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Archive for December, 2007

  • Alitalia sold three slots at Heathrow Airport for $133 million. Details here. [Today in the Sky]
  • Cranky takes a wistful walk through 2007’s airline graveyard. [The Cranky Flier]
  • Austin, Texas, declines to host the gadfly Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights [Aero-News.Net]

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China, UAE, Russia

Here’s an all-international edition of Daily Departures:

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Merry Christmas, everyone!

With my warmest wishes for a happy holiday, here are some Daily Departures to tide you over:

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Flickr user Carl Puentes Photography. Used through a Creative Commons license.

The federal government has reached an agreement to cap flights at JFK. Here is the press release announcing the agreement. Let’s take a look at what the government is doing:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today announced new measures to reduce airline delays over the holiday season and new actions designed to reduce congestion in the New York area starting next summer. . . . She said the new measures developed at the direction of President Bush this fall include an agreement to cap hourly operations at JFK International Airport, plans for hourly limits at Newark and capacity improvements for the region, and were based on input from a multi-month process that involved airlines, airports and consumer advocates.

The agreement among the major airlines serving JFK caps the number of flights at either 82 or 83 per hour, depending on the time of day, Secretary Peters said. The hourly caps will take effect March 15, 2008 and will be in place for 2008 and 2009. Airlines will be able to shift their flights to times of the day when the airport has unused capacity, allowing 50 more flights per day than were offered last summer – just more reasonably spaced, she said.

So it’s a voluntary agreement. I’ve got some questions: were all the airlines at JFK involved? If not (as I suspect), then who was left out? Will foreign carriers with schedules to keep at foreign hubs be able to hold onto their slots in the crowded evening rush hour? How will new entrants be affected? There aren’t details on this. I suspect that the only airlines who could reshuffle are the ones who have begun to do so: Delta, JetBlue, American, and other U.S. carriers. Delta earlier this year began shifting some of its long-hauls to depart before the evening rush hour. There are a lot of questions to be answered before the agreement can be assessed.

The Secretary also directed the FAA to enter into negotiations to set hourly caps at Newark International Airport, so that flights aren’t simply shifted there, erasing gains made at JFK. Effective today, Secretary Peters also announced new take-off patterns at Newark and Philadelphia International Airport that will allow aircraft to fan out after take off and provide more options for aircraft waiting to depart.

Newark’s delay problem is actually worse than JFK’s–it is home to Continental’s massive domestic/transatlantic hub and also serves many long-haul foreign carriers. Whoever wrote this press release seems to be under the bizarre delusion (often seen in the media) that Newark is some underused, provincial, backwater airport. (more…)

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Airports in the United States are almost always owned and operated by municipal or county authorities. (In a few cases, like Indianapolis and Chicago Midway, private companies have managed airports for the authorities.) These airports lease gates to airports in long-term leases, and then that airline has exclusive use of those gates. Most big-city airports have extra space to accommodate new entrants or airlines wishing expand service, as airlines rarely wish to lease more gates than they need. In some cases, however, gate unavailability has limited the entrance of new carriers. (Issues like this have threatened US Airways international expansion in Philadelphia.)

Airlines who lease gates at airports usually offer the same amenities to all airlines/tenants: baggage facilities, concessions, and the like, which means that gate-lease fees vary little. If there is competition for amenities and fees, it is among airports. For example, Providence and Manchester offered lower fees and attracted discounters like Southwest unwilling to pay the higher fees of Boston’s center-city Logan Airport. The same applies for Miami versus Fort Lauderdale, Orlando International versus Orlando Sanford, and several others. There has been until now little competition within U.S. airports for fees and amenities.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas is now attempting to pull this off. Its only passenger terminal, the Barbara Jordan Terminal, is fully occupied and leased. So, to add significant service, it will need to build more space. But this new space is intended to serve the super-discount airlines like Skybus and Mexico’s vivaAeroBus that Austin wants to attract. Back in June, it began negotiations with GE Commercial Airline Services (GECAS) to build and operate a no-frills terminal at Bergstrom. GECAS would operate the terminal for thirty years, and it would be expressly designed for super-cheap airlines, with neither luggage facilities nor assigned gates. Gate fees at the GECAS terminal would presumably be much less than those at the Jordan terminal. (more…)

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President Bush signed the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act on Thursday, a few hours after the Senate passed it. See my analysis of the bill here.

Age 65 becomes law [ATW Daily News]

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