Pre Programs Performance and Oil Prices

Rising Oil Prices Hurt Airlines’ Financial Outlook
International Air Transport Association is downgrading its outlook for the aviation industry by half a billion dollars this year because of high fuel prices.

Business class on Delta Ailines.

It estimates that the world´s airlines will see a global profit of $3 billion this year for a .5 % margin, a $500 million downgrade from its December forecast. That´s due to the increase in expected oil prices to $115 per barrel instead of the $99 per barrel originally forecast.

The outlook would be more dire if the Eurozone crisis worsened. An improving U.S. economy also is helping. Capacity is expected to grow by 3.2%, while demand is expected to grow by 3.6%. Both passenger load factors and aircraft utilization are back to pre-recession levels. Political tensions in the Gulf could make oil go higher; that could push airlines into the red. (Source: IATA press release).

Airline On-Time Performance Improves
Airline on-time performance was much better in January, the latest figures available, than it had been a year earlier, going up to an on-time arrival rate of 83.7% from 76.3% in January 2011. It was the best January for on time performance in 18 years, according to the Department of Transportation.

Cancellations were down, too, with airlines cancelling just 1.5% of flights, down from 3.9% in January 2011. And, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic or international flights. (DOT press release).

TSA Expands Pre Program to More Than 20 Airports
The Transportation Security Administration expects to have its Pre✓ program in place at many of the nation´s major airports by the end of the year. It expects to have it operating in more than 20 airports by June.

Right now the expedited screening program for passengers who provide information about themselves in advance is in place at nearly a dozen airports. Airports that should have it in place by June include Boston Logan, New York LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Orlando, Portland International and Seattle-Tacoma.

Participating airlines are Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and US Airways.

Participants go through a separate security lane and some times do not have to remove shoes, coats and sweaters or take a laptop out of its bag. This is part of a risk-based security programs; program participants are not guaranteed expedited screening.

The TSA still conducts random and unpredictable security checks. The TSA is adding other risk-based security procedures, including expanded behavior detection techniques and modified screening procedures for those 75 years old or older. (TSA press release).

Four Airlines Change Terminals at LAX as Airport Updrades
Four airlines have or are about to change terminals at Los Angeles International this month as part of the airport’s capital improvement program.

Spirit Airlines, Great Lakes and Alaska Airlines have already moved terminals; later this month, AirTran Airways will also move to a different terminal. Spirit and Great Lakes have moved from Terminal 6 to Terminals 3 and 7 respectively. Alaska is now in Terminal 6, which has expanded lobby space, check-in kiosks, bag-check stations and a new baggage community screening system. (LAX press release).

Aviation Taxes, Consumer Protection Rules & WiFi

Aeromexico

Aeromexico

Travel Industry Opposes New Aviation Taxes
Both the aviation industry and travel and tourism industries are opposing the President Obama’s plan to impose $3.5 billion annually in new taxes on airlines and their passengers to help pay off the country’s budget deficit. A major bone of contention: an increase in the Aviation Passenger Security Fee.

The proposal would up it to $5 per flight. It had been $2.50 per flight segment, for a maximum of $5 per one-way trip. The fee would then increase by 50 cents each year through 2017, maxing out at $7.50. Fifteen billion dollars of the new taxes would go into the General Fund for debt reduction, with any money beyond that going toward the Transportation Security Administration´s (TSA) discretionary appropriations.

The Air Transport Association says fee increases will force airlines to raise fares or reduce service, which will mean fewer jobs. According to the ATA, federal taxes and fees in the United States account for $61, or 20%, of the cost of a typical $300 domestic round-trip ticket.

The U.S. Travel Association, a travel industry advocacy group, also opposed the tax, saying that any increase in travel fees should be invested directly into the national travel system and infrastructure. The travel industry in general has taken the position that governments are responsible for national security costs, not specific industries. (Source: ATA and USTA press releases).

Airlines Lose Bid to Delay Implementation of New Consumer Protection Rules
Three low-cost carriers lost their legal challenge of new Department of Transportation consumer protection rules scheduled to go into effect Jan. 24.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia denied Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airines and Allegiant Airlines’ attempt to block a rule that would require them to include all taxes and fees in the fares they advertise instead of breaking them out separately. The airlines say that they differentiate themselves with low fares and want consumers to know how much of what they pay goes to taxes.

Airlines also asked the court to review a ban on raising airline prices after consumers buy their ticket. And they protested the new rule requiring airlines to let consumers cancel a flight without penalty within 24 hours of booking that flight.

Many airlines, already do this; including American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and US Airways. But Spirit says that consumers will abuse this and the result will be higher ticket prices. The court denied the airlines´ challenge, saying that they had not met stringent requirements for such as stay. (Source: court documents).

Airlines Lose Bid to Delay Implementation of New Consumer Protection RulesAirlines Lose Bid to Delay Implementation of New Consumer Protection Rules
One in five users of Gogo inflight internet service say that they’ve switched carriers because they´d rather be on flights with inflight internet service, according to a survey of 7,000 Gogo users. Inflight Wifi is particularly important to business travelers, according to Gogo, which provides inflight Wifi to eight airlines. Three airlines have Wifi on their entire domestic fleet: AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America. Five more have it on select aircraft; they are: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways. (Source: Gogo press release).

Pace of Air Travel Growth Starts to Slow
As expected, passenger air travel growth began to slow in August, according to numbers just released by the International Air Traffic Association. Passenger demand was up 4.5%, less than the 6% July increase.

North American carriers reported the weakest performance with growth of just 2.9%, which was partly a result of equally slow growth in capacity. This is a sharp downturn from stronger growth earlier in the year, as reflected in the 5.6% year-to-date demand expansion. However, North American carriers had the highest load factor at 86.1%. (Source: IATA press release).

An Exciting New Year For Travel

Dear Valued Clients,

On behalf of all of us at Williamsburg Travel Management, we wish you a Very Happy New Year and a very successful 2011. It will be a very exciting year for the travel industry with many opportunities to travel to new and exotic destinations by air and by sea.

The Allure of the Seas has joined her sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas as the 2 largest cruise ships in the world. Both sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean Itineraries from Port Everglades and feature an amazing array of dining and entertainment venues. Azamara Club Cruises is Royal Caribbean’s boutique brand and has just added numerous service enhancements such as complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, a gratuities inclusive pricing structure, and new port intensive itineraries. They feature smaller ships with a more upscale, intimate and relaxed feel. Both ships have a capacity of approximately 700 guests and will sail longer, more exotic journeys to the Mediterranean and to South America.

This year there will be more cruise capacity in the Mediterranean than ever before. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara will have 12 ships sailing in the Mediterranean and in European waters this year. Cruising is a great way to see Europe since you may pay for the cruise and shore excursions in U. S. Dollars.

Delta Air Lines has continued a major expansion of International routes to new destinations in Africa and across the Pacific. We look forward to their new terminal facilities at New York’s JFK International Airport and the completing of major construction projects at CDG International Airport in Paris.

We greatly appreciate your business and if any of us can ever be of special assistance, please do not hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

Terry W. Brennan
President
Williamsburg Travel Management

Airline updates: fees increase

Delta Airlines

International Premium Travel Sees First Uptick in Nearly Two Years
The International Air Transport Association reported that international premium travel was up 1.7 percent in December 2009 over a year earlier. That’s the first increase since May 2008. Economy travel was up five percent over a year earlier.

The recession hit airlines hard throughout the first half of 2009, but a post-recession upturn began in the second half. May marked the low point for premium travel while February marked the low point for economy travel. (Source: IATA press release).

Global Air Capacity Grows for the Sixth Month in a Row More good news came from OAG, the aviation data tracking company.

It reported that in February, global airline capacity was up five percent, the sixth month in a row that it has increased. The single exception: North America, which reported a one percent decline in February in both flight frequency and capacity.

However, North America saw positive growth of three percent and two percent for frequency and capacity in flights to and from the region. Decreases continue on service between North America and Western Europe, where routes have five percent fewer seats and five percent fewer flights for the month.

Still, the OAG said airlines are adding routes in North America—108, with most being domestic flights. (Source: OAG press release).

U.S. Airline Revenue Up for First Time in More Than a Year
Other positive airline news: The Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 1.4 percent in January, reversing 14 consecutive months of declines.

Traffic was down very slightly--.4 percent—and the average price to fly one mile was up very slightly--.6 percent. James C. May, president and CEO of the ATA, said that the small revenue increase, coupled with a 17 percent increase in cargo traffic, could be the sign of a recovery. (Source: ATA press release).

Business Travel Continues Slow Recovery
Business travel continues its slow recovery with more than one in seven (15 percent) adults planning at least one business trip during the next six months, up from 13 percent recorded one year earlier.

According to the travel horizons survey co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association.The U.S. Travel Association projects a slight increase in both business and leisure travel for 2010 over 2009. The "perceived safety of travel," declined from 93.8 in October 2009 to 84.8 in February 2010, presumably due to lingering concerns about the "Christmas Bomber" incident that occurred in Detroit over the recent holidays. (Source: Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association press release).

Virgin America Ups Baggage Fees, American Charges for Blankets
Airlines continue to add on fees. American Airlines, following the lead of other airlines, will charge $8 for blankets and pillows in coach starting May 1.

Virgin America upped its baggage fee for all checked bags to $25 from $20. First Class passengers continue to check two bags for free; Main Cabin select and Main Cabin passengers with refundable fares can check their first bag for free. (Source: Virgin America press release, American statement).

Road Warriors Biggest Worry is Those at Home
Nearly 74 percent of business travelers say their stay-behind spouse has expressed concern about being left home alone, according to a survey commissioned by Logitech, a Swiss technology company.

Even more, 79 percent frequently worry about their significant other when traveling for business. Fifty-nine percent said they would look for a job with less business travel when the economy improves. And 54 percent would take a $5,000 paycut if it meant never having to travel for work again. (Source: Logitech press release)

Tough TSA Security Checks

TSA Toughens Security for Passengers from Nations Sponsoring Terrorism
In the wake of a failed bombing attempt on a flight into the United States on Christmas, U.S. Transportation Security Administration has mandated anyone flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world who is coming from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest must undergo a tougher security check, including the use of enhanced screening technologies.

tsa security

That means increased gate screening, including pat-downs and bag searches. Passengers will be told to stow personal items, turning off electronics and stay seated for certain parts of the flight.

Additionally, the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA) has disallowed carry-on bags for those passengers originating in Canada and traveling to the United States. Air Canada is waiving excess baggage fees, letting customers check up to three additional bags at no extra charge. For details on the Canadian policy, visit http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/backgrounders-menu-5781.htm. (Source: CTSA, TSA directives and press releases).

Business Travel Advocates Propose Aviation Security Systems Improvements
The business travel community has been pinpointing gaps in aviation security and ways to improve it. Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, pointed out that the accused terrorist´s own father notified U.S. officials of his son’s extreme religious views and that the suspect had been placed in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database but not on the terrorist selectee list or no-fly list.

Mitchell said that Britain had refused the suspect´s visa request, according to the London Daily Mail. Mitchell said the U.S. should focus on questioning passengers and better screening instead of restricting passenger movement in flight. The U.S. Travel Association recommended that the government use screening techniques that strengthen security, balance travelers' privacy needs and improve traveler facilitation.

It highlighted whole body imaging (WBI) and using more security dogs both security measures that it believes should be looked at more carefully. The National Business Travel Association urged aviation and homeland security officials to consider risk-management security programs when reviewing current and future airline passenger protection regulations. (Source: BTC, TA, NBTA press releases).

DOT Limits Tarmac Delays to Three Hour Travelers did get some good news. The Department of Transportation limited the amount of time domestic flights can sit on the tarmac to three hours, unless security concerns or safety deem otherwise.

After two hours, carriers have to give passengers food and drink. The rule goes into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Source: (DOT press release.)

Airline Numbers Showing Improvement
The failed terrorist attempt came just as aviation numbers were improving. November´s international traffic was up 2.8% over November 2008, according to the International Air Traffic Association.

Passenger demand was up 6.4% from its lows of 2008 but still below the peaks of early 2008. And OAG, which tracks airline supply worldwide, said that global capacity was up 4% in December 2009 over December 2008, although North American flight frequencies declined 2%. And, the Airline Reporting Corp., which processes airline ticket purchases, reported that for the first time since September 2008, total sales in November were up--by 6.72% over November 2008. (Source: IATA, OAG, and ARC press releases.)

New US-Japan Open Skies Agreement Liberalizes Air Service on Pacific
A new Open Skies agreement between the U.S. and Japan means that airlines from both countries can select routes and destinations based on consumer demand for both passenger and cargo services, without limitations on the number of U.S. or Japanese carriers that can fly between the two countries or the number of flights they can operate. 

It will remove restrictions on capacity and pricing, and provide unlimited opportunities for cooperative marketing arrangements, including code sharing, between U.S. and Japanese carriers.  The agreement also would provide opportunities for growth of U.S. carrier operations at Tokyo´s Narita Airport. (Source: DOT press release).

Airlines Travel Update American and Delta

Alaska Airlines

American AAdvantage Reduces Mileage Accrual, But Drops FF Booking Fee
American Airlines’ AAdvantage no longer offers minimum mileage guarantee for its non-elite status members for shorter flights on American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, oneworld member airlines, AAdvantage participating airlines as well as rail service and codeshare service booked under an AA flight number.

Customers now will earn AAdvantage miles only for the actual miles flown or, in some cases, for the applicable percentage of miles flown. But, in a give-back for travelers, American has eliminated the $5 fee to book frequent flyer miles. (Source: American Airlines press release).

New Delta Three-Tiered Award Structure Gives More Flexibility for Redeeming Miles
Delta Air Lines new three-tiered Award structure allows customers to combine dates, as well as Economy, First and BusinessElite cabin seating at various mileage levels to create their itineraries.

SkyMiles members also are able, once again, to use miles to book the last seat on a flight. For booking a round-trip flight, tiers now start at 25,000, 40,000 and 60,000 miles rather than 25,000 and 50,000 miles. Customers may search for and book Award Travel using the new structure online. Members cam earn miles with Delta, Delta Shuttle, the Delta Connection carriers, Delta AirElite and other SkyTeam airlines as well as with more than 100 partners, including the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. (Source: Delta press release)

American Offers Priority Check
in and Boarding to Eite and Premium Travelers at JFK American Airlines is now offering PriorityAAccess privileges at John F. Kennedy International Airport to AAdvantage elite status members, First and Business Class travelers, AAirpass customers, and full-fare Economy Class customers.

They get a dedicated check-in area at the ticket counter, go through exclusive security screening lanes and have a separate boarding lane at JFK departure gates.

Signs clearly mark special check-in areas and security lanes. Priority AAcess security lanes are also available at Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, Los Angeles, New York La Guardia, St. Louis, San Francisco, Boston and San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Source: AA press release).

Global Entry Program Speeds Frequent Travelers Through Passport Control
at Chicago

US. Customs has opened Global Entry centers at Chicago O’Hare International to expedite international arrival processing for returning U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Global Entry travelers go to a special kiosk and insert their U.S. passports or lawful permanent resident cards into a document reader. The kiosk will direct travelers to provide digital fingerprints and will compare that biometric data with the fingerprints on file.

Global Entry is in place at JFK, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston and Washington Dulles airports. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release).

TSA, Continental Test Paperless Boarding in Cleveland
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Continental Airlines are testing Paperless Boarding Passes at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The boarding passes are passengers’ cell phones or PDAs. The passes have bar codes and passenger and flight information; security officers check them with handheld scanners. (Source: Continental press release).

TSA Expands Self Select Lanes to Newark
The Transportation Security Administration has expanded its Self-Select Lanes to Newark International Airport; 44 airports now have these lanes, which direct travelers based on their travel needs and knowledge.

Casual are for less frequent travelers, Family/Special Assistance for those traveling with small children or strollers or with elderly people or those who need special assistance. (Source: TSA press release).

Airline laptop & wifi updates Sept 2008

American, BA, Iberia Form Transatlantic Alliance

Airlines continue to seek scale by working ever more closely together. The latest example of this is the business agreement between American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia. The airlines say the deal will give their customers more destinations to choose from while helping the airlines to save money and attract new customers, which in turn would ease the upward pressure on airfares due to rising fuel costs.

Fuel prices are dropping but continue to take their toll, as evidenced by the shutdown of the discount transatlantic carrier Zoom Airlines (Source: American, BA, Iberia press releases and Zoom website).

American, Delta Offer WiFi
In-flight Delta Air Lines made its´ announcement first but American Airlines was first out of the gate with in-flight WiFi. American now has inflight WiFi on its Boeing 767-200s flying between New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The service costs $12.95 on flights of more than three hours; travelers simply turn on their WiFi enabled devices, including laptops, smart phones and PDAs, once they hit 10,00 feet and are connected to Aircell’s Gogo portal, the WiFi provider, where they sign up for the service. Delta, meanwhile, will offer WiFi on its domestic fleet of 330 mainline aircraft, also with Gogo, introducing it on its MD 88/99 aircraft this fall and rolling it out fleet wide in the first half of 2009. The service will cost $9.95 on flights or three hours or less and $12.95 on flights of three hours or more. (Source: American, Delta press releases).

TSA Lets You Leave Your Laptop in Some Bags
The Transportation Security Administration will now let you leave your laptop in its bag when you go through security as long as it meets new checkpoint friendly standards.

These bags should have a designated laptop-only section; they must completely unfold to lie flat on the X-ray belt; no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on top of the laptop-only section; no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section and packed in the laptop-only section other than the computer itself.

The TSA worked with laptop bag manufacturers to come up with the new standards. (Source: TSA press release).

Airline Eliminates Life Jackets
Air Canada Jazz is eliminating life-jackets, calling them redundant since seats act as flotation devices. Transport Canada permits flotation devices, like the seats, instead of life jackets if the planes fly within 90 kilometers of shore.

The seat cushions lift off and have restraints on the bottom through which passengers can slip their arms through. There will be life jackets available for infants. The idea is to save on weight
and fuel. (Source: Travel Pulse Daily).

United Furloughs Flight Attendants, Tests Charging for Meals Over Atlantic
United Airlines is furloughing 1,500 flight attendants as a result of flight reductions it announced this summer. That is about 10 percent of its cabin workers and part of its efforts to cut 7,000 jobs by the end of 2009. It also began testing charging for in-flight meals over the Atlantic.

On transatlantic flights out of Dulles, it is testing selling Buy on Board options, including sandwiches, salads and snack boxes. It will evaluate results at year’s end. (Source: press reports, United press release).

Americans Divided on Inflight Cell Phone Use
In-flight wireless services could presage in-flight cell phone use. Americans are divided on whether or not passengers should be able to use their cell phones in-flight, according to a study by the Department of Transportation.

The younger you are, the more likely you are to favor it-almost half (47.7 percent) of 18- to 34-year-olds approved of the idea. Only a quarter of those over 65 favored the move; those between 35 and 64 almost evenly divided-40 percent say they should allowed, 46 percent said they should not and the rest aren’t sure. Source: DOT press release).