Monthly Archives: July 2012

Allegiant to Add 19 A319s to Their Fleet

I was just about to write about Allegiant picking up 10 A319s from Cebu Pacific and 9 from Easyjet, but then Cranky beat me to it, and let’s be honest, I’m WAY lazier than he is. Look – he’s got graphics and whatnot in there. I can’t compete. So, in short:

– They’re grabbing these planes because, well, they can and no one else wants them.
– Their operating costs are lower than the MD-80s they typically fly around (nearly 10% cheaper).
– A319 will allow for greater range and flexibility than the MD-80s

Sure, adding more plane types adds to the complexity of the operation, but their costs are much lower, and the aircraft were available. Allegiant runs a tight ship (in my mind they are, with Spirit and US Airways, the best run airline in the US). What was that? Yes, Allegiant, Spirit and US Airways. Who else has run a consistently great business in the airline industry. OK, Southwest. Fine. Throw them in there, too. But look at the stock returns from Allegiant, Spirit and US Airways vs Southwest and see who is kicking some butt (answer: Allegiant, Spirit and US Airways). You don’t have to fly them, but you do have to respect their operational focus.

Tiny Paraguayan Carrier Sol del Paraguay Líneas Aéreas Shuts Down

Bad week for airlines you’ve never heard of: tiny Paraguayan airline Sol del Paraguay Líneas Aéreas shut down, after just launching last October. They flew (well, as much as they flew) 2 routes, from Asuncion to Ciudad del Este and to Buenos Aires using Fokker 100s.

Incredibly, despite only having 2 routes and aircraft with a total of 108 seats, they were the second largest airline in Paraguay (behind TAM). Who knew?

Delta Asks to Move Detroit-Haneda route to Seattle

I’ll be honest – I don’t know why I’m so interested in the comings and goings of flights from the US to Tokyo Haneda airport. Perhaps because 2 years ago airlines were tripping over each other to gain access to Haneda, only to do a quick about face once the earthquake happened. You may remember (if you’re a complete freak) that 3 airlines were awarded flights to Haneda: Hawaiian (from Honolulu); Delta (from LA and Detroit); and American (from JFK). (Haneda is, for many, preferable to Tokyo Narita because it isn’t 2 hours from the city).

American suspended the JFK route less than a year after starting it, though it recently re-started it. Delta suspended its Detroit-Haneda route around the same time.

Now, Delta is asking to move the Detroit route to Seattle, which is a bit of nonsense since they made some huge pitch to the DoT that Detroit flights made sense as a midwestern base (rather than, say, United flights from Chicago) because of their large hub there. Now they’re trying to move that flight to Seattle, where ANA and United already fly to Tokyo (Narita) and Delta already has 3 flights a day to Japan. Not that life is fair, but I’m going to guess that United will try to get the DoT to give them that route and tell Delta to enjoy their LA-Haneda service.

Turkish Airlines to Launch Service to Maldives; Once Again 1-Stop Service from New York for Star Alliance Flyers

Turkish Airlines is launching nonstop, 5-day-a-week service from Istanbul to the Maldives beginning November 24th. People always seem to be interested in ways to get to the Maldives using miles, and it’s good to have another option. With Qatar Airways leaving Mileage Plus, this is a good option for Star Alliance flyers to get over to the islands with just a 1-stop from New York (or other cities Turkish Airlines flies to). The connections aren’t great (4 hour layovers in Istanbul, which is barely enough to get into the city and see anything, though I suppose you could get to the Blue Mosque, run around, and come back to the airport in that time).

Flights leave Istanbul at 8:25pm and arrive at 7:10am. On the return they leave Male at 9am and arrive at 230pm.

You could leave JFK at 1155pm and arrive in IST at 4:35pm with a near 4 hour layover. On the return the flight departs IST at 6:20pm and arrives at 10:05pm at JFK.

US Airways and United both charge 80,000 miles round trip in coach and 120,000 in business.

Chart of All the Credit Cards that Offer Hilton Hhonors Points

There are a large (and growing – see the new Citi Hilton Reserve Card below) number of credit cards that can help you earn significant bonuses in the Hilton Hhonors program. Yes, I know Hilton is a bit controversial among the frequent flyer set because of the changes they made last year making it ridiculously expensive to use points at many upper tier hotels. Fine, I’ll give you that.

But it’s very, very easy to earn Hilton points through credit card signups and for many people those points will come in handy (I know, it’s no Starwood, but that doesn’t mean the program is 100% awful. It’s not.)

Plus, free Hilton Hhonors Gold Status is STILL readily available (go to that link; type in 411945 as the first 6 numbers requested then enter the last digits of any Visa card you have…you may have to change your address in your Hhonors account to be in Australia – you can then change it back after you have Gold. No guarantees, but it appears to be working still — thanks to View from the Wing). Gold isn’t a huge deal, but it will get you free breakfast, concierge floor access, Internet and a bit of an upgrade in the US.

Here are the credit cards that get you Hilton Hhonors points. Funny to note that the best transfer rate of any of these comes from Starwood points (through Virgin Atlantic).

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Comparing the Chase Business Credit Cards

Yesterday Chase launched the Chase Ink Plus card, which is basically exactly the same as the Chase Business Ink Bold® Charge Card card, only it’s a credit card instead of a charge card. Rather than go through the full longwinded review of the Chase Ink Plus, I thought I’d create a handy chart comparing the various Chase business credit card options (also, I like my little chart tool). And yes, you are not limited to getting just one of these cards — for example you can get both the Ink Plus and the Ink Bold® Charge Card.

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Poland’s OLT Express Suspends Operations

Polish lowfare airline OLT Express has shut down its operations, stranding passengers in the 60+ cities it served across Europe.

Although the company has been around in one form or another for more than 10 years, they just launched commercial passenger service back in April, making it one of the quickest airline failures I can remember (Roots Air, a Canadian airline, only lasted 2 months back in 2001 – that’s the shortest I can think of). The airline’s chairman has run into financial difficulties in the past, having been convicted of embezzling from customers back in 2008.

Competitor Eurolot says it will match fares being offered by OLT Express and pick up many of the routes the OLT Express had flown.

Virgin America Coupon Code: 20% Off Fall Flights

Looking to save on your next Virgin America flight?

Get 20% off a Virgin America flight August 22nd through November 14th when you sign up to get a Virgin America coupon code here. You must book by August 15th, and the code can’t be used for travel August 31st or September 3rd. The code is good for you and a guest.

A Note about Spirit Airlines’ Quarterly Financials

You can hate on Spirit Airlines all you want, but from a financial perspective they run a great airline. Their quarterly numbers came out today and I just quickly wanted to point out their ancillary revenue numbers:

– Their ancillary revenue per passenger (per flight segment) is $51.47 (up 18% over a year ago). Average fare is $81.06 (down slightly from last year). I’m not sure they’ll get to the point where their ancillary revenue per passenger is greater than their average fare (if only because they’re able to get an $80 average fare), but they’ll be close. Everyone can complain all they want about the ancillary fees, but Spirit’s ancillary fee revenue grows each year, they can keep their average fare where it is, and their planes are full (85% load factor). What’s this mean? Passengers STILL want low fares, even if it means paying ancillary fees.

I think passengers are drawn to the illusion that they have control over which fees they pay (well, it’s a bit of an illusion — they can certainly avoid paying all fees, but most people will give in and either check a bag, choose a seat, or buy something on board…or print out a boarding pass, or whatever they’re charging for at this point). But those average fares ARE low — Southwest’s average fare is $150 (almost double what Spirit is charging). So even if you combine the average fare and ancillary fees, you still end up paying less than the average Southwest customer. You can decide for yourself whether that $20 savings is worth it to you.

That model – lead with low fares, get ancillary revenue later, appears to be working, as they continue to churn out profits quarter-after-quarter (48 cents a share this quarter). Even in the misery of 2008 they were profitable. If you hate them, you’re free to complain all you want. But they’re not going anywhere (especially not with the pretty significant expansion they’re launching out of Dallas).

A Unified Award Chart for All US Airlines (And the Best Values for Each Destination)

I haven’t seen this pulled together anywhere (forgive me if I missed it), but I’ve often looked for this:

I’ve pulled together the number of miles required for all major US airlines to destinations around the world from the Continental US, and pointed out any bargains in the group. You’ll see that Avios and LAN pop up a couple of times. You can view the Avios distance-based award chart here. LAN also has a distance-based award chart, which you can view here. With LAN, remember that you’re looking at Kilometers on that chart — divide that in half to get the number of miles required. You can transfer Starwood points into LAN, but keep in mind that 1 Starwood point gets you 2 LAN kilometers. The 5,000 point bonus is also doubled. So 20,000 Starwood points gets you 50,000 LAN kilometers.

All miles below are roundtrip.

I’ve also left out options with a fuel surcharge. ANA, for example, has a distance-based award chart with some good mileage values on it, but it’s pretty useless because of the fuel surcharges.

If I’ve missed anything in here, please let me know and I’ll be happy to correct.

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