November 12, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Security

Image courtesy of madaboutshanghai on Flickr

Security emerged as a major theme in the airline industry this week. Due in part to Veterans Day and the recent changes to the TSA screenings, safety and security seemed to be the dominant topic.

After the recent cargo bomb scare, the U.S. announced this week that it will hold a Senate panel hearing to discuss airline cargo safety. In the meantime, the U.S. has banned all large printer toner ink cartridges from flying. Watch out for a possible paperless epidemic! As another result, Emirates and Etihad airlines halted all cargo from Yemen.

The new TSA screening rules are causing a stir, with pilots banding together to protest, Sikhs speaking out against what they’re calling racial profiling, and the general public questioning whether the body scanners and pat-downs are a bit too invasive for an innocuous trip to see grandma in Florida.

Speaking of security breaches, who could forget the alarming (and somehow somewhat charming) tale of the Hong Kong man who disguised himself as an elderly Caucasian man to illegally enter Canadian ? The incident has sparked a debate about what security protocol could prevent future such brazen acts of false identity. In what was another frightening safety concern, a knife was found under a seat on a Delta flight to Japan. The Asia theme (and accompanying image) is completely coincidental.

Safety in the mechanical realm was also a big new topic this week, following the emergency return of a Qantas A380 flight, and the subsequent grounding of its entire A380 fleet, pending an investigation of a possible oil leak. Lufthansa is also changing one of its A380 engines, though says it’s not related to Qantas’ problems (they have different engines than Qantas). And Boeing this week had to halt 787 test flights after cabin smoke.

Conversely, Emirates this week restarted flying its double decker A380s to New York. In more optimistic news this week, the DOT announced this week that the tarmac delay rule has helped to significantly decrease overall airline delays (they don’t, though, mention cancellations as a result of the rule), Google is sponsoring free in-flight WiFi as a holiday treat, and US Airways is bringing back 500 furloughed pilots and flight attendants. Also good news this week is word that the FAA plans to restructure flight patterns to alleviate air traffic congestion by routing hundreds of flights over New Jersey (well, at least airlines may be happy, but New Jersey residents are pissed).

Not great for anyone, less the folks selling oil, reports this week show that fuel rose 7% in September. If only we could purchase electric planes!

In what we’ll call neutral news this week (could be good or bad depending on who you are), Mexicana Airlines, which declared bankruptcy and has since grounded all flights, says it hopes to make a return to the skies by the end of the year as a smaller airline. Latin American airlines Copa and Avianca-TACA are joining the Star Alliance, and the U.S. gave the green light on a joint venture between United, Continental and Japanese airline, ANA.

Virgin America, meanwhile, announced its first-ever quarterly profit this week, Delta may add a premium coach section, and American and Southwest are adding new markets. Aer Lingus’ operating profits rose a significant 35%, Republic Airways profits soar, and Southwest says its “no fees” campaign is working well.

Perhaps most exciting this week was news that Jake Pavelka, formerly of The Bachelor, is reaching for the stars, this time in a plane on his return to his job as a pilot.

This week was an eventful one for us at JetBlue. We celebrated the first birthday of our loyalty program TrueBlue, with lots of merriment and some awesome giveaways, welcomed new board member General Stanley McChrystal to our ranks, and held a Veterans Day event at our new home in the nation’s capital at Reagan National.

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

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November 5, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Crowded

One meaty story trumped another in what turned out to be a crowded week for airline news. Perhaps the biggest – and strangest – news to come out of the airline industry this week is the story of Qantas A380′s engine failure, which was first reported as a crash.

In other big industry news, Delta’s flight attendants rejected voting in a union, Ireland will not sell its stake in Aer Lingus to arch-rival Ryanair, and a JFK-bound jet was escorted by military planes after a cargo scare that proved false.

Tuesday was Election Day in the U.S., which yielded a reshuffling in the roles of those with an ear to the aviation industry. Delta and United, in particular, are seen as having gained some Republican support from the outcome of the elections. Outside of the U.S., Gulf airlines are claiming their advantages over their European counterparts are mainly because they are younger and more nimble, not because they are heavily subsidized by their governments as many claim. And Air Canada’s boss spoke up this week, claiming that outdated policies decreed by Ottawa force his airline and others to face higher fees than competitors in most other countries. Despite the higher fees and all the nagging, Air Canada saw a nice increase in revenue for the quarter. Speaking of profits, Emirates announced quadruple profits on the first half of the year. And international airlines more generally are getting a get-out-of-jail-free card for the tarmac delay rules imposed on U.S.-based airlines.

WestJet announced this week it will start charging for a second checked bag, Southwest is trying to lure more business travelers, and AirTran loyalists are begging Southwest to keep some semblance of a first class when it takes over operations.

American and Air Canada are chatting with the TSA about the possibility of rolling out self-bag-tagging for checked luggage. The TSA is also rolling out its Secure Flight Program, last week’s implementation of the new screening measures are being met with scrutiny, and there is also new pressure for additional screening on luggage after related research from the cargo security scare shows the holes in safety protocol. While we’re on the topic of gaps, an American Airlines plane is under examination by regulators after a hole was discovered in the fuselage. Thankfully all are safe from the incident.

On a slightly brighter note for airlines, and perhaps and equally dark and gloomy one for passengers is that Thanksgiving fares are expected to rise with an increase in travelers as compared with last year. One less thing to be thankful for in terms of your wallets, but good for a recovering economy.

Perhaps the most tasty story to circulate in the industry this week is Cathay Pacific’s announcement of a dessert contest, where they ask people to come up with their most delectable dessert dishes and send the recipes in for a chance to win a business class flight to Hong Kong and have your dessert featured on Cathay’s in-flight menu. You can see some mouthwatering entries on their Facebook fan page.

We had a crowded news week as well, with announcements that our 62nd BlueCity is now open, Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C., we’ve been nominated for a Pixel Award for best website with (Shameless plug: you can vote for us through November 30!), and tickets with our new partner EL AL are now on sale. We also announced this week our Jets touchdown contest with Mastercard, where Customers can have their flights refunded (as per the terms and conditions) if the Jets win the Big Game in Dallas!

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

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October 22, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Profits

Cha-ching! Folks were poppin’ the champagne bottles this week, with the airline industry’s third quarter earnings announcements. The week marked a return to profitability and no one was left behind.

Southwest posted a respectable profit, as did we at JetBlue. United and Continental announced profits in the last quarter that they will report results separately, and American, Delta, and US Airways enjoyed profits for the third quarter as well.

Exact dollar amounts aside, other signs of better times might be surmised from news this week that Delta is hiring a boatload of flight attendants, WestJet agreed to interline with American – the first time the Canadian carrier is partnering with an airline from across the border, and Virgin America kicked off new service from Orlando to the west coast.

In less profitable news, a date has been set for a September 11 court case where the family of a man on flight United 175 is suing, with claims that the airline and several security companies didn’t exercise adequate security measures to prevent the terrorists from boarding. Speaking of security concerns, Israel has banned El Al from allowing pilgrims from Nigeria on its flight for fear of safety breaches and Canada and the United Arab Emirates are still feuding.

Southwest, meanwhile, is attacking rivals in its ad campaign, by touting its free checked luggage and no change fees, and Etihad Airways CEO is criticizing European carriers for criticizing Gulf carriers, saying, “I would argue that the only advantage I have is geography and I can’t argue about that, I didn’t make the world.”

Low prices mean more competitive fares for customers out of Logan International Airport in Boston, Airbus is delaying a re-engining plan, and Portly, er Porter Airlines (no pun intended) is refunding a passenger for having to sit next to an obese woman who took up half her seat.

In JetBlue news this week, we announced our highest quarterly revenue and profit ever, held a Boarding Pass Bonanza in Boston to celebrate our new title as the Official Airline of the TD Garden, and announced that Taylor Swift will be performing as part of our Live From T5 Concert Series  next week.

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

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October 15, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Consequences

Image courtesy of kenwilcox on Flickr

News in the airline industry this week seemed to gravitate towards consequences.

The recently-bought Frontier says it may want to team up with another major carrier, but its parent company Republic says it’s not interested in a sale — one that would mean the disappearance of yet another airline brand. Pilot protests are preventing an Israeli anti-hijack device from going into use, and some airlines are publicly opposing the new measure passed by Congress which increases the number of hours pilots must fly before working for the airlines.

A study concluded that the air inside aircraft cabins is just as safe as other enclosed spaces, hopefully putting an end to an age-old rumor. (Have you ever thought about how the air you breathe – even on the street – might be the very same recycled air that former President George Washington or famed Beatles member John Lennon or a dying squirrel or the likes once breathed?)

Another study confirmed the basic economic theory that reduced capacity means greater stability for airlines, as many have cut down flights due to the recession, and overall efficiency has increased as a result. And the U.S. Government has determined that airlines spent 9% more on fuel this past August than they did last year.

24 major airlines have come together, meanwhile, to urge the U.S. and Europe to put a cap on the 20% export financing credit and airlines are pondering whether a first class is worth keeping. And the DOT may well continue with the tarmac delay rule and may even expand it!

United and Continental announced new service to Mexico this week and Air Canada and United entered into a transborder deal (who wouldn’t want to share their peanut butter and jelly with Canada?).

Well, we suppose the United Arab Emirates wouldn’t want to, after their long-simmering airline feud with Canada reached a boil this week. In one of the wildest diplomatic spats we can remember, the UAE is evicting Canada’s military from a secret airbase near Dubai since local giants Emirates and Etihad aren’t being allowed more than a handful of flights a week to Canada.

The mandarins of Ottawa are being accused of protectonism of now-private Air Canada but they say not enough people want to go to Dubai to justify allowing more flights (Emirates even has a whole section of their website devoted to the issue). Sure, the skiing in Whistler is better, but we think hitting the air conditioned slopes inside Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates is still pretty nifty. (And that A380 in-flight shower from Toronto to Dubai can’t be beat.) With a UAE official saying Canada is “behaving like the defunct states of the Iron Curtain” this fight is getting hotter than Dubai in July.

Thankfully negative consequences didn’t wiggle their way into our world this week (we could argue that it’s because we have good karma, but we don’t like to toot our horn, because we are, after all, just human beings like everyone else, trying to do a good job and fight the good fight, etc, etc etc). Most significantly this week, we unveiled our new marketing campaign, You Above All — with some pretty hilarious YouTube videos– which spotlight our transparency and humanity. Also this week, we announced our Bid for Good online charity auction as well as our participation in the 30th Annual PFLAG Awards Dinner, where we received the Corporate Equality Award.

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

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July 23, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Happy Days Are Here Again!

Happy days are here again… or so it seems. This week in the airline industry brought second quarter earnings announcements, most of which were good news. There was also a good deal of growth in the way of orders for new aircraft (thanks to this week’s Farnborough Airshow, the biennial plane-buying extravaganza) and airlines entering into new markets.

US Airways earnings climbed, while United beat expectations. American posted a narrower loss than expected and Continental beat Wall Street estimates. And Delta saw profits, but a fall in its stock price.

American orders 35 more 737 planes, Virgin America plans to add 40 A320s (plus new service to Orlando). LAN is adding 50 new A320s to its fleet and Azul, meanwhile, plans to not only add more E-Jets, but also an entire new fleet type: ATR Turboprops! And Emirates announced that they are ordering 30 new 777′s from Boeing.

In even more growth news, AirTran will start flying to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Cape Air will launch service to Anguilla. Continental and United reached a pact with pilots on a package for the impending merger. And the slick new 787 touched down in England this week, after its first transatlantic flight!

Despite all of the recent thumbs-up in the industry this week, a report shows that the work force has actually shrunk, with airlines hoarding their cash rather than  beefing up their payroll. Speaking of cash, airlines are going to have to spent a bit of it to comply with new cargo inspection rules, but this is one expenditure worth making.

In other industry news this week, super chic Porter Airlines of Toronto got a shout-out in The Times for its unique experience… and in other news, their CEO sued Air Canada for pulling his unlimited travel pass that he scored after selling them a regional airline back in the 80s! An independent report shows that the three-hour tarmac delay rule has been causing more delays (and headaches) than not. British Airways cabin crew rejected the latest pay offer and Israeli Air Force jets intercepted what was believed might have been a hijacked plane from Ethiopia. False alarm. A flight attendant is having a rough run, after throwing a coffee pot at a co-worker’s head and landing himself in jail, he threatened to release classified information to terrorists, a man tried to smuggle 18 monkeys in his girdle, one airline CEO said luggage was “not essential” for vacation, and another airport crew made the decision to kick the lowest-paying passengers off the plane to meet weight requirements.

We had an extraordinarily big, happy news week, with announcements of our own record, second quarter profits, a new interline agreement with EL AL, news that we won the Airline Strategy Award from Airline Business, a new Getaways offering with extra TrueBlue points for the taking, and the start of our interline agreement with American. Surely we’re saving the best for last when we point out this week that we also announced a very super duper special private intimate delicious concert with the famed, beautiful, talented, Sarah McLachlan at T5 terminal at JFK next Thursday.

The skies above are clear. So let’s sing a song. Take it away Barbra!

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

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July 22, 2010

JetBlue wins prestigious global marketing honor

This week in London we were awarded with a prestigious Airline Strategy Award from Airline Business magazine in the area of leadership in the field of marketing! The very impressive commendation is published below an d describes our airline as “an aggressive and spirited marketer, putting consumer issues first.”

Last year, Lufthansa won this global award, and in 2003, as a three-year-old airline, we earned top honors! Other carriers receiving Airline Strategy Awards in various categories were top brands like Emirates and Qatar Airways.

JetBlue Chief Commercial Officer, Robin Hayes, accepts our award in London

Read more…

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June 25, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Slick

slickPerhaps due to the recovering economy or just plain temerity in some cases, the airline industry seemed to step up its game this week and acted a little bit slick (and not necessarily in a bad way).

If the buzz it generated online was any indication, Spirit Airlines takes the gold when it comes to being slick this week, from its ad campaign that mocked the BP oil crisis, to its even more recent sale mocking BP’s CEO.

Virgin thinks Canada’s a pretty slick spot for growth (we all know where the Great White North is, even if we don’t always drop in to say hello). Airlines more generally are slightly slick, raising fees as the economy improves. And speaking of Canada, the slick-looking Mounties came under fire this week for the 2007 tasering of a man at the Vancouver airport who later died.

The three global airline alliances — Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld – are pretty slick inventions, the head of IATA said this week. And our friends in Ireland hope that cutting some transatlantic flights for winter will be the slick move needed to return U.S. operations to profitability in 2011. Emirates, meanwhile, is looking pretty slick as it surpasses other big airlines to become the world’s biggest (by at least one measure).

There’s nothing slick about a report that was released this week showing the volume of passengers bumped this year is as high as it’s been since 2001. The same holds for complaints from passengers that they were held on a hot plane for four hours.

And the A320 is slick, with news this week that this mainstay of our fleet topped 50 million flights.

And it begs mentioning that the U.S. soccer team was super slick when they scored that winning goal against Algeria, advancing them to the next round in the World Cup.

We at JetBlue had a pretty quiet week (less the cheering that could be heard through the hallways during the U.S. – Algeria World Cup match). We painted some roofs in Long Island City to help make them more eco-friendly, spray-painted some sidewalks at the Pasadena Chalk Festival, took a raincheck on the world’s largest Yoga event due to inclement weather, and are proactively preparing for Summer thunderstorm season.

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

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May 14, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup- Turbulence (with a chance of clear skies)

The airline industry saw some turbulence this week, though clearer skies are on the horizon. We had a real mixed bag with the more turbulent news taking the front seat such as the devastating Libya plane crash, with a little boy as the sole survivor of the 104 onboard. Then there was the actual turbulence, so bad on a Continental flight that it actually sent some of those onboard to the hospital.

In what is becoming months of continued turbulence, British Airways cabin crew plans to strike again next week. Spirit Airlines pilots are also threatening a strike. Cape Air, meanwhile, had a bomb scare this week, which grounded its entire fleet, and a volcanic ash cloud is STILL interrupting air travel. We also saw this week the first airline to cancel flights to avoid fines from the recently implemented three-hour tarmac delay rule.

In slightly more uplifting news, Spirit Airlines agreed to clearly disclose fees for carry-on luggage, British Airways staff accused of price-fixing was acquitted, and- depending on who you are- potential turbulent or exuberant news might be- the expansion of Delta in New York, Emirates Airlines making a huge profit, and a federal law this week that is changing the way that unions vote.

Not to mention that Frontier announced they will allow small pets on planes (though the cost will be higher than for people passengers).

We had clear skies this week, with fun announcements like our Customer Appreciation Days, where we gave away scratch-off tickets in many of our BlueCities with the chance to win a minimum of 1,000 miles and as many as 50,000. We also began service from Boston to San Jose, California, had an insanely successful $10  sale, launched a very special Experience site for folks to hear firsthand from our Customers why we’re so awesome, and we also took home the PANYNJ award for T5.

As always, safe travels and have a great weekend!

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May 7, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup- Oops!


Image courtesy of Irina on Flickr

Oops! Lapses in security allowed the potential Times Square terrorist to board an Emirates flight (though Emirates claims they complied with U.S. security rules).

Oops! Continental CEO put his foot in his mouth when he called US Airways, “an ugly girl.”

Oops! Delta realized they may be doing a disservice to customers by charging them for luggage and are now offering the first bag for free to Delta AmEx cardholders.

And oops, said US Airways; this NextGen air traffic management technology may not be a good fit for them when they factor in the added expenses associated with integrating it into their system. South Carolina, meanwhile, is trying to convince lawmakers that giving Southwest incentives is an oops. And a breakthrough in Air France crash box search was announced, but oops! Nothing has yet been found.

Oops, you can no longer recover as much in Europe for damage to your luggage. BA thinks their union pulled an oopsies but not accepting their latest offer. And much more than just an “oops” was news this week that the Turkish airline crash last year was due to a faulty altitude meter and an “inadequate response” from pilots.

The company that introduced a shortcut at the security checkpoint and then- oops- went bankrupt, is now back in action and may be re-introducing Verified Identity Pass, the kiosk fingerprinting technology.

WestJet saw a shrink in revenue while competitor Air Canada reported profits for the first quarter. Lufthansa, meanwhile, was voted the best European airline to serve the Middle East, United and Continental announced their intent to merge into the largest airline in the world, and unruly developmentally disabled teen pulled an oopsies and refused to shut down his laptop, causing a diversion.

Thankfully we didn’t have any major oopsies of our own this week, but we did have some good news. We had our inaugural flight to Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, announced expanded service out of Boston, including a new route to Sarasota, and announced our new creative and media agency, Mullen.

As always, safe travels and have a great weekend!

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May 5, 2010

Suspect boards plane to Dubai, prompting new rules

Suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was permitted to board an Emirates flight from JFK to Dubai on Monday night despite having being added to the no-fly list earlier that day. In response, the U.S. government is now mandating airlines to verify their manifests against the no-fly list within two hours of being notified of updates to it (versus the previous rule of “refreshes” every 24 hours).

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