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Archive for August, 2008

Unions hate management and management hates union. Both tend to believe that they are entirely responsible in running the company. Both also seem to have entirely different view on how the airline should be run and how each one of them should be paid. Since 2000, the airlines have gone from bad to worse, with negative cash flow and worse union-management relations.

The union-management relationships for United Airlines are no exceptions. Recently, United Airlines’ union and management were in news for court battle with the airline suing ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association) over illegal work practices.

Charges are as follows –

  • Orchestrating work slowdown since 2006
  • Flurry of sick days taken by junior pilots in late July 2006 causing 329 flight cancellations over 8 days while disrupting 36,000 passengers
  • Sharp increase in maintenance-related delays ordered by pilots over the past year
  • Sharp increase in fuel consumption over the past year.

ALPA denies all charges. “The pilots union countered that United was alleging a broader pattern
of abuse because it couldn’t prove the charge that had caused it to
seek an emergency court order in the first place: that ALPA had
directed the flurry of sick days taken by junior pilots likely to lose
their jobs at the summer’s end.”
(from here).

On a separate note, ALPA is trying to oust United’s Chief Executive Glenn Tilton. They have a website by his name – http://www.glenntilton.com/ with the punch line “Glenn Tilton Must Go – United Pilots Ask Your Help in Removing an Incapable Leader”.

(more…)

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Samsung has installed 50 free charging stations at Newark Liberty International Airport in Terminals A, B and C.

The station has 4 outlets that allows to charge 4 devices simultaneously. Though the charging station is small for charging big laptops, though will be useful for cellphones and small notebooks.

Will definitely be very useful if you are stuck at the airport and your phone battery runs out of juice, especially because you kept refreshing your emails, calling up your friends to kill time and/or reading news/blogs :).

From CNET

“Samsung Mobile has already recently installed free charging stations in
several U.S. airports including 54 at JFK, 51 at LAX, 12 in LaGuardia,
18 in Orlando, and 22 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.”

“Also, from the looks of it, the shelf could use more space. How do they expect me to charge my 17-inch laptop on that thing? I guess I’ll be copping a squat under the station if I want to be able to watch movies on long flights.”

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Earlier I had blogged about the world’s most expensive private jets. Since the Hawker 4000 is below 30 million tag to qualify for the top ten, I had completely ignored it, but got a renewed interest recently with CNN and Fortune reporting about it.

Features of this business jet –

  • Price Tag$21,000,000 ($2 mil cheaper than Gulfstream G200 and $7 mil cheaper than Falcon DX)
  • Range – 3,28- nautical miles (US coast to coast or NYC to London)
  • Fuselage – Composite-body (70% stronger than Aluminum, does not corrode, easier to repair and no life limit) jet composed of 3 pieces.
  • Cutting Edge – cutting-edge avionics, auto throttle, and multiple duplicate systems (for safety) unavailable in comparable-size jets
  • Luxury – More interior space (average of 6 feet head room), unlimited leather, wood floors, 8-12 passenger accommodation (8 with 4 pairs of club chairs with writing tables), Digital Cabin air conditioning and pressurization systems.
  • Wait – Due to fractional private jet ownership companies like NetJet, etc. the current wait is somewhere around 2.5 years.

From CNN

“Which is why I was particularly curious to take a joy ride in July on
the brand-new Hawker 4000, the first plane to offer big-jet safety and
technology features at a midsized-jet price.”

For more information from Hawker Beechcraft Website –
Cabin Tour
Cockpit Tour
Specifications

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American Airlines recently launched internet service on some of its transcontinental flights. It is currently available on the airlines’ 28 flights a day as served by its 767-200 fleet with the help of Aircell (using the Gogo system). The airline have not committed to installing to other of their flights till the next 3-6 months of testing.

Other than American Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Virgin America has also announced to install Aircell’s system by the end of the year. Other airlines like Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, etc. are also looking into other internet providers.

Facts about internet on the sky –

  • Price – $9.95 for connectivity on flights shorter than 3 hours and $12.95 for rest.
  • Types of Service – Cell Towers (AirCell – the company has erected cell towers) and Satellite systems (Row 44 – the company uses Hughes’ satellite network system)
  • More – The noisy business passenger that keeps himself/herself to his/her emails and lets you enjoy your flight in peace – PRICELESS 🙂

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Kingfisher Airlines (merged into Deccan Aviation) became the second major private Indian Airlines after Jet Airways to get the permission to fly to foreign destinations. The aviation ministry of India has approved the airlines for seven flights a week between Bangalore and London on a Airbus A330 from August 26th 2008.

Kingfisher Airlines is run by Vijay Mallya who seems to be the Sir Richard Branson of India.

From Wikipedia – “Kingfisher is one of six airlines in the world to have a five-star rating from Skytrax, along with Asiana Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.

From Press Trust of India

According to guidelines an Indian
carrier can fly abroad only after serving the domestic market for five
years and having a fleet of 20 aircraft.



Kingfisher Airlines was merged into Deccan Aviation with the
sanction of the Karnataka High Court. Following this, all the 43
aircraft on the Scheduled Operators Permit (SOP) of Kingfisher were
transferred and endorsed on the SOP of Deccan Aviation with the
approval of the DGCA.”

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American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia announced today that they have signed “a commercial agreement to cooperate over flights between North America and Europe to help overcome soaring fuel costs”. The tie is also supposed to benefit for the open skies agreement between Europe and US.

Also, as a part of the new agreement all the three airlines have filed for worldwide anti-trust immunity from US DOT (Department of Transportation) over the tie up. This would be American Airlines’ and British Airways’ third attempt at immunity request.

Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson is very annoyed. He has termed the possible approval as a “monster monopoly” and “third time unlucky for customers”.

Meanwhile British Airways and Iberia are also discussing (separately) their own merger plans.

I personally think that air passengers will benefit from the deal by being able to fly seamlessly on the Oneworld network while gaining/using/benefiting points/miles on all loyalty programs.

From AFP

Oneworld said that it “warmly welcomed and strongly supports the application for anti-trust immunity.”

It
added in a statement: “Anti-trust immunity between oneworld’s
transatlantic partners would enable them to unlock even more of
oneworld’s potential, enabling us to operate under the same rules as
our alliance competitors” SkyTeam and Star.

merican Airlines, BA and Iberia said in a joint statement that their
new alliance would allow them to “expand customer choice by supporting
routes that would not be economically viable for the individual
airlines.”

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American Airlines had the policy of waiving the first two bags for active service matters and charge $100 for the third (which was reimbursable). There was a big uproar over the charge, causing the airlines to waive the $100 charge as well. It all started with a false allegation in an article that the airline is charging for checked bags.

Personally I feel that the uproar was uncalled for, especially because –
1. Most of the legacy carriers are very generous for active service members in uniform with respect to upgrades, free stuff, etc.
2. The third bag fee was reimbursable.
3. No other industry can match the generosity that the airline provides to the active service members. Does Starbucks upgrade your coffee for free? Does McDonalds adds in a free frys and coke? Does the car dealership add in the upgrades for free?

From The Seattle Times

“On Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann called the airline and its
chief executive, Gerard Arpey, the “worst persons in the world” for
“nickel-and-diming the soldiers.””

“The airline charged $100 for a third bag, but soldiers could obtain
vouchers in advance from the military to cover the expense. If they
didn’t have a voucher before the flight, they would have to pay the fee
with cash or a credit card but would be reimbursed by the military.”

“The policy is nearly identical to that of most other airlines. But
American was singled out for criticism after a report last month in the
El Paso Times, in which a soldier complained about having to pay a $100
to check an extra duffel bag loaded with military gear.”

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