February 26, 2021

United Partners With Landline to Provide Bus Connections

Following in Sun Country’s footsteps, United Airlines has partnered with Landline to provide bus service for connections from Denver to Breckenridge 1x daily and Fort Collins 4x daily, as first reported by Airline Weekly. The buses will be sold as flights, similar to United’s current partner bus service between Allentown/Bethlehem and Newark.

As detailed in the press release, United passengers who arrive in Denver will go to an assigned gate on Concourse A where the bus will be waiting to take them to their final destination. Baggage will be transferred automatically, as with any regular domestic connection. For the return, travelers will be required to go through security in Denver.

The buses will be painted with the United logo, and Landline has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to ensure that the ride is COVID-safe. That includes electrostatic spraying, UV disinfection, required mask-wearing, sanitizing wipes, and reduced capacity. The buses will have wifi and streaming entertainment onboard, and travelers will earn miles in MileagePlus.

We understand this was to be announced much earlier, but it took United a long time to come to terms with the fact that the bus provides a better experience than the airplane for all but Basic Economy passengers, who will be put in the luggage hold.

San Francisco Delays Renovations to United Terminal

San Francisco International’s Terminal 3 — the home of United Airlines — was due for a $1 billion renovation, but it is going to have to wait longer. It now appears unlikely that it will happen until 2024 at the earliest.

The renovation was supposed to break ground last June but has been delayed multiple times. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the Board of Supervisors approved lease extensions through 2023 for several outlets that were not going to be a part of the renovated terminal. If the airport changes its mind, leases can be terminated with 6 months notice.

San Francisco has gone through several major improvement projects. The well-received International Terminal was opened in 2000. The old international terminal, now Terminal 2, was then rebuilt for Virgin America and American, opening in 2011. Terminal 1 is in the process of being rebuilt with several new gates having opened in the last couple years. That leaves only United’s Terminal 3 without a major investment.

In retaliation for the delay, United says it will bring back a fleet of Jetstream turboprops to flood the runways and cause delays for everyone until the work is done.

IAG Reports a Big Loss

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) — owner of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling — reported its full year 2020 results, and they were very, very bad.

IAG generated an operating loss before special items of €4.365 billion (~US$5.2 billion) on revenues of only €5.512 billion (~US $6.6 billion). That led to a dismal operating margin of -79.2%. Capacity was down 66.5% vs 2019, and passengers dropped 73.6%.

On the bright side… oh wait, there is no bright side. The subsidiary airlines did all race to see who could claim the crown of “Europe’s worst performer,” and there was a clear winner. Iberia wasn’t even trying with its operating margin of “only”-33.6%. British Airways was at -58.2% and Aer Lingus at -76.8%. Vueling took the crown with a whopping -108.5% margin.

Mesa Ends CRJ-700 Operations

Cargo carrier Mesa Airlines has exited its CRJ-700 fleet of aircraft as of earlier this month. It will now focus on exclusively flying human cargo on CRJ-900 aircraft for American and Embraer 175 aircraft for United, along with non-human cargo on 737s for DHL.

Mesa had 20 CRJ-700s in its fleet that were operated on behalf of United Airlines. As part of a restructuring of its agreement, Mesa agreed to lease those airplanes to GoJet, which will convert them into 50-seat CRJ-550 aircraft for United.

GoJet has quite the steep task ahead after inheriting a fleet of airplanes that has been flown only by Mesa for more than 15 years. A complete gutting, dousing with sanitizer, and burning of sage is the minimum being required to prepare the aircraft for future service.

Norwegian Reports Brutal Fourth Quarter Loss

Norwegian Air Shuttle reported fourth quarter numbers, and let’s just say that the airline is probably jealous of IAG.

Excluding special items, Norwegian had a Q4 pre-tax loss of NOK 882 million (~US$102 million) on revenues of only NOK 670 million (~US$77 million) for a margin of -131.6%. If you include special items, many of which are related to the airline’s bankruptcy filing, Norwegian posted a remarkable -2,477.6% margin. Move over, Vueling. There’s a new king in town.

Out of a fleet of 131 aircraft, only 15 operated. Even with that, the airline could only manage to fill slightly more than half its seats. Passenger numbers plunged by 92%. Despite all this, Norwegian says its bankruptcy restructuring is on track, and things are going swimmingly.

Airline Potpourri

  • Condor is getting creative just in time for spring break with new flights from Dusseldorf to Beirut in Lebanon and Sulaimaniyya in the Kurdistan Region.
  • JetBlue has taken delivery of its first A321neo with the newly-refreshed Mint business class onboard.
  • Qantas, Virgin Australia, and no other Australian airline operate the airplane, but the Aussies have decided the 737 MAX is safe to fly in the country again… if anyone cares to do so.
  • Surf Air is not a SPAC, but it’s still buying an electric aircraft company called Ampaire which specializes in converting non-electric aircraft to electric.
  • Tailwind is hoping to start flying seaplanes from Manhattan to Bridgeport in Connecticut this summer.
  • Transair Hawaii — always on the cutting edge — is finally graduating from the original 737 (-200s, which it will still operate) all the way to the classic version with its first 737-400, a 27.8 year old aircraft.

Dave’s Moment of Levity

What’s the body temperature of a Tauntaun? Luke Warm.