Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: AA’s FAs Hunker Down, FAA Gives NYC a Break

Cranky Weekly Review

American FAs Gear Up for Strike

Flight attendants for American Airlines are getting closer to striking as the union turned down a hail mary offer from management this week and opened a strike command center for its members.

ManAAgement offered a 17% raise directly to flight attendants which was meant to drive a wedge in between union leadership and the rank-and-file. Predictably, this was turned down immediately by the union which then called the offer a “PR move in the face of a strike deadline.” The airline said the offer came with no strings attached and also included an increase in profit sharing for the FAs, a curious offering from an airline that hasn’t been profitable yet this year. AA FAs’ last contract raise came prior to the onset of the pandemic, now more than four years ago.

The two parties are expected to begin a final round of federal mediation next week, and assuming that doesn’t lead to a deal, the union is expected to request a 30-day cooling off period which is one of the final impediments before a strike can take place.

Meanwhile, Alaska FAs are watching very closely as they prepare for their own potential strike. The sticking point in that negotation appears to be over the FAs demand that management place two pancake machines from Alaska’s lounges in every crew lounge with management only willing to install one.

NYC Slot Exemption Extended

The FAA is extending its slot exemption to NYC’s three major airports through October of next year, signaling there’s no end on the horizon for the clogged airspace to clear up. The waiver is obstinately due to the ATC shortage both in the northeast and across the entire country, but NYC’s airports have been over-congested for about as long as there has been NYC airports and long before the current ATC shortage.

The waiver allows airlines to temporarily park 10% of their slots without losing them permanently. American asked for a waiver to park 100% of their slots until they could figure out a way to make money flying them, but that was denied.

The government is planning on moving control of Newark’s airspace to its Philadelphia controllers and away from New York by the end of this month. It’s also looking to move 17 controllers from New York to Philadelphia, but despite offering $100k as an incentive to make the move, it didn’t have enough volunteers to take the two-year placement. A distaste of cheesesteaks and a debilitating fear of Gritty were listed as the main reasons for the shortfall.

JetBlue Makes Essential Addition

JetBlue is dipping its toes into the world of Essential Air Service, winning the right to serve Presque Isle Northern Maine Airport (PQI) located in, well, northern Maine. We checked, and PQI is located so close to Canada, you can smell the poutine from the terminal.

The carrier won out over four different airlines for the contract — including American, Boutique, and United — with all four proposing to serve the airport from Boston. This is JetBlue’s first application to fly an EAS route, and it will do so using E190s to start, eventually upgauging to the A220. JetBlue will fly the route once daily from Boston beginning September 1 and will operate it for two years, sometimes even running on-time.

The federal government is providing almost $22 million over the two-year agreement to JetBlue to operate the route. When JetBlue begins serving the airport, United will end its tenure flying from Newark. When asked about receiving service to a city other than Newark, Presque Isle city manager Martin Puckett was too busy celebrating to comment.

WestJet Basic Isn’t Just Basic Anymore, it’s UltraBasic

WestJet has decided that its Basic Economy product just wasn’t punitive enough, and it’s replacing its Basic fares with what its calling WestJet UltraBasic.

How Basic is UltraBasic? So Basic that it won’t allow changes or cancellations, so Basic that it comes with a pre-assigned seat, but not one you’re gonna like, so Basic that it lets you board in the final boarding group, and its so Basic you won’t earn any rewards in the carrier’s loyalty program. The final boarding group and no carry-on are what differentiate UltraBasic from the previous Basic fares on the carrier — that and now UltraBasic customers will be required to apologize to all other passengers during boarding for their thriftiness.

WestJet says this will lower fares across the board for everyone, which, ok, we’ll believe it when we see it. After the flight lands, UltraBasic customers will also be required to address the captain of the flight upon deplaning by saying “thank you (sir or ma’am), may I have another?” or be denied boarding on a future WestJet flight.

Virgin Atlantic Adds All the Codeshare Partners

Virgin Atlantic announced the addition of three new codeshare partners, as the carrier grows closer to fellow SkyTeam airlines SAS and Saudia, plus the alliance-less El Al.

The carrier will return to Tel Aviv this September, when its partnership with El Al begins. VS fly an A330 to Tel Aviv and will offer connections for El Al passengers to 14 U.S. destinations on 33 daily flights.

SAS will join SkyTeam this September, and when it joins up, Virgin Atlantic fliers can earn and burn miles on SAS, with SAS EuroBonus members being able to do the same on Virgin in addition to the codeshare partnership. Finally, for Saudia, VS fliers can fly from the United States to either Jeddah or Riyadh via London/Heathrow or Manchester with VS flight numbers all the way.

  • Air Canada is offering complimentary snacks, beer, and wine in economy. The free snack will be offered on all flights with the booze available on flights within Canada and to the United States. Porter is unimpressed.
  • Air France-KLM is reducing its stake in Kenya Airways.
  • BARK Air is finding things to be very ruff after just one flight.
  • British Airways is adding staff at its London/Heathrow hub this summer.
  • Cathay Pacific will begin flying to Riyadh this fall.
  • Delta is resuming service to Tel Aviv today.
  • Discover discovered Munich would be a great place to open a long-haul base next spring.
  • EgyptAir is being given over $400 million from the Egyptian government to acquire new aircraft.
  • Emirates earned its stripes.
  • Etihad is joining forces with China Eastern to form the JV partnership you didn’t know you needed.
  • Flair CEO Stephen Jones is retiring.
  • Fiji Airways formally joined oneworld earlier this week.
  • Garuda Indonesia is moving closer to a potential JV with Singapore.
  • LASER Airlines operated its first transatlantic flight earlier this week.
  • LATAM is increasing summer frequencies to both Los Angeles and Miami from Santiago and extending its seasonal service to Orlando from SCL through March.
  • Lufthansa finally began flying between Seattle and Munich, four years after originally planned.
  • Mesa sold six CRJ900s and ten engines, which begs the question if it now has four engines sitting around without an airplane.
  • Mexicana is buying airplanes.
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle is going back to Toulouse after a 10-year absence.
  • Qatar is considering a large order of large airplanes.
  • Riyadh Air‘s first interline partner is Singapore Airlines. EgyptAir isn’t far behind.
  • Royal Air Maroc is growing closer to Etihad.
  • Ryanair was a loser in court this week. Twice.
  • Spirit suspended four contracted employees for brawling with a customer in Baltimore. The reason for the suspension wasn’t that they literally fought a customer, it was because they did it before they collected the customer’s carry-on fee. As part of the fallout from the fight, the company replaced its CFO.
  • Turkish is close to a 225 aircraft order from Boeing split between 150 737 MAXs and 75 Dreamliners.
  • t’way is looking to add as many as t’en A350s.
  • United can again acquire new aircraft.
  • Virgin Australia has new menus. Supposedly they’re being printed on very fancy paper.
  • WestJet is adding three B737-8 MAXs.
  • Wizz Air might fly to India in the future. It also might not.

What do you call your group of friends you like to go out to eat with to try new restaurants?

Taste buds.

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16 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: AA’s FAs Hunker Down, FAA Gives NYC a Break

  1. Spirit: As part of the fallout from the fight, the company replaced its CFO.

    No true, not funny and potentially libelous

    1. Going after our dear Cranky Flier is (hopefully) not on their priority list. If it is not, they need to more than change their CFO

    1. Gritty can be rough, but I don’t think he’d touch an ATC. Sounds like another libel suit if you ask me, amirite, @YellowCar?

    1. Flying AA nearly weekly and have barely seen a drink service all year I thought they already were on strike. They must be really pissed off…. they aren’t even hawking the credit card when the turbulence is so bad the seatbelt sign is off but they can’t do a service.

    2. No. Not even in the same union. AA is APFA, which only represents AA. IIRC, Republic FA’s are somehow represented by the Teamsters.

  2. As do I. Had the same thought then realized both could apply! I hope that’s not libelous.

  3. The CFO of Spirit (Scott Haralson) left to join Hertz as its CFO. Make any joke you want about the color yellow, but he’s a smart guy and probably an injection of what Hertz needs.

    And the Mesa aircraft and engines… if it’s 6 planes and 10 engines, wouldn’t that be 2 engines (not 4) sitting around without a plane?

  4. Taking this off-topic again to rant about moderators.

    How do I have two warnings again? I’m prob maybe about to get banned for literally no good reason. (The first one was also for some stupid reason)

    Apparently you can’t post the text from paywalled articles now? Of course it’s buried somewhere in their 20 or so pages of rules.
    How do I provide a summary of detailed, in depth, informative, articles without missing anything? I have no clue.

    Oh yeah and I apparently if I have a complaint about this, I need to send it to an email that THEY NEVER USE.

    Gee and people wonder why that site is dying.

    1. They’re protecting themselves. It’s a copyright violation to post text from paywalled articles. Has been since before the internet. They’re just really inconsistent with enforcement.

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