Sunday, February 28, 2010

JFK runway closure to rattle nerves, wallets
Wanna fly? Get ready for higher fares, longer waits as runway at New York's JFK shuts down

By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Transportation Writer , On Sunday February 28, 2010, 1:24 pm
NEW YORK (AP) -- One runway, a whole lot of problems.

The main runway at New York's John F. Kennedy International will be closed for four months starting March 1. Millions of travelers will experience delays -- including some not flying anywhere near the Big Apple.

With about one-third of JFK's traffic and half of its departures being diverted to three smaller runways, planes will wait on longer lines on the ground for takeoffs and in the air for landings. Delays at one of the nation's largest airports will ripple to cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando.

Passengers using JFK also face another headache -- higher ticket prices. JetBlue, American, Delta and other airlines have cut their schedules by about 10 percent for the shutdown period. They can raise prices because there will be a smaller number of seats to meet demand.

JFK's Bay Runway, at 14,572 feet, is one of the longest commercial runways in the world. It's a backup landing spot for the space shuttle, which has its next mission in April. The runway is being repaved with concrete instead of less-durable asphalt and widened to accommodate today's bigger planes.

The project will affect at least the first month of the peak travel season, which officially starts on Memorial Day. But the chosen four-month period was picked because it's the driest in the New York area, making weather-related construction delays less likely. Of course, prompt completion isn't certain. A similar runway repair in Minneapolis last year created thousands of delays when it was slowed by unseasonably wet weather.

JFK is already one of the nation's most delay-plagued airports. It ranked 28th out of 31 major airports in 2009 in on-time performance, according to the Department of Transportation. A delay at JFK, especially one early in the morning, can push back flights across the U.S.

The longest delays occur at peak hours -- from about 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. ET and between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

The airlines and the airport are making adjustments. Besides cutting flights, airlines are adding time into their schedules. So although flights may take longer, more won't necessarily be considered late. Still, Mike Sammartino of the Federal Aviation Administration expects delays at JFK will be about 50 minutes during peak times and 29 minutes on average -- similar to busy summer days.

Sammartino also says JFK officials have added new taxi ways at angles that allow planes to go from terminal to takeoff more quickly. He noted that the FAA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which are financing the $376 million project, began planning the shutdown in early 2009.

JetBlue, the biggest carrier at the airport, said it expects some "operational challenges," but that its reduced flight schedule should help alleviate congestion.

However, for passengers on network carriers like Delta and American the delays will likely be worse, said Lance Sherry, executive director for the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research at George Mason University. JetBlue already tends to avoid the rush hours at JFK. And it has fewer connecting flights, which push delays across the country.

Even if you avoid big delays, you could face higher fares. George Hobica of said some fares are up significantly for the March-June period. For example, the lowest published fares for flights between JFK and Los Angeles International Airport through June 20 range between $278 and $298 roundtrip. That's up from $198 to $218 recently. Delays and higher fares will affect Los Angeles travelers the most because the city is the most popular domestic destination from JFK, followed by San Francisco and Orlando.

Airfares usually rise as spring approaches. But the lowest published fare from LaGuardia, just 8 miles west of JFK, is $100 cheaper for a connecting flight in the same time period -- a more significant gap than normal. Nonstop flights to the West Coast aren't available from LaGuardia.

The shutdown also affects the coordination of flights, and the people who make sure the planes take off and land safely.

Steve Abraham says he and his fellow JFK air traffic controllers must learn how to move aircraft efficiently without the use of their biggest runway. That could add more time to takeoffs and landing, at least initially. Fifty percent of the controllers at JFK have less than 4 years of experience.

"It's like renting a car in England -- you know how to drive but you're driving on the other of the road," Abraham said. "I know how to say 'clear for take off' but I'm just doing it in a configuration that I'm not used to."

JFK airport officials opted for the four-month total shutdown rather than a construction schedule that included overnight work for 2 to 3 years. That's a move Abraham says air traffic controllers support.

"I'd much rather inconvenience people for four months than for two years."
'Wicked nor'easter' unleashes fury
Flights canceled, schools closed, thousands in Northeast without power

Feb. 26, 2010, 5:09 p.m. EST
By Christopher Hinton & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The Northeast got clobbered for a third time this month by a severe snowstorm, disrupting air traffic and Friday commutes across the region.

The worst of the storm hit southern New York and the city, keeping many workers at home. Even stock traders were taking the day off, with Friday's trading volume coming in slightly below the 4.6 billion year-to-date average.

"It's hard to get traction on this snowy day in Manhattan when we don't have all the players at their desk," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co.

The snowstorm was called a "wicked nor'easter" by AccuWeather. It was expected to hammer the Northeast throughout Friday with winds, snow and flooding. Snow totals in some spots could approach the 3-foot mark.

"Travel will be extremely difficult and even impossible at times across upstate New York to the Poconos, especially where massive snow drifts, downed trees or abandoned cars will hinder cleanup effort," AccuWeather said. "Highways could even be shut down for many hours."
One man was killed Thursday when a tree, collapsing under the weight of snow, struck him in New York's Central Park.

Thousands of flight cancellations and extremely long flight delays were being reported at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark airports in the New York area; Logan International in the Boston area; Philadelphia International; and the Dulles and Reagan National airports in the Washington, D.C., area, according to the travel site

"Given expectations of significant snowfall in the metropolitan region, may carriers have already begun canceling flights," the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said. Read more about the snow's impact on airlines.

Airlines at LaGuardia were experiencing delays of up to two hours.

Train service in and around New York City also experienced delays, with the New Jersey PATH system reporting delays of up to 15 minutes earlier in the day.

Snow throughout the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's service area had accumulated from 3 to 30 inches, with the highest amounts in the northern suburbs, the MTA said on its Website.

Schools were closed throughout the region, and thousands of people were without power, according to media reports.

By Friday evening, the heaviest snow and wind was expected to let up, but poor travel conditions will likely continue through the weekend.

"The storm will slowly weaken from here on out as it takes a slow and dizzying path from Long Island to northern New Jersey and then northward to southern New England by Saturday," AccuWeather said.

It's not likely things are gong to get better with March, either.

AccuWeather is predicting March will be just as snowy, thanks to high amounts of moist air from the Pacific Ocean colliding with cold Arctic air that is pushing further south this year due to greater stratospheric pressure.

High volcanic activity in the northern hemisphere, AccuWeather said, helped warm up the stratosphere this winter with more greenhouse gases, increasing the pressure.

Christopher Hinton is a reporter for MarketWatch based in New York. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.
By-the-number look at Friday airline cancellations
A closer look at Friday flight cancellations because of latest snowstorm

By The Associated Press , On Friday February 26, 2010, 4:45 pm EST

The unit of AirTran Holdings Inc., based in Orlando, Fla., canceled 18 flights.

The unit of AMR Corp., based in Fort Worth, Texas, and its American Eagle affiliate canceled 200 flights in and out of New York, 10 in Philadelphia and roughly 80 in Washington.

The Houston airline, which has a hub at the Newark, N.J., airport, canceled roughly 300 mainline flights, in addition to about 200 flights involving its regional partners.

The Atlanta company canceled 500 flights throughout its system.

The airline, based in New York, scratched 80 flights.

The airline, based in Dallas, had 297 cancellations.

The Tempe, Ariz., company canceled 236 Express flights and 76 mainline flights.
Airlines slammed by heavy snow, making for a costly month
March looks just as bad; Airline stocks move higher on adjusted GDP report

Christopher Hinton, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- As snow blanketed the Northeast on Friday, airlines were wrapping up one of the worst months on record for snow-related disruptions, punishing the industry with hundreds of millions in lost revenue and costs; and March is likely to be just as bad.

"For the country as a whole, it's going to be a reluctant spring," said AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi, in an interview. "As far as snow is concerned, March will be just like February."
On Friday, the third major storm in February hit the Northeast, causing more than a thousand flight cancellations and extremely-long delays at some of the nation's busiest airports. Carriers scrambled to accommodate millions of passengers.

"This is certainly one of the worst weather months in my memory," said CRT Capital Group analyst Michael Derchin.

"What has made it particularly bad for the airlines is the storms are widespread throughout the country with the worst ones concentrated in some of the busiest flight corridors in the Northeast and Midwest," Derchin said. "I think it's safe to say that the industry will see a quarterly impact of hundreds of millions due to weather related loss of revenue and extra costs."

Hot Stocks: Airline stocks up
Most carrier shares are higher Friday after a U.S. GDP report shows the economy grew faster than originally thought. The sector's benchmark index gained, led by shares of Continental, Delta and US Airways. Christopher Hinton reports.

Most airline stocks traded higher, lifted by a U.S. Commerce Department report that adjusted fourth-quarter gross domestic production to 5.9% from 5.7%.

With steady crude-oil prices and signs that demand deterioration that carriers suffered last year has ended, investors are focusing more often on economic growth and the unemployment rate, which generally affect premium-ticket sales.

AccuWeather said the severe winter storm in the Northeast could last through Saturday and drop up to 3 feet of snow in some areas. Meteorologists have said they can't recall a worse month for snowy weather.

"Typically this February and March period is worse than most other periods as far as snowfall is concerned," said JetBlue Airways /quotes/comstock/15*!jblu/quotes/nls/jblu (
JBLU 5.28, +0.07, +1.34%) spokeswoman Alison Croyle. She couldn't say if the weather this past month was the worst on record for the budget carrier.

The disruptions had an impact on revenue, but those figures won't be released until first-quarter results, Croyle said.

Airlines got prepared quickly for the storm, which helped reduce the size of costs they might have been burdened otherwise. Starting Wednesday, many airlines began announcing cancellations and encouraging customers to change itineraries, free of charge, if they thought their flights might be affected.

By canceling flights, airlines save money on fuel and labor hours, as well as maintain their on-time performances. Fuel accounts for some 40% of an airline's cost, so not flying can directly impact a carrier's operating expense, said CRT's Derchin.

"Airlines have been more proactive in advising customers ... not charging fees for changing bookings," said Derchin. "And so far there's been no disaster stories this year, like people getting stranded at the airport for five or six hours."

At Delta Air Lines
which has a major hub at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the carrier started canceling flights on Wednesday as forecasters predicted the blizzard would hit the New York City area by Thursday afternoon.

"We recognize we cannot control Mother Nature, but we can minimize the inconvenience for customers," said Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliot. "Our goal is to stay ahead of the storm."
Delta said it rerouted many of its flights around New York, such as its Friday flight from Dublin, Ireland. The flight was supposed to land at JFK, but will land in Cincinnati, where passengers will be able to use connecting flights to get home.

AccuWeather's Bastardi said February has been the snowiest on record, and another winter storm is expected to sweep up from the Tennessee Valley to the mid-Atlantic states by as early as next week.

More moist air from the Pacific is being pushed up from the southwest part of the country this year due to cooler currents along the coast line, Bastardi said. Meanwhile higher volcanic activity in the northern hemisphere spewed greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in a warmer stratosphere that increased pressure around the North Pole, pushing cold air further south.

When all that moist air hits the arctic cold, snow results, Bastardi said.
"No one thing is causing this, it's a combination of things," he said.
Computer gremlin grounds JetBlue nationwide
JetBlue computer issue kept flights grounded nationwide for about an hour

By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Transportation Writer

On Friday February 26, 2010, 5:42 pm EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- JetBlue fixed a technical issue with its central computer system that led to the temporary grounding of flights nationwide on Friday.

Flights were held from around 2:45 p.m. EST Friday until the issue was resolved just before 3:45 p.m. EST.

The carrier had already canceled most of its flights out of the New York area Friday due to a snowstorm.

Nearly all major carriers flying in and out of New York dropped at least some of their flights Friday, leading to about 2,000 cancellations.

Snow and ice at John F. Kennedy International, JetBlue's home base, kept incoming flights delayed for an average of one hour and 9 minutes, according to FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto.
At Newark Liberty International, incoming flights were delayed an average of one hour and 17 minutes.

High winds in Boston and Washington also slowed air traffic there, Takemoto said.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. tentatively OKs American's 'oneworld' alliance
BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- American Airlines said Saturday that the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted tentative approval for its proposed trans-Atlantic travel alliance with several carriers.

American said it requested antitrust immunity from U.S. regulators for the alliance, called "oneworld," which includes British Airways, Finnair and Royal Jordanian. The DOT also gave an initial green light to American's proposed joint venture with British Airways and Iberia Airlines for flights between North America and Europe, American said. American said that Oneworld is aimed at competing with two other international airline alliances, Star and SkyTeam, both of which the company said already enjoy U.S. antitrust immunity. On Friday, American asked the DOT for antitrust immunity regarding a joint business with Japan Airlines for flights between North America and Asia.

Val Brickates Kennedy is a reporter for MarketWatch in Boston.

American Airlines Comments on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Tentative Approval of Trans-Atlantic Antitrust Immunity With oneworld Alliance

MembersExpresses Appreciation for the Support It Received from Congress, State and Local Officials for Proposal That Will Provide Consumers with More Travel Choices

FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American Airlines today announced it has received tentative approval from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) for its trans-Atlantic antitrust immunity (ATI) request submitted in conjunction with fellow oneworld® alliance members British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian, in addition to approval of a joint business agreement proposed by American, British Airways and Iberia.

American and its co-applicants, which submitted their application in August 2008, will review DOT's tentative order and will respond according to the time frame established for comments.

The provisional approval by DOT is an important step in the process that will allow oneworld alliance members American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia to cooperate more effectively in competing with the Star and SkyTeam alliances, both of which already enjoy broad immunity from DOT.

In addition, the oneworld alliance members are continuing discussions with the European Union Competition Directorate.American, British Airways and Iberia plan to operate a joint business between North America and Europe. Their closer cooperation, made possible by antitrust immunity, will benefit customers with more travel choices and convenient schedules, expanded opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles, and greater availability of lower fares.

"We appreciate the thorough review that our request received from DOT and the U.S. Department of Justice," said Will Ris, American's Senior Vice President – Government Affairs. "We are pleased that DOT has agreed that it is in the best interest of the traveling public if American and other oneworld alliance carriers have an immunized relationship."Ris added,

"American also wants to publicly acknowledge the support that its proposal received from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), the Ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee; Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.); the members of the Texas congressional delegation; and dozens of other U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives, local elected officials, airport officials, business and community leaders, and tourism industry experts.

"American and its oneworld partners are looking forward to competing for business over the Atlantic on a level playing field. Meanwhile, over the Pacific, we will continue to focus on ensuring that competition among alliances remains as robust as it is today," Ris said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

American Airlines to charge $50 for coach standby
Flying standby on American Airlines will cost $50 for economy-class passengers

By David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer , On Wednesday February 10, 2010, 6:57 pm EST
DALLAS (AP) -- Next time you think about flying standby on American Airlines, be prepared to give the gate agent your name and $50.

The days of hanging around the agent's desk, hoping for a free switch to an earlier flight are over at American for many passengers.

The nation's second-largest airline said Wednesday that starting with tickets bought on Feb. 22, only elite frequent fliers, travelers in first or business class, military personnel and people who bought pricey coach tickets will be allowed to fly standby for free.

Everyone else switching flights on their day of travel will have to pay $50 to get a confirmed seat.

In announcing the change, American played down the price and said it was improving the boarding process by eliminating the gaggle of standby fliers who flock to the desk before flights.

"On some flights we have over 100 people going standby," and their names must be manually entered into the computer system, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. "Because of the sheer numbers, it can be cumbersome to get the boarding process started on time."

Smith acknowledged, however, "There is probably some revenue involved here," a point that critics were quick to pick up on, especially since well-heeled premium passengers will still be allowed to fly standby for free.

"It's the people who really want a cheap fare who are getting slammed by the fees and now when it comes to standby," said Anne Banas, executive editor of Web site

American started charging for a confirmed seat change in 2005. You could pay that fee and know you had a seat, "or you could just hang around the gate and hope a seat would open up and they'd give it to you free," said George Hobica, founder of travel site

"It's not a new fee," Hobica said of American's announcement. "It's the elimination of a free loophole."

Airlines have different policies about flying standby. Delta, like American, gives special flight-changing privileges to elite frequent fliers and charges customers with nonrefundable fares $50 to change their departure on the day of travel.

Continental lets some customers change flights for $25 or $50; it's free for elite fliers. Southwest requires travelers at some lower fares to effectively pay for a pricier ticket.

United still allows regular coach customers to fly standby for free, or they can pay $75 for a certain seat.
AMR's $8 Blanket Bungle: Firing Line
Matthew Buckley, Contributor 02/10/10 - 08:37 AM EST

While profitable Southwest(
LUV Quote) continues to poke at the legacy carriers in its national ad campaign, it appears the executives at AMR are taking a page out of President Obama's PR book. "We know you don't like all the extra fees, but your problem is that you aren't hearing us. You need to listen louder," AMR seems to be saying.

I must fully disclose my relationship with AMR. My first scheduled flight as a pilot for this airline was Sept. 11, 2001. I was supposed to fly from Dallas/Fort Worth to Miami and from Miami to Cancun. I was supposed to be in a conga line that evening. My mother-in-law called from the East Coast to give us a heads up that something had happened with an airplane in New York.

As I stood there watching the
TV going through my mental aviation checklist of how an aircraft could've flown into the World Trade Center on such a clear day, I saw the second airliner hit.
I immediately knew we were under attack and I reached in the closet and pushed my never worn American Airlines uniform out of the way for the familiar feel of my well-worn Navy flight suit. I broke the land speed record and got out to Naval Air Station JRB Fort Worth just as the base was closed and it went to a combat posture. I flew the F/A-18 Hornet for the Naval Reserve in addition to being a pilot for American.

We connected with NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) and hooked up with the F-16 squadron next door. We then set up a combat air patrol for the southwestern United States. I went from flying in an airliner that day for the first time to possibly shooting one down.
Amazingly, three days later, crew scheduling called to inform me that I was scheduled for my first trip the following day. I thought it was a prank a squadron mate was playing since I had just landed from launching on an alert and forcing a small plane to land that had violated the no-fly rule and was heading for presidential airspace.

Realizing the guy from crew scheduling wasn't joking, I asked the guy if he had any access to the outside world from where he was sitting. AMR had just made an ill-advised purchase of beleaguered TWA and all of its pilots had been placed on top of me on the seniority list. I was one of the most junior pilots and I knew I was toast at a minimum. I also had my doubts that AMR as a company would survive the attacks (see bailout, government series of).

But since I still worked there I showed up early the next morning, flew a plane with a couple of stranded AMR
employees back to Miami and went to the crew hotel where the captain informed me that crew scheduling had called to inform him that I was now furloughed (polite airline code for "laid off"). The captain seized my ID card. I didn't even get a flight back home.

So it doesn't amaze me that the leadership at AMR made such a hilarious business decision as to start charging for blankets. Why?

Let me count the ways.

Will AMR order pilots to lower the cabin temperature to
increase sales? "Captain Buckley, we notice that your blanket sales are low this month. Can you explain why? The flight manual says to keep the cabin temp at or below 32 degrees (except on flights to south Florida ... we can't afford the liability of older passengers and their conditions, but we expect you to use your judgment if they look like a healthy bunch)."

Maybe the thousands of furloughed pilots could start a business. Sell blankets outside of security for $4, thus undercutting the market by 50%.

Or as a frequent
business traveler on AMR (executive platinum a year ago, dropped to unwashed masses gold status recently), I'm going to pack my carry-on full of space blankets. I'll sell those for $2 onboard, selling ad space on them to rival carriers for a premium.

Seriously AMR. Find a
business plan that actually sells a product that makes more than what it costs to produce.

Firing Line: I want my former employer to succeed. The employees were the best team I ever worked with (for a day). But a business so focused on the tactical generation of revenue rather than developing a strategic business plan that makes sense is a business that is destined for trouble.

Written by Matthew Buckley in Boca Raton, Fla.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Raw Video: Biggest-ever 747 takes flight
The biggest jumbojet Boeing has ever made lifted off Monday on its first test flight at Paine Field at Everett, Washington. The 747-8 is 250 feet long, 18 feet longer than current jumbo 747s. (Feb. 7)
Body found in airplane wheel well at Tokyo airport

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 41 mins ago

TOKYO – Japanese authorities said Monday they are trying to identify a body found inside one of the landing gear compartments on a Delta Airlines plane flight that arrived in Tokyo from New York.

The body of the apparent stowaway, identified only as that of a male with dark skin, was clad only in a long-sleeved, plaid shirt and jeans, police at the Narita International Airport said Monday.

A mechanic found the body lying inside the landing gear compartment of the Boeing 777-200 during maintenance after Delta Flight 59 from New York landed at Narita on Sunday night, police official Zenjiro Watanabe said.

"All we know is that he must have sneaked in just before departure, because it is impossible for him to enter the storage during flight," Watanabe said.

The body had no visible injuries except signs of frostbite, and the man might have died of hypothermia during the flight, Watanabe said.

The temperature in that part of the plane falls to about minus 58 degrees (minus 50 degrees Celsius) during flight.

Police are investigating the case both as an accident and a possible crime, Watanabe said.
"It's quite bizarre," he said. "I've never handled a case like this before."

Delta officials were not immediately available for comment.

There have been similar cases in the past.

In 2007, a man who appeared to be Asian and in his 50s, was found dead in the nose gear wheel well in an on a United Airlines Boeing 747 that arrived at San Francisco International Airport from Shanghai. He too was thought to be a stowaway.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

JAL to stay with American, end Delta talks: report

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Airlines Corp (Tokyo:9205.T - News) will keep its partnership with American Airlines (NYSE:AMR - News) in the Oneworld alliance and end talks with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL - News) and the rival SkyTeam group, the Asahi newspaper reported.

The two U.S. carriers have been courting Japan Airlines for months with offers of financial aid and close cooperation on international routes, looking to gain access to its vast network in Asia and benefit from the expansion at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

JAL had been leaning toward joining hands with Delta before filing for bankruptcy last month and bringing in new management under the auspices of a state-backed fund, the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan (ETIC).

JAL's new chief executive officer, Kazuo Inamori, and officials of the ETIC have decided that switching alliances is too risky and could hinder their ability to turn around the airline quickly, the Asahi said on its website.

JAL will make an official announcement this week, the Asahi said. A JAL spokeswoman declined to comment. No one at the ETIC could be reached for a comment.

In addition to the burden of upgrading computer systems and other costs, the risk that JAL and Delta would not be able to receive regulatory approval for anti-trust immunity also played into the decision, the Asahi said.

Anti-trust immunity allows airlines to work closely on pricing, flight scheduling and in other areas to boost revenue and lower costs. This is now a possible under the "open skies" treaty recently agreed to by the United States and Japan.

American and its Oneworld partners have offered $1.4 billion in capital and Delta has offered about $1 billion in financial aid in an effort to woo JAL. However, the ETIC is not expected to invite another carrier to invest in JAL at this stage.

(Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ex-TWA flight attendants threaten to work during American Airlines strike

The Dallas Morning News - Airline Biz Blog Feb 04, 2010

A group of ex-Trans World Airlines flight attendants was warning Thursday its members would gladly work as replacements if American Airlines flight attendants walk off the job.

The St. Louis-based group, Coalition for Union Principles, told APFA president Laura Glading last August that the group's members would be willing to cross a picket line if the APFA walked off the job. That threat was repeated in a Thursday press release.

"If American Airlines calls, the majority of the former TWA attendants will respond," coalition spokesperson Nancy McGuire said. "They want to resume the careers that were stolen from them by a renegade union."

Consider this as a continuation of a dispute between the American flight attendants and the ex-TWA flight attendants, who joined American when American acquired TWA assets in 2001.
The APFA put all the TWA flight attendants at the bottom of the APFA seniority list.

That meant that a 40-year flight attendant who came over from TWA would be laid off before a flight attendant who was hired at American a month before the TWA acquisition.

In fact, the TWA flight attendants have all been laid off since 2001. In that group are more than 2,000 that lost all recall rights after they had been on furlough for five years.

American eventually agreed to extend the recall rights of many other flight attendants beyond five years. However, flight attendants who had already passed the five-year mark did not get recall rights given back to them, and they're gone, period.

The coalition in its press release said the ex-TWA group "have no loyalty to the union they blame for ending their careers."

"APFA has damaged the labor movement by their failure to respect the seniority of fellow union members," McGuire said. "The TWA attendants have no loyalty to a group masquerading as a labor union that does not respect the most basic tenet of unionism."

APFA and American are in the middle of contract talks overseen by the National Mediation Board. Glading has said the union will ask the NMB to declare an impasse if the next round of negotiations, set for Feb. 27-March 3 in Washington, don't result in a deal.

American has told the Federal Aviation Administration that it may train management employees to work as replacements if APFA members conduct a strike.

We asked American spokeswoman Missy Latham on Tuesday if American was considering using ex-TWA flight attendants to replace strikers, or if the airline had talked to McGuire about the subject.

Her answer: "I've confirmed that we have done neither ... at this time."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Northwest code officially retired
Northwest Airlines code officially retired with Delta merging reservation systems

On Tuesday February 2, 2010, 5:26 pm EST

ATLANTA (AP) -- Northwest Airlines' code has been retired.

Delta Air Lines combined the Northwest reservation system into its own over the weekend, changed the code on Northwest flights to Delta's code and took down the Northwest Web site.
It was one of the final steps in the integration following Delta's acquisition of Northwest in 2008 to become the world's biggest airline.

Delta, based in Atlanta, was green-lighted to retire the Northwest code after it obtained a single operating certificate from the FAA on Dec. 31.

Employees wear the Delta uniform and airport signs have been rebranded as Delta, but some pre-merger Northwest aircraft have yet to be repainted with the Delta livery.
Northwest got its start in 1926 hauling air mail in two rented biplanes.
AMR May Train Attendant Stand-Ins in Case of Walkout (Update1)

February 01, 2010, 08:24 PM EST

By Mary Schlangenstein and John HughesFeb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- American Airlines told U.S. officials it's studyingthe training of replacement workers in the event of a flight attendants'strike at the world's second-largest carrier, the Federal AviationAdministration said.

AMR Corp.'s American hasn't taken steps to implement such a plan, AlisonDuquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said today in an interview. Any shortenedtraining sessions for replacement workers would require clearance by theagency, she said.

"The airline has told us they are considering" training new attendants,Duquette said. "If they decide to go ahead with that, we would be approvingthat training as part of the process."Alerting the FAA about a possible training need highlights the tension atAmerican as it prepares for five days of talks with the Association ofProfessional Flight Attendants starting Feb. 27.

The union has said it willseek a release from further bargaining, a step toward a walkout, if nocontract is reached.American is "working to coordinate an approved contingency training program,should it be necessary," while focusing on reaching an agreement with theflight attendants, said Missy Latham, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth,Texas-based carrier.

Such plans are "standard in the airline industry duringcontract negotiations, " she said.David Roscow, an APFA spokesman, said the union had no immediate comment.APFA represents about 16,550 active-duty attendants at American, which makes1,900 flights a day, excluding its American Eagle commuter unit. Americanhas 1,408 attendants on furlough, including 550 laid off in 2009.

1993 Training

In 1993, American trained about 1,300 managers and volunteers in an attemptto keep more planes flying during a five-day strike by attendants. The workstoppage, which occurred just before Thanksgiving and ended whenthen-President Bill Clinton intervened, cost the carrier at least $10million a day.

Replacements underwent a 10-day course that focused on safety and wasmonitored by the FAA. Federal requirements call for 1 flight attendant forevery 50 seats on an aircraft."It's hard to know how successful something like that would be," said RobertW. Mann of consultant R.W. Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York. "It's aseffective as replacements can be with the proviso that customers usuallynotice the difference.

"American and the attendants' union have been in talks since June 2008.Eleven contract articles remained open when the two sides ended a focused11-day negotiating session on Jan. 21. After the new talks were scheduledthis month, the union delayed a strike-authorization vote set for as earlyas Jan. 22.--