Airlines Deal with Pilot Shortage as Travel Rebounds – Erie News Now

“People need to be aware of travel throughout the summer even though there is a pilot shortage,” said Martin. “You still need to get to the airport early. American Airlines, for example, has changed [its] requirements. You have to be here and ready to check your bag 45 minutes before departure. If you are used to being here 35 of 40 minutes before departure, you can’t do that anymore.”

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American Airlines Wins Just $1 From Sabre in 11-Year-Old Antitrust Case

Skift Take

The long-running case revolved around practices that the leading U.S. provider of airline fare data to travel agents imposes on nearly all airlines. If the verdict stands, it doesn’t make Sabre change, well, anything. Except maybe a smaller tip for a barista.

Airlines huffed at global distribution services companies like Sabre Corp. for decades. They puffed about how excessive fees and anti-competitive terms imposed by businesses that provide flight schedules, fare discount information, and booking services to travel agents were costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.

And on Thursday, a federal court jury in Manhattan blew their house down, awarding American Airlines $1 after an 11-year lawsuit against Sabre, whose dominance of the U.S. market for flight data used by travel agents has been one of the industry’s longest-running melodramas. A nominal victory for American, the result finds that Sabre’s practices didn’t cause American any financial harm.

The dispute was over practices Sabre used to force airlines to use its services, and prevent carriers from reaching out to travel agents and business travelers more directly. Bolstered by a 5-4 2018 Supreme Court decision that made it harder for antitrust plaintiffs to win, Sabre’s effective victory assures that competition and the industry’s recovery from Covid-19, rather than litigation, will be the primary near-term threat to Sabre’s position.

A U.S. District Court jury returned the verdict after a three-week trial. American inherited the case when it acquired US Airways in 2013. US Airways had sued Sabre in 2011, arguing that practices such as forcing the airline to make all of its fares bookable through Sabre and barring the airline from charging travel agents a separate fee to cover Sabre’s service had cost it nearly $300 million. In 2010, US Airways reported a profit of $502 million on sales of $11.9 billion.

US Airways officially won one of its two antitrust claims in the case. But the tiny damages award showed the jury didn’t believe the airline suffered any harm.

“We believe the jury’s … award of $1 is commensurate with the evidence presented,” Sabre said in a statement released by its public relations firm.

In its own statement, American focused on the hope that the verdict might force Sabre to change its ways.

“We expect this decision to discourage further misconduct by Sabre and bring needed competition to airline distribution,” the company said. “The jury found that Sabre is a monopolist that abused its power.”

The distribution services — including Texas-based Sabre, as well as Amadeus in Madrid and UK-headquartered Travelport — have survived years of efforts by tech-driven interlopers and online travel agencies to dislodge them. Their tactics included some of the actions US Airways has complained about in the lawsuit, threatening to cut off airlines from access to travel agencies who use global distribution systems if they move too aggressively on direct sales.

The big fight between airlines and distribution systems has been over the corporate travel market. Big corporate agencies like American Express Global Business Travel use the distribution services to show all major airlines, and all of their sale fares, in a single search. And because the distribution services usually require airlines to list every fare in their system to be included at all, the services are very valuable to corporations that may need to send people to little-used destinations or to get them there at unusual times.

Airlines have been able to work around the distribution services when selling tickets through their own websites. Those sites can offer special deals not available through Sabre and companies like it. Online travel agencies, which vie with supplier sites for control of the leisure travel market, still use the middlemen in part Sabre pays them to do so, and airlines stopped paying online agencies commissions more than a decade ago. Online agencies and airline websites mostly serve leisure travelers, while corporate travel agencies like American Express Global Business Travel have backed Sabre and other distribution companies.

American Express declined to comment on the lawsuit on Thursday.

Changes in the industry since the case was filed make the verdict less significant, said Seth Borko, senior analyst at Skift Research. Distribution service fees now take up less than 5 percent of the cost of the average airline ticket, and Sabre said in its first-quarter conference call with stock analysts that its average fee in the first quarter was $5.28 per ticket. Plus fewer tickets are sold through the distribution services as airline Web sites have grown in importance.

American had won a $15 million verdict in a 2016 trial of the case that was overturned on appeal. That case found that Sabre’s practices had caused $5 million in damages, which are tripled under antitrust law to deter misconduct. An appellate court threw out that verdict, ordering the trial court to have a new trial that applied new antitrust standards the U.S. Supreme Court announced in a 2018 case involving credit card fees.

In the new trial, American had to prove that Sabre’s practices harmed consumers, and that competition couldn’t be protected in some less restrictive way. In the case that went to the Supreme Court, evidence that credit card use kept rising despite American Express’ high merchant fees prevented plaintiffs from showing that Amex’s fees harmed consumers and merchants. With airline profitability having boomed and travel having grown steadily between 2011 and the onset of the Covid pandemic, that was a difficult case to make.

The result is similar to a $1 verdict in 1986 against the National Football League, which officially lost an antitrust suit brought by the upstart US Football League, whose New York franchise was owned by a brash real estate developer named Donald Trump. The USFL went out of business after the case, having failed to win any order changing the older league’s anti-competitive behavior.

UPDATED: This story was updated to include comments from Sabre and American Airlines.

See below a copy of the jury sheet.

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American Airlines and Microsoft partnership aims to smooth travel experience – Breaking Travel News

American Airlines and Microsoft partnership aims to smooth travel experience  Breaking Travel News

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What Are the Most Eco-Friendly Airlines? Green Travel Tips Ahead

Obviously, air travel does a number on the planet emissions-wise, so if you’re really looking to go low-impact, we suggest another mode of transportation. However, we know that isn’t always feasible.

That said, Green Matters has rounded up a list of the most eco-friendly airlines based on 2020 data from Next Vacay. Travel experts analyzed airline information, calculating their 2020 carbon intensity, the size and number of aircrafts, and if the airlines recycled onboard waste — check it out!

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Hawaiian Airlines Invested in Sea Gliders for Future Travel

Courtesy of Regent

Editor’s Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC’s latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

Island hopping may soon feel even more literal, according to a report from The Points Guy. Hawaiian Airlines invested in Regent, a company that makes 100% electric-powered seagliders.

The seagliders are between a plane and a boat, hovering just feet above the water as it reaches cruising speeds. The seaglider rises on its retractable hydrofoil, which gives it lift above the water’s surface. Regent told The Points Guy that the seaglider maintains its motion and position above water by a “dynamic air cushion created by the pressurized air between the wings and the water.”

The seaglider model that Hawaiian Airlines is investing in, called the Monarch, will be able to transport as many as 100 people, with maximum speeds of 180 miles per hour. According to a press release shared by Hawaiian Airlines, the fleet of seagliders could be out on the water by the year 2028.

A rendering of the Monarch seaglider that Hawaiian Airlines invested in. | Courtesy of Regent

“Innovative interisland transportation has been core to our business since 1929 when we replaced steamships with airplanes. We are excited to be an early investor in Regent and to be involved in developing their largest seaglider—a vehicle with great potential for Hawai’i,” said Avi Mannis, chief marketing and communications officer at Hawaiian Airlines, in the press release. “We look forward to working with Regent to explore the technology and infrastructure needed to fulfill our vision for convenient, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable interisland transportation.”

There are currently no plans to replace Hawaiian Airlines’ existing 130 daily flight routes in Hawaii with seagliders. But the electric-powered seagliders are part of the airline’s goal to implement more sustainable transportation methods within its service.

“Seagliders will be a game-changer for sustainable regional transportation in communities such as Hawai’i. Through close partnerships with design partners and strategic investors such as Hawaiian Airlines, we can fully understand our operators and unlock their ability to provide zero-emission transportation solutions to their customers,” said Billy Thalheimer, Regent CEO, in a press release.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.

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JetBlue Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Spirit Airlines

JetBlue began what amounts to a hostile takeover bid of Spirit Airlines on Monday when it sent a revised acquisition proposal and filed a proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that urges Spirit shareholders to vote against Frontier Airlines’ merger offer at a June 10 special meeting.

The tactics come about two weeks after Spirit rejected JetBlue’s initial all-cash offer of $33 per share, valued at $3.6 billion, in favor of the deal with Frontier, which was valued at $2.6 billion. Spirit cited concerns the JetBlue deal would not be approved by regulators, highlighting the pending antitrust suit against JetBlue’s “Northeast Alliance” with American Airlines.

Under its new takeover proposal, JetBlue has lowered its offer to $30 per share, “given the Spirit board failed to provide us the necessary diligence information it has provided Frontier,” wrote JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes in a letter to Spirit shareholders. Should the shareholders vote to reject the Frontier offer, JetBlue “will work towards a consensual transaction at $33 per share, subject to receiving the information to support it.”

The revised bid still includes a reverse break-up fee of $200 million should the deal not be approved, but JetBlue remains unwilling to divest its Northeast Alliance. Instead, it would offer to the U.S. Department of Justice a “remedy package that contemplates the divestiture of all Spirit assets located in New York and Boston so, as a result of the transaction, we do not increase our presence in the airports covered by our Northeast Alliance, as well as gates and related assets at other airports, including Fort Lauderdale.”

JetBlue maintains that a JetBlue-Spirit combination “will create a more compelling and viable competitor to the Big Four airlines that control more than 80 percent of the U.S. market,” and is “confident” it will obtain regulatory approval as “Spirit’s suggestion that our Northeast Alliance is a regulatory obstacle has no basis in fact or in law.”

Spirit did not immediately response to a request for comment.

RELATED: Spirit Board Rejects JetBlue Acquisition Proposal, Sticks with Frontier

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American Airlines will get college football fans to End Zone with more fights and seats – Breaking Travel News

American Airlines will get college football fans to End Zone with more fights and seats  Breaking Travel News

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Travel: Beat airlines’ extra costs with cheap flight tips from money saving expert | Travel News | Travel

Ellie said: “We know that even things like hen and stag do costs have rocketed over the past 10 years, in fact, found that costs have jumped 61 percent in the past decade, with the average celebration costing a huge £242.

“To try and make some savings when booking in bulk like this, make the most of reward schemes.

“On you get a stamp for every night stayed at the property, collect 10 stamps and you get a reward night, which will equate to the average value of the previous 10 stamps. An easy way to make savings.”

Airlines add charges for things like baggage allowance, baggage check-in, excess baggage, in-flight food, booking fees, check-in fees.

They also charge for seat selection, more for a seat with extra legroom.

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Tips for navigating cancellations and travel changes if your Alaska Airlines experience proves ‘choppy’

Are you planning on flying Alaska Airlines soon?

You may be in for a “choppy ride,” according to Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.

The issue is not turbulence at 30,000 feet. Rather, it has to do with your odds of getting into the air at all. Alaska has been canceling flights and axing routes throughout the spring due to a shortage of pilots.

In a video presentation Thursday to the airline’s frequent flyers, Minicucci owned up to the cancellations. “We’ve been canceling about 50 out of 1,200 flights daily,” he said. Minicucci said that the cancellations are likely to continue, although he’s hopeful things will get better as the summer progresses.

Flights get canceled every day. But the corresponding bottleneck with Alaska Airlines’ customer service centers compounds the problems for travelers. Travelers have reported waiting on hold for 10 hours or more.

Recently, my flight on Alaska Airlines was canceled just as we were getting ready to board. Also, I’ve spoken with many travelers, some industry representatives and travel agents to distill some key steps for travelers when they’re faced with a canceled flight.

If you have plans to fly with Alaska Airlines this summer, take a moment right now and review your arrangements. Go online and double-check your flights, your seat assignments and any other arrangements you’ve made with the airline. Make sure none of your flights have been changed or canceled.

In his recent video, Minicucci said Alaska Airlines has been canceling about 4% of its flights. Previously, the airline had implemented a 2% reduction in its schedule. So that means that more flights are getting canceled in an effort to match up available pilots and crew with planes to fly.

Don’t wait for Alaska Airlines to contact you if your flights have been changed. However, if you do receive an email notice that your flight is canceled, call the airline using the unpublished number in the email. That’s different from the regular reservations number. According to Tim Thompson, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines, that “secret number” in the notification email will help you skip to the front of the line to speak with a customer service agent.

[Travelers can expect Alaska Airlines to keep canceling flights at high level for weeks]

If your flights are canceled and you need to call the airline, seek out the person in your party with the highest elite-level status. Typically that’s MVP Gold or above. When an elite-level traveler calls, their calls are answered first.

One traveler was flying with her family to Palm Springs when her flight got canceled at the gate. She called Alaska Airlines and was put on hold, then opted to get a call back from reservations. After getting a ride back home, she used her husband’s phone to call. He’s a top-level elite flyer. The reservations staff answered right away and she was able to rebook everyone’s flight. Sitting in the lounge the next day before their new flight, she finally got a call back from Alaska Airlines. It had been more than 24 hours.

In addition to calling on your phone, you can send a text to the airline, at 82008. Keep your messages below 160 characters. I’ve never used the text function, but I have had good luck in the past sending a direct note via Twitter. Alaska has a dedicated social media team that monitors Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

When my flight was canceled two weeks ago, I walked over to the agent manning the counter. A woman named Grace helped rebook me for the next flight. I renamed her “Grace Under Fire” since 50 people quickly lined up behind me to get rebooked.

Sometimes it’s easier to go to the airport and talk to a customer service agent than to reach Alaska’s customer service office by phone.

I spoke with an Anchorage-based travel agent about Alaska’s woes. When asked for advice to travelers, the agent scoffed and said, “I don’t know. Maybe book Delta.”

We laughed. The agent continued, “This is a problem when you’re in a one-airline town. There aren’t a lot of other options.”

For most travelers in the state, Alaska Airlines is the preferred airline. For many, it’s the only option. At least here in Anchorage, there are some competitive options heading south to the Lower 48.

In his video address, Alaska’s CEO Minicucci acknowledges that rebooking during a peak travel time can be difficult. One elite-level traveler was headed to St. Louis for a presentation when his flight from Seattle was canceled. At the last minute, he could have purchased a replacement ticket for $2,500. That was too much, so he canceled the presentation and Alaska refunded his ticket.

If you really need to get to your destination, call and buy another ticket. You have 24 hours to hold the ticket, during which time you can refund it without penalty. Save your receipts and sort it out with Alaska’s customer service later. It’s always a good idea to get the name of the customer service agent who’s helping you, as well as the time and date.

Consider travel insurance. I have a travel insurance policy with Allianz, mostly for lost luggage and accidents. Some cancellations may be covered under the “travel delay” portion of the policy, including lodging, meals and transportation. My credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, also has a robust travel insurance package. It includes trip delay insurance and expenses for lost or delayed baggage. There also is a category for replacement tickets, but there are caps on the benefits. There’s really no way of knowing exactly what’s covered without reading the fine print.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic, travel insurance has become more popular.

If Alaska Airlines is rebooking you and the other Alaska flights don’t work, ask the agent to book you on another airline. Airlines do this every day, but sometimes you have to ask. Also, if your new flight requires a long layover, be sure to ask for assistance with lodging and meals.

Many travelers are concerned that Alaska Airlines pilots are on strike, because of informational picketing that took place last month. The pilots are not on strike. This month, the pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA, is taking a strike-authorization vote. While the pilots’ negotiations are a distinct and separate issue from the current pilot shortage, there’s still a connection. That’s because some pilots are leaving Alaska Airlines to work for other airlines. The union made its own video to highlight this issue.

All airlines are looking to bring on new pilots, so hiring is very competitive. Alaska Airlines is working hard to hire and train new pilots, reservations agents and flight attendants to accommodate a surge in travel this summer. Hopefully, the airline will be successful in reducing the number of canceled flights and impacted passengers. In the meantime, passengers must be prepared for a “choppy ride.”

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