FAA’s Turn to Go Off the Rails
Late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the FAA grounded most domestic flights due to a system outage when its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system — which relays essential information to pilots — went down. The system keeps pilots in-the-know for crucial, potentially life-saving information on their route and at their destination, such as which Starbucks at their arrival airport has the shortest line, the last time the restroom nearest their arrival gate has been serviced, and whether or not the airport has a Chick-Fil-A.
The FAA first announced the issue just before 7 a.m. ET with a tweet that operations across the country were “affected.” Military and medevac flights were exempt from the shutdown, along with flights that were already in the air. The first two airports to return to service were Atlanta and Newark, with service resuming at a slow trickle shortly after 8 a.m. The full system was restored by about 9:30, but the damage across the system was done.
By 6 p.m. Wednesday night, about 1,300 flights had been cancelled and almost 10,000 delays or as Newark calls it, “Wednesday.” For more on the NOTAM outage, check out Thursday’s post at CrankyFlier.com.
JetBlue Adds New Routes, Grows Northeast Alliance
JetBlue Airways announced several new routes from Northeast Alliance cities New York and Boston today while also providing more details on previously announced new service and adding one new destination from LAX.
From LGA, JetBlue will operate 4x daily service to Atlanta, beginning May 5. Two other seasonal routes will also debut from LaGuardia on May 5, to Bermuda and Hyannis with daily, year-round flights to Nassau beginning March 30. Newark gets two new destinations, daily summer-only flights to Montego Bay, and Saturday-only minty fresh service featuring JetBlue’s premium cabin to Aruba. Both EWR destinations begin June 15.
Straight outta Boston, the airline announced more details for its previously announced new service to Vancouver — daily, summer-only flights will begin June 15. The westbound flight leaves Boston at 5:40 p.m. and arrives at YVR at 9:07p.m. The plane sits in Vancouver for just an hour, before returning to Boston as a redeye, arriving the next morning at 6:27.
Outside of the NEA, JetBlue is also adding a new destination from Los Angeles, once-daily, year-round flights to Puerto Vallarta, a market served by only 5 other airlines so this should do great. This gives the carrier 20 nonstop destinations from LAX with more than 40 daily departures.
Spirit Pilots Agree to Spirited New Contract
Spirit Airlines pilots approved a new two-year contract which its union says included $463 million worth of gains for its members. Wages will increase an average of 34% of the two-year deal, with 25% raises for captains and 43% for first officers.
The raises will be funded in-part by a new $9 pilot-enhancement fee included on all Spirit fares for the next two years, while any shortfall in revenue will be covered by JetBlue in the form of 12-packs of Lifesaver Mints.
Of the 2,326 Spirit pilots who paid their $19 CBA voting fee to the airline, a very nice 69% voted in favor of the new deal. The contract is subject to renegotiation if Spirit’s deal with JetBlue falls through, if the carrier runs out of yellow paint for its airplanes, or if a majority of pilots can convince it to install Big Front Seats in the flight deck.
Boeing’s Posts Best Year Since 2018, Still Trails Airbus
Boeing had its best year since 2018 but still failed to top its chief rival Airbus for orders and deliveries in 2022. Boeing took orders in December to net more than 200 airplanes for the month, giving it 774 orders and 480 deliveries to close the year. Airbus wrapped up 2022 with 820 planes ordered and 661 delivered.
Airbus has outshined Boeing since before the pandemic in 2018, as its A320 family is outdoing the B737. Airbus has also done well with its A220 series since taking it over from Bombardier. Boeing did outperform Airbus on widebody orders, as Airbus ended up a net negative for the year in the category, receiving more cancellations than new sales.
Boeing’s total of 774 net orders for the year was a significant increase from 479 orders a year ago, and especially from 2020 when it ended up a net negative, losing 471 orders more than it gained. Of its 69 deliveries in December, 53 were MAXs, 18 of which went to Southwest. The planes were scheduled to go to other carriers first, but Southwest paid an extra $29 per aircraft to receive early access to them.
Canada Gets into the NOTAM Outage Game, Too
The Canadian government said its own NOTAM outage had nothing to do with what happened south of the border earlier that morning, which might be true…but also might not. The US’s grounding caused a ripple effect in Canada, with all Canadian-bound flights being held at their origin for several hours early in the day.
Two hours after the FAA said its NOTAM system had been restored Wednesday morning, Nav Canada said “we got next.” It’s NOTAM entry system went down at about 10:20 a.m. ET and was out for about three hours before bring brought back online at about 1:15 p.m.
NAV Canada says no flights were delayed because of its issue, which it says was a hardware failure. Despite the claim that no flights were affected, NAV Canada officials were spotted at Canadian airports handing out poutine, shot glasses of maple syrup, and a 2006 DVD box set of “NHL’s Greatest Moments” to anxious passengers.
- Aeroflot bought 10 B777 aircraft from a Russian bank. Nothing about this transaction is remotely shady.
- Air Astana reached a resolution in its suit against Embraer on issues the carrier had with the E190-E2. Details of the agreement were not released, but are believed to include Embraer offering Air Astana staff a free night’s dinner at Fogo de Chao at the Mall of America.
- Air Canada EVP and Chief Commercial Officer Lucie Guillemette announced her retirement. She’s expected to spend retirement playing shuffleboard at Del Boca Vista.
- Air China is resuming service to both Sydney and Melbourne from Beijing.
- Alaska is hiring. Email email@example.com for resume advice.
- American plans to spend much of the next several months counting all its money.
- Austrian Airlines is bringing back flying chefs. It’s unclear what the flying chefs will be doing on an airplane and whether or not it’s against their will.
- Bavarian Airlines is a thing now, and it expects to lease 12 E195-E2s to launch from its Munich base by the end of this year. When asked to comment on its new competition, Lufthansa referred us to company spokesman Ivan Drago.
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines said it has plans to become a “smart airline” which begs the question if this means it’s been a “dumb airline” all these years.
- British Airways is upgrading its B787 Dreamliner business class to Club Suites
- Brussels Airlines paid the Belgian government with help from its daddy Lufthansa.
- Cathay Pacific is reopening its lounge in Singapore.
- Croatia Airlines is delaying repayment of a €33 million loan to the Croatian government.
- Delta employees and their family and friends flying on non-revenue travel will now be allowed to wait at the gate for their flight while enjoying terminal eateries and bars.
- Eastar Jet was acquired by Korean private equity fund VIG Partners. Hated-rival WestJet did not comment.
- Eastern Airlines has its first B777-200(ER) in the mix.
- easyJet made the easy decision to open a maintenance hangar in Berlin.
- Ethiopian will begin 4x weekly service to Atlanta on May 16, giving Delta just enough time to find some airplanes to launch its own flight.
- EVA is launching new service to the Philippines for the first time in foreva, adding flights from Taipei to Manila’s alternate Clark International Airport located approximately 50 miles from MNL.
- Emirates is adding high-speed internet access on 50 new A350s.
- flybe released its summer 2023 schedule. Click the link if that interests you.
- Lufthansa will begin flying its Dreamliners from Frankfurt to Detroit on February 13. It also still plans to purchase ITA from the Italian government. Probably.
- Mexicana, an airline that hasn’t operated since 2010, had its carcass purchased by the Mexican government with the intention of starting a military-operated commercial carrier using the Mexicana brand. This seems guaranteed to work without a hitch.
- PLAY is no longer messing around, adding new service from Reykjavik to Hamilton, ON.
- Rex sold a 5.25% stake in the airline to Houston-based Perea Capital, LLC.
- SAS told the Swiss treasury to stick it.
- United is bringing back the ice cream sundae cart in Polaris business.
- Vietjet is adding flights between Ho Chi Minh and Melbourne.
- Wizz Air is closing three bases.
Being a human cannonball must be the most stressful job there is.
You have to worry every day about getting fired.