August 4, 2021

Spirit: When You Think it Can’t Get Any Worse…

Spirit’s operational meltdown has reached its fourth day, and amazingly, not only is it not getting better, it’s getting worse.

The airline canceled 306 flights – 45% of its schedule before 7 a.m. Eastern this morning with the number of cancellations creeping towards 400 by noon. This is one day after the airline cancelled an astonishing 61% of its schedule and delayed another 19%, meaning just 20% of its schedule operated on-time.

It appears Spirit is firmly in the rare doom spiral when almost nothing can help short of shutting down and resetting the airline. It’s even worse thanks to customers revolting in terrifying ways. How bad is it? Well, it seems some staff in San Juan were hiding after travelers began rioting, according to some reports.

It’s bad for passengers, but just imagine being a frontline employee working for Spirit with no ability to help at all. Whenever they get those airplanes flying again, they’ll need to fill an A321 up a third with therapists, a third with Zoloft, and a third with BuzzBallz because this experience will not be forgotten easily.

Home is Where the Best Deal from Local Tax Authorities Is: JetBlue Stays in NYC

JetBlue Airways announced its intention to keep its headquarters in New York and move forward with an expansion of its home at JFK’s Terminal 6 after coming to terms with the city and mayor, New York senator Chuck Schumer, and New York governor (for now) Andrew Cuomo.

JetBlue’s current lease in Long Island City ends in 2023, and the airline flirted with moving its HQ and the hundreds of jobs that come with it to South Florida. The city and state government, led by Senator Schumer, were vocal that the airline – and its jobs – stay in New York beyond 2023 when its lease expired.

The airline is also going ahead with its plan to renovate its home in Terminal 6 at JFK, also a top priority for Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority. The project is slated to cost nearly $4 billion and will be primarily privately financed. Groundbreaking is expected next year with opening scheduled for 2025. The Port Authority is said to be focused on the terminal expansion and renovation as its second top priority after it fixes the price of beer and fries at LaGuardia. The rats over there have a lot of political sway, and the high prices mean fewer leftovers for them to get out of the trash.

The airline says it plans to add jobs at its Queens headquarters on top of the 1,300 that work there now. It also expects to add hundreds of jobs at its three NYC-area airports to coincide with increased flying from its Northeast Alliance with American.

Air France Grows in North America

Air France is adding two new routes from the Caribbean this winter, but they won’t fly where you might first think. The airline is adding service from its mini hub at Guadeloupe (PTP) in the Lesser Antilles to both New York/JFK and Montreal. Both routes will operate twice weekly with afternoon flights departing northbound and a southbound return the next morning.

The airline won’t be alone in operating these two routes. The PTP-JFK route was operated by Norwegian for several years beginning in 2015 but was presumably stopped during one of the airline’s dozens of bankruptcies. JetBlue began flying the route in early 2020 but stopped at the beginning of the pandemic. It plans to resume the route this November. Both Air Canada and Air Transat will offer service on the YUL-PTP route this winter, giving AF two competitors on the city pair.

In other news, Air France is adding daily flights beginning on October 31 from Paris/Orly to both Berlin and Munich for Wheneverfest aficionados. It’s also adding twice-weekly winter service from CDG to Tenerife (TFN) in the Canary Islands and twice-weekly winter service beginning December 4 to Rovaniemi, Finland (RVN) for those who want to go visit Santa and/or freeze to death.

Emerald Airlines Signs on as Aer Lingus’s New Regional Partner

Emerald Airlines signed with Aer Lingus to enter into a franchise agreement effective January 1, 2023. The agreement is for Emerald to operate Aer Lingus regional flights for ten years, through the end of 2032. Aer Lingus chose Emerald because Leprechaun Airlines, Guinness Airlines, and South Bend Aviation failed to proffer a bid.

Emerald will operate ATR turboprop aircraft on the regional flights. It will fly between Ireland, regional airports in the UK, the Isle of Man, and Jersey (the old one, not the new one). Emerald has recently taken delivery of two planes and is in negotiations for four more. It expects to have a fleet of 14 by the time the contract begins.

Aer Lingus has been looking for a new regional partner since Stobart Air went out of business earlier this year. Stobart’s contract with Aer Lingus would have expired at the end of 2022. BA CityFlyer stepped in this summer when Stobart ceased flying and will continue to do so for the next 16 months because it beats the alternative of furloughing everyone.

EU Adds Travel Fee for Health Screening

The EU agreed to levy an $11 fee on non-EU citizens traveling to the Schengen area from countries that are exempt from visa requirements. The charge is for a health and security check that is expected to be operational by the end of next year.

The new fee will come with an online screening form for travelers to fill out prior to travel. It will aim to identify health risks posed by travelers in addition to ensuring that they feel confident and secure about their decision to travel with a special pamphlet entitled “So you wanna visit Europe?”

The fee and screening system had been first proposed in 2016 but was held up, along with everything else in Europe, by Brexit. With the UK firmly out of the EU and never coming back, the bloc has returned its attention back to the fee. The UK is in discussions about launching its own screening system but nothing it proposes will come into being until 2024 at the earliest.

Visitors subject to the authorization will only have to fill the form out once every three years. Authorizations will also be valid for multiple entries into the EU.

  • Air Tanzania is asking the Tanzanian government for assistance in revamping its fleet and clearing some of its debt off the books.
  • American is splitting its operation at London/Heathrow between both T3 and T5. JFK flights will operate from T5 with all other destinations operating from T3 except for those which don’t operate which will just park on the ramp on the other side of the airport.
  • British Airways extended its contract with Lufthansa Technik in Manila to serve as a maintenance base for its 12 A380 aircraft.
  • Connect Airlines connected with Chorus Aviation to lease Dash 8-400 aircraft with an expected delivery date this fall.
  • Contour Airlines announced three new regional routes out of Indianapolis to Nashville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh.
  • Delta is considering making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for employees when the FDA gives the shot full approval.  It’s planning an incentive of 100,000 SkyMiles to each fully-vaccinated employee which should be about halfway to a one-way reward in coach.
  • GlobalX received its AOC from the FAA giving it the A-OK to begin passenger operations.
  • GOL announced its agreement for 28 additional B737-8 MAX aircraft. Delivery is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
  • Mango’s business rescue case in South African bankruptcy court was postponed until Friday.
  • TUI is pulling an anti-Lufthansa and consolidating the five airlines under its brand into one entity.
  • Turkish put tickets on sale for its new route to Dallas/Ft. Worth.
  • United took delivery of the first of 13 B737 MAX 8 from its sale and leaseback with CDB Aviation.

There’s a 95-year old man on my street and I asked him “After 75 years or marriage, you still call your wife ‘honey,’ ‘sweetheart,’ ‘darling,’ or ‘love.’ What’s your secret?

He said: “Goodness, I forgot her name 10 years ago, this is the best I can do.”