Airlines News February 2007

Third Quarter Air Travel Index Hits 11 Year High:
The Air Travel Price Index (ATPI) for the third quarter of 2006 reached the highest third-quarter level recorded in 11 years, 7.5 percent higher than the previous third quarter high in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The fare index rose 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2006 from the third quarter of 2005, the biggest year-to-year rise since third quarter 2000.

While reaching a third-quarter high, the ATPI declined 2.6% from the record high set in the second quarter of 2006. Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors. (Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics press release).

FAA Reports Third Annual Drop in Air Traffic Control Staff:
Air traffic controller staffing levels have dropped for the third straight year, to a new low of 14,206, according to the most recent Federal Aviation Administration “Administrator’s Fact Book.”

The fact book reports that the overall total number of controllers working in its 300- plus facilities dropped from 14,227 at the end of fiscal year 2005 to 14,206 in fiscal year 2006. The figures are listed as being current as of October 31, 2006, taking into account hiring and attrition statistics a full month into the current fiscal year.

Controller staffing totals reached as high as 15,386 as recently as September 2003. But a year later, in October, 2004, the FAA reported that total had fallen to 14,736 as the long-expected controller retirement wave began to increase in size. (Source: National Air Traffic Controllers Association press release).

BA, Air France to Launch Clear at JFK:
Air France is sponsoring the Clear Registered Traveler program at John F. Kennedy International’s Terminal 1. This means all airlines from Terminal 1, and their passengers, can take advantage of the Clear program.

The program allows business traveler and other frequent fliers to pay an annual fee of $99.95 and provide background information about themselves to the Transportation Security Administration for pre-screening.

If approved, they get a biometric ID card that gives them expedited access through airport security checkpoints. Last month, British Airways opened its Clear Lane at JFKs Terminal 7. (Source: Air France press release).

Air Canada Relocates U.S. Transborder Flights to Pearson Terminal 1:
Air Canada has relocated all of its U.S. transborder Toronto flight to Terminal 1 at Pearson International Airport. This means all of Air Canada’s U.S. operations out of Toronto have been consolidated with its current domestic and international operations in the terminal.

Air Canada will no longer operate from Terminal 2. Air Canada expects this to dramatically improve the customer experience, reducing distances between gates and making connections much easier. (Source: Air Canada press release).

Virgin Atlantic Brings To Chicago an Antidote to Transatlantic Travel:
Virgin Atlantic announced their newest route from Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow, aptly named The High Riser, to honor those pioneers who envisioned a city that could touch the sky, and for today’s jetsetters who elevate business to new heights. Daily service commences April 23, 2007.

Increased Air Passenger Duty Levied By The UK Government:
From February 1, 2007, the UK Government has increased Air Passenger Duty (APD) from £20 to £40 per passenger for Economy passengers, and £40 to £80 per passenger for Premium Economy and Upper Class passengers. The tax applies to every passenger (excluding infants and some transit passengers) leaving on a flight from any UK airport. APD is a government tax which has been paid by passengers since it was introduced 13 years ago.

The government says the extra APD raised will be targeted at helping our environment and tackling climate change.