Airline News May 2005

Airline News May 2005

Some big airlines leave out taxes, fees when quoting ticket prices. Following the lead of discounters, large airlines have begun quoting ticket prices without including taxes and fees, the Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney writes. The trend makes it more difficult for consumers to compare prices, he writes. The new policy also shows travelers how much they pay in taxes and fees. May 31, 2005

ERAA (European Regions Airline Association) is continuing its vociferous campaign against the European Commission (EC) with regard to passenger compensation due to delayed flights. The European Ombudsman has given the EC until 31 July to answer charges that Brussels is carrying out a campaign of misinformation, leading to widespread confusion among passengers and incorrect media reports. The ERAA says the new law is ambiguous and that claims by the EC regarding the number of complaints are misleading. According to the EC’s own figures, the level of complaints represents 20 a day, in other words less than one a day per member state. “When put in the context of about 1.5m passengers who travel in Europe every day, this means that only one passenger in every 75,000 is complaining to the EC,” said ERA Director General Mike Ambrose. May 27, 2005

IATA (International Air Transport Organization) has issued passenger and cargo figures for the first four months of this year for the world’s airlines in advance of its annual gathering which takes place in Tokyo this week. Passenger traffic growth of 8.7% shows that demand for travel is strong. Slower cargo growth of 4.7% reflects a general slowdown in global economic activity. Capacity expansion in all regions for the first quarter was below traffic growth, maintaining load factors at 73.6% for the period. May 27, 2005

High traffic, new FAA rules cause delays for private jets. Some private jet customers are encountering problems similar to those they experienced on commercial airlines, the Wall Street Journal reports. Heavy traffic and new Federal Aviation Administration rules that limit pilots’ flying time have increased delays. May 24, 2005

Air fares, hotel rates climb ahead of busy summer travel season. Anticipating a strong demand for summer travel, airlines and hotels have lifted their prices, the Dallas Morning News reports. Tom Parsons of said air fares are now more than $100 higher than they were a year ago. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study indicates hotel rates have jumped 4.5%. May 24, 2005

Pilot who flew into restricted Washington airspace loses license. The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the license of the pilot who flew his small plane into Washington’s restricted airspace, the Washington Post reports. Hayden L. “Jim” Sheaffer must wait at least a year to apply for a new license. Sheaffer’s error prompted the evacuation of the White House and Capitol. May 24, 2005

Regional carriers will continue picking up routes from large carriers. Large airlines will continue outsourcing flights to regional carriers as the industry’s financial troubles persist, Air Transport World reports. Several regional carriers have invested in larger airlines to help keep them afloat, Raymond James analyst James Parker noted. May 23, 2005

Travelers want punctual, reliable service. Big airlines are catching on to what travelers really want: punctual, consistent service, the St. Petersburg Times reports. Low ticket prices and good safety records are other top concerns, according the Business Travel Monitor by marketing firm YPB&R. More travelers want in-flight entertainment, but fewer say they expect meals. May 23, 2005

Canadians flock to U.S. for travel. The number of Canadians traveling abroad in March accounted for the highest monthly total since 2001, and overnight trips to the U.S., estimated at 1.3 million, reached levels not seen in more than seven years. According to Statistics Canada, about 3.7 million Canadians traveled outside the country, with a record 518,000 trips overseas. May 19, 2005

U.S. objects to European plan to cut aircraft emissions. The U.S. is objecting to a European plan to cut aircraft emissions, the Wall Street Journal reports. The European plan is part of an effort to reduce global warming and to conform to the Kyoto Protocol. The 25 EU nations have been trading emissions rights as part of the plan, but a U.S. official said the U.S. “is not in favor of carbon-dioxide trading.” May 19, 2005

Legislation to extend daylight saving concerns airlines. A congressional effort to extend daylight-saving time by two months in hopes of conserving energy, raises concerns with U.S. airlines, the Copley News Service reports. The airlines are worried that a change would disrupt their overseas flight schedules and cost them over $100 million in lost business. “We are pretty concerned,” said Diana Cronan, spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association. “We believe it would have a major impact during the period daylight-saving time would be extended.” May 19, 2005

U.S., EU to discuss proposed passenger security rule. U.S. and European officials today will discuss a rule proposed by the U.S. that would require all flights bound for the U.S. to be held for an hour while passengers’ names are checked against a terrorist watch list, The Wall Street Journal reported. Europeans oppose the rule and say it violates passengers’ privacy. May 19, 2005

U.S. objects to European plan to cut aircraft emissions. The U.S. is objecting to a European plan to cut aircraft emissions, the Wall Street Journal reports. The European plan is part of an effort to reduce global warming and to conform to the Kyoto Protocol. The 25 EU nations have been trading emissions rights as part of the plan, but a U.S. official said the U.S. “is not in favor of carbon-dioxide trading.” May 19, 2005

U.S., EU to discuss proposed passenger security rule. U.S. and European officials today will discuss a rule proposed by the U.S. that would require all flights bound for the U.S. to be held for an hour while passengers’ names are checked against a terrorist watch list, The Wall Street Journal reported. Europeans oppose the rule and say it violates passengers’ privacy. May 19, 2005

Cost of travel expected to climb this summer; hotel rates up 8%. The cost of traveling will increase this summer, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. More people are traveling within the U.S. because of the weak dollar and low air fares. Hotel costs are expected to rise 8% from 2004 rates, and occupancy will surpass 2000 levels. May 18, 2005

Airlines offer funeral directors miles for shipping deceased. Airlines are pursuing the funeral-home and mortuary business by exhibiting at trade shows and offering funeral-home directors frequent flier miles, the Wall Street Journal reports. One airline executive said shipping one body generates as much revenue as shipping 1,000 pounds of general cargo. May 17, 2005

Airlines feel the pain of high fuel prices: Airlines really feel the sting of high fuel prices, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Airlines operating out of the Atlanta airport use 2.8 million gallons of jet fuel each day, with Delta Air Lines alone purchasing 2 million gallons. May 15, 2005

Airlines are improving the amenity kits they give to first- and business-class passengers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Airlines believe these kits, which cost up to $8 each, are important extras for top customers. Airlines spiff up bathrooms as they cut perks. Some startup and international airlines are improving their bathrooms even as they cut food service, pillows and legroom, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bathrooms are relatively inexpensive to upgrade but create a sense of luxury even as airlines eliminate perks. May 13, 2005

Discount airlines’ market share to grow to 50% within 10 years, study says. Discount airlines will capture half of the U.S. market share during the next 10 years, according to a Standard and Poor’s study. Budget airlines hold 25% of the market and are in better financial shape than the legacy airlines. However, they also face high fuel prices and steep competition. May 13, 2005

English may not be the World’s most spoken language but it is the most popular. Readers may have also noticed that it is spoken by the great majority of North Americans, although one could argue a somewhat changed version with some words unintelligible this side of the Atlantic and vice versa. In order to help the good citizens of the United States (and presumably Canada), British Airways have come out with its “Brit-Speak” directory, designed to get over this problem. Here are just a few samples: If someone offers afters, they mean dessert; A kip in London is a nap, or a short sleep; half-four means four-thirty; dosh equals cash and to give someone a tinkle is a phone call! May 13, 2005

Airlines’ top-secret clubs keep elite customers loyal. Some airlines are rewarding their best customers with memberships in new invitation-only clubs, the New York Times reports. These fliers wait in unmarked lounges, receive liberal upgrades and get personal attention. The clubs are so secretive that no airlines contacted would comment on them. May 12, 2005

U.S. airlines oppose proposal to double federal security fee. A proposal by the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee would double the federal security fee to $5 per segment, Air Transport World reports. The Air Transport Association opposes the increase. President and CEO James May said, if enacted, the higher fee would push some airlines into bankruptcy. Funds from the higher fee would be used to buy explosive detection systems. May 9, 2005

Airlines make the switch to nonperishable snacks. The top airlines have replaced most of their domestic meal service with bagged and boxed snacks, the Los Angeles Times reports. Airlines say the move saves money and provides fliers with healthier options. Critics say the snacks and meals are loaded with calories. Meanwhile, airlines have struggled to predict how many people will buy them; the snack boxes often sell out. May 9, 2005

Scientists, aviation officials support volcano warning system. Some scientists think volcanoes in the U.S. pose a threat to thousands of people and to commercial jets flying near them, the Washington Post reports, and several scientists propose wiring the most dangerous volcanoes to warn of eruptions and help prevent unnecessary evacuations. Thousands of passengers fly over volcanoes each day, and ashes have caused serious damage to commercial planes. May 9, 2005

Summer travel heats up, but air fares hold steady despite fuel prices. The busy summer travel season has finally recovered from a slump triggered by the Sept. 11 attacks, CNN/Money reports. Hotel prices are already climbing, although high fuel prices have not prompted a jump in air fares. The European Travel Commission estimates a record 14 million Americans will travel to Europe this year. May 5, 2005

Following discounters’ lead, big airlines add direct flights. Under pressure from low-fare rivals, large airlines are adding nonstop flights that do not require travel through their hub cities, the New York Times reports. Airlines have already added 134 nonstop routes within the past year. Airline managers hope the changes will attract more passengers and create profits. May 4, 2005

Airlines tighten baggage policy, add fees to offset high costs. Airlines have begun charging customers for oversize bags and for checking extra luggage, USA TODAY reports. The carriers are tightening their policies as they face soaring fuel prices. The airlines also say heavy bags are responsible for some employee injuries. Fees vary from airline to airline. May 3, 2005

Higher seat belt use, better technology helps lower turbulence injuries. Technology improvements and the increased use of seat belts have helped reduce injuries from turbulence, the Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney writes. The Federal Aviation Administration said no passengers suffered injuries from turbulence last year or so far in 2005. Pilots are also able to better avoid turbulence because the FAA has doubled the number of altitudes jets can use while they cruise. May 3, 2005

Aer Lingus could be privatized by the end of next year but the plans, announced by the Irish government last week, have come in for major skepticism by interested parties. Essentially the State will retain a minimum 25% shareholding in order to protect its strategic interest in the flag carrier, whose 2004 operating profit rose 30% to E107m. However it is currently leaderless with Willie Walsh departure to British Airways and Emirates executive Dermot Mannion not due to take up his new position as CEO until August. The thought of Michael O’Leary mixing it to suit his ends could scare away possible investors, although involvement by another airline such as Air France or even Emirates to gain a European foothold has not been ruled out. May 20, 2005

Aero Flight the German charter operator, is to offer flights as part of the well-established US-based ‘EuropebyAir’ flight-marketing program. The airline was founded in early 2004 from the remnants of Aero Lloyd, which had collapsed during the previous winter. Aero Flight operates from the major German airports to a variety of holiday destinations using a fleet of four Airbus A320 and two Airbus A321. May 27, 2005

Air France has confirmed that it is to retain its three-category cabin operation within Europe on mainline routes. With Swiss returning to its old standards and other established carriers retaining at least a two-class operation there is clearly a commercially viable demand for business class. However AF is possibly unique with its three offerings on certain short haul routes, including both Heathrow and Manchester to CDG. Branded L’Espace Affaires (business class), Tempo Challenge (superior economy class) and Tempo (economy class), the airline says that it is important to offer a top quality product for certain business users and travelers connecting at Paris on to long haul services. In another move the airline will change your ticket for a flat fee of [pounds sterling]35, even cheaper than a certain Dublin headquartered airline who charges [pounds sterling]20 per sector. May 20, 2005

Air France is the latest airline to suffer from the American authority’s obsession with its “no-fly list”. Last Thursday a flight from Paris to Boston was diverted to Bangor because officials wanted to check a passenger. Since the aircraft was already in US airspace quite why its original routing was refused is not known. Much inconvenience was made to passengers and the cost to Air France was significant. As an official pointed out even if the passenger was refused permission to stay in the United States deportation was much easier at Logan rather than remote Bangor. May 13, 2005

Air Scotland, the trading name of’ Greece Airways, is seriously considering an operation later this year from Glasgow via Stansted to Baghdad. Whilst plans are speculative, the airline has confirmed the addition of two Tristar L-1011-500 with long haul capabilities and 309 seats. The airline says it is also underway to acquire a further two smaller aircraft for European routes. Boeing 757 aircraft are used on current routes. Air Scotland has applied for permission to operate from Miami and New York twice a week and to Havana and Toronto once a week. All flights are expected to commence later on this year. Plans are also underway to increase the frequency of the Glasgow to Paris and Athens routes, to five times per week from July 2005. May 6, 2005

AirTran flight attendants ratify new contract that lifts pay. Flight attendants at AirTran Airways ratified a new contract that will lift pay as much as 62%, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Negotiations began in 2002 and flight attendants rejected a deal in 2003. May 24, 2005

AirTran pilots seek better work rules during contract talks. Pilots at AirTran Airways say they want to replace their flexible contract with one featuring better job protection, tighter scheduling rules and better benefits. However, company officials say they want to cut pilot costs by 12% by increasing productivity. May 11, 2005

AirTran launches Charlotte flights, will compete with US Airways. Discounter AirTran Airways arrived in Charlotte today, launching six daily flights, the Charlotte Observer reports. It will compete against US Airways, which operates a major hub there. A US Airways spokesperson said the carrier has lowered its costs so it can match AirTran’s low fares.

May 4, 2005

Workers protest layoffs at Alaska Airlines annual meeting: Many Alaska Airlines workers say the airline’s “family spirit” is gone, and 90 company employees turned their backs on executives during the meeting. Officials say the airline must reduce costs and become more efficient to survive. May 18, 2005

America West CEO guides company through changes: America West Chief Executive Doug Parker is well-liked by his employees and described as witty and smart, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The airline has made many changes under his leadership, such as eliminating Saturday-night stays and lowering last-minute fares. May 23, 2005

Continental, America West adopt new XML specifications. Continental Airlines and America West Airlines have adopted XML specification for bookings and linking with rental car companies and travel agents, InformationWeek reports. The specifications were developed by the Open Travel Alliance, an organization that sets industry standards. May 6, 2005

Two investment firms back America West-US Airways merger. Two lead investors in the proposed America West-US Airways merger are hedge funds, the New York Times reports. Both firms, PAR Investment Partners and Peninsula Investment Partners, have held stakes in many airlines throughout the years. Their involvement creates a challenge for America West Chief Executive W. Douglas Parker, who will balance the hedge funds’ interests against those of other investors if the deal is consummated. Proposed merger demonstrates changes in industry: Four years ago, American Airlines merged with TWA to defend itself against a proposed merger of United Airlines and US Airways, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Now, US Airways and America West plan to merge so neither will fail on their own. May 26, 2005

US Airways brand could hurt merged carrier, experts say. If US Airways and America West merge, they will take the name US Airways. Some industry observers say the new airline would be better off creating a new brand. US Airways does not have particularly strong customer loyalty and has experienced service snafus during the past year. US Airways executives want to keep the name, noting it is widely recognized. May 25, 2005

Merged carrier faces challenges as low-fare airline, experts say. Some airline experts say it will be difficult for America West and US Airways to keep costs low enough to offer low-priced tickets, the Washington Post reports. America West Chief Executive W. Douglas Parker said the merged airline will have the advantage of offering flights across the country. He also hopes to win back business travelers. May 24, 2005

Merged carrier faces challenges as low-fare airline, experts say. Some airline experts say it will be difficult for America West and US Airways to keep costs low enough to offer low-priced tickets, the Washington Post reports. America West Chief Executive W. Douglas Parker said the merged airline will have the advantage of offering flights across the country. He also hopes to win back business travelers. May 24, 2005

America West, US Airways to morph into low-cost carrier. America West and US Airways want to reenter the marketplace as a low-cost carrier, but analysts say that goal will not be easy to achieve, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Costs at both of the airlines are much higher than they are at Southwest Airlines, the leading discounter. US Airways recently told workers in the Washington, D.C., area that it expects to keep most workers after the merger is completed, the Washington Post reports. Also, America West shareholder Texas Pacific Group said it will convert its Class A shares to Class B shares as part of the merger, the Wall Street Journal reports. May 23, 2005

America West, US Airways may get new name: If US Airways and America West Airlines merge, officials will choose a name for the combined airline. One marketing expert suggested rebranding the combined airline because of recent customer service snafus at US Airways and limited recognition for the America West brand, the Arizona Republic reports. May 19, 2005

Fares could stay low if airlines are allowed to merge. The proposed merger of America West and US Airways will keep ticket prices low, the Associated Press reports. The combination will also offer travelers new destinations and access to the Star Alliance global consortium. May 23, 2005

American’s Arpey considers workers’ opinions when cutting costs. American Airlines Chief Executive Gerard Arpey has listened to employees as he has cut the airline’s costs, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mitchell Schnurman writes. For example, Arpey recently said the company would consider trimming travel perks for non employees, but first it would need input from workers. May 25, 2005

American Airlines flight attendant questions travel perks for non employees. At a recent shareholders meeting, an American Airlines flight attendant questioned the company’s policy of offering valuable travel privileges to friends and extended-family of employees, the New York Times reports. Executives said they would consider revamping the system. The company has asked employees to take large pay cuts, and has eliminated many perks to save money. May 23, 2005

American strikes maintenance agreement with Latin American carriers. American Airlines said it will maintain 29 jetliners for Latin American airlines, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The agreement arrives as other airlines increasingly outsource the maintenance of their jets.

May 19, 2005

American markets Chinese flights a year ahead of service: American Airlines is working to boost demand for its service to China, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The airline’s inaugural flight is more than a year away. American officials say if the flight is successful, it may lobby for more flights to China. The flight will depart from Chicago. May 19, 2005

North Dallas Chamber to support lifting Wright law, report says. The North Dallas Chamber of Commerce is expected to support lifting the Wright Amendment, which restricts flying out of Dallas’ Love Field, the Dallas Morning News reports. Officials will hold a news conference Thursday but would not offer further details. Southwest Airlines wants the law repealed, but American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport want it to remain in place. May 19, 2005

Discount airlines lift fares, following lead of larger rivals. Discount airlines have boosted fares, following their larger rivals, the Wall Street Journal reports. American Airlines led the latest fare increase on Wednesday. Since then, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and JetBlue Airways have lifted their prices by varying amounts. May 16, 2005

Wright debate heats up as homeowners support law. The Wright amendment debate is intensifying, the Dallas Morning News reports. People who own homes near Dallas Love Field say the law protects them from traffic, pollution and other hazards. The Wright amendment limits flights out of the airport. Southwest Airlines wants the law lifted, but American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport believe it should stay in place. May 15, 2005

American Airlines plans Washington rally to support Wright law. American Airlines and its unions will hold a Washington, D.C., rally next month in support of the Wright Amendment, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The airline wants lawmakers to support limits on flights out of Dallas Love Field. Southwest Airlines, which operates a Love Field hub, wants the law repealed. May 12, 2005

American will try to protect pensions: American Airlines officials told workers the airline will try to protect promised pension benefits. However, in a memo, the company added it “cannot afford to be uncompetitive in any part of our business.” A government agency plans to take over four retirement plans at United Airlines. May 12, 2005

American pilots will not fly more hours during busy summer season. American Airlines’ pilots union has said pilots will not fly extra hours during the busy summer travel months unless the company recalls furloughed pilots, the Dallas Morning News reports. The company on Friday asked the union to allow additional flying and said the request was “fairly routine” ahead of busy travel periods. May 11, 2005

American must find ways to cover $6B in expenses, financial chief says. American Airlines will need $6 billion for capital spending and debt payments between now and 2007, the Dallas Morning News reports. The airline must find a way to cover those costs, which are compounded by rising fuel prices. Chief Financial Officer James Beer said the airline will need to raise more debt or spend some of its $3.5 billion cash balance. May 5, 2005

American, pilots oppose changing retirement age: American Airlines and its pilots union say they oppose lifting the mandatory retirement age for pilots to 65, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. In a letter to two representatives, the airline and pilots say “the age 60 rule has served the industry well.” Some airlines and pilot groups support lifting the retirement age to 65. American had not spoken out about the rule until Wednesday. May 5, 2005

American Airlines to sell food on more flights. American Airlines is expanding its food-for-purchase program to more flights, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The airline began selling sandwiches and snacks in the coach section of some flights on Feb. 1. The airline said up to 60% of passengers buy the food on transcontinental flights. May 4, 2005

Airlines raise fares by up to $20 as pricing power returns. Major airlines attempted to raise fares again on Friday for the seventh time since February. American Airlines led the increase, raising prices between $2 and $6 on Wednesday, and Delta Air Lines followed by boosting fares by $10 to $20. As of Friday, all large airlines had matched the price hike. The latest increase indicates pricing power is returning to the industry, experts say. May 15, 2005

American Airlines is the world’s largest airline, with Delta overtaking United to become the world’s number two according to Airclaims, the Heathrow based air transport information consultancy and claims management service provider, who has published some interesting figures. With 759 aircraft, American Airlines’ fleet represents 3% of the world total, with Delta and United’s current fleet at 507 and 501 aircraft respectively. Pioneering low cost carrier Southwest is in fifth position. Boeing’s share of the western jet market with 11,863 aircraft and 1,097 orders, represents 63% and 33% respectively, followed by Airbus with 3,610 aircraft (19%) and 1,505 orders (45%). The 737 remains the most popular aircraft type with a total of 4,394 and a further 776 on order. The A320 family is the second most common type with 2,331 and 1,034 on order. GECAS remains the world’s largest lessor with 1,500 aircraft in its fleet and 100 on order. ILFC is at number two, followed by BAe Systems Regional Aircraft Asset Management. The top 25 lessors have 21% of the world total fleet in their portfolios, with 5,400 aircraft and a further 577 on order (19% of the total). May 13, 2005

Wright Amendment debate puts Texas senators in sticky situation. U.S. senators from Texas are trying to balance the interests of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines as they review the Wright Amendment debate, the Dallas Morning News reports. Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn say they see both sides of the argument, and they may help find a solution. The Wright Amendment limits flights out of Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a large hub. May 2, 2005

American Express unveils new card that offers discounts on Delta. American Express has unveiled a new credit card that gives customers the choice of earning miles or discounts on Delta Air Lines flights, the Wall Street Journal reports. For example, a customer using the new SkyPoints Credit Card may trade 15,000 “SkyPoints” for a 50% discount on a $400 cross-country flight. May 26, 2005

American, Southwest warn shareholders of fuel prices, overcapacity. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines face challenges related to high fuel costs and overcapacity in the airline industry, the companies’ chief executives said at annual meetings Wednesday. Southwest said a merger of US Airways and America West could create opportunities for it in Philadelphia. Also, analysts say the advantages Southwest has from aggressive fuel hedging will diminish in coming months and years, the Wall Street Journal reports. May 19, 2005

ATA hopes partnership increases flights out of Chicago Midway. Bankrupt ATA Airlines hopes its partnership with discounter Southwest Airlines helps it increase flights out of Chicago Midway Airport, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. It also wants to increase its international flights. ATA Airlines hopes to exit bankruptcy in 2006. May 15, 2005

Bmed, the independent British Airways franchise partner, has been granted permission by the Governments of Sudan and Lebanon to operate scheduled flights between Beirut and Khartoum. Flying as BA it will be the only carrier on this route which has a flight time of 3.5 hours. Currently BMED flies three times weekly to Beirut with London originating passengers bound for the Sudan. There are no direct Khartoum flights from London. May 20, 2005

BMI Baby is on track and performing satisfactory according to group chairman Sir Michael Bishop who said that the all-important yield is up 11.6% so far this year over 2004. With three new aircraft arriving the fleet now has 19 Boeing 737-300s operating out of nine UK airports with Nottingham East Midlands (near Derby), Manchester and Cardiff as the main hubs. No new bases were expected in 2006 and Sir Michael said that he was amused to see that the profit of doom from a competing budget airline was wrong in predicting a collapse of airlines competing in the low fare market during 2004. May 20, 2005

Newquay, the scheduled airport for Cornwall, is to become a destination for bmi baby from both Birmingham and Durham Teesside making it the fourth airline to operate into what is also RAF St Morgan. Air South West, the successor to Brymon Airways, Skybus, the Isles of Scilly specialist and Ryanair, all have services. In the early 1970s, British Midland, now bmi, operated a twice daily service from Heathrow to Newquay using a Dart Herald and the occasional Viscount. The new routes starts daily from Birmingham June 12 and four times a week from the North East on the same date. May 13, 2005

BMI Baby, established in 2002 and Britain’s second largest no frills airline, is to further expand in the autumn with the delivery of three additional Boeing 737s increasing the fleet from 16 to 19 aircraft. During 2005 the budget arm of BMI, which has its own AOC, plans to carry close to 4m passengers on more than 50 UK and European routes, from five UK bases. Over the coming months the airline will be working with its existing airports to identify where the new aircraft will be based and which routes they will be flying. bmi Baby is now run by David Bryon who replaced Tony Davis when he departed to join Singapore-based Tiger Airways. May 6, 2005

BMI continues to be in the news and in what is seen as a major move is dropping its two-class operation on all European routes out of Heathrow with the exception of Belfast City, Brussels, Edinburgh and Glasgow, where research has shown a strong case for the retention of a business class section. Passengers will be able to purchase catering on board. Out goes the somewhat complex fare structure, replaced by a simplified system much in line with bmi baby. Tiny, Standard and Premium, gives three levels of flexibility and service. bmi is also emphasizing e-ticketing with more self-check-in kiosks along with new systems to allow check-in and printing of boarding passes at home. May 27, 2005

Bmi axes business class in low-fare transformation. As Bmi, formerly British Midland, works to lower fares, the airline will eliminate business class on most London Heathrow flights. Bmi will also restructure its fares to offer three levels and will add check-in kiosks at Heathrow. May 25, 2005

BMI have inaugurated its first long haul international route out of Heathrow to Mumbai, following on its successful flight program from Manchester. The four times weekly service is the first new operation of its type by a UK airline since 1991 and introduces a third British carrier into the intercontinental air travel scene, a move that will certainly bring down seat prices and invigorate the market. Speaking in the former Bombay to a large assembly of British and Indian journalists Sir Michael Bishop, chairman bmi, said that that the airline hoped to up the operation to daily by the start of the winter season at the end of October. He pointed out that 53% of the traffic between London and Mumbai connects over an intermediate airport. This figure should now reduce dramatically with five airlines on the route. bmi notes that with a 0925 London departure the new service is a practical proposition from most of the points on the airline’s domestic schedules. Sir Michael pointed out that under the terms of the bilateral the airline does not code-share but the sector is highlighted by Star on the reservation systems. Held at Mumbai’s outstanding Taj Mahal Place, the press conference attracted two dozen photographers and even the usually imperturbable Sir Michael Bishop was taken aback by the sheer volume of flash bulbs and camera lenses, more often than not only a few feet from his face! He is not the pop-star type but he handled it magnificently and was in fine form that same evening when the airline entertained well over 300 people to a delightful, open-air London musical showcase and dinner. May 20, 2005

Boeing searches for home for 767 tanker prototype. Boeing isn’t sure what to do with a 767 built as a prototype for its botched tanker contract with the Air Force, the Seattle Times reports. The prototype cost $275 million to develop. Even if the company wins the contract during the second bidding competition, the prototype is obsolete. Boeing lost the contract after an investigation revealed it received unfair favorable treatment in exchange for offering an Air Force official a job. May 23, 2005

Boeing has made a technology leap that might in the future be compared with the DHC Trident blind landing system breakthrough of yesteryear, now the standard norm for bad weather landings. The FAA has certificated on the Boeing 737-800 new generation series a Global Positioning Landing System (GLS), integrating data from the global navigation satellite system, ground stations and a multimode receiver on the aircraft, to provide pinpoint accuracy of its position relative to the runway and surrounding terrain. JAA approval is expected soon. Initially, GLS is certified to support Category I operations, which allow aircraft to maneuver in low visibility conditions. In the future, as GLS ground stations become available worldwide, the system will be able to support Category III operations, which allow aircraft to operate in very low or near zero visibility conditions. May 13, 2005

Boeing is investigating new technologies to see if innovative electrical motor drives can be made practical, in order to move aircraft on the ground without the use of tugs or the main engines. Working in conjunction with Chorus Motors Plc the company’s advanced research and development unit is testing a system that could significantly improve operational efficiency and reduce overall fuel consumption. It would also enable pilots to be in complete control of their aircraft from gate to gate. The results of this research should be available before the end of the year. May 6, 2005

Boeing and Northwest Airlines today announced the airline’s order for up to 68 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Northwest will use the 787 to boost operating efficiencies on its long-haul routes. The order includes firm purchases of 18 787-8s worth, approximately $2.2 billion at list prices, plus options and purchase rights for 50 additional Dreamliners. Six airplanes will be delivered each year during 2008, 2009, and 2010. With its initial delivery in August 2008, Northwest will be the first North American carrier operating the 787. May 5, 2005

Full-scale hijacking drill set for Saturday at Boston’s Logan airport. Officials will conduct a full-scale hijacking drill Saturday at Logan International Airport, the Boston Globe reports. A United Airlines flight bound for Chicago from Paris will be hijacked, and military jets will force it to land in Boston. An assault team will swarm the plane. The Massachusetts Port Authority said the drill is the first of its kind since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. May 6, 2005

British Aerospace BAe146, or technically these days BAe Systems RJ series, and with just under 400 built arguably Britain’s most successful airliner of all time, could be making a comeback as a water bomber fire fighting aircraft. Test flights in the US have come in for unstinting praise the aircraft’s 3,000 US gallon water capacity, slow approach speed and ability to fly as low as 200 feet ideal for fighting forest and bush fires. Production of the RJ stopped in 2002 but the plane remains a firm favorite with operating airlines, only about 10% of the fleet laid up and the Lufthansa Group and associates operating around 70 aircraft. May 20, 2005

Metal cutlery is back on British Airways long haul flights after the Department for Transport changed its list of banned items. Customers in first and club world cabins will be the first to get a chance to eat properly as stocks are returned from storage. The club Europe cabin (see left) is expected to be phased in towards the end of June. For the time being bmi will continue with what they call “top quality plastic”, as their previous dining knives do not actually comply with the new regulations regarding the cutting edge. It has also been pointed out that not all aviation authorities have lifted the ban, including Australia. This will affect every carrier flying to ‘Down Under’. May 27, 2005

British Airways may not add Airbus A380 to fleet. British Airways has concerns about the ability of the Airbus A380 to handle 600 passengers, Air Transport World reports. The airline wants to see the superjumbo jet in service before it places orders. Airbus officials have predicted the airline will order the A380. May 20, 2005

British Airways is to stop carrying stretchers from the beginning of June. This move has not gone down well in certain quarters. Europ Assistance, experts in this field with over 40 years’ experience, is very critical pointing out that the increased use of air ambulances and air taxis will add to journey times for repatriating sick or injured patients. BA says that the decision was more or less forced on them. The airline claims that in 62% of cases, the uploading of stretchers causes flight delays. Airlines are not obliged to carry stretchers in the air under the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Similarly, under US law, there is no requirement to carry stretcher cases. May 20, 2005

British Airways does not yet have a new chief executive in the form of the tough but genial Irishman Willie Walsh, but he is on his way. The former Aer Lingus chief executive has now arrived at Waterside and will formerly take over from October 1, when Rod Eddington officially departs. BA can hardly be said to be in a state of limbo with Terminal 5 now very much the focus of attention. Last Friday Eddington announced the full year profits which amounted to $788 / [pounds sterling]415m, pretax compared with the $9.5 / [pounds sterling]5m the year he arrived. Staff is down by 20,000 mainly by outsourcing, and the elimination of the small regional aircraft is the main cause of the fleet reduction from 366 to 290. And of course Concorde. May 13, 2005

British Airways confirmed dates for its increase of flights to India, following a new air services agreement between the UK and Indian governments. From October 2005 it will operate a double daily service from Heathrow to Mumbai, a new five a week to Bangalore and six a week to Chennai. From March 2006, BA expects to operate a double daily service to Delhi, and daily services to Bangalore and Chennai from Heathrow. At the same time the airline confirmed it would launch services to Shanghai from Heathrow on 1 June 2005, with five services a week to Shanghai Pudong Airport operated by Boeing 777 aircraft. May 6, 2005

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic launch ad campaigns for business class. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have launched new advertising campaigns in hopes of attracting corporate travelers to their business-class service, the New York Times reports. British Airways’ campaign emphasizes customer service, while Virgin Atlantic’s promotions touts its 16 daily flights out of nine U.S. cities. May 31, 2005

Club 328 newly appointed CEO Mike Farge last week outlined his strategy to take the Southampton-based executive jet operator company forward. With the return to the UK of two aircraft (a Citation V and Hawker 700), previously based in Switzerland, Club 328 has more capacity to offer into the ad hoc charter market. He said that Club 328 would not pursue operations of a 32-seat 328 as previously planned but would concentrate on operating aircraft of between six and 19-seats. Mr Farge highlighted that Club 328 was especially interested in the new light jets such as the Raytheon Premier 1. Southampton, its synergy with the south of France and the prosperous leisure boating industry, was proving to be an ideal location from both a charter and aircraft engineering point of view. May 13, 2005

Club Airways, the innovative Swiss owned ‘members only’ airline that operated a service between Geneva and London City airports has failed after tottering on the brink for an extended period. Chief executive Hans Schwab is no longer involved leaving only a minimum team of office staff left to deal with outstanding issues. Flights were mainly flown by Club 328, the Southampton Airport based executive organization plus Citation operators Jet Aviation of Zurich and Berne based Swiss Eagle. May 20, 2005

Continental may cap health care costs for most union workers. Continental Airlines said it will cap health care costs for union workers who approved pay and benefit cuts in March, the Houston Chronicle reports. The cap would not apply to flight attendants, who voted against the concessions. The two sides resumed talks, but are now in a month-long recess. May 26, 2005

Continental, flight attendants take a break from contract talks. Continental Airlines and its flight attendants union have recessed contract talks for a month, the Houston Chronicle reports. The union said the two sides have made progress in recent talks. Continental said it needs $72 million in concessions from the union, which voted down the last cost-cutting proposal. May 18, 2005

Continental Airlines has celebrated 20 years of nonstop Gatwick – Houston flights. Since its inaugural on 28 April 1985, the airline has carried over 3.5m passengers on the route since its inception. The airline’s first foray into the UK market was the precursor to what is now a major operation, with the airline launching Gatwick flights to both New York/Newark and Cleveland and operating to the USA from more UK airports than any other airline – Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. In June, Continental will also launch daily nonstop services to New York/Newark from Belfast and Bristol. Paul Griffiths of BAA Gatwick, left, and Bob Schumacher of Continental Airlines, right, celebrate in style. May 6, 2005

In cost-cutting move, some airlines start making parts. Some airlines are trying to cut costs by making aircraft parts themselves, the Wall Street Journal reports. They are also seeking out less expensive suppliers. Parts prices are rising 5%. Meanwhile, airlines are reporting large losses as fuel prices soar. Continental Airlines, for example, said it saves almost $2 million building parts such as tray tables and window shades. May 3, 2005

Delta, Continental explore selling stakes in regional units. Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines are considering selling stakes in their regional affiliates to boost their cash reserves, Reuters reports. Delta CFO Michael Palumbo said the company is “looking at non core assets and the overall efficiency of the leveraging of the collateral we have in place.” Continental CFO Jeffrey Misner said the airline wants to sell its stakes in ExpressJet Airlines, Copa Airlines and Continental Micronesia. May 16, 2005

Voice recognition technology prompts customer complaints. Some airline customers find voice recognition systems frustrating, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Complaints recently spurred Delta Air Lines to restore push-button service on some lines. Airlines rely on these systems to handle a broad range of calls. May 31, 2005

Delta Air Lines drops seven Kansas flights amid subsidy spat. Delta Air Lines will terminate seven daily flights from Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, the Associated Press reports. Delta offered to add daily nonstop flights from Wichita to Orlando if the city gave it $2.5 million in annual subsidies. Wichita provides subsidies to discounter AirTran Airways, which competes with Delta. The city rejected Delta’s proposal.

May 31, 2005

Delta Air Lines to keep cutting costs into next year, chief executive says. Delta Air Lines will continue cutting costs and expects to shed $1 billion in expenses this year, the airline’s chief executive told shareholders and employees at its annual meeting Thursday. Gerald Grinstein also said workers have “performed with extraordinary grace” as the company cut costs. May 20, 2005

Delta Air Lines will avoid bankruptcy filing in 2005, analyst says. Delta Air Lines will avoid filing for bankruptcy this year, JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote in a research note. Delta shareholders will get an update from management Thursday at the company’s shareholder meeting. May 19, 2005

Pay for Delta executives takes a beating in bid to avoid bankruptcy. Delta Air Lines’ executive pay and bonus plan was among the richest in the industry in 2002, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Now, chief executive Gerald Grinstein is one of the industry’s lowest-paid executives; he took a $250,000 pay cut and gave up his bonus in an attempt to help the carrier avoid bankruptcy. Meanwhile, top executives at discount carriers are taking home larger paychecks and bonuses. May 17, 2005

Delta Air Lines, a stalwart operator to India having served the market since 1981, last week introduced a daily JFK New York – Chennai (Madras) service operating via Paris. The flight, which also connects at CDG with DL’s operations from Atlanta and Cincinnati, providing customers with a convenient link to India’s fourth-largest city, is the latest carrier to take a serious interest in India. Between Paris and Chennai, Delta’s two class Boeing 767 flight will provide customers with a localized dining experience, reflecting specialties such as vegetarian Channa Dal, Chicken Nilgiri Korma and Kesari Saffron Rice, as well as offering a choice of two new films each month in Tamil language and 12 local language newspapers and magazines. The airline also flies daily from JFK to Mumbai (Bombay) via Paris. May 13, 2005

New Atlanta terminal could cost 20% more than expected. A new international terminal at the Atlanta airport could cost 20% more than originally expected, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The project is running more than one year behind schedule. Airport bonds backed by passenger fees, mainly from Delta Air Lines, will pay for the expansion. Officials say Delta’s financial problems could further delay the project. May 12, 2005

Delta Air shares plummet to 32-year low on news of large annual loss. Shares of Delta Air Lines dropped to a 32-year low Wednesday. The airline warned in a regulatory filing that it will report a large loss this year. It also may file for bankruptcy if its cash reserves continue to drop. May 12, 2005

Delta may seek bankruptcy protection, negotiates new agreements. Delta Air Lines is negotiating with General Electric and American Express to change the terms of financing agreements. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the airline also said it expects a “substantial net loss” for 2005 and said it may seek bankruptcy protection if it cannot raise more cash. Delta said higher fuel costs have offset savings from its turnaround plan. May 11, 2005

Song, Delta Air Lines’ high-style, low-fare air service, has unveiled the newest creations for its on-board menu, developed by Dave Lieberman who is their newest executive food consultant. Lieberman, star of the new Food Network show Good Deal with Dave Lieberman, and author of Hyperion Books’ Young & Hungry: More than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone, has created seven new selections that will be available on Song’s menu, May through July. May 10, 2005

Delta Air Lines nonstop flights to Moscow this summer available at discounted rates. To celebrate the June 1, Atlanta launch of its second daily non-stop flight, between the United States and Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, Delta is offering summer travel to the Russian capital with low introductory sale fares. From now until May 18, 2005, customers can purchase discount travel from either Atlanta or New York to Moscow for as low as $405* each way, based on a roundtrip purchase. Some blackout dates and other restrictions apply. May 10, 2005

Delta chief will not close hubs or ask pilots for pay cuts. Delta Air Lines chief executive Gerald Grinstein said he will continue making structural changes to keep the airline out of bankruptcy protection, USA TODAY reports. Delta will not close any hubs or ask its pilots to take further pay cuts, he said, and no large cost cuts are necessary to keep the carrier out of bankruptcy. May 10, 2005

Delta Air Lines today is taking international customers on a new “Passage to India” with daily, direct service to Chennai International Airport in southern India from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The new, daily flight, operated via Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, connects with Delta’s Paris flights from Atlanta and Cincinnati and provides customers with a convenient link to India’s fourth-largest city. Delta’s new flight to Chennai now brings added convenience and travel options for both business and leisure passengers to India, along with multiple opportunities for freight forwarders and cargo shippers. Delta is operating its daily direct flight between Chennai and New York/JFK, via Paris Charles de Gaulle, with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with the capacity to carry up to 204 passengers in a two-class configuration, featuring Delta’s award-winning BusinessElite service. May 9, 2005

Delta Air Lines opens sparkling Boston terminal: Delta Air Lines’ new Terminal A at Boston’s Logan International Airport features color video screens with weather conditions at destinations, famous Boston restaurants and orderly inspection lines. The $400 million terminal was conceived before the 2001 terrorist attacks. May 6, 2005

Berlin is now finally linked to New York by a scheduled air service (and yes the Hindenburg and other airships flew the route before WWII but they took considerably more than 8 hours 40 minutes). In what is a major leap forward, both for the city and Tegel Airport, Delta Air Lines has introduced a daily nonstop flight to New York JFK operated by a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with the capacity to carry up to 204 passengers in a two-class configuration. Delta has served the German market for the last 25 years and is the leading US carrier in that country offering Mumbai. Delta currently operates daily nonstop flights to Frankfurt from JFK and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and two daily nonstop flights to its hub at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport. Delta also offers daily nonstop service from Atlanta to both Munich and Stuttgart. May 6, 2005

Delta must pay $3.15B into pension; signs agreement with Freedom Air. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Delta Air Lines said it must pay $3.15 billion into its worker retirement plans during the next three years. Its obligation to retired employees will grow to $1.6 billion in 2008. Delta and other carriers want Congress to pass a law that would give them more time to fund their pension programs. Separately, Delta said Mesa Air Group’s Freedom Airlines will fly regional jets for Delta under a new 12-year agreement. May 5, 2005

Some of Delta’s Dallas workers find soft landing: Thousands of Delta Air Lines workers lost their jobs or relocated when the airline closed its Dallas hub earlier this year, the Dallas Morning News reports. More than 30 mechanics have found new positions at Verizon, which is installing a new fiber-optic network in North Texas. May 5, 2005

Delta chief has no plans for additional employee pay cut. Delta Air Lines executives said they will not ask workers to take any more pay cuts, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The airline continues to suffer from high fuel prices and large losses, but chief executive Gerald Grinstein said further pay cuts would hurt morale and customer service. May 2, 2005

EasyJet will have to find a new chief executive following the early retirement of current boss the literally easy going New Zealander Ray Webster, who in fact celebrates ten years with the Luton based airline. During his tenure easyJet has expanded from a small three aircraft carrier with not even its own Air Operator’s Certificate, to one of Europe’s major airlines with currently something around 100 aircraft in its fleet, last year confirming an order for 120 Airbus A319’s with options for a further 120. On the appointment of his successor Ray will resign from the Board and, up until 30 November 2006, will report to the Chairman, carrying out specified tasks for the company. In the meantime the airline’s founder and largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou returns to the board. May 20, 2005

Emirates, the rapidly expanding Dubai-based airline, is to go into the hotel business, an area that has been a distinct failure for airlines in the past, including Pan Am and SAS with their involvement with Intercontinental and ANA who built up an impressive international prospectus, only to just as spectacularly reduce its interest in this area. The new Emirates five star hotel on the Sheik Zayed Road, downtown Dubai and due to be completed in 2008, will be 70 storeys high. It will offer 560 guest rooms to a very high standard, plus 112 suites including a residential suite. There will be a roof bar and also included in the complex is a shopping boulevard. May 6, 2005

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates has announced the introduction of flights to Frankfurt and an increase in frequency to Bangkok, Colombo, Geneva and Munich. From 1 June, Etihad launches services to its second route in Germany with daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt. At the same time, the airline is introducing three direct flights a week to Munich, which was previously offered as a connection from Geneva. Services to Geneva are being extended with the addition of a new weekly flight bringing the total to four. Also from 1 June, Etihad will be expanding its services to Asia with daily flights to Bangkok, up from four a week, and the number of flights to Colombo goes up from three to five a week. Etihad currently flies to 16 destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and has a strategy to increase this number to 70 destinations by 2010. May 6, 2005

European discounters prepare to launch transatlantic service. Two former European charter airlines are launching trans-Atlantic service this summer, the Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney reports. German’s LTU and Italy’s Eurofly are now offering specials several hundred dollars cheaper than competing carriers. They will launch flights between New York and European cities. May 10, 2005

Paris is to be linked to the Isle Man. From May 27 EuroManx will operate what is believed to be the first scheduled European service from Ronaldsway Airport. An Avro RJ will operate the service on a Monday and Friday. The burgeoning airline is also launching direct flights to Galway in the west of Ireland. May 6, 2005

Concorde may have gone but its memory certainly lingers on. Whilst the supersonic jet may well be best remembered for the 3 hours 30 minutes journeys to New York, for many the Goodwood Travel “Flights of Fantasy” program was the item to evoke memories. A trip on the advanced jetliner followed by a superlative ground tour. Now reintroduced as the “Private Jet Collection”, the concept is much the same. Flights on an aircraft out of the norm, followed by ground arrangements to the highest degree of magnificence. The program has been based around two of the most luxurious private jets available, a specially kited out Airbus A319 (seen on left) with just 28 seats and an Embraer 135 Legacy with accommodation for ten. The Lapland Christmas party is a day out costing [pounds sterling]3,990 and at the other end of the scale, the World Air Cruise is priced at [pounds sterling]105,000 per person, if you take the onboard private suite. Of course a chauffeur is provided from your home for every trip. May 13, 2005

Harvard to study challenges faced by Chinese airlines. Harvard Business School is conducting a study of the challenges faced by rapidly expanding Chinese airlines, the Boston Globe reports. Hainan Airlines, a Chinese discounter, will participate in the study. Boston officials also hope to convince the airline to launch flights from Boston to China. May 20, 2005

Hawaiian Airlines, an important US regional carrier with a fleet of 11 Boeing 717 and 14 Boeing 767 is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early June more than two years after seeking protection from creditors. The airline, which has been in a financial limbo since March 2003, says that creditors will receive 100% of their claims and stockholders their full shareholding, virtually unknown when an airline has sought financial protection. The airline flies to Sydney, around the Hawaiian Islands, to most West Coast US cities and as far as Phoenix. May 20, 2005

Helvetic, the Swiss airline, which on May 15 switched its Zurich – London services from Gatwick to Luton, has come up with a marketing innovation, which could just catch on. Helvetic customers will shortly be able to buy flight vouchers per sector at around 1,800 post offices in Switzerland. Customers can pay cash or with their Postcard, then book their flight on the Internet. Ideal for people who don’t trust credit cards. May 13, 2005

Independence Air lowers fares to Washington, D.C., but future remains unclear. Independence Air’s cheap prices have lowered airfares to and from the Washington, D.C., market, but it is unclear how long the discounter will stay afloat, USA TODAY reports. Independence chief executive Kerry Skeen insists the low fares are not hurting the industry. The airline recently posted a large first-quarter loss. May 9, 2005

Independence Air chief expects to break even this summer. Independence Air expects to break even by June or July, according to chief executive Kerry B. Skeen. The airline said it will report a $105 million first-quarter loss, the Washington Post reports. One analyst, however, said the airline will burn through all of its cash by the end of 2005. The airline has recently launched fares as low as $29 for one-way travel. May 6, 2005

Independence Air promises free fare if luggage is delayed. Independence Air will give a free ticket if the airline does not deliver a passenger’s luggage on time, Travel Weekly reports. The Happy Bags Delivery Promise is part of the airline’s plan to promote its customer service. The free fare is valid for one year after it is issued and does not include taxes and fees. May 4, 2005

Japan still has a different perception of honor than other places. The chairman of Japan Airlines, Isao Kaneko, will resign at the end of the month to take responsibility for a string of safety lapses. The departure is also motivated by health problems. The announcement came just a day after a JAL flight from New York – Tokyo with 355 passengers aboard made an emergency landing in Sapporo after a sudden drop in air pressure inside the cabin. The carrier has been under mounting pressure amid a series of embarrassing safety lapses that drew widespread attention in January when a JAL pilot attempted to take off without receiving approval from air traffic controllers. The airline was humiliated when Japan’s Transport Ministry issued a highly unusual public warning to the company earlier this year. Just last week another JAL jet carrying 85 passengers bound for Manila, was rerouted to Kansai when its altimeter malfunctioned shortly after takeoff, causing a two hour delay on the ground. May 13, 2005

Jet Airways will today arrive for the first time in London, following a 9.5 hours inaugural service from Mumbai. The airline will operate Airbus A340-300 aircraft on the route, these initially coming from South African Airways. In a month’s time Jet will introduce a Mumbai – New York service routing via Brussels where it also has fifth freedom rights. A guest at BMI’s inaugural celebrations last week was Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO of Jet Airways, and likely to become BMI’s domestic partner. May 20, 2005

Jet Airways is coming to the UK as an on-line carrier although it has been established with offices in Britain for some years. With bmi about to introduce services to Mumbai next Monday 16 May, Jet Airways, the most successful of the subcontinent’s independents, has confirmed that it too is to launch services with a daily operation, its start date one week later, Monday 23 May. Jet will offer the Airbus A340 with a two-class operation, whilst bmi has the A330 twin with on board chefs in business class, the popular Premium Economy and economy. Air India, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are already established on the route. BA announced last week that that it would offer a double daily from October. 9W commenced operations in 1993 and, in the short span of 12 years, has established itself as the leading domestic full-service carrier in India with a 46% market share. The airline offers an extensive domestic network, operating over 270 flights daily and connecting to over 44 key tourist and business destinations and cities. Last year the carrier carried 8m passengers and in February 2005, carried its 50m passenger. May 6, 2005

JetBlue could launch Pittsburgh service later this year, official says. JetBlue Airways could start service from Pittsburgh later this year, according to Kent George, Pittsburgh International Airport chief. An airline spokesman said the airline had not set a date for starting Pittsburgh service. JetBlue would likely fly from Pittsburgh to New York. May 27, 2005

After years of star status, JetBlue faces criticism from travelers. For five years, JetBlue has cultivated a crop of travelers impressed with its customer service and reasonable fares. Now, some JetBlue customers say they are disappointed with a recent spate of delays and baggage problems. Chief Executive David G. Neeleman blamed some delays on poor weather, but acknowledged that it is more difficult to keep travelers happy as the airline matures. May 23, 2005

With solid customer service, JetBlue sets example for industry. JetBlue Airways strives to create customer loyalty by offering low fares along with solid customer service, according to founder David Neeleman. The company’s quick growth and popularity with customers has transformed it into an industry model, the Oregonian reports. May 17, 2005

KLM will on Tuesday celebrate the 85th anniversary of its inaugural flight from London to Amsterdam. For this first service KLM chartered a de Havilland DH-16 plus a pilot from the British airline Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd. The ‘plane could seat four passengers in its closed cabin. With the English Channel under terrible weather conditions pilot Jerry Shaw flew via France and Belgium to Holland, covering 482 kilometers in just over two hours. Although the cockpit had a compass, pilots mainly flew by sight, using villages or towns as points of orientation. There was no radio on board, so weather reports were listed on large blackboards set up at regular intervals along the route. As a result, the pilot could fly no higher than 300m. On top of that, the schedules were unreliable, to say the least. The early flights therefore mainly attracted adventurous passengers, who were aptly referred to as “The Courageous. May 13, 2005

LAN Airlines makes it debut in the Argentine on Wednesday June 8 challenging the dominance of Aerolineas Argentinas. The company is 49% owned by the Santiago- based LAN group with the balance retained by two Argentine lawyers. LAN, formerly LAN Chile, is a major South American operator and a member of the Oneworld alliance. Initially it will serve two domestic routes, building up to ten by December, including Miami. Established way back in 1929 it currently operates a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft, split 50/50 between Airbus and Boeing. The new Argentine airline will initially use Boeing 737-200s but is expected in the future, to add Airbus A230 series aircraft. Madrid is expected to be added, as a destination from BA in 2006. Its Chilean counterpart already offers a daily service from Santiago. May 27, 2005

Malev, the Hungarian national airline, has taken the first step to join the Oneworld airline alliance with the signing a memorandum of understanding. This provides a framework for continued discussions, aimed at issuing Malev with an invitation to join as a full member during 2006. Malev will provide a useful addition to the global network with its strong presence in central and southeast Europe. Three existing oneworld partners currently serve Malev’s Budapest hub, Aer Lingus, British Airways and Finnair. Malev itself operates to established, oneworld hubs Helsinki, Heathrow, Madrid, New York, Dublin and Cork. May 27, 2005

Monarch Scheduled is offering passengers up to six inches more legroom, as it revamps its fleet this winter. From mid-November a 34″ seat pitch will be available on up to 48 seats on the airline’s Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The carrier is taking out a complete row of seats from each aircraft to enable more legroom to be offered, in response to a demand from passengers prepared to pay more space. The additional cost for the new seats will be just [pounds sterling]15 each way, bookable on line. Standard seats will remain obtainable, with pre-booking available for [pounds sterling]5 per flight. Monarch Scheduled operates flights to Italy, Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal, from Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester. May 20, 2005

Monarch Scheduled has launched its winter 2005/06 timetable increasing capacity by 41% compared to last winter, with more frequencies on the most popular routes from Luton and the carrier’s new base at Birmingham. New winter routes from Manchester include Almeria, Naples and Madrid. Gatwick sees the addition of daily flights to Granada and Lisbon. Included are complimentary daily newspapers and a hot towel service. Seats can be pre-booked at [pounds sterling]5 per one-way flight, to avoid the last minute free-for-all and regular travelers are rewarded too, with a range of benefits through the airline’s loyalty scheme, ‘Vantage Club’. May 6, 2005

Northwest Airlines to scrap free pretzels on domestic flights. Northwest Airlines will stop serving free pretzels on domestic flights as of June 9. The move will save the airline $2 million a year, a spokesman said. May 31, 2005

Union: Northwest plans to shed mechanics jobs, cut pay. Northwest Airlines hopes to cut 2,840 mechanics positions and lower wages by nearly 26%, according to the union representing the workers. Northwest declined to comment. Northwest has indicated it may outsource work to save money and it must bring its pay scale closer to that of United Airlines to remain competitive. May 23, 2005

The mile-high life. Northwest Airlines announced it will replace Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light with Miller Brewing’s Miller Lite on flights throughout its system. Budweiser will continue to be offered by the airline. May 4, 2005

Commentary: Northwest struggles to improve customer service as it cuts costs. Northwest Airlines is struggling to improve its customer service, Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes writes. The airline is reminding customer service agents that passengers could choose to fly on competing airlines. At the same time, it recognizes that employees have taken large pay cuts and are worried that their jobs may be eliminated. May 2, 2005

Norwegian, the Scandinavian budget carrier, is further bolstering its UK services this winter. The airline, which offers flights from Stansted to Oslo Gardermoen, Bergen and Trondheim, will now operate 27 flights a week on the routes – up from 23 in the current timetable. Flights from Stansted – Oslo Gardermoen will be enhanced to two a day. Stansted to Bergen will be daily and Stansted to Trondheim will operate every day bar Tuesday. The decision comes as remarkable figures show a 47% increase in passengers – from 163,000 in the month of April 2004 to 238,000 in April 2005. Norwegian serves ten domestic and 22 international destinations. International traffic in April doubled. May 13, 2005

Onur Air, the Turkish airline, has resolved its licensing problems with various national authorities in western Europe and resumed flights to the countries that withdrew its landing rights two weeks ago amid safety concerns. The airline, established in 1992, is adamant that it did nothing wrong but it all seems to be water under the bridge with the carrier very active in moving fans to and from Istanbul for the European Champions match. May 27, 2005

Onur Air, the long established Turkish charter carrier, has been banned from Amsterdam for the time being after an aborted takeoff last week. This follows another incident when an aircraft carrying Dutch leisure travelers was forced to turn back due to engine trouble. The Dutch authorities are adamant that the airline stays away from Schiphol until safety procedures are improved whilst the carrier says that the complaints are unjustified. The German authorities have also made a ban, whilst the Turks have turned away an Air Berlin aircraft. With the exception of four MD-88 Onur Air operates an exclusive Airbus fleet carrying 1.4m passengers annually. May 13, 2005

Former Pan Am chief executive Seawell dies at 87. Brig. Gen. William Thomas Seawell, the former chief executive of Pan American World Airways, died Friday at age 87, the New York Times reports. Seawell joined Pan Am in 1971 as president and chief operating officer after a stint at American Airlines. He was named chairman and chief executive in 1972. May 24, 2005

Qatar Airways is to offer the use of VIP lounges for first and business class passengers arriving at Heathrow and Gatwick from Doha. Passengers at Heathrow will be invited to take advantage of United Airline’s suite close to the arrivals area in Terminal 3, one of the newest and largest of its kind at the airport. The Continental President’s Club lounge will be available at Gatwick, accessible by lift in the South Terminal, immediately after customs. This new facility complements the new business class seat currently being introduced to Qatar Airways’ entire fleet of Airbus A330s. The new seat features a 60-inch pitch that provides passengers with greater legroom and a two-meter sleeping space when converted into bed mode. At its Doha hub, the airline has been celebrating the lifting into place of the roof arches for its new Airbus A380 hangar. When complete the hangar will measure 155m in length, 135m wide and 35m high. May 6, 2005

Ryanair is to introduce five new routes to Poland and Slovakia. From 30 October 30, the airline will operate daily flights from its main base at Stansted to Gdansk, Bydgoszcz, Szczecin and Rzeszow in Poland and a twice-daily route to Bratislava (Slovakia) which, strange for the airline, has not been renamed after the nearby city of Vienna. One airline wag, perhaps cheesed off with Ryanair’s cheap fare claims, had this to say after a briefing. “Ryanair may offer cheap basic fares but they are the most expensive airline in Europe for luggage. All you get is a 15 kilo allowance and a charge of [pounds sterling]4.50 per kilo in excess”. Most airlines have standardized at 20 kilo. May 20, 2005

Skyeurope Airlines, one of a number of emerging central European budget carriers and headquartered in Bratislava (Slovakia), could be taking as many as 32 Next-Generation Boeing 737 aircraft. The airline announced last week a plan to purchase and lease 16 new Boeings with options on 16 more. They will all be equipped with performance-enhancing Blended Winglets and are projected for delivery by 2007. SkyEurope operates a route network of 19 destinations in 12 countries from its bases in Krakow, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava (for Vienna). May 13, 2005

Delta’s Song to promote new album in joint venture. Delta Air Lines’ low-cost Song carrier will start promoting a new album by the rock band Better Than Ezra, the Wall Street Journal reports. Song Records will release the album, which is a joint effort between Song, Artemis Records and Creative Branding Group. The agreement is part of Song’s effort to distinguish itself from other airlines. May 26, 2005

Song, Delta Air Lines’ high-style, low-fare air service, was named “Best In-Flight Service” in Reader’s Digest’s “America s 100 Best” May issue, which hit newsstands on April 19. Song was praised for its wide variety of on-board amenities, including Song s innovative in-flight entertainment system with personal seatback video monitors at every seat that provide: 24 channels of live, DISH Network television free; 24 channels of audio programming; digitally-streamed MP3 programming that allows customers to create individual play lists of 32 songs at their seat, from an inventory of more than 1,600 songs free; 10 pay-per-view movies available on-demand, allowing customers to start and stop the film at their leisure; 11 video games; and a popular interactive trivia game that allows passengers to compete against one another. Song’s exclusive on-board menu features healthy, organic food options, as well as a few indulgences such as Song’s signature cocktails. May 9, 2005

Song’s marketing chief says airline could overtake JetBlue. The marketing chief of Delta Air Lines’ low-cost Song airline expects her carrier to pass JetBlue in a few years. In an interview with Time, Joanne Smith touted the airline’s food offerings and in-flight entertainment system. She flies Song at least once a month and said executives work alongside Song flight attendants at least four times a year, pushing carts and selling food. May 6, 2005

Song, Delta Air Lines’ low-fare air service, has gone long haul with the introduction last week of a nonstop, coast-to-coast service between New York’s Kennedy (JFK) and Los Angeles International (LAX) airports. Whilst promoted as a budget operation, Song is singing about its branded signature beverage service featuring “Smooth Landing” – Grey Goose Vodka, Pineapple Pucker and pineapple; “The Take Off” – Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth and a cherry and the “The Red Eye” – Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka and Mr. T’s B Mary. Song will initially offer three daily nonstop, roundtrip flights between JFK and LAX, with seven operating by 18 June. The airline’s new service features, personal seatback video monitors that provide 24 channels of live, DISH Network television; digitally streamed MP3 programming allowing customers to create individual play lists of 32 songs at their seat from an inventory of more than 1,600 songs; ten movies available on-demand, allowing customers to start and stop the film at their leisure; 11 video games; and a popular interactive trivia game that allows passengers to compete against one another. May 6, 2005

Pilots urge Congress to lift mandatory retirement age to 65. Airline pilots and the chairman of Southwest Airlines on Wednesday asked lawmakers to boost the mandatory pilot retirement age to 65, Bloomberg News reports. The retirement age is 60. Southwest chairman Herb Kelleher said many pilots over 60 would be “perfectly safe and totally competent if they were able to fly in our cockpits today.” May 27, 2005

Southwest not interested in acquiring a rival carrier. One analyst said discounter Southwest Airlines may make a competing bid for US Airways, the Beaver County Times reports. In response, the company said it plans to continue growing but said it is not interested in acquiring another airline. US Airways and America West Airlines recently announced plans to merge. May 24, 2005

Southwest asks workers to spread the word about Wright law. Southwest Airlines officials have asked airline employees to talk to at least two people outside the airline each day about the possible repeal of the Wright Amendment, the Dallas Morning News reports. The airline launched a new phase of its effort to get the law repealed on Thursday. The Wright Amendment limits flights out of Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a large hub. American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport oppose changing the law. May 6, 2005

Southwest launches campaign for Wright repeal today. Southwest Airlines will kick off its campaign to repeal the Wright Amendment with an employee rally today, the Dallas Morning News reports. The law limits flights out of Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a large hub. The airline wants the law changed so it can grow at the airport. American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport believe the law should stay in place. May 5, 2005

Southwest starts Pittsburgh service, may add more flights. Southwest Airlines started service in Pittsburgh today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The airline will operate 10 daily flights and will compete with US Airways. Southwest chief executive officer Gary Kelly said the airline will add more flights if the service becomes popular. May 4, 2005

Southwest launches Web site supporting repeal of Wright law: Southwest Airlines is working to have the Wright Amendment repealed and last week launched a Web site, The airline is asking travelers to help fight the law, which limits flights at Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a major hub. American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport oppose changing the Wright Amendment. May 10, 2005

Spicejet India’s latest budget airline, took to the air on 23 May. The new carrier is a subsidiary of Royal Airways, an Indian listed company, which formerly traded under the name of Modiluft. It will initially fly from Delhi to Mumbai via Ahmedabad and subsequently add Bangalore, Goa and Pune. The airline begins with three new 189-seat Boeing 737-800s, adding 20 new Boeings by the end of 2006. Spicejet is the latest in a whole series of Indian low fare airlines to take off over the last few months including Kingfisher (of beer fame), and the week previous and Air India Express. Those already established include Air Sahara, Deccan and Jet Airways. May 27, 2005

Ted hits the streets in search of spokesman. The budget carrier, part of United Airlines, is launching a TV ad campaign depicting its search for a spokesman. The humorous 30-second spots show people vying for the job in street auditions, including an elderly man dancing outside a casino. May 24, 2005

U.S. Airways, predicted by many to be the first American airline to actually fail in recent times appears to be saved following a merger with America West, itself not the most financially stable of carriers. The two companies owe a combined $1bn to the Federal Air Transportation Stabilization Board, which provided government-backed loans to airlines in the aftermath of the industry crisis precipitated by the 2001 terror attacks. America West chief executive W. Douglas Parker takes over the role of the combined company which will trade under the US Airways brand. For the most part the two airlines provide complementary operations, US Airways mainly to the east and America West self-descriptive. The transaction is expected to be funded with about $1.5bn in new capital including a sizable amount from Airbus. The airline expects $600m in cost savings through route restructuring and cost savings. May 20, 2005

United will return jets to leasing firms: United Airlines will return four Boeing 767-300 jetliners to lessors because the parties could not agree to new rental agreements, the Wall Street Journal reports. The airline continues to negotiate terms on four additional aircraft.

May 31, 2005

US Airways Vacations starts program for home-based agents: A new US Airways Vacations program will offer additional commission and fam trips to home-based agents. The program, which will give agents two levels to choose from, also provides training opportunities for all participants. May 10, 2005

Virgin Atlantic Airways is to launch services to both Dubai and Montego Bay (Jamaica) next year, together with extra flights to Mumbai. This will bring the airline’s total number of destinations to 28. Services between Heathrow and Mumbai will increase from three a week to daily from December 2005. The Heathrow – Dubai operation begins in April 2006 and will be flown with Airbus A340-600 aircraft. The services between Gatwick and Jamaica will be twice weekly on a Boeing 747-400 aircraft from July 2006. The airline has also published its results for the 12 months ending 28 February 2005 which show a pretax profit of [pounds sterling]68m on a turnover of [pounds sterling]1.630bn. This is the highest profit figure since 1999. Last year’s results showed a plus of [pounds sterling]20.9m on a turnover of [pounds sterling]1.272bn for the ten months ended 29 February 2004. During the financial year Virgin Atlantic flew 4.4m passengers, up 30% from 3.4m from the previous reporting period. May 27, 2005

Port Harcourt, linked nonstop from London by a three times per week Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 service, will have a much needed choice of hotels from 2006. A new Holiday Inn is to open, managed by the brand owner InterContinental Hotels Group. Often with operations of this kind a local company takes over the running of the hotel but in this case InterContinental will oversee the day-to-day operation. The hotel will feature 80 rooms. Port Harcourt is the center of Nigeria’s thriving oil export business but is not known as one of the world’s most hospitable places. May 20, 2005

Virgin Pets, or at least pets owned by Virgin Atlantic customers, will be able to earn gifts for themselves and frequent flyer points for their owner following the launch of the airline’s ‘Flying Paws’ reward scheme. The format not only caters for posh pooches and fussy felines but ferrets also qualify! The jet-setting pets on their very first ‘Virgin’ flight will be given a welcome onboard pet pack, which has been specially designed with their needs in mind. Dogs will be given an exclusive Virgin doggy t-shirt and sparkling dog tag, cats will receive a toy mouse called ‘Red’ and a Virgin collar tag and ferrets will receive a very cool limited edition flying jacket and collar tag. All pets that travel on the ‘Passport for Pets’ scheme will be given a passport which will not only give them a record of all their flights but also allows them to collect ‘paw prints’ which they will be able to redeem for their gifts. Readers will note that Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson adhered to the old adage “don’t compete with children and animals”. Readers who travel at the back end of Virgin flights should direct comments about “dogs being looked after better” to the airline. In fact “Y” class passengers are accommodated by the airline. More details from May 20, 2005

Poznam, in Poland, which is about halfway between Berlin and Warsaw, and until now not joined directly to London by air, is to have direct nonstop services from 18 September with a four times per week operation to Luton. Wizz Air, which claims to be Poland’s largest budget airline says that the success of the Katowice – Luton route was a major factor in the establishment of the new operation. The airline, which flies the Airbus A320, says it is considering other new flights to and from Poznam. May 6, 2005

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