March 4, 2011

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Up, Up and Away!

The airline industry saw a good deal of action this week, from ongoing tension in the Middle East (and the not unrelated soaring oil prices), to consolidation announcements and new digs. The Bahamas is preparing for its new U.S. departures terminal while our partners over at Lufthansa showed off its new A380 service out of JFK and also showed off its first class First Class terminal in Frankfurt. Dubai, meanwhile edged past Frankfurt to become the fourth largest airport in terms of passenger volume. Emirates also trumped pre-merged United this week to become the world’s third largest carrier based on capacity.

American Airlines was fined by the FAA this week for charging fees, while rising oil prices and measles are getting plenty of people down. Continental will stop plans to start service to Cairo, a jury in London convicted a British Airways employee in a bomb plot, and a Logan airport worker got caught trying to pose as an air marshal.

A bill proposed in New Hampshire  may find pat-downs illegal, Mexico suspends its sale of Mexicana Airlines this week, and a glitch in Southwest’s system caused hundreds of delays. IATA released some pretty grim news about anticipated airline profits in the face of fuel costs, and FBI is cracking down on pranksters aiming laser pointers at pilots in flight.

The Department of Homeland Security meanwhile is planning to test a portable DNA screener this summer, and the FAA approved iPads for pilots use of electronic charts in the cockpit.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said this week that the airline’s planned merger with AirTran is “imperative” to the future success of the company, while WestJet and American this week signed a code-share agreement. Middle East Airlines joined the SkyTeam Alliance this week, the newly joined United Continental started rebranding efforts this week, and Brazil approved TAM’s merger with LAN this week.

This week at JetBlue, we mixed up our channel lineup, honored Women’s History Month, and ran a TrueBlue 30% off sale,

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

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February 4, 2011

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Mounting Tension

Image courtesy of jamesjordan on Flickr

This week brought with it what feels like mounting tension from both the nature and nurture sides of life. The biggest story this week is certainly the unrest in Egypt and the impact it is having on the rest of the world (including the airline industry). With yet another mixed precipitation weather event this week, we also saw thousands more flights cancelled across the country (again).

In other news this week, airlines are adding fuel surcharges to offset the rising price of oil, the likes of which is threatening to erase airline profits. Unrelated, the IATA says passenger traffic is up 8.2% in 2010.

A New Zealand airline is grounded for false records, a Chilean court suspended the LAN-TAM merger and a report says that there need to be radical changes to the New York Metro airports to alleviate congestion, including additional runways. Also this week, airline stocks are under pressure after investor BlackRock reduced its shares of Brazilian airline Gol Linhas SA and news surfaced this week that the pilot fatigue rule may complicate the pending FAA bill.

In an interesting game of musical chairs (or rather planes), Republic Airways is adding Frontier jets to Delta service, and Emirates launched service to Iraq this week, sweetening our friendship with them (Buffalo to Basra anyone?). And, on a brighter note, airlines end a mostly down decade with profits in 2010.  It ain’t over til the fat-bellied plane sings!

This week at JetBlue we sucked up to Mother Nature to please chill out with all the wacky weather (while working diligently to deice, dig out, and get our Customers from point A to B).

We also opened our 31st cargo station at Jacksonville International Airport, announced daily nonstop service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Fort Lauderdale, and polled our friends and family for what this week’s storm should be called (SNOWtorious BIG won). We’ve got classy readers.

We were also nominated by FlightGlobal for the best airline viral video of 2010 (vote early and often!), launched a 10th Anniversary swag sale, and honored Black History Month.

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

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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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January 14, 2011

Weekly Airline New Roundup – sNo’ More!

As if we haven’t seen enough already, this week brought more snow to the airline industry — and to the East Coast specifically — causing additional delays and cancellations from Augusta, Georgia up to Augusta, Maine.

Virgin Atlantic risked having its aircraft seized this week after refusing to pay airport fees to Heathrow, claiming it did a bad job of cleaning up after the big snowstorm there a couple of weeks ago. Air France reported this week that it took a €70 million hit from the storm.

Several Russian airlines have grounded their Tupolev jets after one caught on fire on the taxiway, killing three and producing a ball of flames that spanned a city block. Indonesian budget airline Mandala has ceased operations until it can figure out a financial plan that will help get it out of debt. And an IranAir 727 plane broke into pieces this week over its arrival city, Orumiyah, killing close to 80 of the more than 100 onboard.

The FAA is ordering an inspection of all 757 planes to check for cracked fuselages, the TSA announced this week that all airlines have to disclose at the time of purchase what carrier is operating the flights, and British Airways is entering into its third year in a standoff with the cabin crew union. US Airways meanwhile is cutting jobs, Southwest is introducing new navigation technology that will create more energy-efficient landings, and USA Today reported that November was the second month in a row with no violations of the tarmac delay rule.

Also this week, our German friends at Lufthansa reported that their 2010 passenger traffic reached 90 million, a 17% jump from 2009. Southwest announced its highest-ever load factor for December, with behinds filling 80.4% of seats. Conversely, Aer Lingus saw a quarter fewer passengers this December over last. And our newest partner Emirates asked for $1 billion in financing this week to help fund new aircraft. Plus, Airbus received the largest commercial plane order ever this week, a $15.6 billion deal.

In the theme of partnering, Japanese airline JAL announced this week that it will begin a revenue-sharing business on trans-Pacific flights with American Airlines. Speaking of trans-Pacific, Qantas will resume A380 flights between Sydney and Los Angeles after getting a sign-off from safety regulators.

Delta this week announced that it has started an online auction system for passengers to bid on overbooked seats (talk about less for more!). And according to one report this week, short haul flights are becoming less popular.

In JetBlue’s world this week we focused on operations to get through the second winter weather event in two weeks, but managed to have some fun all the while. We also took home the 2010 Frost & Sullivan U.S. Air Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Airline Website Booking Experience and tickets went on sale this week to our newest desirable New England vacation destination, Martha’s Vineyard.

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

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December 24, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Not Even a Mouse

Image courtesy of twoshortplanks on Flickr

This was pretty quiet one as far as news weeks go in the airline industry. Usually there are more big news stories than we can possibly highlight in this humble little roundup, but perhaps tantamount to the holiday week, reporters’ eyes were turned to other things and not many a creature was flying, not even a mouse.

Topping the charts this week was most likely the damper the snow put on European air travel, particularly challenging given the hefty flight loads during the holiday week.

Also this week came news that Lufthansa is eyeing a possible purchase of SAS, Air New Zealand is letting fliers cuddle up with its new “cuddle class fleet,” (which basically means you and your significant other can purchase the middle seat and lie down – spooning required), and the FAA is considering slapping Continental and American Eagle with fines for alleged maintenance violations.

As oil prices creep up, airlines, and customers in turn, are feeling the burn. Good old Canadian WestJet is stepping up to the big leagues with bigger planes (well, at least one leased 757) and discussions of longer haul flights. American, meanwhile, may delay the start of its flights to Tokyo, Qantas plans to have five A380s flying, and an Emirates flight had a little kerfuffle when the plane became lodged in some grass that had frozen after landing.

In less exciting news, Delta pulled out of three smaller online travel agencies reportedly in an effort to consolidate its online booking efforts, Airbus sold 50 A320s to South American airline, LAN, and express lanes are making an appearance at airports for international travelers arriving late.

U.S. airlines are using their profits to pare down debt, according to one article this week, the TSA blasted the FAA for not meeting airline inspection deadlines, and a flight attendant (in Canada no less) was sentenced to eight years for smuggling drugs. In yet another airline-related arrest this week, a man was sentenced to prison for his claims to having started an airline that wasn’t actually real.

This week in the JetBlue world we announced our 66th BlueCity, Martha’s Vineyard, the extension of our President and CEO Dave’s employment agreement and enjoyed some fun a cappella caroling Live From T5.

As always, safe travels and a very happy and healthy holidays! Thanks for reading!

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December 17, 2010

Yearly Airline News Roundup – The Other Guys

Last week we brought you the Yearly Airline News Roundup for JetBlue, highlighting the top ten biggest JetBlue news stories of 2010. This week we are pleased to bring you the top ten industry stories of the year, as we think they stacked up. Feel free to add your own stories if you think there are important ones that are not included below – the industry certainly served up myriad lively tales (and tails) in 2010:

10. Passengers capture emergency landing on video from inside plane (CNN): “Two passengers aboard Delta Flight 4951 from Atlanta, Georgia, to White Plains, New York, on Saturday taped the dramatic moments of their flight’s emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The footage from Flight 4951 shows sparks outside a window of the plane’s cabin. The flight experienced landing gear problems, according to a recording of a pilot’s conversation with air traffic control.”
Full story

9. BA shareholders approve merger with Iberia (The Wall Street Journal): “British Airways’ shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of its merger with Spain’s Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA, the final step before the airlines become International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, or IAG, in the new year. BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh described 2010 as an ‘excellent year so far’ for achievements, with the airline also gaining antitrust immunity to work more closely with American Airlines.”
Full story

8. First-ever in-flight same-sex wedding takes flight to NYC (MSNBC): “Giving a new meaning to the phrase ‘walking down the aisle,’ a gay couple from Germany and a lesbian couple from Poland were married on an Scandinavian Airlines flight from Stockholm, Sweden to New York.”
Full story

7. Brazil’s TAM and Chile’s LAN to merge (Reuters): “Brazil’s largest airline TAM plans to merge with Chilean rival LAN, a deal that would create the biggest carrier in Latin America. The combined company would fly to 115 destinations in 23 countries and employ some 40,000 workers. The airlines would continue to operate under their current names but under the umbrella of a new holding company called Latam Airlines Group.”
Full story

6. Emirates overtakes Lufthansa in having world’s biggest long-haul fleet (Emirates 24/7): “Emirates airline has overtaken Lufthansa to become the world’s largest fleet for long-haul flights and long – haul traffic. According to a recent study, Emirates owns 155 long-haul aircraft which is the highest number by any airline in the world. The report also said that personnel costs and fees of Gulf carriers are 30 per cent less than those European airlines which help them make more competitive and profitable.”
Full story

5. Southwest to buy AirTran for $1.4 billion (Reuters): Southwest announced its intention to acquire AirTran Airways in a deal valued at $1.4 billion. Southwest says it will take on AirTran’s fleet of 737s and 717s and transition them to the Southwest livery in the coming years. The deal will also give Southwest its first-ever international and Caribbean service, add a major Atlanta hub where it will go head-to-head with Delta, and allow for expanded service in Boston, New York, Washington, and many other overlapping markets. It’s unclear at this point if Southwest will reduce capacity or jobs as a result of the acquisition of AirTran.

4. TSA begins pat downs (Boston Herald): “The Transportation Security Administration will start using the new front-of-the-hand, slide-down screening technique for passengers at all 450 of the nation’s commercial airports. Passengers who opt not to walk through the full-body scanners are subject to the searches, as well as passengers who set off metal detectors at checkpoints without the scanners. The TSA also picks random passengers for the searches.”
Full article

3. Airport body scanners cause stir (The Boston Globe): “A privacy advocacy group is suing the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the use of the controversial full-body scanners employed at airports across the country, including at every major checkpoint at Logan International Airport. In the lawsuit, filed last month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., said the slightly blurred but accurate pictures of passengers’ naked bodies produced by the machines are the equivalent of a ‘digital strip search.’”
Full story

2. Fuel efficiency key to airline profits (Bloomberg): “Global airlines must purchase new, more fuel-efficient planes to cut costs and increase profits if they are to survive, said Gary Scott, president of Bombardier Inc.’s commercial aircraft unit. ‘Optimized fleets’ of new aircraft ‘will drive airline profitability through cost savings and revenue growth, and help enable new business models,’ Scott said. Bombardier is the world’s third-largest commercial planemaker after Airbus SAS and Boeing Co.”
Full story

1. United/Continental merge (Bloomberg):“The $3.2 billion merger of United Airlines parent UAL Corp. and Continental Airlines Inc. closed today, bringing the two big carriers together in a company called United Continental Holdings Inc. The two airlines will continue to fly separately for as long as 18 months while they seek approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for a single operating certificate that will allow them to mix their planes, crews and maintenance programs. The combined company, which is based in Chicago and is the largest airline in the world by traffic, is headed by Jeff Smisek, Continental’s chairman and chief executive officer.”
Full story

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December 10, 2010

Yearly Airline News Roundup – 2010

Image courtesy of prettyinprint on Flickr

Happy Friday dear readers! As we near the end of the year, we’d like to use this opportunity to highlight our top ten JetBlue stories of 2010:

10. All You Can Jet 2010: All You Can Jet 2009 was so popular, we decided to bring it back for a second year. All You Can Jet 2010 offered two varieties of passes and produced many wonderful stories of people traveling for charity, soul-searching, or just plain fun. We also launched this year the TrueBlue Community, so our AYCJetters and other travelers could connect to share travel tips, stories, or even find one another en route.

9. Live From T5 Concert Series: 2010 produced some high-profile performers to our acclaimed Live From T5 Concert Series at our terminal at JFK, including Sarah McLachlan, Daughtry, Taylor Swift, and Straight No Chaser. Stay tuned for more!

8. Response to the earthquake in Haiti: The tragic events that took place in Haiti this year ignited a response from our Crewmembers that was admirable. From donations of food, money, and supplies to the actual deployment of a team to our station in Santo Domingo to help those coming through from Haiti, we pulled together with our friends from other airlines, the airports, and the government to ensure as best we could the safety and well-being of those less fortunate.

7. Community Involvement: We always keep in mind that our success should be the success of others, and are proud to have participated in and sponsored numerous charitable and community ventures in 2010. From supporting school children from the Dominican Republic to California, building playgrounds and promoting anti-bullying, our company and our Crewmembers reached out a helping hand this year to help make the world a better place.

6. Expansion in Boston: As the largest domestic carrier out of JFK, we thought it only fair to share the love with our brother BlueCity, Boston. We placed a focus this year on growing our service out of Boston and are pleased to now be the largest carrier out of Logan International Airport with the most flights and most destinations, and more to come in 2011!

5. Slide Deployment: We’d be remiss not to mention the dramatic exit of one our own and the weeks of  news stories that followed. You can’t make this shtick up.

4. New destinations: We added service to three more BlueCities in our network in 2010, including Punta Cana, Reagan National in Washington D.C., Hartford, with announcements made this year about exciting new destinations we’ll start flying to in 2011 including Turks & Caicos and Anchorage!

3. New partnerships: As we continue to grow we team up with more and more outstanding cousins in the airline world. This year alone we partnered with South African, American, Emirates, EL AL, and we look forward to more to come!

2. New reservations system: In the very beginning of 2010, we transitioned reservations system – no small task for an airline – in efforts to help better position us with a more robust business model.

1. 10th Anniversary! 2010 is a very special year for JetBlue, perhaps the most special, because we celebrate ten years in operations. We’ve taken the time this year to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished over the past decade and how much more we have to look forward to as we enter into our second decade. To celebrate with our Customers, we ran several big giveaway events in New York, Boston and beyond, and we look forward to celebrating our 20th Anniversary in an even bigger way!

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

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December 5, 2010

10 best airlines in the world

A Business Insider piece published this week highlights the ten best airlines in the world based on the 2010 Zagat survey. The most unique finding? The best airlines in the world are all foreign — except for JetBlue.

See below for our full rating:

  • Overall: 19.65
  • Food: 15.07
  • Service: 22.01
  • Comfort: 21.88

People enjoy the economy cabin in JetBlue because of the larger and more comfortable seats with extra legroom. Another perk is satellite tv with all the channels that you would enjoy at home.

A free snack selection (a little more than just pretzels) and drinks make JetBlue an attractive option for economy travelers.

Full article

The 10 best airlines in the world per The 2010 Zagat Airline Survey

  1. Thai Airways
  2. Japan Airlines
  3. JetBlue Airways
  4. Asiana Airlines
  5. Korean Air
  6. ANA: All Nippon Airways
  7. Cathay Pacific Airways
  8. Emirates Airline
  9. Air New Zealand
  10. Singapore Airlines

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December 3, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Increase

Whether it be technologically, logistically, socially or otherwise, it felt like there was an increase in services, partnerships, offerings, etc. in the airline industry this week. The week started out with BA shareholders approving the proposed merger with Iberia, and LAN announcing its intention to increase its ownership by acquiring Colombian airline, AIRES.  Our friends over at Lufthansa this week announced that they will begin using biofuel soon and they also relaunched their in-flight high-speed internet this week, and our new friends at Emirates will increase service with its new destination, Basra, Iraq, and Geneva, Switzerland.

The major U.S. airlines, us included, are adding seats due to a more optimistic economic outlook.  And, despite expectations that the new TSA screening protocol would increase delays at airports during the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend, it was actually weather that slowed things down.

Southwest is seeing an increase in ticket scams, whereby people are buying airline miles online from sellers, only to find out they don’t translate to real tickets.  The Airline Transport Association, meanwhile, hopes to see an increase in their pull on K Street with the appointment of a GOP lobbyist as their new CEO.

In more fun news, airports and airlines are to blame for the increase in the accessibility of alcohol among travelers, making those 3 a.m. layovers potentially way more entertaining*. *We support the responsible consumption of alcohol and do not encourage behavior such as performing cartwheels in the terminal, singing in the jetbridge, or any other activities that may result from increased alcohol consumption at odd hours, especially in foreign places.

Singapore Airlines plans to return to its use of the A380s with service between Singapore and Melbourne. Richmond, Virginia, meanwhile is increasing funds to get travelers to fly on the low-cost carriers out of RIC in a “use ‘em or lose ‘em” campaign. And Airbus plans to update the engines and wings on its A320s.

The U.S. government decided this week to take over passenger checks, formally the responsibility of the airlines. Qatas is upping its game over its recent A380 engine woes by shoring up its options to sue Rolls-Royce. This week, the U.S. also increased the safety rating on Mexico, and United and Continental are increasing its efforts to resolve an ongoing pilot dispute using mediation.

This week at JetBlue, we announced our Getaways Top Secret Sale, announced plans for increased service between Long Beach and Las Vegas, and we held the latest in our Live From T5 Concert Series, Straight No Chaser.

As always, safe travels and have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading!

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November 19, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Scanning

Image courtesy of fsse-info on Flickr

Happy Friday folks! This week was chock-full-of-news, the most voluminous of which is the new TSA screening protocol and the backlash it has received from myriad facets of the traveling public. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano wrote this week that the scanners are safe and the pat-downs discreet, meanwhile conflicting reports say that the scanners may release harmful radiation and hundreds of images of people were released from the machines that supposedly could not store data; and groups from all over the world are staging protests.

TSA hubbub aside, there was plenty of other newsworthy items to befall the airline industry this week, not least of which was a suspected bomb discovered on an Air Berlin flight, continued woes on Qantas flights, and Japanese airline officials charged with price-fixing.

Pilots and regulators are at heads over the new pilot fatigue rules, due to the exorbitant costs it will impart on the airlines.  Boeing and Airbus are also taking pause over costs about whether they will redesign their narrow-bodied planes to increase efficiency. Canada is also remiss about the high fees they incur that their friends across the border in the U.S.  do not face.

Richmond is worried they will lose low-cost carriers if people don’t start flying them more, Oneworld Alliance adds Russia to its family, and Emirates wins the PAX catering award for best inflight meals.

Southwest announced three new routes in the U.S. this week and Delta is increasing its service to Europe and Asia. The Airbus 380, meanwhile, is getting lots of media play again this week, much of it positive, including the sale of 380s to Japanese low-cost carrier Skymark, concern about whether there are enough A380 engine parts available, and the return of Emirates’ A380 service to New York.

This week at JetBlue, we launched service to Hartford, announced a partnership with Emirates,  three new TrueBlue partnerships with Avis, Budget, and FTD, a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement with American, doubled our service to Orlando from Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, and shared our winter weather operations plan. Stop. Pause. Breathe.

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

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