northwest Airlines who was a big DC-9 customer. Northwest got many of its DC-9s from the Republic merger. Delta kept the aircraft on for several years because the capital costs were low and the aircraft are built so sturdy that their maintenance still wasn’t that expensive. The remainder of the DC-9s are DC-9-50 aircraft with 120 seats.
This marks, as best as I can tell, the end of the DC-9 in the United States. To all the DC-9 fans out there, I know you’ll hate me but I say good riddance.
It’s not that I hate the aircraft, it’s that I hate that the aircraft was around doing daily service even today. This is one of the only places in the entire world where you will see a 35 year old aircraft still doing passenger work and its representative of the service levels that airlines deliver in the United States.
And the old DC-9s used to give me a headache from the cabin pressure.
It’s a sturdy airliner and they’ll never build them like that again and let’s just admit that we don’t want them to built like that again. They were sturdy but they were also overbuilt and heavy for the service they performed.
They live on anyways. The MD-80/90 series aircraft are just DC-9s by another model name. In fact, their type certificates call them out as DC-9-8X’s and DC-9-9X’s. So the DC-9 isn’t really gone. Even the truly old aircraft aren’t gone because there are still a lot of MD-82/83 aircraft with steam gauge cockpits out there.
And the Boeing 717 aka the MD-95 aka the DC-9-95 not only still flies but flies efficiently. I liked that aircraft and still do. I would like the MD-82/83 aircraft of American Airlines if they had simply put a newer, more comfortable seat on it. I always liked that you had only a 1 in 5 chance of getting a middle seat too.
But it is time for them to go and let’s pause and reflect on the fact that those aircraft were born mostly before airline deregulation and are only just now going to pasture in an era that doesn’t remotely resemble the industry they were originally built for. That ain’t nothing.
December 26, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Airline Service | No Comments
It’s been announced by new American Airlines President Scott Kirby that American Airlines will no longer have kinder, gentler hubs in the near future. Some time ago, American Airlines de-hubbed its hubs some. Instead of hard peaks and valleys of activity at airports, it allowed flights to spread out more on arrivals and departure. Labor was more steadily occupied but it also gave passengers less connecting opportunities. US Airways doesn’t operate this way and Scott Kirby doesn’t want American Airlines operating this way.
So, we’ll see hubs more concentrated with flights at various times. Why? Because it earns more money and it’s all about the Benjamins. Is this bad for anybody? Nope, not really. Not a single person is necessarily impacted in a bad way. It’s just a different style that earns more money. Do you see a theme here?
Since hubs got mentioned by AA, I thought I would look at their new hubs.
Everyone always suspects airlines are going to de-hub a location. Every airline always promises that won’t happen. It always happens but in the case of American Airlines, it won’t happen for at least 3 years at most locations. Which, coincidentally, is about the time it usually starts happening.
I’m going to make some predictions on the AA hubs that are going to annoy some people. First off, I think there are really 3 kinds of hubs today. They are true network hubs, focus cities and gateway cities. The first is the traditional major network hub that offers something for everyone. The second is similar but more “regional” in flavor. The third is a city where international and domestic flights interchange in large numbers. It can also be a network hub.
Here is what I think will happen in the case of American Airlines hubs:
Dallas / Fort Worth: Largely unchanged. Seriously. Nothing much to see here except, possibly, a few more flights to a few more destinations. DFW is both a major network hub and increasingly becoming a gateway hub again.
Chicago: The same as Dallas. Exactly the same as DFW. Nothing more here.
Charlotte: The same as Dallas and Chicago. Exactly the same. There is no reason to change this location and it won’t be taking the place of Miami.
Phoenix: The same as Dallas, Chicago and Charlotte. It will remain a major network hub but probably with less focus on international destinations.
Los Angeles: A gateway city that will become more gateway. I think we’ll see an increase of international flights here to South America, across the Pacific and to Europe. It will be the West Coast Gateway for American Airlines. But it won’t be similar to Phoenix. The two are not redundant. Phoenix will feed Los Angeles and vice-versa but they won’t take each other’s place.
New York City: This will be the East Coast Gateway, a version of Los Angeles. I think we’ll see increased flying to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and India. Europe flights will remain largely the same but possibly see aircraft upgauged to large sizes.
Miami: A gateway city to South America that will be reduced in importance. I don’t see opportunities growing much here and I don’t see Miami serving the area as a focus city or network hub. It’s expensive and inefficient to operate that way in Miami. We will probably see a few regional flights reduced to this city and maybe a few increased flights to South America. Possibly we’ll see some flights to Africa.
Washington D.C. This will remain a major regional focus city. Nothing changes here at all. A major presence at Washington National, a minor presence at Washington Dulles.
Philadelphia: I think Philadelphia will be a focus city with international tendencies. It’s possible that Philadelphia will become similar to Chicago but I think it will be more regional with some international flights. Not quite a major network hub, not quite a gateway city. I think there will be some reduction in flights to and from this city over a very long period on a net basis with possibly some European flights increased.
And then there is the gap. The Pacific North West. I think that American Airlines will look to establish a second West Coast Gateway city and I think it will be Seattle. Alaska Airlines is about 3 years away from having an ulcer, in my opinion. It’s possible they may choose to focus on Portland and that wouldn’t be the worse choice but I think that Seattle has more “name” to it. Portland, on the other hand, has more available capacity, better weather and is just as close to destinations across the Pacific as Seattle. Portland is the more “logical” choice but Seattle is the better brand choice.
Either way, a new Gateway City will be focused in that area sometime between Year 3 and Year 5, in my opinion, and it will be a battleground between both Delta and American Airlines with Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines suffering as a result.
December 24, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments
Braniff’s 707-227 was commonly referred to as Rudolph (as in the Red Nosed Reindeer)
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the gates
Not a creature was stirring, not even FAs
The stockings were hung by the air bridge with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The passengers were nestled all snug in their cots,
While visions of ontime flights disturbed their thoughts.
And Momma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled onto our luggage for a long winters nap.
When out on the tarmac there arose such clatter,
I sprang from the cockpit to see what was the matter,
Away to the door I flew like a flash,
I lowered the airbridge and looked for the crash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave lustre to the fuselages below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a quaint biplane and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old pilot, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than turboprops his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name!
”Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the gate! to the top of the terminal!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash-8 away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild 757 fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the terminal the coursers they flew,
With the biplane full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the concourse St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with oil and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a frequent flyer, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a widebody face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the airbridge he rose!
He sprang to his biplane, to his team gave a ring,
And away they all flew like the fastest of Boeing.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he banked out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
This version copyright 2011 by Gregory V Robinson
December 23, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Airline News, Mergers and Bankruptcy | 2 Comments
The flight attendant unions of American Airlines have decided to make love, not war, again. There is a deal in place for the APFA (Association of Professional Flight Attendants) to represent the flight attendants of the merged airlines of US Airways and American Airlines. The Association of Flight Attendants (US Airways) is leading its members to the APFA to get a new “industry leading” contract in place.
The AFA (US) gets to have some voice in their destiny in the process.
It’s great that they want to move forward and I have no doubt that working in unity would yield a better outcome than otherwise expected.
But I’m not sure these groups are really going to get along well. It remains to be seen and I would love to hear from a US Airways flight attendant about their views on working together with the APFA and Laura Glading.
On the one hand, the APFA does very well in marshaling their membership to speak with one voice. But they do tend to keep talking about 20 years ago and restoring things to the way they once were.
If I were in either union, I would want a union leadership that got me a good deal for today’s conditions in airlines. And that doesn’t mean a bad deal or a concessionary deal. It means a deal structured around how the airline industry is working today. If I were a leader, I would make these my goals:
- Workplace flexibility: The ability to work my job, earn my salary at a living wage and still be able to cope with a modern set of challenges in my family. How about flight scheduling that is a win-win for both the airline (in terms of productivity) and the flight attendant.
- A salary rate based the hours I work rather than the size of aircraft I fly or the distance I fly. Re-think how salaries should be paid so that the actual effort expended is in sync with the pay earned.
- The ability to actually take charge and deliver great customer service to my passengers without fear of retribution for daring to use my mind.
- Managers who empower rather than punish. This is very, very important. Give the flight attendants a chance to show what they can bring to the company and its financial performance. They might possibly be the most important part to a turnaround.
- A retirement plan based on a modern model (401K) designed to minimize risk to my retirement but also reward my service time. AA has some of the best financial managers in the world, ask them to go to work at finding a way for my union to experience real growth in my retirement.
And it’s time to realize for everyone, management, all unions and all other employees are all One Team.
Live by each others efforts and die by each other efforts. Anyone who wants to go to “us vs them” should be sidelined. This isn’t about just making the airline successful someday. This is about making the airline successful as fast as possible and sharing the rewards of that success among all the members of the company. The faster a real, consistent profit is earned, the faster everyone can start sharing in that.
I would want to get to that point quickly because earning more money in 2015 is a whole lot better than earning more money in 2018.
December 22, 2013 on 1:25 pm | In Trivia | No Comments
December 17, 2013 on 11:19 am | In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, has instituted a rather quick vote by the employees of the newly combined airline to decide the fate of the new American Airlines livery. All employees of the new company (AA and US Airways) get to vote on whether to keep it as it is or to go back to the previous logo on the tail.
There will be no entirely new paint job. The fuselage and new airline logo being used on the fuselage with billboard titles will remain the same. The only change up for vote is to retain the new tail or to revert to the old tail.
Reverting to the old tail and in combination with the new fuselage actually has some very real appeal for me and that is coming from someone who never liked the old logo that much either. But I agree with many who are already saying that the new logo will win. I think it will too. I don’t think it will last very long but I think it will be retained.
But let’s see what happens and you can’t fault Parker for not addressing things head-on. He wants a consensus and this is a good place to start with his team.
The best news, in my opinion, is that there will be some legacy liveries done to celebrate the airlines that make up this new American Airlines. That’s a lot of airlines and it appears that it will include homage to TWA, an airline that I think got lost as a legacy when purchased by American Airlines.
December 16, 2013 on 3:14 pm | In Airline Service, Airports | No Comments
According to the Dallas Morning News, Delta Airlines has released a schedule that now includes October 2014 and apparently Delta expects to fly a massive number of flights from Love Field to its own hubs. By massive, it would appear that Delta has 22 flights to its hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York La Guardia and Los Angeles. The only two cities missing are Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Delta wants to use the American Airlines gates at Love Field that it rents today for those flights. 22 flights from 2 gates seems a touch optimistic so I do wonder if Delta has something else up its sleeve.
Southwest has 16 gates and no one is entirely sure if they can have more than that. American Airlines has 2 gates and United has 2 gates. According to restrictions put in place in winding down the Wright Amendment, no more gates are supposed to be built. The real shame of that is that there are several gates across the tarmac from the main terminal originally built for Legend Airlines that would be exceptional for use in a Delta operation.
The City of Dallas and the airport authorities don’t want to allow expansion at Love Field. They want traffic to be focused on DFW airport but . . . DFW airport is actually pretty full at this point. There will be a few gates at DFW available for use once Terminal E is renovated but not many and they’ll go quickly.
So why not open up Love Field even more? I wonder if Delta isn’t planning to sue for more access myself.
In the meantime, let’s ponder for a minute the chance to fly Delta to its hubs from Love Field airport in less than a year.
That’s what I meant by Change, It’s coming.
December 15, 2013 on 11:37 am | In Airline News, Airline Service, Airports, Mergers and Bankruptcy | No Comments
With the US Airways / American Airlines merger done this past week, everyone is speculating on change we can expect but in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, I think we can expect change in at least 4 different areas and it’s all good for those in this metropolitan area.
1) American Airlines will slowly return to being the on-time, service oriented airline that it once was. Parker & Company know how to fix operational issues and get planes going where they need to go. I also think we’ll see the benefit of code-share flights through the system to destinations that might well yield lower prices.
2) Southwest Airlines will be unchained on October 13, 2014. On that day, Southwest can fly where it wants to from Dallas Love Field as long as it is in the domestic 48 states. This will not only offer us opportunities to fly non-stop to major cities in the US but it will also put some competitive pressure on American Airlines (and other airlines) on routes to and from the DFW area.
3) Ultra Low Cost Carriers will move quickly to find their toehold at DFW. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to be had in this area and Spirit Airlines has figured that out. I expect Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier to all try to get gate space and establish operations in this area. Those ULCC airlines will put some competitive pressure on both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines who both could use it in this area.
4) While I think United has missed a huge opportunity in the DFW area over the past 2 years, I have noticed that Delta hasn’t. I expect Delta to work itself more and more into the DFW area and I think they will do this both at DFW and Love Field airports. Delta has been doing very well at establishing point to point flights and encroaching on its competitors territory. They pursue a modest push into markets with the resources that only an airline such as Delta has.
Most airlines know that there is a limited time left to encroach in this market and if you think that airlines executives aren’t worried about Doug Parker, you are only kidding yourself. They know what Parker and his team can do with the resources that AA has and that is a big reason why many attempted to sabotage this particular merger. Parker was never a great threat with US Airways because of the limitations it imposed on him and his team.
I said it two years ago and I’ll say it now: As soon as American Airlines declared bankruptcy, that was the time to move hard into the DFW area. Several airlines missed that opportunity to become entrenched (Virgin America and jetBlue) and some saw the opportunity and grabbed it solidly in their fists (Spirit and Delta).
It’s all good for those living in this area or those wanting to fly to this area. In one year, I believe we will see much better services and air fares that remain competitive. Don’t kid yourself, however, those air fares won’t be predatory. They just won’t be exorbitant. So if you’re waiting for an uber-bargain of the early 2000′s, your wait will be fruitless.
December 14, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Airline News | 6 Comments
Etihad has announced less than daily service to start to and from Dallas / Fort Worth to Abu Dhabi with a 777-200LR.
Now DFW airport will enjoy services to the Middle East hubs by Emirates (daily), QATAR and Etihad. If you think that suddenly that many people in the DFW area would like to fly to the Middle East, you would be wrong.
This is about developing a route to these hubs for follow on flights to these airlines other destinations in the Near East, Middle East, Africa and India. This is about feed and this is about gaining a customer base before American Airlines becomes too big and too strong on those very same routes.
Because you can believe that a big part of AA’s strategy will be to grow internationally and those Middle East carriers’ route strengths are places where AA is weak today. Dallas is a large and even growing IT hub and hires tens of thousands of contractors from India alone. These carriers are the popular airlines for those people to fly. The connections are more desirable and the service is perceived to be far better than any US or India based carrier.
Will it work for these carriers? I kind of think that QATAR has the best chance since it gave in and joined Oneword. American can feed that airline an immense amount of traffic. The question is. . . will Parker & Company see QATAR as an ally or a foe as they work to expand American Airlines reach and attendant profitability.
I think Emirates and Etihad may well can survive on that route on the traffic to and from India alone. Presently, there are many who travel to Houston first in order to take advantage of flights on those airlines to India.
December 13, 2013 on 2:57 pm | In Airline Fleets, Airline News, Mergers and Bankruptcy | No Comments
American Airlines didn’t waste time in making a new order for new regional jets. The order is split between Bombardier and Embraer.
Bombardier CRJ900: 30 orders / 40 options
Embraer E-175: 60 orders / 90 options
The CRJ900 jets will go to US Airways wholly owned subsidiary PSA and, as you can imagine, PSA pilots are thrilled. The Embraer jets are To Be Determined and, as you can imagine, the American Eagle pilots are way less than thrilled.
I honestly can’t read the motives of American Eagle pilots. That airline is grossly overburdened with expensive 50 seat (or less) regional jets that will be going away. Make no mistake, even if the capital costs are exceptionally low for keeping those planes, they are going away. They are inefficient, costly to maintain and frequently break down at this point. They are becoming quite old and they don’t fit the modern world model.
American Eagle pilots, represented by ALPA, haven’t found an agreement with American Airlines. American Airlines president Scott Kirby thinks they can put a deal together and I think that . . . maybe not. AE pilots are very well paid and many have decided to make a career at that airline instead of doing what most other pilots at other regional airlines do after a few years: transition to a mainline airline.
I think AE pilots want to be paid like mainline pilots with mainline schedules. If true, I think that American Airlines has a solution for that problem: sell or shut down the airline. In case anyone wasn’t watching, there really aren’t any buyers for expensive regional airlines with old equipment. Comair anyone?
I feel bad for the AE pilots because they have a lot to lose and they don’t have much bargaining power. If a deal is made, I would make sure that AE pilots have the right to upgrade into mainline AA operations for the next 10 years. Pilots who stay in the regional airline game for their career can expect to see bankruptcies, consolidations, strikes and layoffs that are reminiscent of an era already gone in mainline operations. Fighting won’t change that.
The best favor a union could do for those people is find a way for them to move up and out.
Oh, and those Embraer jets that just got bought? They aren’t going to be committed to American Eagle until and if there is a contract. Wait too long and they’ll go to someplace like Republic who already operates them and who already works for American Airlines.
December 12, 2013 on 12:53 pm | In Mergers and Bankruptcy | No Comments
Yesterday, I made note that Doug Parker has put the right foot forward at the start of his leadership of American Airlines. Let’s take a look at those moves.
Parker has promised salary transparency and that will mean a great deal to employees at American Airlines. US Airways employees are already used to Parker being very candid about his salary but American Airlines employees got a lot of “surprises” over the past 13 years or so. Surprises that never looked good and always sent the wrong message. I think that AA employees are going to find Parker & Team very refreshing when it comes to transparency.
Reserved parking at headquarters for top executives has been eliminated. This will seem like a small thing but it is a wildly different attitude from that which existed at AA post-Robert Crandall (Crandall was fairly egalitarian in his regime but things changed after that starting with Don Carty).
Security guard for the executive offices have been dismissed. Can you even imagine needing a platoon of security for executive offices? Yet, that was reality and represents the “fortress” mentality of Gerard Arpey’s reign. (Mind you, you can’t go strolling into the executive offices to do whatever but that’s basic corporate security at any large corporation and appropriate.)
Before I go on, I want to point out that those three items alone could have been instituted by Tom Horton and his team the day they took control of American Airlines into bankruptcy. The fact that things like that did not happen is why I never felt Tom Horton was the right man for the job. Leadership really does start at the front, not the back.
Parker will surprise people with more things similar to this. For instance, I expect he will make 1 to 2 trips a month out into the field to hold informal discussions with employees.
And expect Parker to ensure his executive leadership follows his example. You won’t see executives hiding executive offices, never venturing out into the field.
This is why I think Doug Parker can turn American Airlines into a world class leading airline.
December 11, 2013 on 10:24 pm | In Mergers and Bankruptcy | 10 Comments
It’s possible that some readers may have noticed my absence. A Great Illness took hold of me. Then a Great Ice Storm.
So, more tomorrow but a comment or three today:
OK, so, everyone got what they asked for. It’s often been said that you should be careful what you ask for.
I think Doug Parker is off on the right foot in setting a leadership tone for the new American Airlines. I think the American Airlines employees will appreciate it both for the tone as well as the respect it shows to employees. I don’t know what the response will be from the US Airways people but I hope it’s tasteful.
Tom Horton got paid off. That part isn’t pretty but it was necessary, I think. Now, he’s gotten his payoff, it’s time to go. The sooner, the better. I’ll also now say that I think Tom Horton rose above my expectations in all of this. Although I didn’t care for his initial comments after the merger was announced, he did settle down and, more importantly, he did work earnestly to make the merger happen. That was significant and meaningful and he should get credit for it.
I think it was a gracious and even pleasant gesture for Bob Crandall to come out for the birth of the New Company. Seeing photos of Crandall, Horton and Parker at the beginning of the new company made me feel like this newly merged company has a very real chance at greatness.
For debtors, this is the best outcome anyone could get from a bankruptcy. Be thankful for it.
On the subject of the new American Airlines livery . . . I will buy Doug Parker the best Mexican dinner I can find in the Dallas area if he will just make that ugly design go away and bring something that A) is good design and B) is less expensive to paint on the over 600 new aircraft coming to AA.
November 27, 2013 on 10:47 am | In Mergers and Bankruptcy | 9 Comments
The US Bankruptcy Court has approved American Airlines’ exit from bankruptcy and merger with US Airways.
Employees of both organizations: Take a moment and enjoy what this means.
On December 9th, a new airline is being fashioned from two old airlines of which both have a very old, very long history.
I truly hope it is both successful and model for both service and price. I honestly do. I hope that the employees of both groups will enjoy higher wages, better working conditions and feel generally more beautiful and handsome.
But a word of caution too: Don’t screw it up with greediness.
<whispering> I’m talking about you flight attendants in case you didn’t realize. </whispering>
November 27, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Airline Fleets | 1 Comment
Emirates Airlines, in Dubai, has made another exceptionally large order for airliners. I usually criticize the airline for its A380 orders but I have some reactions to Emirates purchases on the Boeing side this time too.
First up, Emirates has ordered another 50 A380 airliners. They currently have 39 delivered and another 101 ordered. The configuration used on these airliners offers 517 seats and that is a lot of capacity. Each of those A380 aircraft represents 3.8 Boeing 737-700 airplanes. The growth required to support this fleet alone is something I continue to believe that Emirates will not be able to sustain. If each A380 flies just one flight per day, that is 140 flights a day for the A380.
Who here thinks that there are 140 city pairs that justify an A380? How about 70 city pairs?
And to make matters more interesting, Emirates has ordered (115) 777-9X and (35) 777-8X aircraft. The former should be capable of just in excess of 400 passengers. To be true, Emirates has previously announced its intention to retire some “classic” 777 aircraft of which a small portion of its (119) 777 fleet is comprised.
The size of this airlines’ fleet in 10 years and all invested in widebody, high capacity aircraft is nothing short of fantasy. The airline has grown today but it won’t beat everyone everywhere all of the time. Emirates is planning to add widebody aircraft to its fleet on a basis similar to what Southwest and Ryanair do with the 737. There are orders for 200+ aircraft seating more than 400 passengers each.
I don’t think it is sustainable in the long run. Time will tell.
November 26, 2013 on 2:00 am | In Airlines Alliances | 1 Comment
Alaska Airlines has been a maintstay in the Seattle area for decades and has always done well by providing above average service combined with competitive fares in the area. They have built a lot of loyalty in this area. Over the past two decades, Alaska has also engaged in partnerships with almost all comers.
They have been willing, for instance, to do business with both Delta Airlines and American Airlines (and many other airlines) on the premise that they were too small to ignore anyone and what they had to offer. That worked very well for Alaska.
A few years ago, after the Delta / Northwest merger, Alaska and Delta formed a more special partnership. The idea was that Alaska would provide feed in Seattle for a relatively small group of flights that Delta wanted to operate from Seattle. Flights that, mostly, were to go across the Pacific but which also included flights to Europe and some of Delta’s hubs.
It seemed innocent and very beneficial to Alaska at first but over time Delta grew Seattle into a big focus city that now borders on the verge of being a hub. Delta treats Seattle much like it treats both Los Angeles and New York: a good place to aggregate traffic onto international flights. Since Delta has so many international flights departing Seattle now, it needs more and more feed.
Feed that Alaska can’t provide in total. Alaska’s feed is more expensive anyways in that it doesn’t give Delta the economies of scale that a focus city/hub require. So Delta is adding more and more of its own flights and directly competes with Alaska out of Seattle on many routes now.
Each continues to act as if the other is still a great friend. Neither is really kidding anyone at this point.
At some point, Alaska will have to withdraw and do better at aligning itself with a variety of players again. Alaska is useful to Delta only to the point that Delta is unable to do for itself in that market. Delta is doing for itself just fine.
Alaska won’t pick a fight with Delta and probably won’t appear to do much at all until it finds a way out of this relationship that preserves all relationships. In the meantime, Delta will encroach more.
Competition is alive and well in the United States airline industry and this is a perfect example of the market power a behemoth such as Delta has vs the market power the LCC airlines have. Delta created a major focus city and did so in a few short years quite successfully.