Saturday, September 27, 2008

Delta Shuttle’s First Class Option: Will it Be Worth It?

September 26, 2008, 4:55 pm
Posted by Matt Phillips

Starting Dec. 1, customers will have the option of choosing first or economy class on shuttle flights, as the airline tweaks its MD-88 shuttle fleet and reconfigures the planes to add a 14-seat first-class cabin in addition to 128 economy seats. The company’s press release isn’t overly detailed when it comes to describing exactly what the first-class fares on the shuttle will get you, saying only that passengers there “will enjoy an expanded selection of snack options, a more expansive offering of complimentary cocktails and wider, more comfortable seats.”

Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton tells us that it will cost between $100 and $250 more for a first-class shuttle seat, depending on the route. When we asked her for more details on what the first-class cabin would have she told us that passengers there will get free cocktails, in addition to the free beer and wine that will remain available to economy customers. We didn’t get much more info on exactly what kind of snacks would be considered suitable for first class. (Beluga maybe?)
On the internet front, the company had already announced back in August that it would roll out Wi-Fi access on its domestic fleet using Aircell’s Gogo service, which lets customers use Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops, smartphones and PDAs. It’ll cost $9.95 on all shuttle flights.

(Aircell is the outfit that began providing Wi-Fi on some American flights back in August.)

Airline consultant Stuart Klaskin tells the Terminal that he sees the addition of a first-class cabin to Delta’s shuttle service — US Airways also has a first-class cabin in its shuttle — as a smart move, suggesting that it could help generate incremental revenue for Delta and erase some advantages in comfort — bigger seats — and convenience (like constant access to internet and phone service) that might drive some travelers to take Amtrak.

Klaskin also says airlines see shuttle service as an opportunity to court a premium customer base — the lawyers, financial types and politicians who flitter between the three cities. So, offering a premium product tailored toward such passengers makes sense, he said. \

On the other hand, Delta hops between New York and Washington only last for a bit more than 80 minutes at the most. New York and Boston is about the same, while Washington to Boston can be a bit longer, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. So, those of you that frequent the congested East Coast corridor, what do you think?

Will Delta’s first-class shuttle service fly? And what do you think of Amtrak as an option for trips between New York and Washington, D.C.?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

U.S. Airlines Grounding 500+ Planes This Fall
Posted by Scott McCartney

JP Morgan tallied up all the U.S. aircraft on their way to the desert, to Russia or the Third World this fall, and it’s a rather staggering number. All told, U.S. airlines are grounding 512 airplanes. That happens to be the same number of passenger jets in Northwest Airlines Corp.’s entire fleet.
In essence, airlines are taking a carrier the size of Northwest out of the skies.

They are grounding about 10%-12% of U.S. capacity, which means fewer flight choices and higher fares for travelers. With the slow economy, there’s less demand for air travel. And continued high fuel prices mean carriers have to raise ticket prices to earn profits. But higher prices mean even less demand for tickets, so the only way for airlines to sustain those prices is to take seats off the market and ground planes.

At the end of 2007, U.S. airlines had 3,972 mainline jets in their fleets and 2,836 regional jets and turboprops, according to the Air Transport Association. The grounding of 281 mainline jets takes 7% of the total out of the skies. Regional jets suffer a bigger loss, with 11.4% of those small jets being grounded; so far, only 2.5% of turboprops will be retired, at least among the airlines who have reported fleet plans.

The loss of regional jets may be something to celebrate if you’re among those travelers who dislike the cramped quarters of 50-seat jets. But the disappearance of those jets is concerning for small communities that rely on those planes for air service.

Here’s a breakdown of reductions by carrier, courtesy of JP Morgan:

  • Continental: 67 mainline jets (737-300s and 737-500s); 64 regional jets

  • Delta: 15-20 mainline jets; 100 regional jets

  • United: 100 mainline jets (94 737s and six 747s)

  • American: 40 mainline jets (30 MD80s, 10 A300s); 37 regional jets and 26 turboprops

  • Northwest: 47 mainline jets (14 757s/A320s and 33 DC-9s)

  • US Airways: 12 mainline jets

  • JetBlue: four regional jets

A tally of all the U.S. aircraft on their way to retirement this fall turns out to be a rather staggering number. All told, U.S. airlines are grounding 512 airplanes. That’s the same number of passenger jets in Northwest Airlines Corp.’s entire fleet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UAL flight attendants avoid mandatory furloughs
Wednesday September 24, 4:40 pm ET

United Airlines: Volunteers will prevent forced flight attendants furloughs
CHICAGO (AP) -- Enough United Airlines flight attendants have volunteered for furloughs, making involuntary cuts unnecessary, the carrier said on Wednesday.

United aimed to shrink the cabin staff by 1,550, and all those spots were filled by volunteers who will keep benefits such as medical and free travel, according to a message from Alex Marren, United's senior vice president for onboard service.

The furloughs begin Nov. 1.

United is a unit of UAL Corp. and is the nation's second-largest airline. Like other carriers it has been shrinking the amount of flying it does in an effort to charge enough to cover fuel prices that have risen sharply since last year.
UAL shares closed down $1.45, or 12.3 percent, at $10.35.

Monday, September 22, 2008

American Tries to Turn the Corner On Late Bags and Arrivals

By TERRY MAXON / The Dallas Morning News

What's wrong with American Airlines?

The carrier, which in the 1980s called itself the On-Time Machine, hasn't earned that label for quite a long time.

American Airlines is adding more minutes to its flight and ground times in an effort to improve its arrival record. The carrier is also trying to improve its baggage handling and customer satisfaction after getting bad marks in performance. "

American Airlines is adding more minutes to its flight and ground times in an effort to improve its arrival record. The carrier is also trying to improve its baggage handling and customer satisfaction after getting bad marks in performance.

Over the past year, American has ranked last in on-time arrivals among all U.S. carriers that report performance numbers to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has performed worse than the industry average for 20 straight months.

The carrier consistently ranks low among its peers in customer satisfaction. It mishandles a greater share of its baggage than the industry average. It has been at the top of the industry in numbers of canceled flights.

What's going on here?

American is taking drastic steps to rejigger its schedule and beef up its operations this fall to improve the dependability of its flights, if not their speed. Early results in August and September have been promising.

But executives freely, though glumly, acknowledge how poorly American has done.
"There's really no excuse for our performance of late," says Bob Cordes, American Airlines Inc. vice president of operations planning and performance. "It really hasn't been up to snuff."
"No excuses," adds Mark Mitchell, American's managing director of customer experience. "I do believe from a leadership perspective, we've learned along the way and we're committed to regaining American's position."

Among the indicators of American's problems:

•It finished last among 19 U.S. carriers in on-time arrivals for four straight months between March and June, before improving to 16th in July – its highest finish in nine months.

•Its on-time marks have been beneath the industry average every month since December 2006.

•For the 12 months ending July 31, American was last among all carriers in on-time flights, with only 67.5 percent arriving within 14 minutes of schedule. That was 6.7 percentage points worse than the industry average of 74.2 percent.

•Among the 10 largest carriers, American ranked second-worst in the rate of lost-bag complaints for the year ending July 31, ahead of only Delta Air Lines Inc.

•It has had the third-highest rate of flight cancellations through the first seven months of 2008, ahead of only two regional carriers, Mesa Air Group Inc. and American's own partner, American Eagle. Even excluding about 3,300 flights canceled in a maintenance inspection in April, American still ranked near the bottom.

St. Louis University professor Brent D. Bowen, who co-authors the annual Airline Quality Rating Index, said that customers absolutely care whether their flights operate on time.
"It's the top indicator for air travel consumers," said Dr. Bowen, chairman of the aviation science department at the university's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.

In his survey of more than 5,000 frequent travelers this year, 48 percent rated on-time flights as the most important factor when they fly. Next were customer service at 24 percent and on-time bag arrival at 23 percent, he said.

As airlines are taking away free meals and snacks and other amenities, "about the only thing left for people to expect is on-time service. The bad news is they know it's not going to be good."

Operational nightmare

Until fairly recently, American tended to finish around the middle of the pack, with its on-time numbers not far off the industry average.

A massive operational nightmare on Dec. 29, 2006, drew attention to American, when tens of thousands of passengers were delayed for hours – in some cases days – by a daylong thunderstorm that hung over North Texas and American's hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

In the wake of sharp criticism, American officials pledged to do better at handling weather disruptions and other problems. But December 2006 seems to have marked the beginning of a long period of subpar operational performance by the Fort Worth-based carrier.

Month after month, American blamed extraordinarily bad weather, air traffic control snarls or unusual events such as the safety inspections it undertook under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration in April.

But there has seemed to be no respite from the "special" months; other airlines that were flying in the same weather with the same air traffic controllers have consistently beaten American's record.

American believes that the answer is to add time to its schedule, both on the length of the average flight and the length of stops on the ground. It is taking other steps as well, but the added schedule time represents the thrust of American's attempt to return to an acceptable on-time record.

The changes won't speed up flights. But the added time increases the cushion for dealing with problems.

Mr. Cordes said 2006 was a pretty good year for flying weather, notwithstanding the Dec. 29 debacle. Schedule planners expected – or hoped for – the same in 2007.
"I think it went back to a sense of operational optimism," he said. " 'Oh,' we just thought, 'the weather will get better. The storms will go away.' "
When 2007 turned out to be bad, planners thought 2008 would be better. Until July, it hasn't been.

Since the start of 2007, American has recorded four of its top 10 days for flight diversions, when weather has forced the airline to land planes at airports other than their intended destination.
"It sounds like rationalization," Mr. Cordes said. "But the fact of the matter is we've been dealing with these weird weather events for a year and a half."

Schedule changes

The carrier built more time into the schedule in September and will do so again in November, implementing the lessons the airline learned earlier in 2008, he said.

"Unfortunately, the lag time is a good six to nine months from the time you analyze it and say we're going to have to invest in this because things are not changing," Mr. Cordes said.
For an example of how the schedule changes will work, consider American's Flight 743, an afternoon nonstop flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to LaGuardia in New York.

Until Sept. 2, American scheduled the flight to take 3 ¾ hours from gate to gate. On Sept. 3, the time was increased by five minutes. On Nov. 2, it'll go up another 25 minutes, to 4 ¼ hours.
The schedule changes will affect both the time airplanes are supposed to be in the air and on the ground.

With the changes, American's McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, the mainstay of its fleet, will spend at least 45 minutes on the ground, up from 40 minutes.

The Boeing 737-800s are now scheduled to be on the ground at least 50 minutes, up from 40 minutes.

In recognition that much of American's delays start or end in the New York area, American is adding another 10 minutes to those ground times for flights arriving at New York's LaGuardia Airport after 2 p.m. It is adding 10 minutes to flights arriving at Newark after 3 p.m.
And in San Francisco, where fog is often a problem, American is adding 10 minutes to morning arrivals, Mr. Cordes said.

Ground crews will be scheduled for 20 minutes between flights rather than 10, to make sure that flights have adequate staffing for bag handling and other servicing, he said.
American used to staff spare gates at D/FW Airport so it could respond quickly if extra flights arrived or a gate was occupied by an airplane with mechanical problems. It ended that practice several years ago, but this month it began staffing four or five spare gates to better handle disruptions, Mr. Cordes said.

Union factor

Whether coincidence or not, the airline's on-time problems have grown as it has entered negotiations with its three major unions: the Allied Pilots Association in summer 2006, the Transport Workers Union in fall 2007 and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants this summer.

Mr. Cordes and Mr. Mitchell said they don't think morale issues or employee problems have contributed much – if at all – to operational problems for American. Mr. Mitchell noted that the number of teams working to improve the airline's customer service has grown over the past year.

Laura Glading, president of the flight attendants' union, said there is a link between employee morale and customer service, particularly as the airline has cut staffing and onboard amenities.
However, "the flight attendants are doing an incredibly stellar job, without the tools, to try to make lemonade out of lemons," she said.

The Allied Pilots Association has been increasingly critical of the airline's management, blaming it for the delays, cancellations and other problems.

Bill Haug, secretary-treasurer of the pilots' union, noted that the airline's performance has declined since employees took big concessions in pay, benefits and working conditions in 2003.
Along with the concessions, American created an "annual incentive plan" to reward employees for finishing high in the U.S. Department of Transportation's rankings of on-time arrivals, baggage handling and other areas.

Despite the incentive plan, he said, "we have not improved one bit. ... You can sit and theorize all you want [about the reasons]. But there's no question whose responsibility it is. It's theirs."
Without directing comments specifically to American, Dr. Bowen said that a lack of cooperation among different groups and with management leads to poor on-time performance.

"After everything bad that has been happening to airline employees over these past eight years, how do you expect them to happily cooperate?" he said. "That's the management challenge. If you have a happy workforce in an airline, you'll have a well-performing airline

Monday, September 15, 2008

Flying the Unfriendly Skies
New York Times
Published: September 14, 2008

IT is a typical day for the flight attendants aboard American Airlines Flight 710, a 737-800 headed from Dallas to New York with a scheduled departure time of 9:05 a.m. As Debbie Nicks, 56, works in the first-class galley, brewing coffee and hanging up passengers’ jackets, she glances down the jetway and notices a crush of people at the gate. An earlier flight to New York has been canceled, and people from that flight are desperate to get on this one.

It is a familiar scene these days, what with many planes flying at near capacity, and so Debbie just continues her regular routine, making the announcement to passengers onboard that they should make sure all carry-on luggage is stored either in the overhead bin or below the seat in front of them.Back in coach, Anna Wallace McCrummen, 45, organizes the cart of drinks and food for sale that would later be pushed down the narrow aisle, then takes a blue rubber mallet to whack a bag of ice cubes that had frozen into a solid block.

She hits it over and over again, perhaps a little too keenly, as the sound — thwop, thwop, thwop — echoes off the walls of the small galley.Meanwhile, in the main cabin, Jane Marshall, 50, walks down the aisle, checking to make sure people are finding their correct seats, keeping an eye out for passengers who have sneaked on luggage that she knows won’t fit in the overhead space and trying to defuse any tense situations before they escalate into crises. But perhaps it is already too late.

Two women who have been double-booked stand sulking in the aisle, wheelie bags firmly planted by their sides, signaling that they are not about to budge.“What a mess,” mutters Jane once the double-booked women have been found seats and the line of stand-by passengers is turned away from the gate.

Only then, after every seat is taken, overhead bins shut, electronic devices stored and seatbelt sign on, do the three women finally settle in to their jump seats for one of the few moments of respite during their workday. Over the next 11 hours, they will fly from Dallas to New York and back again, a routine that is clearly second nature to them. In all, the three represent nearly 70 years of flight attendant experience.And today I am one of them.In a behind-the-scenes look at the other side of air travel, I donned a navy suit and starched white shirt earlier this summer and became a flight attendant for two days.

With the cooperation of American Airlines, I first went to flight attendant training school at the company’s Flagship University in Fort Worth, Tex., where I learned what to do in an onboard emergency, from how to open an emergency exit window on a 777 aircraft (it’s heavier than you may think) to operating a defibrillator (there are pictures to help you get the pads in the right place). I then flew three legs in two days: a round-trip journey between Dallas and New York, and then back to New York the next day.

And though the other flight attendants knew I was a ringer, the passengers did not. Thus I got a crash course in what airline personnel have to put up with these days — and, after just one day on the job, began to wonder why the phrase “air rage” is only applied to passengers. Believe me, there were a few people along the way, like the demanding guy in first class who kept barking out drink orders as the flight progressed (until he finally passed out), whom I would have been more than happy to show to the exit, particularly when we were 35,000 feet in the air.

WHAT’S it like to be a flight attendant these days? That’s what I’ve often found myself wondering as I sit in my seat, waiting impatiently as yet another flight is delayed and my connection threatened, while around me are passengers fighting with each other over the lack of space in the shared bin, or complaining about having been bumped from an earlier flight, or swearing “never again” to fly this specific airline because they have been stuck in a middle seat even though they booked their ticket six months ago.Is there a less-enviable, more-stressful occupation these days than that of a flight attendant?

Just the look on their faces as they walk down the aisle — telling passengers that no matter how many times they try to squeeze them in, their suitcases are not going to fit into the overhead bin, or explaining yet again that they will not get a single morsel of decent food on this three-hour flight — tells you all you need to know of their misery.

It was a feeling that was reinforced when I glanced at an Internet chat board for flight attendants,, and came across postings like this: “I’ve been a flight attendant for 6yrs now, and I can tell you this much - if I’m still a flight attendant in 20yrs, I’ll be a raging b*tch!” It wasn’t always this way, of course. Back in 1967, the best-selling book “Coffee, Tea or Me?” (subtitled “The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses”) portrayed life in the air as a nonstop party, one to which the authors felt privileged to be invited.

Another 60s artifact, the play “Boeing, Boeing,” recently revived on Broadway in a Tony Award-winning production, also pictured the life of stewardesses (as they were called then) as a glamorous romp, with suitors in every port. Most recently, the fictional ad executives on “Mad Men” were thrilled when they were asked to compete for an airline account, not only because of the business it would bring in but also because they would be in on the casting sessions for the stewardesses and would get to fly free.

Oh, such fun!It’s a fair bet that nothing about air travel today would inspire such rapture.In fact, the flight attendants I spent time with on my three flights took a grimly realistic view of their jobs, aware that temper flare-ups — “People just get nasty,” said Jane Marshall — are in some ways an understandable reaction to the process that passengers themselves have to endure in trying to get from one place to another.

“After they’ve been harassed by security, we’re the ones they see,” said Debbie Nicks, explaining why a minor inconvenience, like being told that there are no more headsets, might send someone into a fit. “Your shining personality only goes so far,” added Jane. Certainly the one lesson I learned quickly — along with how to cross-check the doors and that Dansko clogs are the footwear of choice among experienced flight attendants — was how to say “no” politely. No to the young Indian man who asked for a blanket for his mother who was shivering in her sari next to him. (There were none left.)

No to the hungry passenger who wanted to purchase a cookie. (We had already sold the only two stocked for the flight.) No to the guy who, like many of his fellow passengers, was concerned he wouldn’t make his connecting flight because of our late departure and pleaded, “Can you call and find out?” (Sorry, but here’s the customer service number you can try when we land.)I also got a crash course in stress management.

My return flight out of La Guardia was as packed as the morning one out of Dallas, and the passengers were even crankier. The plane was supposed to take off at 4:25 p.m., but at 5, passengers were still boarding, with many already anxious about whether they would make their connecting flights.

Meanwhile, two commuting flight attendants came aboard to ride in the jump seats. Jennifer Villavicencio, 35, a mother of two from Maryland, had been up since 5 a.m. working a four-leg trip — New York to Chicago, Chicago to St. Louis, St. Louis to Chicago, Chicago to New York. As a newer flight attendant on “reserve,” she largely works on call. She spends days at a time away from her children, sometimes leaving them with her mother in Dallas, while she works out of New York.

In between shifts, Jennifer shares a four-bedroom crash pad in Queens with other flight attendants. She sleeps in a so-called hot bed, bringing her own sheets and grabbing whichever of the 26 bunks is available when she arrives. “I like the top bunk,” she said, “because you can sit up all the way.”Our chat was interrupted by some news from the gate agent: The plane might be shifted to another runway. “Oh, good, more drama,” said Anna, explaining to me what was about to happen.

“When it’s midsummer and it’s hot, and the runways are short, you can’t have a certain heaviness or you can’t take off. Because we’re switching runways they’re going to put a weight restriction on and they’re going to pull people off because of the weight.”Jennifer sprang to attention. As a commuter, she knew her seat would be among the first to go if the flight was deemed too heavy for the new runway.

She began counting the number of children onboard, a factor that could immediately minimize the weight issue, if there were enough of them. Thankfully, there were 11 — enough to save other passengers from being taken off. At 5:49 p.m., the plane finally took off, more than an hour late. I had been told that working first class was harder than coach, and so I joined Debbie at the front of the plane.

When I arrived, Debbie had already taken down the passengers’ drink orders, her neat handwriting listing 3A - BMary, B - RW, E -Vodka tonic, etc., on a pink cheat sheet posted on a cabinet. She warned me that Passenger 4B, a heavy-set young man with an iPod, was already proving to be a handful. He had taken some sort of painkiller for a bandaged wrist when he boarded, immediately followed by a Jack and Coke, followed by a Heineken, and now wanted a glass of wine, not in one of those standard-issue wine glasses, but in a fat cocktail glass instead.

I recalled what one flight attendant had told me when I asked about what they do when it looks like a passenger is having too much to drink: Water it down. In coach, where travelers mix the drinks themselves, some attendants invent their own rules — “I can only sell you one drink an hour.”First class was intimidating.

And I, frankly, wasn’t much help, finding all I was really qualified to do was hand out and collect the hot towels. Debbie, however, performed a series of in-flight culinary maneuvers so demanding it inspired a challenge on the Bravo television series “Top Chef”: Prepare an edible, multicourse meal, mid-air, in a narrow hallway, between two ovens at 275 degrees and a hot coffee maker.

As the flight wore on, Passenger 4B finally dozed off; dessert was served and the flight attendants became weary. Jennifer, who wasn’t even on duty, had taken pity on a mother with a screaming child and was walking him up and down the aisle on her hip. Later, she would occupy a toddler by letting him hold the other end of the trash bag as she collected garbage from passengers.

The flight arrived in Dallas at 8:02 p.m., 52 minutes late. Debbie, Jane and Anna would be paid for the actual flight time of roughly eight hours for the two legs of the round-trip journey. They would also receive a per diem of $1.50 for every hour they were away on the trip. (For certain delays, American said its flight attendants receive an extra $15 per hour, pro-rated to the actual time, minus a 30-minute grace period.) Flight attendants’ schedules are often wrecked by delays and as the airline industry went into its steep downturn after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, many airline workers took significant pay cuts and reduced benefits in order to help the carriers stay in business.

There are roughly 100,000 flight attendants in the United States, according to the Association of Flight Attendants, down from about 125,000 in 2000. Depending on the airline, attendants earn between 7 and 20 percent less today than before 9/11, according to the association. The average flight attendant salary today is around $33,500 a year.

There are already fewer attendants working each flight. Most carriers now go by the minimum number required by the Federal Aviation Administration — one flight attendant per every 50 passengers. And though the benefits, like free flights for your entire family, still exist on paper, they are hard to claim as airlines continue to pack planes full of paying passengers. In other words, it’s not much fun anymore.

Certainly, it’s a far cry from the “Coffee, Tea or Me” years. “Who would have thought, after 30 years, that we’d be a flying 7-Eleven,” Becky Gilbert, a three-decade veteran of the industry told me during a break in our training session in Fort Worth. “You know, I mean we used to serve omelets and crepes for breakfast, and now it’s ‘Would you like to buy stackable chips or a big chocolate chip cookie for $3?’ ”When Anna, Jane and Debbie became flight attendants more than 20 years ago, tedious chores, like collecting passenger trash, were offset by the perks and quasi-celebrity status that came with the job.

“When you walked down the terminal, all the people would look at you,” said Jane, between bites of pizza on a lunch break at La Guardia, her back turned to a group of travelers paying no mind to her navy blue suit, her gold wings or the black roller bag by her side. “People used to,” continued Debbie, a well-groomed flight attendant with cropped gray hair and gold accessories who can finish Jane’s sentences after 23 years of flying together. “What girl didn’t want to be a stewardess?”

It was the layover in the old days that made it glamorous,” Anna explained. “You worked one leg to San Diego and you were sitting on a beach, margarita in your hand, and you were going, ‘I’m getting paid to sit here.’ That was the old days. Now, we’re like crawling into bed thinking, ‘I hope my alarm goes off.’ ” Luckily, the next morning at 4, mine did. Running on no more than five hours of sleep and no coffee, as the hotel takeout stand had yet to open, I caught the five o’clock hotel shuttle to the airport. After stumbling through security I arrived at the gate, an hour before departure, as required — bleary-eyed and beat. When I met the crew I would be working with, a jovial bunch who often fly together, I warned them that I might be useless. They could empathize.

David Macdonald, 51, an American flight attendant for 28 years, was on his fourth straight day of flying. Elaine Sweeney, 55, who has worked for American for 30 years, was on her third day. And Tim Rankin, 56, a 32-year veteran, was on his third flight in 24 hours. Standing in the aisle of the cramped MD-80, Elaine assured me that the passengers, mostly business travelers, would be relatively well-behaved. “It’s so early on this one,” she said, “that usually half of them go to sleep.” As with the flight attendants I worked with earlier, my new companions described their job as being one where they constantly had to calibrate the mood of the passengers. “Over a typical month,” said Tim, “I will be a teacher, I will be a pastor, I will be a counselor, I will be a mediator.”

As he slid his 5-foot-11-inch frame into the sliver of space between the cockpit and the first-class bathroom, he slumped into the jump seat and let out a barely audible sigh. “I’ll have to tell people that a two-and-a-half-foot-deep bag will not fit in a one-and-a-half-foot hole,” he said.“People need to understand that the rules of social order do not go away when you get on an airplane,” Tim added, his Texan twang kicking up a notch as he laid down his commandments. “You cannot have sex on an airplane. When you purchase a ticket, that does not give you the privilege of yelling at me. It does not give you the privilege of sitting anywhere you want to sit. They assign you a seat.

I do not have an extra airplane in my pocket if my flight’s delayed.”Elaine chimed in, “We joke that people check their brain when they board.” When we landed in New York at 11:04 a.m., I was wiped. Standing for the majority of the flight, which included a brief bout of turbulence, had unsettled my stomach and caused me to lose my appetite. My feet hurt. I had lost all feeling in my pinkie toes. Before we disembarked, Tim, in a touching gesture, ceremoniously gave me his gold wings. I then dragged myself through the terminal, past a throng of restless passengers gathered around the gate, anxiously waiting to board the plane.I was glad I was heading home.

American Airlines, pilots at odds over taxiing incident
Sep 09, 2008
Terry Maxon

In May, a management pilot at American Airlines was taxiing his airplane behind that of a pilot at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and decided the Los Angeles-based pilot was deliberately taxiing too slow.

As a result, the pilot in front has been suspended 15 days without pay, and the pilots' union, the Allied Pilots Association, is all in an uproar.

An American spokeswoman Tuesday defended the disciplinary action, but the incident has union officials yelling foul.

"The facts are undeniable," the Miami-based APA officers told their members in an email. "The resolution of this incident by a morally devoid Flight Management team should send a chill down everyone's spine."

"In my 30 years of employment with American Airlines I have never witnessed anything so blatantly ridiculous," the Chicago-based APA officers wrote, adding: "Make sure everyone you know has the opportunity to read and understand just how low our once great airline has fallen and to what extent the management of American Airlines will go to disparage and belittle it's employees."

The St. Louis union officers wrote that the incident "shows you the depth of poor labor relations here at AA and the lack of moderation on the part of the company when it deals with its pilots."
For details, keep reading.

First, American spokeswoman Tami McLallen didn't discuss the particulars, but sent this statement:
As you know, we take safety issues very seriously. Saying it is our number one priority isn't just an empty slogan, it's what we focus on each and every day. So when we see actions that we believe may compromise safety, it's our responsibility to investigate and take corrective action if needed.

As this is an internal personnel matter, we won't comment on the specifics, however in a message to pilots yesterday, Vice President-Flight Mark Hettermann said "Typically, the flight department doesn't comment on disciplinary cases. Proper protocol dictates that this matter remains as private as possible between the pilot and his manager. While we disagree with the APA's decision to publically discuss the details of this case, it's especially disappointing that they haven't provided full disclosure of the facts."And here's the long explanation from the Los Angeles-based union leadership:

By now you have probably heard of the incident in DFW on May 30th that involved one of our LAX-based pilots was accused by Captain Jeff Osborne (Managing Director of Flight -System) of taxiing too slow across a runway. Captain Osborne (B737) was clearing runway 18L behind our LAX Captain (S80) and Captain Osborne felt that our LAX Captain did not clear the runway fast enough. For some unknown reason Captain Osborne was very concerned for his own safety even though he was crossing a departure runway for which no other aircraft had been cleared to take-off or land.

Captain Osborne was so concerned about this incident that he used his cell phone while actively taxiing his aircraft (in violation of both Federal Aviation Regulations and Flight Manual Part 1) to contact SOC and have our Captain removed from the trip.

Captain Osborne later directed LAX Director of Flight Captain Bob Bush to conduct a Section 21 hearing regarding the incident. Our LAX based Captain was placed on "Paid Withheld" status (PW) for three months while the LAX Flight Office conducted the investigation demanded by Captain Osborne.

The Investigation
Upon first receiving the directive from Captain Osborne to conduct a Section 21 hearing, Captain Bush conducted an investigation and found no cause to pursue the issue. Captain Bush actually called the LAX Captain and apologized for even bringing this up, but explained that Captain Osborne was insisting on a Section 21 hearing regardless of the facts.

Two separate hearings were held, and in both cases there was no documentation or charges ever produced from the FAA, DFW Tower, or DFW Ground. Based upon this fact alone we can clearly see that the only one who had a problem with this situation was Captain Osborne.

The only evidence that we had been given was:

The written statement of Captain Osborne claiming "a blatant disregard for flight safety" and an intent "to cause an inconvenience to our local and connecting customers, intentionally disrupt our operation, and harm our company" An audio recording of the DFW tower frequency in which no safety problem is noted by the Tower controllers A video of the ramp arrival of the LAX flight which shows only normal ramp traffic A statement from an AA Ground School Instructor who was jump-seating on Osborne's flight, a statement which was dated two months after the incident. This statement notes that Captain Osborne's aircraft was on runway 18L for only a "few seconds", and that upon arriving at the ramp, Captain Osborne then encountered a long delay because his gate was occupied.

The Verdict
During and after both hearings that we conducted, Captain Bush stated several times "I can not find anything here...there is no reason to discipline...this was ops normal" and proceeded to communicate this to Captain Osborne, but Captain Osborne was not going to allow this to pass without some sort of punishment for his perceptions.
As a result of this Kangaroo Court our LAX Captain has been given 15 days off with no pay, based solely upon Captain Osborne's statement and a Ground School Instructor's letter dated 2 months after the incident.

The Double Standard
There has been no action initiated by the FAA against our LAX pilot, and no reports on this incident were ever received from either the DFW Tower or DFW Ground Control. Captain Osborne insisted on discipline even after he was told repeatedly that the Section 21 hearings were showing no evidence that supported his claims. Captain Osborne uses his cell phone while taxing an airplane (in violation of FARs and AA company policy) and our LAX Captain gets 15 days off without pay. Rest assured that the FAA was notified of Captain Osborne's cell phone use.

At this point we don't know what is more disgusting to us--that Captain Osborne insisted on punishing this pilot regardless of the facts, or that Captain Bush has issued the letter of discipline after apologizing initially and then stating several times in hearings that "I cannot find anything here...there is no reason to discipline...this was ops normal".

What This Means to You
We can only conclude after sitting through this whole joke of a process that our pilots are in jeopardy simply for coming in contact with the Chief Pilots, and that you should avoid any conversation with them except that which is absolutely essential to your duties. Idle chitchat with the Chiefs should be avoided, because anything you say to them can be used against you or another pilot in a disciplinary hearing.
If asked to engage in conversations politely inform them that your Union speaks for you.
As for Captain Osborne we would imagine his "do not pair with" list is growing by the minute in DFW.

One Final Note
This is not the airline of days of old when your Chief Pilot is sometimes your advocate and could solve minor issues without interference from DFW Flt. Dept. management. In this day and age, all the Chief pilots are just messengers with rubber stamps. Employee Relations writes the Hearing Notices, and Captains Osborne and/or Hettermann determine the results of hearings in advance. We cannot understand why under these circumstances anyone would want to be a Chief pilot, or why they have not all quit under this current VP of Flight.

APA will fight for this Captain with all of the resources we have. All of us need to stand behind this Captain and stop this abuse. We have seen this management team assault our contract, and compromise our safety time and time again. Enough is enough!

Friday, September 12, 2008

American Airlines says it won't furlough more pilots
10:59 PM CDT
on Friday, September 12, 2008

By TERRY MAXON / The Dallas Morning News

It looks like American Airlines Inc. pilots will escape the massive layoffs sweeping through the airline this year.

American had warned the Allied Pilots Association in July that it expected to furlough 200 pilots in October as part of plans to cut flying capacity 7 to 8 percent before the end of the year.

But in a message to pilots, vice president of flight Mark Hettermann said the number of pilots on board is dropping because of the airline's decision to stop recalling pilots in June, as well as early retirements, military and personal leaves and pilots going through retraining as American grounds its aging McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and Airbus A300s.

Those factors have "left us very close to the pilot staffing needed to fly our projected 2009 summer schedule," Mr. Hettermann told pilots.

American spokeswoman Tami McLallen called the decision "very good news, and it underscores the importance of improving our operation's flexibility so that we can react quickly in the current volatile market."

Union's hopes
APA spokesman Karl Schricker said union officials "hope this is a signal that AA will resume recalling our furloughees and begin to man the airline rationally."

The union represents about 9,000 active pilots, with nearly 2,000 more pilots currently on furlough.

Agreement lacking

One reason American may have decided to avoid furloughs is that it had not worked out an agreement with the union for voluntary early departures, as it had with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Transport Workers Union.

After American proposed incentives to get senior pilots to retire earlier, the union responded with a proposal to limit the hours that pilots would fly each month as a way to keep more pilots on the payroll, as well as the retirement incentives.

The carrier has targeted a cut of 6,500 to 7,000 positions throughout the company as it shrinks to fit its new flying schedule.

The reductions are still going on in most work groups, although American imposed the cuts on flight attendants at the end of August.

Most U.S. carriers have halted growth or announced plans to shrink in the second half of 2008, a reaction to a historic rise in jet fuel prices.

While fuel costs are going down as crude oil retreats to around $100 a barrel, airlines are going through with the capacity reductions.

Alaska Air Group Inc. announced Friday that it plans to shrink the available seat miles it operates by 8 percent in 2009, including a 15 percent reduction in flights, and will be eliminating 850 to 1,000 jobs.

It also said it plans job cuts and a 10 percent capacity cut at its Horizon Air subsidiary

European Airline XL Folds, Stranding Thousands of Travelers
September 12, 2008, 12:10 pm
Posted by Matt Phillips

Passengers pass an XL Airways advert at Gatwick Airport in London Friday.
It’s been a bad day for some British holidaymakers.

European budget carrier and holiday operator XL Leisure Group became the latest casualty of high fuel prices and the downturn in consumer spending, when it fell into administration today — that’s British for bankruptcy — and canceled all flights.

Agence France Presse pegs the number of stranded passengers at 85,000 worldwide. Dow Jones puts it at 67,000. The Daily Mail puts that figure at 100,000, mainly in the US, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

XL’s collapse follows the recent failure of other foreign airlines. Early this week Spain’s Futura International filed for bankruptcy-like protections and last month Zoom Airlines, a Canadian carrier, was shuttered.

Stateside, airlines have had their fair share of problems over the last few years. But even when they invoke bankruptcy protections — as Delta, Northwest and United parent UAL all did earlier this decade — they managed to keep operating and avoid the widespread stranding of passengers.

But if flights did come to a shuddering halt, as Skybus and Aloha Airlines did in recent months, this column by Scott McCartney reminds travelers that the same high costs hammering some airlines into Chapter 11 also make solvent carriers more reluctant to take on stranded ticket holders.

McCartney writes:
That is a big change for consumers. They used to be able to buy tickets on struggling airlines with reasonable expectations that either the airline would keep flying if it went bankrupt, or other airlines would honor tickets for a small fee. Now, consumers need to be far more careful in picking airlines, especially for tickets bought months in advance.

For those who have been caught up in the XL situation, the British Civil Aviation Authority — sort of similar to the FAA — is working with other tourism companies and airlines to arrange flights back to Britain, according to the Guardian.

(The left-leaning British paper also has a pretty good video on the subject, here.) American travelers, would you expect the FAA to step in and help handle mass strandings of Americans abroad if a well-known carrier went belly-up?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pilot Fatigue Spurs Calls for New Safeguards

September 12, 2008

Safety experts and regulators have long been concerned about the dangers of exhausted, overworked or downright sleepy pilots. But the problem is intensifying as financially strapped airlines try to squeeze more productivity out of pilots, who by most measures are logging more hours per month and flying more grueling schedules than at any time since 2001.

Many big airlines with new labor contracts bargained in bankruptcy -- or under threat of it -- have many pilots flying up to an extra 10 or 15 hours each month, closer to the 100-hour maximum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. That's in addition to layovers and time spent on ground duties.

Flight schedules that look manageable on paper often don't account for storms, air-traffic congestion or other potential delays that can make a long work day longer. In July, according to the latest government statistics, 19 U.S. airlines saw one quarter of all their flights, on average, arrive late by more than 15 minutes.

And pilots say certain airlines schedule flight times at or just under eight hours -- the FAA-mandated limit that a pilot can be behind the controls per day -- on trans-Atlantic routes that regularly run longer, so they don't have to pay for an extra pilot.

Now, pilots and safety experts are stepping up pressure on the FAA to rewrite rest and scheduling regulations that basically haven't been updated since the 1960s. Critics say the rules don't reflect the current flying reality, and are based on outdated science that ignores the latest sleep research showing the cumulative impact of inadequate rest. At a hearing earlier this year, several National Transportation Safety Board members and staffers expressed concern that the U.S. was in danger of falling behind other countries in combating pilot fatigue.

Emergency crews surround a Delta commuter plane after it slid off a runway in Cleveland in February 2007. After working more than 12 hours in a row -- inside and out of the cockpit -- error rates shoot up, complacency increases and communications become impaired, says Peter Demitry, a former test pilot and fatigue expert who consults for pilot groups. One symptom of fatigue that scientists are now studying is "micro sleep," when pilots become unresponsive for a few seconds or a minute, though their eyes are open.

The NTSB identifies tired pilots as one of its 10 "Most Wanted" safety improvements, linking at least 10 U.S. airliner accidents and 260 fatalities to fatigue since 1990. Hundreds more close calls have been reported to pilot unions and confidential federal safety databases over the years. Fatigue-related mistakes have included pilots forgetting to extend flaps before takeoff, inadvertently shutting down engines in midair, and losing track of a plane's position on final approach. In several cases, crew members have nodded off at the controls.

Airline officials say their own internal programs help counter fatigue and allow pilots to stop flying if they feel unsafe. And overall, jetliner accidents in the U.S. are at historically low levels, with the last crash of a wide-body jet occurring nearly seven years ago. New rules "have to be based on conclusive research, not anecdotal evidence," says David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade group for major carriers. "You shouldn't change regulations simply because there are times airplanes run late" and pilots end up working longer than anticipated.

But critics say new regulations are necessary to prevent incidents like one that unfolded in February. A flight operated by commuter carrier Go!, en route from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, encountered a serious problem as it flew over Maui: Both pilots were fast asleep.

Cruising at 21,000 feet with 40 passengers aboard a Bombardier regional jet shortly before 10 a.m., the pilots for 18 minutes failed to respond to frantic calls from air-traffic controllers. The jet overshot its destination, crossed the big island of Hawaii and headed southeast over the Pacific. After traveling 26 nautical miles beyond its destination, the flight crew finally responded, reversed course and landed safely, according to the NTSB.

No official report has yet been released on the incident. In a letter urging the FAA and the airlines to more closely monitor pilot fatigue, the safety board said the pilots, who had been on duty four and a half hours that morning, "were on the third day of a trip schedule that involved repeated early start times and demanding sequences of numerous short flight segments." The letter concluded the pilots -- who no longer work for the airline -- "unintentionally fell asleep."
Go!, a division of
Mesa Air Group Inc., is cooperating with the safety board's investigation. The company declined to comment on the incident, and hasn't identified the two pilots.

Pretending to Sleep

Pilots say short commuter hops are often more tiring than long hauls. Schedules can entail half a dozen legs in a single day, sometimes requiring planes to go up and down in storms that aircraft on longer routes are able to avoid. Since many commuter flights shuttle between hubs and outlying airports, they tend to run late and start early. That means crews can end up with short layovers in the middle of the night.

The routine can become "take a shower, brush your teeth, pretend you slept," says Tom Wychor, an 18-year veteran of Mesaba Aviation Inc., a wholly owned regional unit of Northwest Airlines Corp. Mr. Wychor recalls, in the early 1990s, nodding off on approach to the Houghton, Mich., airport in snow and fog.

"I was bathed in sweat and scared to death," when the runway suddenly appeared, he says. Mr. Wychor had started early three days in a row, and flown numerous 15-minute hops between Houghton and Marquette, Mich. Mesaba declined to comment for this article.

When Mesa pilots reach a destination late at night, they often want to nap before climbing back into the cockpit for an early morning departure. But for crews on the ground four hours or less, Mesa won't pay for hotel rooms.

'Camping Trip'

Pilots "call it a 'camping trip,'" says Kevin Wilson, a captain and union chief for the 1,400 pilots at Mesa, which flies for UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. He says pilots will sometimes curl up on a chair in the terminal "or sleep on the plane; I've done it once myself." The same crews then fly up to three more legs before calling it quits and getting their mandatory rest period.

Such punishing schedules are legal under FAA regulations. Michael Lotz, Mesa's president and chief operating officer, says the carrier complies with all collective-bargaining agreements, and its pilots can be scheduled to fly "as many legs" as the FAA allows.

"I've heard anecdotal stories" of pilots sleeping on planes between flights, he says. "We don't track that." With this segment growing -- regional airlines now carry one in four U.S. passengers and operate half the country's scheduled flights -- fatigue issues are coming into the spotlight. Peggy Gilligan, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for safety, recently suggested the most taxing commuter airline schedules may be reassessed. "This may be another area where we need to pay more attention," she said in an interview. Years ago, the agency pledged to establish a single level of safety for large and small airliners.

Airlines say they'd prefer to negotiate with their unions to set acceptable work limits rather than having Washington-imposed solutions. Fatigue "isn't a tremendous issue" for the 2,000 pilots at Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which owns three commuter carriers, according to Wayne Heller, chief operating officer, adding that the airline's work rules are stricter than the FAA's. "If we have fatigue," he says, "it's due to unplanned circumstances" outside the company's control.

The FAA, reluctant to impose additional financial burdens on the ailing industry, has hesitated to rewrite fatigue-prevention rules. But regulators acknowledge that fatigue in the cockpit is a significant threat. In an interview, former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey calls pilot scheduling disputes "the third rail of aviation safety regulation." And in June, the agency convened a comprehensive fatigue forum for the first time, gathering international airline officials, human-factors experts and sleep researchers. FAA officials say they intend to evaluate material presented in the sessions.

Foreign airlines and regulators have broken new ground in recent years by taking multiple factors into account when setting work limits for pilots. For example, pilots who fly numerous short legs or have so-called "backside of the clock" schedules -- requiring them to stay up all night or cross multiple time zones -- generally stop working sooner and are guaranteed more rest between trips than those following less demanding timetables.

The FAA allows all airline pilots eight hours of scheduled time behind the controls per day, and up to 16 hours of total duty time, which includes wait time at airports between flights. The agency allows up to 30 hours of flight time weekly and up to 100 hours monthly.

But pilots complain there are no explicit limits for overall hours of duty per week. And while most airlines schedule longer overnight layovers than Mesa, and will reserve hotel rooms for their pilots, ground duties combined with travel to and from hotels can reduce time available for actual shut eye.

Stalled Sleep Talks

The FAA's attempts to update its fatigue rules date back to the mid-1990s, when the agency proposed a wholesale revision of pilot scheduling limits. The goal was to ensure a 36-hour period of consecutive rest each week in addition to daily rest periods. (Currently, the agency mandates eight consecutive hours of rest in any 24-hour period.) To placate airlines, the proposal also sought to increase maximum daily flight hours behind the controls to 10 hours from eight hours. That would allow carriers to use a single crew to fly round-trip transcontinental runs the same day. But after heated debate, the FAA in 1996 jettisoned the package and later compromise attempts failed.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks made it virtually impossible to advocate far-reaching safety initiatives, according to current and former FAA officials. Traffic plummeted and the industry, fighting for survival, was shedding pilots and aircraft at a breakneck pace. Like many pilot-union leaders, the agency shifted its emphasis to security matters.

Once the industry started to recover financially about three years ago, business and government couldn't agree on what changes to pursue. Advances in cockpit automation and onboard safety-warning systems were supposed to provide extra protections against human slipups. New routes spanning huge expanses of the Pacific drew more attention to fatigue issues on ultra-long haul flights.

In April 2008, safety board member Steven Chealander told Congress that "little or no action has been taken" by the FAA to grapple with fatigue, and agency officials "have not indicated any firm plans" to improve their track record. That's in dramatic contrast to enhanced fatigue-prevention measures developed for operators of trucks, trains and ships in the U.S.

Two months later, the NTSB reiterated calls to fight chronic fatigue after it was found to be a factor in last year's nonfatal crash of a Pinnacle Airlines Corp. commuter jet. The safety board determined that the captain, making his fifth landing on a short airstrip that day, had been working for 14 hours in mostly bad weather. Landing on a snowy Michigan runway, he failed to heed various warnings and didn't perform basic calculations before the plane careened off the strip. The captain "absolutely made some poor decisions," says Michael Garvin, Pinnacle's vice president of flight operations. The pilot couldn't be located for comment.

Some airlines have struck independent deals with regulators to modify their pilots' schedules. The FAA and Delta, for example, at the end of 2006, signed an agreement authorizing pilots to fly longer than normal shifts on certain non-stop trips between the U.S. and India. Lasting 16 or 17 hours one way, such ultra-long flights pose formidable fatigue issues. The deal includes extra precautions such as extended rest periods for cockpit crews before leaving the U.S., and two full days off in India prior to the return leg. The FAA's Ms. Gilligan said at the time that the voluntary pact was "a very good example of what we are going to do" with subsequent requests.

Frustrated by what they say are unreasonably long shifts on certain domestic and transatlantic routes, pilots at AMR Corp.'s American Airlines recently delivered a report to the FAA and the NTSB documenting individual flights that consistently take longer than scheduled. On selected trips from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport -- which normally operate with two pilots -- scheduled trip durations of eight hours or less were exceeded more than half the time, say pilots. If the FAA determines American isn't adhering to "realistic" scheduling rules, those flights would have to carry an extra reserve pilot.

FAA officials declined to comment on the matter. An American spokesman said the company projects months ahead to "set realistic schedules about what out real flying time could be," factoring in historical trends, prevailing winds, aircraft types, specific airport operations and other variables. The airline has previously disputed pilot data on flight times.

Write to Andy Pasztor at and Susan Carey at

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

JetBlue, NYC airports score badly on delays
DOT rates JetBlue most-delayed airline in July

LaGuardia, JFK and Newark score low marks for airports; overall delays improve from 2007.

By Aaron Smith, staff writer
Last Updated: September 3, 2008: 12:29 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- JetBlue Airways and New York City-area airports experienced some of the worst flight delays in the industry for July, according to a monthly report.

Among the major carriers, JetBlue (JBLU) flights had an on-time arrival rate of 64.6%, according to the survey released by the Department of Transportation on Wednesday. United Airlines (LCC, Fortune 500) did almost as poorly, with 68.2% of its flights arriving on time.

"JetBlue makes every effort to operate our flights on time," the company said in a statement emailed to "We expect this of ourselves and we know our customers do, too. Flights can be delayed due to weather, congestion and a variety of other factors. We constantly evaluate flight data to determine how we can improve operating performance."

Regional carrier and Delta Air Lines (DAL, Fortune 500) subsidiary ComAir had the worst performance of all airlines surveyed, with 63.3% of its arrivals considered on-time.

The industry average was 75.7%. The DOT said this is an improvement from July, 2007, when the on-time average was 69.8%, and June, 2008, when the average was 70.8%.

Southwest Airlines was the best performer among major carriers, with an on-time arrival rate of 83.3%. Pinnacle Airlines (PNCL), which flies connecting flights for partners Delta and Northwest Airlines (NWA, Fortune 500), was the best airline overall, with an on-time rate of 85.3%.

In the DOT's study of hundreds of U.S. airports, the New York City-area hubs - some of the busiest in the country - were among the most-delayed. John F. Kennedy International had an on-time arrival rate of 57.4%, while Laguardia Airport scored 58.4% and Newark International scored 59.5%. For departures, JFK was on time 65.5% of the time, while Laguardia had an on-time departure rate of 70.8% and Newark scored 63.6%.

Pasquale DiFulco, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said his organization has made 100 recommendations to the Federal Aviation Authority and the DOT to increase capacity, which he said would alleviate congestion.

JetBlue relies heavily on New York City air space and is building a new terminal at JFK.
"We look forward to working with the [Federal Aviation Administration] on operational enhancements at JFK, which we expect would enable us to improve our on-time performance overall," said JetBlue, in an e-mail.