Airline biz to lose $2.5bn, but more flights on time

MSNBC continues to publish the same story, and I continue to reblog it. Fortunately, author Sholnn Freeman managed to sneak in some interesting stuff at the end.

It’s no secret that airline prices are dropping as fast as they possibly can. Broader economic conditions are responsible for this fact. How do we know? The fine folks at MSNBC have developed the unique skill of telling the same story over and over with different words.

So, here’s the reality: you can find domestic one-way fares for under $100. I’ve seen several international fares (one-way) for under $200, usually to Latin America. According to Rick Seaney, Chief Executive of, “If you are paying over $300 for an airline ticket right now, you are probably paying way too much.” He continues that these prices do not occur outside a recession.

Nonetheless, passengers remain cautious. You know the drill … the savings may be great, but if you can’t afford to take advantage of it, you save nothing. A lot of people are canceling or scaling back vacation plans.

Thanks, MSNBC; we had no idea …

But, there is good news, and this is stuff MSNBC hasn’t reported before.

Airline on-time rates are at their best levels in years. Since there are fewer flights taking off, congestion has declined. So, all that time waiting on the runway last year is time in the sky this year. Of course, efficiency comes at a cost: the International Air Transport Association expects the global airline industry to lose $2.5 billion this year.

Southwest Joins Flight-Cutting Club

Even though they seemed to be bucking the trend by adding flights earlier this summer, Southwest is finally joining other domestic airlines in the flight cutting club. This winter, the nation’s biggest budget carrier will cut nearly 200 flights in order to combat the effect that high fuel prices have on its bottom line.

According to a Southwest spokesperson, the cuts are not permanent. Routes like Nashville to Oakland and Tampa to Philly will be halted during the slower winter months (beginning in January), but will return later in the year.

Southwest is not as severely affected as its competition by high fuel prices because it purchased option which allow it to buy fuel at cheaper prices. As a result, their cuts are a lot less severe than those of other major carriers. While 200 flights seems substantial, it is only a 6% drop in the overall number of flights. In comparison, American Airlines and United Airlines are promising cuts of 12% and 16% respectively. So, even as they trim their service, Southwest can still say that they are performing better than others in the industry.

Skybus may return again: Some ideas for making a go of it

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, so might Skybus. Yesterday, there were several stories about the possibility of Skybus Airlines’ return. The first story I heard was on the radio. Next came the nightly news. According to the stories, John Weikle, the airline’s founder, said he’s been working out ways to bring it back.

Weikle pointed to Allegiant Air as an indication that no-frills airlines can work. In order for the airline to pull it off, it needs to up the on-time performance and control expansion. Considering that Skybus has the planes, it has the logo, it has people who have probably not found jobs yet, AND there is the space in airports designed specifically for Skybus, it seems to me that the ingredients are there. Even since yesterday, I’ve talked with more people who were either going to buy tickets or who bought tickets all the time in order to visit relatives.

Now, it’s almost impossible to fly anywhere from Columbus without stopping somewhere along the way–often in an opposite direction. For people who are older, changing planes is problem. Why not promote Skybus as the airline that brings family members together. Another thing that I think would help push the smaller airports is to have step by step directions on how to get to the larger cities from the small airport locations. For example, have it spelled out how to get from Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York to Grand Central Station. I don’t think it’s that hard, but it’s something people need to know in specifics. If the directions are in a format so they could be printed off, even better. How handy, people might think.

Another idea I have for a user-friendly addition is to have a page to click on at each airport location that highlights the things to see in the area. Click on Greensboro, North Carolina and you’ll find out information about what it’s near. I’d really like to know what’s near Greensboro, North Carolina without having to search myself. When I went to Allegiant Air’s Web site, I saw information about Allegiant Air destination towns and photographs. This put me in a traveling mood. Also, Allegiant’s Web site looks like it changes with new highlights. Smart. If Skybus could only get some more investors. An article in the Dispatch today said that those in Columbus shouldn’t hold our breath. I do have my fingers crossed.