Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: SAS Joins the Team, United Buys Again

Cranky Weekly Review

SkyTeam Gets SASsy

The saga of SAS’s bankruptcy is closer to the end than the beginning after the carrier announced it expects to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection next year after Air France-KLM purchased 20% of the airline. It will then follow its new overlord to SkyTeam.

Air France-KLM is injecting $1.2 billion into SAS and will have the option to increase its stake in SAS to give it a majority interest in the future. As part of the deal, SAS will leave Sweden, staff will have to return any Swedish Fish in their possession, and its Swedish subsidiary’s common shares and listed commercial hybrid bonds will be canceled, redeemed, and delisted next summer. The Danish government will retain its interest in the carrier, with its share now being just over a quarter at 26%.

SAS will maintain its own brand, but the new tie-up will allow coordination across Air France-KLM’s two hubs and SAS’s three. SAS’s plan will need approval from the bankruptcy court, and then its potential inclusion in SkyTeam’s transatlantic JV with Air France, Delta, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic will need the approval of several governments’ antitrust departments.

As part of the deal, once SAS officially joins SkyTeam, SAS customers not only cannot access Delta SkyClubs in the United States, but they’re prohibited from even looking at a SkyClub.  If customers encounter a SkyClub, they’re expected to keep their eyes forward at all times and continue on their way.  Any SAS customer who attempts to enter a SkyClub will see their tickets canceled immediately with no refund or compensation offered with the only option to continue their journey on a Frontier GoWild! Pass.

United Orders All of the Airplanes

United Airlines completed orders for 110 new airplanes, including 50 new B787-9 Dreamliners and 60 narrowbody A321neos. Both orders were converting options it held from previous deals, and these 110 now give the carrier about 800 new airplnes of which it will take delivery in the next ten years.

UA is expected to use this batch of Dreamliners to replace its aging B767 and B777 fleets, with the entire fleet of 767s expected to be gone by 2030 or whenever they just stop working, whichever comes first. The A321neos give United 130 of the type on order, with their primary purpose being to fly people out of Newark to any destination within the plane’s range.

The growth of widebodies in UA’s fleet will continue as it continues its strategy of upgauging the entire fleet. In 2019, United had an average of just 109 seats per plane per departure, and by 2027, that figure will have jumped to 145.

Delta and Aeromexico to Grow Partnership

Thanks to Mexico’s Category 1 rating being restored by the FAA, Mexican carriers are launching new service to the United States at a feverish pace.  As part of the ramp up, Delta and Aeromexico are growing their partnership by more than 30% as Aeromexico launches 17 routes from seven airports next year to nine U.S. destinations, all of which will be part of Delta’s codeshare with AM.

Aeromexico is expected to operate nearly 60 daily departure to the United States next summer to 36 U.S. cities, with Delta flying 34 daily flights to seven airports in Mexico.  The combined codeshare will offer more than 90 daily flights on almost 60 routes – some of which are to places that people actually want to go to.

Aeromexico’s new service to the U.S. includes Monterrey to Atlanta, New York/JFK, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City along with León, Guadalajara, and Queretaro to both Detroit and Atlanta and finally Mérida to Atlanta. Service from Mexico City/MEX will include Boston, Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Washington/Dulles while the new Mexico City/Felipe Angeles will see flights to both Dallas/Fort Worth and McAllen, TX.

JSX Takes it to the People

JSX is under attack from American and Southwest, putting its existence is in jeopardy as those two carriers are challenging JSX’s model with the FAA. American and Southwest, along with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), maintain that JSX should not be permitted to operate under Part 135 (a carve out for commuter and charter carriers), but under Part 121 (regular scheduled carriers), which would require it to play by the same rules as everyone else when it comes to hiring pilots and running its operation.

As a Part 135 airline, JSX can hire pilots before they’ve accumulated the requisite 1,500 hours in the flight deck and pilots that are older than 65 – but hopefully not anyone who’s both over 65 and hasn’t flown 1,500 hours yet.  To stave off the challenge, JSX appealed to its customers this week, sending an email to everyone it could, asking for the public send support for JSX to the FAA’s public docket by this Thursday, October 12.

While it’s too soon to tell if JSX will survive, it certainly has made strange bedfellows.  Dallas metroplex rivals American and Southwest teamed up on this along with the ALPA which only makes sense when JSX’s expanding presence in Dallas is added as context.  The FAA is expected to rule once it fully shakes out which side can offer the best incentives for it to rule in their favor.

JetBlue Partners with Uber

JetBlue Airways announced a new partnership with Uber that will see the carrier offer Uber vouchers to customers who experience one of JetBlue’s inevitable delays or cancellations. Eligible customers will receive a link via text or email that applies the voucher to their Uber account. Customers without an Uber account will be given a link to download the app and a free Carter/Mondale ’80 bumper sticker.

To be eligible, a customer must have a delay of at least three hours – or a cancellation – and have JetBlue be unable to reaccommodate on the same day. JetBlue won’t offer the voucher if it’s an uncontrollable delay – for reasons such as weather – or if the customer is particularly obnoxious. (This policy will be reviewed if the Spirit merger goes through, for obvious reasons.)

Unfortunately for most passengers, the Uber voucher does not come with a ticket on a new airline or a bag of blue chips, because JetBlue doesn’t serve those anymore.  The carrier plans to continue this partnership once its merger with Spirit is complete, but at that time will require a $9 ground transportation fee to unlock the link to the voucher.

  • Air Malta is gone, and will be replaced by Malta’s government with a completely, totally, new airline that has nothing to do with Air Malta. Except for retaining its workforce, fleet, and route map. The name of the new airline? Malta Airlines, not to be confused with Malta Air.
  • Air North added its first B737-800 to operate to its destinations that actually exist. For the others, any plane will do.
  • Air Transat is growing to Europe.
  • Aircalin is wet-leasing an A319.
  • ANA ended its cargo JVs with Lufthansa and United.
  • British Airways tentatively reached a tentative deal with its pilots.
  • Canada Jetlines is raising $10 million for a fleet expansion.
  • Cathay Pacific is adding 32 A320neos and one A321neo.
  • Delta fixed everything.
  • Elite Airways is no longer elite.
  • Ethiopian has its eye on fifth-freedom flights to Canada.
  • Etihad will open its largest-ever lounge in Abu Dhabi in November. Its expected to have enough capacity to handle displaced SkyClub guests from both Atlanta and New York.
  • Hawaiian is debuting new amenity kits as if flying to Hawai’i isn’t enough.
  • Hong Kong Airlines is resuming service to Kumamoto (KMJ) on December 2.
  • Kenya Airways signed the interline agreement you didn’t realize you needed, with airBaltic.
  • KLM opened lounges in both Houston/IAH and Toronto.
  • Korean is still working to satisfy European antitrust regulators on its merger with Asiana.
  • LATAM took delivery of its first A321neo while ordering 13 more.
  • Loganair is no longer for sale. If you missed out, don’t blame us.
  • LOT has a plan. Just ask them.
  • Lynx Air received permission to fly to Europe. Now it just has to locate it on a map.
  • Mango just won’t die.
  • Nok Air has another annual loss knocking on the door.
  • Porter is adding flights from Toronto/Pearson to both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Daily service on both begins in January.
  • Royal Jordanian did something with its finances.
  • S7 is resuming service between Moscow and Dubai for both people interested in that route.
  • Silk Way West took delivery of its first B777 freighter.
  • Spirit has begun a self-bag drop option at Detroit. It costs $12 per person per bag to use, and those that decline to use it must pay a $29 fee to do so.
  • WestJet is suspending service between Montréal and Toronto for six months because people rarely fly between those two cities.

I rented a bouncy house for a birthday party I’m hosting next week. The quote I was given was just $50 for the rental, but $800 for the set-up fee and to blow it up. I told the company that was ridiculous and the rep on the phone just said “that’s inflation for you.”

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

5 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: SAS Joins the Team, United Buys Again

  1. WestJet’s retreat from the eastern domestic markets is interesting, they’re facing challenges from both LCCs in the west and Porter in the east, and some more environmentally-conscious (or cheap) travelers may also be taking a harder look at VIA Rail’s service – slower than flying, but viable too. (Pun not intended.) Westjet’s been blasted for declining service standards in the last few years, too.

    Speaking of puns, the bouncy house one was excellent!

  2. Actually wouldn’t a lot of people be interested in a Moscow to Dubai route? It’s one of the few places oligarchs can go.

    1. Do Oligarchs fly commercial?

      But regular Russians don’t have many places to visit, so for them it probably it is an interesting route. Too bad our “friends” in the UAE aren’t with us in enforcing travel restrictions.

  3. Spirit has had Uber/Lyft links to customers for years. Glad to see some of their technological superiority rub off on JetBlue.

    1. Surprised Spirit doesn’t have a process for sending out Greyhound bus tickets to delayed customers… Then again, perhaps Spirit is afraid that customers would be spoiled by the superior amenities, service, and on-time performance that Greyhound offers compared to Spirit. ;-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier