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Archive for February, 2009

Last year US Airways started charging $2 for non-alcoholic beverages ($1 for coffee/tea) on board their flights. The charge was started during the crude oil’s rendezvous with $150/barrel, but was not followed by any other airlines. Recently, US Airways’ CEO Chairman, Doug Parker, announced that they are withdrawing the charge and resuming free beverages on the flights.

It is a common practice by airlines to start some charge (or withdraw) them and see if other airlines follow the initiative (or not). This is specially important since the airlines are not supposed to talk with each other on these initiatives or fare prices due the laws against price-fixing.

Good for all of us, except for US Airways’ flight attendants :).

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We all miss flights, some of them are very important and make us very angry. I think for those who have missed those important flights, this might be a video worth watching :).

Some facts – The video seems to be at some gate in the Hong Kong Airport. The language does not matter 🙂

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Yesterday night around 10:20 pm a Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, lost altitude while landing into Buffalo NY and crashed into a house outside Buffalo. The crash caused a huge fire, causing 50 deaths (including all passengers & crew on-board and 1 person in the house).

This is the first fatal incidence for a commercial aircraft for USA in the last 2.5 years.

One of the passengers on board was the widow of a person who died in 9/11/2001 attacks – Beverly Eckert who was heading to Buffalo to celebrate her husband’s 58th birthday.

From Mizozo.com

In the nation’s first fatal commercial plane crash after 2.5 years, a Continental Connection Flight 3407 (Dash-8), operated by Colgan Air, lost altitude while landing at Buffalo NY and crashed into a suburban home out side Buffalo. The crash resulted in 50 deaths (49 on the plane and 1 in the house). The Dash-8 turboprop went down around 10:20pm EST on Thursday. There was some light snow and fog at that time.

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It is a scary video, but this is probably what happened with the US Airways flight 1549 that crash landed in the Hudson River –

Details from youtube –
Wide Body, Blade-Out Jet Engine Test
Short video showing what
happens when a foreign object such as a large bird is ingested in a jet
engine. You don’t want to be onboard!!!!
The joke during training
was that you could ingest a 5 lb. bird at 250 kts………. or a 250 lb
bird at 5 kts. They actually have a “chicken gun” they use to fire the
chickens into the engines for these tests.

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The government of India has approved a temporary fee of Rs. 200 (around $4) per passenger on all domestic flights and Rs. 1,300 (around $26) per passenger on all international flights. The fees will be charged starting March 1st 2009 and is supposed to be for 36 months only. The fees collected will directly be used to pay the developers for the current development projects and is expected to cover the estimated shortfall of Rs 1,827 crore (around $365 mil)

Similar fees had been already enforced for India’s Hyderabad and Bangalore  Airports.

From Hindustan Times

The development fee will be paid to the Delhi International Airport
Ltd (DIAL), which has the Bangalore-based infrastructure major GMR and
the state-run Airports Authority of India as principal promoters.

The company has been mandated to upgrade and modernise the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

“The development fee, which is being levied purely on an ad hoc
basis, is inclusive of all applicable taxes and is for a period of 36
months only,” an official communique from the civil aviation ministry
said.

The government or the designated regulator will determine the final
development fee, based on final cost estimates presented by the
developer, for which Aug 31 has been set as the deadline, the
communique said.

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First the food, then the bags, then no-pretzels, then the beverages and now pillow and blankets ($7 in-flight and online)? US Airways seem to be moving to a charge for everything. Gone are the days when US Airways was headquartered in Arlington VA and was one of the nicer legacy carriers. Though, there are some advantages to charging for everything for US Airways –

  • The pillow and blankets will be cleaner and of better quality (JetBlue started it)
  • The beverage service is much faster
  • Coffee and Tea are $1 each and with unlimited refills.
  • Flight attendants are much nicer (and so much better dressed!!!)

Earlier I use to justify these charges on fuel prices but now the economy? It is true, airlines are still losing money, same as I am losing money on my house. But my problem is once, the economy turns around, will these changes be rolled back? Or there will be another reason not to?

I think most of the airlines pray for the following –

  • Seats are filled more than 100% times without the change in airfare.
  • Crude oil stays low at around $40 or lower
  • Economy booms back for high paying corporate clients
  • Weather never hits their hubs – maybe come up with a weather machine 🙂
  • People keep flying to exotic places, maybe even make some week as “Exotic Travel Week”.
  • Add a couple of more long weekends (they make a killing with most of them).

Am I missing anything?

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