3 Links I Love: Ed Takes Action, Breeze’s Operation Suffers, More Avelo Flying

Delta, Links I Love

This Week’s Featured Link

We know you expect more – we’re taking action: Your update from EdDelta News Hub
This makes no sense to me. Basically, Ed is saying that Delta is having trouble getting its act together when it comes to answering phone calls, so it’s making some changes to alleviate the problem. One of those is eliminating change fees on basic economy through the end of the year “to help address call wait times as we increase staffing.” Say what now? So the idea is to add more confusion by blurring the lines between fare products, and that’s going to solve the problem? I guess all these basic economy ticket holders are calling in to change tickets. If this really is an issue, stop filing basic economy fares until you can solve it, don’t add to the confusion.

Chart of the Week

I’m pleased to say that masFlight now has on-time data for both Avelo and Breeze. Not wanting to have a data accuracy issue the way I did with Avelo, I reached out to Breeze to confirm these numbers, but they did not get back to me with confirmation or denial, so I’m going with it. You can see things got noticeably worse in July, even though they didn’t have a schedule ramp up until July 8 with another on July 15. You can understand why Breeze would have to pull back and pad schedules with these numbers. It’s not pretty.

Two for the Road

Avelo Airlines Adds Four New Popular Destinations from Los AngelesAvelo Newsroom
After culling its weak performers, Avelo is ramping back up by adding service to four new cities from Burbank: Fort Collins, Monterey, Provo, and St George. These all fit into the same type of destination they were trying previously, though Fort Collins is a longer stage. Fort Collins stands out as being the only flight on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the airline. So apparently they think there’s a different pattern there. All these new routes are only 2x weekly.

United Airlines to outsource catering operations from OctoberReuters
It’s been a long time coming, but United’s Chelsea catering operation will finally be outsourced. This dates back to Continental’s in-house kitchen pre-merger.

16 comments on “3 Links I Love: Ed Takes Action, Breeze’s Operation Suffers, More Avelo Flying

  1. I was hoping you’d cover Ed’s letter in the Friday roundup.

    I’m not even a Delta FF, but as I have a trip with them in a few weeks, I got the email from Ed. First impression was that a mea culpa like this isn’t something you see everyday (normally only see things like this after a big PR disaster), but second impression was that there isn’t much substance to Ed’s letter. Sure, Delta is hiring more people, but there are no guarantees or other promises, such as additional miles for those stuck on hold. The “basic economy” changes seemed rather incongruous in the letter, and to Brett’s point, largely defeat the purpose of BE… Sounds like this letter & change may only create more confusion in the short term.

    In the bigger picture, if I were DL management I would be concerned about wait times for bigger corporate customers, especially if/when/as corporate travel starts to come back… If a travel agent or assistant supporting a VP at a major corporate customer gets stuck on hold for hours, that may be much worse for DL than if a few of us leisure-flying plebs flying BE get stuck on the line.

  2. The seat changes. They should do something about the seat changes. With all these post(?)-COVID schedule & equipment changes, seats are getting scrambled and people are calling-in to fix it. Got a few trips with the family over the next few months and I’ve had to call airlines 3 times in the last 2 weeks to get our seats put back together following an equipment change. Most of the calls got the issue resolved*, but it took far too much of my time and theirs to resolve it.

    *American did not get the issue resolved. They literally made us buy the exact seats we had previously selected for free. I wish things upon their call center that I only reserve for my worst enemies.

  3. I wonder if Avelo’s move into FNL will bring more airlines to the NOCO area. They virtual control tower went live late last year/early this year and several airlines have said that was a requirement to bring service. Allegient wanted to return, but between tower delays and COVID they put it on hold. I would be surprised if we don’t see more airlines coming to the airport given the Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont corridor is growing like crazy. It’s a long trip to DEN for us and our only “service” is a UA bus to DEN.

    1. I would argue that Avelo is pulling a Ryan Air! Loveland, last I checked is not close to Ft. Collins. I think the problem with Ft. Collins is that it isn’t really close to anything other than the Wyoming border and colleges in Greeley. Also, part of the release reads as if flights leave from LAX.

        1. Avelo appears to be confused about Loveland, the *city*, and Loveland, the *ski resort.” Their press release about this route says:

          “…Loveland’s famed skiing is a short 20-minute drive from FNL…”

          Nope, it’s not. Loveland the city (which is nowhere near any ski hills) is about 20 minutes from Fort Collins. Loveland Ski Resort is 50 or so miles west of Denver, or ~2.5 hours from FoCo.

          The closest ski resort to Fort Collins would probably be Eldora, due west of Boulder. Still about 1.5 to 2 hours from Fort Collins.

          There’s lots of great reasons to visit northern Colorado and the Fort Collins area. Skiing isn’t one of them.

    2. The remote tower is a failure, flew into there about a year ago and they had me on the east side of the airport when I was near Hoorsetooth. From what I understand, they are now in a trailer tower, 4 feet off the ground. I won’t fly into to there anymore unless the tower is closed or the pow is 18″ at Loveland Ale Works Ski Resort! This Avelo Service will last about along as Grand Junction’s service…..6 weeks max. I give Avelo until Jan 1 and it will be featured on, “Airlines We Lost” post. To me it will always be, “FortLuv” traffic, not NorCo……dumb!

  4. I mentioned it elsewhere, but I’m not sure Delta considered the 2nd order effects of offering such a generous buyout package last summer. To be clear, I’m glad they did, as it was a great opportunity for many people. But when you lose almost 1/5th of your total employee base, something’s gotta give. Right now, you can see it in almost every division; pilot staffing issues, long hold times, and long lines at (some) airports.

    Hiring 5k employees will help–and obviously, they come at a lower total cost–but that learning curve is steep. With most of the current market being US domestic leisure/northern Latin markets, there’s not a lot of pricing power. Service is everything.

    1. The other solution is to allow for everything to be done online. There are a couple reasons I will call Delta: to apply a RUC since that can’t be done online or to get a rerouting that isn’t available online. Otherwise, I don’t call them.

  5. I guess Delta isn’t quite as perfect as some of its fans allege. Having been a little snarky, I’ll now be fair and state that Delta certainly isn’t alone. Many companies seem to be having staffing issues, and not only in the airline industry. This won’t be the norm forever, so a little patience is probably a good idea.

    1. Agreed. I keep hearing optimistic talk about how inflation is expected to abate some (it was 5.4% for the 12 months ending in June, per the BLS’ CPI-U number), and hopefully that will be true, but I’m not quite as confident as some people are.

      CPG companies’ earnings releases in recent weeks include extensive discussions of their plans to deal with raw material & labor inflation, and (in my area, at least) big-box stores are renting full-size billboards in an effort to get workers. (Walmarts in my area are advertising $19/hour to start for overnight stockers, and I’m 50 miles from the nearest “big city”.) Staffing issues are widespread in the US, especially for relatively unskilled labor, and it will be interesting to see what happens to prices as companies increasingly feel pressure to raise wages in order to retain & recruit workers.

  6. The Wednesday/Saturday schedule for Ft. Collins may be a by-product of aircraft availability. On those days there is lots of idle aircraft time available so they don’t have to change something that “may” be more valuable. The interstate, I25, south of FNL has been widened with some toll lanes added so access to Denver International is not so much of an issue.

  7. Re: Delta, a 15 second autoplay at the beginning of every inbound phone call may help drop wait times if it really is BE customers asking for changes (which, given how extensive Delta BE is compared to UA and AA…where AA basically removed it everywhere…yeah, probably).

    Flights are definitely changing all over the place, which may exacerbate the issue, as mentioned. My DL flight for Dorkfest moved slightly (more time on the ground at LAX, which is fine). A number of flights on both AA and WN moved around for the stuff I booked into AUS for mid-October. Flight numbers have changed, and I got a change-of-gauge for MIA-AUS and back today (319 -> 738). Which makes sense…AA doesn’t have any consistency on what flies when on that route from what I can tell. You could be on an E75, 319, or 738 depending on the day/time. Versus, say, DL’s all-321 AUS-ATL operation.

  8. WRT Delta’s basic economy fare changes, their logic in allowing online tools to process more types of tickets in exchange for a drop in revenue seems reasonable certainly in the near term. But the longer term issue is whether it really makes sense to disproportionately impact the workforce in order to handle a group of passengers that deliver what should be incremental revenue at minimal additional costs esp. when you add in things like last weekend’s A330 schedule change screwup that undoubtedly impacted hundreds of thousands of passengers. Other airlines are doing similar things even it they aren’t errors by the massive number of schedule and equipment changes that are still the norm for the industry right now.
    And let’s also be clear that basic operational performance – on-time percentages and cancellation rates – are far below historic industry norms, esp. when you consider that many of the busiest airports are operating at well below historic levels. There are vast differences in how well airlines are doing operationally and that can be seen on flight tracking sites. Today has had very few ATC holds and yet there is a 5 fold difference in on-time performance at this hour – from Delta’s 5% of flights delayed to four times that percentage for JetBlue and Southwest to five times that percentage for Spirit.
    The percentage of staff airlines early retired or gave packages to is not near as important as the level of service they are delivering now. The airline industry has to get it figured out to deliver the basic services they are selling at levels that are at least as good as they did before covid.

    1. You are absolutely correct. Delta and United FAR outperformed AA/WN/B6 in June and July isn’t shaping up too much better. It’s significant that Gary Kelly stated in the quarterly results conference call that his number 1 priority at WN is repairing its broken operation.

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