ERA named German operator Eurowings regional airline of the year at last month’s general assembly, 12 months after the German regional airline placed second in the competition. Eurowings attributes its success to its fleet mix and route network; an appropriate alliance policy with German flag carrier Lufthansa, which has an option to increase its 25-percent stake in the regional to 49 percent; and an attractive “customer product.”
Operator attendance at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) annual assembly in Athens last month was down about a third, as carriers reassessed fleet strategies under their “worst-ever trading conditions” following the U.S. terrorism attacks and an earlier economic downturn.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein has announced that his airline will begin training its pilots to carry taser weapons in the cockpit. A Mesa spokesperson said the airline expected to complete training and FAA coordination for the plan within three months. Mesa on October 17 began placing private security personnel on its airplanes based in Albuquerque, N.M.
Hesitant to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” Regional Airline Association president Debby McElroy applauded the Office of Management and Budget’s decision to allow bankrupt carriers, including RAA members Midway Airlines and Shuttle America, access to part of the $10 billion in loan guarantees signed into law as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act.
The September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon set the stage for an upheaval in the U.S. airline industry unseen since the dawn of deregulation. But while virtually no one besides the enemies of America welcomed the negative economic effects, some airlines may very well emerge from the crisis in a stronger competitive position.
The sagging market valuations of airlines across the U.S. since September 11 have prompted Continental Airlines to reconsider plans to spin off its wholly owned regional subsidiary into an independent entity. As a result, the airline has postponed its planned initial public stock offering of ExpressJet from parent company Continental Airlines until market conditions warrant renewed consideration of such a move.
James Schuster has been the chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft since 2001, and is also an executive vice president of Raytheon Co. He served as president of Raytheon’s Aircraft Integration Systems (AIS) in Waco, Texas, for two years before taking the helm of the Wichita-based aircraft division.
Delta Air Lines last month sold its equity position in SkyWest Airlines in a block trade of 6.2 million shares worth $125 million. Although the deal returns SkyWest to its former status as a fully independent entity, its code-share agreement with Delta will remain untouched, according to Delta CFO Michele Burns. “Delta has an excellent relationship with our partner SkyWest,” she said.
Less than six months after Shuttle America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Windsor Locks, Conn.-based de Havilland Dash 8 operator signed a new code-share agreement with US Airways covering new service from Boston Hanscom Field to Philadelphia and Trenton, N.J.
Potomac Air, the wholly owned US Airways Express carrier established in January as part of an asset divestiture plan for the failed merger agreement with United Airlines, ceased operations on October 6. The demise of the Washington-based subsidiary came as US Airways’ reduced capacity throughout its wholly owned Express system since September 11, a move that resulted in the furlough of 770 employees, including 170 at Potomac Air.