Bavarian regional airline Augsburg Airways, wholly owned by Germany’s Haindl family, hopes to approach break-even margins by the end of this year following a massive restructuring effort. Begun March 29 with a contract to revamp a six-year-old marketing relationship with Lufthansa Airlines, the overhaul has resulted in the loss of some 140 jobs and the grounding of five airplanes.
Obstacles against the development of a thriving regional airline industry in Latin America in many respects look as formidable as ever. Lack of capital availability, inadequate airport infrastructure, government interference and a lack of open-skies treaties between nations continue to hinder progress in a region that, in terms of sheer size, holds as much potential for growth as any other in the world.
Regional Aviation Partners (RAP), the new Phoenix-based lobbying organization established by Mesa Air Group chairman Jonathan Ornstein as an advocate for small-community air service, has attracted its first new airline member and a pair of high-profile regional aircraft manufacturers in time for the start of the next congressional session this month.
An RAA fall meeting understandably marked by apprehension and uncertainty also assumed a palpable air of cynicism this year, as an industry whose fate appeared so dubious after 9/11 continues to grapple with the consequences of the U.S.
Morrisville, N.C.-based Midway Airlines’ plans to emerge from oblivion as a US Airways Express carrier appear to be derailed once again until at least January, while management scrambles to secure the financing needed for its proposed fleet of Bombardier CRJs. The bankrupt airline, grounded since mid-July, hoped to resume operations in October to provide feed for US Airways. The two airlines have now set a new target date of January 15.
Sagging operational and financial fortunes at Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Great Lakes Aviation have prompted Tennenbaum & Co. to withdraw its offer to buy the former United Express affiliate’s outstanding shares of common stock for $4 a share. In a letter to Great Lakes’ board, Tennenbaum suggested a merger of the Frontier Airlines code-share partner with another turboprop operation to increase its attractiveness to potential investors.
French regional airlines AOM and Air Liberté have escaped the jaws of bankruptcy through their purchase by an Air France pilot. The airlines–formerly owned by SAirGroup and French investment firm Taitbout Antibes–expect to shed 1,800 jobs, restructure and adopt a new name as part of a plan to form a viable rival to Air France.
With the U.S. economy vacillating between recession and recovery for most of the year, no one was terribly surprised when the Department of Labor reported that unemployment figures climbed to nearly 6 percent in October. And as a wavering marketplace goes, so too does the use of business aircraft and hence the need for qualified professionals to staff them.
While people dealing in pre-owned turboprops are not exactly doing cartwheels over the state of their industry these days, most are optimistic that the downward spiral seems to be flattening out. They cite an apparent leveling of prices, which is bringing buyers back into the marketplace, and more favorable insurance rates.
On November 5, U.S. voters will determine whether Republicans or Democrats have the majority in the House and Senate, and how this pans out has obvious importance to the Bush Administration. In the Senate, where the Democrats enjoy a one-vote majority, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who may have aspirations to run for president in 2004, has been a constant thorn in the side of President Bush by holding up progress on a number of bills.