It's not easy being a neighbor and competitor to a big hub airport like
September 2008 Archives
It's not easy being a neighbor and competitor to a big hub airport like
From the past, a blast. Deregulation, like success, has many fathers when times are good, but those fathers and architects sometimes fade intro the woodwork when airlines are caught up in real turbulence. Not so for Alfred Kahn, who is one of the few to earn the title and one of the few to stand consistently for what he believes in. As chairman of the old Civil Aeronautics Board, he led the movement to deregulate US airlines in 1978. Now 91, he's still active and sharp of mind and tongue, and spoke this week to the world gathering of airport types at the Airport Council International's big global summit in Boston. Kahn reminded the 2,000 delegates, "The industry in the last 30 years gave the public something it had not received before: high quality, space, and low cost. It catered to a variety of demands and abilities today so that we had an enormous spread of fares. It offered the people upgrades such as business class and frequent flyer miles."
But Kahn, who now teaches at Cornell University, noted that increased air traffic has led to congestion, which has led to delays and unhappy flyers and that has led to calls for government reregulation.
Left Field is flying away for a few days, but rest assured we're not on a pleasure trip. We're off to Santiago, Chile, and will be posting from there as time and Internet connections allow. We might have fun, but only if it's allowed by the local authorities.
Air Canada masked the fare hike by adding that it will be the first major North American carrier to drop its extra fee for a second piece of checked baggage in response to the recent drop in fuel prices. The fee ends September 23.
Its runway is the second longest in the state, and even Air Force One has landed there. It's right on the edge of one of the wealthiest regions in the nation, and sits near the junction of two major intestate highways. So why won't anyone fly to Hagerstown, Maryland, where the 7,000-foot runway was completed late last year at a cost of about $62 million? Just west of the wealthy
The airline says that by year-end it will have developed a way for customers to pay baggage fees at united.com when they check in on-line. Chicago-based United estimates that its merchandising efforts including its bag fees will raise as much as $700 million in 2009. The United fees begin on November 19.
We were chatting the other day with Mark Dunkerley, the suave Brit who's now a Hawaiian. After quite a few years at British Airways, Mark took over Hawaiian Airlines a few years back and last we saw him, had sort of gone native, or at least Tommy Bahama with those neat shirts they wear out there. His prime competitor, Aloha Airlines, had to shut down last April, and Hawaiian had to rush to fill in on intra-island routes. It is now actually flying a Boeing 767 between Maui and Honolulu even though this is a plane that's made for very high altitudes (35,000 feet) and very long-distance flights such as the routes to Australia or the mainland that Hawaiian flies. The Maui route takes about 18 minutes, which means the pilots have just about enough time to get the gear up and maybe do the flaps.
It's perhaps not the most auspicious date to be marking an anniversary. After all, today is September 11, the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed the United States and changed aviation forever. But for aviation, it's another day to mark: airmail service in the United States is 90 years old, and it's to be marked by the flight of three vintage planes across the country, starting on Long Island and taking 15 days to get to San Francisco. The planes include a Boeing 40C from 1928 as well as two Stearmans. All are veterans of early airmail service.
The Air Canada development - a deal with Farelogix - puts the carrier's a-la-carte fares and other products as well as Air Canada flight passes into travel agents' desktops. It follows other links and interfaces through competing middlemen as well as a product on Galileo, the Travelport GDS, dubbed Agencia, says the airline's John Reber.
Could he be right? We hope so, because Ray Neidl, the hard-working Calyon Securities analyst, thinks that "the worst is past for US airlines." This would be a very good thing, because we have just learned that the US airline industry paid out $4.1 billion for jet fuel in July, up 72% from the same month last year. Consumption was relatively flat at 1.11 billion gallons. The cost for a gallon of jet fuel rose 77% to $3.69 from $2.09 last year, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics said. BTS, a part of the Transportation Department, said that, including international carriers, fuel consumption fell 1% to 1.61 billion gallons with a global-wide fuel bill of $6.16 billion, up nearly 80%, year on year.
Yes, we are not bankrupt today. Th
eBay. The mere name conjures up images of...things other people don't want. Old books, auto parts, used computers, and airline trips. Yes, trips and vacations on JetBlue. The New York-based low-fares, high-service carrier, which now calls itself a "value airline," decided to put 300 roundtrips and six 'getaway' vacation packages on up for auction on the world's largest on-line marketplace, as eBay calls itself. JetBlue says it's the first to use an electronic auction site for last-minute trips such as these. EBay has been used before by carriers who wanted to donate seats to charties, and the Republican vice presidential nominee, Alaska Governor Sara Palin, says she put the state's plane up for sale on eBay when she took over from her predecessor. Last-minute travel deals and blind bargains are nothing new - there was even a site called lastminute.com - but this does seem to be a first.
The snappiest new airport terminal to open in North America for a good long while could well have your name on it. Or your company's. That's because in Detroit, where a new terminal is set to open on September 17, the airport owners, the Wayne County Airport Authority, are open to suggestions. They've hired a Denver company named General Sports Alliances to sell the naming rights to the new $430-million facility at Detroit Metro, the eleventh busiest US airport. People think this is the first time an airport has sold naming rights, although it's fairly common for airlines to pay to put their name on a sports facility or the like. Even the old USAir put its name on sports arena that used to be called the Capital Centre, in suburban Washington, although the airline changed its name and then moved to Arizona, while the Centre was imploded and then torn down.
Good money, bad money. Midwest Airlines, which used to be Midwest Express and is sometimes dubbed the bottomless money pit of Milwaukee, has saved itself from bankruptcy with yet another investment by TPG, the Texas Pacific Group. It's about $30 million. What's different this time is that it's lured another airline, Republic Airways, into putting money into its future, even though the last airline it won over, Northwest Airlines, had to write off all of its $213-million investment in Midwest (for a 47% stake). Republic puts in $15 million in a one-year loan, and agrees to another $10 million if Midwest meets some performance criteria. But Republic also gets a home for the dozen 76-seat Embraers it has been trying to place since it had to take them back from Frontier (which hasn't avoided bankruptcy) in late June.
EasyJet, Ryanair's largest low-fare rival in the European skies, has taken a decidedly different tack on screen-scraping and indeed on reservations as whole than its hard-line competitor. Within weeks of Ryanair's move to cancel the bookings of travellers who bought through unauthorised sites or screen-scrapers, EasyJet cut its fee for making a booking though a Global Distribution System (GDS) from a sliding scale that went up to 5 pounds sterling (that's 7.50 Euros, or about $312 in US money) to lower fixed rate of 3.30 sterling. The move is intended as a sharp contrast to the actions taken by Ryanair, says EasyJet distribution manager Jerry Dunn. The cut applies to bookings made through GDSs and other "approved third-party distribution channels" that are connected to EasyJet's API (Application Programming Interface).