In the News

US Airways Opposes Philadelphia International Airport Expansion Plan

By Linda Loyd, Inquirer Staff Writer
January 09, 2012

US Airways Group Inc. is taking the gloves off and going public with its opposition to a planned multibillion-dollar expansion of Philadelphia International Airport, key to which is a new runway along the Delaware River.

The move by US Airways, backed by other airlines, throws the massive airport project into turmoil after a decade of reviews. Philadelphia officials say they will push ahead with or without airline support - even though airlines will pay much of the bill and could cut service here.

Philadelphia's biggest airline says another runway would not noticeably reduce delays for passengers because congestion is caused largely by traffic in the skies.

Nor would a new runway, which would be built partly on fill in the river and which would require moving United Parcel Service's large airfreight facility, attract coveted nonstop international service to Asia, South America, and Africa that the business and hospitality communities want, says the airline that transports nearly 70 percent of air travelers here.


Delta and US Airways Use New Slots Differently

By Ted Reed
The Street

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- US Airways said Tuesday it will use its new slots at Washington Reagan National Airport to serve medium-size cities.

That represents a contrast with the course Delta is taking at New York LaGuardia, where Delta will use its new slots to focus on serving business travelers in major markets.

In a recently approved trade, US Airways gets 42 slots at National, while Delta gets 132 slots at LaGuardia, enabling it to be the largest carrier at LaGuardia as well as at New York's Kennedy International Airport.

US Airways' changes, including adding 11 destinations -- eight of which have no service to National - will take place March 25. The move fortifies its position at National, where it already dominates.

"US Airways is focusing on connecting underserved markets, mostly in the Southeast, to Washington and through DCA to the Northeast," says airline consultant Sandy Rederer. "But Delta is adding LaGuardia service to hub airports of other airlines along with a number of the smaller, short-haul routes that will be dropped by US Airways Express."

The eight added cities are Birmingham, Ala.; Fayetteville and Jacksonville, N.C.; Islip, N.Y.; Little Rock, Ark., and Pensacola, Tallahassee and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Additionally, US Airways will add service to Memphis, Tenn.; Omaha, Neb.; and Ottawa, Ontario, which have service on other carriers, and to Bangor, Maine; and Savannah, Ga., where it already offers weekend service. Also, a sixth daily nonstop to Hartford, Conn., will be added. All will be provided by US Airways' regional partners.

Pilot Fatigue

North Carolina News Network (NCNN)

A group representing pilots of Charlotte-based US Airways has expressed concern over inconsistencies in a new rule addressing pilot fatigue.

The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) believes some areas of the new Flight and Duty Time rule are in conflict with the FAA's stated goal of One Level of Safety.

A statement, released Tuesday by the USAPA, says it welcomes the long overdue rest rule, and acknowledges that positive steps were taken to mitigate fatigue. However, USAPA believes some areas of the rule are in conflict with the stated goal of the improving passenger safety.

USAPA President Captain Mike Cleary stated, "The new rule demonstrates troubling inconsistencies in its application to cargo operations and, therefore, fails to meet the FAA’s stated goal of One Level of Safety ... The final rule exempts cargo carriers from adhering to the flight and duty regulations, allowing them to opt out of the new rule." President Cleary continued, "USAPA strongly supports One Level of Safety – what’s safe for one pilot is safe for all, and these new rules fail to incorporate that commitment.

"All pilots are subject to the same physiological needs regardless of the type of air carrier operations. The new rule fails to acknowledge that basic fact by exempting certain segments of air transport ... Fatigue is fatigue, regardless of whether you're carrying passengers or cargo."

The new rule is the result of efforts to address pilot fatigue, brought to light primarily as a result of the fatal accident of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo, NY that occurred in May 2009.

Headquartered in Charlotte, the USAPA represents the more than 5,000 mainline pilots who fly for US Airways.

CAPA Refutes the New Flight/Duty Time Regulations

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) representing over 28,000 commercial passenger and all-cargo pilots is highly concerned with the Flight and Duty Time final rules released earlier today. CAPA has long advocated for "One Level of Safety" and believes that the final rules create a second tier of safety that is unacceptable and runs counter to the Flight and Duty Time NPRM recommendation. Pilots are subject to the same biological principles regardless of the type of air carrier operations.

Captain Carl Kuwitzky, president of CAPA stated, "It is clear that the FAA has completely missed the mark on the Flight and Duty Time rules and the Charter dictated to them by Congress". He further added, "The idea that a "carve-out" provides all-cargo carriers to "opt in or out" of this new rule fails to meet the mandate of "One Level of Safety". There must be industry standard rules that provide safe transportation services regardless of the cargo in the rear of the aircraft".

Pilot fatigue is an ever present threat to the safety of the travelling public and has been identified on the NTSB's "Most Wanted" list of regulatory changes for two decades. The final rules would exempt non-scheduled carriers from adhering to the current flight and duty regulations and allow a different set of pilot duty and rest rules.

CAPA supports industry standard rules for providing safe transportation services to the flying public and people around the world. "It is vitally important to the safety of our nation’s aviation transportation system that rules be implemented that provide for one level of safety", Captain

Kuwitzky said, "the FAA has failed to meet their mandate."

(CAPA Press Release)

What if US Airways and American Airlines Merged?

By Martin Rivers

The decision by American Airlines to file for Chapter 11 protection may present the best opportunity yet for rival US Airways to bag a sorely needed consolidation partner. Having previously bid for Delta Air Lines in 2006 and United Airlines in 2008, US Airways CEO Doug Parker has made no secret of his wish to secure a merger. And with American Airlines now facing a wave of cost-cutting, analysts say Parker wants a deal now more than ever.

US Airways Latecomer to the Consolidation Party

Over the past decade, the overcrowded U.S. airline industry has gradually consolidated in response to a wave of major shocks – most notably the 9/11 terror attacks and the global financial crisis. Three years after filing for bankruptcy in 2005, Delta Air Lines and Northwest merged to become the world's largest airline. Similarly, United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines last year following its own Chapter 11 move, creating United Continental Holdings.


Pressure Mounts on US Airways to End Pilot Dispute

By Martin Rivers

US Airways is redoubling efforts to end its dispute with pilots in the wake of the recent Chapter 11 filing by American Airlines. The carrier, formed in 2005 through a merger with America West, has locked horns with the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) over perceived inequality in conditions for pilots. Though less worrisome than the pay row which felled American Airlines, the dispute has already undermined operations and risks derailing future merger bids. Our analysis below shows how ongoing wrangling could impact on the stock.

Brand Damage Could Run to Hundreds of Millions

The dispute has its roots in US Airways' bankruptcy filings in 2002 and 2004, which saw pilots accept deep salary and benefit cuts in a bid to restore competitiveness. When the carrier later took over America West, the two groups of pilots could not agree how to merge their contracts, prompting the US Airways pilots to break away and form USAPA.


Airlines Association Rebranding Its Organization

A Message from Nicholas E. Calio:

For many years, the Air Transport Association's ATA SmartBrief has provided our subscribers with the most relevant daily news on every aspect of the airline industry.

America's airlines are critical to enabling our local, national and global economies, and our 21st-century way of life. Airlines have changed the way the world does business, facilitating trade and safely and efficiently connecting people and products -- around the country and across the globe. In the 75-plus year history of our association, we have supported America's airlines as they grew into today's indispensable facilitators of the global economy, now transporting more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. That growth and new direction are reflected in our new name: Airlines for America, new tagline We Connect the World, and new visual identity.

Along with our name change to Airlines for America (A4A), we also have revamped and renamed this newsletter to Airlines for America SmartBrief, or A4A SmartBrief, which will continue to deliver the daily, need-to-know airline industry news that you have come to rely on.

Nicholas E. Calio
President and CEO
Airlines for America

Click here to read today's press release regarding the rebranding effort.

"Seriously Deficient" Handling of UAL Bankruptcy by PBGC and Contractor, Detailed Evaluation Shows

Press Office: Democrats - Committee on Education & the Workforce

WASHINGTON – An evaluation released today by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s Inspector General found that the processing of United Airlines' terminated pension plans beginning in 2004 was seriously deficient due to systemic failures in auditing the plans, citing a number of errors and omissions committed by PBGC’s outside contractors and PBGC itself. The detailed evaluation was initiated in response to a 2009 request by Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

These errors may have affected pension plan participant's benefit calculations. The Inspector General warned that ongoing efforts by PBGC to correct these problems have been unsuccessful thus far. 

In response to the disturbing results of the Inspector General’s evaluation, Miller called on the Board of Directors of the PBGC to take immediate steps to identify and correct the mistakes made in the valuation of plan assets and benefit calculations of United Airlines pension recipients. Miller also asked the that the PBGC board provide a timeline to let plan beneficiaries know whether and by how much their benefits were impacted by the botched audits.


Why US Airways Wants a Deal With American

By Ted Reed
The Street

AMR's (AMR) bankruptcy filing is no doubt viewed as an opportunity by US Airways (LCC), which has long seen a merger with a major carrier as the best way to assure its long-term survival.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker has said frequently that bankruptcy court is the best place to accomplish a merger, because a filing enables reductions in labor costs and reduction or elimination of lease costs for aircraft, airport space and office space.

In the past seven years, Parker has bid for four airlines, three of which were in bankruptcy. In 2004, as CEO of America West, he bid for bankrupt ATA. In 2005, he oversaw a merger with bankrupt US Airways.

In 2006, he bid for bankrupt Delta (DAL). In 2008, he sought a merger with United (UAL), following a course set by predecessor Steven Wolf, who pursued United in 2000.

Now, in every corner of the airline industry, speculation abounds that Parker will make a move on American in bankruptcy court.


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