FAA’s MAX 9 Investigation Begins
The FAA opened its formal investigation into the incident on Alaska Flight 1282 last week, and the government took the time to state the obvious to Boeing by saying the incident “should have never happened and it cannot happen again.”
The first action taken by the government last week was to let the airlines decide how to handle this, but then the next day it realized that was dumb and grounded the 171 B737-9 MAX aircraft in the country. Initial speculation that the grounding of the aircraft type would be short is quickly fading after both Alaska and United found bolts that needed tightening and other concerns with the hardware on the airplanes. Boeing has been given 10 days to present evidence or other supporting materials to the FAA on the plug door.
Alaska, along with United, are the only domestic carriers to operate the MAX 9. Alaska has 65 in its fleet, while United has 79. American thought it might have had some sitting around DFW somewhere, but it checked, and it doesn’t.
JetBlue’s CEO Swap
Joanna Geraghty will become the new CEO of JetBlue next month when current CEO Robin Hayes steps down, the airline announced this week. Hayes cited doctor’s advice as the reason for his resignation, which seems as good a reason as any to make up when we all know the real reason is the lack of explanation for the disappearance of blue chips onboard JetBlue flights.
Hayes had been with the carrier since 2008 and had been the CEO since 2015. Geraghty will officially take the the reins next month once she completes the traditional dunking of her head in a vat of blue paint supplied by Blue Man Group at the carrier’s Long Island City headquarters. She’s been at the airline for almost 20 years and has overseen its operation in her role as president.
Geraghty’s first major test will likely come right away as a ruling in the DOJ’s suit to block JetBlue’s purchase of Spirit is expected in the next couple of weeks. Her first few weeks on the job will be filled with either picking up the pieces from a failed takeover attempt or figuring out how to repaint all those yellow Spirit airplanes as quickly as possible.
Delta to Add 20 A350s
Delta Air Lines and Airbus announced today that the Atlanta-based airline will add 20 A350-1000s to its fleet, marking a new aircraft type for Delta.
Delta was the launch customer for the A350-900, and this version is expected to be better by exactly 100, which was the deciding factor for the carrier. Delta currently operates more than 450 Airbus planes, some of which reportedly fly routes that do not start or end in Atlanta.
Delivery on the -1000s is expected to begin in 2026, and will replace Delta’s much smaller, aging B767 fleet. The rack rate for the -1000 series planes was last listed at $366 million each, but it’s understood Delta managed to draw down the price by using Airbus’s cash + miles option.
As with all major aircraft purchases, Delta has 24 hours to change its mind and get a full refund, after which it can return the planes for a credit valid for one year from the purchase date. Changes to other aircraft are allowed without a fee, but a price difference could apply.
American’s AAdvantage ChAAnges for 2024
American announced tweaks to its AAdvantage program for 2024 and in a major plot twist — the changes don’t totally take customers out from behind the woodshed and beat them down.
Three new upgrade features include: 1) Cash upgrades will now earn miles an loyalty points, 2) systemwide upgrAAdes will be able to be processed online, and no longer require a call to reservAAtions, and 3) customers will be able to redeem miles on a greater number of partner carriers. Another change — and a clever one — is to limit many standard functions to AAdvantage members only. Those functions will include same-day standby, complimentary 24-hour ticket holds, and the ability to purchase lounge AAccess. (“Purchase lounge access? What’s that?” asks SkyMiles members.)
AAdditionally, AAdvantage members will continue to receive 12 months of credit validity, while non-members will only have six months to use credit for cancellations or changes which result in leftover value. The carrier is also running a test program in Charlotte where AAdvantage members who purchase basic economy and are sat in the cargo hold will be given an oxygen mask with enough oxygen for the entire flight while non-AAdvantage members will get whatever oxygen was left from the previous flight.
Lastly, the carrier also is adding Flagship First dining for elite members at a TBD cost — a change that will matter to a very small number of customers. New loyalty point reward options are also coming this year, giving customers the very meta option of choosing loyalty points as their loyalty points reward option.
Lufthansa Makes Concessions in Bid for ITA
Lufthansa submitted its proposal to the European Commission ahead of its January 15 deadline in its efforts to allay concerns over its initial 41% stake into ITA.
Both Lufthansa and the EC declined to say what the concessions were — the carrier previously offered to divest itself of several slots, especially at Milan/Linate where ITA is the dominant carrier. The European Commission can now either approve the transaction or open up a four-month investigation to further delve into the transaction. Since Italy is involved, we assume it will be the latter.
- Air Sénégal finally added the wet-leased capacity we were waiting for.
- Air Serbia is adding at least three more ATR72-600s.
- AirAsia is considering flights to Los Angeles. Wait ’til they hear about the traffic.
- AirAsia X is attempting to combine like terms to solve for X.
- Alaska is trying to shut the open door that is antitrust concerns in its merger with Hawaiian.
- ANA agreed to a codeshare partnership with ITA.
- Avianca has a hankering for smoked meat.
- Breeze FA’s are blowing towards joining a union.
- Canada Jetlines now has six airplanes. Some of them go places.
- Cathay Pacific is going to fly a little less for a few weeks.
- Cebu Pacific is probably going to order a lot of airplanes later this year.
- City Airlines, the new subsidiary from Lufthansa you didn’t know you needed got its first plane painted in its livery.
- EVA purchased 33 aircraft from Airbus, enough planes to potentially last the carrier foreva.
- Finnair named Turkka Kuusisto its new CEO. Reports say the new boss was chosen via a name generator designed to make up the most Finnish-sounding name ever.
- Jetstar Asia named John Simeone its new CEO.
- JSX hired Kerrie Forbes away from Southwest as its general counsel.
- Korean signed a SAF agreement.
- LATAM is giving five aircraft a fancy new paint job.
- Lufthansa will return to Tel Aviv on January 8 just in-time for Tu Bishvat.
- Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary would prefer Boeing design its aircraft so the doors remain attached during flight.
- SKY Express is adding ATR 72-600s.
- Singapore has a new lounge in Perth. Perth does not have a lounge in Singapore.
- South African returns to Perth on April 28. Perth does not return to South Africa.
- SpiceJet‘s thyme may be coming to an end.
- Spirit bode farewell to the spirits haunting Denver’s airport this week.
- Thai is resuming its dream of B787 service to Perth on March 31.
- Transavia took delivery of its first A320neo.
One of my oldest friends told me yesterday that I often make people uncomfortable by violating their personal space.
I thought telling me that right as I hopped into the tub was terrible timing and completely ruined our bath.