Cranky on the Web (July 19-23)

Airport Effort to Charge More During Peak Times Could Hurt PassengersBNET
Airports are one step closer to being able to charge more to airlines during peak times. This may not be a good plan.

JetBlue and American: Why Frequent-Flier Sharing Makes SenseBNET
JetBlue and American have gotten one step closer to each other by starting frequent flier earning on select flights.

Delta Earnings: Outlook Weak Despite Strong Industry Premium Traffic TrendsBNET
Lots of conflicting information out this week. Huge profits but weaker outlook = confusion.

LA World Airports Smartly Reconsiders Regionalization StrategyBNET
Interesting words from the LA airport folks – they’re thinking twice about the regionalization strategy now that traffic is so far down at LAX itself. Good.

Continental and Wired: How Not to Do a Promotional PartnershipBNET
Continental has teamed up with Wired to do a pretty awful job of promotion.

20 Responses to Cranky on the Web (July 19-23)

  1. tharanga says:

    I’d agree that changing the number of slots would be a more direct way of limiting peak usage to the actual capability of the airspace and airfield, but the airlines would scream and complain about that, too. And if some of your complaints matter, they’ll apply either way. No matter how you do it, if you reduce the number of movements during peak times, then you’ll change frequencies, desirability of connections, etc. It has to.

    • CF says:

      You’re not kidding that the airlines would scream and complain, but if someone who is better versed in ops than I gets the feds to agree that there are too many operations scheduled, then that’s the only way to fix it. Charging more during peak times isn’t going to reduce operations.

      • frank says:

        Require only LARGE aircraft to operate during peak periods. Get those pesky RJ’s off the runway during peak. Only allow aircraft with 150 seats or more during that time frame.

        • CF says:

          If you do that, then you seal the fate of service to smaller cities during peak times. Nobody wants that.

          • frank says:

            Service still exists….just not during peak times for commuter flights.

            according to the article:

            After a great deal of legal wrangling, airports have finally won the right to begin charging airlines more for flights that go during peak times. The idea is to reduce the number of flights traveling at peak times. While it may sound good in theory, I think it’s going to be pretty ugly in practice.

            NOBODY wants to cancel/reduce a large aircraft making a profit either.

  2. Ron says:

    Alex is not useless. She’s a talking search engine. And given that Continental’s navigation is broken, and there’s no traditional search box or any other search functionality, Alex is the only way to get to some parts of the web site.

  3. Sean S. says:

    I disagree with your assertion that LAX agreement with its neighbors was a bad idea. Thats the result of a system where airport planners, or any specific agency, cannot just rule by fiat where to build and destroy things. I’m an air travel/airline fan myself, but I’m not going to get behind the constant refrain from some quarters that we have to become like Dubai or other countries where planners rule by fiat in order to have modern air service.

    In fact I find the Master Settlement to be a model for airport agreements going forward. It will result in arguably one of the most efficient, environmentally sustainable airports in the world, by nature of the requirements of reducing traffic congestion, LEED certification of new buildings, the use of alternative fuels for LAWA’s fleet vehicles, and the significant reduction in energy and water use all with a strong auditing component. I can’t think of a better way for an airport to operate.

    • CF says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. When LAX was planned in the 1920s, it was surrounded by farmland. Neighborhoods encroached on the area, so why should the airport bow to them? The airport is the only airport outside of distant Ontario with any chance of growth. If you stymie the growth of the airport, then you stymie the growth of the region.

      • Sean S. says:

        LAX being surrounded by farmland is irrelevant; most of America was farmland at the time, so any expansion, by history, wasn’t in ANY city. And connecting the LAX of then to the LAX of now in an era of deregulated, international non stop travel is absurd. LAX having happened to be built in the 20′s doesn’t give it some Bible-clad right to do whatever it wants for all history.

        Even compared to the auto industry I don’t think there is any industry who proponents are less attuned to the reality of whats going on environmentally than the airline industry. From the airport to the plane, the way business is done will have to change, if not by federal regulation, than by the sheer, ever increasing expense of fuel and energy to run the vast infrastructure airlines and airports need. And that also means the reduction, inevitably, of flight especially on certain domestic trunk routes.

        Thats why I find a certain hilarity in the rah-rahing of large airport projects in the Middle East, where energy is limited to natural gas and oil production. What will happen to Al Maktoum when not only aviation fuel prices rise, which will inevitably happen, but also the very energy it requires to keep the lights on? The answer is it won’t be pretty.

        • CF says:

          It’s not irrelevant at all. Why should airports have to move or shrink simply because others moved in around them? Airports are huge economic generators – that’s often why people move in around them because they are creating the economy. Then people move in and decide that they hate the airport. It’s just absurd and they should have no right to dictate what happens. As someone who moved in near the flight path at an airport, I knew what I was getting into. That’s the way it should be.

          Your assertion that this industry is less attuned to the environment than others is incredibly far from the truth. Airlines have their priorities directly aligned with the environment. They want more fuel-efficient airplanes and they want alternative energy sources. Many airlines have already run test flights with alternate fuels, and the progress made since the first jet engine has been huge.

          As for airports, most airport design is looking at better using energy and becoming more efficient. Others are building insane palaces, but I’ve railed against those here as well. I find that this industry is quite closely tuned to the environment when it comes to improving its performance on the whole, but there are always some bad apples.

          • Sean S. says:

            “Airports are huge economic generators – that’s often why people move in around them because they are creating the economy. Then people move in and decide that they hate the airport. ”

            This is the kind of ridiculous triumphalism that airlines and airports love to boast about, but its hardly true, though LAX may be an exception due to its connection to the Southern California aerospace industry, which has long since deteriorated. And again it misses the point; many extractive industries are economic generators, but that hardly means they can do what they want willy nilly. Same with Ports that generate huge amounts of emissions and smog. Or for that matter any other industry with large environmental footprints. Threatening economic development and jobs is the constant canard of groups that want to pave over everything when told they can’t do something.

            Your argument that “you knew what you were getting into” might be a valid point if real estate were infinite and jobs didn’t require relocation. Since neither of those are true, people most of the time end up where they can afford, and somewhere where they can put food on the table. And they have a right, amazing enough, not to have undue air/noise pollution, or whatever environmental ailments that an industry they are located near generates.

            And asserting that airlines “care” about the environment is hilarious when they seem to be suing the EU for the recent emissions taxation scheme, have overhwelmingly opposed any sort of cap and trade program, and have managed to carve out exceptions for emissions in most major environmental treaties and bilaterals. Do airlines care about fuel costs? Yes. Do they care about the environment? No. If they could kill all environmental legislation to save a buck they would, and especially if it resulted in the reduction of oil prices.

            Are airports trying to be more sustainable? In many cases yes. But that also drives up the cost of construction of new airports. And it isn’t also entirely because of their own volition; it is because they have to make good on noise reduction and, more importantly, air quality due to lawsuits.

          • CF says:

            The SoCal aerospace industry has shrunk dramatically, but if you look at all those buildings along Imperial Hwy on the south side, you’ll see it’s all aerospace. Boeing, Raytheon, and plenty of others have big presences around the airport to this day.

            I’m not sure why you’re suggesting that I want to “pave over everything” here. Nobody is arguing for LAX to expand beyond its current borders except for the argument to push a runway a bit further north for safety reasons. That should happen, but it doesn’t need to happen. The argument is about what LAX does within its borders. Putting an artificial cap that requires gates to start disappearing doesn’t help anyone significantly. Instead, it hurts a lot of other people down the line.

            Not sure how familiar you are with SoCal real estate, but the cheapest real estate is nowhere near LAX. So if it’s an issue of people going where they can afford, they wouldn’t be in this neighborhood. People choose living in this area because it’s convenient to a lot of places, and that’s because LAX is there as a center of commerce. And why do these people have a right to not have “undue air/noise pollution”? El Segundo, the city to the south, was founded as a refinery. (That’s why it’s El Segundo, it was Chevron’s second refinery in California.) Why should anyone be able to just waltz in and then claim that they want the noise and air pollution to go away? Go move somewhere else.

            The airlines are opposing a cap and trade scheme because they, unfortunately, don’t have much control over their emissions. Sure, they’re doing what they can to reduce it, but it’s highly dependent upon a) air traffic control and b) aircraft manufacturers. If airlines could fly their planes on direct routings with the most efficient fuel burn profile, they would do it every time. But air traffic control prevents that. Meanwhile, when aircraft manufacturers come out with more efficient aircraft, airlines jump on them, like the 787. But the reality is that air travel is incredibly efficient when compared to other industries and they produce a relatively small amount of pollution.

            Clearly, we’re never going to see eye to eye on this.

  4. Dan says:

    Cranky,

    One problem with discussing slot controls is that only three airports are actively slot controlled: DCA, ORD, and LGA. There are two more airports that would be slot controlled, but the controls are suspended until further nortice: JFK and EWR. (Source: http://www.fly.faa.gov/ecvrs/)

    • CF says:

      I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I’m exactly following what this was referring to?

      • Dan says:

        We talk about “slot controls” at airports, but the point I was trying to raise is that most airports aren’t slot controlled. Only five are, and the link that I referenced was how you make a slot reservation if you’re not a scheduled airliner. I couldn’t find a source that says “these airports are slot controlled” so the next best thing was the slot reservation reservation the feds have.

        • CF says:

          Yeah, true, but how many other airports need slot controls? If they do, then the feds should look to add them and restrict capacity that way.

  5. Dan says:

    Cranky,

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think you down-played the benefits of booking a single-ticket on a B6/AA TATL itinerary. You say that what they’re providing isn’t new, but now you get frequent flyer miles.

    That’s not entirely true. In addition, if you book as a single-ticket, and you mis-connect, AA is obligated to accommodate you, at no charge to you, on the next available flight. To me, on an international itinerary, with a connection at JFK, this really is a BFD. Preventing problems would have required an overly long connection time. Now, you’d be a misconnect instead of a no-show, and that’s a pretty big difference.

    • CF says:

      You’re right. I really mean that it’s not a big deal in that it’s something airlines do with each other all the time. But it is a big deal for a passenger that books this as opposed to two separate trips and gets stuck.

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