In other airline industry news this week…
- Delta Air Lines announced this week new interiors featuring lie-flat seats in BusinessElite and “slim line” seats with individual entertainment units as well as an Economy Comfort section in coach will be seen on all 747-400 aircraft by October 2012. A total of 48 seats will occupy the BusinessElite cabin in an angled herringbone configuration allowing aisle access from every seat. The Economy Comfort section will seat 42 passengers and offers up to four inches of additional legroom and 50 percent more recline than standard economy seating.
- A handful of original People Express executives announced the return of a rebranded PeoplExpress carrier on Monday. The new airline will be based at the Newport News-Williamsburg Airport in Virginia and expects to begin service this summer to Newark, Pittsburgh, Providence and West Palm Beach. COO Mike Morisi said service will be operated with single-cabin Boeing 737-400s and fares will be at a “pricing structure that is significantly more affordable than regional service provided by feeder airlines.”
- American Airlines posted a $1.1 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2011, accounting for half of the airline’s $2 billion loss for the full year. Executives mentioned much of the quarter’s loss stemmed from one-time charges attributed to reorganizing the company in bankruptcy. Jet fuel prices were also a factor and American paid an average of $3.01/gallon in 2011 versus $2.32 in 2010. The carrier expects to slash 13,000 jobs this year and is being very closely monitored by both Delta and US Airways for a possible acquisition.
- United Airlines this week confirmed it will adopt Continental’s “PetSafe” policy for transporting animals who don’t travel in the passenger cabin effective March 3. According to a company spokesperson, the rates aren’t significantly higher than the now current fees for checking an animal, with the exception of Japan whose government requires an extra fee be paid to a third-party handler. This change has many military families outraged as what cost some $130 when moving to Japan with their pet will now be in the $1,400 range under the new policy. PetSafe has been praised by pet transport professionals for taking exceptional care of animals in their care.
- Speaking of pets traveling in the cargo hold, more pets died on Delta Air Lines last year than any other carrier – 19 out of the total 35 reported deaths. Delta claims less than 0.2 percent of pets carried were injured or died while in its care and noted its size as the country’s largest carrier in terms of passengers carried often means it transports more pets than other airlines. Delta did institute changes to its policy and now bans certain types of dogs that are prone to respiratory problems. The Humane Society of the United States advises owners should not transport pets by air “unless absolutely necessary.”
- Low-fare carrier Spirit Airlines will resume service out of Denver this May. Daily nonstops to Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale and Las Vegas will commence on May 3 and enable passengers to connect to an additional 29 cities in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. Denver is a hub for United, Frontier and (effectively based on passenger volume) Southwest. While I’ve noticed United tends not to match Spirit’s fares, it remains to be seen what impact Spirit’s entry will have on Southwest and Frontier fares.
Finally, here are some Quick Hits: