Airline Finance News - North America.



US airlines asked customers on Thursday to lobby Congress on legislation to curb speculation in energy markets, which carriers blame for a 50 percent jump in fuel costs this year. Skyrocketing fuel prices have forced airlines to slash jobs and capacity, raise fares, retire planes and introduce luggage and other fees to survive. The letter signed by chief executives of Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines and other carriers told customers that more regulation is required to control oil market speculation. It was the second time in recent weeks that major airlines made a coordinated public push on the issue. On Friday, carriers plan to join unions, truckers, and other travel industry interests in another lobbying initiative. Multiple proposals in Congress seek to rein in what many US lawmakers and some energy experts also believe is excessive market speculation. The Senate may unveil legislation next week. The House of Representatives is holding hearings this week to hammer out its own bill. 7/11/2008

US airlines project up to USD$10 billion in losses in 2008 due to fuel costs that could top USD$61 billion this year. Some analysts believe fuel prices, if unchecked, could result in more bankruptcies. Executives said in their letter long established regulations to control speculators have weakened or been removed. "We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight," the CEOs wrote. The executives said some market experts estimate that current oil prices reflect USD$30 to USD$60 per barrel in speculative costs. Crude traded higher on Thursday at USD$136 a barrel, nearly USD$10 off its record high on July 3. 7/11/2008

US airlines and the Air Transport Assn. are reaching out to their customers to help control what they say is rampant speculation in oil futures that is contributing to today's record fuel prices. In an "open letter to all airline customers" signed by the heads of the 12 largest US passenger airlines, the CEOs ask them to urge Congress to tighten regulation of the oil futures market. The airlines, along with other transportation-related organizations, have formed a coalition, Stop Oil Speculation Now, and launched a website of the same name to draw support for their cause. Today, ATA President and CEO James May and other members of the coalition will hold a briefing in Washington to announce "commonsense solutions for immediately reducing record-high oil prices." The industry has not found sympathy for its position within the Bush Administration, however. Yesterday, DOT General Counsel D.J. Gribbin said that based on DOT's investigation, the current level of speculation is "not unusual at all." 7/10/2008

Skyrocketing fuel costs and the increasing popularity of the green movement are intersecting to create new interest in an old form of transportation: rail. In the U.S., ridership on Amtrak is breaking records. The House of Representatives has passed and sent H.R. 6003, a bill that authorizes $14.9 billion over 2009 to 2013 for rail programs administered by Amtrak, the states and the Department of Transportation, to the Senate. In Europe, where rail is much more of a transportation staple, Air France KLM is considering getting into the high-speed rail business. And everywhere, rail and airline operators are not just looking at ways to compete with each other; they are exploring new ways in which they can cooperate. The companies that are most often associated with providing information technology and distribution services to airlines are working with rail operators as well. Last month, more than 100 delegates gathered in Nice, France, for the second Amadeus Rail Forum. Among them were the expected rail operators and travel agents, but airlines and car rental companies were represented as well. 7/7/2008

Air Canada

Air Canada and Jazz Air flew 4.58 billion RPMs in June, a 1.9% increase year-over-year, while ASMs climbed 2.7% to 5.57 billion. Load factor dipped 0.6 point to 82.2%. 7/18/2008

Air Canada

Air Canada will lay off 632 flight attendants, representing 9 percent of its in-flight staff, as part of a round of cuts it announced in June to deal with runaway fuel prices, the country's biggest airline said on Thursday. Air Canada said it is cutting 300 flight attendant jobs as a result of a reduction in international long-haul flights from Vancouver. It is also shutting cabin-crew bases in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, meaning the loss of 332 jobs by November 1. Air Canada currently employs just under 7,000 flight attendants. They are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. After the cuts, the airline will be left with four cabin crew bases in Canada. 7/11/2008

AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways flew 1.89 billion RPMs in June, up 15.5% from the year-ago month. Capacity rose 13% to 2.23 billion ASMs and load factor improved 1.8 points to 84.7%. 7/16/2008

AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways will cut 180 pilots and 300 flight attendants effective Sept. 6, Senior VP-Marketing and Planning Kevin Healy told the Associated Press yesterday. The carrier said last week it would impose a 15% pay cut on officers and a 5%-8% cut on most staff. As for the job cuts, Healy said AirTran will offer voluntary leave for employees with at least five years of service in a deal under which medical benefits and flight privileges would be maintained for 6-12 months. The LCC had been bucking the capacity-reducing trend of US carriers over the past two years with major expansion, but owing to fuel costs and a slow economy it decided in the spring to slash capacity for the last third of 2008 and 2009. 7/7/2008

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines flew 1.69 billion RPMs in June, down 2% year-over-year, against a 0.2% lift in capacity to 2.12 billion ASMs. Load factor fell 1.8 points to 79.5%. 7/16/2008

Aloha Airlines, ATA Airlines

Hawaii has been awarded a $5.2 million grant to help workers affected by the shutdown of both Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines. The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday it would release $3.2 million of the grant to help the approximately 710 workers affected...

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