Flight Blog

May 23 2012 Catch-all BY sgf-adminTAGS How the Airport Works, Southwest

 

This is the Wednesday morning catch-all...

APRIL PASSENGERS NUMBERS

Our April passenger numbers are in and the news is good: they’re up 6.4 percent compared to the same month last year. For the first four months of the year passenger numbers are up 9.1%. This is good news. Keep in mind that last year we were down 8.1%. Why such an improvement? Several factors are at work…

Last year the airlines cut capacity (the number of seats in the air) across the board; less capacity means lower operating costs. The cuts came in response to high fuel prices, and the continuing recession. The capacity cuts now appear to be over with. The economy has improved somewhat, particularly here in Southwest Missouri, where unemployment is now less than 7%. There’s an old rule of thumb in the airline industry: more employment means more people flying.

While the news is good we’re not jumping up and down. We’re cautiously optimistic.

SOUTHWEST PLANS TO DUMP AIRTRAN FLEET

Southwest Airlines will apparently get rid of the fleet of Boeing 717s it acquired when it bought out AirTran. The planes will be picked up by Delta Air Lines. At least that’s the plan. It’s a tentative deal that depends on the outcome of several factors, including ratification of a labor contract with Delta pilots.

Read more here, and here.

TSA WANTS TO SPEED UP SECURITY SCREENING

“The U.S. Transportation Security Administration wants to speed screening for as many as three in four travelers as it absorbs criticism for procedures that have led to pat-downs of children, seniors and members of Congress.”

That’s the lede in a story from Bloomberg News. Read the rest here.

 


 

For the seventh consecutive year our airport has received a “discrepancy free” safety inspection from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Airports that have scheduled airline service are inspected every year by the FAA for compliance with federal aviation safety rules.

Just one discrepancy free inspection is an accomplishment in itself, but to do it seven years in a row is a tremendous achievement. It shows that safety is part of everything we do.

Last month an FAA inspector spent three days in Springfield reviewing the following:

  • Airfield security
  • The airport’s emergency plan
  • Training of airport employees
  • Response times of the airport fire department during emergency drill
  • Runway and taxiway safety
  • Aircraft fuel truck safety
  • Wildlife control

Passing the yearly safety inspection requires a lot of effort from everyone at the airport. They do it 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. That's what it takes to provide you with the safest airport possible.

 


May 01 2012 Delta Buys Oil Refinery BY sgf-adminTAGS Delta

 

"Delta Air Lines Inc will buy a Pennsylvania oil refinery from ConocoPhillips for $150 million, an audacious bid to save money on fuel costs by investing in a sector shunned by many of the biggest oil firms."

"Audacious?" That's putting it mildly. Read the rest of the story from Reuters.

 

 

 


 

We’ve received several questions about US Airways’ apparent interest in merging with American Airlines…first some background.

Last November American filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. American provides our airport with service to Dallas and Chicago. The question we’re being asked: if US Air and American merge, what will that mean for Springfield’s service to Dallas and Chicago?

Here’s the short answer — I don’t know. Trying to predict the outcome of airline mergers is beyond tricky. Now for the long answer…

Let's begin with a simple fact: US Air does not have significant status at either Chicago or Dallas.

US Air says a merged airline would have it corporate headquarters in Dallas, which is the current corporate home of American.  American is the No. 1 airline at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. Would the combined airline sacrifice its No. 1 status at the 4th largest airport in the country? Not likely. That probably means our service to Dallas would be safe in a combined airline. Moving on to Chicago…

American is not the No. 1 airline at Chicago O’Hare. But would the combined airline want to reduce its presence there?  O’Hare is the second largest airport in the country. Its central location makes it a good hub for coordinating east-west passenger flow across the country. So, that probably means our Chicago service is safe in a combined airline. But remember — trying to predict the outcome of airline mergers is beyond tricky!

There’s really a bigger question to ask — is US Air serious about merging with American? Consider the following:

  • A few years ago US Air made considerable noise about merging with United, and then Delta. United ended-up merging with Continental; Delta merged with Northwest.
  • The current management team at US Airways successfully merged US Airways with America West. That was back in 2005. Even though that merger was seven years ago, the combined airline has yet to reach deals with its combined labor unions. As you read on, keep that point in mind…
  • US Airways has approached the labor unions representing many of American’s employees. Last week US Air announced it has signed agreements with three of those unions that, “would govern collective bargaining agreements…at the merged airlines.” The American's Allied Pilots Association union says that US Air has offered American pilots an immediate 5.5% raise.

That last bullet point sounds pretty good for US Air, doesn’t it? It apparently has the support of many American employees for a merger. But then, this tidbid came out in the Dallas Morning News:

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers put out word Tuesday that its members at US Airways aren't happy about US Airways' announcement that it has deals with American Airlines' three unions for a possible merger. District 141 president Rich Delaney called events "insulting" and "disrespectful" since US Airways hasn't been able to get a deal with its own unions…

As you can see, there are many, many elements in play here. And there are a multitude of reasons, besides labor, that could swing a possible merger one way, or the other. Is US Air serious about a merger? Possibly — or it could just be waging psychological warfare against an opponent airline.

 


Apr 24 2012 Bad Trend, Good Trend BY sgf-adminTAGS Fares

 

We ran across this bit of gloomy news this morning:

"The cheap fares travelers enjoyed just a few summers ago are gone, killed off by a combination of an improving economy, rising fuel prices and fewer airline flights."

Read the rest of the story from the Arizona Republic.

And then there's this interesting story from the New York Times about the apparent comeback of travel agents:

"...in 2011 travel agencies experienced a second consecutive year of growth; their bookings account for a third of the $284 billion United States travel market."

This trend makes a lot of sense. We've been advising people for years that it's best to have a travel agent in your mix. In other words, don't depend entirely on online booking. A travel agent can often better deals than a booking engine.