Monday, June 30, 2008

American Airlines Fleet Reduction Update

Three new Boeing 737-800's with the 12 additional seats are ready for delivery for AMR and will be put into the fleet as soon as they are checked out.

This is wonderful news as now AA must begin staffing 737's with FOUR F/A's as who will know what A/C is where once they start flying around the system. Conversion of the remaining 737 will begin shortly. Acceleration of the 737's on order will also take place. Boeing cranks out 31 737's a month. Service flows will be adjusted to reflect additional F/A.

Appears the biggest hit for reduction of flying is Eagle and the mainline cutbacks are not as severe as planned to to UAL grounding approx 100, 737's and the 4-6 747's and other carriers dropping service and routes. UAL will have about 100 more A/C's than TWA when they are done cutting service and routes. Put that into perspective.

Loads for the Holiday solid. Planes being held in service to accommodate them. In NO way does In-Flight want or wish to have a repeat of Christmas past when they ran short of crews and supervisors filled in for a good part of December.

Extended leaves and retirements should offset mainline furloughs...cross our fingers. There is a 400 pilot shortage and a projected F/A shortage for 2009 and we all know what that means...more recalls...let's hope this all comes to pass.

The DAL and NWA deal...just like TWA and AA. They all say no employee cutbacks but we shall wait and see on that one. Never say never again. You know darn well they will chop excess headcounts.

Here is a snapshot the AMR's fleet.

Airbus A300-600 33 in service 267 (16/251)Domestic/Latin American short-medium haulMost fly out of JFK, MIA, SJU, and MCO. SJU cutbacks require moving aircraft to other marketsTo be phased out by 2012 or sooner. Exit from service: 13 in 2008

Boeing 737-800 77 in service (29 orders) (29 options) 142 (16/126) config148 (16/132) config. North American short-medium haul. Most fly out of MIA, DFW, and LAX. Three ready for delivery, 16/160. More coming late 2008, early 2009

Boeing 757 124 in service 188 (22/166) Short-medium-long haul. Most fly out of hub/focus citiesTo be fitted with winglets. To be fitted with new interiors.

Boeing 767-200ER 16 in service 165 (9/30/126)167 (9/30/128) JFK-BermudaLos Angeles, Miami, San Francisco. To be fitted with winglets. To be fitted with new interiors.

Boeing 767-300ER 58 in service 219 (30/189)223 (30/193)225 (30/195)Domestic/International medium-long haulTo be fitted with winglets. Fitted with New Business Class

Boeing 777-200ER 47 in service (7 on order)245 (16/35/194)247 (18/35/194)DomesticMiami-ChicagoDallas-ChicagoInternationalMoscowBeijing (begins March 25, 2009), Buenos Aires, Paris, London, Frankfurt,Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai,São Paulo, TokyoFitted with Flagship Suites. Being fitted with New Business Class. Being refitted with AVOD in all classes (internet)

McDonnell Douglas MD-82 35 in service (some former TWA)136 (16/120)140 (16/124)North American short-medium haul. Most fly out of ORD, DFW, STL, LGA

McDonnell Douglas MD-8 393 in service (some former TWA)136 (16/120)140 (16/124)North American short-medium haul. Most fly out of ORD, DFW, STL, LGA

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy employees are more productive employees...

Small workplace-enhancing changes can reap big rewards
(ARA) - It's not surprising that employees cite compensation as the number one factor that makes them professionally satisfied these days.
What is surprising is that the comfort and aesthetic appearance of their physical workplace virtually ties with benefits for second place.

With an increasing number of people spending more time in their offices, the physical comfort, visual appeal and accessibility of their work environment become increasingly important. So pivotal, in fact, that the American Society of Interior Designers commissioned a 1999 nationwide study, "Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Employees - By Design" that revealed:

- Employees who were pleased with their physical workplaces were 31 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their jobs,
- The physical workplace would impact 41 percent of employees and job seekers to accept a position, and
- The quality of their physical workplace would influence 51 percent to leave a company.

Even more eye-opening is that an astonishing 73 percent were not satisfied with the physical workplaces at their current jobs.

Certainly these statistics give one pause, particularly given the high costs, headaches and loss of productivity associated with staff member turnover. Wouldn't it make far better sense to keep valuable employees by making small, yet meaningful, cosmetic adjustments to their work environments?

"In this competitive marketplace, it is increasingly more important to focus on the appearance of the workplace," explains Todd Imholte, president of Environmental Graphics, the leading producer of wall murals for home or office in the United States. "Studies have shown that employers who care about their employees and their work environment, have noticed more motivated and productive employees."

Denise Ones, Ph.D., the Heller Vic Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Minnesota says, "We know that there is a strong relationship between motivation and productivity in the workplace. Employees who are motivated will be more conscientious, dependable and ultimately more productive." Sage Publishing will release a book authored by Dr. Ones entitled, "The Handbook of Industrial, Work and Organizational Psychology" in September of 2001.

The Toyota manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Ky., for example, recently installed 44 of Environmental Graphics' WallMurals throughout their production facility, labs and conference rooms. According to safety manager, Karen Wells, "The murals help bring the outdoors in, making the work environment a more positive and motivating place for the employees.

When people look up at the wall, they see pleasant scenery instead of a plain, boring wall. We even let the employees pick them out!"

Murals can have a tremendous impact on morale and productivity and most companies have walls that accommodate murals. Murals are a cost effective way to make a big improvement on the workplace environment. Murals, like the ones from Environmental Graphics, cost around $100.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A novel concept: charging your product cost. Problem is if you raise ticket prices, you fall to the bottom of web ticket searches. What do you do?

Freeways in California are still just cut out the flipflops and shorts crowd!

Charge the is that simple. It is simple economics...really! People will still travel! Stop shaking out the passengers with endless fees. Freeways in California are still just cut out the flipflops and shorts crowd! ...Charge the is that simple.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Soon, no free drinks if you fly US Airways
Water, coffee, juice, sodas due on pay list
for $2.00 each
Are they going to charge for oxygen when the masks fall?
By Laura McCandlish
June 13, 2008

Talk about taking the fizz out of air travel. US Airways will become the first major U.S. airline in August to charge domestic coach passengers for soft drinks, juices, coffee and bottled water as part of a shift to what it calls a "pay-for-what-you-use" business model. The $2-a-pop beverage charge is the latest in a raft of new charges airlines have been imposing to help pay for record fuel costs. Free nonalcoholic beverages have been one of the last freebies handed out by domestic airlines, which already charge for alcoholic beverages and - except for Continental - for meals and even snacks on domestic flights.

Among other new or higher charges US Airways is imposing :
•A $2 increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages, to $7.
•$15 for a first checked bag, making it the third major U.S. airline to start charging for a single piece of stowed luggage. It already charges $25 for a second checked bag.
•Fees of $25 to $50 for booking frequent-flier award tickets after Aug. 6.
•A $25 service fee for domestic tickets and a $35 service fee for international tickets purchased by phone, up from $15.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, US Airways also is shuttering its exclusive club for elite travelers, in addition to its one in Raleigh, N.C., due to "insufficient demand." Five employees currently work at the BWI club, US Airways spokesman Morgan Durant said. Once the dominant carrier at BWI, US Airways now accounts for slightly more than 6 percent of the market share there."Our operation at BWI is a fraction of what it was in the '90s," Durant said. "Unfortunately it was one portion of our club network that was identified as an area where we could save some costs."

The Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier also is cutting flights, shrinking its fleet and slashing 1,700 jobs."We must write a new playbook for running a profitable airline in this new and challenging environment," US Airways Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William D. Parker said in a statement.US Airways created the new cuts and fees to help pay for soaring fuel bills this year. Jet fuel has jumped to almost $4 per gallon from $2.72 at the end of 2007, and US Airways' fuel costs are up almost $2 billion this year.

Parker said the airline now needs to make about $650 to $700 per round-trip passenger just to break even. Independent airline consultant Robert Mann said it's unlikely that the charges and fees announced yesterday will bring in that much revenue. "They're just grasping at straws," Mann said. "The industry has to fundamentally reprice its services." Mann said the industry needs to cut the number of available seats by 20 percent before airlines will have the power to boost fares and keep up with the price of fuel.

US Airways said free drinks would continue to be served to unaccompanied minors and passengers in first class on US Airways Shuttle and on trans-Atlantic flights. Passengers who suffer from dehydration or other medical issues will be served complimentary bottled water at the flight attendant's discretion, US Airways spokesman Durant said.

When weather delays hold a plane on the tarmac for hours, passengers also will be given free beverages, he said.Kate Hanni, who heads a grass-roots group called the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights, said the new US Airways fees went too far and could even jeopardize the health of its passengers. "All of the airlines are unbundling to the point where it's unsafe," Hanni said. "Are they going to charge for oxygen when the masks fall?"
The Associated Press contributed to this article.

NBC's Tim Russert dead at 58
He was the Washington bureau chief and moderator of ‘Meet the Press’

Virginia Sherwood / © NBC Universal, Inc.

NBC News and MSNBC

WASHINGTON - Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after a sudden heart attack at the bureau, NBC News said Friday. He was 58.

Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program when he collapsed, the network said. No details were immediately available.

Russert, the recipient of 48 honorary doctorates, took over the helm of “Meet the Press” in December 1991. Now in its 60th year, “Meet the Press” is the longest-running program in the history of television.

In 2008, Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Timothy John Russert Jr. was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 7, 1950. He was a graduate of Canisius High School, John Carroll University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He was a member of the bar in New York and the District of Columbia.

Senate staffer before entering journalismAfter graduating from law school, Russert went into politics as a staff operative. In 1976, he worked on the Senate campaign of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and in 1982, he worked on Mario Cuomo’s campaign for governor of New York.

Russert joined NBC News in 1984. In April 1985, he supervised the live broadcasts of NBC's TODAY show from Rome, negotiating and arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II, a first for American television. In 1986 and 1987, Russert led NBC News’ weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China.

Of his background as a Democratic political operative, Russert said, “My views are not important.” “Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.”

Cuomo, Russert’s onetime boss, wrote of Russert: “Most candidates are not eager to present themselves for Tim’s incisive scrutiny, which is fed by his prodigious study and preparation. But they have little choice: appearing on ‘Meet the Press’ is today as vital to a serious candidate as being properly registered to vote.”

Russert wrote two books — “Big Russ and Me” in 2004 and “Wisdom of Our Fathers” in 2006 — both of which were New York Times best-sellers.

Emmy for Reagan funeral coverageIn 2005, Russert was awarded an Emmy for his role in the coverage of the funeral of President Ronald Reagan. His “Meet the Press” interviews with George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 won the Radio and Television Correspondents’ highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award, and the Annenberg Center’s Walter Cronkite Award.

Russert’s March 2000 interview of Sen. John McCain shared the 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television Journalism. He was also the recipient of the John Peter Zenger Award, the American Legion Journalism Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication and the Catholic Academy for Communication’s Gabriel Award. He was a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

Russert was a trustee of the Freedom Forum’s Newseum and a member of the board of directors of the Greater Washington Boys and Girls Club, and America’s Promise — Alliance for Youth.

In 1995, the National Father’s Day Committee named him “Father of the Year,” Parents magazine honored him as “Dream Dad” in 1998, and in 2001 the National Fatherhood Initiative also recognized him as Father of the Year.

Irish America magazine named him one of the top 100 Irish Americans in the country, and he was selected as a Fellow of the Commission of European Communities.
Russert is survived by his wife, Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, and a son, Luke.

Check back soon for more on this breaking story.
© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blog Editor comment...6/8/2008

This is Icahn at the top of his game...corporate blackmail, extortion, nothing less at what he does best! Icahn complains about corporate governance...exactly the SAME things HE DID did while running TWA into the ground, sucking every last time from the company and its employees. Bottom line...a quick buck to add to his war chest. Icahn knows NOTHING about running a company. The proof is in his actions!

Icahn tells Yahoo to sell for $49.5B, or $34.375 a share
Jon Swartz, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn's latest salvo in his escalating war against Yahoo's (YHOO) board put a price tag on the embattled company and intensified pressure on Yahoo as it approaches its annual shareholders meeting.

In a scathing letter to Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock on Friday, Icahn said he wants Yahoo to tell Microsoft (MSFT) it's willing to be sold for $49.5 billion, about $2 billion above Microsoft's last offer for the Internet pioneer.

"Why don't you stop dancing around the subject and publicly offer to sell the company to Microsoft for $34.375 per share and promise to cooperate completely?" Icahn said in the strongly worded letter.

Yahoo said declaring an acceptable sales price for the company would be "ill-advised."
Microsoft declined comment. It withdrew an oral offer of $47.5 billion, or $33 a share, last month after Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang asked for $37 a share.

Icahn's letter was just the latest volley in an increasingly nasty campaign to force Yahoo's sale.
In a letter on Wednesday, Icahn made it clear he wants Yahoo's board replaced and Yang fired unless the company works out a deal with Microsoft before Yahoo's shareholders meeting Aug. 1.
Icahn, who carved a reputation as a ruthless corporate raider in the 1980s and reinvented himself as a shareholder activist in recent years, was particularly miffed by what he claimed was a provision by Yahoo that would add more than $2 billion to the cost of a takeover.
In his letter Wednesday, Icahn accused Yahoo's management and board of putting themselves ahead of their shareholders.

Some tech analysts say Icahn is merely softening up Yahoo in the weeks leading up to its shareholders meeting in San Jose. If Yahoo staves off Icahn, it faces a torrent of lawsuits from disgruntled shareholders, says Jonathan Yarmis, an analyst at AMR Research.
"I'll bet after the shareholders meeting — if there's no deal done — you'd have a hard time booking a hotel room in Wilmington, Del., as plaintiffs' lawyers line up to file their lawsuits," Yarmis says.

Ultimately, Icahn's end game is simple, Yarmis and others say.
"It's quick money. Nothing more, nothing less," Yarmis says. "(Icahn) has to make Yahoo think that the path of least risk is doing something large with, or selling to, Microsoft. I still don't think a deal for the whole enchilada is out of the question."

Yahoo shares inched up 8 cents to $26.44 in trading Friday. Microsoft shares slipped 81 cents to $27.49.

Friday, June 06, 2008

As Airlines Cut Back, Who Gets Grounded?

June 6, 2008
What do all these announcements of massive airline cutbacks mean for consumers? Higher fares.

By grounding planes and removing flights from schedules, airlines hope to limit the supply of seats in the skies and force people to pay more to fly. Planes are full now largely because airlines have to discount prices a lot in order to fill seats, especially in a weak economy. Airlines have been like automakers offering big discounts on SUVs and other vehicles piled up on dealership lots. At some point you have to stop making so many trucks if you can't sell them at a profit, and so airlines are shutting down their ``factories'' some – grounding airplanes and reducing the number of flights they offer for sale.

Despite more than a dozen ``fare increases,'' the fares that people actually are paying haven't yet gone up enough to come close to covering higher fuel costs for most airlines. In April, the most recent month reported, the average price people paid to fly one mile domestically was up only 4.3% over last year, according to the Air Transport Association. Fares likely were 7% to 8% higher in May than a year ago, according to some preliminary reports from airlines, but that's a far cry from paying for the 66% increase in the cost of fuel, which now amounts to about 40% of an airline's total costs.

Why? Because raising airfares isn't like raising the price of milk at the grocery store. Consumers have almost perfect information for price comparisons – the Internet can hunt the cheapest fare worldwide in seconds. If one carrier has some empty seats to fill, it will have to cut the price because getting something for that seat is better than flying it empty. And there's lots of competition in the industry – some airlines have lower cost structures than others, or better fuel hedges, and can absorb more of the higher costs than others.

Cutting the number of seats to sell is the only way to significantly raise prices. Not only can airlines raise ticket prices, but also they can sell fewer seats at discounted prices, and leave more seats in higher-priced fare ``buckets.'' Demand for seats will drop since there won't be as many cheap seats out there, but the planes that actually fly should generate more revenue. That's the only way for the industry to get back to profitability.

Continental Cuts Jobs, FleetSo which flights will get cut? Most of the cutting will come after the busy summer. Weak international routes are first to go, in general. The longer the trip the more fuel affects the profitability of the flight. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines already said it would end its daily service between New York and London's Stansted Airport, for example. AMR launched that flight in response to start-up business-class carriers using secondary London airports like Standsted. But high fuel costs and limited credit for airlines have already killed the London trans-Atlantic start-ups like Eos and Silverjet.

UAL Corp.'s United Airlines has erased its Los Angeles-Hong Kong flight from its schedule – San Francisco-Hong Kong flights do much better, and United can carry Los Angeles traffic over to San Francisco. Continental Airlines Inc. has been aggressively expanding internationally, and some routes have done better than others. Expect the weak ones to get suspended.

Domestically, airlines likely will thin schedules rather than abandon cities completely. Instead of five or six flights a day, they may cut back to four. Fewer seats will enable them to charge more.

But there's a cost to all this for airlines, too. Shrinking can raise the cost to operate each flight, on average, because lower-paid employees are the ones to get laid off and planes that sit often still need to be paid for, unless there's a bankruptcy filing or a way to sell them or turn them back to leasing companies. The aircraft market worldwide is strong, so many planes that U.S. airlines are grounding may well find new homes overseas.

In addition, all the cuts create opportunity for discount airlines that are still growing. Southwest Airlines Co. has historically been very opportunistic, filling in when bigger carriers cut. Southwest is expanding aggressively in Denver, for example. Frontier Airlines is already operating inside bankruptcy court protection, and United has said it will kill its ``Ted'' lower-cost airline-within-and-airline, which is based in Denver. Expect Southwest to continue its Rocky Mountain assault. That should provide travelers with different options, and even some lower-priced options.

In the end, airlines that can fly people at lower costs will gain in this financially challenging environment, and higher-cost carriers will continue to shrink. The staggering cost of oil may eventually bury a big carrier—they are very much in survival mode.

Former Continental CEO Gordon Bethune used to illustrate the challenges of running an airline with a joke: A bear is chasing two men, and one stops to put on running shoes. ``What are you doing? The shoes won't help you outrun the bear,'' the other man says.

``I don't have to outrun the bear,'' his friend responds. ``I just have to outrun you.''

The faster runners among airlines will continue to provide lots of service for consumers. It will just be at higher fares.

Write to Scott McCartney at