||Currently Not Operational
||+1 (407) 318 5600
||+1 (407) 318 5918
Click below for data links:
CQT-2003-01 2002 STATS
CQT-2003-06 737 ORDER
CQT-2004-01 DOMESTIC STATS 2003
CQT-2004-06 737 1ST DLVRY
CQT-2004-06 737 1ST DLVRY-A
CQT-2004-06 737 1ST DLVRY-B
CQT-2005-01 2004 STATS
CQT-2005-07 1ST6MTHS STATS
CQT-2006-01 TOP LCC 2005
CQT-2006-05 LAST 717 DLVRY
CQT-2006-05 LAST 717 DLVRY-A
CQT-2009-11 717 LOGOJETS
CQT-2009-12 3Q STATS
CQT-2011-01-NO 1 IN AIRLINE QUALITY LAST YEAR
CQT-2011-10 - NOSE TO NOSE - SWA
CQT-2011-12 - 737 MAX - A
CQT-2011-12 - 737 MAX - B
CQT-2012-09 - MILWAUKEE HUB
CQT-2013-01 - UPDATE-A
CQT-2013-01 - UPDATE-B
CQT-2013-07 - SWA INCDT 737-7H4
CQT-2014-01 - SPLIT SCIMITAR WINGLET
CQT-2014-01-2013 TOP WORLD AIRLINES-A
CQT-2014-01-2013 TOP WORLD AIRLINES-B
CQT-2014-08 - TO CANCUN
CQT-2014-09 - NEW SWA LIVERY AND LOGO
CQT-2014-09 - NEW SWA PAINT JOB
CQT-2014-10 - SWA NET PROFIT LAST 10 YEARS
CQT-2014-12 - MERGER INTO SWA COMPLETED
CQT-C CLASS SEATS
FORMED AND STARTED OPERATIONS IN 1993. AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) WAS FULLY ACQUIRED AND COMBINED WITH SOUTHWEST AIRLINES (SWA) ON MAY 1ST, 2011. DOMESTIC, REGIONAL, & INTERNATIONAL, SCHEDULED & CHARTER, LOW COST CARRIER (LCC), PASSENGER & CARGO, JET AIRPLANE SERVICES.
9955 AIRTRAN BOULEVARD
ORLANDO, FLORIDA 32827-5330, USA
USA (United States of America) was established in 1776, it covers an area of 9,363,123 sq km, its population is 280 million, its capital city is Washington DC, and its official language is English.
AirTran Airways (CQT)'s immediate predecessor, ValuJet Airlines (VAU) was founded in 1993. The original (CQT) was an Orlando-based 737 operator founded by AirTran, the holding company of regional operator Mesaba Airlines, which operated as Northwest Airlink carrier from hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit. In 1994, AirTran Holdings purchased Conquest Sun Airlines, a start-up 737 operator, and re-branded the carrier as "AirTran Airways" (CQT). In 1995, (CQT) was spunoff by Mesaba Airlines and formed its own independent holding company named Airways Corporation ValuJet Inc, the holding company for ValuJet Airlines (VAU), acquired Airways Corporation. In September 1997, ValuJet Airlines was rebranded as AirTran Airlines (CQT). In the summer of 1998, the two airlines merged under the same (FAA) Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and the "AirTran Airways" (CQT) name survived.
DECEMBER 1995: AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) FLIES TO 10 USA CITIES: ALBANY, CINCINATTI, HARTFORD, KNOXVILLE, NEWBURGH, OMAHA, PROVIDENCE, SYRACUSE AND TAMPA. THE MAIN HUB IS NASHVILLE. FOR MORE BACKGROUND, SEE VALUJET (VAU).
2 737-200'S FROM SHANNONAIR LEASING. LETTER OF INTENT (LOI) FOR 11TH 737-300, FROM PACIFIC AVIATION LEASING.
JANUARY 1996: 4TH QUARTER = +$0.44 MILLION: .2 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+44%); 58.4% LF LOAD FACTOR.
SERVICE TO 17 CITIES.
1 737-200, CIT GROUP 36 MONTH LEASED, EX-TAESA (TES). 5/4 737 HUSHKITS FROM AVAERO, FLORIDA. +2 737-200'S FOR TOTAL 8 AIRPLANES.
FEBRUARY 1996: +2 737-200'S FOR AKRON-CANTON, ALLENTOWN & ROCHESTER, INCLUDING 1 737-2P6 (21613), EX-GULF AIR (GUL), (ILA) LEASED.
MARCH 1996: LETTER OF INTENT (LOI) TO ACQUIRE PAGE AVJET, ORLANDO MAINTENANCE HANGAR.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, TO ORLANDO (NOW SERVES 21 US CITIES).
1 737-200A (21613) EX-UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) GOVERNMENT (NOW HAS 10 737'S).
JUNE 1996: FLIES A ROUTE TO PIEDMONT TRIAD AIRPORTS IN GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, AND ORLANDO.
JULY 1996: JOHN HORN, PRESIDENT, RESIGNS, REPLACED BY ROB SWENSON, CHAIRMAN. HAROLD SEINWERTH, VP MAINTENANCE. ROGER CARDIN, DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE, REPLACED RICHARD AQUAVITA. GENE NELMS, DIRECTOR QUALITY CONTROL, REPLACES RAY KUPCHIK.
AUGUST 1996: TERRY SMITH, VP MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING, EX-ALOHA AIRLINES (ALO), & SOUTHWEST AIRLINES (SWA). CARL MILLIKEN, DIRECTOR TECHNICAL SERVICES.
SEPTEMBER 1996: NOW TO 21 DESTINATIONS.
+2 737-200'S (HUSHKITS) FOR TOTAL 5 OF 10 737'S.
OCTOBER 1996: 3RD QUARTER = -$4.1 MILLION (+$.201 MILLION) - AIR TRAN PARENT.
NOVEMBER 1996: CARL MILLIKEN, DIRECTOR TECHNICAL SERVICES, RESIGNS. REPLACED BY TERRY JORDAN. DAVE SCHWARZ, MANAGER OF FLEET MANAGERS: LEE BRUNS (AVIONICS), BILL POPE (STRUCTURES & SYSTEMS).
TO TOLEDO EXPRESS AIRPORT (737-200, 126 PAX). TO CHATTANOOGA METROPOLITAN AIRPORT, TENNESSEE.
JANUARY 1997: 4TH QUARTER = -$14.1 MILLION. 1996 = -$26.7 MILLION (+$8.5 MILLION) (NET LOSS): +119% (RPM) TRAFFIC, +97% (ASM) CAPACITY, 65% LF LOAD FACTOR (+6.7).
TERRY SMITH RESIGNS AS VP MAINTENANCE. CARL MILLIKEN RETURNS AS VP MAINTENANCE.
TO COLOMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, NONSTOP & CHARLESTON. TO DES MOINES, IOWA.
APRIL 1997: 500 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 200 FLIGHT CREW (FC)).
TERRY JORDAN, DIRECTOR QUALITY CONTROL & INSPECTION, RESIGNS, REPLACED BY JOE DUNDERO (ACTING).
11TH 737-200, (GUI) LEASED, NORDAM, STAGE 3 HUSHKIT. LETTER OF INTENET (LOI) FOR 1 737-200 (21501), POLARIS LEASED, NORDAM, STAGE THREE HUSHKIT (JULY 1997).
MAY 1997: PARENT, AIRWAYS CORPORATION, FISCAL YEAR (FY) 1996 = -$7 MILLION (-$1.2 MILLION): +54% (RPM) TRAFFIC, +46% (ASM) CAPACITY, 65.3% LF LOAD FACTOR (+3.4).
TO 24 CITIES.
JUNE 1997: ROBERT SWENSON, PRESIDENT & CEO ANNOUNCES NEW (CQT) "FLORIDA CONNECTION," CODE SHARE, WITH (COI)'S 9 CITIES, IN FLORIDA, + NASSAU, BAHAMAS, TO CONNECT WITH 23 CITIES, IN (CQT) NETWORK.
JULY 1997: 1ST 6 MONTHS = -3.9% (RPM) TRAFFIC, -2.5% (ASM) CAPACITY, 67.5% LF LOAD FACTOR (-1), 0.568 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX).
VALUJET (VAU) MERGES INTO AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) TO RID ITSELF OF STIGMATISED "VALUJET" NAME, INCREASE ITS MAINTENANCE CAPABILITY, AND OVERCOME (FAA) RESTRICTIONS ON GROWTH. (VAU) IS TO BE RENAMED AS "AIRTRAN AIRLINES," & ALL DC-9'S TO BE PAINTED IN SAME LIVERY, AS (CQT) 737'S. (VAU) WILL ISSUE SHARES, WORTH $62 MILLION IN EXCHANGE FOR ALL (CQT) STOCK. (VAU) PRESIDENT, JOSEPH CORR, TO BE PRESIDENT OF AIRTRAN HOLDINGS, & (CQT)'S ROBERT SWENSON, CHAIRMAN. TOGETHER WILL OPERATE 40 AIRPLANES TO 46 DESTINATIONS. THE MAIN BASE IS STILL ORLANDO.
2 737-200'S (21501; 22629), EX-ALOHA AIRLINES (ALO), LEASED. 11TH 737-200, EX-(VAS), (GUI) LEASED, ENTERS SERVICE.
AUGUST 1997: 2ND QUARTER = -$.172 MILLION (-$.282 MILLION).
11TH 737-284 DELIVERY.
SEPTEMBER 1997: NONSTOP FROM LEHIGH VALLEY AIRPORT, PENNSYLVANIA, TO BOSTON LOGAN AIRPORT. BOSTON - ALLENTOWN/ISLIP, ISLIP TO ORLANDO (ORL).
OCTOBER 1997: OBTAINS SLOTS AT LAGUARDIA.
2 737-200 "C" CHECKS, & CORROSION PREVENTION & CONTROL PROGRAM (CPCP), TO PEMCO, DOTHAN, ALABAMA.
NOVEMBER 1997: PARENT, AIRWAYS CORPORATION, 3RD QUARTER = -$5.4 MILLION (-$4.1 MILLION): +0.9% (RPM) TRAFFIC, -9.3% (ASM) CAPACITY, 68% LF LOAD FACTOR (+6.9).
MERGER WITH (VAU) OK'D. WILL STILL OPERATE SEPARATELY, BUT COMBINED COMPANY HAS 11 737'S, 32 DC-9'S, 239 DAILY DEPARTURES TO 46 CITIES. TO HAVE 50 AIRPLANES BY THE END OF 1998.
DECEMBER 1997: RICHARD WITTENBERG, SENIOR VP MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING. AIRTRAN HOLDINGS NAMES ANDREW MORGAN, VP ENGINEERING & QUALITY ASSURANCE FOR AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) & (VAU), EX-VP CONTRACTS (CQT).
JANUARY 1998: 4TH QUARTER = -$54.3 MILLION. AIRTRAN HOLDINGS 1997 = -$96.7 MILLION (-$41.5 MILLION): 2.42 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC, 4.25 BILLION (ASM) CAPACITY, 57.0% LF LOAD FACTOR, 3.97 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX). USA MARKET SHARE 1997 = 15TH 0.40% (RPM), 24TH LF.
NEW YORK LAGUARDIA - KNOXVILLE.
MARCH 1998: ATLANTA - BLOOMINGTON/DAYTON/KNOXVILLE.
APRIL 1998: 500 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 200 FLIGHT CREW (FC)).
NEWPORT NEWS - ATLANTA.
CAPTAIN BOB WITTENBERG, SENIOR VP MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING RETURNED TO LINE FLYING DC-9'S AND WAS REPLACED BY BOB ZOLLER.
SEPTEMBER 1998: STILL OPERATING ON ITS OWN AIR OPERATOR'S CERTIFICATE (AOC), BUT AIRPLANES ARE BEING INTERCHANGED ON CERTAIN ROUTES. PAINTING 737'S IN SAME COLORS AS DC-9'S OF AIRTRAN AIRLINES (VAU).
OCTOBER 1998: 2,489 EMPLOYEES.
JANUARY 1999: JOSEPH LEONARD, CHAIRMAN, CEO, & PRESIDENT, EX-EASTERN AIRLINES (EAL).
MARCH 1999: ROBERT FORNARO, PRESIDENT & COO, EX-US AIRWAYS (USA).
TOGETHER WITH JOE LEONARD, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BUILDS A SUSTAINABLE NETWORK WHICH INCREASES THE PRESENCE OF THE ATLANTA HUB, WHILE ADDING FOCUS CITIES IN BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON, PHILADELPHIA, AND CHICAGO.
1 737-200 (22055), UNICAPITAL LEASED.
MAY 1999: 2,974 EMPLOYEES.
KEVIN HEALY, VP PLANNING.
JULY 1999: 1ST 6 MONTHS = 1.75 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (+7%), +1.4% (ASM) CAPACITY, 64.1% LF LOAD FACTOR (+3.4), 3.26 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+24.1%).
AUGUST 1999: 737-200 (22055) TO WESTJET (WJI).
SEPTEMBER 1999: 2,974 EMPLOYEES.
NOVEMBER 1999: RETIRING 737-200'S WITH ONLY 3 OPERATING BY END OF 1999. 737-200 (22631) PARTED OUT. 737-2E1 (20976) RETURNED TO LESSOR POLARIS.
DECEMBER 1999: AWARDED 82 FLORIDA GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR CITY-PAIR, BUSINESS TRAVEL.
JANUARY 2000: 4TH QUARTER = +$10.6 MILLION (-$3 MILLION): DUE TO "THE DEDICATION & HARD WORK OF THE EMPLOYEES." MAINTENANCE COSTS = $23.14 MILLION (33.12% (DOC). AIRTRAN HOLDINGS 1999 = +$29.8 MILLION (-$13.2 MILLION): +$76.2 MILLION CASH: 3.47 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (+7.1%), +.5% (ASM) CAPACITY, 57.8% LF LOAD FACTOR (+3.9), 6.46 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+18.3%).
NOW OPERATES 264 FLIGHTS/DAY TO 30 CITIES. IN MARCH 2000, TO PHILADELPHIA - ORLANDO & - FORT LAUDERDALE (DC-9-30). ALSO, ATLANTA - MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA, (2/DAY).
737-200 (19074) PARTED OUT. SELLS 14 DC-9-30'S TO JETLEASE AND LEASES BACK 7, STAGE 3 VERSIONS. PARTED OUT 6 DC-9-32'S (47202; 47318; 47322; 47379; 47443; 47486) & 1 737-200 (19074). 9TH 717-200 DELIVERY.
FEBRUARY 2000: RICHARD SARTINI, DIRECTOR POWERPLANT & MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS, EX-DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE, CAPITAL CARGO AIRLINES (CCA).
IN APRIL 2000, TAMPA - PHILADELPHIA.
DC-9-31 (47202) RETURNED FROM SPIRIT AIRLINES (SPR), AND SCRAPPED. 5 DC-9-32'S (47322; 47379; 47433; 47486; 47674) SCRAPPED.
MARCH 2000: PHILADELPHIA - TAMPA. NOW IS 2ND LARGEST AIRLINE TO DELTA AIRLINES (DAL) AT ATLANTA. OPERATES 270 FLIGHTS/DAY AT ATLANTA. IN MAY 2000, ATLANTA NON-STOPS TO HOUSTON, MYRTLE BEACH, AND SAVANNAH. IN JUNE 2000, ATLANTA NONSTOP TO NEWARK.
4-YEAR MAINTENANCE CONTRACT FOR (JT8D)'S OF 4 737-200'S & 35 DC-9-30'S TO NORTHWEST AIRLINES (NWA) AT ATLANTA. 717-2BD (25012, N950AT) DELIVERY. 717'S USE -27% LESS FUEL THAN PARABLY SIZED DC-9-30'S.
APRIL 2000: AKRON - ORLANDO (SATURDAYS). IN JUNE 2000, NONSTOPS CHICAGO MIDWAY TO MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL (MSP) (717), & ATLANTA HUB TO (MSP), VIA CHICAGO MIDWAY. ALSO, GULFPORT/BILOXI - ATLANTA.
JIM ALMAN, ENGINEERING DIRECTOR, REPLACES CARL MILLICAN, WHO RESIGNED.
MAY 2000: GUY BOROWSKI, VP MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING, EX-CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL (CDI).
11TH 717-2BD (55013, N951AT) DELIVERY.
JUNE 2000: INTERNET BOOKINGS MARCH & APRIL 2000 = 26%, VS 6% IN JANUARY 1999, & PROJECT 33% IN MAY 2000.
IN MERGER DISCUSSIONS WITH (TWA).
NICK DRIVAS, SENIOR DIRECTOR QUALITY ASSURANCE REPLACES BRUCE WEAVER, NOW DIRECTOR PLANNING, REPLACING JOHN ENDICOTT, NOW DIRECTOR TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS.
JULY 2000: PROPOSED MERGER WITH (TWA) DROPPED.
1ST 6 MONTHS = 1.9 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (1.8 BILLION), 2.8 BILLION (ASM) CAPACITY (2.7 BILLION), 68.6% LF LOAD FACTOR (+4.5). AIRTRAN HOLDINGS 2ND QUARTER = +$22.6 MILLION (+51%), DUE TO RECORD REVENUES AND STRONG TRAFFIC, DESPITE +71.4% FUEL COSTS. MAINTENANCE COSTS -22%, DUE TO NEW 717'S & FEWER "C" CHECKS.
717-2BD (55014, N952AT) DELIVERY.
AUGUST 2000: IN OCTOBER 2000, ATLANTA - TOLEDO, OHIO, (DC-9-30, 3/DAY).
1999 = +$196.08 MILLION (-$40.74 MILLION): 5.59 BILLION (RPK) (+7.1%); 63.65 LF LOAD FACTOR; 6.46 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+18.3%); 3,882 EMPLOYEES (+11.6%).
SEPTEMBER 2000: JIM BUCKALEW, DIRECTOR PLANNING.
737-2E1 (20976, /74) PARTED OUT. 13TH 717-2BD (55015, N953AT) DELIVERY.
OCTOBER 2000: IN DECEMBER 2000, ATLANTA - GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND (ITS 1ST INTERNATIONAL ROUTE) (717-200). ATLANTA - FREEPORT. PITTSBURGH - NEW YORK LA GUARDIA, CHICAGO MIDWAY, AND ATLANTA.
3RD QUARTER = +$8.9 MILLION (+127%) (7TH CONSECUTIVE +VE QUARTER): +97% FUEL COSTS; +4.2% MAINTENANCE COSTS, +17.2% (RPM) TRAFFIC. 1ST 9 MONTHS = 3.03 BILLION (RPM) (+15.8%); +5.6% (ASM) CAPACITY; 70.3% LF LOAD FACTOR (+6.2), 5.58 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+14.9%).
35% TOTAL SALES ONLINE, (SWA)'S 31% WAS PREVIOUSLY INDUSTRY LEADER).
MAINTENANCE CONTRACT TO AVBORNE, FOR 717 "C" CHECKS.
717-2BD (55016, N954AT) DELIVERY. AFTER 1 YEAR'S OPERATIONS, 717-200 HAS PROVED TO BE +24% MORE FUEL EFFICIENT THAN DC-9'S (VS PROJECTED +18%).
NOVEMBER 2000: CONDUCTS 1ST 717 "C" CHECK. 15TH 717-2BD (55017, N955AT) DELIVERY.
DECEMBER 2000: 16TH 717-2BD (55018, N956AT), DELIVERY.
JANUARY 2001: 4TH QUARTER = +$13.1 MILLION (+82%) (8TH CONSECUTIVE +VE QUARTER): DESPITE +105% FUEL COSTS, MAINTENANCE COSTS +3.7%. 2000 = +$47.4 MILLION (+$29.1 MILLION): 4.12 BILLION (RPM) (+18.5%), +7.2% (ASM), 70.2% LF LOAD FACTOR (+6.7); 7.57 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+17.1%).
17TH 717-2BD DELIVERY.
FEBRUARY 2001: 18TH 717-2BD (55020, N958AT) DELIVERY.
MARCH 2001: IN MAY 2001, ATLANTA - MINNEAPOLIS.
SIGNS CONTRACT WITH TRAX CORPORATION, MIAMI TO PROVIDE AUTOMATED, WINDOWS-BASED, MAINTENANCE TRACKING SOFTWARE, INCLUDING ENGINEERING FUNCTIONS, USE OF BAR-CODING & INTERNET TO TRACK INVENTORY, ENGINEERING, PLANNING, PRODUCTION, SHOP ACTIVITIES, TECHNICAL RECORDS, AND RELIABILITY.
JIM TREBILCOCK, DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE REPLACED MARK DAVIS, WHO LEFT AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT).
1 717-2BD (55021, N959AT) DELIVERY.
APRIL 2001: 1ST QUARTER = +$8.8 MILLION (+10.3%): 1.12 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (+31.5%); +19.2% (ASM) CAPACITY; 70.5% LF LOAD FACTOR (+6.6); MAINTENANCE COSTS = $25.4 MILLION (+6.2%). DUE TO INCREASED BUSINESS TRAFFIC AND RECORD REVENUES. $36.3 MILLION FUEL COSTS (+25%). TOTAL FUEL BURN WAS DOWN, REFLECTING EFFICIENCY OF NEW FLEET OF 717'S.
+2 ORDERS 717-200. 20TH 717-2BD (55022, N960AT) DELIVERY.
MAY 2001: 4,035 EMPLOYEES.
OPERATES >275 DAILY DEPARTURES TO 30 CITIES THROUGHOUT THE EASTERN USA AND MIDWEST, INCLUDING >130 DAILY DEPARTURES FROM ATLANTA HARTSFIELD INTERNATIONAL.
IN JULY 2001, PITTSBURGH TO PHILADELPHIA.
21ST & 22ND 717-2BD (55023, N961AT; 55024, N963AT) DELIVERIES.
JULY 2001: 1ST 6 MONTHS = 2.38 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (+23.9%), +17.5% (ASM) CAPACITY, 72.3% LF LOAD FACTOR (+3.7) 4.41 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+24.2%).
PLANS TO RETIRE REMAINING 737-200'S IN 3RD QUARTER 2001. 3 737-2L9'S (21278; 21279; 21528) SOLD TO SKY KING (SKN) FOR SPORTS TEAM CHARTER FLIGHTS. 23RD 717-2BD DELIVERY (55025, N964AT).
AUGUST 2001: EXERCISES 1 OPTION 717 TO BRING TOTAL ORDERED TO 53, WITH 25 DELIVERED, & 47 OPTIONS.
4,035 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 525 FLIGHT CREW (FC); 753 CABIN ATTENDANTS (CA); 337 MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (MT); 169 GENERAL MANAGEMENT; 1,404 AIRPLANE/TRAFFIC HANDLING; 19 AIRPLANE CONTROL; 35 PASSENGER HANDLING; 21 TRAINEES/INSTRUCTORS; 13 RECORD KEEPING; 759 OTHERS). EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY (ASM)'S/EMPLOYEE): 1,521,734.
TOP 10 AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) AIRPORTS:
1 ATLANTA 5,215; 2 ORLANDO 1,068; 3 CHICAGO MIDWAY 788; 4 TAMPA 754; 5 FORT LAUDERDALE 653; 6 PHILADELPHIA 621; 7 DALLAS/FORT WORTH (DFW) 564; 8 WASHINGTON DULLES 560; 9 NEW YORK LAGUARDIA 548; 10 GULFPORT/BILOXI.
SEPTEMBER 2001: FOLLOWING THE SEPTEMBER 11TH ISLAMIC TERRORIST ATTACK ON NEW YORK'S WORLD TRADE CENTER (WTC) TOWERS AND THE PENTAGON, WHICH RESULTED IN THE GROUNDING OF THE ENTIRE USA AIRLINE FLEET, AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) WILL CUT ITS ASM'S (CAPACITY) BY A MINIMUM OF -20%.
IN NOVEMBER 2001, ATLANTA AND TAMPA TO TALLAHASSEE, ITS 35TH DESTINATION.
717-2BD (55027, N966AT) DELIVERY.
OCTOBER 2001: IN DECEMBER 2001, NONSTOP TO BALTIMORE WASHINGTON (BWI), ITS 36TH DESTINATION, WITH 3 FLIGHTS TO ATLANTA AND 3 TO BOSTON. ATLANTA TO PENSACOLA.
25TH & 26TH 717-2BD DELIVERIES (55028, N967AT).
NOVEMBER 2001: 3RD QUARTER = -$10.6 MILLION: MAINTENANCE COSTS = $21.54 BILLION (-28.5%).
IN FEBRUARY 2002, BALTIMORE - FORT LAUDERDALE.
27TH 717-2BD DELIVERY (55029, N968AT).
DECEMBER 2001: LICENSES CALEB TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION'S, "PAIRINGSOLVER" SOFTWARE, WHICH ENABLES OPTIMIZED SCHEDULING OF AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT)'S 1,400 FLIGHT CREW (FC)/CABIN ATTENDANT (CA) EMPLOYEES, TO INCREASE AIRLINE EFFICIENCY, WHILE RESPECTING FLIGHT (FC)/CABIN CREW (CA) PREFERENCES.
INTRODUCES "POWERCART," A WIRELESS, MOBILE CART THAT WILL INCREASE EFFICIENCY FOR THE CHECK-IN PROCESS, WHICH WILL PRINT BOARDING PASSES FOR PASSENGERS WHO ARE WAITING IN LINE AT THE TICKET COUNTER.
DC-9-30 (47320) PARTED OUT. 3 717 DELIVERIES AND 3 DC-9 RETIREMENTS.
JANUARY 2002: 2001 = +$21.7 MILLION (-$47.4 MILLION): +9.5% (RPM) TRAFFIC, +11.6% (ASM) CAPACITY, 68.9% LF LOAD FACTOR (-1.3).
"AN IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE IN SUCH A DIFFICULT ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT." JOE LEONARD, CEO, STATES "AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) SHOULD SHOW A PROFIT IN THE 2ND QUARTER, AND FOR FULL 2002, AND THAT IT WILL GROW +20%, IN 2002."
IN MARCH 2002, NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA - NEW YORK LAGUARDIA/ - ORLANDO (DC-9, 2/DAY).
WILL RETIRE 6 DC-9'S, AND TAKE 12 NEW 717'S. WANTS TO RETIRE 14 DC-9'S, AND BOOST DELIVERY OF 717'S TO 20.
2001 TOP 50 WORLD AIRLINES - TRAFFIC BILLIONS (RPM):
1 UAL 116.60; 2 AAL 106.15; 3 DAL 97.60; 4 NWA 73.11; 5 BAB 64.24; 6 AFA 59.54; 7 CAL 58.76; 8 DLH 56.76; 9 JAL 50.77; 10 USA 45.93; 11 SWA 44.50; 12 SIA 42.76; 13 QAN 42.14; 14 ACN 41.49; 15 KLM 35.76; 16 ANA 33.16; 17 CAT 27.81; 18 TII 27.43; 19 IBE 25.64; 20 KAL 23.73; 21 ALI 22.45; 22 MAS 22.29; 23 AMW 19.06; 24 VAA 17.65; 25 VAR 16.02; 26 CHI 16.00; 27 EAD 14.37; 28 SAS 14.26; 29 ANZ 13.54; 30 SAA 12.70; 31 SVA 12.56; 32 BEJ 12.39; 33 ASA 12.23; 34 JAS 10.06; 35 THY 9.35; 36 AMX 8.51; 37 PAL 8.36; 38 GIA 8.15; 39 CMA 7.99; 40 ELA 7.79; 41 GUL 7.65; 42 PIA 7.24; 43 AIN 7.10; 44 TAP 6.43; 45 EGP 5.53; 46 OLY 5.24; 47 AUL 5.06; 48 FIN 4.93; 49 IND 4.52; 50 CQT 4.51.
FEBRUARY 2002: IN MARCH 2002, ROCHESTER (ITS 37TH DESTINATION), NEW YORK - ATLANTA - BALTIMORE (717, DAILY).
MARCH 2002: SIGNS CONTRACT WITH AIRPATH WIRELESS, A FULL-SERVICE, HIGH-SPEED, BROADBAND, WIRELESS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER TO PROVIDE PASSENGERS WITH HIGH-SPEED, WIRELESS INTERNET SERVICE AT GATES, WITH PURCHASE OF AN AIRPATH WIRELESS CARD, FOR $79.
CONTRACT WITH DECISION SYSTEM, TO DEPLOY REASON ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS, AND LESSONS LEARNED SYSTEM. THIS SOFTWARE, IS DESIGNED TO ASSIST AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT), WITH RESOLVING, AND PREVENTING OPERATIONS ISSUES FROM BECOMING PROBLEMS.
IN APRIL 2002, TO AKRON-CANTON REGIONAL AIRPORT, OHIO. IN MAY 2002, ATLANTA - WICHITA MID-CONTINENT AIRPORT, ITS 38TH DESTINATION.
+7 ORDERS 717. +4 717'S (55068; 55134; 55135; 55152) PEMBROKE (PEB) LEASED WHICH WERE ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO GO TO VUELAMEX (VMX). 717-2BD (55035, N975AT) DELIVERY. PLANS TO ACCELERATE DELIVERY OF 20 717'S IN 2002 SO AS TO RETIRE 14 DC-9'S (717'S ARE 24% MORE FUEL-EFFICIENT).
APRIL 2002: AIRTRAN HOLDINGS 1ST QUARTER = -$3 MILLION (+$8.8 MILLION): 1.19 BILLION (RPM) TRAFFIC (+6.1%); +12.8% (ASM) CAPACITY, 66.3% LF LOAD FACTOR (-4.2); 2.13 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX) (+1.8%). MAINTENANCE COSTS -49%.
MAIN BASE: ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL (MCO).
HUB: ATLANTA HARTSFIELD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (ATL).
TO MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (717, DAILY) FROM ATLANTA (2/DAY). IN OCTOBER 2002, FROM TAMPA AND FORT LAUDERDALE.
MAY 2002: CHICAGO (MIDWAY)/ATLANTA - WICHITA.
1 717-2BD (55036, N975AT) DELIVERY & 717-23S (55152, N989AT) (PEB) LEASED.
JUNE 2002: 37TH 717-2BD (55137, N993AT) DELIVERY (BOEING'S 100TH!).
July 2002: 2nd Quarter Airtran Holdings = +$5.1 Million (+$13.2 Million). 6 months = +$2.1 Million (+$22 Million): 4.32 Billion (RPK) traffic (+12.7%); +21.54% (ASK) traffic; 68.7% LF load factor (-5.4); 4.7 Million passengers (PAX) (+6.57%). 2001 Group = -$81.89 Million (-$15.7 Million); (CQT) = -$2.76 Million (+$47.44 Million): 7.25 Billion (RPK) (+9.5%); 68.9% LF; 8.3 Million (PAX) (+9.7%); 3,900 employees (-3.4%).
Now flies to 38 destinations.
3 DC-9-30 (47177; 47444; 47278) parted out. 2 717-2BDs (55037, N978AT; 55040, N976ATY) deliveries.
August 2002: In October 2002, Atlanta - Kansas City.
717-2BD (55136, N992AT) delivery.
September 2002: In December 2002, Atlanta - West Palm Beach.
In November 2002, to launch a new regional jet operation, AirTran JetConnect, operated by Air Wisconsin, with CRJ regional jets, in short-haul markets, to and from AirTran Airways (CQT)'s hub at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. Air Wisconsin provides scheduled passengers and airfreight service from 45 cities, in 21 states and Canada with a fleet: 27 CRJ's, 50Y; 17 B Ae 146's; & 10 Dornier 328's.
(CQT) now operates 388 daily flights to 40 cities, throughout the eastern USA.
717-2BD (55038, N979AT) delivery.
October 2002: +23 orders 717-200, ex-(TWA)/American Airlines (AAL), Boeing Capital (TBC) leased. Plans to be operating 73 717's by the end of 2003. Currently, operates 46.
3 717-2BD's (55039, N980AT; 55138, N994AT; 55139, N995AT) deliveries.
November 2002: To Bloomington/Dayton (Saturdays). In January 2003, to Flint/Pittsburgh and in February 2003, Fort Myers - Philadelphia. In March 2003, Akron - New York Laguardia (LGA).
3rd Quarter (CQT) Holdings = +$1.2 Million (-$10.6 Million).
6 DC-9-32's (46277; 46278; 46319; 46444; 46445) scrapped. DC-9-32 (47323, N817AT) donated to Georgia Aviation & Technical College. 2 717-2BD's (55040, N881AT; 55041, N897AT), deliveries.
December 2002: In March 2003, Freeport - Baltimore/Washington (717, daily).
$150 Million, 10-year contract to Bedek Aviation (IAI) to provide maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO) services at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv for components on its 717's.
Celebrated groundbreaking for new Atlanta, Maintenance hangar, costing $14.5 Million, located in northwest corner of Hartsfield International Airport, expected to be completed by the end of 2003.
2 717-2BD's (55142, N998AT; 55041, N982AT) deliveries, including 50th.
January 2003: 4th Quarter = +$7.5 Million (-$14.2 Million). 2002 = +$10.7 Million (-$2.8 Million).
In May 2003, Atlanta - Denver (717-200 nonstop) (its 41st city!).
DC-9-32 (47260), parted out. 717-2BD (55042, N983AT) delivery. 2 717-231's (55084, N2417F; 55088, N2421A), Boeing Capital (TBC) leased.
February 2003: Was awarded 4 of 6 slot exemptions, it requested at Washington Reagan National for new nonstop service from 3 Florida cities. Fort Lauderdale - Milwaukee.
1 717-231 (55089, N422TW), Boeing Capital (TBC) leased. DC-9-32 (47529) sold to Tikal Jets (TKC). 2 orders (June 2003) A320-232 (640; 676), Ryan International (RYN) wet-leased.
March 2003: Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Airport to Grand Bahama Island (717, daily nonstop). Akron (Canton) to New York LaGuardia (717, 2/day). Resumed Myrtle Beach to Atlanta (4 daily nonstops by Air Wisconsin CRJ's). In May 2003, Philadelphia - Boston (717, 2 class). Atlanta to Los Angeles (LAX) (June 2003, Ryan International (RYN) A320, 2/day), and Las Vegas (June 2003, (RYN) A320, 2/day). In June 2003, Orlando - Dayton. (BWI) - Milwaukee (717-200, daily).
Operates over 275 daily flights to 30 cities throughout the eastern USA and the Midwest, including over 130 daily departures from Atlanta Hartsfield airport.
Parent organization/shareholders: Publicly held through AirTran Holdings (100%).
2 717-231's (55082, N415TW; 55087, N420TW), Boeing Capital (TBC) leased.
April 2003: In June 2003, Orlando - Moline (Saturdays). Baltimore/Washington International - Milwaukee (717, 2/day nonstops), with continuing service to Boston.
AirTran Holdings 1st Quarter = +$2 Million (-$3 Million): +23.1% fuel costs. Plans to increase capacity +18% (ASM) capacity in the 2nd Quarter and +22% for 2003 year.
May 2003: AirTran Airways (CQT) has a hub in Atlanta where 170 flights/day originate, and serves 41 cities. Expanded into Western USA with nonstop to Denver and will add flights to Los Angeles (LAX) and Las Vegas in June 2003.
Purchases Websense's Bandwidth Optimizer to "improve network performance and manage nonwork-related, bandwidth intensive activities at work."
June 2003: Los Angeles (LAX) - Atlanta (2/day nonstops). In August 2003, Atlanta - Greensboro, High Point, Winston Salem's Piedmont Triad International Airport (2/day, nonstop).
$6 Billion order for 28/50 orders 737-700/-800's, +22 737-700/-800's leased, and +10 orders 717's.
July 2003: 4 DC-9-32's (47170; 47238; 47523; 47723), sold to AeroFinance.
August 2003: In October 2003, Orlando - Dallas/Minneapolis. Atlanta/Fort Lauderdale/Fort Myers - Washington (DCA). In November 2003, Atlanta - San Francisco (SFO) (A320). Flint - Fort Lauderdale (Saturdays), Akron - Tampa (Sats). Philadelphia - Fort Myers. Baltimore/Washington International airport - Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
September 2003: AirTran Holdings will sell 8.65 million shares of common stock through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). 1.3 Million shares have been made available to cover any over allotments. Net proceeds will be used to redeem $35 Million of its 11.27% senior secured notes currently held by Boeing Capital Loan Corporation, and to purchase warrants for 1 Million shares of stock held by Boeing Capital (TBC). The remaining proceeds will be used for "working capital and other capital expenditures, including capital expenditures related to airplane purchase.
2002 = +$10.85 million (-$2.76 million): 8.99 billion (RPK) traffic (+23.9%); +26.3% (ASK) capacity; 67.6% LF load factor (-1.3); 9.7 million passengers (PAX) (+16.3%); 5,000 employees (+17.6%).
2002 TOP WORLD AIRLINES TRAFFIC (RPK) (BILLIONS):
69 (EGP) 9.65; 70 (ARG) 9.61; 71 (EZY) 9.21; 72 (HWI) 9.04; 73 (ARE) 9.03; 74 (CQT) 8.99; 75 (SPP) 8.98; 76 (SHY) 8.75; 77 (ARL) 8.69; 78 (PRH) 8.67; 79 (XIN) 8.61.
717-231 (55075, N929AT), Hawk Leasing leased.
October 2003: 1st 9 months = +$78.8 million (+$3.2 million): 5.27 billion (RPM) traffic (+28.2%); +21.9% (ASM) capacity; 71.6% LF load factor (+3.5). 3rd Quarter AirTran Holdings = +$19.6 million (+$1.2 million): +21.3% (ASM) capacity; +6.9 LF load factor.
Dallas/Minneapolis - Orlando. In December 2003, Reagan Washington National to West Palm Beach (daily nonstop), to Atlanta (3/day), Fort Myers (daily), and to Fort Lauderdale (daily). In February 2004, Philadelphia - West Palm Beach.
November 2003: Atlanta to San Francisco (daily nonstop), its 2nd west coast destination after Los Angeles (LAX). Milwaukee - Fort Myers (Saturdays). In February 2004, Baltimore/Washington International Airport to Dayton (2/day nonstop). Dallas - Las Vegas.
2 717-231's (55078, N926AT; 55079, N925AT), leased.
December 2003: Selected Honeywell (SGC) to provide maintenance and service for 15 years on all (SGC) equipment on existing fleet of 73 717's with contracts valued at >$300 million over the life of the agreement.
717-231 (55058, N936AT), Hawk Leasing leased.
January 2004: Selects XM Satellite Radio as its new in-flight entertainment system for its 717 & 737 fleet, with installation starting this summer and completed by the end of 2004.
4th Quarter = +$21.7 million (+$7.5 million): +27% (RPM) traffic; +21% (ASM) capacity; 69.8% LF load factor (+3.6). 2003 = +$100.5 million (+$10.7 million): 11.53 billion (RPK) (+28.3%); 70.9% LF; 11.66 million passengers (PAX) (+20.7%).
Will take delivery of 14 airplanes in 2004: 6 717's and 8 737's for a capacity growth of +18% (ASM).
February 2004: Tampa - Akron; Orlando - Dayton (daily). In March 2004, Orlando - Bloomington (daily).
2 DC-9-32's (47089; 47488), withdrawn from use (WFU) at Lake City. DC-9-32 (47451) sold to Aerofinance LLC.
March 2004: Boston to Newport News/Williamsburg (2/day, nonstop). Akron (Canton) to Boston. In June 2004, Dallas/Fort Worth to Las Vegas (3/week).
717-22A (55127, N603AT), Boeing (TBC) leased.
April 2004: 1st Quarter = +$4.1 million (+$2 million): 1.92 billion (RPM) traffic (+22.4%); +21.1% (ASM) capacity; 68.5% (LF) load factor (+.7); 2.98 million passengers (PAX) (+16.24%). Ended the Quarter with $394.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, of which $9 million was restricted ($348.5 million at the end of 2003).
Atlanta - Myrtle Beach. In August 2004, Baltimore - Milwaukee.
May 2004: $225 million, +6 orders 717-200's, including a firm order for 2 airplanes and the exercise of 4 existing options.
717-2BD (55043, N891AT), delivery.
June 2004: Implements Sabre Airline Solutions' new browser-based modules for their operations control and crew tracking systems.
Akron - Canton, & Boston (2/day). Newport News/Williamsburg to Boston (2/day).
1st 737-76N delivery in new livery, on 1st flight Atlanta - Denver. The contemporary design substitutes the predominantly tan color scheme with red & blue striping on a white background. Its trademark "a" remains prominent on a teal-colored tail.
2 737-76N's (32679, N126AT; 32681, N149AT), GECAS (GEF) leased.
July 2004: Completed construction of its 1st maintenance hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The hangar is 65 ft tall and can fit 2 of (CQT)'s new 737-700's parked wing-to-wing. The structure also houses >76,000 sq ft of work space and features a computerized atmosphere control system.
Dallas/Fort Worth - Los Angeles (2/day).
Last 6 months = +$20.9 million (-64.7%) (+$59.2 million): 2.18 billion (RPM) traffic (+21.4%); +17.9% (ASM) capacity; 75.4% LF load factor (+2.2). 2nd Quarter = +$16.8 million (-70.6%) (+$57.2 million).
Selects Lufthansa (DLH) Systems' flight management system navigation database for its fleet of 77 airplanes.
+2 orders (February 2006) 737-700 for total 30 in addition to 22 leased from GECAS (GEF).
August 2004: In November 2004, Atlanta - Grand Bahama Island (daily nonstop), Fort Lauderdale - Rochester (daily nonstop), Orlando - Milwaukee (daily nonstop), Fort Myers - Milwaukee (daily nonstop), Orlando - Pittsburgh (daily nonstop), Rochester - Tampa (daily nonstop), Atlanta - Miami (2/day nonstop), Bloomington/Normal - Orlando (2/day nonstop), & Baltimore/Washington - Fort Myers (2/day nonstop). Akron, Pittsburgh - Fort Lauderdale (Sats). In December 2004, Dallas/Fort Worth - Fort Lauderdale (daily nonstop), West Palm Beach - Philadelphia (daily nonstop), Philadelphia - Fort Myers (daily nonstop), Dayton - Tampa (daily nonstop), & Flint - Tampa (daily nonstop). Fort Lauderdale to Akron (Canton) and Pittsburgh (Sats). In January 2005, Dayton - Fort Lauderdale (daily nonstop).
Forms a new partnership with Outtask, a provider of corporate travel and expense automation solutions, whereby Outtask's travel management service Cliqbook will furnish a direct connection to the airline's fares, including special pricing that may not be available in Global Distribution System (GDS)'s, last-seat availability and advance seat assignments. The connection gives companies access to functionality similar to the corporate section of the airline's website while enabling them to track and integrate their AirTran Airways (CQT)'s bookings into their office systems.
717-2BD (55044, N892AT) & 737-7BD (33917, N166AT) deliveries.
September 2004: Jet Blue (JBL) & AirTran (CQT) both warned that their financial results for the 3rd Quarter have been impacted significantly by the recent hurricanes that have hit the USA East Coast, low yields, high fuel prices,and weak booking trends. (JBL) was forced to cancel 312 flights and (CQT) close to 400 flights over the past 2 months. (CQT) also suffered damage from Hurricane Frances to its HQ and hangar in Orlando, which further disrupted its operations.
737-7BD (33918, N167AT) delivery & 737-76N (32653, N168AT), (GECAS) (GEF) leased. 2 DC-9-32's (47534; 47168) sold to AeroFinance LLC.
October 2004: ATA Airlines (AAT) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Reached agreement with AirTran Airways (CQT) for (CQT) to pay (AAT) $87.6 million to assume flight operations, gate leases & routes at Chicago Midway (MDW), as well as arrival & departure slots at New York La Guardia & Reagan Washington National airports. (CQT) is to take over the leases of 14 gates at (MDW) and will begin its operations with 10 717's redeployed from the Southeast and 16 737-800's wet-leased from ATA (AAT).
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will add 16 nonstop flights in existing markets from Chicago Midway (to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood; Manchester; Las Vegas; Raleigh-Durham; Tampa; Los Angeles International; Oakland; Phoenix; Seattle; Providence; Philadelphia; & Columbus) in 1st Quarter 2005 to tighten its grip ahead of new rival (CQT)'s expansion at the airport.
3rd Quarter = -$9.8 million (+$19.6 million): +1.8% stage length; -3.3 LF load factor; record high fuel prices, 4 hurricanes that hit Florida, coupled with a weak revenue environment. 9 months = -$11.1 million (-85.9%) (+$78.8 million).
In December 2004, Atlanta, Baltimore to Sarasota.
Converted 2 options 737-700'S to firm orders. 737-76N (32744, N169AT), (GEF) leased.
November 2004: Selects Sabre Airline Solution's resource management technology that will enable AirTran Airways (CQT) to implement faster staffing solutions for dynamic airport operations, by implementing Sabre Streamline StaffPlan & Sabre Streamline StaffAdmin.
Orlando - Bloomington (daily). Orlando - Wichita (Saturdays).
December 2004: In January 2005, Chicago Midway (MDW) to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Sarasota/Bradenton, & Tampa (7/day nonstops). Currently flies (MDW) to Atlanta (8/day). Sarasota/Bradenton - Atlanta & Baltimore (daily nonstop).
ATA Airlines (AAT) selected Southwest Airlines (SWA)'s $117 bid for certain of its assets at Chicago Midway (MDW) over a broader but less valuable agreement it had initially struck with AirTran Airways (CQT), when (AAT) filed for Chapter 11 protection.
2 717-2BD's (55045, N893AT; 55046, N894AT), deliveries & 2 737-76N's (32661, N173AT; 32667, N174AT), (GEF) leased.
January 2005: In February 2005, Newport News - Williamsburg & Tampa (daily nonstop). In May 2005, Indianapolis - Atlanta (717, 4/day). In June 2005, Indianapolis - Orlando (daily).
Long-term contract to Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) Bedek Group to provide component maintenance for its 737-700 fleet in addition to previous agreements for its 717 fleet.
4th Quarter = +$1.1 million (-95%) (+$21.7 million): +22.6% (RPM) (passenger traffic); +23.4% (ASM) (capacity); 69.3% LF (load factor) (-.5); 3.5 million passengers. 2004 = +$12.3 million (-87.8%) (+$100.5 million).
717-2BD (55045), delivery.
March 2005: 737-76N (32656, N184AT), GECAS (GEF) leased.
April 2005: 6,000 employees.
Indianapolis to Atlanta & Tampa (daily nonstop).
1st Quarter = -$8 million (+$4.1 million): 27.7% (RPM) traffic; -0.2% (ASM) capacity; 70.5% LF load factor (+2). Plans to boost capacity (ASM) +15% in 2nd Quarter, +23% in 3rd, & +27% in 4th.
May 2005: 717-2BD (55049, N899AT) & 737-76N (32660, N261AT), (GEF) leased, deliveries.
June 2005: Partners with G2 SwitchWorks to distribute its ticket inventory to travel agencies and corporate clients. As part of the arrangement, AirTran (CQT) agreed to pre-pay certain distribution fees in order to secure additional discounts on transaction costs and the opportunity to acquire a minority stake in G2. According to (CQT), the deal offers more than -80% savings in distribution costs versus traditional Global Distribution System (GDS) fees.
Richmond to Atlanta and Philadelphia (daily nonstop). Now serves 47 cities. In August 2005, Indianapolis to Atlanta. In November 2005, Indianapolis to Orlando, Southwest Florida International Airport and Sarasota International Airport (daily nonstops). In December 2005, Atlanta & Tampa to Cancun. All flights use 717's, 12 (C) business class, & 105 (Y) coach class.
717-2BD (55050, N922AT) & 737-7BD (33919, N267AT) deliveries.
July 2005: 2nd Quarter = +$11.4 million (-32.3%) (+$16.8 million): +33.8% (RPM) traffic; -.2% (ASM) capacity; +.3 LF load factor. 1st 6 months = +$3.3 million (-84.1%) (+$20.9 million).
For the remainder of 2005, will take delivery of 2 717's and 7 737's for +34% (ASM) capacity in 3rd Quarter and +30% (ASM) in 4th Quarter.
737-7BD (33920, N268AT), delivery.
August 2005: Las Vegas to Flint and Akron-Canton (737, 5/week). In November 2005, Flint - Fort Myers (717, dail nonstop). In a direct challenge to Northwest Airlines (NWA), starts Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, and Orlando International airports (daily nonstops). In February 2005, Detroit - Sarasota-Bradenton.
August 2005: In November 2005, Sarasota-Bradenton to New York LaGuardia (717, daily), and to Boston (737, daily).
6,000 employees (+13.2%) (including 1,050 Flight Crew (FC)).
AirTran Airways (CQT) will retrofit Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) blended winglets on 15 737-700s leased from (GE) Commercial Aviation Services (GEC), with options to add winglets to future deliveries of new 737s. Installation will begin in September and continue into early 2006. (CQT) Senior VP-Flight Operations Stephen Kolski explained the decision to add the devices beginning with a small number of airplanes. "There is no doubt in our mind that winglets save an awful lot of fuel on a long flight," he said, but noted that many of (CQT)'s flights are of short duration. Additionally, the carrier faces ramp constraints at Atlanta. "Part of our dilemma is that we know the price of winglets and we're going to be able to calculate how much fuel they save, but if we put winglets on too many airplanes we're going to lose gates in Atlanta," he added.
USA airlines cancelled dozens of flights across the Gulf Coast region as Hurricane Katrina came ashore. Continental (CAL) said it had cancelled -111 flights at airports in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. A spokesperson for American Airlines (AAL) said (AAL) had cancelled 36 flights. US Airways (USA) cancelled -40 flights, while United Airlines (UAL) dropped -63. (CQT) cancelled -24 flights to New Orleans, Gulfport/Biloxi and Pensacola and all flights to New Orleans and Gulfport/Biloxi, for a total of 18. Delta (DAL) declined to provide a specific number but suspended most or all service to nine cities in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Exercises 6 options 737-600's. 737-7BD (33921, N272AT), delivery.
September 2005: AirTran Airways (CQT) completed a financing agreement with Royal Bank of Scotland for up to $345 million to fund airplane deposits and provide permanent financing for 737-700 deliveries in 2006 and 2007. The transaction frees up $51.9 million in pre-delivery deposits made by (CQT) to Boeing (TBC). SkyWorks Capital advised the airline on the transaction.
Separately, (CQT) said it has suspended service to Gulfport/Biloxi and New Orleans through Wednesday, September 7 because of hurricane Katrina damage.
(CQT) reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract covering approximately 450 airplane mechanics and inspectors (MT), represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. If ratified, the accord becomes effective October 1.
(CQT) would be the biggest beneficiary of a Delta Air Lines (DAL) bankruptcy filing and stands to inherit "16 cents of every revenue dollar (DAL) leaves behind," but the entire industry would profit from anticipated double-digit capacity cuts, according to JP Morgan's Jamie Baker, who "officially" joined the chorus of those "calling for an imminent Chapter 11 filing." In a report released yesterday, Baker forecast that (DAL) will shrink capacity 15% from current levels, "approximating the shrinkage" at United Airlines (UAL) and US Airways (USA) after those carriers entered bankruptcy. If this occurs, industry system capacity growth will decline from 3.9% to 1.7% in 2006, while domestic capacity will rise less than 1%. Song (SGD) and international operations likely will be maintained at current levels while domestic capacity is expected to fall by -17%, according to the analyst. American Airlines (AAL) actually is exposed to more of (DAL)'s revenue than any other carrier, but (DAL) is more likely to cut capacity in markets "where Low Cost Carrier (LCC) penetration is greatest," such as Florida. Although (CQT) generates 5.3% of revenue from services to Gulfport/Biloxi and New Orleans - - more than any other carrier - - it should be able to redeploy capacity away from the hurricane-devastated region.
(CQT) will operate a daily seasonal nonstop service to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers from January 12 to May 3. It will add a sixth daily roundtrip between Boston and Philadelphia December 15 and a seventh February 15.
October 2005: AirTran Airways (CQT) will introduce service from Richmond to Fort Myers February 15 with a single daily roundtrip using a 717. It begins nonstop service between Richmond and Orlando on November 8 as previously announced. (CQT) also announced a fifth daily nonstop from Richmond to Atlanta effective November 16. (CQT) announced it will launch four daily roundtrips between Chicago Midway and Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP) and three daily nonstops between Midway and Boston, beginning December 6. All flights will be aboard 106-seat 717s. Sample one-way fares include $109 coach and $299 business to Boston and $89 coach and $249 business to (MSP). (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago Midway to Minneapolis on December 6th. The airline will operate 4 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago Midway to Boston on December 6th. The airline will operate 3 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will discontinue service from Dallas/Fort Worth to Los Angeles on December 6th. The airline has been operating 2 daily nonstop flights since 2003.
AeroData's (ACARS) Performance and Weight & Balance System was selected by (CQT), which operates more than 500 daily flights across North America, for use by its pilots (FC).
Sabre Holdings said it signed a five-year agreement with (CQT) under which the (CQT) committed to make "all its fares and inventory available through the Sabre Travel Network and Travelocity." Additionally, Travelocity Partner Network will become the sole supplier of hotel, cruise and AirTran Vacations packaging for the (CQT) website. The deal represents a major expansion of the carrier's participation in Sabre and Travelocity; previously it provided just some of its fares and inventory through these channels and past agreements were typically 30 days in length, according to a Sabre spokesperson.
(CQT) continued to restructure its ticket distribution, signing a multiyear agreement with Cendant allowing the carrier's inventory, fares and schedules to be made available through the Galileo Global Distribution System (GDS). (CQT) earlier had aligned with Sabre and Travelocity. It also announced that it no longer will make its inventory available to Expedia, effective immediately, as a result of the termination of its agreement with Worldspan.
(CQT) announced that Director Marketing, Tad Hutcheson and General Manager Operations, Jim Tabor were named VP Marketing & Sales, and VP Operations, respectively.
(CQT) reported near-breakeven results for the third quarter to September 30, losing -$0.2 million for the period, narrowed from a loss of -$9.8 million in the year-ago quarter. "While we continued to drive down nonfuel cost, the increasing price of fuel more than offset our effort," CFO, Stan Gadek commented. Fuel expense for the quarter rose +98% to $127.8 million, representing more than a third of operating expenses for the quarter.
Operating revenues jumped +52.5% to $374.6 million. (CQT) estimated that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita trimmed $4 million in revenue during the quarter. Yield per (RPM) climbed +6.9% to 12.09 cents while traffic rose +42.8% to nearly 3 billion (RPM)s. With load factor up 6.2% points, third-quarter passenger (RASM) grew +16.4% to 9.23 cents.
Operating expenses grew +44.9% to $373.4 million and the carrier managed a small operating profit of +$1.2 million, reversing an operating loss of -$12 million last year. At the unit level, operating cost rose +10.5% to 9.56 cents on a +31.1% increase in (ASM)s but fell -3.1% on a fuel-neutral basis. Excluding fuel, (CASM) was 6.29 cents, down -2.9%.
(CQT) earned +$3.1 million in the nine months ended September 30, down -72.1% compared to earnings of +$11.1 million last year. Operating revenues rose +36.6% to $1.04 billion, but operating expenses climbed +40.5% to $1.03 billion, with the result that operating profit fell -61.3% to +$11.3 million. Fuel expense in the period jumped +88%.
With the delivery of a new 717-200 registered (N923AT), (CQT) became the fastest airline in history to reach 100 airplanes.
737-76N (32662, N273AT), GECAS (GEF) leased. 717-2BD (55051, N923AT) delivery.
November 2005: AirTran Airways (CQT) will end its participation in Worldspan effective November 10. The carrier said it could not come to terms with Worldspan on the cost of participation. (CQT) did, however, reach an agreement with Cendant Travel Distribution Services to distribute its fares, schedules and inventory through Cendant's Galileo/Apollo systems. It reached an agreement to distribute through Sabre and Travelocity last month.
(CQT)'s decision to part company with Worldspan will make it unavailable for booking on third-party Web sites powered by Worldspan, which include Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Hotwire. Curiously, in its public statement (CQT) mentioned only the break with Expedia.
"We have mutually agreed with Expedia that as a result of the termination of our Worldspan agreement, and the limited ability to jointly serve our customers going forward, it is best to discontinue the sale of (CQT) flights at Expedia.com at this time. We have had a productive partnership with Expedia and hope that someday we may be able to renew it," Kevin Healy, (CQT) VP Planning, said in the statement. But Expedia took issue with that interpretation of events.
"(CQT)'s statement that they turned us off is patently inaccurate," it said. "In fact, Expedia.com removed (CQT) from its site" on October 27. "Recent business decisions by (CQT) left our ability to provide great customer service in jeopardy. So we were left with no other option but to turn off the service so as to continue to provide a positive end-to-end customer experience on Expedia.com."
(CQT)'s moves gave rise to speculation on several fronts. It is not among the seven carriers that have announced direct connections with Orbitz. When Orbitz announced the addition of United Airlines (UAL) to its Supplier Direct program a year ago, it said it was working on a connection with an eighth airline but did not disclose its identity.
Orbitz and Worldspan sued each other for fraud in September. Orbitz claimed Worldspan enticed it into signing a long-term agreement, then sprang dubious charges of wrongdoing and presented Orbitz with a $40 million bill. Worldspan claimed Orbitz stole its data to facilitate bookings through its direct connections with airlines. It is not a stretch to assume that Cendant would like Orbitz to get out of its Worldspan contract, which extends into 2011, and use its own Galileo system for bookings on airlines that do not participate in Supplier Direct. If that were achieved, (CQT) would be distributed through Orbitz.
Worldspan has a large subscriber base in Atlanta, where both it and (CQT) are based. But Worldspan agencies can book the carrier on its agency Web site and earn a 5% commission. In addition, (CQT) has direct connections with AgentWare's Travel Console and Outtask's Cliqbook. Worldspan told subscribers that PNRs already booked on (CQT) will remain serviceable, but it reminded agents that other airlines "offer attractive alternatives and provide competitive fares on all routes serviced by (CQT)." Worldspan did have some good news to report with its renewal as a preferred (GDS) provider for Travelsavers, a consortium of 2,850 independently owned travel agencies with annual sales of $18 billion.
The ten largest USA passenger airlines on aggregate lost -$3.24 billion in the third quarter ended September 30, a threefold increase over a loss of -$1.04 billion in the third period of 2004. However, current-period results include more than >$2.5 billion in bankruptcy-related charges at Northwest (NWA), Delta (DAL) and United (UAL). Revenue for the group, which comprises (CQT), Alaska Air Group (ASA), AMR Corp (AAL), Continental (CAL), Delta (DAL), JetBlue (JBL), Northwest (NWA), Southwest (SWA), United (UAL) and US Airways (USA), rose +13.6% to $25.32 billion while expenses climbed just +11.4% in spite of the dramatic run-up in fuel prices throughout the quarter. The result was an industry operating profit of +$213.3 million compared to a loss of -$180.8 million in the year-ago period. Excluding fuel, the third-quarter operating costs grew less than +3% compared to last year, while unit costs dropped -2.3% excluding fuel and special charges.
(CQT) launched daily nonstop service from Detroit to Atlanta and Orlando. It is operating three daily services to Atlanta and a single flight to Orlando. It adds a fourth Atlanta flight December 9 and begins a single daily Detroit - Sarasota flight February 15. (CQT) announced four new daily flights between Boston Logan and Washington Dulles beginning February 15 and two daily flights between Dulles and Orlando starting January 4. (CQT) inaugurated nonstop service from Atlanta and Orlando to Detroit. (CQT) now operates 1 daily flight from Orlando and 3 from Atlanta increasing to 4 on December 6th. On February 15th, (CQT) adds a 6th flight into Detroit, this one operating from Sarasota. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Orlando to Washington's Dulles Airport on January 4th. (CQT) will operate 2 flights a day using the 717. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Boston to Washington's Dulles Airport on February 15th. (CQT) will operate 4 flights a day using the 717 and 737.
717-2BD (55025, N983AT), delivery. 737-76N (32664, N276AT), (GEF) leased.
December 2005: AirTran Airways (CQT) reported record November passenger traffic of 978 million (RPM)s, a +30.2% rise over the year-ago month. Capacity climbed +25.9% to 1.37 billion (ASM)s and load factor increased 2.3 points to 71.4% LF. The 1.45 million passengers enplaned also was a November record!
(CQT) inaugurated nonstop service from Chicago Midway to Boston and Minneapolis. The airline now operates 3 flights on weekdays and 2 on weekends to Boston and 4 flights on weekdays and 3 on weekends to Minneapolis. By mid-May it will operate 28 daily departures from (MDW). (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago's Midway Airport (MDW) to Newark's Liberty International Airport on March 8th. The airline will operate 3 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago's Midway Airport (MDW) to Dallas' Ft Worth International Airport (DFW) on May 9th. (CQT) will operate 3 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will increase frequency from Chicago Midway by one additional daily flight to:
Atlanta = From May 9th;
Minneapolis = from March 8th;
Orlando = From May 9th;
Sarasota = From May 9th.
2 737-76N's (32665, N278AT; 32666, N279AT), (GEF) leased.
January 2006: AirTran (CQT) will not begin service from Boston to Washington's Dulles International Airport as it had announced late last year. (CQT) was planning to operate 4 flights a day using its 717. (CQT) launched seasonal Fort Myers - Akron/Canton service. Daily flights aboard 737-700s will run through May 8. (CQT) will operate twice-daily Atlanta - Seattle/Tacoma service from May 25 through September 4 using 737-700s. Seattle is a new destination. (CQT) will discontinue its daily service between New York LaGuardia and Sarasota-Bradenton on February 15, according to the Bradenton Herald. It launched the route November 8. It will add a second daily flight from Sarasota-Bradenton to Chicago Midway. (CQT) carried a record 1.5 million passengers last month, a +23.3% rise over December 2004. Traffic grew +22.1% to 1.02 billion (RPM)s and capacity climbed +23.9% to 1.45 billion (ASM)s. Load factor decreased -1 point to 70% LF. Year-end figures included record traffic of 11.3 billion (RPM)s, up +33.3% over 2004, and record capacity of 15.27 billion (ASM)s, up +28.3%. Load factor rose +2.7 points to 73.5% LF. A total 16.6 million passengers (+26.3%) (#4 LCC).
(CQT) posted a narrow fourth-quarter loss of -$0.4 million but managed to stay in the black for the seventh consecutive year, earning +$2.7 million in 2005 in spite of a +91% rise in fuel expenses. The carrier earned +$1.13 million in the fourth quarter of 2004 and posted full-year earnings of +$12.3 million.
Commenting on the 2005 results during a webcast, Chairman & CEO Joe Leonard said, "We are not satisfied with the absolute numbers but we are satisfied with the relative numbers," while CFO, Stan Gadek noted, "We have remained profitable while operating in some of the most competitive markets in the USA, while continuing the growth of our network."
Operating revenues for the full year surged +39.1% to $1.45 billion, but operating expenses more than kept pace, climbing +42.2% to $1.43 billion. As a result, operating income declined -54.6% to $14.9 million from $32.8 million.
Yield per (RPM) grew +4% to 12.33 cents on a +33.3% increase in passenger traffic (RPM)s. With capacity up +28.3% (ASM)s, load factor climbed +2.7 points, pushing passenger (RASM) ahead +8.1 to 9.07 cents. Cost per (ASM) rose +10.8% to 9.33 cents but fell -1.6% to 6.25 cents if fuel is excluded.
Fourth-quarter revenues were up +46.1% to $408.1 million, while operating expenses climbed +46.7% to $404.5 million. As a result, operating profit actually rose +1% to +$3.6 million from +$3.5 million, but this was more than offset by higher interest expense and a larger tax burden in 2005. (RPM)s climbed +27.1% while yield jumped +12.4% to 12.19 cents. With load factor up +2.2%, passenger (RASM) surged +15.7% to 9.42 cents but (CASM) grew +17.3% to 9.76 cents, or +1.8% to 6.11 cents excluding fuel.
Commenting on the outlook for 2006, Gadek said (CASM) should be "flat to slightly down" compared with 2005, although it is expected to be up +2% - +3% for the first half.
(CQT) said it is reviving its X-Fare standby program for passengers aged 18 - 22 from January 10. Eligible travelers can fly standby for $69 per segment.
(CQT), which dropped out of Worldspan in November because the two companies could not come to terms on the cost of participation, is back in the (GDS) with a new multiyear, full content agreement, effect January 24. The carrier is distributing inventory, availability and fares through Worldspan at a level of participation called Limited Connect, which is below Worldspan's Full Service level. Worldspan said Limited Connect is designed to meet the distribution needs of carriers that require limited functionality. AirTran (CQT) said it will continue to connect to Orbitz via the Apollo/Galileo system, despite the new agreement. The Apollo arrangement was made when (CQT) dropped out of Worldspan. The Orbitz-Worldspan contract allows Orbitz to use other channels if an airline is not available in Worldspan. The new agreement also does not reconnect (CQT) with Expedia, which also is powered by Worldspan. (CQT) reached agreements to participate in Galileo and Sabre in November.
(CQT) announced the promotion of Director Corporate Finance, Arne Haak to VP Finance & Treasurer. Also, Director Engineering, Kirk Thornburg to VP Maintenance & Engineering.
(CQT) is taking delivery of 18 737-700s and two 717s this year.
737-7BD (33922, N281AT), delivery.
February 2006: AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch daily flights from Indianapolis to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) aboard 737s. Service to (LAX) will commence May 9 and become twice-daily June 20. Flights to (SFO) will start June 7. (CQT) will offer service from White Plains, New York, to Atlanta (twice daily), Orlando (daily) and West Palm Beach (daily) beginning April 4 aboard 717s. Frequency to Atlanta will increase to thrice-daily May 9. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago's Midway Airport to Charlotte on May 9th and operate 2 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will increase the frequency of flights from Chicago's Midway Airport to Minneapolis on May 9th with the addition of a 6th daily flight. The airline currently operates 4 flights on the route with a 5th one from March 8th. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Baltimore to Detroit on May 25th and operate 3 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Baltimore to Milwaukee on May 25th and operate 2 daily flights using a 717-200.
(CQT) launched a new cargo website enabling customers to track shipments 24 hour a day, among other features. It also announced a partnership with Kayak.com to distribute fares and ticket availability through that search engine. Kayak.com was created by Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia.
Navitaire, a unit of Accenture, said (CQT) signed a business process agreement for its "Open Skies" hosted reservation system, renewing services provided under an existing five-year deal.
The final 717 (N939AT) began production this week on the moving assembly line in Long Beach. The airplane is the 156th 717 produced by Boeing (TBC) and will join (CQT)'s fleet in May.
737-7BD (34479, N283AT), delivery and 737-76N (32668, N284AT), (GEF) leased.
March 2006: AirTran Holdings said that it was forced to adjust its fourth-quarter loss to approximately -$1.4 million from the -$0.4 million it announced in January "due to changes in estimates as a result of information which became available to management subsequent to the date of the press release." Its 2005 profit falls from +$2.7 million to approximately +$1.7 million due to the change.
AirTran Airways (CQT) launched thrice-daily, Chicago Midway - Newark service aboard 717s.
Joseph Leonard, (CQT)'s Chairman & CEO, is the 2006 recipient of the "Tony Jannus" Award. He is receiving the honor "for his outstanding achievements, perseverance and 30 years of aviation excellence."
737-7BD (34480, N286AT), delivery & 737-76N (32670, N285AT), (GEF) leased.
April 2006: Struggling to contend with fast-rising fuel costs, AirTran Airways (CQT) posted a -$4.6 million net loss for the first quarter, but continued its expansion push by converting options into firm orders for 14 737-700s. "We continue to be challenged by the high cost of fuel impacting our bottom line," said CFO, Stan Gadek. (CQT) has posted annual profits for seven consecutive years, but last year's net was only +$1.7 million and its first-quarter fuel costs jumped +63% year-over-year to $129.3 million.
Nevertheless, (CQT) remains bullish on growing capacity, adding +24% more (ASM)s in the first quarter and announcing the purchase of 14 737-700s to be delivered in 2008. It also exercised purchase rights for 10 737-700s scheduled for delivery in 2010. First-quarter operating revenues grew +38.8% to $416 million, but operating expenses climbed +36% to $420.5 million, producing an operating loss of -$4.5 million, +52.4% better than an operating loss of -$9.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Yield per (RPM) increased +10.6% to 13.05 cents on a +24.9% gain in (RPM)s to 3.1 billion. (ASM)s rose +24.4% to 4.3 billion. Operating cost per (ASM) grew +9.3% to 9.73 cents, though (CASM) excluding fuel was 6.51 cents. Load factor rose +0.3 point to 70.8% LF, (CQT)'s best-ever first-quarter load factor.
The loss was helped by a $4.2 million credit resulting from an accounting correction. Despite the negative results, (CQT) said it remains on track for long-term profitability because of cost controls. Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard insisted it has the lowest nonfuel costs among USA airlines.
(CQT) will commence twice-daily, Boston - Rochester service from July 6 aboard 717s. (CQT) inaugurated service at White Plains, New York. (CQT) now operates a daily flight to Orlando, a daily flight to West Palm Beach and 2 daily flights to Atlanta increasing to 3 on June 7th, all operated with 717-200s. (CQT) will resume seasonal summer service from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach on April 4th. This year, (CQT) will operate the route until November 6th. From April 4th, (CQT) will operate 2 flights a day doubling to 4 a day from May 9th, all operated with the 717-200.
$1.4 billion, conversion of purchase options on 24 orders (February 2008) 737-700's.
717-2BD (55098, N938AT), & 737-76N (32671, N287AT), (GEF) leased, deliveries.
May 2006: AirTran Airways (CQT) operates over >500 daily flights throughout the eastern USA and the midwest, including over 130 daily departures from Atlanta Hartsfield airport. (CQT) is the world's largest 717 operator.
(CQT) is relocating its two-gate Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP) operations from the main Lindbergh Terminal, home to Northwest Airlines (NWA) and other major carriers, to the Humphrey Terminal on May 18 in order to "further streamline our operating costs." (CQT) flies from (MSP) to Atlanta five times daily, Chicago Midway four times daily, increasing to five on May 9, and Orlando International daily.
(CQT) resumed negotiations with its 1,400 pilots (FC), represented by the National Pilots Association. Talks in Orlando are aimed at renewing a labor contract, that became amendable in April 2005. Another round of negotiations is slated for May 30 - 31 in Baltimore.
(CQT) launched flights from Chicago Midway to Dallas/Fort Worth (thrice-daily) and Charlotte (twice-daily) aboard 717s. (CQT) also started a twice-daily, Indianapolis - Los Angeles service aboard 737s, increasing to thrice-daily from June 20, and announced a daily Indianapolis - San Francisco flight to start June 7. (CQT) launched two daily seasonal Atlanta - Seattle flights aboard 737s. The service, which will be expanded with a third daily flight in August, will run through September 5.
The final 2 717's (155; to Midwest Airlines (MWX), & 55099, N939AT; to (CQT), the No 2 & No 1 largest customers for the twinjet, which started life as the MD-95 in 1995. The two airplanes took the total number of commercial jets (including KC-10s) built at Long Beach to 3,640. Boeing (TBC), which inherited the legacy of Long Beach through its purchase of McDonnell Douglas nine years ago, celebrated the event with a gala dinner for more than >500, while the handover ceremony was framed by a (UPS) DC-8 Super 73, a Northwest Airlines (NWA) DC-9-30 and a Dreamflight DC-3 flown in for the occasion.
(TBC) CEO, Alan Mulally handed over the last two 717s to (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard and Midwest Airlines (MWX) Chairman & CEO, Tim Hoeksema. Jim Phillips, former VP & General Manager of the 717 program, delighted the assembled faithful by announcing that (TBC) will retain a considerable amount of Douglas heritage and icons, including the famous neon "Fly DC-Jets" sign in Douglas Park, the office development that will replace the production halls. Production of the C-17 continues on the opposite side of Long Beach Airport.
1 737-7BD (33924, N288AT), delivery & 737-76N (32673, N289AT), (GEF) leased.
June 2006: AirTran Airways (CQT) will resume nonstop service from Tampa to Gulfport/Biloxi on July 6th. (CQT) will operate a daily flight using its 717-200. (CQT) will resume nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Gulfport/Biloxi on August 29th and operate a daily flight using its 717-200. (CQT) inaugurated nonstop service from Indianapolis to San Francisco on Wednesday. The airline now operates a daily flight using its 737-700. Indianapolis to Los Angeles service, which started on May 9th, will double to 2 daily flights on June 20th. (CQT) launched 2X daily seasonal Atlanta - Seattle flights aboard 737s. The service, which will be expanded with a third daily flight in August, will run through September 5.
737-7BD (33925, N290AT), delivery & 737-76N (32675, N291AT), (GEF) leased.
July 2006: The records piled up for AirTran Airways (CQT) in the second quarter, with net income of +$32 million - - nearly triple the year-ago quarter's +$11.4 million profit - - the highest in any three-month period in its 13-year history. All-time quarterly records also were set for (RPM)s passenger traffic, capacity, enplaned passengers and load factor, figures that "speak clearly of the customers' demand for our product," according to Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard.
Revenues surged +44.2% to $528.2 million and expenses climbed +36.6% to $473.7 million as fuel costs rose +61.7% to $175.1 million. Operating profit jumped to $54.5 million from $19.5 million in the year-ago quarter.
(CQT) flew 3.7 billion (RPM)s, up +25.9%, against a +23.3% increase in capacity to 4.74 billion (ASM)s, lifting load factor +2.4 points to 78.1% LF. It took delivery of six 737s and two 717s during the quarter. Passenger (RASM) grew +16.8% to 10.75 cents and yield increased +13.2% to 13.76 cents. "Our unit revenue performance was especially gratifying since we accomplished it on top of a +23.3% increase in capacity," President & COO, Bob Fornaro said. Unit costs rose 10.8% to 9.99 cents but went up just 1.6% to 6.3 cents excluding fuel.
For the six months ended June 30, (CQT) posted net income of +$27.4 million, eight times the +$3.3 million earned in the year-ago period. Revenue was up +41.8% to $944.2 million, expenses rose +36.3% to $894.2 million and operating income increased to +$50 million from +$10.1 million.
(CQT) will add +2,500 jobs in Georgia over the next five years. It currently employs more than >5,200 in the state out of its total workforce of 7,700. It plans to add more than +80 737s to its fleet during the period along with new routes out of Atlanta. It currently operates 230 daily flights from Georgia, where it also serves Savannah.
(CQT) resumed nonstop service from Tampa to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. (CQT) now operates a daily flight using a 717-200. (CQT) inaugurated nonstop service from Boston to Rochester. (CQT) now operates 2 daily flights using a 717-200. (CQT) launched a twice-daily Rochester (NY) - Boston service, a daily Indianapolis (IND) - San Francisco flight, daily Tampa - Gulfport/Biloxi service and a second daily flight from (IND) to Los Angeles.
737-7BD (33926, N292AT) & 737-76N (32677, N295AT), deliveries.
August 2006: AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch daily Gulfport/Biloxi - Fort Lauderdale service on August 29. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Detroit to Fort Myers on December 21st and operate a daily flight using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Dayton to Tampa on November 15th and operate a daily flight using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Milwaukee to Tampa on December 5th and operate a daily flight using a 717-200. (CQT) will operate the following seasonal winter service from Boston to:
Fort Lauderdale = from November 15th; to Fort Myers = from November 15th; to Orlando = from December 21st; Each route will get a daily flight operated with a 737-700.
(CQT) will add frequency and resume seasonal routes as follows from:
Fort Lauderdale to Indianapolis = Seasonal resuming November 15th;
Fort Myers to Akron = Seasonal resuming December 21st; to Flint = Seasonal resuming in December 21st; to Indianapolis = +1 daily flight on December 21st; Orlando to Bloomington = Seasonal resuming November 15; to Detroit = +1 daily flight on November 7th; to Indianapolis = +1 daily flight on November 7th; to Moline = Seasonal resuming November 15th; to White Plains = +1 daily flight on November 7th;
Sarasota to Chicago (MDW) = +1 daily flight on November 7th; to Detroit = Seasonal resuming December 5th; Tampa to Flint = Seasonal resuming November 15th.
(CQT) announced the cancellation of 31 flights out of Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers as the area braces for Tropical Storm Ernesto. Other carriers announced revisions to rebooking and cancellation policies, and Delta Air Lines (DAL) said it "proactively cancelled some flights."
(CQT) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced the ratification of a five-year labor agreement covering approximately 40 ground support equipment mechanics (MT) and related employees in Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando.
(CQT) named former La Quinta Corporation Chief Accounting Officer, Mark Osterberg as VP & Chief Accounting Officer.
September 2006: AirTran (CQT) Holdings reported record traffic in August, but it was not strong enough to counter the "softening demand," that the carrier expects to continue this month, and that prompted a revision to its third-quarter guidance and future growth plans. In a filing to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), (CQT) Senior VP and CFO, Stan Gadek said unit revenues were "strong" in August but the terrorist scare, weather and "capacity additions on the East Coast" tempered the carrier's performance. It canceled 31 flights in Florida as a result of Tropical Storm Ernesto. "In that regard, we are working on a plan to reduce our growth in the 2007 and 2008 timeframe. More information regarding the capacity changes will be given at a later date," Gadek said. (CQT) consistently has been adding capacity on domestic routes as network carriers cut back.
(CQT) now is forecasting unit revenue growth "in a range of the low single digits" compared to the third quarter of 2005, versus an earlier forecast in the high single digits, and a decline of 3% - 5% in unit costs excluding fuel. It posted a +$32 million net profit in the quarter ended June 30, the highest for any three-month period in its 13-year history.
(CQT) inaugurated nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Gulfport-Biloxi and now operates a daily flight using its 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Newport News/Williamsburg on November 7th and now will operate a daily flight using its 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago Midway to Miami on February 7th and will operate 1 daily flight using 717-200 or 737-700 airplanes. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Chicago Midway to West Palm Beach on February 7th and will operate 1 daily flight using 717-200 or 737-700 airplanes.
(CQT) has rescheduled delivery of 8 737-700s, 5 airplanes due in the 2nd half of 2007 and 3 airplanes due in the 1st quarter of 2008 will be delivered from 2009 through 2011.
737-7BD (34861, N296AT), delivery & 737-76N (32678, N299AT), (GEF) leased.
October 2006: AirTran Holdings, parent of the airline, sank to a third-quarter loss of -$4.3 million despite record passenger numbers and revenue. (CQT) earned +$964,000 in the year-ago quarter, but expenses that grew slightly faster than revenue, resulted in the current-period deficit. Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said demand slowed in August, due to security issues, but booking levels have been "more normal" for November. (CQT)'s average fare did rise +11% to $90.94, helping to offset some of the sluggish demand and a +23% year-over-year increase in fuel costs. Revenues jumped +30.1% to $487.3 million, but expenses were up +32.2% to $490.8 million, producing a -$3.6 million operating loss compared to a +$3.4 million profit in the year-ago quarter.
(CQT) flew 3.64 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic, an increase of +22%, against a +27.1% rise in (ASM)s to 4.97 billion. Load factor dropped -3.1 points to 73.2% LF. It added four 737-700s during the quarter. Yield climbed +6.3% to 12.85 cents as passenger (RASM) rose +2% to 9.41 cents. Operating (CASM) grew +4.1% to 9.89 cents but fell -4% to 6.04 cents excluding fuel.
1st 6 months = 10.88 billion passenger traffic +26.1% (RPK), +23.34% (ASK) capacity, 4.73 million freight traffic +17.73% (FTK), 74.7% LF, 9.89 million passengers +26.07%.
For the nine-month period, net profit more than doubled to +$18.8 million from +$7.7 million a year earlier. Revenues rose +37.6% to $1.43 billion against a +36.2% increase in costs to $1.39 billion, lifting operating income to +$39.67 million from +$18.7 million.
(CQT) will operate daily seasonal service between Chicago Midway and Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) from December 21 through April 16 using 717s. (CQT) announced service from Newburgh NY's Stewart International Airport to a variety of destinations from January 11th as follows:
From Stewart to:
Atlanta, until February 14th, 13 flights a week, then from February 15th, 14 flights a week;
Fort Lauderdale, 5 flights a week, then 7 flights a week;
Orlando, 7 flights a week, then 7 flights a week;
Tampa, 5 flights a week, then 7 flights a week;
All flights will be operated with 717-200s.
(CQT) announced it will add seasonal nonstop service from Indianapolis to 3 Florida destinations, beginning in November. (CQT) will add 4 nonstop flights each week to Miami and West Palm Beach, as well as increase existing daily nonstop service to Fort Myers. Service to Sarasota/Bradenton and Fort Lauderdale, as previously announced, resumes November 15th, with service to Fort Myers, Miami and West Palm beginning in December. Here's an overview of Indianapolis to Florida service:
From Indianapolis to:
Fort Lauderdale, starting November 15th, 1x a day;
Fort Myers, starting December 21st, 3x a day;
Miami, starting December 8th, 4x a week;
Orlando, starting November 15th, 3x a day;
Sarasota, starting November 15th, 1x a day;
Tampa, starting November 15th, 2x a day;
West Palm Beach, starting December 7th, 4x a week.
Flights will operate with a mix of 717-200s and 737-700s.
(CQT) will begin daily flights from White Plains to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Tampa from December 21 aboard 717s. (CQT) will launch 717-200 service from Daytona Beach to Atlanta (flights begin January 12, and service becomes four-times-daily by February 15) and Baltimore-Washington International (daily) from February 15). (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Fort Myers to White Plains (NY) on November 18th and will operate weekend service using a 717-200, and on December 21st, the frequency will increase to daily. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to White Plains (NY) on December 21st and will operate daily service using a 717-200. (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Tampa to White Plains (NY) on December 21st and will operate daily service using a 717-200.
USA legacy carriers have made substantial progress in becoming more competitive but still trail low-cost carriers in a number of areas related to labor efficiency, a new analysis by the USA Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) confirms. The analysis, based on Form 41 data filed by seven network carriers, and seven budget airlines, reveals that Low Cost Carriers (LCC)s reduced the number of full-time-equivalent employees (FTE) per airplane by -16%, from 92 in the first quarter of 2001 to 77 in the first quarter of 2006, while the network carriers reduced their (FTE)s per airplane by -23% but still averaged 99 at the end of the study period, +28.6% higher than the (LCC) group.
Among network carriers, United Airlines (UAL) showed the largest gain as (FTE)s dropped -27.5% from 160 to 116. US Airways (USA) (which was counted in the network group, while America West Airlines (AMW) was included in the (LCC) group), and Northwest Airlines (NWA) had the fewest employees per airplane at the end of the first quarter with 82.
In terms of percentage reduction in (FTE)s, JetBlue Airways (JBL) led the low-cost group as it went from 127 in 2001 to 95 in 2006. In numeric terms, however, most (LCC)s did better: Spirit Airlines (SPR) had 62 (FTE)s per airplane as of the 2006 first quarter, followed by (CQT) (64), Southwest Airlines (SWA) (70), and America West (AMW) (83).
The (LCC)s also boarded an average of +67% more passengers per (FTE) than their network counterparts, 195 to 117. Southwest (SWA) led all airlines at 234 enplanements per (FTE) in the first quarter, up from 203 five years earlier. On a percentage basis, (CQT) performed better, rising from 173 to 220. Among network airlines, (USA) led the group with 149 enplanements and (UAL) lagged at 102, although this was up from 65 in 2001. Overall, the network group improved from an average of 85 enplanements per (FTE) to 117, while the (LCC) group rose from 164 to 195.
Turning to compensation (salary plus benefits), network carriers reduced their annual compensation cost gap to $7,514 compared to $22,139 in 2001, (BTS) reported. Southwest (SWA)'s average annual compensation led the industry at $95,555. Among legacy airlines, (NWA) was highest at $91,613, and (USA) was the lowest at $73,642. Among the (LCC)s, Frontier Airlines (FRO) had the lowest average employee compensation at $55,432 and (CQT) was second-lowest at $59,637.
(CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard was presented with the 2006 "Tony Jannus" Award in St Petersburg. Speaking on behalf of the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society, 1986 winner, Frank Borman said Leonard "is the finest airline CEO in the world today." He joined (CQT) in 1999.
737-7BD (33923, N300AT), delivery.
November 2006: AirTran Airways (CQT) and Frontier Airlines (FRO) have linked their loyalty programs and created a phone/Web-based referral system that will make both networks available to customers of either airline, a move the pair called a "landmark marketing partnership between low-cost carriers (LCC)s."
(CQT) signed a four-year deal with Expedia to provide flight schedules, services, inventories and marketing.
(CQT)'s new Chicago Midway to Miami route, which was scheduled to be inaugurated on February 7th, has been pushed forward and will begin on January 11th. On February 4th, (CQT) will double to 2 daily flights and all will be operated with a 737-700.
American Airlines (AAL) will abandon its services from Boston to Baltimore/Washington International and Orlando International on December 13, according to "The Boston Globe." (CQT) will begin operating the (MCO) service on December 21. (AAL) still will serve 23 destinations from Logan, and is working with local authorities on an upgrade of its facilities at the airport, the paper said.
(CQT) will launch service from Newburgh, New York - - its 51st destination - - on January 11 with 717-200 flights to Atlanta (twice-daily), Fort Lauderdale (five-times-weekly, becoming daily from February 15), Orlando (daily), and Tampa (five-times-weekly, becoming daily from February 15.
737-7BD (34862, N307AT), delivery.
December 2006: Launches Chicago - Fort Myers, 1/day; Indianapolis - Fort Myers, 3/day; White Plains - Fort Lauderdale, 1/day; & White Plains - Tampa, 1/day; all using 717-200s. Starting January 11th, Newburgh - Atlanta, 13/week; - Fort Lauderdale, 5/week; - Orlando, 7/week; & -Tampa, 5/week; all using 717-200s. Starting February 4, Chicago (MDW) - Miami, increase to 2/day with 737-700. Starting February 7th, Chicago (MDW) - West Palm Beach, using 717/737s. AirTran Airways (CQT) will inaugurate nonstop service from Atlanta to Phoenix on February 15th, operating 1 flight a day, increasing to 2 on February 22, and to 3 a day on March 7th using a 737-700. Starting February 15, Newburgh - Atlanta, increased to 14/week; - Fort Lauderdale, increased to 7/week; & - Tampa, increased to 7/week.
(CQT) will be suspending service on the following routes:
Boston to Rochester, on January 4th (Permanent);
Chicago Midway (MDW) to Dallas, on January 6th (Resumes April 13th);
Chicago (MDW) to Newark, on January 6th (Resumes April 13th);
Los Angeles to Indianapolis, on December 7th (Resumes May 4th).
The USA Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this month gave approval for a Registered Traveler (RT) program, that will allow passengers to submit voluntarily to a background check to get an "(RT) card" permitting expedited security clearance at select USA airports. The program will be administered only by approved private-sector providers. The first such provider is Verified Identity Pass, which has been operating its "Clear" Registered Traveler program on a trial basis at Orlando International. It said it plans a "national rollout" at five approved airports later this month: Orlando International (MCO), New York (JFK), San Jose, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. "We anticipate bringing "Clear" to 12 to 20 airports in the next 12 months," CEO, Steven Brill said.
The (RT) program will require participating passengers to pay two fees, one to the private provider and one to (TSA), which said it will charge $28 to "cover the cost of completing a security threat assessment for each applicant and program management expenses," adding, "The timeframe for enrollment and verification is driven strictly by private sector providers."
(TSA) also revealed last week that it is testing "x-ray backscatter technology" that will be able "to detect non-metallic devices and objects, as well as weapons or other harmful objects that a passenger may be carrying on his or her person." It said it is working to "build individual privacy protections into the technology" since it will give screeners full-body images of passengers.
(CQT) would be interested in acquiring assets from Delta Air Lines (DAL) or US Airways (AMW)/(USA) if those carriers need to make sales to alleviate anticompetitive concerns in order to facilitate a potential merger, President & COO, Bob Fornaro said.
Speaking at the Calyon Securities Airline Conference in New York, which was available via webcast, Fornaro noted that (CQT) has a strong presence in markets where (DAL) and (AMW)/(USA) rank among the top two or three carriers and likely would need to reduce their presence to appease antitrust regulators. As of next month, for example, (CQT) will operate 215 daily departures from (DAL)'s base hub at Atlanta Hartsfield. "If we felt we could buy something that would add value, we would do it," he said. "We could help create a solution" to facilitate the proposed (AMW)/(USA) takeover of (DAL).
He predicted that USA regulators "will be receptive" to a (AMW)/(USA)/(DAL) merger. "I think [the merger] has a chance because it could strengthen the industry and [prevent] airlines from coming back to [the USA government] in a few years with hat in hand."
Fornaro said East Coast shuttle operations may be less appealing to (CQT), because much of the revenue on those flights comes from prearranged corporate deals. "The shuttle is really a question mark," he explained. "We could operate those routes very profitably but I'm not sure we could take advantage of all the corporate sales. Our interest [in shuttle operations] would probably be low." He said expansion through consolidation may be USA carriers' best bet, because buying new planes will not be easy. "My assessment is that for at least the next two years, [the airplane] is going to be very tight, and if you want to get a plane, you'll have to pay a premium for it. And it's hard to pay a premium for airplanes and make money in a competitive market like the domestic USA."
(CQT) revealed that it continues to be willing to wager approximately $290 million on the notion that opposites do indeed attract, as the prototypical low-cost carrier (LCC) said it intends to forge ahead in its bid to acquire Midwest Airlines (MWX) despite the Milwaukee-based full-service carrier's rejection of its initial overture.
(CQT)'s first offer of $11.25 in cash and stock per (MWX) Group share, which it said represented a 37% premium on the average closing price for the preceding 30-day period, was presented on October 20 and rejected by (MWX) Chairman, CEO & President, Timothy Hoeksema in a letter dated December 6, that said in part, "The company's strategic plan and remaining independent hold the best promise for continued growth and increased shareholder value going forward." (CQT) responded later with a press release, presentation and letter from Chairman & CEO, Joseph Leonard telling Hoeksema that a merger "better positions the combined company to compete against our larger rivals." But in a counter-statement, Hoeksema reiterated that (MWX) wants to stay independent and said, "We view (CQT)'s offer at only about $5 per share, because it includes approximately $6 per share in cash that already belongs to our shareholders." (CQT) believes a merger would generate in excess of >$60 million in annual synergies and approximately $3 billion in pro forma revenue next year. The route networks contain little overlap and would offer the combined carrier access to markets throughout the USA Southeast, Midwest and East with major hubs in Atlanta and Milwaukee and secondary hubs at Kansas City, Chicago Midway, Baltimore/Washington International and Orlando International, creating more than >$40 million in synergies. The other $20 million would come from cost reductions, much of which would be achieved by replacing (MWX)'s MD-80s with (CQT)'s new 737-700s.
With nine-month revenues of $1.4 billion and a fleet of 123 airplanes comprising 87 717s and 36 737-700s, (CQT) is considerably larger than (MWX), which operates 25 717s and 11 MD-80s, and had nine-month revenues of just under $500 million. Together, the two account for around 2.2% of USA (RPK)s passenger traffic.
(CQT) said it will continue to pursue the acquisition, with Leonard saying that "similar cultures, compatible low-cost business models, complementary networks and fleet commonality" make the carriers "as close to a perfect fit as anyone can imagine." (MWX) said it is rejecting overtures from (CQT), because the offer isn't in the best interests of its employees, shareholders, customers or the communities it serves. (CQT) revealed the $290 million deal, saying the two carriers are compatible and together could become a "national low-cost, high-quality airline" generating $3 billion in pro forma revenue next year.
Despite the rosy scenario painted by its suitor, (MWX) demurred, saying it prefers to go it alone, as it has done since it began flying out of its Milwaukee hub in 1984. "We are successful because we provide customers with an exceptional travel experience," CEO, Tim Hoeksema said, reiterating the company's rejection. "Our product and service are unique and are not readily compatible with another carrier." Hoeksema said (MWX) is projecting annual capacity growth of more than >10% over the next three years along with "significant growth in profitability." He added, "While it is the fiduciary obligation of the board of directors to review credible offers, the board unanimously concluded that (MWX)'s business plan as a standalone company would support a considerably better return to our shareholders than (CQT)'s offer." Said (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard: "We're hopeful the (MWX) board will reconsider and sit down with us and create a dialogue. To the outside observer, this is a natural." (CQT) said it intends to bring new jobs and flights to Milwaukee if its $290 million bid for (MWX) is successful. It said its recent growth - - it has added +2,800 jobs in the past five years - - compares favorably to (MWX)'s, which (CQT) said has cut -500 jobs during the same period, citing Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. It also has 60 737s on order, and said it is preparing to add +3,000 positions in the next five years. (MWX) has two MD-80s on order, (CQT) said. "(CQT) has both its history and the future firm airplane orders to deliver on its pledge to add jobs in Milwaukee," Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard argued.
(CQT) employees threw their support behind the proposed merger with (MWX). (CQT) said a letter addressed to Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard and signed by three unions and two internal employee organizations, cited "the common cultures and entrepreneurial spirit" at both carriers, and offered "to meet with our counterparts at (MWX)" and "to stand together to help make this merger a reality."
4 737-7BDs (33929, N309AT; 33930, N311AT; 35109, N308AT; 35110, N312AT), deliveries.
January 2007: AirTran Airways (CQT) parent AirTran Holdings posted 2006 net income of +$15.5 million, nearly double the +$8.1 million it earned in 2005, despite a fourth-quarter net loss of -$3.3 million, reversed from a +$369,000 profit in the year-ago quarter. "The year 2006 was very challenging with our average fuel prices again rising over >20% for the third year in a row," Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said. Speaking of the fourth-quarter loss, President & COO, Bob Fornaro added, "While we were profitable in November and December, these profits were insufficient to offset our losses in October."
Full-year revenue rose +30.5% to $1.89 billion while expenses increased +29.7% to $1.85 billion, producing operating income of +$42.1 million, a +79.4% jump over operating profit of +$23.5 million in the prior year. Fuel costs surged +46% to $675 million. Traffic lifted +22.4% to 13.84 billion (RPM)s on a +23.7% boost in capacity to 19.01 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 72.8% LF, down -0.7 point. Yield increased +6.2% to 13.13 cents as (RASM) rose +5.2% to 9.56 cents and (CASM) grew +5% to 9.74 cents. (CASM), excluding fuel, dropped -1.3% to 6.19 cents. "I am pleased that for the fifth consecutive year we have lowered our nonfuel unit costs," CFO, Stan Gadek said. Fornaro projected a strong first quarter, saying, "We are encouraged by lower capacity levels in our markets and by recent declines in fuel prices."
AirTran Holdings raised its stakes with a new exchange offer for shares of (MWX) Group, announcing it would pay $13.25, including $6.25 in cash, and 0.5884 shares of (CQT) stock for each outstanding (MWX) share. The new offer values the Milwaukee-based parent of (MWX) at $345 million and represents a +18% hike compared to (CQT)'s previous offer of $11.25 per share or $290 million. "We made it pretty clear when we put our offer out, that we weren't going to go away," (CQT) CEO, Joe Leonard said. (MWX) had "stonewalled, without a doubt," so (CQT) opted to take the issue to the company's stockholders, he said. Earlier, (MWX) had unveiled its plan to boost revenue and increase capacity this year in an effort to bolster shareholder value and fend off (CQT), whose offer increase came the day after US Airways (AMW)/(USA) took the same tack in its pursuit of Delta Air Lines (DAL). (MWX) shareholders have until February 8 to submit their shares, Leonard said. (CQT) has set up a wholly owned subsidiary based in Wisconsin, Galena Acquisition Corp, to handle the transaction. Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are serving as financial advisers. (MWX) released a statement advising shareholders to take no action and allow time for the company's board of directors to "review and consider" the offer. It said the board would make a recommendation within 10 business days. Goldman Sachs, hired by (MWX) in December as a financial adviser, also will review the plan.
AirTran Holdings, which has launched a tender offer to acquire control of Midwest Air Group said that the latter's plan for growth is "not well suited for low-cost competition" and relies too heavily on the use of older airplanes such as 50-seat CRJs and MD-80s. Recently, (MWX) unveiled its plan to boost revenue and increase capacity in an effort to bolster shareholder value and fend off (CQT)'s takeover effort. (CQT) responded by launching an exchange offer valuing (MWX) at $345 million. In recent comments, (CQT) said that an estimated 58% of (MWX)'s revenue is concentrated in its top 20 markets, with nearly 25% coming from the top five. The carrier's success depends on average fare premiums on routes such as Milwaukee - Boston and Milwaukee - New York LaGuardia, on which it provides the only nonstop service, but (CQT) contended these routes likely will face competition in the future. It said it has hesitated to attack "(MWX) vulnerabilities" that would weaken the company and instead would prefer to merge the two airlines and incorporate the (MWX) network, its employees and markets. "The value of the company is more than simply the hard assets," (CQT) said. "Combining the strengths of (MWX) and (CQT) will create one of the strongest airlines in the USA." AirTran Holdings went to court in an attempt to force the Midwest Air Group to release its list of shareholders. (CQT) claimed that (MWX) management is withholding the list in an attempt to thwart (CQT)'s effort to present its takeover offer, and it asked the New York State Supreme Court to direct (MWX) to show cause as to why it is not complying with state law. A hearing is set for January 30.
(CQT) launched twice-daily, Atlanta - Phoenix flights aboard 737-700s. Starting April 17th, Atlanta - White Plains increased to 3/day, using 717-200s. Starting May 8th, West Palm Beach - White Plains, increased to 3/day, using 717-200s; new 4/day, Atlanta - St Louis, using 717-200s. Starting May 24th, new 2/day, Atlanta - San Diego, using 737-700s. Starting June 7th, new daily, Orlando - St Louis, using 717-200s.
February 2007: AirTran Holdings said that it has extended the deadline on its exchange offer for shares in the Midwest Air Group to March 8 from February 8 "so that (MWX)'s shareholders can receive all the information they need." (CQT) filed suit in the New York Supreme Court to force (MWX) to release shareholder names and said that (MWX) "should provide a level playing field for its shareholders to fairly consider (CQT)'s proposal" if management "is so confident about its 'stay-the-course, go-it-alone plan.' "(CQT) said 38,966 shares of (MWX) common stock have been tendered pursuant to the offer so far. In conjunction with the extension, it said it would nominate three individuals to (MWX)'s board at the next annual shareholders meeting, among them recently retired Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (TLS/PAO), President & CEO, Jeffrey Erickson. (CQT)'s bid to acquire (MWX) was dealt a slight setback, when the New York Supreme Court ruled the carrier was not entitled to a list of (MWX) shareholders. (CQT), which sought to take its $345 million tender offer directly to shareholders, said it will appeal the ruling and continue to provide information about its merger proposal to (MWX) shareholders. "Because (CQT) could not meet Wisconsin's statutory requirements for obtaining the names of our shareholders, they formed a New York subsidiary company, (CQT), in an attempt to take advantage of that state's law and thereby circumvent Wisconsin law," (MWX) Senior VP, Carol Skornicka said. (MWX) said holders of the remaining $21.6 million of senior secured convertible debt have completed the conversions of their respective positions to equity. Chairman & CEO, Tim Hoeksema said the transaction will reduce annual interest expense by -$1.5 million. (CQT) said a merger with (MWX) would create +1,100 new jobs in Milwaukee and add +74 flights out of Mitchell International Airport. In a filing with the USA (SEC), (CQT) offered details that painted a positive economic outlook if it acquires (MWX), estimating that the total economic benefit to Wisconsin would be nearly +$1 billion annually. New jobs would comprise +396 flight attendants (CA), +315 customer service employees, +264 pilots (FC), +66 mechanics (MT), 50 reservations agents, and 25 management and administrative employees. But (MWX) officials continue to rebuff all overtures. Senior VP, Carol Skornicka told the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" that the filing was "unrealistic and inconsistent with their previous filings."
(CQT) launched daily Orlando International (MCO) - Charlotte and daily, (MCO) - Richmond service. Daily, Baltimore (BWI) - West Palm Beach flights will operate March 6 to April 16. (CQT) is operating Saturday, Buffalo - Fort Lauderdale service through April 15, a second (BWI) - Fort Myers flight March 6 to April 16, and a fifth daily Atlanta - New Orleans flight.
The USA Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee approved legislation to require the screening of all cargo in the bellies of passenger airplanes within three years. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last May approved a rule that did not include such a strict requirement. "The steps proposed in this bill will both improve our existing security system and give the (TSA) the flexibility to combat new and emerging threats," committee Chairman, Daniel Inouye (Democrat-Hawaii) said in a statement. It was not clear what types of screening will be acceptable. Passenger airlines have strongly opposed 100% screening of belly cargo on grounds that it is impractical and will slow airfreight flow greatly. While this legislative action was a first step toward possible passage, the proposed bill still is a long way from becoming law, which requires passage by the full Senate and House as well as President Bush's signature.
Twenty-two additional carriers reportedly have joined (CQT), Alaska Airlines (ASA), ATA Airlines (AAT), Frontier Airlines (FRO), Midwest Airlines (MWX), Southwest Airlines (SWA), and US Airways Group (AMW)/(USA) in filing a joint complaint with the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) opposing new terminal charges at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which this week broke ground on a $723.5 million renovation of its Bradley International Terminal. (LAX) raised fees on February 1 to help pay for "much-needed airport improvements," operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said in a statement in response to this month's original (DOT) filing by the initial seven carriers. "In recent years, (LAWA) has absorbed the increasing costs to maintain and operate its terminals and other facilities at (LAX) without passing these costs on to airline tenants," it said. But the seven airlines "estimate the collective financial impact [of the new charges] over the next 15 to 20 years at more than >$1 billion, with a near-tripling of charges from $20 million to $56 million in the first year alone," they said in a joint statement. "(LAWA) is not a private commercial landlord," their (DOT) filing noted. "Rather, (LAWA) is a public utility with monopoly power over the airlines wishing to serve (LAX) . . . access to (LAX) on fair and nondiscriminatory terms is essential." (LAWA) responded that while the new charges "may not be well received by some airlines," its previous model for assessing rent "is outdated and does not reflect the current aviation environment."
3 737-7BDs (33927, N315AT; 33928, N316AT; 35788, N313AT), deliveries.
March 2007: Midwest Airlines (MWX) said in a letter to shareholders that "AirTran Airways (CQT)'s business is deteriorating" and that it wants to acquire (MWX) to prevent further erosion. "(CQT) leaves a trail of broken promises in markets it enters, with great fanfare," said the letter signed by (MWX) Chairman & CEO, Tim Hoeksema. "(CQT) typically promises growth and enhanced service, only to retreat, when it can't keep its word." (CQT) filed documents with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), detailing its business plan for the proposed merger, saying it would bring +1,100 jobs to the Milwaukee area, and boost the Wisconsin economy by +$1 billion. (MWX) urged shareholders to continue to support its efforts to remain independent and refuse to tender shares to (CQT). Later, (CQT) responded to (MWX)'s accusation that "(CQT)'s business is deteriorating," saying that its "record speaks for itself." (CQT) said that "(MWX)'s comments are out of line, and inconsistent with the reality of the market. (CQT)'s plan is focused on jobs and economic growth in the Milwaukee community and we will continue to push our proposal, which we believe will create greater value for (MWX) shareholders." It claimed it will add +29 destinations and +74 flights, as well as create +1,100 jobs at (MWX)'s Milwaukee base as part of its $345 million tender offer. (MWX) contends that (CQT) will pull out if Milwaukee does not meet expectations and called the forecast "extremely unrealistic." (MWX) VP, Carol Skornicka said that "clearly this is not a profitable plan, so the promises are not likely to be kept. If they ever do start to serve these destinations with this many flights, they are not likely to remain for long." This was followed by AirTran Holdings extending the deadline on its offer to the Midwest Air Group shareholders in hopes the two sides will reach a deal. The $345 million stock and cash exchange offer was due to expire but was pushed back to April 11. Meanwhile, (CQT) continues its campaign to win over (MWX) shareholders and has nominated three candidates for the (MWX)'s board, none of whom are connected to either airline but who have experience in "corporate business issues," Senior VP, General Counsel & Secretary, Richard Magurno said. "I think we will have a good chance of ousting the elected board," he said. (MWX) has not set a date for the next board meeting. Thus far, 1.7 million of (MWX)'s 24.1 million outstanding shares have been tendered, Magurno said, adding, "I think (MWX) was surprised about the number of shares that have been tendered."
Starting April 17th, weekdays, becoming thrice daily, May 8th Baltimore - Dallas (DFW), using 717-200s. Starting May 8th, thrice daily, Baltimore - Charlotte, and twice daily, - Milwaukee, using 717-200s. Starting May 24th, five times weekly, Baltimore - Seattle, using 717-200s. Starting June 7th, thrice-daily, Baltimore - Portland (Maine) (PWM), using 717-200s. Starting June 9th, Saturday service, Orlando - Portland (Maine), using 717-200s. Starting June 29th, Orlando - San Diego, using 737-700s. (CQT) will launch daily flights from Orlando International to Memphis and Kansas City (MCO) and a second daily (MCO) - Milwaukee flight on May 8. It also added a third daily, Atlanta - Phoenix service.
2 737-7BDs (33931, N318AT; 35789, N317AT), & 4 737-890s (35184, N569AS; 35185, N570AS; 35186, N577AS; 35187, N579AS), deliveries.
April 2007: The board of Midwest Air Group reviewed and unanimously rejected AirTran Holdings' third merger proposal, prompting the Atlanta-based carrier to label its target "irresponsible" and "delusional." (MWX) Chairman & CEO, Tim Hoeksema said (CQT)'s revised offer of $15 in cash and stock per share, which valued the company at approximately $389 million, once again "does not take into account the long-term value of our strategic plan." (MWX) also said it received an oral opinion from Goldman, Sachs & Co last week that the offer was "inadequate." (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said the board's decision "flies in the face of good corporate governance and is clearly irresponsible." (CQT) will move forward with its effort to seat three (MWX) directors at the rescheduled June 14 annual shareholders meeting, he continued. (MWX) shares closed at $14.62, below (CQT)'s offer of $15.75 each. (MWX) argued that its improved 2006 performance, in which it reported a +$5.4 million profit after losing -$64.9 million in 2005, "provides clear evidence of the strength of its strategic plan." It called (CQT) "opportunistic" and said its suitor was attempting "to take advantage of the significant strategic initiatives undertaken and investments made by (MWX) during the recent down cycle in the airline industry." It also said its $171 million in cash in hand represents more than 70% of the cash portion of (CQT)'s latest offer. In addition, (MWX) said its stock price has risen +158% against a -29% fall in (CQT) shares during the past year. However, it also conceded that a difficult first quarter, in which severe weather played havoc throughout the USA Midwest, has forced it to revise its full-year earnings projection. It will report a "heavier loss than normal," when it releases its first-quarter results on April 26, a (MWX) spokesperson said, and now forecasts full-year (EPS) of $1.30 to $1.50 rather than earlier projections of $1.70 per share.
(CQT) voiced its support for the USA (FAA)'s initiative to raise the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots (FC) to 65 from 60. The (FAA) expects to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by year end. The National Pilots Association, which represents (CQT)'s 1,400 pilots (FC), recently voted unanimously to allow pilots (FC) an additional five years of flying. Meanwhile, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is waiting for the May release of a report prepared by its "Age 60 Blue Ribbon" Panel before announcing its position. Currently, (ALPA) policy supports "Age 60."
2 737-7BDs (33932, N320AT; 36073, N323AT), sold to Arik Air (AKI).
May 2007: AirTran Airways (CQT) launched twice-weekly, Atlanta - Charleston service, which becomes four-times-weekly from June 7.
(CQT) launched service at St Louis, from which it will operate four daily flights to Atlanta. Twice-daily flights to Orlando International begin June 7. Starting November 7th, Baltimore - Miami, using 717s. (CQT) was awarded the right to operate a fifth daily Washington National (DCA) - Atlanta service beginning July 10, the USA Department of Transportation announced, saying (CQT)'s application for the two (DCA) slots was selected over those of ATA Airlines (AAT) (to Chicago Midway), Comair (COI) (to Little Rock), Midwest Airlines (MWX) (to Milwaukee), and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) (to Pensacola) "because it would provide the greatest competitive benefits." The slot exemption was made available when Spirit Airlines (SPR) ended its (DCA) - Detroit service on January 9.
(CQT) announced a tentative agreement with the National Pilots Association for a four-year labor deal covering more than 1,500 pilots (FC). If approved, the contract will take effect July 1.
AirTran Holdings extended its tender offer to the Midwest Air Group shareholders to June 8 following the recent expiration, the third time it has pushed back the deadline on a bid, that repeatedly has been rejected by the Milwaukee-based carrier, since it first was made public last December. Meanwhile, (MWX) strengthened its position by entering into a codeshare agreement with longtime rival Northwest Airlines (NWA). (CQT) said (MWX) shareholders have agreed to tender more than >13.9 million shares, or 56.6% of outstanding shares, to Galena Acquisition Group, a wholly owned (CQT) subsidiary established to handle the merger. "Nothing has changed as far as control of the Midwest Air Group is concerned. No shares have been purchased by (CQT)," (MWX) Senior VP, Carol Skornicka said. "The exchange offer is subject to numerous conditions. Regardless of the number of shares tendered, (CQT) would not purchase shares unless those conditions are waived and satisfied." She also pointed out that Wisconsin state law protects companies from hostile takeovers. (CQT) CEO, Joe Leonard said the 56.6% level constitutes a "ringing endorsement" for a merger and suggested it represents a "vote of no confidence in (MWX)'s risky go-it-alone plan." But (MWX) no longer is going it alone following yesterday's codeshare announcement. Apparently preferring an alliance with its neighbor over a strengthened (CQT), (NWA) signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) under which both carriers' networks will be expanded by 250 city-pairs and more than >1,000 new flight options for passengers. The arrangement will take effect this summer pending final agreement. (MWX) shareholders will elect three directors to the board at the company's June 14 annual meeting. (CQT) is promoting a slate of three candidates who support the merger, while (MWX) is urging shareholders to reelect current board members. Investment group Octavian Advisors, which controls 6.6% of (MWX), issued a statement urging shareholders to support the merger.
(CQT) announced an order for 15 737-700s for delivery in 2011 to 2012. The carrier now has ordered 115 of the type. (CQT) currently operates 45. Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said the order "will provide the needed airplanes, that will allow (CQT) to move forward with our strategic expansion while maintaining our business model."
737-7BD (33933, N326AT) delivery.
June 2007: (SITA) and Flight Explorer are developing an integrated decision-support solution that combines the Flight Explorer Aircraft Situation Display with (SITA)'s Aircom product for inflight data link communication. AirTran Airways (CQT), which already uses both systems, is set to carry out the first tests of the combined solution in September.
AirTran Holdings once again extended its tender offer to the Midwest Air Group shareholders, this time through August 10. When the third extension expired on June 8, (MWX) shareholders had agreed to tender 59.5% of outstanding shares, or 64.1% of the outstanding shares not held by members of (MWX)'s board or management. (CQT)'s current offer values (MWX) at $389 million. AirTran Holdings may have nudged the Midwest Air Group a step closer to a merger after its three candidates were elected to the nine-member (MWX) board. In light of the change, (MWX) said it would permit (CQT) to present its takeover proposal to the board. But at the same time, the Milwaukee-based carrier made a point of stating that it had made "no determination to engage in negotiations with (CQT)." Based on a preliminary vote count, (CQT) nominees John Albertine, Jeffrey Erickson and Charles Kalmbach received an estimated 65% of shares voted. The results will be certified and announced June 26. "While we are disappointed by these results, we recognize that our shareholders have spoken," (MWX) Chairman & CEO, Timothy Hoeksema said. "If today's election says anything at all, it says that our shareholders want us to listen and that is what we intend to do." Earlier, (CQT) had extended its tender offer until August 10. The offer values (MWX) at $389 million in cash and stock, and thus far, shareholders have agreed to tender 59.5% of all outstanding shares not owned or held by (MWX)'s board or management. "This is an important victory for all (MWX) shareholders," (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said. "There is clearly a strong desire among (MWX) shareholders for positive corporate governance change and for (MWX) to fully and fairly consider the merits of a combination with (CQT)."
(MWX) announced that second-quarter earnings would "fall short of analysts' expectations" and could dip below the +$8.8 million earned in the 2006 second quarter, a revelation quickly seized upon by AirTran Holdings to bolster its takeover bid. AirTran Holdings announced that independent inspectors for the Midwest Air Group confirmed that shareholders representing 65% of the company's shares, elected three (CQT) nominees to the (MWX) board at a recent election, and that (CQT) will meet with the newly constituted (MWX) board on July 16 regarding its bid to buy the Milwaukee-based airline. "We plan to review, in detail, the benefits of a merger of our two companies, and then move expeditiously to effect a definitive merger agreement," (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings said it is forecasting a "record" profit in the second quarter, despite that fact that it expects unit revenue to fall -3% to -5% from the year-ago period, when it reported (RASM) of 10.75 cents. But nonfuel unit cost also will decline, by an estimated -5% to -6% from the 6.3 cents in the second quarter of 2006, when it earned +$32 million.
(CQT) will relocate its entire operation at Orlando International (MCO) to Landside B and Airside 4, effective June 27, doubling its customer handling capacity at the ticket counter. It will have 23 self-serve kiosks and four staffed positions at check-in, rather than the 10 kiosks and six staff at the old Landside A and Airside 2 location. It will have eight gates in Terminal B and this summer plans to launch service from (MCO) to Memphis, Kansas City, San Diego, St Louis, and Portland, Maine.
July 2007: AirTran Airways (CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings reported a second-quarter profit of +$41.5 million on record passenger traffic. The result marked a +29.9% increase from the +$32 million earned in the second three months of 2006. Operating revenue climbed +16.3% to $614.1 million and expenses rose +14.9% to $544.3 million. Fuel cost was up +16.5% to $204 million and operating profit rose +28% to a company-record +$69.7 million.
The airline carried +6.3 million passengers during the quarter, up +16.9%, while flying 4.53 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic, up +22.3% year-over-year. Capacity rose +21.3% to 5.75 billion (ASM)s as it added 18 new 737-700s in the past year, and the load factor of 78.8% LF represented an increase of +0.7 point and an all-time record for the carrier. It launched more than a dozen new routes in the second quarter alone. Yield fell -5.9% to 12.95 cents as average fare declined -1.5% to $92.74. Unit revenue dropped -5.1% to 10.20 cents, while operating (CASM) dipped -5.2% to 9.47 cents, or -6% to 5.92, cents excluding fuel. "Looking forward, passenger demand appears strong. With the delivery on July 16 of our last Boeing (TBC) 737-700 for 2007, we expect to see improving trends in unit revenue and costs during the second half," President & COO, Bob Fornaro said.
The USA General Services Administration awarded one-year contracts worth a combined $2.02 billion to 14 domestic carriers effective October 1. Contracts cover federal travelers on official business and went to United Airlines (UAL) ($661.1 million), American Airlines (AAL) ($389.7 million), Delta Air Lines (DAL) ($370.5 million), US Airways (AMW)/(USA) ($314.7 million), Alaska Airlines (ASA) ($54.5 million), Northwest Airlines (NWA) ($35.8 million), (CQT) ($36.5 million), Frontier Airlines (FRO) ($17.4 million), ExpressJet Airlines (Continental Airlines (CAL) subsidiary) ($8.8 million), Midwest Airlines (MWX) ($4.1 million), JetBlue Airways (JBL) ($2.9 million), Mesa Air Group ($2.5 million), ATA Airlines (AAT) ($756,486), and North American Airlines (NNA) ($223,205).
(CQT) issued revised second-quarter guidance forecasting a -5% to -5.5% decline in unit revenue, steeper than the -3% to -5% fall predicted last month. It reported (RASM) of 10.75 cents in the second quarter of 2006. Nonfuel (CASM) is expected to fall -5.25% to -5.75%, similar to last month's projection of a -5% to -6% slide. "Advance booked load factors for the third quarter are well ahead of last year, and the company continues to expect unit revenues to be up in the second half of 2007," it said in a filing with the USA Securities and Exchange Commission.
(CQT) increased its Milwaukee - Las Vegas frequency to daily. (CQT) announced an upgrade to its Portland, Maine, service. Seasonal weekly flights to Orlando International will become a year-round daily service beginning November 7. Twice-daily flights to Baltimore, originally scheduled to end November 6, will continue until January 7, and be resumed at a later date.
(CQT) took delivery of its 50th 737NG. It took its first of the type in August 2004. It also operates 87 717s.
August 2007: The Midwest Air Group took a further step toward a possible acquisition by AirTran Airways Holdings, which has been pursuing it for more than eight months, announcing it had appointed a committee to "commence discussions with AirTran Airways (CQT) regarding its proposal to acquire all the outstanding shares of Midwest (MWX)." The company added that the committee also will "hold discussions with other strategic and financial parties that have recently expressed interest in pursuing a transaction with (MWX)." The decision came a few days after the (MWX) reported a -44.6% drop in second-quarter earnings. In June, (CQT) was successful in getting a slate of three directors elected to the nine-person (MWX) board.
(CQT) welcomed the move. "We are pleased that (MWX) has taken the step to form a special committee and we look forward to working with that committee," (CQT) CEO, Joe Leonard said.
2 737-7BDs (33935, N331AT; 36399, N330AT), deliveries.
August 2007: AirTran Airways (CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings said an error related to passenger revenue accounting, required a restatement of its first-quarter earnings. Net profit for the three months ended March 31 was reduced to +$2.2 million from the +$2.4 million it reported in April, compared to a -$8.9 million loss in the year-ago quarter. First-quarter operating income was +$12.9 million, rather than the originally stated +$13.4 million.
The Midwest Air Group closed the door on an acquisition by eager AirTran Holdings, opting instead to pursue an unexpected all-cash deal offered by private equity investment firm Texas Pacific Group (TPG) Capital, which is partnering with (MWX) neighbor Northwest Airlines (NWA). (TPG) Capital, which has been involved in recent bids for Qantas (QAN), Alitalia (ALI), and Iberia (IBE), could finalize a "definitive" merger agreement with (MWX) as early as August 15, both (TPG) and (MWX) said.
On July 31, (MWX) announced it would open talks with (CQT), but also said it would hold discussions with other groups that had expressed an interest in the company. (CQT) had offered $15.75 per (MWX) share, with a total equity value of cash and stock in excess of >$431 million, the Atlanta-based carrier said. Recently, (MWX) board members unanimously approved the pursuit of (TPG)'s offer of $16 cash per share. (NWA) released a statement saying that it would provide some financing, but would not participate in management or control of (MWX). "The previously announced codeshare agreement between (NWA) and (MWX) will remain in place and the two airlines will explore cost reduction activities such as joint fuel purchasing," it said.
"Our acquisition would provide for greater stability and prospects for all of the company's important constituencies," (TPG) Capital Partner Richard Schifter wrote in the proposal letter to (MWX). "We believe that our experience in this sector, together with our track record for maintaining stable, long-term investments, argue strongly in favor of an acquisition by (TPG)." In announcing its decision to drop its bid, (CQT) rebuked (MWX)'s decision, noting that the board was ignoring the "overwhelming majority" of shareholders' wishes. "Instead, the (MWX) board has chosen a path that will benefit current senior management by selling to a private equity firm and a so-called 'passive investor' [NWA] whose involvement will surely raise antitrust concerns, causing doubt for shareholders on whether a transaction can, in fact, close," (CQT) CEO, Joe Leonard said. This was followed by AirTran Holdings raising its bid for the Midwest Air Group, offering $16.25 per share in cash and stock, exceeding the $16 per share cash offer from (TPG) Capital and (NWA), that was endorsed unanimously by the (MWX) board. (CQT) estimated the total value of its new offer at $445 million. "(MWX)'s shareholders are concerned that the acquisition of (MWX) by a private equity firm, along with (NWA), will block competition, raise fares, reduce employment levels and reduce service," (CQT) Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said. He reiterated that antitrust issues could prevent a (TPG)/(MWX) deal from closing. The new offer comprises $10 cash per share and 0.6056 share of (CQT) common stock. Pequot Capital Management, an investment firm that holds an estimated 8.8% of (MWX), urged the company to reconsider its decision to support (TPG)'s bid, saying it still believed that (CQT) would be the better choice, according to press reports. (MWX) released a statement saying the board "will take (CQT)'s revised offer under consideration." Analysts at Raymond James & Associates said (NWA)'s involvement was designed to keep a low-cost competitor out of its Midwestern USA stronghold. "(NWA), in our view, would dismantle (MWX) over time, and integrate its operations into (NWA)," the report said. Later still, (MWX), which accepted a cash buyout offer of $17 per share from (TPG) Capital and (NWA), could end up being owned by (NWA), a (TPG) partner acknowledged. (NWA) repeatedly has been described as a "passive investor" in the $450 million all-cash deal. "It's not anything that we see happening in the near term," (TPG) partner, Richard Schifter said during a conference call, when asked if (NWA) might acquire (MWX). "At this stage, we see various exit options as a firm. The public market is one. Another is a sale to (NWA), but by no means is that the exclusive one." He declined to reveal the size of (NWA)'s investment or stake. (NWA) reiterated that it would hold a "nonmanaging and nonvoting" role in the limited liability company, it formed with (TPG) to acquire (MWX), adding that it will "have no involvement or decision-making authority in the management" of the airline. It maintains "the right, but not the obligation to acquire (TPG)'s interest in the company in certain circumstances" but has "no current plans to exercise that right." "We believe this is a positive for our shareholders, our customers, our employees and the community we serve," (MWX) Chairman & CEO, Timothy Hoeksema said. "It preserves the hometown service as well as the strong (MWX) brand." Schifter said (TPG) developed an interest in (MWX) last month, and described it as "a quality airline with a terrific management team and employee workforce."
(MWX)'s second-quarter profit fell -44.6% year-over-year to +$4.9 million.
The purchase still must be approved by (MWX) stockholders and antitrust authorities. The company expects to complete the transaction by year end. Hoeksema pointed out that the carrier already codeshares with (NWA), and that the pair could benefit from additional "synergies" such as bulk purchasing of fuel and insurance as well as in distribution. (CQT) said it was ending its efforts to purchase (MWX). "We sought to acquire (MWX), because a merger made strategic operational sense and we pursued a deal vigorously," CEO, Joe Leonard said. "But (CQT) doesn't need to merge with any other carrier to achieve our business goals."
(CQT) launched the following service to/from Las Vegas: Four-times-weekly, Bloomington/Normal, thrice-weekly, Akron/Canton, four-times-weekly Flint, thrice-weekly, Rochester, thrice-weekly, Moline/Quad Cities, and thrice-weekly, Dayton.
(CQT) announced a tentative labor agreement with the National Pilots Association (NPA), which represents 1,450 active pilots (FC). The (NPA) board endorsed the agreement and sent it to membership for a vote, the results of which will be announced September 21. (CQT) hired 22 pilots (FC) in July, is hiring 12 this month. Predicts it will hire 150 pilots (FC) in 2007.
September 2007: Lancope Inc said AirTran Airways (CQT) deployed its StealthWatch Network Behavior Analysis System to secure its financial transactions, protect passenger data and ensure that all information in its network is safe.
October 2007: Fast-growing AirTran Airways (CQT) reported third-quarter net income of +$10.6 million, reversing a net loss of -$4.6 million in the year-ago quarter, as it continued to buck the growth-cautious USA industry by increasing capacity +20.9%. (CQT) will slow capacity growth to +10% in 2008, but executives said it remains focused on developing a network with "full east-west" reach, and "access to big business centers" across the country. "We need to be financially viable when we establish a full east-west national network," CFO, Stan Gadek said. "This is not growth at all costs. We don't want to get bigger and weaker." Accordingly, (CQT) is pushing back delivery of three 737-700s from next year to 2011, lowering to 10 the number it plans to take in 2008. It currently operates 50 of the type. Chairman & CEO, Joe Leonard said the airline can be flexible with its delivery schedule, because it is receiving 737-700s from Boeing (TBC) priced "well below market . . . (TBC) has been very cooperative with us" in adjusting delivery schedules. Leonard added that the carrier plans to be "much more aggressive" in making seasonal adjustments to its schedule next year. Gadek said seasonal changes are critical with fuel prices so high, noting that Chicago Midway (MDW) - Boston service will be suspended for the winter and (MDW) - Charlotte flights will be suspended in January to February. Pointing to per-barrel crude oil prices above $90, Leonard said fuel costs are "the number one concern of everyone in the industry." Third-quarter revenue jumped +25% to $608.6 million, while expenses rose +16.1% to $570.1 million, producing operating income of +$38.5 million, a turnaround from an operating loss of -$4 million last year and (CQT)'s best-ever third-quarter operating result. Excluding a $6.6 million charge related to its attempted acquisition of Midwest Air Group, it said it earned net income of +$17.3 million for the quarter. Traffic surged +32.3% to 4.8 billion (RPM)s on a +20.9% increase in (ASM)s to 6 billion, producing a load factor of 80.1% LF, up +6.9 points. Yield dipped -6% to 12.07 cents, as (PRASM) rose +2.9% to 9.67 cents, and (CASM) fell -4% to 9.49 cents. (CASM), ex-fuel, lowered -2% to 5.92 cents.
(CQT) will launch daily, Pittsburgh (PIT) - Fort Myers service on February 14, and increase flights from (PIT) to Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to daily, the same day.
(CQT) hired 19 pilots (FC) in September.
November 2007: First 6 months = 13.13 billion (RPK)s traffic (+20.66%); +21.02% (ASK)s capacity; 74.4% LF load factor (-.2%); 4.58 million (FTK)s freight traffic (-3.24%); 11.38 million passengers (+15.07%).
AirTran Airways (CQT) is conducting Flight Crew (FC) interviews and is hiring. The carrier hired 38 pilots (FC) in October; and expects to hire 23 in November.
(CQT) launched a daily, Indianapolis - Las Vegas service. (CQT) will launch daily, Newport News - Tampa service on February 14.
(CQT) will discontinue its cargo operations, effective December 1. "Cargo was an experiment we tried, and while our people did an excellent job with the transportation of various cargo goods, including flowers, seafood, currency, clothing and such, at the end of the day we reached a point where we needed to make a substantial capital investment to make it work," a spokesperson said. "With fuel at record highs, we decided to concentrate on our core business of transporting passengers." The 30 employees who work for the carrier's belly freight operation, will be assigned to other areas of the company.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings announced the promotion of President, Bob Fornaro to CEO, succeeding Joe Leonard, who will continue as Chairman. Leonard had served as CEO since January 1999. Fornaro, 54, who will continue as President, joined the company in 1999 following stints at (TWA), Braniff International Airways, Northwest Airlines (NWA), and US Airways (USA). "As part of the board's succession planning, we had focused on Bob as the CEO of AirTran Holdings," Leonard said.
Owens Group International of Atlanta will provide its NetTracer Web-based baggage tracing and claims management system to (CQT). (CQT) said the application is the "industry's first . . . built from the ground up using Web-based technologies" and employs a search mechanism similar to that found on Google or Yahoo.
Honeywell (SGC) announced that it signed a contract with (CQT) to supply avionics systems on new airplanes and provide maintenance on (SGC) products across the airline's entire fleet through 2030. The contract, which builds on an existing agreement with (CQT), has a value of $1 billion, of which around 50% to 55% represents new business, according to (SGC) VP Airlines, Mike Madsen. Avionics to be provided for (CQT)'s 737NG fleet include (EGPWS), ACAS II, weather radar with forward looking windshear detection, (FDR)s and (CVR)s, (ACARS), and the Flight Data Acquisition & Management System. The support side of the deal is structured on a cost-per-flight-hour basis, and covers Honeywell (SGC) products on (CQT)'s 717s through 2023 and 737NGs through 2030. Systems include avionics, lighting, mechanical components, (APU)s, wheels and brakes. "This is the largest aftermarket contract (SGC) has ever signed," Madsen said.
A Coalition of Smaller Airlines, a group representing midsize USA carriers including Virgin America (VUS), (CQT), Spirit Airlines (SPR), and Frontier Airlines (FRO), is lobbying the USA Department of Transportation to ensure that any new traffic management rules at New York (JFK) do not unduly favor major international airlines. "We've got to find a solution . . . that doesn't shut out smaller airlines, which in many cases are offering premium service at lower fares," (VUS) Vice Chairman, Samuel Skinner said. (SPR) CEO, Ben Baldanza added: "We feel confident that the Department will not allow carriers, that dominate an airport, to decide who can operate at that airport." The airlines fear that (JFK) slots will be tightly controlled and that new entrants will be forced to buy slots from larger carriers.
December 2007: "3N" said AirTran Airways (CQT) selected its InstaCom system mass notification and communication system.
(CQT) is conducting Flight Crew (FC) interviews and is hiring. The carrier hired 19 pilots (FC) in November; and expects to hire 43 in December. Applicants can apply online and should attach resumes and letters of recommendation to the online application.
January 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.42 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic in December, up +16.6% over the year-ago month. Capacity climbed +13.1% to 1.96 billion (ASM)s, and load factor rose +2.3 points to 72.7% LF.
2007 statistics: 27.83 billion (RPK)s passenger traffic +25.1%; +19.4% capacity (ASK)s; +3.4 load factor for 76.2% LF. SEE ATTACHED COMPARISON CHART TO SELECTED OPERATORS - "CQT-2007-STATS."
(CQT) reported net income of +$52.7 million for 2007, more than triple a +$14.7 million profit earned in the prior year, on a +22.1% boost in revenue to $2.31 billion. "We finished the year with a very strong revenue performance reflecting the high quality of our service and diversified network, which was especially important given the challenging operating environment and record high fuel costs in 2007," President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said. (CQT) has bucked the growth-averse USA industry, by building its network and significantly increasing capacity, and touts its ability to keep nonfuel costs in check, noting that such expenses lowered for the sixth straight year. However, a +35.3% year-over-year increase in fuel costs in the fourth quarter contributed to a -$2.2 million net loss for the period, that nevertheless was narrowed from a net loss of -$3.6 million in the year-ago quarter.
Full-year expenses increased +17.3% to $2.17 billion, and operating income of +$137.9 million was more than triple the +$40.9 million in 2006. Traffic grew +25% to 17.3 billion (RPM)s on a +19.4% lift in capacity to 22.69 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 76.2% LF, up +3.4 points. Yield declined -3.1% to 12.71 cents, as (PRASM) escalated +1.5% to 9.69 cents, and (CASM) fell -1.7% to 9.67 cents. (CASM) excluding fuel, lowered -2.6% to 6.03 cents. Senior VP Planning, Kevin Healy said the business environment in 2008 will "remain very challenging" but noted that "advance bookings and demand look strong and I am optimistic about our revenue performance going forward."
(CQT) assigned Peggy Sauer-Clark, VP Inflight Services.
(CQT) will begin daily flights to San Juan from Atlanta and Orlando International (MCO) on March 5, aboard 737-700s. A second daily (MCO) flight will start April 9. It will launch daily flights from New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Tampa and Daytona Beach, and add a third daily, (LGA) - (MCO) service on February 14. It launched daily Indianapolis - Las Vegas on a 737-700. (CQT) announced an expansion of its Milwaukee service to feature new seasonal flights to Los Angeles (twice-daily, from May 6), Seattle (daily, from May 6), San Francisco (daily, from May 6), Boston (twice-daily, from May 21), and San Diego (daily, from May 21).
(CQT) said it will remain headquartered in Orlando (MCO) and plans to build a permanent, "hurricane-hardened" systems operation control (SOC) center at (MCO). It said the existing (SOC) was damaged in a 2004 storm. It will add +121 jobs to an Orlando-based workforce numbering 300.
(CQT) reached a long-term deal with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s Bedek Group for landing gear maintenance on its current and forthcoming 737NG fleet, to total 115 airplanes.
February 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.22 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic in January, +14.4% more than in the year-ago month. Capacity was up +5.5% to 1.8 billion (ASM)s, lifting load factor +5.2 points to 67.4% LF.
(CQT) reported 2007 net income of +$52.7 million, more than triple the +$14.7 million earned the prior year. But it is facing similar cost pressures to the legacy carriers, driving the consolidation speculation. It now spends 42 cents of every $1 on fuel. "We can't hide from it," Fornaro said. "We could offset fuel prices with revenue over the past few years, but the revenue potential for raising prices might not be there. At some point, the rate of domestic growth will turn negative."
(CQT) will curb its growth for 2008 by delaying airplane deliveries or selling some airplanes, President & CEO, Robert Fornaro said. The carrier is forecasting a growth rate of +10% for 2008, down from +19% last year. "You make better decisions when you have fewer airplanes," he said. (CQT) will continue to expand its network, Fornaro said, pointing to its recent move into Midwest Airlines (MWX)'s Milwaukee hub. "If you put lower prices into Milwaukee, the market will grow substantially. (MWX) operates like a legacy carrier. We couldn't buy them, but we can do this over a period of time." He said (CQT)'s failed attempt to acquire (MWX), which was sold to (TPG) Capital and Northwest Airlines (NWA), demonstrated that "it's hard to do hostile deals. They wanted to sell it to anyone but us. You won't see us do another hostile deal." While (CQT) is not opposed to charging a little extra for an aisle or exit row seat, Fornaro said he is not inclined to move toward a wholesale "unbundling" of services like low-cost competitor Spirit Airlines (SPR). "If we unbundled the fare, we could end up more expensive. We want our customers to have seat assignments. We don't want to become more complex than our competitors." For now, the airline is not looking to grow beyond the USA. "For (CQT) to remain successful, we have to have a solid network in the USA," he said. Acquiring additional slots at New York LaGuardia and Washington National is a high priority. "That would change customers' perception of us. Access to key destinations is very critical."
(CQT) CEO, Robert Fornaro said that mergers are a good idea for struggling airlines, that may need to reduce capacity but not for (CQT), which has been profitable consistently for nearly a decade and should benefit from consolidation. Fornaro said, "The industry needs to evolve and the quicker the better . . . It creates larger competitors for us to contend with but we can compete with anyone out there," adding that the carrier "would seek assets and opportunities in any merger." He said he expected it would have expanded opportunities at certain airports, as gates likely would be reallocated following a merger to ensure fair competition. "We need access to East Coast markets. These are being closed to competition," he said, mentioning New York as a market it would like to serve more frequently.
(CQT) Senior VP & CFO, Stan Gadek will leave the airline on April 30, the carrier announced. A search for his successor is underway.
(CQT) and (SPR) were awarded slot exemptions at Washington National for service to either Jacksonville or Milwaukee (CQT) and Fort Lauderdale (SPR), the USA Department of Transportation announced. Routes must be operational by May 3. (MWX) was awarded backup authority for a Milwaukee or Kansas City service, if either (CQT) or (SPR) does not commence service.
2 737-7BDs (36716, N336AT; 36717, N337AT), deliveries.
March 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.42 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic in February, a +28.2% rise from the year-ago month. Capacity rose +14% to 1.82 billion (ASM)s, and load factor soared +8.6 points to 78.1% LF.
Sun Country Airlines (SCA) ended a 10-month search for a new Chief Executive (CEO), naming (CQT) CFO, Stan Gadek as its new President & CEO, effective March 10. Gadek has served as (CQT) CFO since 2000, playing a key role in that airline's rapid growth.
(CQT) will launch daily, Washington National - Milwaukee on May 3 aboard a 717.
(CQT) will become the 19th airline member of the USA Air Transport Assn (ATA) on April 1, the parties announced. (CQT) President & CEO, Bob Fornaro will represent the carrier on the (ATA) board.
737-7BD (33943, N338AT), delivery.
April 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) forecast first-quarter passenger (RASM) to increase +6% to +6.5% from the 9.2 cents it reported in the first three months of 2007, while (CASM), excluding fuel, will rise +0.5% to +1% year-over-year from 6.24 cents.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings said "very strong" first-quarter revenues were not enough to overcome "the effects of record high fuel costs" as the company sank to a -$34.8 million net loss that compared to a +$2.2 million profit in the first three months of 2007. "We remain committed to serving our customers, reducing costs and profitably managing our company going forward," President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said. To that end, (CQT) will reduce its planned capacity growth for the final four months of 2008 and all of 2009 from approximately +10% to "no more than flat." Senior VP Marketing & Planning, Kevin Healy said the company "will continue our focus on increasing unit revenues [and] introducing more ancillary revenue programs . . . Our plan is to remain ahead of the curve and control our own destiny." It has hedged around 50% of its fuel requirements for the rest of 2008. Revenue rose +18.3% year-over-year to $569.4 million against a +28.6% jump in costs to $631.6 million. Fuel expenses soared +61.6% to $268.4 million, as the carrier realized $4.1 million in hedging gains. The operating result swung from a +$12.9 million profit last year to a -$35.2 million loss in the recently completed quarter. In addition, (CQT) suffered a $5.2 million nonoperating charge, related to unrealized net losses on fuel-related derivative, financial instruments.
(CQT) enjoyed a +12.6% lift in passenger numbers to 5.7 million, as traffic climbed +19.2% to 4.35 billion (RPM)s. Capacity rose +10.8% to 5.77 billion (ASM)s, as it added four 737-700s, increasing its fleet to 141. Load factor improved +5.2 points to 75.3% LF. Yield slipped -0.7% to 13.03 cents and unit revenue grew +6.9% to 9.82 cents. Operating (CASM) was up +16% to 10.94 cents, but just +0.8% to 6.29 cents, excluding fuel.
(CQT) announced its intention to raise $65 million through the offering of convertible senior notes due in 2015 and convertible into common stock, plus an additional 14.25 million shares of common stock, with the option to purchase overallotments available on each. Morgan Stanley is bookrunner and Credit Suisse Securities is co-lead manager.
For details on growth cuts see the attached - - "CQT-GROWTH-APR08."
(CQT) will begin charging certain passengers $10 for a second checked bag May 15, following the lead of other USA carriers, but asking for considerably less than the $25 standard. The fee will not apply to premium loyalty program members or business class (C) passengers. A third bag and beyond will cost $50 each.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings is offering more than >22.3 million shares of common stock at $3.20 per share. It additionally will offer $65 million of 5.5% convertible senior notes due in 2015. Notes can be converted into common stock at the rate of 260.417 shares per $1,000 principal amount of notes, or $3.84 per share. Offerings are expected to close April 30, and proceeds will be used for the purchase of government securities and for general corporate purposes, including retirement of debt.
(CQT) named Cynthia Tinsley-Douglas, Corporate communications Manager.
2 737-7BDs (33944, 35719), sold to Arik Air (AKI). 737-7BD (36718, N344AT), delivery.
May 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.51 billion (RPM)s passenger traffic in April, up +5.7% on the year-ago month, against a +9.9% increase in capacity to 2.04 billion (ASM)s. Load factor fell -2.9 points to 73.9% LF.
(CQT) will start four-times-daily, Atlanta - San Antonio on June 11, aboard a 717-200.
(CQT) parent, AirTran holdings announced the initial closing of concurrent offerings of 5.5% convertible senior notes due 2015 and common stock, and said the initiatives netted proceeds of approximately +$140.3 million. The sale of an additional 2.3 million shares of common, as part of an overall allotment option, is set to close now.
(CQT) hired 20 pilots (FC) in April. Applicants can apply online and should attach resumes and letters of recommendation to the online application.
(CQT) President & CEO, Bob Fornaro will assume the Chairman's role on June 1, succeeding the retiring Joe Leonard. Fornaro, who joined the carrier as President & CFO in March 1999, took over as CEO last November. Leonard was named Chairman & CEO in 1999.
June 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) said second-quarter "yield growth has been slower" than expected "despite numerous fare increases," leading it to drop its unit revenue forecast to a year-over-year improvement of +1.5% to +2% from April's prediction of +5% to +6%. It said in a filing with the USA Securities and Exchange Commission that in "some" markets, "fares were increased too rapidly, which limited the company's ability to effectively manage close-in demand," resulting in an increased mix of lower-yield connecting traffic. It did say, however, that bookings for the third quarter are ahead of last year at higher fares and that unit revenue should surpass the first half. In addition, it now expects nonfuel (CASM) to fall -2% to -2.5% year-over-year rather than -1% to -1.5%, owing to "improved efficiencies and solid operating performance."
It also announced an additional -5% capacity (ASM) cut, beginning in September on top of the reduction announced this spring. That cut will result in a -5% total reduction year-over-year, and a -15% drop from its initial plans for late 2008. (CQT) has sold two new 737-700s this quarter and said it has written agreements for the sale or disposal of an additional five unidentified airplanes this year. The capacity cut includes the cessation of services at New York Stewart. It now expects to operate 135 to 140 airplanes by year end, down from its original target of 147. It is "prepared to further reduce its fleet size" if conditions warrant.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings promoted VP Finance & Treasurer, Arne Haak to Senior VP Finance, Treasurer & CFO. Haak joined (CQT) in 1999 and has held his current job since January 2006. He succeeds Stan Gadek, who left to take over as CEO of Sun Country Airlines (SCA).
(CQT) is accepting online Flight Crew (FC) applications. Applicants should attach resumes and letters of recommendation to the online application.
(CQT) will defer the delivery of 18 737-700s from 2009 - 2011 to 2013 - 2014. President & CEO, Bob Farnaro said the deferment will "accomplish a substantial portion" of the carrier's previously announced plan to reduce 2008 - 2009 growth from 10% to "no more than flat." It currently operates 54 737-700s and 87 717-200s.
2 737-7BDs (36720, N348AT; 36721, N349AT), deliveries.
July 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.89 billion (RPM)s traffic in June, up +15.5% from the year-ago month. Capacity rose +13% to 2.23 billion (ASM)s, and load factor improved +1.8 points to 84.7% LF.
(CQT) was awarded a USA General Services Administration flying contract covering 119 city-pairs worth an estimated $47 million during Fiscal Year 2009, a more than >30% year-over-year increase.
(CQT) will launch a Milwaukee (MKE) - Fort Lauderdale service in November and will increase frequencies from (MKE) to Baltimore, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Tampa, and Orlando International during the winter schedule.
(CQT) will impose a -15% pay cut on officers and a -5% to -8% cut on most staff, according to a letter to employees from Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro cited by "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." Approximately 48% of AirTran (CQT) employees are unionized, the paper said, and the carrier will have to negotiate the reductions. It expects them to take effect next month and for overall wage expense to fall -10% over the next six months. (CQT) announced its most recent capacity cut two weeks ago.
(CQT) will cut -180 pilots (FC) and 300 flight attendants (CA), effective September 6, Senior VP Marketing & Planning, Kevin Healy told the "Associated Press." Healy said (CQT) 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 to 12 months.
(CQT) had been bucking the capacity-reducing trend of USA 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.
As (CQT) cuts flight capacity, it's not grounding planes — - it's selling them. It's a somewhat uncommon strategy in the struggling USA airline industry. Many carriers are reacting to fuel-driven capacity cuts by parking planes. But airlines still have to pay for debt and maintenance on planes they own, even if they're grounded or flying less. And that doesn't fit (CQT)'s business model, which strives for the kind of hyper-efficiency that keeps low-cost carriers in the air. "We'd like to be highly efficient. We'd like to do it with fewer airplanes," (CQT) CEO, Bob Fornaro said. He outlined (CQT)'s plans to cut flight capacity (ASM)s by up to 8% next year. He said he would like to cut even more — - by as much as 10% — - if (CQT) can sell enough planes. One of (CQT)'s advantages is keeping overhead and fixed costs low, he said. "Our goal is to maintain our industry-leading costs over time." Plus, selling some of (CQT)'s 143 planes would produce much-needed cash for the airline, which needs to cushion the blow of continued high jet fuel costs.
(CQT) has a relatively young fleet, much of it updated, fuel-efficient models of the marketable stalwart 737-700 jet. That puts (CQT) in "a very enviable position," said Port Washington, NY-based airline consultant Robert Mann. The 737 could be sold anywhere, Mann said, but he warned that (CQT) might avoid selling a plane to its biggest rival: Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines (DAL). "In general, you try not to have it competing with you," he said. (CQT) sold two 737-700s in April to undisclosed buyers for undisclosed sums. (CQT) said it has deals to sell four more and an agreement in principle for a fifth sale. Fornaro said the number of interested buyers could grow if the price of oil continues to go down, freeing cash for airlines. If oil goes below $120 a barrel, other carriers will start thinking about replacing airplanes, he said. Selling a plane doesn't eliminate only its ownership costs. Every airplane amounts to work for about 60 employees at (CQT), said CFO, Arne Haak.
(CQT) already plans to cut its work force by at least -480 employees in coming weeks.
(CQT) also has delayed deliveries of new airplanes. (CQT) had been scheduled to get +41 more 737s from 2009 through 2011. But (CQT) reached agreements with Boeing (TBC) to defer 22 of those deliveries until 2013, 2014 or 2015. "We were fortunate that we were able to strike a deal with (TBC)," Fornaro said. (TBC) has an incentive to keep customers like (CQT) out of financial trouble, according to a report from Credit Suisse analyst, Daniel McKenzie.
Richard Aboulafia, VP of Analysis at Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia, said (CQT)'s plane-shedding is a good move. "Restraint might be a very smart strategy," he said. And if the airline industry's prospects improve, (CQT) likely wouldn't have difficulty getting quick deliveries from (TBC), FTN Midwest Securities Senior Analyst, Michael Derchin said. "I think (TBC) is there ready, willing and able to get (CQT) planes back, so I don't think it's a problem," he said.
August 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT), which is shrinking its work force as it tries to cope with high fuel costs, said it may not have to furlough any flight attendants (CA), but that some pilots (FC) may have to be let go. (CQT) announced in July that it planned to cut -300 flight attendants (CA) and 180 pilots (FC) to reduce its annual costs by about -$16 million. Employees had to apply for a leave of absence or an early-exit package. (CQT) said the company generated enough requests for leaves — offered to flight attendants (CA) — to likely avoid furloughing any of them. But it attracted fewer applications for voluntary exit packages offered to employees with five years of seniority across the company, including pilots (FC). (CQT) offered the exit packages to try to offset furloughs or layoffs. Most of the job cuts will be in Atlanta because all of (CQT)'s pilots (FC) and most of its flight attendants (CA) are based there. (CQT)'s exit packages offered extended health and travel benefits, but not a cash payout to those with enough seniority at the company, excluding directors and officers. It attracted only a small group of takers. "We're a fairly young company, so we don't have a lot of high-seniority people. The majority of our employees were hired within the last five years and didn't qualify for the early exit. It generated some interest, and you'll perhaps see two dozen people leave via the early-exit program." (CQT), which has about 8,900 employees, said it would furlough or lay off workers September 6 to meet its targeted job cuts.
(CQT) launched twice-daily, New York LaGuardia - Richmond, aboard 717s. (CQT) will launch service to Columbus from Atlanta (twice-daily), Orlando International (MCO) (daily), and Fort Myers (daily) on November 6, and daily, (MCO) - Harrisburg on November 20. (CQT) is exiting from Daytona Beach and Newburgh, New York.
September 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.97 billion (RPM)s traffic in August, up +12.7% year-over-year. Capacity rose +8.8% to 2.25 billion (ASM)s, and load factor was up +3 points to 87.3% LF.
Will stop Washington (DCA) - Milwaukee.
(CQT) expects to furlough 170 pilots (FC) in September. Negotiations are ongoing with the pilot (FC) union about measures to reduce the number of involuntary furloughs.
October 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.23 billion (RPM)s traffic in September, down -2% year-over-year. Capacity declined -8.8% to 1.66 billion (ASM)s, and load factor was up +5.9 points to 74.4% LF.
(CQT) posted a third-quarter net loss of -$107.1 million, reversed from a +$10.6 million profit in the year-ago period, due in part to losses of -$41.5 million related to its fuel hedging program, owing to the recent fall in oil prices. Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said (CQT) is "extremely disappointed" in the results but noted that it finally is following the rest of the USA industry and imposing capacity cuts in the fourth quarter and full-year 2009. (CQT) will reduce (ASM)s capacity by -6% to -7% in the current quarter and by -3% to -7% next year. "With oil down to reasonable levels, we are now poised to return to profitability in coming quarters," he said.
Third-quarter revenue rose +10.6% to $673.3 million, while expenses lifted +26.2% to $719.4 million, producing an operating loss of -$46.1 million, reversed from an operating profit of +$38.5 million last year. Traffic rose +9.4% to 5.26 billion (RPM)s on a +3.6% increase in capacity to 6.22 billion (ASM)s, leading to a load factor of 84.6% LF, up +4.5 points. Yield was flat at 12.08 cents, as (PRASM) heightened +5.6% to 10.21 cents, and (CASM) jumped +21% to 11.56 cents. (CASM) excluding fuel, lowered -3.5% to 5.71 cents.
15 year anniversary!
AirTran Airways (CQT) is adding two new destinations next month: Columbus, Ohio and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Also next month, (CQT) will start nonstop flights from Columbus to Atlanta, Orlando, and Fort Myers. (CQT) plans to launch daily, Atlanta - Cancun on February 25, and twice-weekly, Baltimore - Cancun on March 7.
Raleigh-Durham International opens its new $570 million Terminal 2 on October 26. The 920,000-sq-ft facility is three times larger than the terminal it replaces. The project's initial phase includes 19 gates, two ticketing islands, seven security checkpoint lanes and three baggage carousels. When the second phase is completed in late 2011, T2 will serve two concourses with 32 gates designed to accommodate up to 11.4 million passengers annually.
November 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.43 billion (RPM)s traffic in October, down -2.3% year-over-year. Capacity fell -5.6% to 1.78 billion (ASM)s, and load factor rose +2.7 points to 80.5% LF.
1st 6 months = 15.12 billion (RPK)s traffic (+14.09%); +10.59% (ASK)s; 76.8% LF (+2.4); 12.17 million passengers (+7.13%).
(CQT) will begin charging $15 for the first checked bag on flights from December 5. It will continue charging $25 for the second checked bag and $50 for each additional bag. Business class (C) and premium loyalty program members will be exempt. (CQT) also said it now will allow passengers to upgrade to business class (C) for $49 to $99 one way when checking in online, 24 hours prior to departure and onboard the airplane either before takeoff or at cruising altitude.
December 2008: AirTran Airways (CQT) CEO, Robert Fornaro said (CQT) will post a loss for this fiscal year, its first annual loss since 1999. (CQT) intends to cut domestic capacity in 2009 by -3% to -7%. (CQT) currently has only two airplane deliveries scheduled for next year and none in 2010.
(CQT) will launch daily, Atlanta - Branson service on May 11 aboard a 717-200. Branson Airport will open that day and is the first privately financed and operated commercial airport in the USA, (CQT) said.
The National Pilots Association (NPA) is the independent pilots (FC) union at (CQT) . The (NPA) is considering representation options for its 1,600 pilots (FC). "Given the current volatility of the airline industry, and the tendency toward continued consolidation, it is to everyone's benefit that the pilots (FC) at (CQT) strengthen their own organization before entertaining any other representational possibilities," Bourne said. "We remain in solidarity with our union members at (CQT) and are ready to assist them in their endeavors. However, we are not planning to pursue a more official relationship at this time."
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than >1.4 million men and women in the United States and Canada. More than >40,000 new members organized to join the Teamsters this year, more than >20% of them into the Teamster Airline Division. The Teamsters are the only growing airline union in the country. Their Airline Division represents the full spectrum of classifications within the aviation industry, including more than >300 airline mechanics (MT) at (CQT).
January 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.46 billion (RPM)s traffic in December, up +2.3% year-over-year. Capacity fell -6.9% to 1.83 billion (ASM)s and load factor rose +7.1 points to 79.8% LF.
(CQT) reported a 2008 net loss of -$273.8 million, reversed from a +$52.7 million profit in 2007, citing "multiple financial challenges" and noting that the result included non-operating losses of -$150.8 million related to its "out-of-the-money" fuel hedge contracts.
Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro called 2008 "especially tough" and noted that the "industry challenge" shifted from "high oil costs to concerns regarding consumer demand" over the course of the 12 months. He insisted that the carrier's low cost model, planned capacity reductions, "the disposition of airplanes and the deferral of 737 deliveries . . . have us well positioned to return to profitability in 2009."
Full-year revenue increased +10.5% to $2.55 billion, while expenses heightened +21.2% to $2.62 billion, producing an operating loss of -$72 million, reversed from an operating profit of +$144.2 million in 2007. Traffic rose +9.6% to 18.96 billion (RPM)s on a +4.9% lift in capacity to 23.81 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 79.6% LF, up +3.4 points. Yield gained a slight +0.2% to 12.73 cents as (RASM) increased +5.3% to 10.14 cents and (CASM) jumped +15.5% to 11.02 cents. (CASM) excluding fuel was flat at 6 cents.
Fourth-quarter net loss was -$118.4 million including $147.7 million related to fuel hedge contracts, widened from a net loss of -$2.2 million in the year-ago quarter, on a +1% rise in revenue to $589.4 million.
(CQT) will launch a daily, Columbus - Fort Lauderdale flight on March 5.
For an interesting perspective re-the charged baggage situation, read the attached - - "CQT-NEWS-JAN09-A/B."
(CQT) plans to recall 60 furloughed pilots (FC) and hire additional flight attendants (CA), "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" reported. (CQT) cut -180 pilots (FC) and -300 flight attendants (CA) in September. The 60 recalled pilots (FC), which are in addition to 35 recalled last month, are anticipated to be needed for increased summer flying.
February 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.27 billion (RPM)s traffic in January, up +4.5% on the year-ago month. Capacity dropped -3.8% to 1.74 billion (ASM)s and load factor rose +5.8 points to 73.2% LF.
(CQT) will increase its Milwaukee operation and expand the number of flights by +43% in the summer schedule. (CQT) will launch service to Minneapolis-St Paul (twice-daily from May 5), Branson (daily on May 11), St Louis (twice-daily on May 21). Formerly seasonal flights to Los Angeles (twice-daily), Boston (twice-daily) and Tampa (daily) will become year-round and (CQT) will operate daily flights to Denver May 21 - September 8. (CQT) said it sees "enormous potential in Milwaukee," from which it will offer flights to 18 destinations, up from 14. (CQT) launched a daily, Atlanta - Cancun service.
(CQT) launched a buy-on-board food service called "Sky Bites" on 60 flights, with plans to expand it to the entire network starting next month. Individual items will cost $1 to $4 and packages will be $4 to $6. It is partnering with Kraft Foodservice on the program.
March 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) said that it expects to return to the black in the current quarter and post a full-year profit. (CQT) reported a -$273.8 million full-year loss for 2008, but in materials presented at a Raymond James conference in Orlando, it said it will be the "leading beneficiary" from lower fuel costs in the USA because fuel comprises 46% of its costs, which it said is the highest percentage in the USA industry. In addition, it said, "domestic capacity reductions and growth in ancillary revenues will buffer soft consumer demand." It expects to generate $300 million in ancillary revenue in 2009, up +30% year-over-year. (CQT) noted that it has "deferred or sold" 47 airplanes that were previously in its 2008 to 2012 fleet plan and has no airplane financing needs until the second quarter of 2011. It will have 134 to 138 airplanes in its fleet of 717s and 737s by year end, -4% lower than previously planned.
March is the most popular month of the year for Ohioans and other Midwesterners to escape the cold for Florida’s sunshine. (CQT) launched daily, Columbus (CMH) - Fort Lauderdale and Baltimore (BWI) - Cancun flights and will begin operating a third-daily, (CMH) - Atlanta flight on May 21.
(CQT) launched daily non-stops from Atlanta to Cancun, Mexico’s most popular beach resort. Unlike Low Cost Carrier (LCC) rivals JetBlue (JBL) and Spirit (SPR), (CQT) isn’t much of a player in the Caribbean. Its only other destination in the region is San Juan, though it did serve the Bahamas for a while before exiting.
It recently said its international focus for now will likely be further developing those existing destinations, perhaps with flights
from other USA cities or more frequencies, rather than launching many new destinations outside the USA.
(CQT) will launch twice-daily, Milwaukee - Washington National service on June 11. (CQT) will operate twice-daily, Atlanta - Atlantic City flights beginning June 11.
April 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.59 billion (RPM)s traffic in March, down -7.2% year-over-year. Capacity fell -8.4% to 1.97 billion (ASM)s and load factor rose +1.1 points to 80.7% LF, a March record.
(CQT) parent AirTran Holdings posted record first-quarter net income of +$28.7 million, reversed from a -$35.4 million loss in the year-ago period, signaling "the first steps in a long recovery for our company and our industry," Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said. He insisted that the carrier's "industry-leading cost profile" positions it well in the current economic environment. But he cautioned that the positive first-quarter results wouldn't lead it to abandon its -3% to -4% capacity cut for this year and planned flat growth next year. "I don't see much reason to expect growth in 2010," he explained. "I think any growth in the industry is 18 to 24 months off. The revenue environment is weak."
He added that (CQT) believes its best bet to achieve continuing profitability is by emphasizing short-haul flying, with an eye toward continuing to build its presence in Milwaukee, where it plans to double capacity this summer. "The timing is right for us to finally get a foothold in the Midwest," he told analysts and reporters. "There will be less capacity going to California and Seattle for (CQT) this year."
First-quarter revenue fell -9.1% to $542 million, while expenses dropped -21.8% to $494.3 million, producing operating income of +$47.7 million, reversed from an operating loss of -$35.4 million in the year-ago period. Traffic lowered -6% to 4.09 billion (RPM)s on a -7.2% cut in capacity to 5.36 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 76.3% LF, up +1 point. Yield dipped -8.7% to 11.9 cents as (RASM) slipped -2.1% to 10.11 cents and (CASM) declined -15.8% to 9.22 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel, increased +7% to 6.74 cents.
(CQT) parent AirTran Holdings said in government filings that a change in the way they report convertible debt owing to a new accounting rule has altered their net results slightly for the past five years. (CQT)'s net loss for 2008 now is -$266.3 million instead of -$273.8 million and its 2007 profit is +$50.5 million rather than +$52.7 million.
(CQT) will operate seasonal service from Atlanta to Portland, Maine, and Harrisburg June 11 through September 8 aboard 717-200s.
The National Pilots Association (NPA), representing the nearly 1,700 pilots (FC) of (CQT), have voted in overwhelming numbers to join the nearly 53,000 member strong Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) International. Over >94.8% of eligible pilots (FC) voted in this election, a record turnout for (CQT)'s pilots (FC). 87.92% voted yes.
"We are proud to be the latest pilot (FC) group to be joining (ALPA)," said Linden Hillman, Interim President of the (NPA). We had a choice to cling to the past, keep complaining about our failures, and refuse to accept reality or make a bold decision for our future."
(CQT) pilots (FC) now have access to (ALPA)'s unparalleled professional resources and expertise, and are able to fully participate in working with (CQT) management in constructing a successful future for (CQT).
For nearly 12 years, (CQT) pilots (FC) were represented by the National Pilots Association, an independent union. "This merger will allow our pilot (FC) representatives to focus more on day-to-day pilot (FC) issues and strategic planning, while collaborating with 35 other pilot (FC) groups and (ALPA)'s professional staff who are the best in the business, run the most successful pilot (FC) union recognized by pilots (FC) world wide. Our success will not happen by accident," said Hillman.
The (ALPA) Executive Board, which will meet April 28 - 29, must ratify the merger agreement. Following a successful vote, the merger will be effective on May 1, 2009.
(CQT) named Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Office of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs Deputy Assistant Administrator, Christopher White as Director of Public Relations.
USA airlines may be able to return to profit this year despite the recession owning to fortuitous decisions made in the first half of last year in response to high oil prices, according to AirTran Airways (CQT) CFO, Arne Haak and United Airlines (UAL) Senior VP Planning, Kevin Knight. Speaking during the (FAA) Aviation Forecast Conference in Washington, the pair agreed that the current environment is less threatening to carriers than when per-barrel crude oil prices topped $150 in the first half of 2008, particularly given the industry-wide move to counter energy costs by cutting capacity, grounding older airplanes, trimming workforces and imposing ancillary fees. "The headwinds we are facing today are not as severe as the headwinds we were getting with $150 oil," Haak said, adding, "in a strange way as an industry, we were probably fortunate to have oil prices go over >$150 last year." Knight claimed that high fuel costs "led us to make adjustments that are serving us well, namely reducing capacity . . . The levers that we actually pull [to address $150 oil or in anticipation of a severe recession] are very much the same." He said the high fuel cost/lower revenue "trade-off" airlines effectively made over the past year works to carriers' advantage.
Avitas Senior VP, Adam Pilarski, speaking on the same panel, took exception to those views, however, arguing that the downturn is a far more serious problem than high oil prices. "I totally disagree," he said in response to Haak and Knight. "I think it's much better for the airline industry to have employed, well-off [customers] than unemployed people that don't know whether they can afford to fly."
He added that if carriers are "pricing right," they can survive high oil prices in a relatively strong economy, citing Lufthansa (DLH) as one that remained profitable when fuel costs were excessive, but they are in trouble if potential passengers cannot afford tickets and businesses are wary of shipping goods by air. He acknowledged that USA airlines by virtue of not ordering new airplanes in recent years, cutting costs and capacity - - and for some, going through bankruptcy reorganization - - unwittingly prepared for the recession. "I'd rather be lucky than good, I guess," he chided.
USA airlines' customer service improved for the first time in five years in 2008, researchers from St Louis University and Wichita State University said in releasing their annual "Airline Quality Rating (AQR)" report. Improvement was across the board, with carriers scoring better on baggage handling, on time performance, denied boarding and customer complaints, researchers said. The airline with the best overall (AQR) among the 17 graded was Hawaiian Airlines (HWI), followed by AirTran Airways (CQT), JetBlue Airways (JBL), Northwest Airlines (NWA) and Alaska Airlines (ASA).
Baggage handling improved at all 17 airlines, the report said. "Baggage handling probably needed to improve given the fact that people are now paying for it," Wichita State Associate Professor Dean Headley said. "The airlines would have had a real problem had they lost the same number of bags." AirTran (CQT) had the best baggage handling rate with only 2.87 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers.
Hawaiian (HWI) had the best on-time performance at 90% while American Airlines (AAL) was worst at 69.8%. (JBL) had the lowest involuntary denied boarding rate at 0.01 per 10,000 passengers while (ASA) was last at 3.89 per 10,000 passengers. Southwest Airlines (SWA) had the lowest consumer complaint rate at 0.25 per 100,000 passengers, while US Airways (AMW)/(USA) had the highest rate of 2.01. Headley said the positive performance for airlines in 2008 should be taken "with a grain of salt," explaining, "We know the system performs better when it's less stressed by higher passenger volume. The economy scared away both business and leisure travelers in 2008."
May 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.51 billion (RPM)s traffic in April, up +0.3% year-over-year, against a -7.9% fall in capacity to 1.88 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +6.5 points to 80.4% LF.
(CQT) is now the industry's undisputed Low Cost Carrier (LCC) leader, doing just as well as JetBlue Airlines (JBL) at the operating level and even better at the net: and its cost drop has been impressive.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) announced that it will start service in November or December at Milwaukee (MKE), a market targeted for growth this year by rival (CQT). Wisconsin's largest city is the fourth new destination (SWA) will add this year despite not growing capacity or its fleet. (SWA) said it will "offer multiple destinations" from (MKE). Speaking at the annual shareholders meeting, available via webcast, Chairman & CEO, Gary Kelly said operating at (MKE) will "help us better serve the northern Chicago area and be a wonderful complement to our Chicago Midway service (MDW)." (SWA) launched service at Minneapolis - St Paul (MSP) in March with eight-times-daily service to (MDW) and next month plans to start New York LaGuardia (LGA) flights with Boston Logan to follow in August.
Kelly said the new destinations "will add tens of millions of dollars in incremental revenue in the first year." He emphasized that (SWA) is not veering from its strategy this year of lowering capacity and not growing its fleet of 535 737s. It will redirect airplanes to its newest destinations by "pruning" existing routes.
(CQT) Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said last month that (CQT) will continue to build its presence at Milwaukee, where it plans to double capacity this summer. "The timing is right for us to finally get a foothold in the Midwest," he told analysts and reporters.
(CQT) said that it will occupy six gates at (MKE) this summer to operate 34 daily weekday flights, representing a 57% year-over-year increase in its (MKE) activity. Earlier this month it began operating flights from (MKE) to (MSP) and Branson, Missouri, and will launch service from the airport to Denver and St Louis. Additional flights from (MKE) to (LGA), Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa/St Petersburg will be started this summer.
(MKE) Director, Barry Bateman said that (SWA)'s entry goes a long way toward "further solidifying [the airport] as Chicago's third airport."
(CQT) promoted General Manager Flight Operations, Jeff Miller to VP Flight Operations.
(CQT) will leapfrog its competitors to become the first USA major airline to offer wireless broadband Internet access across its entire fleet. It selected Aircell's Gogo Inflight to provide the Wi-Fi connection after spending about a year evaluating the offerings from four main suppliers, according to (CQT) Senior VP Marketing & Planning, Kevin Healy. American Airlines (AAL), United Airlines (UAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and others already are offering in-flight broadband connectivity on selected airplanes but have not introduced it across their fleets.
The on-board service will cost laptop users flat fees of $9.95 for flights under 3 hours and $12.95 for flights over 3 hours. There will be a $7.95 fee for smartphones regardless of length of flight. A frequent-user 30-day subscription pass is currently in development.
The Wi-Fi enabled airplanes link to Aircell's ground-based network via three antennas installed on the outside of the airplanes (two (ATG)s on the bottom, one (GPS)/(PCS) on the top). Once the airplane reaches 10,000 ft, (CQT) passengers have the option to connect for full Internet access for Web, e-mail, instant messaging and access to corporate e-ail and network systems through Wi-Fi enabled laptops, smartphones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA)s. (CQT) will block objectionable websites and will not allow cellular telephone or VoIP connections. Each system takes around 8 hours to install on a 737NG or 717 and weighs approximately 125 lbs, with no significant impact on fuel burn. At the current installation rate of two airplanes per night, (CQT) expects all 136 jets will be outfitted by midsummer.
After testing the system onboard a (CQT) 737-700 39,000 ft above Rhode Island, connection and download speeds were found to be similar to terrestrial operations. Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and Twitter all performed as they normally would and the process of connecting was simple and quick. Signal strength is 3.1 megs. Service includes free access to "The Wall Street Journal" online. However, as other (CQT) passengers with a short-lived laptop battery will find, there are no power ports in economy class (Y) on any of (CQT)'s airplanes.
Aircell currently has 92 towers nationwide (150 by year end) evenly spaced about every 200 miles within the 48 contiguous USA states. Although service is restricted to the continental USA, Executive VP, John Happ said the airplanes could "pick up a strong signal up to 240 miles or so" offshore. Aircell is looking into expanding its Wi-Fi service into Canadian airspace, he added.
June 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.54 billion (RPM)s traffic in May, down -11.1% year-over-year. Capacity fell -9.6% to 1.98 billion (ASM)s and load factor dropped -1.3 points to 78% LF.
(CQT) launched thrice-weekly service from Orlando International to Asheville and Atlantic City.
July 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.76 billion (RPM)s traffic in June, down -6.5% year-over-year. Capacity fell -5.3% to 2.11 billion (ASM)s and load factor dropped -1.1 points to 83.6% LF.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings reported a second-quarter net profit of +$78.4 million, reversed from a net loss of -$14.8 million in the year-ago period, and projected it will maintain profitability in the second half of 2009 despite the poor economic environment. Noting that (CQT) also reported a first-quarter profit and likely is on its way to four quarters in the black, Senior VP Finance, Treasurer & CFO, Arne Haak said that the weak demand environment producing red ink at most USA airlines actually works to (CQT)'s advantage. "If you look at the economy and the airline industry, we're well suited for this kind of problem," he said. "We have industry-leading costs . . . People are still spending money, they're just being more discreet about it and looking for value. The Walmarts are doing better [than competitors] in the retail world and it's the same with airlines. If you're going to fly, you are going to fly low cost." He claimed (CQT) is attractive to business (C) passengers because there are business-class (C) seats and in-flight WiFi service on every flight. While other USA carriers are reporting big drops in business (C) travel, "our business class (C) holds up pretty well," he said.
Second-quarter operating revenue dropped -12.9% to $603.7 million, while expenses lowered -27.3% to $537.5 million, producing an operating profit of +$66.2 million, reversed from an operating loss of -$46.4 million in the year-ago period. Traffic declined -6% to 4.82 billion (RPM)s on a -7.6% lowering of capacity to 5.97 (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 80.7% LF, up +1.3 points. Yield fell -13.2% to 11.14 cents as (RASM) dipped -5.9% to 10.11 cents and (CASM) decreased -21.5% to 9 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel, rose +9.9% to 6.33 cents.
Haak acknowledged that load factor and yield likely will be lower in the year's second half owing to a lack of significant economic growth in the USA. "We don't think [the economy is] accelerating, but it's not getting worse," he said. "We're one of the few airlines that would probably be happy if the next two years looked like 2009."
(CQT) launched service from Allentown to Orlando (four-times-weekly) and Fort Lauderdale (thrice-weekly) and will launch four-times-weekly, Flint - Fort Lauderdale service November 4. (CQT) will resume once-weekly seasonal, Flint - Tampa flights from October 6, and re-launch Akron Canton service to Fort Lauderdale (four-times-weekly) and Fort Myers (five-times-weekly, increasing to daily, November 18) from November 4.
(CQT) will launch Baltimore service to Indianapolis (twice-daily) and New Orleans (daily) as well as Milwaukee service to Indianapolis (daily) and Pittsburgh (daily) October 6 aboard 717s and will increase daily service to Denver (aboard 737s) to twice-daily. (CQT) will operate seasonal daily, Milwaukee service to Phoenix (aboard 737s) and Fort Lauderdale (aboard 717s) beginning November 19. (CQT) will launch thrice-weekly, Harrisburg - Fort Lauderdale service November 5 aboard a 717.
(CQT) said it has completed installation of "Gogo" inflight Internet in its entire 136-airplane fleet.
Acculynk announced that AirTran Airways (CQT) has started offering customers the option to pay for online purchases with its PaySecure software, which offers users a PIN debit system that does not require enrollment or a password.
737-7BD (35962, N358AT), not taken up (NTU).
August 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.96 billion (RPM)s traffic in July, a -5.1% decrease year-over-year. Capacity fell -4.1% to 2.22 billion (ASM)s, and load factor dropped -0.9 point to 88.3% LF.
(CQT) announced that it will expand operations at New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Washington National (DCA) from November 4, and reportedly it will cease operations at Newark (EWR) on October 25. The "Associated Press (ap)" reported that (CQT) obtained additional slots at (LGA) and (DCA) from Continental Airlines (CAL) in exchange for its slots at (EWR). Neither airline confirmed the deal. (CQT) did say in a statement that it will begin offering (LGA) - Indianapolis service and boost (LGA) - Orlando flights from October 25. It added that it will "increase the frequency of flights to Orlando and Atlanta" from (DCA) on the same date. (AP), citing unnamed (CQT) officials, said (CQT) will give its 10 (EWR) slots, as well its lone gate at the airport, to (CAL), which hubs there. (CAL) in turn reportedly is giving (CQT) four (LGA) and six (DCA) slots.
(CQT) applied for authority to serve both Nassau and Montego Bay from Atlanta (ATL), Baltimore and Orlando International and to fly to Aruba from (ATL) and (MCO). It said service, if approved, will start "later this year and early in 2010."
September 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.85 billion (RPM)s traffic in August, down -6.1% year-over-year, against a -3.4% cut in capacity to 2.18 billion (ASM)s. Load factor slipped -2.4 points to 84.9% LF.
(CQT) will launch service to Nassau December 17 from Atlanta (ATL) (daily), Baltimore (BWI) (four-times-weekly) and Orlando International (MCO) (four-times-weekly) and to Montego Bay February 11 from (ATL) (daily), (BWI) (daily) and (MCO) (four-times-weekly).
(CQT) will launch four-times-weekly, Orlando International - Key West service on December 17 aboard a 737-700. (CQT) will launch weekly service to Aruba from Atlanta (December 19) and Orlando International (February 13) aboard 737s. These new Caribbean routes open the possibility of cooperating with tour operators.
2 737-7BDs (36724, N353AT; 36725, N354AT), deliveries.
October 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) reported a +$10.4 million third-quarter profit, reversed from a -$94.6 million loss in the year-ago period, as falling fuel costs and (CQT)'s commitment to "maintaining our industry-leading low-cost structure" paid dividends, according to CFO, Arne Haak. Operating revenue fell -11.3% year-over-year to $597.4 million but expenses dropped -22.2% to $560.4 million, resulting in a +$37 million operating profit that (CQT) said was the second-best third-quarter result in its history. (CQT) lost -$47.4 million on an operating basis in the 2008 third quarter. A -$6.3 million fuel hedge loss was offset by a +$6.4 million gain related to deposits from a terminated airplane sales deal. It flew 5.17 billion (RPM)s traffic, down -1.7%, against a -0.8% cut in capacity to 6.17 billion (ASM)s, as load factor slipped -0.8 point to 83.8% LF. Yield dropped -15.2% to 10.24 cents, unit revenue was down -10.5% to 9.68 cents and operating (CASM) fell -21.6% to 9.08 cents. Nine-month net profit of +$117.6 million compares to a -$144.7 million loss in the year-ago period.
(CQT) said it entered into agreements with its principal credit facility lender and its largest credit card processor to extend and modify both its credit facility and its credit card processing arrangement, "resulting in enhanced liquidity and improved financial flexibility." (CQT) did not place a specific value on the accords but said that it expects to end the current quarter with more than >$400 million in unrestricted cash and short-term investments.
(CQT) will expand service from Branson in Missouri, adding Orlando flights in December. (CQT) started serving Branson from Atlanta last December. (CQT) will launch service from Lexington to Fort Lauderdale (thrice-weekly) and Orlando International (four-times-weekly) on February 11.
(CQT) expanded its mobile Web services to allow customers to book, change or cancel flights from their Web-connected phones or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA)s. For (CQT)’s passengers, it’s especially useful because (CQT)’s entire fleet has internet connectivity, meaning fliers can access http://www.AirTran.com via their phones and (PDA)s in-flight.
(CQT) was pleased to hear that its mechanics (MT) ratified a new
four-year agreement that includes improved wages, benefits and working conditions. (CQT)’s pilots (FC), however — now represented by (ALPA) — publicly pressured management to provide a new contract that reflects the company’s strong profitability. The pilots (FC)
claim they’re paid -26% below industry average, even as “executives have received salaries and lucrative bonus packages placing them in the top tier of airline managers.” The contract covers around 400 (MT) employees at seven USA airports.
(CQT) has no pilots (FC) on furlough. (CQT) is not accepting pilot (FC) applications or resumes.
SEE ATTACHED - - "CQT-717 LOGOJET-2009-10."
November 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.51 billion (RPM)s traffic in October, up +5.2% year-over-year, against a +7% lift in capacity to 1.9 billion (ASM)s. Load factor slipped -1.3 points to 79.2% LF.
(CQT) stepped up the competition at Milwaukee, announcing a new marketing partnership with SkyWest Airlines under which the regional will operate five 50-seat CRJ-200s under its own brand and livery to six destinations out of General Mitchell International starting December 4. It will be the first time that SkyWest has operated as a branded carrier, with revenue from ticket sales through (CQT) shared on a prorated basis. "This unique partnership and expanded service is an exciting next step for our Milwaukee focus city," (CQT) Senior VP Marketing & Planning, Kevin Healy said. "We are delighted to make new and interesting destinations available to our customers and now offer more choices than ever to, from and through Milwaukee (MKE) to the rest of the country."
Since failing in its bid two years ago to take over Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines (MWX), (CQT) steadily has increased its presence at the airport. The SkyWest partnership will offer thrice-daily nonstop service to Akron/Canton, Des Moines and Omaha, and provide (CQT) customers with additional frequencies to Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and St Louis. Pittsburgh and St Louis will be the first destinations, starting December 4, and SkyWest will be operating 18 daily flights from (MKE) by February 11, when it begins serving Des Moines and Omaha.
It is not the first time (CQT) has forged a partnership with a regional carrier. (CQT) entered a short-lived agreement with Air Wisconsin, which was to furnish feed by operating CRJ-200s to (CQT)'s Atlanta hub. It ended in 2004, when (CQT) officials decided that its 717s offered lower seat-mile costs than regional jets. The 717 would be used for "market development" before being replaced by 737s, officials decided.
SkyWest currently operates five CRJs out of (MKE) as a regional partner of Midwest (MWX), which was acquired earlier this year by Republic Airways. A SkyWest spokesperson said that its relationship with (MWX) is in the process of "winding down and will end in January."
(CQT) also will increase its own flying from (MKE), with twice-daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth set to start April 6, a daily seasonal flight to San Diego beginning May 27, and a third daily service to Washington National starting April 6.
(CQT) (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association said it was "deeply concerned that our management is outsourcing flying, even while (CQT)'s mainline growth has been stagnant for the past two years." It argued that "outsourcing flying to a regional carrier runs the risk of diminishing the travel experience in the eyes of our customers, and goes directly against the business model that has made this company a success."
(CQT) said it will outfit its entire 138-airplane fleet with 2.5-by-9-inch seat back advertisements over the next two weeks. Ads will be "easily changeable" and the first advertising partner is "Mother Nature Network." Atlanta-based, OnBoard Media Group provides the (FAA)-approved, patent-pending system, (CQT) said, adding that it will be the first USA airline to use it. (CQT) says it will do its adverts in a "tasteful and unobtrusive way." (CQT) also sells ads in its in-flight magazine and on catering items like napkins, among other places.
SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS - - "CQT-2009-11 717 LOGOJETS."
December 2009: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.47 billion (RPM)s traffic in November, a +10.5% lift year-over-year. Capacity rose +9.2% to 1.92 billion (ASM)s and load factor was up +0.9 point to 76.7% LF.
(CQT) ceased its Charleston, South Carolina, service on December 3. (CQT) had served the airport since mid-2007. (CQT) also announced the start of twice-weekly, Orlando International - Des Moines service on March 6.
(CQT) and JetBlue Airways (JBL), both profitable through the first three quarters of 2009, said during the Next Generation Equity Research Airlines Conference that they are maintaining a positive outlook for the current quarter and 2010. "We've successfully repositioned ourselves for both good times and bad," (CQT) Senior VP Finance, Treasurer & CFO, Arne Haak said. Capacity measured in (ASM)s is expected to shrink -2% to -3% for the full year but should grow +7% in the fourth quarter on a -7% to -8% decrease in unit revenue. "Yields are improving. Where we're going from here we're all trying to figure out, but I think we can agree that the worst is behind us," Haak said.
JetBlue (JBL) Executive VP & CFO, Ed Barnes said, "We believe that we are well positioned," adding that (JBL) expects to be free-cash-flow positive for 2009. (JBL) has slowed growth over the past three years, deferring orders, selling 19 airplanes and leasing out another two. "For 2010, we have announced we have no committed airplanes," Barnes said, although (JBL) "will remain opportunistic if we see appropriate market conditions and if we can obtain favorable pricing. I think we'd be open to some deliveries in 2010." (JBL) plans to transition its reservation and check-in systems to Sabre by March, a move he expects will increase both revenue and costs.
Both airlines cited progress in growing ancillary revenue. (JBL) said its "Even More Legroom" program will contribute $70 million this year, up from $45 million in 2008. (CQT) said charging passengers $6 to change their seat at check-in will contribute +$25 to +$30 million per year.
The USA Air Transport Association (ATA) announced that 15 airlines have signed Memos of Understanding (MOU)s with either AltAir Fuels, Rentech or both expressing nonbinding commitment to support future biofuel supply. Air Canada (ACN), American Airlines (AAL), Atlas Air (TLS), Delta Air Lines (DAL)/(NWA), FedEx Express (FED), JetBlue Airways (JBL), Lufthansa (DLH), Mexicana (CMA), Polar Air Cargo (PAO), United Airlines (UAL), (UPS) Airlines, and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) signed with both providers. Alaska Airlines (ASA) and Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) went with AltAir only and AirTran Airways (CQT) signed with Rentech. The (ATA) said discussions with additional fuel producers "about other projects" have started. "This agreement is a significant step forward, establishing a framework for a large group of diverse carriers to negotiate a definitive fuel purchase agreement," Rentech President & CEO, D Hunt Ramsbottom said.
AltAir is working on producing some 75 million gallons of jet and diesel fuel derived from camelina oils or comparable feedstock per year at a new plant in Anacortes, Washington, USA. Rentech plans to produce around 250 million gallons per year of synthetic jet fuel derived principally from coal or petroleum coke near Natchez, Mississipi, USA with the resultant carbon dioxide sequestered and the carbon footprint potentially further reduced by integrating biomass as a feedstock. Last summer, eight airlines operating at Los Angeles International (LAX) signed a deal with Rentech for the supply of a renewable synthetic diesel fuel for use in ground service equipment (GSE).
717-2BD (N949AT) has latest sports theme livery with the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s colors and titles of the Orlando Magic - - SEE PHOTO - - "CQT-717-2BD 2009-12."
January 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) will open pilot (FC) and flight attendant (CA) bases in Milwaukee in April. (CQT) will station 50 737 pilots (FC) and a minimum of 50 717 and 737 flight attendants (CA) in the city, where it will employ more than >300 people in all positions.
(CQT) has received the Air Transport World (ATW) magazine's "Airline Market Leadership Award." The editors recognized (CQT)'s innovative blending of the traditional low-fare model with service amenities not typical of budget airlines, including a business class (C) cabin and free XM Satellite Radio. The editors further cited (CQT)'s leadership role in becoming the first major airline to offer Wi-Fi on every flight through its partnership with Aircell. (CQT) is also a market leader in terms of operational performance, as measured by the USA Department of Transportation.
The hybrid model that secured (ATW)'s 2010 Market Leadership Award paid dividends for AirTran Airways (CQT) in 2009 as it earned a company record +$134.7 million net profit that represented a reversal from its -$266.3 million loss in 2008 and is the best full-year result reported in the USA so far.
Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said the result validated "our unique combination of high-quality, low-cost service." It included $34.7 million in unrealized gains on future fuel hedges and $6.3 million in other exceptional items. (CQT) has hedged 40% of its 2010 fuel requirement.
Operating revenue in 2009 fell -8.3% year-over-year to $2.34 billion, while expenses were cut -17.6% to $2.16 billion as fuel costs sank -43.2%. Operating result swung to a +$177 million profit from the -$75.8 million loss reported in 2008. The airline transported 24 million revenue passengers last year, a -2.5% decline. Traffic measured in (RPM)s dipped -1.9% to 18.59 billion against a -2.2% reduction in capacity to 23.29 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +0.2 point to 79.8% LF.
Yield was down -11.7% to 11.24 cents, as average fare slipped -11.2% to $87.05. Unit revenue dropped -11.5% to 8.97 cents and (CASM) declined -15.9% to 9.29 cents, but non fuel unit cost was up +6% to 6.38 cents. (CQT)'s fleet numbered 186 at year end, an increase of two from the prior year.
(CQT) launched thrice-weekly service from Gulfport/Biloxi to Atlanta and Tampa aboard 717s. (CQT) launched service to Nassau from Atlanta (daily), Baltimore (four-times-weekly) and Orlando International (MCO) (five-times-weekly) as well as four-times-weekly, (MCO) - Key West service, aboard 737s. Its newest market is Grand Rapids in the economically struggling state of Michigan.
(CQT) added more than >30 new routes last year and opened seven new destinations. Senior VP Marketing & Planning, Kevin Healy said expansion at Milwaukee, Orlando International, and Baltimore has helped establish "a strong platform for future growth."
Fourth-quarter profit of +$17.1 million compared to a -$121.6 million loss in the final three months of 2008. Operating profit fell -51.1% to +$26.1 million as revenue rose +1.5% to $598.4 million.
February 2010: The nine largest USA airlines posted a cumulative net loss of -$3.43 billion in 2009, considerably improved over a net deficit of -$25 billion in 2008 when heavy goodwill impairment charges and Delta Air Lines (DAL)/Northwest Airlines (NWA) merger costs weighed down the collective bottom line.
Operating loss was -$532 million, significantly narrowed from a -$22.15 billion operating deficit the prior year. A brightening economic environment in the second half of the year helped four of the nine USA majors to post a 2009 net profit and five to earn positive full-year results on an operating basis.
AirTran Airways (CQT) was the top performer with a +$135 million net profit that was reversed from a -$266 million loss in 2008. The Alaska Air (ASA) Group followed with +$122 million in net income. The worst performer was American Airlines (AAL), which posted a -$1.47 billion net loss.
The cumulative 2009 loss was not too severe considering that revenue plunged -15.4% year-over-year to $106.74 billion. The carriers cut capacity -6.2%, outpacing a -5.3% traffic decrease. Load factor grew +0.8 point to 80.8% LF.
Domestic traffic fell even more, with the five legacy international airlines ((AAL), Continental Airlines (CAL), (DAL), United Airlines (UAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA)) operating -7.6% fewer collective mainline domestic (RPM)s year-over-year in 2009 on a -8.4% cut in capacity. Domestic load factor for the five was 83.7% LF, up +0.7 point.
But the mostly full airplanes hardly compensated for much lower fares, especially in the first half of the year, leading to an 11.1% yield drop for the nine majors to 12.11 cents. (RASM) decreased -9.6% to 10.32 cents. Helped by lower fuel costs and reduced special charges compared to 2008, (CASM) fell -18.3% to 10.83 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel rose +5% to 7.74 cents.
Six of the 10 American carriers that have reported 2009 fourth-quarter results turned a profit in the period, among them AirTran Airways (CQT), whose CFO, Arne Haak said that "yield and average prices are very different from what we saw 3 to 6 months ago" and that "even on an absolute basis, things are looking more normal than in quite some time."
Speaking following the release of (CQT)'s fourth-quarter and full-year results, Haak said improving fare mix is driving the nascent recovery. (CQT) posted a +$17.1 million fourth-quarter profit, the third best among the 10 reporting USA carriers, and its +$134.7 million full-year surplus was the highest among a group also comprising Alaska Air (ASA) Group, Allegiant Air (WJE), American Airlines (AAL), Continental Airlines (CAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), JetBlue Airways (JBL), Southwest Airlines (SWA), United Airlines (UAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA).
"It's more about the mix of fares," Haak said. "I don't think anyone's been successful in doing some fare increases. It's all been about yield, and what we are seeing is an improvement in yield that's coming more from mix than necessarily increasing the published fare." (CQT)'s fourth-quarter yield of 11.89 cents compared to 10.24 cents in the third quarter and 11.14 cents in the second. Haak also said that despite the gradual rise in yield, low-cost carrier (LCC)s still have an advantage in the current climate. "I think there are times in the economic cycle where being low cost is less important. I don't think we are anywhere near that point now," he said. "People are very mindful of what they're spending and I think even consumers who may feel less threatened that they're likely going to lose their job, they're still not going to stick their neck out and spend recklessly. I think people still feel relatively uncertain about what the future holds for us economically."
Consequently, capacity discipline will be key. Haak said that aside from Allegiant (WJE), "nobody is growing [ASMs] capacity more than low to mid single digits" and the USA industry as a whole will be "down a point or up a point or two."
The trend toward unbundling the airline product is one that will buffer the industry going forward as well, he said. "It makes a lot of sense," he said, and airlines are still discovering potential ancillary revenue streams. (CQT) currently is the only USA carrier to offer wireless Internet access across its entire fleet, one of the factors that led to Air Transport World (ATW)'s 2010 Market Leadership Award, and is continuing to consider additional a la carte options, Haak said.
(CQT) currently charges $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second compared to its low-cost competitor Southwest (SWA), which markets its free bag check-in extensively, JetBlue (JBL), which charges for the second bag only, and most USA network airlines that recently raised fees to $25 and $35 respectively. Haak would not say whether (CQT) will join them, commenting, "it's something we will continue to look at. That being said, we have to be mindful of our customers. But most customers understand the why, why airlines are doing it. Even (SWA) is doing it. They just haven't done it on bags yet."
AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch four-times-weekly, Atlanta - Tunica, Mississipi, service May 6 aboard a 717. (CQT) will launch service from Grand Rapids to Baltimore (twice-daily) and Orlando International (MCO) (daily) on May 4. (CQT) will launch the following seasonal service: Daily flights from San Antonio to Baltimore and (MCO) on May 27, daily Allentown - Atlanta (ATL) on May 4, four-times-weekly, Asheville - Tampa on May 4, weekly Wichita - (MCO) on May 27, and daily, Harrisburg - (ATL) on May 4.
(CQT) announced the promotion of Senior VP Operations, Klaus Goersch to Executive VP Operations & Customer Service.
(CQT) announced that flight dispatchers at its Orlando control center represented by the Transport Workers Union ratified a new 48-month collective bargaining agreement.
March 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.29 billion (RPM)s traffic in February, up +5.4% year-over-year, against a +4.2% lift in capacity to 1.72 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +0.9 point to 75.1% LF.
(CQT) said it expects first-quarter unit revenue to rise +4.8% to +5.3% year-over-year on a +6% lift in capacity (ASM)s. Non-fuel unit cost is expected to increase +4.5% to +5%.
United Airlines (UAL) and AirTran Airways (CQT) revealed the amount of revenue lost as a result of last month's record-breaking snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast USA. (UAL) said the storms cost it $40 million in foregone revenue as consolidated February (RASM) rose +17% to +19% year-over-year as system capacity dropped -5.3%. It would have been down just -1.8% without cancellations resulting from the winter weather. (UAL) flew 7.82 billion (RPM)s traffic during the month, up +2.1%, while capacity (ASM)s were down to 9.93 billion. Load factor rose +5.7 points to 78.7% LF.
AirTran (CQT) said it already has cancelled more than >1,400 flights in 2010 with a revenue hit of -$5 to -$6 million. It did not reach that number in 2009 until November. It now expects to report a +6% year-over-year increase in first-quarter capacity rather than the +7% to +8% it had expected. First-quarter yield is up +3.5% to +4.5% year-over-year, more than the +2.5% to +3.5% formerly forecast, while unit cost excluding fuel is up +4% to +5% rather than +2.5% to +3% "due to operational disruptions," it said.
Continental Airlines (CAL) (-$25 million), Southwest Airlines (SWA) (-$15 million), and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) (-$30 million) also have estimated the weather's revenue impact.
USA airlines presenting at the Transportation Conference in New York agreed that they see signs of a nascent industry recovery but that they will maintain cost and capacity discipline for now. "We're clearly seeing signs of economic recovery and premium and corporate travelers returning," (UAL) Corporation's CFO, Kathryn Mikells said, adding, "The return of higher quality traffic, combined with the significant reductions in capacity that we undertook in 2009, has really begun to improve our relative revenue results." American Airlines (AAL) Executive VP Finance & Planning and CFO, Tom Horton said first-quarter mainline passenger (RASM) will be up +6.5% to +7.5% year-over-year, while Continental Airlines (CAL) Chairman, President & CEO, Jeff Smisek said (CAL) is "seeing business (C) travel begin to return." Delta Air Lines (DAL) agreed that corporate sales trends are improving, though its system capacity at the end of the first quarter will be down -4% to -5% year-over-year. (DAL) President, Ed Bastian said (DAL) will "continue to maintain that level of capacity restraint."
From the low-cost sector, Southwest Airlines (SWA) said it is taking a slow approach to expanding in new markets, remaining focused on improving profitability rather than increasing fleet size. CFO, Laura Wright said (SWA) wants additional slots at New York LaGuardia and that it will be filing comments in the next few weeks to express interest. "We don't have an expectation to have 100 flights a day at LaGuardia, but we know we've got demand for more than the eight that we have today," she said. Slots might become available if US Airways (AMW)/(USA) and (DAL) proceed with their slot swap agreement. AirTran Airways (CQT) said it expects capacity growth of +3% to +4% over the next year owing to higher utilization and will maintain a conservative fleet plan for the "next couple of years." It expects to take delivery of seven airplanes over the next year. JetBlue Airways (JBL) has decided to take four A320s in 2011 rather than the eight previously planned, along with five EMB-190s, according to the "Associated Press."
April 2010: After leading USA majors with a +$134.7 million 2009 profit, AirTran Airways (CQT) slipped to a -$12 million net loss in the first quarter owing to higher fuel costs and severe winter weather that disrupted operations during the period.
The deficit was a reversal from a +$28.7 million profit in the year-ago quarter. "This winter proved to be one of historic inclement weather for much of the East Coast and particularly for some of our busiest operations like Baltimore/Washington and Atlanta," Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said.
He also noted that per-barrel crude oil prices averaged $41 in the 2009 first quarter but nearly doubled to $78 in the first three months of this year. "Winter storms further pressured unit costs due to reduced capacity and additional expenses related to extreme weather," the company stated.
Nevertheless, the carrier posted record first-quarter revenue of $605.1 million, up +11.7% year-over-year, and is "well positioned for the future" and to "reap the rewards of . . . the broader economic recovery," Fornaro said. Expenses heightened +21.8% to $602.1 million including a +50.6% jump in fuel costs to $200.2 million and operating income was +$3 million, down -93.6% from +$47.7 million last year.
Traffic increased +7.5% to 4.39 billion (RPM)s on a +6.1% boost in capacity to 5.68 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 77.2% LF, up +0.9 point. Yield rose +3.7% to 12.34 cents as (RASM) lifted +5.3% to 10.65 cents and (CASM) leaped +14.9% to 10.59 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel grew +4.9% to 7.07 cents.
Klaus Goersch, Executive VP Operations & Customer Service. Jack Smith, Senior VP Customer Service. Rocky Wiggens, Senior VP Information Service & CIO. Stephen Kolski, Executive VP Corporate Affairs.
May 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.64 billion (RPM)s traffic in April, up +8.1% year-over-year, on a +6.1% increase in capacity to 1.996 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +1.5 points to 81.9% LF.
(CQT) launched service from Grand Rapids to Orlando (daily) and Baltimore (twice-daily), and plans to start twice-weekly service from Grand Rapids to Fort Myers and Tampa on June 12.
Frontier Airlines (FRO) and AirTran Airways (CQT) will end their frequent-flyer partnership July 16; it began in 2006.
June 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 1.67 billion (RPM)s traffic in May, up +8.4% year-over-year, on a +4.6% increase in capacity to 2.07 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +2.8 points to 80.8% LF.
(CQT) launched daily service from Huntsville to Baltimore and Orlando.
(CQT) opened a new System Operations Control Center in Orlando, a 16,000-sq-ft facility that will run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The command center employs dispatchers, airplane routers, air traffic control (ATC) network planners, maintenance operations controllers, passenger movement planners, flight followers, crew planners, crew schedulers, and duty managers.
July 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) operated 1.89 billion (RPM)s traffic in June, up +7.4% year-over-year. Capacity increased +4% to 2.19 billion (ASM)s and load factor rose +2.8 points to 86.4% LF.
AirTran Airways (CQT) reported second-quarter net income of +$12.4 million, down -84.2% from a +$78.4 million profit in the year-ago period, calling the result a "solid performance." It noted that -$26.4 million in unrealized losses on fuel hedges held down the bottom line; excluding those charges, its net profit would have been +$38.8 million. (CQT) pointed out that it "set quarterly records for (RPM)s flown, load factor and enplaned passengers" and continued to perform well operationally, particularly regarding low numbers of mishandled baggage and an 83.8% on time rate.
Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said the company's "long-term financial position" is continuing to "strengthen" and highlighted AirTran (CQT)'s presence in Atlanta and Milwaukee, where it operates 45% and 15% of its capacity respectively. It particularly targets business passengers in those markets. "Milwaukee is exceptionally strong and Atlanta is probably coming back faster than the system average," he said. "The business markets are now leading the way as we go into the third quarter. Now the yields have really begun to strengthen."
The carrier's second-quarter revenue lifted +16.1% to $700.6 million, while expenses increased +17.6% to $632.3 million, producing operating income of +$68.2 million, up +3.1% over $66.2 million in operating income last year. Traffic rose +7.9% to 5.2 billion (RPM)s on +4.9% capacity growth to 6.26 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 83.1% LF, up +2.4 points. Yield heightened +9.4% to 12.19 cents as (RASM) lifted +10.7% to 11.19 cents, and (CASM) increased +12.2% to 10.10 cents. Non-fuel (CASM) rose +1.9% to 6.45 cents.
(CQT) is a low cost carrier (LCC) designed for business (C) travelers, operating Business class (C), new airplanes with XM Satellite Radio and EasyFit overhead bins, and assigned seats. (CQT) operates over >700 jet airplane flights to destinations throughout the USA, mainly from its hub at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (CQT) is the world's largest operator of the 717 airplane.
Employees = 8,254.
(IATA) Code: FL - 332. (ICAO) Code: TRS (Callsign - CITRUS).
Parent organization/shareholders: AirTran Holdings (94.88%); & Par Capital (5.12%).
Main base: Orlando International airport (MCO).
Hub: Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport (ATL).
Domestic, scheduled destinations: Akron/Canton; Atlanta; Baltimore; Bloomington-Normal; Boston; Buffalo; Burlington; Charleston; Charlotte; Chicago (Midway); Columbus (Ohio) (starts November 2008); Dallas/Fort Worth; Dayton; Denver; Detroit; Flint; Fort Lauderdale; Fort Myers; Gulfport/Biloxi; Hampton; Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) (starts November 2008); Houston (Hobby); Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Florida; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Memphis; Miami; Milwaukee; Minneapolis/St Paul; Moline; New Orleans; New York (La Guardia); Newark; Newport News/Williamsburg; Orlando; Pensacola; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland (Maine); Raleigh/Durham; Richmond; Rochester, San Antonio; San Diego (seasonal service only); San Francisco; Sarasota/Bradenton; Savannah/Hilton Head; Seattle (seasonal service only); St Louis; Tampa; Washington DC (Dulles); Washington DC (Reagan); West Palm Beach; White Plains (NY); & Wichita.
International, scheduled destination: Cancun; Freeport; & San Juan.
(CQT), which has been operating charter flights to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, since 2008, will add Punta Cana as its fifth scheduled service Caribbean destination with twice-weekly
flights from Atlanta starting February 16. (CQT) will be challenging
Delta Air Lines (DAL), which currently has daily flights on
its schedule for February, using 142-seat MD-88 airplanes on most days. The Caribbean has become a favorite growth area for USA low-cost carriers (LCC)s. In that regard, (CQT) is a relative latecomer to the region, but already offers service to Aruba, Cancun, Montego Bay, and Nassau/Paradise Island.
August 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) flew 2.0 billion (RPM)s traffic in July, up +2.2% year-over-year, on a +1.9% increase in capacity to 2.26 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +0.3 point to 88.6% LF.
(CQT) unveiled its state-of-the-art new Systems Operation Control (SOC) Center in Orlando, Florida, and also announced plans to open a pilot (FC) base in Orlando this fall.
The base will initially employ 100 pilots (FC), including a Chief Pilot. Orlando will join Atlanta and Milwaukee as domiciles for AirTran (CQT) pilots (FC). The $6.9 million (SOC) was paid for by a combination of funds from the state of Florida, the city of Orlando, including the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and AirTran (CQT). The facility is built to withstand 150 miles-per-hour winds, contains redundant communications systems, scalability for future growth, and features a backup generator capable of powering the facility indefinitely.
(CQT) is making some changes in its service from Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois, discontinuing flights to its Atlanta hub November 30 but adding service to Fort Myers, Florida, in the first quarter of 2011. (CQT) also will maintain service to Orlando International Airport with service four
times a week.
(CQT) soon will drop out of the Atlanta - Miami market it has served for more than a decade. (CQT), which has operated on the route since 1998, will end the service out of its Atlanta hub on October 7. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines (DAL) is also on the route with 10 daily flights, and American Airlines (AAL), with its Miami hub, offers six. “After flying the route for many years, we determined that we couldn’t continue to support it,” a (CQT) spokesman says. “We have a much bigger operation in Fort Lauderdale, so that’s where we are going to run our South Florida operation from.”
The cessation of the Atlanta service will leave AirTran (CQT) with just one Miami route to and from its large operation at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (CQT), which offers as many as eight daily flights for Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale, says it will add an extra daily in October to re-accommodate Atlanta - Miami customers.
The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) assessed a $500,000 civil penalty against AirTran Airways (CQT) "for violating rules protecting air travelers with disabilities." The (DOT) said up to $200,000 of (CQT)'s fine "may be used to improve its service to disabled passengers beyond what is required by law" including using up to $140,000 to "employ an automated wheelchair tracking system at (CQT)'s major hub airports within one year that will generate real-time reports of the carrier's wheelchair assistance performance."
The (DOT) said its Aviation Enforcement Office found "a number of violations [committed by (CQT)] of the requirement for boarding assistance" in the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. In addition, the (DOT) said (CQT) "frequently did not provide an adequate written response to complaints from passengers" and "failed to properly categorize disability complaints in reports filed with the [DOT]."
September 2010: Southwest Airlines (SWA) agreed to buy AirTran Airways (CQT) in a $1.4 billion deal that will combine two of the USA's largest low-cost carrier (LCC)s and give (SWA) a bigger slice of the market in the Northeast and in Atlanta, the busiest hub in the nation. The acquisition moves (SWA), which already carries more passengers than any other American airline, into 37 new cities.
It gains a foothold in cities like New York and Boston, where (SWA) has already been expanding, and adds to its push to expand internationally. (SWA) gains routes to Mexico and the Caribbean, where remaining discount airline JetBlue (JBL) has a big presence.
(SWA) has been targeting Atlanta, where (CQT) currently competes with Delta Air Lines (DAL), because it is a hub for business (C) travelers, who tend to pay higher fares.
The buyout is the latest in a wave of consolidation in the airline industry. Continental Airlines (CAL) and the parent of United Airlines (UAL) will combine this week to topple (DAL) as the largest airline in the world. (DAL) got the title when it bought Northwest Airlines (NWA) in 2008.
For fliers, it could mean higher airfares in cities where competition is already fierce, such as Boston, New York, and Baltimore. Fares probably won't leap dramatically anytime soon, said fare expert George Hobica, because (JBL) competes on many of the routes where (CQT) and (SWA) overlap in the East. But travelers also should be prepared for fewer fare sales when (SWA) and (CQT) combine, Hobica said. Locked in a constant battle with (DAL) in Atlanta and other discounters on the East Coast, (CQT) puts fares on sale nearly every week. The acquisition by (SWA) will take out a competitor and make fare sales less important for the combined airline.
Passengers in smaller cities like Moline, Illinois, and Wichita, Kansas will have more options for flights and connections, which means more opportunities to avoid delays and cancellations.
In welcome news for weary travelers, (SWA) said it will drop (CQT)'s bag fees, when the pair combine in 2012. Right now, (CQT) charges $20 for the first checked bag, $25 for the second. Some major airlines charge even more. (SWA) claims it has lured passengers by refusing to charge for bags, and has built a marketing campaign around the policy, with baggage handlers shouting declarations of love to suitcases on the tarmac.
(SWA) will remain the No 4 airline by traffic (RPM). (CQT) is the nation's 8th largest airline.
Last year, (SWA) tried unsuccessfully to buy Frontier Airlines (FRO) out of bankruptcy. Republic Airways Holdings won the auction for (FRO) last August, buying it for about $109 million.
(SWA)'s acquisition of (CQT) is expected to close in the first half of next year. It requires both regulatory and shareholder approval. Based on (SWA)' recent closing share price, the deal is worth $7.69 per (CQT) share. That's a 69% premium over its closing price of $4.55. (CQT) shares jumped +62% to $7.36, while (SWA) shares rose $1.73 to $14.01. (SWA) will pay about $670 million with available cash. (SWA) will assume $2 billion in (CQT) debt.
(SWA) and (CQT) said the new airline will operate from more than >100 different airports and serve more than >100 million customers.
In April, AirTran Holdings Incorporated CEO, Robert Fornaro signaled his interest in making a deal, saying the airline would consider a combination with another carrier if approached and if such a deal made sense for the company and shareholders. But when asked by "The Associated Press" who might be a potential suitor for (CQT), Fornaro said, "I'm not sure that we're necessarily a natural fit to be gobbled up by somebody else."
(CQT) was founded in 1992 as ValuJet Airlines (VAU). It was renamed after the 1996 crash of ValuJet (VAU) Flight 592 into the Florida Everglades, which killed all 110 people on board.
(CQT) would be (SWA)'s largest acquisition by a wide margin. (SWA), which began with a handful of planes hopping among three Texas cities in the early 1970s, bought Morris Air and Muse Air in the mid-1980s. Two years ago, (SWA) bought assets of ATA Airlines (AAT) out of bankruptcy, which gave (SWA) an opening to serve New York with (AAT)'s takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia Airport.
Workforces of both airlines are heavily organized. (SWA)'s approximately 5,900 pilots (FC) are represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, while AirTran (CQT)'s 1,500 pilots (FC) are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association. (SWA)'s 9,600 flight attendants (CA) are represented by the Transport Workers Union while AirTran (CQT)'s 2,000 flight attendants (CA) are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants. Full integration is expected to take up to two years.
(CQT)/(SWA) will operate 685 airplanes comprising 401 737-700s, 173 737-300s, 25 737-500s and 86 717s. (SWA) Chairman, President & CEO, Gary Kelly said that (SWA) believes it can make the 717 work in the (SWA) fleet.
AirTran Airways (CQT) increased capacity by +2.1% (ASM) in August, slightly outpacing its +1.7% growth in traffic (RPM). As a result, August load factor was 84.5% LF, a decline of -0.4 percentage points. For the year to date, (CQT) has seen a +6% increase in traffic, while capacity has grown +4.5%.
The passenger traffic increase for July at Pittsburgh International Airport represented the fourth straight month of growth. Traffic increased +3.7% to 779,145 scheduled passengers when compared with July a year ago. Six of eight airlines posted large traffic gains with AirTran Airways (CQT) leading the pack with a +49.2% gain to 76,526 passengers. JetBlue (JBL)’s traffic increased +45.3% to 25,555 passengers; American (AAL), 39.6% to 51,524 passengers; Air Canada (ACN), 34.2% to 4,394 passengers; and United (UAL), 19% to 73,793 passengers. Growth should continue, says Bradley Penrod, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
Sagging passenger demand does not appear to be a concern at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), which recorded its busiest month in history in July. (BWI) says 2.2 million commercial passengers flew through the airport, which broke the record set in August 2001. The record was largely driven by Southwest Airlines (SWA) and AirTran Airways (CQT), (BWI)'s No 1 and No 2 carriers, respectively. Both airlines count (BWI) among their busiest airports, and each posted its highest-ever monthly passenger count at (BWI) in July.
(SWA), the nation's largest low-cost carrier (LCC), accounted for more than half (>1.2 million) of the airport's passengers in July, the latest month for which data are available. For the summer travel season, (SWA) boosted its level of flights to 182 daily departures at (BWI), the most ever for the airline, according to the airport.
Passenger traffic has increased at (BWI) during 13 of the past 14 months. The only exception came in February 2010, when two blizzards hammered the region and affected airline flight schedules throughout the nation.
October 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) operated 1.39 billion (RPM)s traffic in September, up +1.7% from the year-ago month, on a +0.6% increase in capacity to 1.79 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +0.7 points to 77.7% LF.
(CQT) will launch service from Milwaukee to Phoenix (thrice-daily, December 13) and Tampa (twice-daily, March 8). It will also start Tampa – Key West service March 10, twice-daily, Akron Canton – Orlando flights December 12, and twice-daily, Baltimore – San Juan service on April 5.
(CQT) parent, AirTran Holdings reported third-quarter net income of +$36.3 million, more than triple the +$10.4 million profit it earned in the year-ago period, and also announced last week that it reached a tentative agreement with its 1,700 pilots (FC) on a new labor contract. (CQT) expects its acquisition by Southwest Airlines (SWA) to close in the first half of 2011 with "commercial and operational integration…slated to culminate in 2012." Third-quarter revenue rose +11.8% to $667.9 million, while expenses increased +9.1% to $611.3 million, producing operating income of +$56.7 million, up +53% over an operating profit of +$37 million in the 2009 September quarter.
(CQT) pilots (FC) will vote on the tentative agreement over a 30-day period and, if ratified, will take effect December 1. Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro said the contract "will reward our pilots (FC) for their hard work while still allowing the airline to maintain our low-cost structure." Added (ALPA) (CQT) Master Executive Council Chairman, Linden Hillman, "We believe that this contract provides significant improvements in pay, quality of life and other important benefits that our pilots (FC) have earned and deserve." Both sides said the terms of the agreement, including the contract's length, will not be released before it is ratified.
(CQT)'s third-quarter traffic increased +1.9% year-over-year to 5.27 billion (RPM)s on a +1.6% lift in capacity to 6.27 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 84.1% LF, up +0.3 point. Yield improved +11.6% to 11.43 cents as (RASM) grew +10% to 10.65 cents and (CASM) rose +7.4% to 9.75 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel was up +6.3% to 6.38 cents.
November 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) says the 1.56 billion (RPM)s traffic flown in October represent a new monthly record and an increase of +4.3% over year-earlier levels. October's occupancy rate of 82.4% LF was up +3% points, as 2 million passengers boarded (CQT) flights, an increase of +3.9% over October 2009.
(CQT) announced its 1,700 pilots (FC), represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement, which takes effect on December 1, provides for increased compensation, improved benefits and enhancements to productivity. "This is good news for our pilots (FC), our customers, and our airline," said (CQT)'s Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro. "We have now finalized an agreement that rewards our pilots (FC) for their hard work and professionalism, while still allowing our airline to maintain its high-quality, low-cost structure, and affordable service."
AirTran (CQT) has agreed to be acquired by Southwest Airlines (SWA), whose pilots (FC) are represented by a different union.
December 2010: AirTran Airways (CQT) reported its November results for traffic, reflecting a +6.6% increase in (RPM)s. (CQT) expanded capacity at a much slower rate of +1.4%, pushing occupancy up nearly +4 points to 80.6% LF. For the year to date, traffic is up +5.6% on a +3.5% gain in capacity.
AirTran Airways (CQT) plans to challenge Delta Air Lines (DAL) with new service from Atlanta to Bermuda. (CQT) says it wants to begin seasonal service next spring from its Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hub and Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) to Bermuda. (CQT) applied December 7 for USA Transportation Department approval for the service. If the service is approved, (CQT) would begin daily flights from (BWI) to Bermuda's L F Wade International Airport on April 7 and continue it through October 24. The Atlanta service would begin May 26 and run through September 6. Both routes would use 737-700 airplanes configured for 137 seats.
On the Atlanta - Bermuda route, (CQT) would be competing against (DAL)'s daily service on 737-800 airplanes with 160 seats. There is no other airline currently scheduled to offer service on the (BWI) - Bermuda route, although USA 3000 (USX) operated service as often as twice a week last summer.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) Senior VP Finance & CFO, Laura Wright told investors and media at the 2010 Hudson Securities Airline Conference in New York that (SWA)’s proposed acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) is on track to “close in the first half of 2011.”
Following the USA Department of Justice (DOJ)’s second request November 8, “we are working on fulfilling their information needs,” said Wright. She noted that (SWA) filed its S-4 Registration Statement with USA Securities & Exchange Commission on November 19. “Now what remains is to have the (CQT) shareholders’ approval and receipt of the (DOJ) and any other necessary clearances, plus the fulfillment of customary closing conditions,” Wright said.
After a record third-quarter net income of +$195 million (excluding special items), Wright said that, assuming traffic and revenue trends continue, (SWA) expects “solid revenue improvement” in the fourth quarter. “We have strong December bookings and, excluding fuel and related taxes, we expect fourth-quarter 2010’s unit costs to increase, year-over-year, in the 6% range,” Wright said.
Looking to 2011, Wright said capacity (ASM)s are forecast to be “up in the 8% range in the first quarter of 2011 and in the 5% range in the second quarter.”
(SWA) Chairman, President & CEO, Gary Kelly told the Wings Club in New York City that (SWA) has notified Boeing (TBC) that it will “substitute 20 of its 737-700 orders for 737-800s,” with the first delivery scheduled for March 2012. (SWA) had made known its desire to add the larger type into its fleet of 737-700s, 737-300s, and 737-500s but needed to get approval from its pilot (FC) and cabin crew (CA) unions first.
In a statement, (SWA) said it is "continuing to finalize discussions" with (TBC) regarding "substitutions of the 737-800s for the 737-700 positions, and configuration and equipage options." Kelly said the current plan is to take the 20 airplanes in 180-minute Extended Twin Engine Operations (ETOPS) configuration. The airplanes "would bring us to more distant markets like Hawaii, Cancun, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda," he said. Southwest Airlines (SWA) plans to buy at least 70 737-800 airplanes by 2014, CEO, Gary Kelly said, with the first 20 deliveries scheduled for March 2012. Kelly said the larger planes would boost efficiency at congested airports and allow service to Hawaii and other more distant markets.
Regarding (SWA)’s pending acquisition of AirTran (CQT), Kelly said it “boosts our profitability, which is key to resuming investment in our business,” and brings an “additional 38 cities” into the (SWA) network. Coupled with the 72 cities (SWA) serves today, Kelly noted this creates a “whole host of expansion opportunities simply by virtue of “connecting the two route networks together.” This can all be accomplished, he said, “without adding an airplane or raising fares.” Kelly also announced 10 additional daily nonstop flights from Newark Liberty with three daily non-stops to Baltimore/Washington International, three daily non-stops to Denver, two daily non-stops to Houston Hobby, and two daily non-stops to Phoenix Sky Harbor, beginning June 5, 2011. These cities join the previously announced non-stop service from Newark (EWR) to Chicago Midway with six non-stop flights, and St Louis with two non-stop flights — which begins March 27, 2011 — providing Newark a total of 18 daily (SWA) departures. (SWA) acquired slots at (EWR) from United Airlines (UAL) and Continental Airlines (CAL) under an agreement between those carriers and the USA Department of Justice.
(CQT) hired 14 pilots (FC) in November and plans to hire 14 pilots (FC) in December, and 16 in January. (CQT) is not accepting new applications. (CQT) attended the recent http://wwwFltOps.com Flight Crew (FC) job fair in Atlanta.
January 2011: AirTran Airways (CQT) finished a record traffic year with a +2.7% (RPM) gain in December. December occupancy rose to 78.9% LF on a +1.1% (ASM) increase in capacity. For all of 2010, (CQT)'s traffic was up +5.3% compared to 2009 levels, while capacity rose by +3.3% (ASM). (CQT)'s load factor increased +1.6 points to 81.4% LF, and the number of enplaned passengers increased +3% to 24.7 million. Each of these metrics represents all-time records for (CQT).
AirTran Holdings, Inc, the parent company of AirTran Airways (CQT) reported net income of +$38.5 million for the full year 2010. (CQT) has reported profits for eight of the past nine years. For the fourth quarter of 2010, (CQT) recorded net income of +$1.9 million an -88.7% fall from a +$17.1 million profit in the 2009 December quarter, on a +7.9% lift in revenue to $645.5 million. "What we accomplished in 2010 should be a great source of pride for our 8,500 dedicated Crew Members," said Bob Fornaro, (CQT)'s Chairman, President & CEO. "Most significantly, during 2010, we hit the ball out of the park with our outstanding operational performance and customer service. We also entered into a seven-year lease for expanded facilities at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and completed a five-year agreement with our pilots (FC). As we look forward to our pending acquisition by Southwest Airlines (SWA) in 2011, our airline is in the best operational shape ever. We are very well positioned for the next chapter of our exciting history."
2010 marks the third consecutive year (CQT) has been recognized for its outstanding operational performance as the number one low-cost carrier in the prestigious "Airline Quality Rating" (http://www.aqr.aero) and the sixth consecutive year the airline has been ranked in the top three among major USA airlines in this highly-regarded, objective ranking.
During 2010, (CQT) agreed to be acquired by (SWA), the largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the USA. The proposed acquisition is subject to customary shareholder and regulatory approvals and if approved, the acquisition is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2011. As (SWA) prepares for its planned acquisition of (CQT), some (CQT) employees say the sense of anticipation is "palpable." (SWA) workers have reached out to their new colleagues with parties and cakes, and observers say preserving the (SWA) culture and sense of family will be the key to a successful merger.
(CQT) ended the year with over >$450 million in unrestricted cash and investments. During the year, (CQT) also reduced its debt by more than >-$222 million, including the repurchase of over $90 million in convertible notes.
Other highlights of (CQT)'s accomplishments in 2010 and to date include:
* (CQT) received the prestigious "Market Leadership Award" from leading industry publication, Air Transport World (ATW) and was selected "Best Value Airline" by SmarterTravel.
* (CQT) opened pilot (FC) bases in Milwaukee and Orlando, and a flight attendant (CA) base in Orlando to support increased flying in these markets and greater crew scheduling efficiency.
* (CQT) became Milwaukee airport's busiest carrier as measured by market share.
* (CQT) transitioned to a new, state-of-the-art, System Operations Control (SOC) Center in Orlando.
* In addition to the pilot (FC) contract, (CQT) successfully ratified collective bargaining agreements with Teamsters Local 528 and Transport Workers Union which represent mechanics (MT) and related Crew Members and flight dispatchers, respectively.
* (CQT) continued to build and expand its network, including announcing service to two new international markets, Bermuda and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
* (CQT) received the (FAA)'s prestigious "Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Diamond Award of Excellence" for the 14th consecutive year.
(CQT) is a Fortune 1000 company and has been ranked the number one low-cost carrier (LCC) in the "Airline Quality Rating" study for the past three years. (CQT) is the only major airline with Gogo In-flight Internet connection on every flight, and offers coast-to-coast service on North America's newest all-Boeing fleet. (CQT)'s low-cost, high-quality product also includes assigned seating, Business Class (C), and complimentary XM Satellite Radio on every flight.
(CQT) will launch Atlanta service to Aruba (daily, March 7), Punta Cana (daily, February 16), and Bermuda (May 26). It will increase Atlanta service to Cancun to twice-daily February 16 and will resume seasonal Atlanta service to Portland, Maine May 4. It will also launch Baltimore service to San Francisco (daily, May 26), Los Angeles (seasonal, March 8) and Seattle (seasonal, May 4).
In a textbook preemptive move, Alaska Airlines (ASA) began flying to Honolulu from Bellingham, an airport located between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, Canada. The idea is to prevent Allegiant Airlines (WJE), which already serves eight destinations from Bellingham, from getting a foothold in the Hawaii market, one that’s increasingly key to (ASA)’s fortunes. (WJE) is buying 757s to start Hawaii service later this year. Of course, Air Canada (ACN) and WestJet (WJI) also fly to Honolulu from Vancouver, BC, while (ASA) and Delta Airlines (DAL) have Honolulu non-stops from Seattle. It might not be long before Southwest (SWA) enters the Hawaii market using 737-800s (which start arriving in 2012), although it would probably fly there from California, where it has stronger brand loyalty.
SEE ATTACHED ARTICLE WHICH SHOWS AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) HAD NO 1 RECORD FOR AIRLINE QUALITY - - "CQT-2011-01-NO 1 IN AIRLINE QUALITY."
February 2011: AirTran Airways (CQT) operated 1.37 billion (RPM)s traffic in January, up +0.6% from the year-ago month, on a -3.2% decrease in capacity to 1.83 billion (ASM)s. Load factor rose +2.8 points to 74.8% LF.
(CQT) launched daily, Atlanta - Punta Cana service.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) took two steps toward completing its planned acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT), receiving approval from the USA (FAA) on a plan to merge the two carriers' under a Single Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and reaching agreement with the (SWA) Pilots Association (SWAPA) on "a procedural framework" for eventually integrating the two pilot (FC) work groups. (SWA) said the (SWAPA) board "unanimously agreed" to the accord.
(SWA) said it was informed by the (FAA) that the (FAA) "has accepted (SWA)'s transition plan to combine the operations" following the closure of the transaction, which still must receive approval from the USA Department of Justice and AirTran (CQT) shareholders. (SWA) expects the merger to close in the second quarter.
(SWA) VP Maintenance & Engineering, Brian Hirshman said "We consider this acceptance by the (FAA) as the first major milestone on the journey towards (SOC)," which (SWA) aims to achieve in the 2012 first quarter. The plan accepted by the (FAA) "outlines the methodology, processes, tools and timing to be employed to maintain the safety of [SWA and (CQT)'s] day-to-day operations during the transition period."
(SWA) Chairman, President & CEO, Gary Kelly said that rising fuel prices make (SWA)'s planned acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) "absolutely imperative." Speaking at a hearing held in Milwaukee by the USA Senate's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer protection, Kelly said, "The economies of scale and the revenue synergies presented by this merger are a hedge against higher fuel prices."
Senator Herb Kohl (Democrat - Wisconsin), Chairman of the subcommittee, has said the panel "will carefully examine this proposed merger to determine whether air travelers will continue to see the low fares that they have come to rely on, especially in cities like Milwaukee where (CQT) and (SWA) are key competitors."
But Kelly asserted that neither carrier will be able to grow without the merger, a situation that would ultimately lead to less service for consumers. "High fuel prices have stymied growth in the airline industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," he explained. "The (CQT) acquisition is a strategic hedge to enable a resumption of growth by (SWA). Absent the merger, both carriers will be constrained and even hard-pressed to maintain current capacity levels."
While the USA Congress often holds hearings on pending mergers, it has no formal role in approving the transactions. The (SWA)/(CQT) merger, which the carriers expect to close in the second quarter, still requires USA Department of Justice clearance.
(CQT) hired 16 pilots (FC) in January. (CQT) is not accepting new applications. (CQT) attended the http://www.FltOps.com job fair in Atlanta (ATL).
March 2011: AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch service to Branson from Baltimore (weekly, on May 28), Chicago Midway (four-times-weekly, on May 27) and Houston Hobby (four-times-weekly, on May 26). (CQT) will increase four-times-weekly, Lexington, Kentucky - Orlando service to daily, beginning May 26.
Southwest Airlines (SWA), which expects to close its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) in the first half of the year, noted that seniority integration of the two airlines will take some months, and "probably will" extend into 2012, but that it has no plans to change (CQT)'s network. "We have no plans to close any cities, we have no plans to add any cities," Kelly said, adding that (SWA) is "excited" about the 717 airplane type that (CQT) will bring to the group. "It's a good short-haul airplane," Kelly said. "The bigger question there is, What's the next-generation 717 solution? And we don't have an answer yet."
Kelly revealed that (SWA) has had six fare increases so far this year. “That’s a lot in 90 days,” he said, noting that (SWA) has, at the same time, seen very strong demand and will retain its existing plan to increase capacity +5% to +6% this year, excluding the pending acquisition of AirTran (CQT).
AirTran Holdings announced that its shareholders “overwhelmingly approved” the proposed acquisition of AirTran (CQT) by Southwest Airlines (SWA). More than >98.6% of votes cast and 77.5% of shares outstanding were in favor of the acquisition, (CQT) said.
"We are grateful for our stockholders' strong vote of confidence in this merger," said (CQT)'s Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro. "In approving the transaction, our stockholders recognized the value of bringing together (CQT) and (SWA) to create a platform for increased profitability and sustainable long-term value."
(SWA) Chairman, CEO & President, Gary Kelly called the approval, "another important and exciting step toward completing the transaction and beginning the integration of (CQT) into (SWA) to ultimately serve the flying public as one carrier."
The deal remains under review by the USA Department of Justice and is expected to close in the second quarter.
(CQT) said that Executive VP Corporate Affairs, Stephen J Kolski, 70, will retire April 29. Kolski has been with (CQT) since 1999. Kolski began his airline career in 1966 with National Airlines and also held executive positions at New York Air, Eastern Air Lines (EAL) and Continental Airlines (CAL) prior to joining AirTran (CQT).
April 2011: Southwest Airlines (SWA) earned +$5 million in the first quarter, a -54.5% decline compared to +$11 million earned in the year-ago period, but a solid showing in view of rapidly rising fuel costs and tough winter weather.
(SWA) also announced it expects to close its purchase of AirTran Airways (CQT) on May 2 at which point (SWA) Executive VP Strategy & Planning, Bob Jordan will become president of (CQT), succeeding President & CEO, Bob Fornaro who will continue in a consulting role. Jordan also will retain his responsibilities at (SWA). The deal is still awaiting clearance from the USA Department of Justice (DOJ).
"While escalating jet fuel prices and inclement weather challenged our first-quarter profitability, our people prevailed," said Chairman, President & CEO, Gary Kelly. (SWA) noted that both periods' results included special items related to fuel hedges, while first-quarter 2011 results are net of around $9 million in charges related to consulting fees in connection with the acquisition of (CQT). Excluding special items from both periods, net income for the 2011 quarter was +$20 million compared to +$24 million last year.
Operating revenues rose +18% to $3.1 billion, propelled by "record monthly load factors, combined with solid passenger revenue yields," Kelly said. Operating expenses climbed +16% to $2.99 billion, driven mainly by a +26.4% rise in fuel expense to $1.04 billion. Operating income more than doubled to $114 million from $54 million last year, but was up +7.8% to $110 million, excluding special items.
(SWA) flew 19.2 billion (RPM)s traffic in the quarter, up +11.9%, on a +8.3% rise in capacity to 24.5 billion (ASM)s. Load factor was 78.3% LF, up +2.4 points year-to-year. Yield rose +5.3% to 15.31 cents per (RPM), while the higher load factor pushed up (RASM) +8.9% to 12.66 cents. Cost per (ASM) climbed +7.1% to 12.2 cents. (CASM) ex-fuel and special items, rose +1.9% to 7.91 cents.
(SWA) ended the first quarter with 550 active 737s in the fleet, according to Senior VP Finance & CFO, Laura Wright. (SWA) recently acquired an additional 737 delivery slot from Boeing (TBC), which in addition to two previously reported leased airplanes, will bring 2011 deliveries to 20. Commenting on the outlook for the second quarter, Kelly said bookings look strong. Capacity will be up an estimated +6% and +5% to +6% for the year.
AirTran Airways (CQT) launched twice-daily, Tampa - San Juan service.
(CQT) says some of its 8,000 workers - - particularly those in Finance and Information Technology (IT) - - are leaving ahead of a planned merger with Southwest Airlines (SWA). (SWA) has "every intent" of offering jobs to all (CQT) employees, though some relocations may be necessary. In an effort to prevent defections, (CQT)n has set aside $10.2 million for retention bonuses.
(CQT) announced its flights attendants (CA), represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will take effect May 1. (CQT) said that 96% of its 2,200 voting members approved the agreement, which provides for “increased compensation, improved benefits and preservation of key service and reliability functions.”
May 2011: Southwest Airlines (SWA) completed its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT), a move that combines the world's largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC) with the third largest (LCC) in North America and further accelerates the USA industry's consolidation. The deal gained USA Department of Justice approval at the end of last month.
"The acquisition of (CQT) represents a unique opportunity to extend our network into key markets we don't yet serve, such as Atlanta and [Washington National]," (SWA) Chairman, CEO & President, Gary Kelly said in a statement. "It gives us the opportunity to serve more than >100 million customers annually from more than >100 different airports in the USA and near-international destinations, providing customers more low-fare destinations, as we diversify and expand the well-known 'Southwest Effect' to hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public."
(SWA) valued the deal at around $1 billion in aggregate (below the $1.4 billion originally estimated), or approximately $7.57 per share of (CQT) common stock. Each (CQT) shareholder will receive $3.75 in cash, with (SWA)'s cash outlay totaling $518 million, and 0.321 shares of (SWA) common stock, or 44 million shares in total. Including (SWA)'s assumption of (CQT)'s debt, the transaction is valued at $3.2 billion. (SWA) estimates net annual synergies from the acquisition of (CQT) will exceed $400 million by 2013. One-time costs associated with the acquisition and integration are pegged at $500 million by (SWA).
The two carriers generated $14.7 billion in combined revenue in 2010. As of March 31, (SWA)/(CQT)'s combined unrestricted cash and short-term investments stood at approximately $5 billion. (SWA) said its funding for the transaction came from cash on hand. "In addition, (SWA) has a fully available, unsecured revolving credit facility of $800 million," it noted.
Kelly said, "(SWA)'s profitability and financial strength, along with the USA's largest low fare network, puts (CQT) crew members in a position to be part of a growing company again, once (CQT) is integrated into (SWA)."
(SWA) Executive VP Strategy & Planning, Bob Jordan was named (CQT) President, effective immediately. (CQT) Chairman, President & CEO, Bob Fornaro "will move to a new key role today as a full-time consultant for the integration of the two airlines, working closely with Kelly and Jordan to ensure a smooth transition," (SWA) said in a statement. It noted that (SWA)'s headquarters will remain in Dallas, "with plans for (CQT)'s operations and presence in both Orlando and Atlanta still under review."
A joint "Integration Board" that will oversee the (CQT)/(SWA)'s combination is comprised of Jordan, Kelly, (SWA) Executive VP & COO, Mike Van de Ven, (CQT) Senior VP Human Resources (HR) & Administration, Loral Blinde, and (SWA) Senior VP Administration & Chief People Officer, Jeff Lamb. "Until a single operating certificate is secured, (CQT) operational departments will continue operating under the (CQT) air operating certificate (AOC) with the full authority of its operating teams led by Klaus Goersch, (CQT)'s Executive VP Operations & Customer Service," (SWA) stated. "Goersch will report directly to Jordan, and will work closely with Mike Van de Ven.
In addition, (SWA) VP Maintenance & Engineering, Brian Hirshman was promoted to Senior VP Technical Operations from June 1. Kirk Thornburg, AirTran (CQT)'s VP Maintenance & Engineering will move to (SWA) as VP Technical Services, reporting to Hirshman.
(SWA) aims to receive a single air operating certificate (AOC) from the (FAA) by the 2012 first quarter. It said it "estimates it will take several years to fully transition (CQT) into (SWA) to become one airline."
Southwest Airlines (SWA) intends to strengthen its presence in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and expand East-West coast routes with its acquisition of AirTran Holdings, new AirTran (CQT) President, Bob Jordan said. "Our intent is to grow Atlanta, get more passengers and more dots on the map," he explained.
AirTran Airways (CQT) launched daily, Atlanta - Bermuda service.
June 2011: AirTran (CQT) will add two daily roundtrips on its Milwaukee service to Des Moines and Akron Canton on September 6.
The USA (FAA) is proposing a $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran (CQT) Airways for allegedly operating a 737 on four passenger flights without properly repairing or testing an angle-of-attack sensor on the airplane, which warns if there is a potential loss of lift, after it was struck by lightning during a flight March 20, 2009. The (FAA) also alleges (CQT) “misused the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) when it decided to defer the repair and continued to operate the airplane.” AirTran (CQT), a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines (SWA), has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).
July 2011: Southwest Airlines (SWA), the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) union representing (SWA) pilots (FC) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representing AirTran Airways (CQT)'s flight crew (FC) said that an "agreement in principle" was reached to integrate the two pilot (FC) groups' seniority lists.
"The unions and company negotiating teams have accomplished a task that is rare in this industry, developing an integrated seniority list and transition plan for our pilots (FC) outside of arbitration," (SWA) Executive VP & COO, Mike Van de Ven stated. (SWA) had already reached agreement with (SWAPA) on "a procedural framework" for eventually integrating the two pilot (FC) work groups.
The pilot (FC) seniority list integration is "subject to the respective unions' board approval and membership ratification," (SWA) noted.
(SWA) completed its acquisition of AirTran (CQT) in May, combining the world's largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC) with the third largest (LCC) in North America. The two carriers generated $14.7 billion in combined revenue in 2010. As of March 31, (SWA)/(CQT)'s combined unrestricted cash and short-term investments stood at approximately $5 billion. (SWA)/(CQT) aims to receive a single air operating certificate (AOC) from the (FAA) by the 2012 first quarter. It has said "it will take several years to fully transition (CQT) into (SWA) to become one airline."
August 2011: Airtran Airways (CQT) will launch twice-weekly, Baltimore - Aruba service on December 17. (CQT) will cease operations at Asheville, North Carolina; Atlantic City International and Moline, Illinois on January 6; and Williamsburg, Virginia on March 9.
September 2011: Southwest Airlines (SWA) appointed J Veronica Biggins to its board of directors. Biggins was a member of the board of directors for AirTran (CQT) Holdings, which was acquired by (SWA) in a deal completed in May.
(SWA) announced several executive changes. Current Executive VP Strategy & Planning, Bob Jordan has been promoted to Executive VP & CCO and will maintain his role as President of AirTran Airways (CQT). Jeff Lamb, currently Senior VP Administration & Chief People Officer has been promoted to Executive VP & Chief People & Administrative Officer. Previously VP Customer Support & Services, Ellen Torbert has been promoted to VP Diversity & Inclusion.
(SWA) announced that (SWA) and AirTran (CQT) pilots (FC) have reached a tentative agreement on seniority. (SWA) finalized closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings on May 2. The two groups reached an "agreement in principle" in July.
(SWA) pilots (FC) belong to the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA); AirTran (CQT) pilots are members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Members of each pilot union will review the proposed agreement and put it to a ratification vote.
(SWA) said that reaching a negotiated agreement with the two pilot (FC) groups “avoids the arbitration process and gives both groups ownership of the combined list.” Each pilot (FC) group will now review the tentative agreement before putting it up for a ratification vote. (SWAPA) represents more than >6,000 (SWA) pilots (FC) and (ALPA) represents close to 1,600 AirTran (CQT) pilots (FC).
October 2011: Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported the combined September traffic results for (SWA) and its subsidiary, AirTran (CQT), which indicates the company’s revenue passenger miles from 2010 to 2011 increased by +6.4%, a combined 7.5 billion.
Available seat miles (ASMs) increased +3.2% to 10.2 billion from the September 2011 combined level of 9.9 billion. The load factor for September 2011 was 77.8%, compared to the combined load factor of 75.5% LF in 2010.
For the first nine months of 2011, the company flew 78.7 billion combined revenue flights, compared to 72.9 billion combined revenue flights flown for the same period in 2010, an increase of 8.0%.
Owing to $227 million in unrealized, non-cash fuel hedging mark-downs, (SWA) incurred a third-quarter net loss of -$140 million, reversed from a +$205 million profit in the year-ago period. But (SWA) touted a strong revenue performance and pointed out that, excluding special items, third-quarter net income was +$122 million.
That was still down -37.4% from +$195 million in net income on a similar basis in the 2010 third quarter. (SWA) noted that fuel market prices have rebounded since the September 30 end of the quarter "and our future fuel hedge portfolio has gained back over $300 million in fair value."
Chairman, President & CEO, Gary Kelly told analysts and reporters that (SWA)'s "business is quite good" and "the revenue environment continues to be strong and stable." He reiterated that (SWA) and AirTran Airways (CQT), which (SWA) acquired in May, plan to begin integrating next year, contingent on the USA (FAA) issuing a single air operating certificate (AOC) and resolving labor issues.
"The AirTran (CQT) business has been very solid," Kelly said, pointing out that (CQT) performed better than (SWA) in the third quarter on a unit revenue basis.
He said fuel prices are the biggest drag on earnings. "The challenges to earnings are cost-related, especially fuel costs. Were it not for that, our earnings would have been outstanding," Kelly explained. "We saw no weakening in overall demand [in the third quarter]. And perhaps more importantly, we saw no softening in business travel."
Third-quarter revenue (including both (SWA) and (CQT)) totaled $4.31 billion, up +11.7% from pro forma (SWA)/(CQT) revenue in the prior-year period. Expenses jumped +18.5% to $4.09 billion, including a +40.1% surge in fuel costs to $1.59 billion. Operating income was +$225 million, down -45.5% from pro forma operating income of +$413 million in the 2010 third quarter.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will deploy a system from Varolii Corporation, of Seattle, to streamline its process for matching pilot (FC) availability with flight needs through an interaction platform sending text messages to pilots (FC) about flight scheduling opportunities.
Using Varolii’s Softward-as-a-Service (SaaS) system, (SWA)’s Open Time Alerts (OTA) helps (SWA) quickly staff unassigned flights, ensure on-time flight operations and reduce costs from a less efficient, manual process, according to Varolii. In cases of illness or other circumstances that prevent a pilot (FC) from attending their scheduled flights, airlines are left with "open time," or an uncovered shift, that must quickly be reassigned.
With the Varolii Interact platform, (SWA)'s (OTA) solution provides pilots (SMS) with an opt-in program that delivers Short Message Service (SMS) text messages directly to their mobile devices to alert them of open flights and give them the real-time opportunity to opt-in to staff specific flights. Each message includes detailed flight information, including the length of the assignment, overnight accommodations, if necessary, flight time and more.
(SWA) has reportedly warned AirTran Airways (CQT)'s 1,600 pilots (FC) that voting against ratification of a tentative agreement to combine the merging airlines' pilot (FC) seniority lists could force a reevaluation of (SWA)'s merger strategy.
The "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reported that (SWA) issued the warning to Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) leaders representing (CQT) pilots (FC), and the pilots (FC) have in turn been briefed. Voting by pilots (FC) from both airlines on the tentative accord reached last month is slated to continue through early November.
According to the newspaper, (SWA) told (ALPA) that a negative vote on pilot (FC) seniority integration would force (SWA) to turn to a "Plan B" for merging with (CQT) that could see (CQT) remaining as a separately-operated subsidiary. Such a scenario could possibly give (CQT) pilots (FC) less job security.
While not commenting specifically on the warning to the union, (SWA) told "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" it would have to "reset" its integration plans if (CQT) pilots (FC) don't ratify the seniority list agreement.
An April 2011 agreement on "a procedural framework" for integration of the seniority lists, reached before (SWA) closed its acquisition of (CQT), called for "the matter [to] be sent to arbitration" if no resolution could be negotiated and ratified. (SWA) could still move in that direction if the seniority list integration deal is rejected by (CQT) pilots (FC).
November 2011: Airtran Airways (CQT) will launch 2X-daily, Fort Lauderdale - San Juan service on May 24, and on June 3 will launch service from Denver to Akron (daily), Dayton (daily) and New York LaGuardia (2X-daily), service from Baltimore to Los Angeles (2X-daily), New Orleans (daily), Seattle (2X-daily), and San Francisco (daily).
(CQT) will cease its service to the following airports beginning June 2012: Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Miami International (MIA), Central Illinois Regional Airport/Bloomington/Normal, Illinois (BMI), Yeager Airport (CRW), and Dulles International (IAD).
December 2011: AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch daily, Orange County service to Cabo and Mexico City, as well as San Antonio service to Cancun (4X-weekly) and Mexico City (daily), "as early as May 24, 2012." (CQT) will also launch daily service to Orange County from San Francisco and Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) ordered 208 new 737 airplanes with a value of nearly $19 billion. (SWA) placed a firm order for 150 of the 737 Max, a new version of Boeing (TBC)'s most popular airplane with more fuel-efficient (CFM) International (Leap-1B) engines. The (CFMI) order value is $4.7 billion at list prices. (SWA) also ordered 58 Next-Generation 737s.
This order makes (SWA) the 737 MAX launch customer. The 737 MAX first delivery will be in 2017.
Boeing (TBC) said this represented its largest-ever firm order (both in terms of units and value) and provided a major boost to the 737 Max program. Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & (CEO), Jim Albaugh said that (SWA) Executive VP & (COO), Mike Van de Ven negotiated long and hard and he got (SWA) a very good deal. Mike Van de Ven said the 737 Max is "tailor-made" for (SWA)'s network, and insisted (SWA) didn't choose Boeing simply for leagy reasons. (SWA) is the world's largest 737 operator with a fleet of 559 and was the launch customer for the 737-300, the 737-500 and the 737-700 versions. He continued "We did do comparisons between the 737 Max and the A320neo" and emphasized that the 737 Max came out as a clear winner for (SWA)'s needs. He added "Overall, we expect the superior economics of our fleet modernization plan to meet our 15% pretax return requirement and provide substantial flexibility to manage our growth in a variety of economic conditions over the next decade."
(SWA) said the 737 Max will reduce fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions "by an additional 10% to 11% over today's most fuel efficient single aisle airplane." (SWA) claimed the 737 Max will have a "7% advantage over its competition."
(SWA) has bought more 737s than any other airline. (TBC) says (SWA), which flies more USA passengers than any other carrier, is the first customer to complete an order for the 737 Max. Including this order, Boeing (TBC) now has orders or commitments from 13 customers for more than >948 of the new model.
Last month, Lion Air (MLI) committed to pay $21.7 billion for 230 737s. (MLI) also has options for 150 more planes, valued at $14 billion, bringing the deal's total potential value to $35 billion. But the Lion Air (MLI) deal is not a certainty; it still has to complete the order. In other words, until now, all customer agreements have only been regarded as "commitments" rather than "firm orders." Also in November, Emirates Airline (EAD) ordered $18 billion worth of 777s.
Both deals came shortly after Boeing (TBC) finally began delivering its two newest planes, the next-generation 787 and the latest version of the iconic 747.
Boeing (TBC) produces about one 737 every day in Renton, Washington. It is raising that to 42 per month in 2014. Boeing (TBC) shares rose 66 cents to $71.56 in premarket trading.
SEE ATTACHED "DOMINIC GATES SEATTLE TIMES" ARTICLE - - "CQT-2011-12 - 737 MAX - A/B."
January 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported 2011 net income of +$178 million, down -61.2% from a net profit of +$459 million in 2010. (SWA) attributed the profit decline to "significantly higher fuel prices," but noted that its revenue performance was strong and 2011 marked its 39th year of profitability in a row.
"We had an outstanding revenue performance," Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said. "Our fourth-quarter operating revenues were a record $4.1 billion. Fourth-quarter passenger revenues were strong, driven by record yields and continued high load factors. Based on current traffic and booking trends, we expect another strong passenger revenue performance in first quarter of 2012."
(SWA) posted a +12.7% year-over-year revenue increase in 2011 (on a combined pro forma basis that includes AirTran Airways (CQT)'s 2010 results) to $16.6 billion. Expenses heightened +17.3% to $15.93 billion driven by a +35% leap in fuel costs to $6.01 billion. Pro forma 2011 operating income was +$662 million, down -41.9%.
Kelly said that (SWA) had "very strong revenue growth, but not quite enough to completely offset" high fuel costs and avoid a profit dip last year. Traffic in 2011 increased +2.4% year-over-year on a pro forma basis to 110.15 billion (RPM)s on a +3.3% rise in capacity to 135.27 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 80.8% LF, up +1.1 points. Passenger yield heightened +6.4% to 14.97 cents. "We have no plans to grow the fleet in 2012," Kelly said. "Our network plans in that respect are conservative and are aimed at boosting unit revenue." (SWA)/(CQT) combined capacity in 2012 will be flat compared to 2011, he said. (SWA) will take delivery of its first two 737-800s in March. It will receive 33 737-800s by the end of this year, but will also retire 40 older 737s in 2012.
(SWA) acquired AirTran (CQT) last year. Kelly indicated the (FAA) is likely to grant the carriers a single air operating certificate (AOC) in March. "At that point, the visible transformation of AirTran (CQT) can begin," he said, noting there will be "big schedule changes occurring within" (CQT)'s network throughout the year. The airlines have already co-located facilities at 22 airports and consolidated their maintenance operations in Orlando and Baltimore.
(SWA) will operate daily seasonal Fort Myers, Florida service to Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island, and daily, Baltimore - Tucson service on February 12 - April 9. (SWA) will launch daily, Atlanta - Los Angeles service on June 10.
(SWA) said it will continue to operate to 22 airports now served by AirTran Airways (CQT), while over time converting flights to/from those destinations to the (SWA) brand. However, it will cease services to six airports in (CQT)'s network after August 12.
(SWA), said that it expects the (FAA) to grant the carriers a single air operating certificate (AOC) by the end of March. Effective August 12, (CQT) will cease serving Allentown, Pennsylvania (ABE), Lexington, Kentucky (LEX), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (MDT), Sarasota, Florida (SRQ), Huntsville, Alaba (HSV), and White Plains, New York (HPN).
All told (taking into account cities jointly served by the carriers), (SWA) plans to fly to 53 of the 69 airports to which (CQT) operated when it was acquired by (SWA) in May 2011.
The (CQT) airports that will eventually join (SWA)'s network include Washington National (DCA), Memphis (MEM), Montego Bay (MBJ), Aruba (AUA), San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU), Bermuda (BDA), Flint, Michigan (FNT), Rochester, New York (ROC), Pensacola, Florida (PNS), Charlotte (CLT), Dayton, Ohio (DAY), Richmond, Virginia (RIC), Key West, Florida (EYW), Akron-Canton, Ohio (CAK), Wichita, Kansas (ICT), Des Moines, Iowa (DSM), Branson, Missouri (BKG), Portland, Maine (PWM), Grand Rapids, Michigan (GRR), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ), Cancun (CUN) and Nassau, Bahamas (NAS). "(CQT) service and employees at these airports are planned to convert to (SWA) gradually over the course of (CQT)'s integration into (SWA)."
Meanwhile, (CQT) will begin serving Mexico City (MEX) May 24 and San Jose Cabo (SJD) June 3; those destinations will also convert to (SWA) eventually.
(SWA) said Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) will become the first airport now served by both carriers to convert to full SWA services; from August 12, 41 daily flights branded as (SWA) will fly to/from (SEA). The transition there won't be overly difficult because (CQT) currently serves the market with one daily flight from (SEA) to Milwaukee (MKE) and seasonal service to both Atlanta (ATL) and Baltimore (BWI).
In addition, both carriers will add new flights from August 12. (SWA) will fly thrice daily from (ATL) to both Norfolk, Virginia (ORF) and Louisville (SDF), as well as twice daily between New York LaGuardia (LGA) and St Louis (STL), and twice daily between (STL) and San Antonio (SAT). (CQT) will launch two daily flights between (CAK) and Chicago Midway (MDW) from August 12.
Full-year 2012 capacity for (SWA) and (CQT) will be flat year-over-year because the incoming airplanes will be larger than the retiring planes (total trips will be down 3 to 4%).
Kelly conceded that the company is following a “conservative” fleet strategy that eschews growth in favor of boosting unit revenue. But he described the current economy as “a very good environment. The macro-[economic] environment feels better now [compared to mid-year 2011], much more stable, much more consistent.”
Nevertheless, growing capacity continues to be verboten for (SWA) and most other USA airlines. If you can’t grow capacity following a year in which (PRASM) increased +8.2%, overall revenue lifted +12.7% and your cross-town rival (and competitor on numerous routes) is occupied with Chapter 11 reorganization, when can you? Kelly’s response is that high fuel costs (up +35% year-over-year in 2011) have driven up expenses and prevented (SWA) from reaching its profit targets. Absent hitting and exceeding profit targets, (SWA) doesn’t grow capacity. Period.
For much of its history, of course, (SWA) did hit profit targets and grew capacity at a fairly steady pace. Not so in recent years (though, of course, acquiring (CQT) does increase the company’s size, but neither (SWA) nor (CQT) is growing capacity (ASM)s).
(SWA)’s discipline has always been one of its hallmarks; even if profits were down last year, earning positive net income for 39 straight years in the USA air transport market is quite an achievement, one that likely wouldn’t have been accomplished without sticking religiously to the credo that revenue must outpace costs, a simple business philosophy that has often been ignored by USA airlines.
The rest of the USA industry, however, appears to have also finally accepted that basic supply/demand operating strategy over the last couple of years. (SWA)’s opening salvo in USA carriers’ 2011 earnings reporting season likely previews a trend: USA airlines are making money, the economic environment is showing noticeable signs of improvement, BUT the industry won’t actually grow again until it is near-certain that the growth will pay off on the balance sheet.
Cabin attendants (CA) from (SWA), represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), and AirTran Airways (CQT), represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) voted to ratify their seniority integration agreement. The tentative agreement, reached late last year, integrates the two groups' seniority lists.
(SWA) finalized closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings, on May 2, 2011.
The (TWU) represents approximately 9,800 (SWA) cabin attendants (CA), and the (AFA) represents close to 2,400 (CQT) cabin attendants (CA).
(SWA) and (CQT) pilots (FC) completed the seniority integration negotiation process late last year. Mechanics (MT) from both airlines are reviewing their tentative seniority integration agreement and will vote in the next several weeks.
AirTran (CQT) is not accepting new flight crew (FC) applications. Southwest Airlines (SWA) has completed the purchase of (CQT). (SWA) plans to hire around 140 Flight Crew (FC) pilots for first quarter classes for 2012. Recruitment is conducting interviews in January. (SWA) and AirTran (CQT) pilots (FC) have agreed to a seniority list integration. See FltOps.com and FAPA.aero.
February 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) and AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch non-stop flights on five new routes from 12 August. (SWA) will begin thrice daily flights between Atlanta and Norfolk and thrice daily flights between Atlanta and Louisville. It will also launch twice daily flights between New York LaGuardia and St Louis and twice daily flights between San Antonio and St Louis. (SWA) will launch daily, Detroit - Las Vegas service on September 30.
In addition, (CQT) will start twice daily flights between Akron - Canton, Ohio, and Chicago Midway. (CQT) will be the only carrier operating between Akron - Canton and Chicago Midway. (CQT) will launch Denver - Cancun service April 16 - September 28, as well as Austin - Cancun May 25 - September 28. It will also launch Houston - San Antonio May 24 and Houston - Austin May 25.
(SWA) launched five new routes on 12 February, in addition to taking over frequencies on routes already operated by its subsidiary, AirTran (CQT) on the same day. From the (CQT) base in Atlanta (ATL), (SWA) now operates the new twice-daily route to Austin (AUS) in competition with Delta (DAL)’s 39 flights a week. From Georgia’s capital (ATL), it also serves Baltimore/Washington (BWI) thrice-daily in competition with (DAL)’s 68 and subsidiary, (CQT)’s 26 weekly flights, Chicago Midway (DEN) also thrice-daily, competing with the same two airlines that operate 46 and 23 weekly flights, respectively, and Houston Hobby (HOU) twice-daily, which faces (DAL)’s 49 and (CQT)’s 20 flights a week. One further (ATL) route was launched in competition with an entire four other airlines; Denver (DEN) is served twice-daily and competes with (DAL)’s 50, United (UAL)’s 18, Frontier (FRO)’s 16 and (CQT)’s 14 flights a week. From Baltimore/Washington, (SWA) now also flies daily to Tucson (TUC). Three of (SWA)’s new routes were launched out of (CQT)’s Fort Myers (RSW) base; each daily to colder climates in Hartford (BDL), Providence, Rhide Island (PVD), and Long Island/Islip (ISP). All of the routes are operated with (SWA)’s 737-700s.
(SWA) will compete against Delta Air Lines (DAL) on Atlanta - Norfolk, Atlanta - Louisville and New York LaGuardia - St Louis. Vision Airlines (VIS) also operates between Atlanta and Louisville, and American Airlines (AAL) flies between New York LaGuardia and St Louis.
(SWA) currently operates one-stop service on New York LaGuardia - St Louis and San Antonio - St Louis. No airline currently flies non-stop between San Antonio and St Louis.
(SWA) smooth path to integrating with AirTran Airways (CQT), which it acquired last year, hit some turbulence with its latest rejection by (SWA)'s 1,600 mechanics (MT) of a seniority integration agreement.
The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) Local 11 had reached an accord with (SWA) and (CQT)'s 400 mechanics (MT), but the members have voted to reject it, taking a different track from flight attendants (CA) and pilots (FC) who have approved integration pacts.
"Our goal continues to be the speedy resolution of seniority integration," (SWA) VP Maintenance Operations, Jim Sokol said. (SWA) said the next step was to file for arbitration, but added that it remained open to working toward a negotiated solution.
March 2012: The (FAA) has granted Southwest Airlines (SWA) and AirTran Airways (CQT) a single air operating certificate (AOC), formally combining the world's largest low-cost carrier (LCC) with the third largest (LCC) in North America.
Although (CQT) and (SWA) are now both operating under a single (AOC), the two airlines have not yet been able to merge their reservations systems. Therefore, as far as its customers are concerned, (SWA) launched two new daily flights from Atlanta (ATL) to Las Vegas (LAS) and Phoenix (PHX). (CQT) will also continue to serve both routes as well. Further competition is provided by Delta (DAL), which offers multiple daily flights to both Las Vegas and Phoenix, and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) which operates up to four flights per day on the Phoenix route.
(SWA) acquired (CQT) last year in a deal valued at around $1 billion in aggregate (below the $1.4 billion originally estimated), or approximately $7.57 per share of (CQT) common stock. Including (SWA)'s assumption of (CQT)'s debt, the transaction was valued at $3.2 billion. (SWA) estimates net annual synergies will exceed >$400 million by 2013.
"We cannot overstate the significance of having received our single (AOC) (it is a monumental step in the regulatory process) and achieving it enables us to move forward with the integration of the two airlines into a single carrier," (SWA) (COO), Mike Van de Ven said.
(SWA)/(CQT) cautioned that "the transition to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process that will take several years to complete." Van de Ven said that "most employees and customers will see little or no immediate difference in the two airlines' flight operations." (SWA) has ruled out capacity growth this year.
Facing its first quarterly loss in three years, (SWA) is developing a new cost reduction strategy aimed at recapturing its historical advantage over a set of rivals that have reduced costs under bankruptcy protection over the last decade. "We're coming up with the tools right now," Bob Montgomery, VP Airport Affairs said.
The details of the strategy have not yet been revealed outside (SWA). "We haven't made those things public yet," Montgomery says. But it is clear a key element of the strategy if focused on compensating somehow for (SWA)'s rising labor costs in comparison to legacy carriers. Montgomery noted how (SWA)'s culture was based on having the lowest cost structure, especially on labor rates.
"Due to all the bankruptcies of all the other carriers, we got what we call the 'Aunt Jemima' treatment," Montgomery explains, invoking a USA brand name for pancake syrup. "You've been flipped. It's a constant thing we're talking to our unions about. It's antithetical to our culture to have the highest cost. We don't want to disrupt that culture. [But] we're going to have to grapple with the cost."
(SWA) warned earlier this month that it would post a first quarter loss. The carrier's management blamed the loss on a sharp spike in jet fuel prices during the first two months of the year. "The real story is fuel. Our fuel bill was +$250 million more than the first quarter of last year," Montgomery says. "Last year we made +$20 million in the first quarter. It's kind of hard to sustain your profitability when fuel cost are up by +$250 million. We have had some gains in revenue, but it has not been sufficient to stave off the fuel costs."
Montgomery's remarks show that (SWA) has acted upon a warning issued to employees in December by (CEO), Gary Kelly. "The sloth-like industry you remember competing against is now officially dead and buried," Kelly wrote. "Now, the enemy is our own cost creep, our own legacy-like productivity, and our own inefficiencies. Fighting this cost enemy is an imperative to remain the Maverick. We will fight, and we will remain the Maverick."
(SWA) is currently negotiating contracts with three labor groups (appearance technicians, dispatchers, and ramp, operations and provisioning and freight agents). Three more contracts with pilots (FC), mechanics (MT) and customer support and service representative and agents become amendable later this year.
"No doubt our labor cost structure will be a central theme throughout the year." However, Montgomery's references to specific tools applies to broader issues than labor costs, (SWA) said.
"Battling costs is an everyday occurrence in the airline industry, whether it's airport costs, fuel, labor, vendor contracts, etc.," (SWA) said.
(SWA) filed an application with the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) for slots at Washington National (DCA), attempting to take advantage of the recently passed (FAA) reauthorization legislation's approval of new flights beyond (DCA)'s 1,250 mile perimeter.
(SWA), which has long had a dominant presence at Baltimore/Washington (BWI) but no presence at (DCA), said it would operate daily flights from (DCA) to Austin Bergstrom (AUS) and one-stop, same airplane service from (DCA) to San Diego (SAN) via (AUS). (SWA) did gain access to (DCA) through its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) and has stated its plans to convert (CQT) operations at the airport to (SWA)-branded flying. (SWA) also operates out of Washington Dulles (IAD).
(SWA) said it would operate the (DCA) - (AUS) - (SAN) flights with a 175-seat 737-800. (SWA) expects a decision from the (DOT) in May, and said it is ready to start the service this summer.
(SWA) has announced plans to turn Houston William P Hobby (HOU) into one of its gateways for international services to the Caribbean, Mexico and other destinations in Central America. The airport currently does not have an immigration and customs facility and is only used for domestic services within the United States. (SWA)'s talks with the airport have already triggered public criticism by competitor United Airlines (UAL) which states that Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), its hub in the city, had been intentionally designed as Houston's only international airport. (SWA) is reportedly in talks with Delta Air Lines (DAL) about a possible deal to transfer the 717-200 fleet of subsidiary it has inherited from the acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) to (DAL).
(SWA) seems to have emerged as the winner of a battle over traffic rights for scheduled services between Chicago and Cancún International airport (CUN) that have become available as a result of the suspension of all services by Apple Vacations subsidiary USA3000 Airlines (USX) earlier this year. (SWA) subsidiary, AirTran Airways (CQT) and Frontier Airlines (FRO) had both applied for the traffic rights for the route where only three USA carriers are allowed to operate according to the bilateral agreement between the USA and Mexico. The route has been awarded to AirTran (CQT) now by the Department of Transportation. (FRO) had planned to operate on the route for Apple Vacations as it does now on many other routes between the USA and Mexico but to sell some seats directly to the public requiring traffic rights to do so.
Gogo said its air-to-ground in-flight connectivity system achieved a program milestone, the installation of its 1,500th commercial airplane. For the year to date, the company has installed Gogo on more than >140 airplanes.
"This is a big milestone for Gogo and it's obviously big for passengers who want to stay connected at 30,000 feet," said Michael Small, Gogo's President & (CEO). "Since 2008, we've worked to get Gogo up and running on nine of our airline partners, which represent approximately 87% of Internet-enabled North American commercial airplanes."
Gogo can now be found on nine major airlines including on all domestic AirTran (CQT), Virgin America (VUS) and nearly all Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) flights. Gogo is also currently installed on more than >300 American Airlines (AAL) airplanes and on select US Airways (AMW)/(USA), Frontier Airlines (FRO), Air Canada (ACN) and United Airlines (UAL) flights. US Airways (AMW)/(USA) recently announced plans to expand Gogo service across the A320 (A319, A320 and A321) family and Embraer EMB 190 fleet. With this expansion, US Airways (AMW)/(USA) will have 90% of its mainline domestic fleet equipped with Wi-Fi Internet access, Gogo said.
(SWA) took delivery of its first 737-800; it plans to receive 33 737-800s by the end of the year. The airplane, which took its first flight on February 23, will begin service for (SWA) April 11 on Flight #1717 from Chicago Midway to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“Our 737-800 adventure starts small, with just two airplanes overnighting at Chicago Midway and Baltimore/Washington and flying to and from Florida. The -800 fleet will grow gradually,” the spokesperson said. It will take delivery of two more on April 22, two more on May 13, “and by the August schedule, we’ll have more than >20 737-800s flying longer-haul routes like between Chicago Midway and the West Coast, between Baltimore/Washington and California, and between Florida and Las Vegas.”
Prior to entering service, the first 737-800 will go to Paine Field in Everett, Washington for “make ready” and installation of its Wi-Fi hotspot. It will then visit Dallas, Texas where it will undergo standard tests and evaluations performed by the (FAA) before entering revenue service.
April 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA), which had warned of a first-quarter loss, posted net income of +$98 million for the period, improved over a +$5 million net profit in the 2011 March quarter.
However, (SWA) conceded that the net result benefited from $116 million in favorable special items and that it incurred a -$18 million net loss for the three months excluding special items, reversed from +$20 million in net income on a similar basis in the prior-year period. (SWA) Senior VP Finance & (CFO), Laura Wright last month had projected a first-quarter deficit for (SWA).
The world's leading low-cost carriers (LCC)s enjoyed double-digit revenue growth in 2011 and collective passenger numbers rose nearly +12%. The latest "Airline Business" low-cost carrier (LCC) survey showed revenues grew strong at virtually all of the more than >30 carriers 2011 financial results were available for.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) remains the largest budget operator by revenue and passenger numbers. Its revenues jumped nearly +30% to $15.7 billion when accounting for its 2011 acquisition of fellow low-cost carrier (LCC) AirTran (CQT). Excluding the merger, its revenues were up +6%. Passenger numbers reached 135 million.
Ryanair (RYR), using an annual figure based on revenues in its four published quarters for the calendar year, was the second largest no-frills operators by revenues at just under <$6 billion.
(RYR) was also among the most profitable of low-cost carrier (LCC) operators. It posted net profits of +$496 million to March 2011 and has been targeting net profits of +$630 million for its financial year just ended.
Passenger numbers across 75 low-cost carriers (LCC)s in the survey grew +11.6% in 2011.
On a separate front, (SWA) and Amadeus Information Technology (IT) Group announced a contract for Amadeus’ Altea reservations solution, which would support international service. “Now that the contract is finalized, the two companies will work closely together to implement Amadeus' technology to allow Southwest (SWA) to operate international flights in 2014,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Speaking to reporters and analysts, Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said (SWA) sees a “significant opportunity to operate international service out of Houston Hobby” (HOU). He added that (SWA)is going through the regulatory process to begin international flights from (HOU) starting in 2015, and is also in close contact with (HOU) and the Houston city government about the plans.
The contract also allows (SWA) to convert its domestic business to Amadeus in the future. (SWA) is now operating limited international flights owing to its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT), but the contract with Amadeus allows for more large-scale, (SWA)-branded international flying.
On a combined, pro-forma basis (including AirTran (CQT)’s results), (SWA) generated +$3.99 billion in first-quarter revenue, up +5.9% year-over-year. Expenses increased +7.7% to $3.97 billion, including a +16.7% rise in fuel costs to $1.51 billion. Operating income was +$22 million, down -74.1% from pro-forma operating income of +$85 million in the 2011 first quarter.
“The decline in operating income was driven by a +$478 million increase in our first quarter economic fuel costs compared to first quarter last year,” Kelly said. “Energy price increases continue to pressure costs.”
AirTran Airways (CQT) has USA Department of Transport (DOT) approval to launch daily, Chicago Midway - Cancun service on June 3. The route is still subject to Mexican government approval.
In the week following the release of the iPad, Gogo Director Airline Operations, Tim Lemaster said the Wi-Fi provider identified over >10,000 separate usages of iPads being used on board airplanes. The tablets continue to outpace cell phones and laptops 10 to one on airplanes, he said.
“The traditional In-Flight Entertainment (IFE)s are going to be squeezed down to a more long-haul market,” Lemaster said. He pointed out that Wi-Fi-enabled short-haul flights that take advantage of passengers’ own personal electronic devices (PEDs) could help the industry avoid buying and installing seatback systems. However, on a 3-hour flight, Gogo has seen the average passenger pushing 61 megabytes by themselves — - a challenging amount of data to support on multiple (PED)s. “It is a big challenge in the industry,” of “how to push more through the pipe, because the pipe is limited,” he said.
American Airlines (AAL) provides passengers with Samsung tablets on select routes, Manager (IFE), Erik Miller said. “Customers love them,” but he cautioned “there are pros and cons” to eliminating the seatback system altogether.
“Airlines used to take a year to 18 months looking at new airplanes, looking at new systems,” Lemaster said. “Is the right decision today to go away from a traditional (IFE)? It probably makes sense on a short-haul flight (people are already bringing on their own personal devices). I would say in the next three to five years, we will see that decision more and more, move away from the traditional (IFE).”
Southwest Airlines (SWA) mechanics (MT), represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association and the AirTran Airways (CQT) mechanics (MT), represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, met in Dallas to continue negotiating a seniority integration agreement. An integration agreement by the two groups was voted down in February.
“We’re really close, we’ve agreed on a road map on how to merge the seniority list. I’m optimistic within the next few weeks we’ll have a resolution,” (SWA) Senior VP Technical Operations, Brian Hirshman said.
(SWA) is also beginning to convert AirTran (CQT) planes to the (SWA) configuration. The first two airplane conversions are underway with partner Aviation Technical Services (ATS), Hirschman said.
Goodrich (BFG) was selected by Southwest Airlines (SWA) to supply wheels, carbon brakes, Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) services and comprehensive asset management covering its new fleet of 737-800 airplanes.
May 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) will launch daily, Nashville - Boston service on August 12. Airtran Airways (CQT) launched 4X-weekly, San Antonio - Cancun; daily, San Antonio - Mexico City; and 2X-daily, Fort Lauderdale - San Juan service on May 24, as well as 4X-weekly, Austin - Cancun service on May 25. On June 3, it will launch daily Orange County service to Mexico City and Cabo, as well as daily Chicago Midway - Cancun service.
Alaska Airlines (ASA), jetBlue Airways (JBL), Southwest Airlines (SWA) and Virgin America (VUS) have all received slot exemptions for new flights beyond the perimeter of 1250 statute miles from Washington Ronald Reagan National airport (DCA). Flights over longer distances from Reagan are restricted to ensure the majority of this traffic is flowing through Washington Dulles International (IAD). (ASA) will serve Portland International (PDX), jetBlue (JBL) will operate to San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin International airport (SJU), (SWA) to Austin Bergstrom International airport (AUS) and (VUS) to San Francisco International airport (SFO).
(SWA) and United Airlines (UAL) squared off in front of the Houston City Council over whether (SWA) should be allowed to launch international service from Houston Hobby airport (HOU) in 2015.
(SWA), which carries more domestic USA passengers than any other airline, last month announced plans to launch the first-ever (SWA)-branded international flights from (HOU) by mid-decade. (HOU) is a domestic-only airport; all of the city’s international flights operate to/from Houston Intercontinental airport (IAH), a hub dominated by (UAL) in the aftermath of the (UAL)-Continental Airlines (CAL) merger. Both airports are owned by the City of Houston.
(UAL) is pushing back hard, against allowing (SWA) to launch flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, plus Central and South America from (HOU), claiming the service “will drain passengers from (IAH), resulting in a net loss of -3,700 jobs and -$295 million in gross regional product annually in the Houston region.”
But (SWA), which is advocating for construction of a new five-gate, $100 million international facility at (HOU), to be paid for by ticket fees, said the expansion “would open up new low-cost international travel competition to the area,” adding in an online statement, “It won’t cost the City of Houston a dime, but it will bring in more than >+$1 billion of additional revenue annually. It will also create thousands of new jobs and help continue to grow the Houston economy. The downside? There isn’t one — unless you’re Chicago-based, United (UAL) - Continental Airlines (CAL) and want to maintain a stranglehold on the international air service from Houston.”
(SWA) already has a formidable domestic presence at (HOU).
(UAL) commissioned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) International Center for Air Transportation research engineer, William Swelbar and University of Houston economics professor, Barton Smith to study opening up (HOU) to international flights. (UAL) said its study shows that a study done by the Houston Airport System (HAS) in support of adding international flights at HOU “used flawed assumptions to reach unrealistic conclusions that the proposal would be good for Houston.”
After years of wooing potential Information Technology (IT) customers in North America, Amadeus finally gained a foothold on the continent with its new contract with Southwest Airlines (SWA). The contract calls for (SWA) to use the Amadeus Altéa Customer Management System to handle its international flying beginning in 2014.
But in his first-quarter earnings call with analysts, Gary Kelly, (SWA)’s (CEO) said “it also sets the stage for us to move all of our reservations, the domestic reservations that is, to Amadeus if we choose to. “If it works well for us, we’ll obviously take a very hard look at domestic,” Kelly said. “I mean, why go to all this trouble to work with Amadeus with the thought that you're not going to continue to do business with them in a broader way?”
In an interview with "Travel Technology Update," Scott Gutz, President & (CEO) of Amadeus North America, said he believed Amadeus’ track record, as well as its commitment to moving to open systems, played a role in winning (SWA)’s business.
Amadeus has migrated more than >115 airlines to at least one module of Altéa’s reservations, inventory control and departure control systems.
(SWA), now the largest domestic carrier in the USA, has never flown internationally, but its acquisition of AirTran (CQT), which flies to Mexico and the Caribbean, brought it into the international arena. (SWA)’s current passenger services system is based on the old Braniff Cowboy system and modified over the years by Sabre. (SWA) passengers are processed in a separate mainframe complex within the Sabre data center.
Kelly has said that the current system is not capable of handling international flying. AirTran (CQT) currently uses Navitaire’s New Skies system.
As (SWA) integrates AirTran (CQT)’s flights, (CQT) will migrate to the Altéa platform, Gutz said. A more modern system also will open the door for (SWA) to more easily participate in activities such as interlining and code-sharing. “It will be able to move into new markets in a simple and efficient manner,” he said.
For a period of time, the three systems (Altéa, Sabre, and New Skies) will be required to communicate with each other. Gutz said that does not pose any unusual problems. Airlines use solutions and tools from multiple vendors, he said.
“From Amadeus’ point of view, we are used to integrating Altéa with other solutions,” he said. “Our systems are interacting with many other systems and solutions, including Sabre.” Gutz acknowledged that Amadeus is “thrilled ” to have landed the (SWA) business.
The company suffered a disappointment in 2009 when United (UAL) confirmed that it would not migrate to the Altéa platform, despite signing a contract to do so in 2005. Instead, it decided to move to the SHARES system used by Continental (CAL), its merger partner.
That was followed by American Airlines (AAL)’s announcement that it would work with HP Enterprise to develop Jetstream, its new (PSS). Amadeus had made the shortlist in that contest.
Despite the letdowns, Amadeus persevered in pursuing the North American market. Gutz said Amadeus has spent “the better part of the last two years making investments in (IT) and in personnel in North America.”
The (SWA) agreement makes no mention of participation in Amadeus’ Global Distribution System (GDS).
(SWA) participates at a basic level in Sabre, and it uses the Travelport Universal (API) to provide fares and inventory to Travelport subscribers.
Gutz said that as Amadeus’ relationship with (SWA) develops, “we would hope that participation in the (GDS) would follow.”
USA carriers’ on-time performance (OTP) in March improved over the same period a year ago, but was worse than February’s report. The USA Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that the 15 carriers which log on-time performance data, posted an overall (OTP) arrival rate of 82.2% in March, up from 79.2% in March 2011, but down from 86.2% in February.
In March, the carriers filing (OTP) data reported that 4.99% of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.13% in February; 6.16% by late-arriving airplanes, compared to 4.33% in February; 4.9% by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 3.85% in February; 0.51% by extreme weather, compared to 0.35% in February; and 0.02% for security reasons, compared to 0.03% in February.
Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) led all carriers in March with an on-time arrival rate of 92.5%. AirTran Airways (CQT) followed by 90.9% and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) at 87.3%.
The three worst performers were ExpressJet Airlines at 74.1%, Virgin America (VUS) at 74.9% and United Airlines (UAL) at 77.4%.
The (DOT) said airlines reported three tarmac delays of more than >3 hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than >4 hours on international flights in March. All the long domestic tarmac delays took place March 17 in St Louis, a day when severe storms hit the area. The affected carriers were American Airlines (AAL) (219 minutes), Shuttle America (187 minutes) and ExpressJet Airlines (183 minutes).
(SWA) has deferred deliveries of 30 737-800s from 2013 - 2014 to
- 2018, as it focuses on hitting its profit target. The deferrals, 20 in 2013 and 10 in 2014, will save more than >-$1 billion for (SWA).
“We’re more conservative right now in our ambitions with respect to expansion,” (CEO), Gary Kelly said following (SWA)’s annual shareholder meeting, according to "Bloomberg." “We’ll have plenty of airplanes in future years to be able to grow the airline. It’s just not the kind of environment I’m willing to be aggressive in terms of increasing our fleet next year.”
With the deferrals, (SWA) will now receive 20 737-800s in 2013 and 24 in 2014, and a total of 34 737-800s this year. Of the deferred airplanes, 15 will be delivered in 2017, with the remaining 15 scheduled for 2018. It took delivery of its first on March 8.
Delta Airlines (DAL) will lease all 88 717s from Southwest Airline (SWA)’s AirTran (CQT), the airlines said. The leases will help (DAL) accelerate its domestic fleet restructuring as it retires its 50-seat regional jets and aging DC-9s. “These actions pave the way for us to restructure and upgauge our domestic fleet, which will lower our costs, provide more pilot (FC) jobs and improve the onboard experience for our customers,” said (DAL) (CEO), Richard Anderson. “The addition of the Boeing 717s, additional large regional jets and the planned replacement of 50-seat airplanes continue (DAL)'s commitment to operating an efficient, flexible domestic fleet that offers customers even more opportunities to upgrade to our First Class (F) and Economy (Y) Comfort cabins.”
The agreement, which is contingent upon (DAL) pilots (FC) approving a new labor contract, would transfer the 717s from (SWA) to (DAL) beginning in 2013 with completion in 2015. “This is a very complex transaction that requires time and close coordination with multiple parties," said (SWA) Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mike Van de Ven. "While we do have a tentative agreement with (DAL), final details must be completed with all parties before a binding agreement between (DAL) and (SWA) can be completed.”
June 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has named Trevor Stedke as VP Technical Services, effective June 20. Stedke, who served for 15 years at Federal Express (FED), will provide leadership for Engineering Services & Standards, Quality, Maintenance Safety, Powerplant, and Aircraft Programs. (SWA) promoted Assistant Treasurer, Chris Monroe to Treasurer. Monroe began his career at (SWA) in September 1991, and will replace former (SWA) Treasurer, Scott Topping, who left the company last year.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) plans to sell live television service on five planes and expand it to more airplanes by mid-July. (SWA) said that it would offer seven sports and news channels for passengers to watch on their own devices.
(SWA) said it will test prices from $3 to $8 during a trial period. Passengers will need a Wi-Fi-enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.
Live TV will be offered separately from wireless Internet access and customers won’t have to buy Internet access to watch TV. The (SWA) channels: NBC Sports, MLB (Major League Baseball), NFL Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News and Fox Business News.
(SWA) hired Row 44 to provide the service, which (SWA) plans to expand to 20 planes by mid-July. (SWA) said that if the service is successful, it will be added to all (SWA)’s Wi-Fi-enabled planes by the end of the year.
(SWA) has about 550 737 jets including about 250 with Wi-Fi. It plans to outfit 70% of its fleet by the end of 2013.
Airlines have been expanding in-flight entertainment (IFE) options such as Internet access to distinguish themselves from other airlines that often sell tickets for about the same price.
JetBlue Airways (JBL) and Virgin America (VUS) have offered live TV programming on seat-back screens for several years at no extra fee. They provide 36 and 18 channels, respectively. Frontier Airlines (FRO) sells 25 channels of live satellite TV on its larger planes for $6, with elite-level frequent fliers getting it free. United (UAL) charges $6 for flights under two hours and $8 for longer ones but hasn’t outfitted its entire fleet.
Separately, Delta Air Lines (DAL) said that it will offer Internet access on international flights beginning early next year. (DAL)’s entire domestic fleet is already outfitted for Wi-Fi, but airlines have been slower to add the service on overseas routes partly because they need satellites to get a signal over the middle of the ocean, not the land-based transmission signals often used within the USA.
July 2012: An impressive revenue performance enabled Southwest Airlines (SWA) to earn second-quarter net income of +$228 million, up +41.6% over a net profit of +$161 million in the prior-year period.
(SWA)’s second-quarter revenue rose +11.6% year-over-year to $4.62 billion. “Record revenues driven by steady growth were sufficient to overcome high jet fuel prices,” Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said. “We are producing very strong results despite a fragile economic environment. Total cash on hand plus short-term investments, at June 30, 2012, was a very solid $3.3 billion. For 2013, we expect our fleet to remain comparable to 2012, and we are planning for modest year-over-year available seat mile growth, attributable to additional seats from 737-800 deliveries and the replacement of 717s with 737s.”
(SWA)’s second-quarter expenses grew at half the rate of revenue, increasing +5.8% to $4.16 billion. Operating income was +$460 million, more than double an operating profit of +$207 million in the 2011 June quarter.
The easing burden from oil prices in recent months is clearly seen on (SWA)’s balance sheet as second-quarter fuel expense lifted just +3.3% year-over-year to $1.58 billion even as fuel expense for the entire 2012 first half heightened +20.4% to $3.09 billion.
(SWA)’s second-quarter traffic increased by +5.1% to 27.2 billion (RPM)s on a +5.6% lift in capacity to 33.2 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 81.9% LF, down -0.4 point. Passenger yield rose +6% to 15.94 cents. (SWA)’s first-half 2012 revenue grew +18.9% to $8.61 billion, leading to a +$327 million six-month net profit, up +97% year-over-year.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will operate 2X-daily, Kansas City - Minneapolis service, as well as daily, Albuquerque - Orlando, Albany - Las Vegas (LAS), Hartford - (LAS), Islip - Ft Myers (RSW), West Palm Beach (PBI) - Pittsburg, (PBI) - Providence (PVD), and (PVD) - (RSW) Feb 14 - March 8. Airtran Airways (CQT) will operate 2X-daily, Chicago Midway - Ft Myers (RSW) service and daily, Detroit - (RSW) service February 17 - March 8. (SWA) will launch 2X-daily, St Louis (STL) - Washington Reagan service, expected to begin by early October. It will also launch 2X-daily, (STL) - San Antonio service on August 12.
(SWA) has promoted Senior VP Customer Services, Teresa Laraba to Senior VP Customers, and VP Ground Operations/AirTran (CQT), Jack Smith to VP Customer Support & Services.
August 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) Senior VP-finance & (CFO), Laura Wright has announced her retirement. She will remain with the airline through the end of the year, but Senior VP Planning, Tammy Romo will take over as VP Finance & (CFO) on September 20.
Romo joined (SWA) in 1991 and has held various financial and planning positions with (SWA). Wright has been with (SWA) for 25 years, including the last eight as (CFO).
(SWA) Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly described Romo as “an excellent choice based on her strong accounting and technical background, outstanding strategic planning capabilities, and deep knowledge of our company and overall corporate finance strategy.”
September 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) will launch daily, Branson, Missouri service to Dallas Love (daily), Houston Hobby (daily), Chicago Midway (daily) and Orlando (weekly) on March 9.
(SWA) sees significant new opportunities out of its base of Dallas Love Field after October 2014, when a restriction on flights from the airport is lifted. (SWA) is currently only able to launch non-stop flights out of Love Field to other points in Texas and eight other states, due to legislation introduced in the 1970s to protect the then newly-built Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The Wright Amendment will be repealed in October 2014. It currently limits (SWA)'s non-stop flights to Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. "We have substantial opportunities out of Love Field," says Tammy Romo, (SWA)'s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Romo also emphasises a significant growth opportunity out of Houston Hobby Airport, where the airline is building a new international terminal and federal inspection services facility. The terminal is expected to open in 2015.
(SWA) currently does not operate internationally, but its subsidiary AirTran Airways (CQT), which it acquired in May 2011, flies to the Caribbean and Mexico. (SWA) plans to integrate these operations with theirs and has said it plans to launch flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America from Hobby when the new terminal opens. "Obviously with our strong presence in Texas, we think we have significant opportunities to grow the route system out of Houston," says Romo.
(SWA) is in the process of transitioning (CQT)'s international flying over to (SWA), and has hired Amadeus to launch a reservations system that will allow (SWA) to operate the international flights in 2014. (SWA) currently uses Sabre, while (CQT)n is on the Navitaire New Skies platform.
Milwaukee is about to lose the last vestige of its former Midwest Airlines (MWX) hub.
Republic Airways has applied to the USA Department of Transportation to shift its Milwaukee to Washington National slots to Madison and Omaha. With the shift, Republic Airway's Frontier Airlines (FRO) subsidiary will only fly to Cancun, Denver, Orlando and Rhinelander (not sure how long that will last) from the former Midwest (MWX) stronghold.
Long gone are (MWX)'s former routes from Milwaukee to major business markets around the country, including Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Many of these routes are now served by AirTran Airways (CQT) and its parent, Southwest Airlines (SWA), and Delta Air Lines (DAL).
What a difference five years make.
AirTran Airways (CQT) began building up a hub at Milwaukee following its failed takeover of Midwest (MWX) in 2007. Now, combined with (SWA) who bought (CQT) in 2011, it is the largest carrier at the airport with 3.7 million enplaning passengers, or a 43% market share, during the year ending in 30 June, according to (DOT) data.
Frontier (FRO) had a 9% market share with just 797,000 enplaning passengers during the period, according to the (DOT). It began cutting flights and staff at Milwaukee in 2011.
A hub is not coming back. Despite AirTran (CQT) and (SWA)'s significant operation at Milwaukee, the carrier's have already begun shifting routes to smaller Midwestern cities, including Akron-Canton and Des Moines, to its large "hub" (though it does not refer to it as one) at Chicago's Midway airport, which is only about 140 km to the south. The moves suggest that Milwaukee will simply be a large originating and departing market at the combined carrier.
Michael Boyd, Chairman of the Boyd Group International, said that Milwaukee has lost its status as a connecting point in the USA and that he anticipates declining passenger enplanement numbers at the airport during the next five years.
Milwaukee's loss of its hubs is emblematic of the trends among USA airlines during the past decade. It joins a growing list of former rust belt and Midwest hubs, including Pittsburgh, St Louis and increasingly Cincinnati, that have devolved to simply points in the web of hub and spokes around the USA.
(SWA) has reached an agreement with its flight attendants (CA) that will allow it to start operations requiring overwater flying. Its pilots (FC) had already agreed to a similar contract change earlier this year. (SWA)'s original labor agreements did not allow the carrier to operate overwater flying preventing it from serving Hawaii or destinations in the Caribbean or Central America for example. (SWA) does not plan international operations for at least another year or more with such flights continuing to be exclusively served by subsidiary AirTran Airways (CQT) but is considering launching routes from the West Coast to Hawaii.
(SWA) acquired (CQT)'s 88 717s and 52 737-700s when it bought (CQT), and is in the process of converting (CQT)'s 737s to (SWA) livery. Eleven of the 737s will be completed by the end of this year and the remaining 41 will transition from 2014, says Romo. A (SWA) spokesman clarifies that the 41 airplanes support (CQT)'s Puerto Rico and international operations and will transition to (SWA) livery, when its international reservations system is in place.
(SWA) agreed in May to sublease the 88 717s operated by (CQT) to Delta Air Lines (DAL). The first 717 will leave the fleet in August 2013 and all the 717s will exit by the end of 2015. With the 717s leaving the fleet, (SWA) has said it intends to extend a seat reconfiguration project it is rolling out across its 737-700s to its 737 Classics as well. (SWA) is also pushing back the retirement dates of these 737 Classics to allow it to backfill some of the 717s as it aims to keep capacity flat. (SWA) has not decided on the retirement rate for the 737 Classics.
(SWA) (CEO), Gary Kelly has said (SWA) will likely retrofit a hundred 737 Classics with the additional seats under the seat reconfiguration program called "Evolve." Romo said that it "makes sense" to have the additional seats on the airplanes, but could not confirm the exact number of 737 Classics that will get the extra seats. "It's a good portion," she says.
The "Evolve" cabin retrofit project was first announced by (SWA) in January 2012, and it expects to complete the retrofit on the 737-700s in the second quarter of 2013. Kelly has said the retrofitting of the 737 Classics will not meet this timeline. The retrofit involves adding an extra row of six seats each to 372 737-700s, taking the number of seats on each airplane to 143 from 137.
(SWA)'s 737-300s have the same number of seats as the 737-700s pre-retrofit. (SWA) has a fleet of 142 737-300s, with build dates ranging from the mid-1980s to late 1990s. (SWA) also has a fleet of 21 737-500s, which have fewer seats on board.
(SWA) has ordered 268 more winglet sets from Seattle-based Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) for its 737 airplanes. (SWA)'s original order in 2003 was for 169 so-called “blended winglets” with an option for more through this year. The new order is (APB)’s largest single order in its history. (SWA) can expect the winglets to bring more than -$150 million in annual fuel savings, while reducing their carbon dioxide output by more than >-580,000 tons a year.
October 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported a third-quarter net profit of +$16 million, reversed from a -$140 million net loss in the prior-year period. The improvement occurred even as revenue was flat and (SWA) incurred -$81 million in net losses on unfavorable special items.
Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said “While in line with the domestic industry, our third-quarter 2012 year-over-year unit revenue growth was more sluggish than planned due to weaker demand, particularly in September. While the economy remains a significant concern, we are encouraged, thus far, by October’s bookings and revenue trends. Thus far in October 2012, passenger unit revenues are running ahead of the comparable year-ago period by approximately +4%.”
Third-quarter revenue was flat year-over-year at $4.31 billion, while expenses increased +4.2% to $4.26 billion, producing an operating profit of +$51 million, down -77.3% compared to +$225 million in operating income last year.
Kelly said “much of the [expense] growth was investment related,” adding, “We have retrofitted 147 (SWA) 737-700s with our updated cabin interior and plan to complete all 372 737-700 retrofits in the first half of 2013.”
Third-quarter traffic lowered -0.6% to 27.16 billion (RPM)s on a -0.7% cut in capacity to 33.08 billion (ASM)s. Load factor was 82.1% LF, essentially flat year-over-year. (RASM) lifted just +0.6% to 13.02 cents, while (CASM) rose +5% to 12.87 cents. Passenger yield increased +0.8% to 14.89 cents.
(SWA) launched five routes at the end of September; all with its fleet of 737-700 airplanes. Two of the routes are from Atlanta, Georgia (ATL), where (SWA) replaced some of the frequencies operated by subsidiary, AirTran (CQT). Only on one of the routes launched, does Southwest (SWA) not face any direct competition, but United (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) indirectly compete with their flights between Chicago O’Hare and Des Moines, Iowa (DSM), operating 53 and 46 times a week, respectively.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) said it will convert AirTran (CQT)-branded flights to (SWA) flights at four cities from April 14, 2013. The airports include Charlotte, from which (SWA) will fly to Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Chicago Midway (MDW) and Houston Hobby (HOU) airports; Flint (Michigan), from which (SWA) will operate flights to (BWI), Orlando (MCO) and Tampa (TPA); Portland (Maine), from which (SWA) will fly to (BWI); and Rochester (New York), from which (SWA) will operate flights to (BWI), (MDW), (MCO), and (TPA).
Additionally, starting April 14, (SWA) will start new daily service between Boston and Kansas City, and between (HOU) and Pittsburgh. Also from April 14, AirTran (CQT) will start new daily flights between (BWI) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, pending government approval.
(SWA) and (CQT) gained a single air operating certificate (AOC) earlier this year. (SWA) said that it has so far converted nine (CQT) 737s into (SWA) airplanes. It plans next year to begin enabling passengers to connect from (SWA) to (CQT) flights, and vice versa, on a single itinerary.
(SWA) has announced that it will take over all remaining AirTran Airways (CQT) operations from Charlotte Douglas International (CLT), Flint Bishop International (FNT), Portland International (PWM) and Rochester International (ROC) from April 14, 2013. (SWA) subsidiary, (CQT) currently serves Charlotte, Flint and Rochester from its home base in Atlanta. From Baltimore Thurgood Marshall International (BWI), it serves Charlotte, Portland and Rochester. (CQT) also operates from Orlando International (MCO) to Flint and Rochester and from Tampa International (TPA) to Flint.
(SWA) has named former USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt to Senior VP Labor Relations. Babbitt served as (FAA) administrator from June 2009 to December 2011. He has also served as President & (CEO) of the USA Air Line Pilots Association.
“For more than >40 years, (SWA) has thrived because of our regard for labor organizations as partners,” (SWA) (COO), Mike Van de Ven said, adding, “Randy's unique skills and experience at various levels in our industry can only strengthen those partnerships.”
Babbitt will be responsible for all negotiation, communication and relationships between (SWA) and the 11 organizations representing 87% of (SWA) employees.
Airtran Airways is not accepting new flight crew (FC) applications. It is merging into Southwest Airlines (SWA).
See FAPA.aero: Pilot Career Conferences & Job Fairs
...For Future & Active Pilots (FC).
November 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) took over former AirTran (CQT) Key West (EYW) service to Orlando (2X-daily) and Tampa Bay (2X-daily). It will also launch daily, (EYW) - New Orleans service March 9.
Starting June 2, (SWA) will fly its own branded service from Chicago Midway, Dallas and Las Vegas to Wichita a city in Kansas that happens to have a large aerospace sector. (SWA) will also operate San Juan - Baltimore, Houston Hobby - New York LaGuardia and Chicago Midway to the oil town of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
Also, (CQT) will launch Tampa Bay service to Houston Hobby and Raleigh on June 2. Meanwhile (CQT) will exit Wichita, ending flights from Atlanta. That's another former AirTran (CQT) market that Delta Airlines (DAL) will be glad to have to itself.
Soon-to-be acquired Row 44 has teamed with Dallas-based technology company, SwiftAir to provide interactive in-flight travel guides for (SWA)/(CQA)'s fleet of more than >350 wi-fi enabled airplanes. The guides will debut in 2013 on flights headed to to 11 cities, with more options to come throughout the year. Passengers using the service will be able to view tours of the city as well as purchase exclusive ticket deals from businesses, restaurants and other companies to redeem after touching down.
The free platform will be part of (SWA)'s in-flight entertainment interface that passengers access with their personal electronic devices (PEDs). (SWA) uses Row 44's Ku-band connection to provide entertainment via these devices rather than installing embedded seatback units in the airplanes. (SWA) plans to complete wifi installations on its 737-700s and 737-800s by mid-2013, or 70% of its fleet.
Global Eagle Acquisition announced that it would combine Row 44 and a majority stake in content provider Advanced Inflight Alliance (AIA) to create an "entertainment in motion powerhouse," and this deal provides some insight into the future offerings the company will provide. The crux of Global Eagles' business model is to combine entertainment aggregation expertise of (AIA) with the technical ability to install Ku-band satellite installations, so that passengers can access a full range of entertainment options on their (PED)s. Global Eagle has said it also wants to integrate ancillary revenue opportunities for airlines into its offering as well, which the partnership with SwiftAir demonstrates.
Airlines for America (A4A) announced it elected Southwest Airlines (SWA) Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly as Chairman of the (A4A) board. Kelly succeeds Delta Air Lines (DAL) (CEO), Richard Anderson. United Airlines (UAL) Chairman, President & (CEO), Jeffery Smisek was elected to serve as Vice Chairman. (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas Calio said Kelly will lead the organization as it continues to push to further a National Airline Policy, “which is critical to America’s economic growth, our communities, our infrastructure and the traveling public.”
Kelly said, “The USA airline industry plays a vital role in the overall health of our nation’s economy. I look forward to the opportunity to work with my industry peers to advocate for a National Airline Policy and serve our passengers, our employees and our communities.”
December 2012: Southwest Airlines (SWA) said that VP General Counsel, Madeleine Johnson will retire, effective February 1. Her successor will be Mark Shaw, (SWA)'s Associate General Counsel Corporate & Transactions. (SWA) said Johnson was instrumental in orchestrating the legal work to enable (SWA)'s acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT), now a wholly owned subsidiary of (SWA). Shaw joined (SWA) in 2000 as an attorney in the General Counsel department and was promoted in 2008 to his current role.
Executive VP & Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer, Ron Ricks said, “I have great confidence in Mark's abilities and his character as a leader. This will be a seamless transition given his history with (SWA) and with his colleagues in the General Counsel department.”
January 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) posted 2012 net income of +$421 million, marking its 40th consecutive year of profitability.
The net profit more than doubled net income of +$178 million in 2011. The profit increase was achieved even though (SWA)’s fourth-quarter net income declined -48.7% year-over-year to +$78 million. Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly noted that finishing in the black for 40 years consecutively is “a record unmatched in the airline industry.”
He added in a statement, “As we enter 2013, bookings and revenue trends, thus far, suggest a year-over-year improvement in January 2013 passenger unit revenues in the 2% to 3% range. While the effect of USA tax increases on the domestic economy remains uncertain, bookings for the remainder of first quarter, thus far, are strong.”
(SWA)’s 2012 revenue rose +9.1% year-over-year to $17.09 billion, while expenses increased +10% to $16.47 billion. Operating income fell -10.1% to $623 million. Net income was helped by $4 million in net favorable special items, which compared to $152 million in net unfavorable special items in 2011.
Kelly said “significant optimization efforts are planned in 2013 for the AirTran (CQT) network,” which should boost revenue performance. (SWA) and (CQT) received a single air operating certificate (AOC) in 2012.
(SWA)’s full-year traffic rose +5.4% year-over-year to 102.87 billion (RPM)s on a +6.3% increase in capacity to 128.14 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 80.3% LF, down -0.6 point. Passenger yield lifted +3.4% to 15.64 cents.
(SWA) expanded its network with five new routes on 6 January. All flights are performed using (SWA)’s fleet of 737-family airplanes and (SWA) faces competition on two routes – from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Phoenix (PHX), and from Nashville (BNA) to New York LaGuardia (LGA).
Although Southwest Airlines (SWA) acquired AirTran Airways (CQT) in May 2011, it will be this year in 2013 that the real impact of that acquisition will start to become clear. Customers will be able to book single-ticket itineraries by March, connecting (SWA) and (CQT) networks for the first time, and (SWA) is expecting this to significantly boost revenue and give it a competitive advantage. (SWA) also faces some new challenges, with (CEO), Gary Kelly warning that (SWA) must respond to the cost-cutting that American Airlines (AAL) and other competitors have achieved in bankruptcy protection. That raises the prospect of a problem (SWA) usually does not encounter: divisive disputes with its labor unions.
AirTran Airways (CQT) will launch daily, Denver - Los Cabos service on March 10.
(SWA) will launch AirTran (CQT)-operated Chicago Midway service to Montego Bay (4X-weekly, on April 14) and Punta Cana (4X-weekly, on May 19).
Row 44, of Westlake Village, California, said its in-flight entertainment and connectivity service, which includes high-speed Internet, shopping, destination services, and real-time flight map with updates, has been installed on 400 (SWA) airplanes.
"The 400th installation of broadband capabilities on our fleet is a particularly significant milestone for (SWA) and our partner, Row 44," said Dave Ridley, (SWA)'s Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). "(SWA) was the first USA carrier to test satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on multiple airplanes. We have found the strength of satellite service has allowed us to deliver very high bandwidth for Internet users and provide our in-flight entertainment via the addition of live television."
Now available on (SWA) airplanes installed with Wi-Fi, the live television service features nine channels of live news and sports, which includes NBC Sports, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, MLB, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business News and FOX-NYC. Passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices can stream the live television service. Importantly, the Row 44 live television service utilizes a distinct band transmitted to the airplane, and therefore does not interfere with Internet connectivity.
In November, the Global Eagle Acquisition Corporation signed an agreement to acquire Row 44 and an 86% stake in Advanced In-flight Alliance (AIA) to create "the largest entertainment and connectivity platform for the worldwide airline industry."
SEE ATTACHED FROM "AIRWAYS" MAGAZINE - - "CQT-2013-01 - UPDATE-A/B."
February 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has finally implemented a limited code share agreement with subsidiary AirTran Airways (CQT) allowing the two carriers to work together more closely. The implementation of the code share agreement between the two carriers had to be postponed because of technology issues with the passenger servicing systems at both carriers with a full merger of the two airlines still not expected for some years. AirTran (CQT) has now put its FL code on (SWA) services from Atlanta to Louisville Standiford International (SDF) and Norfolk International (ORF), while (SWA) code shares on AirTran (CQT) services from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International (FLL) and Fort Myers Southwest Florida International (RSW). The two airlines will then gradually introduce additional routes making it possible for customers to buy itineraries including both airlines which has so far not been possible.
(CQT) will launch daily, Austin Bergstrom - Los Cabos, Mexico 737 service on June 1.
(MTU) Maintenance Canada has a long-term agreement from Southwest Airlines (SWA) for the maintenance of (SWA)’s (CFM56-3) engines. (MTU) will provide (SWA) with a total engine care program.
March 2013: AirTran Airways (CQT) commenced operation on the 1,900 km route from Denver (DEN) to San José del Cabo (SJD) on 10 March. Daily flights using (CQT)’s 737-700s are offered to the Mexican city located on the southern tip of the California Baja peninsula. Frontier Airlines (FRO) and United Airlines (UAL) provide competition in this market, which they serve with eight and four weekly frequencies, respectively. (CQT) will launch daily, Austin Bergstrom - San Jose Del Cabos, Mexico 737 service on June 1. (CQT) will add seasonal, Orlando - Houston Hobby service; Orlando - New Orleans service; Fort Myers - Columbus service; and Fort Lauderdale - Pittsburgh service.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will launch daily, Des Moines - Las Vegas service; daily, Jacksonville - Chicago service; daily, Atlanta - San Diego service; daily, Nashville - Pittsburgh service, and 2X-daily, Fort Lauderdale - San Juan service on September 29. It will also restart seasonal daily, Jacksonville - Las Vegas service, as well as seasonal daily service from Orlando to Indianapolis and Minneapolis/St Paul.
(SWA) said it has connected the (SWA) and AirTran Airways (CQT) networks, enabling a single transaction for coordinated itineraries for flights from April 14. (SWA) and (CQT) operate to a combined 97 destinations. The carriers were granted a single air operating certificate (AOC) by the (FAA) last year, following (SWA)’s acquisition of (CQT) in 2011.
(SWA) said that “full integration” (repainting and reconfiguring (CQT)’s 737s, total airport facility commonality and using a single ticketing system) “is a large and complex process that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.” So far, 30% of (CQT) employees have officially switched over to (SWA), 11 (CQT) 737-700s have been repainted and reconfigured, and there has been an ongoing conversion of (CQT)-branded flights to (SWA)-branded flights at airports.
According to (SWA), it realized $142 million of net, annualized, pre-tax merger synergies in 2012 and expects to achieve $400 million in such synergies in 2013. This excludes acquisition and integration expenses.
(CQT) President & (SWA) Chief Commercial Officer, Bob Jordan said, “With a connected network, we can offer customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what’s to come once the integration is complete.”
April 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported first-quarter net income of +$59 million, down -39.8% from a net profit of +$98 million in the year-ago period, but more than tripled operating income year-over-year.
AirTran Airways (CQT) increased the number of routes it serves in the Caribbean market on 14 April. (CQT) commenced daily flights from Baltimore/Washington (BWI) to Punta Cana (PUJ) in the Dominican Republic, and also launched five times weekly service between Chicago Midway (MDW) and Montego Bay (MBJ) in Jamaica. The services on both of the routes are provided using 137-seat 737-700 equipment.
AirTran Airways (CQT) inaugurated flights on its 15th route from Baltimore/Washington (BWI) on 24 April, and now serves Las Vegas (LAS) with daily frequencies. Flights on the 3,400 km route are offered with (CQT)’s 737-700s in competition against Spirit Airlines (SPR)’s daily flights. In addition, Southwest Airlines (SWA) (which owns AirTran Airways (CQT)) also serves the market from Baltimore/Washington to Las Vegas, offering 27 weekly flights. Confusing, isn’t it?
(SWA) will begin Chicago Midway - Jacksonville service on June 3.
(SWA) and AirTran (CQT) completes the connection between the carriers’ networks on April 14. Customers will be able to purchase itineraries to the (SWA)/(CQT) airlines’ combined 97 cities, including international services, in one transaction.
(SWA) has started several new services, as well as taking over some operations from its subsidiary AirTran Airways (CQT). Six of (SWA)’s top 20 airports (in terms of weekly flights) are involved in the activity – namely Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Chicago Midway (MDW), Houston Hobby (HOU), Kansas City (MCI), Orlando (MCO) and Tampa (TPA). In a classic case of a (LCC) ‘joining up the network dots,’ many of the new routes for (SWA) are the same, with Charlotte, Flint (FNT) and Rochester (ROC) being connected from four, three and four of the airline’s top 20 airports, respectively. With Charlotte being heavily featured, significant competition is mounted by US Airways (AMW)/(USA) to Baltimore/Washington (63 weekly services) and Orlando (68), while jetBlue Airways (JBL) will provide (LCC) competition on routes into San Juan (SJU), Puerto Rico from Tampa (TPA) with 21 weekly flights, and also to Orlando with 42 weekly flights.
May 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has added some new routes in its latest flight schedule which covers the winter months to early January. These include Atlanta - Hartford, Atlanta - Oklahoma City, Austin - New Orleans, and some winter-only runs to Florida locations. In November, the last three airports that AirTran (CQT) serves but (SWA) doesn't (Memphis, Pensacola, and Richmond) will start transitioning to (SWA) branding. A few routes will be discontunued, including: Atlanta - Buffalo, Denver - Manchester, New Hampshire, Denver - Providence, Chicago (MDW) - Canton/Akron, and some seasonal Las Vegas routes.
AirTran Airways (CQT) started flying on the 3,200 km route from Chicago Midway (MDW) to Punta Cana (PUJ) on May 19th, making the service its third route to the Dominican Republic airport after Atlanta and Baltimore/Washington. Four-weekly frequencies are scheduled for the service, which is operated using 737-700s.
(SWA) will begin its new flights between Houston Hobby and Washington National from August 4th, following its win of a pair of slot exemptions at the Washington DC airport. (SWA) will operate a daily round trip flight between the two cities. (SWA) will be the only carrier operating between Washington National and Houston Hobby. United Airlines (UAL) serves Houston Intercontinental non-stop from both Washington National and Washington Dulles airports.
(SWA) will begin Austin - New Orleans on November 3.
(SWA) announced Craig Maccubbin will join (SWA) as its new Chief Technology Officer & VP Technology Operations, effective May 6. (SWA) has promoted Randy Sloan to Senior VP & Chief Information Officer (CIO). Sloan, who joined (SWA) in March 2012, will immediately assume the new role.
(SWA) was named the launch customer for Boeing (TBC)'s 737 MAX 7. (SWA) converted its existing orders for 30 Next-Generation 737s into orders for 737 MAX 7 series, and has also chosen to exercise options to add five Next-Generation 737-800s to its fleet. At current list prices, the total order (including options) is valued at $2.9 billion. Deliveries for (SWA) are scheduled to begin in 2019.
With the 737 MAX 7 conversions and exercised options for 737-800s, (SWA)’s unfilled orders consist of 180 737 MAX airplanes and 137 Next-Generation 737s. The 737 MAX now has orders for 1,315 airplanes.
June 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) begins daily, Houston Hobby - Washington (DCA) service on August 4.
(SWA) continues to refine the combined operations it has with AirTran (CQT) in Atlanta as part of its overall strategy to put less emphasis on Atlanta as a connection point and more focus on creating a rolling schedule in the market that is more reflective of its other top focus cities.
All of the efforts that are designed to reach fruition in November 2013 are being undertaken to improve the overall performance of Atlanta in the combined AirTran (CQT) - (SWA) network as the integration of the two carriers continues.
But in the short-term, (SWA) is battling some revenue weakness as unit revenues during the 1st quarter 2013 increased just roughly +2% and fell -4% to -5% during April 2013. Some of the weakness in April 2013 resulted from the timing of the Easter holiday and system slowdowns triggered by budget cuts in the USA. Moving forward, (SWA) believes it should post unit revenue improvements during the last two months of the 2nd Quarter 2013, with the momentum continuing throughout the rest of the year.
July 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has reported a second-quarter net income of +$224 million, down -1.8% from a net income of +$228 million in the year-ago period.
(SWA) begins daily, Atlanta - Washington DC (DCA) service on February 13, while AirTran (CQT) continues to offer 5X-daily between the cities.
INCDT: On July 22nd, emergency responders at New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) evacuated passengers and crew on Southwest Airlines (SWA) Flight 345 after the 737-7H4 (CFM56-7B22) (400-29848, /99 N753SW) commercial passenger jet’s nose gear collapsed upon landing.
The 737-7H4 landed on its nose-gear first, according to the USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The (NTSB) said in an investigative update on the incident, “Evidence from video and other sources is consistent with the nose-gear making contact with the runway before the main landing gear.” The main landing gear is supposed to make the first contact with the runway.
The (NTSB) has determined that the nose landing gear “collapsed rearward and upward into the fuselage, damaging the electronics bay, which houses avionics and other equipment.” The 737-7H4 slid 2,175 feet on its nose before coming to rest off to the right side of (LGA) runway 4. “At touchdown, the airspeed was approximately 133 knots and the airplane was pitched down approximately 3 degrees,” the board stated. “After touchdown, the 737-7H4 came to a stop within approximately 19 seconds.”
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the Nashville-to-(LGA) flight have been recovered and are being analyzed by the (NTSB). None of the 145 passengers or five crew are believed to have been seriously injured in the incident.
A later report stated:
The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said “no mechanical anomalies or malfunctions have been found” with the Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-700 that made a hard landing at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
The 737-700 landed July 22 at (LGA) on its nose landing gear first, leading to the collapse of the nose-gear and the 737 sliding 2,175 feet on its nose. There were no serious injuries, but the airplanet “was substantially damaged.” The (NTSB) said a “preliminary examination of the nose-gear indicated that it failed due to stress overload,” not a mechanical malfunction. The main landing gear should touch down first in a normal landing; the nose-gear is not designed to absorb the entire weight of the airplane.
The (NTSB) said the captain (FC) on the flight has been with (SWA) for almost 13 years. “The captain (FC) has over >12,000 total flight hours, over >7,000 of which are as pilot-in-command (FC). In 737s, the captain (FC) has over >7,900 hours, with more than >2,600 as the pilot-in-command (FC).”
The (NTSB) added that the first officer has been with (SWA) for about 18 months, reporting, “The pilot (FC) has about 5,200 total flight hours, with 4,000 of those as pilot-in-command (FC). In 737s, the first officer usually has about 1,100 hours, none of which are as the pilot-in-command (FC).”
The (NTSB) noted the Nashville-to-(LGA) flight was part of the first trip the two pilots (FC) had flown together; it was the second leg of the trip. “The first officer (FC) had previous operational experience at (LGA), including six flights in 2013. The captain (FC) reported having flown into (LGA) twice, including the accident flight, serving as the pilot (FC) monitoring for both flights.”
Regarding the July 22 landing, the (NTSB) said the weather in the New York area “caused the accident flight to enter a holding pattern for about 15 minutes. The flight crew (FC) reported that they saw the airport from about 5 - 10 miles out and that the airplane was on speed, course and glideslope down to about 200 - 400 feet. At a point below <400 feet, there was an exchange of control of the airplane and the captain (FC) became the flying pilot (FC) and made the landing.”
The (NTSB) noted its investigators “have collected five videos showing various aspects of the crash landing. The team will be analyzing these recordings in the coming months.” The (FAA), Boeing (TBC), (SWA) and the (SWA) Pilots Association are parties to the (NTSB)’s probe.
August 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) begins daily, Atlanta - Washington DC (DCA) service on February 13, while AirTran (CQT) continues to offer 5X-daily service between the cities.
(SWA) expanded its offering from Houston Hobby (HOU) on August 4th with daily services on the 2,000-kilometre route to Washington Reagan (DCA). (SWA), which plans to double the route frequency from August 11, deploys winglet-equipped 737-700s on the route. While there is no direct competition on the route, United Airlines (UAL) serves the market from Houston to Washington with flights from Houston Intercontinental to Washington Reagan (51 weekly flights) and Washington Dulles (41).
(SWA) started two new routes from Grand Rapids, Michigan (GRR) on August 11, when it launched daily flights from its bases at Denver, (DEN) and St Louis (STL). Competition on the Denver route comes from United Airlines (UAL) (two daily flights), and Frontier (FRO) (daily flights), though (FRO)’s services will end early next month. In addition, (SWA) has taken over the routes from Grand Rapids to Baltimore/Washington and Orlando, that had previously been operated by its wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways (CQT). In early January, (SWA) will add Fort Myers and Tampa (both in Florida) to its Grand Rapids network.
AirTran Airways (CQT) has introduced three new routes; Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Chicago Midway (MDW), and Orlando (MCO), all from Memphis (MEM). The three new routes started on August 11 and are operated using (CQT)’s 117-seat 717s. (CQT)only faces competition on the Memphis - Orlando route from Delta Air Lines (DAL). (CQT) offers a daily service on the city pair, whereas (DAL) operates thrice-daily with the only exception being Saturdays, where (DAL) offers a daily service. Up to now, (CQT) has only operated a single route from Memphis to its main hub at nearby Atlanta. All three of these new routes will be transferred to Southwest Airlines (SWA) from early November.
(SWA) has a strong hand with no competition on its new non-stop daily service from Las Vegas (LAS) to Flint (FNT). Flint, which started on August 11, is now (SWA)’s 57th route served out of Las Vegas. The 2,789 km sector will carry passengers on a 143-seat 737-700. Southwest now operates four routes (including this latest addition) to Flint, with Baltimore/Washington, Orlando and Tampa, being joined by Las Vegas.
According to FAPA.aero, AirTran (CQT) is not accepting new flight crew (FC) applications. (CQT) is merging with Southwest Airlines (SWA).
737-7BD (33931, N7744A), re-registered ex-(N318AT).
September 2013: AirTran Airways (CQT) has transferred approximately 3 717s per month to Delta (DAL), and now totals 88.
October 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported a third-quarter net income of +$241 million, more than doubled from a +$97 profit in the year-ago period.
Similar to USA carriers Delta (DAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA), Southwest Airlines (SWA) recorded a strong financial performance in its 3rd quarter 2013, driven partly by its ability to raise fares as well as some relief in unit cost pressure. (SWA) remains optimistic about its 4th quarter 2013 even as it faces some headwinds stemming from the USA Government shutdown and the sliding of busy travel days for the US Thanksgiving holiday from November 2013 to December 2013.
(SWA) reaches a milestone in November 2013 when its de-hubbing of Atlanta takes full effect. By April 2014, (SWA) and AirTran (CQT) will deploy 160 daily flights from the largest USA airport in terms of passenger enplanements. At that time, Atlanta will be roughly the same size in terms of departures as Houston Hobby or Phoenix: – two of Southwest’s top markets. But it will pale in comparison to Chicago Midway, which currently has roughly 253 daily departures.
(SWA)’s management has concluded that Atlanta was a “challenge” for AirTran (CQT) prior to (CQT)'s acquisition by (SWA) and the de-hubbing should produce improvements in bolstering traffic in the local market from the airport. Carrier executives are also stressing the company’s shrinking footprint in Atlanta should not be interpreted as the airport’s value diminishing in the combined Southwest (SWA) - AirTran (CQT) network.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has no official stance on the American Airlines (AAL) - US Airways (AMW)/(USA) merger, but (SWA) wants to have a stronger presence at Washington National Airport (DCA) and wants (AAL) - (AMW)/(USA) to divest Washington National slots.
(SWA) begins weekly seasonal service on March 8: Fort Myers - Albany, - Denver, - Kansas City; and Orlando - Portland; Minneapolis - Tampa Bay.
AirTran Airways (CQT), subsidiary of (SWA) launched four new domestic services on September 29. The two routes from Orlando, Florida (MCO) both “compete” with Southwest Airlines (SWA), although the two carriers are currently being integrated. The Fort Myers, Florida (RSW) to Columbus, Ohio (CMH) route is operated by AirTran (CQT) until January 6, when (SWA) takes over the route. Similarly, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) to Pittsburgh (PIT) service is handed over from November 3.
(SWA) launched four new routes in one day on September 29. Three of the new city pairs are domestic routes, with the fourth being ‘technically’ an international route to the capital San Juan and most populous city in Puerto Rico (albeit an unincorporated territory of the United States and therefore passengers fly domestically). The only route without competition is between Nashville (BNA) and Pittsburgh (PIT), 7x weekly. The other three included Des Moines, Iowa to Las Vegas, 7x weekly, competing with Allegiant (WJE) 4x weekly; Atlanta to San Diego, 7x weekly, competing with Delta (DAL) 34x weekly; and Fort Lauderdale to San Juan, Puerto Rico, 14x weekly competing with JetBlue Airways (JBL) 34x weekly, and Spirit Airlines (SPR) 7x weekly.
(SWA) has announced organizational and executive personnel changes in its Commercial, Operational and Technology groups.
Andrew Watterson, most recently VP Planning & Revenue Management at Hawaiian Airlines (HWI), was appointed VP, Network Planning & Performance. Watterson will lead (SWA)’s Network Planning & Commercial Planning teams.
Sherry Staber joins (SWA)’s Technology organization in a new position, VP Business Transformation Solutions, Operations & Enterprise Management. Staber was previously VP Corporate Solutions at J C Penney Company’s corporate headquarters in Plano, Texas.
Another new position, VP Supply Chain Management, will be filled by Bill Tiffany, previously (SWA)’s Maintenance Senior Director of Supply Chain Management. (SWA)’s supply chain management group will now encompass the company’s Maintenance Supply Chain, company wide Purchasing plus Procurement & Fuel Management functions.
In (SWA)’s Operational group, Greg Wells has been promoted to Senior VP Operational Performance. Brian Hirshman, previously (SWA)’s Senior VP Technical Operations, will take Wells’ former position of Senior VP Operations, overseeing (SWA)’s Technical Operations, Cargo/Charter Operations, Ground Operations and (SWA)’s Operations Coordination Center.
Within (SWA)’s Marketing group, Ryan Green was promoted to Managing Director Customer development, reporting to VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Kevin Krone. Green was previously (SWA)’s Senior Director of Loyalty & Partnerships in Marketing.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has fired the captain (FC) of the 737-700 that made a hard landing at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in July. The airplane landed nose gear first, leading to the collapse of the nose-gear and the 737 sliding 2,175 feet. There were no serious injuries, but the airplane “was substantially damaged,” according to the USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The (NTSB) said it found no evidence of mechanical malfunction, instead blaming the incident on “stress overload” on the front landing gear. The main landing gear should touch down first in a normal landing; the nose-gear is not designed to absorb the entire weight of the airplane. The (NTSB) also found that “there was an exchange of control of the airplane [when it was below 400 feet] and the captain (FC) became the flying pilot (FC) and made the landing.”
(SWA) said it conducted an internal review and determined the captain (FC) should be dismissed. The first officer (FC) has been required to undergo additional training.
According to the (NTSB), the captain (FC) had been with Southwest (SWA) for almost 13 years, accumulating over 12,000 total flight hours, including more than >7,000 hours as pilot-in-command (FC).
(SWA) broke ground this month on a new, $156 million terminal at Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), from which it plans to launch international flights in late 2015.
November 2013: AirTran Airways (CQT) commenced operations on a total of 13 new routes on November 3rd, all of which are offered with at least daily frequencies. Atlanta (ATL) saw the most new routes launch in the course of last week, as AirTran Airways (CQT) added four new destinations to its offering there. Of those, all face competition from Delta Air Lines (DAL); additionally, parent company Southwest Airlines (SWA) also offers capacity on the route to Louisville (SDF). On some of these routes (CQT) is replacing (SWA), at least for now.
Atlanta (ATL) to Hartford (BDL), 21x weekly, vs Delta Air Lines (DAL) 43x weekly; to Louisville (SDF) 14x weekly vs (DAL) 54 weekly, & (SWA) 7x weekly; to Norfolk (ORF) 21x weekly vs (DAL) 47x weekly; to Oklahoma City (OKC) 14x weekly vs (DAL) 34x weekly; Baltimore/Washington (BWI) to Kansas City (MKC) 7x weekly; Chicago Midway (MDW) to (OKC) 14x weekly; Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Jacksonville (JAX) 7x weekly, vs (SWA) 7x weekly; Houston Hobby (HOU) to Indianapolis (IND) 14x weekly; to (MKC) 14x weekly; (JAX) to (ORF) 7x weekly; (MKC) to New Orleans (MSY) 28x weekly, vs (DAL)75x weekly; Milwaukee (MKE) to (MSY) 7x weekly; and Tampa (TPA) to Columbus (CMH) 7x weekly vs (SWA) 7x weekly, & (DAL) weekly.
November 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) will be the first USA airline to offer passengers gate-to-gate wi-fi service after gaining an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) throughout all phases of flight.
A majority of (SWA)’s fleet is outfitted with a Ku-band satellite wi-fi system from Global Eagle Entertainment's Row 44. In addition, (SWA) provides live television and on-demand content delivered to passengers’ portable devices. All of these services will be available without interruptions to passengers throughout the flight on small devices such as tablets and smartphones in “airplane mode.”
"We know this is something customers have wanted for some time now, and we're excited to give them the freedom to use personal devices while in the air and on the ground," said Kevin Krone, (SWA)’s Chief Marketing Officer.
(SWA) is one of the last major USA airlines to gain the approval for (PED) usage below 10,000 ft after the (FAA) updated its guidance to allow the expanded usage on October 31st. However, (SWA) is so far the only one among its peers to offer connectivity during the full duration of the flight. “Certainly, as the only domestic carrier with active satellite-based WiFi, [(SWA) has] yet again raised the bar, and we are proud to provide the service that will keep their passengers connected to the web, as well as allow them to use their portable electronic devices to access the entertainment they love through all phases of flight,” says Global Eagle Entertainment (CEO), John LaValle.
Many other USA carriers are outfitted with air-to-ground (ATG) technology offered through Gogo, which is certified for use on the ground but would require some changes to be used throughout the whole flight. The connectivity provider said earlier this month that (ATG) is engineered to work above >10,000ft and said it is exploring what it would look like to change that.
ViaSat has said that its Ka-band satellite system is certified and designed to work during take-off and landing, however, it has not yet been rolled out to passengers. The technology is expected to debut on a JetBlue (JBL) A320 in coming weeks and has also gained the approval for installation on United (UAL)’s 737s.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) and JetBlue (JBL) were the first airlines to gain (FAA) approvals to use (PED)s from gate to gate on November 1st. Since then, American Airlines (AAL), (UAL), US Airways (AMW)/(USA) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) have made similar approvals. Virgin America (VUS) has not yet announced its approval of gate-to-gate wi-fi but has said it is aiming to secure it before the busy holiday season.
December 2013: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has acquired 12 takeoff and landing slots (for six roundtrip flights) at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) being divested by American Airlines (AAL) as part of its merger with US Airways (AMW)/(USA).
In addition, (SWA) said it has gained permanent control of 10 takeoff and landing slots (for five roundtrip flights) that it currently operates under a lease from (AAL). It did not release details of the transaction.
(SWA) plans to begin new service at (LGA) in May 2014. Details of the new service will be available later this month.
(SWA) and its subsidiary, AirTran Airways (CQT) operate 27 daily roundtrip flights to and from (LGA) to eight nonstop destinations. The company said the acquired slots will allow the airlines to add six daily roundtrips.
(SWA) currently serves Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport. “These six additional roundtrips at (LGA) will strengthen (SWA)’s service to and from the New York City area,” (SWA) said.
(SWA) Executive VP & (CCO), Bob Jordan said, “We also look forward to bidding on the slots at Washington National Airport that (AAL) also is required to divest. That will be conducted as a separate process, and was not a part of this slot bid.”
(SWA) is reportedly planning to offer Caribbean and South American flights out of Fort Lauderdale International, once construction of a new USD 300 million terminal is completed. According to the "Sun Sentinel, (SWA) plans to add 25 international flights a day to the 70 domestic flights that it operates daily out of Fort Lauderdale. Construction is slated to begin in late 2014, with completion set for 2017. With the exception of San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin flights, (SWA)'s operations are currently restricted to the United States.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) could complete the phasing out of its fleet of seventy-nine 717-200s as early as the first quarter of 2015. The move would allow (SWA) to streamline its Flight Operations following its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT). However, it is claimed, the retirement won't affect the rate of introduction of the twinjets to Delta Air Lines (DAL) as the affected 717s will “remain inactive” after their retirement by (SWA) until (DAL) introduces them into service. (SWA) will replace the 717s with twelve additional 737-700s as well as 52 additional 737-800s due between 2014 and 2015.
(SWA) currently operates 691 airplanes to 2 countries, 89 destinations, on 3,286 routes and 2,400 daily flights.
January 2014: SEE ATTACHED - - "CQT-2014-01-2013 TOP WORLD AIRLINES-A/B).
Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported a 2013 net profit of +$754 million, up +79.1% over net income of +$421 million in 2012 and its 41st consecutive full-year net profit.
(SWA)'s 2013 revenue rose +3.6% year-over-year to $17.7 billion, while expenses decreased -0.3% to $16.42 billion, producing an operating profit of +$1.28 billion, more than doubling an operating profit of +$623 million in 2012.
Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said that (SWA) is “on track with our AirTran (CQT) integration, achieving approximately $400 million in annual net pre-tax synergies in 2013, as planned.” He noted that 17 of AirTran (CQT)’s 52 Boeing 737-700s have been converted to Southwest (SWA) branding and (SWA) service has replaced the 13 (CQT) 717-200s transitioned to Delta Air Lines (DAL) in 2013.
“Nine more 717s were removed from active service at year end 2013 and the remaining 66 717s are scheduled to be removed from the AirTran (CQT) network by the end of this year and transitioned to (DAL) through 2015,” Kelly said.
He added that the remaining 35 AirTran (CQT) 737-700s “are scheduled to be converted to (SWA) this year. We are pleased with the rapid improvement of our developing markets as we convert AirTran (CQT) routes into Southwest and optimize our combined networks.” (SWA) plans to “complete the (CQT) integration and retire the brand by the end of 2014,” Kelly said.
(SWA)’s 2013 traffic increased +1.4% year-over-year to 104.35 billion (RPM)s on a +1.7% lift in capacity to 130.34 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 80.1% LF, down -0.2 point. Passenger yield rose +2.4% to 16.02 cents.
(SWA) achieved a 13.1% return on invested capital for the full year before taxes and excluding special items. The company earned a 2013 fourth-quarter net profit of +$212 million, widened over +$78 million in net income in the 2012 December quarter. Fourth-quarter revenue increased +6.1% year-over-year to $4.43 billion.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will start service to Montego Bay in Jamaica, Nassau in the Bahamas and Aruba from July 1, marking the launch of international operations for the low-cost carrier (LCC) that has long focused on the USA domestic market.
The three Caribbean destinations will be converted from AirTran Airways (CQT) to (SWA)-branded flying as (SWA) continues the integration process following its acquisition of (CQT) in 2011. (SWA) plans to retire the "AirTran" brand entirely by the end of this year.
(SWA) said passengers can began booking the flights to the Caribbean destinations from January 27 “seamlessly” through (SWA)’s website.
(SWA) Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly called the sale of international flight tickets an “historic” moment for (SWA) that commenced operations in 1971.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has been provisionally approved for 27 new slot pairs at Washington National Airport (DCA), while JetBlue Airways (JBL) has received tentative clearance for 12 new (DCA) slot pairs.
The gains are part of the divestiture of (DCA) slot pairs agreed to by American Airlines (AAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) as part of settling the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust lawsuit against the carriers’ merger. That settlement called for the divestiture of 52 slot pairs at (DCA) by American (AAL)-US Airways (AMW)/(USA).
In addition to (JBL)’s 12 new slot pairs, (JBL) and (AAL) have reached an agreement under which (AAL) will permanently transfer to (JBL) eight (DCA) slot pairs owned by (AAL) that (JBL) has been operating on a temporary, leased basis since 2010. That leaves five slot pairs still available via the (AAL)-(AMW)/(USA) settlement agreement with the (DOJ).
(SWA), while the largest carrier at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) with 200 daily flights, currently has only a minimal presence at (DCA). (SWA) Executive VP and (CCO), Bob Jordan said last year that (SWA) would like to have a much stronger (DCA) presence to enable it to compete “more effectively” in the Washington DC market. “Details of [(SWA)’s] bid to acquire divested slots remain confidential under terms of the deal and are subject to final approval of the Department of Justice and completion of customary written agreements,” (SWA) said. “The additional slots will translate to an increase in (SWA)’s service at [DCA] from 17 daily departures to 44 daily departures. (SWA) plans to announce destinations, schedules, and fares for the additional flights later this quarter and anticipates it will begin flying in the third quarter of 2014.”
(JBL) said, “Once approved by the (DOJ), (JBL) expects to add 12 new round trip flights at Washington’s popular, close-in airport. (JBL) plans to introduce nonstop service to cities it does not currently serve from (DCA) as well as add more flights on some existing routes.”
New York-based (JBL) started service at (DCA) in 2010 and currently operates 18 daily flights from the airport to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa and San Juan, Puerto Rico. “With its new slots, (JBL) will operate up to 30 round trips per day at (DCA),” (JBL) said.
(JBL) Senior VP Government Affairs and Associate General Counsel, Rob Land added, “(JBL) has already had a major impact at [DCA] in just a few short years with its everyday low fares, such as in the key business market to Boston, where since our entry in 2010 average fares have been reduced -31% and traffic has nearly doubled, soaring +93%.”
(SWA) will add direct flights from its Dallas Love Field (DAL) base to 15 destinations in the 2014 fall after the Wright Amendment is officially repealed on October 13. The Wright Amendment is a USA federal law, in place since 1979, restricting airlines from operating long-distance flights from (DAL). Even with some adjustments made to the law in the 1990s, the Wright Amendment meant (SWA) has only been able to operate flights from (DAL) to other airports in Texas and states close to Texas for the past 34 years. Flights to 41 USA states from (DAL) are banned under the law. But all Wright Amendment restrictions will expire on October 13.
From October 13, (SWA) will add direct flights from (DAL) to Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Baltimore, and Chicago Midway. From November 2, (Swa) will add direct flights from (DAL) to Atlanta, Nashville, Washington National, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, Phoenix, San Diego, Orange County (California), and Tampa.
The 15 new destinations will expand (SWA)’s service from its base airport to 31 destinations from the 16 short-haul destinations, it currently serves from (DAL). “The official repeal of Wright Amendment federal flight restrictions signifies a turning point for the (SWA) brand not just in Dallas, but from coast-to-coast,” (SWA) President, Chairman & (CEO), Gary Kelly said. “We are pleased to offer this new service to the customers of our home airport, who have waited 34 long years.”
(SWA) said specific flight schedules to the new destinations from (DAL) will be announced in May. The announcement of the post-Wright Amendment destinations from (DAL) follows (SWA)’s recent announcement of its first three international destinations in the Caribbean.
The (SWA) international flights will include service from Atlanta to Aruba and Montego Bay; from Baltimore/Washington to Aruba, Nassau and Montego Bay; and from Orlando to Aruba and Montego Bay.
“Southwest Airlines (SWA) democratized the sky from our first flights more than four decades ago,” Kelly said. “Today’s milestone enables us to reach new territory, new customers, and build upon a four decade foundation of doing right by the travelers who trust our value.”
(SWA) is in the process of building its first dedicated international terminal at Houston Hobby Airport, a $156 million facility slated to open in late 2015.
INCDT: There were lots of raised eyebrows after a Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-700 somehow ended up at the wrong Missouri airport on Sunday evening, January 12th. Some of its passengers said there was a very hard landing followed by a smell of burning rubber, after which they were told they had landed at Taney County Airport, some seven miles from their planned destination of Branson Airport.
The (FAA) and the (NTSB) are investigating.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) is upgrading its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 airplanes with Split Scimitar Winglets from Aviation Partners Boeing (APB), (SWA) said on January 2nd. SEE ATTACHED - - "CQT-2014-01 - SPLIT SCIMITAR WINGLET."
(APB) developed the winglet using its existing blended winglet structure with new strengthened spars, aerodynamic scimitar tips and a large ventral strake. (FAA) certification of the new winglets is expected later this month.
"(SWA) is continuously searching for opportunities to reduce fuel consumption and to supplement our environmental stewardship," said Mike Van de Ven, (SWA) Executive VP & Chief Operating Officer (COO).
"(APB) has proven to offer superior technology that performs as promised and we are excited to introduce Split Scimitar Winglets on our 737-800 airplanes in 2014," said Van de Ven.
The airline ordered 85 winglets to retrofit a fleet of 52 737-800s. Pending (FAA) certification, the fleet should be retrofitted by early 2015.
February 2014: Route Network Update for AirTran Airways (CQT):
AirTran Airways ((IATA) Code: FL, based at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) (CQT) network changes:
Aruba - Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Aruba - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Aruba - Orlando International route will be terminated on June 28, 2014.
Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson - Aruba route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson - Montego Bay route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Aruba route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Montego Bay route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Nassau International route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Montego Bay - Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Montego Bay - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall route will be terminated on June 30, 2014.
Montego Bay - Orlando International route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Nassau International - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Orlando International - Aruba route will be terminated on June 28, 2014.
Orlando International - Montego Bay route will be terminated on June 29, 2014.
Route Network Update for Southwest Airlines (SWA):
Southwest Airlines ((IATA) Code: WN, based at Dallas Love Field) network changes:
New route: Aruba - Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Aruba - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Aruba - Orlando International starting July 5, 2014.
New route: Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson - Aruba starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson - Montego Bay starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Aruba starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Montego Bay starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Baltimore Thurgood Marshall - Nassau International starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Montego Bay - Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Montego Bay - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Montego Bay - Orlando International starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Nassau International - Baltimore Thurgood Marshall starting July 1, 2014.
New route: Orlando International - Aruba starting July 5, 2014.
New route: Orlando International - Montego Bay starting July 1, 2014.
March 2014: AirTran Airways (CQT), the subsidiary of Southwest Airlines (SWA), commenced its second route to Minneapolis St Paul (MSP) on March 8th, this time from Tampa, Florida (TPA), joining its existing four times daily flights from Atlanta, Georgia. The 2,103 km sector will be served weekly (Saturdays) until April 5th, utilizing (CQT)’s 117-seat 717-200s and faces extensive competition from Delta Air Lines (DAL)’s four daily flights, Spirit Airlines (SPR)’s daily services, and Sun Country Airlines (SCA)’s six weekly operations.
Southwest Airlines (SWA), the world’s largest low cost carrier (LCC), increased its domestic offering with the launch of four new services, all of which are operated weekly (Saturdays). With the longest route being the 2,585 km service from Fort Myers, Florida (RSW) to Denver, (DEN), and the shortest being inaugurated from Fort Myers (RSW) to Kansas City (MCI) at 1,860 km. (SWA) will face competition only on the Fort Myers to Denver route, from United Airlines (UAL)’s daily flights and Frontier Airlines (FRO)’s four weekly operations.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has announced it will double flights from Washington National Airport (DCA), including seven nonstop routes.
(SWA) has outlined its planned new Washington National operations following the acceptance of its bid by USA regulators. As reported previously, (SWA) won 54 slots at the Washington airport, allowing 27 additional daily flights.
In a press release, (SWA) announced it would launch the following new routes out of Washington National with effect from August 10: Chicago Midway, Nashville International, and New Orleans International. Effective November 2: Akron/Canton, Dallas Love Field, and Indianapolis International.
American Airlines (AAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) relinquished the slots as part of their anti-trust settlement with the USA Department of Justice (DOJ).
Southwest Airlines (SWA) will start service to two destinations in Mexico in August.
(SWA) previously announced it would fly to Montego Bay in Jamaica, Nassau in the Bahamas and Aruba from July 1, marking the first (SWA)-branded international flights. As with those destinations, flights to Cancun and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos in Mexico will be conversions from AirTran Airways (CQT)-branded flights.
(SWA) acquired AirTran (CQT) in 2011 and plans to completely retire the AirTran brand by the end of 2014.
The Mexican service, which can now be booked via (SWA)’s website, will include flights from Atlanta, Baltimore and Milwaukee to Cancun from August 10. The Milwaukee flights will operate on Saturdays only. Also from August 10, (SWA) will fly between Orange County (California) and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos.
From October 7th, (SWA) will operate daily, Denver - Cancun flights and from October 11th it will fly Saturday, Denver - San del Cabo/Los Cabos service. In addition, (SWA) will start a Saturday, Atlanta - Nassau service from August 10th.
For the second consecutive month, after 15 months of reported declines, full-time equivalent (FTE) employment at USA scheduled passenger airlines has registered a monthly increase year-over-year.
In February, USA scheduled passenger airlines employed 381,985 full-time workers, up +0.4% year-over-year, according to figures from the USA Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).
It was the third consecutive month in which full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs at USA scheduled passenger airlines increased year-over-year. The February total registers +1,571 more (FTE) jobs among USA scheduled passenger carriers than in February 2013.
Among the USA major/network carriers, year-over-year increases in February (FTE) jobs were seen at US Airways (AMW)/(USA) (up +3.6%), Alaska Airlines (ASA) (up +2.7%), American Airlines (AAL) (up +0.4%) and Delta Air Lines (DAL) (up +0.2%). United Airlines (UAL) reported losing -1.8% of its (FTE) positions year-over-year. Overall, the USA major/network carriers saw a +0.1% year-over-year increase in February (FTE) employees.
Hawaiian Airlines (HWI), a major carrier classified by (BTS) as an “other carrier” (airlines that operate within specific niche markets) reported a year-over-year February increase of +332 (FTE) positions, up +7.5%.
Overall, (FTE) positions at the major USA low-cost-carriers (LCCs) grew +0.7% year-over-year in February. Spirit Airlines (SPR) had the largest concentration of year-over-year growth, expanding its February (FTE) job count by +16.8%, to 3,534 (FTE) employees; Allegiant Air (WJE)’s monthly (FTE) job count grew as well, up +14.3% from February 2013, to 2.134 (FTE) employees. Increases also occurred at Virgin America (VUS) (up +6.7%) and JetBlue Airways (JBL) (up +4.9%). February (FTE) job declines were seen at Frontier Airlines (FRO) (down -7.4%) and Southwest Airlines (SWA) (down -1.7%).
Sun Country Airlines (SCA), a national carrier/(LCC) classified by (BTS) as an “other carrier,” registered a year-over-year February increase of +169 (FTE) positions, up +17.4%.
Ranked by (FTE) workforce, the top 10 passenger airlines for February were: United Airlines (UAL) (80,694 (FTE) employees), Delta Air Lines (DAL) (73,602), American Airlines (AAL) (59,699) (less US Airways (AMW)/(USA) - see later, Southwest (SWA) (45,091), US Airways (AMW)/(USA) (31,604), JetBlue Airways (JBL) (13,301), and Alaska Airlines (ASA) (10.192).
(SWA) operates 684 airplanes, and serves 6 countries, 94 destinations, 3,177 routes and 3,454 daily flights.
April 2014: Southwest Airlines (SWA) increased its domestic offering from San Diego, California (SAN) on April 8th, with the launch of daily flights to New Orleans, Louisiana (MSY). The 2,573 km sector will be operated utilizing the (LCC)’s 143-seat 737-700s. Furthermore, (SWA)’s 20th route from San Diego will face no competition from other carriers.
May 2014: AirTran Airways ((IATA) Code: FL, based at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) (CQT) will operate its last scheduled flight before it is fully absorbed into parent, Southwest Airlines ((IATA) Code: WN, based at Dallas Love Field) (SWA) on Sunday, December 28, 2014. Routed Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson to Tampa International, the final flight will operate as AirTran Flight #1 (Marketed as Southwest Flight #5001) and reprises the first flight (CQT) operated on October 26, 1993.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) announced its acquisition of AirTran Airways (CQT) in September 2010, and closed the transaction on May 2, 2011. Thereafter, the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded the firm a single air operating certificate (AOC) for the two carriers on March 1, 2012.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) named Craig Drew as VP Flight Operations.
Rocky Wiggins, Senior VP & Chief Information Officer (CIO) resigned to join Westjet (WJI), starting next month as Executive VP & (CIO).
June 2014: Southwest Airlines (SWA) began daily, Austin - Cancun service.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has selected Boeing Airplane Health Management (AHM) to enhance operational efficiency in its maintenance and engineering operations. (SWA) will use (AHM) to collect and evaluate airplane operations data while the airplane is in flight. This real-time data is used to signal ground operations crews of any potential maintenance issues before the airplane lands, minimizing flight schedule disruptions and maintenance-related delays.
(AHM) is a web-based system that captures data in real time from airplanes while in-flight and delivers it to airlines' ground operations through the MyBoeingFleet.com web portal. Access to data about oxygen pressure, engine condition and hydraulic fluid are among the parameters monitored using the Aircraft Communications Addressing & Reporting System (ACARS) through the installed Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS).
"In our trials with Airplane Health Management, we clearly saw how we would be able to reduce (and even avoid) unscheduled maintenance and ground time for our fleet," said Jim Sokol, VP Maintenance Operations, (SWA). "The predictive nature of this product allows us to proactively initiate planning for necessary repairs, even while an airplane is in flight. With this capability, we can mitigate schedule delays and help ensure on time arrivals and departures for our customers."
Boeing technical teams will work with (SWA) to facilitate initial deployment of the system for its Next-Generation 737s. (SWA) is Boeing's 66th customer for Airplane Health Management. "We expect to see an immediate cost benefit with the introduction of (AHM) to our next-generation 737 fleet," said Trevor Stedke, VP Technical Services, Southwest Airlines. "We're excited to work with Boeing (TBC) to take advantage of the full potential of this product and further leverage its capabilities to improve efficiency across our operations."
(BHM) is a powerful, data-driven capability used worldwide by airplane operators, and maintenance, repair & overhaul providers (MROs) to proactively manage the serviceability of airplanes and fleets. It is designed to interface with existing airplane systems and communication infrastructure, using state-of-the-art airplane and ground technology to address day-of-operation disruptions, help predict future operations events and prevent unplanned maintenance and schedule interruptions.
Airplane Health Management (AHM) is part of an integrated suite of aviation services marketed as the "Boeing Edge." These include parts, training, engineering, maintenance and software solutions that increase the efficiency and profitability of airlines and leasing companies. "Throughout the long relationship between Boeing (TBC) and (SWA), we have worked closely together to support ongoing focused efforts in applying state-of-the-art technology to solve day-of-operations issues," said Rick Anderson, VP Sales, Boeing Commercial Aviation Services (CAS). "We are very pleased to provide Digital Aviation solutions such as Boeing (AHM) to enhance and accelerate improvements in (SWA)'s operations with real-time data analysis, which gives our customers a competitive advantage."
(SWA) is an all-Boeing carrier and operates the largest 737 fleet of any airline. In 2011, (SWA) became the launch customer for the 737 MAX.
July 2014: Two Southwest Airlines (SWA) Boeing 737-700s departed Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) July 1st morning bound for the Caribbean, marking the first international flights in the 44-year history of (SWA). The first (SWA) 737 departing (BWI) headed for Aruba, while the second 737 headed for Montego Bay, Jamaica. (SWA) is beginning branded international flying to Aruba, Montego Bay, and Nassau in the Bahamas, and in August will add Mexican destinations Cancun and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos. All of the international destinations were previously operated to by AirTran Airways (CQT), which (SWA) acquired in 2011. (SWA) plans to completely retire the "AirTran" brand by the end of this year.
Chairman, President & (CEO) Gary Kelly said international flying will be “a modest component of (SWA)’s route system for the near future,” but could eventually make up 10% - 15% of (SWA)’s network. “We need to walk before we run, but we’re excited to get started” with international flights, he said.
July 2014: Southwest Airlines (SWA) posted a net profit of +$465 million for the second quarter, more than doubling net income of +$224 million in the prior-year quarter, and exceeded its pre-tax return on invested capital (ROIC) target for the 12 months ended June 30.
(SWA) has been endeavoring to return to the 15% or better pre-tax (ROIC) target it used to routinely hit in previous decades, but has struggled to achieve in recent years. “Over the last 12 months, our exceptional earnings performance, combined with our actions to prudently manage our invested capital, produced a 17.1% pre-tax return on invested capital, excluding special items,” Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly said. “This positions us well to meet or exceed our 15% pre-tax (ROIC) target for full year 2014.”
The 17.1% pre-tax (ROIC) for the 12 months ended June 30, marks a significant improvement over an 8.5% pre-tax (ROIC) for the 12 months ended June 30, 2013.
(SWA)’s second-quarter revenue totaled $5.01 billion, up +7.9% year-over-year, while expenses rose just +0.6% to $4.24 billion, producing an operating profit of+ $775 million, up +79% over operating income of $433 million in the 2013 June quarter. Second-quarter traffic increased +2.4% year-over-year to 28.59 billion (RPM)s, while capacity was cut -0.4% to 34.1 billion (ASM)s, producing a load factor of 83.9% LF, up +2.3 points. (RASM) rose +8.4% to 14.7 cents and passenger revenue yield increased +6% to 16.62 cents.
(SWA) added seven net airplanes during the second quarter and ended the period with 683 airplanes in its fleet. During the three-month period, it took delivery of 12 new Boeing 737-800s and three pre-owned 737-700s. It retired one 737-500 and removed seven AirTran Airways (CQT) 717-200s from service.
(SWA) plans to retire the AirTran (CQT) brand by the end of this year.
United Airlines (UAL) said its application for seasonal service to Mexico still will leave one available designation for another USA carrier to serve the routes, thereby dismissing Southwest Airlines (SWA)’s letter of support for (UAL)’s application. At issue are two routes to Mexico — Houston - Puerto Vallarta and - San Jose del Cabo (for which (UAL) has applied for permission from the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin operating November 1). (UAL) is applying for the routes with SkyWest, which will replace the ExpressJet regional service that currently holds the designation.
By the terms of the USA - Mexico bilateral air services agreement, the two governments can designate a limited number of carriers to serve any given city pair between the two countries. (SWA) argued in May that although it does not currently operate these routes, it might do so in the future. (SWA) supported (UAL)’s application with the proviso that the (DOT) should require United (UAL) to surrender one of its designations on each route should (SWA) (or another USA carrier) express an interest in the routes.
In a filing before the (DOT), (UAL) said (SWA)’s request was “without merit.” (UAL) argued that even if the (DOT) grants it the route authorities, there will be one available designation on each route, and “(SWA) is well aware” of this. “[(UAL) and SkyWest] made clear that SkyWest’s United Express service would simply replace the existing ExpressJet United Express service on these routes and that no additional designations would be required.”
(UAL) added that (SWA)’s request does not apply yet. “Moreover, (SWA) has no immediate intent to serve these routes.” However, (SWA) late last month raised concerns about when ExpressJet would return the designation it currently holds and said then the decision was entirely “within (UAL)’s discretion.” Although (SWA) does not now serve the routes, (SWA) said it is likely to be interested “within the next year or so.”
Southwest Airlines (SWA) is the #1 carrier in California! - - SEE ATTACHED - - "SWA-TOP 15 AIRLINES IN CALIFORNIA-2014-07."
Analysis of schedule data for July 2014 confirms that (SWA) is the leading airline operating at airports in California, ahead of United Airlines (UAL). Alaska Airlines (ASA) is an impressive fifth, ahead of US Airways (AMW)/(USA), with California-based, Virgin America (VUS) in seventh place ahead of JetBlue Airways (JBL). Air Canada (ACN) is the leading foreign carrier (highlighted in bright green) in ninth place, while two Mexican carriers just make the top 15 as well. Three LCCs (Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines) all make the top 15 but have a combined seat market share of just 2.3%.
Since last July, Phoenix has overtaken Las Vegas to be the leading airport served from airports in California. With seat growth of over >13% compared with a year ago, it is even possible that Seattle-Tacoma may pass both Phoenix and Las Vegas to become the leading route, as Delta Air Lines (DAL) continues to ramp up its operations there to feed its Asian network. Among the top 15 destinations from California are four ‘domestic’ airports within California (highlighted in bright green ON THE ATTACHED - - :SWA-2014-07-TOP 15 ROUTES FROM CALIFORNIA"). Three of these have seen a reduction in capacity since last July.
Last year, California’s airports (SEE ATTACHED - - "SWA-2014-07-TOP CALIFORNIA AIRPORTS") handled an estimated 183 million passengers. For comparison, this is more than passed through all Italian airports (144 million), or French airports (161 million), but slightly less than the 187 million passengers processed at all Spanish airports in 2013. The state’s top 12 airports all handled more than one million passengers, with Los Angeles currently ranked at number six in the world, and number three in the USA behind Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare. San Francisco with 45 million passengers ranked 22nd in the world last year.
(SWA) has announced changes in its executive leadership. (SWA) VP Ground Operations, Jack Smith is being promoted to Senior VP Operations. (SWA) Managing Director Ground Operations, Steve Goldberg is being promoted to VP Ground Operations. (SWA)’s longtime VP Maintenance Operations, Jim Sokol will retire, effective September 15. Landon Nitschke, currently Senior Director of Maintenance, will succeed Sokol as VP Maintenance Operations. All promotions are effective July 1.
(GE) Aviation (GEC) has reached a deal with Southwest Airlines (SWA) to expand its OnPoint solution agreement to cover a total of 196 (CFM56-7B)s on Boeing 737-800s and up to 100 (CFM56-7B)s on 737-700s.
The (FAA) announced in a press release it was proposing a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for failing to comply with (FAA) regulations in three separate enforcement cases related to repairs on its 737s.
The (FAA) said it “alleged that beginning in 2006, (SWA) conducted so-called ‘extreme makeover’ alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The (FAA) conducted an investigation that included both (SWA) and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services (ATS) (BFG) of Everett, Washington. Investigators determined that (ATS) (BFG) failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these airplanes. (FAA) investigators also determined that (ATS) (BFG) failed to follow required procedures for placing the airplanes on jacks and stabilizing them. All of the work was done under the supervision of (SWA), which was responsible for ensuring that procedures were properly followed.”
The (FAA) alleged “(SWA) returned the jetliners to service and operated them when they were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s. The regulatory violations charged involve numerous flights that occurred in 2009 after the (FAA) put (SWA) on notice that these airplanes were not in compliance with either (FAA) Airworthiness Directives (AD)s or alternate, (FAA)-approved methods of complying with the (AD)s. The (FAA) later approved the repairs after (SWA) provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards.”
During its investigation, the (FAA) said it “found that (ATS) (BFG) workers applied sealant beneath the new skin panels, but did not install fasteners in all of the rivet holes during the timeframe for the sealant to be effective. This could have resulted in gaps between the skin and the surface to which it was being mounted. Such gaps could allow moisture to penetrate the skin and lead to corrosion. As a result of the improper repairs, these airplanes did not comply with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s.”
The (FAA) also “alleged that (ATS) (BFG) personnel failed to follow requirements to properly place these airplanes on jacks and shore them up while the work was being performed. If a plane is shored improperly during skin replacement, the airframe could shift and lead to subsequent problems with the new skin.”
In the third case, “the (FAA) alleged that (SWA) failed to properly install a ground wire on water drain masts on two of its Boeing 737s in response to an (FAA) (AD) addressing lightning strikes on these components. As a result, the airplanes were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s. The airplanes were each operated on more than >20 passenger flights, after (SWA) became aware of the discrepancies, but before (SWA) corrected the problem.”
(SWA) Communications Director, Brandy King said: “The (FAA) letter includes repair issues that were addressed several years ago. The press release and letter issued by the (FAA) are not assessments of a fine (they are proposed), and (SWA) will respond to the (FAA) allegations in accordance with applicable procedures. Having fully resolved the repair issues some time ago, none of the items raised in the (FAA) letter affect airplanes currently being operated by (SWA). Safety is paramount, and we always strive for full compliance with established and approved processes and procedures. As always, (SWA) is committed to continuously making enhancements to our internal procedures, as well as improvements related to oversight of our repair vendors. This continuous improvement has helped bolster (SWA)’s maintenance program, continuing our safety commitment for every (SWA) employee in all aspects of our operations.”
Later, however, (SWA) was fined $12 million by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for making faulty repairs to its Boeing 737 passenger jets and the unsafe transport of hazardous materials on commercial flights. Beginning in 2006, the Dallas, (SWA) conducted so-called “extreme makeover” alterations to eliminate potential cracking of aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. But investigators determined the airline and its contractor (Aviation Technical Services (ATS) (BFG)) failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins, among others.
(SWA)’ problems, however, are not confined to repairs. Jeffrey Bondurant, a former (SWA) Cargo Manager, was allegedly fired for bringing to light (SWA)’s unsafe transportation of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes. Improperly packaged lithium ion batteries have resulted in fires that have downed cargo planes and killed flight crew (FC) members, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
(SWA) has 30 days from the receipt of the (FAA)’s Civil Penalty letter to respond to the allegations and negotiate fines.
August 2014: Southwest Airlines (SWA) is revealing where it plans to fly in Mexico, through filings with the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) that support (or at least do not object to) another airline’s plans in that country.
But the objection comes with caveats. United Airlines (UAL) has applied for an exemption that would allow SkyWest, operating as United Express, to fly between Houston and Mexico City. (UAL) and its code share partner, ExpressJet already have authority to fly the route, and (UAL) has asked the (DOT) to substitute SkyWest for ExpressJet.
The USA - Mexico bilateral air services agreement stipulates that each country may designate two carriers to serve that route. If the SkyWest exemption is granted, (UAL) can continue to hold both slots, operating both mainline and regional partner flights, between the two cities.
In its filing with the (DOT) on August 14, (SWA) said it does not object to (UAL)’s application “at this time,” because (SWA) is not currently seeking to serve that route. But that could change, (SWA) said. “(SWA) urges the department to put [(UAL) and SkyWest] on notice, that their authority and corresponding USA carrier designations in this market are subject to being rescinded, if (SWA) were to actively seek competing authority to serve the Houston - (MEX) market.” (SWA) could seek the authority in 2015, before (UAL)’s two-year exemption expires.
(SWA) said its new international terminal at Houston Hobby Airport should be open by the fourth quarter of next year, at which point, (SWA) will seek “to offer a broad range of competitive USA carrier services from Houston to points in Mexico, as well as destinations in the Caribbean and South America.”
(SWA) cites longstanding (DOT) precedent to reallocate limited Mexico route authorities to new entrant carriers. In fact, the (DOT) ruled that (UAL) will have to surrender a Houston - Leon route authority, for which it and SkyWest applied for exemptions, should another carrier desire to serve that route. (SWA) signaled its intent for future service between Houston and Leon earlier this year.
The USA and Mexico have been negotiating the bilateral agreement, first ratified in 1960, and amended in 2005, but an "open-skies" deal remains elusive. (SWA), among other carriers, has expressed hope that the treaty will be liberalized.
Although (SWA) operates international flights, it inherited through its merger with AirTran Airways, (SWA) launched its first international flights on its own airplanes last month with flights to the Caribbean, and began operating flights to Mexico, earlier this month.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) expanded its network with the addition of five new routes, all of which were launched on August 10th using the low-cost carrier (LCC)’s 143Y-seat 737-700s. With the longest sector being the 2,235 km airport pair from Baltimore/Washington (BWI) to Cancun (CUN) in Mexico, (SWA) will face competition on just three of the five new additions from Delta Air Lines (DAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA). In fact, the two links to Mexico are replacing the former AirTran Airways (CQT) operations. Also noteworthy is the fact that (SWA) expanded its presence at Washington Reagan (DCA) with three routes, served by an average weekly frequency of almost 26. (SWA) is also planning to increase its frequency on the 967 km route to Chicago Midway (MDW) to nine times daily starting from September 30th.
(SWA) which in the previous week expanded in Washington and headed to Mexico, continued to replace AirTran Airways (CQT) operations on August 16th with two more airport pairs, both of which are operated weekly (Saturdays) using (SWA)’s 143-seat 737-700s. (SWA) inaugurated operations on the 1,167 km route from Atlanta (ATL) to Nassau (NAS) in the Bahamas, a sector served by Delta Air Lines (DAL) (29 times weekly). In fact, Nassau is already served daily by (SWA) from Baltimore/Washington. In addition, (SWA) added its third route to Cancun (CUN) with flights from Milwaukee (MKE), an airport pair not flown by any other airline. (SWA) is currently operating to the Mexican city with nine weekly services from Baltimore/Washington and eight weekly operations from Atlanta as of August 10th.
(SWA) sees “plenty” of opportunity for expansion in the north of South America with its existing fleet of Boeing 737s and will begin increasing its international service from Fort Lauderdale, Florida by 2017 or 2018.
(TIMCO) Aviation Services (ASC), a subsidiary of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), has named Jim Sokol as President of (MRO) Services. Jim has 33 years of experience in the airplane maintenance industry, most recently as VP Maintenance Operations for Southwest Airlines (SWA).
September 2014: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has unveiled a new logo and brand overhaul (named "Heart") - - SEE ATTACHED - - "CQT-2014-09 - NEW SWA LIVERY AND LOGO." which it said puts (SWA)’s heart on display after a year of change for (SWA). “It’s a big year for (SWA), as (SWA) introduces its legendary brand to international destinations; the repeal of the Wright Amendment is within sight; and the integration of AirTran Airways (CQT) operations is on track to be completed later this year. (SWA) continues to evolve, serving more than >90 destinations, and expanding its footprint in big markets like New York City and Washington DC,” (SWA) said.
“With all these exciting changes happening, we thought it was time for a new visual expression of our brand (one that marries our past to our present and sets the course for where we're headed in the future),” (SWA) (CEO), Gary Kelly said.
“The job wasn’t to change who we are,” (SWA) VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Kevin Krone said. “We already know who we are. The job was to keep the elements of (SWA) that our employees and customers love, and to make them a bold, modern expression of our future.”
(SWA) said the approach and focus with this launch has been with the intent to remain cost-neutral by using a phased rollout. Airplanes will receive the newly painted livery within the airplane’s existing repainting schedule, with new airplanes delivered in the new Heart livery. In addition, many of the future airport conversions will be integrated into existing and upcoming airport improvement projects.
Click here to view a video of the new look: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7316751-southwest-airlines-unveils-new-heart-look-logo-livery-airport-experience/
SEE ATTACHED - - "CQT-2014-09 - NEW (SWA) PAINT JOB."
(SWA) (which just revealed a new logo and brand overhaul) is committed to keeping fares low. But in order to do so, it must cut costs, with the bulk of those cost savings coming out of labor. (CEO), Gary Kelly remains adamantly opposed to baggage fees.
Future growth in (SWA)’s network will come from its growing number of international routes, and (SWA) sees potential in 50 “dots,” or new destinations, within reach of its current fleet of Boeing 737s.
(SWA) evaluates new international service through a number of criteria, asking whether a market is underserved, whether the population is affluent enough to support air service, and if the right infrastructure is in place, (SWA) VP Network Planning & Performance, Andrew Watterson said.
By these criteria, (SWA) has a short list of about 50 destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and the north of South America (all within 737 range). Details on what cities the carrier may target, remain unclear, although it has indicated a few cities in Mexico, including Leon and Mexico City earlier this year, through filings with the USA Department of Transportation.
One country within range has not risen to the short list, and that’s Canada, Watterson said. By most of the measures listed above, Canada is attractive, but the Crown Rents, Canadian airports must pay, and which they pass onto airlines through fees, would make it difficult to maintain Southwest (SWA)’s low fares, he said.
Watterson sees most growth coming from new international routes. “We are closer to the end than the beginning” for new routes in the USA, he said. Cincinnati, de-hubbed by Delta Air Lines (DAL), is the largest city (SWA) does not serve currently, and although Watterson said only that (SWA) is “considering” the market.
The AirTran Airways (CQT) acquisition gave (SWA) more access to LaGuardia Airport and Washington National Airport, giving (SWA) the opportunity to target higher-yielding business travelers. “East of the Mississippi, we were seen as a leisure carrier, but in the West, we are thought of as both a business and leisure airline,” Watterson said.
(SWA) is trying to change how it is perceived in the East Coast by adjusting its schedule to be of more utility to the business traveler. Through the AirTran (CQT) acquisition, and from buying slots at Washington National, American Airlines (AAL) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) had to divest as a condition of their merger, (SWA) now is the second-largest carrier at the airport.
(SWA) also is adjusting its schedule at Dallas Love Field in advance of the October expiration of the Wright Amendment, which restricts long-haul flights from the airport. Some short-haul flights will be trimmed from the Love Field schedule to allow more long-haul flights. “We have chosen a broad network out of Dallas,” Watterson said. “We didn’t go super deep in any particular market.
About 150 flights per day from Love Field is “right,” (CEO), Gary Kelly said. Love Field, although important to (SWA)’s history, will never be the size of Chicago Midway Airport or Baltimore Washington International Airport, two of (SWA)’s largest bases, Kelly said.
Southwest Airlines ((IATA) Code: WN, based at Dallas Love Field) (SWA) will commence international services out of Houston Hobby next year with the launch of a weekly flight to Aruba on March 7. At present, (SWA) operates an extensive domestic USA-based network out of Houston Hobby with San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin, its only destination outside the mainland United States.
(SWA) currently operates 692 airplanes and travels to 7 countries and 93 destinations, on 3,107 routes and 3,330 daily flights.
See video on (SWA) new livery.
October 2014: News Item A.1: Southwest Airlines (SWA), the world's largest low-cost carrier (LCC), owns a fleet of almost 700 airplanes, serving more domestic passengers than any other USA airline, with a unique offering of low fares, without any annoying extra fees. (SWA) has been a legendary growth story, being profitable for 42 consecutive years. From three jet airplanes in 1971, (SWA) grew to 70 by 1985, and was flying more than >400 airplanes by the middle of the last decade. But aside from the US$1.4 billion purchase of AirTran Airways (CQT) in 2011, (SWA) has hardly grown in recent years. In 2013, (SWA) reported the full year net income of +US$754 million, or US$1.05 per diluted share, which exceeded the figure before the economic crisis in 2007. SEE ATTACHED CHART SHOWING NET PROFIT AND OPERATING REVENUE OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS - - "CQT-2014-10 - SWA NET PROFIT LAST 10 YEARS."
News Item A.2: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has further expanded its USA domestic offering with the addition of its 12th route from Washington Reagan (DCA) on September 30th, this time to Tampa, Florida (TPA). The 1,310 km sector is already served by US Airways (AMW)/(USA)’s 34 weekly services and JetBlue Airways (JBL)'s twice-daily flights. Nevertheless, (SWA) will operate twice-daily services on the new airport pair, utilizing its 143-seat 737-700s.
Documents filed by Southwest Airlines (SWA) and American Airlines (AAL)s objecting to JetBlue Airways (JBL)’s proposed Jacksonville, Florida (JAX) - Washington National (DCA) service show just how contentious the battle for valuable slots at the close-in Washington airport can be.
News Item A.3: Southwest Airlines (SWA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) (representing (SWA)’s approximately 6,000 customer service agents and customer support and services representatives) have reached a tentative agreement for a new four-year contract. The current contract became amendable in October 2012.
In the upcoming weeks, the (IAM) membership will be given the full details of the agreement and vote on ratification.
SEE FOLLOWING VIDEO - - SWA SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT - -
November 2014: News Item A-1: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has launched (SWA)-branded flights to Punta Cana and Mexico City, in a step closer to its integration with AirTran Airways (CQT). All international flights on (CQT)’s seven cities outside the USA and its nine USA gateway cities are flown by (SWA).
(SWA) continued to expand rapidly, adding a total of +20 routes on November 2nd. While the majority of the new additions have been taken over from its AirTran Airways (CQT) subsidiary, as part of their merger, (SWA) has also commenced a further eight new links from Dallas Love Field (DAL), following the recent abolition of the Wright Amendment. Notably, the average weekly frequency across the 20 new routes is 11.8. With the longest sector being the 3,626 km route from Washington Dulles (IAD) to San Diego (SAN), and the shortest being inaugurated from Washington Dulles, VA (IAD) to Akron/Canton, Ohio (CAK) at 441 km, (SWA) will face direct competition on half of the newly launched routes:
Atlanta (ATL) to Punta Cana (PUJ), 8x weekly vs Delta Airlines 15x;
Austin-Bergstrom, Texas to Cancun (CUN) 7x vs United Airlines 1x;
Baltimore/Washington (BWI) to (PUJ) 8x VS Frontier Airlines 2x;
Chicago Midway (MDW) to (CUN) 14x; to Montego Bay (MBJ) 7x; to (PUJ) 8x.
Dallas Love Field (DAL) to Atlanta (TL) 26x, vs Delta Air Lines 32x, to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) 14x; to Nashville (BNA) 14x; to NY LaGuardia (LGA) 20x; to Orange County (SNA) 7x; to Phoenix (PHX) 27x; to San Diego 14x; and to Tampa (TPA) 14.
Orange County (SNA) to Mexico City (MEX) 7x.
San Antonio (SAT) to (MEX) 7x vs Interjet (AAE) 12x, & Aeromexico (AMX) 9x.
Washington Dulles (IAD), to Las Vegas (LAS) 7x, vs (UAL) 13x; (FRO) 4x; to San Diego (SAN) 6x, vs (UAL) 30x; to Akron/Canton (CAK) 7x vs
US Airways (AMW)/(USA); to Indianapolis (IND) 14x vs (AMW/(USA) 40x.
Reservations and frequent flyer services are now performed by Southwest.com. The integration of the two carriers will be completed December 28, 2014.
New services for Dallas Love Field - San Francisco and - Oakland begin January 6, 2015.
News Item A-2: Southwest Airlines (SWA) could be planning a competitive response to Spirit Airlines (SPR)’s recent decision to add seven new routes to Mexico and Central America from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
News Item A-3: The federal government is suing Southwest Airlines (SWA) after failing to reach a settlement with (SWA) over allegations that repairs to dozens of planes didn't meet safety standards.
The Justice Department sued (SWA) on Monday November 3rd in the federal district court in Washington state. The lawsuit seeks to enforce $12 million in civil penalties that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced in late July.
The government says that starting in 2006, (SWA) hired a contractor to make extensive repairs on 44 planes to prevent the aluminum skin from cracking. The (FAA) says the contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc (ATS) (BFG) of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures.
"We dispute the (FAA)'s allegations and look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend (SWA)'s record in a court of law," (SWA) spokeswoman, Brandy King said.
The (SWA) case is the second-largest penalty that the (FAA) has ever sought against an airline, behind only a $24.2 million case against American Airlines (AAL).
Typically, airlines negotiate with the (FAA) to reduce the penalties. The (FAA) hit (SWA) with $10.2 million in penalties in 2008, and that case was settled a year later for $7.5 million. The government's decision to sue (SWA) barely three months after announcing the most recent penalty, indicated the wide gap between the two sides.
The most serious allegation in the current case involves replacement of parts of the fuselages on 44 planes. The (FAA) said Aviation Technical Services (BFG) workers under (SWA)'s supervision put sealant under the new skin panels but didn't install all the rivets fast enough for the sealant to be most effective, which could create gaps for moisture to penetrate and cause corrosion.
(SWA) returned the planes to service in 2009 and kept flying some of them for months after the (FAA) warned (SWA) of the improper repairs, the (FAA) said. Regulators approved later repairs.
December 2014: News Item A-1: Southwest Airlines (SWA) is the recipient of the Air Transport World (ATW) "2015 Airline of the Year Award."
Other winners of the 41st Airline Industry Achievement Awards include Air Astana (AKZ) (Airline Market Leader of the Year); Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) (Regional Airline of the Year); Spirit Airlines (SPR) (Value Airline of the Year); Lufthansa (DLH) (Eco-Airline of the Year); Boeing (TBC) (Eco-Company of the Year); London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal, and Star (SAL) Alliance (Airport of the Year); and L-3 Link Simulation & Training (Aviation Technology Achievement).
In selecting (SWA) as "Airline of the Year," (ATW) Editors cited the USA carrier’s extraordinary and consistent standards of service, financial performance, safety, and environmental and corporate responsibility. In particular, for the first time in 14 years, (SWA) achieved its 15% return on invested capital target, before taxes and excluding special items, reporting 17.1% for the 12 months ended June 30, 2014. (SWA) remains the world’s only airline that can claim 41 consecutive years of profitability. And it has maintained the highest of standards through its merger-acquisition with AirTran Airways (CQT), marking (SWA)’s transition to serving international destinations.
“(CEO), Gary Kelly’s leadership has allowed (SWA) to become the USA’s largest in terms of originating domestic passengers, as well as one of the world’s safest airlines. With Gary at the helm, (SWA) said goodbye to the Wright Amendment and hello to international destinations (massive milestones). All of this, while delivering a financial performance that is the envy of airlines worldwide, and customer service that is renowned for its hospitality. I sincerely congratulate Gary and the entire (SWA) team,” (ATW) Editor-in-Chief Karen Walker said.
“On behalf of the People of Southwest Airlines (SWA), I am delighted that our airline has been selected by (ATW) as Airline of the Year,” (SWA) Chairman, President, & (CEO), Gary Kelly said. “This is a prestigious honor, and I am proud for all of our employees. They have done an extraordinary job transforming (SWA) over the past decade, which culminated in a record and historic 2014 performance. Because of their Warrior Spirits, (SWA) now flies to international destinations; Dallas Love Field has been set free from the Wright Amendment; AirTran (CQT) will be fully integrated in just days; and "LUV" has reached lifetime highs. We celebrated this year with a bold new look to our brand and airplane livery. This award is, truly, icing on the cake!”
News Item A-2: The final AirTran Airways (CQT)-branded flight operated from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Tampa Bay International Airport, formally completing the 2011 Southwest Airlines (SWA) - AirTran (CQT) merger.
(SWA) acquired Orlando-based, AirTran (CQT) for $1.4 billion in cash and (SWA) common stock in 2011 in a deal that brought together the world's largest low-cost carrier (LCC) with the third largest (LCC) in North America. AirTran (CQT) was only about 25% of (SWA)’s size, but had strengths at airports where (SWA) had little-to-no presence and also enabled (SWA) to venture into international flying for the first time.
“The acquisition of (CQT) was a unique opportunity to extend the (SWA) network into key markets it didn’t yet serve, such as Atlanta and the greater Washington DC area, via Ronald Reagan National Airport,” (SWA) said.
(SWA) President, Chairman & (CEO), Gary Kelly said earlier this month that (SWA)’s decision to slowly re-brand (CQT) flights as (SWA) flights was critical to the merger being “a tremendous success” with no major integration or operational problems. “We didn’t do a hard cutover,” he explained. “We did it gradually over a two- to three-year time period.”
The last 18 AirTran (CQT) Boeing 737s will be temporarily taken out of service to be converted into (SWA) airplanes in early 2015, according to Kelly. (SWA) is close to finishing the process of transferring 88 AirTran (CQT) 717s to Delta Air Lines (DAL).
News Item A-3: Southwest Airlines (SWA) could be planning a competitive response to Spirit Airlines (SPR)’s recent decision to add seven new routes to Mexico and Central America from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) plans to operate Boeing 737 flights starting in late 2015 from its new Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) international terminal to four destinations in Mexico as well as San Jose, Costa Rica, and Belize City, Belize.
(SWA) has filed applications with the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate the routes from (HOU). The $156 million (HOU) facility, slated to open in the 2015 autumn, will be (SWA)’s first terminal dedicated to international flights. (SWA), which began operating branded international flights for the first time this year, currently operates to seven international destinations as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico.
None of (SWA)’s current international flights retain the AirTran Airways (CQT) brand, which still exists on some domestic flights but will be retired completely after December 28. The Mexican destinations (SWA) plans to serve from (HOU) are Mexico City, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos. (SWA) will begin Aruba flights from (HOU) in March 2015 before completion of the international terminal. This is possible because there is a USA customs pre-clearance facility in Aruba.
Southwest (SWA) currently operates to 93 total destinations and believes there are 50 potential destinations it could add, “virtually all of them outside the 48 states” of the continental USA, Chairman, President & (CEO) Gary Kelly said.
Belize City will be the third new destination added to (SWA)’s network in 2015, following San Jose, Costa Rica (which it will serve from Baltimore/Washington International Airport starting March 7) and Puerto Vallarta (which it will serve from Orange County Wayne Airport starting June 7).
Kelly said (SWA) is eyeing a fourth addition to its network in 2015, but won’t announce the destination until next year. He noted that passengers flying on (SWA)’s international flights are “mostly USA citizens traveling for leisure.” International flying currently makes up about 1% to 1.5% of (SWA)’s capacity, Kelly said.
(SWA) will start daily flights between Austin, Texas, and St Louis from June 28, 2015. (SWA) is Lambert - St Louis International Airport’s biggest operator with more than >90 daily flights to 35 cities.
News Item A-4: "Rare good ‘shock’ for airlines" by Air Transport World (ATW)'s Aaron Karp in his AirKarp Blog:
Southwest Airlines (SWA) expects per gallon jet fuel prices to be as low as $2.30 in 2015. Airlines have learned to expect the unexpected, but usually the “shock” is bad news leading to carriers’ bottom lines taking a hit. But a rare surprise has occurred in recent months that likely will result in airlines making more money: the relatively sudden and steep drop in oil prices.
“I quite frankly was taken by surprise by the decline in oil prices,” (SWA) Chairman, President & (CEO), Gary Kelly told The Wings Club in New York.
Dropping oil prices played a large part in (IATA) boosting the projected 2014 collective net profit of the world’s airlines by +10.6% compared to its June forecast. And (IATA) is forecasting a more than >25% year-over-year increase in airline net profits in 2015.
Kelly said he expects per gallon jet fuel prices to be as low as $2.30 in 2015, but cautioned that things could change quickly. “I don’t think we’ve ever anointed ourselves the czars or seers of what the future is,” he said, adding that “the fundamental question to answer” regarding the airline industry in 2015 is “where are fuel prices going to be? Nobody knows.”
Noting that the recent drop has been both surprising and fast, Kelly warned, “Logic tells you the opposite can happen and we certainly have to be prepared for that.”
According to its third-quarter financial release, (SWA) has about 40% of its fuel consumption hedged for 2015, 2016 and 2017, though the company is exploring adjustments to its fuel hedging contracts. Kelly acknowledged (SWA) is not getting the full benefits of lower oil prices because of its hedging program, but he said its 2014 “fuel bill all-in, including hedging, will be down dramatically” compared to 2013.
Fuel hedging has benefited (SWA) in the past and Kelly said he doesn’t regret hedging even when oil prices dip unexpectedly. “Hedging is not intended to be a money-maker,” he said, calling it a form of “insurance” that, like all insurance, comes with a cost. “Our hedging program is designed to prevent catastrophe,” he explained.
Kelly said the bottom line is that fuel is one-third of an airline’s costs and “with these oil prices, if they continue, our operating costs will be lower than we thought they would be and lower than they have been the last couple of years.”
Airplane manufacturers and aircraft engine producers have used the high fuel cost environment of recent years to promote (and sell a large number of) fuel-efficient airplanes to airlines. Boeing (TBC) Chairman, President & (CEO), Jim McNerney said in October that he doesn’t think falling oil prices will diminish airlines’ huge appetite for fuel-efficient airplanes such as the 787 and 737 MAX. “Our analysis is the price of oil could fall a long way before our planes are anything but compelling,” he said, adding that fuel costs would have to drop “a long way before you see even incremental impact” on airplane sales.
News Item A-5: The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) (representing Southwest Airlines (SWA)’s approximately 6,000 customer service agents and customer support and services representatives) have ratified a new four-year contract.
According to (SWA), the agreement includes pay increases, as well as bonus opportunities that are tied to company and employee performance.
(SWA) Senior VP Labor Relations, Randy Babbitt said, “With the ratification coming before the end of the year, our (IAM) Employees will benefit from (SWA)'s outstanding 2014 financial accomplishments.”
(SWA) said it is approximately 83% unionized and actively engaged in negotiations with six out of its 12 unions.
Click below for photos:
CQT-737-800 - SWA-2013-04
00 717-2BD (BR715) (5005-55004, /99 N940AT; 5006-55005, /99 N942AT "ESPRIT DE CORPS;" 5007-55006, /99 N943AT; 5008-55007, /99 N944AT; 5009-55008, /99 N945AT; 501O-55009, /99 N946AT, 5021-55013, /00 N951AT; 5027-55014, /00 N952AT, 5136-55045, /04 N893AT; 5139-55047, /05 N895AT; 5143-55049, /05 N899AT; 5144-55050, /05 N922AT; 5148-55051, /05 N923AT, 5150-55052, /05 N983AT; 5155-55098, /06 N938AT; 5156-55099, /06 N939AT), AVBORNE MAINT, ALL 60 717 AIRPLANES TO DELTA (DAL). 12C, 105Y.
0 717-22A (BR715) (5074-55127, /01 N603AT; 5079-55128, /01 N604AT), (TBC) LSD 2004-03. BOTH TRANSFERRED TO (DAL). 12C, 105Y.
4 717-23S (BR715) (5065-55068, /01 N988AT; 5085-55152, /01 N989AT; 5088-55134, /01 N990AT; 5090-55135, /01 N991AT), (PEB) LSD. (ALL 4 TRANSFERRED TO (DAL). 12C, 105Y.
12 717-231 (BR715) (5017-55058, /00 N936AT; 5019-55069, /00 N9356AT; 5022-55070, /00N934AT; 5024-55071, /00 N933AT; 5025-55072, /00 N930AT; 5028-55073, /00 N932AT; 5032-55075, /00 N929AT, 2003-09; 5035-55076, /00 N928AT; 5038-55077, /00 N927AT; 5039-55078, /00 N926AT; 5042-55079, /00 N925AT; 5043-55080, /00 N924AT). 12C, 105Y.
10 717-231 (BR715) (5046-55082, /00 N921AT, 2003-03; 5049-55083, /01 N921AT; 5052-55084, /01 N919AT, 2003-01; 5055-55085, /01N815AT; 5056-55086, /01 N910AT; 5060-55087, /01 N906AT, 2003-03; 5063-55088, /01 N987AT 2003-01; 5067-55089, N986AT 2003-02; 5068-55090, /01 N985AT; 5075-55091, /01 N937AT), (TBC) LSD. 12C, 105Y.
0 737-200 (JT8D-9AH HK) (737-2L9: 479-21278) (22055 TO (WJI) 1999-10), 4 RETIRED END OF 1999. 22631 PARTED OUT 1999-11, 19074 PARTED OUT 2000-01, 20976 PARTED OUT 2000-09, 20158 PARTED OUT 2000-02 (737-284: 492-21501, /77 N470AT), (GEH) LSD. 21278; 21279; 21528 ST (SKN) 2001-07. 126Y.
33 +40 ORDERS 737-7BD (CFM56-7B20) (1550-33917, /04 N7702A; 1572-33918, /04 N7704B; 1573-33920, /05 N268AT; 1730-33919, /05 N267AT; 1778-33921, /05 N272AT; 1845-33922, /06 N281AT; 1874-34479, /06 N283AT; 1900-34480, /06 N286AT; 33923, N7734H, 2012-07; 1940-33924, /06 N7726A; 1967-33925, /06 N290AT; 1997-33926, /06 N7730A; 2041-34861, /06 N7732A; 2083-33923, /06 N300AT; 2094-34862, /06 N307AT; 2126-35109, /06 N308AT; 2129-33929, /06 N309AT; 2134-35181, /06 N312AT; 2143-33930, /06 N311AT; 2169-35788, /07 N313AT; 2178-33927, /07 N315AT; 2190-33928, /07 N316AT; 2201-35789, /07 N317AT; 2214-33931, /07 N7744A; 2278-33933, /07 N326AT; 2315-33935, /07 N331AT; 2863-33938; NTU, TO (ARG) 2009-05; 2552-33943, /08 N338AT; 35788, N7741C; 2312-36399, /07 N330AT; 2505-36716, /08 N336AT; 2526-36717, /08 N337AT; 2568-36718, /08 N344AT; 2628-36720, /08 N348AT; 2646-36721, /08 N349AT; 2813-36724, N353AT, 2009-09; 2815-36725, N354AT, 2009-09). 33932; 36073; ST (AKI) 2007-04. 33944; 35719; ST (AKI) 2008-04. 33938; NTU. 35962; NTU. 12C, 125Y.
2 737-76N (CFM56-7B20) (1514-32679, /04 N126AT; 1526-32681, /04 N149AT), (GEF) LSD. WITH WINGLETS. 12C, 125Y.
20 737-76N (CFM56-7B20) (1566-32653, /04 N168AT; 1584-32744, /04 N169AT; 1593-32661, /04 N173AT; 1623-32667, /04 N174AT; 1627-32652, /04 N7708E; 1641-32654, /05 N176AT; 1671-32656, /05 N184AT; 1687-32657, /05 N240AT; 1710-32660, /05 N261AT; 1788-32662, /05 N273AT; 1804-32664, /05 N276AT; 1827-32665, /05 N278AT; 1833-32666, /05 N279AT; 32667, N7707C; 1876-32668, /06 N284AT; 1898-32670, /06 N285AT; 1925-32671, /06 N287AT; 1943-32673, /06 N289AT; 1970-32675, /06 N291AT; 2002-32677, /06 N295AT; 2055-32678, /06 N7733B; 32679, N7714B; 32744, N7705A), (GEF) LSD. WITH WINGLETS. 12C, 125Y.
16 737-83N (CFM56-7B27), (AAT) WET-LSD. 175Y.
120 ORDERS (2017) 737 MAX (LEAP-1B) BY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES (SWA):
58 ORDERS 737 NEXT-GEN:
0 DC-9-31 (400-47202, N132NK), RF (SPR) 3/00, SCRAPPED.
0 DC-9-32 (JT8D-7B/-9A HK) (336-45774, /68 N837AT) (47322, 47379, 47443, 47486, SCRAPPED), (426-47318 SCRAPPED). 47442 W/O. 47320 PARTED OUT 2001-12. 47177; 47444; 47278; 47378 PARTED OUT 2002-07. 47277; 47278; 47285; 47319; 47444; 47445 SCRAPPED 2002-11. 47323 DONATED TO GEORGIA AVIATION & TECH COLLEGE. 47260 PARTED OUT 2003-01. 47529 ST (TKC) 2003-02. 47170; 47238; 47523; 47723; ST AEROFINANCE 2003-07. 47451; 2004-02. 47089; 47488; WFU 2004-02. 12C, 94Y.
0 A320-232 (V2525-A5) (640, /96; 676, /97 N391LF), EX-(MEA), (ILF) LSD, (RYN) WET-LSD 2003-06. RTND.
0 A320-233 (460, N951LF; 461, N941LF), (RYN) WET-LSD 2003-12.
Click below for photos:
CQT-3-TAMMY ROMO - CFO
GARY KELLY, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO), PARENT, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES (SWA).
ROBERT JORDAN, PRESIDENT AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) (2011-05), & (SWA) EXECUTIVE VP & CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER (CCO) (2011-09).
ROBERT FORNARO, CONSULTANT (2011-05), EX-AIRTRAN AIRWAYS (CQT) CHAIRMAN (2008-06), PRESIDENT (1999-03) & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO) (CQT), EX-(USA)/(NWA)/(TWA)/(BNF).
Robert Fornaro, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in March 1999. Robert has more than >20 years of Marketing, Planning and management consulting experience. Prior to joining (CQT), he operated a successful consulting practice. From 1992 to 1998, Robert served as Senior Vice President Planning for US Airways (USA), where he directed (USA)'s Route Planning, Pricing & Revenue Management, and overall Corporate Strategy. Before joining (USA), Robert held the position of Senior Vice President Marketing Planning at Northwest Airlines (NWA). His responsibilities included managing (NWA)'s international alliances, and regional airline partner relationships. Prior to (NWA), Robert was Senior Vice President Marketing & Planning at Braniff (BNF) Inc. Robert also served as VP Research for Jesup & Lamont Securities, Inc and Director of Future Schedule Planning for Trans World Airlines (TWA). Robert, a native of New York, earned his bachelor of arts in economics from Rutger's College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and his Master of Arts in City & Regional Planning from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He currently resides in McLean, Virginia, with his wife, Karen, and three children.
KLAUS GOERSCH, EXECUTIVE VP OPERATIONS & CUSTOMER SERVICE, CHIEF PILOT, EX-(FAA)/(DLH), (CQT) (2010-02).
Klaus Goersch, as VP - Flight Operations, was responsible for the Pilot Group, Dispatch & System Operations Control, & Crew Scheduling & Planning, at AirTran Airways (CQT). Klaus most recently served as an (FAA) examiner and Director of Corporate Training for Mesaba Aviation, Inc. A native of Germany, Klaus began his pilot (FC) career at Lufthansa German Airlines (DLH). He also holds an airline transport pilot certificate and is qualified as captain and check airman on the 717 for (CQT). Klaus, his wife and family, reside in Orlando, Florida.
RON RICKS, EXECUTIVE VP & CHIEF LEGAL & REGULATORY OFFICER, (SWA).
CHRIS MONROE, TREASURER (SWA) (2012-06).
JACK SMITH, SENIOR VP TECHNICAL OPERATIONS, EX-(CQT) (2014-07).
Jack will oversee (SWA)'s Technical Operations, Cargo/Charter Operations, Ground Operations & (SWA)'s Operations Coordination Center (OCC).
ALFRED SMITH, SENIOR VP CUSTOMER SERVICES, EX-(NWA)/(MID)/(EAL) (CQT) (2002-04).
Alfred J "Jack" Smith III, Senior Vice President Customer Service, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in April 2002. He is responsible for Customer Service, Security, Airport Operations, Baggage Service, In-flight Service & Catering. With more than >20 years of experience in the airline industry, Jack Smith most recently served as Vice President Global Operations for Northwest Airlines (NWA), where he oversaw the execution of multiple cargo and postal product lines at 165 locations throughout the world. He began his tenure at (NWA) in 1992 as Vice President Customer Service. In the mid-1980s, Smith served as Director Customer Service, prior to serving as Director In-flight Service for Midway Airlines (MID). Jack began his airline career at Eastern Air Lines (EAL) in 1974, where he held various positions before joining Altair Airlines as Director In-flight Service. Jack earned his Bachelor of Science at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and his Master of Business Administration from Manhattan's New York Institute of Technology. He resides with his wife and two sons in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
MS TAMMY ROMO, SENIOR VP PLANNING, & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO) (SWA) (2012-09).
ARNE HAAK, SENIOR VP FINANCE & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO) (CQT), EX-(USA) (2006-01) (2008-06).
Arne Haak joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in 1999 and has worked over the last six years in a variety of roles from Financial Planning and Analysis, Investments to Investor Relations. In his position, based in Orlando, he oversees Financial Planning, Financial Analysis, Treasury, Purchasing and Investor Relations. Arne previously served in management positions with US Airways (USA)'s Pricing, Yield Management and Revenue Analysis departments, and he has over 15 years experience in the airline industry. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the Pennsylvania State University, and he has also earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Maryland. Arne is a member of the Association of Financial Professionals, and he has earned the designation of Certified Treasury Professional (CTP). Arne is a resident of Winter Springs, Florida where he lives with his wife and three children.
RICHARD MAGUMO, SENIOR VP GENERAL COUNSEL/SECRETARY, EX-(TWA)/(EAL) (2000-08).
Richard Magurno, Senior VP General Counsel, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in August 2000. He oversees the airline's Legal Affairs. Magurno has an extensive aviation legal background, most recently operating a private aviation consulting practice. Prior to that, he served as Senior VP & General Counsel of Trans World Airlines (TWA). From 1989 to 1994, he was a partner in the law firm of Lord, Day & Lord, Barrett Smith, in New York. Richard began his airline career in 1970 as a Staff Attorney at Eastern Air Lines (EAL). In 1980, Richard was appointed VP Legal, and was named Assistant Secretary for (EAL). In 1984, he was promoted to Senior VP, General Counsel & Secretary for (EAL). Richard, a native of Suffern, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University in Washington DC, a Master of Arts from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, and a Juris Doctorate from Bronx, New York's Fordham University School of Law. Richard is a member of the bar, of the states of New York and Florida, and he was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and several federal appellate and district courts. He currently lives in Miami, Florida.
KEVIN HEALY, SENIOR VP MARKETING & PLANNING, EX-(USA) (1999-04).
Kevin Healy joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in April 1999. Serving as Senior VP Planning, he oversees the airline's Route Strategy, Scheduling, Pricing, Revenue Management, Reservations, Customer Relations and Sales. Kevin previously served in management positions with US Airways (USA)'s pricing, yield management and revenue analysis departments. In 1982, he began his airline career at Piedmont Airlines, serving in various customer service positions as well as yield management. In July 2002, Kevin was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to serve on the Florida Commission on Tourism and is a member of the board of directors of "Visit Florida."
ROCKY WIGGINS, SENIOR VP & CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER (CIO), EX-(USA) (2010-04), LEAVES TO BECOME (CIO) OF WESTJET (WJI) (2014-06).
Rocky Wiggins, Senior VP & (CIO), joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in September 2000. In this position, Rocky oversees the airline's Internal & External Computer & Telephone Systems, including a new Automated Telephone Reservation system. Rocky most recently served as VP Delivery Management, for the Chief Technology Officer at Sabre, Inc. He was responsible for the implementation of Sabre's Airline Support Systems, including the Scheduling, Pricing, Yield Management, Frequent Traveler & Crew Planning systems. Prior to Sabre, Rocky served as Senior Director Market Planning Systems Development for US Airways (USA). He began his tenure at (USA) in 1979, as an Analyst in Central Reservations Control. A 25-year veteran of the airline industry, Rocky began his airline career at Air Kentucky Airlines. A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Rocky studied Engineering at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Physics at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Rocky lives in Manassas, Virginia, with his wife and four children.
LORAL BLINDE, SENIOR VP HUMAN RESOURCES (HR), EX-(NWA) (1999-06).
Loral Blinde oversees the airline's employee and labor relations, staffing and training, compensation benefits and personnel policies. He joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in June 1999. Loral most recently served as VP of Human Resources for CUNA Mutual Group. Prior to CUNA, he held several staff positions at Northwest Airlines (NWA), Inc, including Director, Education & Safety; Director, Education & Labor Relations; and Director, Human Resources (HR). Additionally, he has experience as Regional Manager of (HR) at Frito-Lay and Director of Human Resources (HR), Manufacturing Services & Legal Counsel at Sinclair & Valentine, LP. Loral began his career with the State of Iowa as Assistant Director of Employee Relations. Loral, a native of Hawarden, Iowa, earned a bachelor of arts in political science, a juris doctorate and a master of arts in industrial relations and human resources from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife.
DAVE RIDLEY, SENIOR VP & CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER (CMO) (SWA).
GREG WELLS, SENIOR VP OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE (SWA) (2013-10).
MS TERESA LARABA, SENIOR VP CUSTOMERS (2012-07).
TREVOR STEDKE, VP TECHNICAL SERVICES (SWA)/(CQT), EX-(FED) (2012-06).
Trevor Stedke will provide leadership for Engineering Services & Standards, Quality, Maintenance Safety, Powerplant, & Aircraft Programs.
Trevor comes to (SWA) from Federal Express (FED), where he served for 15 years in progressively responsible positions, culminating in his role as the Managing Director Aircraft Engineering Planning & Performance. His areas of responsibility at (FED) included Aircraft Engineering; Aircraft Maintenance Programs; Propulsion Engineering; Air Operations Technology; Engineering Planning; Aircraft Reliability; Air Operations Standards, Analysis, and Controls; Engineering Support; and Airline Fleet Management (Fleet Teams).
“Trevor’s passion for excellence, coupled with his experience, will be an asset to our team and will serve him well in his new role,” said Brian Hirshman, (SWA) Senior VP Operations, to whom Trevor will report.
Trevor received a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University in Aviation Engineering/Atmospheric Science, where he also completed United States Marine Corps Officer Training. In 2004, Trevor earned his Master of Science in Engineering Management from Christian Brothers University, where he completed a hybrid program which blended a Master of Engineering with a Master of Business Administration.
Trevor succeeds the previous VP Technical Services, who left the Company earlier this year. Trevor began his position at (SWA) on June 20.
JEFF MILLER, VP FLIGHT OPERATIONS (2009-05) (CQT).
JIM TABOR, VP & GENERAL MANAGER OPERATIONS, EX-(AMW)/(USA) (2005-10) (2001-06).
Jim Tabor, General Manager Operations, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in 2001. He is responsible for System Operations Control (SOC), Dispatch, Crew Planning & Scheduling, Operations Analysis, & ATC/Airfield Operations. Jim previously served as Senior Director- (SOC) for America West Airlines (AMW). He started his aviation career in 1981 as a station agent for Piedmont Airlines in Roanoke, Virginia. By the mid-1990's, Jim was leading Planning, Operational, & Crew Resources functions for US Airways (USA) as Senior Director Operations. Jim earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College in Wollaston, Massachusetts. He also possesses an Aircraft Dispatcher certificate. He and his wife currently reside in Orlando, Florida.
MARK OSTERBERG, VP & CHIEF ACCOUNTING OFFICER (CAO) (2006-08).
MS PEGGY SAUER-CLARK, VP IN-FLIGHT SERVICES (2008-01).
KIRK THORNBURG, VP TECHNICAL SERVICES, EX-(NWA) (2006-01) (2004-06).
Kirk Thornburg, VP Maintenance & Engineering, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in 2004. In his position, based in Atlanta, he is responsible for overseeing Line Maintenance, Heavy Maintenance, Engineering, Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Technical Publications, Maintenance Control, & Maintenance Planning. He holds a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He has spent the past 24 years in the aviation industry in various Engineering & Technical Management positions, and has been a most meaningful contributor to the success of the Maintenance & Engineering organization. Prior to (CQT), Kirk served both as Director Quality Assurance, and as Director Engineering at Northwest Airlines (NWA), where he led establishment of the Aging Aircraft Inspection Program for the DC-9 fleet. Kirk began his career with the McDonnell Douglas Corporation in a Structural Design capacity on the F-15 program and then joined Express Airlines I Inc, where he served as Manager Technical Services, establishing Facilities, Systems & Processes for a growing regional airline. Throughout the course of his career, Kirk has been the recipient of numerous industry acknowledgements for his work on Aging Aircraft systems. Kirk has been a member of (ATSRAC) since 1999, the (FAA)'s oversight committee covering aging wiring issues. He has been invited to speak on Aging topics at the joint (FAA)/(JAA) conference, various (ATA) Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) conferences, and the joint (FAA)/(DOD)/(NASA) Aging Aircraft conference. He will move to Southwest Airlines (SWA) and report to Brian Hirshman, Senior VP Technical Operations from June 1st, 2011.
He and his wife, Laurie, and their two children reside in Atlanta, where he is a recently retired 16-year veteran high school basketball official, and also a volunteer youth basketball coach.
TAD HUTCHESON, VP MARKETING & SALES (2005-10) (1997-06).
Tad Hutcheson, VP of Marketing and Sales, joined AirTran Airways (CQT) in June 1997. Tad oversees Marketing, Advertising, Promotions, Charitable Giving, Community Relations, Partnerships, Frequency Programs, the Credit Card Program and the company's Web site, airtran.com. Prior to (CQT), Tad served as Director of Strategic Planning and later VP of Marketing for KIWI International Air Lines. Tad also worked in both the Planning and Marketing departments at Delta Air Lines (DAL), where he served on Leadership 7.5. A native of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, Tad graduated from the McCallie School in Chattanooga. He received a bachelor of arts in French literature and a bachelor of arts in business administration from King College of Bristol, Tennessee. In addition, Tad completed international marketing studies at St Peter's College, Oxford University and the International Business Institute in Europe. Tad also earned a Master of Business Administration from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A resident of Alpharetta, Georgia, Tad is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and serves on the Boards of Travelers' Aid of Metropolitan Atlanta, the Atlanta College of Art, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors' Bureau, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Tad also is a member of The Church of the Apostles and is the recipient of several professional awards, including two Rising Star awards from Travel Agent Magazine.
CRAIG MACCUBBIN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER & VP TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS (SWA) (2013-04).
MARK SHAW, VP GENERAL COUNSEL (SWA) (2013-02).
Mark was promoted from Associate General Counsel Corporate & Transactions. He joined (SWA) in 2000 as an attorney in the General Counsel department and was promoted to his current role in 2008.
Ron Ricks, Executive VP & Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer said "I have great confidence in Mark's abilities and his character as a leader. This will be a seamless transition given his history with (SWA) and with his colleagues in the General Counsel department.
ANDREW WATTERSON, VP NETWORK PLANNING (SWA), EX-(HWI) (2013-10)
MS SHERRY STABER, VP BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION SOLUTIONS, OPERATIONS & ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT (SWA) (2013-10).
BILL TIFFANY, VP SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT (SWA) (2013-10).
KEVIN KRONE, VP & CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER (CMO) (SWA).
JIM SOKOL, VP MAINTENANCE OPERATIONS, (SWA) WILL RETIRE (2014-09).
TIMCO Aviation Services (ASC), a subsidiary of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), has named Jim Sokol as President of (MRO) Services. Jim has 33 years of experience in the airplane maintenance industry, most recently as VP Maintenance Operations for Southwest Airlines (SWA).
LANDON NITSCHKE, VP MAINTENANCE OPERATIONS (2014-09).
Landon, currently Senior Director Maintenance will succeed Jim Sokol on his retirement.
RYAN GREEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT (2013-10).
DAN HANCHER, GENERAL MANAGER BASE MAINTENANCE (2000-05).
BILL TIFFANY, SENIOR DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING (M&E) SUPPLY CHAIN (SWA).
ED MURPHY, SENIOR DIRECTOR AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE (1999-04).
NICK DRAVIS, SENIOR DIRECTOR QUALITY ASSURANCE (QA) (2000-06).
CAPTAIN BOB WITTENBERG, DIRECTOR 717 PROGRAM (1999-09).
JIM ALMAN, DIRECTOR AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING (2000-04).
CAPTAIN JEAN-PIERRE DAGON, DIRECTOR CORPORATE SAFETY (firstname.lastname@example.org) (2000-06).
Captain Jean-Pierre Dagon, a 717-200 pilot (FC), joined AirTran Airways (CQT) as Director Corporate Safety in June 2000. He oversees Safety, insuring that it is brought to the forefront of corporate decisions. He also oversees several voluntary safety programs, including the Flight Operational Quality Assurance Program (FOQA) and Aviation Safety Collaborative Programs for Pilots (FC), Dispatchers and Maintenance Technicians (MT). These programs form a collaborative effort at mitigating risk and promoting voluntary safety reports. In addition, (CQT)’s Internal Evaluation Program (IEP), Environmental Compliance, (OJI) reporting, and Passenger Safety all fall under the safety arena. A native of Switzerland, Captain Dagon brings 20 years of experience, starting abroad as Head of Pilot Training to the predecessor of Swiss (Crossair), Director of Standards Check-Airmen, Training Center Evaluator for Flight Safety of Texas, and Manager, Flight Operations Training at Mesaba. In 1998, he joined Northwest Airlines (NWA) in Eagan, Minnesota, as Manager Flight Operations Quality Assurance, where his primary areas of responsibility were code share audits, Internal Evaluation, and the Air Carrier certificate compliance process. J.P. graduated cum laude from Boise State University with a BBA in Management, aviation option. He and his family reside in Orlando.
MIKE CLENDENEN, DIRECTOR FLIGHT OPERATIONS (2002-01).
DAVID GENTRY, DIRECTOR GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT (GSE) (1999-04).
JERRY BEATENBAUGH, DIRECTOR LIAISON ENGINEERING (1999-01).
JIM TEBILCOCK, DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE (ATLANTA) (2001-03).
JIM BUCKALEW, DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE PLANNING (2000-09).
RICHARD SARTINI, DIRECTOR POWERPLANT & MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS, EX-(CCA).
JOHN ENDICOTT, DIRECTOR PUBLICATIONS (2000-06).
CHRISTOPHER WHITE, DIRECTOR PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR), EX-(TSA) (2009-04).
TOM WOOLFORD, DIRECTOR QUALITY CONTROL (QC) (1997-08).
ROGER CARDIN, DIRECTOR SPECIAL PROJECTS (1997-05).
DAVE SCHWARZ, DIRECTOR TECHNICAL SERVICES (1997-05).
ALAN DREHER, DIRECTOR CORPORATE SECURITY (2010-03).
BRANDY KING, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR (SWA).
MS ANGELA VARGO, MANAGER PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT.
LEE BRUNS, MANAGER ENGINEERING 717 FLEET (2000-09).
PETE KANDRAVI, MANAGER MAINTENANCE CONTROL (1999-09).
JOHN CARDIN, MANAGER MAINTENANCE CONTROL (1999-01).
RUBEN DEL TORO, MANAGER RELIABILITY (1999-09).
JOEL ENGLE, MANAGER TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS/MAINTENANCE PROGRAMS (1999-01), (email@example.com).
MS CYNTHIA TINSLEY-DOUGLAS, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (2008-04).
WILLIAM POPE, FLEET MANAGER (STRUCTURES & SYSTEMS) (1996-10).
MIKE CORNELES, MAINTENANCE MANAGER.
MS JUDY GRAHAM-WEAVER, PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR) MANAGER (2004-03).
LARRY LARIVEE, CHIEF INSPECTOR (1999-04).