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.”

April 14, 2021

American’s Aggressive Summer Schedule

American Airlines will operate more than 150 new routes this summer, with the airline flying more than 90% of its domestic capacity and 80% of its international capacity compared to summer 2019. It expects some of the flights to operate on-time, and it is rumored that some of the international flights may actually have passengers.

Highlights of the new schedule additions include a daily nonstop between Raleigh-Durham and Nashville along with two new flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Bangor, ME (BGR) and Burlington, VT (BTV).  Because nothing shouts “highlight” like Bangor, Maine.

Another example of “highlight” needing to be in quotes is Orlando, which leads the way with eight new Saturday-only non-hub routes beginning June 5. If you live in a medium-sized city in the midwest, or near the midwest, you can safely assume you’ll be getting a flight.

Miami will also see an upgrade to the west coast, JFK, and to six destinations in South America, with widebodies for all. American will put its 787 Dreamliner aircraft on daily flights to Cali (CLO), Guayaquil (GYE), Lima (LIM), Medellin (MDE), Port-au-Prince (PAP) and Quito (UIO), all of which seem slightly better than just parking the airplanes in the desert.

JetBlue and AA Northeast Alliance Undergoes Further Scrutiny

The proposed Northeast Alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways will undergo a more detailed examination from the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in the coming weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) signed off on the deal earlier this year, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not weighed in. With a new Biden Administration likely to be tougher than the previous regime, the DOJ is now taking a closer look. It has not helped that several airlines – led by Spirit – have objected to the partnership based on anticompetitive actions taken by the two airlines primarily at three northeast airports: New York/JFK, New York/LaGuardia, and Washington/National.

The DOJ is expected to investigate Spirit’s formally-filed objections that coordination in the northeast could lead to higher prices for consumers. Spirit wants nothing to do with higher ticket prices; it wants American and JetBlue to stuff their high prices into nonsensical fees like a real airline does it.

Really what Spirit wants — along with United — is for American and JetBlue to divest themselves of slots at all three airports so they can get their hands on them instead.

Southwest Devalues Rapid Rewards

A rapid change in the value of Rapid Rewards points came overnight, with Southwest making all point redemptions 6% more expensive while simultaneously annoying countless loyal travelers and credit card mileage schemers.

The airline took a page out of the Delta SkyMiles playbook, enhancing the price of rewards with no warning to its customers. Existing bookings are still valid at the previous price, but any changes to those itineraries will be repriced at the new redemption levels.

Previously, Wanna Get Away fares cost between 76-78 points per dollar, with Anytime and Business Select consistently at 78 points per dollar. With the update the airline made overnight, redemptions will now cost 83 points per dollar – a valuation of ~1.2 cents per point.

The change did not appear to affect cash fares. This is the first enhancement of Rapid Reward redemption rates (RRRR) since 2018 when the airline made a similar 6% devaluation. The change likely is correlated to the glut of Rapid Rewards points in the market. With earning rates staying steady, especially with those who earn points via credit card purchases, but travel being way down in 2020, this change help Southwest clear more points off its balance sheet.

Oh Canada: True North Strong and Free: Except for the Caribbean

Air Canada is extending its suspension of flights to most “sun destinations” through the end of May, matching announcements from its fellow Canadian airlines.

Canada’s four largest airlines — Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, and WestJet — agreed earlier this year to stop flying to most sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico through April 30 at the request of the Canadian government. All four are extending their suspensions beyond that deadline. In addition to Air Canada’s holding off through May, WestJet will not resume flying to the Caribbean until June 4, Air Transat is holding off until June 14, and Sunwing will pick things back up on June 23.

The Canadian government’s border is still closed to Americans and other foreign, non-essential visitors. While Canadian residents can return following international travel to any destinations including Mexico and the Caribbean, the federal government is strongly discouraging leisure and non-essential travel.

Air Canada will continue to operate cargo-only flights to three destinations – Mexico City, Barbados, and Kingston, Jamaica. In rare instances, it will fly some passengers on the return portion of those cargo flights – back to Canada – to repatriate those Canadians who either need to hitch a ride back home or those Latin/Caribbean residents who exhibit superior ice hockey and/or bobsledding skills.

Norwegian CEO Says Norwegian Needs More Money

Norwegian Air Shuttle, the Babe Ruth of bankruptcy filings, needs more money if its to continue filing for bankruptcy flying, according to its CEO.

The airline has recently received approval for its restructuring plan from bankruptcy courts in both Oslo and Dublin — or as it’s known in airline circles, the Deep in Debt Double — allowing it to cut its debt obligations by converting them to stock. But both courts agreed to debt-cutting provision on the condition that the airline raise 4.5 billion crowns (~$207 million) on its own.

The airline duped the Norwegian government received a cash infusion from the Norwegian government to cover the first 1.5 billion crowns, but it needs to raise the remaining three billion crowns (approximately $133 million). That process will require Norwegian to find rich investors who love the airline industry and have no good use for material possessions or money.

  • Air France’s cargo flights to and from Brazil will continue, but all other flights between the two nations have been suspended indefinitely by the French government.
  • Air Tunilik, a Canadian seaplane operator has received C$5 million in aid from Québec. It had to promise to only speak French, and not to speak English, to any potential customers in exchange for the cash.
  • Alaska was so impressed by United’s plan to convert trash to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) yesterday, that it announced its own plan today. You might want to click the link, print the release and leave it by the toilet for quality reading material later on.
  • Avianca says it will fly again, but it will need to right-size its airline, planning to emerge from bankruptcy with fewer aircraft and fewer employees.
  • China Southern is reviewing the future of the A380 in its fleet. The airline is also reportedly reviewing the number of sticky pads and ballpoint pens in its supply closet.
  • FlyArystan is beginning its first international service into Georgia (this one, not this one), flying to three cities beginning May 2.
  • Jazeera Airways’s board of directors has recommended the airline increase its cash on-hand via a capital increase. My online banking app tells me the same thing every time I log on.
  • Norse Atlantic Airways, the airline being started by three guys named Bjørn, has fooled investors into raising $165 million for the airline’s IPO.
  • PLAY, a fun-focused Icelandic startup airline has raise $35 million in play money real money through a private share offerings.
  • Qantas intends to return its entire A380 fleet to active operations but not until 2024. Stay tuned to Cranky Daily for updates on this story as it unfolds over the next four years.
  • Red Wings Airlines is launching a new base at Chelyabinsk (CEK).
  • Royal Air Maroc has suspended flights to 17 countries through May 21 because of Morocco closing its borders due to a new wave of COVID infections.
  • Ryanair realized it hadn’t sued anyone lately, so its taking the EU to court over Finnish, Danish, and Swedish aid favoring Finnair and SAS.
  • Smartwings has resumed flying between its Prague hub and St. Petersburg/Pulkovo (LED).
  • Southwest operated its inaugural flight to Santa Barbara yesterday, a nonstop flight from Las Vegas. The inaugural wasn’t supposed to operate until this weekend, but Santa Barbara Airport Administration purchased Early Bird.

I saw a porcupine try and race a squirrel today, and it lost the race badly. It really was a slowpoke.

March 8, 2021

AA LeverAAges AAdvantage to RAAise $7.5 Billion

American Airlines is using its AAdvantage program as collateral to raise funds in order to lower borrowing costs and pay back a $7.5 billion loan from the federal government.

On September 25 of last year the airline entered into an agreement with the Treasury for a $5 billion loan that then grew to $7.5 billion in October. The loan is due and payable back to the government on June 30, 2025 which really isn’t that far away. Some AA passengers currently on the taxiway at JFK might still be awaiting their takeoff slot by the time the loan comes due.

The airline created a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, American Loyalty, LP, which will refinance the loan using the AAdvantage program as collateral in order to reduce borrowing costs and pay back the government. The newly-formed company will:

  • Offer $2.5 billion in senior secured notes due in 2026                                                                       
  • Offer $2.5 billion in senior secured notes due in 2029
  • Take out a $2.5 billion senior secured term loan credit facility
  • Use the cash raised from the above methods to lend back to AA to pay back us, the taxpayers, and the federal government.
  • Enjoy all the Cayman Islands has to offer including beaches and nightlife
  • Bring some water to those poor people stuck on the JFK taxiway for four years

We thank you for enjoying today’s Cranky Daily MBA minute and now return you to the aviation-themed portion of our program.

GE to Combine Aircraft Leasing Division with AerCap

General Electric is nearing completion on a $30 billion – billion with a b – deal with AerCap Holdings of Ireland to combine their aircraft leasing businesses in one monstrous deal that would rock the leasing industry.

The unit of GE, better known as GE Capital Aviation Services, or GECAS, is the largest remaining part of GE Capital. GE Capital is the former lending division of GE which rivaled many U.S. banks at its peak but nearly ended the company during the 2008 financial crisis.

Despite the downturn in the industry, aircraft leasing companies have been well-received by investors in the last year after raising a combined $14.9 billion in 2020. GECAS has over 1,600 aircraft owned or on-order making it the one of the largest jet-leasing company in the world, along with AerCap and Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corp. Its joining with AerCap will create a dominant position in the market for the combined entity.

After hearing news of the deal, several airlines, led by Spirit in the U.S. and Ryanair in Ireland filed lawsuits and challenges to the new combined entity. Spirit insisted the new leasing company divest of itself of slots at BOS, LGA, and JFK despite insistence from the DOT that this was a leasing company and not an airline. Ryanair joined Spirit in its suit and filed its own in Europe. It gave no reason for the suit other than saying that filing lawsuits is what they do best.

Sun Country Goes Public

Sun Country Airlines announced the launch of its IPO today, offering 9,090,909 shares of public stock priced between $21 and $23 per share. The shares will trade under the airline’s ticket symbol SNCY.

The airline plans to raise between $190 and $210 million from the IPO along with thousands of amateur airline experts who will now feel justified in telling its leadership team what to do.

Barclays, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank Securities are acting as joint lead bookrunners for the offering, with Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Nomura are acting as joint bookrunners.  Apollo Global Securities, AmeriVet Securities, Siebert Williams Shank and Tribal Capital Markets, LLC are acting as co-managers and will receive a BOGO coupon for an on-board cocktail for their efforts.

Southwest Jumps the Shark

Once upon a time, Southwest was a swashbuckling upstart with a Texas accent trying to challenge the big boys with a targeted route network. Today’s announcement of three new cities for the airline shows that it has just about run out of places to add to its network with the bustling metropolises of Bellingham, WA; Eugene, OR; and Myrtle Beach, SC now joining the party.

The airline plans to start Myrtle Beach (MYR) first, in the first half of 2021 in order to cater to summer travelers who for some unknown reason can’t find anything better than to travel to the Grand Strand.

The new northwest destinations being added by the airline will enter service in the second half of 2021. Bellingham (BLI) is often used a low-cost alternative for travelers both in Seattle and Vancouver. The airport is located just 23 miles from the Canadian border and is only 54 miles from downtown Vancouver. The town of Bellingham even boasts more Canadian flags per capita than any other American city. Two-thirds of travelers who use BLI come from Canada, and the airport is banking on those travelers returning once the border is reopened.

Eugene (EUG) is located two hours south of Portland and serves as an alternative airport for those heading to Oregon’s coast or to visit their kids at the University of Oregon. Or something.

The airline has not yet announced exact dates service will begin at any of the three airports or what cities will be connected but presumably will let someone know before it begins flying the new routes.

Lufthansa Announces Expanded Rail Reach

Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany’s national rail carrier, announced an expansion of their partnership adding five new cities to their air-rail partnership. The pair also will introduce “Sprinter Trains,” trains that passengers must sprint 100 meters in under 12 seconds to be permitted to board extra-fast high-speed trains that will operate for the first time to Frankfurt Airport, cutting up to 90 minutes off some journeys.

The expanded partnership will strengthen Lufthansa’s domestic operation, adding train service from Frankfurt to Hamburg and Munich (beginning in July) and Frankfurt to Berlin, Bremen, and Münster (beginning in December). Lufthansa currently offers 134 daily trains exclusive for its air passengers to 17 German cities via its DB partnership.

In addition to offering additional connectivity, the airline also needs to appease German environmentalists who are pushing for the airline to end domestic flights and replace them all with rail service. The addition of new cities and trains hopefully helps the airline earn political points while also adding efficient service for its passengers.

Airline Potpourri

  • Advanced Air had its EAS contract extended to serve Silver City, NM (SVC) for another two years.
  • Aeroflot is launching once-weekly service from Moscow to Mahé, Seychelles (SEZ).
  • Air India plans to retire its final B747 later this month.
  • Etihad is extending its offer of COVID insurance for fliers through September 30. The program was originally supposed to end on March 31.
  • Eurowings will add a new base in Berlin this April.
  • Lufthansa plans to launch its new business class – with every seat having direct aisle access – in 2023.
  • JetSMART is adding frequencies from its base in at Buenos Aires/Aeroparque (AEP), launching 10x-weekly service to Córdoba (COR).
  • Neos, the Italian leisure airline filed a request with the DOT to begin flying to the U.S. and now an eager nation awaits to find out what cities plans to operate to.
  • Norwegian continues the dismantling of anything its ever built, as it received court approval to terminate the leases on 25 aircraft it still has in its possession.
  • Singapore operated flight SQ736 from Singapore to Phuket last week on a B737-800, the first narrow body flight for the airline in over 40 years.

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

My neighbor told me I was a bad parent because I feed my kids frozen pizza every night. And I was super offended because I obviously cook it first.

March 3, 2021

Delta to Drop Three Focus Cities

Delta Air Lines plans to drop three of the five focus cities it operated prior to the pandemic, leaving the airline with just two focus cities to go along with the nine cities it lists as domestic hubs. On the chopping block as focus cities are Cincinnati, Nashville, and San Jose. If you didn’t realize all those still were — or in the case of San Jose, ever were — focus cities, you are not alone.

Cincinnati is the most notable of the group as it was a major Delta hub dating back to the ’90s, but it has seen its importance in Delta’s route network shrink considerably since the airline merged with Northwest more than ten years ago. As recently as 2019, Cincinnati still had flights on Delta to 24 non-hubs, while Nashville and San Jose had a combined four.

The two cities maintaining their status are Austin and Raleigh-Durham. Both are cities where Delta will face competition to strengthen its presence with JetBlue growing seven new routes at RDU and AUS seeing additional service from four airlines: Alaska, Allegiant, Hawaiian, and JetBlue.

Frontier Avoided Disaster in Nashville

A Frontier Airlines flight departing Nashville last month avoided potential catastrophe when a flight attendant questioned the haphazard deicing job performed by a third-party contractor moments before takeoff.

The company performed its deicing procedure on the aircraft and declared it ready-to-go, and the aircraft began to taxi towards the runway for departure. As the aircraft taxied, a flight attendant noticed that the wings were still covered in snow, ice, and deicing fluid and immediately called the flight deck.

The pilot returned the aircraft to the gate, avoiding what could have quite possibly been a catastrophic incident had the plane tried to take off in that condition. Reports say the deicing company was running low on deicing fluid and instead of letting Frontier know, it decided to not fully deice the wing and hope no one would notice. Unsurprisingly, Frontier has moved on from using this contractor. Words simply fail us here.

Boeing Tells EU That Airbus’s New Plane is Unsafe

Boeing is throwing a wrench into Airbus’s plans for the A321XLR, telling the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that it has safety concerns with the new plane that has garnered hundreds of orders for billions of dollars for its chief competitor. No really, it totally, seriously has safety concerns that have nothing to do with wanting to mess up the billions in orders Airbus already has on the aircraft.

The A321XLR is the longest-range narrow body plane in the world. The aircraft is supposed to come off the assembly line in 2023 to enter passenger service, and it has been extremely popular with airlines with hundreds already having been ordered.

In its filing, Boeing’s director of global regulatory strategy said that “fuel tanks integral to the airframe structure inherently provide less redundancy than structurally separate fuel tanks.” Basically he’s implying that the insulation panels between the cabin and extra fuel tanks – which will be located underneath the floor of the passenger cabin – are not safe enough.

The regulatory agency is willing to humor Boeing by asking Airbus to prove through tests that the extra fuel tanks are as safe as it claims. The issue is that there is a risk of fire via heat transfer in the passenger cabin, and as a general rule of thumb, raging infernos on an airplane are usually not a good thing. EASA is taking the concerns from Boeing seriously because it knows that if any aircraft manufacturer knows about unsafe planes, it’s Boeing.

Japan Considering Banning Overseas Spectators for Olympics

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming in just four months, Tokyo and Japanese officials are exploring all options to still stage the games this year, one year later than originally planned.

Japan currently has a travel ban in place and is considering keeping the ban active through the Olympics and Paralympics this summer along with limiting the number of fans that can attend. The government is expected to make an official announcement later this month around the start of the Olympic Torch Relay, which begins March 25.

One proposal from the Japanese government is to ban travelers — including athletes — from any country in the top 25 of all-time Summer Olympic medals to give the host country a better chance at securing as many medals as possible. Russia was the first to blast that idea, but also patted Japan on the back for such a brilliant, devious plan and wondered why it hadn’t done the same in Sochi back in 2014.

EASA to Require Windshield Checks on Airbus Aircraft

The European Safety Agency for Aviation (EASA) issued a directive requiring all EU operators to carry out a check on windshields installed on Airbus A318, A319, A320, and A321 aircraft. The ordered surprised Air France, which didn’t realize it even still had A318s in the fleet.

The directive comes following the conclusion of the investigation into Sichuan Airlines Flight 8633 from May 2018 that saw the right windshield break away during flight. While many pilots have reached the age in which a mid-life crisis leading to a convertible purchase is within reason, the feeling of the wind flowing as you drive is not nearly as relaxing 30,000 feet up.

The French newspaper La Depeche described the cause of the incident as a faulty rubber joint that allowed water vapor into the windshield eventually leading to cracks. The cracks eventually created a pressure differential that gave in and the windshield exploded. There’s a joke in there about pressure in the cracks leading to an explosion but its just too easy.

Airline Potpourri

  • American and United have both received doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Chicago Department of Health to vaccinate frontline workers at their Chicago/O’Hare hub.
  • Austrian Airways retired its first 767 this week after the plane flew 15 years for the airline. It’s en route to Bangor where it will clear customs before heading to Arizona to the great airplane hangar in the sky.
  • British Airways was not willing to call the government of Ghana’s bluff and agreed to keep its daily flight to Accra (ACC) operating out of London/Heathrow. The airline had planned to move the flight to Gatwick, a move that the Ghanaian government planned to match by moving BA out of Accra to a “less-favorable” Ghanaian airport.
  • Delta is bringing the 1,700 remaining pilots that are currently inactive back to work later this month.
  • Ryanair has joined the Fueling Flight Initiative to support the implementation of Sustainable Aviation Fuels. It plans to resume its regular schedule of lawsuits as soon as the ink is dry on this announcement.
  • Surinam Airways managed to offload its only leased B777 jet and will operate its one long-haul route to Amsterdam via a wet-leased Air Belgium aircraft.

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

What’s the oldest someone can be and still get a circumcision? I just want to know the cutoff date.

February 24, 2021

FAA Requiring B777 Pratt & Whitney Engine Inspections

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that requires stepped up inspections of all PW4000-series engines that power Boeing 777 aircraft after the apparent fan blade failure on United flight 328 over the weekend. The impacted B777s will remain grounded until the inspections are completed.

Airlines will be required to use thermal acoustic imaging to inspect fan blades for metal fatigue before they are allowed to put the airplanes back into service. (Thermal Acoustic Imaging, by the way, was the name of our favorite band in high school.) It is unclear how long this process might take to complete.

The PW4000 engines were not a popular option on the B777, and the only current operators are ANA, Asiana, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Korean’s subsidiary Jin Air, and United Airlines. United also has a substantial fleet of B777s powered by GE engines, so only a portion of its fleet will be grounded.

United says very few passengers will be impacted, but those that are will be rebooked and given two tickets to Thermal Acoustic Imaging’s next show.

Breeze is Declared Fit to Fly By DOT

Start-up Breeze Aviation Group, Inc. has proven that navigating the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) start-up process is… a breeze. The airline has been found to be “fit, willing, and able” to fly up to 22 airplanes by the Department. There will be a 14-day objection period before the order is made final.

The DOT appears to have been in a hurry, making several mistakes in the show-cause order. For example, instead of Lukas Johnson being listed as Chief Commercial Officer, he is shown as Chief Operating Officer, as is Tom Anderson. We are assuming that this is a typo, and they are not being forced to battle to the death for this important position as a new strength requirement for receiving DOT sign-off.

Breeze has already taken delivery of its first Embraer aircraft, and it will operate those on point-to-point routes in the eastern US before it starts taking delivery of Airbus A220s. It can’t start flying yet, however. Despite receiving DOT approval, it still needs to acquire its Air Carrier Certificate and Operations Specifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Spirit Makes a Move on Milwaukee

Yesterday, it was Louisville that won the jackpot. Today, it’s Milwaukee — which as well all know is Algonquin for “the good land” — that will start seeing those bright yellow Spirit airplanes at its gates.

Spirit will launch daily flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Orlando beginning June 24, nearly a month after the same cities receive flights from Louisville. This will be the first nonstop to Los Angeles from Milwaukee since Southwest suspended its Saturday-only service at the onset of the pandemic. Both Southwest and Frontier currently serve the Milwaukee to Las Vegas and Orlando markets.

To celebrate, Spirit will begin selling cheese curds as part of its buy-on-board program. To prevent panic, all travelers departing Milwaukee will be charged a $4.99 “curd notification fee” so that materials can be distributed informing travelers that any squeaking onboard is from the curds and not from questionable maintenance.

Audit Shows Mexico City Airport Losses Over $16 Billion

Mexico City’s new airport was a third complete when the country elected new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to office. One of his promises was to scrap the airport project despite the projected cost of $5 billion to do so. He kept his promise, but the cost — as I’m sure will be a shock to everyone — was far higher.

According to the Federal Auditor’s Office — which is naturally being denied by the president — halting the new airport’s construction is going to cost the country just over US$16 billion, or 232% higher than predicted. That’s about 325 billion Mexican pesos or, if you like really big numbers, more than 672 trillion Iranian rials.

Instead of creating a single, new hub to serve the capital city, a new plan was put into place to keep the current airport operating while building up nearby Toluca and Santa Lucía Air Force base into larger commercial operations as well. Aeroméxico was asked for comment but simply replied with 💸🤷.

Contour Denied Switch to Sacramento

Regional carrier Contour Airlines was denied a request by the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority in California to move its essential service from Crescent City Airport (CEC) in extreme northwest California from Oakland to Sacramento. Contour currently operates once-daily service between CEC and Oakland.

The airline wanted to swap its Oakland flight with Sacramento to take advantage of its recent interline agreement with American Airlines since American no longer flies to Oakland. You might think having connectivity throughout the American Airlines network would be appealing, but apparently a community poll stated a higher preference for Oakland over Sacramento by the decisive margin of 25.5% to 22.8%.

In other news, Crescent City has decided to begin paving streets with cotton candy and implement a 2 day workweek, because 31.2% of those polled thought it would be a good idea while only 29.6% thought it was a bad idea. And as we know, polls always know what’s best.

Airline Potpourri

  • Air France has a new safety video out and if you love the French, you’ll love this. If you don’t, you’ll probably just be surprised at how much time is spent talking about cigarettes.
  • Air Seychelles won’t have to pay Etihad anything this year as it works to extract itself from Etihad’s failed partner strategy. It is negotiating to become 100% locally-owned.
  • Brussels Airlines has released its summer plans, and service to New York and Washington/Dulles will resume on June 14 for the first time since the pandemic began.
  • Jet Airways continues to lurch closer to a restart in the back half of this year.
  • KLM has received its first of 25 firm orders for the Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. To celebrate, it appears to have found the thinnest seats on Earth.
  • Lufthansa and Embraer have now both confirmed they are in talks over a new aircraft order.
  • Norwegian has come to an agreement with Airbus that will see the airline not take delivery of its remaining 88 airplanes on order in exchange for letting Airbus keep the pre-delivery deposits plus an additional $850,000 and 3 tons of surströmming.

Beth’s Moment of Levity

Last night, I dreamed I was swimming in an ocean of orange soda, but it was just a Fanta sea.

February 23, 2021

Oops, Our Bad: Yesterday’s Cranky Daily reported that approximately 913,000 travelers passed through TSA checkpoints in the last week. That figure was the daily average over the previous seven days — not a total number. We apologize for the confusion, especially if you flew last week and wanted to ensure you had been counted.

American Takes a New Basic Economy Variant Global, Tweaks Bag Rules

American Airlines is simplifying its checked bag policies on most international itineraries, but — similar to a coronavirus — American has also evolved Basic Economy into a third variant which is now spreading throughout the Pacific with cases in India and Israel as well.

Effective today, all Premium Economy tickets will include two checked bags, consistent with AA’s premium cabin offerings, regardless of the route. This applies to routes and aircraft that have the Premium Economy offering, not the Main Cabin Extra’s ripoff extra legroom option. Previously, this was limited to one bag on certain routes, so this is good news.

Basic Economy travelers, however, are facing a more complicated situation. Today, American has Basic Economy within North America where no checked bag is included, the tickets cannot be changed, and boarding is in group 9. It also has Basic Economy in South America and Europe where no checked bag is included, the ticket can be changed for a fee, and boarding is in group 8. Now, the airline is introducing a new version for the rest of world.

In Asia (including India and Israel), Australia, and New Zealand, Basic Economy will now include one checked bag, the ticket can be changed for a fee, and boarding is in group 8. Everyone clear? If so, then American will have to go back to the drawing board to confuse you more.

Metal Fatigue Likely Led to UA328 Issues

Damage to the fan blade on the failed engine that led to the dramatic landing of United Flight 328 on Saturday is consistent with metal fatigue according to the guy who had engine parts land in his yard a preliminary assessment from the NTSB.

The PW4000 engine was heard to have made a “loud bang” four minutes after takeoff. That’s not unusual for United flights, but usually the bang comes from passengers realizing shortly after takeoff that they’re stuck on a United flight for the foreseeable future.

The engine that failed was a PW4000 that is currently installed on 128 B777 aircraft worldwide, representing less than 10% of the worldwide B777 fleet.  The specific engine from the incident has been flown (how ironic) to a Pratt laboratory where it will be examined by P&W’s experts along with NTSB investigators.

The FAA currently requires fan blades to be inspected every 6,500 cycles, a figure that has been the standard since March 2019. South Korea updated its requirement to inspect fan blades every 1,000 cycles following Saturday’s incident. When asked if it would make a similar update to its inspection policy to follow its southern neighbor, North Korea’s aviation ministry replied with “what’s a fan blade?”

Canada/U.S. Border Closing to Celebrate First Birthday

Officials from both the United States and Canada plan to present the border with a smash cake on March 20 as it celebrates its first anniversary of being closed to travel on either side. The cake will be maple syrup flavored on the Canadian side and have a tart apple pie filling on the U.S. side of the dessert.

The anniversary became a reality when both countries agreed to extend the border closing yet again, this time through March 21. The border was closed for the first time on March 20, 2020, and the closure has been extended a month at a time since, with few exceptions for essential travel.

The Canadian government is allowing very few exceptions to the policy, forcing the three in-season professional sports leagues to alter their plans. The NHL created an all-Canadian division for its seven Canada-based teams to compete exclusively amongst themselves. The NBA’s Toronto Raptors made decision to spend their winter playing home games in Tampa, while MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays will play at least the first six weeks of the 2021 season in their Spring Training home of Dunedin, Florida.

Bourbon, Churchill Downs, Muhammad Ali and Now: Spirit

Spirit Airlines is adding a new city to its route map, announcing today that it will begin serving Louisville (SDF) in late May with flights to four destinations.

Spirit will begin flying from Louisville to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The flight to LA will be the only nonstop between Louisville and LAX since American suspended its service during at the onset of the pandemic.

All four destinations will launch on the same day – May 27. All four will operate once-daily in each direction. In addition to the only nonstop between Louisville and Los Angeles; Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Vegas represent three of the largest cities in Spirit’s network and will provide connections beyond for those risk-takers willing to book a connection on Spirit.

Spirit also announced two new fees it would introduce to celebrate its new service to Louisville. Any passengers flying on Sprit with the first name Louis will be assessed an $11.99 first name fee. Additionally, anyone on a Spirit flight to a city that ends in “ville” will see a $6.99 fee added to their final price. Spirit welcomes these new fees as a celebration of Louisville and all it has to offer.

Alitalia Looks to Lufthansa as Latest Savior

Italy’s new government is looking for a solution to an old problem – what in the heck to do with Alitalia. The Italian flag carrier is bankrupt once again, with the government considering a capital injection from Star Alliance carrier Lufthansa.

Alitalia, is currently the red-headed stepchild member of Skyteam, but rumors of it leaving the alliance since this most recent bankruptcy have been lurking for quite some time. The airline is currently pursuing a sale of all of its assets to the Italian government which would then flip them to Lufthansa, according to Italian publication La Repubblica. Reports from Frankfurt say that with the worst of winter having passed, Lufthansa no longer needs to literally burn its cash reserves in order to produce heat, making investing in Alitalia the next best alternative for burning its money.

The plan would be three-pronged: place Alitalia under the control of its low-cost subsidiary Alitalia CityLiner, followed by the Italian government taking control of CityLiner – retaining a total of 70 aircraft and about 5,500 employees, then for Lufthansa to enter the company via a capital increase.

Alitalia would leave Skyteam at some point in the process and likely move to Star Alliance. When asked about the possibility of losing Alitalia, Skyteam officials from both Delta and Air France/KLM issued a statement saying “no, please don’t go. Seriously, please don’t. But if you must, we’ve packed up your cubicle for you and all your stuff is here in this box. We also called a car to take you over to Lufthansa. It’s waiting outside. But seriously, don’t go.”

Airline Potpourri

  • AirAsia plans to resume all domestic routes within Thailand by April.
  • Edelweiss is considering removing its four A330s from its long-haul fleet and maintaining an exclusive fleet of A340s for long-distance flying, because 4 engines usually equates to success these days.
  • Gulf Air’s newest destination will be Singapore, with the airline launching one weekly flight from its Bahrain hub in April.
  • Mesa signed a letter of intent to lease an additional B737-400F cargo aircraft to operate on behalf of DHL. The deal was official when UPS delivered a copy of the executed contract to both parties.
  • Norwegian did some more things with bankruptcy. Click the link if it seems remotely interesting.
  • Virgin Australia’s new lounge in Adelaide opened today, just 10 months later than planned.
  • Volotea is expanding its fleet adding 15 to 19 additional A320s while also transitioning to an all Airbus fleet.

Madi’s Moment of Levity

What do you call a man with a rubber toe?


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.

February 2, 2021

Pete Buttigieg Confirmed as Transportation Secretary

With an 86-13 vote, Pete Buttigieg was confirmed by the Senate today to become the 19th US Secretary of Transportation. At the moment the confirmation was made official, Buttigieg also took over the title of “Secretary with the last name most likely to be misspelled over-and-over again” in the president’s cabinet. Buttigeg Buttigieg takes the title from former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who was quoted as saying he didn’t even know he had that “n” as the second letter in his last name until he was 26.

Buttigieg and Vice President Kamala Harris are the only two former democratic nominees for president serving in the Biden administration. In his new role, Secretary Buttigieg is expected to take the lead on the president’s agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, but it’s not entirely clear what his plans will be for the airline industry. He is expected to play a major role in the president’s flight against the climate crisis, improving efficiency & safety in the nation’s transportation network, and figuring out why a 20 oz. bottle of water costs so much in Hudson News outlets in America’s airports.

As he takes over the DOT, Secretary Buttigieg will oversee an $87 billion budget and 55,000 employees, 14 administrations (including the FAA), and will be in charge of the nation’s airspace, highway system, pipeline safety and more.

Airlines Begin to Align Mask Policy with CDC

Nobody ever wants to go first, but American Airlines took the plunge and is updating its existing mask policy effectivey today in order to align itself with the brand new federal government requirements. There are two notable changes to American’s previous policy, which had been in place since last year.

First, American will now allow medical exemptions, but it won’t be cheap for those looking to take advantage. Customers wanting to use a medical exemption must contact the airline at least 72 hours prior to departure. Exemptions will require documentation from a health care provider, a negative COVID text taken no more than 72 hours before departure, and the sacrifice of a gallon of goat’s milk in a pre-departure bonfire.

Second, in an effort to align with the CDC directive, passengers must wear masks and cannot wear gaiters, bandanas, catchers’ masks, or Darth Vader masks in lieu of a more protective face coverings. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask can be denied boarding or forced to fly every American Eagle route from Dallas/Ft. Worth airport in a six-week period.

American Spills the Tea with the DOT

American Airlines came back at its detractors with a vengeance, throwing shade at Spirit, Southwest, United, and others who challenged the validity of the carrier’s Northeast Alliance with JetBlue. American sat quietly, biding its time while others submitted complaints, and it is now unleashing a vigorous defense of both its agreement with JetBlue & the DOT’s handling of it.

AA starts by writing – in bold and italics – that the airline, along with JetBlue, announced their plans six months ago and the DOT began its informal review of the agreement five months ago. AA tells Spirit, the original complainant, and its co-conspirators commenters that it had six months to file complaints. To pretend they didn’t know what was going on until just now is “inconceivable.”

AA claims that after six months of ignoring NEA, Spirit and Friends want the DOT to duplicate all of the work it’s already done – but on Spirit’s terms.  AA has sniffed out what it believes to be a giant ruse — the other airlines only want another, more formal investigation in order to access confidential information filed by the two airlines to the DOT. American officials are adamant that no matter how many different ways the airline asks, Spirit will not access the confidential information it desires. This includes details like… what it is they put in the tomato sauce on their baked chicken dish they serve in domestic first class – it’s too proprietary and valuable to the airline.

AA has a laundry list of issues with the complaints, and calls Spirit, Southwest, and United out with gusto at every turn. Truthfully, AA has too many objections to list them all here, otherwise it would be the entirety of today’s Cranky Daily. But rest assured, no matter how this shakes out, American is never going to reveal just what makes its baked chicken so…delicious.

JetBlue’s Northeast Presence to Increase

With its Northeast Alliance with American having received the OK from the DOT, JetBlue Airways is primed to dramatically increase its presence at several northeast airports as a benefit of coordinating schedules with American.

The largest increase is expected to take place at New York/LaGuardia, where JetBlue’s daily departure total is expected to increase more than 300%. In 2019, JetBlue operated 18 daily flights at LGA, but will potentially operate between 50-60 daily departures at the airport. JetBlue’s Head of Revenue & Planning Scott Laurence indicated the airline might take a shot at Delta, noting that there was a monopoly on routes to the southeastern U.S. that JetBlue could swoop in on with its increased frequencies and feed from American.

Other additions for JetBlue will see Newark go from 35 daily departures to 70-80; Boston will go from 180 to as many as 230; and JFK will increase from 175 to 240. With the potential Newark additions, the airline becomes the first group of people on record to purposefully spend more time at Newark.

Deutsche Aircraft Pushes Ahead on New Plane

German aircraft manufacturer Deutsche Aircraft – or as its called in Germany – Aircraft, announced its intention to deliver the first D328eco aircraft by 2025.

At this point, the manufacturer does not have any customers, a pesky prerequisite to delivering airplanes, but expects to find someone to buy the plane and meet its goal. The aircraft program launched late last year, and merges the Dornier 328, a 33-seat turboprop, with new technology that introduces the use of alternate fuels and can be operated by just one pilot.

The new aircraft will be larger than its predecessor, as it will contain 43 seats. It hopes to serve current operators of both the Saab 340 and Dash 8, and with approximately 4,000 of those two aircraft in the market, Deutsche Aviation believes the market is ripe for its new airplane.

The plane will be manufactured in Germany, despite higher labor costs in the country. Deutsche wants to honor the legacy of Dornier by having its successor aircraft be as German as the original. The new D328eco expects to be ready for a prototype by early 2024, and thanks to German efficiency, is expected to be right on time.

Airline Potpourri

  • Hawaiian is hopeful it can achieve as much as 85% of its summer capacity this year as compared to 2019.
  • JAL has reduced the schedule it plans to operate in March to less than 50% of what was previously predicted last fall.
  •  JetSMART, a Chilean ULCC recently took delivery of a brand new Airbus A320neo aircraft with BioFuel, an organic fuel that reduces the carbon footprint emitted by the aircraft by 80%.
  • LOT is expanding its service to the United States, adding service from Krakow (KRK) to New York/JFK, operating once-weekly from May 2 to October 25. The airline is also adding flights from Rzeszów (RZE) to Newark, also once-weekly, beginning on March 29.
  • Podeba announced its schedule to begin operating from Moscow/Sheremetyevo (SVO) this summer. The airline will operate 12 routes — nine domestic and three international.
  • United is suspending three Florida routes from New York/LaGuardia: Fort Myers, Tampa, and West Palm Beach that were supposed to operate in March.
  • Virgin Australia is delaying the resumption of flights to New Zealand until at least June.

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

I hated to do it, but I fired this kid I’d been paying to mow my lawn. He just didn’t cut it.

November 10, 2020

Re-United, and it Feels so Good: United Returns to JFK on February 1

Five years after United Airlines ended service at New York/JFK, the airline will return on February 1 with four daily non-stops to the West Coast. United will fly twice-daily to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, operating its reconfigured business class-heavy Boeing 767-300ERs with 46 United Polaris beds, 22 Premium Plus seats, 47 in Economy Plus, and 52 in plain ole’ economy. 

United’s return to JFK will see it operate out of British Airways’s Terminal 7 along with other airlines known for top premium-class service such as Aerolineas Argentinas, Eurowings, and Ukraine International Airlines. United had operated in T7 before leaving, but only now can it return thanks to reduced demand from airlines.

In addition to its four daily flights to California, rumors are swirling that United also plans to launch daily service from JFK to its hub across the river in Newark, giving United customers one-stop service to over 100 destinations daily. When asked about the super-short distance between the two airports, United said that most of its NYC-based customers would prefer to connect from JFK through Newark than have to sit on NJ Transit for one more minute.

European Union to Place 15% Tariff on Boeing Aircraft

The European Union announced that it will apply a 15% tariff on Boeing aircraft being sold to operators in Europe as a retaliation for U.S. subsidies offered to Boeing.

This issue has been ongoing for more than 15 years, but came to the forefront again due to an April 2019 ruling from the WTO that the U.S. was not in compliance with WTO regulations as the government continued to offer subsidies to Boeing.

The tariff will take effect today, November 10 and will remain in place until the U.S. and EU can come to an agreement. The tariff on Boeing is included in a larger package of US exports, with the total figure being about $4 billion. 

In an effort to fight the tariff without giving up its U.S. government subsidies, Boeing is considering offering all European operators a Buy One, Get One 15% off coupon to satisfy the WTO. The manufacturer is also considering a holiday special, where each aircraft placed on order comes with a copy of Michael Buble’s hit 2011 album, Christmas.

American Eliminates More Award Fees

After eliminating change fees earlier this fall, American Airlines has gone a step further eliminating more fees for customers looking to make changes to their award travel plans.

Despite eliminating redeposit fees for awards cancelled more than 60 days out, a fee structure remained for non-Executive Platinum members who cancelled award bookings less than 60 days out. The fees ranged from $50 up to $150 — with the $150 being charged to a non-elite cancelling an award booking fewer than seven days before travel. Effective tomorrow, November 11, all redoposit fees for all members, elite or not, will be waived — provided the cancellation is prior to departure.

American also has eliminated its $40 phone booking fee for non-Executive Platinums booking awards on the phone. In reality, this fee was rarely charged as the reason the member was calling in the first place was often because of an error while booking on the web.

Lastly, AA has extended AAdvantage mileage expiration dates, through June 30, 2021. This is terrible news for all the AA-supported charities that received frequent 1,000 mile donations as travelers looked for any way to keep their miles active.

Etihad Slims Down for the Long-Haul

Unlike many people who gained weight during the pandemic, Etihad has used the spring and summer to restructure itself into a leaner, more mid-sized airline.

As part of the restructuring, Etihad will focus primarily on its widebody aircraft, despite having 56 narrowbody Airbus currently on order.

The airline also saw four top executives leave the company, including Chief Commercial Officer Robin Kamark, giving it a chance to right-size its executive team in the wake of the pandemic. With its leadership changes, Etihad will separate out business units that previously fell under Kamark’s oversight.

Etihad currently has a fleet of 81 widebody aircraft, led by 30 Boeing 787-9s. It currently serves 72 destinations from its Abu Dhabi hub with 58 daily flights. Chances are good that not a single one of them makes money.

Qatar Launches Basic Business Class

Qatar Airways has begun selling a basic business class offering on most of its routes, including to and from the United States. The unbundled business class, which the airline has named “Business Class Classic” does not include advanced seat selection or complimentary lounge access with the fare.

The basic business seat does not preclude lounge access if a passenger has it through other means such as elite status with a oneworld partner. It also will still come with a seat assignment if the passenger has elite status on a oneworld partner that allows that sort of thing.

Qatar will also be launching a pilot program on select flights beginning in early 2021 with what it is calling “Very Classic Business Class.” The VCBC seat will come at a 10% lower cost than its current basic business class and will not include on-board lavatory access or a seat belt. The airline said in a statement said that it’s unfair that those passengers with a large bladder are being forced to subsidize lavatory costs that are only used by their small-bladdered fellow passengers.

Likewise, the airline said that 10-15% of its passengers never buckle their seat belt when flying anyway, and that those passengers should not be required to shoulder the financial burden of those who do use their seat belts.

Airline Potpourri

  • Azores Airlines is facing a €15 million lawsuit from Air Lease Corporation over the airline’s Airbus A321neo aircraft.
  • China Airlines has put its final four Boeing 747 aircraft up for sale.
  • Ecuatoriana Airlines received its operating license as it moves forward to resume service next year for the first time since going out of business in 2006.
  • Jet2 has suspended all flights in and out of England for the duration of the current lockdown.
  • JetBlue added 25 extra flights from the New York area for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Qantas has added three new destinations from Canberra: Cairns (CNS), Hobart (HBA), and Sunshine Coast (MCY)

Andrew’s Moment of Levity

All gnomes have red hats. It’s a gnome fact.