By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published August 29, 2014
Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone! In this week’s edition Southwest labor relations turn sour, Qantas defers Dreamliners, smokes on a plane, and more…
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive 2014
Mediation: Is what the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) requested this week in an attempt to resolve ongoing contract issues between its members and their employer, Southwest Airlines. The carrier has agreed to the process, and the matter will proceed to the National Mediation Board (NMB). A federal mediator has already been assigned to the case.
The NMB cannot force a resolution, per se, but does work to bring about a resolution between the two parties. More importantly, if the NMB declares that the two cannot reach an agreement, it opens up either party to take more aggressive actions such as strikes and lockouts.
Like many labor disputes, the two have reached an apparent impasse over pay. The IAM charges, via a statement, that “management is hell-bent to move to a risky variable compensation system as opposed to offering guaranteed wage increases.” Southwest responded by saying it was “shocked and disappointed” by the request, saying via its own statement that it had sent over a proposal that was ignored by the IAM. The dispute has been ongoing since the previous contract ended in late 2012.
IAM represents around 6,000 employees at the Dallas-based carrier.
Southwest has historically had excellent labor relations, and many would argue that the relationship is still above average. But as profit margins have trended downward, the airline has been looking to cut costs, and employees are fighting back.
Unfortunately for them, their pay and benefits remain one of the juiciest fruits to squeeze. The carrier’s labor costs continue to spiral upwards at a concerning pace, growing 8.3% year-over-year (YOY) in the second quarter of 2014 and contributing to a 8.7% YOY rise in its contribution to operating costs per seat-mile.
Photo courtesy Boeing
First 787: Congrats are in order for Royal Jordanian, which received its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner this week. The Amman-based carrier will utilize the jet to replace older jets in its fleet. The jet is expected to serve routes to North America primarily, though will be found on routes to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, the company said.
The airplane is outfitted with 24 business class and 246 in economy.
Malaysia Airlines overhaul: Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from its double-hull losses from the past six months, announced it would be cutting 6,000 jobs – or about 30% of its current workforce. The move likely signals, though MAS hasn’t confirmed, a corresponding drop in capacity.
It was clear big changes were in the offing after the carrier was taken over by Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund and subsequently privatized.
Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive 2014
Qantas defers Dreamliners: In its ongoing battle against its own balance sheet, Qantas this week reported that it has deferred the first five jets in its 787-9 order. First reported by Australian Business Traveller, the airline pushed back delivery as it was due its first jets next year. It still maintains 50 options.
The carrier has been struggling financially for some time, and has been deferring wide-body deliveries such as its A380s for some time. Whether the jets, when and if delivered, will go to Qantas is another matter. The Aussie flag carrier has been spinning off its 787-8s to low-cost subsidiary Jetstar. It is believed that the LCC may wind up doing the vast majority of long-haul flights as Qantas International continues to whither.
All by myself: Want to fly your 12 to 14-year old on American? It’ll cost you an extra $150 each way to do it effective September 3rd. The carrier currently applies the charge up through age 11, and says it made the change to align with US Airways’ policy. For comparison, United charges $150 for ages 5-11, Delta charges $100 for 5-15, while Southwest charges $50 for ages 5-11.
Air New Zealand welcomes “new” 777-200: ANZ unveiled its first refurbished Boeing 777-200 late last Friday. The airplane’s new interior will match that of the carrier’s new 787-9, delivered only a few weeks back. Some highlights are the carrier’s unique Skycoach product, Panasonice eX3 IFE system, and a new business-class product. ANZ has eight of the jets.
Photos courtesy Air New Zealand
Can’t we all just get along?: The first of several diversion incidents this week took place on Monday aboard United 1462 as it made its way from Newark to Denver. Things got heated when a passenger in the Economy Plus cabin went to recline, only to discover the man behind her had installed a knee defender. In case you aren’t familiar, the $15 dollar device fits at the base of the fold-down tray, thus preventing the seat from reclining. United requested the offending passenger to remove the device, citing its policy of banning the device (as all US carriers do). The man refused, which prompted the woman whose seat the device was attached to turn around and throw a cup of water at him. The crew decided they’d have enough, and landed in Chicago. The two faced Chicago police at the gate. After an in-field investigation the airplane continued on to Denver without them, though neither was arrested.
It happened again on Wednesday, apparently, on an American flight from Miami to Paris. The airplane diverted after two people got into an argument. An on-board US federal air marshal wound up stepping in after one of the parties involved grabbed the arm of a flight attendant who attempted to break it up. He was arrested in Boston.
Photo by Raul Lieberwirth, creative commons
Smokes on a plane: Two Canadian women wound up causing a Sunwing flight from Toronto to Cuba to turn back over South Carolina, and apparently became concerning enough that the airline called in a military escort. Authorities say the women snuck into the restroom, where each downed a healthy dose of duty-free alcohol just to get the party started. It was followed up by lighting up some smokes, while still in the bathroom, which predictably set off the aircraft’s smoke detectors. Then they proceeded to fight with one another (presumably while still in the bathroom??), and threatened the airplane, which sealed their fate. The women were escorted off the airplane in Toronto, and promptly arrested. The two face a litany of charges including, but not limited to, smoking on an aircraft, mischief endangering life, uttering threats, and endangering the safety of an aircraft.
Moving on: I announce today, with a little sadness, that this is my last day on staff with Airchive, and thus my last TGIF. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to guide the site over the past year, and provide you, our readers, with news and information that matters in the aviation industry. And of course there were the great adventures that I will remember fondly, from the first A350 ride to the last DC-10. I’ll miss working with our talented staff, and look forward to seeing Airchive, now AirwaysNews, grow to even greater heights. As for me, you can keep in touch on Twitter: @photoJDL, or via my business site, JDLMultimedia.com. Thanks so much for tuning in!
From the editor-in-chief: Jeremy joined us as our first co-editor-in-chief one year ago this week, when Airchive began to morph from a largely historical site into what it is today. He has been a major force, working tirelessly and passionately to evolve Airchive (now AirwaysNews) into a respected, daily industry news source. During the year he has also become an expert in fighting jet lag. In his first weekend on the job he flew SEA-YYZ-LHR-LAX-SFO-SEA in what was only the beginning of a year that took him everywhere from Dhaka to Farnborough to Warsaw and many places in between. His leadership, creativity, artistic eye for photography, and all around grace will be missed by not only the staff, but me as well. I am sure our readers feel the same. We’re all better for having JDL in our midst and look forward to seeing what he does next.
Just a few days ago, Airchive relaunched as AirwaysNews. We will not miss a beat. Vinay Bhaskara will take over as interim co-editor-in-chief starting Tuesday, supported by our ever growing team of correspondents. We will be naming our new co-editor-in-chief soon.
In case you missed it, Airchive had a lot of great coverage right here. This week’s stories:
JAL Places Substantial Regional Jet Order
Airchive Rebrands and Re-launches as AirwaysNews
JetBlue Opens Hotel at JetBlue University
Southwest Unveils New “Listening Center”
PHOTOS: First Production Airbus A350 for Qatar
InFlight Review: KLM World Business Class: MD-11 Edition
American Airlines Drops Orbitz
PEOPLExpress expands to Orlando
GE-Powered Boeing 787-9 Receives Green-Light
BOC Aviation Places Order for 82 Boeing Jets
Storm Chasing with the Honeywell IntuVue NextGen Radar Onboard a Convair 580
Contact the editor-in-chief at Chris.Sloan@Airchive.com