This week’s featured link:
Dear Virgin America – Richard Branson’s Virgin Blog
Richard Branson is a sad panda. His weepy goodbye to Virgin America is book-ended with digs at Alaska. That’s pretty crappy since Alaska just made him a whole lot richer. He acts like there was nothing he could do to save Virgin America from this fate, and he’s right. He was able to keep the airline afloat while it lost hundreds of millions of dollars for years. So when the time came to actually get a payday, you’re damn right the investors wanted out. I can appreciate the sentiment of saying goodbye, but I have no sympathy for Branson.
Two for the road:
Why The Circular Runway Concept Would Not Work – NYC Aviation
There’s been a lot of talk about this goofy idea of a circular runway. NYC Aviation digs in to show all the problems involved.
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Earn Top Customer Experience Ratings for Airlines, According to Temkin Group – Temkin Group PR
Ratings are a dime a dozen as many firms try to build credibility and sell services through these often useless metrics. But rarely are ratings as baffling as this one. Temkin put out a release for 2017 ratings showing AirTran as the second best airline. AirTran, of course, hasn’t existed for a few years. US Airways is on the list as well. Who the heck pays for this kind of stuff?
Oh, cranky, I love you but the dateline in the press release clearly says 2012. Take a long weekend and rest up!
JG – Damn, pulled the wrong link. I guess they just say the same thing every year. Updating now, but here is the current one.
Richard Branson is like the guy who sells his house, then gets mad because the new owners remodeled the kitchen.
Unless your house costs over 2 billions to sell I’d be mad too.
He put a lot into building that house only to have his neighbors buy it and take pieces for their own house before setting it on fire.
All within the byline and first two paragraphs of the survey article:
“NEWS PROVIDED BY
Feb 24, 2012, 09:10 ET”
WABAN, Mass., Feb. 24, 2012
“The research, which is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012”
Haven’t seen AirTran and Continental mentioned in the same breath in quite a while!
Yes, this has been updated. I pulled the wrong link from 2012.
Don’t think we can blame cranky for the 5 year time warp. Here’s a version which (as of this writing, they might correct it in the future) says 2017 and AirTran: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/southwest-airlines-and-airtran-earn-top-customer-experience-ratings-for-airlines-according-to-temkin-group-300425443.html
Re: Branson. I think he has a point about less and less competition in the US market being overall bad for consumers (he implied and I read between the lines) however he wasn’t willing to endlessly personally finance an airline for the benefit of us lowly consumers. Not for one minute do I think Branson cares about “us” and anything Virgin America was allegedly doing for us. He’s in it for himself and he took the first exit opportunity he found to divest. If they went BK and he lost everything…then he’s got room to whine. Here…not so much.
I’m no Alaska fanboy but to the victor goes the spoils. Hey Branson, go write a letter to the 3 year old you ’cause you’re acting like a toddler.
Richard Branson expressed no emotion any different from any entrepreneur or fan of aviation. He just happened to be both. Given that Virgin Atlantic was decades old, the thrill of creating a new airline was what motivated him to create and be passionate about Virgin America. It takes about five seconds reading any aviation blog, including this one, to realize that there is a whole lot of emotion involved in the airline business and a lot of it is divorced from financial reality.
Virgin America failed and ended up having to be sold because it “violated” some basic rules of airline success, the first of which being that the vast majority of its route system was point to point routes that competed against much larger airlines which had hubs on one or both ends of the route. Ironically, Virgin Atlantic struggled for years to compete against British Airways and other airlines for the very same reason. The reason why Virgin Atlantic has turned around so dramatically with the Delta partnership is because Delta offers VS hubs on at least one end of most of its transatlantic flights. Alaska will create mass for Virgin America that will help it compete even if LAX and SFO still won’t be the hubs that SEA is.
Branson tried. He, like a whole lot of aviation pioneers before him, was passionate about Virgin America but he was ultimately out-strategized by people who didn’t knew how to run airlines very well and not try to create conglomerates.
Some day, history might reveal which Virgin businesses was his true “baby” but for now, let him grieve.
He might be a whole lot richer than us but he expresses many of the same raw emotions that many aviation fans experience at one time or another.
As someone who rode and reported on Virgin’s first flight (Airliners, Nov/Dec 2007) I agree with your take on Branson, and Phil’s take on circular runways. For more, see David Rowell: http://blog.thetravelinsider.info/2017/03/circular-runways.html
The Temkin group press release appears to be from 2012, not 2017 ?!
When the next downturn occurs, who knows if VX would have survived. The investors probably saw the same thing and once they a nice buyout offer, they took their money. Can’t blame them. I’m still not sure how strong VX was as a company. It was alright as an airline, but it wasn’t the greatest thing on earth like some people are bemoaning.
As an aside, your graphic of a VX engine shredding money is one of my faves.
I once saw VX described as the airline everyone wants to fly and nobody wants to own.
I have flown them. In coach on short hauls (SFO-LAS) they really weren’t anything special. Much preferred the extra inches of leg room in UA E+, even if there was no purple mood lighting.
My experience is the same; I’ve only flown VX SAN-SFO. When it comes down to it, on a short flight, there really isn’t much chance to differentiate the airlines.
Airplanes going around in circles like that is nothing new. We had that in the 1960s when I was a kid it was called the airplane Kiddie ride at the carnival. The planes went around and around and around and around…..LOL
Also the Astro Orbiter/Rocket Jets at Disneyland.
Airline’s can claim to be the best at this or that, win awards for magazine, wine etc….but unless you receive that service, its all talk…..cabin crew can make or break a flight in the air, if they are in a bad mood, look out….where are those cheerful people who always wear a smile, who drop a drink and go, or make you feel bad for asking for something, a lot more can be said….then you have those cabin crew who love their jobs and who genuinely care about their service, take pride in their appearance…..same goes for all aspect of the business….gate agents, reservations etc….adds on tv or in magazines can make an airline seem amazing and you must fly them….its luck of the draw as to what you will get….airlines claim consistently great service…..they dont…..delayed flights can try passenger and employees attitude…..would be nice to see service that is advertised or said they offer….
I know Cranky is a realist (and apparently not interested in aesthetics) so he never loved VX, but true innovation died a little with the AS announcement that the Virgin America brand was going away. It is a sad day for people who love to fly and who appreciate thinking differently than the other boring airlines.
I’ve never heard of the “Temkin Group”, but if this report is indicative of the quality of their work, I’m not surprised. I wonder if they do a survey of retail stores that still includes Montgomery Ward, or a survey of car brands with Saturn at the top?
It’s possible they included AirTran and US Airways on the survey list since there may have been planes wandering around in their liveries in early 2016, or they thought customers might still think of those carriers even if the liveries changfed, but to not fold the results into the new parents is absurd. And the press release says “the ratings of all airlines”…but where’s Frontier and Allegiant? Were they just omitted from the survey?
These buffoons make those yutzes from Wichita State University look like geniuses by comparison.
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