February 25, 2011

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Slick

Image courtesy of njtrippe on Flickr

Central to everyone’s concerns in the airline industry this week is oil. Sadly, we’re not talking about tanning oil. Of course, as human beings we’re most concerned about the safety of everyone living amongst the unrest in Northern Africa and The Middle East, but the rapidly rising prices of oil due to the tension abroad is making companies and individuals everywhere worried.

To help offset the price of fuel, airlines are raising ticket prices (though an article this week also blames Uncle Sam for increased taxes on plane tickets). In addition to increasing fares are decreasing shares. An even more direct result of the tension is that Benghazi airport in Libya was actually destroyed. And EgyptAir is trying to rent out its excess aircraft to offset the losses it incurred from the unrest there.

At this point in the winter after we’ve braved more than a handful of disruptive weather events, it’s painful to mention that yet another storm hit the northern part of the U.S. this week, putting a wrench in air travel. To add to the cheery news this week, outlets reported that commercial aircraft deaths are up 15% worldwide over last year (though it’s important to note that there were no deaths in the U.S. in the past year and the overall safety rating for air travel was the highest ever in 2010).

Also this week, Republic Airways Holdings, operator of Frontier, announced a fourth quarter loss, while conversely SkyWest is seeing profits from its acquisition of ExpressJet. Delta is buying slots at London’s Heathrow to grow its presence there, and the U.S. Senate has agreed to add flights from Washington D.C.’s National Airport to the Western portion of the country. And American is ordering more 777-300s in efforts to boost its international growth. There was talk this week that conjoined airlines British Airways and Iberia are considering buying a low-cost carrier to help connect the dots on short-haul routes.

US Airways flight attendants protested contract delays by taking to the streets (or rather, to the terminals), Air Canada airport agents are in labor talks, while American Airlines this week recalled 200 furloughed employees, and a Piedmont Airlines employee in Charlotte, North Carolina lost tarmac access after he was caught by security cameras hopping a fence without his security badge. Unrelated, the recent engine failure on Delta is rare, says an article this week, which asserts that the track record of plane engines is actually better than most car engines.

More generally, an article published this week points out that employment at airlines rose this December for the first time in two years. Good for customers, competition (due in large part to us, you’re welcome) is helping to keep ticket prices low at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Southwest announced this week that it will be revamping and relaunching its new loyalty program, and there’s talk that a new charter airline out of Las Vegas will offer enviable inflight entertainment, including holograms. Speaking of unique, Boeing has proposed a vibrating alert system for cockpits. According to the article, “The module would be mounted beneath the pilot’s seat…a mechanism comprised of two travelling probes capable of vibrating at various amplitudes…” Vibrating probes mounted beneath the seat, you say? They said it first, not us.

In Blue land this week, we were recognized for our achievements in technology by Computerworld Magazine, asked people to vote for us as an About.com Reader’s Choice Finalist, and announced the rise of our fearless leader Jenny Dervin to VP Corporate Communications (excessive celebrating to follow).

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

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