Monday, November 29, 2010

Jobless Mexican Stewardesses Launch Sexy Calendar

By The Associated Press

Women who worked as Mexicana airlines stewardesses before the company stopped flying last August when it declared bankruptcy, pose for a photo on the rooftop of a building in Mexico City, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. Ten former Mexicana stewardesses have teamed up efforts and savings to produce a
pin-up calendar as a way to earn some money and also attract attention to the plight of the airline in hopes of getting their jobs back.

It could be the Mexican remake of the "The Full Monty" -- just swap theout-of-work British steel workers from the 1997 hit movie for curvy Latina flight attendants.

Ten stewardesses with troubled Mexicana airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in August and suspended operations, launched a sultry aviation-themed calendar Thursday in a bid to call attention to their own plight and that of their airline -- one of the world's oldest.

The 2011 calendar features glossy shots of the flight attendants, clad only in bikinis and aviation shades or abbreviated uniforms, draped over propellers and striking racy poses in the cockpit.  It was the brainchild of 10-year Mexicana veteran Coral Perez.

"It occurred to me because we all needed money, and I thought that with somany pretty girls (among Mexicana's staff) there were bound to be some who'd be interested," she said. Each of the 10 "aeromozas" -- or flight attendants in Spanish -- who ended up posing forked out money from her own pockets to help cover the production  costs of 100,000 pesos (about $8,000).

"The goal was to try to help ourselves because we lost everything overnight," said one of the women, 26-year-old Maribel Zavala. Mission accomplished.

The calendar has sparked a media frenzy in Mexico, and the first run of 1,000 was sold out even before Thursday's launch. A second edition of 3,000calendars -- which retail for 149 pesos, or about $12, apiece -- is in the works. The calendar's release came on the heels of Mexicana's announcement that a restructuring proposal might allow it to resume some flights by mid-December. Under the plan, just 30 percent of the company's personnel would be rehired.

Founded in 1921, shortly after Dutch carrier KLM and Australia's Qantas airline, Mexicana used to serve 65 destinations in Mexico, the United States, other parts of the Americas and Europe.
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British Airways tailfinBritish Airways Investors Approve $9 Billion Merger With Iberia

By Steve Rothwell and Manuel Baigorri - Nov 29, 2010 5:30 AM MT
British Airways Plc and Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA shareholders gave the go ahead for a $9 billion merger that will extend the U.K. company’s dominance of lucrative trans-Atlantic routes and close the gap to European market leaders Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Three resolutions approving the deal won support from more than 99 percent of voters at a British Airways investor meeting in London. Iberia’s owners also backed the plan in Madrid, paving the way for the pair to combine under the International Consolidated Airlines Group SA holding company in late January.

British Airways Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh says he’ll use the new structure as a basis for further purchases in the push to cut costs and penetrate new markets. The London- based carrier tapped a surge in demand for business flights to post its first profit in two years in the three months ended Sept. 30 after Iberia returned to profit in the second quarter.
“The aviation industry is moving towards consolidation and we need to be sure we are playing an active role,” British Airways Chairman Martin Broughton said at today’s meeting in the U.K. capital. His counterpart in Madrid, Antonio Vazquez, said that Iberia needs to become “a main player within a big airline group” so as not to get left behind after mergers among rivals.

Surging Shares
The U.K. carrier has a market value of 3.13 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) after advancing 45 percent this year, and Iberia is worth 3.1 billion euros ($4 billion) following a 70 percent gain. Both traded little changed in the wake of today’s votes.

The companies first announced that they were in talks about an all-share merger in July 2008, the month that oil prices reached a record $147 a barrel, slashing profit margins and causing some carriers to collapse.

A tie-up was agreed in November 2009, conditional on Iberia approving British Airways plans for reducing a 3.7 billion pound pension deficit. The Spanish carrier’s board approved that strategy on Sept. 23, clearing the way to consult investors.

Following today’s ballots the transaction will require U.K. High Court approval on Jan. 19 before it can take effect on Jan. 21.

British Airways says the merger will generate 400 million euros of synergies in the fifth year and give it the option of adding flights in Madrid, away from London Heathrow, which as Europe’s busiest airport is afflicted by capacity constraints.

The combination will also create a more effective bulwark against discount carriers such as Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc and give “considerable scale” within the European market, Walsh said today.

Hit List

The CEO said in September that he intends to push on with consolidation and that British Airways and Iberia have already identified 12 other carriers which would be attractive partners.

The executive says that merger candidates are more likely to come from within the Oneworld airline alliance of which the two are members, together with carriers including AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Qantas Airways Ltd. British Airways has led the group’s recruitment of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, S7 Airlines of Russia and Air Berlin Plc, Germany’s biggest carrier after Lufthansa.

British Airways and American said last month that they would start sharing booking codes on more than 2,700 services, as well as adding new routes, after winning antitrust approval to extend their alliance on trans-Atlantic flights.

‘Torn Apart’

Walsh said that in the event of a further strike by the airline’s 12,000 cabin crew “we are just going to continue to run the business,” adding that factions within the Unite union are “tearing themselves apart” over the 21-month dispute.

After the last round of talks with Tony Woodley, Unite’s joint general secretary, the pair shook hands on a prospective deal, the CEO said. Woodley later decided not to recommend the settlement following meetings with his elected officials.

Walsh said he may main remain involved in negotiations even when he becomes CEO of the IAG holding company, at which point BA will be led by its current finance chief, Keith Williams.

“I’m very happy to remain directly involved to play whatever role Keith would like me to play,” Walsh said.

Unite will hold a briefing on developments in the crew dispute at 2 p.m. in London today, it said in an e-mail.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steven Rothwell in London at; Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at; Angela Cullen at

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.AP Exclusive: Color-coded terror alerts may end

WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department is proposing to discontinue the color-coded terror alert system that became a symbol of the country's post-9/11 jitters and the butt of late-night talk show jokes.

 The 8-year-old system, with its rainbow of five colors — from green, signifying a low threat, to red, meaning severe — became a fixture in airports, government buildings and on newscasts. Over the past four years, millions of travelers have begun and ended their trips to the sound of airport recordings warning that the threat level is orange.

The system's demise would not be the end of terror alerts; instead, the alerts would become more descriptive and not as colorful. In the past two years, Obama administration officials have changed security protocols without changing the color of the threat, such as introducing new airport security measures after a terrorist tried to bring down a Detroit-bound jetliner last Christmas.

By scrapping the colors, President Barack Obama would abandon a system that critics long have said was too vague to be useful and that Democrats criticized as a political scare tactic. And it would represent a formal undoing of one of the George W. Bush administration's most visible legacies.

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he believes the aim of the administration's plan is to help people better understand concepts about danger that may be too vague when conveyed through the color-coded system.

"I think it's something that is under review to make it meaningful and relevant to the American people," he said. "I'm just not sure how relevant it is."

He called Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's internal review "just a commonsense approach" and said she should be credited with "making some judgments going forward."

Officials confirmed the recommendation and the draft proposal was described to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because other federal agencies are privately weighing in on the idea, and no final decision has been made.

Napolitano ordered a review of the system in July 2009. Earlier this year, the department decided the best way forward would be to scrap the colors and use more descriptive language to talk about terror threats. The recommendation is not related to the recent furor over airport security pat-downs and body scans.

The details of the new alert system — including the words that would be used to describe the threats — are still being worked out internally by multiple government agencies and the White House.

The Homeland Security Department would not discuss the recommendations and did not know when a new system would be rolled out. The current colored system remains in place.

"We are committed to providing specific, actionable information based on the latest intelligence," department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said.

One of the recommended names for the new system is the National Terrorist Advisory System, replacing the current Homeland Security Advisory System.

An option under consideration is to go from five threat tiers to two: elevated and imminent. Under that model, when the threat level changes to imminent, government officials would be expected to be as specific as possible in describing the threat without jeopardizing national security. And an imminent threat would not last longer than a week, meaning the public wouldn't see a consistently high and ambiguous threat level.

There also would be an understanding with the public that there is a baseline level of vigilance needed in the U.S., but when the government gets information that suggests the threat is more specific, the new system would be used to communicate those details.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said the use of colors emerged from a desire to clarify the nonspecific threat information that intelligence officials were receiving after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The goal was to put the threat in terms the public could understand.

"And most importantly, it empowers government and citizens to take actions to address the threat," Ridge said in March 2002 when, as Bush's homeland security adviser, he announced the birth of the system.

Each color signaled specific security measures to be taken at airports and other public places. From the beginning, Ridge said, officials knew the system would become the target of critics.

Late-night TV host Conan O'Brien chimed in just days after the announcement.

"Earlier this week, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Ridge announced a new color-coded warning system. A color-coded system to keep the public informed about disasters. Seems like a good idea," O'Brien said. "Yeah, apparently red is the highest alert, and it means Dick Cheney is about to eat a mozzarella stick."

As part of her review in 2009, Napolitano solicited comments from the public about the current system. Some of those commentators likened the color-coded system to the boy who cried wolf. Others criticized it for not following the natural color spectrum. Others wanted the system to be based on numbers as opposed to colors and to mirror the weather alerts familiar to communities across the country.

Under the current system, green, at the bottom, signals a low danger of attack; blue signals a general risk; yellow, a significant risk; orange, a high risk; and red, at the top, warns of a severe threat. The nation has never been below the third threat level, yellow — an elevated or significant risk of terrorist attack.

While the colored descriptors haven't changed in eight years, the government has modified how it uses them. The government departed from blanket warnings in 2004 when it raised the threat level for the financial sector in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Previously, warnings would have applied across the country.

The terror threat to the U.S. continues to change, but the color of the threat is the same as it was in 2006: yellow for the country as a whole and orange for the aviation sector.

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Seal of the United States Transportation Secur...U.S. Airline Flight Attendants Get Body-Scanner Exemption at Checkpoints

By John Hughes - Nov 23, 2010 2:45 PM MT
Business Exchange Buzz up! Digg Print Email U.S. airline flight attendants are getting the same exemption from body-scanner checks that pilots began receiving under a directive that went out Nov. 19, the Transportation Security Administration said.

“Flight attendants, like pilots, are a known and trusted group,” Nicholas Kimball, an agency spokesman, said in an e- mail today. The attendants and pilots must continue to go through metal detectors, under agency guidelines.

There are more than 400 body scanners at 70 U.S. airports that screeners use to detect any non-metal weapons hidden beneath passengers’ clothing. Passengers who opt out of going through the body scanners are subject to pat-down searches.

Since crew members don’t need to go through body scanners, they are also exempt from the pat-downs that would normally result from skipping scanners. Anyone who sets off a metal detector is still subject to additional security measures, such as a pat-down.

U.S. airline pilots starting next year will be exempt from all physical checks at airport security checkpoints with proof of identity, the agency said Nov. 19. Flight attendants have been in talks with the agency about a similar plan.

To contact the reporter for this story: John Hughes in Washington
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TWA airplane. This was in Pittsburgh around 1978.Fliers wax nostalgic about golden age of air travel

By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Some of the airlines' busiest days of the year — before and after Thanksgiving — are just around the corner.

About 24 million people will head to an airport this year to catch a flight, the nation's airline industry trade group, the Air Transport Association, estimates. And as in every year, many of them will gripe. Whether it's fees, crowded planes, no food or surly service, people will complain about the current state of air travel.

They'll talk wistfully about the good old days of flying, of a bygone era when a glamorous stewardess delivered white-glove service with a smile, they had meals with real silverware and a courtesy cocktail was offered free on such carriers as Pan Am, TWA, Braniff or Eastern.
The so-called golden age of air travel in the 1950s, '60s and '70s has passed, they'll say, just as those airlines have.

But has it? No, say some veteran fliers and industry analysts. With historically affordable fares to nearly everywhere, greater options for service if you're willing to pay, and new information and entertainment technology, there's never been a better time to fly, they say.

"We are definitely currently in a golden age of travel," says Nick Yassukovich, 43, a tax adviser who has spent most of his life living in Europe. "There are so many improvements in air travel these days compared to travel in the past that they far, far outweigh the degradations in the travel experience. This is particularly the case for premium travelers, but I would still say that it is very valid for coach passengers."

He's not the only veteran flier who says this.

"As someone who travels about 200,000 miles per year, I think that this is the golden age of air travel," says David Julias, 43, of Reston, Va.

Julias may be a bit biased. He works in an aviation-related field for a travel technology company that deals with airline reservations.

"Sure," he says, "the aristocracy that once surrounded air travel is gone, (but) the mainstream aspect of air travel," affordability to so many, makes this a better time.

"I am now able to know the streets and restaurants of Singapore, London and Dubai as well — if not better — than I know New York, Miami and Chicago," Julias says.

Where's the disconnect? How, in an era in which bashing airline service has become a national pastime, could there be travelers who say things have never been better?

Henry Harteveldt, a San Francisco-based travel analyst at Forrester Research, says most fliers don't realize how good — and fast — they have it today.

"It was glamorous," Harteveldt says of air travel of yesteryear. But, he says, "airplane travel was slower, and it was more expensive compared to today. When people traveled long distances, they — for the most part — took trains or buses domestically, if they didn't drive. Or they sailed across to Europe or to Asia."

Greg Lindsay, an aviation writer and co-author of the upcoming book Aerotropolis, which chronicles the intersection of aviation, globalization and cities, is more blunt.

"The good old days never were — they never existed," Lindsay says. "We imagine the space and what not, but seats weren't as good. The meals weren't that great. We had no seatback video. And we were paying thousands of dollars per ticket. These are the things we sort of forget — or never experienced, because we're too young."

Among the differences between now and the good old days:

People grouse about high fares. Fueling the complaints are an array of fees imposed in the last three years for services that used to be included in the price of a ticket.

But by historic standards, we're paying less to travel than any time in recent memory, according to Air Transport Association figures.

In 1978, the year the government deregulated the airline industry to make it more competitive, average fares paid by fliers came out to about 8.49 cents for every mile flown, association figures show. Adjusted for inflation, that comes out to 27.9 cents a mile in today's dollars. In 2009, customers paid an average 12.1 cents for each mile flown, less than half what they paid in 1978, with inflation taken into account. During that time, the association says, the number of people flying has almost tripled, from 275 million annual passengers to 704 million.

Quality of flight

Around half of all domestic flights are on unpopular regional jets, and if fliers want a good seat, they often have to pay extra for it, just as they do to check their luggage.

"Until the 1970s, you couldn't get seat assignments in advance," analyst Harteveldt says. "You had to go to the airport. They took little stickers off seat-diagrams of the airplane and gave it to you, and you got on the plane. That's how they determined your seat.

"At the same time," he says, "you were still carrying paper tickets, and you often had to change from one airline to another. In some cases, you could check your bag all the way through, and in some cases, you couldn't."
On a more basic level, flights are faster and safer.

When now-defunct Pan Am began its "Flying Clippers" service in the 1930s, for example, customers may have received service from white-jacketed waiters, but Lindsay points out that it required some 14 hours and multiple stops to go from New York to Lisbon.

Julias, the fare analyst from Virginia, says, "Those of an older generation can only marvel at the ability to fly to Asia for a one-day meeting or to London for a breakfast meeting, only to return that afternoon. Those things simply did not happen 25 years ago."

And they can get there more safely, Harteveldt says. "The reliability of planes wasn't always as good as it is now," he says. "It's much safer to fly today."
In the period from 1965-69, there were 39 accidents involving fatalities on scheduled commercial flights operated by U.S. airlines. In 2005-09, there were six, according to data from the Air Transport Association.

Service choices

Whether between flight times or carriers, customers have never had it so good.

Travelers from New York to South Florida, for example, can pick from dozens of daily flights from more than a half-dozen airport combinations. They can go in coach, expanded coach, business-class or first-class seats.
They can also choose to carry basic belongings with them or pay extra to take more in the plane's cargo hold. Or they can choose an airline that doesn't charge extra to check their bag, such as Southwest or JetBlue.

Passengers can also have a variety of food and beverages in many cases to suit them if they're willing to pay, or simply snack on pretzels and a soft drink for free.

All these choices, along with lower fares, are directly or indirectly a result of the deregulation of the airlines in 1978 and the competition that it fostered. In the good old days, the government set both routes and fares for airlines.

"Deregulation," Harteveldt says, "opened up the skies not only to airlines to be more competitive, but to the passenger."

In-flight service

Fliers 20, 30 or 40 years ago didn't have live television, on-demand movies, a choice of music, Wi-Fi or lie-flat seats as they do today.
Yes, some of these amenities sometimes require paying extra, but they're a step up from the days when in-flight entertainment was a movie.

Frequent traveler C. Whitney Mandel, 47, of Washington, remembers when in-flight movies were on old-fashioned projectors with reels.

"All of a sudden, you go to (video), and you thought, 'Oh, wow! That's amazing,' " he says.
Some big sources of disgruntlement now come before fliers board the plane: lines because there aren't enough airline personnel on hand to help fliers check in, or in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security lines, which didn't exist in the good old days.

Harteveldt says that during the past decade, passengers have been forced to accept an "inexcusable" decline in comfort and staffing at many U.S. carriers. "Airlines do need to do a better job of restoring dignity to economy class," he says.

"What I really miss is the civility," he says. "I think that this is a challenge for the airlines — and also the TSA. We cannot compromise on security. There's got to be a way to make the process more efficient and allow people to maintain their dignity."

But, Harteveldt also says, many people tend to look at what they think was a golden age of flying with rose-colored glasses that tint their view of what service on now-defunct airlines was really like.

"Nostalgia is always wonderful," he says. "I remember my dad belonged to the 'We Hate Eastern Airlines' club, W-H-E-A-L. Well, now someone is trying to restart Eastern Airlines' brand. And I still talk to people who will say, 'Oh, Eastern Airlines was wonderful!' That's certainly not what a lot of people thought back then."

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

JFK Terminal 4, New York - one of JFK's better...Delta Air Lines, JFKIAT and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Break Ground on $1.2 Billion Enhancement and Expansion of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport

Project will create a state-of-the-art facility at Terminal 4, Delta's JFK hub
Press Release Source: Delta Air Lines On Friday November 19, 2010, 1:48 pm EST

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL - News), JFKIAT LLC, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today broke ground on the $1.2 billion project that will enhance and expand Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The project will create a state-of-the-art facility for New York's fastest growing global airline.

"Delta continues to make substantial investments in New York, and our terminal project at JFK is among the most significant," said Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson. "Our new facility is designed to meet the needs of the world's largest and most competitive aviation market with significant benefits to our customers, employees and the city of New York for decades to come. We look forward to our continued partnership with JFKIAT, Schiphol and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on this ambitious project."

"Today's event continues the momentum and emphasizes our excitement for this project," said Jos Nijhuis, president and CEO of Schiphol Group. "We're proud to partner with Delta, a member of SkyTeam, as it strengthens its New York hub and brings about these positive changes for Terminal 4, which will reaffirm its status as the 'Terminal of Choice' at JFK International Airport."

Alain Maca, president of JFKIAT, LLC, which operates Terminal 4 added, "We're proud to be part of this ambitious expansion project which will greatly expand our capacity and help fulfill the original vision for Terminal 4. Today's groundbreaking and Delta's commitment to this project bring us a step closer to realizing that vision. The expansion will bring about enhancements and improvements that will enable us to maximize the efficiency of our operation and boost our ability to serve the flying public."

"I want to thank Delta Air Lines and Schiphol for embarking on a vast project that will not only fulfill the vision for Terminal 4, but will enhance the functionality, experience and options at JFK and the entire Port Authority aviation system. Delta Air Lines, with its New York hub, is a valued partner at both our biggest and smallest airports and we look forward to our continued collaboration," said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward.

"Through large and much-needed construction projects, we are able to continue to drive economic development in the region by creating both on-airport jobs and construction-related work. Projects like these not only benefit the travelers that pass through our doors, but also the communities that our facilities call home," said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni.

"The expansion of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport is a welcome economic development project that will generate employment opportunities in our community," Senate President Pro-Tempore Malcolm A. Smith said. "This substantial investment not only stimulates our local economy, it will significantly improve air travel for the 11 million passengers who utilize the Delta terminal at JFK each year. I commend Delta Air Lines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and John F. Kennedy Air Terminal for breaking ground today on this exciting project."

Terminal 4 improvements and customer benefits

Currently, Delta operates predominantly out of Terminal 2 for its domestic flights and Terminal 3, internationally. The expansion of Terminal 4 – which has been successfully managed by JFKIAT for more than a decade – will replace the outdated Terminal 3 facilities and enhance the customer experience for the 11 million passengers Delta serves at JFK annually. Delta anticipates that customers will experience an improvement in operational performance through dual taxiways, resulting in reduced taxi times and better on-time performance. They also will experience improved inter-terminal passenger connectors between Terminals 2 and 4.

The expanded Terminal 4 will have nine new international gates on the B Concourse. Customers also will benefit from enhanced baggage claim areas, and expanded Customs and Border Protection area. In addition, the consolidation of two passenger security checkpoints will create a more efficient, passenger-friendly, post-security environment for retail and food and beverage offerings.

Delta customers will benefit from the airline's ability to continue expanding its international network, which currently includes nonstop service to 96 global destinations from JFK and more than 1,200 weekly departures. International service includes nonstop flights to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, with new service to Reykjavik, Iceland beginning in June 2011.

Economic impact to the region

Since making a strategic decision to build New York into a hub earlier this decade, Delta has made major investments across the region, boosting its economic impact to more than $13 billion annually. Delta's current JFK operation generates 49,000 jobs in the region. The Terminal 4 expansion project will stimulate economic development regionally through direct on-airport jobs and construction related work, creating an additional 10,000 jobs in the New York Metropolitan Region by 2014. Over the next 60 months, the $1.2 billion project will generate $500 million of personal income in the region and $1.6 billion of economic output from the purchases of goods and services.

When completed, the total economic impact of Delta's New York operation will contribute more than $19 billion annually to the state.
Expansion project highlights

With construction underway, completion of phase one and relocation of Delta's Terminal 3 operations to Terminal 4 is anticipated in May 2013. Delta's JFK terminal project includes: the expansion of Concourse B at Terminal 4, including nine new international gates; the construction of a passenger connector between Terminal 2 and Terminal 4; expanded areas for baggage claim, Customs and Border Protection, and, ultimately, the demolition of Terminal 3, which will be completed for aircraft parking in May 2015.


JFKIAT LLC, which operates Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, is a 100% subsidiary of Schiphol USA (SUSA), a company within the Amsterdam-based Schiphol Group, a leading airport operator. JFKIAT is the only private, non-airline company to be selected by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to operate a terminal at JFK. The 1.5-million –square-foot Terminal 4 opened in May 2001 and reached an annual passenger volume of 9.5 million air travelers in 2009. Terminal 4 is one of the largest terminals in the New York area, serving nearly 40 international and domestic airlines.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Greeted by a roaring crowd of good cheer, Pres...Flight attendants no so happy with TSA's move for pilots

1:47 PM Fri, Nov 19, 2010

So the TSA caved to pilots, saying they don't have to get pat-downs. It didn't take long for a major flight attendant union to chime in about unfairness:

Flight attendants have submitted to the same finger printing and 10-year FBI background check as pilots. Flight attendants have completed required FAA mandated initial training and annual recurrent training in safety and security. Flight attendants have voluntarily taken additional TSA crewmember self-defense training on our own time and at our own expense since the federal government refused to make that training mandatory and fund it. Flight attendants are FAA -certified safety and security professionals.

In spite of the invaluable role that flight attendants play in air security, flight attendants are now being subjected to Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) or "enhanced" body patdowns that are not only invasive, but also humiliating and embarrassing for front line security professionals who put their lives on the line every day. Enhanced TSA screening of flight crews is not only unnecessary, it is a waste of TSA resources that should be directed at the real security risks.

This is from Thom McDaniel of Transport Workers Union 556 for Southwest Airlines, but I'd expect some similar upset from CWA-repped unions in fairly short order.

The flight attendants point about safety: Pilots lock themselves in cabins, and they have guns. Flight attendants actually profile passengers, make judgments about threats and in the case of the shoe bomber and underwear bombers, possibly keep everybody alive to tell the story by physically stopping things that passengers may be trying to do.
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Airbus A330, a new aircraft introduced in 1994 United Labor Issues Cloud Merger

By Ted Reed 11/19/10 - 12:01 PM EST

CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- The merger between Delta(DAL_) and Northwest may have created the false impression that it is easy to put two airlines together.

The United (UAL) Continental merger could well cause that concept to be rethought.

Already, the two pilots groups are bickering. The leader of the International Association of Machinists, the biggest union at United, is calling for snapbacks to 2002 wage and benefits. In several cases, work groups must negotiate contracts, then vote in union representation elections and then negotiate new contracts.

The stakes are particularly high for the Association of Flight Attendants and the IAM because both recently lost members they had at Northwest, which merged with Delta in 2008, and both face union representation elections to retain United or Continental members they already have.

In union elections at Delta this month, the merged carriers' flight attendants and fleet service workers voted not to organize. AFA had 7,000 Northwest flight attendants and IAM had 4,700 Northwest fleet service workers. Both unions are expected to appeal the results: Delta has said it followed the rules.

United does not require contract deals to complete the merger, already approved by regulators. . But United does not want the sort of conflict among work groups that continues to separate pilots at US Airways(LCC_), who are bitterly battling over seniority integration five years after a 2005 merger between US Airways and America West.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before work group mergers can begin to occur, open contracts must be signed at the two predecessor carriers. So far, just one of the 13 unionized work groups has a signed contract.

At old United, the IAM represents about 8,100 customer service agents as well as 7,900 fleet service workers. These workers, like most in the airline industry, signed concessionary contracts around the middle of the decade when four major carriers filed bankruptcy.

"We're not going to be the pawns that make it easy by saying 'we should take less so their merger can work,'" said Robert Roach, IAM general vice president. "We intend to get the best contracts for our members who are working under sacrifice contracts. We intend to snap back to where we were and get enhancements as well."

Snapbacks would be costly for United. In 2002, a top-scale fleet service worker earned $23.79 an hour and paid nothing for a family health care plan. Today, the same worker earns $21.01 an hour and pays $212 a month for the plan.

At Continental, about 9,500 IAM-represented flight attendants reached a tentative agreement in September. Then members rejected it. Tom Brickner, IAM airlines coordinator, said the agreement was a good one, with a no-furlough guarantee, profit sharing and wage hikes of 2.5%, 2.5% and 2% over three years. Compensation would have been $11.50 hour higher than what United flight attendants make, he said. The problem? Brickner said the union "viewed this agreement as a down payment on what the merger could produce [with] a second bite at the apple" after a representation election. Members would have a good contract in place as the process played out, he said. But too few flight attendants were convinced, and only about 60% turned out to vote.

On Friday, the IAM said that, at its request, the National Mediation Board has assigned a mediator to the negotiations, which are set to resume on Dec. 8. After a year of talks, "requesting the help of a federal mediator is the next logical step in the bargaining process," said negotiating committee member Sheila Hammond, in a prepared statement.

United's 13,500 flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants. "There's a lot of optimism about how this [merger] will be going forward," said Sara Nelson, spokeswoman for the United AFA chapter. "But at this point, people are still hurting, like they have been for the past decade, while waiting for [contract] improvements."

AFA's position in the representation election will be that it is best qualified to represent flight attendants, its only constituents. "We negotiate contracts based on priorities determined by flight attendants," Nelson said. "No other union offers that direct relationship." For their part, the IAM and the Teamsters, with more diverse memberships, say bigger is better. (IAM members also have the only defined benefit pension plan at United.)

The Teamsters represent mechanics at both United and Continental as well as 8,000 Continental fleet service workers. They will battle the IAM to represent the combined fleet service group. Currently, "we own everything under the wings except United [fleet]," said David Bourne, Teamsters airline division director. "That's a lot of clout."

Bourne said the Teamsters have good relationships with both Continental and United where, after replacing a weak AMFA local, the union brought back outsourced maintenance work. Bourne wants intensive United negotiations during the week of Dec. 6. "I don't like that the pace has slowed since we got the agreement with Continental," he said. "We want to resolve this and move forward."

As for pilots, they must negotiate both a new joint contract and an integrated seniority list, and the effort has hit a snag.

UAL In a letter to members, Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, said he will not accept the United pilots' contention that 747 pilots should be paid more than any other pilots. United has two dozen 747s and Continental has none. Pierce also said Continental pilots are willing to separate seniority list issues from contract negotiations, but some United pilot leaders are balking.

In another letter, Wendy Morse, head of the United ALPA chapter, contends that Continental pilots want compensation levels associated with groups of aircraft rather than single aircraft. She said she too wants seniority list integration and a new contract to be separate matters. But she noted that "while this has been advertised as a merger of corporate equals, that does not make it a merger of pilot groups with equal career expectations," reflecting the view that United pilots have greater prospects at the bigger airline.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

AA, American Eagle announce new flights
American Airlines and American Eagle announce new flights including NY, Chicago, Miami

On Thursday November 18, 2010, 3:59 pm EST

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines and its regional offshoot, American Eagle, said Thursday that they will begin additional flights to and from several cities, including New York and Chicago.

In New York, American launched daily service Thursday between Kennedy Airport and Rio de Janeiro and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The airline promoted the Rio service by offering to double miles in coach and triple them in business class for round trips taken by Dec. 10.

Eagle started daily nonstop service between Kennedy and Norfolk, Va., Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Eagle also started daily roundtrip service between Chicago's O'Hare Airport and Manhattan, Kan.

And Eagle launched twice-daily nonstops between Miami and Cleveland on 50-seat regional jets.

The airline also said it will add additional flights on current routes between Miami and several cities farther north, including Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
American and Eagle are owned by Fort Worth's AMR Corp.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An American Airlines Boeing 757-223 landing at... It's Five O'Clock Somewhere: American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection to Offer 5@5 Happy Hour
Happy Hour is a "Thank You" to Customers

Press Release Source: American Airlines On Wednesday November 17, 2010, 1:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season onboard American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection. Beginning Dec. 1, customers traveling on select flights are invited to enjoy cocktails, wine and beer at a discounted price of $5.

"As we wrap up the year, we want to show our customers that we appreciate their business. Offering an inflight happy hour is our small way of saying thank you," said Rob Friedman, American's Vice President – Marketing. "We know travelers have many options for air travel and the 5@5 happy hour enhances the travel experience for our customers while adding an element of fun onboard during the holiday travel season."

Throughout December, the 5@5 happy hour will be available onboard domestic, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico flights scheduled to depart between 5 p.m. and 5:59 p.m. Customers will enjoy a savings of $1 on beer and $2 on liquor and wine as a thank you for their loyalty. Happy hour prices will be offered for the duration of the flight. As always, American serves complimentary non-alcoholic beverages onboard.

For customers who wish to purchase food onboard, a choice of snack items is available in the Economy Class cabin on select American Airlines flights. Snack items available for purchase inflight vary, but may include a fruit and nut blend; cheese and cracker snack tray; Lay's Stax® Potato Crisps; or a MegaBite Cookie. On flights three hours or longer, fresh meal options may include a breakfast cafe croissant sandwich; breakfast cafe snack tray; and Boston Market sandwiches and salads. Food items for sale will vary on American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights. Customers can view all food for sale options offered inflight by visiting:

American Airlines, a founding member of the global oneworld® Alliance, is cashless and accepts major credit or debit cards for inflight purchases. American Eagle and AmericanConnection accept cash only for inflight purchases.
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Ryanair Boeing 737-800 shortly after takeoffImage via Wikipedia Furious Ryanair passengers protest in plane
More than 100 angry passengers refused to leave a Ryanair flight Wednesday after it was diverted to Belgium
– Wed Nov 17, 3:50 am ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – More than 100 angry Ryanair passengers sat in a dark cabin without food or water for four hours Wednesday, refusing to leave their plane after it was diverted to Belgium, authorities and passengers said.

The passengers, mostly French tourists who were supposed to land near Paris after returning from holidays in Morocco, refused to come out of the aircraft even after the crew had left it at the Liege airport in southern Belgium.

Reda Yahiyaoui, a business owner who was travelling with his wife, a two-month-old baby and a three-year-old, said the passengers had no water and the toilets in the plane were locked.
"The pilot left and he even left the
cockpit door open," he said.

After several hours of negotiations with furious passengers, officials convinced them to leave the plane and wait inside the airport for buses that would take them to their original destination, a firefighter told AFP.

"The negotiation was so difficult that we weren't sure they would come out," the firefighter said by telephone.

"People are obviously outraged. I'm just trying to look out for their well-being," he said.
Passengers on the plane told AFP that the flight had left Fes, Morocco, three hours late at 7:15 pm local time on Tuesday but had been unable to land in Beauvais,
France, because by that time the airport there had closed.

The plane landed in Liege at around 11:30 pm and passengers only agreed to come out after 3:30 am the next morning.

"This is unacceptable," Mylene Netange, who runs a network on social responsibility for business leaders, told AFP.

"The plane didn't land in Beauvais but in Liege without warning us. Consequently, we refused to leave the plane," she said.

A Ryanair spokesperson was not immediately reachable for comment.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) second te... Five-Day Wait for Beijing Flight Lures U.S. Airlines Into Asia
By Mary Jane Credeur - Nov 16, 2010 11:37 AM

One of Peter Philipp Wingsoe’s employees at a Los Angeles marketing firm recently waited five days for a business-class ticket on a United Airlines jet home from Beijing because planes were so packed.

Those crowds are spurring United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and other U.S. carriers to expand flights to Asia, lured by economic growth in China that’s triple the U.S. rate and new access to an airport nearer to downtown Tokyo.

“It’s been quite difficult, particularly getting last- minute flights,” said Wingsoe, 38, who makes about a half-dozen trips to Asia each year as managing partner at Entertainment Fusion Group. “There’s nothing open. Last year we could call the day of and get on, no problem.”

Wingsoe’s travels make him part of a surge in Asia/Pacific air traffic. The region’s 10.4 percent increase through September from a year earlier outpaced a 6.7 percent gain in North America and more than doubled Europe’s 4.4 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association.

United, which leads U.S. airlines in traffic to and from China, plans to start Los Angeles-Shanghai flights in May. American Airlines plans to add service on the same route and may fly to Hong Kong and Guangzhou as well. The economy in the world’s most populous nation expanded at an annual rate of 9.6 percent last quarter, compared with 3.1 percent in the U.S.

“China continues to be on fire,” Jim Compton, chief revenue officer for Chicago-based United, said on an Oct. 21 conference call.

Ramping Up
Delta said today it will add twice-weekly service between its largest hub in Atlanta and Shanghai in June, with five flights a week from Detroit to Beijing beginning in July. Tokyo- Guangzhou service will be introduced in April, the carrier said.

Flights from Seattle to Beijing and Detroit to Hong Kong are “ramping up very well” since their June debut, while Japan-Hawaii service is posting “especially strong results,” Delta President Ed Bastian said on an October conference call.

Hawaiian Holdings Inc.’s Hawaiian Airlines is also adding Asia flights, with service starting tomorrow between its hometown of Honolulu and Tokyo. Next up is Seoul in January, according to Hawaiian, the 11th-biggest U.S. airline by traffic.

They’re jockeying with carriers based in the region, including Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest airline. Singapore Airlines boosted a business-class-only flight to Los Angeles to seven days a week from five on Oct. 5, and did the same with a Singapore-Moscow- Houston flight.

Losses, Then Profit
Profit for the Asia-Pacific airline industry probably will be $5.2 billion this year, more than double an earlier forecast of $2.2 billion, IATA said in September.

China service was among the casualties for U.S. airlines as they cut seats in the recession, with service deferred to cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou. The eight largest carriers posted net losses of $15.1 billion in 2008 and $3.56 billion in 2009.

The group’s return to profit, with third-quarter net income of $2.44 billion, heralds a fresh round of expansion, said David Swierenga, president of consultant AeroEcon in Round Rock, Texas, and a former chief economist at the Air Transport Association trade group.
“When earnings start to improve, carriers look at putting another plane into service because they can make more money with it,” Swierenga said.

Driving Revenue
United said revenue from each seat flown a mile across the Pacific rose 41 percent last quarter from a year earlier, while Atlanta-based Delta had a 45 percent surge and American posted a 21 percent increase. It was the biggest gain in any region for United, Delta and Fort Worth, Texas-based American, the largest U.S. carriers.

U.S. airlines’ sales from overseas flights probably will rise about 10 percent in 2011, compared with about 1 percent for domestic service, William Greene, a Morgan Stanley analyst in New York, wrote yesterday in a note to clients. He recommends buying United, Delta and American parent AMR Corp.

The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 12 carriers climbed 29 percent this year through yesterday, topping the 7.4 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Trans-Pacific routes don’t have competition from discount carriers, giving airlines more control over pricing, Swierenga said. “The only pressure they face on these international markets is self-induced,” he said.

Carriers also prize the flights because corporate travelers will pay a premium for first or business class on trips of 10 hours or more, such as United’s nonstops between San Francisco and Shanghai.

$10,000 Fare
Wingsoe of Entertainment Fusion Group, which does marketing and brand placement, flew business class to Tokyo on Japan Airlines Corp. for $10,000 round trip last week to give a lecture at Tokyo University and meet with clients.

“These were not the prices we were paying a year ago,” Wingsoe said. “You could get that ticket for $3,500 if you planned ahead. Now it’s three times as much.”

U.S. airlines are still playing catch-up with Asian rivals on in-flight amenities. While Singapore Airlines offers private suites on Airbus SAS A380s, upgrades such as lie-flat seats and new entertainment screens are still being installed under Delta’s $1 billion plan to renovate all its transoceanic jets.

United recently installed semiprivate first-class suites on its Boeing Co. 747s and 767s on international routes, and American put semi-enclosed suites on 777s that fly to Tokyo.

Open-Skies Treaty’
A so-called open-skies treaty easing flight rules is letting U.S. airlines serve Tokyo’s Haneda airport for the first time in three decades. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways Co. already were able to make short-haul Asia flights there.

Delta will offer Haneda flights from Los Angeles and Detroit in February, while American flies from New York. Hawaiian’s Tokyo flights also will go to Haneda, a 13-minute train ride to Tokyo’s main loop rail line. Foreign carriers previously were restricted to Narita International Airport, 40 miles (70 kilometers) from downtown.

Wingsoe said he welcomes the Haneda service because it should save him an hour of transit time on future trips. His one concern: “Everyone else is going to want to fly to Haneda, too. There won’t be any seats.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Rolls-Royce Trent 900 on the prototype Airbus ...Image via Wikipedia Official to AP: Rolls-Royce replacing A380 engines
11/15/2010 11:58 AM
38m ago

Rolls-Royce will temporarily replace entire engines suffering from oil leaks on the world's largest jetliner after one motor suffered a frightening midair disintegration, an aviation regulator told The Associated Press on Monday.

By Michael Weissenstein, Associated Press

LONDON — Rolls-Royce will temporarily replace entire engines suffering from oil leaks on the world's largest jetliner after one motor suffered a frightening midair disintegration, an aviation regulator told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official said the British engine-maker would take off faulty engines and replace them with new ones. It will then fix the leaking part and swap the engine back again.

The official, who has been briefed by Rolls-Royce and some of the affected airlines, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Rolls-Royce declined to comment.

Leaking oil caught fire on Nov. 4 in one of the Qantas A380's four massive Trent 900 engines, heating metal parts and causing the motor's disintegration over Indonesia before the jetliner returned safely to Singapore. Experts say chunks of flying metal damaged vital systems in the wing of the Sydney-bound plane, causing the pilots to lose control of the second engine and half of the brake flaps on the damaged wing in a situation far more serious than originally portrayed by the airline.

Qantas grounded its six A380s within hours and said four days later that checks had revealed suspicious oil leaks in three engines on three different grounded A380s.

Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, which both use A380s with Trent 900 engines, have conducted checks on their superjumbos and all but one have returned to service, the airlines say.
Qantas' six superjumbos — the backbone of its longest and most lucrative international routes between Australia and Los Angeles, Singapore and London — remain grounded despite what experts say is financial pressure to fly them again. The removal of engines can be expected to cause longer delays and potential revenue losses.

"We are taking our normal and extremely conservative approach to safety and will not operate our A380 fleet until we are completely confident that it is safe to do so," Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton said.

It was not immediately clear what effect the replacement program would have on airlines expecting deliveries of new A380s, although Airbus said last week that the Trent 900 problems could be expected to delay deliveries.

Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon directed questions to Rolls Royce and said, "We're helping with the investigation in order to minimize disruption to customers."

Qantas was still hopeful of returning the A380s to service "in days, not weeks," Rushton said.
Rolls-Royce Group PLC, the world's second-largest engine maker, said Friday that it would be replacing an unspecified module, or collection of linked parts, on the Trent 900. Airbus said Rolls-Royce would also be equipping the engines with software to shut them down before an oil leak could cause an engine to disintegrate.

Rushton said three engines had been removed from Qantas A380s as part of a detailed inspection program ordered by Europe's air safety regulator and recommendations by Rolls-Royce.

Singapore Airlines, which grounded three of its 11 A380s after checks found oil leaks in three Trent 900s, said Monday that two were back in service after engine changes and that work was continuing on the third.

"We can't speak definitively about the number of engines that may ultimately require modification work as it needs to be stressed that investigations are continuing," Singapore Airlines spokesman Nicholas Ionides said.
Lufthansa declined immediate comment.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.Image via Wikipedia Would You Rather Risk Getting Cancer Or Just Get Your Privates Patted?
Nov. 12 2010 - 3:33 pm 3,797 views
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That seems to be the trade-off these days.

Get ready to decide when choosing which security line to go through in airport security. I’d probably rather get patted. I’m no expert on radiation exposure but the way these things usually work–with CT scanners, or cell phones–is that authorities start out saying “relax, everything’s perfectly safe.” Then a few years later they admit that well, maybe not, please accept our deepest apologies for exposing you to danger.

Choose line B and all you get is a bit of free affection from a government worker. (And how often does that happen at the DMV?) For me at least, getting patted is no big deal unless you have hang-ups. And here in Philadelphia, where carrying an illegal handgun is part of the local culture, you often get patted down to enter a night club or an Eagles game. Maybe I’m used to it.

The federal government has insisted ever since the TSA decided to install 300 full-body scanners, or strip searchers as critics call them, that getting a small dose of radiation is safe. Or it’s a small price to pay to avoid another Christmas Bomber. The feds even got seals of approval from the major medical societies, like the Radiology Society of North America. But it could be a bit of a smokescreen.

*I called up Dr. David Schauer, a retired naval officer and expert in radiation risk, who now runs the National Council on Radiation Protection. His group first published a report in 2003 that set the standards for the X-ray like body scanners now being employed at Reagan National and several other airports.
Read about a more recent version of the report here.

The NCRP’s recommendations form the basis of a lot of the conventional wisdom around dosage levels. (Not just for airports but for medical machines as well.) He says that the standard makes sense in the context of “what is the justification” for making people get radiation exposure. Given that terrorists are boarding planes with explosives that don’t set off medical detectors, you don’t need a lot of justification. He says that he, his wife and his three kids would have no problem getting body-scanned. I pressed him though. After all there’s another option, getting frisked. So putting aside the terrorist threat, are these X-ray-like machines even a slight health risk? Getting patted down clearly isn’t. He said he would send me some documents to read.

*A University of California, San Francisco med school professor made a splash today by saying beware of scanners. I first saw the
story here on CNET. Professor Joe Sedat says that even though the radiation dose may be low, it may be intense where it hits certain parts of the body like the cornea, the testicles or the skin. His point is basically: why take the risk. Seems like a good one. Here’s more from Sedat.

*The White House, facing an angry mob of sympathetic people (airline attendants, pregnant women), is trying to be transparent to avoid further controversy. In
this blog entry there are links to the letter from Sedat and his colleagues to the administration, and a response from the White House science advisor John P. Holdren. Holdren’s email says that the science is settled, the scanners are safe, and the problem is what the warden in Cool Hand Luke would call a failure to communicate. (I wonder if the President and the Homeland Security Department like getting that kind of feedback?) There’s also a link to correspondence from another administration scientist at the Department of HHS, who says that Sedat’s math is way off–that someone would need 1,000 scans to approach minimum levels of worrisome radiation exposure.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

British Airways Boeing 747-400 G-CIVI with spe... American, British Airways Win in Vegas
Ted Reed 11/11/10 - 10:26 AM EST

LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- British Airways hit the jackpot in Las Vegas.

UPA year after the carrier began daily service between Las Vegas and London's Heathrow Airport, regional sales director Kevin Burns proclaimed it "one of our most successful launches in recent years.

"It is one of the star-performing routes on the British Airways network," Burns said, in a prepared statement.

British Airways said it will boost service starting June 1, with a Boeing 747 replacing the 777 now on the route. That means the inauguration of first-class service as well as 62 added seats. The 777 has 275 seats while the 747 has 337 seats.

Among the beneficiaries is American(AMR_), which was awarded transatlantic anti-trust immunity with British Airways and Iberia in July.

Within the partnership, the carriers can share revenue on transatlantic flights. The nonstop Las Vegas-Heathrow flight "offers our customers the ability to fly directly [between Heathrow] and Las Vegas," said American spokesman Tim Smith.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. Transportation Department, as expected, gave its final clearance to transpacific antitrust immunity for two partnerships, one between United(UAL_), Continental and ANA, and the other between American and JAL.

Also Wednesday, the DOT approved Delta's(DAL_) request to operate daily Heathrow flights to Boston and Miami. The carrier will begin service on both routes on March 27, 2011. They will operate as part of an immunized joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia.

Regulators sought "to expand competition between the U.S. and Heathrow by making slots available for new entrants on these routes," said Delta Executive Vice President Glen Hauenstein, in a prepared statement.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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