Near Collision: “We’re Breaking Off American 28, He’s Right Above Us!” [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • You can tell me that ‘everything worked’ (and indeed, everything works until it doesn’t) but these near-misses are unsettling.

    An American Airlines Airbus A321 (A321), registration N109NN, performing flight AAL28 / AA28 from Los Angeles International Airport, CA (USA) to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (USA) was descending towards New York Kennedy Airport and was cleared for the ILS approach runway 22 left.

    Meanwhile there was a Tradewind Aviation Pilatus PC-12 (PC12), registration N235RB, flight GPD235 / TJ235 from White Plains Westchester County Airport, NY (USA) to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (USA), was cleared for the approach on runway 22 right. For some reason GPD235 joined 22 left localizer.

    The American reported that Pilatus was right above them and started the avoiding action. The controller instructed GPD235 to discontinue the approach. After landing American 28 reported: “If we hadn’t bailed out, we would have collided”.

  • Delta incentivizes travel from its worst-performing hubs and focus cities

  • United is extending status for Israel residents and frequent Tel Aviv passengers

  • 1,000 bonus Marriott points for linking your Uber account and placing an Uber Eats order or taking a premium Uber ride by December 31.

  • Saudi Arabia is buying a stake in London Heathrow airport.

  • Southwest Airlines and booze have gone together pretty much since the start of the airline

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is that a bear collision ? I’d say no … not even close thankful I’m sure that you have two experienced pilots in AA28 instead of 1 or 2 500-1200 hour pilots in 235.

  2. Sorry *Near Collison. No.

    Of these altitudes were correct, even with the PC-12 on the wrong localizer they were higher and would have quixotic fell behind AA28 who was going 170. CNN is calling Gary. Gather all the facts before calling something a near collision. Maybe it was but I doubt it. Just like when that car at the US/Canadian border. Media is all about spreading fear, not facts.

  3. Gene,
    neither you or enilria can explain how Delta can have all of these underperforming parts of its network and still manage to be the most profitable airline in the world.
    And if they live off the profits from all of their strong hubs, then why hasn’t other airlines figured out how to build hubs that are as profitable if not more so than Delta’s hubs? Deregulation occurred at the exact same time for DL as it did for every other US airline.
    If Delta can manage to generate profits so high that they can operate a plethora of poor hubs and still post industry-leading profits, then clearly every other airline is a failure

    Take your pick.

    Enilria is a grandstanding opinionator that works w/ incomplete data and then acts like he has the inside track on the industry – and yet he can’t explain the basic economic realities of the airline industry.

  4. Wow, clearly I don’t understand the logic from SMR: In his first post, he correctly points out that “you have two experienced pilots in AA28” as opposed to the pilots in the 235. In his second post, he lambasts Gary for failing to “Gather all the facts before calling something a near collision”.

    To be clear, it was the Pilots of AA28 (whom he had correctly lauded in the 1st post) for reporting “If we hadn’t bailed out, we would have collided”. Unlike SMR, Gary was simply relying on the position of the experienced Pilots in stating that this was a near-collision.

    I’m with Gary: The Pilots of AA28 were in the best position to know, they properly and safely took evasive action, and then confirmed the correct authorities to contact after the incident (see video). Well done.

  5. @ Tim — Well, I suggest you change your screen name to Enilria. At least my half-baked opinions are actually informed by flying several million miles dozens on different airlines in business and first. I hate to break the news to you here from the front lines, but Delta ain’t nothing special.

  6. @Tim Dunn As you ask, I’m going to guess that frequent bailouts and handouts from the US taxpayer have probably done quite a bit to help Delta become the ‘most profitable airline in the world’.

    Given a true free market economy (which so many people seem to love until it doesn’t suit them), none of the major US airlines would be in business. The fact that Delta appears to be less terrible than the rest of the bailout brigade when it comes to managing its finances isn’t anything it should be proud of.

  7. ziggy,
    Delta didn’t get any more or less aid than any other airline as part of federal assistance. And you also discount how much money the feds gave to other sectors including consumers. None of which changes that Delta runs a far better business.

    1. I don’t need to change my username. If Gary wants to cite other people’s work, they can come on here and respond or allow others to carry the conversation.
    2. You are confusing subjective/qualitative factors which are free to judge as you wish with quantitative and objective factors. Delta most certainly runs not just a better airline on both accounts according to those that measure both types of metrics. Your opinion is your opinion.
    3. Enilria is talking about objective and quantitative metrics on which he is making comparisons – the problem is that he doesn’t have complete data and makes conclusions that go beyond what the data suggests.
    4. You and he and ziggy above can’t explain how Delta has managed to run the most profitable and most valuable (based on market cap) airline in the world and yet have all of these weaknesses. If their strengths are really as strong as they are, then the clear question is why no other airline has been able to duplicate what Delta has done financially. In reality, they really don’t do as well in some hubs as some think and as bad as others think but have managed to put all of the pieces together far better than any other airline and THAT is why they have spent 20 years growing more in other carrier strength markets than any other US airline.

  8. @Tim Dunn Over the years Delta has received considerably more taxpayer aid than a lot of its closest non-US competitors – just take a look a the debt that IAG had to take on to survive the Covid crisis while Delta got to enjoy billions of dollars in what was just another in of a long line of government bailouts.

    Delta’s current position as the world’s most profitable airline (it will lose that mantle in the not too distant future) has a lot more to do with handouts and a lot less to do with its management being fiscally brilliant.

  9. Delta is a US airline; at worst, the comparison should be to US airlines and DAL has exceeded profits of every other US airline for years.
    But even the global competitors you cite have many other benefits that Delta has including far higher protected shared in their largest markets.

    Feel free to show us the math on why you think DAL will lose its mantle as the most profitable airline.

    Delta was more profitable than its competitors during covid.

    And if the US is such a great place to do business because the US throws money around, then why hasn’t IAG invested in US airlines?

    IAG isn’t even a part of the largest joint venture in the world – that belongs to Delta/AirFrance/KLM and, wait, wait, Virgin Atlantic.

  10. @Tim Dunn You make the point that Delta is the most profitable airline *in the world* and then tell me that “the comparison should be to US airlines”. Seriously??!!

    Re. IAG and the US – the protectionist policies of the US do not suit IAG’s need for control.

    Re. Largest JV – you seem to be under the illusion that largest = best = most profitable.

  11. ziggy,
    I said “at worst” the comparison should be w/ US airlines.
    If you’d like to show us the math about how the covid aid that Delta and US airlines make it impossible to now compare DL’s profitability to other global airlines, then do so – and show your math.
    The reality is that it has nothing to do with the price of eggs or butter but you want to argue the point.
    AA, DL and UA are all much larger airlines which explains in part why their profitability is higher than IAG. AA or UA COULD exceed DL’s profitability – and IAG’s – but neither part of that is true.
    None of which changes that AA and UA have had just as much of an opportunity to develop their hubs as DL and yet DL, according to internet legend, is capable of operating a bunch of underperforming hubs because they make so much money on their “core” hubs.

    Why can’t you or anyone else explain why AA and UA can’t turn their hubs into the massive profit centers that subsidize their money-losing hubs as DL supposedly has done?
    The reality is that internet myths are just that – not based on reality. DL’s best hubs are not near as high margin as some think and their lowest performing hubs are not near the financial drag that you and others including enilria want to make people believe.

    And DL is the most profitable airline in the world because it puts all of the pieces of its business together better than any other airline – and because of its sheer size.

  12. Unfortunately since he’s retired we won’t have a Kennedy Steve reaction audio clip to listen to…

  13. @ Ziggy — Tim will never understand that most profitable is not best. Even by Tim’s narrow-minded definition, Delta won’t be “best” for long. Things change, especially when you run your company on bailouts.

  14. oh, please.
    You somehow cling to the notion that Delta was MORE subsidized than its competitors because you can’t admit that Delta is the most profitable.
    I fully understand the difference between subjective preferences and objective metrics. you want to blur the two because, again, you can’t accept that Delta is running the best airline on an aggregate basis. That doesn’t mean they are perfect but that they put all of the pieces together better than other carriers.

    None of which changes that you STILL can’t explain how Delta can manage to support all of these supposedly underperforming, money-losing hubs based on the belief that they gouge people in their core hubs and AA and UA didn’t figure out how to do that in the past 45 years of deregulation – and can’t manage to set up hubs in other carrier hubs.

    I love watching you squirm when you can’t address the real question on the table.

  15. Delta is the most profitable airline in the history of this galaxy. And that is for one reason and one reason only. They charge premium prices for a premium product.

  16. you mean they can charge what people will pay

    the question is why people won’t pay the same thing to fly other airlines.

    … which explains why Delta has managed to “invade” other carrier hubs like SEA, something that you-know-who only wishes they could do, since they couldn’t make it in LAX

  17. you don’t understand basic economics.. surprise, surprise.
    No company can charge what customers will not pay.
    Delta charges what it does because real people pay more for their services. That is why Delta generates more revenue than any other airline in the world even though some of its competitors fly more seat miles and burn more fuel.
    And since there are plenty of metrics on which DL does exceed the industry, you aren’t even correct that DL doesn’t offer a higher quality product.

    You bet on the wrong horse.

  18. @ Tim — No, DL customers pay more for over-rated so-called premium products because Delta is better at convincing their customers that DL’s product is “premium” (mostly because the vast majority of their customers are ignorant of what else is on offer at other carriers). For the millionth time, just because something is more profitable or more expensive does not make it better. I feel sad for you that your entire view of the world boils down to this one misconception.

  19. Maybe it’s time to us AI to help monitor flights. Between transponders, radar, and GPS AI could do a better job of watching everything. Don’t replace controllers aid them with the tools. Air gap the systems to prevent hacking. Be proactive instead of reactive.

  20. I looks to me that the Pilatus veering away as directed would have prevented a collision even if AA28 had not jogged, but nobody can blame that pilot for doing it. The problem is that the Pilatus pilot lined up with the wrong runway, and his readback of the instructions didn’t make it clear he’d gotten them wrong. And the controller failed to have him clarify, which would have revealed the error.

  21. Gene,
    unless you can provide proof that Delta stole the money from its customers, they willingly pay.
    You still are incapable of separating YOUR perceptions of reality with what the majority actually think.
    DL generates more revenue than any other airline and also consistently scores higher in not just quantitative but also qualitative metrics than its most direct competitors.

    You can kick and scream until you drop dead but the facts don’t change.

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