Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Spirit Shareholders Feel Blue, AA & UA’s Q3 was a Good One, and More

Cranky Weekly Review

All My Mergers: Spirit Shareholders Approve JetBlue Merger

It may have been a foregone conclusion, but after the tumultuous summer of promised votes, postponed votes, and canceled votes, Spirit shareholders actually voted on something Wednesday… and they voted to approve the merger with JetBlue. The vote is a big step towards combining the two, with the process now moving on to the DOJ and antitrust authorities.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes was ecstatic when hearing the result of the vote while Spirit President and CEO Ted Christie was quoted as saying that this vote is a thing that happened and he acknowledges that it occurred.

Despite the merger still being subject to a stringent antitrust review and several battles to come, Spirit employees were seen breaking out buckets of blue paint at airports across the country, with the transition from yellow to blue beginning in the blink of an eye. To ease the transition for customers, Spirit will begin offering mints on-board most flights but will do so at the price of $3.99 per mint plus a $1.99 mint delivery fee. JetBlue has renamed the final row of each of its aircraft the “small seats in the back,” as a nod to Spirit’s “Big Front Seats.”

United’s Q3 Finances Cause for Optimism

United Airlines released its Q3 earnings report on Wednesday, with the carrier announcing a net profit of $942 million on $12.9 billion of operating revenue, pleasing the Wall Street overlords.

It led off its release touting its operational success, saying it had its best on-time arrival rate and lowest rate of misconnections for any Q3 in its history outside of 2020, which is a thing, we suppose. Its nearly $13 billion gross revenue was a 13.2% jump from Q3 2019, but profit was down slightly, no thanks to a $3.81 per gallon price for fuel.

United’s unit revenue (TRASM) for Q3 was up more than 25% compared to 2019, with unit costs (CASM) up 27.8%. It expects a profitable close to the year, with its operating margin to exceed that of the last pre-pandemic quarter – Q4 2019. UA closed the three months ending on September 30 with a liquidity of $20.4 billion, including a bunch of gold it found laying around at Emirates HQ that staff just stuffed in their pockets and a lot of expensive party favors that went unused after thinking Etihad was going to announce it was joining Star Alliance earlier this week.

American’s Q3 Was Also Pretty Good

American Airlines Q3 net income was $483 million, about half of United’s, but a positive outcome nonetheless. The profit came on $13.5 billion of gross revenue, a 13% increase from 2019 despite operating about 10% less capacity.

The carrier’s profit came in slightly ahead of analysts’ estimates, causing those analysts to scurry back to their office in shame to see where they went wrong. American expects another strong quarter to finish the calendar year with revenue to be up a similar 13% in Q4 versus that of 2019. Costs were increased significantly from last year at AA, including a fuel bill that almost doubled to $3.8 billion and labor costs that ballooned to $3.4 billion, a 12% jump.

American ended the quarter with $14.3 billion in liquidity, including the seven cubicles it is holding aside for oneworld’s move to Fort Worth, valued at $1 billion each.

Alaska’s Pilots Ratify New Contract

Alaska Airlines pilots ratified their new contract this week, with a resounding 82% voting yes on a vote which had voter turnout more than 96%. The 18% who voted against the very rich contract said they just didn’t understand the question and checked the wrong box.

In the deal, Alaska pilots will receive a hefty raise, with some earning as much as 23% more. The most senior captains at the carrier will see their pay increase to $306 per hour, with increases to $330 per hour by 2024. The agreement will avert a strike that’s been looming over Alaska since 2020, with concerns ramping up after the pilots voted to authorize said strike last May.

This new CBA is the first new deal for pilots and a mainline carrier since the pandemic. Negotiations are ongoing at all other major airlines, with negotiators now feeling compelled to fly Alaska to the meeting sites. Alaska’s pilots also will receive an increase to their retirement funds and a freeze on health care costs. Additionally, captains who stay with the airline for more than 20 years will receive their choice of a free economy class snack pack when flying or a free two-acre parcel of land in northwest Alaska.

Air Transat and Porter Begin Codeshare

Two Canadian carriers, Air Transat and Porter, introduced a new codeshare agreement earlier this week designed to help the pair to better pretend to be able to compete with Air Canada and WestJet, Canada’s two largest carriers.

The codeshare agreement applies on Porter’s flights between Toronto/City and both Halifax and Montreal, while select Air Transat flights in and out of Montreal will be subject to the codeshare. Air Transat’s list was written in French, and a translator was not yet available for the carrier to translate which routes were included in the agreement at press time.

Flights can be booked on the codeshare beginning November 2, although early access is offered to those who know the secret password. (It’s “poutine.” The password is “poutine.”)

  • Allegiant received approval from Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Committee to move forward with its joint venture with Viva Aerobus. The deal is still awaiting sign-off from the DOJ.
  • American paid $7.5 million to settle a class action suit regarding checked bag fees. The money can be claimed by members of the class at carousel 6.
  • Avelo is returning air service to Delaware, beginning service from Wilmington to five destinations in Florida the first week in Florida.
  • Breeze is blowing into two new cities: Cincinnati and Vero Beach, FL (VRB). From CVG it will fly to Charleston and San Francisco, and from Vero Beach to Hartford and White Plains along with occasional flights to the parking lot at Dodger Stadium for those nostalgic for the old days.
  • Etihad is rolling out new business class amenities and is really, really excited about it.
  • Eurowings put the brakes on its plan to hire 200 new pilots. We assume it’ll just start another new subsidiary instead.
  • flydubai is borrowing four B737-800s from Smartwings in the Czech Republic to increase its capacity this winter. It declined the offer from Dumbwings.
  • Greater Bay Airlines is considering a “sizable” aircraft order with either Airbus or Boeing until China rolls in and says it can’t deal with the West anymore and has to fly Chinese built airplanes only.
  • Hawaiian has a new cargo customer after Amazon and its Prime Air brand said Aloha to the carrier. HA will operate and maintain a fleet of 10 A330-300 freighters beginning in the fall of 2023. There’s no confirmation that this means Hawaiian’s POG juice will now be available to mainland customers with 48-hour free shipping, but it can’t hurt.
  • Lufthansa is updating its B747-8 fleet with new premium class cabins. It also named its first Dreamliner, “Berlin,” which took our breath away. It’s expected to name the rest of its Dreamliner fleet after other cities the Dreamliner will never fly to.
  • Korean will resume hiring cabin crew this month, ending a three-year hiring freeze.
  • LATAM is celebrating its emergence from bankruptcy by purchasing five new A321neos. The carrier also applied to the DOT for permission to codeshare with Virgin Atlantic on flights between the UK and Chile, Colombia, and Peru via the U.S. Somewhere deep in the shadows, Delta executives slowly nod their head in agreement while holding all the puppet strings.
  • Lynx linked up with Jim Sullivan to be its new COO.
  • Norse Atlantic confirmed that one of its executives named Bjorn formally received authorization to operate between the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • RwandAir is beginning nonstop service from its Kigali base to London/Heathrow.
  • Ryanair‘s winter schedule at Leeds Bradford Airport includes 15 total routes and three aircraft based at the airport.
  • SKY express is beginning service between Athens and Sofia, operating 5x weekly beginning November 2.
  • Thai is doubling its frequency between Bangkok and Melbourne back to its pre-pandemic level of double daily service, effective December 1.
  • T’way Air will begin its first long-haul route this December when it launches service to S’ydney.
  • Virgin Atlantic took delivery of its first A330neo earlier this week.

What do dentists hand out at Halloween? 

Candy. It’s good for business.

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19 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Spirit Shareholders Feel Blue, AA & UA’s Q3 was a Good One, and More

  1. Why is Ryanair at Leeds news-worthy ? None of the 15 routes seems particularly or unusual. Or is there some secret snarky message in there ?

      1. Ryanair has a habit of making announcements even when nothing new major has actually happened. They hope that it’ll generate some press publicity because not all ournalists have got the time to check if this is actually significant or just a repeat of something already announced.

        The 15 routes were last updated on the Leeds Bradford airport wikipedia page on 05 October 2022, when Fuerteventura went from summer-only to year-round and Beauvais went from year-round to summer-only

  2. “Avelo is returning air service to Delaware, beginning service from Wilmington to five destinations in Florida the first week in Florida.”

    @Brett, I didn’t realize Florida is a month. I’ll have to get new calendars. :-)

    I love the extra dose of humor in these weekly posts.

      1. I was actually surprised last week when Tim didn’t post a long description of how Delta’s profits illustrate its continued dominance over all other airlines.

    1. United’s net profit was higher than Delta’s too! But I’m sure it will spun as United being on the brink of bankruptcy as Delta soars.

      1. He’ll be here shortly to tell us why these aren’t “real” profits and that 50 cents of profit at DL is worth a dollar at all other airlines

  3. Has VRB had commercial service before? That’s a new one to me.

    Would love to see Wilmington DE work but so many have come and gone.

  4. Boy, Allegiant’s small city network coupled into Mexico resort destinations is a potential year round mega-boost. What cities in Mexico would be served?

    1. They haven’t said specific markets yet, but they’ve given some examples of going from Sanford to smaller cities in Mexico while also doing more US cities to beach markets.

  5. Will Korean’s new cabin crew be taught how to properly serve macadamia nuts to premium pax, or will training instead focus on the proper way to kneel and beg for forgiveness when corrected by senior management?

    Asking for a, uh, friend.

  6. I know AA’s Q3 results are being well-received, but how does an airline that is bigger than UA and DL post a profit that is half the size? Wouldn’t that be cause for concern or are there one-time adjustments I’m missing?

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