Tuesday, April 22, 2008

United Cuts More Domestic Capacity

More domestic capacity reductions, this time from United. And more indications that airlines are saying that lower-fare-paying customers (meaning you and me, most of the time) can take it or leave it.

Besides adding a dread Saturday-night-stay requirement to nonrefundable fares on 65 percent of its market, and raising the standard itinerary change fee from $100 to $150, United Airlines says today that it is “further shrinking 2008 mainline domestic capacity.” By the fall, domestic capacity will be down approximately 9 percent this year, United said. This is on top of a 5 percent reduction in the fourth quarter of 2007.

United -- which reported a first-quarter loss of $542 million -- also will unload 30 narrow-body aircraft from its fleet -- 10 to 15 more aircraft than initially announced last month.

United is “facing the realities of the marketplace and making the tough choices: aggressively managing our capacity, passing commodity costs onto customers where possible, and identifying new revenue opportunities,” said John Tague, EVP and chief revenue officer.

That means more focus on “our best guests”—customers paying the highest fares. United said it “continues to improve the experience for its premium customers” by “rolling out several new initiatives over the next quarter” including “a new Red Carpet Club in Chicago, free wireless at Red Carpet Clubs, new information displays at all hubs, custom dining in the first and business class cabins, and upgrades to all Pacific lounges.


And from Pro Pilot World, comes this humorous item – author and veracity unknown to me—that “has been circulating on the Internet for several years.” It has to do with airline maintenance and, while the focus is on Qantas, the item correctly notes that Qantas has never had a major accident:

""After every flight, Qantas Airline’s pilots fill out a form, called a “gripe sheet,”
which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form,
and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas’ pilots (marked with a P)
and the solutions recorded (marked with an (S) by maintenance engineers.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what they’re for.

P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.""


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