Forty-eight hours before the Regional Airline Association staged its annual convention at the Phoenix Civic Center from May 18 to 21, the season’s first 100-degree day marked the start of another long, oppressive summer in the Sonoran desert of the American Southwest.
Memphis-based Northwest Airlines subsidiary Express Airlines I on May 8 officially changed its name to Pinnacle Airlines ahead of an initial public offering expected to raise $400 million.
Political and commercial agendas, both individual and collective, rarely allow for a wholly accurate assessment of the regional airline industry’s condition. With an array
of conflicting and ambiguous signals from within executive circles, trying to gauge industry prospects at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention in St. Louis would prove as frustrating as ever.
The board of directors of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines has elected company president and CEO Phil Trenary to join the seven-member board. Currently chairman of the RAA, Trenary joined Pinnacle Airlines on April 1, 1997, after a 12-year stint as head of Lone Star Airlines, the San Antonio-based Fairchild Metro operator he established in 1984. Trenary also serves as a director of EnVectra Hazardous Waste Management and Bancorp South.
United Airlines earlier this month formally rejected its code-share contract with Atlantic Coast Airlines, freeing the Sterling, Va.-based regional to speed preparations for its launch of Independence Air–the planned new discount carrier slated to fly from Washington Dulles Airport. The long-time partners have agreed to begin the separation process on June 4 and complete the divorce by August 5.
What started as an annoyance three years ago appears to have turned into a legitimate threat to the essence of the Air Line Pilots Association’s long-held strategy for protecting mainline pilot interests.
The regional airlines became an economic safety net of sorts after September 11, when the majors quickly realized they could not survive flying large airplanes nearly empty. The options–cut flights and market presence entirely or replace mainline jets with smaller aircraft–presented airlines with a clear course of action. Code-sharing regional airliners quickly delivered cost-effective solutions.
Pilot attrition proved the bane of the U.S. regional airline business during the first half of the year, forcing flight cancellations that cost carriers not only passenger revenue and goodwill, but performance penalties under the terms of their mainline code-share contracts. Judging by the sentiments airline CEOs expressed recently, better recruiting and training efforts have stopped the proverbial bleeding.
Embraer has launched a program to add as much as 300 nm of range to its 70-
and 76-seat E-Jets. Dubbed the E170AR and E175AR, the airplanes will receive the
The cyclical nature of the airline business showed its inevitability again at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Memphis, Tenn. More than 1,500 visitors passed through the turnstiles at the Memphis Convention Center–a record number for an RAA convention.