Airbus and Qatar Bury the Hatchet, are Friends Again
Following 18 months of he-said, she-said, and he-painted, she-painted, Airbus and Qatar Airways settled their dispute out of court, putting a stop to a UK trial that would have led down a path that would have made no one happy but the lawyers.
At the core of the dispute, Qatar claimed that Airbus’s paint job led to erosion on its fleet of A350s causing a safety issue — which the manufacturer flatly denied. Qatar pouted its way toward Boeing during the dispute while Airbus pulled orders from Qatar, refusing to deliver any planes in a classic “take my ball and go home” maneuver. The battle then shifted into the government arena, with Qatar’s regulatory bodies backing its airline, while the EASA, Europe’s version of the FAA, backed Airbus.
Under the agreement, the orders which had been canceled — remember, mostly out of spite — are back. The plan is for 23 A350s and 50 A321neos to be delivered to Qatar when Airbus gets around to it. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Airbus is expected to be paying several hundred million dollars to Qatar in damages, which will finally give Qatar a chance to bling out the interior of its planes like it always dreamed. To sweeten the pot beyond the cash, Airbus threw in four two-night stay certificates at a Courtyard by Marriott just around the corner from its plant in Toulouse and a free tour for four at its A380 assembly plant in Hamburg.
Allegiant’s Q4 Buoys 2022 Results
Allegiant Air posted a profitable Q4 to end the calendar year with a net income of $52.5 million, a nearly 400% jump from Q4 2019, the last full quarter in the industry before the term “social distancing” became a thing.
Operating revenue for the year’s final three months was $612 million, a 33% jump from those carefree, pandemic-free days at the end of 2019. The airline travel company set a new high for annual gross revenue, bringing in $2.3 billion, 25% more than 2019, while operating with 14% more capacity. Allegiant flew 16.8 million passengers this year, most of which flew between two completely random and arbitrary cities for reasons that no one — including the travelers themselves — could explain.
It ended the year with $1 billion in cash, or roughly the amount it costs to secure four 50-yard line season tickets to see the terribly mediocre Las Vegas Raiders next year in Allegiant Stadium.
Frontier Sets its Sights on Puerto Rico as its Newest Frontier
Frontier Airlines is starting eight new routes to Puerto Rico beginning this May, adding to its strong position on the island, and giving it more routes to Puerto Rico than any other airline.
The new routes include seven U.S. cities and Cancun — which is basically an American city — so we’ll call it eight. The bulk of new flights will go to San Juan from six destinations with the additional requirement that the cities be near the top of the alphabet:
- Dallas-Fort Worth
Two cities in Florida will see an expanded presence on the island with new, nonstop service from Tampa to Aguadilla (BQN) and Orlando to Ponce (PSE). Lastly, Frontier will add one-stop service to San Juan in May from Denver, via DFW.
Frontier also used the announcement to introduce a 2.0 version of its GoWild! pass, at the introductory rate of $399. This summer-only version permits unlimited U.S. and international travel on the carrier between May 2 and September 30 in the unlikely event travelers can actually find an empty seat during the absolute peak travel period. Regular Frontier taxes and fees apply, and customers who sign up for the pass must choose between Frontier’s four groupings of tail animals and can only fly routes operated by planes with their selected tails.
For more on Frontier’s expansion into Puerto Rico, please visit Thursday’s post on crankyflier.com.
UK’s Slot Rules to Return this Summer
Carriers operating at UK airports will be once again required to “use ’em or lose ’em” at the pre-pandemic rates for the first time since early 2020. The government’s 80/20 rule, which requires airlines to operate at least 80% of their slot capacity or risk losing the slot will return to normal this summer.
A change introduced during the pandemic will stick, however. Airlines will be permitted to return up to 5% of their slots to the UK government to help avoid last minute cancellations. The UK is currently requiring 70% slot usage during the winter months, with the 80/20 rule returning in March. This will now match the EU, which is also going to return to 80% minimum usage this summer, with it currently at 75% for the winter.
Passenger levels at UK airports this summer are at about 85% of their 2019 levels, and that doesn’t include the several thousand passengers still stuck in a security queue in Amsterdam who have been trying to get home to Manchester since June.
Flyr Files Fr Bnkrptcy
Norwegian LCC and noted poor speller Flyr filed for bankruptcy in Oslo City Court on Wednesday after the carrier “was not successful with a new financing plan,” and the board of the carrier determined shutting down operations was the only solution.
All flights have been cancelled for the foreseeable future and ticket sales are halted. Although if anyone wants to lay down cash for a flight they know won’t operate, Flyr’s creditrs will find a way to take your money. Anyone who holds a ticket on Flyr that was purchased by credit card can contact their credit card company for a refund while those who used anything other than a credit card are not only nuts but are all SOL. The carrier is referring any further questions to the bankruptcy trustee that will be appointed by the Oslo City Court.
In the meantime, those left to wind things up at the airline will be given spelling lessons at no charge to them. Flyr does not own any of its airplanes, leasing a fleet of 12 planes (six B737 MAX 8s and six 737-800s). If anyone interested in one of those airplanes on the cheap, now would be a great time to contact Air Lease Corporation, Banc of America Leasing Ireland, or Standard Chartered Aviation Finance.
- Aer Lingus is knocking off service from London/Gatwick.
- Air New Zealand won $3.5 million from the Cook Islands after winning a tax refund in the High Court of the Cook Islands.
- Alaska is adding three new cities from San Diego: Eugene (begins June 15), Washington/Dulles (begins June 15), and Tampa (begins October 5)
- Antigua Airways is putting a temporary stop to its charter business while it gets its ducks in a row with the Antigua & Barbuda government. It’s believed changing the airline’s name to Antigua & Barbuda Airways could solve the problem.
- Avelo is ending Lexington – Orlando on February 20, halting the carrier’s foray into Kentucky.
- Bonza landed a bullseye in Melbourne.
- British Airways will resume service to mainland China on April 23. Daily service between London/Heathrow to Shanghai will begin then, with 3x weekly service to Beijing/Daxing to follow on June 3. Also it didn’t change its social media policy for its frontline employees. Pinky swear.
- Brussels CEO Peter Gerber resigned. If you want to know where he’s going, keep reading. Christina Foerster was named interim CEO.
- Condor determined that former Brussels CEO Peter Gerber earned his stripes and will take over as the carrier’s new CEO.
- Cyprus Airways is beginning 3x weekly service to Dubai.
- Delta is increasing its presence at Dallas/Love this summer, adding five more daily flights. Dallas/Love to Atlanta will increase from 4x to 5x daily, while it also adds 2x daily service to both Los Angeles and New York/JFK.
- EasyJet is offering jobs to laid off Flybe staff along with Ryanair.
- Finnair modified 10 A350s to carry more stuff.
- Icelandair is financing two B737 MAX aircraft.
- JetBlue pilots are expected to get 21.5% raises over the next 18 months plus all-you-can-drink Dunkin’ coffee in the crew room at their Boston hub. Meanwhile its ground ops workers voted against unionization,
- KLM is tapping the brakes on cargo flights over Suriname.
- LATAM Colombia will begin non-stop service between Bogota and Orlando on July 1 as a part of its JV with Delta.
- LOT spokesman Krzysztof Moczulski tweeted about an incident last week on a LOT flight from JFK to Warsaw that reminds us that when you gotta go, you gotta go.
- Lufthansa will operate its B787-9 Dreamliner to five more North American destinations this summer: Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, and Montreal.
- Qantas is being sued by an employee.
- Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said there could be significant air traffic control delays this summer.
- Southwest increased its firm B737 MAX 7 orders, converting ten options and swapping four earlier MAX 7 orders into MAX 8s.
- Tajik Air has one thing to say.
- WestJet suspended service from three cities to Europe this summer — Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver. Suspended services include flights to Dublin, Glasgow, London/Gatwick, and Paris. Halifax will maintain its flight to London/Heathrow while the carrier continues to consolidate its long-haul operation in Calgary.
I know a bunch of good jokes about umbrellas, but they usually go over people’s heads.
The Summer-only GoWild! pass really confuses me. 3 key facts:
– For domestic flights, the pass only lets you book one-way travel the day before you fly. There’s no exception to let you book the return leg of a round-trip farther in advance.
– As mentioned, summer is a peak time and many flights will have very little capacity remaining the day before.
– Frontier operates many of its routes with sub-daily frequency
Putting those together, it seems like this is a recipe for a ton of GoWild! pass holders getting stuck at their destinations, with no Frontier flights back to their home airport for several days. That seems like it will result in nasty publicity for Frontier, as those pass holders complain on social media, are covered by local news, etc.
In theory, these would be great for taking long weekend trips to Miami, Tampa, Vegas, etc. But the uncertainty of getting back kills the value.
It’s like flying standby as an airline employee…except paying for the privilege lol.
I don’t think local news is going to pay attention or care and overall social media isn’t going to have a huge impact either.
Unlike a big weather or operational meltdown, there won’t be hundreds of people stuck at once with the pass, there will be other options to get home (you just have to pay, whether on another airline or a confirmed seat in advance), and the terms of buying and using the pass seem pretty clear in the first place.
Frontier (and at this point pretty much all airlines) are used to and have to deal with bits of bad press every so often. I don’t see this being a big deal.
You forgot to mention that Flybe went bankrupt… there must be a snarky joke you can do about version 2 of the airline going bust in less than a year, and less than 3 years after version 1 went bust. Maybe throw in a bit about the whole of Flybe v2 being nothing more than a hedge fund wanting to sell some Heathrow slots that it got hold of via Flybe v1 for a big pile of cash, while claiming that v2 has absolutely nothing to do with v1 and all v1’s unpaid debts
According to the article, the Tajik Air will be operating A319s with 320 seats. I think Michael O’Leary would be very interested in this.
I was just going to comment on that. Sounds like they are really up to a good start.
The new Condor CEO earned his stripes. That is some subtle brilliance, Andrew. Thanks for the chuckle.
Cranky, What happens to the AA Love gates in 2024 when the Wright Amendment fully expires? Can AA kick Delta and AS out and take them back or did the US/AA DOJ Divestiture make that no longer a thing? I’ve heard so many different stories about what happens and the answers don’t even seem to link up.
I don’t know that AA has any gates at Love. The key thing that is changing at the end of next year is that Southwest is free to add flights at DFW without giving up gates at Love.
Southwest is pretty constrained there, and the population base of the Metroplex keeps growing farther and farther away. But Herb would likely come back and haunt them all, as much work as he did to protect their presence at Love and fighting going to DFW.
They do. They only were forced to lease them in the US-AA merger. They have the two gates as a result of the wright amendment repeal legislation.
Are those the gates leased to DL? Or does DL have their own?
Oh right yeah.
Thinking out loud, I am wondering if Southwest best course of action is not to go to DFW… But to use the threat of that to hold it over the head of the city of Dallas and ask them to expand the terminal at Love.
That will put the city in a conundrum for sure. The deal was to limit Love to 20 gates forever, but if the city is faced with seeing its prize tenant start looking to DFW, they will have to think about it.
It is crazy how things turn in time. After so so much legal wrangling because the city wanted to protect DFW from Love Field and Southwest… Now the city may have interest in protecting Love Field from DFW.
Of note on DL, they’re also throwing another 6+ flights per day at Austin. They aren’t adding any routes, but at least they’re ensuring they’re either most-frequent or tied for most-frequent on any route they serve (e.g. 3x to SEA, 2x to RDU). I feel like this is a defensive move so folks who regularly fly DL don’t wind up defecting to AA/AS on a route because DL didn’t work schedule-wise.
For no apparent reason other than having no idea where “Knock” is despite having been to the west of Ireland, I looked it up. Imagine my surprise to learn that the Knock airport is 81 whole kilometers from the Galway airport. Aer Lingus must run its own version of Irish EAS.
The Qatar dispute involved way too much hot air than it should have. Other airlines had surface problems with their A350s but Airbus clearly worked with them quietly and behind the scenes to fix the problem because you don’t see other airlines’ A350s with the problems that QR said it had. The fact that QR wouldn’t let Airbus examine the grounded aircraft was highly problematic; there is no assurance that QR didn’t try to fix the problem itself and made it worse.
Manufacturers usually fix defects at their own expense. Let’s not forget that both the MAX and 787 involved substantial costs for Boeing and involved groundings. The fact that QR is being compensated at all isn’t a surprise; other airlines probably got something for their A350 surface problems. And let’s not forget that the A350 and B787 use new technology (carbon fiber reinforced polymers) to a greater degree than any other aircraft types so it isn’t a surprise that there will be problems that have to be resolved.
As for Delta’s addition of LAX and LGA at Dallas Love field (DAL), the additions are far more symbolic than the added routes. Southwest has won legal battles for years to control DAL for itself while AA, UA and WN all basically did what they could to limit DL’s ability to stay at Love Field. Ultimately, Delta knew that federal law required the City of Dallas to accommodate any airline that served an airport regardless of changes in leases (DL did not have a lease but rather subleased space). DL didn’t give up and the federal appeals court said that the city of Dallas violated its requirements and sent parties to negotiate a settlement. When Alaska failed to use its gates to required utilization requirements, Delta pounced. WN still has its 18 gates while AS and DL each have one. The DOJ’s attempts to pick a winner as part of the AA/US merger by picking AS didn’t work. The City of Dallas is paying some of Delta’s gate lease costs.
the chances are high that AS will walk away from Love Field and AA can retake the remaining gate but they cannot kick out Delta on the same basis that DL succeeded this time – airlines that serve an airport must be accommodated. Delta announced plans to grow at Love Field before Southwest added dozens of flights so the City of Dallas was required to allow DL to grow which is why they ended up w/ a gate of their own. AA can and likely will return to Love Field but they will have one less gate than they had when this all started. And all leases at DAL end in 2028. And AA and WN are free from restrictions about what airports in N. Texas they can serve in 2025
“Other airlines had surface problems with their A350s but Airbus clearly worked with them quietly and behind the scenes to fix the problem…”
Other airlines don’t have Akbar Al Baker as their CEO. :)
I have to say that my take on Antigua Airways is that this could be a huge scam. Their first charter flight was a 767-300 with 100 passengers on it, not including the CEO ‘Marvellous Mike’ (sic). It was reported that among the passengers were people fleeing civil strife in Cameroon, people hoping this might be a backdoor into the USA and people surprised and horrified at the price of a hotel room in Antigua. Which, BTW, is perfectly in line with other Caribbean islands and is a major tourist destination. It had never occurred to me that Lagos to Antigua was one of the world’s most underserved routes. And after many, many months they still don’t have the authority to start sked service. And if you want to be really picky, it should be ‘Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda Airways’. Yes, yes, I know, look it up.
That WestJet news is pretty striking. Must mean they’re suspending all 737MAX service to Europe. That was a nice niche. I used the YYZ-EDI service last summer (although only as a rerouting after a staffing-caused misconnect caused us to miss our YYC-LHR flight).
The story about Heathrow going back to 80% usage on slots has a mention about returning 5% to the UK government to prevent short term cancelation. I do not understand exactly what that means.
Barry – That wasn’t clear to me either. I think what it means is that they can surrender 5% but not lose it in the future? It’s very fuzzy.
You comment “Allegiant flew 16.8 million passengers this year, most of which flew between two completely random and arbitrary cities for reasons that no one — including the travelers themselves — could explain.”
I have been on the Denver to Cincinnati, three day jaunt for month over month now for nearly a year.
That flight round trip is packed, but who knows who goes to those two cities.