Archive: November, 2009
Tom BeldenPFCs are those fees, taxes, whatever you want to call them, currently up to $4.50 per flight, clipped to the air fares we pay. PFC stands for "passenger facilities charge" and they are collected by airports to pay for improvements such as terminals and gates. A blogger for the consumer Web site WalletPop.com is complaining about Congress's contemplation of raising the fee to $7.50, an idea airports favor and airlines don't . The commentary is based on a good story with both sides --airlines and airports -- quoted in USA Today.
Here is one good result of airlines sharply cutting their flight schedules because of the recession: It may mean less disruption to the remaining flights in the New York area when the NY-NJ Port Authority closes down a main runway at Kennedy International Airport early next year for a total rebuild. Lots of folks, led by JetBlue, are seriously worried about the effect on JFK operations when Runway 31-L is closed for at least four months.
Another side effect could be more air-traffic-related takeoff or landing delays for PHL because of its proximity to JFK and the way PHL traffic needs to be threaded through NY-area traffic. A thorough explainer story can be found today in the trade paper Travel Weekly at this link.
Tom BeldenNo matter what, Americans have long supported subsidizing passenger trains as a way to achieve a balanced transportation system. Today's Winging It column updates efforts to build a better U.S. passenger rail system and the drive, fed by federal devlopment funds, to bring more high speed trains to selected corridors in this country. Read it all here ...
The Dutch airline KLM took a 747 out for a test flight yesterday with one engine running on a combination of regular jet fuel and oil from camelina plants, a common weed that grows in flax fields. Read more here...
This holiday weekend is seeing more air travelers leaving earlier and returning later in an effort to find lower fares. Read more here ...
The Department of Transportation has fined three airlines $175,000 for stranding a regional jetload of passengers overnight at Rochester, Minn., last August. A full retelling by the AP of what happened and reaction from experts and passenger-rights advocates can be found at this link.
The saga of ailing Japan Airlines goes on, with news it's signed a deal for a loan from a government bank. As reported before, Delta and American are in a battle to provide financing in JAL as a way of controlling more air traffic through Tokyo. Read more here.
US Airways announced another step this morning in efforts to shore up its finances at a time the recession has caused a sharp drop in traffic. In this round, the airline said it would improve its liquidity by $150 million now, and by $450 million by the end of 2010, in part by deferring delivery of new jets.
The practical effect, presuming nothing else (like a merger, or a sudden and unlikely upturn in business) happens, is to delay delivery of a new Airbus widebody, the A350, that would replace aging Boeing and slightly newer Airbus models on PHL-Europe flights, until at least 2017; the due date had been 2015. Among questions this raises: Just how long can US keep flying those old 767s across the pond?
US Airways executives said in a message to employees that the moves to help its finances should be seen as part of other recent decisions to help stabilize its bottom line. The other deals: Trading takeoff-and-landing slots at LaGuardia Airport with Delta for slots at Washington National, and restructuring its hub-and-spoke route system to eliminate or cut flights to some cities while focusing on its hubs at PHL, Charlotte, Phoenix and Washington.