Tag Archives: AA

American’s ‘green’ test flight canceled; may be rescheduled

Last week, we reported AA’s plans to test fuel-saving measures using satellite navigation on a B767 flight from CDG to MIA.  According to the Dallas Morning News, that test was canceled due to mechanical problems with the plane.

On his “Airline Biz” blog, DMN reporter Eric Torbinson implies he has heard from the airline that the test will be attempted at a later date, but no source is explicitly cited.

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AA sees fuel savings “if we can get the regulators and rules out of the way”

In a Chicago Tribune article about Thursday’s AIRE demo flight, American Airlines captain and spokesman Brian Will had this to say:

“For years, we’ve had all this great equipment on the airplanes, but we are not able to use a lot of these things because of what essentially are speed bumps caused by an outdated air-traffic system,” said Brian Will, a Boeing 777 captain at American who is also the airline’s technical programs manager. “This flight from Paris’ Charles De Gaulle to Miami International will show what can be accomplished — several thousands of pounds of fuel saved on that one flight — if we can get the regulators and the rules out of the way,” Will said. [..]

“Airplanes using GPS can report their real-time position anywhere on the planet with accuracy of 20 feet,” Will said. “We have the tools today and really shouldn’t be forced to wait until 2020.”

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American Airlines flying CDG-MIA demo under AIRE initiative

From the Miami Herald:

Thursday’s flight will use GPS signals virtually all the way, instead of conventional ground-based radio navigation beacons. A similar Paris-Miami flight by Air France is scheduled for Tuesday, according to the FAA — but the French airline could not be reached for comment.

Brian Will, an American Airlines captain, described the event as a gate-to-gate demonstration flight in which the airline and air traffic control in Europe and the United States will coordinate new technical capabilities and ”tailored arrival” procedures in which aircraft descend at reduced power from cruising altitude to approach without leveling off at intermediate altitudes — the traditional step-down method.

The air traffic controllers union is skeptical.

”The FAA has gone to great lengths to advertise NextGen as the panacea to all issues involving our enormous air traffic control system,” Jim Marinitti, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Local MIA, and Mitch Herrick, the local’s vice president, said in a statement. “The event scheduled for this week with the American Airlines aircraft is simply a publicity stunt. The flight will be using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that we have been using for years.” [..]

American Airlines said the flight is part of AIRE, an initiative stemming from the Europe/U.S. Open Skies treaty. AIRE stands for Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions, a joint project involving the FAA, the European Commission and several global airlines to speed application of new technologies and procedures to reduce noise and carbon emissions.

Other sources: Associated Press wire, AA press release.

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Trade groups, airlines lobby jointly for stimulus funds

from Bloomberg:

U.S. airlines and small-jet owners have joined forces to lobby for $4 billion in economic-stimulus aid, setting aside a two-year dispute over air-traffic control costs.

Nine Washington-area trade groups representing carriers, plane users such as PepsiCo Inc., and manufacturers including Boeing Co. are seeking aid to advance the government’s so-called Next Generation overhaul of air-traffic control technology. They say they want to ensure lawmakers don’t overlook aviation in the $775 billion stimulus plan proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.

“There’s recognition amongst all of us that the only way we’re going to move NextGen is if we’re united,” said Sharon Pinkerton, vice president for government affairs at the Air Transport Association, in an interview.

Those groups include the Air Transport Association, Regional Airline Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Aerospace Industries Association, National Business Aviation Association, Cargo Airline Association, Nationa Air Carriers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

In speaking about a possible stimulus package last week, American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey told reporters he felt his industry should benefit. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“I would like to think that the airline industry would merit a great deal of attention,” [Arpey] said. Airlines, rocked by skyrocketing fuel costs through the summer, were subsequently faced with an economic slowdown that has curtailed demand.
“We seem to have experienced an almost seamless transition in which our fuel cost crisis has been replaced by a potential air travel demand crisis,” Arpey told reporters.

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UPDATE: Crew rest lawsuit

BusinessWeek magazine published a non-subscription article about the lawsuit brought by a group of airlines against the FAA last month.

The airlines say that the Federal Aviation Administration bypassed usual rule-making procedures and denied them the right to comment before it notified American Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc. of the new rules in late October.

The petition was filed Dec. 24 in the federal appellate court in Washington by American, Continental, UAL Corp.’s United Airlines, US Airways, JetBlue and two smaller carriers.

In their filing, the airlines said the new requirements would saddle them with “substantial burdens and costs.” They charged FAA did not show how the rules would improve safety.

It’s interesting that JetBlue joined the suit, given that it doesn’t currently serve destinations outside the Americas. US Airways is adding flights to Tel Aviv in 2009 and has said it wants to serve Asian destinations from Philadelphia in the future.

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AA, CO sue FAA over proposed crew rest rules

The Wall Street Journal reports (article is subscription only; brief summary here) that American Airlines and Continental Airlines have sued the FAA over a proposal that would raise the minimum rest time for flight deck crew on “ultra long-range flights.” Pilots who work these routes, defined as 16 hours or longer, must currently rest 24 hours between flights; the proposal would require 48 hours.

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Earnings report: Q3 fuel costs hit airlines hard

Three of the nation’s largest air carriers reported stiff underlying quarterly losses on Thursday, with American Airlines parent AMR reaching profitability only through the sale of financial firm American Beacon Advisors. (Stories here and here.)

AMR said its third-quarter net profit amounted to $45 million, or 17 cents per share. [..]
Excluding the sale of American Beacon Advisors and other items, AMR said it lost $360 million, or $1.39 per share, compared with forecasts for a loss of $1.36 per share, according to Reuters Estimates. [..]
The company reported revenue of $6.4 billion, an 8 percent gain over the year-ago period.

Delta, which is buying Northwest Airlines Corp (NWA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to form the world’s largest airline by traffic, reported a quarterly net loss of $50 million, or 13 cents per share. [..]
Delta increased operating revenue 9 percent to $5.7 billion, even though it reduced its flying capacity in the quarter, helped by strong trans-Atlantic business, higher fares and more fees. But the airline’s operating costs increased $814 million, or 17 percent, almost entirely due to higher fuel.

Continental Airlines Inc. said Thursday it swung to a $236 million loss in the third quarter from a year-ago profit as it battled high fuel costs and weather disruptions at its big Houston hub.
Revenue rose nearly 9 percent to $4.16 billion, beating analysts’ $4.11 billion forecast. [..]
Hurricane Ike, which shut down Houston airports for more than two days last month, cost the airline about $50 million in operating profit. And the carrier had to contend with a 68 percent spike in fuel costs to $1.5 billion during the quarter, as crude prices flirted with $150 a barrel mark in July.

All players emphasized continuing cuts in capacity. Meanwhile, it’s noteworthy that operating revenue is up 8 to 9 percent across the board — looks like those higher fares and fees are having an impact.

UPDATE:  Southwest also announced a loss for Q3, though in this case underlying operations had been profitable. In a bit of a twist, the hit came from a big *drop* in oil prices. Details from AP:


Southwest lost $120 million in the third quarter due to $247 million in charges, mostly due to writing down fuel-hedging contracts that are less valuable now that oil prices have plunged more than half since July.
Without the write-down and other charges, Southwest said it earned an operating profit of $69 million. [..] Revenue rose 11.7 percent to $2.89 billion, beating analysts’ forecast of $2.83 billion.
Southwest has been more successful than any other airline at hedging against high oil prices. It buys options to lock in fuel at set prices, a strategy that has saved it several billion dollars this decade.
But accounting rules require Southwest to constantly update the potential value of some of those contracts, and their value tumbled as oil prices fell.

Believe it or not, this was Southwest’s first quarterly loss in 17 years.

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