Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: FAA Bill Passes House, AAdditions in the CAAribbean…

Cranky Weekly Review

FAA Authorization is Reauthorized

The House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming 387 to 26 margin to pass the FAA Authorization Bill, and it is expected to be signed by the president in the near future. The five-year authorization, which passed the Senate last week, gives the FAA more than $100 billion in funding, including $738 million for the NTSB, and one free pack of Biscoff cookies per FAA employee per week for the life of the deal.

Part of the bill includes five new longer-distance flights from Washington/National airport that can operate beyond the current permiteter. Airlines and airports are already positioning themselves to stake claim to the new slots before the bill is signed into law.

Parts of the bill regarding safety include a requirement for the FAA to hire more air traffic controllers, to improve runway safety, increase cockpit voice recorders to run for a 25-hour loop, a major increase from the current two-hour requirement, and new regulations around how to safely navigate airport Starbucks locations prior to 10 a.m.

American Flies South for Winter

American Airlines AAnounced eight new routes to Latin America and the Caribbean this winter including daily service to both Bridgetown and La Romana. Once-daily flying to Bridgetown (beginning November 5 from New York/JFK) and La Romana (beginning December 5 from Miami) lead the new service with Saturday-only service to six other destinations.

Saturday-only flights from JFK being added include St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and St. Vincent, while Philadelphia will connect to both Bridgetown and Liberia, and Charlotte adds St. Vincent.

The carrier is also increasing service on 16 existing routes beginning in December, most of which will operate for all of winter, but some will see a jump in service around the holidays only. These include six routes from DFW, four from Miami, two each from Phoenix and Chicago/ORD, and one from both Charlotte and Los Angeles.

United Begins Process to Exit FAA’s Doghouse

United airlines is being permitted by the FAA to restart some certification activities, including adding new aircraft and routes to its operation.

The carrier had been in a holding pattern since March when the FAA increased its oversight following a series of safety-related incidents in the months prior. United was forced to delay the launch of two new routes due to its predicament, now hopes those days are in the past. In an internal memo, the carrier cautioned that despite this good news, it will continue to see an FAA presence in its operations.

The FAA declined comment as its staff was busy counting the cash it was appropriated in the authorization bill and said counting to $100 billion takes a while.

Airlines Take Federal Government to Court

Several major U.S. carriers, along with their trade group, are suing the federal government over the proposed rule that would require airlines to disclose all fees associated with buying a ticket.

Airlines for America, along with the airlines themselves say the new rules would create more confusion for passengers by offering too much information that would only complicate the buying process. The DOT says it plans to defend the rule vigorously because “we spent all this time coming up with the new rule, so we might as well enforce it. Besides, do you have any idea how much airlines charge to check a fourth overweight bag? Yeah, me neither.”

Under the proposed rules, each potential fee must be disclosed the first time that fare and schedule information is provided and cannot be displayed through a link to another page. The DOT also wants to require a $12 rebate to all customers forced to fly through Newark or when a passenger is seated next to someone who brings hot food on the plane. Those who attempt to board before their group is called will be given a warning the first time, but if it happens again, they will be subject to 20 years in federal prison.

Lufthansa’s ITA Deal Hits a Roadblock

Lufthansa’s effort to purchase ITA and bring the carrier into its Star Alliance is hanging by a thread as reports from Brussels say the EU is expected to block the transaction unless there is a major improvement in antitrust concessions offered by the two carriers.

Lufthansa submitted a set of remedies to the European Commission that have been deemed inadequate over the concern that the merger will reduce competition and double-down on ITA’s market share in Milan. The EU’s formal decision won’t be released for another six weeks, giving the carriers a chance to revisit their proposed givebacks before the deal is officially killed.

The original offer reportedly included a pledge for LH not to include ITA in its JV with Air Canada and United, divest itself of 40 slots at Milan/Linate to easyJet and Volotea, accept interline agreements with rival carriers, to continue to compete on short-haul routes to Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria, and to never ever refer to ITA or its predecessors as the “Worst Airline Ever.”

  • Aeroméxico is headed to Wall St.
  • Air Serbia is wet-leasing an A320 from Fly2Sky for the summer.
  • American‘s Flight AAtendants are in mediation. Yoga helps too.
  • Avelo is saying goodbye to Santa Rosa – Pasco and Miami – Orlando.
  • Breeze applied to blow into Ogdensburg, NY (OGS) to take over EAS service to the city. Its proposing flights to both Orlando and Washington/Dulles.
  • Bulgaria Air has finally signed its codeshare with airBaltic we’ve been waiting for.
  • Condor passengers chose the fish, it seems.
  • Dana Air is furloughing employees.
  • Delta unveiled a “major upgrade” to its app, but the flaw from the previous version that shows too high to be believed redemption rates when searching for a SkyMiles redemption was not fixed.
  • easyJet is opening another UK base — its 10th — next spring at London/Southend.
  • Emirates ended its fiscal year with a profit of nearly $5 billion.
  • Flynas is expanding its interline partnership with Emirates.
  • JetBlue has about half as much stock in Carl Ichan’s portfolio as it did previously.
  • Norse Atlantic is off to a good start.
  • Qantas is suspending service to Shanghai.
  • Qatar is planning to invest in a southern African carrier, although it’s declining to name which one. Perhaps it hasn’t decided.
  • Ryanair is requiring paper tickets at some outstations. The airline is also blaming a government for something again.
  • SAS is adding five.
  • Singapore ended its fiscal year with nearly $2 billion of profit.
  • Spirit is adding three.
  • Southwest is adding four.
  • SkyWest confirmed it plans to begin flying the CRJ-550 for Delta.
  • Volaris owes Uncle Sam some cash.
  • WestJet is expanding its Dreamliner offerings from its Calgary base.
  • Zoom! (No explanation needed)

On my job application, when the form asks who to call in an emergency? I always put 911 — what do you think my mother is going to do?

The latest Air Show podcast is live. This week, Jon and I talk about the whole Part 135/380 drama. What is that? It’s what enables JSX and Contour to fly the way they do.

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19 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: FAA Bill Passes House, AAdditions in the CAAribbean…

  1. Surely Condor passengers should have known that, when asked to select between chicken or fish, always choose the lasagna.

    1. So disappointed nobody made a comment involving the word “Shirley” here!

  2. I guess this means that EK is now officially the most profitable airline in the world.

    The Ita takeover is a net positive but if the EU really wants to improve competition, they should talk to Germany. The German government makes it hard to compete there by either making it illegal (see EK not being allowed to to Berlin) or makes it difficult (see those incredibly high taxes or that silly curfew at Munich for example).

    1. I wonder how the US Big 3 are feeling now, considering all their claims & pleas to DC and IATA how the ME3 were all highly unprofitable and government subsidized….

      1. Big three just want a level playing field against a country that uses near slave labor to this day in its construction projects.

  3. Looks like the hotspot for winter 2024/25 flying is the Caribbean, given the recent announcements by American and JetBlue. Previously MCO & LAS. What will it be the following N/A winter season?

    Zoom – will it ever Zoom off the ground?? Not likely….

  4. SAN, SAT and SMF should get three of the five DCA extra-perimeter slots based on O&D demand and the need for Cap-to-Cap nonstop airlinks.

    1. There’s less “capital to capital” demand than you might think – the Federal government puts locations in states based more on population and service demand than for working with the state capital. Most Federal offices in California are in SF Bay (they should fly to Oakland!) or LA, with some in San Diego. What demand there is is more that adequately covered with connections. And there’s also the nature of the federal agency – for example, travel by the IRS to the DC is mainly driven by management and audit coordination, and the action on those areas is all in the big cities, not the field office in Sacramento or even the 4000+ employee service centre in Fresno.

      The military demand in SAN and SAT is a stronger case. But members of Congress like travel to their home states, and that’s a big part of the decision too. (It really shouldn’t be, but it is.)

      1. SAN, SAT and SMF are also the three largest MSAs (#18, #24 and #28, respectively) currently lacking nonstop service to DCA. Portland (#25) and Austin (#26), both state capitals I might add, gained DCA service with the last expansion in 2012. The primary airport serving the capital city of the 5th largest economy in the world deserves to be linked nonstop with the nation’s close-in airport! The airports serving the capital cities of WA, OR, AZ, UT and CO all enjoy nonstop DCA service. CA sticks out like a sore thumb by not being in that group.

        1. Austin had the advantage of being both the capital and being very close to San Antonio with all of its military bases, so it was sort of a package deal. (I’m actually a bit surprised they didn’t go with San Antonio first, I suspect the Texan congressional delegation had a hand in that.)

          Also, in the examples you list (WA, OR, AZ, UT, CO), the capital is also the largest city in the state. That’s not true for Sacramento.

          On the other hand, I gave this a little more thought and if you look at the current perimeter exceptions, unless you consider frequency increases to existing exceptions I’m not sure who has a better case. If the A321XLR could make HNL-DCA, I’d say that would be a done deal, but apparently HNL would fall just outside the XLR’s range.

          So it’s entirely possible that all three of these three will win, especially with Alaska already campaigning for San Diego and American pushing for San Antonio. The question is: which airline would back SMF? Southwest would be the obvious choice, but with their delivery problems thanks to Boeing’s current ineptitude, is the best use for a plane for them? SMF is a relatively modest spoke for all the other big players.

          Does anyone know when the award process will be completed?

          1. I think the best pairings for these three cities would be:
            AS to SAN
            WN to SAT
            AA to SMF

            B6 to SMF could be an interesting dark horse, as they are an incumbent DCA carrier, and already have a DCA-SJU extra-perimeter flight from the last round. Weaker argument from a network flow perspective, but would strengthen B6’s presence in the SMF market with nonstop service to BOS, JFK and DCA.

            Another outlier (and conceptually I love this one) is if HA were to apply for HNL-SMF-DCA, v.v. through service using A321 a/c. Could be flown as a redeye SMF-DCA flight with a morning DCA-SMF return to flow to/from HA’s HNL hub. However, I doubt that HA would go for it, likely preferring to fly HNL-IAD n/s if they want to enter the greater DC market.

            1. Your idea of HA routing an A321 via SMF to DCA isn’t actually a new one. Aloha applied for DCA beyond-perimeter slots to fly DCA-SNA-HNL with the 737-700 20 years ago. They didn’t get it.

            2. SAT has already selected AA as its campaign partner (link is in the story.) I guess both AA and WN could file for SAT and let the Feds make the choice, but having airport management on their side helps AA’s case.

              I’d love to see B6 go for it, but they’ve already cancelled SMF-JFK (effective Oct l27th) and SMF-BOS is only seasonal. I wouldn’t be surprised (disappointed, perhaps, but not surprised) to see the BOS seasonal move to RNO for the Tahoe market and JetBlue leave SMF entirely.

  5. I’ll go out on a very thick, firm, safe limb here and predict that LH will come back with a few more concessions and the Commission will fold and accept them.

    Spirit seems to be adopting the “throw darts at maps” method for new routes: ROC-FLL has some possibilities, but if there was enough cruise business to provide a base Southwest would likely be on the route already.
    DFW-IAH is already served by the airlines with hubs at either end, and HOU-DAL by Southwest, so that’s a lot of loyalty to overcome with garbage fares, especially with Frontier on the route too and driving always a possibility for VFR (Houston and Dallas are closer than many people think, and rental car expense adds up fast.) And RNO-LAS is already served by Southwest, United (Express) and Delta (Connection), with Alaska coming in October. More garbage fares?

    WN’s new adds look iffy too: is there really that much more demand for non-stop Las Vegas service? I’d think these markets can be served more than adequately with connections.

    As for “Zoom”, seriously? An article that reads like a press release that starts by referring to the network of an airline that went out of business FORTY YEARS AGO and is mainly remembered for a horrific crash in the middle of the capital is NOT the sign of great business minds at work. And they’re going to get their pilots from an eVTOL carrier that hasn’t flown a single flight in an industry that doesn’t even have pilot training standards defined yet? Yeah, this’ll happen.

    (Although I do give “Laranews”, whoever the hell they are, credit for mentioning that the pilot training for the eVTOL isn’t defined yet and it’s likely to be less than the 1500 required for commercial pilots. Fair play to them for that.)

    Most of the needs for air travel within Florida are already covered, and the ones that aren’t fall within that “cheaper to drive with the family in the car” range (MCO-MIA/FLL, except for connections, MCO-TPA, etc.) And Silver covers smaller niches, although they have financial issues. And if there was significant unmet demand, Breeze has two bases in Florida now (MCO, TPA), a third coming in October (RSW), and has plans for a fourth in Pensacola, although I have my doubts about that one rising to “base” status.

    1. Zoom probably got a “cease-and-desist” letter from Progressive Insurance about the “AirFlo” name.

  6. Regarding UA’s ability to resume adding planes and destinations, why are there conflicting stories in the news on this?

    There are stories saying FAA has not granted this approval, though UA put out the word that they’ve been cleared to do so.

  7. If Breeze gets the EAS contract for OGS, and gets approval to fly to MCO, then the US federal government will end up subsidizing trips to Disney World by Canadians. Odd, likely unintended, use of the federal budget, but potentially good business for Breeze.

    Allegiant has been able to maintain unsubsidized service to Florida from PBG since 2007, which they market as “Montreal, QC / Plattsburgh, NY” (and vice-versa). So the concept is sound, though the Ottawa area has only ~1/4 the population, so there’s less latent demand to serve.

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