SFO-Bound Air India Flight Lands in Russia
Air India flight 173 departed Delhi Tuesday morning bound for San Francisco but ended up diverting to tiny Magadan, Russia after the B777-200 suffered a technical issue with one of its two engines. The flight highlighted the potential danger of U.S.-bound flights using Russian airspace, with many in the U.S., including United CEO Scott Kirby calling for an end to the practice.
Russia has barred U.S. carriers and airlines of U.S. allies from using its airspace, but many — including Air India — still use Russian airspace, along with many Middle Eastern, Chinese, and African carriers. A group of senators have advised the president to ban the use of Russian airspace on all U.S.-bound flights, but nothing has come of it yet.
The 216 passengers, including American citizens, were forced to spend the night on the floor of a grammar school in Magadan — which teachers took as an opportunity to tell everyone about how the US is just the worst and doesn’t even make its bed each morning — as the small town did not have enough accommodations for everyone onboard. Air India sent a rescue plane from Delhi which arrived Wednesday morning. Passengers eventually boarded the new aircraft and landed in San Francisco just after midnight PT Thursday morning.
Air India is offering a full refund to passengers on the flight, and plans to offer “I spent the night in Magadan, Russia and all I got was this stupid t-shirt” shirts once it figures out everyone’s size.
Delta Faces $1 Billion Lawsuit over Carbon Neutrality Claim
More than three years after Delta announced its plans to go carbon neutral, the airline finds itself at the business-end of a lawsuit over calling itself “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.” The airline has made that claim on all corners of the internet and social media, on its in-flight napkins, and it’s been overheard from top executives while flirting at bars throughout metro Atlanta.
The class action suit says Delta’s claim of carbon neutrality is false because no one actually knows what carbon neutrality is, much less how to achieve it. It also says the claim is wrong because it relies on junk offsets that don’t actually do anything – which is what everyone expected was happening anyway. The suit alleges customers purchased tickets believing their purchase would not affect the environment, and wouldn’t have bought them without the neutrality claim, proving those bringing the suit have never tasted a Biscoff at 30,000 feet.
The case will go in front of a judge who will decide whether the case will move forward. A Delta spokesperson said the airline was rigorously researching what carbon was and how an airline could be carbon neutral and whether Delta actually achieved that distinction. The airline declined to comment further.
India Disrupts United and Emirates Codeshare
The Indian government denied a formal request from United to put its UA code on flight operated by Emirates as part of the codeshare agreement between the two former rivals turned besties.
United planned to put its code on 27 Emirates routes, including eight operating to and from India, but the Indian government is standing behind the current agreement between the Indian government and the UAE which prohibits a second codeshare for Emirates in India. This comes after India rejected the UAE’s effort to amend the bilateral air agreement between the two countries to give UAE carriers greater access to India. The current agreement caps the number of seats on sale between the two at just 66,000 per week, and India’s protectionist policies give it no incentive to change.
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson recently urged the government to not “open the floodgates” to foreign airlines, saying it was in the national interest to protect his airline – which is true – but left out the part that it’s also in the best interest of Campbell Wilson’s bank account to protect his airline. For more on this story, please visit Thursday’s post at crankyflier.com.
Ryanair Settles Lawsuit with U.S. Pension Fund
It’s rare to see Ryanair settle a suit and not take it to the bitter end just out of spite, but the Irish carrier settled its case for $5 million with the City of Birmingham (Alabama, no really, stick with us) Firemen’s and Policemen’s Supplemental Pension System. The fund sued the airline in New York district court five years ago, claiming CEO Michael O’Leary put out “false and misleading statements,” breaking its obligation under the Securities Exchange Act.
The city of Birmingham purchased U.S. shares of Ryanair on the Nasdaq as part of its pension fund, but then alleged the share price was artificially inflated, and then dropped when the truth of Ryanair’s labor troubles were revealed. The allegation was that the carrier was mistreating employees, leading to large amounts of resignations, hindering its ability to operate its schedule and provide future growth.
Ryanair, of course, denies this, but went ahead with settling the suit. To make up the lost revenue, the carrier will add a $5 operational “Roll Tide” fee onto its next 1 million bookings.
Qantas to Become New Airport’s First Carrier
When Western Sydney Airport (WSI) opens in 2026 as Sydney’s newest airport, it will have at least two airlines as Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar announced they will be there for opening day.
Qantas expects to begin serving WSI — also known as Eastern Perth Airport — with five single-aisle jets, with LCC Jetstar adding 10 more single-aisle jets itself. Qantas expects to fly more than 4 million passengers within the first year on flights from the new airport to Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Melbourne. Construction is more than halfway complete with about three years to go until flights begin. The airport says its being designed to eventually be Sydney’s largest airport with plans for about 82 million passengers annually.
Unlike Kingsford Smith, Sydney’s current airport, WSI will operate without a curfew. SYD currently has a curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily along with other restrictions on takeoff and landing patterns on weekends. The new airport isn’t expected to have any operating restrictions which — along with the airport’s claim to have the world’s largest airport vegemite reserves — is expected to draw a flood of airlines.
- Air Canada is adding wifi functionality to its regional fleet, allowing more customers the ability to pre-order poutine to be ready upon arrival.
- American expanded free T-Mobile wifi access to Viasat-equipped aircraft.
- Alaska will begin daily, nonstop service between Seattle/Paine Field and Honolulu this November.
- Avianca applied to add two new cities in the North America (Montreal, Tampa), and resume service to both Chicago/ORD and Newark.
- BA got caught in another IT gaffe, this time a data breach of a third party that handles the carriers payroll support services.
- Emirates might order new airplanes.
- Fly Atlantic, which claims to be an airline, is delaying its start by a year. Color us shocked.
- Icelandair signed a codeshare agreement with Turkish.
- IndiGo is close to an order for as many as 500 Airbus A320 family aircraft.
- JetBlue is expanding into the Caribbean with 3x weekly service from New York/JFK to St. Kitts and Nevis begin November 2, and 3x weekly flights from JFK to Belize City beginning December 6.
- JetSMART‘s codeshare with AA will begin on flights to Chile on Jun 15, applying to three domestic routes from Santiago, later expanding to other destinations in Chile, plus Argentina and Peru.
- LATAM selected Pratt & Whitney to supply the engines for 146 A320neos, a handful of which are expected to not be grounded due to engine problems.
- Nigeria Air is having trouble securing an AOC.
- Rex will begin daily flights between Hobart and Melbourne on August 17.
- Riyadh Air will not be a threat to Emirates when it launches, according to Emirates.
- Samoa Airways received $1.47 million in state funding.
- Singapore is opening a new lounge in Perth, the old airport, not the new Eastern Perth.
- Spirit took delivery of the first of its 32 A321-200neos it currently has on order.
- Southwest former customer service agent at Chicago/Midway was indicted after being unfairly targeted for the minor, victimless crime of four counts of wire fraud after stealing nearly $2 million from the carrier through producing and distributing fraudulent LUV vouchers.
- Vietnam Airlines also signed a codeshare agreement with Turkish.
- Virgin Atlantic will begin new daily service from London/Heathrow to São Paulo on May 13, 2024, and to Bangalore beginning March 31 of next year.
- WestJet named Michael Scott its new CFO, and sometimes the jokes just write themselves.
I saw my math teacher walking down the front hallway of our school carrying a big stack of graph paper.
All I could think was “he’s plotting something.”