Don’t you wish reporters writing about the airline industry actually knew what they were talking about?

Today’s Washington Post story on the Flight Attendants wage concession vote and an impending American Airlines bankruptcy makes the following statement in order to be relevant to the local community: Although [American] is the world’s largest airline, it is one of the smallest in the Washington area. The airline accounts for 9 percent of the flights at Reagan National Airport, 3 percent at Dulles International and 8.7 percent at Baltimore-Washington International. US Airways, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are the region’s most dominant major carriers. (Emphasis mine) The dominant carrier at Washington-Dulles airport is, of course, United Airlines.

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AA in the Balance

American’s flight attendants voted down their proposed contract. The pilots and mechanics had already ratified theirs. American has said that if the three groups didn’t approve concessions, it would seek to reorganize itself under bankruptcy laws. Since the vote was apparently decided by a few hundred flight attendants, and since several of those flight attendants cast their votes before last minute airline concessions, there may be an opportunity for a revote. Developing…

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The Maple Leaf that Laid the Rotten Egg

Air Canada has introduced new fees for booking free award travel. There will be a $25 fee for awards not booked online, ‘fuel surcharges’ depending on the length of the flight (but not on international flights), and taxes on these new fees. At a time when the airline is in bankruptcy, they need all the customer loyalty they can get. Squeezing fees out of their loyalty program can only cause resentment and devalue the program that will be the key to the airline’s future. While some programs charge fees for booking awards close to the date of departure (a personal pet peeve of mine), Air Canada is the first to introduce across-the-board fees on award tickets (outside of recouping government-imposed security taxes). Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, the head of Air Canada’s frequent flyer program…

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Make Darn Sure You Have Your Papers in Order When Traveling Abroad

This harrowing tale of a permanent U.S. resident denied re-entry into the United States should give pause to allow of us. With the INS broken into three parts and under the Department of Homeland Security, we have more vigorous enforcement with insufficient coordination — “a terribly inefficient agency on testosterone.” This agency has the power to deport a legal resident and refuse that reident the right to return to the U.S. for five years — even when the problem is a lack of documentation caused by an INS failure to provide proper documentation, and even when the documentation that the person has worked perfectly well in the past. Your papers, sir?

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Give Concorde One Last Chance

David Rowell has an interesting column on the economics of Concorde. In light of the announcements by British Airways and Air France to end Concorde service, it’s an important piece. Sir Richard Branson wants to make a go of the Concorde, and Rowell seems to think that Branson could make it work. At the very least the article makes short shrift of BA’s arguments why Concorde can’t work. While I’d normally side with an airline’s refusal to sell its assets, the conventional recollection is that BA got the fleet for one British pound, with the understanding that if anyone else wanted to operate the planes later they would be given that opportunity. BA now seems to be reneging on that condition. I’m not nearly as sanguine about Concorde’s economics as Rowell is, but Virgin should…

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More on the unfriendly skies

Part two in the Chicago Sun-Times series on The Shame of the Friendly Skies is now available online. And in some good news for United, it appears that they have reached agreement on labor costs that they needed, which prevents them from having to get the bankruptcy court to impose changes unilaterally on their workforce.

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The Sordid Details that Brought United to Where it is Today

The Chicago Sun Times printed the first part of a two-part exerpt of The Shame of the Friendly Skies by Paul H. Weaver. While I doubt it will be as riveting a read as Thomas Petzinger’s masterful Hard Landing — a must read for any aviation enthusiast. It will, though, become just as important a piece of United Airlines history as biographies of Pat Patterson. I do plan to read the book, so I’ll certainly have more to say on the subject, but the article does reveal a $47 million kickback to a corporation controlled by the pilots union in exchange for averting a holiday work slowdown. Interesting stuff.

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