Monthly Archives: February 2005

US Airways Eliminates Fort Lauderdale Flights

US Airways is (again) re-vamping its schedule, canceling a number of flights out of Philadelphia, Charlotte and, surprisingly, Fort Lauderdale.  In addition, the airline is returning 11 of its older 737 aircraft.  Basically, the airline is canceling flights where it competes heavily with Southwest (ie, Philly to Tampa, Buffalo and Norfolk, to name a few).  It’s also eliminating flights from Lauderdale to San Salvador and Panama City, service that just launched a few months ago (this is a shame, because they had been heavily discounting these cities).  US Airways is not doing well enought to ride out a slow roll-out of its Latin American service, hence the cancelations.  It also shows how incredibly vulnerable the airline is to competitors.  While it’s a good move for them to concentrate on markets where they can actually make money and not compete in ridiculous fare reductions, it’s a sign that it’s still touch-and-go over at US Airways.

Southwest Says Ding

Southwest is introducing a new low fares program called Ding.  Yes, Ding.  Consumers will download a piece of software (called Ding) onto their desktop, and it will alert them to Ding specials, which are only good for a few hours or so.  Or maybe a day (it’s not really clear).  In case the consumer doesn’t quite get it, your computer will make a Ding noise when new fares are available.  The airline promises that the download application does not contain spyware.  Ding to that.

Visit Japan, Get Free PDA

Sort of.  The city of Tokyo is reportedly handing out PDAs to tourists to help them navigate the city.  The PDAs are pre-loaded with navigation systems, maps and a tour of the city.  It sounds like you have to give them back, though, when you leave.  Bummer.

Northwest Raises Fares

Northwest announced that it has increased fares $10 each way on long-haul flights and $5 each way on domestic flights.  American has matched some of these increases.  While this is not normally big news, Northwest rarely starts a price increase (and tends to quash others’ attempts at raising fares).  Not earth-shattering news, but the fact that Northwest did it is interesting. 

In other fare news, just about all of the carriers are offering $59 one-way fares between Chicago and Boston/New York/DC for travel through May.  Book by Monday, Feb 28th. 

Bush’s Visit Scraps Flights

Lufthansa said that George Bush’s visit to Frankfurt caused the cancellation of 77 flights and delay of another 178, as increased security caused a ruckus at the airport.  Lufthansa said it is considering whether to seek compensation from the state-owned air traffic controllers.  For its part, the controllers said that bad weather, not Bush, was responsible for the disruption. 

JetBlue to Burbank

Good news for the myriad JetBlue fans out there:  The carrier announced new service from JFK to Burbank, beginning with 3 daily flights May 24th (more flights will be added later).  Burbank, like Long Beach, is a dream, with easy access to rental cars and none of the general annoyance of LAX.  This is the only nonstop service from Burbank to NYC, and fares will start at $99.

Ryanair Orders 70 Planes

Ryanair has ordered 70 Boeing 737-800s and taken the option on 70 more to be delivered in the 2008-2012 timeframe.  The airline says the lower operating costs afforded by the aircraft will allow it to offer lower fares in the coming years—a remarkable feat considering they currently have seats on sale for about GBP 1 (yes, I know, their credit card fees and other ridiculousness push the final cost way up, but still…)

Independence Air Gets New Life

Independence Air finally has some good news after a week of missed payments and airplane repossessions:  They have done some serious restructuring that should give them a major boost towards actually making it through the year.  Most importantly, they will return 24 regional jets and 21 turboprops, and they will put off $70 million in lease payments due this year until next year.  Plus, their CEO said that their March load factors will approach 70%, a huge jump from their sub-50% figures in January.  All-in-all, a good omen for the fledgling airline.

New Routes to China, Liberia

You may remember (or not) that American, Delta, and Continental (among a couple of others) were vying for new routes into China.  Well, you can stop holding your breath:  American was granted a new route from Chicago to Shanghai, and Continental will fly from Newark to Beijing.

In a lesser celebrated new route, Universal Airlines will begin 1-stop service from JFK to Monrovia, Liberia in March for $995 round trip.  In a billion years you wouldn’t guess where it’s stopping.  OK fine, I’ll tell you.  Guyana.  It’s a one-stop to Liberia with a stop in Guyana.  Go figure.

Northwest’s Old Planes

Here’s a tidbit:  The average age of Northwest’s DC9 fleet is older than me…

In case you’re interested, here’s an AP article talking about Northwest’s 1995 decision not to sell its old DC9s (34 years old, on average, with several going back to the LBJ administration.)  Northwest has the oldest fleet of the top 60 airlines worldwide.

Fret not, the planes are as safe as any other in the sky.