The Livery aka The Paint Job

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.

 

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Airbus in the US

July 5, 2012 on 11:45 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

There has been quite  a lot of publicity over Airbus’ decision to build an A320 final assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, the same location it planned to use for an A330 tanker conversion site.  Pro Boeing people decry the decision as silly and pro Airbus people see it as Airbus gaining on Boeing.

I see it as neither.  Airbus building A320s in the United States isn’t going to help it sell aircraft from the “made in the USA” perspective.  Airlines are businesses and its customers here in the US long since gave up caring whether or not they were on an Airbus or Boeing with aviation fans being the incredibly tiny exception.

It might help a tiny bit in that Airbus may be able to open some production slots for airlines that want aircraft sooner than later.  However, that could just as easily be realized from one or two airlines deferring or cancelling orders over the next year.

It does help Airbus with profits as these aircraft will be dollar denominated aircraft but we’re only talking about an initial production rate of 4 aircraft per month . . . not a lot to realize here.  And should Airbus need to slow production, guess who is likely to be the first to shut down?  Yes, Alabama.  Labor laws in that state will make it far easier for Airbus to shut down a US based plan than one in Europe.  Their plant in China is politically driven and therefore likely to stick around despite the fact that it, at best, operates at a break even point rather than as a profitable enterprise.

Is it treading on Boeing turf?  No, not really.  Boeing needs to focus on its customers and keep its eye on the ball when it comes to delivering aircraft on time.  Reacting to this move by Airbus is just silly.

Does Boeing need to build elsewhere?  Again, no, not really.  They have their production figured out and while it may prove to be smart one day to move some production off-shore, they have a handle on their needs at present and there is no driving need to search elsewhere.  Besides, they have moved their production “off shore”.  They started an assembly line in South Carolina.

I don’t think Airbus has made a mistake but I also don’t see this as giving them any real advantage in the marketplace and only a tiny lift on profits which Airbus could stand to realize.

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Landing at LAX

March 23, 2012 on 6:16 pm | In Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Here is a great video of a variety of aircraft landing at LAX (Los Angeles) Airport.

Notice two things:  The billboard advertising a hotel in Las Vegas and the 50mph speed limit sign you see as the aircraft are landing.

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Everyone wants a DC slot

March 16, 2012 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Every airline under the sun is submitting applications to the FAA to fly a route that is outside the perimeter rule for Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.   Virgin America wants to fly from San Francisco to DCA.  Southwest and JetBlue want to provide non-stop flights between DCA and Austin.  Southwest plans to offer follow on service from Austin to San Diego.  Alaska Airlines wants Portland, Oregon to DCA. 

Like I said, everyone wants a piece of the action.  Why?  Well, those flights outside the perimeter are typically good revenue earners because they are limited on those routes, provide direct connectivity to politicians and businessmen and provide access to an airport that is very difficult to get.

And once you have those slots, you’re often able to reuse them for something else that falls within the original constraints of the award if you want.  A toehold at DCA is very, very valuable to an airline. 

Who gets them?  I actually tip this towards the JetBlue and Southwest proposals for connectivity to Austin.  It fits within a strong need.  I think that flights to San Francisco and Portland aren’t as attractive because there is decent competition on those routes albeit via Dulles airport.   I do think that connecting state capitols and, in particular, those of politically powerful states such as Texas, will be an unofficial driver in this choice.

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Fuel Prices drive fares?

February 20, 2012 on 12:38 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

It is being said more and more that rising fuel prices are forcing a rise in air fares and that message is being driven by the airlines.  While there is some truth that increasing instability in oil prices is raising the cost of fuel, that isn’t the whole story. 

Oil prices have been unstable for nearly 10 years considering the trend of rising oil prices since 2001.  those rises have been impacting airlines over and over again.  In fact, they are even somewhat predictable and that is why fuel hedging by airlines has yielded generally good results.  If anything, airlines take a hit in quarterly reports when fuel prices go down because that means their hedge *costs* them money. 

Airlines aren’t being greedy.  A $27 Billion company such as Delta *should* be earning a profit even in tulmutuous times.  In fact, airlines are doing what they should have been doing the last 30 years:  controlling capacity and even working together (legally) in the market places to support sustainable air fares that yield a profit.  That’s being done in two ways.

First, airlines are constraining growth of their companies and their capacity on certain routes.  This may become problematic for many as there are routes that would benefit from a better sized aircraft that are now either being served with too many frequencies by 50 seat jets or not served enough with right sized jets.  Airlines need a 100 to 130 seat airliner that they can operate via either regional airlines or themselves that will permit a cost structure that yields a profit.  Supposedly, the CSeries does this.  In practice, I do not know if we have that airliner . . . yet.

Second, airlines are “signaling” their competitors with air fare increases.  Airline A raises prices (often somewhat tentatively) and Airlines B through Z either stand pat, meet the increase or even decrease their prices.  It works like an auction for a good that can spoil.   Right now, the US airline marketplace has no upstarts that want to pick fights with the larger airlines.  The larger airlines know it is in their best interests to agree to those prices increases unless they absolutely are going to either lose marketshare or suffer unfilled aircraft. 

For the past 4 years, a great deal of discipline on the part of airlines has been shown in both raising air fares as well as manaing excess capacity and it shows in the reports of profits by airlines who are still in the midst of a severe economic whirlwind.

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Sunday Trivia: Who’s old?

October 30, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

There are few airlines in the world that have been operating for nearly the past century but they exist. 

Who is the oldest continuously operating airline the world?

Who is the oldest. . . period?

The answers after the fold: (more…)

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Fees and Taxes again.

October 22, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has decided to engage and fight a newly proposed fee of $100 per flight proposed by the current administration.  For details on his point of view, read THIS and THIS

I couldn’t agree with him more.  I think such increased fees are burdensome for an industry that benefits *all* citizens and businesses in the United States.  Whether you’re an infrequent or frequent traveler, you still benefit from a transportation system that makes quite a few parts of our economy successful. 

I also think that such fees imposed on travelers (directly or indirectly) is akin to treating them as having deeper pockets than the rest of the country.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Some taxes and fees are quite reasonable and should be expected.  In light of the debt this country is in, I absolutely think we need to raise more revenues through more taxes and fees. 

I do not, however, think it is effective or smart to push burden off onto a class of people who have a weak lobby in Washington.  This goes a bit too far and it should be pulled off the table.

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Sue Southwest?

October 8, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Remember the woman who was removed from a Southwest flight because of some improperly perceived threat based on someone “overhearing” a partial phone conversation?  She was actually kept off by the captain because the crew just didn’t feel “safe”.  Get the details here with a Dallas Morning News Aviation Blog post.

The woman, Irum Abbasi,  has decided to sue and I don’t blame her.  You see, I’m not a subscriber to the idea that the 1% rule is valid and I sure don’t subscribe to the “abundance of caution” approach to safety.  The woman was inconvenienced, humiliated and insulted primarily because she was a muslim and dressed accordingly. 

A muslim woman dressed according to her religion is *not* a threat.  It’s time that commercial businesses, even a nice one like Southwest, get their act together and start using better judgement.  I do *not* disagree with the woman being questioned.  That is, perhaps, appropriate.  But once the TSA determined she was not a threat, she should have been put right back on that aircraft and into her same seat. 

And the aircrew should have been told to settle down and do their jobs.   And captains need to get over themselves and failing to do so, should be reprimanded for engaging in behaviour that would get most people fired today.  If airlines continue to fail to exercise good judgement, I would recommend a few airline execs and airline captains go through extra screening, have their religions questioned and be inconvenienced with a voucher and offer to fly the next day. 

The woman suffered harm and, possibly, damages.  That’s what lawsuits are for.

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Brazil and Pollution

August 30, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

If US based airlines think the regulatory environment for them is tough here, they should consider Brazil.  A court in Brazil has ordered Brazil’s second largest airline, GOL, to plan a yet to be specified area with trees as compensation for the pollution its jets create.  It is expected that the other 41 airlines operating into, through and out of Brazil will receive similar orders.

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Order Numbers

August 8, 2011 on 8:49 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Airbus has racked up over 780 firm orders for the A320NEO since announcing its availability and even I have to say that I’m quite surprised at how fast that happened.  It would appear that airlines vocalized a desire for a new aircraft and ordered the re-engine like it was the best thing to happen since the Concorde.

There is absolutely, positively, no question that Boeing needs to get back in the game ASAP.  Theoretically, they did with the American Airlines order but . . . both Boeing and all other airlines have largely been silent on the 737RE since that order.

I was certain that we would hear other airlines grumble about being kept out of the loop or shout with joy that they, too, wanted to order the aircraft.  Instead, we learn at Southwest Airlines’ earnings call that they were kept in the loop and . . .

Nothing.  They were kept in the loop and  they endorse the aircraft but no other talk of an order.

The 737RE doesn’t have board approval to offer . . . yet .  However, in this particular case this really is a formality.  The lack of any other orders even getting mentioned as rumours tells us just how fast the AA deal was put together.  No one else is any farther along. 

I repeat, Boeing really needs to get back into the game.  Numbers are perception and Boeing knows how well it did when it was running up the 787 numbers in the early days.  Perception is as important as facts when it comes to whether or not an airline views your aircraft as leading edge.

Right now, we don’t even know what the 737-RE will be called and that’s kind of bad.

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Happy Birthday Southwest!

June 18, 2011 on 1:43 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Happy 40th Birthday Southwest!

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A380 Quickie

June 17, 2011 on 1:33 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Am I the only one somewhat caught off guard by the fact that Airbus has now delivered 50 A380 aircraft?

Congratulations Airbus!

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British Airways and United: Settled?

May 19, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

There has been a new agreement found between British Airways and cabin crew union Unite to settle the long running fight between the two.  This stops strikes set to begin again at least until after the union itself votes to accept the deal.  Union leaders are recommending agreement.

The breakthrough essentially comes as a result of British Airways agreeing to restoring full seniority perks it withdrew during the conflict.  New BA CEO, Keith Williams and former Unite negotiator and now leader, Len McCluskey are receiving credit for the new agreement.

I’ve got three thoughts on this:  First, Willie Walsh (now CEO of International Airlines Group, holding company of BA) should have made this deal last year.  It cost nothing and it was fairly punitive.  Second, if you think that Keith Williams did this without OK from Willie Walsh, you’re just kidding yourself and that makes the fact that this has gone on as long as it has somewhat silly.  Finally, this isn’t over until it’s over.  The union has a history of militant behaviour in this conflict and despite the leadership recommending acceptance, I wouldn’t count this as done until it does win an approval vote.  Furthermore, even if it does win approval, I’ll wager that it will be by slim margins at best. 

Once done, the airline and the union need to restore not just peace but harmony and take a long look at how this is avoided in the future.  That’s a tall task but necessary in this economic climate that airlines operate in.

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Where does the Virgin brand go?

March 2, 2011 on 1:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

In a previous post, I made mention of Virgin being courted by a few airlines as a result of their decision to investigate sale and merger possibilities.  I wondered what would happen to the other Virgin branded airlines: Virgin Blue and Virgin America most especially.

It’s been announced that V Australia / Virgin Blue , the hybrid named airline has done a deal with Etihad Airways which will see both airlines offering seemless codeshare between their airlines.  Etihad customers will have the opportunity to fly Virgin Blue to their final destination in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands.  V Australia / Virgin Blue customers will be able to access Etihad flights from Australia to global destinations offered by Etihad.

Just writing that awkward V Australia / Virgin Blue moniker makes me wonder what happends to the Virgin brand in Australia in the future.  Is it really worth having two different brands of which one is restricted by agreements with airlines such as Singapore?  In the long run, I think not.

If Virgin Atlantic is merged or purchased by someone, I suspect we’ll be seeing the other brands seeking their own identities.  Virgin Blue has great identity in Australia but virtually no where else and it isn’t exactly easy to connect it to V Australia (which is a name that I find weird at the least).  

As for Virgin America?  Who knows.  It’s a brand that is starting to gain some cachet in the US and perhaps it will stick around.  The potential for growing Virgin America as a brand in the US domestic market is huge.  Virgin America can fly to Canada and Mexico under that brand and I see no reason why they’ll want to be starting trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific routes in the next 2 decades.  They may well keep it but I think they’ll also start looking for international partnerships after they’ve got a robust enough network.

I do think we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Virgin brand as a global name if Virgin agrees to be purchased or finds a merger partner.  I doubt that we’ll see Virgin Atlantic purchase a partner and, frankly, I’m not sure there are any left in Europe that would be any kind of fit.  BMI was their last, best opportunity to stand alone.

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Winter Update

December 24, 2009 on 11:04 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

It would appear that I was wrong about recommending DFW as an alternate hub.  We should see ice and snow at that airport within the next couple of hours.  I’ve lived in this area for 40 years and can’t remember even a potential white Christmas approaching.  Delays are already showing up in DFW.  Oops.

From Denver across the upper 2/3′s of the heartland to as far east as Ohio or Pennsylvania will be suffering from building weather. 

 

Travel Hint:  If you need to re-plan a flight, look for unusual connections.   See if your airline flies to a city where you can take another direct flight to your destination by-passing a hub.  Airlines won’t show the connection in their system but if you ask for it and there are seats, you have an excellent chance of getting the connection.

 

Example:   If you were traveling from Virginia to the western half of the United States via Chicago, you may be able to connect to a different flight via ATL, Orlando, Houston,  Charlotte, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or even Seattle.  Yes, you may spend as much as 3 or 4 extra hours of traveling but you’ll raise your chances of arriving at your destination tremendously.

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Introduction

July 27, 2008 on 2:38 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Right now, I’m not entirely certain which direction this blog will go.  Being an avid fan of the airline business and someone who follows the business daily, I found myself having some opinions.  Being pretty certain that my family no longer wants to hear them, I thought I could write them here.  We’ll see what happens.

 

I said I was an airline business fan which means I’m not an old aircraft fan or a warbird fan.  Mostly I’m a fan of the business and my interest in commercial aircraft comes second to that.   As you can imagine, this is not a hobby that impresses dates.

 

On the header of this blog there are 5 different photographs depicting Braniff International aircraft.  Interestingly enough, 3 of those 5 never served Braniff.  One of those that did never served in Braniff livery.  The one on the far left is a photograph of a Braniff DC-10-10 model and working from left to right the remaining aircraft are a concept of the Boeing 2707 SST in Braniff colors, a model of a Braniff L1011, the Concorde in Braniff livery and, finally, the Alexander Calder Braniff DC-8. 

 

The DC-10, L1011 and B2707 SST never served Braniff.  (Indeed, the B2707 SST never got beyond full size model mockups).  Braniff did operate the Concorde, for a short time, by “sharing” the Concorde with both British Airways and Air France.  The services operated from London and Paris to Dulles Airport (Washington D.C.) and then Braniff flew them with their crews to Dallas.  By the end of the service, tickets on the Concorde from Dallas to Washington D.C. cost a $10 premium over standard first class fares. 

 

The Calder DC-8 is my favorite Braniff aircraft.  Designed by Alexander Calder, this DC-8 served Latin American routes through the 70′s.  It was only very rarely seen in Dallas and I can only recall seeing it once myself when, I believe, it was substituted onto the DFW-HNL (Honolulu) service in place of the regular 747-100 (N601BN).  I last knew of its fate about 4 or 5 years ago when I discovered it was serving an air cargo airline out of Miami.

 

If anyone finds this blog outside of my family, I’ll be impressed.  If you do and you like it, please leave a comment. 

 

Greg

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