Delta Air Lines reported a hefty first-quarter loss of $318 million, significantly widened from a deficit of $256 million in the year-ago period, as a 29% rise in fuel costs added $483 million to the operating expense ledger in the current period.
Boeing's troubled 787 program received a setback Wednesday when the federal National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the company for "unlawfully transferring work to a non-union facility." The charge, brought by NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, relates to Boeing's decision in 2009 to open a second Dreamliner assembly line in South Carolina to assemble three aircraft per month, complementing the facility in Everett that will eventually assemble seven per month.
Southwest Airlines earned $5 million in the first quarter, a 54.5% decline compared to $11 million earned in the year-ago period but a solid showing in view of rapidly rising fuel costs and tough winter weather.
JetBlue Airways overcame soaring fuel prices and severe winter weather on the East Coast to eke out a modest net profit of $3 million in the three months ended March 31, a $4 million positive swing from a loss of $1 million in the year-ago period.
Longtime airline equities analyst Jamie Baker of JP Morgan has called on US legacy carriers to develop a new pricing model better able to cope with the roller coaster fluctuations in the price of oil. In a brief investment report on Tuesday, he wrote, "We can think of few consumer products that can be purchased up to 330 days prior to consumption, where the manufacturer or service provider has virtually no knowledge or control over their largest input cost [fuel]."
Although the US and EU remain apart on several key aeropolitical issues such as foreign ownership, airport security and the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, European Commission VP Transport Siim Kallas expressed optimism that the divide can and will be bridged.
A virtual who's who of airline trade groups have united to urge the European Commission not to revise slot allocation rules at EU airports. Groups in favor of maintaining the status quo include the Arab Air Carriers Organization, the Assn. of Asia Pacific Airlines, the Assn. of European Airlines, the Air Transport Assn., the European Low Fare Airlines Assn., the European Regional Airlines Assn., the International Air Carrier Assn. and IATA.
US-China open skies and antitrust immunized joint ventures between US and Chinese carriers cannot occur until Washington loosens its visa restrictions on Chinese citizens traveling to the US, Air China VP and GM North America Zhihang Chi said Thursday.
"We don't need open skies. Without visa liberalization we don't have enough passengers to fill the planes," Chi told the Phoenix International Aviation Symposium, adding that airlines have many unused frequencies to US destinations owing to the difficulties Chinese visitors face in obtaining visas.
US Airways has not made a decision on whether to install Aircell's Gogo onboard Wi-Fi across its domestic fleet. At present, only the carrier's Airbus A321s are equipped and usage is very low, according to President Scott Kirby, who told reporters at the US Airways media day Wednesday that it averages "below 5%" while "breakeven is north of 20%." However, he also expects that onboard connectivity eventually will become prevalent among US carriers for competitive reasons.
US NTSB has pulled the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of the Southwest Airlines 737-300 that experienced an inflight decompression event on Friday afternoon in which a hole, estimated by witnesses at up to four feet in length by 1 foot in width, opened in the ceiling of the passenger cabin leading to rapid loss of pressurization.
As this issue went to press, the fate of the damaged nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant and the risk of widespread nuclear contamination remained unknown. What was known was that the strongest earthquake to hit Japan since records have been kept had devastated towns and cities and unleashed a tsunami that swept thousands to their deaths,
carrying off whole villages and leaving in its wake a thick, foul coating of muck where crops once grew and livestock ranged.
Representatives of the Spanish government, Iberia and Airbus signed an agreement Wednesday to develop "a complete Spanish ‘value chain’ for sustainable and renewable aviation biofuel for commercial use."