Industry News


Industry News

Industry news is more important to career development and the job search than many aspiring career pilots realize. What new regulations that could affect your career lurk just over the horizon?

Which airline is thinking about buying another carrier? That could affect you directly if you work for the acquired carrier. Who is ordering new airplanes? If new aircraft are an addition to the carrier’s existing fleet, it will have to hire more pilots to fly them. How is the industry—and individual airlines—doing financially? While a company’s financial situation can change over time, you should know how an airline stands when you apply.

Cheap fuel boosts profits, airline stocks
Since September, jet fuel prices have dropped by about half, boosting profits for most airlines. Industry analysts expect this year’s profits at the four largest U.S. carriers to surpass their 2014 results. United and Southwest executives recently gave a favorable 2015 forecast combining the cheap fuel with stronger travel demand, according to an Associated Press article published on the travel information website Skift. United Continental Holdings Inc. has predicted first-quarter profits higher than what was expected by many analysts, while Southwest Airlines Co. expects to save $1.7 billion on its 2015 fuel bill; both companies said their fourth-quarter profit was lower than the prior year’s because of losses on fuel-price hedge contracts. American Airlines is the only major U.S. carrier that was not hedging fuel prices.

[POSTED JANUARY 27, 2015]

Alaska, Horizon employees get bonus payouts
Employees at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air on Jan. 26 received annual bonuses of more than 9 percent of their annual salary—for most workers, more than five weeks’ pay. The bonus is in addition to the approximately $1,000 in 2014 monthly bonuses that most employees earned for achieving on-time and customer satisfaction goals. The combined monthly and annual bonuses total nearly $116 million, the highest in Alaska’s history, and are part of the company’s incentive-based pay program.

[POSTED JANUARY 27, 2015]

Compass sued over FMLA
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) sued Compass Airlines Jan. 22 to arbitrate two contractual grievances over the company’s alleged violations of flight attendants’ rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Compass, owned by Trans States Holding and operated as a Delta connection carrier, has refused for more than a year to schedule these grievances, the union said. AFA is asking the federal court to order Compass to honor its contract and to comply with its legal duty under the Railway Labor Act to arbitrate these grievances.

[POSTED JANUARY 27, 2015]

Allegiant pilots authorize strike
Pilots at Allegiant Air, represented by the Airline Professionals Association (APA) Teamsters Local 1224, on Jan. 16 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the carrier. The vote, in which 98 percent of voting pilots authorized the union to call a strike, does not mean that a strike is going to happen immediately. “It does, however, mean that the situation is fluid,” said APA Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel Wells. “If Allegiant continues to stonewall in negotiations and continues to disregard the federal court’s injunction ordering it to restore the pilots’ work rules, then a pilot strike at Allegiant Air will be very realistic.” The union said it intends to seek assistance from the National Mediation Board under the Railway Labor Act’s dispute provisions. The pilots said they have been in negotiations with Allegiant for two years with little to no progress.

[POSTED JANUARY 20, 2015]

Airbus eyes consolidation, production changes
Airbus announced that it will limit 2015’s new product offerings to the just-launched long-range A321neo variant, suggesting a period of consolidation, AIN Online reported Jan. 13. The company said it delivered 629 airliners, beating its 2014 targets; A320 narrowbodies accounted for 490 of them. Orders for the A380 superjumbo reportedly have slowed. During Airbus’s annual press conference in Toulouse, company executives said other objectives include meeting delivery schedules and adjusting production rates. Fabrice Bregier, Airbus president and chief executive, would like to deliver “around 650” aircraft this year, AIN said.

[POSTED JANUARY 20, 2015]

Delta to launch daily service between Los Angeles and Shanghai
Delta Air Lines plans to begin daily nonstop service between Los Angeles International and Shanghai-Pudong Airport on July 9, 2015, pending U.S. Department of Transportation and foreign government approval, the airline announced Jan. 14. Delta said that the Los Angeles market makes up 25 percent of all U.S.-Asia demand. Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, seating 291, will be used on the route.

[POSTED JANUARY 20, 2015]

FAA issues SMS rule
The FAA has issued a final rule that requires most U.S. passenger and cargo airlines to implement a safety management system (SMS) by 2018, AIN Online reported Jan. 7. SMS is “an organization-wide approach to mitigating risk in airline operations” that proactively predicts accident causes through the analysis of data, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta explained at a press conference. More than nine out of 10 U.S. air carriers already share some data with the FAA or voluntarily participate in a SMS program, AIN reported. Carriers’ SMS plans must be submitted to the FAA by early September.

[POSTED JANUARY 13, 2015]

NetJets hiring new pilots while seeking wage, benefit concessions
An escalating labor dispute between NetJets, Inc., and its workforce entered a new phase Jan. 7 when the Columbus, Ohio-based fractional jet operator announced plans to hire new pilots while continuing to demand compensation and benefit cuts from current pilots and other unionized workers, said the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), the union representing NetJets’ more than 2,700 pilots. While union leaders are pleased that NetJets has returned furloughed pilots to work and will hire new pilots amid increased demand, they said the company continues to demand concessions at the bargaining table. “The touted growth and profitability have in no way tempered management claims that compensation and benefit cuts from pilots and other workers are necessary because its wealthy customers are demanding cheaper prices,” NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. The pilots’ union and NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, have been negotiating a new labor contract for more than a year.

[POSTED JANUARY 13, 2015]

Delta makes deal with pilots to retain international flights
In a first-of-its-kind agreement in the aviation industry, Delta Air Lines Inc. has told its pilots that it will continue to operate its own international flights—and will not outsource service to its partner, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Bloomberg Businessweek reported Dec. 31. Delta in 2013 purchased 49 percent of Virgin, based in England, raising concerns among Delta’s pilots that jobs could be lost if the airline shifted trans-Atlantic flying to Virgin. The move comes ahead of pilot contract discussions, which are scheduled to begin in April.

[POSTED JANUARY 6, 2015]

American pilots’ union accepts contract offer
After meeting for two days, the board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association—which represents about 15,000 pilots at American Airlines after the carrier merged with US Airways in December 2013—voted late Jan. 3 to accept the airline’s latest contract proposal, The Dallas Morning News reported. The agreement, which must be ratified by the union’s membership, will give pilots an immediate 23-percent pay increase, said American spokesman Casey Norton. The new joint collective bargaining agreement also places former American and US Airways pilots under the same contract.

[POSTED JANUARY 6, 2015]

American seeks LAX to Tokyo Haneda flights
American Airlines on Jan. 5 applied to the United States Department of Transportation for permission to operate daily nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND). Per the U.S.-Japan bilateral agreement, U.S. airlines may operate only a total of four daily round-trip flights at Haneda Airport, and American wants DOT to award it Delta Air Line’s existing route authority from Seattle. Delta Air Lines also serves Haneda from Los Angeles, Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu, and United Airlines from San Francisco. In December, the DOT instituted a carrier-selection proceeding to determine whether current service between Seattle and Haneda should be reallocated to another airline. American would use Boeing 777-200 aircraft on the route.

[POSTED JANUARY 6, 2015]

…while Hawaiian seeks Kona-Haneda service
On the same day as American, Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. requested DOT approval to begin daily nonstop service between Kona International Airport, on the island of Hawaii, and Haneda Airport in Tokyo. It made the request after Delta reduced the frequency of its Seattle-Haneda service from daily to seasonal. In its application, Hawaiian said that its existing Honolulu-Tokyo service has been “by far the most, if not only, successful route” of the four Haneda slot pairs granted to U.S. carriers in 2010, and that Kona continues to be a top destination for Japanese travelers. The airline would use Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the route.

[POSTED JANUARY 6, 2015]

First Chinese-built airliner gets Chinese type certificate
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China has obtained a type certificate for its ARJ21-700 regional jet following a development and certification effort of more than 12 years, AIN Online reported. The Civil Aviation Administration of China on Dec. 30 issued a type certificate for the twinjet, which is powered by GE CF34-10A engines and will be China’s first domestically produced airliner. The jet carries 90 passengers in economy configuration and is expected to enter service in the spring.

[POSTED JANUARY 6, 2015]


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