Global Air Travel Keeps Falling
IATA (the International Air Travel Association) said that global air travel dropped for the second month in a row, with international passenger traffic down 1.3 percent compared to October 2007. That was a smaller decline than September’s 2.9 percent drop.
North American traffic declined 0.8 percent; Asia Pacific traffic was down 6.1 percent, European traffic was up 1.8 percent. IATA’s head, Giovanni Bisagnani, said that recession is now the biggest threat to airline profitability. (Source: IATA press release).
Fewer Planes in the Air Boost Performance
The airline industry’s capacity cuts, resulting in fewer flights operating daily, have contributed to the improvements in on-time performance shown above.
Notably, in September, when the share of flights arriving on time rose to 84.9%, carriers implemented the bulk of the large capacity cuts announced at the height of the summer’s oil-price surge. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Trend: Premium Economy Offers More Comfort but Still Coach
As tightening travel budgets restrict first and business class bookings, interest in the premium economy class is resurfacing. A dozen international airlines flying to the U.S. now offer extra legroom, wider seats and seats that recline lower in premium economy cabins at a cost that’s slightly more than coach but notably less than business class. Some carriers even include better meals, early boarding, access to faster airport security lines, and other amenities. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
United Makes It A Little Easier to Pay Baggage Fees and Buy Extra Leg Room
More airlines are making it a little easier for consumers to pay baggage and other fees.
United Airlines canceled its previously announced plans to increase the domestic second bag fee from $25 to $50 one way, and now lets you pay your baggage fee in advance on its website instead of at check-in. You can now upgrade online instead of at check-in to Economy Plus, which starts at an additional $14 one way for up to five additional inches of legroom. Next spring, your travel agent will be able to book your baggage and upgrade you to Economy Plus.
Northwest Airlines is another carrier that now lets you pay your baggage fee in advance when you check in online; Spirit Airlines discounts your baggage fees when you pay online. Look for more airlines to make it easier to pay a variety of fees in advance, either through your travel agent or on their website. (Source: United, Northwest and Spirit press releases).
Lufthansa has launched its new Lufthansa Italia, which it is billing as a blend of Lufthansa’s reliability and quality with Italian flair.
It will begin flying a fleet of six aircraft in February between northern Italy and major European destinations.
It ultimately plans to operate its own Italian airline. It will first operate to Paris and Barcelona, and then will add Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Madrid, London and Lisbon. (Source: Lufthansa press release).
Delta Realigns Fees
Delta Air Lines, which recently acquired Northwest Airlines, is aligning the fee structures of the two carriers. It has dropped award ticket fuel charges instituted to cope with soaring fuel costs and reduced the cost of telephone reservations from $25 to $20.
It has eliminated curbside check in administrative fees and aligned the two carriers’ baggage fees. In addition, Delta now offers passengers Coach Choice seats for an additional fee when they check in online 24 hours before departure. These are certain aisle, window or exit row seats. (Source: Delta press release).