In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…
- Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are showing significant operating margins, 10.5% and 10.4% respectively, compared to American Airlines’ 0.60%. American continues to be burdened by the highest labor costs in the industry given it hasn’t filed for bankruptcy protection. Will 2012 be the year?
- United is rumored to begin Washington Dulles to Dublin service next year. It will possibly start in May of 2012 and the Irish Central reports the aircraft used will seat 180 passengers with a premium economy cabin of 50 seats. No such aircraft with that seating arrangement exists, so I’ll be watching to see if they put a 767-300 or 757-200 on that route. I think it’ll be the latter.
- US Airways is hiring. They claim they’ll bring 400 offshore jobs back to the U.S.A. by hiring in their North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada call centers as part of a union agreement. The carrier also staffs workers in their Liverpool, England center to handle international calls.
- Qantas has obviously been in the news this last week with their grounding of the fleet due to labor unrest. They’ve commenced flying and are now either offering free trips or refunds for travel planned during the lockout, among other benefits. I actually respect Alan Joyce for his decision and while I agree with the need for a beneficial union contract, unions should not hold the carrier hostage. I’ll be watching.
- Meanwhile, the Virgin brand continues to impress me as Virgin Atlantic is reportedly beginning to offer welcome cocktails and dessert to economy class passengers. New flatware, meals and after-meal options are coming in economy due to feedback from customers. According to an airline rep, “The new in-flight dining experience will feel much like a restaurant service.” They continue, “It has been many years since we last refreshed our economy meal service. We have listened to feedback from our passengers and cabin crew and have introduced some different and innovative items into our economy service and we have carefully separated dining into courses.”
- Airlines make a huge amount of money off of ancillary fees, but hotels are also making significant returns off of similar fees. Among the popular hotel fees are baggage holding, mini-bar restocking, resort “fees” (those that cover bottled water, in-room safes and fitness center dues) and the complimentary breakfast.
- United Airlines announced this week they will offer wireless internet on their entire fleet between 2012 and 2015. Delta already has fleet-wide Wi-Fi service, so it’s nice to see United has finally taken a stance and publicly announced service. It’ll be rolled out across fleet types individually, with the Continental Boeing 737s equipped with LiveTV appearing first.
- Boeing announced their break even for the 787 program equates to 1,100 units sold. Predecessor aircraft including the 747, 767 and 777 enjoyed a break-even mark of about 400 units sold. Still though, I can’t wait to travel on one especially in a premium cabin. Seth recently reviewed his experience on the bird and I’m hoping to take the United/Continental version for a ride next year to Auckland.