United Airlines Shows Pride by Speaking Out on Marriage Equality

On 29/05/2015, in Airline corner, by steve

rainbowUnited Airlines (NYSE: UAL) and its employees will commemorate LGBT Pride Month this June by marching in parades, sponsoring events and hosting celebrations at destinations across the airline’s global route network. But more than the festivities, the company is marking this historic Pride Month – one in which the U.S. Supreme Court may rule on the issue of same-sex marriage – by reaffirming its support for marriage equality.

United’s Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Smisek issued the following statement:

“United Airlines is proud to stand up for marriage equality in the United States. At United, we foster an inclusive and diverse culture, where every employee is accepted, valued, respected and treated fairly. While fully inclusive equal employment, workplace benefits and non-discrimination policies have been part of our company’s culture for many years, it is time for our nation to have a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to same-sex couples. With this historic Supreme Court decision on the horizon, we encourage all of corporate America to join United Airlines on the right side of this debate.”

The airline in March also joined hundreds of other U.S. corporations by signing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to support same-sex marriage.

Click here to read the full article


The end of the association of european airlines?

On 06/05/2015, in Airline corner, by steve

aeaAEA’s and IATA’s European office are located in the same building in a fancy neighborhood of Brussels. The IATA office moved to the European capital from London several years ago to be nearer to the EU institutions and Eurocontrol and co-locating it with AEA looked like a good idea. It was. I was an Assistant Director with IATA at the time and one of the first things we all learned was how the tasks between IATA and AEA were distributed. After all, the membership of AEA and IATA was partially common and it was fair to surmise that both organizations would have the same position on the different issues airlines were struggling with.

This was not completely true, however. IATA was looking at the big picture with world-wide implications while AEA was responding primarily to the concerns of its European members. Every now and then we would come up against a conflict of interest. Especially when the issue was money to be spent by the airlines, like a mandate for some kind of new equipment, big, influential airlines with fewer flights in Europe would put up a spirited resistance, questioning the benefits which for them would always fall out to be less than for airlines flying mostly in Europe. Luckily for us, many of the proposed mandates had questionable benefits for any airline, so getting a common position was usually not too difficult.

Once we knew what to say and why, AEA would take upon themselves to speak on the political level while we at IATA would man the guns firing the technical underpinning supporting the political statements. Anyone who remembers the war around Mode S Enhanced Surveillance will know what I am talking about.

Of course IATA and AEA were only two, though possibly the most vocal, associations representing airlines in Europe. For the low-cost guys there is ELFAA (European Low Fare Airlines Association) while IACA (International Air Carrier Association) and ERA (European Regions Airline Association) brought to the table the interests of charter and regional operators respectively.

Obviously, one may question whether it was really necessary to have so many organizations but looking at their respective clienteles, it is easy to see that properly focusing on their diverse interests was only possible via an organization that had both the understanding and the time to deal with their specific problems.

Personally, I would divide the history of airline associations into three phases. There is to-day, to which we will come back in a moment, then there was the pre-ELFAA time and the post-ELFAA time.

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United Airlines Bringing Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus On Board for Flight Attendants

On 10/12/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

appleUnited Airlines has announced that the carrier will equip its flight attendants with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, putting important safety and service information at flight attendants’ fingertips while enhancing their ability to meet customers’ needs.

The airline will begin distribution to its more than 23,000 mainline flight attendants during the second quarter of 2015. Upon introduction, the devices will have the ability to handle most onboard retail transactions and will enable access to company email, united.com and the company’s Intranet as well as policies and procedures manuals.

Future enhancements include replacing the flight attendants’ printed safety manual with an electronic version on their iPhones and providing real-time reporting and improved follow-up on aircraft cabin issues and repairs. Additionally, United plans to develop a number of customer-focused tools for the device.

“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” said Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of inflight services. “iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.”

The deployment of iPhone 6 Plus for United flight attendants follows the airline’s deployment of iPads to pilots beginning in 2011, in a move toward creating paperless aircraft and flight decks. United has renewed the iPad pilot program with iPad Air 2.


A nice letter from Air France – KLM

On 11/10/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

klmAlthough BluSky has moved from Air France – KLM to Lufthansa and the Star Alliance as our company’s preferred airline, we are still registered as a BlueBiz member and so get every now and then communications from our old favorite.  Last Wednesday I got a particularly interesting letter from them in my mailbox. I would like to share it with you since this letter shows very well the troubles our industry is facing and how even big companies like KLM are struggling to make a future for themselves. I was particularly struck by the mention of Transavia… this airline, which had seen better days before Air France took over KLM is now slated to compete in the LCC arena. Most analysts believe that this is too little too late and I am afraid they are probably right. Time will tell.

Anyway, here is the letter.


Now that the Air France pilot strike has been ended, we feel it is time for apologies and an explanation and at the same time we want to show you our dedication and appreciation.

First let me begin by offering our sincere apologies for the difficulties caused by the strike. We are sorry if this has affected the activities of your company and your travelers in any way. We are also grateful for the messages of encouragement and support we received from many BlueBiz members.

The issue that lead to the strike situation is the competition AIR FRANCE KLM is facing from low-cost carriers on European routes. To cover the increasing demand for low-cost flights among the public, we need to adapt our offering. A major change that will make us more competitive is the further development of Transavia, AIR FRANCE KLM Group’s low-cost airline. At the same time we will continue to make our large investments in both the Air France and KLM products. The introduction of our new long-haul cabins is a major part of these programs.

More than ever our teams are fully dedicated to a continued and successful partnership into the future with you and your company.

We hope to welcome you and your colleagues back onboard one of our aircraft soon

With kind regards,

Patrick Alexandre
Executive Vice President Commercial

We wish you luck Air France KLM!


United Airlines Reports $489 Million First-Quarter 2014 Loss Excluding Special Items; $609 Million Loss Including Special Items

On 24/04/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

United Airlines (UAL) today reported a first-quarter 2014 net loss of $489 million, or $1.33 per share, excluding $120 million of special items. Including special items, UAL reported a first-quarter 2014 net loss of $609 million, or $1.66 per share.

• Historic severe weather increased United’s first-quarter loss by approximately $200 million.
• United’s consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) decreased 2.0 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013. Weather-related cancellations reduced first-quarter 2014 consolidated PRASM by approximately 1.5 percentage points.
• First-quarter 2014 consolidated unit costs (CASM) increased 1.0 percent year-over-year. First-quarter 2014 consolidated CASM, excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, increased 3.1 percent year-over-year on a consolidated capacity reduction of 0.3 percent.
• UAL ended the first quarter with $6.0 billion in unrestricted liquidity.


“This quarter’s financial performance is well below what we can and should achieve. We are taking the appropriate steps with our operations, network, service and product to deliver significantly better financial results,” said Jeff Smisek, UAL’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The entire United team is sharply focused on accomplishing the goals we have laid out for long-term financial success.”

First-Quarter Revenue and Capacity

For the first quarter of 2014, total revenue was $8.7 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent year-over-year. First-quarter consolidated passenger revenue decreased 2.3 percent to $7.4 billion, compared to the same period in 2013. Ancillary revenue per passenger in the first quarter increased 7.6 percent year-over-year to more than $21 per passenger. First-quarter cargo revenue decreased 7.9 percent versus the first quarter of 2013 to $209 million. Other revenue in the first quarter increased 18.0 percent year-over-year to $1.1 billion, in large part due to an agreement to sell jet fuel to a third party.

Click here to read the full article


Hello, it’s me.

On 09/03/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

rageIf we are not careful, soon this type of announcement will be the most common thing we might hear while enjoying our plastic meal and zero-legroom comfort on most airline flights. This is about allowing you to use your phone for making and receiving calls on board.

A bit off topic, but I will say right for starters that the most important safety equipment I would make mandatory in cars is a little box that would render the voice and SMS functions of cellphones inoperative  while they were in motion. Seeing all those idiots slowing down, speeding up, swerving from lane to lane on the motorways, one does not even have to think whether he or she is drunk or has fallen asleep. Quite the contrary, they are either chatting away happily with (if we are lucky) one hand on the wheel or, even worse, they are writing text messages as if they were at home in the comfort of their armchairs. I do not know what level of brain damage is necessary for this kind of behavior but just think of what such monkeys will do if they are allowed to use their phones in flight.

Making a call to mom or the kids while on the shuttle from Boston to New York is nothing new of course. Seat-back phones have been a feature on many aircraft in the United States but the price of the call meant people used them sparingly and there was also an unsaid code of conduct in operation, preventing those making a call from also waking up everyone around them. Even most important, you could not receive calls via that system.

For a time the travelling public was spared the pain of having to listen to cellphone ringtones and chit-chat by virtue of the, otherwise totally groundless, fear that electronic equipment could interfere with aircraft systems. With PED’s (Personal Electronic Devices) now being released from the shackles, the debate over whether or not phones may be used for making and receiving voice calls has broken out in all its ferocity.
In the US, the three federal institutions that had to state a position on this are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Click here to read the full article


Combined winglet technology will save United airlines $200 million a year

On 19/02/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

ScimitarA United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft freshly retrofitted with new Split Scimitar Winglets took to the skies yesterday, marking the first commercial flight worldwide to operate with the advanced winglet technology. United flight 1273 on Tuesday took off from the airline’s Houston hub and flew to Los Angeles. The airline installed the innovative winglets on the Boeing 737-800 after the FAA approved the technology made by Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) earlier this month.

“We are proud to be the first airline in the world to fly with this unrivaled winglet technology that cuts our fuel consumption while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions,” said Ron Baur, United’s vice president of fleet. “We appreciate APB’s commitment to developing fuel-saving technology and look forward to realizing savings that come from the improved fuel efficiency.”

This new winglet design demonstrates significant aircraft drag reduction over the basic Blended Winglet configuration United uses on its current fleet. Using a newly patented design, the program retrofits United’s Boeing Next Generation 737 Blended Winglets by replacing the aluminum winglet tip cap with a new aerodynamically shaped “Scimitar”TM winglet tip cap and by adding a new Scimitar-tipped ventral strake. The new design will reduce fuel consumption by up to 2 percent per aircraft.

Last year, United served as the launch customer for the Split Scimitar winglet when it made a firm commitment with APB to retrofit its 737-800 and 737-900ER aircraft.

Click here to read the full article


American + US = what a combination!

On 13/11/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

photo_BLUSKYWith the all clear having been given for the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, the consolidation of the hub-carriers in the United States is just about complete. Any more merging and only one huge airline will be left, not counting the low-cost folks of course (who are not averse to doing a bit of their own merging here and there).

But this is not what I wanted to write a few words about.

The merger of American and US Airways touches a personal chord for me since I have had the good fortune of working with them both for the best part of two decades.

US Airways was one of the main promoters of collaborative decision making (CDM) and they were always ready to introduce new people into this simple but effective concept of doing what should have been the most normal thing in the world… something so evident, most people simply forgot about it. Talking to each other and sharing information before making decisions that affected all the partners. US Airways wowed to change all that. To a very large extent, they were successful too.

American Airlines was the biggest promoter of air/ground data link communications. At one point they were so upset by the FAA’s handling of the US data-link program that Russ Chew, who held various positions of increasing responsibility in American Airlines, came to Europe and asked us at IATA to help get AA on board the European data link trials project Petal, run by EUROCONTROL. It was a mild sunny day when IATA’s European Regional Director, Phil Hogge, Russ and myself were sitting in our little garden not far from Zaventem airport to discuss the best strategy for having AA join Petal with their 767s. They did and one of the most important consequences was that the FAA also woke up and got their act together. The rest is history…

Click here to read the full article


Customers can now use personal electronic devices gate-to-gate

On 07/11/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

pedUnited Airlines is now offering its customers electronics-friendly cabins on all domestic mainline flights. The airline received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin allowing passengers use of their portable electronic devices during all phases of flight. United will immediately implement the benefit for its customers.

With this change, United customers can safely use their lightweight, hand-held electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, games and smartphones – in non-transmitting mode from gate-to-gate, unless instructed otherwise by a crew member. Larger electronic devices, like laptops, must still be stored securely in an overhead bin or another approved stowage area during takeoff and landing.

“I want to thank the FAA and Administrator Huerta for working with us so quickly to offer this great benefit to our customers,” said Jim Compton, vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United. “Safely expanding the use of portable electronic devices is one of the many ways United is working to deliver a more user-friendly travel experience for our customers.”

Currently, only United customers traveling on mainline flights arriving or departing within the 50 United States may operate portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet. However, the airline is working with its regional partners to extend the benefit, and expects to allow customers gate-to-gate use of their electronic devices across all United Express flights operating within the 50 United States by the end of the year as well.

Passengers may still be asked to turn off their electronic devices in certain situations, such as low-visibility operations, and are reminded to carefully follow crew member instructions at all times. Voice calls from cell phones or VoIP-enabled devices are also still prohibited during taxiing, takeoffs, landings and while the aircraft is in flight.



United Airlines Named a Top Company for LGBT Equality

On 25/10/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

LGBTUnited Airlines was named one of the “Top Companies for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality” for 2013 by Work Life Matters magazine at an awards gala in New York City on Thursday evening. The annual award is presented to U.S. companies that lead their industries in developing programs and policies that support LGBT employees and promote workplace equality.

“At United, we are committed to supporting the rich diversity of ideas and experiences that reflect all of our customers and co-workers, and we are proud to receive this great recognition,” said Mike Bonds, the airline’s executive vice president for human resources and labor relations. “The unique backgrounds, lifestyles and perspectives of our diverse workforce help us improve the experience for our customers and create innovative solutions to our global business needs.”

United has long supported programs that promote LGBT awareness and inclusion. Earlier this year, the company received the Business Leadership Award from Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT advocacy group. United has also been named a “Best Place to Work” by the Human Rights Campaign five years in a row, and scored a 100 percent rating on the organization’s Corporate Equality Index.

While several companies were recognized by Work Life Matters for their LGBT-friendly policies and initiatives, United received the magazine’s top honor for the travel category. “We are pleased to honor each of these leading firms for serving as corporate pioneers by supporting the advancement of LGBT equality within their own organizations, as well as to the community-at-large,” said Lori Sokol, Ph.D., founder and publisher of Work Life Matters.



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