January 21, 2011

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Cashing Out

Image courtesy of morberg on FlickrSome weeks have the distinctive feel of “beginning” or “end”; of triumph or defeat. This week in the airline industry, many companies announced their fourth quarter and annual earnings, letting the world know — and investors — what the next year will look and feel like.

Southwest this week announced close to a half billion dollar profit for 2010, while American told of its close to $100 million loss in the fourth quarter. Delta meanwhile saw its first fourth quarter profit since the year of the flood (OK, it was only back in 2000) and has ordered some 200 new planes, perhaps as a result of its good balance sheet, and Alaska reportedly has the healthiest numbers in the industry. Conversely, easyJet’s shares are plummeting with news that it could double its half-year losses.

Speaking of ordering planes, Airbus said this week that it’s optimistic about increased production for 2011. United Continental is eying new jets, Virgin America placed a big order for 60 new A320s this week, and Vision Airlines announced its expansion in the Southeast.

In more heartwarming airline news this week, the CFO of Republic (which runs Frontier Airlines) had an eye-opening experience after he went on TV show Undercover Boss, and realized that a lot of the protocol the airline had in place was not efficient (making a CEO scrub a toilet is bound to be a wake-up call of some variety). Hollywood stud Matt Dillon reportedly helped a sick airline passenger this week in yet another case of the rich and famous committing humbling acts of conscience-bearing good will. And a pilot held up a plane to wait for a grandpa so that he could make it to say goodbye to his dying grandson. It’s likely that precipitous karma from the two-year anniversary this week of Captain Sully’s “miracle on the Hudson” landing made the aforementioned acts of kindness possible.

Air Transport World named our friends over at Emirates the airline of the year, Obama eased travel restrictions to Cuba, and Middle East Airlines is joining the global carrier alliance, SkyTeam. The TSA closed in on a deadline of December 2011 for making sure all cargo gets screened.

In less nice news, loyal Southwest customers this week are saying the airline blew it when it launched its new frequent flier program (we’re flattered it resembles ours). Unrelated, Lufthansa and Emirates are at loggerheads over slots at Berlin’s new airport (we don’t take sides, we love both our partners equally). And another one of our partners, Aer Lingus, is involved in a spat this week with its cabin crew that is now affecting thousands of passengers.

Also this week, a judge ruled that Ryanair’s attempt at charging for boarding passes was illegal, US Airways pilots picketed in Charlotte, the CIA-trained terrorist responsible for the death of 74 people in the 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing is in court this week, and United Continental is suing Chicago’s main O’Hare airport with claims that it should seek airline approval for its $3.36 billion Modernization Program.

In JetBlue news this week, we announced our spiffy new look and some cool new features for our Getaways vacation packages, commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, prepared for more winter weather, and rocked out at T5 with singer-songwriter James Blunt as part of our Live From T5 Concert Series at JFK.

As always, safe travels and have a great weekend. Thanks for reading!

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