Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta Made Money, United is Going to Europe, and More

Cranky Weekly Review

Delta Turns Tidy Q3 Profit

Delta Air Lines reported a $695 million profit during Q3 on record revenues of $14 billion on the heels of record demand during the summer travel season. Based on its strong performance, the carrier expects to continue to print money during Q4, with revenue predicted to grow between 5% and 9% from Q4 2019. Delta expects Q4 capacity to be down about 9% from 2019, with a return to pre-pandemic capacity levels as soon as the middle of next year.

Delta was the first carrier to announce its third quarter results, with American and United expected to follow next week. The top 11 carriers are expected to announce a combined operating revenue of $54.5 billion on a net profit of $2.8 billion according to Deutsche Bank. Of that $54.5 billion, nearly $50 billion is expected to come from Spirit fees.

CEO Ed Bastian said Delta is close to filling its staffing needs after “losing” so many people during the pandemic. It’s hired approximately 20,000 new employees since the start of 2021, some of which are good at their jobs.  Delta paid down $1.8 billion of debt during the quarter but still has a long way to go on its student loans. The carrier ended the quarter with $11.2 billion in liquidity, which includes $4 billion in Biscoff futures and $200,000 in unused New York Mets playoff tickets.

United Unveils Updated Undertakings for Summer

United Airlines announced its transatlantic plans for next summer as the carrier looks ahead to what should be another busy summer in the friendly skies. The carrier said travel to Europe this summer was up 20% from 2019, a figure that’s expected to continue to climb another 10% next summer.

United will fly to 37 cities in Europe, Africa, India, and the Middle East, a number it says is more than the other U.S. carriers combined – we’ll go ahead and take their word for it. UA is adding three new cities to its route map: the previously announced Dubai plus Malaga and Stockholm. Before you get too excited, note that all three locations will be served from Newark, with 3x weekly service to Malaga beginning May 31 and daily service to Dubai and Stockholm – beginning on March 25 and May 27, respectively.

Other additions for next summer include San Francisco to Rome, beginning daily on May 25, plus two daily flights from Chicago/O’Hare, both beginning May 25: Barcelona (year-round) and Shannon (seasonal). Daily flights from Washington/Dulles to Berlin are back, beginning May 25 while IAD to Paris and Los Angeles to London/Heathrow will double their daily frequencies from one to two.

Delta Finally Jumps into Flying Taxi Game

Delta Air Lines was the lone holdout among the big 3 U.S. carriers to drop tens of millions of dollars into the world of electric air taxis, but that changed on Tuesday when the airline announced a $60 million investment in Joby Aviation with plans to offer service in New York, Los Angeles, and Chattanooga. OK, that’s a joke…just NYC and Chattanooga. The investment includes $10 million in cash and a pass to skip to the front of the line at NYC SkyClubs regardless of the line outside the entrance – valued by both Delta and Joby at $50 million.

United previously made a $15 million investment in Eve Air Mobility and agreed to theoretically purchase 200 of its aircraft if they eventually get made while American invested $25 in Vertical Aerospace and locked in 50 flying taxis for when they become a reality. Delta, as it often does, it taking its own path, different from its rivals. Instead of buying the aircraft from Joby, it plans to outsource the flying and offer it as an add-on for customers.

Joby plans to begin commercial service by 2024, which is exactly when Delta says its check for the $60 million is expected to clear. Delta’s investment will give it about 2% of the company at current valuations, or roughly the chance of your connecting gates being anywhere near each other when changing planes in Atlanta.

EU Clarifies Future Slot Usage

The European Parliament voted to return to its pre-pandemic rule of requiring airlines to use 80% of their slots or risk losing them next summer. Upon hearing the news, JetBlue immediately began drooling uncontrollaby, just waiting for airlines to fail to live up to the requirement.

For the upcoming winter and spring, the EU will continue to permit a relaxed 75/25 policy, allowing airlines to utilize 75% of their slots without being in jeopardy of losing them, before the rate is bumped up to 80% in summer 2023. The Airports Council International lobbied the EU to return to the 80/20 requirement this winter, while IATA wanted a 70/30 threshold. The EU chose to compromise and set the limit in-between the two, but higher than the 64% requirement from this summer.

The EU reserves the right to alter the plan if air traffic levels fall below 80% of 2019 for two consecutive weeks due to another COVID-19 outbreak, a different pandemic situation, Russia’s war in Ukraine, or just general disdain for the Dutch airport operator.

oneworld Moving HQ to DFW

The oneworld alliance is moving its headquarters this December to American’s corporate campus next door to Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The alliance has been based in New York since 2011, moving there after 12 years in Vancouver following its founding in 1999.

Chairman of oneworld and Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said the move is designed to move staff closer to AA’s staff and be positioned at an airport that sees service from eight alliance members. He also said learning that everything actually is bigger in Texas made the move a no-brainer since big is all that Al Baker cares about. This likely won’t have any real customer-facing impact, but oneworld CEO Rob Gurney will probably be excited to see property values in his new home compared to his previous one.

AA CEO Robert Isom said the carrier was “thrilled to welcome the oneworld team to its Skyview campus in Fort Worth,” but reminded their new officemates that leaving food in the break room refrigerator over the weekend is not accepted. Alliance staff will receive one warning and if they violate the policy a second time, they’ll be sent back to New York to manage all oneworld departures from Newark.  

  • Aeroflot resumed flying to Sri Lanka on Monday which should solve all of its problems.
  • Air Canada announced five new routes for next summer: Montreal to Toulouse and Copenhagen, Toronto to Brussels and Tokyo/Haneda, and Vancouver to Osaka.
  • Alaska Mileage Plan top-tier elites at its new MVP Gold 100k level will be able to choose one choice benefit from a list that includes 50k bonus miles, lounge membership, complimentary Wi-Fi, or an 8 1/2 x 11 print of the Eskimo on the tail of its aircraft.
  • American is spending a bunch of money on something to do with hydrogen.
  • British Airways‘s first flight to depart after its move to Terminal 8 at New York/JFK will be BA178 at 8:05 a.m. on Friday, November 18, or whichever the next flight is when that one gets delayed.
  • Cathay Pacific resumed serving Milan on Saturday, its first time operating the route since suspending it in the early days of the pandemic in January 2020.
  • Delta expanded its air+rail program to offer connections to 12 new destinations throughout Europe. The program is available to Delta passengers arriving to Brussels, Manchester, Rome, and Zurich with Geneva to be added next year. Delta One customers taking advantage of the program receive first class train tickets, while premium select and main cabin passengers are seated in coach. Basic economy passengers are not given an option to travel by train and, if they even ask, are tied up and thrown on the tracks and told to “figure it out for themselves.”
  • Frontier took delivery of its first of 158 A321neos it has on order this week. The aircraft features Frederick the Bald Eagle on its tail and a modified livery. Frederick was forced to the back of the aircraft on the tail when he refused to pay for a seat assignment in order to be painted closer to the front of the plane.
Frederick the Bald Eagle, named after Pratt & Whitney founder Frederick Rentschler, is Frontier Airlines’ first Airbus A321neo, and its first of 144 A320neo family aircraft powered by GTF™ engines. Photo via Airbus.
  • ITA took delivery of the first of 22 A220s, a plane that will eventually fly for another carrier when ITA liquidates during its inevitable bankruptcy.
  • KLM announced Maarten Koopmans will be hopping to his new role as the managing director of KLM Cityhopper.
  • LATAM expects to formally exit bankruptcy early next month.
  • Loganair and its sexy airplanes are for sale.
  • Lufthansa banned AirTags. Then it didn’t.
  • Mesa Air is selling its entire fleet of 18 CRJ550s to United for $50 million, 15% off Economy Plus upgrades, and United Club access for a six month trial period.
  • Norse Atlantic ended service to Los Angeles and cut half of its other U.S.-bound capacity, but wants you to know you don’t need to worry, everything is just fine. They swear.
  • Pakistan International Airlines completed a slot swap at London/Heathrow with Saudia that is expected to send ripples through the entire industry.
  • Singapore has moved beyond the 1940s.
  • ValueJet, a new Nigerian carrier began operations on Monday, three years after launching. The airline is expected to fly for about four years, then merge with another carrier and never be heard from again.
  • Wizz Air will close its Sarajevo Base on November 1.

Why are vampires bad at art?

They are only able to draw blood.

9 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta Made Money, United is Going to Europe, and More

    1. He always has been. We haven’t noticed because Tim Dunn swears that he’s Dudley Do-Right.

  1. The Frontier joke was my favorite.

    On another note… It’s more than a little incongruous to see the bald eagle on that plane’s tail juxtaposed between a German flag and a German registration.

    It’s understandable if the plane had to have temporary German registration for the flight to the paint shop and/or the ferry flight to the US, but I think Frontier’s PR team really should have waited to get pictures of the plane (and publicize it) until after it receives its US registration (which appears to be N603FR, vs the temporary DAZWE tail number in the photos).

    1. That is an eagle’s eyed observation. I assume Frontier will repaint to cover that German flag and registration. In this case, do they repaint the whole thing or can they just patch the area?

      1. I have no experience with painting planes etc, but tail number looks very temporary, almost like it is a sticker or somehow taped over the US registration. Probably the same for the German flag; comparing the part of the tail where the German flag was and how it looks without the German flag; I’d have never known the flag were ever there. I presume that the plane was painted with its “permanent” paint scheme in Europe and that some type of temporary (super fancy, high-speed rated) decals were used to add the German flag and N-number for the ferry flight.

        That still begs the question, though, as to why Frontier couldn’t take its PR photos in Europe before the temporary German registration & flag were applied, or why they couldn’t simply wait to take the PR photos until after they removed the German markings once the plane got to the US. Then again, I doubt many people notice/care.

        I’m not really a planespotter, so if there’s a practical reason I’m missing, or if anyone has more information on this (admittedly very obscure) topic, I’d love to hear it.

        Photos:

        Compare this photo of N603FR (the plane with the US registration): https://www.planespotters.net/photo/1325288/n603fr-frontier-airlines-airbus-a321-271nx

        …to this photo of the painted plane in the temporary German registration: https://www.planespotters.net/photo/1319790/d-azwe-frontier-airlines-airbus-a321-271nx

        …and to this photo of the plane before it got the fancy paint job: https://www.planespotters.net/photo/1309920/d-azwe-frontier-airlines-airbus-a321-271nx

    1. If Alitalia stood for Always Late In Takeoff, Always Late In Arrival, ITA stands for I Take Ativan.

  2. ValueJet seems like an odd choice for a new airline name, assuming you don’t want people to associate your new airline with “fiery crash in the Everglades.”

  3. Oh, the Italian government will never let ITA go out of business…at least not until it’s ready to start another state-funded company to take it over and pretend it’s something new.

    And, as usual, the EU will whine about Italy violating the state aid regulations and then do nothing, being more interested in finding follow-up performers to the interpretive dance troupe who performed at the opening of the European Parliament this year.

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