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Archive: April, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, April 28, 2011, 4:14 PM

We may be in a new era, not just for the major airlines (see the post just below) but for small ones, too: Some of the relative newcomers seem to have found a formula for making money that so many little airlines couldn't find in years past. A recent Sunday New York Times Practical Traveler column looked at some of the more successful smaller carriers, including Allegiant Air, which serves Lehigh Valley International (ABE), and Direct Air, with service to Newark. None of them at PHL yet. Read more about it here ....  

POSTED: Thursday, April 28, 2011, 10:50 AM

Airlines have become highly disciplined in recent years in finding ways to sustain profitability other than simply raising fares. They have limited expansion and aren't adding capacity, even where there is demand. Now the industry is staying ahead of rising fuel costs by adding surcharges, especially in international markets. Just how much the surcharges are costing customers is detailed in this story.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 10:34 AM

Yeah, we know this blog is about air travel, but in the Philadelphia area, air service would be much different if it weren't for a much-maligned, taxpayer-assisted transporation service that will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sunday, May 1. Amtrak, set up by Congress in 1971 out of desperation when most rail service in the Northeast was near death, today is riding a crest of popularity and support, with ridership growing as gas prices and air fares go up. You may still find some members of Congress, usually Republicans from other parts of the country, still calling Amtrak and other public-transportation investments a waste of money. But politicians from the Northeast don't dare.

The trade paper Travel Weekly has an excellent historical article by Bill Poling, one of its longtime Washington correspondents, about Amtrak and why it continues to prosper. 

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 10:14 AM

The last big hurdle to Southwest's plan to acquire AirTran Airways has been cleared with U.S. Justice Department approval of the deal announced yesterday. More detail is in this Travel Weekly trade newspaper story.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 5:27 PM

Emergency landings happen daily for U.S. scheduled airlines and no media reports them all, but this incident is a little more unusual. A Southwest 737, landing at Chicago Midway after a flight from Denver, skidded off a runway when it hit a muddy patch in a heavy rainstorm. All passengers and crew evacuated safely and there were no injuries reported. Check the 'Net for updates.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 11:31 AM

Early on in the saga of why a Southwest jet lost a piece of its roof in flight on April 1, I mentioned here that sometimes things happen to airplanes that are completely unanticipated, even when airplane makers and airlines try to cover all the bases and do a decent job of avoiding trouble spots. That seems to be emerging in this case, with the discovery of possible manufacturing errors to the jet in question.

In a story first reported by ABC tv news last week, the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary assessment of why the Southwest 737 suffered the near-catastrophic accident, 34,000 feet over Arizona points to rivets and how they were installed. There appears to have been sloppy riveting work done in the original manufacturing of the 15-year-old jet at a Boeing Co. plant where the wings were made. Here is a good story on what the NTSB has found in its ongoing investigation.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 11:15 AM

Airline earnings for the January-March quarter are pouring in this morning, and a pattern, set last week when the first carriers reported, has developed.

 PHL's  biggest player, US Airways, had a loss that it blamed mostly on higher fuel costs, despite its improved service. Delta also reported a loss today, and from last week a report we had not posted here yet, United Continental Holdings also reported its share of red ink.

POSTED: Monday, April 25, 2011, 12:31 PM

We told you a couple of weeks ago about the opening of Minute Suites, the airport facility with private work-sleep rooms for rent by the hour. Now airport beat reporter Linda Loyd has done a full feature story on this, the most recent offering of services and facilities at PHL, and on the award-winning array of concessions that line every concourse. Read it all here ....

About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

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