New surcharge, United’s theme & auctions, American delisted, AirTran fined, Qantas pilots, Brussels-bound and 2011 profits

In other airline industry news this week…

  • As I expected and not at all surprising, American, Delta, United and US Airways have added a $6 roundtrip surcharge for flights to Europe to offset the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme. United’s 767-300s that fly to Europe hold a total of 183 passengers. If it goes out full in both directions, United will collect $1,098 in surcharge fees. I haven’t looked into what type of fees airlines will pay if they go over their allocated carbon emissions, but I can’t help but wonder if this might be a new mini-profit center for them.
  • In fantastically pleasurable news to myself – and many, many others – United Airlines has officially confirmed that “Rhapsody in Blue” will continue as their theme song. Phew. The tulip has wilted, but I’m happy to cling onto at least one aspect of “my” carrier that I’ve grown to love.
  • Staying with United for a moment, the carrier opened up exclusive experiences via MileagePlus that allow members to bid on a variety of auctions. I blogged back in April that I’d like the option to redeem miles on once-in-a-lifetime type events and United now offers some of them, including flight simulator rides, tickets to PGA Tour events and a host of other items.
  • American Airlines was officially delisted from the New York Stock Exchange this week for failing to hold a minimum share price of more than $1 for a consecutive 30 days. I remember when United suffered the same fate, but they’ve bounced back and I’m certain American will, too. Sadly, current shareholders will likely see their stake in the airline wiped out while the carrier reorganizes in bankruptcy.
  • AirTran Airways was fined $60,000 for failing to include a “prominent link” in an advertisement last fall that would take a customer to a page fully detailing additional taxes and fees. These type of fines will certainly be less frequent come January 26th when airlines will be required to advertise prices inclusive of such fees. I look forward to it, actually, as the prices we see will be all-in and represent the actual amount we have to pay.
  • With their reduction of international services, about 150 Qantas pilots have taken unpaid leave. The carrier has offered the option since the 2008 financial crisis and many pilots end up accepting jobs with overseas airlines. This is total conjecture, but one of my Cathay Pacific pilots on my trip last year had an Australian accent, so now can’t help but think he might be a Qantas pilot on leave.
  • Brussels Airlines, a Star Alliance member, is set to begin service to the United States on June 1, 2012. Daily flights between Brussels and New York’s JFK airport will commence at that time with two-cabin Airbus A330 aircraft, either the -200 or -300 series, according to the carrier.
  • Finally, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported this week that the world’s airlines netted $5 billion in profits for the third quarter of 2011, down from $9.71 billion for the same period in 2010. IATA also said passenger yields continue to increase due in part to “careful capacity management, particularly in the United States.”


  1. Not to minimize the impact that American’s bankruptcy has had on employees, vendors, shareholders, and communities, but it’s kind of sad that American’s stock was delisted after 72 years on the NYSE.

    But reading your note that “Rhapsody in Blue” is staying had the opposite effect, I’m glad it’s not being changed.

    Gershwin might not approve, but when I hear the song I think of the United commercial from the mid 90’s with the killer whales swimming inside at 747. Loved that commercial.

  2. I remember the good ‘ol days a few years back when United flight searched showed the real price, not the fare + fuel surcharge. I’m happy that those days are coming back.

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