Delta and United Brawl Over Haneda Slots
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are going head-to-head throwing repeated haymakers at each other in the form of DOT filings as the two feud over Delta’s proposal to change the slot restriction policy at Tokyo/Haneda Airport.
The slots currently come with a U.S. gateway attached to them – but Delta would like to use two of its slots to fly from whatever U.S. city that it damn well pleases. In its original filing, Delta used a chart to show that demand to HND is not strong, especially from Honolulu (which is likely due to HND-HNL serving mostly Japanese-origin customers). In its first retort, United said Delta was using funny math by including Japanese-origin travel in the first place, and that U.S. demand to Tokyo is at 73% — or above the average demand on all U.S. long-haul international travel.
United then said that Delta is purposely only selling sky-high fares in the market with the desired outcome of low sales, to further its point of weak demand to the DOT – which, if true, would be an amazing long con. UA accused Delta of “masquerading” as an underdog and literally counted the words in Delta’s last filing, telling the DOT it used the word “competition” 27 times.
Delta then responded back once again saying that it “will not dignify United’s intemperate rhetoric with a point-by-point response.” It then took things to another level by signing up all of UA’s executive team for several timeshare presentations, tying them up for weeks with presenters showing up at the office and sending a never-ending deluge of emails. United answered back by filing a DOT petition to make Atlanta slot controlled for the next ten years, and added a perimeter rule prohibiting flights outside of Atlanta’s I-285 perimeter highway around the city. Stay tuned for more hijinks.
Lufthansa’s Day of Reckoning Arrives: It’s ITA Time
After months of speculation, Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr
reluctantly flew to Rome on Thursday to finalize the airline’s initial stake in Italian flag carrier ITA Airways. The former Alitalia, currently a member of SkyTeam, will surely head to Star Alliance now after Lufthansa spent between about €349 million (no one at ITA could find the company’s calculator to add it up for sure) for 41% of the beleaguered carrier.
This is Lufthansa’s second attempt at purchasing the carcass of Alitalia, as it first entered into an agreement with shipping magnate MSC before the Swiss company backed out when negotiations with the Italian government didn’t go anywhere for months. Delta, along with its JV partner Air France-KLM also sniffed around ITA, but ultimately didn’t have the courage of its convictions like Lufthansa did.
Lufthansa says it will increase ITA’s revenue from €2.5 billion this year to €4.1 billion by 2027. It plans to add 23 new airplanes to take its fleet from 71 to 94 and expand the staff to a workforce of 5,500. What is it they say about the best laid plans…?
The deal is expected to give Lufthansa the opportunity to increase its stake over time, with it being able to acquire a majority stake for another €500 million in 2026, give or take. The carrier will leave the Italian government a 5-10% minority holding in the airline after that. This initial deal for 41% is expected to pass European antitrust regulators with relative ease after the airline denied AA and JetBlue’s offer to lend its own antitrust legal team for the process.
Stay tuned for more on this breaking story next week on crankyflier.com.
United Reaches a Mile High, Adds in Denver
United Airlines is increasing its already large footprint in Denver, announcing an addition of 35 flights to Denver, six new destinations, a new flight bank, three new United Clubs, and its operation spreading out over 12 new gates.
The six new cities for United from Denver are:
- Montego Bay
- San Juan
Montego Bay and San Juan will be operated by a B737 MAX and will begin on October 29 (SJU) and November 4 (MBJ). The four mainland destinations will be served by United Express E175 aircraft and all four will begin on September 29. Four of the destinations: DAY, GSO, LEX, and SJU are routes that had not been served from Denver by anyone since at least the pandemic.
The new departure bank will leave Denver around the 6 a.m. hour, giving night owls and early-risers a head start on their travel day out of the Mile High City. Eight new flights will depart in this bank to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, and others. The 12 new gates are expected to open sometime next year, just in time for this summer’s delays to the NYC area to subside.
Secretary Pete Warns ATC Concerns Haven’t Bottomed Out
DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that the federal government is gearing up for more delays and irregular operations due to ATC staffing shortages this summer, and that the end of the problem is further away than anyone would like.
The FAA says it’s about 3,000 air traffic controllers short of being fully staffed, leaving it about 20% shy of where it wants to be. The larger concern is that the crucial New York market is understaffed by nearly-half, which will likely lead to cascading effect of planes lined up on taxiways and stuck at gates from sea to shining sea.
Despite waiving its slot usage requirements at New York’s three main airports this summer, allowing airlines to pass on 10% of their slots scot-free, airlines are still expected to fly 97% of the schedule flown during last summer’s delay-filled summer. The FAA’s budget is currently being debated in Congress, with a new FAA budget due to be passed later this year (HAHAHAHAHA, j/k) in which the secretary is hoping to add 1,800 new controllers.
The secretary’s desired budget is expected to pass without issue because Congress is expected to have the best interests of the nation’s air system as its top priority without focusing on any other factors when determining the size of the budget.
BA’s BAd Week
British Airways had a rough go on the customer service front this week, as the carrier mistakenly canceled customers’ itineraries on Wednesday, and then suffered an IT gaffe on Thursday preventing those customers who itineraries remained intact from being able to check in.
Many passengers with travel booked through third-party travel agencies saw their itineraries erroneously canceled, with no notice to the affected customers. The cancellations generally went undetected until customers attempted to check-in Wednesday and discovered their reservation no longer existed. BA says it’s working on the issue and suggested travel agents rebook their customers on the same flights – but many were now sold out and passengers and agents were left scrambling to begin their holidays.
Then, on Thursday, the carrier’s website glitched, preventing customers from accessing their current or upcoming trips and preventing anyone from checking in online. In a release, BA said it was bringing several technicians back from their post-coronation stupor to address the issue and it would be resolved as soon as possible, just as soon as it figured out all its other problems. BA was forced to cancel 140 flights through Friday morning as the UK gears up for its busiest bank holiday of the year this weekend. The carrier hopes to get things back to normal just as soon as it can find someone to plug the computer back in.
- Air Koryo might be resuming international service for the first time since the pandemic. Of course it also might not. Also, a warm Cranky welcome to first-time Airline Potpourri participant, Air Koryo! We’re still holding out hope for that FNJ-EWR flight everyone’s waiting on.
- Avelo is finally, finally, bringing us the three flights we’ve been waiting on, flying from Lansing to the Caribbean. It’ll fly 3x weekly from LAN to Cancún, 2x weekly to Punta Cana and 1x weekly to Montego Bay on behalf of ALG Vacations. The flights will operate through April and can be booked via ALG’s website.
- Breeze‘s RDU-ISP route which begins June 29 will be suspended on September 3.
- Cathay Pacific fired flight attendants who mocked a group of passengers’ abilities to speak English. The passengers were sent home to New Jersey with no further compensation.
- Comair is being stripped for parts and sold to anyone who is in the market for an air operator’s certificate, an airline brand, or a South African domestic air service license.
- Contour requested to move its EAS service to Owensboro, KY (OWB) from Charlotte to Chicago/O’Hare beginning August 1.
- Delta opened five new gates at its Salt Lake City hub because those flights to Atlanta won’t board themselves.
- Finnair FAs will be wearing new shoes.
- flydubai is expected to place an order for narrowbody aircraft — likely the A321 (LR) — by the end of this year.
- Frontier CEO Barry Biffle is not in favor of the U.S. government imposing an EC261-type law because it would not be good for Frontier Airlines.
- ITA took delivery of its first A330neo. It was immediately sent to Munich.
- Korean‘s merger with Asiana is not impressing the U.S. DOJ.
- Lufthansa apparently just flopped six A380-800’s at a garage sale with a “no backsies” policies ensuring that all sales are final. It’s potentially using the money from the sales to purchase four additional A350-900s… and ITA.
- Qantas added former AA CEO Doug Parker to its board of directors. Immediately after making the announcement, Qantas announced it was opening a new hub in Dallas/Fort Worth, and Qantas points are being immediately replaced with a vague scheme that no one really fully understands called Loyalty Points.
- Qatar did a thing that a puts a capital “B” in bougie.
- Ryanair is positively giddy that a European Court ruled that €130m in aid sent to Italian airlines by the Italian government in the wake of the pandemic was unlawful.
- South African Airlines will hold onto its London/Heathrow slots for the next three years despite not having any long-haul aircraft. The carrier also plans to hold onto its four slots on the sun in case it acquires aircraft that can land on the sun anytime in the next three years.
- Sun Country has a hankerin’ for BBQ as it will begin flying to Kansas City from its Minneapolis/St. Paul hub with 2x weekly seasonal service beginning Sunday and ending when Sun Country decides it’s had enough of Kansas City for the summer.
- True Aviation reminded all of us that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover after it falsified its flight log sent to the DOT.
- Virgin Atlantic is trialing live bag tracking on its app for domestic flights enabling passengers to see their stuff being lost or misplaced in real time.
- WestJet would like to begin cargo operations in the United States after tasting what IHOP offers up as “maple syrup.”
I was at a bookstore this morning and in the self-help section I saw a book titled “How to Solve 50% of Your Problems.”
So I bought two.