Michael Whitaker Nominated to Head FAA
The Biden administration announced Thursday that it is nominating Michael Whitaker to be the next administrator of the FAA, a position that’s been vacant for nearly 18 months since former administrator Steve Dickson left the post on March 31, 2022.
Whitaker is currently the CCO for Supernal, a Hyundai-owned company developing an electric air vehicle. Whitaker is not new to the FAA, having served as a deputy administrator during the Obama administration. Assuming he’s confirmed, he’ll start on his first day already tapped with the knowledge of where the supply closet is and which break room has the good coffee.
ALPA and Airlines for America came out in support of the Whitaker with other groups waiting to see how the confirmation hearings go before taking a side. Whitaker needs to be confirmed by a simple 51 vote majority of the senate to be confirmed. Confirmation hearings are expected to begin
soon whenever the Senate damn well pleases.
Down Under CEO Goes Under
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce stepped down Wednesday, two months earlier than previously planned, amidst the controversy that Qantas sold tickets to thousands of flights that it had already canceled.
Joyce spent 15 years in charge of Qantas, but is now wondering the Australian desert for 40 days and 40 nights attempting to survive on nothing but Tim Tams and Vegemite until he’s inevitably hired by Rex as a consultant. CFO Vanessa Joyce was scheduled to take over the airline in November but will begin her new role now. One of her first challenges will be leading Qantas through a battle with Australian regulators over its dominance of the Australian market while also figuring out what happened to the airline’s stock of Tim Tams and Vegemite.
She’ll also become the public face of Qantas’s defense against the allegation of selling tickets to canceled flights. The Australian government is seeking a fine of $162 million from the carrier if the allegations are proven in court. Qantas has countered by offering government officials $162 million worth of tickets for flights that are absolutely, definitely, not canceled.
Air France-KLM & Etihad Grow Closer
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Air France-KLM and Etihad this week with the stated goal of growing their partnership. New collaboriation will potentially include reciprocal loyalty program access, talent development, and shared maintenance and ground handling. The carriers have had a limited codeshare and interline agreement since 2012, but this would be a dramatic expansion of that partnership.
As part of the new MoU, the two are considering expanding their codeshare agreement to cover as many as 40 new routes across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Neither North or South America was considered for the agreement as both parties agreed to stay as far away from Newark as possible.
Etihad currently flies to both Amsterdam and Paris, and Air France will begin operating to Abu Dhabi this fall. When the loyalty reciprocity begins, Flying Blue members will be able to earn and redeem miles on Etihad, while Etihad Guest members will be offered the same on both Air France and KLM. Both parties agreed to the shared loyalty programs as an effort to stave off the need for anyone to have to use Delta’s SkyMiles program for as long as possible.
Avelo Gambles on New Base
Avelo Airlines opened its sixth operating base this week, putting its money on the line in Las Vegas while increasing its operation from the airport. The carrier is beginning three new routes from LAS this week, two more in the future, and is doubling the frequency on another.
New service from Las Vegas on Avelo will include Redmond/Bend (2x weekly, began Thursday), Brownsville, TX (BRO) and Eureka, CA (ACV) (2x weekly, begins today), Dubuque (2x weekly, begins Wednesday), and Salem, OR (2x weekly, beginning October 5). Sonoma (STS) will see a doubling of flights from Vegas, from 2x to 4x weekly, with the new frequency beginning today.
Avelo is currently hiring new crew members to fill out its Vegas base, preferring candidates who favor flying to the storied streets of downtown Dubuque as opposed to far flung locations like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago.
Delta Adds Completely Rational Strategic Advisor
Delta Air Lines is adding Tom Brady as a strategic advisor, a personnel move that makes total sense and is definitely money well spent. Brady’s not just a strategic advisor, but a long-term strategic advisor, and one that will be involved in “strategic initiatives alongside Delta’s global employee base, customers and other key stakeholders.”
The former NFL star is making a difference early in his tenure, as he was seen loading luggage into an A350 prior to Delta Flight 283 from Detroit to Shanghai. He’s also spent some time working at SkyClubs in Atlanta and New York, laughing at customers who thought they would actually be granted access to the overcrowded clubs.
The carrier says Brady will develop and advise on strategic training and teamwork tools for its more than 90,000 employees while supporting Delta’s brand identity. We too would like to get paid a lot for doing nothing useful.
Brady had identified Delta as a potential post-playing career employer months ago, but the the announcement was held up by the two parties haggling over comp. Delta wanted to pay Brady in SkyMiles, but he insisted on cash compensation. Delta then countered with SkyMiles and SkyClub passes but Brady was wise to that scam as well. The partnership was finalized with they finally agreed on combination of cash and access to the secret tunnel underneath the Atlanta airport where Delta stores its Biscoff supplies.
- Air Canada is increasing service to Europe next summer to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Madrid, and Rome.
- Air Congo could be back.
- Air India Express will unveil a new brand before the end of the year.
- Allegiant carried 1.9 million passengers in July.
- Avianca will launch 4x weekly flights between San Salvador and Oakland beginning January 29.
- Biman Bangladesh is planning a return to New York, via Izmir, Turkey.
- Condor will add new service to Miami next summer.
- Discover Airlines, come on down!
- Emirates is expanding its codeshare with United to increase opportunities for its customers going to and from Mexico.
- Fly Gangwon did not find a bidder to purchase the airline.
- flydubai will begin daily service to Cairo on October 28.
- Hawaiian will initially operate its Dreamliner aircraft on routes to Los Angeles from both Honolulu and Maui, plus Honolulu to San Francisco.
- Hong Kong Airways returned its final A350 to its owner, four years after ending its operation of the aircraft type.
- ITA is hopeful its savior Lufthansa’s takeover will be complete in the next two months.
- JAL finally listened to its customers.
- LOT has a plan. And it’ll tell us the plan later this year.
- Mango might not be totally dead.
- Qatar is resuming cargo flights to Bahrain.
- Ryanair carried 18.9 million passengers in August, an 11% jump from August 2022.
- Sky Airlines is returning to Uruguay.
- Thai might be adding some new airplanes.
- Thai AirAsia X‘s restructuring was approved by a Thai bankruptcy court.
- United‘s pilots will vote on its deal with the carrier through September 29.
- Vietnam Airlines is launching 3x weekly service to Perth on December 7.
- WestJet is adding Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith to its board of directors.
A detective showed up at my house today and asked me where I was between 5 and 6.
I said “Kindergarten.”