Archive: February, 2011
Virgin Atlantic Airways, a popular Europe travel option for PHL-area fliers since it serves Newark Liberty, is looking at its various options for future growth, including considering the interest the big airline alliances have in it. Virgin's not a part of alliances now, but the recent antitrust immunity granted to archrival British Airways and American Airlines for its oneworld alliance has made the independent-minded airline think again. Read a view from a British news article here.
You may not want to read this if you're worried that low pay and working conditions could affect the performance of commuter airline pilots. The big carriers say it will cost them more to adhere to proposed new rules on pilot rest and training than has been estimated, and they don't like that. More at this link ...
The major airlines abandoned an attempt to raise fares that were already near the top of the scale, those usually aimed business travelers. Read more about the rollback here.
The Federal Aviation Administration predicted in its annual air-traffic forecast this week that passenger counts will pass the 1 billion mark in the next decade and double over the next 20 years. Here is the FAA's news release on its report, with a link to the detailed report.
I mentioned two weeks ago that come April, news stories would pop up on the one-year anniversary of the federal government's tarmac-delay rule, the one that imposes heavy fines on airlines for stranding passengrs on airport tarmacs for three hours or more. I said that because winter stormis had caused so many cancellatioins already this winter, it was going to be hard to figure out after a year whether the new rule was causing even more flights to be scrubbed. That same point -- with lots of statistics about cancellations so far -- is at the heart of a New York Times story published yesterday. Customers in general seem to be much better off with airlines canceling more flights than ever with when storms threaten.
Inside the world of online airline ticket sales there's big trouble, with American in a dispute with some online travel agencies (think Orbitz) and the global distribution systems that serve both the online and traditional travel agencies. American says it has a better way to offer would-be customers shopping for tickets and other services. But many consumers say they like the online services just fine, finding greater satisfaction with them than they do with many other services -- including airlines themselves. Read more about that at this link.
In the meantime, though, federal regulators warned one of the big distribution systems, Sabre Holdings, and four online agencies that they can't bias their displays of flights and fares against American .... it's against federal regulations that prohibit bias, rules that, in fact, help make the sites more popular with consumers. Here's more on that issue.
How is the political gridlock in Washington going to affect air travel? Here's one example, with the Senate rejecting a Repubican effort to roll back spending on the Federal Aviation Administration. In recent weeks it looked like FAA and modernization of the air-traffic control system might be one area most members of Congress could agree on ... but not so fast. Here's detail of the vote on the FY 2011 spending.
Some flights were canceled, into today, by United Airlines' decision to ground all of its 757 jets to make inspections that it had failed to complete when they were scheduled. This doesn't appear to be a major safety issue. Read the basics in an AP story here.