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.

Want to smell a new plane? It might be awhile if it’s American

I’ve bought new cars and I’ve bought used. My last used car smelled lovely. The friend of mine who sold it too me must have either used wonderful soap daily —or wore a light, fabulous perfume. New cars don’t have to work hard to smell special. Smelling new like the grown up version of a fresh, just taken out of the box vinyl toy is enough–unless it’s brand new leather shoes, and then double yum.

A brand new airplane must really smell fantastic. I have no idea, though, since I’ve never been on a brand new airplane that I can recall. According to the latest news on U.S. carriers, it might be awhile before anyone will get the experience–at least if one is getting from here to there on an airplane from an American company.

These days, frugality is in–new planes are out. The airlines want to beef up their coffers in order to make up for the post 9/11 shortfalls that had them tumbling towards bankruptcy. Okay, so new is not an option, and according to the New York Times article that outlined all the reasons why new airplanes aren’t on the horizon, giving the airplanes a through cleaning is not a priority either. One guy who was quoted used words like “grimy” to describe the problem.

According to the airlines, older planes are safe so there really isn’t anything to worry about. I do admit when I was flying Delta round-trip from Columbus to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, when I rested my head against the seat, I wondered about the upholstery.