Monthly Archives: November 2004

Trend for International Carriers?

I wanted to point out a small trend that appears to be growing among international carriers, that I think would be an interesting strategy here at home.  A number of airlines (Thai Airways and Singapore come to mind) have decided taht they are going to focus their businesses on profitable, business-class-friendly long-haul international routes while allowing, or even cooperating with, low fare carriers to cover short-haul, low profit traffic.  Thai Airways owns a piece of Nok Air, a low-fare airline that covers short-haul flying for the airline, while Singapore Airlines owns Tiger Airways, a low-fare carrier.  Rather than using long-haul profits to subsidize its unprofitable and highly competitive short-haul flying, they’ve started completely separate companies to handle the task, minimizing brand confusion and ensuring that the flight experience remains undiluted on the main carrier.

In the US, United and Delta have moved a part of the way in this direction, but have made little-to-no effort to integrate their low-fare offspring with the main carrier.  Would it make sense for United to spin off TED and use it to feed traffic to its new transcon P.S. and International services?  Perhaps.  Could Independence Air serve as the US arm of an international carrier trying to broaden its US reach?  Perhaps. 

These international airlines are onto something, focusing on profitable routes and maintaining passenger experience and expectations, a couple of things US carriers have done miserably since 2000.  Maybe it’s time to start thinking about focusing on what the major carriers do well (long-haul and international travel) and leave the unprofitable traffic to airlines whose cost structures allow for it.

Free Night in Hawaii?

Passengers of a cancelled United Airlines flight from Kauai back to the mainland were forced to sleep on the grass outside the terminal after a worker kicked them out of the terminal at midnight (thanks to the USA Today Airline blog for the heads up).  The plane was cancelled around midnight, and, with local hotels full, an airport worker told passengers that the airport was closed and that they would have to leave.  United provided blankets and food for those sleeping outside.  According to the story:

The incident angered tourism officials and Gov. Linda Lingle even
considered writing personal notes of apology to the 165 passengers.

"Considered writing?"  Do you get points for that? 

Free Ticket to Bermuda, Sort Of

USA 3000 is sort of offering a free companion ticket on its flights to Bermuda.  If you book a stay at one of its qualifying hotels, they’ll refund you up to $310 for a companion’s airfare.  The biggest drawback is that USA 3000 only flies to Bermuda 2 days a week, basically requiring a 5 night stay.  A package deal may be better.

Buy One, Get One on JetBlue

JetBlue is bringing back its popular Free Friend Fare promotion, now with expanded ciites.  The full list is in the link, but from NYC you can fly to Denver, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Jose and Seattle for $318 round trip for two people (for you math-challeneged readers, that’s $159 per person).  Nice deal.  Book thru January 2 for flights through February 15.

Air Bourbon Passes Out

Hundreds of French tourists have been stranded in the tropical island paradise of Reunion in the Indian Ocean after the local carrier Air Bourbon went bust.  Is this even a problem?  Stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean for a couple of extra days?  OK, of course it’s a problem, especially since other airlines are charging an additional $400 per passenger to get people back to Paris.

Frontier to Pull Out of Los Angeles

After an attempt to turn Los Angeles into a focus city, Frontier Airlines is abandoning the effort, eliminating flights to Philadelphia and Kansas City in February.  Frontier faced brutal competition on its LAX routes from incumbent carriers, including a ridiculous fare war with Northwest, leading to Frontier pulling out of the MSP-LAX market earlier this year.  The carrier says they will re-deploy the aircraft on routes to Mexico, which is, if I remember correctly, what America West said when they were reducing transcon service.  Two things to note here:

—The transcon market has become an extremely difficult market to do business in, as carriers have added tons of capacity and driven fares way too low.  Frontier, AA and America West have all re-thought their strategies in these markets.
—Frontier (and America West) should be commended for recognizing when something isn’t working and redeploying their assets where they can actually make money.

A Plague of Canaries? Oh no, IN the Canaries

A locust infestation is feared in the Canary Islands off of Spain, as 5000 of the little buggers were found over the weekend.  The agricultural minister said that the locust plague was being blown out of proportion and that it won’t be nearly as bad as the locust plague in Africa. Right there—that’s a GREAT tourism message:  Come to the Canaries, where the plagues aren’t nearly as bad as those in Africa.

Don’t Mess with El Al

Israeli flag carrier El Al will begin installing an anti-missle system on one of its aircraft in December.  Two Israeli companies developed the system, which will send off a decoy flare if it senses a missle coming its way.  The product is similar to anti-missle systems used by the military, but passengers will not be able to see the flares being deployed—a product specification necessary as you can only imagine the panic that would ensue when an anti-missle system is fired.  If the first installation is successful, El Al hopes to include it on six additional aircraft.

Thanksgiving Vacation

I’m out of town for the Thanksgiving break, so my posts will be limited-to-none until next Monday.  Have a great holiday.

Plane Lands Safely with Dead Pilot

A Garuda Indonesia 737 landed safely in Pontianak, Indonesia, after its pilot collapsed and died during the flight.  The co-pilot took over and returned the plane, which was on its way to Jakarta, back to Pontianak without incident.  Well, without further incident, as the pilot dropping dead was an incident.