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Airline Finance News - North America.

For more airline finance news, data and analysis, please go to: http://www.airguideonline.com/professional.htm Aug 7, 2006

Mergers Seen Taking Off In US Airline Industry. This time last year, the US airline industry looked beaten and bruised -- with two major carriers on the brink of bankruptcy and widespread labor strife. But after billions of dollars of cost cutting, a merger and two major carriers operating under bankruptcy protection, the industry looks ripe for more consolidation, analysts said. Mergers, which would give airlines more control over capacity -- and thus the power to raise fares -- have long been seen as a critical next step for the industry. Analysts say a new round is on the horizon, and when it begins, carriers will not want to be left behind. Aug 1, 2006

Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.-R) said the legislation would save the pension plans of carriers that otherwise may be forced to jettison retirement programs, as United Airlines and US Airways did during recent bankruptcy restructurings. "This is not a subsidy or bailout but rather an opportunity for airlines and other companies to deliver the benefits their employees have earned without shifting those obligations to the taxpayers," he said. US companies defaulting on pension plans shift responsibility for the funds to the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., but that agency is running a nearly $23 billion deficit and lawmakers are concerned it could collapse without major reform in pension laws. If the Senate passes the House version of the legislation without changes, it will be forwarded to President Bush for his signature. Aug 1, 2006

US Bureau of Transportation Statistics said last week that its Air Travel Price Index rose 10.3% in the first quarter, the biggest year-over-year increase since it began tracking changes in airline ticket prices in 1995. Because US passengers increasingly are shifting to LCCs from traditional Majors, "even the lower fares are rising and the index values are a measure of how much they are rising," BTS said. Cincinnati saw the largest year-to-year fare index increase in the quarter with a 36.6% jump. Charlotte and Houston recorded the smallest increases. Jul 31, 2006

American Airlines

American Airlines flew 13.3 billion system RPMs in July, a 2.3% decline from the year-ago month. Capacity fell 4.5% to 15.28 billion ASMs and load factor rose 1.9 points to 87%. Domestic RPMs dropped 4.9% to 8.5 billion against a 7.6% fall in ASMs to 9.63 billion, raising load factor 2.4 points to 88.2%. International traffic grew 2.7% to 4.81 billion RPMs, capacity increased 1.3% to 5.66 billion ASMs and load factor was up 1.2 points to 85%. Aug 4, 2006

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines said its June consolidated RASM increased 11% year-over-year and that it estimated the July figure to rise 9%-10% over the year-ago month. CO flew 8.74 billion RPMs in July, up 10.8%. Capacity increased 8.9% to 10.24 billion ASMs and load factor rose 1.5 points to 85.4%, matching its July record. Domestic RPMs were up 6.9% to 4.06 billion against a 5.9% gain in ASMs to 4.65 billion, lifting load factor 0.8 point to 87.3%. International traffic surged 14.6% to 3.7 billion RPMs, capacity rose 11.7% to 4.37 billion ASMs and load factor increased 2.2 points to 84.7%. Aug 3, 2006

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines is not liable for not warning passengers about the risk of blood clots during an international flight, a US federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday. Guy Caman sued Continental after he was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) following a flight from Los Angeles to Paris in 2002. A lower court ruled in favor of Continental, and on Wednesday the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Caman argued he suffered an accident as established under the Warsaw Convention governing air travel. Aug 2, 2006

Delta Air Lines

Delta Asks To Terminate Pilot Pension Plan. Delta Air Lines on Friday said it asked the US bankruptcy court to allow it to terminate the Delta Pilots Retirement Plan to help it emerge from Chapter 11 protection. Aug 4, 2006 Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines

US Senate is expected to vote this week on pension reform legislation passed last week by the House that would provide relief for US airlines struggling to fund defined benefit retirement plans. The House-passed bill would give carriers that have frozen their pension plans, namely bankrupt Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines, 17 years to meet funding responsibilities, or 10 more years than the seven-year requirement imposed by the legislation on other industries. Other airlines would get 10 years--three extra years--to fund plans. Aug 1, 2006

ExpressJet Airlines

ExpressJet Airlines reported for its second-quarter for the three months ended June 30, RPMs were up 21.4% to 2.7 billion while ASMs rose 11% to 3.3 billion, sending load factor up 6.9 points to 81%. For the first six months, net income dipped 1.3% to $47 million while operating revenues lifted 8% to $825 million and operating expenses grew 9.8% to $752.2 million. Aug 3, 2006

Mesa Air

Mesa Air Group yesterday named CD Lauritsen COO of Go!, its Hawaii inter-island subsidiary, and Joe Bock chief marketing officer. Also announced were the appointments of Kenley Chambers to VP-inflight services, Allen McReynolds to VP-technical services and purchasing, Ed Gomes to VP-customer service, Mark Bicker to director-dispatch and John Schmitz to director-crew resources. Aug 2, 2006

Northwest Airlines

Flight attendants give Northwest 15 days notice. Northwest Airlines flight attendants continued to rattle their sabers following Monday's rejection of the latest labor agreement, announcing their "intent to exercise their right to strike" on the evening of Aug. 15. Aug 3, 2006

Northwest Airlines

Northwest cabin staff reject tentative agreement, CHAOS ensues. Northwest Airlines flight attendants set up a showdown with the bankrupt carrier late yesterday, rejecting the tentative agreement reached two weeks ago in "around-the-clock negotiations" between NWA and the Assn. of Flight Attendants-CWA by a vote of 3,266 to 2,637. Aug 1, 2006

Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines and its striking mechanics, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Assn., will head back to the negotiating table, the carrier said Friday. The mechanics have been on strike since August 2005 and rejected a January contract proposal that would have provided severance and certain benefits. The meeting reportedly will take place in August. "We have been asked by AMFA to conduct a bargaining session with their negotiating committee and we will do so consistent with our obligations under the Railway Labor Act," a NWA spokesperson said, adding that "any potential settlement would have no impact on our current mechanic workforce" and that "the needed aircraft maintenance employee labor cost savings have been achieved." Jul 31, 2006

Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines is seeking to lower its annual fleet ownership costs by $400 million as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. Senior VP-Finance Dave Davis told reporters in a conference call that the airline faces greater challenges than other bankrupt carriers regarding its aircraft costs because "pre-filing [for bankruptcy] we predominately owned our fleet" whereas others have a larger percentage of leased aircraft. "There's a wide disparity among airlines in how fleets are owned and operated," he explained. Davis said NWA is attempting to negotiate new terms for interest payments on aircraft it owns and may seek alternate ways of financing aircraft to reduce its outright ownership burden. Jul 31, 2006

Pinnacle Airlines

Pinnacle Airlines flew 1 billion RPMs in the quarter, up 2%, with ASMs dipping 8% to 1.3 billion. Load factor rose by more than 7 points to 81%. For the six months ended June 30, it reported net income of $25 million, down 32% from the year-ago period. Operating income fell 4% to $41 million. Aug 2, 2006

Pinnacle Airlines

Pinnacle Airlines is feeling the effects of Northwest Airlines' decision to remove 15 aircraft from its partner's fleet. Pinnacle reported net income of $11.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, down 13.1% from $13.7 million in the 2005 quarter. Operating revenue fell 4% to $204.5 million and operating income was $19.5 million, a 14% drop from the year-ago period. Company officials said the operating result also was affected by a previously unrecorded obligation of $1.4 million for a health care benefit program for retired pilots and adjustment to subleases on 11 turboprop aircraft from Northwest Airlink partner Mesaba Airlines. Aug 2, 2006

Pinnacle Airlines

Pinnacle Airlines is still waiting to renegotiate its agreement with Northwest, CEO Phil Trenary said. The current exclusive service contract prohibits it from operating aircraft with more than 50 seats. Trenary said the company will continue to look for additional business and has completed work on a second certificate that would enable it to operate aircraft for other partners. Regarding Northwest startup Compass, he said, "We don't believe it will be the low-cost or the high-quality solution. We think we will be competitive on additional aircraft for Northwest." Aug 2, 2006

Republic Airways

Republic Airways Holdings group flew 1.74 billion RPMs, up 53.8%, against a 43.5% capacity increase to 2.26 billion ASMs. Load factor rose 5.1 points to 76.9%. Unit costs fell 7.9% to 11.24 cents; excluding fuel they declined 7.7% to 7.6 cents. For the first half, Republic reported a 31.7% increase in profit to $37.2 million. Revenues rose 28% to $541.7 million, expenses were up 25.5% to $441.2 million and operating profit increased 40.5% to $100.5 million. Aug 3, 2006

SkyWest Airlines

SkyWest officials attributed the leap in overall financial performance to the acquisition last September of Delta Air Lines subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines with its fleet of 153 aircraft. Increased fuel cost reimbursements from Major partners also contributed to the bottom line. Total operating expenses doubled to $700.8 million. SkyWest operates 397 aircraft under codeshare agreements with United Airlines and Delta, providing 2,512 daily flights to 239 cities. This week it announced it will add 17 CRJ900s to the current fleet. They will be operated for Delta Connection in a two-class configuration. Aug 4, 2006

SkyWest Airlines

SkyWest's soaring revenue fueled by addition of ASA. SkyWest Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $39.3 million, up 58.5% compared to $24.8 million in the same period a year ago.Operating revenues increased a whopping 105.8% to $790.4 million and operating income doubled to $89.6 million from $44.5 million during the second quarter of 2005. Aug 4, 2006

United Airlines

United Airlines parent UAL Corp. posted $119 million in net income for the period ended June 30, its first full quarter since emerging from bankruptcy and a vast improvement over the $1.4 billion it lost in the year-ago quarter. The results, marking the company's first profitable quarter since 2000, reaffirmed an earnings preview it released last week. Second-quarter revenues were $5.1 billion, up 15% from $4.4 billion generated by a restructuring UAL in the year-ago quarter. Chairman, President and CEO Glenn Tilton called the results "a solid first step" and said the carrier will continue to look for areas where it can improve cost efficiencies. Aug 1, 2006

United Airlines

United Airlines parent UAL's operating expenses rose 10.9% to $4.85 billion including a 30.9% jump in fuel costs to $1.25 billion. Operating profit was $260 million, widened from an operating profit of $48 million in the year-ago quarter. Mainline yield rose 10% to 12.34 cents on a 4.9% increase in mainline RPMs. With mainline capacity up 3%, load factor improved 1.5 points to 84.9%, pushing mainline RASM ahead 11.5% to 12.03 cents. CASM excluding fuel grew 1.6% to 7.70 cents. Aug 1, 2006

WestJet

WestJet's president and CEO Clive Beddoe said the results reflect a 4% increase in aircraft utilization during the quarter and rising domestic demand. "We transitioned 13.5% of our total capacity during the three-month period ending June 30 from our winter schedule of charter and sun destinations to our Canadian domestic operations," he explained. "This represents the largest single increase in domestic flying in our 10 year history...It is particularly rewarding to see this capacity being absorbed by the market." Aug 3, 2006

WestJet

WestJet's second-quarter RPMs increased 29.3% to 2.33 billion on an 18.5% rise in capacity to 3.0 billion ASMs, sending load factor up 6.5 points to 77.5%. Yield was flat at C18.3 cents. Beddoe said the shift in capacity to the domestic market "dampened our increase in yields in the short-term" but added that yields are expected to "improve as we move into the third quarter." He noted that on a stage-length-adjusted basis, yields grew about 4% in the quarter. RASM increased 10.1% to C14.2 cents and CASM excluding fuel was consistent with the year-ago quarter at C9.4 cents. Load factor jumped 6.5 points to 77.5%. Aug 3, 2006

WestJet

WestJet reports C$22.4 million profit, cites capacity shift. WestJet reported second-quarter net income of C$22.4 million ($19.8 million), widened from net income of C$2.3 million in the year-ago quarter, on a 30.3% rise in revenues to C$425 million. Aug 3, 2006

WestJet

WestJet's second-quarter operating expenses grew 20.9% to C$386.8 million as fuel costs surged 28.4% to C$104.5 million. Operating earnings totaled C$38.6 million, widened from C$6.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Aug 3, 2006

World Airways

World Air Holdings, parent of World Airways and North American Airlines, reported first-quarter (ended June 30) net income of $3.5 million, a drop from net income of $9.9 million in the first quarter of 2005. The company, which finally reported its full-year 2005 earnings last month, continues to play catch-up with its financial reporting. Delays in filing required financial reports led to its de-listing by Nasdaq. First-quarter operating income fell 45.3% to $9.4 million, "primarily due" to a pilots strike during the quarter that cost it an estimated $7-$8 million. Operating revenues grew 35.6% to $216.3 million. Aug 3, 2006

World Airways

World Air Holdings said revenues are expected to be $175-$178 million for its first-quarter with an operating loss of $12-$15 million. CEO Randy Martinez said second-quarter results were affected by higher maintenance costs and penalties imposed on World Airways by the US Air Mobility Command for failing to meet required ontime performance levels. He added that World was removed from AMC "penalty status" on June 20. Aug 3, 2006
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Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 7, 2006
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