What On Earth is This Man Doing to the Seat?

New and notes from around the interweb:

  • Air Italy lost 164 million euros in its first year since rebranding which is actually less money than American Airlines lost flying passengers in the third and fourth quarter of 2018. Of course American Airlines has what their executives call ‘the card program’ that subsidizes their flying.

    Now, Air Italy’s losses amount to over half the carrier’s revenue, which by the way is another reason to believe they’ll be no threat at all to U.S. airlines. That’s simply not something Qatar Airways is going to stick with indefinitely.

  • The South China Morning Post‘s Danny Lee‘s reporting confirms what I told you, that the departure of the CEO and Chief Commercial Officer at Cathay Pacific was demanded by Beijing. In replacing the CEO with their head of HAECO, Swire Group gets a Chinese face for the airline who is seen as pro-mainland.

  • Government subsidies for United’s Washington Dulles hub are helping to grow passenger traffic

    Alarmed by Dulles’s downward spiral, elected leaders rushed to find solutions. The key, they said, was reducing what it cost airlines to do business at Dulles. The calculation, known in the industry as “cost per enplanement,” takes airlines’ costs to do business at an airport (rent, landing fees, etc.) divided by the number of enplaned passengers. A higher number of passengers helps lower the cost.

    At Dulles, the cost per enplanement had risen to about $25, compared with less than $14 at National and about $10 at BWI.

    In 2016, Virginia’s governor, Terry McAuliffe (D), unveiled a plan that would give $50 million to Dulles over two years to help reduce costs to airlines.

    The money was key in persuading officials at United to sign a new lease ensuring that the carrier would remain at the airport through 2025. The airports authority board also approved a measure that allowed officials to shift revenue between National and Dulles.

  • Even if you opt out of airport facial recognition, your image is already part of the gallery created before each flight.

  • TSA barred a teenager with autism from flying because of course they did.

  • Caption this.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Nice article about Dulles, but it fails to mention that the Dulles decline in passengers coincides perfectly with United’s decision, following the merger with Continental, to have Newark replace Dulles as their primary European gateway. If United would bring some of those international flights back to Dulles, it would jump the Dulles passenger count.

    Also, the article blames the decision to put the Dulles Metro station at an above-ground location far from the terminal on cost considerations. The cost issue related only to the decision to build above-ground, rather than below-ground. The decision to put the above-ground station far away from the terminal, rather than adjacent to the terminal like Reagan National’s above-ground Metro station, was driven by security issues as much as by cost.

    The best way to “fix” Dulles is to build the new C/D terminal.

  2. Dulles is much improved in the last 5-10 years. And if you are in Northern Virginia outside the beltway, it is also the closest, and there is a lot of growth in that area. I do wish they would build the new C/D, but don’t expect that any time soon. At least the Polaris lounge is under construction. In fact, the lounges like BA, AF, LH, VA and TK in A/B already beat the DCA lounges since they are more geared to international flights. A/B seems underutilized during the early part of the day, but C/D is crowded all the time. If they expect the other several million passengers to be added by UA before they renovate it, C/D is really going to get bad. Of course, DCA will be upping its game after its renovation connects all the concourses after security.

  3. It’s not just $50 million in subsidies, it’s also this: “In 2018, the authority sold 424 acres of land adjacent to Dulles known as the Western Lands. The approximately $200 million generated from the sale will be used to control the airport’s cost per enplanement.”

    This is a classic case of “eating your seed corn” — that land can’t now be used to grow the airport or other related facilities, and it can’t be sold again to keep CPE low. When that money runs out, CPE will go right back up, and the cycle will start over again with no solution in sight.

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