February 3, 2021

TSA Now Can Enforce Mask Guidelines

With President Biden’s executive order requiring masks to be worn during interstate travel, including a specific reference to airports, TSA agents now have the power to enforce mask-wearing at checkpoints and throughout the airport.

Previously without a federal mandate, TSA agents were powerless to enforce local mask guidelines at checkpoints. TSA agents will now bar anyone who refuses to wear a mask from passing through the checkpoint and into the secured area of the airport. They also will announce to the world that the rule-breakers lack basic personal responsibility and respect for others.

TSA also plans to offer Precheck customers a new mask when arriving at the document checker with Precheck’s logo prominently featured alongside a middle finger. TSA officials believe passengers will be eager to wear their new mask showing off to non-Precheck customers what they’re missing while simultaneously making fun of them for sitting in that long line.

Reports Say the Boeing NMA is Back On

Despite beliefs to the contrary, Boeing CEO David Calhoun told industry experts that Boeing is continuing to move forward on the New Midsize Aircraft program (NMA). The surprising statement from the manufacturer comes on the heels of a historic $12 billion loss in 2020, and a $2.5 billion settlement with the federal government over the 737 MAX saga.

Questions emerged about whether or not Boeing would continue its NMA project during the height of the pandemic, but Calhoun said the company is moving forward and is making progress daily. He believes the plane could enter service as early as 2026, but Boeing is continuing to seek advanced solutions to make the plane more fiscally sound and environmentally friendly.

The NMA is expected to be a mid-market aircraft featuring twin aisles and a capacity of 270 seats. Its range will be roughly 11 hours and will serve a similar mission to the Airbus A321XLR. The Airbus aircraft was the inspiration for the NMAs original name, the Boeing 797neoXLR, but after considerable market research, Boeing decided it should probably just call it the Boeing 797 MAX.

Allegiant Q4 Financials Show $23.6 Million Loss

Allegiant Air posted its Q4 financials after the markets closed on Wednesday, and the Vegas-based airline lost $23.6 million for the final quarter of 2020 on revenues of just $246.6 million.

The Q4 revenue figure, despite being a 46.5% drop from Q4 2019, did show an increase from both Q2 and Q3 this past year, including an 85% increase from Q2 — when travel demand was at its lowest. Load factor for Allegiant in Q4 was 58.2%, also a positive trend from earlier in the year, leading the airline to hope that brighter days are ahead.

For the year-end 2020, Allegiant’s revenue fell 46% to $990 million. The revenue total, when combined with its expenses, show a loss of $281 million for the year, a whopping 177% drop from 2019’s profit of $364 million. Amazingly, the airline would have sustained much larger losses, but Allegiant CEO Maury Gallagher hit a jackpot playing a Quick Hit machine at McCarran International Airport on December 23 while waiting to bring Christmas gifts to Allegiant staff at its home airport. The $52,000 prize on the 50 cent machine went right to the airline’s bottom line, helping stave off some of Q4’s deficit.

Allegiant operated 81% of its capacity in 2020 compared to the prior year, the highest capacity figure in the country. The fact that Allegiant already operates many leisure routes that operate once-weekly or less helped it maintain much of its capacity as there wasn’t as much to cut. It ended the year with $685 million in liquid assets. Of that, $684,997,500 is cash and investments, and the remaining $2,500 is being held by the sportsbook at the South Point Casino in futures for the 2021 World Series.

Second Aircraft Drifts into Breeze’s Fleet

U.S.-based startup Breeze Airways took delivery of an Embraer 190 aircraft, the second plane in its fleet. The E-190 is the first of 15 it is leasing from Nordic Aviation Capital, with the airline’s launch later this year rapidly approaching. Breeze previously received an E-195 aircraft earlier this month from a different lessor.

Breeze plans to operate its fleet of E-190 airctaft with 108 seats with its big brother the E-195 having 118. The airline will offer an enhanced legroom product in about 40% of the aircraft. A Breeze spokesman said it also will offer wireless entertainment to passengers, in addition to tray tables, seat belts, armrests, and lavatories. Overhead compartments are expected to be on offer, but the airline would not confirm or deny.

Breeze plans to launch service with its E-190/195 aircraft in the coming months. The airline has not announced the destinations it plans to serve when it launches operations later this year, but it is planning to offer point-to-point service between secondary airports. Many airports that were originally interested in receiving service from the start-up have pulled out, being too proud to admit to being considered secondary.

Singapore Begins Operating Silk Air’s 737s

Singapore is preparing to operate its former subsidiary Silk Air’s fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft as soon as next month. Nine of Silk Air’s 737-800s have been repainted in Singapore’s livery and were refreshed to match Singapore’s branding inside the aircraft.

The nine aircraft Singapore is taking delivery of at first will have Silk’s 12 business class recliners in the front with 144 economy seats in the back. Singapore still plans to add the new lie-flat Vantage seats in business class for its new 737 MAX jets which Silk had previously planned. The installation is on hold while the airline awaits regulatory approval to resume operating its MAX aircraft.

The former Silk Air aircraft do not have internet on board, which is seen as a positive for many as it prevents passengers from sending ill-advised emails or texts after one too many Singapore Slings. SQ’s famous KrisWorld entertainment system is available on-board the former Silk aircraft, available to be streamed to personal devices brought on-board the aircraft. The system, however, cannot stream to the device you left in your hotel room and will never see again.

Airline Potpourri

  • Air Belgium plans to open a new cargo hub in Liège (LGG) by the end of the year.
  • Allegiant is opening a base in Des Moines, Iowa (DSM), where it will house two A320s and add 66 jobs to the local economy. The new base from Allegiant once again proves the old adage in Iowa, that if you build it, Allegiant will come.
  • flydubai is launching 3x-weekly service to Minsk, beginning February 20.
  • Kenya Airways will become the first airline to repurpose an existing passenger Boeing 787 for cargo operations. The airline has assured regulators it will ensure all passengers are off the aircraft before beginning the transition.
  • Moov Airways expects to take delivery of its first two turboprops in late 2022.
  • Qantas currently plans to resume Project Sunrise — its proposed nonstops to both London and New York — by 2024.
  • Sunwing Airlines received access to up to C$375 in loans to help protect jobs. Consider it a friendlier, politer, more Canadian PPP.

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

Why shouldn’t you ever gamble while in the jungle? Because there are way too many cheetahs.