A Little More From US Airways

Airport Experience, Baggage, Government Regulation, Inflight Entertainment, Mergers/Finance, Schedule Changes, US Airways

Ok, as requested (by at least one person), here are the rest of my notes from US Airways Media Day. I could try to make it all nice and pretty, but nah I’ll just try to make them legible and let you do the rest. These were taken in order during all the talks. I’ll only include the things I didn’t write about a couple days ago.

Overview from Doug Parker and Scott Kirby

  • As of a couple of weeks ago, fuel was expected to cost $800m more this year. Fuel has now gone much higher, so that number will be worse if it holds.
  • They’re going to test a new in-seat inflight entertainment system on one domestic plane this year. That may or may involve internet access, but they aren’t sure.

Schedule Planning/Fleet with Andrew Nocella

  • The domestic network will either be flat or shrink a little. All the growth will be internationally.
  • This year, there will be 10 767s and 9 A330-300s in the fleet, no change from last year. Next year, they’ll add the first 6 of the smaller and longer range A330-200s followed by 6 in 2010 and 5 in 2011.
  • If demand starts going down or fuel gets to be too pricey, they have the flexibility to dump the 767s if they want.
  • Between now and 2011, they expect to add 14 new flights to 9 new European cities.
  • New destinations will be served from Philly, and they make a note to include the Middle East as being a possibility.
  • Phoenix may get flights to Europe and/or Asia, but it probably won’t be until 2010 at the earliest.
  • Charlotte flights to London and Frankfurt do well, and they will likely add flights from Charlotte to destinations already served from Philly. They are also looking at South America from Charlotte and have already applied for Bogotá. (my note: They just lost out yesterday and didn’t get awarded Bogotá.)
  • They’re still trying to figure out how to serve Beijing. The plan was to use A340s, but they have yet to find any that they can get their hands on (cheaply, I would assume). They can serve the route with A330-200s, but they’d rather not.
  • Vegas may get some international flights, but it’s not a focus.
  • 737s will be gone by 2011. Only 18 757s will be kept, all for Transatlantic flying. So, you’ll see Airbus narrowbodies and Embraer 190s on domestic flights (plus Express carriers).
  • They’d like to get rid of as many 50 seaters as they can

Envoy Enhancements with Kevin Jackson and Sherri Shamblin

  • US Airways surveyed 636 Envoy customers who traveled in Feb 2007. 60% of them paid, so these were people they wanted feedback from.
  • US Airways ranked slightly above American, Delta, and Northwest and slightly below United. Air France, Continental, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic finished higher (unsurprisingly, I’d say).
  • The number one most important factor was that “Flight attendants treat you like a valued customer.” Second was “Meal Quality.” That’s where the airline has been focusing.

Philly Hub with Suzanne Boda

  • This year, they’ll be working to improve checkpoint staffing and improve international re-check of bags
  • By next summer, they’ll have 3 to 6 new intl gates, bigger checkpoints at B and C, and improved airport signage
  • By 2010, the F (Express) terminal will be redesigned and they will have inline baggage screening.
  • In the long term they want 16 new gates (inclusive of the previous 3 to 6)
  • They’d had 56 straight days without a transatlantic cancellation in Philly – over 1100 flights.

Finance with Derek Kerr

  • $300m being spent this year on improving the airline.
  • 30% of costs are fuel, 26% labor, and 13% aircraft/airport rents
  • Every $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil, annual costs go up $37m for the airline.
  • It costs $31m per day to run the airline (at previously lower fuel levels, I assume).
  • Combine $3b in cash with no major debt payments until 2014, and they’re ready to weather a poor economy if need be.

Government Relations with C.A. Howlett (Yes, he’s still there)

  • Trying to get government to allow airlines to convert Washington/National flights from inside the 1,250 mile perimeter to outside
  • Also trying to convince the government to let them trade 2 slots from inside the perimeter for one outside (as long as the new flight is on an aircraft smaller than a 757). This will help increase the size of aircraft and reduce the number of flights at LaGuardia. To use a 757, they’d need to trade another slot. If that happens, look for long haul flying out of LGA very quickly.
  • Very concerned about all the states trying to enact different passenger rights legislations. It will be really hard to comply without a common standard.

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6 comments on “A Little More From US Airways

  1. Did they mention the new European cities?

    I flew USAir last week. Good overall with special kudos to the AmericaWest crew for SFO-PHI and complains for the land agent who made me check in the hand luggage plane-side in PHI and it wasn’t returned plane-side in RDU. I had to wait for all luggage to come out. What a waste of time…

  2. Nope, no word on European cities specifically. I tend to think that since the new cities would be served from Philly, they’re going to need to find some more gates first.

  3. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Robert Johnson and I am Board Co-Chair of Frequent Flyers Organized and Concerned about Unacceptable Service or FFOCUS (http://www.ffocus.org). I very much enjoyed your article on US Airways. However, while the article highlighted many salient points it completely ignored the customer experience on US Airways along with the changes in policy that have eliminated perks and more importantly some rights that consumers have under the Contract of Carriage.

    While it is laudable that US Airways finished number one in on time performance in January, one should take note of the other 26 months post merger when US Airways was below the middle of the pack and often dead last among all carriers reporting to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

    Additionally US Airways has ranked in the bottom 20% of all airlines reporting in consumer complaints as reported to the DOT. The same applies to lost & delayed baggage again dismal performance in this customer critical area.In March of 2007 US Airways combined the two airlines reservation system and caused massive cancellations and long lines, broken kiosks that saw performance on International flights drop into the single digits in some cases. This took place while Mr Kirby was in front of your colleagues telling them that the “Res Migration” was a success. As you know this proved to be totally false.

    As regular flyers our membership has first hand experience with the continued decline in customer service across the US Airways system. One need only look at the appearance of the aircraft to see the lack of concern regarding the customer experience.

    US Airways in our opinion has a credibility problem with both the media and its customers.
    Warmest regards

    Robert Johnson
    Board Co-Chair

  4. Thanks for writing, Robert. I don’t disagree with anything you say, and fortunately, the airline is now acknowledging just about all of that as well. There’s no question that they’ve run a crappy operation for awhile, but all we can do now is hope that COO Robert Isom can get it working right again. If not, then it’s time to find another airline!

  5. Robert Johnson forgets that improvement take time. All of what he stated is old news. Journalist don’t cover old news. My experience has been the opposite. I never flew east metal, so I have never been a on dirty aircraft I have never been delayed more than a half hour(which was annoying,but nothing like the four hour disaster on Delta back in 1991). I did not have with the res migration Lines are fact of life in air travel even on the best days. Therefore, I always give myself a suitable cushion especially when traveling far to the airport. A CSA actually remembered me and asked how I was doing. Perks don’t matter to me. I think FF programs are crap in general. They keep customers chained to them with high mileage redemption requirements. It . With ticket prices going up, I would like use miles to defray the cost of the ticket as I earn them not when I reach some ridiculous minimum. It come back to them as revenue anyway. People hoard them(ever hear of the mileage run?) and they wonder why they expire? T Give me break. Business travelers have choices now: They can hold remote meeting(conference calls, online meetings) Those who can afford it are flocking to private jets(The real competition for business travelers) The old rules don’t apply anymore. I used to hate the fees, but I realize I will have to pay more in the fare anyway. I only hate having to carry more money.
    That said here are my complaints:
    I agree that US has the nerve to charge for mileage award ticket along with bags. Almost everyone checks bags. The don’t pay for what don’t need premise does not work here.
    Second, what took them so long to admit it? They wasted precious time. I always gave them the benefit of the doubt,because my experience was not so horrible, but others won’t as evidenced by message board posts and Johnson’s letter.

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