Entries in Department of Transportation (7)


US Airways and Aegean Airlines plan a codeshare agreement

US Airways and Aegean Airlines have announced they plan to codeshare on certain flights between the United States and Greece.  The proposed codeshare is focused on the American city of Philadelphia, where US Airways has a hub, and the Greek capital city of Athens, very near where Aegean Airways has its headquarters.  According to a recent press release from both airlines, US Airways travelers will be able to fly the seasonal route between Philadelphia International Airport (IATA: PHL; ICAO: KPHL) and Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (IATA: ATH; ICAO: LGAV) in Athens, and have access to much of the domestic network of Aegean Airlines.

US Airways travelers will also have the option to fly from Philadelphia to London's Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL), Munich's Franz Josef Strauss Airport (IATA: MUC; ICAO: EDDM), or Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport (IATA: FCO; ICAO: LIRF) on US Airways, then onward to Athens or Thessaloniki (IATA: SKG; ICAO: LGTS) on Aegean Airlines.

Aegean Airlines travelers will be able to fly the seasonal route to Philadelphia from Athens, and then have access to the entire American network of US Airways from Philadelphia.  (It was not indicated that US Airways' American network would be part of the codeshare.)

The proposed agreement is still subject to both United States Department of Transportation (DOT) approval, and approval by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, and Networks in the Hellenic Republic.  Both airlines are members of the Star Alliance.

original stories

US Airways and Aegean Airlines Announce New Codeshare (US Airways)

US Airways and Aegean Airlines Announce New Codeshare Agreement (Aegean Airlines)

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Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said earlier today that it has "no more anti-trust concerns" regarding the proposed merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines.  Shareholders within the two airlines' respective parent companies are scheduled to conduct a vote on the proposed merger on September 17.  Then, pending approval from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the two airlines expect the deal to be made final on October 1.

According to the Justice Department, the only concern about route overlap had to do with the commanding majority of the market share currently held at Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR; ICAO: KEWR) by Continental.  Continental operates a hub at Liberty International, and from July 2009 to June 2010, inclusive, nearly 71 percent of total passengers in to and out of that facility were handled by Continental.  United Airlines, not nearly as dominant at Liberty International as Continental, nevertheless flies passengers through the large airport 15 miles southwest of Midtown Manhattan, near Newark, New Jersey.

To re-balance the competitive playing field at Liberty International, the Justice Department required United and Continental to "open the door" at the facility, to Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines.  The low-cost carrier Southwest will receive takeoff and landing time slots from United and Continental, during both peak traffic times and off-peak traffic times.  Southwest currently flies to only one airport in the immediate New York metro area.  That is LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA; ICAO: KLGA), whence it currently connects non-stop to only two destinations.  Those are Midway International in Chicago, Illinois (IATA: MDW; ICAO: KMDW), and Baltimore/Washington International in Maryland (IATA: BWI; ICAO: KBWI).  Southwest's executive vice-president for strategy Bob Jordan said Southwest is still contemplating which locations to connect to through Liberty International.

United Airlines ultimately traces its origins to 1926, and to an air mail service founded by Walter Varney, and called Varney Air Lines.  Boeing Air Transport was founded a year later, by William Boeing.  In 1931, Varney and Boeing merged their companies to create United Airlines.  United flies a fleet of 360 aircraft to 73 domestic destinations and 41 international destinations.  United Airlines and and its subsidiaries together fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents, a distinction the airline only laid claim to earlier this year when it inaugurated its first ever service to the Ghanaian capital of Accra.  United Airlines' hubs are located in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago.  Its main offices are located in Chicago.

The airline now called Continental Airlines was also founded by Walter Varney.  It commenced operations in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines.  It changed its name to Continental Airlines three years later.  Continental and its subsidiaries fly to 130 domestic destinations and 132 international destinations.  It and its subsidiaries also fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents.  Continental Airlines' hubs are in Houston, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Newark, New Jersey; and on the American-owned island of Guam.  Its main offices are located in Houston.

The historical significance of this proposed merger could well be lost on the participants.  The airline resulting from this merger will be called United Airlines, but will use the logos of Continental Airlines.  The parent company of the resulting airline will be called United Continental Holdings, Inc.  The airline will be based in Chicago, but will eventually be run by Continental management.

related stories

Congressional hearings held on United-Continental merger (June 17, 2010)

The United-Continental merger is not yet a sure thing (May 19, 2010)

United and Continental will probably merge (May 3, 2010)

original story (BusinessWeek)


China-based carriers want to fly to Hawaii, but hit bureaucracy

Two airlines based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) China Eastern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines, have expressed that they want to fly between their hubs and focus cities in the PRC, and the American state of Hawaii.  For various reasons, neither has begun flying a route between the PRC and Hawaii.

A foreign country must receive “approved destination” status before marketing international travel to citizens of the PRC.  The United States received this status in 2008. But additional bureaucracy on both the Chinese side and the American side has stifled the process anyway.  Travel figures from the year 2008 are revealing.  Hawaii received 22 times more Japanese tourists in 2008, than it did Chinese tourists, despite Japan having only a tenth the population of China in 2008.

As of this post, China Eastern and Hainan fly to Hawaii via connecting cities in other countries, typically Tokyo, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea.  But no PRC-based airline flies non-stop between China and Hawaii.  Hainan Airlines, headquartered on the eponymous island south of the mainland, was supposed to start a three times weekly service in both directions, between Beijing and Honolulu sometime this year, but that has been put on hold.

China Eastern Airlines was formed in 1988, and is headquartered in the commercial and financial hub of Shanghai.  The city’s two major airports, Hongqiao International Airport (IATA: SHA; ICAO: ZSSS) and Pudong International Airport (IATA: PVG; ICAO: ZSPD), are China Eastern’s largest hubs.

Hainan Airlines was founded in 1989, and operates hubs at Haikou Meilan International Airport near its headquarters (IATA: HAK; ICAO: ZJHK), and also at Capital International Airport in the Chinese capital of Beijing (IATA: PEK; ICAO: ZBAA).  Hainan Airlines received approval from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) last October to fly the thrice-weekly Beijing-Honolulu non-stop route.

China Airlines, based in the Republic of China (Taiwan), flies twice weekly between the largest Taiwanese city Taipei, and Honolulu.  It would like to increase capacity per week on this route, according to the Pacific Business News, but is facing hurdles.  China Airlines was formed in 1959 in Taipei.  Its headquarters has remained in the largest Taiwanese city since the airline’s founding, and the airline operates a hub at Taoyuan International Airport on the island of Taiwan (IATA: TPE; ICAO: RCTP).

Additionally, Cathay Pacific Airways is based in Hong Kong, a “special administrative division” of the PRC.  Cathay Pacific was founded in 1946 by American and Australian former Air Force pilots.  Its hub is at Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG; ICAO: VHHH).  This airline, the largest of the four by number of international passengers, nevertheless does not fly to or from any airport in Hawaii, as of August 2010.

original story (Pacific Business News)


AA management and pilots debate refueling issues

Management at American Airlines are seeking to require the airline's pilots to fill out additional paperwork, justifying in detail any future request for additional fuel during the scheduled refueling of an aircraft prior to takeoff.  Some pilots at the airline believe this amounts to intimidation, and that because they (the pilots) are ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft, there should never be any hesitation from decision makers, following a pilot's request for more fuel.

American Airlines management countered that "there's no truth" to the rumor that a pilot with the Dallas, Texas-based carrier will be reprimanded simply for asking for more fuel to operate a certain flight.  The airline claimed that the additional paperwork simply allows the airline to make better-informed decisions about how much fuel to allocate (by default) to each flight, based on factors such as distance, load factor, wind direction, air temperature, and other weather-related factors.

American Airlines was formed in New York in 1930, when dozens of small airlines merged to form American Airways.  American Airlines relocated from New York, New York, to Dallas, Texas, in 1979.  Its largest hub is at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (IATA: DFW; ICAO: KDFW).  American Airlines recently received authorization from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enter into a three-way, trans-Atlantic focused partnership with the flag carrier of Spain, Iberia Airlines; and also with the United Kingdom's highest-profile airline, British Airways.

original story (www.portfolio.com)


Delta subsidiary Comair fined by DOT for bumping improperly

The Erlanger, Kentucky-based subsidiary of Delta Air Lines was fined 275,000 USD by the Department of Transportation (DOT) today for bumping passengers from overbooked flights improperly.  The Aviation Enforcement Office of the Department of Transportation found that Comair denied compensation to bumped passengers, and resorted directly to involuntary removals, without first soliciting volunteers. These violations were disputed by a Delta Air Lines spokesperson, who said that Delta and its subsidiaries "fully comply" with the regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation, according to ABC News Online.

Airlines frequently intentionally overbook flights so that a plane will still be as full as possible, even if some ticketed passengers do not show up for their flight.  When more ticketed passengers show up to fly than there are seats on the plane, Transportation Department regulations require airlines to first ask for volunteers to fly on a later, less crowded flight.  These volunteers are required to be compensated for the inconvenience, according to Transportation Department regulations.  If after asking for volunteers the airplane is still crowded beyond capacity, then an airline is permitted to remove passengers without their consent, until the number of passengers aboard is no higher than the aircraft's seating capacity.  Ticketed passengers involuntarily bumped are "entitled to $800 in cash compensation," according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.  The Enquirer also noted that the Department of Transportation considered raising that to 1300 dollars this past June.

The airline that became Delta Air Lines began flying passengers in 1929.  Delta set up offices in Atlanta, Georgia in 1941, where the airline's headquarters remain today.  Its main hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL).  Delta agreed to merge with Northwest Airlines two years ago.  The merger was completed earlier this year.  Comair is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, founded in 1977.  It has been located in Erlanger, Kentucky ever since its founding.  Atlanta, New York, and Boston are focus cities for Comair, which flies to 70 destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas.  Its main hub is Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (IATA: CVG; ICAO: KCVG).

original stories

Delta Air Lines Subsidiary Fined for Bumping (ABC News)

US fines Comair for bumping (Cincinnati Enquirer)


Hawaiian Airlines gets nod from DOT for service to Haneda

Last Friday, along with Delta, Hawaiian Airlines was also granted service by the United States Transportation Department, to and from Haneda International Airport (IATA: HND; ICAO: RJTT), the preferred airport of business travelers in Tokyo.  Hawaiian was approved for service to and from its hub at Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNL; ICAO: PHNL) on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  Hawaiian believes that the time slots of departure and arrival in both directions are especially convenient for business travelers.

No timetable for the commencement of this route has been posted on the website of Hawaiian Airlines.  Japan Airlines was the first airline scheduled to commence the round-trip route, which it plans to do on the last day of October this year.  Five other airlines, headquartered in both the United States and abroad, already fly non-stop, year-round between Honolulu and suburban Narita International east of Tokyo (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA).  Those are, in alphabetical order, All Nippon, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, and United Airlines.

Hawaiian applied to the Transportation Department for two daily round-trips between its hub Honolulu International and Haneda International, but only received one.  It plans to continue negotiating with DOT for the second daily round-trip.  Hawaiian Airlines was founded in 1929 as Inter-island Airways.  The airline changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines in 1941.  In the last decade, it has been frequently top-ranked nationally for on-time performance and baggage handling.

related story

Delta now praises DOT for approving non-stop flights to Haneda (May 8, 2010)

original story (Hawaiian Airlines)


Delta is angry at DOT and FAA for rejecting its time slot proposal

The largest American-based carrier criticized a decision of the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration yesterday, in a joint statement made with US Airways, and threatened legal action in connection therewith.  The decision rejected a proposal to the USDOT put forward by Delta and US Airways, involving slot transactions with four other North American carriers (JetBlue, AirTran, Spirit, and WestJet, the latter a low-cost Canadian carrier operating out of Calgary, Alberta).  The proposal would have affected the various airlines’ time slots at Kennedy International in New York (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK), and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. (IATA: DCA; ICAO: KDCA).

According to the Delta-US Airways joint response to the decision, approval of the proposal would have granted JetBlue additional access at strategically located DCA, and would have granted AirTran, Spirit, and WestJet additional access at JFK.  Delta also pointed out 7,000 jobs in the New York metropolitan area which it estimated would have been created if the proposal had been approved.

A slot in this context is a short period of time during which aircraft from a certain airline are permitted to take off from, or expected to arrive at, a certain airport.  All slots at large American airports are legally owned by the FAA, even though they are claimed as assets and valuated for accounting purposes by the airlines that use them.

The statement accused the USDOT and FAA of exceeding their statutory authority in rendering the decision.  The two airlines behind the statement said they would appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals (presumably for the Federal Circuit).

original story (US Airways)