Oh Canada: Air Transat and Porter Buddy Up
One year after beginning their codeshare agreement, Air Transat and Porter are taking their relationship to the next level as the pair announced their intention to make it official and enter into a joint venture. It’s unclear who asked who, although Porter CEO Michael Deluce is known to be a hopeless romantic and was seen searching for a ring big enough to fit on the fuselage of an Air Transat A330.
The two airlines are fit for a JV as they currently operate very different networks which could complement each other nicely — Porter flies Dash 8s and E195-E2s, operating exclusively within Canada and to the United States, while Air Transat flies A320neos and A330s on longer-haul routes to Europe and throughout the Americas.
Not everything lines up perfectly though – Porter offers free on-board internet, and free drinks and snacks while flying business-heavy markets, most of which start or end at one of Toronto’s two airports. Air Transat is more of a no-frills operation, competing on price and charging for just about everything else.
To celebrate the new partnership, both carriers will select one passenger to receive a traditional maple syrup bath (think Gatorade bath for the winning coach of the Super Bowl) on a codeshare flight between Monday and Boxing Day — December 26.
American and United Pump the Brakes on O’Hare Expansion
Five years after signing the original agreement for an expansion of Chicago/O’Hare, the two major carriers at the airport — American and United — are, well, united in their desire to see the project slowed down or scaled back as costs spiral out of control.
The project, which will eventually add a new terminal and two satellite concourses to the airport is currently $1.5 billion over budget and counting. Construction hasn’t even yet begun on the main elements of the project, with much of the cash having been spent on consultants and lawyers, with the consultants reviewing the documents sent to the lawyers and the lawyers reviewing the documents sent to the consultants, putting everyone in a never-ending circular time warp that gets more expensive by the hour.
Both airlines say they remain committed to the project, just not at the current cost levels. The project is currently funded by ticket taxes, landing fees, and a mechanized Harry Caray statue which sits outside gate K11 asking for donations to help pay for
another drink the project. The city has had no comment beyond vague statements about ongoing discussions with the two airlines.
Spirit Offers Buyouts – Likely for a Fee
Spirit Airlines is in major cost-cutting mode these days and it’s now offering buyouts to its employees to try and save some cash. It’s expected that those who accept the buyout will be required to pay a buyout fee to accept the offer along with a check deposit fee to receive the payout.
The carrier is facing a tough combination of sluggish demand and grounded aircraft due to Pratt & Whitney engine issues, and is hoping the employees who take the buyout might consider a second career with P&W to help the manufacturer solve its troubles. Spirit is also putting a temporary hold on pilot and flight attendant training to slash costs with the idea that at this point, they either know enough about what to do up there or “that’s their problem.”
Spirit has also reduced flights and exited Denver to save, and will continue to seek other ways to impact the bottom line including new fees for customers and staff alike.
Lufthansa’s Seeks Approval for ITA Bid
Lufthansa’s effort to purchase a significant stake in ITA moved to the antitrust approval process on Thursday as the carrier — along with the Italian government — sought approval from the EU’s antitrust watchdogs.
LH said it is willing to divest itself of slots in Milan to address competition concerns. The airline said no one wants to fly there anyway with the rugged German city of Dortmund expected to replace Milan as the fashion capital of Europe. The rest of Lufthansa’s paperwork submitted to the European Commission consisted of
profit/loss statements for ITA/Alitalia going back more than a decade with a watermark of the laughing emoji all over the background. LH is seeking a 41% stake in the beleaguered carrier for about $350 million with an option to increase to a majority stake in the future.
The European Commission says it will make its decision on the case by January 15 — or when it stops laughing, whichever comes first.
United Rides the Rails
United and Lufthansa announced a greater cooperation with German train operator Deutsche Bahn that will allow UA customers traveling between the U.S. and Germany via Frankfurt to book their air and rail journey in one fell swoop.
United’s customers will now be able to earn MileagePlus points for the rail portion of their journey, receive all boarding passes when checking-in, get priority baggage handling at the rail check-in area at Frankfurt’s airport, and have the same feeling of hopelessness that all United Newark passengers feel when the train is delayed due to “weather.” Deutsche Bahn made it very clear via a statement that despite this enhanced partnership with United it has no plans to actually send any of its trains to Newark and doesn’t want any of its loyal customers to get the wrong idea.
- Air China resumed flying to Washington/Dulles this week.
- Air New Zealand‘s former CEO Christopher Luxon was sworn in as New Zealand’s 42nd Prime Minister.
- Air Transat flight attendants voted to approve a strike that could begin as soon as January.
- airBaltic is adding a seasonal base in Gran Canaria.
- AJet, the former AnadoluJet, will launch as a standalone carrier in March while remaining a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turkish Airlines.
- American will begin putting high-speed internet on its regional jets beginning next year.
- Bamboo Airways is getting desperate.
- easyJet might add a base in Milan if Lufthansa’s pursuit of ITA is completed.
- Etihad‘s partnership with Air France/KLM is growing.
- Finnair paid the Finnish government back in full for the pandemic-era loan it received in March 2021.
- Hawaiian is selling tickets for new routes it will operate. Revolutionary.
- ITA‘s first A320 flew today from Rome to London/Heathrow.
- JetSMART Colombia delayed its start to March 2024.
- Korean is going to build a new operations center.
- LATAM Brazil‘s B767-300ER era came to an end.
- LOT is resuming year-round flying to Athens with daily service beginning April 11.
- Qantas is banning passengers from taking photos or videos of airline staff and other passengers without their consent, surely a blow to a select few in the airline blog community.
- Qatar is loosening its curfew restrictions on cabin crew.
- SAS received approval to recapitalize.
- Silver is golden with its new livery.
- SkyTeam believes alliances are back. Source: the CEO of the alliance.
- Smartwings is smartly beginning scheduled service between Prague and Athens.
- United is doing a great job, according to United.
- Virgin Australia upped its B737 MAX 8 order to 14 airplanes.
At breakfast this morning I asked the waiter if I could get all 14 pancakes I ordered on one plate. He said he would ask in the kitchen if it was possible, but he wasn’t sure it would work because “that’s a pretty tall order.”