The air was thin, but here’s why Aspen was a gold news rush

Labouring for breath in Aspen made me realize a few things – A) It was a good idea to quit smoking (okay, I sneak the very odd one); B) I am incredibly out of shape (though grateful for my dad’s metabolism) and C) I should have booked the Boyd conference earlier and snagged a room on premises at the St Regis (although the Hotel Jerome was lovely).

CSeries promo.JPGBut while oxygen was in short supply, the same cannot be said about news from the conference. That flowed like the Colorado River, my friend. In short, the Boyd summit was a bloody treasure trove of information.

One of the chattier executives was Northwest Airlines VP international marketing and sales Fred Deschamps, who insisted – just before Boeing’s Monday afternoon presentation – that the airframer needs to deliver the 787 within spec, noting that All Nippon Airways has more leeway in taking initial 787 deliveries outside of spec (read all about it, and Boeing’s response, here).

Deschamps also revealed details about the post-merger plans of a combined Northwest/Delta, saying that some Northwest aircraft could move to Atlanta; that Northwest’s 757s are staying put in Tokyo; and that the two carriers are looking at west coast hub opportunities but might have to make the best of Salt Lake City in the near-term.

Additionally, the Northwest/KLM relationship could be rejigged post-merger (either side could renegotiate the terms) and it is possible that there is “at least short-term pressure” to modify the alliance. The carrier also has its eyes focused on new Middle East and South American opportunities.

Frontier Airlines CEO Sean Menke also made some revelations, saying that the Denver-based carrier is interested in acquiring more Bombardier Q400 turboprops (yep, options are being firmed); a full-fledged codeshare with AirTran Airways is being pursued; and – okay not a huge shocker – he is not the biggest fan of regional jets (that would help explain why the Airbus A320 family and Bombardier Q400 operator removed Republic’s E-Jets from its operation….that and the fact that the low-cost carrier found the per block hour cost a bit much).

The airframers were also forthcoming. Airbus director market forecasting Simon Pickup assured that final definition freeze of the A350 would occur at the end of this year. And Boeing director business strategy – marketing Richard Wynne told conference attendees that the maritime Poseidon (which is based on the 737NG) has just started to go down the production line. But Wynne’s worthy contribution to the conference might best be summed up in quotes.

Here are some of his finest:

“We have every intention of surviving and not just surviving [but] thriving at Boeing.”

“Did you hear that we’re having a strike at Boeing? …Clearly there is a communication issue between ourselves and the union.”

“It [a successor to the 737] will be in the latter part of the next decade, not the middle.”

Air Transport Association president and CEO James May, meanwhile, insisted that cabotage rights “will not change” now or in the foreseeable future. “There will be no laws on cabotage in the next or any ensuing Congresses,” he predicted. Such rights, among the issues being discussed during second-stage European Union-USA open skies negotiations, would enable foreign carriers to operate domestic connections in the USA.

Perhaps the best moment of the conference, however, came when Marian Boyd – wife to Mike – managed to trump her always-quote-alicous husband when she interrupted him while he was speaking on stage. “Excuse me. I have some announcements to make,” she said from the floor, adding to thunderous laughter: “He just thinks he runs the company.”

(Pic above right from Bombardier’s new CSeries promotional video…more on that later) 

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45 Responses to The air was thin, but here’s why Aspen was a gold news rush

  1. Bob Jahn October 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    My comments on: A.) Enjoy it while you can. B.)Out of shape, ya right! C.) You’ve been busy, right?

    I think it’s very strange that Airbus throws out their calculations on the 787 to scare the customers to possibly change to the A350, (which will probably have its own weight and performance issues just like the A380 had). Northwest bites on those calculations and warns Boeing. So what will Northwest do if it’s not delivered to spec? Cancel their order and go with A350′s with a delivery date of 2018? Can’t we all just get along?

    I’m not a fan of the Q400 aircraft. Those itty bitty wings bug me for some reason. I’m sure they are a fine aircraft and have a very good safety record… Just something about their appearance. I’ve opted for a later flight on a 737 rather than fly a Q400 before. Yes, I am probably an idiot.

    Sounds like a fun time in Aspen. I would loved to have seen Marion pull that on her husband. do you think this was scripted?

  2. Mary Kirby October 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    Hey Bob,
    Marian’s comment seemed totally unscripted (so much so that Mike was apparently a little flustered/perterbed). All in good fun.

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