3 Links I Love: More on Breeze, Radixx Fails, A Hijacking Saga, Tampa at 50

Links I Love

This Week’s Featured Link

David Neeleman ready for his fifth act with Breeze AirwaysFlightGlobal
As we all wait for Breeze’s to makes its launch announcement, FlightGlobal came out with a semi-puff piece on founder David Neeleman that includes quotes from an interview. If you can get beyond the very odd opening where the author effectively compares flying Breeze to sitting on a pre-Civil War southern veranda watching slaves work… it’s worthwhile read. But seriously, what a weird analogy to use there.

Images of the Week

Starting at some point on Wednesday, Avelo’s reservation system provider Radixx went down. More than 36 hours later, it was still down, something that is just hard to imagine being possible. I received a note from someone wondering if there was something deeper going on here and Avelo was just going to delay service, but no. Radixx has simply failed disastrously. I compiled images from the websites of some of the company’s providers showing that it’s a global problem. After being down more than a day, this statement was released by the company saying it’s a malware problem. Hopefully by the time you read this, it will be back up, but the company is going to have a lot of questions to answer from angry airlines after this.

Two for the Road

Los aeropiratasRadio Ambulante
Thanks to reader Juan for sending this along. I did not know about the story of this hijacked SAM aircraft in Colombia, but it is quite the incredible saga. The podcast is in Spanish, but you can click on the transcript and translate to English if needed.

Great Terminals of the Jet Age: Tampa at 50AirportHistory.org
There are some really great photos in this look back at the earlier days at TPA.

20 comments on “3 Links I Love: More on Breeze, Radixx Fails, A Hijacking Saga, Tampa at 50

  1. Yikes, horrible timing for Avelo. I hope that they and the other airlines that relied on Radixx had some solid SLAs in their service agreements, but given the size of most of those ULCCs vs Sabre (which owns Radixx) I doubt the airlines will get much, let alone be made whole.

    I know there’s a lot of complexity in airline reservation systems, but I’m surprised that AWS, Google, and/or Microsoft haven’t come out with back-end solutions for airlines. All solutions companies have outages, but at least with the really big tech companies there are presumably more resources to throw at fixing or transitioning to backups when an outage occurs.

    1. Especially since Google bought ITA back in the day. I realize it’s not the same thing (e.g. consumer facing versus B2B) but airline reservation systems seem ripe for migration to the cloud. Although, as all these airline mergers have demonstrated, migrating the system while using the system is incredibly difficult and complex.

      Do all the major res systems (Sabre, etc.) still work out of their own data centers?

      1. I don’t know my systems, I’m not in IT at all, and I’m very glad I’m not one of the people who are tasked with using COBOL (or similar programming languages that were obsolete 30 or 40 years ago) to keep the airlines’ backend systems going.

        However, one would think that there would be an opportunity for someone to create a “from scratch”, scalable solution targeted at startup airlines and/or those with simpler requirements, like airlines flying EAS routes and ULCCs. Start with decent but basic functionality with enough sizzle and unique features to make a marketing splash, then add more as some of the customers grow and cut deals that require more data integration with big airlines, and so on…

        There’s probably a good reason that something like this hasn’t been done or hasn’t gained enough success & press to become known to ignorant laypeople like myself, but nonetheless, on the surface it seems like an opportunity.

        1. Other systems exist, e.g. http://ttinteractive.com/ (that’s what Southern Airways Express uses). I actually chatted with SurfAir before they called themselves SurfAir and they were fine enough with off-the-shelf solutions to not try building something on their own.

          The catch is finding an airline willing to be your first customer. Radixx figured that out at some point. And occasionally airlines do switch systems; Frontier went from Sabre to Navitaire, while I want to say Southwest started using Amadeus post-AirTran. But e.g. Breeze is gonna do Navitaire, so you don’t have very many bites at this apple.

          On top of that, the malware issue could happen in a cloud, from-scratch environment just like if you had your own racks of servers. Though yes, some security measures are a bit easier to implement.

      2. The Cloud is the natural home for reservation systems, especially for low-cost carriers, because peak usage (i.e. in the middle of fare sales) is so massive relative to average usage (think about demand on Sunday morning at 2am). That ratio can be really high, but relative to the load at an AWS or Google data center, that kind of variation is an hardly noticeable ripple.

        But reservation systems weren’t built with that in mind, and indeed, on some systems (*cough* SABRE) key parts of the system still operate using pre-internet technology – look up “TPF”.

        Outfits like Navitaire still ask their airline customers to give them advance notice of fare sales so they can brace for the load. That’s the kind of thing that, if Navitaire were truly cloud-native, they would not need to do.

  2. Didnt like your “watching slaves” comment ref the David Neeleman article. The article was great.
    No where in there does the author imply anything in that direction. Please stay in your lane, airlines, and keep your political and social bias out of your blog. I can read/think for myself.

    1. Certainly I think the author could have done better than ” light and carefree summer afternoons, relaxing on the veranda of a neo-classical pre-Civil War-era mansion shadowed by old-growth oaks cloaked in Spanish moss, and perhaps sipping a chilled glass of sweetened iced tea. Or a mint julep.”

      You could have just replaced “neo-classical pre-Civil War-era mansion” with just “Southern farmhouse.” For many Americans the pre-Civil War time period has negative connotations. . . . certainly I picked up on it and I agree the word choice is at best poor.

      1. Yes, it was a strange way to make that analogy. Especially since we’re talking about an airline (and exec) based in a suburb to the SE of Salt Lake City. That’s about as far as you can get from an antebellum setting. What a stretch, and I wonder what the ulterior motive for it is.

    2. Disliking a clear reference to our tragic period of slavery is a “social bias”?

      You may not realize it, but this is Cranky’s blog and he gets to write what he likes. Your choice is to find a source of reading material that is more suitable to you.

    3. Disagree. Article specifically referenced a pre-Civil War setting. For me it conjured up a plantation – bizarre, unnecessary and an association that I doubt Breeze wants.

      Further, you have no authority over what Cranky may or may not do. You have zero recourse other than not reading his stuff

  3. Thanks for the link to the historical photos of TPA. I fly in/out of there a few times a year to see family, and it’s one of my favorite airports in that size class, largely because of how easy it is to get in and out of.

    I’ve gone from the wheels touching the runway to my feet touching the curb of the passenger pickup area in as little as 12 minutes, and that was with a cheap seat in the back of a mainline narrowbody plane, not a RJ.

    Finally, unlike many other airport designs of that era that tried to minimize curb-to-gate times (looking at you, MCI and DFW), which can feel extremely claustrophobic both before and after security, the TPA design has aged very well and doesn’t feel too cramped. This is especially remarkable given the additional space that has been consumed by airport security over the years.

  4. The TPA article was very enjoyable to read! And the photos reminded me of how clean and professional air travel was back then. Just look at the organization of the ticketing and gate areas and those wonderful airline liveries. Even the most flamboyant liveries back then (Braniff, AirWest) exuded class. Now we have fistfights on airplanes and idiots in shorts and wife beaters roaming the airports. Progress…..

  5. The TPA airport design looks like a natural evolution from the LAX original design, with the people movers replacing the underground tunnels. Of course, LAX was never built to design and morphed into what it is today. TPA has done a great job of adapting to changing demands while essentially keeping its core design.

  6. Hi CF, Seems like you aren’t the only who didn’t know about the SAM hijacking.  I Googled it and got nothing.

  7. LOVE the photos documenting the evolution of TPA. There’s actually a nice model of the airport along with a ton of pictures in the walkway between the landside terminal and the Marriott where I’ve spent far too many nights.

    Quick question for any old timers out there – why are the jetway parking stands for the aircraft completely black with soot? I would think if it’s from the engines, the soot would be farther away from the terminal building. Was it from braking and the tires were simply lower quality?

    1. Final comment – I love that they used to sell life insurance IN THE AIRPORT! Nothing says your flight will be safe like someone offering you a term life insurance policy by the ticketing counter.

      1. Yep, that was very common too. I remember flying as a little kid and seeing the little kiosks where there were reps selling insurance. Like betting that – yes, my flight is gonna crash. While flying was still relatively safe back then, it was not nearly as safe as now and there were fatal crashes on the order of about once per month in the US back in the 1960s and 1970s. The idea sure sold a lot of insurance. Which was also noted in the 1970 movie “Airport” when the bomber bought a large policy for himself, assuming that his wife would be getting the money.

        1. Yep, when I was a kid that always seemed bizarre. There were even self-service boxes where you could fill out a form, deposit some money (or a check) in an envelope, put it in the lockbox, and get insurance.

  8. Re: Neeleman. Although I’ve long been a fan of the airlines he worked with & those that he created, this comment:

    “I think people who wear masks outside when they’re social distanced are complete morons,” he says. Double-maskers drive him particularly nuts: “I just want to go up and shake them and go, ‘What the f— is wrong with you!’?”

    from this article:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-04-23/former-jetblue-ceo-david-neeleman-prepares-to-launch-new-airline-breeze

    has turned me off of him. If he wants to think/feel that way, that’s fine. But in my book, you just DON’T say things like that in public, let alone on a well-read website/newssite.

    1. Yes. Read that as well on another aviation site with a very active forum. Made a comment about erring on the side of safety and that I was insulted and washed my hands of Neelman and his new venture. Got a lot of pro/anti responses, many of which have already been deleted. Very unprofessional to insult potential customers in that fashion.

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