News from the Airline Industry

by AirGuide Online - The Best Source for Global Air Travel

Travelers troll Internet sites for erroneous fares. Many consumers check airlines sites specifically looking for "mistake fares," USA TODAY reports. Recent accidental online deals include a $51 roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Fiji. Some Web sites include disclaimers giving the right to refuse to honor a fare that a reasonable person would recognize as a mistake. Often these online deals are caused by human error.

More research needed before tighter emission rules are enacted. Europe and North American officials are moving toward stricter emissions standards for commercial airlines, according to an editorial in Air Transport World. Tougher rules could harm the industry, which is already suffering from staggering fuel prices. Airport air emissions are an under-researched subject, and more work should be done to understand the airlines' role and responsibility.

Continental, America West adopt new XML specifications. Continental Airlines and America West Airlines have adopted XML specification for bookings and linking with rental car companies and travel agents, InformationWeek reports. The specifications were developed by the Open Travel Alliance, an organization that sets industry standards.

Delta Air Lines opens sparkling Boston terminal: Delta Air Lines' new Terminal A at Boston's Logan International Airport features color video screens with weather conditions at destinations, famous Boston restaurants and orderly inspection lines. The $400 million terminal was conceived before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Independence Air chief expects to break even this summer. Independence Air expects to break even by June or July, according to chief executive Kerry B. Skeen. The airline said it will report a $105 million first-quarter loss, the Washington Post reports. One analyst, however, said the airline will burn through all of its cash by the end of 2005. The airline has recently launched fares as low as $29 for one-way travel.

Song's marketing chief says airline could overtake JetBlue. The marketing chief of Delta Air Lines' low-cost Song airline expects her carrier to pass JetBlue in a few years. In an interview with Time, Joanne Smith touted the airline's food offerings and in-flight entertainment system. She flies Song at least once a month and said executives work alongside Song flight attendants at least four times a year, pushing carts and selling food.

Southwest asks workers to spread the word about Wright law. Southwest Airlines officials have asked airline employees to talk to at least two people outside the airline each day about the possible repeal of the Wright Amendment, the Dallas Morning News reports. The airline launched a new phase of its effort to get the law repealed on Thursday. The Wright Amendment limits flights out of Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a large hub. American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport oppose changing the law.

United to use unique legal strategy to prevent potential labor strike.United Airlines hopes the courts will force unionized employees to accept new contracts. As part of an unusual strategy, the airline may use the Railway Labor Act to keep mechanics from walking off the job, the Chicago Tribune reports. United said it must reduce labor costs to exit bankruptcy protection.

US Airways: Merger would widen its scope, preserve jobs. US Airways told union leaders a merger could help it expand while keeping jobs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The airline did not specifically refer to talks with America West Airlines in its presentation to the unions. It acknowledged a merger would face many hurdles. May 6 2005

Boeing and Northwest Airlines today announced the airline's order for up to 68 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Northwest will use the 787 to boost operating efficiencies on its long-haul routes. The order includes firm purchases of 18 787-8s worth, approximately $2.2 billion at list prices, plus options and purchase rights for 50 additional Dreamliners. Six airplanes will be delivered each year during 2008, 2009, and 2010. With its initial delivery in August 2008, Northwest will be the first North American carrier operating the 787. May 5 2005

Southwest launches campaign for Wright repeal today. Southwest Airlines will kick off its campaign to repeal the Wright Amendment with an employee rally today, the Dallas Morning News reports. The law limits flights out of Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates a large hub. The airline wants the law changed so it can grow at the airport. American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport believe the law should stay in place.

US Airways to cut 10 planes from fleet this summer. US Airways will eliminate 10 more planes from its fleet this summer, but the carrier says the move will have "a limited impact on flight schedules." The company also restated its first-quarter financial results. The airline now says it lost $282 million. It originally reported a loss of $191 million. The new results reflect a $91 million charge for the termination of pension plans.

American, pilots oppose changing retirement age: American Airlines and its pilots union say they oppose lifting the mandatory retirement age for pilots to 65, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. In a letter to two representatives, the airline and pilots say "the age 60 rule has served the industry well." Some airlines and pilot groups support lifting the retirement age to 65. American had not spoken out about the rule until Wednesday.

Summer travel heats up, but air fares hold steady despite fuel prices. The busy summer travel season has finally recovered from a slump triggered by the Sept. 11 attacks, CNN/Money reports. Hotel prices are already climbing, although high fuel prices have not prompted a jump in air fares. The European Travel Commission estimates a record 14 million Americans will travel to Europe this year.

Boeing test pilot gets to know planes from development to delivery. Boeing test pilot Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann gets to know Boeing jetliners from their development until the time they're ready to take their first passengers, the Seattle Times reports. She is now the senior test pilot on the 777 program and the lead pilot on tests for the 777-200LR. She has put the planes into dives, approached the speed of sound and taken jetliners to 30,000 feet and allowed them to stall.

Investigators now think previous damage caused rudder to tear. Investigators now think a rudder tore off an Airbus A310 jetliner while it was flying near Florida because the part was previously damaged. Airbus officials declined to comment. The finding is good news for the jetmaker; at one point, investigators thought the rudder's design might be flawed. Investigators may still request more thorough maintenance checks of the rudders.

The mile-high life. Northwest Airlines announced it will replace Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light with Miller Brewing's Miller Lite on flights throughout its system. Budweiser will continue to be offered by the airline.

Southwest starts Pittsburgh service, may add more flights. Southwest Airlines started service in Pittsburgh today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The airline will operate 10 daily flights and will compete with US Airways. Southwest chief executive officer Gary Kelly said the airline will add more flights if the service becomes popular.

Independence Air promises free fare if luggage is delayed. Independence Air will give a free ticket if the airline does not deliver a passenger's luggage on time, Travel Weekly reports. The Happy Bags Delivery Promise is part of the airline's plan to promote its customer service. The free fare is valid for one year after it is issued and does not include taxes and fees.

AirTran launches Charlotte flights, will compete with US Airways. Discounter AirTran Airways arrived in Charlotte today, launching six daily flights, the Charlotte Observer reports. It will compete against US Airways, which operates a major hub there. A US Airways spokesperson said the carrier has lowered its costs so it can match AirTran's low fares.

United may scrap automated luggage system in Denver. United Airlines is testing new ways to move luggage at Denver International Airport, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. The airline may permanently replace its $250 million automated baggage system because it is expensive and works poorly.

Airbus to postpone deliveries of A380 until second half of 2006, report says. Airlines say Airbus will delay deliveries of its A380 superjumbo jet until the second half of 2006, the Wall Street Journal reports. The manufacturer previously expected to deliver the planes in the first half of the year. Airbus would not comment on the delays. Engineers say efforts to reduce the weight of the plane and technical issues are stalling the program. They added that the delays do not signal fundamental problems with the plane.

Following discounters' lead, big airlines add direct flights. Under pressure from low-fare rivals, large airlines are adding nonstop flights that do not require travel through their hub cities, the New York Times reports. Airlines have already added 134 nonstop routes within the past year. Airline managers hope the changes will attract more passengers and create profits.

For women business travelers, it's a jungle out there. Women business travelers encounter hazards and hassles many male road warriors don't have to consider, Keith L. Alexander writes in the Washington Post. Author Kathleen Ameche offers women advice to maximize safety and avoid common pitfalls in her new book, "The Woman Road Warrior: A Woman's Guide to Business Travel." Among her suggestions: Never stay in a hotel room on the ground floor, and let the hotel concierge know where you're going and check in when you get back.

American Airlines to sell food on more flights. American Airlines is expanding its food-for-purchase program to more flights, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The airline began selling sandwiches and snacks in the coach section of some flights on Feb. 1. The airline said up to 60% of passengers buy the food on transcontinental flights.

Airlines tighten baggage policy, add fees to offset high costs. Airlines have begun charging customers for oversize bags and for checking extra luggage, USA TODAY reports. The carriers are tightening their policies as they face soaring fuel prices. The airlines also say heavy bags are responsible for some employee injuries. Fees vary from airline to airline.

Higher seat belt use, better technology helps lower turbulence injuries. Technology improvements and the increased use of seat belts have helped reduce injuries from turbulence, the Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney writes. The Federal Aviation Administration said no passengers suffered injuries from turbulence last year or so far in 2005. Pilots are also able to better avoid turbulence because the FAA has doubled the number of altitudes jets can use while they cruise.

Travelocity creates customer bill of rights, will provide live agents. Travelocity has created a customer bill of rights that includes working with suppliers to correct problems, Air Transport World reports. For example, it will work with a hotel if a reservation is lost or if the hotel is overbooked. The travel site will also provide telephone numbers so travelers can reach live agents.

Few pilots are armed two years after creation of training program. Few commercial airline pilots have attended training programs that would allow them to carry guns into the cockpit, the Chicago Tribune reports. A little more than 5% of pilots are armed when they fly. Pilot groups say thousands of pilots are interested in the program, but argue the weeklong program run by the Transportation Security Administration is inconvenient. Pilots have also criticized some of the program's procedures.

Many airport screeners do not get proper training, report says. Thousands of airport security screeners are not getting the training they need to detect weapons, according to a government report. Many screeners miss training sessions because checkpoints are understaffed and because training centers lack high-speed Internet access, USA TODAY reports.

Potential America West, US Airways merger concerns unions. A potential merger of US Airways and America West Airlines worries leaders at labor unions, the Business Journal of Phoenix reports. Employees fear the merger could result in layoffs. Union leaders say America West workers are more vulnerable because they are less senior than employees of US Airways.

US Airways, America West need investors for merger. US Airways and America West Airlines are searching for investors to fund a potential merger, the Wall Street Journal reports. The airlines need $500 million to complete a deal, which would also include US Airways leaving bankruptcy protection, according to industry sources. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) (5/2)

Fuel prices hurt US Airways' Q1 results: US Airways reported a large first-quarter loss as high fuel prices counteracted many of the airline's cost-saving efforts. The airline said it lost $191 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $177 million a year ago. The airline is trying to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Demand for summer travel heats up; airline bookings climb. The travel industry is rebounding from the recession it endured after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Bookings for airline tickets, hotel rooms, cruises and campsites are climbing for this summer, despite high fuel prices.

State Department will redesign passport technology to protect against theft. The State Department will redesign new passport technology to minimize the risk of identity theft, the Washington Post reports. Tests revealed that technology could leave the documents vulnerable. Officials said the changes could delay plans to start issuing the passports later this year.

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