"Do you know that so-called volunteers don't even get paid?"

Looking for an easy entry in the airline industry?

Consider volunteering for Family Airlines. The Las Vegas startup needs people to work on US FAA manuals as the company maneuvers the regulatory process to fly widebody Boeing 747-400 aircraft from Las Vegas to major US cities.

Family Airlines founder and CEO Barry Michaels tells me he used craigslist to find executives and figured he would use it to locate volunteers as well.

Volunteers are reviewing completed Safety Attribute Inspection (SAI) manuals before documents are submitted the FAA, he says, adding materials will likely be turned in to FAA during the first week of October.


Read the complete craigslist posting.

If you're going to San Francisco

Acting FAA administrator Robert Sturgell will hold a press conference at San Francisco International Airport tomorrow to unveil environmental initiatives FAA is implementing in San Francisco, across the USA and in oceanic airspace.

Sturgell's announcement conveniently coincides with the arrival of “ASPIRE Flight 1,” an Air New Zealand flight between Auckland and San Fran that will use NextGen procedures and technologies.

The test flight "will demonstrate commercial aviation’s potential to reduce environmentally harmful emissions by millions of tons annually," FAA says in a statement.

San Fran mayor Gavin Newsome (pictured, swoon) is expected to attend, along with San Fran airport director John Martin and Air New Zealand


New Indian airport in the works

Plans for a new Indian airport in the in the western state of Maharashtra received approval from a central government committee, the Ministry of Civil Aviation says.

North of Goa, the forthcoming facility in Sindhudurg will cater to domestic traffic and "
could help in decongesting the Dabolim Airport in Goa," the committee says.

The state government of Maharashtra will seek bidders for airport construction.

Thanks to Nick Ionides in Flight's Singapore office for finding this story.


London shuffle

Does London Gatwick Airport have abandonment issues?

Yet another airline has announced it will leave Gatwick in favor of London Heathrow Airport this year.

Continental Airlines will end year-round service to Gatwick from Newark Liberty International and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental airports on October 25 to launch a third daily flight between Heathrow and Newark.

Is Heathrow cooler? Gatwick appears unpopular with passengers.

“Our customers have shown a clear preference for Heathrow, and our main competitors have focused their operations there. We regret the need to end year-round operations at Gatwick, but it is imperative that we remain competitive and continue to meet the needs of our customers,” Continental executive VP marketing Jim Compton says in a statement.

Airlines are willing to spend a lot on Heathrow. The Houston-based company paid millions on Heathrow slots--$116 million for summer slots last year and Continental has said it expects to pay $93 million for winter slots for New York and Houston flights this year.

Earlier in the year, American Airlines moved all its Gatwick operations to London Heathrow, ending a relationship that began in 1982.

Oneworld alliance member American used to fly from Gatwick to Dallas/Fort Worth International and Raleigh-Durham International airports.

The one bright spot for Gatwick is Continental's seasonal service between Cleveland Hopkins International Ariport and Gatwick will return in the summer, Continental spokesman Nic Britton says.

But that must feel like a consolation prize.


Busy bees

While the Air Transport Association of America's 2008 Economic Report focused on aircraft fuel efficiency, it also contained some interesting tidbits on busy airports.

New York City metro area airports were in 11 of the 12 most traveled domestic origin and destination (O&D) city pairs. New York and the Windy City averaged the most with 4,839 O&D passengers per day.

New York also plays well with Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, Las Vegas, West Palm Beach, Miami, Boston and Tampa. No surprises there.

Island hopping makes for another happening route. Honolulu-Kahului, the seventh most traveled domestic city pair, averaged 2,660 daily passengers each way. I plan on upping that number someday.

Atlanta ranked number one in annual passengers with 42.7 million travelers and 991,627 aircraft takeoffs and landings. Chicago O’Hare International Airport ranked second in both categories, with 34.2 million passengers and 926,973 operations.

Memphis International Airport remained the busiest air cargo facility, enplaning 2.2 million tons of freight and mail. How many Elvis love letters are included? Anyway, Louisville, Anchorage and Miami fall next in line for cargo bragging rights.

Fuel regulation

Federal regulation of fuel prices, open discussion among airlines about fares and increased foreign investment are among the temporary proposals the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) is promoting to combat record fuel costs.

"We're not calling for re-regulation ... [but we're] not calling for government to do nothing. Government does have a role to play," AAAE president Chip Barclay said during a press conference yesterday in Washington, DC.

Permanent regulation of fuel prices is not needed, but could be used during emergency situations, he says.

The trade group's Energy/Air Service Task Force created recommendations in the midst of reduced capacity and lost service at airports as disparate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Ohio's Toledo Express airport as airlines cut capacity to combat fuel costs.

Toledo lost half of its service when two airlines exited three marketsand departures at Atlanta are expected to be down 5% year over year from October.

The task force suggests, "government should temporarily direct emergency refining capacity to jet fuel if needed. The government should also take emergency steps to reduce or eliminate the non-cost-based 'spread' between jet fuel and other refined products of crude oil."

Limitations of foreign investment of US airlines should be temporarily suspended, Barclay says, noting much is made foreign interest in US carriers, but less so when foreign companies eye US carmakers.

As for pricing, the task force report says, "government should provide temporary anti-trust immunity to US airlines to meet and discuss routes and fares, under the supervision of Department of Justice and DOT, and with the participation of representatives of local communities. The goal of these conferences should be to maximize a national system of air services at the best possible cost to passengers."

L-R Tory Richardson, executive director of airports for Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority; Jim Elwood, AAAE 2008-2009 chair and airport director for Aspen-Pitkin County Airport; AAAE president Chip Barclay.
(Photo by Daryl Humphrey, AAAE art director)

Moving on up

AirTran Airways will relocate at Los Angeles International Airport, moving to Terminal 6 from Terminal 3 effective tomorrow.

Flights will depart from Gate 69A.

"We outgrew our space in Terminal 3," Tad Hutcheson, VP marketing and sales says in a statement.

AirTran links LAX with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.


Let the good times roll again

Louis Armstrong International Airport is open after Hurricane Gustav caused airport officials to close the New Orleans area facility on August 31.

AirTran Airways says it will resume service to my favorite US city this evening. Its full operations to and from the Big Easy will resume tomorrow.

Where have all the passengers gone?

The onslaught of capacity reductions taking place this fall does not bode well for airports dependent on revenues from passenger facility charges.

Airports large and small are being impact as airlines cut capacity and passenger levels drop, says the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). The trade group's Energy/Air Service Task Force final report is available today.

A quick breakdown:

  • Total system arrivals and departures are expected to drop 7.3% between October 2007 and October 2008, according to the Official Airline Guide (OAG).
  • Carriers have eliminated service on more than 400 routes since March 2008, the The US House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee on aviation reports.
  • Airlines have already abandoned 60 communities and roughly 40 more will lose service this year, says The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) The airline trade group also says it is “not unrealistic” to expect as many as 200 communities could lose air service by early 2009.

AAAE will make policy recommendations. I'll blog about that after the press conference.