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United Airlines celebrated its 90th birthday on April 6th.  In a year when many aviation pioneers are celebrating major milestones, it is important to reflect back on the progress of the industry, which has been amazing.  Congratulations to United and its employees on this important milestone.  From the first flight attendants to the first flight kitchen to the first airline alliance and introduction of several major aircraft, including the 777, United is celebrating its industry innovations. Continue reading

E-taxi pioneers Wheeltug just released research (ground operations summary 31 Mar 2016) it undertook monitoring airport operations.  The case for adding e-taxi capabilities to aircraft has tended to focus on saving fuel burn.  But fuel burn is no longer such an important issue in cost terms, though in “green” terms cutting fuel burn is still attractive.  Wheeltug has, for some time now, been focusing on time savings rather than fuel savings.  A generally accepted cost for airline operations is $100 per minute.  More on this shortly. Continue reading

United Airlines announced today a fleet update that formally states it has bought more 737-700s.  The initial 40 plus another 25.  United will take delivery of the aircraft beginning at the end of 2017.  This is clearly faster than what Bombardier could have done, but more importantly, United no doubt paid less.

United says the 737-700s enable it to continue utilizing larger, more efficient aircraft as the airline reduces the size of its 50-seat regional fleet. United expects to have fewer than 100 aircraft in its 50-seat fleet by the end of 2019. In this regard, United is following its competitors in up-sizing away from small RJs. Unmentioned is the likelihood service will be cut back at more communities and cause some harm by disconnecting these communities to the greater economy via air service.

United also announced that it will retire its 747s from scheduled service by… Continue reading

Republic Airways yesterday declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after several quarters of falling revenues and being forced to ground aircraft due to a pilot shortage. The company, which has feeder contracts with American, Delta, and United, will continue flying its full schedule of about 1,000 flights to more than 100 cities while it restructures its finances and contracts.

While the major airlines are showing robust performance, regional airlines have suffered. This bankruptcy follows other Chapter 11s in the regional sector, which has been shrinking as 50 seat jets are being phased out and a pilot shortage is changing economic conditions.

Republic, which shows assets of $3.6 billion and liabilities of $3.0 billion, has sufficient liquidity to meet working capital and operating expenses during the restructuring process, and will continue to honor union agreements with its 6,000 employees.

One key question moving forward is whether the company will be able to extricate… Continue reading

Yesterday the aviation world was aflutter over the United Airlines selection of the 737-700.  And it was with good reason, as our chart showed, the -700 is ex-growth.  Market interest is minimal.

Then more news emerged about the -700 that, perhaps, provides some context to the United order.  Southwest’s CEO said in the company’s earnings call that they exercised six 737-800 options and also placed new orders for 27 more. These aircraft will allow for accelerated retirement of aging 737-300 and 737-500s.  But Southwest also converted its remaining 25 737-700 options to -800s.  Not only is this conversion interesting, but Southwest adding quite a bit to its capacity.  These 25 conversions suit Boeing as well since it is by far the most popular 737NG, and more expensive than the -700.

The conversion occurs conveniently close to the United order.  Perhaps Boeing is able… Continue reading