The special More to Love livery at SFO – Photo: Alaska Airlines
We are a go! The merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America is official. To help celebrate, and welcome new members to the family, Alaska created a special “More to Love” livery on one of their Boeing 737-900ERs. What better way to bring two airlines together?
The painted engine on the special liveried 737 – Photo: Alaska Airlines
It is not a big surprise that the merger finalized, but the journey wasn’t exactly easy. Although many questions still remain, when things are said and done, the new combined airline will have about 1,200 daily departures to 118 destinations, with hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon. They will also have a fleet of about 286 aircraft — the future of the Airbus fleet has not yet been finalized.
Emirates buying part of Qatar Airways? Yeah, no. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
I spend a lot of time on this place called the Internet. You’ve probably heard of it. I will admit that I dwell within the fringes and depths of it to find interesting aviation rumors and innuendo. Sometimes, however, they are so comical it just takes a look at Twitter to find some comedy gold. My friend Ben over at One Mile at a Time (you’ve heard of him)… well, he posted a summary of an article that he found on a paragon of virtue called Zerohedge saying that rumors were flying that Emirates sought a majority or, at least, a large stake in their rival down the track in Doha.
Qatar Airways has friends outside the gulf. What would they stand to gain? – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Now that you’ve stopped laughing the first time, let me just say that again. There are rumors that Emirates wants to purchase a large stake in Qatar Airways.
Let me put this in big bold letters so that I can give you a summary: EMIRATES WILL NEVER PURCHASE A LARGE STAKE IN QATAR AIRWAYS!!!!
Well, why not? I’m so glad you asked.
US Airways Airbus A330 and American Airlines Boeing 777. Image from American.
Ever since American Airlines declared bankruptcy in November 2011, Doug Parker from US Airways has been on the prowl to snap up the airline and merge. Talk of a possible merger has remained around the aviation world since then, and in some cases it has been discussed to the ends of the earth. It really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when news that the two airlines would merge started to leak last night.
The two airlines will combine and create one of the world’s largest airlines. The combined entity will lose the US Airways name and will become a member of oneworld. The “New American Airlines” will strengthen oneworld with a combined network of 336 locations in 56 countries offering 6700 daily flights.
“Today, we are proud to launch the new American Airlines – a premier global carrier well equipped to compete and win against the best in the world,” said Tom Horton, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of American Airlines. “Together, we will be even better positioned to deliver for all of our stakeholders, including our customers, people, investors, partners, and the many communities we serve.”
The New Merging Couple, US Airways and the New American Airlines Liver – Image: American Airlines
What does this mean for the traveling public? The two airlines will continue to operate separately for quite sometime and it might be a while before most passengers see any real changes. But here is the basic run down:
- The US Airways brand will be transitioned to the new unveiled American Airlines brand and look.
- The head quarters of the new American will be located in Dallas Fort-Worth.
- All hubs will remain in the combined operation: Dallas, Miami, JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, Washington D.C. (National) & Los Angeles.
- US Airways will leave Star Alliance and the new combined airline will continue with oneworld
- American CEO Tom Horton will continue to be to the chairman — for now.
- US Airways Dividend Miles will no longer exist and will be merged into AAdvantage (but as to when this still has not been announced).
- They will continue to grow the combined airline taking delivery of over 600 new aircraft (including Boeing 777-300ERs & 737-800, Airbus A350s, A320 & A321 NEOs) and retiring the older aircraft (ie MD-80’s).
How will this livery look on an Airbus A330? Image from American.
The new airline does not expect many jobs will be lost due to the two airlines not having much overlap. “We’re not anticipating any major layoffs,” said US Airways CEO Doug Parker according to the Airline Biz Blog. “The airline will be based in Dallas-Fort Worth and some people won’t want to move from Phoenix [US Airways is based there]. Most of this well take care of itself.”
When the Airline Biz Blog asked the airline CEOs about their regional counterparts (American Eagle and US Airways Express), they explained that they want to concentrate on the mainline before looking at the regional carriers. “We’ll keep them as part of the larger airline,” Parker explained. “It’s one of those things we’ll have to work on over time, but certainly there’s nothing to announce.” Horton was asked about the possibility of the regional carriers being spun off and responded, “We’ll keep them as part of the larger airline. It’s one of those things we’ll have to work on over time, but certainly there’s nothing to announce.”
With an on-board premium product that is already similar (US Airways Envoy class uses the same seats that the New American airlines does on their 777-300ER) and with a modern fleet, we can hope that this will be a positive match. It is likely that AA/US do not plan to experience some of the same issues that plagued the United/Continental merger and as long as everything goes smoothly, the new American will be official once it clears bankruptcy court in the 3rd Quarter of 2013.
MORE AMERICAN AIRLINES / US AIRWAYS MERGER STUFF:
Story written by Malcolm Muir and David Parker Brown
United aircraft in new and old livery.
Being the world’s largest airline has its benefits, but there are also going to be negatives. The larger and more complicated you are, the more that can go wrong. Then add in a merger to the mix and you are just asking for trouble.
United Airlines had a bit of a challenging week this last week and it raises some questions. Even though some mistakes were made, it was sad to see how much of the media grabbed on to the stories, even after the stories were already resolved. Let’s take a closer look at what happened:
UNITED CHANGES ON TWITTER
Previously, United and Continental had two separate Twitter accounts (@UnitedAirlines and @Continental). United had about 194,000 followers and Continental had about 144,000. Having 338,000 followers is quite impressive, but this is where things go wrong. Twitter told United that they can’t combine both accounts. It seems silly that Twitter wouldn’t budge, even for money, but I guess that is how it goes. That didn’t mean that United had to give up all their followers.
With Twitter you can change your account name and still keep your followers. So the question becomes, should the new United take the old United account or the Continental? Sure, alienating either group of followers isn’t the best idea, but neither is giving up 338k followers to start a brand new account — which is exactly what United did.
I really like the idea of United changing their Twitter handle to just “@United,” but they have had one heck of a time getting anyone to follow. Out of 338,000 followers, as of late Friday there are just short of 10,000.
Since the new “@United” handle has been used, it has mostly been interacting with customers who have had bad experiences. Sure, it is great to reach out to your Twitter followers to help them, but if someone just reads the Twitter feed, it looks like nothing goes right at the airline. When responding to a poorly placed ad (see below), they sent the exact same message to over 100 people. That is not the proper way to handle the situation. It is okay to post just one reply to everyone.
I think Delta Air Lines has a slick system with @Delta to keep positive @DeltaAssist to help travelers with issues and @DeltaNewsroom to interact with media. That way fans of the airline that are watching @Delta see positive and helpful information and those customers who have issues still get help by @DeltaAssist.
AD IN NEW YORK CITY
Honestly, I wouldn’t have even known about this ad, except for the fact that United was apologizing to hundreds of people about the ad via Twitter. Anyhow, it looks like United put up an ad that states by ground zero in New York City stating, “You’re going to like where we land.” Okay, maybe not the best call, but come on people. This was an outside ad agency that placed the ad. Do you really think United wants to be associated with what happened on 9/11? They made a mistake, they are correcting it, they are apologizing, now let’s all move on.
REINSTATING 9/11 FLIGHT NUMBERS
With the merger of United and Continental, a computer system assigned the old flight 93 and flight 175 to current Continental Airlines flights. Currently, all flights fly both as United and Continental, so it would appear that United flight 93 and 175, which were involved in 9/11, were flying again. It was an honest mistake that was unintentional.
This was not a group of employees sitting around and deciding to re-instate the old flight numbers. It was more disturbing how big this story got versus what actually happened. Even after the flight numbers were explained, I saw legitimate news sources still waving the “omg why would United do this?” blame flag. I ended up more disappointed in the media than I did with the airline on this one.
New Branding at Chicago
CUSTOMER DAY ONE
Say what? I wonder if many of you even know about this. On Wednesday United unveiled their new look and brand at their main hub at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). United put up all new signs and there are no more tulips to be seen. Even though it is sad to see the tulips go, this was a big day for United, their employees (Continentals too) and even for the city of Chicago. Unfortunately this story got shoved under the rug due to all the other things going on this week.
United might have dropped the ball a few times, but what company doesn’t? It just seems that airlines get unfair attention put on them when they do mess up and it keeps the idea that airlines are some evil company.
We can only hope that next week will be better!