Monthly Archives: June 2007

OTR Offices Closed for Canada Day and July 4th

The OTR staff is heading out west for a few days, so we’ll be closed up until July 5th.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back then with coverage of the earth shattering Qatar Airways press conference I attended this week.  You can look forward to earth shattering exchanges like this one:

Reuters Reporter to CEO: Have you ordered any 787s?

Qatar Airways CEO:  You’ll have to wait.

Reuters: How long will we have to wait?

QA CEO: I don’t know.

Riveting!

Northwest Cancels 1,000 Flights This Week

In what is shaping up to be the worst flying summer in history, Northwest has canceled about 1,000 flights this week due to a number of factors, not least of which is some sort of labor action by pilots who are upset with management.  Bad weather hasn’t helped either, as a bunch of airlines have canceled flights in the Northeast, but Northwest has really topped them all.  The Detroit Free Press has a little Q&A about what to do if you’re flying Northwest (short version: you’re screwed).

TAAG Angola Plane Crashes, Killing 5

On the very same day I mentioned that the EU banned TAAG Angola from flying into European Airspace, the small airline proved the point by crashing in the Congo.  The 737, which departed from Luanda, Angola, broke apart on landing at M’Banza Congo Airport killing 4 passengers and 1 crew member.  This is the airline’s 5th fatal accident since 1980.

Delta Flight Diverted Because of Apple Juice

Yes, that’s it.  A passenger on a Delta flight from LaGuardia to Greensboro, NC, became unruly after flight attendants took too long to prepare his apple juice, causing the plane to divert to Philadelphia where, if there is any justice in the world, authorities kicked his ass.

EU Bans All Airlines from Indonesia…and TAAG Angola

The EU has put the hammer down on all Indonesian airlines, forbidding them from entering European airspace because they have been deemed unsafe.  A slew of other airlines you haven’t heard of are on the list, but so are TAAG Angola (which you may or may not have heard of) and some aircraft flown by PIA, Pakistan’s national carrier.  Executives from Garuda are not happy…

Not Going So Well at Southwest These Days

Remember how every article written about Southwest used to be a love (luv?) letter?  Not anymore.

The WSJ (sorry, registration req’d) looks at the array of ills facing the airline, not least of which is that many of their competitors have lowered their costs through bankruptcy, leaving the carrier with some of the highest labor costs in the business.  Plus, their so-called no frills competitors have added frills, leaving Southwest to look much more like a — GASP! — legacy carrier.  (sort of).  They also knock the airline for being slow to respond when things started to go bad, though they’ve now announced the end of some of their longer haul flights (costly to run and not necessarily profitable at $99 each way), make some overtures toward adding TV/internet on their flights, and cut back on some of their expansion plans.

But the point does seem to be valid that they were slow to respond to changes in the industry.  Their lack of amenities no longer seems cute when AirTran, Frontier and JetBlue all have either seatback TV or satellite radio.  Their ATA acquisition probably took their eye off the ball for a bit as well.  I’m certain they’ll be fine, but I’ve noticed over the past few days that articles about airlines always claim that no matter what is happening in the industry is killing the airlines.  Terrorism?  Passengers stay home  Oil prices?  Fares go up and passengers stay home.  Competition?  Prices go down.  Too many seats?  Prices go down.  Too few seats?  Causes delays.  Summer travel boom?  Causes delays.  Slow periods stink and so do busy periods.  Ugh.

Free JetBlue Ticket with Pittsburgh Flight

JetBlue is desperately trying to fill its Pittsburgh – JFK flights.  How desperately?  Fly a round trip from PIT to JFK (NOT the other way around), and you’ll get a free ticket anywhere JetBlue flies.  Simple!  Register by June 30th and fly before November 15.  R/T tickets start at just $98. 

Will Ryanair Be Permitted to Buy Aer Lingus?

Probably not.  The Irish carrier said that they expect the European Commission to reject its proposal to purchase Aer Lingus over competition concerns.  Michael O’Leary, the outspoken CEO of Ryanair, said that the rejection is unlawful, considering the Commission has greenlighted the Air France/KLM and Lufthansa/SWISS mergers, combinations which have far more impact.  This won’t be the last we hear from O’Leary on this matter.  Meanwhile, Aer Lingus, which didn’t want to be purchased in the first place, is gloating.

Will Flights End Between Kuwait and India?

I know, most of you won’t care about this, but there is a pissing match going on between the governments of India and Kuwait that could lead to the end of flights between the 2 countries.  This may not affect you, but it will affect a whole bunch of expat workers from India who now work in Kuwait.  The whole thing seems to stem from Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways, which wants to route its flights between the 2 countries through Dubai.  Seems fine, except that India is trying to protect its airlines’ traffic between India and Dubai.  Hence the standoff.  The ban will reportedly go into effect on July 1.

Stuck on Delayed Plane, Passenger Uses Police to Get Him Taken Off

The NY Times has an interesting story about yet another flight stranding passengers on a plane for 5 hours.  A passenger on the Comair flight from JFK to Detroit was fed up after spending 5 hours on the aircraft, which had no air conditioning.  After being told by the pilot that the long delay meant that they now had to switch crews, the passenger, who owns a company that makes small cameras, marched up to the cockpit and starting interviewing the pilot about what was going on.  After the pilot mentioned that he could call the police to have the passenger removed, he realized that this was his chance to get off the plane.

So, the police came and removed everyone (which is what they wanted in the first place), interviewed the passenger, and released him (as he had done nothing wrong).

If you’ve flown this summer, you’ve noticed that the delay situation is completely out of control (my wife arrived home at 3am after a 6 hour delay in Minneapolis last week, and another friend told me about a 4:30am arrival of his Atlanta – JFK flight this week).  Nothing’s going to change, but pity for all of us who actually have to fly this summer.  Get used to it — it’s not getting better.