American Eagle has begun cutting capacity among its Saab 340 and ATR turboprop fleets to comply with a clause in the American Airlines pilot contract that requires the company to freeze its regional subsidiary’s ASMs. The reductions in turboprop capacity come as the airline introduces its new fleet of 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700s, the first of which entered service January 31 on routes between Dallas and Oklahoma City and Houston.
British Airways announced it is taking over France-based L’Avion, the last remaining all-business-class carrier on a transatlantic route. The 18-month-old startup airline will be merged with BA subsidiary OpenSkies. The two operators have been code-sharing for less than one month between Paris Orly and New York. OpenSkies and L’Avion use JFK and Newark Airports, respectively.
Delta Air Lines notified Pinnacle Airlines last month that it intends to dissolve their Delta Connection contract effective July 31. Delta cited Memphis-based Pinnacle’s failure to meet contractually guaranteed on-time performance rates for its decision. In late May a federal judge blocked Delta’s attempts to end its contract with Mesa Air Group’s Freedom Airlines subsidiary for the same stated reason.
A private equity investment and advisory firm has been founded by William Koch. Sutherland Companies, based in Dallas, will specialize in investments in aviation-related companies through its Sutherland Ventures group.
Avolar, the “stand alone” UAL Corp. subsidiary created in April to launch a new business aviation venture, has declared that despite the September 11 terrorist attacks and their devastating impact on America’s aviation industry, “Our business plan is unchanged; however, Avolar is now seeking equity investors to share the burden of funding.” Avolar was originally created as United BizJet Holdings.
Bombardier CL-600-2B19 CRJ, Hilo, Hawaii, Feb. 13, 2008–The Mesa Airlines Go! flight from Honolulu to Hilo overflew its destination airport, Hilo International/General Lyman Field, in cruise. When the airplane was at 21,000 feet the controller tried unsuccessfully several times in 25 minutes to contact the crew, not reaching them until they were 15 miles beyond the airport.
The DOT has awarded Hawaii’s Island Air the rights to fly three EAS routes from Kansas City International Airport now served by Mesa Air Group subsidiary Air Midwest. The Mesa-owned Beech 1900 operator filed a 90-day notice to withdraw from Joplin, Mo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and Harrison, Ark., on January 22, but EAS rules require it to stay until a replacement airline begins service.
British Airways (BA) ditched its business jet charter service just six months after launching it with charter broker Air Partner, the result of cost-cutting after September 11. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic said it is reconsidering its plans to operate business aircraft through a program dubbed Virgin Jetset.
The profound damage inflicted by the September 11 terrorist attacks brought changes to the U.S. airline industry the most prescient observer could not have envisioned three months ago. Twenty-percent industrywide capacity cuts, furloughs and layoffs, large-scale route transfers from mainline carriers to regional affiliates and aircraft delivery deferrals have all marked one of the most volatile periods in the industry’s history.
The 843 pilots hired by six major fractional aircraft ownership companies in the first nine months of this year were about 30 percent fewer than the 1,210 frax pilots hired in the same period last year, according to employment tracking firm AIR. Nearly 1,400 frax pilots were hired during all of last year, compared with just 581 in 1999.