Archive: April, 2012
We're back to posting after almost a week of travel. Here for the record are links to US Airways stories in The Inquirer by beat reporter Nussbaum, first on CEO Parker's views on yesterday's earnings conference call about how American could benefit from a combination with US Airways; about an exchange of views between Parker and Mayor Nutter on a fifth PHL runway, published Sunday; and on plans to expand Internet access on US Airways planes.
For a company that still hasn't fully merged its workforces since it's last acquisition almost seven years ago, the first thought is that this is one determined, single-minded outfit, isn' it? US Airways pulled a rabbit from its hat with the news that it has the support of three of American's unions for a merger of the carriers as AMR comes out of bankruptcy protection. All the details are in a full Inquirer Nussbaum story, reposted here for its archival value. Read into it to see what US Airways' own pilots and flight attendant unions, still waiting on new contracts, as well as American, have to say. Also, here is American's first-quarter earnings report.
Airline earnings season is here and first of big PHL carriers to report was Southwest. Read about its use of special items to eke out a first-quarter profit.
Here's a news tidbit that may explain why seats are harder to find on Amtrak trains, and why rail fares, especially for peak-travel times, are not exactly cheap. The people are riding, folks. Read here about how Amtrak is on pace for another record-setting year while wondering why there's still debate about the railroad's future in a balance transportation system.
Perhaps it's just me but is there something fundamentally strange with a former head of the Transportation Security Administration taking to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to say that what he oversaw for more than three years is fundamentally the wrong way to approach airline secuirty? Questions like this will continue to be raised in this space, so read what Kip Hawley says about the agency he used to oversee here ...
Last week's monthly report by the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides a great example of how beneficial mild winter weather is for helping air travelers get where they're going on time. The report for February, with its milderthan-normal weather, shows that airlines operated more than 86 percent of their flights on time, almost 12 points better than a year ago. The on-time performance also helped the carriers mishandle fewer bags, as reported in this story.
PHL had a remarkable record for the month, 88 percent of flights arriving on time and 90 percent departing on time, one of the best in recent memory. Those numbers helped US Airways finish in the top three among its biggest competitors in on-time flights, bag handling and complaints and provided employees a $50 bonus.
More than three decades after it was adopted as federal policy, U.S. airline deregulation continues to be both praised as a great democratizer of travel, lowering costs to consumers and opening the world to the masses, and questioned for its shortcomings, including leading to less competition and less service for many communities and for allowing market power to be concentrated in too few hands.Two recent essays I've seen raise provocative questions about whether deregulation continues to deliver on its promises of a better and more efficient air-transportation system.
One, in the magazine Washington Monthly, looks at how the concentration of service with fewer and fewer airlines using hub-and-spoke route systems has hurt service in a number of major cities that are no longer hubs. It's very long and detailed, has generated some criticism from readers, and can be found here. The other, much shorter essay, deals with a subject that's been covered often in this blog: Why federal regulators are required these days to monitor and try to make more transparent the true cost of airline tickets, given the fees that most carriers have adopted in recent years. It was written by the Radnor-based Business Travel Coalition and can be found at this link.
American Airlines management clearly doesn't think much of the idea of US Airways' staging a hostile takeover while the former carrier is in Chapter 11 protection. If you were in their position, hoping to still be in charge after a reorganization, you would probably feel the same way. US Airways is fairly open these days that it's interested in pursuing AMR. To help counter that, American released a memo to its CEO from its chief pilot that indicated American pilots ("See, it's not just me, boss, it's the rank-and-file!") question the ability of US Airways to pull off a merger. Read more in an informative article that includes some historical context, on the mess labor relations at both carriers traditionally have been.
UPDATE on Monday, 4-16: An American spokesman suggests this item needs clarification. He says American did not release the memo to its CEO from the chief pilot; Bloomberg, which published the article in the link, acquired the information from another source. Nothing else changes.