In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…
- American Airlines announced their intention to cut costs by more than $2 billion annually this past Wednesday through a combination of job cuts, pension overhaul and fleet optimization. The carrier is expected to work with the labor groups targeted for layoffs and if they can’t come to an agreement, American will ask the court to cut about 4,600 maintenance workers, 4,200 baggage handlers, 2,300 flight attendants, 400 pilots and 1,400 management positions.
- A long-term bill funding the FAA passed in Congress this past week finally ending a string of “short-term” extensions of the previous version that expired in 2007. The full agreement includes provisions for a Next Generation air traffic modernization program slated to end ground-based radar and bring the U.S. into the 21st century with GPS technology. Other changes will include tweaking the Essential Air Service program where smaller communities receive scheduled airline service, modifying the rules of airline union voting practices and a slot allocation for transcontinental flights out of Washington’s Reagan-National Airport.
- Spirit Airlines has added a new fee to all one-way fares in defiance of the new U.S. DOT rules requiring fares to be advertised inclusive of all government taxes and fees and allowing a 24-hour period with which to pay for airline tickets. Calling it the “Department of Transportation’s unintended consequences fee”, the carrier claims the 24-hour policy will hurt availability of seats causing load factors to fall. Fares with the airline now include this $2 one-way surcharge.
- The “No-fly” list recently doubled and now includes about 21,000 names, including 500 Americans. According to TSA head John Pistole, federal, state and other law enforcement agencies “continue to identify people who want to cause us harm, particularly in the U.S. and particularly as it relates to aviation.”
- While not as severe as American’s losses, Hawaiian Airlines reported a net loss of $2.6 million for 2011 and noted net income on an adjusted basis was $43.2 million, excluding fuel expenses and a non-recurring lease termination charge of $70 million for 15 Boeing 717 aircraft. The carrier’s CEO is optimistic looking ahead and remains committed to operational growth while at the same time controlling costs.
- Early next month, Virgin Atlantic will open a new Clubhouse at JFK airport in Terminal 4. The new lounge will be near the gates vs. outside of security as is the current situation. Senior Vice President-North America, Chris Rossi, said “the new space will create a unique experience for our passengers to complement our flagship Clubhouse and Revivals Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.”
- LodgeNet, the largest provider of hotel room television services, has a free mobile app out there now that turns smartphones into hotel room remote controls. There are about 2,000 hotels in the U.S. with the LodgeNet service and this new app includes information about the specific hotel you’re staying at, local events, attractions, directions and restaurants in addition to acting as a remote control. The company’s CEO quoted research that “forty percent of users ages 18 to 34 prefer to control their TVs with a smartphone or tablet instead of a remote.”