Headline News

Headline News

The American Stock Exchange’s Airline Index rebounded from a sharp downturn on Oct. 5 2004, climbing 1.6 percent to 44.61 points in recent activity. Although low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways Inc. reported higher September traffic, the company’s overall plane occupancy declined 3.6 percentage points to 76.6 percent, JetBlue said Wednesday. Shares were recently up 14 cents, or less than 1 percent, at $21.24 on the Nasdaq. Investors pulled back from U.S. Airways Group Inc. ahead of news that its pilots’ union will vote on a new contract with as much as $300 million in concessions, including an 18 percent pay cut. U.S. Airways last month filed for its second bankruptcy in four years, and is seeking about $1 billion in annual savings as the carrier attempts to reformat as a low-cost airline. Its shares fell 13 percent, or 18 cents, to $1.20 recently on the bulletin-board exchange. Oct 6, 2004

Airline stocks moved higher Oct. 1 2004 after US Airways Group Inc. moved closer to a deal with its pilots, which is needed to keep the carrier aloft. The American Stock Exchange Airline Index rose 1.13 points, or 2.64 percent, to $43.95. Delta Airlines Inc., which rose 16 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $3.45, was a winner on the day. American Airlines-parent AMR Corp. was up 24 cents, or 3.3 percent, to close at $7.57. Jet Blue Airways Corp. ended the regular session up 73 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $21.65. Oct 1, 2004

According to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued on Oct. 5 2004 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Hawaiian Airlines ranked for the 10th consecutive month, as the nation’s most punctual airline in August 2004 with an incredible 95.5 percent of its flights arriving on time.

Air Travel Consumer Report On-Time Performance – August 2004

Rank – Airline – % Arr. within 15 min

1. Hawaiian Airlines 95.5

2. SkyWest Airlines 86.2

3. Continental Airlines 81.3

4. Northwest Airlines 81.2

5. ATA Airlines 80.7

6. AirTran Airways 80.7

7. Atlantic Southeast Airlines 80.6

8. United Airlines 80.1

9. ExpressJet Airlines 79.3

10. Comair 79.2

11. Atlantic Coast Airlines 77.7

12. Southwest Airlines 77.4

13. Alaska Airlines 77.2

14. Delta Air Lines 76.2

15. US Airways 75.6

16. JetBlue Airways 75.4

17. America West Airlines 74.9

18. American Eagle Airlines 74.0

19. American Airlines 73.5

Total Average 78.3

In addition, Hawaiian finished #1 among airlines nationwide for its handling of customers’ luggage, and for recording the fewest number of flight cancellations. Hawaii’s biggest and longest-serving airline also ranked highly with the fewest number of consumer complaints.

Hawaiian’s industry-best punctuality was just one facet to its customer service record for August, as the company also ranked at the top in the other categories reported by DOT for mishandled baggage reports, flight cancellations, and consumer complaints. For the second straight month, Hawaiian topped all carriers nationally with its handling of customers’ luggage, recording only 2.41 mishandled baggage reports per 1,000 passengers served. The company also had the nation’s best record in terms of fewest flight cancellations. Out of Hawaiian’s 4,469 flights in August, only 0.4 percent, or 19 flights total, were canceled, topping all other carriers. Hawaiian ranked as the industry’s fifth-best airline in terms of consumer complaints, with the DOT receiving only two complaints, the fewest of any airline, out of the 512,770 passengers served in August, representing just 0.39 complaints for every 100,000 passengers. Dunkerley noted, “No airline anywhere is doing a better job at serving its passengers.” The DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report for August is available online at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/reports/atcr04.htm Oct 1, 2004

Aer Lingus has introduced a simpler, more consistent fare structure” for travel to and from the United States. No roundtrip purchase is required, the typical Saturday night stay over rule and the maximum six-month stay requirement have been eliminated, and any weekend surcharges are gone. In addition, itinerary changes are permitted for $30 a segment, and even name changes are allowed for $60. Effectively immediately, Aer Lingus has also reduced economy fares by 20-30 percent, and closed the gap between its highest and lowest fares. The highest walkup one-way economy fare is now $503, compared with $838 previously. In addition, Aer Lingus is now offering business class travel at rates more akin to economy levels. For example, the one-way business fare from New York or Boston to Shannon and Dublin via Shannon is now $1,104, a 50 percent reduction, while the one-way business fare for nonstop New York to Dubin routing is now $1,304, a 43 percent reduction in that fare. Other one-way business fares to Ireland from Chicago and Los Angeles are now $1,504, 50-60 percent savings over the previous one-way business fares in those markets. Aer Lingus also says flyers traveling on those one-way business fares can also continue to use all in-flight and airport lounge services as normal. Sep 30, 2004

Air Canada has finally come out of bankruptcy protection and its shares are due to be traded on the Toronto Stock Market from today. It is now mainly owned by its debtors with the original shareholders getting virtually nothing. The slimmed down AC now has 33,000 staff, down from 40,000 18 months back, and around 290 aircraft, reduced from 366 at the same time. However the next few months are going to be very difficult for the airline and its Jazz regional subsidiary, the back end of the year traditionally a poor trading period. http://www.canada.ca Oct 4, 2004

Air Canada announced that it has successfully completed its restructuring process and is exiting from Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection. The line says it now has reduced operating costs, a strengthened balance sheet, a reorganized corporate structure and a fleet renewal and commercial strategy. Air Canada said it is now well positioned to generate positive operating income and cash flow and has reduced its net debt and capitalized operating lease obligations from approximately $12 billion to less than $5 billion. In addition, the Corporation has raised $1.1 billion of new equity capital and, as of today, has approximately $1.9 billion of cash on hand. Oct 1, 2004

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings reported its passenger traffic for the month of September 2004. The airline reports that traffic and available seat miles for September 2004 were negatively impacted by the series of hurricanes that struck the southeastern United States during the month. Based on RPMs, traffic grew by 4.5 percent, to more than 549 million RPMs, on an increase of 10.7 percent in capacity, based on available seat miles (ASMs). September’s load factor was 59.8 percent compared to 63.4 percent in September 2003. The airline also enplaned 866,365 passengers in the month of September, a 0.4 percent increase over September 2003. For the third quarter of 2004, traffic grew by 9.3 percent on an increase of 14.5 percent in capacity as compared to the third quarter of 2003. Load factor for the third quarter was 70.1 percent. Year-to-date 2004 traffic grew 17.3 percent on a capacity increase of 17.7 percent while load factor was 71.3 percent. The airline served a record 3.3 million customers, up 6.2 percent over third quarter 2003. For the first nine months of this year, more than 9.7 million customers were served, an increase of 12.4 percent over the first nine months of 2003. Oct 1, 2004

AirTran Airways launched a sale for flights to all of the airline’s destinations with fares starting as low as $39 each way. Travelers may purchase these sale fares at http://www.airtran.com, through travel agents or via AirTran Airways’ reservations system at 1-800-AIR-TRAN. For Spanish, call 1-877-581-9842. These special fares are available for purchase September 28, through October 1, 2004, are good for travel through February 2, 2005, and are not valid for travel on Sundays. Like all AirTran Airways fares, prices included in this sale are one-way tickets and do not require a roundtrip purchase or a Saturday night stay. Sep 28, 2004

America West Airlines announced that effective Oct. 1 2004, all passengers must obtain boarding passes prior to proceeding to airport gate areas. The airline is implementing the policy in compliance with an industrywide Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive that calls for the measure to be in place by mid-October. Since America West already provides several easy ways to obtain boarding passes, the airline’s customers will continue to enjoy the convenient check-in process they have come to expect when traveling with the airline. Sep 28, 2004

American Airlines announced a special opportunity to make travel planning easier for customers. With the American Airlines Credit Card program, you can fly now and pay later thanks to the card’s “90 days same-as-cash” offer. And with a low purchase threshold of just $199 to qualify for the same-as-cash offer, that next special getaway will be easier than ever to take. There’s never been a better time to enroll in this unique program. The American Airlines Credit Card is a no annual fee, private label credit card that can be used to purchase American Airlines tickets, American Airlines Vacations packages, Admirals Club memberships, and American Airlines Incentive TrAAvel flight certificates and gift certificates. And the card provides access to ATMs worldwide for emergency cash, too. Even trips on oneworld Alliance partners and other airlines can be purchased with the American Airlines Credit Card if one segment of travel is on American. Sep 29, 2004

ATA Airlines, the principal subsidiary of ATA Holdings Corp. reported that September 2004 jet scheduled service traffic increased 4.0 percent from 2003 to 862.4 million RPMs (revenue passenger miles). Capacity decreased 8.5 percent compared to 2003 to 1.2 billion ASMs (available seat miles), causing ATA’s September jet scheduled service passenger load factor to increase 8.5 points to 70.7 percent. There were 687,287 passengers enplaned in September, an increase of 2.9 percent. ATA enplaned 7,846,054 passengers in the nine months ending September 30, 2004. Oct 6, 2004

Cendant Corporation has agreed to acquire all shares of Orbitz for $27.50 per share in cash or approximately $1.25 billion. The addition expands Cendant’s Travel Distribution Services (TDS) division, which includes CheapTickets. The firm will continue to maintain Orbitz and CheapTickets as separate brands in the leisure travel sector. On the business travel side, plans call for Orbitz and Travelport to combine technology platforms and operations to form a common platform. The transaction is slated for completion in November at which point Cendant TDS will have 22 percent market share of the online travel industry. Sep 29, 2004

Continental Airlines reported a September 2004 consolidated (mainline plus regional) load factor of 74.5 percent, 2.8 points above last year’s September consolidated load factor. The carrier reported a mainline load factor of 75.2 percent, 2.9 points above last year’s September mainline load factor and a domestic mainline load factor of 74.3 percent, 3.0 points above September 2003. All three were operational records for September. In addition, the airline had an international mainline September load factor of 76.4 percent, 2.6 points above September 2003. Oct 1, 2004

Delta Air Lines reported traffic results for the month of September 2004. System traffic for September 2004 increased 8.6 percent from September 2003 on a capacity increase of 4.6 percent. Delta’s system load factor was 70.5 percent in September 2004, up 2.7 points from the same period last year. “Delta’s financial performance continued to deteriorate during the September quarter as a result of a decline in domestic yields and fuel prices that climbed to record high levels,” said Gerald Grinstein, Delta’s chief executive officer. “In addition, our operations were negatively impacted by four major hurricanes during the quarter.” Domestic traffic in September 2004 increased 6.3 percent year over year while capacity increased 2.0 percent. Domestic load factor in September 2004 was 68.1 percent, up 2.8 points from the same period one year ago. International traffic in September 2004 increased 15.6 percent year over year on a 13.7 percent increase in capacity. International load factor was 78.0 percent, up 1.3 points from September 2003. During September 2004, Delta operated its schedule at a 94.7 percent completion rate, compared to 99.0 percent in September 2003. Delta boarded 8,060,346 passengers during the month of September 2004, an increase of 1.8 percent from September 2003. Oct 6, 2004

Delta Air Lines led shares of U.S. airlines to higher ground in Wednesday trading activity as the industry received a lift on news that bankrupt UAL Corp. will scale back its domestic service in favor of increasing international routes. UAL, parent of No. 2 United Airlines, said it would reduce the number of U.S. flights while boosting capacity on more profitable overseas flights by 14 percent in an effort to trim expenses after nearly two years of bankruptcy. The company also plans to pare its fleet to 455 planes, which is 68 less than the carrier flew in August and almost 20 percent, or 112 aircraft, less than it had in 2002, as it heads toward a goal of generating about $5 billion in cost savings by 2005. Shares of UAL sank 1.9 percent, or 2 cents, to $1.02 during recent trading on the bulletin-board exchange. Meanwhile, major U.S. carriers soared though the price of crude oil lingered just above the $51 mark, up 8 cents at $51.01 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Delta, whose executives last week took a 10 percent pay cut to help avoid bankruptcy, saw the biggest gain on the day, rising 9 percent, or 32 cents, to $3.87 on slightly below-average volume. Northwest Airlines Corp. rose 1.4 percent, or 12 cents, to $8.54, American Airlines parent AMR Corp. advanced 3 cents to $7.44 and Continental Airlines Inc. rose 13 cents to $8.88. Oct 6, 2004

ExpressJet Holdings announced tentative agreement with its pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). Negotiations began in July 2002 and the parties have been in mediated sessions since February 2003 with National Mediation Board. The tentative agreement will require ratification by a vote of the approximately 2,100 ALPA members. ExpressJet Airlines, Inc. operates as Continental Express, the small-jet provider for Continental Airlines. With service to approximately 140 destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, ExpressJet operates all of Continental’s small-jet service from its hubs in Houston, New York/Newark and Cleveland. ExpressJet passengers receive efficient service and comfortable leather seating, along with advance seat assignments and OnePass frequent flyer miles that can be redeemed on Continental and partner airlines. ExpressJet Airlines employs approximately 6,500 people and is owned by ExpressJet Holdings, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.expressjet.com Oct 6, 2004

LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, and the world’s largest provider of satellite delivered entertainment to commercial aircraft, completed installation of the LiveTV in-flight satellite television system on its 100th aircraft, a WestJet 737-700 tail number 220. LiveTV was the first company to provide in-seat satellite television to commercial airlines, launching its DIRECTV service on low- fare carrier JetBlue Airways in 2000. Today more than 14,500 airline seats are equipped with LiveTV’s system, providing the At Home In The Air entertainment experience to more than 70,000 travelers every day. LiveTV expects to be providing entertainment on over 400 aircraft within the next two years. Sep 28, 2004

Low-fare airline Independence Air celebrated its first major customer milestone by welcoming customer number 1,000,000 aboard flight 1535 from Dayton to Washington Dulles. The one millionth customer to fly with Independence Air was Kettering, OH resident Nick Coorough, Executive Director of the Riverside Research Institute who was on his way to Washington to attend a business meeting with potential new customers. Following his flight he said, “This is my second experience with Independence Air, and I really love flying with you, your aircraft and service are excellent and your employees are the greatest.” He added, “I typically fly once or twice a week, and used to pay over $800 to get to Washington, but now I can fly Independence Air for under $150 roundtrip. My organization has 230 employees, including 80 in Dayton, and I’ve told all of them to fly Independence Air whenever they can. You’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of us in the future.” Oct 4, 2004

Northwest Airlines announced that it will launch its first flight between San Francisco and its Tokyo hub using its new Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Northwest, the first and only U.S.-based airline to fly the A330-200, will operate the aircraft on flight 27 departing this afternoon from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). “The start of Northwest A330 service between San Francisco and Tokyo offers travelers a new level of in-flight comfort and entertainment,” said Laura Liu, vice president of international marketing and sales. “These product enhancements will provide travelers between the Bay area, our Tokyo hub and the many destinations we serve in the Asia/Pacific region with amenities that exceed what’s offered by any other U.S. airline.” Northwest’s long-range 243-passenger A330-200s are equipped with 32 of its new World Business Class lie-flat seats, 211 redesigned seats in coach class, and a new entertainment system in both cabins that Northwest was the first North American airline to offer. The aircraft also features Airbus’ enhanced interior design and according to Airbus, the quietest long-haul cabin in the air. Oct 1, 2004

United Airlines, increasingly squeezed by discount carriers in the U.S. market, is cutting back its domestic flight schedule and expanding its international presence in the push to become profitable again. The change in focus announced Wednesday means the world’s second-largest carrier will be offering slightly fewer departures per market in the United States and flying more regional jets as it reduces its domestic capacity 12 percent by March 2005. International capacity will be boosted by 14 percent as United looks to its more lucrative overseas routes, particularly those to China, Japan and Vietnam, to help it return to profitability after four straight years of losses. Intent on slashing costs further to try to end its 22-month stay in bankruptcy, United said the moves will reduce overall capacity by 3 percent and shrink its fleet to 455 aircraft by next March, down from 523 in August and nearly 20 percent since 2002. “Fundamental changes in our industry, including ongoing high fuel costs, intense pricing pressure and continuing overcapacity, demand that we take aggressive steps now in implementing this plan to ensure that United remains competitive,” said Glenn Tilton, CEO of United and parent company UAL Corp. With the changes, international operations would account for more than 40 percent of United’s capacity and slightly over half of its revenue. The moves come with United and other large “legacy” carriers continuing to lose ground to discount carriers like JetBlue Airways Corp. and Southwest Airlines Inc. whose lower costs enable them to offer cheap fares that make little economic sense for the biggest airlines. Oct 6, 2004

The biggest boost for the battered sector came as US Airways and its pilots’ union agreed on a new labor contract a week after the carrier asked a bankruptcy judge to impose pay cuts. The airline said it struck a tentative deal that could save it some $300 million in costs. “This is a major step forward for our company, its employees, customers and all other stakeholders,” airline president Bruce R. Lakefield said in the statement. The company did not disclose further details, instead waiting for the Air Line Pilots Association to speak with its members. The agreement gave investors hope the industry might be headed for recovery. Mesa Air Group Inc. — which operates some regional flights on behalf of US Airways — said members of its senior management will cut their salaries by 23 percent. The savings will help US Airways restructure the company, Mesa said in a statement. Further, Mesa said it plans to ask its US Airways Express workers to agree to a deferral of up to 23 percent of their salaries. All proceeds would be credited to US Airways and repaid upon its emergence from bankruptcy. Mesa stock closed up 15 cents, or 3 percent, to $5.25 on the Nasdaq. Elsewhere in the sector, Northwest Airlines Corp. chief executive Richard Anderson resigned in order to take a top spot at UnitedHealth Group Inc. Anderson will become executive vice president at the health care insurer effective Nov. 1. He will be replaced by Doug Steenland, who is currently the company’s president. Shares of Northwest rose 34 cents, or 4.1 percent, to close at $8.55, gaining an additional 3 cents after the bell. Oct 1, 2004

US Airways and the negotiating committee for the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), representing approximately 3,200 US Airways pilots, reached a tentative agreement that should save the company $300 million annually and move US Airways another step closer to implementing a bankruptcy restructuring plan. Details of the agreement have not been disclosed pending ALPA?s communication of the agreement to its members. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) dispatchers have already ratified their cost-saving agreement and the airline has reached tentative agreements with the other two TWU units (flight crew training instructors and flight simulator engineers). The company continues negotiations with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and Communications Workers of America (CWA). Talks with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) are scheduled to resume next week. Oct 1, 2004

Virgin Nigeria has been formally announced, with Nigerian institutions taking 51% and Virgin Atlantic the balance. With a startup date yet to be announced, but thought to be early next year, the new airline will initially concentrate on domestic and regional routes. Clearly there will be a feed from Virgin Atlantic’s Lagos and Port Harcourt services from London. The importance of the new operation was highlighted by the personal appearance at the announcement of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Virgin involvement will bring back credibility to the Nigerian airline system, severely dented by the failure of Nigeria Airways last year. http://www.virgin.com Oct 4, 2004

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