Monthly Archives: February 2013
In 2008 the DOT awarded two slots to Spirit Airlines for daily non-stop service between Washington National Airport and Fort Lauderdale Airport. In July 2012 Spirit served notice to the DOT that they were abandoning their slots when the moved from DCA to BWI. The DOT made an announcement in the Regulations.gov docket DOT-OST-2000-7182 that the two “inside perimeter” slots are again up for bid. The DCA perimeter is a 1,250 miles. So an inside perimeter flight must be within 1,250 miles of DCA. Three airlines filed bids
US Airways filed a bid to start Oklahoma City – Washington DC
Southwest filed a bid to start Houston Hobby – Washington DC
and JetBlue filed a bid to Start Washington DC – Jacksonville FL continuing on to San Juan PR.
Previously several years ago US Airways and Delta did a slot swap between New York LA Guardia Airport and Washington National. This allowed Delta to develop a large operation at LGA and allow US Airways to increase the size of their DCA operation. Now I haven’t been in DCA since 2007 so I am not too familiar with the airport. So I wasn’t too sure of the size of US Airways operation there. However, because your truly is nerd I was reading Regulations.gov and I came across this:
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Boeing has forwarded its proposal for the lithium-ion battery fix to the FAA. The fix includes a shell around the battery, vent tubes, and better insulation between battery cells. An unconfirmed report has the Japan officials be rather unimpressed with the solution as the root cause of the fire is not yet understood. The USA Today is reporting the FAA will review the proposal and report its decision next week.
Iberia subsidiary of the IAG holding company posted an overall 1.2 billion dollar loss for 2012. This is bad news for the Spanish carrier as they struggle with labor relations and higher fuel costs. CEO Willie Walsh told the BBC that the airline needs to adapt to survive. Some of the recent changes IAG has made to the Spanish carrier include outsourcing large portions of the route network to “express” carriers. I put express in quotes because the express carriers are running A320s for the Iberia brand. This actions engender the predictable result from Iberia labor.
While BA, the other IAG airline, is hardly a model of airline efficiency they certainly do a better job than Iberia. Iberia is one of those airlines that has cranked along due to government support and a near monopoly on air service. However, that has changed in recent history with large numbers of LCCs entering in the Spanish market. Legacy carrier SpanAir shut down about year ago after a last minute takeover deal fell through. While it is unlikely Iberia will go bankrupt and shut down, they risk ending up like Austrian Airlines a brand run by contracted carriers.
I had the displeasure of flying Iberia from New York City to Istanbul several years ago on a mistake fare ($300.00). The only mistake made was that I purchased the ticket, I decidedly overpaid and that I think sums up Iberia quite well.
Iberia, adapt or be gutted.
Interjet Airlines yesterday finalized a deal to replace its domestic fleet with 100 Sukhoi SSJ-100s. The SSJ-100 is a Russian regional developed through a joint venture between Russian manufacturer Sukhoi and Boeing. This order represents the first time as far as I know of a Russian aircraft manufacturer delivering outside of former Eastern Bloc countries including Cuba. This is big for the Russian commercial aviation industry which hasn’t really ever seen true commercial success.
The SSJ-100 competes against the Embraer ERJ-195 and Canadair CRJ-1000, both very popular regional aircraft. Obviously Interjet sees something in the SSJ-100 that other airlines do not. If I had to guess that would probably be price. Airbus cut sweetheart deals with Northwest and America West to get the A320 into service in the United States, no doubt Sukhoi badly wants to carve out market share for its aircraft as well. Time will tell if the 100 SSJ-100’s will get Sukhoi the exposure it needs to develop markets outside of Russia.
It’s lent, the traditional time of Catholic self-loathing before Easter. But you don’t have to be Catholic to hate yourself and desire the most miserable travel experience on the planet. I can help with that, an around the world trip, in coach, on domestic 737s/A320s. This generally only works during the summer, but self-loathing is even worse in the summer. What would such an itinerary look like. Well here is a sample one, I came up with.
Sunday June 23rd Chicago-Toronto-St. John’s-London (Air Canada)
Air Canada 4899 ORD-YYZ CRJ-700
Air Canada 692 YYZ-YYT A319
Air Canada 822 YYT-LHR A319 +1 Day
Monday June 24h London – St. Petersburg
British Airways 860 LHR-LED A320
Overnight St. Pete
Tuesday June 25th, St. Petersburg — Vladivostok
Ural Airlines 385 LED-VVO A320 +1 Day
Wednesday June 26th, Vladivostok – Petropavlovsk
Ural Airlines 385 VVO-PKC A320
Thursday June 27th Petropavlovsk – Anchorage — Chicago
Yakuita Air 509 PKC-ANC 737-700
United 1562 ANC-ORD 737-800 +1 Day.
I have to admit that looks kind of fun.
Airbus has moved their first flying A350 into ground testing. Airbus is still a ways off from first flight and flight testing, easily shown by the lack of engines on the Airbus provided pictures. Looking at the pictures the thing that amazes me are those winglets. They look amazing.
Photos courtesy of Airbus and FlightGlobal
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I write a lot about airlines and mistake fares, but rarely do write a nuts and bolts piece. When you go to insertairlinenamehere.com or thridpartytravelagent.com and search for airline tickets, you get flights and prices. Airlines 101 is going to be a series of posts dedicated how that list of flights and prices is generated. Airlines 101 will also include frequent flyer tips and really any useful posts that will benefit airline customers. Today’s topic is fares. Generally when you do the search above you get various options and at various prices. Let’s take Phoenix to Orlando leaving on October 1, 2013. I plug that search into www.google.com/flights and I get these results:
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Aviation Week, is reporting that Lufthansa is looking at acquire 6 777-300’s for subsidiary Swiss Air.
While the order if it happens would be small, six air frames, it would mark a shift from Airbus to Boeing. Currently the Lufthansa Group operates only 4 772ERS and they were acquired in a merger. Lufthansa has shown little interest in Boeing planes outside of a token order of 15 Boeing 747-8is. Between Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian, and Brussels (all part of the the Lufthansa group) the current fleet plan after retirements is 42 Boeing aircraft, 19 747-400’s 15 747-8is, 4 767’s and 4 772ers. This number is really smaller at the 15 748’s will be replacing the 744s, so it is closer to 25 Boeing frames compared with a current fleet of around 480 frames. So less than 10% of the Lufthansa group’s fleet is made by Boeing.
Aviation week cites available slots as the reason for the Boeing order. That’s believable as the the A350, the closest Airbus equivalent to the 773 will not be online for several years. These 773s will replace Swiss’ A340 fleet. The A340-300 that Swiss currently operates has largely been replaced by the A330-300, basically a twin engine variant of the A340-300. The cost of moving to two engines resulted in shorter range. So, while Swiss was able to replace their Trans-Atlantic fleet with the A330s, they were not able to do so on their Asia flights. The quest for greater efficiency and lower operating costs has led Lufthansa to at least contemplate ordering 777-300s.
One added benefit for Lufthansa would be preferential pricing from Boeing. Boeing would love to book another order from a long time Airbus customer. Also Lufthansa might be able to leverage future Airbus orders.
After I posted yesterday about so called “travel consulting” I thought that would be the end of it. Not of the idea of travel consulting, but my interest in it. However, I got hate mail. Most surprisingly it was from the UPGRD.com group. They commented on my post. I was of two minds when it came to their comment. About half of the original comment was personally insulting to me, which I deleted before allowing to be posted. It caused me to think about a comments policy. To be fair, heckling and trolling are both internet past-times but I am not going to allow personal attacks in the comments. Sorry.
Matthew was kind enough to send me several private messages through Flyertalk.com ending with, “The true scam is you, Mr. Butler. I pity you.”
Then I got an e-mail again from the UPGRD.com group demanding that I pay them $150.00. The funny part about this is I sent them an e-mail a week ago stating that I was not in need of their services and there was no reply. It was only after my post yesterday that the frankly bizarre demands for payment started up again. I am not sure of the logic behind their e-mails; but I sent them my actual phone number for them to call me they if they wish to discuss my post and their fee. They have not as yet done so.
These interactions show a lack of maturity when it comes to moving from blogger on the internet to running a business. If someone were to use their services what they do is go online and put a reward ticket on hold. Even after you, the user, ticket it, UPGRD.com still has access to all of your personal information. I would not trust an organization, much less one that does not have bonding, a physical address, or even a phone number with my personal information. Therefore, I would advise anyone who is seeking out such services to avoid, at least for now, the UPGRD.com expert award search.
Belabored carrier Vision Airlines was charged with Grand Theft after it failed to remit over $100,000 in passenger facility charges to Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
Vision has been an inconstant carrier. They started life as a charter carrier in Las Vegas back in the mid 1990’s. Recent they moved into scheduled air service. I remember them when they served Atlanta for a brief time.
The majority of their operations have been and are currently in the Southeast United States. While Florida is great market it is also fully covered by Delta, Southwest and American. This leaves little room for an upstart carrier. Which is evidenced by Vision’s expansion and reduction.
I don’t really expect anything to come of the charges. It is more stunt than anything else, but it did get me to write a post on an otherwise slow news day.