Higher fuel costs prompted Southwest, followed by all the other major carriers, to raise fares across the board by $2 to $5. Read more about it at this link, and ponder one interesting factoid from the story: Fuel prices for airlines are up 12 percent since the first of the year, but are 4 percent higher than they were a year ago.
The debate continues between US Airways and the City over whether to expand PHL runways and rebuild most of its air field. Are these necessary improvements or costly enhancements that won't relieve air traffic congestion and chronic delays? The story has been covered extensively by Inquirer reporters Linda Loyd and her successor on the airline and PHL beat, Paul Nussbaum. The most recent exchange of opinions between US CEO Doug Parker and Mayor Nutter is in a Sunday Inquirer story, reposted here to create a longer-lasting archival record for easy reference.
US Airways has been in the news for several reasons over the last couple of days. Among the developments, sources say it's talking about merger plans with American Airlines' creditors, American parent AMR says it expects to use its Chapter 11 bankrupty status to abrogatre labor contracts where it can't reach agreements with unions, and US Airways CEO Doug Parker expressed confidence about the airline doing well this year depspite rising fuel costs.
US Airways and the Nutter administration say they are committed to working together to improve PHL and are still friends despite a fundamental disagreement over PHL expansion plans. Read all about it here ...
The industry trade group Airlines for America recently issued a manifesto that outlined what it would include in a national airline policy. The document, which was promoted yesterday in speech by the group's president, called for reducing taxes and regulation on airlines, reducing oil price volatility and improving the air traffic control system. In response, New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey thought it would be a good idea to develop an airline customers' manifesto, defining some those who pay to fly should expect from the companies, given how much they want the government to help them with a national airline policy. Here is what the columnist is hearing from his eaders.
Here are some of my own thoughts about the Airlines for America manifesto (read the article above to understand what I'm saying here):
Most taxes on airlines are effectively user fees, going to government programs that benefit aviation.
We are linking here to a New York Times "Bits" technology column in which writer Nick Bolton expresses frustration with federal airline safety rules against using electronic devices during taxi, takeoff and landing. The prohibition of cell phone talking in flight isn't a big part of the column, which it should be because that's where the controversy has always been: How do you keep peace on a closed metal tube called an airliner with your stranger-neighbor yakking throughout the flight. Airline flight attendants are opposed to changing that rule because they don't want to be cops any more than they are now. And yes, electronic devices may disrupt airplane navigational equipment.
Bolton's column is mostly about the FAA taking another look at whether there should still be a prohibition on using any electronic device during taxi, takeoff and landing. So far, so good. Yes, let's find out more. But the column leads with a complaint that he has to buy a stack of old-fashioned print magazines to read on his airplane flights because he's not allowed to use his iPad to read the same material that he could read electronically.
I'm afriad I miss Bolton's point here: He's being deprived of his electronics for about 30 to 45 minutes or so (yes it could be longer if there are takeoff or landing delays) of a six-hour flight? How many of the stack of magazines can you finish in that time period? Speed-readers perhaps need more time, but most people only need to buy one good magazine, or a paperback book, to fill up 45 minutes. Let's hope the FAA really does determine that we can still fly safely with electronics left on during the times that previous research indicated it could pose a safety hazard. In the meantime, here's another idea: Buy a print copy of a newspaper (even Mr. Bolton's) and read that.
This is a delightful story that sorta-literallly flies in the face of stories of unhappy airline employees. Read here about the United flight attendant, hired as one of the first native Hawaiian "stewards" on old prop planes flying to Hawaii from the West Coast, is still enjoying his work after 63 years.
The evidence keeps mounting that so-called low-cost airlines, a misnomer these days after the older network carriers have used Chapter 11 to cut labor costs in recent years, simply have better customer service than most of the big guys. JD Power & Associates annual survey of what airline passengers like and don't like shows what so many measures of customer sentiment have: Southwest, Virgin America and JetBlue are among those that simply aggravate their customers less. Read more about it here ...