Showing posts from July, 2010

Airline Fined $275,000 for Improper 'Bumping' of Passengers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently assessed a civil penalty against Comair for violating federal rules regarding passengers denied boarding (“bumped”) on oversold flights. Comair and affiliated carriers were ordered to cease and desist from further violations and Comair will pay a civil penalty of $275,000. “Our bumping rules are designed to protect passengers when airlines overbook a flight,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We expect carriers to comply with these rules and will take enforcement action when they do not.” When a flight is oversold, DOT regulations require airlines to seek volunteers willing to give up their seats for compensation. If not enough volunteers can be found and the carrier must bump passengers involuntarily, the carrier is required to give bumped passengers a written statement describing their rights and explaining how it decides who will be bumped from an oversold flight. In most cases, passengers bumped involuntarily al

Massive Mobilization of Aviation Labor Organizations Announced

Unions Agree to Coordinate Aggressive Lobbying Program on Legislative Priorities Including Tightening Aircraft Maintenance Standards, Increased Pilot Training, Protecting Workers During Airline Bankruptcies Three transportation organizations announced today the creation of a large aviation labor alliance to combine and coordinate lobbying efforts on airline safety and security. The American Aviation Labor Alliance (AALA) is a formal partnership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA), which represent more than 140,000 aviation workers. "We are leading the fight that workers care about in the airline industry," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "As the American Aviation Labor Alliance, we will speak on the most pressing aviation issues facing our membership and the public with one strong voice." "The airline industry is under intense financial an

Air France on Facebook

Air France has launched an official facebook page for customers where they can get the latest news, book a flight or share their experience. This move is the latest one by the French Airline to promote itself as an avant-garde player in the field of new technologies and social networks.

Continental Airlines Tries Self-Boarding

Travelers scan their tickets at an automatic boarding gate in Frankfurt; while common in Europe, Continental is the first U.S. airline to try a similar procedure with a single self-boarding gate in Houston. Continental Airlines has announced that it is currently testing an automated self-boarding system at one of its gates at Houston Intercontinental Airport. Although self-boarding gates are not a new thing for many of the world’s airlines, the Continental experiment is the first in the US. The airline has not released a great deal of information about the experiment, but all passengers now have to do when they are barding their plane, is to swipe their boarding pass through and electronic reader. Once this is done a turnstile or set of doors will open and the customer can cross the jet-bridge and take their seat. Greg Soule, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which looks after security at the airport, said that there was no security risk posed by the ne

Aviation primed for takeoff

For the long-suffering commercial aviation industry, signs of recovery are busting out all over. Aerospace manufacturers came away from the bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow this past week with more than $30-billion (U.S.) on their order books, not a record by any means but a far cry from the meager $7-billion in orders last year at Farnborough’s sister show, Le Bourget, near Paris. Airlines – including Air Canada – that not so long ago had been bleeding red ink are reporting stronger quarterly results and presenting upbeat forecasts as passengers take to the skies once again. A cyclical business notorious for its brutal downturns, the aviation sector is beginning to shake off the effects of a recession that left it struggling with its worst crisis in decades. AIRLINES After posting losses of $9.4-billion (U.S.) in 2009, the global airline industry will bounce back this year and make $2.5-billion in profits, according to the International Air Transport Association.

US aviation bill stalls, proponents not giving up

Legislation to overhaul aviation programs, including billions for modernizing the aging U.S. air traffic system, has stalled as congressional negotiators struggle to resolve stubborn issues, one of which involves US Airways Group Inc (LCC.N). Congressional and industry sources said momentum to pass the measure before lawmakers break for August vacation was interrupted this week with key lawmakers unable to reach agreement on provisions affecting long-haul air service and passenger fees that support airport operations. Disagreements have also surfaced on how to proceed in the Senate, which is scheduled to recess August 6. The agenda is crowded with finance and small business bills and a Supreme Court confirmation vote. The House of Representatives breaks for a month next Friday. "We're not that close to getting an agreement on outstanding issues," said one congressional aide not authorized to publicly discuss details while the matter was still being negotiated. T

The Flying Prius

The future of aviation that engineers dreamed about 70 years ago didn’t look much like the present. But it did look a lot like the future of aviation they’re still dreaming of today. Back in 1938, for instance, Popular Mechanics magazine ran a cover story on “The Flying Wing of the Future,” an amazing machine in which the fuselage was almost indistinguishable from the wide V of the wings. In May of this year, NASA presented the latest thinking from Boeing, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, and MIT about the “down to earth” shape of planes to come in the next 20 to 30 years, with companion studies by Boeing and Lockheed Martin about supersonic transport. Sure enough, one of the MIT proposals is for the Hybrid Wing Body H-Series, an enormous flying wing, and NASA actually has been test-flying a model of something similar, the X-48B, since 2006. At first glance they look like they’re straight out of 1938. But the operative phrase here is “at first glance.” Basic principles of lift a

France: Check Your Jacket, Sir?

The French police have arrested an Air France flight attendant accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars in cash, traveler’s checks and jewelry from dozing business-class passengers on dozens of international flights, judicial officials said Tuesday. Authorities arrested the flight attendant on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris early Friday, according to a report in the newspaper Le Figaro. An investigation began in January after five passengers aboard an Air France flight to Paris from Tokyo reported the disappearance of a total of $5,000 in cash. The police said they identified the suspect, a 47-year-old woman, after cross-checking crew manifests for 142 Air France flights on which passengers had reported thefts this year. They did not disclose her name but said that investigators found stolen checks and credit cards in her home and that she was charged in 26 incidents. Citing “money problems,” she reportedly confessed to stealing from sleeping travelers start

British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines get US anti-trust immunity for transatlantic business

British Airways (LON:BAY) and its partners Iberia (MCE:IBLA) and American Airlines - a member of the AMR Group (NYSE:AMR) - have received the final regulatory approval required to operate its transatlantic joint venture. “By working together, the airlines will expand customer choice by supporting routes that would not be economically viable for a single airline”, British Airways stated. The airlines have now been granted anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation. "This final approval is fantastic news for all three airlines and the oneworld alliance. We've waited 14 years to bring the benefits of the transatlantic joint business to our customers and level the playing field with the other two global alliances”, British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh commented. “We look forward to delivering enhanced competition for customers on transatlantic flights. By working collaboratively, we will enhance our product offerings, strengthen our route networks a

British Airways cabin crew reject latest pay deal

Cabin crew at British Airways have rejected the airline’s latest peace offering meaning that further strike action could be on the horizon. Less than half the cabin crew eligible to vote on the pay deal did so, causing BA to put a positive slant on the ballot. The airline said that it was encouraged by the fact that 73 per cent of its cabin crew had not actually voted against the peace deal. Unite union boss, Tony Woodley, admitted that the turnout for the vote had been lower than usual, and urged BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh to return to the negotiating table. He claimed that the result indicated that 85 per cent of BA’s cabin crew were not satisfied with the airline’s most recent offer. Although Mr Woodley called for fresh peace talks, he did not rule out the possibility of further industrial action. Strikes since March have resulted in 22 days of walkouts by the airline’s cabin crew and have been estimated to have cost BA more than £150 million. The new proposals offered

Airport strike disrupts flights in France

An air traffic control strike disrupted journeys from airports across France on Wednesday with one in five flights cancelled from Paris's main international airport Charles de Gaulle. Queues formed as half of all flights were also cancelled from Paris's second biggest airport, Orly, which serves domestic and some international destinations, the civil aviation authority DGAC said. Cancellations began on Tuesday evening at Orly, where Simone Battaglia, 30, was stranded overnight after his Easyjet flight home to Naples was scrapped. "The company is just offering us a flight for Milan tomorrow," he told AFP. "But Milan is hundreds of kilometres from Naples. That means we'll have to take the train. It's a waste of time and money." DGAC said disruption was expected at most French airports due to the strike, which comes as many people are leaving for their summer holidays. Storms forecast later in the day were likely to add to the disruption. Unions

Looking for Green in Blue Skies

A month before the Farnborough air show, an assortment of visionaries, inventors and oddballs, together with a sprinkling of aviation heavyweights, gathered at Le Bourget airfield, north of Paris, for the second edition of the Salon de l’Aviation Verte, or Green Air Show. “There is no such thing as ‘green’ aviation,” said Olivier Jouis, head of environmental affairs at Eurocopter, one of the heavyweights there. “It’s a misnomer. It’s a polluting industry. We can only hope to make it less so.” Progress is being made, he said, to reduce pollution in mainstream commercial flight operations and manufacturing but it is slow and incremental. Still, alongside the makers of solar-powered planes, flying robots and airships — and the Paris Art Boomerang Club — the 52 participants in the salon included the engine maker Snecma and European Aeronautic Defense & Space proof that the mainstream is getting involved. Technological innovation is pushing the boundaries of conventional aviation

From Nothing to a Global Hub for Aviation

Attention airline passengers: While some of you were fuming right along with the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland this past spring, others were finding a new route to international destinations that avoided the ashy Atlantic skies entirely. So, while many regions of the world took a hit in April and May, Middle Eastern carriers carried on, showing a 19 percent increase in passenger volume over last year. Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai was designed to handle 120 million passengers a year. On top of that, the number of their passengers choosing to fly premium class went up 25 percent — “a race to the top,” according to the International Air Transport Association, the lobbying organization and trade group based in Montreal and Geneva. Global shifts in economic circumstances have created new opportunities, and aviation industry insiders say many of these, both short- and long-term, promise to be in the Middle East. “The Middle East had the luxury of starting from a bla

Alaska Airlines ranks first in aviation study

A leading aviation industry magazine, Aviation Week, ranks SeaTac-based Alaska Airlines as the top performing mainline airline in the world in a study released today. Alaska bumped Singapore Airlines, which has held the top spot in the survey for five consecutive years. Among low-cost niche airlines, the survey rated Las Vegas' Allegiant Air as the top performer. Alaska in the last year has improved its on-time performance to the best among the legacy carriers. In the meantime, the airline has turned healthy profits even during the historically weak first quarter. Alaska has worked assiduously to trim unprofitable flights from its schedule while adding new flights to destinations such as Hawaii, St. Louis, Atlanta and Austin. The study noted that most American and Asian carriers upped their scores this year while European airlines saw their rankings fall. Among the top 10, smaller carriers not aligned with major alliances performed best as a rule. Aviation Week said sma

European campaign for traveler's rights

Stowaways That Are Disgusting, Even Deadly

What do mice, mosquitoes, scorpions and maggots have in common? They all breeze past airport security, and they do not seem to mind flying coach. Passengers on a US Airways flight were disgusted to find maggots falling on them from an overhead bin on Monday. Pilots declared an emergency and returned to the gate in Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The plane was emptied and cleaned before proceeding to Charlotte, N.C. The extensive security process may leave passengers feeling that their bodies and possessions are thoroughly inspected before boarding, but there are no regulations prohibiting them from bringing rotting meat on a plane, which is apparently how the maggots got onto the jetliner, said Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for US Airways. “We don’t like to take a delay for any reason, but a delay for insect larvae is a new one for us,” Mr. Durrant said. Vermin have bedeviled airline officials for years. Aviation databases hold dozens of reports of incidents

The World Airline Report

The world airline industry has been to hell and backin a remarkably short period of time. From record losses of $16 billion in 2008 followed by $9.9 billion in red ink in 2009, carriers are projected to earn $2.5 billion in 2010, according to IATA ’s most recent financial forecast presented at last month’s AGM in Berlin (see tables, p. 28). If achieved, this will represent an $18.5 billion profit rebound over two years after a negative swing of $28.9 billion between 2007 and 2008. But recent history hardly inspires confidence in the next six months, let alone the next year, particularly given the known-unknowns of oil prices and terrorism and the unknown-unknowns typified by Europe’s volcanic ash crisis. Indeed, if anything is to be learned from the past 12-18 months it is that stability and the airline industry will continue to be strangers for the foreseeable future. To understand how thin the margins between tragedy and hope are, it is only necessary to reflect upon what the outl

Britain Seeks to Curb Emissions by Abandoning Airport Growth

In a bold if lonely environmental stand, Britain’s coalition government has set out to curb the growth of what has been called “binge flying” by refusing to build new runways around London to accommodate more planes. Citing the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, abruptly canceled longstanding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in May, just days after his election; he said he would also refuse to approve new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, London’s second-string airports. The government decided that enabling more flying was simply incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions. Britons have become accustomed to easy, frequent flying — jetting off to weekend homes in Spain and bachelor parties in Prague — as England has become a hub for low-cost airlines. The country’s 2008 Climate Change Act requires it to reduce emissions by at least 34 percent by 2020 from levels reached in 1990.

No frills, no seats: Ryanair's latest cost-cutting plan

Plans by Ryanair to introduce standing room on its aircraft will not happen for at least two years and may never materialise if the airline fails to meet stringent European safety requirements. The budget airline's boss, Michael O'Leary, will talk about his plans to replace 10 rows of seats with a standing area as well as introducing a coin-operated toilet on some planes in an interview on ITV's How to Beat the Budget Airlines tonight. However, safety officials at the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa), which regulates safety issues on European airlines, said its rules would have to be ripped up and rewritten in order to allow standing room on Ryanair flights. In Easa's certification specifications it states: "A seat (or berth for a non-ambulant person) must be provided for each occupant who has reached his or her second birthday." "This idea [of Ryanair's] is unprecedented and unlikely to be certified in the near future," said a spoke